Thursday, 23 February 2017


So I finally consulted the calendar for a local circuit of schooling shows aimed at novice riders and novice horses.  And I realized the season opener is March 4th.

This happened almost one year ago (our first ride!)

I am debating bringing Henry to do the W/T equitation classes and the two trot poles classes.  I think it would be a good experiment to see what he thinks of riding in a new arena with other horses.  And we don’t even have to jump anything.  But also…ribbons. 

One of the barriers last year to me doing more showing (besides being incredibly broke) was that I didn’t have a trailer.  I still don’t and it’s not looking very promising.  But I have a friend who has a nice little stock trailer she will let me borrow (I’m insisting that I pay).  She’s moved out of the country so she definitely won’t be needing it in the immediate future, so it’s sort of a win-win for both of us.

So I have wheels.  I have already confirmed that the trailer is free and available that day.

But I don’t have a lot of room in my budget… womp womp.  And that’s sort of bumming me out.  I don’t have a proper pair of tall boots (still need to put zippers in one pair and the other pair needs to be re-soled).  I don’t have a proper belt.  I don’t have gloves.  I don’t have a shaped pad for Henry (it’s technically a hunter series). 

I got these for $99 years ago (regular price $399 - score!) but because my right foot was broken I can't get the right boot on... so I need to have zippers put in.. :( $$

I know those things could be strung together on my meager budget but it would be so nice to purchase some nicer items for our show debut.
I’m also still finishing up the course work that I mentioned and am fairly stressed (it’s all due by March 1st).  I’m not sure if adding a show to our near future would add excitement or just more stress.  I am legit getting grey hair.

There is another schooling show in a difference series that runs at the end of March, which I would also like us to attend.  The lowest level is x-rails, which would probably be fine for us too.  But I’m leaning towards the March 4th as our first outing as we don’t have to jump anything.

What do you think?  Should I suck it up and stop being a sad panda about wearing ugly hobo clothes for my first show with Henry?  Or should I wait until I'm less stressed out and have more funds?

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

MOAR CANTER (Henry Lesson #9)

After lesson #8 Henry and I had two very short rides.  I didn’t canter in either of them but worked on getting a more forward trot.  Since I didn’t have a ton of time to ride I didn’t want to start fiddling with the canter.  I was also alone at the barn for both rides and I felt like cantering wasn’t a super safe idea.  Also my phone hasn't been working properly so I've been playing things a little extra safe (although new phone arrived today so yay for proper media soon!).

They are legit friends now, so weird

I’ve been scrambling to complete some courses for my yearly certifications at work and it’s kind of taking over my life.  Maybe I shouldn’t have left everything to the last minute… Oh well.

So when our Saturday morning lesson rolled around I was going to suggest to ST that we just do some work on poles and perfect our trot, until Henry and I had a few more solo practices on our canter work. 

Me at work today

But when she arrived and patted Henry’s face and said “Henry!  Ready to canter?!” I was like… what the hell.  I did warn her that we hadn’t practiced so it might be equally as fugly as last time. 

We spent a fair bit of time working on getting a nice forward trot and doing some more circle-shaped circles.  Then we started the canter off to the right again (his easier direction).  Our transition was actually decent!  His lead was incorrect but we did about a half revolution of the arena.  ST’s theory is that it’s easier for him to canter on the correct lead and at this point we don’t want to criticize him for cantering (even on the wrong lead) because he is technically doing what we ask by cantering – so we reward that.  He will eventually figure out the correct lead is easier.  We tried a second time and he was able to swap out his front end for the correct lead.  We travelled a bit farther this time (almost a full revolution of the arena). 

Lesson learned... don't leave Henry unsupervised.  RIP hair moisturizer  

ST and I decided we should try to the left (which we haven’t tried yet).  We had another decent transition and went a full revolution! 

ST said that she could tell I wasn’t nervous this time to ask for the canter, so our transitions majorly improved.  To be honest last time I was like…. “canter…. I think …. canter….if you aren’t going to do anything stupid”, in lesson #9 I was like “CANTER! WEEE!”.

