Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Simple: Lesson Recap 4/19

Apparently I had some sort of weird premonition about working on the simple changes through trot on the diagonal because that's one of the things that we worked on with Katai in my lesson this week.

All our crazy weather caused this
humidity cloud inside the arena the other night
We started off with a slightly stiff pony so our main priority was getting her loosened up through her shoulders. We did some leg yield at the walk (I'm STILL on the struggle bus with these) and then did some work at the trot. We didn't do much before we went to canter since we're still trying to mix things up with Katai and the last couple of times we've ended with canter.

We did a lot of canter in this lesson and Katai just kept right on going! She only broke once and then when I cued for her to pick it back up she went right into it. We started with some 20 meter circles and spirals in. Then Jane had me do some simple changes (very simple ;) since we trotted almost all the way across the diagonal).

On our way to this ;)
Katai did SOOO well! I was able to get her to pick up the canter at the letter Jane wanted with very few extra trot steps and she never once got sassy or picked up the wrong lead. She did get more forward and started rushing a bit but with some help from Jane and better riding from me we got it contained and just had more energy which was good. Then we went straight to counter canter and again Katai kept right on going and let me figure things out without ever saying no or putting a foot wrong. We did some shallow serpentines in each direction, I did better going to the right so I have my homework, and then she got a well deserved walk break.

My tiny dog is even cuter when he's sun bathing

I was already SOOO proud of her but then we went to sitting trot and did some shoulder in. We finally NAILED it in both directions. We had everything right, she wasn't fighting me, I kept her round and forward, and didn't flop all over the place. IT WAS AWESOME.

Finally we did some stretchy trot and quit. It was a fairly short lesson since we spent so much time at the canter and knew that she'd be a tired pony but it felt great.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Of Questionable Taste

I thought I'd share a few of the things that have caught my eye over the last couple of months including a few things that I'd actually buy ;)

I'm going to start with the things that I'll admire from afar and get to the things that I'm actually kind of interested in.

Things that would cause Jane to disown me:

I have to admit that I'd want to be friends with anyone wearing this
but I'm not quite confident enough to pull it off

I've shared these before but just a bit too blingy for me

Yep, that's a huge cartoon unicorn head on a cooler

Things that would only give Jane a minor heart attack:

This is all perfect but my favorite are the polkadot bell boots! 

This only comes in horse size, I did actually check because I'd probably get one otherwise

Things that I might be able to fly under Jane's hunter ring radar : 

I really actually want to do this!! I've wanted boots like this
for a long time and the matching
baby pink polos and  adorable bell boots are perfect
This C4 belt would be perfect ;) for schooling shows
I am actually planning to get one of these in hot pink from Swanky Saddle for my tack locker

Monday, April 17, 2017

Weekend Update and Trailering Progress

This weekend was amazing!! Like Teresa at Journey with a Dancing Horse I used every minute and spent a lot of time outside.

Starting on Friday evening I got out to the barn and had a great ride. Katai was a little quiet and not especially forward (when I first started looking into Ulcers) which is unusual for her but she had a busy week so that's likely part of it as well. Jane also mentioned that the massage person turned up that Katai had sore hind legs/stifles and we've been working on increasing her cross over and getting her carrying in the canter so it may partially be muscle soreness too.

Plus I made vegan buddha bowls to
celebrate my 2 year vegan anniversary
Then Saturday I had another great ride. Katai was right with me and we played a couple of times with simple changes across the diagonal. She nailed the transitions and I just need to work on being more organized and less flustered but it was fun to try something new.

Finally (for the weekend), Sunday was trailer training day. You've all seen the pictures from my last post but we ended in a decent place with Katai stepping just into the trailer and off the ramp with her front feet. I was really happy with that but especially that she was stepping forward off pressure which she hasn't been the last several times I've needed to trailer her despite a lot of natural horsemanship type techniques. These were the same things that helped me originally train Katai to trailer load (which she used to do beautifully BUT with a ton of tension to the point of shaking sometimes).
Prepping the ingredients for my buddha bowls :)
Since those weren't working and with my change in training methods/mindset since working with Jane I've been trying something different this time. Mostly I'm trying to keep everything as low stress as possible. I'm not escalating at all and my only rules are that she move forward (eventually) off pressure, face the trailer, and that we make at least an inch of progress each day.

