Wednesday 29 December 2021

2021 Recap

How on earth is it so nearly 2022? I started writing this feeling pretty dismayed by how little I felt like I changed or accomplished this year. Then I started looking back through my posts and tried to be fair to myself. We got a lot done! 


Was a slower month. The weather was not in my favor, and the boarding situation I was in at the time meant the day to day chores took up literal hours. I called time out on keeping Sophie in work and Bridget got the most of my riding time. I also was busy planning and scheming for baby Bridgets and finalized breeding plans for spring.


We had a couple of weeks of uncharacteristic snow. Sophie went wild, as did B. I had a couple of minor falls off a feeling way to good B, Sophie continued having time off to grow. The struggle continued with the boarding barn and lack of daylight/time to ride.


I bought a trailer! Finally!

Sophie continued to be a wild child, and I enlisted help getting her back into work. After a couple of bad falls and a rough go of winter, my confidence was at an all time low and those baby pony miles were not coming easy to me.

Seems safe

I got back in the swing of things by putting a ton of hours on B, and then finally felt confident enough to get Sophie out and about on the trails solo. Plus, I decided enough of boarding, the horses are moving home! 

Exciting day, rediscovering my old barn back there in all the brambles.

I spent so much of my free time working on the barn. A fresh coat of paint for the whole thing, and then these signs I love arrived:

The ponies also got quite a bit of time out and about including some baby ring rides for Sophie and quite a few trail outings. A sad update for B in that with the Covid situation, getting her over to the vet and bred this year wasn't practical, so we rescheduled for 2022.


The month of the Heat Dome. Crazy hot like we've never seen and the horses were suffering. I hope we never see that again! After that passed, I continued working away on the property and the barn, and even managed to get both ponies to a clinic for lessons.

Practicing our future dressage pony halt at x

The fun thing for this month was that we took a 3 day trip down to my old coach's place and had some lessons. I needed the boot camp and came away with a lot more confidence in myself (and Sophie)


Another fun away trip. This time camping and lessons on Vancouver Island mid month. Sophie was super spicy and I didn't get a lot out of it, but all good experience for the pony. We did have an epic time floating in the river, camping, and having fun with the crew. We're definitely making this an annual event.

Off we go for an adventure!

The month ended on a bit of a sour note when I moved from our boarding situation, but luckily I had a friend ready to take us in.


So much fun was had. I swear friend S and I were reliving our youth and riding every day. We've been friends since we met at a barn (of course) when we were about 10, but of course life has interrupted me the last 10 or so years with traveling around for work etc. Definitely a huge silver lining to be boarding at her place and have the ability to ride together whenever we like!

Helped by the beautiful weather and epic trails in her neck of the woods.

I really started to notice a difference in Sophie. All that riding started turning her into a pretty reliable mount. Who knew? She suddenly seemed mentally more mature too. We had some excellent rides and even a try at a working equitation clinic. After a summer of walk/trot to build up strength, we reintroduced bits of canter with far less drama - a wise decision!


Came with more than a few challenges. Horse wise, we were still getting out to the arena regularly, but the weather was again record breaking awful and we were flooded and/or rained out often. Luckily our area got off comparatively lucky, but November felt like a friendly reminder of all the reasons I wouldn't mind living elsewhere :) I continue to be appreciative of friend S's hospitality, though - I got a definite upgrade in the boarding department this winter and as a result I enjoy my barn time again.


The beginning of December was rough. My husband had a serious medical emergency AND lost his job, plus we were still dealing with fallout from the flooding. But, I did get in one excellent riding lesson with Sophie before I threw my hands up in the air, gave the ponies a two week vacation, and retreated into getting all my year end work done. Since then, it’s snowed, hugely. Anywhere else in Canada that probably wouldn’t affect anything, but they’re not super equipped for it here. So, a much quieter month than expected. We got some of Sophie’s vet report back and I’m opting to give her a bit more time off riding anyway, while we see if feed and vitamin adjustments help.

