End of the year is a traditional time to stop and reflect on your life; the progress you have or haven’t made, personal ups and downs, or any changes can get analyzed and graded, allowing you to give yourself a summary of good, bad, or meh year.

It’s just one year now that I packed up my car, my dog, and a few horses and left Germany headed to Denmark. I had NO idea what I was in for, with only a vague job description and my new boss’ good international reputation to go on.

As I’d told my friends and family during a quick, pre-move visit back in North America, this opportunity in Denmark could be great or it could really stink and I’ll be done in three months.

Lucky for me, it was has worked out. I love my job and can’t believe my good luck to land in such a place. Let me just take a few minutes and explain the awesomeness of my year:

First of all, I work with horses. Really, it’s a win no matter where I am.

I have access GREAT instruction. My boss is coach to some Big Name Riders/Trainers on both sides of the Atlantic, and I get to learn from him every day. And I get paid for it. Give me a minute to wipe the smile off my face…

As lucky as I am to work with horses, I am even luckier to work with a great group of people. We have a really positive atmosphere here and work well together as a team. I’ve been other places where it feels like every man for himself, so it makes the day go by much easier when you can laugh with your colleagues.

I’m allowed and encouraged to show. I love horse shows; even when I suck in public, it’s still fun. They let me take their horses out and I have a nifty team jacket to wear in the warm up, that makes me feel fancy. Sometimes, I even bring home a ribbon.

And these horses I get to ride! Wow! Not a loser in the group! I have sales horses and there’s not one of them I wouldn’t take home or think would be a great match for people I know. I get to ride young, not-so young, big, small (a pony!) and everything in between.

My bosses are very cool, in allowing me time off every two months to teach clinics. This has been really generous of them to give me that much time, and it’s great as it lets me get to know people and their horses much better when I can come back regularly. Developing these clinic locations and client relations is really fun.

Besides work, it’s been cool living in another new country. Denmark is small and friendly, and everyone speaks English. This brings up the one part of my year that lacks awesome, and in fact embarrasses me: I’ve not learned much more than “tak” (thank you) and “skål” (cheers) in the gobbledygook that is the Danish language. I’ll put that on my 2012 list…

A new thing I started this year that has added to the awesome, is sports psychology.  It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while now and it’s really had a big impact on my riding. I really would recommend this to anyone, whether you ride one horse for a hobby or if, like me, it’s your career.

The most awesome of all things that have happened over this past year is the excitement I have for NEXT YEAR! Why?

Because I think I maybe, finally, will get into the Grand Prix ring. This is due to some amazing people who have invested in my future, supporting me with The Orange Goodness (or Countess as she is officially known).

They are giving me the opportunity to “finish” her and get our butts into the Big Ring. While there have been days where I feel like a total beginner, the progress we’ve made is undeniable and just in the last week we’ve made HUGE strides in the hardest of the exercises.

For the first time in my life, I feel like my Grand Prix is just around the corner; I can see it and taste it.  I’ve had amazing opportunities to ride Grand Prix horses plenty of times over the years, but never to compete and certainly not on one that I’ve finished myself.

So it’s been an amazing year with huge goals achieved and much fun being had in the process and there’s no way I could have predicted it all 12 months ago. When I think of the difference a year can make, I’m really looking forward to 2012!