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. 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Lesson Video

Here's the promised lesson video from last week.

And for a fun comparison, watch a few minutes of her this same time last year. We are making progress...even when it feels slow!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Winter Blues

Well...I think I'm getting the winter blues, and it's not even winter yet. On top of that, we've actually had super nice weather the past few weeks. I think the combination of short days and a wild pony are the real problem. Emi has needed the lunge line more in the past two weeks than she had in the 10 months prior. Our neighbors pigs are running around the field next to the arena (they busted out of their actual pig pen) and they are super friendly so they like to come running. Then earlier this week the others neighbors cows were just too fascinating as they ran and played. Not that any of those things would have bothered Emi over the summer but they are sure a good excuse now! I should have ridden today, but after a less than stellar ride yesterday I opted to take the day off. Hopefully we will have a good ride on Tuesday. Bring on spring!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Lesson Recap

Emi and I hauled out to a JW clinic on Saturday, hoping to redeem ourselves after our last lesson. When my lesson started I updated JW on what I had been up to since our last lesson (about 2 weeks ago). I told her about my discouragement regarding the forward issue but that I had re-committed myself to dealing with it. We had some discussion regarding trade offs. Emi is up for all kinds of adventures and is not likely to unload me (which is nice)....but it also means she missing some fire. JW said Cardi would rather be on the couch with a beer than doing dressage. Haha. We talked about the normal things such as making sure tack fits, she's comfortable in her body, she's fit, etc. We both agree that all of those things are good.

As we talked Emi and I walked around the arena. Towards the end of our conversation JW commented that she hadn't seen me nagging with my leg at all. That made me smile as I've really been working on being aware of those sort of things and have been very purposeful on using my leg less.

We schooled several things that were more about Emi's reaction off the leg than the movement itself. Things like leg yields, trot/almost halt/trot, forehand turns etc. Her canter has improved in a big way over the past couple of months and we motored right around the arena. I'm starting to feel like I can sit up there and subtly pilot her around. It's so fun! I had my ride video taped so I'll share some of that with you when I receive it.

I left our lesson feeling so encouraged. JW assured me that Emi is right on track and she was quite impressed with our improvement since our last lesson. Our next lesson is about a month away so we'll keep chipping away at it in the mean time. 

All photos courtesy of Emi's breeder, Cindy Miller. 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Day 2 of a Forward Pony

Day two of our forward pony project brought good success. She wasn't as surprised by the spurs this time around but seems to be believing me (more than she used to) when I put my leg on. I still feel like she wants to stall out a bit at the trot and it's a little harder for me to re-test that as opposed to in transitions, which are very clear if she's going or not.

We got some fun video tonight as a group of my friends did a "jingle bell challenge" last year. I had bought this strand of big jingle bells and used them when playing with Emi. We then shared the jingle bells around, with each of us taking video of our horse wearing them/being lunged in them. This was last year's post. I'm pretty sure I attempted to ride in them last year but Emi was quite tight and nervous so I took them off.

This time around she was super chill. I didn't do any prep work before hand. I rode her for a while before picking them up off the fence, tying them around her neck and going back to work. It's hard to really appreciate in the video but the bells are quite loud.

Check out those canter transitions. She's finally starting to look like a training level horse. Woohoo! 

Your turn. Round up your own set of jingle bells and join in the pony torture fun!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Day 1 of Operation Pony Must Go Forward

Thank you all for your comments and suggestions on my last post. I was feeling down after my last lesson...and it wasn't a bad lesson. I had three specific things I wanted to work on. 1) the connection, particularly tracking left 2) the right lead canter 3) the stretchy trot. 

We addressed the connection with an exercise where we trotted down the rail, leg yielded a couple steps (emphasis on a couple) then halted, going immediately to a turn on the forehand off the leg we were yielding from. Back to trot, down the rail, leg yield a few steps off the rail, halt, forehand turn. It was a great exercise in moving the horse off of your leg and it made a big difference in the connection after only a few times through. JW is the queen of excellent exercises! 

The stretchy trot is one of those moves that I've never been good at and up until fairly recently Emi and I didn't work on it at all. Then JW asked how it was (maybe mid summer), to which I told her I was bad at stretchy trot and didn't do it. She thought that was a little silly since it makes perfect sense not to practice something you are bad at, right!? Haha. In my defense, I didn't want to be practicing it poorly. Since that time Emi and I have been doing a little bit of it but I feel like she just falls on her face and then jogs around. JW confirmed that we were just doing a "party trick" and I was losing the connection. We went to work letting her stretch down slowly, while maintaining the connection. It improved as we worked and I think I'm getting a better understanding. 

For the right lead canter I needed to push her through a bit more, getting her to stretch over her topline. This was also successful although there's more work to be done. 

Of course, as I mentioned in my previous post, the lack of forward did come up. JW told me that I'm working too hard and not following through enough when I get on to her, making the correction less effective. Also, getting after her disrupts our work as I generally have to spank her pretty good and then she bucks and it throws everything off. That's when I turned to all of you for help and have been thinking a lot about how to handle this. 

