Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Baby Steps

We're a bit beaten but we're not broken! Well, except my nose, that may be broken... I'm extremely happy with about 90% of what happened on Sunday and the more I've thought back on everything the happier I am. It was a long tough day though and I was extremely sore on Monday, like I couldn't even straighten my arms.

So, despite my best intentions to at least get Katai back in the trailer on Monday I just couldn't do it. I pretty much just lay around all day and watched tv and did some clean up from the show.

Tuesday I got back out to the barn for my lesson in the evening and Jane and I had a chance to debrief on what happened on Sunday. I had a few more observations for her and primarily wanted to ask her about the bend. I really thought I had enough bend for most of the Intro C test (other than when I changed rein across the diagonal) but the judge didn't think so. Jane and I talked through where I had enough and where I needed more. We also discussed how Katai's coloring makes it tough for Jane to see the bend sometimes so that could be a piece of it.

Mostly we tried to get her a bit more supple again and focused on lateral work and lots of changes of direction with focus on the bend since pony was also pretty tight and sore. We also kept it short since the plan for the next day (today) was to get her outside to ride near the trailer *OF DOOM*.

I think what was especially cool for me about this show is that before this (because of how rough it was last year) we felt like we were at 0 and needed to get to 100 and by 100 I mean having a nice, decently calm show experience where I at least felt like I could keep my pony under control and in the arena. Now, I feel like we're at 60% and just need to work on about 40% which is so exciting because that means we know what we need to work on!!

Right now, mainly, that's everything to do with the trailer so that was the goal today. I started out by loading Katai on the trailer. We had quite a few discussions but ended in a really nice place. She wasn't as calm as she had been prior to the show but that's to be expected. We also have the insides of the trailer back in so instead of having a completely open trailer to walk into she needs to walk into the two horse straight load stall. 

After that we tried lunging near the trailer (Jane was right there with me from just after I started trailer loading practice. Seriously, how did I get so lucky :) but that wasn't working. Katai was doing her best race horse impression and I didn't have the ability to calm her down on the lunge. Instead we went straight to riding.

Both Jane and I thought it was going to take a long time to be able to successfully ride near the trailer but although it did take some work, it didn't really take that long. After maybe about 20 minutes of circling gradually closer with lots of bend we were able to do a center line and ride almost all the way up to the trailer. I'm planning to do a bit of work with this as well Thursday and Friday and hopefully we'll have a bit of progress at the show on Saturday. 

Also, still no pictures but I'll share as soon as I get them!

Monday, May 29, 2017

There Will Be Blood: 3 Ring Circus Show Recap

*No ponies were harmed in pursuit of this schooling show ;)

This weekend was pretty rough and I certainly wasn't having the best of luck during prep for the show. First, on Friday night for some reason I shut a door that I don't normally close and then proceed to walk into it head first. I really banged up the bridge of my nose and sort of wondered if I'd have a black eye the next day. I'm writing this on Monday and my nose is still swollen and quite sore. I've also still been recovering from my cold so let's just say that I haven't been feeling my best.

On Saturday I went to the barn in the morning for a lesson. The beginning of it was "interrupted" by a horse outside having a meltdown and Katai was very bothered by it so I actually had a great opportunity to practice what it would be like to ride her at the show. We ran through both Intro C and Training 1 and they were great! That evening I went back and gave her a bath so that she'd have as little time as possible to get dirty again.

I don't think I had mentioned it by my ride times for Sunday were 7:44 and 11:04 and the person who trailered us didn't ride until 3:16 so we knew it would be a long day. Due to pony trailering issues (even though she'd been walking in on a loose lead rope prior she realized we were going somewhere and refused to get in) we showed up with an extra trailer about 20 minutes later than I would have liked and I pretty much needed to throw the tack on her and jump on. I did end up doing about 10 minutes of warm up which went well and then we headed into the outdoor ring for our Training 1 test.

With the prep we've been doing I was hopeful that it would go better than our test last year which was Intro C in the same arena. Unfortunately the judge was in a trailer at C again and that proved to be our kryptonite. The judge this year is a fixture in our local dressage community and a really incredible woman. When I finished my test I thanked her and she said it was one of the most dramatic tests she'd seen that day which made me smile. I was smiling and giggling through most of the test actually because stubborn Katai showed up in full force.

Parts of the test were actually worse than last year but I rode WAY better, and actually got a canter in each direction on the correct lead (probably the best part of the test) and most of the movements so we scored much better and received a 50.22%. We also have a new nickname, Drama at C lol.

Reading drama at C still makes me giggle
Reluctant entry, much evasion makes me giggle too because I ended up doing two 10 meter circles trying to get some bend and forward with no luck.

I've been getting as much practice riding Katai with scary things as possible. I've thought that I'm prepared to deal with it but at this test Katai grew roots into the ground and literally would. not. go. forward so all of my aids were pretty useless. Oh well, Jane is going to park the trailer outside and we're going to ride near it to get her used to it. Katai was just scared so pushing her wasn't going to do anything I don't even cary a dressage whip. I did pony club kick her a few times with Jane whooping from the sidelines (lol, I love my instructor) but it really didn't have much effect.

