Sunday 29 January 2017

Sneak Preview

I still don't have time for full blog posts yet but I wanted to share some exciting news: Today I got to go to the barn with Tracy from Fly On Over and meet Miles and Moiya!

Post-ride, Miles on the left, Moiya on the right

Tracy is the first blogger that I've met in real life (first but hopefully not last!). She is such a fun and friendly person and I'm really glad we had the chance to meet up. She was also very generous with her time and horses and I had a great ride on Miles (who was a perfect gentleman). Thanks Tracy!

Full recaps and more media to come, plus a saddle seat adventure!  

Wednesday 25 January 2017

Brain Overload

So I'm currently in Ohio at a two week course for work. While I was sad to be gone from Kachina for two weeks, I figured I would have lots of time in the evenings for blogging with being away from home and having no riding, no house chores, no social engagements, etc. I had this whole plan to finish up posts in my drafts folder and post them, and also get caught up on blog reading.

Well, it turns out that this is the course material:

Yes, we have to cover all of that in 2 weeks! Actually 9 days because next Friday is the full day test! I'm used to work training being a lot less intense, but this program is requiring nighttime reading of multiple chapters and about 100 homework questions every night. Needless to say, it's not leaving me with a lot of time for blogging.

I do have a couple fun riding lessons on school horses planned for the weekend, but I'm afraid you probably won't hear about them until after I'm back home in Alberta, assuming that my brain isn't complete mush by then :-P

ETA: had to edit this post twice to fix stupid spelling errors, my prospects for avoiding brain mushiness are not looking good

Thursday 19 January 2017

Q4 Review and Q1 Goals

Q4 Goal Review

1. Participate in 2pointober
Success - I participated and improved my time from 2:25 to 6:23. I found 2pointober useful and plan to do it again. 

2. Solidify my new leg position
Success - I still need to remind myself from time to time, but the correct leg position is becoming a lot more natural for me. 

3. Get softness from Kachina in all gaits and transitions within gaits
Semi-success - our trot improved hugely this quarter, but the canter isn't there yet. 

4. Practice test riding and all test movements
Nope - we went back to basics (again) last quarter. We are making some big improvements, but we haven't quite tackled test patterns yet. 

5. Re-introduce trot lengthening
Semi-success - This didn't happen in Q4, but it did happen this week!

6. Get correct bend more consistently at all 3 gaits
Semi-success - Huge success at walk and trot, not yet at canter. 

7. Improve hand/arm position and steady soft contact
Success - There's always more improvement to be done, but I have improved. Namely, I can ask for inside bend without weirdly lifting my arm, and I have learned to give up my death grip on the outside rein. 

8. Get Kachina to stand inside for grooming and tacking up
Semi-success - She's still not a fan of inside the barn and gets tense and paws a little, but she is much better than she was last winter and she isn't hazardous now (doesn't run into me etc.)

9. Ride in a lesson every month
Semi-success - I got two lessons in November. I didn't in October or December but I was better at using my brain and figuring out some solutions on my own. 

That equals a success rate of 5.5/9, and only 1 goal that I totally didn't do. I'm really happy with where we're at right now. 

2017 Q1 Goals

1. Ride in at least two clinics/lessons
Sandra is coming back Feb 25/26 and for the other I can either haul to a different city, try a new instructor here, or get another lesson with T

2. Be show-ready at Walk-Trot
Show season starts in early Q2, I'd like to be at least ready to kick some W/T butt. At this point that means I just need to practice pattern riding, and also do some mane and tail taming. 

3. Get up to at least first canter stage in the progression plan 
I've already ticked a few steps down in the list since the new year so I think this is achievable

4. Figure out girth and saddle pad/half pad 
A whole post on this is in the works

5. Do some desensitization work with plastic bags and/or clippers 
This winter is actually a real winter so I didn't end up clipping Kachina before Christmas, I do however want to clip her once the weather warms up so I can do longer workouts with her. It might not warm up in this quarter but I want to at least introduce the clippers. 

That's all the goals I'm going to make for this quarter. It's already 2 weeks into the quarter and I will be out of town for a total of 4 weeks for different things so this is plenty to do in the time I'm actually here. 

