I'm back for a post or two! I have truly loved moving to Instagram and find it has been so much easier with my general lack of motivation recently to still journal and interact with my internet friends without having to write long posts. Some things though just need a little more space.
|Handgrazing is one of our new, favorite, pastimes|
This year, other those truly awful things we're all aware of, has honestly been awesome for me. Those couple of years where I wasn't riding much have paid off in that I have an amazing and strong relationship with an amazing partner, own a home, and have a job that I adore. Without taking a step back from riding and horse things I don't know that I would have been able to accomplish all of that. Now, I'm able to enjoy the effort that I put into those things but also have time and energy to go to the barn and the motivation to go.
So far, since I've moved to the new barn, I've made it out there 6 days a week and have been riding 5 days a week pretty regularly. When that doesn't happen, like last week, I get right back on track the following week. It feels so amazing to be going regularly and making progress again. I wasn't riding that regularly even when I was working with Jane. What doesn't always feel great is the slow, steady work of getting both of our strength back but I also have confidence that we'll get there and that doing it the right way will take time.
|We've also done a lot of hand walking down the sand track to build confidence. |
The cross country course is in the center.
What also feels great is that all the slow work I've done over the past two years has led to better work that I was getting when I was working regularly with Jane. Even though I haven't had regular lessons in the meantime I have been slowly chipping away at things like increasing relaxation and improving me and Katai's partnership as well as managing my anxiety. These things have been working and are now paying off in a big way.
After just about two months at the new barn I'm doing things that I could only dream of before. That includes having productive rides in the outdoor arena(s) where I'm doing about 90% of my rides at this point. No only is she just as engaged and ridable (and relaxed) outdoors now as she was indoors during good rides last year but we can switch which outdoor arena we're in and still get really good work. We're also hacking out by ourselves and even if it's just a short ride down the sand gallop track (at a walk of course) it's HUGE for us.
|Hopefully a new phone will mean less blurry screen grabs!|
I credit this to me having a better handle on my anxiety and also on all of the relaxation work and team building. That work has helped me but has also helped Katai to have a better sense of humor about things. This barn is BUSY. There are people, trailers, farm equipment, screaming kids, dogs, bikes, you name it all over the place all the time. Katai has done so well that she's one of the favorites of the girls that work at the barn and resident barn rats and they've even told me that "she's pretty near bomb proof" which were not words I EVER expected to hear about Katai.
I'd say I couldn't believe the change but I've truly put blood, sweat, and tears into this especially over the past year so this is really just a lot of hard work paying off.
|Gotta make sure the Pivo is tracking|
One of the main shifts for me in how my mindset has shifted is that I feel really planted. In the past I always knew I was moving to a different state and/or moving onto my own farm. It was something I had wanted so badly for so long that I always felt like I had one foot out the door. It didn't feel like it made sense to build a solid team of body workers, vets, saddle fitters, farrier, etc. because I felt like I was "just moving away anyway". It also meant that I was especially picky about board because it felt like I was just managing it until I could move to my own place. In addition, it kept me from really figuring out ways to deal with inconveniences like our weather, boarding things, or bugs.
With meeting my boyfriend I needed to change that mindset because he loves this place and has never wanted to move. Within the first few months of meeting each other we had a lot of conversations about city vs. farm life and if I could be happy here. It was a decision I took very seriously and put a lot of thought into because I never wanted to feel negatively about him or the relationship because of a decision that was mine to make. In the end, I decided I could be truly happy living in Minneapolis for the rest of my life and honestly it's one of the best decisions I've ever made.
That planted feeling has led me to finding solutions for things instead of just whining about them. It's led me to working on my anxiety vs. feeling like I could just run away from it. It's also led me to just bucking up and dealing with things like heat or humidity since I can't just move away from it and I don't want the middle of summer and the middle of winter to be excuses to stop riding or making progress.
|I've also really dialed in Katai's diet and the Vitamin E is part of |
what I credit to her current ability to relax.
Those solutions have led to new tools like cooling towels for the summer and a great water bottle as well as warmer layers and the realization that personally I need to board at a heated barn for winter. They've also led to a strong team of horse professionals around us to help make sure Katai is feeling her best and that I've got the support I need to keep making progress. Finally, one good thing that came out of COVID is the ability to do remote video lessons. For the first time, while I have the money this fall for a truck and was planning to move forward with that and get a trailer next spring/summer I'm actually taking that off my list. Instead I'm going to upgrade my phone for a better camera and processor and figure out how to get the Pivo working for remote lessons or upgrade to something like a Pixio.
Next year the plan is to find opportunities to ride with people to just a couple of dressage shows. It's not going to be quite as easy to figure out trailer loading stuff without my own but I figure that if I can make it work for a few years and pay off some more debt I'll be in a more comfortable place to get my own in the near future. I'm also just feeling confident enough that Katai will be better at shows with the very show like atmosphere at our barn every day. That helps me feel like I'm not going to need to trailer her out every weekend to get used to it and can instead maybe have a handful of productive shows next year.
|The new dressage arena with fiber footing is <3|
Fingers crossed we're in a better place pandemic wise next year and shows are easier and more available than this year!