Friday 24 February 2017

Just a Blip

My last ride-related post was a whiny one about a really bad ride (What Goes Up Must Come Down). Luckily, that bad ride seems like it was just a temporary blip in an otherwise good winter of rides. The day after my ride, Kachina was in flaming heat (as well as the other 5 mares around her). Kachina is usually pretty good when she's in heat, but this is her first cycle since the fall (the warm weather must have triggered it), so it's certainly possible that she was feeling extra hormonal and my ride happened to coincide with peak build-up.

I've had a few good rides since then and have managed to halt the crazy train that my mind had jumped on after our extra bad day.

The biggest success: I cantered at home, not in a lesson, and I got correct leads and balance and even relaxed trot work afterwards! The transitions were still crap and it took us a couple circles to get the balance and pace sorted out, but we still did it! I'm really happy that my work this fall at bringing everything back to basics is paying off.

Look ma, we can canter!

I also had another lesson with D, our new local dressage instructor. My SO had the day off work so I dragged him out to my lesson and made him take video! Some of what felt like our best moments ended up being cut off or at a bad angle on the video which is unfortunate, but it's still awesome to have some media. We worked on pretty much the exact same things as last time, adding impulsion to working trot, trot lengthenings, shallow trot leg yields, trot-walk transitions, canter circles, stretchy trot. Kachina wasn't quite as stellar as the first lesson, but she was still really good overall.

I see you person with camera

I found watching the video to be a helpful way to see where we're at right now. Both Kachina and I at various points lost our balance and got stiff. For me this would manifest by leaning forward, sticking my feet out in front of me, and pulling on the reins (sorry Kachina!). For Kachina this would manifest in hollowing her back, tipping her nose, doing motorcycle turns, and speeding up her tempo. However, these moments happened a lot less frequently than they used to. When one of these moments did happen, I was really happy to see that we were both able to recover and get back to where we should be within a few strides. Before, it might be a full circle before we got things under control. I need to continue this trend so that those moments of unbalance only last for a split second and then hopefully not at all.


Wrong lead, tense, leaning

Kachina: Hollow, running
Me: leaning, pulling, stiff

We aren't dressage superstars by any means, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that the video generally looked like one of a training level pair. Kachina isn't consistently on the bit, but that's not the point of training level. The official purpose is "To confirm that the horse demonstrates correct basics, is supple and moves freely forward in a clear rhythm with a steady tempo, accepting contact with the bit." I think that pretty well describes where we are at right now for the bulk of our rides (excepting those moments I mentioned above). Additionally, we can now achieve that with a nice forward working trot instead of the under-powered small trot we used to need to stay in control. That tells me that we are starting on the road to first level with developing that "thrust". 

20m trot circle with adequate amount of bend!

Canter with happy relaxed looking mare

This was the moment of our canter transition,
My position is terrible, but Kachina is actually uphill and sitting!

In these lessons with D, she is asking us to do a lot more than I've been doing at home. I'm torn on that. One one hand, Kachina seems ready to push the envelope a little bit, and I don't want to stay stuck on training level forever. On the other hand, we've come a long ways in the last few months and I don't want to push too hard and end up sliding back or creating training holes.

Trot Lengthen!
(our better ones were one the long side near the camera so hard to see)

Also, Megan's recent post over at A Enter Spooking about Baseline Gaits really got me thinking. As I'm adding in new exercises, I'm finding that I have to be a bit naggy to keep the bend and roundness. That's not a good end goal, so maybe I need to go back and focus on them a bit more until Kachina is comfortable enough with the concepts to hold them with more limited reminders from me.

This weekend I have my next clinic with Sandra (that I am also organizer for). I'm really excited to hear what she thinks about where we're at and what we should be working on for the next couple months.

Thursday 23 February 2017


I've often wondered about Kachina's early history (quick recap for any newer readers: I bought Kachina as a 12 year old from people who had owned her for 4 years, she didn't have papers and the people I bought her from didn't know her breeding or really anything about the first 8 years of her life). Part of it is just simple curiosity, but part of it is a desire to learn more about what makes Kachina tick and why she is the way she is. I've certainly considered trying to find past owners but haven't really had a good place to start with so little to go on. I have tried browsing through old foal photos on websites of breeding operations in the area of Alberta she is from, and pinto breeders from elsewhere, etc. but that was a long shot and hasn't panned out.

