Tuesday 28 August 2012

This Time Last Year

I'm thinking it's time to do a comparison of what's changed over the past year. Since last September was the beginning of Ginger's training, this is the appropriate time of year for an annual update.

I moved to the prairies in April 2011. It took me quite some time to find an appropriate barn where I felt safe bringing Lainey and Ginger. I had made arrangements to see Ginger in April, but a storm of conflicting events and vehicle trouble happened and I was unable to even meet Ginger prior to Lainey's prescheduled shipping date in June. The seller had sent me lots of video...the vet had given her the all clear...and the hauler offered to bring her with Lainey for half price. So I took a giant gamble and had the hauler pick her up and bring her out with Lainey. After obsessing over the sale ad and being on contact with the seller for well over a year, to say I was a bit anxious about Ginger's arrival would have been an understatement.

When the horses arrived, they were hungry and thirsty, and most of all tired. They had also declared themselves best friends for life. We put them in a shared paddock and I let them be and gave them a week to settle in. Lainey, of course, settled in immediately. Ginger, however, was quite fearful of everyone - horses and humans. She was difficult to catch and very reactive. So, for the rest of the summer, we took things very slowly. She had to learn to trust me to pick her feet, (not to mention behave for the farrier), how to lead politely, to let me brush/touch her everywhere. She had quite a bit to learn from Lainey's bootcamp as well. Once we got all that under our belts, she still had issues with 'strangers' i.e. anyone but the little kids on the farm, myself, and the barn owner. Blanketing, tacking up, lunging (mostly the lunge whip) were all very time consuming things to have her accept quietly. I know form the sellers videos she had been handled at least minimally, but I suspect she was primarily out in a pasture with the other mares and a round bale, with the odd trip in for the farrier. She's naturally quite reactive and anxious, so I imagine the move to a new barn with a new owner was the primary reason she appeared so wild.

I got to the point where I finally had my first couple of rides on her, then winter and bad driving conditions arrived. Thankfully, a trainer had moved into the barn and had time to put a few rides on Ginger for a month. At the time, Ginger was super well behaved and very quiet. I was wondering how she could be so anxious on the ground, but so quiet under saddle! I continued on, riding her a few times a week, mostly slow and steady and getting her to accept and move off my leg. The snow and winter weather had come, so I was trapped in the indoor and didn't get to ride her outside at all. It was starting to be difficult to find things to keep Ginger occupied.
Then, a couple of weeks before Christmas, Mr G and I hit a deer on the highway on our way home from the barn. Sadly, my almost new truck sustained major damage and was in the repair shop until mid February. Since the barn was a good 40 miles each way, and my insurance only covered a couple of weeks of rentals, I was unable to see the horses as much as I had been used to. I also had a two week vacation to Mexico at the end of February. So Ginger was officially on vacation for about 3 months this past winter, and ready for a job.
Things at that barn ended up not really working out, barn drama we don't need to discuss here. It was time to move on in a more positive direction and get Ginger going again. I moved the horses in March to a place that is ridiculously far away, but came highly recommended. Ginger got put into a regular training schedule and I started her blog!

Day at the Barn

With a whole Sunday to myself, I of course elected to take a trip out to the barn.
Lainey was standing in the field looking absolutely miserable. Happy to see me, but with the other horses her ears are pinned permanently. They are all generally being rude and making nasty faces at each other. The herd dynamic is changing, for whatever reason. Lainey is the boss, but now there is a gelding that persistently tries to push her around and he is also "best friends" with Ginger, who is taking her cues from him and also attempting to boss Lainey around. Lainey is NOT impressed. She was so rotten to deal with yesterday that part of me was happy to see her being put into line a bit by her herdmates. The other part of me feels a bit sorry for her. She's used to being the queen of all things! Let's hope the drama settles down soon, otherwise I may take pity on her and put her in her own paddock. Previously she's always been happier on her own. This summer I thought she might be making friends, but it looks like the party's coming to an end. At least her behaviour yesterday makes a little more sense.

