Monday, July 15, 2019

The Heat is On

Both literally and figuratively! I’m sort of considering this one long off season right now so that we can get stronger and better and be back to showing next year and boy do we ever need it. Both of us are out of shape and a bit fluffier than I’d like (more so me than Katai). Unfortunately it’s also the hottest part of summer and I don’t deal with heat well so that adds some complication, however, I’ve been really solution focused recently so with that here are a few things we’re doing.

For me mostly I’m trying to just get more movement in every day. With my mental health struggles over the past year and being sick so much I went from decently fit to absolute couch potato. Picking back up running was just way too much to face right away so I’m trying to do smaller things like going for a walk on my work breaks. Just going to the barn more is helping since even doing simple tasks like grooming and lunging are better than sitting on the couch watching Netflix :) Even better is when I ride. I’ve also started to do core work outs on a regular basis. I’m hoping to get to a point where once it cools off I can get back into running this fall and then carry it through on the treadmill this winter.

For Katai I had a great step by step plan but then she blew that up when she decided to be a right twat about lunging and then about being ridden and then about lunging and riding. Instead of a couple of easy stretchy days with a slightly harder cardio day she ended up doing an hour ride, then a long mostly canter lunge, and then a 45 minute ride/lunge. Pony mares….

At any rate she got a few days off that turned into several days off with the heat. As soon as I’m not worried that I’ll get heat stroke again (I’ve already had it twice this year) I’ll be getting back to the step by step work outs.

Miss Puppy got stuck and couldn't turn around

There are a bunch of things that I’ve wanted to do but that I’ve been throwing up barriers about. One is the wash “stall” at this barn. It’s outdoors, near the house so that it can share hot water, and is a concrete slab with a wooden fence on three sides. I like this set up except the wooden fence is SUPER rotted and I absolutely guarantee you that if I tie Katai to it she’ll pull at least hard enough to take down part of the fence (since I can move it around without much effort). Since I can’t have that risk it’s meant that it’s really tough to spray her off or bathe her since she’s really water averse.

However, since it’s hot and she’s getting sweaty I’ve needed to spray her off and I’ve been working on getting her to just relax and not mind so much. She’s still not a huge fan but I’m now able to spray off every part of her while she stands still with her head down on a loose lead. It’s HUGE progress for us and I’m proud of both of us for sticking with it. The real test will come this week when I give her a full bath.

The other is riding outside. Part of the issue is that I’ve boarded places that didn’t have safe space to ride outside or safe trail access. Now that I have that I’ve been working this summer to get her comfortable riding outside. We were doing REALLY well and doing mini trail rides around the property and longer trail rides with a calm friend (the horse not the person since both of us riders have anxiety lol). In the midst of that I started acclimating her to her easy boot gloves since I did some research and found that I could actually use them in an arena setting!! I had been worried about the added bulk but it turns out that barrel racers use these and if they can do those sharp turns at speed it’s probably ok for me to occasionally ride my pony in the arena on 20 meter circles and straight at w/t/c.

I started acclimating her to them on a walking trail ride and then hand walking her in the arena. She had been super calm about riding and working outside (which was frankly kind of shocking after her past behavior) so then I planned a light ride outside. Amazingly there were a couple of people working on dressage at the lower arena so I “joined” them and brought her down there. She was slightly tight when I mounted but after some work on walking and halting she breathed out and was perfect. I planned another longer ride out there, not thinking much about it, and she had a total meltdown. I was proud of myself that I put my trainer hat on and we worked for about an hour mostly riding but with some ground work as well. I was very patient and giving except when she was trying to rear because that is just not allowed. She was REALLY wound up though so ending on a good note meant just getting a decent, but very tight, trot and then a walk that wasn’t jigging as much.

I lunged her the next day and she was still really up but better so I planned another outdoor ride. The day before I’d had food poisoning and still wasn’t feeling 100% but I was just planning on a nice easy ride doing some walk, a little trot, and focusing on relaxation. That was not what Katai had in mind. She had another melt down which resulted in 45 minutes of work some lunging and mostly riding. I also overdid it and then ended up with mild heat stroke for the second time this year :(

At any rate I still had my trainer hat on and we did make progress. That was last weekend and this past week with the heat I didn’t make it out a ton and when I did I was being conservative with my rides. I decided to ride in the indoor to see if she was still as reactive since that might point to pain or discomfort. She hasn’t been uclery and after the first bad ride I palpated her back and couldn’t get a reaction but I figured it was still a good check point. However, we had an excellent, relaxed, flowing ride in the indoor so I’m 100% sure that in the outdoor it’s behavior related. I did a light halter lunge down there a couple of days ago and she was nice and relaxed and much less spooky and reactive so fingers crossed we’re headed in the right direction. At least with the easy boots I’m able to work on this!

I have high hopes that I’ll be able to finish up addressing this major tantrum behavior over the next week as I have time and then we can go back to productive rides that slowly ramp up fitness!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

No Longer Waiting

Oh goodness has it ever been a rollercoaster around here recently!

