Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Great Name Debate

In a previous post I explained how Katai got her name and was mistakenly named Katai, which means stubborn in Japanese, rather than Kitai, which means harmony in Japanese. I kept the spelling of Katai for several reasons including the fact that I had already named this blog and didn't really want to start it all over to correct the spelling.

I explained all this to my mom and when it came time to ask for Christmas presents the only thing I really asked for was a show sheet for her with her name embroidered on it. I spelled out exactly how I wanted her name spelled and somehow it still got spelled incorrectly on the sheet. I was, and am, disappointed since it was my only present and I really love it in every way other than for the misspelling.

Now it's left me trying to decide if it makes more sense to just use the sheet as it is and risk confusing people on the spelling of her name or just having a new sheet made while using this sheet as a backup. I have toyed with the idea of letting the spelling of her name be sort of optional and if there were ever a time for it to be spelled Kitai rather than Katai it would be at a show where she would be wearing her sheet.

Still haven't really decided...


Myshla Update

So, Myshla is still here and doing very well. She's at a great weight and just needs to shed out her teddy bear fluffies and gain some condition for the summer. This blog was initially going to be about both girls but I am having the exact issue I was worried about. Namely that I have a favorite.

I have a small OCD type issue that no matter how many I have of most things I always have a favorite and that's the only thing that gets any use. All my clothes are this way, I only ever wear one bra or sweatshirt etc., my electronic devices are that way, I only ever use my iPhone despite having an awesome computer and tablet, I always use the same food storage container and so on. It's the reason I try to only have one of each thing because I know it's the only one that will get any use and it's the reason I have tried to only ever have one horse.

Myshla is an absolute sweetheart and I adore her and everything about her. When I first went to see her I initially thought that I had no interest but when I rode her I couldn't stop smiling. I would ideally keep her forever and love her like she deserves. The issue becomes Katai who I found by accident and is basically the horse (pony) I've dreamed about since I first dreamed about having a horse. Of the two she has better conformation for Dressage, she's a little bigger, a little younger and has the personality and attitude that I adore and that would make her an excellent performance horse. I can't sell her.

Even if I emotionally could sell her I don't think I could give her away right now with her lack of training and current behavior issues. Myshla on the other hand would be easy to find a home for.

I know that while I can afford to keep both for now one of the two won't get nearly enough attention and that's just not fair. I also know that when I do need to move I will need to start boarding and I'm just not sure that I can afford to board two horses.

The plan for now is to see if the one person who knows Myshla might be for sale and who I would love to give/sell her to wants her. He still needs to come out and see her so I'm waiting for that to happen and my plans hinge on whether he wants to take her or not. If he doesn't I think my plan is to keep her for the summer and maybe event her :)

When I was in my teens I did some eventing and actually attended a couple of really cool eventing clinics including one with David O'Connor, which I didn't ride in but thought was wonderful and still have notes on. I loved eventing but my horse at the time was spooky and tripped a lot so I started doing more work in the arena and that is actually what led to me doing Dressage.

Since then I've concentrated on Dressage for various reasons but I really do miss a lot of eventing and with Myshla it would be incredibly fun to try out again. I have the money now for all the equipment that I would really need and have more contacts and access to better trainers including one who was just about drooling over Myshla. The last important thing to add is that kind of by accident I learned that Myshla jumps really well, at least with low jumps, and Katai does not. With some more conditioning and practice Katai could possibly be a decent jumper but with her current reluctance to jump at all I can hardly imagine that she would be a good candidate for eventing so this narrows my options down to keeping and possibly eventing Myshla while training Katai who would focus on Dressage or rehoming Myshla and focusing just on Katai.

Big Girl

Today it was windy enough that I wasn't comfortable working outside so I brought both girls in the barn for a second time to groom and have them practice standing tied. Neither one of them has a problem with the wind but I do and days like today make me want to curl up inside with a blanket and watch a movie.

I did have Katai wear her bridle with the new bit for the first time since I got the NS bit and it was a success. She was much less fussy and much more relaxed. I spent a bunch of time grooming both her and Myshla including brushing out tails and clipping manes so they look like neat English horses again rather than fuzzy ponies.

Katai did way better at standing tied today and actually figured out how to eat around her bit which was a huge thing since it means she is starting to relax her jaw a little. It's not something I would normally encourage a horse to do with a bit in their mouth but in my opinion its not bad for them to know they can either.

I did get a couple of pictures of her today so this blog finally isn't as boring. Doesn't she look like a big girl?



