Thursday 28 February 2019

Sunshiney Day

Nothing much to see here...except I went for a ride after work AND IT WAS LIGHT OUT. Bring on spring! :)


Wednesday 27 February 2019

Viva Carlos Blog Hop: Ideal Day

Thanks LWilliams for the blog hop!

I've sort of cheated and just used my current average "Ideal Day In The Life". Depending on the time of year, what I want to fill my day with can change. Some things remain consistent though:

Ideal Days DO NOT include:

- My job
- Drama
- Schedules
- People I don't like

Ideal Days consistently DO include:

- Horses, preferably 3-4 hours of uninterrupted time.
- Time with my husband (he works shift work and I work away from home several days a week - so we can go a couple of weeks at a time without a day off together)
- Outdoor time. Hiking, swimming, gardening, riding,depending on weather and season.
- Time to myself. Reading, watching online media, etc.
- Time with friends. Maybe lunch or a coffee, maybe meet for a ride.
- Cooking at home. I actually like it.

I'm lucky in that I have three days off a week, and usually am successful in keeping Fridays a 'me' day that almost always loosely follows the above. Husband G is often not available, so sometimes I am doing things solo or subbing in friends, but generally speaking I do get at least one nearly Ideal Day a week. Lucky me! :)

Tuesday 26 February 2019

Growing a Backbone (slowly)

The barn has been a bit of a stressful place of late. Its not due to any one thing necessarily, just a bunch of little "mean girl" type things. I'm doing my best to be an adult and deal with everything fairly and immediately, rather than my introvert default of hiding and nurturing hurt feelings. Its hard though...inside I know what I want and am probably stubborn to a fault, but I'm also the person who is just overly nice and then walks away and does their own thing rather than actually just dealing with confrontation and resolving whatever bothered me. Changing patterns is hard!

I'd never say being kind is a mistake, but using it as an excuse to not be more assertive when needed probably is.
Fingers crossed, I've effectively communicated some boundaries, and will keep my head down and mind my own business. I'll do my best to not hold grudges (another thing I need to work on, lol) I love how this is probably stuff every adult human deals with in life, but for me it took people messing with my happiness at the barn to finally get proactive about it :) Dealing with it head on didn't come easy to me, but I feel better knowing I've tried.

The snow is finally melting!

My rides on Bridget have been pretty "meh". She's feeling out of shape and all discombobulated again. I've never had a pony where it was quite so important to keep her working properly...long rides out on the trail are fine, but too much of that and she starts to forget how to carry herself in the arena.  I guess I've always been lucky in that my previous rides have maintained a decemt fitness base even without much focused help from me. The days are getting ever longer though, so fingers crossed we'll get Dressage Bridget back with more dedicated work.

One of the few rides on B where I thought I might actually die. She was feeling very playful, but the snow was icy underneath and honestly she's a clumsy creature at the best of times!

I'm also thinking she's due for another check of those hocks, and a visit from the saddle fitter. We might not have any big show plans this spring, but that's no reason to put off the little things or not try to be our best selves.

B attempting to help me muck her paddock.

Sophie...little Ms Sophie did me proud this weekend. I'm at the very beginning stages of learning to trim her feet, and therefore she needed to stand tied patiently and bear with me working on her (and the two people teaching me) off and on for well over an hour on Sunday. I think she tried to take her foot back from me once in all those minutes of me fumbling around and got lots of compliments on her manners.
Pretty sure I've used this one of Sophie and her herdmates before, but I neglected to take any pictures of her this weekend!

She apparently can be a bit of a naughty girl at times, but I've yet to see it so I'm not sure what I can do about it. I suspect she's just being a baby and testing boundaries. Her and I probably figured our whole dynamic out a while ago, because from my viewpoint she's been super easy and hasn't even hinted at anything really "bad".  I hope the more people she deals with, the more she realizes the same basic rules apply for all humans.


Sunday 24 February 2019

February Resources

 It's already that time again!  Here's my monthly round up of all the horsey media I've bookmarked this month:

-A Horse On The Roof? Horse and Hound's weekly wrap up of great social media posts...some are inspiring, some had me laughing.

