Monday, July 27, 2020

Planted

I'm back for a post or two! I have truly loved moving to Instagram and find it has been so much easier with my general lack of motivation recently to still journal and interact with my internet friends without having to write long posts. Some things though just need a little more space.

Handgrazing is one of our new, favorite, pastimes 


This year, other those truly awful things we're all aware of, has honestly been awesome for me. Those couple of years where I wasn't riding much have paid off in that I have an amazing and strong relationship with an amazing partner, own a home, and have a job that I adore. Without taking a step back from riding and horse things I don't know that I would have been able to accomplish all of that. Now, I'm able to enjoy the effort that I put into those things but also have time and energy to go to the barn and the motivation to go. 

So far, since I've moved to the new barn, I've made it out there 6 days a week and have been riding 5 days a week pretty regularly. When that doesn't happen, like last week, I get right back on track the following week. It feels so amazing to be going regularly and making progress again. I wasn't riding that regularly even when I was working with Jane. What doesn't always feel great is the slow, steady work of getting both of our strength back but I also have confidence that we'll get there and that doing it the right way will take time.

We've also done a lot of hand walking down the sand track to build confidence.
The cross country course is in the center.


What also feels great is that all the slow work I've done over the past two years has led to better work that I was getting when I was working regularly with Jane. Even though I haven't had regular lessons in the meantime I have been slowly chipping away at things like increasing relaxation and improving me and Katai's partnership as well as managing my anxiety. These things have been working and are now paying off in a big way.

After just about two months at the new barn I'm doing things that I could only dream of before. That includes having productive rides in the outdoor arena(s) where I'm doing about 90% of my rides at this point. No only is she just as engaged and ridable (and relaxed) outdoors now as she was indoors during good rides last year but we can switch which outdoor arena we're in and still get really good work. We're also hacking out by ourselves and even if it's just a short ride down the sand gallop track (at a walk of course) it's HUGE for us.

Hopefully a new phone will mean less blurry screen grabs!


I credit this to me having a better handle on my anxiety and also on all of the relaxation work and team building. That work has helped me but has also helped Katai to have a better sense of humor about things. This barn is BUSY. There are people, trailers, farm equipment, screaming kids, dogs, bikes, you name it all over the place all the time. Katai has done so well that she's one of the favorites of the girls that work at the barn and resident barn rats and they've even told me that "she's pretty near bomb proof" which were not words I EVER expected to hear about Katai.

I'd say I couldn't believe the change but I've truly put blood, sweat, and tears into this especially over the past year so this is really just a lot of hard work paying off. 

Gotta make sure the Pivo is tracking

One of the main shifts for me in how my mindset has shifted is that I feel really planted. In the past I always knew I was moving to a different state and/or moving onto my own farm. It was something I had wanted so badly for so long that I always felt like I had one foot out the door. It didn't feel like it made sense to build a solid team of body workers, vets, saddle fitters, farrier, etc. because I felt like I was "just moving away anyway". It also meant that I was especially picky about board because it felt like I was just managing it until I could move to my own place. In addition, it kept me from really figuring out ways to deal with inconveniences like our weather, boarding things, or bugs. 

With meeting my boyfriend I needed to change that mindset because he loves this place and has never wanted to move. Within the first few months of meeting each other we had a lot of conversations about city vs. farm life and if I could be happy here. It was a decision I took very seriously and put a lot of thought into because I never wanted to feel negatively about him or the relationship because of a decision that was mine to make. In the end, I decided I could be truly happy living in Minneapolis for the rest of my life and honestly it's one of the best decisions I've ever made. 

That planted feeling has led me to finding solutions for things instead of just whining about them. It's led me to working on my anxiety vs. feeling like I could just run away from it. It's also led me to just bucking up and dealing with things like heat or humidity since I can't just move away from it and I don't want the middle of summer and the middle of winter to be excuses to stop riding or making progress.

I've also really dialed in Katai's diet and the Vitamin E is part of
what I credit to her current ability to relax.


Those solutions have led to new tools like cooling towels for the summer and a great water bottle as well as warmer layers and the realization that personally I need to board at a heated barn for winter. They've also led to a strong team of horse professionals around us to help make sure Katai is feeling her best and that I've got the support I need to keep making progress. Finally, one good thing that came out of COVID is the ability to do remote video lessons. For the first time, while I have the money this fall for a truck and was planning to move forward with that and get a trailer next spring/summer I'm actually taking that off my list. Instead I'm going to upgrade my phone for a better camera and processor and figure out how to get the Pivo working for remote lessons or upgrade to something like a Pixio. 

Next year the plan is to find opportunities to ride with people to just a couple of dressage shows. It's not going to be quite as easy to figure out trailer loading stuff without my own but I figure that if I can make it work for a few years and pay off some more debt I'll be in a more comfortable place to get my own in the near future. I'm also just feeling confident enough that Katai will be better at shows with the very show like atmosphere at our barn every day. That helps me feel like I'm not going to need to trailer her out every weekend to get used to it and can instead maybe have a handful of productive shows next year. 

The new dressage arena with fiber footing is <3


Fingers crossed we're in a better place pandemic wise next year and shows are easier and more available than this year!

