Looking ahead: Goals for November War Horse HT

This weekend marks what may be our final competition of the year. I’ve got a recognized event penciled in on the calendar, but I suspect we are not quite ready to make that kind of commitment, though I am sorely tempted.

So, with that in mind, and knowing a bit more about Jack with 3 shows under our belts, I have a few goals in mind for our second Beginner Novice Horse Trials.

  1. End on a number and not a letter.
    This is priority number one. No goofing and getting a technical elimination on my part, no tossing me off into the dirt on Jack’s part. Just stick together and jump all the jumps in the right order.
  2. Score in the low 30s dressage.
    We’re still refining those dressage skillz, but I feel like I should be able to ask more of him than in September. Depending on how tired he is, I may even wear spurs (gasp!) to get a little more oomph. The main goal is not to receive a comment about needing more push from behind.
  3. Double clear SJ and XC
    This is totally doable, and mostly requires me to keep my head in the game and my leg on. For XC, I would really like to get a good momentum going and keep it through the course rather than have the stutter-stop rhythm we had before.
  4. Have Jack be a happier creature in his stall
    I’m going to have some Perfect Prep, and Ulcergard, handy and at the ready for the show. Since we will be sans friends on the trailer, I hope the experience will be a slightly less stressful one for everyone.

Fingers crossed!




Assessing 2016 Goals

2016 was a roller coaster year for us. In a lot of ways it signifies the closing of several long chapters, and the starting of new stories. In April we sold our house of 3 years, and in May my beloved Foster became someone else’s to love. But we also purchased our dream home, and in September I went crazy bought myself a gangly 4 year old warmblood sight-unseen. So with that in mind, let’s look at my original intentions for the year.

2016 Goals

The Horse:

  1. Find the perfect situation for Foster. Done, and unintentionally done again.
  2. Keep riding, even if catch riding Thank you Darcy and Riley for keeping me in the saddle
  3. Participate in at least one dressage clinic Nope!
Darcy dressaging

Darcy dressaging

The House:

  1. Paint upstairs – hallway, study, State room
  2. Wrap up giant handyman to-do list covering all sorts of small sins
  3. Declutter in the extreme….
  4. In order to put the house on the market!

This was a wrap!! 15 showings and a full-price offer within 24 hours on the market!

House on a Hill 1.0 Before and After

House on a Hill 1.0 Before and After

The Rest:

  1. Health
    • Eat less red meat  Thanks to the husband’s willpower
    • Make a dedicated effort to consider myself an athlete as a rider and take responsibility for staying in decent shape Yes, until September
  2. Concentrate on photography and expanding my range of work
    • Complete 10-15 sessions this spring – my fingers are itching for that shutter button! 11 shoots this year total- still looking for more!
    • First newborn session! Didn’t happen- but first maternity session did!
  3. Stay positive and keep calamities in perspective Found some balance in my life and a new positive attitude
  4. Focus on savings Saved those pennies and then lost them buying a horse!


Final Thoughts
I think 2016 will forever stand out in my mind as a bittersweet year. Bitter in the loss of Foster as my eventing and everyday partner, but sweet in the realization of selling the house- the culmination of 3 years of hard work and literal blood, tears, and lots and lots of sweat. I will say that I’m a happier person now than I was at this time a year ago, and I’m thankful for all that went into that as well.

Goals for Smitty

How has it been two months since I first met Smitty? How time flies! But now that I know the little fella a bit, I can make a list of goals, of both the pie-in-the-sky and realistic variety, for us to aim for before the end of the year.

The Horse

  • Mouthy baby is mouthy- reduce the inclination to have to be pacified in order to behave (this includes chewing on reins, stealing my dressage whip, and even hinting at putting parts of the human in his mouth)
  • Get his mane pulled without antics
  • Jump off-property
  • Meet a dressage court [and stay inside of it]
  • Jump the first cross country jumps


The Tack

  • Find a [cheap] dressage saddle with smaller blocks
  • Get the jumping saddle [and possible dressage saddle] professionally OK’d/fitted
  • Bust out the old Stubben bridle
  • Sell the former dressage saddle
  • Ditch the dressage whip for jumping, introduce the bat
  • Find a shimmable mattes pad without breaking the bank?
  • Get a nameplate for his halter (because who doesn’t want a fancy smancy halter!)


The Human

  • Stop being a freaking weenie about the outdoor ring
  • Order photos of the new pony
  • Make up a damn stable sign, already!
  • Install quieter legs (any suggestions here?)
  • Make a basic lesson plan for the baby pony
Being brave in the great wide open

Being brave in the great wide open

Revised 2016 Goals

Moving forward with the idea of thinking proactively, I’ve decided I’m going to come up with a revised set of goals for the year. Because just because my entire horsey list got dashed 6 days into the year doesn’t mean I can’t have things to work towards for the next 11 months.

