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December 31, 2011

Auld Lang Syne

Photo by Sara Lieser.

"Auld Lang Syne" is Scots, translating loosely to "days gone by." I don't know how one says "good riddance" in Scots, so auld lang syne will have to do. 

In the last year—really, the last 18 months—I've faced some challenges, personally, professionally, on and off the horse. But no more. I'm determined to make 2012 the best year of my life, and even better, even if I fall short of every goal I set, I'm way better equipped to deal with that possibility.

All that said, I've got some big dreams for 2012. And when Jenny Susser, sports psychologist extraordinaire, was at my place for a clinic a few weeks back, she said that people who write down their goals are vastly more likely to accomplish them. She suggested we use pencil; I'm a child of the modern era, so bytes are my medium.

- In 2012, I will make Ella a solid Grand Prix horse. The biggest lesson I took away from my experiences with her over the last year has been that there's a big difference between doing the Grand Prix work at home and putting it all together, with proficiency, in the show ring. She's a tremendously talented horse and a kind that is NOT easy for me, and I'm so grateful for Michael laying down the law and saying "stop showing until it's easy!" So I want it to be easy for her. These things take time. Maybe she'd be there already if I'd known a few years ago what I know now, but them's the breaks.

I want to be able to just sit there and piaffe and passage and little zippy canter around like it's no big thing, each and every day. When I can do that, I'll go down centerline and not one minute sooner. If that's in time for CDIs for the Selection Trials, so be it. If that's not, then it's not. The 2012 Olympic Selection Trials is not my last shot.

- Midge is going to show towards the Developing Grand Prix Championships. Midge makes more sense to me—he's the same type as Billy and, a little bit, Cleo, the two horses I've had the most lessons on in my life—as well as having benefited from all that Ella's taught me about making Grand Prix horses, so in some ways he's farther along. He is almost home on that test, with everything there reliably but the ones, and they're absolutely within reach by February. It's been two years since I set foot in a national championship arena, and I want it again.

- I'd really like Fender to try for the 6-Year-Old Championships. This goal I'm least confident in, not because I have any doubts about my or his ability to produce that work, but like Ella, I want it to be RIGHT. And I just don't have the miles in young horses classes to know when it's Good Enough and when it's Not Good Enough yet. I think Ella and Midge, who were both reasonably competent Grand Prix horses at age 9, have proven that you don't need to do the young horse classes to be good, so there's no gun to my head on making this goal happen, but I've never done the 6-year-old stuff, and I'd like to see what it's all about.

- In 2012, I will get my #@$&! together as far as my fitness. This injury to my foot has showed me how important it is that I have exercise off the horse in my life, and I'm starting 2012 with a bang—working out with a personal trainer twice a week. The way my quads are still killing me three days after my first session with Damien suggests that this will not be such a fun goal to accomplish, but it's important. Bring it on. I also want my house in order when it comes to food. I'm not 16 anymore; time to start eating like an adult and like an athlete.

- Last but not least, in 2012, I'm making some me time. I'm going to schedule in one night a week where I have dinner with friends, or even just lay on the couch. I think it will be Fridays. I could have been a much better friend this year, and those closest to me were incredibly generous in not hating me for it. It's time I paid that forward.

So there it is. There will be some slips, some ups and downs, but come Dec. 31, 2013, I'll have some great days gone by to toast to.