Monday, 30 November 2020

Outside The Box

 It’s been a long while since I spent any great amount of time outside the arena. I used to spend about half my riding time out there, building up Bridget’s fitness and trying to keep things interesting and fun for us both.

With a young horse, I feel a little more limited. My two are some of the last horses boarded in the area so local riding buddies are at a minimum.  I don’t want to venture too far from home solo on the always interesting Sophie, and towing her along limits us to the wider, less technical paths.


Misty mornings this weekend.

Then COVID happened, and 'our' trails became absolutely buzzing with activity. Which is great, we’re friendly and don’t mind sharing, but the loose dog situation got entirely out of control. Bridget got bit, Sophie got chased and nipped, even my husband got a bite on the back of his leg, all in separate incidents. I love dogs, I really do, but the humans were awful each and every time, angry we had horses there, accusing my husband of ‘doing something’ to make their dog bite him, and in one case, hiding in the bush calling the dogs and never actually coming out to check up (extra bad because one nipped Sophie and the young person riding with us fell off and was crying - scared but unhurt luckily - when the dogs charged us) 

After a final incident with a dog hanging off Bridget’s tail and an angry owner shouting at me, I needed a time out. I even scouted alternate boarding options and more remote trails we could trailer to, but nothing really felt worth the effort...either the trails were not entirely horse accessible or the boarding had some big compromises.


We enjoy quiet and peaceful.

So, it’s sort of evolved that we just go straight down the road to the arena. If the trailhead parking there looks busy, I just ride in the arena. But, it’s been busy for months.  It hasn’t slowed down for winter at all - our gorgeous trails have finally been well and truly discovered. 

More arena time hasn’t been a terrible thing (and honestly, it’s still a 15min hack each way to get there with a couple of different routes I can take so it’s not like my horses don’t get out at all) but it’s certainly felt a bit like a chore to tack up for the “same old” ride some days.

This week though, I got out there TWICE. Bridget’s fitness and soundness is at a point where I feel comfortable adding bigger terrain in, and the kind gentleman across the street is letting us ride through his property. It’s a little ‘Man From Snowy River’ getting up and down from the top of his property, but it allows us direct access to the less busy trails quite a distance from the main parking area and more popular routes.


Ready to go!

I got Sophie out for a short loop (and of course we did still encounter loose aggressive dogs but they were preoccupied with a big old dog fight - sounded like the owners were going at it too, actually - just my luck!) but guess who was the bravest pony and happily detoured around it all, paying very little attention to it? Staying focused on what we were doing and ignoring the crazy around us is kind of a big deal for my little drama banana pony. Of course she spooked hard at a stump a few minutes later, but hey, everyone knows those are super dangerous, right? ;) 

We didn’t brave the steep downhill home as she’s still finding her balance with a rider on the ups and downs, in typical funny baby horse ways. It’s shameful how green she is out there with a rider. Normally I’m all about putting the initial miles on outside, but poor Sophie has got a bit shortchanged.


We can ride up to here, but you've got to tie the horses and walk out on the bluffs to get good views. 

This weekend I tacked up both girls with the intent of heading to the ring, but I was kind of dragging my feet about it. Husband suggested another trail adventure instead and I’m so glad he did. I popped on Bridget first and he led Sophie.  I must look like the biggest, most spoiled princess ever riding one pony while my husband leads the other 😁 but he loves hiking, I love the company, and it’s pretty handy to trade ponies halfway through while B gets her fitness up and S learns the ropes. Poor guy is 6’4” though so of course everyone we see either assumes I’m a super spoiled child with 2 ponies or has to ask when I’m buying a horse his size so he can ride too 🙈



Anyway, Bridget absolutely shocked me by being on a mission, even up the steepest hills. She was feeling SO good. Sophie started off very fresh too, but as is the way with young horses, she went from that to zero energy in no time at all, so she had a short day and went back to being led.  She’s more than fit for trotting an hour in the arena, but hills and different surroundings to process with someone on her back is HARD.

B's ears, but Sophie tackled the puddles with zero issues too (besides being obsessed with taste testing/drinking from every single one)

Bridget’s enthusiasm and energy totally made my day though - I’ve missed our outings so much and am so, so pleased she didn’t find the addition of the hills difficult at all. My big hope is to keep her fit and sound enough for moderate trail outings,  with a bit of arena time to keep her supple and stretched. Standing around isn’t going to do her any good, but on the other end of the scale I’m not motivated to do all the things to keep her competition ready. I’m hopeful there’s a happy medium to be found that involves minimal vet support and a long, happy, sound life. 