The snow made a very pretty Xmas morning


A quieter year, but I'm proud that I managed to get monthly clinics in, plus a couple of away camps in the year of insane weather and Covid. The new trailer was a definite win and made getting places so much less stressful. The biggest win was Sophie - I'm so happy with where we've finished with her and glad I was patient and have taken my time. I've also got my confidence back, which feels like a big deal, despite it being one of those things that just took a little effort every day.


Wednesday 22 December 2021


 Sophie's blood work came back and with me being a "they really just need plenty of good hay and an appropriate amount of ration balancer" person,  I learned a few things.

Here I am sharing in case it helps someone else out.

Sophie's Vit E levels came back very low, and zinc levels were on the low side. As per the vet this means:  

 "Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, essential in tissue/skin/fur/foot growth and repair, normal nerve and immune function. It is plentiful in fresh grass but degrades very rapidly in all forms of cut/dried forages, therefore almost always requires supplementation in horses since unlike other vitamins, they cannot make it themselves. She is also low in zinc, which also plays an important role alongside vitamin E for normal growth/repair and function. Deficiencies in Vitamin E and/or Zinc commonly present themselves as poor/abnormal coat and hoof growth, neurological deficits and/or muscle weakness."

Well, that all adds up, doesn't it? 

Two of my big questions: "Why is she not gaining more weight or topline given the amount of food she is consuming?" "Why is her winter coat so excessive?" 

I was previously adding a 'complete' pelleted feed with her hay, as well as a vit/min supplement at the high end of the recommended intake for a horse her size. On the vet's suggestion, a few weeks ago I substituted a ration balancer for those two items as it's higher protein/fat. We've upped the ration balancer a little further to account for the zinc needed.

That leaves the vitamin E. The best place for horses to get vitamin E is in fresh, green, spring pasture. That's a difficult thing to do mid winter. 

Hay can provide some, but the vitamin content goes down drastically as the hay ages, so by this time of year your spring cut hay is very likely not providing much at all. If your hay was a later cut or the quality wasn't great to start with, you definitely need another source of Vit E.

Googling tells me that the ration balancers and generic vitamin/mineral supplements available to me here don't have the amounts needed to overcome a deficit, they're more on the minimum baseline level. 

I'm reading that in the wild, horses would have a surplus coming into winter, and gradually use those reserves until spring, so it's somewhat normal for amounts to fluctuate through the year. Many horses have low amounts at any given time but don't show any clinical symptoms.

I think I hit the worst case scenario - we had a drought all summer so the pasture wasn't overly rich, my hay was also harvested in similar conditions, and then we moved and Sophie lost a bit of weight, so came off fall pasture a bit underweight. She'd likely had already used up whatever she had acquired in the spring. With normal vitamin mixes just providing a minimum healthy amount, we weren't ever going to catch up and no matter how much forage I feed it would have never been adequate.

Not the best pasture even in the best of times - I was thinking it's perfect for ponies, but I'm now aware I can't rely on this type of pasture to provide enough for S without keeping her on the higher end of supplementation.

So, that's where we're at. We're going to give a vet prescribed Vit E supplement a go for a couple of months and redo her bloodwork. There is still a good possibility there is more going on affecting her weight and ability to process her food effectively, so unless there is a drastic change we'll likely proceed with scoping for ulcers at that point as well.

Here's a link to an article that I thought provided a helpful overview of vitamin E in a horse's diet, even though some of the references to supply chain issues are likely not relevant anymore.


Tuesday 21 December 2021

Holiday Ready

 And by that title I mean ready for a break from work, not that I’m in any way ready for seasonal celebrations ;)

December kind of beat me up a little, but on the plus side I put in so much overtime at work that I’ve only got to show up one more half day between now and the new year. Which is good, because Sophie’s had two weeks off at this point and is feeling pretty fantastic. This is normally the time of year the ponies get a couple of weeks (or even up to a month) off so it's not unexpected. The days are short and usually  I am working like crazy to get things done for year's end, or I'm away on a vacation myself.

