Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Longtime Favorites

I've been doing season specific favorites posts but I've got some stuff that I've had for a long time and used and abused that deserve a mention. So, this is sort of a longest running, high quality, necessities review.


Ovation Breeches

These may not be my favorite breeches I own but for the price and quality they'd be tough to beat. They still fit well after about 4 years of steady wear and washing. They literally look the same way they did when I bought them except the suede trim on the pockets is getting a little worn.


Weaver Leadrope

I've had this thing for at least 7 years and it's still going strong. It's the nicest lead rope I've ever handled and everyone who has seen it or used it, has commented on it as well. It's nice and heavy in your hand and feels solid plus it's soft rather than silky which is nice and, I think, less likely to leave rope burns for those moments when your horse has a high amount of sass.

It certainly doesn't look like this anymore but this is the one I have

Walsh Leather Halter

This halter has been Katai's for nearly the whole time I've had her so about 4 years now. It's been her turnout halter, dealt with her pony antics, and not always been well cared for by me. I do try to clean it on a regular basis but when you're a turnout halter that's just not going to keep you clean and in good condition for long. After a recent rough trailering experience the bottom ring got bent and has a small crack but I'm actually surprised that it didn't break completely especially since it's the thinner 3/4 inch leather and with all of the abuse it's already had.

First time trying it on a few years ago
(oh and that's the Walsh halter when it was pretty new still)

Saxon Turnout Sheet

This cute plaid sheet has been Katai's only turnout sheet for over three years now and it's been amazing! I've patched it a few times but it wasn't a high denier so I'm not surprised. Otherwise everything else has stood up really well. I think I only paid around $50 for it new so that's a pretty good return on investment :)

After lots of wear these still look amazing!

People on Horses Boots

I've also had these for nearly as long as I've had Katai. She wears these for about 99% of our rides which amounts to a crazy amount of wear over four years. I also wash these on a regular basis (hang dry) and they still look almost exactly like new. She doesn't interfere much so I'm not sure how they would hold up to that but still, I'm extremely impressed and plan to get a second pair at some point when these finally wear out.


State Line Tack Cotton Lunge Line

Not that this is specifically a wear item but I've had this for about 7 years as well, it's constantly getting dragged through footing and it also went through all of our trailering drama since I like the length of a lunge line when I'm dealing with a sassy pony. I even used it as a long line to work with a couple of young horses and it's still going strong! It's pretty stained from all of the footing but the snap works perfectly and there aren't any tears or wear marks. For under $8 that's tough to beat

This is the jacket I have only in Hunter Green

Joules Winter Jacket

I ADORE this jacket. This is my third winter with it now and it is not only the warmest, but the most comfortable and cutest jacket I've ever owned. It's even figure flattering while still warm and I wear it everywhere during the winter. It also looks just like new and has been through the wash several times but remains just as warm and just as cute as it was when I bought it. I also got it for 25% off at a black Friday sale so it was a good deal as well!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Bad Influence

Or actually a good influence. After reading a few of Sprinklerbandit's posts about using Vienna reins with Courage I wanted to try them with Katai. I figured that my neck stretcher could probably play double duty and work for Vienna reins as well and I was right, at least for the most part.

Next time I want to add something to make them at least a few inches longer but I went with it this time since they weren't horrible. I was even able to get some video and I think she's looking really good.

Enjoy some Prairie Home Companion in the background because that's how we roll :)




Sunday, January 29, 2017

Hufglocken Dressage Boot Review

Sorry for all the clutter on my desk but aren't they cute!
Also gotta love my grandma's wallpaper ;)
I picked my package from Hufglocken up on Thursday from the post office on my way to H's lesson which you can read about in my previous post. From date of order it took 8 days for them to attempt deliver but since they required a signature and I was at work I didn't get them until 9 days after I ordered. Really good for free shipping from Australia in my opinion!


I opened them up in the parking lot of the post office but didn't have much of a chance to examine them. I will say that I really dislike stiff boots and have always felt like they would be uncomfortable or even bad for horse's legs. However, I would classify DSB boots as stiff and many, many people use them and love them so I think it's just a personal thing. The softness and flexibility of my POH boots is probably one of my favorite things and I do hope that in the future I can own another set the price on those is just tough to swallow.

