Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Dancing Like No One Is Watching

We had some nicer weather and the horses were able to go back out into the fields again. It makes me so happy to see how much they enjoy the extra grass and room to run. I took some pictures of some friend's horses enjoying their turnout this past weekend and they looked so pretty, one might even go so far as to say majestic. Then I took some of Sophie. And, well:

I saved the best one for last :D


Monday, 11 November 2019

Flying Fridges!

I did pretty well in working towards my goals for Sophie this past week, if I do say so myself.

We checked off Intro To Night Riding 101 by getting her out just before dusk one night so we were passed by vehicles with headlights. Now to add my headlamp and her reflective quarter sheet and LED lights to the mix in the actual dark and we'll be good to go!

Rainsheet back on last week with the usual drama because she hadn't seen it in at least a week. I think the quarter sheet will be fine though.
She also had a good visit at Aunty Bridget's School Of Equine Etiquette.

Bridget looked at me like "Why?!" when I put Sophie in her field. She secretly loves her, though and likes the bossy mom role. Sophie is noticibly taller than B now!
Sophie thought it was all very fun and exciting. I'm pretty sure she's contemplating kicking the fence here, but she made the right decision.

I even got back on after however many weeks off. Actually, I got back on twice, the first time without a helper, that's how confident I was that she was going to be s good girl.

Obviously giving her all those weeks off hasn't resulted in any progress, but I'm impressed she's game to pick up where we left off. For the record, in the round pen we're kind of able to walk circles to the left... and sometimes we sort of turn right too! :D The feet get stuck often, so there is a lot of disengaging hindquarters and shoulders to keep her moving. Which for an ammy like me is fine... it's all calm and cool,  please take a step forward here, good girl. No speed demons are required now, we can always speed it up later!

It's a bit easier on the trail, given there's only one path to follow, and it goes home! It's probably sketchy as anything  to ride her there given I have such little steering and questionable braking, but honestly she is already showing a bit of boredom with the round pen/arena, and we want to keep this all fun and positive! In order to mitigate the potential for disaster, my husband accompanies us on foot, and has a lead rope handy! Also, if anything weird were to happen, it's a quiet trail right to the barn so there are no worries about traffic or anything like that.

Sorry for the lack of media- it was pouring rain! Here's a picture of Bridget's ears instead on the same trail.

And finally, our big challenge for the week. I feel like I need to give a bit of a back story here so bear with me a moment. There is a metal recycler guy halfway along the road between the barn and the arena. He's super nice, and lets us use his other property to graze the horses and access the trails. We like him! But, I'm afraid I've not been the best at teaching him about horses. Often he's smashing stuff or driving his forklift or using a grinder or welder or whatever. He used to be nice and turn off whatever machinery he was using and wait for us to go by, but over the years that's been forgotten because he didn't need to with Bridget, and I go back and forth sometimes multiple times a day .

A more normal day at the recyclers, again with Bridget ears. 

So, the other night, I was leading Sophie home, and he was out on the road with his forklift. I think he saw us and tried to back up to give us space, but the fridge he was carrying rolled off the forks and started tumbling towards us. Poor Sophie! Lol, she's already a bit suspicious of him and now he's throwing fridges in our path.

Dramatic reenactment. She's spooking at the neighbour's cows here :)

No worries, he came and scooped it up again, and by now Sophie was fascinated. As we passed by him, that fridge was again teetering on the edge of the forks, hanging over a giant metal bin. He shut off the forklift, which I thought meant he was letting us pass. Except no, we were barely past when he simply pushed that thing by hand into the bin. You can imagine the noise a fridge falling from about 5 feet in the air, into a bin of metal makes. About 20 feet behind us, too  :D

If this guy can't bombproof my horses for me, no one can. He should be charging big bucks for the extreme despooking clinic :)

In all fairness, he'd 100% stop or wait if I asked...but for a few years now I've kind of been of the opinion that it's free training and I've been expecting the horses to just deal with it, and they haven't let me down yet.

Bridget couldn't give a flying fridge about any of it.

So there you go, we got stuff done and even have a The Tale of The Flying Fridges (In which no one dies or is even seriously disturbed). For all my talk about what a good girl Sophie is, I have to say honestly, she's pretty hot and sensitive and super opinionated. So, I feel like all of this stuff is especially important for her if I ever want her to be a safe all around pony.


Thursday, 7 November 2019

In The Dark

Every year I'm somehow surprised when the clocks go back and it's dark after work.

Wait, it's only 4:30!!

I had some plans to take Sophie down to the indoor tonight and quit working at 4:00, but I hadn't even finished mucking out before it was really dark out (5:00, for the record) So, on the to do list: Get Sophie used to the assorted lights and reflective gear she'll need to wear to head down the road in the dark. Her very own brand new reflective quarter sheet and some reflective bands and clip on LED lights arrived in the mail yesterday, which is exciting, but I'd rather try all the stuff on for a practice run before I head out on the road in the dark :)

"It's my bed time now" - Sophie

I rode Bridget all last winter with zero issues (besides that one time it got REALLY dark and my headlamp died and I tried to finish up in the unlit outdoor arena to avoid paying the fee for the indoor. I learned that I get motion sickness at anything past a walk if I can't see where I'm going, ha ha)

Bridget being Bridget, the first time she thought it was weird that my headlamp makes a moving light in front of us, but didn't fuss too much. Vehicle headlights on the other hand were definitely worth some worry. She's rock solid now though.