Ginger got out for another ride. I groomed her in the crossties, thinking how weird it is that when you groom her she stands like a statue. Nice in a way, but strange because she has her head up, ears forward, and standing square. Like she is posing. And she absolutely does not interact with you. She is the itchiest horse ever though, so the odd time I'll catch her moving her lips a bit when I get an itchy spot.

Our ride was pretty quiet and relaxed. She still felt tired from Saturday, so we did a lot of spirals, leg yields, and shoulder ins at the walk. Also some walk to halt transitions just off my seat. A little bit of trot practicing the same things and an undemanding canter each way and I called it good. All in all, maybe 30 min in the saddle, tops.

The best part of the day came after I got off. I had to scoop her poop out of the arena. Usually I have a hand on the reins and one on the manure fork, but this was a bigger job than that. I tied off her reins and took a chance she wouldn't go too far while I cleaned. To my surprise, she followed me like I was leading her. Of course, that got me thinking. So we did a few patterns I remember from some showmanship clinics I took years ago. She was perfect. I didn't touch her or grab the reins once. It was all just her reading my intent. There was one awesome moment when I tried to trick her by running as fast as I can and then stopping as quickly as I can. So cute, she stopped about 1/2 stride in front of me and backed herself up to put herself back at my shoulder. I guess I am mostly impressed because there were a whole lot of distractions, and a couple of times where I used too much invisible pressure and made her uncomfortable, but she seemed to be having fun and stayed with me regardless. I am fairly strict with her ground manners, so she knows she needs to stay at my shoulder when I lead her, and turn when I move towards her shoulder - but all the rest today was pretty much her own initiative. After that she is more than forgiven for being creepy statue pony when I groom her ;)

Time off for good behaviour:

Saturday 25 August 2012

Saturday: Part 2- Sweet, Sweet Gingersnaps

Well, not THAT sweet. But after Part 1: Medieval Torture, Ginger's lesson seemed like coming home after a very bad trip. Maybe like if I went on a trip to a third world country and stayed in a prison or something ;)
Anyway, the point is, I had a good ride. I started out by working hard at resting my beat up tortured body and watching Trainer Girl put Ginger through her paces. I love doing this and it's been a few months since the last time. She's an amazing rider and it's so neat to see how far Ginny has come. I just sat there with a big fat grin on my face, in disbelief that a horse that nice is really mine! She's starting to look really fancy at the walk and trot, much more uphill and round through her topline. I was relieved to see that the left lead canter is still pretty green for TG as well...it's not just me!
I hopped on and attempted to wander around aimlessly, lazing about and enjoying my pony. Sadly, I was supposed to be having a lesson and we had to get back to work. We did some transitions, some leg yield, a bit of collecting and extending walk and trot, and finished with a couple of canters. We were both pretty tired by then so the canters amounted to 5 or 6 strides down the long side and we called it a day. All in all, about an hour workout for Ginger. I know she was not just being lazy because a) she's not the lazy type and b) when I turned her out she cantered a few strides towards her buddies, then changed her mind and walked. We both may be a little fat and out of shape.
It sounds as if over the next few weekends I'm invited to take my horses to an excellent coach about 3 hours away. TG already takes lessons with her on Sundays, so we will share the costs. I'm pretty excited because she is a fairly well known dressage rider who also shows grand prix jumpers on occasion. I'm super happy with Trainer Girl, so if she recommends this lady I'm sure she's excellent. It will be good to get Ginny out and about, and it would seem Lainey is looking for a bigger challenge too.


