Thursday 30 October 2014

Pardon the Interruption, More Fave References

The doctor has informed me I have pneumonia. And it's contagious. Ewwww. Apparently the recommended treatment includes lots of sleep and heavy duty antibiotics, and no big adventures with horses (or even outside the house). Since I promised to behave so I can stay at home rather than in the hospital, the ponies are going to have a little time out for a few days. I'm feeling super frustrated about the situation. This is going to be a huge exercise in patience for me!

I am going to use this chance to catch up on all the training books and videos I keep meaning to look at. And I'll read the horsey blogs all day, of course. If anyone wants to suggest a great video, book, blog, anything, please do so in the comments. I'd love to check them out and I'll put them all into a post in a few days for future reference!

To get us started off, besides all the great blogs listed on the right of this page, here's a few more of my favorite references :

-Horse Hero
UK based video site with hundreds of different training videos. There's a minimal subscription fee and maybe 10 or so new videos a month, so I tend to subscribe for a month or two every three of four months and binge watch them all. Lots of big names and 15-30min videos, so a really great resource. Also, it's British, so even if they were talking about mundane subjects, they'd sound super educated and sophisticated and you'd feel smarter for listening ;)

The forums quite frankly scare me, but I can still get lost reading for hours. The articles are usually good and well written.

-USEF Network
I find this one to be a little finicky with our internet connection, but when I do get things to play, it's amazing! Tons of live feeds, and lots of videos on demand as well. I watched a lot of the Devon horse show, and keep going back to re watch my favorite Rolex rides. I love the George Morris clinics when they're available. And it's free!

Happy riding, everyone!

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Fave Resources: Books

I managed to catch a nasty chest cold at some point in my travels, and we also have the remnants of a hurricane from Hawaii bringing us heavy wind and rain today. Our basement flooded last week in a crazy storm, so I'm a little over the west coast weather at the moment! I shouldn't complain too much because we got off relatively lucky with only a few inches of water and our basement is not a finished one. Some of our neighbours got flooded with 8 feet of water or more :( I'm crossing my fingers they stay warm and dry today. Days like today are also when I'm super grateful the horses are well cared for at the barn so we can all just stay safe and cozy in our respective homes! Long story short, this is an excellent day to review my clinic notes and re-read a few of my favorite training books!

Here are a few of my favorite written resources (in no particular order):

1. Basic Training of the Young Horse. Reiner Klimke.

I've probably read this one a few dozen times and I always learn something new. It covers everything from halter training through lunging and the training scale. It also has a lot of useful information on cavelletti and introducing jumps through to advice for your first competition. My favorite book for young horses. There's an updated version of this one cowritten with Ingrid Klimke that I haven't read, but is probably just as excellent.

2. 101 Exercises From Top Riders. Jaki Bell.

I can't recommend this one enough. It features chapters that read like mini lessons, complete with diagrams. Laura Bechtolsheimer gives advice on everthing from exercises to practice transitions and quicken the hind leg, to extensions and collection, to schooling a correct shoulder in and halt. Lucinda and Clayton Fredericks give exercises to help you see a stride, and David O'Connor gives a few variations of his circle of death. There are lots more notable names, and, as the title suggests, 101 different exercises ranging from dealing with rushing over fences to teaching a canter pirouette. I have a lot of pages bookmarked in this one!

3. Training the Young Horse. Pippa Funnell

What I really love about this one is the photos, and it's straighforward, common sense approach. Again, everything from halter breaking to riding a drop fence into water. There are tons of interesting personal insights, and even conformation photos of some of her top horses, where she discusses their strengths and weaknesses. This is a good one as well because it has whole pages dealing with common problems (straightness, bucking, napping, canter leads, etc). While not super in depth, this one always leaves me feeling like riding doesn't need to be super complicated and anything is possible with a little hard work!

I have a bookcase full of books with topics from natural horsemanship to veterinary issues to barn construction. There are of course several more excellent ones that I go back to, but these are the three that seem to live on my nightstand.

Monday 27 October 2014

So Much To Learn

 My friends and I had an excellent horsey weekend away.

 I'm not really much of a shopper, so I dread the crowded shopping area and usually make a beeline for the clinicans. I have been needing some new breeches for a while now though, so went to the store nearest the entrance and immediately found 2 pairs. I was hoping for navy blue to go with the brown tall boots I'm getting for Christmas, but the closest they had was black. For the price I had to be cool with that. My bill came to $110 with taxes, saving $175 off retail. Nice. Black is the new navy, I guess ;)

The rest of the weekend was spent watching every session with George Morris. As you all know, there can be almost an overwhelming amount to be learned by watching him ride and teach. Whoever lined up the riders for one of the sessions made some 'interesting' choices, so George had his hands full. While I'm sure it was disappointing for some to see horses and riders who maybe weren't quite technically ready to be jumping, it was actually really good for me to see him really go back and patiently teach basics and get green horses jumping. Look out, Miss Bridget! The other session had some excellent riders, but again, the focus was on correct basics for the riders and lots of suppling exercises for the horses on the flat. Fantastic. George was apparently sitting in on the dressage clinic with Jan Ebling and nicely dovetailed a lot of what Jan was teaching into his own sessions. I found that very helpful! I find the man himself incredibly intimidating, so when he addressed a couple of (kind) comments to me I wanted to run and hide! He had, after all, just gone on a huge rant about 'fat people' and I'm not exactly tiny....thank goodness for the Jan Ebling clinic next door....

I watched as much of Jan Ebling as I could. I really enjoyed his teaching and training style - he's very upbeat and positive. He mentioned a few times to the riders to never get disappointed or upset when your horse makes a mistake because it's just an opportunity to train them. If we never made mistakes we'd never learn anything. Basic concept, but I think sums up pretty much what he was all about - very kind and fair and not in a rush for anything, There were a couple of riders and horses who seemed a little nervous about being in the clinic, and others who were worried about attempting certain things. He had everyone relaxed and happy fairly quickly and even had one girl ride a pretty nice line of two tempis when she was worried about trying 4's. I'll definitely be making an effort to see him again,

I literally spent 12 hours on Saturday watching demos and clinics, so I even watched some barrel racing ladies, a reining clinic, and a NH guy. I think I got my $ worth :)

The funniest part of the weekend? The whole time I was watching clinics, my friends were shopping. When they were telling me all about what they bought later that night it was like 'boots, spurs, some chaps, a halter, a hat, a hoodie, this mineral block, a pony, a blanket, horse treats..." I was like "Whoa, back up... BOUGHT A PONY!?!". Yep, they adopted the middle mini from here:
G, remember I didn't come home with a pony:)
(OK guys I just realized when I linked to Jan Ebling's page that he was the really nice guy with the german accent I had sat next to at another demo later in the day. Didn't recognize him without his hat on. Cool :)

Hope everyone else had a fun weekend!


Thursday 23 October 2014

Weekend Happenings

I'm heading out with friends this weekend to a horsey expo in the big city. Looking forward to seeing Mr George H Morris one more time so I can get all kick started on the road to perfection (ha ha). Since it's a girls only weekend, I have the extra benefit of G (who finds GM hilarious) not being there to pick up new tips from the master himself. G has a great memory and 5 years later still randomly does his GM impersonation without any warning, shouting insults and 'advice' while I ride. If only we could train him to give me all that saved up advice in the appropriate context!

Anyways, here are some happy pictures from last night to tide you over until Monday:

How Ginny and Bridget are planning to spend their weekend
Midge conquered this yesterday, trotting over it like no big deal. Her first one so I had to be all proud parent and take a picture. She's a total pro at this blogging thing and stands and poses for pics so you can see her awesomeness first hand. It's kind of freaky how proud of herself she looks, actually.
Ginny also loves posing for pics. I didn't want to leave her without any exercise for 4 whole days, but when I returned for her she was happily napping in the sun, and also proudly modelling the local dirt and vegetation.  I'm a big softie so of course I let her stay home and enjoy the brief bit of sunshine instead of pony boot camp. 

Happy herd of bays.

Hope you all get out for some quality time with your horses this weekend!


From The Horse's Mouth Blog Hop : Thankful

First off, I'm thankful to Emily at From The Horse's Mouth for the great blog idea! She's saving everyone here from boring recaps and obsessing over the minutia of the daily rides on the ponies :) 

She asks:
What are a few horse-related things that you are super grateful for?

1. So grateful to G for being beyond supportive of this crazy hobby!

2. Grateful for my two horses. They complement each other so well, and are both fantastic in their own rights. Ginger keeps me inspired with all the possibilities, Bridget keeps me confident and wanting to try more. 

3. The blogging community. Particularly the readers/commenters on this one. I live in a small, isolated community so it's easy to feel like I'm alone in some of my horsey struggles (and triumphs). So thankful to have all the knowledge and support here!

4. Love where I board. Great owners. Acres of green grass. Lots of nice turnout, even when the rest of the region is totally flooded.

5. The nice lady up the road who lets me use her ring. I'd be lost without a place to practice, and this one is close by and never busy.


Wednesday 22 October 2014

(Nearly) WW: Projects

Jumps are complete - four sets of identical standards built, and  twelve poles in assorted purple stripe patterns. I still have all my fingers too ;)
Project Gingersnap! Love her, she's the best.

Can't wait until that mane grows out well enough to do something with, and yes, that's a crazy cowlick on her neck that doesn't help my mane taming efforts.

Bridget - attending canter/fitness boot camp yesterday. Owner bootcamp also because I think I ran more.


Tuesday 21 October 2014

Is This Really My Horse?

The other morning, when I arrived at the barn there was a man with a chainsaw cutting up some of the trees that fell down in the storm we had. He also had a large dog that was running around in and out of the bushes and the horses' line of sight, and the horse I could see was having a mini meltdown.

Beautiful boarder horse was losing her little mind:
Chainsaw massacre! Save me!

Run away!

I walked around the corner, imagining what sort of show Ginger would be putting on...

The last thing I was expecting was for her to be half asleep without a care in the world!

Seriously, pony. Not even a tiny bit of sweat or crazy eyes? 
I've mentioned before she's a lot more settled at this barn. She's quite content here and really been no trouble at all for anyone - the owners just love her. So, the rumor is offically true, I no longer own the 'drama queen' of the barn. We will gladly pass on the crown. Who would have ever thought that day would come?
Midge of course just wondered whether anyone brought food.


Monday 20 October 2014

It's Not Me, It's You

That's what I think Bridget would say sometimes if only I'd listen :)

Lesson day dawned windy and rainy, as seems to be the norm around here. Since I'm putting forward an effort to be tougher than the weather, I didn't give in to my desire to cancel or postpone so I could stay warm and dry and/or sleep in.

No sunshine today. Also the reason the majority of my photos from today turned out too dark to use.

As with every ride, I have no regrets about getting in the saddle and we had a lot of fun.

We started off with some basic stuff at the walk. Pony can do a haunches in now, yay! Opposite to some, she really wants to offer up her shoulders and has a tougher time with the hindquarters, so I was pretty happy with her today.
Rock star

Trot work went fine, just worked on getting her stretching over her back and then did some baby leg yields. She was great and is getting so much better about regulating her pace on her own. Fingers crossed, my nagging days are coming to an end.

All in all, she's a very well rounded girl for only having 6 weeks under saddle. But we do have our issues - the canter today was a big mess, as in I could only get a few strides here and there and we also managed to forget about steering and sideswipe the fence in a big way :( I was so disappointed in myself because she spooked at that and scooted forward into a nice forward canter, but I got left behind and jammed on her mouth for a couple of strides - the exact opposite of what I needed to do! I felt like I was just off today as far as any timing and riding kinda crappy, making things harder for her than I needed to.
Pic from a couple of weeks ago but I feel like there was a lot of this today!

 Instructor S then got on and rode and had to work for it, but got a forward canter both directions for a lap or two. I wish I was that solid of a rider that I could sit all that uncoordinated mess quietly and make it look so easy! Bridget was of course all over the place as far as leads and where her legs were, there was a bit of 'trantering' and some cross firing until she got herself sorted - we wouldn't be getting very high marks for canter at a sport pony evaluation! Still, it was pretty cool to see from the ground and I remain optimistic that there is the potential for a cute canter hiding in there. It may not ever be her best gait, but it's there at least :) However, I think we've confirmed that at least some of the canter issues are definitely coming from me - she went way better for S than me. I'm trying to just objectively look at what I can do to improve and not get too down on myself.  At least now I know she can do more than I'm settling for, so I have some further motivation.

We spent the rest of the lesson with about every pattern of trot poles you can imagine and she was completely been-there-done-that about all of it, even when we had up to 6 of them spaced to extend or compress her trot. Hard to believe it was only her second time with any of it, she got the idea very quickly and was locked on and taking me through with very little guidance needed on my part. She was careful and accurate too, so I have hopes that one day I'll have a cute little jumper pony.  First though, we must canter!

Random pic from our ride the other day. Our trails are mostly like this and I think maybe with all the roots and bits of unevenness she's inadvertently learnt to be a trot pole master!
I'm so pleased with this instructor - I'm thinking more and more about bringing Ginger along in the future because she seems to have the teaching style we both need..I'm honestly getting a little bored with the safe little routine I have when riding the big mare. I think I am ready for some challenges! Who would have thought that would ever happen again?

Sunday 19 October 2014

It's Not The Bit

I got out for a quick ride between rain showers yesterday with the lovely Miss Bridget.

Since she just had her teeth floated and needed a moderate amount of work done, I opted to give her mouth a break for one more day and just go for a short hack out in a halter and lead rope. If you remember all the way back to when I tried her out I rode in a rope halter so I knew she'd be just fine. Also, if I'm honest, I hack out with zero contact  99.9% of the time anyways. Can I just mention one more time how cool it is to have a horse I can just hop on after nearly a week off. No prep necessary, and no bridle either apparently :)
My 'reins' were just slightly bulky.

As always, it was so nice to spend some time in the saddle. She's a trail riding superstar and navigated some small wooden bridges today with zero hesitation. So that whole refusing to step up on the bridge the second day at last months clinic? Yep, I think we can just admit she was just done and totally over the whole 'extreme trail' thing.
Photo to prove it happened (actually I'm even more amazed that it appears the sun came out for a second)!

We stopped off at the ring on the way home to make sure everything was in order footing wise for my upcoming lesson and had a quick trot and canter Since I was riding in a halter we can eliminate the bit/contact as the source of any issues - she goes the same in a halter or a bridle. Truly, though I shouldn't have expected any different, she's the same on the lunge so it's likely still just an issue with the whole 'forward means go' idea. Still, she's very much improved over a month ago!
Cute pony

This morning, we're going to buckle down and have a lesson - it can't be fun and games all the time. Actually who am I kidding, it's fun and games every time we head out for a ride - we just pretend to be serious now and then!

Saturday 18 October 2014

HGBH - Fit To Ride (and a small weather related rant)

Due to weather/vet day/life, we've had a rather slow week around here riding wise. As in I haven't ridden since Sunday's lesson, and not for lack of trying. Today we are under yet another weather alert and are officially getting hurricane force wind gusts and a heap of rain. So both the horses and I continue to go stir crazy. While the horses dream of pasture turnout on all that green grass coming in,  I dream about indoor riding arenas (or at least a trailer to get to one!). I don't mind some wind and rain to ride in, but the past few non-busy elsewhere mornings have been way excessive. Stupid West Coast weather. /rant

I need to toughen up and just get out there!

Maybe tomorrow? Don't be fooled - apparently tomorrow is always going to be 'the day'. Also I am unsure as to how Tuesday supposedly is 'light rain' yet has up to 40mm predicted. Maybe that 1 hour of sunshine will make it seem less?

Thank goodness Stephanie at Hand Gallop has another great blog hop for us (and a timely one considering the weather and that my last post was all about my favorite comfort food)!

She asks:
What do you do to try to stay fit to ride?

I feel like a bit of a fraud posting to this one, because I recently took about a month long vacation from any real diet or exercise program. I've just getting back into the swing of things the past couple of weeks, so I'm just going to list where I'm at currently rather than where I was/want to get back to.

Why This Is An Important Topic To Me:

It's not fair to my horses for me to not be riding fit! Particularly with young, green ones. I make enough mistakes without adding issues related to weakness or one sidedness. I also don't think it's fair for my horses to pack around any more weight than they have to. Having a smaller horse now means my weight and fitness for riding are more important to me they've ever been At 5'1" tall, I'm hardly big by conventional standards, but to say I'm 'sturdy' for my height would be generous. A pony Bridget's size was not was I was searching for, but since she's otherwise excellent I will use it as further motivation. Embarrassed to admit I've lost a substantial amount of weight in the past couple of years, and would like to trim down a couple more sizes yet. To give you an idea, I wear a size 10 or 12 currently, depending where I shop and would love to be back to a 6/ 8, although my emphasis remains on fit and healthy rather than the number.

I've been religious about going to the gym for about 3 years now, but haven't renewed my gym membership here yet because honestly I got really bored with it. Maybe once winter sets in?
So currently:
-30 minutes min every night on the treadmill. Currently just a slow jog, working my way back up to more, 
-Walk anywhere feasibly possible. Average about 4km a day.
-Stay physically active. Hard to put an actual # on that, but policy to myself is that I 'work' a minimum 8 hour day while I have this time off. That can include barn time, but also house renos, yard work, volunteer hours, etc. Anything where I'm actively moving.With me bring gone for so long, there are no shortage of projects waiting, and I would feel guilty if G was at work while I sat around or went to the barn all day.
-On G's days off we usually manage at least one hike/bike/other outdoor adventure. Again, pretty easy pace wise and 2 hour max outing.

-I'm vegetarian and have time, so feel like the majority of meals I cook are really well thought out and healthy. It's the snacking and eating out with friends I need to watch! I do keep a count in my head of the general amount of calories I'm consuming - if I don't, I find my idea of portion size and my consumption of not so great choices gradually increases.

Mental Game:

Seriously the most important piece of the puzzle for me. If I can keep the mental game in a good place, the rest just falls into place - I want to be out doing stuff, I want to look after myself, I want to be strong, look good, etc. I try not to get down on myself or beat myself up too hard for my mistakes. I keep the negative people out. Also, it's a bit lame to admit, but I keep a picture of myself from when I was in amazing shape as a motivator - proof that I was there once and have no excuses not to be there again. Also, recently a friend of mine posted a pic of us from the same time frame on facebook. Some of my newer friends didn't recognize me and were like "who is that hot chick (ie me) in your photo?". Ouch. Awkward. Motivation levels increased!


Friday 17 October 2014

Happy Things Hop - Favorite Noms

From Lauren at She Moved To Texas we've got another fun blog hop!

What is your absolute favorite comfort meal?  If you want to take a horse spin on things, what's the best horse show food you've ever had?

I love, love, love all things Mexican/Tex-Mex. The food is admittedly part of the reason I want to visit Texas :) Also the main reason we go to Mexico nearly every winter, which a lot of people think is a bit weird. Seriously though, they have amazing food - it's not all sketchy burritos on the corner! If I had my way, I'd make some variation of it every night, with maybe a time out for Thai once every couple of weeks. So, in short, true comfort food to me = spicy, cheesy/creamy, with lots of fresh veggies.

My absolute favorite dish for a cold winter night is probably stuffed poblano peppers, Think Chiles Rellenos, but without the deep frying/egg batter. I just pre roast them in the oven, then stuff with a mix of rice (steamed with a homemade chipotle salsa for built in flavour and veggies) and cheeses. Then I bake them, top with some more salsa, and enjoy. If I can't find poblanos, I've been known to stuff and bake jalepenos, which are equally delicious but much more time consuming, If I'm needing extra comfort, add refried black beans on the side! Simple, easy meal but so yummy.

Our local shows are all about the hot dogs and frozen burgers...yuck. I did go to a horse event a few years back at Thunderbird that had a whole area designated for food trucks. One had fresh stir fries and a selection of sauces. I thought they were super busy because it was the only somewhat healthy food for miles, but the food was actually excellent!

Thursday 16 October 2014

Fat Farm

My very favorite vet came out to the farm this morning for the girl's annual checkup, shots and teeth.
The girls make me laugh because Ginger knew something was up just from my body language. Then when she saw the truck coming in the gate her fears were confirmed and she was like "NO way, I don't think so, see you later!" while Bridget was like "Oh cool, someones's coming to visit us!" Later on, while supposedly drugged/sleeping, Bridget even managed to sneak out of her stall in an attempt to visit and check out the truck more closely. Poor Ginger didn't find things nearly as exciting and fun and I'm sure will be holding a grudge for a few days.

Slightly suspicious. This is before the vet was even on the property. Her face is always so expressive :)

Ginger is not happy. Bridget in the background getting ready for the party.

It turns out both ponies needed their teeth done badly - Ginger had such sharp points she had sores in her mouth :( The vet says it looks like she prefers to chew on one side only and wears her teeth funny as a result. I should be getting them checked more often by the looks of things, I don't think Bridget has ever had her teeth done, and also had some sharp edges, but there wasn't as much work there - good thing since she woke up part way through!

Vet is also a farrier, so took a look at Ginger's foot that's been worrying me and felt it's definitely something to keep an eye on, but nothing to panic about yet. The separation is likely a result of soft feet, and extra stress (ie toes too long, pony is too heavy). So that's something we can deal with. His take is that for now, she needs to be on a diet. I agree that she's too heavy at the moment, but it's a struggle when it's a full board situation. He was also quick to mention that I'm right to be worried about laminitis - she's too heavy and our hay/pasture is quite rich. He gave me some hoof hardener and some anti bacterial/fungal stuff to put up in where it's separated. Also for Ginger's sweet itch, he said he can come back in the spring and there is an antihistamine shot she can have. Perfect! The verdict for Bridget is that she also needs to lose a bit more weight, but is on the heavier side of 'ok'. The barn cats also need to lose weight. Seeing a theme yet?
I call this one Football, because she is shaped like one. She's also super friendly and sweet, so not actually like football at all.
Semi feral barn cat that looks enough like Football that I picked her up once for a cuddle when she was sleeping. And I have never mistaken them again!

The barn owners and I had a chat after the vet left ("Oh, he said our horse was too fat last time and we had to put him on a diet!" - :) I think for their part, they're going to stop with the extra snacks, for mine I'm going to get Ginger out and exercising more. Since I'm also trying to be thinner, and we're still dog-less maybe Ginger and I will have to re-instate our semi weekly jogs in addition to regular riding :)

Back to regularly scheduled programming tomorrow, I hope - I haven't ridden since Sunday!

Lastly, here's the other (fat) barn kitty so he doesn't feel left out:
Tom, because he showed up as a stray boy cat I want to take him home.

Wednesday 15 October 2014

(Nearly) WW: Let Us Out!

