Wednesday, August 23, 2017


I've been weirdly ambivalent about prepping for this upcoming show. I just haven't put the amount of attention into getting everything together that I have in the past. I think part of it was being out of town for two weeks recently since I feel like I'm just getting caught up in my personal life much less getting show things together.

I also just feel like work has been so nuts that my energy for anything outside of work has been fairly limited. It's not that I won't have things ready, I just won't have it ready as early as I typically do and I've just been putting less attention into it.

I am extremely happy that my ride times are 1:40ish and 2:40ish! No early mornings and not having to deal with the 4-6 hour wait between tests will be fantastic :)

I have been doing important things like painting my toenails pink
(pony solidarity) and washing my lucky unicorn socks of course ;)
I've got my first level test memorized but need a refresher on training 2. I was really hoping my Mattes pad was going to get here but it won't so I'll likely use my black pad since I like that more than the white one. I've just got to swap out Katai's broadband, finish cleaning tack, remember my training level test, and bathe the pony. I also have to decide if I'm going to braid.

Unfortunately it's supposed to be cold and rainy (which I actually prefer to extreme heat) and possibly stormy (which isn't so great). Normally it wouldn't be a huge deal but Katai is tough enough to deal with at a show on a good day that trying to deal with her if it's pouring rain is going to be quite the experience.

I'm also sort of just trusting my pony and I'm hoping it will pay off. I had a meh ride with her in the outdoor arena where she was more tense than I'd hoped she would be at this point. I also know that my standards have gone way up in the last few months so that's part of it. I loaded her the other day and she was really pretty good so I'm sort of trusting that too. The rain won't help but I'm just crossing my fingers and hoping it doesn't rain while we're scheduled for our test or just doesn't rain in general.

Who knows, we might crash and burn but I'm guessing she'll be as good as I ride and I'm really just hoping that she doesn't go backwards after a few months away from the show ring.

Monday, August 21, 2017

What's On The Menu

A couple of people did this sort of post quite awhile ago but I wrote this up and then just sat on it for awhile. I've done some posts in the past I have a few updates so I thought I would post an update about Katai's current diet.

The "Grain":

Katai currently doesn't get any sort of grain beyond a couple handfuls of alfalfa pellets to bulk out her supplements but for the purpose of this post I'm going to include that and supplements in this category.

Smartvite Perform - Katai has been getting this for some time and I really like it as a ration balancer especially since it contains the amount of Magnesium she needs without needing to provide that separately.

MSM Pellets - Every vet I've ever worked with has recommended MSM for performance horses and it's a relatively cheap supplement so I have her on it.

SmartHoof Circulate - This is a new one I'm trying out. I've heard some good things and Katai has always had at least minor hoof issues. This stuff is supposed to help with multiple things so I'm curious if I see any changes in the next few months.

Raspberry Leaf - I'm actually out of this right now but will be ordering another big bag. They last for so long that I forgot how low I was! This is of course meant to help with hormones so I should probably order more sooner rather than later ;)

G.U.T. - This is also a new one that I added when I was concerned about Katai acting like she had ulcers. I also gave her three tubes of Ulcer guard (double the maintenance dose for the most part) and added this. All of her ulcer symptoms went away and my plan for now is to have her on this during show/clinic season and then take her off it in the winter. This is based on the instructions for use allowing for it to not be a constant feedthrough and I feel that it will be most useful when fed during times when she'll be stressed.

Gaps - I'd like to get her back on something specifically for her coat. I'm thinking Omega Horseshine but adding that to my Smartpaks bumps them up above what I'm comfortable spending right now so I may see about adding it when I take her off G.U.T. or if I decide that the SmartHoof Circulate isn't doing anything for her hooves I may swap it out.

The Hay:

Right now Katai is getting almost all alfalfa. I thought it was nuts when Jane mentioned it the first time but I trusted her (she's got a couple of "ancient" horses that look FANTASTIC and are still in full work so I trust that she knows what she's doing) and we started to add it to Katai's ration. Then, as Katai's work continued to increase we continued to increase the % of alfalfa until now she's getting almost all alfalfa and very little grass hay.

