Friday, April 29, 2016

Redheadlins Blog Hop

Redheadlins started this amazing blog hop and I HAD to join.

After all I work in HR so I've heard all kinds of crazy things. I can certainly imagine a few concerns that people might bring to HR about Katai.

1. She gave me the stink eye

Like all mares Katai has really perfected the mare face. One example is;

Look at that glare
2. She's always talking

Katai is a big talker, she's loud and shrill and likes to express her opinion about how late her dinner is, even when she's still got leftovers from her last meal.

3. She put my stapler in jello

Yes, Katai would totally be a prankster. She loves to antagonize her paddock pal and would be exactly the type of coworker that would put your stapler right in a big bowl of jello.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Under Pressure

Yep, mainly my head. I've also been really headache prone my entire life and it's never worse than when I'm stressed or when the weather is changing. Right now there is some of both and so I've had a few days of bad headaches. I was doing ok until today when it got worse and I just didn't feel like I could function anymore. I was able to make it through work all day and was firmly convinced that I'd be able to make it to the barn but once I got home I just couldn't make myself climb in the car. I was functioning so poorly that I was forgetting to close the refrigerator door.

I wasn't able to go see Katai on Monday or Tuesday so now it's been three days and I miss my pony. I'd had a couple of weeks where I was at the barn 5-6 days per week and I had been neglecting my chores and home stuff so I guess it was time to catch up. I can't WAIT to see her tomorrow and I'm hoping she won't be too bouncy but she certainly has license to be a firecracker.

In other more positive news, I'm solidifying plans to go to the National Dressage Pony Cup again this year! I hadn't realized that it was in July since I'd been when it was in September but July actually works out better for me. I've requested some time off work and I'm talking to H about plane tickets and where to stay while we're out there.

There are a couple of people from H's barn that are going to show at the NDP so it will be fun to have someone there to cheer for in particular. I'll share updates on my gorgeous girl tomorrow!

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Ugly: Lesson Recap 4/24

Today was one of those lessons that felt ugly but accomplished a lot. Katai had been in all day and with our sort of weird week she wasn't feeling dressage time in the sandbox today. Also, after the Janet Foy clinic and a couple of clinic videos I watched I was doing more to correct her when she was misbehaving.

Pretending to be eventers with an awesome duct tape patch job
I had learned to do no, to almost no correction, when she was having meltdowns because once she started melting down she wouldn't stop for the rest of the ride. The problem is that now she's not doing that any more and when I'm not correcting her when she's doing something wrong, like bulging her ribs into my leg and not listening at all to my leg cues, I'm just allowing her to get away with something and not really teaching her anything. Today I started correcting her and then going back to how I was riding before and guess what, no meltdown!

Katai got rinsed off since she actually got a little sweaty. It was cold so she got to wear her baker while she was cooling off

She would react of course but that's what she's supposed to do. Then she would go back to her normal self except she would be listening better! Woohoo!!! I have a horse that is rideable. There was still a lot of ugly because then she would be a bit more spicy and I certainly got more head tossing than normal but we also had some amazing moments with a pony that was in front of my leg but listening to me. The fact that I started off with a very resistant and sassy pony who only wanted to canter and ended up with a compliant pony that was really listening and in front of my leg but not melting down is basically a miracle.

We were working mainly on movements from training level tests. We did a lot of using the whole arena and free walk diagonals as well as free walk zig zags. The closest we came to a meld down was when we were working on changing the bend through a trot diagonal and Katai didn't want to listen to my leg. I've got some homework here to make sure that I'm always riding her between my leg aids and demanding that she listen the first time that I ask and neither making me nag or even throwing herself into my aids (which is her favorite). Mainly though my goal is to do this without making her melt down so I'll be working on being firm but continuing to be tactful.

Should be easy enough...

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Vacation and Development

First, thank you all for your comments on my last post. It was very helpful and also made me feel better. I think my goal is to just take my worrying down a notch and push myself to ride her at least a little even when I think she might be sore since I honestly know that it will help and it isn't anything more than I'd expect for myself.

