Hi all! I know it’s been a while. I’ve been swamped with other projects and with riding as much as I can now that my migraines have been improving & my concussion seems to have fully healed (it only took a year!).
I know it’s only December 13th, but I’ve been itching to do a year in review and to lay out my goals for next year. And as always, I have my usual disclaimer that my goals may be somewhat ambitious. I like being ambitious. It keeps me on my toes, and it keeps me pushing forward and working hard for what I want to accomplish.
First, my year in review:
I learned a lot this year. Although my riding time was affected a lot because of my concussion and my doctor’s orders to stay out of the saddle for about 4 months, when I was allowed back in the saddle, I came back with a vengeance. Here’s my top 10 lessons from 2016.
- Get everything in writing, even if you trust the person. Verbal assertions mean nothing. Also, I should know you need everything in writing, especially as an attorney, but I let my non-attorney mind take over for a split second, and it definitely cost me. Lesson learned. I’ll never do that again.
- Listen to your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
- Have confidence in yourself and your riding ability. I’m lucky to have a trainer I trust wholeheartedly and that I know won’t ask me to do something I am not ready to do, so even if I am nervous, I have gotten better at pushing that aside and just going for it.
- Take all the time you need. Riding isn’t going anywhere. Neither is showing. Taking time off of riding to fully heal was super hard for me, but I knew it was something I had to do, especially given the severity of my concussion and of the neck injury I sustained.
- Let any hate or jealousy you receive motivate you. While the deactivation of my Ask.fm has really cut down on the hate I get, it took me a while to actually get rid of my Ask. Why? Well, I did also get nice messages and messages from people, who didn’t necessarily want to make their identity known, asking for help, so I didn’t want to cut off those individuals’ method of talking to me. However, the effects of the hate eventually got to me, and I decided it was best for my health and mindset that I just get rid of the medium. I am still here to talk to anyone who needs it, and I promise not to judge anyone’s questions or situations. I also promise to keep anything you say confidential.
- Making connections in the horse world is extremely important. I have been lucky enough to make a ton of connections through this blog and through other things in which I am involved. I have found that these connections have helped me along the way, whether it is with excellent customer service from a company, opening up other opportunities for me, or giving me friendships that I hope will last a lifetime. These connections have been with other equestrians and with equestrian/equine companies.
- Don’t get bogged down in the drama. I know this is a HUGE revelation, but the horse world is filled with drama (I’m obviously being sarcastic). I used to get involved with a lot of drama, and it bit me in the ass. I’ve done a lot of work on myself and on my social media, and now I only get involved if it is absolutely necessary (Note: If I see you bullying someone, I will step in. Bullying is never okay).
- If you are feeling burnt out by riding, take a break. Even after I was given the okay to ride, I felt myself getting burnt out by riding halfway through this year. I felt like I was losing my passion and love for the sport, and I had to drag myself out to the barn most days (and that’s if I was lucky; some days I just said ‘f it’ and didn’t even go). I’ve seen a lot of riders experience this same feeling, and I always advise taking a break. Like I said, riding isn’t going anywhere; neither is showing. Don’t feel pressured to keep riding or showing if you’re just not into it at the moment. Sometimes we need to take something out of our lives to realize just how much we love it and need it.
- Find your “equestrian tribe.” I have been extremely lucky to have an amazing trainer, who also happens to be one of my best friends. But, I also have been extremely lucky to have finally found a group of riders that support one another and are not concerned with drama and trying to one up each other. In the past, I’ve found myself at barns that have riders who are more concerned with being better than one another rather than honoring the fact that each equestrian is on their own journey, and that equestrian should be supported, not ridiculed or talked about behind their back. Who cares what height you’re jumping, what horse you ride, or where you are in your career. Support is the best thing you can give another equestrian, and I finally found that in the great group of equestrians of which I am a part.
- Trust the process. After I was cleared to ride, I took about 10 lessons and was jumping 3′ – 3’3″. I was over the moon. Am I jumping that height every lesson? No (and, it’s best to preserve your horse anyway. I know a lot of riders that don’t jump very high at home, even if they’re competing at a certain height, simply because it’s better for the horse). At first I was like, “well, why am I not jumping this height all the time now?” There’s a reason behind everything your trainer does. Every exercise I do in a lesson has a goal behind it. For example, Monte likes to land on the left lead after jumps simply because it’s his stronger direction. I do a lot of work, over smaller jumps, that focuses on setting him up correctly so he gets the right lead (if we are tracking right or turning right after the jump) or focuses on me asking for the right lead in the air. If I was doing this over bigger jumps, especially with me being new to jumping bigger, I would be focusing on a ton of different things over a big jump, such as keeping my heels down, releasing enough, not crashing on his back on the landing side, getting my two point correct, keeping my leg stable, getting the right distance, etc., and adding getting the correct lead to that would just make everything overwhelming. Of course as I become more comfortable, all of those things won’t be so overwhelming, but I need to trust that every single lesson and every single exercise has a purpose, and that is to make me a better rider. On top of that, I have become a much better rider than I was this time last year. While Monte is an amazing horse that most of the time seems like an old soul, he can have green moments. Now, I am able to ride those green moments and help with his training. Just last week, we did an exercise that he had never done, and I pretty much nailed it. A year ago, I would not have been able to do it confidently (or at all), and doing it confidently did what? Gave him confidence and helped me execute the exercise in the exact right way so as not to confuse him or get him frustrated.
As I was typing that list, I realized I had way more than 10 things to list as lessons from 2016 – but I decided to cap it at that.
Now for my goals. As for my goals that I laid out before 2016 started, I am not sure if I accomplished all of them nor do I remember exactly what they were, but I do know I accomplished at least some.
- Be jumping 3′ – 3’3″ consistently;
- Begin showing in the 3′ Amateur Adult Hunters & 3′ Adult Eq. (My trainer thinks I can make it to this level by the summer if I keep my progress up and keep working hard);
- Jump 3’6″ for the first time and, if I am being ambitious, school 3’6″ occasionally;
- Find a way to get rid of my show nerves;
- Continue to improve my riding, especially when it comes to training horses and working with green horses;
- Become a textbook picture perfect hunter rider;
- Find my next young hunter that I can hopefully help bring along more with the assistance of my trainer;
- Start dabbling in the jumpers (I know I said this last year, but now that my confidence is higher and my riding is much improved, maybe now I am ready);
- Get Monte qualified for Indoors & Zone Finals;
Ambitious? Yes. Totally unrealistic? I don’t think so.
Here’s the thing. It’s great to set ambitious goals, and I love people that shoot for the moon. The key is: Don’t be attached to your goals (Click the bird to tweet this quote). In metaphysical & spiritual principle, this makes them much less likely to be accomplished. It’s okay if you don’t accomplish all of them – or any of them. But, listing out your goals makes it much more likely that you will reach them, and if you back them up with hard work, you’re also much more likely to put checkmarks next to everything you want to accomplish.
I am wishing you all tons of success in the New Year. I know 2016 was rough, but I hope you at least were able to accomplish some of what you set out to do last January.
Got goals for 2017 or lessons you learned this year? Let me know! Comment below or shoot me a tweet.