-5 Dressage Tips From The Masters. Excellent article courtesy of Practical Horseman, and found via a link shared by The Printable Pony. Thanks Tracy!

-Tempo Vs Rhythm. I, for one am guilty of having to ponder a little to long when my coach asks for a change in tempo/rhythm/cadence. This article by Heather Blitz recaps the difference and what is desirable in training and riding both.

-These saddle pads, and the company in general.  They're so far beyond my budget it's not even funny, but I almost want a dog so I can buy one of the coats they sell. Or, hey, I'd settle for this gorgeous wool saddle pad: 

 -Livin' Eventing Have I mentioned I love this new site? Everything from dressage tests to event calendars to blogs. It's also run by a wonderful person well deserving of your support. In the same vein, I just discovered The Gaitpost and am quite enjoying their articles, interviews and product reviews. Check out the Gaitpost YouTube channel for some good content too!

Handy chart, because it's that time of year with the weather and turnout.
-Vaqueros, Dressage, and Bitless, oh my! A great discussion on CoTH forums regarding the different goals of different styles of riding - and the similarities too. I know I've had trouble before explaining to my western buddies why I ride with contact and how it's not pulling, it's actually very similar to the "soft feel" they look for.

-The Essential Hoof Book. I've been rereading this one. I don't know if I ever gave it a proper review the first time around, but it's excellent. I'd highly recommend ot because everything is explained and illustrated well enough anyone can understand, but it also goes into enough detail that I think even more experienced people might pick up a few things. I appreciate that this book doesn't really push any specific agenda, it just does a good job of explaining the anatomy, disease, and the how's and why's of trimming and hoof care.

-Why Cross Country Becomes Dangerous Lots to think about in this article and instinctively I feel like the thought that some horses are out there galloping in a conditioned "flight state" might bear some consideration and investigation.

-Snaffles now optional to CDI 2* level.

Read or viewed anything interesting lately? Feel free to share!  My commute for work is long and I'd love to check out your recommendations!


Friday 22 February 2019

Hansbo Saddle Pad Review

I bought this pad on a too good to be true Amazon sale a few months ago.

It checked all the boxes for the discerning saddle pad shopper that I am:

- Available in pony dressage size
- On sale for less than $40
- Available in Navy

The manufacturer, however would like us to know this saddle pad has much more than that going for it:

From the Hansbo website:

"HS IC SADDLE PAD Dressage and jumping saddle pad with channel stitched lining in infused ceramic polyester, which prevents chafing and has the unique property that it increases blood circulation during use. The ceramic matter is fused into every fibre, unlike similar products, which means that function is not adversely affected after washing. The filling in the saddle pad is 5 mm foam and 550 g/m2 polyfill, making this one of the market’s most stable saddle pad. Edging in the same colour as the channel stitched cotton quilt. HANSBO SPORT logo in silicone to counteract the saddle pad moving during use. Two edgings in gold or silver, with Velcro fastener for saddle girth. Embroidered HS logo in gold or silver. Wash at 40 °C / 104 °F. "

Whoa. Sounds fancy!

Now that it's been in regular use and been washed a few times I figure it's time for a proper review.

This pad still looks brand new, despite me using it multiple times a week, not giving it any special care and washing it in cold water. It looks and feels well made. I like the lack of excess keepers, love the Velcro for the girth. As the owner of a round pony, I can confirm this pad does not slip and keeps my saddle very stable.  I love the dark navy color, and like the general look and feel of this pad. I've had a ton of compliments on it.  The cut is good for my dressage saddle, with just the right amount of fabric in front and behind the saddle. It seems to wick well too, Bridget has been pretty sweaty, but stayed dry under the saddle. Finally, the outer fabric seems to be good at repeling dust and tack lives with my hay storage and my blankets and pads can get grimy just being in there. This one dusts right off to look presentable with minimal effort.

If you've used the Back on Track pads, this one has a similar weight to it. Not heavy by any means, but much more substantial feeling than your average pad.
The "channel stitched lining" on the underside might be part of the reason this pad wicks well...but those channels are also a great place for dirt and hair to accumulate.