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Options

With my current decision to move I didn't have to think that long to decide which barn I would move to if I could. The barn I'm moving to is one that I've been at before and as soon as I saw their response to COVID I started thinking about what moving might look like. That was back at the very beginning of April and while it still took me about three weeks to get to this point, I didn't shop around for other barns.

However, seeing Viva Carlos' post about barns and barn prices actually surprised me a bit as far as how similar our prices are in MN to those in CA. My budget is around $600 max per month and I've been paying between $375-$570 for the past few years. With lessons I was paying as high as $760 per month at one point. With that being said, we have multiple places over $1000 and at least a couple of places around $2000

For that my list of must haves is:

  • No pasture - laminitis stuff with Katai and our pastures around here are SUPER rich. Plus, most barns won't deal with grazing muzzles unfortunately.
  • Heated barn
  • Trailer parking - because this IS happening sooner or later and I'd rather not need to move in order to park a trailer
  • Daily supplement feeding - your girl seriously needs her magnesium
  • Within budget
  • Daily turnout of at least 8 hours
  • Indoor arena
  • Outdoor arena - no longer a nice to have since I need to get Katai acclimated to riding outside
  • access to other outdoor riding space - even if it's a small trail around the pastures
  • Good footing in the arenas
  • No road riding to get to trails - it's just too easy for something to go wrong and my anxiety won't deal with it. If it's a quiet gravel road I'd consider but nothing fast and paved
  • Ample barn hours
  • Within a 40 minute drive
  • Uses my favorite vet
Nice to haves:
  • Access to some sort of lessons on site
  • Great barn community, even better if I could show with a group of other riders
  • Heated arena
  • Have regular visits by someone that does body work, a saddle fitter, etc.
  • Ability to use my tack locker
  • Horses are led in and out - this wouldn't be optional except Katai is sensible and slowly walks in like a lady
  • More than 8 hours of turnout
  • Indoor wash stall, solarium, other nice grooming amenities
With that, let's get into the list! This is a random list of barns that I'm aware of and have considered. These are either primarily dressage or eventing for the most part although at least one or two of these have more western riders than english. 

Barn #1


  • Pros: 
    • Dressage focused barn
    • On site trainer
    • Nicely heated grooming space with easy access to a wash stall
    • Fantastic footing
    • Nicely priced
    • Active, showing, dressage barn community
  • Cons
    • I wouldn't ever ride with this trainer again
    • Only pasture turn out and no supplement feeding
    • Outside of my ideal drive distance
Price: $500

Barn #2 (wait list barn)


  • Pros:
    • Onsite gold medalist dressage instructor
    • Huge indoor arena with fantastic footing
    • Fantastic barn community
    • Tons of outdoor riding spaces including a pond
    • Active, showing, dressage community
  • Cons:
    • Right at the top of my current budget for stall board
    • I've been on the waitlist for over a year with no movement (both a pro and a con really since no one wants to leave)
Price: $610-$750

Barn #3



  • Pros:
    • Nice indoor footing
    • Everything is under one roof and is well heated
    • Great, active boarders, mainly dressage
    • Lots of access to onsite trainers
  • Cons:
    • The outdoor arena footing is terrifying and is plagued with horse flies during the summer
    • No trainer I'd want to work with
    • It's in the process of changing hands barn manager wise
    • No real outdoor riding spaces
Price: $600

Barn #4

It doesn't really show the facility, but how could I not post this arena picture
  • Pros:
    • Dressage focused facility with onsite trainer
    • Fantastic footing
    • Gorgeous facilities
    • Active, showing, dressage community
    • They even do stuff like yoga at the barn
    • Top trainers in for clinics
  • Cons:
    • Out of my budget, clearly
    • Requires full training
    • Not sure we'd fit in
Price: $1200+ with full training

Barn #5

Yes, those are Moshy ears. This place also holds a summer
show series including the show that I took Moshy to a couple of years ago.
  • Pros:
    • Clearly this place is gorgeous
    • Great footing
    • The, or one of the, largest indoor arenas in our area
    • I think this is the closest barn to our house at just over 20 minutes away
    • Access to onsite dressage instruction
  • Cons:
    • Clearly out of my budget
    • I'm not sure if I'd want to train with the resident dressage trainer
    • Not much turnout, maybe half day?
    • Not sure that we'd fit in
Price: $1200+ (a lot more) with full training. I'm not certain if they require full training or not. You also must purchase a very premium tack trunk so that they all match.

