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Miles Walking

2014 Goals

I’m finishing up my Year in Review Mini Series by looking toward the future. Last year I got to the party late, but I really enjoyed creating goals for myself and working towards them all year. I learned a lot about myself and about how to set myself up for success through the process of quarterly reviews.

With that said, I picked my 2014 goals very precisely. Many of them go hand in hand, so I think they set me up to be successful, once I begin to accomplish them. I’ve also expanded into some additional categories, so we’ll see how that goes. So, without further ado, here are my 2014 Goals:

Tracy’s Riding Goals

  • Increase flexibility (hamstrings, right ankle)
  • Increase Leg Strength
  • Improve Flat Position, with a straight line from shoulders to hips to heels
  • Improve Jumping Position, with more break over at the hips
  • Consistently jump 2’6” in lessons
  • Show 2’6”

As you can see, each goal really lends itself to helping me accomplish the next. I also kept my goals less about showing, as I know with the wedding, my show season will be spotty at best, and more about personal improvement.

Miles Sept 2013

Miles’ Goals

  • Improve lengthening and shortening within all 3 gaits
  • Improve balance, especially through tighter turns
  • Increase stamina/power to the left
  • Gain more muscling in neck and topline

I don’t really have that many goals for Miles — he’s a pretty finished horse. But I would like to improve a few things (at least marginally). Most of these goals will be accomplished through general conditioning, so it’s nothing Earth shattering… I guess I’m better at making goals for myself than my horse, haha.

Personal Goals

  • Stick to a workout plan
  • Learn portion control
  • Increase core strength
  • Lose 25 pounds
  • Create a more inclusive budget
Again, I organized my personal goals so that accomplishing one lends itself to accomplishing another. Maybe a more lock-step program will help me cross a few more things off the list. Most of these are fitness related; hopefully less distractions will force me to focus on the issue and make positive changes in my life.
More on the last goal in another post, but the jist is my budget is an ever-evolving creature, and I’m slightly obsessed with knowing where every penny is.
bucket list

Bucket List

  • Win a blue ribbon with Miles
  • Win a division champion with Miles
  • Show in a 2’6″ Equitation Over Fences class
  • Show in a Hunter Derby/Special Class
  • Go to an A-Rated show
  • Go to an overnight (for me) show
  • Ride on the beach
  • Trail ride with Sam
A new category for 2014! Part of the reason I like yearly goals, with quarterly reviews, is that it creates a deadline and a sense of urgency. But for some things, that urgency is a bad thing. Next year I hope to move up a division, and I don’t expect to be particularly competitive. Hell, I don’t even want to show until I’m ready to move up and that could mean showing in May or not until October. So basically, while I do have dreams (and eventual goals) of placing well and winning lots of satin, I don’t want to say that it’s a goal for next year.
Thus the bucket list! This way I have my showing dreams written down, as well as a few miscellaneous horse-related dreams.

Tack Wishlist

  • Close contact saddle
  • Stirrup leathers from Gary Mundy
  • Shaped fleece pad that fits my new saddle
  • Liquid Leather Spanish top Tall Boots
  • Helmet with removable, machine wash liner
  • Tailored Sportsman Breeches
  • New hunt coat
My final new category for this year! I must admit, that the point of this category is two-fold: (1) to help me budget my tacks “wants” throughout the year and (2) as motivation to accomplish my goals. Some items on the list (like the saddle and leathers) are more immediate needs, yet I still want to include them in my budget. Putting them down will help me incorporate them into my financial planning.
Other items, like new tall boots and TS breeches are wants — I don’t need them. But if I accomplish some of my goals… such as losing weight, I will probably need them since the old ones might not fit. Plus then I can reward myself with pretty things.
So, there you have it! What are your goals for 2014? 
Miles Trot Under Saddle Sept 2013

Year in Review: Q4 Goals

In case you missed it….

Year in Review: Month by Month
Year in Review: Statistics


The next step in my Year in Review mini series is my final review of goals. I created 2013 goals when I first (re)started Fly On Over in April, so I missed out on doing a Q1 Review, but you can read my Q2 Review, as well as my Q3 Review.

