Thursday, June 30, 2016

Summertime Sadness

I'm not really sad that it's summer but I'm currently enjoying this song by Lana Del Rey.

However, I do have to admit that summer is not my favorite season. My favorite temperatures are 40-70. I love the spring and fall for this reason and although I've come to terms with summer and been doing better with the heat since I've gotten fitter it's still not my favorite.

It doesn't seem to be Katai's either. Even though the barn is fairly cool she literally tries to park herself in front of each fan we walk past in the isle. Her favorite is the one that is aimed right at her when she's in the cross ties. Every time I pull her out to groom she falls asleep in the cross ties and gets grumpy when I move her.

The thing pony dreams are made of
We have been spending time bonding while I scratch her itches, especially her udder because she loves that. I've also started to do some massage with her and she gets all blinky and chewy and cute about it. I'm planning to order a book on horse massage and start practicing. She's naturally a tense horse and I think she could use a massage every week if I could afford it. I finally decided that rather than paying someone to do very regular massages I should just learn myself and do some as needed.

I think she's also still getting used to all of the turnout. Her body feels pretty good but I think she's just a little sleepy and a little tired, looser, but tired.

I've been trying to give her lots of breaks from time in the ring and ride outside but unfortunately we've discovered that this barn has LOTS of horseflies. Horrible, nasty, stubborn things that follow her even at a canter on the lunge.

It's very important to get fan time on both sides of your pretty face
After a particularly bad experience in the outdoor ring we'd given up for about a week but we tried it out again yesterday and lived to tell the tail. Thanks to a really adorable ear bonnet we were able to keep them at bay for long enough to work in the ring awhile and then ride on our "trail". It was gorgeous weather and we had an amazing time.

Now I just have to get a picture of my adorable girl in her ear bonnet to share :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Knowing When to Push: Lesson Recap 6/26

Yay for lessons again! It had been three weeks out which was honestly just as well since I had been gone and sick and Katai was recovering from her chiro (plus it was really good for my budget) but I’d been missing having that feedback. I was also feeling a little bit of lesson anxiety since I hadn’t made as much progress as I’d wanted to while L was gone and just wasn’t quite sure what we were going to be working on.

For that reason I was really happy when I saw cones set out in the arena. I do really well with clear goals like ground poles or cones provide and I can make myself nitpick a little less which is good for everyone. L had cones set in the middle. Two were set to guide 20 meter circles at either end of the arena and in the middle. At the very center were two cones set the other way to make a 10 meter circle figure eight going the short way across the arena.

The task was to do 20 meter circles at each normal point through the arena and then to do 10 meter circles or 10 meter figure eights at points to help rebalance the pony. Not too surprisingly the beginning of the lesson ended up being more about helping me actually make circles and not odd shapes. I do pretty well through about ¾ of the circle but then I get stuck to the rail and make a 90 degree corner heading away from the rail on the long side. Of course I do that twice on the circle in the middle of the ring. It was tough for me to correct but once I started planning ahead a little more I was starting to make much more even circles and not making Katai do corners all over the place.

Katai was clearly tired and not feeling motivated to be ridden for very long. I’m sure she’s lost some fitness during her vacation (even if a minimal amount) plus it’s gotten hot recently so while our heat index that day wasn’t in the 100s it was still quite hot and that’s very de-motivating for a pony. Especially one that has gained some poundage recently…

I admitted to L that I have a tough time knowing when to push. With Katai it’s such a fine line and she’s such a delicate flower that if you push her much past her comfort zone she starts to fight and not offer anything and then the next few rides I have an extremely defensive pony. If you quit while she’s fresh and don’t push she’s SOO good and generous and offers all kinds of amazing things but of course she never gets any stronger, plus she’ll learn that she can quit when she feels like it.

On Friday I’m confident that I pushed the right amount (basically not at all and yet I called the shots about when we’d end, not her. She was actually surprised that she was done which was my goal.) with how amazing she was. However, it’s tough for me to know when and how long to push on other days especially when she’s continuing to be a rock star. L gave me some great guidance that quitting while I was ahead sometimes is great but that most of the time I should continue about 5-10 minutes past when she wants to quit. That will build strength and yet not push her to the point where she wants to put up a fight at my next ride. This is really helpful for me and I’m going to really focus on doing this so that I can continue to build on Katai’s fitness.

