Sunday, April 30, 2017

Horse Expo Haul and Video

I had a great time this weekend! 

First, the horse expo on Friday was fun. Last year I had high expectations and was disappointed with how little there was to do or shop for now that I have more specialized tack and the expo is at least 80% western focused. This year I had lower expectations and therefore more fun. I also ran into a friend (my landlord from back when I first got Katai), ate some kettle corn, and bought some great stuff at the tack swap.

Other than the kettle corn this is the extent of my shopping this year
 $16 for the whole pile of books :)
I believe I've mentioned that I've been trying to collect the library books that I read as a kid. Unfortunately most of them are out of print so even if I knew the names of the books or the authors it still may be tough to find them but since I don't even know that my best bet has been searching through used book stores or (especially) picking up books at this tack swap.

A few years ago at this swap I found my "holly grail".

Complete with dust cover, I have SOOO many amazing memories
of reading through this book as a kid and dreaming of having my own horse some day

Plus it's got a couple really old photos of George Morris!! Pretty cool :)

This time I found the other book I'd been looking for. This was my other favorite when I was growing up. It's back in print but I really wanted the old hard cover version and even better, this was once a library book which makes it even sweeter!

I loved all of the Billy and Blaze books but this is my favorite.
I also had great rides on Friday and Saturday and today Katai got an easier work out on the lunge. She's been very slightly short on her right front. Both Jane and I think it's more muscle soreness (and possibly a bit of Thrush) and nothing more serious and you can see here that it comes and goes a bit but she did pick up the incorrect (left) lead twice and she NEVER does that. Because of that she might get a quiet day or a day off tomorrow rather than another ride.


Otherwise I've been doing a great job with riding at least 4 times a week and have been to the barn 5-6 times a week :)

This video is of Katai lunging and our trailer loading improvement from a couple of weeks ago. This is just a small clip and she was in an out a bunch more times that day. We've practiced once since that day and I'm hoping to put in some more practice this next week as well.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Importance of a Name

Names are extremely important to me. I love picking then out and always want them to have meaning for me as well as being unique, pretty, and not too difficult to spell or say. When I first got Katai she was a project so I didn't use the names I was saving for MY horse at that point, instead I had my mom help.

I still remember sitting at the MN Renaissance Festival with my mom and having her give me the name of a character in a book by Jim Butcher that she had just read. She spelled it out for me, as Katai, on a small piece of paper and I liked the way it looked and sounded as well as the information she gave me about the character. To my mom's credit, she told me to check the spelling but I didn't and just went ahead with that name.

Awhile later when I read the book I realized that my mom had misspelled it and it was actually spelled Kitai. At that point I looked up the meaning of both words.


Well yeah, I probably would have chosen the second but at that point Katai was stubborn and it was so completely adorably cute that my mom had mistakenly named my pony stubborn that I stuck with the spelling she'd given me.

Then as Katai started to improve I started to look forward to coming up with a show name for her. I've always loved the idea of a show name and barn name and the beautiful thing about an unregistered horse was that I'd get to pick out whatever I wanted. I let it go for quite awhile since I wasn't showing but now that I'm at a place where I was ready to come up with something it almost felt too late. I care so much about it since I love Katai so much and wanted something absolutely perfect so it was starting to feel like I couldn't possibly come up with anything good enough for her. 

Won't be long and we'll be back here, this time hopefully with a bit more  relaxation :)
However, this past week I got the idea to crowd source it! I posted on a pony group that I'm part of on Facebook. One of my online friends posted the name Kaida which means little dragon. I ABSOLUTELY loved it but it was so similar and just as short that I decided it wouldn't work. So, now that's a name that I want for my next pony :) Kaida and Katai would be pretty cute (and so adorably confusing haha)

Then another person posted the name Kireina Katai. I loved that it had her name as part of it and since Kireina means beautiful it's sort of like she's named beautifully stubborn which is completely perfect for both of us. I also love the way it sounds kee-ray-nuh kah-ty which is a good bonus. So I'm going with that! I know that the announcer may struggle with it but honestly they might struggle with any name and I'll just spell it phonetically to make it as easy as possible.

