Monday, 13 September 2021

Kind of A Clinic

 On the downside, my much anticipated trip was a no go this weekend, so no new saddle fitting or EC lessons for me. I'm going to try to set up lessons in a couple of weeks when my work schedule relaxes, and it sounds like the saddle fitter has a wide area she travels to so one of the upcoming visits to areas around me will likely work. All is not lost!


Sometimes we ride on the ferry, sometimes it is broken and then it's a chain reaction of side effects in our isolated town.  

On the plus side, there was a clinic at home, and while I was too late (and thrifty, after buying a trailer and planning for a new saddle the horse budget is tight) to sign up, I did go audit and volunteer to take photos. So that was fun. 

Sophie's boyfriend looking pretty cute

The really good decision I'm glad I made, though, was to load up Sophie with friend S's horses and have her hang out all of Sunday. I treated it as a practice show/clinic outing for her.

The clinican is a regular and he's great - you all probably know by now that I can get a little weird about riding in front of new people, particularly shows or clinics, but zero anxiety about it in this situation. He's kind of one of the gang at this point and the clinic is pretty relaxed, so it was fine for me to bring Sophie along and ride on the periphery (provided I gave the paying folks space and priority :)

<I'd insert Sophie pictures here, but did I take any of my own horses this weekend? no, of course not >

And, she was absolutely fine - a little aware of all the horses, people, and vehicles coming and going, but honestly the arena itself was pretty tame considering what it can be like when a few people are riding with less organization ;) She's still a bit looky about horses cantering towards her, or hearing them coming where she can't see them, but it's pretty easy to refocus her. I don't think she'd be happy in a crowded warmup yet, but we're light years from where we started and every horse was cause for distraction. She was very quick to settle and let the anxiety go, and I had zero moments of concern about there being any pony antics beyond my capabilities.


A previous barn friend she was happy to see again.

She was great in her stall, but she'd kind of had enough by the end of the day and was getting excessively dramatic and flirty with her neighbours. I moved her a couple of stalls away from everyone and there were feelings expressed for a while, but nothing too terrible.

All in all, a couple of very long horsey days. I managed to get some nice photos of everyone, plus I got to cheer on everyone's successes, learn a little for myself,  and give Sophie a bit of education too. So productive!





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Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Some Things We've Seen Lately

 We're super spoiled here for trail riding - at the place I was boarding there was a nice lake about a 30 minute hack away, and tons of nice forested trails.


A typical scene

Moving where I have, I'm in a more residential area. When I had the horses at home years ago, I usually had to spend a bit of time on paved roads and sidewalks to get to the better riding. But, across the street at S's, she's built a lovely network of trails that directly access unlimited amounts of crown land. We could literally ride for weeks and never touch pavement.

I've been doing the odd neighborhood loop anyway, and it's somewhat amusing - Sophie happily walked everywhere through the forested part, through ditches, over bridges...but a fire hydrant and a storm drain almost had her pooping herself :) Civilization isn't something my two have seen a lot of, apparently. Bridget being Bridget, she's fine with everything, but the noise of the city bus driving past us had her looking twice.

Mostly, though, we've been hitting the new to us trails and enjoying some new scenery.

Look closely and you'll see some friends we took for a walk last night. They went ahead for a while, then hid in the bushes and let us pass, then popped out to follow us for a while longer. Bridget and her chestnut eared friend think they're big dogs and barely pay attention to them.


Friend S enjoying a spectacular view across to Vancouver Island.

600 privately owned waterfront acres that we have permission to ride on and rarely see anyone - just us and the wildlife. Just a little spoiled.

I'm terrible for not taking trail riding photos, which is a shame because our surroundings are stunning. Perhaps the different sights and new areas to explore will change that? I'll try!

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Monday, 6 September 2021

All The Things

 What just happened?! I’ve gone from spending most of my riding time solo, to having some kind of social riding adventure organized nearly every day this week. Which, actually, is all sorts of fantastic and motivating.


