Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy New Year!

Bastian is celebrating a Happy New Year and looking forward to an amazing 2014. With the frigid weather we are experiencing tonight and tomorrow, we ended up with a "snow day" at school. I can't say that I'm actually a fan, I mean it's not like the school isn't heated...but before I dip into the "back in my day kids went to school no matter what the weather is" diatribe (and yes, I think I am officially old enough to start using that line), I do have to say that I am excited by the fact that I get to sleep in tomorrow before I wake up and start reading *hopefully* brilliant essays on Arthur Miller's The Crucible.

2013 in Review

2013 was loaded with some amazing awesomeness and some harsh realities. I managed to coordinate a cross country journey for my horse, myself and two extraordinary friends to compete in my first CPED*** Dressage show with Bastian. The experience was wholly worthwhile, if still disappointing in the fact that we were prepared to compete at the Grade III level and I was reclassified as a Grade IV. The reclassification wasn't the disappointment, it was having spent an obscene amount of money to basically "school" my horse at a show in California since neither of us were prepared to perform 3rd Level movements. I'm proud that I was able to eek out my required 60% score in front of three international judges having never schooled things like trot or canter half passes, extended gaits, and canter to halt transitions. Not to mention completely rewriting my freestyle the day before the competition and going in and riding it without ever having practiced it before. And I would be remiss if I did not mention the amazing people I had the opportunity to meet, I will be following their progress closely and cheering for them all the way, when they are competing at the WEG, I'll turn into a total name dropper and be like "oh I know them...." :) I think this will be a great year for Team USA!

After California, back home and recooperated from our trip, Bastian made huge progress and we handily earned the scores we needed at 2nd Level for our Bronze Medal along with earning our qualifying scores for Regionals. Unfortunately Regionals did not happen due to a myriad of reasons, but it worked out all for the best. Bastian was contending with some sort of muscle soreness from playing rough in the pasture and I was already overbooked between my full time job, my part time job and full time graduate level college courses. September and October was time off that we both evidently needed despite my protestations. November came and we started to get back into the groove of things, regular rides and Bastian felt excellent and bouncy again. Progress. December was more getting back into the groove, long and low, building up muscle, developing impulsion, steadiness, straightness. Things were back to normal and we could start looking forward again, developing a plan of attack for the big bad 3rd Level that we need to conquer. :)

The unfortunate reality of the situation is that France in 2014 for the WEG is completely out of the question. Being reclassified plays a big part in this, in order to be competitive as a Grade IV, Bastian and I need to be scoring well at 4th Level. I'm at a huge disadvantage in that I lack the financial backing that I need in order to compete at the FEI level (and those that helped me I give my whole-hearted thanks, I could not have done what I did without out it!) however the majority of the financial onus rests on me and it is not something that my pocketbook can take. Bastian is a lovely horse and I positively adore him, but we're going through this together, he learns as I learn, I've noticed that many Para horses tend to be trained through Grand Prix or higher, we're simply not there yet. Eventually, yes, but right now no. Being named as a member of the team means that the selection committee feels you have the ability to bring home a medal, to do better than the riders sent by the other countries. That's not us right now, no matter how much determination I have, how much I want it, and how much I have sacrificed for it. It sucks, but that's the reality.

So what does all this mean? It means that right now we're focusing on mastering 3rd Level, earning our Bronze Medal, aiming for Regionals at the Kentucky Horse Park next fall and keeping our nose to the grindstone. I'm going to enjoy 2014 and be proud of the fact that when we get to 3rd Level and continue on to 4th Level that I got there through hard work and Bastian and I did it together with the guidance of fabulous instruction of my trainers. I'll be the one putting the miles in the saddle and the time into the schooling that brings us there and that is something that I cherish now and will continue to cherish.

What's in Store for 2014...

Well, 2014 did not start out as auspiciously as I had hoped. Through no fault of Bastian or myself, while we were enjoy our first ride of the New Year and happily cantering Bastian exhibited a display of intense gracefulness tripping over his own feet sending us both into the fluffy arena dirt. Luckily, no harm was done aside from my reins ending up in three pieces and the intense amount of arena dirt that ended up in my eyes and mouth. Seriously, chunks of dirt were oozing out of eye until Thursday night...eeewww.
Here is my helmet after the fall, now imagine that much dirt covering my entire left side. I'm hoping this means that it's out of the way for the year and I won't have any more falls. It also made me realize that 2013 was the first year ever where Bastian and I never parted company.

Never fear. The next two days were amazing. I had two lessons with Tawny (my first lessons since early September) and aside from being pleased with how good Bastian felt, Tawny helped me figure out our straightness issues going to the left and had me getting him round, light and fluffy and, drumroll please..... straight! Bastian is a squirrely little wriggle-worm and I've got to really concentrate on where his haunches and shoulders are. Getting him moving straight and square is the key to developing better collection and getting the points we need to compete with the more naturally gifted warmbloods we'll be facing more often at 3rd Level. We have to be precise and correct.

Other goals include mastering our flying changes-a movement that is pretty much the bane of my existence right now, Bastian is a counter-canter extraordinaire and has so far proven fairly resistant to complying with the idea of a flying change. But I'm not worried, we'll get it, and with our flying changes will come the remaining two scores I need in order to earn my Bronze Medal with the USDF. Regionals is in the mix too, showing at the Kentucky Horse Park is amazing and Bastian likes it there. I'm hoping we get to ride in the Rolex Arena again, he was a big fan of the footing there. Aside from that I just want to master 3rd Level and improve my riding.

I was invited to attend AETA in Philadelphia, PA by my sponsor, Hastilow Competition Saddlery and am definitely excited to attend, if you're going be sure to stop by their booth and introduce yourself and to check out their amazing saddles, bridles and other tack. I adore my Concept Dressage Saddle and so does Bastian! They have trained and qualified saddle fitters that will work with you and your horse to meet all of your needs. Be sure to check out their website.

And finally, thank you to the 7864 people that have read and visited my blog. :) I'm working on updating my website as well so be sure to check it out soon. Until next time, Bastian says stay warm!


  1. Nice to see you posting again, and Bastian looks so cute in his royal blue quarter sheet! Is that a wool one? Congratulations on 2013 and good luck in 2014!

  2. Thanks Jen! The quarter sheet is polar fleece, I would love to get a wool one some day! Thanks for the well wishes for 2014 :)