Wednesday 17 October 2018

Thankfulness and Positivity

I have a clinic recap to come from this past weekend. It was the second clinic in a row that I came away from frustrated and dwelling on lines crossed, but in very different ways. I need to write about it because it is having an impact on me and my overall riding story. However, I don't want to dwell on negativity. Also, Canadian Thanksgiving was just over a week ago. In the spirit of thankfulness and positivity I want to put out a post today with 10 things I am grateful for.

I am grateful for how well deer coexist with humans in my town

Yep, that's how close this one was to my car

1. Kachina got a trim yesterday where we were able to get all four feet trimmed in 45 minutes without stressing out Kachina, the farrier or myself. This is a huge win considering Kachina's recent backslide in terms of foot handling. I completely changed my approach a few weeks ago and this showed that I am on the right path. Her feet are also looking much better this year compared to last year.

2. The weather has been spectacularly warm and beautiful this week. I thought our nice weather was over for the year and so this has been a pleasant surprise.

This was October 3rd, but today feels like summer again

3. I am dreading winter far less this year compared to past years. Boarding at a barn with heat, stalls, and good lighting makes the cold and dark so much less oppressive.

4. With the incoming winter weather, the barn has started to get busier in the evenings. That in addition to the weekly group jump lesson that I just started means that Kachina and I are less frequently alone and we are both enjoying that.

5. There are some perks to the new barn that I wasn't expecting, for example I don't have to haul Kachina for her fall dental work because my normal vet is scheduled to come out for a full day of dentals at my barn, all I had to do was add her to the list and then come out to hold her.

6. We had both my parents and my in-laws over to our house for Thanksgiving supper this year and I felt privileged to be able to host. Cooking and baking for a crowd gets more enjoyable and less stressful each time I do it.

I made a banoffee (banana toffee) trifle for dessert!

7. My husband has always wanted a hot tub and we recently got one. I wasn't sure how much I would like it but it's actually pretty awesome for warming up and relaxing after a long ride/evening at the barn.

8. Kachina has been taking to the jump work really well and it's a great change of pace. I think the cross training is good for Kachina but even better for me mentally.

Blurry screenshots

Look at her rocking back on her hind legs

9. There might not be as many options as I would like, but I am in a position where I can make some choices about who I do or do not want to ride with instructor-wise and I need to appreciate and utilize those choices.

10. The recent clinic did have some good components: I now have a walk to canter transition and a better trot to canter transition. I also have a better feel for when I am using my elbow or wrist in the contact which will hopefully help me to self correct and use my elbows more consistently.

11. The gross lateral trot and canter have not reappeared for a few rides even when upping the intensity. I hope we can keep them at bay permanently.

12. Two pairs of breeches recently died completely (after many years of use) - this might sound like a bad thing but I have forced myself not to buy breeches so many times because I had 4 workable pairs and as much as I wanted new ones I couldn't justify it. Now that I am down to 2 pairs I have a legitimate excuse to buy the nicer, more technical, prettier breeches that I have been lusting over. (Also pretty sure group lessons is also a good excuse to up my riding outfit game).

13. The colder weather has given me a reason to bust out the Dubarry boots I splurged on last spring, I <3 them.

14. My horse is sound, I am sound. I too often take this for granted. My heart goes out to all of those in blogland who are struggling with injuries or illnesses. 

Hey look, I made it past 10, life is pretty good!

Tuesday 16 October 2018

Jumping Video

As promised.. jumping media!

This video was taken on Kachina's second day ever jumping! And it was also the first day that we did more than one jump in a line. We had a couple biffed attempts but several nice ones as well and this one looks pretty good considering how green to jumping we both are!

Monday 1 October 2018

2018 Q3 Review & Q4 Goals

2018 Q3 Goal Review

1. Bring Kachina into Barn 5 Days/Week
Fail - I have other commitments in my life and I just have to admit that I cannot commit to being at the barn 5 days a week regularly. I did make sure to work with Kachina in the barn as much as possible though. 

2. Test Ride Every Two Weeks
Semi-success - I did this for the first half of Q3 but then show season was over so the priority was gone

3. Develop a Good Stretchy Trot
Semi-success - We worked on this and I improved it a bit but it's still not "good". On the bright side, I rode another horse with a great stretchy trot and now I understand what I am working towards. 

