Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Blog Hop: Show Gear Goals

I've enjoyed reading the show gear blog posts that have been shared so far and since this is the first year that I really showed (if you can count one schooling show and two shows doing opportunity classes as "really" showing haha) so I thought it might be fun to post on what I have that's working or not working.

What I Have That I LOVE:

  • Most of Katai's tack including;
    • Saddle - Prestige Lucky
    • Bridle - PS of Sweden Flying Change
    • Girth - TSF StretchTec in black 22"
    • Reins - Cheap flat Horze black leather reins
    • Browband - for shows I use the plain black broadband that came with the bridle
    • Stirrup Irons - plain medal irons that I bought cheap ($5!!) second hand
  • Most of my outfit including;
    • Breeches - Full seat white B Vertigo from Horze
    • Show shirt - from EGO7 in grey
    • Jacket - Equiline navy blue  bought second hand from Amanda at $900Facebook Pony)
    • Stock Pin - gifted from a friend
    • Stock Tie - from Etsy with little polka dots :)
    • Helmet - OneK in black matte
    • Gloves - Roeckl gloves in black with white binding

What I Have That Should Be Replaced:

  • Brown stirrup leathers - not a big deal since they're really dark leather but I'd really like to get a black pair to match my saddle
  • Neue Schule bit - I want the same exact one (4.5" Eggbutt pony performance bit), it just needs to be replaced since it's getting chewed up

Things I Plan to Upgrade or Upgraded Since The Last Show:

  • Saddle Pad - I don't love the black saddle pad I have (especially with the little crown logo on it) and really didn't like the white one so I've got a grey Mattes pad on the way :)
  • Hairnet/bun holder thing - I have a ton of hair and it went all over the place at my last show. I already ordered a net so that I can put it in a bun and keep it all in place.
  • Boots - Big expensive item so I'm not sure when this will happen but I would like to get dress boots here at some point
  • Gloves - At some point I'll upgrade to white gloves, still Roeckl since they're all I can stand to ride in
That's it for now! At some point I'll likely get another jacket since it's getting slightly loose on me and of course I'd like to pick up another show shirt and another pair of white breeches but with how seldom I showed this year it just seems unnecessary at this point. I'm going to guess that I'll also need spurs at some point but they certainly wouldn't be helpful right now.
Or I could get boring cheaper boots for
showing and fun boots for schooling!!!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Back On Track: Lesson Recap 8/15

Back on track from a lesson schedule perspective, way ahead of where I thought we'd be at this point.

Hopefully I can get better media soon!
I've never been one to think that taking more than one lesson per week would be helpful for me. I like to work on things between lessons and I enjoy time to get my "homework" done. I'm also a really independent person so I enjoy that time that I can work on my own. However, after just having 4 lessons in 10 days I can certainly say that we made more progress than we would have in that time otherwise.

This lesson was already pushing the boundaries and taking a step towards developing a second level balance. We worked on half halts, and "making the bend happen" rather than spending the entire lesson developing the appropriate bend. We also practiced our trot/canter transitions and getting the same quality of trot before and after the transition, did a few SI in each direction, stretchy trot circles, serpentines, and lots more sitting trot while asking for push from behind.

Not sure if I shared this yet or not. Katai doesn't think her
ears can go forward with her bonnet on. Poor pony, so tortured
We're definitely a work in progress (of course) but Katai really stepped up to what we were asking of her. She got tight a few times and definitely had more moments where she said no or questioned what we were asking than she has had but overall she was really fantastic. Plus those moments were few and far between and were just her locking up at the wither rather than rearing or flailing which is huge progress.

The canter trot transitions are what I'm happiest with. Of course fundamentally dressage is about making the horse more rideable and those moments where Katai has the skills and knowledge to do what I'm asking, when I'm asking, in the way I'm asking without any flailing are the moments I LOVE. The canter transitions are starting to really get there. I can sit down and ask and she just goes into canter, no muss no fuss. It's not always brilliant but it is soft and rideable which is also HUGE progress for both of us.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The S Word: Lesson Recap 8/13

First, no we're not talking about sex.

