Friday, 17 May 2019

Day 6: Hand Me Downs

The second kid never gets the good stuff.

I'd like this picture a whole lot better if she wasn't wearing an ancient halter with "Bridget" written on it in permanent marker :)
On the flip side, having an older "sister" like Bridget means you have a lot of things you can borrow and try on.

Like this saddle! Checking the whole "wearing a saddle again" off my to do list. Sophie was skeptical of the saddle pad so I spent a little time with that, otherwise she was fine and we skipped the rodeo this time. 
Sophie finished out her afternoon by being nearly perfect for the farrier. Thank goodness, because I really wasn't keeping her toes short enough and needed the check in.

Ponies have the best dapples.
Onwards to the weekend!
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Thursday, 16 May 2019

Days 3-5: Life In The Pen

I realized after going through my pictures that Sophie's life currently consists of moving from one round pen to another. She's got two to choose from right now for turnout, simply because it's the safer fencing to introduce her to her new neighbours over. Poor thing, her recent adventures also consisted of me taking her down the road to yet another round pen. We'll let her out of jail soon, I promise :)

Life in the pen

Anyway, I thought I'd make notes for each of the next 90 days. Kind of as if she was at a real trainer's.

Days 1 and 2 I've already recapped and consisted of trailering and settling in, plus a walk down to the show grounds and a visit to the round pen.

Day 3: Day off.
 I had to travel down the coast and pretend to be an office worker for a couple of days (I self identify as a professional equestrian, however I am not good at riding and horses have sadly has never paid me a dime, so my resume says GIS Analyst,  lol) By all accounts, Sophie was a good girl in my absence.

So many ferry rides

Day 4: Eat your vegetables, Sophie.
 I got the ferry  home in time for a late dinner, and it became apparent fussy pony has been simply dumping her dinner bucket and not eating it. Do I mix it differently than the boarding barn? One of life's mysteries, I guess. She's a super picky eater, defying all the normal pony stereotypes. I was short on time so I wanted to just quickly run the rasp over her feet and she was an absolute monster about it. We had a discussion, I picked up the most offensive foot without drama, and called it a day. The farrier is booked for the weekend and Sophie better not get us fired.


Day 5: "Do you want a chain for that thing?" - the barn owner.
Someone was not on her best behaviour as I was leading her out the driveway. I've got zero time for that so by the time we got out to the road she was minding her manners again and I didn't need to take up the barn owner's offer. Sophie found a few things to be spooky at on our walk, but was generally quite brave. Once at the club area, I thought now or never as far as teaching her to longe. She exceeded all my expectations and tried her little heart out. Walk/trot/whoa both directions were pretty solid! A couple of little bobbles as she tried to figure it out but she was listening and calm and genuine, so what more can you ask for. We'll leave canter for another day - I was extra pleased with her given the fact it's a huge open space in there and the park was pretty busy with distractions. When we got home she ate her dinner with zero hesitation. Guess it tasted better today?

No actual pics of her longeing because I don't have enough hands.

I'm off now for a 4 day weekend, and have hopes of reintroducing her saddle and firming up the longeing concept. I'd also like to get her out on the trail by ponying her off Bridget. I'm really enjoying having a plan and some goals to work towards again.

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Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Day 2

Day 2 of Pony Boot Camp is in the books. I am off now to work today, then back home tomorrow afternoon to resume week 1. The tentative plan is to try for 5 days a week of pony outings now through fall. Sophie is 3 now, so I think it's reasonable that she have a schedule similar to Bridget's (except of course we keep things short and sweet for Sophie!) You can see from yesterday's picture that she's going through another big growth spurt, so obviously I won't be pushing for anything under saddle until she finds her own balance and matures more physically.

Anyway, today consisted of just walking down to the arena and reminding her of W/T/C cues in the round pen. Simple, yet this can be surprisingly difficult for young horses given it's a 15 minute walk down a surprisingly busy stretch of road, and away from all their friends.


I was proud of her for remembering her manners and leading decently, despite being quite up and spooky with all the things to look at. Of course the first vehicle to pass us was a loud truck with an ATV on a trailer behind it, but she was solid and remembers sharing the road with traffic last summer, it seems. She's actually braver than Bridget about a lot of things. Even though Bridget is quiet and doesn't react too much, she's not naturally confident and usually I am pushing her and providing the confidence, where Sophie's go to when she's unsure is to want to run over and investigate and take charge herself if she can.


