I wasn’t going to do a year-end review for 2015. Then I realized how useful I find these when I start reading a new blog, so between that and my own reference purposes, I talked myself into it. It’s a good thing to do. So here it is: a year-end review in February.
January was a sunny, California-in-drought winter month. I met my goals for three works a week (one arena ride, one round pen session, one bareback wander). We started seriously experimenting with bale bag feedings: started in December, committed in January.
We found a newly cut tree on the trail in February – wow, it really was that long ago! – and had a minor meltdown. Hikers showed up before we could resolve our difference of opinions. We re-did the battle of wills the next weekend and my opinion (forwards, politely) triumphed. Chainsaws and falling trees were deemed a non-issue.
In conditioning notes, we managed a 4.9mph average over 8 miles towards the end of February. This is super exciting in my world. I think it still is. I apparently quit making notes about speed after that, but I think we reached a 5mph average on a conditioning ride once in 2015. It was a strange year for conditioning.
I went to my first AERC convention in March. Confetti was a properly terrible beginner lesson pony for my friend, reminding me why I don’t make her do that very often. We had equine craniosacral and saddle fitting work done, concluded my Eurolight was really not working for me, tweaked the Thorowgood a bit too.
The month did not end well. One of the Best Ponies that I had the honor of riding over the past few years colicked and was put to sleep.
April went by in a blur. I noted that her issues with bonding to other horses/wanting to follow other horses home had popped back up. Frankly, it’s probably a good thing that the winter was good for conditioning: I’m not sure we did anything productive in April.
So after a month of inconsistent riding and probably minimal real conditioning, we headed off to the Mount Diablo NATRC ride the first weekend in May. The good: horse drank on trail even from puddles, human mounted well on trail, we acquired a bubble and when we could keep it (by leaving other horses) did fine. The bad: blasting up a stupid steep hill to keep up with the other horses, insisting on keeping up when other horses passed, terrible manners when we were the only horse left at the vet check, inconsistently pulsing to criteria right away (though admittedly trotting in/trotting hills for some of those).
I broke another crupper ring in May. I started seriously contemplating saddle shopping in large part due to crupper issues. Shortly thereafter, I bought a metal crupper T and quit trying to use rings on that saddle.
I set up a lesson with a local trainer in hopes of dealing with some of Fetti’s being-passed-on-trail issues. It did not go well and eliminated my easiest local option. Trainer and I had vastly different ideas of ‘success’, among other things, and I spent a not-insignificant amount of time on future rides dealing with the aftermath from this one particular lesson.
In early June, I came off when she bucked on a trail ride. We followed that with a good, serious ride hanging out with some friendly bikes, and continued our discussions about Forwards Please. When the opportunity arose, I signed us up for our first multiday. Pony feels good enough to buck me off? Pony can go to a real ride!
Wild Wild West went beautifully, aside from the hoof boots. I’m not placing any blame on anyone here, even in hindsight, it just really sucked. I didn’t have spares for the fronts (they worked fine at Mount Diablo, I naively thought I wouldn’t need them) and definitely didn’t have spares for the hinds (er, why bother?!). Loop one, day one: two hind captivators, zero hind shells, plus the front right boot that came off early in the loop but was in my pack. Finished the 30 bare. Day two, riding with hoof boot guru Aurora and using borrowed boots from Mel for the hinds, we obsessively watched boots and best I can tell, the front right flew down a cliff. Finished the 35 with three boots and a very, very slight gait aberration in that RF. We skipped day three. RF resolved within 24 hours, and I suspect it was a result of being the only hoof that went bare for almost the entire 60+ miles.
In early July, we acquired four delightful black barn kittens. They were really hard to take photos of, so I didn’t really blog about them for a while.
I finally got in contact with the Specialized reps/general saddle fitters in mid July, after trying on and off since May. I also completed a full set of boots, plus some front spares. Yay! We continued our discussions about Forwards Please and sticky spots. At least we’re consistent?
Otherwise, we were pretty well burned out in July, and spent several weeks being regular, respectable trail riders with no conditioning agenda. I did a lot of that bareback and most of that with friends. It didn’t feel like she wanted to work, so I didn’t push her. After a few weeks off, she decided she was ready to go back to work. We really didn’t take the winter off (it didn’t rain much!) so if this was the mental break she needed, that was just fine. Also, we met a helicopter.
August was hot. We didn’t ride much, because it was hot and we’re weather-wimps. But no, seriously: it was the hottest I can recall it being in the past five years living where I do. I don’t normally wish for air conditioning.
The saddle fitters came out near the end of the month. They evaluated my Eurolight (too small for me, workable for Confetti) and evaluated the Thorowgood (has lumpy spots, needs some reflocking). Yikes. I tried a number of other saddles that they had, ran some numbers, and had them reflock the Thorowgood. Within a week I sold my Eurolight and ordered a slightly larger brand-new Eurolight, crossing my fingers it would arrive before Quicksilver in October so I could potentially attempt a 50. I’ve said for ages that I did not want to ride 50 in my dressage saddle.
September brought the unexpected opportunity to head six hours north with a horse and rider I had never met, so naturally I took it. There were so many moving pieces to make this work, y’all. Also: see above? I did not want to ride 50 in my dressage saddle? Cuneo Creek looked like a good first 50, so we signed up. The Eurolight did not arrive. I frantically ordered a few new parts and pieces to kit out the Thorowgood. I stressed about a zillion things, half of which settled the evening before when Cyd said we could go out with her and Bugsy. Oh thank goodness. Confetti had 100% the best brain she’s ever had on a ride pretty much the whole way through and it was a delightful experience. I did not, in fact, have major issues in the dressage saddle and we successfully completed our first 50. Somewhere in here, Fetti decided she wasn’t so sure about trailers and started lightly balking. I am unimpressed. A dressage whip gets her on without drama.
October brought the Quicksilver ride. We completed 25 miles with Olivia and Nilla. Confetti finished with energy to spare and wondered why we were done so soon. She also failed spectacularly at backing out of a trailer with rear tack, but escaped (twice) unscathed and I don’t have any to practice on. Oh – and my new saddle arrived, mere days before Quicksilver. I spent the rest of October tweaking the new saddle as I participated in 2pointober for the first time. My ability to remain in two-point was nothing short of astonishing. Next year: bareback?
The great twelve-foot move of 2015 took place in November, where we were finally able to move into the corner paddock. Hooray! I was kinda-sorta riding twice a week with a round pen session or two weekly in between, but the dam was still down and my mental state was generally good. We went for a beach ride with Olivia and Dijon that I completely failed to blog about. It was a very nice ride and it absolutely deserved a blog post. (I may put one up still, over two months late.) I think it is the only time we hauled out all year aside from competitions.
I think we went for a grand total of two real rides in December. Maybe three? For the first half of the month, I mostly saw Fetti via headlamp. Mid-month, a brisk ride turned into a Serious Discussion and test of stubbornness. After that, I came down with a nasty cold that knocked me out for nearly two weeks over the holidays, with barn time limited and rides fairly minimal. Somewhere in there the dam was up, but then they took it back down, so that was exciting.
Totals for the year:
first 50! first back-to-back rides (30/35)! another 25!
Exorbitant amounts of energy spent on saddle fitting!
One new saddle, one reflocked saddle, zero new saddle pads. One new Garmin 310XT.
Four new barn kittens
There were absolutely high points to 2015, but I am glad for it to be over.