Riding and Showing Goals

  • Attend 5 – 6 shows June-October
    I attended a total of 8 shows this year, exceeding my goal! I’m really proud of myself for sticking it out, even though I wasn’t winning ribbons and Vinnie was rather difficult at times. I attended three schooling shows, two Delaware Showtime, Two Equivents and one New Vocations charity show.
  • Attend a show in October
    This is probably the goal I am most excited about accomplishing! After changing jobs, I wanted to be able to finish out the show season, something I hadn’t been able to do before. In the end, not only was I able to show in October, I was able to show Miles for the very first time.
  • Improve at each show
    I officially crossed this goal off the list in my Q3 Review because I didn’t want any pressure at my first show with Miles. But I should have known better — I rode my very best rounds of the year at October Equivents, and my placings proved that I was a serious contender. So I’m concluding this goal with a big fat HELL YEAH!
  • Win a chair 
    This definitely didn’t happen, especially since I didn’t win a blue ribbon all year. But you know what they say: if your dreams are easy, they aren’t big enough. So I’m definitely going to keep some version of this goal intact for 2014.
  • Show Diamond
    Unfortunately, this goal also didn’t happen and it probably won’t ever get accomplished. I love Diamond, she’s a phenomenal horse, but she’s just too much for me. Too much jump, too much energy.
  • Lesson Diamond at 2’6″
    Well, I’m going to cross this goal half off. I have started jumping 2’6″ in lessons, but obviously not on Diamond. And I’m totally fine with that. Plus, the point was that I wanted to move up and jump bigger jumps, and I’m totally starting to do that.
  • Improve my foundation, with equal weight in my legs at all times
    Okay, so the “at all times” might not be quite there, but my foundation is greatly improved. I am holding my position over fences much better, and my right leg is more secure. I still have improvements to be made in this area, so while I’m crossing it off as accomplished, look for similar goal in 2014.
  • Consistently keep my core tight
    My core is much stronger, and my recovery after fences is proof of this. The spirit of this goal was improvement, so I’m crossing it off as well. Of course, it’s still not quite as good as I would like it, so again, more fitness goals will be resurging next year!

Miles Trot Under Saddle Sept 2013

Personal Goals

  • Stay on budget
    It’s not quite the end of the year yet, so final budget numbers are still a bit murky. I did, however, stay 110% on track with lessons, showing and horse purchase in terms of budget. Buying things for said new horse might have been a bit over what I anticipated, but I’ve yet to buy something I didn’t need, so I guess that’s something. Overall, a success and I’m looking forward to incorporating some new budget ideas for next year.
  • Lose 10 lbs
    Big fat fail. So very disappointed in myself over this, but I never committed to losing weight and I never made it a priority. Bad, bad Tracy!
  • Visit Atlanta
    Also didn’t happen. This trip might be one of those things that I just have to do, because I don’t think it’s ever going to feel like the right time. Things to mull over, I suppose.
  • Work on my communication via email
    I’ve seen improvement in the way I express myself through email; I’m more concise and professional. Partly because I send emails to professional people who aren’t crazy. But whatever, it still counts as personal improvement in my book!
  • Find a diet that works for me
    Well… I didn’t really find a diet, but I have found foods that I enjoy that are healthier, such as Greek yogurt and popcorn. I just need to work on my portion control, and eating more vegetables. So… semi-success?
  • Create and stick to a workout planFail. Epic fail. I worked out for a while but then I got lazy. I have some ideas of things that might work well, (like at-home DVDs and walking) but I didn’t stick to anything long enough to create a new habit.
  • Finish Visa’s corner
    Finally another personal goal I achieved! Visa’s corner is finished, it looks awesome and I love it. It might be hidden by Christmas presents right now, but it’s so nice to have a wonderful space at home for him. He deserves it.
Stay tuned for the next installment of Fly On Over’s Year in Review mini series, where we begin to look to the future!
workstation

Year in Review: Statistics

In case you missed it…

Year in Review: Month by Month


I’ve been actively blogging now for nine months, which seems like an eternity to me, but in the grand scheme of things makes Fly On Over still a baby blog. FOO has matured a lot since its inception, and while I try to have a narrow focus to things equine-related, I have branched out occasionally. I’ve started to plan and schedule my blog posts more recently and the consistency is certainly paying off.

Total Pageviews This Year: 10,766

Worst month: April (391)
Best month: November (2,133)
As soon as I started posting more consistently, my pageviews increased dramatically. My most active month (see below) was also the month I had the most pageviews. 

