Wednesday 29 September 2021

Feeling Accomplished

Is it possible to have horse trailering PTSD? 

I went for so many years without owning a trailer, so despite my horses trailering well and us going on the odd adventure, trailering them was kind of A Big Thing. 

Despite many fantastic, fun filled adventures that I'm eternally grateful to have been invited along on, I feel like I also had more than my fair share of stressful travels.

Most recently, the borrowed trailer that stranded us far from home (and a tire shop) when it turned out the tires were out of date and prone to randomly exploding.

Prior to that, sucking up lesson and clinic costs when my ride share had a last minute change of plans and didn't go. That time my horses were 36 hours late arriving, with radio silence the whole time. The pro hauler who started not answering my calls the day before she needed was scheduled to pick my horses up from training. That time a friend's horse panicked in the trailer as I was loading mine, knocked her unconscious, and I ended up trying to be on the phone directing 911, keeping an eye on her, and trying to stop traffic to catch a loose horse on the highway, all while holding Bridget. That was fun, and probably not at all what you should do in such a situation.  

Plus, smaller things like needing to be on someone else's schedule and the stress involved with trying to adjust mine with theirs. Add in random vehicle breakdowns, trailers I was nervous about putting the horses in and me generally being a worrier at the best of times, and well, I knew it was going to take a bit before hauling the horses didn't feel like a big deal. 

Remember when my new trailer even had the resident deer interested? :)

Anyway, last night I looked out the window after work, and saw some rare sunshine interrupting our current 'Parade of Storms' (I don't know who the new Environment Canada media people are, but they are fully on board for drama - 'Atmospheric River' being my other favorite forecast from this week).  So it felt pretty freakin' cool to decide spur of the moment to trailer the horses to the ring and get a ride in.

 Better yet, anxiety levels were finally pretty non existent - I keep the trailer packed with everything I need, I know our truck, it's a local drive, and my girls both haul super well. So, I did all the driving myself, despite G being there, ready and able to help. Laugh at me if you want, but it's kind of a big deal for me - I've been practicing with the trailer empty forever and more recently, delaying adding horses to the plan due to a giant twisty hill with a narrow bridge at the bottom that stands between the horses and the club ground across town  :)

Actual bridge - was not worried about it at all until a well meaning friend was like "don't worry about the bridge" :D

Maybe hooking up and trailering my own horses without any pre planning or worry is not your standard big picture accomplishment, but I've been looking forward to it for so many years that it's a huge personal one.


Sunday 26 September 2021

What’s Old Is New Again

 I’m on a bit of a roll with the weekly updates!

I got the all clear to get back in the saddle, so that’s exactly what I did. Bridget had several outings this week, and Sophie got some too! 

Happy ears

Bridget and I, plus friends, spent a few evenings this week exploring the trails. I met friend S when we were about 10 (in other words, a very long time ago) and we both worked at a trail riding barn (child labour laws weren’t a thing, that’s how long ago ;). In my early 20’s I bought my house across the street from her current place with my first “real job”. I did a ton of work to it, then off I went in search of something bigger and better (in terms of life AND horsey acreage) Many life goals have been met but horsey acreage remains a dream, so a number of years later, here I am, back in the same town, riding the trails where it all started, with S, while I get the old place ready for horses again. It’s different, but the same, and as fun as always.

This used to be all forest - sad to see it go, but the ocean view is stunning now

Trying to get home before the street lights come on :)

I can’t say enough how grateful I always am for Bridget. She’s rock solid, but with enough opinions and energy to be super fun. She’s really a dream pony for trail riding in suburbia where the unexpected is kind of the rule. Plus, I guess I don’t really need the bigger horsey acreage after all - she survives on air and isn’t overly big on stretching her legs on her own time😁

G was working a 16hr shift -  sending him pics of us trail riding on the bluffs above may have been insensitive :D

