Tuesday 27 April 2021

Bits Of Progress

 I didn't ride at all this past week. 

But, never fear, I did spend almost every spare minute at the barn!

These two were just enjoying some time in the field at 'their' barn this week

I was actually at 'my' barn, where the horses don't live (yet), but hey, it counts, right?

Their attached paddock to be. Currently a little less picturesque than where they are now ;). The blue house is ours (currently rented to a nice lady), yellow is the neighbour.

I'm sore and tired after a week of digging and raking and building things, and I only have what feels like a shockingly small amount of progress to show for it. It really is worth it to pay for a machine to do the work for you! Unfortunately it is a small place and there is only so much he can do with a big machine - it's on me to clean up the smaller nooks and crannies on the property.

Not exactly after...but getting there? Rehanging the doors and a new paint job will help immensely, I think. Plus I'm strategically planting some gardens and climbing roses to hide the ugliest parts ;)

Get some wood stain and flowers in here STAT! The photo angle makes this look like the longest wall in the world, but it's only 10' long and 7' high ...there is reasonable hope the new shrubberies can hide it :)

I feel like I've temporarily made a bigger mess by dismantling fences and making mulch and construction debris piles. The visuals are also not helped by the fact that it's been pouring rain and the whole place has basically turned into a giant sticky clay/mud pit. So, really ,it's just as well I'm taking a time out from the big machines while we clean up the smaller stuff and prep for them to come back. Just like progress with the horses, I guess it's going to get worse before it gets better!

Oh my. I optimistically bought grass seed, but don't even want to think about how much gravel and drainage is going to be required back there before I plant anything.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town...grassy fields and a sunnier day. Boarding does have some benefits, lol

Aside from cleaning up the area immediately around the barn, I saved a bunch of  hazelnut and berry bushes from the property (they grow there like crazy) and then potted them to save for later re-planting along laneway. I hit the garden centre as well and bought a few shrubs (lilac/california lilac/elderberry/nootka roses) to fill any gaps. Wood prices are through the roof (if you can even find cedar for fencing) so I'm going to do a nice black mesh fence with an informal hedge set inside. If you haven't guessed, I enjoy gardening so I'm actually having quite a lot of fun planning all of that.

I've also started dismantling old fences. A lot of it is rotten, some of it has to come out simply because we need space to get big dump trucks in and turned around and water lines put in. I'm cursing my previous self for cementing the original fence posts in :)

Do you think she knows how spoiled she is?

All in all, there is so much work to do that I'm not even optimistic they'll be moving in this coming fall. But, I'm in my element and I love doing this kind of stuff, so you'll be seeing lots of little progress updates for the foreseeable future. I'm slowly embracing the idea of reusing the building, and have some fun things planned for it.  Hopefully, once I'm less obsessed/excited about it I'll get back to using some time in the evenings to ride instead.


Monday 19 April 2021

Pony Property Clean Up - Part 1

 Part 1, because *spoiler alert* it's still a disaster.

First up, here's my quick sketch of the layout of the 'pony' part of the place. Useful/not useful because it currently looks nothing like this :) :

Same as it ever was, just adding the new ring (it used to be above the barn) and a covered grooming area on the south side of the building. Not shown is that there is another vacant lot accessed from a gate under the tree in the upper left - an extra area for the horses to go in the summer.

Last Wednesday:

Is that the barn roof back there? We walked up the fence line a little, but the whole back of the property was this overgrown. Crazy to imagine I used to keep my horses  there and even mowed the lawn back here! The rainforest is relentless with the amount of greenery that grows in so quickly.

Day 1:

The neighbor across the street is a machine operator by trade, and the one next to that runs a trucking and excavating company. My excuses for not tackling this sooner are pretty weak.

Oh look, my old pony palace. Last use of it predates the blog by a couple of years so your first intro to it is in this very sorry state.

Looking back towards the lane.

Day 2:

Starting to look a little more like a pony field. I tried to leave some trees so the renters in the house (back right) didn't have to look at ponies. ( I know, I know, who wouldn't want to look at them? Apparently it's a thing. Since a lot of the trees were old and needed to go we're building a privacy fence and hedge behind the back yard of the house instead. Or should I annoy them with ponies until they leave and we move back in? Hmmm)

Part of what's left of my old riding ring. This section is going to get cleaned up and gravel added for a winter paddock.

Day 3:

Mostly just dump trucks taking out all the cleared brush. 7 huge loads of it! The 'new' riding ring area by the back lane is looking pretty level and cleared, but of course there is a ginormous stump right where the gate needs to go.

We've obviously got a ton of work to do to put in an adequate base and drainage...I'm thinking that will happen after the perimeter fencing and the barn. Because the barn...oh my. It wasn't fancy before and I kind of want to light a match to it now before it falls down on it's own accord :)

Stalls on the left, hay and tool storage straight ahead, old ring/paddock area to the right. I was young and broke, so was resourceful in using extra building materials from the house, driftwood logs and free paint samples to put this together. It's not aged well, nor did it enjoy living under blackberry bushes and fallen trees for 10 years.

The corner posts are still square, but they are needing to be jacked up and repaired. There are multiple pieces of siding missing, windows broken, and doors off the hinges. The inside is even more trashed and it looks like someone was living/squatting/hoarding garbage in there after they kept chickens in it (I'll spare you the pictures - it's gross)! I'm on the fence about bulldozing it and building something new, but with the current shortage and cost of building materials those in the know are encouraging me to patch it together for a few more years use. If we proceed with that, this is the area where I'm going to have a basic covered outdoor groom/wash space.