Afterwards Jane said that I looked cool and confident though and I really was grinning through the whole thing. This is Katai's second show and she's always been a difficult ride so what can you do, she just needs more miles and not a beating (more on that later).

I brought her back to the trailer and we relaxed for a little while. She was actually REALLY good about standing there, even when her friend left, and there was way less drama and rearing than I expected. Poor pony baby did get quite exhausted from stress though and fell asleep a few times which was AMAZING to see!

Katai with her "mommy mare" who showed 3rd level this weekend :)
Finally once we got closer to our second test, I got tacked up (with Katai at the trailer by herself woot woot!) and headed to the warmup ring to prep for our Intro C ride. It was in the indoor so I wasn't worried. I warmed up and Katai was on the aids and ready to go and then we went in and rode our test!

I ended up having a bunch of friends at this show. My co-worker happened to be there, the women who took the amazing photos from the show last year was there and took pictures again this year (which I'll share in my next post since I don't have access to them quite yet), plus just a whole bunch of other riding friends that I've made over the past few years. Most of them were standing at the door to the arena, along with Jane, while I rode and after I finished they were all cheering. It was so amazing to have so many wonderful people there routing me on because this has felt like a tough time trying to get Katai to this point and they all recognize that and have seen us at various points in our struggles.

J was also there (the rough instructor that I left) with a few students and one of her students rode Intro C right before I did. We pretty much ignored each other all day (at least until later that day...) but even though I don't really care, it meant something to me that she saw me riding my AMAZING pony at this show and doing well with her. It was even more amazing to have my absolutely incredibly wonderful trainer there with me all day, supporting me and Katai and talking us through this show. I can't believe how lucky I am to have this amazing person in my life.

After that test I got Katai tied back to the trailer and untacked and then went to watch some people ride. Jane went to pick up my test(s) and when she came back to me her face was stormy. She had picked up my Training test but thought it was Intro C. I reminded her that it was Intro C that I did better on and she said "thanks for stopping me because I was about to go shoot that judge". Have I mentioned how much I love having a coach like her? I ended up scoring 64% for my Intro C test which was awesome! We would have scored higher I think but Katai picked up the wrong lead for the second canter circle and was pretty tired by that point so she kept trying to stop. She goes from trot to walk so quickly that even though I was doing my best to keep her in front of my leg, there kept being these weird pauses in our trot rhythm and she actually broke from canter once before I got her going again. Going down the center line at the end of the test she tried to stop 5-6 times and it took everything I had to keep her going. Poor tired baby pony.

I feel like an alternative title to this post could be More Bend Needed
Jane was very happy with this score and felt like it was really accurate. I'm really happy about the 7s and if I can just keep her in front of my leg, and do this more so it's not so exhausting for pony brains we'll be in a good place :)

Finally I tied her up to the trailer and we hung out for an hour or so. By 12:30 we were ready to be done but still had at least 3-4 more hours to go. We alternated walking and hand grazing and sitting by the trailers. I'm hoping that between all the grass she got to eat, the peppermints I shoved in her face, the grooming, and pettings, and all the people that admired her (she seriously collects fans wherever she goes), that she'll have good memories of this show and be even more relaxed next time.

If you look closely you can actually see the brains oozing out of her ears
Finally K went to warm up and I hung out with Katai for awhile. Katai was calling a lot (I think I went a bit deaf yesterday) but was mostly being a really good girl. After awhile Jane came back and said that K's horse was calling a lot too so instead of bringing her back to the trailer they were going to switch to the double over by the ring. I pulled Katai off the trailer and found her some grass to help get her quieter and hopefully remove the distraction from K's horse. Eventually we worked our way past the tree line that you can see in the picture above to where the rings are so that I could watch K's horse from afar.

While I was hanging out I happened to look up and see a horse that I recognized in the ring. The rider prior to K was one of J's students but even from that far away it was clear that J was actually riding. The horse was very clearly upset and there was quite a bit of whip being used. At one point the horse froze up by A (and by froze up I mean it was dancing and rearing and freaking out but unwilling to go forward) and then it bolted. It went straight forward and leapt out of the ring (that happens) but was so panicked in it's bolt that it kept going and went straight over the wooden arena fence RIGHT past K and onto a gravel path between arenas. J got it back into the arena and then got called over by the judge for a talk. They talked for awhile and  while she, of course, got eliminated I'm hoping the judge was pretty firm about how inappropriate that was.  It's just my opinion but I'm really, really, really glad that I'm not working with J anymore.

K ended up having a really great ride!! She doesn't show a ton and is hoping to receive her last two bronze medal scores this year. For not riding in a ton of shows she got a very impressive 60% and is well on the way to getting those scores, hopefully, next weekend!

