Sunday 31 March 2019

Small Wins - February/March

Keeping on with my new tradition of celebrating the small things, here are some recent things that made me happy!

March had so much sunshine. It was definitely appreciated after our long grey winter. G and I had take out dinner and watched the sunset here after I rode this Thursday. So beautiful!

- Recent adversity was a good reminder of how strong and determined I can be and that I need to be more confident in myself and being firm about setting boundaries. Also, that I have a good support network that I can and should utilize before things get so bad.

- Fitness and diet have suffered a little, but I have been getting lots of hiking and gardening done and so my yard and paddock maintenance has been A+. Basically I've been using any excuse to be outside in the sun, but I'm still super motivated to be fit and happy - particularly as I have a pony I'd like to back this fall!

Hiking has been stealing many hours from yoga and the gym. How could I be inside on days like this?

- Calling Sophie in the field now results in her leaving the herd and cantering up to me about 50% of the time. (The rest of the time she walks over) Either way, my inner Black Stallion loving child is delighted :)

- Overcame my worries about an unwanted confrontation and made some decisions about farrier care and boarding. (Of all things horsey, why is hoof care THE hot button topic? Like, it's important, but people don't seem to have nearly such strong opinions and feelings about vet care, nutrition, etc!?)

- Daylight Savings Time.

Daylight savings = trail riding after work!

- In my biased opinion, I think both ponies are looking good despite it being the time of year where they're shedding and muddy.

Joys of owning ponies: We're on month 2 of shedding season, and it still looks like Bridget has plenty of winter coat left.

- Website revamp. Been pondering it for months, and am glad I finally just got it done.

- Another work conference...oh boy do these put me outside my comfort zone. This past one I unexpectedly ended up demoing some things and answering questions from a fairly large group. And  I survived. This is relevant to horses because pretty much the only thing holding me back from doing the testing for my coaching certification is my anxiety about teaching and presenting a lesson plan to a panel of people. So, the more comfortable I can get presenting things confidently, the better!

- Mini hoof trimming clinic with Sophie and she was very patient. In general, her attention span is improving.

I'm generally not a fan of palomino coats, but Sophie's dapples almost make up for it :)

- Have been riding as much as I can, and Bridget came into spring surprisingly fit!

- Set a plan for Sophie's training. Signed up for a bunch of learning opportunities for myself in April too.

The past while ended up more about getting my mental well being back to a strong place and less about definitive progress with the ponies. I've been enjoying some downtime and the opportunity to spend more of my free time pursuing some of my other interests.  An increased horse focus is coming again soon though, and I'm feeling refreshed and ready. We have horsey activities scheduled every weekend in April, and of course I'm counting the weeks until Sophie boot camp!

B is ready and waiting! She lives to boss baby palomino ponies around :D


Wednesday 27 March 2019

March Resources

A short one this month! I've been spending a lot of time outside and in the evenings, seem to have been reading books unrelated to horses. Thanks to all your input re: cameras I've temporarily(?) gone down the rabbit hole of all things photography.

- To start, here's an inspiring, feel good story.

The Double Bridle: An Instrument of Understanding. From Eurodressage, a great in depth look at  history, use, and technique.

These are amazing and I want them. Holly Spagnola Design.

- Check out this blog post outlining exercises From The Queen of Cavalletti. Ingrid Klimke might just be my favorite rider, so I'm going to try these for sure.

- If you're showing in Canada this year it's time to review the 2019 Equestrian Canada rule changes! Here's a handy article from Horse Sport magazine outlining some of the changes that might impact you.

- 'Ride' the 1969 Badminton Cross Country course. You know you want to!

- The Mustang. Looks like it could be good!

- The Greatest Sports Story Never Told. Great article and I'm going to buy the book, because she sounds like a protagonist I could cheer for.  Unbreakable: The Woman Who Defied the Nazis in the World's Most Dangerous Horse Race by Richard Askwith

Tuesday 26 March 2019

Baby Horse Goals

If time is limited I often just pop on Bridget bareback for trail rides and neighborhood explorations. I'm not the best rider in the world, so while I feel secure enough trail riding and doing basic arena work sans saddle, there are situations that leave me feeling a little vulnerable. Luckily, Bridget is the most responsible of ponies and while she's quite capable of throwing in a lot of silly, feel, good antics, she is rock solid when it comes to scary things and real world situations.