Today I brought her back out to the trailer for a continuation of yesterday's training. If anything I focused on using even less pressure than yesterday and I was SO pleased with her! She stayed really calm the whole time, almost no tension other than that she started to paw twice. Plus, she never reared up and when she pulled back and I held pressure she came right forward.

Again I asked with some pressure (barely an ounce) for her to step up into the trailer after me and she came right with me. I did lots of having her stand for a second and then backing her out, praising the heck out of her and then bringing her back in. Today we got all the way in with her back feet just barely staying on the ramp more than twice! SUCH huge progress especially with no blow ups and she was relaxed when we ended.

Then I brought her back to the barn, she walked calmly back, and then I spent the whole rest of the evening at the barn :) I lunged her (and she was great) and she wasn't as stiff or sore as I thought she might be after all of her shenanigans yesterday.  I'm certainly sore, my hands took a beating and typing was sore today at work. Then I tried braiding her!

This was my first try and I think they turned out decently well. I'll try take a bit wider sections of mane next time but otherwise I'm pleased! Also, I wondered if I could get away with using white yarn for that first braid.  The answer is no, no I can't.

Finally I stuffed her with peppermints and lots of pets, cleaned her stall, and headed home.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Well Now We Both Need Chiropractic...

A lot more like this than the other but I wanted to share the bad parts too

Not trying to pull her down, I know that's a no no.
Just keeping a gentle steady pressure until she walks forward.
It doesn't look gentle because she goes up so quick that  it takes me a second to go with.

This is her go to when she doesn't want to do something
 We got to a much better place by the end where she was standing quietly with her shoulders in the trailer and she was actually giving to pressure and stepping forward when I asked but we have a long way to go.

Also, #mindyourmelon when loading a fractious beast haha

Saturday, April 15, 2017


Photos from our less than stellar ride tonight

Recently Katai has been crabbier than normal. Maybe not even crabbier as much as more consistently crabby. When I was riding a lot earlier in the year I was contributing it to the increase in her workload and likely some sore muscles. Then we had #mareproblems so she had that reason and a week off, then a week off when I traveled for work, Then almost a week off when I was in Omaha, and now less work since I've been having trouble getting to the barn.

Last Saturday she got shots so I knew she wouldn't be feeling her best, then she got a massage which could have made her feel a bit tender, and finally got her hooves trimmed so that could have made her feel a bit off as well. She got a quiet week but I rode (just a nice light training ride) yesterday and today (slightly more work but still I kept it short).

Pretty cool that this is now a less than stellar ride. Also, you can clearly tell that
she's thinner than she's been recently. Not unhealthy skinny,
I can just barely feel her last two ribs, but still it's a big change from before.
I was hoping she'd feel different, and there are some differences, but she pretty much seems to be sensitive in the same places. Namely she's been crabby, not as forward as normal, doesn't want me to touch her near her flank, has become girthy, and has actually lost weight to the point that she is right on the edge of her ideal weight. This is a BIG change since she's always been an extremely easy keeper and she's certainly getting enough hay and the hay is great quality. She has been getting worked more so I'm thinking of adding some additional calories but it also could be a symptom

Tonight I did some digging/research and I'm fairly certain that she's got ulcers. The statistics would support it with 60%-90% of performance horses having ulcers. Also, I've always sort of wondered since she's just a horse that stresses easily and likes her routine. Now she's also living in a stall and has her own private paddock so she's not around other horses much and doesn't get much movement. In addition, all that time where I wasn't working here meant she was moving even less than normal, we gave her some bute after she had her shots, and she had a crazy week this past week where we certainly weren't letting her follow her normal routine so her stomach might really be bothering her.

She really just wanted to retract her neck but
I'm really happy with the amount of crossover that we've been getting!
At this point with all of this adding up I've gone ahead and ordered some UlcerGuard. I'm going to give her that over the four days and if I notice a difference I'm going to add a supplement to support her gut. If I don't notice a difference I'm going to call the vet and have her tested for Lyme disease since that's the other most likely option.