Barn #6 (Current Barn)


  • Pros:
    • Easy drive from home
    • Major shopping center just across the road for easy errand runs
    • Nicely heated barn and connected arena
    • Wonderful barn community
    • Tons of turnout with almost no stall time other than feeding time during the summer
    • Indoor wash stall
    • Huge park with horse trails just across the road
  • Cons:
    • Pasture turnout
    • Deep and slippery arena footing
    • Very busy small arena
    • Not very peaceful since directly across the road is a shooting range
    • Lack of communication during COVID stuff
    • You have to cross a fast, busy road to get to the trails
    • Barn hours of 10am-9pm mean that some days it's tough to get to the barn unless I plan carefully
    • Can't use the indoor wash stall except for small things since it doesn't drain well
    • Outdoor wash washstall doesn't have heated water
Price: $500-$570

Barn #7 (Where I'm moving)


  • Pros:
    • Three outdoor riding arenas with an outdoor dressage arena going in this year
    • A sand gallop track that can be used for trail riding plus just lots of space to ride around the property
    • Access to additional trails
    • My favorite vet and massage person go here and they have a saddle fitter in regularly 
    • Active barn community with lots of eventers and at least some dressage focused riders
    • Access to onsite trainers
    • Two indoor arenas, one small heated and a larger unheated
    • Good footing. It was good when I was there before, recently they've began the process redoing all their footing and adding some fiber footing to all the arenas. It was in process when I toured but I'm guessing they will be finished with that process by the time I move in.
    • Barn has been in business since 1977 with the same owners/managers so lots of stability
    • Solarium and fancy grooming area
    • I can use my own tack locker
  • Cons:
    • With ala carte boarding options I'd be over budget if I chose everything I wanted
    • Very busy barn with lots of kids and group lessons
    • The paddocks are small
    • No indoor wash stall
    • No dressage focused trainers on site
Price: $475-$710 

Barn #8

No real facility photos so here is the arena
  • Pros:
    • Dressage focused facility
    • Great footing
    • Large stalls
    • Heated arena
    • Onsite dressage instruction
    • Fairly close to our house
  • Cons: 
    • Must be in full training
    • Over my budget
Price: $935-$1,150

Barn #9

Yes, this is an actual picture of the facility and not something I pulled off Pintrest lol
  • Pros:
    • Clearly a gorgeous facility
    • Dressage focused
    • Multiple dressage instructors
    • Premium horse care
    • FANTASTIC footing. I've actually been told to attend a schooling show there just to experience their footing lol
    • Massive indoor
    • Clearly it's fully heated
    • Onsite laundry
    • They feed three times per day and do night checks for all their horses every night 
    • They have packages that include up to a number of sessions (either trainer rides or lessons) that's flexible enough to be palatable to me.
    • Who wouldn't want to board someplace like this, I mean seriously?
    • Stalls are cleaned multiple times per day and are all 12x14
  • Cons:
    • Well, clearly it's out of my budget
    • Not sure if I can think of any other cons
Price: all of it, everything and your soul. 

Just kidding, it's actually a fairly reasonable $1600-$2000 per month. For $1,600 per month (and let's face it that's still exceptionally expensive and around 3x what I'm paying now) you get up to 10 training sessions per month plus access to all the boarding amenities. For the premium $2000 per month package it includes full grooming (not sure I'd want that) but also has things like braiding for shows, body clipping, up to 20 training sessions per month (that's 5 times per week 0-0) and hand walking. If I were ever to aspire to board someplace over my budget it would be this barn. 

Just because, a few more pictures of that facility.





and then, to close out the post, a few more pictures of the facility I'm moving into.
On site cross country course

From their trail class schooling day

One of the outdoor arenas

The smallest outdoor arena

Dom Schramm teaches at this facility a few times a year. This was from one of the recent clinics.

Friday, April 17, 2020

COVID Horse Life Update Part Three

I can't wait to see this face again.

If you didn't read through the previous two parts of this please review those first. Those are important details into the updates I have for this post and are good perspective into my decision.

First, I can't tell you how much I've been struggling with this over the last month. I also can't emphasis enough how much this doesn't have to do with not being able to see Katai right now, and how much it does have to do with the lack of communication, poor communication, and lack of any sort of transparent plan regarding the barn closure. I'd also seen shortcuts taken that, when I could be there all the time, didn't concern me but those certainly started to eat at me when I couldn't be there. With that, two things really struck me over the past week that ultimately really made the decision for me.

First, my poor, amazing boyfriend has been listening to me process this and worry about any and all options. He's quietly talked me through it and been so amazingly supportive. Pretty early on he supported me moving Katai, partially because I think he understands how much my mental health is tied to this decision and is fantastic at supporting me through advocating for myself. I've been the one really hesitating to move in that direction. During yet another night of me being emotional and second guessing myself he said something that has really stuck with me. Basically I was talking about how awesome my barn owner had been when other people had horse emergencies and how she was such a nice person. I was feeling awful for even thinking about moving and he said something along the lines of "Just because she's amazing, doesn't mean she's the right fit for you right now". It really struck me in that the barn isn't awful, the owner isn't awful, no one is a villain here, it's just that with the unprecedented things we're dealing with right now, things have significantly shifted and what was amazing before, isn't necessarily amazing right now.

I'm jealous of those of you who can't see your horse right now but know that they're receiving amazing care. I'm jealous of those of you who have your own property and can continue to see, care for, and even ride your horse(s) through this time, I'm jealous of those of you that are at barns that have taken appropriate steps for social distancing and are listening to the science while allowing you to continue to see your horses and ride.

At any rate, I FINALLY came to the decision to move. The deposit has been paid to the new(ish) barn, notice has been given, and I'm planning to move in the middle of May pending final trailer arrangements.

