Monday, 26 July 2021

Homework

 Following on from our little adventure, you may or may not remember EC is a big fan of teaching people how to problem solve, rather than just ride. After every lesson or clinic she assigns homework in the form of exercises to work on and goal posts to look for.

The plan for me is to continue having lessons with her for the foreseeable future. She knows me well, I trust her, and I haven’t found much value in the brief forays I’ve had into clinics and lessons with others closer to home. I’m going to try to get to hers once every 4-6 weeks, or she’ll come to me. Just having that renewed support plan has taken a huge weight off my shoulders that I didn’t know was there. 


Picture has nothing to do with anything, just seemed like I needed one here.

Homework

For me, the big take home is just to trust myself and my experience. I’m more capable than I think. I've gone a step further and have a sports psychologist recommendation to try out. I'm tired of my brain trying to tell me I'll fail and creating all the anxiety around that.

On a physical level, it's been a long while without regular lessons, so remember to check my position every few strides. I unfortunately had a clinician try to change my leg position, and while it’s technically more correct, since I am not built that way it’s created some tightness in my hips and also resulted in my leg being a bit too “on” all the time. So, lots of work to do adjusting that. My new to me saddle is not great for me, either, it wants to put me in a chair seat, so maybe time to look into something semi custom for Sophie and I rather than fighting used saddles that are “good enough” all the time. (I'm not ready to unpack that just yet...;)

For Sophie...she’s still very immature physically for her age. I really need to work on that. Under saddle, that means I have to insist on her using her back properly and build up a stronger topline.


Sophie: "Uh oh, she's got a plan that sounds like work!"

For now, stick to walk and trot, ride 2-3 times a week. Lots of walk on a loose, rounder, contact, swinging through her back. Add hills if I can. Canter just a little so it’s a thing, but leave it alone for now. Her canter is huge, and I risk making it lateral if I try to school too much in the arena because she’s simply not (currently) strong enough to consistently hold herself with a rider from falling out sideways. 


Exhibit A: wandering around, not building any topline or fitness.

And it's not like we don't know how to do it.

In trot, ignore the little ‘speed wobbles’, and just rebalance. Forward, forward, forward :)

*trigger warning if you have strong opinions on longeing, fixed side reins, or vienna reins*

My other suggested homework is to long line or longe a couple of times a week. Loose side reins or vienna  reins, or long line - ideally mix it up so she’s not always using the exact same muscles in the same way or finding ways to lean or resist.  The main idea is she can build more muscle without worrying about balancing a rider too - this will apply really well for canter. While I do think such tools can be used unwisely, in this case I think it's a valid use - pony needs to build up some muscle and use her body properly rather than flinging herself around, and I like the idea of not always adding my weight to the puzzle. I tend to longe her around me as I walk around the arena,  so she gets plenty of straight lines along the rail and there is less worry about the wear and tear of a fixed circle.


Trail riding last night. I made sure to incorporate big hills, because as you can see, I can't be trusted to keep a contact and make her work all the time.

The overall verdict was that she's lovely and I'm totally capable of bringing her along. Stop doubting myself and start putting in the hours consistently. Also, if I make excuses, EC is just going to come visit me and hold me accountable, so resistance is futile  ;)

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Thursday, 22 July 2021

The One Where We Finally Did Something

 I had the most awful ride on Sophie last weekend. The hard part was that she wasn’t doing anything terrible, just your average baby horse testing. But, I could not for the life of me dig deep enough as a rider to get it sorted. I’ve got a lot of unnecessary dialogue floating around in my head these days, and the “you’re not good enough” narrative was winning. I can see that for what it is and it’s really frustrating to let it limit me. When it’s potentially affecting a nice pony, it’s time to call in some extra support crew.

So, we put Sophie on the trailer and went for an overnight visit to EC’s. I was equal parts excited and nervous. I had total faith EC was going to get us back to a good place, but equally taking the baby horse for such an excursion was going to face her with a lot of new challenges. We’ve taken everything so slow and steady to this point I had no real idea how she’d react to me throwing her a little into the deep end.

Step 1: The three hour trip including an hour on the ferry and a half hour waiting in the lineup. I brought Bridget for moral support because she’s so solid about this journey, so the most part, Sophie just ate hay and napped like a sensible pony.

