My first and most important goal was to establish a care routine for Moon, which is done and working well. His teeth were floated, he’s dewormed quarterly, vaccinated and I think we’ve found a farrier that works well with his needs. This means more to me than any of his riding successes. I need him healthy more then I need him to be a star. This ties in with his healthy weight goal, which while W’s added a few pounds back for the winter (she worries more about this than I do), he’s still doing great. And I aim to keep him there.
We covered off a ton of goals relating to riding more in different locations, lessons, rides at the park with T, hauling places and trail riding. All with success. While I’m not quite at the 1 year mark for riding regularly, I’m going to vote that we’re probably close enough to pull that one off the goal board. I actually stumbled across a great paper today from a local extension office that explained it takes about 6 months of regular work to build the cardiovascular and muscular system of a horse. They recommended that a good riding schedule to maintain and build cardio in a horse would be to ride every second day, to the point where the horse’s system is ‘stressed’ (in a good way), but not overworked. Then they get a day off to repair and rebuild (see it here).
Tied these goals with moving Moon to a barn with an indoor, him getting to be spoiled inside on the cold nights, new gear and him building some topline muscle. We can still improve on the last one, which is part of my new goal for 2012. Oh, and my sitting trot. I’m considering that one a score, and we’ll keep practicing it as well.
I had two ‘forgotten’ goals, which truly weren’t forgotten. One was to attend our first competition and the other was to teach him gymnastic jumping so we could actually do a course. The first didn’t pan out due to scheduling and hauling issues, which is part of this year’s goal. The second…we jumped a single 2’ fence, we made a mess of it, and I assured myself I needed to learn more before we got serious about this again.
If you asked me what our 2011 highlights were, I’d say:
1. Improved Fitness
From tubby pasture puff to serious worker, everyone knows this one tops my list. Moon’s proven to me that he’s a great little learner, his hay belly is not a necessity and even cow-ponies can be slim and trim.
2. More Responsive Ride
When I first started riding him I thought he went great, and it was only as he improved I discovered how great of a ride he could be. I haven’t yet tapped his potential, but it’s wonderful to ride a horse with smooth transitions, responsive aids and a lightness and respect that we never enjoyed before.
3. Exposure to New Adventures
Moon and I love learning new things, and this year was chalked full of them. We went on an amazing trail ride through the Pembina Valley, a group ride at BHP, hauled out to many lessons, met many new people and really got to start exploring the world of horse-ownership.
So what are we going to do for 2012?
I’d say this is going to be 3 sanctioned dressage shows, a couple of local light horse shows and a fun show or two which includes a cross-rail and trail class, but I’d rather not get too specific. This includes the old goal to take lessons for a year, which we’ll reach in May. At this moment, this whole goal requires funding, gear, a horse trailer or access to one and Moon’s health and behaviour.
2012-05-12: It was crazy, nerve-wracking and a very long day. But Moon and I survived our first horse show together, came away with a fistful of ribbons, and better partners then ever before.
2012-06-03: We managed to go the full year with fairly regular lessons, and complete two shows: a handful of walk-trot dressage tests, costume classes, bribe-your-horse, trail class and even cross rail. Granted the money-well dried up before we could do any more, we're still thrilled that we had the opportunity. The goal WAS accomplished.
2012-10-20: We snuck in one final fun show of the year, a jumper show that proved to us just how far we've come and just how far we still need to go.
I’ve officially banned myself from buying any horse gear (aside from a showcoat and breeches) and will be squirreling my money away for when the right trailer shows up. This goal will feed well into our showing goal, and into our goal to someday get our coaching levels (which requires hauling to a certified coach for testing). This one will also depend on fate and funding.
2012-01-14: Fate and Funding (more fate then funding really) graced me with a 1974 Blair 2-Horse Trailer...and I discovered that with all purchases comes more purchases! Want to put new brakes, tires, interior paint and accessories on the new trailer. But should be better then new by Springtime...when we head on our new adventures!
2012-04-14: I discover that Moon is less then eager to climb aboard the new horse trailer. The new goal here? Teach Moon to load into it!
2012-07-05: Well, the horse trailer still isn't finished. My newest goal off of this one? Get it ready for the fall, and haul my pony for a riding-camping adventure! Oh, and still have to teach him to load into it...
2012-07-26: FINISHED. Or a close approximation. It needs some finishing touches (and new tires), but the horse trailer is ready to be loaded, and hauled. Moon and I are headed on adventures!
2012-07-28: And ironically, my currently relationship finally ended, meaning no truck for the trailer and essentially Moon-pie and I became grounded.
3. Learn Something New
Like the other goals, I don’t want to say “Teach Moon to jump 2’6” or “Teach Moon to ground drive and haul me on skis”, however much I really want to do both of those things. But we are going to keep working on our little cross-rails and see where it takes us. I’m gathering up a whole slew of books on dressage, jumping, long reining, eventing, trail….this one is going to be a ton of fun! I’m most excited about our pole work, which is strenuous to build muscle, develops topline which he needs, assists in adjusting striding and builds to better jumping.
2012-10-25: Oh, we learned LOTS. We've jumped up to 2'7" without disaster. We've done a full jumper course of 8 jumps without falling off, he's developed top line and muscle, and we've played at western, barrels and keyhole. I think we just need to learn to pull, and we'll call this year a great success!
I was going to have 3 goals, but this last one is REALLY important to me. I NEED him to learn a proper canter around the arena. Need it. It’s the platform for continued dressage movement, jumping, having fun on the trails and well…being a horse. This one we WILL fix this year. Mark my words…right here.
2012-01-12: Not saying the canter is fixed nor good. But he cantered a circle in the arena without losing gait...who knows how much further we'll get?!
2012-07-05: After going back and focusing even more on straightness, flexion and transitions, we're schooling canter. Won't say it's good, won't say we get leads, but he's walk-cantering, he's transitioning when I ask most of the time, and we're making circles. We'll keep on working on it!
2012-10-20: Okay, so it's not the perfect dressage canter, but here's a boy who will key into a nice canter to head towards and away from jumps. Maybe perfect isn't what we're going for?
Four goals. That’s all. Attainable, exciting and important.
Okay after an exciting week which included a complete canter circle in the arena AND a new (used) horse trailer, we've almost tackled 1/2 our goals before the middle of January! Heck, maybe tomorrow I'll just up the jumps to 2'6", drag a sleigh behind him and attend the first fun show that hits the calendar...then we could slack off for the rest of the year! ; )
2012-07-05: Well, let's not be tooo optimistic. The horse trailer still isn't finished, Moon isn't jumping 2'6" and he hasn't been driven in MONTHS. BUT, he's working on canter, he's shown, he's jumped 2'3" and I'm thrilled. At least we have LOTS to work on during the rest of the year!
2011's Goals... (kept for posterity)
9) Teach Moon to ride consistently 'on-the-bit'.
12) To complete my EC Rider Levels 1 and 2.
14) Complete Moon's AQHA Transfer papers, and join the 'Ride' Program.
15) To develop a slow, controlled canter on contact
24) Work on getting Moon to flex from the ground
28) Establish an EC English Rider Theory Group at W's place
32) Teach Moon to Ground Drive.