Monday, August 31, 2015

New Addition

But not of the four legged (or two legged) variety.


I finally bought my first car!



I’ve always had hand-me-down cars and while it was amazing of the people who no longer wanted their vehicles to keep me on wheels all this time it also meant that I’ve never really had a car that I liked.


After reading tons of reviews and talking to people that have them I decided to go with a Chevy Spark.  I fell in love with this tiny car when one of my previous co-workers got an adorable little green one and really wanted one. My biggest hesitation at that time was that I had a Chevy Impala that I hated. I’m so glad that I no longer have to deal with that car, it was so awful. However, after finding out that these cars are made in a completely different place by completely different people and are actually only branded Chevy in the USA I was happy to consider one. 

          It even fit the last of my stuff from the move


After looking over tons of reviews I finally took it out for a test drive and loved it so much. I found one in my price range that is a 2015 with just over 20,000 miles which is amazing to me since I’ve only ever had vehicles that were over 100,000 miles. It has all kinds of new features that I didn’t even know existed and most importantly I was able to talk the dealer into installing a heated seat since I had vowed to never buy a new car unless it had heated seats since I LOVE them but have never had them :-)


My first choice would have been to buy a truck and trailer but the cost of gas would just have been too much right now and to get a truck with decent gas mileage would have meant looking at newer vehicles which would have been out of my price range right now. Plus I don’t have a trailer and trying to save for that and make truck payments was just too much right now.


Unfortunately this leaves me without any guarantee of the availability to a trailer this year but I’m hoping that since I’ll be boarding with more people that show dressage that it will be easier for me to bum rides. Oh well, finding a way to get rides to shows is on my goals for the year so I still have some time to figure something out.


At any rate I adore my little car and am extremely happy with the decision. Here’s to many years of fun drives :-)

I had two great rides this weekend but will recap them in the next post!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Actual Progress

We. Were. Superstars yesterday at my lesson!!! My pony was amazing and I only wish I had video or photo to show it and remember it. We were working a little more on proper contact and L was showing me how to take a more proper but still soft contact. I found out that I've been leaving holes which is, of course, confusing for my pony since she doesn't ever find out what's right. She just keeps looking for that hole and it's always in a different place at a different time and that frustrates her. This all makes perfect sense to me as I write it out now but until yesterday's lesson I just didn't quite understand the concept.

L couldn't stop raving after the lesson about how good she looked. She even said "I NEVER thought she could look that nice!". She commented that she never had moments of pony trot and her stride was lengthening out so well! We both were impressed with how quickly she went into work mode. Most of the time we spend almost 30 minutes of my 45 minute lesson getting her to do decent work but yesterday it only took us about 5 minutes to get her going really well and even her rough moments were just momentary losses of balance rather than tantrums.
                                  Look at those muscles she's getting in her shoulders!!!

I'm so completely pleased about how things went and it makes me feel like my goals are maybe actually attainable!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

You Spin Me Right Round Baby

Shit is getting real here at the barn.

No, not that kind of shit.

Crazy barn drama type of shit. Last night I went to the barn just for a normal ride. I went through my normal routine which includes being very careful to follow all the rules of the barn. I swept up after myself, turned off lights, cleaned up poop, etc. I got into the arena for a ride and had a wonderful and productive ride for about 25 minutes and then, I still think just to mess with me, the barn owner decided to start fixing something.

At 8:15 at night.

I mean it’s his barn, he can work on it whenever he wants. But generally that means just briefly checking in with anyone at the barn to make sure that you aren’t causing a dangerous situation before you start some construction project. Thanks to a complete lack of communication my pony tried to kill both of us by getting so completely wound up that she spun circles around me for about 20 minutes. She was so scared that even her eyes were sweating and this is a pony that is nearly bomb proof. The weather is chilly and all the horses are on edge but that is just so much more of a reason to briefly check in with the person that is paying to ride at your barn before you start some noisy project. If he had told me before he started causing a racket I would have just dismounted and left so that I didn’t put any of us in that situation but instead he ended up prolonging my ride by about half an hour which meant that I was there after barn close. That meant that he tossed all my stuff, including my phone and jacket, off to one side in the barn isle and shut the lights off on me.

