Tuesday, 17 September 2019

September 10 Questions Blog Hop

I'm here at work and the rain is still coming down. At this point we have had well over a month's worth in the last 4 days. In very exciting news, the weather is supposed to be a little more moderate next week and I HAVE NEXT WEEK OFF! I'm hoping to get a lot of baby pony training goals checked off next week and attend a weekend clinic too. I'm beyond excited.

Thanks once again to LWilliams for providing interesting blog hop topics!

1. Favorite quirk your horse (or a horse you’ve spent time with) has?

Bridget is so funny to me because she's like a grumpy old man in a young mare's body. NOTHING is fun, everything sucks...until you convince her to do the thing and suddenly she's having fun and surprisingly agile :)
Sophie is a typical quirky mare-y mare and very dramatic. My favorite thing about her is how overwhelmingly friendly she is...it's kind of flattering how excited she is to see me and go on adventures with me.

Telling me off the other morning for disturbing her nap with the camera noise. A serious offense in Bridget world.

2. Three words that perfectly describe your horse?

Bridget: Tired (of everyone's BS), Hungry, Loyal

Sophie: Happy, Friendly, Interested

I'm not sure I have any pictures with her ears anything but forward.

3. Plan your next ride. What will you do/work on?

Bridget: Forward off the leg (always), and being adjustable in the gaits without sucking back or leaning (always). 

Sophie: Simply sitting on her and walking around. On the ground, long lining and getting her confident moving out without someone leading.

Look at how happy and hardworkingsleeping she is. Add that to the quirks actually, 50% I have this, 50% of the time she thinks she's the most athletic pony and the ruler of the world and super busy, quick,  pushy, and bossy :)
Showing us her 'piaffe' on a day where she thought she was all that

4. Have you ever trained an OTTB? If yes, what was the biggest challenge?

Many years ago. She was just lovely and very easy and hard working, but I was pretty inexperienced and needed to become a lot more sensitive to what my body was doing. I got the ride because she was just little and I was a small, brave, teen. I always regret not being able to buy her myself when the time came for her to go to a new home. We won't count lessons on assorted OTTBs over the years, because fresh off the track or no, being in a lesson the trainer/coach is really the one with the training plan!

5. Have you ever groomed or worked for a professional rider?

I groomed and worked for my coach for the years I was there - I think everyone did! An easy way to trade for lessons and keep board prices manageable. She's an upper level dressage rider these days which is nice - the few times I groomed at events it was a lot more work!

Remember when I wanted to be an eventer and Bridget and I used to go to eventing camp?

Aww, her little clip job then was so cute. /diversion...back to the blog hop:)

6. Favorite horse and rider combination?

Beyond the usual riding idols (Ingrid Klimke of course!), honestly I get the most joy and inspiration watching local people I know ride and train. It's much more relatable as far as my goals go and of course it's really fun to cheer on your friends!

7. Have you ever ridden a horse at the beach?

On vacation basically every time we go, provided the horses are well cared for. I ride often at our local lakes, but they don't have sand to run along. I've gone to our local beaches a couple of times but this is rocky coastline and there is maybe only a km of rideable footing at low tide at the bigger one....you have to plan well in advance!

Typical coastline here
I'll never get tired of this picture of Sophie at the lake :)

8. If you could experience the equestrian community (i.e. ride and compete) in another country, what country would you choose and why?

Some of my friends and old barn mates have had exciting adventures, and if I could cheat I'd choose all of them! (We were talking South Africa and the Netherlands the other day and wow both sound amazing) I think for simplicity's sake I'd choose England because the dressage and eventing culture is really strong and I speak the language. Plus I have friends already living and riding there.

Also I think they might be open to Welsh Cobs doing dressage? I have visions of a whole stable full of Bridgets, how fantastic would that be? (Not sure the universe could handle that amount of ponytude in one place tho)

9. In your opinion, what is an item of tack that is given unnecessary hype?

So much of it! I feel like there is always some trendy bridle/bit/saddle/pad/blanket/boot/stirrup that is a million dollars and miracle working. Then 6 months later there's a cheap knock off everyone else buys, then 6 months after that no one talks about it anymore.
This saddle pad is magical, yet marked down to $20 right now. Surely magic can't be purchased for that cheap? ;) Review here if you're interested.

