2017 in Review

Happy New Year Followers!

Yes I know, I’m a bit late, but we’ve had visitors today (well, my parents to utilise their carpet laying skills in the nursery) so you can read my review of 2017 and my plans for 2018.

At the beginning of 2017 I was still hoping for Otis’s recovery, and planning my Intermediate Teaching Test in the interim. Work and daily life were pretty stable and predictable. We had some DIY plans in the pipeline for the house, having just decorated the hallway and landing.

I guess the first big event of 2017 was the BRC Dressage Championships in April. Matt went back to Mum in January, and when my entry was sent off in February I was in half a mind as to whether I bothered going or not. It seemed like a lot of effort to move him back to Reading for three weeks in March and then travel two hours to the Champs. But I’m very glad I did. It was morale building, given that Otis was still not very right, and gave me a focus. As well as making my Mum very proud, watching us ride our dressage test, winning our class and doing the lap of honour. And then finding out later that day that we were the overall winners! Unfortunately I need to organise getting the silver plate engraved and returning it in the next few weeks.

Next up, I think, it was some DIY. Well, new windows for the front of the house – the old windows were over thirty years old! – and rebuilding the front garden wall. Then a bit later in the year we painted the garage door and redecorated the living room. Now we just need to save up to redo the kitchen and dining room, which is going to be a big job if we knock through … I think this will be an early 2019 project though.

In June I successfully took my ITT exam, which was a big tick off my list and hopefully will stand me in good stead for more riding club and pony club work. I’ve looked at the next BHS exams, but as they’ve recently changed the system and renamed the levels of instructor, I think I’m better off leaving the exam until it’s all settled down and the syllabus is clear, and there have been a few guinea pigs to iron out the creases. On this note I should now be identifying myself as a BHS Stage 4 Senior Coach instead of an II. However, this new name means very little to the majority of horse owners at the moment so I’ll keep going with the II label for a bit longer.

From here, 2017 took a bit of a turn and we started our rollercoaster. Firstly, there was the life changing news that we are expecting a baby. Crazy I know. We are adult and responsible enough to be in charge of another life. Look after them, keep them safe, and teach them the way of the world and most importantly, to be a nice person.

Since that news broke we’ve obviously had to change our plans for the future and make changes, like changing my daily workload, baby proofing the house, and buying the multitude of things that a baby needs. Obviously a goal for 2018, or several goals, is to pull off this baby-raising thing.

Then of course, was the fact that Otis is very unlikely to come sound, which is gutting to me. One of my favourite films of all time is the Sound of Music and one of the lines in it is “when the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window”. You don’t need to be religious to realise that the meaning of this saying to understand that even when things seem like they’ve all gone wrong, something good usually comes from it in the most surprising way. For me, it was buying Phoenix last month. I hadn’t quite realised how down I was not having my own horse to ride and, we’ll just be me with. Yeah sure, having more free time on the weekends has been useful with baby preparations, but I was definitely in a bit of a hole. So yes, I wasn’t ready to stop my journey with Otis, but now I’ve got something to look forward to, a friend to plan adventures with, and also to get my own downtime.

I’ve got plans for Phoenix. With the baby on it’s way I don’t want serious time frames in my plans, but I’m aiming to be riding again in April and over the summer would like to start doing dressage comps – mainly prelim to begin with but we will see how she takes to it and the important thing is that shows are a positive experience for her. Then I want to take her to some jumping clinics and give her experience in that area. The extent to what we do will of course be dependent on all the other factors in life, but those are my general aims. I think that is enough of a resolution in the equine department for this year.

The downs of 2017 have been Matt fracturing his stifle and having months of box rest and rehab, but hopefully he can restart his working life.

Then was the sudden loss of our lovely Willow cat, who we still miss hugely, but the window that opened for us was adopting Grizabella, who is a totally different character and it’s lovely seeing her playing with Penny. We will always remember Willow, and have a lovely portrait of her to remind us.

There’s no resolution to be taken from the low points of 2017, except not to take everything for granted, and to appreciate every second spent with family; four legged or two, furry coated or smooth skinned.

In a nutshell, 2017 was full of surprises and whilst 2018 is going to be quiet in terms of my career, it is going to be full of it’s own changes and challenges. By the end, I can only hope to be a better person, to have laughed and to have learnt something from it all.

Here’s to a successful 2018, and to finish this post let me give you an insight into the result of our DIY weekend.

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