Saturday-Part 1: Medieval Torture

I'm not sure what happened but we went from baking hot last week to absolutely freezing this week (literally only a few degrees above freezing at night). So, combine that with high winds and the horses are playing "untamed wild pony of the prairies".
I got up super early this morning because I've owned Lainey for just about forever and had a feeling I might need some extra time to get ready for my lesson. Sometimes I'm smart like that ;).
I decided to grab both horses at once and save myself making the half hour trek to the far side of the field twice. First indicator something was amiss: This is Lainey's halter, but what's with the old ratty leadrope? Oh wait...it's new on both ends...and broken in the middle. Tied back together, though. I suspect it's mine. Envisioning just what she must have done to tear a new lead rope in half, I'm already a little less than impressed with her. Mentally telling myself to give her the benefit of the doubt, I grab her and Ginger and start the walk back to the gate. Except Lainey is not walking- in fact she is trying to back up and kick a random pasture mate. I give her some not so gentle encouragement and we're on our way safely. We get almost to the gate and the other horses in the pasture attempt to do a last minute round up of their friends by galloping past. Lainey rears and pulls, showing me her lead rope breaking routine, except I am attached rather than a wall. I get after her, but we're forgetting Ginger is attached to leadrope #2. Ginger assumes I am angry with her and tries to run away from me in the opposite direction. Cue medieval torture. Attach human to two horses and have them run in opposite directions. It felt so nice I let go. Horses do a victory lap of the pasture, stopping in the farthest corner. I am angry. My two sense my hostility and hide behind their friends. Too bad I had treats in my pockets for their friends ;) (Shhh...not really, don't tell) Ginger can't resist any sort of treat and was sad to discover the treats were "gone" after I grabbed her lead. Lainey of course can't let Ginger do anything without her, so she got caught as well. Back to the gate we went. This time I was ready and shut the party down before it got started. 1 hour after my departure, I arrived back at the barn with two sore shoulders, one traumatized pony, one angry mare, one broken lead rope, and zero time saved.

Lainey kept acting the spoiled brat her entire lesson. Having young horses off and on, I don't tend get too worried or embarrassed by the odd ridiculous day. I was plenty embarrassed today :)
99% of the time she is my steady eddy go to horse. That other 1%? Really, I shouldn't bother and should just put her away. But, I had a jumping lesson and was super excited about it. Also, I was sharing it with the cutest little girl and her saint of an OTTB, so I felt like I'd should at least ride with her. Trainer girl said she had a great ride on Lainey the day before, so she'd probably settle. Oh, and the lead rope? Well, after she rode, she tied her to wait to be taken back to the pasture by helper girl. Helper girl went out the side door to do something. Lainey thought she was getting left behind, sat back, broke the lead and proceeded to calmly head out the door. Except she is fat, the door was only partly open, and she got stuck for a second or two. So helper girl caught her. And now she gets to live in the crossties again. I'm embarrassed of my 1% evil horse.

I won't get into all the lesson details in order to keep this at less than a novel. Here's a quick recap:

- Little girl jumps her course. Yay, so cute!
- My turn. Before jump 1: No forward button installed. Lainey tries to back up close to cute OTTB. I suspect to kick it. Parents of child looking understandably concerned. I'm very angry and Lainey has no choice but to get away from the scene of the attempted crime. Jump 1: Hey, not so bad. Between 1 & 2: Lainey: "My rider is not letting me go fast enough so I'll canter sideways like a crab! And try to dive my head between my knees! Oh, and scream for Ginger!" I had to circle her and put her back to a trot. As her revenge, she left the ground at jump 2 about 9' early. No kidding- there was a canter pole and a jump. We jumped both at the same time. Antics ensue- after all she has just displayed her jumping awesomeness for all to see, right? Jump 3: Not so bad! But between jump 3 and 4 we could have done without the canter in place part. Jump 4: 2 jumps in one! Let's jump way too early again! But like a deer! So early and deerlike we land ahead of the jump and have to jump it like a bounce! Fun times. I lost heart here and did a few laps of working trot, looking for some semblance of a polite horse. Jumps 5,6,7 were all a bit better and I excused us from the ring.
The best part? These were cross rails:) She could have probably walked over them. And she was babysitting and doing 2'6" hunter courses in a kids camp last week.

Sometimes I wish I had a nice quiet gelding. Particularly today for some crazy reason.

This is super long already so I'll recap Ginger's ride tomorrow. Hint: It was really good :)

Angry Pouty Mare:

Friday 24 August 2012

The Weather and Miscellaneous Horse Crazy Chatter

I haven't even made it to the barn since Monday's lesson. The weather has been nothing but beautiful during working hours, then after work it's been all tornado and severe weather warnings. This working for a living is wearing a bit thin :) Call me crazy but I don't really feel safe tracking down a soggy pony in an 80 acre field with lightning and hail hitting the immediate area. That's not to say I haven't done exactly that a few times this summer- nothing messes with lesson day- but it's obviously not the safest thing to do.

