Tuesday, 18 June 2019

25 Things You (Maybe) Don't Know About Me

I've had a slow week so it seemed an opportune time to post this. It's been in my drafts folder for quite a while!

Here's a few things you might not know about me:

1. I love restoring historic houses and have a super nerdy interest in architecture. My big life dream is to either find a great farmhouse to reno and live in forever or design and build the 'perfect' home on some acreage somewhere.

This floor took forever, but I still love it nearly 10 years later

2. I hate bananas. Bridget loves them.

3. Favorite color: Green

4. Favorite horse color: Bay

5. I'm super scared to fly on large planes, but I love tiny ones.

Our taxi this past week. So fun.

6. Favorite food: Mexican. Tacos if I have to choose just one item.

7.  I love vintage vehicles and during my only significant break from horses I became completely immersed in restoring a series of 60's vehicles. I still have a couple I plan to finish and drive one day so I can be a bad ass granny.

Obviously
8. Favorite book: I am a huge reader, so this is a tough question. Maybe A River Runs Through It (Norman Maclean)

9. I'm easily bored in life. I've had jobs ranging from vet tech to park ranger to crane operator to my current role as a GIS Analyst. My hobbies and interests outside horses are equally random.

10. I'm a super introvert. Really I am quite content being left to my own devices and spending my spare time on interests and hobbies,  so I can't see myself being the life of the party any day soon.

11. As a kid, I worked at a trail riding barn from age 10 onwards, in exchange for a pony to ride. We were left to our own devices and had little to no supervision. It's actually kind of a miracle that no one got seriously hurt. Hard to imagine anything that that happening with insurance and child labour laws today :)

12. Irrational fears: Sharks. Orcas. Actually, swimming in the ocean in general.

I do like the view, though.

13. I took the time to teach my cat all the usual dog tricks. (Sit/stay/beg/heel/fetch/go over there/come here) I'm not even embarrased.

14. We never came up with a name for him, so 'Baby Kitty' stuck. I'm embarrassed about that.
BK. He comes running any time someone says "Baby". Its kind of unfortunate.

15. Prior to my pony love, I had a TB/percheron mare and a couple of Appendix AQHA mares.

Lainey was a TB/Perch cross and such a good girl. 

16. Place I want to travel next: Toss up between Ecuador and Iceland.

17. I was a bit of a wild child and did a lot of dumb things. I'm scared to have kids of own :)

18. Best teacher I've ever had: I'm going to have to go with my current riding coach.

Bridget pony is a close second, of course.

19. I can't dance. I love music, but have zero sense of the timing or the body awareness to pull of dancing....riding, on the other hand, makes sense to me. Go figure.

20. Perfect date night: Cook a nice dinner (mexican, most likely!) and a good movie at home.

21. I grew up in a pretty isolated area so didn't have any 'real' riding instruction until right around when I started this blog (7 years ago already!)

22. Tea or coffee? Ummm,can I choose hot chocolate?

23. Riding discipline I'd love to try: Mounted Archery.

24. I seem to always own mares, rarely geldings.

25. Age really is just a number. I in no way feel anything close to my actual age (41 now, so hard to believe!) and am happier and more adventurous now than I've ever been.




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Monday, 17 June 2019

Week 5

I don't even know where this week went. If I break it down, I got a ton of things accomplished, just not too many of the riding and horse training variety. It was one of those weeks where it kind of felt like a struggle to do all the things, and I ended up giving up a couple of mornings to just enjoying my garden and reading - for some reason my entire body was/is sore and  I needed a rest!

I did attempt to train a mane
I was feeling a bit discouraged since I had a solid plan for putting in the hours with Sophie. It's tempting to just chalk my plan up as a fail and throw it away. Strange how knowing that's a stupid and self defeating thing to do doesn't at all stop me from hitting one tough week and still being tempted to give up (or at least scale back) :)

Never fear though, inner Mean Girl isn't calling the shots around here and I will get back on track this coming week.

In the spirit of celebrating the effort and small wins (and keeping it honest), here's what I got up to this week:

Monday/Tuesday: Away working.

Wednesday: Travel home in the afternoon, arriving in time for dinner with my husband, feed horses and muck out. Sophie was a bit of a pain while I was gone and was moved back to "jail".

That time I thought I bought a cute pony but actually spent a lot of money on a drama llama

Not sure why she's so good at knocking down fence rails right now...Its not the world's best constructed fence, but she has to be either deliberately kicking the rails or leaning on them despite the fact there is electric wire too. Suspicious that the only fence line she wrecks is the one she shares with Bridget - I think she's kicking at her :(

Thursday: Work from home. Got a last minute call about some local hay, so went and got 50 bales off the field after work. It's beautiful hay, but that was a lot of work in the heat and I wasn't up for much riding or baby horse training after stacking it in the barn.

