Saturday, January 2, 2016

2016 Goals and Hopes and Dreams


Alright, I've jumped on board with "goals". I don't like judging the year against something I decided back at the start of the year because things will happen that will derail you over the year. I think horsey goals have to be ever evolving based on current information (meaning injuries, not bad lessons!). 2015 was supposed to be my Bronze Medal year. Instead it became 'save my horse's soundness' year, then 'start over' year. If I looked at the goals I set for myself at the start of 2015, I would have failed miserably at completing them (which I did considering they were 3rd level recognized show oriented). But I don't feel that way because of the progress Mikey made, and now the progress Penn made.

I am very competition oriented. End of story. Maybe I should be doing dressage for the sheer joy of training my horse to carry himself properly. That doesn't do it for me, sorry. I like to know what other people think and how I'm doing against everyone else (aka horse shows). So all of my goals are competition oriented.

I'll reevaluate my goals mid year to see if I should change them. I'm not opposed to that.

I think I should have broken my 2016 goals down into smaller, more measurable goals or something that's more than pass/fail. But when it comes down to it, there's 4 main things I want to accomplish this year and I'll work everything around making them happen!

2016 Main Goals

  • First Level Rider Award - I need two more scores.
  • First Level Horse Performance Certificate - No reason Penn shouldn't be able to get this based on the show schedule I devised.
  • Region 1 Championships at First Level - Go there and compete, and do it well (top 6 or 65%+)

2016 Stretch Goals
  • *whispers* US Dressage Finals at First Level - Ok so change Championships to scoring 68%+

Looking at those goals, I think maybe I should have non-horsey goals. Nah. I think my three "Main" goals are perfectly acceptable and shouldn't be an issue.

  • Rider Award: 4 scores at 60%+ from 4 different judges from at least 2 different shows. I have 2 scores from 2 different judges at 1 show already (I only rode 3 First Level tests with Mikey before moving on to Second Level).
  • Horse Performance Certificate: 10 scores at 60%+ from at least 4 different shows and 4 different judges, where at least 4 scores need to be from the 1-3 test. Several of my weekends are differently registered shows each day of the weekend, so in two weekends I can hit 4 shows with 4 different judges (and ride 2 tests per day). Toss in Championships, and as long as I don't screw Penn up, this should be easy enough even if I only go away for two weekends and Championships.
  • Qualify for Championships: 2 scores at 62%+ in 1-3, from 2 different shows. This falls in line with my other goals. They're all related to each other. This is the only one with a higher percent requirement, but to be honest, I'd rather my scores be above 62% anyway.

Hoping my stretch goal isn't a mistake.

I'm embarrassed to even announce my Stretch goal out loud. Of course everyone wants to go to Finals! Who wouldn't? And I'm sure everyone is all, "Oh we're doing so well right now, it shouldn't be a problem, blah blah blah" and I feel like that's me! Then of course it doesn't work out for most people or else Finals would have a huge list of riders. I haven't even ridden Penn in a First Level test yet! However, we have touched on every movement from 1-3.

Remember, in order to be guaranteed to go, I either need to be first or second at championships, or score above a 68% to get a wildcard invitation. I checked last year's Championships scores- none of the Amateur riders scored 68%+, so the only riders who went were places 1 and 2. I guess there's some other rules that go in effect if a rider from placing 1 or 2 can't/doesn't go, then they'll go down the placings for the next eligible rider. Not hoping for that.

I NEVER make a placing my goal because I feel like that's a less valuable achievement (in most cases) and it can be unobtainable because other riders could ride better than you, even if you've done an incredible job. A percent is more valuable to me since it can be compared against other scores. Yes, I was 1st in most of my 3rd level tests with Mikey, but I was against myself! That's not meeting any goal except to get out there and ride it! Not saying I'd pass on a neck ribbon or more ribbons, because those are cool and Mikey's only neck ribbon is lonely. To place near the top at Championships, I will have to have a top score. To get a wildcard invite, I'll need a top score again. So basically, placing became an unintentional goal because top scores get top placings. I'll only be upset if I place last, which would mean I screwed up royally I think.

I do know two riders who have gone to Finals (one as a second placing and one as a wildcard) and another who had been invited as a wildcard but opted not to make the 12+ hr drive. Both who went were at training level (which I think it would be hardest to qualify for since there are so many training level riders), and the one that didn't go was for 2nd Level Freestyle. I don't know how this is relevant to my thinking. Maybe to show it can be done by horses who are not imported fancy pants warmbloods?

"Small" and "Training" Goals are my actions to achieving my "Main" and "Stretch" Goals.

