Thursday 26 December 2019

Midwinter Resources

'Tis the season - shopping, reading and video links come fast and furious this time of year!

Here's a few things that have caught my attention lately:

- So You Think You Want a Young Horse? Courtesy of We Are Flying Solo. A must read if you're considering adding a young or green horse to your life. I can identify with all of it. Good horses are mostly made, not born, and wow is it a lot of work. This looks to be part 1 of a series. I can't wait to see what else she's going to add.

- Mugwump came back! I absolutely love her blog and ICYMI there have been a few new posts in the past month or so.

- Dressage Unwrapped - Olympia 2019 Dressage masterclass featuring Carl and Charlotte, Pippa Funnell, Gareth Hughes, Richard Davison and of course some amazing horses. I loved it.

- Everything you need to know about saddle shopping, from CobJockey. OK, so maybe not EVERYTHING, but almost! There are detailed notes and thoughts on tons of different saddles and brands she tried and her final choice is super cool.

- This Explains A Lot - Doing The Work Blog. This one was shared on facebook multiple times but if you're one of the few who hasn't seen it, it is worth a read. When I went just now to link the page, I discovered a lot of of other great content on her blog too. I particularly liked the thoughts on learned helplessness and desensitizing and have bookmarked her blog so I can keep reading!

- 32 Year Old Pony Takes Supreme In Hand Title At Olympia Ponies. They kick ass at any age.

- Parallax Hay Play Ball. Bridget loved this right from the start, but I admit I was a bit skeptical. Surely the hay would get wet and muddy? How was she going to get it all out? A couple of weeks in and I'm so sold on this thing I'm buying one for Sophie too. Bridget has tried her best to destroy it (she's smart and tried alternately to crush it and tear the lid off) to no avail. The weather has been horrible, but the hay doesn't get overly wet or muddy, and B figured it out quickly so it's emptied by her daily. If she's motivated, it takes her about 2-3 hours to empty it from 3/4 full, and in that time she's walking all over her paddock chasing and grazing from this thing. I use it in addition to hay nets to make her hay last longer into the night. I'm not sure this will work for every horse, but for my bored of winter paddocks and food motivated ponies it's definitely a win.

- Equestrian Stockholm and PS of Sweden both have some great sales on if you might need some matchy matchy. Greenhawk also has some good Boxing Day sales if you need essentials. No links, use Google if you must - I'm not going to be responsible for completely enabling you  ;)


Tuesday 24 December 2019

Season's Greetings

Wishing everyone a great holiday. I hope you are all able to enjoy the day as you like. Maybe that means with friends and family (or maybe if you're like me, a peaceful afternoon at the barn with the horses ;)

As always, thanks for reading and following our story in 2019. I appreciate the support more than I can say, and even more than that, I love following along with your adventures! You're all so inspiring and keep me motivated to be a better person (and rider) every day.

Sunday 22 December 2019

6th and 7th Rides Of Christmas

I think I'll just leave you with a few pictures today. Progress right now with Sophie is at the pace of watching paint dry and probably equally exciting for blog reading (but sorry, non exciting progress is just the way I want it right now!). Todays "big" change? Our walk circles were more confidently circular! Yay!

We may need to remeasure the Banana Pony. She's looking quite a bit taller than Bridget now!

I also popped on Bridget and she felt pretty good on the indoor footing. Another clue, perhaps. I'm thinking I'll just keep going with tons of walking and only a tiny bit of trot and canter. There are tons of exercises we can do at walk to add strength and flexibility, so why not see where that gets us. As per the vet, it won''t hurt.

I thought I was off work for the duration, but I need to man the office Monday/Tuesday. The plan is to be back home late Christmas Eve, and I'll be off again til Jan 2nd. I'm hopeful I'll get a whole lot more holiday rides in before January!