I can't wait to send in the entry form with her new show name and at some point get her a new halter plate for her show halter.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Rolex(ish) Weekend

My last visit to the KY Horse Park featured slightly smaller equines 
I had really wanted to go to Rolex this year but when I had the opportunity to pay off some credit cards (and save some money to do some more dressage shows this year) I decided to do that instead. However, I didn't give up completely and decided to plan a fun weekend at home.

Rolex weekend happens to occur during the same weekend of our local horse expo so I'd taken Friday off at the beginning of the year and have had fun planning some other fun things over the past few weeks.

For Friday I'm planning to go to the horse expo and shop the tack swap. It may not be Rolex shopping but it is cheap! I found my Baker show sheet there for $15 and a pair of pony sized no-bows for $3. Mostly it's just sort of fun to dig through piles and piles of tack for pony sized deals. I'm also getting my tack locker dropped off here by my dad which means that I'll be able to work on that this weekend!
This could be fun to watch at the expo

Some of the other things I'm planning to do are;

  • buy vegan versions of my favorite fair foods and make them at home
  • shop for some of the things that I need to finish my tack locker
  • shop at my favorite local tack shop which won't be at the expo but will be having a 20% off expo sale
  • ride and spend a lot of time at the barn :)
  • watch as much expo footage as possible
  • work on memorizing my dressage tests for the show at the end of May
  • possibly do some online shopping for a few things I need 
It may not be Rolex but it's going to be a really fun weekend!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

More Bend: Lesson Recap 4/25

No new media so you get some classic dressage photos
I had a GREAT lesson yesterday. It was really cool to hear Jane feels we're ready for more and that she was really putting more pressure on me to really get more, more trot, more bend, more straight etc. Just doing this stuff isn't enough anymore, now she wants us to do it better :)

The main themes were getting Katai more forward and more bent and round. We started at the walk and Jane wouldn't let us trot until we nailed the transition. Then we worked on serpentines and really focused on getting Katai more in front of my leg with bigger, more forward strides but needed to really nail the bend The. Whole. Time.

and I think keeping the bend with both legs is hard
It was so tough!

After we got that Jane had me do a spiral in and out on a 20 meter circle at the trot and really focus on maintaining the bend. Katai is so quick and wiggly that it's easy for me to lose the bend at multiple points around the circle and that's not really doing anything for either of us. She told me not to let Katai "evict" my inside leg and that it needed to find home (bend) and stay there even if the pressure of "there" varied.

We did a bit of lateral work and I got the alignment on the leg yields better but this time we were also really focusing on maintaining the roundness so that she needed to use her back appropriately.

Then we worked on the canter. Since this was Katai's third day in a row she was a little tired and sore so the canter didn't have as much oomf as it has. She was extremely willing though which was really nice. We did some shoulder in, across the diagonal and then picked up the canter. I only got the wrong lead once and that was completely my fault for not preparing her correctly. We also did some shallow serpentine counter canter work but since she was tired we only got a couple in each direction before she ran out of gas.


Finally after one last walk break we worked on some haunches in. It took a couple of times but we finally got a couple of really good ones in each direction with the proper bend, coming through her rib cage. After that we did a couple of lengthening across the diagonal and because of the looseness she'd gained through the shoulder it was pretty fancy. I was so proud of both of us!

We also talked a little about the show at the end of May and the plan right now is for me to do Intro C and a Training level test. I'm really excited to try this again and to be even thinking about doing Training at our first show of the year. I also can't wait to get a redo on intro C and hopefully score above 35% lol.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Princess and The P(olos)

She's just the cutest princess ever :)
Katai is most certainly a princess and most certainly very, very clear about when she doesn't like something. When she was younger I mostly just made her deal with it and she got lots of tough love. However, as she's grown and developed into a really well behaved riding pony who pretty much deals with everything I throw at her I've started to take a softer stance on the things that she still doesn't like. For fly spray I just spray it on a mitt and rub it on her (which she still objects to but not as much) and there isn't much else she doesn't like.