I've longed them both the last 2/3 days, in hopes of reminding them to be civilized.

There is a pathway going up the side of the area we longe in - I was admittedly distracted trying to take pictures while longeing and Sophie hopped up and cantered up the long 'ramp', She jumped off the bank where the arrow is. Then I think thought it was fun and has continued to try to escape over there to attempt some xc ever since.

You know who's been completely awful though? This monster:

We love you B, but you are not to be trusted. 
OK, that pic was a little mean, here's a nicer one.

I'm actually a little nervous to hop on her - she's absolutely full of it and has years of experience being a crafty, devious pony. Plus when she's in a mood it's like sitting on a giant bouncy ball. There is no neck in front of you and really nowhere to sit at the best of times. Luckily she's normally happy to roll along and be a good girl, but I'm kind of dreading the initial ride back - B has a couple of patented moves I can't sit and she knows how to use them. Good thing she's cute and fun.

Working hard on her beach ball body

I'm excited to get back to a light winter schedule with Sophie and I think she'll be happy to get back to work too. She's gaining weight slowly but surely (yay!) but unfortunately the alfalfa cubes make her a very spicy tamale. 
"Who, me?"

I'm slowly learning a spicy Sophie does not equal a spicy Bridget, though - she's a lot more honest and so far the increased energy means she just puts 'extra' into whatever you ask. That may be an inherent character thing, or just that I've made less mistakes so far and she just hasn't learned how to Pony yet ;) I struggled with her energy levels last winter, but fingers crossed I feel like this year she's educated enough that I can direct that energy better and she's a lot more confident about it.

And yes, she's sporting another terrible looking clip job. My lines are actually straight this time and tracks are minimal, but the rest of her coat is so long it makes the boundaries look ragged. In another boarding situation I'd probably just opt for a full clip and be done with it.

Anyway, Happy Solstice! Here's to increased daylight and ramping up for 2022 with ever increasing time to ride!

Backyard Stonehenge. The sunset aligns with our trail this time of year. This is from 4pm last night...if the weather stays clear I'll try to get a proper sunset shot down the trail.


Thursday 9 December 2021

Slightly More Detailed Pony Update

 With all the bigger picture things going on, I've kind of been slacking on the in depth pony status updates. Which, for my lovely readers is probably just fine :) For my future self, though, I do like to keep more detailed notes and thoughts here to refer back to later.


Riding was limited last week due to weather and general chaos. 

I've been trying to take a long lunch break and exercise her while it's light out, but my plans still get cancelled when it's raining really hard. This was a 'stay warm and dry in the truck while Sophie just eats lunch' day :)

I've been good about longeing, but with limited daylight hours, I have been not good about tacking up and using side reins. My gut says that's not a huge deal - I think they've served their purpose. She's got a pretty good idea of where her feet and balance needs to be these days. She spends most of her time using her body well or stretching without the reminder of side reins or vienna reins. If she goes back to wanting to be inverted and holding herself like a giraffe, I'll revisit. For now she still lacks balance in the canter but it's coming.

pre ride longe

Clinic - as mentioned, went very well. We had a very similar lesson as last time. A lot of walk/trot transitions and back and forth in the gaits, followed by some leg yield exercises, followed by a little 'jump' course that was just poles and grids on the ground. She's absolutely fine with poles, but I am guilty of just trotting over random ones if someone else sets them, they're not something I set up or regularly work her over. Even so, she was a lot more confident with distances that didn't quite work for her and way more willing to adjust and figure it out. I think she'd probably be a careful little jumper if I ever went that direction.