I've been really enjoying my vacation but it's been a busy few days. On Thursday I went to the barn and then threw a party for my roommate's birthday. Then Friday was MN Horse Expo day!! Honestly, it was fun but the vendors have been worse and worse for the past few years. The expo was always dominated by western tack vendors but this year it was particularly bad.

How Guy's horses started out. You can also tell that this wasn't very well attended although the bleachers I was sitting in were much more full
I did go for a few hours and saw Guy McClean and did a little shopping at the used tack sale but that's it. I didn't have any reason to stay after that so I didn't. The expo is always on the same weekend as Rolex and next year I'd really like to try to do Rolex instead.

Guy and two horses at liberty side passing over a horse that's laying down. The trust that the horses have in him is amazing.
After the expo I went to the barn with the goal of getting Katai in the outdoor arena again. She started off nice and calm but then something got to her and she went tearing around for awhile again. Finally she slowed herself down and we did a nice walk around the arena. I discovered when she slowed down that she'd put a massive hole in one the left rear leg wrap. One of those moments where I'm glad I put them on her because who knows what she might have done to her leg without it. Then, since she was calm, I climbed up and walked her around for a little while and finally did a short bit of trot and then canter. She remained calm but very up and forward.

Then Saturday, since she wore herself out Friday, I just wanted to take her out for a trail ride. I'll admit that I've become a bit of a DQ recently when it comes to riding out of the safe confines of the indoor arena but my goal for the next month is to get her outside at least a little every day. I know that she's going to melt down for the show next month but at least if she's really comfortable outside it will make things a little better. So, Saturday I braved up and rode her around the paddocks outside. I started at 12 riding at my parents by doing trail rides so I'm comfortable out there once I'm up and know how to safely diffuse situations, it's just that last time I rode her extensively outside was when she was a green baby and now, even though she's a trained horse, I have flash backs to that untrained baby horse. Plus, then she was unpredictable (my least favorite thing) but now she is far more athletic and able to do things that really could unseat me which she really wasn't up to before.

Random picture of the vegan sushi I made for dinner to break up the wall of text
At any rate she was pretty good on her baby trail ride. She started off not listening at all and thought a couple of times about doing something naughty. In the end though we had a very reasonable and calm walk around and then went out at a trot again. I just did a long trot along one side of the pens and then turned around and walked her back. She didn't want to go back and neither did I but the footing is still pretty iffy and she was still prepared to be naughty so before I pushed it that far today I wanted to just end on a good note.

Once I climbed off she didn't want to stand still so we schooled that a little and once I had a decent stand we went back, untacked, and then she got hand grazed for a little before I left for the Janet Foy clinic.

Janet was great to watch again and H rode really well. Last time her horse was being naughty (he's a pony and it's normal for him) but this time he was really chill and focused so they were able to accomplish a lot. Mainly she worked on getting him more even in the bend since, just like most horses, he's still pretty one sided. He is also strong on the same side that Katai is so it was really helpful to watch.

H and Janet talking about lengthening the upper part of her pony's neck
I saw part of the horse before H rode and he was an amazing Welsh/German Riding Pony that was probably right around 14 hands and extremely athletic. He was only 5 so they were just working on consistent rhythm and contact but oh my gosh was he ever amazing. I wish I had gotten there a little earlier so that I could have seen his whole ride! After H rode I watched part of a Friesian's ride but he and his rider were working on such different things than I am that I decided to talk to H instead while she untacked and cooled her horse out. Then I went back in to see this big grey Holsteiner that was training 3rd. He was a great horse, very balanced and extremely well trained. His trainer was up and seemed like a very accomplished rider. She and Janet were having fun with him and working on all of his buttons. It was fun to watch them improving his changes because even though it's way above my head, it's interesting to see how the same concepts are still used as at the lower levels.

