In the grand scheme of things, 2017 is a year I’d like to forget. I started off the year thinking positively and wanting to get out of my comfort zone. I was ready to embrace the first year of my 30s and make it the best year ever.
Things were going pretty well in the winter and spring. I was pretty busy traveling for work, but I was able to get Oh So out to a couple of shows. We could have won Morven Park in March, but decided it was a bit too wet to run cross-country and withdrew, but we had a good run at the Loch Moy Starter Trial in April.
I was all set to try my first recognized dressage show with him in May when I got bucked off when Thomas freaked while I was getting on, just a few days after Rolex.
After my first trip in an ambulance, first stay in a hospital and first major surgery, I had to move back in with my parents for three months.
It was the longest time I’ve ever gone without riding, and it killed me that Oh So was just sitting around doing nothing all summer. It totally ruined my competition year and any chance of eventing. There were lots of tears, pain and frustrations about that and a newfound fear, questioning of my riding ability and a sense of my own mortality that I’ve never felt before.
I was determined to get back on my feet to go to Rebecca Farm in July, and I made it! Checking that event off my bucket list was a huge physical accomplishment and a dream come true.
I got back on Oh So after I came back from Montana, and I was surprised by how quickly I came back to riding and how I didn’t feel totally out of it. I think I surprised myself that the world did not in fact end when I wasn’t able to ride for three months, but it still took out any chance of an eventing season in the fall since I wasn’t quite ready to stand in the tack and gallop across country.
Thankfully I was strong enough to try some dressage shows, so we finally tried our hand at a recognized show, and it was awful! But I gave us both a pass since we hadn’t been off property in awhile and only had one lesson. After that Oh So settled in, and we went to a few schooling shows and scored very well.
I entered a starter trial in October, but it was sadly rained out, so that put the kibosh on any hopes of getting to an event since it was the last one of the year.
Luckily I was able to go on my European vacation that I had to miss in May because of my accident. I had a busy trip across several countries, and lucked out on the late fall weather.
I traveled 14 weekends this year for COTH and checked off Rebecca Farm, Tryon International Equestrian Center and Pine Top from my bucket list.
I learned a hard lesson this year about what the right horse is for me, and while I feel like it was a colossal waste of time and money in the end with not much gained, I think surviving my first major injury made me stronger, and I really felt supported and loved by my friends and family.
My competition season was a complete wash, but I also can’t help but think and hope that maybe the few months Oh So had off will help him last just a little bit longer. He’ll be 18 next year, and he feels better than ever. He had a good checkup in the spring and recently had some chiropractic work done, and was in fairly good shape. I’m hoping I can continue that now on a regular basis now that I’m not paying for two horses. I’m going to put all my resources into making him as comfortable as possible.
We may not be jumping as high or galloping as fast as we used to, but he’s still just as excited about his job. I think he’s finally decided that dressage isn’t so bad, and he’s gotten more consistent in recent years, so I’m enjoying our time working on second and third level movements, and I’m hoping we can put it all together this year at recognized shows.
It’s hard to have goals with him because of his age, but my hope is to get some solid scores at first and second level this year and qualify for Regional dressage championships. I’ve been working on his troublesome right to left flying change, and if we can get that and I can learn to sit the medium trot, I think third level could be a goal too, and long term, a USDF bronze medal would be a dream.
I’m hoping to continue competing at novice and maybe we’ll try some Twilight Eventing at Loch Moy too.
But first I have to make it out of winter. We’re having record cold temperatures right now, so there won’t be much riding for the next week unfortunately!
Here’s to a better 2018 for everyone! Happy New Year!