Friday 31 March 2017

Pony Fitness Week 2

Another week of enforced fitness discipline in the books!

Friday: Day off.

Saturday: Clear rounds day, as outlined in our weekend update. Pony wasn't the most willing participant, but she spent about an hour in a jump lesson and did a few rounds, plus a lengthy warmup in the outdoor.

Sunday: Miserable weather, so we condensed the time and increased the intensity. Fitness hack. 1 km trot up gradual slope, short canter up steep slope, further .5 km to top of steep hill at a walk. Return down hill asking her to use her hindquarters, .5 km. Further 1 km along power right of way, canter half, trot half. Remainder 1km walk home on a loose rein, followed by 15min in the arena practicing walk/canter/walk transitions.

Monday: Dressage lesson. All the canter. Forever and ever.

Leaving this here, because I tend get myself all turned around at least once per lesson.
Tuesday: Vaulting. I wasn't there, but supposedly B had energy to burn so they did a lot of the session in canter. Feedback was the right lead is getting quite good and perfect for vaulting, left still a little frantic and prone to falling out. Nice to hear it's consistent with how she's going for me.

Wednesday: She felt great, but a little stiff bending, likely due to her efforts of the previous day. Opted for a repeat of Sunday's ride, but kept the reins loose and her forward and stretchy as much as possible - more of a forward thinking hack than truly making her work. She was awesome. I'm getting addicted to galloping on one of the sandy sections of road, and she's been offering before I ask - I like it. I'll never say no, because I want her to think forward is always a great choice.

Thursday: Trainer ride. Working on that pesky left lead. EC has all the timing, fitness, and determination I lack and does more transitions in canter in 45min than I do in a month. The report was B had energy to spare and was a good girl!

Friday: light jump school...

Because Saturday is XC schooling, and Sunday we have our first show of the year!


Wednesday 29 March 2017

Feeling Weird and Embracing It

I don't even know how to describe it...I guess we'll just say I'm feeling weird about riding and life right now. I've mentioned things in real life have felt a bit off kilter this winter, so maybe that's affecting barn life too? I don't know.

I'm still super motivated to ride, excited for my lessons, and definitely going to try to get to all the clinics and shows I can this year. I'm making progress toward my goals. So, objectively, I'm doing all right.

Really, though, I'm struggling a lot with being pretty harsh on myself as a rider, as well as having faith in the pony holding up her end of the deal on any given day. Don't get me wrong, any time at the barn is still enjoyable and time well spent, and I look forward to hanging out with the Midge after work every day. It's just that the doubts about us both and the direction we're taking have crept in over the winter and I'm feeling a little lost and a little like we're failing. I need to change it up a bit, and luckily my attitude is something I can make conscious choices to change.

So, for now, our goal of not having any immediate goals stands.
I spoke too soon. B has immediate goals and an intense focus on her dinner bucket of grain being prepared.

We're going to be fairly busy in the near future. A 2 phase show this weekend, and hopefully a xc school while we're there, then eventing camp in the interior of the province the third week of April, then our first proper event of the season May 6/7. Somewhere in the middle of all that is a local hunter jumper show I'd like to find time for.

I'm going to try something new and do my very best to not worry about anything show related (beyond what time to meet at the pub) No worrying about move ups  or even improving from the time before. I'm not going to consider anything that happens or doesn't happen at shows this year as a benchmark for success or reflection of progress. With this winter being what it was, and me feeling the way I do, I just really feel like we need to instead use shows as an excuse to just go have fun. I can worry to the point of being miserable, and I tend to overlook the positives and focus on the things that could have gone better (partly because omg guys, its a show and people might be there and they might watch me doing things badly! The judge might hate us! The internet might creep our scores and get judgey! The horror ;)
B: "I'm cool. Everyone knows the camera adds 100lbs. Where's dinner?" 

