Monday, May 28, 2018

Heatwave

I'm having a great Memorial weekend overall but seriously, this crazy weather needs to stop MN! Several weeks ago we had that huge snow storm.

Just in case you don't remember, this happened in under 24 hours
Then, the following weekend we hit 90 on one day and I think everyone thought it would be a fluke. However, for some reason MN decided that after an especially cold and snowy winter that broke records it would be fun to go immediately to record breaking highs. Between the end of April where we were still getting highs in the teens and this weekend with highs in the upper 90s (we hit 100+ today) we've swung over 80 degrees in just about a month. That's crazy and I'm pretty confident that humans just aren't meant to adapt to that sort of weather change. Last year this same weekend was in the mid 40s so it's at least twice as hot this year.

My barn team even showed in that weather this weekend and I have to admit that while I was really jealous that they were showing and I wasn't, I certainly didn't envy them being out in the heat.

Very fitting for Katai's mood today
At any rate besides dealing with the temps I'm still feeling like crap from a bad cold that started a week ago now so needless to say I haven't been able to make it to the barn as consistently as I'd like. That led to a very forward, rushy pony today (even though it was already in the 80s at 10am when I rode) who would not listen to half halts or halt cues. We ended up working harder than I wanted to but she got a nice cool shower to cool off at the end and then I hand grazed her in the shade.

I stuck around for the Memorial Day picnic at the barn which honestly wasn't as much fun as it could have been because of the extreme heat. Luckily all of the food was in the air conditioned lounge so we could get out of the heat for brief moments but it was still miserably hot.

It looks like the temps are supposed to be in the low 80s this week which is still extremely hot for this time of the year but much more doable. I'm also feeling more motivated than I have in awhile so I can't wait to get some good rides in!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Loosey Goosey

This is what she felt like today
One thing that's been amazing to see at the new barn is how much the turnout is helping Katai stay fit and loose.

At the last couple of barns we were fighting a losing battle with her fitness. Two barns ago at least I had an outdoor and a bit of, albeit flat, outdoor space to ride in. At Janes, unless I could con someone into riding down the road with me or if I could work out with the neighbor to ride in the outdoor I had I could only ride in the indoor and both of those were tough to arrange.

On top of that at both of the last barns Katai's turnout was only in a small paddock. She could canter around a bit but it was flat and small and unless she was really motivated to run around there wasn't much real movement.
We win at selfies
Now I have all sorts of outdoor space to ride in even if I never went on the trails since just the space around the arena, near the barns, and down the driveway is safe and roomy for riding. We also have a nice large outdoor that Katai doesn't have meltdowns in (mostly thanks to S2) which helps as well.

Even better, Katai is in a huge pasture with other horses! She has two palomino friends, that look like twins, and another paint and they all get along really well. The pasture is huge and hilly just like how we kept our horses as I was growing up. Walking to the end to graze on it's own is a good workout and is really helping to keep her muscles loose and definitely adding some fitness. In addition she's been more careful about where she's putting her feet since she can't just drag them along like she could at the last barn.

Plus, S2 is really helping me to work with Katai on getting her to relax the blocked tension she has had. She's always gotten really tight through her shoulders if anything is going on that she's unsure about and also, I'm finding out now, has carried a lot of tension through her hips. Like me with my shoulders I think that she's just been that way for so long that she didn't even know there was a different way to do it until S2 came along and showed her.

I didn't get many pony pictures so her's another puppy picture
It's part of my homework to keep working with her on it but it's also clear how much she's already let go, or will let go if you ask correctly. Her stride, which was already much improved at Jane's, has gotten even more buoyant and loose and it's easier to keep her from getting locked up. I also have tools on the ground so that if she does lock up and threaten to rear I can dismount, address on the ground, and then remount and have a nice soft, loose pony which certainly wasn't the case before.

All of these things led to a really nice ride today where she was right with me, loose, relaxed, pushing from behind and really trying for the whole ride. She, of course, had the wrong answer to things sometimes but now when I ask again differently, or do a minor correction she just melts into it and keeps trying. It was an amazing ride and made watching the rest of the team leave for the show even more bitter sweet. Oh well, soon Katai will be on that trailer too!

