Tuesday, July 20, 2021

I'm In Love

One of my biggest frustrations has been my inability to take lessons. Last year it was only mildly frustrating because Karma was just getting started and most people weren't really doing outside lessons anyway. This year Karma is to the point where I am creating problems and I know my riding is slipping. I tried taking some lessons at a hunter barn, but the just weren't working for a variety of reasons.

I am recycling old images because I am terrible at remembering media

So, after much pondering and getting my ducks in a row. I FINALLY got a virtual lesson scheduled with Trainer J. I do appreciate the Pivo and the fact that the pandemic has increased the popularity of virtual lessons, because otherwise I would still be floundering.

I had never ridden with J, but I had met her in person and I had briefly seen her teaching style and I was pretty sure that my brain would click with her instruction. But you never truly know until you try it. We chatted for a few minutes so she could get a better feel for where I am at and where Karma is at and what we are hoping to achieve.

We started trotting a few circles and I have been feeling inconsistencies that I have been chalking up to green horse, balance issues, contact issues, and out of shape rider. Trainer J immediately identified that Karma was stepping short and stabbing behind. So I hopped off, pulled the saddle, checked along her spine for any soreness. Then we methodically started testing things for the cause. There was a tiny bit of soreness at the end of the panels (which are out of balance and my new ones arrive tomorrow).

J asked if I had a lunge, I was worried I would lose audio if I ran up to my car to grab it so I went with the short answer of no, but I can make one. And proceeded to use a combo of the lead rope and reins to make myself a lunge #keepingitclassyfortheGPtrainer. Thankfully Karma trotted lovely both directions which pretty much ruled out stifles and SI (thank god. I would cry if I had another young horse prone to SI issues).

When I put the saddle back on, she was a tiny bit short traveling to the left. Then J started looking at her butt and sure enough the left side isn't quite as developed as the right. The conclusion we both felt comfortable with is that Karma needs some body work, but in the mean time I can work on balancing her out and keep forcing her to push with that left hind.

By thinking haunches to the left and alternating diagonals we able to get her trotting much more consistently by the end. It felt so good to have a lesson again. And as an added bonus I got to hear someone else say how darling Karma is.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Karma's Very Bad Day

 Poor Karma had a very bad day awhile ago. I have been getting her out more for longer walks to help her start building a bit of fitness. She has been doing really well handing traffic, motorcycles, mailboxes, screaming children, screaming children on motorized vehicles. But we managed to find her one true fear.

We were probably about 30 minutes from home and there is a place that looks like a junk yard. It started with her stopping to stare. I asked her to move on and she got a bit balky. Sadly this attracted the attention of some very scary dairy calves. They are at the terribly curious age, so when we caught their eye, they raced up to the fence line.

I quickly discovered her fear of cows is very much still there despite being ok with the cows around the barn. I am honestly not entirely sure what all happened, but there was spinning, jumping, trying to fall down when we went off the road into the drainage ditch, and a small rear. Thankfully, I was still firmly in the saddle, but I did decide I really didn't want to be there.  I got her paused enough for me to hop off and she immediately tried to bolt for home. 

I pulled her up and she then tried the other direction. When that didn't work either she did her best saddlebred impression. I decided that there was not going to be any learning in the moment and our best option was to continue on down the road and wait for the brain to turn back on. Needless to say a couple of minutes later she was walking like nothing happened.

I wasn't feeling ballsy so I waited to get back on until after we turned around and walked back past the calves. Walking back she was much better event hough I made her pause and waited until they came wandering back up to the fence line. I am hopeful that a few more trips and some positive reinforcement will help her to learn that calves will not murder her.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

June Things

 I had these grand plans about blogs to write because I actually did things. But I haven't gotten around to actually doing it. And I can't even do the tease of just dumping photos because I uhhhh didn't take pictures.

First up, over the long weekend at the end of May I drove to Leah's and stole Cinna for a couple of trail rides. It was a fabulous time and I only horrified her husband a few times. Like when I calmly told him I only fell off five times. I didn't but he had been very worried about me riding Cinna and I couldn't resist the chance to tease in the moment.

