Sunday, January 31, 2016

Another Project

I've been shopping for a cute brow band for awhile now but have been having a lot of trouble finding one that I like that's not prohibitively expensive. What I've been looking for is a U shaped brow band in brown, of course, with pink beads and a nice interesting pattern.

After another fruitless night of searching I decided that I'd just try to make one myself. After a quick Ebay search I found a blank channel brow band in a U shape that was Havana for $22! A quick stop at a local Michaels and $20 of beads later (I'd have enough for three more brow bands though) and I came up with this.

The bead thing in the middle is a Lotus flower which I think is appropriate but just a little too much.
After a little thought I decided it was just too busy so I redid it a little simpler and ended up with this brow band that I think totally fits my pony and her personality :-)
Pony not please with pictures instead of treats.

Yes, my pony is going after my Starbucks but those eyelashes tho
At some point this year a PS of Sweden bridle is on my list and at that point I'll probably use one of their sparkly brow bands but I really do like this one!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Tack Locker Project

I briefly mentioned in an earlier post that I'm working with my dad on a tack locker. I had found this website and fell in love with this tack locker.

They have a couple of different plans and I liked a couple of the options but I decided that this was my favorite set up. I kept trying to figure out how I could get the tools needed to make this and how could I do it on my own. Eventually I realized that having my dad help could be a great option. He's done some carpentry projects in the past and he and my mom almost completely built the house I grew up in. The only things they didn't do on their own were pouring the slab, the central heating, and lifting the trusses onto the roof. Everything else including electrical, dry wall etc they did.

When I thought about that I decided to ask my dad to help me build it using his tools and I would buy the materials. He cheated a little and did buy most of the plywood which was so amazing :-)

Before Christmas we spent some time cutting the big pieces of plywood and then earlier in January we cut most of the little pieces.

Today we started assembly!! I completely forgot to take pictures but we were gluing and then finish nailing parting bead to the back piece of the cabinet to prepare for attaching the sides and some of the shelves.

We are going to finish this a little different than in the picture of the original. I've decided to take out the "saddle house" assembly so it will have the two shelves and two drawers below but not the saddle thing above. I decided that if I put a more standard saddle rack in instead I'd be able to then use that top shelve to stack saddle pads and thought it would give me a little more freedom to add some extra hanging hooks. Of course it also gives us that much less cutting and assembly to do which doesn't hurt either :-)

The inside of the door will be the same as shown in the picture though. I can't wait to have it done!!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Changing it Up: Lesson Recap 1/24 and Saddle Fitting Update

L wasn't feeling well at all for my lesson on Sunday and for some reason I was more distracted and less motivated than usual so it was nice that we worked on a couple of slightly easier things.

We started off with warming her up nicely at the trot and she was actually a little sucked back. That almost never is the case with her but I had done quite a lot of canter the day before so I think she was just slightly tired. With my nice, slow pony who was really listening to me we started out by working on leg yields. 

We are still squarely on the leg yield struggle bus both because she's learning and because I'm proving to be completely incompetent at moving my body properly to get them done. Oh well, I've been working on them more in my schooling rides and they were slightly better in my lesson so after a couple of times in each direction we gave her a break and them moved to working on turns on the forehand.

We've worked on turns on the haunches before but this was the first time we worked on these. Again, once I grasped the concept she did them pretty well, especially for a first time. This is reminding me that I need to do a schooling ride or two where I work on turns on the haunches! Sometimes we work on something in a lesson where L warns me not to drill it and then I promptly forget to do it on my own at all. I've been toying with the idea of a lesson journal for that reason but have hoped that my blog will fill that purpose. Maybe I just need to go back and read them more!

Then we went to the canter. We are both getting better at the transition and she's been picking it up in a stride or two rather than 10 like it was taking before. So nice to have that progress :-) At the canter we worked on doing more straight work down the long sides and it was amazing! I felt like we were flying. She is developing more jump as she develops more strength but keeping the same maneuverability which makes it so much fun. She can turn, properly, on a dime and our 10 meter circles at the canter are easy because she's such an adorable little athlete.

In other news I've calmed down after the saddle fit debacle yesterday but I haven't changed how I feel about how it went. When I'm at the barn tomorrow I'm going to try to get some pictures of the underside to post on here and make sure that I'm not just completely missing something.

