Sunday 30 August 2020

She’s Special

 Life with Sophie pony...

I had a great ride Saturday, the kind where you dismount already looking forward to the next. Sophie was getting the idea of carrying herself in trot, and we had a walk to trot transition I’d be proud of on any horse, let alone a baby. I feel like she could be pretty special some day.

She then had an appointment with the farrier, and just couldn’t horse any longer. Oh well, can’t be perfect all the time, right? 

The farrier found some small holes of yuck on both Bridget’s left front and left hind toes. We’ve had some funky weather and so it’s nothing to worry too much about, but I definitely wanted to soak them and eliminate any chance of bacteria living in there. I had some dettol on hand, so made up a bucket and soaked B’s feet before packing them with some stuff the farrier left. As I diligently worked at that, I heard a noise behind me. I turned just in time to see Sophie drinking the nasty used contents of Bridget’s hoof soak.


I think she spat all of it out, but what on earth? She’s the fussiest eater I’ve ever owned, she won’t even eat apples or carrots. She’s super picky about her water bucket and won’t drink if it’s not cleaned daily. 

That bucket smelled NASTY, why she’d try to drink it is beyond me. 

Pony is special, all right.


Thursday 27 August 2020

Meeting in The Middle (The Happy Post)

My drafts folder has a happy positive post, and a sad complain-y one. Today you get the happy post. I think the ‘negative’ one has some valid discussion points and I’ll share it, but I’m going to take a harder look at it with the attitude of holding myself accountable for choosing how I respond to situations. Honestly, despite all the great things happening, and having a nice baby pony to bring along,  I’ve been really struggling with the harder parts of horse ownership and with living here and have been finding it difficult to blog. We all know ignoring the struggle doesn’t make it go away, but I really believe I can make it easier by being conscious of keeping a flexible and open outlook.

Cute ponies make everything better tho

Anyway, here’s a couple of happy things for today:

 I just looked and it was only mid June where I was having a panic attack that Sophie would forever be too tiny for round little me.

Fast forward to yesterday, where I finally listened to everyone saying Sophie looked suddenly bigger and got the stick out, walked up to the road, and measured my now 14.3 and three quarters high pony(horse!?)

I mean, she looks taller than Bridget, but Bridget’s not exactly big at 14hh

I triple checked...and checked again today. It’s true, guys, even allowing a bit for her feet being nearly due for a trim, somehow my pony grew 2 inches in 2.5 months. How? It’s crazy, I kept thinking Bridget looked smaller, and everyone around me has been saying Sophie looks bigger all the sudden. Unreal...she grew about 3 inches from ages 2-4, then suddenly another 2 plus inches after her fourth birthday!

Definitely still a pony at heart, though, happily foraging for shrubberies with her bestie.

She’s filled out more noticeably too. All that pasture must be doing her good because her saddle was starting to get a bit narrow. (The day has come where the one I’m using is borderline OK and she really will need a new saddle if this trend continues...wish me luck!) I’ll have to get the weight tape out and see what it says.

As for myself, I’ve lost 20 pounds. I wish I could say it’s due to focus and hard work, but really I’ve just been super active this summer, only moderately watching calories, and pretty much never checking the scale. I’m back at the place my body really likes to be, which in one way is nice because I know I won’t gain those pounds back without being very, very mean to myself. On the other hand if I want to lose 20 more and be a Lean Mean T I know the next few pounds are going to require real dedication and a lot of long term lifestyle changes. Decision making time, I guess! No matter what, heading towards winter I will have to be mindful of trying to keep myself in a positive headspace...If I let the winter blues hit, or get too focused on my weight/appearance historically all bets are off as far as enjoying exercise and treating myself well :(

Bridget and I are soulmates, I think - at least when it comes to feelings about food and exercise, lol

Anyway, long story short, I’m a little smaller, Sophie’s a little bigger and I’m no longer feeling super worried about being ponycrusher dot com.  I’m feeling a lot more positive Sophie’s going to stay here a long while yet (which is good because I kind of love her).


Sunday 16 August 2020

Slowing It Down

 I know, I know...I’m already the most boring blogger out there. How can things possibly move even slower? :)

Since my last post, Sophie’s had a few rides, I’ve had a week’s vacation and Bridget’s continued to live her best life.

