Sunday, June 30, 2013

We Came We Saw...

and we totally conquered!!
The kids helping me get ready for stadium
There are so many ups and downs with horses. It is easy to get hung up on the lows but that is why it is important to celebrate the highs and this weekend was a definite high for Loki and me.
The kids were monkeys on the trailer and Loki was Mr. Stoic
Let's start with a 30.4 in dressage!!! Okay the judge was generous to the extreme but I still couldn't have been more pleased. Loki was so much more relaxed than he has ever been. I think it helped that I stuck to my plan. We got to the show and the first thing I did was put his bridle on and took him for a walk, working on getting him to listen to me, stay at my shoulder, etc. We followed that with a quick lunge session with side reins. Again, not about being crazy or letting off steam so much as getting him to listen to me even with all the distraction. He was really good.

So anyways, back to the show. The 30.4 put us in 4th place. First place had a score of 18 something and second had a score of 19 something, sheesh! I didn't even know my score going into jumping, though so there was no pressure. Loki got 7s and 8s on all of his trot work and an 8 on his free walk. He got 5s on his canter work. We really, really need to work on the canter. But still, couldn't have been more pleased.

One thing I didn't mention before was this show happened to be located at the same place where we had brake failure earlier. So I was super nervous, and that is probably an understatement. But I tried to keep our warm-up as similar to what we do at home as possible. He was certainly more "up" than he would have been at home but we managed to contain ourselves. :) Honestly as soon as we finished our first canter in warm-up with no braking issues I considered the entire day a success, so talk about no pressure for the actual showing!

Jumping was also amazing. We still have plenty of work to do but it was by far the best round we've had. (Not that we've had many.) No rushing to the fences for the most part and only one fence where we got a bad spot. But, we kept all the fences up! I'm not sure what our final placing was b/c we had to rush out of there but I'm hoping my trainer knows and has a ribbon for me when I get back to the barn tomorrow. I know we got at least 4th place which is amazing in and of itself!

Overall a really great experience. Jay was able to get pictures of our jump round (thanks Babe!!). There are some things that I want to fix (of course!) but when I look at these pictures compared to older pictures of me I am so excited. I can honestly see a huge improvement in my form. I just hope that I can continue to improve!

Oh, and just one more quick note. These fences were so tiny!! As soon as we get our canter fixed we will definitely be moving up to Novice. It's so hard to believe how far I've come. I remember getting so nervous at this height just two years ago and now it's almost boring! I don't want to move up until the canter is squared away, though, and I don't know how long that will take. I need to come up with a game plan.  Anyways, here are the pictures:
Pretty pleased with both of our forms here.
I love this picture. I just wish Loki's head hadn't got cut off but I am so pleased with my form.
Sorry for the butt shot! But, I had to include it b/c I'm so happy with where I am in the saddle. :)
This was the last fence. A little too forward here and my reins were even longer than when we started but still happy!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Lots of Adjectives Ahead

Quick note before I start: A BIG, HUGE, GINORMOUS THANK YOU!! to my amazing, wonderful husband. He has gone above and beyond this week in husband and father duties. I seriously would marry him all over again! :D

This is going to be short because I'm on my way to bed. I have to get up early for another schooling, combined test tomorrow!
The shexy beast is looking shexy!

This week has flown and it has been so productive. The day after our wonderful, relaxing trail ride Loki and I had a fantabulous! jump lesson. Oh man, I am so excited! Were we perfect? no! But I went into the lesson with one goal and that was to stay relaxed and easy (hello! Keep It Low Key here!!) and we made that goal 110%. We started off with just a pole on the ground and worked our way up to around 2'6"-2'9". Our jumps are old and the height markings have all worn away so the height is an estimate.

One of the best things about the lesson aside from being able to maintain our relaxed, low-key selves was the fact that the actual jumping is absolutely not an issue for either Loki or me anymore. At this height, at least, I am no longer getting the "I might be about to die" nerves that I used to get before any jump over 2'. I really think the jumping with no stirrups and no reins in Japan helped me there and I think Lori working with Loki for those two months has made a huge difference for him too.
Why hello Rio!

Thursday we just did more ground work and lung-lining. I introduced the canter on the lunge. (Not that he hasn't cantered on a lunge-line before it's just been a while so I guess I should say I re-introduced the canter.) The whoa and all of the voice commands are getting so much better and I am getting much faster responses. The canter is a bit unbalanced especially to the right so I think we will continue working on that. If he is unbalanced on the lunge-line without a rider it is no wonder he is having a hard time balancing with a rider.

