Sunday, August 28, 2016

Moving Day, Weird Day

Ever since my moving plans were finalized I've been thinking that I'd move Katai on the 31st. I've planned out my month with the idea that I was going to be at my old barn until then but on Thursday last week when I checked with my BM about trailering she mentioned that Jane was planning to come pick up Katai. That was a little surprising to me but I took it as a good sign that even though Jane knows that Katai is tough to get on a trailer sometimes she wanted to come pick her up. I let my BM know that I'd call Jane and talk through the details which I did on Friday.

When I spoke with her we discussed when I was going to take lessons, TBD, and also that she planned to pick her up on Sunday, today. I let her know that I had a lesson with L but that we could certainly trailer her right after that.

I was honestly, a little shell shocked. I guess I'd just planned on having another three days at the barn, three days to ride Katai in her comfortable environment and three days to say goodbye. I started gathering up all of my stuff on Saturday and put the final touches on the rest of the packing that I'd been preparing.

On Sunday I got to the barn for my lesson, got Katai and started getting her ready but when I went to brush her back she was really flinchy. I poked and prodded around but from my determination she wasn't going to be rideable. I went and told L and she checked her out as well also declaring her unsound. However, she told me to get her young horse and that she'd give me a lesson on him instead.

It was a good but weird lesson and I worked on different things than I'd work on with Katai normally. However, he is also very honest and wasn't compensating for me at all so I learned a LOT of things that I'm doing inappropriately with my body, things that Katai doesn't directly tattle on me for but that now I can focus on when I'm working with her.

I'd been to the MN state fair and the dog park the day before so between noodley legs and just having bigger gaits so requiring more physical strength than Katai does, I only lasted about 20 minutes. After that ride I pulled Katai out to lunge her but she was clearly stiff so after a little trot in each directly to try to give her a chance to loosen up I called it. L's next horse was lame and we are pretty sure that with the weather changes all of the mares (both Katai and this horse) were running round like idiots and very likely did a number on themselves during turnout last night. It was just a really weird day at the barn all around.

I got the last of my tack, which I'd been planning to ride with ;) in my car and then when D (Jane's SO) got to the barn to pick up Katai we got her loaded, with some convincing, and to the new barn. She unloaded well (I really like Jane and D and I'm happy to be there) and was happy to find some grass in her pen and roll.

I also got to really meet C who is Jane's only other student that boards at Jane's barn. She had just gotten done with a lesson where for the first time she'd done 3 flying changes across the diagonal. I was so excited for her and excited to think about my future with Katai at this barn!

More photos and information about the barn and my upcoming lessons to follow!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Monday/Wednesday Ride Recaps

As I mentioned in my lesson recap I rode on Monday this week which is really unusual. My normal schedule has me riding Tuesday – Thursday during the week and both Saturday and Sunday. Sometimes I change my Thursday/Fridays depending on my plans and every once in a while I take Wednesday off and then ride Thursday – Sunday but I almost never ride Mondays. It’s the day after her lesson ride which is normally more intense and I appreciate the quiet evening after my first day back at work on Monday.

However, because she was so full of energy on Sunday and because of some plans that I had this week I went ahead and rode. It also worked out well with my visit to a local tack shop to special order some items. I just found out that this tack shop orders from HKM and that I could join in on an order and thus save shipping from Europe so I jumped on it. HKM is one of the few places that offers pony sized dressage saddle pads and other items. I had planned to order a couple of saddle pads but it seems my saddle pad obsession has recently turned into a breeches obsession and so I got one saddle pad and one pair of breeches to try. I’ll let you know what I think in a future post!
Checking to be sure my phone is still recording.
Look at what a powerful princess she's getting to be!
My ride on Monday was kind of a mixed bag. I had planned on doing cavaletti in the indoor or possibly just lunging over cavaletti in the indoor but once I showed up one of the other dressage people invited me out to ride in the outdoor. It’s funny because on trail rides or in the outdoors in general Katai is so brave and so calm (like during the hunter pace when I don’t think she spooked once) but she HATES the outdoor. All I can imagine is that it’s because it means work where a trail ride is something she thinks is fun.

