I have been fortunate enough to travel to Florida again this year. I brought Marco and he hasn't disappointed. I've taken no less than 2 dressage lessons a week and have traveled to Ocala for jumping lessons as well. It's always so nice to come down here and I always wish I could stay longer. Obviously, the opportunity to leave Ohio the last two winters is a major bonus but the learning opportunities and chance to focus on my riding and my own horse's training for a month is huge. At home, it seems there are always a million and one things that take precedence.
I've also ventured beyond just riding and tackled my first half marathon. It was a big accomplishment for me and I was really happy when 4 months of training paid off with a decent result. Just like riding, there are improvements that could be made to be more successful next time out but my body is fit and strong and it has complimented my riding.
We head back to Ohio the second week of March and I'll be preparing for Spring Bay. I'm anxious to start teaching again. I'll be marketing Piccolo as well; it's time to find her an easier job. She has years of competitiveness left in her. It's not an easy decision since I've had her for over 8 years now but I feel the best for both of us.
This was a year of ups and downs for sure. Going back to last spring, I had great expectations for my year with Piccolo. She came home from Florida strong and I had a plan to do a few events at Training, move up to Prelim, and compete her at the Training Three Day in October. Unfortunately, horses are horses and she had a minor injury in May. While that seemed to heal up relatively quickly, she just never got back to the form she'd had before. Regular chiropractic and massage got her back feeling better but she was not her usual self on XC. Sometime mid-summer, we discovered a pulled muscle in her right hind. Even once that healed up, she still wasn't quite herself. She's never been a stopper. The few issues we'd had in the past were legitimate green moments but I felt like I was having to ride her strongly. I debated whether she was physically struggling or maybe it was a lack of confidence or worried that she'd be uncomfortable. Nothing appeared to be physically bothering her but she's always wanted to please so her behavior was concerning. By late summer, I noticed some unevenness in her left front and we concluded that she had sprained her ankle. She's back in work now and feels the best she has in a while. I am slowly coming to the conclusion that she may need an easier life. I feel that, athletically, she has the ability to go Prelim but feel that she has had more soreness this year after conditioning days ands doesn't seem to enjoy her job the way she used to. I'd love to find her a lower level home where she can be happy. She could give a confident rider some great experience.
I also bought a new horse, Marco, who is a 5yo TB gelding. He has competed Beginner Novice but has a history of a naughty streak. Fortunately, I haven't seen this side of him yet and have enjoyed working with him this fall and getting to know him. He will head to Florida in January with me and will hopefully answer some questions as to what our future together holds. I'm quite excited about him - it's been such a long time since I've had a promising youngster!
Unfortunately, the lowest part of my year was having to say goodbye to Podge. In 2013, he was diagnosed with a very serious case of EPM. He was very unstable and I tried a couple of different treatments with no success. I had always said that he'd have a home with me as long as he seemed happy and comfortable but, on a daily basis, I would look at him and wonder what kind of future he'd have. He was becoming increasingly unstable and I saw him struggle to get up a couple of times. His good days were becoming less frequent and, while he'd still run and play with Tess (my 2yo filly who he was turned out with 24/7), I worried about him getting through the winter safely. I'd never been through the process of making the decision for an animal and, while I don't doubt my decision, it was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. Podge was a part of our family - the first horse Claire learned to ride and lead. It was painful to watch my horse deteriorate like he did and I don't wish for anyone to go through that.