10. What was the first horse you rode called? Are they still alive?

I got a job at a trail riding stable as a kid and was in pony heaven with so many to ride and learn on! I'm pretty sure the last of those ponies passed away a few years ago now. I just visited that farm this past weekend and everything looks so run down and neglected...it made me feel really sad (and old!)

Sunday, 15 September 2019

A Perfect Storm

My husband came to the barn with me the other night, so it seemed like an opportunity to get some things acomplished wirh a spotter. I planned to head down to the arena and maybe sit on Sophie for the first time if everything went well.

Wouldn't you know it, I got Sophie tacked up and the grey, drizzly day instantly turned into a monsoon. No biggie, we are West Coasters, we love rain, right?

Except then the flashes of lighting started. A quick decision was made to retreat into the barn that's directly adjacent to the hitching rail we use for grooming and tacking up.

Where I normally tack up, barn is behind where I'm standing. Her paddock is quite a ways down the hill.
Different angle, the Unstable in the background.

The barn hasn't been used for horses in a while and is mostly storage at this point. I wasn't crazy about leaving Sophie tacked up and tied out in the storm (or untacking and getting her back to her paddock), so Sophie came with us and we all kind of crammed into the aisleway.

And we waited, and waited.

Winter has come. The street lights on our road didn't turn off all day, it was so dark and gloomy.

One of the stalls down the far end of the barn just had a couple of wheelbarrows and some fencing supplies inside, so we moved those out and Sophie in, and I hung up a hay bag for her. She was a bit sad to be alone, but it was still monsooning and thundering and lightning out and I didn't want to walk her down to her field. Bridget's shelter and  paddock is conveniently right off the back of the old barn so it made sense to open the door and bring her in to share dinner with S.

She styled her hair special for the ocassion, I see. No idea where she keeps finding burrs, but they're always attached to her face so I assume she likes them?

So that's how I ended up with a tacked up Sophie in an old stall, and a Bridget tied in the aisleway, sharing the same hay bag.

What to do to kill time while we wait for the storm to pass?

You know where this is going!

Yep, played with the saddle, leaning on her, then finally just comitted and hopped off and on my pony a few times. Eventually I just stayed and sat on her and scratched her for a bit. Got off, repeated it all again.  She thought I was a bit nuts, but I've been jumping all over and around her for a while now so she didn't seem too surprised by this turn of events.

Husband G was a little surprised by how informal and unofficial the whole thing was  ("you're seriously going to use her feed bucket to stand on?"*turns around, turns back* "how did you get on?!") But honestly, this is life, we need to roll with it. I've been waiting for a few weeks now for the stars to align and to have everything perfect, but it's not happening, so let's just make the best of things and move forward.

I know quite a few of the European and racehorse trainers back their horses in the stall, but I always thought that seemed a little claustrophobic. The old barn here has a really high roof, but it's still just a 12x12 stall at the end of the day!

But you know what, I think this was one of the situations where things just turned out the way they were supposed to be. I can't imagine a less exciting or anticlimactic way to sit on S for the first time...just hanging out with her bestie, eating dinner. Ho hum, so boring. Just the way we wanted it to be :)

So ends the tale of my first "ride"...and yes, I have NO pictures, because sometimes you just have to live in the moment. Next time though, I promise.

Sophie in her winter paddock this morning. Not fancy, but I'm hoping we can make it work this winter and the weather allows for more field turnout here than last. This place is SO close to the main equestrian grounds and indoor arena that I can hopefully keep her lightly going all winter. My other option is the beautiful farm 20 minutes away that I boarded her at last winter, but it is $$$$ full board and there is no arena or place to ride except trails accessed by quite a few km of busy road. Not as ideal for baby horse training.


Thursday, 12 September 2019

September Resources

I don't know about you, but despite years of being out of school, September still feels to me like the start of the new year. It's an opportunity to slow down from the summer, reflect on the good and the bad and get started on new goals for next spring.

