Monday, March 19, 2018

Welp, Nevermind

Welllll... we didn't make it into the show yesterday. Apparently they had a TON of entries for the show, so I didn't make the cut. I was extremely bummed since I was getting really excited for it, but I think it's for the better. I get to save my money and wait for a league show so I get points. And I got to focus on finals instead of stressing about the show too and everything I needed to do to get ready (clean tack, organize trailer, bathe Jetta, etc.)

Our last two rides were WONDERFUL and then we had two awful ones. After two relaxed rides with lots of stretchy trots, I wanted to work on lateral work again. Jetta warmed up really nicely, then went downhill once we started the lateral work. She just gets more and more amped and then I get a shorter rein and she gets more and more "up"and it snowballs.

When we went to canter she launched into it with barely a cue, she was being super sensitive to my aids, so I tried to school it a little bit and she just got more anxious. We ended up dropping back to the trot and doing lots of figure 8's and serpentines, trying to get her listening, not heavy, not overreacting to my leg, etc.

It ended up being a pretty long ride and while I think we did accomplish things, it was frustrating. So probably another reason that it's good we didn't make it into the show.

Then I rode on Sunday and they were scraping the driveway, trying to get rid of some of the potholes and while Jetta doesn't actually care, when we got into the arena and couldn't see the tractor she was VERY CONCERNED and there was much prancing and general obnoxiousness so I got off and lunged her and she ran until she decided she was done and then we had a lovely but short ride.

Now it looks like our first show will either be mid-April with an indoor eventing show (just jumping, no dressage) or a dressage league show at the end of April. We will see! I'd like to know my exam schedule before signing up, but I also don't want to miss out again by entering at the last minute. So we'll see.

Here's our updated list of things we need to work on:

Training Level
Canter - reasonable speed, not on forehand, on the bit
           Better, but we need to work on not launching into the canter
Canter-trot transition
           Better, but still needs improvement
Stretchy trot circle
           Much better!

First Level
Fine-tune our leg yield
         It's going really well!
Lengthened trot and canter
         We've been working a little on the lengthened trot, but haven't touched the canter yet

Second Level
Travers - working on this, it's still ugly but has its good moments
Canter-walk transition - HA. hahahaha
Canter loop/counter canter - started our canter loops and they are not as bad as I was expecting
Sitting trot - sometimes we can do this other times we are too discombobulated

To apologize for the lack of photos, I'll be posting a baby update soon! I promise that one will have photos :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


Well, I finally sent in our entry for the show yesterday. I waffled back and forth but finally bit the bullet. It gives me motivation to work with Jetta and it will be a good opportunity to dip our toes back into showing. It just might not be pretty, lol.

Jetta continues to improve for the most part though! I finally switched her bit back to her usual Myler since the Herm Sprenger she likes isn't show legal. The HS is a mullen mouth with a port and the port is just barely too big. She just goes SO well in it. I think we're on our 4th ride in the Myler and while she isn't very pleased and we're definitely not going to get many points on acceptance of the bit, at the very least she actually listens to my half halts now!

Yesterday I feel like we definitely had a bit of a breakthrough. I went into our ride wanting to focus on relaxation. She tends to get wound up more and more the more transitions and lateral work you ask her for. So we warmed up with lots of walking, just focusing on her getting soft on the bit, accepting my leg, being bendy, etc.

Once we moved into the trot I worked on letting her stretch out and down. She LOVES stretching, the only problem is that she uses it as an excuse to either run away with me, get super on her forehand, or just generally become a freight train. So every time she got too fast, I half halted her. If she didn't listen to my half halt then I stopped her. If she just trotted nicely she got to stretch as much as she wanted. We did lots of serpentines and figure eights to keep her little walnut brain engaged, the changing direction also helped her not anticipate the canter when I used my leg to turn.

Once she got really soft and not heavy on the forehand, I asked for a canter. I mainly focused on getting her to accept my outside rein at the canter and not brace. Otherwise I didn't worry about where her head was at and she did a good job of not being too speedy.

