Princess Mode

((Sorry for the lack of media this week. I will attempt to remedy this in my next post.))

This week has been one steaming pile of crap (save for Wednesday when I got to meet Scarlet from thehorsedream). I didn’t really want to write about this because it really got me down yesterday but I think it’s good to ‘vent’. I’ve really been dragging ass all week. It’s not normal for me to have zero energy day after day but this week really sucked it out of me. Which is why I almost cancelled my lesson yesterday and I probably should have. I really didn’t have the energy to sit in 2 hours of traffic for a 6:30pm lesson but I did it because I’m supposed to be bringing Aria home on Sunday and I want to get in as much supervised riding time as possible with her.

She came out of her stall happy to see me and suffered her grooming good-naturedly (I don’t think she really likes being groomed). I tacked her up as usual. P and I agreed she was going to give us a good ride. We always discuss with Aria if she’s going to be a baby or a grown up for us that day. She’s an open book, so it’s very easy to tell. Definitively we knew she was going to put on her Pull-ups for this lesson.

She started off on the lunge beautifully. She was light in my hand and working at a nice slow rhythm. I was excited to get another good ride in. Then R came out of the house and headed towards the arena. This made Aria lose it. She started bolting around and bucking. I got her to settle a bit and then continued to lunge her but she was really tearing around and finding any excuse to not settle back into that nice relaxed movement we had earlier. R was advising me on how to handle her and started ‘back seat’ lunging, which I absolutely don’t mind. I’m very used to a trainer that reinforces cues I’m giving with their own vocal aids. Especially in this case where R has done all of Aria’s training.

We spent several minutes working together, R giving vocal cues and me backing them up with a physical cue if Aria chose to ignore. At this point Aria had decided that any sweet demeanor she had coming into this lesson was long gone. She was all piss and vinegar and made sure we knew it. But I wasn’t concerned. She has shown over the last two months that her attitude is manageable and her brain stays on. R told me to lunge her until she was tired and after I hopped on without any concern.

She was all hot and bothered, taking forever to flex properly. I spent time walking her and it didn’t take long for her to get that relaxed swinging walk. Then I asked for a trot and it started okay, you know, for a horse that is really full of themselves. I worked on getting her to slow down and bend around my leg for a nice 20 meter circle. It went okay for a while and then she started blowing through my aid and doing her normal evading trick. Easy to manage right? Wrong. She took serious offense to my outside leg correction and the ride started falling apart. She started spooking and scooting around, blowing through my aids and my corrections, tossing her head. I think she popped up for a rear at one point. I’m only guessing because P immediately asked me if I was okay and I was but my confidence energy was wearing thin.

P told me to put Aria’s nose on the fence for our 20 meter circle and switch the bend to the inside when our circle arched towards the center line. This worked for a few circles and I thought we were coming back to a good place by keeping Aria too busy to throw a tantrum but really I think she was just taking her time to find another reason to act up. I swear she planned this next part beautifully. We were tracking left and coming off F toward the centerline and she blew through my outside rein. I crossed my outside rein over her neck and she ignored it. I applied my outside leg and she had exactly what she was waiting for. She leaped forward (while still evading) and then fussed like crazy because ‘mooooom you gave me the canter cue—no I didn’t—and now you’re not letting me canter’.

I tried to keep riding with purpose and confidence but after 40 minutes of princess mode I was hard lining on E. I didn’t have the energy to stick it through and my form was unraveling as quickly as my confidence (but my seat was like freaking Velcro). I think P picked up on this because she offered to ride and I graciously accepted. Aria needed to end on a good note and I wasn’t going to be able to give it to her. Although that meant that P spent an hour riding the snot out of Aria until she finally gave something nice to end the lesson with. And wouldn’t you know, Aria wasn’t sweating or breathing hard at all? I think we’ve gotten to a point where her endurance can outlast us both.

I guess as I write this I can say it wasn’t a bad ride even though it was a terrible awful shitty what am I doing with my life bad ride. This ‘bad’ ride was still miles better than my worst rides. I am disappointed that I got scared and wasn’t able to push through to properly support Aria because I was tired and that fear took over but I also think I handled it far better than I normally would have. A year ago I wouldn’t have broken out of the walk if a horse was acting up like Aria was. Even though P says I could manage well if I took Aria home on Sunday, I’m not sure I like how ‘managing’ feels just yet. I fully acknowledge that R’s backseat cueing probably played a large factor into Aria’s change of heart during this lesson. I think she got very confused and was mad that R didn’t stick around to work with her because she favors R’s masculine charm over P and I (lol…fucking mares). I cannot blame anyone for Aria missing R’s attention. She spent 6 months with him 5 days a week and that suddenly stopped. The princess demand attention.