First Impressions:

So, back to the Hufglocken boots. When I first opened them up I was concerned both about how stiff they are and about the size of the XS that I ordered for Katai's front legs. The stiffness is due to the foam they use and while I'm sure it will soften up and break down a bit over time it was quite stiff out of the package. I bent and manipulated all of them a bit and fastened them like you would on a horse's leg but I was curious how they would work on Katai's little legs. Regarding the size there's a fairly significant size difference between the XS and the S boots so the S actually looked like they might be slightly large and the XS looked like they'd be way too small.

That small looks pretty small even for my pony
Fairly large size difference
I was actually quite convinced that the XS wouldn't work and was disappointed that I wouldn't be able to try them out until the next evening. However, my other impressions of them were great! The fleece does a great job of giving the impression of fleece and it's nice and soft. The stitching and construction is at least close to the POH boots and I really love how thick and strong the elastic is with very sticky velcro. Plus, the boots are very accurate to the pictures they had on the website with colors matching (the blue is a little bluer which I'm really happy about) and the textures and patterns match as well.

Compared to the POH Boots:

Sorry for another not so great picture
and yeah, those POH boots really need to be cleaned.
The size was a bit different but not as bad as I was concerned about. However the velcro/elastic length is very different which we'll get back to later. Also, the real sheepskin in the POH boots is so plushy and wonderful, however, I'm not sure if I would pay for just that. Katai has good, sturdy, hairy, pony legs so I doubt she could tell the difference. On a thin skinned horse it might be a different story.

Not as much size difference as I'd feared

On the Pony (or But Would They Fit?):

I held my breath when I put them on and I honestly didn't think they'd fit at first. With a bit more manipulating/softening of the foam I got them to the point where with a small amount of pressure I was able to just close the velcro. That was the worst part of it. The POH boots have at least another half inch of velcro so they're more forgiving plus the elastic is a bit softer so even if they were exactly the same size they'd closer easier than these. However, they did work and stay on for my ride and I think they're really cute. I'm also certain that they'll soften and stretch with time.

Cute and the length is good but you can see
that they don't meet up completely
So cute!! You can see that the back boots wouldn't fit
if they were any bigger and they certainly don't fit her front legs

Final Thoughts:

I really like these boots and will probably order more boots from them in the future. I know that the fit will only get better as they soften up and the elastic stretches out a bit. Also, during the summer when she sheds out a bunch of her leg fuzzies they'll fit better as well. With that being said, if money weren't an issue I'd probably buy another set of the POH boots instead. The only thing that's better with these is the extra patterns or colors that they have and of course the price (plus that little logo is adorable). Otherwise the sheepskin, softness, and fit of the POH boots is just tough to beat.

Also, completely unrelated to this post but I made some of my most beautiful vegan sushi to date!


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Another One: Lesson Recap 1/26

Not sure if I mentioned it in this blog but Katai completely
destroyed the tail flap on her blanket.
I got it fixed but it isn't pretty if you look close haha
I have a second lesson recap for you this week but his time it wasn't my lesson but my friend H's! I've talked a little about H and having her watch my lesson here and now it was my turn to go to her barn and watch her lesson. I was also really excited about meeting at least a few of the GRPs that her instructor recently bought.

I picked up my new Hufglocken boots on the way there and will be posting a review very soon! I also discovered that with my new living location, where I'm about 31 minutes from Katai, I'm actually only about 32 minutes from H's barn. The distance to that side of the cities has been at least one deterrent for me about boarding there (along with the very high price) so with that out of the way I was curious how I'd feel once I was there and how I would feel about H's lesson.

I had left work a bit early to get there and so I stopped by Chipotle and got a vegan burrito salad which was delicious and which I ate while H tacked up her pony. We talked a lot about how she's been and also about her watching Veggie for me soon since I may be losing a roommate and then it was time for her lesson.

I walked over to the seating area and watched her warming up. I always learn so much from watching other riders and was really interested to see how much lateral work she did at the walk to warm up. I ended up already incorporating that in my ride on Friday and it worked great. Then her instructor showed up and she started at the trot.

Her instructor had her start off with some 20 meter circles and changes of direction. Her pony was tight through the back and wanting to keep his neck up and short/stiff rather than reach forward and work through his back. Her instructor also thought he maybe had a bit of a painful belly since he had more gas than normal.  It was one of those lessons where I feel like H never really got him where she wanted him, he was resistant the whole time, and never really bent when going to the right. I felt for her because her pony and Katai are very similar in their resistances and I've certainly had my share of lessons like this.

