Sunday, December 28, 2014

Here's Looking At You Kid

I'm having a rough day. I'm single and feeling loney and still doubting my decision. I think it will be ok, maybe even better, but right now I just don't know.

I've already shared just about every photo I have that has to do with my progress with Katai this year but i took a few more at the barn today to say goodby to 2014.

Katai with her bestie, Kitty. I'm so happy that she has at least one horsie friend.

Pile of Katai's grain and supplements in the feedroom. I'm so happy that she's getting regular feed and supplements!


Selfie :-) I am so happy to get to call this pony my own.

Goodbye 2014 and may 2015 be an even better year.

Friday, December 26, 2014

TOABH: Who Trained Your Horse


Last week, we talked about our babies.  This week, let's talk about our greenies.  Who trained your horse?  Is your ponykins still in the process of figuring out this whole monkey-on-my-back thing, did you send off for thirty or sixty or ninety days, or did you buy a horse with all the bells and whistles?  Who has helped your horse become what he or she is today?

That answer is basically me :) I bought Katai completely untrained as a late four year old. She could kind of lead if you could catch her but she had a nasty habit of suddenly rearing, spinning, and bolting backwards away from you whenever you tried to do something she didn't approve of. She certainly didn't know how to tie, was tough to catch, aggressive, had no idea about forward, and had been thoroughly spoiled by her teenage owner. I believe that that girl had sat on her a few times and said that she'd had a saddle on her back but it actually just made things tougher since it had taught her that she didn't need to listen or do what a person wanted since eventually they'd give up. 


This was from before I got her. I can see both fear and some aggression from her in this picture and that's pretty much what I started with. Plus she was extremely obese.


Here she is about five months after I got her. She's standing tied, although there was still a lot of dancing and behaving like an idiot, and wearing a bit for probably the fifth time.


Wearing a blanket like a big girl. It only took me about 15 minutes to get it on. She was still wearing a safety halter since she was tough to catch.


More big girl things, wearing four boots, a surcingle and a bit and this was just before I started ground driving her. She looks so shaggy, undeveloped, and babyish here. I also think it's interesting that at this point her mane fell to the left and now it falls to the right. Apparently it has to do with the development of muscles.


Wearing her first dressage saddle. Such a baby!


First time on her back!!


This was right after one of our first real "rides" up until here we were either in a small enclosed space or mostly just doing mounting practice. At this point we were still just sticking to a walk. You can see though how much different her expression and posture are. She is calm and quiet and there is some trust there.


Working her at the first real boarding barn I kept her at and in her first indoor arena. This is where we went from just walking to doing trot and canter.


First real trail ride outside of any type of fence and down the road.


I don't have many pictures in between because I was always at the barn by myself and it was tough to get any plus I mostly worked on trot and canter over the winter when it was extremely cold and It was tough to have enough motivation to take off my gloves to use my iPhone camera.


And finally from October. I'm hoping to get more pictures soon!

I had such a great ride tonight. She is really starting to understand the lateral work and I'm getting a nice, relaxed, balanced response on a loose rein. Currently I'm focusing on leg yields to the wall and shoulders in. Haunches in used to freak her out and was a great way to get her to rear but she completely didn't understand shoulders in. Now she does well with haunches in and is finally starting to get haunches in along the wall :) Even better she is doing it on a soft feel and maintaining her balance, not sticking her head up in the air and getting hollow. 

I've also been focusing more on the canter. I think I'm going to need to go back to getting the transition nicely on the lunge. She used to pick it up immediately when I gave a specific vocal cue but now she just puts her ears back and races forward at the trot. I'm trying to figure out if it is me or if she just needs a reminder about what the canter cue means. 

Something to work on for next time!











Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas Vacation

I am SO happy to be able to say that the next six days are all my own. Yay for Christmas vacation!! I'm doing Christmas shopping tomorrow and then the next two days I get to do whatever I want which of course means riding. Then Tuesday and Christmas Eve I'll spend with my family.


Things have been weird recently. I've decided to end the relationship I'm in and it's been a tough decision. For better or worse I've been thinking about this person constantly and wanting to be with him for the past year and a half so it's really weird to be leaving him. So far I strangely haven't been at all emotional but I have felt completely emotionally exhausted. Part of that is probably because it is our busiest time at work and we are understaffed anyway. I've been putting in extremely long days and working my butt off the entire time I'm there pretty much never leaving my desk. At any rate I feel like I've been lost in a fog whenever I'm not at work and the extent of my motivation is to get home and collapse on the couch to watch Netflix which is unusual for me.

That has meant that my week was pretty devoid of riding as I skipped the barn Sunday through Wednesday. I did make it out there yesterday and today and I already started feeling a little bit better the moment I stepped into the barn and smelled that incredible horse smell.