I have the weekend and another lesson tomorrow to decide if I’m going to bring Aria home but right now I’m just going to let everything percolate. Anyone have any thoughts or suggestions? I’m all ears and very hard to offend.

To The Left, To The Left: Redux

I had a lesson on Tuesday. It was my turn to have an off day. I had woken up in a lot of pain and went to the doctor where they took a lot of blood to run another round of tests. All which I’m sure will simply say “there’s still nothing wrong with you”. I think it’s a cortisol level issue, they think it’s nothing but could possibly be arthritis. I guess we’ll see in a day or two. J

This lesson was another milestone for Aria and I because this time I was doing everything. No P to warm Aria up or get her working nice. I was totally excited about this. I’ve seen P work through a lot of Aria’s baby-ness and while some flailing is involved it’s all very contained and controllable. Aria is a thinker, her brain doesn’t shut off and she doesn’t tune her rider out, so mostly she just tries to evade by moving laterally or refusing to bend. R says her tantrums are her princess mode. We’d like her to mature into a queen, so to speak.

She wasn’t worked the day before which meant I was working with a very fresh green bean. I started her off at the walk on the lunge line. She gave a good working walk, really reaching. She was feeling good but she was being calm about it. She stretched her nose to the ground when I asked and sort of flexed to the inside when I asked. This is something I want to work with her on. I’ve seen her working with R and she gives him a much nicer flex that she holds on her own. Then we moved to the trot and she picked a good rhythm and stayed there for a while. She’s not the lightest on the line when she picks up speed and ended up doing a lot of unintentional stretching and flexing because of it. Haha.

I really thought I was going to have an easy ride until I asked her to canter. That’s when she tucked her butt, took off, and did some feel good bucking to kick up her heels. She was over whatever hormones were bothering her over the weekend. I ran her a bit longer than what it took to blow off all that steam and then repeated the whole process going the other direction.

P was busy watering down the arena, so I got on Aria and began flexing her and she tried to eat my boots. Then I did a couple laps around the arena because the far side has a lot of roosters that make a lot of strange noises and rustle around. She felt like she was running on a high octane fuel. I drive a big, fast car and very much like that feel. Especially when I know I have total control over it. After she settled into a good rhythm and we could pass the roosters without her giving them a side eye we got to work.

Our biggest problem right now is we’re both weak going left. Add bad geometry to the equation and you get something in the shape of a sad fried egg. That’s okay, because we spent 90% of the lesson working on making a 20 meter circle. First I tried the technique of looking at the center and bending the horse around that but Aria wanted to evade too much as we approached the centerline from F and used a lack of fence as an excuse to blow through my cue and bulge out (even with outside leg!). We decided to break the circle down for her. We focused on going from A to F, then F to center line, then center line to K, then K to A. It took patience but we did end up getting a pretty nice circle after 20 minutes. I do think part of the problem is I don’t always support her and I don’t always ask her to step into that outside rein. It’s something we both need to work on.

I have noticed lately that I’m second guessing myself a lot. Even P mentioned it yesterday. My overall riding has improved a lot but my commitment to the cues is sometimes not there. And honestly, when I give Aria a cue and she doesn’t do what I ask or she does something completely different from what I’ve asked, even though I’ve just seen her do it with P or R, it makes me doubt if I’m giving the cue correctly. I know I’m not as finessed as my trainers and they have a lot more time spent on Aria but I still asked P about it. She told me I just needed patience and that my cues are fine. Phew, right? Haha. Easier said than done! She did mention I need to work on my lower legs. Now that I sit up my lower leg has shifted forward a bit. P would like to see my leg back at the girth instead of a bit in front where it has migrated to. I’ll be spending a lot of time standing in my stirrups to get proper leg placement again.

Amazing how you fix one thing and break another!

New Eyes = New Rider

On Sunday I had plans to hit up LA to visit my bff, Sabrina, who was visiting for the week. We don’t see each other very often because she lives in Vancouver, so any time she’s within 150 miles of my house I make a point. Of course my barn just happens to be on the way to LA if I choose to take that freeway. Naturally I scheduled another lesson and warned Sabrina I’d be showing up ripe with the smell of horse. Which she deals with because she loves me (but also because she draws cartoon horses for a living and needs to be exposed to the reality behind the unicorn horns and sparkles).

