Thursday, July 5, 2018

Mid-Year Goal Check-In

Firstly, thank you all for your kind words and well wishes re: my elopement. In the time since that post, we celebrated with friends and family and had a GREAT time. It was so very good to see everyone. My biggest goal for the celebration was for everyone to have fun. It was a rousing success and the most common comment from everyone was, "What a great party! Best I've been to in years. Hope you all had as much fun as we did!" 

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I've set some solid goals for each animal and myself, as well as some stretch goals (+) that, while they should be achievable, I'm not banking on their completion to feel success in my yearly achievements. 


✔ Stay happy, healthy, sound
✔ Build strength, power, and finesse within dressage and jumping
~ Take > 3 dressage lessons (and become more confirmed/comfortable with shoulder-in and lateral movements)
✘ Take > 1 jumping lesson
~ Feel confirmed at beginner novice
✘ + Compete in the novice division at one HT
✘ + Compete in either a dressage or jumping show
✘ + Put Grif on cattle to see if he works them as he does the dogs around the barn

Griffin has forgotten how to trail ride in recent years. I foresee a lot more of it in our near future.

The beginning of the year began slowly between the weather and my fussing about with when and where to move the horses. Now that I've crossed that [very big] goal off, hopefully I can settle in and work on the rest of these goals. Though, admittedly, I can say I won't be able to cross them all off as I'd hoped thanks to the whole debacle with my truck. Womp, womp, womp. (This week marks 1 month that it's been in the shop...)

Beyond staying healthy and building strength, I'm most pleased that we fit in two dressage lessons. They were great and Griffin far exceeded expectations. I'd love to get back up there for some more lessons later this year as it's one of the few things I feel certain I could budget post-truck repair. I had so many things "click" into place for me at the lessons and would love to build on that some more. C also teaches jumping (it was my original introduction to hear YEARSSSS ago), so perhaps I'll be able to check off that goal, too?

re: partial completion of feeling confirmed at BN: I'm giving myself partial credit for this because when Grif and I have jumped this year, everything has been greater than BN height. Honestly, they have been for ages and I was just measuring wrong. Whoops. I'll take that mistake though! Knowing the actual height has made me feel a lot more confident in Griffin and having my mental space more confident has only resulted in better rides with him. I hope to build some XC jumps as soon as I get my truck back, so while we may not be able to show this year, we'll absolutely be able to school well at home!


✔ Stay happy, healthy, sound
✔ Build more trust and confidence in our partnership
✘ Take > 1 dressage or centered riding lesson
✔✔ Build better balance and abolish her sidedness, especially with trot diagonals
✘ Hone lateral movements under saddle
✘ Complete a conditioning ride >20 miles over mountainous terrain (rail trail does not count)
✘ + Compete in a dressage show
✘ + Return to endurance competition

Same view as above behind different ears. This climb to here is an 800'+ elevation gain in ~1 mile.

This mare. I'm SO pleased with what we've accomplished the past few months. So, so pleased. Her confidence is building with every mile. She spooks less and less and the spooking she does offer picks me up and takes me with her as opposed to dropping my ass as she retreats. That's a HUGE difference and one I'll happily take. Hopefully one day she'll be less afraid of bracken ferns...

Aside from the total boost in confidence and our partnership, I'm really pleased to report that my efforts to abolish her sidedness have been successful. I know I tend to favor posting the right diagonal on any horse I ride, but with Q lately, I'll look down and find myself on the left diagonal as often as the right without even thinking about it! Prior to this, while I would switch my diagonal often on Q, every time I'd post the left diagonal she'd find something to spook at within a stride or two and I'd find myself back on the right diagonal. The secondary indicator that we've kicked this problem to the curb is that her raised Arabian tail, which formerly tended to curve to the right when trotting is now carried much straighter! This pleases me greatly.

While we haven't completed a 20+ mile ride over terrain YET, we're right on the cusp of doing it. The only reason I haven't is really just a lack of time on my part. I've put in a 12 and 14.5 mile ride on her the past two weeks. That goal will be checked off in no time. As for the remaining ones, I'm confident several of them will be checked off as the rest of the year marches forward.


✔ Stay happy, healthy, sound
~ Keep up conditioning levels to a degree where striking out on a 20+ mile conditioning ride over mountainous terrain is a walk-in-the-park
✘ + Compete in a 50-mile ride

The handsomest.

Stan's mostly been sitting idle this year. And that's totally okay. He's happy, he's healthy, and that is what matters the most. Recently though, he's been out on a few conditioning rides piloted by some of my girlfriends. He's done outstanding on each one and always seems happy to be out.