Next Sunday I won’t have a lesson since L is out of town for the 4th and then I’ll be in KY the following weekend for the National Dressage Pony Cup!! L is going to do a training ride that Sunday and then the following week I have off M-F so I’ll have lots of time at the barn. I’m hoping to do some early morning rides and really focus on getting outside!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tough Stuff

I’m finally starting to feel caught up in life a little after being out of town and sick for so long. I’m slowly catching up on the “non-essential” part of my life such as this blog so expect more content soon!

In the meantime I wanted to share my rides last week because it’s been an interesting roller coaster ride over the past month. Katai hadn’t been wanting to play either in or out of the sandbox after her adjustment for the first few rides. I don’t blame her, she’d just had a great vacation and prior to that had likely been in some pain so riding was just not at the top of her list of favorable activities.

However, that changed on Friday when we had an epic ride. The pony I had for my ride that night is the pony that I’ll have consistently in 3-4 years. She was so balanced and was allowing me complete control of her shoulders. She was relaxed and forward and really listening to my leg rather than just reacting. She was so balanced that I was able to ask her to do anything and she just quietly maintained contact and the same energy. Her transitions within gaits were on point. It was the most amazing and addictive feeling I've experienced so far in my time riding dressage.

I was so impressed with her that I did a small amount of walk, a bit of trot and canter in each direction and then called it quits. It was really spectacular and I didn’t want to push her past her willingness to work that night so we ended on a high note.

Saturday our heat index was in the 100s with +70% humidity that made me drip sweat just getting Katai tacked up. I hadn’t planned on doing much but the high humidity decided me and so I just lunged briefly at walk, trot, and canter and finished up before I got her sweaty at all. She got fly sprayed and put in her nice cool stall still bright eyed and bushy tailed. What I was really thrilled with was the relaxed forward energy that Katai had even on the lunge. Her trot was awesome, floaty, and just so relaxed through the back and her canter was spectacular.

We’ve had a tough month together and I’m truly looking forward to continuing this type of quality into July which I’m sure will be a better month for us!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Tack Room Tour: OCD Much?

As mentioned before I watch a lot of YouTube. In fact at this point it’s almost completely replaced any other form of tv such as Hulu or Netflix (I don’t have cable). I LOVE watching vlogs, it’s totally a guilty pleasure for me and I love seeing people doing mundane things. I’m a very visual person so seeing how other people do things is interesting to me and it makes me feel like we’re ultimately all so similar. We all have our own strengths and our own struggles. It’s easy to read something and add meaning that wasn’t ever meant to be there or to write something with a positive or negative spin on it that someone else might not have felt but with videos you can see more of the real truth.

  I watch a lot of vegan videos, tiny house building videos, and recently have started watching Casey Neistat’s vlogs which are spectacular. However, some of my favorite videos to watch are done by other riders. I enjoy watching barn vlogs because, as mentioned previously, it’s fun to see how other people interact with their horses, seeing their successes and being able to cheer them on, and how they struggle the same way I do sometimes. Last night one of the people I’m subscribed to (an eventer in Australia) did a tack room tour and it made me think of doing this post. I know that people blog about this as well but her set up specifically made me curious about what others do and I decided to share mine.

Part of my space, saddle with tack cleaning rag hanging, helmet hanging in the back over a container that holds Katai's boots. Coat spray and grooming tote in front.

I tend to be very neat at the barn however, that's not the case at home. My space at home ranges from slightly messy to nuclear disaster and although I clean it every week or two I have no issue with tossing stuff on the floor to be dealt with later. I’m the same way in the kitchen and thankfully I have patient roommates because I tend to pile dishes until I have a chance to clean them and then I clean and scrub the whole kitchen. My car is also normally a disaster and I regularly leave dirty horse blankets in there with the windows closed in spring (speaking of that I had an interesting day where I offered someone a ride and I thought they were going to pass out from dirty horse blanket smell while I was so used to it that I didn’t even notice) However, with my horse(s) I’ve always been extremely neat. I bring all of my leather tack home every month and do a thorough cleaning. I enjoy tack cleaning so much that I’d probably have it home every week if I didn’t know that was bad for the leather. I also wipe it down with a damp cloth after every ride, which is a fairly recent addition to my process.