All I could think is where am I right now, preschool? The Twilight Zone?

People just don’t behave like this in real life. This is reality show style drama and that’s coming from someone who has worked in HR for the last 5ish years and has seen some crazy drama.

After I got Katai to stop spinning and lower her head a little I climbed back on so that she wouldn’t be dwelling on that scariness over her day off. I got a nice walk and trot in each direction and then climbed off.

After the ride I went out and got her groomed up and swept all the dirt into a pile again but then she decided she’d had it and wasn’t standing in cross ties anymore so I removed both of us before something dangerous happened and walked her up to her pasture. It was when I got back that the lights were off and all my stuff was piled to the side of the isle and the pile I had left had been swept up. At first I wondered if I’d left something in front of a door or something so he’d had to move it but no, it was just passive aggressively moved. I turned the lights back on, put my stuff away and then grabbed some miscellaneous items that I normally keep at the barn so that I can get that stuff back home and organized before my move. I felt guilty for leaving the pile of dirt but was absolutely going to pick it up as soon as I got back and it would never have even been left if the owner had been just a little bit conscientious since then my pony wouldn’t have been so wound up that I had to leave it like that.

Typing this up is still making me upset enough that I’m shaking and again, this is coming from someone that deals with a lot of conflict. I just don’t want to deal with conflict at the barn since that’s my happy place. I have no ill will towards the owners or the barn or the people that I’ve enjoyed spending time with over the last few months. I was going to continue to highly recommend this barn to people but after this behavior over the last couple weeks I just can’t in good conscious recommend that anyone board at this loony bin which is unfortunate since it is a truly beautiful facility and there are some great people boarding there. I’ve been trying to just keep a low profile since I was aware that this type of drama was going to occur during my last few days but now I’m really going to need to be extra cautious. Unfortunately looks like I’m not going to be able to move this weekend and since they are demanding to be on the property when I leave (drama with the person who’s picking me up who apparently "said bad things" about the owner’s wife) I’m limited to which days I can get out of there. Luckily I do have a trailer I can borrow just in case I can’t get schedules to work out but since it’s all the way across town I’d rather try this avenue first.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Riding a Warmblood

On Sunday I met up with my boyfriend’s mom who’s an eventer. We had been talking about seeing each other’s horses and possibly taking them each for a ride. On Sunday we finally made that work by going to each other’s barns.


We started off at my barn and the day started out interesting thanks to the weather. On Saturday it was in the mid 80’s, humid, and calm until a storm blew through in the evening but on Sunday it was in the low 60’s and there was a crazy wind. I knew it could be an interesting day and when I got Katai into the isle and crosstied her I saw that the barn owner had chosen that day to work on one of the sliding doors. He had power tools, lights, and things scattered all over the isle at one end and although he was making some effort to be polite it just wasn’t a good day for that. Katai, already on edge after the walk to the barn, just wasn’t having it with all of the commotion and was displeased at standing tied for any length of time. Luckily A (my boyfriend’s mom) is an experience horse person and eventer and she also has a horse that sometimes decides standing tied isn’t a good thing.


We got Katai tacked up quickly and in the ring where she could move forward. I put her on a lunge to work off some energy and just had her do a few circles in each direction until she lost the crazy look in her eyes. Then I mounted up and she, as usual, went right into calm, relaxed, work mode. She has been working so well recently and Sunday was no exception! She was relaxed and reaching forward and down into the bridle. I worked her for a little bit and did some canter in each direction and then I handed the reins over to A. She was able to mostly figure Katai out at the walk but when she tried to trot none of her cues were working. I didn’t realize at that point how polar opposite Katai and her horse, Sailor, are but now that I know that I can see exactly why she was having trouble. Katai got really hollow and tense so after a break of some walk and one more try at the trot I asked if I could get on. I was pleased that Katai went right back to her normal work once I was giving her cues that she recognized and at the end I even got one of the nicest stretchy trots that I’ve ever had. It was a little low and on the forehand but after her tense response to A I figured that was the perfect way to end so we quite on a good note. We got her groomed and I even blanketed her since it was supposed to be down to the 50’s overnight and after the last couple weeks of upper 80’s and 90’s that’s just too quick for her to adjust without getting sick.


