Sunday 29 April 2018

Mixed Weekend

Saturday, I headed out for drill team, and pretty much immediately failed at the whole having fun and relaxing thing. As I was walking in, someone told me Bridget looks too thin, ("she is a pony and is supposed to be round, not thin") which I felt defensive and upset about, and that, combined with a second, more passive aggressive comment, kind of had me stewing a little.

Pics from today. I like her weight right now? My only critique would be she's lost some topline muscling due to her reduced workload. Also, I wish she'd finish shedding. Polite feedback is of course welcome, tho. 
So, grumpy me left after practice, and opted out of the games day.

Letting the starving pony eat.
I went back to the barn and did my weekend chores, then remembered that I'm a grown up and grown ups don't let mean girls ruin their fun. So, I salvaged the morning by leading Sophie down to walk around and hang out in the warm up while the arena was busy.  She was a little overwhelmed at first (so much to look at! So many horses to say hello to!) but she tries so hard to be good that it's pretty easy to find positives to focus on. She's very tuned in and responsive, so when I tell her she's being good (or bad!) she listens and acts accordingly. It only took a few minutes of me giving her a little job each time she got distracted before she settled right in to the atmosphere with a softer mindset and stood quietly on a loose lead beside me while I chatted with friends.

Always watching :)

 I' m just loving her good mind, it's been a very long time since I've had a horse that's so people oriented and eager to please. She's quite quick thinking and reactive too, so it will be interesting to see how that energy combined with her kind nature translates under saddle. Fingers crossed for sharp, but sensible.

B models our new saddle today.
Jeffries elite. This maybe isn't a trendy saddle, but the quality is amazing, and the leather/craftsmanship is IMO a bit nicer than the equivalent Custom Wolfgang Solo  and County Connection I've been borrowing, so I feel like it's a good find.

Sunday, I took Bridget for a spin in our new-to-us saddle. I think it's a bit wide on her, but Bridget thinks it's great, apparently. She started out her usual self, all tense and stuck, then I got her to stretch in walk and then she pretty much only wanted to stretch in all 3 gaits! She just got softer and softer and more forward the whole ride. I'll take that as a good sign! I didn't ask for much beyond getting her stretching and forward on a longer rein. Quit while we're ahead, plus then I have 3 days away at work to think about a good ride and to feel hopeful we can build on it.

IDK if reading saddle pads is less science and more equivalent to reading tea leaves, but it does at least look to be sitting evenly and confirm my grooming skills were sub par today. Blog readers, as always welcome to chime in if you notice anything, I'm a month away from being able to meet up with a saddle fitter.

Friday 27 April 2018

Friday Musings

Spring finally came just last weekend, then summer arrived 3 days later. It's been around 25 degrees celsius the past 3 days, which is pretty much summer temperatures for us! Neither Bridget nor Sophie are completely shed out of their winter coats, and B looked a bit miserable just standing around,  so I opted to just turn them out in their summer fields last night rather than attempt any work.

I'm still feeling a bit unmotivated myself, although watching the dressage at RolexNotRolex via livestream has me really missing dressage! Still, dressage on an upset B is a lot different than dressage in it's best form and so I remain over here pondering next steps :)
"Please come here and brush me. I'm too furry!"

We're going to head out for a short ride trail ride tonight and G has promised to lead Sophie along with, so that will be fun.

Tomorrow I think I'm going to go to drill team and the gymkhana fun day after in an attempt to keep things interesting for Bridget and to keep her active. I do need to keep her somewhat fit, as I have no desire to go back to the days of lazy "tired" Bridget. I'm just over here saving the world from another ponyapocolypse one ride at a time :)

As every rider knows, when in doubt, switch up your bit...(lol) so I just ordered a french link baucher to try on her. You'll recall I borrowed a similar bit a year or so ago and found her a bit heavy and pulling in it, but right now, a desire to lean and pull a bit forward might not be such a bad thing? IDK, worth a try :)  She's always been tough, but I'm finding it hard to get motivated to work through the same basic problem yet again (forward without getting angry/braced about it)...particularly when I've always had horses that were pretty honest and simple about such things, so it's hard sometimes not to feel like the grass is greener elsewhere.
"I have not eaten dinner yet, I swear!"

I'm going to schedule them both for a vet day soon-ish. I'm back to the land of paying a fortune for the travelling vet to visit us once a month, so I thought it might be wise to wait to get B checked over at the same time I get Sophie's wolf teeth out (so she can start wearing a bridle and long reining...exciting!)

"Scratch a little to the left, thanks"

For the first time ever, I'm tempted to lease B to a kid that just wants a safe all around lower level pony club pony. She'd be perfect for that..and I think happier. She's super with the kids because they don't ask much of her and she's got a pretty solid understanding of her job. Option two is to keep on keeping on doing all the fun things with her and not really focusing too much on anything in the arena for a bit...but I try to be honest on here, and I have to say I'm bored. Bored with a diet of mostly trails, bored to be recapping the same things again and again, and frustrated to not be advancing.

Anyway, this might not have ended up sounding like a "Yay! Happy Friday!" kind of post, like the title might imply. A bit misleading, because I'm actually feeling pretty happy and positive about many opportunities in the future, I do have lots of choices I can make, I have a great resource in my coach EC as far as achieving my long term riding goals,  and also I have the lovely Sophie to have fun with in a couple of years. Not to mention, B is a fantastic pony herself and no matter what decisions I make, she doesn't need to be sold and I don't need to stop riding her completely - she's always got a home here or at EC's.


Sunday 22 April 2018

Spring Came

This week in the life was marked by the arrival of spring (finally!), a new to us dressage saddle to try, a massive tack clean up, a good pony, and a not so good pony. Oh, and some self improvement.

Spring! Some tulips even escaped our resident deer! :)

There  was an eBay saga last week where I found what I thought was the perfect saddle, but eBay would not let the seller mark it as sold nor could they give me a receipt for the payment! So weird. After much time chatting to the help desk, it was decided it was a computer glitch and they needed to refund my money and relist the saddle. At which point someone else "Bought it now". Arghhh.

I panicked and found a different saddle that was a bit more of a shot in the dark and had that shipped out for  trial. It's a wide tree Jeffries in lovely shape. I don't overly like it for me, and it's actually a bit too wide for B, but the price was right, and it's a better fit for both of us than the County it's replacing. I'm going to keep it and use shims so that I at least have a saddle to ride in while we look for the unicorn saddle we both like. I hate saddle shopping! B's topline has kind of suffered for my lack of work the past month, so there's at least hope the new saddle will fit as she bulks back up.

I've been having awful rides on Ms Bridget. She's so braced and argumentative I think I may get the vet involved just to be sure she'. Just bring a grump. The latest development was to be REALLY barn sour...sucking back, then rearing and bucking when pushed to leave the property. So incredibly rude! We fixed it, obviously, but I'm like "really?! are we really discussing this again? Is this going to be an annual thing forever?"

Unimpressed mare

I'm a little at my wits end with her rudeness of yesterday she went for a visit to the round pen to reestablish some manners. The great thing about the Bridgets of the world is they're super awful and badass for about 10 minutes cantering, max, then it's just too exhausting and manners miraculously reinstall to their brains.

Sovie/Sophie had an easy week, although there was a little drama. Her brain also uninstalled temporarily this week. I took Bridget away, and I guess she LOVES her, even though Bridget is awful to her in return. Luckily she's a smart cookie and just as I was vowing to sell her (OMG screaming drives me nuts, but hers is the worst I've heard - so high pitched and shrill!) her brain returned (as did peace to the entire neighbourhood.)
Some adorable mini floof...remember our buddy Lily? She and Sophie sound pretty much the same, Sophie is just 10x louder, lol

Besides the one baby horse moment, she's been her normal curious and sweet self. She's out in her summer field now that spring is here, but she still comes running to say hi, and "helps" me groom her by showing me all the itchy places.

On the personal improvement side, I bought this audiobook and am loving it so far. I listen to it on my lunch time walk/runs:

And, after a crazy allergic reaction earlier in the week, my diet for the next 3 weeks gets to be even more restricted than I had originally planned. Not quite how I wanted to lose weight...but...winning?!

