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Thank you @carshon! I'm excited seeing his progress :) he's slowly starting to understand it more, and his reverting back to western pleasure is becoming less and less often. Both my best friend and trainer think he'll be ready to try First Level by June, and aiming for Second Level next year! Then depending on how he's doing, possibly start following my best friend on up the levels! She's taking her purebred and showing Prix St. George this year :D


Not a bunch to report since Tuesday. I worked late both Tuesday and Wednesday, so horse time was just feeding them and cleaning the barn. Yesterday Kaleb had basketball practice, so another day of feeding and cleaning. Tonight he has a basketball game, so again. Just feeding and cleaning lol tomorrow I have a meeting 3 hours from home at 2 pm, another at 3, and a banquet starting at 5. So busy day! If it's NOT raining, we are going to get up early and squeeze a ride in. But not holding my breath. It is currently raining. Sunday Nick says I definitely should be able to ride. No cantering, and possibly minimal trot. But I'll take what I can get!

Anyway, here's a cute picture I snapped of little dude Tuesday night <3

 

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We had a fun weekend! We didn't ride Saturday morning. Didn't feel like rushing it. Just fed them instead since I knew it'd be a late night. Went to our first meeting. People were apparently confused on the start time. It started at 2, but it was just the three of us (I brought Nick and Keegan) and then the group that always comes from further south. Since Nick and Keegan were our only non board members, we didn't really do the general meeting lol left that and headed to our banquet :) met up with a lot of the ladies I adore, and sat with Diego's old owner (both, but the father is who invited us to sit with them). I ended up having to run the elections, much to my horror. I hate speaking in front of people. I CAN do it, but I usually end up trembling by the end. All in all, it was a fun night. Nick and I both earned awards this year :) he won First Year Exhibitor for adults with Diego, and I won Sport Horse In Hand and Sport Horse Under Saddle with Izzie :) we won grooming totes!











Sunday we went and rode. Diego had a lovely surprise for me...





Took forever to clean him up. But I had nice rides on both horses! It was a bit slick, so didn't do much. But I'm happy it was good!

Syd rode Diego back to the barn. He looks like such a cute pony <3





Monday I drove past on my way home and saw he undid all my hard work... but only on one side. Jerk lol



Went to feed and he thought he could boss me around. No. So we had a lesson in personal space lol



But came to eat


Rode last night, and he had to put on his big kid pants. We left Izzie in the barn. We had a few spins, and a bit lookier/spookier than normal. But we did get some decent work in. Purposely no sound as I yelled at my children at one point lol


Planning to ride again tonight. Saturday I have my next lesson, so trying to see how much we can improve by then!
 

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Well, I rode the following night, and without Izzie again! He was MUCH better, and right off the bat. I'm really, really proud of him. He's having to grow up a lot with all of this, which is good for him.


He's looking pretty darn good too I think <3



And Izzie looks a bit crazy haha!



She enjoyed bathing in the sunshine Thursday though :)



Friday night Kaleb had his basketball game, so we went to that. Then Saturday was lesson day!!

He was HOT right off the bat when we went to get him. We danced all the way to where we had to wait for Nick. Seeing as he was muddy on his feet, I let him play in the creek to wash his legs off. He liked that a lot.


But he's not liking when we're stopped lately. He's always been an excellent traveler, but he's not enjoying leaving Izzie. Which is all the more reason to load him up and take him without her. Got in for my lesson, and it was my first lesson with tall boots on. Which I'm uncomfortable in them to begin with, and had never ridden Diego in them. But my trainer wants me to get used to them and start riding in them more. I got on and he was much better. Walked a bit, then started our stretchy trot. All was fine until another horse joined us. He lost. his mind. Not a little, but nearly bolting. Thankfully my trainer walked in at that exact moment and gave me exercises and tools to get him back thinking. Only took a couple of minutes, but soon we had a relaxed trot going again. It was a good lesson on dealing with stuff.

The other horse that came in was in a lesson with my trainer's daughter, who does barrel racing. The little girl was learning how to handle the barrels. So Diego also dealt with barrels in the arena. But by then he didn't even care. He handled that and the exercises around them, as well as a third horse joining us, the second horse leaving, and a doberman running across our path. It was an overall very good lesson! She complimented me on how far we've come not only in the two weeks since the last lesson, but since we started taking lessons. And I've only taken three so far! She's fixing me, which is helping Diego be better. And she complimented how much more over the back Diego was working too :) I'm so proud of him! She said our walk to trot transitions have significantly improved, and our trot to canter transitions are miles better than when we started. I'm just thrilled :) we have a schooling show this coming Saturday, where we will be showing Training Level Test 1 and Test 2. I'm pretty excited!

Clips from our lesson :)







 

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Whew, another week has gone by.

I rode last Monday, which was my only ride before hauling to the show. We both worked hard, and both were exhausted by the end of it. But it was good for us! He worked really well too.



The sunset was pretty too <3



It rained all day Tuesday and Wednesday. Kaleb was supposed to have basketball practice on Thursday, but it was cancelled. I wasn't going to ride anyway since it would have us doing three days in a row of work for Diego. And that's more than I wanted for him.

