Looking Back and Going Forward
Last January, I wrote this post about the upcoming year. It’s pretty good, if I say so myself. I almost sound as if I know what I’m talking about. It was all about enjoying the journey. I put it this way:
The real heart of horsemanship is not at the crowded start, nor on the trail with twenty miles behind and thirty to go, nor among friends at the award dinner come evening. It is at home, in the round corral, amid the dust and sweat and sun. It is in the glassy eye melted black with trust, the rush of breath and lowered head, the silent conversation that magics us from two to one.
Endurance is a thrill, but icing is nothing without the cake.
I’ll buy that. In the same post, however, I included some musings on where my 2011 trail might lead. Now I can entertain myself by comparing conjecture to reality:
1. Explore some new rides on Consolation. I was hoping to get to Utah or Oregon, or maybe bump up to a 75. Neither happened, but I’m still quite pleased by what we accomplished:
We completed 505 endurance miles together (I did another 100 on a borrowed horse), bringing Consolation’s total up to 825. We also started doing multi-days, a goal I neglected to mention last January but have tried for years to reach.
We also expanded our regular conditioning area to include some hilly land just across the state line, which contributed nicely to Consolation’s mental and physical fitness.
2. Put miles on Acey. Mission accomplished. We didn’t actually condition for a ride (not least because I still haven’t found hoof boots that fit her), but we put in enough arena work and trail miles that I feel quite confident she’ll be ready for her first 50 in 2012.
Have I mentioned how fun Acey is to ride? She is So. Fun. To. Ride. I feel sorry for all the people who aren’t lucky enough to be of small stature, because they’ll never get to ride this little bay fireball.
3. Train the babies. This didn’t go so well. I spent a fair amount of time with Ripple Effect, but not nearly as much as I’d have liked. She’s now (generally) comfortable with leaving the farm in-hand. She handles traffic beautifully. She ground-drives and deals with having all sorts of peculiar objects dangled from her tack. And yet, I haven’t ridden her. I’ve backed her a couple more times, but I just get the feeling that she isn’t ready. I worked with her yesterday, though, and she does feel much closer than she did in July. She just needs more time than I’ve given her.
What about Crackerjack? I really need to get going on this guy, because he looks like this:
I did put in some lessons with Incognito (2009 Insider x Sandstorm filly), establishing some basic training. For now, her main job is to grow up. She’s sharing a winter paddock with Acey and Ripple, who are schooling her in the ways of the world.
4. Buy and build stuff. This could scarcely have gone better. Not only did I manage to acquire a much-needed horse trailer upgrade, but Ironman and I built a new run-in and I bought a truck-bed camper that makes ridecamp exponentially more comfortable, especially in cold weather.
Now, we just need to finish the perimeter fence, repair mare paddocks, bury water and electric lines out to the horse compound…
In summary, I’m pretty happy with the year. My biggest regret is not making more progress with the youngsters, but there’s only so much time to go around. I kept my priorities in order: Consolation’s fitness, Acey’s miles, baby training, other. That list was helpful in directing my choices regarding what to do on a given day.
So, 2012! It’s going to be a crazy year, what with flying to Mexico to get married in June, attending a family reunion, and squeezing in rafting and rides and such, but there are a few things I’d like to make happen:
1. Cover lots of AERC miles with Consolation. Which miles? How many? That remains to be seen. If all goes well, we’ll do a bunch of multi-days. I’d also like to try a 75 or 100. I still want to take her to some Oregon or Utah rides, but given the time and expense of all that other travel, this may not be the year.
2. Start Acey on the endurance trail. I am so happy to have a second horse to ride! Now, I just have to figure out how to keep two horses fit. I hope to do at least a couple 50’s on this mare.
3. Get Ripple comfortable under saddle and on the trail. ‘Nough said.
4. Start Crackerjack under saddle.
5. Finish perimeter fence and mare paddock upgrades.
It’s 15 degrees out, but the sun is up. I think I’ll start today.