It's frustrating to miss out on rides since the facilities and coaching at the barn are excellent. With a little over a month left here, I'm feeling the pressure to take full advantage of it all and to try to be in a really solid place before we leave for the coast and are mostly left to our own devices for a few months. On the plus side, the barn at home is super close and I'll be able to ride every day. I also seem to accumulate an extra horse or two to ride while I'm there - the barn owner always has some youngsters in need of miles and has previously paid clinic fees if I take them. It all hopefully makes me a better rider! I could just keep the horses at home, but in the muddy coast winters the horses are just in a gravel paddock anyway and I would miss the company I get by being so close to the club facilities.

I've been spending this week checking out riding clinics on YouTube and watching just about every episode of the various Horse and Country TV shows available online. I can be one of those people we all know that stand at the rail and parrot all their favorite trainers but have no practical experience at all. Or not! Mr G cracks me up because he went to a George Morris clinic with me once. Now he finds it amusing to announce out of the blue that I need "steeeaaaady haaaaands". Combine that with a NH guy he saw on TV saying "you can only ask what you are prepared to give" and he's ready for the big time! I'm not a grown up yet, because I still find it super funny when he comes up with these things and pretends to advise me or the horses seriously. Back on whatever topic I'm trying to be on (is there one?), I've also been 'studying' the Welsh shows online and trying to get a grasp of just what is expected. I am tentatively throwing around some small dressage shows next spring, followed by our Western Canadian welsh show, then a local agricultural fair type show, leading to a couple of events later in the season. Ginger is more than capable of doing just fine as it stands now, but only if we could be in a vacuum ;). The lack of miles in the real world are an issue. I'm hoping to get a head start on that this winter and get her into some schooling shows and clinics.

The trailering situation is giving me huge anxiety. I had quite a time finding someone who goes between here and there and is legit, but now that I'm trying to book the trip, my calls aren't being returned. Lets hope she's just busy- its only been a few days - but it still makes me hugely nervous either that she's going to leave me hanging, or do the job but be super hard to get a hold of. The barn at home uses her all the time without issue, so I probably am worried about nothing.. I'm also unsure whether Lainey is travelling or not - there are buyers interested in her but nothing confirmed. At some point I'll have to be the big meanie, because once I pay her shipping, she's coming back with me.
I wish I could just book them last minute WestJet seat sales!

Ginger says "Let me outta here! We've got work to do!" Or, more likely, pasture to mow and YouTube to watch.

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Happy Girl

I'm a happy girl - I feel like I've really got the pieces I need to really ride Ginger effectively and to help her relax. It's hard to describe, because if you had asked me a week ago, I would have been pretty confident that I was doing just fine, and I probably was. Last night, though , we managed to take a big step forward.

Of course it didn't all go perfect. We started with about 10 steps back. I rode in the outdoor where there was a full jump course set up. Apparently that is scary. No one else showed up for the lesson,
also cause for a pony meltdown. There were horses being turned out to pasture being led past the ring. Also cause for major distraction. She was calling, doing the whole giraffe thing, and trying to plant herself and not move. Totally horrible.

It finally all clicked because I had such a good ride on Sunday. I hate to say it, but I was really looking forward to working on the canter and showing how well she has been going. Heck, I had spent part of my day checking out show schedules for next spring :) I was not impressed to be dealing with such ridiculous behaviour. So, instead of being a little nervous about creating an even bigger meltdown, I buckled down and told her how things are. You WILL go forward. You WILL pay attention when I need you to. You WILL go to work. Those jumps? You've seen them before, and hey, guess what we might want to jump them one day. Get over yourself.Nothing dramatically different than the norm, mind you, just even more determined and firm and 'don't mess with me'. The difference was immediate and somewhat amazing. Trainer girl felt Ginger put in her best work yet.

It's nice she has gained so much confidence that putting her to work is now a positive outlet rather thana cause for further anxiety. It's also good to have progressed to where I can pick a fight with her and still get a good ride in at the end of the day. I doubt she will ever be an easy ride, but she's definitely got that something special that makes it all worth while.