I've also been chatting with P, who also had a saddle fit appointment with H yesterday, and it sounds like things went really well for her. I'm going to chalk this up to H trying to fit a small pony, which is probably not as normal for her, and with a saddle that isn't one of the usual brands that she sees. I haven't lost faith in her as a saddle fitter but I'm not sure that I'll use her again in the future. Unfortunately I'm not even sure if I'll have that choice because I don't think I have many options for saddle fitters that will work with my saddle in my area.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Take What You Need and Leave The Rest

I'll be writing a lesson recap post soon but first wanted to talk a little about my saddle fitting appointment today because, frankly, I need to vent.

Katai was scheduled for a massage at 10:00am and then the plan was for me to get to the barn around 3:00pm so that we could do a saddle fit appointment at 3:30. I got to the barn a little early, helped with turn in and then got Katai all groomed and ready to go.

We started out with Katai fully tacked up and the saddle fitter, who I'll call H, looked over my set up in detail, did tracings, and took some notes. I was pleased and she let me know that Katai LOVED her massage and was all relaxed and blinky and happy about the whole thing. That made me feel good and we were off to a good start.

Unfortunately that's where my happiness ended.

Let me preface this by saying that I'd prepared myself for every contingency. While I felt it was unlikely that my saddle was a horrible fit I was ready for everything from it just needing a flocking adjustment to needing to buy a new saddle or even being completely unable to ride in it because it fit so horribly. What I wasn't prepared for was to have my emotions played with.

This pretty much captures our whole experience.
So, when H started poking around at the channel of my saddle with a concerned face I was ready for the worst and then she said she thought my tree was broken. I can't even imagine what my face looked like. The saddle is 6 months old, Katai doesn't have any sore spots and seems comfortable in the saddle, I haven't noticed anything off, the box the saddle came in was in excellent condition when it arrived and there wasn't anything scraped or scratched on the saddle that would show there had been any sort of damage.

Common sense has always been my friend so I started asking her about thing things above. Basically she said that no, Katai's back hadn't been sore during the massage, she couldn't flex the saddle in any way that was unusual, when she asked if I'd been hearing or feeling anything weird I let her know that I hadn't. She remained unconvinced and spent at least 10-15 minutes trying to (I felt) prove that my saddle was broken. What she was feeling were these two small metal lines that were unevenly long. Not unevenly placed but one was longer than the other. If I had to hazard a guess I would say that there was one line of solder that was longer then the other on the individually made tree. She also said that some of the stitching looked uneven and I agree but this is a handmade saddle and it's very, very, very slight. She finally decided that it was time to proceed so we tacked Katai up and she really examined everything both with me out of the saddle and with me in the saddle.

At this point I was already a little frustrated but was still hoping that H would have some advice. The problem was that I think I'd already lost a little trust in her because the idea that my tree was broken was so far out of left field that I had a tough time even beginning to entertain that idea.

Then, with me mounted up, she said that my saddle was beautiful but didn't fit my pony. Again, I felt a little crushed but was all ready for her to give me some ideas for what to look for in a saddle and some ideas for where to shop. Except when I started asking she hemmed and hawed over the saddle again for awhile and then started naming things that did fit. The shape of the tree, the shape of the panel, the length, the tree width, the flap, the billets, etc. all in the "fit" category and then she said that she didn't know what she would do differently. More hemming and hawing and then she felt around in the channel again, still sure that my saddle was broken in two and going to stab my pony's back, and said that she would change the width of the channel which was slightly too wide.

Saddle fit picture I was encouraged to take to show the maker. Not quite sure what this will show him other than that my saddle fits? Although after the flocking was added it does look a little high in front...
That was the first, and only, advice that she gave that I trust at all since she was actually able to show me what she was looking for. I do know that channels can be too wide and can see that this one could be too wide for Katai. This is what I was looking for, proactive advice before she gets sore and how to change it. Even better, she is able to fix it by doing some work on the panels of my current saddle.