Friday: Took Sophie to the arena to do some groundwork and longe. She was a bit of a pushy and distracted monster. That's partly on me though, I don't think she's the kind of horse who is going to do well with more than a couple of days off. Took Bridget out after for a nice ride on the trail with friends, but apparently S was in a bit of a state and screaming the whole 2 hours we were gone. No idea why, because it's not like she's friends with any of the horses we took (Bridget and her are most definitely on the outs). I'm not sure, but I might put them together for a little bit...S has been very rude and sassy to B, thinking she's a grown up mare now and " all that" .B can humble her and sort out whatever's going on pretty quick.


Saturday: Our weather has been insanely hot and dry, and so the well at the barn ran dry. Spent a good part of the afternoon filling buckets at home and taking it to my horses. We are on city water at home, but the pressure is not the best and it took about 45 min to fill four muck buckets with our garden hose. Kind of crazy. We're brainstorming ideas, because this is the second summer in a row it's been an issue and it would seem climate change is a thing -the news the other night said the top 15 of the hottest summers on record here  have happened since 2001.
 Maybe a storage container at the barn? Maybe a better system to transport it from our house? Not sure.

S doing her best to stand still and look normal :)

Sunday: I've never owned a truly mare-ish mare. My luck has come to an end, because although Sophie is sweet, she is very hormonal and dramatic if not given something else to think about. Honestly, there are days where if she wasn't already mine, I wouldn't want her, lol. The saving grace for me is that I do think she's going to be pretty special and well worth the extra work. Sunday, I  kept it simple and trimmed her feet, worked at tidying up her mane a bit more, then tacked her up and just took her for a hand graze. For S, all that is challenge enough when she's feeling antsy and impatient.

Some weeks, I am especially grateful for Bridget's low maintenance self

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Thursday, 13 June 2019

25


Thanks LWilliams for the blog hop!

1. What is the first thing you do when you get to the barn?

I check the notice board to make sure there is nothing  need to know.

2. Is there a breed that you would never own?

Never say never, but being 5' tall, I can't see myself owning or riding anything extremely large and wide regularly, so much as I love the draft breeds, it probably won't happen.

3. Describe your last ride?

A hack to the lake and then back around through the equestrian club and farmer's market grounds.

4. Have any irrational riding fears?

I can get nervous on horses I don't know, especially if I'm expected to do something a bit challenging for me (for example, jumping lessons and xc clinics on new horses haven't always been my most shining moments)
That aside, down banks on XC aren't my favorite, despite having a man-from-snowy-river type slope I navigate nearly every trail ride.

5. Describe your favorite lesson horse?

Audrey! I haven't had a lesson since christmas, but she's my coach's up and coming FEI dressage horse and she's absolutely wonderful and quirky in all the best ways. I miss her, but I need to save for training and lessons on Sophie.

6. Would you ever lease out your horse?

Maybe? I have leased out previous horses, but Bridget is too special to me - the idea makes me nervous. Sophie is too young.

7. Mares: Yay or neigh?

Apparently Yay. It's never my intent, and I have owned geldings, but my life is full of mares right now!

8. How many time per week do you get to see your horse?

5 to 6.

9. Favorite thing to do on an “easy day” with your pony?

Hack around the neighbourhood, or sometimes just a 'spa day' where they get bathed and groomed an trimmed up like we're on our way to a show.

10. Conformational flaw that bothers you the most?

Feet...those itty bitty feet on upright pasterns holding up big bodies. Maybe it's just on my mind because there have been a few horses I know lately diagnosed with navicular type issues, and it's such a heartbreaking thing, especially if it could have been prevented with better breeding.

11. Thing about your riding that you’re most self conscious about?

Everything? Honestly, my weight/build. The ideal is the tall, slim elegant rider and even at my slimmest, I am short and 'sturdy'

12. Will you be participating in no stirrup November?

Unlikely. Sophie is too young/green. Last year I hacked Bridget out in her bareback pad a lot but I like to mix it up with days where I stay up off her back more too. This maybe sounds weird, but I actually feel like my balance is the least of my things I need to work on - my seat is pretty secure and I do ride bareback semi frequently.


13. What is your grooming routine?

I have ponies, so in the winter usually a shedding blade or something like it is necessary to get the mud/hair off. In summer, I start with a magic brush. I follow that with a plastic curry, then a soft brush to flick the surface dirt off, then a damp cloth with a bit of conditioner to wipe off any excess.

