Thursday 23 May 2024

Day In The Life

 (Less an actual day in the life recap, and more an excuse to post a million photos from the backlog I have)

Spring is well and truly here and with that, the ponies all get so much more time out on grass. We've had such a wet spring they can't even keep up with the vegetation growth, which is insane given there are three of them on just over one (very carefully managed) acre full time. Currently, they're out every morning until lunch, then again from late afternoon until 8-9ish (pony dinner/bedtime)

Correction: make that two grass consuming equines and one tree browsing giraffe

Their summer field around the corner from us looks like a wilderness - the property owners are like "send help now!" :) but gelding got delayed and of course we did not want any surprise foals next spring so group turnout had to wait. I've promised the mowing crew will be starting this weekend. I'm excited and hopeful for everyone to start sharing pasture space. They're been sharing fence lines forever and the current situation is that Sophie wants Buck's baby and thinks Reggie is gross, which Reggie is totally fine with. Both the boys think Sophie is weird and could care less about her company. She calls for them and tries to tell them to stay close to her but they completely ignore her lol. So I have hopes there won't be too much drama.

There are much more interesting things than Sophie, says Buck. Mowing crew training is going well.

Mostly they just chase each other in circles all day though. And I literally mean all day, this is the current game that never gets old. This is also why we need to use a lawnmower, they don't spend much time at all actually eating.

My daily spring projects have ranged from re staining fences to loading trucks of manure for removal to other people's gardens. I'm continuing to work on the riding ring area. Parts of it aren't compacting as I would have hoped but as always, we have a plan to better it and it's certainly rideable and usable as is and I remain grateful for it.

These two just like to use it as a litter box, of course. Also, they so different! It looks like I have a gypsy cob and a thoro-cob atm. It's fun watching them mature and I'm so curious to see what the future will bring. Buck is surprisingly sporty given how little he liked to show off as a foal, and Reggie was a very fancy baby but is definitely going through the world's longest awkward stage now  :).

The babies both get daily grooming and handling. Buck is feeling and looking so much better, but we needed to extend the antibiotics as he's not quite fully healed yet. Luckily he continues to be a good boy about it all - the silver lining to all this is that he's much more well handled now than he would have been if I didn't have to medicate and clean twice a day.

Reggie doing grown up things. Still hates being groomed, is only here for the snacks. Grateful it wasn't him needing twice daily inspections because while he's lovely and lots of fun, by nature he's not nearly as forgiving and patient. I'm confident he'll get there eventually and turn into a fabulous riding horse, but for now he's still part baby orangutan.

Pony kindergarten is going to resume next week. I guess I could have been taking Reggie the past couple of weeks, but it felt mean depriving Buck of his friend when he was feeling unwell (separating them goes OK, but there is room for improvement with Buck in particular missing his friend and worrying). Next week for sure.

Still with the baby face, and I am powerless against it. He gets what he wants.

Black Beauty incoming!

Buck currently wins tag games as he's far more maneuverable...will be interesting to see if that changes in the big field, Reggie has a ginormous stride length compared to compact little Buck.

Used to have a nice trot but now it seems like he only has canter or gallop installed.

I'm still 1000% happy with the decision to purchase the both of them, even though it leaves me with less space and time for riding age horses. I was apprehensive they'd be a lot of work, but despite them both being babies with the obvious crazy energy levels and minute attention spans, they are both really good guys and fairly straightforward personalities. Especially when we compare to the menace that was baby Sophie, lol! If she can turn into a good girl, there's hope for just about any young horse.

is a good girl

Baby Sophie for tax

Finally, I'm sure with me waffling over Sophie it might have crossed a few minds that I might regret leasing Bridget. The answer is a giant NO.

Bridget's little girl wrote a book! (About a girl that loves a pony named Bridget, obviously :D) I get regular updates of all their adventures together and it's about as cute as you'd expect. She gets more love than any pony could ever dream of. While I miss her and am sad sometimes, it's absolutely the best decision I've ever made for one of my horses (and I can see her whenever I like).


Tuesday 21 May 2024

Decisions (Or Lack Thereof)

 I know I keep promising a proper Sophie update, and I apologize that it's taken over a month since her vet visit. 

Proof of life

She is doing fantastic, likely she had just strained a muscle over her right hindquarter. I feel lucky that out of all the things the vet suspected, this was the one 'easy' answer. So, she's good to go back to work any time now. But! Long story made shorter, I think I've mentioned a few times here that she matured quite a bit smaller than I had hoped and I always feel slightly big on her. With this years saddle fitting challenges and then the lameness that we had to wait weeks to get diagnosed, I went to place where I was sure the problem was myself/my weight and I kind of spiraled into a bad place. 