My attempt at a confo pic in January

I could not be prouder of my little Henry horse!  ST is super impressed with him too. 

I am debating taking him to a little show on the first weekend of March, I have a post about that coming up tomorrow  J

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Henry Lessons 7&8 + Saddle Update

Lesson #7 was my last bareback lesson!  Huzzah!  It was the windiest day ever so Henry was a bit “up”.  He’s not really one to spook/bolt in a big way for the most part but he would just love to stop/stare at odd things.  The crazy wind was blowing objects outside against the arena walls.   Because of this keeping him moving forward was a bit more of a challenge than usual. 

*wind noise*
Me: “It’s nothing. Carry on.” 
Henry: “Ok fine.” 
*different wind noise*

This X one million for the first bit of our ride haha!

ST gave me good reminders and cues to keep him moving forward.  She also suggested doing some exaggerated bending away from the offending object/noise.

After about 5 or 10 minutes he didn’t care about all the weird noises anymore. 

We trotted a line of three poles.  He was a bit wiggly but eventually realized going straight was easier and I would bug him less. 

After this lesson I felt a lot more pressure to find a saddle.  I felt like Henry and I were really stuck in our progress and it was frustrating me.   

The Barnsby turned out not to be a fit for either of us and that added to my frustration.  I remembered that a friend of mine posted an older Amerigo cc jump saddle not too long after I had paid for the trial on the Barnsby.  I decided I needed to give it a try. 

It fits Henry beautifully.  It’s quite short in the flap for me, but I feel nice and balanced in the seat.  I just need to learn to have a steadier lower leg… which is not entirely the saddle’s fault.  It’s not 100% perfect but it will do.  My friend gave me a pretty good deal on it too, so although it was a little over budget it wasn’t a huge leap out of budget.

In other news, Apollo and Henry are friends now.... whoa

I was so happy to have a saddle for Lesson #8 with ST!  My lesson was actually my first ride in the saddle.  ST agreed the saddle was a good interim solution.  She still thinks for both of us to be 100% comfy we’ll need to go custom but at this point it will work. 

Henry was feeling very forward (for him anyway) so we moved into the trot work a lot more quickly than usual.  We did some 10m and 20m circles shapes.  I asked ST if she thought we could try a canter.  I sort of wanted to see what he would do (while I had eyes on the ground).  If there were going to be shenanigans I would make sure my husband was present for future canter plans. 

*Just for a refresher, Henry did canter a few times with RK at his training.  But he was pretty lazy/unbalanced about it.  I have never cantered him.*

Old pic of Henry and my husband to break up the text!

ST thought a canter attempt was a great idea!  I had quite a bad cold and my muscles felt super weak… so I was maybe not the best pilot.

I tried a few times to get him to canter on the left lead and had no luck.  He just did a gigantic fancy trot and I lost both of my stirrups and almost fell off.  *face palm*

Old pic of me feeding baby Henry

ST thought the right would be easier from him because of the way he naturally likes to travel.  So we tried that instead.  And she was correct! 

He does a very similar “launch” into canter as he does in his walk/trot transitions.  I should have been a little more prepared for that but I definitely lost my balance again when he blasted into a canter.  Luckily he’s Henry so he did 3 strides and then called it a day.  I gave him tons of praise for cantering (although it was the incorrect lead).  I was happy enough with those 3 strides but ST told me that I had to do it again. 

I decided to shorten my stirrups a hole so my leg felt a bit more solid. And off we went again!  This time I was prepared for the departure and actually enjoyed myself. 

Bareback trot video...previously shared

His canter is absolutely fantastic!  ST called out to me “you are going to have a lot of fun with that canter on the cross country course!” which made me grin.  We did about 7 strides this time, but seemed to cover a lot of the arena.  ST thinks he has about a 12 foot stride… so I guess that explains it.

I was so incredibly proud of Henry!  He tried really hard for me and wasn’t foolish even though I was legit riding like a potato.  I’m excited to try again now that I’m feeling 100%.  J

A new saddle and our first canter!  It was a big day!

