Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Year in Review

Comparison thing I created in January
January

After recapping the past year and setting those apparently tough to meet goals I posted about my first work travel of the year and then was able to actually get video of my lesson!  I commissioned a drawing of Katai and tried out Vienna Reins for the first time.

February

February started with a sassy pony and then I talked about some of my blanketing strategies. I talked about motivation and how I was "tricking" myself into riding on the really cold icky nights. We went on to have a really great lesson, lose my new camera (after less than a month), and got one of my best purchases to date! 
This amazing wool quarter sheet!
March

In March I had another, long, work trip and then had sort of a tough lesson. I posted some GIFs of some of our struggles, started our trailer loading practice with lots of fireworks, and then recapped my first day at World Cup!!!

Photo from April
April

April was my busiest blogging month with 19 posts! I started the month with a couple of recaps of Wold Cup. Then I almost missed our spring vet visit, recapped another lesson, shared more of our tough trailer loading practice, shared my bad taste ;), and talked about Katai's hatred of dressage boots. I also recapped a good lesson, finally, and talked about the history of Katai's name and her new show name.

May

I started of May by asking for help with equestrian memberships in regards to showing. Thankfully I'll be able to put that to use this year!! Then I posted about a really great night at the barn, shared some more GIFs, posted again about the struggle of my work travel, posted about my show outfit plans, and finally recapped our first show of the year.

Back when I could ride in short sleeves
June

June started off with a recap of our first rated show and blue ribbons, which I'm still sort of shell shocked over. I then shared some show media, more show media, shared media of a ride outside, started posting a bit about my personal struggles with 2017 , bought a show pad and some items for the fight with flies, and set up new goals for the year.

I didn't recap these new goals officially but they were mostly all successful. It just seemed a bit like a cop out and many of them are more like monthly goals than yearly goals. At any rate, I'm looking forward to setting achievable goals for 2018 and looking forward to finishing up the rest of my 2017 recap in my next post!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017 Goals Recap

We do have some talent for square halts

Review of Goals for 2017

Increase Blogging Again

I'd like to set the goal to post an average of 15 times per month. If I can do that I'll have at least 180 posts next year and that would feel good!

Nope but for the first part of the year I was doing pretty well. I also hit my 500th post which was awesome! I was averaging 15 posts per month through August and really up until I ended up stuck on the West Coast for two weeks. After that my progress and motivation took a real hit and I ended up averaging around 12 posts for month for the year.

We're also good at trotting sometimes

Buy a Trailer

Trailer EVERYWHERE

Nope! As previously mentioned buying a trailer in 2017 was taken off the list pretty early in the year (February I think) so unfortunately neither of these came true. I did do quite a bit of trailer loading practice in Jane's trailer though! We were also getting pretty close to having Katai self load. In addition, she was very decent to load and unload to and from the second two shows we did.
Getting better at center lines too

Ride in Another Dressage Clinic

No :(, I feel like this one is the most painful. I tried at least 4-5 times to get into a Susanne Winslade clinic but the one I could have attended and new about in advance ended up filling up and the other ones just happened to occur during times when I was traveling. There are other clinicians that I could ride with but Jane prefers that I ride with Susanne and we're making enough progress with Jane that I don't have a great reason to push to ride with a bunch of different clinicians. In the future (next few years) I'd really like to ride with Janet Foy when she's in town and potentially Jennifer Truett who is in town pretty often. I feel like I'd rather be a bit more confirmed at 2nd to ride with either one just to get the most out of the experience even though I know I could learn a lot from either person right now.
Very good at posing

2nd Level Goals

I have complete confidence that even if our progress hits a huge wall we'll be able to ride all of the 2nd level movements by the end of the year. Not sure that showing 2nd this year is a doable goal but I'd like to be completing all the movements at home even if they aren't all pretty.

Hmmm, pretty sure I took this one off the list at some point to but for the sake of argument, we are maybe 85% on this one at least in being able to do the movements. However, we aren't even close to being able to do them with 2nd level movement and true collection.

However, I started setting monthly goals this year and I really liked it! I plan to do the same for 2018 to help break down my yearly goals into more manageable chunks and to help monitor my progress or lack thereof. Some of those goals went really well overall and I figured I'd list them here since I'm really a glass half full sort of person.