At any rate, while riding out there more and getting her used to it would be idea the footing is a little deeper than I’d like and trying to lunge her just turns into her running around like a madwomen which makes me worried that she’ll hurt herself. Because of that I usually only ride in the outdoor now if someone else is out there because then I have my nice, calm, workable pony and I just don’t ride too long in the deep footing. This particular night was VERY windy. I thought we were going to blow away and everything was moving around in the grass and trees etc. so it was especially spooky. 

Look at that inside hind!
I hand walked her around and checked everything out (we startled a deer family so I was glad that I was on the ground) until our fellow rider showed up. Then her horse (who I later found out had only been in that area a couple of times) was spooky and about to lose his mind. Katai and I worked a bit and then spent some time babysitting him until his rider threw in the towel and decided to end her ride in the indoor. By then Katai had done a lot of canter work and a good amount of trot work so I called it, especially since the footing was more work and she had been worked hard the day before.

That inside hind though.
My pony is seriously Gumby if Gumby were good at dressage
I however am collapsed to the inside (hearing L in my head telling me that my pony needs to bend, not me)
Then on Wednesday I did a ride where I was going to really work on Cavaletti but she came out very, very stiff and not wanting to work through her back so we mostly worked on that and then did the cavaletti just a few times. Unfortunately I’m back to riding in my normal saddle and oh boy does it put me in a bad position. I had no idea until I rode in the other saddle how badly this one puts me in a chair seat but it’s bad. I almost flopped right down on Katai’s back the first time because I couldn’t keep my legs under me to keep me airborne for the extra moments at the longer stride. It’s frustrating that I’ll have to deal with it until the new saddle comes but I’m so excited that I’m getting a new saddle that will make it easier! I’ll probably just do more lunging sessions until it gets here and maybe do a low key bareback ride which would be good for both of us.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

It Fits!!: Lesson Recap 8/21

Veggie making friends with my grandma's (who's back in town) dog Stewie
My big plan at this lesson was to have L assess the saddle and help me figure out if it fits and to see if she had any other suggestions about the sliding forward thing. I, unfortunately, didn’t have a good week for rides (after my great ride on Thursday I didn’t ride again so only had three rides) so I knew that Katai would be full of excess energy and very sassy.

I found L when I got to the barn and asked if she could check it out before I got Katai fully tacked so that if I needed to ride in my normal saddle it wouldn’t be too much extra work. She was on board so I sat and watched part of her previous lesson and then brought Katai in, groomed her and let L know that I was ready. As soon as she saw the new saddle she got this big grin on her face. After a quick check of the panels she said that as long as it was set where it should be there’s no bridging. She had me make one more change with the point billets to fully remove them from any slots on the flaps so that they pretty much could swing forward from just behind the block. I’ll post some pictures soon of what this looks like. She had me girth up but added some small shims on either side right behind Katai’s shoulder since she felt the saddle was just slightly wide. I found out later that the amazing people at VTO had actually been able to adjust the saddle to a 36 so that makes sense.

I girthed up the saddle with the new arrangement, put Katai’s bridle on, my helmet on, and then headed to the arena. Katai was sassy as soon as I went to mount up and didn’t want to walk calmly even on a long rein. It was an interesting lesson to say the least. Katai didn’t want to play in the sandbox and all she could think about was going fast. All that pent up energy finally started coming out in some nice sneeze snorts after I worked her for awhile at the far end of the arena and just focused on straightness interspersed with correct bend and lots of forward trot. We did some canter but she did a funny leap into the air on the first transition that made me giggle.

At the end of my lesson L suggested that I end the ride on a positive note (not that we were fighting or giving corrections at all really and were mostly just trying to get her to go forward and not tie herself into knots) and then hop off and lunge her for a while just to let her drain some energy. It’s completely my fault that she had so much extra energy (and the weather since it had been a stormy week and we just had a cold front blow in before my lesson) as I told L’s next student, I’ve been doing a great job with pony fitness and not as good of job with consistent rides this past week.

I hopped off and lunged doing lots of canter/trot transitions until Katai had done a bunch more snort/sneezes and I could see her thinking again instead of just running along in her own little world. She got lots of pats, an apology, and a good grooming. I had planned to get some video of my lesson but my phone died as I was just starting the video.

My only clip from my last ride :(
Then, I was going to redeem myself and get some video of my ride last night. I was all excited about it because I was riding outside and it was a beautiful night so it would have been good video but all my phone captured was about 3 minutes of video of my walking Katai around the arena letting her look at all the new things. Media is so tough!

