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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~

Friday, January 1, 2010

It's Gonna Be a Happy New Year

Yes, indeed it is! 2010 is here and we can finally let the last decade die in peace. How weird is it that ten years ago I was still in middle school, standing around at Epcot in Disney World waiting for Y2K to shut off all the fireworks and lights? Aaaah, ten years come and come. We've learned many things in the past decade, answered many burning questions such as... how does one unfreeze an iPod? Should I shake it like a salt shaker or a Polaroid picture? Should I vote for Kerry just so Bush won't win? A decade where somebody finally realized that skinny shirts were out, skinny jeans were in, and skinny models should finally eat some more sandwiches. A decade where buildings got attacked, space shuttles fell out of the sky, and long wars started. A decade that gave us Facebook, Twitter, the iPhone, publicly available hybrid cars, and the pinnacle of human achivement, the Snuggie. A decade where I entered and finished both high school and college, owned all three of my horses, and saw many pets, family members, and friends come and go. It's quite remarkable to look back on it all and realize just what a huge amount of time a decade really is, especially for someone like me who is not quite two and a half decades old. That's practically half my life right there. That's crazy.

As is tradition, it's time to go over all the 2009 goals I set for myself and for Gogo, and to come up with new 2010 goals. 2009 was sort of a hazy year for me - started out SO strong (winning three events in a row!) and then ending on such a crappy note (a RF, a last place finish, a 5th after a rail, and a tendon injury!), so it wasn't quite what I had hoped for. Most of these goals didn't get accomplished at all.

2009 Goals:

1) Qualify for and attend the AECs at Novice – place top 10
Well, we easily qualified for them, and we attended them, and we WOULD have finished 4th out of 40 people. I suppose I consider this goal not totally a failed completion. Freak things can and do happen, things we would have never guessed could have. The fact that she kept going through that challenging course while being seriously injured unbeknownst to me and never questioned a thing or hesitated anywhere means more to me than any placing could, because of the heart and guts she showed. She just kept going. That takes a special horse to just keep going.

2) Break 70% (at First Level or Novice/Training)

We did in fact do that! But only once, which was a little dissapointing. While the average of our overall scores went down - and was VERY consistant - our lowest score was still only a 29.5. That's not as low as I want it. We'll work harder at that this year,

3) Show First Level 1-4
Nope. I just didn't have the finances.

4) Hopefully show Second Level 1-2 (not an official goal, due to money constraints)
See above. Hopefully this year.

5) Show Training Level eventing
Again, we WOULD have done this had she not injured herself at the AECs. She was mentally ready and she was definitely fit enough. So not a TOTALLY failed goal, just an uncompleted one due to circumstances beyond my control.

The goals I set for myself last year are also for the most part incompletions, or total failures. My problem ended up being this: I spent too much time focusing on my horse, and not enough time on myself. Which you know, certainly could be worse, but I am a firm believers that all people should have other things they love and enjoy to do away from their careers and career-like things. If I had a desk job somewhere, then of course my horse would be the perfect outlet away from that, but she's a large part of my daily career work, as are all her horsey comrades. I think it's very healthy to maintain other fun pastimes too, because of focused I get on just her. For most of this past year, she's been my entire life. Everything I've done from waking in the morning to sleeping at night has revolved totally around her. And that's great when things are going swimmingly, but extra devastating when things aren't - I had nothing else to turn to that I was putting any sort of emotion into. One of the (very) few good things about her lay-up has been that I've had so much extra time to do all the stuff I enjoy but don't have time to do when she's in heavy training. I focused a lot on myself. I go to go on small vacations. I traveled a bit, I spent more time with friends, I painted and wrote, and I did a lot of yoga and reading. It was nice, just getting to go for a stroll in the woods and not think about my next upcoming show. So this upcoming show season, while I won't be any less driven in the slightest, I fully intend on letting myself be a multifacited person. Sometimes I get so focused on one thing, I forget all the other aspects of my being. I'm crazy about skiing. I love to exercise. I love getting my hair done and a new pair of shoes. I adore sailing, travel, and walking up to total strangers to strike up a conversation. I have to allow myself time for these things this coming year. That way, if something else happens that's not in my favor (but it WON'T because I SAID SO), my whole life won't feel totally ruined.

The other problem with last year's list? It wasn't specific enough. It was very vague, and so therefore I had nothing concrete to hang on to or to focus on. Things never got done because I didn't have enough of an idea of what I really wanted to do in the first place. I'm starting over this year with a more difinitive list, both for myself and for Gogo. And for both of us, there will be a bigger list of things that are NOT just sport.

