Friday 30 September 2016

Horses make it better

My funk was getting quite well established this past week. I think it was a combination of just being way overtired, catching a stupid virus, and also having far too many commitments on the go.

I took Monday and Tuesday off from my real job, and cancelled my lesson Monday night. I slept in between binge watching all things Netflix.  Wednesday, I resumed real life and work, but was exhausted. G called at lunch and was encouraging me to skip the barn/lessons after work, but I was like "If I was going to just do one thing today it would have been the barn. Priorities!"

That night I had a jumping lesson on Bridget. The first half was wonderful amazing awesomeness,  the last half was tired behind the leg awkwardness. Oh well, I was tired too. Next up, I tacked up C's friendly dinosaur Q mare for a short hack to stretch her legs prior to their leaving Thursday for their event this weekend. Q mare is going to totally keep me sane. She's got all the forward and just powers up the big hills, no asking required.  Just point her where you want and she takes you there, terrain is no issue for that big walk.  I caught myself wishing for a Q mare in a Bridget sized body, then quickly cut those thoughts short.  I'm very lucky to ride two such good horses, and Q's extreme forwardness comes with its own set of things to work on,  I have faith that with continued work B will improve...look how far she's come already!
B says 'Who needs a fitness plan? I'm looking fab!"

Thursday, I tacked up my little Bridget mare with the intent of rehashing the jump course from the day before with a fresher pony (and rider!) Sadly, she was tired and even though she was super honest about staying in front of my leg she was huffing and puffing quite quickly again. I'm all worried about the COPD thing even though the more likely reason is our lack of over fences work of late. After reading Megan's blog mention of meandering hacks, I opted to finish off by taking the pooped out pony on a 30 min trailventure, just wandering along on the buckle. Hills are good pony fitness even if I let Midge pick the pace, and I think it's a good mental health choice for both of us to head out now and then with zero goals or purpose. I was a bad person and also returned some phone calls at the same time. Midge is of course easy like that, and neck reins just fine so even trot and canter sets on the trail have been done with one hand holding the phone. I have no shame :)
Sad that the sun is setting so early, but it does make for beautiful rides.

I'm feeling refreshed. Just in time to welcome the weekend! I'm sad I'm not going to the final event of the season this weekend, but I think lots of barn time and not much of anything else to do will be better for my health. Priorities :)

Thursday 29 September 2016

Wish List

It's that time of year - the days are getting shorter and I have more time to peruse the Internet in search of things I must have. Or, maybe its a throwback to back to school shopping combined with available spare cash because show season is winding down. Normally I am not much of a shopping person, but if I'm going to do it, fall is always the time I start looking. If you're also in the modd to peruse, Patently Bay posted a similar wish list recently,  The 900 Facebook Pony shared some neat stuff from Australia, and LWilliams at Viva Carlos reviewed all the belts. All have a knack for putting together useful, but fashionable items I am envious of!

Here's my annual wish list:

 - Noel Asmar City Jacket
Why I want it: Street to Barn in 0.5 sec. Flattering cut and I like the big cowl neck/hood for our rainy winter days.

- Roots Shorty Boots

Why I want them: More street than barn, but would be super cute with the above coat and/or jeans and a cozy sweater. I envision them also working very nicely as my 'after ride' boots with my breeches and the inevitable stops I seem to make on the drive home from the barn.

-Ariat Unbridled Roper Boots

Why I want them: Because I need a new pair of mucking/feeding/trail riding barn boots and I've always used these kind rather than paddock boots or muck boots. Besides, I think they're cuter.

- Swanky Saddle Abundant Pony Necklace

Why I want it: It's Bridget in necklace form for only $15.

- Pikeur Diana Coat in navy

Why I want it: I currently use a cheap hunt coat for dressage. I love the traditional cut of these coats, and the longer length. I'm not sure how this would work on curvy, short me in real life, but something along these lines in a washable, lightweight fabric is what is currently appealing to me.

