Saturday, December 31, 2016

Review of 2016




I've been having so much fun reading everyone's review of 2016 so even though I'm way behind with blogging this year I wanted to make sure I get this one out before 2017 starts.

2016 has been a great year for me overall and while some tough things happened there has also been a lot of good. It's also been a year of less change, overall, than what I've experienced in past years so I think the stability has allowed me to really put my focus on riding and riding related things such as blogging. It shows since I've reached a new high of over 140 posts this year compared with my previous record of 90. I think it's also shown with the improvement that Katai and I have made both in our rides and our relationship.

Without further ado...

January

Started with a bang as I was invited to ride in my first ever clinic, a Dressage clinic with Susanne Winslade.  I also had a rough saddle fitting experience, posted an update on the tack locker I was (still am) working on with my dad, and reviewed my fall favorites.


February

Was a a tough month and was my lowest posting month until November. It started off with an unsound pony who needed a week off and then I spent some time reflecting while Katai was off work. February then progressed with a more unsound pony who needed additional time off. It ended with more reflection on my relationship with Katai and mindset when riding her.

March

Wasn't much better than February for me and the pony. I had a few great lessons and an amazing clinic with Susanne. Then I "broke up" with my trimmer (still one of the best things that happened this year but tough at the time) and had an interesting lesson when Katai was extremely reactive as I mounted. I posted my winter favorites  and then Katai was an unsound pony again.

April

Was a little better and I started off with a tough lesson where I learned some position things to work on. There were some great rides and then another tough lesson where L focused on my position. I also posted about my new farrier and went to the MN Horse Expo and audited a Janet Foy clinic.  

May

I mentioned that I was shopping for a new saddle and posted about a second clinic with Susanne. I posted my spring favorites and then had a great post about a trainer ride for Katai where I finally got some more pictures. Finally, after attending my first show with Katai I posted recaps here and here


June

I was still recovering from our interesting show experience and posted about getting Chiro done for Katai. Then Katai was unsound again  and I posted about lunging and riding L's baby horse. Finally I tried to ride outside more but was thwarted by horseflies. 


July

Tied for my highest posting month with 16 posts. I mainly posted about saddle trialing and going to the National Dressage Pony Cup. I wished I had taken more "bad" pictures of Katai as a baby. I gained more confidence in Katai, finally started looking for a more affordable barn, had my first trial lesson with Jane and decided to move Katai to Jane's barn.

August

Started off with a trailering adventure and then felt a bit odd as I "waited" to move to Jane's barn. I also had SO MUCH FUN at a Hunter Pace and got further in my saddle fitting adventures. I shared a post that really sort of recaps how I felt about the whole first half of the year from a riding perspective. Finally I got moved to my new barn!  


September

Felt like the first month where things really started to fall into place for me and Katai. It started with some fun with friends at an amazing eventing facility and then Katai tried to start the pony apocalypse with Bridget from Oh Gingersnap! I posted about my breeches collection  and I continued to improve by leaps and bounds with Jane as an instructor.

October

Started off with me and Katai's four year anniversary! Then I had a great lesson and a not so nice relationship thing.


November

In November my blogging, and other things, fell apart a bit with some seasonal depression and a tough change of season. In fact in November I only posted twice including this really cool improvement video of me and Katai.

Roommate and friends (from AZ) playing Croquet in the -10*
temps we had the weekend before Christmas

December

This is where things really started to fall into place for me riding wise. I'd been having great lessons throughout November (despite my seasonal depression and not posting much) plus some other personal things fell into place later in the month. To start off I posted this recap of what I'd been doing since I last posted and then I joined the blog hop that was all about location. I complained about the weather and then got into a car accident :( I ended the month with some reviews on my Christmas presents to myself, namely the Stretchtec Girth from TSF and the Flying Change Bridle from PS of Sweden!

I have enough to post about goals that I'm going to do that in a separate post and that will be up soon!

