Monday 30 July 2012

Monday Lesson Weather Warning (AGAIN)

Check out the weather. Why, of course thats a severe thunderstorm warning! How many Mondays in a row does that make it?

Saturday 28 July 2012

Saturday rides

After getting myself motivated by checking out the Olympic Eventing dressage, I headed out to the barn. Of course I arrived in time to hear on the radio that a severe thunderstorm warning was in effect. Really? Yes, I took a closer look at the sunny skies and could see the storm clouds off in the distance. I'm starting to forget what normal weather is :(
I grabbed Lainey first as there was a little jump course set up outside that I wanted to play with. We had a blast, such fun. She started slow and lazy, but woke up in time for the jumps. Funny, that :) We had fun, and I worked very hard on keeping her straight. I called success when we cantered a little combination with no wobbles before or after. It was far too hot and muggy to have too long of a ride out there, fun or not.
When I took Lainey back out to the pasture the other horses had wandered far away from the gate. I set off on the long walk to the other side of the field as the rain began to spit. Lainey followed me out and there were some interesting herd dynamics going on. I'll have to think a little on it and post some thoughts another time.

Ginger was happy enough to come in. I rode her inside since the weather was picking up and it was a little cooler inside. She lunged really well, but once I got on, she got all tight and I had a giraffe on my hands for the majority of the ride. I followed trainer girls advice and got Ginger moving out and using herself, but I wasn't having as much success relaxing her as I usually do. I'd get a few strides, then she'd spook at something silly and we'd have to start over. So, after about half an hour, when we got a few nice stretchy circles at the trot, I called it good. We were both pretty sweaty and tired, and
it felt to me like that was going to be the best we were going to get today. A little disheartening for me because we're leaving relatively soon and for the most part I'll be left to my own devices this winter. I start thinking I'm not good enough and I'm going to wreck her. I have to remember we all have off days, we're both learning, and one less than perfect ride doesn't mean things aren't well. I'm thinking when I'm really lost I'll be able to refer back to this blog for ideas and hopefully use it as a way to mark progress.
I'm not sure what it is about this I love so much, but I have endless amounts of patience and enthusiasm for Ginger and this whole training process. I can't wait to get out to the barn the next time !
Lainey checks out our mini course:

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Monday Night Lesson -Lainey

Again with the thunder and lightning. Is this normal? Driving to the barn, I felt like I was on one of the Discovery Channel type storm chaser shows. I got to the barn and literally ran out to the field to get Ginger - I could see and hear the storm getting ever closer. As luck would have it,
Lainey was waiting by the gate while Ginger was 160 acres away across the field. So Lainey it was. We ran back to the barn as fast as my short little legs could go. Can I just say here how pleased I am wth both of my horses' ground manners these days - there was a time when running with Lainey over a distance would have resulted in some very silly antics. Ask me how I know :) At any rate, we made it inside the barn just as the insanity started.I couldnt even get the door closed behind me - it was a wall of water! Lainey seemed happy to be inside, as was I. All this resulted in me being the only one to show for our group lesson - don't you know there were severe weather warnings? I must have missed the memo:)

Since the previous lesson had also cancelled, we just got on with it and started early. After a warmup, and a bit of work at the canter, we decided to just have fun. Trainer Girl set up some poles and a x rail.It worked, we had fun, so she set up a little mini course. Lainey was loving it, overjumping everything and super into it. She just locks on to them and gets all excited. So cute, but she was getting a little rude in her enthusiasm, trying to go much too fast and trying to cut corners to get at the next one. She got a bit of a free pass from me, because it is rare to see her that enthusiastic, she's usually cool as a cucumber. She needs to be reminded that she's only just barely started over fences. In typical Lainey fashion, she's pretty sure she knows what to do, and how it could be done better.
I've had only a few real jumping lessons in my life (all with Lainey), so my riding stunk even worse than normal, but it was all just about having fun and getting it done. We'll pick at my position later,
the idea tonight was to just give us both some more confidence. Next thing I knew, the 8 o'clock lesson had shown up and I'd been riding for twice my normal lesson time.
Wish I had video, my little mare was pretty darn proud of herself and I've crowned her Monday night champion of the 1' jumpers :) So, from now on, I'll definitely be doing more jumping lessons with her.

I'd forgotten how much fun she can be. We were all set to go to an event the spring before last, then I got this job offer and my world turned a little upside down. The horses arrived here later that spring and Lainey almost immediately hurt herself and had almost a year off. I moved the horses to the current barn last March and its just starting to feel like Lainey is getting back on track training wise.I am of course hopelessly out of riding shape, huffing and puffing my way around. I look forward to having this winter to spend more time in the saddle and practice all we've learned this summer.
The weather was not letting up, so Ginger got to stay in the  100 acre wood and didn't get ridden. I felt guilty, she was waiting at the gate looking like she was ready to go, but it was getting late and I
was worried about the road conditions on my drive home.