My next ride will be on Sophie in the arena - I really need to work on her canter and our trails are too technical to get much of a canter in on.  But, it still feels really nice to know we’ve got safe trail access again!

'Safe' being subjective, lol. The hour long loop we can most easily access from the neighbours includes active industry, and these buildings contain the explosives. The owner is super nice and lets us use his access roads to ride on during the weekends. Combined with some connector trails, they will make an excellent pony fitness loop as we go up the mountain to the pit and back down.


 I’m looking forward to more weekend adventures in the future. Maybe even some better riding pictures when I get brave enough to pack a camera and take a hand or two off the wheel on Sophie ;)

.



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Monday, 23 November 2020

Pushing Through

Last Monday, Sophie managed to get her paddock gate knocked down and the gatepost broken right off at ground level so we had an inauspicious start to our last week's outings. She's too smart for her own good and knows the gate is the theoretical weak part of the fence where she should be able to exit, but she's obviously not totally clued into how to make it open properly (yet).

You get totally random pictures from the past month today, it's either been too dark or too wet for nice adventure pictures this past week.


Fixing fences in the dark and rain wasn't exactly my plan for the evening! I'm grateful that despite the amount of trouble she always seems to find herself in, she's sensible about it. The farm owner found her standing patiently in the debris, waiting to be freed - despite the electric wire still being on and giving her little reminders that she shouldn't be touching the fence. You'd almost want to feel sorry for her, but such things happen so frequently I was feeling annoyed.

Another day, same palomino found outside her assigned space.


Wednesday, Thursday I was working on something on central time, so I was off work early by my schedule. It worked out perfectly that I was able to get in a quick pony outing before dark. I ended up ponying Sophie out on Bridget, which in retrospect was a bit of a mistake. It's been a while and both ponies were feeling very good. Bridget is an absolute star, though, and helped me get it done. If she was a bit taller she'd make the most excellent pony horse at the track. Sophie was attempting every trick in the book and Bridget was on it...between her blocking Sophie with her shoulder and me on lead rope duty, none of Sophie's attempted escape attempts/play/tests amounted to much of anything and she had to resign herself to walking along beside us in her designated spot. How boring for her ;) The following night I took Bridget out solo for a nice ride and then I was brave enough to hop on for a walk/trot on Sophie. 
It's really a good thing she's cute.

I'm not sure I've mentioned that her current move is to kick/bite/buck/squeal/express general displeasure at your leg rather than just...you know...going forward. I saw it the first time I got on her, and again for her first canter, but then it went away because she understood (and honestly, probably because I was using less leg - she's a Mare in case she hasn't let you know lately).  That, in addition to her general energy levels, had me feeling like she might be a little more than I want to deal with right now without professional help. But, with a few recent outings and the edge taken off her worst impulses (plus a saddle check), I was feeling OK about getting back at it. We all know Bridget is wonderful, but her go to evasion is to hide behind the leg and I hate it. It was really bugging me that Sophie was wanting to try it on for size too, so my determination won over my confidence and I got on. After a few not so great moments, we had some solid up/down transitions without drama. Why did I get so in my head over it? It was literally so easy to fix.  I'm slowly figuring out how Ms Sophie works and there seems to definitely be a part of her that is just looking to mess around and play rather than get to work. If you get really firm with her she gets highly offended and loses confidence, but there is a place for calmly laying it all out and basically boring her via repetition into listening and learning. I think my big challenge with her is going to be walking the line between keeping her interested and focused but not letting it get too exciting or off track. Good thing I am a super focused and boring human :D

I was chatting with a friend who I grew up with and she just happens to have a bit of an interesting youngster right now as well. We kind of agreed that we can't beat ourselves up too hard for the days that don't feel like good days to push things too hard, but we've pledged to make sure we make the best of the days where it feels right! I'm the worst at getting in my head about all my shortcomings and the days I don't do as much as I think I should, so it was really nice to see someone else approaching things so logically and with so much more kindness to herself. 



Over the weekend, I met a couple of good friends at the big arena. Everyone brought their young horses because I think we're all a little in the same boat right now with our babies and the shorter days and COVID limitations. The giant arena works perfectly since we all hack or trailer in from different directions, use different access gates and generally have tons of room to ourselves while still being able to keep an eye on each other. 

One of the horses was on a longe line and VERY exuberant and at first Sophie was intrigued, but even with the giant arena now and then he was a little too in our space for her comfort and prone to seemingly random explosions (every time he got near - I swear he was showing off for her) so she was pretty worried and jumpy. While it was not our best ride ever, I was proud of her for trying her best - we even got some lovely transitions right off the bat this time. I took a page out of my coach's baby horse book and eventually parked her in the middle and let her enjoy a nice long time out before I got off, hopefully starting to give her the idea that the other horses activities have nothing to do with us and she's perfectly fine to just hang out quietly and enjoy a nice reward for being a good girl.



I feel like I'm not giving Bridget much attention here, because despite all the "Sophie, Sophie Sophie" I have been getting B out regularly too. I've added in some trotting on straight lines and she's feeling super good. Riding B is very much something I am grateful for and one of my happy places, so I almost feel superstitious about going on too much about how I am enjoying getting her out again.

In other most excellent news, the indoor arena is open again as of this week! 

I also have a decision to make re: what trailer I am buying, but I think that's a topic for another post!


Hint, one of options is the one we've been borrowing.

 

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Monday, 16 November 2020

Highs And Lows

 Oh my goodness, you wouldn’t believe how rotten Ms Sophie was this past week. Actually, if you read this blog with any regularity, maybe you would.

My horsey week ranged from texts from the barn that Sophie was playing so hard in the field that she was wiping out repeatedly, to having her wipe out under my supervision in the round pen. We were back to the non stop attempts to nip and paw, and of course standing tied is TORTURE again. 

Has feelings. Knows better than to fully express them so stands like this with her leg in the air...just so you know she wants to paw. 

The first few days of super energetic and naughty Sophie I chalked up to just paying my dues for giving her time off. Eventually though, I started to wonder if Adult Sophie is just going to kind of be...a lot. With a side of Capital D Drama.

But I’ve been super good about getting out consistently again. One of the great things about having horsey friends and a huge arena is that we can easily plan riding meet ups while still being responsible and following all the COVID guidelines. The second great thing is that I feel like I've got a super good group of riding friends right now and they are keeping me motivated!  My work schedule is just perfect now too and I’ve been quite lucky with the weather, only getting totally rained out on one ride recently. 

Mid week, I totally chickened out and asked friend R to hop on. Which proves what a nice person she is and what a crappy friend I am, because Sophie could have definitely done with more longeing (and a new attitude) first.

I finally got quite frustrated with S on Friday (as did Bridget, lol, I let her out to 'play' but by afternoon she was begging me to be put back into her own field away from the Sophie pest), so Bridget and I went out for a quiet hack instead. 


"Who me? She tells lies, I am the nicest pony."

Saturday started out the same as the previous week, but at one point Sophie’s eyes got big...I was like “Don’t you DARE!”...and so she didn’t and was actually fairly civilized the remainder of the afternoon. Maybe I did finally get my point across? Or she understands english and knows I was shopping online for something that doesn't need to be in as much of a program. She's a pony, either option is equally likely.

Yesterday, she must have finally run out of steam because she decided being asked to move faster than a snail is highly offensive, so opted to make that her daily daily drama, kicking at R's leg and bucking.

Mares!

Ponies!

Is tired now.

I did break down and message the trainer last week to book a spot for Sophie, but since she's a very good trainer we're waitlisted until May. We'll see where we're at then. Surprisingly, I'm kind of on the fence about it. The part of me that gets tired of how much work she is, is looking forward to her not being my problem for a bit and hopefully coming back with some more buttons I can use to keep her busy and focused. The more pragmatic part of me knows it's just a rough patch, it's typical smart young horse stuff, and that I have the tools and a good support network and we're doing just fine.

Two pony bottoms ready to go.

In other news, Bridget has been out quite a few days as well recently. Just walking around the neighborhood, acting as a portable couch, and generally keeping my sanity intact. She's feeling like a million bucks (literally) but walking and a little trot is where we're at as far as her fitness goes. I'm so grateful I can afford to keep the two of them, selling B would never be an option and I'm lucky to be able to have Sophie to keep life interesting and challenging!

B excelling at lawn mowing the other night while I did chores.

I have a feeling today's ride is going to be a good one :)




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Thursday, 12 November 2020

Garbage Dressage

 I wanted to submit some online dressage tests, but I was in need of some new markers. I’m guessing a lot of people are having similar thoughts because the cheap sets of cones are sold out everywhere (at least in Canada).

My next step was to just look for white cones. Nope, sold out too. White buckets? Maybe my google skills stink, but those white home improvement useful buckets are a pricey $15 each right now. Plus the metal handle needs to be removed.  Plain old traffic cones? Same story. I stopped in at our neighborhood recycling guy, but he didn’t have any old cones or buckets I could repurpose either.

Then, as I was picking out things for my new office space, I stumbled on these $2 IKEA garbage cans. They’re plastic, they’re stackable, and I think they’re going to work. 



If you’re looking for me, I’ll just be over here on my feral baby pony doing some walk/trot tests, and hopefully staying between the garbage bins 😁

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Monday, 9 November 2020

Catching Up

 Finally, my brain and body are feeling more energetic and in sync and I'm feeling a little better about life. Last week was a trial of a new daylight savings time work schedule and I LOVED it. I work half days Wednesdays and Fridays and of course still have weekends off. That means I have four not too crunched for light or time days I can ride or just generally horse around. I'm not sure how much my boss actually cared about the saga of the indoor arena being closed this year and sad me having nowhere to ride if it's dark... I'm just grateful he humors me :)

This week was just all about getting the ponies back to the idea of working. (TLDR catch up version: I got overwhelmed with work and depressed and didn't ride for 2 months. I've since quit the second job and amended the hours of the first. Not being exhausted and stressed makes everything better, who knew?)

Been a little while since there were ponies x2 waiting to be tacked up. S is SO much taller than Bridget now, I need to measure her again!

Two months off for a Bridget is actually sort of fine. She was a total wild child the first two outings and I didn't even end up getting on, just walked her around the neighborhood. I ended up doing 3 short rides on her this week. Trying to keep in mind her (lack of) fitness and on/off lameness, we just walked for 20-30 min or less and did one day on a short trail with a little hill. She says she'd love to do more, but she's feeling SO good, I don't want to break her! As always, I keep in the back of my mind that maybe we'll find the magic combination of diet/meds/fitness and she'll come back totally sound one day. 

Also... I popped Sophie's adjustable saddle on B (B's is not fitting...again) and it was a total revelation. WHY did I not ever ride her in a monoflap before? It's the best thing ever for a wide, round pony. So weird, because I don't like riding in that saddle at all on Sophie and have been saving pennies to get something better, but I LOVE it on B. Safe to say, we are keeping that saddle!


Someone is looking rather rotund (do I ever say otherwise? She gets two hours of this crappy grazing in the morning, one flake of hay and a scoop of hay cubes and vitamins morning and night...easy keeper or what.)

Her usual paddock. There's Sophie in the background, grazing pasture all day. I feel so mean some days.

Two months off for Sophie. Well, I'm sure we all knew that wasn't going to be a big success. I actually have no regrets about giving her a break, she did so well this summer and is growing and filling out like crazy....I think physically the time was a very good thing. Mentally though? Pony needs a job.  It would have been nice if I had have at least kept some kind of consistent routine with her, because feral doesn't even begin to describe the first few days. 

Arabian tail and dragon snorts all day.


She settled down a lot by Saturday - I took her out to the club grounds for a visit and she was pretty civilized even with other horses cantering around and doing horsey things. Yesterday was the first day she came out and checked in right away and I probably could have hopped on and ridden. I didn't though, because I've got a helper lined up for this Wednesday afternoon. S has been incredibly sharp and spooky this week and 'forgotten' just about anything she knows (I should have videoed her reaction to the saddle when I longed her in it...omg, rodeo, anyone?),  so despite being 99.9% sure she's back in a good frame of mind,  I think it's a wise choice to wait until we have adult supervision. 


See? There's dragon steam! ;)

Fingers crossed, this will have been the last big break she's getting and she'll be on an adult riding horse schedule now. In the past I've often given my horses a week or two off here or there throughout the year, but I think I'm going to nix that plan with this one. I keep waiting for her to mature mentally, but at 4.5 years old I think this might just be who she is :D

Yes, we see your attitude, Sophie.

I love this one.

