Luckily I have been riding regularily and spending a lot of time with my pony but between being in a long distance relationship, spending all that time at the barn, and having a hectic work schedule currently I just haven't been doing as much with my blog as I would like.
As you can see I've redone the layout of my blog since I was having trouble with the other format showing up correctly for me sometimes. I also want to try to be less blathery and give more details of what I'm actually doing and what we are working on. I know thats what I appreciate the most when I read other peoples blogs and of course pictures which I'm going to try to get more of.
I'm still occasionally struggling with having a pony while wanting to seriously pursue dressage. I am absolutely positive that this is something Katai has some natural talent at but she is tricky. J has said on multiple occasions that I deserve a medal for putting up with her or at she doesn't understand why I keep trying. It's not that Katai does anything dangerous or that she is that resistant, its more that she is extremely intelligent and once she thinks she knows what we want it is tough to get her to go down a different path.
Today I went out to the barn just after lunch and managed to have the grooming area and the arena completely to myself. She is getting so good and consistent with accepting the bit and being calm and patient for tacking up. Once we got into the indoor I walked her around for a bit, tightened her girth and mounted up. This whole week she's been racing off like a bat out of hell and today was no different. If she walks its at 30 miles an hour, she tries to break into a trot and gets prancy when she can't and once in the trot she can think only of cantering. Today I worked on just maintaining a light, consistent walk and tried really hard to get more relaxation. I was almost able to keep her at a walk just off my core and every time she broke I rode her laterally until she came back to a walk. I was only really able to get about half a circle before she would get prancy and speedy. Today I also tried using smaller circles to make her walk so I was doing many ten meter circles getting her to stretch into contact straight, with her back lifted.
After about 15 minutes of walk work with some improvement I moved to the trot. I've struggled with the idea of just walking her for our whole ride and have spent some of my schooling sessions doing just that but in the end it doesn't really seem to work. Instead she is often better if she can trot first as if then she isn't anticipating it. Her trot work today was worse than yesterday when she was just about perfect but was better than last week. After a few circles of trot I cued for a canter and got it after a couple strides. She has a beautiful canter and right now I'm trying the concept of cantering her a lot rather than keeping her from doing it. She anticipates cantering soooo much and loves it enough that I think if she could she would only canter. Today after several nice, and controlled circles, she actually thought of slowing down herself so I brought her back to a trot, slowed that down and then back to a walk. She still wanted to jig after that but did settle down more and was better than earlier in our ride.
I'm going to try trotting and cantering more at the beginning of our rides this week and see what happens. At the very least it should be a worthwhile experiment.
After fighting with some concerns this week that some of Katai's behaviors meant that she just wasn't suited for this I reached out to someone on COTH that I'm facebook friends with who also rides a medium pony in dressage. This person is currently starting PSG movements and her pony was never exceptionally tallented or anything she just believed in him and took her time training him and bringing him along. After speaking with her I am again thinking that J just isn't what Katai and I need right now. Unfortunatly there aren't many places around here with the level of care that Katai gets at J's, with the incredible footing that we have, and at the price. I wish I could afford to move her anywhere and to be able to drive anywhere so that I could get exactly the facility and instruction that I want but that just isn't the case right now so I came up with a compromise. I had already taken the month of November off lessons since I need to save some money to get my car fixed but I decided to try just taking one lesson per month for a few months after that. Hopefully that will give me the ability to move a little slower and more gently which is what I think Katai needs right now, while still having some guidance so that I don't make any huge mistakes. Hopefully she will make progress and be able to chill out a little and let me help her understand what we are trying to do. I'd like it if we could make some slow, relaxed changes over the winter so that going into spring I could take a few more lessons and get ready to go to a couple shows.
Only time will tell!