Also good at fancy prancing
More Trailer Loading Practice: We've got a long way to go but we did make a lot of progress and had a much better experience at the second two shows we did this year than we'd had previously.
Practice Other Show Skills: I feel like we looked way more put together at our last show this year than we have previously. I even managed to put in braids that stayed in for the full show (now I just need to learn to get them out better)!
Practice Lateral Work: I'm getting so much better at this and better at practicing things that are ugly in general. Our Leg Yield has gotten considerably better and our SI has also improved a TON. We can sort of do HI as well but it's not as consistent and I struggle to maintain the bend especially going to the right.
Ride Longer: YES! We're finally getting more rides at 30+ minutes rather than 15+ minutes haha. I started using a timer to help and I'm still using that timer to keep me honest since my internal clock thinks we're done around 20-25 minutes in. I've even done quite a few rides recently that are closer to 45 minutes.
Practice Sitting Trot: YES! I'm far from nailing this consistently but I can get a good sitting trot for the majority of my rides even for my lesson. Before I was really lacking the skill and feel but now, recently, I'm lacking more the strength both from not riding as consistently and not working out as consistently

Good at moving like a bigger dressage horse
despite her diminutive 13.2 hand stature
So, while it looks like we pretty much failed at all of my big 2017 goals I feel like we had a decent year. Overall 2017 felt really tough to me and like I was constantly struggling to swim upstream. Mostly this had to do with things in my personal life such as work, relationships, budget, etc. but it wasn't all smooth sailing with Katai either. She's had much more attitude these past few months and, while I'm so happy with our show results, I was really hoping for more shows, clinics, trailering opportunities etc. so it was tough to STILL feel stuck with those things.

Good at giggling with an Oh Shit face while we
splash through/around puddles
Regarding our show results, while they were never a goal I was still SOOO impressed that we won three classes at two rated shows at both training and first level. Going into the show season this year I NEVER thought that we'd accomplish that so that alone makes this year feel like a HUGE success along with all of the other progress we made. Now, I just need to learn how to set better goals for next year ;)

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Catching Up: Lesson Recaps November-December

Progress in photo form. First real show experience, 2016

2017 goal recap and 2018 goal setting blogs will be up soon but first I have one more blog catch up post.

This isn't going to be very specific because, I don't know about you guys, but I struggle to remember what happened in my last lesson much less the one that occurred over a month ago. However, I really want to at least sort of recap our progress, or lack of progress, over the past couple of months.

Also 2016

Main Themes

Canter: Getting a good three Beat Canter has been a struggle for us. When we first started working with Jane Katai was lateral going both directions most of the time. Eventually we got to a place where she was taking the right lead well but the left has remained more lateral. Even then, if she was tired at all or stiff she would be lateral in both directions and sometimes not even be able to maintain a canter to one side or the other. Honestly, if I could go back in time I would have put much more work in on the canter much earlier on but as it is, it's time to really focus on it now.

As of my last lesson on 12/26 we had a three beat canter for both leads. The left lead we only get a couple of 20 meter circles and a short straight if we're lucky but she's able to maintain the right a lot longer.

One more 2016
More sit: Katai has really developed a HUGE trot but she likes to run and go on the forehand rather than use that strength to push and come back a little. From what I've read this isn't unusual but that doesn't mean it's easy to get her to change her way of going. Ultimately Katai is a very pressure adverse horse especially with something that she feels she's an expert on and so it's been tough to try to convince her to travel in a different way. We're currently working on lots of lateral work and 10 meter circles with transitions to help her understand what we're asking but it's a slog. As of my last lesson, 12/26, she still hasn't really seemed to understand what we're asking so we'll just keep right on practicing!
First show of 2017
Half Halts: Really I'm sure this could fit into the topic above but I thought I'd separate it out since in practice they're sort of two separate things. At this point Katai is highly offended by half halts and doesn't think they're fair. She either wants to flatten onto her forehand and quite or not make any difference in the gait. When she sort of gets them she get's upset because of the amount of pressure I end up needing to use. We'll keep right on toiling away on these and I'm confident that she'll understand the concept soon.

Also first show of 2017

Lateral Work: I never thought I'd say it but leg yields are starting to get there! Katai still has days where she doesn't feel like it but I'm actually starting to understand them to the point where I can really "train" when she isn't getting it and know what I can and/or shouldn't do to get the result I'm looking for.