Friday, December 30, 2016

PS of Sweden Flying Change Bridle Review

I've been doing my seasonal "favorites" posts but haven't had much to review recently since I haven't been purchasing much. Thanks to saving up some money I was able to spend a bit more on presents (for everyone including myself) this Christmas and finally got the PS of Sweden bridle that's been on my list for over a year.

Based on the information I had I decided to order the pony sized bridle. I had messaged asking for the bridle size but never heard back. I really should have messaged again before ordering as you're about to see.

Unfortunately when the bridle arrived and I compared it with a bridle I had at home that fit Katai I was pretty sure it was going to be too small. I brought it out to the barn, tried it on her and sure enough it was way too small. Not even close enough to be able to punch extra holes. So, I brought it back home and got it packaged up to return.

In the meantime I spent a lot of time admiring the pretty sparkly broadband
After a couple of emails back and forth and many days later (I shipped it back on 12/5 and it didn't arrive until 12/19) I finally received confirmation that it had arrived and they would be sending me the exchange. They were incredibly helpful and kind throughout the whole thing and I completely take all responsibility for any issues since it's on me that I both ordered the wrong size and was trying to ship back during the Christmas season.

With everything else going on this really wasn't at the top of mind and I've been more worried about figuring out my car. Once I heard that the bridle arrived safely I put it out of mind. It was a bit of a rough week since my car went into the shop mid week last week and I spent a week without being able to get to the barn.

That made it that much more wonderful that through some Christmas gift from the universe the package was waiting for me when I got back from my parent's house on Christmas Day :)


It was more fun and less stressful to open up the package this time since I knew it would fit. I took my time checking every inch and I have to say that I'm completely in love. I should mention that I've only ever owned cheap bridles (under $100) so I don't exactly have much to compare this with but after some of the comments about the leather I was curious what it would be like. Although I may not have an educated opinion I will say that I'm really happy with it and feel like it's completely worth the price.
Perfect for my princess ladybug
I went back and forth on what to order but my total order from PS of Sweden was the Flying Change bridle in cob size, a sparkly broadband, and the throat latch. I was tempted by the reins but in the end I just couldn't justify getting them for $80 when my favorite reins (so far) from Horze were $23 for Black Friday. I may be a bit of a tack hoe but I'm also a cheap tack hoe for the most part ;)

I really like the shape on her face!
I was able to bring it with me to the barn on Tuesday for my lesson and get it fitted to her. As the leather softens and everything starts to mold to her I'll need to adjust again but for now it's, amazingly, right in the middle hole on both sides. So, yeah, my 13.2 hand pony has the same size head as some 16 hand thoroughbreds ;) The only thing that was way too big was the flash but that's easy enough to punch holes in. I haven't used the throatlatch yet as I really got that just so that I can legally show in this bridle. 

She's so tough to get pictures of because
she just wants to follow me around
Sorry for the wonky flash in these pictures. I took these after I rode and I always take the flash off right away. I had it in a loop on top of her nose, like a lot of people do, but she had a mini "Bobby" tantrum and kept running her nose into the walls of the arena so I adjusted it for the princess.

My only complaint is the crank noseband. I've never had a crank noseband before and while I love the extra padding for Katai's face I'm a huge believer in leaving everything really loose so I'll never use it as a crank. Plus, it's just so fiddly to get fastened up! It does make us look very official though so that's pretty cool.

I'm sure that this will end up on one of my seasonal favorites posts in the future after I've had more of a chance to use it!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Christmas Updates

Wow, I've been a bad blogger. Between not having a car, Christmas stuff, family stuff, and personal stuff it's been a crazy few weeks. I also tend to not take much time off around the holiday so I've been fitting Christmas stuff in around a mostly full workload.

It's looking like I'll be able to pick up my car tomorrow morning, more on that later, and holiday stuff is starting to quiet down so hopefully I'll be back in the full swing of blogging very soon. However, I did want to post a few updates starting with my gift from the Blogger Gift Exchange!



