Monday, April 28, 2014

Well Tonight Sucked

I have nothing positive to say other than that we didn't kill each other.

I'm normally a really positive person and on my blog I find the sun behind the clouds or the half full glass but tonight that just isn't the case. I really did know that she wasn't going to be her normal self at the new barn, in a new environment, around new horses, in a new arena but I hoped that some smidgen of the Katai that I know and love would remain. Instead I got some sort of devil pony in her place tonight.

I think she was more scared than naughty and I treated it as such being gentle but firm but when she continued to blow through my aids on the lunge I got firmer and it barely made a difference. On top of that, and I'm aware it wasn't helping me at all, I had an audience. All things considered it was the best audience I could have had of a few of the more"rough and ready" riders that have dealt with young horses but they've been boarding there for many, many years and although nothing Katai did was any different than what any young horse might have done I still feel like it's going to be the gossip of the barn.

I stayed almost two hours late at work so that I could get to the barn late, and I easily had enough work to do to fill the time since it is retirement plan audit season, so I got there around 6:30. I ate my dinner and changed so that I was catching and tacking up closer to 7:00 and hoped the barn would be quiet and it was for a little while. I wanted nothing more than to have the place to myself the first couple of times I worked her so that I wouldn't make a scene or disturb anyone else. It did sort of work since not one of the three people that showed up rode their horse but Katai did certainly get a lot of attention. They cooed over her while I tacked her up and she wasn't great in the cross ties but not as bad as I'd feared either. Then I got her into the arena and all hell broke loose. I knew she'd look at the mirrors but what I didn't guess was that she would think that every time she saw them she was seeing a friendly herd member that immediately trotted away as soon as she went past. She was transfixed staring at them since that was the only way to keep the "friend" there and every time I got her to go past the mirror she about had a heart attack. The one thing I'm proud of, and yet still second guessing myself on, is that I rode.

After close to 30 minutes of lunging, all over the arena and in different directions, she was calming down just enough that I thought I might actually have a better shot if I were mounted. As I said at the beginning we did survive but lots of turn on the forehands later and a couple of fairly reasonable short walks in a straight line at my direction and I climbed off and called it a day. She felt like she either wanted to rear or bolt the entire time but she did listen to me and kept all four feet on the ground with some help from me.

Its tough to know if it was the right thing to do and I was evaluating the situation the entire time I was in there trying to figure out what my options were to turn the situation around. I think a whole bunch of stuff like the weather, seriously?!? 8 days of pouring rain and crazy howling winds at below 40, or the new place or the people while I tacked up hugging her and making a fuss over her certainly didn't help and I do realize they are all things that she needs to get used to and I WANT her to get used to it's just that I wanted to do my best to ease her into all of it and not have it strike at once.

I'm still trying to pick out anything positive that I can and I'm definitely not by any means giving up. I'll be out there again tomorrow to repeat the whole process. Hopefully minus that craziness.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Moving Day!

Finally, finally, finally it was time to move Katai. I woke up at 7:45am since I specifically set my alarm close to the time I needed to leave so that I wouldn't have much time to sit around and get nervous. I really don't know what it is about trailering that freaks me out but it's bad.

I got to the barn right around 8:40am after a quick stop for breakfast and to fill up my car's tank with gas. The horse's were still on the round bale and Christina, the wonderful person who had agreed to haul Katai for me, was still in the house. I grabbed Katai's halter and waded through the thick mud to catch her and bring her into the barn. I put her halter pads on and fitted her out with a cooler. I also scraped some of the muck off of her legs and then led her outside. It was windy and cool and I had changed the routine so Katai was already a little keyed up and as soon as Christina opened the trailer door you would have thought she'd opened the gates to hell. Katai started bouncing up on her hind legs and running her shoulder in to me. Yes, of course it is partially my fault for being keyed up and nervous but it's something I'm working on.