Second, yes I totally did fall off the face of the planet for a few days. Namely so that I could binge watch a few tv shows (OMG I'm loving the second season of Quantico!!!) and spend LOTS of time listening to Bon Iver's new album which I'm unusually addicted to. Which is saying something because I'm already very addicted to Bon Iver.

Third, if you're counting I have had a bunch of lessons over the past week or so. I pay for lessons with Jane as part of my board and she's amazingly generous about rescheduling even when it's on me that I couldn't make my lesson in the first place. Because of that I had a lesson last weekend, last Tuesday, this Sunday, and I'll have another lesson tomorrow on Tuesday. Then we should be back on track.
Wishing her rider would just stop with the pictures already
This lesson Jane wanted to have me run through a couple of tests. She was using an old test book so it wasn't accurate to what we'll be doing but similar movements and it was good for me and Katai to have to think on our feet and just follow her directions without much prep. I'll be memorizing the tests I will be riding (Training 2 and First 1) over the next week or so and then we'll be able to practice those instead.

First we did First level test 1. Honestly, it felt a bit easy. At home, of course, we're schooling much more complex things so riding through the test felt simple. The toughest thing is still the center line and Katai is so wiggly that she wants to throw her haunches left in the worst way possible at the halt.
Literally this...
She's also not a fan of me picking up contact in the walk but overall it wasn't too tough. Then Jane read another test and I found out after that it was First test 2 which apparently was a dreaded test before they changed it. It did feel like things were coming up fast and the lengthening in the canter for half the long side down to trot right after felt tricky. It happened though, just not as smoothly as I'd like. However, we aren't doing that test so something to worry about for next year haha.

We had done quite a bit of warming up with lots of bendy work to start so after the second test we called it a day. At that point Jane and I spent a lot of time talking. We discussed how amazing it is that we've come as far as we have in such a short time and how much fun we're having working with each other. Then Jane said that our project for the winter is working on second level!!!

Blurry but proof that pony really
enjoys black licorice after our rides :)
Of course that's the next step, it's just that this will be our first show at First so I honestly wouldn't have been too surprised if the plan had been to work on firming up First over the winter and just dabbling at 2nd. The fact that Jane want's to start prepping us to show Second next year (even if it's towards the end of the show season) is so freaking exciting to me!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Oh Gingersnap! Blog Hop: Change

I was going to blog about my lesson yesterday but honestly it's pretty boring to blog about. K, my fellow boarder's, horse was having a bad day so she was riding Jane's baby horse that evening which meant that we had a slightly different lesson than is typical. I was actually appreciative since my brain felt like mush and the relatively easy (mental) work was good for both of us. Especially since we just did a LOT of bending and stretching which was really good for Katai after two weeks off.

Anyway, on to the blog hop.

I LOVE this picture!

T asks: Have you at some point moved on to a different horse, trainer, stable, etc with the purpose of advancing your progress? What made you realize the time was right for a change? Or did you opt to adjust your goals in order to stay with what you know is working? How did either choice work out in the long run?

For me the short answer is yes, I've sort of done both. The last time I really needed to make this decision with a horse was with Loki. 

Loki was pretty much the perfect horse. He was a 15.2 hand percheron/arab cross gelding that was probably around 5-6 when I got him and around 14-15 when I eventually sold him. However, for pretty much that entire time we disliked each other. He was a good boy and I tried to make him happy and was really sweet to him but we just never were a good match. 

I was probably 19 or so here
Eventually I ended up selling him to a beginning rider who he was perfect for. I wished that I'd made the decision sooner and now I feel very strongly about having a horse that I really love and connect with as my primary mount. This was based on just never really connecting with him though and not on whether or not I could continue to make progress with him as he was certainly talented enough for me to have made progress on at the time.

There used to be so much sass with this one!
I've also made the decision to change programs (a couple of times). I'd say that the majority of the first couple years with this blog were trying to decide if Katai was the right horse for me or if changing trainers/programs was what I needed to do. Of course you all know where I've ended up now.

How at least 90% of my rides used to look
In this case, with Katai, it was the program (and having one that put the focus on me) that made the difference. J and L were honestly both top notch trainers. J has her gold medal and is a USDF certified instructor with some very successful students. Just because I don't like her methods doesn't mean that she doesn't get results. 

