WinterAs in year's past, I've allowed my time with the horses to slow during the winter months. I'm forced into it to a certain degree between the shorter daylight hours, working 10 hour work days at my normal job, and working ski patrol during the winter weekends. This year's winter was much the same as so many recent ones have been - excessively mild and lacking snow, which makes me wish dearly that I didn't love skiing so much! Fortunately, we did escape to Utah for an incredible week with more snowfall in 4 days than we had all season at home!
I spent my winter riding mostly in small bursts here and there. Of note, I began focusing on galloping Griffin for the first time ever. I've never "trained" a horse to gallop before and have grown wary of higher speeds in recent years due to Q's remarkable ability to spook and drop me out of the saddle at higher speeds. Fortunately, Griffin is a good egg (most of the time lol) and we began building more comfort at higher speeds during the winter months.
The biggest event of the winter though was my change in zip code. I moved 5 mountains eastward to the beautiful home on the ridgetop to live with Dave. Adjusting to a work commute of more than 6 minutes for the first time in my life (yes, I have been very fortunate) has been interesting, but I try not to think about the total time suck each day I drive. I love living in Canaan Valley more than anything; the landscape is beautiful and the community is everything I've ever wanted.
Not to be forgotten, I did finally purchase my trailer and bring it home in February! It needed some TLC, but overall I'm really pleased with the trailer for the money I spent.
SpringWith the advent of spring, I lost the incredible trail access I've enjoyed for 5 years due to a really selfish and shitty landowner leasing a large chunk of it that bars my access to the further [better] trails. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't bitter. I try to wish everyone well, but cannot wish anything well on this person. He's not only screwed me over, but all of his neighbors who once shared and enjoyed that piece of land with no squabbles or issues. Shame on you, shitty neighbor.
I spent much of my spring consumed with trying to find a truck. I bought one at a steal of a price, but ultimately wasn't pleased with the shape it was in for hauling so I flipped it, made some money, and then bought an even bigger and better truck. Would I do that again? Oh, hell no. But was it worth it? Absolutely. I love Jolene.
At the end of April, Austen all but kidnapped me and took me to Rolex. It was my first time at the event - and I guess my last considering the name change for the future! We had such a great weekend of shenanigans with other bloggers and Austen's friends from Indiana. I loved my first experience at a 4* event and hope to enjoy more in the future.
As riding picked up for the year, I buckled down focusing on getting Stan conditioned for the August LD by moving him up to Canaan for a month or so. I also spent a lot of time focusing on minutia with Griffin with the goal of getting to a dressage schooling show in early July.
SummerWhat a whirlwind! Work all but consumed me during the summer and it was all I could do to get Stan conditioned for RBTR in early August. Fortunately, we were graced with unseasonably cool weather for race day which lent itself to a 13th place completion (in a field of 30+). Riding Stan at RBTR was the most fun I've had on horseback at an endurance ride in a very, very long time. I didn't realize what I was missing until Stan gave it back to me in the form of an incredibly fun, carefree 30 miles over mountains and across rivers.
When I wasn't riding Stan, I was working with Grif. He and I tackled a dressage schooling show, one XC schooling, and two HTs during the summer months. We competed at Training 1 and 2 at the dressage show and at elementary at the HTs, with a bonus run at BN for XC.
Finally, with RBTR behind me and Griffin's schooling schedule plateaued to a good place, I began bringing Q back into full work after a year off for her suspensory injury. Full work has looked a lot different in this beginning stage, but it's been just what we needed and I'm happy to stay on that track as long as she needs.
I also got my photography website up and running this summer, fulfilling a big year's goal for myself. It will evolve with time, as all things do, but I'm loving it so far.
FallThe horses joined me in Canaan for the month of October, which was wonderful. I was able to see the horses 6-7 days a week for the first time since moving to Canaan and even had Dave join me for a trail ride!
Largely, autumn has been focused a lot on Q. I've deconstructed her spooking habit, worked on dressage, and finally got her back on trail. She's settling into things well, albeit with a few bobbles along the way, as one would expect. Largely though, I'm seeing differences in her and in our relationship. The hope that was dwindling, has grown anew in recent weeks.
A large part of autumn was spent traveling though. After a hellacious summer at work, I was more than happy to spend a week in Cape May banding raptors with my BFF and then 2 weeks traveling in Mexico with Dave.
When travel concluded, I came home and picked up Taiga who has been nothing but wonderful in her month with us. I adore her so much and am grateful that Kenai has fallen into his role of mentor so well (though it did take some time!)
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The end of the year has brought the typical reflections. Despite a tumultuous year outside of my hobbies and passions, I can conclude that personally, I've had a great year. The horses are doing wonderfully, my eventing dreams have been recognized, my climbing and skiing reached new bounds this year, I have a beautiful new home, and an adorable new dog who has completed my little world.
Though from a worldly standpoint and a work standpoint, it has been a very hard year and doesn't look to be getting better anytime soon. I do my best to keep that kind of subject matter away from my blog and out of my passions or I would crumble into a messy heap on the floor and never get up again. However, I don't want to completely dismiss that chaos completely (I do enjoy looking back on my blog and seeing where I was at and what life was like, after all), and would like to leave this year-end-wrap-up with a quote that has resounded with me more than just about anything with regard to all that is going on:
One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast....a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.