Tuesday 17 January 2017

2016 Goal Review

2016 Goals

  1. Participate in at least 8 horse shows or clinics
    • Success! This year, Kachina and I did the following: Mini-clinic with Sandra in February, Cowboy Challenge Clinic in February, Carrots & Cocktails I dressage show in March, Carrots & Cocktails II dressage show in April, Chinook Country Bronze dressage show in June, Elaine clinic in June, Writing on Stone trip in July (not technically a show or clinic, but we went somewhere new to do new things so it counts), local open show in July, Elaine clinic in September, Sandra clinic in November. That's 10 things total and now I feel just as confident with Kachina in new places as I do at home so I consider this goal a huge success! 
  2. Achieve at least 62% on a training level dressage test
    • Not quite. Our highest training level score this year was 60.5%, but that was at T3 in a recognized show. We also did get 65% on a Walk/Trot test. We didn't technically reach this goal but I'm still pretty happy.
  3. Be schooling all of 1st level
    • Fail! We are still working on consistency and improvement at training level. I have a plan for introducing some more first level components in the near future but we aren't here yet. 
  4. Ride 100 times or more in 2016 / Go to the barn 150 times or more in 2016.
    • Fail! In 2016 I visited Kachina 113 times and rode 65 times. I generally say that I ride 2-3 times a week (a lot less than some bloggers, but that's my reality). When I actually track it, there are a lot of weeks where I do go to the barn 3 times and ride twice, but when you factor in the weeks where I can't ride at all due to work, being out of town, Kachina or I being sick, weather, etc, the average gets pulled down. I keep wanting to up my number of rides/week but it's not easy. 
  5. Get to the point where I would be comfortable cantering every ride, anywhere
    • Fail! When I made this goal my thought was that cantering was the only way our canter was going to improve. I've since learned that there is a lot more work we can do at the trot, and that will ultimately set us up for more success at the canter. 
  6. Teach Kachina to consistently ground tie or stand tied at home
    • Not quite. We've come so far with this and Kachina will stand with a lot less fussing than before. She also now respects my space and is safer, but there's still some pawing that happens. 
  7. Have Kachina consistently stand still for grooming/saddling/bridling/mounting
    • Not quite. See above. 
  8. Trail ride somewhere other than home
    • Success! The Writing on Stone trip was somewhere new and very different that pushed me way out of my comfort zone. Kachina was stellar on the steep trails, varied terrain, river crossings, babysitting other horses, taking care of me, etc. I would definitely do a trip like this with her again. 
  9. Be able to complete a trail class or cowboy challenge type course
    • Success! We did a cowboy challenge clinic early in the year. We weren't perfect but we tackled all of the obstacles. 
Overall we got 4.5/9. Not great. However, I realized fairly early on that these goals weren't the most realistic and changed to doing Quarterly goals instead. I think the Quarterly goals are more valuable, but I'm still going to do some 2017 year goals just for fun.

2017 Goals

  1. Keep Kachina happy and healthy
    • Stretch: build good topline and muscles
  2. Be able to do a good training level test pattern
    • Stretch: do a good training level test actually at a show in front of a judge 
  3. Start First Level work
    • Stretch: be able to do all components of First Level Test 1 and 2
  4. Get at least six lessons/clinics
    • Stretch: host and participate in 6 clinics with Sandra in this area and go to additional clinics/lessons too
  5. Compete in at least one show
    • Stretch: Get above 65% at a show
    • Stretch: Earn a ribbon
  6. Trail ride somewhere new
    • Stretch: do a full out gallop somewhere
  7. Improve my position
    • Stretch: be comfortable bareback or without stirrups at walk/trot/canter
    • Stretch: get to a healthy weight and fitness
  8. Continue to do ground work
    • Stretch: train Kachina to stand still in any situation
  9. Do some desensitization work
  10. Keep being involved and further develop the local dressage community
    • Stretch: host a local dressage show
  11. Have fun

Monday 16 January 2017

Blogger Secret Santa

This was my first year participating in Fly On Over's blogger gift exchange. I was excitedly checking my mailbox all through Christmas. I live in Canada though so things take a little longer to get to and from the states (both the present I received and the one I sent didn't arrive until January), hence the late post.

Always exciting to get a package!

I was super excited when my package finally came. I didn't immediately recognize the name on it but the return address was in Ohio, which immediately interested me because I am going to Ohio at the end of January for work. When I read the card I found out that my secret santa was none other than gift exchange organizer extraordinaire, Tracy from Fly On Over! I immediately had to laugh because Tracy had sent me an email before Christmas letting me know that my gift might be late, but she phrased it in such a way that I totally thought she had just passed on the message from someone else.
I have to include that email here because it's hilarious (and also pecan whiskey eggnog sounds amazing):


I've just been notified that your "secret santa" got waylaid by pecan whiskey eggnog ... and then the reindeer found a particularly scrumptious carrot patch. But never fear! Your gift is on the way, it just is a bit behind schedule. 