Mine's on the left with the pink polkadot tote, Bridle is lower row with the bundled up cream colored lunge line hanging. All the way to the right is a refrigerator specifically for the horses with is amazing :-)
I just LOVE the feeling of soft, buttery, clean tack and really dislike that stiff, caky, cracked leather feel that bridles in particular get if they aren’t cleaned on a regular basis. I also wash saddle pads every few rides during the summer when they get nasty and sweaty quickly and at least every couple of weeks during the winter when they just don’t get as dirty. I’ve got a “horse laundry” bin in my basement at home that fills up pretty quickly with tack rags, sweaty saddle pads, coolers, grooming rags, polos or boots, and I wash my saddle cover every few months. I love all of it, it’s like therapy for me and bringing a neat clean pile of folded horse laundry back to the barn feels amazing. My fellow boarders don't seem to feel the same way though and I'd say that most of the leather goods at my barn are not treated the same as mine.

This YouTube vlogger had a similar setup to my fellow boarders’ with a packed cabinet in complete disarray. She had gloves in two separate places, blankets piled on the ground (which was dirt), strap goods in tangled piles etc. I guess it just made me wonder if I’m an OCD horse person or if other’s are bothered as much as I am by dirty tack and yet couldn’t care less about a messy house?

Youtube Playlist Favorites:

Hannah Lucy - Australian Eventer
equine.emma1996 - Another Australian Eventer
Carter Sulivan - Canadian Dressage rider
Hot for Food - My favorite vegan food blog - GREAT recipes!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Saddle Shopping, Again...

I’m back in saddle fit purgatory. I adore my current saddle and the tree actually fits pretty decently, however, as I’ve mentioned previously it has started to really slide forward during rides. In addition now that she’s getting more fit it seems slightly wide.

I think that part of the saddle sliding forward could be fixed by a saddle fitter but there are several things that a fitter would need to do and honestly I just don’t trust the fitter that came out last time since she went back and forth so much. I’m hesitant to have her do a bunch of stuff which would likely reduce the value of my (already not very valuable saddle) and then possibly still not have it fit. One of those things is that the billets are just way too far back for my pony’s very forward girth groove.
Saddle where it's supposed to be, billets pretty far off

I think I need a point billet so that’s been one of the items on my new saddle checklist. The others are short panels, close contact feel, short flaps, and preferably the option to get it in brown. Oh, and of course that it fits and is in my budget.

On paper the Prestige Lucky seems to be all of these things. It comes in a 16” seat but people have said that it feels like a 17” since it’s a much more open seat. It has nice short flaps, point billets, short panels, has a more close contact style, is within my budget, and it even comes in brown!!

It has been extremely tricky to actually find one that I can take on trial though. I found a US tack shop that carried the saddle and although they didn’t have a trial listed the description of the saddle mentioned a trial so I gave them a call. They were extremely helpful and told me that they normally get their trials direct from US Prestige but in this case Prestige had just sold the trial saddle to a customer and so it wasn’t available. They let me know it would be about a month for US Prestige to get the saddle back in and then get it sent to them.

It ended up taking about a month and a half and, unfortunately, when they called me the timeline for me getting the saddle would have meant that it would arrive at my barn at the beginning of my trip to WA and while L was in Sweden. I wasn’t able to push it off at all since they had another customer in line so I let them know that they could send it to her and then once they got it back I would take it.

I hadn’t heard anything so on Saturday I called to check in and see when they were planning to get the saddle back and found out that the other women wasn’t able to take it either so they’d sent it back to Prestige. They may have tried to call me when I was in WA but I didn’t get the call. It sounded like they may need to get back in line and I resigned myself to another month or more wait. Then, on Tuesday I got a call from someone at the tack shop and she let me know that it was still available!! They are getting it from US Prestige this week and then it will get shipped to my barn, hopefully next week. I’ll have all of my fingers and toes crossed that it fits and that I’m able end my saddle search for the time being.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Down and Out Again

Yep, still sick. Or sick again, not really sure which but it’s been a miserable week and a half.