Too bad I don't have more of these pictures because this was Katai's way of going all. the. time. before
Or, of course, she'd just stop and rear or run sideways. Oh boy was that ever fun...
L is also a great instructor and gave Katai and I a great base to work with as well as taking Katai from pretty much unridable to just unreliable. However, I didn't actually start having fun and making progress until I found Jane who, arguably, is the least well known instructor that I've ridden with. 

and she's going even better now!
I'm also a HUGE proponent of owning a horse that you really enjoy because we just spend way too much time and money in this sport for that to not be the case. However, I never really struggled to connect with Katai it was just that she seemed like such a work in progress that I couldn't really see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I would say that these moves and or change in horses were never made specifically so that I could make progress up the levels but were more so that I could have more fun or connect to the horse I was riding. Early on with Katai I also let my doubt nearly get the best of me a few times (it didn't help that J flat out told me that Katai wouldn't ever be worth anything) and really had myself convinced that Katai was going to fail at dressage. However, with some more patience, more work on my position, more consistent riding schedule, more strength for Katai, and a different mindset now that's no longer a concern for me. Of course this is helped by the fact that I don't have lofty competitive goals and don't participate in a sport where a certain level of athleticism is required just to participate at the beginning levels.

I guess I'm not advocating that anyone keep a horse that they aren't enjoying or that isn't meeting their goals. Just sharing that sometimes that journey can take a little longer or be a little bumpier than others.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Upward Trends and Downward Spirals

Recently I've really noticed how some of the things I used to spend a lot of time on are swapping with some of the things I didn't spend as much time on. I just thought it was sort of interesting but if this is boring feel free to skip!

Upward Trends:

Who else thinks that most clipart is funny
  • Riding: It's crazy how a year ago I was averaging 3-4 trips to the barn a week and now I'm at 4-6. Prior to a year ago I was likely averaging closer to 2-3 trips to the barn a week which seems insane to me now!
  • Grooming: I'll admit that when I was growing up with horses I didn't even pick hooves most of the time (unless we'd just ridden on our gravel road) and typically I probably brushed the dirt off under the saddle and girth. Even as recently as a year ago with Katai I wasn't doing much for grooming and was typically just using a stiff brush to get the dirt off. Now I'm using multiple brushes each time I work with her and brushing every part of her body. I also do more with her mane and tail than I used to.
  • Bathing: Sort of in the same bucket as grooming but I'll call this one out separately since it's a bit more work. I can probably count on one hand the number of times that I'd bathed Katai up until this year. Now she's already gotten a few bathes this year and I'm planning at least 1-2 more this month to get her ready for the show. 

Downward Spirals:

For example, who thought of this?
  • Shopping: Not that I'm not shopping but I used to spend a decent amount of time admiring things like saddle pads, bridles, halters, polo wraps (things I didn't really need), etc online or shopping at tack shops and now I spending more of that time riding. I think it's a combination of now owning things I really love (so not feeling like I need to shop) and actually spending more of my time riding.
  • Cleaning Tack: Again, now that I'm riding more I'm just not feeling like I need to fill my time cleaning tack or doing other horse related things to feel fulfilled :)
  • Lunging: I was lunging or grooming for at least 1-2 of my trips to the barn before. Now because I'm more effective riding I ride for most of my trips to the barn. This wouldn't necessarily be the "right" answer for most horses but because Katai can get so locked up through her back it's way more effective for me to ride most of the time.
Overall I feel like because I'm actually riding more and feeling like we're making progress I'm feeling less need to fill my time doing other misc things. I think that those things used to help me feel like a rider when I wasn't actually making progress with my riding. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Steady: Lesson Recap 8/6

As a princess it's important to admire oneself in the mirror
This amazing princess pony is so perfect for me and my lifestyle that I don't quite know how I got so lucky. Of course it's not just because Katai is amazing, I'll owe Jane for the rest of my life for making the changes she has in my riding.

Sure Katai may have matured and maybe other things changed in her lifestyle that helped but whatever I was doing with my riding before wasn't working and was leading to at least one blow up per ride. Most rides we couldn't even consistently trot nicely on a 20 meter circle. Then Jane comes along and this pony becomes steady, happy, relaxed, consistent, and starts to love her job so clearly Jane made huge improvements in me, my riding and, of course, my mindset.

