A whole lot can change in a year.

At this same point in time in 2016, I was riding high coming off a Grand Champion award for our division at our local circuit. I was ready to switch gears in 2017, and do less jumping and more dressage with my 19-year-old Hanoverian mare. I was excited to get married, go on a globetrotting honeymoon, and just enjoy the time I had with my horse, my faithful competition partner, as I began to ease her into more of a retirement lifestyle.

Well, life happened and a lot of things didn’t go according to plan.

I did get married.  I still went on my honeymoon. We bought a house. But my mare passed away, and I spent much of 2017 missing her and trying not to feel guilty for buying and bringing along a new horse.

Despite the highs, the lows and the general uncertainty of my personal equestrian goals in 2017, my outlook for 2018 remains mostly the same. I have no expectations.

If my new horse, a young OTTB gelding, has taught me anything during our short stint together, it’s that there are factors beyond my (or his) control. Goals are great. They help keep us organized and inspire us to keep pushing to reach them. But it’s OK not to have strict deadlines for progress. I’m not a loser because I don’t know what I want to do yet.

After losing and grieving for my mare, I was forced to really think about what it is and why I love working with horses so much. I feel lucky to have had so many options to compete and ride well put together mounts through the years. But bringing along a young one is a whole different mindset.

I’m a living, breathing adult amateur stereotype: I work full time, and having enough hours in the day to do “all the things” is a constant struggle.

I am falling in love my new gelding. He’s goofy and kind and generally wants to be a useful citizen. But he’s young and unseasoned. He is the opposite of my mare in almost every way. So right now, I’m just enjoying the ride. I’m appreciating the small victories when he learns something new. Time will tell if he likes to jump or if he prefers more of a dressage route. We’ll probably go to shows of all kinds in 2018. In the meantime we’ll continue to do stuff that’s good for both of our souls: like trail rides and maybe a hunter pace (if the jumping thing works out).

I want 2018 to be about us and by that, I mean forming a partnership. Whatever we choose to do when we decide to grow up will come with time. Until then, there’s no need to rush.