I'm really hoping it's not Lyme but I also think it's unlikely. Not that it couldn't happen but I've NEVER pulled a single tick off of her. In addition I've seen horses with Lyme and they are extremely sensitive to being touched to the point of kicking their people, rearing, biting, and flipping out completely. Katai is a very sensitive flower so if she were feeling anything like that she likely wouldn't even be letting me touch her but she's been enjoying her grooming on most of her body.

Bit of a head tilt here, mare was definitely still a bit stiff.
Chiro may also be in order
I found some additional info on Vitamin E deficiency and Selenium deficiency but neither of those match as closely and when I checked her vitamin supplement it actually contains a decent amount of both so I think that's unlikely.

She's also due to be dewormed and apparently that's something that can occasionally cause similar symptoms so I'm going to get that taken care of as well.

At any rate, I've ordered UlcerGuard, a supplement that supports gut health, and some dewormer for this year and I'll post an update once I receive it later this week and have a chance to try it out.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Contrary: Lesson Recap 4/11

The title doesn't have to do with Katai being contrary but with what we asked her to do.

We started counter canter!!!! The lesson was pretty short and specific. Katai hasn't been getting worked as much with all of my traveling and her soreness plus with her shots she was still pretty sore through the neck. We worked on spiraling, getting my upper leg on, a couple of leg yields and then tried some counter canter.
My shopping trip on the way to the barn yesterday
Carrots for Katai, dried mangos for me, and doggy kibble for Veggie
I also got some stuff for braiding so that I can start to practice
First, Katai was SO GOOD!! No extra tension, excitement, or sassiness. She was just calm and trying hard to understand what I was asking. I was fumbling since it's the first time I've tried shallow serpentines at the canter and she just patiently let me figure it out.

In the end she only broke once and even to the right which is her tougher canter lead she did a great job. We also had her cantering for longer than typical and she never once refused or was sassy about that. I didn't even get a head toss or pinned ears. I actually think she sort of enjoyed playing with something new :)

I ended up getting a couple of good tries in each direction and after doing some stretchy trot we ended there.
Only in a horse barn.
It's the cheese stick next to the syringe that really kills me ;)
I'm feeling really motivated and ready to get back on track this week but unfortunately with all of her appointments I've been needing to take it easy. My plan is to pick things up seriously tomorrow and get her back on a fitness/regular riding plan.

Sorry for the random food item photos. Hopefully I can get more riding media soon!

Making a Rider

Now that we've talked about Katai I thought it would be fun to talk a little more about me and what I'm doing outside of lessons and rides to make progress.

First, I'm a HUGE proponent of rider fitness. I truly believe that if we're going to ask our horses to be athletes we should as well. That doesn't mean that we need to be out running marathons but at a minimum I want to be able to make it through a 45-60 minute lesson without becoming a burden to my instructor, clinician or horse. Not that they may not as for something at some point that wears me out but I want it to be the exception rather than the rule.

I ran Ragnar in 2014
A few years ago when I was early in my weight loss journey I started running and while I'm extremely proud of myself that I made it through I realized that running just isn't my thing. I hate it so much that I wasn't exercising at all because I felt like I needed to run and I REALLY didn't want to run.
Running pictures are always funny
Recently I've switched to just making sure I'm active. I go for long walks with my dog (and sometimes run or jog a bit), go for hikes, ride, and do body weight work outs at home. I'm happier, love it rather than trying to avoid it, and feel stronger than I have plus I'm continuing to get leaner which is a nice side effect :)

In addition I've always had really bad anterior pelvic tilt. I didn't know that's what it was but I'd always had a sore back and had a tough time not always having a really hollow back when I rode. Once I started working with Jane I started looking for answers and found some great tips and exercises to fix it. Now I'm doing the exercises in these videos along with many others and it's been making an amazing difference!

My absolute favorite workout video right now. 
I also enjoy the rest of this youtuber's videos

These changes in my strength have been a big part of the change in my position and the improvement in my riding.

I've also really changed my mindset around Katai as I've mentioned. I've become much more gentle with her thanks to Jane and we're working together as partners rather than me feeling like I need to be the instructor/leader all the time with her as the student/subordinate. I think it was partially tough for me since I've had her from the beginning when she was a baby and a brat and partially it's just a mindset that I have in general. It's been nice to change this both around Katai and in the rest of my life.

It's pretty cool when you get to improve your riding and a good therapy session when you pay for riding lessons ;)