However, she was occasionally objecting to her PoH dressage boots. I always figured it was more due to them meaning she was going to be doing work or that she was too hormonal to handle them. When I started using the Hufglocken boots she clearly wasn't a fan and would pick up her feet or move away like she used to with the PoH boots, however she did that every time I put them on rather than more randomly like she was. I kept on using them figuring she'd get over it but her behavior kept getting worse to the point where she was nipping at me and pinning her ears.

Exactly how I feel after a big meal
I finally wised up, took the hint and stopped using them. In fact, I don't think I'll be able to continue to use them with her so I'll probably need to find them a new home which is so sad because they are so cute!! Since that point I was so sick of dealing with her being unhappy about her boots that I've started to use polos with her and it's made a HUGE difference. She's entirely stopped objecting to me putting them on and her riding is calmer as well. Every once in awhile when we transitions to canter she used to leap forward or kick out, probably because she caught the boot on her other hind leg or something (sounds like something I'd do when I'm running really) but now thats stopped. I will still use the PoH boots but mostly I'm going to be using polos with her since that's clearly what she prefers.


Then there is the whole sensitive princess ulcer thing.

*Public Service Announcement* I realize that she's not being a sensitive princess and that she was hurting. The thought of that hurts me. I'm really glad I figured it out (finally) and am doing something about it so please don't take this the wrong way. *Public Service Announcement Over*

The ulcer meds have been making a HUGE difference. Katai has been completely back to her sweet self and the constantly pinned ears, reactivity to being touched, and general crabbiness is gone. Or was until tonight however I'm pretty sure that she was both in heat and maybe feeling like this was going to be a lot of work since this was her third ridden day in a row. Yay for goals!

I'm hoping that she's back to being her happy perky eared self for my ride on Thursday.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Weekend Update

Well, I feel like I haven't blogged in awhile now but I don't have any good excuse. On Saturday I attended the MN March for Science.



The turnout was great, it was fun, and the weather was AMAZING!!



Unfortunately I ended up with a headache and so I didn't go to the barn that day and instead ended up laying around on the couch watching NCIS.

On Sunday I went to the barn in the morning and had a great ride. Jane had moved a couple of horses to a pen at the end of the arena and had the sliding door open so Katai was quite keyed up. I used it to my advantage to test our improved relationship and my new skills. By keeping her really bent and moving off my leg at that end I had a very ridable pony. In fact it was fun because she was more forward and up in front of me. I had memorized first level test 1 the previous evening so I played with bits of that test, cuing for the canter at C for example. Unfortunately now that we've been working so much on the canter and canter transitions Katai is throwing that transition in when I want her to lengthen her trot across the diagonal. Oh well, something to work on.

After that we worked on the trailer again. This is our 4th or 5th time now, I've sort of lost track. At any rate last time we practiced things really clicked and Katai did an AMAZING job. This time Jane had moved the trailer to right in front of the barn, had it hooked up to the truck, and had removed the divider so it's completely open. With those changes (and Jane and her SO working nearby) I kind of thought she might regress a bit. However, she walked right in at least 5-6 times and although she was dancey (she was actually doing a bit of Piaffe) she wasn't as nervous as she has been in the past. At one point I heard Jane's SO yell "See! She's ready for I-2". I giggled but Jane was studying Katai and nodding her head so it must have been a decent, if very trailer induced piaffe. Then Katai threw in some Levade for good measure. She was definitely more stressed on the trailer with everything going on but she would immediately calm down once I took her out so that's huge progress.

After that I went to my parents and my dad and I finished up this!


It is so, so cool and I can't wait to load it with all my tack. It still needs to be sanded and finished but my dad will be bringing it to my place on Friday and then I'll be able to work on it whenever I like rather than making the 1.5 hour drive to my parent's place. 

It's only been about a year and a half in the making :) It's been an amazing project with my dad and now I'm trying to figure out what else I can work on with him.

With my sister and dad for scale, it's big!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Simple: Lesson Recap 4/19

Apparently I had some sort of weird premonition about working on the simple changes through trot on the diagonal because that's one of the things that we worked on with Katai in my lesson this week.