This year, I don't want to worry about consequences if I get her to a crappy distance, or focus on the inevitable lost marks in left lead canter because its still not as straight as it could be. I want my biggest worry to be remembering the test or course, with the rest of the time spent enjoying the atmosphere, cheering on barnmates, and catching up with friends.   I'm thinking Starter (2'3") for the events, 2'6" jumpers at the show, and quite possibly the beginner group at the clinic/camp. First level dressage. Zero expectations. I'm curious as to whether consciously attempting to remove the anxiety, goals, and ideals will transfer through to Ms B and in turn make her have more fun. I'm willing to bet it will. Wish me luck with this  - not being 100% focused on doing my absolute best goes entirely against my (impossibly difficult) standards for myself ;)


Monday 27 March 2017

Buy My Stuff Vol 1

I have a heap of things for sale. We'll start with the 'big' stuff - saddles x2 and bridles x2, all in excellent condition.

Stubben Juventus. 17" 32cm, dark brown color,  have owned since new (bought 6 years ago) and it's always been well maintained and taken care of. Usual marks on the flaps from leathers, but otherwise in very good condition. Comes with cover. $1000 CAD$750 US obo, plus shipping at cost.
Black with white padding bridle. Never used, sold my dark bay mare and I don't like the white on white look for my two mares with blazes. Comes with plain flat reins. OK quality, was about $100 new. No's pretty old school. $50CAD/$40US plus shipping at cost.

Mondega Amara saddle. 17" medium tree. Looks and rides pretty much like the Pessoa A/O I had. In almost new condition, belonged to the same dark bay mare I sold. Comes with leathers and irons pictures, plus matching leather girth (new) and fleece cover. $800 =$600 US, steal of a deal, this is a nice saddle.

Stubben split crown bridle in dark brown, Comes with laced stubben reins. Horse sized, plain noseband. Very well taken care of. $150CAD =$110 US. I thought I sold this on ebay...but payment has not materialized.. If it does magically appear in the next 24 hours I'll remove this, otherwise it's up for grabs :)
Lots more pics available if anyone is seriously interested. Feel free to share, I seriously don't need all this stuff in my tiny house :)

*Edited to add USD conversions for the non Canadian folks!


Sunday 26 March 2017

Weekend Happenings

Saturday was our adventure a few km up the road to an open jump schooling day. I'm of mixed feelings about how it went, but am overall glad I decided to go.

It was a new place for both of us. There was a large outdoor arena full of xc jumps, and an even larger(!) indoor full of show jumps. The barn really went out of their way to make it a good schooling course. Lots of different lines to take, and almost every jump was full of spooky fill and decor.

The owner coaches as well and seems lovely. She and her students were so welcoming and nice I'm now seriously considering attending an adult only eventing camp with them if Bridget behaves herself in the next couple of months. It's mid summer in the interior of our province at the Chase Creek event site, so a gorgeous place. Our barn is mostly kids and teens, and while I love them, a weekend riding and learning with other adults sounds tempting,

Anyway, on to my ride recap. Essentially, we warmed up like crap. Bridget did her standard cannot-go-forward-in-new-place routine, and her tantrum may or may not have scared the innocent bystanders. On the plus side my timing and technique for sitting rather large bucks while still applying my stick is getting really good!

Typical. Thought it was a cute pic, but reposting in a more appropriate context because she's actually got her tongue sticking out.

And...the jumping. Since B was being such a pony, we were encouraged to start over cross rails. And we basically stalled and sucked back and generally Hulk smashed our way around. It's good she never actually stopped at anything, terrible that every.single.stride. was underpowered despite all my efforts to the contrary. I think there is photo and video evidence coming. I may need to burn it.

The jumps were raised. The general consensus was that actual jumps = Bridget taking things a little more seriously. Also, I need to ride her like the pony she is and make those feet move, or else! Alrighty then.

I was seriously frustrated, so when EC was shouting "Ride her like the rotten pony she's being! Get after her!" I did. I dug a little deeper and after a couple of messy fences, had a couple of decent rounds. I still needed to put out more energy than I should have, but the pony went and did her job. And you better believe I made her gallop between fences :)  So, we quit there. Pony had used up most of her energy on evil, and I needed to grab that good note to end on while I could.

So, that's the story of how we showed up and only jumped a 2' course, yet still considered it a win.
Actual pic on the day. Can you see her excitement, even as horses gallop around her? ;)

On the plus side, the other horses found things at this barn very spooky, but B just napped quietly in the sun beside me while I sat and watched the rest of the riders deal with spooky new place drama and the kids played around her. So there's that. It's unlikely I'll die in any bolting/panicking horse scenario with Bridget, plus she makes an excellent dog.