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Thursday, 22 October 2020

Learning By Doing

I may have mentioned in my last post how excited I was to quit my second job. As of last weekend, I worked my final shift and my last week of working 8 days a week. I'm going from 2 - 4 day a week jobs, (overlapping on one day a week - Thursdays were FUN, guys) to just the one, so not only do I get days off again, I get long weekends every week. While my finances will take a hit, my quality of life will be back to a 5* rating. Just not being tired all the time makes a world of difference in my outlook and energy levels.

I've been decompressing a little this week and spending time with my husband so I don't have any exciting riding progress to share with you all. 

I did manage to get my winter feeding and hay organized. It's probably overkill considering I own a Bridget who would likely thrive after the apocalypse, and a Sophie who's not overly fussy or complicated, but I like to sit down in the fall and look at the nutritional analysis for my winter hay and what's available  to fill any gaps.  Luckily, I got my questions easily sorted out with a chat with the vet who recommended the vitamin/mineral blend I already feed them. Easy peasy!


Thriving on weeds, a handful of hay, and a scoop of balancer. 

I recently impulse bought a pair of pretty blue stirrups and they arrived in the mail yesterday. Because...I don't know why. It's highly unlike me to impulse buy anything, especially something I don't need. But they were calling my name and on a super sale, and I was stressed and weak. They make me happy, maybe sometimes that's a good enough reason to spend $150.

Guess I have to start jumping again? :D


The delivery man also brought my first pair of clippers! I've previously paid to have my horses clipped when necessary, but there is no one here currently offering that service. Plus, it can't be so hard?


Wrong.


I'm on the fence about bothering to try to fix it. It's going to annoy me forever, but it's functional, and busy pony doesn't ever truly stand still. She's smart enough to know she'll get in trouble if she moves her feet around or moves into me while I'm there, but there are a million other ways a pony can fidget...the lead rope quickly becomes fascinating to twirl and catch, the barn needs to be licked...  So, maybe we just call it good enough considering it was the first clip for both of us.

Mud monster

In related antsy pony news, I had  a super busy day at work on Tuesday and so my wonderful husband offered to hold Sophie for the farrier. I don't know whether to laugh or cry because she was a complete jerk for my husband and despite me leaving her haltered in the round pen, no one could catch her. I guess now she looks positively angelic with me, lol. 

It's honestly a bit of a struggle some days. I know most barns and riders would find her pretty easy to deal with, but there are a lot of people newer to horses and/or casual riders here so she's got a bit of a bad, wild child label. I get a lot of unhelpful/hurtful commentary and opinions at times. 

B’s gone wild too!

Anyway, she'll be back to light work starting this weekend and I've got a plan to scale it up a bit for winter so she'll have a bit more to occupy her days. We'll probably all be happier with that.




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Friday, 2 October 2020

Priorities

 Yesterday, I  wrote out a whole post on how I’ve been busy and stressed and sad and basically haven’t had a day off in weeks and have been tired and not been riding at all. 

So fun.

This morning, I read that post one more time prior to hitting publish, and was like “WTF, who is this person? I feel sad for her, but I don’t like her at all.” 

Today, I again had a bit of a busy day. Good busy. Stressful in a way, but oh so fun in others.

 I quit my part time early morning barn  job. The extra cash for horses was nice, but it’s not like I have a shortage of my own horsey chores to do on any given day If I really decide I need the money, I can just pick up an hour or two extra a week at my real job and (sad but true) make the same amount. Besides, I think I just have to face that I’m not ever going to be a morning person. 5am is not a happy time for me.

When hay is $706.20 a ton, you can’t blame me for thinking a second job made sense.

Next, I cancelled two weekend riding clinics for October. That sucked, but I’m sure some of you will have experienced the negative side of trying to organize and participate in such things. I’m sure I’ll be back at in the future, but for now I’m just going to look after myself and just figure out my own learning (thank you again for the remote lesson tips, everyone)



Then, I had a nice chat with the people who matter. I’m sad, I’m overwhelmed, and I’m scaling back all the extra stuff so I have time for the people and things I love. Such a simple concept, yet somehow so hard for me to execute - this isn’t the first time I’ve overdone it with commitments and promises and it probably won’t be the last.



Just 24 hours later, I feel so much better. I finished the day by cleaning tack and giving both girls a good grooming, so we’re ready to ride.



So, let me reintroduce myself: Hi, I’m T. I work 40 hours a week at a job I enjoy. My husband is my best friend. I’m incredibly lucky.  I also have two lovely ponies, and I enjoy riding them. I have some dressage goals, but I might go eventing again some time, too.  

