1. More time. Although I've been making tack for a long time, it's just been within the last year that I've really been able to treat my little hobby like a business. Having both kids in school full time makes a huge difference. It's so much easier to make a work schedule and stick to it when the childfree time comes at regular and predictable intervals.
2. Improved quality. Having more time to spend on tack does more than just increase output. I've spent a lot of that time reworking saddle patterns and rethinking how I put things together. Not all my experiments have been successful, but I feel confident in saying that the overall quality of my work has improved in the last twelve months. I'm much happier with the construction of my padded flaps and I think I've licked the worst of issues I've had with the shape of the seat section.
3. Recognition. Without a doubt one of the highlights of my year was being asked to donate to the 2008 NAN auction. I made an upper level dressage set that was part of a package that also included a customized Depeche resin by Jennifer Irwin (now Scott) and a doll by Jane Schneider. Unfortunately our set did not meet its reserve but I was still honored to be invited and hope to be asked again this year!
4. Showring success for my customers. I know that performance showing is about more than just the tack, but I am still so pleased to see my work out there winning in showring across the country.
5. Quality before quantity. I did not buy very many models this year. In fact, I think I may have purchased just one painted resin. I traded for a handful of others, but still there were a lot fewer new faces than in previous years. This is not a bad thing. In fact, it's just the opposite. By focusing on quality rather than quantity I was able to end up with the kind of models I've always wanted to own--like that Valor painted by Carol Williams!
6. Buying paintwork. I resisted it for years, but I'm finally ready to admit that I won't ever find the time to paint all the project horses myself. I used some of the money (and trade credits) I didn't spend on models and bought paintwork instead. I tried to choose a few up and coming artists whose work is not yet commanding the big bucks and I must say I'm very pleased with the results.
7. Thinning the herd. When I was nine years old my mother told me I had too many Breyers and she wasn't going to buy them for me anymore. I did not agree with her then, but some thirty years later I can no longer deny it. I have too many horses. I'm attached to most of the customs and resins, but there are a lot of older, common OF's still hanging around that I've started to rehome. A few went to a friend rebuilding a childhood collection, others went to a different friend's horse crazy daughter. A couple more were donated to various shows and associations. It's a bit difficult deciding which ones have to go, but once it's done, I'm mostly relieved. I need the space and I feel good about giving them to someone who will appreciate them.8. Greater hobby involvement. I entered four model horse shows in 2008. That's up from three in 2007 and two in 2006. I also donated several tack sets to various live shows both here in Colorado and elsewhere. I count many hobbyists among my closest friends, and really feel a part of the greater hobby community.
9. Free saddle raffle. I've wanted to have some kind of customer appreciation event for years and was delighted that 2008 was the year I went from thinking about it to actually doing it. I think I was as excited about the raffle results as both the winners!
10. Blog. Way back when, I used to keep a journal and write lots of long letters. Time passed and life got really busy. Somehow I forgot that I really do enjoy writing. So glad I've remembered! I may not be able to maintain near daily updates, but I do expect to keep posting to this blog for the foreseeable future.