I just ordered my saddle this morning!!! I was worried about how long it would take for me to get it and L had suggested I check to see if I could keep the trial until the saddle came in. Unfortunately there are three more people in line waiting to try it (popular saddle!) so I need to ship it back today but luckily Prestige had a Prestige Lucky Idol in stock in the US that is a 34 which they can adjust to a 36. Because of that they said that I’d get the new saddle in about a week. I’m so excited and can’t wait! I’ll take more pictures to share once I get it. After having previously decided on a brown saddle (what I’ve wanted for the last few years) I had a change of heart and decided to go with the black. Not just because of the shorter wait but because it’s just so typical for dressage saddles. I’m actually really excited about it and the good thing is that I was going to splurge on a new bridle for my Christmas/birthday present to myself later this so I can just go ahead and order that in black instead of brown. Getting all traditional over here in pinto sport pony dressage land ;)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Do Less, Ask for More

My camera randomly captured this when I was trying to set it up to take video.
Unfortunately it's all the media that I have from Thursday 
I feel like this summer has been more about figuring out myself, motivation, and how to train my horse than it's been about actually training my horse. With this being said I feel like we've been making lots of progress.

I've been slowly chipping away at my position and how it's effecting Katai. I've also been figuring out some of the small evasions that she's been throwing at me that I couldn't originally identify when I didn't have as much dressage riding knowledge. More importantly I've been figuring out how to deal with the correctly rather than just operating on feel alone where sometimes I make the problem worse.

The problem is that sometimes this has been feeling more philosophical than actually like something I can take action on. Thursday felt like the first time in awhile that I put the knowledge and skills I've been learning to use, on my own, and worked through a tough situation to end up some place good.

I also learned a few things. One is that I need to go back to 5 rides per week, at least, Katai just has too much energy and isn't getting enough work right now. 4 rides or 5 casual rides just isn't enough for her current fitness level. I'm going to plan to do at least three, working dressage rides, a trail ride, a lunge, and then if she's still feeling hot or if one of our dressage rides ended up being a bit lighter I'm going to add a cavalletti day. the main thing for me is to make sure that during our dressage rides I can concentrate and really ride, and more importantly THINK the way that I know I can. If that means changing a dressage ride into a trail ride or lunge I'm going to do that. Riding dressage and then not really putting much into it or not concentrating is not gaining me anything.

The other thing is that I need to make a couple of things a priority in my rides, getting Katai in front of my leg and making her deal with a normal, light, leg pressure and not taking the pressure off when she over reacts and gives herself the tizzies.

Finally no treats again. Over the past few weeks I'd snuck her one very randomly and during the hunter pace she got a lot. For special occasions away from home I'll still give her some but she's started pinning her ears and giving me dirty looks in the crossties again so no more treats at the barn anymore. I had hoped that making them rare and random would be ok, but no.

My ride on Thursday was really great. I worked on things and was actually able to make progress without L there which has been really hit or miss lately (more miss than hit). I had identified a few things to work on and then I stuck to it. One of those was, as mentioned above, getting her in front of my leg. We ended in a better place but its something that still needs more work. I also really worked on getting her to still accept leg pressure. She has trouble figuring out the difference between the two which is totally on me but now it's time to start fixing it. We had some really good work and ended in a really nice place. It was also my first full ride in the trial saddle and after a few minor tweaks it still slid forward but less. I'm really falling in love with this saddle so I'm very hopefully that L will have some more ideas on how to girth it up that will fix the slipping issue entirely so that I can get it!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Another Saddle Update

Where the magic happens
It's been awhile since I posted and a very long time since I did a proper riding post. I don't have one for you yet but I do have another saddle update!

I finally got the Prestige Lucky back on trial with the adjustment made. It got to the barn on Monday or Tuesday but I didn't make it out to try it out until Wednesday.

When I set it on her back it still very slightly bridged (very slightly lighter pressure under the seat) but once I girthed it loosely it felt better. Katai also stands with a more hollow back so I knew that once I started riding it wouldn't bridge at all.

Her darn girth groove is just so far forward!

I took the pictures in this post and then put a saddle pad on and then tried it out. I had planned on just a lunging day so I lunged her first and then hopped on for a short ride. She felt good but a little sassy because the saddle put my leg back a little further on her barrel and it sat back a little further so she was being sassy about my leg pressure.