Monday, 13 February 2017

Weekend Wins

I had an epic weekend!  I will elaborate with more details on these four exciting developments in further posts but for now I present the Coles notes of an awesome weekend. :)

I found Henry a saddle! 


And then in our new saddle Henry and I had our first ever canter together!  (10 whole strides #whatsup)


I rode Apollo bareback for the first time since my two falls in the summer.  We cantered and had way too much fun.

I had an awesome (although slightly cold) trail ride on Mystic.  We got hit by what I can only describe as two "snow tornados" and my bad ass mare didn't flinch. 

No pictures of snownado ride... but this is my sassy dog ignoring me...in snow

So yeah even though I was in a boring training course for work today I was still smiling pretty big!

Anyone else have a great weekend?

Saturday, 11 February 2017

To the Moon and Back

I haven’t had a ton of Mystic-related posts in the last few months.  Things have turned around in a big way since our scary trail ride.  I almost felt afraid to write about how great she’s been going - because I would jinx it. 

But we are in such a happy place right now that I just can’t shut up about it (sorry co-workers who don’t even like horses).

Even though I realized shortly after the trail ride from hell that her behavior was most likely pain-related (and regular chiro has resolved this), I decided to also spend more time on the ground with her.  I spend more brushing her than I used to and I’ve been doing a bit of ground work. 

Trying to get a nice photo together but the dead grass is too appealing

I had taken for granted for a long time that I could just hop on her and go down the road.  And I still can - but it’s wise to do a few pre-flight checks, especially with a 4 year old. 

I spent almost every day with her when she was at the training barn, and now I’m lucky to get two or three days a week.  I’ve been making an effort to visit her at least one extra day a week, where I don’t plan to ride.  I just give her a quick brush and a carrot.  In the summer we will be doing a lot more visiting and riding (when it’s not -20) but for now I think she appreciates the extra visit.

We have been having an absolute blast riding with C!  C has a newly broke horse, named Dolly, that she is riding and Mystic has been such a perfect trail buddy.  I think Mystic’s calmness and confidence really helps Dolly relax.  I can’t wait until the weather warms up so we can go on longer adventures!

Dolly is a cute Welsh pony <3

Also, Mystic and I recently had a big milestone.  As of January 28 I have been her person for 4 years.

I have never connected with a horse so strongly like that right off the bat.  She seemed to trust me instantly.  She was a sassy little peanut sometimes but she almost always tried her best to do the right thing. 

I feel incredibly safe when I ride her (especially after we’ve built our trust bank back up recently).  I haven’t owned a lot of horses that I wanted to canter in open spaces, but it doesn’t faze me at all on her.  She carried me so carefully when I went through a bit of a rough patch last spring.   I will be forever grateful for those long rides with just her and my dog. 

Here's to many more happy trails this spring and summer!  

Friday, 3 February 2017

The Saddle Geek Consult

I originally found the website for The Saddle Geek on one of my many searches relating to Amerigo saddles.  

I read these lines in the “Get Custom Advice” section of the website:

Tell me if this sounds familiar:

You're overwhelmed by your saddle search.
You're worried about making an expensive mistake.
You're not sure which saddle brands or saddle features make sense for your situation.
And every time you ask a pro for saddle help, it seems like they've got a saddle that they want to sell to you.

Um yes.  That was exactly me.

There are a few saddle fitters in my neck of the woods but they all sell a specific brand, which makes them sort of biased in their advice.  My Equipe lady was wonderful (and I still want one) but the brand/model recommendations she gave me for a used saddle were very challenging (budget-wise mostly).  She was really focused on the Amerigos and Equipes, which even used seemed to run upwards of 3000.  I felt like I needed non-brand specific advice.

So I decided to give Jen at The Saddle Geek a try :)

I sent a bunch of conformation photos of Mr. Henry and a few photos of myself.   There was a detailed intake form which asked about our current activities and what we currently ride in (baha nothing…#hobolife) etc. 

I mentioned a few brands that I liked.  I love my Verhan (although the seat is a little hard).  I like Barnsbys and Schleeses too.   I haven’t ridden in a ton of different brands in my life but I told Jen I would ride in whatever I needed to ride in so Henry could be comfortable.  Rock hard ancient Stubbens included.  I was sort of leaning towards a dressage saddle when I submitted my info but was open to a close contact as well.  I just wanted stirrups. 

