With the start of a new year imminent, I’ve reflected on the year gone by and started to think about my goals for 2019. Similarly to the previous two years, my university work had a big impact on the amount of progress I was able to make with the horses. My university is an hour away from my house and my horses, which means I live in a different city when lectures and exams are on. I am only able to consistently ride during my summer holidays which last a mere 3 months. During term time, I ride as much as I can, but it is usually limited to one horse.
My biggest achievement in 2018 has to be the progress I made with my horse, Fiona. (For information about each of my horses, click here). To avoid having to write a complete essay on the issues we had, I have a video documenting our full journey, which can be viewed here. We still have plenty to work on, but I am so proud (and also surprised) of how we went from her first show at 80cm and 90cm to jumping clear in her first 1m20 class. She has a bright future ahead of her and will be my main focus in 2019. Another highlight of 2018 was competing our first homebred horse, Khal, in his first few shows as he turned 4 yrs old this year. His first clear round was an experience I’ll never forget, and although it wasn’t all plain sailing, I learned so much from the experience.
Moving on from the past and into the new year, I’ll talk a bit about my plans for myself and then each of the horses.
Starting with yours truly, this will be the first summer that I will not be prioritising the horses. For my university degree in veterinary medicine, I have to do a set amount of weeks of placement in veterinary clinics and hospitals. This summer I will be spending five weeks in Belgium and three weeks in England doing equine reproduction, AI and embryo transfer. I am excited beyond words, as this is the area that I believe I would like to work in, and I know I will gain invaluable experience from my time in these studs… however a part of me is frustrated that it is at the expense of riding and competing my horses for most of the summer. But I know I need to think long term, and sacrificing one summer of horses is a small price to pay for the experience I’ll get and the opportunities it’ll create for me.
Next year I am doing something that I’ve never done before, which is bringing a horse to college with me! Last semester, my roommate brought her horse to a livery yard near our college apartment but I never thought it could be an option for me. However, recently my YouTube account has grown hugely and as a result of advertising on the channel via adsense, I have made enough money to pay for livery for the first half of the next semester! I am ridiculously grateful to every single person who watches my youtube videos as it has created so many opportunities for me. I am going to view a potential livery yard in the next few days so fingers crossed it all works out and I’m able to bring Fiona.
I believe 2019 is going to be a great year for Fiona and we’re going to continue to grow from last year. As she is coming to college with me, we will be very close to a trainer who I’ve gotten a lesson with before. With his help, I am confident that we will improve beyond recognition. My aim is to jump some 1m30 classes with her next year. However, although I will be able to ride almost every day during the semester, I won’t have transport to shows at the weekends. I am hopeful I may find an alternative means of transport as I usually rely on my dad to bring me to shows, so we will have to wait and see.
A lot of people ask me when Welbeck will be coming back into work, and the honest answer is; I don’t know! When Fiona became my main competition horse at the end of this year, Welbeck took a bit of a back seat. The plan is to put her in foal next year which means I won’t be riding her this summer or the year after. Welbeck will be having her foal the year I graduate, so all my planning ends in 2020 as I have absolutely no idea what I will do after I graduate! Maybe I’ll be in Ireland and I’ll ride her again? Maybe I’ll be overseas and I’ll put her back in foal? I’m not sure, the only thing I can tell you, is that in 2019, she’ll unlikely be ridden and she’ll be going in foal if all goes to plan.
Finally are the two home breds; Khal and Dali. Khal will be 5 years old next year and in an ideal world, he’d be going out and getting lots of experience at shows. However with me being gone for so much of the summer, I’m not sure how much work I’ll be able to get done with him. After the summer, I go into final year and start rotations. I don’t know if this will give me more time to ride as I won’t need to be in college every week, or less time to ride because of my irregular timetable. Luckily he is such a laid back horse that it is fine to ride him on and off as he doesn’t get too fresh! Dali will be 3 yrs old so he will be lightly backed and ridden a couple of times in the arena at walk and trot before going back out to the field until the start of his 4th year. I believe it’s good to get some basic ridden work into them when they’re three, to establish a foundation before they get too big and strong and hard to handle.
Some personal goals include consistently writing in this blog as well as continuing to upload to and grow my YouTube and Instagram accounts. Another resolution I have is to read more books. When I was younger, I devoured books. I would read every night, sometimes even through the night, and I just couldn’t get enough. When I started college, I found it harder to find the time and also the motivation to read. After studying all evening, that last thing I would feel like doing is picking up another book and start reading. But I know once I just start reading, the time flies and I don’t feel tired any more. This year, there’ll be no excuses!
What are your goals for the new year? Let me know in the comments below, whether they’re equestrian related or otherwise, I’d love to hear!