Last show of 2017
SI is also something we're practicing ALOT and including in a lot of exercises. We're using it to help improve the canter, to help her understand how to sit, to help her understand transitions within the gait, and to help slow down that frenetic forward energy and turn it into more sit. She's very annoyed with us about it but we'll keep right on practicing :)

I feel like I have more homework than ever and really know what we're working on so now it's just convincing Katai that these things are ok and are actually sort of fun!

Also last show of 2017

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Shopping: Blog Update #2

I actually have typed up two other posts prior to this about my Black Friday shopping this year but for some reason Blogger hasn't wanted to allow me to post any pictures so neither went up. Not that this is an extremely important topic but I got a couple of cool things and thought it would be a fun update.

First, I FINALLY got a Back on Track mesh sheet!


I've wanted one for quite awhile and finally the 25% off at Riding Warehouse convinced me. This was on my list for this year with the money I made from the most recent tack sale so being able to save at the Riding Warehouse Black Friday sale was awesome. When I first got it I cuddled with it and really feel like it was doing something with my bad shoulder.

I've used it on Katai a few times just for a little while but I'm looking forward to building up to keeping it on her for longer periods.

I also got this stable sheet from Horze!

I really love my liner system but the unfortunate thing is that I can't leave them on her without a turnout sheet or blanket over the top since they don't have surcingles or leg straps. I've wanted a stable sheet for awhile since it could work as a liner or be left on in the barn when it's a bit chilly.

As you all know, I love Horze especially when they have good deals and when I saw that this blanket was on clearance and was available in Katai's size I decided to go for it. I think I paid right around $50 which is pretty great for a nice stable blanket.

Finally I got a pair of burgundy Horze breeches that were on clearance at Riding Warehouse.
These only in burgundy
The jury is still out on these, for some reason the silicone makes the legs really tight and uncomfortable for the shape of my legs. I'm hoping that they stretch out a bit but if not I don't know if I'll wear them much.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Intention - Blog Update #1

She looks somewhere between adorable and
possessed in this picture so of course I had to share
Well guys I certainly had no intention of taking that sort of break from blogging! I feel like this year was even a longer break than last year and last year I was dealing with some pretty serious seasonal depression. This year, very happily, the reason(s) I haven't been blogging are very happy for the most part.

Because there is just so much going on and a fair amount happening with Katai I figured I would do a couple of update posts rather than trying to fit it all in one and then be in a good place to recap 2017 and start 2018 strong!


So, to start the update, awhile ago I had mentioned three exciting things I had in the works that I couldn't share yet. One of those didn't really go anywhere yet but will soon and that's that I'll be moving early next year and was hoping to move much closer to the barn. I had started to look for apartments but realized that it was still so early that it didn't make sense to look.

First bath today <3
The second thing was my friends moving to the barn. As of end of October they're all moved in and things are setting back down there. I'm really enjoying having them there and luckily it's a great combination of having people around but still having the arena to myself on a fairly consistent basis. In fact, if I had my druthers I'd probably want them around a bit more than they are which is a good problem to have.Not only am I enjoying having them there but they're LOVING the barn and Jane's instruction. All three of them have said that they're enjoying riding again and loving the program and the setup of the barn. I'm really happy for them and glad that I could help them find a great place to move to.


The third thing is, of course, my new puppy Mashiara or Moshy for short. She is absolutely the best puppy in the entire world and I'm totally head over heels in love with her. Anyone who follows me on Instagram (and if you don't you should since I'm more able to quickly post there) has seen her in all of her adorable cuteness already.

I've LOVED every minute of having rescue dogs but they do come with baggage and I've always wanted a puppy at some point. I have no doubt that I'll mess some things up but it is nice to not need to deal with set in behavioral stuff right from the beginning. It's also AMAZING how quickly she picks things up! She already sits on cue, knows her name, and has a MUCH more reliable fetch than Veggie does. She's also good with stuff like nail clipping and bathes which I'm working hard to not mess up. I guess I sort of didn't think she'd be this trainable since Chihuahua's are typically fairly stubborn little dogs that weren't exactly bred for obedience but so far (knock on wood) she's been really easy to train. I've got her signed up for a puppy class already and now I'm also sort of thinking about continuing with a few basic obedience classes after that puppy class is done.