So, knowing oh so well that man proposes, but God disposes, here are my lightly-written-in-pencil plans.

First and foremost…

  1. Find the perfect situation for Foster.


Homeboy owes me nothing, and I owe him a lot (post coming). After so much discussion, doubts, and pleas to trusted friends for advice, the right situation for Foster is looking like a new rider. That could be a long term free lease situation, but more likely it will be a permanent change with one hell of a first-right-of-refusal contract (Hello, lawyer husband- aren’t you a handy one). More on this later.

  1. Keep riding.
Catch riding in 2010 during Ivan's absence

Catch riding in 2010 during Ivan’s absence

Whether it’s Foster while he’s still with me, another horse, I don’t want to give up this hobby. Heartbreaking as it can be, horses are a part of who I am and my identity- so that’s not going to change. I’m lucky enough to have some options for this, and once I figure out Foster I’ll be able to share more.

  1. Focus on savings
Lots of photoshoots hopefully in the future!

Lots of photoshoots hopefully in the future!

There’s a whole lot of balls in the air right now, and a key to feeling secure in any of the directions this year will take me will desire a bit of cash in my back pocket. So I’ve got to make a big effort to redirect my dollars to the savings account, something I’ve only been so-so at in the past.

2016. From the hopeful year of redemption to the year of guess-we’ll-see-what-happens.

2015 Goal Review

It’s almost the end of the year, which means that it’s time to look back at the goals I made in January and see how we’ve done!

Horse Goals

  • Here’s the big one! Move up to Training!
  • Increase strength in haunches through cavaletti work (2-3x/week)
  • Walk-Canter-Walk transitions
    • Lead changes
  • Completing a Second Level dressage test with a score over 63%
  • Get a 7 on a lengthening  completed 2/11/15

Bahahahahahahahaha…. goals. Ulcers knocked us out from February until about April. The only silver lining is that prior to this we did complete a winter clinic at the Carolina Horse Park, where you could say we moved up to Training, except that it didn’t include cross country- so I’m going to call that goal incomplete. We did however make great new contacts in Mr. Robert Costello, trainer extraodinaire, and also got a 7 in our first attempt at a judged lengthening, all at that outing.


In the short time between April and July when we were in full work, I can proudly say that Foster’s booty was strong. While some of this was cavaletti/ground pole related, a lot of it probably had to do with the more intense collected work we did, including starting to teach piaffe. I’m going to call that one a win.


The rest, as you all know, is a wash. After a lesson at the end of June with Bobby C, Foster became NQR to downright lame. After throwing all kind of diagnostic tests at him we eventually discovered negative palmar angles and a bone chip in his front right stifle. Everything post August has been about recovering from surgery.

Personal 2015 Goals

  • Be a better competitor
  • Stop over-thinking the distance
  • Stop overthinking people
  • Lose 10 lb

Well- the first 2 obviously being horse related didn’t happen. So let’s look at the last couple. A couple months ago I had some minor health issues that put my anxiety through the roof, and finding a solution to [all of that] has been a major life-changer for me. So win on the ‘not overthinking people’ goal. Then happily, as a result of starting to ride again, sticking to a pretty low-carb/non-starch diet  change in my diet has allowed me to lose the 10 pounds as well.  I feel a lot better and have way more energy to boot- no more 2pm caffeine crash! Win.

A photo from our Christmas party this weekend- gotta love being surrounded by such fun horsewomen!

A photo from our Christmas party this weekend- gotta love being surrounded by such fun horsewomen!

House 2015 Goals

  • Granite kitchen countertop
  • Aerate + seed front and back yard
  • Paint upstairs hallway
  • Paint the NC State Room
  • Be better about blogging about the house!

Hey, look! Some big goals accomplished here- how about that. The kitchen finally got it’s complete makeover, in the form of both the granite countertops and something that wasn’t even on the list- painting the kitchen cabinets! All this has definitely provided some (in my mind) interesting house fodder for the blog- what do you guys think? The other painting projects got left behind as a result of focusing on the kitchen- but I see a roller in my future very soon!


If I were looking at my goals list alone, it looks like a total failure. Our success rate is 42% –  not so hot by anyone’s standards. But, looking at the bigger picture, there are still some big accomplishments.

The silver lining of Foster’s situation is that I learned a lot more about what my horse takes to be healthy and happy (i.e, ulcer prevention techniques, icing after workouts, etc etc). By taking the time to really truly diagnose his NQR lameness, we discovered a bone chip, and by proactively doing surgery, are hopefully prolonging his career as a sporthorse. I can close 2015 by knowing I have done absolutely everything within my power to help him be successful in 2016 and years to come. And that’s a comforting feeling.