I had mentioned in a previous post(s) that I just felt like I was waiting for everything, well for the most part I’m not waiting anymore. Now I can finally talk about what has been going on. Without further ado, in no particular order, some of the big things that have been happening in my life recently!

First, I’ve been looking for a new job since the end of last year. I believe I started really applying at the end of November. Starting in January I started getting some interviews. Each time I made it to the final round and at least in two cases I was the 2nd place candidate. It was tough and I just tried to move on. I always feel like everything happens for a reason and so was the case with this. Then, in June I began interviewing for a major healthcare company in MN and this time I made it through and received an offer! Not only was it exactly the job I was looking for but my eventual offer was WAY more than what I I’d have been making at the other jobs I came close on. It is significantly more than what I make now which opened up a whole bunch of opportunities.

Second, a couple of months ago an opportunity came up to purchase a friend’s house. They’re moving out East and would prefer that their house, which they love, go to someone in the friend circle vs. to a stranger and it happened to be offered to us. Bf and I talked about it a ton and were interested but trying not to get too excited about it. Turns out that if you aren’t planning to buy a house you probably aren’t putting much into a down payment and a house in Minneapolis needs a pretty good sized down payment. We had a mortgage meeting scheduled but then when I knew an offer was on the way we delayed it so that we had that info. Very luckily in the meantime the bf got a promotion!! We talked with the mortgage person on the 3rd and it turns out that if we put all of our “extra” money into savings for the house we’ll be able to make it on time with a very small buffer. If it hadn’t been for my job offer and significant increase and my bf’s promotion we likely wouldn’t have been able to make it happen but now we can!!! We’re going to go ahead with it because at the worse we’ll have a bunch of money in a savings account that we can put toward a future house. That of course brings me to my third thing which is barn/boarding stuff.

Not that I have annnnny anxiety about this....

Barn boarding stuff has been up in the air for a little while. I know that my barn is going to close down at some point. At the soonest that will be the summer/fall of 2020 but there is some chance that it could be much further out. All of that is being determined now but what I don’t want to run into is trying to find a place in the last couple of months along with the other 20-40 boarders (tough to get a good count with how many people have multiple horses there). With that in mind I’ve been looking at other options for a while. During the winter I stumbled over the website of a barn I’d never heard of that’s to the SW of Minneapolis. I did some digging and it looked like an amazing set up. However, after my experience at the previous barn with S2 I was a little gun shy about “fancy” barns.

I bookmarked that website and moved on but I couldn’t quite get the barn out of my mind. I don’t remember exactly what prompted it (maybe the extremely cold winter) but at some point I reached out to the owner and set up a tour. I went out at some point in February on an EXTREMELY cold day and got a tour. It’s amazing. There are a few gold medalists that either train or clinic there and the indoor arena is enormous and amazing. There are serious dressage peeps but also lots of people who trail ride, ride western, event, etc. They even have an evening each week where they do horse agility! The property has a pond that you can ride in and access to TONS of trails. The outdoor arena is also very nice and they have a round pen that actually has great footing. This place gets fantastic reviews and the owner is a true business woman who seems to also really understand horse people (and owns a horse herself). I took a spot on the waitlist for a pasture spot because they still feed supplements to pasture horses and it sounds like the grass isn’t that rich but ideally I wanted to get a stall there eventually.

Then I went back and watched the resident gold medalist dressage trainer (who also events) teach a few lessons and that REALLY made me want to move. She was awesome. She taught in a light hearted but honest sort of way that was really refreshing.

Sushi dinner!!! with my bf :)

Fast forward to end of April. I was still on the waitlist at that barn. I went to the horse expo and just as I was leaving I saw Jane’s SO and then Jane. I actually teared up and when she saw me she did as well. We hugged and then I let them know that I’d been wanting to call and check in. Jane’s SO said “you should come see our new barn!” I kid you not the first think that I could think of was an amazing local barn that I’d seen for sale on Facebook. Sure enough he confirmed that’s what they were in the process of purchasing. Back in this post I went to see a potential instructor teach a lesson at this barn. After that I put it on my list as a backup place but then it sold to someone who didn’t want to operate it as a boarding barn and became a private stable. I seriously had goosebumps as Jane and her SO were talking about it. They invited me to move Katai there and I was seriously pumped about the opportunity.

That pretty much brings us to today. Ever since the horse expo I’ve been excited about both options. The issue currently is that both options with a stall are about double what I’m paying right now. I would be able to afford that, however, now since meeting with the mortgage person and deciding to purchase the house both options are out. I called Jane this week and let her know and she was really happy for us but sad that we weren't able to move there. It’s really bittersweet right now but I also am SUPER excited about buying a house and ultimately since that’s next spring it won’t be long and I’ll be able to move pretty much wherever I want at that time. In the meantime I’m still on the waitlist for the other barn for a pasture spot. If that opens up I’m going to make it work so that I can have a heated indoor sooner and also because that waitlist is seriously long and I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to be there. Mostly I’m just happy that I’m no longer waiting on everything!


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...