Thursday, October 12, 2017

Playing Catchup

Free lunging from the Sunday where I flew out to Seattle
Momentum is an interesting thing. It's not that I don't have information to share, in fact I almost feel like I have too much information to share, it's more that I just haven't been able to convince myself to sit down and write.

Last year I started to really struggle with my seasonal depression but this year I started taking my vitamin D way earlier so I'm actually doing well. Beyond just being tired recovering from my Seattle work trip I'm feeling great.

Last weekend I rode Saturday-Sunday and then gave her Monday off before my lesson on Tuesday. In those days I had a lesson on Sunday and a lesson on Tuesday. The Sunday lesson we worked a bit on canter and some shoulder in.

Tiny dog is a ham and I think he missed me :)
We did two exercises, one was leg yielding to center line away from the long side. Once we hit X we made a 10 meter circle in the direction of the bend and then, figure eight style, changed the bend at X and did another 10 meter circle towards the other long side. Back at X we'd leg yield back towards the original wall we'd started from.

The second was one that we've done before where we'd shoulder in along the long side, midway down the side we'd go across the diagonal, change the bend prior to hitting the wall and cue for canter. In canter we'd do a 20 meter circle at the end of the arena and then go back to trot and do it again. I LOVE this exercise and Katai does too. We did so much better this lesson than we have in the past and the SI was clearly improved.

Little blurry and tough to tell, but that's a hot tub boat on Lake Union
On Tuesday we did a bunch more canter including shallow loops to work on our counter canter going into 20 meter circles where we'd spiral in and out. Going to the left it was pretty funny because she wanted to half pass to the center rather than move straight. Not what we were asking for and we were able to correct it but talk about an over achiever!

We also worked a lot more on SI and it's feeling SO MUCH BETTER!! It's actually starting to flow a bit more and Jane mentioned that she's impressed with our quick improvement. We worked a lot on the concept of me lifting her with my seat to control the sitting trot rather than sitting down into her back to control the sitting trot. Or as Jane says, "bounce her up with your seat". There were magical moments but they didn't last long and it would take me awhile to get it back. When it worked though it really worked so I'm excited to keep working on this.

Someone had asked for a picture of my Ariat coat.
Here it is, courtesy of the AirBnB Bathroom mirror 
In other news I started the first clip of the season today. I got almost all the hair off and got the lines pretty good. Tomorrow I'll just clean everything up. Poor girl is a bit moth eaten tonight and poor Jane probably wondered what I did to her when she saw her at evening feeding. Oh well, I'll finish getting her cleaned up tomorrow. I also got her bridle path cut but I still need to "pull" her mane, do some work on her tail, and I'd like to do one more bath before it gets too cold.

In sad news, her feet are looking pretty thrushy. During most of the year I was keeping up with it but after the past month were I wasn't at the barn as much they've back slid a bit. It will be my focus for this month and hopefully I can get it cleaned up right away!

Thursday, October 5, 2017


October 1st was a big day for me and Katai since in 2012, 5 years ago on this day I brought her home :) Since I don't know what her birthday is I just use this as her birthday too so along with our anniversary it was her 8th birthday this year.

To celebrate she got a bunch of carrots and an apple (her favorite) and I decorated her stall. I really wanted to spend some quality time with her but had to get Veggie dropped off with his sitter and then get to the airport right away.

I ended up playing with her and doing some free lunging which was fun too. It's really cool to see the relationship we've built in that way and how she's happier with me than away from me in the arena. It also gave her a chance to stretch her legs a bit before she went back to her pen.

Although I will miss this view
I'm hoping to get out there tonight once I get home and then finally we're going to have a few months of consistent work without travel breaks. I'm so so so pumped :)

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Exciting Happenings

Old pictures from J's barn
I think I've mentioned, probably a couple of times, that it's been sort of a weird and stressful year for me personally. While the horse things have mostly gone really well (other than the farrier thing recently and not having a saddle so I couldn't ride) other things have just felt like I'm trekking up a steep mountain without enough oxygen and no breaks.

This past week I've finally felt like I can breath a little and I'm getting a little respite and over the past couple of days a few really exciting things have happened!

Unfortunately I'm not at a place to bring up two of those three things in this blog quite yet. One I'll likely have more information on early next week that I can share. Another I likely won't be able to share for at least a few months. The third though I can share just a bit about.