Friday we gave him a garage bath with a torpedo heater running lol he actually enjoyed it, and boy was he disgusting!! He needed the bath haha! He was so clean afterward! Haul him up and I walked him around while Nick readied his stall. Hurried and got him tacked up so we could ride before the arena closed. I had been hoping I could do a quick 15 minute ride. Hour and 15 minutes later, we found a brain. He was so bad. So so bad. Spooking at the other horses. Spooking at the doors/corners in the arena. Then we went into the show arena. Mirrors are TERRIFYING apparently. It was so rough. I finally found a brain, but it took so long to find it. I was so disappointed. Told Nick if this was how it was always going to be, Diego was going to burn me out of Dressage before we really even got our feet totally wet. That night I think my show anxiety got to me. I was up way early and felt horrible. I finally started feeling better, and left early. I was thanking everything that we had hauled him up the night before because the roads were horrible. I was in the truck and sliding everywhere on our road. And our road is the only road I've ever gotten nervous driving on in the snow. It's steep hills with sharp drop offs and no guardrail. So I'm not a fan. I did eventually make it there though! And found Diego super happy. Which I was also anxious about as he's a notorious stall walker, and why he almost always has hair missing from his face in show pictures... but his stall was pretty much pristine with very defined piles of poop. I was super happy! He looked happy too :)



I watched a lot of the show too, which was nice. A nice, heated viewing room right by the arena! I was seeing a lot of spooky horses, so I was not holding my breath AT ALL for my rides. But seeing seasoned horses acting up helped me realize I was in the right place for our first show lol Nick eventually made it up around lunch (he had a funeral visitation he wanted to attend before coming up), and we started to get little guy ready. I had to snap this as I thought he looked pretty darn good!



I opted to do a running braid as I haven't practiced with him in buttons. And with so much changing... I didn't want to do something different! Goal is to try them between now and the next show (March 7th). At this point my only goal was to keep him between me and the ground. I was certain it was going to go horribly.

My best friend showed up shortly after I had hopped on and been walking him around. He actually had a brain, which Nick said he was completely different than the night before. She helped warm us up, which was good. She noticed a few things that came out that didn't normally come out in lessons, so she's already reported back to my trainer with what we need to work on. One being to uncover the mirrors for our lessons, and my best friend will ride another horse with us and "crowd" us a bit to get him used to it. Warmup was much, much better than the night before. We lacked forward a lot though, which was a downside. He tends to curl when he's not forward enough thanks to his Western Pleasure background. But we ended up going about 20 minutes early for my ride! I was a bit shocked! We go in and I tell the judge right off the bat this was his first Dressage show ever (yes, we did ride one test last year, but at an Arabian show and I promise this is a completely different ballgame; so for all intents and purposes I considered this his first show). The table was terrifying since they had a table cloth on it. He actually got over it pretty quickly, but would suck back a smidge when coming at it in the test. Better than the horses that I know are more seasoned who went sideways by it...

We did Training Level Test 1 and Test 2. His second test was better and I felt him come over his back more often and relax a lot more, but our canter transitions were not that great. Still a work in progress. Nick did record both of them, from the heated viewing room :)



After my tests, we took advantage of another horse in there, and stood talking for a bit. Diego HATES horses going behind him, but by the end he was on a loose rein, hoof cocked, and half asleep. I was happy! Nick came to find us though since we were in there for so long, oops lol I asked if he got our tests. He said yeah. I said what did we get (meaning scores). He said "dead last." I told him I expected that, but what were our scores? He laughed and said "actually, you won." I said he was lying, what were my scores? He said "I'm completely serious. You wont them both with a 66% and 65%." I for one could not believe it. So I was shocked when I realized he was indeed serious! The judge was super kind with us. And said she better see us more often throughout the year! The scribe was in our warm room afterward (we were in the outdoor barn) and said she absolutely loved our little Arab, that once he gets consistent he'll be unstoppable. My best friend turned to me and said "SEE! Our trainer isn't lying to you!" :rofl: also no, we were not the only entries lol there were four of us in Training Level Test 1 (I beat the second place horse by 1 point, but the others were 17.5-30.5 points behind me (66.154, 59.808, and 54.808) and Test 2 had two entries (second place was 13 points behind me with a 61.034)

So yeah. The show went FAR better than I expected. Do I expect these scores in our first rated show? No. But it was the confidence booster I needed. Especially that the night before can be absolutely horrible and I can still go out and do a respectable test!









Now he gets a couple days off, and probably going to do walk work since we need to improve our walk and our halts lol
 

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Obviously I suck at updating things haha!

I popped onto the Confessions thread a little while ago, but been almost a year since I updated my journal. Oops!!

There have been a huge amount of changes this past year. Obviously COVID made a huge impact. I was stuck at home for a couple months, though fortunately I was deemed critical so I was paid while home. Kids haven't really returned to regular school. They were doing 2-3 days a week (yes, alternating Wednesdays because that isn't confusing at all!!), but we are back to all virtual until MAYBE Monday. But I'm not holding our breath. Our governor is very strict with all the regulations. It helps that for the most part my husband and I are hermits. Sure we've gone to some horse shows, and we've gone to work. But actually having contact with people has been very minimal lol it helps that in general we aren't people persons (I struggled with how to term this haha!) Anyway, on the job front my very beloved sponsor/boss left. We'd gotten a new contractor that was consistently making issues. Our manager stepped in and she's better now, but she's a bit too outspoken in the political sense where I am not. And her views are very different than mine, which makes work stressful when we have to be in the lab together. I've been working on shutting any/all political talk down as I don't feel that's right to have in the workplace. Anyway, after my boss/sponsor left, we got a replacement. Who is SUPER sweet as well and I do like her a lot. But a lot has fallen on me as she's not familiar with our lab work. So that's left me as the sole knowledgeable person in our lab. Which yeah, awesome for job security. But it puts a lot of pressure on me as well. I'm doing projects I shouldn't normally be doing, but since I'm the only one with the understanding to do them, it's completely on me. I look forward to her being in the lab and being more comfortable with everything.