In general, she was very spicy and forward and leaning on me, which took a lot of getting used to. She's normally very light in the contact and while forward, it's in a rhythm, not dragging you and accelerating. So, I feel like I got too handsy as she was blowing off my seat and running through me. In other circumstances I would have gone back to transitions and spirals, but this was a good experience - it was good to know where the holes are (I may have resorted to using the fence a few times to stop her).

We finished with a little canter and zero bucking into it. So, that was exciting. Unfortunately I had to miss the second day, but maybe it's just as well - she felt very tired by the end of day 1.

I got so many great shots of my friends riding, but haven't been pulling out the fancy camera and lens for myself. I need to do that!

Vet: We're waiting on more bloodwork to come back. The basic results were normal but we're waiting on a mineral panel too. Vet agreed she's not looking as well as she should be, especially given what I'm feeding. She's also very low on energy as compared to last year. While I appreciate quiet and well behaved, I'm not entirely sure that's who she really is. So she's likely not feeling the best and probably not using her food efficiently, but it could be for any number of reasons. The vet mentioned that with these gradual changes it's often it's a combination of small things rather than one specific big fix, so we start with the easy things (higher protein diet, blood work, mineral panel) then progress. We're currently trying new grain and a supplement for a month, then if the lab results come back normal and she still hasn't made improvements we'll likely investigate ulcers.

I bought a hay net that holds a whole bale and put it up today so hopefully she'll never run out of hay. BUT with Bridget accessing it too, I'm a bit skeptical this is a good idea (or that it will even last 24hrs).

I was given this to try, too. It's active ingredient is spirulina, which I was also feeding Sophie. She finds this much more palatable, but it is also 2x the price for equivalent grams/day of plain spirulina so unless it works miracles I'll have some reservations about using it long term :)


I just haven't had time and daylight to keep two horses in work. Thank goodness for the Bridgets of the world who happily go for a ride whenever you can fit them in. I miss her and feel guilty about letting her sit, but she seems pretty happy to just eat dinner and be groomed most days. I cross my fingers next winter we'll have a lighted riding space and this won't be a thing.

Was pretty excited for the giant hay net. May need a grazing muzzle before this experiment ends.

More interested in flirting with her neighbour, of course. Not like she's stressing me out by being thin or anything ;)


Monday 6 December 2021

It Was A Week

 This is my all-things-equine-related thought space, but of course life outside the horses heavily influences progress, perspective, and enjoyment in my hobbies. 

This has been a tough couple of years, and I’m proud that things are coming together regardless of that. Yes, we could be further ahead, yes it would be optimal to have lessons and other equine services available to us more frequently, but we make small gains anyway, and bit by little bit change happens.

This past week was a bit typical. With all the flooding and continued supply chain issues, my husband was laid off his job. Then, this week, they announced they were shutting down permanently (after 100+ years running). He’s fine, he’ll just retire early and maybe do something else for a bit, but it’s a big blow to this community. 

The vet came the following day, but was running late for the ferry so she literally was there for about 5 minutes to pull blood. So no big immediate answers, but then again, I wasn’t expecting any. Do I cross fingers the bloodwork comes back with something? Not sure :) She left me with a sample muscle building supplement to try, and I’m excited to see if it helps. 

Friday, we went to our clinic and Sophie was SPICY. I wasn’t happy with how I rode. I am not used to not having brakes and it seems I haven’t installed them overly well! The temptation to pull back against her was strong. She was fantastic, however, and there was definite progress in all things since our last clinic. Such a good pony and I’m so proud of her. 

To add to the country song theme of this post, look! No tall boots. Lol, the zippers both broke just before my lesson because that’s how the universe works sometimes (or more likely because it was very cold out and the metal was already tired ;)

Just one big spook at that root beer jump standard - she hates it plus it seems to frequently change locations so it’s extra scary :)

Throughout the week, G wasn’t feeling well, and finally on Saturday it was decided he needed to be on Vancouver Island for an emergency procedure. We do have a hospital here, but it’s limited. The reality, though, of having an hour to get from the riding clinic, get the horses sorted, our things packed for overnight, grab G, and try to get to the only available ferry? Then a 90 min sailing with a very ill G before we can even drive to the emergency dept? Such a helpless feeling. That feeling of frustration has already been circling around with trying to get any support for the horses (hay, feed, farrier, vet, saddle fitter, instructors, all come from outside the area) but having minimal medical support for my husband is where I apparently break.