I believe I mentioned that Jane had asked me to post on our local online bulletin board that she had a couple of openings for boarders. I posted and got a really great response and was especially excited when one of my friends, who I boarded with at J's barn, expressed interest. I'd LOVE to board with her again and missed most of the people that I boarded at J's with.

Baby nose and baby lipstick!!! Same bit I'm using now
Over the past month or so she and another person from that barn have visited and taken video of my lesson to show to each other. After that video I hadn't heard much back and it was a rougher lesson than I've had in awhile so I wasn't quite sure how it was received. Last week I found out that the boarder who'd watched the video and not been able to be present for the lesson LOVED Jane (I'm really not sure how you couldn't) and wanted to come tour one more time before making a decision.

Last night both people showed up and they brought another person from J's barn! That's three people from J's and it just so happened that they're the three people I was closest with at Js. Two more family members showed up as well so it was quite the reunion and it reminded me how much I've missed having more people to ride and interact with at the barn. K is AMAZING but her schedule is just so different that I don't see her much. Katai also adored having all of her fans there and I don't think that any of them could quite believe how much different she is than she was at J's.

Baby pony in a really good but rare moment at J's barn
Also, I've really stepped up my ROOTD game ;)
It was great to see all of them and now I'll be on pins and needles waiting to hear if they're going to move in with me and when :) Oh, and figuring out how to consolidate my tack sprawl in the tack room if they do decide to move in.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Lending a Videoing Hand

The bay Arab in the front is who I was taking video of.
Something fun and horse related that happened last week that I didn’t write about is that I went to see a friend ride in her lesson. M is the person that’s taken all those gorgeous show pictures of me and Katai. I used to board at the same barn as her and she has a gorgeous little bay Arabian mare. Unfortunately for the majority of the time that I was at the barn M was dealing with her horse’s soundness problems. Right after I left her mare actually ended up going in for a fairly serious surgery but is now happily sound. M also takes lessons with L was it was great to see her again as well 

I showed up at the barn pretty early and we had a fun time catching up while she groomed and tacked up. The already gorgeous barn also had a few really nice upgrades including new paint, better flooring, nicer tackroom and they added rubber footing to the arena which was AMAZING! I was partially there to talk and catch up and partially there to take some video so I had my hands full with that for most of the lesson and didn’t get any media. I also dislike sharing other people riding on my blog especially if they don’t blog themselves. However, M had a really great lesson! Her mare is still fairly green especially with the setback they had in her soundness but they’re making huge strides and there were parts of the lesson where she was carrying herself like a 2nd level horse.

The arena I was videotaping in with baby pony and awkward riding from me
I also got a chance to catch up with L who had just returned from a really fun road trip out west. I also found out that she’s shopping for performance ponies!! Since Jane is her instructor as well I also found out later that she’d sent some video from her trip to see some of the ponies over to Jane for Jane to assess so I can’t wait to hear if she ended up getting one of them.

I had such a great time and we’re going to try to meet up again for lessons or a trail ride. M also volunteered her truck if I get a light enough trailer and it would be so much fun to have someone to do more trail rides and shows with!

It's BACK!

I missed Wordless Wednesday but this is nearly a wordless post. My week has been nuts preparing to head to Seattle next week for, hopefully, my last trip away for a LONG time so I haven't blogged much. However, I did need to share this.

It's soooo beautiful

and looks sooooo much narrower haha

Monday, September 25, 2017

Fall Blahs

I LOVE fall. Usually our weather is gorgeous and it’s my happy place temperature wise with temps normally around the 50s-low 70s. However, like all our other weird weather this year we’ve had two spikes up into the 90s in between the 60s. The cooler weather came earlier than normal which was lovely but these weird 30 degree spikes are rough and migraine causing for me. I ended up with a migraine (although I actually caught it before it got too horrible this time) on Thursday and then Friday was 93. Because of that, despite my goals of making it out at least 4 times this past week I only made it out 3.

