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! šŸ™‚ ). 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 wasĀ 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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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 IĀ 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 clinicĀ Nope!
Darcy dressaging

Darcy dressaging

The House:

  1. Paint upstairs ā€“ hallway, study, State room
  2. Wrap up giant handyman to-do list covering all sorts of small sins
  3. Declutter in the extremeā€¦.
  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 meatĀ Ā 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 shapeĀ Yes, until September
  2. Concentrate on photography and expanding my range of work
    • Complete 10-15 sessions this spring ā€“ my fingers are itching for that shutter button!Ā 11 shoots this year total- still looking for more!
    • First newborn session!Ā Didn’t happen- but first maternity session did!
  3. Stay positive and keep calamities in perspectiveĀ 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 asĀ 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 theĀ 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
  • OrderĀ photos of the new pony
  • Make up a damn stable sign, already!
  • Install quieter legs (any suggestions here?)
  • Make a basic lessonĀ plan for the baby pony
Being brave in the great wide open

Being brave in the great wide open

Revised 2016 Goals

Moving forward with the idea of thinking proactively, I’ve decided I’m going to come up with a revised set of goals for the year. Because just because my entire horsey list got dashed 6 days into the year doesn’t mean I can’t have things to work towards for the next 11 months.

So, knowingĀ oh so well that man proposes, but God disposes, here are my lightly-written-in-pencil plans.

First and foremost…

  1. Find the perfect situation for Foster.


Homeboy owes me nothing, and I owe him a lot (post coming). After so much discussion, doubts, and pleas to trusted friends for advice, the right situation for Foster is looking like a new rider. ThatĀ could be a long term free lease situation, but more likely it will be a permanent change with one hell of a first-right-of-refusal contractĀ (Hello, lawyer husband- aren’t you a handy one). More on this later.

  1. Keep riding.
Catch riding in 2010 during Ivan's absence

Catch riding in 2010 during Ivan’s absence

Whether it’s Foster while he’s still with me, another horse, I don’t want to give up this hobby. Heartbreaking as it can be, horses are a part of who I am and my identity- so that’s not going to change. I’m lucky enough to have some options for this, and once I figure out Foster I’ll be able to share more.

  1. Focus on savings
Lots of photoshoots hopefully in the future!

Lots of photoshoots hopefully in the future!

There’s a whole lot of balls in the air right now, and a key to feeling secure in any of the directions this year will take me will desire a bit of cash in my back pocket. So I’ve got to make a big effort to redirect my dollars to the savings account, something I’ve only been so-so at in the past.

2016. From the hopeful year of redemption to the year of guess-we’ll-see-what-happens.

2015 Goal Review

It’s almost the end of the year, which means that it’s time to look back at the goals I made in January and see how we’ve done!

Horse Goals

  • Hereā€™s the big one! Move up to Training!
  • Increase strength in haunches through cavaletti work (2-3x/week)
  • Walk-Canter-Walk transitions
    • Lead changes
  • Completing a Second Level dressage test with a score over 63%
  • Get a 7 on a lengtheningĀ Ā completed 2/11/15

Bahahahahahahahaha…. goals. Ulcers knocked us out from February until about April. The only silver lining is that prior to this we did complete a winter clinic at the Carolina Horse Park, where you could say we moved up to Training, except that it didn’t include cross country- so I’m going to call that goal incomplete. We did however make great new contacts in Mr. Robert Costello, trainer extraodinaire, and also got a 7 in our first attempt at a judged lengthening, all at that outing.


In the short time between April and July when we were in full work, I can proudly say that Foster’s booty wasĀ strong. While some of this was cavaletti/ground pole related, a lot of it probably had to do with the more intense collected work we did, including starting to teach piaffe. I’m going to call that one a win.


The rest, as you all know, is a wash. After a lesson at the end of June with Bobby C, Foster became NQR to downright lame. After throwing all kind of diagnostic tests at him we eventually discovered negative palmar angles and a bone chip in his front right stifle. Everything post August has been aboutĀ recovering from surgery.