Finally, I did a major spring tack clean up. This is just part of it, I have so much to sell, lol.

Monday 16 April 2018


Warning, this post kind of got out of hand length wise, so maybe save it for when you're *really* bored.

Mentally I've been feeling a lot of blahs.  Feeling like I want to rethink and redefine some things in life is a normal part of the process of being human, but let's face it, I like to have a plan to follow. I don't cope well with uncertainty and feeling like I am not moving forward.

As mentioned previously, I spent quite a bit of time thinking while I was out hiking on the trails the past couple of weeks, with and without a baby pony in tow. Bridget got out for a couple of trail rides too last week, but I skipped out of drill team practice and all other structured ride time and actually didn't do any riding at all last week.

Bridget doesn't mind having a quiet schedule and contemplating the grass growing. :)

So, without further adieu, here are my 2018 goals, redefined.

1. Look after myself.

And...actually, that's it.

For 3 years now, my life has been super hectic and busy. I've loved almost every minute of it. I've advanced both career and riding wise, met some serious long term goals and did some things I never thought I'd be able to do. On paper I've got a pretty good life. But, I've sacrificed so much time to work and horses that nothing has been left over. I've been missing out on time with friends, family, and my husband G. Not to mention enough time to look after myself properly.

I wouldn't change the decisions of the me of 3 years ago. I had wanted my current job forever, and knew there would be sacrifices. I had wanted to ride at a higher level forever, and happily the super wonderful EC has a farm 10 minutes from my work. So, the opportunity was there for the first time to take regular lessons and put as much of myself as I could into this horse thing. I would have regretted not taking advantage of that the best I could.

Moving forward, I was recently given the opportunity to work part time at my job on the South Coast, meaning I can be home 4 days a week. I thought hard on what that meant riding goal wise and decided to move Bridget to my home town and keep on keeping on the best I could independently. That meant mucking out and riding in the rain and dark all winter long, many 16 hour days, and of course trying to organize trailering, ferry schedules, clinics and lessons as well.

It was a bit of a struggle to make it all work, but there were good days in with the tough ones. However, a few weeks ago, it just stopped being fun at all. Consistently, my rides were hard and felt like work and I always had way too many chores at the barn to fit in the time I had. It was difficult to get out of bed in the mornings because I was so tired, and even my days at my real job started to feel overwhelming.

But, not to worry. As always, life is full of choices, and we have options.

Our lawn has dandelions! Yay spring :) Was going to caption about stopping to smell the flowers, but this particular one is full of wasps. Typical!:)

I pondered moving Bridget back to EC's where I have a bigger support system, but my schedule makes riding there more than a couple of times a week difficult. I pondered moving the horses home, where it's cheap and I can look after them how I like. I pondered leaving them where they are self boarded and paying someone to do some of the chores for me.

Of course, what I really needed to do was sit down and discuss things with G. "What exactly are you unhappy with?" was his question. My answers:

- I feel like I have no time.

- I am unhappy with my weight and fitness and want to be able to dedicate time to bettering that.

- I feel like I am spending too much time and money on horses (for not enough result/reward)

- I am sad because I feel like I can't count on Bridget to advance further (riding/competing goals wise) with me. Yes, we can always be better, and we've made great strides already, but I'm feeling more and more like I've reached her limit mentally, and physically she's very difficult to motivate/keep fit as the work gets harder.

So, here goes nothing. In the theme of looking after myself first, here's what I'm going to do.

I'm going to ride when I feel like it - not with any concentrated effort to meet goals or keep Bridget fit. I'm going to kindly decline further drill team practices or any other ongoing, inflexible riding commitments. I'm tabling showing this year, and saving the funds for an equestrian related getaway adventure I've wanted to do forever. I'm going to do my best to treat myself kindly - it's not 'giving up' or 'quitting', there is always next year or maybe other horses.

B makes her own fun if needed.
As does Sovie.