Friday 20 December 2019

The Fifth Ride/Swim of Christmas

The weather is still horrible. Part of Sophie's paddock isn't draining and is so muddy it's over the top of my boots. Of course that's also the part where she loves to sleep and poop!  I need to invest in some wellies and allow myself more daylight hours for mucking out. I spend a good part of the time doing chores planning in my mind all the ways I could set up our barn at home more efficiently (and with less mud!)

I realize I probably haven't mentioned much about about our building plans lately. That's because they're on hold. We're still waiting for the city to give us the permit, but in the meantime I think we've both lost motivation and are again looking at bigger lots (outside the city, coincidentally, lol) So, perhaps my post about building a barn was premature.

Our only pictures today are from inside because dark and rain do my camera no favors.

Anyway, I did get mud monster Sophie out today. I took her down to the outdoor arena and longed her a little. It's funny how things sneak up on you - she feels petty solid out there all the sudden. I added in some poles to keep it interesting and to up the difficulty and she was great. The only little issue is left lead canter is still a work in progress (it's weak so she swaps leads all over the place when she gets unbalanced or tired - timing is everything) and the poles were confusing that, so instead I used it as an opportunity to do a lot of transitions by trotting over the poles and cantering the rest.

It was getting dark and it was so, so damp out, so we ventured over to the barn with the indoor. Sophie isn't a fan of it over there because the horses that live there are always just out of sight behind some big trees. Also, they never answer her whinnies, so she's uncertain whether they are there and friendly or horse zombies stalking her from the forest.


So, it's not her happy place. I got on anyway because I feel like if I start making excuses not to that's the start of a slippery slope mentally for me. Sophie was definitely not as relaxed as I would have liked and had a few opinions about things but I was proud that for the most part she kept a lid on the feelings. There's nothing new to report technically - we walked some shapes a generous person might call circular,  a few laps each direction. Lots of stopping and starting, lots of falling through the outside shoulder (the attraction to the pretty blonde pony in the mirrors at the far end was strong and S of course has only a tiny idea what my outside rein means :) The amusing part to me is that I was working on the same basic things with Bridget yesterday - please keep a consistent tempo unless I ask for different, and please keep your shoulders on the path. Of course, the corrections for B are usually in trot or canter and are very subtle, but it's there nonetheless.

What I was very proud of was that Sophie really tried her best for me despite being uneasy about the surroundings. I think next  we might be ready to add a little trotting to our repertoire of things we can do.

Babies being babies, and Sophie being Sophie, I think her brain ran out of batteries in the indoor because our walk back home was...eventful. A truck drove by and water splashed under the tires and S lost her mind. I'm 99% sure we did not get splashed - I think it was just the noise she took offense to. Then every other vehicle that drove by was cause for drama. Of course one of them was the barn owner who already thinks Sophie is a nut. S did not do  herself any favors by leaping in the ditch when their truck came and then panicking because surprise! the ditch is full of water right now and she was swimming. Oh my. Traffic is one of the things I would have told you she's super solid with, but it looks like we might need to revisit that.

Ah well, two steps forward, one back (and into a ditch). Tomorrow is another day :)


Thursday 19 December 2019

Fourth Ride of Christmas

The weather has been awful the past two days with nearly freezing temps and an incredible amount of rain. I had plans of getting both ponies down to the indoor arena,  but honestly, one look at the mud sculpture that resembled Sophie and we voted her off the island. She's part duck or pig or something and is just living her best soaking wet, muddy life out there. 

Bridget was so sassy.

Bridget and I went for a trip to the indoor and I got absolutely soaking wet on the way. Bridget had her Bucas quarter sheet and of course her giant fur coat keeping her warm and dry. I was less content. I'd pay good money for waterproof riding gear for myself. So far I've never found anything that holds up to our weather. I do alright wearing a layer of fleece or wool so at least if I'm moving I'm still warm enough, but I end up pretty chilled by the end of the day.

Anyway, we had a short but sweet ride in the indoor. B unfortunately didn't feel 100% to the left, but she has tons of sassy pony energy and we had fun. I tried to get video for you guys, but apparently I need practice and it turned out too blurry to use any.