It was very encouraging to hear from several of you with lazy horses, that you've been able to make real progress with the problem and that you do have to be hard nosed about it. I thought a lot about my rides and about how JW rode Emi. I think I allow Emi to stall out too much and I lose the "combustion" that I need.  I purchased the Jane Savoie book mentioned by L. Williams and read the part on going forward (that's as far as I've gotten). One of the things she mentioned was that if your horse bucks when you use the whip, try kicking instead. JW and I had already discussed trying small spurs with Emi so kicking would fit right in with that. 

I didn't ride on Thursday so today was our first ride since our lesson. I tacked Emi up and off we went. I could tell she was sassy even as I was getting her ready. I asked her to back up and she was shaking her head (while doing it). A few sassy head shakes later I figured I was in for a spicy pony, which is rare. I wasn't sure today was going to be the best day to poke the bear but there's no time like the present. Before getting on I walked her a lap around the arena (as normal) and she decided to "spook" at the neighbors goats, which she is totally not scared of. She leapt into the air, landed on my foot, jumped to the other direction and proceeded to do 3 huge bucks, basically in place. Alrighty then...I'm going back to the barn for the lunge line. 

I limped walked back to the barn with the sassy one in tow. Once we had our gear and I put her on the lunge line she let loose. Bucking and bucking and bucking. I finally took her saddle off thinking that maybe it was hurting her? Nope, more bucking. It's as if she's heard me complaining about her lazy pony ways. "I'll show her lazy." 

Video of her lunging (on Instagram) was near the end of our session
I finally felt like some of the sass was worked out of the stinker pony so I re-saddled her and hopped on. Since I knew she was thoroughly warmed up I didn't waste too much time walking around. I put my leg on and per usual, no real response. A big kick and Emi cantered off. Wash, rinse, repeat. Multiple times. I made her really canter forward before bringing her back to whatever I wanted and asking again. She bucked once or twice but was definitely better with a big kick (aided by the spurs) and I didn't use the whip much at all. We did lots of transitions and I didn't worry about much beyond you.are.going.forward when I ask. After a few "tests" with an appropriate response I halted her, gave her a cookie, and hopped off. The pony was huffing and puffing and all of the wind was out of her sails. Silly girl. I'm looking forward to seeing how she goes for me tomorrow. I think we are on the right track. Woohoo!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


Emi and I had a lesson today and one consistent thing I struggle with is getting her forward. I tend to settle for "good enough" which won't be good enough for long.  I've owned mostly thoroughbred type horses before Emi so I don't feel like I'm very good at riding a lazy horse anyway. And before anyone asks, she is current on dental care, has been seen by my vet for chiropractic work and acupuncture (sore lower back which is resolved), and has her saddle fit checked/adjusted regularly. I don't believe there's any physical problem with her, I just don't know how to motivate her and I hate having to whack on her. So...what are your best lazy horse tips?

Sunday, November 26, 2017


Horses are not for the faint of heart...especially baby horses.

You start with this cute little squirt and quickly realize there is a lot they need to learn. Blank slates are lovely in many ways but they can also be a bit daunting. There are have been three moments where I've felt like I've ruined Emi.

The first one was probably the worst and it was clipping. Clipping and loading were two things that were really important to me. We introduced the clippers when she was just a month or two old and everything went pretty well. When I got her home and tried to do some clipping, it was a no go. I worked on it for hours. Night after night, clippers on, clippers off, rub them on her, lots of cookies. The whole works. She finally accepted them on her muzzle but her bridle path was not happening. I had her first show coming up and wanted her to have a bridle path so we opted to drug her to get it done. Wouldn't you know the moment we turned those clippers on and put them up to her head she was wide awake. We ended up double teaming her and using a lip chain to get the job done. It was a traumatic experience for all parties involved. One other time she was sedated for something else and my vet wrestled her with me. We finally figured out that a twitch and my dad holding her (backed into a corner) allowed us to do it. We finally graduated from that to me being able to do her by myself (with the twitch) and tonight I clipped her bridle path for the first time with out a twitch. The baby is growing up!

The other two moments have both been recent. One was the trailer loading saga, and the other was Emi starting a habit of getting her tongue over the bit (all in the same weekend). Thankfully both of those issues have resolved. It's amazing how high emotions can ride in a bad moment and how defeating it feels. When you look back it all sounds pretty simple (except maybe the clipping issue) but what a terrible feeling horse issues can leave you with. I know we will face more challenges along the way but I'm thankful to have the above issues resolved. For anyone in the middle of struggles, there are better days ahead!

Thursday, November 23, 2017


Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. Today I'm most thankful to be healthy. You always hear people say that if you have your health you have all that you need. Having been "unhealthy" before I have to say it's really true. The second thing I'm thankful for is the partnership that I'm developing with Emi. She makes me smile.