So, where am I going? It's actually a barn I've been at before back in the winter of 2014/2015. This is the barn where I escaped to from the awful trainer that was my first dressage instructor. At the time I NEEDED an onsite trainer since I needed lessons and didn't have a trailer. Because of that, I didn't stay long but loved it there and the only negative I can remember is that I wasn't in a heated barn and it was the middle of winter so it was super cold.

This is the larger, unheated arena that's in the unheated barn I boarded in.
The people were lovely and it has super amenities. Since I left they also replaced all of the footing with a fiber/sand mix and made some other property improvements. I'll also get some additional "amenities" by being in the heated barn including that, well, there's heat and Katai will get led in rather than ran in like my current barn and this unheated barn. They also have a solarium that I'm super excited to use.

This was in the unheated barn. I think her stall was just to the right of this picture.
I actually have had this barn on my list for awhile and was going to move back just prior to when I moved to Jane's. I was so confident that I was going to move back at that point that I even started on the tack locker project with my dad. This is the only barn I'm aware of in the area that will allow you to have a tack locker. In the meantime, my dad has been kind enough to store the locker but I'm going to pick it up in May, finally get the exterior painted, and get that moved up there. I can't wait to finally start using it.

Tack locker in progress from back 2017/2018
Then, when I was leaving my previous barn and going to my current barn I was planning to move there again until my friend at the current barn invited me out for a visit and I fell in love with her facility and knew a few people there. It feels in some way like I've come full circle and found my way back.

I also really enjoyed reading through L. Williams Viva Carlos post about the barns in the area so while I didn't technically shop around I thought I might do a post about barns, what they offer, and what they check off my list. In the long run, I'm STILL on the waitlist for dream barn and after checking in earlier this month it sounds like there hasn't been any movement since February 2019 when I got on the waitlist. I figure either I'll love it here and decide to stay long term or I'll move there when the spot opens up. I really hadn't planned to move again before a spot opened up there but it turns out we're living through something that's changing plans everywhere so it's not too unexpected that I'd need to revise my plans.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

COVID Horse Life Update Part Two

I also picked up some pretty new things on sale from our local tack shop.
I'm doing what I can to #shopsmall and support our local businesses right now.

I feel like everything in life right now requires a difficult decision. Even going out for a run, I need to pick a route that I think won't have too many people and constantly watch and be alert to dodge people as I go while also watching for traffic and lumps or bumps in the sidewalk so I don't hurt myself. It's uncomfortable and tough to zone out and just run.

My anxiety has made shopping difficult because people aren't good at following rules so it's almost impossible to avoid coming within 6' of someone at the store as everyone mills around. That's with MN taking this pretty seriously and doing a good job social distancing overall so far. I can't imagine what it would be like in a place where it wasn't being taken as seriously.

Nothing has felt like a more difficult decision than horse stuff though. Being completely blunt, my options were to stay, cross my fingers, and hope that the barn opens to some extent or the communication gets better or go and have to deal with all of the ickiness that is trying to move a horse during this quarantine while leaving my current barn family at this time.

Not any sort of official advice but cute and funny and still good things to consider.

I knew if I moved that some people would feel like I had moved just so I could ride my horse. We're all in this together and I understand that many people can't ride or see their horse right now. I also knew that I couldn't make the decision based on other's opinions. As horse owners we are all responsible for our own horse, ourselves, and for doing the best that we can for each of them. Sometimes we're going to mess up and look back and wish we had done things differently, sometimes we're going to get it exactly right, and sometimes it's going to be somewhere in the middle.

I'm incredibly anti risk. I'm not an adrenaline junky, I drive at or below the speed limit, I lunge if Katai seems anxious or especially high energy, and with this quarantine I'm staying 99% home with my boyfriend and only ordering food because other than a handful of times that we've needed to leave over the last month+ for truly essential purchases I don't want to leave the house. We've purchased masks (from Equifit actually :), found some hand sanitizer that I've ordered, and are carefully following the science as far as social distancing (those few times we go out), hand washing, and washing/disinfecting our groceries as appropriate. With that, while I'm tempted to just completely hide at home until this passes, none of us can or should completely stop our lives for the next 18+ months. That certainly has its own dangers including, for many of us, mental health decline. Instead, I believe in following the science, reducing risk to the smallest possible amount, and following all guidance in things like our Stay at Home order.

Also taking full advantage of every dressage learning opportunity include this webinar series that Meghan from
A Enter Spooking has put together!

I'm exhausted from all of the decision making and at first just buried my head in the sand and waited it out. However, I also knew that with our current peak expected around the end of June-mid August and the likelihood of additional waves following that, this concern I have about my barn isn't just going to go away in the next month. My boyfriend and I have had a long talk about horse and barn options since we've found that he's not as high risk as was originally thought. So, as we move forward and find out about the next steps for both our stay at home order and any updates from the science community on what we should all be doing we're also moving forward in appropriate ways.

I've considered a bunch of options and have some plans that I'm working to finalize. My BF is working to build an at home climbing wall and we're going to continue to stay 100% at home for the time being.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Blogging and COVID Horse Life Update Part One


Well shit guys, this isn't exactly something I expected I'd be writing about during my lifetime.

