Friday, March 31, 2017

First Day at World Cup Finals: Grand Prix

Certainly a rainy, dreary drive getting to Omaha!
I had an amazing first day at the World Cup Finals in Omaha! It was a rainy, gloomy day outside so that much better to be spending it at the event center. I got there around 11:00 with my mom in tow and started out by doing some shopping. There were some amazing brands there that I wouldn't normally get the chance to look at and try on so I was taking full advantage.

So far I haven't found anything that I "need" but there's still some time left ;)

Amazing boots
Prior to the show starting I also met Stephanie from Hand Gallop! She's the first blogger that I've met and it was so great to talk with her.  It was fun being able to talk about the amazing people in the blogging community and I may try to join in on a Rolex trip for next year! I was also eyeing some of the breeches at the booth she was working at so I'll be back on Saturday to try some on including a very cute pair of bright pink ones #adultponyriderftw

Then my mom and I got our seats for the Grand Prix. I really, truly enjoyed it and it's the first event of this level that I've ever been present at. Our seats were fairly high up but they were actually pretty good and it was nice to be able to have a birds eye view of the whole arena. It also made watching the geometry really easy since we were looking down from above.

I got some very cool, if tiny, pictures of some of the competitors. I feel like Mister X won the adorableness category but Laura Graves and Edward Gal were my favorite riders. Both were just so smooth and quiet. Laura Graves showed second to last and was in first place with just Isabell Werth to go. I had my fingers crossed but also knew how unlikely it would be for her to place over Isabell and I was right, Isabell showed last and came in with the only score over 80 of the night. She was so precise and wonderful but I personally still think that Laura should have won.

Laura Graves!!! She had my favorite ride but tough to beat Isabell Werth
It was completely amazing to be there no matter who won though and I can't wait to attend the Freestyle on Saturday!

After the competition I walked to Starbucks and saw this poster. So cool!!!
I had thought of getting tickets to show jumping on Friday but my mom was already getting a little tired of watching this and since we've already got tickets to the Freestyle on Saturday we decided to check out the Omaha Zoo tomorrow and do some other sightseeing.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Third Time's The Charm: Lesson Recap 3/28

I'm blogging from Omaha, NE right now but we just got here late last night and haven't been over to the Century Link Center yet so other than a late and rainy drive I don't have much to share yet. So EXCITED to be here though!

At any rate I wanted to recap my lesson on Tuesday because after an ok lesson last Saturday and a decent lesson the Tuesday before this one felt really great.

Katai certainly didn't have much energy and Jane always has a lot of empathy for her (Jane says no sympathy, just empathy :) so she kept it pretty easy during the warm up and gave her lots of walk breaks. After a nice walk warm up with some head to the wall leg yields and a bit of trot when we took a walk break Katai dramatically threw on the breaks and scratched her head on her leg. Jane started laughing that Katai was rearranging her hair and then said that Kati would be "one of those girls that take selfies all the time". We both started giggling pretty hard at that point because she absolutely nailed Katai's attitude.

After some of the best, most consistant canter that we've ever had (again Jane was pretty gentle with us and didn't do much) she had us do some shoulder in. It went ok, it's been way too long since I've worked on it (my fault really but also the two weeks off) so I was really on the struggle bus and couldn't get my aids to work together. Jane took pity on me and gave us a walk break. I was thinking we were maybe done but she asked if we'd like to do some haunches in and since I was hungry for a second chance I went for it.

I struggled through the first direction but going to the left we NAILED it down the entire long side. It felt amazing and Jane said it looked perfect! We did a bit of stretchy trot and then called it there.

My main take away was that I need to get her more forward off my leg. Most of the time she's like a run away freight train which means I constantly have the brakes on. I get used to not needing to use my forward aids strongly but on days like Tuesday she needs more forward and I need to use them more. I'm also realizing that this might have something to do with our transition struggle since if she's not used to me using my leg it might be more of a big deal to her when I do use my legs.