Well the amazing happened yesterday, a lady saw a post I had made about the clinic I'm organizing in an Alberta-wide Facebook page, Kachina is in my profile picture (obvs) and she saw the photo and messaged me, here's how that conversation went (only edited to protect identities and add in my thoughts during the exchange)

PO: Hi, your horse looks like someone I used to know a long time ago. Is it a mare? If it's the girl I used to know, just wondering how she is doing... thanks

Me: Hi, she is a mare, 14 years old, name is Kachina (she came to me with that name but I don't have papers so it might have been something else before). I bought her in 2014 from _______ near ________, I think they had her for 4 years but I don't know much about her history from before that. I would be super interested to learn more if she is the same horse!
(Internal me: feeling excited but also keeping my guard up a bit since I have no idea who this woman really is. Figured the best way to start was giving relevant info to see if it was in fact the same horse or not)

PO: Wow it is her!!! Aww, I can hardly believe it!!!
(Internal me: wishes she had revealed how she knew it was her, did she know the lady I bought her from? Or is she just guessing it's the same horse because age and gender match up?)

Me: Super cool! So when/how did you know her? She is doing well. Healthy and happy. We divide our time between trail riding and learning dressage.
(Internal me: you said you used to know her, what does that mean? Like did you own her or just meet her once? Did you know her while the person I bought her from owned her, or from before that?)

PO (Previous Owner): I brought her home as a four year old. She was basically unhandled. She was very scared and didn't trust people at all. The people I got her from didn't touch her until she was a yearling, and when they decided to handle her they chased her until she slipped in the mud, jumped on her when she was down, put a halter on her, snubbed her to a post and proceeded to trim her hooves. I don't blame her for being afraid...
(Internal me: Holy crap, need some time to process this)
(Internal me: That's a heartbreaking story, how could anyone do that to her)
(Internal me: This is awesome that I actually found the person who knows the parts of Kachina's life that I don't!)
(Internal me: Still a little naturally dubious/suspicious)
(Internal me: That explains so much *thinks back to tension related to being tied and to having feet done*)
(Internal me: those moving dots that show someone is writing more were driving me crazy, I was waiting for a few min and was expecting and hoping for a long continuation of the story, instead I just got:)
PO: I spent a lot of time with her, and pretty soon she would come running when I called.
(Internal me: I was hoping for a lot more details, but she's not writing any more so I guess I need to respond)

Me: Wow! That's terrible to hear that she had such a rough start. Might explain why she sometimes still gets tense when tied or for the farrier. How long did you have her? Do you know anything about her breeding? Have any old photos? I'd love to hear more! I can send you some recent photos if you want
(Internal me: I want to know more!)
(Internal me: Must not ask too many questions)
(Internal me: Asking her for old photos is perfect. A) I would love to see them, B) proves that she did actually know Kachina when she was younger and can put my suspicious self to rest (still a little questioning, I don't see motive for fabricating this story, but sometime people are crazy, and it's also possible that we're still talking about two different horse))

PO: The mare she was out of was an Arab thoroughbred cross and the stallion was a registered paint. I don't know what his name was.
(Internal me: Arab? Really?? With her block head? lol)
(Internal me: Darn, I was secretly kind of hoping she had papers or fancy breeding)
(Internal me: The mix does make sense to explain her colour + non-quarter-horse-ness + height + narrowness)
PO: I'd love to see recent pictures! I'll dig around to see if I can find some for you.
(Internal me: Yay!)
PO: Just about brings tears to my eyes knowing she is doing well. I'm so happy for her
(Internal me: still keeping a little guard up until I see photos but there's no harm in me sending photos and some info. What would I feel like if I discovered an old horse I used to own?)

Me: *Sends over a dozen photos of Kachina with captions, including: her pretty head, trail riding, her in pasture with buddies, at liberty, show photos, ride photos from my last lesson, expressive dirt eyebrows after rolling, etc.*
I would love to see any photos you have!
(Internal me: cherry picks good images, want to assure PO that she is in a good home. I would like to get into a deeper conversation about some of her tension and ground work issues at some point, but not the time for that yet)

After not getting any response for a couple hours:
Me: Hopefully those photos sent properly. So how long did you have Kachina? (was that her name when you had her?) Did you do stuff with her other than ground work? I actually just got back from the barn
(Internal me: really trying not to scare her off with 20 million questions but really wanting to ask 20 million questions)
(Internal me: asking about stuff other than ground work both because I'm curious about whether she mostly sat in a field during that time in her life or did other things, and also because I have a bit of data about her level of training when she was 8 years old and I would love to get some info that I can use to determine whether this lady's story checks out)

To be continued....
(I hope, seriously. I'm not dividing this story into parts on purpose, she hasn't replied so I legit don't know how this story ends. So, of course I'm going to make all of you wait in suspense with me!)