Today I jumped again and we had another great go. I was mostly on my own this time but I was still able to maintain our easy going attitude. Loki did rush a couple of times but instead of tightening up and freaking out about it I was able to just use my voice to calm him back down do a few trot circles and then re-present and voila a nice, easy, in rhythm jump.

We are still working on finding our spots consistently. I still have to remind myself not to lean at the jump which mostly happens when I grip with my knees. So sit up tall and don't pinch with my knees for me. I also have to make sure that I am getting what I ask for from Loki and not accepting anything less. He's the kind of horse that will take the mile if you give him an inch so when I ask him to maintain his rhythm I really need to take the time and make sure that I get it before we move onto something else.

I have no idea how the show will go tomorrow. I have a plan. We are going pretty early and I plan on doing some ground work at the show to start with and if I can find a good place for it doing some lunging as well. Basically, just trying to keep everything as "normal" as possible is my goal. I also have a back-up plan. If for some reason one or both of us looses our minds I will have my trainer catch-ride him just so he gets the experience.

So that is where we are for now. I guess that was longer than I thought but I do type pretty fast, ha!

I hope everyone has a fun, horse-filled weekend!
Seriously love this face!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What We've Been Up To

Well it's been over a week since our little escapade while XC schooling last Monday. So what have we been doing? Lots! I decided that we needed a serious review of our ground manners and ground work for starters. That has been going great so far. He started off not wanting to trot in-hand and not wanting to back up and we've got those two issues mainly sorted out. We've also been working on turning on the forehand. That is coming along a little slower. By Thursday of last week he was walking all over the property and paying attention mostly to me, stopping when I stopped, backing when I asked, etc. I had forgotten how important doing these little things are in developing a relationship with a horse. I think I would love to do some showmanship classes with him someday.

We've also been doing some lunging. This isn't the "just run him around until he's tired" lunging. (I want to save that for show emergencies!) In fact we have yet to get to cantering on the lunge. We're just mainly focusing on voice commands and keeping a nice steady and most importantly relaxed pace. The biggest issue, not-surprisingly has been the halt and whoa commands. He's getting them but it still takes him a few extra seconds to respond.

Beyond that we've also been riding. The focus for that has been the same as everything else which is to just have a nice and relaxed ride. Of course it is impossible to regenerate the exact same circumstances that caused the issue in the first place but I have taken him out to the big front field several times and we've done some cantering and small hand-gallops without any issues.

And finally I was able to take him trail riding today. He was PERFECT! Honestly, if we wash out as eventers Loki has it made as a trail horse, except maybe for his height, lol! I had to do a lot of ducking as the trails were getting a bit overgrown. But still I couldn't have asked for a calmer more relaxed horse. I even had him canter some and he was perfect. I think at least half of this stems from the fact that my background is in trail riding so I am super confident on the trails and therefor very relaxed. I need to figure out how to recreate that feeling for when we go XC schooling or anytime we ride in big, open spaces.

I'm even thinking about taking Loki on a small Competitive Trail Ride in a month and a half. It's a local one that I used to mark trails for so I'm very familiar with it and I know he would be easy enough to get in shape to do it. I just need to find someone to ride with me I think. But we'll see.

Horses: we're up and we're down, lol! luckily the ups generally seem to outnumber the downs.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

You Say It's Your Birthday

... It's my birthday too, yeah!

Okay, I don't know if anyone else is old enough to remember that song or Showbiz Pizza but I still remember going there when I was a kid. (It used to be a competitor to Chuck E. Cheese back in the day.) Although maybe they still sing that at Chuck E. Cheese these days? I don't know...

Anyways, my birthday was on Wednesday and my husband got me a pretty cool gift. Check it out:

So I've never had vanity plates before. I think mine are pretty fun and cool but I do feel slightly embarrassed. They are called vanity plates after all. Does this make me totally vane?

The front (notice my homage to Firefly as well ;))
I also received an eventing stop watch from my M.I.L. But the biggest thing is yet to come and that will be my new saddle if and when I ever find it. I have two leads right now but nothing solid.

I am feeling ultra blessed right now. I am so thankful for God my savior, my husband and my kids and all my family and my friends here, there and everywhere. With so much stuff it is super easy to forget what is important in life. I hope I never forget!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Thank YOU! and an Award!