He’s now home and recuperating, but riding time is cancelled for the next few days so I can keep an eye on him. We’ve had snow this morning anyway so I plan to put up some Christmas lights and spend some quality time with G at home. 


Tuesday 30 November 2021


 I'm sick of the weather, you're sick of me posting about the weather. If the sun ever does come out it will be a momentous occasion and you can be sure I'll be soaking up every bit of vitamin D and telling everyone all about it (so, I guess rain or shine, you'll be in for a weather update ;). For now, it's absolutely pouring out there again today and the conditions continue to make riding and owning horses difficult. 

B looking ever so impressed.

Friend S's ring hasn't been handling the excessive water well (really, no one's has though!) but it sounds like they're going to dig it up and redo the base in the spring. My worries about wrecking her footing are no longer valid and we're fine to do what riding and/or longeing we can in there.

G and I were talking about boarding last night. I have always felt like I am a good boarder, paying on time and respecting the property, but this winter I'm a whole new level of trying to be a good addition to the place - with it being a private property and S and her husband living there too I'm treating it better than my own and very reluctant to do anything that might speed up maintenance needs on the property or inconvenience them in any way.

Been procrastinating clipping this super hairy yak because I can just imagine the amount of hair blowing across S's property and all over her barn in this wet and windy weather. But, every time I am sure she can't be fuzzier and I can make do for the winter, I pull her blanket off and BOOM. The weird lines on her back and hindquarters? That's how plush she is, her blanket flattens it into waves.

While I'm a little frustrated to not have our own place further along, I'm also grateful for the extra time to plan things out and try to get the small details right. Last weekend I spent a silly amount of time trying to locate the gates perfectly and have them all open in the same direction. Not from some ingrained need for neatness, but because being able to take the most efficient route with the wheelbarrow and while leading horses will probably be appreciated by future me. My little tack room area is ever evolving - it's a bit of an awkward space and just when I decide on a layout or a piece of furniture I seem to change my mind :)

'Tack room is long and narrow - about 7' wide and has some awkward door and window placings.

In other news, I hit the feed store jackpot and managed to score a couple of bags of the ration balancer I needed, plus some timothy cubes. Supply issues and people panic hoarding are still a thing here so I was pretty happy/relieved to get the girls their feed for another month and to not have to change their diet or resort to feeding them even more hay between truck arrivals (hay is also a fairly precious commodity here at the best of times)

Did I ever post a pic of the finished hay storage? It was originally a 12x16 stall, and huge clean up job - someone had been living in there and there was garbage and broken glass everywhere. I put new doors on (with locks) but left the gravel floor. I have about a 12x12 space for hay. To the right of the camera is where the wheelbarrow and grain bins fit, behind it is a door to my tack room to be.

Finally, I did manage to score an appt with the vet for this Thursday so we'll get Sophie double checked and make sure all is well (bloodwork and checking for ulcers), then we have a clinic on Friday and Saturday. Should be interesting given the limited amount of riding I've been doing :)


Friday 26 November 2021

Biding Our Time

 In a couple of ways!

We're nervously awaiting a couple more storms bringing a lot more rain, so the horsey events scheduled for this weekend have been postponed. We're signed up for a clinic next weekend so I do still have some riding plans on the agenda - it's just going to be about dodging the weather.