She's very helpful with Christmas preparations

Of course all of these things have distracted me from blogging and, as mentioned previously, Katai and I had gone through a rough patch and are just in an in-between sort of time with riding where she needs more strength and to change her way of going and those aren't quick things. Because of that I just didn't have as much to blog about which wasn't inspiring me to find the time to sit down and blog.
Contemplating what to do with a toy that large
I have one more thing that's been distracting me from blogging and that's a relationship. I'm not someone who's particularly private and I know I've shared relationship things, both good and bad, on here in the past but this time I'm keeping it more private. What's important is that I'm really happy right now and spending a lot of time with this person. I've been more focused on that and continuing to ride and manage a new puppy and still (STILL!) stressful work days that blogging just needed to take a back seat.
A little blurry but proof of how good the Vegetable has been.
I think this was her second day home.
I can't promise that it's going to get much better over the next few months but I do want to close out the year as strong as I can. I'll have another update soon about more of what Katai and I have been up to!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Rhythm: Lesson Recap 11/21

I had a great walk at the Frontenac state park with my family  on Thanksgiving :)
I still have so much catch up that I'm going to try to do. Again, sorry for the lack of blogs recently but life has been crazy. Especially since the end of October things have been looking up (other than my back) which is so nice.

Katai has been back to her normal self except that she feels like she's lost some strength which sort of sucks. I'm not sure if she's just that sensitive that any muscle soreness sets us back, or if this is normal, or if it's just that my expectations are growing faster than her strength is increasing. At any rate, Jane isn't at all concerned and again I'm so glad that I have an instructor that I really trust and who's been through all of this in the past.

At any rate, on Tuesday for my lesson we started out with a very stiff pony. Not only had I not been riding as much since my back was hurt but she was also horribly in heat with the additions of two geldings in the barn. Because of that we started off doing a bunch of walk and at the walk we did some turns on the forehand and lateral work. Then once we went to the trot it was all about the lateral work. We did some nose-to-the-wall leg yields as well as some from the center line to the wall. We also worked on shoulder in.
More puppy pictures!!! She's 8 weeks as of today :)
For the shoulder in we focused on helping me get the timing right to really get her inside leg under. That was partially helping to continue to educate me as a rider and partially setting us up for the canter later.

With all of the lateral work she really loosened up and started to move like her normal self but she never really worked into the HUGE trot that we've been getting recently. Finally we worked on the canter. Our goal was to really get her to step under with her right leg because she's definitely weaker on that leg. To set us up for that we worked on either doing shoulder in or counter bending her to activate that leg and then asking for the transition. Jane also had me ask her to come back to trot as soon as she lost the rhythm which was really tough for me to find. It's funny because I can get the rhythm at the trot but I have a tough time keeping her at the same rhythm sometimes and at the canter I just can't feel it.

Homework is for me to practice feeling/hearing the rhythm of the footfalls and to bring her back as soon as she looses the rhythm. I'm really looking forward to working on this! I feel like it's the next step and I feel like I really know now what I need to work on.

Monday, November 20, 2017

No Clip November

Turns out my mare bear is pretty good at no shave November :)

Soooo fluffy!
She's also extremely in heat probably since there are a couple of new horses at the barn and these newest two are boys. Cue lots of flirting for my little sass of a mare or as Jane would call her, "a tartlet".

The boy she is most interested in is a horse that I rode a few times for my previous instructor L. He's now up for sale after showing that he preferred jumping to dressage and so he's at Jane's as an in between barn while they get him to where he's eventually going.

The tall horse himself. 
In other news, I don't know if I mentioned that Jane finally sold her young horse. Strangely enough this guy is her half brother and they look a lot a like so I've already confused them at least once.

Luckily, despite Katai being extremely in heat we actually had a great ride tonight and I'm looking forward to my lesson tomorrow!
I've started to add more poles to our lunge work including
at the canter. This weekend I raised the pole for the first time.
Clearly we're kind of a big deal jumping wise ;)

Friday, November 17, 2017

Benched

How we stay warm in MN.
Please forgive my very clashy outfit
I have no idea what I did but I somehow ended up injuring my back this past weekend. At first I thought I had just pulled a muscle but it got worse by Tuesday so I rescheduled my lesson for Friday. Then I felt way better on Wednesday but didn't go to the barn because I had other plans. On Thursday I felt the worst that I had so, like any true horse person, I went to the barn.

