Monday 29 March 2021

Trailer Must Haves?

I think I've been talking about getting my own trailer for the 10 year extent of this blog. I finally went and picked one up this past weekend. 

It's never to late to achieve those goals, lol.

I ended up buying new because I live at least one ferry ride from anything and that pretty much automatically makes any trip an overnight one. It made me anxious buying used 'unknown' where I didn't know the maintenance, miles, or history. I know it's not a car and a trailer only has so many things to maintain, but still...given my middle-of-nowhere location I really need reliable and as few surprises as possible.

With the current used market super hot and prices approaching new, it became a no brainer to just set a budget, go to the dealership, and see what I could get. Luckily, they had the three trailer brands I was interested there to look at, and it worked out the one I ended up choosing was in stock and ready to go. The one I had originally reserved to pick up ended up not being the one I chose, so I'm glad I was able to get there in person and look, even though it meant a 16 hour travel day!

A few compromises were made, but this checks all the boxes for things I need - small and relatively light for our F150 to tow. Aluminum body that won't rust and windows that close and lock, since it's parked in our driveway in the Wet Coast rain.

So, that's accomplished. As a person who tends to like having only a very basic level of 'things', it still seems a little odd to have it sitting in the driveway. But, if ever there was a year when I'd deem a trailer essential (with Bridget's upcoming trips to the Island), this is it.

Anyway, as a newbie trailer owner who is planning multiple overnight trips...I'm hoping the more experience crew can make recommendations on what I need to stock the trailer with. 

It came with interior/exterior lighting, a water tank, spare tire, all that. The doors and windows lock, so I'm cool with storing trailer dedicated essentials in there full time. The tack room is not huge but I am a minimalist. It came with hooks, blanket bars, saddle racks, and organizers installed.

Off the top of my head, I'm needing a roadside kit for tire changes, I'm thinking a first aid kit, and the obvious practical things like trailer ties and hay bags. You wouldn't think trailer ties would be a rabbit hole I could get lost in, but with one horse who doesn't solidly tie, and one who has allergies and really needs to be free to travel with a lower head, I'm indecisive.

So, readers - any recommendations for must-have items you can't live without? On the flip side, is there a commonly recommended item that you didn't find useful?


Wednesday 24 March 2021

Good Things are Happening

 It's been a little while since I've felt like saying much. Winter kind of took it's toll on me this year in all things motivation and feeling ok about myself. I was having the odd day where I felt alright, but for the most part I was letting anxiety and negative feelings get the best of me and then feeling ashamed of my seeming inability to get on with things or acknowledge the many positives in my life and things I have to be grateful for.

I'm still digging myself out my hole of negativity, but, as always, I keep on working hard to progress too. So, even with some setbacks, there have been lots of good things happening that deserve updates here, despite my inability to pick up a camera to document them :)

- Sophie's been back in work for a couple of weeks now. I've enlisted R to help out again and she's had one great ride, one average one, and one more challenging one where I knew I'd made the right choice getting help. I'm riding too, but I think my confidence took a knock (along with my head - ha ha is it too soon for concussion jokes?) this winter so I'm mostly just hacking on her days off between R's schooling sessions. I'm getting myself back to being more comfortable up there and more riding fit, trying to be patient with myself and just do whatever feels within my comfort zone on the day. It does get easier every day.

She got a grown up pony bridle too. Also, she's shedding, so that awful clip will hopefully be a distant memory soon.

- I got a new phone...and the Pivo now works with it! It took some excellent video of a friend's recent lesson. I tried it last night in more challenging conditions and it still managed to track Bridget and I in rain and fading daylight. Exciting! One step closer to virtual lessons and showing.

- Sophie has definitely grown and filled out this winter. I need to measure her, but the difference under saddle is noticeable to the point it's almost as if she's been in work all winter. She's stronger behind and much more balanced and looks wise is getting to be more my type all the time. She's still very immature and a lot to deal with mentally, but the work is helping her settle.

