2019 in Review

2019 was the year of… everything.

It was amazing. I accomplished things I’d not thought possible. It was hard. Not only did I work my ass off to make it all happen, but my family, both human and hairy, changed more this year than ever before.

It was just a lot.

2019’s mantra

And it culminated in the longest unintentional break from blogging in the 5 years that this blog has existed.

Sorry ‘bout that.

I figure though, that when I look back at this year, there will be a few events that stand out specifically. So here they are, in chronological order.

1. Foster
Early in 2019, I realized something I never thought possible- that Foster would come back into my life in such a big way. It’s been an absolute joy having him around, and seeing him thrive in his non-show-dressage job, even if it’s been hard to reconcile just how fat he has gotten over the years. He’s still the same goofy, cuddly, licking creature he always was, if a little more suspicious than he used to be. It’s been amazing.

Drake and Elliot

2. Elliot.
I get that a lot of people aren’t cat people. And if you never met Elliot, I guess it’s hard to explain- except that his personality was bigger than any cat, or any dog, and that his weirdness made him larger than life. He was my janky, snaggle toothed, scar faced, crazy-ass love of my life. Losing him was a definite low of 2019. The flip side to losing Elliot is that we then adopted a janky Manx cat of a different kind, and Effie has started to help me heal in her own cross eyed, crazy-ass way.

3. The AECs
After qualifying with my clear XC round at VAHT, most of the summer went towards bubble wrapping Jack and working on our fitness. I obsessed over every detail, without trying to go overboard (fail), bleaching his tail, doing fitness work in 90+ degree heat, practicing every part of Novice B until my brain hurt, and freaking out about the drive to Kentucky. The anxiety that went into the AECs was rewarded though by an amazing experience that ran the gambit of my AMAZING friends buying t-shirts in support, to hearing the cheers of my teammates and husband as I galloped amongst the beautiful oaks of the KY Horse Park, and ending with a big beautiful purple ribbon and taking part in a victory gallop as I thought about all my idols that had done so before me. #Worthit

4. The Burnout
Somewhere in the middle of the spring, as I was working towards qualifying for AECs, I landed a promotion that made me official manager of a team of 6. The growing pains of learning to manage, not only an increased workload with executive exposure for myself, but also for a host of other people, has been an amazing opportunity but also a source of stress over the year. Coupled then with my own equestrian journey towards Kentucky once work was done, I felt like 2019 was a marathon that I never got to finish. I ended September feeling accomplished but absolutely stripped of energy, enthusiasm, and financially broke. Because of this last element, I finished September and threw myself into photography work to make up the difference. You know what doesn’t help burnout? Working more. Basically, this was the year of my attempting to be a machine and failing. Yay 2019.

5. WHES Championships
Because of item #4, I didn’t even finish recapping that show. It was massive, and I hoped desperately to finish in the money ($1000 to first place! at a schooling show!). The downside to it being a schooling show though is that I had to compete against professionals (a rule that is changing next year, since the whole series is really in the spirit of amateur/juniors getting positive experiences). To summarize my non-existent recap, I finished fourth behind 3 pros, and as the highest placed amateur won myself a stack of goodies. I also should have won a bit of money, but I got busy with work/life/photography/burnout and never collected it. I’m an idiot. But yay goodies?!

When dancing is my goals, and the baby is my mental health

That’s my 2019 in review. 2020- I hope for more exciting adventures from you, and a little more self preservation/care for myself.

Playing with Fire: 2019 HOPEFUL Schedule

Just in case you didn’t see my disclaimer already, I’m posting it again. Because one cannot knock on wood too many times, yes? (Unless you’re OCD like me, then the answer is probably definitely yes)

Disclaimer: Dear Lord, if you happen to read this blog, or see into my thoughts, or what have you, please know that these are hopes and I’m not overly ambitious. Or I’m hoping not. I will work hard towards all the ideas that are to follow, and should you deem that my more lofty goals be too much, I only ask you please spare my horse’s soundness. Please keep him safe on the roads that he travels with me. And I apologize for the over-indulgence in wine for the last several years. Amen.