Thursday, March 21, 2013

Better Equipment

I was excited to get my recent bonus and so far Katai and my credit cards have been benefiting :-)

Today my Neue Schule bit came from Cheshire horse and I am very impressed and can't wait to try it with her to see what she thinks. Here is a picture comparison of the new bit with the old which was a Korsteel JP.


The JP isn't a bad bit but I've been unhappy with it for a pony that has a low pallet and this picture is a good example of why. The joints, which sit in her mouth the tall way, are almost the size of a quarter and with the large gap I've felt there is a really good chance that she will at some point get her tongue pinched.

 I should also say that I am still not sure whether a bit has a place in my tack box or not. I swore that I would never use a bit with Sora again a few years ago and I'm still trying to decide how exactly I feel about them. They are obviously not natural to a horse but neither is a lot of what we live with on a daily basis and just by asking them to carry us we are asking them to do something very unnatural. I do feel that there are many people who balance bit and bittless riding very well and I do see that they do have their place. However, with all that said I am very sensitive (over sensitive?) to fit and type.

Mostly I am very happy to have a bit that am more happy with and more comfortable having her wear and ultimately if I'm more comfortable with it it can't hurt :-)


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sunday, March 17, 2013

My Little Pony

Look at Katai's new duds!!!

She is going to be fully outfitted in her pony appropriate tack soon. Now I just need a cute matching saddle pad but that needs to wait until I get another good sized paycheck. All this came from the leftover money I had from my bonus after I finished paying my bills and credit cards.

Now I just need a clippers so she doesn't look like a Yak ;-)



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Alone Time

The past week has been pretty quiet and not much has been accomplished with Katai. The temperature has dropped again to below 30 and that's pretty much my limit for training so she's been sitting ie. running around like an idiot playing with Myshla. Last weekend though I did bring her into the stall and tie her for some alone time/standing tied time. She is very clingy and while she walks away from the herd perfectly fine she is not good when she realizes she is alone or if she has to watch them leave her. She has started to look to me when she is on her own which is a huge improvement but it certainly needs some more improvement.

After her initial 10 minute freak out she was quite good and I was even able to make some more progress on her hooves. We are on a 1-2 week trim cycle right now so that I can continue to get her heels trimmed properly. The space of time in between is important too though since she needs time to adjust to her new feet each time especially on the foot with the steep heel angle because while her living sole would suggest that that foot can be around the same angle of the other there is still a reason that she grows more heel on that foot and I would guess that it's because of an issue higher up in her shoulder. The time in between gives her body a chance to adjust in small increments to the different angles.

My barefoot trimmer has been quite impressed with the progress I've made so far. She is from southern Minnesota so I just take a lot of pictures to send her but she has been a valuable resource and is great at critiquing my photos and letting me know if I'm on the right track.

Goal Recap:
I completely failed at meeting my goals for last week but I'll blame it on the weather. I'm going to set a couple of very reachable goals this week in case it's still cold like its supposed to be.

This weeks goals are;

To get some more pictures of my adorable pony so this blog isn't as boring.

Work on her feet again on one of the warmer days

More alone/tied time in the stall

I think next week is supposed to be getting warmer so hopefully we can get back on track with more real training goals then :-)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Goal Setting and Delays

I have decided that in order to help me stay motivated I'm going to start to set weekly goals for now until we've made a bit more progress. For this week the goals go like this;

1. Ground drive at least three times and include wearing the bridle while doing it but without the reins attached.

2. Wear the bridle when possible but I don't want to push this too much until I find a bit that I feel more comfortable with since this one seems huge for her tiny mouth.

3. Work more on desensitizing to the dressage whip

4. Feet, feet, feet. I need to do more trimming and continue to get her heels down.


I'm planning on adding the saddle and doing some riding next week as long as ground driving goes well this week but that all depends on the weather and there lies the crux of the current issue.

It has been far warmer recently which means that it has been in the low 30s consistently :P  It has also been drizzling and or sleeting and with the constant cloud cover all I want to do is curl up in bed. Add to that the fact that with the recent rain there is a thick coating of ice on everything which of course makes footing far too slippery to be safe for much of anything. About half of the arena right now is still snowy enough that its not too slippery but one whole end is like a skating rink so I'm not risking trying to ride and possibly dealing with a lack of steering since we could both end up at that end.

If I can just wait until the ice goes away and get some riding in and get the trailer out of the snow bank so that we can work on loading we could actually get somewhere. I have no doubt that we could get some good riding done now since mostly she just needs time under saddle but first I need the weather to cooperate.