14. Describe a day in the life of your horse?

They're out more often than not, even when they are 'in' they have attached paddocks and don't use their stalls much. Fed at 8 am or so, if they're not on pasture they get a lunch snack, then I show up later in the afternoon and ride/work with them, muck out, and feed dinner.


15. Favorite season for riding?

Fall, even winter. I like the cooler weather, I enjoy how quiet the arenas and trails are.

16. If you could only have 1 ring: indoor or outdoor?

I don't mind riding in rain, but the odd time we get snow it makes life difficult outside. The indoor I use is $5 a ride, so really cheap. I went to the bank last fall and got a couple of hundred dollars in 5's thinking I'd be set for a year. I counted that money last week, and it turns out I used the indoor 4 times so far this year. Since I ride 5 times a week I'd say I must prefer the outdoor!

17. What impresses you most about the opposite discipline (english vs. western)?

Very generally speaking, I like riding English trained horses more, but would rather have a western horse on the ground :)

18. You have unlimited funds to buy one entire tack set for your horse, what is he/she wearing?

Please, please, please a magical saddle that somehow can be adjusted to fit us both for life. For myself, I'm really coveting a County Epiphany. I'm not loyal to any one brand and prefer simple and classic styling, so any quality plain noseband dressage bridle that fits a pony/cob well would be another dream come true. They are surprisingly hard to find, both my ponies wear bridles made up of multiple (almost but not quite matching) parts right now!

19. How many blankets do you have? When do you blanket?

So many. And, um, right now I never use them? If/when the ponies are back in regular training/showing, then I will clip again and need turnouts and stable sheets and coolers and all that. For now, our climate is very moderate and they don't need to be blanketed as long as I don't mind spending a bit of extra time grooming each day.

20. What is your horse’s favorite treat? Favorite place to be scratched?

Bridget: Anything. She was begging and eating french fries the other day. She likes to be scratched on her belly and her chest.

Sophie: Doesn't like treats, or any food that is not hay or grass. Loves to be scratched anywhere, especially on her head around her ears or under her jaw.

21. Something about your barn that drives you crazy?

It can be a bit dramatic.


22. Roached manes, pulled manes, or long flowing manes?

Pulled, although mine sport none of the above. Long flowing gets in the way or looks scraggly to me. I like roached, just don't feel like clipping it all the time. Both my horses have manes that don't grow long, so (*LWilliams stop reading now and skip to 23*) I use scissors and thinning shears to tidy them up and kind of go with the native pony standard where there are longer than pulled but neater looking than 'wild'.

Never mind, they're wild.

23. Can you handle a buck or a rear better?

Depends...rearing is easy to ride provided they aren't going to flip over, but I hate it as an evasion because it means there really is no forward. Simple bucking isn't that bad, but if we are talking multiple in a row, or Bridget's preferred method of bucking on a downhill or after a drop fence, I'm not that good.


24. I would never buy a horse who ___________________?

Wants to hurt someone.


25. Favorite facial marking?

A medium width blaze is my favorite. Give me a big white nose any day :)

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Monday, 10 June 2019

One Month/Small Wins

Today marks one full month of having Sophie back "home" and really focusing on giving her a good start in her working life. So, I thought I'd replace my usual monthly "Small Wins" post with a quick recap of what we've done with Sophie in the past month. If you're new here, basically these small wins serve as a progress marker for me, and a kindness to myself by reminding me of all the things that were fun or that are going well, rather than the challenges I might be apt to focus on otherwise.

- I feel like the most obvious win was bringing Sophie back to Bridget's boarding barn and having her settle in without too much drama.


- Related news: I'm getting a lot more comfortable with the whole trailering thing.

- So much progress made with Sophie. She leads politely again, she's started longeing, she wears tack like a big girl now.

- She's been on a lot of outings, including a swim at the lake and a trip through an in hand trail course.


- My summer work schedule seems to be a success so far - I'm keeping up with the chores associated with having both ponies self boarded, still fitting in regular rides on Bridget and outings for Sophie, and having a tiny social life too.

- Sophie's been much more patient about standing when tied, and is getting to be super easy for me when I handle her feet.

- I got a spot for the groundwork portion of an upcoming clinic in July and plan to bring Sophie. A win because spots fill up fast, and we have no local trainers. It will be a good opportunity to check in.


- She's growing and filling out and generally looking pretty good. I need to measure her to know just how much, but the idea of riding her sometime in the near future without squishing  her seems like it could happen.


