Friday 27 September 2019

Not Riding Scenes From The Barn

Aka: My Other Vacation Photos

It's been such a nice week off! I've loved having a break from commuting so far, and it's been wonderful to be able to see the horses and spend time at the barn each day. You already know I got a lot of riding and some big goals checked off this week, but it's fun to share the day to day stuff too. Here's how I spent my vacation:

Early morning pony feedings. I need the Jaws theme here.

How cute is  this one?

Or this one?

And of course this one:

I did some hiking and gardening:

It rained. A lot.

Both ponies got out for multiple hikes with us though, too

Bridget got some glamour shots:

Not pictured: the epic rainfall I was standing in, lol
Sophie spent time refreshing groundwork:

I gained a new friend:

This raven shares Bridget's meals with her and follows me around and waits for me to bring the horses grain.
And, of course you already know there have been some pretty epic smiles and happy moments:

We've got a few more fun things planned for the weekend, and the weather is supposed to be spectacular. I can't wait!


Tuesday 24 September 2019

More (Unexpected) Firsts

Baby horses are just so fun. Some days it feels like everything we do is some big first or big goal accomplished.

My husband was free to act as spotter today, so Sophie got tacked up once again and I thought we'd take ourselves down the road to the club grounds and do some longeing and groundwork. The stretch goal there was to maybe hop on in the round pen and walk around solo for a lap or two. Steering and whoa/go from the saddle are very sluggish and murky and there a few more distractions there so that seemed a reasonable stretch. 

Sadly, we got there and there were a number of trucks and trailers and activity and the round pen was in use. To be quite honest, I had every faith in Sophie being fine but I wasn't all that keen on an audience or distraction for myself and opted out of going. I was pretty disappointed.

G, being awesome, was like "Dont worry about it. Let's just go for a hike on the trail. You can get on if you want to, or not. It'll be more fun for all of us to get out for a walk, and trail miles for Sophie are always a win." 

Walking trails in a XC vest and tall boots isn't something I'd recommend, tho

This guy, he maybe missed a calling as a riding coach/horse trainer, lol. Or he's just pro level at talking me off the ledge ;)

Long story shorter, we walked up towards the gravel pit, about a 45 minute loop back to the barn. And...apparently the trucks were working late. Guess whose horse is fine with dump trucks and engine brakes? Mine :) What a good girl! 

Since she was so happy and chill, I hopped on while G continued to walk beside us (with a lead rope attached just in case!) Sophie was a star. She didn't even blink at carrying me along and the lead ended up just being a security blanket - my steering and whoa/go were adequate enough. G set us free for a little bit before I hopped off and gave her all the hugs and treats.

Pics again to prove it happened and everyone was happy ;)

Honestly, I probably only sat on her for 10 or 15 minutes total, before getting off and walking the rest of the way home. I'm a big believer in keeping it easy and fun (and ending while it still seems too good to be true!) I kind of feel like in some ways this was a pretty huge step from sitting on her earlier in the week in a stall and taking a few steps in the round pen a couple of days ago - she's a VERY good girl.

In other ways, well, I have been quite diligent about getting her out on the trail. She's confident and comfortable there, so I guess why not hop on? 

Anyway, first kind of sort of trail ride is in the books and was perfectly uneventful. First dump trucks drove past us. First awkward mountings from sketchy stumps and rocks - (probably the most important win and skill for a pony with a very short owner, lol) And she was absolutely fantastic for it all. I think she just loves getting out and doing stuff with us.

We'll keep playing for a couple more weeks, then Sophie is going to get time off to grow up a bit more.


Saturday 21 September 2019

Pics Or It Didn't Happen!

We had "ride" 3 (or 4?) today.

We graduated to being led for a few steps of drunken sailor walk today since Sophie seemed a little more chill with the idea of me being up there. (It's not that she's done anything scary previously, but I wasn't getting the feeling she was ready to head out for a walk, either!)

Honestly, of all the horses I've had this was the one I was pretty sure I'd send away to be backed. She's very sensitive and very smart, not to mention quick and athletic and more than a little spicy.

But, bit by bit, we're getting things done and I'm still having fun and am inside my comfort zone. I'm not feeling like I need to send her away just yet, but of course the option is always there.

If I'm being completely open and real here part of the reason this has been quite a slow process is that I'm very conscious of my weight right now and have been waiting until I was making decent progress with that and pony was looking more mature (because despite me crossing my fingers and remeasuring her every few weeks, she seems determined to stay at a smidge over 14hh, quite a bit smaller than expected!)

