Monday, 1 June 2020

Getting Things Done


As the title would imply, I got a LOT of things done this weekend.

Friday, we traveled down the coast and moved out of my rental down there. I thought it would just be a couple of hours of cleaning, but apparently in 5 years I managed to accumulate more things than I thought. Let's just say my tack and riding clothes are about double what I thought I had...apparently I've been keeping an entire set of everything there for the odd time I ride at my coach's barn, and obviously I have everything here too. So, that was kind of eye opening :D

It is a pretty ferry ride, though. I can't believe the snow in the mountains is almost gone already!

We still managed to make it an easy day trip. It was pretty disappointing to see the ferry full of vacation goers, but it was nice to get out, and I'll miss it there. 5 years ago I somehow found a pretty cheap rental in one of the more exclusive waterfront areas of the coast. Let's just say I'll probably never be able to afford to live in that neighborhood ever again in this life time! We had fun checking out the yachts and fancy 'cottages' one more time, but it's honestly a huge weight off my shoulders to not be split between two homes and all the assorted financial commitments that go with that. I'm much happier living in our much more modest neighborhood here with my husband.

I also quite enjoy being able to afford to keep both ponies together here and have grazing for them - prices for all things equestrian are also significantly more there and with the cost of land being so high turnout options are pretty limited.

I spent a good part of Saturday sorting all my stuff into sell/giveaway/keep piles and attempting to fit the stuff I just can't part with into my space in the laundry room. The laundry room here is huge, but  at this point more resembles a tiny tack store than anything else. We do have a basement storage room that I might need to re purpose for exclusively horses but we're thinking this isn't our forever house. I'm not sure an in house tack room will really up our resale value lol

While going through everything, I found a big envelope full of ribbons and old test sheets and show programs from our last proper show season. It really made me miss showing and all the accomplishments that go along with having a structured program and goals. Fingers crossed hard next year we will all be able to resume a more normal lifestyle including more opportunities to get out with our horses.
For now, we rest ;)

And finally, Sunday I RODE! The outdoor arena is nearly finished and Bridget and I got to be testers.

So much new sand.

The ride itself was depressing, but fun. We're both so out of riding shape and both of our bodies weren't totally with the program. I could feel my heels creeping up and my right shoulder tipping forward and I'd correct it only to feel myself back at it a few strides later. Those were my two worst habits and I was so hopeful all that time with EC's eagle eyes on me had eradicated them forever! But, I guess when your life includes sitting at a desk and many hours of hiking each week the heels and the shoulder will be a thing to watch forever. My general floppiness was also pretty depressing. Bridget is also out of practice so falling out through the shoulder and defaulting to a counterbent pony banana who can only turn left is a thing again (Although we can partly attribute it to my lack of effective management in the saddle too).


Never mind, though, not sure why I'm even focusing on that - it's pretty normal to be out of shape if you haven't been riding! The real focus of the day was just getting out there and we did.

 I kept it to a short, easy ride in the ring and a nice long rein hack home.

It was super fun to be back in the saddle after such an inconsistent spring. I'm forever grateful for Bridget. I probably hadn't ridden since a short hack three weeks (!) ago and just hopped on in a very different than normal looking arena (the middle fence got taken out and the perimeter landscaping has had a few changes) and had zero issues. She seemed quite happy to get out and have a job.

On another pretty great note, we left Sophie at the barn alone in an old round pen (no risk of fence smashing!) and she happily stuffed herself with grass and didn't make a peep. Turns out she is a pony after all - apparently food solves any problem :D Can I also hope this wasn't just a fluke and she's maybe growing up a little?

"Oh hi, there! Sorry, did you go somewhere? I was busy eating."

Since I have the best husband in the world who now has time on his hands, we've come up with a plan to make riding more realistic this summer. He's going to help me with waters and mucking, moving ponies and cleaning pastures every second day, so I'll have more time to ride on the alternate day. (I SO appreciate having this space, but I think I've mentioned just due to the layout and paddock sizes, in the summer picking paddocks is a minimum of an hour to an hour and a half every day. Add in rotating fields, feeding and cleaning waters or a quick grooming and I'm usually there two or more hours and out of time to ride. We tested out doing paddocks together every second day instead and it worked well - about 90 minutes and we were done! If we do that, then 3-4 times a week I will have nothing much to do but ride!)

Because picking poo out of long grass is an experience we both should share, lol.