On another topic, as I rode my spooky, prancy pony home in the dark, wind, and rain I was pondering how I really don't have too much anxiety about riding these days. I know I'm not brave on a lot of horses, but I guess I must trust the two I have, even the one that's definitely a little sketchy. (Looking at you Sophie!) 

Fingers crossed the monsoons will ease off tomorrow and I can get both ponies out without it feeling quite so overwhelming. I'm beyond excited to get some more rides in on Sophie :) 

Wednesday 18 December 2019

The Third Ride of Christmas

And it was a big one!

I got to take Sophie on a trail ride! My husband very kindly led Bridget along with us, so I felt fairly comfortable hopping on Sophie knowing we had a good safety net in place. Still, you just never know with baby horses and I was a little nervous, I won't lie.

Spoiler alert, I was so happy and proud, because she was a very good girl!

Sweaty post ride pony. I've got no riding pictures today because I really just wanted to only worry about making sure she had the best possible outing.

I tried to set us up for success by taking a loop trail we've hand walked her on a few times before. I also waited for a weekday when its usually pretty quiet. The loop itself takes about 90 minutes and is almost all decommissioned forestry roads (Don't worry, I only hopped on for about 30 minutes of it). I felt like the route is a nice combination of technical to keep her mind busy, while still having enough room to maneuver should anything get weird. Also, there's a nice long gradual uphill section which used to serve me well with the very spicy baby Ginger pony - a tired pony was a good pony in her case!

Roadside eating breaks  encouraged. I really want these first rides  = fun adventures for her.

Sophie again felt a little unsettled by the fact I was in the saddle rather than beside her. It felt a little bit like there was a fire under her tail and we might go rocketing up the trail, lol.  I tucked her in behind Bridget, just in case! As is my luck, some random dude popped up in the bushes alongside the trail almost immediately. Sophie was on full alert. I said hi to the guy but he didn't respond and kept on lurking. Maybe picking mushrooms? I don't know. Whatever the case, G and Bridget had to come back and get us because Sophie was too worried to move past the spot on her own.

Next up, we navigated a whole series of big puddles and ditches. When they decommission the roads, they pull out any infrastructure like bridges or culverts, which leaves lots of big ditches and creek crossings to navigate.  Sophie was excellent and got the hang of figuring out where to put her feet and how to go up and down the big dips with a rider. She's so good with water, which I really appreciate!

We saw another nice person out walking their dog, but otherwise it was quiet, just as I'd hoped. (S is great for almost everything but I need to work on cyclists coming up behind us and she's not 100% with ATVs/dirtbikes if they don't slow down enough)

It's been a while since I've ridden a wobbly baby pony on the trails...I forgot how weird it is to ride a horse that doesn't really know how to go where you point and who makes more than a few interesting choices regarding where they put their feet. As the rider, you really are just along for the ride!

By the time I hopped off, we were confidently leading the way on a loose rein, and I even felt like I had some rudimentary brakes and steering. So pleased we were able to give her such a positive and confidence boosting outing:)

Happy, happy

Such a good girl! I'm going to try to fit in more trail rides in the next few weeks - I feel like it's so much easier and fun for the horses  to install the basics out there because there's a visible purpose to everything I ask (stop for this gate, go around that tree, slow down for this downhill section, etc).

I have to mention that Bridget was feeling great again too. G was like "what are you feeding her? She's towing me everywhere!" Her little ears were forward the whole time and she seemed so happy to be out. Fingers crossed I have time for another Bridget ride soon. I'm just so happy she's feeling so good.

It sounds like we're going to get rained out today (100mm+ forecasted!), so the ponies may get a day off, especially as the indoor arena is already booked. Hopefully see you again soon!


Tuesday 17 December 2019

The Second Ride of Christmas

Keeping with the 12 rides of Christmas (vacation) theme, here's ride #2.