I reminded her that she needed to listen to me and not trample me and she started to obey again. Once I led her up to the trailer she climbed right in, I tied her and we were off. I led the way in my car since Christina didn't know where we were going so I didn't get any "pony in trailer" pictures but here is one from last time we moved her with the same trailer so you get the idea.
It was a short and uneventful trip and then we were there!!
I got her unloaded without a fuss and was walking her around trying to figure out how to get J involved and figure out where to put her when J herself stuck her head out the door of the indoor arena and yelled where to put her. Gotta love barn owners with mind reading capabilities!

 Everything is just so dry and free of mud. It's so completely wonderful not having to wear thigh high boots to survive a simple task like catching my horse. Katai was well behaved and really very quiet. She patiently waited to be led to her pen and then after briefly sniffing noses with the horse next door, a fancy and gorgeous warmblood from CA that looks twice as tall as my pony, she went and tucked into her hay. I don't blame her, that hay looks so good I'd like to eat it and she's got a pile in front of her that will last her until feeding time tomorrow. Since she is a little thin right now coming out of winter, I could say more about that but for now I'm just glad I'm at a different barn, I'm really happy that she can stuff her face.

After seeing that she was just going to calmly eat hay I went up to the barn to unpack my car and get my locker sorted out.

This is inside the heated tackroom/viewing area/grooming area looking at my locker and the one way mirror that makes up the viewing area window.

My nicely stuffed locker :-)

Looking into the grooming area, bathroom on the left and the indoor arena to the right. My locker is behind me to the right.
In the grooming area. There are three indoor grooming bays and one outdoor. This morning when I was there they were all full all the time. These pictures are from when I went back this evening to check to make sure Katai is settling in (she was). I'm so excited to have people to ride with!
Outdoor grooming space.

Finally the cross country course and some of the expansive pastures :)

So there we go. I am completely happy and relieved that it finally happened. When I went back in the evening Katai was calm and relaxed and after I scratched her for a little while and made sure she was ok I went home. Tomorrow I am going to the horse expo again with Lisa and will be there for most of the day. In the evening we are both going out to the barn to visit Katai and I'm going to stick around and work with her.

My hope is that Sunday evening will be pretty quiet so that I'll have the arena and grooming area to myself the first time or two. I'd like to give us both a couple of days of practice with cross ties and the indoor without bothering anyone else with her antics. Its really an unfounded concern since she's not bad, just a horse and no worse, or better, than any of the other horses here but she just hasn't been exposed to any of this stuff and I plan on doing my homework and not burdening anyone else with our inexperience.

Friday, April 25, 2014

VCBH: Appreciating What You Have


Let's take a moment to appreciate the Pros of our current ponies, whether you own them or just ride them in lessons.

1. Katai is socially very adept:

Ok, so I don't know if this is a good thing or trouble but she has twice now flirted her way to the top.
The bay gelding standing closer to the camera is Max and he was the herd boss when Katai was first moved into this field. She immedietly started flirting with him and as soon as she became "his girl" she got to eat first, drink first, and had constant protection. (Note the other mares looking longingly from afar) The bay gelding standing further away from the camera is the current herd boss and he is so smitten with her now that he will literally clear the way for her. Like a guy putting his coat over a puddle so the girl won't get her shoes dirty. The white blob laying between them is, of course, Katai being watched over by her two men.

2. She's really bold.

Katai rarely every spooks at anything and while she does sometimes look its very relaxed and often she will even travel towards the thing that she is looking at.

3. She's not herd bond.

Right now with spring hormones she's been a little clingy and frustrating to deal with but I keep reminding myself that she's never been herd bound and once the spring heat cycle is done with I'll have my adventure loving pony back.

4. She is adorable!!

5. Her confirmation.

Is really quite good for a backyard mutt pony.

6. Her mind.

She is doing incredibly well. Today I was riding her like I've been told to ride in my lessons and guess what, it works! She was round and soft, I was able to give her the reins and have her stretch down. She is still being clingy with the boys but she listened and worked despite her misgivings about being by herself in the barn.