All our crazy weather caused this
humidity cloud inside the arena the other night
We started off with a slightly stiff pony so our main priority was getting her loosened up through her shoulders. We did some leg yield at the walk (I'm STILL on the struggle bus with these) and then did some work at the trot. We didn't do much before we went to canter since we're still trying to mix things up with Katai and the last couple of times we've ended with canter.

We did a lot of canter in this lesson and Katai just kept right on going! She only broke once and then when I cued for her to pick it back up she went right into it. We started with some 20 meter circles and spirals in. Then Jane had me do some simple changes (very simple ;) since we trotted almost all the way across the diagonal).

On our way to this ;)
Katai did SOOO well! I was able to get her to pick up the canter at the letter Jane wanted with very few extra trot steps and she never once got sassy or picked up the wrong lead. She did get more forward and started rushing a bit but with some help from Jane and better riding from me we got it contained and just had more energy which was good. Then we went straight to counter canter and again Katai kept right on going and let me figure things out without ever saying no or putting a foot wrong. We did some shallow serpentines in each direction, I did better going to the right so I have my homework, and then she got a well deserved walk break.

My tiny dog is even cuter when he's sun bathing

I was already SOOO proud of her but then we went to sitting trot and did some shoulder in. We finally NAILED it in both directions. We had everything right, she wasn't fighting me, I kept her round and forward, and didn't flop all over the place. IT WAS AWESOME.

Finally we did some stretchy trot and quit. It was a fairly short lesson since we spent so much time at the canter and knew that she'd be a tired pony but it felt great.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Of Questionable Taste

I thought I'd share a few of the things that have caught my eye over the last couple of months including a few things that I'd actually buy ;)

I'm going to start with the things that I'll admire from afar and get to the things that I'm actually kind of interested in.

Things that would cause Jane to disown me:

I have to admit that I'd want to be friends with anyone wearing this
but I'm not quite confident enough to pull it off

I've shared these before but just a bit too blingy for me

Yep, that's a huge cartoon unicorn head on a cooler

Things that would only give Jane a minor heart attack:

This is all perfect but my favorite are the polkadot bell boots! 

This only comes in horse size, I did actually check because I'd probably get one otherwise

Things that I might be able to fly under Jane's hunter ring radar : 

I really actually want to do this!! I've wanted boots like this
for a long time and the matching
baby pink polos and  adorable bell boots are perfect
This C4 belt would be perfect ;) for schooling shows
I am actually planning to get one of these in hot pink from Swanky Saddle for my tack locker

Monday, April 17, 2017

Weekend Update and Trailering Progress

This weekend was amazing!! Like Teresa at Journey with a Dancing Horse I used every minute and spent a lot of time outside.

Starting on Friday evening I got out to the barn and had a great ride. Katai was a little quiet and not especially forward (when I first started looking into Ulcers) which is unusual for her but she had a busy week so that's likely part of it as well. Jane also mentioned that the massage person turned up that Katai had sore hind legs/stifles and we've been working on increasing her cross over and getting her carrying in the canter so it may partially be muscle soreness too.

Plus I made vegan buddha bowls to
celebrate my 2 year vegan anniversary
Then Saturday I had another great ride. Katai was right with me and we played a couple of times with simple changes across the diagonal. She nailed the transitions and I just need to work on being more organized and less flustered but it was fun to try something new.

Finally (for the weekend), Sunday was trailer training day. You've all seen the pictures from my last post but we ended in a decent place with Katai stepping just into the trailer and off the ramp with her front feet. I was really happy with that but especially that she was stepping forward off pressure which she hasn't been the last several times I've needed to trailer her despite a lot of natural horsemanship type techniques. These were the same things that helped me originally train Katai to trailer load (which she used to do beautifully BUT with a ton of tension to the point of shaking sometimes).
Prepping the ingredients for my buddha bowls :)
Since those weren't working and with my change in training methods/mindset since working with Jane I've been trying something different this time. Mostly I'm trying to keep everything as low stress as possible. I'm not escalating at all and my only rules are that she move forward (eventually) off pressure, face the trailer, and that we make at least an inch of progress each day.

Today I brought her back out to the trailer for a continuation of yesterday's training. If anything I focused on using even less pressure than yesterday and I was SO pleased with her! She stayed really calm the whole time, almost no tension other than that she started to paw twice. Plus, she never reared up and when she pulled back and I held pressure she came right forward.