Total Posts This Year: 111 (and counting!)

Avg. Posts per Month: 12.33
Most Active Month: November (19)
Least Active Month: August (7)
I’m happy to have reached my 100th post milestone and that my averages increased throughout the year. But I’d really like to step up both my consistency and overall average in 2014. 
mouse bar chart

Total Comments This Year: 995

Most Commented Post: [TIE!] Engaged and Save the Date Debate(28)
Least Commented Post: A Fun Contest Entry (1)
Funny how the most commented posts are wedding related and not horse related at all! Not sure that this is a great indicator of what my readership would like to see though… since they are all exclusively equine bloggers. 

Most Popular Posts

#1) Blogger Gift Exchange (195 Pageviews; 22 Comments)
#2) 5 Day Challenge #1 (116 Pageviews; 11 Comments)
#3) 5 Day Challenge #2 (84 Pageviews; 9 Comments)
#4) Meet Miles (74 Pageviews; 23 Comments)
#5) 5 Day Challenge #4 (74 Pageviews; 9 Comments)

My Favorite Posts

#1) [TIE!] Meet Miles and Engaged
It’s been a big year for me, and my favorites really reflect that. I’ve gone through a lot, but I’m finally on an upswing and I plan to ride my high all the way through 2014… which will (hopefully!) be another year of milestones (no pun intended) and huge accomplishments. 
workstation
Overall, with my background in marketing, it’s hard not to judge my blog’s success by the statistics. But no matter what they show, I know I’m learning a lot and this adventure into the blogosphere has been a fun one so far.
Miles

Year in Review: Month by Month

It’s that time of the year when we all look back and wonder where the hell the year went. Or maybe, how the heck it’s still only 2013. Either way, I’m in a reflective mood so I thought I’d do a short little “year in review” mini series. Enjoy!

April

In April, I decided to make a second attempt at starting Fly On Over. After riding my trainer’s chestnut Thoroughbred mare Diamond all winter in the hopes of showing her at 2’6″, we made the decision that I would instead show Vinnie in the 2′ Limit division. I finally wrote the post that Visa deserved and took the entire day to celebrate his life the only way I knew how: by riding. To this day his passing remains… difficult at best. A fact that I know many of you know from first-hand experience, especially this year when we’ve lost way too many. I also rode in the first horse show of the season! A nice, relaxed show at the barn where I got to ride both Diamond and Vinnie. It was a lot of fun to show both horses, and as an added bonus I showed (and lived through!) my very first jumper class ever. I had a brief moment where I considered adopting a horse, but I decided against it. And thank goodness, because as we all know now, I ended up with something much, much better!

Diamond Girl

May

As the first horse show approached, I began to struggle with Vinnie. He started to be very strong over fences, and I started to get frustrated. During our first show I couldn’t successfully school Vinnie on my own and I began to lose some confidence. The show itself was okay, but I left not sure whether it was a net positive experience or not.

June

In June we went to a new horse show venue and I loved it! Vinnie was a horror for schooling on Friday and I honestly contemplated getting off and quitting… but I stuck it out and was better for it. Even though it was the first horse show I ever attended where I didn’t get a single ribbon, it was my birthday weekend and my fiance surprised me by getting his family and my parents all to the horse show to celebrate, complete with presents and cake! Best horse show ever, for just that reason alone. Also, as a funny aside, this show was the first time I ever saw Miles.

The next weekend we loaded up and went to another horse show, and the normal, calm Vinnie finally made a resurgence! I placed fairly well in a large, competitive division on a horse with no lead change. I was proud of myself for sticking through the tough times, and happy to finally be a little bit competitive. After all, that’s why I horse show in the first place!

Vinnie German Riding Pony

July

I went to the most epic horse show ever, in which I waited all damn day to show in Equitation, had a refusal on my second course and then it poured down rain overnight so I scratched all my Sunday hunter classes. But I got to watch my trainer show in-hand, so it was sort of worth it.

August

I also ramped up my search for a horse of my own, and took a horse on trial for the first time. He was gorgeous, talented and I fell in love instantly… I just couldn’t jump him to save my life. So back he went, and I contemplated slitting my wrists. I was a little depressed about Trial Horse, and my blogging suffered. I posted one post the entire month about actually riding. I skipped horse shows because I felt like I had accomplished all I could with Vinnie. Henceforth we will call August 2013 “the lost month.”