I sent my gift just before the deadline of 12/19 and haven't heard anything so plan to follow up soon. However, I received my amazing gifts a week or so ago and it's just been so crazy that I didn't get it posted right away. My gifts were from Kristen at Stampy and the Brain and they are awesome! This is my first year participating and I'd mentioned that coat care or hair care items would be good.


Kristen got me a spray bottle, wonderful flicker brush, and some hair moisturizer that I'm anxious to try out! I also got an adorable note pad and a really cute card. It was so great getting a surprise for Christmas, I had a great time participating and can't wait to do this again next year :)

I also wanted to post an update about my car. I dropped it off at the shop on Thursday morning last week and they've had it ever sense. Of course Christmas delayed things and they've been great to work with. Unfortunately my car was totaled but in this case since it's very drivable and just ugly I'm going to retain it and keep driving it. I can't wait to get it back especially so that I can go to the barn.

Sadly the only times I've been to the barn in more than a week are for my lessons the Tuesday before Christmas and the Tuesday after Christmas. Understandably for my ride yesterday Katai was stiff and felt a little tight and sore especially since she was very in heat. All of the crazy weather changes we've been having lately certainly aren't helping. My goal is to make it to the barn every day through Sunday once I have my car. I'm missing my little ladybug so much!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Total Saddle Fit StretchTech Girth Review

This time with a black and orange hat
I've already got the grey and pink which are Katai's colors
Yep! I ended up getting it :)

This was at the bottom of the invoice and made me smile :)
I'm also in the process of getting a PS of Sweden bridle and although they are ergonomic and meant to be very comfortable for the horse that is really for me. This was for Katai and since I know her girth is gapping I just couldn't wait any longer to do something about it.

Attachment piece that I probably won't end up using
Prior to this girth I've used TSF girths for the past couple of years. They're the only girths that work with Katai's conformation and don't pull her saddle too far forward or run too badly into her elbows.

I really went back and forth on whether to get the Neoprene or the Leather. I think that both have really great benefits and likely both have some negatives as well. In the end I went with the leather option just because that's what I've been using with Katai for the past couple of years and it's worked really well for us with no chafing or soreness. Why mess with a good thing!

So cushy!
As mentioned previously I already have two PS of Sweden girths. One is a Havana 18" and the other is a Havana 24". The 24" has the older leather that has almost a plastic feel to it and I can only imagine that it's because there isn't a huge market for brown dressage girths, or wasn't when I got it. The leather on this one is nicer than either of the other TSF girths that I own. I'm not sure if it's because it's black or if it's just that they are perfecting the design but I really, really like this girth and the quality is very good.

Not an angle I'd seen online so the gap surprised me a bit.
You can see the strong elastic in the girth vs. the
lighter elastic in the separate padded pieces.
The white thing is the tag with the girth measurement that I couldn't get out of the picture
I know it's odd that Katai needs a 22" girth as a 13.2 hand pony but because of where her elbows fit next to her very well sprung little rib cage if I use an 18" girth her elbows run right into the buckles with every stride and I can't get a girth short enough to not interfere that way. The other way to fix that is to get a longer girth. I had the 24" because of the short billets on my Heritage Monoflap but it is a bit long for this saddle and the ends of it run into her saddle pad. I played with different lengths and decided to order a 22" as I figured it would solve the length issue while still being long enough to avoid interfering with her elbows. Besides, with TSF's amazing customer service I figured I could always exchange it for a different size if needed.

The 22" is exactly the right length as it no longer runs into the saddle pad on either side but the buckles are far enough up on the sides to avoid Katai's elbows.


This was before I tightened it. It ended up going up to the 5th hole where it was
further away from her elbows but I didn't think to get a picture of that.
18" original in havana, my first TSF
22" Stretchtec girth in black

24" original girth in havana
22" Stretchtec girth in black

I've ridden Katai in it twice now and haven't really felt a difference but with this pony that's a good thing. She's never really been girthy and I knew that if she disliked it, or even felt like it was different, she'd buck going into the canter or would just refuse to canter completely. I was happy to find that her canter transition felt that same that it has recently.