First, since I hadn't updated and then everything hit the fan I figured I'd briefly update everyone on my blogging plans. Basically, when I took a pause on blogging back in February I didn't know how long I would take off blogging and wanted to experiment with other methods of communicating with my horse social network. However, once I took the pressure to blog off my shoulders it became apparent pretty quickly how much that break was needed. In addition, while I get some comments and interaction through my blog, I get far more through Instagram and just really love that platform for communication vs. blog comments. It feels much more interactive and more of my friends follow me on Instagram than through my blog.

With that, I don't plan to completely stop blogging. There are certainly things, like this update, that are much more easily communicated in this format vs. on an instagram post. I also do love blogging and the longer format certainly makes journaling easier. I am currently planning to post if and when I have bigger updates, feel like writing about something, have time, and feel motivated to. Otherwise I'll continue to update Instagram because it's just so much less time consuming and easier media wise etc.

We did discover this cool water tower on
one of our walks around our new neighborhood.
On to the horse life with COVID stuff updates.

For anyone who doesn't know I live in the Minneapolis, MN metropolitan area and I work for a major healthcare (hospitals, clinics, elder care, etc.) organization in MN. With that, while I might not be on the front lines I do have an inside look at how COVID is impacting hospitals and healthcare workers. Also important to note, our "Stay at Home" order went into effect on March 27th at Midnight. This "Stay at Home" order is similar to many others that have been shared in that it encourages outside activities that comply with social distancing measures, shuts down "non-essential" businesses, and encourages individuals to only engage in essential activities while following social distancing measures.  My BF and I both are lucky enough to work in fields where we can work 100% from home. We're also ordering all of our groceries online. With that, we've done a handful of curbside pick ups for booze and other items but otherwise haven't left the house since March 9th when we were both moved to 100% wfh.

I had stopped going to the barn as of 3/19 because the person who rents the apartment above the barn had symptoms similar to those with COVID. As of March 25th at Midnight my barn closed with the communication that it would open when it was safe. Between then and now I've received one video of the stall mares running around and playing (where I could sort of see Katai) and have had a couple of text exchanges with the owner. With that, I haven't seen Katai now for four weeks as of Thursday, 4/16.
Old fashioned with the best bartender <3
In Minnesota most barns closed down when the Stay at Home order went into place on March 27th. However, in MN boarding barns as classified as "agricultural facilities" and are thus exempt from the stay at home order which makes them free to make their own decisions about how to handle social distancing measures. Many have since re-opened with measures such as scheduled barn slots for all boarders. I know of at least one barn that remained open but canceled all group lessons, clinics, schooling shows, and other gatherings and is maintaining social distancing rules including hand washing, cleaning items that are touched by multiple people, and encouraging things like masks and sanitizer use.

I also know of barns that closed completely that have still been incredibly accommodating during the barn closures. One of those barns even sent the owner, my friend, a video of them celebrating my friend's horse's birthday including party hats and a cupcake with a candle that the horse even "blew" out. It was adorable, and sweet, and caring. Other barns have not been so accommodating, including mine.

Long story short, I've been faced with an icky decision with way too much time to think and worry about it. Basically I needed to try to find a new barn now based on the care concerns I have or stick this out in place with my fingers crossed that Katai will be ok and move after things quiet down. Since I think most of us know that this could go on for a long time, unless *fingers crossed* we find a vaccine or treatment, I don't know what "after things quiet down" means. If that's a couple of months I would be able do that. If that's 18+ months I absolutely won't. Right now our peak is projected to be at the end of June because we are social distancing well that means a long curve. With that, I can't imagine that "safe" will be a thing until at least this fall or even early next year.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Goals?

Going to the funny memes since this is a heavy blog post

I'm doing something a little different this year and not setting traditional goals per the Jane Pike way of doing things. If you're curious what I'm talking about you can check out the podcast where she specifically talks about this here. 

However, that doesn't mean that I'm not going to talk about plans and progress for the year, it's just that I'll be sharing my action steps rather than larger goals, or dreams as Jane Pike talks about. I'm planning to outline the action steps I'm working on now and update the blog with progress on them on a regular basis throughout the year to make sure I'm not losing ground.

In thinking through those action steps for the year and how I can structure my to do list in order to be successful I'm going to have include an update on this blog. Even if you don't read the rest of this wall of text make sure to check out the last item.

This year I'm going to really work to maintain focus on doing what I can do and not putting time and frustration into things that I know aren't going to be possible. With that in mind, here are my current action steps that I plan to carry through the year.


Action Steps:

-Managing My Anxiety: I'm going to be working through the materials from Jane Pike and practicing the skills I learn there. I'm still working on finding a therapist that I gel with so that may happen this year as well. This also involves practicing the skills I'm learning with Katai which will hopefully help with her anxiety.

-Build A Good Team: I've recently found a body work professional that I think is fantastic and we have a vet I really like. I'd like to find someone who does Chiro that I can schedule with as needed and I'm curious about trying PEMF. I also need to find a saddle fitter who can check her saddle and back on a regular basis. You'll note I don't have an instructor on this list and that's because my only instructor options would be a trailer ride away. I'm going to take advantage of any opportunities I have this year but otherwise it's our year for me to get us back to where we were which I'm confident I can do.