Bad news, she want's me to contact the company about a warrantee to see about having them fix my "broken tree" and "uneven stitching". At this point I was about ready to gouge my own eyes out so I tried a different tactic and asked her what the cost would be for her to work on it. Common sense again since I knew that shipping it back (even if it weren't ridiculous) would be at least 200 even if there were a warrantee (which there's not) and the maker didn't think I was completely batshit crazy (which I'm not). She said that it would be around $150 so I let her know that if I decided to go that way I'd want her to do it rather than shipping my only saddle back and forth (and making it even more likely that my tree might actually be broken). She still pushed that I should contact the company and send pictures. I wanted to ask what I would be taking pictures of exactly but figured that would be too snarky.
but damn my pony is starting to look like a beefcake!
I kept thinking that I must be crazy, she's the expert right? She should know but every time I looked at the channel of my saddle and felt what she was feeling all I felt was a well constructed, not factory made saddle with a small quirk. She still couldn't tell me anything concrete that was making her think it was broken other than those uneven lines. I'll try to get a picture for the blog but honestly I don't think there is a picture to take since I don't think you can see them since they stick out about a millimeter from the underside of the channel (on the tree), slightly under each of the panels and you have to push on the leather lining pretty hard to feel them.

My phone a friend. Apparently I'm no the only one thinking it might be because it's hand-made
I was so frustrated that I couldn't get out of my own head on the drive home. I ALWAYS trust the expert. I want to trust the expert, that's why I work hard so that I'm able to involve them in my horse's care. At the end of the saddle fitting she kept saying that my saddle fit great (she did add a little flocking in the front and the back) and that it must not be broken or we'd be able to tell but by that point how was I supposed to trust her. She'd gone from the saddle is broken, to the saddle doesn't fit at all and you need a new one, to it just needs some flocking, to it fits great.


I'm going to talk to L and see if she has any advice. H wants to put a front gusset in it as well and I can't even begin to imagine that that will help it fit since I thought those were more for narrow horses with big withers. I can always stand to learn something though :-)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Training Ride and Clinic Update

Lately I've been taking both Monday and Tuesday off and riding four days per week. I keep meaning to add a fifth ride but honestly she's going so well right now that I hate to change things up and am going to stick with what works.

That means that today was my first ride after my lesson on Sunday and for the first time I was struggling a little with what to work on. I decided to start working on lateral stuff which is something I haven't done on my own much. It's definitely something that I've worried about breaking but I also know that it will never get better without practice so it's time to start working on it.

I still feel like I have to get more help with how to connect the different parts of my body together but I was getting some really decent leg yields. It just never really felt like it clicked. I also ended up realizing after doing a leg yield in each direction that she was running from my leg so I slowed it down to walk and kept my leg on, appropriately, through a couple of small tantrums until she wasn't over reacting again and then went back to the leg yields and made more progress. I feel like slowly I'm starting to figure out how and when to stop why I'm trying, fix something with my tools, and then go back to it rather than just doing the same thing over and over and getting frustrated. It feels great!

While I was cooling out one of the resident trainers was just warming up and asked me if I would be interested in riding in a clinic with Susanne Winslade at the beginning of March. I said absolutely and signed up for two rides. I've written about her clinic that I audited where I was a little lukewarm but I think that between L's support of her and the fact that everyone at the barn rides with here when she's here and I'm thinking I missed something or was just feeling a little negative those days when I was auditing. At any rate, I'm extremely excited and I think the timing will be great for us this year and help with prep for our first show season!!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

2016 Shopping Goals

Ok, so I'm sure we all have them. I've always loved shopping for my pony and it's sort of like a side hobby to the actual riding hobby. What I've been surprised about, especially this year, is that as Katai and I progress and as I ride on a more regular basis I've become less and less interested in buying things for her.

It's almost like I was living vicariously through the nice dressage stuff that I was buying and now that we're doing well I don't even feel like I need to do that. Of course it's not that I don't like shopping for her it's just that I've got a set of tack that I love and other than a few items (PS of Sweden bridle, sparkly browband, a set of navy dressage boots, and a show appropriate dressage saddle pad) I just don't have that much on my wish.

However, that doesn't hold true for stuff for me. I've decided to focus on myself this year and one of my goals is to get myself more riding clothes. I've got a few things I love such as this Kastel Denmark sun shirt,

This Asmar Equestrian jacket,

and this pair of Horze breeches in burgundy.

But that's about it. I have a few pairs of schooling breeches but I'd like to have more to rotate through since now that I'm riding 4-5 days per week I go through them pretty quickly.