An uneventful journey, whew! When we arrived, they both just wandered into their paddock and kept on eating. Ginger, on the other hand...(super long time readers might remember my Welsh D mare Ginger, who I sold several years ago to a lovely lady at EC’s barn)...Ginger was self appointed greeting committee and NOT pleased at all to see her old pasturemate Bridget, to the point of repeatedly charging and ramming the fence separating them. Sophie was also not welcome, because obviously any friend of Bridget’s is no friend of hers. Poor Sophie! Not a confidence inspiring intro to the barn. 

Our first lesson, from my perspective was equal parts good and awful. Sophie “forgot” everything she ever knew, so even tacking her up and getting on required reminders that the rules are the same everywhere. We then proceeded to spend a long time imitating a llama stuck in a tar pit. Which is fine, because that’s why I was there. What I was beyond pleased with is that EC’s is a very busy lesson barn with so much for Sophie to look at, but she didn’t bother much with any of that - she was really, really solid with all the things you’d normally expect a younger horse to look at or take offence to. Also, high five to me for getting on and getting it done, because I was way more worried about all the things than Sophie ;)



Like one of those puzzles. “Find 10 things this pony would normally spook at“ :)


Spooks all day long at the one mirror at home, yet a wall of them is fine.


EC then hopped on and mostly sorted my issues in about 30 seconds, lol. The really excellent part for me was seeing her ride S, and getting so much feedback about how she’s going, what I’ve done well, and what I really need to improve.

I probably don’t need to delve too deep into the fact that I had myself convinced that I am too big for her/my tack is maybe not fitting/there is something wrong with her/I simply can’t ride well enough. While there is always room to improve the things I can control, actually, T, when it comes down to it you’re just riding an unbalanced baby horse with bigger movement who’s not quite sure where to put her legs or how to carry herself all the time. So, just buckle down, stop worrying, and show her where you want her to be. Let her make mistakes, rebalance her and go again. Work to build up her topline and strength. Check in on your position and aids periodically, don’t make it complicated. 

So simple when someone says it out loud.


If you haven’t guessed by now, blurry screen grabs is all you get. I was anti media this time but husband videoed a little on the down low and I’m glad he did :)

Literally every corner of this arena is a spooky corner, and she didn’t care at all.

Day 2’s lesson was a huge improvement over day 1. I’ve got a lot of position fixes I’ve let slide, plus I was nervous, so please don’t judge my riding in the screen grabs too harshly. Sophie again made me proud by marching around confidently and trusting me every time she wasn’t sure and I said we were fine. In the moment it felt OK, with lots of not so great. On watching the video back, it’s mostly all ok. While the images I’m sharing don’t reflect the worst moments, they also don’t reflect the best...it looked like what I’m sharing... I’m on a phone at the moment and don’t have time or technology to pick the nicest moments in time. You’re just getting wherever the screen capture grabbed and the image was clear. I’m beyond pleased with Sophie.



Her ring buddy left and she didn’t care at all. Plus Bridget screamed for her the entire time. Not helpful, B! But, as long as I gave S a job, she was totally fine. For me, such things are the biggest wins with baby horses.








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Wednesday, 7 July 2021

All The Best Laid Plans

 I feel like I'm currently really good at planning, and kind of terrible with the follow through. Continued covid complications, work scheduling issues, and living where I do kind of threw a wrench into many of my plans this spring.

 Which is...life. Sh!t happens, and I'm grateful the horses are healthy and happy and could care less whether I do all the things or none of them.



Where I'm dropping the ball is that instead of adapting and continuing to work towards the bigger picture things, I go from super disappointed Plan A was cancelled to treating it like a free pass to not have to do the thing at all. Show dates moved? Fine, lets go trail riding and not even think about having pony on a contact for a couple of weeks. Lessons cancelled? Oh well, I know she said to work on X, but since she won't be here for another month to check in, we'll get to it later.

Which would all be fine if I didn't actually want to go to shows, to be a better rider, to have nicely schooled horses. I frustrate myself because I know what I need to do, but the follow through just isn't there and I allow other (usually easier, but not as important to me) tasks, to take priority. I'm just too busy to put the riding time in every day, after all. Then I come full circle, discouraged that I haven't made the progress I hoped. Which, of course I haven't, I didn't put the time in!



