Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy 2010!

I'm looking forward to the new year and kicking the horse riding schedule back into shape.

2009 was a good year for us. In late December, I was still focusing on McKinna, riding her in Pony Club lessons and mostly worrying about getting enough weight on Pandora. By early January I rode Pandora in a jumping clinic and was starting to consider that she might be a decent jumping horse ;-)

I didn't really have much in the way of specific goals for the year - I wanted to ride BN or N at Inavale's recognized HT, but that didn't happen because it was just too expensive. I also sort of wanted to sell Pandora over the summer, but see where that went!

But we still made a lot of good progress. In Pony Club, it took me just over a year (September 08 to October 09) to go from unrated to C-1, and I finally took that last rating on my own horse instead of McKinna.

At Lily Glen in May, Pandora and I schooled some solid Novice-level XC fences and it felt great. Later in the summer we ran into some rushing issues, and we still haven't fully resolved those, but I know we will. I wish I could have taken Pandora to the eventing camp at Inavale, but she wound up with a stone bruise or something so I took McKinna.

Still, we came a long way and I'm very pleased with her. I started last January just wanting to get a walk, trot, and canter that wasn't jackhammering on the forehand. We're still working on keeping off the forehand, but at a much higher level!

I'd like to have some more specific goals this year so that next year I can have more measurable standards. As time goes by I know I will add specific monthly goals, but here are some of the big things I'm aiming for this year.

1. Pass my C-2 rating this spring or summer.
I spent a lot of time climbing the beginning of the ratings ladder because it's the key to some opportunities in Pony Club - C versus D camp, the group you're set with in PC clinics, certain levels you can compete in at rallies. Now that I'm finally a C, I feel more comfortable that my rating reflects my actual level. But, I feel that I can reasonably achieve C-2 this year.
Then I'm only one step away from a national rating!

2. Master Novice-level eventing.
This is a bit of a stretch for me to think of right now. We're dealing with big rushing issues on XC and our dressage is fairly sub-par. (Notice I said master Novice, not just 'get around.') But we can make a lot of progress in a year. I think with consistent effort and more lessons, we can do it.

2b. Corollary: start schooling Training-level stuff.
The partner to mastering Novice, of course, is beginning to school Training. That means bigger and more complicated questions on XC and SJ as well as a higher level of dressage. However, I'm definitely not looking to master Training - just start thinking about it and pushing ourselves further. I'm specifically thinking that for this goal I will trailer to Inavale to take some lessons with the trainer there and tell her what I'm looking for. (Obviously this goal happens after I achieve 2, or at least in tandem.)

3. Keep my tack consistently clean.
I've already gotten started on this one by keeping a damp rag sprinkled with leather cleaner in the tack room and wiping down my tack after every ride. It's good for me, good for my tack, and means less time spent scrubbing and scrubbing before rallies or ratings.

4. Get a dressage saddle that fits.
Hopefully well on the way to this one. We sold our Stubben because the only one of us it fit was Pandora, and one out of four isn't good enough! Mom just bought a used Kieffer and will have it fitted to McKinna, and I have my eye on two different saddles, a Collegiate and a Thornhill. I love my jumping saddle and I can't wait to have a dressage saddle that I appreciate just as much.

5. Kill the Judge Stand Monster.
Pandora harbors a deathly fear of the judge's stand in dressage arenas, which is kind of annoying. I mean, she doesn't take off bolting or anything, but she's normally so calm and focused that it's frustrating to have such a tense horse in the actual dressage arena. I think through a combination of schooling creativity at home and taking her out to more shows with dressage portions, I can get rid of this.

6. Stick to a fitness schedule for myself.
If my horse is going to be fit, I need to be fit too. This really shouldn't be too hard. I already got into the habit of running at the rec center on campus a couple times a week, so I'm just going to bump it up to more times per week and add some simple strength training.

7. Take monthly progress reports.
I want to get in the habit of taking conformation shots and a monthly evaluation, on THIS blog, of our progress toward not just our little goals but the big yearlong ones too. I think this will help keep me on track and provide a visual reference for the conditioning progress we make.

To get all that done, there are all the smaller daily and weekly and monthly goals: school fences once a week, take lessons as often as possible, follow a conditioning schedule faithfully, get out to school XC, ride trails, drag myself out for a run even when I don't feel like it, read training books to stay motivated, and all that.

Tomorrow, I'm going to put up some pictures of Pandora to begin satisfying goal number 7 up there. We've got the raw material: she's got a base of fitness, she's in good weight, and we're ready to go. I'm excited to see what the year brings - and happy new year to you all!


Leah Fry said...

Some ambitious goals, there. Happy New Year and good luck with Pandora.

manymisadventures said...

I like to dream big! :-)

Albigears said...

Hahaha, let me know your techniques for killing the judge stand monster...!

Val said...

Exciting goals! If you are in the market for a new (or used) dressage saddle, please look at Albion.
Good luck for the new year!

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