This post is a little belated, but better now than never.
2017 was mixed bag in more ways than one. The year started off on a high note as I finally got to try something I dreamed of since I started this horse thing. In February, I participated in a mounted archery clinic and shooting arrows while riding a horse is just as EPIC as it sounds. I have since gotten my own recurve bow, arrows, and a target and intend to practice when opportunity allows. There aren't many places in NJ where it is legal (and convenient) to shoot so I have to redouble my efforts to find a location where I can get some range time.
In April, I hauled my trailer for the first time. It was just a simple practice run to make sure everything hooked up and worked fine before I stuck Quest in it and took us on the road. It was a little nerve-wracking at first but totally manageable. Mareface and I also started playing with baby jumps that month and she took to it really well. Throughout May and June, we added in fun jump sessions as part of our weekly riding schedule for some cross-training and mental breaks. We continued to explore new training trails and I was looking forward to signing us up for our first distance ride of later that year.
All competition plans came crashing down in July when I went to grab Quest out of pasture and she was lame. With the help of the vet and farrier, we traced the issue back to her clubfoot and addressed it accordingly with corrective shoeing. I was bitterly disappointed to face yet another setback but it was what it was. Erring on the side of caution, I decided to let Quest recover and pasture rest for the remainder of the year.
I was not looking forward enduring yet more time out of the saddle and away from the trails but as luck would have had it, I was invited last-minute to catch ride at Muckleratz CTR in August. I had a lot of fun that weekend and it was just what I needed to lift my mood.
In October, I headed out to Los Angeles and spent some time riding endurance horses on the west coast. It was a trip that reoriented my head and heart when I desperately needed to be set back on course. D and I still continue to communicate now and she has been invaluable source of support and advice.
December started off pretty rough emotionally when I found out that Smokey was going to be put down. I was able to visit him at the old barn and gave him a nice long grooming session complete with treats. I still miss him everyday. The days afterward were difficult, but thanks to my good friends I somehow managed to get through. In attempts to end 2017 in a positive way, I took a week-long staycation and got in a wonderful bareback ride with Quest. It was our first ride in months and it felt like it was coming home. Mareface was totally sound and absolutely perfect, not a foot out of line.
I'm not naive enough to believe that Quest and I are done with our share of challenges on this distance riding journey together but we are back in action, and hopefully older and wiser. Bring on 2018.