                                 From a previous ride, not the stretchy trot ;-)

After we finished at my barn we went to lunch and talked horses. We actually have very similar backgrounds. She’s a huge dressage fanatic but loves jumping and chose to keep eventing where I decided to go strictly to dressage. She does spend most of her time doing dressage with just the occasional jump lesson and a little jump work leading up to a competition. She’s owned and been riding Sailor for about 5-6 years and got him fully trained. He’s 12 years old and a warmblood (either Hanoverian or Oldenburg) crossed with a thoroughbred. It makes me feel like I’ve got a good goal to shoot for and hopefully Katai and I will be doing the types of things she’s working on when Katai’s 10-12 and I’ve been riding her for 5-6 years :-)


I have actually been with A to her barn before and I’ve seen her compete once as well. Sailor is a great, kind guy and really a beautiful horse. He’s got tons of suspension and is just the kindest soul. I was honored when she asked me to ride him because they are working at a much higher level than Katai and me. She’s currently just beginning the process towards flying changes and they’ve just recently become comfortable at counter canter. He’s got so many more buttons than Katai that I was studying her ride very carefully so that I could learn everything I could before I tried him out. She made him look easy but when I mounted up that was not the case for me. I’ve ridden a few horses that are right around his level which I would say would be similar to 2nd/3rd in Dressage but I just couldn’t figure out his buttons. A has a vast array of knowledge and had studied and ridden in clinics with some amazing professionals so she is certainly doing things right but I just couldn’t get him to do anything! It was slightly embarrassing but mostly just humorous to me that I’ve been riding for as long as I have been and just couldn’t get him to do anything really. A climbed back on after I threw in the towel and she was showing me his counter canter, which is amazing! He’s such a cool horse and they are an amazing team.

think the best thing that came out of it was that I realized how much I love my pony. It’s easy to think that things might be better or easier if I had a normal sized horse but after riding him yesterday I realized that I don’t care, I love my pony. Don’t get me wrong, anyone would be lucky to own Sailor and he’s just incredible at both dressage and jumping but he’s just not my cup of tea. It’s nice to be content with my pony :-)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Progress To Be Made

So, Now that I’ve taken the time to pat myself on the back it’s time for me to update my goals and make some plans for the rest of the year.

I have to first say I’m so excited to be able to do this! Now that work and applying for jobs isn’t taking all of my energies away I can actually concentrate on pony things!

                                      Great example of progress to be made

Old Goal List:

I’ve crossed off things that no longer make sense and anything in italics is new or updated information. I’ve also moved my completed/removed goals to a page so that it doesn’t clutter up this post so you can find those above. The items in bold are focus items for me.

In Process Goals for Katai:

1. Increase fitness/strength/flexibility
- get chiropractic done at least three two times in 2015 – Completed one and owed one by chiropractor
start continue serious fitness training as soon as it's not slippery out to include canter sets – Did start canter sets and added some trail rides
continue to work with cavaletti, try to work over them at least 2-3 times per month
- ride more consistently, ie. 4-5 times per month
- slow Katai’s trot and maintain a more consistent rhythm

2. Show Pony
- ride in one or two clinic - can be any discipline

3. Dressage Skills
- better bend at all gaits to the left
- be able to ride all three intro tests by the end of April December

4. Miscellaneous  
- gain trail riding experience both by ourselves and with others - get outside and ride trails at least 3-4 1-2 times per month

In Process Goals for Me:

1. Increase fitness/strength/flexibility
- find a good yoga class and go at least twice per month
- get regular a massage
- run in at least one 5K by the end of April October (providing I can find one and the weather isn't too horrible)
- lose 10 - 15 - 20 more pounds

2. Riding Goals
- learn to weight each seat bone as needed - default to even (I sit much more on the right)

3. Show Human
- put together at least one set of show clothes (schooling show appropriate)
- determine which schooling shows to attend for next year and get signed up
- memorize intro tests by the end of May October
- find transportation to shows 