Part of that is that I still don’t have a saddle. Despite VTO’s quick turnaround time I miscalculated how long shipping takes with a box that large. It was either $40 to ship for 5-6 day shipping time for $106 for 2-3 day shipping so I went with the longer option. I know my saddle has gone to the adjuster at this time but with shipping back likely taking at least as long I don’t even know if it will arrive this week. That’s more than two weeks without a saddle and I’m starting to worry that Katai is going to gain back enough pudge that the, now narrower, saddle won’t fit when it gets back. I did end up talking with Jane on Sunday and she suggested that I try one of her back up saddles. I was doubtful but it actually fit pretty well so I’m going to try it out tonight and then possible ride in it for my lesson tomorrow.

It’s a really rough time for this to be happening since my friends, who are still looking at moving, are wanting to watch another one of my lessons before they make the decision. Oh well, I needed to get my saddle adjusted and this time as is good as any since I don’t have any shows or clinics coming up.

In the meantime I’m planning to get out to the barn 5 times again. Even if this borrowed saddle doesn’t fit well enough for me to ride in it I’ll be lunging and doing some bareback rides. Plus I still want to get a bath in for Katai before the weather gets too much colder. It's looking like our weather is going to be more consistent for the next week or so and I'm hoping that my body adjusts again so that I can enjoy it!

Sunday, September 24, 2017


Let me out or feed me treats!
Jane and partner spent the past few weekends installing new
bars on the stall doors in the main barn and they look soooo good!
A while ago, before I was derailed by farrier drama and sending my saddle away, I was going to share a bit about a supplement update. In the meantime I’ve had something else come up so I figured I could share both now.

Back when I “self” diagnosed Katai with Ulcers I did a round of treatment with UlcerGuard and started Katai on G.U.T. for maintenance. After the treatment with UlcerGuard all of Katai’s ulcer-like symptoms went away and stayed away but I wasn’t sure if they stayed away because of or despite the G.U.T. since I started that at the same time. My plan in the first place with starting her on the maintenance supplement was to wean her off going into winter (when I felt like there would be less stress) and then put her back on in the spring.
Little tough to tell past the cute pony tongue
but this is what they looked like before.
So, the supplement ran out and I didn’t immediately replace it despite it still sort of being summer. I figured I’d experiment and see if her symptoms came back or stayed away. Like a lot of those things they sort of crept back slowly so I wasn’t aware right away but just prior to the show Katai was back to being girthy, sensitive to touch, and just seemed less like her normal self. Once I realized the pattern (when she almost nipped me as I fastened her girth) I felt so bad! Here I’d found something that worked and then took her off it just to see if it stopped working which made poor Katai uncomfortable.

The good thing is that I know now that I need to keep her on it. I just felt bad that I’d given her the chance to feel icky in the meantime.

The other thing I’ve been experimenting with is my lunging set up.

For a long time I’d used just plain side reins with a stretchy insert. After moving to my previous barn I started to experiment with a neck stretcher since everyone there used one. With normal side reins Katai would always get above the contact and get hollow. She was also clearly tight just in front of the withers and the neck stretcher did WONDERS for that. However, once I started working with Jane she was very against the neck stretcher (and I don’t disagree) so I started looking for something that would provide similar benefit and stumbled upon Vienna reins. They’re said to be really good for horses, like Katai, that get tight in front of their withers. Plus, it didn’t have the poll pressure that Jane disliked.

I loved how they worked with Katai and have used them exclusively for lunging for almost the past year. Just about two months ago I decided to try out side reins again and it didn’t work. Katai went right back to getting above the contact and got really hollow through her back. I put them away and went back to the Vienna reins.

Not sure if I've shown this before but this magnet lives on Katai's stall :)
 Then, fast forward to a couple of weekends ago. Since I don’t have a saddle I decided to lunge. Recently (as many of you have probably noticed) Katai has started to duck slightly behind the contact a bit in tense situations. She isn’t doing this at home but the lack of forward combined with the extra tension at a show or when I'm at the neighbor's arena causes her to go btv which we're actively working to "fix". In the Vienna reins she can go behind the vertical because of the way the action works, however, she really hasn't done that at all. It's something I've watched for because I knew it was a risk but so far she hadn't ever gone btv when I lunged. However, with her tendency to do so under saddle recently increasing I wanted to cut out any chance of that happening when I lunge so I went back to the side reins. 

Low and behold they worked! She was PERFECT and never got tight or above the side reins. She also pushed forward into them, unless I let her get lazy, and just worked so so so well. Really, it's just crazy how quickly they can change and learn things after years of having pretty consistent behaviors.