Such a gorgeous horse even if he's about 3 hands too tall for me ;)

Working on Half Pass

We're making plans for the National Dressage Pony Cup this year and talking about our show seasons. H and her horse went to their first schooling show already and she said that he was a handful. She was also reassuring though that he was WAY better at the end of the show than the beginning and I'm hoping that Katai will be the same. He is 13 and she's 7 but still hopefully something from the show will stick and she'll retain it for the next one. H is also planning a whole bunch of shows this year so I think I'm going to try to add some to my schedule as well, I just have to figure out which ones!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Honesty Is the Best Policy

I had another post all planned out about my ride on Tuesday and today but then I realized that it was another post where I talked about Katai being a little sore or off and that by now anyone reading probably either thinks that;

A: My pony is broken
B: My pony is broken and why haven't I called the vet
C: That I'm a horse hypochondriac (spoiler alert, this is a little true)

So, I decided that instead of posting that again I'm going talk a little about what this is all about. Call this a little personal therapy session if you will ;-)

The first thing that feeds into this is that Katai is extremely honest. She really is a sensitive flower and is very clear about things when they don't feel completely well or if she's even slightly sore or uncomfortable. It doesn't mean that I give that any less weight to what she tells me, just that I need to translate that from the normal equivalent and I'm not very good at that.

who could say no to this face
The other thing is that I am a bit of a horse hypochondriac. At any small slight shortness or sore muscle (I poke and prod at her after ride especially if there's any type of shortness or attitude) and look for that kind of stuff. Plus, then when I find something like that I never know when I should actually ride and when I should call it and give her the day off or maybe just walk.

I know that I baby her too much but I'm just not sure what's ok. I know that to get her strong enough she needs to occasionally work with sore muscles, after all I do the same, but at the same time when is that ok and when is it not.

This also always gets worse when I fall in love. I had some horrible experiences when I was growing up on the farm. Many animals that I loved died and some in horrific ways. Sometimes they were babies or young animals that just shouldn't have died that early in their life. I learned to keep my heart at bay and now it takes me years in some cases to actually love. I've only just started to really be able to give my heart to Katai and with that comes treating her like glass. Also, every time she's a little off I start trying to pull my heart away since part of me seems to think that every time she's a little off it's a career ending injury or something that will lead to needing put her down.

Crazy I know but those scars are going to take awhile to heal since they were the first 20 or so years of my life.

So, my question to you is when do you call it. When do you ride through soreness and when do you call it and either do an easy ride or not ride at all. Or, is your horse the stoic type where you never know and just give them an easy day after you know they've had a tough one.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Sound Decisions: Lesson Recap 4/17

First of all I have to report that I still didn’t really work Katai 5 days this week. I started off strong with a walk ride on Monday because I had plans on Tuesday evening. Then on Wednesday I took Katai to the outdoor arena where she crazily lunged herself. On Thursday I had a great ride with no attitude where we accomplished a lot and then on Friday I went out to the barn because Katai was having her feet trimmed by the new farrier.

I love him!

It’s one of those "hindsight is always perfect" moments where I wonder why I didn’t switch farriers earlier. He and I laughed a bit at how it looked like she was standing on peg legs (gallows humor) and then he gave her a great, balanced, reasonable trim. I thought he might bring up shoeing her but he didn’t. I had my fingers crossed that she wouldn’t be too sore.
Katai's feet have been like B and now both are more like A.
On Saturday I went out to the barn mainly so that I could cancel with L if she was really bad and was extremely pleased (really that doesn’t even capture how ecstatic I was) when she was able to walk on concrete! I could tell that she was just slightly hesitant but compared to her last few trims it was a HUGE improvement. However, the farrier had changed her angles enough, especially on her right front, that I didn’t want to push her and risk injuring her. Instead she got pampered and then we went for a trail walk around the outdoor pastures and paddocks with a little hand grazing for good measure. It still felt productive since I’m hoping to start riding out her there again soon and she behaved really well.
Based on how sound she was I decided to go ahead with my lesson but to take things a little easy.

