Tuesday 30 April 2019


I caught this creepy dude watching us from the bushes this weekend:

Can't decide if he's sort of cute or just incredibly creepy. I am sure Bridget gets a free pass the next time she spooks at a stump though...this thing is set a bit off the trail and has probably been watching us a good long while. I may or may not have let out a tiny scream when the light caught my eye just so and I turned around and saw it.

Friday 26 April 2019

April Resources

Welcome to yet another edition of my favorite things for the past few weeks! 

- Trailforks. I love this website and the app. Pretty much every trail in our local area is on it, along with trail conditions, elevations, difficulty, and distance. Our backcountry is a maze of trails and you could literally go for weeks, so having a reliable map is nice peace of mind for me when I'm out exploring. Plus, it's perfect for planning rides!

- Groundwork For Your Dressage Horse. Of interest to me, because I might just happen to have a baby pony I'm aiming towards a dressage career.

Camelina Oil. I added 2tbsp/day of this to Bridget's diet a month or so ago and her coat looks so much better! I went with this vs flax/flax oil because it stores a lot better and I only have 2 ponies so it takes a while to use even a small amount! I'm excited to see how she looks once she's done shedding.

- Horses Can't be Our Only Therapy. Via The Plaid Horse and Lauren of She Moved To Texas. Well worth a read.

- Hackett Equine. YouTube lovers might enjoy this channel. I like the common sense advice mixed with insights into a day in the life of a horse professional. The videos are well put together and I'm honestly surprised she doesn't have more subscribers.

- Behind The Stall Door With Honor Me. I love this horse, he's a 5* eventer, and there is a local connection. Plus he's half Welsh Cob. What's not to like?

- LRK3DE. I can watch Not Rolex and Honor Me from home. Perfect!

- This saddle pad. I'm intrigued. It might be nice for summer, and it's only $40 CAD.


Thursday 25 April 2019

Visiting Old Friends

One more pic of Bridget from the weekend, just because I'm loving them :)

Tuesday morning, while I was sitting at my desk wondering what mistakes in life led me to working in an office on such a gorgeous day, one of my old barn mates from the area sent a text hoping I might want to come for a ride later in the day and help her get some horses exercised. Yes please! I'm totally up for a surprise bonus sixth consecutive day of riding!

You might remember my very favorite Q Mare from the eventing barn...she's a big grey eventing machine that I used to hack out regularly, so we are old friends. I popped on her for some hill work and remembered all the reasons I love her - bold, powerful, and so very forward. And, rock steady. She's one of my favorites for sure, despite being rather oversized for me.

Such a pretty girl. She's 16.3hh which is much bigger than the 14hh pony I'm used to :)

Could not persuade her to put her ears up for you. Tacking up time = sleepy time, apparently.

As an extra special treat, Ginger and her new owner came along too! So cool to see them both. I'm so grateful Ginger ended up where she has - she's got the best owner and the best life and I can still see her sometimes too.

I even took a minute to say hi to my other favorite mare, Audrey. I haven't had a dressage lesson since Christmas, and Audrey being Audrey probably thinks that's just fine. She's not the cuddly affectionate sort pining for my company. I'm in money saving mode, so this whole not seeing each other anymore thing is probably best for both of us, lol.

The bittersweet part of today's story is that Q Mare's owner and best barn rat has a too good to pass up job offer in Ireland at a well known eventing yard and will likely be leaving soon to pursue some big dreams. I'm so excited for her, but I will miss her too! I was kind of hoping she'd still be around when I eventually bring Sophie down and have her in training (and myself back in lessons).

Of course, big changes like that mean Q Mare has also sold. She's going to a great home, but I won't lie, I've had a bit of a fantasy for a while now where I somehow managed to buy her, so I was a bit sad knowing this was likely my last ride on her.

Since my other favorite previous barn mate is also riding professionally in Ireland, you can be sure I'll be following the Irish event calendar from afar and cheering everyone on! I don't know about you, but even though my goals and dreams differ I find it super inspiring to see these girl's dedication and determination in going after what they want from life.


