Thursday 24 December 2020

Sophie And The Grinch

 Sophie's REALLY into the festive spirit this season:

Ready to pull Santa's sleigh

Bridget isn't feeling it:

"I'll show you where you can put your sleigh. Christmas is cancelled."

"Back off. I am scary and do not want to visit my house"

Sophie, ever, the optimist, thinks surely Bridget is just joking (and who can blame her, B is adorable even when angry). Maybe she just needs a bit more festive cheer and she'll come to the party?

Doesn't seem to be working?

"Get out of bed, Bridget, Christmas is almost here!"

I'm no expert, but I don't think this is the way to get Bridget to play.

Yep, you're not making her especially cheery, Sophie ;)

B's happy face after Sophie went home for the night.

Hoping you all have a great holiday season, if that's your thing! No matter what, I hope everyone gets a bit of a break to relax and refresh before the new year.


Monday 21 December 2020

Blog Hop: 2020 Summary; Covid Edition

 Sitting here on a very dark and wet Monday morning, it's hard to feel overly inspired by much of anything. So, HUGE shout out to Alaina at Alberta Equest for for giving those of us feeling the grind of short winter days the gift of a year end blog hop!

What's the Best Thing That Happened To You in 2020?

Personal: My quality of life and work/life balance are amazing now. I was away from home 3+ days a week working for years, and not even living in the same province for yours before that, so working from home and being able to have a normal schedule where I can self board, go for walks at lunch, have dinner with my husband is so wonderful.

Lots of long beach walks and sunsets together this summer, too, like something from a cheesy dating profile ;)

Horsey: Sophie got going under saddle and it's safe to say I enjoy riding her most days (always the risk when you buy a baby - it's not like you can hop on and have a test ride!)

Not sure Sophie thought starting her was my best idea, though ;)

What's The Worst Thing That Happened To You in 2020?

Personal: I got so depressed last summer/fall and feel like I let some people down when I just couldn't follow through on commitments and said some things I shouldn't have. 

Horsey: Bridget having trouble with heaves/allergies again, loose dogs biting them both. Falling off and getting a (totally preventable) concussion.

What Was Your Biggest Purchase in 2020?

Personal: My husband was laid off in March so it's been a bit different here spending wise. We own rental houses so I suspect our 'big' purchases probably are boring things like having a gas fireplace replaced or a new washing machine. Yay!

Horsey: Again, for the most part a pretty austere budget. With hay at $700/ton that's the obvious winner, but I did buy some things on Black Friday sales - new helmets x2, 'fancy' stirrups and leathers, new riding tights, and hoof boots for Sophie come to mind.

I caved to the trend and bought a budget version and yes, these do make a noticeable difference to how secure I feel in my jump saddle.

What Was Your Biggest Accomplishment in 2020?

Personal: A new job offer and negotiating better terms with my existing one. Putting myself out there is not my comfort zone, so that was actually a big accomplishment for me.

Horsey: Pushing through the confidence issues and backing my baby horse myself - again maybe not a big deal for some, but for me, in this year, keeping positive and consistent enough to make any progress involved a lot of dedication and resolve.

What Do you Feel Covid Robbed You Of in 2020?

Personal: I guess the obvious things like vacations away from home, some events and social gatherings I normally look forward to.

Horsey: Vets were only doing emergency calls last spring, so no 2021 Bridget foal. Also, no horse shows and the fun clinics I sign up for had to be scaled back to private lessons.

Were You Subject To Any Covid Impulse Buys in 2020?

Personal: 'Lake Bridget'. How could I not?

Horsey: I needed a new helmet and totally ordered an extra in addition to the MIPS one I really wanted. It's not overly spendy, but it's a special edition one from a youtube vlogger who's average audience age is, much less than mine. And when, exactly, am I planning to go cross country again? But it's cute color scheme and cover makes me smile, so in the cart it went.

And I'm going to add one more:

Unexpected Silver Linings in 2020?

Personal: Me working from home and my husband being laid off has been super fun. He's been working shiftwork where he alternates days and nights each week for 30+ years so it's pretty cool to have time together and be awake at the same time :D

Horsey: The non essential travel ban meant I had to get outside my comfort zone with Sophie - no sending her away for training, and far fewer lessons than I would have wanted. It's given me a lot more self belief and problem solving skills. Not breeding B gave me another year to think on it and I found a stallion I'm pretty excited about for 2021.


Wednesday 16 December 2020

Leggings, Breggings, And Breeches, Oh My!

Covid has created more than a few lifestyle changes of late. One of the few I'm kind of enjoying is not having to dress for the office. We all joke about living in our pajamas this year, and while I do get dressed in the morning, it's usually just leggings and a t-shirt. 

