Saturday, October 29, 2016

Beware of The Mare

Both of us agree that the weather can suck it.
I'm not happy with our weather right now. Spring and Fall when our weather changes and the pressure changes I always end up with bad migraines. This year in particular there have been so many swings back and forth that it feels like my head will never feel normal again. I've been tired, crabby, and in pain which has led me to not feel motivated to blog or to ride. Also with the recent FLSA change, which is going into effect on December 1st, and other year end things work has been crazy. With all of that I've been setting a goal to ride 4 days per week rather than 5.

For the most part Katai has been fine with that but today between still being madly in heat (seriously weather just go away. It's ok to be warm, or to be cold but please make up your mind) and a less consistent riding schedule she was full of spice.

I feel like we're living in England with this cold rainy weather
Also, she really wasn't bad, at all, but I also had my trainer hat on and so I was pushing things a bit more than normal. I feel like around once a week I really feel up to being a real thinking rider and actively training. Clearly I'm aware that I'm training her ever ride and I'm always working on things but this was one of those rides where I went into the ride knowing that I was going to push her a bit. For this ride that meant changing up the normal routine a bit more. It probably wasn't a good time to do that when I knew she was in heat but meh, it ended up being a great thing.

To start I got her into a good trot. She normally doesn't get as through until after she canters but she felt really good today. Because she felt so good early in the ride I asked for canter fairly quickly. She went into the canter pretty nicely but started off on the incorrect lead, my fault. I fixed it and did a good amount of canter on 20 meter circles and straight down the long side. After I really felt that she was on my aids and going well I went to trot across the diagonal and then towards the end went to leg yield and right into canter in the other direction once I hit the wall. Video below, I can really see some improvement!


In that transition she didn't do anything naughty but porpoised slightly as we went which she hasn't been doing at all so I knew she was feeling tight and extra full of energy. That was her tougher side so I got about as much canter but it wasn't quite as good as in the other direction and then back to trot. I gave her a walk break and then back to trot.

She was a bit tight to start off (she still doesn't think she should have to trot after we canter, my fault for always letting her be done after we cantered) but after a couple of serpentines and leg yields she loosened up. At that point I actually went back to canter which she did really, really well. She went right into the transition, very nicely. I was actually kind of impressed with just how nicely she cantered.
Slightly failed experiment with taking phone pictures
Very happy with that hind leg!
After another walk break I asked her to go back to trot, which I knew would mess with her, and she was quite hot, tense, and sassy. Clearly I was completely incorrect in asking her to do that since Katai knows much more about how our riding plan works :)

However, she did get nice and stretchy and felt great. She was stretching down and listening so I went to do a walk transition but didn't want to give her the reins right away. I hadn't put tons of thought into it, just knew that I can't keep just giving the reins away when I bring her back to walk. That really messed with her and she lost the remainder of her pony mind. She jigged, jogged, pranced, and started rearing. Major sass attack time.

Taking pictures with my apple watch
Children, don't Watch and Ride
There are times when I would just have called it after an amazing canter, or amazing trot but I can't keep doing that every time. Sometimes she has to just be an adult and my plan had been to have her take about three steps with some contact and then let it go and be done. Since she spazzed out though we ended up with another 5-6 minutes of riding and sassing with me talking to her, staying calm and relaxed, and trying to get her brain back between her ears.

I wasn't asking for much contact and eventually she did a good job of walking and relaxed a bit and then I really pushed my luck and asked for another halt/walk transition and she walked off softly with contact so I was done.

I was really proud of how I handled it and the progress that we made and I know that I need to just keep chipping away at this little monster I created with following too much of a routine.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Updates, Lesson Recap, and Future Plans


Because I haven't been blogging regularly I feel like I've just got all sorts of random life and pony updates. Lucky you, I'm going to just dump them all in one post and then try to get back on the blogging bandwagon over this next week or so.

