Thursday, December 14, 2017

Intention - Blog Update #1

She looks somewhere between adorable and
possessed in this picture so of course I had to share
Well guys I certainly had no intention of taking that sort of break from blogging! I feel like this year was even a longer break than last year and last year I was dealing with some pretty serious seasonal depression. This year, very happily, the reason(s) I haven't been blogging are very happy for the most part.

Because there is just so much going on and a fair amount happening with Katai I figured I would do a couple of update posts rather than trying to fit it all in one and then be in a good place to recap 2017 and start 2018 strong!


So, to start the update, awhile ago I had mentioned three exciting things I had in the works that I couldn't share yet. One of those didn't really go anywhere yet but will soon and that's that I'll be moving early next year and was hoping to move much closer to the barn. I had started to look for apartments but realized that it was still so early that it didn't make sense to look.

First bath today <3
The second thing was my friends moving to the barn. As of end of October they're all moved in and things are setting back down there. I'm really enjoying having them there and luckily it's a great combination of having people around but still having the arena to myself on a fairly consistent basis. In fact, if I had my druthers I'd probably want them around a bit more than they are which is a good problem to have.Not only am I enjoying having them there but they're LOVING the barn and Jane's instruction. All three of them have said that they're enjoying riding again and loving the program and the setup of the barn. I'm really happy for them and glad that I could help them find a great place to move to.


The third thing is, of course, my new puppy Mashiara or Moshy for short. She is absolutely the best puppy in the entire world and I'm totally head over heels in love with her. Anyone who follows me on Instagram (and if you don't you should since I'm more able to quickly post there) has seen her in all of her adorable cuteness already.

I've LOVED every minute of having rescue dogs but they do come with baggage and I've always wanted a puppy at some point. I have no doubt that I'll mess some things up but it is nice to not need to deal with set in behavioral stuff right from the beginning. It's also AMAZING how quickly she picks things up! She already sits on cue, knows her name, and has a MUCH more reliable fetch than Veggie does. She's also good with stuff like nail clipping and bathes which I'm working hard to not mess up. I guess I sort of didn't think she'd be this trainable since Chihuahua's are typically fairly stubborn little dogs that weren't exactly bred for obedience but so far (knock on wood) she's been really easy to train. I've got her signed up for a puppy class already and now I'm also sort of thinking about continuing with a few basic obedience classes after that puppy class is done.

She's very helpful with Christmas preparations

Of course all of these things have distracted me from blogging and, as mentioned previously, Katai and I had gone through a rough patch and are just in an in-between sort of time with riding where she needs more strength and to change her way of going and those aren't quick things. Because of that I just didn't have as much to blog about which wasn't inspiring me to find the time to sit down and blog.
Contemplating what to do with a toy that large
I have one more thing that's been distracting me from blogging and that's a relationship. I'm not someone who's particularly private and I know I've shared relationship things, both good and bad, on here in the past but this time I'm keeping it more private. What's important is that I'm really happy right now and spending a lot of time with this person. I've been more focused on that and continuing to ride and manage a new puppy and still (STILL!) stressful work days that blogging just needed to take a back seat.
A little blurry but proof of how good the Vegetable has been.
I think this was her second day home.
I can't promise that it's going to get much better over the next few months but I do want to close out the year as strong as I can. I'll have another update soon about more of what Katai and I have been up to!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Rhythm: Lesson Recap 11/21

I had a great walk at the Frontenac state park with my family  on Thanksgiving :)
I still have so much catch up that I'm going to try to do. Again, sorry for the lack of blogs recently but life has been crazy. Especially since the end of October things have been looking up (other than my back) which is so nice.

Katai has been back to her normal self except that she feels like she's lost some strength which sort of sucks. I'm not sure if she's just that sensitive that any muscle soreness sets us back, or if this is normal, or if it's just that my expectations are growing faster than her strength is increasing. At any rate, Jane isn't at all concerned and again I'm so glad that I have an instructor that I really trust and who's been through all of this in the past.

At any rate, on Tuesday for my lesson we started out with a very stiff pony. Not only had I not been riding as much since my back was hurt but she was also horribly in heat with the additions of two geldings in the barn. Because of that we started off doing a bunch of walk and at the walk we did some turns on the forehand and lateral work. Then once we went to the trot it was all about the lateral work. We did some nose-to-the-wall leg yields as well as some from the center line to the wall. We also worked on shoulder in.
More puppy pictures!!! She's 8 weeks as of today :)
For the shoulder in we focused on helping me get the timing right to really get her inside leg under. That was partially helping to continue to educate me as a rider and partially setting us up for the canter later.

