Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Year in Review

Comparison thing I created in January

After recapping the past year and setting those apparently tough to meet goals I posted about my first work travel of the year and then was able to actually get video of my lesson!  I commissioned a drawing of Katai and tried out Vienna Reins for the first time.


February started with a sassy pony and then I talked about some of my blanketing strategies. I talked about motivation and how I was "tricking" myself into riding on the really cold icky nights. We went on to have a really great lesson, lose my new camera (after less than a month), and got one of my best purchases to date! 
This amazing wool quarter sheet!

In March I had another, long, work trip and then had sort of a tough lesson. I posted some GIFs of some of our struggles, started our trailer loading practice with lots of fireworks, and then recapped my first day at World Cup!!!

Photo from April

April was my busiest blogging month with 19 posts! I started the month with a couple of recaps of Wold Cup. Then I almost missed our spring vet visit, recapped another lesson, shared more of our tough trailer loading practice, shared my bad taste ;), and talked about Katai's hatred of dressage boots. I also recapped a good lesson, finally, and talked about the history of Katai's name and her new show name.


I started of May by asking for help with equestrian memberships in regards to showing. Thankfully I'll be able to put that to use this year!! Then I posted about a really great night at the barn, shared some more GIFs, posted again about the struggle of my work travel, posted about my show outfit plans, and finally recapped our first show of the year.

Back when I could ride in short sleeves

June started off with a recap of our first rated show and blue ribbons, which I'm still sort of shell shocked over. I then shared some show media, more show media, shared media of a ride outside, started posting a bit about my personal struggles with 2017 , bought a show pad and some items for the fight with flies, and set up new goals for the year.

I didn't recap these new goals officially but they were mostly all successful. It just seemed a bit like a cop out and many of them are more like monthly goals than yearly goals. At any rate, I'm looking forward to setting achievable goals for 2018 and looking forward to finishing up the rest of my 2017 recap in my next post!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017 Goals Recap

We do have some talent for square halts

Review of Goals for 2017

Increase Blogging Again

I'd like to set the goal to post an average of 15 times per month. If I can do that I'll have at least 180 posts next year and that would feel good!

Nope but for the first part of the year I was doing pretty well. I also hit my 500th post which was awesome! I was averaging 15 posts per month through August and really up until I ended up stuck on the West Coast for two weeks. After that my progress and motivation took a real hit and I ended up averaging around 12 posts for month for the year.

We're also good at trotting sometimes

Buy a Trailer


Nope! As previously mentioned buying a trailer in 2017 was taken off the list pretty early in the year (February I think) so unfortunately neither of these came true. I did do quite a bit of trailer loading practice in Jane's trailer though! We were also getting pretty close to having Katai self load. In addition, she was very decent to load and unload to and from the second two shows we did.
Getting better at center lines too

Ride in Another Dressage Clinic

No :(, I feel like this one is the most painful. I tried at least 4-5 times to get into a Susanne Winslade clinic but the one I could have attended and new about in advance ended up filling up and the other ones just happened to occur during times when I was traveling. There are other clinicians that I could ride with but Jane prefers that I ride with Susanne and we're making enough progress with Jane that I don't have a great reason to push to ride with a bunch of different clinicians. In the future (next few years) I'd really like to ride with Janet Foy when she's in town and potentially Jennifer Truett who is in town pretty often. I feel like I'd rather be a bit more confirmed at 2nd to ride with either one just to get the most out of the experience even though I know I could learn a lot from either person right now.
Very good at posing

2nd Level Goals

I have complete confidence that even if our progress hits a huge wall we'll be able to ride all of the 2nd level movements by the end of the year. Not sure that showing 2nd this year is a doable goal but I'd like to be completing all the movements at home even if they aren't all pretty.

Hmmm, pretty sure I took this one off the list at some point to but for the sake of argument, we are maybe 85% on this one at least in being able to do the movements. However, we aren't even close to being able to do them with 2nd level movement and true collection.

However, I started setting monthly goals this year and I really liked it! I plan to do the same for 2018 to help break down my yearly goals into more manageable chunks and to help monitor my progress or lack thereof. Some of those goals went really well overall and I figured I'd list them here since I'm really a glass half full sort of person.