One downside to riding with friends is we have so much to chat about we don’t get finished riding til dark

S and I have been good friends since we were kids, so this move to her place has been easy. I feel right at home and the transition for everyone has been seamless. In fact, it’s been so much fun we’re just going to make it a semi permanent arrangement and I’m going to stay indefinitely. My own place is right across the street and I still plan to move them there, but there’s plenty of work left to be done before it’s ready (if you hadn’t already guessed from the lack of barn progress updates this past month!) 


The girls might be happier here, there is a lot more grazing space

Bridget of course settled in as expected: located source of hay, had a nap, made friends with the over the fence neighbours later on her own time. Sophie of course doesn’t work like that at all at is sporting some interesting bite marks on her face, likely a result of bringing too much enthusiasm to the table. She’s not figured out keeping it low drama and having a respectful personal space bubble might earn her more friends, despite Bridget telling her quite clearly to behave herself. I have no idea why Bridget ever decided to take responsibility for raising Sophie right, but I 100% support her efforts :)


Cute temporary accommodations.

B has been out for a couple of nice trail rides this past week, and she was so HAPPY to get out there. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut of same old, same old, and forget how much horses like to see some different trail adventures and buddies now and then. So, that’s been wonderful - few things are better in this world than a nice trail ride on an enthusiastic Bridget pony, and we’re very spoiled for trail options right now. 



Sophie’s been surprisingly good too. Friend S has a ginormous trailer, so we’ve just been popping Sophie in hers and tagging along with them to the arena. Shockingly, she’s had zero drama surrounding that - not at all worried about the other horses, the different trailer, leaving Bridget at home, riding in a group. I’ve been able to hop on and have productive rides and she’s pretty much got right to work with minimal opinions. Who is this pony? 


Just chilling at the exhibition grounds and minding her own business.

In Sophie training updates, I’m still over here just trying to build strength and topline. She’s beautifully consistent in walk now - I have tons of adjustability and can pick up or give the reins without it affecting tempo or turning her into a giraffe. Trot is really solid again too, it’s mostly just the transitions where she loses balance a little and things can get funky. Still, it’s improving all the time. Today’s exercise was 15m to 20m and back spirals and she had some lovely moments when I got smart enough to use the leg yields to help set up the up and down transitions. You’ll still find me limiting most rides to less than 30 minutes - once I feel her starting to tire I give her a break, then go a little more so it’s me making the decision that we’re done, not her.


It’s been such a hot summer, everything bloomed and went to seed early. We’ve had cooler days lately which is a relief, riding and barn chores are much more bearable!

Mostly I’m just grateful the wild child of last winter seems to be on a long term hiatus - having a pony who shows up ready to work makes everything so much simpler and more fun. 

Bonus gratitude for changes resulting from last week’s sketchy situation resulting in nothing but better things for myself and my ponies...how lucky is that! 







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Monday, 30 August 2021

Silver Linings

 Well, that week didn't go to plan...

A person directly involved in where I board went on a trip, got quite sick with Covid, then opted to travel all the way home three or four days later while obviously still sick. We got warning (second hand) a few hours before they got home. So, as you might guess, my faith in them doing the right thing and quarantining, letting people know their status, and taking precautions on site wasn't strong but I didn't want to overreact. 

However, my suspicions re: them not staying out of the barn and away from other people were confirmed immediately, so we've moved the horses out (hopefully temporarily) rather than stressing about a situation beyond our control. G's mom is in the hospital and we just can't mess around with this and not take it seriously. 

(Boarding is super fun, am I right?)

My place at home is still nowhere near ready, but I have a friend right across the street from my barn-to-be who was willing to take us in short term. I owe her a ton of gratitude for finding space for us on super short notice.

So, some of my ride plans will be put on hold as the horses are in a different area without such easy access to the usual local events and amenities. 

Silver linings, you ask? The ponies and I get an upgrade - her place is beautiful and we're getting spoiled there. Plus, she's been a great friend since we were kids, so it's just nice to have more of a reason to see each other.  Also, I have added impetus to get working on my barn again. Finally, lots of  'new' area trails to explore and a built in buddy to get out there with. 

