Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Not Wordless Wednesday

My pony is amazing!! 

I've had two rides since she started feeling better after #mareproblems and both times I've gotten some really great work. She's been emotional and a pain to handle on the ground. I'm chocking it up to her being moved to the pasture and all of the horses being out of sorts because their routine is thrown off. Plus the weather has turned and we've been having 40* days and 30* nights.

Of course it doesn't mean it's not frustrating. 

However as soon as I mount up she goes right into work mode. She's been a little up still when we first start out but after just a little lateral work she calms right down and has even been less rushy. I can believe how nice she's been especially with her contact and using her back. Her canter has also really improved!

I'm also excited to say that I've been fixing things. Thanks to that video I was able to identify some of the things I need to fix such as not leaning forward, getting my shoulders back and keeping my elbows more stable. I've also remembered how to post properly and have been getting rid of my hunter posting style that I definitely blame on J.

Of course this has been helping Katai as well so we are really starting to look like a team :) I can't wait for my lesson on Sunday!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Pasture Pony Weekend

The mares finally got moved out to the pasture and thanks to our amazing, resident, photographer I've got a couple of nice pictures of my pony :-)

Look at how white she looks!!

Katai is not happy with the grazing muzzle situation but she's just going to have to live with it since it's the only way to keep her from foundering on the pasture.

Her chaffing was WAY better yesterday otherwise I would have had the vet out today. I talked to a couple of people and they gave me some suggestions for how to avoid this in the future and I'm pretty sure that I'll have stock in Vaseline and Bag Balm soon. I'm so anxious to be able to ride my girl again and the plan is to ride tomorrow as long as she's feeling completely well so look for another update soon.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Videos and #mareproblems

Here are the videos I promised! Please let me know if either of them don't work and I'll work on getting them fixed.

The first video is of our progress from June 2014 - March 2015.

The second video is of our most recent lesson. Be gentle please, I know there is a lot of room for improvement but I'm having fun :-)

As far as mares go, I had last been out to the barn on Tuesday evening and didn't make it out on Wednesday or Thursday. Tonight when I went to catch her she seemed off but I couldn't quite tell what was going on. My first thought was that she had been standing at the roundbale for awhile and was stiff but it wasn't getting any better even after we had been walking for awhile. I noticed that her back legs were covered in mare goo, after having just cleaned it off on Tuesday, and when I looked closer I saw that she had a bunch of mare goo everywhere and was really, really chaffed between her back legs. Poor girl, no wonder she didn't want to walk :-(

I just feel like such a bad horse owner. I mean I've heard about mares having this problem but I've never had this issue with her since I keep her pretty clean. If in two days she did this to herself I just don't quite know what to do. I got her kind of cleaned up, she was in enough pain that I was worried I'd get kicked, and put a whole bunch of swat everywhere hoping that it would act as a lubricant. Tomorrow I'm going to pick up some baby wipes and baby rash ointment and hopefully finish cleaning her up and add some more ointment to help heal.

Does anyone who owns a mare, or has owned a mare, have any advice?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Pony Power

Last Sunday I went to see H’s lesson with Bill Solyntjes and I have to say he is incredible! I had heard such great things about him in the past and he really is such a calm, positive, knowledgeable expert on dressage that I’m a bit jealous that H has the opportunity to study with him. Her pony, we think he’s probably a Morgan, has amazing suspension at the trot however he was still struggling at the canter but at her lesson on Sunday she had a breakthrough which was amazing to see and I was so glad to be able to celebrate with her :-) I was also able to return the favor she did me last weekend and take a whole bunch of video of her ride.


I also got to meet another resident pony at Bill’s barn who is a 14 hand GRP. She is an amazing little character and is trained to I-1. Her owner was understandably so proud of her and we had a great talk about how incredible ponies are and how none of us would ever own anything else. 


Here's a video of her

The barn was bustling the entire time I was there with people tacking, untacking, and grooming/working with their horses. Everyone of them rides dressage at various, but mainly upper levels, and I have to admit that I’m a bit jealous about that too. Add to that the fact that H got to audit a Janet Foy clinic and I'm slowly turning green haha. Pretty much the only thing I miss from J’s barn was that there were ALWAYS multiple people riding and all of them rode dressage. It created such a wonderful atmosphere to be able to talk dressage and horses with like minded people as well as being able to look up to them and motivate me to make progress so I could ride that way. Now at my current barn, which I do really love, the majority of the riders are western and while there are 6-7 people there that are pretty serious about dressage my schedule never seems to put me at the barn the same time they’re there. The barn is also spread apart enough that even if there is someone else there I may never see them. Again, I’m not complaining since it is an amazing facility but I have to admit that I’m beginning to wish that I were located on the other side of the twin cities so that I could have the possibility of boarding at the barn H is at since it is such an amazing dressage barn and I'd love to be able to work with such an incredible dressage trainer.


As far as my pony goes, this week our weather has turned and we are back to barely getting above 50 degrees. I had to focus on some stuff at my apartment last night so I didn’t get a ride in but now tonight I rode again and Katai was really tense and rushy again. I'm proud to say though that we worked through it together as a team and got to a point where we were getting some decent work. It certainly wasn't the best she's been but it was a huge improvement over the start of the ride. I'm going to try to increase my rides to 4-5 per week and see if I can handle that addition to my schedule because I think it would be a huge benefit to both of us.