Cheap Plastic Stirrups

Why I want them: From the traditional coat to the completely non George Morris approved modern lightweight stirrups...I admit to not liking the look, but after riding in some saddles that included these I'm totally sold, at least for schooling purposes. The weight seems to make my ankles happy, and the super grippy treads make me feel pretty secure over fences.

And because the shopping has already begun, here are the things I've already purchased:

 - Elation Hudson breeches

Why I bought them: A 50% off sale, and they are much cuter in real life. Bought in the grey, and white for $75 CAD each. The fabric is a little weird (kind of shiny/slippery rather than more structured) but for the price I'm happy.

 - Horseware Cleona Riding Jacket

Why I bought it: Another big sale, $50 CAD delivered to my door. Bought in grey because I thought it would match most things and work in a pinch at more casual shows. Initial thoughts are that it's very flattering, nicely made, and repels mud like crazy! I went on an epic mountain bike outing in the mud and rain and the hard core riders were asking where I got the excellent coat...I'll take that as a compliment! It's not obviously a riding coat, but it has a couple of strategically placed side/rear zips that can make it a more traditional fit in the saddle.

Things I need but cannot get excited about

- Stock tie. Ughhh I am not a frilly, dressy person and I hate things around my neck.
- New tall boots. They never fit right, and custom $ make me sad. Shopping for swim suits is more fun than this.
- Gloves. I have tiny hands, again hard to fit.
- Dressage saddle. So much ughhh. Fit, price, short fat pony, and short 'curvy' rider overwhelmed but the flap length on most saddles. Do I want fancy grippy leather? Big blocks? I just don't know.
-Dressage bridle. Please no to the flash noseband...I like the simple look and don't need a flash. Also, cob sized, with a horse sized browband. So, that eliminates 99% of current bridles.

So, for my final riding tack and attire related wish:

To be rich. And to have an excellent personal shopper on staff :)

Wednesday 28 September 2016

Too Hard On Myself

The story of my life, seriously.

My coach grabbed my tests from the show, and of course there are a few surprises hidden within.

Test 1: If you recall, I was thinking low 60's. Surprise! We scored 64.9% even with the 4 for that break in the canter and the -2 for my inadvertent error of course.  Because we got 8's on things like our centerlines/halts and the rest of the walk work. And great marks on the stretchy trot. And obviously since those were good moments I forgot about them so I could dwell on the bad.

Test 2: I thought we did the best we could given the pony tude. Predicted mid 60's. Surprise! A 69%. Lots of good moments rewarded.

Things to work on: Slow the tempo down more for more swing and bounce in her gaits. Particularly the can get heavy/hurried looking. Those of you with horses that tend to want to get stuck behind the leg will understand that struggle...I feel like on a bad day she's all lazy and wanting to stop, so I kick on and it can easily go the other way where she's like "Ahhhhh! OK fine, here is my best frantic giraffe impression (for two strides;)!"

Finally, if you recall, I was all stressy about not having enough time to clean my tack/pull her mane/generally get the pony in presentable show shape. So, in the real world I won the prize for best turned out horse at the show.

Educational, for sure. I feel like maybe I should do this for every show...record how I THINK it went vs how a professional judge thinks it went. Right now, I give myself a 4.5 for dressage judging, it seems I am unfairly hard on one rider in particular :)

Sort Of Show Recap

"Sort Of" recap because I forgot one of the most important things of the day - picking up my scores/tests :( All may not be lost however, there's a good chance someone grabbed them for me so a full recap may eventually come our way (I hope)

"Sort Of" recap because honestly the whole day and the days prior and following have just been 'sort of' OK - in other words, everything has felt just slightly off and I've been struggling to keep my head above water for whatever reason.
Where did summer even go?

So, there are your warnings, and on with the show we go :)

I'm sure I have discussed multiple times the relationship showing has with anxiety in my brain (if you're new here, it's quite the unhealthy and codependent relationship!) Non overnight shows are normally not so bad, and I find dressage shows easier than jumping/events/situations where I need to remember multiple patterns/courses.