We've had pretty stormy weather the past three days and the ponies are already sick and tired of it.
Life in the Super Max

I am nice, parole me please!
Ginger wants some love, Midge apparently just wants to trash talk her neighbour
This rain is nothing like Bridget is used to

Ginger has lived here awhile, she just doesn't like to get her white socks muddy

Ginger wonders why we can't all get along. Midge says her neighbour started it.

A session at the prison salon has Midge wanting to pose like a warmblood
Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday 14 October 2014

To Clip Or Not To Clip

Welsh Cobs aren't neccessarily known for their sleek look, particularly in winter.

Fear the Beard. Ginger in a prairie winter, 2012. Sadly, hair growth for a west coast 'winter' is about the same.
I'm not one to be overly concerned about looks, though. What I am concerned about is excessively sweaty ponies that won't dry out in our cool, damp, winter climate. So far, I've been lucky with Ginger - she's not an overly sweaty kind of girl. Midge....well, she's like me and gets sweaty and gross even thinking about work. It's been progressively getting worse as the weeks go by and her coat gets longer, and after this last lesson I admittedly could not get her completely dried off even though we did a minimal amount of work in the lesson itself.

G of course has never heard of such a thing and thinks clipping even a little of Bridget's hair off is more than slightly ridiculous. He's of the opinion the weather is going to cool off a bit more and she'll feel better. Maybe? I'm not sure. So here's my pros/cons list:

PRO: Comfortable, easy to cool out pony.
CON: Signing myself up for winter blanketing.
PRO: Looks tidier, easier to groom.
CON: If I'm doing the clipping - it could easily end up looking terrible. There is no one local to hire.
PRO: Internet has lots of handy resources, how hard can it be?
CON: It's the internet, not real life.

CON: I'd need to purchase clippers: and
CON: I just spent money on construction materials for jumps which:
CON: I built in the garage which:
CON: Led to G parking his truck in the driveway, which;
CON: I then backed my truck into this morning;
CON: Leading G to declare 'Those are now the most expensive jumps EVER'. and
CON: Making him quite uncharitable about the thought of me spending more $ on horses

Seriously, though, who out there clips? Since my horsey budget will now be going towards autobody repair, can I do a bib clip or a trace clip without spending a ton of $ on clippers? Those that don't clip, any tips for speeding up the drying out process in a damp climate? (Like can I use a hair dryer or something?) I obviously don't want Bridget to be uncomfortable.

Sunday 12 October 2014

Pony Has An Attitude, After All

Lesson day again already - time is sure flying! 2 Pointober was a bit of a fail this week since I was pretty busy and apparently Bridget's attention span also = +/- 4 minutes most days. I can't ride out a spook or a scoot in two point without touching, nor get a frozen pony to move without sitting....yet ;) Today, my iPhone died, so no official timer, boo. I did manage to do 3 sets or so that first day and I feel like I did pretty good today, so I'm hopeful next week we'll see a big improvement over my base time.
Dead phone = no pictures, so you get to see random adventures from past few days

We worked on a lot of the same stuff this morning as we did last lesson. Instructor remarked Bridget seemed a lot more consistent already in the contact and much better about staying forward, and also that she's very smart and 'has a lot of try' because she remembered everything from last week immediately and got right to work. It's a helpful thing for me to hear, because Ginger is so intense I'm left feeling like Bridget is a bit 'blah' at times, which isn't true at all, really - she just approaches life at normal horse speed rather than turbo Ginger speed!
Smart pony is also cute

