Sunday, March 30, 2014

In Limbo

I had a discussion with my new barn manager, who I will refer to as J from now on, last night and this morning and we made a mutual decision to wait two weeks before I move Katai. It sucks but really is the right decision for everyone involved and I am very greatful for the wonderful, supportive attitude of J who is being proactive and responsible about this outbreak.

Unfortunately this really leaves me in limbo. I was supposed to be out of the place where I was, now am, boarding and had moved out and reorganized all my stuff. I used to have three saddle racks and room for the huge plastic tote that I use as a tackbox and had it all cut down to fit in the one locker and one saddle rack that I will have. Going from this (plus there is a saddle rack even higher that you don't see in the picture)
To this plus one saddle rack,

 

(Not the actual lockers but it looks just like one of the smaller ones in this picture.)

Now, of course, I needed to move some stuff back to the barn but I didn't want to undo all of my new organization so I just schlepped the most important stuff back in one bucket plus my saddle, bridle and lunge line.

The best thing about this whole thing is that I'm going out of town this week and now I won't have to worry about leaving my pony in a new place with no support. It also meant that I got to ride and spend time with her again today rather than dealing with a stressful move. So....

We went on a trail ride!
This was her first real ride outside of the arena and she did great!! Of course she's been ridden outside a lot in the past but mostly that's been in her pasture which is a place that she is familiar. This was her first time in a new environment and she did great!! We even trotted for a long ways :) 

My little girl is growing up and it makes me very proud.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Outbreak


Recently, first reported case occurred on 3/7/14, there has been an outbreak in my general area of EHV-1. This seems to have started in the barrel racing circuit and so far has been confined to four horses with three euthanized and one in recovery. I am extremely sad for those who lost their horses and very, very thankful for my current, and future, barn owners’ careful management of their facilities. Vets in the area are starting to be optimistic that the worst of the outbreak is over but are still cautioning against traveling with horses.


For a little while it looked like this might delay plans to move Katai to the new barn as the new barn owner/manager and I were concerned about me moving in during this outbreak. Since the worst of it is now over the barn owner has said that she is ok with it as long as we haven’t had any horses recently move to my current barn, which we haven’t for almost a month now, and as long as I take Katai’s temperature the day that I’m moving her and it is within the normal range. We’ve been monitoring everything for the past week and I’ve continued to keep an eye on Katai’s herd and everything seems to be fine.

Here’s to hoping that no more EHV-1 cases occur.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Practice

"There's no such thing as bad practice. Only skillful and unskillful. The only way for practice to be unskillful is if the intention is not on compassion."

Les Kiger



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Name Change

So as you can see I finally changed the name of my blog!! I’ve been thinking about it and wanting to for quite awhile now especially since Katai, although a normal pony, hasn’t proven to be a particularly stubborn one.


I also want to reflect the upcoming change of moving to a barn and, sort of, handing off the total responsibility of training Katai myself since now I have qualified help. Because of that, this blog will be less of a training journal and more of a blog about me and Katai as a partnership and cover both of our experiences in this new journey of dressage lessons, showing, and experiencing the atmosphere of an active barn.


Finally, many of my more recent posts were about how I can finally have fun shopping for stuff for my pony and also for myself. I’ve always loved trends and clothes but just wasn’t able to afford the stuff I really wanted. Now I’m starting to be able to afford those things not just for Katai but for myself as well. I’ve worked extremely hard and saved for those nice things that I do have and I’ve got a list of things that I’m working towards. It’s just so nice to be able to feel like a cute and reasonably well dressed adult at the barn I want to continue to share that on my blog!


My posts going forward will continue to document Katai’s journey but I will be adding more about myself now that I will have feedback on my riding and horse handling skillz.


Also, Yay!! for the pony/devil reference tehe.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Wherein I Obsess About My Pony

I've been obsessing, again, and looking over the video that I shared awhile ago so here are some stills :)
Look at that hind leg! I realize this is the PERFECT place in the canter to capture a picture but I'm really pretty pleased with her. There isn't much jump but there isn't much strength there yet either. She's nicely balanced and I think reasonably uphill for this point in her training. She's carrying herself that way, there are no side reins on her in this picture.

She is also very upright and balanced. She LOVES to canter and is nice and slow on the lunge even on nights like tonight when she was a little spooky.

Nice long stretchy back and open stride. Even though the picture is tillted a bit in her favor she is still traveling reasonably uphill for where she's got her head. Her diagonal pairs match up nicely.





Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thursday Lesson Day

So far my lessons have been on Thursdays, other than at the beginning of the month when I had three lessons in a row to try out a couple of different barns/trainer. Today was my third lesson with Julie and my first lesson with her off the lunge. It was great and I am enjoying her ability and training more and more. I was especially happy when she climbed on the horse today to show me something as people in this area seem to be either teachers or riders and not both. I am a very visual learner so when watching someone do something I learn a lot more than when being told how to do something.