So, an unexpected plot twist, but I think we're going to have fun for the next couple of weeks!




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Monday, 23 August 2021

Slo-Coast Weekend Update

 After the go-go-go of last weekend and returning to work after a week off, this past weekend really needed to be a laid back one.

There are tons of upcoming clinic opportunities and events on the schedule, plus I need to arrange for EC to come here for a clinic (or me to travel there overnight) but I've currently got commitment issues and haven't organized or signed up for anything - I just want to slow the F down for a bit and keep a fairly open schedule.


Attempted glamour shots on Saturday, failed for the most part. She doesn't stand still long enough to stay in frame AND keep her ears up.

Sophie went trail riding and had a session on the longe last week, plus I rode at the arena on Saturday. Not quite the full fitness schedule I'm supposed to be keeping - especially when you consider my 'ride' was more Sophie serving as a mobile couch for socializing. Still, I think given her stress levels last weekend, I think there is value for both of us in revisiting the concept of things not being a big deal and some outings just being a chance to relax and have fun with friends.

Bridget's been out for a trail ride, but mostly the two ponies have just been enjoying extra field time. We've had basically no rain all summer, so the fields aren't doing great...in a way that's great for ponies, but it does mean I'll need to pull them off soon and wait for rain so the grass can recover - normally they can be out there until November-ish, so it's a bit sad this is the last week or two of the grass holding up now.


Bridget: "Nom nom nom" The most wonderful time of the year for her

I got more hay in the barn this weekend as well. The plan was to get enough to tide me over until we move the ponies 'home' this fall, but probably we shouldn't talk about the lack of progress there...I may be staying where I am longer than I think! There is just not enough time in the day to get it all done, and I've got a few projects pending I just haven't found time for yet. With the hot, dry weather affecting things we've also got to wait to run machinery there due to fire hazard, but I'm worried our fall rains will come all at once and turn things into a mud pit we also can't run machines in! Honestly, I haven't sorted a schedule beyond verbally discussing plans with the equipment operator for some point in the future and ordering the wood post and beam for the barn addition. Go me! ;)

Eating last years hay for dinner, because she likes it better than the $$$$ new stuff?





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Thursday, 19 August 2021

Pony Camp Part2

 By Sunday, the sleep deprivation was really starting to hit, along with some anxiety. I was returning to work the following day after a week off I really couldn't afford to take from a workload perspective, so I knew it was going to be tough.

So, despite the majority of my friends firmly encouraging me to tack up Sophie for a final lesson, I opted to do what felt right and brought in the reserve team - Ms Bridget. Life is too short, my ride time was later in the day and I really just wanted to have fun on the final day of my vacation rather than sit and worry over things out of my control.



 This might not put me in the best light, but I planned the weekend around having a vacation with horses included, rather than 'A Training Opportunity'. My lessons with EC work for me as far as being serious about this riding thing and I am quite happy with her methods, so in my mind this past weekend was more about just getting out there and having fun with friends - no pressure, no serious goals or expectations.

I'm entirely pleased that Sophie came along for the outing, travelled well, settled in reasonably well, and for the most part coped with a new and very busy environment. I took her on a trail ride, I had a lesson, I think she learned a lot, and the end result was a positive for her. So I was quite happy to leave it there - my hope was to simulate what she'd experience travelling to a show, but in a lower pressure situation for myself where it didn't matter how things went. Goal achieved.

Anyway, I know I don't need to defend my decisions here. It's all about enjoying the horses, celebrating the positives, and not taking it too seriously. I don't have the head space right now to tackle anything else.

Best pony

So, I had a super fun ride on Bridget. She was also feeling very spicy, but with B that just manifests itself in forward and some little dolphin bucks in canter. I basically told the clinician I just was there to have fun and she fully supported that plan after my ride the previous day :) She set up a very challenging pattern and gradually increased the difficulty. I really enjoyed it as it had all the components of a dressage test, but was more like a horsemanship pattern - lots of transitions coming up very quickly, and some poles, lateral work, and spirals thrown in for good measure.