Where's Ginny? Also Lainey has a super shiny coat!

Sunday 19 August 2012

I love weekends!

I shouldn't complain, because I am one of the few that loves their job. But, we all know days off are still the best thing ever. This weekend was fairly low key. I had a golf tournament to go to Fri evening (No, I am not a golfer- this was the third time ever. The company was great, and the planning of just how I'd build my cross country course there was pretty fun too). Saturday trainer girl was away at a show so no lessons. Instead, I ran errands and fixed blankets for the fall. Its getting closer and closer to the big move and no doubt the horses will need their waterproof blankets ready for arrival!
Today I went to the barn and rode Ginny. She was amazing as always and looking fabulous. I power trotted her for a bit on the long sides, collecting on the short and it really seemed to do the trick of getting her relaxed and forward. She was so good we did a couple of serpentines with that really nice trot, then immediately started work on the canter. She was really good to the right, but the left feels like it needs a little work. Nothing awful, just green horse stuff combined with a rider who can't help her as much as trainer girl can. At one point, we had a disastrous transition of nice trot to crazy pony trot to canter. Brought me back to being a ten year old riding a welsh pony who was trained for a cart. No way would he canter...so you just trotted faster and faster :) Thankfully Ginger is much smoother and easier to sit and it was only a momentary confusion. But in Gingers case there were a few real extended trot strides thrown in so secretly I thought the bad transition was pretty cool and I wanted to do it again! Sadly, though, I had actually asked for a canter, so we tried again and had a couple of nice canters. Then I had to be all grown up and responsible and give the pony a break and a giant pat and call it a successful ride.
Lainey got the day off since she has been in summer camp and probably appreciates a day off with her boyfriend, strolling through the meadows ;)
Movie star Ginny poses for the camera:


Tuesday 14 August 2012

Such a good pony!

Monday night group lesson - Ginger edition.

This was her 3rd ever group lesson, and by the end she was almost as good as in a private one. I know, it's been a long time coming, but trainer girl rides her early in the morning and there isn't usually anyone around, and I ride in the evenings, or Saturday mornings, same deal - it's hard to find company!
We warmed up with one of the other girls riding and Ginger was looky but settled in OK. She wasn't all that cool with the other horse being out of her sight - if they were behind us she had to try to turn around to see them, and if they passed us it was a BIG deal for her. We gradually worked out of that, but then, just as the lesson started, a third member of of group came in with a different horse than we normally see. Ginger had a mini meltdown over that but settled just as quickly and went to work. We did a few nice shoulder ins at the walk, then a couple of lovely trot ones, before she lost concentration again - the new horse was behind her and she was pretty worried about that, silly thing. She settled again and we worked on getting a nice big trot with no spooking for a couple of  laps. Easier said than done, but we managed.
 Strangely enough, she wants it both ways - don't let them get too close but if they're in the other end of the arena she gets all spooky 'alone' and tries to rush back. Silly thing. We worked a lot on keeping the correct rhythm since she wanted to suck back if a horse was behind her and rush forward if they were ahead. She's come a long way these last few months and I think the pasture turnout here has helped as well. The horses get changed up every so often and there is a busy lesson program with horses coming and going from the pasture. I think thats helped her deal a lot better with strange horses and her buddies leaving her now and again. I'm hoping trail riding this winter will add a little confidence as well. It will be good to get her out with an unfamiliar group and have her take turns leading and following. I don't think there is any specific reason she's so lacking in confidence, its just  bit of who she is- she's not inclined to trust strange humans, horses, or situations very quickly. She's sort of middle of the herd, which makes it a little interesting to me, indicating she must assert herself now and again. I would have expected she'd be the bottom since she is so cautious and timid.
At any rate, to the uninitiated, Ginger probably looked like a perfectly good lesson pony going about her job. I get the impression it felt a bit worse than it looked.  Of course we know she's capable of much better work, but I'll take this as huge progress and feel confident riding with the group will be a complete non issue within a week or two. I'm seriously happy that I could feel her trying very hard to be obedient even with her obviously feeling overwhelmed. Its also nice that she's starting to take some confidence in her job , so when she can't contain herself I am able to put her to work and get her focus back a lot easier than before.