Once at the club grounds, she was again feeling a bit anxious, but had no issues listening to me and I was quite surprised to find she's pretty solid with voice commands in the round pen...don't ask me how because I've yet to teach her to longe, and she's maybe been in a round pen 3 or 4 times for very short sessions.  Smart girl, or a mind reader. Or maybe a bit of both...I'm sure my body language tells her what I want and she's always watching me! I was especially impressed she was obedient to my requests for "whoa" and "walk" given she had plenty of energy to burn.

Fingers crossed, I'm still thinking I lucked out and got another good one :)


"Good pony!"









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Monday, 13 May 2019

She's Home!


Loading Sophie in the trailer was quite comical.

Her first response was to want to spook and bolt far, far, away which had me questioning my decision to leave the driveway gate open (and my lack of gloves). Also, her sanity because it's not like she's never seen a trailer before. In fact, shes spent numerous hours on this very one. Apparently I give her a few months off to grow up and she's Wild Pony of The Raincoast, I guess.

Wild Pony is also super awkward and butt high. At this rate she might be horse sized by the end of summer.

When I opened the door, though and she saw Bridget in there she basically took one last look at her pasture buddies and jumped in the trailer to say hi to Bridget with zero urging from me.  She then proceeded to trailer without a peep to the place I board Bridget. Hopped of super calmly, and proceeded to chill out eating lunch in her temporary accommodations. Yesterday marked her third birthday, so perhaps she thought we were simply doing a lunch out in her honor :D

Been a while since we hauled the ponies anywhere!

All in all, it was far less eventful than I thought it might be. Given her apparent undying love for her previous pasturemates and the minimal amount I've done with her since last fall I thought there would at least be a lot of screaming and looking for them. Perhaps she's not as feral as she might have us believe, perhaps she's under the misguided notion that Bridget will be her new bestie (she may be wrong on that count, B was surprisingly unimpressed to be reunited with her and spent the afternoon on the opposite side of her paddock, ignoring the shared fenceline with S) :D

Bridget is trying the "if you ignore it it might go away" method of dealing with recent developments, lol

Today, I plan to get her out to the arena and see how that goes. She's a good girl, but a lot more sassy and disrespectful than I like at the moment, so we might have a few days of reestablishing rules and going over what she learned last summer and fall before anything new and interesting happens on the baby pony front.

Hey look, riding pictures! I do ride Bridget a few times a week, but our "dressage" amounts to this and we don't take anything too seriously anymore. I mostly just do a lot of bending and suppling exercise to keep her feeling good.

 I apologize in advance - I love baby horses and basic training puzzles, but this blog is probably going to be a little (a lot?) dull for those of you looking for lesson and show recaps...I simply don't have time to do both if I want to get Sophie out 5 days a week for baby boot camp and keep B in shape and commute for work. Give us another year and we'll hopefully be back to that life.

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Friday, 10 May 2019

Bring On The Weekends!

I was feeling so awful last week that I went ahead and booked this coming Monday off so I can have an extra long weekend. Luckily, whatever bug I had seems to have passed, so the extra day feels much more like a gift than a necessity :)

The weather is also doing it's part by providing our area with an impromtu summer. Just two weeks ago we were freezing over night, now we are up to 26C/80F - definitely on the hot side for us! My spring garden is confused and unhappy, but I'll take sunshine and warmth any day.


Everything is so green!

The big excitement planned for this weekend is moving Sophie "home". I'm hoping to get that accomplished either Saturday or Sunday, and am feeling quite impatient to have her back especially given all this good weather. I'm ready for baby pony boot camp!

Doesn't suspect a thing ;)

Next weekend is also a long weekend, so it feels like I am barely going to be working. Even more exciting for me is that following that I'm on an adapted schedule all the way through to September. Basically, I will only be away working 2 days a week rather than the 3 I currently am, thanks to the much more accomdating summer ferry schedule (thank you tourists!). I'll still work from home too, so my paycheck won't be impacted - I'll just have more barn time. 

Less time waiting at this ferry dock is a great thing for me.

See you Tuesday! Hope everyone has a great weekend.
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Thursday, 9 May 2019

Social Media


For quite a few years now, this blog has been my main place to document my thoughts and experiences with the ponies, and the wonderfully unexpected side effect of that has been all the cool people I've connected with online.  So, along with giving this space a refresh, part of my 2019 goals were to put myself out there a little more, both in real life and online.

I am surrounded by water and big ass mountains. Luckily, there is a fiber optic cable connecting us under that ocean :)

Since I live in a geographically isolated area and spend way too many of my pennies on horses instead of travel, putting myself out there in person can be a bit difficult. Luckily, social media is a thing, so I've started an Instagram account. I'm probably the last person on earth to do so, but there it is, you can now say hi to me on instagram @raincoastrider.