I started out today so frustrated. For now, I feel like it's safer to have someone around when I ride since Sophie is still so new under saddle. But, for the second day in a row, the person cancelled at the last minute and I couldn't round anyone else up to keep me company. So, I was sad.

Once I can string a week or two of rides together, I'll feel better about riding alone.  I love self boarding and actually like riding by myself the majority of the time, but this is one of the times I wish for a busier barn where there's always that built in safety net of people and other horses sharing the space  :)

In other news, Bridget got this hay ball for Xmas and highly approves of it.

I think I just need to suck it up and get it done, help or none...I took vacation time partly to get Sophie going, and I don't want to waste it. If I'm honest I've been trying to organize consistent help since September but life is busy and we get  a day or two in and something else always comes up. Maybe on those days  I can text a friend before I get on and have them check in at a agreed upon time if they don't hear from me? Trying to think outside the box. For now, I still take her out and longe or hand walk her, so it's not a total loss.

Anyway, today wasn't all disappointing! I rode Bridget and she felt totally enthusiastic, energetic, and best thing ever - sound! That alone obviously made my day, after months of vague off and on lameness and stiffness. I didn't want to jinx anything by getting my hopes up, but she felt pretty fantastic last week too. I had given her almost a month off and we did some short walking hacks last week to get back into the swing of things. I'm hoping to add a little more trot in this week, then a bit of cantering next week if she continues to feel OK.

This angle does her no favors, but she is definitely rocking a winter bod, lol

Today, she was ridiculously excited to get out and so light and forward. I might have got a little teary eyed - it makes me so happy that she's feeling so good.  I just did  some easy walk/trot/walk/halt transitions on big loops around the area. I kept the trot to straight lines and it felt totally even and she was really pushing over her back for the first time in ages.

Sassy, happy pony <3

Fingers crossed, this feeling stays. Either way, today's ride is a gift I definitely appreciate :)


Sunday 15 December 2019

12 Rides Of Christmas

The title makes no literal sense, it just sounded fun and now its stuck in my head and I can't come up with anything else. Anyway, I am off on a break til New Year and have nothing on the schedule but horse time. Let's hope I log more than 12 rides!

Fingers crossed, I should have plenty of time to get a few more rides in on Sophie and maybe even build up a little routine and make some progress before I give her one last mini break in January. I don't have any quantitative goals defined. As we all know with baby horses pretty much every day brings a "first". One more new and exciting thing checked off the million and one things they should know on their way to being a grown up riding horse. Anyway, I'm committing to putting the time in, and we'll just have to wait and see where we get.

Growing up so quickly! She'll be 4 in April, I think.

Sophie's been on a pretty light schedule since the end of September. I was going to give her a bit more time to grow (and me to lose more weight!), but of course Sophie can't be expected to understand that and has made it obvious she's bored in her field and would like more to do. A lot more to do, preferably :) I've been completely overwhelmed with work and had some bad luck as far as being sick off and on the last couple of months, so the best I've been able to do is get her out for a walk or longe 2 or 3 times a week. It's barely enough and I've made little progress because she's just go so much energy and really needs more consistency and time than I had.

So, for Day 1 of horsey christmas, we were just getting back at it. I  tacked her up, walked her down the road to the arena, and longed her a bit, really focusing on getting her to bend her body around me amd focus rather than the counterbend and look for spooky things outside thing she's been favoring lately. I get it, she's bored, she thinks she knows it all, but yeah, I'm not just moving forward and hopping on after however many weeks and only a few rides in her life. A little check in isn't too much to ask :)

Adding extra flair to a roll back I asked for quietly from walk...because, reasons? She's so silly some days.

Day 2 was a little bit more of the same, but I did hop on (in the safety of the round pen) Sophie acted a bit like this was a new developmemt, which is fine, but also made me glad I was careful and didn't assume we'd be fine to pick up where we left off earlier in the fall. 