I am soooo proud of my little pony and we move tomorrow!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Travel Restrictions Have Ended!!!!!!

Which means three very important things.

1. I can stop wearing separate clothing, boots, jacket, gloves etc. to each barn and washing them right away when I get home.

2. I can go to the MN Horse Expo on Friday and not have to worry, feel guilty that I may expose my pony to something.

3. I get to move Katai!!!!!

Our plan is proceeding as is at this point to move Katai early on Saturday morning. I feel like I've been waiting soooo long and it has been almost exactly a month since I planned on moving her. We've made good progress during that time and it makes me feel even more ready to get started with lessons on my little horse. Finally :)

Monday, April 21, 2014

We're Still Here

I promise :-)

Things have been weird lately. Crazy weather dumped 12-18 inches of snow on my area while leaving places only 20-25 miles away completely clear. Spring has hit in a big way, other than the previously mentioned snow storm, so pony mare has been NUTZ. Easter. The EHV-1 thing has been staying quiet, knock on wood, but after being put off so many times I still kind of feel like I’m stuck in limbo and was having trouble getting excited for the move plus work has been busy and I’ve got a big independent project I’m working on that I’ve been having fun with so I’ve put a lot of focus into that.

Because of all of the above I missed going to the barn from Monday-Friday last week and which made everything feel even weirder. When Thursday came around and I had my lesson I regained motivation and was pumped to get back and work with Katai. Since then I haven’t missed a day.

Friday I lunged her with side reins for the first time in a long while and had them a bit shorter than I normally do and she was excellent! I also groomed her and fed her her grain which is more necessary than it has been in awhile since I can see her ribs! Saturday I rode and made a lot of progress. I felt like I was actually retaining some stuff from my lessons and it was working the way it’s supposed to! She was more through than she’s been but she was also INCREDIBLY spooky. She just does these funny little jumps in place and then moves right on but after about 10-15 of these things it started to get funny, and a little frustrating, since I felt like even though she was listening pretty well her mind was somewhere else. Sunday I spent a couple of hours with her on Easter morning and the weather was spectacular! Warm, humid, warm, sunny, warm! I remembered what it was like to not feel like you’re just trying to survive outside. We went on a short trail ride and despite the temperature she was amped up.  She really does a good job of listening and not being overly naughty but she was right on the edge of even listening so I kept it short and positive. After we got back, in one piece, I took her out to graze and her gratitude was so clear that I actually teared up. All of the other horses, whos’ owners rarely make it to the barn, were staring at us and trying to convince me to take them out as well.

Tonight I was out again and it was rough. The hussy mare has decided that she CAN'T SURVIVE without her friends, cue sappy music. She had lost her mind, gone, poof, no mind here, and spun wildly back and forth while tied to the wall. I may not always be the smartest human but I realized pretty quickly that we weren't going to make any positive progress doing anything that involved brain cells so I brought her outside to the round pen to gallop in crazy speedy circles for awhile and finally worked on clipper and spray bottle desensitization. I am extremely proud to say that we are finally making some progress with those things and she stood fairly still for both tonight. I groomed her, rebagged her tail and let her graze and eat her grain and then put her back. 

Hopefully the hormones will calm down soon and I'll have my reasonable Katai back.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Outbreak Part II: Delayed Again

Let me start by saying that I’m so sorry for anyone who lost a horse recently due to EHV-1 and all of you who have either had a horse pass away or who are currently caring for a sick horse are in my thoughts. It would be an extremely horrible thing to go through.

 Now, with that being said, my move has been delayed again. I’m certainly not interested in risking any horses, either my own or those at the new barn, but I’m so anxious to move to the new place! Last night I had my weekly riding lesson and it went extremely well. I also have been able to continue to observe barn things and this is why I love this barn.