Card plus 3 parts

The gift itself was divided into 3 parts, one for me from Tracy, one for Kachina from Miles, and one for my kitties from Tracy's dogs. I thought that was an adorable idea! Windy and Apollo (my cats) got some turkey flavoured cat treats, suitably festive. Kachina got some apple flavoured snacks. (both kinds of snacks have been approved by their recipients). And finally, I got some Higher Standards leather care! This is one of the products that I've seen reviewed in blogland and have wanted forever, but I just couldn't justify spending $15 shipping on a $20 product. Even one Higher Standards product would have been awesome, but Tracy put together this awesome sample pack for me that has 1 small tub of the leather balm, and 3 small tubs of the leather soap, all in different scents. They all smell so good! I have to admit that I don't really clean tack much in the winter so they haven't been used yet, but I'm really excited to try them out. Thanks Tracy!

Windy wanted to smell all the gifts, even the ones that weren't for him

As an added bonus, getting the gift from Tracy was the perfect opportunity to non-creepily mention that I would be in her neck of the woods in a couple weeks and so it's looking like I get to do my first blogger meet-up. Anyone else here in the Columbus area? Shoot me a message (see the Contact Me tab at the top of this page) and we can talk :-)

Rocky and Kona are officially Apollo and Windy's favorite dogs now,
no other dogs have ever gotten them treats =)

In the gift exchange, I got Aryelle's name from Horse Hack. She wanted stuff in her eventing colours of black, white, and gold. I saw from her photos that she had lots of black and white so I started looking for gold. Gold is actually a really tough colour to find stuff in. I went to multiple tack stores to search. I eventually ended up finding a gold handled brush, a gold stock pin, and a white and gold bit-themed bracelet.

Can't forget the horses!

I didn't see the gift-exchange post until December so I was in the second wave of gift exchangers. For future years I will try and get in on it earlier so that I have more time to get something better. As it was I didn't have enough time to either order something in or do anything crafty, and even with buying local, my gift still didn't reach Aryelle in time for Christmas (sorry Aryelle!). I still had a lot of fun with both giving and receiving gifts though and I will be participating again in 2017.

All my goodies unwrapped!

Monday 9 January 2017

Breaking Routine

Sorry for the blogging silence, after the Christmas break, the first week of January was extra busy.

I've still been riding and the riding has been going well. I've learned that Kachina does well with routine so we've been sticking with a pretty solid routine. Every time I go to the barn, I bring Kachina in, tie her in the same place, groom and tack up the same way, ride the same warmup, and then move onto the work of the day. It's been working, we've been having really good rides. Also, while not perfect, Kachina has been more accepting about being tied inside and her ground manners are improving.

Even though the routine is working for us, I am wary about being too consistent. Kachina will have to cope with new situations sometimes and I don't want that to be an issue.

Today was cold and snowy and I was tired. I just felt like doing something different, so I did. First I lunged Kachina. I tried something new, to reinforce our lessons about inside bend, I lunged her in a surcingle and just one inside side rein. I worked on some transitions, including canter transitions (which we aren't doing under saddle yet). Kachina wanted to get a little hollow and counterbent at first, but even though the side rein wasn't that tight, it seemed to help encourage her to accept an inside bend and more rounded frame. I don't lunge frequently, but I think the single side rein is a useful tool that I may use again, especially for canter work.

Next, I decided to throw on my bareback pad and hop on bareback. I haven't ridden bareback since early last year and I've never done much of it. I don't feel very confident bareback, and Kachina isn't always the most solid horse so I don't push it. Today I felt like trying though so I did. I was a little nervous mounting up but it went well as soon as I was on. We just walked but I got some great lateral work and 10 and 20m circles. It gave me some good insight into what I do with my hips and upper body (bracing and leaning respectively).

To end the evening I let Kachina loose in the indoor arena where she enjoyed a few good rolls (which her blanket and the snow make less satisfying outside).

Our selfie game is improving too

Overall, I had fun breaking routine today, and Kachina took the change in stride, staying nice and relaxed but focused.

Stay tuned for some goal related posts and my blogger secret santa gift (which finally arrived on Friday!)