Friday, March 8, 2013

So Much Fun!

I adore this pony :)

We worked on ground driving for the third time today and it was so awesome. She was moving forward without me nagging at all and turning really nice even in small circles. Of course she still isn't great at remaining on a line but even experienced horses have trouble with that. I hadn't planned on trying to trot with her because once I moved up in speed I knew the likelihood of her freaking out as I jogged behind her was pretty high. She was doing soooo well though that I just went ahead and decided to try it out. The first couple of times she would try a couple of steps and then freeze. I LOVE that her way of handling stress is to freeze. It is seriously the best way for a riding horse to handle any situation they are unsure of and I am careful to reward it by letting her whenever I can tell that the freeze is fear or stress based. I actually think that part of her feeling like she was going to rear up under saddle was because in the past she's been pushed when she freezes up.

At any rate, on the third try I got a really nice trot and rewarded it by letting her stand for a little while. We walked a little more and then I decided to try one more nice trot and she was just perfect. I had a nice trot, with steering and she kept going right past her buddy horse with only a slight pause. It was so perfect that I had to use it as a good point to stop and gave her a huge amount of praise and tons of scritches. She just soaks in my verbal praise more than any other horse I've been around. I can seriously see how proud she is of herself.

The plan for tomorrow is to do some more ground driving and this time have her wear the bridle but not hook reins to it. I also need to work on her feet and with the weather we are supposed to be having, freezing rain, we may end up in the barn again doing clipper desensitization and hoof trimming again which wouldn't be bad at all either :)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Progress

Today I was supposed to work at noon but with all the snow we got I wasn't able to get out of the driveway and since this is the first time I've missed a day in the two years I've worked here I didn't feel too bad. I was also excited because it freed me up to work with Katai some more.

I had put her and Myshla in the large stall that they share last night in preparation for the snow storm and had planned on getting them both out this morning but we got a lot of snow and its still coming down pretty hard so I decided to leave them in. However, since working in even a large stall with two ponies would be dangerous I took Mysh out and tied her and kept Katai in the stall. I had been out this morning before I decided I wouldn't be able to make it into work and did her feet since that was the top priority. That meant that I had some options as far as what to work on and since I had limited space I decided it was time for her to wear a bridle again.

She has had one on a couple of times but I have never been consistent enough for her to really be used to it so its time for her to wear it more. I also got a bridle for her for Christmas that I hadn't tried on yet and just yesterday her bit arrived and I wanted to be sure it would fit. I ordered her a 4.5" which was an educated guess on her size since Myshla's 4.75" bit seemed a little loose on her and I was right, the 4.5" fit perfectly.

She always pulls away when I go to put my hand by her ears with the bridle but after that she doesn't fuss very much and today was no different. I got it on and adjusted it a bit so that it sat right in her mouth. I'm sure that as I get more consistent with her and start to put her bridle on more she will get over some of that and eventually things will smooth out.

Once she had her bridle on and buckled up and was loose in her pony safe stall I decided to grab my trimmers and get Myshla's bridle path trimmed. Once I had the trimmers in the barn and had finished with Myshla I realized that it would be a perfect time to start to desensitize Katai to them as long as she didn't freak out too bad in which case I would need to wait until we were outside and had more space.

As it was she did the typical Haflinger thing, she takes after her mom alot, and didn't care at all while I turned it on, rubbed it all over her on both sides and even trimmed some of the long hairs on her neck until suddenly I must have done something a little different and she freaked. It wasn't really a bad freak out but there was a lot of stubbornness behind it so it took me almost half an hour to get back to being able to just stand next to her with it on. The more I read about Haflingers the more I find that this type of behavior is very common. They have good minds and tend to have no issues with new things until suddenly they do lol. It is easy to push too fast because they are calm and steady and then they freak out about the same thing that they were good with a minute ago.

Luckily it was still easier to have the trimmer around her than it ever was with Sora who would have hit the wall if I even tried to turn it on with her in a stall. We ended with me standing right next to her hold the running trimmer and tossing the lead rope over her back on both sides. I'm sure that after a couple more times I'll be back to rubbing it on her and doing some clipping, at least in areas that she's not too sensitive about.