I'm still processing. There's a lot of unanswered questions here (a lot!). But it sounds like my horse may have been mistreated pretty badly in her youth. That's quite the bombshell. I went out to the barn last night and just loved on Kachina in her pen. I felt a weird sense of almost possessiveness, maybe like how an adopted parent feels after finding out about their kid's birth parents. In this case, I just found out information about 2 different previous parents Kachina had, 1 bad and 1 good (supposedly), and I don't even know yet whether there were more too (kind of why I asked a couple times about how long PO had her). I'm really really hoping PO continues the conversation with me. I'll let you know!

Wednesday 22 February 2017

Ohio Adventures Part 3 - Miles and Moiya

If you're still keeping track of my Ohio adventures, here's where we're at:

Part 1 - I met Tracy for supper and had a saddle seat lesson
Part 2 - I bought a copious number of things from a brick and mortar store in Ohio as well as ordering from Riding Warehouse

Now, onto the most exciting part, a barn visit with Tracy and her two friendly horses Miles and Moiya!

On Sunday (now more than 3 weeks ago, sorry for the slow blogging), Tracy from Fly On Over graciously invited me out to her barn to come ride Miles.

When I drove up to the property, the first step was finding out which barn she was in. Yes, this place had multiple barns and even two indoor arenas! Plus amenities such as plumbing and heating (I admit, I have a low bar when it comes to what makes a barn seem fancy to me haha).

Tracy was just taking Miles out of his stall to tack up when I arrived. He is certainly a character. He seemed well behaved to me but certainly made his pleasure or displeasure known with a whole host of facial expressions. He was also a total ham for face rubbing.

We went to the indoor arena and Tracy hopped on first to warm him up. Through her blog and also through our conversations, I was aware that Miles is not always the easiest horse so I was impressed by how good they looked. I could see why Miles makes such a good hunter horse, he definitely has a very steady even pace at all gaits.

Tracy in the irons. She also has strong matching game!

Next up was my turn. It's been quite a while since I've ridden in a jumping saddle, but Tracy's was so comfortable! We also have similar length legs etc. so I don't think we even had to move the stirrups. I put Miles through his paces, doing some walk, trot, canter, circles, and even some lengthenings. He was so much fun to ride! Tracy really has done an amazing job with him. Even though he didn't know me, he responded well to every request. He didn't seem hot or lazy, but a perfect in-between where he went forward when asked and came back when asked equally easily. He just struck me as a really well trained horse, and that doesn't happen by accident. Miles has been mostly taking a vacation from jumping this winter so I just flatted him but that was plenty and a lot of fun.

My turn! Whee! He was such a fun ride. 
I look like I'm having a lot more fun than Miles is haha

After we put Miles away, I stuck around to watch Tracy ride Moiya. I think it's so cool that she gets to ride these two very different horses. Moiya seems tiny next to giant Miles and they also have very different temperaments. Tracy rode them both well. I took some video of Tracy and Moiya jumping which she posted here.

Little Moiya!

It was great to have some horsey time in the middle of my work trip and I can now say with experience that blogger meet-ups can be a lot of fun!

Friday 17 February 2017

What Goes Up Must Come Down

Right now, temperatures are up (yay!) but the quality of my rides are way down (boo!)

It's been an unseasonably warm week. Most of the snow has melted and even the mud is drying up now. Today in particular was beautiful. The sun was shining and the wind calmed down. All I could think about was getting out to the barn and riding.

Work is stressful right now. I have a lot of things on my plate and will need to put in a lot of extra hours at the office over the next couple weeks. However, the fields were calling me today so I used up some banked hours and took the afternoon off so I could make use of the daylight and the sunshine.

Unfortunately, when I got to the barn, it was anything other than fun. Kachina was wound up and tense from the start. Her ground work was worse than usual. She cut my hand jerking her foot away repeatedly while I was trying to pick it, and even just leading her to and from the hitching post was a battle. I figured she would be okay once I got on so I threw on my western saddle for an extra bit of security and went to ride outside. Unfortunately, she never settled down. After a couple laps around the property with a lot of necessary circling, I decided that the safer choice was to move inside to the arena rather than venture down the road by myself (the outdoor arena is still too wet to be useable).