Non Sophie related wins:

- The new camera. I still can't thank you guys enough for your input. We're two months in and I am growing ever more obsessed with photography tutorials and videos. I think I've discovered a new hobby! Not to mention that having new pictures of my horses pretty much any time I want them (which, let's be real, is always :) is pretty wonderful.

- Bridget is doing really well. Although a little fat due to too much pasture time and not enough exercise, she is happy and definitely feeling good and enjoying a little vacation from work. She deserves to be spoiled a little bit now and then.


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Saturday, 8 June 2019

25-28: Summer Camp

I've been quite busy this week, so Pony Boot Camp more resembles Pony Summer Camp!
Bridget's easiest boot camp ever.


Day 25: Away for work

Day 26: Work, and I had to take a later ferry home, so no time for horses.

Day 27: Took Sophie back down to the club grounds to do some longeing and groundwork. I could do both at home, but I like taking advantage of all the horses and goings on at the club grounds, especially with such an easily distracted baby. She was very up and energetic on our walk, less enthused to longe. I added some ground poles to the mix, which took a bit of figuring for her ("I can trot and canter over these?") but I think kept it a little more interesting. I strategically placed one in the corner she gets distracted in, and it worked like a charm to keep her watching where she's going :)

The trail course was still set up so I took advantage of that as well. She considered saying no to the tarp for a brief moment, then remembered she is a good girl and not actually scared. The walk home was uneventful...I think I tired her brain out.

Standing quietly while tied, even. Who is this pony?

Day 28: Having been released from her round pen jail the previous evening, I found Sophie pastured way down at the bottom of the farm (and no broken fence rails, Yay!) It's a lovely field, but kind of a pain in the butt for me as the manure pile is on the opposite corner of the property, and uphill! It actually adds quite a bit of time to chores (2 hours last night for both ponies to pick paddocks and feed). After that, a bit of a rain storm passed through so I opted to just trim feet and head home to dry off. I was pleasantly surprised that Sophie stood quietly for me in her field without a halter and let me tidy up all 4 hooves without a fuss. A huge win for me and the impatient baby pony.

Still has her moments. I was treated to an assortment of interesting faces as I filled Bridget's water bucket. Sophie would like to be the center of attention at all times, please. 

 Since I am very new to this hoof trimming thing I am reluctant to make any big changes, so I've promised myself to look at them every week or two. It's amazing to me how much their feet change in even that time frame! I am on my own for the next 6 weeks, then the farrier that travels here will check fix my work again (can't wait!) I'll freely admit this is not my cup of tea, but without a local farrier it seems to be my only option. If it was just Bridget and her round cob feet I'd be fine, but Sophie wants to have the long toe/low heel thing and I worry about that a lot.

Today there is a fun day for the Therapeutic Riding kids. I think I'll save them the fun and distraction that is Sophie and probably just take her for a little hike in the forest somewhere - it's a beautiful day again.
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Thursday, 6 June 2019

On Being Serious About This Riding Thing

Kind of a spin off on some experiences I've had recently where I've been around people who are taking life and horses very seriously, and for whatever reason I'm all over here laughing at myself and my horses and being the palomino pony black sheep of the group. It kind of got me wondering what has changed? I used to fit in well with the group!

Maybe it's her lady beard? :)

I can be SUPER hard on myself, but over the years, I've learned I kind of need to tone myself down if this hobby is going to be an enjoyable one for me. As time goes on, I am less and less bothered when things don't go the way I hope or expect, and am definitely way less worried about what anyone thinks (a really cool feature of getting older, lol). I feel like even in the time I've been writing this blog, there have been some big changes. I was super motivated with Ginger, laser focused and serious about my daily goals with Bridget, but now the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction with Sophie and my outlook is more day by day, let's just see what happens.

Poor Bridget, the older sister always has to grow up with more rules.

With Sophie, I have a definite big picture idea of what I'd like to accomplish with her. Baby horses being baby horses, who knows what will really happen, but my goals are pretty solid in my mind: I want a fun pony to compete up the levels in dressage, potentially with some lower level eventing to keep it interesting. Typically, I don't enjoy high maintenance or overly quirky horses to own, and S would like to be a bit of both, so I am aware that there will need to be a certain level of seriousness and dedication required to create the well rounded horse of  my dreams.

Quirky. Now with extra hair.