On Sunday she was just very, very slightly puffy right above her fetlock joint on her right front. You couldn’t see it but I know her legs really well and I could feel it. I mentioned it to L off the bat and she agreed that Katai was just very slightly hesitant on that leg. Because of that we did a lot of walk and then decided to try a little trot where L pronounced her "sounder than at the walk". Along with her new angles we’ve had a crazy temperature switch. Last week it was averaging in the mid 40s and this week it’s been averaging in the mid 70s. That’s a huge difference for the horses and they’ve all been sluggish and hot. On top of that we’ve been getting air pollutant warnings so L was having all of her students take it a little easy. With that in mind we did some trot work on shallow serpentines (I needed more work than Katai did) and after a few amazing accomplishments in each direction and lots of walk breaks we called it after about 30 minutes of a normally 45 minute lesson.

Making show plans...
Katai was an ANGEL the whole time. Even with the heat and everything else she had to be fussy about she just did exactly what we asked which made it an even better idea to quit early. She seriously gave me everything I asked for and never once said no which is such an amazing thing for this pony. I’m still walking on air today about how well this weekend went and I can’t wait to ride tomorrow!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Spring Schedule and Ride Recap

I have so many fun horse things coming up over the next 1-2 months!

To start off, this weekend I ride on Saturday, lesson on Sunday and then I’ll be going to see H ride in a dressage schooling show at a gorgeous facility on the west side of the twin cities!

The following weekend I don’t have any current horse related plans but then after that (sort of the following weekend) I’ll be riding in another Suzanne Winslade clinic on May 9th! So excited for that one.

Then, next weekend I have vacation Thursday and Friday with Friday being the start of the MN Horse Expo!! I LOVE going to the horse expo and usually take a day off so that I can spend a ton of time there. In the past it’s been an hour drive for me but now it’s actually within walking distance of where I live (I’ll be driving so that I can do more shopping but it will be a short drive) so that will mean that I can literally spend the whole day there on Friday. On Saturday I’ll be watching H ride in a Janet Foy clinic (!!!) and then we’re going to the expo after and finally I have my lesson on Sunday.

Then there will be another couple of quiet (maybe) weekends and finally on May 29th Katai and I will basically be doing our first real show. We did do one previous schooling show but I rode in the ring that I was used to having lessons in, with my instructor as my judge, and before the show actually started since I was able to be there then so that doesn’t really count.

To prepare for the clinic and show I’m working hard to make sure that Katai and I are both prepared even though I know the wheels will come off at the show. At least I won’t feel like I didn’t prepare her which will mean that I can be more relaxed.

Speaking of that, I’m so proud of both Katai and myself for our ride last night. To start off I really was thinking about not going. I know, I know, I’ve been trying to actually get 5 rides in for a few weeks now but it was gorgeous out and the plan for riding was to ride indoors. Plus, the next day was supposed to be nice as well and I was going to spend the afternoon/evening at the barn again getting Katai’s feet trimmed.

However, I did make myself go and was so happy that I did. It was very quiet at the barn, probably because everyone else was outside enjoying the gorgeous weather, so that meant that I got the arena to myself and we used all of it. To start off Katai was a little bit short and seemed stiff. I’m sure it was because she tore around on the lunge line yesterday in deeper footing but it did make me wonder how productive our ride was going to be. I ended up being surprised and pleased with her behavior since after our warm up she went right into work mode.

We did a lot of our ride using the whole ring including working on some leg yield. I definitely need to get my body in the right place but right now part of the problem is that when we start going straight down the quarter line Katai knows what’s up and gets fussy. That then makes it hard for me to concentrate on what I’m supposed to be doing and just doesn’t set us up for success. The focus last night was to get rid of that fussiness and make this just part of the routine so that Katai continues in the same balance and remains on contact. Then L can help me focus on myself. 

After we did several of those in each direction, playing with staying on the quarter line or sometimes doing a leg yield in either direction, and Katai was calmer and less fussy and took a brief walk break we did some walk/trot/walk transitions. This has always been a struggle for Katai but last night they were better than they’ve ever been. She was staying on the contact and not flinging her head in the air and I could really feel the power coming up and through from behind rather than feeling like we were falling apart on the forehand. She was also really responsive to my leg and going right into the trot when I cued rather than making me beg for it. Even better, she didn’t lose her mind the third or fourth time that I cued for it which is a huge improvement since these normally make her pretty hot.

