Saturday, September 30, 2017

Exciting Happenings

Old pictures from J's barn
I think I've mentioned, probably a couple of times, that it's been sort of a weird and stressful year for me personally. While the horse things have mostly gone really well (other than the farrier thing recently and not having a saddle so I couldn't ride) other things have just felt like I'm trekking up a steep mountain without enough oxygen and no breaks.

This past week I've finally felt like I can breath a little and I'm getting a little respite and over the past couple of days a few really exciting things have happened!

Unfortunately I'm not at a place to bring up two of those three things in this blog quite yet. One I'll likely have more information on early next week that I can share. Another I likely won't be able to share for at least a few months. The third though I can share just a bit about.

I believe I mentioned that Jane had asked me to post on our local online bulletin board that she had a couple of openings for boarders. I posted and got a really great response and was especially excited when one of my friends, who I boarded with at J's barn, expressed interest. I'd LOVE to board with her again and missed most of the people that I boarded at J's with.

Baby nose and baby lipstick!!! Same bit I'm using now
Over the past month or so she and another person from that barn have visited and taken video of my lesson to show to each other. After that video I hadn't heard much back and it was a rougher lesson than I've had in awhile so I wasn't quite sure how it was received. Last week I found out that the boarder who'd watched the video and not been able to be present for the lesson LOVED Jane (I'm really not sure how you couldn't) and wanted to come tour one more time before making a decision.

Last night both people showed up and they brought another person from J's barn! That's three people from J's and it just so happened that they're the three people I was closest with at Js. Two more family members showed up as well so it was quite the reunion and it reminded me how much I've missed having more people to ride and interact with at the barn. K is AMAZING but her schedule is just so different that I don't see her much. Katai also adored having all of her fans there and I don't think that any of them could quite believe how much different she is than she was at J's.

Baby pony in a really good but rare moment at J's barn
Also, I've really stepped up my ROOTD game ;)
It was great to see all of them and now I'll be on pins and needles waiting to hear if they're going to move in with me and when :) Oh, and figuring out how to consolidate my tack sprawl in the tack room if they do decide to move in.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Lending a Videoing Hand

The bay Arab in the front is who I was taking video of.
Something fun and horse related that happened last week that I didn’t write about is that I went to see a friend ride in her lesson. M is the person that’s taken all those gorgeous show pictures of me and Katai. I used to board at the same barn as her and she has a gorgeous little bay Arabian mare. Unfortunately for the majority of the time that I was at the barn M was dealing with her horse’s soundness problems. Right after I left her mare actually ended up going in for a fairly serious surgery but is now happily sound. M also takes lessons with L was it was great to see her again as well 

I showed up at the barn pretty early and we had a fun time catching up while she groomed and tacked up. The already gorgeous barn also had a few really nice upgrades including new paint, better flooring, nicer tackroom and they added rubber footing to the arena which was AMAZING! I was partially there to talk and catch up and partially there to take some video so I had my hands full with that for most of the lesson and didn’t get any media. I also dislike sharing other people riding on my blog especially if they don’t blog themselves. However, M had a really great lesson! Her mare is still fairly green especially with the setback they had in her soundness but they’re making huge strides and there were parts of the lesson where she was carrying herself like a 2nd level horse.

The arena I was videotaping in with baby pony and awkward riding from me
I also got a chance to catch up with L who had just returned from a really fun road trip out west. I also found out that she’s shopping for performance ponies!! Since Jane is her instructor as well I also found out later that she’d sent some video from her trip to see some of the ponies over to Jane for Jane to assess so I can’t wait to hear if she ended up getting one of them.

I had such a great time and we’re going to try to meet up again for lessons or a trail ride. M also volunteered her truck if I get a light enough trailer and it would be so much fun to have someone to do more trail rides and shows with!

It's BACK!

I missed Wordless Wednesday but this is nearly a wordless post. My week has been nuts preparing to head to Seattle next week for, hopefully, my last trip away for a LONG time so I haven't blogged much. However, I did need to share this.

It's soooo beautiful

and looks sooooo much narrower haha

Monday, September 25, 2017

Fall Blahs

I LOVE fall. Usually our weather is gorgeous and it’s my happy place temperature wise with temps normally around the 50s-low 70s. However, like all our other weird weather this year we’ve had two spikes up into the 90s in between the 60s. The cooler weather came earlier than normal which was lovely but these weird 30 degree spikes are rough and migraine causing for me. I ended up with a migraine (although I actually caught it before it got too horrible this time) on Thursday and then Friday was 93. Because of that, despite my goals of making it out at least 4 times this past week I only made it out 3.