Wednesday 24 April 2019

5 Days Of Riding: Part 3 (The Rest)

On Sunday, I had absolutely nothing horsey planned, and halfway contemplated taking a break. But, we went for a walk to the beach in the morning, and as always happens when we walk human-only trails I was wishing I could bring a horse!

I stopped in at the barn and Bridget said she was bored, so that was the last bit of motivation I needed to go for a ride. I thought she might be a little stiff or tired from Saturday's exertions so we walked down to the arena grounds for a leg stretch. Bridget had other ideas, though, and put on a bit of a show in the round pen there. She's got bottomless energy these days, apparently.

Such a pity she's not totally on board for the dressage game.

Showing off and having fun. I wasn't asking for any of this, but she was pretty pleased with herself, so why not.

G and I drove out to see Sophie later in the day, but sadly no pictures for you because it was getting dark out by then. I love visiting her, but the reality is she's a pretty happy little thing and doesn't need much. So, for now I save the gas money and time and check in once or twice a week. When she moves "home" in mid May for baby pony bootcamp she'll be a pretty regular feature here again, I'm sure.

Monday was my final day off work, and saw me seriously contemplating my life choices. Why am I not wealthy and spending all day, every day riding? Oh, that's right...because I seem to have a habit of prioritizing my non work life and sacrificing income, and therefore any hope of ever being rich. Ah well, there's always lottery tickets, I guess :)

So cute. I'm totally biased, but seriously, who wouldn't want to stay home from work and hang out with her?

Very non exciting, but all the adventuring all weekend meant I had a few wheelbarrows of poop waiting for me in the paddocks. By the time I was done, that and the grey, cold weather had kind of sapped my motivation. Never fear though, once again Bridget was waiting at the gate and eager to get out.

Are you kidding me right now Bridget?

 This time I just led her around the neighbourhood and hand grazed her in the prime spots...I was tired and my body is not used to 5 full days in a row of hiking and riding!

Hope you enjoyed your weekend as much as I did!


Tuesday 23 April 2019

5 Days Of Riding: Western Games Day

I've got to admit, I was kind of nervous Saturday morning. I knew it was a pretty informal fun day and that I'd most likely enjoy myself, but lurking in the back of my mind were all the what if's, given this was a new thing to try and especially given Bridget's recent rambunctious behaviour. Confidence issues stink...my mind had taken a few "exciting" rides and turned it into a thing where galloping Bridget felt like it might not be safe anymore.

So cute, though.
I had to give myself a little pep talk, especially once I hopped on and B was once again spooking, scooting and generally looky and generally not steering and stopping as well as you might hope. These cobs are fun, but they're also quite quick and very powerful feeling when they're "on".

Scurry race. B was feeling ambitious.

And, it all worked out just fine. Better than fine, actually. Bridget actually won the keyhole and scurry races, which was more than slightly shocking given she's not what I'd call fast! I guess she does have a big stride though, and is pretty quick through turns.

Winner winner

A riding acquaintance wasn't having as much fun as me and needed to hop back on and finish on a good note, so I took the opportunity to call it a day and head for a quiet trail ride with her. I felt a little bad leaving halfway through because I appreciated the organization that went on to coordinate the event, but I think we've all been the person having a not so great experience and trail rides are always fun too.

This trail always makes me feel like I'm in some fantasy movie. The trees are huge and gorgeous and it's very peaceful.

We got back just in time for the first aid and wrapping clinic. Poor B was still not tired out and had a bit of a tough time standing for 2.5 hours of demos and talks, so I'm actually starting to wonder about her. We were out from 9am to 5pm, with about 4 hours of saddle time and she still was impatient and jumpy and spooky all the way home. Very, very unlike her.

Learning how to do a hock wrap.

At any rate, the wrapping clinic was good. I didn't do pony club or any kind of organized learning as a kid, so I often feel like there are gaps in my knowledge. Most of the things demo'd were familiar to me, but it was cool adding some additional tips and tricks from a pro groom. I tend to use boots for everything, so it was good practice to do shipping wraps and polos and have someone super experienced check them.

 All in all, it was a super long, but enjoyable day. It felt a little unreal to still have two more days of adventures planned before I had to return to work!


Monday 22 April 2019

5 Days Of Riding: Part 1

Five days in a row at home meant I had quite a bit of pony time this week. So appreciated! Even though I see the horses all the time and ride fairly regularly, more is always better.

Thursday was my first day off and I was less appreciative of the weather. The day was dark, cold and rainy. West coast winter had temporarily returned. Carrying on from last week, Bridget was very VERY sassy, to the point I didn't think hacking down the road was wise or safe. I rarely get that feeling from her, so longeing or round penning before a ride is a once every six months sort of thing and not a normal part of our routine.

I made the right call, because B was on fire and many ridiculous opinions and not so athletic maneuvers were expressed. By the time she was listening and done with all the silliness and playing, she was pretty tired and sweaty, so I just groomed an extra wheelbarrow of winter coat off of her and put her back out.

Honestly, I wasn't looking forward to putting my butt in a wet saddle and all the associated tack cleaning that comes from riding nasty weather anyhow.

Friday, the weather was much improved and I thought it might be wise to get her down to the exhibition grounds and actually ride her because we had a games day and first aid clinic scheduled there the following day. I didn't want to bring a stir crazy Bridget and replicate Sophie's antics at the farrier clinic the weekend prior. I don't have a lot of pride, but I didn't want to be the star of the show for all the wrong reasons two weeks in a row :)

B was feeling her best, and a rather interesting rodeo was had. On a related note, I can say I've tested my new breeches thoroughly and can recommend silicone full seats if you're looking for something to lock you in the saddle.

I never did get to the bottom of her energy level.  Who is this pony?

Sunday 21 April 2019

From The Vault: 62

A short one this week as I continue to clean up my drafts folder. This one was started summer of 2015. It looks like some things never change :)

Bridget warmed up last night feeling a little sluggish - kind of surprising considering she'd just had 3 days off.

Not so surprising when my coach mentioned the cover accidentally got left off the slow feeder the night prior and piggy pony ate 62 pounds of hay (an entire bale) overnight.

Friday 19 April 2019

This Could Be Interesting

I've signed Bridget and I up for a western games day this weekend. Given her recent energy levels and my current lack of appropriate tack, this could be a completely disastrous and hilarious mistake. Fingers crossed, we will stay on the fun side of exciting. Certainly, it will be interesting, as it's a first for her, and a first for me in many, many years. I'm going to have to review patterns tonight, I think.

Skeptical pony. 

You may be pleased to know the games run from 10-2, then we have an equine first aid  and bandaging clinic next door at 2:30. Seems like a well planned day to me - at the very worst, I will have at least 5 people on standby with vet wrap and other first aid supplies should I require help recovering from my adventure into western games ;)


Tuesday 16 April 2019

Farrier Clinic, Sophie Style

We had a consult with a farrier clinician this weekend, which was interesting and fun. I highly recommend the format if you're at all interested. I pick my farrier's brain all the time, but it was pretty cool to have someone more accustomed to teaching come out. I felt like a lot of the info was still way over my head, but there was good news - the farrier was really happy with Sophie's feet and the work we have been doing. The take home of the day for me was basically that I can be more confident and take her toes back further than I have been, but to otherwise follow my instincts, because her feet look good and she's growing into herself as she should.

In other news, Sophie just couldn't bring her energy level down and was a bit of a nightmare to deal with. I was unaware it was a clinic format with auditors and such, so I was surprised when a number of people came and parked themselves all over the barn and around Sophie. I think that added to her anxiety. She's a very social creature and I think had a lot of questions as to who all these people were! Now and then, there were a few audible gasps from the audience at my lovely pony's more extreme measures at expressing her boredom, so unfortunately for Sophie, not too many people were interested in getting close enough to say hi to her properly.

