January 1, 2012

2011 Year-in-Review

I almost prefaced this post by saying that I didn't have much of a 2011 recap to write because I only got Contender in November.  But that only lasted a few seconds before I remembered the dramatic changes that occurred in my equine life this year. The condensed version:

I begin taking lessons with my trainre.  After an assessment lesson, she put me in a Dressage saddle and kept me there until further notice

Dillon, my gentlemanly schoolmaster
The weather was awful, but no matter the temperature, we rode!  My trainer blew my mind by equating lunging aids with riding aids, and I began to notice that the devil really is in the details.  I rode Bella the Wonder Pony, and rode my first Dressage test and realized that my seat aid actually does matter.  I saw Contender with my own eyes for the first time, and was enchanted but realistic about my ability to train and afford a horse.  Dressage beat me down again and again, but I kept on coming back for more, along with my trusty steed, Dillon.

I realized that my canter was a real weak point, and both did something about it and had success in lateral movements (finally!).  Bella the Wonder Pony and I had one final rematch in Cincinnati, and eleven weeks after starting at my barn I was finally ready to ride in a close contact saddle again.  I ended March in tears during a lesson.

I started riding Mac, and also started jumping again.  I had a huge breakthrough at the shoulder in, and also a huge mental breakthrough over fences. My trainer took a lesson hiatus.

July 2011 photos.  Looking at it now, all I see is: WTF LEFT HAND?!

No lessons due to my trainer's hiatus.

Lessons began again at the end of the month, and I ended up not showing in 2011 as a result.  My trainer came back with a vengeance (in a good way!) after spending her entire hiatus doing tons of research and reading.

I improved my riding by getting in shape, and finally got to see some pictures of myself with my new position.

I watched an event for the first time, and finally started to feel really good over fences.  Lisa and I showed twelve Cobs at the WPCSA show, and I had a blast riding Aviator in the Ridden Cob class.  At the WPCSA show, I got to ride Contender for the first time, and despite the big stupid grin on my face, I still looked at him as if he was going to be sold to someone else and kept my emotional distance.  After his owner went to college, I started riding Adagio and really had a chance to fine-tune both my flat and my fences.

Adagio and I really hit it off over fences, and I started to really relax over fences for the first time in my life.  I ended the month by facing some old fears and jumping 2'3 - and it wasn't scary at all!  I started to feel like I could be a real eventer someday.

I got even more comfortable over fences, rode Contender to a Supreme Champion Welsh title at the Octoberfest Charity Horse Show, and cantered him on the cross-country course.  I showed IHSA Alumni division and got a rematch against Einstein, which ended just as badly when I was two years out of school as it did when I was a senior in college.  Though I did get some sweet satisfaction in winning the alumni flat class against my former teammate and instructor.  And finally, Lisa made me an offer I couldn't refuse on Contender, and my trainer opened some doors to make it work, and Contender became mine!


I learned just how much difference one hole makes as far as stirrup length goes, wrote out my Christmas list, discussed the trials of dealing with Reynauds as an equestrian, cruised over a 2'6 oxer on Adagio, and begrudgingly accepted blankets into my life.  Finally, I took delivery on, and rode, my pony at the barn for the first time.

My 'stirrup length matters'

I discovered that work makes him hard to catch, and started using the walk-down method to deal with it.  My trainer pointed out that I needed to ride with a stronger seat and core to be able to deal with young horse shenanigans, and I realized that through Crossfit, I'm developing the core to ride that strongly.  Mary stopped in to ride Contender, and Contender and I took the first of many upcoming confidence-building trail rides.  It only really got cold twice in December, (HALLELUJAH!), and I finally body clipped my wooly mammoth.  Finally, we ended 2011 with our first jumping lesson, and a second jumping lesson that gave me a glimpse of what's to come.

Happy New Year!

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