-Work Outside: One of the big things I can do to help Katai's anxiety at shows is to spend a bunch of time this year working on getting her more comfortable outside. I finally have access to a wonderful outdoor arena and so many trails. This is our year to really focus on working outside. Plus this is completely free lol



-Continue to work on my Finances: I've made such huge progress with following a budget over the last year or so and I want to continue to work on that. I'm putting a lot of focus into paying down high interest debt and sticking to my budget. I've been pretty good but still go over on food/coffee on a regular basis. I don't go way over but ideally I should have some left at the end of two weeks so my goal is to start to get to that point.

-Build Fitness for Myself and Katai: The main thing I'm going to do is increase what I'm already doing. I'm going to increase my average step count, track calories, ride 2-3 times per week, and do short, easy workouts on the other days with focus on building strength. Specifically for Katai she'll be getting ridden 2-3 times per week (for now) and lunged once per week. As the year goes on I'm hoping to increase the number of rides/works to 5-6 per week. One item I'm really going to be focusing on is building strength and time at the canter.

-Showing up: This is a big one and that's to just keep showing up. To this purpose, one of the things I learned about myself when I was going every day is that I need to just go whenever I can and not to try to stick to a set or specific schedule. That's not to say that I'm only going to go when it's convenient, just that  especially during the winter when the weather could prevent me from going, I need to go every day that I can even if that means that I go 10 days in a row since then there might be 5 days in a row where I can't go. It also means just going even if I'm not feeling motivated or if I'm tired etc. because once I get there I can pretty much promise that I'll feel better and get something accomplished. To hold myself accountable, and share with friends (which I enjoy) I'm going to do two things.

The not funny media, this has just been so helpful!

The first, I'm going to be journaling every ride, body work session, and anything else in the Equilab app. I REALLY wanted to find a way to do something on paper since I enjoy the process of writing but the problem is that it's too easy for me to not have my notebook or journal available when I have the time to write the entry where I always have my phone on me. In addition, there is so much other information I can capture through the Equilab app such as ride data.

Posting a picture of my sister's adorbs cat, Gritty, to signify that
the next paragraph is important since everyone loves cat media ;)

The second, for the next month or so (till the end of February at least) I'm going to experiment with letting this blog sit and doing more with Instagram. That isn't to say that I won't blog anymore ever, just that I'm going to give this a try. It also doesn't mean that I'm just going to keep doing Instagram the way I have been, instead I'm going to add more text, update more often, and add more media including photos and videos. I have friends on Insta that do this really well and I'm curious if this social media platform will work better for me. The reason? I've been struggling to find time and/or motivation to sit down at my computer and put together a blog worth of content. I have things throughout the day that I'd like to update everyone on but not enough to make a whole post. At first I thought it was just because I didn't have content but now, even when I've had more content I'm just struggling to put together a whole post.

If you aren't already following me on Instagram and you're reading the blog please add me to stay up to date for the time being! My Instagram account is @kataipony

If you are following me already or choose to follow me I'd love feedback on this experiment so please let me know what you think. Again, this isn't me ending this blog for the long term, just me trying something else for a bit to see if ti works better for me while still being a good platform for me to keep all of you up to date with all of my pony and personal happenings :)




Saturday, January 18, 2020

Starting Strong

Maybe not on the blogging front but in other areas yes, it's been a great start to 2020. We're in the middle of our first real snow storm of the year so I finally have some enforced down time to put a blot post together!

First, we're mainly moved in on the first floor of our house. The basement needs some serious work (except my tack corner but more on that later) and the upstairs is livable but still a work in progress. We did get our Roomba set up today though so we have that going for us.

Dining room and kitchen looking very adult. 

And then there's my tackroom corner in the basement.

All of the <3 eyes
Also, supplement baggies being made while I watched horse Youtube for entertainment.



I so love having this much organized space for my horse stuff. It also feel slightly insane that I have this much tack in "storage" which completely ignores all the stuff I have at the barn and in my car both of which are more actively in use. This set up is also awesome because it's right next to our washer and dryer and the laundry tub which make tack cleaning easy as well as doing horse laundry.

One big thing that's going to be updated is that the tack locker that I made with my dad is getting moved in probably within the next month or so. It's going to need a coat of paint and some finishing touches but then I'll be rearranging to make use of that space. I'd love to have it at the barn but the last couple of barns that I've been at already have dedicated tack space and didn't allow outside tack lockers so my best option is to have it at home. I'll share updated pictures once I have that set up.

In pony news things are going really well. I've been really focused on utilizing the skills that I'm learning from resources such as the Jane Pike podcasts and it's making a huge difference with how Katai and I work together. We're in sort of a back to the basics and strength building place right now. It could, and would, have felt frustrating but I've been really focused on how much of a different place we're in relationship and communication wise so really it just feels like a huge step in the right direction.

Finding these amazing things that Katai ADORES
probably isn't hurting our progress lol
I've also been so happy to have Katai in a stall again. A week or so ago we had a quick temp drop and I went out in the morning planning to add a blanket and I was feeling bad that she was probably cold. I got to the barn and saw that the barn employee had added a couple of extra layers when she turned out and Katai was toasty warm. I actually got teary eyed. I can also tell that she's getting her magnesium every day and it seems to be making a huge different in her ability to learn and process the work we're doing.

