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

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Questionable Baby Horse Things

 I continually horrify my mom when I tell her what Karma and I have done, and honestly with 99% of horses I would even dream doing these things. But I take little steps and have backup plans and bailout points if things don't go as planned.

1) Ride her for the first time without a ground person. This one was mostly due to a total lack of local friends. It's really hard to meet people when you move weeks before a global pandemic hits, and because I go into work regularly I try to reduce my risk elsewhere. I did have someone aware that I was getting on and asked her to keep an eye on us, but typically I would have had an actual ground person.

2) Test out bareback really early on. This was mostly due to laziness and the saddle fitting struggle (which still isn't done). Karma was totally fine, and if she hadn't of been I would have immediately bailed and ridden with a saddle.

The barn has a couple of dairy calves and they aren't quite as scary to Karma this year

3) Hack her out alone her first time out. This was again due to the total lack of local friends. I actually broke this into several days. To get to the field you have to walk past all the vehicles, trailers, equipment, and generally spooky things. Which the first day was noping out, so we spent a good 10-15 minutes just walking in circles progressively getting nearer to the scary things, without actually trying to go past them. The second time, she was still unsure, but wasn't flat out trying to say no, and then was perfectly fine once we got to the field.

4) Hack through the pig farm. I did hand walk her through it quite a bit. I am still bribing her with carrots, she still gets a bit nervous, and I still only try to go through it when it is the shortest distance to home to set her up for success. Honestly I don't blame her not liking it. It is smelly and noisy.

5) Hack out bareback. This was a recent development but really she has been out in the field enough that I wasn't expecting her to be any different than normal and she wasn't.

6) Carrying on after long breaks. I really really really appreciate this quality. I am so glad I don't have to think and consider how long it has been since I last rode her, because most of the time I don't have a clue.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Snow Rides

 I managed to sneak in a couple of snow rides before it decided to warm up, rain, and become and icy muddy mess. The first one Karma wasn't terribly pleased about because the snow was about 18" and I wouldn't let her trot everywhere. But it was very nice to get out and do something even if I did try to fall off at one point.

The other one was a nice little bareback hack. Once again someone has changed enough that I need a new headplate for the saddle. On the plus side I think I might have flaps that I can tolerate until I can swap them out for the ones on Stinker's saddle.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Managing Expectations

When I picked Karma out, I utilized Aimee's ruthlessly exclude (part 1 and part 2) and it has served me VERY well. I honestly can't even imagine what the last year would have looked like with a different horse. I have a three year old that I can give weeks off at a time, and we pick right back up where we left off. I don't have to worry about lunging or balancing my mental energy. Karma is just Karma.

The first 3/4 of February had snow basically everyday and I was over it

That being said I have to be very careful not to fall into the trap of expecting her to be perfect all the time. And honestly, I kind of hate it when people put the expectation of perfection on their horses. In my mind no horse is perfect, they all have their moments and off days and the expectation of perfection leads to dissatisfaction in the relationship.

She wasn't too thrilled with walking through 18+ inches

So while I am enjoying my fabulous baby horse, I also remind myself that I am incredibly lucky and I really shouldn't be put out if she wants to stop and stare at the giant pile of snow for a minute before she proceeds.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Feed XL Review

I am cleaning out my draft folder because its snowy and gross outside. Back in 2019, I impulsively bought a subscription when they were having a 50% off sale because I could analyze all three horses for $37.50. And honestly I wasn't terribly impressed for a few reasons.

Our hay supplier tests they hay and when you go to buy the hay you can see the analysis results. I was super excited, but I couldn't figure out a way to enter the information by hand. Everything I found required a specific file format, which I did have. Without the hay testing I wasn't too sure how accurate the information was.

All three of the horses have a higher than recommended crude protein intake and their recommendation is feed less forage. Which honestly I am not really worried about that, because I haven't seen any issue from that.

Where I run into a problem is with Cowboy. He is low in the digestible energy category in addition to being too high in the protein category and for the life of me I can't figure out how to bump up the digestible energy without out a) feed a ton of pelleted feed and b) making the program angry about him being way way way over the protein requirement.

My biggest complaint is one place it tells me to feed more hay and the other place it tells me to feed less, which doesn't actually help to balance the feeding program. I think the low digestible energy is the reason he is a bit thiner than I would like which I was happy to learn because I was struggling to figure out why the other two are looking a bit porky and Cowboy was looking a bit thin. (Turns out the actual problem was someone *Stinker* was hovering more hay than I realized. And Cowboy is holding weight better now that they are kept separate.)

Despite my dislike for lack of assistance balancing Cowboy's diet, I did think the subscription was an interesting experiment. I am just a bit bummed that it wasn't a bit more helpful on the balancing part and looks at the components individually instead of as a whole. I would have appreciated it more if it said look for X, Y, and Z in a feed in order to bring up the fat content without increasing the protein. And maybe if I was better educated in nutrition it wouldn't be an issue.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Winter Doldrums

 Winter is kicking my butt. The lack of sunshine sucks the motivation right out of me. Plus it warmed up just enough to turn things into an icy mess. But we got some fresh snow and I checked the ring and couldn’t find any slick spots so I finally got some video for my saddle fitter.

The saddle is 98% there (we’ve decided I’m stealing the flaps off my old saddle to put them on my new one and giving my mom some other flaps for that saddle since she’s smaller and easier to fit out of the used inventory). The other little thing is the left right balance doesn’t feel quite right but I don’t know if it’s me or the saddle so I really wanted to get video for the fitter to see if she had thoughts.

It was cold and windy but Karma was a very good girl. Including when I ditched my long jacket and it flapped in her face because the wind caught it when I was taking it off. Not only that but I also asked her to canter for the first time.

She has offered me a canter a couple times in the field, but I hadn’t ever asked for it. The ring is tiny so I let her make the decision about cantering through the corner, but she is feeling more balanced and stronger despite the minimal rides.

My riding frustrates me but I’m only occasionally riding a green horse, I essentially didn’t ride the first half of last year and losing access to the gym at work has resulted in my fitness suffering. Not to mention the total lack of lessons. I keep reminding myself she is only 3.5 and we have lots of time to get back to it. Hopefully by the end of this year we will be more settled and can get into a more consistent rhythm.