Finally I decided to ask for a small amount of canter in each direction. Instead of asking her to do it from a slower trot I sort of let her run into in but I was concentrating on myself and making sure that I wasn’t hindering her forward movement by grabbing. Probably because of this, she did a really nice transition without throwing her head in the air and she remained calm and cool through the circle or two that we did. Going to the left, my tough direction from Sunday, I was focusing really hard on my left hand and keeping it forward (again I didn’t have enough contact but that’s better than jerking back as she makes the transition) and we had a lovely transition. She really sat and pushed forward and again remained calmer than she has.

The wheels fell off a little when we came back to trot. Katai was bulging her left shoulder into the circle really bad and didn’t want to bend. Plus she was like a runaway freight train and not listening to my cues to slow down. I got a semi decent half circle and then called it. I really didn’t want to work her into the ground especially after the rest of our ride was so nice and she normally has been doing really well in her trot after canter.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Spinning Like a Top

Our weather is finally turning nice!! It made it to the low 70s today and that was a great reason to get Katai outside for the first time since last fall. I have taken her out for a couple of walks and some time to hand graze but otherwise she hasn't been out since last year.

The goal for the next few weeks is to get Katai outside as much as I possibly can so that at least that part of the show at the end of May won't be too odd for her. I'm getting her out every day that the weather holds whether it's to ride or just to take her for a walk.

I felt like we had a 50-50 chance tonight whether she would be calm and normal or completely lose her mind. Spoiler alert...

It was the latter

During grooming she was really quiet and sleepy. I'm so happy to say that this no treats thing is working really well and she's quiet and pleasant and seems to enjoy my company. Katai was also really quiet and reasonable about walking to the arena which would have really made her hot in the past. I was still sort of thinking that there might be a chance that she would be calm and reasonable but when I got her in the arena on the lunge line she went right into a canter.

I could tell by her glazed over eyes that there was going to be no reasoning with her so I decided to just let her run it out. I tried to gently re-direct a few times but mostly just moved her around the arena and left her as far out on the line as I could so that she could make nice large circles. Eventually she calmed down and I was able to get her to make some walk/trot transitions. Finally I got her switched to go in the opposite direction and she got herself going again.

Eventually she wore herself out in that direction too and after a couple more walk/trot/walk/halt transitions I called it a day. She had run hard enough that she got herself slightly sweaty but nothing bad. I could tell that she didn't have much energy left but I have the feeling that she just needed this and that next time she'll be her normal calm self.

Honestly I was just really happy with how I handled it. I never got frustrated or tried to make something happen that just wasn't going to happen tonight. I was just calm and relaxed and let her do what she needed to and in the end that meant that her running didn't last as long as it likely would have and we had a nice calm walk back to the barn. I'm proud of myself for not getting wound up because even a few months ago that's what would have happened.

The plan for tomorrow is to ride inside but take her outside for a walk after. I'm fairly certain that Katai will be stiff, sore, and a little tired after her run today so I won't be too surprised if I get some fireworks. Hopefully though I can get some pictures!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

You Forgot Something

Not really, but Katai sure thinks I did.

L has been recommending that I do a walk only ride for a while now. Normally I work her suggestions into my rides the week following my lesson, however, this one has been tough for me. I’ll plan to do a walk only ride and then Katai will be going so well that I decide to just see how she’ll be at the trot, then she’s great at the trot and I’ll decide to just see how she’ll be at the canter.

This week was great though because I’m still slowly working to increase the number of rides I’m putting on her each week but she is still seeming a little tired or sore after a couple of more intense rides back to back. Plus, since I ended up with plans on Tuesday and needed to ride Monday (her normal day off since it’s right after her most intense ride of the week at my lesson) and Monday was spring shots day it was a great day to just stick to walk.

I started Katai off on the lunge and did have her trot a little in each direction since I knew that loosening her up would actually make her feel better. She was noticeably tight going to the left (probably all of those left canter transitions to help her rider) but not bad, just a little muscle sore. Then after a couple of circles in each direction at the trot I unhooked her from the lunge line and mounted up.

