Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 Recap

It's been a year of big lessons and decisions.


The year started off full of hope and excitement as I eagerly anticipated beginning my first year of LDs with my own horse. There was only one major snowstorm in January so Quest and I were able to make the most of the rail trails by WSS, braving the cold to condition for the upcoming season. As the weather turned from winter to spring, I began to gear us up for rides with new tack and purchased insurance for Quest a few weeks before our first CTR...Little did I know this would be the most important decision I would make all year. 

Mareface and I tackled our first distance ride event together as a team the last weekend in March. Quest took great care of herself metabolically, eating and drinking up a storm and was remarkably sane on the trails. However the sweetness of our first completion turned bittersweet when a mystery lameness was diagnosed as a front right suspensory injury a few days later. Ride plans for the rest of the year were scratched and our schedule was filled instead with shockwave treatments and handwalks. Unmanageable in a stall and small paddock, Quest was happiest in pasture with her herd. I took the chance and had her turned out 24/7, praying for no re-injury and that she would heal and rehabilitate in her own time.

While mareface recovered, I dealt with my own emotional setback. Feeling incredibly discouraged and defeated, I took a month-long hiatus June though July from blogging and social media to take time for myself and mentally reset. I did continue to ride during this time though and was very lucky to have friends willing to let me borrow their horses for some saddle time when I needed it most. I also tentatively made plans to catch ride later in the LD season with J’s horse, Dip but he became suddenly ill and had to be put down. It was a sad way to end summer.

In September, Quest returned to 100% soundness and we moved to OF the first weekend in October. The new barn was closer to home/work for me and it had the amenities I needed to begin Quest's undersaddle rehabilitation. Our first rides back were happily uneventful and even included a short solo trail outing. Mareface handled the reintroduction to light work very well and I signed us up for a walk-only hunter pace held at the barn. It was our first "competitive" event in 7-8 months and while we didn't win anything, I had the biggest smile on my face the entire morning.

I also took my first ever "horse vacation" that month and did a 15 mile trail ride at an endurance barn in Dallas, Texas. It was an amazing experience and I gained a new riding mentor as well.

As Quest got stronger, long slow distance was added into the rehab plan in November and we did our first long trail ride walking 11 miles. In the weeks following we did lots of solo walk-only trail rides as the weather allowed and at the end of the month, I added back the trot during our evening arena bareback rides.

The month of December was a continuation of adding more trot increments/time and more trail rides. My friend A moved her horse Mel to OF and we start pasture boarding in the same field. Around this time I invited my friend B to visit the barn. She had never ridden a horse before. Quest was her introduction to horseback riding and mareface was so patient with her newbie rider in the indoor arena. B had a great time that morning and wants to ride more; I would say that was an equine ambassador job well done!

Determined to end 2016 on a better note than it started, I decided to purchase a trailer to get Quest and me out exploring and conditioning next year. There's a lot that needs to happen before we can take advantage of our new found freedom but this is a huge milestone in my equestrian journey.

Looking back, I would say this has been the most trying year in my three years of doing this "horse thing". But to endure means to persevere through the good times and the bad. Quest and I had more than our fair share of bad times but we are getting through them, slowly but surely. Endurance is still our end goal but that will happen in due time. Now that I actually have my own trailer, we'll be tackling this sport at a pace that is appropriate for us without the rush and worry of matching other people's ride schedules.

There's no telling what next year will bring and there will likely be even more lessons to learn. No matter what happens though, we'll take each day as it comes and make the best of every moment. Here's to 2017.

12 comments:

  1. I'm glad 2016 is ending on a great note for you. Having your own trailer is going to grant you so much freedom to condition and compete how you see fit.

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    1. I admit to having moments wondering if I bit off more than I could chew but the more I think about it though, the more convinced I am that this was the right decision to make!

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  2. I know the year did not go as planned for you, but you did such a great job rehabbing Quest and keeping yourself in the saddle at the same time. I'm glad I got to meet you before things went south, and I hope to see you back on trail in the near future. I nodded along as you turned Quest out with the other horses for her rehab. The DQ's and hunter riders cringe at the thought, but so many endurance riders use a year of turn out to successfully treat a wide variety of ailments.

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    1. Thanks Dom, it was very nerve-wracking for a few months but I'm really grateful that pasture ended up being the right choice. It was wonderful to meet you too- I hope that it'll be the first of many meetings

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  3. disappointing that it wasn't the year you had hoped it would be starting out... but it really seems like you made the most of it! love the idea of 'to endure is to persevere' - and as the endurance riders say, 'to complete is to win.' can't wait to see what 2017 brings!!!

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    1. I think it was a year of learning how to be resilient no matter what the circumstances were, which is sometimes a tough lesson to learn!

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  4. You bounced back strong from a major setback and with class. I hope 2017 goes beautifully for you two and I'm excited to hear where your new freedom takes you. Happy trails!

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    1. Thanks Liz <3 I'm hoping for a much better riding year for sure but we'll take it day as it comes!

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  5. So glad to hear that your suspensory rehab is going well! This gives me hope. Ink is up to 30 min tack walks now, and whew the rehab process sure is long and no fun! Hope 2017 is a great year for you!

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    1. So glad to hear she's doing better, I've been thinking of you two lately!

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  6. Happy New Year! A trailer is an exciting addition and opens up so many possibilities for you and Quest in the future!

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  7. Congrats on the trailer purchase! That's on my 2017 to-do list for sure. 2017 is gonna be a great year for you :)

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