She seemed nice and loose and comfortable over her back but honestly the saddle rode so differently than my previous one that I was feeling very out of it and wasn't completely sure what I was feeling. Then she went to canter (leg position again) but I went with it since I wanted to see what she would think of the saddle at a canter. At the canter she felt less enthused but my leg was also significantly further back on her barrel at that point than it normally is so I'm wondering if it was the or the saddle.

Not bad
Unfortunately when I finished my short bit of canter I thought that the saddle had still slid forward a bit and when I climbed off, after a little more trot work, I confirmed that it had. It had slid forward at least an inch. I was honestly pretty frustrated. This saddle is shorter through the back and has a point billet, two things that were supposed to help and yet it still slid forward.

I could store snacks in there
After some thought about it on the way home I'm going to try girthing it a little different, take some more pictures for the saddle fitter at VTO tonight and hopefully either I'll figure something out with a little tweaking or maybe they'll have an idea or maybe it just won't fit and it will be back to the drawing board. Fingers crossed!

I'm going to hopefully take more photos of my ride tonight and will share those soon.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

BOGO: Lesson Recaps 8/6 and 8/14

Checking to see if flower filler is actually edible
In all the excitement of the Hunter Pace last weekend I completely forgot to do a lesson recap from my lesson on Saturday and that's too bad because it was great!

Last Saturday I had a sleepy, low energy pony. Between just not wanting to push her when she was in a good mood and behaving and knowing that she was going to need to expend a lot of energy the next day we took it easy and mainly focused on me. I had let L know what Jane had worked on with me so we focused on helping me keep my back straighter and on how I used my upper body.

Katai was extremely good and was letting me focus on myself and just bopping around despite me flopping around on her like a sack of potatoes and going through all sorts of weird contortions with my body.

About half way through the lesson L called me over and we started identifying what parts of my body need to go where. My lesson with Jane was extremely helpful because she wouldn't let me put my body wrong even once, L usually doesn't call me on things that consistently BUT, Jane didn't break things down in that lesson and focus on muscles and that was what L did on my lesson. She identified the muscle I needed to use as the muscle right above the Kegel muscle (haha)  when all along I've been tightening muscles too far up in my abdomen.

Seriously lacking media but this is my little car at the barn
She walked me through how tightening those muscles meant that I could still breath (pretty important in doing anything well it turns out) while still using my pelvis correctly and when I got it right it felt amazing! I was actually able to control my body when posting while holding myself in the correct position and once I got it Katai clearly relaxed and was more comfortable through her back.

The whole rest of my lesson L was yelling something along the lines of don't forget to use your Kegel muscles! haha

Then today I was able to pretty much continue where we left off before. We pushed Katai a little more but we also worked more on my position through my arms and elbows and focused on my position at the canter. Between the two of us we identified just how much I've been relying on the wrong parts of my body to center myself in the saddle and as soon as we moved one thing a bunch of other pieces fell apart. Right at the end of the lesson I had about 2 seconds of really correct canter position that was the best I've had.

Now I just have to practice this week as well as I did last week so that I can continue to make progress. I feel like for so long I was so much more advanced than Katai that I was always teaching her things and now I feel like she's further along than I am. The exciting thing is that now our progress feels like it's more reliant on me making changes and that's really empowering!

Thursday, August 11, 2016


How Katai greeted me the day after all that work.
She was totally mugging for treats (spoiler alert, she got one :-) 
Sunday at the Hunter Pace was amazing. I had so much fun and I think that Katai did too. Taking home a ribbon was the icing on the cake but that isn’t what’s left me feeling like I’m on top of the world for the past few days, it’s that Katai wasn’t a monster to handle, didn’t lose her cool, and didn’t forget how to horse at this event.

I know that I’ve been a little negative about how the last schooling show went and I just want to be clear, that had nothing to do about our dressage score. I think that’s sort of funny and was very fair for how she rode. I do feel like it was an accomplishment that we stayed in the ring and I’m really not disappointed in how she was to ride. It was everything else.

Katai's satin. I used to have all my ribbons (4-H and other horses)
on this picture holder thingy but took everything down except what belongs to Katai
She was a monster to handle on the ground and nearly hurt me a few times. She so completely lost her marbles (didn’t even seem to know I was there) that I’ve just been unsure about how she’ll be to show in future.

