How's the "no goals year" going?

With the decision of not riding shows this season, my yearly goal making process somewhat seemed unnecessary - that is why there was no goal setting post this year (the first year for ages!). It is May already and show season has already begun and seeing them sometimes feels weird. I check the start and result lists online, I even travel to shows to cheer for my barn mates. On the weekend, I looked at my trailer that is still parked at my parents' and decided that it needs some polishing. So, how is the "no goals year" going?

Going for a walk after some jumping and lunging

In October last year, I totally changed our training routine and approach. I started to ride him with much more patient, lower tempo, letting him really work properly. We started the tempis, we even started work on the canter pirouettes this year. Even though we have no bigger plan, it seems like there is progress. Trot has improved tremendously, our lateral work is incomparable to last year's. Canter will always be our weak spot but he can now even do single two tempis once he is in a good mood. Of course, one might say that I just think that we have improved but it is indeed obvious also to other people. One of our barn mates asked me what I was going to show this year and I told her that we are on a break. And she literally said that it was a pity because he was doing so well (she is a Grand Prix rider, I guess she has a good idea of what good looks like). Also my trainer said something similar, even though we only had two lessons since October last year. But the most impressive was when another barn mate rode Hafl last week. I have seen at least some people riding him and he never ever looked really good. They always seemed to struggle with him. Totally different this time: he was soft and supple and she even rode a flying change with him. I was more than proud.

It is true that I miss the shows. I miss the thrilling feeling of having to wait for the marks, the stupid questions afterwards when you do not agree with their opinion, the update on your status quo, the comparison to others. I am pretty sure that our marks would be better than last year's (which should not at all be a problem) but now I am in the state of looking for perfection. I recorded a test ride before the last show in our region and I was okay with it but it did not feel like we were showing our best. So I decided not to go. Nonetheless, I now know what I am looking for and promised myself that whenever I see it during riding a test at home, that I would head for a show.

He still needs tons of strength and expression but I am sure that we are on the right track. He feels more confident in the movements, you can even see me relax from time to time in the saddle and not struggle to survive. Will there be a day when we go back to showing? For sure, but it might not be this year. And I am actually fine with it. It gives you more time to concentrate on perfecting the movements, not covering up such that it works for the show. It gives you more time to reflect, to think about the good rides and the bad ones. I think I also improved over the last few months. We decided that we would take Hafl and his bestie to a showground as his bestie is still green and we want to see how he loads and behaves in a show surrounding. This will be in only three weeks and I really look forward to it. Curious if we can perform outside the comfort zone of home. Yet another step towards our comeback. Sometimes no goals seems to be the better choice.

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