On the horse front, there's been a whole lot of development.

Izzie was bred on April 21/22, so we are expecting our first foal in a couple months. Everyone is incredibly excited for it! Nick in particular as he's claimed the baby as his. Though he says if baby moves like Izzie, I'm expected to get lessons with my trainer and get us coming along to show it in dressage lol I love how much faith he has in me! She's been handling the pregnancy super well for the most part. She's Izzie, so we didn't expect attitude changing for the better, but she's herself lol she's getting wide as a house. It's amusing really lol I'll have to make a couple posts to really update everything that's been going on, so I guess this one will be the Izzie post!

Izzie did show in a couple shows this year. Mainly just in hand, but she did show walk walk with Sydney back in November. I don't know if any of you have seen the run away saddlebred video where she's talking over the runaway and they were excused, but that was in this ring. Which makes me anxious since Izzie is a lot of horse, and I've never turned Izzie and Sydney loose together at a show. She sure showed me! I can about promise you that Izzie was the only horse in that ring that would have get up and go, and by far the most difficult out of the others. There were seven entries, and Sydney got sixth. She was SUPER proud, and we sure were too! She didn't have much instruction, so the judge let me just hang in the ring with her. It's a schooling show, so kind of an "anything goes" deal. Still, I didn't expect her to place since I coached the whole time, but eh! I'm still proud :) Kaleb also won first place showing Izzie in hand, and both kids showed Izzie in trail in hand :) she's seriously just the best nugget!




The kids have also been playing with the two of them at home. I was wary to let Kaleb take Diego out to play, but it seems we have his issues resolved in hand at home. Just at a show he becomes a complete and total idiot in the ring in hand. I'm just glad my kids can play with them at home! Kaleb said he likes doing this kind of stuff, so we figure when Izzie comes back into work, we'll let Kaleb show her in the in hand stuff :D



And a couple from yesterday where you can see how chunky she is lol



Give me a bit, and I'll begin all of Diego's adventures this year. He's had far more going on lol
 

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Whew, next part! Though Diego's may need to be broken up into two of his own haha! Ok, probably not, I'm too lazy for that lol

So after that show in February, we showed once more before COVID hit. We scored roughly the same with more competition, and wound up third out of I think six. Not bad at all for being completely on our own (my best friend ended up sick and couldn't come assist us). Obviously COVID hit. We still went to a couple lessons here and there, but not as many as I wanted. We showed again in June, but he'd knocked himself so out of alignment it was not the best showing. Of course we only realized this as we asked for the canter in the show since he's a rather stoic boy. The judge adored him regardless. Got a first and a second with high 60% scores under an Arabian National level judge. So I figured that wasn't too shabby! Our next outing was at another Arab show. Our first class was nice and we were SO excited for our second and final class. The arena is open on one side, and wouldn't you know my luck but to have a neighbor begin mowing his yard and run something over causing a huge ruckus right as we turned down centerline. Needless to say, that was our worst Dressage test ever. The weekend after we had a lesson where we had a major boot camp to get us going in the right direction. My trainer keeps saying "you need to stop riding like you are a low level rider. I expect you to ride like an upper level rider. I want you hitting that centerline like you are heading down that centerline in a Grand Prix test. No more slacking off. You aren't staying in these levels much longer." I have witnesses to these comments too, and both Nick and my best friend remind me of them when we work ;)

Anyway, weekend after my lesson was our very first USDF show. We had a nice warmup ride the night before to remind ourselves that no, the ring isn't terrifying. No, the flowers will not kill you. And yes, you are expected to still work. My best friend showed her horse, jumped off him, and warmed me up for my class. She mentioned her horse didn't enjoy the huge door open with the blast of light coming in, so to be aware of that. Diego wasn't phased by that OR the clear panel separating the judge and the scribe, whew. I had my best friend be my reader as they were not allowing anyone to watch otherwise. I wanted to make sure she knew what I'd need to tweak before our second test, so opted to forgo doing it on my own as planned. We had the TD record our classes so my husband could at least watch (it was his idea to have my best friend read for me). Our first test he was great, and we only lost by less than .4%. The second test was even better. So much so that my friend as we walked back to the barn went "I'd change this, this, and this, but this is literally all nitpicky stuff and I'm so glad I get to just do nitpicky stuff after that class." We waited for the scores to be posted on Fox Village while we packed up and got ready to leave. My best friend had stayed to help me long after her last ride, and waited till the scores were posted. I SCREAMED when I saw we'd won! Again, the second place girl was less than .4% behind me (same girl as the last test), and we beat the score of a trainer (they ran adult amateurs separate from open riders). It was a shock and we were SOOO excited to tell my trainer! Nick couldn't stop telling me how proud he was of me :) we also got a score toward USDF Regionals, so aiming to get our second score this year to head there in October :)

The rides from that show:



I haven't had another show since then, so we've just been working our butts off. I guess I forgot to mention previously that we got our fancy arena done :) it needs a bit of work, but all those months Nick has spent digging with his new tractor paid off. I have a safe place to ride all year long now!



Last month at my best friends urging, we put together a video showing the massive change Diego and I have made from our first lesson to the one we had this last November. Mind you, this was maybe a dozen lessons. We were supposed to have a lesson in December, however my trainer ended up catching COVID. She's fine now, thank goodness!