Through that all she wore the bridle very nicely and it was good to have her mind on something else so that she learns to just hold it nice in her mouth while working. She usually has more issues with having the bridle taken off than put on which is pretty normal since if they don't relax the bit hits their teeth on the way out. We have made a lot of progress on this though because every time she's worn the bridle I refuse to take it off and leave it off if she throws her head. Instead I keep putting it back on and taking it off until she relaxes and drops the bit nice. It took her three times today but eventually she dropped it nice rather than flipping her head so we ended on a good note. I put Mysh back into the stall and gave them another chunk of grass hay to keep them busy. Hopefully the snow will stop soon so that I can get them put outside.

The plan for tomorrow is to get up early to get to the gym and then still have enough time to at least have Katai wear the bridle some more and maybe do some more desensitization. Hopefully the Easyboot Fit Kit will get here sometime this week so that I can try that this weekend.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Boots

Last night I ordered an Easyboot Glove fit kit to try with Katai. I would like to get her comfy so that she can heal and I can get her hooves trimmed the rest of the way. At this point she needs exercise and to move on her feet so that they can become strong and healthy. I also want to be sure she is comfortable :)

I have a little more trimming to do but I'll wait until we get our snow tomorrow because that will do a lot to pad her feet and make them comfy until I can get her some actual foot protection.

Pictures will be taken for anyone who is curious about fit or how these boots work.

Gear

I feel like my tack wishlist keeps growing and it has been so completely awesome and freeing to be able to think about having fun/cute/popular tack for my girl. Right now the list goes something like this

People On Horses Dressage boots

I'm getting a set of four of these in one of the pink options because they are SOO pony appropriate.


Custom Mattes Pad


I have ALWAYs wanted a Mattes pad but didn't think I would be able to get one in a size small enough for a pony so when I found out how small they come and that you can get them without the fur under the saddle, since I'm worried it will make my saddle tipsy, I knew I needed one. Now I just need to figure out what part of the pad should be pink :-)

Nice Bit


 I have a nice quality bit coming so that I can start to figure out what Katai likes but I've heard amazing things about these bits and if the one that I just ordered fits and she likes it I will eventually get her one of these which are specifically made for ponies with smaller 10mm mouths for their lower pallets and smaller cheek pieces to fit their smaller heads but with all the features of the nicest horse sized bits.


Pony Sized Shipping Boots





These are completely adorable and useful of course

Of course it will take me awhile to get this stuff and half the fun is just finding cute pony stuff but it is nice to be able to actually think about being able to have some nice stuff.

March Goals

Following in the footsteps of several other bloggers i'm going to start setting goals for each month and following up to see how I did at the end.

With that cleared up ;) here are my goals for March;

1. Get Katai's feet sorted.
I was finally able to get a good trim on both her front feet but since they had been so bad, she wouldn't let me even touch them when I got her, I've been doing things a little bit at a time so there is still some heel I need to take down after I give her frog a chance to adjust to bearing weight again. She is a little tender and I think I'm going to fit her for some boots to help with the transition.

2. Get her ground driving polished up.
Once her feet aren't quite as tender I plan on getting her ground driving to the point where I can trot her around the arena in both directions and do some circles before I climb on her again.

3. Saddle time
Until her steering and stopping are good with ground driving there is simply no reason to do much riding but once she is at that point, hopefully by March 20th, I plan on really starting her work under saddle :)

4. Desensitization
Katai is extremely bold and will march straight up to new things with me at her side but when I approach her with scary stuff she is not as brave. I would like to work on exposing her to more new things and to start walking her around to get her out of the pen and her comfort zone.

Hopefully we can get this accomplished in the next month :)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Mind Set

Is something I constantly struggle with when it comes to really throwing myself into this journey with Katai. I had no trouble doing it properly with my music because my mom made sure we had plenty of opportunities and I have no problem getting the mindset right with my career because I make the opportunities myself but I still can't believe that I can make things happen with Katai.

Part of it is not having those opportunities with horses when I was little. I never had the correct tack, no transportation for our horses so no lessons and no good instructors in the area for lessons anyway.

Don't get me wrong, I am incredibly thankful for the fact that we even had horses. I'm bringing it up just because it is affecting how I think about being competitive with Katai.

I'm hoping that as we go into spring and summer and I have more of those opportunities it will start to sink in. It's also really helping that I'm finally able to afford the right tack. I'm not talking popular tack I just mean tack that fits properly and is appropriate for the type if riding I'm doing. I do have to say that I am very excited to get my custom Mattes pad in pony appropriate colors though ;)

This quote by Ayn Rand is something I just found and feel is appropriate,

"Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplacable spark. In the hopeless swamps of the not quite, the not yet, and the not at all, do not let the hero in your soul perish and leave only frustration for the life you deserved but never have been able to reach. The world you desire can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours."