Friday 29 March 2013

Lainey Update

Lainey is off to her new home at the end of the month. Luckily for now she's staying at the barn in Alberta I board at, so I'll still get to see her and say goodbye in person. I knew I would be relieved to find her great home and have a little extra cash in the bank, but I feel quite sad as well. She's been my partner for a number of years now (I've owned her since she was 2) and we've done a lot and come a long way together. Even though we don't necessarily 'click', she's a good girl and really became a part of our little family. I was half hoping the new owner would opt out of purchasing her so I could hit an event or two this summer with my little cross country machine. Sadly, I can't justify the expense of a horse we keep around mostly for the entertainment value of her super alpha mare attitude. G, being the ultimate guy, thinks she's forever the coolest horse on earth because she once chased a black bear off our property. He thinks we should keep her just in case we need something to guard our farm in the future :) I think she'll be much happier channeling her skills for good rather than evil - she's proving to be a great little hunter/ jumper for her new owner and by all accounts they make a wonderful match. She's found herself the best possible home, and who am I to interfere with that? So, good luck Lainey, we'll miss you!

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Vet Visit

"Did you pay the last vet to do her teeth?" "Was he actually a vet?" "Are you sure it's only been a year?"

I take it Favorite Vet wasn't impressed with Alberta Vet's dental work. Luckily I had iphone pictures to prove he actually did visit or Favorite Vet might have thought I was telling stories! Ginny had some very sharp edges and sores at the very back of her mouth, so I'm very happy that we had him out to get those fixed. Favorite Vet thinks Ginny's bit of weight loss and anxiety is due in part to those teeth. In part? Yes, he thinks there's likely something else going on. She's quite sensitive around her flanks and girth area, and a tiny bit through her hindquarters. Combine that with her general anxiety and he's wondering about a few different culprits. For now, he took a blood sample to test to make sure we're OK there. Selenium, in particular is lacking in this part of the world and a deficiency can cause general sensitivity and anxiety. It's something he says he sees fairly commonly and he highly suspects it's our issue as well. We should know those results in a week or so. He's not ruling out ulcers, either, but since they are so expensive to scope/treat, he's going to wait on the blood work first and go from there. He also mentioned that she may just not be happy at this particular farm, for any number of reasons. Touchy subject with the barn owner in attendence! Since she was fine earlier in the year, that's sort of our last option, but certainly still something to keep in mind - there are always compromises to be made when you're boarding and a more sensitive horse like her may not be as tolerant of them as others. He's optimistic that fixing the teeth alone should make a big difference in her health and attitude so that was good news :) He'll be back in the area in 2-3 weeks so I expect we'll be seeing him again soon.

I'll use this pic as her 'before' pic. It's from a couple of weeks ago, but is at the right angle to show what's going on. As you can probably see, she's not looking awful or anything, but she's quite tucked up in her flanks and has lost a lot of that big bum she had earlier in the year.

I took advantage of having a tranquilized pony and got out the super scary measuring stick. Under normal circumstances she tries to duck away from it when it touches her, making it nearly impossible to measure her accurately. I finally was able to get a proper measurement. 15.3 hands! My pony is on the large side :)


Friday 22 March 2013

On Hold

Ginny still seems very on edge and just sort of 'not quite right' these days so we've got my favorite vet booked on Tuesday to make sure there's nothing physically wrong. I know I attributed it to spring fever/pony drama in my last post, -and I do still think thats part of it-but the more I think on things and observe her, the more something doesn't quite sit right with me. So she's officially on vacation until she gets a checkup :)

Monday 18 March 2013

Spring Fever

Ginny is burning up with Spring Fever. (Yes, it's worthy of capitals and everything - it's a serious disease!) Either that or she has a stash of crack somewhere in her stall. As my riding buddy noted, Ginny was a 'buttface' today. I really can't deny it, she really was.  I must have lunged her for a good half hour before I felt like she was really listening and worn out enough to be safe, but of course as soon as I hopped on and adjusted my stirrup, a mini meltdown ensued. How dare I touch her, I guess. Riding buddy mentioned I might want to sack her out one of these days. Long time readers of this blog will know why I didn't bother answering - we've been through this over and over only to have her show up to work the following day and be a little angel that needs kicking on. Today though, she was upset about me even shifting in the saddle. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt, since just maybe she's scared of me falling off again. But leaping around and panicking when I move/touch her really isn't the smartest way to ensure it doesn't happen again ;) I got on and off a few million times until we were cool again.

Before you think this is a pain related thing - I'll be honest, I've considered it and even had the vet out, and may get him out again. Bottom line though seems to be we just run into days like this now and then, where I offend her and she isn't in a forgiving mood. Today, it all started when we had a friendly reminder about being forward on the lunge. She wanted to linger near the gate to visit another horse and was in a testing sort of mood. I swear I just waved the end of the lunge line at her, stepped towards her and clucked. Cue wild pony rodeo and pony brain's absolute certainty that if I approach her I will beat her with that lunge line. Drama. We've got it. She'd make a great poster child for abused horses....except she's never been abused.

Another rider showed on a very fresh horse. I'm familiar with the combo and lets just say they're super sweet but a bit unpredictable. I decided to cut my losses and head out for a trail ride. Thank goodness I did because I heard when I got home that they had a bit of a wreck and there were loose horses running around. Everyone is fine, so I'm allowed to be incredibly thankful I read the situation correctly and got out of there before Ginny and I got involved in that.

Our ride home was uneventful - since she was so full of it I pointed her at the biggest hill I could find and just let her get on with it and told her what an amazing, wonderful girl she is. This was not a day to pick any more fights - we both just really needed to end on a good note, I think.

Cooling out sweaty pony in the sunshine
Ginger's neighbouring paddock buddy was super excited to see me when we got back, so I got manipulated by his cute face and gave him a good grooming. He loved it! He's one the barn owner took in, so he doesn't really seem to have a person of his own yet. I've ridden him a few times and he's a really good boy. He's a cool dude, you can haul him out once every few months and go for a ride without issues. I keep hoping he'll rub off on Ginny a bit, and have a good chat with her about looking after your rider, but his love for her so far seems unrequited and she refuses to associate with him. I'm not sure if he has an official name, but I call him Curly. Because he's got curly hair. So original, I know. Anyway, it looked kind of like he exploded once I was done:

This must mean spring is well and truly here.


Sunday 17 March 2013

Clinic/Ginny/Work Party

It was a beautiful weekend. The sun was out and the temps crept up to "long sleeve t-shirt" by mid morning. I'm still having serious horsey withdrawals so I checked in on the clinic some friends were riding in on Saturday. The instructor specializes in dressage and eventing and was actually short listed for our Canadian Olympic eventing team in the not too distant past. She's got some serious credentials! As you can guess, the clinic was heavy on jumping - mostly getting the horses working from behind and getting that nice canter you need to tackle the jumps with ease. She had a few pole and x rail gymnastics set up and a few smaller (up to about 3') jumps. She stated a few times that correct flat work is the hardest part and what we need to focus on, after you've got that the jumps are really just another canter stride. She seemed quite insightful and easily pinpointed and addressed issues with a no nonsense, yet kind approach. Sadly, I didn't pick up a whole lot of tips between videoing a friend and the fact that the instructor turned her mike off every time she had the riders come in for some constructive criticism. I do like that she does that though, as a rider I don't necessarily want my conversation with the clinician broadcast to everyone within speaker range. She's going to start coming once a month and I hope to get in to the April clinic before I leave.

Ginny just got some lunging sessions at our barn this weekend. I'm not super sore anymore, so it's time to get back in the saddle. However, the arena was incredibly busy and I wasn't feeling it was the best environment to get myself and my spooky hyperactive pony back on track. The parking spot at our trail head was packed with trucks and quad trailers as well, so I wasn't sure how safe I'd be out on my own. I know she's handled it in the past, but with our recent history I'd like to keep it simple for a little bit, if only for my own confidence. We'll go first thing tomorrow morning and hopefully get in at a bit quieter time and get a few good rides in before we tackle the crowds again next weekend. I hate the head space I'm in at the moment, and have been beating myself up a bit for not being tougher/braver/a better rider. I do know from experience a few good rides will bring me back to a happy place. I've signed up to put some more miles on the quietest greenie that ever lived, the aptly named "Chilly" and of course I expect Ginny and I will soon be back on track too :)

I stopped by the arena on my way home from the barn this afternoon to help out a bit with some grounds clean up. I'm glad I did, because there was only one other person there working away. I would have felt bad if she was there by herself! We built a fair sized fire and got rid of quite a bit of the old lumber from the stalls and arena fencing we replaced in the fall. We were all proud of ourselves, then we saw a friend coming up the road pushing a wheelbarrow. I was trying to figure out what she was doing, turns out she was bringing a big propane tank with a blow torch attached! So our fire ended up supersized and we burnt the entire (huge!) pile of old rotten lumber and had beer and hot dogs ;) They're pretty amazing ladies. There's nothing like a nice productive afternoon with friends to keep things positive and your perspective clear.

Trust me, it's a giant fire. Hard to get perspective when we had to stay 20' back so we didn't burn our eyebrows lol


Friday 15 March 2013

May 1st

Is the official date I start back at work in Alberta/Saskatchewan! I'm going to stay all the way through the rest of 2013, then head back to beautiful BC permanently. I'm one of the lucky few who can honestly say they like their job and their coworkers so I'm quite happy to return for a few more months, although of course I'll be missing G like crazy. I'm also really excited to get back into a regular lesson program with Ginger, plus have the opportunity to attend so many more shows and clinics. Alberta is pretty much a horse lover's heaven in the summer and this year I intend to take full advantage. I've even tentatively planned a girl's weekend to the Spruce Meadows Masters in September with my friends from BC.