My sweet boy in his pre-surgery photoshoot

My sweet boy in his pre-surgery photoshoot

The house has undergone huge changes, and bar several small projects, feels done. The culmination of this was our Christmas Party this weekend, when everyone finally got to see the kitchen in all it’s madeover glory, and truthfully, it made me so proud to think of all the husband and I have accomplished. It’s been a wild 2.5 years, and the end is in sight!

Front of house

A full before and after House post coming in 2016!

And then there’s those pesky personal goals. I didn’t get a chance to improve my overall competitor attitude, but the year’s challenges have (I think) made me a better horsewoman. Certainly someone more knowledgeable about little things like bone chips and ulcers, at the least. I’ve made changes in finding a better me as well, though that will certainly always be a work in progress.

Fair Hill

2015- another year of changes, challenges, and a little cheer. 2016 – looking to you to be a year of happiness and success!

2015 Goals

It’s now January 2015, which means a theoretical new start, and new resolutions and goals to be made. Some of the below list should be completely do-able, others, a little more dreamy but possible if luck stays with us and we’re dedicated to the effort. Here’s our list of hopeful accomplishments for the year!

For the Horse:

  • Here’s the big one! Move up to Training!
    Aiming for a May unrecognized horse trials at CHP. By then I hope we can come to grips with jumping more consistently again (boo daylight savings time) and hopefully have some Training CT’s under our belt. Date may move because, well, horses.
  • Increase strength in haunches
    Cavaletti work here we come.
  • Walk-Canter-Walk transitions
    which hopefully leads to….
  • Lead changes?
    Maybe! But it also leads to…
  • Completing a Second Level dressage test with a score over 63%
    A lofty goal for sure, but might be possible by the end of the year, if our schedule works out.
  • Get a 7 on a lengthening
    Which is going to be hard for my pony.. but we’ll try!
Preparing for Training, I hope.

Preparing for Training, I hope.

For me:

  • Be a better competitor
    By this I mean, get to the damn warm up ring with plenty of time, get to the start box with at least 1 minute to spare, put together a first-aid kit just for shows
  • Stop over-thinking the distance
    I’m irritating the you-know-what out of myself for overanalyzing the spot- looking forward to hopefully not doing this so much in 2015
  • Stop overthinking people
    Let it go, let it go!
  • Insert annoying weight-loss resolution here!
    I’ve got a beach vacation in February (hopefully) and a sexy bridesmaid dress in April- motivation!


For the House:

  • Granite countertops in the kitchen!!
    Please happen! Because I’m. So. Excited.
  • Aerate + seed front and back yard
    So we’re not the worst lawn in the neighborhood
  • Paint upstairs hallway
    Because red wine stains are not the color-du-jour
  • Paint the NC State Room
    Let’s face it, the Carolina room should never have gotten that much of a lead.
  • Be better about blogging about the house!
    Since 2 posts a year kind of makes the blog’s title a joke.
Better grass for Drake, please.

Better grass for Drake, please.

Happy 2015 to all, and may you accomplish all you set out to do this year!

Goal Check

Thanks to Viva Carlos and Poor Woman Showing, I realized that crap, it’s December, and oh yeah, what about those goals I set at the beginning of the year? Is there any chance of completing the remaining goals in the next few weeks?

The house goals have all been met, and then some- again, update post coming. Design goals- maybe there won’t be a design blog, still fiddling around with the idea so we’ll see.

One goal conquered- this brush fence!

One goal conquered- this brush fence!

Otherwise, here’s the list of goals I set for Foster for the winter:

  • Lengthenings, and lengthening-to-collected transitions I’m going to call this checked, since we commonly practice it now, and while not perfect, it’s happening. Finally.
  • Keep hacking away at canter transitions Yup, made big progress with this- still not perfect, but hacked away at, it is
  • School corners – showjumping style
  • Angled fences/combinations need to do more of this, but we started
  • School chevron if at all possible still not sure if this is possible? 
  • Introduce conditioning program
  • Clip all the fur! check.

Go figure the remaining goals to be met are the jumping ones. Of course, this is my weak link, especially when in the winter all I want to do is be a dressage queen. Also, if I’m honest, I find it a struggle to get time in the jumping arena after work with the current lesson schedules and Foster hasn’t cared for that arena in the dark which makes me loathe to go up there alone and jump school anyways. Phew, glad I got that off my chest. Time to grow a pair/make jump schools happen on weekends/find a buddy to watch me jump at night, I guess. Ugh.

