Saturday, May 18, 2013

Dressage Pony

I wish I wish I had taken pictures today!! I pulled Katai out between storms after spending the rest of the morning cleaning the barn, groomed her and got her ready to lunge. The place I have been lunging was mucky so I took her further out in the field and lunged her going in both directions.

She was releasing and trotting really nice in both directions so I hooked up the side reins and started her out to the left. I was thinking it would take at least a couple of minutes before she again realized that trotting with her head low was more comfortable but she got it instantly! She was completely awesome so after a couple of minutes I changed directions and sent her to the right and she got it instantly on that side too.

Sue is such an incredible horse. She gets all this stuff so quickly and has just the right amount of spirit and heat to her. To make her fun without being too naughty. I completely adore her and I think she's finally starting to realize it :)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Oh Well

It seems that I lost the video :( I can view it on my phone but not upload it so it certainly isn't going to work for my blog.

So, I will summarize.

I was very proud of her at the beginning and the end. At the beginning when I was lunging her she released on her stuff side and lowered her head as she trotted and it was AWESOME! I was truly thrilled and it shows what some correct work can do.

Towards the end of when I was riding her she was calm and relaxed and listening to me really well. I rode for quite awhile and she did very well overall.

It was the moment about two minutes into our ride that wasn't pretty. It was partially my fault because I could tell she was getting a little crabby but I didn't do enough to change that. She had her ears back and then reared up and spun in a complete 360. She didn't rear very high and when she came down she just stood like she was surprised either that I was still on or that she was facing back in the same direction that we started in. Then the thoroughbreds took off right past the arena. She actually was pretty much holding it together but after her behavior I just didn't want to risk it so I dismounted, calmed her down a minute and then led her back to the mounting block. We were both pretty tense for awhile but relaxed and eventually got some good work done.

As I said in an earlier post there was more good than bad but it had a rough start and then with her behavior in the barn it ended fairly rough as well.

I was very proud of her yesterday though. I worked her on the lunge in side reins with them short enough to count for the first time and she was great! They were still nowhere near tight but they did encourage her to lower her head and she was starting to work through her back a bit when I decided to stop on a good note.

Today I fully intended to work with her all day but I was so stressed at work and had so much to do that I stayed late and when I got home I just felt like taking a nap. Instead I groomed her and we spent some quality time grazing together. Tomorrow I have a party after work so I won't have a chance to work with her but this weekend I'm hoping to ride again.

Hopefully this time we can keep all four feet on the ground :)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Update

I'm still working on the video but I had to share this. It's just sooooooo true!



Monday, May 13, 2013

An Awesome Day


I was going to title this post an awful day but the more I thought about it the more I realized that it had really been a good day.

Point one: No one died,..... just kidding but it is a good point.

Point Two: No one really got hurt. My arm may beg to differ but its really not a big deal.

Point Three: More went right than went wrong

Point Four: I "cowboy'd up" and did what needed to be done even if I was nervous to do it.

I actually got a video of the whole ride today and am working on downloading a program to edit it so that will be included in a future post but I wanted to share what I could for now.

I had been psyching myself up all day to be ready to get home and ride. I had actually planned on working on getting her to trot but as I fought the wind to get to my car from work it just didn't seem like a good idea. In fact, by the time I got home I had convinced myself that maybe I shouldn't ride at all. My first success was convincing myself to be brave and ride anyway.

There was a lot against me with the Thoroughbreds out in the pasture for the first time, surrounding the arena,  the wind and the fact that I just haven't ridden Katai that much but I can't always just wait to ride untl everything is perfect so I knew I needed to just do it!

She was actually amazingly good except for an interesting moment at the beginning that I will include in the video. She really didn't fall apart until after the ride when I tied up in the barn. She stood well at first but I saw that she had a gouge near her hoof and went to get some first aid supplies. When I got back out she was starting to get crabby about being tied but allowed me to doctor her foot without really loosing it. I got her groomed and went to pick her feet out and she was being a little brat. She would pick them up but flail them around and wasn't holding still for even a micro second. One bad instant with the hoofpick and it was jabbed into my arm. Not awesome

