dancing horses

dancing horses

Sunday, January 12, 2020

2020 Visioning

Two days ago we had so much snow that I had to strap on snowshoes to take the dogs on their walk. Then the temperatures became unseasonably warm and today it's pouring rain.
Irish really enjoyed the snow- 

so did Ripley
and Guiness.
It's hard to believe but this snow is all gone now (3 days later)

I guess it's time to wrote out my goals for this upcoming year. Last year I had a lot of success focussing on the process rather than the outcome that I'm going to do the same this year. It's not an easy thing to develop goals. I will be building on what I did last year and, yet, there is this urge to think of 'new and exciting' goals. I also spent some time really thinking about myself, about Carmen and about what I want from our partnership (honestly, maybe I should do this about my marriage...).

Here are the goals I have set for 2020, with the caveat that I may pivot on some of them if it makes sense.

1. Increase our confidence and trust in one another

A.  Increase Carmen's tolerance and confidence in dealing with the unexpected.

This won't be because I've thrown everything at her and she's shut down- I want her to be engaged and curious. I have seen real growth in this area with her- anything new in the barn requires her full inspection and she is not worried. I'm going to continue to use the TRT Method stuff- it really does help. And there are other things out there.

B. Increase my confidence and trust that Carmen can deal with the unexpected.

Again we're getting there. Doing the groundwork of releasing pressure when she found the answer has translated really well to the under saddle cue of me dropping the reins and letting her stand. It works. When I feel less confident that it will work my hand reaches out and holds the grab strap.

here's an example of me dropping the rein

2. Actively choose my emotion when I'm working with the horses. 

We've all heard the comment that 'emotions have no place when you're in the saddle' (or similar). I have spent a great deal of time squashing my fear or worry or frustration into a little box and sitting on it. 

The problem is that the horses always know when you do that. Animals that evolved to be constantly responding to environmental cues to avoid predators are very aware of not only their surroundings but of the emotions of the herd. You can see it out in the pasture, all are grazing and then when one alerts to something they all do the same (with some variations).  

I have a personal belief that happiness is a choice. This doesn't mean that large events/tragedies will not impact our emotions- of course they do. And I'm not talking about depression. 

I'm talking about the regular day to day emotions. In my day, if I feel grumpy I can find lots of things to justify that emotion. Same with happiness or sadness. I've been working on this in the barn a lot. Every morning I'm working on actively choosing to be cheerful and happy around the horses as opposed to tired, cranky and jonesing for coffee. It's amazing the difference it makes in them- now they check in with me in the morning rather than shutting me out while they eat. I'm so freaking fortunate to have my horses home with me and I need to let that inform my emotions. 

I want to also do that in the saddle. I want to choose to be happy/content rather than scared, worried or frustrated. 

I'm not 100% sure (or even 60%) how I will tackle this or how it will look. But I'm going to try. The little I've been able to do has had a positive impact on our rides so I'm pretty sure that this is the right track. I'm also pretty sure that I will wander off the path a bit too. 

3. Increase Carmen's adjustability
a) within gaits.

This leads to a totally 'product goal' of wanting to show Second Level this year. To really nail it I need to be able to adjust her stride. It's coming. But there's a lot more I can do in this area.

Carmen: isn't it enough that I've adjusted to living in the North? You want more?!

b) In her body: increase her softening and bending. She has a tendency to hold herself tight and straight. It's all related to her mental state of course but it is also a habit.

4. Improve my seat.

I want to be able to have my seat in the saddle and be able to sit these larger gaits that I'm asking of her. I want to be balanced with her so that I don't grip with my thighs.

see- thighs are tight and I'm popping out of the saddle, even if I am balanced

 My goal is to be able to ride a lengthen without being thrown out the saddle. I am going to work on a looser, more following hand. To that end,  I am going to continue to lesson with Shanea. I'm going to do clinics with Johanna and Karen. And other clinics as seem to be appropriate.

5.  Do things that are fun.

Carmen: snow is not fun- see Irish has fallen

I will continue to hack out and meet ups with friends as much as I can. I have also signed up for a one day Working Equitation clinic. I am sure that will be a blast. Jumping lessons for sure! I'm going to see what other things are out there for me to do. 

6. Support horse events by volunteering. 

I have volunteered a lot in the past. Then I withdrew into my farm and have not really given back for a while. I am going to show Carmen this year so volunteering there is likely not going to happen. But I am sure that there are other things I can do. I don't even necessarily mean a show. To be honest, this show is a little vague but I'm going to stick my head up and see what's going on out there that I can add value to. 

I could write about 20 more goals,  I am sure but they will all relate to these ones; so I'm going to leave it at six (well 10 if you count the ones with two parts but don't do that). If I make progress on these I'll be pretty happy. 

Now I just need the winter to be mild and short. 

even if my house does look pretty


  1. i love these goals!!! i'm with ya on really enjoying pursuing the process moreso than the outcome, tho yea haha it's tricky figuring out how those process goals grow and change over time too... i like how you put these together tho! wishing you a mild short winter too so that it can all come together soon :)

    1. Thank you for the feedback- I struggled with how to phrase them!

  2. Great goals, but that picture of your house is GORGEOUS!!!

    1. Thank you. We love our house. It's been a lot of work to remodel but the bones are the same.

  3. Sounds like a great list of goals! I am with you on the process vs outcome goals and find it leaking over into how I parent and how I approach my marriage. The older you get the more you realize how everything is connected and how much improvement in non horsie areas improve your horse life and vice versa.

  4. Excellent goals

    "Do things that are fun" YESSSS

  5. I like your mindset goals - I was listening to a podcast the other day for riders and the thoughts were similar. The 'expert' said it's important to acknowledge all of what you're feeling (and there are no 'good' or 'bad' emotions) but to try to stay self aware enough to make a conscious choice as to what you need to embrace and follow in the moment and what isn't serving you well and you need to file away to deal with and let go of.

    1. That sounds like a great podcast! Can you share? And yes, although it's often hard to do in the moment!

  6. What a beautiful breakdown of goals! I love the organization and thought you put into this.

    1. Thanks. And as soon as I hit 'publish' I thought of more. But they all fit under those so it's all good.

  7. Definitely with you on the process vs outcome reality. One of my favorite clinicians says that in becoming a better horse(wo)man, you become a better human. It's a nice unintended consequence. That last shot of your farmhouse is gorgeous!

    1. Thank you! I am enjoying the process goals. They definitely are less prone to making me feel like a failure.

  8. Replies
    1. Thank you! I appreciate your approval (which sounds snippy but I don't mean it like that- I'm being honest).

  9. Excellent goals. I hope you like WE. I really enjoyed the little I've done of it.

    1. I am pretty sure that I'm going to like it.


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