Even once we moved inside, things weren't much better. I was able to be a more effective rider, but Kachina was using her old tricks of counterbent giraffe running. I worked Kachina into a lather just trying to get a couple decent circles of trot. She was a completely different horse than she was at my amazing lesson last Sunday.

My sweaty, pawing jerk of a horse

Part of me recognizes that today was only one bad ride and Kachina has been doing really well in general for the last few months. Also, even though it was a bad ride, I had more tools than the last time she was like this and so I was able to keep pushing for what I wanted and got some decent trot in the end.

On the other hand, mentally, I just didn't have the patience for her shenanigans today. All I wanted was a nice toodle in the sun and I was so frustrated with my horse for not letting me have that. While I'm not the most talented rider, I normally find that patience and understanding for the horse come easily to me. Today was the first time in a very long time that I just felt like giving up. I'm hoping this is just a small blip and that we're both back to our better selves tomorrow.

Note: I know this post has a distinct whiny tone to it, sorry about that. I'm not fishing for sympathy or anything, I just feel like for my blog to be honest I need to post about the bad as well as the good.

Thursday 16 February 2017

Ohio Adventures Part 2 - Buy All The Things

I am always jealous of all the awesome horse stuff I see on blogs that isn't available (or is super expensive) in Canada. My trip to Ohio seemed to be a great opportunity to do some shopping.

On the first Friday I was in Columbus, I met Tracy for supper at an Italian restaurant near my hotel. We had a great couple hours of non-stop pony talk. Near the end of the evening, Tracy invited me to join her and a couple of her barnmates at a big tack store sale the following afternoon. The sale was at Equus Now, a store that I had found online and was planning to check out myself anyways, so a sale and some company just made it even better!

On Saturday, I first went for my saddle seat lesson. After that was over, I had a little time to kill so I wandered around the campus of Denison University in Granville Ohio. The campus is on a big hill near the center of town (I feel like walking up the hill to get to class every day must make all the students really fit!). I work in the STEM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Math) fields myself so I felt a little like a spy walking around a Liberal Arts College, but it made for a nice walk.

After that, I drove back into Columbus to meet Tracy and her friends at Equus Now. The store is massive, and it was fairly crowded because of the sale. I would be in serious trouble if I had a tack store that nice in close proximity to me! (Except they had a bunch of Ogilvy pads that were really overpriced IMO, it's way cheaper to buy straight from Ogilvy's website even with shipping, and then you also get to fully customize your colours!)

I spent ages looking at stuff, but ended up being fairly restrained in my purchases. I ended up spending only $101 for all of the following:

  • Centaur Boot Bag with Embroidered Fox Heads - I've been meaning to get a boot bag for a while, and this one seemed well made and was adorable!
  • Teal Dressage Saddle Pad - I have a saddle pad addiction, and this was only $20! Plus the colour looks awesome on Kachina. 
  • Noble Outfitter's Peddies Boot Socks - these have like a real sock foot part and then are skinny fabric for the calf part, I hadn't seen that combo before and it seemed useful.
  • Roma Rubber Curry/Massage Grooming Mitt - Kachina isn't a huge fan of grooming so I figured it was worth trying to see if a massage would make her enjoy it more
  • Green sun shirt - this is an off brand of sunshirt but it was really comfortable, a really good price, and I loved the colour/pattern. (this was in the warehouse/sale part of store and isn't on website)

I think I did pretty well! 

I probably should have stopped there when it came to shopping, but I didn't. I blame the bad influence of blogland. See I was reading through some blogs on Sunday, and saw Karen of Bakersfield Dressage's post about her new Ovation breeches. I went on the Riding Warehouse website and realized that I could get $5 two-day shipping and get a Riding Warehouse order sent to my hotel before I left (you Americans are so lucky with your shipping rates and speed!). Once I realized that, I kind of wanted to buy everything, but I did have to limit myself both for financial and luggage room reasons. 