I don't mean it to sound like it was the auditors or format at fault - certainly not, Sophie was having a tough day all on her own. When I got to the barn she was busy trying to show the boys that she's grown up and all mare, while also trying to start a play fight with the gelding she apparently doesn't find as attractive. Mares! The boys were less than impressed with her and I think were relieved when I took her out of the field. Poor Sophie, however, firmly believed her destiny was outdoors with Bachelor Number 1, so obviously taking a time out for a pedicure was not where she wanted to be and she was not shy about letting everyone know.

Having a drink with her boyfriend

As a side note, to give you an idea of how my life runs, there was also an informal acupuncture clinic going on. I can only guess what they thought of my barn smashing, screaming pony as they all tried to ignore us and embrace calmness and Zen thoughts with needles 20 feet away.  Looks like I'll have to keep Sophie, because after her display I'm pretty sure no one else in my town wants anything to do with either of us  :)
That's us. No manners, all class ;)

 In all seriousness, I'm not too fussed. Maybe I should be, but meh, she's young, she's had a winter off, and meeting a bunch of new people and having to stand and pay attention for 2 hours is just too big of an ask for her right now. There was a time I would have been worried about what everyone thought of her/me, but I'm past that - no matter what, horses are going to humble you at some point. I in no way prepared her for this weekend, so it would be unfair to have any expectations of her.

I apologized to the farrier, who is the one who matters, but the farrier loved her and didn't mind. I've honestly never seen one quite so positive and chilled out - I wish she came here all the time! She's a pro, and had a great feel for the fine line between getting it done and keeping it positive. Sophie doesn't have a mean bone in her body, at least (just many, many impatient ones!), so all's well that ends well.


When a friend texted later in the weekend wondering if I wanted to take Bridget in a riding clinic the first weekend in May, I signed up. Except, I signed up Sophie and we'll do groundwork :) Boot camp is going to start a couple of weeks early for the yellow pony. I might be OK with her behaviour this weekend given the situation and the time off to grow up she's had, but that doesn't mean it's something I want to continue forever. Look out, Big World, Sophie is coming.

Monday 15 April 2019

Weekend Happenings, 2019 Bridget Style

The last post ventured back to 2015, which was a fun time. But you know what? I'm  so glad I was brave enough to keep moving forward and change between then and now. I've got zero regrets about selling Ginger. I miss her, for sure, but she's doing so well with her new owner and it's a way better fit for everyone. I'm glad I kept Bridget, I'm glad I had the experiences at EC's barn that I did, and I'm glad everything led me to buying Sophie and reassessing my work and home life balance.

So, now that we've established how grateful I am to live the life I do, onwards to new adventures!

This past Friday, I thought it would be fun to take Bridget's little friend along with us on a ride. Bridget's friend, Lily, LOVED it. She's the best mini I've ever been around. My husband G likes bringing her because she's so easy and polite, so it's a win win. I want to buy Lily and keep her in my backyard :)
So fuzzy, so cute! Lily enjoying a little snack on the bluffs.

I'm not sure Bridget enjoyed the outing quite as much. Someone had A LOT of ants in her pants, and thought having Lily there meant the game was on and it was play time. She was generally being pushy and disagreeable to boot, because even Happy Forward Bridget is not happy to have anyone tell her what to do.

 It's got me thinking, she's been consistently a bit spicy for a few months now and has changed energy wise in a big way from last year.  I haven't been bothered because she seems happy and enthusiastic, which is a positive considering she was still kind of shut down and dull when we first came back.