Finally we went to load pony for the ride home. I'd had my fingers crossed all day that she would be so tired that she'd just walk on but unfortunately it wasn't to be. We tried first to see if she'd ride home in the trailer with K's horse but that wasn't happening (it's a 2 horse straight load with a step up) so we tried Jane's trailer instead (larger two horse straight load with a ramp and with the ability to swing the center divider). She still put up a fight but I will say that she gave in quicker and didn't escalate quite as bad. She still had some bad rears (I actually worried that she was going over backwards at least once) but we ended up getting her on after about 15-20 minutes. Just not the way we're supposed to. Unfortunately I did something stupid and tore up my hand. I ALWAYS wear heavy gloves when I'm doing this and I've had enough rope burns that I know to not try to hold on. I was tired though and also had a long day so I grabbed and held the rope at one point and lost some skin.

Before I got it cleaned up
It actually doesn't hurt that much all things considered or maybe my nose just hurts enough that I don't even care about this lol.  Overall I'm very happy with how this show went. For Katai's second show (away from home) and my fourth dressage show I'm really pleased with our rides and I feel like I've become much more effective. We have some things to work on (all things involving the trailer) but I feel like those just need some continued work and we'll be in a good place to have decent (anything above 50% would feel good to me for next weekend) tests on Saturday!!

I'll share pictures in a followup post once I have access to them. I can't wait to see them!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Old, New, Borrowed, Blue

Nope, not getting married but where most girls seem to dream about their weddings, I've dreamed  about doing my first rated show.

I've been slowly putting together a set (or two) of show clothes since I've known for awhile that I couldn't afford to invest in the things I wanted when I finally found out I'd be doing a rated show. I am SO GLAD I DID because I had no idea that I'd be doing a rated show on June 3rd this year until just over a month ago and there's no way I could have bought all this stuff at the beginning of this year. Without further ado, here is what I have so far!

Something Old:

The friend that I lived with and rented from when I first got Katai and I exchanged Christmas gifts a couple of years ago. She got me this incredibly pretty stock pin for Christmas in 2012 so it's not that old but I've never had a reason to use it until now :)

I also have this Horze show shirt that I bought early last year (so not that old but I haven't worn it yet) that I will be wearing this year likely.

Something New:

Most of my stuff could go into this category honestly but these are my newest.

This is the shirt I got at the World Cup! It just showed up yesterday and I LOVE it just as much as I did when I tried it on at the show. With my shape I always struggle with finding tops that look good but breeches are easier. Show shirts in particular have been tough for me and this is easily the nicest one I've found. The fabric is technical and light without being clingy and cut really nice! It was also under $100 which is tough to find in cute show shirts (for my body type) it seems.

There are quite a few things that I'm happy to invest money in from a riding outfit perspective however, a stock tie isn't one. If we start showing more and "earn" a cute one then I'd invest in a nice one but otherwise I didn't want to spend that much. The problem was that even the cheaper ones were expensive in my mind and they had poor reviews. Between spending $35 for something with bad reviews and $60 for something that's amazing I'd rather spend $60 but I just couldn't make myself actually buy the thing. So I went to Etsy and found this for $13! With shipping from Europe it was just over $20 but it's amazing. Really nice fabric and fluffy enough. I went with the pre-tied option because I just don't want to fuss with it but they have untied versions as well. I would definitely recommend them if you want a nice stock tie that isn't too expensive. They have lots of options at great prices and awesome reviews!

Something Borrowed:

Well not borrowed but I bought this from another blogger, Amanda, over at $900FacebookPony. When she listed it for sale and it happened to be dark blue and in my size, and an Equiline coat I messaged her right away. I was really excited about the amazing deal I found but now what I'm actually excited about is that this is an experienced show coat and hopefully it will help me and Katai have a great show experience ;) Oh, and it's GORGEOUS!

Something Blue:

I've got navy blue throughout my show clothes closet. Eventually I want to get Katai a grey saddle pad and then I'll wear something navy blue as a show shirt or jacket. I think it will be cute but not too different or shocking to anyone who's more traditional.

Or the seat of my breeches ;)

Modeling my outfits!:

So sorry for my murderous expression. I wasn't feeling that well on Friday morning but I knew I wouldn't have much time this weekend to do this so I went with it.

First two pictures: EGO7 Show Shirt and B Vertigo Rachel breeches
Third picture: Equiline show coat from Amanda and Horze Desiree breeches
Fourth picture: Back to the Equiline show coat, EGO7 shirt, and B Vertigo Rachel breeches
Fifth picture: Old Navy polo (this was $5 so if anyone is looking for a cheap but cute polo this is a good place to check) and Ovation breeches

I'm pretty happy with this! The fifth picture is what I'm going to wear to the schooling show and will probably go with the fourth picture for my first rated show. No pictures of me wearing the stock tie since it didn't get here until Tuesday and the lighting has been horrible for pictures. I'm sure I'll get some pictures from our upcoming show though!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

And Then I Was Sick :(

I've got some sort of devil cold. Everyone at work has had it by now but I had been fighting it off until the stress of this trip did me in. Someone at work has proposed that burning down our building might be the only way to stop it and now that I'm dealing with it I can't say that I disagree.