I was losing B's left shoulder a little in the smaller canter circles and shoulder in, but nothing major, it's a fitness thing for sure. I am seriously impressed with how much she retains given I don't school anything regularly or make any concentrated effort to really keep her fit. Plus my fitness is really lacking - I wasn't stiff or sore, but I definitely was overheating with the hot weather and my cardio was suffering.  On the plus side, B was totally fine with the heat, and was again moving confidently throughout, which gives our working theory that firmer, more supportive footing is more to her liking some credence. Clinician was a huge fan of Bridget and her training, which was nice - B means a lot to me and  a product of my riding and decision making :)

With that, we had a nice pub lunch and another float in the river and then it was time to pack up and head home. Pony Camp 2021 was over far too quickly, but there's good news - we all had so much fun we're already planning for two 2022 camps. I'll arrange for pictures of us next time too :)





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Tuesday, 17 August 2021

Pony Camp Part1

 Wow...that was a jam packed weekend. Guess who took photos of all the rest of the crew but didn't arrange for any of myself? That would be me! I'm so sorry, blog land!


A couple of google images of the area to give you the idea. They have more farmland and a way bigger equestrian community there than we do. Our mountains seem to start right at the ocean.


We went over to the Comox Valley for a weekend of camping and riding lessons and ended up with a crew of about 15 people and 17 horses there.  Pretty amazing turn out for our small little community of riders. We'd originally planned something a little further from home, but given the wildfire conditions in the rest of the province sticking close to home seemed a better choice. Besides, the Island is lovely, I always forget how nice more of a staycation can be!

My two travelled over like stars. It was pretty hot out but luckily we ended up on the upper deck of the ferry with a nice breeze flowing through for the horses. I was extra pleased with my two as we were parked behind a trailer with what the ferry workers assumed were more horses but were actually pigs. I noticed some of the adjacent horses weren't pleased with 90 minutes parked next to those smells and noises!


I started out so well, taking a picture of us getting on the ferry like a proper tourist 😁

I was extra grateful for my two when we dropped them off at the farm - they settled in to a shared paddock with zero drama and good thing, because G and I were late for an unrelated appointment up Island and needed to basically drop them and go, leaving them to their own devices for a couple of hours. Not ideal, but with all the other horsey ladies around I knew they'd be well looked after if needed.

Actual photo of the trails at the end of the road near the farm. They were all lovely like this, and included mounting blocks and trail maps at every intersection. I needed more time to explore!

Between the travel, the appointments, a quick hike in the forest, and a pub trip, Friday pretty much disappeared in a blur. We finished out back at the farm with an informative talk from a human/equine chiropractor. A lot of what he had to say and the exercises he demonstrated tied in nicely with my goals of improving Sophie's topline, so I'm interested in learning more.

Saturday morning came early....too early. Guess what getting back late and setting up your tent in the dark in the only free spot you see gets you? An unintended neighbour - the chicken coop, including multiple roosters, lol. Tricky little things were deadly silent in the dark, then rock concert decibels at the first hint of daylight.

I lazed about in a sleep deprived haze most of the morning watching lessons, took the ponies for a trail ride, then it was time to tack up Sophie for a lesson. Who...was absolutely wild. Uh oh. And it was HOT out so the poor thing was drenched in sweat just from stressing. I think I took for granted how good she was on our last road trip/lesson weekend, plus how good she's been this summer. I didn't think I needed to do a lot with her, and that's my mistake. Poor pony was absolutely overwhelmed with the atmosphere and was completely tuned out and a sweaty mess as soon as I pulled her out of her paddock.