Hello, Ambitious Project :)

The fall rains have returned this week, and the sun is rising ever later, making me inclined to cozy up with a coffee first thing in the mornings to research and plan for the future. Maybe surprisingly to some, I LOVE being outdoors in the rain, so generally my whole life feels refreshed and better and this time of year is when I am really inclined to tackle ambitious projects, both at home and at the barn.

With all that in mind, it's time to bring back the monthly resources posts! For anyone new here, they are normally just a group of links to reading (or viewing) I found interesting and/or relevant.

- Carl Hester: How to make a Valegro. I'm going to get right on this one.

- I've been delving back into Warwick Schiller's videos, as a lot of the topics are relevant to where Sophie is at and the concepts are common sense simple - I feel like you are safe to take or leave whatever you like. There's no step by step 'program' you're pressured to follow or 'magic' going on you can't possibly understand without paying him your life savings ;)

- Amanda Ross Eventing Fit. There are only a few videos so far, but I'm loving this new channel from Australian Eventer Amanda Ross. The energy and positivity she brings is amazing.

- 93% of British Columbians Want To Scrap Changing Clocks For Daylight Time. Could there be an end to changing the clocks back every fall? I sure hope so! An extra hour of daylight on winter evenings would make a world of difference for getting those riding goals and barn chores done after work. Plus, the clock in my truck would be correct year round!

- Rutledge Farm Sessions Clinic Series.  You need a USEF membership for this one, but it's free and easy to sign up for a fan membership to watch videos. So far this year there is a Boyd Martin clinic, plus a Peter Wylde one.

- Sophie Callahan Blog. I am not a fashionista, but her Burghley blog had me wanting to break out the credit card and revamp my wardrobe. That aside, I've been following her blog for years because she's a very talented photographer, and horses + country lifestyle are kind of my thing.

- International Helmet Awareness Day is this weekend! I'd link to the Riders 4 Helmets site but it said I won a cruise (how kind, all I wanted was 15% off a helmet!) so maybe google at your own discretion. If you need a helmet, now is the time. I'm eyeing up the Charles Owen My PS, 20% off this weekend at most of the retailers I've seen.

That's it for now. Enjoy your weekends, hopefully I will see you again on Monday with a riding and pony training weekend recap!

Bonus baby deer. I am amused at how he eats. He's been visiting our yard often.


Monday, 9 September 2019

Fall Fair

Our little club put on a concentrated effort to really show up to the local Fall Fair this year, as past attendance has been a little lackluster and it's been a bit of a wasted opportunity to be seen in the community given the equestrian club grounds are on the same site as the fair grounds. This year turned out fantastic, I feel like we probably had record numbers of riders and fair attendance.

Of course I didn't take any pics of the actual event...it was seriously hectic trying to get there on time and bring all the things to keep Bridget and I happy for an afternoon away from home. You'd never know it given this pre ride shot of B :) Never fear, there are supposedly photos coming!

In the theme of me feeling overwhelmed by my schedule yet still wanting to do all the things, I just signed up for the second day of the fair, which happened to be the gymkhana portion.

I broke out the tiara for B. The little kids especially loved that she was wearing 'diamonds'.

And another new Amazon sale $20 saddle pad. We went for the black and silver sparkly vampire look ;)

I hate this, but I was that person - the one that hadn't ridden for two weeks then pulled my horse out of the field. I had a weekend in Vancouver, then a death plague some extra work, all while keeping a definite focus on meeting some training goals with Sophie. The next thing you know riding had been off the schedule for quite a number of days! Luckily for me Bridget was pretty generous about it, but I need to do better if I want to continue signing her up for things. It's unfair for us both to be heading out to things with marginal fitness.

It's OK Bridget, I brought us both water and granola bars. We can do this.

With that in mind, I thought we'd just make an appearance, support the club, and sign out whenever Bridget said she was done.

Thankfully, it looks like pasture fitness is a thing, and while not exactly brimming with energy, Bridget was game to keep playing most of the afternoon. I made sure she got plenty of hand grazing breaks and skipped out for an hour mid afternoon.

Because she's starving, obviously.

How did we do, you ask? Bridget won some things! She was first in the keyhole, second in poles and the scurry, we won the ride a buck event, and I'm not sure about the rest. At the end of the day we were called as tied for high point! Very surprising for my not so fast pony. I think she edges in to placing because she's small and very maneuverable but has a huge stride, because trust me she's not very fast!