2016 Small Goals

Ok, this section got created as a plan for meeting my "Main" and "Stretch" goals. I've made a list of the shows near me (HOC hasn't released their dates yet but they hold a schooling show every month in the summer) and then reiterated my recognized show list from before because as of now, there aren't any new additions. The tests I plan on riding (and the number of times they'll be ridden) are listed in the 3rd column of the recognized table.

Schooling Shows
1/3 Chagrin T-1, T-2, T-3
1/31 Chagrin T-2, T-3, 1-1
2/28 Chagrin T-2, T-3, 1-1
4/3 Chagrin 1-1, 1-2
5/xx HOC 1-2, 1-3
6/xx HOC 1-2, 1-3
7/xx HOC 1-2, 1-3
8/xx HOC 1-2, 1-3
9/xx HOC 1-2, 1-3

Recognized Shows
5/21-22 PVDA @ Morven Park 1-2 (x2), 1-3 (x2)
6/4, 6/5 WPDA* 1-2 (x2), 1-3 (x2)
6/10, 6/11-12 VADA/NOVA @ Morven Park 1-2 (x3), 1-3 (x3)
6/26 Dressage at Center Hall 1-2 (x1), 1-3 (x1)
7/30, 7/31 WPDA 1-2 (x2), 1-3 (x2)
9/15-18 Region 1 Championships 1-2 (x1?), 1-3 (x2)
11/3-6 US Dressage Finals* 1-2 (x1?), 1-3 (x2)
*dates haven't been officially announced yet
Multiple shows in one weekend have the dates separated by commas.

These will serve as testing for my training. I've crossed out a couple based on how I'm currently feeling about the year, and how I think my wallet is going to feel about the year.

I don't feel the urge to go to every schooling show and every recognized show. I'd like to cut out the July recognized show (for monetary reasons) and the middle schooling shows. Penn will need plenty of experience in our quest for Finals, but he'll need a rest too. Basically, I'd like to qualify for Championships as fast as possible, and then focus on getting Penn out and about as much as possible to help make him a seasoned competitor (to schooling or recognized). I think going to Morven Park will really help that- it's a very large show (8 rings usually I believe?), so it should have a bit more atmosphere.

By the 3rd weekend on my list, I will have ridden in 5 different shows, had 5 opportunities to qualify for Championships, and 14 rides at First Level (with 7 being test 1-3), so I should have the Rider and Horse awards checked off, as well as qualifying for Championships (if not, we'll need to reevaluate the goals). I would bail on the 4th weekend, however the show is 2.5 hours away (aka close), my in-laws live nearby, and it's a show that costs less than $100 to go to. It is a small show and I want to make sure I support it so it's around for years to come. If everything is accomplished, I think I'll bail on weekend #5 and put the money toward Championships.

I debated adding 2-1 to one of the schooling shows at the end of the year, or to Championships (since you can ride extra tests since there is a regular show going on as well), but I think I've put enough pressure on me and Penn for one year. 2017 long term goals is to do second level and third level, get a Dover medal, and get my Bronze medal. At that point Penn and I will probably move a bit slower, hopefully a level every year to year and a half.

2016 Training Goals:

The "Small" Goals will test my "Training" Goals. As they should- horse shows are a test of your training. You get feedback, bring it home, then make changes according to your feedback. Below are all of the movements from Training Level Test 1 to First Level Test 3. I've labeled which tests the movements are introduced.

Training Level Movements/Skills:

  • Medium walk
  • Free walk
  • Working trot
  • Working canter
  • 20m circles in trot and canter
  • Stretchy trot (T2)
  • Shallow loop in trot (T3)

First Level Movements/Skills:
  • 10m half circle in trot
  • 15m circle in canter
  • Lengthening trot
  • Lengthening canter
  • Leg yield (1-2)
  • 10m circle in trot (1-3)
  • Change of lead through trot (1-3)
  • One loop in canter (1-3)

I figure at the end of the year, I can look back at all of these (probably just First Level) and evaluate how well each one went for us on a 1-10 scale instead of the Main/Stretch Goal's pass/fail method. Oh, I should go through my tests and find the average score for each movement, as well as Max/Min! That'll be a fun math post! I'll have to get a spreadsheet ready! #nerdy


  1. Wow this is a busy year! Good luck and I think you and Penn can do it :)

    1. The year ended up much busier than I anticipated. Most of it is just getting Penn experience in public so he's relaxed for championships. The first half of the year is much busier than its ever been because I want to take him out in May, which means I need to practice 1-2 and 1-3 in public. I'd rather be have a quiet July though... It's just too hot and I hate horse showing at that time.

  2. Morven in May. Let's do it!!!!

  3. Nothing wrong with a stretch goal! I'm excited for Penn's first year out!

  4. i like the way you think - ambitious but doable, and with a plan to make it happen :D