Friday, December 29, 2017

Year in Review -- Closing the book on 2017

I've had so much fun lately reading through everyone's year in review (and I just saw about ten more to read!). This was a big year for me in terms of work, life and horses and I was eager to see just how much has transpired so I could reflect on everything.

So here we go:

We had an extremely busy January at the sales barn and I was riding a lot. Lucky for me, we happened to have an really nice inventory of small, fun TBs that I had to try desperately not to fall in love with! Nolan got his first clip and his body began to shift from fit race horse to riding horse. We got our first big snow, but temps quickly changed enough that I was riding in a long sleeve t-shirt most of the month (fingers crossed we get a replay of that this winter!).


February rolled around and the weather continued to improve (Look, I'm even wearing a t-shirt!!!). After Nolan's short-winter break, we set about putting a strong foundation on him. He was proving to be very clever with a busy brain and unparalleled athleticism which was challenging at times. Nevertheless, we pushed forward introducing him to more complex work which he met with gusto. And with his cleverness in mind, I reassessed his behavior on the ground and began introducing daily ground work to improve his attitude and keep him on his toes, giving him a strong leader to look to. My pony also got worked into the routine and he seemed to enjoy the extra attention.

March brought cooler temps which had us heading indoors to audit clinics with fresh ponies! We definitely made the most of having Jimmy Wofford just down the road for some inspiration. I documented my physical progress with some before and after (8 months) into my working student job, which was eye-opening. I got to ride some horses that pushed me way out of my comfort zone, like the 17hh behemoth above. And, most exciting of all... I bought a trailer!!!!!!

If I had to say which month was the most influential it was for me it would undoubtedly be April. At this point I was getting to ride nearly every horse in the barn and I could feel my confidence increasing daily. Things with Nolan were moving along nicely and he was becoming more and more fun with every ride. He gave 110% into everything, even if it was simply a crossrail, or a spook and I began to wonder if was perhaps too athletic for my liking. I started getting back into sewing again and tried my hand at some wild ear bonnets. And, I met a big, bay gelding that needed a sales video and it was love at first ride<3

May was a bit of a whirlwind as I decided on May 5th to buy Scout and 12 days later I'd find myself at Kevin Keane's practice holding Nolan for his PPE. Like with Riley, I didn't advertise him, but sought out suitable riders that he might get along with, so I didn't have to go through a hellish selling process with him. He was tried 3 times in 5 days and when the third girl came to try him, I knew it was a perfect match. I was so thrilled with her sense of humor for his naughtiness and she was eager to find a partner to take her through the levels (She's since taken him to Ocala for a working student position and they came in 1st at their Novice Debut a few weeks ago!!!). And, although I was sad to load Nolan on the trailer, Scout made sure I kept a big grin on my face everyday after.

Ahhhh! Another big month! I continued the trend or grinning ear to ear after every ride on Scout. We started his jumping education and he took to it with enthusiasm. I got to ride all over Chester County with my love on his steed pushing myself further out of my comfort zone (going fast and not being in control). I got a tattoo dedicated to my first three OTTBs and I bought a truck to pull my trailer! True story, the woman I bought my truck from posted that photo on her Facebook telling all her friends how her truck was going to have a new purpose in life:)

July brought some big advances in Scout's education. Namely, we hacked a lot... sometimes alone and sometimes with others. He learned about streams (not love at first sight) and hill work and flushing deer out bravely. He wore his first western saddle and took my friend's parents for a ride. And I checked in about his over all condition now that he'd finally shed out and gained some actual muscle.

August was full of ups and downs. I was starting to really evolve as a rider working with some not-so-easy mounts, including the little bay horse above (he'll get his own post at some point). I got to play around with a very cool little pony that rode much more like a horse and I said good bye to Scout while I headed away for a week at the beach. While I thoroughly enjoyed my break, my fun was cut short by the news that Scout had injured himself in turnout and was three-legged lame. It would be a tough few days while I attempted to manage his care remotely (with my vet and trainer), but I knew his recovery was going to take more time than expected.

September brought some very difficult decision making for me as we narrowed down Scout's diagnosis. We fought to get his cellulitis under control and we began talking about resuming some tack walking and light turnout. His leg was still angry and hot, so we needed to take it slowly and carefully. Ultimately, I made the decision to leave the sales barn and move Scout close to home so I could manage his care more closely. He settled in quite well and they were able to accommodate him with a great rehab paddock and safer turnout. Eventually, the leg settled down and we were able to start hacking around and even going on trail rides with bloggers. I flew down to Florida for my best friend's baby shower and I leased my pony to an eventer (who absolutely loves him).

While September was an emotional roller coaster, October gave promise that there was indeed light at the end of the tunnel. Scout and I continued to hack out. He got cleared for full turnout and blossomed with his new field and friends. I went to Fairfill and met up with a great group of bloggers and found time and money to hire Britt to come take photos of my two favorite guys! Scout got his first clip job and was an absolute champ. And, we started taking lessons at a nearby barn where Scout proved to be quite reliable about trailering and going to new places.

November brought lots of rain, but we plugged along at our work. Scout was improving steadily under saddle and really starting to use his body. We went to our first show and didn't die and we added in some trainer rides to mix things up and keep Scout sharp. We started to play around with some biting ideas and we incorporated lunging into a regular part of his workload. He learned some remedial groundwork and proved once again that he's got a terrific brain by letting me hop on him bareback in a rope halter and go for a ride.

With all his new found muscles and cooler temps, Scout was starting to become quite energetic and so we had some talks about appropriate behavior on the ground and under saddle. He got his second clip of the season and is starting to look like a real event horse. I think he may have grown again but at last measurement he was 16.3 (+3/4) so I really hope I'm just imagining it. With the ground frozen and daily highs wavering around 20, we've pumped the brakes on his serious training, but we'll hopefully be able to resume in a week or so. December is always a busy month with my birthday and Christmas, but I've tried hard to him feel important every time I see him. In the meantime, I hope he's gaining some pounds with all the extra grain and alfalfa he's getting and I can't wait to pick up where we left off.

Stay tuned for Goals 2018 post, but for now I hope everyone has a wonderful Holiday and New Year!


  1. That was quite the year. I love the collage pictures for each month. Now I wish I'd done that.

  2. What a big year with so many changes! Looking forward to what comes next with Scout!

  3. You had a awesome year! I loved seeing you :)

  4. You found your perfect gentleman and he is handsome as can be. I am so excited to see what you guys accomplish next year and see all of your beautiful photographs as well!