When trying to describe 2017 to some fellow equestrians, I found myself struggling to really recall the big, exciting moments to share. I could remember when my lease horse left for her new home, I remembered crying in my lesson when I couldn’t get my horse to canter correctly, and I remember asking to take a step back in order to balance myself. None of these I would consider the great moments that I was hoping for;  mostly they bring back feelings of embarrassment and general weirdness.

2017 was a year of growth, but not necessarily the positive kind. Plenty of good things happened to me out of the saddle.  I had a great year at work, my family is the very best, and have an amazing barn family. However, my biggest equestrian accomplishment was going to a local horse show. And even then, was it great? Eh, it was good, not great; I went off course, a first for me in many years.

Essentially I am realizing how much 2017 didn’t work out to the standard that I had put it to in January. I hadn’t put any momentous goals or plans out into the universe hoping to stem off any feelings of disappointment at the end of the year. But honestly, not having goals didn’t seem to do anything except for make me more aware of how unfocused I was this year. Sure there were some good days, and good horses; but the fact that I have to really think to remember exactly when those were speaks volumes to me.

I know that all years cannot be packed full of great moments, big victories and celebrations. But this one sneaked up on me. My parents would tell me to not sweat the small things, but to celebrate the good moments instead. Yet the perfection obsessed rider inside of me cannot let this go. I don’t want to celebrate survival, I want to do better than I have before. Because if you aren’t improving, then what am I doing? Does the absences of success or greatness really mean failure?

So here I am, looking nervously at a whole new year. Will it be full of great successes and moments of triumph?  I’m not sure.  And that’s probably just part of being an equestrian, some level of instability never goes away. Holding tight to that thought, I know that this year I do need some goals laid out. Because even if I fall a little short in 2018, I need to know that I went after it. Somewhere between greatness and failure, there is a whole middle area that I’m personally renaming intention. If I get to the end of 2018 and feel like I still had only a few great (or even not so great) moments, but I spent the year living with intention to improve myself in and out of the saddle, then I will celebrate that just as I would the greats. No matter what we feel at that moment, it’s the effort and ambition that we push forward with that makes the years great.