May as Well Event
posted a really fun photo challenge to share one horsey photo for each of the last 10 years. This was SO HARD for me because a) for a significant portion of that time I had 5+ horses and b) I have LITERALLY thousands of photos I love, of just the horses or of me riding, due to my 2010 graduation gift of a nice DSLR and then my penchant for amateur photography and/or demanding that DH photograph even the most basic of rides. So just understand this was agonizing, lol.
|Photo by Quadropod Photography|
is actually the perfect time to start this challenge, as it's when I bought my first Andalusians, which changed the trajectory of my life forever (no exaggeration, I'm not trying to be melodramatic). I bought them in June, immediately sent Tres off to a trainer, she showed successfully at Andalusian Nationals, and then I took her to a show solo in October. It was... not a great experience in that I had no idea what I was doing and she was still super green, but things really clicked for us in this hunt seat equitation class and I will always love this photo of her (please ignore whatever it is I'm doing, which is clearly not hunt seat equitation 🙈).
|Photo by Bob Langrish|
, I didn't ride much. I ended up winning a breeding (which created Cinna) so Tres was bred and then I had a training partnership start Topaz. Things in my professional life were starting to unravel and that occupied most of my mental energies, so riding took a backburner and I played "doting owner" for a while. I still had some great experiences, including watching Topaz at her first dressage show, and then taking both Tres and Topaz up to Chicago to be photographed by Bob Langrish, which was a once in a lifetime experience that I still pinch myself over.
was definitely the year of Cinna. I spent the spring obsessively reading every foaling book I could get my hands on and plying my vet with questions. He was very sweet in dealing with my neurosis, but gently advised me that I wasn't likely to see the birth. Jokes on him, Tres waited for me to get home from work and then foaled at 6:30 pm like a civilized mare, with her head in my arms. In typical type A fashion, I had literally everything imaginable ready in the barn, including a fully charged video camera and the DSLR, so I have many lovely memories of this experience. Except the video isn't fit for public consumption because I got really excited and swore a lot 🤣🤣🤣 bringing up a baby taught me a lot, and I'm looking forward to doing it again someday.
my professional life had evened out, so I made it a point to get back in the saddle by taking dressage lessons. The trainer who had started Topaz moved away, so I decided it was time to buck up and ride her myself. I found a great new instructor and we made some great progress before she also, you guessed it, moved away (are you sensing a theme? There's a theme 🙃). I had a lot of really good experiences lessoning and showing, and I learned a ton. I also learned how tolerant Topaz was of my shenanigans, like when I took her to a fun show with a costume class and rode her sidesaddle in my prom dress and tiara while she sported a sparkly pink unicorn horn.
|Photo by Timelock Photography|
is when I buckled down and got a bit more serious about dressage. I started to feel a little less like an imposter playing dress up on a horse far nicer than she deserved and more like somebody working hard and making slow but steady progress (although I still suffered from crippling show anxiety). We worked really hard and although I know it's not about the ribbons, winning this first blue was an emotional experience (there's a 99% chance I'm crying in this photo while thanking this mare for taking such good care of me).
was the year of point chasing - I decided the only way to get over my crippling show anxiety was to show so much it couldn't possibly be scary anymore -- which worked! By this point Ruby was going reasonably well under saddle, so I spent March-November hauling out to 2+ shows a month, showing each horse (Topaz and Ruby) in at least two classes per show, mostly alone. Trial by fire, if you will. Along the way I made some great new friends, visited a lot of show venues, made great memories, and best of all, I got the anxiety mostly
under control. Second best of all, both horses and myself received sweet year end swag 😁🎀🏆 (there needs to be a horse show ribbon emoji!).
, Cinna turned four and I got a little more serious about putting rides on her. I sat on her a time or two in late 2015, but with Topaz and Ruby occupying most of my time, she sat around a lot in between sessions (which actually works best for her brain, so no complaints). Early in 2016 I made the incredibly heart-rending decision to sell Topaz and Tres, because 2015 really made clear to me that even keeping two horses going was hard with my schedule -- four was just not possible. They deserved more than to be pasture ornaments, and I found the perfect home and was able to sell them together. Of course, selling my two more trained horses meant I was back in the perpetual loop of green horses. Joy! This was also the year I started blogging, after a few months of obsessively following a few blogs and deciding that people in the blogosphere were pretty dang cool.
|Photo by Susan Horner|
I had burned myself out a bit from the show ring, so I focused a little more on getting out of the arena, whether it was trail riding or hunter paces. I branched out in the blogs I was following and I got pretty interested in the idea of dabbling in endurance with Ruby -- unfortunately that never went anywhere, because I struggled to find someone local to help me figure out the first go at it, and all of the rides I could find were 5+ hours away, typically over terrain that required shoes. But while I was still toying with the idea, Ruby and I logged MANY miles on the trails at the old barn (god I miss those trails 😭😭) and I grew to appreciate her sense of adventure on a whole new level. We found our happy place that year motoring along the trails. If I'm keeping track of years correctly (I may not be at this point lol), I did resume lessons with another instructor ... Do you know where this is going? She moved away 🤷♀️
, I was determined to start doing more with Cinna. I had fallen into an endless loop of never taking her anywhere because she was unpredictable and quite a bit more excitable than Ruby had been (Ruby was literally PERFECT even as a green baby so she kind of ruined all other babies for me 🤣) and then in turn she was unpredictable and excitable simply because she hadn't had enough experience off the farm. My favorite event was a 2-day Centered Riding clinic -- she came out the first day a TOTAL maniac, but settled by the end of the ride. The second day she came out exactly where we'd left off and we were able to be so productive. The clinician commented on it several times, we basically won 'most improved' (because to start with I couldn't get her to stop whirling like a top hahaha). I also connected with a great instructor who meshed with my "lesson when my footing is rideable and I have $" philosophy - while I'd love to have regularly scheduled lessons (monthly, weekly, or even biweekly would be a DREAM), I'm still sorting out where that can fit both in my life and in my budget.
was not a great year for me in terms of riding. We had horrific weather winter into spring and by the time it settled down, we had started building a house, which occupied most of my time, thoughts, and dollar bills 😆 I did sneak in a few rides here and there, but steady progress was nowhere to be found. Despite that, I got a lot of enjoyment out of my daily interactions with the horses, and really savored the few riding experiences I did have. This photo was from winter storm Gia, which dumped 24+ inches of snow on us over a weekend in January. As a contrast to how difficult that made chores, I made it a point to pull Ruby our for an impromptu bareback snow photoshoot in my front pasture. As always, she was up for anything and I think this photo just captured the sheer joy I get from calling these magnificent creatures mine. Even without the riding, they still enrich my life in immeasurable ways.
This was a fun little stroll down memory lane, and it makes me so excited for 2020! Now that the house is done and my lesson budget is a bit more flush (shout out great new job! 🤗), I'm hoping that 2020 is full of education and growth. And many more beautiful photos!