Last year, it was one set of clothes for work, one for riding, one for the gym/hiking and one for normal person living. To be fair, there has always been some crossover between gym/exercise and riding, but my office clothes in particular never intersect with the rest of my life and my breeches have always been strictly for riding. 

This year, my home office trend of leggings and a t-shirt transitioned right over to lunch time walks and after work rides more often than not. I've got a few pairs of nice running leggings that don't sag or roll down, have a nice big phone pocket, don't require a belt, and are flattering and presentable if I have to run an errand or two.  I went through my closets the other day and realized my breeches and riding specific clothes got as much use as my show clothes last year (ie, none!) I've even got some ancient Kerrits tights that should fit the bill, but I find them unflattering on me and uncomfortable.

While I love how polished and professional a lot of you (and of course all of my instagram feed) look while you're riding, I'm just not there for it myself anymore. It seems like manufacturers have caught on and there a ton of different riding leggings/breggings options on the market now. I'm totally in for that trend! 

While I admittedly will probably keep riding in leggings, a little discreet silicone would be a bonus *cough*Sophie*cough* Not having a clue what I wanted beyond 'leggings with silicone', I ordered two very different types:

First up, I've tried the Shires Aubrion Porter Winter Legging.

Cost: ~$60

Pros: Fleece lined and SO soft and comfy. Literally like pajamas. There is some small branding on the hip and color on the ankle, but I think they pass for exercise leggings too. The silicone dots are pretty discreet and don't scream 'I ride horses!' Price point is very fair and I think they're flattering on.

Cons: At least on me, they get a little stretched by day's end. I probably could have gone a size down, but I think they just aren't the most expensive legging and so they do stretch a bit too much. While they are warmer than most leggings, they are in no way wind or water resistant and I wouldn't recommend them as 'warm' to anyone who gets a real winter. I'd also love for them to have a pocket. I'm 5'2" on a good day and the waist is very high and little prone to a little sagging/rolling by days end - if I was a person who wanted to tuck my shirt in I'd definitely be frustrated by that. Still, I guess the more unstructured feel is part of why they're so comfortable so I can't have it all.

Overall: I don't think these are going to last forever, but I wear them 3-4 times a week because they're just so comfortable and our winter climate is just perfect for them. For the price, they're comparable with a mid range non equestrian winter legging, so even if they just last me a season or two or are relegated to around the house, I'd be tempted to buy a new pair next year. I kind of love them for what they are.

Second up: PS Sweden Mathilde Technical Legging.

Cost ~$125. 

Pros: I got the navy color and it's gorgeous - a super dark blue that goes with anything. The fabric in general is super nice, stretchy but still providing structure, looking a lot more polished than a straight up legging. The silicone seat is perfect - I don't feel stuck but it's there. Big phone pocket on the thigh with silicone inside so your phone doesn't pop out - a nice compromise with having a pocket but not a cargo pant look :) As with many of these tights, there is a large brand on the thigh, but it's the same color as the fabric so only visible close up. These are super flattering and came highly recommended. I feel like there is good value for the money with these too, they're way nicer than others in the price range and more than nice enough for lessons - they have fake pockets that make them look like proper breeches. The waistband is higher but it's wide, which I appreciate - it stays put, doesn't roll down and is quite slimming plus there's no pulling it up all day. These tights definitely work with or without a belt.

Cons: Let's be real, they are still pricey as compared to straight up exercise leggings. If you're looking for something not obviously equestrian that could transition to the gym or grocery shopping these might not be your top choice, they're closer to a breech than a lot of options out there. They are a tiny bit long on me personally, but would be perfect on anyone of a normal height.

Overall: I absolutely love these ones, but could do without the fake back pocket detail and the belt loops. I will definitely be ordering a pair in black, though.

Wine color is nice tho too.

These are an excellent one to try if you're loving the look of breeches but want to try out a riding tight. I can see myself selling all my 'real' everyday breeches and just living in these when I want to look nice and continuing to use plain old running tights for everyday.

Anyone else have a favorite to recommend? I'd be totally in for some summer weight ones with a pocket, minimal branding, and a discreet silicone full seat :)


Tuesday 15 December 2020

Check Your Gear - Weekend Update and Helmet PSA

 I had such a nice outing on Bridget last Saturday. We ventured up to the nearby lake on a rainy, quiet morning. Owning a younger horse these days, I find myself appreciating Bridget all the more. Hop on for a last minute solo outing in the 'wilderness' after a week off? Sure, why not? :)

Happy ears

It's probably been over a year since we were last up there and while I very much enjoyed and missed it, it's so different! The trails have been super busy and our previously narrow winding paths are more like roads these days. I bumped into 3 separate groups, even on a truly yucky day, where before I'd never see anyone. It gives things a very different feel than before, but not necessarily in a bad way - it's nice not getting hit by branches the whole way and it's nice to see all the happy people out enjoying the day.