I started feeling sick on Thursday, was miserable on Friday for my flight back (thanks cold, so helpful and pleasant for my 4.5 hour flight), then Saturday and Sunday I pretty much laid around in bed and felt ok. Monday I started to go back downhill and now today I was miserable. Mostly it was because this also hit my monthly headache day so I was dealing with that as well.

More blurry arena photos. I may need to follow T's example
and finally invest in a nicer camera
I'd been doing so well and had made it to the barn Saturday - Monday and I RODE every day!! We also had a couple of great breakthroughs :) On Sunday Jane came out and gave me an extra mini lesson and started working with me more on using my seat to slow the canter. Whatever she said just clicked and I had a couple of amazing strides in each direction where Katai really came up with her shoulders and lightened in the connection. Katai won smart pony of the year award and we just had a great ride.

Then, on Monday we had another breakthrough that in some ways meant even more. With Katai it's the relationship stuff that means the most to me. Both because that's just more important to me than dressage ride improvement but also because we haven't always gotten along very well and Katai was so difficult to start that I didn't spend as much time building the relationship as I should have.

The best part of this trip was the vegan rum ball
rum soaked chocolate cake coated in dark chocolate :)
This weekend Katai has been HORRIBLY in heat (because we like to line up our girly days just to make sure we can be especially productive together once a month). On Saturday it wasn't that bad and I just wiped her off with a damp rag but it was much worse on Sunday and she was starting to chafe and get some raw skin. I put her in the wash stall ready for fireworks since she HATES the cold water and typically she piaffes her way through baths with a couple of rears and kicks at the wall for good measure unless we have warm water (which we don't at this barn). However, I was determined to make this as pleasant and quiet as possible for both of us so I did lots of baby talking and petting. I always try to do this but for whatever reason it really worked on Sunday. She was calm and resting and never once even threatened to kick at me even though I was washing between her legs when she was in heat.

It was just such great proof of how far we've come and gave me lots of hope that we're going to make it through this upcoming show with much less fuss.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

I'm Back!

First, to wrap up a bit about my recent stress, I'm back and it's done for now. I did develop a bad cold though since my immune system apparently couldn't handle the stress. I'm going to be at the barn as much as usual to show prep this week, I just don't know that I'll be mentally all there.

This past week was a bit like the movie Up In The Air. I didn't realize just how stressed I was until my Apple Watch (which uses heart beat as part of the way it determines how many calories you burn) told me that I'd met my goal on a day when I was mainly sedentary (I go on 3 miles walks every day and still don't always meet my goal so it takes a lot). Clearly my heart was beating pretty hard from adrenaline all day. Probably not that good for me but it's unfortunately a part of the job and fortunately not something I need to do very often. If it were I'd find a different career.

I got back to some clean horse laundry so I got that sorted.

Does anyone else love doing horse laundry or
is it just me that's weird that way?
I also came back to three packages. Two were show stuff for me and the pony (posts on that soon) and the other were my SmartPaks so I made up more baggies.

Katai will be fed for the next week :)
I had planned to go to the barn once I got home but between feeling miserably sick and last minute change in plans to pick up Veggie (I was able to get him in the cities rather than driving all the way to my parent's house) I didn't end up making it out there. I CAN'T WAIT to see my pony today and I know it's exactly what I need right now. I'm so glad to be back :)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Summer 10

Rhiannon, of The Horse Is Not Black, put together this great list of questions for an informal blog hop that I decided to join. At the very least it's content while I deal with stress causing my brain to ooze out my ears ;)

1. What are your summer goals? 

 All. of. the. shows! I mostly just want to get Katai exposure to trailering off property so that it's not as stressful for either of us. My main goal with her is for this to be fun for both of us and it certainly wasn't for our last show.
More of this...
Less of this :)

2. Do you have any tips or tricks for fly control? 

No, unfortunately I don't. I will say that the last two facilities I've been at have seemed to manage it pretty well so it hasn't been much of an issue. Well, other than the HORRIBLE horse flies at the last barn but I don't think there's much you can do with them.

3. How often do you bathe your horse? 

Very infrequently, I think I actually only bathed her maybe twice last year. Princess pony is a princess and mostly keeps herself pretty clean despite being white so I only wash her if I have something like a show. This year it will likely be more because, well, more shows :) 

This bathing photo is the most recent I have and it's from 2 years ago

4. Do you have any upcoming travel plans? 

Equine or otherwise? Unfortunately yes, I'm in WA now for a work trip. Other than this I'm not planning any more travel. If I won the lottery I'd go to the National Dressage Pony Cup again and would probably visit some part of Vermont and Portland. 

5. What is your favorite way to beat the heat? 

I love spending time at the beach or in the pool. Otherwise I pretty much hide at home in the air-conditioning. My body doesn't like the heat very much so I have to be pretty careful how much time I spend outside when it's over about 95* for the heat index. With our humidity unfortunately that's fairly often during the summer.

6. Do you do anything to prevent your horse from sunbleaching? 

I'm very lucky that I don't need to. Since she's white and a roany chestnut there's not much fading that can happen.