I'll leave you with a post bath picture of my pony. I had to document how white she was since it will be awhile before I see her like this again :) 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Badly Needed Update

So much has happened since my last real blog update that I think it’s time to do some catching up. I am starting to feel better but this cold is still hanging on and I’ve had way too little energy for all the commitments I have. Being an adult sucks sometimes!


Katai has been awesome. She is really maturing into a nice pony and just over the past couple of months has matured to the point where I don’t worry about leaving her cross tied while I’m getting tack or when a horse leaves her by herself. She deals with our slightly claustrophobic gate situation in the paddocks without batting an eye and goes right into work mode 80%-90% of the time when we enter the arena.


Prior to getting so sick I did get a nice lesson in with L and although she is out of town next week we decided that after that I will take weekly lessons! I’m so excited that I’m able to, and that she thinks we’re at a point where that will benefit us, because I’m sure we will make much more steady process that way. I am going to have to change my budget a bit but I think it is worth it. The lesson on Sunday went really well and it was awesome to have H there videotaping it. I have to admit I was shocked and slightly disgusted with my riding which is exactly why it’s good to have video of myself. I have unfortunately picked up some bad habits from J who encouraged a very forward, hunter style, posting trot as well as a chair seat and slouchy shoulders.  Who knows why really but now I’m paying the price L (Not that I was perfect before by any means but this has just increased the number of bad habits that I have to deal with.)


Katai is still quite rushy but we are starting to make progress there and her contact has gotten so, so much better. It’s both more steady and she gets it earlier in the ride rather than needing to work almost half an hour to really get her on the bit it’s now down to a few minutes. She is also starting to have relaxed moments at the trot even though they are few and far between. The most frustrating thing for me is when she gets tense and rushy and then starts blowing me off. It’s like her brain is a million miles away and I’m trying to yell at her but she’s not hearing me. Those are the moments when I start to get frustrated but I feel like everything else is a positive, if slow, work in progress.


I am going to share some videos, one from right when I first started riding at J’s and the other from this last lesson. I’m honestly terrified to share because it doesn’t seem like we’ve made enough progress but then I remind myself that for the 6 months we were with J we were actually going backwards and the progress we’ve made has pretty much been from December – April and I feel a bit better. My instinct is only to show the pretty moments but then this wouldn’t be a true journal of our progress and I’ve been realizing that I wish I had more video of when things were falling apart with J so that I could really see how much progress we’ve made now without her. That made me decide that it’s time to post some of these things. However, I need to get them all to the same place, like YouTube and do some editing just for length before I post and with how busy I’ve been lately I’m not sure when that will be but you can look forward to cringing at my riding sometime soon.


In other news I’ve gone Vegan, for health and diet reasons primarily although animal rights and environmental benefits are an added bonus, and I’m really enjoying it. I’m discovering foods and flavors that I’d forgotten or never knew existed which is fun. I will be sharing some food stuff both with recipes and meals that I’m eating etc because I think it’s really interesting and fun. The reason I bring it up here is that during my foray into natural horsemanship previously some of the people I spent time with were vegetarian or vegan and said that their horses treated them different. I can only imagine that to an animal with such an advanced sense of smell the difference between an animal that eats meat vs one that eats only plant based food would be extremely huge. I’d, however, never really thought it was true but I’ve noticed a HUGE difference in Katai’s behavior with me recently. She keeps wanting to rest her nose against me, share breath, cuddle, and she’s much quieter when I’m handling her doing things that previously were scary like clipping or spraying her with flyspray. I can imagine that it would be the difference between a predator and a pasture mate. Of course this is all just speculation but I do find it interesting!


I also, back to dressage related topics, officially ordered my saddle! I mailed the tracings on Monday April 20thbut they probably didn’t get there until closer to the 24thso I’m starting my countdown on April 27th which means that I’m about two weeks in at this point. The estimate would have been 4-6 weeks but because of the redesigned block he said it would take more time so I’m estimating 8 weeks which would be sometime around the end of June. I’m so so so so so excited and to prepare have been slowly working on deciding which pieces of tack to purchase so that everything will be Havana and therefore match.


Thanks to all of your suggestions I decided on a Micklem for Katai’s bridle and I picked one up from our local tack store last night! I was little concerned about how she would deal with the chin strap since I’ve never ridden her in a flash but she was extremely quiet. She didn’t fuss at all when I bridled her and she was also quieter as I was riding. It wasn’t a 180* change but she was at least a bit softer on the contact and at least slightly less fussy. I’m interested to see how she goes this weekend!


Pony didn’t want to stand still for pictures.

 Of course, since I don’t like the thick rubber reins that came with it, that meant that last night I rode with a black saddle, brown girth, black reins, and brown bridle so now I just need to find brown reins that I like and pick up some brown stirrup leathers and then we will be all set!

Just because I love this photo

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Nearly Wordless Wednesday

I’ve been absent because I picked up a bad cold last Thursday, summer colds suck, and then ended up with either heat stroke or food poisoning on Sunday which led to me spending about 7 hours throwing up and generally miserable while still dealing with this dratted cold. Now I'm just still trying to recover and catch up with life.

Luckily I got my lesson in on Sunday before I got sick and thanks to H I now have some lovely video stills to share :-)


With my current decision to move I didn't have to think that long to decide which barn I would move to if I could. The barn I'm movi...