Don't love:
The drop could have been more, but it's not the manufacturer's fault my pony is built more like a corgi and my saddle flaps are way too long for us both. I probably need a cob size pad -something in between pony and horse.  I don't love the bright yellow logo's a bit too big and obvious for my tastes.

Overall: This has been my go to pad all fall and winter. It's thick enough to maintain its shape, seems pretty tough and well made, and stays secure under my saddle. I can't speak to any magical results from the ceramic, but Bridget is normally quite good through her back and is maybe not the best tester of such things. As you can tell by my  initial shopping checklist, I've never been too fussy about pads, but this one has impressed me. Since I'm pretty sure this pad is going to last forever, I guess I don't need another, but if I did I wouldn't hesitate to buy it at full's that much better than my other pads, and IMHO, nicer quality than the current trendy Lemieux ones and the BoT ones in the same price range.

The black one IS pretty though...


Wednesday 20 February 2019

Livin' Eventing

Just thought I'd share this brand new site with you all. It features a lot of positive messages and the main writer, Liv, promises plenty of insight into life as an up and coming professional rider. There also look to be some super guest bloggers lined up, plus lots of useful documents like event calendars and dressage tests.

I used to ride with Olivia when she was a working student at my coach's barn. She's an amazing rider and an even better person. She moved to the UK two years ago to pursue her dreams of eventing for Canada and she's one of the hardest working people I know. She's well deserving of any support and website clicks you can direct her way!


Tuesday 19 February 2019

Changes...(of the website variety)

Please forgive any ongoing changes to this site...there are a few minor tweaks I'll likely be making in the next couple of weeks, but this new look and feel will likely remain for the foreseeable future.

Most notable among the changes is likely that I've changed the name and web address of the blog. The previous Project Gingersnap links should all bring you here, and all content since 2012(!how have I been blogging this long?!) should all still be accessible here, so no worries, this isn't a total fresh start where I've deleted any of the blog's history.

This blog started as a way to document my adventures with my Welsh Cob mare, Ginger, and was titled as such. It's been a few years since then, and much has changed. After a few years of being leased to my coach, Ginger moved on to a new and fantastic home. Bridget, my second cob mare has been my main riding horse for several years now, and of course we introduced Sophie, my GRP youngster just last year. In short, I feel writing as Project Gingersnap lost it's relevance and I was well past due to update to something more current.

See, it's still me ;)

I hope you all don't mind the changes and will stick with me for future fun and adventures with my wonderful ponies!

Monday 18 February 2019

Third Winter

So, horses. Yes! I've been getting lots of barn time in this week.

Mucking paddocks in the icy snow, packing water = lots of barn time!

Riding? Not so much. The snow will not go away and is mostly ice at this point due to days of torrential rain melting and freezing on top of it. I keep planning to at least head to the indoor, but the road is still unplowed and IMO too busy to be safe leading or riding a horse on when the driving conditions are so dismal.

The trails behind our house are beautiful right now, but the snow is over my knees so my walks are extra intense :)

My daffodils WERE blooming. It will be interesting to see how the snow affects the spring garden plants.
The clinic this weekend was cancelled, and I'm not actually sure why. The main roads are good and it was supposed to be indoors.  Fingers crossed it was just being conservative with the weather and they'll reschedule - I was looking forward to it! 

Sophie is happy tho. Because Sophie is always happy!

Bridget is bored, and has opened the gate twice this week to self exercise herself. She's cute and just putters around the barn and property, going nowhere fast, so we don't mind too much. I find it amusing how much she grumbles about work, but leave her for a week and she's itching to get back out and at it! I had no idea she even knew how to let herself seems she's been saving that trick!
Excuse the filters on these pics...the sky is actually dark and rainy and that contrasting with the snow made the horses disappear using the standard picture on my phone.

I'm taking the plunge and learning how to do Sophie's feet all on my own. I've been playing a bit with it between her regular trims, and now the more educated ladies at the barn have offered to help me. Very kind of them!