7. How hot is too hot for you to ride? 

Like I mentioned above it doesn't take much heat for me to get heatstroke/an all day migraine so anything around 90* is too hot for me to ride. Once my body gets used to the heat I can make it work as long as I can take it easy so trail rides are ok but anything that involves really riding is out at least unless I can do so in the shade.

8. How important is sun protection for you riding or just in general? 

Pretty important, however since I typically can't spend much time outside in the sun it's sort of a mute point. I really suspect that it's just because in MN we go through such a drastic change every year that my poor body can't ever get used to a temperature. The temp easily goes through a 110* difference between winter and summer so I'm pretty sure that when I move to a more temperate climate I'll *hopefully* be able to handle warmer temps easier. I do love my KastelDenmark sun shirt though and I got myself an Asmar long sleeve shirt for Christmas that I've been wearing as well.

9. Have you ever gone swimming with your horse? 

Yes! I was lucky to grow up within riding distance of the Mississippi river and a beach. When I was growing up we routinely took our horses to the beach and swam them in the river. It's pretty much the most awesome and adorable thing ever.

10. And because shopping is always on my mind, what’s on your summer wish list? 

So many things! Mainly more B Vertigo breeches because they're my favorite. The other things I've mainly picked up since they're all show things but I'll share a post on those later. I've also still sort of got a trailer on this list. I'm going to see how things go this year with K and if it's easy this will come off the list for the time being.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Highs and Lows

This weekend has felt a bit bipolar in both my personal and my horse life. I shipped the Vegetable off with my dad yesterday since I'll be traveling this upcoming week so it's been quiet and weird at home without him. I've also started packing and am still doing my best to deal with the stress of this not completely positive last minute trip which will now, most likely, be Tuesday-Friday.

With Mother's Day today I'm sad to not be seeing my mom (other plans, travel, etc.) and since I'll never be a mom to small humans would like to celebrate with my four legged kids. However, with Veggie gone it already feels weird and then I had a scare with Katai yesterday.

So I've mentioned previously that Katai has had some shortness in her right shoulder. It's been off and on and she's always held tension there and she does a really good impression of the Zanyeta stomp when I take up contact if she's tense. Most of the time though she's even and if she's even on the contact and working without tension she's perfect on various footing. However, if there's even a small amount of tension or if we're asking her to take more contact on the right rein she'll have a slight hitch to her gait.

Jane and I did a full lesson where Jane had me work through a few different exercises including counter bending her and changing the bend a lot and she was perfectly even for almost the entire ride. It started cropping up now that Jane's helping me get more even contact on both reins. There's no heat, no swelling, no "off-ness" to any part of her leg or shoulder but she starts to move that way when there's any tension. You can probably see it in the trotting GIF I shared in my last post. When I originally created it I was paying more attention to how active her hind legs were but when I saw how noticeable it is there I thought about pulling it. However, it's an accurate representation of where we are right now.

I want to assure you that I'm not neglecting getting a vet to look at her, if this doesn't resolve itself soon or if it changes, or starts to be more prevalent I'll of course call out the vet and do whatever they think is needed. I have the funds set aside to do it so it's not a big deal but after extensively looking at it Jane and I both feel that it's more of a "rein lameness" than anything else.

With that being said I took her over to the other barn yesterday with just a lunge line and rope halter. This barn is a PERFECT desensitization opportunity. The women who owns it has a pet potbelly pig right up against the arena along with two mini ponies in the next pen over. She's also got three, large rambunctious dogs, a rambunctious kid, multiple other horses, and jumps and standards all over in and near the arena. Basically a whole lot of things that Katai has no familiarity with.

When I got Katai there, while I was incredibly impressed at how well she was handling it, as you can imagine there was A LOT of tension. I just asked for a bit of lunging with lots of changes of direction but she was clearly uneven and this is the first time that I've lunged her where it was noticeable without side reins. I didn't do much and then took her back to our barn. Groomed her, left her, and spent the rest of the evening freaking out. Everything from retirement, to shoulder x-rays, to minor muscle tension, to calling the chiro ran through my head for about 5 hours.

I finally talked myself off the ledge and decided to have Jane look at her this morning prior to heading back over to the other arena for a ride. If Jane thought that anything was wrong I'd call off the ride and figure out with her what to do. If not, I'd go ahead and ride.

I got there and saw that Jane was videotaping her (AMAZING) young horse who was having a trainer ride outside. I watched (with my jaw hanging open) for a few minutes and let her know that I'd like to have her watch the pony trot on a lunge. She agreed but also told me that she still didn't think Katai was off. Apparently she'd been running around and Jane has already diagnosed that tension is what's causing the unevenness and she already knew that Katai was tense when I was at the neighbors.

I got Katai out (honestly all ready to prove her wrong and send us into emergency lame horse crisis mode) and brought her into the arena and started trotting her on the lunge and couldn't find even a speck of lameness. None, zilch, and I was LOOKING for it. I was so ready for her to be off that I changed directions with her a few times and even had her canter just to try to prompt it but still nothing. Then Jane showed up, also pronounced her completely sound (probably feeling like I'm some sort of hypochondriac) and reminded me how that tension would have caused her to be off just as we've talked about in the past.