I have a pair of great tall schooling boots, Ariats, in a field boot that are great and a pair of Roeckl gloves that I adore but those are wearing out and are going to need to be replaced this year. That's it! Seriously, how can I possibly survive with only 4-6 pairs of breeches.

One of the big things on my list for this year was a new helmet. My old one was over 4 years old and although I've never fallen in it (knock on wood) I know that they're supposed to be replaced every 4 years or so either way. Thanks to my Christmas gift money I got this!

Sorry for the spots, our barn drips in a couple of places in the arena from condensation and I thought I had wiped it off. Apparently I hadn't...

I was really tempted by the matt Navy one but decided to go with the traditional black since I think it will give me more options for everything else. Plus the last thing we need is to stand out even more ;-)

The other main items on my shopping list for this year are breeches, all of the horze breeches please, as well as more riding appropriate tops (fitness tops from target or polos from Goodwill probably but I would like a few more sun shirts) and of course schooling show appropriate clothing. I don't think that boots will be on the list for this year but I will be replacing my Roeckls at some point probably. Now I just have to pick a color!

Maybe the black and brown ones since that will match my tack best? I LOVE the blue ones though. Damn they would have been cute with the blue helmet.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Narnia:Lesson Recap 1/17

So yeah, that title is a bit of a stretch.

It does sort of make sense, in my mind anyway, because today one of our exercises reminded me of walking through the wardrobe into the land of Narnia.

First we started off with a teardrop exercise where we trotted the diagonal and then went to a canter during the half 10 meter circle. Katai got quite jazzed up during this but it gave me a great idea of some things to work on. One of these was getting the canter transition when I needed it rather than letting Katai determine when she wanted to canter.

After a walk break L set up a square of cones that was probably something around 5' x 5'. The goal was to get the transition, either up or down, in that space. It REALLY helped me to set her up properly and get the transition when I needed it. Not that it always worked well but I was getting transitions more immediately then I have in the past. At first she was really getting wound up and doing all kinds of crazy canter things. One time someone mentioned that she was nearly tolting but unlike before after a bit more riding she settled down and just did her best to try what I was asking. It was one of the first times that I've really felt that with her and it was so great to feel that partnership with her.

She actually worked up a bit of a sweat today which is the first time in a long time that that's happened. What we were giggling about a little was that she had a little sweat on her neck but more around her ears. Almost like her brain was sweating :-)

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Why I Love Drill Team

Despite a lot of positive posts recently I've been having some struggles with my dear pony. Of course that's to be expected and the more we ask the more she will check to see if she really needs to listen or be with the program. Right now our thing is whether she really needs to make reasonable transitions. I'm focused mainly on her walk to trot transition but all of her transitions need work. My main thought process right now is just that we need to do it more :-)

Lately when things seem difficult I've been reminding myself that although my rides with my instructor are better then when I'm on my own, I'm the one that does at least 75% of the work with her which means that I get a decent amount of credit for our awesome progress so far. Of course we'd never be where we are without L (not even close) but it's the daily grind that is a big part of our progress.

However, no matter what the rest of our rides are like I always look forward to drill team. This last Thursday I ended up driving straight from work because I got stuck there late. On the way I picked up some food (we do potluck but most of the time no one brings any vegan food) and then ate and had a glass of wine with the other riders.

After dinner we tacked up and Katai was as happy to see me as I was to see her. We all mounted up and warmed up for a bit and then got to it. Unfortunately with the weather, a couple of lame horses, and some cold/flu going around we've only had three riders the last couple of times which makes it tough to do any of our patterns. However, L always has something great up her sleeve and so we've been doing a couple of exercises where we ride single file. One of these involves looping from front to back and the other involves leg yielding out and then extending the trot to pass and get to the front of the line. This last time we added canter to looping to the back which of course got everyone all fired up.

After one of those I ended up further back than I should have been (poor steering for the win) and so to catch up I decided to play with our lengthening rather then just cantering to the end. It was a long side of the arena and so I balanced her and then pushed out her trot and we FLEW. I could feel her pushing forward from behind and her front legs snapping up and L was jumping up and down and yelling THE PONY'S GOT A MEDIUM!!!

It was seriously awesome!