On Saturday for my first ride back I didn't push Katai much. As mentioned in a previous post we did lots of stretchy relaxed work and I was impressed especially since it had been 2 weeks since I'd ridden and the temperature had majorly dropped.

Sometimes dealing with the paparazzi gets old though
On Sunday though I had a make up lesson and I still sort of expected that she might have a minor tantrum since it was her second ride in a row, we were going to push more, and the temperature was still quite cool. I needn't have been worried since she was relaxed and happy and everything felt easy.  We still did keep it pretty easy, took lots of walk breaks, and just focused on rhythm, relaxation, and bending. We pushed more at the canter and leg yield than anywhere else but didn't get even a minor pony melt down.

Jane complimented me on Katai's nice steady rhythm right from the start (something we've both majorly struggled with) and I was also really happy with her especially with the long break.

Not a bad confirmation shot.
Also she's sort of glowing blue, should I be worried about Grues in the arena?
Katai was very wiggly, didn't really want to give when trying to bend to the left, and I lost a lot of strength in my core so my seat at the canter needs some work but overall things were amazingly good.

Sunday, August 6, 2017


I've spoken before about how travel (especially for work) really puts things in perspective and this last trip especially. I think it was both because of the length of time and the way that this trip went that made it feel that way.

It's so good to be back and so amazing to have all my things even the small things like my preprogramed car radio stations, or the foods I like, or my favorite vegan ice cream (Ben and Jerry's!!!). Living out of a small carry-on roller bag for two weeks was tough...

Not sure who this is but he seems like a cool dude
Mainly it's the big things. I missed my Veggie dog sooooo much and I can't even express how great it was to see Katai again. Having the freedom to go to the barn when I want to is fantastic and I'm really looking forward to continuing boot camp with Katai for the next few weeks in preparation for our show on the 26th.

However, it was also the trip to OR that really helped. I had whined mentioned earlier this year that I was wanting to move someplace else more permanently. I've been firming up my plans over the past few months and right now my goal is to start applying for jobs in different cities, to take the next step in my career, in the next 2-3 years. The problem was that I didn't know where I most wanted to go.

After all, who wouldn't want to live near this
Portland has been at the absolute top of my list since I was 18 but I'd never actually been there. I'd been along the coast of OR with my mom the summer before I started college but never to Portland. It was that trip and many of the things I'd heard about Portland that interested me in living there. Recently though I've heard more things that made me not want to necessarily settle on that as my top option and of course I wanted to visit it before I decided for sure. I was disappointed when that trip fell off the table earlier this year and thrilled when it became an option again with this work trip.

Now that I've had a chance to visit it's not at the top of my list anymore. Not that it wasn't an amazing visit, it's just that in the meantime I've fallen in love with a different place that I never expected. I'm honestly sort of relived and happy that I can move that place to the top of my list. I'm still going to apply for jobs in a few different cities/locations but I know where I'm going to focus my applications now. Of course things could still change in the next couple of years but for not it's nice to have an outline of a plan.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

July Goals Recap and August Goals

More Katai pictures soon but for now Lake Union will have to do
I wanted to share a bit about how amazingly wonderful it is to be back but I'm not sure it's enough for it's own post at this point so I decided to add it here. I got back Friday evening after the most horrible plane ride I've had. We got stuck on the runway on the way to Minneapolis and for about 20 minutes the child directly in front of me SCREAMED as loud as it could. The parents were doing everything they could but it just wasn't helping. I was already anxious and really stressed out for some reason and was getting a stress migraine so the screaming put me over the edge.

Somehow I made it through the flight and the very slow Uber ride home in Friday rush hour traffic but pretty much just made it to the couch and crashed, sort of wishing I could die, for the rest of the evening.

Morning rowing practice
Luckily I feel completely better today and was able to wake up early, drive the 3 hour round trip to pick up Veggie from my parents and then make it the 1 hour round trip to the barn to ride. Funnily enough that means I spent more time in the car today than I did driving from Seattle to Portland.

Katai was great, if full of energy and VERY wiggly to ride, and I feel like my body sort of remembers what to do after two weeks off.