We won some brushes and a set of shipping boots, which was really great...the items I was gifted were all things I either needed or need to replace. Thank you sponsors, and thank you Bridget!

In other good news, I may have found someone to come hang out with me and ride Bridget while I work with Sophie. In a perfect world I'd have time for exercising both and G would have time to come hang out so I'm not backing a baby alone at the arena, but that's not been the case this summer despite everyone's best efforts. So, this feels like a win-win, given she doesn't have a horse,  Bridget could use some exercise, and I could use a spotter!

I'm slightly regretful I didn't get Sophie down to the fair this year - it would have been really great exposure! That said, I think I would have needed to have been able to keep a closer eye on her or have someone watch her - the way it's set up is open corral type stalls and everyone and their dogs and kids can access them and that made me a little nervous given I would expect her to be a bit 'up' and looking around and maybe not being overly respectful of space. I saw a few parents letting their kids climb on and through the fence rails, which honestly is why I only brought Bridget for a half a day. She is super with kids and random weird things, but I don't think the whole nearly a petting zoo thing is really her cup of tea, either.

Another random sunset picture for you. The ferry to get me home from work leaves later now so I've been getting take out and eating dinner at any park or beach I haven't visited before while  I wait to go home. 

Onward we go. This year has been really tough so I am extra grateful for Midge being so easy and game for whatever I throw at her. She used to be fairly difficult and resentful of working, so I'd like to think she's so easy now because she's happy and having fun being a backyard pony of all trades.


Thursday, 5 September 2019

Barn Design Ideas

My barn building plans are already on a temporary hold, because a property came up for sale recently that might work for living, commuting, and horses. (and because maybe I need to examine the fact that I am still actively perusing real estate listings after I supposedly decided for once and for all I was building on our existing little property)

The good news is that I am not as flaky as I might seem, given I have at least got the appropriate approvals from the bank for whatever (modest) horse keeping future I choose. Add that to my monthly list of small wins?

Anyway, despite not having a hard idea of the whens and wheres, I do have a pretty solid idea of what I want to build.

The footprint will likely be between 24x24 and 36x36. Our smaller property is fairly limited due to land size and bylaws and would be closer to the 24x24 footprint. For the smaller one, I'm finding quite a bit of inspiration from carriage house designs, especially given that a future conversion to garage with suite above wouldn't be out of the question and would be smart planning for future renting or resale. Plus, there is already an old outbuilding on site for storage so we don't need to worry about haylofts or anything like that...just a place for some tack and two horses (or maybe a car and two horses)!

Apologies in advance for not linking the source to the pictures that are not mine. They've been living in an ideas folder on my computer for years. After some googling in an attempt to rectify my rudeness in not crediting them,  I'm pretty sure every one of them is all over the internet and finding the original source isn't something I can do.

A style similar to this would be nice if we pretend the back of it is just a plain wall with doors for 2 in/out horse stalls!
Because this is the circa 1912 house already there (world's worst pic, literally stolen from street view) I don't want to make the very nice tenant we have nervous by walking around taking pictures just for my blog lol

Proposed site layout.

So cute, but I suspect it might be over the height restrictions for outbuildings in the city. Saving it for an idea on on bigger property.
This little drawing has potential.

So, with all that, here's what I came up with. It's just my attempt using SketchUp and has yet to be properly drafted or approved for a permit, but it should meet the city's requirements for style, size, and height:

Stairs to loft where the person is standing. As a garage, secure parking for 1 vehicle in bay behind the door, open covered parking in second bay by removing the gate in the middle. To the right, an 8x16 workshop for tools, lawn equipment, etc. As a barn: 12x24 run in on the left, single 12x12 stall in middle back with 12x12 grooming and cross tie area in front, and a tack room to the side. Paddocks off stalls are behind the building. I wanted to keep part of it open as a barn because the climate here is such that I can get away with it and extra light and fresh air is always a nice thing. My artistic skills are limited so you have to imagine fit and finish is such that it would match the existing house, just with a bit more modern twist.

