Sunday, January 7, 2018

Baby Steps

You guys, I had a good ride on Emi today...the best one since our lesson at the beginning of December. I think (hope) our new game plan is working. I've been really working to praise her often and to provide treats when she does something really good. At the same time she's still getting in trouble for being negligent to my aids and I'm trying to be very aware of applying the aid and getting the appropriate response. I mentioned in my last post that walk/trot transitions have gotten better. That's still holding true and I'm actually feeling some anticipation from her, which has previously been non-existent. The trot itself has been a bit lack luster and the canter transitions have become rough again.

Sunrise this morning
I took Alli's suggestion of using the whip on her shoulder rather than her haunches and that seems promising. I'm slightly awkward with it when I'm using it there so I need to practice. Today she was sticky going in to the canter and I used the whip on her shoulder. She picked up the wrong lead so I brought her back and reorganized her. On her own she struck off onto the correct lead...again some positive tension that I haven't seen from her before (normally she would have just continued to trot with her ears back like she's annoyed). Her trot work was also quite a bit more forward today with very little effort on my part. These may be baby steps but I'll take them!

Side note: someone else mentioned having a horse who didn't like the girth they used. Although I think her girth itself is fine I'm going to experiment with tightening it one hole less. I did that today...not sure if it made the difference in our ride but I think if anything I'm inclined to over tighten a girth so it's worth a shot.
That face
Finally got her tail washed, conditioned and combed out. Yah!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Flailing and Failing

You all know that my biggest Emi struggle has been installing a solid forward button. My last big post regarding the issue was seeking help and I thought I'd follow up with our progress. To be honest, I haven't had a miracle break through. In some ways I feel like we are having success. The main area I have seen great improvement is that she is sharper off my leg in the walk/trot transitions.

In other ways I feel like I'm flailing around and not getting the desired pay off. She gets snarky/sullen if I get after her too much, so then my reprimands are basically working against me. I've been trying to sort through that. It's hard to know if she just needs one more good boot/whack etc. but I feel like that's not going to help and may actually end up causing her to shut down. So now I've been analyzing that response from her. She doesn't have any other thing that she gives me that kind of response for so it makes me feel like she may not totally understand the question or feels like I'm being unfair. She's not generally snotty, snarky, or "mareish" so the response I'm getting doesn't fit the horse I know.

The cutest little rascals
I'm discovering that slow and steady may actually be the best method for her. Not only do I ride a better but I seem to get a better response from her. I've taken a few steps back and am praising small efforts from her (and riding with treats). That's not to say she doesn't gets disciplined, but I'm trying to find another way to communicate with her that aren't quite so offensive.  I have to remind myself that Rome wasn't built in a day and this problem is not going to be solved overnight.

In the meantime, she's developed a slightly snotty nose and cough so our recent rides have been short. She's otherwise acting completely fine so I'm thankful for that.

First ride of 2018

Monday, January 1, 2018

2018 Goals

For the record, here are my 2018 goals with Emi.

  1. Most importantly, have fun with her. This includes regular trail riding and possibly starting her over fences.
  2. More progress at getting her consistently in front of my leg.
  3. Regular lessons - shooting for once per month.
  4. Compete at training level and possibly move to first level by the end of the season. 
  5. Compete at our first recognized show.
I'm happy with all of the progress we've made this past year and I'm excited to see what we can achieve in this coming year. Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Looking Back on 2017

2017 has been a pretty good year.

January brought about snow and some saddle time with Roz as he was living at NDF.

We moved to our new farm in February and had a good two day clinic with JW the same weekend as our move. 

Starting to look like a big kid
Riding Roz around the new place
Emi and I attended our first show of the year in March, showing Intro A & B, with a 66.56% and a 61.25%. Rozzy Ridge turned 25 and we took some fun pictures.

In April Emi and I competed at the Adult Team Show. The first day we showed Intro A & B with a 72.5% and a 63.438%. The second day we showed Intro B only and it was a bit of a disaster, scoring 53.438%. Since we had such a high scoring test the prior day we still managed to get Reserve Champion in our intro division and our team was champion of our division. All in all it was a good learning experience. Then we got to go to Rolex!!! Talk about a fun month. 

