Tuesday, December 11, 2018

2018 Year In Review - Part 2


Technically these lessons happened in June, but I blogged about them in July. We took part in a 2 day Anthony clinic again and I felt as though the lack of forwardness we had been battling for a better part of the year was starting to come to a head - and not in a good way. On the first day of the clinic I had brought Spud with me and did some work in the indoor, which went well. The lesson itself went very late due to another horse and rider having issues, so I ended up getting thrown into a group lesson which went well. Once again we addressed my love affair with the inside rein!

Lots of hacking was had in July, too!
Day 2 of the clinic was more of a biomechanics information session, as well as the first time I felt Annie really lock onto a fence! The name of the game of this lesson was "make her bolder" vs pushing her every inch to the fence.

We did a back to back set of weekend clinics, which brings me to our next two-dayer - the Sven Smienk clinic. Both lessons were kinda humiliating and humbling - we started out by addressing Annie's behind the leg problem - which mostly meant I pony-club kicked her around the arena for the better part of 45 minutes, haha. Basically, any kind of resistance (or ignoring) of my aid meant we went galloping around the ring. Leg means forward, mare. Welcome to Forward Bootcamp!! As humiliating as day one was, it worked well  because on Day 2 we had a more agreeable pony.

Taking a breather from clinics, we trail rode, I visited the Boyfriend who was working away from home, and then hit the ring once again. It was a mish-mash of All The Things, as I poked deeper into Annie's resistance, as well as reflecting upon her trail riding training (not very sure-footed, doesn't like to be in the back of the pack, etc).

We jumped our first "big" jump, too haha

In trying to keep with my yearly goals, we set our sights on trail riding and getting Annie more comfortable hacking the narrower trails alone. She did pretty well, especially when I had to dismount, throw one of the dog's up into the saddle, and cross a stream. I also played in the ring a bit before another clinic and show, which gave me glimpses of forward I so longed for!

The most patriotic potato!
It also wouldn't be July without Spud's official cameo in the annual Canada Day parade!


I was unable to blog effectively for most of the year, so a lot of my posts were late. The Cat Armitage clinic and Dressage show was no different, but I'm going to keep it in the month of August!

We started out with a Ride A Test/ Fix A Test with judge Cat Armitage. It was pretty informative, but I found that Annie fizzled out by the time we did redid our test. It was a bit disheartening, to score lower on the second go round, but Cat had also warned me that after our mini-lesson that Annie would be pretty much done.

From the schooling show the following day.
The next day after the Cat Armitage clinic, we jumped off the deep end into another show. We did alright, although Annie was not very happy with having to perform. I wallowed in a bit of frustration, because damnit I've worked hard with this horse and sometimes it seems like all I am doing is slogging through mountains of... stuff.

In August I officially announced we had adopted Ella (back in May) and also described how Annie managed to injure herself grazing in the front paddock dragging a lunge line.

As Annie healed, the Boy, dogs, and I all went to visit my parents on the island. As soon as we got back I wasted no time in hacking her out bareback, as well as hacked with N and AJ. Of course, we got back to work in the ring and had some good rides, too!

Mid-August, Annie's alter-ego, Bannie, reared (ha ha ha) her ugly head during a trail ride and I devised a plan to get her more used to and agreeable during trail rides (esp when she has to be last). I wasn't too worried though, because we were kinda "due" for a bad ride given our slew of mostly agreeable rides the entire year.

In an effort to redeem myself in the Dressage court, I took part in an online Dressage schooling show a friend was hosting. I met up with my Spanish riding friend and another from Alberta to get the test video-taped and sent off before the due date. Annie was pretty good, aside from deciding to have a full blown melt-down and absolutely refused to stay on the correct lead. I ended up cantering her for eternity until she had less opinions and we went back to work to have an actually pretty nice test. The results were posted a little later, in September. Annie and I had actually won our classes and a high point prize!!