Why, yes, I do fancy myself a DQ sometimes.. ill-fitting boots and all.

Why, yes, I do fancy myself a DQ sometimes.. ill-fitting boots and all.

Some other stuff going on that I haven’t decided if I want to share yet publicly.. otherwise it’s all about the house and updating stuff before the weekend! Yay!

Pre-show prep: On the Leaderboard

So, this happened:


Cabin Branch Series Championship Leaderboard

Cool! Not like, of course, we have any chance of winning (extra points for Foster’s good looks? no?), or really getting anywhere near the top, but it was neat to see. My luck has been that we’ve either placed in the top 4 or the bottom 2 (mostly thanks to me going off course in some way or another) at pretty much every competition for the last year. Foster’s dressage scores have been as follows at the last 3 shows:

  • CHP May HT: 31.3
  • Recognized Show @ FENCE: 30
  • CHP October HT: 31.7

So we’re scoring pretty consistently in the low 30’s, and my goal for this next show is to bring any 6’s up to 7’s. Here’s looking at you, canter departs! Also, I’ll be disappointed in myself if I get comments about his haunches being right. For jumping, I just hope to go double clear in both phases, and not have a sticky jumping round. Our jumping record for the last 3 shows has been this:

  • CHP May HT: double-clear SJ and XC
  • Recognized Show @ FENCE:  2 rails SJ / double-clear XC (with rider timing issue)
  • CHP October HT: 1 time fault SJ / double clear XC

Not perfect, but I’m not complaining. The 2 rails at FENCE were mostly my fault- he was unbalanced for the first, and a little flat for the second. Going double-clear this weekend would mean a lot to me, and I have faith in Foster’s abilities to make it happen!

So our more specific goals for the weekend are this:

  • 7’s on canter departs and downward transitions
  • 8 on free walk/medium walk
  • no comments about haunches in
  • square halt
  • no time faults showjumping
  • land on the correct lead every time
  • balance before every fence
  • no jumping or time faults cross-country
  • forward, forward, forward!
  • Have fun!!! (So excited- we have a huge group going!)


2014 Goals: Progress Check

Where the heck did this year go? Honestly, times has flown by, and now that we are officially 3/4 through 2014, it’s time to check in and see how we’re doing.

Original goals as outlined in this post:

Move up to Novice! Check!

Move up to Novice! Check!

For Fosterpants:

  • Move up to Novice
  • Final score under 35 at Novice
  • Nail canter transitions (we kind of interrupted this one by changing his complete way of going, so still a work in progress)
  • Trot lengthenings
  • Master trakehner fences
  • Coffin combinations
  • Conditioning work (no conditioning-specific routine yet, but preparing for show by getting fit is still happening)
Wood floors for the win

Wood floors for the win


For the House:

  • Landscape front and backyard
  • Kitchen transformation
  • Replace grody couch


For Me:

  • Calcium supplements
  • Not be Red Bull Zombie  (we’ll pretend. Still have to caffeinate at horse shows)
  • Be more positive (Eh, it’s been a rough year in some ways.. still working on it!)

That’s a lot checked off our list, but still work to be done through the fall and winter. Adding to the list and getting a little more specific, here’s what I would like to get accomplished in the next few months.

Foster, Foster, Foster:

  • Lengthenings, and lengthening-to-collected transitions
  • Keep hacking away at canter transitions
  • School corners – showjumping style
  • Angled fences/combinations
  • School chevron if at all possible
  • Introduce conditioning program
  • Clip all the fur!
Canter canter canter

Canter canter canter


  • Watch the grass grow 🙂


  • Wrap up current Farm Logo project for client
  • Edit Bridal Shoot photos
  • Create specific blog for Design work

It’s going to be a busy, busy winter!

Around the House: Spring Updates

This spring we have been busy busy trying to get some big goals accomplished! Namely, these include fixing the fireplace and remodeling the kitchen, half bathroom, and sun room. Now, we are about halfway through these projects, which means everything is a little catty-wampus, but it’s a step in the right direction…

Before: no glass, no logs, and a pet gate to keep the furbabies away… Now: Glass and a safe, functioning fireplace!


Out with the white, and in with the laminate!

Out with the white, and in with the laminate!

And then, I’m getting a little ahead of myself, but here’s what’s going on with the kitchen!

The floors still need staining, but Drake approves of the progress so far!

The floors still need staining, but Drake approves of the progress so far!

Of course, as far as the kitchen goes, the new floors mark 1/4 of the whole remodel being complete. Eventually, the goal is to put in new countertops, update the cabinets with paint and crown molding, and replace the white appliances. You might say it’s a work in progress!

Lots more changes outside happening as well, but that’s another post!