A few things I took away:

-Despite not feeling like I have as many opportunities as H I'm working an many of the same things. Not with as much knowledge or technique but it feels good to know that we both have our own struggles with shoulder in for example.
-I actually wasn't as wowed (seriously been hero worshiping him for the past year or so) by her instructor as I have been. This is the first lesson I've watched since I've started lessons with Jane and while he is an incredibly wonderful and successful instructor as I've said before, Jane is who I need right now and is much more effective with me and Katai than I think this person would be (all based on a guess of course since I haven't ridden with him).
-I'd really like to take a lesson with him now that I've started with Jane because after seeing this lesson with H I don't think I'd be wasting his time or feel as intimidated as I would have last year.
-I'd also really like to ride with Janet Foy if I ever get the chance. H rode with her and I'm close enough that again, I don't think I'd be wasting Janet's time.
-Dressage is hard and even when you get to a point where you might be thinking of moving to 2nd level, you may still have days where you struggle to get your horse on the contact and/or with doing a correct shoulder in.


-The importance of having a great horse/rider relationship can't be understated. I could tell that H was getting really frustrated at times and her instructor mentioned it as well. Last year I would have been in the same place. She handled it well but it did create more tension and I really think that it's what caused Katai to be so unridable up until this past few months. It was a good reminder not to go back there.
-It was also a good reminder of why it's good that I just have Katai. H has been able to ride all these amazing school masters and naturally talented riding ponies which would certainly make my fuse for my own pony much shorter

After H's lesson I stuck around and met one of the sport ponies. She's a 5 year old with about a year of professional training but was just transported up to MN from FL about 1 week ago so they just did some trot with changes of direction. She was gorgeous, such a nice little mover, and just completely in your pocket. I still like my little girl more though which always makes me happy :)

I just love her, even when she's makes faces like this

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Trust: Lesson Recap 1/24

In other news it was time for another clip, and my god that mane
But look at those withers!! She's looking pretty uphill now :)
Woah, after lots of early January posts it's been awhile since I wrote anything! There have just been a lot of things going on in my life. Not bad stuff, just stuff but it has distracted me from writing anything.

Also, Katai has been reverting a bit back to her old ways. Even though she's still way better than she ever was and I know that the weather, hormones, and lack of recent rides are causing it it's still been tough. It's been especially tough to deal with the lack of relaxation which I feel like was my most fought for gain since working with Jane. However, as of this lesson on Tuesday I feel like we're getting back into the groove!

Katai started off in a good place and actually seemed like she wanted to work. She's just been so resistant that it's been tough to get anything done until mid way through the ride when she starts to soften a bit. This time though she came out of her stall soft and relaxed and despite some mare faces when I was tacking up she didn't put a foot wrong.

Time to make another pony

We started off the lesson as usually by doing a good long walking warm up and then going to trot. We focused again on getting the correct flexion while keeping her neck straight. When she's been so stiff recently we've been using a bit of neck bend to get her softened up but during this lesson we were able to go back to more properly keeping her neck more straight.

Jane had me start out spiraling on a circle only on the spiral in she had me counter flex Katai. I've don't this before (although probably never correctly) but for whatever reason on Tuesday I just couldn't do it. I really couldn't even get close. I muddled through that a few times and then Jane was kind and had me take a walk break. It's homework for next time.

During our walk break she pulled out the cavalettis and put them about 10 meters from short end of the arena so that we'd trot over them as we went down the center line. Then she had me leg yield from the far end from the wall to the center line and go over the cavalettis. Once over them we'd turn in the direction of bend that we had for our leg yield and then go backs straight down the long side and do the same thing in the other direction.

She's just so cute!!
I knew that we were going to do cavalettis and was really curious to see how they'd go. Despite using them several times at lessons in the past (with other instructors) Katai had always just rushed through them so that they didn't really do what they were intended for. This time though the first time she went through them she paused for so long on to legs that I almost unseated myself. The next time she also really paused and sat and used her new strength to get through them appropriately and in about the same rhythm. The last couple of times (probably getting tired) she went a bit quicker but still really maintained her rhythm. 

We didn't do too many since we knew how much work it was for her but Jane want's me to do this with Katai at 1-2 of my rides each week. What was really cool was that as soon as we went over them the first time her stride opened up and she really started swinging through her back. Almost as though she had just forgotten that it was possible and this reminded her.

Not my best clip but it'll do.
Also her mane isn't as bad as it looks in the photo, it actually turned out pretty cute!
AND I clipped her mare beard :)
At the end of my lesson we did some shoulder in at the walk. I've gotten it done in the past but not very correctly and so this was time for Jane to go over my position and the way I was asking and help me do it more correctly. The lesson from this, other than lots of moment by moment commentary, was that I need to allow Katai to do it wrong and trust her that she's going to do it right. Then if she doesn't I just fix it and move on. Yep, Im a perfectionist and this is really tough for me. I made a comment to Jane that I feel like she's our relationship therapist and she thought that was pretty funny but it's so true!