The trigger for this post, and what finally really woke me up to what I'm doing, was a lack of note paper at work.

Rummaging through my desk drawer, I found some old day planners with some blank spots on the pages. Perfect! I've been flipping through and filling in the open pages as needed, saving the trees at the same time. But, these old books kind of work like an old diary too - despite them being 'for work' and full of old project notes, there are a ton of show dates marked off, lessons, entry closing dates, ride plans, etc penciled in. The difference between then and now is huge and made me really take a good look at how I've kind of allowed myself to fade away from anything that feels too challenging or risky or too much like a big commitment or chance to fail. I've been filling my spare time instead with 'safer' things that mean less to me.



What I do have going for me is that I'm aware I'm self sabotaging, and I'm finally seeing how much it's affecting my life. I'm ready to sit down and discuss why that might be and what I can do about it with someone. I'll let you know how it goes.




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Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Ridely

I downloaded the Ridely app a couple of days ago and so far I am loving it. I haven’t splurged for the paid version, but the free version still offers much of what I like in an equine app, all in one place. There is a place to set out your goals, as well as inspiration and targets to meet those goals in the form of how to videos and checklists. The free videos are short clips, but they’re relevant and feature some big names.

There is a place to schedule tasks and appointments, plus you can add “team members” to your horses’ profile if you have a trainer or lease. There’s also some basic data/ride tracking along the lines of what Equilab offers, including the ability to track your ride using your phone’s GPS. Plus, there some fun options to add favourite pictures or video of your ride to look back on and track your own fitness and progress. 

Just thought I’d share - I’m in no way affiliated with them, nor have I used it long enough to give an in depth review, but I know a lot of you enjoy useful horsey apps and this one seems pretty promising.


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Monday, 28 June 2021

Bath Time Blog Hop, Still So Freakin' Hot, and Barn Reno Ideas

 Courtesy of Bel Joeor - a timely topic given our extreme temperatures right now and my barn reno plans!

We are lucky to have a few nearby lakes suitable for some more rustic horse bathing :)


Do you bathe regularly, or only before shows?

Currently, I board at a place with very few amenities, so any baths are cold water, from a tap in the field. So...a few times in the summer if either of them have a skin funk or if I need to cool them down or hose some sweat of. I go all in a few times a year and give them a proper bath.

I feel like I'm kind of expert level right now using damp cloths to get them presentable for mid winter clinics :)

Previously, I had access to a wash stall and hot water. I'm adding that to my small home barn because I really miss being able to hose off muddy legs. Bathing before clipping is something I miss, plus just having warm water for winter buckets will be a treat.

I'm getting an Eccotemp on demand propane hot water set up that will hook up to the tap at my barn. At about $200 of our dollars, I think it's worth it. Especially since I will be off the grid power wise.

What’s your temperature cutoff?

It was 110 degrees yesterday afternoon, and the girls had their first cold water baths of 2021. When I have access to warm water, there really aren't many days I wouldn't bath in our climate. We very rarely get cold here. Google tells me we average 7-8 degrees Celsius/ 45-ish Fahrenheit through the winter, so on the warmer dry days I'm happy to give them a bath if needed.



Any favorite gadgets or shampoos?

I often have blond highlights, so take my bottle of human white/blond brightening shampoo to do Sophie's tail. It works, and for the amount of times I actually wash her tail, saves having another bottle of expensive horse products sitting at the barn. Ditto for conditioner - I use my human stuff for both ponies' tails.


I've had a bottle of this for about...forever. No idea how it rates as compared to others, but it makes ponies shiny and clean and is inexpensive. The Ecolicious products are amazing and I would recommend, but I go through them pretty quickly and they're a bit of a splurge purchase for me.

A mini sweat scaper is my secret weapon. I thought it was full sized and reasonably priced, but no, it arrived child sized ;) BUT it's awesome for getting in under their chests and elbows and between back legs.

Another top tip is to add a capful of concentrated fly spray in the bucket of rinse water. It ends up weaker than recommended, but it's an easy way to ensure they get full coverage.


Any other strong opinions?