Yesterday it was rough to get anything done because there was a group lesson with three people. I swear this instructor tries to have her riders interfere with me but maybe it's just that I was spoiled at the dressage barn with everyone riding in 20 meter circles. There it was like a dance and I carefully kept out of people's way. Here I do my best to stay at the opposite end of the arena but the second I start working she directs one of the riders over to where I'm riding and tells them to canter or something. Just seems a little odd and I spend my whole ride trying to avoid getting creamed by their thoroughbreds. Add to that the fact that one girl clucked through pretty much the entire lesson which made Katai think canter and it was a bit of a rough ride.

Tonight I got the arena to myself and it was awesome! Don't get me wrong, I'd much rather ride with other people and at the previous barn I actually was happy when I saw someone in the arena but here that's not the case. Oh well, at some point it will warm up outside and then there will be something like five arenas to choose from as well as trails and a track. With the arena to myself I started out at the walk and worked more on leg yielding as well as shoulder in. She is getting SO good at it and was even maintaining her rhythm and balance better. After that we worked on trotting and then did a canter in each direction and called it a night. 

           Unfortunately this is a throughobred breeding barn in KY and not where I board.


I can say that both myself and Katai seem to be complete stall board converts. I have never had her more calm, relaxed or happy. Her entire attitude has changed and she is just so relaxed and quiet and happy when I get to the barn as well as happy to go back into her stall after a ride. She's had shavings on her belly more than once so I'm sure she's been laying down and she seems to be keeping the stall extremely neat and pooping only in one small corner. Her hooves continue to look better and stay nice and dry and clean. 

She has been so quiet and calm that I'm actually struggling, for the first time, to keep her in front of my leg. She does go forward when I ask but it can be inconsistent and sometimes when I ask she just keeps slogging along at whatever speed she's currently at. Right now I'm just glad that she's not so tense and panicky that everything I do makes her race away. I'm ok with this problem for the time being as she is seriously doing SO much better than she was two months ago. 

I CAN'T wait to do a show or two this summer :)


Monday, December 15, 2014

2014 In Review

I figured that before I do a 2015 goals post it would be good for me to do an overview of 2014 especially since I think I gained the majority of my readers this year.

Here we go!


At the beginning of the year I was boarding Katai at a small trail barn with a coverall arena and wood footing. I rode 1-2 times a week but spent more like 3 days per week at the barn with her. She was extremely green so when I did ride it was not for very long and mostly in straight lines or 20 meter circles at a walk and sometimes a trot. 

February:

In February I started taking weekly riding lessons with J on a school horse and in April I FINALLY got to start taking lessons on my own horse for the first time since I was 14. It was glorious but that glory was short lived as I started to realize even in June and July that this was not the right trainer for either myself or Katai. However, despite that I continued to learn and make progress as I filter what she said into what worked for me and Katai.

March:

April:

May:

June:


July:

August:

In August and September I started to think about moving to a different barn and actually had one set up but after a really empassioned discussion with J I decided to stay a little longer. Things started to go from bad to worse and I really wish now that I had more videos and or photos but I guess I tend to not want pictures of the bad. The problem with that of course is that then it's tough to see just how far I've come. It did get so bad that she was basically gaiting whenever you asked for anything faster than a walk and would be so tight that she was both trotting and cantering at the same time.

October:

Finally at the end of October I stood up for both of us and took the month of November off lessons and then this happened.

November:

At the beginning of November I announced that I was moving Katai and finally on November 30th moved her to a barn without all the craziness. 

December:

My Overview:

- started to figure out how to keep my leg back
- began to remember how to ride properly
- learned how to properly use my elbows
- gained some courage
- FINALLY got to take regular lessons
- boarded at three different facilities (I'm really not barn hopping I swear)
- ran a long distance competitive race for the first time!!!
- lost 15 pounds
- survived another year at this job
- learned how to be a partner

Katai's Overview:

- went from a green baby horse to one that is now starting to learn some more sophisticated things
- started to get some rhythm
- stopped rearing!!!!
- moved barns twice and only slightly lost her mind on the first move, didn't at all on the second!
- learned about crossties
- learned about stalls
- is receiving a better diet
- gained strength and conditioning
- learned how to move off a single leg 
- is now consistent at forward
- loaded into two strange trailers in less than ten minutes and rode quietly to a strange place
- learned how to be ridden around other horses and that she will survive if they leave
- learned how to be a partner


Stay tuned for my 2015 goals!





Monday, December 8, 2014

Blog Hop: Christmas List

This is actually the exact list that I sent my mom so hopefully I'll have some of these things to post reviews about after Christmas!

Horze Jeffery Saddle Pad

These are currently my favorite saddle pads I have the cool mint green one.


They come in all sorts of cool colors but even more importantly they come in pony size!! They are also reasonably priced at $27.95.