I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who commented on my last post. I appreciate all the encouraging words! Loki and I are doing fine. We've actually gotten a lot accomplished the past couple of days and I will hopefully post an update sooner rather than later.

Also a big thank you to Karley from All In and Kalin from Cash's Steppin' Up for nominating me for a Liebster award. I'm sorry it has taken me a while to get to it. Because I am so slow every single blog I follow (that is under 200 followers) has already been nominated! Because of that and the fact that I am about to fall asleep as I try to finish this I'm going to just say I read every blog listed on the right of this screen and would nominate any of them. (Sorry to be lazy!!!) Also, I apologize in advance for the messed up formatting below. I am just too darn tired to fix it right now!

HOW TO ACCEPT THE AWARD: The Liebster Blog Award is a way to recognize blogs who have less than 200 followers.  Liebster is a German word that means beloved and valued.  Here are the rules for accepting the award:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and include a link back to their blog.
  2. List 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions given to you.
  4. Create 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate.
  5. Choose 11 bloggers with 200 or fewer followers to nominate and include links to their blogs.
  6. Go to each blogger's page and let them know you have nominated them.
 11 random facts about me:
  1. My husband and I will celebrate our 16 year wedding anniversary this August. 
  2. I got my first horse when he was 2 and he is still around and now 24.
  3. My sister is now a published author and I am her biggest fan.
  4. I spent two years in the military learning how to speak and read Arabic
  5. I have a BA in Social Studies Education that I have sadly never used. (It's hard to be a teacher when you move every 2 or 3 years!)
  6. I am a jeans and t-shirt/sweatshirt kinda girl. 
  7. I loved old western reruns when I was a kid and The Big Valley was my very favorite. 
  8. I also love science fiction and watched the original Star Trek reruns with my dad as well as every other Star Trek series when they were released. I have the entire Voyager series on DVD.
  9. It should therefor come as no surprise that my very favorite t.v. show of all time is Firefly.
  10. I love to Ski but only learned a couple of years ago so I'm not very good, yet. 
  11. The only states I have never visited are Alaska, North Dakota, Louisiana, Maine and Rhode Island. 

11 Questions from Karley

  1. What would your ideal last meal be?       Chipotle followed by lots of sugar in many forms.
  2.  Ideal riding outfit?         I am loving my new Ariat Volant boots! Otherwise anything that is comfortable and cool in the summer and warm in the winter.  
  3. If you could go anywhere, all expenses paid- where would you go?        This is a tough one. There are so many places I would love to go. Anywhere in Europe but I'd also love to see Jordan and the Pyramids in Egypt. But, I guess if I had to choose just one it would be to ride from Chateau to Chateau in the Loire Valley. (Sorry I don't have the link handy but it has been in my bucket list for a long time.)  
  4. What are your top 3 musts for a boarding facility?          Quality and flexible care, good turn-out and laid back atmosphere.  
  5. What one beverage can't you live without?          Water, seriously! 
  6. Dream car?          Anything big enough to pull a trailer, ideally my Expedition or a Ford F250.
  7. Where do you want to go with your riding?           Improve, improve, improve. I'd love to at least make it to Preliminary in eventing someday but we will see. The important thing is just that my riding and horsemanship continually improves.  
  8. Where do you shop the most for real clothes?           Hmmmm, I haven't really shopped for "real" clothes in a "real" store for two years. I am NOT a fashionista so really anything that is reasonably priced and looks decent. I have shopped at Kohls often.  
  9. What do you do to calm your nerves at horse shows?          When I feel my anxiety spiraling I try chant positive words, such as Calm, Cool, Collected or Be a S.T.A.R. (sit tall and release!).  
  10. Favorite bathing products?          I love the Vetrolin products.  
  11. If you could pick 2 horses off which would they be?               I didn't get a chance to really look through the site much but this little guy caught my eye and I really like the German Riding Ponies: and this one caught my eye as well. (I'm short so I could totally be cool with a 14.1 pony!:

11 Questions from Kalin:

  1. How long have you owned/leased your horse/s?   Loki for almost a year now. Ghazal for 22 years.
  2. If you were going to be trapped on an island with only three things, what would you take? I'm going to cheat and say I'd take a boat so I could leave! Sorry, I've sort of done the trapped on an island thing and I'm not ready to repeat the experience!
  3. What kind of saddle do you use?      My current saddle is a Bates but I am shopping for something new.
  4. English or Western?      English but I used to be a trail guide so I am somewhat competent with Western.
  5. When you aren't riding, what do you like to do?       Read, surf the web, run/work out.
  6. Is your family supportive of your riding?      Most of the time.
  7. Favorite food & drink?       Mexican and root beer
  8. What breed is your horse?       One is an Arab and the other is an OTTB
  9. Favorite horse-related movie?      Not sure which movie but I love the old western The Big Valley (see above).
  10. What is your favorite animal other than a horse?      Dogs and cats. (sorry can't pick just one!)
  11. Favorite song?     Amazing Grace as sung by Chris Tomlin.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Not Living Up To Our Name

So we experienced a setback yesterday as in we had COMPLETE AND UTTER BRAKE FAILURE!

Let me start with saying that Loki's answer to being confused or afraid has always been to runaway. This is not a new thing for him. What is new is my sudden inability to deal with it. I guess I should also start out by saying the only thing hurt was my pride!

My trainer asked me if I wanted to come along XC schooling on Monday. I said sure without much thought but as we were driving to the course I had this niggling feeling in the back of my mind that maybe this wasn't the best idea ever. I have, after all, only been back to riding (for real) for about five days. As I was getting ready to mount up I found myself hit with some of the worst case of nerves I've had in a really long time. I really can't explain it but that's how it was.

We started off with an easy warm-up in the dressage arena just walk and trot. He got a little quick in the trot but nothing serious. After that we each took turns galloping in a large circle. And this is where we lost our minds, temporarily. It wasn't a bolting thing as in he didn't just suddenly take off on me it was just a gradual quickening until all the sudden I realized we are slightly out of control and that is when I did something I haven't done in a long time with horses, I panicked. It probably only lasted a couple of minutes but I was shaken. Lori talked to me about it afterwards, pointed out some of the things I did wrong and let us catch our breaths as she galloped another time and then had us try again. And the same thing happened. Two more times of it actually before I finally hopped down, after getting him stopped finally the last time, and said enough is enough!

Lori got on him after that and while he did want to get quick with her she was able to slow him down and stop him without too much trouble. And that is where the wounded pride comes in for me b/c obviously it is a ME problem.

After Lori rode him for a while I was able to get back on and we did school some very easy jumps and a couple of ditches without any issues and I was even able to ride him on the buckle afterwards. In the end I was very glad Lori made me get back on because we were able to end on a really good note. And on the positive side of things the jumps are absolutely NOT an issue at all anymore. This is a big change from last year.

So here are my thoughts as to what went wrong:

#1 I think I expected way too much of myself after having the 9 months away. This tendency to get quick is not a new thing for Loki. Last year I was handling it alright, not perfect perhaps but it wasn't really an issue 99% of the time. I know I am capable of getting past this but I just need to give myself time and set both of us up for success with better planning the next time out.

#2 My saddle is causing some issues. Basically it is putting me nearly in a chair seat. I can't quite get my legs underneath me and my knees are getting pushed up almost but not quite over my knee rolls. This is creating yet another problem which is it is easier for me to pinch and grab with my knees than to use my whole leg. A swinging leg while galloping is NOT a good thing! Don't get me wrong, I don't think a new saddle is going to magically make everything better but I do think it will help.

#3 Loki and I need to revisit some basics. Last summer we definitely did not do nearly as much ground work as we should have. This was partly due to the fact that he has always been so easy to deal with on the ground. He is respectful of my space and it was easy to take it for granted. It was also partly due to my feeling of time running out on me. So we are going to go back to some basics. Work on our ground work and on our relationship. Loki needs to trust me and I need to trust him. We started today with just working on walking and trotting and backing up on the lead. I think we made some progress but we will continue to work on it.

My trainer and I both agree that the answer is NOT a stronger bit, although we might try some different types of bits to find something that will be more comfortable for him. The answer is more training and for me it means slowing down and really solidifying our relationship. We may continue to do some schooling shows here and there but we will not be doing any events until the Fall at the earliest. And the best thing is I am perfectly happy with this. For the first time I don't have some deadline looming up over me. We are here for two years which for us is practically forever!

