Thursday, May 29, 2014

Update - With Pictures as promised!

Things have been great!

No things have been better than great things have been awesome!!!

I finally have a saddle. As of tonight it is trainer approved and ready to be added to the credit card tomorrow. I'm stoked! Well not about the credit card thing but about finally having something to ride in. It's been over a month since I've been able to be able to plan to go to the barn and ride because I've needed to borrow J's County which she 1. is understandably reluctant to let students use and 2. uses on some of the lesson horses when she has to. 

Here is the glorious thing.
It's a Passier Vector which I'd never heard of before and seems to be fairly rare. It has a medium tree, 17" seat, upswept panels that keep it short enough for Katai's back. It also, oddly enough, has foam panels which I'm happy about in this case since this is the only saddle that has fit and foam is soft and supposed to hold up better than wool. Of course it can't be adjusted but this is a bargain basement saddle so if/when Katai outgrows it I'm not too worried about passing it along and buying something else.

Soooooo happy!

I also had my lesson tonight and Katai, who's been behaving absolutly beautifully, had an off night. However, it was a great reminder of just how far we've come as well as just how good she is. We had a couple minor dissagreements but she never did anything dangerous and worked fairly well over all. It was dissapointing to have J see her the worst she's been in awhile but she seemed to believe me that she'd been better and she has finally approved me starting to trot her so she must have been happy overall.

I did manage to find someone to take some pictures while J was lunging and they aren't great but at least you can see Katai. I know I'm lacking in the picture department so here you go!
I love this picture! I just wish it weren't as blurry.

and an even blurrier picture but you can kind of see how nice she is moving in this one. I love the pink blur of her boots :)

Now to just get her to carry herself like that when I'm riding her!


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Mashup

I have so many things to write about! I have been doing the things, just not writing about the things but I am happy to report that my pony is quickly becoming an incredible little athlete as well as a very mature and well behaved equine. I will catch everyone up on our progress soon, including pictures I promise, but for now I just want to catch up on some awesome VCBHs.



"Yay imagination time!  Well more imagination time for some of us and a tiny bit less for the rest of us. This week's blog hop is..... If you could/were so inclined to breed your horse (1.. let's not get into the issues of backyard breeding and 2.. let's pretend your horse is a mare if it's not) WHO would you breed your horse to and Why!"

Luckily enough, don't you roll your eyes, I do have a mare and while I'm sure I will never breed her I have done some "what if" thinking. Be warned that I haven't put any real thought into what Katai needs improved or if these particular stallions could make any of those improvements. Mostly this is just a case of "ooooooo pretty!"


1. Aspen Way Gala Night

To me, this is the way a horse should look. I adore every thing about him.

Plus he has dressage skillz.



2. Gladheart Linhawk

Gladheart is a 13.3 hand Morgan stallion that has been shown to PSG. 

You would think that I have a thing for black horses but actually its really not my favorite color, these two just happen to be black.

Ideally I'd want the foal to mature to 13.3-14.2 hands.


VCBH: Bit it Up

" I want to hear all about what bit you ride your current beastie in and why!"

I ride Katai in a Neue Schule Eggbutt. Its a pricy bit but it is also the only bit I could find that came not only smaller in width but also in diameter. Katai wears a 4.5" bit, and even that is fairly loose, and has a very low pallet. One of the first bits I tried on her made her extremely fussy and something seemed weird so I pulled open her lips and looked and discovered that she couldn't even get close to closing her mouth. Talk about uncomfortable! I would be fussy too. When I switched to this bit I still expected some baby gnawing but she just went completely quiet in her mouth and still is. So much so that I've never used a flash and hope to never need to.
This bit is basically the equivilent of a pony sized Sprenger and I will never use anything else. Luckily they have several different styles so hopefully if I ever need to try anything else I will be able to find it in a Neue Schule.

Katai updates to follow!

Friday, May 16, 2014

In Love with Lessons

My decision to move to this barn has been so well confirmed this week. I adore my instructor (coach would be a better word) and my pony has been quickly returning to her normal self. After my rides last weekend I wasn’t able to make it out to the barn on either Monday or Tuesday because of my social life.


I swear, I never used to have any kind of social life at all and now it feels like it’s been getting out of control. This weekend I left completely open so that I could relax and take care of normal things like dishes and laundry and focus on Katai.


At any rate, on Wednesday morning I planned on going out to the barn to ride and work with Katai but I got an email from J that she would be unavailable for my lesson on Thursday because of a show, Eventing, that she would be coaching her students at. So instead I had my lesson last night at 8:00pm. I was thinking that Katai might misbehave because of the late hour and change in her schedule but she was actually really excellent and best of all I had my first lesson riding her!


That lesson confirmed for me that J is exactly the coach that I hoped she would be. She approved of what I’ve done so far but I found several things that I would have done wrong if I had continued on my own which is exactly why I moved her when I did. Even better, while she sees and is honest about Katai’s limitations she has never questioned me for riding a nontraditional pony and being interested in dressage. She has praised Katai for her brain and said several times how cute she plus she recognizes that I’ve ridden in the past and I’m not completely incompetent but really NEED good instruction since I just haven’t had it. She is also an incredible horseman at everything from groundwork, to tack fit, and of course riding and while she is currently helping a student who rides at PSG and is schooling GP she is really good at teaching me the basics.