Part of that is that I still don’t have a saddle. Despite VTO’s quick turnaround time I miscalculated how long shipping takes with a box that large. It was either $40 to ship for 5-6 day shipping time for $106 for 2-3 day shipping so I went with the longer option. I know my saddle has gone to the adjuster at this time but with shipping back likely taking at least as long I don’t even know if it will arrive this week. That’s more than two weeks without a saddle and I’m starting to worry that Katai is going to gain back enough pudge that the, now narrower, saddle won’t fit when it gets back. I did end up talking with Jane on Sunday and she suggested that I try one of her back up saddles. I was doubtful but it actually fit pretty well so I’m going to try it out tonight and then possible ride in it for my lesson tomorrow.

It’s a really rough time for this to be happening since my friends, who are still looking at moving, are wanting to watch another one of my lessons before they make the decision. Oh well, I needed to get my saddle adjusted and this time as is good as any since I don’t have any shows or clinics coming up.

In the meantime I’m planning to get out to the barn 5 times again. Even if this borrowed saddle doesn’t fit well enough for me to ride in it I’ll be lunging and doing some bareback rides. Plus I still want to get a bath in for Katai before the weather gets too much colder. It's looking like our weather is going to be more consistent for the next week or so and I'm hoping that my body adjusts again so that I can enjoy it!

Sunday, September 24, 2017


Let me out or feed me treats!
Jane and partner spent the past few weekends installing new
bars on the stall doors in the main barn and they look soooo good!
A while ago, before I was derailed by farrier drama and sending my saddle away, I was going to share a bit about a supplement update. In the meantime I’ve had something else come up so I figured I could share both now.

Back when I “self” diagnosed Katai with Ulcers I did a round of treatment with UlcerGuard and started Katai on G.U.T. for maintenance. After the treatment with UlcerGuard all of Katai’s ulcer-like symptoms went away and stayed away but I wasn’t sure if they stayed away because of or despite the G.U.T. since I started that at the same time. My plan in the first place with starting her on the maintenance supplement was to wean her off going into winter (when I felt like there would be less stress) and then put her back on in the spring.
Little tough to tell past the cute pony tongue
but this is what they looked like before.
So, the supplement ran out and I didn’t immediately replace it despite it still sort of being summer. I figured I’d experiment and see if her symptoms came back or stayed away. Like a lot of those things they sort of crept back slowly so I wasn’t aware right away but just prior to the show Katai was back to being girthy, sensitive to touch, and just seemed less like her normal self. Once I realized the pattern (when she almost nipped me as I fastened her girth) I felt so bad! Here I’d found something that worked and then took her off it just to see if it stopped working which made poor Katai uncomfortable.

The good thing is that I know now that I need to keep her on it. I just felt bad that I’d given her the chance to feel icky in the meantime.

The other thing I’ve been experimenting with is my lunging set up.

For a long time I’d used just plain side reins with a stretchy insert. After moving to my previous barn I started to experiment with a neck stretcher since everyone there used one. With normal side reins Katai would always get above the contact and get hollow. She was also clearly tight just in front of the withers and the neck stretcher did WONDERS for that. However, once I started working with Jane she was very against the neck stretcher (and I don’t disagree) so I started looking for something that would provide similar benefit and stumbled upon Vienna reins. They’re said to be really good for horses, like Katai, that get tight in front of their withers. Plus, it didn’t have the poll pressure that Jane disliked.

I loved how they worked with Katai and have used them exclusively for lunging for almost the past year. Just about two months ago I decided to try out side reins again and it didn’t work. Katai went right back to getting above the contact and got really hollow through her back. I put them away and went back to the Vienna reins.

Not sure if I've shown this before but this magnet lives on Katai's stall :)
 Then, fast forward to a couple of weekends ago. Since I don’t have a saddle I decided to lunge. Recently (as many of you have probably noticed) Katai has started to duck slightly behind the contact a bit in tense situations. She isn’t doing this at home but the lack of forward combined with the extra tension at a show or when I'm at the neighbor's arena causes her to go btv which we're actively working to "fix". In the Vienna reins she can go behind the vertical because of the way the action works, however, she really hasn't done that at all. It's something I've watched for because I knew it was a risk but so far she hadn't ever gone btv when I lunged. However, with her tendency to do so under saddle recently increasing I wanted to cut out any chance of that happening when I lunge so I went back to the side reins. 