After thoroughly reviewing all the most unflattering pictures (poor G was asked to please take pictures for this blog but also please not let go of the lead, plus he's 6'4" and towers over us both. The photo angles are...challenging, lol) Anyway,  I'm SO relieved that I don't look too big on her! I know the 20% rule says I'm fine, but I'm not cool with pushing that number on a youngster. Height wise, I think we look decent, so fingers crossed I can make further progress with my weight this winter.


Tuesday 17 September 2019

September 10 Questions Blog Hop

I'm here at work and the rain is still coming down. At this point we have had well over a month's worth in the last 4 days. In very exciting news, the weather is supposed to be a little more moderate next week and I HAVE NEXT WEEK OFF! I'm hoping to get a lot of baby pony training goals checked off next week and attend a weekend clinic too. I'm beyond excited.

Thanks once again to LWilliams for providing interesting blog hop topics!

1. Favorite quirk your horse (or a horse you’ve spent time with) has?

Bridget is so funny to me because she's like a grumpy old man in a young mare's body. NOTHING is fun, everything sucks...until you convince her to do the thing and suddenly she's having fun and surprisingly agile :)
Sophie is a typical quirky mare-y mare and very dramatic. My favorite thing about her is how overwhelmingly friendly she's kind of flattering how excited she is to see me and go on adventures with me.

Telling me off the other morning for disturbing her nap with the camera noise. A serious offense in Bridget world.

2. Three words that perfectly describe your horse?

Bridget: Tired (of everyone's BS), Hungry, Loyal

Sophie: Happy, Friendly, Interested

I'm not sure I have any pictures with her ears anything but forward.

3. Plan your next ride. What will you do/work on?

Bridget: Forward off the leg (always), and being adjustable in the gaits without sucking back or leaning (always). 

Sophie: Simply sitting on her and walking around. On the ground, long lining and getting her confident moving out without someone leading.

Look at how happy and hardworkingsleeping she is. Add that to the quirks actually, 50% I have this, 50% of the time she thinks she's the most athletic pony and the ruler of the world and super busy, quick,  pushy, and bossy :)
Showing us her 'piaffe' on a day where she thought she was all that

4. Have you ever trained an OTTB? If yes, what was the biggest challenge?

Many years ago. She was just lovely and very easy and hard working, but I was pretty inexperienced and needed to become a lot more sensitive to what my body was doing. I got the ride because she was just little and I was a small, brave, teen. I always regret not being able to buy her myself when the time came for her to go to a new home. We won't count lessons on assorted OTTBs over the years, because fresh off the track or no, being in a lesson the trainer/coach is really the one with the training plan!

5. Have you ever groomed or worked for a professional rider?

I groomed and worked for my coach for the years I was there - I think everyone did! An easy way to trade for lessons and keep board prices manageable. She's an upper level dressage rider these days which is nice - the few times I groomed at events it was a lot more work!

Remember when I wanted to be an eventer and Bridget and I used to go to eventing camp?

Aww, her little clip job then was so cute. /diversion...back to the blog hop:)

6. Favorite horse and rider combination?

Beyond the usual riding idols (Ingrid Klimke of course!), honestly I get the most joy and inspiration watching local people I know ride and train. It's much more relatable as far as my goals go and of course it's really fun to cheer on your friends!

7. Have you ever ridden a horse at the beach?

On vacation basically every time we go, provided the horses are well cared for. I ride often at our local lakes, but they don't have sand to run along. I've gone to our local beaches a couple of times but this is rocky coastline and there is maybe only a km of rideable footing at low tide at the bigger have to plan well in advance!

Typical coastline here
I'll never get tired of this picture of Sophie at the lake :)

8. If you could experience the equestrian community (i.e. ride and compete) in another country, what country would you choose and why?

Some of my friends and old barn mates have had exciting adventures, and if I could cheat I'd choose all of them! (We were talking South Africa and the Netherlands the other day and wow both sound amazing) I think for simplicity's sake I'd choose England because the dressage and eventing culture is really strong and I speak the language. Plus I have friends already living and riding there.

Also I think they might be open to Welsh Cobs doing dressage? I have visions of a whole stable full of Bridgets, how fantastic would that be? (Not sure the universe could handle that amount of ponytude in one place tho)

9. In your opinion, what is an item of tack that is given unnecessary hype?

So much of it! I feel like there is always some trendy bridle/bit/saddle/pad/blanket/boot/stirrup that is a million dollars and miracle working. Then 6 months later there's a cheap knock off everyone else buys, then 6 months after that no one talks about it anymore.
This saddle pad is magical, yet marked down to $20 right now. Surely magic can't be purchased for that cheap? ;) Review here if you're interested.