I'm fairly certain that we'll be doing this soon.
I was so freaking excited :-) We ended up doing one more pass and that time she broke to a canter since, I think, I wasn't doing enough to balance her but I was still grinning from ear to ear. From the sewing machine to this isn't something I ever expected so the slow, currently unrewarding, work at our walk/trot/walk transitions doesn't seem so bad.

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Sticks: Lesson Recap 1/10

got to the barn just in time for my lesson this week because it was 15 minutes earlier than normal (I knew it was 15 minutes earlier than normal and still didn't leave enough time). I stopped by the ring, said hi to L and checked to see what was on the agenda and found out that we were doing ground poles!

I've done up to three in lessons before and never raised but Katai has been doing so well that L started us with four raised and then quickly added two more. At first we just focused on maintaining bend through the line and making sure that I could keep her at the same tempo. After a few great circles in each direction L had me do an exercise where I trotted over the poles on a 20 meter circle and then immediately asked for a canter. Sometimes I would do a couple of circles at a canter going around the poles and then L would have me do a circle where I would trot over the poles, canter almost back to the poles and then back to a trot over the poles again.

It was an awesome lesson because I had a great way to not micromanage her and just deal with the big stuff and let the exercise do all the work. It certainly was a great workout for both of us and we ended after a great canter transition.

I stuck around for awhile after my lesson and cleaned Katai's leather halter. It was nasty, there were gunk stalagmites on it that took a lot of scrubbing to clean off. While I was cleaning that I watched L ride one of her training horses, a beautiful Selle Fancais that was an upper level hunter now turning dressage horse. She went to do the poles with this horse and it was funny how confused she was. It was like she was trying to figure out if it was supposed to be a long spread or a very tight bounce. After eyeing it up a few times though she went over it really nicely. 

Finally I  got to see some of P's lesson. She's recently started riding with L and has been making so much progress! Her horse is, I believe, a Saddlebred and is reluctant to stretch forward and down towards the contact but they've been making great progress. It was fun to see her ride again since it's been awhile since I saw one of her lessons.

It was great to be able to spend most of the day at the barn and I'm looking forward to seeing my pony again tomorrow!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Blahhs

I love how so many of us are writing about how to stay motivated or lack of motivation. I've been going to the barn at least 4 days per week but it's been mainly by rote. It's not that I'm not enjoying it, just that I always have a tough time getting enthused about anything during the winter dark and cold when I'm lacking sunshine. I take vitamin D but it's only partially helpful. Thankfully though we've been continuing to make progress and I can slowly tell that I'm getting better at picking something that's weak and working on it rather than just going through the same things every time. Today that was working on getting Katai to take the speed that I was asking for.

Winter sunset at the barn

She's been understandably enthusiastically forward now that we had that lesson on baby extensions and she truly wants to show off her new toy every time we go across the diagonal or even anything off a 20 meter circle. However, although they're important we just can't get by only riding on a circle. Today we did many, many figure eights and used the whole arena. She was pretty good going from a circle to the left to a circle to the right but not willing to listen at all going the other direction. So, we did it over and over and over. I concentrated on myself each time to make sure that I wasn't doing something to throw her off and eventually I figured out a couple of things.

I figured out that she was losing her balance and then I was taking up the contact. I tried that a few times but it wasn't working, she was getting hollow through the back and bulging into my left leg. Eventually when I remembered to relax my lower leg, turn my body appropriately, and imagined a forward feel through the reins while still half halting through my upper thigh I was able to keep her at the same rhythm and speed through the diagonal. With that we called it and I dismounted and walked her out.

Then she got a mini spa day. I've been so unmotivated recently that I'm just doing minimal grooming, basically cleaning her body and legs and picking her feet and not paying attention to her mane or tail. Today I went through both, brushed through them and doused them with Cowboy Magic. Now that No Shave November is well over I figured it was time to shave her epic mare beard ;-)

Fairly good effort for No Shave November
Much more feminine :-)

Monday, January 4, 2016

We're Kind of a Big Deal: Lesson Recap 1/3

When I think back over 2015 I can't quite believe that we are where we are right now. Katai has become an amazing little athlete and I realized the other day how much she's developed a presence both in the arena and just in the barn. As she's developed strength and confidence I feel like she's got this confident, slightly sassy persona that makes people look when she walks into a space.

