2015 was a year of transition for me, and it’s safe to say I’m happy to see it go. There were plenty of ups and downs for me and my horse. And while we didn’t accomplish everything I hoped for this year, I’m thankful that we’re both healthy, happy and have each other.

With that said, we learned a lot this year. Here are some of those takeaways.

Be patient. Injuries suck. Mysterious ones with no real diagnosis are costly and will drive you crazy. But what I learned this year was, even if it takes 12 weeks, be patient. Time and love heal a lot of things. It’s not worth rushing that healing process and cutting stall rest short when your horse’s well-being is at stake. Be patient. And always be kind.

belinda trotLife will always get in the way. This time last year, I had so many big plans for Belinda and I. We were going to show a dozen times during the year. We were going to move up a level or two. I was going to take a lot of lessons. None of that happened. I was bummed about it for a while, but injuries healed and the time I spent away from my horse — on vacations, or career projects, or with my family — was still time well spent. It’s all about being well-rounded.

belinda trailz 2

I can always use more money, but I shouldn’t stress so much about it. As a horse owner, I’m constantly strapped for cash. I weigh personal vacations versus trying new supplements for Belinda. This year, I saved up and bought a trailer. As my mare and I continue to struggle with loading, I try not to think about all the ways I could have spent that money instead. We’ll get there. One day we’ll both be comfortable hauling to places. And God forbid, we’ve got a ride now in case of an emergency.

My non-equestrian boyfriend hanging out with Belinda.It’s OK to ask for help. When Belinda was down from an injury, I relied on others for help and advice a lot. Same with our trailering woes — my boyfriend sacrificed many a Saturdays to be my back up on our weekend trips to the park and back. I couldn’t have gotten through any of that without them. And while sometimes I think I am Superwoman and can do it all, it’s humbling to remember that it takes a village. There are a lot of people around rooting for Belinda and I. I’m grateful.

Justine Griffin riding her hanoverian mare, Belinda and holding her trail blazing rescue dog, Josie. Breathe. And have fun. This year I started trail riding more than I ever have in my equestrian life. It’s a welcome reprieve from the stresses of arena work. It helps keep “balance” in my life. Sure, I still have athletic goals I’d like to achieve with my horse and occasionally compete. But favorite time in the saddle is often while on the trail in a state park with Belinda. Sometimes with my dog at her heels.

Here’s a short video of Belinda and I finally getting our groove back:

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