Sunday, I hopped on with the intent of really schooling the forward. The weather was awful, really wet and very windy - a good old Pacific coast March storm. I opted for the arena.  As is often the case lately, as soon as I got in the arena, person who shall remain unnamed decided she needed to lunge her horse in the covered end of the ring (its only half covered and that's the end without jumps in the way). I think her horse is a bit of a handful and she's cautious so likes to work him when someone else is there...understandable, but its a time and space consuming process and, really seriously, must she wait exactly until I tack up every time? Such is life at a boarding barn. It's not overly interesting being stuck on a slightly bigger circle than the longing horse, nor can I make myself believe its overly safe. Being out in the elememts felt like the better option, and since we were going to get wet anyway, I switched it up and took B for another fitness hack. She shocked me by being super forward and giving me zero reasons to pick any fights with her. We had a fantastic gallop on the trail, which set the world completely to rights again, soaking wet or not.

Perhaps this is where we're going wrong.

I wish I understood why B's work ethic doesn't accompany us to new places. Maybe in the past I was easier on her off site because she was young and green, so she thinks the rules dont apply. Maybe because no one wants to be THAT person in the warmup. Maybe she needs to slow it down to take everything in? Maybe the trailer makes her sleepy. No clue, but its definitely a thing we need to stop, before it drives me completely crazy.

Eventing camp next weekend was cancelled due to our awful weather this winter, So, we've just signed up for the MREC 2 phase instead, in hopes of giving ourselves a fun and positive schooling show prior to the season.  I'll either do Starter (2'3") or Pre Entry (2'6") depending on pony behaviour/rider anxiety/EC's level of determination. After our less than stellar jump schools of late, the goal obviously isn't any impressive move ups, it's getting the pony forward and consistent again and for me to have some fun out there.
Reposting fave pic from last spring for inspiration, because B was so full of it here I actually had to take her for a canter to burn off a little steam so we could hack safely to our pace clinic!


Friday 24 March 2017

True Story

I arrived at the barn early before work, my turn doing the morning feeding. I was surprised to see the barn lights already on and the door open - it's really rare anyone gets there before me. Still, it's spring break for the teens and a couple of them have pretty incredible work ethics - it's not out of the realm of possibility they'd be getting an early start on their rides.

More my level of dedication

I walked in, dropped my bag in the tack room, and walked over to the feed room. I reached around the corner to turn the light on and

Right in my face! He was sitting on the shelf by the light switch snarling as I calmly backed up ran away. After a couple of seconds, he bolted out the main barn door, carrying a bag of...something. Horse treats? I don't know, I wasn't following him to find out. Pheww, that was scary! Back over to the feed room I wandered, reached around the corner and

Holy sh!t. There were two of them.

PSA folks, remember to turn of the lights and shut the barn doors if you're the last rider in the barn. (That is, if you want to keep your barn staff, or at least save them from rabies/potential face biting raccoons :)


Thursday 23 March 2017

Pony Fitness Week 1

To me, Fridays have always seemed like the start of the week for all things horsey, so I'm starting our fitness diary as of last Friday. If you'll recall, vet opinion number 1 was that B needs to lose weight and be fitter as a first step. The fitness aspect actually caught me off guard a bit - pony is used 6 days a week for at least one jumping and one dressage lesson, plus vaulting classes plus trail rides, 1 hillwork/fitness day, plus additional jump schooling and flatwork. That would have been plenty for any previous horse I've owned (heck, Ginger is very fit on the same schedule right now), but sadly, it's not enough for the Bridgets of the world and we need to step up our game.

I'm going to start keeping better track of our rides and see if we can mark some progress. I do have access to a heart rate monitor and will see if I can start borrowing that to help. I like the idea of using intervals, however we essentially live in the mountains and it's simply not possible to find a space big/flat enough to allow you to trot for 10 min and canter for 5 without footing or elevation becoming serious issues. Our arena is too busy most days as well, so I've sort of given up on keeping to a strict plan that way.