I have some homework to work on, of course :-), which includes stabilizing my torso and changing where I hold my hands a bit. Mostly though I'm very excited to get Katai there because then I will have very different things to work on vs. riding a well trained school horse. I move her in just over one week!!!! I have just a few more things to get ready and one more lesson before the big move and I just can't wait.

In Katai land things have been great! After a few days completely off everything other than a little light groundwork and grooming I rode yesterday, without a bit of course to let her mouth heal, and she was really good! I got some nice forward, relaxed, back swinging moments from her despite her being extremely jumpy for some reason. Katai tends to be quite hot, my little redhead, but she's usually not spooky at all. However, yesterday she was freezing and jumping at everything. Luckily she has this tiny freezy-in-place-thing that really isn't hard to sit but it just. kept. happening. Ah well.


I also managed to get a bunch of mane pulling done which is good because with how thick he mane is she could easily sport a Fjord type Mohawk if I wanted her to. I did a lot of pampering and grooming with her as well. Unfortunately the current barn doesn't have running water anywhere that's easy to get to so trying to scrub her stains off will be tough but its something I feel I need to do before the move. I am certainly no grooming queen and she is a bit of a hairy mess right now but transferring her to a new barn covered in stains is not ok in my mind. Now I just have to figure how I'm going to get rid of them! People with bay horses have it so much easier...

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Dopey Pony

Katai had her teeth floated today. She had some small points, nothing that was too much of a concern, but we did discover that she has a minor overbite. She had a small hook over the front of her bottom teeth that needed to be floated and I'll need to keep an eye on it for floating again in the future.

Pony likes drugs :)

She was extremely good for the vet and again, although she is normally fairly hot and sensitive, she acts like she doesn't even feel shots. She did need a full sized horse dose of sedative though.

I put her back in the pasture still slightly dopey to sleep it off in the sun with her friends once she was walking without wobbling. The plan for tomorrow is to see how she's feeling and possibly take her for either a walk or work more with the clippers. She is really getting them figured out :)

This next week I'm hoping to get back to riding, bitless of course, and I finally ordered a pair of cavalo hoof boots since she's still been pretty sensitive even though her thrush is FINALLY nearly gone. They should get here on Monday so I should be able to try them out on Tuesday.

Finally, I had my second lesson on Thursday and I ADORE the instructor. She is honest, tough, fair and still kind. She praises when it's due but doesn't overdo it. I am so happy to have found a really good instructor and can't wait until she can begin working with me and Katai! Now hopefully my self trained pony does me proud like I know she can :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Viva Carlos' Blog Hop: What's In Your Name?

Blog Hop: What's In Your Name?
"We are all books because we have spines and stories to tell.”

Everyone has a story to tell and in blog land, most of us have stumble upon each other mid-sentence, so-to-speak.  

What is the story behind your blogname/url?
First off, my pony's name was totally a mistake. I was actually at the renaissance festival with my mom and was asking her if she had any ideas for a name for my new pony, who I hadn't picked up yet, and she suggested a name from a character in one of her favorite books. It was from the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher and when she described the character to me I agreed that it sounded like a great idea to name my pony after her.

If any of you have read these books you're probably wondering what happened because the character's name is actually Kitai. Well, my mom spelled it from memory as Katai and I like the way it looked and sounded and, thinking it was the name of this cool character, went home and promptly named her Katai.
It wasn't until months later when I decided to start reading the series that I realize the error. Knowing that most people come up with names based on something I did a search on the word Kitai and found out that it means expectation, anticipation or hope in Japanese which would be a wonderful meaning for a name for my pony. Then, thinking it probably wouldn't mean anything I typed in Katai and found out that it means....

Stubborn

I was so struck by the fact that my mom had accidentally named my pony "stubborn" in Japanese that I decided to keep it. The fact that she had already been named that for awhile and that I had ordered her a halter plate decided me.

So you see, the name of my blog is a play on words since the word Katai is stubborn in Japanese and my pony can be stubborn. She is short and since it is in blog format it does tend to be a short dressage journal. It may not be the catchiest name or the easiest to remember and I've considered changing it especially if she does prove to be great at dressage since calling her stubborn than would be inappropriate. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Consistency!!

Yes ladies and gentlemen we have it! I've always known that if I had something regular to work towards (like lessons) that I would be able to manage some of that consistency that I was lacking (plus lets face it, the weather has been reasonable finally) but I couldn't know until I tried! Since my lesson last Thursday I've worked with her or ridden every day including tonight and she has been great! She had her hooves trimmed on Sunday and they are looking way better and less thrushy. Our biggest struggle now is in gaining some strength, both of us. She isn't blowing or sweating much at all but she doesn't want to keep trotting and I can tell by the way she moves that it is still hard work. Luckily I know what to do about that :-)

Tomorrow I'm going to work her at a trot and canter on the lunge and then she will get Thursday off since I have a riding lesson set up for that evening.