Katai was having a bit of trouble adjusting to the new stall board set up. For whatever reason all of the mares in the pasture she was in previously got along SUPER well and were very close. After moving her to the stall, she was worried and upset for about two weeks and spent a lot of her time trying to convince us that we'd screwed up and put her in the wrong place. I started her on a hemp supplement just to see what happened since I was curious if it would help her high anxiety around the change. She hasn't been on it for long at this point but I'm curious to see if it helps her anxiety in general. She seems to be adjusting better to the stall at this point but I'm not sure that it's related to the new supplement and feel that it's more likely it's related to time.

Rolling time. Now I just need to make some time to clip again to clean up what I did previously and get rid of the awkward hair on her belly and neck since she's in a stall overnight.

She's also scheduled for a massage on Monday to help offset any muscle soreness with getting back into work. I'm curious if she's more or less receptive to the new massage guy this time since she was pretty doubtful last time.

I'm hoping that since moving is quieting down at this point I'll be able to blog more frequently since it feels like I actually have content now that I'm back in a more regular routine!

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019 Discoveries

Something I thought might be fun was to do a post of things that I learned, discovered, or re-discovered over the past year.

Podcasts/Media:
There are some podcasts and other media that I discovered, love, and wanted to share.


The first is Buck Off Banter which Amanda from $900 Facebook Pony recommended at some point. It is FANTASTIC! Not only are they real horse people they are very funny. They share the bad with the good and just enough about their family and non-horse things to feel like you're talking with a friend over a cup of coffee instead of listening to a podcast. 100% recommend.


The second is the Confident Rider Podcast. I actually found this through the Olivia Towers podcast (which I also really enjoy) but while that one is still fairly young and there are a lot of topics that I just don't connect with as much, I LOVE Jane Pike. She talks a lot about anxiety and mind set stuff and I find it really helpful. I've learned more of my current skill set around mental health from her than I did from the therapist I was seeing for awhile. Even if you aren't struggling with mental health stuff at the moment this is a fantastic listen.


The Hackett Equine Youtube channel is my third item for this group. I talk a lot about how much I enjoy Youtube but I also feel like I have a pretty good handle on which channels are out there and which I enjoy. Hackette Equine was a new one for me this year and she's lovely. I definitely recommend if you enjoy equine youtube channels!

Planning:
I got a planner around black Friday and it’s been something I’ve used off and on since then. Recently I think I’ve hit my stride with using this. The main thing I’m still struggling with is how to plan for future rides with all of the variability that entails. Ultimately though it’s more important for me to be able to plan when I’ll be able to ride and for now as long as I have a main theme for my rides on any given week I can always shift around if needed based on the weather or Katai’s behavior. The main thing it’s help helpful with is being able to look ahead and identify which days in the future I won’t be able to ride. That way I don’t miss a ride that I could have made and then realize that I have plans the next evening so suddenly miss multiple days in a row. That had been a huge issue. Visually looking at my month and which days I won’t be able to ride has helped me prioritize to ride on days when I can especially on weeks where my schedule is tighter.

Consistency is Good:
Both with time at the barn and mindset around change consistency feels really positive right now. I’m so tired of being so transient. I’m tired of moving homes, states, jobs, barns, etc. Knowing for the past year that I was going to be applying for and moving to a new job was stressful and applying and interviewing is always stressful and frustrating at times. Moving into a role at a great company that I’ll likely spend at least several years, if not the rest of my career, with is a huge weight off my shoulders.
Now we have our own little house :)
I’ve talked a fair amount about moving somewhere but knew that was less likely when I met my bf. I’ve also dreamed of having my own little farm and I think that thinking about that all the time always had me with one foot out the door at boarding places since it was easy to think about how that would solve all of the little annoyances. Now that we won’t be moving forward in that way it makes it easier to be solution focused with finding a great boarding situation and just staying there. Moving to the house and having a job that I’ll be at for a while also means that I’ll be living in one place and not moving around and therefore won’t have an additional reason to move barns. To me all of this means finding solutions to things like cold winters, hot humid summers, finding a great trainer etc. That’s a good place to be and feels much more settled and relaxing than constantly feeling like I should be picking up and making a big move. Also knowing that my disposable income will increase significantly in the near future means that I’ll have additional options for problem solving. I’ve already been doing this and it’s so nice to just be figuring it out vs. constantly having that foot out the door.

Down Time:
Taking some time off of lessons has been fantastic for me. I was feeling really burnt out after weekly lessons for a year and while I’m 100% confident that’s the quickest way to make progress, at this point as a working adult amateur with a high stress professional career, a new relationship, a new home, and a puppy that’s just too much. I’m looking forward to being able to have more consistent lessons (my goal is once per month or so) but for now this is exactly what I needed. I’ve been able to get my head straight and some of the training that’s needed with Katai is not in the arena but ground work and training items like working with the hose, relaxation and patience training, and being able to get out on trails. While I’m certain that some people could do this with weekly lessons I was just not feeling like I ever had enough time to work on my “homework” much less that I had time to work on these other things.

