I'm so happy right now! I drove out to the barn first thing on Saturday morning and was preparing myself the whole time for her to still be off. When I got there I tacked her up and put on side reins so that I could start off lunging and then hopefully ride after. She still seemed a little tender on the concrete but once she got to the arena footing she looked excellent! I had my fingers crossed the whole time and when I first asked her to trot she was really reluctant so I got nervous but other than clearly being stiff she was sound!
I had her walk, trot, canter each direction on the lunge and then climbed up. Her saddle was really sliding forward badly which I think was a combination of gaining some weight (pony's got a cute little hay belly right now) and losing some muscle behind her shoulders. Under saddle I walked and trotted and when I went to canter I got her first real bronc moment. I looked down and realized that her saddle had really slid forward but made her canter a circle first so that she didn't think that I'd get down for that type of behavior. Then I called it a day.
Today I started off lunging her again. Part of me was worried that after our work yesterday she'd be a little sore again but other than seeming a bit stiff to start out again she was brilliant and very sound. I walk, trot, cantered her again on the lunge and then just as L was getting to the barn I climbed up.
Katai was VERY reluctant to bend her rib cage to the left. This was normal for her but was getting better and better prior to our three week break. Today it was pretty bad but thankfully between her being more mature, stronger, and better trained and me being smarter and better trained we figured it out by the end of the lesson and with very few theatrics from Katai. She had a few stiff, trot sewing machine, canter moments but mainly kept her head about her and she never pulled any rearing or balking crap. After a couple of great stretchy bendy circles in each direction we called it a day before we made her too sore.
I was really happy with that but during my 1/2 hour drive home I always analyze how everything went or felt and after about 15 minutes I came to this sort of stunning realization that the entire time I was riding I was feeding myself self defeating self talk. except it wasn't so much about me, it was about my pony.
See Katai is enough for me, she always will be. I've had these scenarios that I play over in my head when I'm day dreaming where some rich parent comes up to me at a show (where we're showing 2nd level or something) and offers me some outrageous amount for my pony like $50,000 and I turn them down. Katai is literally everything I love about horses, she's my perfect match and there's no way that I'd sell her now or in the future when we are riding at 2nd level.
However, some small part of my brain has always related the amount I got her for (basically free) to her worth. I mean we all probably do it to some extent. There's a big difference between this;
Clearly if you had the former you'd blame yourself for mistakes, you'd feel like you could do anything, you'd expect that you'd be riding at a high level fairly quickly and (speaking at least for myself) I would certainly pay for the best instruction and care team that money could buy so that we didn't "mess up" this talented (and expensive) horse.
I'd also spend twice the time grooming that horse, have more chiro appointments scheduled, certainly more massage appointments and I'd have the saddle fitter out more often. I know, I know just because the horse is worth more it doesn't mean that it deserves any of this more than my pony. I truly do understand that Katai deserves everything that that horse does but I would just expect to do those things for that horse while me, and everyone around me, is surprised when I do those things for my pony. It's just the way that human thought process seems to work and it's something I've been fighting ever since I got Katai. I love that I get to do all these things for my pony regardless of the worth that someone might place on her and again, I think that she's completely priceless, but my traitor brain doesn't always play along with my heart in this case.
In the car I realized that today as I was riding I kept thinking that "this little pony just can't do this", "she's not talented", "she's sore because she's not talented", "she's not holding up because she's not a dressage horse", "she can't do dressage", "why are we trying to do this", etc. Despite this clearly not being the case I kept right up with the self defeating self talk.
I mean this is the pony that went from a sewing machine trot to such a long stride that the other local dressage instructor had to move the ground poles closer for a dressage horse she was riding (and not to compress stride). This is the pony that developed a stunning medium trot after less than a year of regular lessons and only about 4 months of a reasonably consistent riding schedule. This is the pony that now canters just off my seat cue and has developed a nice amount of jump to the canter, this is a sound, athletic pony and just about any sound, moderately athletic horse can do dressage at the lower levels but most importantly this is the pony that I chose to ride over any other horse. For me Katai is more than enough, the lower levels are more than enough and I still truly believe that we'll be able to achieve a bronze medal.
My damn brain, but again. This;
In the past when I moved her from the temporary winter barn to the barn with the crazy people I was extremely nervous. For some reason I was sick to my stomach thinking of moving her to that beautiful barn because I was worried that she'd be a little devil and she's clearly a scruffy pony and I'd have to own up to this being my scruffy devil pony. So I tricked myself, I told myself that I was actually moving Charlotte Dujardin's new, talented pony prospect to a new amazing dressage training facility where I'd be helping to exercise her. This pony prospect easily cost charlotte in the 5 figures like this guy and of course was exceptionally trained so she wouldn't have any issues with the move.
It actually worked. I was calm and proud of being able to bring this amazing pony to the new barn. Everyone there gushed over how amazing she was and I truly believe it's because I treated her like she was worth a million dollars. Pretty sad huh that I couldn't just be proud of my own pony. Now I need to do the same thing again only actually remind myself of how much Katai is worth to me. That needs to be enough and unfortunately after all the self defeating I've been doing I'm going to have my work cut out for me to reverse that to get my brain to actually acknowledge how much worth and love my heart has for this pony.
It feels traitorous to even post this here and looking at these pictures I know which I'd choose every time (just a hint, it's not the expensive one) but I'd rather acknowledge it and work on it then keep it a secret.