She was ready to be resistant to start off. Katai always feels a little icky after shots plus the muscle soreness so she was ready to be fussy if I asked for much but after I changed from loose reins to more contact a couple of times she relaxed and stopped being as sucked back and resistant. I had set up a single ground pole, that was just slightly raised, horizontal to the long side and used that to do some serpentines, 20 meter circles, and an exercise that L had me doing (sans ground pole) where I started about 3 feet from the wall on the long side, walked toward the other long side, halt, turn 180 on the haunches and go back the other way. 

So jealous of you jumpers and your diagrams so I figured I'd make my own.
Adding the ground pole in the center gave her something else to think about and something for me to aim at so that I could keep us going straight. Plus, picking up those sore back legs was a good stretch for her yesterday.

After a couple of those I got cocky and decided to try a walk pirouette. Without eyes on the ground I guess I don’t know for sure but it really felt like we nailed it! She was forward but we made a nice small circle with her haunches and she never got sticky or stuck. I only did a couple and then she got pats and I dismounted.

Where we struggle is her intensity and tension but she more than makes up for that in maneuverability so things like this are just easy for her. Now we just need to do more lateral work! That's where I struggle with my maneuverability...

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Best Teacher: Lesson Recap 4/10

Her tail is finally growing back out after rubbing it out last year.
Not saying that L isn't an amazing teacher but both of us learn so much from Katai. I'm lucky in how honest she is, even when that means bucking, kicking out, not taking the correct lead, bouncing, balking etc. I learn something every time and I love that L takes the time to figure out what she's trying to say rather than just encouraging me to scold her when she's doing something that could be considered naughty.

My lesson started out really nice, Katai was forward but relaxed and listening. After my first walk break though she got really hot when I went back to the trot and I had a run away freight train on my hands. All she wanted to do was canter and she really wasn't listening, L said she looked great but that she also understood what I was feeling. We talked a lot about adding forward but keeping submission but Katai really just didn't want to play today. All she wanted to do was rush.

Then when we started working on a transitioning to a canter on a spiral Katai started bucking, and cross cantering, and doing flying lead changes. At my last lesson I had reason to believe that she was just being naughty when she was bucking and that she had too much energy but when she was only bucking to the left on the spiral out (which was what she was doing last time during my lesson) I asked L about it specifically. Katai literally hadn't bucked once this whole week and now as we're doing the same exercise she starts throwing in the bucks again.

L watched me and said that I was pulling on my inside rein, the left rein. She asked me to cue for the canter again going out on the spiral and again even though I was aware I pulled back on that left rein just as she was going into the transition. After a couple more transitions I finally was able to keep my hand forward (not enough contact but better than pulling back) but it was tough.

As soon as I figured it out though I got a lovely, soft, relaxed transition from Katai and I could almost feel her sigh, like "finally, someone fixed my rider and I can do what I'm supposed to. I actually was wondering if she was waiting to be resistant until I was riding in front of L because she knew that L would help her fix me.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Recipe

I was thinking last night about how to structure my ride today and I realized that I had already found part of our current recipe for success and then promptly forgot about it. Earlier this month (I think it was prior to Katai's mounting flail thing) I was lunging Katai before riding her. Only for a few minutes in each direction but going through walk, trot, canter and really giving her a chance to warm up.

For Katai it's never about getting her bucks out since she is almost subdued on the lunge. Seriously, crazy things can be happening and Katai will just be in listening work mode the whole time. Every once in a while she'll break into a trot before I ask her to but most of the time she listens to everything I ask. I think that for her it's more about warming up, particularly her back, and finding her balance with the neck stretcher before I climb on.

This was working so well for the week that I was doing it but I don't know that I ever put two and two together and for that reason I sort of forgot about it. Today I started her out that way again and again had magical, floaty, dressage-unicorn pony.

She was hot but in this contained fun sort of way where she was lifting up and forward through transitions and it was all coming from behind. She was extremely light and floaty in front and all of her power was coming from behind. It felt like someone had traded my training level pony for a 2nd level pony overnight.

