Thursday 29 August 2019

AE Blog Hop: 12 Tough Questions

I just kind of casually slid that whole planning-to-move-the-horses-home thing into my last post. In retrospect, it might have seemed like it's a new plan, but as with so many things horsey, I've been obsessing considering the concept for a long time and believe it or not, prior to this blog my horses did live at home on that same property with me. I'll post the reasoning for revisiting that plan soon along with my new barn design inspirations. Actual plans to follow in a future post...I have a few small details I want to iron out, plus we don't even have the building permits yet so it feels almost like tempting fate! A tiny part of me is still hopeful I'll win the lottery or we'll find a last minute deal on something bigger too :) 

Just in time to beat my planned extra long weekend of horsey activities (I am SO ready for this!),  here's a fun blog hop. Thank you to Alberta Equest!

Q1. What hobbies do you have outside of riding?
Way, way too many. Basically anything creative and hands on appeals to me. I thrive on being busy, interested, and learning new things. Lately, I'm loving figuring out my new camera. Sometimes I work on my old vehicles. I really enjoy gardening and carpentry as well. We also do quite a bit of hiking. Lately, my work has been full of fun projects designing some new web apps and mapping themes. My career is nothing I thought I'd ever do as a kid, but I have to admit a lot of aspects of it are a really good fit for me and there's a crossover of projects that appeal to me outside of work as well.

Fun with cameras

Q2: What is your boarding situation?  Are you happy with it?
I'm pretty much self boarding on someone's property. I grew up with the barn owners' kid so I've known them forever. I love them, but honestly it's a bit of the worst of both worlds in that I have all the responsibility of self care, plus the expense of board, travel to the barn, and compromises in how things are set up and run - it's very rustic compared to most barns and sometimes I am basically renting a tiny field. The horses seem really, really happy there though, so it's worth the extra expense and work. There is not really any such thing as a full service barn here, and there is a real lack of land, so I'm very lucky to have the place I do!

Lots of little individual fields, the horses love it!

Q3:  What's on your horsey-related wish list?
Sophie needs a dressage saddle. Bridget needs hers fitted again. I need a trailer. Other than that, I think I have what I need...I can't afford to look at 'wants' (I'd love a new show coat) - I need to save for that new saddle and trailer!

Q4: What is your most expensive horsey-related item?
The horses? I didn't spend big money on either, but I'm thrifty when it comes to the rest of my gear and buy the majority of my tack second hand, and everything else gets bookmarked until it's on a good sale.

Q5: What was the hardest horsey-related decision you've had to make lately?
I've been lucky to not have anything too difficult to deal with! A minor thing (although it makes good financial sense) is that it's been kind of hard to take a year out of lessons and showing while Sophie grows up. 

Q6:  What's something you feel you can't live without in your routine?
An extra I don't necessarily need but always buy is detangler. Both girls have really thick manes and tails and fluffy pony coats, plus they live out year round. As I'm sure you've figured out, I'm cheap, so I just buy whatever's on sale, sometimes from the drug store rather than a horse specific product.

Q7: What's on your horsey-related calendar for the rest of the summer?
It's been a super quiet year and that's not going to change. I'm going to a going away party soon at my old barn for one of the working students who's off to the Netherlands to train. I'm planning to take Bridget to our local fall fair mid month, and there is a clinic I'd like to take Sophie to at the end of the month. 

Q8:  What is one thing you would willingly change about your horse?
Bridget would be more interested in being a sporty pony, Sophie would be less mare-y and silly. I'm lucky, because both of those are things that can improve!

Champion at sleeping, tho

Q9:  What is something you most want to improve on with you and your horse?
Bridget owes me nothing, so we're just having fun. With Sophie, I'd like to skip ahead to the part where we are under saddle and effectively communicating there :)

Q10:  What has been your [current] horses most severe injury?
Bridget has an ongoing minor lameness we haven't really pinpointed. It's super mild, and she's way more on than off. Last year when I moved Sophie to the other barn for the winter one of the horses went after her and she has a nasty scar right down her side from shoulder to hip, maybe from teeth?Fricken grays and palominos scar from everything! Overall so far I've been really lucky with them both.