Look at these nerds.

This lesson (Sunday) was fabulous. Aria started on the lunge line with a complete baby brain which kind of bummed P out a little because she said that she had gotten beautiful work on Aria the previous week while I was out and wanted to show it off. Of course, you know how it goes when you want an animal to perform. You end up with a circus. After a few minutes of shenanigans she ended up riding Aria like the baby she is.

I don’t really know what the difference was between Saturday and Sunday but the saddle that I normally hate sitting in felt more comfortable and Aria felt really solid under me. I didn’t ask for much and P didn’t really instruct much. We kept it simple. I did two laps around the arena at a walk in both directions and then I spent a while getting a good rhythm at the trot in both directions. We had some issues staying on the wall which meant our track looked a bit more like that kid on Family Circus (I pray to god you all are old enough to know what I’m referencing) but I kept the ride very low pressure. Then P piped up and asked me to canter.

Dun dun duuuun.

Actually, it went really well. Other than Aria thinking my cue for the canter is utter shit, I had no issues with my seat, no issues with fear.

And this is a bit interesting to me. When I reflect back on the ride I think I can say that the lack of fear was because I’d cantered on Aria before and it went okay…but I also wonder…

I wasn’t worried about running into anything and that’s not normal. Aria was doing her lateral evasion technique and blowing through my outside aid but I was cool with it because I could see when we’d hit the fence. We flailed around a little trying to pick up the left lead  but it wasn’t panic inducing for me like it has been before. We cantered a few laps around the arena and then P called me in. She had a huge smile on her face and told me I looked like a totally different rider out there. She said I was sitting straighter, my seat was infinitely better, and that I had given a far more superior ride than I had ever done before. She said my new eyes were working for me.

What she said kind of makes sense. I can see. For the first time in 20 years I can see everything, everywhere. Not just through the glasses that keep slipping down my nose. When your glasses slip down your line of vision slips down and then your chin follows. It’s been really nerve wracking to pick up speed on a horse when you can’t see where you’re going. It’s really nerve wracking to have a horse not listen when you can’t tell how close to obstacles you are.

And it is amazing that I can just focus on riding and not worry about gathering my reins in one hand so I can push my glasses up with the other every few minutes. Aria never felt more solid under me in the two months I have been riding her like she did yesterday, which makes sense. For the first time we had an uninterrupted conversation. It was amazing!

Warming Up

I had a lesson on Saturday and a lesson on Sunday, which are the first rides since my lasik procedure and it was really great to get back in the saddle. Last week felt like the longest week ever. It didn’t really motivate me to write but then I had a slammed weekend full of horses (many blog posts to come!) and now my world is righted.

Saturday was HOT. We had a wonderful heat wave that made the horses feel miserable. Plus Aria must have ovulated or something because the poor little girl just looked wrecked and agitated. P and I decided to take it easy and just ride Aria like a baby to keep life simple. We spent a long time just warming up. Aria has been waking up stiff lately. We think it’s because she’s not resting well due to being in season and the breeding area being next to her stall. They move her every time they breed now because she was body slamming the stall walls but I think she’s so fixated on the stallions right now that she won’t loosen up until I bring her home this weekend.

It took a while to get anything resembling a decent trot. Even though we were riding Aria like a baby we still want to promote good rhythm. After about 40 minutes she started to loosen up and bend. Then we started the lesson. Which was a lot of fun because I was working with Aria in uber baby mode and I’ve never experienced that before. She’s is so expressive about it. You can almost hear her saying ‘this is hard’.

I spent some time walking because of the heat but that gave me ample opportunity to ask for shoulder in/shoulder out and work her on a loose rein. Which is something we’ll tackle more of because right now loose rein is a foreign concept to her. I also spent a lot of time trotting on a loose rein and finding a comfortable idle speed while navigating the arena with a youth on a pony. My focus was sitting up and syncing with Aria; keeping it simple and sticking to the basics. Especially important because her fried and hormonal baby brain wasn’t giving us anything good to work with when pressure to perform was applied.

Overall my lesson took over 2 hours, which meant I spent my one-on-one time on the ground lunging and my time in the saddle as a secondary thought to the other person taking a lesson at that current time slot but I don’t mind spending the time prepping and stretching Aria, mentally and physically, so that the work we actually do is done right. It did cause me to miss out on hitting up Mary’s Tack sale with Alex though. 😦

For the fellow baby owners, what do you like to do when your baby horse is having an off day under saddle?