To be fair, I did feel a bit better by the time I decided to leave and decided that worst things worst, I could just lunge. I did end up riding but probably shouldn't have. I kept it pretty short but did a bit of walk, posting trot, sitting trot, and canter to see if I would be able to do a lesson on Friday. I was on the fence by the time I left the barn and when I woke up just as sort today I decided to try to push it out until Sunday afternoon.

Just to balance out my whining, here are the newest puppy pictures :)
She's officially booked for a flight on 12/6!
I've got my fingers crossed that I feel well enough by then to have my lesson but if not, I'll have a lesson on Tuesday next week which isn't that far away now.

It's really unfortunate timing because Katai was completely over whatever had been bothering her and we'd had a great ride last Sunday, a great lunge on Monday, and at my ride yesterday she was sooo good despite my gimpyness.

I seriously have felt like this year just won't give me a break. I have a few exciting things going on in my personal life but it's felt all year like I'm taking 3 steps forward and 2.75 back. Hopefully I can end the year strong and I'm already looking forward to a fresh start in 2018.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Ok, Who Stole My Pony

She's not convinced that it's her color but I always
make her carry my jacket around after we finish.
Recently it sort of felt like someone stole my sweet, angelic pony and left a demon pony in her stall haha. Over the last few days I have even more reason to think that someone replaced Katai with a different pony.

A few days ago I went to spray, leave in conditioner on her mane by putting it on a brush and brushing it through. Anyone who's been following my blog for awhile will know that Katai has ALWAYS been terrified by the spray bottle. I've tried everything I can think of to get her used to it and over the past few months I gave up, deciding that it just wasn't worth the fight anymore.

She's the cutest
This time though when I went to brush the stuff on her mane she didn't react at all. Then I went for it and sprayed more on the brush when I was standing right next to her. Still no reaction, nothing, not even a twitch. I got so far as to spray it right on her tail which I've NEVER been able to do with her before.

Seriously weird.

Then today I tried it again, same thing and still no reaction at all. I again used the brush to put the spray on her but sprayed it right on her tail. I'm planning to work from her and maybe, just maybe, work up to actually spraying the product directly on her. That would be so fantastic!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Culprit(s)

My very first riding instructor always had her students hand walk their horses at least
5-6 times around the arena both before and after the ride.
That habit has stuck with me so I hand walk instead
of riding for part of my warm up and cool down.
I know that I don’t need to diagnose exactly what’s happened with Katai. However, I’d like to figure it out so that I can avoid it happening again and it’s just the way that my, slightly obsessive, brain works.

My first thought was ulcers she wasn’t showing any symptoms and she’s been showing textbook symptoms anytime that they’re bothering her. It stayed in the back of my mind but it didn’t seem to make sense to treat for them when she wasn’t showing any of the symptoms that she does normally.

My second thought was saddle fit. My concern was based on an observation from Jane when I first got my re-adjusted saddle back from the fitters. I thought it looked ok but Jane thought it might be slightly narrow. Katai is normally SO honest and didn’t react negatively to it at all so I went with it but it also was hanging out at the back of my mind. However, when she first started being impossible she also wasn’t reacting to her back being poked and prodded so I don’t think that initially caused it either.
 
So tough to get pictures of her without her following me around.
This one is a little weird but at least you can see her in her pretty quarter sheet :)
Instead I think what happened is that we pushed pretty hard for every ride for a week. It wasn’t that I wasn’t asking for stretchy/relaxed rides but Katai just wanted to run so I spent lots of time half halting and then pushing her forward. I was trying to make my decision but still help her use up some energy. I think that likely was coupled with the colder weather and the last bad heat cycle of the year.

Then she had a couple of rides where she was literally acting like a stone lama and was SO STIFF and hollow. I think that did cause her muscles to be sore. In addition I escalated more than I should have for one of those rides. That caused her to escalate and then shut down.

For the past week, since that lesson, I’ve been riding very gently and treating her like glass. I’ve been very focused on not escalating and making rides fairly short and easy so she feels like she’s got this and can gain some confidence again. It’s definitely a fine line though and in my lesson this week Jane helped me really finish putting the pieces back together and we started pushing her more again while still maintaining that patience and gentleness in my riding. I carried a whip again but only needed to tap her once and after that we moved on.
 