There's been some undesirable barn drama lately that's really bothering me and kind of sucking the joy from things. I'm feeling extra motivated to get back out and about doing fun things :)


Wednesday 13 February 2019

Need a New Blanket? Good Sale

ETA: I was strongly considering ordering a second Horseware blanket, but they've gone back to "only" 20% off this afternoon. It looks like the Weatherbeeta ones are still 50% though. Sorry if I got you excited and the one you wanted isn't available anymore!

It's that time of year...Bridget's cheap winter rainsheet is filthy and starting to get leaky.

I just upgraded her to a new Amigo Bravo turnout from here, and thought I'd share because they have some killer deals right now. ($83 CAD to my door for the one I chose, reg price on Canadian websites anywhere from $170 - $200 CAD)

The majority of the nicer blankets are 50% off and the Horseware ones ship free with a coupon code. I've bought from this store before and can recommend them.

Link to turnout blanket page.

Oh..and if you're looking for a new saddle, there are quite a few, including new Stubbens, at 50% off. I'm tempted - the one I had previously for Bridget was my favorite ever (until she fell on it and twisted the tree, rendering it unusable)

Monday 11 February 2019

Snow Week?

OK, it was fun when it was just a couple of days of snow, but now I'm reconsidering! We had another storm come in and bring yet more snow and I've been basically trapped at home for the last 24 hours, stressing about not being able to get to work and whether I really filled B's water bucket full enough on my last visit and whether she's drinking enough.

Frozen farm
More snow is predicted for later in the day and all day tomorrow, then again Thursday so I might as well just book vacation time because I don't think my work commute will be happening this week! The water bucket issue I will solve this afternoon, I hopefully have a plan to get some additional big buckets of warm water to her.

Been packing water to her using her grain bucket, which is inconvenient for me, and quite confusing for B!

I know the "real" winter places like to make fun of us out here, but seriously, we are wimps in the winter. I don't have heated buckets or really any winter strategy for the horses...typically we get a day or two of cold a handful of times mid winter and then it's warm again, so it's not a big deal. Also, having lived elsewhere I've got to say there's something different about the snow or road maintenance here because it snows and it basically becomes an instant sheet of ice on the roads.

Ice skating potential under the layer of snow. I stopped to take this picture on the road to the barn and my first attempt caught someone oncoming sliding off the road. I deleted the evidence because he was embarrassed (his truck is way bigger and better equipped than mine, lol) and also I'm nice like that ;)

The bad news is that even when I have been able to get to the barn, I haven't been able to ride much, so I'm really not in any way prepared for the clinic next weekend. I've never been a big believer in practicing for clinics because I'd rather just let the clinician see a normal day in the life, but this is taking things to a new extreme - it's been to icy to even safely walk down the road to get to the indoor the past week, too icy to safely ride at all, really.

B would still like to be entertained, please and thank you.

That being said, of course I went out yesterday morning for a 90 min ride on the trails and pretty much regretted the whole thing. The footing sucked and B was stir crazy and prancy and not being at all careful, so there where several times we were sliding up and down hills or really scrambling to keep footing. When I turned around to head back I opted for some of the more sheltered trails in the forest, but the wind suddenly got super crazy and there were snow heavy trees and branches cracking and falling all around us. Also, some odd howling noises around us at one point - the person I was with was like "Not what you're thinking! It's owls, definitely owls!' but I think we were both thinking "Wolves!" Obviously that didn't add any warm fuzzies to our adventure and the horses were getting pretty upset. It honestly felt like we were in some horror/fantasy movie (snowstorm, deep dark isolated forest, horseback, wolves?!), and not in a good way! Luckily, we all made it home safe and no "owls" made themselves known.  I feel better knowing I at least tried to give B a bit of an outing, but I'm not sure I'll be repeating that adventure soon.

Trying to look all innocent, was actually quite willing to ditch me and leave me to the wolves ;)

* I feel like I should explain the wolves - yes, we have them, yes there is a known pack in the area I ride. We hear them the odd time, and they're blamed for the odd person's pet disappearing, but generally speaking sightings are very rare and they keep to themselves and are not something any trail user should worry too much about.


Saturday 9 February 2019

Snow Day

*Don't hate me too much for being snows here maybe once a year and my PTSD from prairie winter life seems to have vanished. I used the remote start on my truck this morning for the first time in 3 years and it was kind of exciting, lol.