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Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Overmorrow


"I'll do that tomorrow, or the next day"


That seems to be how things with the horses are progressing. And this week I really have zero excuses! The indoor arena is open again, the outdoor is nearly finished being resurfaced. The weather has been nice enough and I work from home right now so it's not like I don't have time. I'm getting tons of inspiration via real life friends, youtube vloggers, bloggers, and the internet in general. I want to ride, I NEED to get out...and yet when 5:00 rolls around I have paddocks to clean, hikes I want to go on, dinners I want to cook, gardens and a yard I want to tend to, a house I want to paint. I give the horses a quick grooming, clean the waters and fields, then look at my watch and decide it's time to go onwards to the next thing.


I think it's the initial getting back at it gravity suck that's got me down...Sophie will probably need a week or so of reorientation before we can progress and Bridget needs a good bit of conditioning after having a pretty slack spring. Not to mention my riding muscles are out of practice! No time like today...or tomorrow, apparently.

I've not been totally idle, though. This week I've negotiated a long term work from home arrangement with my employer, which will see me traveling down to the office only one day a week (once the office is even open again). That's huge for me and my pony hobby because it makes it feasible to keep self boarding where I am ($$$ saving) and also give up the rental place I had down closer to the city. In this expensive market, that's a huge $$$$$ saving. More lessons, shows and a trailer purchase will be easily in budget now, no more saving required. Or do I put that money towards a mortgage on a piece property once the market stabilizes? So many options!


 I'm still going to go forward with the local job interviews I have, because options are nice, but it looks like we're going to make it work where I am and that's exciting and a huge weight off my shoulders. No need to worry about employment any more, no need to build that barn at home and fight with the permits right away, no need to find someone to help on the days I am away, no more budgeting every purchase quite so carefully (although I still will, because that's how I roll).


There are so many changes taking place right now. I'm lucky to have so many good things in along with the bad. Being the person I am who likes a routine and some sort of order and future plan, I kind of fall apart when things change. I've been a little challenged lately, lol. I hope I'll get back on track soon, once the dust settles and I better figure out how this new normal life works. (Have I mentioned that my husband has now retired early? I love it, but it's pretty weird to go from literally being home together one evening a week and doing my own thing all the time to seeing each other 24/7 and considering his plans for the day with mine!)


Anyway, once I'm in a routine of riding after work every day again I'll be all grumpy and weird about it if I don't, so give me (hopefully just a little!) more time and riding will be all you'll be hearing about, I'm sure!










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Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Continued (Cough) Uneventfulness


At this point, I should probably put the blog on hiatus because really, we're not doing much of anything right now! Riding has been minimal at best.

Look at all the grass growing!

Bridget's cough has returned (for those that haven't been here in a while, she was diagnosed with heaves/COPD/horsey breathing difficulties 3 summers ago). She's breathing fine, but I hear her coughing once or twice in a row the odd time just standing or grazing in the field so it's time for a check up.

Otherwise looking good though

She's been OK the past couple of years, partly I think because I moved her home and she's in a paddock outside all year long rather than in the barn. The more cynical side of me also has to acknowledge that the last time it was obvious I was trying to get her fit for eventing. I've not been trying to get her fit for anything in a while, so there's a good chance it's been mildly lurking the past two summers and I didn't really notice anything beyond that one cough when we warm up (and her appalling tolerance to cardio exercise, but that also is a normal Bridget thing too).

OK, maybe she's a bit too round, lol

The good news is she's super responsive to clenbuterol/ventipulmin. The bad news? I phoned the vet and the soonest he can get here is June 17th. The horses are WAY overdue for shots and teeth at this point too. I called in November, but they were scheduling a month out then, then Christmas holidays, then couldn't get enough people together here in Jan/Feb, then COVID. Now they are backlogged with appointments. So that's where we're at with that! Lesson learned, I will book our fall appointment early this year! Anyway, back on topic, our Vancouver vet prescribed the ventipulmin so this more local vet would like to see her first. Despite all the logistical issues, I'm actually not too worried - I'm not needing or wanting to ride much, she's spending 99% of her time out on pasture and if it escalates I'm sure either vet would send me an emergency prescription to get us by.

Look! Sophie is growing! She has space between her front legs now!

Then she does things like this and I'm not even sure she's anything but legs and troll hair.

.5 sec to dumping dinner bucket.

Sophie's been just hanging out in the field too, and really filling out on all that pasture! She's building some muscle at long last and finally filling out through her chest and hindquarters. Which of course got me wondering about whether she's just a late bloomer or if she's really been getting enough out of her winter timothy hay/vitamins/minerals/alfalfa cubes regimen. I know a lot of people recommend spirulina for muscle building and topline, so I've put in an order for that and we'll see what happens next winter when she's off pasture. I had kind of resigned myself to the fact she is just really slight and dainty, but that seems to maybe not be the case. She's growing into those feet and long legs at last.