Our one TL test from the online show.
Despite our success in the ring, I had a hard time finding the good in all the hard work we did this year. Young horses are hard work, and I was glad that most of the responses were thoughtfully supportive. I had decided with this post that I was going to step back from the regularly scheduled ring rides and stick to evolving smaller things - like our trail riding and general in hand work. It didn't mean I was going to step away from the ring, but more that both Annie and I needed a breather. We worked hard all year - riding 4-5+ times a week, participated in back to back clinics a few times, and hauled quite a bit. I did pull myself together and reflect back on how far we have come, and that is journey is OUR journey. The horse I had bought is long gone now, as she is molding and developing into something more <3


The BVX had actually happened in August, but I was late in blogging on it (theme of the year!!). I took Spud with me this year and he abso-fucking-lutely KILLED it. We pretty much won every single class we entered, and took him a ton of prizes for winning certain classes, as well as winning Driving High Point.

The most handsomest potate.
So friggen proud of him and how far he's come!!

It's like he knows what a badass he is.
The grind didn't stop tho, and even though I put less pressure on Annie and I, I still was working hard to figure out her cross-firing issues. Some keen comments and video-evidence made me realize Annie travels verrrry haunches in. We went down to the basics and started to address it on the lunge line before going back to the saddle, with very good results.

My nephew also started to ride Annie more, which was super cute.

I went back to my regularly scheduled rides and ended up having some awesome hacks and even better rides in the arena. We started to play with counter-canter, which is fun and exciting since trying to get Annie to just canter on the correct lead without switching felt unattainable.

Whoa there, wild mare.
I addressed the importance of having a supportive team backing you, especially ones that actually believe in you. Horses are hard enough on their own - having good friends who can give you a shoulder to cry on is a necessity!

September wouldn't be complete tho without celebrating mine and Spud's anniversary - this year was number four :)

We hacked a lot in September, as well as worked diligently on the property, and I managed to haul Spud into town and drive him on some of the better maintained trails. It was fun to let the pressure off and just enjoy ourselves!


Happened in September but blogged about in October (forever and ever amen!) - Heidi came out with her Spanish mare and we had some fun riding together!! Heidi even hopped aboard and gave me some good fodder for thought. It was neat to have someone else ride her and give their impressions and helpful advice!

Navarro, and Annie!

I dabbled a bit into clicker training, which was actually pretty fun and I started to incorporate it into both of my horse's training regimes.

Never fear, we did manage to get some intense schools in still, but had more fun jumping over a half-rotten log in the middle of the meadow! It served as a good training tool to remind Annie to pick up her feet, esp as we did simple changes. Of course, I also realized just how dark it starts to get in the early evening, which put a damper on a lot of after work rides. It was alright though, because I did manage to get in some more trail riding time with a friend - and Annie was super!

We chugged along for a better part of October, as I realized that soon winter would be here and I wouldn't be able to ride. So, I kicked my butt into gear and we got back into the ring! Of course, that isn't all we did, as we still managed to hit trails, hack around some construction, and chased a runaway Spud who escaped the arena after getting caught scarfing down treats I had in my hoodie pocket.
Another clinic, another lesson!
And boy we got a lot of lessons this year!
Our very last clinic of the year happened in October, and was with Anthony once again. Annie was a bit of a butt and was refusing to stand quietly, but I imagine it was moreso to do with the fact we hadn't hauled anywhere in over three months. She warmed up great until she didn't and we had another discussion about her cross-firing. She got over herself though, and I was proud of myself for dealing with it on my own as we warmed up before our lesson. The lesson was pretty good, although Annie once again felt kinda sucked back and sticky. She came alive once we started jumping though and actually dragged me to quite a few fences, which felt awesome!

I posted a silly "How To" post on getting a conformation photo - don't laugh, I still have to trick her with a carrot to this day in order to get a decent one! I also got stuck in a torrential down-pour with N and AJ, who at one point in the ride, said "It isn't raining that hard!"... and then it completely poured on us.