Katai's Weight:

Part of why I thought it might be interesting to share this information again is that Katai's weight/diet came up at one of my lessons. Both Jane and I are really happy with how she's looking but don't want her to lose any additional weight. She's been maintaining/losing and getting worked 5-6 times per week. I'm really sensitive to it and didn't notice but when Jane pointed it out I could see it. She's certainly not thin but for her to be able to continue to build muscle she needs to be getting enough groceries and we're right on the edge.

Because of that we've talked about adding a bit of grain. I NEVER thought I'd say that with this pony but here we are and she is working really hard and building muscle. Jane got some higher % alfalfa so we're going to see if that helps and if not we'll be adding some additional feed.

I'm thinking she looks pretty good :)
Speaking of Katai's weight and strength, whenever we're working on something new and working to build her strength I like to make sure that what we're asking is fair. Since I ride a pony and am more likely to face questions/criticism I try to make sure I have a pretty good idea of what percentage she's carrying around. I've always measured her with a weight tape and then weighed myself and my saddle. However, I know that weight tapes aren't that accurate so when I was reminded of the formula you can use to determine a horse's weight I finally checked her that way. 

[(L x L x H)/330] + 50 = weight 
where L is their length shoulder to hip and H is the heart girth measurement

With that calculation and my current weight and the saddle's weight I come in just over 18% of her body weight. When I hit my goal weight I'll be closer to 17% of her body weight. I stick with the 20% rule especially since we're asking her to be fairly athletic but I know a lot of people say ponies are closer to 25%. I've never felt that she struggles with me but sometimes when we're working to build strength it's easy to wonder especially since this is certainly an atypical arrangement for dressage :)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

500th Post!!

I just can't believe that this is my 500th post! I was going to do a recap of my past posts but I'll do that for my end of year posts instead.

This is really more of a celebration of this blog :) I was hoping to have some nice new media, I don't really, but I did get some screen grabs of a ride I did outside at the neighbor's arena.

It would appear that I've posted an average of just over 100 times each year since my 5 year anniversary with this blog and Katai is coming up in a out a month and a half. Stay tuned for more celebratory posts!

So happy with that hind leg!
Starting to feel like I can share canter photos. Also, I really need to listen
to my trainer when she tells me to shorten my reins haha.
Again with that hind leg :)
Slightly BTV, her favorite go to when she's tense in a new place
She's definitely starting to get looser through the shoulder

Flying :)
Love this pony so much

Also, I don't remember if I mentioned that this neighbor has a pot belly pig. She'd warned me that horses are typically terrified of it and the last couple of times I've ridden over there she's put it in the barn. This was the first time it was out when we showed up and Katai made a beeline straight for it. I teased that they bonded over their similar love of eating all the things. She was fascinated and curious and just wanted to hang out by it, not nervous at all.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Blog Hop: Show Gear Goals

I've enjoyed reading the show gear blog posts that have been shared so far and since this is the first year that I really showed (if you can count one schooling show and two shows doing opportunity classes as "really" showing haha) so I thought it might be fun to post on what I have that's working or not working.

What I Have That I LOVE:

  • Most of Katai's tack including;
    • Saddle - Prestige Lucky
    • Bridle - PS of Sweden Flying Change
    • Girth - TSF StretchTec in black 22"
    • Reins - Cheap flat Horze black leather reins
    • Browband - for shows I use the plain black broadband that came with the bridle
    • Stirrup Irons - plain medal irons that I bought cheap ($5!!) second hand
  • Most of my outfit including;
    • Breeches - Full seat white B Vertigo from Horze
    • Show shirt - from EGO7 in grey
    • Jacket - Equiline navy blue  bought second hand from Amanda at $900Facebook Pony)
    • Stock Pin - gifted from a friend
    • Stock Tie - from Etsy with little polka dots :)
    • Helmet - OneK in black matte
    • Gloves - Roeckl gloves in black with white binding

What I Have That Should Be Replaced:

  • Brown stirrup leathers - not a big deal since they're really dark leather but I'd really like to get a black pair to match my saddle
  • Neue Schule bit - I want the same exact one (4.5" Eggbutt pony performance bit), it just needs to be replaced since it's getting chewed up

Things I Plan to Upgrade or Upgraded Since The Last Show:

  • Saddle Pad - I don't love the black saddle pad I have (especially with the little crown logo on it) and really didn't like the white one so I've got a grey Mattes pad on the way :)
  • Hairnet/bun holder thing - I have a ton of hair and it went all over the place at my last show. I already ordered a net so that I can put it in a bun and keep it all in place.
  • Boots - Big expensive item so I'm not sure when this will happen but I would like to get dress boots here at some point
  • Gloves - At some point I'll upgrade to white gloves, still Roeckl since they're all I can stand to ride in
That's it for now! At some point I'll likely get another jacket since it's getting slightly loose on me and of course I'd like to pick up another show shirt and another pair of white breeches but with how seldom I showed this year it just seems unnecessary at this point. I'm going to guess that I'll also need spurs at some point but they certainly wouldn't be helpful right now.
Or I could get boring cheaper boots for
showing and fun boots for schooling!!!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Back On Track: Lesson Recap 8/15

Back on track from a lesson schedule perspective, way ahead of where I thought we'd be at this point.

Hopefully I can get better media soon!
I've never been one to think that taking more than one lesson per week would be helpful for me. I like to work on things between lessons and I enjoy time to get my "homework" done. I'm also a really independent person so I enjoy that time that I can work on my own. However, after just having 4 lessons in 10 days I can certainly say that we made more progress than we would have in that time otherwise.

This lesson was already pushing the boundaries and taking a step towards developing a second level balance. We worked on half halts, and "making the bend happen" rather than spending the entire lesson developing the appropriate bend. We also practiced our trot/canter transitions and getting the same quality of trot before and after the transition, did a few SI in each direction, stretchy trot circles, serpentines, and lots more sitting trot while asking for push from behind.

Not sure if I shared this yet or not. Katai doesn't think her
ears can go forward with her bonnet on. Poor pony, so tortured
We're definitely a work in progress (of course) but Katai really stepped up to what we were asking of her. She got tight a few times and definitely had more moments where she said no or questioned what we were asking than she has had but overall she was really fantastic. Plus those moments were few and far between and were just her locking up at the wither rather than rearing or flailing which is huge progress.

The canter trot transitions are what I'm happiest with. Of course fundamentally dressage is about making the horse more rideable and those moments where Katai has the skills and knowledge to do what I'm asking, when I'm asking, in the way I'm asking without any flailing are the moments I LOVE. The canter transitions are starting to really get there. I can sit down and ask and she just goes into canter, no muss no fuss. It's not always brilliant but it is soft and rideable which is also HUGE progress for both of us.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The S Word: Lesson Recap 8/13

First, no we're not talking about sex.

Second, yes I totally did fall off the face of the planet for a few days. Namely so that I could binge watch a few tv shows (OMG I'm loving the second season of Quantico!!!) and spend LOTS of time listening to Bon Iver's new album which I'm unusually addicted to. Which is saying something because I'm already very addicted to Bon Iver.

Third, if you're counting I have had a bunch of lessons over the past week or so. I pay for lessons with Jane as part of my board and she's amazingly generous about rescheduling even when it's on me that I couldn't make my lesson in the first place. Because of that I had a lesson last weekend, last Tuesday, this Sunday, and I'll have another lesson tomorrow on Tuesday. Then we should be back on track.
Wishing her rider would just stop with the pictures already
This lesson Jane wanted to have me run through a couple of tests. She was using an old test book so it wasn't accurate to what we'll be doing but similar movements and it was good for me and Katai to have to think on our feet and just follow her directions without much prep. I'll be memorizing the tests I will be riding (Training 2 and First 1) over the next week or so and then we'll be able to practice those instead.

First we did First level test 1. Honestly, it felt a bit easy. At home, of course, we're schooling much more complex things so riding through the test felt simple. The toughest thing is still the center line and Katai is so wiggly that she wants to throw her haunches left in the worst way possible at the halt.
Literally this...
She's also not a fan of me picking up contact in the walk but overall it wasn't too tough. Then Jane read another test and I found out after that it was First test 2 which apparently was a dreaded test before they changed it. It did feel like things were coming up fast and the lengthening in the canter for half the long side down to trot right after felt tricky. It happened though, just not as smoothly as I'd like. However, we aren't doing that test so something to worry about for next year haha.