I also managed to make some progress with clipper desensitization and was able to clip some of the hair on her shoulder with my itty bitty clippers. Next step is to work with her on the big girl clippers. I've been holding off on that step because she's got a vet appointment next Saturday where she is not only going to get her spring shots, and coggins but will have her teeth floated and her wolf teeth out. That's going to make riding out of the question for a little while and a bit out of the question for a long time. I'm planning on letting her recover for awhile and then will proceed with lunging and riding her in her halter until her mouth has completely healed but I will have plenty of time to work on clipping

Honestly the timing sucks but this needs to happen and it might as well be done sooner than later. Unfortunately my previous vet had told me she didn't have wolf teeth or I would have had this taken care of earlier but luckily a vet that was out for a different horse at this barn did me a favor and looked at her teeth to see if they would need to be floated and said that she did have small wolf teeth that should be removed.

Oh well, we will get some good bitless bridle time :-)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

End of February Analysis

 

February Goals

1. Lots of Miles –My goal is to ride her 4 times per week through the end of February.

- I didn’t ride 4 times per week but I continued to do more riding and longer rides. Overall I’m pleased with our progress especially with the extreme cold which was the main thing that derailed all goals.

 

2. Strength –For the rest of February my goal is to do carrot stretches before and after each ride and to introduce more cavaletti work.

                - Total fail

 

3. Communication –My goal is to introduce some lateral work to every ride as well as doing some work on the ground to help her figure this out and figure out how to move laterally without a rider on the days that I don’t ride.

- I did more to introduce lateral work from the ground and also tried to attempt to work on it from the saddle but pony is sensitive and sensitive pony got flustered easily. I recently switched to asking her to move over slightly while moving forward vs. with her head to the wall and she took that better. Baby steps!

 

4. Trail Riding –If we have reasonable weather my goal is to get her out at least once a week for a quick ride down the road.

- We didn’t have reasonable weather and with the ice storm spending any time on the road was a recipe for disaster so this goal was caned entirely.

 

                March Goals

1. Move to new facility (me and Katai) – I am so ready to move and get going with our new life of lessons and progress! I am, however, very thankful to have the rest of March to work on improvement before moving.

- This goal will be a success if I get everything ready to move into our new smaller, locker arrangement and pare down my shtuff and if Katai is her normal reasonable (if still green) self for loading, trailering, and handling in a new place.

2. Continue to take lessons  (me) – I will be taking weekly lessons on the lessons horses available until I move Katai. At that point because of budgetary things I will need to reduce that to two lessons per month until around August so I want to take advantage of regular lessons this month.

- This goal will be a success if I work to improve myself, bring the new improved me to riding Katai , and soak in everything I can while riding the well trained lesson horse(s).

3. Work on consistency (Katai) – This is a huge one! I have the rest of the month to work with Katai and based on this move I have changed some of my goals. I was trying to work on contact and lateral stuff because I didn’t think I’d have anyone to help me in the near future so I wanted to start mixing it in to my work with her. Now with this opportunity I am going to focus on just getting consistency at the walk, trot, and canter in both directions.

- This goal will be a success if I can improve Katai’s consistency and bring it with to the new barn for lessons.

4. Strength (me and Katai)– Riding Katai is extremely easy on me because she doesn’t have huge movement and I, of course, haven’t been riding as correctly as I should be because I’m focused more on her. Between position changes and just general laziness in the past I’ve been quite sore after the two lessons I had this past weekend. Katai is also not strong, because hey she’s a green baby horse, but between the two of us we need to use March to get stronger so that we can survive lessons in a healthy way.

- This goal will be a success if I can start to see more muscle on Katai and get her top line filled in just a bit more before the move and if I can make it through the day after a lesson without feeling like I would like to die from sore muscles.

5. Desensitization (or whatever you’d like to call it) (Katai)– Katai is going to have fairly different things expected of her at the new place. They have crossties, which I’ve only had her in a few times, and their grooming/tacking up area is fairly small, heated, and closed in with “bunkers” right next to each other. There is generally much more activity since at the current barn I ride and groom by myself 90% of the time. I’m going to expect her (eventually, not right away of course) to be a well behaved lady for baths since they have warm and cold water right in the grooming area and she will need to be around horses being clipped and blow dried even if she doesn’t need to be. The horse care expected at this place is much more what I’ve wanted but since I’ve been around people who mostly trail ride and don’t do things like blow dry their sweaty horse I haven’t either. Now it will be an expectation.

- This goal will be a success if we don’t embarrass ourselves immediately upon arrival and if, within a reasonable amount of time, Katai is manageable for the things expected.