I also took one of my favorite photos of Roz
Such a good 3 year old pony

May: Emi was lunged once and ridden once by a friend, while I was at Rolex. I arrived home late Monday night (really it was early Tuesday morning). I rode Tuesday and Thursday, cleaned Emi up on Friday, and headed to the show first thing Saturday morning. We showed Intro A & B (are you sensing a theme?) with scores of 67.5% and 61.875%.

We also had another JW clinic and Emi was really starting to look like a dressage horse!

June was a crazy busy month for us. We met up with Michelle for a trip to Perrydale Trails, Emi moved home, my horse trailer got a new floor, we went to the beach, celebrated Emi's fourth birthday, and I scored some beautiful European stall fronts on craigslist. 

July was equally busy and actually pretty challenging. Emi and I had a clinic where we had some terrible trailer loading drama and she learned how to put her tongue over the bit. The weekend following that we headed to a horse show, despite me feeling completely uninterested. We showed Intro A & B with scores of 68.438% and 65.625%, earning a first and second place. Roz also earned himself a trip to the vet when he "colicked." They didn't actually find anything wrong with him and he was of course fine as soon as he arrived there. We also got our new outdoor arena completed!

Then August rolled around. Emi and I went trail riding at Silver Falls for the first time and had another clinic. It was clear something was wrong with Roz. Not only was I struggling to keep weight on him but he was laying down....a lot. Sadly it was determined that he had lymphoma and I made the decision to euthanize him. That was truly one of the hardest days of my life and I cried buckets. The following day was very bittersweet as I celebrated 5 years of being a cancer survivor. 

Following the sad loss of Roz, September was a month of adjustments. I blogged about Emi's response to being with out her horse friend. We made our first day trip up to see JW, went trail riding and went to the beach. 

We had lovely weather in October but challenging rides. I talked about Frustrating Four and Emi had her first training ride. I ran my first half marathon! We also went to our final show of the season, competing at Intro B and Training 1 (for the first time) and scoring a 66.56% and a 66.06%. 

November was one of our first low key months in a while. We hauled up to JW and went schooling on the Mountain Trail course. Emi was a rockstar!

And now we are wrapping the year up with the end of December. We played with jingle bells, had a clinic ride, and also a solo trail ride. Now the pony has a cough and snotty nose so I think we are going to be grounded for a bit. 

It's always so fun to scroll back through the year and see how you've grown. This was a big growth year for us. Thank you for following along and being part of our journey. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Hacking Out

One of the things I've been needing to do more of is trail riding. Not only to break up our work but also from a conditioning aspect. It can be difficult to round up a trail partner now that Emi is at home and I decided it's time to try riding her out solo. Saturday morning I loaded her up and made the 15 minute drive to the research forest near our house. Roz used to be boarded with in riding distance of these trails and I spent many hours in the forest with him (and my now senior dog, Annie).

When we arrived Emi unloaded quietly and ate her hay while I put bows in her mane.  Once she was dressed and ready I led her to the trail head and I hopped on. I pointed her down the trail and off she went. She marched along, ears up, enjoying the scenery. We trotted in the good spots on the trail and had a fabulous time together. She stopped to look at a few things along the way but was completely fine being out by herself.

Although losing Roz has been very sad it's also made for a lot of growth on Emi's part. She's becoming her own person (so to speak) and it has been fun to watch her. I definitely foresee more solo trail rides in her future.  There is a "between the ear's" videos on Emi's facebook page, if you are interested in riding along with us.

Roz - planted (born) in 1992
Had to get a photo of my new ride with the sign

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to you and yours! 

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.T oday in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:8-14

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

2017 Goals Recap

My goals for Emi this past year were not super ambitious but they didn't need to be. For a 3 year old turning 4 I think they were right on track. 

Goal #1 - Show at intro and transition to training level by the end of the summer (if not sooner). I think 3-4 shows would be perfect. 

We did show at intro at 4 shows and then attempted training level at our 5th show in October. Although I would have been happy to move up a little more quickly, I do believe it was the right decision to wait. She wasn't ready earlier on in the year. 

Goal #2 - Toying with the idea of doing the 4 year old test (if we go to a recognized show). Has anyone ever done this? I’m sure we won’t be competitive against her warmblood counter parts but how many years can we compete in the 4 year old tests? 

We didn't do a recognized show or the 4 year old test. 

Goal #3 - Continue to trail ride (at least once a month and hauling out as the weather improves).

I'm not sure if we made once a month but I think we were pretty close. We did get to the beach twice and hauled out twice this fall. I'm calling that a success.