4. Commit to a Weekend of Stall Time for Kachina at home
Semi-success - I tried this but it wasn't very successful. New approaches are in progress. 

5. Go on Two Trail Rides
Semi-success - I did a nice trail ride in Cochrane during the show but the charity trail rides I had planned on in Battle River and the Cypress Hills didn't work for various reasons (work, sick husband, swollen ankle). Trail rides at the new barn haven't really happened because I haven't had people to ride with (I could do it on my own but not as much fun). 

6. Canter/Gallop in Fields
Fail - I don't even have a good excuse, I just didn't do this

7. Participate in Judge's Clinic 
Success - my one and only full success this quarter! I did this and it was super informative.

2018 Show Season Stretch Goals

All of these were stretch goals (because only so many show dates, and horses wreck plans), but something for me to aim for within Q2 or Q3 (show season is Apr-Sept)

1. Debut at First Level
Success! - I showed First Level at two shows. I didn't quite break 60% but a couple 58s and a couple 59s shows we are on the right track and now need to work on refining everything. 

2. Score Above 65%
Nope - This didn't happen, but I did score 64.4% at Training Level at a Bronze show and it was the highest score for the level so I'm not completely disappointed. 

3. Earn an ADA Wild Rose Award
This involves getting scores of 63% or higher at 3 different shows at Training Level or First Level.
Nope - We only went to three shows total and only got a qualifying score at one of them. Will have to try again next year!

2018 Q4 Goals

1. Keep Working with Kachina on Tension in the Barn
Consistency is important but there's no point continuing with a specific plan for a whole quarter if it isn't helping. I will commit to keep working on this but the exact approach and results may need continuous adjustment
Current plans
- Starting group lesson next week so Kachina learns that we can have company in barn
- Changing feed schedule of magnesium
- Modified headstall to focus on bridling
- Specific order of tasks in barn

2. Keep Working with Kachina on Foot Handling and Trimming
This is very interrelated with number 1, however it deserves extra focus. Some degree of pawing etc can be tolerated when I am saddling Kachina or grabbing a broom etc, but she simply must be able to deal with having her feet handled or it will create a hazard for herself, me and any farriers.

3. Experiment with other Disciplines
I have a lot of respect for well-rounded horses and riders and think cross training has many potential benefits. I feel like Kachina now has a solid enough base of dressage that we can do more branching out into other riding styles without confusing her too much. For this fall/winter I am taking lessons at my home barn so Kachina and I can learn the basics of tackling poles and small jumps. Hopefully that will lead to some fun new adventures next summer.

4. Make myself a Riding Road Map/Progression Plan to follow 
I used a Progression Plan from December 2016 to June 2017 and it helped keep me focused on what to work on during my rides. At that time I used it primarily because I didn't have a lot of access to lessons. Now, I do have more potential for lessons and clinics, from multiple people, but I'm at a point where I am not sure if I'm getting the value and direction I want from those lessons. It was good for me to take a leap of faith and fully try a trainer's approach for a while but now I want to re-take a more active role and be less of a passive student. I think having my own new Progression Plan in head will help me determine what I can work on myself and what I need help with so that I can better choose the type and frequency of lessons that will contribute positively to Kachina and I. 

5. Try Clicker Training Again
I tried clicker training previously with limited success. I am a big believer of positive reinforcement but Kachina isn't super food motivated so shaping behaviour by rewarding progressive attempts to volunteer the behaviour didn't get too far. Instead I have used food to reward Kachina for correct answers to traditional aids (e.g., I ask her to halt while leading, she gets a treat if she halts nicely). Being at the new barn gives me new options to set up clicker training scenarios though (like using a stall which I didn't have before) so I think it deserves another shot. I also want to make the reward praise plus treat instead of just treat because I have learned that Kachina values knowing she got the right answer more than just the food itself, and I may have missed that part on my first attempt.

6. Improve my own Fitness/Strength/Weight
My weight has crept up again over the summer and I want to get it back under control. I can be a more effective rider if I am in better physical shape. 

7. Have Fun
Progression and training is important but things will be a lot easier and more enjoyable all around if I make sure that barn time can be fun for me and fun for Kachina as much as possible. Hopefully group lessons, experimenting with jumping, and clicker training can all be fun. If they aren't fun then we will try other things that bring out joy in both of us.