So, that's what I was working on this weekend. I'm thinking it is going to take a lot more weekends before the place is worth another progress report :)


Tuesday 13 April 2021

go, go, go

 I feel like things have gone from pretty quiet and predictable, to 11/10 busy this spring.

My work is absolutely crazy right now, and I've got a lot going on outside of work at the moment too. 

The horsey blog relevant things are that lots of riding is happening and I'm in the process of organizing either some clinics or lessons (depending on whether there is enough local interest or whether I will just travel to her). I am reluctant to attempt to organize clinics again, and am most likely going to arrange to just meet somewhere for a lesson, but we'll see. 

In the meantime, we went trail riding all by ourselves and she was very excited, but excellent.

Our Covid situation here isn't currently great and travel outside your community isn't advised. I'm fully on board with riding lessons and shows not being essential so you won't see me out there until we're able to do it safely. Many shows and outings scheduled for this spring/summer have already been cancelled. This of course puts a bit of a damper on my lesson scheduling, but I'll cross my fingers I can get something organized as soon as it's safe to hop back on that ferry.

With shows and out of area clinics off the table this summer, my focus has shifted to buckling down and getting things done at home. 

We've made multiple offers on properties these last couple of years, but the market is red hot and nothing really works out. The last one had 15 competing bids for a 400k listing and finally went for 150k over asking, all in about 24 hours. So, we're going to start work on the World's Tiniest Horse Property this week. I think I've mentioned it before and shown you some plans, but then I got sidetracked :) Anyway, I have a little 1.2 acre property that is zoned for horses. I bought it many, many years ago before I met G. We have been renting the house on it out for the past 15 years or so and the remainder of it sits unused.

 I'll give you a recap post this week and get some before pictures of the disaster that is the 'horsey' part of place. (To give you an idea, I've hired an excavator to clean it up - it's just been slightly overgrown/neglected and there may or may not be a tree fallen on the barn. I've been travelling and living elsewhere a very long time lol).

This is the space I'm working with - I think it ends up being about 3/4 acre, so it's TINY. I wanted to leave a nice yard for the house, and have my access off the back laneway in case we keep the house rented long term. You can see some of the old paddock fencing and the barn.

Plans include upgrading the rustic 'barn' a little, clearing paddocks and planting grass seed, new fencing, and, if I'm lucky, the contractor will be able to fit a riding ring in the back beside the lane! While it's not going to be what I had envisioned having, I am grateful to 'previous me' for getting into the market when I did and I'm super excited about having my own space again. The hope is to move the horses there next fall. 

Bridget's going to be a backyard pony :)


Wednesday 7 April 2021

A nice week

 We’ve been having fun since my last update, with more to come - I’m on vacation!

 So far, the weather has been very kind and we’ve had sunshine and warm spring days. It’s still too cold at night to really go wild planting the garden, which just means more barn time! 

Sophie’s still being worked a few times a week and thriving. I admit to second guessing myself this winter and comparing her to the other 4 coming 5 year olds already doing all the things, but I’m so glad I waited. She’s finally looking more like an adult horse ready for a job and she’s come back stronger and ready to go. She’s retained all the basics she learned last summer/fall and just looks good.

Here’s where I let you down by only having trailer and Bridget media. I’ve been trying to focus on the moment with Sophie and if I’m being honest, I low key dislike people taking pictures of me. So, I’ve left the riding media distraction off the agenda this week. But, Bridget is adorable, right? 😁

I’ve been keeping it low key on her - I am mindful I am not really brave enough to push the boundaries. Despite all my best intentions I find myself sending her little signals that maybe I don’t mean it: “Go forward, but my tense body says maybe not TOO forward, thanks!” Especially in canter, but I’ve caught myself doing it in trot too. Sophie’s generous enough to adjust accordingly, but I’m aware such riding might eventually lead to inadvertently shutting her down. That’s where R comes in! I’m very lucky to have someone willing to hop on and canter all around our giant club arena, letting Sophie find her balance with a rider with zero stress. ( I am far too prone to worrying about all the things going on in or around the arena and making excuses for why it’s not an ideal time to canter the baby horse) 

Resident deer was more interested in inspecting the new trailer than my horses ;)

Started organizing the tack room, realized I own a lot of blue items lol

There was a clinic this past weekend that I had on my calendar to attend, sadly I just couldn’t justify spending another $500 on horse things right this instant. But, there is always a silver lining - it was at our “home” arena and there was plenty of space to share. So, we took Sophie and accomplished many of the things I had wanted from the clinic - riding in a busy arena with other horses coming and going, and a show like atmosphere outside. 

Took no time at all to fill that up...and this is just “spare” stuff. I may have a problem.

In short, Sophie’s coming along really well, I am taking a bit of time to get my confidence on her, but it’s coming. We’re good.

I’ve been riding Bridget quite a bit to get back riding fit after my very slow winter. B is doing just fine. She’s having a little spring allergy flare up but still enjoys being a part of things. I’m forever grateful I’ve got my “old faithful” to fall back on when I struggle a bit with a young horse.

Trailer driving has been happening. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned I actually haven’t towed a trailer in years...and “back in the day” it was a boat with a pretty easy shot to the boat launch. So...this horse trailer thing where I can’t see over it is different and new. I’ve been practicing without the horses. I’m confident driving around, but backing up around corners is not a thing I am that great at yet. My husband is easily able to back it into tight spaces, which I appreciate, but I don’t want to be “that girl” getting the guy to park the trailer for me. So, I will keep practicing!