Sunshine, green grass, and rolling hills. I can't wait. This was Ginny's pasture last summer. The entire property is 640 acres, which seems enormous when 10 acres is 'huge' here on the coast.

Today was a wet and miserable day but I sucked it up and got Ginger out and about. We just went down to the club grounds. Knowing there was no hope for my Stubben, (which although new-ish is not exactly known for it's padding) I tacked up with my cushy western saddle and went "wenglish".  Sadly, it only took a few minutes in the saddle before my tailbone was screaming and I had to get back off and hobble around again. Frustrating. I'll have to try a sheepskin or gel pad for a bit, I guess. I put an old couch cushion in the truck so I can drive around comfortably. Our town is a retirement destination so my vehicle cushion is actually quite fashionable - everyone else has one too! Sadly I don't think I can attach it safely to Ginger :) You're all probably getting sick of me whining about how sore/beat up I am - it's kind of starting to sound like the hospital waiting room around here lol. Remind me again never to get old! Or to at least stop falling off.

Wenglish. Complete with sparkly dressage browband. We're such trendsetters ;)
Ginger ended up just having a good lunging session and a visit with a couple of friends. I also went back to square one and spent some time hanging off of her and generally being a nuisance, in hopes that the next time (which there hopefully there won't be!) I slide around up there she's a little more tolerant. We spent a lot of hours sacking her out before my first ride, but a recap never hurts and gives me a little bit more peace of mind.

She's a pretty amazing little horse. Even with just some light riding and regular lunging the last couple of weeks, her topline and general muscle tone are already noticeably improving.

Wednesday 13 March 2013

Feeling a bit low

The past few days have been a bit rough for me. That last silly fall this past Friday re strained all the muscles in my neck that got whip lashed the first time and also did something to my tailbone - it still hurts to sit :( It's proving difficult to get comfortable enough to sleep. It's a real confidence buster to realize such a minor fall can cause so much inconvenience. G is worried and is starting to hint I should re-think my horse hobby. It's hard not to be upset by that, but I know he means well.

I'm still as determined as ever, though, and in between feeling sorry for myself/angry at myself I've been lunging Ginger each day and even got out for a good hike with her yesterday before the storms rolled back in. Thanks to my recent horsey bad luck, I haven't been up for proper workouts, but I do find hiking the more moderate routes is doable and helps to get my back loosened up. I need to go back on a diet, though - hiking just doesn't keep me in check and the scale readout this morning was a shocker!

I paid my clinic fees yesterday, so that's all officially a go ahead and I'm getting really excited! I've noticed a trend around here - you know when a clinician is coming because everyone is out practicing the few days before hand. I guess this time I'll have to be one of the last minute crammers too. We've got two weeks to get back on track, which I would really like to do since it's always frustrating to pay your money to have a lesson basically recapping things because you or your horse aren't prepared enough to move forward.

Ginger continues to do well. She's put that bit of weight back on already and her summer coat (with dapples!) is starting to show through. Since we've been spending more time than normal lunging, she's also impressing the neighbours with her command of the english language. I talk to her pretty regularly and the past couple of weeks it's starting to become apparent she knows quite a few words, or at least recognizes the tone/intent of them. Walk, trot, canter, whoa - obviously. But also "steady", "careful", "pay attention/listen", "reverse", "over", "quit that" "good girl", and "ok, we're done" (her favorite). I lunged her yesterday in the old ring at the barn, without a lunge line. She was perfect, even with a lot of stuff going on. I love the days when we're so tuned into each other anything seems possible - even out of the saddle it's a pretty intoxicating feeling!

We have yet another nasty storm rolling through at the moment, so barn time today will just be a matter of mucking out Ginny's shelter and making sure she's got some extra hay in her shelter to keep her occupied. I still look forward to it :)


Sunday 10 March 2013

Spring Ahead

The sun came out late this afternoon and it's only just thinking about setting. It's 7:45 and it's still light enough to ride! It's now officially my favorite time of the year.