With all of the lateral work she really loosened up and started to move like her normal self but she never really worked into the HUGE trot that we've been getting recently. Finally we worked on the canter. Our goal was to really get her to step under with her right leg because she's definitely weaker on that leg. To set us up for that we worked on either doing shoulder in or counter bending her to activate that leg and then asking for the transition. Jane also had me ask her to come back to trot as soon as she lost the rhythm which was really tough for me to find. It's funny because I can get the rhythm at the trot but I have a tough time keeping her at the same rhythm sometimes and at the canter I just can't feel it.

Homework is for me to practice feeling/hearing the rhythm of the footfalls and to bring her back as soon as she looses the rhythm. I'm really looking forward to working on this! I feel like it's the next step and I feel like I really know now what I need to work on.

Monday, November 20, 2017

No Clip November

Turns out my mare bear is pretty good at no shave November :)

Soooo fluffy!
She's also extremely in heat probably since there are a couple of new horses at the barn and these newest two are boys. Cue lots of flirting for my little sass of a mare or as Jane would call her, "a tartlet".

The boy she is most interested in is a horse that I rode a few times for my previous instructor L. He's now up for sale after showing that he preferred jumping to dressage and so he's at Jane's as an in between barn while they get him to where he's eventually going.

The tall horse himself. 
In other news, I don't know if I mentioned that Jane finally sold her young horse. Strangely enough this guy is her half brother and they look a lot a like so I've already confused them at least once.

Luckily, despite Katai being extremely in heat we actually had a great ride tonight and I'm looking forward to my lesson tomorrow!
I've started to add more poles to our lunge work including
at the canter. This weekend I raised the pole for the first time.
Clearly we're kind of a big deal jumping wise ;)

Friday, November 17, 2017

Benched

How we stay warm in MN.
Please forgive my very clashy outfit
I have no idea what I did but I somehow ended up injuring my back this past weekend. At first I thought I had just pulled a muscle but it got worse by Tuesday so I rescheduled my lesson for Friday. Then I felt way better on Wednesday but didn't go to the barn because I had other plans. On Thursday I felt the worst that I had so, like any true horse person, I went to the barn.

To be fair, I did feel a bit better by the time I decided to leave and decided that worst things worst, I could just lunge. I did end up riding but probably shouldn't have. I kept it pretty short but did a bit of walk, posting trot, sitting trot, and canter to see if I would be able to do a lesson on Friday. I was on the fence by the time I left the barn and when I woke up just as sort today I decided to try to push it out until Sunday afternoon.

Just to balance out my whining, here are the newest puppy pictures :)
She's officially booked for a flight on 12/6!
I've got my fingers crossed that I feel well enough by then to have my lesson but if not, I'll have a lesson on Tuesday next week which isn't that far away now.

It's really unfortunate timing because Katai was completely over whatever had been bothering her and we'd had a great ride last Sunday, a great lunge on Monday, and at my ride yesterday she was sooo good despite my gimpyness.

I seriously have felt like this year just won't give me a break. I have a few exciting things going on in my personal life but it's felt all year like I'm taking 3 steps forward and 2.75 back. Hopefully I can end the year strong and I'm already looking forward to a fresh start in 2018.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Ok, Who Stole My Pony

She's not convinced that it's her color but I always
make her carry my jacket around after we finish.
Recently it sort of felt like someone stole my sweet, angelic pony and left a demon pony in her stall haha. Over the last few days I have even more reason to think that someone replaced Katai with a different pony.

A few days ago I went to spray, leave in conditioner on her mane by putting it on a brush and brushing it through. Anyone who's been following my blog for awhile will know that Katai has ALWAYS been terrified by the spray bottle. I've tried everything I can think of to get her used to it and over the past few months I gave up, deciding that it just wasn't worth the fight anymore.

She's the cutest
This time though when I went to brush the stuff on her mane she didn't react at all. Then I went for it and sprayed more on the brush when I was standing right next to her. Still no reaction, nothing, not even a twitch. I got so far as to spray it right on her tail which I've NEVER been able to do with her before.

Seriously weird.

Then today I tried it again, same thing and still no reaction at all. I again used the brush to put the spray on her but sprayed it right on her tail. I'm planning to work from her and maybe, just maybe, work up to actually spraying the product directly on her. That would be so fantastic!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Culprit(s)

My very first riding instructor always had her students hand walk their horses at least
5-6 times around the arena both before and after the ride.
That habit has stuck with me so I hand walk instead
of riding for part of my warm up and cool down.
I know that I don’t need to diagnose exactly what’s happened with Katai. However, I’d like to figure it out so that I can avoid it happening again and it’s just the way that my, slightly obsessive, brain works.