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego anyone? 
I was also riding her like I was (closer to?) a 2nd level rider today too. I was able to keep my lower half softer and more relaxed and was posting very consistently so that she had to follow my rhythm rather than the other way around. It was a little more work to keep her connected since she was lighter in front but I never really lost her either at least not for more than a few steps at a time.

I was also able to use both of my hips independently and I don't think I was twisting or collapsing as much after a week of conscious work in sitting straight and working to strengthen and be more aware of that side. It also helped me make my canter transitions better.

I'll find out tomorrow if I'm actually managing to not twist as bad.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Big Girl Trot

Tonight the plan was to just lunge since I'm still working back to 5 rides per week and wanted to make sure that Katai got an easier day. I'd rather go on a trail ride or something but the weather has been horrible for getting a hot young horse outside so since I don't like to die this is the safest option for both of us right now.

I got her groomed and tacked up and I actually had happier ears! She did pin them a few times but over all I think she was more relaxed and seemed less pushy.
This is what a 13.2 hand pony looks like to a short person
Then I put her on the lunge and after a brief warm up where she got to put her head where she wanted I put on the neck stretcher. It's been working really well lately and I'm happy with how she responds to it. As always recently I just sort of try to lunge her effectively but really inside I'm jumping up and down because my pony actually has some suspension! I think I've mentioned this before but I finally got video to prove it! First of all though, some stills :-)

My superstar pony

And now the video!

*I noticed when I was looking at these pictures and video how much her saddle slid forward. I hadn't girthed it very tightly so that's a part of it. It also looks like it's setting pretty high so I'm going to try tacking up without the sheepskin again next time.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

No Treat April

We'll get to that in a minute.

In about a month I'll hopefully have new clinic footage!
First of all, I had an EXCELLENT ride tonight. Katai seemed a little crabby when I was tacking up but wasn't sensitive anywhere and wasn't fussed about me tightening her girth. I'm guessing that she's maybe just as sick of the cold rain as I am. At any rate once I climbed up she was amazing.

She was really listening, other than one resistant moment at the beginning, and I was able to get her to go forward or come back as I asked. She was working through fairly well from the beginning and got very connected by the end. I had made it a goal to really use the whole arena so I started off riding her around the outside. A risky endeavor since Katai usually get's quite hot on the long straight lines however, tonight she was great and I was having so much fun that I must have had a big smile on my face for the whole ride.

After a couple of times around in both directions I gave her a walk break. Then when I picked her back up she actually listened and was calm and not rushing. I walked for a bit and then went back to a trot and did some shallow serpentines. I'll be honest, they were more for me than her. She was actually doing really well at changing the bend but I knew that I needed to get my body under control. I'm happy to say that I was already able to do better.

I've been doing stretches and some Yoga since my lesson on Sunday morning and I can tell that my lower back was all tied up. I'm not completely back to myself but I was able to control my left hip better and wasn't collapsing (at least not that I could catch) when I was going to the right. I'm going to keep working on it and see what L thinks on Sunday.

Hopefully both Katai and I can continue in this direction!

In other news Katai has been getting very opinionated about treats. I've always used treats with her for training and as rewards for specific things but every once in a while I go a little overboard and then usually catch myself and cut back for awhile. Earlier in the year I cut her down to about four treats per ride. One to catch her, one to put her bridle on, one after a good ride, and one when I put her back out. However, this time that hasn't seemed to make a difference and she's still giving me nasty pinned ear expressions and being pushy in little ways where she thinks she won't get caught.

I'm done with her having her ears pinned every time I look at her so I'm cutting her off entirely for April. My hope is that I can then reintroduce a treat after a good ride but honestly if this works I might just say no more treats for the pony mare.

I honestly think it stresses her out too because she's trying to figure out how to boss me so that I'll give her treats. Take that way and she doesn't need to try to control that anymore.

Lest anyone think I'm being mean, I'm cutting my snacking volume way down for April as well ;-)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Twisted: Lesson Recap 4/3

This week was tough for trying to schedule rides so I ended up with a Tuesday evening, Thursday evening, and Saturday evening. Every other day isn't good for me or for Katai since she always has too much energy when we start our ride and then never really settles in. This week the plan is for five rides (again) and I should be able to stick to it so that should make everything better!

