Monday, November 20, 2017

No Clip November

Turns out my mare bear is pretty good at no shave November :)

Soooo fluffy!
She's also extremely in heat probably since there are a couple of new horses at the barn and these newest two are boys. Cue lots of flirting for my little sass of a mare or as Jane would call her, "a tartlet".

The boy she is most interested in is a horse that I rode a few times for my previous instructor L. He's now up for sale after showing that he preferred jumping to dressage and so he's at Jane's as an in between barn while they get him to where he's eventually going.

The tall horse himself. 
In other news, I don't know if I mentioned that Jane finally sold her young horse. Strangely enough this guy is her half brother and they look a lot a like so I've already confused them at least once.

Luckily, despite Katai being extremely in heat we actually had a great ride tonight and I'm looking forward to my lesson tomorrow!
I've started to add more poles to our lunge work including
at the canter. This weekend I raised the pole for the first time.
Clearly we're kind of a big deal jumping wise ;)

Friday, November 17, 2017

Benched

How we stay warm in MN.
Please forgive my very clashy outfit
I have no idea what I did but I somehow ended up injuring my back this past weekend. At first I thought I had just pulled a muscle but it got worse by Tuesday so I rescheduled my lesson for Friday. Then I felt way better on Wednesday but didn't go to the barn because I had other plans. On Thursday I felt the worst that I had so, like any true horse person, I went to the barn.

To be fair, I did feel a bit better by the time I decided to leave and decided that worst things worst, I could just lunge. I did end up riding but probably shouldn't have. I kept it pretty short but did a bit of walk, posting trot, sitting trot, and canter to see if I would be able to do a lesson on Friday. I was on the fence by the time I left the barn and when I woke up just as sort today I decided to try to push it out until Sunday afternoon.

Just to balance out my whining, here are the newest puppy pictures :)
She's officially booked for a flight on 12/6!
I've got my fingers crossed that I feel well enough by then to have my lesson but if not, I'll have a lesson on Tuesday next week which isn't that far away now.

It's really unfortunate timing because Katai was completely over whatever had been bothering her and we'd had a great ride last Sunday, a great lunge on Monday, and at my ride yesterday she was sooo good despite my gimpyness.

I seriously have felt like this year just won't give me a break. I have a few exciting things going on in my personal life but it's felt all year like I'm taking 3 steps forward and 2.75 back. Hopefully I can end the year strong and I'm already looking forward to a fresh start in 2018.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Ok, Who Stole My Pony

She's not convinced that it's her color but I always
make her carry my jacket around after we finish.
Recently it sort of felt like someone stole my sweet, angelic pony and left a demon pony in her stall haha. Over the last few days I have even more reason to think that someone replaced Katai with a different pony.

A few days ago I went to spray, leave in conditioner on her mane by putting it on a brush and brushing it through. Anyone who's been following my blog for awhile will know that Katai has ALWAYS been terrified by the spray bottle. I've tried everything I can think of to get her used to it and over the past few months I gave up, deciding that it just wasn't worth the fight anymore.

She's the cutest
This time though when I went to brush the stuff on her mane she didn't react at all. Then I went for it and sprayed more on the brush when I was standing right next to her. Still no reaction, nothing, not even a twitch. I got so far as to spray it right on her tail which I've NEVER been able to do with her before.

Seriously weird.

Then today I tried it again, same thing and still no reaction at all. I again used the brush to put the spray on her but sprayed it right on her tail. I'm planning to work from her and maybe, just maybe, work up to actually spraying the product directly on her. That would be so fantastic!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Culprit(s)

My very first riding instructor always had her students hand walk their horses at least
5-6 times around the arena both before and after the ride.
That habit has stuck with me so I hand walk instead
of riding for part of my warm up and cool down.
I know that I don’t need to diagnose exactly what’s happened with Katai. However, I’d like to figure it out so that I can avoid it happening again and it’s just the way that my, slightly obsessive, brain works.

My first thought was ulcers she wasn’t showing any symptoms and she’s been showing textbook symptoms anytime that they’re bothering her. It stayed in the back of my mind but it didn’t seem to make sense to treat for them when she wasn’t showing any of the symptoms that she does normally.

My second thought was saddle fit. My concern was based on an observation from Jane when I first got my re-adjusted saddle back from the fitters. I thought it looked ok but Jane thought it might be slightly narrow. Katai is normally SO honest and didn’t react negatively to it at all so I went with it but it also was hanging out at the back of my mind. However, when she first started being impossible she also wasn’t reacting to her back being poked and prodded so I don’t think that initially caused it either.
 