Last night we started out by trying some saddles. I had brought both the saddles from the previous post and it turns out that neither one actually fit. Then we also tried a dressage saddle that was at the barn as well as another close contact saddle which is what I ended up riding her in but even that one didn’t really fit. Katai was decently good standing in the arena while we messed around with her and she is figuring out how to stand still even if it still isn’t really her strong suit. I think the plan had been to do more lunging with her but with J’s close contact saddle on she asked about what I wanted and I said to ride. J was concerned about the girth, and I think about Katai since she’s only ever seen her as a little fireball on the ground and never with someone on her back. She did allow me to climb up though and after some initial corrections to the way I mount, I’ve always been pretty haphazard about it really and have gotten even sloppier recently, she gave me a pony ride around a 20 meter circle for quite awhile.


She helped Katai understand some of the concepts, like stretching into contact, that we are working on and it was wonderful to have help on the ground because it is something I’ve never had. After a few laps in each direction, and a reminder that I could hop down if needed, she finally let me go and stood back. Katai was her normal workmanlike self even if she was very forward. She listened and we had some great moments and I think that J was able to relax a little seeing that I wasn’t going to be instantly killed. Katai really has been pulling some interesting behaviors on both myself and J and has been quite the handful over the past few weeks so I can completely understand what J would have to worry about. Luckily I’ve gone slowly enough and strictly enough with her under saddle training that she really is a little doll about being ridden even if she isn’t always on the ground which is something I’ve mentioned before.


Tonight Katai just had grooming/cuddle time. I did try yet another saddle on her but again it didn't fit. I am starting to figure out where I've been going wrong though and hope to get this figured out soon. I've pretty much had every saddle from the tack shop out on trial at this point and the clerks are starting to laugh at me when I come in :/ Oh well, it will all be worth it when I finally have a saddle that fits!!


Muddy pony is muddy and very happy to have some hand grazing time with me. Next item of business is to get her used to the wash stall ;-)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Saddle Fitting Purgatory

We haven't killed each other yet. In fact things are going pretty darn well with both the crossties and training. I've had two lessons with J where we worked with Katai now and I've been extremely proud of my pony. The gaps in training that she's found are things that I guess I knew I was being lazy about and just needed a third party to remind me of. One of those is that Katai is horrible, and has been horrible, about standing still. Trying to do anything like tighten a girth, or adjust a bridle is almost impossible and frustrating and while I tried for awhile to correct that I think I finally just sort of gave up on it. I've been reinforcing that she needs to STAND still now though and it is getting better.

In our first lesson we worked on leading as a step towards properly lunging which is something I've never been taught. I just copied what I saw people doing when they lunged their horse and eventually figured it out through trial and error. J had me start by leading, while facing out, Katai around the track of the arena. Every time she tried to budge her shoulder in or leave the track she got a correction and as long as she was walking nicely on the track we left her alone. As J mentioned several times she is extremely smart and figured it out pretty quick so at my next lesson we progressed to lunging her with sidereins. Again I was so proud of my pony! J was expecting to have trouble with her but she was a little saint and did it just like I'd taught her to listening to voice commands and our body positioning.

Other than the fact that I really did need to learn this and have already seen differences in Katai since J started teaching me how to work with her correctly, I haven't been riding because J pronounced both of my saddles "hopeless, don't even try to ride in them. Put them up for sale immediately." I was pretty sure that was going to be the case so I was prepared but what I wasn't prepared for was that she said I needed to start looking at close contact saddles. It was honestly kind of a painfull thing for me to hear. I LIKE dressage saddles. They are comfortable and put you in the correct place for dressage. However, I have spent more of my time riding in a close contact saddle than a dressage saddle and I've actually been wanting one again for going out on hacks since I like to be able to get off of my horse's back when cantering and like being able to vary my position more than you can in a dressage saddle. I didn't want to have one as my main saddle. The more I thought about it though the more I realized that I'm not only lucky to have an instructor that puts Katai's comfort above all else but that she is comfortable and flexible enough to go with a close contact when a dressage saddle isn't working. Mostly I was happy to finally have someone tell me what I needed so that it wouldn't all be on my shoulders and I was looking forward to finally being out a saddle fitting purgatory.

I am so lucky to have a great local tack shop that's only about 15 minutes away from my house that has an excellent saddle trial program as well as TONS of saddles! Over the past couple of days I picked up and tried over 8 saddles to finally end up with these.


The dressage saddle at the end is one of mine that is for sale but the other three are a Collegiate Event, a Beval, and an Albion. They will be coming with to my lesson on Thursday for saddle tryouts with J. It is really very odd to see all those CCs and APs in my apartment when its normally all dressage saddles. We are going to be stylin too with our pink lined black bridle, black stirrup leathers, black stirrups and brown saddle :-)

I've riden her now in both the Albion, on Saturday, and the Beval, on Sunday, and while I prefer the Beval I do really like both of them. It is so weird to be riding in a CC again though!