Wednesday, June 25, 2014

2014 Goals

So, June might be an odd time to decide goals for the year... but better late than never, right?

It continues to be a busy year, and I just finished what feels like months of endless travel. My husband and I were lucky enough to get to Italy for a two week vacation in May/June, and I just returned from an amazing trip to Wyoming for work. I feel like I should have been born to cattle ranchers, if that wouldn't mean that my parents weren't my parents. I still might go be a cowgirl one day, but for now I settle for my great barn family and sweet little Abbey.

I got bitten by the show bug last summer when Abbey and I went to a circuit show with our trainer and some other barn people just to tag along and see what it was all about. It was great. Except for that I knew how much it costs, even at the more local level and not even if we were going to compete in everything. We are sticking to the western riding disciplines. So, immediately I began dreaming of gleaming crystals on my jacket, suede chaps, and a hat more expensive than I wanted to imagine even existed. I began slowly inching towards the edge of the cliff, bolstered by bargain finds on eBay for my custom, top-grain chaps (used), and a show shirt that I loved and got (used) for a steal. I found a quality show saddle (really used) and spent a whole weekend cleaning it. And I rode. Abbey stayed in full training all winter. I took lessons once a week as often as my travel allowed. We battled her ulcers, came through that well, started working around her heat cycles (mares, can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em) and I felt like I had a handle on that with just expecting less certain weeks.

Then I jumped off the cliff. I bought hair extensions for a 900 pound animal's tail that cost the equivalent of more than two of my own hair appointments for a cut and color. I bought that hat and still want to puke when I think about it, or wear it all the time every day to get my money's worth out of it and even then I'm not sure that would ever happen. I totaled up the amount of money I have spent on this hobby.Shit. My husband was right. Taking up flying or hot air ballooning or summiting  Mount Everest would have been more fiscally sound decisions.

I agreed to send her to a show with my trainer while I was still in Italy to hopefully get her ready for me to show in July... terrifying! I can only imagine what a parent must go through when they send their kid off to camp the first time. I tried to stay calm and hope for a good report when I got home...

After two wonderful weeks in Italy traversing hundreds of miles of countryside, culture, and history, we were abruptly brought back to reality when we were met with a dog who literally almost died of a broken heart after thinking we'd abandoned her. (that's a whole other story, but thankfully she is pulling through, mostly thanks to my amazing husband who gave her puppy massages and hand fed her for weeks.) What about my horse?!?! My trainer's phone was dead the whole time she was at the show (grrr), so I had no idea what the outcome of the trip was. I took it as a sign that I just needed to be patient and I would find out what was up in due time.

Well, Abbey was rotten, horrible, a downright itch that starts with a capital B. The phone being dead was a blessing. She was so bad that my trainer couldn't even ride her after two days of desensitization with lunging and walking and standing, repeat. What. The. Hell. They left early because she was so bad. She was dangerous to herself and to the others around her. Not okay.

So, I found that out the day after I came home to my deathly-ill dog, and stayed away from the barn for a week. I was just mad. Mad at my horse for being a horse. Silly, right? Mad that I have spent thousands of dollars on tack, clothes, and training to hear, "Well, we just may not get her shown this summer. She just needs to go to every show to get used to it." I must have missed that money tree growing in my back yard...

So, what to do? The goals are still there that I "set" a year ago. Go show. Be prepared. Ride well. I guess I could ride around the barn in my hat that cost more money than anything else I have ever bought except my horse and saddle... but that seems a little silly.

My trainer and I both came up with the same idea - Abbey needs to have her little teenage world rocked. No more group turn-out, more time in her stall, and some little day trips to get her used to being okay with change, and trusting that we always get to come back home and that her people are looking out for her. I have to have faith that it will work out, because the alternative means walking away from a dream I've been dreaming since I can remember.

We are supposed to go to a show in a few weeks... I hope that we can get through the next few and execute some of these training plans with her. I hope that she isn't possessed by a demon horse spirit... I can't even imagine her being that way, since she is so awesome even on her bad days at home. I hope that she can trust that I always have her back. I hope that we can have fun. I hope that I can face the fear of failure and do it with confidence and a smile because at least I had the courage to try. I hope that I'm not critically injured. I hope I can remember why I started down this path.

Wasn't this post about goals?
  1. Love my horse unconditionally each and every day.
  2. Listen to the lessons I am learning from her about patience, joy, perseverance, living in the moment, making plans, not counting my chickens, tomorrow is a new day, never take your health for granted, and ride the horse you have that day.
  3. Keep my horse as healthy as I can.
  4. Train Abbey to be calm and workable in new environments.
  5. Don't get scared when things don't work out the first time, or the second time, or....
  6. Live within a horse budget (TBD).
  7. Wear all my show clothes at a show and show my horse in 2014.
  8. Show in pleasure class.
  9. Show in horsemanship class.
  10. Show in trail.
  11. Walk over bridges.
  12. Side pass over rails.
  13. Simple lead change with two beats in between.
  14. Flying lead change.
  15. Lope the pinwheel.
  16. Go on some trail rides with friends.
  17. Learn how to hook up a trailer, load my horse, and driver her safely.
  18. Win a ribbon, any color, at a show.
  19. Be able to keep my horse trained and conditioned through the fall and winter with minimal help from trainer (save some $$).
  20. Make plans for 2015 show season. Four shows would be good, maybe five.
In the mean time, Abbey pulled a shoe (shoes are also something I said I would never do, but understand why they are important for showing on hard concrete all weekend) and somehow got her right hind leg all swollen. The downside, more vet bills (peanuts compared to that hat). The upside, it happened two days before the farrier and vet were scheduled to come out, I learned how to use poultice and wrap a standing bandage (thank you YouTube, the farrier didn't charge to reset the shoe, and the vet suspects a bad bruise on the bone rather than more serious soft tissue damage or a break after the X-ray came back clean. My show dream is limping along.