So, a day trip to a dressage show should have been fine. Except no...we are forgetting an important piece of the puzzle anxiety-wise: actually having the time to practice and remember the dressage test. Oh, and you know, ride your horse, or pull her mane or clean tack or really be prepped in any way at all. Lack of preparation = increased anxiety. I am apparently not a spur of the moment show person.

Bridget should have been fine, as in my absence she had a couple of training rides with EC and a lot of relaxed hacking and fun things to do with the barn girls. What we didn't factor in was that her adventures would make her very, very tired. And the training rides? Actually made for an extra layer of angry "don't wanna" pony. EC really worked on getting her to carry herself more in the canter, to which B said "Oh, actually did no one tell you? I can't canter at all" :) It's all good, because if we know anything about B, it's that she dislikes things that are hard work but once she gets tired of arguing about it she's better than ever. It's almost like she's obligated to rebel first though :)
Night before's mad grooming session. Why did I not take pics of her braids day of? She looked cute, I promise.

So, I've set the scene.

Our test of choice was Training 3 and we opted to ride twice.

First ride through: In general B felt wiggly and stuck behind my leg and NOTHING was helping. Canter was rushy and not the best...I felt like I was struggling just to keep her in canter and on a circle. I was getting a bit panicky. Obvious errors: I had read the test wrong and didn't realize the free walk involved a trip through x. Plus, B was so 'exhausted' she broke to trot a bit early from the second canter. Verbal feedback from the judge was encouraging...trot work looked great and generally speaking we are both improved since the last time she saw us ride. Canter is coming along well, but needs to be balanced better and less on the looked like she was dragging me along (lol, I'll take it). I would suspect this one scored somewhere in the low 60's

Second ride through: Pony was even more tired. T was beyond determined. And, I feel like it went as well as it could have given the pony I had on the day. Canter felt better, trot work was good, and I remembered where to ride in the walk. Verbal feedback was all good. Since the gaits and impulsion (plus submission) were still decidedly 'meh' for us I'm expecting a mid 60's depends on whether the judge saw 'relaxed' or 'lazy' ;)

Overall, I was disappointed. Pony was not nearly as forward and straight and soft as I would like - the power was really lacking. As a rider, I had that awful useless feeling where I just didn't have the ability or tools to fix the issues. I was sad and relieved all at the same time that EC's input was basically that B didn't show up and let me down a little. I would never expect to put in our best ride ever during a dressage test, on the other hand I feel like it's equally unhelpful to have our worst ride in recent months on that day...I really was hoping for feedback based on an average day in the life!
On Sunday, we visited Hastings Park. I picked this one because she looked like Bridget. Big surprise, she was not overly interested in racing and came last lol

To be honest, I knew coming back from 10 days away for work and personal obligations would be tough. And really, I have few regrets - we got out there, put in some respectable work on a tough day and had some fun. In the end, that's all good.


Monday 26 September 2016

Sharing Is Good

And I know if anyone will appreciate the majesty of this shirt, my fellow horse bloggers will.

Found here

Weekend recap to follow, but obviously this shirt wins the weekend :)

Friday 23 September 2016

Quick Check In

I'm in the middle of a couple of hectic weeks! There has been a lot of travelling for work, some epic bike rides, too much alcohol, lots of Mexican food, a couple of visits to G....and zero pony time. Today is my first day home in over a week. However, life is returning slightly to normal - we have a dressage show tomorrow (please be good Bridget!), plus a planned trip to the racetrack (sans Bridget, don't want to scare the TBs ;) Sunday.
I love this form of transport, however it is $$$$$ and not Bridget so my flight school dreams remain on hold. I feel lucky to live in an area where this is the taxi getting us to and from work conferences tho, particularly on a gorgeous fall day! ( Also, maybe a bit 1%, but I really liked having a pilot/plane on call this week.) In related news, I need to win the lottery:)

 I'm feeling totally unprepared for the weekend, but hey, if I waited until things were perfect I'd never do anything!