Low and behold they worked! She was PERFECT and never got tight or above the side reins. She also pushed forward into them, unless I let her get lazy, and just worked so so so well. Really, it's just crazy how quickly they can change and learn things after years of having pretty consistent behaviors.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Resting on our Laurels

My barn really looked like a scene from the Headless Horseman
Not completely because I wanted the break but we're on a bit of a reinforced break for the moment. At first it was because of Katai's hooves, then those were trimmed and right around the same time I heard back from the saddle fitter and sent my saddle in.

I am going to be spending time with Katai lunging, riding bareback, walking down the road etc. Tomorrow I'm planning to give her, probably, her last bath of the year while it's still warm out. I'm also going to lunge her and possibly take her hand grazing :)

I enjoy these times because it's always good bonding time when I can't ride but it's also tough because I was very motivated after our last show and it's been tough to have this down time. I do feel way better now that her feet are short and much prefer down time due to saddle fitting.

Last week was employee appreciation
complete with AMAZING free coffee
In between the two I did fit in a lesson but it was very meh. Unfortunately it was also when my friend from J's barn came out to watch a lesson so hopefully we didn't scare her off. We ended up with a heat wave that day and it was in the upper 80s after a couple of weeks in the 60s so neither Katai or I had much energy. She'd also just had her feet done the day before and between, probably, the different angles and the recent lack of rides she just wasn't feeling her best. We kept it pretty short and sweet and while she seemed to work out of it a bit, she just didn't have her now normal willingness.

At that lesson we did some lateral work and a bit of counter canter along with more of our most recent exercise where we combine leg yield and 10 meter circles along one long side which is really a brain teaser for me.

At any rate, we survived and then I shipped the saddle out right after. Due to having too many plans this week I haven't made it back out :( which is unusual for me but not a bad break after all of the work we've done this year. I can't wait to see her tomorrow and should have more updates soon!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

They Came! and Other Updates

I mentioned awhile back that I'd ordered a couple of Mattes pads, one for schooling and one for show, and that they hadn't shown up quite in time for my last show of the year. Then they were scheduled to arrive while I was in NY so I had to have them re-delivered when I got back. They showed up last week but I've been so distracted by farrier related things that I haven't shared yet.

I like them so much!! The dark grey one with the logo is for schooling/clinics etc. The light grey one is for shows. It honestly is a bit flashier than I expected but I think in the show ring it will be ok. I also LOVE the color of both of them :)

I'm really happy with both of them. The only thing I'm not happy about is that they're both longer from spine to girth loop than my other Mattes euro fit pad. I'm hoping that after they got washed a few times they'll shrink a bit but otherwise they'll work, they're just longer than I'd prefer.

Along with my new farrier and current (possibly past) farrier I heard back from the saddle fitter this week! He/they feel that my saddle does need to be made more narrow by 1-2 cms and just needed a few more pictures to figure out how much narrower it needed to be. I took a few pictures for them (that make Katai look really awkward) and sent those over. 

You can sort of see how horribly long her heels are in this picture
Of course the timing will probably be just wrong so that I'll finally have her hooves trimmed and be able to ride and then I'll need to send her saddle away. Oh well, at least the show season is over at this point. 
Withers and muscle have replaced the fat :)
I also found out that unfortunately I likely won't be riding in a clinical with Susanne in November. They had to do some rescheduling based on a few people's availabilities and turned two clinics into one. Because of that all the rides already filled up with people that board at my old barn. She is going to be teaching in Rochester but that's a LONG drive from my barn especially since that's prime ice season.

Oh well, I'm going to talk to Jane about other options for trailering off the property for a ride. At any rate, whether or not I can this year next year will be all about trailering places for adventures!

Random food pictures of the vegan "power bowl"
that I made for myself for lunch today. It was delicious
That's already quite a few updates but a have another! Jane's been looking for another boarder or two. During the past year there have been a couple of minor changes at the barn that involved Jane taking on some retired horses. At this point it's still just me and K that take lessons with Jane and since K's horse is semi retired she isn't even taking as many lessons. One of the few things I miss at this barn is having other people to ride and talk horses with.

About a month ago Jane let me know that she was looking to fill some stalls and on the way home from the last show I offered to post online for her. She took me up on it and I got it posted. There was quite a bit of interest but one of the people that reached out was someone that I boarded at J's barn with. She's toured Janes (last week) and now is planning to come to my lesson this week. I've got my fingers crossed that she and her friend (who also boards at J's barn) will end up moving to Jane's. It would be so great to be able to ride with them!!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Days of Our Rasps: Season 2

Farrier Drama
Yeah, at this point I don't have much else to post about but there have been updates in the farrier saga.