Best mare

Like last weekend when a lost(?) street sweeper found us. Early on a Saturday morning, on a very rural, only sort of paved road outside the city limits. Weird, right?

Cleaning the gravel road.

Bridget was like "Large truck coming behind us. Got this." Then "Why is the large truck creeping along behind us so slowly?" Finally, "Wait, that truck is weird. I think it is also throwing rocks everywhere!" And so, I finally listened, looked behind us and pulled her into the nearest driveway, which of course the dog that lives there took offense to. She waited, with big eyes and a tense body, for the truck to pass and watched it spit dust and gravel at our feet, while the dog ran and barked behind us. Then, situation averted, B happily left the driveway and the dog to follow along behind the street sweeper once the way was clear. I let out a big sigh of relief, because even though I trust her, sitting on her without a saddle in a potentially scary situation kind of left me more at her mercy than I might have liked.

Striking a dramatic pose the previous day.

I'm always grateful that Bridget comes with a ton of common sense and is not one to worry too much about life. Bridget came with the whole 'wait and think' attitude towards new and interesting situations, so I can't take much credit for her being so reasonable about them. 

It did get me thinking though, that I'd sure love for Sophie to learn to approach life with a similar mindset. One day, I'd love to be able to hop on her without a saddle, to make mistakes, to not be the best rider in the world, and to not need to worry too much about any of that. She's definitely a bit of a spicy pony, and much more inclined to react a bit randomly if she's unsure, but she's got a good brain in there too and wants to be a good girl, so I think it's doable.

Baby Banana Pony is getting dapples again.

Baby horse goal #1: There's no way you can ever show them everything, control the world around them, and never make a mistake. So, my most important priority in the near future is that I'd like to give Sophie the basic set of tools to handle new and unexpected situations confidently and successfully.

Such concepts start small, though. Currently she is learning that standing tied by herself is something she can do.

We were discussing some similar things this weekend, when someone stated that horses should not be allowed to have opinions on things. My thoughts were that I really want my horses to think for themselves and 'talk' to me and that I actually like it when they've got opinions on things, because I would do well to listen to them. Sometimes it's simply a training opportunity, sometimes it's very valid Bridget with the street sweeping truck...I would have happily kept being the bad horsewoman texting on my phone without a care in the world until we were pelted with rocks, except Bridget very kindly let me know that while she was happy to continue to do her job and walk and share the road with the truck, this was also not a normal truck and that perhaps my input into the situation might be helpful  :) 


Sunday 24 March 2019

A Week In 36 Hours

I'm usually the most spoiled of people. My work schedule is adapted to allow me lots of time at my home a ferry ride away. Its the best of both worlds - a big(ger) city job, plus a west coast lifestyle and a home in one of the last areas that doesn't require you to be a multimillionaire. This past week, though, I had a number of projects on the go and only got a 36 hour weekend turn around at home.

Never fear, I still fit a surprising amount of horse time in! Since I was on the super early Saturday morning ferry I actually had 4 days worth of paddock cleaning done by the time I normally am just showing up at the barn.

Cloudy sunrise on the ferry

Bridget is loving her new and improved giant paddock, so I was half tempted to leave her, but I rode and am glad I did. Spring has sprung and the arena finally lost it's snow cover and we had a good ride. B feels weak and out of shape. Pretty much everything is happening on "vacation time" and not as sharp as I'd hope, but hey, that's my head space too.

B got sweaty so I walked her home and she posed for photos.

I'm grateful for a friend who randomly commented that B is looking really good, and that she's in impressive shape given our surprisingly wintery winter. It's nice to have an outside perspective, particularly as my friend's horse is naturally quite athletic and usually in far better shape than Bridget! I certainly wasn't pushing B at all and was doing a lot in walk, but I got in a zone and ended up working longer than the lessons also taking place. I was happy that we put in a solid 45min and B was still feeling good so I do think we're at a decent starting point to building back up. All those walking miles on the trail all winter honestly got boring to me, but they do help, I guess.