Looking a little chubby and unfit for the international show jumper she believes herself to be:

Monday 23 July 2012

New Hairdo

I finally got a good start on pulling Ginger's mane. I still can't decide whether it looks better long or short. I love showing off her neck, but my lack of talent combined with a double sided pony mane just doesn't get it all that neat and tidy.

Also apologies for lack of posts this past week. I wrote the previous post on Saturday but for whatever reason it didn't go through until Monday!

Really great lessons

Now that my leaving is official, I almost don't want to go-especially with how much progress myself and the horses have made these past few months.
Today, I got up super early for lessons (OK, the getting up early on a Saturday won't be missed;) and rounded up the horses from their pasture. Being from the west coast I still am in awe of the huge pastures my horses get to hang out in here. The one they are in now would easily house my entire dream farm! I also love how excited they get to be turned out- I can see how much they enjoy it! Back home they get turnout- but it's basically from a small dirt pen to a big dirt pen, which might have grass part of the year if I carefully manage it. Its not half as fun for them.

Oh yeah...lessons! I brought them both in at once to save time and rode Ginger first. Ginger had about 4 days off this week. She was VERY energetic. "Scared" of the dressage letters on the fence, the spots the sun was making on the ground, and of course her own poop. What is really nice though is that she has grown up so much. After she was put to work she settled right down and we had a really good ride. Before, she would have probably lost her marbles for the majority of the ride. Now, she works right out of it and gets to work. With her, we worked today on all the usual suspects - straightness, rhythm, and of course loosening up over her topline. Plus a little lengthening at the trot. With me, again the usual suspects, sit back and drive with my seat, and sit up straight. Keep her forward, don't let her fall behind my leg, especially if she wants to be spooky! I had to laugh because we were discussing the last point, and I said "it's really hard because if she's spooky part of me always wants to hunch forward and hang on!" As I demonstrated this (at a very sedate walk) as a joke, poor Gingers head came up and she had a mini freak out thinking something had scared me. So, point driven home. T, please ride your pony confidently at all times. Or at least pretend to.
After Ginger, it was Lainey's turn. Can I be honest and say that although Lainey is a lovely, lovely horse, riding her in a dressage lesson after Ginger feels like a lot of hard work! Poor Lainey is built very level and has that little TB bum. All those things Ginger finds so effortless, Lainey finds hard. And Lainey is lazy too and tries to cheat :) So it's a lot of work for her and her rider to keep her working properly. She loves to please, so I have to mix it up with things she is good at, like jumps or trails, to keep her feeling positive. Don't get me wrong, she goes very nicely and looks pretty respectable, it's just much harder for her. On the other hand, she's such fun on the trail. She can go all day and has a super long and efficient stride. Ginger is much more up and down, we don't get anywhere fast but we sure look pretty getting there! Obviously she is not as naturally talented as a well bred pure dressage horse, but I am thrilled with just how "all purpose" she's turning out to be. More than adequate for my own lack of talents :) It'll be fun to take them both on some outings this winter, with them both having such different strengths and weaknesses.

Part of their turnout:

Tuesday 17 July 2012

It's Offically Official

I leave here Oct 1st to head out to the coast for 6 months. My employer has been amazingly flexible and I will have a job waiting for me here again in April. I'll be on contract from now on, so probably work here anywhere from 6-8 months of the year. I'm feeling awfully lucky, but a bit intimidated with the prospect of trying keeping up with all the tech stuff in the backwoods of home. Not to mention paying my bills! But hey, life is short and I'm hoping to enjoy it as much as possible.

I've potentially got a bit of work waiting for me at home at the barn I was at previously, which will be fun as I've missed the horses there. They are therapeutic riding horses and are pretty incredible. Talk about a change though, going from high tech, high paying career back to waking up early to muck out stalls and exercise horses and vice versa! Pretty sure I can handle it though;)

Ginger will be accompanying me. I look forward to getting back in the saddle daily! Transport costs will be a killer. Because, after much indecision, I've decided a trailer is not something I desperately need at the moment (it would just sit the 6 months on the coast) so it will be put on hold until next spring. Which means Lainey will stay here either on vacation or leased out. She's cool with months of vacations. Her hobby is, after all, eating.  Ginger, I'm sensing, might not like that idea so much so will come out for some mountain trail adventures with friends and of course plenty of lessons.

It will be heaven to be back at home with Mr G, I've missed him a lot and although it's tough to leave my friends and full time job here, I know it's the right decision.

Now, will October hurry up and get here already?!!!! Ginger is getting excited;) :

Saturday 14 July 2012

Day of firsts

I was a bit concerned that both horses would be a little full of it after having the last week or so off work. I was away last week, then was just baking in the heat this week and could barely function. Trainer girl is away as well, off showing her gorgeous horses. So Lainey and Ginger have been hanging out and relaxing in the sun, and in Ginger's case, getting a burnt nose :(

Today was a bit cooler, and with rain forecast for tonight and tomorrow, I figured I'd better get my lazy self out to the barn. Lainey was at her absolute best- I love her in the summer when the heat takes some of her opinions away :) We had a good grooming session and a nice ride in the outdoor. We also met a new friend- one of trainer girls mares had her foal and they were pastured next to the ring. Lainey was in love.