OK, I know I said I didn't get any photos, but I did manage to snap this one of Sophie

I longed her, attempting to keep a quiet walk/trot with lots of direction changes and transitions to get her mind back for a good 30 minutes, but then it was time for my lesson far too soon. There was no freakin' way I was getting on the dragon. To give the clinician her due, she took one look and was like "go longe her, please don't get on, we'll just do ground work today if we have to. No big deal". Sophie, when stressed, goes into an interesting panic mode where there's a bit of 'fight' mode activated. It's really not pleasant, but also I know it's not 'her', if you know what I mean. So...there may have been an incident where she tripped on a cone while I was longeing because she was too busy gawking around, then got angry and tried to destroy said cone for getting in her way. Lovely, Sophie, lovely, way to scare the children. You really can't have any sort of pride when young horses are involved.

I did eventually end up getting on, but we just walked serpentines, poles, and figure eights, with lots of halt/walk transitions, because the urge to bolt and spook was VERY strong. She's not the type where you can burn off energy, she just gets more ramped up the faster you let her move, so a lesson in being patient and focused in the walk and finding some calm in the routine of the pattern was absolutely perfect for her on the day.


Walk felt similar to this at times. More leaping, less 4 beat. Tail/ears also representative of the weekend.

You might think I'd be incredibly disappointed with that, but I'm not. I didn't prepare her well by just assuming she'd be fine out there, plus she was legit overwhelmed and there's really nothing I could have done in the moment but take a big step back, support her and be proud of how hard she tried. She was shaking at times, poor thing, and when I got off post lesson she reverted back to fire breathing dragon. I'll take from that that I'm doing SOMETHING right and she's getting a good bit of confidence from her rider these days.

Also, winning for me. You're all aware I'm not the bravest of riders so to get on the keg of dynamite horse and trust that she was going to trust me enough to try out there was a big thing. Also, the instructor didn't give me a ton of feedback beyond assigning us exercises so I'm going to take that to mean I was doing an adequate job of managing my own mental demons and staying calm and confident in the moment.

Instructor lesson feedback: "Really good job on getting it done and giving the baby horse a good experience"

Actual river tubing area, again though, not my photo ;)

After that, a few drinks and a river floating expedition were in order. We were luckily just a five minute or so drive from a nice river - much needed given the crazy heatwave we were having, and I really needed a time out.

Then, SURPRISE! It was my birthday, which I thought was top secret, but the ladies surprised me with a cake and a mini party when we got back. So sweet of them. I was way too tired to party all night though, so off to bed (with earplugs ready this time!)







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Thursday, 12 August 2021

Long Weekends Part 2

 I’m so grateful to Previous Me for scheduling so much vacation time this summer. I’ve been off work again this week, enjoying the sunshine and plenty of pony time - definitely living the good life! . 

Sophie’s been hitting the trails more often than not - it’s just been so easy now that she’s so much more predictable in traffic. It’s also helped that I’m able to just hop on without longeing most days. I’ve got some thoughts brewing about why she’s so much easier these days - it’s definitely a summer vs winter thing, so I’m going to have to brainstorm ideas of how to carry this happy, easier version of S over into winter.

They love their forest paddock.

I’ve checked in with her in the ring as well, but it’s the same old basic things...going forward immediately is sometimes an issue, going forward and not being a llama also something we continue with. The forward thing is on me, when she was hot and bolt-y this past winter I was definitely shutting that down, the llama moments are just strength and balance. Progress is being made, we had a few up and down transitions last night that were lovely and balanced.


Throwback to Winter 2021 Sophie. Was “fun” to ride.

I continue to follow EC’s advice and am focusing on building up her strength and topline with lots of easy walking miles on a light contact too.


B striking a pose

I’ve started reaching out to get Sophie her “grown up” saddle. I’m hoping the County Epiphany model I tried and loved can be fitted to her. Ongoing saddle compromises haven’t been helping either of us out and I’m just feeling done with it. As with all things here, there will be travel involved to get to the fitter so I suspect this will be a longer than average process to coordinate. I joke that once it’s done it means Sophie is staying forever, but it’s kind of true...the saddle costs more than she did, lol.