We had done quite a bit of warming up with lots of bendy work to start so after the second test we called it a day. At that point Jane and I spent a lot of time talking. We discussed how amazing it is that we've come as far as we have in such a short time and how much fun we're having working with each other. Then Jane said that our project for the winter is working on second level!!!

Blurry but proof that pony really
enjoys black licorice after our rides :)
Of course that's the next step, it's just that this will be our first show at First so I honestly wouldn't have been too surprised if the plan had been to work on firming up First over the winter and just dabbling at 2nd. The fact that Jane want's to start prepping us to show Second next year (even if it's towards the end of the show season) is so freaking exciting to me!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Oh Gingersnap! Blog Hop: Change

I was going to blog about my lesson yesterday but honestly it's pretty boring to blog about. K, my fellow boarder's, horse was having a bad day so she was riding Jane's baby horse that evening which meant that we had a slightly different lesson than is typical. I was actually appreciative since my brain felt like mush and the relatively easy (mental) work was good for both of us. Especially since we just did a LOT of bending and stretching which was really good for Katai after two weeks off.

Anyway, on to the blog hop.

I LOVE this picture!

T asks: Have you at some point moved on to a different horse, trainer, stable, etc with the purpose of advancing your progress? What made you realize the time was right for a change? Or did you opt to adjust your goals in order to stay with what you know is working? How did either choice work out in the long run?

For me the short answer is yes, I've sort of done both. The last time I really needed to make this decision with a horse was with Loki. 

Loki was pretty much the perfect horse. He was a 15.2 hand percheron/arab cross gelding that was probably around 5-6 when I got him and around 14-15 when I eventually sold him. However, for pretty much that entire time we disliked each other. He was a good boy and I tried to make him happy and was really sweet to him but we just never were a good match. 

I was probably 19 or so here
Eventually I ended up selling him to a beginning rider who he was perfect for. I wished that I'd made the decision sooner and now I feel very strongly about having a horse that I really love and connect with as my primary mount. This was based on just never really connecting with him though and not on whether or not I could continue to make progress with him as he was certainly talented enough for me to have made progress on at the time.

There used to be so much sass with this one!
I've also made the decision to change programs (a couple of times). I'd say that the majority of the first couple years with this blog were trying to decide if Katai was the right horse for me or if changing trainers/programs was what I needed to do. Of course you all know where I've ended up now.

How at least 90% of my rides used to look
In this case, with Katai, it was the program (and having one that put the focus on me) that made the difference. J and L were honestly both top notch trainers. J has her gold medal and is a USDF certified instructor with some very successful students. Just because I don't like her methods doesn't mean that she doesn't get results. 

Too bad I don't have more of these pictures because this was Katai's way of going all. the. time. before
Or, of course, she'd just stop and rear or run sideways. Oh boy was that ever fun...
L is also a great instructor and gave Katai and I a great base to work with as well as taking Katai from pretty much unridable to just unreliable. However, I didn't actually start having fun and making progress until I found Jane who, arguably, is the least well known instructor that I've ridden with. 

and she's going even better now!
I'm also a HUGE proponent of owning a horse that you really enjoy because we just spend way too much time and money in this sport for that to not be the case. However, I never really struggled to connect with Katai it was just that she seemed like such a work in progress that I couldn't really see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I would say that these moves and or change in horses were never made specifically so that I could make progress up the levels but were more so that I could have more fun or connect to the horse I was riding. Early on with Katai I also let my doubt nearly get the best of me a few times (it didn't help that J flat out told me that Katai wouldn't ever be worth anything) and really had myself convinced that Katai was going to fail at dressage. However, with some more patience, more work on my position, more consistent riding schedule, more strength for Katai, and a different mindset now that's no longer a concern for me. Of course this is helped by the fact that I don't have lofty competitive goals and don't participate in a sport where a certain level of athleticism is required just to participate at the beginning levels.

I guess I'm not advocating that anyone keep a horse that they aren't enjoying or that isn't meeting their goals. Just sharing that sometimes that journey can take a little longer or be a little bumpier than others.