Friday, May 25, 2018

Shifts

It has been so long since I've posted, almost a month at this point, so I'm pretty much giving up on my posting goals for this year.  I'm also tired of doing update posts but I also want to share all of the cool things we've been up to recently!

From this past week. I'm a sweaty mess but she's always gorgeous
First off, no I'm not at a show right now unfortunately. We made the call about two weeks ago that while Katai is making huge improvements in her ground work stuff she still isn't at a point where I can get her attention back on me, at least in show appropriate ways, so we want to get that more solidified first. In that vein, a couple of weeks ago when I had the lesson where we made that decision (on a Saturday) I decided to also sign up for as much training as possible and took lessons on Monday and Tuesday that week (which I had off work) and then another lesson this past Saturday.

S2 has been really complimentary of the training I've done with Katai. She was surprised and impressed that Katai had most of the buttons she needed to do the work that S2 has us doing on the ground and really just needed refinement. I also haven't known when to push, what to push for, and when to take all of the pressure off for some of the minor behaviors that Katai has had so we're working on that. Namely Katai always pushing me around with her shoulders. It's slow because it's a pretty well established habit but we are making headway and it's amazing how helping her to soften and bend her ribcage and move her shoulders around on the ground is helping under saddle.

Katai really loves the new arena except for the side door.
That ear needs to aim in that direction to ensure we stay alive
Then again it should be too surprising because S2 has had HUGE success doing this with her horses and client horses and has her silver medal.

From a dressage perspective I do miss Jane. Her instruction was just so fantastic and her way of teaching really resonated with me. I still don't really think that I'll have a chance to regularly lesson with anyone that amazing again. However, S2 is not only a really solid dressage instructor, she also has the show experience that Jane lacked. She's able to identify in each movement exactly what the judges will want to see and what could lose me points and that is something that's really helpful at this point now that I have a baseline to build on thanks to Jane.

Good side eye
Mare glare was clearly tired of the mirror selfies
I also had the opportunity to go on a trail ride! I was waiting until I could go out with someone way more experience who knew the way and had a solid trail horse and I got that opportunity finally last week. The trail, within riding distance of the property, was very technical with lots of gain and loss of elevation and we did it all at the walk so it was perfect for her busy brain. At first she was just rushing and not listening. She was also tight over her back and trying to trample the (very, very, experienced and patient) trail horse ahead of us. At one point though we headed down a hill that was covered in pine needles and therefore slightly slippery and she realized that maybe listening to me and my half halts was a good idea. After that she was zoned in and while she still wanted to go she was also really listening. It was also an amazing workout for her and she was nicely sweaty and tired by the time we got back. This sort of slow, hill conditioning, outdoor ride is exactly what I was hoping for since trying to build or maintain fitness at our last barn was nearly impossible.

I'm really hoping to find an opportunity to ride along one of the next times that this person trailers out to a trail ride so that Katai can get more off property experience doing something that she enjoys.

Pre-spay happy puppy :)
In other dressage news I also found out that I won't be able to go to the June show. Unfortunately it happens to fall on the weekend that I'll be in NC with my BF at a wedding. Honestly, if I hadn't already bought plane tickets I may have abandoned him haha but with the tickets I was already at the point of no return. It really sucks that a big part of why I moved was to show and now that's not happening but I am looking forward to the opportunity in the future and by the time it happens I should be that much more well prepared.

I also may be able to ride in a dressage clinic at the end of the week next week so fingers crossed for that!

My rides have been cut down to 4 days per week and this past week I only managed three since I ended up coming down with a really bad cold. I have today off and I'm hoping to ride all four days of this four day weekend but Moshy was spayed on Thursday so part of the plan is to make sure I'm mostly around to keep an eye on her and make sure she's not chewing on her stitches at all. She's doing pretty well but is clearly uncomfortable and I feel bad for her.


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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...