Again I asked with some pressure (barely an ounce) for her to step up into the trailer after me and she came right with me. I did lots of having her stand for a second and then backing her out, praising the heck out of her and then bringing her back in. Today we got all the way in with her back feet just barely staying on the ramp more than twice! SUCH huge progress especially with no blow ups and she was relaxed when we ended.

Then I brought her back to the barn, she walked calmly back, and then I spent the whole rest of the evening at the barn :) I lunged her (and she was great) and she wasn't as stiff or sore as I thought she might be after all of her shenanigans yesterday.  I'm certainly sore, my hands took a beating and typing was sore today at work. Then I tried braiding her!


This was my first try and I think they turned out decently well. I'll try take a bit wider sections of mane next time but otherwise I'm pleased! Also, I wondered if I could get away with using white yarn for that first braid.  The answer is no, no I can't.

Finally I stuffed her with peppermints and lots of pets, cleaned her stall, and headed home.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Well Now We Both Need Chiropractic...

A lot more like this than the other but I wanted to share the bad parts too



Not trying to pull her down, I know that's a no no.
Just keeping a gentle steady pressure until she walks forward.
It doesn't look gentle because she goes up so quick that  it takes me a second to go with.


This is her go to when she doesn't want to do something
 We got to a much better place by the end where she was standing quietly with her shoulders in the trailer and she was actually giving to pressure and stepping forward when I asked but we have a long way to go.

Also, #mindyourmelon when loading a fractious beast haha

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Crabby

Photos from our less than stellar ride tonight

Recently Katai has been crabbier than normal. Maybe not even crabbier as much as more consistently crabby. When I was riding a lot earlier in the year I was contributing it to the increase in her workload and likely some sore muscles. Then we had #mareproblems so she had that reason and a week off, then a week off when I traveled for work, Then almost a week off when I was in Omaha, and now less work since I've been having trouble getting to the barn.

Last Saturday she got shots so I knew she wouldn't be feeling her best, then she got a massage which could have made her feel a bit tender, and finally got her hooves trimmed so that could have made her feel a bit off as well. She got a quiet week but I rode (just a nice light training ride) yesterday and today (slightly more work but still I kept it short).

Pretty cool that this is now a less than stellar ride. Also, you can clearly tell that
she's thinner than she's been recently. Not unhealthy skinny,
I can just barely feel her last two ribs, but still it's a big change from before.
I was hoping she'd feel different, and there are some differences, but she pretty much seems to be sensitive in the same places. Namely she's been crabby, not as forward as normal, doesn't want me to touch her near her flank, has become girthy, and has actually lost weight to the point that she is right on the edge of her ideal weight. This is a BIG change since she's always been an extremely easy keeper and she's certainly getting enough hay and the hay is great quality. She has been getting worked more so I'm thinking of adding some additional calories but it also could be a symptom

Tonight I did some digging/research and I'm fairly certain that she's got ulcers. The statistics would support it with 60%-90% of performance horses having ulcers. Also, I've always sort of wondered since she's just a horse that stresses easily and likes her routine. Now she's also living in a stall and has her own private paddock so she's not around other horses much and doesn't get much movement. In addition, all that time where I wasn't working here meant she was moving even less than normal, we gave her some bute after she had her shots, and she had a crazy week this past week where we certainly weren't letting her follow her normal routine so her stomach might really be bothering her.

She really just wanted to retract her neck but
I'm really happy with the amount of crossover that we've been getting!
At this point with all of this adding up I've gone ahead and ordered some UlcerGuard. I'm going to give her that over the four days and if I notice a difference I'm going to add a supplement to support her gut. If I don't notice a difference I'm going to call the vet and have her tested for Lyme disease since that's the other most likely option.

I'm really hoping it's not Lyme but I also think it's unlikely. Not that it couldn't happen but I've NEVER pulled a single tick off of her. In addition I've seen horses with Lyme and they are extremely sensitive to being touched to the point of kicking their people, rearing, biting, and flipping out completely. Katai is a very sensitive flower so if she were feeling anything like that she likely wouldn't even be letting me touch her but she's been enjoying her grooming on most of her body.