10. What was the first horse you rode called? Are they still alive?

I got a job at a trail riding stable as a kid and was in pony heaven with so many to ride and learn on! I'm pretty sure the last of those ponies passed away a few years ago now. I just visited that farm this past weekend and everything looks so run down and made me feel really sad (and old!)

Sunday 15 September 2019

A Perfect Storm

My husband came to the barn with me the other night, so it seemed like an opportunity to get some things acomplished wirh a spotter. I planned to head down to the arena and maybe sit on Sophie for the first time if everything went well.

Wouldn't you know it, I got Sophie tacked up and the grey, drizzly day instantly turned into a monsoon. No biggie, we are West Coasters, we love rain, right?

Except then the flashes of lighting started. A quick decision was made to retreat into the barn that's directly adjacent to the hitching rail we use for grooming and tacking up.

Where I normally tack up, barn is behind where I'm standing. Her paddock is quite a ways down the hill.
Different angle, the Unstable in the background.

The barn hasn't been used for horses in a while and is mostly storage at this point. I wasn't crazy about leaving Sophie tacked up and tied out in the storm (or untacking and getting her back to her paddock), so Sophie came with us and we all kind of crammed into the aisleway.

And we waited, and waited.

Winter has come. The street lights on our road didn't turn off all day, it was so dark and gloomy.

One of the stalls down the far end of the barn just had a couple of wheelbarrows and some fencing supplies inside, so we moved those out and Sophie in, and I hung up a hay bag for her. She was a bit sad to be alone, but it was still monsooning and thundering and lightning out and I didn't want to walk her down to her field. Bridget's shelter and  paddock is conveniently right off the back of the old barn so it made sense to open the door and bring her in to share dinner with S.

She styled her hair special for the ocassion, I see. No idea where she keeps finding burrs, but they're always attached to her face so I assume she likes them?

So that's how I ended up with a tacked up Sophie in an old stall, and a Bridget tied in the aisleway, sharing the same hay bag.

What to do to kill time while we wait for the storm to pass?

You know where this is going!

Yep, played with the saddle, leaning on her, then finally just comitted and hopped off and on my pony a few times. Eventually I just stayed and sat on her and scratched her for a bit. Got off, repeated it all again.  She thought I was a bit nuts, but I've been jumping all over and around her for a while now so she didn't seem too surprised by this turn of events.

Husband G was a little surprised by how informal and unofficial the whole thing was  ("you're seriously going to use her feed bucket to stand on?"*turns around, turns back* "how did you get on?!") But honestly, this is life, we need to roll with it. I've been waiting for a few weeks now for the stars to align and to have everything perfect, but it's not happening, so let's just make the best of things and move forward.

I know quite a few of the European and racehorse trainers back their horses in the stall, but I always thought that seemed a little claustrophobic. The old barn here has a really high roof, but it's still just a 12x12 stall at the end of the day!

But you know what, I think this was one of the situations where things just turned out the way they were supposed to be. I can't imagine a less exciting or anticlimactic way to sit on S for the first time...just hanging out with her bestie, eating dinner. Ho hum, so boring. Just the way we wanted it to be :)

So ends the tale of my first "ride"...and yes, I have NO pictures, because sometimes you just have to live in the moment. Next time though, I promise.

Sophie in her winter paddock this morning. Not fancy, but I'm hoping we can make it work this winter and the weather allows for more field turnout here than last. This place is SO close to the main equestrian grounds and indoor arena that I can hopefully keep her lightly going all winter. My other option is the beautiful farm 20 minutes away that I boarded her at last winter, but it is $$$$ full board and there is no arena or place to ride except trails accessed by quite a few km of busy road. Not as ideal for baby horse training.


Thursday 12 September 2019

September Resources

I don't know about you, but despite years of being out of school, September still feels to me like the start of the new year. It's an opportunity to slow down from the summer, reflect on the good and the bad and get started on new goals for next spring.

Hello, Ambitious Project :)

The fall rains have returned this week, and the sun is rising ever later, making me inclined to cozy up with a coffee first thing in the mornings to research and plan for the future. Maybe surprisingly to some, I LOVE being outdoors in the rain, so generally my whole life feels refreshed and better and this time of year is when I am really inclined to tackle ambitious projects, both at home and at the barn.

With all that in mind, it's time to bring back the monthly resources posts! For anyone new here, they are normally just a group of links to reading (or viewing) I found interesting and/or relevant.

- Carl Hester: How to make a Valegro. I'm going to get right on this one.