I had done some snooping and checked with a couple of friends who use the same farrier and as of the week prior to when he was scheduled to trim Katai he was still showing up. I did find out some other things that were going on with him in his personal life but injury or illness still wasn't completely off the table.

In the meantime I was able to talk with Jane's farrier. He was reluctant because he assumed that my farrier had stopped showing up for a reason (of course) and unfortunately because I didn't know why he'd stopped showing up I didn't have anything to say. Jane talked to him though and he agreed to come out and trim Katai on Monday as long as Jane was able to be there. I'm a very professional and reliable person and Katai's good for her feet to be trimmed so I'm confident that he'll see that but I'll do whatever I need to at this point to get Katai's feet done. Even if that means having my trainer baby sit us.

Also, I'm really glad I actually have someone scheduled to trim but disappointed that the weekend is really off the table for riding at this point. It may not be for all horses at 9 weeks between trim cycles but Katai has a foot that's slightly clubbed and she grows a ton of heel which makes her more unstable. Luckily her breakover isn't bad, but it's like she's wearing high heels. With that, there's no way I'm going to risk riding her and asking for anything athletic. The fact that I know she may be doing that in her paddock makes me nervous and I'm going to be worried until she gets trimmed.

Really no new media so you got a roany butt shot that I took for the saddle fitter
This is also a good place to say that next time (if there is ever a next time) I'm going to be more aggressive in finding a different farrier so that it doesn't go this long. It was just so tough to know when to do when my, up until three weeks ago, very reliable farrier didn't show up for an appointment and didn't let me know why.

Then, this morning I finally got a text from my farrier. I put what he said together with what I know from my friends and let's just say that he hasn't been physically ill or injured AND it also had nothing to do with me or Katai. He let me know that the last few days(!?!) had gotten away from him and that he'd be able to come out on Monday. At this point I'm extremely frustrated with him AND I already have someone coming out who will hopefully be more reliable. I wrote a very polite and pleasant message back to him that I wanted to see how it went with the new farrier and I'd let him know if I wanted him to continue to trim Katai. At this point I don't believe I do but I also haven't even met the new farrier yet so we'll see plus I don't believe in burning bridges.

Fingers crossed that everything goes well with the new farrier on Monday and that Katai's able to be back to normal after. The nice thing about this farrier is that he's already coming out to the barn to trim Jane's horses (my previous farrier was just coming out for Katai) so he's already out there on a regular basis. Hopefully that means that there's an extra layer of reliability there :)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Days of Our Rasps

Well, we're sort of sidelined over here because Katai hasn't had her feet done over the past couple of weeks. It all started with a scheduled appointment on August 18th (a Friday). It was scheduled just like normal (over text), normal date range etc. I left a check on the bulletin for my farrier who is a very professional sort.

When I showed up at the barn the next morning I was surprised to see the check still on the bulletin board and that Katai's feet clearly hadn't been done. I figured he was running a bit behind and that he'd reschedule which I think he's done once in the past. However, after a couple of days when I still hadn't heard from him I went ahead and sent a text.

I gave that a few days and then texted and emailed. Still nothing...

I talked to Jane and tried giving him a call and leaving a message. I also checked his Facebook profile and there hasn't been any activity since the end of July.

At this point I'm still concerned that something happened to him. I would hope that at some point, if that's the case, that someone would follow up with his customers but he's such a professional that I just can't quite imagine that he just gave up on me and stopped showing up. I also just don't think anything has changed on my end. If Katai was misbehaving (he typically schedules time when I can't be there) I would hope that he would have said something so that I could work with her and/or let me know that he wants me to be there so that we could find a time when I can typically be there.

At any rate I'm really disappointed and frustrated that it's now been almost three weeks since Katai should have had her feet done. This weekend I finally called someone else, Jane's typical farrier, but he's out of town for the holiday :(

If I don't hear back from him by tomorrow I may actually try to contact another farrier. Fingers crossed that I have some luck soon because she's definitely getting long and I'm starting to worry.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Updates and Where I've Been

It's been a quiet week and a week of pre-written posts because, as I think I may have mentioned, I was out of town to see my sister in Rochester, NY during my week off. Of course while I was out there I needed to visit Bobby at Poor Woman Showing but we'll get back to that in a minute.

First, my week started out with a couple of short, easy rides for Katai. She had Sunday off after the show and I may have just lunged or given her an extra day off typically but since I was going to be gone for three full days I wanted to make sure she didn't sit for too long either. I rode on both Monday and Tuesday and for both rides she was sort of tired and stiff not so much from the act of riding the test but from dealing with all the muck and also just from being so tense while we were there. She has shown marked improvement with her stress but we've got a ways to go.