When you get on and realize pony has a bit of a hump in her back and your stirrups are WAY too long to be useful. Smile like it's fine, but keep your body super bracey. Because that's helpful. Seriously, I never learn. Thank god she's a good girl. 

Phew, I remembered to chill for real. Sophie's expression is letting us all know she still thinks I'm nuts.

We walked around a little, did some drunken sailor steering, got stuck and unstuck a few times, and in general just kept it very low key. The whoa/go cues improve every time and are pretty solid. Steering is kind of funny, I guess I was so focused on making sure I had access to all four corners that I'm not sure she consistently understands we can turn and go forward all at the same time. But hey, turn on the forehand or haunches is happily offered any time she's unsure, so there's that. We can just do squares, I guess  :)

Oops, here we are stuck momentarily.
Back on track. Basically at this point forward any which way is good, the steering will come.

We'll see what Day 3 and 4 bring. I'm not sure I have a helper today so we might be back to longeing or groundwork, but tomorrow G has promised to take us for a short trail walk. I think Sophie will really enjoy getting out of the arena - I know I'm looking forward to it!


Thursday 12 December 2019


I've been pretty quiet over here!

In real life I've been sick forever and sound like Darth Vader when I breathe which is kind of annoying to me and everyone who has to listen to it. If this keeps up I might only have internet friends - because who wants a real life biohazard one? :)

Feeling fine ;)

The weather has been classic winter on the West Coast. Rain. Fog. Cloudy with showers. Drizzle. Sleet. 100% chance of  precipitation. You get the idea.  I am easily amused by the weather forecasters' attempts at variety so I scheduled today's hay delivery for the "light rain" part of the day, thinking it sounded safer than "showers". All I know is that it was wet out but my hay storage is full. I may have a reliable supply again too, so that's a huge relief!

Riding! And rain of some sort happening here. I'd call it "fire hose" but the forecast likely went with "showers" 

The ponies are still doing fine. Bridget is her usual self. Sophie is also herself, but x1000 because I haven't had her out for a week.

Now with even more sass! Also comes with additional mud at no extra charge.

But, guess who has the rest of the month off work?! Me! It sounds dumb to use such a big chunk of vacation time now, but I've found it works for me...this is always the time of year when I am either sick or just burnt out, plus the days are short and I have a million things I want to do outside. Last year we escaped to Mexico, this year I am staying home and have some pony training planned, of which I'm sure you'll be hearing all about!

Who needs a tropical beach when we have such fantastic days at home? ;)

In related saving-my-vacation-dollars news, Black Friday was a thing this year. I have a saddle to try on Sophie - wish me luck! I originally had an idea to try a saddle I liked riding in on Bridget, just in Sophie tree size, but the feel is so different on Sophie that I've been throwing my ideas of what I thought I liked out the window. I think the main thing is that my leg hangs more on Sophie so I'm finding I don't necessarily like a more open seat or forward flap or a short block on her - where with super round B all those things feel like a necessity! Whatever we end up with, I'm hoping it'll fit Sophie for a year or two as she grows and that I'll be able to tolerate it. Used and not fancy is our happy place right now.

Sophie also got a new bridle just for herself. It's not fancy, of course, but I'll get pictures once I get it in the rotation - I think it looks nice on her.  Both ponies got blankets, because rainsheets are a year round thing here. I got myself a membership at a new gym to try out, which I'm excited/nervous for. The girls I'm going with are horsey, so saying my goal is to lose more weight for Sophie is legit with our little group. Updates coming, I am sure!

Sophie's new blanket is an Amigo Bravo 12 Wug. Would not recommend for those of you with wide shouldered horses, but for Sophie it's just perfect and standing up surprisingly well to her 24/7 abuse, our weather, and her refusal to stand indoors!

Time off sick meant that in addition to online shopping, I've had some reading time. Sadly, the vast majority of books I downloaded were duds. I thought this one was pretty good though:

The main character in this one is a lot more mature and relatable than some of her previous books I've wanted to love but couldn't quite. This one is solid though and a decent choice.
That's it for now. See you again soon!