Last Thursday when I rode I was feeling mostly better and mainly felt like I was getting over a cold then when I went on my date on Friday I was still feeling pretty good except that I was tired and didn’t have much of a voice. Normally with colds I work right through them and the only concession I might make is to not go to the barn the first couple of days or if it’s especially hot or cold out.

On Saturday I went out to the barn right away in the morning and had a great ride on Katai. As mentioned I’ve been really motivated to work on riding her outside so I took her out to the arena and started off by lunging her. I put the neck stretcher on her, which unfortunately was too loose, and really focused on making sure that I was the center of her universe while I lunged. Any time that I couldn’t get her attention I brought her in on a smaller circle where I could reinforce the bend and slow her speed and then when she was going well I’d let her back out on the circle. This worked really well and there were only a few shenanigans.

Then, once she was walking calming on the lunge I pulled off her lunging stuff, had to adjust the saddle but more on that later, and mounted up. She was still pretty up and since it was quite hot and humid I had kept the lunging to a minimum. Once I made sure that she was listening to me at a walk I put her right to work at the trot. I did my default when she’s tight and tense through her back which is lots of 15-20 meter circles with exaggerated inside bend getting her to really stretch down into the contact. As soon as she stretches down I reinforce the correct bend and keep the forward but focus on keeping her balanced. I also do LOTS of changes of direction She really wanted to canter but listened and after only several minutes I had her back up and swinging and she was soft through her jaw and goobering on her bit. Because it was so hot and humid and she was already sweating, and since she is still coming back into work after a week and a half off, I moved to the real plan for the day which was riding her out of the outdoor and directly into a trail ride.

It’s embarrassing but this is the first time I’ve done that since the entrance to the outdoor has demons (according to Katai) and I have to ride past a “fairy” garden that belongs to our BM and a couple of dumpsters which all the horses hate. She did that part well but was dancing around by the time we got to the beginning of our “trail”. Then she stopped dead and I realized that there was this brand new bug catcher thing. It seriously looked like an alien and was making tapping sounds from the bugs hitting the edges so I didn’t blame her at all.

Thanks for being amazing BM but my horse thinks this is an alien

Size Reference.
I let her stand and look at it until she was willing to go past on her own and then she was good. Until she saw the purple flowers. They were clearly out to get her, or the butterflies around the purple flowers, or the wind that was moving the purple flowers, or, well something was going to eat her. I had to make her trot at one point so that she didn’t spin and bolt but otherwise she really did quite well and I was pleased.

I got her past the scary trailers and back to the beginning of the trail and dismounted. I then led her back to the bug trap and we both touched it and looked it over and it wasn’t as scary then. Overall I was really pleased with both of us.

Then, because this isn’t already enough of a saga, I got REALLY sick on Sunday. I was in the bathroom all day again and just miserable. I had a really bad fever and was dying just laying still even though my roommates had the air conditioning turned down to 70 and I should have been freezing. That meant that I gave up my last chance to ride L’s horse which was extraordinarily disappointing.

Then on Monday I was still pretty miserable and after making it through work for most of the day I crashed pretty hard in the evening. This morning I still felt pretty icky but started to feel WAY better as the day went on and now I’m as close to 100% as I’ve been in over a week. My stomach is still not my best friend but I can think, my fever is gone, and I don’t have a cough or congestion so doing pretty well. I’m SO excited to be able to get back to the barn tonight!

Friday, June 17, 2016


Unfortunately not of the canter lead kind but still good. I found out that the horses are being put on night turnout which means they'll be going from getting around 6 hours outside to closer to 12 hours!!  I'm extremely excited, even though it means an increase in barn drama, and am really happy for my pony who I know will benefit from that extra time out.

On the other hand I had sort of a rough week this week. On Sunday I was able to get to the barn but I just lunged Katai at a walk since I was still under strict directions to allow her to walk only and not ride until Thursday. Katai was great and I was just sad that I didn't get to do more with her.

She had gained some weight and had a bit of belly after a full week off from when I was in WA for work. Ponies will be ponies :-)

The belly

Then I got to ride this guy!