You can kind of see it, even from this far away

Q11:  What do you feel your biggest downfall is as a rider?
Confidence. Weight. I'm pretty inclined to get in my head and think I'm doing it wrong. My weight is always a struggle...I ride better when I am thinner and know it, so I can be pretty hard on myself about that because I don't seem to consistently keep the pieces together to keep my weight down.

Q12:  What feeds your motivation?
That feeling with horses when everything is 'right'! The barn mates and coaching at the competition barn as well, as I mentioned above, some of them are off training in Europe and setting their sights on Olympic teams and things, which you can't help but find pretty inspirational!

One more sunset, just because


Sunday 25 August 2019

Little Discoveries

I'm content with my decision to put the horses and blogging a little on the back burner the past month, but I sure miss both! I've got commitments again this coming week, but then I'm FREE, (free at last!) and I can get back to the things I enjoy.

The only good thing about taking a time out is the enforced step back makes it so much easier to see the bigger picture and reset goals and priorities appropriately.

Here are a few of the things I've inadvertently discovered (or rediscovered!) in the past year of relatively low key horse activities, and that really solidified in my mind this past month:

- I enjoy having horses, but a huge part of it for me is having goals and riding regularly. I start to feel a bit burnt out if all I have time for is the day to day care. I'm really having a hard time being 'in between' horses at the moment while I wait for Sophie to grow up a bit more.

Hurry up and grow, already :)

- I miss lessons and having my coach in the same town SO much. This was expected, and I knew it would be hard. What does surprise me is that I don't miss the busy lesson and competition barn environment at all. I miss the people and definitely the coaching, but not the rest of it.

- On that note, my husband and I went to look at a proper farm of our own this weekend, and I felt overwhelmed just looking at it. WAY too much work. There was a time I would have been all over it, it's been the dream for so long. Now though, I think I'd be happier having the horses at a low key boarding place or in our backyard on our tiny, but manageable, place (1.3 acres!)

It seems like my ponies thrive in smaller spaces with imperfect grazing anyhow.

- I miss eventing. I miss jump schools. Who would have thought? (Plus, I sent my jump saddle back for repairs what feels like FOREVER ago and it's still MIA. Sad.) I'm admittedly a relative newcomer to jumping and a bit of a Nervous Nellie about it, but it was such an empowering feeling to always be pushing that comfort zone.

Definitely some defensive riding going on, lol

- Also, I miss showing! At first it was a relief to not have anything on the schedule. Now I really, really miss it and have to restrain myself from making show plans for next year (considering S isn't even under saddle yet, I think those goals can wait, lol) I halfway contemplated giving it another go with Bridget, but yeah, that's crazy talk (right?)

We'd have to interrupt her very busy schedule though.

- In so many ways, if I have the tools and knowledge, I actually ride better on my own. I can get anxious in lessons or get pushed past my happy place. There is value to that, but I'm finding I'm more than motivated enough and tough enough on myself that skipping the odd lesson isn't a really bad thing. I think moving forward I will try to keep to a regular lesson schedule, but keep it biweekly or monthly rather than the once or twice a week I was at previously.

I've said it a bunch before, but Bridget really is thriving with a less active schedule.

- I don't miss riding other people's horses, or taking lessons on horses that aren't mine. I've had a few offers lately to ride the type of horse I should be super excited about. But really, it just feels like work. I know it's good experience to ride more horses, but meh, I am not a pro and just riding my own horses well is a worthy enough goal.

Just warming up a month or so ago and we both look pretty unmotivated and in need of coaching intervention :)

- I have a ton of other interests and hobbies, but horses are the only thing that make me pretty miserable to put on hold, even short term.

