Well it's been a very busy month, and I have only just been able to complete as many of my challenges as possible for January, so how did I get on?
1. Finish reading 'Perfect Manners' by Kelly Marks: I have been so impressed with this book. We have an organisation in the UK called The British Horse Society, which is responsible for courses and exams you can take. Although I think they do fairly well on the riding front, they don't teach you any of the stuff this book covers, which is actually vital for your relationship with your horse. I wish I'd found this book years ago. It's got some very simple exercises in it that I'm using to transform Barnaby from being a bolshie so-and-so into a well mannered horse who is becoming a pleasure to be with. Sometimes, by the time I've fought to get him in, groom him and tack him up I'm too exhausted to ride! Using these methods has meant I can go for a ride and make it the pleasure it's supposed to be. I can't recommend it enough.
2. Do at least four chapters of the Bible Study on marriage: I've done two chapters. It's a fascinating book called Secrets - Transforming Your Life and Marriage by Kerry Clarensau. I guess anything that enhances your marriage is worth taking a look at. This book is really challenging me though. It even dares to suggest that I may be slightly selfish and self-centered. Who, me? How can that be? I'm lovely - everybody knows that! It talks about unconditional love, something we apply easily to our children, but don't necessarily apply to our husbands. It's a proper study, with sections for you to fill in, and I'm really enjoying it. Kerry Clarensau is American, and I love the way American's approach their relationship with God, much bolder than the average Brit, so refreshing. A very interesting book, I recommend this, too.
3. Make some Valentine cards, including one for Mr O: Well, I have definitely made some Valentine cards, look:
and I did, in fact, make a card for Mr O and said, "Let's do cards this year." Then I thought about it and reverted to what we really think, which is that we don't need one day a year to say 'I love you,' and that our anniversary is much more important to us than Valentine's Day, so we'll stick to celebrating that. Also, I took the card to the shop to sell...
4. Practise for dressage competition on Jan 30th: Well, that hasn't worked out, has it?! Thankyou to Jean and Cheyenne, I took both your comments on board. I do totally agree that dressage is good for a horse and promotes his health and well-being. I'm not talking about piaffe and passage here, just some basic movements would be nice, but for whatever reason, Barnaby seems very incapable and I have withdrawn from the competition. I'd still like to do some showing though, so the door isn't closed on this chapter just yet.
5. Do at least 1 map reading walk: I only completed this yesterday. It was going to be so simple, a 20 minute walk with 'Er Indoors on the footpath round the back of the riding school, past the old quarry and come out next to Lucy Goosie's house. So we set off in fine style down the road, onto the footpath and up round the quarry. We came out into a field surrounded by dry stone walls and I couldn't see a way out. I walked round and round (Tessa was thrilled at first, then gradually lost faith in me, 'Daddy doesn't do it like this!' written all over her face.) In the end I had to retrace my steps and follow a completey different path and came out through a gate onto the road. A farmer passed me and I thought, 'Now I'm in trouble,' but he just smiled and waved, so I carried on. I came out further up the lane, a field away from Lucy Goosie's house. So frustrating (yes I did have a map with me!) Tessa's paws were hot by then.
Next week I'm going to do it the other way round and try to work out where I went wrong. I was exhausted by the time I got back, having turned a 20 minute stroll into an hour's ordeal. This bodes well for TREC competitions, doesn't it? That will consist of me getting completely lost on a horse, what fun.
6. Make a birthday card for Seven: I did, and here it is:
Perfect for a boy of 8 I think. I love doing easel cards, and I was thrilled to find papers that went so well together (for free!) He really liked it, anyway.
So all in all, not too bad for my month's efforts. I wonder what February will bring? I was going to change it from challenges to 'Things to look forward to in February...' but I think I rather like stretching myself in this way.
Well I'm off to ride the boy in freezing cold temperatures, but gorgeous sunshine.
Have a great weekend, everyone.