I don't have overly strong opinions - I let my horses roll in the mud and get filthy and just be horses, and am quite happy to just curry off the worst of it and ride. I'm a bit fussier about sweaty ponies and definitely like hose them off if I can. Baths are a rarer thing - as someone with detergent allergies I try to use gentle products only when necessary.

I'm going to add one final thing: This brutal heat has taught me Bridget would very much appreciate some kind of misting/shower set up. I literally stood with the hose attachment set on 'mist' for an hour last night while she happily stood under it. I'm tempted to set up something more convenient for her right now, but as they're on a well, I don't think it would be appreciated by the barn owners. Instead, I've ordered a cheap-ish greenhouse misting set up I'm going to put around the roof of the new grooming area at my barn. Like her own personal mist tent :)


MS Paint skills always relevant. The bright blue is how I imagine the hoses and sprayers set up. Excited to see how it works in real life :)


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Saturday, 26 June 2021

Heat Dome

 That seems to be the media catch phrase for this. Whatever you want to call it, it’s record-smashing-hot over here, and the humidity is also nothing to laugh at. It feels like we’re in the tropics. I’m trying to view it as my delayed Zihautenejo vacation from 6 months ago :)

I’ve seen multiple posts floating around re: how safe it is to exercise your horse in this heat. A quick check shows we’re in the “do it very carefully” or “don’t even think about it” range depending on the time of day. My show was cancelled, which is fine...because I’ve opted not to ride in this at all. B isn’t built for the heat, and I’ve got no urgent reasons to get S out. Much easier to open the gate to their shady paddock, put out extra fresh water, and let them decide how much they want to move and how much shade is appropriate. Maybe I’m erring on the side of being too careful but with no equine vets here and very rustic amenities where I board, playing it safe is my go to at the moment.


Pretty sure B is OK with this plan

So, besides spending many free hours swimming in a nearby lake and lounging in the shade with a cold drink, I’ve been cleaning my tack and trailer, getting the camera out for some photos, and moving the electric fences around that divide the fields into pony appropriate rations.

Basically all the little things I normally have to rush or lack time for.


Look who I found this morning while I was moving the electric fence: 


I literally almost tripped over this little one. It just happened to be right where I wanted to put a post, otherwise I doubt I’d have known it was there at all.

I’m erring in the side of caution and moved the ponies. I’d like to think they would all coexist (momma has been sharing their field off and on since last fall) but I don’t want to find out the hard way that they don’t. The barn owner was pretty worried about Sophie yesterday, so I think best S especially stays out, just in case.

They looked peaceful enough this morning, tho.


B likes this change of venue. (Don’t worry, what is in camera frame is literally all there is, and she’s sharing with Sophie - she’s not out on acres of green grass. It amused me she waded right to the middle of it though, it’s fun being buried in your food, I guess!)

I’ve booked some time off later next week to get back on track with barn renos and ponyventures. For now, I’m going to enjoy my weekend “tropical vacation”



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Tuesday, 22 June 2021

A Normal Weekend (At Last!)

 After so many months of Covid restrictions, working far too many hours, and generally living far away from any equestrian events or training, I'm not sure I have words to describe how nice it was to spend a weekend doing normal horse things. We went to a clinic, I got Sophie's saddle checked, and I hung out with horsey friends in the sunshine. Simple things that have been so, so missed.


I did not take photos on the day, because I honestly just was in the moment and didn't think to until later. So you get pictures from when I turned them out Sunday afternoon :)

I rode Sophie on Thursday night and she was quite fussy and grumpy, still pretty outraged that anyone dare put a saddle on her (despite me running my hands over every inch of her back and not finding anything worrying).  I gave her the benefit of the doubt due to her being a little bit sore the week before from our previous saddle. I decided not to ride her in the clinic and was feeling pretty disappointed.

Friday afternoon, I left work early (yay for prioritizing well!) to watch the first riders in the clinic and really enjoyed it - there are a couple of talented ladies with lovely young horses and it was pretty inspiring to watch them work through some green horse challenges, particularly as I happen to be the owner of a young sassy mare ;)

Also, an older sassy mare.