OK, she's definitely part pony and eating everything on offer. Perhaps it's the salmonberry bushes adding to her new physique?
Coming up from the field for dinner. They swear they're starving. Bellies indicate otherwise. It's kind of fun when they're in the bottom field - there's a couple of acres of grass and trees way down there, but there's just a little path they have to follow to come up here to the barn - it seems to often encourage galloping  :)
Sophie demonstrating the gallop up the path a couple of months ago. (Have I mentioned the property owner is into building miniature steam trains? There are tracks all over the property now, the trains are taking the place over :)



I am SO glad I just lightly backed her last fall - the difference in her physically between then and now is huge.  Riding and training wise, ring resurfacing has been delayed so we're looking at another two weeks wait before we can get back at it. I'm getting very excited for that and have REALLY been missing my old barn a lot. Fingers crossed, all the pieces of the plan will fall into place and Sophie and I will end up there one day and even have a bit of show seasons at some point.

Didn't realize what a welsh pony head she's got til I saw this picture.
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Wednesday, 13 May 2020

It feels Like Summer, and I'm feeling impatient

The weather here randomly hit summertime temperatures this weekend! So crazy. And unnecessary. (Really, Mother Nature, you shouldn't have!)

Ugh, so hot, can't even.

My paddock rotation plan has been working really well, but this latest dry and hot spell started crisping that fresh green grass. With hay at $40 a bale, I'm suddenly super interested in pasture management and the weather, so it's a bit sad for me that we're apparently rolling right on in to summer this year with a short, dry spring.

Hungry Hippo mowed this whole field from knee length to this in a week. I feel like I also need to mention that Sophie still looks feral despite daily grooming, while Bridget here is glossy and shiny despite her lack of interest in partaking in my pony spa days.

The Covid related restrictions in our area are starting to ease up a little and I've been getting communications from my various horsey clubs about some tentative event scheduling and gradual reopenings. Much as I'm really impatient to get back at it, missing lessons at my coach's barn and group rides and so excited to get back to showing this summer,  I personally feel like it's way too soon for that, especially with the ferries and travel I need to get anywhere from here.

When the weather's this nice I also lack motivation to want to travel anywhere else

They are opening the local club arena again and I am excited for that. I hack in and it's literally only one shared gate that I touch in a huge outdoor arena so I feel comfortable with that - I haven't seen anyone else there in months. But wait! The non equine world is also comfortable resuming things, so the contractors are ready and the arena is now closed for resurfacing. Oh well, what's another two weeks waiting when there is going to be new fluffy footing as a reward for my patience?

An upgrade from the overgrown round pen I currently have :D

When I resume riding Sophie, I'm going to want to use that arena. She is a good girl, but her interesting baby horse life choices and this time off make me think we'd both be safer in a space with a soft level surface for the time being . I've refocused my late summer goals and thought sending in some video'd dressage tests might be a great use of the space too while we're remaining physically distant from 'real' shows. Sadly, cell service and bluetooth connectivity stinks with all those big trees in the area so real time virtual lessons won't be a thing for me there.


I'm feeling a little guilty for not being like so many and using this time to ground drive and work on basics with Sophie. Instead I've either been ponying her along or just taking Bridget out solo. It sounds like such a cop out, but really it's just so much easier to leave her be at present. Where I am at is not set up great for baby horse training. I look at the free space and see all the potential safety hazards for riding and/or ground driving. It's fine in a pinch for Bridget who is sensible and has reliable steering and is pretty maneuverable. Not so great for a Sofa Pony and she's one to hold a bit of grudge so I like to keep us set up for success as much as possible.

She had some real feelings about the bath I forced her to endure on Monday. This is about 1 second after setting her free and after I carefully groomed and dried her off.

I also have a very interested and opinionated audience living on site, if you know what I mean ;) Once things have settled down a little more I think I need to find my inner living-in-the-moment kid again (or find one for Sophie!)


Hope everyone is doing well!

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Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Summer Plans


Amazon Lake Bridget arrived in the mail today. I'm thinking head to head testing with Equine Lake Bridget is in order :)

Looks just like the real thing!



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Monday, 4 May 2020

Besties

I think we all know Sophie can be a total pain in the butt.