Here's hoping I'll have proper updates on Monday and be able to catch up on my blog reading over the weekend as well!


Friday 16 September 2016


Bridget is well and truly on a rampage this week. Dino and Katai, you'd best keep your distance, not only am I sure B would be the worst influence ever, but we should try to avoid the pony induced apocalypse that would inevitably follow those three worlds colliding ;)

I debated riding after work - I had a bunch of errands to run and things to organize so I could go away for the upcoming week.. Still, I felt like I'd better try to redeem our awful ride on Monday so I wouldn't dwell on it while I was away. Big mistake.

It started when I caught Midge. Bump, with her nose. "Back off, that's rude" Bump, again. A reminder of my personal space was needed. B says "OK, fine, but now I will not walk beside you. I will walk slightly behind, very grudgingly" and...Bump.  "OMG, you rotten pony!" So, we went for a visit to the round pen and reminded pony who is in charge around here.

But sadly, the attitude adjustment did not translate under saddle, Moving off my leg or forward was met with much ear pinning and tail swishing. Actually, everything I asked,  no matter how simple, was met with pony angst. So, we walked, a lot. Walk, forward, and into the contact immediately when asked. Halt, ditto. "Argghhh too hard", said pony. Finally, she conceded to march off at an appropriate pace and halt in an acceptable balance. Next up, trot, which was OK, but generally just tense and on the verge of drama. I added in a bunch of canter/gallop/canter to get her thinking forward,  which I don't think overly happened but it felt sticky and resentful, not like something she was overly enthused about. My good note to end on was some more walk/trot/walk/halt transitions that were adequate, but not great. What a demoralizing ride.

The thought is crossing my mind that maybe she's uncomfortable somewhere, and by happy coincidence the vet is out next week to do checkups, as is the saddle fitter. Honestly though, we've been here before and I'd be willing to bet our problem is mare hormones...B is not normally mare-ish at all but I'm starting to notice a pattern: 1 to 2 weeks as the seasons change in spring and fall where she's just really not herself. I've noticed the past couple of weeks the mares have been really full of drama while I do morning chores - they are all bickering and totally over the top ridiculous, where they are normally only slightly more drama than the geldings.

Was I seriously considering showing First level last week? :)

Thursday 15 September 2016

Q Mare: 1st Lesson Recap

In case you missed my mention of my new weekly ride Q, a quick recap: 6 year old 16.2hh grey TB/Percheron mare. Still fairly green, sweet girl. Her owner is an amazing rider doing a wonderful job with her, but a bit short of time at the moment and offered me a once weekly ride. I'm so not worthy, but am going to do my best to take advantage of such an amazing opportunity to better my riding.

Since Q mare is pretty much the opposite of Bridget, I need to learn to ride all over again. Actually, I lie, I just need to believe I can ride a strange horse, again.

I started with a quick warm up trail ride, which my big grey friend was excited about. This is a horse who loves to work, and I suspect you'd have a very hard time tiring her out. She's very much the TB in that she's always ready to offer you more and she views forward as a reward rather than a punishment. So, we power walked and trotted all over the neighbourhood as a relaxing warmup, but I think it just got her more ready to go!
Another terrible pic of Q
 We returned in time for our lesson, and immediately went to work in the walk. Even in the walk she wants to "run away" with me and drag me around and generally be a bit of a bully. I'm apparently much too soft as I'm used to Bridget being so light and reactive. Listening to my quiet whispers is not so much on Q's agenda - at the moment she's much more of the turn it up loud and rock on mentality ;) So, the usual spirals and circles were used, with me really focusing on keeping my position very strong and my half halts effective.

Up to trot, same thing, just keeping my body very strong and really half halting her whenever she gets heavy, frequent reminders for her to sit and use herself more. It's a literal balancing act as she wants to be very heavy and drag you around, but shes legit green and needs the rider to help her balance too.

Canter, same thing. Keep the outside shoulder contained, ask her to sit, keep my core very strong and shoulders back. Super hard work as she will take any opportunity to try to tip you forward and race off.

My thoughts: This horse is going to be very, very good for my riding, and also my confidence. She's a bit hot and sensitive and a little tricky but in a good way, because she's pretty levelheaded at the same time. When I ride her well, she goes super well. I cannot tense up or tip forward or any of that. She's very reminiscent of a mare I owned previously, so I do have the tools I need, they're just rusty and belonged to a previous, much braver, version of me.There was much testing and feeling each other out tonight, but I think we're going to be OK. I do love big bad Q mare - the work ethic and forward thinking are a nice change from Bridget.

EC's input: Two thumbs up as a second ride for me. It's a good fit. Don't need to just hack, I'm more than capable of schooling her too, I just need to have confidence in my abilities. Treat her like a greener version of Bridget and aim for the same feel. I know what to do.
Bridget did this all evening and I ran out of time to ride her it's your turn, B! You can just see her little "star" where her neck meets her jaw. It's not a scar, it's exactly the same as a small star you'd normally find on the forehead, coat whorl included. I feel like it makes her a bit special :)
Final thoughts: Stupid confidence again, but I'm happy she thinks I'm capable, I'm a far less talented rider than Q's owner or previous riders and I know she's been quite fussy about who can ride her. (No pressure, right?;)  I think we'll continue to do a monthly lesson to check in. She's a nice change from Bridget, but also makes me appreciate Bridget at the same time...brakes are nice, as is B's naturally more uphill way of going. Overall, I'm beyond flattered her owner and EC trust me with such a lovely horse and quite excited about my new big bad ass grey friend :)

Tuesday 13 September 2016

Mare Days

My ride last night was awful. At least we're keepin' it real over in this part of the forest!

Remember how I was all like "ohhh remember when Bridget used to argue so much about moving forward she'd smash into the area walls?" OK, it's not funny anymore, because after months and months of good behavior it's apparently back on her to do list.

The root of the issue, is of course the forward button. It was broken last night, but not in the usual fixable way, if that makes sense. Normally if she's a little sluggish we have a reminder about being honest off my leg, and we're good to go. Last night, this approach only solved the problem for what felt like 5-10 seconds before we needed another talking to. Repeat, repeat again. And again..and basically for forever.

With a faulty go button, the wiggly, crooked pony makes her appearance. Last night was just one of those nights...we could have forward but not bend or collection, we could have bend or collection but not forward. Don't get me wrong, there were still lots of moments of of amazing, awesome work...but I've been spoiled lately and expect more than that!!
Energy level somewhere around here. I know I've reused this pic a million times, but it's indicative of 99% of Midge's daily attitude towards life. (The other 1% is super angry ;)

The issue was likely twofold...the weather has warmed up again so she just felt tired, and we've also increased the amount of collection we're asking for. Pony says that's hard work and sucking back, wiggling, getting her head above the bridle, running away, etc etc all might be easier options. Long term readers will know this is pretty standard Bridget protocol...she's a pony mare and if she thinks something is hard or doesn't see the point in it, obviously she needs to voice her displeasure in every way she can think of! The only problem with this plan is of course that we persist until we see a tiny bit of progress and she ends up working harder than she would have if she just tried to cooperate from the start.

Prior to the lesson starting, EC and I were discussing training rides in my absence next week, and decided they likely weren't needed. However, Bridget apparently had other ideas last night, so the training rides have been rebooked!
Dramatic reenactment. 

We finished with a short trail ride. Even on the frustrating days we like to have a little fun...this time in the form of a 'go forward or else' gallop up the hill (evil laugh). Luckily, Midge is easily fooled and galloping on the trail is not nearly as impossible as moving forward in the arena. Magic, I tell you :)


Monday 12 September 2016

Weekend Fun, Show Planning

Originally, I was going to surprise you all with a trip to a games day with Midge, but then she was a little sore after her trim AND the organizers got back to me and said I wasn't allowed to compete in English tack. Some barn mates were still planning to go in their English gear. It seems it's more local politics at play than anything...I do have western gear but I definitely got more than a whiff of drama, so Midge's feet gave me the out I needed. Our old club at home has a fun day every summer with very few rules so it might be an idea to plan to travel up and attend that next year. I could catch up with my old friends and race Midge around all at once!