Oh sweet Ella <3
October also broke my heart in a lot of ways... as we tragically lost our sweet Ella dog. Life is so very precious, and I am still reeling over her loss. It has impacted me in ways I didn't consider. Thankfully, when I was ready, Annie was there to give me a handful of good rides and quality time to brighten my spirits.


In an effort to continue catching up with my blog, I wrote about some rides that happened in October, before Ella passed away. It was hard to write about, but I pressed forward to share the happy memories. The post features riding with a friend who comes up a few times a year and happily drives Spud. I also attempted riding side-saddle in my jump saddle and almost biffed it trying to trot.

As the seasons changed, I managed to do a final catch up on our October rides once and for all. Our last ride for October was Hallowe'en, wherein we rode home bridleless once again.

I took the time to recount some things Annie finally can do, after months and months of repetition. Most hilariously, it took her nearly a year to understand how to pull a bit into her mouth when being offered. Oh, Bannie.

A few readers noted my different writing style, so I addressed it in a blog-post. Basically, young horses are young horses - they'll make you pull your hair out on the best of days, but it's important to not let it get to you too much. Not taking things personally has been a huge step towards being a better horsewoman, and I feel better about stacking the good things together vs always letting the bad things drag me down. Most things in life are temporary - the baby horse shit is one of them!

Everything was so green... it's insane!
In November I also celebrated my birthday, and was able to ride on that day! I can't remember the last time I was actually able to ride on my actual birthday! We had an unfortunate run in with some disrespectful 4x4'ers but it didn't damper the entire ride and both horses were super!

We also hand-walked around a children's playground that was recently erected - I momentarily thought we had ruined the footing, as it is a spongy texture and with Annie's weight it bowed considerably. Thankfully, we didn't, and Annie was good about being led around all the play structures!


The first post for December was revisiting our 2018 season - the shows, outings, lessons, etc. The infographic was actually really painful to make, haha, and took me the better part of five hours. Ick.

The frozen ground - it took a while for it to snow this year!
Since then, the horses have been more or less relegated to Winter Mode - I blogged about the last few rides I managed to squeak in and our awesome farrier appointment back in November. Which finally means I got all caught up on my ride recaps - just in time for the year to be over, haha!

As December continues, we don't have much else planned. Snow has touched down and I did manage to get in a bareback ride in the back paddock. Annie was kinda hot and antsy, but cooled it after some walking exercises. I will say that I am not used to riding bareback though, because my groin is screaming in agony! It was a decent ride, and I hope to get a few more in if the weather allows. The streets are slick with ice, so until they are fully clear and salted, we won't be venturing outside of the safety of the barn and paddocks. Of course, I still intend to do in-hand work where possible. But for now, both horses are seemingly enjoying the time off and I already can't wait for Spring.

A wintery wonderland bareback ride that made my
adductors cry in pain for the next two days.
It's been a heck of a year - as we have a few more weeks to close on December, I hesitate to truly call this blog post finished. A proper, and final salute to 2018 will be made and published closer to the end of December ;)


  1. whew glad i got to read this as I found some posts I missed (SPUD MANIA FOR ONE) OMG SO CUTE. thank you for sharing all the ups and downs both :) Just think December is here, wont be long before the thaw starts (OKAY A FEW MONTHS but still) HA HA HA

    1. how could you miss SPUD MANIA?!


      Oh god... there were plenty of ups and downs. And yes, December is here... I'll be ready to ride next May ahahha. Ugh, winter sucks!!

  2. What a great wrap up. Thank you for sharing your year with us- the highs and the lows.

  3. Spud will forever be the cutest. You've had one helluva year. Cheers to 2019!

    1. Oh god... and he KNOWS he is.

      Upwards and onwards!!

  4. Ok I had no idea Spud was such a ribbon hound! So cute!

    1. He really is, which is hilarious because earlier this year he was a huge asshole about having brakes. Hahah.

  5. congrats on what really truly was a huge year <3

  6. Huge year for you and your pone pones, yay spudlet!