A long review of 2015 and a hint of excitement for 2016

Its that time of year again to reflect on where things started and where they ended up. I started this year off optimistically. Lots of big ideas and plans, and the ever present excitement of being part of the TBS family. There were a lot of changes on the horse front this year, which may or may not have been apparent on the blog. I started off really committed to improving the blog, but as I was distracted the posts dried up a little.

One of the major changes was that Rob and I moved the horses into pasture board and were able to find a little more balance. It wasn’t entirely smooth at first, but it eventually settled down. No more running out to clean stalls and feed horses and turn out ponies. Now we were able to take a day off from the barn now and then. We also finally had most of the equipment we needed. It was time to start looking at improving some things, instead of the wild buying spree of the past couple of years. We managed to sell more at the tack sale then we bought, which is pretty crazy.

I took a more active role in the horse’s health this year. Gracie had a melanoma removed. We tried out the chiropractor with Gracie, Knots and Gracie got their teeth floated, and there were shoes at different times of year. Gracie’s weird udder thing got an ultrasound. Luckily we didn’t have any major emergencies, just some minor cuts and bruising. We got serious about saddle fitting, although that is still a work in progress. The horses were in great shape at different parts of the year, and we had top lines at different points. Of course, now they have hay bellies and no top line, but balance right?

Competition wise, we had a big start and a bigger plan: Novice in December. Rob and I both competed at the High Point Derbies, Knots and I went beginner novice and Gracie and Rob went green as grass. Rob was having nervous dreams, which actually turned out to be close to reality. No one got eliminated! I made some big plans for the rest of the year, and then things just kept getting crossed off.

Its always a combination of money, preparedness/time, and transportation. Luckily, transportation is done being a problem, at least on the TBS front. There is a new 6 horse trailer, and we have some friends that are happy to lend a two horse trailer. Rob and I are still driving non-towing-capable vehicles, the focus and explorer. The explorer has been handy with barn things and being able to actually load a vehicle with stuff and people and the dog. Maybe with graduation looming we can bring home a handsome truck and a handy trailer.

We had a little re-emergence in the fall, I went beginner novice at Pine Hill with Knots. There were some sweet professional photographs that I still haven’t been able to purchase, but maybe one day. I didn’t get to take Jellybean to a show, despite a last minute plan to take her to High Point Farm, but maybe soon. She has been doing great, its just a matter of going somewhere and then evaluating. Knots and I didn’t make novice in December. I think we could have made it around if we continued training from October, but being totally honest, I didn’t ride for a month after the show. Work-life balance isn’t easy.

On the lesson front, I dropped the ball for the most part. Jumping lessons were very few and far in between. There were a couple of cross country schoolings (and another oneand then another one) that made things a bit better. There were some miscommunications and some surprise lameness episodes that made things a little bit disappointing. Dressage lessons were an inspiration. First some tough talk, and then some improvement. Sarah Denham is an amazing person, and Knots has improved a lot this year. We still aren’t even close to scoring under 40, but I can see the numbers on the horizon if we get a bit more consistent.

***Warning, non-horsey blah ahead, read if you like, skip to the next horse section if you want to stay on topic.

School has been really killer this year. I started out committed to the PhD program, but after a crappy spring semester with abysmal teaching evaluations (despite my professor being extremely pleased), some rethinking about research dedication, and [finally] investigating career opportunities, I have changed basically everything. I’m going to be graduating with a Master of Science degree in Biochemistry in May, and I can’t wait to be finished.

Thanks to my work at the barn and my career investigations, I have realized that I really enjoy teaching people how to reach their potential. And having a PhD isn’t going to be the best way for me to meet those goals. I’ve recently started working in publishing, specifically scholarly book publishing, and I’m loving it. I really want to continue working towards a position where I can work with authors to develop their story. I think developmental editing will be a career where I can work on multiple projects (to fight boredom) and see the difference I’m making. Teaching isn’t totally out the window at this point, but its a back burner idea for now.

As far as teaching at the barn, I have really enjoyed this last year. The clientele has exploded, and we have such great students. We have made huge improvements to every aspect of the barn, including fencing, shelters, arena footing, and the club house. We said goodbye to several employees, clients, and horses while welcoming new team members, new clients, and new horses. Our lesson string improved and lots of our clients welcomed new horses into their lives. I started working with new students and got to make a difference at summer camps. Our students got to show and learn some new horse and life lessons. I am so proud of everyone! I really just love watching their successes.

Looking forward to this next year, I’m very optimistic. I’m not really sure enough about work to start making lots of plans, but I feel the optimism at the barn and I’m happy to be a part of it. I have some light goals I’m thinking about in the back of my mind: I want to take Jellybean to a show, Knots to another beginner novice or novice, and I’d like to get Gracie worked out and rideable. I’d like to go foxhunting this winter.

Just a few more months of craziness before this graduate school thing winds down. While I haven’t been super consistent this year with riding or my own lessons, I feel like our progress isn’t measured in show results and outings. I really just want to have fun riding my horses. And I succeed at that every time I saddle up.


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