Pretty good for a 4 year old
What was weird though is that I actually really enjoyed the ride. He's young and very tall and hasn't quite figured out his sea legs yet. He's sort of wobbly on his big long legs and even picking his feet is interesting sometimes. He's also a really good boy with huge movement except that's not necessarily something that I enjoy. It also took me awhile to figure him out because he's just not my sports car pony. I needed to give him more time to re-balance and I struggle enough with that with my pony. With a big leggy warmblood baby it was tough not riding him into the wall.

So lucky that I got to ride this talented guy
Poor guy was extremely tolerant though and is very amateur friendly despite only having been ridden by professionals prior to my rides on him.

Riding him though and enjoying the ride made me wonder what it would be like to own a horse rather than a pony. It was fun to think about "fitting in" and it was cool to see myself riding a large horse. I think part of it is that I've had some demoralizing rides with Katai recently. The show was tough and we really haven't had a good ride since then. First she was sassy, I think because she was stiff, sore, and out, and now she's on layup while she rests and recovers. In the end I can't even imagine having a second horse and of course Katai isn't going anywhere. I just think I needed to dream a little and take a break from thinking about my recent bad rides on my mare.

Also, big baby horse is a gelding and geldings are quiet and well behaved and have fewer opinions then mares, especially mare ponies, and especially chestnut mare ponies. He was simple and, to be completely honest, that was nice after some of Katai's recent moods.

Then I went home and promptly got really sick. I spent Monday and Tuesday resting and trying to fend off a really bad cold. While I was on my own layup I logged on to Facebook again, something I rarely do anymore, and realized that I hadn't checked in on my post on the Adult Pony Owning Support Group where I had shared my show photos. The post had blown up with over 200 likes and many amazing and supportive comments. That group is so extremely supportive and the comments were extraordinarily nice and complimentary of both myself and Katai. It was nice to see and was one great reminder of why I adore my girl. My motivation increased to ride and I was starting to get excited to get back on track with her again.

Wednesday I told myself I was going to get to the barn no matter what and then had to leave work early because I suddenly got really nauseous and lightheaded and spent the rest of the evening in my bathroom throwing up. Such is life.

Then Thursday started off rough but by the afternoon I was feeling really great and so I headed to the barn to ride my girl!! It was really hot and humid so I rode in the indoor where there was some shade. She did really well, she didn't want to walk and was a little sassy about it but by the end of the ride I got some amazing transitions within the trot and canter (which are normally really tough for her) and then called it since I didn't want to push her too hard after her time off. At first I was a little frustrated with her sassing at the walk but then I realized that after a week and a half off if the only attitude I get from my horse (and mare) is that she doesn't want to walk I'm way ahead of the curve.

I was really looking forward to another day at the barn today to do some more work but then ended up getting rescheduled on with a date I was looking forward to. Unfortunately said date went very wrong and I seriously think that I'm going to spend the rest of 2016 happily single. The worst part is that I would have really LOVED to have gone to the barn but I rescheduled to fit this in and then regretted it. Sometimes it's tough to juggle things in my personal life with ponies especially since I'd like to not be single for the rest of my life. At any rate, next time I prioritize the pony.

So, it's time to get back on track. I'm feeling motivated to ride and motivated to ride my girl not some other horse. I love her, no I adore her, and a few bad rides aren't going to throw us off track. This week I'm getting back on a 5 ride schedule and we're going to make things happen, specifically the things on our list of goals ;)

Saturday, June 11, 2016


Clearly not Katai but that is my chiro :)
My amazing equine chiro texted me Friday morning with some information about Katai's appointment on Thursday. It sounds like she was very tense and out through her neck, lower back and haunches. It sounds like J needed to do a lot of muscle work with her just to get her to a point where she was able to adjust her without having an upset pony on her hands. Then she did adjust well but J wants her to have the week off and I'm more than happy to comply.

I felt like a bad horse owner and asked if it could be from the show or if it was something that had ben building up for awhile. She thinks that it could be some of both but did think that most of it was likely from the show which, although it doesn't make me feel great, at least then it wasn't something that was bad before the show that I didn't catch.