So, without further ado, our yearly goals.

2010 Goals:

Qualify for and attend the AECs at Training Level, top 10 finish
Break 70% at First Level or Training Level (Score in 20’s)
Show 1st level 1-4 (Schooling or recognized)
Show 2nd Level 1-2 (Schooling or recognized)
If finances are available, show in GMHA’s N3DE (do the T3DE next year!) – or at least attend/support/volunteer/donate to it
Take her to Holsteiner approvals and get into the MMB
Do some fun competition type things: the 2010 Equine Affaire Versatily Horse & Rider Competition, a competitive trail ride, hunter trials/hunter paces
Go foxhunting!

Travel as much as I can – Madagascar/Egypt/? At the end of the year
Complete the 100 Pushups/200 Situps/25 Pullups/200 Squats challenges
Learn how to run barefoot and compete in a 5k barefoot
Do yoga once (or twice) every week
Eat healthier – buy fresh food every week and learn to MAKE IT
Save money for other things than the necessary – shows, and breeding next year
During the winter, ski every Wednesday that weather allows
Complete Metro's scrapbook
Have a poem published
Finish Patrick painting

Now there's two or three things in there that might have caught your eye. First, it's true - GMHA is running a Novice 3-Day this year. THAT IS AMAZING. If I am still point-chasing, it's unlikely that I'd be able to do this, as they're running it a couple of days before their regular event. But if I can't ride in it, I still fully intend to support it, either through volunteer work or financially. With the time we've lost and my inability to really find someone out here that I'd really like to train with (any suggestions?), doing the T3DE is not a viable option this year, sadly. I don't have the qualifications or the knowledge to do that alone. I need a teacher and a guide. But you never know, maybe someone amazing will come along and we'll try for it!

Secondly, did you say breeding? Yes, that's the plan - finally, I'm in a situation where I will be financially strong enough, as well as be in a stable living/job situation, where I will be able to breed her in the summer of 2011. The goal all along has been to breed her before the age of 11, then go back and compete for several more years before retiring her as a broodmare. It is infinitely easier to get a younger maiden mare pregnant and mainain it to term rather than an older maiden mare, and it's actually quite common in Europe for a mare owner to breed the mare at the age of 3, foal out and see what's she's capable of producing, then break and train the mare until she's older and ready to be retired to be a full-time mom. Young bodies are good at these kinds of things, and old bodies are more concerned with keeping just themselves healthy and going. So for mid-late summer 2011, I am finally setting it all down in stone. Two and a half years from now, expect to be introduced to a bouncing, rearing bundle of joy. I can't WAIT already!! BUT, clearly that is a long way away, and I need to start planning and saving now if that's what I really want to do. All the pieces are ready to fall into place - I even have an inexpensive place to keep the wee one when he/she is weaned for very cheap... right here in my backyard! Turnout all day and an arena and everything! If that's not a great situation, I don't know what is.

Thirdly, did you say... running barefoot? In all the commotion in the past few posts about barefoot horses and barefoot human athletes, I got to thinking about it. Here's the thing: I LOVE to run. But I've essentially stopped every time I've really gotten into it because of the horrible pain it caused me. Knee pain, back pain, shin splints, cramps in my feet, and let's not even get me started on my bad hip. I was running in crappy shoes at the time and attributed it to that. I went out and got myself a fancy pair of running shoes and tried again, and strangely enough, the pains in my feet got way, way worse. I would have to stop mid-run sometimes because of the shooting cramps I'd get in my arches. It was weird, it didn't make sense. So now here I am, getting fat on the couch while my horse gets fat in her stall. I'm not running because my feet and my body hurt when I do it regularly. I have pretty good form... so what's the problem?
And then I had a lightbulb moment when everyone was bickering about it. Why not try running barefoot myself? It sounds ridiculous really, when I write it down, but I'm serious. If it worked so well for my horse, maybe it could work for me too. It's quite the same set of principles - nature gave us these feet and intended us to use them unfettered, and it's quite a growing movement. The human evolved as a bipedal walking/running machine, meant to be on their feet and going all day long. If I want to try this, I need to do some serious research and ask some very real questions. If it hurts me too much to run in shoes, maybe I should just try without them, and see what happens. Who knows? I might come back swearing with glass in my foot and write the whole thing off. But maybe, just maybe, it'll change me as an athlete for all time. I'm a novice runner - a very novice runner - but I want to do it and I want to do it a lot. I love it. I am no Stacey but I do want to try, late in the year, a 5k road race. Maybe I'll end up back in running shoes - who knows? But maybe not. It'll be an interesting experiment, and a sweet way to run a little bit of a parallel to the nekked hooves movement. I know what it's like to be an athlete limited by my shoes! So stay tuned to see what happens on that front.