Diego also got a couple surprises lately :) we were named the Majestic Farm Series 1 Champion for Training Level :) not a bad way to end our Schooling Show training level rides! We'll still show Training Level at rated shows this year since we want to do USDF Regionals and Sport Horse Nationals. Being legit pony size and former western pleasure makes his lengthening a bit tough to get a true lengthening as opposed to just running away with me. We don't want to be that horse just careening around the arena and essentially drifting around the corners ;) our goal though is to show at least one First Level test at Sport Horse Nationals in September (best friend said it's very doable), with sights on Second Level for next year.




We also got this awesome thing in the mail too! The Working Western is actually for showing Trail In Hand :)



Couple more cute pictures of him. I finally bought this one I just had to have because he's so adorable in it!



And all our Christmas gifts this year :)







And finally, our last lesson. Aiming for another soon. There is nothing more valuable than consistent instruction. Keeps you humble and keeps you going in the right direction! Diego is a typical main ring bred Arabian where he is a bunch of extra hinges in his neck. It makes them so insanely difficult to get them really working correctly and not bulging that under neck. One of the things we've really, really been working on is making sure Diego goes into self carriage and stays there. Our canter has progressed so rapidly that she essentially just does a small tweak with us, and then we go back to focusing on the walk and trot work. She had me give the entire inside rein up to his ears as proof of being in self carriage. Said this will be asked of us in Third Level. Yes, both reins are expected to be given, but Diego right now is in the cementing the correct basics spot while we add on the different movements. Depending on the day, we've worked on Shoulder In, Walk Pirouettes, Counter Canter (he's very good at this now that he's gotten his balance established at the canter), and we've done a couple quarter turns in the canter to build up to the Canter Pirouettes. No, we aren't schooling the Canter Pirouettes since he's not there and we need to really establish the groundwork for them first, but when we did the quarter turns it was incredible to feel how much he sat and turned for them. I did finally get to ride a canter pirouette this year on my trainer's Arab x Percheron cross, though my husband didn't get video. Yes, he was fussed at for that too. Though I had witnesses to show I did in fact do it ;) it allowed me to have a better understanding of what Diego will have to do and feel like.

I will say, a lot of work lately has been really focusing on my seat controlling the ride and not the reins. She makes sure my body is engaged and I have the right contact with Diego for all of it. Making sure my legs stay on and that I ask through my seat. We've really been working on Diego and I grasping the lift and push to allow his haunches to lower and him to really lift off his forehand and push through with the hind. We had quite a few moments in our lesson where our trainer exclaimed that we'd gotten it! It makes me so proud that we are really grasping what she's teaching us, and that we are showing up for our lessons better than the last time we were there! It helps that I have a best friend who analyzes my videos and sends me private critiques on what to tweak for my next ride so we can be better. My husband has also gained a very valuable eye for a nice transition, and if it isn't up to my trainer's snuff, he makes me do it again (I'm usually in the processes of going back to redo it). His eye has been even more fun to watch other rider's videos too. He'll make a comment going "that was a terrible transition. I'd have made you redo that one." No, we don't watch videos to bash other riders, but I'm also not going to tell my husband to not make his eyes more keen. My best friend thinks it's hilarious he's gained such an eye, though we can promise you he couldn't ride it to save his life. But that's fine with me since it helps us get better! I'm just VERY glad I've found a trainer that believes that I'm more than just some "low level rider" and sees what Diego and I are on the track to become. We just came with a bit of extra baggage :)

Also, my lesson videos will never have sound. I figure I'm paying for the lesson, and I'm not even paying much for what I'm getting. So it's not my knowledge to share with everyone :)






 

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Discussion Starter · #1,329 ·
@knightrider, sorry about that! Most of the people have me on the book of faces, which is easier since my phone doesn't hate that haha! And work being stupidly busy/stressful made me not feel like posting. Then it got to be too long and I knew it'd be a lot to update lol

I rode little dude last night, and he was good. He's always fussy the first ride after a lesson since the rules get stricter, and home was always where he could slack off. But we've been making him stick with the work. Nick was amazed at the change in Diego after that lesson. We kept with the uphill trot to canter transition, stayed in the uphill canter, checked our work with releasing the inside rein to ensure he was in self carriage, and then had nice uphill downward transitions. Nick remarked that every single time we come home from a lesson we're doing better. I said I would hope so! Tentative goal is to aim to show Second Level in a schooling show end of this year. We'll see how that goes! He's starting to really grasp that lengthening =/= running faster, and we've been working on getting more overall push from the behind to work our way up to the medium trot. His canter itself is very, very adjustable, which is awesome considering in the beginning it was either running or the hideous four beat lope they made him do. Now I just open my seat and his stride increases. It's actually a fun ride to feel. I half halt to sit him back more, open my seat, and he sits, lifts and lengthens. His shoulder in work was lovely last night too. Our arena has some puddles, and we've been able to remain in a soft shoulder in going straight through the puddle. Amazing for a horse that used to want to kill me over water ;) Nick didn't record anything last night since the water needed refilling, fence needed tweaking, and the barn needed cleaning.

Izzie just got her lunge, which Nick found hilarious. She jigs out (respectfully) ready to go. Turn her loose, and she's off. Does what she wants, then comes back to a walk. Change direction and same thing. Once she's done that, she walks back to the barn on a loose line and ready to be tucked in for bed. So I'm hopeful we'll keep with the smooth sailing here on out :)

She did get a fancy new turnout sheet too. She's never needed one before, but the huge spikes and drops in temperature has made her chilly on the super cold days. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were brutal, and she only had stable blankets. So they stayed in so she could stay warm. Which wasn't bad since everything was ice and no one got hurt. But the blanket is just too adorable for words! I'm glad I snatched it up!