Canter-trot downward transitions are still not very good, but at least we can do them at this point. They still aren't very accurate and she gets heavy and fast in the trot, but I'm able to bring her back to a reasonable speed in a handful of strides. So not ideal, but we're working on it.

Getting back to that pre-baby bod

We even managed to do a little bit of lengthened trot work! I'm not super happy with it, but it's a start. She didn't anticipate, she let me regulate the speed and came back to whatever speed/gait I asked afterwards without bracing. 

I think the break through was letting Jetta have a little bit longer neck without getting faster. She realized that if I half halt her and she doesn't get fast, I will let her have a bit longer neck, thus we get a nicer trot instead of a short, tight neck with a quick trot. It felt much improved, so hopefully it sticks!

Starting to enjoy our rides again!

Today definitely felt better. She definitely remembered that she got to stretch if she listened to my half halts. We can't always warm up like this because she gets rude about wanting to stretch down, but I'll take the progress!

I also forgot that I didn't post about our trail ride the other day! We had a pretty slow week coming up in school so a fellow horsey vet student came out to my barn to go ride the trails with me. It was super fun - she has THE CUTEST little QH mare named Remy. She's only 3 but she was awesome the entire time and I am seriously going to steal her. Her conformation is to DIE for, she looks and moves like a miniature warmblood in a little cutting horse package. She is super fancy. It was nice to get out and about with a friend!

In random school related notes... I did my first surgery on a sheep! An abomasopexy to be exact. It actually went super smoothly and our ram recovered perfectly. I was nervous and there weren't the best guidelines provided on how to perform it, but it turned out great!

I'm on the left. I have a unicorn surgery cap, obviously
And my office is coming along and getting cozier for the endless hours I spend in here!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

WW: Actually Thursday

This was supposed to post yesterday, but I messed up the scheduled timing so... it gets posted today?

Yesterday was the 5 year anniversary of Grady being euthanized. I still miss him so much, he was just so special. It was especially a sad day just because I always envisioned him raising my first baby horse for me. He was going to be the perfect baby sitter. The horse that my foal would learn to pony off of, have for company during weaning, and show the ropes of life.

So it seems extra sad that yesterday I was thinking of him and playing with my first baby horse. Wishing that he was here extra hard.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Show Ready?

We are getting to just over 2 weeks out from our first show in forever and it's... going ok.

Jetta has some really great moments and some really terrible ones. I'm almost 100% sure that the terrible moments are just because she's not physically fit enough to carry herself the way I'm asking, but it's still a little frustrating.

"What do you mean I'm frustrating? NEVER"

Our last ride, Jetta warmed up BEAUTIFULLY. We were doing shoulders-in and haunches-in, leg-yields, 10 meter circles, etc. at the trot. It felt great.

And then we cantered and it was all downhill from there. Jetta feels very on her forehand in the canter and combined with the fact that she is fast and near unresponsive to my half-halts, it's close to being out of control. I tried working through it in a variety of ways - just getting into a half-seat and letting her just do her thing, asking for shoulder-in at the canter (BAD IDEA apparently), and finally just half-halting her until she responded and not care about where her head was at (basically in my lap).  Unfortunately she's such a hot, sensitive, anticipatory horse that we can't just school the canter over and over again until she gets over it because it would make it worse, not better.

Only good thing about my day - outfit on point

It was a rough ride and left me feeling a bit discouraged and unsure if I should attempt to show her. Is two weeks enough time to school the canter and get it to a manageable gait?

We've got quite a bit to work on, so just for my sanity, I thought I'd make a list of what we need right now.

Training Level
Canter - reasonable speed, not on forehand, on the bit
Canter-trot transition
Stretchy trot circle

First Level
Fine-tune our leg yield
Lengthened trot and canter

Second Level - obviously this is farther down the road, not in our immediate future!