4. Miscellaneous 
- take more and better pictures and videos
- read and review a horse book every month – February Success!
- do a better job of journaling my riding in my blog
update my blog pages with changes to my wish list and current gear

I’m actually pretty pleased with this list and how many of my goals I’ve completed at this point in the year. Honestly this became the year of “getting a new job and relocating” and now that that is done I feel like I can finally move on with my life and really start knocking these out. The goals in bold are the ones that I’m mainly focused on for the rest of the year but of course I’m going to work really hard to complete all of them. I’ve been trying to come up with more riding goals for Katai but at this point I feel like other than riding consistently and continuing to make some forward progress I have only two real additional riding goals. Those are to get Katai’s trot more consistent in rhythm and speed and to ride more consistently. I think if I can get those two things a whole bunch of stuff will fall into place.

The other exciting item on this list is about the clinic and an opportunity that came up at the beginning of November. I’ll write more about this in a future post but let’s just say I’ve got a great goal to shoot for and need to work my butt off for the next couple months.

Finally please ignore the second two pages on my blog for now. I had forgotten that they existed and I’m excited to bring them back but they need some serious updating.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Blog Hop: My Cubicle

Most of us work for a living (wishing I didn't have to), some of us in way swankier places than others (right now thinking of all my friends who work at places like Google and Salesforce.. le jealous! all dem snacks!) Anyways I am curious for a pictorial tour of your office or cubicle. 

I am also late to the party because I was trying to decide if I wanted to share info about my office space but I decided that I'd just go for it.

I work for a small company that is experiencing rapid growth. I'm in HR which means that I have an office so that I can have meetings with employees. The new digs are awesome and I ended up with a rather large office. 

Can you tell I'm short? Nothing in the top shelf and no paper on the bulletin board above that first layer.

These little guys were made by my mom and they've kept me company at my last few jobs.

Flowers and pretty pens. It makes boring work so much less boring when you can write in bright colors and luckily this is an environment that appreciates that unlike my last one which certainly did not.

Owl business card holder.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Holly Progress Batman

I’m going to take a selfish minute here and pat myself (and my pony) on the back about our recent progress. It seems like so much of the time we don’t stop to celebrate the little things and I’ve made myself a goal to do so more often.


The above photo is from May after I had been taking lessons from L for a couple of months. I was still tipping forward pretty badly and my snap posting was all over the place. Katai was starting to go better but was still fairly short strided and stiff.


Now, after about two and a half more months of lessons with L we look like this.


 This was a snapshot of actually a fairly rough ride but I'm really happy with the improvement in my position and how much more relaxed Katai is. She's longer through the neck and more relaxed through the poll. Katai has had too much time off recently so when I ride she just thinks she can blow me off and do her own thing. I worked on tactfully reminding her that I’m in charge and she needs to listen and at the end we got some nice moments. I’m so proud of both of us and how far we’ve come over the past few months!


The next post is going to be a goals redo/update since I’ve let that get completely out of control this year and I’m trying to catch up. Then I’m also going to post a bad picture of my ride from last night to show how difficult the pony can be when she wants to. I’m seriously impressed that L sticks with us sometimes.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Decisions, Decisions

So I have decided to move my pony. It’s been an agonizing decision since I realize that no place will be perfect and there are so many great things about where I’m at now. The main thing that sold it, besides the current barn drama, is that L wants me to move up there. I feel like if your coach encourages you to move to a different barn there is usually a good reason and the fact that she wants me to move to her barn is a complement in many ways. Some of the other things are: better footing, nicer stalls, not being separated from the rest of the barn, better wash stall, better trails, EXCELLENT barn manager. I gave my notice and think I’ll be moving at the end of August/early September. I’m so freaking excited but sort of bummed at the same time. I’ve made some great friendships at my current barn and will miss many things about it. I hate moving and creating all new relationships and putting Katai through that again just isn’t what I want to be doing right now but ultimately I think it’s for the best.