Ginger was up next. She seemed pretty content, so after a quick lunge to ensure that really was the case, I hopped on. It felt so nice to be back riding her again. We did a few circuits at a walk just relaxed on the buckle, but of course when I asked for a trot she got a little tight and anxious. I remembered to just ride forward and she settled and relaxed in a few minutes. So I asked for a canter, and we had a beautiful one- full of energy, but right there waiting for me to ask her to come back as well. So much fun!
Surely that wasn't your first canter on her, you ask? Well...sort of. I've been playing with it but it's been pretty inconsistent and just a few strides here and there. For a while there, she was scaring herself and falling to pieces a few strides in, then taking the rest of the ride to settle again- she was sure every time I touched her I wanted a canter and getting really anxious over it. So, since I am not overly brave, my game was to ask here and there just a few strides and go back to trot before things fell apart.This would be the first time we've had a nice, fun, relaxed canter all the way around the arena (twice, because it was so fun). Of course trainer girl has cantered Ginger plenty in recent weeks so sadly I can't take the credit for what's been a pretty amazing turnaround.
After I stuffed Ginger with peppermints (her favorite!), I thought it might be a good day to show her sweaty self what having a bath is all about. The bath did not go as well as I would have hoped. No drama to speak of, just a big scared pony looking very very sad about the situation. She was actually not too bad until the drain couldn't keep up and water started pooling in front of her. She was sure it was coming to get her! Let's hope next time she is a little braver- I've hosed her legs before as practice, but I'm envisioning some point where I want to hose off a wound or something on her body. And lets face it- baths are part of Domesticated Horse 101. Both of our lives will be a little easier if she can tolerate it without too much stress. I'll try again, but perhaps outside where the water will run off a little better. I took her to eat some grass while she dried off, hoping she'll forgive me for the bath.
Rather than sad, soggy pony, here's a picture of her last summer looking happy:

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Roast Beef

I saw this at the neighbors farm. Smart cow, wonder if she'd mind if I roll in with my inflatable pool chair?


Says let's do something! I say, no sorry, it's about a million degrees outside and I am dying.
Poor mare seemed really bored but with my truck reading 35 degrees Celsius and the weather station saying it's 40 with the humidex I felt somewhat justified in giving her a scratch and a treat and waiting for another day. This feels like Mexico but sadly I still have to work and there are no margaritas on offer.
Please let's do something!:
(Probably hoping it is time for her turn at pasture and cute faces will change the schedule)

Monday 9 July 2012

No lesson

Really, I should know better than to expect a 3 flight/2 bus ride return schedule to actually work out. Good news is, I made it back. Bad news, I'm on zero sleep and have plans to crawl into bed after work. The horses will have to wait.
In more sad news, that property I was eying up of course sold the following day- after about 2 years on the market. What luck we have! There are a couple of other candidates though, so all is not lost. We'll see, at this point it will probably have to wait till fall when I head back out with ponies in tow. I will need some time to get over losing out on the dream place before I can commit ;) Supposedly the real estate market out there is expected to take a big down turn so a few more months won't hurt - hopefully we save more money.

Tuesday 3 July 2012

Missing the Girls

But, with them in mind, we went to look at a small acreage this afternoon. It is a vacant piece of land, 5 acres, with about half heavily forested, a futher acre grown in with bush, and the remainder still pasture. So, quite a bit of work to be done. It's also tiny compared to the huge acreages on the prairies but it is fairly large for the west coast! My current place out here is a bit small and is rented to some good people, and our other place is just on a city lot. So we need to expand to something with room for Ginger and Lainey as there isnt much in the way of boarding out here.
I like that the acreage is at the end of a country road and surrounded on two sides by crown forest. There are several hiking/riding trails near the perimeter which is a huge bonus - I'd be able to hop on and ride for miles without ever coming near civilization. Theres also a great lake for swimming within about a half an hour ride, as well as an access to the ocean where there is a nice sandy beach. Of course Mr  G is excited that we could also hike straight from our property for about 45 minutes and come out at this cool little highway diner type place.
I also like that it is in the 'horsey' part of town and I already know and used to ride with the majority of the neighbours. Its also fairly level, so lots of room for nice paddocks and a ring. Not to mention a barn and house!
I don't like how there is a creepy one room cabin complete with outhouse. Its weird and all hidden in the trees. Not sure its really upping the resale value and the first order of business would be to bulldoze it;)
We're not so sure about the price, it still seems a bit high given the current economy, and of course I have a few things to work out with my current job before we make any big decisions. Work is aware of what I'm wanting to do and our discussions so far seemed quite positive. I'm hopeful things will work out and myself and the horses will have the best of both worlds - summers on the prairies and winters on the west coast. Wish me luck!
The trailer search is on hold while I visit home for a few more days. Still hoping to find something on my way back out next week.