Bareback neighbourhood wandering on a sunny morning.

I'm all excited for spring, so I went home and spent the rest of the afternoon in the garden. I must be getting old, because I really love gardening now and every year it slowly takes over a bit more of my free time. Sneaky garden!

Spring is here...The grass in Bridget's winter paddock is getting greener every day!

Sunday, I rode Bridget again (just a light 45min walk/trot hack on the trail) and got her all set up for my work week ahead (only 3 days away this week, thank goodness). I ordered hay and stacked it, as well as grain for both girls. B eats practically nothing, but with Sophie returning to semi self board I need to stock up - she's got a tb metabolism and eats an incredible amount for a pony.

Growing baby! I really need to measure her again. The other weekend I was saying Bridget seemed smaller than I thought, but rather than Bridget shrinking, I think the more likely truth is that Sophie has grown and my reference points are all messed up :D

Sophie got just the one visit at her farm this week and some hoof trimming practice. Shes feeling a bit rude and sassy, but I'm OK with that...pony boot camp is coming soon and she'll have plenty to do this summer.

Thursday 21 March 2019

Educating Myself

April is going to be kind of fun, I think!

I kick off the first weekend of April auditing a Severin Pederson clinic. Sev is super positive and great with nervous riders and young horses. Since I'm in a baby horse training frame of mind, I'm sure I'm going to pick up some useful tips. I hope to take Sophie to one of his clinics later in the year when she's ready to go a little under saddle. Until then, I watch and I hopefully learn.

Bridget is glad I won't be interrupting her field time with such ambition.

The second weekend of April a barefoot trimming clinician is coming. I've booked a consult for myself and Sophie. Long term, I'm expecting to always use the available farrier, and I'm always open to shoes, but learning and practicing trimming is fun too and will hopefully alleviate my worries when there is not a farrier near to us.

So enthusiastic

The third weekend of April I signed up for a first aid/bandaging clinic. I'm pretty confident I know the basics, but a refresher is always good!

The last weekend of April, I'm planning to move Sophie to Bridget's barn. Yay!

Come on Sophie, let's go!

On the side, I've also signed up for some design courses once a week throughout April and May to (officially) benefit my work, but they will hopefully (unofficially) pay dividends down the road on this blog and the photos I post too.

And, never fear, my favorite person providing equine education is still available and I haven't given up lessons and showing forever. I plan on lessons with EC (my riding coach on the South Coast) making a return later in the summer after her busy competition season has slowed down and my budget is replenished. I'm crossing fingers she can help me get Sophie going in the fall, but even if Sophie is not ready, resuming lessons on Audrey would be good prep for me as well. Ideally, this time next year, I'd like to be planning Sophie's first summer of baby dressage shows and have her boarded with EC so I can take weekly lessons.

Fingers crossed she likes her future job

We're a month away from my new work schedule and a season of baby Sophie boot camp! Poor Bridget will be stuck in the role of babysitter, so expect lots of random outings for her this spring and summer because I'm pretty much going to sign her up for anything and everything available locally so she can drag Sophie with her.

I'm excited, because I actually love introducing babies to the world. It's the 4/5 year old 'why should I?' stage I dislike!

Tuesday 19 March 2019

Environmentally Conscious

I do try to be!

Further to Emma's post, I thought I'd turn it into an informal blog hop and outline how I try to keep my horse's environmental impact to a minimum.

The area I live in is super green and environmentally conscious. It's a beautiful part of the world that has sadly seen more than it's fair share of destruction from the past century of resource based economics. The positive though, is that I think (I hope) we've learned from those mistakes and the research is showing changes made in my lifetime are adding up to things like returning fisheries stocks and forest cover.

This post brought to you by scenic pictures from last week's hiking adventures. This is the Pacific and as you can see we look at a lot of islands here rather than open ocean.