Regarding #mareproblems I’ve got a couple updates. First, it seems I really have been overreacting about this. Several people have told me that they have the same thing happen and that Katai’s isn’t that bad. The rubbing/scalding is isolated to right between her back legs and not really affecting anything else. I caught it earlier this time and was able to keep it to an even smaller area and after the first day of treatment she no longer acted like walking was difficult or painful (and I always need to keep in mind that she can be a baby about these things and certainly isn't a stoic horse). However, what’s still bothering me is that from what I’m hearing most of the time you have to treat and it’s tough to prevent. I did get a couple of suggestions that I’m going to try including changing up her current supplement regime, which was actually sort of already in progress, and the brilliant idea from T (Project Gingersnap) to keep her sprayed with Show Sheen to help keep the gunk from sticking and burning. I’m also going to try to be proactive by coating her in Vaseline or Swat whenever I think there’s a chance she may go into heat such as when I move her to a new barn. She is clearly still tender and doesn’t want me scrubbing it at all but I’m hoping that after another coating of destine soaks in that her skin will be softer and less sore and she’ll let me clean her up with baby wipes at least.
In other updates I get to go to the Dover tent sale this weekend with H and I’m so excited! I have a $50 giftcard for watching my boyfriend’s, mother’s (hereafter referred to as A) dog and I’ve got a few things I need to pick up, including Show Sheen, so it should be a great shopping trip. I’m also excited because A, who’s also an eventer hence the very appropriate Dover giftcard, and I are going to get together to see each other’s horses. I’ve met her horse before but she’s invited me to ride her warmblood/thoroughbred gelding this time and she’s never met my pony but has of course seen tons of pictures. That’s planned for the 23rd and photos and possibly video will hopefully follow.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Join The Club

Unfortunately I need to join several other bloggers in having an unsound horse since apparently #Mareproblems is back. I’m so frustrated and upset, I was actually in tears yesterday evening, and I just feel sort of hopeless not for myself but for Katai. I did do a little research and apparently this is a fairly common thing and it appears that I'm the only one overreacting this way. Last time this happened I’d been away from the barn for a few days so I sort of blamed myself for not being there enough to prevent the problem but this time I saw Katai Sunday, groomed and checked and everything looked good, and then was gone Monday but back out on Tuesday and she was already in a bad place. She had nasty gunk all down the back of her legs and had chaffed fairly badly already. Thankfully I did catch it a little earlier this time and she isn’t quite as bad but it’s not enough of an improvement for me to feel ok about it.

I just don’t know what to do at this point. Nothing has changed in Katai’s environment. She’s been out with a gelding and is still out with a gelding and when this happened last she wasn’t out with a gelding so that’s not the answer. She’s getting pretty much the same supplements and it wasn’t like I was a bad horse owner and was gone for a big chunk of time without seeing her. I only skipped on day and I just can’t be at the barn every day. I also just can’t keep her back end coated in Vaseline all the time because that’s not healthy either. I haven’t been able to find any common theme and without that I don’t know how I can be proactive and prevent this. She gets so bad so quickly that it doesn’t seem like I can catch it in the early stages even if I’m at the barn regularly.

I’m going to do some research and possibly get a vet involved at this point to see if they have any suggestion. Someone suggested that it could be a PH thing and also suggested raspberry leaves. Since the main ingredient that’s supposed to help with mareish behavior in raspberry leaves is magnesium and she is getting that I haven’t been giving her raspberry leaves but since the person who suggested it is a researcher and scientist I think it may be worth a shot.

I’d had a happy post all written up about how while L is gone for a few weeks I’m going to put a plan in place and work really hard on developing her strength outside of the arena as well as working on our relationship. I also finally got my iphone camera fixed so that I can get some pictures and now the only picture I have is of Katai’s poor sore backside

More to come as I get this figured out.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

All The Dramas

Thankfully I’ve not yet been involved in the barn drama partially, probably, because since I work in HR I’m pretty adept at conflict management/avoidance but also because I’ve been nothing but pleasant and complementary to the owners of the facility. Unfortunately it seems to be one of those cases where if you disagree you become the enemy and I’ve got very little tolerance for that.