Apollo's saddle, sent to Jen as an example of what I like :)

She sent me two 30 minute videos full of advice and saddle suggestions.  I was going to share them on the blog but I don’t think anyone wants to watch 60 minutes of video about someone else and their horse.  

So I’ll share some suggestions/thoughts from those videos:

- She agreed that 17.5 or smaller would be best for his shorter back and he has a longer wither 

- She also noted his girth groove is ahead of the low point of his back where the saddle would sit, which is another challenge  

- She said a point bullet would be ok, but to be careful(!)

- She suggested the 6 point saddle fleece pad from Total Saddle Fit if we have an okay fit that needs a little bit of lift

- Recommended I stay away from rear gussets due to his curvier-type of topline  

- She recommended upswept panels

- Regarding me as a rider:  My pelvis sits quite square under me and I have long legs/am fairly slim.  I need a saddle that doesn’t have giant front blocks (if I’m riding in a 17.5 anyhow).

- Recommended a variety of brands in my meagre budget (under $1000 preferred) that would work for Henry and I in the dressage world (most of these suggestions are for used saddle): T4/T8 Thorogoods, Roosli Pilatus (and she sent a link for a sweet deal for a used one on ebay), Cobra from Harry Dabbs, Jaguar from Harry Dabbs, and some used Schleeses.  And a few other "maybes" if they meet our other requirements.  She also found a Barnsby Crown (which likely had a Schleese tree) at a used tack store in Canada and sent me the link for that.   

-  She thought a Prestige would be nice on Henry also, as they are fairly adjustable.  The Tekna A8 was brought up as well.  She was pretty sure that I would need a halfpad with a Tekna or Prestige.

She also suggested doing a custom saddle through Heritage Bespoke Saddlery as a slightly out of budget option  

- Suggested wool-flocking as it's more adjustable for a growing young horse 

- Jen was also able to kibosh a few saddles that I was considering (one due to being too small for me and one due to rear gussets for him) and give me a long list of saddles to avoid for either me/Henry

- It is not smart to ride in something that is uncomfortable for me because I can't ride properly in something that doesn't fit me (and a too small seat could result in pain for the horse if my butt was more on the cantle than it needed to be)

After all that I still had a few follow-up questions.  She sent me another 25 minute video going through all my questions with lots more awesome information :)

I am SO happy with my consult.  I learned so much!  Jen explained things clearly and used lots of great examples and pictures in the videos to illustrate her points.  She was so patient and kind with me (and my one million follow-up questions!).   She also has a great sense of humor so the videos are more fun to watch, as opposed to just monotone information overload.  Jen also gave me a few great tips for checking the fit on my saddles. 

I’m planning to book her again to help me find something for Mystic in the spring.  I highly recommend her to anyone who is on the saddle hunt!  SHE IS FANTASTIC!!! J

Since my appointment with her I have ordered the Barnsby Crown she suggested to me (which was way under budget) and have booked the Schleese rep to come out next week and tweak it to Henry.  It is on a trial in case something is way off but I’m pretty hopeful we have found our saddle.

Thanks Jen!!! <3  From Kate and Henry :D

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

February Goals + Henry Video

Part of my 2017 goal list was making monthly goals for myself… so here we go!

1)      Re-do 30 challenge exercises
2)      Run 3 days a week minimum (eek)
3)      Lay out workout/work clothes the night before
4)      Buy Henry a saddle
5)      Start squirreling away a bit of money for new BOT mesh sheet for Apollo
6)      Do research and find Apollo an oral joint maintenance supplement
7)      Figure out times/budget for lessons with Coach D for Apollo & Henry (I’m thinking one lesson a week, alternating horses – so both get two Coach D lessons a month)
8)      Work out a more specific riding schedule

Also wanted to share this short little video of me riding Henry about two weeks ago!  This is how quiet he is after almost two weeks off (due to my back issues).  Good pony!

I have some exciting saddle news to share shortly!