Thursday 5 December 2019


Just some winter ponderings...

A riding buddy and I were chatting the other day and contemplating some winter and spring events. Our trail challenge courses seem to be a thing quite a few people enjoy, and there are one or two clinicians that enough people like that we can make a go of booking them and combining that with a fun trail challenge day (sadly, my favorite coach is "english" and therefore not one of them ;) )

Although I do have to say, low level eventing kind of equals a trail challenge, no? 

Like all events and clinics, there are goals and things people want to accomplish. And we have a lot of fun. BUT, being kind of an outsider to the western world, some of the extreme/spooky trail and desensitizing stuff raises questions for me. Honestly some of the opinions and personalities make me a bit uncomfortable. I'm not sure I have the words or my thoughts in enough order to make this concise, but here we go:

I don't think it's fair for me (or anyone) to TRY to push until there is a reaction. I'm good with stuff being there that's potentially scary. I'm not a fan of things like people waving tarps and plastic bags around trying to get a reaction...I'm pretty sure my horse is smart enough to tell the difference between me scaring/annoying her on purpose vs a random event or person doing so without a focus on her. Taking it a step further, if I ever did approach a horse with that much intent, energy and noise, I kind of want and expect them to be aware of it, not tuning me out.

Unless it's Bridget. Then do whatever you gotta do to make her put her ears up for a photo :D

I 100% believe our horses can easily read our intention. I want to be reliable and trusted as far as the relationship with my horses go. They don't scare or annoy me on purpose, why would I scare or annoy them on purpose? We don't avoid new or scary things, but they're never the focus of the day, either. If something unexpected happens, we trust each other and figure it out. I think that's a fair deal.

I had an interesting chat on this very subject with a clinician after people asked me why he didn't push Sophie further. (They've seen her react and spook and I get the feeling that they think a lot less of us for it and that clinician should 'fix it' and help me more) The short answer is what you'd expect: always ends on a good note, give the horse confidence and quit while you're ahead.

Master of the pool noodles. They're just like navigating a narrow, bushy trail, right?

Then he added quite a bit more to his answer that I thought was interesting. As always, please take this with a grain of salt as I'm paraphrasing my understanding.

A lot of people fall into a trap of desensitizing and doing ground work to death, because "that's what you do". He mentioned learned helplessness, and was quite vocal about keeping things fun for the horses, while still giving the people confidence.

He also mentioned that there are lots of horses out there that won't be a good fit for a program. In his younger days, he would have worked harder and made it happen. Now, though, he's much more likely to leave it be and suggest a change in job or rider to suit the horse better. His advice now is that if you want or need a brave and bombproof horse, buy one with the mind to be trained to be so. He likes a thinking, reactive horse, and for the riding he does, that's what he needs. He can encourage whatever aspect of their personality he needs, but when it comes down to it, there are always going to be jobs some horses aren't mentally suited for and shouldn't be pushed in to.

Baby Bridget had zero issues with water
or bridges. She just naturally didn't care too much. But the times I picked a fight about doing it 'faster' didn't work out well for me.

In the nicest possible way, he was telling me Sophie is probably not going to be the dead quiet horse walking through the trail challenge. And that's really OK, we don't need her to be! She needs to trust me and do the thing, but she's allowed to look and think and ask me questions about it, too.

For my purposes, his input was that I don't ever want to "dull" my horses down and he'd actually prefer them to be a bit more reactive and quick thinking than I am currently allowing (Sophie wants to be super sensitive to my cues and that's a gift, I need to have the confidence to use it) so my thoughts and questions aren't out in left field for my dressage goals and (average) riding ability. Cool.

So that all seems very common sense. But also very much at odds with other clinicians, when you think about it. There seem to be a whole lot of them that will fix anything and advocate for you as the rider being the boss and the horse doing whatever you say without question.