Also, I completely forgot to bring my little video camera but I'm going to try to remember to bring it to my ride tomorrow AND the boots from Hufglocken got here so I'll hopefully be able to share more about those soon!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Of Monsters and Retail Therapy

Yeeeaaaahhhh...

So I probably didn't need to buy anything else horse related for maybe at least a year but when I was so sick I did end up doing some shopping and bought a set of these beauties!


aaaaaannnnnnddd a set of these...


But really I'm just  counting it as improvement that I didn't buy a set of these gorgeous things...

Things like this are why everyone should own a pony
I did actually "need" another set of dressage boots. Polos don't work because of the small size of Katai's legs and the fact that I'm incapable of putting them on well, even though I know how. Also since I only have one set of boots it's been tough to keep them clean and means going for a week at a time without leg protection. It's hardly the end of the world but I'd really rather have a different set to swap out when I'm washing them.

I LOVE the pastel pink set of boots that I have (and I'm sure you're all familiar with) which are from People on Horses. I've had them since just after I got Katai, so about four years, and they still look nearly like new. However, unfortunately at nearly $200 for a set (including shipping) I just haven't been able to stomach the thought of buying more even though I really wanted them in navy patent

First time in her boots, crazy to think this was only about 4 years ago!
Instead I found Hufglocken through Instagram and once I found out that they had free worldwide shipping on orders over $150 I decided to order some stuff. It just so happens that two full sets of boots from them cost about $180 with the difference in exchange rate so I went for it. They shipped today and I'll share more once I get them. I'm really looking forward to trying them out and excited that I'll have full matching sets of navy blue, brown, and pink tack now. It's the little things :)


Also, while I was sick this adorable jacket showed up that I bought for Veggie over Christmas. Watching him play with his tennis ball as a little monster certainly did a lot to make me feel better and I'm almost back to 100%. I should have a lesson recap soon!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Equestrian Blogging Community FTW

I LOVE this community. I feel like it's a rare thing on the internet to find such an amazing group of positive, helpful, and welcoming people. I'm hoping to meet more of you at some point but even through electronic communication it's been great getting to know everyone. How amazing this community is was really emphasized to me over the past couple of weeks!

After I posted my TSF girth review for the Stretchtec girth I bought, I received a message from Emilie over at BecausePony. She was wondering if I was going to put my 24" Havana girth up for sale. I let her know that I'd thought about it but hadn't listed it or done anything about it yet and that if she wanted it I'd be happy to arrange something. Then she came up with the amazing idea of a partial trade for a piece of her artwork.

I jumped on it since I've been wanting to get more photos/artwork of Katai. It's amazing to have such an incredible pony that I love in every way. I still can't quite believe that I'm in this place with her and where I feel like I have such an amazing riding partner that I want to own for the rest of her life.

I talked about a few options with Emilie but eventually decided on a more cartoonish full body drawing of Katai from one of my favorite pictures of her. This is the result :)

I LOVE it!!! It so perfectly captures her pony attitude and I can't believe how well Emily captured her expression in cartoon version and her coloring. I'm going to get a copy printed for my wall and of course it's going to get posted more on this blog.

If any of you would like an amazing drawing of your horse or pony you should check out Emilie's art at http://becausepony.com.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Downtime


This winter has been tough for a few reasons but the weather has been nuts! It's been a very cold year overall but there have just been so many crazy temperature swings. On top of that it's either been very cold, highs in the single digits, or when it gets warmer, up into the 20s, we get dumped on with snow. This week was no different and we got around 4-6" of snow Monday-Wednesday. In addition it was still quite cold so none of the salt or chemicals were working which meant the roads were really bad.

Because of that I didn't get to the barn Monday or Tuesday and I was planning to make it there, no matter what, on Wednesday but the roads were still crappy and I was starting to get sick. On Thursday I was feeling really crappy and while I made it through my day at work it wasn't a good day. It was also only about 4* so I just couldn't make myself go to the barn.