Bit of a head tilt here, mare was definitely still a bit stiff.
Chiro may also be in order
I found some additional info on Vitamin E deficiency and Selenium deficiency but neither of those match as closely and when I checked her vitamin supplement it actually contains a decent amount of both so I think that's unlikely.

She's also due to be dewormed and apparently that's something that can occasionally cause similar symptoms so I'm going to get that taken care of as well.

At any rate, I've ordered UlcerGuard, a supplement that supports gut health, and some dewormer for this year and I'll post an update once I receive it later this week and have a chance to try it out.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Contrary: Lesson Recap 4/11

The title doesn't have to do with Katai being contrary but with what we asked her to do.

We started counter canter!!!! The lesson was pretty short and specific. Katai hasn't been getting worked as much with all of my traveling and her soreness plus with her shots she was still pretty sore through the neck. We worked on spiraling, getting my upper leg on, a couple of leg yields and then tried some counter canter.
My shopping trip on the way to the barn yesterday
Carrots for Katai, dried mangos for me, and doggy kibble for Veggie
I also got some stuff for braiding so that I can start to practice
First, Katai was SO GOOD!! No extra tension, excitement, or sassiness. She was just calm and trying hard to understand what I was asking. I was fumbling since it's the first time I've tried shallow serpentines at the canter and she just patiently let me figure it out.

In the end she only broke once and even to the right which is her tougher canter lead she did a great job. We also had her cantering for longer than typical and she never once refused or was sassy about that. I didn't even get a head toss or pinned ears. I actually think she sort of enjoyed playing with something new :)

I ended up getting a couple of good tries in each direction and after doing some stretchy trot we ended there.
Only in a horse barn.
It's the cheese stick next to the syringe that really kills me ;)
I'm feeling really motivated and ready to get back on track this week but unfortunately with all of her appointments I've been needing to take it easy. My plan is to pick things up seriously tomorrow and get her back on a fitness/regular riding plan.

Sorry for the random food item photos. Hopefully I can get more riding media soon!

Making a Rider

Now that we've talked about Katai I thought it would be fun to talk a little more about me and what I'm doing outside of lessons and rides to make progress.

First, I'm a HUGE proponent of rider fitness. I truly believe that if we're going to ask our horses to be athletes we should as well. That doesn't mean that we need to be out running marathons but at a minimum I want to be able to make it through a 45-60 minute lesson without becoming a burden to my instructor, clinician or horse. Not that they may not as for something at some point that wears me out but I want it to be the exception rather than the rule.

I ran Ragnar in 2014
A few years ago when I was early in my weight loss journey I started running and while I'm extremely proud of myself that I made it through I realized that running just isn't my thing. I hate it so much that I wasn't exercising at all because I felt like I needed to run and I REALLY didn't want to run.
Running pictures are always funny
Recently I've switched to just making sure I'm active. I go for long walks with my dog (and sometimes run or jog a bit), go for hikes, ride, and do body weight work outs at home. I'm happier, love it rather than trying to avoid it, and feel stronger than I have plus I'm continuing to get leaner which is a nice side effect :)

In addition I've always had really bad anterior pelvic tilt. I didn't know that's what it was but I'd always had a sore back and had a tough time not always having a really hollow back when I rode. Once I started working with Jane I started looking for answers and found some great tips and exercises to fix it. Now I'm doing the exercises in these videos along with many others and it's been making an amazing difference!



My absolute favorite workout video right now. 
I also enjoy the rest of this youtuber's videos

These changes in my strength have been a big part of the change in my position and the improvement in my riding.


I've also really changed my mindset around Katai as I've mentioned. I've become much more gentle with her thanks to Jane and we're working together as partners rather than me feeling like I need to be the instructor/leader all the time with her as the student/subordinate. I think it was partially tough for me since I've had her from the beginning when she was a baby and a brat and partially it's just a mindset that I have in general. It's been nice to change this both around Katai and in the rest of my life.

It's pretty cool when you get to improve your riding and a good therapy session when you pay for riding lessons ;)