I’m deeply grateful to have an amazing life filled with kind and loving people and animals, and a comfortable lifestyle where all my needs and many more are taken care of. I love how SprinklerBandit did her Year In Review, and I think its important to occasionally reflect on where you’ve been and where you’re going in life. So here goes.
January I was riding Spirit, who was boarded at RLM in Moorpark (away from Laurie’s training operations at Windwalker). I was determined to overcome Spirit’s stopping issue, and our goal was to complete a BN horse trials (we’d been eliminated from 2 in 2011). I did as much as I could to work on myself – reading books, lots of no-stirrup work, etc. I knew in my gut that I needed to do more XC schooling, so we signed up for the January fundraiser clinic at Galway, but the other horses in my group pulled out last minute and so we were stuck at home.
February we had very challenging cross country schooling at Galway Downs. It was clear things were not improving with XC. My confidence tanked. I was worried about Spirit’s happiness with her job, and overall felt sad and frustrated. I spent lots of time working on myself and doing my best to help Spirit enjoy our lessons. She had always been a challenging horse, but it was becoming increasingly clear she wasn’t enjoying rides where she had to “work.”
March had some positive direction. Spirit got more turn-outs and less “work” rides – she appreciated it and did better in lessons. Meanwhile I rode Elton, Laurie’s horse, to help get my confidence back. I married my amazing husband on the 17th and took a 2 week honeymoon – meanwhile, Spirit moved barns to be with Laurie and got lots of training rides in my absence. Laurie was determined to help make sure I had a safe, dependable mount.
April was a pivotal month . I came back from my honeymoon and things hadn’t really improved with Spirit – Laurie had been giving her plenty of training rides, but it was still clear that Spirit was not enjoying work. I rode other horses instead of Spirit for lessons, and even signed up to take Elton to the local derby (ended up getting cancelled). Meanwhile I took Spirit on trail rides, casually hopped X-rails, and gave her lots of cuddles – that’s what she loves.
Then one afternoon my trainer arrived at the barn, flanked by two barn-mates. They had just returned from checking out the available horses from the recently cancelled “Luck” tv show. I’ll never forget the moment when Laurie came over to me, looked me straight in the eye, and said “Sarah, you have to get one of these horses.”
As much as I cared for Spirit, the decision to adopt one of the Luck horses just felt right. With the support of my husband, barn friends, and family – I said yes. We brought home Bohemian on April 29th, and Spirit headed to Willow Creek Ranch in Santa Paula.
May was fabulous. Hemie started learning his new job, and took to it amazingly. We started introducing basic concepts slowly, including rhythm, contact, moving off the leg, backing up, cross-tying, corners (ah yes, racetracks are oval). We taught him how to longe. We taught him to jump. We took him on trail rides. We did our first cross country schooling. And we fed him. A lot.
June continued with the training, slowly but surely increasing the level of expectation. We did a schooling outing at a H/J facility, and continued to feed him a lot.
July we did another schooling at Strad Farms and ended the month with our very first show. Let’s just say it didn’t go quite as planned and I ended up in the dirt with my confidence dribbling out my ears. No one ever said horse training had linear progress.
August we pushed forward, and it paid off. We did another cross country schooling, which went very well. We went back to Strad Farms for another show had a very positive experience. Later we went to another eventing trainer’s barn for a schooling day, and again Hemie showed his willingness.
September was very exciting. We did a more formal introduction of dressage to Bohemian, and we did our first eventing derby! We won our first ribbons but more importantly, we got through it as a team. My husband and I also purchased our first home!
October slowed down a little. We continued to take the training up – increasing contact, having Hemie learn to carry himself properly. Lots more flatwork than jumping due to it getting dark earlier. We did a local hunter/jumper show to get Hemie to a new facility and to work on the issues from our derby. It was a great experience. Also, I turned 26.
November was a tough and rainy month. No outings, no schoolings, and significantly reduced number of lessons. Additionally, I fell off twice – both times injuring myself but the second time resulting in a very upset knee tendon which kept me off Hemie for several weeks. I ramped up my saddle search after getting Hemie professionally fitted.
December Hemie is getting ridden by Laurie since my knee is still healing. I have a saddle on trial and it is looking very promising. Most of my evening visits to the barn are spent cuddling and grooming the handsome dirty boy.