Friday: Jump school. 15min W/T/C warmup, 20 min jumping 2'3 -2'6". Started with single fences, finished with a course of 6 jumps twice (with a short break in between). B was starting to tire and was pretty sweaty.

Saturday: Trail ride. 15 min W/T/C warmup in the arena, 90 min trail ride on some challenging terrain, probably the steepest hills you could safely navigate around here.. Mostly walk, one short canter uphill (about 200m). B can walk all day, but that short canter and some of the steeper inclines really had her out of breath.

Sunday: Flatwork in the arena. She felt tired and a bit stiff, but warmed up out of it. W/T/C 30min. Finished with a ride up the "big hill" (1.3km/0.8mile to the top from the barn, elevation change of 132m/433ft, average slope = 10%, although the final half is the steep part averaging closer to 14%). Walked and trotted until she was puffing, then walked on the contact back down, making her use her bum.  Hard work for ponies.

Monday: Day off

Tuesday: Dressage lesson. 30min walk warmup followed 45min of trot and canter, with a short walk break halfway through. Lots of transitions and getting pony to sit on her hind end. Very sweaty by the end, but never out of breath.

Wednesday: Accompanied one of the eventers out to do gallop sets. We use a dirt road with undulating hills, about 800m/half mile long for the gallop part. It's the flattest suitable road here, but still to steep to use both ways at a canter or gallop, so mostly the girls canter or gallop up and walk/trot down. B did one and felt like she might die, although recovered quickly. So total outing = about 5km, mostly walk/trot on varied terrain, with about 1km of that being canter or gallop (B did a bit of gallop and tried to keep up, but mostly needed to canter it).

Thursday: Repeat of Sunday. Light flat school in the arena and a 3 km loop walking up and down the big hill.

This weekend, we start with a jump school Friday night, have a clear rounds day on the agenda Saturday, plus a trail outing on Sunday. Next week we're back to regularly scheduled lessons Monday and Wednesday, plus vaulting on Tuesday as well.


Tuesday 21 March 2017

Short Lesson Recap

Me: " So I had this great idea."
EC: ?
Me: "I'm going to buy a llama."
EC: "And?"
Me: "I'm going to ride my llama. And you're going to be all "Look at you, riding that llama exactly the way a llama should be ridden." "

Changing the goalposts. Working with your strengths. Whatever we want to call it, I think I'm on to something here.

(I actually had a great lesson. We're consistently getting some "jump" in the canter these days which is exciting to feel after a winter of struggle)


Monday 20 March 2017

A Good Weekend

It finally feels like spring might make an appearance here. This has been the craziest winter I can remember - usually it's a big event if we get snow here at sea level once. This winter we had below freezing temps and snow for a good part of the winter, plus some crazy windstorms earlier in the season.

Since the arena was for once both dry and unfrozen, we had a barn jump school Friday night. In exchange for me hacking her mare Q, best barn mate C has been riding Bridget once a week or so and usually turning it into a jump school. I could tell she's been working hard because I had a great ride on Bridget - forward and fun, with zero hesitation or sucking back. Confidence inspiring for sure! We kept the jumps small, the session short and positive. I think we might turn this into a weekly thing - it's nice to have fun with it and cheer each other on.
Basically, a semi circle of jumps on a 5 stride line to or from a vertical, plus a 1 stride set of verticals. Make up your own course! The blue thing is my attempt at drawing a barrel - it's what we used for the poles to rest on for the narrow end of our 'corner'.

Saturday, it was partly sunny, but with a super cold wind. We went on about an hour trail ride, and had a great time. The creeks are super deep right now, so Bridget was up to her belly in places, but she's brave about stuff like that.  The only weird moment was going up a super steep hill out of one of the creek ravines. We had a newer rider with us, so opted to walk up it...but it turns out it's hard to get enough traction at a walk. Poor Bridget slid back down a bit before she regained her footing. We finished the loop with a nice canter in the sunshine - nothing like a nice trail ride to cheer everyone up!

