Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Blog Hop: 2014 Year in Review

I'm participating in the Blog Hop that +Laura of Bit by Bit initiated on her blog! She's doing a "Year in Review: 2014 and a blog hop". Like Laura, I am an adult student and don't have nearly as much experience as many of the riders in the blogisphere. I hope that this will be an opportunity for me to recognize both successes and short-comings.

WINTER (January - March)

Dark saddle pad, cremello horse
This past winter was really rough for everyone with regular dumpings of snow and super cold temperatures. Included was the ice storm of 2014 that sent many of us into the dark and cold for several days. But this never stopped any of us and we continued to ride. I worked a lot of jumping basics such as a crest release, 2 point, jump position recovery, straightness, soft eyes ahead, what it meant to land on the correct lead, better tools for adjusting trot and control of the trot through the seat/body. I ride two other horses, Quinn and Bons. I also bought my first piece of tack (no horse yet), a navy and green saddle pad, which I cleaned too.

SPRING (April - June)

The single elusive 2'9 jump that one time
Things really start to progress for my riding in the spring as I start my 2 lessons a week once the weather is nice and I am excited to continue working on my progress. We visit an A circuit stable called Forest Hill Training Centre and see how things are 'on the other side'. At my stable, I attend a clinic on showing and basic horse care for part-boarders, informally learn about the Pessoa Lunge line and head out on my first hack. I also experience my first major fall off of Ariel and I ended my diagonal jar and donated all the proceeds ($201.00) to Equine Guelph in memory of my instructor's horse who passed. I spend my first entire lesson on bareback at walk and trot and another time, get to jump a single 2'9 jump successfully! I participated in my first Blog Hop and did something different when I attended an off property clinic at Cadogan Farms to learn about le TREC.

A Le TREC exercise (I didn't get the chance to participate though)

SUMMER (July - September)

Off property at the Erin Fairgrounds
With so much happening in the spring, it's not really a surprise that things continue at full speed in the summer and I unintentionally learn the full body half halt (this has been tricky to reproduce instinctively), started my first mini-course of jumps (like under 2'?), did my first off-property lesson at the Erin Fairgrounds, bought a riding vest, brought my stirrup leathers down a hole from 7 to 6, work on a simple training level dressage test and have a very successful garden with 75% germination of the garlic planted the fall before (I also grew potato, beans and other leafy vegetables).

I've been told I clean up pretty well from time to time
In August, things take an interesting turn when Ariel is injured and I start riding other horses. I end up riding Bons (whom you're already familiar with) and a new gelding named Hank (the tank!). Hank is often a winner in the show ring and his riders place both well and frequently with him. That said, he knows his job and can anticipate certain asks of the rider, but (and that's a big but), he requires the rider to be diligent, clear and on the ball because he's lazy and sneaky otherwise; I learn to use a lot of leg in that lesson. On my blog, I participate in my second blog hop through Chronicles of a Moody Mare and blog about "a close call".

Things get REALLY busy this summer because +ADW and I get hitched in late-September. We have a lovely ceremony at the church I grew up in and celebrate on Ward's Island in Toronto. Unfortunately for me, there were not any horses involved.

FALL (October - December)

Stanley C. Panther *mew*
October had me try my hand at cleaning my grooming brushes since I figured they get Ariel (and Molson or Bons) clean so where does the dirt go? Evidently, into the brushes because they're pretty filthy when I wash them; I create this post for newbs who are looking for a way to do this. During lessons, I work on grid work and more focus on my ride into jumps and out. Sitting up recovering are my focuses as well as riding a good distance into the jump before take off. Around Thanksgiving, +ADW and I adopt a new kitten and purchase a home (literally across the street from my parents :P). Bucky gets his second Halloween photo shoot and is dressed as a crocodile this year.

Sometime in October and November, I update my blog template and continue to work on updating it to suit my needs (it's still in a state of flux). I have another eureka moment when I figure out how to 'tell' Ariel which lead to take for jumps and which way we're going (provided my ride in is good), following the jump. I encounter a dilemma about whether to attend a clinic or go to a show that my brother was telling me about... I chose the latter and missed the lunging clinic that Sheri was holding. Sheri puts out exercises that work on our distance by learning to judge (still a work in progress!) distance of jumps to see when we take off and how to shorten/lengthen strides. As if to say that it's time for me to consider pausing my 2 lessons a week, I get a flat tire late in the evening on my way to lesson and I'm fortunate that J and Sheri are such awesome people to help me get to lesson and crawl the car to the stable. We attend a Royal Horse Show at the Royal with the stable and for the first time, we watch pony racing and Ian Miller in the show jumping competition. The month's lessons were primarily focused on jumping with breaking down the distance, control, communication, leads etc. I also change stirrup irons to those flexy ones that bend for a deeper heel and a more soft impact for the knee.

+ADW and I enjoying Paris (France) around Christmas time
We take a 2 week hiatus in December to vacation in Paris where I was able to add to my UNESCO World Heritage Sites listing. While in Paris, we visit most of the major sites and eat a lot of very good food and pastries, and get lost in the romanticism that is the city of Paris. Despite going on vacation, it isn't really like me, to just stop doing 'stuff'; I collaborated again this year, with +Laura, another adult rider, on her blog posting for her series of "12 Days of (Horsey) Christmas". The posts document a series (12, to be exact!) of fun, practical and wonderful gifts for the equestrian in your life (or you!). Upon my return to the stable, I start out with a great lesson where I went in with a very determined mind-set that felt like I wasn't gone for as long as I was. However, the subsequent lessons that followed definitely left something to be desired. Granted, at this point, I have returned to riding once a week because the winter weather is in full effect so I'll be focusing on getting my fitness levels and sleep schedules in check so I'm ready for spring!


Having done this exercise to review my year, I see that I had noticable progress once I started taking 2 lessons a week. It's not that it was leaps and bounds but I felt like progress was being made (however small). I did drop all my 2014 year's resolutions it seems and will need to do better this year (more about that in a future post). A lot happened this year that were all big milestones (like getting married, buying a home, riding off-property and visiting Paris) so those certainly did interfere, but I'm not one to accept that as reasonable excuses. This past year was an incredible year full of changes and progress and I'm really pleased. That said, with all the great progress it will become my baseline and I look forward to continuing to improve in 2015!


  1. An amazing year and love the great pics of you riding Ariel! That jump is very impressive! Beautiful wedding pic too. Happy New Year!

    1. thanks! happy new year to you too. it was a really busy year. unfortunately so busy i didn't get to fit in any exercise or fitness improvement... :S that looks like a focus for this coming year because when my fitness is down, so is pretty much everything else...

  2. Replies
    1. both my boys have hilarious pictures! look at how unhappy bucky is with that croc costume but he humoured me anyways! what a guy.