Friday, December 31, 2010

Change is gonna come

52 weeks have come and gone again.

To say it was a quiet year would be an understatement. We didn't compete, just re-focused on what we needed to and handled the extraordinary circumstances that accumulated into a highly successful year.

We not only solidified ourselves for the competitive year ahead, but added a huge amount of depth and expertise to the team. It took 12 months of revamping, schooling, conditioning and re-tooling to be where we are now.

With the weather on the mend we'll see the start of the season soon and a few other things

Horsey Stuff:
  1. Condition and train through I1. Gotta nail them tempi's!
    We conditioned through PSG. She is solid there.
  2. Continue to teach and train Sincere. Make him a responsible citizen.
    More than responsible, he is growing up to be a very nice individual. I want him to grow up FASTER. 
  3. Acquire more farm implements.
    Acquired a trailer and a new truck. Bobcat lends me their Tool Cat. Does that count?
  4. Successfully execute clinics.
    We not only did that but formed the company behind them ( We hosted five, including Edward Gal and Christoph Hess. We'll see more of them next year too.
  5. Save for Embryo Transfer
    Unfortunately no. I tried, but the burden of starting a business, and paying bills on multiple things actually decimated my accounts.

Non Horsey stuff:
  1. Repair credit score, develop more savings
    Repaired, but decimated my savings. My 401k though is doing pretty good.
  2. Go to school
    Attending L program. That should count for something.
  3. Develop more 'me' time.
    Despite busy schedule I did take off a few days here and there to be away from the horses and to be with family and friends. I didn't get to travel much due to double work obligations and the WEG, but it was incredibly special to have all my friends visit all at once. 

  1. Horsey Stuff:
  2. Finish bronze
  3. Go PSG and 4th level
  4. Continue to teach and train Sincere, bring him to shows
  5. Finish first part of L program
  6. Continue to grow the business
  7. Save for 2012 breeding and in general
  8. Improve wardrobe
It's going to be an interesting time... 

    Tuesday, December 28, 2010

    Amateur Hour

    The winter has given me a bit more time to write and more time to think.

    In the US, horse people over the age of 21 are seperated in to two categories: Professional and Amateur.

    When I turned the magical age, I was no different. I made my decision to stay amateur.

    At the time it wasn't a tough decision.

    I was with a newly minted bachelor's degree, a real job and a number of things that distinctly defined being an amateur.

    As the years went on, I really started to resent my status.

    I disliked the fact I couldn't compensate my time and what time I did have in the saddle was limited. I had to be careful about riding and always constantly aware of my boundaries. Finally, that the game became one of money and not of ability.

    I also thought that having scores at training level actually equated to something and being a newly minted twenty something I also thought I ruled the universe. 
    I was on the verge of burning my card, going pro and making a big mistake.

    Then I woke up and smelled the cupcakes.

    Being an amateur isn't about limitations, it's about opportunity.

    Collectively, there isn't an expectation for amateurs.

    If anything we're expected to pay our dues, take a few lessons, volunteer, go to a couple of shows and potentially progress. If we're lucky we'll get our bronze, a few good scores and great memories.

    Therein lies the joy: no expectations. 

    While a lot of us don't have money, we do have time and choice.

    AA's are in a unique situation. I don't know of any place else in the world where a person can be picky about what they choose to bring through the levels, who to train with, openly making mistakes, taking Pudding Head to a show or responsibilities we would like to take (or not) on.

    I personally do not have to answer to students. I do not have to take on horses that I feel that wouldn't go through the levels or benefit me in some personal way. I don't need to get on a horse that may kill me or was sent to me for a thirty day fix. I don't need to sell my best horses because I need to pay my bills. I'm content staying competitive or non-competitive. I don't need to qualify for anything I don't want to. I can still be an official. I don't have to play too many politics.

    I ride, I train, I clean my stalls, I go home. I have a steady income with insurance.

    In my own amateur way, while it seems like a cop-out, it's not about who got here first. It's how long you can last, and there are many things that I needed (and still needing) before I make a leap into that realm. I can be far more protective about my record, my ponies' records, I can build things up at my pace without too much hassle.

    So while I will not be able to earn individual sponsorship, or be paid, I can still train effectively, still learn from the best, choose my shows wisely and be far more in control of my equine career. 

    It's good to be an amateur, for now. 

    Friday, December 24, 2010

    Lephant in the room

    Even though winter bites (falling on ice in my barn's driveway today is the highlight so far), it has provided a good opportunity to plan and plot for the upcoming months. 

    During my research, I found out about the L program being held in Ohio this year and the next.

    Doing the L program and, ultimately becoming a judge, has been a goal of mine since '09. 

    Normally the program is held in Michigan from winter to spring, and then again in fall. Michigan from Kentucky is roughly a six hour drive, and a pill to fly into during the winter. So, I had applied, late, thinking that all spots were filled.

    Received the call the other day from USDF notifying me that I am an L Judge Candidate.

    This is a step in the direction where I would like to end up with my USEF card. 

    Over the next two years I have to attend all sessions, and test to obtain license. I also have to finish out my score requirements, and by May, I should have most of my sitting hours completed in advance of the 2012 deadline.

