Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Goal Setting

It must be the season for this kind of thing. My work has started the annual review process which includes a lot of 'did you achieve your goals' and setting the goals for next year. We need SMART goals so that our manager will approve them. And then we'll all forget about them about one quarter into the year, but I digress.

In my last lesson, my trainer asked us what our winter goals were. Alas, the two concepts have blurred. So here are my winter goals:

1. Tack experimentation: Find the combination of tack that works best for Fiona. This should include one rig for jumping and one rig for dressage. This will also include a visit with a saddle fitter to make sure that the saddles I have are appropriate for her. This should be completed by April with an eye toward the start of the competition season. We'll measure this by a decrease in teeth grinding, head popping, and improvement with her sore back. This also includes getting her going in my bareback pad. If the saddles make her sore, that should fix it. And might prove very entertaining for the kids around the barn.

2. Jumping position: For the love of all the little gods, I need to fix my jumping position. What is my lower leg doing? Where are my hips going? I am not doing the chicken dance, so what is with my elbows? Do I call that a release? Of any kind? This is unacceptable. I've seen the photos from the three phase I went to, and I was appalled at what I'm jumping like. I used to be an equitation rider! Sure, that kind of style isn't suited to cross country, but my stadium rides shouldn't look like I'm standing on my stirrups and trying to fall off. Because I'm sure Fiona will be perfectly happy to let me exit the ride if I don't get my upper body under control. If anyone wants to see the damage for yourself, this is the link to the photographer gallery. There is one picture I fell in love with and have a copy of for my office. Who could resist that face cross country?

The plan: No stirrups. At least five minutes every single ride this winter at the posting trot or in a jumping position, and at least one ride a week with no stirrups on my saddle. As in I pop them off and leave them in the barn. Take my stirrups up about two holes when jumping compared to where they are now (which means new stirrup leathers, damn my short legs). Finally, I'm going back to the basics. Get into a jumping position, trot a cross rail, grab some freaking mane. I did that last night and after a couple jumps where I just didn't move? The princess settled down and jumped quieter. Hmmm, gee, I wonder . . .

3. Ride outside: This is harder to do in the winter, but she has her snow shoes on. I'll just have to bundle up and head out on the weekends when the sun is still up. I don't want her to get ring sour, and it will be good for us. I'd like to do it once a week, but I think once every two weeks is more reasonable with New England weather.

4. Dressage clinics: We have monthly dressage clinics offered all winter. I want to do three of them. Fiona needs the specialized attention. She's got a lot of potential, but a lot of tension. I'm working on my patience so I don't rush her. That's probably part of why she's back sore now, too much too fast. Or from her acting a fool in turn out. Or a bit of both.

5. Have some fun: Teach her to ground tie. Introduce her to cap pistols. Do some trail obstacles. Go bareback with her new hackmore. Do not endlessly drill dressage all winter. Not sure how to make this one measurable, but it's definitely one of my goals for the winter.

This should keep me more than occupied all winter. Of course I'm expecting Mother Nature and the nature of horsey things to throw monkey wrenches in everything, but at least there's a plan starting out the year.

And my hackmore literally just arrived. How the heck do I put this thing together? It has pieces! No one said it required assembly!

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