Also good at fancy prancing
More Trailer Loading Practice: We've got a long way to go but we did make a lot of progress and had a much better experience at the second two shows we did this year than we'd had previously.
Practice Other Show Skills: I feel like we looked way more put together at our last show this year than we have previously. I even managed to put in braids that stayed in for the full show (now I just need to learn to get them out better)!
Practice Lateral Work: I'm getting so much better at this and better at practicing things that are ugly in general. Our Leg Yield has gotten considerably better and our SI has also improved a TON. We can sort of do HI as well but it's not as consistent and I struggle to maintain the bend especially going to the right.
Ride Longer: YES! We're finally getting more rides at 30+ minutes rather than 15+ minutes haha. I started using a timer to help and I'm still using that timer to keep me honest since my internal clock thinks we're done around 20-25 minutes in. I've even done quite a few rides recently that are closer to 45 minutes.
Practice Sitting Trot: YES! I'm far from nailing this consistently but I can get a good sitting trot for the majority of my rides even for my lesson. Before I was really lacking the skill and feel but now, recently, I'm lacking more the strength both from not riding as consistently and not working out as consistently

Good at moving like a bigger dressage horse
despite her diminutive 13.2 hand stature
So, while it looks like we pretty much failed at all of my big 2017 goals I feel like we had a decent year. Overall 2017 felt really tough to me and like I was constantly struggling to swim upstream. Mostly this had to do with things in my personal life such as work, relationships, budget, etc. but it wasn't all smooth sailing with Katai either. She's had much more attitude these past few months and, while I'm so happy with our show results, I was really hoping for more shows, clinics, trailering opportunities etc. so it was tough to STILL feel stuck with those things.

Good at giggling with an Oh Shit face while we
splash through/around puddles
Regarding our show results, while they were never a goal I was still SOOO impressed that we won three classes at two rated shows at both training and first level. Going into the show season this year I NEVER thought that we'd accomplish that so that alone makes this year feel like a HUGE success along with all of the other progress we made. Now, I just need to learn how to set better goals for next year ;)

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Catching Up: Lesson Recaps November-December

Progress in photo form. First real show experience, 2016

2017 goal recap and 2018 goal setting blogs will be up soon but first I have one more blog catch up post.

This isn't going to be very specific because, I don't know about you guys, but I struggle to remember what happened in my last lesson much less the one that occurred over a month ago. However, I really want to at least sort of recap our progress, or lack of progress, over the past couple of months.

Also 2016

Main Themes

Canter: Getting a good three Beat Canter has been a struggle for us. When we first started working with Jane Katai was lateral going both directions most of the time. Eventually we got to a place where she was taking the right lead well but the left has remained more lateral. Even then, if she was tired at all or stiff she would be lateral in both directions and sometimes not even be able to maintain a canter to one side or the other. Honestly, if I could go back in time I would have put much more work in on the canter much earlier on but as it is, it's time to really focus on it now.

As of my last lesson on 12/26 we had a three beat canter for both leads. The left lead we only get a couple of 20 meter circles and a short straight if we're lucky but she's able to maintain the right a lot longer.

One more 2016
More sit: Katai has really developed a HUGE trot but she likes to run and go on the forehand rather than use that strength to push and come back a little. From what I've read this isn't unusual but that doesn't mean it's easy to get her to change her way of going. Ultimately Katai is a very pressure adverse horse especially with something that she feels she's an expert on and so it's been tough to try to convince her to travel in a different way. We're currently working on lots of lateral work and 10 meter circles with transitions to help her understand what we're asking but it's a slog. As of my last lesson, 12/26, she still hasn't really seemed to understand what we're asking so we'll just keep right on practicing!
First show of 2017
Half Halts: Really I'm sure this could fit into the topic above but I thought I'd separate it out since in practice they're sort of two separate things. At this point Katai is highly offended by half halts and doesn't think they're fair. She either wants to flatten onto her forehand and quite or not make any difference in the gait. When she sort of gets them she get's upset because of the amount of pressure I end up needing to use. We'll keep right on toiling away on these and I'm confident that she'll understand the concept soon.

Also first show of 2017

Lateral Work: I never thought I'd say it but leg yields are starting to get there! Katai still has days where she doesn't feel like it but I'm actually starting to understand them to the point where I can really "train" when she isn't getting it and know what I can and/or shouldn't do to get the result I'm looking for.

Last show of 2017
SI is also something we're practicing ALOT and including in a lot of exercises. We're using it to help improve the canter, to help her understand how to sit, to help her understand transitions within the gait, and to help slow down that frenetic forward energy and turn it into more sit. She's very annoyed with us about it but we'll keep right on practicing :)

I feel like I have more homework than ever and really know what we're working on so now it's just convincing Katai that these things are ok and are actually sort of fun!

Also last show of 2017

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Shopping: Blog Update #2

I actually have typed up two other posts prior to this about my Black Friday shopping this year but for some reason Blogger hasn't wanted to allow me to post any pictures so neither went up. Not that this is an extremely important topic but I got a couple of cool things and thought it would be a fun update.