Here's what I bought from Riding Warehouse:

  • Ovation Euroweave Campania Boysenberry Breeches - these are the same ones Karen bought and wrote about. All my current breeches are super plain and I liked how pretty these were, plus I wanted to try sock bottoms. I haven't bought breeches in a long time, mostly because I am trying to lose weight (I am down one size already!). These breeches didn't come in my current size so I decided to kill a couple birds with one stone and order a pair that is one size smaller. This gives me some literal #goalbreeches and some great motivation to keep up the work to slim down. 
  • Woofhoof TRETS Reward Treat Pouch - I like to give Kachina treats for good behaviour. In the winter my coat pockets are filled with treats, but I often don't have a place to put them when wearing summer clothes. I'm hoping this pouch with magnetic closure and belt clip will solve that issue. Word to the wise though, it's a lot smaller than I was expecting, it won't fit that many treats. 
  • Tough 1 Hoof Pick with LED Light - OMG, this is genius! All winter I have been trying to pick out ice balls from Kachina's feet in her pen in the pitch dark. This hoof pick has a light built into it that shines on the hoof while you are picking it. I only grabbed one, but I'm kind of wishing I had bought like five of these, both to give out to friends and to keep spares for myself. I bought it to use outside at night, but it's also really useful to have some extra light while picking feet in a shadowy barn. 

I travelled down to Ohio with no carry-on luggage, so I ended up using my new boot bag as a carry on bag on the way home to fit my boots and a few other things that wouldn't fit in my checked suitcase. This ended up working out awesomely because I had a few hours to kill in Toronto airport between flights and I made a stop at the shoe shine guy. He cleaned and polished my riding boots way better than I could ever do myself and was also a friendly guy to chat with. I would highly recommend doing the same if you ever end up travelling through an airport with your riding boots! (though apparently the TSA guys think it looks a little suspicious on the X-ray if you have a bag with boots and a loaf of bread inside the boots haha (I found some really good gluten-free bread in Ohio and wanted to bring some home))

So shiny!

Wednesday 15 February 2017

Colour Poll

In between my Ohio posts, I need to interrupt with an important tack buying question! Who better to help than the blogosphere?!

I am planning to order a fleece girth cover (girths are a whole other post) from Le Mieux / Horse Health UK. Shipping is expensive, so I was looking through their catalogue to see if there was anything else I wanted to order from them... and I discovered matchy matchy heaven!

Photo taken from Le Mieux website 

They have saddle pads, fly hoods and polos in a whole bunch of really vibrant colours. I 100% don't need any of this stuff, but I saw it and I can't get it out of my mind, I want! Also, the saddle pads have tabs to secure to saddle D-rings which is a cool feature that I've never seen before but would love to try because I don't like the standard top velcro tabs on saddle pads but I've recently had some trouble with pads slipping back without them. 

So, the question is, what colour?? The fact that Kachina is a black and white pinto means that the traditional dressage colours of black and white don't look very good on her, but she can wear almost any other colour. I can think of a number of these Le Mieux colours that would look fantastic but I can only justify choosing one (and I can barely justify one lol). I'm frozen by indecision myself so I need your help, what colour should I get for miss Kachina?? (Scroll down below colour photos for poll)

Benetton Blue




Peacock Green




What colour of matchy matchy stuff should Kachina have?

Tuesday 14 February 2017

Ohio Adventures Part 1 - Saddle Seat Lesson!

(These posts are a bit delayed, so in case you missed it, I was in Ohio for work from Jan 21-Feb 4. Most of my trip was work related but I got to meet the one and only Tracy from Fly On Over and squeeze in a few fun horsey activities which will be the subject of these 3 parts)

You might be from a small town if...
...every seat on the plane is both a window and an aisle seat,
...the plane only has 20 people on it including the pilot and co-pilot but it's a full flight,
...the airport you left from only has 1 gate
...they rearrange seating assignments based on weight to balance the plane

When I found out that I was going down to Ohio for work for two weeks, I quickly started looking into riding opportunities for while I was down there. Originally I was hoping to find a high level dressage trainer with an available schoolmaster to take lessons on (which I did eventually arrange but unfortunately the trainer's schedule changed and she ended up being in Florida so she had to cancel).

One of the airports on my travels had these really cool metal horse sculptures

I googled stables in the area and started reading through each website to see if they had lessons, and what discipline. I came across a saddle seat barn and was immediately intrigued. Saddle seat doesn't really exist in Alberta. I had never even seen a saddle seat saddle. To be honest, I've essentially only heard negative things about the sport. However, I didn't want to make false assumptions so I figured I would give it a try and judge it with my own eyes.

The saddle seat barn had a very easy online booking feature on their website. It asked about my riding history so I checked the boxes for hunt seat, dressage and western, and said I have ridden for a lot of years but never tried saddle seat before. I booked a lesson for Saturday morning and got a quick confirmation email from the stables.