Won't be riding tonight since Nick is hunting. He's getting in the last days he can for that so we can stock up our freezer. Also getting half a cow this year (woohoo!!) and still on the hunt for another pig lol told Nick we've gotta up our gardening game this year so we can have more fresh fruits and veggies. We already buy awesome farm fresh eggs from his cousin, who has completely ruined us on store bought eggs. SOO worth it to pay the extra dollar or two for fresh eggs!
 

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@carshon, thank you! I'm INCREDIBLY proud of how far we've come :) we aren't finished yet, but I feel he's really grasping the basics so we may begin building onto it. His canter has gotten so balanced now that it's such a joy to ride!


I did end up riding last night. Nick had to run an errand so couldn't hunt. It was rough to start with. He came out spooky and just completely distracted. By the end I had him right where I wanted him, all nice and relaxed. I did mention to Nick I think he knocked his stifle out again. He has a chiropractor appointment set for the 16th, and I've gotten to know how he feels when he's knocked himself out back there. He regularly knocks his pelvis and stifles out, so it's not surprising to be honest. He ended up having a massage last night too. She raved about how good he looks and she was SUPER impressed to find no muscle tightness or anything showing we're doing something very wrong. She did confirm the stifle is an issue currently, and massaged it best she could. Also did a myofascial release on his hind end to see if it'll help him pull it back into place. He'll have another massage morning of his chiropractor appointment to help the adjustment stay in place. Ah the joys of a young horse!

I did buy a couple pictures from our photographer. I liked the framing of the under saddle picture even though that show was awful. That's the one where the neighbor's lawn mower started up right as we turned down centerline. No, we aren't perfect at all. But I'm humble enough to know I'll never get anywhere without good instruction. Diego isn't easy, but he's not dangerous. He's just a typical Arabian who finds a million and a half evasions to pull on me, and all those are with what he can do with his neck haha! But I'm excited about our next lesson :)





My pony also clearly hates me ;)

 

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So I rode all of once last week, and it was just so bad. I could feel stuff was just not right with Diego. And since he came with the habit of rearing, and he was starting to think about that tactic again, we aborted mission, found a good way to end the ride, and we hung up our tack until he saw his chiropractor. Certainly glad I did that thought (details to follow).

In the meantime, we got busy!

Friday evening we went and picked up all the tin needed to redo Nick's detached garage, as well as put tin up in the spot next to Izzie. We're starting to work toward phase 2 of the barn, which is put the loft up over both sides of the current hay loft, and actually making those two spaces on either side of the tack/feed room into stalls. We will need a stall for baby to go into to eat grain (when ready) away from Izzie, so best to start on it now. And give us a smaller space for them in the event we ever have to actually stall rest them.

Saturday morning we went and picked up our half of a cow from the butcher. Filled a good chunk of our deep freezer! SUPER happy about it! Afterward we brought the ponies up to the house. Izzie was visibly cold, so blankets were brought home to toss on after tail washing. But first, Diego had a massage. Nick made sure to heat up our garage so we were nice and toasty in there! After his massage we washed their tails really well (we're redoing them about every three weeks, and I'm already seeing and feeling a difference; can't wait till we have blinding white tails for Sport Horse Nationals!) While they were air drying, I pulled their manes. Diego is always a butt about it, but Izzie ends up falling asleep lol once tails were dry and rewrapped, on the trailer they went for Diego's chiropractor appointment. Both horses came with as we didn't have time to drop Izzie off. The chiro was SUPER happy to see her anyway, and she got extra treats "for her and the baby" <3 he loves that mare. Diego showed me I truly know my horse, and to have worked him like this would have been completely unfair. Before anyone thinks we are doing something wrong to cause him to be THIS out... you all know how goats jump around and spin in a circle all wild and crazy? That is exactly how Diego plays outside. We call him an idiot because we're constantly dropping $70 to put him back together. He gets adjusted just about monthly, if not every other month. He also roars up the hillside. Great for helping develop hind end muscles, terrible when he comes roaring back down the hill.



Afterward we tucked them in with dinner and hay with their warm blankies. Nick called them spoiled haha





Sunday we went down to celebrate my best friend's birthday, which was a blast. Came home and put up our new hay net inside the hay rack in an effort to slow Izzie down on her hay as well as keep from wasting SO MUCH of it. She would blow through over a bale of hay a day, and she's barely 15 hands. She was throwing a lot on the ground, and then just not eating it. She wasn't thrilled.



Monday we hung up tin on Nick's detached garage. Also I rode little man while Syd rode Izzie. Diego still felt a bit protective of his hind end, so we kept it short and sweet. He's already a difficult horse to supple through the rib cage coming from a place that never emphasized that, so having a week off made him a lot stiffer. Combined with still feeling like he was a touch ouchie, and I got what he was willing to give and was happy with it. Our next ride will be better (not till Thursday; working late today and tomorrow). But Sydney was super cute. Bareback pad, halter and rope reins, and catching snowflakes aboard the largely pregnant mare made for the cutest video ever <3


And the before and after with some of the tin. I wasn't overly fond of the color, but it'll grow on me. It creates a completely different look for Nick's detached garage. Eventually we will replace the roof so it's not such a stark contrast, but the roof is still in great shape. No sense replacing what doesn't need to be replace ;)

Before:





After (the spot left undone on the first picture is where the electric comes in for the garage. Nick is leaving that till last so we can finish all the different cuts we will have to make):





And finally, Diego and I got nominated for year end awards!! I was nominated for Dressage rider, and he was nominated for Purebred Arabian (his show name is Arkynstone). My friend's large filly was also nominated for Half Arabian (her show name is A Little Bit Naughty) and he was nominated for Amateur (Keegan).