I'm really curious to see if over the next few rides she feels any different but at this point I'm really happy with it! I was going to wait longer to review it but I figured that if it goes well (which I'm sure it will) it will likely end up in one of my favorite things posts in a few months.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Good Ladybug

Edit: I wrote this before I was in the accident but I wanted to thank all of you for your comments. It means a lot :) I was extremely sore yesterday and actually went to the hospital. They told me I had whiplash and gave me some pain meds and told me to take it easy for a few days. I dodged not being able to ride but we had a snow storm yesterday and today so I won't be going to the barn. Tomorrow the high is -9* so we'll see if I go out then. Luckily next week is still forecast to be in the 20s and 30s so I'll be there every day!

First, to explain the title I always used to call female horses Lady. Not as in the name but the way you might say "Hey ladies!" to your friends. With Katai, since she's my adorable little bug it turned into Ladybug :)

The adorable little bug herself
Second, I just want to say that Katai is a good girl. The reason that I don't talk about her spooking, bucking, leaping, bolting, kicking, biting, etc is that she just doesn't. Especially after working with Jane, she just doesn't do anything other than get a bit tense, rush a bit, trot sideways a bit, or possibly giraffe for a stride or two and that's more confusion or when she's feeling a little stiff than an actual "no" response.
You can just feel the pre-ride excitement 
As an adult amateur who personally doesn't have the guts to deal with a big powerful horse that  doesn't always want to play this is absolutely perfect for me. It's the most amazing feeling to go to the barn and know that one way or another we're going to have a productive ride. Of course sometimes I feel better about rides than others and I'm consistently on the struggle bus with figuring out all of these new skills that Jane is patiently trying to teach. However, Katai has been right along for the ride which makes the struggle bus a much less lonely place.

P is for Pony and also Perfect and Princess ;)
She's still a horse and sometimes she still decides to blow me off. Sometimes when it's chilly out and you're a pony and your feet have grown wings and you're stretchy trotting so your rider has less half halting ability it's a lot more fun to go fast than to listen. I wasn't asking for much, just that she slightly slow down based on my escalated seat cues but slowing my posting wasn't working, using my seat wasn't working, picking up my reins wasn't working so I went to pulling on my reins and to be frank, it took a pretty big pull to make a difference. I HATE pulling on her mouth but a "trotting" away pony needs to listen at some point and I'd given her almost too long (more than half of the arena) to make a change.

We're riding at 3* like a badass
After I corrected her we walked for a bit, did a transition to trot (which was beautiful :-) and then I asked her for stretchy trot again. Going down the long side again her feet grew little wings and we were nearly cantering. I started with my posting, then my seat, and finally barely picked up the reins and this time she immediately slowed her trot. What I was really happy about was that there was no over reacting and she stayed stretched down into contact. I ended on that because we were already at the end of a great ride but it's being added to our homework for the next few weeks.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

On Pause

So, I was all set to write about my rides on Monday and last night and get it posted today but then this happened on my way to work this morning.



Unlike the conga line that SprinklerBandits was in I was the middle car. I hit the car ahead of me when I put my foot on the brakes and nothing happened. It was so slick that I might as well have been  in a skating rink and it was a good thump but not horrible impact but then the car behind me slammed into me with enough force to push me past the car in front of me and sideways so that it looked like the car I hit T-boned me.

It was a typical MN car accident with all three people involved apologizing and being sweet and caring about it. The cop also had a great sense of humor and when he almost wiped out on the slippery spot, as he was picking up pieces of my car, he looked right at me, pointed at the spot, and with a straight face said "It's kind of slippery right there". It made me crack up anyway.