I still wouldn't totally bet against a shipping mix up where I was sent the wrong pony who is actually a year or two younger than the one I thought I was getting and is some kind of manic Welsh/Arabian cross or something. Kidding, mostly. There is the mystery of the brand she supposedly has on all her paperwork and vet checks but that I've never seen. Meanwhile, she's still sporting a scar from a tiny cut two years ago, so ?
Hmmm

Anyway, conspiracy theories aside, even for a just turned four year old mare she's REALLY immature mentally. Obviously, there's something wrong with me because I actually think it adds a tiny bit to her charm.

4 years old next week! (and finally filling out a little more)

Bridget, of course, is the exact opposite. She probably was born a mare, cynical, and jaded to the world around her. Things that annoy Bridget: people, horses, drama that is not hers and therefore not meaningful, excessive energy, exercise of any sort, basically everything that Sophie embodies.

Bridget's happy place: far away from everyone, eating.

So, I've been pleasantly surprised that trying to turn them out together again this spring has resulted in two happy ponies. It didn't work out so well last year, so some kind of negotiations must have taken place over the paddock fence this winter. B is a super good influence on Sophie. She is doing a good job of being the benevolent dictator, so Sophie is on very respectful behaviour to us all 24/7.  We're all doing a good job because recently Sophie came cantering up behind us and I turned and put my hand up and she sat on her butt immediately and slid to a stop...about 50 feet away from me, lol. She also seems a lot more settled - she's not a fan of fending for herself in the 'wilds' of her own paddock.

Look! Sharing space, no mare faces!

This is extra shocking but Bridget, who dislikes most and tolerates a few, actually likes (?!) Sophie. I've owned her for 6 years and last week when I took Sophie away for a bit was the first time I've heard her whinny for a friend. Just once, of course, but it happened! There's no mutual grooming or any of that touchy feely friend type stuff (Bridget is so not that girl), but B lets Sophie share her food, which for her is probably saying it all.

Napping together. They're really so cute.

Sophie still spends most of the day galloping laps of the field and practicing airs above the ground, but by some kind of miracle she actually tempts Bridget into a little halfhearted playing now and then. That's huge for the pony whose preferred state of being is standing and eating. They're on grass at least 12 hours a day, sometimes 24 depending on the weather and they must both be moving about a lot, because while Bridget is definitely round, it's within an acceptable pony roundness.

The way these trees are fenced off invites a natural racetrack for her

Of course life is not perfect and Sophie now gets extra panicky if she's the one left 'alone' in the field (I use quotes because she has horse and mini pony neighbours in the paddocks next door always). I'm slightly concerned we might ruin her months of good behavior and revert back to some 2019 style fence smashing if I were to leave her there.

Realized right in this instant that we all 'abandoned' her in the 'wild'

She's happy to head out with us and leave Bridget behind (excited to do so, in fact - she loves her people! Horses are so fickle like that) which is so much more tolerable than horses who just want to worry and focus on other horses no matter what.

Bridget: "Take her away please! (and leave me both dinners)"

For now, I'm putting Sophie in the round pen with a hay net and letting her express her feelings there the odd time I take Bridget off property. I feel bad for the farm owners having to listen to the screeching, but I think that's just going to be the trade off for the group turnout thing that is otherwise working so well for everyone.

Working off some energy in a more structured and farm owner approved manner :)

I'd like to hope someday soon we can get back to a regular riding and training schedule for us all. For now, though, I'm so happy that all the extra pasture time and being paddock mates seems to be doing them both good and grateful that the weather has been kind and there are so many little spots for me to ride and play with the horses at 'home'.

There used to be a lot more horses living here, so there are empty areas all over the place that you can ride in if you're a little creative.
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Wednesday, 29 April 2020

A Walk In The Woods


Not on horseback, this time, but with so many of us being contained to our homes I thought it might be nice to post some sights from a recent hike. We've been getting out walking or hiking in our backcountry a few times a week and in the absence of riding, it's the next best thing.

Most good walks start out on a logging road
Because that's where the trails head out from! This is a super old railway grade and in better times a great trail to ride.

Salmon berries blooming in a clearing.
Elderberries are in flower too
Mossy Douglas Fir
Red currant in a clearing
Getting up a little higher, the salal and smaller douglas firs are giving the upland forest game away :)
Brand new bracken ferns uncurling on a rocky bluff.
Wild strawberries! Bookmarking this spot for summer!
Finally, we made it! The view from the top! Looking south.
Looking north. This is an ocean inlet, and all the little islands to the north are part of a marine park I'd like to visit again one day (I need a boat!)
Looking west. On a clearer day, you'd see Vancouver Island in the distance, but let's be real, this is the west coast and  clouds are semi-permanent. We're just lucky we missed the worst of the rain :)
Stay safe, everyone!
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