Lainey is busy in summer camp this week, so Ginger will get a few more rides - can't wait!

Monday 13 August 2012

Saturday Lessons - Ginger

Figured I better write this as Monday night's lesson is only 3 hours away!

Ginger was, as usual, quite tense. I may have made a mistake bringing both horses in at once, then leaving her alone in the paddock while I rode Lainey. I thought she'd be fine as she had friends in a neighbouring paddock, but she's not a lover of change and got herself a little amped up. She lunged nicely and settled in, but when I got on she was very tight through her back and very stiff feeling as far as our turn and circles went. She also whinnied for her friends pretty much continously. We spent our time doing bending exercises and trot poles, trying to encourage her to relax and focus. It did work to an extent, but really it wasnt our best effort. In her defense, she didnt get ridden at all last weekend by me, since Mr G was visiting, and only once by trainer girl. The previous week wasn't much better, with me riding twice, and trainer girl recuperating from an incident with another horse. Long story short, Miss Ginger has earned herself a ticket to the group lesson tonight.  It's nice having the two horses, because I always seem to have a least one good ride a week and the not so good ones are a little easier to forget :)

Looks are deceiving: Ginger looks all ready to go, and that little black speck way off in the distance is Lainey looking much less than interested in a ride. As reported in the previous post, Lainey was a superstar, while, as we just discussed, Ginger wasn't feeling the enthusiasm.

Saturday 11 August 2012

Saturday Lessons: Lainey

I hopped on Lainey first this morning for a jumping lesson. I can honestly say I've never seen her so enthusiastic about anything! She just wanted to be let at those jumps. Needless to say, we spent a good portion of the lesson getting her to stop rushing and get round and relaxed over trot poles. She wanted to canter even those, silly girl. We jumped a short 2'6" course a couple of times as a reward and called it a day. It was a lot of fun, but pretty humbling to realize in the course of 4 or 5 rides my horse has far surpassed me as far as confidence goes. Confidence is not an issue for her as it is for me - I feel a little overwhelmed and in typical Lainey fashion she's like "Its OK, I've got this, I know how to do this - just hang on!"
Apparently on Wednesday the girl riding her in lessons took her over a full 2'9" course and she was amazing, fitting right in with the seasoned hunters. Where did this jumping monster come from? It's been in there all along, we've just never been lucky enough to have regular instruction.
The downside of all of this is the girl borrowing her has inquired about buying her, since her current horse is getting older and they'd like to retire her. Why am I getting deja vu? Oh that's right, because this happened about two months ago with another girl. I guess I should be flattered that both times she's been borrowed for a lesson the rider falls in love with her. I'm still unsure about it, but realistically it's the smart thing to do, both for Lainey and my finances. And there is no shortage of horses I can ride if Ginger doesn't keep me busy enough. Rough day at the office, though, it's a tough decision either way and in my heart I'd like to keep them all.

Ginger, of course, is going nowhere besides home with me. Her lesson today will be the subject of my next post.


Wednesday 8 August 2012

Monday Lesson/Weekend Update

Monday's lesson actually came with nice weather! Having been away from the barn for the weekend, I was unsure who I was riding with in my lesson, so I grabbed Lainey just in case. I really wanted to ride Ginger, but I also really didn't want to hold up/worry the girl I was riding with.
So Lainey it was. She's been feeling much better lately, a lot less heavy and 'pushy'. We spent part of the lesson working on extensions, since she's much better about not trying to run through my hand, and the second part of the lesson on getting a nicer canter. Very difficult for her, but it's getting there and much improved as her fitness has improved. You know it's still a bit of a fail when Mr G, says "Wow, you guys look really good, she looks like one of the racehorses at the track!" Thanks...I guess? In related news, I am still working on sitting back and not tipping forward as we go. It's difficult because Lainey more or less invites you to do so by trying to drop her head and take off on the forehand at every opportunity. The pretend nose blowing snort and head dive is her last ditch effort when you've foiled everything else- and after 4 years it still catches me out on occasion. Overall, though we've both improved dramatically this summer and I feel more than ready to tackle some jumping clinics and cross country schools this winter. Some really good news is there is a girl taking jumping lessons on her 2x a week who is quite a fabulous rider, so Lainey is getting some extra rides and experience, and I'm getting a little extra money towards board as well. You can't beat that! I love how excellent trainer girl is at matching horses up with appropriate riders...its a win win for the riders and the horses. Of course it is a little too good to be true as the girl riding her owns a pretty amazing jumper that she'll be going back to once she is sound again. Can I hope that her horse heals 100% but it takes a little while? ;)
Next lessons Saturday...Lainey group jumping lesson, then Ginger private dressage lesson. Looking forward to it!