I was SOOO relieved and tacked the pony up to head over to the other barn. I crossed my fingers that I'd make it out alive but I also had so much hope that she'd be good after all of our recent practice.

Long story short it went SO well! I was able to get some video which I've posted below! I pretty much just cut out mounting (and a bit of the end after I dismounted since I was trying to get a melted peppermint out of a wrapper and even I lost patience watching it) although I wish it had been in frame.

This arena belongs to the women on the right with the exceptionally tall horse and her mounting block reflects that. I had to slowly lower myself onto my pony's back since the top of the mounting block was higher than the bottom of my saddle flap #ponyproblems.

As you can see in the video she still is tight in that shoulder at points, however, for her first ride in a new space I feel like she did well and it wasn't as bad as I thought it might be. She'll get four days off next week while I'm out of town so I'm curious to see if that changes anything. If it really is just her holding tension it shouldn't but I'm curious. We really did ride for just about 10 minutes since my boy doesn't do well with quick temperature changes and this was the first 80 degree day we've had. Even with this I had a headache but much more and I would have ended up with an all day migraine. I'm planning to ride over there again next weekend so I'll work more then. Also, yeah I know that I mirrored our test and went right instead of left. I started off without room to go left when I started and since it was more about being able to cue for things at specific points I just went with it.

Finally, once I got back today I finally got to see Jane ride. Normally our schedules don't align so while I've known she's an accomplished rider I haven't quite known what to expect. Some people are better teachers than riders but I was blown away today watching Jane ride. She's not a young women and her horse is in her 20s and a true definition of a school master (at one point the mare decided to try to take over and do a canter pirouette :) and Jane rides like this.

Alois Podhajsky

and reminded me of this book
It was amazing to watch, like watching a true master. The amount of core strength and how invisible her aids are were just outstanding to me. I've seen some amazing riders but never expected to find that in my instructor and because she hasn't shown much, there aren't many scores out there for her so I just had no idea really. It totally impressed and blew me away and while I've clearly always had so much respect and trust in Jane seeing her ride herself just brought it to the next level.

We also rescheduled my Tuesday lesson to Monday so I'll have more to share soon!

Friday, May 12, 2017


Well, not anything especially different at my lesson this week so not much to share. I did get some video of my ride on Thursday so I'll share some GIFs. The arena door was open so the lighting was slightly better but still not good.

I should  have more interesting blog posts to share soon! I'm hoping/planning to make it to the outdoor arena at least once this weekend and will do my best to get some video. I've been quiet blogging but riding at least 4 times a week and at the barn at least 5 so we've been making steady progress. Katai is in a phase where she's slowly building strength so we're just keeping on keeping on at this point.

I've been quiet with blogging because I got some slightly stressful news about a last minute work trip to WA next week which resulted in lots of prep work this week. I'll be leaving Tuesday and back on Friday but originally thought I'd be gone at least 7 days. I'm happy that it will just be 4 and may even possibly be able to ride still on Tuesday so it will just be a nice three day weekend for the pony.

Without further ado, some progress GIFs :)

Pretty happy with this walk she gets tense and lateral quickly so this is pretty good for her.

Her trot is getting a bit more active!

I'm slooooooowly starting to figure out the alignment for leg yield

Sloooooooowly Katai is starting to gain the strength to not run in the canter :)
(ugh though, can I really stop leaning already?!?)

Monday, May 8, 2017

Test Review

This weekend when I saw Jane she asked if I'd be at the barn on Monday and when I let her know that I would she said that she wanted to help me review the tests. 

I think that it was both so that we could make sure that we'd decided on the correct tests and so that we can see what I need to work on. It was great for both! 

We started with the warmup. Jane wanted me to warm up the way I thought I should and just watched quietly and occasionally gave me suggestions. I was pretty proud that she only spoke up a couple of times but mostly I was able to put together an effective warmup. How it will work at the show we just won't know until we've tried it out but I was happy that I didn't just ride around like a headless chicken.

We've come so far!
After that we took a walk break, reviewed the few things that Jane wants me to do differently which are mainly more transitions and trying to get a longer stride, and then went to training level test 1. Jane called it for me since I don't have it memorized yet and called out a few things. The main thing that I was disappointed about is that I reverted to posting too quickly as soon as I started concentrating on the test but even with that there was some improvement and with some coaching from Jane I was able to get it under control. The other things that we discussed after are that I need to make sure I'm strong enough with my right leg at the halt, we need to practice our walk a bit more, and I need to make sure I support with my outside rein more at the canter.

Oh, and maybe practice my braiding

I also need to practice turning down the centerline since I overshoot EVERY SINGLE TIME. You'd think I'd have this figured out by now and I ride a small pony so I have no excuse but it just seems like it comes up so quick!

