The past month has been busy, stressful, fun, and (thank goodness) sporadically sunny. In getting ready for a talk at a conference in Antwerp, I was really having to work closely with the themes that we have drawn from our study. Every once in awhile, I feel like I gain greater insights while trying to figure out a way to communicate with others than when I purposefully analyse and focus on the data. I’m sure it is a consequence of really having to understand the topic before trying to teach others, but it felt like a real breakthrough to me. The themes (and the metaphors we are using to explain them) are fairly complex and really, really, interwoven, so separating them out in a way that makes sense outside of my own head and instincts has been more difficult than I expected. That said, I feel much better about the presentation, and hopefully most of the bugs will be worked out this week during our practice meeting.
So, yeah, that’s one reason for the happy picture in this post. Another reason, of course, is the horse himself. The barn I ride at has been hosting some fun summer dressage shows. I’ve been entering them as much to force myself to focus on goals as to actually compete. Moss really deserves a rider who is always trying to improve. He’s such a talented guy, and he really enjoys working (and, of course, hacking and galloping), but it is waaaaayyy too easy to just enjoy riding around and around on such a nice horse without really focusing on improving, so hopefully these little shows will help me up my game a bit. They’ve already convinced me that I should start trying to do more complicated dressage–Moss has really gotten a lot stronger over the past few months, and he feels ready to really start working on more demanding work. My big goals, I guess, are to get us “off campus” for a few tiny (low key!) shows and to work on more collected work (the extended work, we like, but the stuff that requires us to slow down? not so much). I’ve also signed myself up for the Stage 1 exam for the BHS. Hopefully, I’ll get that, my riding and road safety, and my Stage 2 done this year and then start prepping for my Stage 3 (which I can use to get jobs teaching riding!).
I’m kicking myself a tiny bit for not starting my Stages earlier, but I feel much more confident in my riding now, and I’m sure I’ll get it all done eventually. Even if it takes what feels like an age, I’d rather be able to go into each of the exams with more confidence than nerves. I think the barn where I ride is going to apply to be an exam centre as well, which would simplify my trying to find exams nearby at least. That said, major goals for the summer are to finish up the Stage 1 and the Road/Riding Safety (at least) and feel like Moss and I have started working at a level above where we are now. (And have started hacking off campus!) For work, I’d like to have started on the articles on feedback and really sorted out where we are going to publish next. And do fun things with my husband. And naturalize. And, maybe, a few sunny days. And a few more moments where I get to smile as much as I do in that photo.