A Colorful Visitor

While my eyes have been healing I haven’t had a lot of horse activity to report but that all changes tomorrow because it will be the end of the required week of healing. I cannot wait!

Hippo Watch 2017 lets me see all kinds of crazy things I would never see my horses do. Like that time Ben got into the foaling stall, or the amount of fighting all 3 horses do in their bid for Lead Horse (including Catalina!). Then there’s the picture below: There is a trash can not far from Valeria’s stall that I thought was out of reach. I thought wrong. She pulled an empty shavings bag out of it and gave it to Catalina to play with. Must have been the best toy every because Catalina snuggled up with it for her afternoon nap after she was done trying to destroy it.

I love lamp.

Very exciting. Something that was kind of exciting: Over the weekend we had a very fancy visitor on the property.

He really caused a stir with the horses. No clue where he came from. There is a house several blocks away that has a ton of peacocks but he wasn’t heading in that direction and dusk was coming.

My sister’s BLM mustangs were both curious & terrified.

Valeria was in beast mode and wanted everyone to know that peafowl are descendants of dinosaurs, most possibly the T-Rex, and should not be trusted. When it jumped on our roof I had to let her out because there was a very real threat of Catalina getting run over in their stall.

I finally got to see that knee action trot on Catalina. Unfortunately, only from the front and back but I love that paddling! Makes my Iberian heart go pitter-patter.

I wondered briefly what would have happened if it had decided to present its tail but I’m actually glad my dummy prey animals didn’t witness that because it might have killed them from fear.

At least they had our brave barn kitten, Rocket, to save the day. He was pretty sold on the idea of peacock for dinner. If that peacock had actually stood to fight their tiny savior it would have been a shocking blow to the morale of all our animals. Haha.

My Eyes, They Burn

I’m writing this from a very dim computer screen, so I apologize if there are typos or other format craziness. Lasik went well and my new vision is amazing but my eyes are pretty unhappy about the whole process and will randomly decide to not focus from time to time. I’m told this is totally normal for at least the first seven days but for that reason I’m going to keep this post short.

I don’t have a lot of horse updates because I’ve been banished from dusty environments while my eyes heal. Ask me how well that’s going. Haha.

Catalina has been using her poop to graffiti the stall walls. Which has put her on a regiment of Bio Sponge and Probios until she starts pooping normal again. Shouldn’t take more than a couple days. She takes the medication well, which is surprising because it doesn’t smell great. I guess that’s the benefits of introducing treats. She’s very keen to at least try anything we hand her.

She’s starting to clear the 3rd rail!

I got some advice from R to help Catalina become a polite terrorist equine citizen. As soon as my eyes are healed I’ll be tackling that because she’s turned into a bossy little baby and it’s not cute (it is cute. It’s really, really cute). He reminded me that you have to teach a horse how to go away before you bring it in close, otherwise you can create some really dangerous situations. And he’s right. We were so busy making sure C would come to us we forgot that once she was on top of us and chewing us to death we were screwed. There will be a whole blog post about that after it happens.

I bought her this rubbery dog toy that’s a deer antler since she’s so orally fixated. It went over really well. I put just a dot of honey on a few of the prongs and couldn’t keep C or Valeria off the toy. At one point V practically had the whole toy in her mouth. V is weird and she’s probably going to make C weird too.

The One Where I Canter Aria

I had a great lesson yesterday!! It only took me 2 hours with traffic to get there, which was really great for afternoon commuting traffic. When I arrived I saw R hobbling around, he just had back surgery done and won’t be riding or training for at least a month. P cut me off before I could go park my car, so I rolled down the window. I knew something was up but I wasn’t sure what, because she always waits until after I’ve parked and changed clothes to exchange pleasantries. Once R was out of ear shot she told me I was going to be helping her breed a mare but not until R went inside because she didn’t want him to know about it and get stressed out.

This is the beginning of their morning ritual to destroy each other.

Hans is a big ass stallion, and the mare was big too. I understand the dangers involved in breeding, so I guess I kind of get why R would get worked up about petite P and I (a whopping 5’3”) tackling this job alone. Not that it was a big deal. Hans is a gentleman and the mare was very quiet. The whole thing was drama free. It did kind of feel like we were a couple of kids hiding behind the football bleachers to smoke a joint after school though. Lol

After that was done we saddled up Aria and I lunged her to get her hormones under control because she’s in full blown Season. With a capital ‘S’. She’s got some incredible stretching at the walk and trot. Once I finesse my cue for the stretch and get her to reliably hold it with contact it’s going to get some nice scores in the show ring. I’m really proud of her because I know the stretch can be tough.