My first thought was ulcers she wasn’t showing any symptoms and she’s been showing textbook symptoms anytime that they’re bothering her. It stayed in the back of my mind but it didn’t seem to make sense to treat for them when she wasn’t showing any of the symptoms that she does normally.

My second thought was saddle fit. My concern was based on an observation from Jane when I first got my re-adjusted saddle back from the fitters. I thought it looked ok but Jane thought it might be slightly narrow. Katai is normally SO honest and didn’t react negatively to it at all so I went with it but it also was hanging out at the back of my mind. However, when she first started being impossible she also wasn’t reacting to her back being poked and prodded so I don’t think that initially caused it either.
 
So tough to get pictures of her without her following me around.
This one is a little weird but at least you can see her in her pretty quarter sheet :)
Instead I think what happened is that we pushed pretty hard for every ride for a week. It wasn’t that I wasn’t asking for stretchy/relaxed rides but Katai just wanted to run so I spent lots of time half halting and then pushing her forward. I was trying to make my decision but still help her use up some energy. I think that likely was coupled with the colder weather and the last bad heat cycle of the year.

Then she had a couple of rides where she was literally acting like a stone lama and was SO STIFF and hollow. I think that did cause her muscles to be sore. In addition I escalated more than I should have for one of those rides. That caused her to escalate and then shut down.

For the past week, since that lesson, I’ve been riding very gently and treating her like glass. I’ve been very focused on not escalating and making rides fairly short and easy so she feels like she’s got this and can gain some confidence again. It’s definitely a fine line though and in my lesson this week Jane helped me really finish putting the pieces back together and we started pushing her more again while still maintaining that patience and gentleness in my riding. I carried a whip again but only needed to tap her once and after that we moved on.
 
Right after I rode I was petting her neck and found a knot.
Her expression always clearly tells me when
I find one and she leans into me as I work on them
Not only did we push her to actually do the work but we also added a tough new exercise of half pass (from shoulder in) to the quarterline, a couple of straight steps, and then back to the wall in a leg yield. I won’t say it was pretty but we did get it done which certainly wouldn’t have happened earlier this year or last week haha. There were definitely sullen pony moments but overall she was really good and I was really pleased.

Our biggest homework is the canter. I used to have huge canter anxiety but thanks to Katai it’s been nearly 100% cured. However, the pony from last week was terrifying me at the canter a bit. She had a hump in her back but if I put leg on she’d just stop and stand there with her ears pinned back. She was also trying to bolt and didn’t want to be told no which is unusual for her. At my lesson this week we’d already asked for a lot so we didn’t do much canter but what we did was closer to lateral than it’s been for a while and just felt sort of weak and stiff. I think that mainly I just need to do more canter for the next week and hopefully we'll be right back to where we were. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

If the Broom Fits

Well, I didn't end up dressing up for my Halloween lesson but if I had I would have totally dressed Katai as a witch...

This year
Goals for next year


She was just as bad, if not worse, for this ride with Jane as she has been for the rest of the week. I was SO GLAD that I had Jane there to help me and make sure that it wasn't just me. I knew that some of it was me but I also needed to know what to change and how since I had run out of tools.

Jane was able to be really helpful but even she commented on how horrible Katai was being. Honestly if I didn't know better I'd say that she'd run out of Magnesium because she's acting more like she used to when she wasn't getting that. I suppose it wouldn't be unheard of for something to be off with her supplements but I trust Smartpak so I really doubt it. Both Jane and I are thinking that it's the change in the weather combined with a bunch of new horses in the barn and a new routine.

I'm really hoping that it is just that and that she decides to return to normal sooner rather than later. I won't even go into much about tonight since it wasn't as though we really made any progress beyond ending with a slightly looser pony than we started with. Very telling was that she was really sweaty around her ears and on her neck despite the cold and the fact that she really didn't work that hard or for that long. I really think it was just where she was mentally tonight.

She's looking cute since she got a spa day yesterday but that's about all I have that's positive about where we are with our riding and dressage progress at this point haha. Along with the spa day I had a challenging (but better) ride yesterday only because I literally didn't ask for anything and just bombed around while my new fellow boarders rode around with us.

Just as I hoped it was great to have them there and is still motivating me to go to the barn despite current pony/human relations being so challenging :)

Also, more puppy pictures for your daily dose of cute!!





I can't believe that she'll be 5 weeks old this week! Only about a month left before she comes home :)