Katai has adjusted so well to the new barn. She was right back to herself in very little time. I think that she enjoys the quieter environment. I actually have realized how much I enjoy it as well. I've always enjoyed the social aspect of being at the barn. I enjoy talking horses with people and I always feel more motivated to ride when there are other people there. However, knowing that I'll always have the arena to myself and that there won't be people watching means that I have an easier time concentrating on my riding and Katai rather than what other people are doing which is amazing.

Hussy mare is pretty sure she's in love
with Serenade, her neighbor mare
Jane is absolutely amazing! She provides really good, individualized care to all of the horses. What's really nice is that she treats them all almost like they're her own. She really loves Katai and treats her that way. Katai clearly is already very attached to her which is amazing and brings a really good feeling to our lessons where I can tell how much Jane cares about both of us having fun and enjoying our ride. She is able to really strike a good balance between pushing me and being very direct while still making it fun and lighthearted. For some reason (I think because of how reasonable and reassuring she is) my lesson anxiety (that I've had for my whole life with both music and riding lessons) is completely gone. I've never felt better about going to a lesson that I do right now with Jane.

I was going to do a lesson recap on the specific things that we covered on Tuesday but instead I'm going to just dump it here because again, it's more of the same. I'm sure everyone is probably getting tired of reading about how much we're improving, how amazing Jane is, how I can't believe how much progress we're making blahblahblah but that was still the case at this week's lesson.


For the first time we really NAILED the leg yield and got that amazing floating consistent trajectory feeling. We also had NO tantrums about canter transitions even though she was in absolutely raging heat. None, not a single bit of pony tantrum. I seriously don't know what magic Jane is working but it's amazing and worth way more than she charges. We also did a ton of canter in each direction and only had one break down to a trot. Plus, again no anticipating or almost no anticipating of the trot-canter transitions. I was so, so, so proud.

Rough water on Lake Superior
As for my personal life, it's been a weird week. I had taken a four day weekend, Saturday-Tuesday this past weekend so new guy and I had a road trip planned up to Duluth, MN. Unfortunately things didn't work out between us but the shit didn't hit the fan until we got to Duluth and spent a few hours walking around and shopping. At that point we had to endure a nearly 3 hour drive back home. It was an emotional car ride. I was, and am, sad and upset that things didn't work but I'm also proud of myself and how I handled things. In the past I would have just bit my tongue, pouted quietly and then dealt with it very passive aggressively once I got back so the fact that I handled it directly and yet politely was a big thing for me. My mom also has a great way of putting things into perspective and reminded me that this is exactly why trips like this are so important while dating since it causes issues to show up when it's easier to deal with, early on.

It was a dark and stormy day even before we decided we weren't a good fit for eachother
The nice thing was that I then had a couple of days at home Monday and Tuesday which I basically spent recovering since I was mentally exhausted and, I think, also was fighting off a cold. I don't normally go to the barn on Monday but did end up going to my lesson on Tuesday as planned (see above). I mainly try to leave all of this relationship stuff out of my blog for reasons like this. However, I was really confident that it was going to work in the first couple of weeks and then very confident that it wouldn't during this road trip and I don't want to hide the big things in my life either. It's a tough balance and I'll probably handle it differently next time. Live and learn.

The reason I brought up future plans is that part of what was so good about this guy and the reason that I was so excited to have found him is that he had very similar goals in life as I do. Then I was going to share that on this blog and realized that since I really haven't talked about it that wouldn't mean much to anyone here. Since this is already kind of a dump post I figured I'd just stick it here.

So, as mentioned I grew up on a farm. I was incredibly lucky to be able to have horses, goats, bunnies, ducks, etc. and yet I always just wanted to live in the city. However, even though I wanted to  live in the city I never doubted that I'd end up in the country again with my own piece of land. It was simply too amazing to be able to care for my own horses my own way for me to board for the rest of my life.

I do love living in the city, pretty much everything about it actually, and I LOVE boarding. It's great to be able to take vacations whenever I want and not to worry about having to do chores when it's -20* out. So, while I'm not in a huge hurry, there's also no doubt in my mind that at some point I want to have my own little farm and a small herd of ponies.