Then Friday I felt even worse but I had the day off so I went to the barn in the morning and delivered more supplements for Katai and got her out to stretch her legs for a bit. I just lunged her in her halter without any sort of side reins but she got to w/t/c in each direction for a bit and I also just walked her around the arena so she could put her nose on things and do some exploring. I also did some spa stuff with her and got her tail trimmed, finally, since she had already pulled out a chunk about a week ago. I also cleaned up her back legs a bit (as much as I could with just spot remover) and cleaned and brushed out her mane.

I'm feeling better today and planning to go to the barn again but still not sure if I'll feel up to riding or if I'll just lunge again. I'd been planning on a make up lesson for Tuesday since we canceled because of the snow but both Jane and I are sick so I canceled. I'm still hoping that I can have a lesson tomorrow morning and will post a lesson recap if it happens.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

When the Well Runs Dry

I wanted to post a ride recap from last week just because it was an interesting ride but for some media I'll share some screenshots from this most recent lesson video and some comparison shots from the last couple of years.
I'm so, so happy with this (blurry) picture!!
I feel like you can really see both of our progress and I actually can't believe that's me
As mentioned in several blogs so far, my pony is a saint. Throughout all of this recent down time when she's been stuck in her stall from the cold or unable to move much in her pen because it's icy or when I've been out of town and unable to work with her, or my car was at the shop...

Photo from spring 2014

Photo from spring 2015
Photo from Spring 2016
I can't believe the changes we've both made recently!!
This past Saturday though, the pony's patience ran out. She was actually really good in the cross ties which is unusual when she's full of energy so I didn't really think anything of it. Then when I led her to the arena I started to notice that she was spooky and since that's really odd I realized that she might be feeling pretty tight and full of energy.

Indeed she was, in fact when I climbed on she had such a hump in her back that I actually wondered if I was going to come off. Knock on wood she's never gotten me off so I was really hoping that Saturday wouldn't be the first day. Especially since it was -1 and I was so cold that I was almost in tears at one point when I just couldn't even bend my fingers and couldn't get them to warm up.

Really happy with that hind leg and the bend
I just focused on forward but she was so locked up that she kicked out at my leg and was making lots of sassy pony faces. She did calm down a bit though and eventually got her moving forward and stretching down and out into contact a bit. With Katai it's not even helpful to try to lunge when she's like this because she just tightens up her back and moves her legs even with side reins but on her back I was able to get her bending and stretching a bit.

Then she volunteered canter so I just went with it and that finally really helped relax her and I got lots of snorts. After getting some really nice work at the canter I got her going in the other direction and we did some trot and canter. This was her tougher side at the canter but she still worked really well. Finally we finished things up with some leg yields and I'm so proud at how they went! She's starting to understand her job and I'm starting to be more coordinated so we're finally working as a team.

The theme of the day, once she relaxed her back a bit and I didn't think she was going to flail/kick out/buck/rear was trying to get her to take the forward and down. She was getting pretty consistent in the contact but between the tension today, the lack of consistent work, and probably the change in bridles, she's having a little tougher time and has reverted to giraffing a bit but it won't take long and we'll be back.

I'm exciting to be able to ride more consistently again!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Lesson Recap with Video!!!

Yes! I have media, and not just any media but a video.

Unfortunately we had the heater running so there was a very loud buzzing in the background that covered up everything and was annoying to listen to. Instead you get to listen to one of my favorite tracks from the past month. However, even if you can't hear what Jane's saying you can see how effective she is in changing the way I'm riding.

Just to recap my rides last week, I was out of town through Thursday and wasn't able to make it to the barn on Friday which meant that Katai hadn't been ridden since Sunday. When I got to the barn on Saturday she was fine in the crossties but a little firecracker to ride and she actually had such a hump in her back that I almost got off and lunged. Instead I was able to ride her through it and got some good stretchy work. I was able to get her loosened up enough that I was encouraged that my lesson would be productive.

You can watch in 1080 if you go to Youtube and see the full quality video 
if you're curious about the quality from the Polaroid Cube

The first clip is from early in the lesson where Katai was quite stiff and reluctant to bend appropriately. The second clip is from closer to the middle of the lesson where we were starting to get Katai much looser. Finally, the third clip is a walk break and you may be tempted to skip to the end but if you watch till the last couple of seconds there's a good easter egg curtesy of Jane ;)

I love my instructor!!

There isn't much that's exciting to watch since we were just focused on helping Katai loosen up and get steadier in the contact after the break while I was in Seattle. We did some leg yields and canter spirals at the end but unfortunately I didn't think to charge the camera before my lesson so it stopped before we got there. I'll try again next time and hopefully have more interesting movements to watch.