So tough to get pictures of her without her following me around.
This one is a little weird but at least you can see her in her pretty quarter sheet :)
Instead I think what happened is that we pushed pretty hard for every ride for a week. It wasn’t that I wasn’t asking for stretchy/relaxed rides but Katai just wanted to run so I spent lots of time half halting and then pushing her forward. I was trying to make my decision but still help her use up some energy. I think that likely was coupled with the colder weather and the last bad heat cycle of the year.

Then she had a couple of rides where she was literally acting like a stone lama and was SO STIFF and hollow. I think that did cause her muscles to be sore. In addition I escalated more than I should have for one of those rides. That caused her to escalate and then shut down.

For the past week, since that lesson, I’ve been riding very gently and treating her like glass. I’ve been very focused on not escalating and making rides fairly short and easy so she feels like she’s got this and can gain some confidence again. It’s definitely a fine line though and in my lesson this week Jane helped me really finish putting the pieces back together and we started pushing her more again while still maintaining that patience and gentleness in my riding. I carried a whip again but only needed to tap her once and after that we moved on.
 
Right after I rode I was petting her neck and found a knot.
Her expression always clearly tells me when
I find one and she leans into me as I work on them
Not only did we push her to actually do the work but we also added a tough new exercise of half pass (from shoulder in) to the quarterline, a couple of straight steps, and then back to the wall in a leg yield. I won’t say it was pretty but we did get it done which certainly wouldn’t have happened earlier this year or last week haha. There were definitely sullen pony moments but overall she was really good and I was really pleased.

Our biggest homework is the canter. I used to have huge canter anxiety but thanks to Katai it’s been nearly 100% cured. However, the pony from last week was terrifying me at the canter a bit. She had a hump in her back but if I put leg on she’d just stop and stand there with her ears pinned back. She was also trying to bolt and didn’t want to be told no which is unusual for her. At my lesson this week we’d already asked for a lot so we didn’t do much canter but what we did was closer to lateral than it’s been for a while and just felt sort of weak and stiff. I think that mainly I just need to do more canter for the next week and hopefully we'll be right back to where we were. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

If the Broom Fits

Well, I didn't end up dressing up for my Halloween lesson but if I had I would have totally dressed Katai as a witch...

This year
Goals for next year


She was just as bad, if not worse, for this ride with Jane as she has been for the rest of the week. I was SO GLAD that I had Jane there to help me and make sure that it wasn't just me. I knew that some of it was me but I also needed to know what to change and how since I had run out of tools.

Jane was able to be really helpful but even she commented on how horrible Katai was being. Honestly if I didn't know better I'd say that she'd run out of Magnesium because she's acting more like she used to when she wasn't getting that. I suppose it wouldn't be unheard of for something to be off with her supplements but I trust Smartpak so I really doubt it. Both Jane and I are thinking that it's the change in the weather combined with a bunch of new horses in the barn and a new routine.

I'm really hoping that it is just that and that she decides to return to normal sooner rather than later. I won't even go into much about tonight since it wasn't as though we really made any progress beyond ending with a slightly looser pony than we started with. Very telling was that she was really sweaty around her ears and on her neck despite the cold and the fact that she really didn't work that hard or for that long. I really think it was just where she was mentally tonight.

She's looking cute since she got a spa day yesterday but that's about all I have that's positive about where we are with our riding and dressage progress at this point haha. Along with the spa day I had a challenging (but better) ride yesterday only because I literally didn't ask for anything and just bombed around while my new fellow boarders rode around with us.

Just as I hoped it was great to have them there and is still motivating me to go to the barn despite current pony/human relations being so challenging :)

Also, more puppy pictures for your daily dose of cute!!





I can't believe that she'll be 5 weeks old this week! Only about a month left before she comes home :)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Full Barn

I sort of feel like I just need some catchy theme music and a shot of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Maybe something like this?
Back to the updates though, my friends moved in!! There are now nine horses in the barn with 5 of those being people who will be riding and taking lessons, 2 that belong to Jane, and 2 retirees.

First though I want to back up a little.

Since my last post I gave Katai Friday off and then lunged on Saturday. It was apparent when I lunged that pony had a very tired hind end, especially her right hind. I'm fairly certain that's what started the argument on Thursday and if I'd known I would have just given her the day off but hindsight is always perfect I guess.

Instead, at least I know now and after that I decided to try a redo on the easy stretchy ride this morning. I got to the barn fairly early so that I could ride and get everything closed up and put away before three new horses (all mares) and a bunch of people showed up. Long story short, it worked! She was definitely not completely thrilled about the idea of working and definitely felt a little tired but unlike Thursday she was willing to at least try to do what I was asking.

I kept it really simple with lots of straight lines and big circles. I worked a lot at the walk, did a little trot, and finally just a tiny bit of canter in each direction. I didn't even try the lateral work since I didn't want to push her at all and I was really trying to repair human/pony relations.  After the ride I worked on her hooves a bit and then cuddled her back up in her blanket and turned her out.

