After the reality check known as 2017, I had pretty realistic goals going into 2018.
1. Complete a (non competition) cross country course
Eh? I did take him out to school in the cross country field. It was inspiring to the other riders, but not in the way I wanted. His land porpoise gets more frightening as he gets more powerful. Isn't he supposed to age out of this nonsense? I didn't take him anywhere else to do this as I frankly just didn't want to after his magnificent airs above the ground at home. I did, however, swap in a bomb proofing clinic that entirely fulfilled the intent of this goal. After everything being on fire? The dressage arena was far less frightening. I learned to be completely confident in my ability to sit his spin and bolt so it was no longer keeping me from riding.
2. Compete in western dressage
HELL YES. We knocked the socks off this one.
Theo is a natural at Western Dressage. He won freaking everything, including Level 1 Adult Amateur and High Point Adult Amateur at the championships. The only reason we're not totally trading disciplines is the lack of shows. And my obsession with getting my USDF bronze.
3. Trail ride somewhere completely new
I feel like I took him so many places and hacked him out in all new facilities, but didn't do any trail rides for the sake of trail rides. I need to work on this.
4. Get back over 60% at a sanctioned show.
When we kept our brains in our skulls, we totally nailed this. We're qualified for freestyle even with the new rules.
5. Go for a gallop
Does the land porpoise impression count? I took him out to open him up, but usually in enclosed places. Because I like living. This one was a miss but with his canter issues, I wasn't doing much cantering for 2018 until he got his hocks done.
6. Show in dressage like a boss
Done, done, and done.
We finally figured out how to do our thing with people watching. It was a combination of a terrifying bomb proofing clinic, the accumulation of miles, a revamp of how we enter the ring, our time in Western Dressage, and getting to the point that First 3 genuinely feels easy to both of us. I'm not praying going into the transitions or holding my breath in the canter loop. We're both comfortable and confirmed.
As far as hitting goals go, 2018 was a bit hit and miss. As far as Theo and I growing goes? 2018 was awesome. We had some bad rides and some bad tests, we had some canter trouble that required vet intervention, but we also managed to get ourselves together and get confident in the show ring. He also cemented his role as school master, taking his other rider to a couple of shows with solid scores and a lot of smiles. We made great strides in our training and in how we work together. Theo is fat, happy, and eternally sassy. I'm less fat, happy, and eternally sassy right back.
We're sliding into 2019 more experienced, more confident, and better prepared.