If you remember I posted a while ago about how the owners and kicked a couple of people out and I was happy that they were being proactive about it. At that point I believe the grand total of people they had kicked out was three but I found out later that they’d kicked out two before I ever got there. Since I understood the reasoning and knew that two of the people were actually endangering other boarders and their horses I wasn’t concerned and as I said then, I was actually pleased that they were taking a tough stance on that sort of behavior. After that though they’ve kicked out two additional boarders through a whole host of drama including the hay debate.


Now I understand as well as anyone else that the barn needs to be operated like a business. They have to make sure that they know how much hay and grain is going out so they can account for that in their budget and if someone takes hay or grain without asking it’s stealing. However, in my mind if you work something out with the owners that while your horse is offsite at a show you can take the exact same amount of hay and grain that they would have been fed at the barn that should be ok! They are still probably saving bedding and labor of looking after your horse during that time so they should be ok with it. However, at this barn the owners got into a huge fight with a boarder that wanted to do just that and told her that she could purchase a bale of hay from them for $10 (our hay is normally between $5-$7 per bale). This wasn’t me, I wish I were showing but I’m not, but honestly I probably would have just bought the hay since in the grand scheme of things $10 isn’t that bad. It’s just left me with a really bad taste in my mouth that they treated someone who was asking for something so reasonable so badly. I can even see if to keep things neat they wanted her to buy a bale rather than take hay, which might be tough to keep track of, but charge a reduced rate since that horse would have eaten almost that much as part of regular board. Or charge reduced board that month since the horse isn’t staying at the facility for three days. Any of these things would make sense or at least having an adult conversation about it but instead everything just blew up and the boarder left over it. I honestly can’t say I blame her.


I’ve been waffling over a few things including the fact that other than two other people the barn is quickly becoming home to only western pleasure horses and the fact that the owners are adding all these rules that aren’t in the contract I signed. Just for an idea, because I think this type of thing is interesting, I live in an area that charges about $450-$1000 for stall board and $200-$350 for pasture board. At J’s place I paid $300 for pasture board which included hay overnight when horses were brought into a dry lot, grain twice per day, and someone who put on and took off Katai’s grazing muzzle every day (and the pastures were amazing and well-kept with almost no weeds). At this barn I pay $325 for pasture board with no hands on care, no grain, and hay just during the winter. I would be paying $650 for stall board which does include blanketing and grain twice per day as well as daily hand walking to semi private pens and full day turnout. However, it seems that amount does not pay for poop pick up on the way to and from the pastures. I’m the first one to clean up poop anywhere in the barn or arena both indoor and outdoor but when the walk from the pasture to the barn is almost a mile down a driveway and my horse poops in the grass half way there I just don’t know that I should feel like I should be required to go pick it up while she stands in cross ties. What are your opinions? Am I being a spoiled brat that it’s bothering me? Between that, the hay debate, some of the complaints I’ve heard from other boarders and the fact that I wouldn’t trust the barn manager to notice if my horse were injured (a pasture horse is currently in surgery that had a two inch diameter and four inch long branch lodged about three inches in right above his right eye. Another boarder noticed when she brought her horse in that it had happened and they could tell it had been several hours and they had to call the barn manager who lives on site and tell her) I’ve been seriously thinking about moving Katai again.


Trust me, it’s the last thing I wanted to be considering at this point :-( I hate moving barns anyway and rebuilding all these friendships and I’m sure Katai would really like to not have to move and adjust again. There are some great people at this barn it just seems like I only see them about once a month. I honestly was thinking I’d just stay where I am but then I heard from a friend that the manager of a nearby barn that is dearly loved by the local dressage community was opening up a second barn. This is new barn is actually a location I’d toured when I was going to leave J’s initially but I didn’t like that manager who did really odd things and was known locally for being flaky when it came to things like turning horses out. Now that this new woman is taking over that facility I’d jump at the chance to board there. 