The other really exciting thing is that Jane mentioned at the end of my lesson that we're going to work on half pass again next time and we're going to start doing shallow loop serpentines! I'm so, so excited and I've been wondering when we're going to start introducing counter canter. Not that we could start it when her canter with the correct lead was a hot mess but I've been looking forward to starting some counter canter work so I'm excited that we're finally there!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Time for Trailer Practice

Random pictures today, sorry for the lack of media!
This empty room is becoming the man cave
he even had his rawhide in there for awhile
My plan for Sunday was to take it a little easier from a dressage work perspective and to work Katai outside and lunge her. However, it ended up being a cold dreary and windy day so Katai was pretty amped up and I decided to ride instead.

My parent's barn has been steadily falling down over the past few years
 I had a great, if short, ride and the resident trainer (not Jane but the person who rides her young horse) was there and riding one of the training horses so it was great practice for Katai. At the last barn there were routinely other horses in the arena with us but here there aren’t so she was a little excited about it. I was able to keep her attention though with my new riding skills and she was really a good girl and didn’t have any tantrums to speak of.

You can still see a cross tie hanging there :)
Then Monday ended up being beautifully warm and sunny with temperatures in the upper 50s. It was SO NICE!! I decided to use it to my advantage and took Katai for a walk around the trailers. It’s pretty muddy out and the trailer wasn’t hooked up or in a particularly good place so I didn’t even open the door the full way, just got Katai walking around outside.

 We had some hairy moments.

Katai is much fitter than she was so between the passage, rearing, and (this is new) striking out it was like trying to handle a very fuzzy white dragon but I was really proud of how I handled it. I was able to stay really calm and soft and gentle with her but was very firm about keeping her out of my space and not letting her just barge ahead. We had a couple of discussions but they were “quieter” than they would have been in the past. I also stuck with it longer and walked her around a few times and stuck it out by the trailers for a while. We ended with a pony that was stilled amped but quieter and listening.
My amazing fellow boarder printed out this
calendar and marked the shows she's thinking about on it!
Frankly, it’s the first time she’s been out there since December so I don’t blame her for being feisty about it. My goal for the next month or so is just to get her lots of exposure to the outdoors as well as to the trailer. Before I even start working on loading again I want her to be calm near the back of the trailer with the doors open as normally that’s been getting her so freaked out that even thinking about trying to get her loaded is silly. If we can at least get there then I’m not as worried about actually getting her loaded.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Makeup: Lesson Recap 3/27 and Weekend Updates

I had a great makeup lesson on Saturday. Katai was really a good little pumpkin but wasn't completely sure she wanted to work on the canter. It's gone from a gait that we never do and therefore exciting to a gait that's a lot of work so the first time I asked her to canter in each direction I got some pretty good ponytechnics with lots of bucking.

To get the canter we cued for it out of leg yield once we hit the wall at the end of the arena and she did pretty well in one direction but was pretty stiff to the other side and didn't want to flex to the left at all.

 We did a bit of lateral work and also got the alignment better than we have. Overall though, while Katai was trying she was just unwilling to flex to the left and wanted to retract her neck.

Jane and I also had a great time talking about the FEI World Cup and I'm getting even more excited to be there!
Also baked some amazing banana bread!!
After my lesson I went to my parent's farm and worked with my dad on my tack locker. He's made some progress this spring with some of the smaller things that needed time between (for the glue to dry) since it was just slowing our process down too much but we made a bunch more progress on Saturday when I was there.

Door with polo wrap shelves
The main part of the cabinet
These drawers go in the right side of the cabinet. 
I can't wait to get the building part done now so that I can start to decorate it haha.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Attack of the GIFs

I really enjoy seeing everyone’s GIFs and it’s such a nice way to see clips of a ride without needing to watch through a whole video so I decided to make some of my own. Not the best video but hopefully you can kind of see what's going on.