Happy New Year, everyone!


l i n d z e r ♥♥ said...

Foxhunting is so much fun, I love it! So many great people and also great food. =P Hope you can go out and do it!

I was reading Eventing 2.0, and was so excited to see that you had a huge article! It was really well written too! (:

I'm thinking of you and Gogo, I know how it is to have to build a horse back up after a suspensory injury; that's what I'm recovering from with my horse, Deco.

I love to read your blog, keep it up! You've brought a second wind to my blogging career.

Happy New Year!

Lindsey (and Deco)

McFawn said...

Awesome about the barefoot running. I'm thinking about trying it too. Here's two resources to check out:

GREAT book about running/barefoot running, and a mysterious, ultra-marathoning tribe.

Human equivalent of hoof boots,so you can be barefoot but handle rocks, etc.

manymisadventures said...

I like this whole post and I am excited to watch you and Gogo kick butt this year.

I had the same vagueness problem last year - I didn't realize it, but I didn't have enough MEASURABLE goals. I'm being ambitious with my goals this year, but I want to push myself!

Foxhunting is one of my big, long-term goals. As far as I can tell there aren't any active hunts in Oregon :( But there's a Pony Club judge who has a standing invitation to PC members to come ride with her hunt in Washington, so maybe someday I will get to do that.

Good luck with your 2010 goals!

Heather said...

McFawn, my husband is reading Born to Run right now and loving it! I think the general school of thought on training barefoot is to incorporate 10% of your weekly milage barefoot on a soft, grassy, groomed surface. I probably wouldn't up more than 10% every month or even every other month, depending on milage. Good luck, it is a very interesting new wave going through the running community. I've heard the transition takes 1-2 years.

Funder said...

Yup, I came to recommend you try the Vibram FiveFingers too! People swear by them.

Eeeek, a Gobaby! I'm so excited for you! I am on the fence about wanting to breed Dixie in '11 or '12 - it would be so nice to have a baby with her conformation and mind, but minus all the early damage and baggage. That's probably the exact same thing you're thinking!

Food: If you buy something and email me or post about it, I will tell you great things you can do with it. Cooking is just as much of a skill as riding; you just need to practice!

Val said...

Another vote for the FiveFingers. The Nike Free 5.0 is also a very stripped down running shoe. My husband has the same aches and pains, which you described, when he runs, so he bought a pair of the FiveFingers and the Nike Free to help the transition. He liked the Free so much that he stuck with them. Maybe these shoes would help you train for barefoot and/or FiveFingers?
Best of Luck for your 2010 goals

E.C. - The Eventing Chameleon said...

I'm a college cross-country runner, and when I was in dead fit shape I ran ten minutes barefoot and was cripplingly sore the next day because traditional running shoes isolate the muscles we should be using to run. I love feeling the ground under my feet, but if I have to run road I'll use my racing flats. If I wasn't poor, I'd definitely own a pair of VFF's.

I can't remember where I saw the statistic, but running injuries (mainly overuse and strain injuries) have increased 70% since the 1970's when traditional cushioned trainers were introduced. Even people with flat feet begin to develop an arch after running barefoot and using the muscles nature gave us.

After I was kicked in the knee by another horse while riding my Freshman year, I couldn't bend my leg for three weeks and developed a side-to-side whole-body muscle imbalance that persisted for three years of running with shoes. When I started running barefoot, my body naturally balanced itself out. Of course, I was sore on the formerly weak side for a while. It was worth it, though, because as I increased my mileage the imbalance manifested itself in hip and knee pain because my strong side was literally dragging my weak side along. After running barefoot for a while the joint pain was gone.

Didn't mean to write a diatribe, but the physiology of the human body is fascinating stuff and it's so applicable to horses.

Checkmark115 said...

hey thanks for the advice! I really appreciate it.
as for the haters, I wouldnt worry about them...they're prolly just uber jealous.
Good luck with all your goals! :)

blogfourfiveone said...

If you need any help with vacation planning please let me know, I'm a travel agent up here in Canada so I can search cheap flights, tours etc.etc.

Veronica Lodge said...

Hunting is the best, I wouldn't recommend taking a horse with a past injury like yours. Maybe you can borrow a horse?

Dressager said...

You guys did great last year, I expect the same this year! Lots of luck to the both of you, in both your horsey and personal endeavors!!!!