My dream location would be somewhere closer to the west coast. I don't have my heart absolutely set on it but I'd LOVE to be near Portland somewhere. My goal would be to own about 5 acres with a very small european style barn and some really nice large, dry lots with great drainage since ponies can't have much grass. Also, a nice track around the property for trail riding, a nice trailer, very nice fencing, a comfortable heated tack room with washer and dryer and... I could just keep going. There are lots of places that I feel I could be very happy, including near where I live now, but that would be the dream scenario.
Who wouldn't want this perfect tiny kitchen?
As far as living quarters for me (seriously who really thinks about anything outside of the barn) I've wanted a tiny house since before Tiny Houses were so popular. I never really planned or wanted one on wheels but I was going to either build a small apartment in my barn (who wouldn't want to feed the horses in their pajamas) or just a very small house. While I'm still considering a barn apartment I'm also getting very fond of the idea of building a tiny house on a trailer because of the freedom that would give me and also the cost. I'm working hard to get rid of debt and really don't want to turn right around and get myself back in debt. I'd like to have these things before I'm 40 but I also have way too much college debt from my master's degree so I'm trying to be reasonable as well.

Absolutely perfect
Of course not many other people want this mix of things or actually don't want/can't have this sort of life. This guy used to live in OR as a kid and wanted to go back, he actually initiated the conversation about living in a tiny house because I had basically given up on finding someone that wanted that. He also wanted a small piece of property, loved animals, didn't want kids, etc. It was amazing until it wasn't and I'm sad and still sort of dealing with it.

The good thing is that it really pointed out to me what I find most important in life.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Earning a Cookie: Lesson Recap 10/18


No new pictures of Katai so you're getting some of Veggie at the dog park

Last night I had one of my best lessons to date. Katai seems to be switching to winter mode which for her means that she sweet, sleepy, compliant, and very, very fuzzy of course.

I like winter pony!

She was all blinky and relaxed and happy when I pulled her out of her stall so I was looking forward to a great lesson. She stayed really happy through being tacked up and normally if she’s going to be fussy she shows it when I put her saddle or her bridle on. Since she was still just perky eared and soft eyed I knew we’d have a good lesson.

As soon as we started at a walk I started getting her to stretch down and right away Jane commented that she seemed very relaxed but did seem a little stiff. Because of that Jane had me start off doing some leg yield at the walk. I was having a tough time balancing the aids on both sides of her body so she would either fall sideways with no forward or I’d get lots of forward without getting her to cross her legs at all. Jane worked with me a bit and then had me move up to trot. I was still having similar struggles and Katai was so relaxed that she kept falling back to walk so I felt like I had to over-ride which wasn’t helping anything so Jane had me switch exercises.

He's just the cutest!
First at the walk and then the trot Jane had me do the long diagonal switching between riding the diagonal straight and doing it in a leg yield. We discovered that the reason that I can’t balance my aids is that I’m pulling the outside leg off, like literally hovering it in the air like a wing. After I started to leave it on her we started to get somewhere but of course as I changed how I was asking Katai didn’t know what to do. We did it a couple of times in both directions at the trot (still on the struggle bus with this one) and Katai was getting jazzed up but not tense!! She never once lost her mind and she remained very soft and pliable, she just didn’t quite understand and because we just let her not understand and figure it out there were absolutely no meltdowns. None.

We gave her a break and worked on me at the walk for a minute and then we went to canter. Jane wanted me to try a different exercise for this. The plan was to do a leg yield from the center line and as we hit the wall cue for a canter, do one 20 meter circle and then go down the long side with a transition to trot prior to the next short side. I have to admit that I cringed a bit. I had done the first part of this exercise with L and after the first time Katai figured out the plan and completely took over prior to the canter complete with lots of tension and pony tantrums (bucking spinning and refusing to go forward). Of course at that time we couldn’t really even leg yield but still, I had some legit concerns.

I went to do it the first time, took a breath, sat and cued for the canter and other than a little leap she didn’t do a thing wrong. I had asked that we start with her tough side so while it was a bit flaily (when your human actually sits on their inside seat bone and you have to carry them with your weaker inside leg it’s really tough to canter!) but it was there! We did the full exercise three times in that direction without a break and had absolutely no pony tantrums. Even better she never once anticipated! She literally stayed relaxed and on my aids the entire time and cantered when I cued and not before. She struggled a bit each time but we just let her figure it out.