    I have to say, I'm really excited, but there is a challenge ahead. I need to compete, and finish out my bronze early in the year (April/May) and then buckle down for the finishing climb to FEI so things are set for the later plans.This helping run 12 clinics, a board position, a young horse to show and a full time job to balance.

    Sunday, December 19, 2010

    Teach me baby

    Ah youth.

    The snow pack has finally stabilized enough in some areas that walking actually feels safe again.

    Sinari is now on two weeks sans turnout (hand walking up and down the aisle everyday) because I nearly busted my butt going up and down the driveway just walking. She's taking it well, but massive bribery has occurred meanwhile

    Sincere though seems to be fairing very well in the recent downturn in weather. Even went out and shot a few photos of the long yearling.

    It's hard to say where he's going somedays. First glance he can easily fit into the hunter mold with a nice sloping shoulder and compact build. If I took him to the line, he wouldn't be terribly out of place. But then he moves and he can move large, and being 1 and 3/4's he's actually really well balanced. Then he gallops across what, to my footing princess eyes deems challenging, without really thinking twice.

    So in the end, he'll decide what he wants to do. Right now, I'm just enjoying him.

    Monday, December 13, 2010

    Can't stop thinking about tomorrow

    In the past two weeks, we've managed to work a total of four times.

    This seriously sucks.

    Even though we have an indoor, we still need to trek to it over the ice and tundra. There is the warm up that never really happens, the work that doesn't seem terribly productive and the three days of down time between rides because the temperature drops to single digits.

    Then there is the pesky temperature. While Kentucky has never been known as a sub-tropical winter state, but it is also not known for snow and ice. This year, we have both, in spades. It's making life more difficult.

    Sinari doesn't get turned out in foul weather, Sincere comes inside and I explore my other hobby: baking. The weather makes for jittery ponies and me wishing for a more southern location. 

    But with the down time comes time for planning and plotting.

    My first ultimate goal is to get holiday shopping out of the way. I've been having trouble thinking of things for people this year. 

    After that, first plan is to get Sincere gelded, there is an appointment on the books to do so immediately after holiday. The boy is a little over a year and a half and is now getting the heft of a young stallion. Time for the lower lobotomy. Somedays I still wish he was a filly, but it wouldn't be the same. If not looking too bad he'll be aimed for the Sport Horse Nationals late September.

    Sinari's schedule is trickier. There are a number of shows to aim for, a number of things to do and prove. The plan is to finish scores out at third level and spend the majority of the summer running through PSG. Run through PSG and hit the fall shows.

    As for myself, if the USDF website would cooperate, I need to find the dates for the L program in Ohio. 

    Sunday, December 5, 2010

    Little boy blue

    I haven't posted too much lately about Sincere, simply because nothing really exciting is happening to him yet. He eat, he sleeps, socializes and does the young horse thing pretty well. 

    It's his second winter here. I remember the blanket Sincere wore last year. It was three sizes too big and the tail flap hung down to his gaskins.

    Not this year. He fits it perfectly. Among other things, he went up a halter size, his tail is way longer, main blonder. His feet are bigger. His head is clunky. Still likes to canter around, but when he trots, he's got a good trot. He's becoming more horse like without loosing the pony aspect of things.

    Now I'm actually hoping he'll reach the 14 hand mark.

    I'm dreaming of a not-so-white Christmas

    Snow came early this year. Really early. So much so that I've become intensely jealous of the riders who post on their Facebook status that they're wintering in sunny Florida.

    I'm still riding and working around the barns, but the weather is making me less enthusiastic about getting out of the house, and more about curling up with a few books. Youtube is also a recent addiction, training videos give me more to work on regularly.

    Sinari is doing incredibly well despite weather swings. We've managed to hold down a consistent schooling schedule. It's also December, which means a recap of goals:

    -Flexion. More permeable on the inside to an adjusting aid.
    Far better. Getting 30 percent more without doing twice the work is feeling great. However keeping it for a full 30 minutes can be hard.

    -Transitions in and out of gaits and between gaits. Reaching more for 8's now instead of 7's.
    Better, but reaction needs to be quicker. 

    -Halt, reinback walk transitions
    Worked on some, but not enough.

    -Fit enough to run through 3-1 or 3-2.
    Ran through 3-1, did well.

    -Snowbird entry.
    Very glad we avoided this one, we had a bad snow storm. 

    Goals December:
    -1/2 Pirouette to full pirouette
    -Quality between-gait transitions
    -Changes on different lines/set ups

    December also means Christmas. Here's my wish list:

    Love Back on Track products. Sinari rides in a Back on Track saddle pad. Seriously goes better because of it. Now I would like five of them, the hock boots and blanket for daily therapy.
    My old schooling pair has finally become that- a schooling pair. I really need a new pair of boots.

    I would like to organize my trailer for next year. Apparently we have a decent show schedule planned.

    Other than the minor stuff (shadbelly, supplies, a million tax free dollars, complete state of the art barn with super footing, serum to make Sincere age about a year, ect), I feel lost as what to ask for this year.