Saddle fitting: the fitter came out, wasn't happy with Sophie's condition for her age. (Neither am I, to be fair). So, a saddle is on hold - no point spending $$$$ only to have her shape change. One quick vet consultation later and we're switching her diet up a little and are scheduled in for a couple of exams to make sure there isn't a physical reason she's eating so much and not maturing/putting on more pounds (unfortunately not until January - the logistics of getting the vet here (or Sophie to the vet) in person are complicated).

On the plus side, the vet is OK with her weight, didn't seem super concerned about how slow she is to mature and suggested just a small diet change. I am fine to keep her in work. The saddle I am currently using fits Sophie well. So, (despite feeling a bit like I am) I am in fact not doing it all wrong.

On the downside, this week has been a struggle. I took the fitter's feedback to heart and was pretty upset. I know she meant well and I respect her for saying it, but getting weight, topline, and muscle on this pony is a real struggle and something I thought I was making progress with. 

Anyway, we have a plan and onwards we go!


Tuesday 23 November 2021

Staying Dry

Logic should have told us the amounts of rain we’ve been seeing would eventually cause damage, but I don’t think anyone foresaw just how catastrophic it would end up being. 

Where I live was just outside the worst latest storm’s path so we are fine, but our friends just to the south weren’t so lucky - the regional gov't I work for is in a state of emergency due to flooding, mudslides, and washed out roads and utility lines. They’re comparatively very lucky compared to other areas, though. The bigger area situation is just heartbreaking and beyond me to recap here. On a horse specific note though, the rescues shared online are incredible. The local media has been showing people in boats helping cows and horses swim out, fire departments getting ingenious lifting them out of sinkholes, and even a few airlifted to safety via helicopter.

I saw a video with some cows getting flown out in cargo nets - if we filled the cargo net with hay like a round bale net B would happily hop in the middle and fly anywhere!

The worst we have to contend with here is some grocery and fuel shortages due to the highway and rail routes to the coast being flooded or destroyed. I was OK with that until yesterday, when I had a moment. The feed store is out of the things I feed (alfalfa hay cubes, timothy hay, grain) and not likely to be restocked for 3 weeks. Why? Apparently people panic buying and hoarding. I found that pretty discouraging and frustrating - not an understandable supply chain issue but a 'people being selfish' issue.

I’m grateful to have a barn full of hay (feeding Sophie just local hay isn't ideal, but I can up her ration and I do have a tub of vitamins that should get me through - we're still luckier than some, right?) 

Local hay is already Bridget's main diet, and I'm appreciative of that.

 The forecast is for yet more intense storms coming in tomorrow through to Sunday, so keep your fingers crossed for everyone, particularly those south of us.

I haven’t ridden this week - my work has been going late and it’s dark out extra early with the grey and miserable days. We tried to book the indoor arena for a regular weeknight rides, but it seems everyone else had the same thought and we weren't able to come up with a free time that worked for us. Outdoors it is!

Feels like I've been making headway on her weight and topline so I'm trying not to panic.

On the weekend, I did some roof and gutter fixes to our little barn, plus redid the perimeter drainage - and dug in some culverts - there was a large amount of water running through my barn for a while there! I’m grateful the horses hadn’t moved in yet and my hay is up off the ground! Also grateful that where they currently are boarded is overengineered as far as drainage and surfaces, so my horses have been high and dry all winter. I’d hate to think about how deep in water and mud we would have been elsewhere. Always so many silver linings to be found, right?

In a further good news/bad news situations, my husband’s work is shut down due to the current supply chain issues and inability to transport their product out. But, guess who suddenly has lots of time to put in new fences and help with the barn renos? He's pretty epic at fencing. We're getting enjoyment over that : "I redid the south fence line yesterday" in a farmer/rancher voice sounds pretty major if we don't mention it's 1 acre and literally 12 fence posts ;)

Anyway, a happy little before and after - I finally got my new tack room wall up and door hung this week:

The sliding door is a win as far as space goes - lots more storage!