Pretty sure my boyfriend needs this mug

It’s been good for me and Katai’s relationship to step back, she’s getting more well-rounded, and her ulcer symptoms had completely gone away prior to the move. I contribute the improvement in her ulcers to several things but I’m also fairly convinced that the step back in arena work has helped. We will be slightly stepping this back up again to at least 2-3 days in the arena each week so it’s my goal to keep her tummy feeling just as good.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

2019 Recap

Merry Christmas Eve! There are more pony updates on the way, including a really unexpected and amazing surprise, but I wanted to get this post done first.

I’m going to keep this pretty short partially just because I don’t have a ton of content. I actually thought about just skipping it but honestly, since this is meant to be a journal I think that looking back and reviewing the entire year is actually really helpful for me so here goes.

January Pony Face

January:
I was so excited to be leaving 2018 behind that I started 2019 strong with 9 posts which included sharing my awesome Christmas hauls and lots of goal setting. I’m not quite sure how I posted that much because what I remember about January was that I was sick for at least 3 weeks… I also found out that my trainer, K, was leaving us for the East coast which sucked and immediately threw my plans for the year into a tailspin.

One of the few photos I took in February, seems appropriate

February:
The universe was definitely getting to me and I remember getting sick again. It was also horrendously cold and I didn’t have a heated barn. I didn’t actually post at all this month, one of the few months in the entire life of this blog where I didn’t post.

Tough to believe that it was sunny and decent outside in March! Only a few more months

March:
I bounced back with 5 posts and was doing a lot of processing things with mindset, goals, and my mental health. Some of that showed up on the blog and some didn’t but it definitely had already started to be a big part of my year.

This definitely needed to be a Jen and Connor picture
April:
I only had 3 posts in April but it was definitely one of the best months riding wise. The weather was starting to really improve and I wrote about two “clinics” that I had a chance to ride in. Those were awesome and really set the tone for all of the work I did this year with Katai on relaxation. Back when I was actually able to ride, we were making leaps and bounds of progress on this topic. In addition, my boyfriend and I went to IN to see Jen from CobJockey and got to meet her significant other as well. It was an AWESOME trip where I got to ride Connor and see Jen’s barn which is gorgeous. It really felt like my year was starting to look up horse wise!

Don't remind me of the time when she was missing half her mane :/
May:
In May I posted 4 times and shared my haul from the MN horse expo (which was AMAZING), reviewed some products, and complained about a bad dental experience.

Delicious vegan foods I made myself

June:
I only posted twice in June and not much happened. Mostly I shared more about mindset things and answered a blog hop/questionnaire thing.

One of my favorite pictures of Katai this year



July:
Despite only posting three times, things really started to happen for me in June. If nothing else, 2019 has been the year of focusing on other big personal things and June was really the point where everything started to fall into place. In one enormous post I wrote about getting my new job (which I’m still loving by the way), finding out that we were buying a house, and plans to move my pony. I didn’t know where or when I was moving my pony at that point and neither barn I talked about ended up working out but I had outlined that I was on a waitlist and had determined that it was a goal to move in 2019.


August:
In continuing the theme of not posting much I posted three times in August. The main post in August was that I had found a place to move Katai! Thanks to a friend I had discovered a third option and decided to make the move. I also posted a little about the routine I was working on at that time.

One of, what feels like, very few rides in our new arena so far

September:
September was my second highest posting month thus far with 7 posts. The routine I had set for myself was really helping with motivation and because I was at the barn regularly I had more content. Funny how that works :) The biggest thing that happened was definitely moving to my current barn.

Throughout the rest of the month I really grew to love the social environment at the barn and it continues to be the best barn culture of any barn I’ve boarded at.

Such a regal and gorgeous girl <3

October:
I only posted twice this month because despite all of the lovely things at the new barn and me finally feeling incredibly motivated Katai started having all sorts of little health things cropping up. These prevented me from doing much riding at all in October but I did really buckle down, work hard, and start making progress on treating her for ulcers, thrush, and sensitive feets.


November:
I bounced back and posted 5 times but it was for the bad reason that Katai went horribly lame. Luckily it all turned out to be an abscess but that was after two vet visits, lots of bute, a steroid shot, and lots of paddock rest. It will take a little while for my check book to recover but I’m so so so glad it turned out ok. I remain proud of myself that throughout most of October and November I was at the barn almost every single day. That was a huge accomplishment and really showed me what I’m capable of.

Rather than a picture of a swollen pony leg, how about a picture of Moshy enjoying Lion King :)

December:
With this post I’m at only 5 posts so far for December but that already means that I posted more in 2019 than 2018 which feels like an accomplishment even if I’m still at half of what I was posting previously. I’m honestly really glad to be leaving 2019 behind because even though I accomplished some great things it still feels like I worked excessively hard for everything I did accomplish. Here’s to hoping that all of that work continues to pay dividends and that 2020 is a bright, shining, year of progress!

Mia, one of Katai's buddies

Planted

I'm back for a post or two! I have truly loved moving to Instagram and find it has been so much easier with my general lack of motivatio...