The best thing was that I already had my first aid supplies for her and I use this awesome stuff that is basically Neosporin for horses including the pain relief. I had just brought it out for Katai's injury, remember? I adore this stuff and can now say authoritatively that it does relieve pain.
 Katai was clearly being naughty with her feet but it was at this point that she really fell apart and it was all really on me. I have issues when I hurt myself. The rational normal part of my brain goes "oops I hurt myself. Oh well, no biggie." and I go right back to what I was doing. For some reason though some part of my subconscious starts running in little circles shouting "I'M GOING TO DIE, I'M GOING TO DIE" and I faint and sometimes throw up. Sora knew this and several times ended up standing next to me while I lay on the ground half conscious and I trusted her to do so and not hurt me but I don't trust Katai that way yet. I had picked Katai's other foot and was scolding her for flailing and when I stood up I almost went right back down again. Unfortunately I'm used to this and went to lie on the feed bin until I could recover and Katai decided she couldn't be patient anymore and just lost it. She was rearing, pulling, flailing, dancing, pawing and basically doing everything she could to tell me that she was NOT going to put up with being tied anymore.

For about ten minutes there was nothing I could do unless I wanted to faint under her so I just let her dance. She was tied in a very safe area in a very safe way and although accidents can always happen she was in about as good of place as she could be. Besides, untying her wasn't going to do anything exept teach her that being a nervous wreck was the best way to be untied.

I eventually recovered enough to go check on her, I could hear her the whole time and kind of see her back and head, but I just let her fuss. I finally decided that she was going to be at it all day and I didn't want to leave her and risk having her injure herself so I tried a new tactic. Whenever she reared, pulled back or stood back at the end of the line I tapped her on the butt with a lunge whip while I hid around the corner.

She did quickly give up that stupidity but still wasn't calm enough where I was willing to let her go. She was sweating a bit at this point but nothing alarming. So far my tying tactics have been working and tonight was the first time she's really been naughty in about a month. Originally she didn't even know how to tie and really flipped out when I first expected her to stand still while tied.

She did finally quiet down enough that I untied her and put her back in the pen but it really wasn't the way I wanted to end my day with her. She had mostly been very good and that whole fuss ended up getting her punished and ignored. I know it was necessary but I still don't feel good about it.

I keep reminding myself that I only punished the bad behavior when it occurred, early on when I was was riding and later when she was naughty while being tied, and otherwise was very kind and encouraging. She was rewarded for every good thing she did and even got a treat when she paused for a couple of minutes and stood nice in the middle of her tantrum. However, the perfectionist part of my brain is still upset about the issues more than its happy about the successes.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy "pony" Mothers Day!

I actually have pictures for my blog! Katai was excellently well behaved today for my version of "mothers day" :) I love her in her cute pink tack! I have matching bell boots too but it was chilly and windy and I wasn't sure it was the day to introduce new tack.



Saturday, May 11, 2013

Just Add Water

You know those toys you used to play with as a kid where you would put them in a bowl of water and they would "magically" increase in size? Well it feels like that is what is happening with Katai.

About two weeks ago when I went out in the morning to feed Katai it looked like she had put a lot of height on in the rear end area but since it is very uneven where she was standing I wasn't really able to tell. The next day when I brought her in to the barn where we have concrete floors it was apparent that she was in the middle of a huge growth spurt. Her butt was easily more than an inch higher than her front end. She was stuck like that for more than a week but yesterday when I saw her I noticed that she looked more even and indeed she had, overnight, grown more than an inch of wither and is more level across than she has been in awhile even if the rest of her front needs to do some catching up still. Now today she looked butt high again. Oye...

I didn't really think much about it other than to be really excited that she was growing a bit more especially since she will be six this year. She was around 13.1 when I bought her which is right on the low end of what I'm comfortable with since anything smaller than that and I start to look too big. When I measured her during the middle of her growth spurt she was closer to 13.2 hands and now is pushing 13.3 which is absolutely ideal. However, when I lunged her it wasn't just the size that had improved. She has a HUGE, ENORMOUS, BIG GIRL TROT! to go with that extra growth. Her suspension is so much different than when I bought her and her stride was just gorgeous. She was really sitting back and using her hind to propel herself and looked like she was having fun showing off. I was insanely impressed and if cookies were what she was looking for she certainly hit the nail on the head. I'm sure the conditioning I've been doing has something to do with it along with the fact that she trusts me more and is more relaxed and can actually concentrate on her job now.