Sunday, I mixed it up and did a bit of a flat school and then went out for a fitness ride. B was not overly in the mood yesterday so there was quite a bit of attitude about going forward AND being round. So, we got a bit of good work and then headed out on the road. Instead of letting her move out on a loose rein as I normally would, I had her march up the first part of the road in a rounder frame - something she was pretty upset about - here T goes again changing the rules!  Every time she sucked back, she got a reminder to move up, if she ignored/pinned her ears/sucked back further she got to move up to trot, which obviously she wasn't a fan of. It wasn't part of her game plan and turned our fitness ride into a bit more of a challenge - I was planning to let her walk most of the way up the big hill but was dissatisfied to how behind the leg she still was and made her trot quite a bit of it. Poor pony was sweaty and puffing by the time we got to the top. Being Bridget, I suspect the next time she'll be a lot more honest about things - much easier to quietly walk along on the contact than flail about and have to go forward even more. Since I wasn't in the mood to pick more fights on such a nice day, we walked home on a loose rein, much to B's relief. She's become a teeny bit barn sour, which is a bit funny - normally she could care less, now she walks slightly faster on the way home -you know, like a normal horse would. Crazy pony, getting all hyperactive on me ;)


Friday 17 March 2017

Tough Love

 I knew I was in for it even as I warmed up - EC had clearly reached her limits with the lesson group ahead of me and there was a lot of telling it like it is going on. When this happens, I'm always worried about the prospect of hearing something I don't want to hear, but I also look forward to tackling the big problems - this seems to be the lessons where the big breakthroughs occur if they're going to.

Because I am an ammy adult with no real ambition and would likely cry if someone went George Morris on me, she scaled back appropriately when we started.  Whew.

We started in trot and B felt like there was zero gas in the tank. Even a tap with the stick netted me about half a stride of a slightly more forward trot.

So, EC picked up the lunge whip, walked to the center of our circle, and followed up my leg with a growl and a snap of the whip. And B just about lost it trying to be best, most forward pony ever. From then on, she just needed to cluck from the sidelines and B was like "HELLO!".

So, rather than a tired pony problem,  it seems we have a rider dedication/ pony respect problem. Bridget has zero issue going to work for EC! Ouch, what little pride I have is hurt.

We did some really nice canter work and some great trot work. Tons of transitions, tons of getting pony using her hind leg more quickly, tons of rider needing to ride better work. We were both huffing and puffing by the end - we had a super workout!
Failed barn door vista for Emma. We work until after dark right now.

My homework:

-Hands stay even and still. Imagine they are side reins and don't move, no matter what. Pony needs to move up into the contact and take me along, and she's very,very, particular about the contact right now, even a tiny wiggle is enough to get her to suck back. For now I need to be contrary to my nature and not be soft or giving, she needs to learn to take a better, more consistent feel and she can't do that if I am always giving or taking.

-Outside shoulder stays back, helping outside rein stay strong and steady. Outside shoulder is my nemesis.

-Fitness for all. I want to be stronger. B needs to be fitter. As per first vet, (the original vet who saw her last year) there's currently nothing wrong with B other than being too fat! Also, of note, several of the other horses in the barn have started coughing a bit, so either we have had a mild virus circulating or the new batch of (gorgeous looking/smelling) hay is a bit dusty.  Things to consider, anyway. So, part of our current prescription is lots of fitness work. Sad in a way, because we already do focus so much on pony fitness, but challenge accepted, I added extra trot and canter into our fitness ride tonight, and will start timing the intervals more diligently. I might also consider adding a second ride per day to her schedule as life permits.

-Pony weight loss. As mentioned, B is living in a grazing muzzle during the day and is pretty sad about it. I'm still on the fence about the thyroxine. She's actually not currently a terrible weight *for her* but I concede she is the typical Thelwell pony and she could stand to lose a few if we want to pretend she's a sport pony:)

-Don't listen when B tells me she is tired/dying. She's a pony, and as such cannot be trusted when exercise is involved.

Personal goal:

Start planning and laying out budgets for shows and clinics this year.

I'm listening to advice and we're going to (literally) work our butts off to try to get to the eventing camp the third week of April, and follow that with an event 2 weeks later if all goes well. The clinic will tell us whether or not we're on the right track fitness and health wise, so after much consideration I've decided to drop the second opinion/specialist vet appointment the week before and reschedule it for after (should we see issues).