Such a shame she's never as excited to see me as I am her.

So, with all that in mind, here's what I'm aiming for in the future. They're things I've probably thought about before on this blog, but now I'm certain about setting them as goals:

I want to build a new barn on our small property so the horses can live at home if and when my current boarding situation falls through (it's not permanent and that's OK). Building a new barn means I get the best of both worlds - a quiet little place set up the way I like, but no giant mortgage that would come with buying a new property. I'd also be able to find someone to fill in while I'm away a lot easier than if I was in the middle of nowhere on a farm.

As you'd guess from the above, I've decided to keep my current job and work schedule, so I'll continue to commute for work and the horses will stay at home rather than moving back south to board at my coach's place. I hope to get a decent trailer to make day trips for lessons once or twice a month a reasonable thing - even with ferry and travel costs (and trailer payments) I'd be saving a ton of money over paying full board so much closer to the big city.

That means there is no end in sight for me posting scenic ferry ride pictures, lol

And of course, I'll be back at it with the daily rides and outings in September and hope to get Sophie going lightly under saddle this fall. She's just had another awkward growth spurt, so it's probably a good thing that I planned to put things off for a month!

Upcoming events: Fall Fair with Bridget mid September, clinic with Sophie end of month.


Thursday 15 August 2019

ICYMI: Some Happy Things

Things are still a bit chaotic around here, so no real updates from me. The horses are happy and well, of news is good news :)

Proof of life. Also, not starving :)
 I thought I'd take a moment to share a few blog posts I've really enjoyed in the past bit. They serve as a really great counterpoint to all the negative news in the equestrian world of late. Get ready to smile!

Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken - Fraidy Cat Eventing. Emma and Charlie are inspiration and goals for everyone. Not only do they have a great partnership, it seems like not that long ago he was baby bronto-smashing crossrails. Check out the pictures now! 

TSC Dressage Show: First Level Debut - Two and A Half Horses. How impressive are these two? Cathryn's brought Annie along from green been to solid all around horse (check out their tail riding and jumping posts too!) and I'm always inspired because her equestrian life pretty closely mirrors mine in that we both live in pretty isolated communities  - I know how hard it can be to get everything from vet to hay to training. She's beyond dedicated!

Rated Second: Here We Come - Cob Jockey. Another awesome pair. They're going out and doing the thing and crushing goals, despite setbacks and Jen's hectic schedule.

EmTee Eventures. Just a vlog channel with some besties out eventing in the British countryside. I won't lie, being the grumpy human I can be some days the positive energy from these two is TOO much for me, but they're guaranteed to make you smile.

LWilliams got married! and the pictures are fantastic.

Liz Stout is living the dream, building a new barn and moving her horses home. Check out the progress photos, so cool. Also, her most recent ride recap is fantastic and goals for all of us.

Madigan's First Show. If anyone deserves to have a fantastic baby horse, it's Stephanie.

I'll stop here. I'm not intentionally leaving anyone out, but realistically if I include everyone's posts I've been inspired by even in the last month or two, we'd be here a very, very long time. Originally, I was going to include some articles on mindset and some accomplishments of some real life friends, but we'll stick to you guys, otherwise I'd be writing a novel :)

We'll finish with another ferry scene from last night, for Lytha


Friday 9 August 2019

If It Helps

In the spirit of Emma's What are we doing about it? post today, here is my small contribution. This might not change anyone's mind, but I'll put it out there anyway, just in case.

Recently, I was discussing how I am a bit of an insomniac and can have quite a bit of trouble sleeping. My husband was tossing out ideas to help and I was like "well you know I think it's because when I was a kid, at night when I was sleeping was when he said he was going to kill me."

Apparently, I tossed that out like it's a perfectly normal thing. Even all these years later.