Then without a break we switched to our easy side and it was like magic! All of a sudden her leg yield was brilliant, when I sat correctly she picked up the canter right away, and we had the most gorgeous, slow, three beat canter with some jump that we’ve ever had. We did the exercise three times that direction as well and still didn’t have any anticipation or pony tantrums and then called it a bit early.

Pony got LOTS of pets and verbal praise. Both Jane and I gushed over her in the ring and when I was grooming her and she even got a treat. Adult dressage ponies get cookies after particularly good rides after all 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Christmas Shopping List 2016

I've discovered/realized over the years that however amazing the intentions of my family are, they just don't like to get horse stuff for me (at least not any form of tack) and it's just better if I get that stuff for myself and let them get me things that they enjoy shopping for more.

With that being said, most years I get myself something for my birthday (December 11th) and something for Christmas, usually after Christmas with any money I got for Christmas.

This year though, thanks to aggressively paying off debt and putting some money in savings I've got a nice little chunk of money to spend so I'm having a great time shopping! There are so many options and since I don't have an limited budget I'm having fun picking out what I can put together that's fun and purely gifts for myself.

The Item(s) I'm Getting for Sure:



PS of Sweden Flying Change bridle - 

I've been talking about this one for a long time and I finally get to purchase it!! 


Broadband

Throat latch
Then, since I'm ordering the bridle and having it shipped I"m going to also get the throat latch so that I know I can show with it and of course I need a sparkly broadband. They're out of stock on the one I really want so I'm hoping it will be back in stock when it's time for me to get it.

My plan is to try to get it during their Black Friday sale so that maybe my money will go a little further!

The Tentative List:

Total Saddle Fit Girth:

I've already got a TSF girth but it's brown and it's always gapped at the front. Katai has never been girthy with it so I haven't worried much but now I'd like to fix that, plus to get a black girth that matches my saddle. Also, my current girth is a 24" because of how short the billets on my brown saddle were but my Prestige has normal dressage length billets so I want to get a shorter girth as well.

White Breeches:
I'm slowly putting together a show outfit. My goal is to do a rated show by the end of the year so I'm trying to pick up the things that I'll need as I go rather than waiting until I need it this summer. I'm planning to get a decent but not extremely expensive pair of white breeches I just have to figure out which ones!

Show Shirt:
I'd also like to get some sort of show shirt. The one in the picture is only $35 from Horze which is about what I'd like to spend on a show shirt at this point so I may just go with this one. I'm also going to pick up a couple more cheap ($10ish) polos from Old Navy for schooling shows but that's not what I'm getting myself for Christmas.

Other Stuff:

I'm also shopping for other non-horse stuff but most of that will probably end up on my christmas list for my family since they'll appreciate having some stuff to shop for.

Friday, October 14, 2016

All the Changes

Just a quick catch up post for today!

So, I had mentioned that I had something exciting going on and that is that I'm officially dating someone. He's completely amazing :-) Seriously the best guy I've ever met much less had the honor to be in a relationship with.

I'm clearly spending lots of time with him but he also really supports my riding/horse time and tonight I was extremely happy to have him at the barn with me. He grabbed one quick phone picture and even though the lighting just isn't that good at the barn I think I can see improvement in both me and Katai. Best thing is that he doesn't know what he's looking for so this is a completely random picture, not the one great moment that we had or something!

We're improving I think!! 
It was amazing to have him there and he was very patient as I went through my routine and even walked with us while I cooled her out. I can't quite believe that I got this lucky.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Scratchies: Lesson Recap 10/11

I seriously have the cutest little nugget
In other news, winter is coming and it was time for a clip!
Exciting things are still in progress but I should be able to start blogging a bit more again so it's time to catch up with another lesson recap! This lesson was action packed enough that I don't have anything really specific, just more of the same but I still want to have these notes for myself.