If we're not already connected on instagram or facebook, feel free to find me or share your social media links in the comments if you wish...as you all know I love following along in your adventures :)



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Wednesday, 8 May 2019

5 Steps to Remember Jump Courses and Dressage Tests

News flash: I'm way out of practice at remembering courses.

Me, watching a couple of riders go the other weekend, while I was supposed to be gathering intel for our riders hacking over for stadium:

-"That's a nice saddle pad. Wonder where she got it?"
-"Riders are consistently getting in too close to the red jump."
-"The grey horse is gorgeous!"
-"OOHH PONY!"
-"Love her coat. Does it come in adult sizing?"
-"Are those thunderstorms coming?"
-"I'd like to build a jump like that at home..."*mentally calculating supplies required*
-"Ohh look, there's where the courses are posted" *gets distracted talking to show photographer*

Yeah, not such a great success rate on learning the course if left to my own devices.

This should have been a great picture, but I had the photographer crop my face out because I was SO STRESSED looking...and it was all because I thought I might forget the course :D

So, if you're like me and are directionally challenged and have the attention span of a gnat, here's some tricks I use that work for me:

1. Get the picture ahead of time. I'm not the type of person that can look at the course diagram posted on the fence and remember it. If I take a picture with my phone and walk away somewhere quiet to study it, it's much easier. Dressage tests are my jam because I know what they'll be weeks in advance. On the day, I often find it helpful to get a visual by watching people go before me. I always walk my jump or xc courses, and have been known to walk my dressage tests in my living room too.

2. Know my start inside and out. On a stadium or XC course: where it is, where I approach from, what kind of canter I'd like to have. In dressage, this equates to knowing what bend I'd like to enter on and what happens after x. I find I'm most nervous and apt to forget things as I'm riding in, so if I can visualize and nail down a great start, my brain freeze melts and the rest usually flows more easily.

After that:

3. I mentally group lines of jumps or dressage movements. I try not to focus on looking for individual jumps one at a time and will often group dressage tests by changes in gait. So, the trot work at the start is one part, the walk another, canter another, change rein trot work another, etc. In jumping, it's 'outside line' or 'down the hill' or ' the yellow farm themed ones' etc. Keep your groups of things to 4 or less - most people can remember a sequence of 4 things fairly easily.

4. Remembering turns or changes in the pattern, by giving myself a visual place marker of where I want to turn and what towards. In dressage this is easy, there are markers for that purpose. In jumping, I help myself out by picking something permanent, like a tree or the stables as a visual reminder of what direction to go. ie, I might plan 'after the blue line of jumps if I turn towards the maple tree, that will line me up perfectly for the next group of jumps'. My lizard brain then only needs to know to go to the maple tree after the last blue jump, and the next part of course will appear before me  :)

5. Noting where the finish line is. Probably not a problem for most of you, but I've been caught out before on jump and XC courses, giving myself unneeded worry by mentally checking out after the last jump and then having to look for the timer. Remember to ride that course all the way to the finish line, everyone!

Bonus: Practice at home. Remembering patterns can be a learned skill...ask me how I know. My coach purposely used to set twisty complicated courses at home and then mess with me by telling me the course once and having me immediately go do it.


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Monday, 6 May 2019

Maybe Tomorrow

This week was a bit of a bust. I was really not feeling well and it felt like every time I got up a bit of determination to do something, I immediately regretted it and wanted to crawl into bed instead.

Bridget was cool with having a week off tho

Luckily, Bridget was preoccupied and has fallen madly in love with her neighbour and quite happily spent a good part of her days planning for a baby. I didn't have the heart to tell her that her neighbour is a mare.

She's already 10 this year, so I'm sort of feeling like I should commit to something soon if I'm going to go down the path of having a foal from her. I'd like to stick to purebred, but they're not common here. We'll see, I guess.

Kisses for her mare friend.

Bridget also got her feet trimmed by yours truly...the first time I've tackled it alone. I'm not super proud of the results, but I don't think they suck, either.  I booked  the real farrier next weekend so I wanted to try by myself this weekend while I felt like there was not much risk because she'll be checking my work.

Badminton was of course also live streaming. I really liked the course this year - it didn't seem dangerous and rewarded the right things and mostly the scores were influenced by time penalties. I like watching Kentucky, but I have to say Badminton knocks it put of the park as far as media and commentary goes.