He's such a GOOD horse. I love riding him, but even more, I love that he is trustworthy enough for me to loan out to friends so I have company when riding. One of these ladies will be free leasing him very soon! Another friend will also be getting her riding-legs back with some rides on him, too, if all goes to plan.

That stretch goal definitely will not happen. It's just not a priority. Could I get him there and make it work, probably. But the level of work and amount of time I'd need to put into getting him to that point isn't something I have on my radar. If his free leaser gets really gung-ho and puts the miles on him, maybe, but I doubt this will happen as he'd need to be ridden 1-3 hours/day for at least 5 days a week. Having him happy, healthy, and fit enough for fun conditioning rides around Canaan is way simpler and fun.


✔ Stay happy, healthy, sound
~ Get some answers to his hair loss
✔ Maintain a healthy weight and diet with whatever supplements keep him moving well

Hiding in the shade on a recent hike.

I feel like a broken record, but in the best way: Kenai is moving better and seems happier than he has in years. He's definitely got some gnarly arthritis in his stifles from the surgeries, but he's trotting more than he's ever done since the surgery and is sassy to boot.

While I'm happy with Kenai's weight and movement, I still have no idea WTF is up with his hair loss. I have copious hypotheses, but no answers. Vet opinions differ and come down to pursuing different routes, either hormone therapy or diet changes. Hormone therapy is a hard pass for me; the costs (e.g., side effects to his health/body, trickiness to figure out the correct combo/amount, financial side) far outweigh potential benefits.

He was diagnosed with a staph infection in January, which we treated and gave him some relief for the duration of treatment and a month or so after. But then he became itchy again which raised a lot of questions in my mind. Is it seasonal or is it a food allergy as the vet suggested? Areas of hair loss are certainly restricted to places he can chew/bite or scratch. It's hard to tell and could easily be a combination of seasonal and food allergies.

Admittedly, his paws are black from the mud, but the other dark areas on his caudal thigh and neck is all hairless skin. Sigh.

If he has a food allergy, as one vet hypothesized after his bloodwork came back perfect, there are several routes to go down. Commonly, you will hear that the dog has developed an allergy to a common protein and the vet will recommend a novel protein food source. That's all well and good, except the [usually prescription] novel protein foods they often recommend are an exorbitant price. In my case, the food recommended was going to be a minimum of $120 a month. Oof! I have always had my dogs on quality kibble, but that cost was more than I could stomach and budget. Not to mention when I looked at the protein within the food I found 3 different kinds (and the vet wanted him on one....).

So, I took a dive off the deep end, consumed myself with research on homemade diets, and slowly transitioned Kenai over. It's a bit of work for me, but the research has been SO FUN (and informative!) and I much prefer the work over watching my budget hemorrhage. It costs money at the moment, but as soon as deer season opens this fall, the cost will drop to nearly nothing. I'd like to keep him on this type of diet for the remainder of the year and see where things stand.


✔ Stay happy, healthy, sound
✔ Hone recall and obedience training
~ + Begin pursuing training necessary to become a therapy dog

I'd say I forced this cuddle for a photo, but her expression says how unforced it was lol

This little dog is such a happy soul and a bright spot to my days. While potty training with her wasn't the easiest, she has exceeded expectations in every other area. She recalls better than Kenai most days and truly wants to please. I thoroughly enjoy spending time with her - even when she rolls in the latest, greatest most-disgusting-smell-ever.

I haven't actively been pursuing therapy training, but I also haven't shelved it either. I hope to check in with this as the rest of the year progresses and try to pursue it more. This little dog learns so quickly that I'm optimistic we can achieve whatever we set our sights on once we've started the journey.


✔ Stay happy and healthy physically and mentally
✔ Build a stronger and more flexible body
✔ Build/maintain my photography skillset and business
✘ Lead climb above 5.9
~ Bike Canaan Mountain without hike-a-biking
✔✔✔ Really push forward with finding a living situation for the horses that is closer to my home
~ + Be able to do a split & feel comfortable with inversion poses

The only arm balance I can confidently do currently.

The biggest goal I set for myself this year was to get the horses closer to home. Status: ACHIEVED. I'm beyond happy. I'm still going to see about pursuing an amendment in my HOA to get them really close to home, but I'm not holding my breath about that and am happy to have them 10 minutes away.