Saturday morning, my wonderful husband tagged along and we trailered both horses down to the clinic. Despite it being a 15 min walk from the barn, I used the trailer because it's just so convenient for all the tack and supplies I can bring. My ride time was first in the morning and it was nice to just drive up there, pop them in the trailer, and go. Plus, it's excellent practice for Ms Sophie.

There was a bit of a show vibe and both horses noticed. There were a few people camping, and lots of trucks and trailers in the parking. Plus, new horses in the (normally empty) temporary stabling to chat with. It's been over a year since most of us have had a real get together or event, so even the normally steady horses were taking notice of the different atmosphere.

I rode Bridget and I'm SO glad I did! I definitely good some good input and B really showed up and tried her little heart out, reminding me a lot of why I used to have so much fun with her and kept on pushing for the next big milestone. She's rusty and out of practice, as am I, but it was fun to focus on Bridget again. 

The lesson consisted of a pattern exercise with lots of poles, and it was as complicated as you made it. We focused on extending and bringing back strides more crisply, having a more solid outside rein contact going to the right, and having me look up and around to the next set of poles or marker. 

Been a while since we had a Paint diagram here. As you can see, it works either direction, crossing the middle in a figure eight pattern, alternating the extended and collected poles. The pattern definitely helps make it all happen and kept me on track.

B was an absolute star for all the up/down transitions, lateral work, and for being honest about keeping on the path I put her on. I don't feel she's really 'dressage' fit (I'm not either, let's be real) so I rode on a longer, more hunter style rein much of the time and let her find a happy place. There were times where the exercises did the work for her and she offered to sit and carry herself for some fancy dressage pony moves and I happily accepted. It felt SO nice to be back in the zone :) Happily, she had zero issues trotting and cantering for an hour, and was only minimally sweaty...looks like I've been making progress getting the pony fit again! I was dying, though. Since B has been a bit rogue this spring, I've been wearing my xc vest. Would not recommend for a 1.5 hour flat lesson in hot weather.


Sophie managed to hang out quietly for about 45 minutes, then time was up and she was whinnying and pacing a little. Some other horses were calling and putting on a bit of a show and she's never one to miss out on some drama. I'm pretty happy with her, though - it was a lot bigger atmosphere than she's used to, and sometimes I feel like it's harder for them to go to a familiar place where things are different on the day, than just a new place altogether. Her calling and pacing was totally at an acceptable level...she has a strong pony side and eating from her hay bag was honestly her main priority :)


The hair continues to impress

As an added bonus, I pulled her out and had the clinician look at her new saddle. It got two thumbs up, so at least I know I'm not crazy in thinking the basic fit is really good. Fingers crossed I just hit a grumpy mare day/week and we can move forward happily in the new one. I will obviously still get it checked by a proper fitter as soon as I can, but I'm a bit more confident in pushing through any residual drama and getting to work, knowing there's nothing obviously wrong with the fit and I haven't missed anything.



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Monday, 21 June 2021

New Old Barn, Where Are You At?

Time for a barn update...

In my vast experience ( ha ha ) managing construction projects, I feel like we're on track for a mid fall move, despite my recent lack of time and the scaled back hours put in there. 

The barn inches closer to completion. Two months in, and the hay storage is done, which was an epic task. It was FULL of old junk and garbage and generally just gross (It looked like maybe someone was squatting in there). The new doors are on (and they lock, good bye uninvited guests!). I would have liked to give the whole thing a total clean sweep, but just couldn't part with the antique door and window collection I seem to have amassed. They'll be perfect one day for the backyard office I want to build. So, it's 70% hay storage, 30% construction materials - which makes my wannabe organized self a bit twitchy, but it's OK :)

Presentable from this angle


Less so from this one

I think I mentioned we dug up a whole pile of hazelnut trees along one of the fences lines and replanted them around the barn. Two months on and they are thriving, which makes me pretty happy. There's a bit of a back story in that my very best dog that I had since I was a teenager moved to the property with me in his old age (I bought the house in my early 20's). He was big into digging and burying things and one fall discovered a big sack of filbert hazelnuts a neighbour had gifted me. I discovered the sack missing and holes all over the lawn, and ended up mowing hazelnut shoots for years. It was so funny. I don't know how many of the ones we replanted were really 'his' trees (they do grow very well here and may have popped up through other means), but I'd like to think we saved a couple <3


I can't believe they're thriving like this - they are 15 years old at this point and were scooped up quite inelegantly with a backhoe and placed in alternate locations a couple of months ago.