I did not have a happy childhood. I had an immediate family member with a pretty severe mental illness that resulted in a lot of ups and downs. You really never knew what you were going to get, or even if it was based on an event that actually happened. The bad days were more frequent than the good.

As with all things mental illness at the time, you didn't talk about it. The clues were there for teachers and other adults to see, and looking back it was probably common knowledge. Some tried to intervene but the tools to do something about it were not there.

On the even sadder side, along with the good people trying to help, there are a lot of not so good people out there who are also really good at identifying children who are vulnerable.

The thing I really want to emphasize and think is very important for people to consider is that as a kid I knew I was often unhappy, scared, angry, even suicidal. But if you asked me why, I would have never been able to tell you, because I didn't know what was wrong.

Without any other context, I thought my life was normal. I was sure that my friends with seemingly happy lives were just extra good at hiding things and thought I just needed to be tougher or better to be like them. I thought there was something very wrong with me to be so anxious and unhappy. A direct question asking whether everything was ok at home would have been met with an "It's fine" from me.

It would have never occurred to me that I had any rights, or that I mattered to anyone. I had zero idea about what behaviour in adults was acceptable and what wasn't. I had no clue this wasn't simply my cross to bear for being a bad person. I might have even argued with you if you offered the opinion that things at home weren't safe or acceptable. I truly believed it was all normal.

I was a pretty smart kid in many ways - I managed to look after myself and get honor roll grades throughout school. But still, I DID NOT have the tools or maturity to understand much of what was going on in the adult world or how to deal with it.

I'm not writing this to make anyone feel sorry for me. I AM writing it in the hopes you might consider taking a stronger stance in supporting education and  legislation, (and yes, things like SafeSport) to help provide minors (or really anyone who needs help) with options and rights and positive experiences. Discuss mental illness freely and don't stigmatize it - it is a disease like any other. Consider that sometimes victims might not know they were a victim until well after the fact. Consider that those who said nothing at the time may have simply not had the knowledge, tools, or support to do so.

Lastly, just try to listen and be kind. It matters.

Thank you.


Wednesday 7 August 2019

Time Out

Just a quick check in. This seems to be the summer of unpredictable things happening and as a result, my riding time and carefully laid plans have suffered.

Short quiet hacks around the neighbourhood are the best I can do right now, and are the best part of my day!
I'll straight up admit I used to be one of those people who believed if you want something bad enough you'll find time for it. Generally speaking I do find that to be true, but this month, not so much...I simply can't prioritize riding right now due to some family things and some unexpected emergencies at my work.

It's a case of nothing really going right, suddenly and all at once! Not to mention just keeping up with the day to day horse chores where I board is more time consuming and difficult in the summer (The summer fields are typically far from a water tap, plus picking poo out of long grass is...frustrating). My saddle is broken and had to be sent back to the manufacturere for repairs, so that puts a damper on things too. Being the proactive person I am, I'm researching plans and building and zoning bylaws to build a barn at home to keep things simpler, also I'm perusing the job ads hard. But, of course that also has been adding time and stress.

At least both ponies are looking great!

I promise, I'm not whining. I'm lucky to have the life I do. But for my own sanity, I'm just going to get the horses out when I can for the remainder of the month and not stress too hard about it. I've extended my summer schedule through September and my plan is to return to 5-6 day a week rides and outings then. My goals remain the same and I want to be back to lessons and showing next spring, hopefully with Sophie.

Add mane pulling to my to do list :)

I feel like this has been the most boring blog ever lately, but I have to ask you to bear with me a little further, while we take a small break to organize and regroup.

See you soon!

Friday 2 August 2019

A Bedtime Story

When we last visited our favorite princess pony she was in the grip of an evil spell. Her Prince Charming had betrayed her and put her under his control. Winter had overtaken the land, and there was much sorrow.

Thankfully, there was still hope shining on the horizon.

In the nick of time, our intrepid blogger rescued the princess and separated her from her not so charming prince. Despite his best efforts to keep her under his spell, the distance was too great and by the very next day she forgot his charms. Happiness and calm reigned once more, and peace returned to the farm.

