Reflecting Back on 2011

I love celebrating the New Year! I enjoy taking the time to think of my goals for the upcoming year and feel that burst of renewed energy and drive. When I was younger I would stay up with my family to watch the ball drop on tv. I had a fresh pad of paper and I would write down all my goals, ones that I wanted to achieve right away and long-term goals. Those lists have changed over the years, many lofty goals have been replaced with other lofty goals with a lot of little ones on the side. I tend to be a dreamer and I try not to limit my imagination. I love to visualize my dreams and would prefer to remain there in my mind rather than face the realities of the world. The excitement of the New Year is what I try to re-create all year-round to help motivate myself to work hard and stay focused. Looking back on 2011 I am very proud to say that I achieved my top equestrian goals. Those were:

  • Win the Open Freestyle Class at the Northeast Friesian Horse Club summer show with my "Wings of Isis" routine with Douwe- VICTORY!

This was my favorite moment of the year...when Douwe and I entered into the arena he was so calm and 100% connected with me that it brought tears to my eyes. I had to push them back because we were at the beginning of the routine, not the end! But I was so PROUD of how far Douwe and I had come. It was an amazing feeling!

  • Win Grand Champion Year-End Award with Douwe at Training Level for the Northeast Friesian Horse Club - VICTORY!
    Not only did Douwe become year-end champion, he was undefeated in all his Training Level tests this year. Every test we scored in the 70%'s and he even placed ahead of two FPVZ approved stallions! Go Douwe!
  • Train Douwe to perform the Spanish Walk - VICTORY!
    This movement is usually simple for most horses to learn but Douwe has had a hard time with it. I was persistent and had to figure out different ways for him to understand what I wanted. It took an entire year and a lot of patience but he can do it now!
  • Ride my horse bridleless - VICTORY!
    Douwe is the first horse I have felt safe and able to ride bridleless. I am not a hugely brave rider by nature even though I have good balance and skill. I trust Douwe and feel comfortable with him. Douwe is able to do his transitions really well, steer easily, perform rein-back, spanish walk, a little piaffe/passage, and we even did a flying change the other day!

I also achieved some long-term goals that I am very excited about. Those were:

  • To be a vendor at the Equine Affaire in Massachusetts -VICTORY!

    This goal took 3 years to accomplish. It is very difficult to get into the Equine Affaire and make the right connections and preparations so that it will be a success.

    • To compete with my horse in Florida - VICTORY!
      For the past 5 years I have been traveling to Florida to teach, give clinics, and judge. Normally I would fly or drive but I really wanted to take the time and my horse to Florida for that experience. We spent about 4 months at Southern Oaks Equestrian Center in Tallahassee, FL. We competed at some shows and participated in some clinics while I gave clinics and judged shows.
    • Train Douwe to do flying changes -VICTORY!
      When I bought Douwe three years ago I tried not to have high expectations. He needed a lot of re-training and his canter was very unbalanced and weak. Friesians in general have a hard time gaining collection and strength at the canter so I wasn't going to hold my breath. But he is blossoming into a much nicer horse than I originally thought he was. His changes are still in the early stages but they are mostly clean changes with lots of energy!

    I will share my equestrian goals for 2012 in my next post and I would love to hear from all of you riders out there! Either post your comments on my blog, Facebook page or by email: sandrabee11@hotmail.com. Let's hope that 2012 is awesome for all of us!