So, assuming that all the riding/training goals of yesterday’s post get accomplished, here is my wish list of events to attend this year. Written in the digital version of the most erasable pencil ever.

Jan 12 – Pipe Opener CTBN
We’re signed up for this already, and we’re hopefully just going to pop around at BN and get our sea legs back!

Feb 3 – Sporting Days Recognized HTBN
Depends on how he’s going, if it’s financially feasible, and a lot of other poop. It’s in Aiken, which is an almost 5 hour haul. And I hate driving that much.

Feb 16 – Pipe Opener CT IINovice
If all goes to plan (again, see disclaimer) I would love to get back to Novice level at this show

March 9 – Southern Pines Recognized HTNovice
Eeeek this is where I scare myself.

April 20 – Longleaf Recognized HTNovice

May 11 – May War Horse Schooling HTNovice
Includes the possibility of just schooling XC in case I decide to do option B


May 25 – Paradise Farm Recognized HTNovice
Because I’ve heard such good things about this place, I’d love to fit it in!

June 15 –War Horse Schooling HTNovice


June 22 – Stable View Recognized HTNovice
Another gorgeous facility in Aiken. This one will depend on how we are doing competitively because….

OK now I’m terrified. But I said it. Wrote it. Typed it. Whatever. I’d be fulfilling a life dream if I can make this happen. And it’s at the Kentucky Horse Park!

The sloth hath spoken.

2019 Goals

Disclaimer: Dear Lord, if you happen to read this blog, or see into my thoughts, or what have you, please know that these are hopes and I’m not overly ambitious. Or I’m hoping not. I will work hard towards all the ideas that are to follow, and should you deem that my more lofty goals be too much, I only ask you please spare my horse’s soundness. Please keep him safe on the roads that he travels with me. And I apologize for the over-indulgence in wine for the last several years. Amen.

OK, now that I’ve done as much as I know how, in terms of not jinxing myself…. Here is what I hope to accomplish in 2019. Always, always, with a caveat though.


  • Get out walk-canter departs down easy-peasy
  • Start incorporating counter-canter into our rides
  • Show at first level at a show
  • Get a sub-30 score at an event

Gonna rock out centerline like…

Cross Country:

  • Get quicker about making adjustments
  • Make ditches boring
  • Get back up to Novice, maybe school an occasional Training level fence


  • Go double clear in a show (for Heaven’s sake? Please!)
  • Get my leg strong again
  • Don’t lean at the fences/ be better with my position

Pretty much every round we’ve ever had

You ready 2019? Let’s do this.



2018: A Year in Review

This year was… tough. But also exciting? Mostly tough though.

To recap:

We started out the year at BN, because honestly the half year before (since I bought him in June) had been about getting to know him, getting to trust him (since he’s such a spooky yellow moose) and then finally growing our skills.

I realize I didn’t post this on its own page, but I did apparently capture my 2018 goals in a post, and it’s worth revisiting them here.

The Horse

Get his weight up.
Done, well, for the most part. A chat with the vet today decided it would be better to get even more weight on him. I figured out what it takes to keep a gigantic worrywort of a horse in decent weight, and the key is: a shit ton of food. Alfalfa hay, alfalfa pellets, boost, rice bran… it’s obscene.

Gain confidence cross country.
Our last trip across the country, I really felt this, and was thrilled. He was hunting fences. He was game, and forward, and I actually had to think about settling him rather than taking the temptation to let him rip and go more forward. It was a great feeling, and I hope that despite his time off it won’t take him long to get back there.

March 2018 BN

Go penalty free at a recognized show.
Well, not yet. We only had 2 recognized shows, but both were not clear in the SJ phase. More work to do there!

Move up to Novice.
Done and dusted this one!

Ride a First Level test
Yeah, this didn’t happen because of us ended our season in May. Hoping to move this to 2019!!

The Photography

Book 1 Gold Session/month from March – November
I’m going to mark this as a success, having done a minimum of the equivalent of a Gold session each month except for September (and I was gone to WEG and Paris that month- can’t shoot if I’m not here!)

Implement a referral program.
Eh, sort of but didn’t put much effort into getting it off the ground.