Midge says away show stall doors are too tall anyways.
We still had a fantastic weekend.  Midge's feet were happy again 24 hours later,  so I had a great dressage ride in the arena Saturday, then Sunday we went for another trail ride. It was the same 90 min loop we did last weekend, but with different company. Our company this time included my favorite 7 year old who loves to race his pony, so we got some nice gallops in, even a super one up a very steep hill in the forest. It's nearly vertical at the top,  so I don't think I'd want to ride it coming down...but going up its pretty fun and probably excellent for building up Midge's butt muscles! Midge was having a blast and getting a little ramped up and competitive as the ride went on...I love It! It was an excellent trade off for our games day,  and honestly,  I think Midge probably had more fun.

Moving forward, I'm skipping the hunter jumper show this coming weekend in the name of more downtime and a trip up the coast. The following weekend, we're going to a dressage show that is thankfully close enough there are no overnight stays involved. We're going to try out Training 3. I waffled forever between that and a First level test, but our 15m canter circles aren't consistently great day to day, and we all know what my show nerves are like. Better that nothing in the test worries me!

Cat pic for Emma..our cat grew a lion mane somehow.
I've also cancelled out of the final 'big' event of the season...I'm sad, but just beyond tired at the moment and have to go away this weekend, followed by a week away for work conferences, followed by the above mentioned dressage show weekend,...tacking on another 3 days away from home the weekend after that for an event seems too overwhelming. On the bright side, the $ saved can go towards a new saddle!

Thursday 8 September 2016

One Thing

The other morning, one of my coworkers mentioned her goal of doing one thing every day that scares her. I immediately thought "Whoa, that could be turned into the best horse related New Years resolution ever!  Denny Emerson would approve! " because I'm obsessed with horsey goals like that. (Sorry, coworker...I deliberately chose to play dumb to your intent of motivating me for work related goals and am completely unremorseful ;)

I saved my One Thing for the barn, because it was the day for my first ride on big bad Q mare. Long time readers will remember the days before Bridget when I had some serious anxiety about riding. Well, on certain horses, that anxiety still likes to creep back in my head. Like considering getting on a green 16.2hh tank of a mare, for example. So obviously I said yes I would ride her, and continue to do so every week...because anxiety can suck it :)

What you need to know about Q:

-She's super sweet and good for a baby
-She's 3/4 TB,  1/4 Percheron. She's got a TB work ethic and sensitivity, and is pretty brave and level headed. She looks more than 1/4 draft. She's big.
-She's 6, and been under saddle the better part of the year.
-Her owner is an amzing rider. I am not, so I'll likely take a lesson here and there on Q to stay up to speed on her training.
Much prettier than my terrible pics would indicate

Our first outing went well. The arena was super busy and she was quite fresh, so I took her out on all the neighbourhood trails to burn off some steam and do some team building. Given I am totally new to her and it was windy and rainy and dinnertime at home, she was super. Next week, a dressage lesson because I honestly can't keep her canter together for very long and need much help. She's quite heavy and uncoordinated,  but I know it can be done because her owner makes her look good!
Ears not super impressed by nasty weather and the stranger on her back

I then quickly tacked Bridget up for a jumping lesson,  which for whatever reason made me a little nervous. So, my One Thing became Two Things.

Bridget was exactly how I would love her to always be: light and forward and pulling ever so slightly to the jumps. Lucky, lucky me! Once my initial reluctance disappeared, I felt like I was riding as I would like to: soft and relaxed, and looking for the next jump. FINALLY felt what it will feel like if I can ever get my rogue body to behave consistently...I've been trying for how long? I am a slow learner :)

Of course, EC took that to mean I was ready for a big oxer I hadn't even seriously considered would be part of our course. I expressed my doubts, particularly as it led into the same 5 stride line we wiped out on 2 weeks ago, to which she responded "Trust me. It's going to ride really well." OK then, Three Things it is.