Right now I am putting in the time to do everything possible to ensure she sees as much of the world as possible and has as many positive, low key experiences as I can provide while her brain is a baby learning sponge. In short, at this point in her life I am only serious about creating a happy, healthy pony who wants to work with me and sees our interactions as fun and interesting. I keep a regular schedule of outings with her. I am serious about having her be a good member of equine society (bathing, clipping, picking up feet, leading, tying, standing, comfortable in different surroundings, etc), but there are plenty of days where we just go for a walk in the forest. Sometimes, I just put her in a new field and leave her to figure out that change (and the new grass that goes with it) is a good thing.

The small stuff, like the many, many mistakes I'm sure we both make on a day to day basis...meh not going to get caught up in that. I'm certainly not trying to follow any 'program' or training plan. If I do, it's too easy to get caught up in the failures and the "I suck, what's the point, I'll never be good at this" dialogue. Much better to just keep one foot in front of the other, make corrections in the moment and move right on forward again. No looking in the rear view!


This isn't to say I don't want to learn new things or be better version of ourselves, or that I don't take Sophie's education seriously. I do. But I also think there needs to be room for this to be fun, and that both myself and my horses are happier when the crazy owner who makes mistakes but is happy and positive and not discouraged by them shows up, rather than when the 'taking it all very seriously, hang on while I check what this book says, better not mess this up' version of myself appears. We learn through mistakes, and horses are pretty forgiving and accommodating creatures. With my two, I am definitely noticing a difference in them when I am a less rule and structure oriented and more "let's see what happens". Both WAN(T to be good ponies so in my mind there is not a lot to be gained by focusing on 'fixing' anything or what's hard for them or not working that well this week. I think I just need to keep moving forward and trust in the bigger picture - it seems to be working for me so far!
Not to say the odd visit to pony jail won't happen.

It's kind of a luxury having a Bridget pony that does it all - there is very little pressure to bring Sophie along quickly, so my current mindset is perhaps influenced by that. I'm also finding Sophie to be very intelligent, so the "less is more" approach is working well for her.

Thus concludes your Ferry Ride Deep Thoughts for this week.

How about you? Has your mental approach to training and riding shifted as time has gone on? Do you find you're more productive following a schedule with goals, or are you less structured and just take it day by day? Maybe it just depends on the horse?



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Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Days 23&24: Running On A String

Title courtesy of my husband who recently stated with all seriousness that Sophie is getting pretty good at "running on a string" :) I love him, and let's be real, his terminology probably makes more sense than "longeing" to anyone non horsey.

Sophie got back down to the arena x2. Once to practice longeing/running on a string, once to go back through the parts of the trail course from the weekend that we left out.

We're both making equal mare faces, lol

I did the longeing last night. She's getting pretty good, but I do need to keep focused as she's not all that brave in some parts of the arena and would really rather not trot around out there all by herself....it's much more fun and safe feeling to be closer to me, don't you know. The forward button remains a little stickier than I'd like, but it's improving each time - we're getting closer to her offering  a consistent tempo more often than not and sharper "up" transitions are coming. She's not at all fussed by the longe whip and honestly a bit wanting to hang back if you let her so it's tempting to nag at her. I need to resist that temptation and enforce that go means go NOW until I say stop, because I do want her to be sharp under saddle!

I meant to focus on the horse...but I kind of like it anyway

Today, we revisited some of the trail challenge obstacles. I practiced sending her over and through things I know she's fine with (poles, a bridge) and surprisingly, she wasn't that confident. That actually makes sense, since I wasn't there beside her leading her, rather she was on the end of a line and "all by herself". She quickly gained confidence though and aced it.

Throwback to Bridget showing us the car wash of doom.

 I did have to get a bit more assertive when it came to the car wash, and a longer discussion was had about going forward where I ask, but it was the right call - she eventually just sighed and walked right on through and wasn't really worried about it. She just would have preferred to say no and not try it, I think. I had her hang out under the tarp while I scratched her and told her she was the best and bravest pony and pretended she hadn't just been testing boundaries. That made her quite happy and proud of herself and she stepped up after that and was a total star. I'm appreciative she's so interested in making me happy, it really does help make things easy!

That 80's rocker hair, tho :/

I'm away for work for a couple of days again, unfortunately. I'm absolutely loving having a youngster again so along with me liking to say hi to Bridget every day, my enthusiasm for barn time is pretty high right now! It's a small bit of torture to not be able to go to the barn every day. I'm considering a pay cut/career change so I can work locally and be home all week, but we'll see. That's a big decision best thought out thoroughly.