 If nothing else the last couple of weeks have been a good learning experience for what we need on our property as far as improved drainage (and feed storage). It's been a good reminder to have a plan in case of emergency and that being a little more self sufficient here is never a bad thing. 

I've been looking hard at outdoor lighting - I'm hoping this time next year my ring will be in and I'll have some form of lighting to be able to ride after dark. Being able to ride every day after I get off work will be a game changer - currently I am limited to 2 weekdays.

Stay dry, everyone!


Monday 15 November 2021

Weekly Happenings

 The awful weather trend continues, but I’ve settled in to my easy winter work schedule and am motivated to ride. I got Sophie out for 3 rainy rides and one longe this past week. 

She doesn't love hanging out in the rain (the stalls at the arena aren't covered) but she's not dramatic about it at least.

She’s currently so hairy. I don’t know why she grows such a horrible winter coat. I think it seems more genetic than management related. Imagine your fine haired TB had the quantity coat a Shetland would and that’s where we’re at...despite our mild winters it’s super long and fine and prone to matting and nastiness under her belly and between her legs. I was hoping to not have to clip this year given she’s not in daily work and living outside (with a blanket and a shelter) but I think I’ll have to.

Pictures surprisingly don't convey the amount of hair. You'll have to trust me.

Rides are going well. I still struggle with her tendency to be a banana to the right. It’s hard work,  but that’s standard baby stuff. She’s very good about keeping on the path I put her at the speed I ask, so we do have a couple of the basics solid these days.

Single longeing pic because it's too wet to bring out the nice camera for any length of time.

She still feels happy to work and comes out relaxed and confident, which is again a huge improvement.

I’ve been adding in some trot poles and a bit of canter again. The canter transition is still very green and often includes a big buck, but it’s getting better. Trot poles are a piece of cake, so I’ve started moving them in and out and putting them on curves. She’s getting great about going forward or coming back in balance.

Walk/trot/walk, walk/halt/walk transitions are really coming along. I’d say I’m very happy with what she offers 50% of the time, and the rest is always a “me” thing, solved by setting her up a little more or riding it more accurately.

Lateral work basics are all there - leg yields, spirals, moving front and hind independently, changing bend. It’s just a matter of practice and putting the pieces together now so it flows better and the tempo doesn’t vary. 

From a couple of weeks ago, sorry I am short on media :)

I actually feel a little guilty when I write out these little progress updates. She finds things so much easier than B and is naturally so much more agreeable, balanced, and forward that I almost feel like I’m cheating somehow. Don’t get me wrong, we are still decidedly average and I’m putting in hours of work, but it’s not nearly the level of effort or dedication I’ve felt was normal up to now. To be fair, perhaps as a rider I’ve learned a little and am better at explaining things these days, but S still picks things up at light speed and finds them easy compared to poor B. Lateral work with B was literal years in the making to get to where Sophie is in a couple of months. Sophie already is much simpler to keep together and softer than B in all gaits and transitions too. 

The obvious gaping hole right now is the canter, but that will come. Her canter is huge for such a small horse and the slow progress is a strength/confidence thing rather than a mechanics or willingness thing. I actually backed off completely a few months ago after she had a time out to mature, and only reintroduced it regularly a couple of weeks ago. I’m going to loosely follow what we did with a Bridget and use walk and trot exercises to build the strength and coordination. For now we canter only for short periods and focus on quality over quantity, quitting well before it falls apart. Unlike B, she’s got a really nice canter naturally and a big desire to please, so I’m happy to not mess with it.

Upcoming: we finally have a saddle fitter coming next week and I’m hoping to get the dressage saddle sorted for us (if I go custom that obviously means she’s never to be sold and staying forever, lol) plus some ideas for a used jump(!) saddle. Two weekends from now we’ve got a weekend dressage clinic. I’ve booked private lessons this time in hopes of getting plenty of winter homework.

Attempting photos for saddle fitter so she can bring some samples that might work

In short, it’s going well, and I’m happy!