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!)



  1. That sounds so much like Katai with the fight mode piece. She’s bitten, kicked at, and tried to trample me when she’s super stressed and that is 100% not her in any sort of normal environment. Then I need to use some pressure to redirect and then she flies straight into flight mode. My goal has been to keep working on putting her in low pressure situations where we can practice more typical groundwork pressure stuff so that hopefully as the stress increases it won’t be such a massive thing. Also, at 12 she’s finally just starting to feel a little more mature so there’s that too lol

    1. Interesting! I've met one other horse with a similar reaction when she gets really stressed, but she was also sweet as can be under normal circumstances. She's an absolute star these days too.

  2. Oh my gosh, what a gorgeous area! It sounds like you did a great job with the horse you had that day. That's definitely a win!

    1. We did the thing, at least? :) It's so gorgeous - we spent some free time looking around and dreaming of buying real estate there.

  3. Sounds like you handled the green horse moments appropriately. Challenging but what a fun weekend!


  4. That place is amazing! It sounds like Sophie had too many things and the hamster fell off the wheel. I know that well so you did great with her.

    1. It's so gorgeous over there - it's super tempting to relocate permanently to the island.

  5. Oh Sophie :) bless her and you too for dealing with it so well :)

    1. Poor Sophie! The things we ask of her, lol

  6. Ugh Sophie, at least the instructor was understanding. The party and the float sound amazing!