The other huge improvement is in her feet. She is finally sound in our rocky arena! Her hooves have toughened up a lot compared to when I brought her home and her frogs are looking so much better. We do have a ways to go still which takes me to my next point.

After reading a recent article in EQUUS about how stride effects hooves and after spending a whole night catching up on Rockley Farms blog posts I am more convinced than ever that the cause of Katai's right hoof is her balance/one sidedness.  Just as those sources mentioned her left foot is squashed from extra weight and her right side hoof is more upright and has a very contracted heel. On top of that she is very clearly uncomfortable moving to the right on the lunge and when I first got her she refused for almost a week to even travel that way.

I have been working on this with her but until I read that article last week I was only casually trying to improve her balance going right. Now I am really starting to work her going to that side and I can tell a difference. She is starting to balance better and after warming up and loosening up I'm actually getting some good work to that side. I will be interested to see what changes as she continues to work and improve her flexibility and balance. I am also considering trying to find a chiropractor that would be willing to come out here to the middle of nowhere to work on her since I would not be surprised if that were part of the issue.

Finally, after our nice ride this past week I haven't been able to climb on again. At first I was trying to be nice and not ride her more than necessary in the middle of an unbalanced growth spurt. Secondly, my roommate and her boyfriend are up North camping all weekend and they are my support crew as far as riding safely is concerned. Riding a green horse without having someone on speed dial in case I become injured is not something that I am comfortable with so lunging it will be until Monday.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Summer

Is finally here :)

Katai got to go out in her baby pasture today and she was beautiful to watch running along the fence line and on the hills. She finally settled down to graze and seemed to like that even better.

It was cool to see how independent she is. She would get to the end of her pasture where she couldn't see any other horses and the thoroughbreds started calling her. She just lifted her head, went pffft, literally, and went back to exploring or grazing. It certainly made me laugh.

Before she went out I worked on her hooves since it was another hoofday-tuesday. They are looking good and she was finally being patient while I worked on the back ones which was a huge improvement. I'll have pictures to share, hopefully soon. I also did a bunch of grooming to help with spring coat removal. I got a nice sized pile and should soon be able to build another pony.

Tomorrow should be hooves again but I may lunge instead.

I'm so glad that summer is finally here!!!





Sunday, May 5, 2013

Important Details

I finally got something extremely important figured out.

Katai's colors are Navy and Pink!!!

















In other news, the reason the saddle and pad were in the barn today, normally I store them in the house, is because I rode!!! She was excellent and it was her first real ride in her Dressage tack. We were both clean and neat and I would have loved pictures but I figured out after I climbed on that there wasn't anyone around. If I had known that when I went out there I never would have even ridden since I never ride when there isn't someone that can run for help but it all worked out.

Katai did way better than last time I rode and I pushed a little bit more than I have in the past. She is still young enough that she easily feels overfaced and tends to march along as a happy little pony until all of a sudden it gets to be too much and she blows up. I'm starting to find that line where it overwhelms her though which helps alot. The biggest issue is that she still doesn't really want to go forward. She is waaaaayyy freer than she was when I very first tried to ride her and all of the lunging, CA work and ground driving have helped a lot but I still have some work to do.

With that being said though she was a very good pony. There were no grumpy ears, no shies, and no real attitude. I'm hoping to ride again tomorrow although she does need some more work on her hooves, I got some done yesterday, and more work in the side reins to teach her to work through her back better.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Spoiled Brat

Katai has been waiting out the nasty weather in her stall which seems twice as large with only one pony in it. She's not too happy since she can't see the other horses but she is warm and dry wearing her pretty purple blanket.

The weather is supposed to be much nicer so I'm going to try the week straight of working Katai again. I'm hoping to actually ride her as soon as we get some nice warm, tiring, weather. I also need to do more work on her feet which I can do in cold weather but today I wasn't even able to feel my fingers so that was out. I also need to work out and tan since I was distracted by going to visit my boyfriend last night. Another reason that Katai didn't get worked but he gets to be the priority especially since we have trouble working our schedules out so that we can see each other.

Hopefully more interesting pictures will follow once I'm able to work outside again.

Oh Well

I missed three days now because of the weather. Things were going so well too.

and then we got this....