Canter-walk transition
Canter loop/counter canter

This is a bit of a downer post, so I'll focus on what is good. Her shoulder-in at the trot is fantastic right now! Her leg yield is also really pretty good, we just need to work on a little more straightness and I need to not block her forward motion. Our trot work is going really well, she's getting a lot better about maintaining speed and not pulling on me. Our trot-halt and trot-walk transitions are really good right now too. Our 10 meter circles (both full circles and the two half-circles) are feeling phenomenal, as are our 15 meter canter circles (when we're not careening around like a baby racehorse).

Random picture from doing morning barn chores

I feel like we're definitely on the right track, but the going has been slow. This is usual for Jetta, she takes a long time to get back to where we were after a break, and I feel like I've approached the "retraining" well. I have a tendency to want to school the "fun" stuff that we've done before, even though she's not necessary ready and it usually results in having to unteach her that move until we're ready for it, since she'll use it as an evasion for what I actually want her to do. Example: if we work on lengthened trot, when we try to go across the diagonal and I don't ask for the lengthened trot, she charges into it, then gets upset when I half-halt her to get her back to a working trot.

We'll keep chugging along, and luckily I still have 12 days to decide on the show. I really want to go, but we'll see if we are actually ready in time!

In other news, I finally replaced her super worn out show bridle
Notice her creeper neighbor

And I got to put this browband on that's been waiting for a bridle!

Monday, February 26, 2018

30 Facts About Me

I thought this was a great idea that I saw over at $900 Facebook Pony. I love learning more about other bloggers, especially non-horse related stuff so I thought I'd participate and I hope others do too!

1. I used to want to be a marine biologist and do field research, then I did dive certification and discovered that I am super claustrophobic underwater so... that didn't work out
2. Other than briefly wanting to be a marine biologist (or a horse trainer) I have pretty much always known that I wanted to be a veterinarian. I love science, I love the human-animal bond, I love education, and obviously love animals.

3. I have two tattoos currently and want more! One is a dolphin on my ankle and the other is Grady's hoof print on my wrist

4. I got my dolphin tattoo in Costa Rica. I did a 5-week volunteer trip to the Golfo Dulce to work with a cetacean conservation group. There are Pantropical Spotted dolphins there and they are THE cutest things ever. I absolutely adore dolphins.

Image result for spotted pantropic dolphin
THE CUTEST - look at it's little freckles!!

5. I have been to 10 different countries so far and if I could just spend my life traveling, I would. Costa Rica, Nicaragua, India, Bhutan, France, Spain, Italy, England, Germany, Canada. The more culturally different it is, the more I love it.

6. I love reading and I read really quickly. My favorite genre is fantasy or historical fiction. I always need good book recommendations. The longer the better! (I seriously read about 100 pages/hour. If it's not at least 600 pages, it's too short). I cannot pick a favorite book or author, but my current favorite that I've been reading (when I have time, hah) is Brandon Sanderson.

7. I could live off Mexican food. Or even just tacos.

8. I took 6 years of French through high school and college and got a minor in it. I wish I had more opportunities to use it!

9. I am extremely un-athletic. If I ride a bike I WILL fall off of it. I like going skiing but I have to stick to the easy slopes while my friends go down the black diamond slopes. I once went night skiing and got stuck in a snow bank. The only "athletic" things I really enjoy completely are yoga and rock climbing.

10. I have never broken a bone

11. My worst horse accident is when Jetta flipped over on me and rolled all the way over top of me. I sprained both my MCL's in my knees and still have issues and soreness due to it.

12. Someday I'll have a reining/cow horse just for fun. I miss playing with cows!

13. I LOVE food for the most part and don't consider myself a picky eater, but there's a fair amount of food I don't like. Olives, raw tomatoes, blue cheese, and shellfish top the list.

14. I currently work for a research company and I love it. I wish I had done more research before vet school and maybe I would have gotten my PhD instead. I also did an undergrad research project and presented my research at a national conference.