The local residents are unlike anywhere I've ever lived. I got called out by a stranger a couple of years ago for buying a plastic bottle of water, and we'd better not get started on my organic veggie farmer neighbour's opinion of those pressure treated fence posts I bought that one time.

While there are a few things I can do to minimize my horse's impact, there are others I kind of struggle with.
My least favorite walking trail because it seems to be always flooded and it is closest to our house so I have to start the walk in wet shoes. First world problems. It was very pretty this weekend, though.


- I try to buy local hay whenever possible. It's cheaper, the farmer I buy from doesn't put any chemicals on it, and it hasn't been trucked for hundreds of miles. it comes with baling twine, though. I reuse bits of it for all the horsey hacks and repairs we all know and love. I use some in the garden to build  'trellises' for the peas and beans. The remainder goes back to the feed store for recycling, but I have to admit I'm in the dark as to what's actually done with it beyond that.

- Grain bags. I buy the stuff that's made on Vancouver Island and comes in 100% paper bags. I reuse the bags in the garden instead of landscape fabric and also re use them for my super thrifty stash of wood shavings from the local sawmill.


- I use fir shavings from the local mill, so they compost well for gardening and keep the manure pile small (vs cedar, which no one will take for their gardens and is better as a mulch). In the winter I am guilty of buying the pelleted wood bedding to mix in, and so although I use them sparingly, I have about 10 plastic bags from this winter that are currently enjoying a second life as garbage bags.


- Like Emma, I try to keep it to a minimum. I have no clue what to do with the empty tubes, so I throw them in the trash. Bad me. I wonder if the place that takes expired human medications might be worth looking into?
Trail to the beach.

General Horse Gear:

- I have way too much, and after reading about how bad even synthetic fabric waste is in our world, I've been feeling pretty guilty. I've been giving away things I know other people need, and trying to buy good quality items that will last forever rather than cheap, replaceable stuff. I have much room for improvement, general I previously purchased a lot more than I really needed.


- Every place I've ever boarded has been on a well. And so, it's second nature to be aware of what you consume and what is going into the soil. I'm thinking of setting up a rainwater collection in B's paddock...her lean to is attached to the barn and it's all metal roofing. If nothing else, it would save me hauling out the hose to fill her bucket a good part of the year :)

Beach and pier near my work.

General Horsekeeping Considerations:

- Sacrifice paddocks are my friend in the winter. There is no point in trashing the fields. Picking poop all winter to compost for spring and spread in the fall makes for happier fields too.

- I don't ride off the trail or on trails I might damage. I know that might sound weird, but given our terrain, erosion (especially in winter rains) is a thing. Given the large numbers of people out there mountain biking and hiking too I want to keep the trails nice and I want to keep horses welcome on them.

- Keeping Bridget's fields mowed and weed free. Not only helps the fields stay healthy, but helps curb the spread of said weeds and invasives. If left neglected, not only do they spread on their own accord but if Bridget eats the weeds and poops on the trail, boom, potential for spread there too.

- Participate and support local events like Trash Bash (we have riding club team that marks places in the backcountry to clean up)

- I have no idea if this was a good thing or not, but after reading about how in the UK a lot of synthetic footing from arenas is essentially classed as hazardous waste if you ever need to replace it, I've mentioned to our local groups that maybe we should explore that topic further before decisions are made regarding upgrading our existing sand footing.

Lake on my drive home. I had to stop for the rainbow! Off topic: the camera so I can have nicer pictures on this blog is coming! I had a last minute doubt or two about which to order so I decided to look at them in person when we are in the city next.


Sunday 17 March 2019

Just a Trail Horse

I'm pretty sure our arena is the last frozen, snow covered place in the entire region. That's both a good and a bad thing. Bad because Bridget's got energy to burn and is reverting to her pushy pony ways. I find it easier to problem solve those things in the arena where I have space to work on it. On the other hand, being forced out of the arena is a positive because Bridget is easily bored and I should get her out on the trails more than I do.

We got out a few times this past week. A couple of times solo, once with my husband hiking alongside, and once with an unexpectedly big group of people.