I still can't believe how much consistent improvement we've still been making. I feel like I've sort of hit a small wall with my improvement from a position standpoint but Jane is not to be deterred. She is   still making improvements and won't let anything go, thank goodness!

She's still trying to get me to turn my torso but I'm on the struggle bus there. I'm working on it but until I can get there she's having me adjust my rein length a bit more to correct for it. We've uncovered some issues with my right leg since I have to pull in with the back of my calf to be strong enough to get Katai to do something rather than the side of my leg. I'm dropping my right shoulder, giving too much with my right hand, when I put my leg's back I get a donald duck butt, I post ahead of the movement...

I LOVE dressage!

Thank goodness that Jane has the patience of a saint. Plus I'm getting way more consistent with my posting, relaxation, not leaning forward, not rushing Katai, and my canter seat is way better other than the fact that I can not turn enough to the right.

I brought veggie to a doggie playdate
and someone got some great photos of him!
I'm so excited to have these things identified for me. I can't even tell you how empowering it is that she can tell me this stuff, help me figure out what's correct and then allow me to figure it out myself while never letting up or giving me the impression that it is until it's actually right. Seriously the best feeling ever.

For this lesson we got the consistent trot, went to work on leg yield (which is coming along!!!) and then worked on canter again. I was so so proud of my pony! There was very minimal fussing and when she got tense as we changed directions Jane had me give her a little scratch on her neck and she relaxed and went right back to work. That night it was seriously like a magic button.

Now we just need to find my magic button, if only a scratch on the neck would fix my position issues!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Couples Therapy: Stubborn Together Blog Hop


I’ve had this idea for the past couple of weeks but finally decided that I was curious enough to make it into a blog hop.

Basically, I’m curious what role your trainer/instructor plays in the partnership between you and your horse. I’m not talking about unicorns and the Black Stallion here, just good common sense instruction on how you work with and ride your horse beyond the technical aspects of dressage. Is it something they feel strongly about either way or something that they just don’t work with at all?

My experiences have been very interestingly different. When I started with J (not Jane, past instructor who I dislike) I was surprised at the amount of animosity that she approached riding and coaching with. Anytime the horse wasn’t immediately doing what the rider asked it was “giving them the middle hoof” and was being uncompliant. She used a lot of force and even when I would specifically tell her that I thought something was just physically or mentally tough for Katai or that Katai didn’t understand something she would brush it off and say that my pony did understand and just wasn’t listening.

Then I worked with L who had very similar feelings about that relationship/partnership that I do. At first she made a big impact because I was coming from J’s antagonistic approach but ultimately both L and I were kind and fair but removed from really engaging in that partnership. Both of us have lost animals, and in her case people, that we were very close to and I think it made it tougher for us to really connect and come at this topic from a loving place. Instead it was more of a kind, fair, but casual sort of feeling which is how I’d initially worked with Katai and my past horses.

Now with Jane that’s completely different. She is working a lot with me on the technical pieces but I feel like some of the work she’s doing with me that’s had the biggest impact is on my partnership with Katai and how I function in that partnership. Jane has been doing this for a long time and owned and trained a lot of horses but it doesn’t feel like she treats this like her job. While she’s extremely professional about it, she also acts more like a coach, or as my friend says about her instructor, she’s my Yoda. Everything from the terms that she uses, to the way that she teaches and how she expects me to make changes with Katai is different and I’m learning so much. She uses terms like “hug” when she refers to leg contact, or tells me to take time to get her flexed correctly on the side where it’s tougher for Katai. She also LOVES mares which is nice since I also love them but I’m realizing that I don’t always know the best way to train/ride them.

I can’t believe how much this has all impacted Katai and the way she is to ride. She’s gone from tense and dramatic to loose, stretchy, relaxed and thinking in the time between when I ended with J and now but the biggest change has been in the past month. It’s been an interesting and amazing journey and I can’t wait to see where we are in the next couple of years!

So, how does your current (or past) trainer manage the partnership/relationship between you and your horse(s)?