I bought her sight unseen and so took everyone's word for her size...true story I think the vet filled in what he thought her mature height and weight would be, not the actual. So I was expecting a 14.2hh, 750lb two year old, and instead a 13.1hh, maybe 500lb two year old arrived.

I've tried writing a proper post on this a million times but it always ends up feeling way too personal to put online, and honestly I am not a role model for body positivity, mental health, etc. I aspire to be, and I have a wonderful support crew in place, but it's simply not me right now. It's not something I feel overly embarrassed about (it's just one of those things that are what they are) but equally it's hard to find the right words to talk about it. 

I have considered selling her. I did go shopping for something I'd feel more comfortable on (but did not buy), and eventually just came full circle this spring to keeping the status quo while I take a bit more of a break. It's been a bumpy couple of years riding wise and I'm a little burnt out.

looking like she lives in a fancy park with a fountain. The horses can't keep up with the grass so we needed to mow to keep the weeds out, then the neighbours turned on their hay field sprinkler to complete the picture.

I'm keeping half an eye out for the right sale or lease pony, but with every month that passes I'm that much closer to having not one, but two, cobs of riding age. If nothing else, I have a pretty big balance in the "Future Planning" account.

Currently busying themselves with non stop shenanigans


Sunday 12 May 2024

Filed under: things not going to plan

 Sorry for the radio silence, I had meant to follow up with a Sophie update, but decisions are still not completely formed about next steps and I'm boring even myself with all my waffling and vague thoughts. For now, she's having a continued break and is happy and content while I think on the best path forward.

I've been very distracted elsewhere because poor Buck is having some complications with gelding. That's obviously been very upsetting and taking up most of my thoughts.

He's out in the yard basically 24/7 right now because I feel like otherwise he parks in front of the hay net for too many hours of the day and steady movement can only help. He spends most of his day eating trees and shrubberies and following me around, he's less fussed about grass/grazing

If I'm not mistaken, we're almost two weeks out from the vet visit now. There were a few days immediately after of 'Ugh, I don't feel great about this swelling, but it's within the realm of normal and he's bright and happy and running around like normal' so I tried to just relax and go with the program. After all, he's young and healthy and everything I've ever been told is that it's a pretty minor surgery with minimal chance of complication.

 Then suddenly last Wednesday night it really wasn't OK at all.  Things got nasty fast. Everything swelled up twice what it had been. The drainage that had previously felt like it was in the realm of normal turned into a flow of horrible looking stuff complete with chunks of infected tissue. The poor little guy was really depressed and in a lot of pain. I've normally got a pretty strong stomach, but when it's my horses that goes out the window. Don't even talk to G about it, he was already having some manly sympathy around the whole thing and now it's basically the stuff of guy nightmares.

Here's a picture of some lilacs

and a sunset

We are starting to see improvement with continued antibiotics and bute. It's nowhere near resolved. I'm optimistic the worst is behind us but I'm also still not feeling great about the situation. I trust the vet but I'd feel better if she was local and could come check him out in person because I'm a worrier and read too much. 

Playing wild stallions a few weeks ago

I think I'm going to opt out of gelding procedures in general for the rest of my life. It's been rough. The actual procedure for Reggie didn't go smoothly at all, and now this with Buck isn't giving me the warm fuzzies either. Mares or existing geldings only from now on, please!

The one silver lining in all of this? Buck is an absolute certified angel, like you couldn't ask for a better patient. I know he was G's pick and 'his' horse, but it's a not-so-secret secret around here that there is a conflict of interest and he is my favorite pony while G "has no favorites'' but is quite partial to Sophie ;)

Iz friend

I'm used to mares who choose violence and hold epic grudges if they're even slightly inconvenienced or uncomfortable, so maybe my standards are low. Buck is a star regardless, though. This morning I just walked up in the field with my silver honey spray and fly repellent and jar of swat and antibiotic pills he was like 'ok lady, do what you gotta do'. No halter, no worries. He also just eats his meds right up without me having to get super creative. Easy and low fuss is absolutely unheard of around these parts so you can bet he's being told how wonderful he is multiple times a day.

Happy muddy pony on his first birthday a few weeks ago. He's feeling pretty sad right now and I hate that for him.

Shout out to Reggie too, I thought for sure I was going to need to separate them (and stress poor Buck out further) but he's been very respectful and has put his normal super intense self on hold. No bullying, no trying to roughhouse, not even any generic destruction of objects. He's scaled back his energy level to match Buck and is being a very good and supportive friend. We don't admit Reggie is a good boy out loud around here, though, because compliments go straight to his little rock star head.

