Thursday, May 29, 2014
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Friday, May 16, 2014
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!!
Sunday, May 11, 2014
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.