I’m looking forward to getting out again, especially on these gorgeous fall evenings and weekends.



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Sunday, 27 September 2020

Turning Round

 Both ponies have been insatiably hungry lately. For Bridget, that’s pretty normal. She’s ridiculous and needs to be rationed at all times. 

Angrily eating shrubberies because I starve her, obviously.


For Sophie, it’s not normal at all. I often leave her a bale of hay in a net in her shelter and she just picks at what she wants. Over the course of being in at night for a week or so, it gradually disappears. Don’t get me wrong, some weeks it goes faster than others, but generally speaking she consumes about what you’d want and expect her to overnight. Such a nice treat when your other pony is a Bridget!

Nom nom nom




Then, a few weeks ago, she pulled a Bridget and ate the bale of hay in 48 hours. I chalked it up to the weather being super awful and her maybe being a little damp and cool and not leaving her shelter. Then it happened again. And again...and still, it’s happening. 3 days or so and her hay net is empty.  She’s eating all day if the food is there and with no real weight gain. Cue me grumbling about hay prices and Bridget teaching Sophie bad things.


Sophie eating shrubberies because Bridget told her to (probably)

I did the normal horse person checklist. Deworming needed? Teeth up to date? Is the hay less nutritious? The grazing not as good? There were enough maybes (I’m using up the last of my hay from a year ago, the pasture isn’t as good as it was and the weather’s been cooler so she’s been VERY playful and energetic) that I decided to just keep an eye on it.

Then yesterday, I thought I’d double check her saddle fit. I’ve been looking for a new to us saddle and wanted to check her against the County chart. Check this out:


The thicker green line is yesterday’s, the other exactly 2 months ago. It’s unreal to me how much she’s filled out in her top line. Since spring, we’ve gone from a medium narrow fit to a wide in most saddles.

 Holy crap, is she ever filling out! If you recall, she grew nearly 3 inches in height as well this past spring/summer, which seems crazy to me. She’s 4, not 2! I upped her vitamin/minerals a bit earlier this spring when it became apparent she wasn’t done growing. I think I’ll leave them at the higher rate for now and keep giving her all the hay she wants - apparently she’s using it!!


“I come in for dinner now?”

 Sophie’s also within the realm of fitting Bridget’s saddle. I’d actually use it with her half pad if it wasn’t too long on her. I remeasured them both because that seemed so crazy weird, but as my husband helpfully pointed out, Bridget seems wide because she is -she’s built like  a tank. She’s also forever a bit overweight and is built like a corgi, so she looks even wider than she is (somewhere between a wide/extra wide tree in most British saddles) 




Sophie has the same round pony barrel, but (aside from her cute ears) that’s the only pony thing about her - her legs are proportionate and she’s average sized in front and behind. She keeps herself pretty fit and defaults  to an appropriate weight for her build. So, I guess that’s why she seems like she’s tall and narrow compared to B. 



I identify with Bridget strongly because every time I lend out an item of clothing, I’m surprised it’s the right size my average height and weight friends...I guess those extra few inches in height make a difference in people too, lol. 


Anyway, I’m so, so glad I didn’t buy Sophie a “real” saddle yet. Not only would she have outgrown it in 2 short months, but it seems I might need that money for extra hay :D

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Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Looking For Recommendations

 It’s been quiet here! First we were inundated with smoke and terrible air quality for a week, then it cleared up on the weekend only for us to be facing some pretty significant storms coming our way starting tonight and lasting a few more days. Both ponies had the week off with the awful air quality, as did I, so I spent Sunday trimming their feet, giving them a good bath and grooming, picking paddocks, and fixing fences (bad Sophie!) Sophie needs consistency and is going a little bananas. Thank goodness they’re still on summer turnout and she can run and play to her heart’s content. I took the easy way out and didn’t ride fire breathing Sophie yesterday when I knew we’d just be on hold again due to wind/rain storms the next few days. I’ll normally happily ride in the wind and rain, but my west coast friends can probably back me up that the first big storm of the season isn’t the time to head out on the trail (or go anywhere else near a tree, really.) Safety first and pick your battles, guys ;)

You can see Bridget’s really itching to get back at it, too ;) 


Anyway, on to my request for recommendations...