It’s not like I think that she’ll never be able to show calmly. She is a very reasonable pony and exposure has really fixed most of the concerns I used to have. In fact, she used to lose it when I cross tied her in the barn and now she gets in the cross ties and pretty much falls asleep and doesn’t move her feet. I know it’s possible, it’s just that with the extent of her freak out at that schooling show I wasn’t sure how many YEARS it was going to take her to calm down and for showing to be fun. I’m just in this for the fun and the thought of dealing with her tantrums for any lengthy period of time was making me feel sick to my stomach.

However, on Sunday she was nearly foot perfect for a young horse. She did throw her shoulder into me a bit, she danced a bit when she was tied and had a couple of nervous poops. She didn’t want to stand still for me to mount and she jigged a bit when I first started riding. All of that is fine, it’s what I signed up for when I got a young horse and decided to start her myself. I didn’t sign up for a horse that was blindly striking out at me (she was so upset that she literally didn’t see me) or rearing into me, or rearing backwards into the wall in her stall at the schooling show. That’s terrifying and something I’m hoping to not repeat and the Hunter Pace on Sunday proved to me that it might not take YEARS for her to be a good pony, maybe just a few months or a year. That gives me so much hope :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Saddle Update

A month or so ago I was able to speak with the saddle fitter that works at the company that I got the Prestige Lucky on trial from. He requested some pictures and asked some questions about her breeding and her build. I took the following pictures for him.

After looking at these pictures he announced that she is a 36cm but that the trial saddle could be widened to a 35cm (it's a 33cm and they can adjust it 2cm at a time) and he thinks that would be good enough to try riding in. The trial saddle has been out with a different customer for quite some time now but yesterday I heard back that the saddlery got it back and are readjusting it and going to send it today or tomorrow!

I was thrilled to hear that he thinks that this saddle could fit her with the adjustment. It's just a gorgeous saddle, the leather is amazing, it's shorter through the back, and I'm comfortable riding in it plus it's in my budget so I'll have my fingers crossed that it will actually fit :-)

the trial when it was still a 33cm
Cool, patent carbon fiber type material on the cantle, tough to see in this picture but it's pretty cool 
Of course I also had to check and see if they could get it in "tobacco" brown and they can! So excited to get it back and try it out again.

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Hunter Pace

I had SUCH an amazing time at the hunter pace on Sunday!! It was easily the most fun I’ve had on a ride recently and I think Katai had a blast as well!

Goons in the trailer
I was with an amazing group which really helped. There were four of us total and our leader Jenny (trailerer) has done lots of trail rides, some hunter paces and hunts in the past as well as lots of trail riding. She was on a very tall draft/TB cross who was an amazing large gentleman that wasn’t spooky at all. Then there were three of us from my current barn me, Vanessa, and Allie. All three of us had younger, inexperienced horses and out of the group Katai actually had the most trail riding experience. Vanessa was riding her OTTB, Cat, who is off the track just since early this year (February I think?) and who has never been on a trail ride in her life. Allie was riding her young Quarter horse (I think), Sarge, who has just been ridden consistently since around May and who has also never been on a trail ride. I was, of course, riding Katai who has been on trail rides but never trailered off property for one and who admittedly become a screaming hormonal unicorn at our last experience off property.

My legs look so long in this picture!
I honestly wasn’t sure that I would even be able to get Katai on the trailer especially once I got a look at it. Jenny has a four horse head-to-head trailer and while I knew that the extra space would be welcome (the only trailer I’ve struggled to get Katai on so far is a straight load two horse) I also knew that the very steep ramps and maneuvering needed inside might be tough. Katai started off resistant but calm but as soon as Jenny opened up the second ramp and suggested that we just walk her through a few times Katai walked right through. From there it was easy to just stop her in the middle and back her into her space. We got her secured and easily loaded the other two. Yay for good baby horses!!!

We got on the road but pulled over for gas and to check on the horses about 15 minutes into the trip. I was extremely happy and impressed to see that Katai didn’t have a single bit of sweat on her, was eating her hay, and was perky eared. I can only imagine that she really liked being able to see the other three horses and that it was making her feel more confident.