New camera lens is magical...It was dark out and I couldn't see much and yet here is a cute Bridget only the camera could see :)

I'm no expert in equine vision. They do seem to navigate quite well in low light (way better than me!), but my sample size of one says she's less confident in the pitch black....she definitely chooses to follow any lit pathway then and I feel like she really likes my headlamp lighting our way!

It's going to be interesting to see what Sophie thinks of it all. One day I'll have my own place and an arena with lights, one day sooner than that I'll have a trailer. For now though, if we want to keep getting out on weekdays, it's either mornings or evenings and part of the outing is going to be in the dark.

I spy a rotten banana! She's still in pony jail, hence my extra initiative to get her out on weeknights too.

For now, it's only about a 15 minute hack down a very quiet road to get to the equestrian club grounds so we gear up in our best safety and hi viz apparel, and enjoy the quiet evenings with the grounds all to ourselves.


Sunday, 3 November 2019

Time Keeps Flying

In day to day life, I've been struggling to fit everything in. It feels like I never get all the things done, especially since I've been making a concentrated effort to have more "me" time. The weather has been gorgeous so I've been out hiking a lot again.

With my desk job, it's so nice to be outside moving around most of the day on the weekends  and being that good kind of physically tired instead of my weekday routine of being more mentally tired. The forests directly around the barn are closed for logging until Christmas, so I'm trying to find some new horse safe ones. So far, it's mostly just me hiking without horses at the moment!

We found miles of beautiful trails and nice lakes to visit that are within range of the barn, but sadly the river crossing and bridge to access them is not horse safe.

In the bigger picture, it feels like this past year has gone by in a blur. Particularly when I look at Sophie! The sweet baby is gone, and in her place is a very opinionated mare. She was all kinds of awful this week, and pretty much exactly the kind of mare people think of when they decide they're shopping for a gelding :)

Growing up!

She's not done anything too terrible to me beyond generally being cranky and testing boundaries, but she tried to pull attitude and kicked at the farrier (ugh, I HATE being that client) and I also caught her doing the ear pin/head shake thing at my husband when he was chatting to me (BIG mistake, Sophie!). Ditto pulling a nasty attitude with other horses when I took her down to the arena yesterday. She's still learning her opinions are irrelevant when it's work time and that all humans get the same respect that I do! Of course, we also had demolition derby part 2 in which she tried to take down all the fences to get at Bridget and a water bucket pooping incident. Because when you have an acre paddock where else would you poo?

Back to school we go

Suffice to say, she's been no one's favorite to deal with lately. She's a pretty sensitive little thing too, and maybe I'm humanizing it too much, but I do get the feeling she knows some people are a little disappointed/frustrated with her, and it's making her even more insecure.

Farrier made me feel slightly better when she reminded me how awful Sophie was when she first came, and how good she's been until now. It's probably normal the Rotten Banana makes a reappearance now as a horsey teenager. Hormones influencing bad decisions , I guess we've all been there?

Exercise makes the feelings go away

Anyway, despite some online window shopping and regrets that I didn't buy another Bridget, we decided to keep Sophie for now ;) and got her out for a bit of boot camp this week. It wasn't overly fun, but sometimes that's just horses. I know she's going to turn out fantastic, because smart opinionated mares make some of the best horses. It's just convincing them to want to be good citizens that's the fun part!

Ears up, Sophie!

It's just a good thing I've been getting lots of hiking and yoga in too, because oh boy have I needed to bring my best Zen mind to the barn this week. It's also a great thing Bridget's such a good girl. We'd have been kicked out of the barn long ago, but the barn owners love Bridget so I think they put up with Sophie so that I won't move Bridget too. One day, I hope Sophie will be just as nice to have around...after all, Bridget wasn't always a little angel, either!

Zen meditations for the days when your horses forget they are domesticated


Friday, 1 November 2019


Ms Sophie is back in Pony Jail as of last night. I arrived to find an extremely frustrated barn owner out repairing broken fence boards, and Sophie back living in the round pen.

She's taken to double barreling the fence rails. I think it started as her being a bit stupid about dinner time and thinking she needed a huge neighbour free perimeter around her. Never mind that they're all minding their own business eating in their own paddocks. Typical grumpy mare thing, though.

It's not like they're big beefy rails, but all the other horses seem to be ok with the electric plus the wood fence.

Now I think she's doing it just because she thinks she's pretty hot stuff and isn't otherwise preoccupied. The end game doesn't seem to be escape, because she doesn't go anywhere. I think she just likes to be dramatic and pretend she's the boss of the horses next door. I've worked at and managed barns before, so I'm all too aware that I'm the owner of the pain in the butt horse everyone kind of wishes they didn't have to deal with.

She has lots of space, just chooses to spend a lot of time up against the shared fenceline with her neighbours.

This obviously can't continue. She can't live in the round pen without shelter when the rain comes back.  She also can't keep wrecking stuff. Plus, I worry she's going to get caught up in a fence or otherwise hurt herself.

I've got a temporary 2 phase plan. Part one is to put her in with Bridget for a bit and cross my fingers hard Bridget still feels like being dominant mare and disciplining her for kicking at her.

In jail.

Part 2 is she's going back to work, effective immediately. Tired ponies are good ponies.

Back up plan is to send her back to the full board place I had her at last winter. She lives out in the herd there and there are two geldings there that don't take any crap from her. She's got scars to prove it, which sucks, but neither are unfair to her, so there's that.

We went for a walk to a different lake last week. It was so pretty. Sophie needs to go back soon - its about a 3-4 hour round trip leading her.