Wednesday 29 April 2020

A Walk In The Woods

Not on horseback, this time, but with so many of us being contained to our homes I thought it might be nice to post some sights from a recent hike. We've been getting out walking or hiking in our backcountry a few times a week and in the absence of riding, it's the next best thing.

Most good walks start out on a logging road
Because that's where the trails head out from! This is a super old railway grade and in better times a great trail to ride.

Salmon berries blooming in a clearing.
Elderberries are in flower too
Mossy Douglas Fir
Red currant in a clearing
Getting up a little higher, the salal and smaller douglas firs are giving the upland forest game away :)
Brand new bracken ferns uncurling on a rocky bluff.
Wild strawberries! Bookmarking this spot for summer!
Finally, we made it! The view from the top! Looking south.
Looking north. This is an ocean inlet, and all the little islands to the north are part of a marine park I'd like to visit again one day (I need a boat!)
Looking west. On a clearer day, you'd see Vancouver Island in the distance, but let's be real, this is the west coast and  clouds are semi-permanent. We're just lucky we missed the worst of the rain :)
Stay safe, everyone!

Monday 27 April 2020

Helmet Sale PSA

Just a quick heads up, especially for my Canadian friends - if you're needing a new helmet Greenhawk currently has them on sale until May 3rd. Charles Owen helmets are 40% off including the new MIPS one, and other brands like Kask, Tipperary, One K, etc are 15-25% off. There's a bunch of other sales too, but I thought the helmets might be worth a PSA since it seems rare to find them on sale.

I'm thinking having a spare helmet won't hurt with this lovely young pony around.

Monday 20 April 2020

Staying Busy and Grateful

Like a lot of people, I recently was given the gift of a lot more free time. Not commuting saves about 8 hours of travel and two nights away from home every week. I'm still working full time (feeling very grateful for that!), but my part time side job is on hold until fall. That's another 8 hours a week. Cutting down riding and barn time also adds up to a few more free hours a week. I've probably got close to an extra full 24 hr day at this point!

This post brought to you by pictures of ponies being busy.

Of course, me being me, I luxuriated in that free time for a few days, then gradually proceeded to fill my days up, bit by bit, to the point where I am once again feeling like there is not enough time in the day for all the things I'm doing. Even so, I'm so much happier than a few months ago and feel like I've got a great work/life balance going on right now.

Even Bridget's in on it!

The difference? Aside from wanting more riding time, the free space in my calendar has been filled with things I enjoy (hiking, photography, reading good horse training books), projects around the house and yard I've wanted to do forever, and online courses I've had bookmarked for a very long time. It feels like I'm making progress, and it feels refreshing to have more freedom to explore all the things I don't normally have time for. I love having a more flexible schedule and the choice to tackle whatever appeals to me on the day.

So, let's add this to the list of things I'm learning about myself right now:

The horses are great, but there is a lot to be said for making time for a wider variety of interests and hobbies.

My husband has been laid off his job for a month now and they may not ever start back up at this point (paper mill - they make paper towel, the irony of that business going under right now is crazy :) and while that's obviously stressful in some ways, he's also feeling like he's been given a bit of a gift to have all this free time. If only I'd cook every night and the NFL and NHL were still playing, his life would be perfect.(Kidding! sort of)

 For now, I'm employing him as head poo picker and wheelbarrow pusher at the barn. The pay is shitty, ( ha, cracking myself up :) but the horses are friendly. After about 10 years of rarely having a day off at the same time, this whole both being home for weeks on end together thing is actually pretty special.

I hope the rest of you are doing well and staying healthy. I found staying positive this past week a bit more challenging than it has been. In addition to just staying busy and giving myself permission to work towards the future and do more things I enjoy (I feel guilty doing enjoyable things when so many are, to say the least, not), I really found LWilliam's post here to be helpful and timely this morning.


Thursday 16 April 2020

Just Being Ourselves

We've had a slightly different barn life for about a week now. 
After weighing the pros and cons of having the girls living together rather than in separate paddocks, I opted to try them together again last week and I'm glad I did. As I thought, Sophie went from mildly obsessive over Bridget's whereabouts to full on creeper, but since we aren't going too far any day soon, who really cares? 