As for the weekend with Mr G, it was super nice. I can't wait to have a 'normal' life with him again this winter. I've been missing the ocean and our house too. I need to finalize the trailer ride for the horses, but have the boarding sorted. It's not ideal, but is super close to a club facility I have use of. We're incredibly lucky that a very long time ago, someone donated 40 acres of land to the local horse club. Since then, through tons of hard work and fundraising, a whole facility has been built, complete with indoor/outdoor arenas, a round pen, show stabling, a clubhouse, and even a mini cross country course. We all chip in to keep it maintained, so membership costs are ridiculously cheap. Its also right next door to a farmers market and a really good trail system. The horses will live a block or two up the road, where all we really need is a safe paddock/shelter and good feed/water.
The financial logistics of taking 6 months off? Could be improved on if we want to buy a bigger property any day soon. The market has finally crashed which is a double edged sword - we can buy for so much cheaper, but we don't want to sell any of our existing real estate to finance it. And me being the commitment phobe hates the thought of mortgages and being tied to my job to pay for it for however many years it will take for the market to pick up. We've got a few options on the table, but at this point I'm happy to hold steady and wait. 6.5 weeks now until I'm back 'home'.

Friday 3 August 2012

The Weather!

Yes, I know people usually discuss weather when there isn't much else to say.
Guilty. But my lack of anything to say is due to the weather, so I think just this once it's OK.

Monday - lesson scheduled - severe thunderstorm warnings, so I cancelled. And thank goodness I did because I thought the world was ending when that storm finally hit

Tuesday - Tornado warnings. Thankfully didnt materialize, but deterred me from spending 3 hours driving in the middle of nowhere to go for a ride. Nasty storm came through anyways, so I was justified.

Wednesday - wasnt too bad, actually - but I had errands to run and couldnt make it out.

Thursday - Heavy rain all day, but enough was enough and visited the horses. Cleared for an hour or so then ANOTHER ridiculous storm with crazy wind and hail just as I walked out to the field! I couldn't see anything in front of me it was so heavy. Gave the horses a quick treat and bolted for cover. And was soaked through with no spare clothes. Wimped out and went home. Truck got a free power wash though, I swear the worst of the weather followed me home.

Friday - Today I have to pick Mr G up from the airport and we are having a little mini vacation. He is going to come with me on Monday night though so I can still have my lesson then, provided the weather cooperates for once. Weather forecast through the weekend is good, and Monday looks iffy. Of course.

Apparently we are setting some kind of records for thunderstorms and tornados. I believe it, its been super hot and humid almost every day this past month, then the evenings (just in time for me to get to the barn) are full of extreme weather.

Just think though, the next show I'm at where the wind picks up or thunderstorms roll in - we're going to think its nothing - my horses are pretty much weather proofed right now. This summer has been full of wild weather, stuff I wouldn't dream of riding in under normal circumstances.

-Trying to lunge, but can't because the wind is so strong is pulling the line out of my hands and confusing the horses. Not to mention they can't hear me over the wind.

-The barn is located next to a lake. 'When the lightning gets to this side of the lake we'll have to go inside" "OK - that was close -RUN"

-"Oh, that's just a dust devil, don't worry"

-Cantering into a strong headwind makes it easier to collect :)

-Giving Lainey a bath, only to have a huge storm come in after she dried.

-Riding in the indoor and it sounds like you're inside a washing machine on the spin cycle.