Personal 2015 Goals

  • Be a better competitor
  • Stop over-thinking the distance
  • Stop overthinking people
  • Lose 10 lb

Well- the first 2 obviously being horse related didn’t happen. So let’s look at the last couple. A couple months ago I had some minor health issues that put my anxiety through the roof, and finding a solution to [all of that] has been a major life-changer for me. So win on the ‘not overthinking people’ goal. Then happily, as a result of starting to ride again, sticking to a pretty low-carb/non-starch dietĀ Ā change in my diet has allowed me to lose the 10 pounds as well. Ā I feel a lot better and have way more energy to boot- no more 2pm caffeine crash! Win.

A photo from our Christmas party this weekend- gotta love being surrounded by such fun horsewomen!

A photo from our Christmas party this weekend- gotta love being surrounded by such fun horsewomen!

House 2015 Goals

  • Granite kitchen countertop
  • Aerate + seed front and back yard
  • Paint upstairs hallway
  • Paint the NC State Room
  • Be better about blogging about the house!

Hey, look! Some big goals accomplished here- how about that. The kitchenĀ finally got it’s complete makeover, in the form of both the granite countertopsĀ and something that wasn’t even on the list- painting the kitchen cabinets! All this has definitely provided some (in my mind) interesting house fodder for the blog- what do you guys think? The other painting projects got left behind as a result of focusing on the kitchen- but I see a roller in my future very soon!


If I were looking at my goals list alone, it looks like a total failure. Our success rate is 42% – Ā not so hot by anyone’s standards. But, looking at the bigger picture, there are still some big accomplishments.

The silver lining of Foster’s situation is that I learned a lot more about what my horse takes to be healthy and happy (i.e, ulcer prevention techniques, icing after workouts, etc etc). By taking the time to really truly diagnose his NQR lameness, we discovered a bone chip, and by proactively doing surgery, are hopefully prolonging his career as a sporthorse. I can close 2015 by knowing I have done absolutely everything within my power to help him be successful in 2016 and years to come. And that’s a comforting feeling.

My sweet boy in his pre-surgery photoshoot

My sweet boy in his pre-surgery photoshoot

The house has undergone huge changes, and bar severalĀ small projects, feels done. The culmination of this was our Christmas Party this weekend, when everyone finally got to see the kitchen in all it’s madeover glory, and truthfully, it made me so proud to think of all the husband and I have accomplished. It’s been a wild 2.5 years, and the end is in sight!

Front of house

A full before and after House post coming in 2016!

And then there’s those pesky personal goals. I didn’t get a chance to improve my overall competitor attitude, but the year’s challenges have (I think) made me a better horsewoman. Certainly someone more knowledgeable about little things like bone chips and ulcers, at the least. I’ve made changes in finding a betterĀ meĀ as well, though that will certainlyĀ always be a work in progress.

Fair Hill

2015- another year of changes, challenges, and a little cheer. 2016 – looking to you to be a year of happiness and success!

2015 Goals

It’s now January 2015, which means a theoretical new start, and new resolutions and goals to be made. Some of the below list should be completely do-able, others, a little more dreamy but possible if luck stays with us and we’re dedicated to the effort. Here’s our list of hopeful accomplishments for the year!

For the Horse:

  • Here’s the big one! Move up to Training!
    Aiming for a May unrecognized horse trials at CHP. By then I hopeĀ we can come to grips with jumping more consistently again (boo daylight savings time) and hopefully have some Training CT’s under our belt. Date may move because, well, horses.
  • Increase strength in haunches
    Cavaletti work here we come.
  • Walk-Canter-Walk transitions
    which hopefully leads to….
  • Lead changes?
    Maybe! But it also leads to…
  • Completing a Second Level dressage test with a score over 63%
    A lofty goal for sure, but might be possible by the end of the year, if our schedule works out.
  • Get a 7 on a lengthening
    Which is going to be hard for my pony.. but we’ll try!
Preparing for Training, I hope.

Preparing for Training, I hope.

For me:

  • Be a better competitor
    By this I mean, get to the damn warm up ring with plenty of time, get to the start box with at least 1 minute to spare, put together a first-aid kit just for shows
  • Stop over-thinking the distance
    I’m irritating the you-know-what out of myself for overanalyzing the spot- looking forward to hopefully not doing this so much in 2015
  • Stop overthinking people
    Let it go, let it go!
  • Insert annoying weight-loss resolution here!
    I’ve got a beach vacation in February (hopefully) and a sexy bridesmaid dress in April- motivation!