 On Thursday I had a ride planned with Katai and initially planned to work on reinforcing my forward cues. Katai moves off one leg or the other very well but ever since we started to introduce the concept of lateral work she is extremely resistant to my leg cues to go forward. This results in lots of giraffe-ing, sometimes bucking, and my favorite *dripping sarcasm* when she just completely stops and refuses to move.

We’ve tried being firm, we’ve tried being gentle, we’ve tried whip reinforcement, etc. but nothing has really worked. I think it’s a combination of pony stubbornness, feeling overwhelmed with pressure (asking to go forward into a giving hand with both legs rather than one apparently fries pony brains), and sometimes maybe a little muscle soreness/tiredness. Just the day before I’d watched this video and there were two big things that stuck out to me.

One was, although I know this and we’ve tried it, the insistence that the horse listen to forward. Ultimately I shouldn’t feel bad about it, she just needs to go when I ask for it. It doesn’t need to be pretty she just needs to go. The other was the concept of still concentrating on the outside rein even to the direction that the horse has a tougher time bending to. This is what Jane is coaching but in a slightly different format and I’ve probably still been asking for too much inside bend to the left. This helped me realize that I need to focus more on the shoulder and not losing it to the outside rather than having an equal bend to the inside as what I have to the right.

At any rate I planned to work on reinforcing forward during my ride on Thursday. I knew that she’d be a tired from our lesson on Tuesday so I kind of thought she’d be in full on refusal mode which would likely have the most impact. I was going to throw the reins at her completely, ask gently, and then quickly escalate my aids until I got a nice forward reaction. Then, a missing piece, I was going to practice it a lot during that ride and not give up. I also carried a dressage whip so that just in case she completely ignored my strong kicks (it’s happened in the past) I could reinforce with the dressage whip as well. After all of that, I cued for the trot and got this.


No fireworks, no giraffe-ing. Even better, I got the same reaction twice and during the entire ride I never got a no reaction. A couple of things were different including the completely loose rein. She’s great with her transitions in side reins on the lunge so clearly I’m doing something (or she just doesn’t feel like I can reinforce my aids from the saddle, the bugger). I also was working on changes within the walk and asking for a larger walk, I’m wondering if maybe she sometimes just feels surprised by my forward cues but because I’d set her up better this time she was more willing.

Things to think about anyway!

Then later I got this sort of cute "no" response to cantering. Poor pony was tired. If there were volume you'd hear me giggling at her :)


We went right back to canter after that and had a good canter in both directions but she needed to express her dislike of the situation. Pony was clearly tired though so we kept it pretty short.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

So Thrilled!

That I’m going to the FEI World Cup in Omaha! This is quite last minute as it just became official yesterday but I’m so completely excited.

I’d made it my goal to go to Rolex this year but it just didn’t work out with my budget. However, with the ability to drive to Omaha (it’s under a 6 hour drive from where I live) and after finding a cheap AirBnB I decided to do this one. Ultimately, while Rolex would be AMAZING this is dressage specific which is pretty darn cool, as is the fact that it’s typically not in the US.

 I was able to con my mom into coming with me which means we'll be able to share driving duties and split some of the expenses. Right now we have tickets for the Grand Prix on Thursday and the Freestyle on Saturday. I’d like to attend showjumping on Friday as well but I may wait until we get there and see if we can pick up tickets rather than buying ahead.

 I’m going to take lots of pictures and do lots of shopping and the time off and with my mom will be so wonderful.

I’m also curious if any other bloggers will be there? If so, it would be fun to meet people. Let me know and I’ll send you my email address so that we can figure out a time and place to meet

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Back to Work: Lesson Recap 3/21

Just something a little different until I can get more riding footage

After missing two lessons I’ll admit to having a bit of anxiety as I drove to the barn for my lesson this Tuesday. Partially that was just the fact that when I mounted up on Saturday for my first ride back it felt pretty foreign after two weeks off. Part of it was also just not feeling especially confident about how Katai would behave after the time off and the cold front we were dealing with that day.