When Saturday came, I rented my car and drove East out of Columbus to the Granville Ohio area to get to the barn. The facility was very nice, but I didn't have much chance to take photos. I was met at the door by my instructor for the day, J. J is a guy who seemed to be in his early 20s. I think it's his parents who run the program. He started riding western himself but now competes in saddle seat. Him and his parents breed saddlebred horses. J led me to my lesson horse for the day and asked me a bit about my riding background. It was evident that he mostly teaches beginner lessons, so when he heard that I knew the basics, he went to take the rainbow reins off the lesson bridle and grab a different saddle.

The grounds of the saddle seat barn

Tacking up was interesting. It felt weird for me to not be tacking up myself and mostly just watching J do it. I was pleased to see where the saddle sat on the lesson mare's back. One of the negative things I had heard about saddle seat riding is that it puts the rider on the weak part of the horse's back, on the loins. When I see pictures of saddle seat riders it does look they are sitting really far back. However, the panels of the saddle still lie in the same location that the panels for a dressage or jumping saddle would, between the withers and the last rib. The difference is just in the top of the saddle, where the rider sits. The rider is sitting at the back of the saddle, but thankfully not on the loins.

The saddle seat saddle

The second part of the tack that was interesting was the reins. Apparently, in the saddle seat world, if you don't need coloured parts of the rein to know where to keep your hand, the next step up is double reins. Obviously that is very different from dressage where a double bridle doesn't get used until relatively high levels. Also, while I was given double reins, they weren't attached to a double bridle. Both reins were attached to the same ring of a snaffle bit, but the "curb rein" was threaded through a ring on a breast collar thing, which would give it some downwards leverage. I've never seen this type of set up before, but J made it sound commonplace. While I was riding, I had the lower set of reins a bit loose and never tried to engage it.

J corrected my position and made sure I was looking snobby before snapping the photo at the end of my lesson ;-P
You can also see the breastcollar/martingale thing that the "curb" reins went through

I had a 30 minute lesson. We just did walk and trot, some transitions and some circles. J focused much more on my equitation than the lesson mare's way of going. I appreciated that, because I wanted to get a feel for what a proper saddle seat position felt like, and I always feel bad getting after lesson horses for little things when I know I won't be riding them again. The mare I was riding was a typical lesson horse. She was quite happy to cruise around the arena at the speed you wanted, but she was a little dead to the aids when I tried to push her more into the corner, etc.

My saddlebred lesson horse

I'm not sure how to organize what I learned during the lesson so I'm just going to do a bunch of bullet points:

  • Riding in a saddle seat saddle feels like you're always behind the motion, to start anyways
  • My tendency to tip forward was made even worse in a saddle seat saddle because I felt like I had to lean forward to make up for my butt being so far back
  • Once I actually sat back, I found that yes, it is still possible to ride when you are far back and sitting straight up. This is valuable knowledge to bring back to my dressage saddle - sitting back really won't kill me so I should sit back! 
  • J kept telling me to make sure there was no air between my knee and the saddle, I think this is more obvious with the structure of a saddle seat saddle than a dressage saddle (no blocks), but I learned that I have a really hard time keeping my knee in and my heel down at the same time
  • In saddle seat, when they say "circle", they really mean "square".
  • In saddle seat, when you change direction you are supposed to pivot with your horse's head towards the wall. Technically this should be a turn on the haunches, but apparently even in high levels of competition, it doesn't really matter whether the front feet or the hind feet move, as long as it's a turn towards the wall. This was very strange to me. 
  • Saddle seat is all about showing off the horse's beauty and looking like a very snobby rich person (J's words, not mine)
  • The fact that I knew how to post and knew how to get off the horse by myself made me better than most of J's students (he obviously teaches a lot of beginners).
  • In saddle seat, it's good to make all your turns as square as possible.
  • Most trot is done posting.  

Not horse related, but I thought this was a cool looking tree

The whole experience was over a little too quickly. They are actually in the process of moving stables so the place was pretty quiet. I wish I could have seen some other people riding or experienced a bit more of the feel of the barn, but nothing I could do about that. There's still a whole lot I don't know about the saddle seat world, but what I saw were people who are riders and who care for their horses, it's done in a different saddle but it's not as different as I thought it might be. Overall, it was a fun and enlightening experience and I'm glad I did it!