At any rate none of my rides ended up being stellar and Saturday was no exception. Pony was hot and didn't want to settle. She was using any excuse to become extremely offended and then letting off a huge buck. She must have bucked seven times that evening, sometimes little ones, and it just makes me giggle every time. It's frustrating but just not really her fault, she just has energy to burn because I'm not riding enough days in a row and we're both bored of being stuck in the indoor doing circles.

Apparently Myshla taught her a lot about bucking
It actually wasn't a bad ride, I stuck with it long enough to get some great work, unfortunately that meant that Katai was tired for my lesson today and certainly wasn't all there. We did have some great moments and Katai was really through for most of the ride after we convinced her that she did actually need to work. We did get more bucks when I cued for the canter but otherwise we were just trying to take it easy on her.

After lesson tack cleaning with The OC
I think that's why L was paying more attention to me and noticed how horribly I've been twisting my body around. I felt like every time she correct me I could almost feel Katai sigh with relief, no wonder she's been having trouble falling in to the right.

Because no post, including a mention of The OC, when my name is Katlyn and I own a pony is complete without
After I finished riding L and I were talking about how I can work on un-twisting out of the saddle and she mentioned that I haven't been doing this for very long. I guess at first I thought that she was just noticing it for the first time but she thinks that it started right before the Suzanne clinic and after the month break. That does make sense that I lost strength and time in the saddle and then started to compensate.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

First Quarter Goal Review

Goals for Katai:
Speaking of goals, so proud of how we both look here.
Master our canter transitions
  - Nope, still on the struggle bus with this and I haven't been breaking these out and practicing them the way that I should. Of course it hasn't helped that Katai has had a few health issues already this year and we've lost over a month of riding. Not making excuses, it's just made it tough to make consistent progress. This is one of my main goals for the next couple of months.

Perfect Leg Yield
 - Not enough progress on this either but we have been practicing them more despite them not being perfect and that's a big deal for me. More practice needed!
Practice riding through at least two Intro tests and at least two Training Level tests
 - Nope, I have memorized Training 1 so that I can practice riding through it but now that I have an idea of what I'm going to do for the first show in May I'm going to focus on doing Intro A and Intro C to see where we have holes.

Sign up for at least two clinics
 - Done! I've ridden in one with Susanne Winslade and have signed up for a second in May. I have a feeling that I'll add at least one more later in the year so we should knock this one out of the park.
Go for a trail ride off farm property
 - Nope but that's the MN weather for you. This will happen multiple times this Summer and I have found someone to trailer me and go on trail rides with so that is some progress on this goal.
Attend at least two dressage shows
- Great progress on this one! I'm planning on at least 3 schooling shows and possibly a rated or two. I've got my entry form filled out for one at the end of May and am turning in payment for my stall this weekend.

Goals for Katlyn:

Continue with my own self improvement
- Yep! Great progress here and I've continued to experiment with vegan recipes as well as loosing some more weight and getting out more. 

Gain Strength
 - Another yep! I've continued with my work out at home and now I'm going to focus on getting a gym membership and doing more strength training. I'm also planning to do more running this year.   
Blog more often
- Meh - My goal is to average 15 posts per month and I just squeaked in 15 in March with way fewer in January and February. I'm going to keep working on this and hopefully do better for the rest of the year.

Better pictures and video both for blog posts and just for myself!
 - I think this is getting a little better. Still no high quality photos but we've also been stuck in the indoor so far with poor lighting. I'm pleased that I got some photos of the clinic and with more posts I've also been able to share more photos. This is another big goal for the rest of the year though. 

Purchase a set of show clothes and tack
- Almost complete! I've got a decent set of schooling show/clinic appropriate attire now. I'd like to add another pair of white breeches but that's not needed for schooling shows so it's not a big deal. 

Finish building tack locker with my dad
- Made great progress so far. Unfortunately my dad's been unavailable on weekends because my poor grandma feel and hurt her knee. He and my family are working on moving her to an apartment nearer to where my parents live so our next few weekends will be focused on that rather than tack trunk building. Priority on family always.


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...