 At any rate when I got to the barn she was quiet and easy to get groomed and tacked up. I later learned that she’d been a hellion for Jane when Jane led her back to the barn but she really behaved well in the barn and also for my lesson so maybe she got rid of all of the shenanigans on her own. 

Jane’s early assessment was that between the cold and the time off Katai needed a long warmup and lots of work to get her bending. We had a REALLY nice warmup with her and she was on the bit right away and stretching down and forward rather than doing a giraffe impression. After a fairly long walk warmup we went to trot and Jane wanted me to really focus on getting the contact on both reins and really using my outside rein appropriately. I think we both expected some fireworks because contact on both reins can put so much pressure on pony mare brains but she was right with us the whole time. She never once got upset and, while I needed to keep the contact fairly active at first to show her what I wanted, we got to a place pretty quickly where she was consistently on both reins. It was a great feeling!

 After that we did some leg yields but Jane wanted more crossover than we were getting. I think Katai was slightly stiff and after running around like a goofball all day probably just didn’t feel like using herself. We switched to head to the wall leg yields to help with the crossover. I really struggled but then once I got it at the walk Jane had us do it at the trot. That was way too tough for my brain so after a few good moments (that were really total mistakes on my part since I still couldn’t quite figure out what I was doing) we took a walk break and then went to canter.

We worked on spirals at the canter again and Jane really had me focus on getting my body to bend/turn the correct way and not to collapse or lean. Katai did REALLY well with these! I really think the work with the Vienna reins has been paying off and, of course, all of our ridden canter work is paying off as well. Our transitions were all pretty good, I was able to keep my position pretty well, especially to the left, and overall this exercise went way better on Tuesday than it has in the past. It’s still a bit of a struggle for me but practice makes perfect :)

I have some great homework to work on, including more of those leg yields along the wall, but tonight will be another night off and then I'll ride/lunge/do a spa day Thursday-Sunday. I've got a make up lesson on Saturday so I'll have another recap this weekend!

I’ve also got an exciting announcement to share soon!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Long Time, No Post

Last week was nuts. Opening a new site like that just is, especially when you’ve got 25+ brand new employees being trained in a site that is still being moved into. Add to that the fact that I had some short nights, early mornings, and I didn’t sleep that well and I’m still exhausted even after a nice quiet weekend. Pretty much the only thing I did outside of relaxing at home was grocery shopping and going to the barn.

I made it out both Saturday and Sunday and Katai was so good! On Saturday I rode (after lunging :) and just focused on forward, stretching, and lots of bending and flexion. I did a bit of lateral work but otherwise just kept it simple at walk, trot, and canter. Her canter, though, was seriously the best it’s been. I guess the two weeks off was a good break for her! She was really moving forward rather than up into the transitions and was stretchy and carrying herself. Her back felt great and solidly strong and she was really through rather than just running with her legs. I tried to get some video but I must have not pushed record because I didn’t get anything.
On Sunday I just lunged with the Vienna reins both because I just couldn’t function still (so tired and I had a headache) and because with the weather and the fact that I was working Katai during the day when she was going to be in the barn by herself, I knew that it would just be a better idea. After one small blow up at the beginning she worked really well and I got more brilliant canter and some really nice open, forward trot.

I’ve recently really started to enforce voice cues. I’ve used different clicks (smooch for canter etc.) but never really enforced voice cues before. She was sort of figuring it out before the break but she must have been doing her homework because this weekend she was spot on with my cues about 75% of the time and the 25% was just that it took me giving the vocal cue twice or needing to reinforce with a slight whip cue.

It was great to see her moving so well after the break and now I just need to be careful about putting her back to work so that I don’t immediately cause her to have sore muscles. I did sign her up for a massage on 4/2 again so she’ll be in good shape going into the show season. I also shared my contact info with my fellow boarder since she’ll likely be my ride to shows this year. It’s so exciting to be making progress towards doing more shows!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Work Trip

I haven't, and probably won't, had time to to do any touristy things
but thanks to being in the back of an Uber I got this picture.