Very efficient lawn mowing

When we left off, things were going swimmingly with Sophie, but then we hit a bit of a roadblock with canter. She has been bucking a bit and kicking at the leg and of course finds the whole cantering on a lead and not just swapping around as she feels like it a bit difficult. I know the bucking is fairly normal while they figure out balance and where their feet are, and I sort of had a few suspicions that she might take offence to my leg touching her at certain times in her heat cycle (poor thing is pretty darn mare-ish) So, all in all, not a big deal, but I started to notice she was getting tense and anxious about it so figured slowing it down and taking a step back might be appropriate. 

Gorgeous vacation camp site

The past week, someone set up a trail course in the main arena, so we rode through that and practiced bending and moving her body in walk in an effort to mix it up a bit and take the canter stress away. She’s hilarious in that the trail course itself, including bridge, was fine, but those same objects stacked outside the area are pony eating monsters. I then went off camping for three days and just left her out in the field to chill. This weekend I revisited longeing and felt like I was quite successful in reestablishing a nice relaxed neck and back. She’s also started stepping nicely into canter again and holding a nice relaxed rhythm there, often even on the correct lead, lol. (for the record, I’m not at all worried about leads right now, I just want forward and for her to focus on that. Consistent relaxed forward will solve most of the bouncing around and random leg flinging and lead changes)

I think I’m ready to pop back on and try a bit of canter from the saddle again. Wish me luck sticking in there, lol.

In other news, we’ve got not just one, but THREE lessons scheduled for September. My coach EC is coming for a visit and is going to give me a lesson too, which is wonderful, and then the lovely lady who travelled here in a July is coming back to give us two lessons later in the month.

We’ve been having a heat wave, so the ponies are back in their forest paddock. 

I’m really excited (and nervous) for EC to see Sophie. The last time she saw her in person was the day we picked her up from the states and Sophie was still a baby then! I know she’ll give me tons of valuable feedback and homework. One of the good/bad things about having a history with her is that I know she’s going to be completely honest and hold me accountable for myself and my goals. I’ll probably hear some things that will no doubt be accurate and necessary, but that I won’t like hearing. Pony is perfect, of course, and still an upper level dressage prospect, and months of being left to my own devices hasn’t messed anything up, right? 😁 Still, it’s exciting, because I trust her opinion and ability to give us reasonable homework to reach our goals. A little scary too because it  means this is really happening now!


Wednesday 5 August 2020

Semi Retirement

Thanks for the nice comments re: my little mishap with the healing balms that burn instead. Lesson learned, I'll do tiny test spots next time before I start spreading it all over the place!

Sophie's mostly all healed with just a few small bald spots and some flaky skin left, so I think we're good to get back at it and I have a ride scheduled for tonight. Yay!

However, I'm not sure if I ever updated anything on the Bridget front. TLDR: over the past year or so, we had some mystery lameness, followed by a bout of heaves. Vet came, we got the heaves sorted, I was super excited and happy. Then, after a few light rides, pony was back to being off behind again. Shockingly, the antihistamines didn't stop the huffing and puffing of an out of shape pony, either ;)

I've now had time to wrap my head around things and make a plan of action. I've waffled all over the place on this blog over what to do with Ms Bridget and how she fits into my available time and riding goals (or not) and I think I'm finally at peace with a decision.

Don't beat me up too much over this, please, because my plan of action doesn't contain much action and is essentially just a continuation of what I've been doing for a year now :) 

Basically, she's just going to be retired from anything demanding. She's only 12, I know. I know there are injections and lotions and potions and vet procedures and I myself could be putting more strength and fitness building miles on her. I know this could be viewed as giving up without really trying, but I think any of you that have been here for a while know how much work and effort has gone into making my non-sporty pony somewhat athletic and using her body better. Long time readers might remember my virtual ride where I tracked miles all the way to Mexico, all in the name of having a pony fit enough to starter level..where she still needed a trot break at the last water and had so much time, lol.

Accurate depiction of Bridget's level of interest in horse shows

You might even remember all the times I came here to say "I give up, I just can't with this pony." Or the million different ways she drove me nuts by offering up absolutely nothing for free. In short, she's not missing having a job, and I'm probably crazy to be missing those rides, lol.

The vet has looked, is not super concerned given her current lifestyle, but was in agreement further diagnostics and a plan would likely be needed should I want to do more. But, you know what, it's past time to put it our there that I don't think I do. I think she's happy and sound hanging out in the field and going for the odd hack around the neighbourhood. I think it's reasonable she stays in light work to keep her moving and moderately fit, but if she's showing signs of wear and tear now, I feel like the right thing to do is to not add too many more hard or unnecessary miles.

