What a year. Wow. I started the year with no real guidance or training. I was ready to give up on my dreams of a Bronze since I didn't know if we could do it. Or how to get there.
February brought us Trainer Z and a plan to make our goals a reality.
This was really the biggest event of 2019. Trainer Z rode Theo and declared that we were ready for Second and there was no reason to stop at Third. We could do it and she was going to show us the way. All of a sudden I had a map and someone to show me where I was on it. I stopped wondering if I could do Second and started wondering when I would move up.
I set out on a very aggressive show schedule to make the most of my year.
We had good shows, we had bad shows. Some days he was an angel, some days he was a land porpoise. I got everything between 64% and 55% at Second but we got our Second Level scores for our Bronze. We also got our first 70 in both standard dressage and western dressage. Theo is still undefeated in western dressage.
I also learned that miles won't make Theo easier to manage at away shows. He's not a good horse for multi-day shows. It's been a difficult pill to swallow but every horse has their flaws. I've learned to respect this and to focus on day shows.
By the end of the show season, we were actually comfortable in our Second Level tests and I didn't want to puke on my way down centerline. A very important victory.
And then the wheels came off at the barn. We moved to a new barn with very little notice. We made new friends and started riding with Trainer D. Jumping became a regular event and Theo blossomed with the additional cross-training and improved care.
We've come a long way from being the pair that was always in last place. This year we had good scores and good ribbons (an amazing number of yellow ribbons, not sure what's up with that). People now recognize Expect the Unexpected and not for a bad reason. We were the year end champion for Second Level with my local GMO. Theo got his Register of Merit in western dressage. We were ranked 16th in the nation for AA First Level freestyle.
Looking back, things like bad judges and blows to the head and sleepless nights seem so much more minor. 2019 was one hell of a year. We're going into the new decade with a new home, new trainers, and goals that would have seemed impossible a year ago.
2020 will be a building year, not a showing year. I'm glad we got to have this year of victories to build up my confidence as we go into a training cycle. This is the first year where I feel like I can call myself a dressage rider.