The ride with a bigger group was a bit of a challenge for many of the horses, Bridget included. Everyone has a different "normal" when they're out, so while some horses were used to the loose dogs accompanying us, some found that new and exciting. The mini that tagged along caused a few horses to look twice, and couple of the overexcited younger horses had a chain reaction effect on most of the others.

For us, we spend a lot of time hacking solo or in a small group, so B was a bit intimidated with all those other horses. (She's a funny thing...antisocial and independent so she's brave and happy on her own, but gets anxious if she feels crowded in a larger group) As a whole, there was some pretty big, chaotic energy going on, and the experience in handling that was varied.

B is a really solid citizen, and even though she didn't put a foot out of line, the feedback I was getting from her was that she was stressed and unhappy. She felt claustrophobic and wanted to be out in front, away from it all. Unfortunately circumstances meant we compromised on staying behind in our own space, but we still ended up waiting and being crowded and bumped more than she'd prefer. And so, I was super proud of her for listening, keeping a lid on it, and being the good girl she is. I love that she's cool with expressing her opinions, but trusts me enough to keep the conversation a two way one, even when the situation I've put her in isn't as fair to her as it should have been.

Second thought...Everyone who says "oh he's JUST a trail horse" or "I'm only a trail rider". Give yourself more credit! Beyond all the training they need to be solid citizens out there, I'm not sure there is any other riding activity where your horse is going to have to deal with quite so many random things, usually completely out of your control.

Whether it's wildlife, loose dogs that aren't horse savvy, other horses acting up in close quarters, people on motorbikes zipping by unexpectedly, trails being blocked, whatever. I take my job of keeping Bridget confident and happy very seriously and as much as we love the trails, it's the most common place we go where the normal expectations don't apply, usually either due to random bad luck or unintentionally ignorant shared trail users.

I'm glad we have a partnership that allows for us to successfully navigate it all, but I'm not kidding when I say there are days when hitting the trail is a far bigger challenge than eventing or dressage ever was or is for us.


Wednesday 13 March 2019

Blog Hop: My Favorite Event

Thanks to 3DayAdventures for the great blog hop!

Participating in this feels a bit cheat-y since I evented B for about 2 and a half years at the lowest level, and all at venues within our province. I'm not sure I'm a 'real' eventer and certainly don't have a super long list of places to compare to! Still, I feel like the awesome venues and organizers here deserve a shout out, even if it's just from lowly old me!

I went to Rebecca Farm a couple of summers ago to cheer on my barnmates, and I loved it. It was a bucket list thing forever for me to compete there, and if I was more local I'd be making sure it happened. But when we finally drove out there the reality set in. While the venue is of course stunning and everyone loves it, the logistics for us to travel and show there are pretty challenging. It's a long way and a lot of $ for us coastal Canadians to get there!

So, my all time favorite event remains the Campbell Valley Horse Trials! This one is unique because it's actually held at a regional park located in Greater Vancouver. While there are equestrian trails and historic farm sites, it's not your typical eventing facility - there is no permanent stabling and no resident horses. The Metro Vancouver Parks website says the following:

"Sunlight-dappled forests, grassland vistas and wetlands make this regional park great habitat for wildlife, from songbirds to salmon to squirrels and more. The network of trails provide lovely routes for walkers to explore the variety of landscapes, the heritage features and a Nature House. Horse riding is also popular here."

If that description is anything to go by, horse riding is the afterthought :)

Part of the cross country area, which is a hay field too. Photo found here

To the best of my knowledge, there is only the one event a year put on by volunteers, and that's the only time of the year you can camp or keep horses in the park. It's a really lovely park and the volunteers do a fantastic job keeping the XC courses and corrals maintained.

Beautiful trails.Image from here.

Bridget appreciates her tent and grass filled pen, is less impressed with the neighbour behind.

The format is to have dressage on Friday, XC on Saturday, and show jumping on Sunday. So, a full three days. I enjoy the relaxed pace a lot more than the typical events that fit it all into 2 days. 

Show jumping is on grass, B always thinks that's pointless- fields are for grazing.