I do think the vacation was really good for Katai who was calm and happy the entire time and really tried to be a good girl despite having extra energy early on and then wanting to quite after about 20 minutes haha. I ADORE this pony (if you can't tell) and she's so perfect for me. After two weeks without any rides and a major drop in the temperature (it was in the 60s when I rode today) she was foot perfect, stood quietly in the cross ties, and was basically just a perfect princess pony.

This AirBnB was adorably decorated with a travel theme.
Bonus points if you can id the movie ;)
She did gain a bit of padding but nowhere as bad as I thought it might be. We just did lots of nice forward trot, some canter (which really felt good), a bit of leg yield, a very small amount of sitting trot, and much to her dismay lots of work at the medium walk.

It was so good to see her and I missed both her and Veggie so much!

Little tough to tell with the tinted glass but you can sort of
see the space needle from the office I borrowed for the week
plus the blurry skyline from the smoke

July Goals:

Ride Longer: Yep! Unless I had a really good reason I rode at least 30 minutes each ride with many rides being 40+ minutes. So much better than the 20-25 minute rides I was doing.

Continue Outdoor Rides: Yep! So much better than I've ever done with her in the past and our outdoor rides have been fun :) Jane even commented on the last outdoor ride I had (the week before I left for Seattle) how relaxed and happy Katai looked.

Practice, Practice, Practice (or Sitting Trot): Yep! Still struggling but it's getting better and I "get" it at least some of the time each ride. Those moments are still few and far between and I lose it quickly but it's getting there.

So hot for Seattle! I was there for both of the really hot days
but it was the smoke piece that was new to me

August Goals:

Continue to Ride Longer: I feel like this one will continue to be important. I'm not looking to necessarily increase the time for most of my rides just to do at least 45 minutes more often or tack a trail ride onto the end of a shorter arena ride to lengthen it but still provide some variety.

Continue to Practice the Tough Things: More sitting trot and anything/everything I struggle with or that Katai struggles with. It's always been tough for me not to take these things personally/emotionally but after watching the video below (for some reason) I've been able to practice something without drilling but still enforce correct vs. just accepting what's not and moving on. Scott Brash is just so relaxed, calm, and no nonsense about trying it again with his horse in this video that I feel like I understand how simple it can be. It's obviously important that Katai know what the right answer is so this is a big one this month especially with transitions and picking up the contact at the walk.

Have a Successful Show: Successful for me will mean that Katai is more relaxed and rideable at this show than she was at the last. I'd like for her not to have any meltdowns but mostly I just want to finish feeling like I rode to the best of my ability. We've got all the movements down for each test (although the 15 meter canter circles are still not as correct as they should be) so I really just want it to be fun and hopefully get decent scores because that's always a good goal :)

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Sunday Photo Share

I don't have too much to share beyond that I had an AMAZING time at the beach this morning and really enjoyed my meal at Native Foods. I was going to spend more time in Portland but the traffic even 30-40 minutes away from Portland was nuts and it was hot so I just didn't feel like driving into the city mainly just to eat lunch or dinner.

Instead I'll share the pictures that I took over the past few days!

Space needle from the Uber on the way to Pikes Place Market

Planning to go back tomorrow to get some produce!

Schilling cider bar in Fremont with a colleague, we had two flights and
ended up finishing everything except the hot pepper cider. It was spicy!!

This cider from Moonlight was our favorite.
Over 13% alcohol and sweet and toasty going down :)

Only at an AirBnB would you have
cherries waiting for you in an antique bowl
I passed Devonwood on the way to my AirBnB. I would have LOVED to have gone and checked it out but there were signs posted that it was private and I know they wouldn't appreciate me poking around. There was supposed to be a schooling show scheduled this weekend and I would have loved to have gone but it was canceled :(
I was hoping to see some horses but didn't. On the way
back to town I saw SOOO many trailers though!

Proposal rock

Had to get a picture of the mountain. Not a common sight for me!

I ended up having an interesting experience at Gallops. I walked in and said hi to the sales people and let them know I was just shopping, when they asked, all said with a smile. I grabbed a bunch of stuff to try and asked about where I could find the fitting rooms. The woman who was working made a face and said "you must have not been here before?" Thinking she was just curious I smiled and laughed and said that no, I was from MN. She looked at me sideways, not teasing, and said "well everyone who rides seriously has been here before". I sort of laughed it off but it was awkward and seemed rude to me. Then as I was going to get more stuff to try she caught me and asked if I was moving to OR or just visiting. I said visiting, again with a smile on my face, and she just nodded at me and didn't say anything else.