Horze Polo Wraps

With Katai's color changing to grey it's time to get some matching polo wraps. These are reasonably priced at $18.95 and come in Grey which is actually a tough color to find in polo wraps.

Socks

You can never have too many socks. I have some cheap riding socks for summer and some ski socks on my list, all are under $20.

Treats

These Wither and Withers horse treats are my absolute favorite horse treats. They are designed for insulin resistant horses with almost no sugar added and are so good that I occasionally snack on them. As an added bonus they are small and neat so they don't make a huge mess in my pockets. They are fairly expensive for horse treats at around $20 depending on where you shop but there are a ton in a bag so they last a long time.

Swanky Saddlery Monogram Bridle Tag

These are adorable and very reasonable at $15.00.

Swanky Saddlery Brush Monogram


 Totally dorky, or preppy maybe, but also reasonable at $4 a piece.

Higher Standards Saddle Soap

I've been wanting some of this stuff for a long time and it finally made it onto my list this year. Very reasonable at $14.95 per container.








Back On Track


Honestly I’m not sure what Katai thinks of the new barn but I’m extremely happy. I’m mainly happy because of how easily and quickly Katai adjusted. Prior to this move it would take her a week or more to be easy to handle in a new environment. I’m sure it was a lack of consistency with handling and being a green baby but it was really disheartening to think of showing her like that since it’s tough to have a week to adjust at a show. This time she got to the barn and instantly made it her own. She was calm right from the first moment she was there and, although still a bit tense at times, she has pretty much maintained all of the things we worked on at the previous barn. This is a huge win for both of us and I’m relieved.

 

I’m also really comfortable in the new environment. There are a lot of people there all the time so I never feel like I’m being watched or singled out like I did at the previous barn. Katai is more accepted as a mount and actually when I rode on Tuesday, more on that later, she was the average height in the ring with the largest horse being a 14.3 hand Morgan!

 

I also really do like the stall set up. Her feet have been excellent, clean and dry, and I am incredibly impressed with how clean her stall has been kept. Of course she’s only been there for just over a week but I’m still happy with how things are going so far. It is also so incredibly wonderful that she is consistently getting supplements. Twice a day, every day someone is giving her DMG, Magnesium, and soon the coat and joint supplement. It is so good for my peace of mind and of course for her health.

 

So far I’ve spent all four days, that I worked in an arena, in the larger but not heated arena that is part of the barn she is kept in. This is where the Eventing instructor teaches her lessons so it tends to either have jumping lessons or people riding English. The other heated barn has an attached heated arena that I have not ridden in yet. It is smaller, looks like it tends to have more beginner lessons and/or western lessons and is more crowded since who wouldn’t want to be warm when they ride. I’m hoping to ride down there soon but figured I’d let Katai adjust to this arena first since it’s where we’ll be for lessons.

 

On Tuesday I rode for the first time at the new facility and it was amazing! She behaved almost exactly like she did last time I rode her at the previous barn. No spooking even when one of the horses that was jumping knocked down a rail and she’s never been around during a jumping lesson before. This is of course how I would expect her to behave but it’s not what’s been the case in the past. She was a TOTAL nervous wreck when I first started brought her into the last indoor arena and that wasn’t her first indoor arena so she shouldn’t have had an excuse. It was so bad that I spent two months doing lunging and ground work before I felt confident climbing on to ride so having her so comfortable on her second time in the this arena EVER and first time riding made me extremely proud. Sometimes it’s the little things :-)


Friday I also rode and since I only worked a half day that day I got there around noon. I felt bad because she was freaked out with the change in routine. She kept trying to tell me that she wasn't supposed to be in the barn alone and was a little terror to tack up and handle on the ground. As per usual though she was a little angel under saddle and other than having to ride around two people having a jumping lesson things went really well.


                  Can haz cookie?


On Sunday I rode again and was so, so happy. She was struggling to stretch down more than she has been but she was very balanced and I finally got her to move off my leg calmly. I also worked her through a minor meltdown when the only other horse in the arena left. It was a great day and I was so proud of her.


                 Think she knows that if she's cute enough she'll get a cookie?

 

Also, in completely random and unimportant to most people news, I’ve decided to change her color to grey. It’s cute buying bright colors and I’m going to continue to use what I have for saddle pads, boots, bridle, quarter sheets, etc. but since I already have a flashy mostly white pony and she’s already small and is now very brightly outfitted it’s just getting to be a bit much. It’s time to professional up a little so I’m going to start buying things in grey. I think it will complement her, be modern and cute, and still more professional than pink and the other pastel colors that she’s wearing now. I’ll still include some pink like on her bridle but I don’t want it to be the main color anymore. I always figured that grey would be her show color, at least for schooling shows, because white will either cause her to look dirty or cause the pad to look dirty. Black would be too much I think so grey was the plan showing but now also for schooling.


