When I read Emma's post and some of the responses to it I knew that I wanted to do a post about this. It’s something I’ve thought about a lot both from the perspective of what I need and how Katai matches that and from the perspective of what I would do differently “next time”.
However, I sat down to type this up and I struggled. I’ve drafted something at least 3-4 times now but it never really captured how I honestly feel about this and that is that Katai is perfect.
Sure I can wish and dream for something “better”, after all the grass is always greener, but ultimately Katai is the perfect horse for me which made this either the longest post or the shortest post. Instead I’ve decided to share a little about how I got here.
When I chose Katai I was in a very different place. I had found early in life what my limit was and unfortunately ended up with a lot of fear thanks to my first horse. I had conquered maybe 70% of that fear by 2012 when I got my first pony as an adult. Myshla was an incredible pony who was calm, quiet, cute, cuddly, and nearly a perfect kids pony. The only issue is that she was very forward and hadn’t been very well trained so she wasn’t very responsive to halts or half halts which made her feel a bit like a run away. The fact that she was a run away in the body of a small pony/teddy bear made it fun for me to work with her instead of scary.
When I first got her I was finally putting aside peer pressure and getting what I wanted which was a pony. She was the first horse I had after Sora and Sora had taken me on a journey that was way off the beaten path. In many ways Myshla helped me find my way back to riding dressage but even though she did that for me I quickly realized that she wasn’t going to be comfortable as my dressage pony, it just wasn’t her thing and she wasn’t built for it. She was such a perfect kids pony that I decided to find her a home with a kid and find myself a different pony.
Now (while I wouldn’t change this for the world since it would have meant not finding Katai) I maybe would have done things differently but it felt important to have a dressage pony prospect asap. So with my very tiny budget I started looking. I found Katai’s ad but kept convincing myself to skip over it. I’d had my fill of green horses with Sora and Katai was a bit shorter and possibly not as athletic as I wanted. Now I maybe would have kept Myshla for longer and saved up some additional funds but at that time I decided to go check out Katai.
That’s when something really weird happened, I went to see her and didn’t fall in love with her. I actually felt sort of meh about her and while her size felt better than I thought it would (she was at least a couple inches taller than Myshla) and I liked her brain she was also very resistant, scared, reluctant to be caught or handled, and pretty much feral. Even then I had a pretty good picture of my limits and I just wasn’t confident that I’d be able to successfully train her. I still bought her, or actually traded for her, and after one failure and multiple hours got her on the trailer and home where she proceeded to completely ignore all of the electric fencing and escape to the neighbors.
The first two years where really, really tough and I thought a lot about giving up. Ultimately what made me keep her was that there wasn’t going to be a market for a young, untrained pony and I still saw so much potential in her. My budget was still very low at that point so hiring a professional just wasn’t an option. Eventually I got through the worst of it and was able to move her to a dressage barn (with J) which felt like the right track. Now if I could go back and change anything it would just be to not ever bring her to that barn or take lessons on her with J. I learned from J but it caused issues with Katai that we’re still dealing with to this day. Things went backwards for a bit and then we started to make progress again.
Overall it was another 2 years of struggle before things really started to improve significantly with Jane (plus Katai hit that magical age of 8 which I’m sure helped). However, after 4.5 years of blood, sweat, and tears I can say that my pony is perfect for me.
She’s still tricky, she’s still very forward, still gets tense, still frustrates me, still has meltdowns about things that just shouldn’t be a big deal after 4.5 years but I adore her and she’s good for me. Even though I can think/dream about what’s next and I’m sure Katai won’t be my last pony, I also can’t imagine finding any horse or pony that I would enjoy more than I’m enjoying Katai. Plus, she's still more talented at this dressage thing than I am and I'm still learning from her so it doesn't make sense to look elsewhere even if I weren't completely in love with her.
She’s just the perfect mix of bold, funny, spicy, forward, lazy, powerful, intelligent, cute, naughty for me to have fun and feel challenged but not ever feel scared. She also doesn’t have huge movement that makes me feel like I need to spend tons of hours at the gym. I work out to be a better rider for her, but it’s not another full time job. I never climb on her and wonder if she’s going to be naughty but I’m also not bored when I ride and she always challenges me in a good way. I just can't imagine a better pony for me :)