This was such a fun shoot!

Plan at least one out-of-state photog trip.
Another sort of success. I shot Bette and Chimi while at WEG, and in the process of booking a trip to Welly world right now!

Save up for the Holy Grail of lenses
Done! Jury’s out on whether or not she’s a lemon though. Unfortunately.

Start shooting with more precision.
I haven’t gotten around to back-button focusing yet, but am definitely making the most of all those focus points on the D750. Give myself a B- on this one!

The Blog

Commit to 3 posts each week
Bahahahaha Obviously this didn’t happen. It’s hard to come up with content when months of your horse’s year were just chilling in the field.

Try and get back in the groove of reading everyone’s blogs.
Also a big nope. Work really took off this year, and I pretty much had zero brain cells left for thinking about other people’s blogs. I did what I could, and hope to get back to it in 2019!

Lots of fails/mixed successes in this category. But hey, we went to Paris and dressed up!

Write some posts for The Plaid Horse!
Done! Didn’t write all the posts on the docket, but these came out:

Host my first giveaway!
This was also done! What a super way to collaborate with other awesome Horsey brands! I hope the winners still enjoy their spoils 😀


Overall, this year wasn’t perfect, though I guess what year is? I hope 2019 will be a lot more successful. Goals in a post to come!

Blogger Secret Santa and Small Victories

I’ve been totally remiss in blogging, and I definitely can’t forget to blog about my awesome Secret Santa gift! This is always a fun activity that I look forward to each year – Tracy does such a good job connecting folks, and I love discovering new blogs and learning about other equestrian bloggers through their descriptions!

This year was another new blog to me, and Nadia from 3 Day Adventures obviously did her research, and I simply adore this wine bag (made by also Equestrian blogger Beljoeor!) and will absolutely be rocking it at our first CT on Jan 12th!

Annnnnnd then you can pretty much NEVER go wrong with a picture of someone’s pony, and I love seeing this photo of Jack in mousepad form! It reminds me of how deliciously golden he gets and what he looks like in peak (or what was peak) condition. I absolutely treasure seeing this every time I sit down at my computer (which is to say, a lot). Thank you SO much Nadia for the sweet gifts- I love how practical these are and will absolutely be using them tons in 2019!

Isn’t he cute??? Though I prefer golden Jack to creamsicle Jack…

In other news, Christmas was a super fun time of connecting with the family, but I’m looking forward to planning 2019 and seeing what it has in store for Jack and I. A lot has changed since my last post, and I am pleased to announce that my horse no longer hates me. The bit I ordered has seen a lot of action, and I have some strong opinions on it that I will be sharing soon in a review post.

Annnnnd I’ll also be posting about those 2019 goals, though I admit I’m somewhat scared of putting them down “on paper”, so expect lots of caveats (LOTS – this being the digital way to knock on wood, I suppose) as that one comes out.

In truth, I really hope that 2019 represents a bit of a return to blogging. If my goals (wishes? outermost desires? please universe don’t jinx me) work out then there will be lots to write about!

2018 Goals

New year, new goals. But with the following provision: these are goals, not requirements. There is no such thing as failing, there is simply moving the needle. Not that I would like to take them any less seriously, but if 2017 taught me anything, it’s that if life brings about circumstances out of my control that results in missing a goal, then it’s not fair, and not useful, to consider that achievement/goal a failure. For instance, last year we aimed to go abroad. Then family health, funeral, and other expenses caught up to us, and we didn’t go. Did we fail to go? I guess you could look at it that way- but instead I think I would rather put our lack of vacationing down as something to attend to another time instead of a failure.

Ahem, anyways, with that said.. Here are my goals for 2018:

The Horse

  • Get his weight up. This is a short term goal, as I expect to not have as many issues once the grass returns in the spring. But homeboy is looking a little rangy despite my literally stuffing him full of food like a hog for slaughter.
  • Gain confidence cross country. Meaning I would like Jack to become the master of ditches, and to be more forward thinking to new fences. This will only come with repetition, so that means I need to commit to getting out as much as possible.
  • Go penalty free at a recognized show. This spring, I’m aiming at the Southern Pines HT in March and Longleaf in April.
  • Move up to Novice. Obviously, this goal is contingent on meeting the above cross country goal. We’re already schooling the showjumping, and well beyond the dressage, but he needs to be less impressed by new cross country obstacles before attacking the black-on-white numbers.
  • Ride a First Level test at a schooling show, likely. But if finances allow, perhaps a recognized show could be thrown in there.