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Sunday, 2 June 2019

Days 17-22: Challenges

We've all had them - those weeks where everything just feels a little off kilter, a little more difficult than it should be. My board increased with a day's notice, the hay thing happened (and to add insult the people claim I didn't return one of the bales and owe them $12!) my halter and fly spray went missing, and Sophie smashed a fence and the barn owner is unhappy with her. Hopefully this string of (minor in the grand scheme of things) inconveniences is through now and normalcy can resume.

On to our daily recaps:

Days 17-20: Basically, it was hot and I really wasn't feeling well. So, between work, keeping up with the garden, the hay fiasco, and general mucking out and barn chores the only "add ons" I accomplished were giving both ponies a good grooming and trimming Sophie's feet one evening.

Day 21: This day was...a challenge. I got to the barn in the morning and was told Sophie ran through a fence the night before. She was unscathed, and happily living with Bridget. The barn owner was understandably unhappy though. The backstory is that another horse on the property smashed multiple fences the other day and the barn owner is just over it, so Sophie's jailbreak was extra unwelcome. After begging forgiveness and offering to put time in fixing fences, off we went to an in hand trail challenge I signed up for.


Farmer's market season is apparently back in full swing, which can be challenging at the best of times. Everyone parks on the road and kind of meets and chats there before they head into the market grounds. The only way to get to the equestrian grounds is to thread the needle through all those people and parked cars on the road. I was proud of Sophie for trusting me enough to brave that excitement!

The trail challenge itself went alright. It was advertised as a fun day, but people showed up ready to compete like it was a show! Plus, there were a number of spectators. A great thing for the club and organizers, not so much for me with my baby horse just wanting some experience. Since it ended up being a timed event, the couple of things Sophie wasn't 100% confident about (a tarp and a plastic kids pool) I just gave her a big pat for sticking a foot on or in and called it good. Baby steps. We didn't do the pattern of poles you were supposed to side pass through at all. I've only just cracked moving her shoulders and hind end around! 4 wheel drive sideways is beyond us right now, lol.


On the good side, she stood around for a really long time (2+hours waiting) and was decent about it. She was cool with almost everything on the course. Bridges, a giant inflatable ball, a couple of small jumps, some hoops on the ground, etc. The stuff she wasn't sure of, she still gave a decent try. What more can I ask?


As it was apparently  "serious" competition, there were some unwanted opinions and suggestions expressed over my handling of her/lack of attempt of some of the obstacles/Sophie's lack of experience given her age. Since I try to be honest here, I'll admit that took the fun out of the day for me despite logical me feeling good about my life choices. The comments came across as judge-y and condescending rather than helpful or genuine. I admit to not having a huge interest in groundwork or natural horsemanship games, but you can trust me when I say S politely stands and leads and wasn't causing anyone any trouble. Yes, we kind of sucked if you're keeping time and scores, yes, as always we have lots to work on. Yes, some people's 2 or 3 year olds could eat that course up. Maybe under saddle too. But, I'm proud of her and comfortable with my choice of leaving her alone to grow up. I'm disappointed in myself for letting a few rotten apples eat at me and take away my enjoyment of the day.

Loving my garden right now as an alternate happy place when the barn is challenging. I have cute helpers too.

Back home we went, and Sophie got a big pile of hay and a fresh bucket of water...in her jail cell. Poor pony, back to life in the round pen until the fencing is deemed pony safe (the electric might be on the fritz, which would explain a lot!)

Onwards we go. I look forward to a nice outing this evening. 



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Friday, 31 May 2019

Reminder: Check Your Hay

I've bought hay from the same guy for a couple of years now and loved it, so I was pretty excited when I got the news he was baling yesterday and we could come grab some first cut later in the day.

I persuaded G to help and we loaded up both trucks of beautiful looking hay. It wasn't until we were halfway unloading the first truck in the barn that I noticed one of the bales felt warmer than the last. Uh oh. Stuck my hand inside, and yep...hot in there and just a bit damp feeling. We cut it open to confirm, then went back through and found three more in that load. By then I was feeling paranoid about accidentally setting the barn on fire and returned the rest to the farmer.


No big dramatic story here, but it easily could have been. We only lost 4 hours of our day loading and unloading hay (and then reloading!) but it could have been worse. Best case it just went moldy before I fed it, worst case (and the one that scared the crap out of me given that one bale was almost too hot to touch on the inside, only a couple hours after baling) is it could combust and burn the barn down.

So, just a friendly reminder to check what you're putting in your barn this hay season. I was complacent given I've only ever got beautiful hay from this farmer before, and to be fair, the majority of what we picked up looked and smelled perfect.

Live and learn, I guess!