September

September was the best month of my life. I got engaged on Sept. 7 and bought Miles on Sept. 12. What is there to say? I am blessed, and so, so lucky to have both an amazing fiance and a fabulous horse in my life. Words cannot explain how grateful I am every single day to be living this life!

engagement ring

October

In October I reveled in my new job, which didn’t include working 7 days a week! I went out to the barn constantly and took Miles to our first horse show together (Schooling, Day 1 and Day 2)! In case you missed it, he was a fucking rockstar and worth every single penny I spent on him… and then some. We placed in every class, including the hack, and even though it was bitter cold and gross out, I loved every minute. Oh yeah, I was also knee deep in wedding planning, and everyone loved the picture of these shoes I posted.

November

Winter started to creep in, but I was still riding all the time… including some no stirrup work for the first time in… well… a long time. I also jumped 2’6″ for the first time on Miles and true to form he was fan-freaking-tastic. In bloggerland, I posted a set of original questions dubbed The 5 Day Challenge (1, 2, 3, 4 & 5) and it caught on like wildfire. I patted myself on the back for that one. I also did my first contest, of sorts, with the Gift Exchange which seems to have gone over swimmingly. Thanks to everyone who joined in!!

December

Snow, freezing rain and dropping temperatures had arrived in full force and I lost some motivation to get to the barn as frequently. Plus I was in full-on wedding planning mode, which included designing Save the Dates and our Engagement Photoshoot. I’ve also embarked upon the sacred quest of finding a new saddle, which I’m sure will continue on into next year.

You Get Questions Today

Today you get questions (shamelessly stolen from Viva Carlos) because my only other option consisted of a post in which you watched my head spin off. Which, on second thought, might have been more entertaining. Oh well, too bad.

1. If your horse could talk what would they say? What would they be like?

Miles would definitely be a grumpy guy… probably one who sits in an armchair and watches football and yells “I’m outta beer and chips!” really loudly. Okay, so he probably wouldn’t be like that all the time, because he does like to go out and do fun things too, but he would definitely have bad/lazy days too.

2. If you were a horse, what would you look like (color, markings, etc), what discipline would you do, and what would you be like to ride?

I’d like to be a fancy, pretty warmblood jumper… but in reality I’d probably be a fat, lazy quarter horse. You know, one of those old school-horse types who is always a little bit grouchy, very food motivated, and doesn’t really want to do anything, except sleep and eat grass. But I’d probably be nice enough, and certainly quiet enough, to do 2′ – 2’6″ hunters on at local shows.

3. How many barns have you ridden at?

I guess technically 4 barns and 4 trainers. The first barn I rode at was in Amish country and the trainer really stopped giving me lessons after a few years… I just paid to ride the horse around. Then I got Visa and moved in with a more legit trainer and a program.

During college I briefly rode for the IHSA team, so I guess technically I count that as a barn/trainer too. But It wasn’t all that often (only once a week during the season) and only for a year or two. And now the barn that Miles and I are currently at!

4. What kind of bay do you prefer? (bright bay, blood bay, etc.)

I like dark bays, but with lots of chrome. Come to think of it, I like any color (bay, black, chestnut) as long as there is chrome!

Like this one… who is currently for sale.

5. Can you braid a horses mane? Tail?

No. For a while, I really wanted to learn but more and more I don’t see the point. I don’t go anywhere that I’d need to braid for, and if I did, it would be so much easier just to pay to have it done. I’m old and lazy, what can I say?

6. Do you believe that you have to fall off in order to be a good rider?

I think that all riders fall. I don’t think it makes you better or worse, it’s just a fact of the sport. It’s kind of like asking a football player if getting tackled makes them better or worse.

7. What do you think is more important: eq or effective riding?

Well, I do think form follows function, but I also believe that some people just look better on a horse… typically tall skinny ones. That’s not to say that a larger person can’t have good equitation, though. I personally strive to be effective, but that’s because my goals and dreams are in the hunter ring, not the equitation ring.

8. Are there any “horse couples” at your barn?

Well, my fiance comes out to the barn with me quite often, although he doesn’t ride. There is a married couple at the barn who both ride. It’s pretty cool, I think.