Neither one of us is thrilled with this weather
It was right around lunch time at that point so I headed in to town, got some taco bell and a coffee to try to warm up and then headed back. I had just gotten back into the barn and started cleaning my tack when Jane showed up and shortly after that we heard the truck pull up outside.

It was so much fun to help them find their stalls and hang out while they got the official barn tour and started to move their stuff in. This is such a fun group and we were having a great time just hanging out getting the horses used to the arena :) Jane also figured out the lesson schedule and it worked out great! I've been trying out a schedule of Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday rides. That way I'm still riding 5 times a week without it all being back to back and I don't need to drive on Friday night and risk all the drunk drivers. All three are planning to have their lessons on Wednesday evening which means I won't need to change my schedule in order to not interfere with their lessons since that's already a night off.

Tomorrow my hope is to do a bit more work and at least do some leg yields and a bit more canter. What's really exciting is that there will be OTHER PEOPLE there! At least two of my friends, now identified as C and J2, will be there as well. It's so much easier to be motivated to go to the barn knowing that there will be other people there.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Snowmageddon

Not the snow falling outside, which is happening, but this particular 13.2 hands of snowy white fluff.

Don't let her cute looks fool you
She was a PILL yesterday for my ride. I had really low expectations for that ride and just wanted to do about 15-20 minutes of stretchy, bendy, walk and trot work and just a simple canter each direction of the arena. Basically the only reason I was going to ride was to stretch her out and help her feel better after the hard work of the lesson on Tuesday.

Unfortunately all Katai had planned was to do the exact opposite of what I wanted. I asked for a trot and got a canter, asked for a leg yield (again with the trying to help her work out the stiffness) and got a lengthening, I asked for a canter and got a halt and so on and so forth.

Supremely frustrating but I'm proud of how I rode it which was to just keep trying to find a mutual solution to the disagreement and yet I wasn't coddling her.

I think the main reason for the fussiness was that she's using different muscles and likely a little sore. Combine that with a pony that likes to get the right answer but now is being asked to change what the right answer is and she was both physically and mentally locked up and crabby.

Therefore our ride turned from a 15 minute easy prance to a nearly 60 minute tough, mental, sweaty workout. However, we did get somewhere. Recently especially I've really been a diplomat. I know we're changing things so if I can get even 75% of what I'm asking I'm going with it, probably to the detriment of our riding goals, but it has helped to mitigate our riding related meltdowns. Yesterday was no different except I wasn't even getting 25% and through pushing to get at least that much I ended up getting closer to 100% by the end on certain things.

I did end up letting a lot of things go, she was still VERY tense but was letting me at least bend her and help her try to loosen up. I also had to let go of the stride length because about the only thing she seemed capable of was tiny itty bitty strides. Instead I made those strides fall at the tempo I wanted even if it meant that it took us forever to make our way around the ring. The real victory was that she actually was letting me put my leg on and was accepting it in both directions and was moving away from it equally in both directions. She also was taking contact on the right rein which was what initially started the meltdown (although I started out asking for about 25-50% of what I needed and at the end after all that fuss I ended up with closer to 100% of what I need).

I was good for the ride and after I was still pleased with how I'd handled but also emotional at how far back this step is. I dealt with this pony (or a slightly worse version to be honest) for over 2 years and she's been SOOO good recently that it's painful to be back here. We're still along for the ride and I know this is just a blip but it's a really painful blip right now.

In other snowy news, the weather man was actually pretty accurate.


I took the picture above a couple of hours ago and a lot more has fallen since then. It's still 33* and the ground is still warm enough that it's melting on the roads and just wet for driving but it's really sticking around more than I expected on the grass.

Also, here's a picture of my new little snowball!!!!!!!!!!

Already practicing the side eye
I'm dying over here wanting to just snuggle her so bad.

                          

Alas, I have just over a month to wait. It sounds like the breeder is aiming for the last week in November/First week in December and is working with the airline right now to arrange travel.

As to the details, she is a long haired Chihuahua. One part of my decision is that I really have wanted a dog I can bring to the barn and, while Veggie is the perfect dog in every other respect, he's just too keyed up by visual stimuli to be safe there. However, because I love his personally so much (he's an Italian greyhound/chi cross) I've really been wanting a Chi. Add to that the fact that a LOT of my horse friends have Chihuahuas all of whom are really nice little barn dogs and I decided to go with it.

I looked around for a long time for a breeder I liked that was producing happy, well adjusted dogs (especially important for toy dog breeders in my opinion) and finally found this one. I got first pick of litter, however, one thing I was inflexible on was that I wanted a girl and, wouldn't you know, this litter only had one girl. However, she is exactly what I wanted so all those positive thoughts I sent to her mom must have worked :)

Now I just have to somehow make it through the next 4-5 weeks and I'll get to finally welcome her home!!