With the extra time I will have from scaling my riding back to a few days a week, I'm going to prioritize cooking healthy meals and hitting the gym (or resting if that's what I need)

Ms Sovannah is going to get out for a lot of adventures, but she's only just turning two and she's teeny tiny. I likely won't be riding her (even a little) until well into her 3 year old year, maybe even 4. I'm not going to pressure myself to keep her on a regular schedule. For the next year, she simply needs to have semi polite ground manners, be decent to handle for basic things, and get out and see the world a couple of times a week. We can maybe tackle long lining later this year and I'll get her out on the trails doing that instead of leading. Worst case, though, her outing can simply be getting dragged down to the ring and standing tied while I ride Bridget.


Sunday 15 April 2018

A Non Update Update!

Hey, guess what I did with the horses this week?



So exciting!

B protesting her tiny turnout, and that her current neighbour is Sovie. The horses will all be happy when the ground finally dries out and they can go back out in the pastures. B more than most, she feels the need to try to challenge Sovie to pony dance offs, which is exhausting I'm sure.

A combination of truly horrendous weather, more work than I expected, things going a bit wrong, and other priorities meant just getting the chores done was where it was at for me. This is the first time I've had  even a few days off riding in ages, let alone an entire week!  Although truthfully if I had prioritized things differently I might have found time. I know I spend too much time grooming and being fussy about the cleanliness of their stalls and buckets :)

Standing tied patiently while I do chores and clean her stall and paddock. Good baby.
On the plus side, I checked a lot of the more mundane things off the list for a while...grain supplies are all topped up and measured out, hay is restacked and organized (I bought alfalfa to mix with Bridget's timothy for growing Sovie, requiring some Tetris skills to organize in my limited space at the barn!) Both horses had their spring deworming, and both donated additional winter fluff to my brushes and are looking a little more tidy.

I've caught a bit of the flu as of this morning, so no riding today, either. I've been rereading some of my favorite baby horse training books instead. Sovie is still quite young and teeny tiny, so we obviously won't be starting her under saddle this year or likely even next, but there's no reason she can't learn to ground drive later this summer.

As for Bridget's plans this year, I'm still on a time out to think. My personal goals remain the same, but my goals for Bridget are being reevaluated. I've made a few decisions and had a couple of good talks with the right people, but I'll recap those next time. I can confirm that we're planning on having fun by attending a local gymkhana day in a couple of weeks. Eek!

Tuesday 10 April 2018

Trail Walking

Bridget only got out 3 times last week, mostly because I just wasn't that into it and we both need a break. So, as promised, we skipped anything structured and just did a lot of slow trail miles this week. She's barefoot and our local trails can be quite rocky, so slow and steady is where it's at. I contemplated front shoes with the farrier last weekend, but with our narrow, windy, steep trails you really wouldn't want to go much faster that often anyway and her feet are pretty tough as is. 

Media today brought to you by Sovie.

Thanks for all the supportive comments regarding our recent struggles in training and my subsequent decision to take a time out and think on things. Bloggers are truly the best! I know it's the best thing for B and our partnership to take this time out, but of course I'm always wanting to be better and learn more. If it works for EC, we might reinstate my Monday night lessons on her lovely mare Audrey, just to curb my feelings of not meeting my riding goals.

Sovie was a very good girl this past week too. As mentioned, she's feeling a bit more confident and so she's getting comfortable testing the waters and providing us with little bits of baby drama. I think I've mentioned my coach's mare Audrey more than once here (I LOVE her, and take lessons on her when I can - but her nickname is 'Squirrel' because..yeah, she's wonderful and brave, but the attention span is lacking and the thinking/reacting happens very quickly). EC liked Sovie upon meeting her, because "she's a mini Audrey!". The more I see of her, yes, yes she really is. Good thing I love Audrey, because I think I'm going to have my hands full with this one!

Sovie and I walked the trails too, but obviously I did not ride. (No squished baby ponies please!) She was super brave and happy to be out. She already marches up and down very steep hills like NBD, and marches into the lake and through puddles without issue. She's pretty good with traffic. She was very unsure of all of that a couple of weeks ago, so I think she's going to be a pretty smart cookie. Motorbikes, dogs, and things appearing behind us are something to work on, but all in all she's a fantastic baby. She tries very hard, she loves her people, and really wants to get along and do the right thing.