L started out riding again since we'd talked about having her start the ride for a few lessons. Since I hadn't had a lesson the Sunday before and had taken almost a week vacation I was crossing my fingers that she'd be good.

She was!

L commented that Katai was feeling excellent as she was riding. They had a couple of minor disagreements but Katai just hasn't been having tantrums anymore and so it didn't take much for her to start listening again. L played with leg yields and Katai wasn't sold on the idea of crossing over so she'd let her haunches really trail out and head at a steep angle to the wall. I mentioned that she's not getting much practice because I didn't want to teach her to do them wrong but of course that also means that she's not getting any practice. Then L tried, once, a baby half pass!!!! We were both grinning from ear to ear. L commented that Katai wasn't quite sure what to do but she tried! Of course this isn't something we're working on yet but I was pretty happy that L thought that Katai was at a point where she could play with it.

After only about 10 minutes L handed her off to me. We started off getting her at a nice slow but forward working trot. As we've worked on slowing her down it has, of course, compromised how much she is pushing forward from behind. At this lesson we started working on encouraging a more active, pushing hind leg. Once we had her pushing from behind L had me start pushing her trot across the diagonal. The first couple of times she just sped up and then we actually got a lengthening! The first time Katai broke into a canter but got lots of rewards for such an incredible effort and a she got a nice walk break. Then we tried again and got a canter a couple of times but eventually got another good one all of the way across! L commented that it was a 2nd level lengthening!!! I really can't even imagine how we got from sewing machine trot to a 2nd level lengthening in one year.

Finally we did a little bit of canter and it was good! As she develops strength it's getting better and better without too much fuss. Her transitions are still messy but mostly that's me. Something to practice for this year ;-)

My homework is to do a better job of supporting her with my outside rein but remember to give the inside rein more often. It's easier for me to do this to the right (not too surprising) but I really struggle to the left where I tend to want to give the outside rein and hold the inside.

This week the plan, again, is to ride Tuesday - Wednesday and Saturday so that I've got 5 rides in. I may lunge instead at least one day because that seems to be really helping her find her slower trot.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Fall Favorites

There may be a theme here...

Horze Saddle Pads:

Honestly I don’t know why I look at saddle pads from any other brand anymore! I ADORE European style dressage saddle pads and while Horze doesn’t have many that are quite as cute as some of the European pads, HKM pads for example, they do have more European styling plus most of them come in pony sizes. While Katai isn’t an itty bitty pony she is on the smaller range of what most adults ride and because of that even some of the suggestions for smaller pads just don’t work for her. I have 2-3 pads for her that are as small as I can find in "normal" dressage saddle pads and they are still just too big. One of them (around 20 spine x 22 drop which is REALLY small for most horse pads) even caused L to comment that it was no wonder she wasn’t listening to my leg since my pad was too big!

I have eight saddle pads from Horze, all in pony size, and they are wonderful! Even the ones on the larger end of the scale are close to 20 x 20 and the smaller ones just perfectly fit under my saddle. I can go pretty small for my saddle since it has a 17" seat and a 15" flap so I try to keep them as close to the size needed for my saddle as possible so that she doesn’t look like she’s wearing her mommy’s saddle pad.

My favorite is this one.

It is a little blingy but not too bad for a schooling pad and the brown works really well with Katai’s colors since then you’re only seeing two colors rather than three. It has this cool flag detailing along the spine and it fits perfectly under my saddle. Plus, I bought it when it was on sale for $22!! Pretty tough to beat that!

My second favorite is the one.

The color on this actually said Navy on the site and since Katai looks great in Navy I ordered it in that color. It actually turned out to be closer to black which I normally wouldn’t have ordered since I wasn’t sure if it would look ok on her. I actually don’t think it looks bad and it was a great experiment since I will likely end up showing her in a black pad rather than white based on her color.

Again this pad has some subtle detail but just on one side. It doesn’t have the fun little flag detailing but it is the PERFECT size for my saddle and I think I got this one for $21 on sale at Horze (plus another 20% off with a coupon I had as a frequent customer haha) which again is really tough to beat.

Sheepskin Pad:

Seeing the theme now?