Leading the pack
I was really pleased and feeling more confident about how she would do once we unloaded than I had. The trip was about an hour and then we pulled into a nice large field with several other trailers. We unloaded and were able to tie two horses to the trailer with their hay bags. The other two had to be held since the trailer just didn’t have enough tie rings. I opted to tie Katai and with her hay bag in front of her she was a perfect lady. She actually ate her hay and didn’t even call to the strange horses. I think it helped that it was very low key and not nearly as electric as her last show experience and, of course, being able to see her three buddies the whole time really helped as well. We all started getting tacked up and ready to ride. I got in the saddle a bit before some of the others and let Katai stretch her legs in the field a bit while everyone else got mounted up.

We left the gate at about 10:08am. I knew that a hunter pace was different than a hunt but I wasn’t exactly sure how it differed. First off, there aren’t hounds for the hunter pace and you don’t go out at the same time with a big group. Instead, you go out with as many or few riders and horses as you chose and try to meet an unidentified time over a specific course that was set by the person who, I believe, normally would lead the hunt. The group that put on this event does Hunts as well and I’ve actually been invited to the one at the end of August!!

What’s fun about the hunter pace is that it’s sort of like a really long cross country course with fewer jumps and no jump judges. You can chose to go at whatever pace you want but we were hoping for a ribbon (1st – 6th) so we went a bit faster than you might on just a normal trail ride. The whole ride (with trot, canter, and some gallop) ended up taking us about 1 hour and 38 minutes was just about 7.5 minutes off the pace and meant that we came in 4th!!!

Gorgeous satin!
It was SO MUCH FUN!!!

I had a great group since both Vanessa and Allie are eventers with young/green horses and this was their first experience. Both are bold riders and happy to push the pace a little but both also wanted to give their horses a great experience and didn’t have extremely fit horses. Both Vanessa and Allie took some jumps and neither Jenny or I took any. We all were in agreement about pace for the whole ride and were happy to walk or gallop as appropriate which made it fun. Amazingly enough with all the young horses, and especially with the lack of trail riding experience, none of the horses were spooky. The draft cross or Katai led through anything spooky for the most part but the OTTB led over two bridges!! She just walked right on and over very calm and composed and the others followed her over just as calmly. It was really pretty remarkable and I think that rider attitude had a lot to do with it since we were all happy, positive, calm, relaxed people that were out just to have fun. 

Allie’s young Quarter Horse was probably the most worried and spent the first half of the ride cantering and jigging but did really well and by the end was really happy and calm and comfortable for our longer sets of canter and gallop towards the end. All four horses were equally sweaty and none of them seemed especially tired out after the ride. I will say that I didn’t actually think the ride would be that long especially with the amount of canter and gallop that we did. It sounds like most of the time these rides are closer to 45 -60 minutes. 
Posing ;)
Knowing how long it was and how hard the horses worked, next time I’ll bring liniment and probably give Katai some electrolytes before the ride. Live and learn. At any rate it certainly wasn’t too much for her. She is routinely ridden for 45-60 minutes with a lot of trot and canter and is very fit cardio wise. It was just a lot more hillwork and canter/gallop than she was used to. With that said though, we still did a lot of walk and she was perky eared and bright eyed throughout and after the ride. She got a little bute last night and this morning with her grain to help fend off too much soreness and she’s getting today off, a very light lunge tomorrow just to stretch her out a little, and another day off Wednesday. Then, depending on how she’s feeling on Thursday we may just do an easy walk ride.

LtoR: Allie and Sarge, me and Katai, Vanessa and Cat, Jenny and Ollie
I was SOOOOO proud of her and how she handled everything. Multiple people complemented me on her about everything from her willing and sweet personality, to her ability to keep up with the others, to how fancy she is.  I still don’t think I can quite believe that she’s mine.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programing

To bring you the very interesting news that I'm going to a Hunter Pace tomorrow!

This blog has been going along talking about dressage and my lack of motivation and trying to get Katai in the trailer and then BOOM, out of left field I announce that we're going to a Hunter Pace.

This is what happens when I don't own a trailer, I need to take advantage of every invite to trailer off property. Plus its going to be so much fun!

I can't wait and should have amazing media and a story to tell when I'm safely back home in one piece tomorrow.

Fingers crossed ;)

Friday, August 5, 2016

Taking for Granted

I’ve been kind of unmotivated and negative about horse things recently. I don’t know how much of it has crept into the blog but between some of the things outside of my control, like weather and work travel, I’ve just figured that I’m feeling less motivated than normal.

 However, during a random work meeting (we weren’t talking about anything like this I was just apparently day dreaming) I realized that I’ve been really ungrateful recently.

