|I'm loving her new halter. |
You can't really see it here but it actually has her show name on it!
The new schedule has been super helpful although I haven’t been able to 100% stick to it yet. I have been doing the most intensive planned days though which has been huge. This past weekend I didn’t go do adventure day on Sunday but did go on Labor Day to “make up for it” so I’m proud of myself for that. I think that the only day I’ve really struggled with is spa day. If it’s nothing other than grooming I’m finding that my motivation just isn’t there so I think I may reschedule a bit or just move to the more intense schedule a bit sooner than planned.
Rides have been going really well! Unfortunately it’s been a looooooong time since I consistently rode even 2 days a week so we’ve both lost a lot of strength and fitness. I’m continuing to work on losing weight and gaining muscle out of the saddle though and with the plan I’ve put into place it seems like Katai is thriving off the work. She’s moving really well and we really did make some progress on random things over the summer even with the lack of work. Relaxation is a big one and she’s traveling much looser and longer from head to tail than she used to. This feels like a huge win for us.
Our second real work day ride was more about endurance than collection and so I added some time to our ride. Total work time under saddle (including walk warm up and cool down) had been right around 20 minutes. This past week we moved that up to 30 by increasing the walk and trot. I still haven’t cantered because now I realized that her saddle is too wide (loss of muscle) and so it is sliding forward badly at the canter. I need to bring my shim pads to the barn as a temporary solution but I keep forgetting. To make up for that and continue to add canter endurance I have been doing a fair amount of canter on the lunge.
Then on Monday’s make up Adventure Day I did some work in hand. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do on the way to the barn but figured I’d either do a low key ride around the barn or some in hand work. It ended up that, for some reason, I was having high anxiety and so was she. Often even if I’m having a high anxiety day when I get to the barn and she’s her normal calm self I can get my anxiousness down but on Monday she was also really anxious. With that I decided that, for multiple reasons, it made the most sense to do ground work.
The best thing about the situation on Monday was that with us both being high anxiety it was a good mini replication of what it would be like at a horse show. I decided to work her in hand around the trailers since that’s an issue typically. Somehow, magically, as I was working with her I ended up finding a tool to resolve a major issue I’ve always had with working her on the ground. For some reason something clicked with me that what’s tough about handling her on the ground is when she crosses in front of my driving line because then I lose the ability to effectively handle her. With that in mind I was holding the coiled up lunge in directly in front of my driving line (dead center in front of my body) and would flap it against the front of my legs if she got too close to crossing that invisible “wall”. This was seriously like a miracle and not only did she get it right away, she also stopped pulling and remained on the side I was trying to lead her on without a bunch of barging and pulling. It’s so simple that I can’t believe that it took me this long to figure it out. At least now we have one more way to effectively communicate with each other.
With that tool I worked on walking towards and away from the parked trailers since when we go to walk away from the trailer she always loses her marbles. Then we also went up to the wash stall and practiced standing in it. Both were productive and I continue to feel like our communication, trust bank, and relationship are improving in leaps and bounds which is paying dividends for everything I’m working on with her. The gains in relationship and trust are the biggest success for us this year and that’s a huge thing.