Unfortunately my roommate and I both think they may total my car. I just got it about a year ago and it's a newer model with very few miles so it really sucks. Plus I love it. The good thing is that it kept me safe. I'm slightly sore but not too bad, I hurt more after trying to trailer load Katai actually...

Black ice sucks. 



Monday, December 12, 2016

Baby It's Really F'ing Cold Outside

So, after my last post on how motivated I'm feeling I was all excited to ride every day this weekend. I took Monday off, to celebrate my birthday, and was looking forward to a good three rides in a row. Then I woke up on Saturday, put on my riding clothes, looked at my watch and realized that it was 2* out. I looked at the forecast and the high was around 6* with a windchill of -2* all day.

I just about cried. I could probably suck it up, put on my warmest clothes, and with the help of the "hopefully" heated arena I could possibly stay warm enough during my ride haha. However, I just don't think it's fair to Katai to ask her to work in the cold like that. It's not easy on tendons and ligaments or her respiratory system. At the very least since this was our very first really cold day and it was a major drop from the 30s that we were getting just about a week ago I felt like I really needed to at least give her some time to adjust. Then at the very least I could just do a lot of walking. In the end I stayed home and made myself a vegan birthday feast instead.

I was excited because Sunday had a forecast high of 23* so I figured I'd ride then. There was some snow forecast but the weathermen rarely get that right so I figured I'd be ok. However, We ended up getting at least 6" and since it was still quite cold (it never made it up to 23*) the chemicals they put on the road weren't working very well and it was extremely slippery. I made a trip to Target in the afternoon and felt like I was taking a risk with my life. I love my tiny, itty bitty car, until we get weather like this. So, I stayed home. The snow finally stopped around 9:00pm and after shoveling our driveway at least 3-4 times we still ended up with more snow overnight.

This was part way through the day, we ended up with at least another inch.
At least it's pretty!
Then, I was all excited to ride on Monday, my day off. It had been forecast to be 18* (remember that thing about the weathermen always being wrong?) but it was 3* when I woke up and the high today is still in the single digits with a wind chill around 2* as a high. Plus we're supposed to get more snow later.

Even for MN this is usually cold and snowy which is what the Farmer's Almanac told us it would be like this year. I honestly don't quite know what I'll do if the whole winter is like this and since historically January and February are our really cold months I'm really starting to wonder how much worse it will get.
This was last year on my birthday.
Not a bit of snow and I'm wearing a sweatshirt
I am still planning to head to the barn this afternoon as long as the snow doesn't start until the late afternoon/evening like they're forecasting (remember that thing about weathermen) but I likely will stick to walk and possibly a little trot depending on how stiff she is and how warm the arena is.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

A Kick in The Pants

Winter is always tough on my motivation. The seasonal change is the worst but the depression and headaches that always gives me seems to be over this year which is amazing. The winter is just tough because of the dark and cold.

At my previous barn it wasn't so bad since it was kept much warmer, closer to 50-60* so as soon as I got to the barn I was comfy and could wear just a light jacket. This barn is much chillier and probably kept closer to 32* just so it doesn't freeze. Certainly not complaining but as a huge freeze baby I have to admit that it's been tougher to make myself go to the barn this year.

Especially when we have weeks like this in early December
I've still been to the barn 3-4 days a week but I'm still aiming for 5 so that's a big difference. However on Tuesday H was able to make it to my lesson and it was an interesting evening that somehow left me feeling more motivated.

To start this off I want to preface by saying that I love H. She's been a friend since I was in my teens and she's really a good person. I really enjoy spending time with her especially since both of us are into dressage ponies so we have a lot to talk about. The thing is though, that she brings out all of my insecurities. That's not her fault but mine for letting who she is get into my head. 

H is really a triple threat, she's gorgeous, petit, a beautiful rider, and (the toughest for me to deal with) she rides at an absolutely amazing barn with an absolutely amazing instructor where she regularly gets the opportunity to bop around on a 4 year old Gold Premium filly, a schoolmaster(ish) level horse, and ride with clinicians like Janet Foy.