In other news bits, I stopped in at EC's last night and said hi to Ginger. She looks fabulous and just got back from an eventing clinic where she was apparently a superstar. She's had a younger girl half leasing her for a few months now and they're super cute together and obviously like each other a lot! Her usual lease teen still has a half lease on her too, so lucky Ginger has two best friends that she approves of. That makes me so happy.

I also have a lead on a potential dressage saddle for B. Fingers crossed it works...I'm feeling pretty burnt out on the whole finding appropriate tack for Bridget thing and it would be nice if the new one works...otherwise I will be up to 4 saddles to sell and I'm just not feeling being a virtual tack store owner :)


Sunday 8 April 2018

Not A Unicorn

Aww, turns out Sovie isn't a perfect unicorn after all! :) We've had some pretty yucky weather so she's been in at night and only out in a small round pen during the day, so she' got a bit of excess energy right now! The barn owner told me she was a bit naughty to handle this past week, and I got to experience a little drama too. She's been out for a couple more walks and had her feet trimmed too - all very exciting for her I'm sure. She's very, very good, but the 2 second attention span combined with a bit of boundary testing keeps it real. Farrier was like " She's really sweet, but a bit of a drama queen, yeah?" Yep, I think so :) She's just feeling good and a bit more confident in her new home, which makes me happy.  Fingers crossed it dries up a bit and she can go out in her big paddock more regularly.

Still looking a little like a unicorn, tho.

Despite all the great things happening right now (job promotion, 4 day work week coming soon, NEW PONY!) I've really been struggling mentally, particularly with my riding. News flash: Bridget is also not a perfect unicorn! And I am not a master unicorn rider/trainer either :) We have gone through some really rough patches before, but I've had EC around to help keep me encouraged and motivated (and to also trade horses with temporarily when I'm feeling like I need a time out from pony drama). Being on my own a lot more, it's a lot harder to be positive and motivated when the rides aren't fun. Because we are in the mother of all rough patches right now. The forward into contact is broken...again. The work ethic from the winter is gone. And I don't know if I have it in me to keep repeating this same cycle over and over. Quitting is not something I'm great at, though.

Sleeping and eating is more her speed.

I've had a few long chats about my future plans and goals these last few months and I think I need to have a few more. I've recently been gently reminded that I'm maybe not as bad at this as I think...that just maybe Ms B is not meeting me halfway and maybe she would even like a different job. Maybe that this isn't the greatest fit anymore. Which, is not the first or last time I'll probably hear that with her, but it's the first time I'm feeling defeated enough to consider it seriously.

So, you'll have to excuse me while I drag out my western saddle and spend some time on the trails pondering. There are of course so many ways forward, and it always seems like some nice days on the trail are just the ticket for letting go and visualizing next steps.
Lots of grooming required right now too! They are both shedding like crazy. I've also been busy researching nutrition, Sovie arrived a little thin and tucked up which I attributed to her journey, but it's been a couple of weeks now and I think she could look better.


Wednesday 4 April 2018

New Pony Musings

Just some thoughts and first impressions on Sovie/Sophie now that she's been home for over a week!

As my recaps indicate, she's had a ton of outings and adventures in such a short time - a trip to a big show grounds, a stopover at EC's place, several trailer rides, and of course some hand walking trail outings here at home. So, I'm feeling like I've already got a pretty good idea of what she's all about.

Like all good ponies, eating makes everything better

In short, I feel like I got super lucky. Buying her sight unseen was a bit of a risk, but she's better than I could have hoped. I was mentally ready for a half wild baby pony, but she's pretty much the exact opposite to that. The breeder did a fantastic job getting her ready for the real world, and even in new situations she's got such a great temperament that you could be fooled into thinking she's done it all before.
First walk on the trail, Sophie says no big deal.

Temperament wise, she's super generous and willing. She wants to be your best friend, she loves everyone, and she tries really hard to do whatever you ask. Her default if she's not sure is to hesitate and think, and then go right ahead and try it if you encourage it. She's very, very trusting of us. When things startle her, she tends to turn and face them, which I love. She's quite curious about the world and once she investigates the scary thing, she's not likely to spook at it or anything similar again.