After another walk break we did training level test 2. When we first got to the arena and I started riding it began raining pretty hard but through my warmup it slowly let up. However, as we started training 2 and Jane started calling the test to me it started pouring really hard and that was accompanied by thunder and lightening. It was a really great test for me to make sure I had a rideable pony in a more stressful situation but it also meant that I struggled to hear the test and we had a couple of errors. Also, because I hadn't even looked at the test I was coming at it completely blind which made it tough to bridge the gaps in hearing my next direction. We schooled a few things as we went but overall it was good.

More early feral pony :)
Both Jane and I were REALLY happy with how it went. I have some homework but nothing really big and I've got about three more weeks to nail down those few things before the show. Jane also had the great idea of checking with a neighbor who has an outdoor arena to see if I could ride over there and she was fine with that! I'll be headed over there this weekend probably to give Katai some experience riding in a different, and outdoor, space. With that and continuing to practice trailer loading I think we're going to be in a really good place for our first shows this year!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Best Night

Old picture from my first spring with Katai
All of my nights at the barn are wonderful so when I tell you that Thursday night at the barn was the best night I've had in a long time you should know that it was pretty epic.

I've mentioned in the past that one of the big things I was worried about with this barn was that I'd miss the camaraderie of being around other horse people. I really like the people at this barn, it's just that our schedules don't work out often and there aren't as many people there so it's rare that I actually get to ride with anyone else. The person I'd most like to spend time with (K) is the other rider who works with Jane and rides Dressage but she works a very different schedule so is out often during the day when I'm at work. While it hasn't been that big of an issue for me, and I possibly actually get more done since I need to just concentrate on riding my pony, I do miss having more people around when I'm at the barn.

However, I finally got to spend some time with K on Thursday.

Also not from Thursday but from my first real trailride with Katai
This would have been late 2013 or early 2014
When I got there my plan was to first get Katai outside for a bit to practice trailer loading and hand walk her down the road. Since she's mainly indoors I wanted to make sure that she spent some more time outside to prepare her for the show. Both trailer loading and walking down the road went really, really well and she was as calm and relaxed as she's ever been. Plus, it was an amazingly warm and sunny spring day so it was very nice to spend the time outside.

After that I brought her back to the barn to tack her up for riding and with perfect timing K showed up just as I started grooming. We were able to talk a bit and Jane came out to feed so we all talked about show plans (K is my ride to shows this year). It was so much fun to get to hang out and talk. Even better, as we were getting ready to head into the arena Jane suggested that we ride down the road together. I'll admit that I probably wouldn't have been brave enough to ask but K agreed that it sounded like fun so we headed out and with some help from Jane (to hold Katai for a minute) we mounted up and headed off.
Since this seems to be the post for #TBT pictures this one is just so cute!
Katai was HOT but settled pretty quick and we proceeded to have a really nice ride. She was pretty up and it's a road that gets a bit of traffic so I didn't ride on the buckle until we got back to Jane's driveway but it still was able to be a relaxed ride with a bit of trot and mainly lots of walk. I was SOO happy with that!

Then, once we got back to the barn K and I rode together in the arena for awhile. K is showing 3rd level and hoping to get the last scores for her bronze this year. When she was taking a break she was my eyes on the ground and gave me some amazing suggestions for my transitions. We also commiserated on how hard this dressage thing is (but how much we love it) and how we have lots of the same crookedness's so we make Jane's job easier haha.

Last one ;)
"Does it look like I'm wearing my mom's clothes?"
After we finished up we untacked together, talking horses the whole time of course, and left in the dark. It was so, so, so nice to be able to talk with someone else that's on the same path. K loves dressage like I do, cares deeply for her horse, and rides an "untraditional" (small grey arab) horse in dressage but thanks to Jane has worked her way up the levels. I always enjoy talking and spending time with horse people but those similarities that put us on the same page make it even more fun.

It was an amazing night and I'm even more excited for shows this year and to get to spend more time with K.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Hard Work: Lesson Recap 5/2

First off, thank you all so much for your help on my last post! I'm going to go ahead and get Katai her HID this year since that doesn't need to be renewed but otherwise  I'm going to stick to opportunity classes. If for some reason she blows me away at these first two shows I may reconsider but otherwise it will be a nice cost savings.

Then, at some point here I may change the lesson recap posts just because there's enough similar information that I might do every other lesson or something. Not sure if people are enjoying reading them but I'm getting bored writing them ;)

At any rate this lesson felt like a lot of work. I'd skipped a couple of weeks of core workouts and then done one the weekend before this lesson. Then Jane had me work a lot on sitting trot and do a lot of canter AND she was making me use my core correctly... I'm pretty sure that's why I was dying by the end of the lesson. Katai also got a good workout and had slightly sweaty ears and some good sweat on her butt muscles.

The themes were that Jane wanted me to keep the bend and roundness really consistent (certainly not my specialty).


and make sure that she really stepped and pushed forward with her hind legs. Typically I can do one or the other but not both however in my lesson this week I was actually getting both as long as Jane didn't want me to do anything else.