Dark and gloomy day, but we still enjoyed it

Sophie was also surprisingly good after a week off. I'm obviously not at a point where I'd take her on the trails alone. Honestly, despite all efforts I'm not sure she's ever going to be the world's happiest trail horse, which hurts my soul as I take great pride in having really solid trail horses! Anyway, we were alone, so off to the arena we went.

I was having the best ride ever and getting some really nice trot work, but as is my luck, as I asked for canter a door(?) slammed and Sophie hesitated and jumped away from the noise slightly, like it was barely a spook. But, if you don't have your girth done up properly, and you're a rider like me who is all 'la la la we are cantering the other way, now' well it was enough to send her saddle and myself the opposite way. Fun times. Poor girl was like "WHY is my saddle THERE?" and jumped a little more and the saddle rolled even more and I hit the deck in the most unexciting fall ever. But, my negligence wasn't quite done yet, because while I did order a new helmet, it hasn't arrived yet and I was using the one that drives me nuts because the chin strap loosens as you ride. So my super unexciting fall got a bit more interesting when my helmet shifted and the back edge of it caught me behind the ear and made that lovely sound where you know 1. This is going to hurt 2. I've probably given myself a concussion.

Interlude to appreciate the Christmas tree that was set up...actually quite a useful little exercise for picking your line and staying straight. I started the easy was by coming in over the poles and out over the points, but she was honest when I reversed it too.


Sophie was the best pony ever and despite a super annoying saddle hanging under her belly, quietly made her way back over to me and stood. I appreciate that - I was having visions of her galloping off into the sunset and hurting herself and destroying her tack. Also, after owning a horse who would panic and bolt if the rider ever lost balance, it's kind of a relief to know Sophie is up for a joke. She's a spicy, reactive thing and I have to admit it was always lurking in the back of my mind that despite all my groundwork and effort desensitizing her, she might panic if things were ever to get interesting!

The tack and Sophie have no damage. I am not so lucky and felt a bit unsteady when I stood up, but in the theme of being negligent, got back on to make sure I hadn't scared the poor pony and that we were both fine. She was fine, I felt not so fine. Yuck.

Oh look, a picture from last weekend with my helmet tipping forward...what a strange coincidence ;)

I'm feeling much better today and I've put in another helmet order (turns out the one I ordered months ago is still backordered and they haven’t even started making it yet) in hopes I can get one here in the near-ish future. I do have a spare one, but after this weekend I'm kind of over the cheap ones that (at least on me)  never really feel as solid or secure as I'd ideally want.

So, basically, let my story serve as a PSA to check your gear. On a younger horse you're maybe not as familiar with it's probably a wise idea to check your girth mid ride. Helmet wise - if the foam compresses or you cut your hair and it starts to feel a little big or the harness feels like you can't quite get it right anymore, don't mess around. I just have a mild concussion but it could have easily been prevented with a little more attention to detail.

That being said, I really was having such a good ride and am super excited to get back at it SOON :D


Monday 7 December 2020

Weekend Warrior Style

A couple of weeks in, and I'm not loving this normal work week thing at all. How on earth did I manage it before? 

There really are times when I sure miss the days of full board and indoor riding arenas! And I would love a good lesson right now.

Current barn lighting situation at 4:30pm

But, to give the ponies their due, they were both excellent this weekend despite not being ridden since the previous Sunday.

Lucky girls did get some sunshine and a couple of days without blankets this week. We're paying for it today with a return of the winter rain and darkness.

On Saturday, I ended up using ever so safe Bridget as my transport to the arena and stupid boots rubbed a huge hole in my heel again so I was extra grateful that I can just hop on my portable couch bareback to get wherever I need to go. Sophie got the proper ride in the arena, while Bridget had a nap at the rail. She's hilarious.

Hi Bridget.

The following day I discovered last minute was farrier day, so unfortunately we didn't get our trail expedition as I worried their feet would be a little tender for that immediately post trim. (I have ordered front boots, though so fingers crossed we'll be good to go in the future.) We instead went to the arena for the second day in a row and I had plans of letting Bridget have fun trot around a little pole course. She loves jumping but I've only just added a little canter back in to her life so trot poles are the best I can do. Sadly, she was lame at trot and while my logical self knows it felt like she was just footsore, my emotional self is worried she played too hard in the round pen or in the field and is broken again.

Because there were some Bridget shenanigans this week.

ANYWAY. Sophie.

Sophie seemed really sane this weekend (for her), so I hopped on without longeing (living on the edge, T, LOL) and had pretty boring rides.