I'm still redoing the floor in the tack room area (so much gravel to dig out first) and picking away bit by bit at the fencing.

Still looking rough! Bridget's paddock will be on this side, Sophie's in the middle. I'm changing from old (half rotten) post and rail, to just rail on top and wire below. Not sure you can see, but through the second gate on Sophie's side will just allow access to an L shaped field wrapping around below the barn.

I've got a few big projects imminently pending, but I have a secret weapon. My stepdad is retired, handy, and lives just around the corner. I've got him lined up to assist with the new water line to the barn, as well as making the cement pad for my wash/grooming space. I'm REALLY freakin' excited to have a designated space to groom and tack up....it's been years since I was that spoiled.


Double sliding door going in here, and 6' wide cement pad along front of building. I also need to brainstorm a screen or hedge to block the neighbour's storage trailer ;)

Wrapping around to this unimpressive space that will soon be my grooming spot -  a 12'x12' cement pad, water tap, and a simple post and beam roof above to keep us dry. (The winter paddocks I showed the start of earlier are being constructed in the back of this pic)

The visualization of how it will eventually look


The new ring will be the biggest project of all, and I expect that's going to be finished last. We're letting the ground settle for a bit, then planning to finalize the drainage and start filling it back in late summer/early fall.

Relieved this is getting dug up again. The greenery here is insane, considering it was all dirt a month ago. BUT, it's 99% weeds volunteering, not lovely pasture.

SketchUp version of back field and new ring in relation to barn. It's all so much more neat and tidy in the virtual world, lol



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Thursday, 17 June 2021

In Which I'm a Barn Ghost

 A coworker and I were just (laughing? crying? commiserating?) about how work right now feels like one of those anxiety dreams where you're running and not getting anywhere. We're both doing everything we can, but the normally simple tasks prove impossible to complete in a timely fashion due to unending complications. I've gone from my wonderful part time 4 day a week work schedule to us being short staffed and me working not just full time, but 6 days a week. I not so patiently hope they hire someone soon, because this isn't how my summer is supposed to go, and I don't feel like looking for a new job.

I'm sure I've hinted my boarding situation also has some added complications to it these days. Nothing hugely dramatic, more just all the little things adding up and telling me it's probably not a great fit for me anymore. Good thing we've got a plan B in the works! :)


Lets be real though, my pony has more drama and side eye than the rest of the barn combined.

The trailer has thankfully solved a few of my woes. Currently the trailer is my tack room, and my horses live out, so I don't need to use the shared areas much at all.  I do all my chores and feed prep early in the mornings, then after work I quickly pop the horses on the trailer and tack up at the destination, saving getting too sidetracked at the barn when it's busier and totally eliminating the need to work around or wait for shared spaces like tack rooms or grooming ties. It also saves me about 20 min of hacking/walking each way if I trailer to the arena or trailhead.  So at least I'm still getting some regular riding in, while still getting home before bedtime. I'm so very grateful for the long hours of daylight right now.


Sophie also enjoying the long days and field time. Please excuse the slightly out of focus pics, my camera/lens is dissatisfied with the shady field + moving ponies and I'm not experienced enough to get a handle on it.

I know I must be really antisocial and avoiding the busy times well, because I saw another boarder the other night who wondered if I was looking to sell my ponies -  she didn't realize anyone even rides or does anything with my horses anymore, lol


"We are just here to mow the fields, nothing more."

B continues to feel a bit short strided at times, but the vet feels slow and steady exercise for her outweighs any minor lameness concerns and we are not at a point of needing to start with maintenance given her current workload. So, she's getting fitter and stronger week by week. Making the decision to not breed this year has made me refocus on keeping her moving. I've just been going day by day. If she says she feels fantastic and wants to go go go, I still try to err on the side of caution. The farrier was here this morning and felt like the weather has been messing a bit with her feet - wouldn't that be an easy thing, if she's just a little footsore right now but otherwise feeling pretty good?


She has this whole morning roll/yoga stretch routine I really need to document better.