Jane really pushed me to challenge Katai's balance again. First with much steeper leg yields in sitting trot where we did a zig zag from quarter line to quarter line which meant Katai going very sideways with her short little legs. I messed this one up royally before getting a good one. Then we moved on to shoulder fore and shoulder in. Jane wanted me to really focus on keeping her active in the trot and giving her space to move forward with my reins while keeping her round.

It's really tough with Katai because as soon as I use my legs to ask for something she tightens up through her back and completely loses the roundness which is a tough balancing act for someone who's just learning how to do some of these movements. We're getting there though and I'm still feeling steady improvement with each lesson which makes it fun.

Finally we worked on shallow serpentines at the canter. We've worked up to doing them to the center line rather than just the quarter line and as long as I remember not to cross my inside hand across her withers to "help" her get back to the wall we were doing pretty well. We also worked on trying to get some 10 meter circles at the canter. By the point we got to those Katai was already pretty tired so she struggled a bit but I'm so happy with how much longer she's able to maintain a decent canter!

It was a really good lesson even if I did feel exhausted by the end. It certainly made me realize that it's time for me to keep upping my fitness game and to do the same with Katai. I REALLY need to get her comfortable on the quiet(ish) gravel road so that I can get her out and work up to more trot and canter sets. It would be really good for both of us!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Teach Me Tuesday

Ok kind dressage bloggers (or bloggers with knowledge of dressage shows) I need your help!

you're our only hope gif

I've shown 4 times in my entire life, all schooling shows and two of those were hunter schooling shows when I was a kid so my mom signed me up. I've started looking into what I need to sign up for a rated show and I may as well be reading a college textbook on a topic I know nothing about.

The Facts:

-We certainly won't be qualifying for anything this year so it's not important if I'm eligible
-I've never been a member of any horse/riding related organizations so I believe I'd be eligible for opportunity classes
-I'm willing to join but if these first couple of shows are complete disasters I'm going to probably re-route to just schooling shows and/or other events I can trailer to so I'd rather not spend a ton of money this year

My Questions (I swear I've read through the rules but I can't understand half the terms and would rather ask for help than spend the next couple of weeks trying to figure this out):

-Would opportunity classes make sense this year? Is there anything I'm missing? How long am I eligible? Is it for a length of time or a number of classes? (Looks like my local shows offer training and First 1 for Opportunity classes)
-Would it make more sense to just join USDF and USEF? If so, joining my local GMO would provide me with a group membership for USDF, would that minimally qualify me to show (if I also joined the USEF) or am I missing something?
-If I join do I also need to sign Katai up? Anything to keep in mind there?
-Anything I'm missing?

I'm really not worried about being eligible for qualifying for awards or championships. First I'm sure it won't happen. Second, if by some miracle I were to qualify for championships I wouldn't go since I'd rather save the money and do more clinics this fall so that we'd have a better shot at not failing at such a big show. I do plan to join everything next year when we'll have a better chance (hopefully lol) of getting decent scores.

Monday, May 1, 2017

April Goals Recap and May Goals

Goals for April:

April was so much better for us than March!

Trailer Loading Practice: Pretty much every day that I've been able to (not raining and I'm at the barn with some daylight) I've been working on trailer loading and it's been paying off. She's been on and off quite a few times and while she's still anxious she's not freaking out quite as bad and is calming down quicker after.

Practice Riding the Lateral Work: Again, I'm doing a much better job at practicing this and we've been doing more lateral work in my lessons as well.

Structure Rides More Carefully: Meh, I have been feeling better about this and about how I'm structuring my weeks in general between lunging, riding, and trailer loading.

Trail Ride: Nope, I didn't get this accomplished but I'm happy enough with the trailer loading practice and once the ground dries out (crazy rain!!!!!!) I'll spend more time riding outside.

Goals for May:

I'm so looking forward to May :)

More Trailer Loading Practice: All of the trailer loading practice! I'm going to fully take advantage of the next month or so to do as much of this as possible.

More Consistency: With this I just want to continue to keep things like roundness or bend more consistently through the ride and not lose it for as long as I am now. I've already made lots of progress on this but I need to keep pushing and not just maintain what I've got right now.

Have a Successful Show: This is a two parter for me. Success will mean Katai being more relaxed, less frantic, and thus the ability for us to have more fun. I realize this is a tall order since it will only be her second show (and third time she's trailered off property for an event) but I'll be happy with even small progress.
The second is my goal. Horse shows don't make me competitive, lesson environments do, shows don't. Who knows maybe my mom was competitive enough for both of us at competitions ;) or maybe I just don't care. The more I've thought about our show last year the more I think that part of our extremely low score was that I didn't care enough. I got into the ring with a very relaxed attitude and only got tense/worried when Katai was threatening to blow up. I sort of think that if I'd gone in the ring with more of a plan or goal I'd have ridden rather than just letting her do her thing and would have gotten a better ride. So, my goal this year is to win our Intro C class. Yep, it's a tall order and could be impossible but there's my goal :)
Wether we win or not I'm not going to be upset or anything other than proud at both of us for doing it. However, I am going to push myself this year to do better than just be present and while a score of 40% would technically be an improvement I'm sure we can do better than that.


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...