I actually purchased this saddle pad on Amazon. I’m the queen of bargain hunting especially for things that I need but don’t want to pay full price for. Frankly spending over $200 on a mattes pad without even the option to shim it seemed silly so I went looking for a different option and found this pad. For $124 I got a nice, plush, sheepskin pad that has four shimable pockets plus it came with three sets of shims in different thicknesses! I also have Amazon prime so I got it with free shipping as well.

I didn’t know that I would need a shimable pad but since I was using the front shims for awhile I’m really, really pleased that I went ahead and bought this option rather than the cheaper $99 option in the same pad that didn’t have pockets. I really like this pad! It has nice plush sheepskin and the quality seems to be really good. The sheepskin isn’t as plush and soft as a Fleeceworks but it does seem to have more loft which is nice and it fits my saddle well. I think for a saddle that’s bigger than a 17" seat it may be a little short though since it fits my saddle perfectly!

Nifty Hair Remover Brush:

I had seen someone at the barn with one of these things and was amazed at how it magically seemed to remove hair from saddle pads, blankets, clothing etc. They had bought it from a tack store but once again I bargain hunted on Amazon and found this great, cheaper, no name version. It is truly amazing at removing hair and works better than anything else I’ve tried for this task.

2015 Goals Recap

 Time to recap my goals from the beginning of the year!

Knowing what I know now I think that a lot of these were way out there for 2015. I've also switched my focus a little and thanks to regular lessons with a great instructor I've got better ideas for goals for 2016 which I will be sharing soon!

23 completed out of 48 so almost half accomplished :-)

Completed Goals

- cross train, add cavaletti
- stay still for mounting
- continue with clipper desensitization
- perfect trailer loading – On this last barn move she hopped right in despite the wind blowing and the trailer being completely different than she's ever ridden in so I'm pretty confident in her trailering skills.
- get used to riding around other horses and busy warm up areas
- listen to outside leg cues
- get a halt that regularly lasts at least 20 seconds by the end of February
- find someone to take regular lessons with by the end of February
- renew my subscription to Dressage Today and read every article
- update the name of this blog (I promise it will be the last time)
- make good turnout a habit (pretend I'm getting ready to ride for George Morris everyday lol)
- Order the saddle by the end of June
- save up and purchase a saddle that fits both of us better – Picked one out!!
- get a new job and move to a metro location (more on this in a future post)
- find transportation to shows
- take regular lessons - at least once per month
- learn to keep my lower leg back on a regular basis
- practice a more proper arm position
- gain miles in the saddle
- do a better job of journaling my riding in my blog
- learn to weight each seat bone as needed

Goals for Katai that didn't get completed:
- get chiropractic done at least three times in 2015 (33% completed)
- get at least three massages in 2015 (0% completed)
- start serious fitness training as soon as it's not slippery out to include canter sets (25% completed)
- add more structured lunging - at least 3-4 times per month (15% completed)
- practice with show environments by trailering off property at least five times this year (0% completed)
- show in three dressage schooling shows with at least one at training level (0% completed)
- ride in one two clinics - can be any discipline (0% completed)
- perfect standing tied to the trailer (0% completed)
- nicer canter transitions (no more ear pinning and less choppy trotting) by the end of March (became better now worse so we'll go with a 0% completed)
- better bend at all gaits to the left (20% completed)
- more understanding of whip cues by the middle of the year (45% completed)
- understand all three intro tests by the end of April (0% completed)
- begin trying our hoof at training level tests by the end of May (0% completed but we could ride them now)
- gain trail riding experience both by ourselves and with others - get outside and ride trails at least 3-4 times per month (60% completed)

Goals for me that didn't get completed:
- find a good yoga class and go at least twice per month (0% completed)
- get regular massages (0% completed)
- run in at least one 5K by the end of April (providing I can find one and the weather isn't too horrible), one 10K by the end of June, and Ragnar (total of about 13 miles) again in the late summer (0% completed)
- lose 15 - 20 more pounds (15% completed)
- regain jumping skills :-) (0% completed)
- ride different horses (0% completed)
- put together at least one set of show clothes (schooling show appropriate) (0% completed)
- determine which schooling shows to attend and get signed up (50% completed - found them just didn't sign up)
- memorize intro tests by the end of May (0% completed)
- take more and better pictures and videos (20ish% completed at least I was sharing a few more!)
- read and review a horse book every month – February Success! (18% completed)


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...