Wednesday 15 March 2017

Random Updates

We're still here. I took a much needed time out and went home for a few days to relax with G and do a little property hunting. We're still half-heartedly eyeing up farm properties, but more and more I find myself thinking the right one simply doesn't exist in our area. (semi level, non swampy land, 10+ acres, agricultural zoning and ability to run a related business - hard to find in our wet and mountainous area). I'm finding myself wishing instead to have a nice cottage on the lake or beach and to just board the horses out. It feels a bit weird after all those years of having the horses at home and always wishing for a larger farm. I still love the day to day on the farm, but my current level of boarding freedom, especially being able to leave for a few days with no issues is something I'm getting very used to! Maybe this is my midlife crisis - instead of wondering about changing long terms views on jobs or marriages, I'm pondering horse farm related things. Typical!

From A bit of an adventure as it's a short boat/water taxi ride from 'civilization' (in quotes because I'm not sure our neck of the woods is properly considered civilized on even it's best day), but I'd love to wake up to this. And, who am I kidding, first order of business would be to build a small area for Bridget so she could visit and  I could ride on this beach.

As far as actual real horse plans, we still have none. B had her first vet appointment and sadly was told she needs to lose weight as of yesterday. So the grazing muzzle has been put on. In typical pony fashion, she figured out how to get it off in about 10 minutes, so now it's been adjusted and it takes her a while longer to scrape it off enough to eat. Not sure this is a viable long term plan, a grazing muzzle AND hay net? Way too easy for her to 'accidentally' catch the muzzle in the netting and get it off.. Also, I'm not nearly heartless enough because this morning while I was feeding B was all tapping me on the shoulder with it like "Hey, check this out, I have this thing stuck on my face and I can't eat! Surely this is a mistake, please take it off, don't you love me?" Science would say I'm imagining that conversation, my emotions say otherwise :)

We also recently got a prescription for thyroxine, which after some google searching has me too scared to use on her. So we'll await our second opinion. I am still, however, tempted to use it on myself (joking, sort of...I'm fantasizing about a 'miraculous' weight loss and energy boost to aid in my enjoyment of the beach time dreamt about above)

Dressage wise, B is cruising along and in a really good place. Trainer rides and a new saddle for the win! I'm contemplating calling this the year of all things dressage showing and not getting overly invested in trying to get us prepared to event. We'll see...the pony is doing great in our jump lessons too, I'm just worried about the vet stuff and finding a new jump saddle in a reasonable time frame. Also, for a number of reasons, an eventing season here is way m more expensive than a dressage one, so that adds to my is tight given our saddle purchasing and vet visits. Too bad dressage is not as fun as eventing!

The jump saddle is STILL pending. I have a line on another one to try (thank you LiveLaughRide!), but best case it won't be here for a couple of weeks. We're borrowing a saddle for now that sort of fits, and I'm tempted to ask if I can borrow it for the upcoming XC clinic. That's a big ask, though, so in typical T fashion I'll worry about it a little more first, I think :)

Thursday 9 March 2017

Accentuate The Postive

I don't know what gives the last few months, but I've been on a bit of a low emotionally, and am struggling to be the happy, positive self I strive to be,

No doubt, some of this is just life. It's challenging at the moment, and we are past due for some good things to happen. I'm worried about my friends who are going through some tough times. My insomnia has made a return visit. Life is just harder without sleep. And let's not forget the weather. We've had an exceptionally cold/dark/wet winter, even for the west coast. Some of my worries are over Bridget's heath and tack and the associated finances. Her cough is better, but still noticeable. The vet has postponed our appt again. I'm reluctant to purchase a jump saddle until I know the diagnosis, cost of the vet bill and future maintenance, if any.. Selfishly, I have a lot of sadness over missing sign up deadlines for events I've been planning and looking forward to since last year.

Some of what's hurting me is how I currently choose to handle and approach things. Luckily, my approach to life is something I am in control of and can change! First step, admit things are tough and sucky and most of it is beyond my control. Done. Second step, I think it's time to make note of and focus on all the positive things happening and progress made this winter in pony land!