That's about it! Not much else is going on. I'm about to unfriend some people on the book of faces for being two faced/spying on me for people who tried to screw us over. And then I have someone who is hiding everything on their timeline as opposed to just unfriending me lol I laughed about it for a while since that's the route people take when they don't have the guts to just unfriend them. It's cracked me and Nick up long enough, but it's time to do a thorough purge on there anyway. Lots of people I just don't need to interact with anymore.
 

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Whew, been crazy here! Nick's grandpa passed away last Thursday evening. Mostly unexpected, but he hadn't been in the greatest health either (hard to explain). I told Nick I hoped he either got better and got out soon, or if this was the end that it was quick and painless. It ended up the latter, and they say he went very peacefully in his sleep. His body was riddled with cancer and an infection came on (he'd had a catheter for a super long time and was constantly fighting infection). It ended up being more than his body could take. But we were comforted with the thought of my grandpa meeting him with a cold beverage going "Leonard, how have you been?", which is how he greeted Nick's grandpa every time they got together. It made my MIL smile when I brought that up and she went "They did like each other a lot, didn't they?" Yes, yes they did. Both were incredibly wonderfully people, and the world will always be a little less sunny without them gracing it.

We also had my SIL's baby shower Friday. All virtual, though us sister in laws got together for the filming/present dispersal. It was a lovely evening :) Saturday we spent 6 hours hanging up tin on the garage and I went down to ride. Our rides have been eh lately, but I'll dive into that later. Our garage is really coming along though! Sunday was another ride, but mostly just hiding inside.

Worked late Monday and Tuesday, then off yesterday for the visitation and funeral mass. The priest knew Nick's grandpa personally, so it was a wonderful mass all about how amazing he was. Came home and rode, then we got snow dumped on us haha!

So our rides. We've been just having eh ride after eh ride. I wasn't sure if he was still out, though it didn't feel like it. I did a lot of self evaluation yesterday when stuff that was easy was just flat out HORRIBLE. Realized I was asking him to go down and into the contact, but wasn't actually giving him a space to GO into the contact. Not sure why I suddenly start riding crappy like that when I know better. I did tell myself though "this is good. this is a me issue, not a him issue. this is fixable, and I have a lesson on Saturday. Kim will fix me." Once I actually LET GO, he was wonderful. He actually had the space to allow him to power with his hind and lift through his back/lift up through the withers. Felt MARVELOUS. He's honestly pretty easy to feel when he lifts his back. Being a low backed horse in general causes that feel to be a little more heightened. I blame his years of a western saddle and not being taught to use his back on him being low backed now. We are very mindful when working too. We work REALLY hard to not have him hollow himself out heading into a transition. Starting the next movement with the head flinging in the air will just end up causing more work for me. But if I can get him to step up and through into each new movement lets it continue being nice. I'd be so mortified if I posted anything with his head flinging straight up in the air going into something new. To me, it's a sign they aren't even really with you, regardless of how nice and "put together" they look. Diego also has a tendency to have that gelding "squeak" when he tightens his back. It used to be all I could do to get him to not do it in the first place, and forget trying to get him to relax again after he decided to tighten it. However, I'm SUPER proud to be able to say I can get him back and relaxed whenever he slips into that tight back/gelding squeak moment. As far as riding, we've been keeping it simple with just some leg yields and lengthening. I was SO SO proud of him when I asked for a canter lengthen, then half halted, closed my seat and asked for him to come back to a more collected canter, and he NAILED it. I went NUTS with the praise telling him he was SUCH a GOOD BOY and what a GOOD LISTEN! Nick said he had the proudest look on his face like "I did it!!" He's also getting fantastic that as soon as I make my clear turn onto the diagonal line (NO DONUT TURNS!) and ask, I feel his haunches power us into the lengthen. He still tries to fall a little onto his forehand when he gets going in them, but I've gotten better at my half halt timing which has prevented a lot of that. We've been doing the exercise of lengthen and then almost walk but not quite at the end so he doesn't just think tanking around the arena is an acceptable thing to do.

Overall though, he's a good boy. I'm sure excited for my lesson on Saturday! I wish I could accurately describe how crooked he tries to make his body, and how it's such a tough time getting him to not shove it every which way. Though, to be fair, I'm ok with that now. He started out with me being as straight as a two by four. So now that he's learning he can in fact bend through his body, this is just another of his evasion techniques. I swear riding an Arabian somedays is like trying to ride a noodle!

Anyway, onto the fun pictures and such :)

Our updated garage:

Before:


After:


Nick also put tin up where a gate was in the barn. Give Izzie a bit more shelter from the wind. She loves it :)



Diego watching Nick work lol (yes, we filled the water tank, of course)



Diego got two new saddle pads because why not haha!





And made fun collages of all his looks lol the first is Equestrian Stockholm pads, second is PS of Sweden pads



 

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@carshon, he's such a little ham! And yes we are! I prefer being busy, so I'm alright with it :) and thank you! It's kind of fun to scroll back through and see where we started and where we are now! SUPER proud of our journey!