BN looks tiny compared to the yellow moose. PC: Brant Gamma


  • Book 1 Gold Session/month from March – November. Mostly this will be down to learning about marketing, and will hopefully be aided by the next goal, which is…
  • Implement a referral program. Incentivize former clients for getting the word out!
  • Plan at least one out-of-state photog trip. Last year I did shoots in Florida and at Fair Hill (oh hey Niamh! 🙂 ). I’m not sure if I’ll get to Florida this year, but with WEG and Rolex on my list of events to attend I would love to sneak in some tog-related stuff while I’m there. Also would LOVE to hit up some other destinations, so if you’re interested in a shoot let me know!
  • Save up for the Holy Grail of lenses. The Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2, to be exact. I rented this lens for Fair Hill last year (see below photos from the 3* SJ) and was so impressed. But it will take quite a few precious pennies to make it my own.
  • Start shooting with more precision. I’m hoping to get into the habit of back-button focusing, as well as utilizing all the available focus points on my D750.

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The Blog

  • Commit to 3 posts each week. Thank you to all who took a moment and participated in the survey. I guess you want to hear more about Jack, so I’ll be doing my best to deliver!
  • Try and get back in the groove of reading everyone’s blogs. I seriously neglected this (just like my own blog) over the last 6 months. Going to try and do better!
  • Write some posts for The Plaid Horse! What what?!
  • Host my first giveaway! Details to commmme!

Results from the Blog Survey

So here’s looking at you, 2018! Onwards and upwards!

2017 Wrap Up

2017 is over… and a lot of people, myself included, went through a lot of trials and tribulations over the last 12 months and are more than happy to show 2017 the door. We lost my husband’s father, grandmother, and great-aunt this year. My own family got dealt a major health blow in regards to my mother. I came to the realization that Smitty was not going to be the forever horse that I had hoped. Our beloved German Shepherd, Drake, spent several days in emergency care and scared the bejeezus out of us.

2017, let’s call you Felicia.


Even with all that, I would prefer to focus on the positives. In many ways I have become so much closer to my family than ever before. I was able to sell Smitty to the absolute perfect buyer, and somehow not record a huge financial loss in the endeavor. My photography side-hustle grew in a way that I had hardly dared to hope for. I found Jack, my barbie dream horse, and despite his own “looky-loo” tendencies (I’m stealing that from a friend), he is making me a braver rider than I have ever been as a result. The husband and I were able to take a lovely trip to Savannah for Christmas. And I met a great handful of amazing bloggers and continue to feel so blessed to be part of this community.

Even saw this pretty lady TWICE!

I have been marinating on what goals I’d like to set for this year, but I think I’ll save that for a separate post. The only one that I feel pretty certain about is that if I am to continue my photography pursuits, then this blog will never be able to be the daily exercise I had aimed for. Instead, I think it’s more appropriate to expect ~3 posts each week. Not being able to blog daily was a stressor last year, and honestly, that misses the point of blogging. It’s always meant to be a chronicle of the horse and house journey, and a way to have open dialogue with equestrians from around the world. More on this soon!

Until then, I hope everyone is feeling optimistic about what 2018 will bring. I know I am.

Looking ahead: Goals for November War Horse HT

This weekend marks what may be our final competition of the year. I’ve got a recognized event penciled in on the calendar, but I suspect we are not quite ready to make that kind of commitment, though I am sorely tempted.

So, with that in mind, and knowing a bit more about Jack with 3 shows under our belts, I have a few goals in mind for our second Beginner Novice Horse Trials.