The sad part about coastal snow is it's all melty pretty much right away and it's too icy and slippery to ride the horses have had school cancelled :)

Snow day!

I still went to visit my giant Golden Retreiver and my visit did not disappoint. Sophie is good for a smile. It really is like having a big dog, because she's always so excited to see me and loves ear scratches like no other horse. That, and the nonstop attempts at face licking, which is actually kind of gross and not something I'd let my dog do so why I give her a pass sometimes, I don't know. We're probably the stuff of nightmares for the people who enforce sensible things like boundaries :D

To think anyone was ever worried about her being in a giant field. The problem is not catching her, its keeping her away!

"Go away, pest!":

Stirring up sh!t. Trying to get a cute picture of the barn owners horse sleeping, so of course S had to try to be in it. Short answer is no, he does not want to play with you right now, Sophie.
I always find it a bit amusing that after I give in and take her into the barn and groom her, when put her back out, 99 times out of a hundred she tries to follow me back into the barn. This pony can never have enough attention, it seems.

Some days I wonder if she knows this barn is temporary and I'm going to take her home to Bridget eventually. There's certainly that whole dropped my reluctant kid off at preschool energy going on.


Finally, my attempts to take pictures of the other horses:

This isn't working for me, Sophie.

I tried really hard to get a cute picture of the barn owner's horse. When I got home it became apparent my picture isn't quite right, lol. Unless you're into balancing tiny Arabian mares on your sleeping gelding? Then I guess it's kind of cool :D


Monday 4 February 2019

Small Wins - January

I've certainly turned a corner on the whole getting back to feeling good path, but January had a couple of major personal developments and resulting setbacks. I have to admit a lot of January was simply an exercise in putting one foot in front of the other. I feel a bit lost, but I have started to make some small plans for the future and so it seems I am slowly finding a path forward I want to take.

And so, my small wins for the last month are smaller than ever, but I feel like the effort put in to achieve them was substantial and therefore I will be proud of them :)

My small wins for January include:

- Signing up for a clinic. I knew this would force me to stay consistent in my riding and Bridget's fitness.
B's getting chunky again.

- Renewed all my equestrian memberships. Keeps me involved and encourages me to participate in horsey events.

- 30 days of yoga challenge. I stuck with it, even on the days I really didn't want to. And I'm definitely less stiff and sore and a little bit stronger too. It was tempting to take a break Feb 1st, but I started a new one and I'm going to keep the momentum going for another month - I really do think it's helping my riding and general wellbeing.

- Pitchfork repair. LOL, duct tape actually worked!

Bonus style points for purple owl tape?

- Sophie. I had plans, and I let them slide. So, she got a good grooming, a short walk around the property, and lots of treats a couple of times a week and beyond that has just been running around growing up. She was also SUPER for the farrier on her last appointment. That's all a win, because truly, as a two year old, growing up and being reasonably good to handle is all she really needs to be doing right now.

Loves ear scratches

- Bridget. Has been getting out riding 3-4 times a week, and is feeling pretty good. My distraction with other things is actually making our rides really quite positive and good. I'm less apt to be so focused on trying to make everything 'correct' and I'm learning that might actually be a good thing!
B's friends are adorable.

- My fitness/health. In addition to yoga, I've been hiking 3 days a week, usually for a couple of hours at a time. Sometimes with my husband, sometimes with a pony, sometimes we all go together. I'm also back to counting calories and restricting the eating out to once a week.
Sophie always comes running, so there are no long pasture walks for exercise for me.

- Financial planning. I got a small raise Jan 1st and took inspiration from other bloggers (most recently, Cob Jockey) and sat down and used that raise to create savings accounts with auto deposits for some of the big expenditures I'd like to make. I've now got a savings account accruing a bit of money every paycheque for tack and training for Sophie, and a further separate one for a trailer. After a lot of back and forth, I've simply decided to buy a new trailer because they hold their values so well around here. And so, I'm saving pennies. It's not much, but every bit that I can save and pay cash for helps and I feel a lot more positive about making all the things happen in a reasonable time frame.