She's a lovely mover. In the videos I was sent I think she was a bit anxious - the more relaxed version we see every day is quite nice and is giving me hope for some future dressage goals.

Reusing this baby pic because so cute

I get the feeling she's got a very busy mind. She's aware of everything going on around her and right now everything gets investigated (and usually tasted, lol). She quite enjoys our outings and any attention she gets. I'm going to see if I can find some appropriate toys to keep her busy on her off days.
watching u

The only downside is that I'm a little bit at loose ends for things to do with her. She very much wants to be involved in our everyday adventures, but she's obviously much too young to do anything in the way of actual work. I'm not crazy about teaching them via round penning or longing this young. We might start long lining her later in the fall, just quietly around the arena and trails, lots of straight lines and quiet transitions.
Grooming right now is always an option, much hair, so itchy!

As far as ground manners, etc go, she's excellent and great with everything from standing to spray bottles to clippers to putting her feet where you ask. Perhaps I'll build her a trail course to investigate and lead her on that? I don't know - I had thoughts of just leaving her alone to grow but I don't think that's going to be enough mental stimulation for her. I guess worst case I can pony her everywhere we go and she can stand tied and wait for us while I school Bridget :)

Monday 2 April 2018

Long Weekend Goings On

G and I had 4 whole days off together. That never happens! We should have planned a mini trip somewhere, but honestly I felt like I just got back from Vancouver and we both were feeling a little like we had things to catch up on at home.

So, we filled our sunshine-y four days off with getting the yard in order for spring, lots of hiking, nice meals together, and of course tons of time at the barn!

A lot of the barn stuff was just the standard barn chores and goings on when you self board. I bought new buckets and a new shedding blade, cleaned a lot of poo, cleaned and organized a bunch of tack and winter blankets, and groomed about a ton of shedding hair off the resident equines.

No one was safe from my new shedding blade!
Bridget got out for a drill team practice Saturday morning and was a little grumpy about the other horses being so close. She's been weird lately, anxious to get out and do stuff, then grumpy when the stuff turns out to be work.

She got out for a couple of trail rides too, just short 60min ones around the local trails. She's had a ton of energy, particularly when Sovie or the mini comes along for the walk, like she's showing off for them or something. No worries, B, you are the bestest, fastest pony there ever was ;)

Happy ears

Sovie had a busy weekend doing baby things. She had a good grooming each day, which involves having to stand tied quietly and put up with all my grooming tools and spray bottles. She's done it all before and loves the attention, but I still like getting her out of her field regularly just to check in. She also went out for two good walks on the trail and was a very brave girl about it all. I forgot how fun babies are as they explore the world - everything from walking into the lake to attempting the steep downhill trail is all cause for much thinking and some interesting attempts at doing it right. I can't say enough good about her brain - so brave and always trying to do it right. There arent too many babies I'd trust to behave well enough for G to easily lead everywhere while I ride, but she's one.

Always keeping an eye on us

B is not pleased to follow a baby around. She says she's better than that. 

I'm working on getting Bridget ponying Sovie, but Bridget is a grump and Sovie finds her mean faces a little worrying. We had some pretty successful minutes today, but I was glad G was there to help. At one point S dug in her feet and was like "nope" due to a last minute puddle sighting and B was super cool with really digging in and dragging her through in her misguided mission of being Best Pony Always Marching Forward No Matter What. I can only laugh, who knew that would backfire quite so interestingly, poor S waterskiing through the puddle before I could get B stopped :) Interesting to note that when B feels dragging her default is to want to really go and pull harder, maybe a remnant of her cart training? Anyway, I think we're super close to everyone knowing their job, but it's a bit of a work in progress right now. 

B: "Ughhh, stop taking pictures of Sovie, already!"

On a related note I'm really starting to think B is out of sorts partly due to the new pony...I don't know enough to know if horses can be jealous, but I certainly think they have a sense of what resources they don't want to share. In this case I'd say Bridget very much views G and I as "hers" and is not pleased to share our attention :)

Sovie wants to be friends so badly, B is skeptical of the benefits of that.