First, I FINALLY got a Back on Track mesh sheet!

I've wanted one for quite awhile and finally the 25% off at Riding Warehouse convinced me. This was on my list for this year with the money I made from the most recent tack sale so being able to save at the Riding Warehouse Black Friday sale was awesome. When I first got it I cuddled with it and really feel like it was doing something with my bad shoulder.

I've used it on Katai a few times just for a little while but I'm looking forward to building up to keeping it on her for longer periods.

I also got this stable sheet from Horze!

I really love my liner system but the unfortunate thing is that I can't leave them on her without a turnout sheet or blanket over the top since they don't have surcingles or leg straps. I've wanted a stable sheet for awhile since it could work as a liner or be left on in the barn when it's a bit chilly.

As you all know, I love Horze especially when they have good deals and when I saw that this blanket was on clearance and was available in Katai's size I decided to go for it. I think I paid right around $50 which is pretty great for a nice stable blanket.

Finally I got a pair of burgundy Horze breeches that were on clearance at Riding Warehouse.
These only in burgundy
The jury is still out on these, for some reason the silicone makes the legs really tight and uncomfortable for the shape of my legs. I'm hoping that they stretch out a bit but if not I don't know if I'll wear them much.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Intention - Blog Update #1

She looks somewhere between adorable and
possessed in this picture so of course I had to share
Well guys I certainly had no intention of taking that sort of break from blogging! I feel like this year was even a longer break than last year and last year I was dealing with some pretty serious seasonal depression. This year, very happily, the reason(s) I haven't been blogging are very happy for the most part.

Because there is just so much going on and a fair amount happening with Katai I figured I would do a couple of update posts rather than trying to fit it all in one and then be in a good place to recap 2017 and start 2018 strong!

So, to start the update, awhile ago I had mentioned three exciting things I had in the works that I couldn't share yet. One of those didn't really go anywhere yet but will soon and that's that I'll be moving early next year and was hoping to move much closer to the barn. I had started to look for apartments but realized that it was still so early that it didn't make sense to look.

First bath today <3
The second thing was my friends moving to the barn. As of end of October they're all moved in and things are setting back down there. I'm really enjoying having them there and luckily it's a great combination of having people around but still having the arena to myself on a fairly consistent basis. In fact, if I had my druthers I'd probably want them around a bit more than they are which is a good problem to have.Not only am I enjoying having them there but they're LOVING the barn and Jane's instruction. All three of them have said that they're enjoying riding again and loving the program and the setup of the barn. I'm really happy for them and glad that I could help them find a great place to move to.

The third thing is, of course, my new puppy Mashiara or Moshy for short. She is absolutely the best puppy in the entire world and I'm totally head over heels in love with her. Anyone who follows me on Instagram (and if you don't you should since I'm more able to quickly post there) has seen her in all of her adorable cuteness already.

I've LOVED every minute of having rescue dogs but they do come with baggage and I've always wanted a puppy at some point. I have no doubt that I'll mess some things up but it is nice to not need to deal with set in behavioral stuff right from the beginning. It's also AMAZING how quickly she picks things up! She already sits on cue, knows her name, and has a MUCH more reliable fetch than Veggie does. She's also good with stuff like nail clipping and bathes which I'm working hard to not mess up. I guess I sort of didn't think she'd be this trainable since Chihuahua's are typically fairly stubborn little dogs that weren't exactly bred for obedience but so far (knock on wood) she's been really easy to train. I've got her signed up for a puppy class already and now I'm also sort of thinking about continuing with a few basic obedience classes after that puppy class is done.

She's very helpful with Christmas preparations

Of course all of these things have distracted me from blogging and, as mentioned previously, Katai and I had gone through a rough patch and are just in an in-between sort of time with riding where she needs more strength and to change her way of going and those aren't quick things. Because of that I just didn't have as much to blog about which wasn't inspiring me to find the time to sit down and blog.
Contemplating what to do with a toy that large
I have one more thing that's been distracting me from blogging and that's a relationship. I'm not someone who's particularly private and I know I've shared relationship things, both good and bad, on here in the past but this time I'm keeping it more private. What's important is that I'm really happy right now and spending a lot of time with this person. I've been more focused on that and continuing to ride and manage a new puppy and still (STILL!) stressful work days that blogging just needed to take a back seat.
A little blurry but proof of how good the Vegetable has been.
I think this was her second day home.
I can't promise that it's going to get much better over the next few months but I do want to close out the year as strong as I can. I'll have another update soon about more of what Katai and I have been up to!


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...