Not really any update today. I rode last night and some was fantastic and some was just not. I have my lesson tomorrow to figure out if I'm the reason it's been so bad (90+% chance it's me and I'll own it lol) or if he's knocked himself back out of alignment (he sees the chiro on Wednesday, so already have that on the books). I'm just REALLY looking forward to my lesson though! I strive to improve and get better, and I know I will get there! We're supposed to show next Saturday, but haven't signed up yet and it's calling for snow on that Friday, when we'd be hauling in. Waiting till Monday to decide if we will or not. I refuse to haul in the snow, so it has to change weather wise for us to go. Rain I don't mind hauling in, but our roads are super sketchy in the winter.

Izzie's just plugging along currently too. Loving life lol she'll move home in about a month and a half for foaling out, and I'm pretty excited to have her at the house :) her and Diego don't really spend much time together currently since she's locked in her side of the barn, and he's free to go graze. He prefers being outside, which I don't blame him at all.

Excited though. We bought Sydney her own pad for her birthday (I'll post later lol). Her birthday isn't until June, but PS of Sweden pads are never restocked. So it was now or never. In addition, after we wean baby we're going to start bringing Izzie up for lessons with Sydney <3 my trainer teaches kids that age, and I want her to have the best start possible. Kim is a fantastic instructor, so I'm pretty stoked!
 

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Well, I had my lesson and confirmed it was most definitely me. Diego came out "wired for sound" as my best friend's mom said. Everything was going to eat him apparently and his focus was totally not there. I'd already told my trainer we desperately needed her, that I'd fallen into some horrible rut and was having terrible rides. She figured out right off the bat that I was holding too tightly, and that I had locked my elbows completely. I was basically always cueing him and giving him zero release. Thank goodness he's such a good sport about life in general and isn't a dangerous horse at all. Just a typical Arabian who can't be drilled as their minds need to stay busy and occupied. It was a great lesson though. Found a couple things we need to fix before we make our jump up to First Level. Mostly our transitions were good, but coming across the diagonal and trotting at X is hit and miss on a nice transition. So I'm to practice that more. Practiced better turns off the outside aids to make a nice, clean turn onto the diagonal. Trot we did okay with a clean turn onto the diagonal, but canter needs work. Not oh my god they were so terrible, but room for improvement so we do well. I tend to still drop my left hand too much going left, and inadvertently pulling him down and onto his forehand. So I NEED to get that better as it's just flat out annoying to me now that I keep doing it. Worked on my sitting trot, which isn't as good on Diego as it is on Izzie, but I'm getting a bit better at it. Need to incorporate yoga into my daily exercising so I can loosen my hips more.

All in all though, I'm thrilled with him. I'd been saying it was me, so I had a feeling going in it'd mostly be about me. I never blame my horse, and even if I do it's in a "he needs a chiropractor adjustment" kind of way. Never "he's being such a rotten jerk!" He does like to find new evasions though. Like his newest one is "oh, I'll break at the third vertebrae!" Like no Diego. Please ignore that majority of main ring Arabians break there. We don't do that and have NEVER asked you to do that. So worked on some exercises to get him to go out into the contact. He's not a put him into the contact and he'll stay there kind of horse. You have to ride and work with him. Thankfully he doesn't usually come up with a million evasions to try and get away with stuff. Majority of the Arab evasions involve contorting their neck and through their body. Can't have them coming up and over their backs through the base of their withers and all the way to the contact if their neck is reminiscent of a snake slithering along the desert! Izzie isn't nearly as tricky when it comes to this kind of work, but she doesn't have all the extra hinges Diego has. Diego is such a good boy though. He's adding a bit more power to his lengthening that had my trainer going "there you go Katie! You've got it!" Considering it was all we could do to get him to lengthen in the beginning, it's HUGE for him to be moving out like that. I think the collected work will end up being so much easier for him from his short coupled body, and the fact that his gaits were essentially shut down when he was a western horse.

Anyway, a couple of videos I spliced together :) not in any particular order with how I jumbled them together. The one with music I made for our farm page since I found the song super fitting for how the lesson felt. I saw clearly it was me, and Nick saw what our trainer meant with the third vertebrae so he can be my eyes on the ground (though that I can easily see from above).





My friend Caitln also had lessons on her horses. Her young horse is looking SO nice (she's coming four and will be looking at the young horse championships this year). Her purebred gelding is currently schooling some of the upper level movements, and is already qualified for USDF Regionals in Fourth Level and PSG with great scores. I just love watching this team go <3 such a pleasant horse and rider team where you can see the horse actually loves his job and understands all the different movements. He wasn't just shoved into upper level movements without a solid foundation, and one of the big time judges wrote it was very clear his basics were very solid and he was brought along correctly. So proud to be in their fan club!

 

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Not a huge update really. Haven't ridden since the weather has been gross and my arena is frozen. Diego saw the chiropractor on Wednesday and wasn't super out at least. Was hoping to ride today but the wind is completely horrific!

Izzie gifted us with some awesome scrapes on the inside of her left hind. Not even sure HOW she did it either. It was slightly swollen, so I wrapped them up. Had a small scrape on the right hind, so wrapped both. Otherwise, she's just happy living life right now!





Hoping to ride tomorrow. Fingers heavily crossed!
 