The 11 year old me would have been so completely and absolutely happy to just have a horse to groom, pet, talk to, and very much to ride.

The 15 year old me would have killed to have any sort of arena space to ride and to be able to take regular dressage lessons. Plus the things above.

The 19 year old me would have thought that I’d died and gone to heaven to be able to have my horse on stall board and have the opportunity (even if it’s infrequent) to show. Plus all of the things above.

The 24 year old me would have been insanely excited to have the perfect pony with talent for dressage (instead of a horse) at all much less one that I’ve trained myself (Katai). Plus all of the things above.

But, for some reason the 30 year old me is just frustrated that I can’t get my perfect pony on a trailer and that I haven’t been able to show more this season. Of course that’s not all I’m thinking.

I’m grateful every day to have the opportunity to board at such nice places, I’m really thankful that I’ll be saving some more money next month (and I think that some of these more negative feelings are still partially from feeling stressed about money) and of course, I’m insanely grateful that I have Katai in my life. It’s just time for me to take stock of what I really have and get back to a place where I feel like the 11 year old me when I’m driving to the barn to groom MY pony, and ride MY pony, and pet MY pony, and feed MY pony treats. That’s one of my main goals for the rest of the year so here goes, time to stop taking everything I have for granted.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

July Goals Recap

Previous Goals Recap:

1. Proper bend to each direction - I honestly think this is something we should have better by this point. I’m sure if I were a more advanced rider that this would be more consistent than we have it right now. I’m going to just keep working and improving my skills at this.
-Meh, I just wasn’t able to dressage consistently enough in July for this to get any better. Between the weather, my travel, and moving her back and forth to the other barn (and all the drama that entailed) I just haven’t had many regular dressage rides. Luckily she hasn’t back slid (much) but I also didn’t make much dressage-y progress.

2. Work outside - I just need to get her outside as much as I can and for as many different activities as possible
-Yes! I’m getting so much better that this! Pretty much every day that I could, where the weather cooperated, I rode outside.

3. Do chiropractor prescribed stretches before every ride (also getting a massage book so that I can do some of this myself :)
-Meh, mainly just because I wasn’t doing these before outdoor rides or lunging sessions and I didn’t have many dressage rides so I didn’t do many stretches with her. I am a ways into the massage book so going to continue working on that!

August Goals:

1. Work Outside – Yes it went well last month but I need a reminder to continue to make this a priority. Soon it will be snowy and icy outside and impossible so I need to get out while we can.

2. Stretchy Trot – I think from the lack of rides and all the trailering drama Katai has been tight and tense through her back. I want to head it off by doing a lot more stretchy work this month and really confirming that I can get her to stretch out when I ask for it.

3. Massage – As mentioned previously I’m partway through the book I got (really good book by the way and I’ll do a review at some point) and want to finish this up and start practicing on Katai.

4. Strength – In previous posts I’ve mentioned that I’ve really let my strength go. A combination of just not riding as often, and doing more trail riding, and letting my normal riding workout go which means that I’ve lost a lot of strength. It means that I’m flopping around up there and that’s making Katai crabby (I really don’t blame her) and tense. I also want to work on Katai’s strength and add more cantering into our workouts since she’s wearing out pretty quick for how far we are along at this point.

5. Ride More – This is the biggest goal and will make everything else easier. I just need to focus this month on getting out to the barn more.

Monday, August 1, 2016

More Core: Lesson Recap 7/31

I seriously need new content
It feels sort of weird to be back at my barn taking lessons with L when I know that in a month I’ll be at a new barn with a new instructor. It feels odd that I spent a few days there an took a lesson and now I won’t be back until September. At any rate, for completely unrelated reasons, I just wasn’t feeling it at my lesson on Sunday.

My BM actually asked me if anything was wrong when I got to the barn (I didn’t realize my body language made it that clear) but I was tired, out of it, and just not feeling like riding at all much less in a lesson. The weather was beautiful, if a little humid, and I’d been up for a while and had my favorite coffee. I was feeling fine, just not wanting to be there. I got Katai groomed and tacked up and met L in the ring. We started a little early since the previous rider wasn’t there (she’s getting a new Pomeranian puppy!!).

We chatted for a while about the plan for the next month which is basically to push both me and Katai since we know that we’ll go backwards a bit when we get to the new barn. L wants to be sure I have as many tools as possible to deal with an ornery pony which I very much appreciate.