The farm from above. Mares to the right, geldings to the left. You can see the outdoor and indoor and the pond is surrounded by an eventing course.

1. No mud!!!!! Seriously, the place that Katai is living right now looks like one big mud pit which is quite normal with all of the snow we’ve melted and especially with how quick it’s been melting this year but sometimes I feel like my pony is living in a cesspool. The current barn owner hasn’t turned on the water to the barn yet either so there is no way to wash off mucky feet. The new place has well drained pens and gravel walkways. I was able to get my horse in my paddock boots and not get them mucky at all vs. needing to wear my waders.

2. The people. Sure there are the one or two competitive types but I like those people and respect them. I let them do their thing and just concentrate on myself. I haven’t heard any back biting or negative comments and mostly the barn is made up of eventers who seem to be a more practical lot and are the type of people I grew up around.

3. There are always people there. This may get old eventually but I ride by myself about 90% of the time right now and it gets REALLY old. A huge part of why I wanted to board, vs. keeping my horse on my own property, is so that I can be around other horse people and I will finally have that opportunity.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Viva Carlos’ Magical Blog Hop: Our Commercial Moment

After, unfortunately, having to sit out for the last few blog hops due to my impending but again delayed move (a topic for the next post) I was really excited to see another VCMBH that I could participate in!

What are you buying next? Not your "Wish I could" list but your actual practical pony shopping list. And if it’s a high ticket item you are saving for what is it and when do you expect to order/get it?

1. Sponges: Yay right!?! Well I do need them both for tack cleaning and for pony cleaning which leads me right into the next item on my list…

2. Grooming Products: All of the grooming products, all of them. I have seriously never even owned a bottle of Show Sheen that’s how sad my grooming product supply is. In fact, other than the copious amounts of Cowboy Magic I needed for Sora’s long mane, I’ve never bought much other than fly spray and maybe some fly lotion. I can count the number of times that I’ve bathed a horse that I’ve owned (over that last 16 years even) on my fingers. I seriously have some catching up to do and it’s not so much that I need to IMEDIETLY start putting products on my pony, it’s more like both of us should get used to it because of the shows I hope to do and the fact that there are actually people who know how to use grooming products at the new barn. Specifically I’ve got Cowboy Magic Green Spot Remover in my SmartPak cart and I’m looking for a good mane and tail conditioner. Does anyone have any good grooming product suggestions for a mostly white pony?

3. Brown Paddock Boots: I had a really cute and extremely comfortable pair that I found used for $5 but unfortunately after two summers of abuse the zipper in the back of one died. I’m still wearing them since they stay shut with my adorable matching $8 brown leather half chaps on but the zipper digs into the back of my heel so it’s time to find a new pair. Yes, I’m cheap.

4. Show Clothing: I will seriously be hitting up as many local thrift shops (we have lots of riders in the area), used tack swaps, and sales as possible because I need everything. I do have a couple of pairs of breeches that would work for schooling shows but that’s about it. I’m sure I won’t do anything other than schooling shows this year, and that’s if I show at all, but I’d rather not wait until the last minute to find what I need since that means I’ll spend more than I want.

5. The painful one, I may need a saddle :( I HATE saddle shopping and find it to be a miserable experience. If I had all of the money in the world and could get an adorable, custom dressage saddle in contrasting leather colors from Custom Saddlery it would be fun but saddle shopping on a budget for a tough-to-fit pony is not an enjoyable experience and it always makes me hurt in my brain and my credit card.

Luckily I don’t have any other high ticket items that I want/need right now and although I’m sure I’ll find something to spend my money on at the upcoming MN Horse Expo but I’m going to try to stick to the stuff listed above.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Good Reason for a Name Change

My pony really isn’t stubborn. Yesterday started out sort of poorly after discovering in the morning that my car, which just last week got a new transmission that I paid way too much for, was doing EXACTLY the same thing it had been doing before it was “fixed”. I called the shop right away in the morning, nearly in tears and they said to bring it in after work which meant getting permission to leave early. Luckily I was able to leave early but it meant that I wouldn’t be able to ride or spend time with Katai and after my recent vacation and not really spending any time with her last week that was a huge blow.