Moving the horses home has done wonders for my mental health. I fit in so much more horse time than I once did. I see them at least 6 days a week and on the days I don't stop by, I usually see them as I drive by. I rode 15 separate times this month and was in the saddle for 13 hours total. For comparison, in May I only rode 8 times for a total of 9 hours; 3 of those rides and half of those hours were from lessons, which aren't a regularly scheduled thing.

Fitting in so much more horse time leaves me feeling very happy and fulfilled. I've also been able to spend more quality time with Dave and have gotten out and exercised a lot more! My increased fitness is allowing me to handle the heat so far this summer with much more grace than in past years. It's still a work in progress and I still don't like the hot, hot heat and being super exposed to the sun, but I'm definitely less averse to it than I've been!

20180620 Wedding Reception Week_346
These two 💕

Climbing has taken a backseat this year due to injuries. However, I seem to be on the other side of these and there is a LOT of climbing weather left for the year. Dave and I headed out for a few hours on Saturday to climb and I exceeded my expectations for myself for the day. My original expectations were set very honestly, so being able to push my body beyond them felt really great. 

I'm still trucking along with mountain biking and yoga. I've technically ridden a trail on Canaan Mountain without hike-a-biking now, but it wasn't one of the trails I originally had in mind to complete as a part of the goal. Additionally, while my yoga strength and flexibility are much improved, and I'm making incremental progress toward my goals with splits and inversions, there's more work to do! A side effect of the yoga is the improvement I see in my riding position - especially in my dressage saddle. Can't wait to see if that evolves more as the year goes on!

My photography side hustle is wonderful. Admittedly, I'm doing more free shoots for friends than anything - which I'm so happy to do! These shoots allow me to experiment without pressure, build my portfolio, and provide my close friends some wonderful images of their families and pets. I continue to enjoy it and learn more and more every day, and learning is the thing I enjoy most.

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Overall, I'm really happy. And I've worked hard to get to this point during the first half of the year. It hasn't been easy, but I knew from the get-go that it would be worth it if I put the time in. I've done that and am so excited to be where I am now. I'm really looking forward to what I'll manifest and accomplish in the second half of the year.


  1. Thank you for all the updates. I love how you tackle life full on. I hope Q doesn't tell Carmen about the dangers of bracken ferns......

    1. They're prehistoric looking and terrifying lol! And I bet y'all have them up there, too? I saw them a lot in downeast Maine and I'm betting your flora is pretty similar.

  2. You're killing it this year 😁 and I imagine having the horses so much closer will enable you to knock even more of those goals out of the park before the year is done!

    1. That's certainly the hope! At a minimum, having them closer is good for my soul.

  3. I loved reading this check-in! I commend you on being flexible with your goals, especially where horses are concerned. I always have to remind myself that the goal is just a destination, but it's the journey that matters. Looking forward to following your second half of 2018, my bet is there will be a lot more check marks next to those items!

    1. The journey is my favorite part! I used to get super excited for the completion of a goal, but now I enjoy everything that leads to it 10x more.

  4. All amazing progress!! Food allergies in dogs is awful. Dusty deals with it with his clients all the time and it is a big pain for everyone. I hope the home made diet works for him and gives him some relief from the itch.

    1. Biggest freaking pain ever! I feel for every vet and their client who goes through it.

  5. It sounds like you are in a good spot for your goals mid-year! Your willingness and flexibility to alter your goals is admirable as well. I love the underlined part about being happy because that is what it is all about! :-)

    1. The older I get the more I realize being happy makes everything better, whether I'm achieving things I'd hoped or not. Funny how that works...

    2. I would 100% agree with that statement!!! :-)

  6. What a good mid year check in. And that party! Also good. 😘

    1. Such a freaking good time. So glad you could be there!

  7. Has Kenai’s thyroid levels been checked? If the endocrine system is out of whack, hair won’t grow.

    1. Multiples times by multiple vets. Everyone thinks he's hypothyroid until his bloodwork comes back normal in every category. As grateful as I am that it's normal, I almost wish it wasn't so we'd have a definitive answer lol. We've come down to either food allergy or alopecia because every other route we've explored has dead ended with "nope, that parameter is normal, too!"

  8. Your posts always make me wish I set firmer goals for myself. Love the general Liz-update, and of course all the photos.

  9. Nothing wrong with happy and healthy animals and people <3

  10. Gretchen is allergic to food and also has huge hair issues (She was technically hairless due to poor care and diet when we adopted her, she does have some hair now). BUT then she is a schnauzer and has to be on W/D for her high triglycerides so she now has to be on chicken so she has allergies. Have to pick my battles all your goals and love that life is good for you! Enjoy!