- Clinics and horsey events everywhere. Our little town is close enough to Vancouver that it's been booming ever since the pandemic started. Lots of people moving here from there to work remotely...and a few of those people came with horses! It feels like the local calendar is busier with clinicians and planned rides than it's ever been, and that's pretty exciting. I've met a couple of other people recently that ride and want to do dressage, possibly a bit of jumping, which makes 3 of us! lol. In all seriousness, we've been chatting about sharing expenses to attend out of town lessons and shows, which would be amazing. 

- Bridget is still feeling good. She has a slight cough due to me stupidly trying to sub in a little bit of different hay (I have so much...more than Sophie can eat by the end of summer) but she feels alright under saddle and is still my go to riding pony, happily trucking all over the trails one day and humoring my desire to pop over tiny jumps the next.

- I finally pick up my new trailer Friday! I'm really looking forward to having the freedom to trailer out of town, mostly so I can get back to lessons with EC. Also, it's kind of an integral piece of the puzzle to get Bridget over the island to be bred this spring :)


Friday 5 March 2021

The New Bridget

 Amanda's post HERE got me thinking, because I also own a horse that doesn't much resemble the one I bought all those years ago. It's a fun topic, looking back on where you started from and what you've got now. Maybe your horse has all kinds of experience now, maybe there are way more tools in the toolbox and that's changed how they are to ride and be around. Maybe it's more of a mental thing, where you've both matured into a partnership. I wonder how many of us could honestly say their horse is exactly the same from the day you bought them?

I was looking back on the blog archives and it's so funny - I actually wrote a post about Bridget in April 2014, sharing for the breeder. I was working out of province and not really in the market for anything, plus I was riding at a hunter/jumper barn and had some aspirations of going that direction if I ever was to buy another horse.

I forgot she had a grey mane and tail when she was young...wonder if her foal will?

I actually ended up purchasing her in the fall of that was 6 and a half years ago.

For the first year or so, I had her at home with me and we tackled tons of trails and did a bit of schooling in the arena. She was super on the roads and trails, but my initial impressions were that she was very, very stubborn and super lazy and opinionated about anything she found difficult (which was everything involving any sort of schooling or rein contact). Zero interest in being part of anything that didn't meet her own agenda. Her go to was to just shut down and plant her feet (I'd joke that the batteries wore out). So although she checked my boxes as a safe confidence builder, I didn't love her or think I was the right person long term for her. I was still shopping for the right horse, then Bridget was going to be sold as a safe kids trail pony.

This clinician still asks about B...she looked easy with me, but then decided 'nope' for him and made him work for his $ lol

Then, I moved yet again, for my current job. My office just happens to be 10 minutes from a very good eventing/dressage coach. So, obviously I was not going to let that opportunity slide and just brought the potato pony I had that was sort of for sale to a barn full of eventers.

The next few years I learned a ton, as did B. The more she learned how to use her body, the more forward and confident she became. While she never really could be trusted to not opt out and let me down on the day (we used to joke I needed to bring 150% motivation and commitment to make up for Bridget), her work ethic improved a lot and she became surprisingly athletic and capable as a little eventer/jumper and later, as my low level dressage pony.

She's so cute. I do believe she hesitated a few strides out and I was still shouting at her to go, lol

She's talented enough dressage wise that I was encouraged to keep on keeping on by even some bigger name trainers (besides, by that point we had a partnership and I was super attached and not selling her) but after a couple of successful show seasons she gradually got more and more unreliable and 'stuck' again and was definitely telling me she didn't love her job. I started shopping for a pony to be my future dressage/eventing ride, and that's how baby Sophie came into the picture.

Why yes, I do still have all the tests with nice comments :)

A couple of years ago, I was offered the chance to work from home part time, then Covid happened and I've been full time from home for a year. B moved home with me 2 years ago and I have to say the change in her since then has been absolutely shocking. The first time my coach came to give us a lesson she was surprised - "I don't know how you did it but you've finally got her forward enough". I didn't do anything, to be honest, B was finally just offering it freely and I was happily just riding. Maybe I didn't need another pony for those competition goals after all?  Encouraged by the breakthroughs, I signed her up for a show in the city that spring. She worked wonderfully all the way up to it, then on the day...nope. Nada. The B of 2014 was back and it was awful. I don't know how much more loudly she could tell me she was not interested in being the next dressage star.

