Monday, June 23, 2014

Oh Mare, and Friends!

Last week was great, that is until I had my lesson. I had ridden on Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday and she had the other days off. I had planned on lunging her one other day but we've had thunderstorms almost every day and I've just been lucky that some of them left my evenings free. My lesson on Thursday started off ok and she lunged well but as soon as I climbed on I found out that she was not going to be easy. She was speedy and then balky and she kept getting above the contact. She fought me and J on every. little. thing. We finally found a brief moment of harmony and quit while we were ahead. 
This look pretty much sums up the whole lesson.
Or maybe this one...

Ponies :-)

Then on Friday which is normally a day off for her I went to hang out with friends and I, ahem, indulged a little more than I normally do and woke up on Saturday just wishing I hadn't. I was pretty rough until later in the afternoon and I knew I wasn't capable of doing anything with the brat queen herself so I just left it. I rode yesterday and was waiting for her to try the evasions she had attempted on Thursday but nope, nothing, pony was a sweet little angel just like I know she can be. Today I rode as well and again she was sweet angel pony and again tried none of the same evasions she was pulling in the lesson. In fact she gave me time both days to work on myself which is great and very mature of her :)

I would say that the difference is my fault and that I'm putting more pressure on us during lessons, and I'm sure I am, but after thinking about it over the past few days I think it is more likely that she was upset because the mares had been brought in and given their dinner of grain and hay. She had been eating grass all day but of course grain time is her favorite. Most of the time J times it so that won't happen around lesson time but this time it did.

I can't wait for tomorrows ride to see if we can continue in this positive cooperative way.

In other news, one of my close highschool friends is coming back to town! Her name is Haley and I haven't seen her in around 7-8 years. I didn't see her much at all in college and now she's been in college in North Dakota but she moved back to the northern part of the cities and is going to be boarding with me!!! She messaged me a few months ago asking about good boarding barns and I gave her a whole list. I really didn't think that we would ever end up at the same barn but after watching my lesson as well as the three lessons after me she was completely sold on J's teaching style and the overall feel of the barn and is moving her horse here.

I am so completely pumped! She also has a 14.1 hand pony named Gryffin, isn't that adorable!, and it will be wonderful to have someone I know to ride with and hang out with. 

Gryffin :-)


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Ponies are People Too

Things have been great recently! Lessons have been rolling along smoothly and the pony is giving up some of her tension and misbehavior for compliance and sweetness :) 

On the unhappy front I had "the talk" with J and while I had to pry it out of her she did say that she thinks Katai is too small and that she wants to see me on something bigger and more talented. In a way it's a huge compliment that she feels like I have the skill to make some progress in this sport. 

I have put even more thought into it but ultimately I feel the same as I did before. I realize that riding a pony isn't everyone's cup of tea and if anyone would have asked, before even hearing what J thought, I would have guessed that she would have said Katai was too small. I mean she doesn't have more than one or two horses below 16 hands and the horses she has her more talented clients on are all closer to 17 hands. Plus we are talking dressage where a 15 hand horse is considered a pony. 

I have also always had in the back of my head the thought that if riding Katai stops being fun or I feel underhorsed I can find her a little girl and I can move on. I don't want that right now though. She brings a smile to my face every time I ride her and unlike some ponies I've ridden she never feels small when I'm on her back. In fact she feel like a much larger horse. 

Just to be sure I went and did all the research on sizes again and I'm currently well within the guidelines on size. Plus, by the time I finish prep for the Ragnar I'll be even lighter! She's never shown any discomfort in her back despite being young and asked to move a different way then she would out in the field and I'm constantly checking her over for any discomfort.

Who could ever turn down this face (she's unhappy because I'm taking the picture right after she finished pooping. So rude of me)

Ultimately it comes down to what I want vs what other people think I should want and I've never been good at standing my ground. When I first got home after that conversation I did some horse shopping just to see what would happen and while there are some beautiful horses out there that I would die to own they are all WAY out of my budget, 25,000-50,000,  now or anytime in the near future. Frankly, riding Katai is soooooo much fun that I'm going to be extremely picky if/when I ever horse shop again and since I'd really like to stick with ponies it really wouldn't answer J's wish for a larger horse beyond maybe a few inches.