And, she was right, it rode really nicely. Its still an awkward distance at B's natural pace, more like 5 and a half strides, but shes getting adjustable so it doesn't matter like it used to. We used that line for the rest of the lesson and I asked for 5 forward strides, got it, and was super happy. Then EC asked for me to try for a really forward 4 if it felt right. Umm, Four Things? But we got that too, first try and it was fun.

The highlight for me was actually the part where I failed, jumping in on kind of an iffy pace, wanting 4, and changing my mind part way, so two biggish strides, followed by three small. In normal circumstances, a rider might be unhappy with that ride, but we were thrilled because it meant Bridget is finally becoming  responsive and adjustable in the canter!

EC mentioned again how she'd like to see us at Novice next year, and I was like..."Maybe if I ever get brave...that oxer tonight scared the crap out of me the first time." At which she laughed "Don't worry, jumps like that will seem small to you in a few months...besides, Novice will be smaller than that anyway." Um, OK then, apparently my eyes were not deceiving me. I'm not even going to ask how big that thing really was. 2'6" is my happy place :)

So, maybe I'll forget the One Thing idea...apparently an average night in my barn life is enough to scare me far more than once a day. It also seems I must like to be scared, because it was the best day I've had in a while.


Monday 5 September 2016

Where Did Summer Go?

Two weekends ago, I was at a show suffering heatstroke. Last weekend was thankfully more moderate, and warm enough to stop at the beach for a swim after a great ride. This weekend brought instant winter (of the moderate wet coast variety, so don't feel too sorry for me ;) When I drove home tonight the beach was grey and abandoned,  with huge waves crashing in. An after ride hot chocolate at the coffee shop across the street was more appropriate (and indulged in...I may not have got the summer body I wanted but my winter one is hungry and ready to be fed, lol!)
Bridget is also hard at work on her winter body

Despite the iffy weather, I had a great barn weekend. It was the first weekend in about forever where I had no one visiting and no other places to be. I think I need that sort of mental reset every couple of months. We have a busy month ahead show wise,  but I'm considering scaling back and just doing a 2 day dressage show instead of 2 weekends of single day shows. I'm tired, and honestly sometimes just the amount of lessons and training rides in a month seem like a lot of work, forget packing up and going to a show. Besides, I need to save for a saddle!

Anyway, our long weekend adventures:

- a jump painting party, in which it was discovered that out of 20 or so barn mates, I'm the only one who was uptight enough to bring painters tape and measure so the stripes on the poles are perfect. The kids used to think I was spontaneous and fun, now they know better. Much hilarity had at my expense ;)  In related news, the kids jumps turned out fun and amazing, while the adult painted ones are pretty boring.

- a dressage lesson, in which the cooler weather made for a much more fun and energetic pony. We worked on taking a walk pirouette and getting the basics of that in not a canter pirouette...just having her haunches in on a 10 - 15 m circle, pushing her shoulders around on an outside track, hinds marching along on a smaller inside track. A few strides of that, a few forward making the circle bigger, repeat. One day it will lead to fancy things, right now it is a tool to help get her more collected and straight. Second tool is to get as big of a collected trot as i can, and transition to canter keeping that same level of collection. When it gets big and uncoordinated, either spiral in on the first exercise if i have time to fix it, or transision to trot, but make it big and collected immediately, then back to camter. A lot of big pieces feel like they are starting to come together at the moment and I'm excited :)
Same day, better angle...she's actually somewhat fit for a round,  not so sporty pony

- some trail ventures. I'll have to take pics on a sunnier day, but we have some great trails right in our backyard that look like something out of the Lord of the Rings, big ancient trees and lots of hills and creeks. Even the name of the park, Mt Elphinstone, sounds like something from a book. We found a bunch of new trails and hopefully converted some barn mates into part time trail riders.
Llama and minis and sheep, oh my! But it's Bridget so even in the middle of spooking we take pics.