She's going to give me, and show me, some stretches and wants me to do more massage with her as well. I may also put her back on DMG since she never seemed to be muscle sore when I had her on that. Of course she wasn't showing then either but for how cheap that supplement is and how I know that she tends to be tense I think it might make sense.

Although I'm certainly not happy that she was out, I am glad that we have a diagnosis and with that I don't have to immediately start worrying about other causes. Over the past few days I've been thinking/worrying about ulcers. At this point I think I'm going to give her the week off and then pick back up riding and see how she's doing. I really hope it's not ulcers but I"m going to keep it in mind anyway.

J also commented that she'd gained some weight. I agree that she has but have been wondering if it's all in my head. We've had some amazing hay recently so I'm guessing she's just getting more calories than normal and now with no riding over the next week it'll be especially important to make sure she's not getting too much to eat. I'll be talking to my BM once I get back to see if she can reduce her portion a little.

I really miss my girl and I'm so happy that I'll be able to see her this weekend. During the next week while she has time off I'll be riding L's baby horse and will share updates with that soon!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Champagne Tastes On a Beer Budget

I've been on a minimalism kick recently and for me that means owning one, high quality item for something you need rather than several cheaper versions. With that in mind I've been saving my pennies for nicer things rather than bargain shopping, at least for the important things. This is my current list.

Wardrobe Stuff

Asmar long sleeve polo in navy blue

Asmar compression top in black

Ariat Polka Dot Sunshirt

Ariat Volant S Zip Boot


One of these Custom Wool Dress Sheets

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Throwback Thursday

Look at the baby pony!!! (2014ish) - not sure what I was doing

Tasty Snacks (2013ish)

What a baby! (early 2013)

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Far Away

I've been in Spokane, WA since Monday for work. I had planned, based on our schedule, that I'd have lots of time to blog but that's not been the case. My co-worker from MN is here with me and is a huge foodie so we've been going out to dinner every evening and been onsite all day. However, we got done early but couldn't change our flights so we'll be here still but just working out of the hotel room which means I'll have lots of time. I'm planning a nice early run tomorrow and then will do some blogging in between work if I can.

In other news, my previous farrier (now referred to as Katai's Chiro), is able and willing to come out to the barn and will be there tomorrow to take care of my pony. I can't wait to hear what she finds and hope that whatever is going on is that she's out some where and not something more serious.

Apparently while I haven't had time to do much blogging I have had time to worry about my pony.

I'm also hoping that Katai will be ridable fairly quickly. I've been texting with another barn friend, who we'll call A, and she also has a young horse (one that did much better at the last show that Katai did) that she wants to get out and expose to the world. She came up with the brilliant idea of going to the local western fun shows that are $3 per class rather than $25 and around a little more rough and ready local crowd. She also has the means to trailer both of us there!

I'm toying with the idea of not signing up for this schooling show at the end of June and doing a few fun shows, back to back, instead. They'll cost $10-$20 instead of $95-$150 like the dressage shows will and I think will be even better to get her exposed to new environments. A also suggested taking both horses to a trail system and the beach! I've ridden past horses in the water at the beach in the Mississippi river but never Katai and it would be so much fun!

I haven't totally decided yet, I'm mainly waiting to see how she does at the next one to see if there's a large amount of progress or only a small amount before I decide.

In other news, H's pony has done so well at learning the ropes that after his second schooling show she has signed up for one of the big rated shows in our region at the end of June. I'd say that I'm jealous, and I maybe am just a little, but she has been taking dressage lessons for way longer than I have, her pony is 13 vs. 8, and he was well trained when she got him rather than her training him from scratch. Plus he's a gelding and not a sensitive mare demon. Mainly I'm just looking forward to being able to do the same thing with Katai, hopefully next year :)

Monday, June 6, 2016

Dream Barn

So I'm a little weird when it comes to esthetics and tend to really like european architecture and style over american. I'm not sure if it's because I watch a lot of riders from that part of the world on Youtube or if it's just something that appeals to me but it's definitely my preference.

