Thursday, December 18, 2014

2k14 in Review: Already?!

I cannot believe that it is time for this already. Can.Not.Believe.


This year can basically be summed up as the following: Liz is stubborn and slow to learn and the Universe let her know in a myriad of ways before she finally began to understand and fix her errors.

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This was a big month for him!
I began the year with getting Griffin under saddle and out on trail more. Mike was a big help in this as it allowed for two butts to ride two horses so both Q and Griffin could get a good workout. Griffin has come so far - back in January I was celebrating much smaller achievements with him.

I didn't spend a lot of time riding in January though as there were a lot of powder days on the mountain where I'm a National Ski Patroller. Sometimes I would skijor, thus combining my love of skiing with my love of horses.

I also shared to the blogosphere about the fact that I live in a barn. No, seriously. Literally. I do.

I began my "Horses Who Made Me" series to help chronicle how horses from my past helped me reach where I am today.

Kenai was 5 months post-knee surgery in January, so I shared about progress with rehab.

And most importantly, Griffin and I celebrated our 2 year anniversary at the end of January.

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Snow was still very plentiful this month and contributed to tree skiing on the mountain at my second job as a patroller. But I didn't let the snow and arctic cold keep me from doing things with the horses entirely, oh no. We even completed a trail ride in knee deep snow! Great training. Alas though, this month was chaotic as far as finding time for the horses between working my usual job and my second winter job, so I resolved to fix that in March.

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This month, in some ways, could be called "The Month of Saiph" because we saw each other a lot!

At the beginning of the month, Saiph and I met up to travel down to the AERC Convention where we met up with Mel and Ashley and Caitlin. It was so much fun! And then I ended the month with a long weekend in Maryland where I had a blast riding across Saiph's home trails with her and even traveling to ride on the beaches of the Chesapeake Bay.

All the blogger ladies at the AERC convention.

In the middle of all of the time with Saiph, I continued to work on Q's trailering issues - with success! - and finally began to gain some reliable work under saddle from Griffin - who'd had a lot of opinions about bits previously. It's amazing how far Griffin has come when you think about where we are now! And methinks it is time to do more work with Q and's been awhile since we've worked on anything; practice makes perfect!

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This month consisted of two significant events:

First, my and Mike's trip to California where we saw Mandy and D, drove up Route 1 along the coast, met up with Funder, and finally saw Yosemite. It was a lot of stuff in a short time, but wow, what a trip! I took SOManyPhotosSO MANY.
My lonely camp setup; the tent that flipped is on the right.

Second: Q and I completed our first 50 of the season at No Frills. Aside from the ride itself, this was a pivotal point for me in my endurance career as this ride marked the very first that I went to ALL BY MYSELF. Just Kenai and Q accompanied me on this trip. It went smoothly, but Kenai and I did nearly get blown away the night before the ride when the wind flipped my tent over - with Kenai and I inside!

Per the usual, I mulled things over after the the ride in my quest to ever better myself and fix and tweak things along my journey with endurance.

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I really love this athletic little mare!
So after riding alone at No Frills, I realized I'd be a lot happier and relaxed if I could listen to music. Problem is, I don't like NOT hearing what's around me, too. So thanks to Mel/Funder, I found a new solution.

I also celebrated 2 years with Q this month. Hard to believe it'd been that long.

I waxed and waned about Q's issues in the back field where my jumps reside as she developed freight train issues. And I explored options as she and I delved further into this battle of wills we've been in this year. But then I realized our issues are mostly my fault. And with that realization, the Universe decided to reward me as Q redeemed herself in a very public fashion and I was so proud.

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I love these people <3
Summer was in full swing and I was in full Do All The Things Mode this month.

By far the biggest thing that happened was the Old Dominion where my spirits were crushed by a particularly rough loop, but it was okay because Saiph and Dom were present all weekend to make everything worth it. Still though, there was much to think about afterwards, including a new approach with Q-mare as our battle of the wills continued. #girlproblems

Aside from the OD though, I had a particularly great ride on Griffin. He and I spent a lot of time playing in the water. Kenai even got out to enjoy some aquatic adventures.

I ended the month by buckling down and crunching the real numbers on how much money I spend on my horses every year. Could be worse!

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This was the month of scratches. Oh scratches. I loathe thee.

He's turned into such a handsome creature.
The vet came out the first of the month to look Q over. I'd been worried about her hocks based on previous discussions and occurrences, but her hocks were great. It was the scratches that were the main issue! Fortunately, once treated, they improved dramatically within a short amount of time.

Saiph and Charles came to visit, too, this month. We had such a blast with a beach barn party, trail rides, and shenanigans.

