I’ve always been someone who sets goals for myself. It started with my mom pushing us when we were little and learning to play the piano, she wanted us to all be professional musicians and two of my sisters will be, and has carried on from there. I’ve always had goals around my career in HR, some assumed and simple, others more difficult that I have to work towards, and I’ve met or surpassed them all so far. However, things with horses have always been different for me. It started with the fact that we had so few extra resources as we were growing up, I got my first horse when I was 12 years old, that even owning a horse was difficult and there was no way we could afford a trailer, lessons, or appropriate tack. Because of that they always had to be just fun and that carried on as I grew up partially because after being pushed so hard by my mom to compete and be competitive with music I had lost my taste for it with the horses. They were my escape, my fun and the best therapy ever.
Now though, things have changed. I chose to change my career from music to an office job so that I could have horses and be more serious about riding, owning and training them. I have always wanted to be more competitive than I was and now that I’m making a better living it’s something that I can actually pursue in the way I want. Because I changed my career at least partially for horses I feel like I have almost an obligation to myself to pursue this at least for awhile.
I do have realistic expectations though. I’ve been riding since I was 12 and I can stick to anything, have shown a couple of times, had some excellent lessons and trained three ponies, before Katai, that all ended up as children’s’ first ponies. I am great with groundwork and making horses/ponies into safe, excellent citizens that are safe to ride while not teaching them any habits that would be hard to break for any discipline. However, I do still consider myself an intermediate rider and know that to reach any goals with Dressage I will need lots of lessons and hard work. I’ve had so many hurdles in the past such as the lack of resources and time that I haven’t made it as far as I would have liked but I’ve also always known that as soon as I could get a good job it would be completely within reach. When I acquired Katai I looked ahead and knew that I was getting close. I had my dream pony and a new job was within reach.
I took a couple of Dressage lessons that winter and although I couldn’t afford many I learned a lot. I had already lost some weight but during the course of the winter I lost more and brought my total to 45 pounds. I started running, something I NEVER thought I would be able to do, and now run over a mile consistently with the goal of doing a 5K sometime this fall or next spring. Most importantly, at least to me, I started working with Katai. That fall was a huge battle dealing with a pony that was somehow spoiled and scared of people at the same time. She would run right into you and walk all over you but if you approached her first she would spin and run. She was tough to catch, didn’t respect fences, and had no idea about what a halter was much less any other piece of tack. She caught on quickly though and last fall I sat on her for the first time. During the winter she sat mostly because I didn’t have any place to work with her in the snow but right away in the spring we started working again. Now she is doing excellent and would be even better if not for all the other little distractions I’ve had this summer such as taking on a new job, being short a person at the job and doing twice the work I should be, starting a relationship J, and moving myself to a new apartment and Katai to a new facility. However, even with all of these distractions and all that change she has mastered a lot of important skills. She now will tie, hard tie or cross tie, can spend time in a stall, is easy to catch, will pick up all four feet, lunges all three gaits in both directions with side reins or without, trailers beautifully J, and is riding nicely at a walk.
My next hurdle is to move her to a different, bigger facility that has an indoor or at least an outdoor arena and an instructor since there is no way I will be able to afford a truck and trailer anytime soon. To be able to move her I need her to be good at a couple more things first. She has to be able to be ridden walk and trot and safely enough that I don’t feel like she’s going to buck or take off at any moment (she feels great at the walk now but the trot will be a whole different story), she needs to be able to be trimmed by a farrier, and she needs to be more comfortable in a stall/barn. The last part is almost set and after this winter she will be fine in a stall. I just emailed Dan yesterday asking when his farrier would be out next so that I can have her professionally trimmed for the first time. The only part left is up to me and should be easy to achieve by the end of fall. I also plan on continuing to work on myself this fall and will keep running, would like to lose a couple more pounds and will be taking some Dressage lessons.
Why do I want to compete at all? Honestly I’m not sure how much I want to compete. I’ve always thought that it looked like so much fun to be at a show with a horse, to talk with other horse people, show off a bit of what you’ve learned, and have people admiring your cute horse. It’s something I’ve really wanted to do since I first got a horse. For me it’s never been about ribbons or winning, its more about doing better than last time and conquering all of the tough tasks that a horse show embodies for your horse, being around other horses, trailering, being in public, standing quietly, and being around other horse people while getting to ride which is something I truly love. However, there are many things about showing that I don’t love and I don’t know if the wonderful things will outweigh those and I won’t know until I try.