Sophie showed her off new grown up mindset this morning, standing quietly and patiently for the farrier. Until said farrier put her last hoof down and was out of the way. Then Sophie let fire with her hind legs multiple times, before standing square again, waiting for us to admire her amazingness. 

"MY feet. They are MY feet. I wanted to do that all along, look how good I was being!" is how we both read it. Sophie, we love you, but still, please no.

Every morning when I open the gate to the bottom field. She does nothing at half speed, lol


"Anyway, how's your home barn reno coming along, T?"

Oh, so glad you asked! This turned into another long ponies only post, so tune in tomorrow for that ;)







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Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Small Delays: Part 1, Pony and Saddle Updates

Pony wise, I'm still messing with saddles. Sophie was ouchy over her back behind the saddle last week, so I'm done with that. I'm honestly grateful it lasted as long as it did, and with her changing shape so much this spring it was only a matter of time before enough was enough and I was shopping. A more organized person would have sorted things before it was an issue, but time keeps getting away from me (and is it just me or is the resale market insane? Both saddles I decided to sell sold same day!) so we went a week without a saddle.

"Are we doing anything yet?"

Her new-to-her dressage arrived yesterday, but it looks and measures on the narrower side than what I thought I was buying/it is stamped. It's also way older than I thought, but on trying it out, I absolutely love it for myself. Funny, since really I was just interested in finding something to fit her and get us by until she's finished filling out. 

Probably the first Amerigo dressage saddle ever made. I exaggerate, but according to the company rep it was manufactured in 1999 (not 2009, surprise!). It's also a monoflap, another (this time happy) surprise. Saddle shopping is fun, right?! I think what I really like for me is the knee roll is gradual and soft and the seat is shallow and open...supportive without that locked in feel most of the newer ones seem to have.

I am getting the specs so I have a starting point should this not be a long term solution. It does look to fit Sophie perfectly now, but she was grumpy in the up transitions. That may just be her (we were definitely having a mare day and on those days it's not uncommon for her to kick at my leg/be offended by me just existing up there) or it may be the saddle. We'll keep testing. Or maybe someone can send me a saddle fitter for an hour? If it's not right, it's got to be so close that a minor adjustment would do the trick, but S is dramatic and does not tolerate any margin of error. Fingers crossed we can organize a fitter this summer, travel sounds like it's going to be on the table again.

Vacations are not a good idea for Ms Sassy, when will I ever learn?

The other (close contact) saddle to try has of course been lost in the mail(?) somewhere for 3 weeks now and the company is non responsive. I'm getting worried, but I'm crossing fingers I get a parcel or update soon, it is coming from a legit company. Sorry Sophie, I am trying!

I have a clinic this weekend to attend and feel super ill prepared. If I don't have a saddle Sophie likes, I'll take Bridget, I guess. I hate going into a clinic with nothing specific to work on, but I'm hopeful I'll be able to run through a couple of dressage tests on her and get some feedback. She's been feeling great over little fences but her flatwork has got a bit stuck again where she wiggles around behind the contact and forward/straight are suffering a case of the noodles. I find it difficult, because from the ground she almost looks like she's moving out nicely and she's certainly very reactive off the leg - people I think look the the pony and are willing to accept she's just got an average way of going on those short pony legs.

Short legs = optimal ease for reaching grass to sustain round body.

In the saddle you can feel it's not really connected and she's not working consistently behind, so you're always working to keep her from diving off in all directions. Once I get a handle on it, I start getting comments on how fancy she suddenly is, but it's not...it's just her finally carrying herself in balance and IMO just what her working trot or canter should feel like. She's actually quite athletic under that cobby body, it's just she's smart and is totally willing to fake it rather than go to work :)

Anyway, lest you think I'm trying to get B tuned up to get out to the next big show, no, I'm not. She gets to stay semi retired. I just like her and find her to be an interesting puzzle. There is a dressage percent day coming up in August she'll likely go to, but her main role will be to support Sophie's first show experience.

"Say what?!"

 I am glad Sophie is so straightforward under saddle - despite the fraction of a percent of hours she has as compared to Bridget, she's naturally a lot more willing and capable, so she's starting right about where I was after a year of full training on Bridget. I am looking forward to getting a handle on the saddle situation and continuing to move forward with her. 

Part II: Property Updates, coming up next.

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