I may have my next lesson this evening but if the weather is as bad as they say it will be I'll have it this weekend instead. Either way I'll post a recap!

Monday, January 9, 2017

January Goals


Obviously I'm already a little ways into January but I'd like to do monthly goals again along with my larger yearly goals. Mainly because I think it will help me keep on track but also because I think it will help me motivate myself to get to the barn more often.

Ride More:

Speaking of getting to the barn more often, I'd like to make it a goal to ride 6 days a week during January. Between the snow and cold I know it's going to be tough but even if I go 4-5 times because I set this at 6 that will still be a win.

Focus on Forward:

While also working on getting the contact more consistent. I haven't ridden dressage long enough or ridden enough different horses to be able to speak to how things "usually" work. However, I know that for Katai, if I push her forward when she's got her head in the air and she's tense in front of the withers it does nothing more than make her more tight. When I do that she also moves her legs up and down instead of forward. That means that I need to use the reins to get her on the contact and taking it forward and down and then push her forward into it. 

This is tricky because when she's like this I can fall into the trap of riding too much with my hands which just makes the problem worse. I'm starting to get the timing right and to be able to fix the contact and then push her into it but it's fairly recent that I can do both at once. I want to make sure that this month while I'm getting her more consistent in the contact again and getting her to reach forward and down that I don't lose the forward at any point.

Groom Better:

I tend to be a bit sloppy when it comes to presenting myself and I'm pretty lazy about my appearance. I usually wear eye liner and some mascara and no other makeup but sometimes I can't even be bothered with that. Normally my hair is just back in a pony tail and I can't even count the number of times that I've gone to the bathroom at work and realized that I've got floofy bits of hair flying everywhere hours into the work day. 

I'm the same way with Katai 

No, pony mascara is not where this is going
I brush the gunk off and that's about it. I'm not good at keeping up with her green spots (thank goodness she's a neat princess pony and stays pretty clean) and one of the only things I enjoy about winter is that the constant blanket wearing means she stays pretty clean. 

It's been tough in the past because she didn't have the patience to stand still and she's still terrified of spray bottles which makes putting any sort of product on her that much tougher. Plus right now she's so hairy that it's easier to just brush her off, tack her up and go rather than trying to groom an extremely hairy pony when it's so, so cold out. However, I really need to up my grooming game asap. 

Her back legs are grimy, she's got dirt spots everywhere, her mane and neck (where the blanket doesn't cover her up) are so dirty and yellow that she almost looks like a buckskin, and her tail has gotten out of control. It's time for a spa day but I also want to make more consistent in depth grooming a thing for January.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

My Other Christmas Gift

I got a few amazing things other than the girth and bride but most of them aren't horse related (including some amazing handmade knit socks from my mom). However, I ended up with a very generous Amazon gift card and I've already bought a few fun things including a Polaroid Cube.

For anyone who doesn't know what these are, I didn't until I found it on Amazon, it's similar to a go-pro but at $60 it's a better price point for me and it's just adorable.

I got the blue one
Along with the price point there are a few fun things about this camera. First, it's tiny!


It's also water proof (or maybe just water resistant) and, my favorite, it's got a small built in magnet!

Sorry for the dirt but look how cool that is!
It's securely magnetized to the metal on the wall
just like a little superhero
It takes video up to 1080 and accepts a micro SD up to 32GB. It also has a wide angle lens so it captures a bit more than my phone which is really nice when trying to get videos in the arena.

Clearly I could have positioned it better
but for a screen shot from a video in bad light this isn't bad!
Mainly, while the quality might not be as nice as a more expensive (or larger) piece of equipment it's really simple, cute, handy, and for the price it will be fun to play around with. I'm hoping to figure out how to best incorporate it in my rides and I'm hoping it will help me get more media since that's been tough otherwise.

Little blurry here (very small part of the shot)
 but not horrible and at least I can get media!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

I'm Back!

I do love work trips to Seattle though!
So cool to watch this sea plane taking off Lake Union from my hotel elevator
In more ways than one.