So we may be down a little (I'd be lying if I said I'm super happy right now) but we are definitely not out. I'll keep you updated on how things progress.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Mixed Bag

Wow, so many things going through my head right now. I'm sorry if this gets a tad long. I'll do my best to trim it down. :)
Losing Kadence was a sad reminder of just how fragile horses are

Saturday was a day with very mixed results. The day itself turned out to be very sad. One of my friend's and fellow boarder's horses jumped the fence of the pasture she was in overnight. They spent a long time in the morning trying to hunt her down. The property is around 35 acres and there is a small trail that borders most of it so a lot of nooks and crannies in which to get lost. After they found the mare, Kadence she was in very poor shape and the vet was called. Later the decision was made to take her up to the Ohio State Vet Hospital where she underwent surgery. Sadly, I later found out that she did not survive. I'm not 100% sure if it was from colic from eating too much or if she had gotten into something or what but either way it was a blow. R.I.P. sweet Kadence.

I rode Logan first in Intro A and Intro B. He did okay especially considering this was literally only my third time riding him in over 9 months and his training has been intermittent at best. He's such a sweet horse. I really wish someone would sweep him up. Unfortunately at 11 and still mostly a green OTTB I don't like his chances.

I had about thirty minutes for warm-up with Loki. I was very pleasantly surprised that he was not in the least concerned about the extra noise, horses and people on the farm. He took everything in stride and rode just like he had the past five days.

My first class went very well. Loki was actually pretty relaxed and we scored well, a 66.2. That was with an error on my part. I memorized the test wrong. I thought the free walk was from F to E but instead it was from B to H, oops! So without the error we would have had a 68.2! To be honest I felt that the judge was very generous with points but this is a schooling show after all. She had some very nice things to say about Loki and gave him a 7.5 for his gaits.

The things we need to work on are the left bend and downward transitions. I was already painfully aware of the downward transitions but not as aware of the left bend issue. And consistency in accepting the aids, bit, etc goes without saying.

The second test did not ride so well. To be honest I truly think Loki was mad. We had a little over an hour break between his classes so I thought I'd untack him and let him rest for a bit and then tack him up again. He was not the same horse when I brought him out the second time. A friend made a good point to me that maybe I should practice riding him more than one time a day every once in a while so that he isn't so surprised by it.

We scored a 58.something in the second test. His downward transitions got much worse and he just rushed everything. His entire attitude was I should be done now. We also had an unfortunate tack mishap right before the test. My noseband came undone. The judge had rung the bell, which I didn't hear, right as I went back out of the arena to find someone to help fix our bridle. When I went back in I didn't know my test had already started. The judge was very understanding, though, and allowed me to start over. But, we just never recovered from that.

I know this is already way too long so I will just end with some pictures and my thoughts about some of them. I did ride in my hunt saddle b/c I basically just don't have a dressage saddle right now. I don't know about you but I just can't ride with long stirrups in my hunt saddle. The rolls in the back (calf rolls?) keep me from straightening my leg. So I definitely look much more like I'm ready to go jump a course than ride a dressage test.
This was during warm-up and I have to say all of my canter pics looked about like this. Why am I leaning so far forward??? I have a couple of thoughts on this that I'm letting stew for a later post.
Not too bad
The free walk. I'm laughing at myself as this was right after our error
Coming down the center line.
The final halt. I really love this picture of Loki! In my biased opinion he just has that classic TB look.

Friday, June 14, 2013

I Need Sleep!

I really do. This is more than just jet lag. I am to the point of eating just to stay awake. I haven't slept for longer than 5 hours in one day in the past three weeks or so. Things were just so stressful leading up to our move and then with the jet lag I am just not adjusting well. I think I will get a little artificial aid tonight because I am becoming a zombie!

I did ride Loki and Logan today. Boy, they are totally different rides. I hope I am able to switch gears at the show tomorrow. I ride Logan first in two Intro classes and then I ride Loki in Intro C and Training test 1. I tried to practice the test and the movements from the test today. Walk and trot for Loki were pretty good canter not so much. I'm not sure if it was due to the fact that I had more of an agenda with our ride or if he was a little sore or just having a bad day but his canter was a little nutso this morning. My trainer did come down for part of my ride and gave me some pointers. Mainly, find times to let go and soften!! When his canter gets so fast and unbalanced I have a very bad habit of locking my arms and trying to force him but when I remember to let go he does better. But, this show will be interesting to say the least. Those transitions come awfully fast in these tests!

I also took my eldest daughter to the tack store today and got her boots and a helmet. She is going to horse camp next week! She is very excited. I am excited, too, except I can see where this could lead (us to the poor house, lol!). 