They're getting along much better than last time. Bridget was treating Sophie a bit like her foal and was spoiling her a bit and it went to Sophie's head big time (remember the summer of smashed fences and temper tantrums?). Now, she's treating her like an adult and is back in charge. It took just a few minutes for Sophie to shape up and be on her best behaviour. 

They've been on pasture about a week now, but Bridget is ballooning so I'll likely give them a weekend off it and put them back out on Monday. Other than that, though, I'm loving it! Apparently all I wanted all this time was a water tap, a flat spot to ride, and a tree to tie to. It's also really nice being so far removed from the rest of the farm right now. Under normal circumstances, I barely see anyone as it is, but now I feel even more quarantine safe.

I've ridden Bridget a couple of times so far in the field adjacent to the one they live in. We don't have a huge area to work with and we're both out of shape, so I've been doing a lot of shapes and schooling in walk, really focusing on being precise in my riding and expectations. Sharp transitions and keeping her straight and between the aids are always something to play with when you've got a backwards thinking wiggleworm. Walk pirouettes, shoulder and haunches in on circles and figure eights being good tests of whether shes staying with me (and I am riding correctly!). Good practice for riding Sophie, too! I hope to avoid some of the struggles I had with Bridget and at least find new and interesting ways to mess it up. I do think Sophie is a lot more forward naturally, but the super bendy wiggle thing is alive and well in her too - let's hope I now have the tools to use that for good and the struggle will be a bit shorter :)

Sophie continues to entertain me. I show up with a halter and she's following me around trying to stick her nose in it while Bridget passive aggressively pretends to not see me. I humored Sophie the other day and gave her a good grooming first before I caught Bridget, but she still has to be very involved and "help" with grooming and tacking Bridget up.

Tied her to this tree this one time to groom her, now she wanders over and parks herself there in hopes of being fussed over.

 I thought once I started longeing and long lining Sophie again she'd be a little more reserved since I might put her to work too, but no, she's just loving the attention and actually seems to prefer hanging out with me than boring old Bridget if we're the only two options she's got, lol. I'm a little sad riding is off the table right now, to be honest, because I think mentally she's really ready to be challenged a bit and put in a bit more of a proper working routine.

Ah well. 

I continue to be amused by how very different they are. They have the same diet, same owner, same paddock, got them at the same age and they're way more different than they are alike. Bridget is Eeyore in Welsh Cob form. (Which is great, because he was always my favorite :) She's very sweet, but all doom and gloom and martyred sighing. She comes out of her shell and enjoys herself every once in a while, but she's definitely a pony you need to know really well before you start to really see her sense of humor and kind heart.

Busy socializing with the tree

Been a while since we had a pic of Bridget doing her yoga

Sophie, on the other hand, is all about needing your approval, needing attention, wanting to be busy, and basically she has zero filters and is a totally open book. What you see is what you get. It might change every few seconds, but there it is! She's also, without a doubt, one of the smartest horses I've ever met. Pretty much everything is fun or could potentially be a game and turned to her benefit. It's honestly a little exhausting some days :)

I probably have more pictures of Sophie in motion than anything. Sassy expressions in most, too. Standing still and relaxing isn't really something that comes naturally to her.


Monday 13 April 2020

I Can Make This Work

Given all the uncertainty in life right now, the small wins really feel great!

Happy ponies.
This past weekend, I moved Sophie and Bridget down to their summer field. The weather has been absolutely perfect, and the grass is already looking pretty lush. It gives me peace of mind knowing that they don't need feeding while they're down there and that we're that much further separated from the other boarder and the owner's spaces. Although I'm certain feeding my horses and picking paddocks counts as an essential trip, should things change or if there were any confusion, in a worst case they'd be just fine missing a few meals and with the property owner keeping an eye on them and filling waters.

This about sums up day one - Bridget: "Nom nom nom nom"  Sophie: "Ahhh there is a stick on my head! Look at me!"

Currently, my only outing is to the barn once a day at dinner. My tack and hay lives separately from the other boarder and I have my own tools, my own buckets, my "own" water tap and hose at my paddock.. The only shared place the three of us use is the main gate at the entrance, and we've been leaving that open in the day to minimize risk. I think we've got a good system.