Sharing dinner.

P hopped up and put Aria through her paces. We always start the lesson with P riding because Aria doesn’t always start her lesson off willing and sweet and we want to promote positive experiences. She did really well though. It didn’t take long for Aria to ease into work mode. It’s been really fun to watch her improve over the last month. Obviously when R was riding her she was performing at her top level but knowing that he would be having surgery P took over his workload and the baby horses have had to learn how to respond to a new rider. It took a while for Aria and P to click together but the warmups that I see now versus a month ago are night and day.

I’m hoping next week Aria is at a spot where I can start riding her right away during lessons. I think we’re headed in that direction. We worked really well together yesterday. I was able to keep her on the contact better and we worked in a frame a lot more than we have previously. We worked a lot on our geometry and by worked on I mean we made shapes. None of which I would classify as a circle even though I was trying. Trying and doing. Not the same thing.

Apparently mom tastes better. Eyeball chomp.

Towards the end of the lesson we were getting an oval and it was a consistent oval, which I guess is better than no oval. Then when I least expect it, because when I’m riding well I go into a zen mode where you can give me instruction and I simply do it without thinking about it, P cued me to pick up the canter. I’ve never cantered on Aria before. I started to give the cue with no hesitation and then I guess I realized what she asked me to do because I tensed up and my form unraveled.

I don’t know why. I feel like there’s a disconnect in my brain. My logical side knows I’ll be 100% okay because P knows my abilities and Aria is a good baby horse but my emotional side immediately goes into DEFCON 1. It’s really frustrating. P coached me through 3 more attempts but I couldn’t seem to get it together and Aria was unsure about picking up speed because she could feel how tense I was. Then P said we would canter on the lunge line.

The cutest and most deadly of muzzles.

I feel like those moments when you’re given the option to take the easy route are suicide for self-improvement. I didn’t want to canter on the lunge line. I wanted to get my shit together and canter on my horse. That’s why I’m taking lessons. I told P I wanted one more chance. I know it’s counterproductive to ask a baby horse to do something continuously and not have it go well. I kept that in the forefront of my mind as motivation. I needed to nail this cue and I needed it to go well.

It wasn’t pretty but on the final try I did get a canter and I cantered for 3 horrifying laps. Haha. I say horrifying because it turns out Aria is a wiggleworm. She does not keep a steady pace or hold herself in any way. Keeping her on track is 100% the rider’s job. She would dive in and then straighten out and then dive in and then try to track right when we were going left. Sometimes I would get a solid curve through the corner and sometimes it would be a sudden 90 degree turn. My seat was everywhere. My hands where everywhere. My leg cues were not refined enough or quick enough to support her like P or R. Totally terrifying.

V loves standing on the rope or picking it up & pulling on C.

I was smiling, more than likely from embarrassment, after we stopped. Aria’s choice. Probably because her baby brain couldn’t deal with my flailing anymore. I felt really silly and really proud at the same time. My heartrate was way up but at least I accomplished this one tiny, but huge to me, task. Then we changed directions and I asked for the canter again. It was a lot nicer this time around. I knew what to expect. My emotional side didn’t think I was going to totally die and we ended the lesson on that note.

I may never feel comfortable at the canter but I’m always going to push myself to live in that uncomfortable space anyway. I do hope one day I have enough good experiences at the canter that the bad ones are diluted into near non-existence. I couldn’t have hoped for a better ride to ruminate over before I take a week off to recover from LASIK surgery. It will be the last time I push my glasses up my nose so I can see where I’m going and maybe not worrying about visibility will improve my confidence. That or I could develop mutant powers. I’d take either.

To The Left, To The Left

I had another lesson on Aria yesterday (that makes 6!) and have another today. I’m really trying to cram them in before she comes home at the end of the month. The more often I can ride her in front of my trainer(s) the more he/she can fix or adjust anything I might be doing wrong before I have to recreate my lessons on my own. We’ve made big improvements. I still ride her like a hot mess (lol) but at least we look better doing it.