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So we tried a trail ride on Saturday and Izzie said NO! Being that she is not one to heavily say no (she loves her work), I figured it best to listen to her and she will enjoy her leisure till after baby and after recovery. I was a little concerned since Nick rode Diego, who I have not ridden since my lesson on the 30th. Nick has also not been on a horse since September of 2019, soooo. And please please please keep in mind that Nick IS a beginner. This video was a short bit of their ride, where I did have him working on getting Diego to relax. Diego is one who needs a bunch of transitions in the beginning to activate his brain, and being that he had had an entire week off he was a bit on the tense side. It's very, very important to get him stretching out and down when he's like that, which Nick did accomplish with some guidance. Nick was also so thrilled to see that Diego was all foamy when he got off, and not a foamy from chomping on the bit in agitation but because Nick succeeded in getting him to relax and work over his back at the end. Something Nick has never accomplished on either horses. He was shocked how much more rhythmic Diego has gotten since he last rode him. The last ride was before I started taking lessons, and Nick worried he'd mess Diego up. I promised that Diego always starts the same way regardless how good or bad the ride was before, so I knew he'd be fine. The new saddle also got the stamp of approval from hubby ;) it just makes me so proud that I've been working hard enough to actually have my horses rideable for people outside of me. I think it's a huge detriment to the horse to keep them as only good for their owner rider. I've felt this way since we broke Izzie, and it's why I usually let anyone hop on and ride her. A lot of them are shocked, but there isn't much someone can mess up of my work, or at least set me back any.

Anyway, please also realize the video from the trail ride was prior to arena work, and Diego was HOT. Nick did good not letting him run off.



Also, pictures of the cute, pregnant, sassy mare lol



 

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So the weather kept me from riding essentially since my last post. I did get two snow rides in, but not much of rides. On Saturday we had a saddle fitting appointment in addition to a lesson. Diego lost some curve to his spine, and the only thing we could all figure is he's not hollowing out as much through his back, and the muscle is building up nicely under there! My saddle fitter asked how the side to side balance felt, but with me being very crooked (I have a curve in my spine that I'll eventually need to take care of; my grandma's rib cage sits on her pelvis at this point in her life) I have a hard time feeling it. My best friend hopped on him to feel it and found it being unbalanced. It was adjusted, I got on and it felt good. She got on and ended up getting a bit of a lesson on my little dude. He was completely unamused that she didn't let him get away with anything, but she had him going SO nice! I got on after for my own lesson and kept it up for the most part. They had struggled with a lot of the same things I have to deal with when first starting. He starts very tensed and locked through his back and the base of the neck. If you don't get that supple, you aren't going to get any work out of him. It was reassuring to see it wasn't just a me issue, though I take the blame for most of our issues in general.





This one I actually left sound in because it cracked me up so much lol


And working a little on the walk pirouette. These aren't things I've really schooled before going to her, so I'm mostly a mess. But we actually had good steps in there and helping me to gain a better understanding of what he needs to be doing. We aren't perfect, but we try and we at least are humble enough to know we need proper instruction if we ever want to continue forward.


I did ride yesterday and while we didn't get AS good as we got in our lessons, it was the closest we've ever been. I seriously adore my husband though. We worked on cantering across the diagonal with the trot over X and going to the other lead, which I'll need to do in the first level tests. Some of my earlier transitions were kind of yucky and I didn't know what I was doing. Fortunately Nick has benefited from my lessons. He goes "I see what you're doing. You're dropping him onto the forehand and throwing him away as soon as you make your turn across the diagonal. He can't actually sit and transition nicely into the trot when you do that to him." So, I listened, made a very nice, clear turn onto the diagonal (my trainer rips me a new one if I do a partial circle onto it as opposed to a clean turn), and consciously rode him up like I normally would. Closed my seat to cue for the downward, and I had him so right there we walked. Oops, that was on me, good boy Diego for being that keen on my aids! Did it a couple more times and each time both transitions in and out of canter were lovely. Nick was like "man, I'd call that a day. Those were really nice." It's really exciting to see the super nice horse coming out of him. I'd always seen the potential in him as an unstarted 2 year old, but it's exciting to be the one developing it. Will we make it to FEI levels? Who knows. His neck is low set and he's downhill. But he has a whole lot of heart and try in him, so if I can get my own butt in gear, I think we may at least work up the levels and have a blast doing it!

In Izzie news, we're going to be moving her to the house in just shy of three weeks in preparation of baby! We finally got video of baby kicking Izzie too :)

 

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Not a huge update really. I did get to ride twice since my lesson on Saturday :) slowly getting better I think. I've been trying to focus on unlocking my pelvis. I'm not even aware I'm doing it, but my friend's horse had shown me previously that I tend to lock up. Then Saturday she showed me it's still me on my own horse when he had no issue with forward with her and the she found him quite sensitive to the leg. Which led me to realizing I basically ride with the parking brake on. Yesterday was spent working on really relaxing my pelvis and sitting into the saddle as opposed to just on the saddle. Walk and canter were easiest for me, though the canter confused Diego endlessly. But I felt his back swinging SO nicely when he realized I wasn't clamping down on him. It was hands down the nicest feeling canter I've had on him, and then opening up to ask for a lengthen canter led to a very large lengthen down my long side. I was pleased! The trot I tend to pull my legs up, especially in the lengthen trot. When I myself stayed nice and long for a decent lengthen trot, I called it a day and let him be done. I'm excited to keep working on it! I've been working out to a lady I found on YouTube, and she's helping me find all the weaknesses I've had in my body and working to strengthen them. My best friend is also working out to her, and found where she was weak. Hoping this year is our best year ever in terms of showing!

And a fun little video clip :) this is the horse that used to be petrified of water. Yeah, we cantered through that ;)

 
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