I tried keeping the horses exercised using the trails near the barn, but they're VERY busy right now and I'm uncomfortable with that, so I'm ruling out trail riding (or walking) there for now. As far as I know, the equestrian club grounds I normally use are closed. I've been hacking Bridget around the neighbourhood, which works ok but Sophie gets left at home as it's not overly safe to pony a second horse on that route.

Utilizing the round pen near the barn pre ride. Sadly there's no ring on site.

I was chatting (at a distance!) with the farm owner yesterday, and she said she's not going to use any of the bottom fields this year, so I'm free to rotate mine through them. That's such good news! If we have good weather, I can make those fields last until fall if I'm smart about it. Last year I was a bit too busy with work, so I ended up erring on the side of caution and keeping the grass to a small amount and supplementing with hay (because ponies!) This year, I've got time to properly manage the fields and pony grass intake,  so that's a win.

My current grooming and tacking up area is this tree :)


To help with the exercise issue, the fields are all fenced into approximately riding ring sized or bigger squares, and as long as the ground holds up, I've got permission to use them as such. There are 4 total so I'm hoping I can rotate 1 to work in, 1 for the ponies to be in, and 2 in various stages of regrowth. I'm not going to ride Sophie, but I think longeing and long lining are low risk activities. To keep it interesting, the ground is of course not perfectly level and there are ditches and trees here and there, but I'm pretty sure we'll be able to make it work - I'm not ruling out eventing with her, after all.

Sophie showing us there are ditches to jump

But it's usable, I think
Sophie: "Are you sure?"

I know I'm very lucky. I know a lot of you aren't able to be at the barn right now, and that could very well happen here eventually too. For now, I will continue to make the best of things, try to keep the ponies (safely) exercised, and enjoy every small win.

So far, so good!


Friday 10 April 2020

Where DOES the time go? One year of outtakes

I got a entry level "proper" camera about a year ago and while I might not ever have an eye for it (or the technical know how) I absolutely LOVE it. Thank you so much again to everyone who offered encouragement and suggestions when I was pondering a camera for myself - it's definitely a new hobby that's here to stay.

I like this one, mostly because it was a fun evening

The only "downside" to my enthusiasm plus lack of skill is all the photos I have. (Because why take one great picture when you could cross your fingers, hold that camera button down, and hope one of many turns out. I tend to get 10 average ones and lack the willpower to ruthlessly exclude (because pony pictures!) so on my computer and in thumb drives they sit  ;)

Love the snow, but her blanket is nasty and her foot is missing :)

In my efforts to remedy my virtual hoarding, I'm sharing the ones I had in a 'For Blog' folder and for whatever reason never ended up using. Get ready, there is a bit of random media overload coming up next:

There is a pair of fairly friendly ravens that live in a tree near my horses. Plus side: they're funny and friends with Bridget. Sophie chases them, so they've made that a game that seems to entertain both sides. Downside: they bathe in my water buckets, and bring Bridget 'presents' that include everything from apples to shiny things to old baked goods I think they're getting from someone's compost. In short, they're messy!

Could have been cool, but it's out of focus and her mane is braided.
I notice I take lots of pictures of the scenery on my rides, but they seem out of context here without the horses in them or me riding:

There's a horse friendly trail along the edge of this little arm of a big lake
This is what a typical trail looks like here
The old road to find this view is super steep, Bridget needs to be in better shape before we venture back up.
I seriously need to invest in clippers next fall:

I can't not see the bad beard cut. Sorry, B
Luxuriously thick coats for everyone this winter
Even our cat. So soft, so unfair that he hates being petted. Best to just clip it off (just kidding!!)
Just a round pony out getting some exercise.
And some more
Even more
Sophie enjoying dinner:

Sunset dinner

More random sights from the trails:

Our house is down there behind the lake
Too mucky to swim with horses here, but the picture turned out kind of relaxing looking :)
Truly random:
Wants to be spokescat for those tasty, tasty almonds?
Enjoy your weekend everyone! Hope you're all keeping safe and healthy <3