Another weekend Jen was showing and I drove over and got to meet Connor. I had a very enjoyable afternoon hanging with them. I think I redeemed my lack of pictures by taking video for her.

I've been riding Karma on a more regular schedule the last couple of weeks. It is a toss up on who hates the heat and humidity more. Most of our rides are pretty short, but I have been trying to get her out for longer walks to help build up some baseline fitness. I miss my trails so much on those days.

Thursday, May 27, 2021


 I mentioned before that I was struggling getting Karma to utilize her hind and stretch to the contact. I decided to try her in the bands to see if that would encourage her to figure out what I was looking for. Going to the right she picked it up really quickly. Going to the left it was a different story.

I was really wishing I knew of a body work person I could have out, because she tends to twist and do weird things and it is probably stems from a restriction somewhere. Without having that, I figured the next best thing would be to encourage even the slightest hint of a stretch.

Will do anything for a carrot

With the assistance of carrots, it only took a couple of sessions for her to figure out what I wanted her to do and once I got it on the ground she immediately took to it under the saddle. Of course that immediately showed me I need to maintain better core tone because she has a lot more push from behind now. I still haven't taken more video, but she feels so much better under saddle. I am hopeful the feeling will be reflected in the video once I get around to taking it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Road Wanderings

 The one day I was driving to the barn from a different direction than I normally come. I thought I knew where I was, but I wasn't on the road I thought I was on and missed the turn I should have taken. I realized I didn't know where I was and popped the address into the GPS. It ended up taking me down a dirt road which kicked me out not too far from the barn.

So obviously I decided to drag Karma on an adventure and road her down the dirt road. I walked her down the 55 mph paved section because I do have enough self preservation to make a few good decisions. She was pretty nervous to start and it wasn't helped by the fact she immediately had to cross a bridge, which was deeply suspicious.

Despite the sticky start and many many nervous poops by the time I wanted to turn around she had settled into a nice marching walk. On the way back she was relaxing more and gaining some confidence. She can be spooky, but as I build up her confidence I am seeing less and less of that behavior. It was a much needed outing for my sanity, because I miss my trails so much.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Plans (ish)

 Without having trail rides to go on, I have basically zero pictures to use and what is a blog without pictures. But now that I have a saddle again and the ring is no longer a skating rink maybe I will get decent video from the pivo and then I will have media again, until then I guess I will keep using the same three pictures.

One thing I realized once I got the saddle sorted is I am having trouble accessing Karma's hind legs. I can get them in the walk but as soon as I ask her to trot we lose all push behind. She is also very prone to bracing her left shoulder (probably because someone has their right seat bone digging in). So I have come up with a plan to address these problems.

Here is another of her favorite moves of weird twisting

One, I am going back to ground to work to let her figure out using her butt to push and come through vs retracting, inverting, and running around like a cart horse. Once she figures out that is what I want from her, I should be able to find it under saddle. I am using verbal cues plus food rewards and so far everything else has translated well from the ground to the saddle.

Cherry picked screenshot where Karma is cute and I am showing all my bad habits

Two, I am going to work at the walk and get the shoulders more maneuverable and start putting on baby lateral work so she gets used to letting me influence all body parts. She naturally moves well but adjusting to a rider is taking her a bit to figure out the moving parts. Which isn't helped because my riding is rather sloppy at the moment.

Three, I am getting back into lessons. Hopefully I will be able to get myself into some remote lessons or dressage lessons, but for right now I am going back to the hunter barn. She will at least yell at me for some of my bad habits.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Finally Fitted

 I finally have a saddle that fits both of us!!! It is quite boring. Plain black no bling or fun colors, tiny velcro blocks. But it fits! Next up is finding some jump flaps because I think it would be fun to mix things up and jump baby things and maybe try out hunting since there is a local club.

Awkward photo because I am terrible at photos and she was over me