It's not the fact that I feel insecure around her because I really don't and we both have our own strengths. It's more that I'm jealous of her opportunities. Even as a kid she had a well trained pony, good instruction, and a trailer when I had a green broke and naughty horse that had only been on trail rides, no good instruction, and no trailer so no way to show or take lessons since there weren't any trainers nearby that had lesson horses. Every time I'm around her it's tough for me not to wish I had had the same opportunities in the past and that I could have the same opportunities now since I still don't have a trailer or a trainer who regularly shows throughout our region.

Don't get me wrong. At this point I would never trade and lesson with her instructor (who's a well known dressage judge) instead of Jane. He is amazing but I am at exactly the right place for me and Katai right now and  I wouldn't move even if I could. It's just tough every time I see or hear about her scribing and/or showing at large rated dressage shows and talking about all of the quirky show things or partying with our regions top riders after the show.

This time was especially difficult on me because her instructor, who's also a well respected breeder (as you can tell since he has a 4 year old Gold Premium filly that I believe he produced), has recently purchased no fewer than SIX GRPs. Two are older (3 and 6 I believe), four of them are just babies, and H will have the chance to play with, help break, train, and ride all of those gorgeous ponies. 

One of them in particular hurts because she's a Golden State baby (from the same barn/lines(?) as Forest Nymph) who I was drooling over for weeks before I heard she went to H's trainer. Of course I'm glad she's in such a good home and excited to meet her at some point but it still stings a bit. The fact that H was talking about all the ways that her trainer thinks this pony might be lacking for upper level dressage (obviously extremely nit-picky things since he has a Gold Premium baby) made it sting more especially since I have an amazing but free pony, with no specific breeding, no traceable bloodlines, and not even close to "fancy" movement. Insecurities talking again of course since I CERTAINLY wouldn't trade Katai even if the pony were offered to me tomorrow for free. Katai is amazing, she's my girl and my partner and she's really what I want.


Galaxie from Pics Of You Videos on Vimeo.

In the end, after already feeling like H had been a bit condescending about my ride during my lesson (those damn insecurities talking again) I had an emotional drive home. I was completely aware of how silly I'm being. I mean talk about a bunch of first world problems! I have a pony I adore, a trainer I love, and a barn that felt like home the moment I walked through the door and here I'm disappointed that I'm not at a show barn and don't have a 5 figure GRP. Even I know it's funny, it's the fact that H has all of that and she's about 6 years younger than me that leaves me feeling like all the air got knocked out of me.

I processed the whole way home coming up with all of the above conclusions and finally, about 10 minutes from home realized that action is the best thing. Instead of feeling jealous or less motivated I need to just get my butt to the barn, work extremely hard and make opportunities for myself. I need to stop allowing myself to run out of motivation and go to the barn 3-4 days a week and just go and ride my pony! I need to start working out again so that I have the strength to give her a good ride (I died a bit at my lesson on Tuesday which didn't help), and I need to make getting a trailer this year a priority. This isn't about saving up and getting a fancy pony for me (even though I want(ed) Galaxy so badly that it hurts), it's really about wanting more opportunities. Not to win, but at least to get out there and show and to continue to climb up the levels and that's something I just need to work for.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

ASSFS Blog Hop: Location, location, location

I've been fascinated as I'm reading the blogs on this blog hop and decided that I needed to blog this one. What an amazing idea from Sara!

I'm located in St. Paul, MN and Katai is boarded at a barn that's about half an hour north of downtown.
From Rock the Garden this year
I've grown up in MN and lived here my whole life so although I grew up on a farm more than an hour north of the Twin Cities I'm very familiar with the MN horse community. As far as costs it's not bad. I actually think that based on some of the other blogs on this hop our board seems a little pricy in comparison to hay/farrier/vet prices but because it gets so cold here most of the "nice" boarding barns have heated indoor arenas and need to feed a lot of hay and grain to keep weight on horses along with more limited turnout in the middle of winter which means more shavings so I guess it makes sense.