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Thursday, 30 May 2019

May Resources

I've been spending a lot more of my spare time at the barn and in the garden, so my media consumption is less than normal. Still, I have to do something on those long ferry rides every week so no worries about me breaking the habit completely!

This month I was watching:

- The Event Rider Masters. I really like the short recap shows, but they post video of the entire event too if you don't want to miss anything.

- Badminton Horse Trails. Believe it or not, the dressage coverage is a highlight almost as much as the cross country and kind of a gold mine of learning due to the commentary.

- Elphick.Event.Ponies She's got a 14.1 Welsh D she events at BE100. I'm sold!

- USEF Learning Center. Thanks for the tip, LWilliams! I haven't explored this one too deeply, but there is a ton of good content just waiting for me to have the time to view.

Text break, only because I love this picture of S

Reading:

- Forward by Natalie Keller Reinert.  It's free on Kindle Unlimited and is about a couple of eventers in Florida getting started in the professional side of the business . In the same vein, Down The Centreline by Hazel Beecroft. Also free. I'm grouping these together because they were well written (for books with horses in them :) and suited for adults, both feature some pretty flawed characters trying to be better, and both were centered around eventing. I'm not going to give either a rave review, but they are both a pretty solid choice if you like light fiction with horses in it and served me well enough for passing time on my ferry commute.


Smoky The Cowhorse. I was wondering if this one would hold up over time for me. My childhood self loved it. Yep, my adult self still likes it too. Some of the terms used might not be socially acceptable today, but it's a book about a cowboy and his horse written in 1927, so if anything that makes it feel authentic for the time. This part stuck out to me, because these days you do hear a lot about how the old ways were 'bad' and the new 'natural' ones are good. Seems that discussion has been going on for a very long time:

"There's folks that's read some on how horses are broke on the range, and from that reading they get the idea that the cowboy breaks the horses' spirit, that it's the only way a wild horse can be tamed. What I've got to say on the subject if that's what's believed, is that either them folks read something that's mighty wrong, or else they got the wrong impression and misunderstood what they read; and breaking a horse the way he's broke on the range is about the same on the animal as schooling is to the human youngster. The spirit of the wild horse is the same after years of riding as it was before he ever felt a rope, and there's no human in the world wants to preserve that spirit in the horse like the cowboy does;--he's the one what knows better than anybody else that a horse with a broken spirit is no horse at all"


That's it for this month...it's a beautiful day out, so back to the barn I go :)

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Monday, 27 May 2019

14-16: Sidetracked

It's been unseasonably hot, and G has been on vacation so the weekend evolved to be more about yard work and social outings than horses. It's all good though, we so rarely have days off together that I'm quite content to spend my spare time doing normal couple type things when we can. Obviously, since I am self boarding, we still spent plenty of time at the barn, though :) Normal couple's date night includes feeding horses and picking poo, right? Fly spray is a nice perfume, yes?

"Feed us already, lady!"

I have a funny story regarding all that, actually. We had to feed all the horses at the barn Saturday night, as well as go to a friend's (dressy) birthday dinner at a nice restaurant in town. I had it all planned out, wearing barn clothes over top of my nice ones so I could hopefully look presentable post horse visit. I was feeling pretty good when my plan went off without a hitch.

Until we got back in the truck and had three missed messages.

Our neighbour: "Um hey, so your cat is in our yard and it's bugging my dogs and I don't know what to do. Can you come get it?"

Our neighbours have 3 dogs that are quite frequently in our yard. Our indoor cat is not a fan of that and likes to scowl at them from the window.

So, it seems he snuck out and instead of embracing his freedom and doing normal cat things, he immediately went next door to get revenge. And yes, he chased her dogs and generally caused chaos. Also, we live on the exact opposite side of town than the restaurant we were due at.

Such a jerk.

At least this time we weren't late for dinner due to my horses?

I'm back home Wednesday afternoon and my horsey plans should return to normal. I signed Sophie up for an in hand trail class Saturday morning and I think that will be fun.
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Saturday, 25 May 2019

Days 12&13: Honeymoon's Over

Thursday evening, I kind of ran out of time and was only able to get the chores done and move Sophie to a proper field (life in the round pen is over for the time being. Yay!) It was just as well that I didn't make any bigger plans because between Sophie and her new neighbours, the hormones were running rampant. I've been spoiled with Bridget, I forgot how much I am not a fan of mare-y mares. The universe does like balance, I guess, because Sophie is of the peeing-everywhere-because-I-met-a-new-friend mare variety. Ah well.