Right after I rode I was petting her neck and found a knot.
Her expression always clearly tells me when
I find one and she leans into me as I work on them
Not only did we push her to actually do the work but we also added a tough new exercise of half pass (from shoulder in) to the quarterline, a couple of straight steps, and then back to the wall in a leg yield. I won’t say it was pretty but we did get it done which certainly wouldn’t have happened earlier this year or last week haha. There were definitely sullen pony moments but overall she was really good and I was really pleased.

Our biggest homework is the canter. I used to have huge canter anxiety but thanks to Katai it’s been nearly 100% cured. However, the pony from last week was terrifying me at the canter a bit. She had a hump in her back but if I put leg on she’d just stop and stand there with her ears pinned back. She was also trying to bolt and didn’t want to be told no which is unusual for her. At my lesson this week we’d already asked for a lot so we didn’t do much canter but what we did was closer to lateral than it’s been for a while and just felt sort of weak and stiff. I think that mainly I just need to do more canter for the next week and hopefully we'll be right back to where we were. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

If the Broom Fits

Well, I didn't end up dressing up for my Halloween lesson but if I had I would have totally dressed Katai as a witch...

This year
Goals for next year


She was just as bad, if not worse, for this ride with Jane as she has been for the rest of the week. I was SO GLAD that I had Jane there to help me and make sure that it wasn't just me. I knew that some of it was me but I also needed to know what to change and how since I had run out of tools.

Jane was able to be really helpful but even she commented on how horrible Katai was being. Honestly if I didn't know better I'd say that she'd run out of Magnesium because she's acting more like she used to when she wasn't getting that. I suppose it wouldn't be unheard of for something to be off with her supplements but I trust Smartpak so I really doubt it. Both Jane and I are thinking that it's the change in the weather combined with a bunch of new horses in the barn and a new routine.

I'm really hoping that it is just that and that she decides to return to normal sooner rather than later. I won't even go into much about tonight since it wasn't as though we really made any progress beyond ending with a slightly looser pony than we started with. Very telling was that she was really sweaty around her ears and on her neck despite the cold and the fact that she really didn't work that hard or for that long. I really think it was just where she was mentally tonight.

She's looking cute since she got a spa day yesterday but that's about all I have that's positive about where we are with our riding and dressage progress at this point haha. Along with the spa day I had a challenging (but better) ride yesterday only because I literally didn't ask for anything and just bombed around while my new fellow boarders rode around with us.

Just as I hoped it was great to have them there and is still motivating me to go to the barn despite current pony/human relations being so challenging :)

Also, more puppy pictures for your daily dose of cute!!





I can't believe that she'll be 5 weeks old this week! Only about a month left before she comes home :)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Full Barn

I sort of feel like I just need some catchy theme music and a shot of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Maybe something like this?
Back to the updates though, my friends moved in!! There are now nine horses in the barn with 5 of those being people who will be riding and taking lessons, 2 that belong to Jane, and 2 retirees.

First though I want to back up a little.

Since my last post I gave Katai Friday off and then lunged on Saturday. It was apparent when I lunged that pony had a very tired hind end, especially her right hind. I'm fairly certain that's what started the argument on Thursday and if I'd known I would have just given her the day off but hindsight is always perfect I guess.

Instead, at least I know now and after that I decided to try a redo on the easy stretchy ride this morning. I got to the barn fairly early so that I could ride and get everything closed up and put away before three new horses (all mares) and a bunch of people showed up. Long story short, it worked! She was definitely not completely thrilled about the idea of working and definitely felt a little tired but unlike Thursday she was willing to at least try to do what I was asking.

I kept it really simple with lots of straight lines and big circles. I worked a lot at the walk, did a little trot, and finally just a tiny bit of canter in each direction. I didn't even try the lateral work since I didn't want to push her at all and I was really trying to repair human/pony relations.  After the ride I worked on her hooves a bit and then cuddled her back up in her blanket and turned her out.

Neither one of us is thrilled with this weather
It was right around lunch time at that point so I headed in to town, got some taco bell and a coffee to try to warm up and then headed back. I had just gotten back into the barn and started cleaning my tack when Jane showed up and shortly after that we heard the truck pull up outside.