Just because I've been obsessing I'm going to share with you some of the examples I found of adults riding small ponies successfully. Just for comparison Katai is about 13.2 1/2 hands, five years old and wasn't really started until she was around 4.5 years. I am 5'4" and, as they would say on some of the forums I've been perusing, just over 9 stone.

This is a 14 hand Arab cross with a rider that is the same height as me but slightly heavier. She competes endurance and in this picture the horse is 21 and still competing to this day at 23. Has never had an issue with her riders size.


14 hand pony with a rider that is three inches taller than me and also a fair amount heavier (with my comparison picture :). They have been competing at advanced dressage in Europe and scoring upper 60s.

13.2 hand pony that competed for almost 20 years in endurance with this rider who is my height but a little heavier than me. Again, no soundness issues.

13.3 hand pony with a rider about and inch taller than me and again heavier. This has been her main mount for the past several years  and no soundness issues.

As always reining horses come up with a common height of around 14-15 hands and riders around 215 pounds at times and they are asked to be quite athletic. Iclandics are often ridden by people much larger than me and I know a few that are going strong at 20+ years. Finally, Paso Fino horses were mentioned and are a similar situation to Icelandics in that they are small and often carry large men.

I am very good at obsessing :)

Monday, June 2, 2014

My Crazy Weekend


My barn was having a schooling show this Saturday. I hadn't planned on entering but at the last minute J told me that there would be a sport horse In hand class and I REALLY wanted to show Katai. There were a few problems including that I have a white pony who is still pretty sure that the hose is going to eat her so a real bath would be tricky, I have no idea how to do sport horse in hand, plus I haven't ever made Katai trot next to me and even if I could get her to it certainly wouldn't show off her trot very well. I hate being unprepared so I decided to skip it this time but on Friday evening J asked if I would scribe and I jumped at the chance.

It really was great to scribe and get a feel for what the judge was looking for. This was my first time and I was a little nervous but the judge was very patient and helpful and I feel like its a good life skill. I was glad it was a schooling show and that no one showed over 1st level since those tests were already difficult enough.

It was great to spectate and help out, and I would certainly scribe again in a heartbeat, but hopefully I can ride in the next one!

Then on Saturday I ran my first 5K, not an event just on my own, with only one short 15 second walk in the middle! It was my first time running over two miles and I hadn't done that since last year. Tonight I ran another 5K and cut off 3 minutes :)

I'm really glad that I'm making some improvement because I'm entered in a Ragnar in August https://www.ragnarrelay.com. I'm excited but extremely nervous because this will be the first sporting event that I've ever been a part of. I never did any sports as a kid other than riding and even with riding I never had lessons or anyone to push me so I sort of putzed along and just had fun, which is great don't get me wrong but it doesn't encourage any type of fitness. I was certainly never an athletic kid and while my family did lots of hiking and we would sometimes go on long bike rides it was never easy or especially fun for me. I was never thin but going through college and grad school I was starting to get a bit tubby. It's not something that I've ever really brought up on this blog but it was seeing a picture of myself riding Myshla that made me decide I had to change something. 

I started running last year but never made it over two miles and only did that a few times. This winter I didn't run at all because I didn't have access to a treadmill so this year I had to start all over and I am so glad that I did! I'm actually starting to enjoy it and I can tell how much more fit I am just since I got back to it at the beginning of May. Since I started working on my diet and exercise about three years ago I've lost over 40 pounds and my goal is to lose about 15-20 more. Training for the Ragnar this summer will certainly help! 

Finally on Sunday my sister came to visit and came with me to the barn. I was able to convince her to take some pictures. She rocks! They are a little blurry but they are also almost the only pictures I have of me riding Katai so I don't even care.





Can you tell how much I love this pony :-)

Please forgive the wonky elbows and hands. Between the green baby pony things, the fact that J wants my hands a little low and wide right now to help her stretch down, and the fact that I haven't really ridden much at all for the last month since Katai got to the barn my position has certainly been better. Now that I finally have a saddle that fits and a pony that behaves I can start to do the work to bring it together.