Wow!  That was a blur.  2016 is in the books.  Being at the end of the year leads to reviewing what we accomplished in the past season, the work we need to do in the off-season, and planning for the upcoming season next summer.  I’m a bit of an oddity in that I’m working toward both dressage and eventing medals, so my schedule needs to include both.

I’m exhausted, but I don’t think I’ve done anything — that is until I sit down and go through the calendar again.  And this past year, there have been some memorable events (pun intended).  Most notable were:

Volunteering at a Rated Show — This time, I focused my attention on show jumping.  I volunteered from set-up through the entire competition.  I learned a lot, and it was really useful to see one discipline at an event all the way from course design, to set-up, to warm-up, to competition.  I was a bit intimidated by the fact that several of the big name riders I know of were competing in this one.  But my technical delegate provided clear instructions, and my event host both told me not to put up with any attitude from anyone, so I didn’t.  And now, I have a much better perspective on what the volunteers are juggling, and how I can be successful as a rider in the warm-up.

Riding in a rated show — Granted, I was just doing the Elementary level (one below Beginner Novice), but I rode in several rated shows this year, in addition to my schooling show adventures.  It was a great relief to ride in these shows, and know where I was going, and what I was doing.  Now for the move up.

Kate Chadderton Winter Clinics — Since I couldn’t make it to Florida with Kate last winter, I took advantage of her return to her farm in Maryland once a month.  We worked on a variety of dressage and jumping exercises in her indoor arena while the winter weather elements howled around us.

Leslie Grant-Law Clinic — Leslie was a new clinician for me.  Since I’m often chided about doing too many clinics, I had a to laugh that I had found one that was new to me.  As good as the clinic was, the best part was actually the group of riders.  There were 4-6 riders in four different levels.  Everyone was very supportive of each other.  We ate, cleaned tack, took care of horses, and hung out together for three solid days.  Then on the fourth day, several of us competed in a horse trial at the property where the clinic was.  Since then, we have maintained contact and continue to run into each other at other horse trials.

Eric Smiley Clinic — Another “new to me” clinician, I was encouraged to ride with Eric by Kate Chadderton, and boy was she right.  Eric has a very specific vocabulary, and a surprisingly quiet way about him.  But his methods get results.  We did an incredible amount of work in our three days together, the highlight of which was definitely cross country.  Eric transformed Charlie Brown and me from a nervous wreck to a relaxed and confident team.

USEA Convention — I went to the convention in Florida in December.  Being away from home, I could throw myself into the program, and not get sidetracked.  I met a lot of people from Area 2, and compared notes about what events to participate in, so I now have some new places to ride near home.  And even though I’m not a technical delegate, I attended the pre-convention workshop on designing and judging show jumping courses. 

These experiences have helped me solidify my team, and begin planning in earnest for 2017…