The past few weeks have been really tough in being able to get to the barn. First was the accident and being in pain, then not having a car to drive, then the holidays, and finally this week I was in Seattle, WA for work. I just got back today and its so good to be home.
Or the Amazon Bio-orb that's under construction
Even though it's been tough to only be able to occasionally go to the barn and the lack of rides and lessons hasn't made for much progress it has been sort of nice to have a "forced" break from regular riding. I was lacking a bit on motivation both because of the weather and because I think I just needed a break. Now though, especially today, I'm feeling way more motivated. I think it's both because of the break and because I finished reading book two of the Dressage Chronicles and I'm reading book three, for the first time. I love these books and they always make me want to ride and go to dressage shows :)

Or the place where cool car things happen :)
I'm planning to ride or go to the barn every day through my lesson on Tuesday next week and I'm really glad that I have absolutely no plans until the end of February so I can just focus on riding!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Boot Camp: Lesson Recap 12/31


Yep, I celebrated the end of 2016 with a good, tough lesson with Jane. It had been a couple of weeks since I'd had a lesson and my rides have been pretty inconsistent (timing wise, Katai has been really consistent and I've had great rides just not as many of them as I'd like) so I knew we were going to get a workout but mainly we are just at a point where we can both be pushed more which is so exciting!

Since I haven't posted many details about my rides in the past month I just want to post a quick recap of what we've been doing. That is, doing more work on lateral movements, specifically leg yield and shoulder in. My leg yield is starting to get more consistent now that I'm starting to be able to use my outside rein and both legs (so, so, so hard for me!). We've also been doing a LOT more canter than we had been. Jane was pushing way more canter than I was used to and when we talked she basically told me that at second level since there is about as much canter work as trot work I should be trying to do that with my rides as well. SO COOL TO HEAR!! I think I just about squealed like a kid :)

At this lesson we started off getting the trot to a good place. Academically I know that I'm working towards a pushing, active hind leg and that if that's right everything else will fall into place (at least at this point in our training) but I struggle sometimes to really get there. I can instantly feel when it's correct but between correct and when Katai's faking it a bit I struggle to catch the change. I eventually get it when I'm riding by myself but only multiple 20 meter circles later which isn't helpful. It's so helpful to have Jane right there telling me when it's good or not but I'm still a long way from being able to feel it instantly.

Katai was stiff and wasn't moving as well as she had been since she's spent a lot of time standing around. Both because I wasn't able to get to the barn and ride as much as I wanted and because it's icy out so she isn't moving around as much as she normally would in turnout. We ended up spending about 30 minutes getting her moving better and really focusing on my bending. I was also really struggling with my right hand, really really struggling. Jane made me come back to walk and I spent awhile on the struggle bus trying to figure out the feel of what she was looking for.

The problem is that when I'm going to the left everything works, then I go to the right and everything falls apart. I completely blame my right hand but my left isn't much better.  I seem to only be able to move my left arm side to side and my right arm straight forward and back. I also struggle to take a good feel on the right rein so Katai is used to the contact being really light on that side. That means that when I'm going to the right I've got my left arm pointing at the wall (when she's trying to fall in which I'm causing haha) and my right is in my lap. I'm not getting her bent properly because I'm not giving her the ability to take the bit forward on the outside and my right arm isn't supporting her on the inside either. Then I fall to the inside hop bone, a lot, and she falls in more to pivot around that "turning point", ie. we're a bit of a disaster and Jane is very patient.

Of course that's not going to be fixed in one lesson so Jane put us back together to the point where we could continue and I've got my homework.

Then we started working on shoulder in!! Jane had told me to practice it when she saw me before my next ride so I knew she was going to bring it up in the lesson. This was actually much smoother than it has been, maybe because Jane had me using both reins a bit more correctly ;), and after we had a couple good tries on either side we took a walk break and then worked on leg yields.

I'm still struggling a bit with the timing of the aids on these but this lesson was the first where I feel like I had a couple of decent tries in each direction. I actually felt like I rode more evenly to both sides and was able to get the timing of the forward and sideways aids a bit better.

Then we went to canter and Katai felt pretty darn good. She's actually starting to develop a little bit of jump to her canter which wasn't there at all before. She's also starting to be capable of holding the canter a little longer which means we get to have more fun with it. We're working on doing 20 meter circles at different points in the arena as well as riding the full sides of the arena but this lesson we also added leg yields in on the 20 meter circles while allowing her to trot when it felt to difficult. At that point we'd leg yield out and ask for the canter again. Katai did really well, I struggled to sit straight up but after a conversation with Jane at the end on the biomechanics I think I get it and know what to do differently next time.

In all the lesson went for about an hour and we took up the full thing with riding and not just "easy" stuff so Katai was fairly sweaty. It was the first time that we made it through the full hour since normally I don't have enough horse to make it that long or we only get there because we do a lot of talking or walking around while Jane explains something to me. I was really proud of both of us and how much progress we've made but even better, it's great to have more new homework!