The good news is that on Saturday when I lunged Katai she looked so much better! Not only did she seem to be over her mare issues but the break had done her some good and she looked loose and relaxed but strong.

The bad news is that as of [VERY] early this morning I'm in Seattle for a whole week...

The timing could have been better but I'm glad that she's feeling better and a little vacation will probably do both of us some good.

It's in the 50s here and since it dropped back down to the single digits at home it's a nice break even if it is typical rainy Seattle. Oddly enough I haven't had to deal with rain much when I've been here so far so it looks like this week is going to make up for it.

We're opening a new site and I'm here to train the 30+ employees I hired :)
Usually I have a rental car but this time I don't so I probably won't be able to get to the other tack shop that I'd like to visit. I will be back in April/May though so likely I'll be able to do that then!

In the meantime I don't think I'll have much to blog about for the next week, or much time to blog, so it will probably be pretty quite until next weekend. I already can't wait to get back and see my girl!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

#mareproblems Continues

My poor mare is really having a tough time. I got out there tonight hoping that she would be feeling better but she was a bit worse. The ointment did what it's supposed to and is keeping her from chaffing but it is making the mess on her back legs even worse.

I got her cleaned up and then went to groom her but she was so sensitive around her lower back that she was tossing her head and pinning her ears with just me lightly brushing her. I gave her some bute and cleaned her stall and gave her another night off.

Her stall had clearly been soaked but my BM had added a bunch of extra bedding and done a late night cleaning which isn't typical. It's so frustrating knowing that she's uncomfortable and that there isn't anything I can do. If this didn't happen each spring I'd already have called the vet and I certainly will be if she doesn't seem better over the next day or two. Unfortunately this is just pretty typical for her and when I've talked to vets they haven't had any ideas beyond what I'm doing for her already.

Our weird weather this year certainly isn't helping. Fingers crossed that she's feeling way better tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

March Goals Fail

He's just such a little prince
So far I have not been doing well with my goals for March. I haven't done a great job of getting to the barn or blogging.

The lack of riding has been mainly due to weather and a tired pony but last night there was a return of #mareproblems and Katai was sore and extremely in heat. I got her cleaned up and coated in diaper rash ointment and I think I caught it soon enough but I did cancel my lesson tonight. My plan is to go to the barn Wednesday-Saturday and then I fly out early on Sunday for a work trip to Seattle.

So tough to get pictures of her when she wants to just follow me around :)
I'll be gone for about a week so Katai will get a nice break and then we'll be back to working on our goals once I get back. I'm not looking forward to this work trip, it's going to be stressful and busy, and will be really missing Katai but I always enjoy Seattle!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Treat Yo Self Thursday, Lesson Recap: 2/28, and Weekend Update

I've had a good week of rides but I didn't make it to my goal this week. With the seasonal change in full swing I've had some headaches (I have a lead on a really good PT that I'm going to try out to see if that helps) and was feeling like I was getting a cold again so I ended up taking it a little easier. Also, at my lesson last Tuesday Katai was a little short in the right front. I wondered if it was just a sore muscled but she was pretty short still on Thursday after a day off on Wednesday so I decided to give her Friday off as well.

She's had some Thrush so that was my first thought and my second was just that she's been working pretty hard and had some soreness and time off would be good.

It turned out that the combination of additional Thrush treatment and a bit of a break meant that she felt amazing on Saturday and was quite the speedy pony.

Back to Tuesday, I had another great lesson! Again, Jane called out movements and I did them and we worked on things along the way. We started with nose to the wall leg yield at the walk which was really helpful and Katai really seemed to figure out what we want. Since then her leg yield has been great and she's really crossing over.

After that we did some trot work and then canter. During the trot work we got the best lengthening that I've had! It was so cool to feel her shift into that higher gear again :) Our canter work was tougher but not bad. She wasn't struggling strength wise, just not wanting to be straight or on the bit. we worked on getting flexion at the canter and I had some of the best trot/canter transitions that I've had. Finally we did some more shoulder in. I'm slowly figuring it out and will keep right on chipping away at it.