Sophie's getting quite dark again as her summer coat comes in.
Sophie...so I didn't end up taking her on an outing. Instead, a visit and a grooming had to suffice because my free sawdust source was available that day and a winter's worth of free pony bedding > an afternoon at the arena. Also, I was tired if we're being honest.

I'm thinking we'll move her to Bridget's barn next weekend anyhow, so one more week to grow up isn't the end of the world.

My mantra this weekend was "maybe tomorrow", so much so my hubby started humming the theme to the Littlest Hobo as I once again made my excuses to avoid or put off whatever activity I or my friends had planned. If you're not Canadian and of a certain age, you might not find that as funny I did :) Sadly, it's Monday already and I'm still feeling pretty wiped out and I'm getting a bit frustrated with it. Fingers crossed it's just a low grade bug that will pass soon.


On a really random side note, for my Canadian friends...I was at a hotel gym last year in Banff and there was the typical mix of travelling professional types and some younger fit types I imagine were on ski vacations. The multiple TVs in there were all tuned to CBC and the volume was LOUD. I was dying because it was a Littlest Hobo marathon and NO ONE was changing the channel and the more I looked around the more I felt like everyone in there was super invested in it :D

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Thursday, 2 May 2019

Small Wins - April

Here we are again, celebrating the little things in life! If you're new here, the rules are simple. I am super good at focusing on all the things I want to do/didn't do/could do better, so in this post I celebrate all the positives from the past month, no matter how small.


This month I:

- Audited a clinic and garnered a ton of ideas for Sophie. Signed Sophie up for the summer session with that clinician, date TBD. Also signed Sophie up for a clinic with an old friend on May 4th. My intentions were good, but sadly it was cancelled. Never mind, we'll keep the trailering plans and do our on thing!

- FINALLY bought a proper camera. Fingers crossed, you'll see more (and better) pictures here moving forward. I'm so grateful for all the input on the camera purchase. I ended up with a Nikon D3500 and am having so much fun with it.

So many Bridget pictures....

- In related news, I've been taking a web and map design course through work and have some fun ideas for this blog. (As ever, the actual content is just going to be me rambling on about life with my horses, but I can at least try to make it visually appealing for you all?)

- Went to a bandaging tutorial. I'm still thinking I prefer boots for our wet and muddy climate, so you won't be seeing any matchy matchy polos over here. However, on the more practical side of things, I now am a lot more confident wrapping for first aid purposes. (Am I the only one who wakes up in the middle of the night like "oh no, I hope I didn't put that wrap on too tight/too loose! Would the barn owner notice if I drove over to check? It's almost light out". Yeah, if nothing else if this course makes my brain stop doing that it was well worth the time.)

- Participated in hoof trimming lessons x2. Again, I don't wish to replace my farrier, but knowledge can't hurt. My confidence using the tools has increased hugely, as has Sophie's patience with me.

- Got everything organized and ready for Sophie to move mid-May.

- Got Bridget out on plenty of trail rides. She's feeling quite sound and happy these days and the intermittent stiffness from early in the year seems to have vanished - fingers crossed the vet was right and it was just a strain, never to return?

- Went to a western games day, conquered some nerves, and had a fun time!

I can't believe it's almost May! Time is flying!
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Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Just Chillin

I had a pretty quiet weekend. I was barn sitting for Bridget's barn owners this past weekend, and it served as a friendly reminder that driving to and from the barn multiple times a day isn't really my thing. I lose the desire to ride when I've already been at the barn a couple of times already in the day. A big part of the joy I get from the horses is just caring for them and hanging out, so I was quite content, just not riding much!
Hanging out Saturday night with Bridget.

Anyway, it was a pretty quiet weekend riding wise...a couple of hacks around the neighbourhood and just a little bit of remembering how to dressage in the arena. I also had a good visit with Sophie, but again very low key.

Spring is here. Even the power line trails are looking rather epic right now.

Our clinic next weekend was cancelled, but I think we're going to trailer Sophie in with Bridget for an outing. That might actually be more fun, since it will be Sophie's first outing of 2019 baby pony training boot camp and expectations might have been a bit high thinking a clinic was a good idea.

She's always up for a visit! See you next week, Sophie :)
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Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Spooky

I caught this creepy dude watching us from the bushes this weekend:

Can't decide if he's sort of cute or just incredibly creepy. I am sure Bridget gets a free pass the next time she spooks at a stump though...this thing is set a bit off the trail and has probably been watching us a good long while. I may or may not have let out a tiny scream when the light caught my eye just so and I turned around and saw it.
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