Anyway, I'm not sure in the 5 years of Bridget I ever really needed to enforce the whole "stop means stop", "no you may not blow throw my half halt" "walk, don't jig" thing. Probably because the discussion was always about the go button! Even the past few months where she's been borderline getting worse I always in my mind have labelled her as lazy and so I let it slide thinking it was temporary - winter sillies, spring fever, too much good food, etc. I tend to redirect to canter work or other things requiring the energy, thinking I am being smart. In retrospect, I guess in her mind cantering when she offers equals Bridget being large and in charge!  Since it seems her energy is here to stay and  I apparently have been lax in setting boundaries, B now thinks it is cool to race everyone and go everywhere as quickly as possible whenever the mood strikes her. A long overdue chat was had and poor B's mind got a little boggled.

This hill is about 5km long and normally B slows down by the time we get to the top. Not so much lately - I have no idea where this energy and fitness is coming from - certainly not any dedicated efforts by me!

 Every form of forward shes offered until now has always been a good thing and rewarded. If you've been here a long time, you may remember Bridget Version 1.0 would slam on the brakes and refuse to move, even in walk. Gradually, we established walk, then trot, then canter and even gallop and even then the brakes always felt like they were stuck on a little.  In true pony form, I wonder if she's finally given up on napping and hiding behind the leg, and is now doing a 180 and electing to bring all her efforts to escaping out the front and gaining back her pony independence that way?

On our Friday ride it was also super insulting that her favorite person G was walking with such an obviously inferior pony IN FRONT OF US the whole way home. Oh, the tragedy of it all. Never mind that Lily and Bridget are besties in real life!

She's been getting a bit of extra alfalfa, perhaps the attitude comes from there? :)
Wow, never thought I'd be writing a semi serious post about installing brakes and dealing with a too forward Bridget, but here we are.

In other news, Ms Sophie was an absolute brat as well this weekend, and I'll recap that fun tomorrow.

For now, bear with me while I am the poster child for spoiled pony owners everywhere. My two are over here taking pony mare drama to new heights, and yes I'm that person who thinks it's just as amusing as it is annoying.


Friday 12 April 2019

From The Vault: 2015 (In Photo Review)

I have 167 posts in my drafts folder. If I plan this right, I can schedule a year's worth of blogging! Just kidding, I would never do that to you. However, there are a few of those that I think would be fun to share. This post, for example, appears to be the start of a year end recap...for 2015. To set the scene, 2015 was the year I moved back to the coast and took my current job. I still owned Ginger, Bridget was fairly new to me,  and it appears I met my current coach mid year. Exciting times! :)

I thought about typing up a 2015 monthly recap type post, but I just don't have the patience to do it. If I don't have the patience to write it, I doubt any one will have the patience to read it either. This year we're going to test out an illustrated version...

Ginger was living the easy life - once or twice weekly outings, but mostly just hanging out in the pasture looking pretty
Midge had been under saddle about 4 months and was doing lots of  trail riding, plus some introductory poles. She was pretty angry about actually having to work for a living...

Doing lessons 1x a week and trail riding the rest is not helping Ms Bridget or I ride a balanced turn

Ginger was getting low stress rides,  still on a pretty relaxed schedule due to my own anxiety and preference for riding Bridget

Bridget and I went to two (not overly successful) clinics, one 'cowboy' and one dressage. Pony was a bit uptight but a superstar considering it was all new to her.

Ginger came along for the trip, but was pretty stressed out and after the not so great experience with Bridget I ended up chickening out and just hacking Ginger on the area trails rather than taking her in the clinics as well.

More hacking

More weekly lessons. B is (finally!) starting to learn how to carry herself, and even canters a couple of tiny cross rails

I got a new job and moved for work, so pony visits were limited to weekends. Where of course we took a lesson,

and went for a hack.
Bridget said goodbye to her old stomping grounds

And hello to new ones. We started weekly lessons with our new coach, and dressage boot camp was kicking both of our asses.
Bridget slowly got into reasonable shape

And with our coach and barn mates away all summer showing, we spent many hours alone in here doing dressage and tiny jumps


Bridget was getting ever fitter, and we started planning for a mini show season: a local hunter cross rail division and a dressage show later in the month doing Canadian eventing Entry level (= US Beginner Novice) dressage tests. Much practice to be done!