Speaking of travel...surprise!...we’re off to pony camp for adults this weekend. There’s a group of us heading over to the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island first thing tomorrow morning and we have lots of fun things planned, including daily lessons, of course! I’m taking Bridget and Sophie and planning to camp too, so I’m pretty excited.



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Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Long Weekend

 Last week was absolutely slammed from work/life perspective, so I was looking forward to a long weekend even more than I normally would. I hope to be back to a more relaxed work schedule soon, but that goal post keeps moving back. Maybe by mid fall? On the plus side, I'm banking the extra time worked (and money) for lesson days down at EC's. I will be grateful for this slog when I'm taking the ponies on a ferry cruise mid work week ;)

ANYWAY. I have been riding. I have been doing my homework (somewhat). My truck and trailer hitch were borrowed for the week, so I was trailerless, plus the main arena is super dry and dusty (and busy) so on the days I ride I've been venturing up to the trails in the early morning. I feel like hills done right are going to accomplish similar topline building goals and it's easy enough to do transitions and check in on my riding position out there too. The side effect of consistent trail miles is that my spooky pony is becoming more and more willing to check in and trust my choices in the saddle, plus I'm ever more confident in her ability to think before reacting. 


Yellow trail ears still a bit of a novelty after so many years of fuzzy bay ones.


Last week, but you get the idea.

I did sneak away and spend a few hours at the beach, (and another few at the lake) this weekend.

From a feeding perspective, the ponies have been out grazing for 8-10 hours most days this spring/summer and I've cut their feed right back. Their nighttime hay is pretty poor quality because I was looking through the lens of keeping the weight off.  But, with the lack of rain we've had and the pasture quality degrading, I think I might do well to add some extras back in for S (Bridget, is of course, thriving on it and looking like an ad for a feed company). The trick will be to balance the calories Sophie needs to work with also keeping her energy levels from becoming unmanageable.

Barn updates, you ask? That's what I've been letting slide. I'm a little stressed about it because I really want to move the horses, but much of what's left is dependent on a return of some heavy machinery - everything from the concrete needing a solid base built up first, to the water line, to the ring construction. I know once the machine gets here it will go really fast, so I've been taking a barn reno vacation. I mean, I could dig fence posts in super hard ground, or I could wait for it to rain and get the machine operator to push them in.

Nothing to see here. It's at that state where almost everything is torn apart...but it's only going to be better from here.


I added a tiny xc jump to the back field because I couldn't resist


The blue door found it's new home in the future tack room...ignore the fact nothing else around it is completed ;)

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Monday, 26 July 2021

Homework

 Following on from our little adventure, you may or may not remember EC is a big fan of teaching people how to problem solve, rather than just ride. After every lesson or clinic she assigns homework in the form of exercises to work on and goal posts to look for.

The plan for me is to continue having lessons with her for the foreseeable future. She knows me well, I trust her, and I haven’t found much value in the brief forays I’ve had into clinics and lessons with others closer to home. I’m going to try to get to hers once every 4-6 weeks, or she’ll come to me. Just having that renewed support plan has taken a huge weight off my shoulders that I didn’t know was there. 


Picture has nothing to do with anything, just seemed like I needed one here.

Homework

For me, the big take home is just to trust myself and my experience. I’m more capable than I think. I've gone a step further and have a sports psychologist recommendation to try out. I'm tired of my brain trying to tell me I'll fail and creating all the anxiety around that.

On a physical level, it's been a long while without regular lessons, so remember to check my position every few strides. I unfortunately had a clinician try to change my leg position, and while it’s technically more correct, since I am not built that way it’s created some tightness in my hips and also resulted in my leg being a bit too “on” all the time. So, lots of work to do adjusting that. My new to me saddle is not great for me, either, it wants to put me in a chair seat, so maybe time to look into something semi custom for Sophie and I rather than fighting used saddles that are “good enough” all the time. (I'm not ready to unpack that just yet...;)

For Sophie...she’s still very immature physically for her age. I really need to work on that. Under saddle, that means I have to insist on her using her back properly and build up a stronger topline.