The show is tomorrow. I hope I at least get some decent sleep tonight so I can think a little more clearly. This is what I am hoping to be doing tonight:

Thursday, June 13, 2013

That Fine Line

Loving this face everyday!
I'm sitting at home this morning trying to wait out the rain from the last thunderstorms that rolled though here. Luckily they weren't nearly as bad, for us, as had been predicted. I need to get back out to the barn to ride as I only have today and tomorrow before the show. I think Loki and I will be ready but I am also going to be riding the Friends of Ferdinand horse, Logan again and I have yet to ride him since I've been home. That should be interesting.

I had another good ride yesterday. It's amazing how many things you can know mentally but not realize you don't really know physically until you have those light bulb moments.

My latest light bulb moment has been about the fine line between soft hands and firm hands. What I mean is when you are asking a horse to accept the contact and pushing him up into it you have to give him a place to go. If your hands are too soft there is nowhere for the horse to go except straight through them. On the other end of the spectrum if you start trying to force the contact through hard, tight hands or the use of artificial aids you might get a horse that looks like he's in a good frame to uneducated eyes but in reality you will be far from the dressage ideal of a horse who has self-carriage. A horse that has been forced into a frame will never have the same expression and impulsion and pazazz of a horse that has been taught to not only have self-carriage but to even seek that contact on his or her own.

I know this is something most of us already know but it is something I'm really just learning to feel, physically. It's all because of the difference in my horse after the past two months of training. For the first time I can actually feel him starting to round and accept the contact even if it is only for a few mere seconds at a time. We still have so far to go but now that I am starting to know what it feels like I have something to aim for.

In the past I have often erred on the side of being too soft. I was so afraid of being that hard handed rider that I was just too soft and mushy in my contact. In some ways this can be just as irritating to a horse as over-bearing hands. I didn't realize how much muscle it can take to really get that contact especially at first. Loki does not have true self-carriage yet and still requires a lot of help from me. But I'm also learning that the trick is finding every single moment when I can soften and give to him as a reward for him moving correctly. I'm not sure if this makes as much sense written down as it does in my head, lol. But the bottom line is I think we are progressing!

I'm pretty happy with his weight right now. Still a little ribby but I think that is going to be pretty standard for him for a while yet.
In other news my husband got his first new car in over 14 years. I don't like to say people are entitled to anything or deserve this or that b/c they've done one thing or another but I am super happy that he is getting something nice and new to him. He has worked very hard especially over the past two years.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sit It

I got to ride again today. Evie was still sick this morning but *knock on wood* everybody finally seems to be recovered at this point. Jet lag is still kicking my tail but it is getting better. In many ways it is hard to believe we've been home for less than a week. We've gotten a lot accomplished.

I had the BEST ride this morning. First I have a little confession which is I have never truly been able to sit the trot. I've been riding for over 20 years and I've never been able to really do this. I have some pretty good excuses. Mainly I've never ridden any horses that were truly round and for the first 15-17 years of my riding career I was self-taught. I did all the training on Ghazal myself and was pretty clueless add to that his conformation and he really never did learn how to use himself and consequently always had the bounciest trot. It was certainly not ideal for learning to sit.

Fast forward to this morning where I decided to give it another practice. (Yes, I have been practicing over the last couple of years!) All of the sudden from the very get-go of this ride I was able to sit the trot like I'd been doing it for years instead of merely seconds. It was such a crazy good feeling! I think the reasons this happened are two-fold. Loki is actually using his back now, not 100% of the time but enough that he was able to give me a back to sit on. The other reason is that even though I didn't get to ride a whole lot while in Japan I did make great use of the time I had. I always rode without my stirrups and just worked worked worked on me. Between that and the running and truly getting in the best shape I think I've ever been and the time was just ripe.

Definitely one of the most clear light-bulb moments I've ever had. I'm half afraid it was a fluke and I'll go back to ride again tomorrow and it will be gone. I guess I'll have to see in the morning.

The ride was also good from other perspectives. Loki was much more giving today and seemed much more ready to work. I actually got a nice slow and BALANCED canter out of him. I texted my trainer and said I didn't even realize he HAD a slow canter. It's really nice to ride him and feel the difference the last two months of training have done for him. I certainly feel like the training fees was money well spent.