Camping and amenities are pretty rustic - there is just a big field to camp in. They organize porta potties and a food truck on site, so you can quite easily survive, but quite honestly the park is within a 10min drive of everything so there's no reason you can't head into Langley (a city in it's own right, and also a suburb of Vancouver) for a shower or a nice dinner.

A good part of the reason this one is my favorite is because it's pretty easy to convince my husband to come along and the proximity to everything combined with the easy schedule means we can usually fit in a dinner and movie night and a couple of fun outings elsewhere in the city. One year we went to an afternoon football game downtown after my early morning cross country time.

Our first event! I was sure I was going to die, B looks like she might be starting to figure it out. If I remember right that year we had refusals at the first and second jumps when she was like "Wait!What?" :)

My very favorite part of this event, though, is that pretty much everyone goes. The divisions are usually huge for our area and it's a lot of fun to chat and catch up with everyone you might not regularly see.

Finally, they don't have events, but they should. My favorite 'real' show grounds is TBird. They won me over with the hot showers and laundry even at the off season events we attend, and they won Bridget over with the lovely stalls, all rubber matted with huge banks of shavings included. The grounds are always immaculate and the service is amazing. Surprisingly, for the shows I attend, the fees still are in line with other local venues with far less in the way of amenities.

Actually, checking the schedule,  a person could theoretically attend both Campbell Valley and T-Bird's Summer Fort Classic 4* Grand Prix.

22 minute drive between the two is doable.
Sounds like a road trip to me!

Sunday 10 March 2019

Trail Riding, Farriers, and Having an Actual Job Too

We had a beautiful sunny weekend. It remains unseasonably cold, but the sunshine and dry paddocks are a gift given our normally rainy and muddy spring weather.

The flip side of the sun and cold is that the outdoor arena remains snow covered and icy, and the footing isn't ideal right now in the indoor either. So, I haven't been doing much in the way of proper work with Bridget for the past few weeks. Both girls are shedding like crazy so I'm hopeful warmer temperatures and better riding conditions are coming again soon.

Bridget leading the way on the sunny section of road. The black mare on the left is only just 4 and already super solid - fingers crossed Sophie is half as good next spring!

 We've been hitting the trails a couple of times a week, but again, the shady areas are still quite icy, so it's mostly walking and letting Bridget pick her way carefully through. I'm grateful I don't have any big goals or shows this season...I do miss that and look forward to a return in a year or two, but it's really nice to just make the best of each day without any agendas and to not stress too much about us both being out of shape and out of practice with the spring show season rapidly approaching.

Same ride. It's still quite dark and frozen in the forest!

Across town at the full boarding barn, Sophie continues to be Sophie. Full of life, slightly sassy, impatient, opinionated, yet still so sweet and genuine.

Not Sophie, but how could I resist sharing this picture of Bridget and her adorable bestie? The winter paddocks were redone on Thursday and these two are pretty pleased that they now have a shared fenceline.

I'm learning to trim Sophie's feet thanks the guidance of a couple of more experienced mentors boarding there. One of the drawbacks of keeping horses in this town close to my home is being a ferry ride away from any regular professionals, so it's equally empowering and frightening to take on trimming her. I am learning so much and hope to eventually feel confident enough to do Bridget's in the interim as well. I'm lucky that Bridget is doing OK with the available care, so she's less of a priority than Sophie, who wasn't coping well.

Sophie showing us she has big girl teeth growing in too.

I do have access to an excellent farrier on southern coast, so at whatever point I move one or both ponies back to EC's to resume training and lessons I'll most likely be back to hiring professionals for everything. I think I can learn to do an adequate job, but I'll always defer to a trusted pro if one is available. I like to educate myself as much as I can so it's fun for me to learn to do a basic trim, but I very much like having resources available so I don't need to feel like I have to know everything.  Farrier J who frequents EC's barn is one of those excellent farriers we all wish we had, so it would be silly to not hire her!