Previous barn but it's a pretty picture
Trim-$35-$50
Shoes-$120+ for all four, the farrier I use would charge $80 for the fronts and $120 for all four
Average cost of a month of full time training- $500-$700 not including board
Average monthly pasture board- $250-$400
Average monthly stall board- $400-$1200 (I pay $350)
Round bale, mixed grass- $30-$60
Square bales, orchard grass- $3.75-$7.00 per bale

Yep, that road is actually glare ice
Weather: Is not good. In the winter we routinely, from about December - March, have sub zero temps. During January and February we can have a wind chills as low as -30* on the regular. Fall and spring are often rainy and stormy and we do get tornados although they are rare (very glad we don't need to deal with more of the big nasty storms). The summers are muggy and still get quite hot. In a normal summer we'll get above 100 for a week or two. Nothing compared to more southern climates but the jump between winter and summer is so large that you never really get a chance to get used to the heat. Plus the humidity makes it dangerous much more quickly than a more dry heat. We can't ride when it's above the mid to upper 80s, for the most part, because of this.

Most horses do pretty well in the cold especially with stalls overnight and smart blanketing. Mostly it's just miserable to get in your car in the dark, after work when it's -10*, drive the half hour to the barn, get groomed, tacked up and ready to ride in the heated barn (heated to 35-40*) and then ride in a heated arena (usually heated to 20-30*). It certainly makes motivation tough when you're basically operating in a freezer for 3 or so hours.

Twins Baseball Stadium from this summer
We don't have any really icky bugs or wildlife. There are rattlesnakes in places but they're rare. Near the barn there are black bears, wolves, coyotes etc but not much that's dangerous to the horses.

The riding demographic is primarily western, as reflected by our horse expo and most big horse shows. With that being said the twin cities has a decent dressage community as well as a eventing and hunter/jumper community. I'm more involved in the dressage community so it seems like more people do dressage than jumping but that might just be based on my slightly skewed perspective.
Large, fancy eventing facility complete with RV
We have several well attended rated shows in the twin cities area and also most people trailer to Mason City Iowa for the rated shows they hold there. We have some fairly big name clinicians that visit such as Janet Foy, and Jen Truett and I'm sure I'm missing some others as well. Our shows are usually well attended but we have a lack of true upper level riders. At most shows I've been to, everyone gathers to watch the 1-2 people showing above 3rd. The bigger rated shows are more well attended but even then, there really aren't many people at 3rd or above.

We have excellent vet care. There are three big vet clinics in the twin cities including the UofM vet clinic which is able to provide many diagnostic and emergency services. We also have several well known smaller clinics and vets that are very horse savvy.

We also have some great tack stores especially compared to some of the states that I've visited. One of my favorites is right near my barn and the other is near H's barn so I make the trek over there when  I want more shopping opportunities.

So much snow!
The most frustrating thing for me is the weather/bugs. In the summer between the sudden intense humid heat waves, horrible mosquitoes/horseflies, rain, storms, etc. it's tough to enjoy riding outside very much of the time. There are brief times in spring and fall when it's nice but otherwise it's tough.

I also wish that english riding styles were more well represented. It's frustrating to go to our horse expo and find maybe 1-2 booths out of over around 100 that actually have nice english type gear or to find more presenters/clinicians that cover english disciplines.

Other than that I like it here! I would say that since I don't deal with the heat well and there isn't such a thing as an air conditioned arena, I'd rather be someplace cold with heated arenas than someplace much further south.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Lesson Recaps

Katai has been perfecting her judgmental expression
Since I haven't posted in awhile but still want to sort of track what I'm learning I thought I'd post a few of the themes that we've been working on and then dig into the specifics as needed later.