Friday, October 7, 2016

Catch Up: Lesson Recap 10/4 and Other Catch Up


Sorry for the recent lack of posts but something really exciting has been going on in my personal life. I may be a little quieter for a while but should be back in full swing soon! At any rate I want to recap this week’s lesson before I entirely forget what we talked about.

The focus this week again was canter. Later in the lesson Jane said something that made me so happy and that’s that me and Katai’s trot is really good, our walk is mostly controlled (when we don’t have angry mare hormones to deal with), and our leg yields are getting really good so she wants out canter to catch up. This is so, so encouraging for me because we’ve never been at a place where we have such consistently good trot much less actually even having any sort of lateral work at all. With that being said we’ve worked through the worst of the flailing at the canter and it’s starting to get consistent as well. The amount of change in Katai (and let be honest, in my riding) is just amazing to me and I’ve only been at this barn for a month now. I can’t even imagine where we’ll be in the spring!
 
She's just totally amazing
To start off we worked on getting Katai to really bend all through her body on a loose rein and to take the contact down. She tends to be tight through the back and in her neck so this is really good for me to learn. What was really interesting was that after doing this in each direction, when we switched back she did this quick, little shake a few times with her head and neck and swished her tail around a couple of times. She was clearly releasing something and she has NEVER done anything like that before. We did each direction again, got a few more twitches out of her, and then went to trot.

We focused on getting my body in the right place and getting me to bend my knees as I sit. I have ALWAYS struggled with being in a chair seat and now to try to correct that I’m compensating by perching since it feels like that will get my legs more under me. On Tuesday when Jane had me correctly sit back more on my pockets my legs shot out in front of me again so we focused on that for a while. As that was getting better she had me do some leg yield down the center line and really focus on staying behind the movement and not trying to ride too much when I feel Katai quitting. I need more practice with this but it got a lot better during this lesson! Then we took a walk break and Jane helped me re-arrange my body again before we went into canter. 

It really is getting to be fall!
This tree is outside my work and it's so pretty
Katai did really well going to the right (my tough side) and we discovered that I’m turning my right toe out and squeezing with the back of my calf rather than the inside. We think it’s a flexibility thing and I also think it’s a strength thing. I’m going to work on that. When we switched to go in the other direction Katai just refused. No, this is hard work I don’t want to don’t make me I’m done I want my dinner please thank you. So, I picked up a dressage whip for the first time in a long time just to help reinforce my forward leg aid since pony was being very ponyish and just stopping and digging her heels in. She wasn’t happy about it but when I asked gently with the whip she did go forward and we got some great canter in that direction.

After a little trot break we went back to canter again. Just like T, we’re at a place where we just need to canter so we’re really working on doing it a lot, for short sections of the ride. Once I had the dressage whip I only needed to use it a couple more times and then Katai got the memo and started to just listen to my leg.

Being a dressage pony is hard work!

Just like last week I decided to lunge on Wednesday since it’s a good way to give her a lighter day but still get her moving so she doesn’t get too stiff. Jane came and watched for a bit again and really likes this as part of my riding schedule so Wednesday Lunging Day is officially a thing now. Katai was quite stiff to start off, she had gotten a good workout the day before, and was a little crabby. I let her take her time moving slowly and gradually as she softened up we went back to the canter on the lunge, in side reins.

She started off a bit sluggish but really started to get it and maintain her own, slow momentum after a bit. After a trot break and some walk we switched to the other side and did a bit more. I stopped before she got too tired and when we went over to talk with Jane, Jane mentioned that Katai’s eyes were so much softer and she was quiet and relaxed. She’s really appreciating our new routine and I’m learning how to help with that relaxation which is amazing! I plan to ride tonight, Saturday, and Sunday and can’t wait to see my amazing mare 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Slow it Down

I went to check out a new dog park with Veggie.
This one has a really cool view of the St. Paul skyline.
I've had a great weekend for rides mainly because I feel like Katai and I are really figuring out what we need to do at the canter.

Friday my amazing new farrier was there so I worked from home but only got to the barn just as he was getting done. I was able to pay him, important :-), and then spent some time with her in her pen sort of doing some free lunging but mainly just pushing her away when she got a crabby expression.