I am also starting to work on my goals for 2015. For the first time I'm starting to feel like I can be more serious about developing my little athlete and that means goals so that progress can be measured. Because I'm a big picture thinker I've decided to do a list of goals for the year with monthly checkins. Then if things are going really well I can always add to it. Otherwise I find that I set simple goals that I know I'll be able to achieve in a month. This way I'm hoping to push myself more. Hopefully I'll be posting that list soon!

Monday, December 1, 2014

New Home

I don't know what it is but I feel at home here, at the new barn, already. Everyone has been so nice and open. It's a warm inviting atmosphere so far even if it's extremely cold out.

Yesterday the son of the owner showed up to transport Katai to the new barn. I really wondered how she would be because I haven't had a chance to load her even once since I moved her last time. Amazingly enough, especially for a horse that was almost impossible to load initially, she was really good! She flew out backwards once but then loaded in quietly and stood while he hooked her up and closed the slant. 


She also rode well and was just a sweetheart when she unloaded. I the past she's been quite a handful but all this work and consistency is obviously paying off because she walked on a loose lead through the new barn, back out and down a Lane between new horses to her new home. 

Tonight I went out to work with her for the first time in the new arena. I almost skipped it because of how cold it was and the fact that it's supposed to be much nicer tomorrow but I knew I'd feel guilty all night and I missed my pony. My car said it was -1 when I got to the barn but it is considerably warmer in the barn. Of course in this cold that means it was close to 10-15 degrees so still far too cold to be comfortable. 

Katai was a little uppity in her stall and was certainly happy to see me. I got a few huge nickers and could tell that she's stressing out. Tonight was her second time with her new stall schedule so it's still pretty new. I was happy to see that her stall was clean except for two small normal poops, she had a nice clean bucket of water and had been chewing on her mineral block. All good signs that it's already starting to feel at home. 

I was also pleased with how calmly and politely she stepped out of her stall as I led her out and I know it speaks to the handling she's been receiving. Right now she's still in a paddock by herself so handled morning and evening. Soon she'll be on pasture turnout so will have to figure out how to find her stall when the let the horses into the barn in the evening. 

One of the best things about the stall I have her in is the attached tack locker. You can see the door open up above. It means that I can tie her right to the front of her stall to groom and tack up and didn't have to schlep equipment which is nice. Especially since I forget things.


The stalls are old and quite used but maintained well and they bed them quite deep. I was pleased to see that so far her feet look better which doesn't surprise me since there's less time standing around in poop between her nice clean, dry stall and the paddock. I'm interested to see what will happen in the pasture turnout.

She was nice and quiet for grooming and just moved a bit when I went to put the saddle on. She also was a complete sweetheart about the new arena and after a nice 15 minute walk with me around the arena in both directions I lunged her both ways mainly at trot. She was stiff and slightly off. I kind of suspected that she'd pulled something yesterday after trailering either by slipping in the pen while introducing herself to her neighbors or on the trailer. She didn't head bob at all but was a little short behind. I'll see how she's doing tomorrow and hopefully ride!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thankful

I'm thankful for so many things this year. My family, my boyfriend :), my health, my job even though it's driving me crazy, the phone interview I have set up on Monday for a new hopefully better job haha, but one of the things that I'm especially thankful for is my incredible pony. She's been my partner through a job change, a break up, two different apartments, and an insanely horrible instructor. She's always been there for me as one of the constantly awesome parts of my life. 

Finally I'm thankful for Youtube. Yes you heard that right. I'm so thankful for the free information that we have available to us. It's saving me riding wise right now since I took October off of lessons and probably won't take lessons through the rest of December either. I know that I need expert advice but between my budget and the move to a new barn it's just not going to happen for a bit. So I went to Youtube.

For anyone looking for some good instructional classical dressage videos I HIGHLY recommend ArtToRide.


My Blogger app won't let me post the video so the link will have to work. This is just one good video but there are many more available and thanks to these I've made HUGE progress with Katai.

When I first started consistently riding Katai in June she looked like this.
Yep, unbalanced, inverted, very on the forehand. 

She's always been very tight through the back and shoulder and inverted as these pictures from before I started riding her show.
Very not good right.

She was getting even more like this during the last few months I was riding with J. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately I have no pictures or video from those lessons but after a month of no lessons with me riding her she looks like this.



I'm not an expert, very much need lessons and it's because of what I filtered out of lessons with J that I'm able to get this but J has told me several times whole watching me ride my pony this way that I'm going to ruin her. Doesn't look like that to me. To me she looks like she's stepping under herself, swinging, relaxed, forward, soft, building top line, reaching, etc. Look at just how much more free she is through her shoulder and how her under neck muscle is slowly fading.

So this is my goal for the next couple months. Slow, consistent, relaxed work where I continue to help her find her rhythm and develop the right kind of strength.

I hope all of you have had a wonderful Thanksgiving!