Lots and lots of walk/trot transitions with an emphasis on just fine tuning the baby horse stuff. Halt-Walk-Halt transitions are pretty much off my seat now, which is cool. Trot is way, way better but still there's that moment of hesitation like she's thinking about being sticky, sometimes a grumpy face. Once she's in trot that goes away and it's more like she's dragging you around, so again I felt like transitions were the answer to getting her softer. I've been adding in spirals as well, which I'm also finding helpful in the transitions. Someone at some point had me thinking leg yield for transitions for the young horses - not literally, of course, but the idea is to keep that bit of bend and roundness through the transition where my horses, at least, often want to brace. My short term plan is to also set us up take advantage of my very favorite baby canter exercise - leg yield at trot on the long side to the wall before the corner and canter. I need to book the indoor so I can have a wall to help me, but I think it might be a big help with canter leads/transitions for her. Our outdoor is so huge it's easy to kind of get lost and wobble around everywhere.

I've had setting up a different pole course to give us some straightness cues on my to do list forever. 

I've been extra vigilant on the longe, insisting her transitions are sharper than I had been. I'm almost feeling like she didn't really understand the connection with my leg and forward - I mean, she understood the basics, but she's a mare and the 'why should I?' --> 'you've insulted me, so just try to make me' happens very quickly. The whole 'ask, ask, tell' thing was escalating by the second ask. So, a step back, with a verbal cue as I would on the longe, along with the most polite reminder with my leg and off we go. I'm also trying to be more conscious of keeping my leg wrapped around her a little more so it's just there always and not so 'insulting' :)

Is cute, is also easily insulted.

Ideas for things to work on this week (and the next, and the next, probably ;):

-I've sacrificed the up transitions a little by just being happy with a reasonably immediate forward response. I know I should be focusing on keeping them really straight and balanced every time too.

-She's reverted back to being not so great to bridle. Not dangerously terrible, but I think if any of you have had a horse that's a bit difficult you know it's a little bit of a self fulfilling prophecy...they swing or lift their head suddenly and then you've hit their teeth and now it's a 'thing' again for a while. I need to take a time out to get that back to a better place - she's easy to halter and she's very polite taking her bridle off so I think it's just going to take a little time.

- Book the indoor arena and 'cheat' a little with the walls to help clarify canter departs and leg yield.

- Easy to say, hard to do, but just be more confident in my riding. We're doing just fine. We're not perfect, and that's OK.


Thursday 3 December 2020

Just Some Ponies Having Fun

 Despite all my talk about self care, old habits die hard and I've signed up for some extra hours at work. I may have finally learned my lesson a little though, because I go back to my normal horse friendly schedule after Christmas with no plans of changing it any time soon!

I did plan ahead and leave some hours free late Wednesday afternoons, so I get horsey time then and on weekends. My husband has the time, so he's been driving up to feed the horses in the morning. He usually mucks out too, which probably makes me 11/10 spoiled. If I'm being honest, I really like the day to day care aspect of horses and feel a little guilty he's taken some of it on, so I miss it. But, he's happy doing it too and it's kind of fun that we negotiate who's doing what chores because we both like doing them. I'm pretty sure Bridget still likes him best, but Sophie's a good girl and remembers who pays the bills ;)

Who's a good girl? Actually, never mind, sorry Sophie, by all objective calculations that would be Bridget.

Anyway, Wednesday. My mid week day to get out. It was a bit of a failure this week. We've had gorgeous sunshine-y days, but yesterday the fog never lifted and with it getting dark I felt like it was just too unsafe to lead two horses down the road to the arena. (I'm STILL waffling over the new vs used trailer situation, BTW. I know the simpler used one is the way to go but my heart really wanted the shiny new one with all the options and my husband was kind of 'meh' over the used one too)

Is a good girl

So, I had two hyped up ponies, a dark and foggy afternoon and nowhere to go. I briefly thought about turning them out in a bigger field together to burn off some energy playing, but the fields are sadly still too wet right now for the kind of damage I suspect the ponies want to inflict on them.

Off to the little used round pen we went. The footing is a bit below average and overgrown in the centre, but the horses seem to handle it just fine and both really enjoyed having an opportunity to play and show off a little. 

Her best impression of a pony potato

If we're being completely honest, I recognize there are times a round pen is useful for training, but the day to day of tying my girls to groom and tack, then walking them down the road to the arena on a regular basis seems to be enough to keep manners and responses well tuned out of the saddle.  So, rather than an educational place, the round pen at the farm has instead evolved to a place for them to go have fun. Which, I think is a good thing, because generally speaking I am not a lot of fun and I don't let them play on the longe or under saddle. Plus, it's great for pictures :)

Is a dolphin?

So fierce, B, so fierce ;)

Is tired now.


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 ;)



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 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.