Position:

Sit back! Shoulders back but mainly belly button back. I have a fair amount of forward curvature to my spine from my hips to my rib cage so I need to focus on pulling my belly button back and straighten my back more so I can really sit on my seat bones.

I need to carry my hands more forward in front of me. I also need to focus on holding (as needed) with my right hand and releasing (when appropriate) with my left hand since that's opposite what they want to do. I also found out that I also carry my left hand out, off the neck and my right hand against the neck but not enough for correct bend to the left (needs more) and opposite what I should be doing for the correct bend to the right. To correct this (since Katai is white) Jane wants me to think about getting white paint on the hand that's on the outside and keeping the inside hand clean.

I also tend to open my fingers when I want to give forward rather than giving from my elbows.

We've also found that I grip with the back of my calf on my right leg when I use my leg and need to use the inside of my leg instead and keep my toe pointed forward. I've been working on strengthening those muscles so that it's easier. Currently I'm too tired to continue to do this correctly through my entire lesson.

I've always known that I have a tough time sinking my weight through my left stirrup. We've discovered that I'm not weighting my left seat bone equally with the right. This causes me to drop my shoulder when turning/bending Katai to the right since I'm uncomfortable sinking my weight into that seat bone.

Trail walk on a nice sunny day

Movements:

We've added lengthenings and I need to focus on pushing without quickening my posting tempo as well as giving forward from my elbows slightly.

We've also started doing some sitting trot. The main focus here has been on my position (above) and on controlling the bounce to control the temp and "bouncing" straight up and down instead of forward and back.

I'm really excited that we've added shoulder in and that we're doing it at the sitting trot! I mainly can feel this one (it's way easier for me than leg yield) but I need to focus on my position and shoulder vs hip angle. I also need to use my outside rein correctly to keep her moving forward and not let her get the angle too steep. Mainly though I need to sit back and keep my weight on my seat bones.

Canter is still coming along. I haven't been riding enough canter so when I get to my lesson we both get tired out pretty quickly. I mainly need to work on strength so that we can start to do more fun things than 20 meter circles and straight around the track of the arena. My seat continues to get better here and when she's not too tired her transitions from trot and tempo are really good.

First snow this year!

Partnership:

I've seriously learned so much about me and Katai and how we should function as a team from Jane since I've been working with her :) I made an offhand comment about how even though she could be sassy, I loved how steady and un-spookable she was during a ride where the snow was falling off the arena roof. Jane quickly pointed out that she doesn't actually think Katai is sassy. Just that she's a high achiever and when she's confused she lets us know and really wants to get it right. It's crazy how altering my thoughts about Katai and helping me think about her behavior in a different light completely changes how we interact.

I'm continuing to chew on some of this and alter my interactions with her. It's also weird to switch from her being a "baby" horse that doesn't know anything with me as the expert to a true partnership. I'm getting there for the most part but sometimes it's still tough to process.

Me:

I've been feeling a bit better. As the seasonal change has quieted down a bit and I've been more diligent about paying attention to how much vitamin D I'm getting it's been better. I also moved! I'm not sure if I'd previously mentioned this but my grandma moved to an apartment closer to my parents and they offered me a really amazingly low rate of rent to stay at her house and keep an eye on things. It's about 10 minutes closer to the barn and the exact same distance from work plus it's in a nicer neighborhood and I only have one roommate. I think the change in scenery is helping a bit as well. At any rate, it's certainly not hurting.


I'm also participating in the Equestrian Blogger Gift Exchange this year which is really exciting! I've been doing some sleuthing and ordered a couple of things during Black Friday. I'm looking forward to sending it out!

Unfortunately I'm still not feeling 100% and have been having a really tough time staying motivated to ride or blog or do much of anything really. Work is also going to be getting really busy over the next couple of months complete with a couple more trips to WA so I'm still not sure exactly how much I'll be able to post. I'm going to try to have more posts in December but I'll see how things go over the next few weeks.