First of all, THANK YOU for the kind comments and support following the loss of our chicken. It was a hard day and caused a little regression. It also let me see how far I've come in terms of my resilience. I am doing well although I'm having recurring dreams of the horses outside of the pasture. I am sure those will fade.
I really wanted to write a goal recap before the end of 2020. But I am late and that will have to do.
Overall I am counting 2020 as a success from the equestrian standpoint. Sure I didn't get to any shows but I had a lot of other highlights that I didn't even miss the shows in the end (although I did miss my show friends).
Without further ado here's the recap on my 2020 goals:
1. Increase our confidence and trust in one another:
A. Increase Carmen's tolerance and confidence in dealing with the unexpected.
B. Increase my confidence and trust that Carmen can deal with the unexpected.
We both have increased confidence. I worked really hard to not let my mind go to the worst case scenario but to focus on the positive. And it really helped. I honestly feel that Carmen is quite self-confident most days. I will also say that a large chunk of her bolting/spooking this year was more about work avoidance than actual fear.
A collateral gain of this is that I have more confidence in myself to deal with things and I don't worry so much about her feelings in the sense of fear. when she's agitated I soften and try to be supportive rather than tense for the bolt and shorten the reins.
2. Actively choose my emotion when I'm working with the horses.
This is a work in progress but I'm a lot farther down teh road than last year. I can remember when I felt like a victim to Carmen's emotions. I realized that I do this with people too- feed off their energy and let it dictate mine. It's not easy to work on this but it sure does pay off.
It's not that I'm never frustrated or that things don't spiral. But it's rarer and of shorter duration. If I don't feel in a good place emotionally I don't ride. And by 'in a good place' I mean having the resources to deal with what comes up. There are times when I'm tired or less than chipper but I still ride. And times when I just don't because I have nothing. Then I groom and spend time puttering with the horses.
3. Increase Carmen's adjustability-
This is definitely improving. I can put my leg on softly and feel her stretch out in her stride, or I can still my seat and feel her come back. She is understanding the work and trying hard to listen. In fact, lengthening and shortening her stride is my 'go to' exercise when she's feeling amped up and like she's going to 'blow'. It helps her settle down.
there is a lot more to improve with this and she probably could have come farther (especially with a more talented rider) but I feel that I worked within her zone.
4. Improve my seat.
Honestly, I feel this is one of my bigger improvements this year. I am so much better at staying with her and in the saddle. The Better Balance Clinic helped a ton! I've been working on the concepts and each time they make more sense to me. The 'ground and grow' is so helpful to not pinching my thighs and leaning forward.
I've also been working on my own fitness which helps. I got a ton of help in my regular lessons with Shanea. She was able to help me understand when things weren't working whether it my ask or Carmen's emotions causing the difficulty.
5. Support horse events by volunteering.
Well, *gestures vaguely with hands* you know.
6. Do things that are fun.
My 'fun' plans definitely changed this year. But honestly, the things I did were super fun. I think 2020 taught us to really enjoy the time we could get because who know if it would last. I spent a lot of time with some friends in early February at all the lobster events. When things shut down me would meet over zoom and now we get together in our small 'bubble'. I hacked more on my property than I have a in a long time.
And who could ever forget the epic BEACH RIDE? Not me that's for sure. A lot of my epic horse moments involve Karen in some way. I don't want that to ever change.