Even Mother Nature rejoiced, as the rains receded, summer resumed, and the pasture lands were restored to the ponies.

And everyone lived happily ever after. The end :)


Thursday 1 August 2019


We're currently experiencing a crazy amount of rain! I'm actually a weird person who likes rain, so I don't mind at all, especially given how dry it's been and all the associated water shortages and fire danger that goes with that.

The horses seem to be loving it too and last I checked were still standing out there getting pressure washed by mother nature.

Sophie had a rather large amount of burrs in her forelock this afternoon, so I thought I'd be a good owner and get some detangler on that and give her her daily vitamins and minerals at the same time.

Pictures obviously not from today - unless you have underwater gear its not camera or phone appropriate weather out there.

Except, sorry T, that is the wrong thing to do according to Miss Sophie. You see, she still can.not.function if she's not immediately next to and in sight of her boyfriend. He loses his mind, she loses hers.

I know, I know, this could be a great learning opportunity. But, well, I was kind of just over it. So, off we went and I tied her at the barn to groom her rather than mess around with a frantic pony on the loose in her paddock. And the screaming and dramatics were pretty intense. Interestingly, her boyfriend is actually the worse of the two, but she's a bit of a drama queen and feeds off whatever energy is around her so she's guilty of playing the part of silly herdbound horse too!

Not sure what was so interesting about the wall :)

It's no excuse, but I'd had a tough day until that point and was rapidly losing patience with the screaming and dancing around. Normally, I'm very patient, but not so much today. Of course, see above about S feeding off whatever energy is available... so mine was only making it worse. At that point, the barn owner's husband came to chat. He's a mechanic and I have an old car and truck, and so we got to looking at my car and planning the remaining work on the truck and generally chatting.....

And, about an hour later I was like "Oh sh*t! I'm the worst horse person ever, I walked away and forgot I left my horse tied out in the rain! Gotta go!"

It was suspiciously quiet, and since S was historically fairly good at breaking ties and halters when I got her (now she just unties herself - small win?), I assumed she'd got loose and was probably visiting her boyfriend.

But, when I walked out of the shop to look,  Sophie was quietly standing at the rail, right where I left her, one leg cocked, dozing in the rain.

Kind of like this, but wet.

Lesson of the day: Walking away and ignoring your horse isn't a bad thing, sometimes. Probably don't forget them out in the rain if you can help it though.

Lesson 2 of the day: Sometimes you need to give yourself an easy win. Instead of putting Sophie back in her paddock, I moved her to a different one away from her lover. Yes, she needs to learn to be less herdbound, but so does he and maybe having the two of them next to each other just isn't fair at this point in time. She's back next to the minis and the old draft horse, none of which she's particularly fond of, and that's maybe just what everyone's sanity needs right now.

S was upset to find that she's not able to hang out with her friend anymore and some frustration was expressed over that. Hormones are hard. She settled down after a bit though, and I am hopeful that my next visit to the barn will be peaceful!

Last week. I put her next to her buddy 5 days ago and I can see shes lost weight since this picture. She was too obsessed over him to eat her hay. So crazy.

I put Bridget next to S's lover, so he still has a friend to obsess over. Of course, Bridget doesn't care about that, so it's all good.

I know from reading your blogs that some of you have similar horsey pairs that it's best to not trailer or stable with. It's interesting how the dynamics work. S is very brave and calm with me alone or with Bridget or another quiet horse, but the insecure, high energy buddy was definitely not doing her any favors!

Fingers crossed we'll get back on track this weekend. I think a part of the recent pony drama is that I have been busy and Sophie is the kind of pony who will do best with a regular schedule and plenty to keep her busy. Once she's under saddle, that will be a bit easier to accomplish.

A final misty picture from yesterdays ferry ride, just for Lytha