Friday, I had a lot more time so Ms Sophie got to go for some longeing again. Her neighbours were hysterical about her leaving and screaming and running around, which didn't make for the most Zen experience as I groomed her and got her ready up at the barn. Sophie was decent, just a little worried. Our walk down the road was a non event - maybe she's the type that is a bit of a worrier but once she's seen it she's fine. Theres a scrap metal recycler and an auto repair place that have tons of scary things and noises but she barely looks any more.

"Something touched me!"

The longeing was a bit more eventful. Like all smart baby horses she decided to see whether she really has to do these crazy things I ask and some opinions were expressed.  We worked on having prompt up transitions, because there was a dog training class with some pretty excitable/loud puppies going on nearby and she desperately just wanted to stop and watch them. Sorry S, I'm supposed to be the most interesting thing in your life! All in all not bad for fourth time ever, I'm not fussed about "mistakes" at this stage, but am a lot more serious about being consistent that checking in for 10 minutes of work a day with me isn't an optional thing :)

Good girl
Yielding that left shoulder away from me. Progress :)
So interested in the puppy party.

Heading home, some bicycles came zipping up behind us and well and truly scared her. I've talked G into bringing his bike next time to ride with and around us so hopefully we can address that with a good experience.

She kind of lost the plot after that and just desperately wanted to het home to her new (now within screaming distance) friends. To give her credit, she was still very polite to lead, just obviously anxious. When we got back, I left her tied at our grooming spot up by the barn while I did chores and her energy levels went back down.


I feel like we're at the stage where she's comfortable in her new home so the true colors are showing themselves a little more. All good though, she's never really difficult or bad (more just obnoxious, lol) I wanted something more energetic and thinking than Bridget, and think with some further experience and miles S is going to be fantastic.
Pay attention in school, Sophie :)





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Thursday, 23 May 2019

Days 10&11

Whoa, this one got a bit wordy! I've reverted to my old ways and have lots of text and no pony pictures from the last two days. Compromise? I have some more pictures from last week I don't think you've seen :)

Day 10 was a work and travel day for me, so the ponies had a day off.

Another ferry ride.

Day 11: I had forgotten my longe line and whip at the club grounds, so that seemed as good a reason as any to take Sophie down there after work to play with a little longeing and groundwork.

I was so proud of her because she walked next to me on our really spooky road and stayed focused on me the whole way. I was able to keep a nice loop in the lead, and she was matching her strides to mine without any reminding.

I really need to trim her pony beard.

We still have quite a bit to work on groundwork wise, though. Like a typical baby horse, she gets a bit insecure or inattentive sometimes and suddenly wants to get into your space. She's not super bad about it, it's certainly not to the extent of bumping into me, but it's there and I want to encourage her to stay confident in her own space. Progress is being made, it's nearly gone when leading her but still reappears when I'm asking her to stand and she's feeling insecure about something...you know how it is, they gradually inch closer and closer if you don't pay attention. So, it's something we work on. She's also a bit sticky about moving her shoulders a la turn on the haunches, the hindquarters/turn on the forehand are 10/10 though :)

"Please we can be friends?"

Related to the insecurity and not giving the shoulders, I also notice her body often wants to be tipped in towards me. I could be wrong but I don't think it's a respect sort of thing...quite the opposite, actually! She's so interested in learning and being good, she always wants to keep an eye on me and so she ends up having her head tipped that bit towards me. Being a baby, sometimes the body wants to follow! I have to be quite conscious of not tightening and influencing her with the lead rope and instead using my body to be assertive about my personal bubble and where I want her to be. The longeing is helping because obviously I'm sending her out and away from me and she needs to be brave out there on the circle all by herself.

Sassy

She's doing great for her third time on a longe line and just one week back in 'work', but she was also considering her options re: forward yesterday and thinking about stopping all the time. She's naturally quite forward thinking, so that was a bit of an interesting development. Smart ponies testing options, I guess. Too bad for her that after Bridget I'm very conscientious about always having a good forward energy.

I think the next logical step with her is ground driving. I look forward to trying that next, once we've really firmed up voice commands on the longe...for now when I longe her I often drive her forward around the perimeter of the arena so we are moving around and not just static on a circle all the time. I'm hoping this will make the transition to ground driving a no brainer for her.

I promise I have a nice leather halter waiting for her...she's not to be trusted quite yet though as far as breaking pretty things.

Tonight after work, the plan is to ride Bridget and Sophie can just tag along and wait in the show stabling. That's historically been a big ask for her - she desperately wants to be part of all our goings on.  Then, I have Fri/Sat/Sun off. I'm loving my summer schedule!


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