 

I know it’s a lot but I do think it is manageable and I’ll feel better if I’m at least working on the things above. The instructor at the new barn has worked with green horses in the past but this is MY green horse and I want her to be as prepared as she can be. I am nervous about things like how she will handle crossties, or how she will deal with the horse right next to her having a bath when she just hasn’t been exposed to stuff like that. This is certainly an opportunity to get her exposed to those things but it is my responsibility to make sure that no one has a melt down or gets hurt in the process and I take that VERY seriously.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Seven Deadly Sins: blog hop


Thanks to L. Williams awesome idea today's post is all about the blog hop. What a great idea for one of these!
 
Pride
Seven great things/strengths in your riding life
  1. My pony - she's awesome, has great potential and confirmation and was free!
  2. My new opportunity to take regular lessons from a really excellent instructor
  3. The nice, well fitted equipment that I've worked so hard and saved for.
  4. My riding skill
  5. My pony's patience
  6. The fact that I can afford any of this
  7. My ability to learn
  8. My love of learning

 

Envy

Seven things you lack or covet for you or your horse

  1. A wool show sheet
  2. BoT shtuff
  3. A Mattes half pad
  4. Show Clothes - like I literally have none
  5. An ability to pull manes
  6. Show experience
  7. A truck and trailer

Wrath

Seven things that make you angry

  1. Pony tantrums
  2. Saddle fit changes :(
  3. DQs
  4. People who think they have all the answers
  5. People trying to train my horse while I'm training my horse.
  6. Dogs with no manners being let loose around horses
  7. Thrush

 

 

Sloth

Seven things you neglect to do or cut corners on 

  1. Tail care
  2. Saddle pad laundry
  3. Putting on leg protection sometimes
  4. Letting my horse walk off as I'm mounting
  5. Wiping off bits
  6. Treating scrapes
  7. Mane Pulling

Greed

Seven most expensive things you own for your horse/riding
In order of most to least
  1. Thornhill Pro-Trainer Danube
  2. Neue Schule bit
  3. Pink Equine Bridle
  4. People on Horses pink boots
  5. Dublin boots for me
  6. Mattes saddle pad (no sheepskin underneath)
  7. Heavy weight turnout blanket

 

Gluttony

Seven guilty pleasures or favorite items
  1. My collection of riding socks
  2. My tack cleaning supplies
  3. Hoof picks with brushes
  4. My pink PoH boots
  5. My pink lined bridle
  6. Having people admire my pony and her fan club
  7. Super Ponies - Big talent in a small package
 

Lust

Seven things you love about horses and riding
  1. Horse expressions
  2. Horse smell
  3. Riding lessons
  4. Shows
  5. Early summer mornings at the barn
  6. Blown square horse nostrils
  7. My pony's whinny when she sees me
I totally can't get the link thing to work with my layout..... fail :(
  

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Amazing, Incredible Opportunity

I’ve been quiet for the past week but there are two reasons for that. One is that it’s been extremely cold again so I haven’t been out to the barn as much and the other is that I finally have the opportunity I’ve been looking so long for.


 I get to take Dressage lessons with an INCREDIBLE instructor!!!


Not only that but I am moving Katai there at the end of March so I get to take lessons on my horse. I could cry I’m so happy. I’ve wanted to be able to take regular lessons from a good instructor for so long but between just not having the funds and thinking I didn’t have a good instructor anywhere nearby I was resigned that I would have to wait until I get a new job (the plan is to start looking in just over a year). However, I found a barn that is only about 15 minutes away from work, offers pasture board, and is affordable.


 I was aware of this barn because their riders consistently do the best at the schooling shows I’ve been to but for some reason I was thinking that it was located much, much further away and/or would be too expensive. Now I found it though!


There are four instructors that teach there and they do both Dressage and Eventing. I had a lesson with one instructor on Sunday and will have a lesson with another on Thursday. I’ve already talked about moving and they have a spot open for late March/early April move in. I love their set up already as it is both convenient and neat and clean. There are stalls but they are located in a separate, smaller barn near the mare pens. The mares and geldings are separated and they do rotational grazing with HUGE pastures. The herd sizes are nice and small and they do snow/poop removal in the winter pens so the horses aren’t standing in manure or in feet of snow.

There is an indoor and outdoor arena as well as a roundpen and the footing, at least in the indoor, is incredible. The tack up area as well as tackroom and viewing lounge are all once piece and heated and there is warm and cold water right in the tack up area which is a luxury that I have never had.  All of this is only about 15 minutes from where I work and I have been planning on moving within walking distance of work as soon as my current lease is up.


I can’t even believe how incredible all of this is and how much better it will make life in general. Pony will be closer, on less risky roads in a neat arena that doesn’t house a tractor and tons of scary obstacles, in a smaller herd of only mares with a USDF certified instructor who still regularly rides in both clinics and competitions.


I am so incredibly excited :)