Sorry for no media! Hopefully next time :)

Monday, January 2, 2017

Goals for 2017

Goals for 2017

I'm going to take a crack at this again and will put my big goals for the year here and post more about some of the smaller goals as I go.

Increase Blogging Again

I'd like to post even more this year. 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! I'd also like to increase the number of pictures, increase the quality of my photos, and to do more review posts. Honestly just being able to show more and travel with Katai more would create more interesting things to post about!

This is how Katai feels about having her own trailer

Buy a Trailer

Yes! This is finally on the list. With all of the financial stuff I've been doing including moving to a place with cheaper rent, moving Katai to a barn with cheaper board, and (the surprise blessing of the year) getting rid of my car payments in trade for a slightly uglier car this is finally on the list

Trailer EVERYWHERE

More specifically to shows but I couldn't care less what type of shows they are. There are a lot of "fun shows" in the area that are attended by a more western crowd but with $2-$5 entry fees per class, a relaxed but busy atmosphere it's such a good way to get Katai used to showing just being an ok thing! Of course I also hope to do some dressage shows, trail rides, and hunter paces.

Maybe if we really practice at some point
we can ride here, at the KY Horse Park!

Ride in Another Dressage Clinic

I'm hoping that towards the end of the year Katai will be comfortable enough with trailering that I could think about riding in another dressage clinic. I'm not in any hurry because I'm just learning so, so, so much right now from Jane but I just enjoy participating in things like that and hope that I can do occasional clinics moving forward.

2nd Level Goals

We're working on some of the movements from 2nd level and I have complete confidence that even if our progress hits a huge wall (and I know it will stall out at some point here) 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 :)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 Goals Review

I think the only consistent thing about my goals in 2016 is that I struggled with them. I've never been good at setting goals and although I tried in 2016 they left a lot to be desired. I think part of what's tough is that shows/clinics/horse events are easy things to build goals around and I just haven't been able to do many of those. With that being said I'm going to recap my favorite things that happened this past year!

Increased my Blogging

I was happy both with the fact that I posted over 140 times (up from the 90 times I posted in 2015) but also that I just had more interesting content and more pictures. I still struggled to get good riding photos but at least there were some good pictures and lots more pictures of Katai and myself.

I think we got extra points because my pony stuck her tongue out at the clinican

Attended my First and Second Dressage Clinic

Yep, I've been riding for a long time (over 19 years) but in that time I've never ridden in a clinic before this year. Plus, of course, it was my first clinic with Katai and my first Dressage clinic. Even though it was at the facility I was boarding at it still felt like a really big deal.

The picture look better than the show felt but it still felt like a big win!

Attended a Schooling Show

This might not seem like a big deal but this was only the 2nd real dressage show I've ever ridden in and only the 5th horse show I've ever ridden in and it was Katai's first real show experience. It was tough on Katai and she was quite stressed but that wasn't unexpected and it felt like a really big deal that we got it done. I would have really liked to have done more shows since I know that what we both need is to just do lots of shows but it's so tough when I don't have my own transportation to shows.

My only satin for the year but it is sort of enough satin for a full year :) 

Attended a Hunter Pace

Even more than the show this felt like a big accomplishment. Katai trailered well and was only minority nervous to handle and then she handled the pace like a champion. The amazingly large ribbon we won just felt like a really big deal and like the work we've been putting in and the strength of our relationship was finally being recognized. It wasn't needed but it was so, so nice.

Sort of a picture of the new facility?

Moved to a barn that I LOVE with an upper level instructor

Let's be honest, I've loved pretty much all of the barns I've boarded at and I still miss L but none has felt as much like home as this one does. It's just so cozy and quiet and having Jane as both an instructor and as the barn owner/manager is just so nice. Because there are so few horses and so few boarders she does really nice things like turning the horses out in the indoor arena on cold days and really customizing the care for each horse.

I don't have any pictures of Katai being ridable
but will be doing more with that this year!

Ending the Year With a Ridable Pony

This is the best thing that happened in 2016 and it didn't really happen until the last few months in 2016. For most of the time that I've had Katai she's had so much tension, so much forward, so much pony sass, and so much attitude that she's been a really tough ride. As soon as I'd start to get good forward and connection she'd lose it and I'd have to work for another 5-10 minutes to get it back. It normally meant that I only had a ridable pony for about 10-20 minutes during my 45 minute lesson and that made progress tough. For multiple reasons, I think, it's gotten SO MUCH BETTER in the last few months and Katai has been so consistent that I can not only make progress with her but I've been able to really work on myself.