New Year, New Focus

Mabel's Goal: Eat More Treats
A year ago, I set myself some goals for 2016. Let's see how those worked out.

1. Score 30 or under on a dressage test. This was a huge WIN! My scores steadily dropped over the course of the year and I ended the 2016 show season on a 30. That was a big victory for me after realizing earlier in the year that I had to re-work my understanding of what a good connection really was.

2. Complete a BN horse trial with no XC penalties. Heh. Fail. Such fail. After a not-very confident and refusal-filled XC run at Burgundy Hollow during our first BN outing of the season, Dino and I started having major issues over fences. We would go on to drop back down a level, take a big step back from competition, and spend time addressing physical issues and going back to basics and regaining confidence.

3. Finish on my dressage score. WIN! I nailed this goal when I competed Sully in a horse trial.

4. Finish in the top 3 at any horse trial. Fail. My best eventing placing continues to stall out at 4th.

5. Compete at at least 1 new venue. Win! We entered an event derby at EZ-GO Stable and had a fantastic day.

6. HAVE FUN at every single event we attend. I'd say this was marginally successful? While we did have fun at almost every event in at least one phase, our attempt at running Plantation in June was a rather miserable experience all around, so much so that I don't think I'll go back. Our second go at Burgundy Hollow later in the summer, this time at a lower level, was also not the most fun day, though I do think it was a needed step in the right direction.

It's funny how things don't quite pan out the way we hope they will! I started the year with a whole lot of optimism and determination, and even dreams of moving up to Novice, only to get knocked down a few pegs and have to start at the bottom of the eventing ladder all over again. Now that all is said and done, I can say I'm honestly happy with where we are now and what we've learned, even though the year included a lot fewer blue ribbons than I wished for.

As a result of the way 2016 changed my trajectory, outlook, and priorities in riding, these are the goals I'm setting for 2017:

1. Foxhunt at least 4 times. While I would LOVE to join the hunt next year, time and finances are a real obstacle, especially if I also want to show and take lessons. In light of that, I want to get out and cap AT LEAST once more than we did this season!

2. Trail ride off-property once a month. I know this might be a stretch since I'm not 100% comfortable hauling out to trail ride alone at this point, so it partially depends on my friends' schedules, but Dino and I love trail riding too much to make it only a "once in a while" activity.

3. Jump a BN stadium course again (or equivalent jumper course) at a show with no jump penalties. 2'7" is starting to look a lot less intimidating to me in lessons and schooling, and I think all of the slow, patient work we've put in this year will go a long way to getting us competing back at BN height again, at least in the stadium ring.

4. School max-height BN XC fences again. I'm not going to be so foolish as to make it a goal to compete a full BN HT at this point, but as long as my pony stays sound and happy in his work, I want to continue to increase our confidence out on cross-country and work towards jumping bigger jumps again. I think hunting and jumping on the trail more often will do a lot for that!

5. Score under 30 in eventing dressage or 68% or higher in straight dressage. Self-explanatory. I want to keep improving those scores and build on the work we've done this year!

6. Keep Dino happy, healthy, and looking half his age. I plan to continue with bodywork, saddle fit checks, Pentosan injections, and amending his diet and training as-needed in the new year. As my little buddy gets older, I know his needs may start to change, and I'm prepared to stay on top of that.

7. Compete in a hunter derby or hunter trials - on the flat AND over fences. The weather and footing quashed my hunter trial jumping dreams this year, but I'd still like to have a go at it in 2017!

8. Ride bareback and bridleless (neck rope only) around our entire property, w/t/c. I just think this would be awesome to do! THINK OF THE PHOTOS!

More hunting in 2017, please!
If we end up really rocking and rolling and all the pieces fall into place next year, I DO have a few far-fetched Reach Goals, too:

1. Compete in First Level dressage The last time I rode a First Level test was 2008. I've got my work cut out for me here.

2. Complete a BN Event Derby If we can get back to confidently jumping BN stadium rounds and schooling some BN XC jumps, I think this might actually be doable!

3. School Novice XC & Stadium Fences This is a stretch. But a girl can dream!

4. Complete a BN HT With No Jump Penalties SUPER DUPER REACH GOAL. Just the thought of doing this makes me hyperventilate as I write it down. But - WHAT IF I could be confident enough to attempt this again?! I could die happy.

My goals have changed a bit, haven't they?! They're less competition- and results-focused and more development-focused. While I want to get out there and have fun and successful show experiences in the new year, it's more important to me that Dino and I continue to develop our relationship, improve our skills, get stronger, and progress at whatever pace is right for us. Despite what I may dream about accomplishing, improving our show record isn't at the forefront of my priority list. If we happen to be able to make strides in the show ring this year, I would feel incredibly fortunate! But if all we do is continue to learn, take lessons, trail ride, chase foxes, and have fun at shows bopping around 2' courses, that's just fine, too.


  1. Those are GREAT goals and congratulations on all that you and Dino accomplished last year!

  2. The ribbons and scores will come -- just keep working and you'll improve!

  3. You have another goal. Take Sully 3 times eventing, get low 30 in dressage on him.

  4. hey when runkles better I'll totally go trail riding with you!!!

  5. You guys are gonna GET IT in 2017!

  6. I love your goals, we share a bunch of them! Good luck and here's to a fun and successful 2017!

  7. great goals - you guys really killed it this past year, even if it didn't end up looking the way you had expected or hoped at the outset. i'm excited to see what 2017 brings you and hope it involves more blogger horsie meet ups!!!

  8. You and Dino had a bumpy start this year, but you two really came back strong! I think you're going to surprise yourself with where you finish out next year. Can't wait to follow along!

  9. These are such great goals, Allison! ps. I know this is a weird thing to post here, but I had a funny dream last night that you were taking a Jimmy Wofford clinic at my farm and you were riding Dino bareback in it!


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