It’s not that the repair shop was going to take that much time it is just that it doesn’t make any sense to drive all the way home (the shop is about two minutes from my house) and then drive back, past work, to get to the barn.  Unfortunately I am not rich enough to be able to not worry about the cost of gas so I try to make my trips count.

At any rate, I finished at the shop (still no answers) and then headed home to eat dinner and watch movies. I got home around 5:15 which is way earlier than normal and the internal debate began. It’s really not that late, I could totally make it back to the barn, its far away, a waste of gas, I miss my poneh!!!, seriously just be an adult!, pout, I wouldn’t get back until close to 10:00PM, but I want to RIDE, etc.

I miss my pony won.

I drove the 40 minutes back to the barn and proceeded to have one of the best, most productive rides with Katai that I’ve had. I feel like she was studying The Complete Training of Horse and Rider by Alois Podhajsky while I was on vacation. 

She was listening to my seat and paying attention to subtleties that she hasn’t in the past and she was moving back to front at a walk. Pushing off with her hind end and letting me change her balance a bit with the reins. It was glorious! She was hot and jumpy, not really abnormal with her which is really odd compared to any other pony I’ve worked with, but she listened and just like normal our riding work was better than anything on the ground. It’s not that she doesn’t have excellent ground manners, she REALLY does, it’s just that she seems to get bored and frustrated with the simple stuff really easily and as soon as I give her something to work on she goes right into the zone. Like pony Zen.

 Standing tied with hay “Gahhhh this wall is going to eats me!!!”, “I’m doing a Levade for no reason”, “What, you didn’t want me to break your grooming tote?”

Riding “Well of course I can move forward, whatever you ask”, “Oh, you want me to canter over a tarp for the first time psh no problem”, “What coyote howling, I don’t hear that I’m trotting forward with rhythm here lady, get with the program”

I actually find her extremely frustrating when I’m not riding her. I’ve never had a horse that was better behaved under saddle than when doing something simple like standing with hay to eat, or getting groomed. Again, her ground manners when she's allowed to move are impeccable but as soon as I'm asking her to stand or wait she's having a meltdown. I’ve always used those simple things as a gauge to tell how likely I am to die while mounted. With Katai that gauge doesn’t work very well. Hopefully maturity will bring a similar zen like quality to her ability to stand tied, or just be still, sooner rather than later.


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Road Tripping 2: In Which The Shopping Happens

Ok, so really, when you go on vacation in a new place why wouldn't you visit every tack shop possible? 

I had the opportunity to visit three between yesterday before seeing my sister play in her recital and today. I did some googling and found a few likely paces.

First, the Schneiders.

I honestly didn't realize they had any retail locations and when I asked I was told that this is the only one. 

It was large and lovely inside and was split pretty evenly between English and Western tack with lots of horse care supplies. I bought healthy horse treats and whitening shampoo, it is mud season :(

Second was Chagrin Saddlery.

This one was smaller and recommended by my sister's horse owning friend. If anyone reading this is ever in the Cleveland area I HIGHLY recommend that you visit them. It was small but the people were extremely friendly and helpful without being at all pushy. Plus, they had Asmar products!!!! I've been wanting to try on their clothing for a long time now because while they look really excellent on models I wasn't sure if they would look good on someone with curves. Even better, one of the jackets that I had my eyes on was 40% off 0-0 I totally lucked out and really couldn't leave without it. I will probably even do a review since it is one of the best purpose made riding jackets that I've ever tried. I also bought a pair of Asmar socks to add to my sock collection :)

Last but not least I went to Clippity Clop.