Sophie: "Uh oh, she's got a plan that sounds like work!"

For now, stick to walk and trot, ride 2-3 times a week. Lots of walk on a loose, rounder, contact, swinging through her back. Add hills if I can. Canter just a little so it’s a thing, but leave it alone for now. Her canter is huge, and I risk making it lateral if I try to school too much in the arena because she’s simply not (currently) strong enough to consistently hold herself with a rider from falling out sideways. 


Exhibit A: wandering around, not building any topline or fitness.

And it's not like we don't know how to do it.

In trot, ignore the little ‘speed wobbles’, and just rebalance. Forward, forward, forward :)

*trigger warning if you have strong opinions on longeing, fixed side reins, or vienna reins*

My other suggested homework is to long line or longe a couple of times a week. Loose side reins or vienna  reins, or long line - ideally mix it up so she’s not always using the exact same muscles in the same way or finding ways to lean or resist.  The main idea is she can build more muscle without worrying about balancing a rider too - this will apply really well for canter. While I do think such tools can be used unwisely, in this case I think it's a valid use - pony needs to build up some muscle and use her body properly rather than flinging herself around, and I like the idea of not always adding my weight to the puzzle. I tend to longe her around me as I walk around the arena,  so she gets plenty of straight lines along the rail and there is less worry about the wear and tear of a fixed circle.


Trail riding last night. I made sure to incorporate big hills, because as you can see, I can't be trusted to keep a contact and make her work all the time.

The overall verdict was that she's lovely and I'm totally capable of bringing her along. Stop doubting myself and start putting in the hours consistently. Also, if I make excuses, EC is just going to come visit me and hold me accountable, so resistance is futile  ;)

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Thursday, 22 July 2021

The One Where We Finally Did Something

 I had the most awful ride on Sophie last weekend. The hard part was that she wasn’t doing anything terrible, just your average baby horse testing. But, I could not for the life of me dig deep enough as a rider to get it sorted. I’ve got a lot of unnecessary dialogue floating around in my head these days, and the “you’re not good enough” narrative was winning. I can see that for what it is and it’s really frustrating to let it limit me. When it’s potentially affecting a nice pony, it’s time to call in some extra support crew.

So, we put Sophie on the trailer and went for an overnight visit to EC’s. I was equal parts excited and nervous. I had total faith EC was going to get us back to a good place, but equally taking the baby horse for such an excursion was going to face her with a lot of new challenges. We’ve taken everything so slow and steady to this point I had no real idea how she’d react to me throwing her a little into the deep end.

Step 1: The three hour trip including an hour on the ferry and a half hour waiting in the lineup. I brought Bridget for moral support because she’s so solid about this journey, so the most part, Sophie just ate hay and napped like a sensible pony.

An uneventful journey, whew! When we arrived, they both just wandered into their paddock and kept on eating. Ginger, on the other hand...(super long time readers might remember my Welsh D mare Ginger, who I sold several years ago to a lovely lady at EC’s barn)...Ginger was self appointed greeting committee and NOT pleased at all to see her old pasturemate Bridget, to the point of repeatedly charging and ramming the fence separating them. Sophie was also not welcome, because obviously any friend of Bridget’s is no friend of hers. Poor Sophie! Not a confidence inspiring intro to the barn. 

Our first lesson, from my perspective was equal parts good and awful. Sophie “forgot” everything she ever knew, so even tacking her up and getting on required reminders that the rules are the same everywhere. We then proceeded to spend a long time imitating a llama stuck in a tar pit. Which is fine, because that’s why I was there. What I was beyond pleased with is that EC’s is a very busy lesson barn with so much for Sophie to look at, but she didn’t bother much with any of that - she was really, really solid with all the things you’d normally expect a younger horse to look at or take offence to. Also, high five to me for getting on and getting it done, because I was way more worried about all the things than Sophie ;)



Like one of those puzzles. “Find 10 things this pony would normally spook at“ :)


Spooks all day long at the one mirror at home, yet a wall of them is fine.