For the House:

  • Granite countertops in the kitchen!!
    Please happen! Because I’m. So. Excited.
  • Aerate + seed front and back yard
    So we’re not the worst lawn in the neighborhood
  • Paint upstairs hallway
    Because red wine stains are not the color-du-jour
  • Paint the NC State Room
    Let’s face it, the Carolina room should never have gotten that much of a lead.
  • Be better about blogging about the house!
    Since 2 posts a year kind of makes the blog’s title a joke.
Better grass for Drake, please.

Better grass for Drake, please.

Happy 2015 to all, and may you accomplish all you set out to do this year!

Goal Check

Thanks to Viva Carlos and Poor Woman Showing, I realized that crap, it’s December, and oh yeah, what about those goals I set at the beginning of the year? Is there any chance of completing the remaining goals in the next few weeks?

The house goals have all been met, and then some- again, update post coming. Design goals- maybe there won’t be a design blog, still fiddling around with the idea so we’ll see.

One goal conquered- this brush fence!

One goal conquered- this brush fence!

Otherwise, here’s the list of goals I set for Foster for the winter:

  • Lengthenings, and lengthening-to-collected transitions I’m going to call this checked, since we commonly practice it now, and while not perfect, it’s happening. Finally.
  • Keep hacking away at canter transitionsĀ Yup, made big progress with this- still not perfect, but hacked away at, it is
  • School corners ā€“ showjumping style
  • Angled fences/combinationsĀ need to do more of this, but we started
  • School chevron if at all possibleĀ still not sure if this is possible?Ā 
  • Introduce conditioning program
  • Clip all the fur!Ā check.

Go figure the remaining goals to be met are the jumping ones. Of course, this is my weak link, especially when in the winter all I want to do is be a dressage queen. Also, if I’m honest, I find it a struggle to get time in the jumping arena after work with the current lesson schedules and Foster hasn’t cared for that arena in the dark which makes me loathe to go up there alone and jump school anyways. Phew, glad I got that off my chest. Time to grow a pair/make jump schools happen on weekends/find a buddy to watch me jump at night, I guess. Ugh.

Why, yes, I do fancy myself a DQ sometimes.. ill-fitting boots and all.

Why, yes, I do fancy myself a DQ sometimes.. ill-fitting boots and all.

Some other stuff going on that I haven’t decided if I want to share yet publicly.. otherwise it’s all about the house and updating stuff before the weekend! Yay!

Pre-show prep: On the Leaderboard

So, this happened:


Cabin Branch Series Championship Leaderboard

Cool! Not like, of course, we have any chance of winning (extra points for Foster’s good looks? no?), or really getting anywhere near the top, but it was neat to see. My luck has been that we’ve either placed in the top 4 or the bottom 2 (mostly thanks to me going off course in some way or another) at pretty much every competition for the last year. Foster’s dressage scores have been as follows at the last 3 shows:

  • CHP May HT: 31.3
  • Recognized Show @ FENCE: 30
  • CHP October HT: 31.7

So we’re scoring pretty consistently in the low 30’s, and my goal for this next show is to bring any 6’s up to 7’s. Here’s looking at you, canter departs! Also, I’ll be disappointed in myself if I get comments about his haunches being right. For jumping, I just hope to go double clear in both phases, and not have a sticky jumping round. Our jumping record for the last 3 shows has been this:

  • CHP May HT: double-clear SJ and XC
  • Recognized Show @ FENCE: Ā 2 rails SJ / double-clear XC (with rider timing issue)
  • CHP October HT: 1 time fault SJ / double clear XC

Not perfect, but I’m not complaining. The 2 rails at FENCE were mostly my fault- he was unbalanced for the first, and a little flat for the second. Going double-clear this weekend would mean a lot to me, and I have faith in Foster’s abilities to make it happen!

So our more specific goals for the weekend are this:

  • 7’s on canter departs and downward transitions
  • 8 on free walk/medium walk
  • no comments about haunches in
  • square halt
  • no time faults showjumping
  • land on the correct lead every time
  • balance before every fence
  • no jumping or time faults cross-country
  • forward, forward, forward!
  • Have fun!!! (So excited- we have a huge group going!)