Next up we did some canter work. Poor Midge. I need to take back my statement in the '10 Questions' post where I said she doesn't buck. She was all sucked back again and I gave her a smack with my crop when she ignored my asking her to canter. She let out a tiny buck and tried to stop, so I smacked her again and she jumped forward and let out a very large buck for such a small pony :) Not scary at all, since you could tell she thought she did A Very Bad Thing and that was going to be the extent of the rebellion. But we learned she actually does have some mare sass in there! Of course, the next time round she offered me the best right lead canter yet, so I'm not anticipating any rodeos in our future. Left lead was fine, we played a little with me getting up in two point and off her back and she liked that, I think. I had issues staying nicely balanced because she's kind of stop and go and all over the place, but I think we made it work. I'm concerned that with all the stop/go/power trot/canter/swerving around I'm interfering and bouncing around more than I could be and making her reluctant to canter, so using a half seat or two point may be just the ticket. Instructor is of the same mindset as me, in that she just needs to move forward and I need to stay completely out of her way - we'll sort the rest out later. She also mentioned using that road I posted about a couple of days ago, so it seems I've found a partner in crime for some roadside canter work.
Adorable new friend

To finish, we walked and trotted Bridget over my new poles and she was absolutely fine about that. The pole work really shows off how wiggly she still is, so I think we'll work on straightness and having her carry me to them a little in preparation for next week, when we might set up a little x at the end for her. She was pretty interested in the whole thing, so my plan of starting her jumping sooner rather than later in order to keep her cheerful little self enthusiastic about life might have some merit.
Ginger spy cam. Spending her lazy days kissing her boyfriend!

Vet is coming to visit Ginger and check that hind end and hoof out Thursday morning, so hopefully we'll have the big mare back in action soon. She's bored and hangs over her gate looking all sad when I leave, no matter how much grooming and treats she gets. It's making me feel so guilty!
Ginger is looking shiny and fabulous wants a job besides her gig modelling in people's wedding photos. (And yes, that's Midge in the background eating blackberries...again. She survives on weeds apparently.)

Friday 10 October 2014

In Which I'm 'THAT' Person

The weather reports are showing that our fall/winter is finally going to arrive, starting this weekend. That essentially means the forecast is all rain, every day, for the foreseeable future. On the plus side, I can stop being annoyed about that pair of sunglasses I misplaced somewhere in the house...I've got at least 6 months to find them now, lol. The incoming weather won't slow down my riding or barn time at all, really (I do own an embarrassingly full closet of boots and rain gear), but I've still got that feeling like these are the last few days of a really epic vacation!
We seriously need to sell our house with the view and buy a farm - I tried to find a picture of a storm coming in and instead I have just this one sorta cloudy picture from our deck on my phone and about a million pictures of the horses at the barn. No horses living outside these windows, so interest levels apparently nil beyond checking incoming weather as it relates to riding time.
In that frame of mind, I headed up to the barn yesterday morning and tacked up my trusty Bridget mare. Due to my jump building obsession (post soon, I promise, they are nearly done!) and the ponies' need for the odd day off, she'd had two whole days off in a row, which is somewhat unprecedented! I've been feeling a little down about our collective level of fitness, considering the amount of miles we've been putting in, but yesterday I was encouraged - little mare was feeling really good and couldn't wait to get out the gate and go for an adventure!

A short ride from my barn, we have a nice grassy shoulder on a side road, which a very kind older gentleman mows. It's about 2km/1.5miles long and gradually trends uphill. I always walk along there because some of the other riders in the area like to shame the kids who trot or canter on it - apparently it is dangerous/irresponsible and worthy of much negative gossip if they see you. Today, though, Bridget was feeling good, there was no traffic/no one to see, and I couldn't resist - where else around here am I going to find such nice footing? We had a lovely canter up the hill. And it was so much fun, we may or may not have had another short one on the way home.

I don't personally see the safety issue, so I think I'm just going to join those 'irresponsible' kids and enjoy a nice canter now and then - I do have a pony, and have never claimed to be overly responsible, so I should fit right in with the 'bad' kids ;) Also, I think this is as good a place as any to do my '2 pointober' practice - much more interesting for everyone than circles in the ring. Because if a cantering pony is gossip worthy, surely adding a rider gasping along in a near fetal two point and riding one handed due to staring desperately at her iphone timer held in the other, should be cause for at least local celebrity status? ;)