Back view. You have to use your imagination that the white boxes with x's are doors and gates and that there will be gutters and siding and all the normal things you'd expect on a building :)

On a bigger place I might be tempted to build something more traditional and extend a roofline for additional shelter on one side of the building, and maybe incorporate a laundry/washroom. Obviously a bigger property would have a barn that is strictly a barn :)  Elements of the following appeal to me:

Love the windows and the size, less crazy about how visually tall the front looks.

This is way over the top, but I like how the height of it scales better - the dormers and main entry gable break it all up a bit. 

More like it. My dream barn would look a lot like this.

Other inspiration:

Again, over the top for my budget, but the idea of the wood paneling where it's needed and then drywall above is a good one, I think. I like how it brightens it up and would allow for some future changing color choices. I feel like this would be a fairly inexpensive DIY with a fancy looking result. Built in cabinetry...also a want, but a cabinet maker is not in my budget or talent, so more likely I'll be reusing and adapting things myself.

   Something like this door would be a nice compromise between potential barn aisle and garage door use. 

Wood ceilings...I like. I'd just have half doors, though...I'd never have more than 2 or 3 horses and I'd like them to be able to sniff noses and hang out.

Screen cap from...somewhere? I really like the window above the door and coincidentally have a few like it since I saved the original windows from the house when we upgraded them.

Or you could have a window IN the door? Honestly for exterior though I am leaning towards a solid sliding door...maybe it's just me (or Bridget's big itchy butt) but the hinges on swinging doors never seem to last and are always that tiny bit out of adjustment.

So, there you go...now I just wait and see what the future and a lot of hard work brings me and my meager budget :)


Monday, 2 September 2019

Growing Up

I finally had a weekend with time for myself! This summer has been a bit of a disaster by pretty much any definition, but I'm cautiously optimistic that things are back on an upswing and we will return to a nice, boring, normal :) I really like having a predictable schedule and feel all out of sorts when things don't allow for that.

Anyway, what did I do with my first normal week since June, you ask? Here's a hint: I'm updating this blog so there were horses involved!

I got Sophie out a few times and she was an absolute star. Honestly, as far as I was concerned she would have had a free pass to be a complete nightmare, given I don't think we left the property at all during the rest of the month of August. But no, she seemed as excited to get out and back to work as I was and there were zero dramatics beyond her standard level of playfulness.

I'm still waiting on the saddle that fits her to come back from repairs so there was no actual sitting on her. However, I rehashed all the prep work you'd expect and she was pretty chill with it all. She's super at lining herself up with the fence or mounting block now too, which is pretty fun. She's a smart little cookie, given we last visited that concept well over a month ago, and just the once.

She's starting to get a lot softer as far as giving to the bit as well. I'm not sure she's a fan of the snaffle that I'm currently using, so that's another piece of tack that's going to get traded out before I ride or more immediately, proceed with further long lining. For now we just do big sweeping turns and the standard flexions baby horses need to understand before you hop on.

I'm still open to sending her to a trainer, but we haven't hit a spot yet where I don't feel confident and comfortable with our progress. So, we continue on. She's definitely a little spooky and silly and quick thinking, but she's also very kind and tries hard so I've yet to feel like any of it is beyond me. I really got lucky with her!

As for Bridget, she got a spa day and a quick ride. Despite wanting things to be normal and to catch up on all the things, I caught some sort of death plague in the city last weekend and so there was a limit to my energy and ambition this week. Luckily, Bridget is good at matching my energy level and wasn't overly fussed about getting the shorter end of the stick attention wise. She's out in a little field and is perfectly content picking away at the bits of vegetation when she's not sleeping, just living her best life.

Onwards we go...I'm feeling really excited about the future!


Thursday, 29 August 2019

AE Blog Hop: 12 Tough Questions

I just kind of casually slid that whole planning-to-move-the-horses-home thing into my last post. In retrospect, it might have seemed like it's a new plan, but as with so many things horsey, I've been obsessing considering the concept for a long time and believe it or not, prior to this blog my horses did live at home on that same property with me. I'll post the reasoning for revisiting that plan soon along with my new barn design inspirations. Actual plans to follow in a future post...I have a few small details I want to iron out, plus we don't even have the building permits yet so it feels almost like tempting fate! A tiny part of me is still hopeful I'll win the lottery or we'll find a last minute deal on something bigger too :) 

Just in time to beat my planned extra long weekend of horsey activities (I am SO ready for this!),  here's a fun blog hop. Thank you to Alberta Equest!

