Saturday, January 17, 2015

New Year, New Perspective, New Horse

Well, 2015 did not start out the way I had hoped, what with a fairly significant riding accident, and what I planned to be doing this month has not yet come to fruition (lots and lots of riding). 2014 definitely was the Year of the Horse for me, even though I didn't end up purchasing my own horse as I had hoped. I rode more in 2014 than I have in years, and improved so much, that I am thrilled. I even lost a whole bunch of weight (just about 18lbs), which I am desperately trying to keep off during this month of forced (relative) inactivity.

Since the early spring of 2014, I have been focused on improving my dressage skills, and because of the generosity of a new friend, I was able to lease Silver's Destiny, a 14h Welsh/TB cross pony mare with the capability of First Level work. It took a while for us to build our partnership, but we were able to do some really good things together, earn some respectable scores, win a couple of classes, and try out the First Level work. Unfortunately, she and I are not continuing into 2015 together, but I have been so very grateful for the opportunity to ride and care for her for the large majority of last year. I can't wait until the Virginia Dressage Association - Central Chapter end of year banquet tonight to find out how we did in the placings overall for Introductory Level!

Toward the end of the year, I started riding a mare, Something Victorious (AKA Flicka), a 15.1h Arab/TB cross that belongs to my trainer. Beautiful, forward-moving, graceful, she was MUCH different than Destiny, and I loved riding her. Another teenage girl at the barn has been riding her for the past couple of years, too, and I considered taking this mare on for 2015. A little less well-schooled, definitely NOT bombproof in the least, but still safe and willing. We did some nice work, rode out on the trail, and I never had a problem catching her in the field. I rode her in the last schooling show of the season, receiving not-terrible scores, and learned what to do when your horse totally freaks out during your test (answer: keep moving forward). She is the mare I was riding the Sunday after Christmas when I fell. Totally NOT bombproof, indeed.

I also rode my trainer's gelding, Reiner, a Dutch WB/Arab cross, about 16.something hands, grey, lovely mover who covers some serious ground. A little lazy when he isn't fit (and he isn't fit, really), but comfortable and fun to ride. He's TALL, and it's been so long since I rode a horse over 14h that he feels like a skyscraper, but I like the way I look on him, and he seems to fit me. I've only ridden him maybe two or three times -- once in a lesson -- but I think he might be my guy. Not loving the Arab in him, since I generally think Arabs are nutty, flighty creatures (and this was fairly proven the Sunday after Christmas...), but the warmblood part of him seems to be more prevalent. Of course, I rode him in a lesson, we did some First Level work, and then he was lame. Thankfully, it was only an abscess, which blew out of his heel a week or so ago, and now he is fine. He'll be who I get on, when I get back to riding.

And so far, tentatively, that day is Tuesday, January 27th. I'm going helmet shopping with a friend on Saturday the 24th, and then on Tuesday, I will ride. I can hardly stand it, the not riding. Thursday, I spent part of the afternoon watching my trainer and others have their lessons with Debbie Rodriguez, and I just wanted to ride so badly. Ugh. Soon, soon.

2014 was a great year for my riding. I can't believe how different I look, how much better I have been riding, and how much things have changed. I found two pictures of myself that Travis took, one in April of 2014 and one this past December. I was completely astonished by the difference in the way the photos look. Two different horses, yes, but everything about me is different in the December photo. Amazing. That's what good instruction and lots of practice gets you. Thanks so much, Wanda. I'd never have gotten this far without your excellent guidance. I can't wait to see what I look like at the end of 2015!