  1. End on a number and not a letter.
    This is priority number one. No goofing and getting a technical elimination on my part, no tossing me off into the dirt on Jack’s part. Just stick together and jump all the jumps in the right order.
  2. Score in the low 30s dressage.
    We’re still refining those dressage skillz, but I feel like I should be able to ask more of him than in September. Depending on how tired he is, I may even wear spurs (gasp!) to get a little more oomph. The main goal is not to receive a comment about needing more push from behind.
  3. Double clear SJ and XC
    This is totally doable, and mostly requires me to keep my head in the game and my leg on. For XC, I would really like to get a good momentum going and keep it through the course rather than have the stutter-stop rhythm we had before.
  4. Have Jack be a happier creature in his stall
    I’m going to have some Perfect Prep, and Ulcergard, handy and at the ready for the show. Since we will be sans friends on the trailer, I hope the experience will be a slightly less stressful one for everyone.

Fingers crossed!



Assessing 2016 Goals

2016 was a roller coaster year for us. In a lot of ways it signifies the closing of several long chapters, and the starting of new stories. In April we sold our house of 3 years, and in May my beloved Foster became someone else’s to love. But we also purchased our dream home, and in September I went crazy bought myself a gangly 4 year old warmblood sight-unseen. So with that in mind, let’s look at my original intentions for the year.

2016 Goals

The Horse:

  1. Find the perfect situation for Foster. Done, and unintentionally done again.
  2. Keep riding, even if catch riding Thank you Darcy and Riley for keeping me in the saddle
  3. Participate in at least one dressage clinic Nope!
Darcy dressaging

Darcy dressaging

The House:

  1. Paint upstairs – hallway, study, State room
  2. Wrap up giant handyman to-do list covering all sorts of small sins
  3. Declutter in the extreme….
  4. In order to put the house on the market!

This was a wrap!! 15 showings and a full-price offer within 24 hours on the market!

House on a Hill 1.0 Before and After

House on a Hill 1.0 Before and After

The Rest:

  1. Health
    • Eat less red meat  Thanks to the husband’s willpower
    • Make a dedicated effort to consider myself an athlete as a rider and take responsibility for staying in decent shape Yes, until September
  2. Concentrate on photography and expanding my range of work
    • Complete 10-15 sessions this spring – my fingers are itching for that shutter button! 11 shoots this year total- still looking for more!
    • First newborn session! Didn’t happen- but first maternity session did!
  3. Stay positive and keep calamities in perspective Found some balance in my life and a new positive attitude
  4. Focus on savings Saved those pennies and then lost them buying a horse!


Final Thoughts
I think 2016 will forever stand out in my mind as a bittersweet year. Bitter in the loss of Foster as my eventing and everyday partner, but sweet in the realization of selling the house- the culmination of 3 years of hard work and literal blood, tears, and lots and lots of sweat. I will say that I’m a happier person now than I was at this time a year ago, and I’m thankful for all that went into that as well.

Goals for Smitty

How has it been two months since I first met Smitty? How time flies! But now that I know the little fella a bit, I can make a list of goals, of both the pie-in-the-sky and realistic variety, for us to aim for before the end of the year.

The Horse

  • Mouthy baby is mouthy- reduce the inclination to have to be pacified in order to behave (this includes chewing on reins, stealing my dressage whip, and even hinting at putting parts of the human in his mouth)
  • Get his mane pulled without antics
  • Jump off-property
  • Meet a dressage court [and stay inside of it]
  • Jump the first cross country jumps


The Tack

  • Find a [cheap] dressage saddle with smaller blocks
  • Get the jumping saddle [and possible dressage saddle] professionally OK’d/fitted
  • Bust out the old Stubben bridle
  • Sell the former dressage saddle
  • Ditch the dressage whip for jumping, introduce the bat
  • Find a shimmable mattes pad without breaking the bank?
  • Get a nameplate for his halter (because who doesn’t want a fancy smancy halter!)


The Human

  • Stop being a freaking weenie about the outdoor ring
  • Order photos of the new pony
  • Make up a damn stable sign, already!
  • Install quieter legs (any suggestions here?)
  • Make a basic lesson plan for the baby pony
Being brave in the great wide open

Being brave in the great wide open