Looking very civilized. Good boy, Reggie.

Fingers crossed for some normality soon, I'm going to sleep a lot better once Buck is healing and feeling more like himself. We're not quite there yet, but I feel like we're trending better. The big summer field around the corner is waiting for them, just as soon as Buck is feeling well enough.


Thursday 2 May 2024

Vet Day


Pony kindergarten didn't happen last week because I somehow caught pneumonia a couple of weeks ago and have been basically sleeping and feeling sorry for myself. I also missed the clinic I signed up for last weekend, which stinks, I feel like I've been on a roll for a year or two with signing up for clinics only to be unable to attend.

This week pony kindergarten also didn't happen because they got gelded that day instead. Fun times! I've had colts before but it's been a while. I didn't remember it being an overly big deal and wasn't worried about the appointment (I paid for college by being a vet assistant so you'd think I'd be OK) but the experience felt really hard this time around...definitely emotions involved because they're my horses, but also the actual procedure didn't go super smoothly for Tradey. Before you worry, it all turned out fine. But turns out he's just kind of impossible to sedate, so even with draft horse quantities of sedatives he was still randomly waking up and flailing and groaning and it all felt dramatic and gory and took way longer than I would have liked. Then of course he was on his feet way sooner than he needed to be despite everyone's best efforts to keep him quiet, and was quite upset to see his buddy Buck down for the count. 

Grazing quietly last night.

I'm probably making it sound like a nightmare and logically it was fine, the vet team is great and calm and professional - just as the owner it was tough to see him struggling so hard and I think if there is a next time I will opt to take them to the clinic and not be present. Husband G was there to assist with holding recovering ponies (Sophie got her annual teeth and vaccines too so we had three sleepy ponies to keep an eye on) and he was visibly upset which just added to the feelings. You know how you're barely holding it together and then if one person cracks you're done for? I was feeling it. Poor guy didn't sign up for this sh!t. So, current feelings are 0/10 would not recommend, but glad it's done and over with. We're two days out and both boys are doing well, just a little quieter than normal.  Hopefully by this weekend they'll be back to their normal activity levels and pony kindergarten attendance will resume.

Buck practicing for kindergarten last week

Sophie got her check up too, and after the dramatics and worry over the last visit, it was decided she probably strained a muscle in her right hindquarter a few weeks ago. A huge relief. She is barely reactive to it now, and was declared sound, so has the green light to get back to work. I've got a lot of thoughts incoming, but I'll save that for the next post.

Sleeping off the sedatives with her head propped on the hay bag


Monday 22 April 2024

Other Happenings and Ponderings

I kind of left you on a cliffhanger with Sophie, and it's just a case of no news being OK news. The bute and/or time off has helped and she's much better but she's still not as consistently happy as she should be. She's obviously still getting checked out at month's end when the vet is back. No matter what, I do feel like there are some decisions to be made re: what my future plans for her might be, but also taking (a lot of) deep breaths and a time out from worrying about solving all of it instantly is a good thing. We'll figure it out when we get there, for now having time off in the field can't hurt.

Serenity needed

I ended up auditing the 'straightness training' clinic I had planned to take Sophie in. It was not at all what I expected but still super interesting. I had to suck it up and get past the part right at the beginning about x,y,z injuries being caused solely by bad riding...when x and y are things my vet will be investigating later this month.

Common sense and the google assures me that there are many causes for different injuries, and 'bad' riding may or may not be one of the many, but I struggle with a pretty icky feeling about that statement.

I'm glad I got over myself and stuck it out, because the clinic was valuable and left me with a lot to think about. At it's most basic level assessed a variety of horses, looking at their conformation, balance, and musculature. Discussion followed on how things could be improved, and exercises that might benefit each horse.

It was really neat to see how she evaluated everything from the ground and how well the clinician was able to predict things the riders/horses struggle with. I'm normally able to pick up on things like conformation and uneven muscling and how they might relate to riding, but this got really in depth. I left with a bit of a feeling that it's all repackaged things a good trainer would note and help you with anyway - building a balanced and even horse via correct riding or exercise isn't a new concept, but breaking it down into little pieces on the ground by really evaluating the horse in front of you felt useful to me. (and you know I ran home with it all fresh in my mind and made sure I wasn't barn blind and missing any red flags of 'bad riding' (yes I'm still a little irked) re: Sophie)

Feeling better because she’s much more active than she was. Chaos levels were disturbingly low for a few weeks there.