EC then hopped on and mostly sorted my issues in about 30 seconds, lol. The really excellent part for me was seeing her ride S, and getting so much feedback about how she’s going, what I’ve done well, and what I really need to improve.

I probably don’t need to delve too deep into the fact that I had myself convinced that I am too big for her/my tack is maybe not fitting/there is something wrong with her/I simply can’t ride well enough. While there is always room to improve the things I can control, actually, T, when it comes down to it you’re just riding an unbalanced baby horse with bigger movement who’s not quite sure where to put her legs or how to carry herself all the time. So, just buckle down, stop worrying, and show her where you want her to be. Let her make mistakes, rebalance her and go again. Work to build up her topline and strength. Check in on your position and aids periodically, don’t make it complicated. 

So simple when someone says it out loud.


If you haven’t guessed by now, blurry screen grabs is all you get. I was anti media this time but husband videoed a little on the down low and I’m glad he did :)

Literally every corner of this arena is a spooky corner, and she didn’t care at all.

Day 2’s lesson was a huge improvement over day 1. I’ve got a lot of position fixes I’ve let slide, plus I was nervous, so please don’t judge my riding in the screen grabs too harshly. Sophie again made me proud by marching around confidently and trusting me every time she wasn’t sure and I said we were fine. In the moment it felt OK, with lots of not so great. On watching the video back, it’s mostly all ok. While the images I’m sharing don’t reflect the worst moments, they also don’t reflect the best...it looked like what I’m sharing... I’m on a phone at the moment and don’t have time or technology to pick the nicest moments in time. You’re just getting wherever the screen capture grabbed and the image was clear. I’m beyond pleased with Sophie.



Her ring buddy left and she didn’t care at all. Plus Bridget screamed for her the entire time. Not helpful, B! But, as long as I gave S a job, she was totally fine. For me, such things are the biggest wins with baby horses.








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Wednesday, 7 July 2021

All The Best Laid Plans

 I feel like I'm currently really good at planning, and kind of terrible with the follow through. Continued covid complications, work scheduling issues, and living where I do kind of threw a wrench into many of my plans this spring.

 Which is...life. Sh!t happens, and I'm grateful the horses are healthy and happy and could care less whether I do all the things or none of them.



Where I'm dropping the ball is that instead of adapting and continuing to work towards the bigger picture things, I go from super disappointed Plan A was cancelled to treating it like a free pass to not have to do the thing at all. Show dates moved? Fine, lets go trail riding and not even think about having pony on a contact for a couple of weeks. Lessons cancelled? Oh well, I know she said to work on X, but since she won't be here for another month to check in, we'll get to it later.

Which would all be fine if I didn't actually want to go to shows, to be a better rider, to have nicely schooled horses. I frustrate myself because I know what I need to do, but the follow through just isn't there and I allow other (usually easier, but not as important to me) tasks, to take priority. I'm just too busy to put the riding time in every day, after all. Then I come full circle, discouraged that I haven't made the progress I hoped. Which, of course I haven't, I didn't put the time in!



The trigger for this post, and what finally really woke me up to what I'm doing, was a lack of note paper at work.

Rummaging through my desk drawer, I found some old day planners with some blank spots on the pages. Perfect! I've been flipping through and filling in the open pages as needed, saving the trees at the same time. But, these old books kind of work like an old diary too - despite them being 'for work' and full of old project notes, there are a ton of show dates marked off, lessons, entry closing dates, ride plans, etc penciled in. The difference between then and now is huge and made me really take a good look at how I've kind of allowed myself to fade away from anything that feels too challenging or risky or too much like a big commitment or chance to fail. I've been filling my spare time instead with 'safer' things that mean less to me.



What I do have going for me is that I'm aware I'm self sabotaging, and I'm finally seeing how much it's affecting my life. I'm ready to sit down and discuss why that might be and what I can do about it with someone. I'll let you know how it goes.




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