Bridget and I had some super fun outings, and I was really pleased with how both of her first shows went!
Ginger left the farm and went back to work with Trainer M, in hopes of being sold to the best home.
Ginger's training continues and it's her turn for outings and shows. She won her first dressage outing. The ponies were making me proud!
She also got to go to the beach, while Midge and I buckled down with twice weekly lessons in hopes of being ready for a late fall combined test in the big city.

December: 2019 T back in - it looks like I had great ambitions and started my year end recap early and didn't finish it, so I guess we'll never know what happened next. We're all still here so it couldn't have been too bad!


Thursday 11 April 2019

Five Ways To Be A Better Rider

Since my riding life seems to come with a lot of ups and downs, I'm often pondering what I can do to be a better rider, particularly when I have some down time out of the saddle. There are tons of articles, books, and lists online that address this exact topic and I won't pretend to know any more than they do. I do, however, know myself better than anyone and I know what works for me. My top five is likely different than yours, but I thought it would be fun to share:

1. Focus. Striving to focus on the moment. I'm quite good at worrying or trying to be proactive about something that *might* happen. I'm also easily distracted. As in most aspects of life, if I can drop all that excess and simply "be"  I'm more apt to have a good feel of what my horse is telling me.
My favorite resources: Yoga, hiking.
Book suggestions:The Brave Athlete: Calm the F*ck Down, Inside Your Ride

Trail in our neighbourhood looking especially Zen.

2. Knowledge. I'm lucky I like learning things, because I'm not sure there's a sport out there that requires quite so much of it! A good coach is invaluable for reaching your riding goals. I'm so lucky to have mine! Auditing clinics is a cheap and effective way to learn. I've also found a ton of value in books, on the internet, and even in random places you might not expect. These days, while having eyes on the ground is invaluable, there is still a lot you can do on your own with freely available resources. Don't limit yourself to equestrian topics, if something interests you, try it and find out more about it! I think keeping an open and learning mindset benefits me in all parts of my life.
My favorite resources: The library, equestrian professionals, live streaming events with commentary. Youtube - there are tons of clinics and how to videos there. USEF network. Check out old Badminton dressage videos - Carl Hester is doing the commentary and giving a mini clinic while he does so! More recently, the Adequan West Coast Dressage festival has commentary from retired judges usually at least on one of the days.

3. Fitness. As we all know, riding well is tough. Staying mentally and physically fit is a huge help. I admittedly struggle with both, but again, there are a ton of resources out there and you don't need to join an expensive gym to see results. From my own experience, the fitter I am, the easier better riding comes.
My favorite resources: yoga, hiking, in saddle exercises like dropping reins and/or stirrups, two point practice. Book suggestions: Equine Fitness: A Program of Exercise and Routines For You and Your HorseThe Brave Athlete: Calm the F*ck Down, Centered Riding

4. Inspiration. Nothing gets me motivated to be better and set some big goals than surrounding myself with like minded people. My coach's barn is amazing for that. The times I'm boarding on my own? The internet and books are my friends. There are so many events that stream live these days, and good books are easier to find and acquire than ever.
My favorite resources: My coach, my barnmates, Youtube for riders I admire, bloggers. Outside the riding box: autobiographies, TED talks, and interviews with people who are passionate and excited about their chosen topic.

Legit would have never tried eventing without super inspiring barn mates encouraging me.

5. Ride. I used to worry that since I am not a perfect rider, unsupervised time in the saddle would result in bad habits. That is true, at least for me, but the benefits of simply putting the time in, whether its in the arena or out on the trail, have still been huge. I think, no matter what, you simply need hours in the saddle. Once you've got a good seat, the finer aspects of riding come a lot easier. Riding Bridget bareback all winter due to saddle fit issues improved my riding so much, even as someone who's been riding for many years. If you don't have access to a horse to ride all of the time, I've also learned so much by simply watching other riders and yoga has been a huge help in keeping me balanced and aware of my body.
My favorite resources: Bridget! The Trailforks app for planning trail routes and times, Equilab app for arena work.