I’ve really been focusing on sitting up straight while I’m riding and sitting back when asking for an upward transition. It’s not easy but I’m starting to feel pretty confident while riding her. Which is great because I hopped up on Ben’s back late last week for a trail ride and got my confidence rocked pretty hard. It’s really obvious he doesn’t trust in me and my ability to lead. I can’t blame him. I was just a scared passenger for over a decade. My confidence levels are only just starting to rise and I’m not solid enough in my skills to tackle his antics when he starts blocking me out due to whatever is setting him off.

Omg please ignore the halter-bridle and just focus on how pale my right arm is.

I talked to P about it and she said that for now I shouldn’t ride him outside the arena because it wasn’t worth the backwards progress. I totally agree with her. I find it funny that I feel safer on a baby horse than on an old man horse. I’m sure it’s because Ben and I have a history of bad experiences and Aria is a clean slate.

In addition to working on keeping my back straight I’ve also been trying to work on my seat. I tend to use my hands to get the bulk of my work done and my natural reaction is to use my reins. I’ve been trying to stay aware of it because it’s not really proper riding. Things like focusing on engaging my seat more to get deeper corners and upward/downward transitions. I spent my lesson yesterday weaving cones just using my seat (at least I hope I was using my seat and not subconsciously using my hands!). I am definitely more adept at it going left and seemed to have a harder time engaging my seat while going right. I’m right dominant, so maybe someone can tell me if this is normal or unusual.

My view Friday morning.

Admittedly, I kind of feel my issue is the saddle. I don’t want to try and make an excuse for my crappy riding but I think it’s exacerbating an existing problem. As I’ve said before it’s really not comfortable, although I’ve grown used to it, and it seems to always slide to the left on me. Which might be from uneven stirrups. I’ve tried changing stirrup length and putting more weight in my right leg to see if I would get a more even ride but I got no love. My left leg and knee usually hurt after the ride too. Ultimately I think the saddle and I are just not compatible. P rides in it fine, so either she has uneven legs or I have uneven legs. Lol

Have any of you experienced this problem, where you know that your skills might not be great but the equipment you’re using isn’t doing any favors either?

Diamond Jubilee & Meeting Bloggers

The Carl Hester clinic didn’t happen for me this weekend, which I was kind of bummed about (serious frowny face). I got the hefty vet bill from Valeria’s illness after foaling and couldn’t in good faith spend more money. I did hit up the Diamond Jubilee Horse Show with L from Viva Carlos and Alex from thehorsedream. It was fun to meet up with local bloggers and chat about horses. They were both really cool (no lies) and I enjoyed the steady stream of conversation that went on the whole day. There wasn’t a single Iberian horse at the show (all the Iberian classes were canceled) which was a shame. I should have entered Aria. We could have been swimming in blue satin. Haha.

Morning yoga.

We did spend a lot of time towards the second half of the show picking the line-up and without boasting too much, the 3 of us should get paid to judge Morgan/Saddlebred shows. Our track record for correctly picking 1st and 2nd place means we’re basically experts now.

After seeing all the really cool show clothing I kind of regret how boring my dressage outfit is going to be. I was also really surprised by how many American Saddlebred Horse farms San Diego had. I mean, I knew about Scripps Miramar Saddlebreds but I had no clue we had such a booming ASB community. When I think of San Diego and horses I think of thoroughbreds. Who knew?


I definitely foresee more hangouts in the future with L and Alex. Maybe even a harebrained trail ride with two baby horses and Scarlett. Not sure I’m feeling that lucky…maybe just some arena jaunts first. 🙂

I’m sure you probably want an update on Catalina! She’s turning into more of a moose every day. For comparison, here is a picture taken the morning after she was born.

And here is a picture of her at 3.5 weeks.

And another picture I took on Sunday at a month old.

For real, eating is the only time I can get these shots.

I’ve installed a couple feeders to help her eat since she doesn’t reach the ground well. She doesn’t like bending down and was dropping to her knees to graze but lately she’s found a new system that works way better.

She’s much surer on her feet now but I’m still awaiting the elusive trot that she never seems to want to perform. She has, however, perfected whatever this gait is.

We’re still working on not chewing on humans. She thinks a fun game is seeing if she can sneak in a quick bite and get out before I can react to correct her. Working with her on leading goes well on occasion but often devolves into hold-on-to-the-rope-while-baby-frolics-on-the-end-of-the-lead. She also gets really, really mad if I don’t let her chew on the lead rope. I would really like to attach a lead rope to her and leave it on her for a few days to wear off the novelty but Valeria will sit and chew on the rope until she destroys it. Basically, I need to find a baby boot camp or something because she’s smarter than I am!