Anyway, it's a grey, windy, and rainy day out there, and I need to take my horses for an outing.  I think I'll just keep doing what I'm doing and trust my horses are OK. Enjoy the weekend!


Saturday 30 November 2019

Winter Feeding Challenges

Not that I would know for sure, but I highly suspect it's way easier (and cheaper) to acquire illegal drugs in his town that it is to buy hay.

Border security found all the hay the smugglers tried to hide in this coke shipment.

This year's been especially bad...often you can't even buy it at any price because there simply isn't any! Current pricing for a ton of timothy delivered here is $675, if you can get it. There's a waiting list, apparently limited to previous customers only. I'm lucky in that I found some local hay last summer and that I work in the same town as the timothy supplier once a week and can bring back 4 bales at a time in my truck on the ferry without a hazardous goods permit.

So, I've been doing everything I can to stretch the hay out, and surprisingly, I feel like my horses are looking better than ever this winter.

Bridget. I'm happy with her weight this winter. (One of her previous barn kids taught her to smile :)
Nothing groundbreaking here, but here's what's working for me.

- A FeedXL subscription. I think the one I chose was $50 for the year and it's the best money I spend on feeding. I can add a profile for each horse, and easily edit and plan their diets virtually each season as they get more or less pasture or a change in hay, and still ensure their dietary needs are being met. It's saved me money because I was previously feeding more hay than I needed in winter and a more expensive supplement/grain combo than I really needed year round.

Yum yum.

- Alfalfa cubes. They're more easily and cheaply acquired here than bales of hay, so I've been adding 2lbs/day for Sophie, and 1lb/day for Bridget for about a year now. I soak them to mush and hide their vitamin/mineral mix in there too. Depending on hay availability, I've previously tripled that amount and still had happy ponies. The con to these as hay replacement is of course they eat it much faster, and I've seen some studies showing the longer stems of traditional baled hay are more filling and a better source of fibre. I feel better about feeding soaked hay cubes than I do other options like beet pulp or rice bran since I'm just looking for straight up baled hay substitute.
Pictures of ponies approving of my dinner selection. You can see Bridget's funny white spot under her neck here, too. So cute.

- Hay nets. Less waste, and spreads eating time out. I can't not use them.

Bridget is savage if you don't give her some on the ground to stuff her face with first, tho.

- Taking advantage of any pasture time. Sometimes it means multiple trips to the barn in a day, but this time of the year if the horses can get out of their paddocks and onto better grass even for a couple of hours on a sunny day, it's free forage (and a nice mental break for them too, I think!)

Am happy with Sophie's weight too. She's really filled out!

- A locally manufactured vitamin/mineral supplement. I was previously buying ration balancer grain, but there was a whole lot of filler and stuff in there they didn't really need, plus feeding the recommended amount meant multiple bags per month. I'm liking just feeding the vitamin/mineral powder that is balanced for our local pasture and hay. The bag lasts way longer, too so it's a lot more cost effective.

(Sidenote: chatting with the vet last year, she was fairly vocal about researching the grain I feed and making sure the ingredient list was available and there was no clay or other binding agents, no unidentified protein sources, no molasses, etc. It had never occurred to me as I usually just read the nutrition label, and buy the low sugar grain but yeah...there's some interesting stuff in some of it and low sugar is sometimes subjective. As mentioned above I opted to switch it up, but do your research and make up your own mind, of course.)

- Owning big ponies. I know that sounds like a joke, but I'm halfway serious. I couldn't have a really hard keeper and live here. We don't have year round pasture, or an unlimited guaranteed supply of hay, and the closest feed/grain supply comes via the ferry once a week. Our local feed store does an amazing job, but in my experience there is no guarantee they'll have what you need in stock on any given day and space on the weekly truck is limited. Currently, Bridget gets by on 10lbs of mixed local and ttimothy hay daily and Sophie gets 15. I'm really lucky!