1. Pony kisses

2. We finally have a saddle that fits us both decently. This was an epic win, give our collective conformation :)

3. Bridget is going fabulously in said saddle. Like the Bridget of old, and putting in some really great work.
4. Unlimited trails to explore

5. My own riding has made some big breakthroughs,  Our little tackless interlude really helped me re-find my center of balance and refine my aids. The lessons on Audrey confirmed that. and gave me some new tools and a feel for where I want Bridget to be in a month or two.

6. On a related note, it's seriously difficult to nag with your leg riding bareback on a round pony. Also, no tack to pinch makes for a happy, free moving pony. So, B is now much sharper off my leg and our forward issue hasn't been a thing for weeks.
7. Ginger. We like Ginger.

8. We have all the dressage tack, we have a big set of dressage goals and an entire series of dressage shows we can still attend if eventing/jumping turns out to not be our thing this year.

9. Our long term plan was always dressage anyway. Eventing is for fun and at the levels we jump, we don't need to follow a program, per se. It will wait for us to pick back up whenever we're ready to get back out there.
10. B's life satisfaction is easily achieved

11. A lighter competition and clinic schedule means $ saved. $ saved means more money for fun things in the future, or the jump saddle of my dreams. More importantly, it means less stress over potential upcoming big vet bills.

Tuesday 7 March 2017

Testing, Testing

Thanks to everyone for the kind thoughts on yesterday's post. I will be sure to pass them along.

Yesterday brought us an opportunity to test out how Bridget is feeling after some time off, and a whole new set of tack.

I was told my lesson was still on the schedule. I won't lie, I felt awkward and selfish about it, because my riding problems are so not important in the grand scheme of things.

However, it's not all about me, so I decided to not overthink it and just take things at face value. If the lady wants to teach, I'll show up for my lesson and give her all the teaching opportunities she can handle ;)

And so we had a really great ride. Maybe even the best ever. Bridget likes her new saddle, I was able to use what I had learned on Audrey, and we had some fantastic canter work. As always, there is much fine tuning necessary...the saddle isn't sitting quite level and makes my life a bit difficult. (Also, my habit of not letting my legs hang makes my life difficult ;). But still, B offered up some really nice work where she was straight in her neck and stepping under in her body, pushing right up into the contact. Like cantering up a hill, only in the ring. A tricky thing indeed for my wiggly, behind the leg pony.

EC suggested she ride B 1x a week temporarily to really confirm our new expectations for the canter work and transitions. The idea is there, but quite frankly B really makes you work for it, and while I luckily have the timing and feel to make it happen, as the ride progresses I wouldn't say I have the fitness, patience, or discipline to insist on perfectly correct every time and things can get progressively sloppy. I feel conflicted about adding to EC'S workload. I feel conflicted about not being the only regular rider of the pony. But, I know this a good thing that will be a positive for everyone.


Monday 6 March 2017

Sad Things

It's not my story to tell, but there's no getting around the fact our little barn family has changed in a big way.

EC lost her husband quite unexpectedly last week. Our barn family is all heartbroken, not just over the loss of such a big part of the barn, but for the huge hole he leaves in the lives of EC and their son.  He was one of those guys that was in the background, but always around, usually working away cheerfully. Sometimes with a kind word for you, more often a super witty observation to which the only response could be laughter. Give your loved ones a hug, and always let you appreciation for good people and good deeds be never know when the conversation it feels like you just had might be the last.

With that in mind, I'm further embracing a 'whatever will be, will be' attitude for the 2017 season. We love EC and will let her tell us what she wants to do and when. 

Sunday 5 March 2017

New Things

Although I spent maybe just a little too much money this weekend, I'd like to think it was all necessary things and I was wise with my $. The new dressage saddle seems like it's going to work for Bridget. I don't love it for myself, but I think I can get used to it. Since we're keeping it, and I haven't had a dressage saddle in a very long time, I needed to shop for all the dressage queen fittings one would expect to be necessary in our pursuit of 20×60 perfection.
Spoiler alert: we're happy with our purchases. Also, either Bridget has grown or I have shrunk. A 14.1hh pony should not look so much taller than me.