It was clear pretty early in our warmup that Katai was feeling even less motivated than I was. They’re still on night turnout and were getting turned in just around the time that I got there so I think she was looking forward to bed and hay and not a riding lesson. I also have the feeling that there was a lot of pony partying overnight since it’s been a little cooler. Amazingly enough she wasn’t crabby, just sleepy and sluggish. Because of that L decided to work on transitions within the gait at a trot. She told me that when pony is sleepy like that and sluggish it’s exactly the time to work on spicing her up and not on a day when she’s already spicy.

At first Katai wanted to just run and canter when I asked for more but eventually she gave us some really nice floaty lengthening’s and her more collected work at the trot was the best that it’s been. It did certainly get her spiced up and after doing it to the left she didn’t want to walk at all going to the right. After getting the walk for half a circle we went to the right and she did really well that way as well.

As we worked into the lesson she asked a bit about what Jane had worked on with me and was working on my position as well. We talked about how I’ve let my core go and that it’s not always as bad as it is when Katai is rushing (like she was at Jane’s) but I still need to use it more. I felt especially like a floppy bag of potatoes in this lesson which sucks. I just haven’t been riding as regularly since spring. Between everything going on I’ve been riding more like 2-3 times per week (trail rides and lunging don’t count) if I’m lucky. I just need to start working out more regularly again and of course riding more regularly now.

I was still in a bit of a funk throughout the lesson. I’m going to really miss L and I think that it’s effecting me more subconsciously than I realize. I was having a tough really giving my all in the lesson and I HATE that. I want to always do my best especially when I’m working with someone like L. At any rate, by the end of the lesson I’d broken through it a bit and when we talked about plans and what I needed to work on for myself and Katai I was feeling better and actually left the lesson with some of my missing motivation. Now, for some unexplainable reason, I’m feeling really motivated. I feel like after a few months where I haven’t been able to find that consistent riding schedule that works I’m sort of back on track since there aren’t any big plans to derail me over the next few months. Now I just need to actually ride!

Made It

Human(s) 1 - Pony 0

Or maybe not 0 since my BM wasn't able to get her loaded last weekend...

At any rate we were able to get Katai loaded up and back to our current barn on Thursday evening. It only ended up taking about an hour but it was a lot of stress to me and my pony and I hate that. I had to be the "bad guy" and put a lot of pressure on her. I kept giving her options to take a break or have the pressure taken off but she was being "manipulative" (verified by my BM and barn friend who were there to help and be my support system).

I started out making it easy. I walked her up to the trailer and offered her treats and just did my best to let her take the easy option. Unfortunately she didn't want to do that and as soon as I put any pressure on she lost it. I spent almost 45 minutes just trying to get her to walk up to the trailer and stand there for a moment.

It really wasn't happening but she also stopped rearing (I learned how to deal with that when I first started working with her to trailer load) and was starting to be a little more respectful.

At about 50 minutes I admitted that I'd never made that little progress in that length of time and my barn helpers went and got some grain to do sort of a good cop, bad cop, sort of thing. Once she saw the grain she walked right in but wouldn't get far enough in for us to get her locked in. This trailer was a ramp and so we couldn't just push her in the same way that we could have with a gate.

Eventually I looked back to see the BM and the barn owner and Jane pushing the ramp shut and I freaked out as my pony threw her butt backwards into the gate. I was expecting to see them flattened by my pony but they held it somehow. Below is an actual reenactment of the battle of the trailer ramp.

At any rate we triumphed (unlike the video would have you believe) and got Katai back to our barn. After all the work and stress she was pretty sweaty when she got off the trailer so after letting her relax for a minute I gave her a bath and then turned her out with her buddy. Her buddy is the boss and after briefly showing her butt to Katai, Katai walked away, they touched noses and went back to eating hay together.

It was a little sad because it would have just been nice to leave her at the new barn rather than taking her away for a month and then going back but I didn't want my current BM to be out the income and I can't afford to pay for two barns for a month. I am glad that I get to enjoy another month of lessons with L and that I have another month with all of my barn friends. Luckily my new barn is just down the road so we've still got plans to do things together and see each other at clinics and shows.

Thank You!

Thank you all so much for your messages and positive thoughts. I'm really really really really really really really really really really...