-A flat ride that EC later had a ton of comments on. Bad news, EC still has eyes in the back of her head, good news, she liked what she saw...slowly we are becoming assimilated into the program ;)

- A tryout on a new ride. Further details on that later...long story short a barn mate needs help exercising her super cool but giant greenie who I have a not so secret horse crush on. Trial ride went well, but I felt awkward on a strange pony, so new mare may be the subject of a lesson recap or two in the near future so I can learn the buttons. I'm excited and feeling a little intimidated all at the same time...been awhile since I left the Bridget comfort zone.

Sunday 4 September 2016

How's Ginger Doing?

I guess it's been awhile since we've talked all things Ginger!

The answer to the title question is that she's doing wonderfully. To summarize where we're at...I technically still own the big mare ( I know, this is crazy, but I'm good with it for reasons I'll explain) and she lives at the same barn as Bridget. She's on full lease and as far as I still know the plan is to buy her eventually. This is part of the reason I don't post a lot of pictures or updates on Ms feels weird to recap other people's rides and accomplishments on my sold/not sold horse :)

This spring and summer she's been out eventing and doing quite well at the lower levels, as well as attending all things pony club. I believe the plan for 2017 is for her and her main rider to do a couple of training level events, along with all the local shows, clinics,  and pony club rallies! She's still the same Ginger we all know..impatient, opinionated, full of drama, and super sweet. She seems quite happy in her current circumstances and who am I to argue with Ginger, Queen of All Things?

See? I even took a proof of life picture yesterday :)

There are two girls who get along with her quite well and both seem very happy to have the ride. I've only ridden her a couple of times in the last month or so and she still feels familiar and good, but I'm preferring my little Bridget mare - believe it or not B mare is softer and more forward!

When I call for her, she still comes running. When I call for Bridget, they both come running. It's adorable :) Ginger is still very much of the opinion that I am her person, and I'm good with that and very happy she's still here.

More reasons Ginger gets no pictures...she's always this close!

Friday 2 September 2016

Just Can't Even

I knew we were in for some Bridger theatrics the moment I got in the saddle. Why? Because she let out this huge martyred pony sigh as I swung my leg over. Even EC had to laugh "So sorry to interrupt your  busy day, Bridget!"

To give Bridget her due, she truly does find some of the stuff were working on at the moment quite difficult, both mentally and physically. But don't feel too sorry for her, she gets a ton of breaks and lots of encouragement,  plus extra leeway as always simply because she's cute and we can't help ourselves!

Shoulder in is coming along nicely. Travers, though is really, really hard for her.  You'd have to see it to believe it, but even at a walk she's like "Wait! My hind leg is where? And my front there? And I bend how? Are you sure? OK....*cue pony twister game where one leg gets planted in its last known location and the rest wander along without it*

I couldn't resist
LOL, poor Midge, being bendy and supple does have its downsides. Needless to say, we are happy with even two or three strides and pretend she's a genius so she gets super proud of herself. That has unfortunately left an impression because if I'm not super on the ball, she will attempt some really awkward and bad traver at weird moments.  "Lengthen trot? Canter? Ha ha, silly human, I am capable of SO much more than that! Watch this!" Then, being the pony mare she is, she does not like to hear that maybe that's not quite what we had in mind. Cue much sulking, groaning, and sighing.

So, we had a lot of discussion about a lot of things last night. Because when Bridget gets frustrated, EVERYTHING is up for debate. Forward has to be established as a thing, then whoa. Turning off the outside aids, ditto. Going into contact. She even half decided to be barn sour, for the first time ever. Silly mare.

Finally, we ended on a great note, called it a day and went for a short cool down hack up the road. I lengthened my reins and....Bridget proceeded to be so interested in being all dramatic about me "finally" letting her stretch she forgot about her feet and proceeded to trip over the road shoulder and fall on her face in super slow motion spectacular awesomeness.

Yep, one of those days where I probably should have just left her alone so she could just think about important things, like how to horse.