I think the biggest benefit to all of this is that Sophie is currently learning a lot in regards to being saintly with her feet. I'm pretty much her worst nightmare as far as needing to be patient goes - it takes me longer to do one foot than could normally be expected for an entire trim. Pretty sure she'll never complain about the real farrier (or standing tied without anyone bothering her) ever again!

Skeptical that tying skills and patience are real things.

I'm heading back Monday morning for a short work week on the south coast. Home again late Wednesday night, so no barn time until Thursday evening...such is my standard winter schedule.  I know May is still a couple of months away, but now that I have my revised summer schedule planned and approved I'm beyond excited for May to arrive and to have 5 days a week with time to ride. I'd never complain about my current 4 day work week though! I feel a little guilty modifying it further for summer. But, I guess this is a good reminder that it never hurts to ask for what you want. My work was more than happy to accommodate my wishes to allow me time to  be a part time amateur horse trainer for the summer ;)

At least the winter sunrise ferry rides are always scenic.

Friday 8 March 2019

I Have A Plan

I'm planting as many seeds for success as I can right now.

I think I mentioned here before that I'm unsure about backing Sophie myself. I know technically I've done it before and could do it again, but mentally I am not as brave as I once was and my fantastic little horse does not need that baggage.

Plus, sh!t sometimes happens despite my best efforts.

I've been waffling back and forth on it for a bit now, because sending her away involves finding someone I can trust implicitly, and eventually there is always going to be a first ride with me up there! In a perfect world I'd send her for 30 days under saddle this fall, then turn her back out a the big farm for a winter of light (20-30min walking) trail rides before getting a little more serious when she turns four. That plan means I'd have to book her spot at the trainer's soon because the good ones are booking several months in advance and the person I have in mind is away wintering in California every year. I worry she might not be mature enough by fall and I'll regret booking it. I also worry that she might be, and might be super bored if I don't plan ahead and book it.

Mentally, she is more than ready to have more of a grown up job. Physically, she's got some maturing to do.

Sometimes the simplest option is the way to go.

I'm going to move her back to Bridget's barn in May so I can work with her more easily. May also coincides nicely with when the horses at B's barn go out to their summer paddocks, so I won't need to worry about Sophie not having enough space to run and play and causing the barn owner angst with her energy levels. As an added bonus, moving Sophie back to self board with Bridget decreases her monthly bill to a fifth of what it is now. (So I can save more for future training and lessons!)

Sophie having a sleepover at Bridget's last fall. Bridget actually sharing her food is an indication she thinks the kid is alright, but this winter paddock situation didn't last too long before Sophie was chewing fences and digging holes and generally being bored and destructive. I moved her to her current farm with 20 acres of year round fields to preserve everyone's sanity!

Part two of my plan: I have quite a bit of vacation time and my work will let me take it in hourly increments. The summer ferry schedule also works in my favour. So I've booked all or part of Wednesday afternoons off for May through August. That small change in my schedule gives me four months of being able to ride 5 days a week and also makes my weekly commute a lot more bearable.

The instant we discussed it, I knew this plan felt right.  This way I am not committing Sophie to any schedule and can do as much or as little with her this summer as we both need. Worst case, she's too immature and I have extra beach and gardening time and 5 days of riding Bridget a week all summer while I pony Sophie - a pretty solid option! Realistically, it would be pretty cool if Sophie simply got to go everywhere with Bridget all summer and got a ton of exposure to all the things.

Besties. I think they'll be happy to be reunited.

As a stretch goal in the back of my mind, I am hoping the transition from ponying her everywhere to popping on now and then for a quick trail loop closer to the fall won't be a big deal for either of us. If I'm still not feeling it, I feel pretty confident Sophie will have enough of an education and have seen enough of the world that taking her down the coast to EC's for a baby under saddle boot camp next winter wouldn't be too stressful for anyone.

She keeps Bridget more active when they live together, too. 

I like that taking this route gives Bridget an important  job again. She actually enjoys showing Sophie the ropes and they work well together. I know I joke about Bridget's lack of a work ethic, but she is a very people oriented pony and does like getting out and about more than she currently does.

Now that I've (finally) come to a decision, I'm excited!