- I've been delving back into Warwick Schiller's videos, as a lot of the topics are relevant to where Sophie is at and the concepts are common sense simple - I feel like you are safe to take or leave whatever you like. There's no step by step 'program' you're pressured to follow or 'magic' going on you can't possibly understand without paying him your life savings ;)

- Amanda Ross Eventing Fit. There are only a few videos so far, but I'm loving this new channel from Australian Eventer Amanda Ross. The energy and positivity she brings is amazing.

- 93% of British Columbians Want To Scrap Changing Clocks For Daylight Time. Could there be an end to changing the clocks back every fall? I sure hope so! An extra hour of daylight on winter evenings would make a world of difference for getting those riding goals and barn chores done after work. Plus, the clock in my truck would be correct year round!

- Rutledge Farm Sessions Clinic Series.  You need a USEF membership for this one, but it's free and easy to sign up for a fan membership to watch videos. So far this year there is a Boyd Martin clinic, plus a Peter Wylde one.

- Sophie Callahan Blog. I am not a fashionista, but her Burghley blog had me wanting to break out the credit card and revamp my wardrobe. That aside, I've been following her blog for years because she's a very talented photographer, and horses + country lifestyle are kind of my thing.

- International Helmet Awareness Day is this weekend! I'd link to the Riders 4 Helmets site but it said I won a cruise (how kind, all I wanted was 15% off a helmet!) so maybe google at your own discretion. If you need a helmet, now is the time. I'm eyeing up the Charles Owen My PS, 20% off this weekend at most of the retailers I've seen.

That's it for now. Enjoy your weekends, hopefully I will see you again on Monday with a riding and pony training weekend recap!

Bonus baby deer. I am amused at how he eats. He's been visiting our yard often.


Monday 9 September 2019

Fall Fair

Our little club put on a concentrated effort to really show up to the local Fall Fair this year, as past attendance has been a little lackluster and it's been a bit of a wasted opportunity to be seen in the community given the equestrian club grounds are on the same site as the fair grounds. This year turned out fantastic, I feel like we probably had record numbers of riders and fair attendance.

Of course I didn't take any pics of the actual was seriously hectic trying to get there on time and bring all the things to keep Bridget and I happy for an afternoon away from home. You'd never know it given this pre ride shot of B :) Never fear, there are supposedly photos coming!

In the theme of me feeling overwhelmed by my schedule yet still wanting to do all the things, I just signed up for the second day of the fair, which happened to be the gymkhana portion.

I broke out the tiara for B. The little kids especially loved that she was wearing 'diamonds'.

And another new Amazon sale $20 saddle pad. We went for the black and silver sparkly vampire look ;)

I hate this, but I was that person - the one that hadn't ridden for two weeks then pulled my horse out of the field. I had a weekend in Vancouver, then a death plague some extra work, all while keeping a definite focus on meeting some training goals with Sophie. The next thing you know riding had been off the schedule for quite a number of days! Luckily for me Bridget was pretty generous about it, but I need to do better if I want to continue signing her up for things. It's unfair for us both to be heading out to things with marginal fitness.

It's OK Bridget, I brought us both water and granola bars. We can do this.

With that in mind, I thought we'd just make an appearance, support the club, and sign out whenever Bridget said she was done.

Thankfully, it looks like pasture fitness is a thing, and while not exactly brimming with energy, Bridget was game to keep playing most of the afternoon. I made sure she got plenty of hand grazing breaks and skipped out for an hour mid afternoon.

Because she's starving, obviously.

How did we do, you ask? Bridget won some things! She was first in the keyhole, second in poles and the scurry, we won the ride a buck event, and I'm not sure about the rest. At the end of the day we were called as tied for high point! Very surprising for my not so fast pony. I think she edges in to placing because she's small and very maneuverable but has a huge stride, because trust me she's not very fast!

We won some brushes and a set of shipping boots, which was really great...the items I was gifted were all things I either needed or need to replace. Thank you sponsors, and thank you Bridget!

In other good news, I may have found someone to come hang out with me and ride Bridget while I work with Sophie. In a perfect world I'd have time for exercising both and G would have time to come hang out so I'm not backing a baby alone at the arena, but that's not been the case this summer despite everyone's best efforts. So, this feels like a win-win, given she doesn't have a horse,  Bridget could use some exercise, and I could use a spotter!

I'm slightly regretful I didn't get Sophie down to the fair this year - it would have been really great exposure! That said, I think I would have needed to have been able to keep a closer eye on her or have someone watch her - the way it's set up is open corral type stalls and everyone and their dogs and kids can access them and that made me a little nervous given I would expect her to be a bit 'up' and looking around and maybe not being overly respectful of space. I saw a few parents letting their kids climb on and through the fence rails, which honestly is why I only brought Bridget for a half a day. She is super with kids and random weird things, but I don't think the whole nearly a petting zoo thing is really her cup of tea, either.