Not sure if that stuck or if she just has been thinking about things on her days off but Katai was doing her very best slow, relaxed canter on Saturday and was really working to figure out what I was asking. It was so amazing and, honesty, out of character for her that after one canter in each direction I did a bit of trot and then ended.

Using my Apple Watch to take this picture.
I just wish I could use it to start video!
Today I planned to do some lateral work after the canter to really mix things up. To start I did a bit more trot and then cued for the canter to the right. She did so great! The previous day I had gone right from one direction to the next via some trot across the diagonal but today I took her down to a walk to let her catch her breath and give her a bit of a break.

When I asked for the trot again to the left she was having none of it. I was excited though because I found a hole. As long as I keep trotting she didn't resist but when I walk after canter she thinks she's done. Now that I know I can work on it! However, after a bit of resistance I got her into a trot, got a good trot, and then with just a slight leap forward she went right into canter when I cued.

Monthly tack cleaning time.
This time the movie was Love Actually :)
Because of some of the remaining tension she was more resistant going that way but we still had some REALLY good moments which was really encouraging. I got her back to trot after a bit of work and then kept the trot for awhile on some large 20 meter circles and finally did some lateral work. She was so good the first time I asked for a leg yield off the centerline that I called it right there and she got to be done.

You mean not everyone sets their saddle on their bed
while they're getting ready to clean it?
Also, Where's Veggie ;)
I feel like recently my biggest takeaway is that with my incredibly intelligent mare I just need to mix things up every ride. I just can't do the same thing, the same way more than once in a row or she'll figure it out and then be resistant. Of course we're going to work on getting her to understand that sometimes she just needs to do these things but for now variety will be really important. It is totally on me that I was doing a very similar ride format for months and months and now that I'm asking for something different it makes perfect sense that she thinks I'm nuts. I'm just really proud that she's figuring things out as quickly as she is!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Anniversary

Baby Katai was a baby
I can’t believe that today is my 4 year anniversary with Katai! Four years ago today I actually, after nearly 3 hours, got her loaded in a trailer and home to the place I was living/boarding at the time. She proceeded to run through every wire fence on the property and even visit the neighbors within the first 20 minutes that she was with me. She also came up to me, let me catch her, and that whole adventure didn’t end in any sort of disaster because I feel like we already had some sort of connection (all of the treats I’d given her when working to get her loaded probably helped).

The next year and a half were a lesson in patience for me since she wasn’t completely convinced that she wanted to be a riding pony, or a pony that listened to people in general. She was rude, pushy, jumpy, naughty, aggressive, couldn’t be tied, couldn’t be blanketed etc. I kept on working and seeing small glimpses of how amazing she could be and only once in a while lost hope that she would be an amazing dressage partner. Then during our second year together we started working with a dressage trainer that ruined her relaxation and my confidence in my pony. I nearly sold her and doubted that I had ever seen any real talent in her but for some reason I couldn’t actually ever list her for sale and so after about 6 months with that trainer we “escaped” to a temporary barn where I painstakingly started to put things back together. Katai was still anxious and didn’t trust me on the ground but I very slowly started to get my pony back under saddle.

Then during our third year together we found L. I started to take twice monthly lessons with her and eventually went back to weekly lessons. She believed in us and started to help me believe in us again as well. She slowed things down, helped teach me how to get Katai more relaxed, and fundamentally changed the way that Katai moves and the way that I ride. Katai and I slowly started to get our connection back on the ground and under saddle.

After a tough year of work and slow improvement I needed to move Katai for my own financial reasons. For some reason the universe conspired to get me to exactly the right place at exactly the right time and I’m now working with an absolutely incredible instructor who not only is continuing to improve my riding and Katai’s way of going but is also actively working on our relationship as horse and rider. She’s one of the best teachers I’ve ever worked with including the professors I worked with as I was obtaining my BA and MA and all of the music teachers I had from when I was 5-24.

Here’s to another 4 years with this amazing little mare.

She doesn't look it, but trust me she's enthusiastic about this