Christmas Wish List

(This was originally published in Country Routes in December 2010. For those who have been following our shenanigans for the past year, you know how it all worked out...)

At this time of year a wish list usually covers the things you’d like to find under the tree on Christmas morning. But I’m a horse addict with a bad case of barn brain: for me, a wish list lays out what I would like to accomplish with my horses over the next year.
The fun part about tackling this project at this time of the year is that anything is still possible. The Leafs could win the Stanley Cup – it’s still far enough away that it can’t be ruled out for certain. Hopefully my goals will be a little easier to achieve than those scored with a puck.
Now is not the time for reality to get in the way though. I still want to believe in Santa Claus and I need to have a plan in case he gets stuck in the chimney trying to bring in my new saddle. 
So what’s my wish list going to include? This isn’t like a New Years’ resolution, which is meant to be broken. Typically most go for the lose weight or get fit route but most of them revolve around making or breaking a habit. Try telling my horse she shouldn’t put her foot in the feed tub every night and it’s easy to see we’re not the only species who has difficulty with habits even if they are obviously counter-productive. My resolution every year is to be nicer to my better half.
No, this is more of a goal-setting process. Here it goes: I’m going to show my new horse, Holly, which is short for her nickname, “Miss Hollywood” and any reference to the season is entirely coincidental. 
The goal looks easy; the devil is in the details. 
This is the point where I like to use a process of positive visualization. That’s a snapshot in my head where I see myself achieving my goal. We’re in the ring and we’ve had a great ride and as the announcer works their way from sixth place to first, I hold my breath and he calls my horse’s name: “In first place, Hot Lady of D Nite”. That’s when my face turns as red as the ribbon - her registered name is a little embarrassing but I didn’t name her, honest! In my head the crowd goes wild as I pull out a piece of paper listing all the people I’d like to thank, just like at the Oscars. 
Okay, maybe just the better half claps. It’s December: it’s my dream and we can do anything, remember? I’d really be content just to not be too embarrassed by our performance, like taking a kid to the grocery store and not having them have a meltdown at the check out counter. 
Back to the plan. 
Assuming my goal is somewhat realistic, it also has to be measurable. I hereby declare that I will compete in at least four shows next summer with an improved performance at each one. 
I don’t know how competitive we will be, since there are a lot of variables involved over which I have no control. Who will show up as our competition? Will we both stay healthy and sound? Who knows, but we’ll deal with that as it comes. 
What we can do is lay out a plan to get us there, starting with setting up a place to work her through the winter and securing a good coach. And this is where the Christmas timing could come in handy: I can ask Santa for a show outfit or whatever equipment we need. 
She’ll need to load in a trailer and hang out there in between classes, and she’ll need to get used to the shenanigans at a show ground, everything from dogs and baby strollers to a crowded warm up ring.
We’ll need a team of supporters as well. There’s our goal team, which is a loosely knit group of committed friends who will remind me of my goal on those days when it just doesn’t look like we’re going to make it. The better half enjoys being our driver, groom and show photographer. He’s like a thick-skinned show dad, calming our nerves while trying not to put the safety pin that holds the number through more than my shirt. 
Our first show will be on the May long weekend so we’ve got about five months to make this happen. That first show will set the benchmark for the rest of the show season as we try to improve on our debut performance. 
Can we get there? You bet! Will the Leafs be playing hockey or golfing by then? That’s something over which I have no control. 
But isn’t Christmas a great time for thinking that all of our dreams can really come true? 
(798 words)
©2010 Karen Dallimore. All rights reserved.

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