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  • Writer's pictureLaura

Reflections on 2018

Updated: Feb 18, 2021

2018 is drawing to a close and what a year it has been!

Dressage Horse, Laura Goodenkauf Dressage, Los Angeles, CA
Stella competing at First Level at one of Pacific Dressage's schooling shows at Hacienda Del Valle in Lake View Terrace

At the beginning of the year, I penciled out some goals or ideas of things I wanted to work towards in 2018. I like to use the term "goals" loosely. I much prefer referring to them as ideas. To quote a fantastic, fun Kevin Smith film, "Dogma"... "it's easier to change an idea..." I think it's really important to have goals to works towards... but I think it's equally important that those goals be flexible.

Why do I believe goals need to be flexible? Most self-help, self-development, and self-improvement books and speakers advocate for fixed goals, for quantifiable goals, so you can easily measure your success or failure. Sounds pretty straight forward, pretty black and white, right?

My problem with that idea of structuring goals in that fashion is that life is not so straightforward. Life is not black and white. And life with horses is certainly anything but! How can you determine your success or failure as a rider, horseman/woman, athlete, whatever, when you're lucky if even half of the circumstances in a given year are under your control? I don't think it's fair to assess our horses or ourselves in that way. This is why I love having ideas... strong, well-planned, thought-out ideas!

My ideas for 2018 looked like this... I outlined each important (or fun) area of my life I wanted to improve or achieve something in. It was a big list and I got a lot of it done. Somethings didn't happen... some were because of circumstances that were outside of my control some were because I consciously made a different choice. My idea of success changed and I made a decision to go in another direction.

So what all did we get done in 2018??? So many activities!!! (Another fun movie... if you haven't seen Step Brothers, it's ok, I still love and respect you... but seriously, fun movie!)

Team LGD had a fantastic year!!!

2018 was my first full year at Monte Verde Ranch in Lake View Terrace, CA. I could not have asked for a better place to call home. The stalls are huge, the arenas are beautiful, and most importantly, the people behind the scenes are amazing. Managers Nicole and Aaron are so kind and always on top of their game and have an incredibly knowledgeable crew working for them.

Laura Goodenkauf Dressage, Dressage horse, Monte Verde Ranch, Los Angeles, CA
Karin and Spirit riding on a beautiful morning at Monte Verde Ranch.

My horses and students had very successful show seasons!

That's not to say the year wasn't without it's challenges...

Looking back at my ideas for the year, I was originally aiming Stella for the USDF/CDS Championships. We didn't get there this time. Early on in the show season, Stella made it clear to me that pushing for Championships would be exactly that--a HUGE push. In the big scheme of a horse's career, pushing my talented 5 year old for one show (even a "big" one) just didn't seem worth it. Instead, we backed off, hit up a million schooling shows (or five, but who's counting!) to give her a ton of experience. The decision paid off. She finished the year showing First Level at rated shows scoring just barely under 70%.

Dressage Horse, Mission Pacific, Los Angeles, California
Stella scoring a 69.6% at her first rated show at First Level.

Wendell did hit every idea and then some this year. We "leveled up" to the Prix St. Georges and not only held our own, we were actually pretty darn competitive! Super exciting!

AND we earned the final scores for my USDF Silver Medal!!! To say I'm super excited about this is still a HUGE understatement. It's been a very long road working toward this and to see the final result on paper from the USDF is beyond thrilling.

Laura Goodenkauf Dressage, USDF Silver Medal, Los Angeles, CA

Team LGD Riders kicked ass this year!

This, to me, is even more important that my own riding successes. It doesn't matter what I do if I can't also help others be successful.

And Team LGD made success look routine!

While many things on my 2018 list didn't happen (horses and otherwise), many of them did. And for every item on my list that didn't get checked off, at least three other things did happen that were even more amazing that whatever "goal" I wrote down in December of last year.

This is exactly the reason why goals need to be flexible. If you work so relentlessly to stick to obtaining a certain, specific goal within a very specific time frame, you never know what other awesome stuff you may miss out on! Sometimes relaxing just a little bit and going with the flow will allow you to still achieve amazing accomplishments and also experience the stuff that's way better than anything you could have planned!

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