15. I like all alcohol. Wine? Yes. Beer? Yes, I'm all about IPAs. Tequila? Yes. All the margaritas. Cider? Definitely. I am not picky. If you need to get me to do something, bribe me with alcohol.

16. Coffee hates me, I cannot drink it. Thus I am addicted to energy drinks. I blame vet school.

17. I have a younger brother.

18. I love dogs and cats equally, I could never choose between the two!

19. I love hiking, especially if it involves waterfalls. I am so lucky to live in an area with a multitude of wonderful hikes within easy driving distance!

One of my favorite hikes

20. I am painfully shy and have a really hard time getting to know people/make friends. I prefer listening to talking for the most part. But once I get comfortable around someone, I don't really shut up.

21. I love riding western just as much as I love english. I really miss it and the wonderful, supportive people I grew up riding and competing with in the western world.

22. I used to do competitive trail riding (not endurance, but more obstacle courses) and I have a bunch of belt buckles I won from it.

23. My favorite TV shows are probably Doctor Who and Supernatural. Favorite movies are Lord of the Rings, Phantom of the Opera, Lagaan, and Mulan.

24. I am deathly afraid of needles and receiving injections. However, I have no problem giving them to animals.

25. My dream is to someday be able to afford to build my dream house/barn. It will be a barn with living quarters in the loft!


26. I'm not much of a candy person, but I love dark chocolate. And I have a soft spot for cupcakes and german chocolate cake.

27. The first horses I can remember riding was my cousin's draft horses and my neighbor's horse. I remember being led around bareback on a giant Clydesdale named Cody that they used for their driving business. My neighbor's horse was an old QH named Ruby and my dad used to take me to their barn and we'd lunge her and she'd try to buck me off all the time but I absolutely LOVED it.

28. I love flowers but I seriously have a black thumb. I think the longest a plant has lasted around me is 8 months. So I settle for cut flowers!

29. I played flute for 8+ years and did competitions and elite bands and such. My poor flute has been untouched for 5 years now though.

30. I consider myself an amateur photographer and I really love it. I love taking pictures of landscapes and horses. I used to photograph at shows and I miss doing that. I also love taking pictures of friends with their horses. I don't think I'll ever turn it into a business, but I just love taking pictures and I love having pictures of my own horses so I like to do it for free for my horse friends.

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Plan

Of course, I feel like whenever you post Plans (yes, with a capital P) into the blog-o-sphere, something will magically come up that makes your plans moot.

But I'm gonna do it anyways, my Plans are currently very nebulous and up in the air at this point due to vet school, especially with the onset of 4th year clinics, but we're going to try anyways!

I already decided we're not going to make it to any shows in February, so we're looking at March for our first show. Of course, before then we need to figure out our downward transitions because at this point in time, they don't exist. Why would we ever need to come back down from a canter? Jetta things that there are no reasons for that nonsense.

March 2nd is an eventing derby show I was thinking of attending. However, we are over half way through the month at this point and we haven't jumped at all... plus no brakes... I don't think this one is going to happen. Plus it is pretty spendy for what it actually offers, so I think we might save our money and stay home from this one. 

It's been so long since we've done this!

There is a schooling show March 18th not too far away so that is the first on our list. It would be a nice, laid-back reintroduction to showing for Jetta and allow us to stretch our legs and see how it goes. I typically dislike schooling shows (I want awards!) except for baby horses, but it's been a really long time since I've showed Jetta so it would be worth it. The only problem is that it's the weekend before finals so that is very irresponsible of me... but I'm doing extremely well in all my classes this term (so far) and we have a pretty laid back finals week. So... maybe we'll try it. After all, what better study break is there?!

April 13th is another derby, so we might aim to be jumping by this point. Again with the cost, so we'll see what happens with this one. 

The first league show that I am most definitely planning on going to is April 29th. This is one of my favorite shows - laid back and at a familiar and close venue.

