Wednesday 28 December 2016

2016 Year in Review


I started this blog after being a blog reader for a couple years, and introduced my horse Kachina. I got my bronze sport licence for the first time as I thought about showing recognized in 2016. I made some lofty goals for the year (many of which we didn't reach). I made a tentative event schedule with the goal of taking Kachina lots of places and exposing her to different show environments (which we did succeed at).



I decided I needed some dressage instruction (but didn't want to haul through snow) and lessoned with two FEI level riders, one on a simulator (plus here and here) and one on a schoolmaster. One of those was Sandra so I succeeded in making a really good connection. Later this month the weather improved and I hauled up to Calgary with a friend so I could ride with Sandra on my own horse. I also did a Cowboy Challenge clinic for something totally different.

Dressage Simulator

Cowboy Challenge Clinic


I started doing Pilates to improve my core strength, and body flexibility and awareness for riding. I totally changed up my warm-up due to what I learned in February and that was a game-changer. I talked about my tack a bit. I went to my first true dressage show with Kachina. We showed Walk/Trot and Training 1 and got scores in the low 60s. I also wondered about Kachina's breed.


Kachina got her teeth done and a vet check. I found out that the equine dentist wasn't as legit as he appeared. No long term damage was done to Kachina but I learned to do even more due diligence when researching horse "professionals". I rode bareback and lived (but haven't done much since). I went to a second dressage show. We had some success in the show warm-up but a brand new problem of getting wrong canter leads cropped up and our scores suffered.

Second Show


I talked about my horse keeping style. Despite deciding to take a break from showing this month, we ended up getting Reserve Champion at Walk/Trot for the Carrots & Cocktails show series. I experimented with chiro for Kachina and finished ruling out any physical reason for Kachina's mouth gaping. I continued to struggle with our canter leads. I did some thinking about Kachina's personality and came up with some insights about how I needed to address our ground work struggles.


Kachina did some pony rides with my non-horsey brother and friends. I scribed at the Gold Show/CDI*** in Calgary. I went to Claresholm to compete in my first ever recognized dressage show. We came away with a fancy ribbon but our scores weren't great and the video made me come to some hard realizations about our need to go back to basics, both with my position and the bottom layers of the dressage pyramid. I took a lesson with my BO (a former reiner) and finally figured out what was happening with our leads. I also had a lesson with Elaine. This month started my focus for the rest of the year on my position and getting inside bend.

My view from C while scribing

Things weren't pretty


This month had some frustrating days for both riding and with Kachina being worse on the ground. I finally got Kachina a spot out in the giant pasture and she adapted to life out there quickly. We didn't make much progress on the dressage side of things but we had an amazing three day trail riding trip in Writing on Stone where Kachina proved her worth as a trail horse. I showed at our local open show where the dressage day was terrible but we had fun in the rail classes. I decided to end our show season early and go back to basics. I also started figuring out that my saddle wasn't working.


My saddle search escalated quickly and I spent most of the month trying out different saddles before getting my unicorn. Since a lot of rides were spent judging saddles, our training didn't really progress. I did scribe at another show and also watched a jousting tournament. I hit two years of owning Kachina and reflected about how we ended up together.

Unicorn saddle


I had a three day clinic with Elaine where I did some major leg position bootcamp in my new saddle. I then took off for two weeks holiday which included a look into horse racing in Ireland.

At the Elaine clinic

My cousin's racehorse


We experienced summer, autumn, and winter weather all in this month. I took elements of what I had learned from various sources and started figuring out for myself what I needed to do to improve Kachina's basics (inside bend is the key). I participated in 2pointober. I had learned some important lessons back in June, but it wasn't until this month that everything started to come together and we started making real progress in both riding and ground work.


I struggled a bit with stagnating progress and winter blues at the start of the month. I put quite a bit of work into organizing a local dressage clinic with Sandra. The clinic ended up being awesome, both for my own riding and for helping to build this fledgling dressage community.

Sandra on Kachina


I took some time to process the clinic from November. Canadian winter hit with a fury, but I sucked it up, pulled out all my warm marshmallow layers and had a bunch of really good rides. The clinic gave me some extra tools to get us to the next level and our trot has had some major improvement.

2016 wasn't a year of huge successes, but I learned so much. I am really happy with where Kachina and I are at right now and I'm excited for what 2017 brings. 


  1. this review was great to read as a newer follower! also, you say 2016 wasn't a year of huge success, but i think the changes in how Kachina is carrying herself in the pictures from january to december tell the real story - she looks fantastic!!

  2. I love reading the year in review posts, especially since I am a new follower. I think it's the little successes that build up slowly that make the most difference. Kachina is looking great!

  3. I'm thinking that it was more successful they you are thinking- it looks to me that you did quite a bit and looking at the photos I see positive change.

  4. Thanks guys. I thought we'd be further along by now than we are, like maybe knocking on the door of First Level (so far from that right now). In some ways I feel like we aren't that much better than we were a year ago, but I know more now and I think I filled in some training holes so that is a success by itself.