Another random sunset picture for you. The ferry to get me home from work leaves later now so I've been getting take out and eating dinner at any park or beach I haven't visited before while  I wait to go home. 

Onward we go. This year has been really tough so I am extra grateful for Midge being so easy and game for whatever I throw at her. She used to be fairly difficult and resentful of working, so I'd like to think she's so easy now because she's happy and having fun being a backyard pony of all trades.


Thursday 5 September 2019

Barn Design Ideas

My barn building plans are already on a temporary hold, because a property came up for sale recently that might work for living, commuting, and horses. (and because maybe I need to examine the fact that I am still actively perusing real estate listings after I supposedly decided for once and for all I was building on our existing little property)

The good news is that I am not as flaky as I might seem, given I have at least got the appropriate approvals from the bank for whatever (modest) horse keeping future I choose. Add that to my monthly list of small wins?

Anyway, despite not having a hard idea of the whens and wheres, I do have a pretty solid idea of what I want to build.

The footprint will likely be between 24x24 and 36x36. Our smaller property is fairly limited due to land size and bylaws and would be closer to the 24x24 footprint. For the smaller one, I'm finding quite a bit of inspiration from carriage house designs, especially given that a future conversion to garage with suite above wouldn't be out of the question and would be smart planning for future renting or resale. Plus, there is already an old outbuilding on site for storage so we don't need to worry about haylofts or anything like that...just a place for some tack and two horses (or maybe a car and two horses)!

Apologies in advance for not linking the source to the pictures that are not mine. They've been living in an ideas folder on my computer for years. After some googling in an attempt to rectify my rudeness in not crediting them,  I'm pretty sure every one of them is all over the internet and finding the original source isn't something I can do.

A style similar to this would be nice if we pretend the back of it is just a plain wall with doors for 2 in/out horse stalls!
Because this is the circa 1912 house already there (world's worst pic, literally stolen from street view) I don't want to make the very nice tenant we have nervous by walking around taking pictures just for my blog lol

Proposed site layout.

So cute, but I suspect it might be over the height restrictions for outbuildings in the city. Saving it for an idea on on bigger property.
This little drawing has potential.

So, with all that, here's what I came up with. It's just my attempt using SketchUp and has yet to be properly drafted or approved for a permit, but it should meet the city's requirements for style, size, and height:

Stairs to loft where the person is standing. As a garage, secure parking for 1 vehicle in bay behind the door, open covered parking in second bay by removing the gate in the middle. To the right, an 8x16 workshop for tools, lawn equipment, etc. As a barn: 12x24 run in on the left, single 12x12 stall in middle back with 12x12 grooming and cross tie area in front, and a tack room to the side. Paddocks off stalls are behind the building. I wanted to keep part of it open as a barn because the climate here is such that I can get away with it and extra light and fresh air is always a nice thing. My artistic skills are limited so you have to imagine fit and finish is such that it would match the existing house, just with a bit more modern twist.

Back view. You have to use your imagination that the white boxes with x's are doors and gates and that there will be gutters and siding and all the normal things you'd expect on a building :)

On a bigger place I might be tempted to build something more traditional and extend a roofline for additional shelter on one side of the building, and maybe incorporate a laundry/washroom. Obviously a bigger property would have a barn that is strictly a barn :)  Elements of the following appeal to me:

Love the windows and the size, less crazy about how visually tall the front looks.

This is way over the top, but I like how the height of it scales better - the dormers and main entry gable break it all up a bit. 

More like it. My dream barn would look a lot like this.

Other inspiration:

Again, over the top for my budget, but the idea of the wood paneling where it's needed and then drywall above is a good one, I think. I like how it brightens it up and would allow for some future changing color choices. I feel like this would be a fairly inexpensive DIY with a fancy looking result. Built in cabinetry...also a want, but a cabinet maker is not in my budget or talent, so more likely I'll be reusing and adapting things myself.

   Something like this door would be a nice compromise between potential barn aisle and garage door use. 

Wood ceilings...I like. I'd just have half doors, though...I'd never have more than 2 or 3 horses and I'd like them to be able to sniff noses and hang out.

Screen cap from...somewhere? I really like the window above the door and coincidentally have a few like it since I saved the original windows from the house when we upgraded them.

Or you could have a window IN the door? Honestly for exterior though I am leaning towards a solid sliding door...maybe it's just me (or Bridget's big itchy butt) but the hinges on swinging doors never seem to last and are always that tiny bit out of adjustment.

So, there you I just wait and see what the future and a lot of hard work brings me and my meager budget :)