May 30, 2016

Blogger Meetup: Kate from Incidents of Guidance

I'm still playing catch up from my adventures of two weeks ago in California!  The only blogger that offered to hang out that I didn't get to meet was Figure, which puts her at the top of my list for next time.  When you're in the tech sector, it's just a matter of time before you get back to the Bay Area.  Next up: Kate.

If you're counting (not that you should be), Kate makes the third blogger I got to hang out with in the span of six days two weeks ago.  And really, we should be counting Karen's friend Liz, and L's friend Paige too, since they make so many guest appearances on blogs, they may as well be bloggers, just like Brita on Emma's blog.  But officially, three.

I've always felt a strong connection to Kate; her blog, Incidents of Guidance, falls into the same category as mine: obsessive analyzers.  Only she has a very good reason to be an obsessive analyzer: she teaches the cutest band of kids, and does a damn good job of it, as I got to see for myself.

Part of the cutest band of kids in their mountainside (literally) ring.

Kate picked me up at my hotel (and immediately stopped for obligatory Mexican) even though I had a rental car and picking me up was way out of her way, because describing getting to her barn would be...tricky.  It is actually in the mountains.

My Indiana brain wasn't sure what to make of actual mountains, and an actual barn carved into the side of a mountain.  I couldn't stop staring.

It's the type of barn that makes you feel immediately comfortable and at home.  Like my barn, it's safe but rough around the edges, and gives you a sense that you should keep it clean but you don't have to tiptoe around, if that makes sense.  I loved it.

The barn's new outdoor in progress - how amazing is riding here going to be?!
They even have doves, which used to be rented out to weddings.  File that under 'options for barn income that I would never have thought of':

Sleepy roosting doves.
Kate had cancelled her Thursday lessons to hang out with me, a gesture I appreciated so much.  Like a true teacher though, she ended up teaching an impromptu group lesson when we got to the barn and five of her lesson students were out there anyway.  I got to see her in action, and was really impressed.

She has good eyes, and a really good way of explaining complex concepts to the kids, who were all about middle school age.  I was struck over and over again by how relatable she was to the kids while still clearly being their instructor, and how they obviously both adored and respected her.  Add in her tactful, honest and level way of communicating with their parents, and you have a recipe for a really good program.

I got to ride all of the cast of characters that regularly shows up in her blog.  First up was Danny, the Morgan that she says reminds her strongly of Connor.

He was such a cute, fun, honest dude!  I really did feel like I was sitting on Connor, although maybe a slightly more bombproof Connor.  Danny seriously couldn't have put a foot wrong.  The boy that was riding him before and after me was even asked to ride with no stirrups and then bareback by Kate (after I got on and had to wrap his stirrup leathers, sorry kid!), and Danny was a saint for him.

Next up was Kat.  A lesson kid came out on her, and then Kate got on her to school her, and then the lesson kid got back on, and then I got her.

Crappy cell phone picture of Kate schooling Kat.
Kat is very much Kate's horse.  Kat is fiery and opinionated, but in all the best ways.  The lesson kid was struggling with getting her to relax, and Kate got on her, and you could see an immediate change in Kat's body language.
Thanks to Kate for all of the pictures of me riding!

She's one of those mares that make people like mares, a mare that would go through fire for her person, and incredibly athletic as well.  I got on her later, and had moments of figuring her out, and then moments where Kat may as well have said "You're doing it wrong!" I wasn't offended, Kat just wants to be ridden one way and tolerates everything else.

Kate schooling Kat while talking through what she was doing to Kat's rider, standing on the right.  I was impressed with how she taught the kid to help Kat relax, basically (paraphrased) telling her to ask Kat to soften and then hold that softness in her core.

After that, I got on Tango.  I fell in love with Tango.  All of Kate's horses showed a great sensitivity to seat and core aids, which, given that they are ridden regularly by middle schoolers, is both a testament to Kate's riding and Kate's lesson program.  Tango was no exception.

Tango and I clicked within a few minutes of getting on him.  He's such a good boy, just spicy enough to be interesting, athletic, but not crazy -  I say that even after seeing him get quick with a lesson kid!  You could ride him like a beginner and he'd go around for you, or you can ride like you know what you're doing and he gets fancy and fun with buttons.  He's a great horse, (and for sale, locals!  I'd snap him up for FBR if he was closer).

Too soon, it was time to put Tango to bed and start making the trek back up north.
Kate leading Tango back into the barn.  The camera couldn't capture the city lights in the valley off to the left, but it was beautiful.

I would have absolutely died to attend this lesson barn as a kid. 

We put the horses to bed and made one more stop on the way home: for gelato!  It was delicious!

I was so grateful to Kate for going way out of her way for me, both literally by picking me up and figuratively by canceling her lessons.  It was so much fun getting to know someone I've always suspected I would get along well with, and I sincerely look forward to coming out again sometime!


  1. So cool!! What an amazing place and I agree, I would have though I'd died and gone to heaven if I'd had a chance to take lessons in Kate's program :)

  2. Sounds like such a good time!

  3. Paige has a blog she just doesn't update very frequently! It was wonderful seeing you!

  4. I also offered to meet up. Put me on your list for next time. I'm like 10 minutes from Palo Alto/Menlo Park.

    1. Dang it, I'm so sorry, thanks for saying something. Yes, you are also at the top of my list for next time!

  5. City lights are my favorite view

  6. So I read this when you first posted it. And I have to say it's just so thoughtful and kind and moving and sweet. I had a WONDERFUL time meeting you and definitely hope to get together again if you're out here. Thank you!!

    1. You are so welcome! I had an amazing time too, it won't be the last time we hang out!

  7. Oh man! I didn't catch that you were in town! Next time for sure!

  8. Oh man! I didn't catch that you were in town! Next time for sure!