Q1. What hobbies do you have outside of riding?
Way, way too many. Basically anything creative and hands on appeals to me. I thrive on being busy, interested, and learning new things. Lately, I'm loving figuring out my new camera. Sometimes I work on my old vehicles. I really enjoy gardening and carpentry as well. We also do quite a bit of hiking. Lately, my work has been full of fun projects designing some new web apps and mapping themes. My career is nothing I thought I'd ever do as a kid, but I have to admit a lot of aspects of it are a really good fit for me and there's a crossover of projects that appeal to me outside of work as well.

Fun with cameras

Q2: What is your boarding situation?  Are you happy with it?
I'm pretty much self boarding on someone's property. I grew up with the barn owners' kid so I've known them forever. I love them, but honestly it's a bit of the worst of both worlds in that I have all the responsibility of self care, plus the expense of board, travel to the barn, and compromises in how things are set up and run - it's very rustic compared to most barns and sometimes I am basically renting a tiny field. The horses seem really, really happy there though, so it's worth the extra expense and work. There is not really any such thing as a full service barn here, and there is a real lack of land, so I'm very lucky to have the place I do!

Lots of little individual fields, the horses love it!

Q3:  What's on your horsey-related wish list?
Sophie needs a dressage saddle. Bridget needs hers fitted again. I need a trailer. Other than that, I think I have what I need...I can't afford to look at 'wants' (I'd love a new show coat) - I need to save for that new saddle and trailer!

Q4: What is your most expensive horsey-related item?
The horses? I didn't spend big money on either, but I'm thrifty when it comes to the rest of my gear and buy the majority of my tack second hand, and everything else gets bookmarked until it's on a good sale.

Q5: What was the hardest horsey-related decision you've had to make lately?
I've been lucky to not have anything too difficult to deal with! A minor thing (although it makes good financial sense) is that it's been kind of hard to take a year out of lessons and showing while Sophie grows up. 

Q6:  What's something you feel you can't live without in your routine?
An extra I don't necessarily need but always buy is detangler. Both girls have really thick manes and tails and fluffy pony coats, plus they live out year round. As I'm sure you've figured out, I'm cheap, so I just buy whatever's on sale, sometimes from the drug store rather than a horse specific product.

Q7: What's on your horsey-related calendar for the rest of the summer?
It's been a super quiet year and that's not going to change. I'm going to a going away party soon at my old barn for one of the working students who's off to the Netherlands to train. I'm planning to take Bridget to our local fall fair mid month, and there is a clinic I'd like to take Sophie to at the end of the month. 

Q8:  What is one thing you would willingly change about your horse?
Bridget would be more interested in being a sporty pony, Sophie would be less mare-y and silly. I'm lucky, because both of those are things that can improve!

Champion at sleeping, tho

Q9:  What is something you most want to improve on with you and your horse?
Bridget owes me nothing, so we're just having fun. With Sophie, I'd like to skip ahead to the part where we are under saddle and effectively communicating there :)

Q10:  What has been your [current] horses most severe injury?
Bridget has an ongoing minor lameness we haven't really pinpointed. It's super mild, and she's way more on than off. Last year when I moved Sophie to the other barn for the winter one of the horses went after her and she has a nasty scar right down her side from shoulder to hip, maybe from teeth?Fricken grays and palominos scar from everything! Overall so far I've been really lucky with them both.

You can kind of see it, even from this far away

Q11:  What do you feel your biggest downfall is as a rider?
Confidence. Weight. I'm pretty inclined to get in my head and think I'm doing it wrong. My weight is always a struggle...I ride better when I am thinner and know it, so I can be pretty hard on myself about that because I don't seem to consistently keep the pieces together to keep my weight down.

Q12:  What feeds your motivation?
That feeling with horses when everything is 'right'! The barn mates and coaching at the competition barn as well, as I mentioned above, some of them are off training in Europe and setting their sights on Olympic teams and things, which you can't help but find pretty inspirational!

One more sunset, just because