 It was the most western of all of the shops and I picked out a pink nylon halter since I no longer have a spare that fits Katai and since my main halter is leather and breakable it would be good to have a spare.

So as you can see it was a fun productive day :)

If you want more information about Asmar or haven't heard of them I highly suggest you check them out here ->

Thursday, April 3, 2014

End of March Analysis

                March Goals - Review

1. Move to new facility (me and Katai) – I am so ready to move and get going with our new life of lessons and progress!

Nada. It was completely out of our control thanks to the horrible EHV-1 outbreak. Hopefully there will be no more cases.

2. Continue to take lessons  (me) – I will be taking weekly lessons on the lessons horses available until I move Katai.

No, but pretty close and again out of my control. I missed one lesson last week due to a freak blizzard/loaner car that evening and this week I'm not able to because of this vacation. 

3. Work on consistency (Katai) – This is a huge one! I have the rest of the month to work with Katai and based on this move I have changed some of my goals. 

Yes!! So far any way. I haven't been able to test it at the new barn yet but I've been riding consistently and Katai had been improving in leaps and bounds. Her groundwork and patience have gotten that much better as well.

4. Strength (me and Katai)– 

Yes! I've been riding more consistently and Katai feels stronger and wants to GO. I've also made it out running a few times with the nicer weather and have done a better job at doing core strengthening exercises in the evening. Riding is mostly (pony trots require A LOT of posting) feeling better and less tiring.

5. Desensitization (or whatever you’d like to call it) (Katai)– Katai is going to have fairly different things expected of her at the new place. 

Pretty much. I haven't been able to test it out at the new place yet but we did a few days of trailer refresher classes as well as lots of clipper work. I was planning on not actually clipping her body this spring but now with the extra week and temps getting warmer by the day I think I am going to try to get her at least hunt clipped.

Now, after rehashing how the last month went, I think that I'm going to start doing what Tracy at Fly On Over does and set yearly goals with quarterly (or possibly even monthly) reviews. I tend to think more big picture and enjoy striving for more, big, long term goals over a longer period of time rather than breaking them down. With that being said I'm not going to go ahead and set them up now, instead, I'm going to wait until after my first lesson with J. I won't change long term goals based on one lesson but I will change and adjust goals based on what she says about the two of us based on what that is.

I am really nervous about how that first lesson will go. I am EXTREMELY proud of how much I have accomplished with training Katai. She is now a confident, strong, fun to ride, easygoing, forward, bold horse which was nowhere near the case when I got her and that's not even mentioning specific behaviors. However, I have never had a lesson on a horse that I trained completely on my own and it's been a REALLY long time since I had a lesson on one of my horses. Katai is my long term, forever horse that I've been looking for for so long so I WILL butt heads with J if she doesn't think she has any talent or if she tries to get me to sell her. I have seen nothing that would suggest that from the horses and riders that take lessons from her so far but I'm really a great worrier and with all this extra time to think about it I've had too much time to think of bad scenarios.

I have talked with J briefly about saddles and saddle fit and she is very opinionated (a good thing) and wants to talk to me and see Katai before I do any shopping. I know for certain that Katai's saddle is slightly too long for her back as well as too wide but without going custom I'm not sure how to find a better fit. I would be so extremely happy to hand that worry and stress off to an expert and just buy and ride in what I'm told. That could be said for a lot of things. I am really ready to hand over the reins (figuratively, not literally in this case) to someone who is an expert and not keep myself up at night researching things because I don't have an expert to ask.

I'm ready to stop being the trainer and just be the rider and yes, I realize there is still training involved ;)  

Road Tripping

I'm on vacation today through Sunday and while I'm happy that I'm not at work I am already beginning to miss my pony. 

My parents and me are driving 13 hours to Cleveland, OH to see my youngest sister play in her senior recital.

The sister in question.

I am extremely proud of her and can't wait to see her and be there to support her during this incredibly important time in her life.

Up next: End of March Analysis


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...