9. Favorite treat to feed your horse?

Anything? I usually stick to carrots and Stud Muffins, but that’s just convenience. He also likes Oatmeal Cream Pies from Little Debbie.

10. Silly quirks your horse has.

Hmm… Miles can literally fall asleep during a lesson when we’re standing in the middle. His shoulder starts to twitch and I have to nudge him to wake him up!

11. Strangest thing you’ve fed your horse.

Miles hasn’t gotten lots of weird treats yet. I fed Visa everything: oreos, gummy bears, chinese food, gyros… you name it, he probably ate it.

12. Have you ever made any horse friends through the internet?

I like to think I have, although I’ve never met any in person. But I’d like to!

13. Would you buy horse furniture?

I’m not really into it, to be honest. My decor style is very, very traditional and I get enough of horses at the barn. I don’t need them plastered all over my house too.

14. Funniest horsey moment

In 2012 my best friend N was showing two horses in the Hunter Derby, so of course I stayed to watch and help out. In our barn we don’t have grooms or anything — we do everything ourselves (like most normal people). So I made a joke about how nice it must have been to have a groom that night to help out and it escalated to everyone in our group (parents, friends, etc.) receiving groom names… which we still use to this day whenever someone gets bossy.

15. Post a picture of your horse (or any horse) making a silly face that you got on camera!

I apparently need to take more pictures. But I think this photo is pretty funny:

I look so happy, and Miles looks the exact opposite, haha

16. What’s a moment with horses that you wished you caught on camera?

I wish I had video of me riding Saddle Seat. But I do have plenty of photos that maybe one day I will share with you!

17. How old was the youngest horse you’ve met?

I took an equine reproduction class in college where we got a broodmare and foaled her out… so I met her baby when he was only a few days old. And that’s my experience with young horses. Miles (at age 7) is the youngest horse I’ve ever worked with, and I have no desire to work with foals or baby horses. No thank you.

The equine reproduction baby. Cute, until you had to work with him.

18. How old was the oldest horse you’ve met?

There was a horse at the first barn I rode at who was 35 — his name was Leelad, and he was an OTTB. They built the barn with the winning he made on the track.

19. Opinion on colorful tack? (like red or blue)

Depends… I don’t mind colorful polos, horse boots or bridle/breastplate for contesting. Or even colorful saddle pads for western or hunter/jumper schooling. But I don’t like colored stirrups or saddles for anything. And I definitely prefer a more traditionally turned out pair… which is probably why I’m a hunter.

20. Have you ever tried horse treats? Hay?

Nope. I’m boring.

21. Have you ever felt like giving up on a horse?

I feel like I gave up on Charlie, a Morgan cross I leased in high school. I wish I could have taken him with me and ensured he had a good home for the rest of his life, but two horses were out of the question and I had accomplished everything I could with him.

Charlie the One-Eyed Wonder Pony (that was literally his show name)

22. Tell the story about the horse that you first felt “click” immediately with you (and if you can’t remember, most recent)

Definitely Chuck! He was a chestnut quarter horse gelding (anyone sensing a theme here?) that I really bonded with. I took one lesson on him and sitting on his back just felt like coming home. I trusted him from day one, and even his “scary” antics in the barrel racing ring didn’t scare me — they just made me laugh.

23. Ever ridden side-saddle? How was it?

I haven’t… but I’m very intrigued as to how people actually stay on! It looks so hard.

24. Most interesting place you’ve ridden at

State fair, where the jumping took place right next to the midway… including the Ferris Wheel and Big Slide. Fun time.

25. What kind of horse do you like? (sport, stock, endurance, etc)

I have an appreciation for most types of horses, but my favorites are definitely hunter/jumpers… both in the USEF world and AQHA world.

26. Do you feel like you have more patience with horses than people?

Honestly it just depends on the day. In general though I have more patience with horses because I don’t expect as much out of them, and I ride ones that know their job.

27. Is the horse you ride very vocal?

Not at all. To date I’ve never heard him utter a sound.

28. Ever ridden in the sunset?

Thanks to daylight savings time, yes.

29. How do you like a horse’s mane? roached, pulled, long, etc.

I prefer my horse’s mane pulled, but I love long, flowing Reiner manes. So fucking gorgeous, there’s just no way I want to take care of it!

30. What is your dream name for a horse?

Honestly don’t have one. I like to pick names that fit the horse.