Still no new pictures. With the kids sick Jay just hasn't been able to get out to the barn with me yet. But there is a little schooling dressage show on the property this weekend that I am going to ride in so hopefully I'll have pictures of that!


Monday, June 10, 2013

The Unwanted Hitchhiker

My plans for the barn and to ride have been thwarted for today as a very unwanted and unwelcome visitor made it's presence known this morning as my son was puking over the side of his top bunk. Fun times! Seriously hate it when my kids are sick. Evie is now also running a very high fever. Between the jet lag and all over the place schedule it is no small wonder that all three of them aren't sick but so far Elaina seems to be feeling pretty well.

In other news I wanted to share these pictures of the cats. The trip seems to have not phased them much at all. We are still working on trying to integrate them with Gimli but otherwise they are perky and seem to be feeling pretty well. I will be so happy when everyone is feeling better and we can truly put this whole trip behind us!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

To Work With You

So I have a little confession to make. I was really, super nervous about riding my pony the first time. I haven't ridden, for real, in 9 months and I was feeling insecure.

But my trainer had the perfect answer. She put me straight to work with a lesson first thing. It was the best thing for me. As soon as I started concentrating on riding correctly I didn't have a thought to spare to be nervous. And it felt amazing! Loki has come a long way in some areas and still needs lots of work in others but this is a good thing. I want to have stuff to work on, not just a push-button horse.

Since Lori has had two months of riding him full time she had some great insights on how to ride him. He is the kind of horse that really requires you to ride every step but he had some really nice moments of actually using his back and hind end. I don't think I ever quite got that from him before I left so it was pretty cool to feel. And, his canter has come a loooong way from when I left. The sad thing is it still has quite a lot of work to go.

We did jump just one little cross rail a couple of times and it went great. It was just the right amount to get us thinking about it and really help with my confidence. Adjustability is the thing we need to work on the most. Once we get that Loki is going to go pretty far!

I didn't get any pictures of our lesson but I did get some from the day before, my first day back to the barn. Loki was more interested in grazing than spending time with me but I was so happy to see him! I swear I think he grew while I was gone!

Not sure what face I'm making!
Handsome boy!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Friday Flyday!

I'm baaaaaack!
Hello everybody! We have arrived safely in Ohio as of Friday at 7:30pm. This will be a quick update as I still have so much to do. I have slept for the past 15 hours or so. Apparently my body decided I really needed the sleep. I am getting ready to go through all of my horse stuff so I can load it up in the truck and then get to the barn to see my pony!!!!

The cats and all of us including our stuff all made it safely. The trip was a little crazy and I will definitely have to share a little about it when my brain is working better. It will also take me a few days to catch up with all my blogs but hopefully soon life will get back to normal. 

Oh and as soon as I can I will get some updated pictures of Loki and me!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Counting Up

My countdown timer is now counting up! Unfortunately I do still have a couple of more days to go over here so I've decided to leave the timer running until I finally get home. This will most likely be my last post until that time. We will be going to a hotel soon and I'm not sure what our internet access will be like but I imagine snail speed at best.

Things are happening fast. This is good except for the fact that it is getting hard to keep up. So much to do to be ready! But I know it will all get done and the best thing so far is we have sold both of our cars! That is a HUGE relief. My biggest worry right now is my cats. What a pain it is to move animals overseas! I'm mostly worried about how they are going to travel. I just pray they make it safe and recover quickly. It is going to be a rough journey for them.

I also wanted to share this AMAZING gift my co-workers from Mihara pitched in to buy me as a going away present:
Isn't is so cool? I am stunned honestly. It was and is an amazingly thoughtful gift and I am so thankful.

My husband got a Star Wars watch from some of the soldiers in his Company. I don't have a picture of it on my computer unfortunately but it is super cool. All in all we are feeling very blessed.

Jay's final day of command is tomorrow. He will be getting his evaluations from his boss and bosses boss. I'm really praying for a super report for him. But regardless I am here to testify that he has put his heart and soul into this job and into his soldiers and I am confident that very few people, if any, could have done better.

And finally I took the girls to get their toe nails painted today. It is THE Okinawan thing to do and I figured it would be fun for them. I think they turned out pretty cute even though Elaina's has already gotten rubbed a bit b/c she was too impatient to let it dry thoroughly.
Elaina's toes with Orcas on the big toes.
Evie's toes with blue teddy bears.
Pretty soon we'll be saying Sayonara for the last time!