Monday 7 January 2019

2019 Goals

I’m going to do goals a bit differently this year. On another blog I read a comment (by JenJ) about goals that said, in part “Great! How are you gonna do it?” as a reaction to a goal. It’s a simple enough question but it really made me think. Just having goals isn’t enough, I also need a plan to achieve those goals. When I first made a list of goals for 2019 there were a total of 35 of them which I knew was too many. Thinking about them in terms of both what my goals were AND what would be involved to reach them allowed me to eliminate a few “just for the heck of it” type goals I had written down. Also, as I thought about it more I realized that there were a few central goals I had and some of the other goals were actually steps on the way to reach the bigger goals. I realized how important it is for me to clarify both my end goals and the steps to reach them. External factors can impact the timelines required to reach ultimate goals but as long as I am working on the steps I am heading in the right direction. On the other side, I might find new steps or approaches but as long as they direct me towards my ultimate goals it is okay to change the plan a bit. With that said, I am going to define my Ultimate Goals, the related 2019 Goals for each, and the steps that will get me there.  

Ultimate Goal #1
Be fair to my horse, both on a day-to-day basis and ensuring her future health and happiness

2019 Goal #1A
Make Kachina a more solid citizen so her future is protected in case my circumstances change.

Steps to Goal #1A
  • Have other people handle Kachina
  • Get better at bridling
  • Improve competitive record (see goal #6)
  • Develop ability to jump up to 2’
  • Ask other people for feedback on what we need to improve to be more marketable for lease or lessons
  • Do other cross-training or participate in all-around type event

2019 Goal #1B
Be fair to Kachina on a day-to-day basis

Steps to Goal #1B
  • Provide regular vet and farrier care as required
  • Continue to choose turnout and living situations that optimize her quality of life
  • Develop grooming/tacking up routine that is minimally frustrating for either of us
  • Keep expectations reasonable and increase training pressure/expectations only on ‘good’ days/when Kachina relaxed
  • Advocate for my horse and stop working with trainers or other people who are not being fair to her
  • Have Kachina and I improve in dressage through methods that build our cooperation and trust
  • Use supplements as required to improve relaxation in the barn
  • Re-evaluate all other goals as required to keep Kachina happy and healthy (this one is goal #1 for a reason)

Ultimate Goal #2
Enjoy horses and riding

2019 Goal #2
Find my horsey joy as much as possible

Steps to Goal #2
  • Go on trail rides
  • Find a fun activity to do in the snow/cold
  • Canter or gallop out in the fields
  • Even when I am stressed or short on time, go out and smell and pet my horse
  • Spend time working on throughness and lengthens (my favorite parts of dressage)
  • If the pursuit of other goals gets too intense, step back to find my happiness
  • Ride with friends
  • Participate in local shows and clinics
  • Participate in a Pace and Chase

Ultimate Goal #3
Make a positive impact to the horse and dressage community

2019 Goal #3
Make a positive impact to the horse and dressage community in 2019

Steps to Goal #3
  • Organize another local dressage show
  • Be an active participant of my area dressage association
  • Be an active participant of the community equestrian facility board
  • Help out with other events
  • Be kind and helpful when people ask me things
  • Propose one new initiative

Ultimate Goal #4
Work through the Dressage Levels to reach Prix St. George, achieving scores of 63% or higher under high level judges

2019 Goal #4
Achieve a score of 63% or higher at First Level and start schooling Second Level

Steps to Goal #4
  • Test ride regularly to determine weaknesses
  • Video my rides at least once a month and critique them myself
  • Perfect the trot-canter transition (it’s dressage, perfection doesn’t exist, but make it so this transition is good and consistently good, where I can smoothly pick up a canter anytime and anywhere)
  • Add walk-canter transitions into our regular repertoire
  • Practice canter-walk transitions
  • Develop rein-back movement
  • Get comfortable doing patterns in canter (various size circles, diagonals, straightaways, loops etc.)
  • Increase steepness of leg yield without losing back
  • Improve stretchy trot circle to a ‘7’ (means much more stretch, much more consistency, and better transitions in/out)
  • Keep more suppleness and throughness in the lengthened gaits
  • Lose weight
  • Take up contact with my elbows not my wrists
  • Sit the canter better
  • Use outside rein more properly to control the shoulder
  • Use shoulder-in, shoulder-fore to improve our straightness and throughness
  • Choose lessons/clinics/trainers that will specifically help us with weaknesses
  • Go into each lesson with a specific goal (if plan needs to change that is okay, but at least have one)
  • Stop cross-training work if it starts to negatively impact dressage
  • Do at least one real dressage ride a week (other days can be fun, cross-training, ground-work, etc)
  • Ride in front of Medium status or higher judge that I respect

Ultimate Goal #5
Become a dressage judge

2019 Goal #5
Make some progress towards my recorded judge application

Steps to Goal #5
  • Audit with a Senior or FEI judge
  • Use videos and real competitions to practice judging on my own
  • Volunteer to judge a non-rated show
  • Pass the EC judging exam
  • Talk to judges and dressage riders I know about being references for me (need 5 total, 2 judges)
  • Work towards 2nd Level scores (note: I likely will not complete the requirement of 2nd Level scores this year, but it sounds like I can still submit application and have my judging status pending until I complete this last requirement)
  • This goal is not as time sensitive so I will be happy with any progress even if I don't complete all these steps