Just so weird! I probably would have bought something (I still want a hot pink C4 Belt and they had one) but I just couldn't after how weird it got so I tried on a few more things and then left. Really cool place though and I'm sure that's not normal. Maybe my accent scared her off haha.
Nice saddle selection!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

What a Summer

Alternate title could be All the AirBnBs since I'll have stayed at 6-7 by the end of the year 4 of which are for this trip.

This has been a crazy year for me travel-wise. In the past going to Lexington for the Pony Cup and doing a couple of work trips (of one week or less) to WA were about all I did. This year that has not been the case.
Certainly can't argue about the accommodations
 First there were a couple of long work trips to Seattle early in the year. I went out in January and again in March for a week. Then I went to Omaha for World Cup which was amazing! After that, I ended up with another trip (this time stressful) to Seattle in June. I had a chance to recover from that and then got to travel to Lexington for Pony Cup again :)

And of course got to hang out with Jen and Connor!!! Photo credit: Jen's mom
I've known that I'd have a longer trip at the end of July for work (mildly stressful) but then that turned into a longer and more stressful trip that was going to be 8-9 days. However, plans changed and it's now going to be 12 days. Yikes...

Puget Sound outside my bedroom
I do get to go to Portland which is a trip that I'd previously wanted to do this year but decided not to do for financial reasons. However, work is paying for the hotel and since I can drive down there from Seattle I don't need to pay for a flight so I'll have 2-3 days in Portland this weekend (for the cost of a rental car) and then back to Seattle for the following week.

The day before I left I was feeling the stress and didn't want to get
into an argument with her so we just cuddled and played in the arena.
She did think I was unfair not getting her Starbucks
I'm also in Seattle long enough that I'm getting to do more exploring than I have in the past which is awesome but... I really miss my pony and I miss Veggie. I'm probably going to go slightly crazy between not being able to see them for 12 days. Not getting to ride means that I'll need to remember what I'm doing when I get back along with likely being sore. All of that with just about 3 weeks to prep for our show at the end of August.

Opportunities like this just don't come around that often and even though it's stressful it's fun to explore and get to spend more time on the west coast. I haven't seen the ocean since I was 18 and I'm SOOO excited to get to go back in a couple of days. I've also had Portland, or OR in general, on my list of places I'd like to live so it will be nice to get to spend more time there so that I can decide if it stays on my list.
Missing this nose soooo much right now
I do have two more trips planned this year. One at the end of August to Rochester, NY (can't wait to hang out with my sister and BIL and meet Bobby!!) and one more for work in October/November but hopefully that will be it. I'm also really hoping that next year there will be less travel. I'm really a homebody but I haven't been able to travel that much in the past and I don't think next year will have as many opportunities for travel so I'm going to enjoy this while I can and pray that I don't fall off or completely forget what I'm doing when I get to ride my pony again.

T minus 8 days and counting until I get to fly back home.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Proof Is In The Pudding

Pony Beast Mode Activated!!
She's fit and getting some muscles. Plus look at how uphill she's gotten!
It's so tough to get confirmation photos by myself since she doesn't want to stand still but today she stood herself up in the cross ties fairly well. I haven't been able to capture a picture of how much taller she's gotten in front/how her withers have come up but this represents it pretty well.

Unfortunately the angle still isn't good and she's standing pretty far under herself in front which isn't doing her shoulder any favors but still, not bad at all!

Worse angle but cuter since you can see her head
 Both Jane and I are so happy with her weight and now just want to make sure that she keeps getting enough groceries to keep putting muscle on. She's completely on alfalfa rather than grass hay right now and getting quite a bit of it to keep up with her workload. She's also on no grass, or no more than she can pick at in her small paddock and what she gets when I hand graze her. We may actually end up adding a bit more grain here at some point if we continue to increase her workload so that she can actually keep at least this much body condition.

It continues to amaze me how much the work we do with them effects their body.

She was so cresty and fat here!

Fall 2016 right before moving to Jane's barn.
Yes, there really has been that much of a change to her withers