I don't think I've ever talked about it on this blog but one of my dream scenarios for my future is to own a 5-10 acre piece of land with a combo barn house. I love tiny houses and although I wouldn't want to live in one long term, I'm all about having very specific spaces and not wasting space. I feel like the space should go to what you do 90% of the time you're at your house and to be completely honest I spend my time when I'm home on the couch and in the kitchen so I'd just have a small bedroom, maybe a tiny study/office, and a nice sized kitchen/dinning room/living area. The areas that I would have I'd want to be very nice, with stylish finishes (like a nice large rain shower and a claw foot tub) but I want the house to be very small.

At any rate what I really dream about is what the barn would look like. I'm not a fan of pole buildings, I like stone and/or brick which probably comes from growing up with a brick dairy barn. That building was cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It felt solid and you didn't hear the wind beating at it on stormy days. Instead it was a beautiful, calm, peaceful space. I also like more architecture than just an isle down the middle with stalls on either side. I want 3 stalls and a tack room/laundry/stairs to the house space that could double as a guest room including a second fridge, water, and possibly even a toilet. Plus a wash stall/grooming area.

Last night I spent a bunch too much time on Pinterest collecting pictures that capture the ascetic of the space I want and I thought it would be kind of fun to share them.

Minus the baby this is exactly what I'd want my barn to be like
Not this big or grand but I love this set up and it's got the basic ascetic I like

I would LOVE a door like this between the tack room and the rest of the barn

Renovated barn as hotel, I'd just turn it back into a barn :)

Another renovated barn as living space, obviously I wouldn't want the interior of my barn to be quite this nice
I'd love a big window like this in the house part of the barn
If you could do anything and had no budget what would your dream barn look like?

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Getting Out

For some reason it's like some sort of switch has turned on in my brain after the show and all of a sudden I feel really capable of making changes without involving other people. After watching this video  I realized that I really want to be able to get Katai outside and have her handle the terrain and just be able to be handled outside. Something about the calm, relaxed way that Elisa handles her thoroughbreds just really motivated me to get out and deal with Katai's behavior and start working on making it better.

I got Katai tacked up and ready to go and went out into a drizzle to do some good work. I decided to hop up to start off and jump down if I needed to. I schooled mounting and keeping her still for a little and then, once she was doing well there, I mounted up and she immediately lost her mind.

More on that later

At any rate, I dismounted and got her going forward around me in a circle. Then, once some of her brain was back in her head I started "ground riding" her with one arm over the saddle. She was doing pretty well until we got her near the trailers and then we lost it again so I started playing my version of the "Squeeze Game" and trying to get her to stop close to the trailer and making her work when she was moving away from it.

It worked really well and she caught on pretty quick and was standing between me and the trailer, facing it. So I ground rode her around the horse pens. It's a decent little trail ride and she did a great job.

Old me, would have just called it there but the new more motivated me hopped up and went to do the same thing actually riding my pony. Once I mounted up she got tense and naughty for a moment (again, more on this later) but I was able to ride her through it and soon we were walking in a relaxed manner back around the pens. I thought about hopping off before we had to ride past the trailers again but instead I stayed up and told her that I'd give her snacks (which she hasn't been getting at all) if she was good. She was! She walked right past and then halted and stood still while I dismounted so she got lots of orange snacks.

I was extremely proud of both of us, not only that we got out and did it but also that we did it on a slightly windy and rainy day when the other horses were pretty keyed up. It will be great practice for a show environment and I'm planning to do the same thing very soon.

Then today I rode her in the indoor and I had exactly the same fussy, bratty pony that I did last Friday right before the show. This time though I FINALLY put together that I think she's out somewhere either her ribs, pelvis or back. She is still really (as in literally traveling at a 45* angle) swinging her haunches to the left and when I dismounted I noticed that she's still got a bit of a twist in her tail when she walks which is really unusual for her.

I had seen that slightly odd tail carriage when I lunged her after a few days off after the show but I figured she was just a little stiff or sore. Now, when she's still doing that I'm sure she has something going on either in her musculature or, more likely, needs chiro. I feel bad that I didn't put it together sooner but I'm also wondering now whether that effected her show day at all. Who knows, I have a feeling there was enough adrenaline that it wouldn't have effected her behavior much but I'm still curious. At any rate, I'm sure it explains her bad behavior more recently.