In other news, I'm sure you can figure out I'm in a bit of a funk about my currently NQR Banana Pony, but the babies have been doing a good job of distracting me. I took Tradey/Reggie to baby pony kindergarten last week and he was a rock star. Literally, I think he believes he is one, because he strolled in like he owned the place and proceeded to pose and show off and generally gave off a 'look at me' vibe. Not short on confidence, this one. He kept a lid on his more chaotic feelings and I left feeling pretty proud of the little guy - trailering solo to a new area with strange horses and expected to keep all four feet on the ground for an entire hour was a big ask and I truly was mentally prepared for all sorts of shenanigans. I have zero pictures, which I really regret. Next time!

But this is cute, right? They nap from about 12-2 every afternoon. It’s adorable.

Bakari/Buck (I need to start calling them by their barn names - I'm randomly calling them both 'Buddy' then pulling out their registered names if someone needs further clarification). Anyway, Buck. Buck scared himself a little during trailer loading practice the other day and had a little setback with that. He's not so confident and he's also smart, so it's taken a few days to get him settled again. His adventures are going to be put on hold until there is a little more money in the trust bank...I don't think loading him up and taking him to pony kindergarten when he's still a little suspicious is the best plan - he's not the type to forgive and get on with things if you push it.

Buck has a full sister! I want her
There is a family resemblance, I think:) Buck (and his momma) are technically smokey black, in case you’re wondering how a black mare and a chestnut stallion made a palomino this time.

Everybody is acting super herd bound right now. Spring is here and there are springtime feelings. Might give you context why I'm so pleased Reggie acted semi grown up for his outing last week - his normal self is 2000% chaos and bad choices and bullying his friends. We're at a point where gelding is going to make everyone's life easier. He's not awful, but I already see it being more and more of a job to keep on top of the studdy behaviour.

I don’t even want to get in to how many fence repairs this guy caused last week. 

Buck is actually the most civil of everyone, but he worries when everyone else is acting like an idiot. I feel like he's wondering if he should also be super dramatic but he's still very babylike and not sure what the fuss is about and why the other two are being so weird <3 I miss Bridget, I think I made a tactical error because she'd be an excellent role model for babies, where Sophie is more about encouraging chaos and poor life choices.

Springtime Sophie, looking peaceful (it’s a trick tho, don’t fall for it)


Tuesday 16 April 2024

Happy Birthday!

In a case of time making no sense at all, how has it possibly been one year since they were born, but also, why is taking so long for them to grow up, I'm itching to ride them already!

Trademark/Tradey/Reggie is only10 days older than his 'brother' Bakari/Buck and they are of course both Welsh Cobs from the same farm. The similarities end there, and I'm here for it. I'm glad we opted for two different types, especially after waffling over it for months and very nearly doubling down on the more sporty type. 

I'm really, really liking little Buck. He's sensistive and spicy enough to be interesting and he's just genuinely a good guy. I like his look and I feel like once he's mature he's going to be pretty close to what I have in my mind as an ideal cob. I can see him being a really nice all arounder and fitting the 'Bridget, but a little more' cob I've wanted.

Half my pictures of him in motion make him look like a little round ball

And he kind of is. He's also pretty bum high at the moment.

Reggie currently encapsulates all the reasons I always felt a little more like a mare person. He's into literally everything, everything is a game, he's perpetually got nicks and scrapes all over him from making impulsive decisions. He's currently the equine equivalent of a very cocky teenage boy, and there are days I I love him and am exhausted by him in equal measure :) I feel bad for little Buck some days, because not only is Reggie a lot more energetic, he is a lot more athletic, so he's still fresh and ready for more play time when Buck is ready for a bath and a nap. He's a pretty stunning mover (I need to up my game and get video of his canter for you) and I feel very lucky he landed here with me.

currently looking quite leggy and refined

also standing still for pictures this day, good boy!

normal status is cantering everywhere he goes, then scaring himself

Both boys are enrolled in pony kindergarten, starting this week. Our little equine community luckily has a couple of other people with younger horses so we've planning weekly meetups as an excuse to get them out for little adventures and some low key groundwork. I'm thinking I'll alternate taking them because pony adventures and exposure to new things are geat, but also they're too young for jobs and there's no real training needed or required at this point, let them grow up a little more :)

growing up is hard work


Thursday 4 April 2024

It doesn't feel OK today

Sophie had her bodywork appointment last week. Interestingly, after all my concerns about the saddle, she's not actually sore in a way that relates to saddle fit, tack, or rider. After being so hyper focused on tack and correct work for the pony it’s felt a little weird to wrap my head around it not being that, probably it never has been that. If you press me I still don’t/won’t feel confident about that saddle, but it seems we’ve moved on for now. 