Sophie got out for a walk one evening and a longe another as the daylight’s already fading too soon to ride both ponies after work. She did get her own outing to the arena, and I was pleasantly surprised with her. Due to me not feeling great, she hadn’t been trailered off property or even properly ridden for almost two weeks. She’s previously not done super well when there’s a gap like that, but aside from a little initial tenseness to start she settled in and did all the grown up pony things the best I could have hoped. We were stuck in a banana shape, so left circles weren’t as nice as I would have hoped, but for the most part she was soft and relaxed and willing to stretch to the contact. Leg yields to the wall are quite nice, spiral right is lovely, as mentioned left is a bit more of a struggle. More balance is coming in the transitions,  and giraffe antics have settled as she’s figured out her body again (she grew again this summer) Anyway, I’m pleased. We’ve got two lessons booked in a clinic two weekends from now and I’m looking forward to it. 

I should pull her mane. Step one towards anyone taking us seriously!

Friday nights out = meeting at the arena to ride. It’s fine, my friends are all horsey anyway.

I was hoping to capture the nice sunset but it got a bit dark 

It’s been a while since I mentioned how I’m doing - I don’t want to jinx it, but the “riding the reactive baby pony” butterflies are totally gone, and in fairness that’s probably a good part of why she’s been so much less spooky and “reactive baby pony” too. I did seek out some help with the anxiety in general, and the recent move has done a world of good as far as lowering stress yeah, while I will continue to work at it, I think I’m on a good path again.

Sorry for the tendency to be wordy is probably why I continue to blog rather than just post updates via instagram, lol

Hope you all had a good weekend too! 


Tuesday 21 September 2021

Still Loving It

 PSA: You're going to get pretty tired of me saying how happy I am to have moved my ponies!

While the people at the other barn were lovely, it's just so cool to be sharing a place with one of my best friends. We grew up riding together and are pretty much on identical wavelengths on all things horses.

Yesterday afternoon's greenery, and B's ears

 I have zero worries about the horses being there. Not that I had huge worries at the other place, but self boarding and not living on site caused me anxiety. There was all the driving and worrying about getting there when I had to work early or late or the weather was bad, plus the unavoidable mix ups and missing things that go along with sharing a common storage space with many people.

Friend S has three horses of her own, lives on site, happily puts out morning hay nets for me (I get to sleep in if I want, for the first time in YEARS. It's weird!) and is out at the barn most of her free time. She's also one of those people who genuinely is happy, positive and motivated most of the time and that's contagious when it comes to smiles as well as riding plans. 

Hiding from the rain

That being said, frustratingly, my pony time was a little restricted this week - winter came out of nowhere and we had winter temperatures and the rainiest days in 3+ years (which is saying something, on the Wet Coast). I also managed to have a surprise health scare and needed a bit of a time out. Fun times! 

Not the exact scenario, but reflective of my medical appts last week ;)

 I still snuck out for a walking only ride on Bridget a couple of times. 

A trustworthy set of ears

At this stage, I'd like to say Sophie is pretty low risk, but she still has moments and it's not overly fair to ask the energetic baby to sedately walk an entire ride because I feel delicate. For the record, she has stepped up and looked after me before, but it requires a lot of try from her.  I like us to be on the same wavelength rather than asking her to accommodate me too many times in a row and risking her getting confused or frustrated about her job. Not to fear though, Sophie still got longed and had a couple of days of pasture turnout. We've got some upcoming clinics booked to keep us motivated too.

I need to get video. Because she's the actual cutest, she comes running in to say hi and tell me about her day the first time spots me or my truck anywhere. Bridget just gives the horsey equivalent of a casual wave from her pasture buffet ;)

We got a little bit of work done on my property this week, mostly just G brush cutting and mowing and me making plans for further improvements. I don't want to get my hopes up, but we saw the tenant packing boxes yesterday...maybe we'll move ourselves in too, sooner than we had planned? No plans to evict anyone since the rental market here is absolutely brutal and we'd feel terrible making someone homeless, but maybe packing boxes = alternate plans on the horizon? :)

B enjoying the all you can eat buffet - photo of her acknowledging my presence courtesy of a zoom lens, lol


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!


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!


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 lucky is that!