Griffin improved SO MUCH this summer. It was so visible. He really came into his own this year.

Mike and I closed out the month by heading out on a two day backcountry ride with the club. What a blast!

And because I never provided the photos I promised of the wagon crossing the river on that ride, here you go:

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Kicked this month off with a bang with the 8th annual Ride Between the Rivers. This year was bigger and better for me because Dom & Mike and Saiph & Charles were all present and accounted for. Endurance Trifecta!

Saiph riding Griffin. This was right before the start of the LD.
Dom rode Dr. Bob's horse. My Mike rode Q in his first 50. Saiph rode Griffin in his first LD. And I rode Jen's horse Prince. The first two in this list completed, the other two pulled Rider Option. Griffin because his mental fitness was not nearly what his physical fitness was, and Prince because he was just having and off day and we didn't want to push it when he had a 100 looming in a month.

Q did awesome with a heavier rider though, which contributed to my post-ride mullings.

I resumed jumping with Q after RBTR. And finally, I reviewed the plethora of things I'd struggled with and been working to improve on in order to better my relationship with the little mare this year. We've had so many ups and downs this year, but in retrospect, there is so much positive. This is so good to read, reflect on, and remember.

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I participated in the yoga_girl challenge on Instagram this month which helped significantly in the start of my journey to resolve the depression I'd sunk into. The battle wasn't won quickly, though this was the best step forward.

Q and I cantering through Dolly Sods at peak autumn. <3
I finally met Mary, who I had an absolute blast with all weekend. We took the horses to a 4-H fun show where Q did amazing for both of us and then Griffin pitched a holy fit. Most importantly though, Mary finally go through to me what others had noted all summer: that I needed to quit being so hard on myself. Thank you, Mary. <3

Q's scratches returned over a 3-day period where I vacated WV to visit Saiph in MD. I was astonished they could return SO FAST and my mental health and my bank account suffered as a result of the vet treatments.

But the month closed out well as I finally conquered a long-standing fear AND crossed a big item off my horse bucket list and rode at Dolly Sods at peak autumn color - barefoot on gnarly terrain to boot!

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Q excelled at yet another parade, and she even peed in the middle of the street much to the astonishment of the crowd. What a good endurance pony though!

I finally celebrated the return of Kenai to near-normal after his 2013 double knee surgery and spring 2014 groin tear. It has been quite a journey with my favorite guy, but we're getting there - still.

Mike made me a kickass tack locker this month, too.

And then I went to Fort Valley where Q suffered her first pull at a 50 at the finish. This led to much pondering after the ride and resolution to give her a big vacation and then take things slow and rebuild as we readdress things for 2015. Beyond the pull though, this ride and the magical third loop and all the time on trail with Saiph really helped jostle me back into a healthy mental state for the first time in months. I will forever love the third loop of this ride.

And finally, I was ready to share with y'all about what I'd been doing with Griffin since RBTR - driving. And the accident we experienced driving, which, for better or worse, helped me get back in the saddle with him. (I vote better. ☺)

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I spent the beginning of the month discussing setbacks and epiphanies on setbacks. The Universe has had a lot to teach me this year, and the only way it was able to grab my attention was by breaking my Grand Plans and causing Grand Setbacks. I'm getting better at realizing these things now, but I'm ever stubborn and prideful, I fear. I will strive to be better into the future!!!

I rode 7.5 miles without a saddle on Griffin; it was so freeing and he was so amazing. I even dropped my reins and extended my arms like a bird as he galloped!

And finally, I composed an ode to my Go Everywhere dog and shared about traits that I think help create a great Go Everywhere dog.

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Not a crazy busy writing month for me, for certain! But I did crunch some serious numbers on IRL training.

I met my goal of completing 500 recorded ridden miles (of which I never wrote about until now). And I've been ground driving Q with great success!

Ski patrol is back in full swing, too, which will keep me busy as I plan to pursue my Senior level patroller status. (There are three echelons within patrol: Basic, Senior, and Certified. Basic level takes a year to complete, Senior typically takes two, and Certified takes 3+! Your skiing skills, leadership and decision making, and first aid/first responder skills must be at a heightened level with each echelon.)

And mostly, I relaxed this month for a bit, and then hunkered down and got back to work on my fitness visiting the gym 3-4 days a week with yoga and runs with Kenai existing throughout.Time to get strong and fit!

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A total tally of nonsensical and sensical numbers for this year:

Miles ridden (that were recorded): >500
Bloggers with whom I interacted with IRL: 7
Times I hit the dirt: 4 (?)
Visits from the vet: 3
Memories made:


The Endurance Trifecta toasts to a great new year!

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