May 6th is a H/J show that I think we might try to make. 

June 2-3rd is the two one-day HT that I love attending every year. They are really well run, very affordable, laid back, and a lot of fun! We'll see if I can attend at least one day, since I have clinics during this time, but I am not on call.

June 10th is a dressage schooling show. I'm not sure I want to spend the money on another schooling show, I'd prefer a league show, but if we're bored or want to attempt Second Level, maybe we'll try it.

Another league show (finally) is July 7th. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to do this one due to clinics, but I really want to!

I mentioned in our yearly goals, that I really, really want to get our First Level scores for our Bronze medal. I think it's totally doable, it's just the cost of showing that is the issue. But, I still want to aim for it. There are a few options for this show. I can only attend one. August 3rd-5th is one at a facility that we've been to before, but it's a fair drive. It seems to be pretty laid back, though I've never attended this one. August 18th-19th is a new recognized show at the facility that hosts a lot of other league and schooling shows. It would be fun to attend, but I'm not sure on how the dates coordinate with my clinic schedule. October 6th-7th is a fun one that I have friends who always attend, so it might be a nice support system to go together. I also don't have clinics at this time.

October 21st is another League Show. I'm not a huge fan of this venue (it's got awful footing) but if I need to fit another league show in to get my little award plate, and maybe at this point we'd be ready to try Second Level.

Sometime in the fall there is usually another of the two one-day HT so I'd like to attend that if possible. 

I'm really hoping at least to make it to a couple league shows and the one-day horse trials. But otherwise, not a ton of pressure to do all the shows. I'd also like to fit some clinics in, but we'll see how that pans out. I don't think we're at a point yet where we can participate in a clinic and get anything new out of it (we're really just doing basics right now to get Jetta fit and back to where we were before baby) but I'd really like to do at least one clinic with JW who comes down fairly often and I've heard great things about her!

Fingers crossed I get a little bit of showing in this year!

Friday, February 16, 2018

What Horses Teach Us

I've been thinking about what all of the horses in my life have taught me. I've had a fair amount of horses and I feel like each one of them imprinted something important on me and have shaped me into the rider and person I am today.

Just wanted to reflect on them and I'm curious, if you could narrow it down to one word or phrase, what do you think the biggest thing your horse(s) have taught you?


Like a lot of little girls, he was my first horse and my first love. He taught me SO much. If I had to pick one thing that he taught me, it would be resilience. He bucked me off many, many times. I learned to get back on and try again and again. I also credit him with my desire and love of training. He was the worst horse to begin with and became the best horse I have had thus far, and likely will ever have.


My second horse, Jazz is the horse I credit with my love of competition, specifically dressage and jumping. She taught me about precision. She was an amazing horse to compete and we did it all. She was another very special horse.


My first training project, I bought a mangy little paint horse from a pasture in the middle of nowhere. She wasn't much to look at but she turned into a wonderful little horse. She taught me the importance of consistency.

Katy and Tux

I also trained Katy and Tux from the beginning. They were super fun and such easy, easy horses. I would work with Gypsy or Draft crosses again in a heart beat! They taught me the importance of having fun. From riding them everywhere bareback, going swimming, splashing in the waves on the beach and more, they were such a blast.


This little mare taught me balance. It was a fine line between making her too sensitive or too dull, too forward or too lazy. Partly because we switched back and forth between western and english, but she was a great all-around horse and we had a lot of fun dabbling in different things.


This guy taught me patience. He was such a tough horse for me. Smart, but could not deal with simple things like gentle pressure when he was stressed. He really was one of those horses that this quote was talking about:

Image result for emotions in the saddle quote


Jetta has taught me to always keep learning. She is always coming up with new evasions when she gets bored and there is never a dull moment with her. She's a wonderful, complicated horse and she keeps me on my toes. I'm constantly trying to figure out new ways of keeping her engaged and interested in learning.

I can't wait to see what this little one teaches me in the future!