Since then, we just visit the arena once or twice a week and hit the trails most days. And again, the difference in her attitude continues to be shocking. She's bold, outgoing, super spicy, opinionated, engaging, and often way too much in your space. She whinnies and comes running when she sees me or my truck.  A far cry from the reserved and uninterested pony I bought who basically had zero personality beyond a pretty strong "best leave me alone if you've got any work planned" vibe. If I look back, she was never easy, and there were always glimpses of a bigger personality in there, but I'm honestly still puzzled as to why she was so reserved for so long. Our current boarding and riding schedule is exactly the same as what we started out with all those years ago, but I've got an entirely new pony. Part of me feels a little like I let her down a little before thinking she was naturally just super quiet and introverted, the other part of me just wants to appreciate that she's gradually come out of her shell over time and is such a fun, happy thing now.

Living the life :)


Monday 1 March 2021

Nothing To See Here - February Recap, March Happenings

 Well, I feel like I totally dropped the ball on doing pretty much anything interesting in February. I had plans to go to the city to pick up my new trailer and then get lots of riding in at the indoor on week nights. In my mind I was totally going to own February.

B striking a power pose

 Then our truck decided it needed some fairly costly repairs before it could safely go on a road trip, the mechanic was booked way out, and it snowed. Rather than adapting my riding plans, I went into "when I have my trailer I will..." mode, where I basically made excuses to do the bare minimum because it's all just going to be so much easier with the trailer so I might as well wait. Never mind that I have been getting rides in 'the hard way' and hacking down the road in the rain and dark for 2+ years now. Some twisted logic there for sure :D

Of course I am somewhat exaggerating my lack of riding time - I did get Bridget out for some nice outings a few times a week last month and Sophie tagged along too quite often. In general, they've both been feeling WAY too good. I've been feeling way too rusty and out of shape - honestly though it's less physical and more that my mental game is pretty weak right now. So, B and I have been on an easy schedule of long walking hacks up and down hills, some basic flatwork in the arena once a week, and that's about it. It's good for her, and honestly exactly what I needed this month to try to get my head straight and my body happy to be in the saddle again.

Look how shiny!

With Sophie, I finally accepted the limits of my patience and ended up giving up getting her exercised on my own every day. I started putting her on a few hours turnout in a different field most afternoons. It's still too wet to use the lower fields and the barn owner was hoping to save the grass for spring, but I was starting to dread having to lead half wild Sophie down the busy road to the arena each day. She's a good girl and tries her best, but she's still young and is naturally very high energy and playful. She really just needed more room to get in a good gallop (or ten) on her own each day. She's done a number on the footing in her own paddock so it's a bit too mucky/slick most days for her to really play as hard as she'd like. Thank goodness the barn owner agreed to let me sacrifice my summer fields a bit for her antics. It really seems to be helping Sophie and I get along better with each other ;).

Likes an audience

Both girls are starting to shed and both had pony makeovers in preparation for spring. B is of course just going off to (hopefully) be bred. Despite having nothing else on her agenda, I like keeping her looking tidy and as much like a little sport cob as I can.

New halter so everyone knows she's special

Sophie. As mentioned, the bigger field with gallop friendly footing is helping S and it's finally starting to be light enough after work to get a quick ride in. Despite having some nice Bridget therapy on the trails, I'm still at a really low point as far as my mental game relates to riding. The mean girl voice in my head has been winning. I know for me the best way to get past that is to just get out there. I need to just be too busy doing all the things to think about all the ways I might be doing them inadequately, yet with Covid I find it difficult - it seems a lot of my motivation to get out there every day comes from setting show or event related goals.

Girls having fun in the sun

Honestly I really need to see if I can book some boot camp time with my coach once I get the trailer home (not an excuse, she lives a few hours away so I really do need a trailer to get Sophie there ;). Until then, R has agreed to help out again so I'm hopeful this month as the days get longer, I can get S back to the consistency we had before Christmas.