B having a post ride snack.

Of course, it should go without saying that good horsepeople generally have a head start to being a better riders. I try to be as hands on as possible with my horses - for someone like me who doesn't have a lot of natural talent or "feel" for riding, it's a big help for me to know my horses inside and out.

I'd know this nose anywhere :)

So, thats my list! I'd love to hear the tips and tricks that help you improve.

Sunday 7 April 2019

Clinic Notes

This weekend's clinic was shortened to just one day. We were lucky to get that, given the wet and windy weather that resulted in ferry cancellations and a not so pleasant outdoor experience for the particpants.

Throwback pictures from baby Bridget's first outings with the same clinician, 2013. It feels weird posting photos of other people's clinic,  so you're stuck with old ones of Bridget and I.

I sat this one out and just audited. The format is normally groundwork in the morning and riding in the afternoon, and since Bridget is pretty solid these days and Sophie isn't under saddle it seemed to me my money was better saved for another time.

Aww, baby Bridget sass!  First week I owned her. We still laugh because I rode to the clinic on quite a busy road without much of a thought, and the poor clinician just about choked when he heard that. (B was VERY green, lol) 

I still got quite a bit out of it. I appreciate the clinician (Sev)'s approach because it's positive and straightforward. In the morning, the participants practiced all the usual groundwork you expect from a nicely mannered horse: leading without pulling, respecting the handler's space, responding when asked, etc. I know all the horses are pretty solid citizens, so it was interesting to see the wheels fall off a little given the crazy weather and the energy a couple of horses and humans brought to the group.

Once everyone settled a little, one of the greener horses got a lesson in appropriately existing with other horses around her. She's very quick to get defensive, so it was neat to watch the clinician introduce her to each horse and lay down boundaries for her that she respected. I know that mare and just love her, but I'm not sure anyone ever thought she'd willingly walk up to a strange horse and be calm about it quite so quickly!

That done, there was some fun stuff with teaching the horses to sidepass away from and toward the handlers, plus longeing over and through obstacles.

Baby Bridget tackling a bridge for the first time, 2013.

The afternoon riding was fun. There were a couple of green horses and riders, and some nervous adults too, so the starting exercises consisted of drill team type stuff: follow the leader in pairs, focusing on keeping equal distance and pace. Deceptively difficult for everyone. Then it got "extra" with the clinician asking everyone to ride one handed on a super loose rein and do the same patterns. Idea being you should be able to turn and change speed off your seat and leg, no hands required. Surprisingly, this proved to be way bigger of a problem for the riders than the horses...by that point most of the horses were pretty tuned into the program, even the super green ones. The riders, however, were pretty unwilling to let go!

B has less than reliable steering too, back in the day.

I'm hopeful I can sign up for the summer clinic. It's put on just down the road from where I board and Sophie will be back by then. I think Sophie would benefit hugely from some of the exercises involving other horses. There were a few greener handlers and horses this time and the usual rules and boundaries weren't always respected. Kind of like a busy show warm up! I'm thinking it would be a fun way to introduce a show atmosphere without the stress and travel. I'm going to see if I can share a spot with someone who maybe wants to take the afternoon riding portion.  If not, I guess we could drag Bridget along and I'll ride. As always, I'd prefer to save some pennies if possible, though  :)

It's kind of sad this remains one of my favorite pictures of us...she was maybe 3 months under saddle here?

Topics covered that I can use:

- Sophie definitely needs work on moving her shoulders independent of the rest of her body.

- Getting Sophie out in a busy arena.

- Having her stand patiently away from everyone...She's not quite clued in that being alone and tied could be a happy place of rest.

- I need to up the ante and rely less on the lead rope for reinforcement and have her respond to my voice and body language more quickly.

- The side pass exercises and turns on the forehand and haunches would be easy to teach on the ground and translate directly to under saddle.