My ‘whiny’ post that I didn’t ever end up publishing revolved around the fact that our new arena footing isn’t holding up to rain and will need to be redone. Plus, the indoor area is closed to the public until at least spring 2021 due to Covid. And, well, it’s a small equestrian community here and there isn’t really anywhere else for me to go.  So, my winter riding is looking a little different than I had mapped out. Fingers crossed we can use at least part of the outdoor through winter (it’s gigantic)  but I’m not feeling confident.

It looks like we’ll be hitting the trail! We’ve always got lots of those! My ultra whiny post may have touched on the fact our trails are generally rocky and steep and it’s mostly walking only. But, better than nothing right? It’s weird I used to do nothing but trail ride, now I’m bored by walking everywhere horseback. I think it’s because I’ve been doing so much hiking and am getting my outdoor exercise fix that way. Anyway, trail riding.... I just need to slap a set of shoes on Sophie and away we go...or we would, if we had a local farrier. We do have someone who comes from the city every eight weeks, but 1) I’m 99.9% sure Sophie is not the pony to keep a full set of shoes attached to her feet for 8 week intervals. 2) She really wants to be underrun with long toes and needs to be trimmed more frequently than that. If she doesn’t have shoes I can take her toes back a little between pro visits.

So, readers, tell me all about your favourite hoof boots. I’ve measured Sophie and she’s a closer fit to the Renegade boots than anything, although the Scoot boots look like a definite maybe.


Renegades - everyone needs a pair of red shoes. I worry she overreaches. She could grab the heel part on these and rip them off? 

Scoot boots - these look like horse sandals :) They’d drain well?


Easyboot gloves on paper don’t look like they’d work...and I do have a set for Bridget that I’m not pleased with (I tried the epics too with minimal luck) so I’m more interested in trying a different brand. 

Ideally, we’re looking for the holy grail of being able to walk/trot/canter on gravel roads, plus navigate west coast mud and steep rocky hills. I don’t need traction in snow because we don’t get much (if snow is even a thing you could do with boots.)

Question #2

I’m feeling so isolated here. I know this is something I’ve mentioned before, but do any of you do real time remote lessons? I feel like the idea could be so close to reality with the Pivo and some Bluetooth ear buds (if only the Pivo worked for me) But, I do have good cell service and a husband who’d video...is there an app for that? Could it be so simple as a Zoom call, or is there a better way? 

Thanks everyone!

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Sunday, 13 September 2020

Smoky Skies And Riding

The wildfire smoke from the south made its way up to us this weekend. Like a lot of  BC coastal communities, we’re perched between the ocean and a substantial mountain range. In normal times, that’s why we get so much rain - the clouds and air masses hang out here for a while before they continue east. In times like these, that’s why we currently have the some of the worst air quality in the world. 

Weather today = Smoke

So, I cancelled out of the clinic I was supposed to ride in all weekend. I regret losing that money, but I don’t feel like it would be a great choice for my health, let alone my horses, and that’s obviously more important than a couple of hundred dollars.

Which got me wondering...am I overreacting? I know for myself it’s a no go regardless as just going out there to check the horses has me coughing and wheezing (Yay, asthma!). But what about the horses?

My google search came up with this chart: 

I couldn’t find an origin or credit for this. Further googling shows it follows the Air Quality Index chart for humans (image below), which seems reasonable.



For humans. Our current AQI is 287


Further googling found this Guidelines For Horses Exposed to Wildfire Smoke article from UC Davis. It’s well worth  a read as there is a good bit of info there and a few useful links.

Do what you will with the information, but here are my take homes:

- Little research done, for now it’s reasonable to use the human AQI chart for horses
- If smoke is visible, limit exercise.
- Horses exposed to wildfire smoke should be given time off work after to the event. Can take up to 4-6 weeks to recuperate.
- Drinking more water is helpful, encourage that.
- Consider soaking hay to reduce other irritants (dust, pollen, etc in hay)

Like humans, I imagine our horse’s reactions to air quality could be a somewhat individual thing. My two seem perfectly content today. Sophie has been entertaining everyone with silly antics because she doesn’t read or care about health warnings. I see a lot of shows and events are continuing on, and I’d hope that means everyone there  is feeling great too.

Anyway, I thought the above info might be worth a share for those of us lucky enough that wanting to ride in bad air pollution is our biggest worry. 

Stay safe, everyone. Crossing fingers hard for lots of rain for all those affected by the fires. 


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