Ultimate Goal #6
Achieve some competitive success in riding (what that looks like may vary from year to year)

2019 Goal #6A
Earn an ADA Horse and Rider recognition award (63%+ at 3 rated shows)

2019 Goal #6B
Start earning scores towards Bronze Medal (65%+ at Silver or Gold show)

Steps to Goal #6A/B
  • See steps for Goal #4 as well
  • Get EC Passport for Kachina
  • Get EC Silver Sport License
  • Pay lifetime EC Dressage Award Registration fee (need to do before any scores can count towards medal)
  • Plan and budget for show season in advance, including back up shows (however if I bomb more than one show I might need to call it and defer these goals to next year, show season is short and I don’t have enough money to keep trying excessively. My aim is to prep enough so this doesn’t happen)
  • Compete in 3 or more dressage shows overall
  • Compete in at least one Silver or Gold show
  • Start show prep in January (the Spring shows always sneak up on me and I’m left feeling unprepared)
  • Prepare specific training plan leading up to first show and stick with it
  • Decide what classes to enter each show to maximize success (this includes whether I am shooting for Training Level scores, First Level scores, or both)
  • In weeks prior to each show, stop making changes and work on consistency to reduce risk of new problems popping up at show (this has happened to me too many times)
  • Choose certain key weeks where riding needs to be prioritized over other life commitments

Thursday 3 January 2019

2018 Goal Review

Green - Completed/Success
Blue - In Progress/Almost, not quite a success but part way there  
Red - Fail

2018 Goals


  1. Increase Kachina's trust in other people so she can be caught and handled by someone else - Success - I've talked to both owners of the horses in Kachina's pasture and they can both approach her easily, she also was caught by a stranger one day when there was confusion about who was holding what horses for the dentist (though some oats were required that time apparently)
  2. Keep Kachina happy and healthy - Success: Ongoing but pretty good, I wish she was more comfortable in the barn but 95% of the time she is happy and healthy
  3. Develop plan for Kachina for if/when I might be temporarily grounded (lease? liberty work? need to think about this) - In Progress, I don't have a solid plan here yet but doing some jumping with her and being part of regular lesson cycle gives us a step up if we need to find a leaser for her (fyi, in case you missed it, this is in case I get pregnant, which I hope will happen but hasn't yet)

Horse Community

  1. Organize a second local dressage show - Success - Complete 20/5/2018
  2. Be an active participant of my area dressage association - Success: Ongoing but yes
  3. Be an active participant of the community equestrian facility board - Success: Ongoing but yes
  4. Attend a dressage judging clinic - Success - Complete 26/8/2018
  5. Audit a clinic - SuccessAudited a jumping clinic at my barn and Charlotte Dujardin in July!

Dressage Riding

  1. Have Kachina and I improve in dressage through methods that build our cooperation and trust - Success: We had a blip where a couple bad clinics did not help with this but I call it an overall success because I listened to Kachina and made the change when I had to and things are going better now. 
  2. Improve my position and hands - Success: Ongoing (always ongoing) but I can actually say that my position and hands have improved measurably in the last year
  3. Test ride regularly to determine weaknesses - Semi-success - I did this decently until show season was done but haven't this fall
  4. Video my rides at least once a month and critique them myself - Semi-success - not every month but I do have quite a bit of video from this year
  5. Compete in at least one show - Success, competed at 3 shows
  6. Ride a First Level test that feels good (this can be at home) - Success, my best First Level test was actually ridden in the warmup ring at the Cochrane show in August


  1. Have fun - Success - not everything this year was fun but show season was really fun this year and I also started jump group lessons largely for fun
  2. Experiment again with clicker training - Fail
  3. Go on trail rides with friends - Fail - in general I am happy with moving barns but it did make me lose my best trails and trail riding friends
  4. Canter or gallop out in the fields - Fail, not this year
  5. Figure out how to mount from the ground (I know using a mounting block is better for the horse's back, but I need a solution for trail riding in bald prairie #shortpersonproblems) - Fail
  6. Settle on a boarding situation - Success - Complete 3/30/2018

Stretch Goals

  1. Show at First Level - Success - showed First level at two shows
  2. Earn above 65% at a show - Almost success - I scored 64.4% which was high score of the division that show so while I didn't break 65% I am still pretty pleased
  3. Place in a competitive class - Success - I am still really happy that I won Training Level Champion at a Bronze show

I changed up my format for 2019 goals so I will do those in a separate post. 

Wednesday 2 January 2019

2018 Summarized By Haiku

I wanted a brief fun way to sum up the year, but I also don't have enough photos for Amanda's Blog Hop, so let's try some Haiku!

Greatest change of year
Busier is good

Building a community
I'm VP now too

Show scores were not high
But finally First Level!
Already improved

Outside of riding
Wedding everything I hoped
Work crazy, new dog

Exploring jumping
Group lessons fun, motivate
Horse tackles sticks well

Bad clinics are hard
But still thankful for so much
Getting mojo back

Joyful holidays
Are what I wish for you all
Hopes for great new year