So! Day 1.
1. Most influential person on your riding.
This is a really tough question! Can I cheat and say Tristan? No?
Probably my first serious trainer, the coach of my college equestrian team, who helped me start Tristan. She gave me my confidence back, and helped me start Tristan under saddle and over fences, and introduced me to dressage.
Nunn Finer 5 Point Hunting Breastplate (Cob). Drool. We definitely need a breastplate of some kind; this has been on my wishlist for a very long time.
I can't listen to music while riding. I've tried, believe me, but it screws me up. (I can't listen to music with words while working, either.) I won't turn the radio off at the barn while I'm riding, but I never queue up a playlist, either.
However! I do sing while I'm riding. I can remember the exact day this started: the day after Tristan's disastrous first show, when I took him back out to the warmup area he'd lost his marbles in the day before in an attempt to retrieve them. We spent a solid 45 minutes jigging and bucking and occasionally bolting and about halfway through I started to sing Cole Porter songs to remind myself to breathe, and to give him something to calm down, hopefully. It seemed to work. So now I sing Cole Porter when I am nervous, or when I think he's nervous, or when we're on a long hack and I feel like I'm alone. "Night and Day" is a favorite, followed by "Under My Skin."
(I also almost always clean tack to Astaire & Rogers movies, sensing a theme?)
Horse care: first, last, always. This is absolutely crucial to me. Do they notice if he's colicky? Do they text me if he's injured himself? Do they follow my instructions when he's recovering? Do they check in with me when I've asked them to? I tip toward the neurotic end of horsekeeping, and a barn manager that will work with me and understand that is key. My current barn fulfills all these requirements in spades, and thankfully I had seen them go the extra mile (or hundred miles) for other horses before Tristan had his surgery, so I had the utmost confidence in their hard work and professionalism.
1. Topline - that is to say, rebuilding muscle.
2. Fitness - mine and his.
3. Jumping again, to see whether his foot will hold up.