I hesitate to describe how I've been feeling about things and haven't blogged too much about it, because I realize I'm very lucky to have a happy, somewhat sound Bridget that I can afford to keep as a second semi retired horse. But I do really, really miss her, if that makes sense. Even though she drove me crazy with her lack of work ethic and I get to see her happy and thriving in the field every day,  it still feels like I've lost something. Something really big, to be honest. I'm sure some of you will know what I'm talking about when I say when I hop on her it's 'home' and as such I had hoped we'd have a lot more competitions and adventures ahead of us.

Looking so good right now if I do say so myself

 At the risk of sounding REALLY spoiled, I should out myself and admit that as much as I absolutely love Sophie, I miss my chunky cob pony and so my motivation with Sophie hasn't quite been what it should be. My increased habit of trawling through the internet looking for chunky sporty ponies for sale should also be something I admit to.

So, I think it's well past time I take a deep breath, appreciate what I have, and move on to embrace the opportunities I am given moving forward. So let's start here, by posting this blog entry.

(And heading out to my lesson tonight on Sophie :)

She'd very much like to be a bigger part of my riding adventures.


Monday 3 August 2020

Failing, and Planning Ahead

Shortly after my last update, we had a bit of a heatwave. “Yay! Summer is finally here!”, I was saying, annoying pretty much every non heat loving person out there (and Bridget)

Well, I’m back to say summer is stupid. I put some healing balm stuff on a few scrapes and scratches on Sophie one night. Feeling like an extra good owner, I added some SWAT a bit later, since the mosquitos and flies are exceptionally bad this year.

And...whatever concoction I created ended up making Sophie’s hair fall out and the skin underneath almost look a little burned :( I suspect it was more a result of using oily based products and light coloured pony being in the sun vs an actual issue with either product, but still...yuck. I feel terrible.

It’s been about a week now and it’s all healing just fine, but I haven’t been riding since a couple of the patches were under where my saddle would sit. 

On the plus side, she has (had?) a couple of old scars from a pasture ‘accident’ (overly aggressive pasture mate beat her up, says me) from that winter I boarded her,  and whatever happened irritated those enough that there’s now pink healthy skin there, so maybe I can hope they’ll heal a little better this time. 

No pictures because I’d like to forget it ever happened, but I’ll tell the story because I’d feel bad if it happened to one of you.

Anyway, I messed that up.

 I did attempt to use the down time productively.

I’ve made up my winter feeding plan (surprisingly complicated given our location and hay availability and delivery options) and managed to fill our truck with bags of hay cubes on a recent trip across the water. Hay is classified as a dangerous good on the ferry, and the worker was sceptical but agreed bags of cubes are unlikely to spontaneously combust and let us on. Hay that’s not hay for the win, and hopefully by subbing in the cubes for some of their forage I can be a bit more flexible with my “real” hay supply deliveries.

Equine Super Diet is my new favourite thing, and I picked up a giant bucket of that on sale too and probably have about a years supply now. No more big bags of grain or ration balancers...a tiny cup of this stuff has all the vitamins my two need and they’re thriving. So much more cost effective and no worries about grain deliveries and orders now.

Shiny, happy

I got Lake Bridget out a few times and “training” is progressing well.

Loads reliably

Ties, good with water

I also got a good start on my bedroom turned home office space, finishing all the painting and getting the desk built. So much more to do, but I put in a lot of hours this weekend and progress is being made. Very horse relevant because the ability to work well from home means I have so much more time for riding!

Was a closet, is now an alcove for a desk. I was going to put in shelves above but the closet and the walls themselves are not remotely built square and I’m done with that. Just a PSA if you see a cute closet remodel...given all the fiddly time spent on this, a nice stand-alone desk would have been well worth the expense. The only reason I persisted is that the closet doors needed replacing as did the falling down why not do something different and keep more of the room open for yoga space.  Also, please ignore the mess, and my short person problem of having a chair dedicated to being a step stool :D

Finally, I bought my husband his very own manure fork, thereby doubling paddock picking productivity! (Joking, I DID buy him a nice manure fork to use when he wants to instead of his current wobbly duct taped one no one else wanted, but his days are his own. He’s the best and super supportive of my crazy horse obsession but horses aren’t his thing and I’m good with that!)

Fingers crossed, I’ll be back in the saddle this week, then next week is part two of my Staycation 2020 which I’m hoping will feature a lot of barn time!