When I went to tour the barn they were having a spa day and they welcomed me in with open arms and a glass of wine (seriously, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven) and I got a tour of the new and improved facility. There is still some work to do before it is ready but they’re aiming to have it ready in about two weeks and it already looks amazing. The arena has been completely redone and she’s been working on footing daily. The pens are semi private, full day turnout, nice large stalls, and trails on the property that aren’t overwhelmed with bicycles, joggers, rollerblades, and poorly behaved dogs. It sounds like L will be teaching there probably but even if not, there are a couple of other dressage instructors. Plus it will be a truly mixed barn with other people who ride various forms of English (hunter, jumper, dressage, eventing, etc.), some people who drive their horses, and some western people. Plus they have an area for dogs to hang out on the property so that I can actually bring my puppy while I ride and he wouldn’t have to go back into his kennel :-)


If you can’t tell from the above I’m already fairly convinced but what do all of you think? What would you do in this situation? The care at the current barn is far from bad and actually Katai has been doing well. I’ve got friends there and so far have been getting along great with the owners. Is it worth the risk to move again in your opinion even with some of the big concerns I have about the current barn or would you just go ahead and move to the new barn with the manager/owner that so many people have said great things about?

I promise there will be more Katai centered posts soon!

Monday, August 3, 2015


At one point when I was younger and didn’t have the opportunity to board in an amazing place I knew better than to ride the same way in the same place day after day. At that point in my life I was doing eventing and so one day we’d jump in our “ring” which was basically a flat field and the next we would do cross country, trails, take the horses swimming, or just lunge and do a grooming day.


Unfortunately at some point as I became an adult I forgot about this and started to not appreciate that my horse needed variety. Over this past year, as Katai develops, I’ve become especially bad at this to the point that I basically ride in the same way and in the same place every time I ride. I think part of this is because for a while Katai was so green and I didn’t really have a safe place to ride her outside but now that I do have a good place to ride outside and access to trails I’ve just not really started to do that again. Partially because I’m a perfectionist and want to work directly on what my instructor has given me and get it perfect and part of it is because I’ve just gotten lazy about planning my rides.


I guess I hadn’t even realized how bad it had become until I ran into three things this week that were great reminders.


The first reminder was a great post on COTH about whether a horse lacked work ethic or if it was bored. After reading just the first few posts I realized what a disservice I was doing to Katai by not ever taking her out of the ring. Not only does she need it mentally but physically as well. Quickly as I continued to read through the comments I begin to formulate a plan for the next couple of weeks of how to vary Katai’s schedule a bit.


The second reminder was that I’ve been re-reading Equine Fitness by Jec Aristotle Ballou and she gives a lot of cross training exercises and really emphasizes how important it is from a strength perspective to make sure a horses’ work is varied. She also stresses that by doing the same thing every day you are much more likely to cause your horse to breakdown or develop injuries.


The third was reading Jen’s post from Cob Jockey about perfectionism. I’m such a perfectionist, I think it’s a large part of why I love Dressage, that not only am I critical of every step in the arena but I also don’t want to spend the time out of the arena because I don’t feel I’ll be making progress. Of course I know this isn’t true and I understand how much stronger and more balanced both mentally and physically this will make both Katai and myself but I think I have to admit that sometimes I feel like it’s just wasted time. After reading her post though I realized how important it is for Katai to feel like she’s not being micro managed on every ride and a good way for me to do that is to do something else and give both of us a break from this specific work.


All of this came at a great point as I’ve realized that I really need to ride more consistently if I would like to meet my goals. I’ve always been pretty happy with riding 3-4 days per week but now I think we are at the point where I need to try to shoot for 4-5 days per week. It will be easier, and better for both of us, to do that if I’m varying what we are working on and doing different types of rides throughout the week. Right now I’m going to shoot for a canter set/conditioning ride, at least one day where I ride over ground poles and a ride where I start to get her used to trails at least every other week. With my lesson that means that I’ve either got 1 or 2 (or sometimes possibly 3) days of focused dressage riding left on my calendar every week. If we were in a different place and at a different level I think that could possibly be an issue but since a lot of conversations with my trainer have to do with developing strength right now I think this sort of schedule is just about right. Plus, one of our other focuses is on getting her to listen to and understand my leg cues and that can happen anywhere.


I’m really looking forward to having more variety in my schedule and I think Katai probably is too!

Starting Strong

Maybe not on the blogging front but in other areas yes, it's been a great start to 2020. We're in the middle of our first real snow ...