Saturday 9 March 2013

Tack Sale & Clinic

What a fun day! We had a tack and bake sale at our club grounds today. I actually made more than I spent and got rid of a few things that have been cluttering up the basement for far too long. Today wasn't a total win though, because I did end up eating too much baking instead of bringing a healthy lunch :)

Today's clinic was a western horsmanship one with a lady that competes at 'world' level with the APHA. I've taken the odd lesson with her in the past because she's got a 'get it done' sort of attitude that gives me that push I need to get through a tough spot. She's also a lot of fun and generally positive to ride with - she exposes your weaknesses but at the end of the day she is able to make it all a positive experience for horse and rider. She sets up amazing trail courses and patterns which I find a lot of fun. I just watched for a bit this time because she's here to do a western pleasure and showmanship clinic and I don't think Ginny or I are western pleasure material ;). I honestly also don't think Ginny would be a good match for this particular instructor. Still, it's great to be able to go watch and I did pick up a couple of tips I'd like to try with Lainey if she's around this summer.

I've signed up for a clinic on the last weekend of March with an eventing coach and I'm pretty excited about it. I'm hoping we can really get to work on that canter and just generally get an honest evaluation of where we're at from a fresh set of eyes.

I still haven't heard back from work, but I'm assuming we'll be back in regular lessons with Trainer Girl around mid-April. That's also a very exciting thing for me. I've been having kind of a mixed bag of rides in the arena of late, and even another stupid fall (from a spook from a walk no less - how pathetic can I get :)  I suspect the bad behaviour is partly due to the horses all having spring fever and partly due to me still getting back into the swing of things, as well as generally feeling uninspired and needing some help again. I'm sure Ginger is getting bored of the same old exercises again and again and tired of her rider feeling a bit wobbly and unfit! At any rate, I'm really looking forard to having regular help again. I think I'm over my trail riding slacker phase and ready to get back to learning!

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Alberta Bound

I'm still waiting for the paperwork, but I think it's safe to say I'm headed back to Alberta/Saskatchewan in a month or so for a 6 month contract. I went back and forth with my decision for quite some time and finally decided I want to go back and made the call to my employer yesterday. We have a long term plan out here on the coast, but it's looking like the real estate market is going to keep things on hold for us for a few months. So, since progress here is on hold, it only makes sense for me to keep my foot in the door at my 'real' job.

Which means I'll be very sad and missing G, and anxiety ridden over moving the precious Ginger over the Rockies AGAIN. It's OK, I need to lose weight anyways ;)

BUT it also means Ginger and I will be heading back to the barn and trainer that we love. We will also have tons of showing and training opportunities. So you'll get some (hopefully) interesting clinic and lesson recaps rather than more boring trail riding pics :)

Last year's Alberta pictures - I love how there is so much sunshine!

This pic drives me nuts - it's about a half a stride from looking awesome rather than awkward!
Supermodel pose
160 acres of pony heaven!

Monday 4 March 2013

Great Day

Here's a pic from yesterday. Can I just mention again how happy I am to be back in the saddle? We went for about a 2 hour walk/trot around the trails - Ginger was feeling pretty fresh and enjoying herself in the sun so we just kept going till darkness threatened. Today, however, I am staying out of the saddle. I woke up this morning pretty stiff and sore! Thats what nearly a month out of the saddle does, I guess.  Doing what felt like hours of leg yield and shoulder in yesterday to focus an excitable pony likely didn't help me either - although I had a wonderfully supple horse by the end of the ride! Ms Gingersnap met me at the gate again this morning all excited to go somewhere again, so I suspect she's feeling just fine and ready for more! Maybe tomorrow :)

This is more like it!



Saturday 2 March 2013

First ride back!

After a quick lunge in the round pen, it was decided Thursday that we're both finally ready and able to resume our regularly scheduled programming. We just went for a quick outing through the forest and up the mountain - the loop I usually take after a workout in the ring. It was a nice day and a nice outing -Ginger was remarkably well behaved for not having a whole lot of excitement in her life this month. On the downside, the weather was truly horrible yesterday with rain warnings (150mm expected!) so I just did a quick lunge in the round pen beofre we ran back inside to get dry. Tomorrow is supposed to be beautiful though!  I'm also crossing my fingers I get onto the list of regulars for clinics - it would be super nice to feel like I'm following a more structured plan again.

On another note, I'm worrying myself silly over work. The offer in Alberta is still there, but I'm really thinking things through. I love it there, but it's incredibly difficult to leave G behind for months at a time. And very expensive to move, especially with horses! I've found myself searching for jobs closer to home and becoming less interested in moving across the country.  All is not lost, however. That job interview I had a couple of weeks ago that was closer to home? No, I didn't get it. But they liked me and forwarded me a couple of possibilities in the same area with some contacts of theirs. Failing that? Well, I don't NEED to work. But I'd hate that for any extended amount of time and feel kind of bored and useless. G has an excellent job here in a very specialized field - so he's not overly portable. I have a career that seems like it is in demand everywhere BUT here lol. It's all a big muddle, especially when the guy is THE guy (8 years already!) I feel sure the right answer will present itself soon enough. But, for now, you can look forward to more postings from the southwestern BC coast. I promise you, summer is beautiful here and there are decent horse shows just a ferry ride away :)