It was so much fun to help them find their stalls and hang out while they got the official barn tour and started to move their stuff in. This is such a fun group and we were having a great time just hanging out getting the horses used to the arena :) Jane also figured out the lesson schedule and it worked out great! I've been trying out a schedule of Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday rides. That way I'm still riding 5 times a week without it all being back to back and I don't need to drive on Friday night and risk all the drunk drivers. All three are planning to have their lessons on Wednesday evening which means I won't need to change my schedule in order to not interfere with their lessons since that's already a night off.

Tomorrow my hope is to do a bit more work and at least do some leg yields and a bit more canter. What's really exciting is that there will be OTHER PEOPLE there! At least two of my friends, now identified as C and J2, will be there as well. It's so much easier to be motivated to go to the barn knowing that there will be other people there.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Snowmageddon

Not the snow falling outside, which is happening, but this particular 13.2 hands of snowy white fluff.

Don't let her cute looks fool you
She was a PILL yesterday for my ride. I had really low expectations for that ride and just wanted to do about 15-20 minutes of stretchy, bendy, walk and trot work and just a simple canter each direction of the arena. Basically the only reason I was going to ride was to stretch her out and help her feel better after the hard work of the lesson on Tuesday.

Unfortunately all Katai had planned was to do the exact opposite of what I wanted. I asked for a trot and got a canter, asked for a leg yield (again with the trying to help her work out the stiffness) and got a lengthening, I asked for a canter and got a halt and so on and so forth.

Supremely frustrating but I'm proud of how I rode it which was to just keep trying to find a mutual solution to the disagreement and yet I wasn't coddling her.

I think the main reason for the fussiness was that she's using different muscles and likely a little sore. Combine that with a pony that likes to get the right answer but now is being asked to change what the right answer is and she was both physically and mentally locked up and crabby.

Therefore our ride turned from a 15 minute easy prance to a nearly 60 minute tough, mental, sweaty workout. However, we did get somewhere. Recently especially I've really been a diplomat. I know we're changing things so if I can get even 75% of what I'm asking I'm going with it, probably to the detriment of our riding goals, but it has helped to mitigate our riding related meltdowns. Yesterday was no different except I wasn't even getting 25% and through pushing to get at least that much I ended up getting closer to 100% by the end on certain things.

I did end up letting a lot of things go, she was still VERY tense but was letting me at least bend her and help her try to loosen up. I also had to let go of the stride length because about the only thing she seemed capable of was tiny itty bitty strides. Instead I made those strides fall at the tempo I wanted even if it meant that it took us forever to make our way around the ring. The real victory was that she actually was letting me put my leg on and was accepting it in both directions and was moving away from it equally in both directions. She also was taking contact on the right rein which was what initially started the meltdown (although I started out asking for about 25-50% of what I needed and at the end after all that fuss I ended up with closer to 100% of what I need).

I was good for the ride and after I was still pleased with how I'd handled but also emotional at how far back this step is. I dealt with this pony (or a slightly worse version to be honest) for over 2 years and she's been SOOO good recently that it's painful to be back here. We're still along for the ride and I know this is just a blip but it's a really painful blip right now.

In other snowy news, the weather man was actually pretty accurate.


I took the picture above a couple of hours ago and a lot more has fallen since then. It's still 33* and the ground is still warm enough that it's melting on the roads and just wet for driving but it's really sticking around more than I expected on the grass.

Also, here's a picture of my new little snowball!!!!!!!!!!

Already practicing the side eye
I'm dying over here wanting to just snuggle her so bad.

                          

Alas, I have just over a month to wait. It sounds like the breeder is aiming for the last week in November/First week in December and is working with the airline right now to arrange travel.

As to the details, she is a long haired Chihuahua. One part of my decision is that I really have wanted a dog I can bring to the barn and, while Veggie is the perfect dog in every other respect, he's just too keyed up by visual stimuli to be safe there. However, because I love his personally so much (he's an Italian greyhound/chi cross) I've really been wanting a Chi. Add to that the fact that a LOT of my horse friends have Chihuahuas all of whom are really nice little barn dogs and I decided to go with it.

I looked around for a long time for a breeder I liked that was producing happy, well adjusted dogs (especially important for toy dog breeders in my opinion) and finally found this one. I got first pick of litter, however, one thing I was inflexible on was that I wanted a girl and, wouldn't you know, this litter only had one girl. However, she is exactly what I wanted so all those positive thoughts I sent to her mom must have worked :)

Now I just have to somehow make it through the next 4-5 weeks and I'll get to finally welcome her home!!