Such shopping necessitated a trip across Howe Sound to Vancouver, continuing on to Langley, horsey capital of the Lower Mainland.  There are 5 tack stores I'm aware of that are all within 10 minutes of each other. We went to 4 before I just couldn't handle spending any more money. Number 5 will have to wait for another day.

First stop was The Tack Addict, which is a consignment store that carries pretty much only quality, high end stuff. Highly recommend if you're in the area, the owner was super helpful and friendly and the store was really nice. I picked up a Schockemohle piaffe girth for Bridget's new saddle. It was still new and the original tag showed $179. We paid $70 and I was very happy. It's a simple, but really nice girth and a big step above what I was expecting to find in my budget.  For the lovely Q mare and owner, we found an almost new blanket liner for $20. Bonus points for a fun story: it used to belong to one of the Cavalia horses. I guess they trade in for brand new things the moment they look even slightly worn...gotta look all perfect for the VIP tours :)

New girth looks like so

Right next door, there is an Equestrian Factory Outlet. Again, a lot of high end stuff at a discount. Sadly, as much as I covet $800 show jackets and $400 breeches, even at half off that's still beyond my comfort zone. So, I walked away sad and empty handed.

Next stop, Greenhawk, which pretty much every Canadian horse person is familiar with. Purchases were slightly boring: new midgrade dressage leathers, new composite stirrups, a grazing muzzle for B, some Belvoir leather conditioner, and a dressage pad. Responsible me would have bought black or white so it could work for schooling and showing, but there was a pretty greenish blue color that spoke to me, so now my one and only dressage pad is not show appropriate.  Too bad, I still think the blue is nicer.

Finally, Bates Tack Shop, home to all things Asmar and BR. So many pretty things, and still a ton of 50% off sale items left from their fall and winter stock. Here, I found the best surprise of all: a dressage bridle for a cob, with a plain noseband and no bling. We ended up with a Bobby's double bridle that was missing the bradoon hanger.  So, obviously it had to be marked down to half price :), and makes a perfect snaffle bridle for B. We're going simple and old school bridle wise, which is actually what I wanted. I'm undecided on the wide patent nosebands on small cobby faces, ditto the blingy swoopy browbands - Im not sure if theyre Bridgets style . I'll likely go for some bling eventually, but I'm going to have to think on it. I resisted the call of all the gorgeous clothing and finished the shopping there while I still hadn't strayed from my list of neccessities.
Like so. Old school buckles and all. I love it on B.

Today, we tried on all the things with much success. Everything works, except the dressage leathers, which are about an inch too long for a shorty like me. I bought 58" ones, but probably should have looked for jump leathers in black instead. Oh well, the hole punch is my friend!
No clue what I'm doing besides being super sore and slouchy, but check out the adorable pony and pretty saddle pad :)

Lesson night tomorrow!  I finally got back in the tack today. It hurt, but it was time.


Thursday 2 March 2017

Still Here

Nothing new to report in my own riding! I haven't ridden since the weekend, but will likely head out for a short hack later.

Bridget got a trainer ride yesterday and was apparently a superstar. I was busy at work, so couldn't watch, but EC reported B was 'like her old self again' and showed up and tried very hard to be a good pony. So that's wonderful, the time off and recent light work schedule is helping! She's still making some noise/breathing quite heavily in the canter though. It's only when she's really working, but the problem is, she should be fit enough that some moderate canter shouldn't be so hard! The vet will be here next weekend, and we're sill booked with the specialist/sports vet ASAP (which means April around here). Fingers crossed.

We have some upcoming events rapidly approaching: A clear rounds day mid March, and two eventing weekend camps in the beginning of April. Our original plan was to follow those with an event the first weekend in May, but obviously I'm holding off paying any entry fees quite yet. #1, we still don't know exactly what's up with B, and jumping anything much longer than a short course is currently hard for her without breaks #2 I don't officially own a jump saddle that currently fits the little beast.
B powering up the hills at last year's spring clinic

We'll just be on the wait and see train, I guess. Until then, there is always dressage and the trails to keep us busy! While I wanted to event, there is an entire season of dressage shows we could attend so that's an alternate plan too if I decide I can;t live without a show season and we don't get a full handle on the bit of exercise intolerance we're still seeing.