Flying in my riding boots since they wouldn't fit in my carry on
Tuesday evening I flew out and spent Wednesday and Thursday with my sister and brother in-law exploring Rochester. I really enjoyed looking around and getting to play tourist. My sister has an amazing loft apartment downtown that's really pretty and it was a nice place to get to crash for awhile. It's also funny how much more of an "adult" she is with real furniture and matching dishes and silverware.

I should have taken more photos but I'm always horrible at remembering to take pictures so I don't have any of our adventures.

Friday morning I went to meet Carly and Bobby!

I LOVED Carly's barn, it was cozy, airy, and bright. It was so much fun to meet Bobby and see how much he clearly loves Carly. I don't think he took his eyes off her the whole time I was there.

I didn't get pictures in the snaffle
Carly got him tacked up while I cuddled with him and then after Carly warmed him up a bit I got a chance to ride him.

Photos of me riding were taken from Carly's Facebook post
It was sooooo weird to ride a more normal sized horse! Everything just feels so different and so much longer. It's always weird to ride a different horse with slightly different buttons but then for that horse to be so much larger means making a big adjustment. Bobby was so patient with me figuring it out though as was Carly. I know how much it takes to let someone else ride your horse so I'm so thankful that she gave me the chance(s) to try him out! He really moves so well and it was so much fun to play around with stuff with him including his changes. I buffed them at least once but he just calmly let me go back and try again.

After I finished up with him Carly went and got the double to play with a bit. She started out riding him in it and then handed him back to me to try. I'm so horrible at remembering to take pictures and I was busy talking with Carly so I didn't get much. Sorry for being a bad photographer Carly!

Sorry I kept cutting off most of Carly! I kept forgetting to zoom out
Again, Bobby was fantastic!

I finished up and poor abused (filled with cookies and pets and not too much work) Bobby got to be done and get untacked :)

So jealous of Bobby's skills. He just stood without tack
 like this while he was groomed and doctored and didn't move a foot
After Bobby was put away we went out for lunch and then came back and I met more of the horses and got a barn tour. Unfortunately I spent so much time petting the resident ponies that Carly was still there when the grain showed up so she ended up sticking around to unload. Oops!

I had so much fun and hope to be invited out to give Bobby more pets next time I'm in Rochester to visit my sister :)

Friday, September 1, 2017

One Year With Jane

What can I say really. Jane is someone that I've learned way more from than just riding. Her way of handling things, her message about training horses (especially mares), and her support of me even with things like stressful work situations will always stick with me.

I'm so glad that I decided I couldn't afford my previous barn anymore and even more lucky that my previous BM recommended that I move to Jane's barn.

Prior to L
Jane's instruction, from a riding perspective, is something that will stick with me for my entire riding career. When I started working with Jane my position was a mess, I rode a lot with my hands, and had lots of well developed habits. Sure, I've worked hard too to overcome a lot of this but I've always worked hard to overcome those things and to learn and improve it just wasn't until I started riding with Jane that I actually started to see progress.

Really great example of how things were going before Jane.
Already much improved by L
Even more impressive to me is the subtle mental shift that's been caused by Jane and how it's also completely changed Katai's attitude about being ridden. Some of that, of course, is that I'm riding better so she can actually be more comfortable in the work but it's also the way that Jane encourages me to think about training a horse (mare) and how gentle Jane's approach is. Her message, that sometimes it's important that mares get to be right, isn't something I've ever heard from any other instructor and yet it's made a huge difference in my work with Katai.

Katai's thrived from the new work as well
I will study with Jane for as long as I can and I hope that her retirement from teaching is far out on the horizon. She has even caused me to be less enthusiastic about looking at relocating out of state because I can't quite imagine leaving her program. Right now, the thought of trying to find another instructor in a new place that can meet her ability to make changes with Katai and myself makes me feel slightly overwhelmed and ill.

I don't know what the future holds and I do still plan to relocate at some point but no matter where I end up or when, Jane's instruction has made a huge impact on me and for that I'm truly and completely thankful.

For the present I'll continue to enjoy every single lesson with her and absorb as much knowledge as I can. Here's to another fantastic year!!

Starting to look almost as good at a show as we are at home :)
Also, this sort of makes it sound like I'm planning to leave but that couldn't be further from the truth. I'm positive that I'll be working with Jane into the near future and will likely push my plans to relocate out even further so that I can continue to work with her. I'm just hoping that she doesn't have any plans to retire any time soon.


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...