I've texted my previous farrier, the one that I fired :(, because she's great with chiro and I think that we agreed that I'd still have her do chiropractic but we'll see. Hopefully she'll be willing to come out while I'm out of town, or hopefully she'll just be willing to come out period...

Friday, June 3, 2016

Recap and Coming Up Next

I'm so pleased about how our show went this past weekend. I learned a lot and I think there were a lot of good take aways. I went back and forth about whether to post this but from a journalling perspective I think it will be very helpful for me so I'm going with it.

1. I need to continue to do more ground work

She had been doing so well in her normal environment that I've been ignoring this a little. I had focused on it in the weeks before the show but I need to make this more of a priority. Of course she's only bad when she's under stress and I was actually able to keep her from running me over which was enough for me at this show, but I want to make it even better for next time.

2. Trailering

This one is so frustrating when you don't have your own trailer. I have someone that has a trailer that I can maybe borrow but she's been out of town for the past month so I haven't been able to talk to her about it. H has a trailer but it's about 2 hours away so it's nearly impossible to got get it, park it at the barn for a few days and then deliver it 2 hours away again :(

I'm going to do some begging and see if I can borrow a trailer on any sort of regular basis. It's not that I can't get her on, it's more that it causes her a lot of stress and I'd like to be able to practice show trips on a regular basis.

3. Packing Stuff
Randomly piled in my little car before the show
I struggled with all my stuff last weekend. It didn't help that it was rainy and muddy but with my lack of organization my stuff got even wetter and dirtier than it would have been with more preparation. Between that and not being able to find what I needed, plus lots of trips back and forth to my car, and I really need to figure out a better system.

Mucky, wet, stinky tack after the show (and cute puppy :)
I love planning and organizing stuff like this so I'd put some thought into it but, honestly, it caught me a little off guard that my show came up that quickly. Next time I'll be better prepared!

My poor boots

Our next show is coming up quickly! I'm going another schooling show on June 25th and L is out of town tomorrow through the 19th. I'll do fine on my own, especially since it's less about riding and more about handling the dragon pony. What's actually going to be a little trickier is that I'm going out of town early on Monday and will be out of town through Friday. In between I'll be riding two horses on Saturday and Sunday for three weekends in a row. At least I won't be lacking riding time :)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Goals Redo

Despite never getting the formatting corrected on my last post about goals (I think I would have had to start from scratch and I haven't been motivated enough to do that) I have been making progress with my goal to reformat my goals. Mainly I think it's more of a conceptual thing but with goals that's the real struggle right?

What I realized, at work of all places, is that I already have the tools to structure goals for myself. After all I participate in coaching conversations with many employees on a regular basis and help them set goals. I just needed to start using my experience and not freaking out about how to structure these in a more standard way that doesn't work for my brain.

So I've decided to break these down into "buckets" and update at the beginning of each month. Thinking of these as buckets (or topics or whatever makes sense) just works better for me. There's more flexibility built into the idea of a list of "buckets" than there is in a more specific list or plan. Since it works for my brain I'm going with it and since it's the beginning of June so I figured this was a good time to start. 

1. Proper bend to the left - We've got it about 90% of the time to the right, not it's time to get it to the left

2. Stretchy Trot - This is so necessary for her brain and teaching her not to just run when we're stretching will help with everything else, plus it's an upcoming movement :)

3. Canter Transitions - Practice, practice, practice

4. Lateral Work - All of the sideways. After a recent break through at the Susanne Winslade clinic we've actually got this sometimes and I can feel when we have it. Now we just need to practice and get more consistent

5. Cavaletti Exercise - I'm currently on the struggle bus with teaching Katai to transition within gaits (trot right now) and she likes to take shuffly little steps and then just walk when I ask her to slow within the trot. I think part of it is strength but part of it is that she just isn't quite sure what I'm asking for. I tried out an exercise where I put three cavaletti on each side of a 20 meter circle with one side being closer together (shorter steps) and the other were further apart (longer steps). 

I didn't do one after the other since that would certainly have just blown her pony mind but I would do one a few times, take a walk break and then do the other. It was really rough but eventually she really started to understand and we quite on a good note. This isn't something I'm planning to work on regularly but it will be a good way to mix up our other rides.


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...