Then on Thursday my local tack shop had their 35th anniversary sale. I was invited as a "special customer" to shop the pre-sale on Thursday afternoon. I shopped but am very proud of myself that I didn't find anything that I "needed" enough to buy.

However, I've been wanting to make a trip to the tack shops on the west side which are Dover and a place called Coach House Equestrian. Coach house is my favorite tack shop and Dover has enough variety that it's a great place to try on clothing.

Coach House shopping!

So many cute things!
I ended up not going to Dover just because I found something I really liked and used up the money I'd budgeted on it. So much adulting!

Finally found my show shirt!
I didn't end up buying the shirt though, instead I got a spring jacket. I've been envious of the Rolex jacket that one of my friends has but I found a Longines Show Jumping Ariat jacket that's similar. It was on clearance for less than the shirt and it was the last one so I got that instead.

Then, that evening I had a great ride! Katai was quite hot, mainly because I was doing some work to reinforce my forward aids. Recently she's been ignoring them and freezing up so this time I corrected her each time, rather than just waiting her out, and that made her pretty fizzy. I still got some amazing work including some really, really good leg yields. Also, even though she was fizzy she never really lost it, she was just forward and I just was calm and went with her but still kept getting her slowed down/kept her slow so it was a great ride :)

Look at that lipstick :)
Then, today my plan was to do another Sunday Spa Day but I woke up with a really horrible headache/stomach ache. I really think that all this crazy weather is messing with me. At any rate I ended up laying on the couch watching tv for most of the day and by the time I felt up to doing anything I needed to get chores done to prepare for the week.

My favorite recent vegan meal :)
Since I'm flying out next weekend I'm going to plan to be there every day this week and Saturday (obviously not riding every day) so that she's ready for a week off.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

February Goals Review and March Goals

Blurry photos courtesy of my phone
Missing my Cube!

February Goals:

"Ride her Neck":

This had to do with really riding and keep her contact and flexion more consistent. Rather than losing my concentration and just letting her bum along for half of the arena Jane wanted me to keep it more actively.

This has been good!! It's not that I'm at 100% but I've been doing a lot better and, wouldn't you know, now that I'm more consistent she's figured out what's "right" and keeps it better herself.

Ride More:

My goal was 6 days per week and mostly I'm really happy with this!! I may not have been riding 6 days per week but I have been to the barn 6 days per week pretty consistently in February. I haven't been riding 6 days (which wasn't really the goal, more like work her 6 days per week) but she's had spa days, lunge workouts, and at least 3 rides per week.

Improve That Pesky Right Leg:

Meh, this one is going to be a long term thing since I know it's not going to be "fixed" in a month but I didn't really make as much progress as I wanted to in February. I'll be

Pats for the pony :)

Goals for March:

Let Go During Lateral Work:

It's crazy how things work out but only a day after I'd read this amazing post by A Enter Spooking, Jane worked with me on not juggling so many balls in the lateral work and just letting Katai be unless she was doing something wrong. It was a huge lightbulb moment for me so now I want to try to replicate it for my rides without all of the coaching from Jane.

For some reason I find this photo so cute!!

Structure Rides More Carefully:

I've been getting some good work during my rides but I know I'm not always structuring them as well as I could be. For March I want to make sure that I'm doing stretchy rides in between more collected work rides. I also want to figure out before my ride what my main items to work on are so that I don't end up doing a bunch of random stuff that doesn't work together.

Work on Trailer Loading:

So far our weather has been unseasonably warm so I'm hoping that continues which will mean that I'll be able to work on trailer loading. I'm really planning/hoping to do quite a few shows this year (more on that later) which means that the pony needs to be able to load.

Our halts are getting better :)

Ride More:

I'm keeping this at least one more month. Again, the goal is to be at the barn 6 days a week which I think will be easier now that it's getting lighter out earlier :)


With my current decision to move I didn't have to think that long to decide which barn I would move to if I could. The barn I'm movi...