The bad news is that whatever is going on isn’t magically resolving itself with a saddle fitting and massage appointment (or so far, time off). The good news is the vet was here and took a quick look and agreed we are looking at something hind end/back related and has a few things she’d like to investigate, none of which felt like anything I wanted to hear. Some of it felt quite scary, in fact.

 For now we do a bute trial, and Sophie stays out of work until the vet comes back. It wasn’t felt like it was necessary to trailer her over to the clinic now (it would be a long day in the trailer for a sore pony), but that is an option that’s available. I'll probably take her if she's feeling worse or I can't handle the not knowing. 

Of course we can go down the rabbit hole to infinity and wonder if the 'saddle fit issues' or the ulcers last summer or the weird quirky things she does or even why she’s always carried her tail to the left have all actually been caused or at least concurrent with something else…horses are nothing if not walking red flags. 

That being said, she’s bright and happy and sociable and is currently enjoying Head Lawnmower and Baby Pony Protector status.

It's dirty work, but someone has to do it.

It feels very indulgent to admit that this kind of just feels like the one more thing that's finally breaking me. While there are plenty of great things going on, from a riding my pony perspective the last year has felt like a series of setbacks between us both, and prior to that of course I was worried about scaling Bridget back to an appropriate level and keeping her hocks happy with minimal vet intervention. I’m just feeling tired and beat up and like it's been forever since I got to ride and enjoy my horses without any reservations.

Fingers crossed this is just a minor blip on the radar. I'll take feeling dumb about posting here being dramatic and overly worried in exchange for a sound and happy pony any day. But, I thought if anyone understands the stress and worry that comes with your horse not feeling themselves, it’s this community of bloggers and supporters (who I very much appreciate!)


Tuesday 26 March 2024

Life's A Beach

So I went a little overboard with the arena sand. Not in an "I've definitely messed this up!" sort of way, but more like I exceeded the scope of the current project. I was planning to put down maybe 1/2" of bedding sand to compact, mesh and settle with the base for a bit before adding more for footing. 

Two giant dumps trucks weren't quite enough for that plan, so we ended up with a third truck and suddenly what feels like so.much.sand. The amount makes some sense -  dump truck loads are a rather large measurement for our little space and the reality is I wasn't going to pay time and delivery for 25% of a truck, when eventually I was going to need more anyway. Smart financial choices, right?

Bring me all the sand. Seriously, load that thing to the brim.

The critical mistake I made here is not booking a bobcat or tractor to spread such a large quantity of material. In my little budget conscious mind, raking and dragging a thin layer of sand is a doable thing and I was saving money for later. Future Me could not feel guilty about hiring the fancy truck that sprays the sand around evenly once we were talking footing. Now we're kind of in a middle realm where it's not quite enough to be the 'forever footing', but also it's too cushy to just be part of a base layer and I might as well plan to ride on it as soon as it packs a little.

My current reality is that with the extra almost a full truck and the fact that a lot of it ended up at the north end of the space, me and my little landscape rake plan seems laughable.

Going to have abs and arms of steel, at least

Being a crazy and determined and poor horse girl, I did rake an entire thin layer covering the gravel base. Eventually though, faced with a significant amount left, resorted to google and youtube (literally "how do I spread and level sand without a tractor" and found a multitude of how to videos - mostly involving middle aged white guys obsessed with having the perfect level lawn, but also a few nuggets of wisdom from handy people who built their own arena drags and DIY levellers.

Welding is beyond me, and I don't have scrap metal laying around. I do however, have a bunch of wood from house renos. And a truck.

Behold, my thing of beauty, made from old window trim and two old front entrance stair treads. Two gate chains to attach it to the bar from our regular chain harrow:

I noticed the nosy neighbour creeping my latest crazy idea and was fully prepared for him to have some great dinner conversation with his wife about my latest failure once it imploded. 

But NO! It works!  
looks like progress to me

I mean I could dive in and improve it, but it's getting dismantled and returning to the parts shed when I am done, so my commitment level is not high. It works and that's literally all my aching arms need at the moment. 
getting closer to being rideable!

I won't lie, I see all the horror stories online of all the multitude of ways ring building projects can go wrong and I'm having a bit of anxiety about how uneven it is...but also, we're not done spreading it. And worst case, time and a tractor will fix it.