Monday, 13 June 2022

On Her Own Time

 Super long term readers will remember the constant struggle with Bridget was her unwillingness to do the thing NOW. Always, no matter what, she needs time to process and think and then put the plan into action. Bridget isn't hasty about anything. It's not ideal when you're needing a sharp transition at C and your pony doesn't connect her brain to her feet without a processing lag, but on the plus side if a scary thing happens she's still pondering it well after everyone else has just run away :)


Ahh, so cute. I actually want 10 Bridgets to just make my life entertaining forever.

I should know this about her and have guessed it would apply to putting her in foal as well. Besides being cute, it's kind of her 'thing'. I really should not be surprised that she didn't take the first time. I also shouldn't be surprised she foiled our plans the second time by holding out days past when she should have been ready, even opting out of reacting to the meds that should have solved that and given us a predicatable 48 hour window to breed her.

I feel like timing Bridget ovulating might be more art than science, comparable to the perfect avocado. Days of "it's going to happen tomorrow", then oops too late. (and just in case you thought you might put another order in, it's 3am Sunday morning now too, ha ha ha)

When I reached out to the vet about whether it's worth trying a third time, part of her response included mentioning how Bridget doesn't necessarily cooperate with plans and likes to do things on her own time and needing to factor that in. Despite being poor and sad from this whole experience, I did have to laugh. At least she's consistent.

I need to have a chat with her...I mean she could have a year + of this potato lifestyle, or she could go back to work as an eventing pony? Maybe I'll threaten her with lesson pony duties *evil laugh*

So, we'll check in two weeks but the odds of her being in foal are very slim. I've gone back and forth over trying one more time and literally can't make my mind up. I'm normally pretty optimistic but I can't shake the feeling this just isn't going to happen and I'm wasting my money. The again, I've been spending every spare moment installing foal safe fencing at our place so maybe I'm not that negative! Plus if there's anything that would make me gamble, it's the prospect of a Bridget 2.0. 

For now we'll wait on Bridget for a couple more weeks and see what happens. Cross your fingers hard for me, I realize the odds are super super tiny but maybe there is a baby in there despite the timing being way off?

In the meantime, I have a lesson with Sophie on Friday, and I haven't ridden in weeks. I'm THAT person. I knew I would likely be very limited in time leading up to this, but didn't want to lose my ongoing lesson spot. I'm going to try my best to just work with whereever we're at and get what I can out of the day...don't expect a glowing lesson review of all the amazing new things we accomplished. Just getting out there and getting it done in spite of the universe seems to be the name of my game this summer.

Speaking of that, the jack failed on my year old trailer when I went to hook it up to ride this weekend. YouTube fix it videos seem to think they fail when they're hooked up to your truck and the jack is accessible, but no...that's not how my luck is. But I still managed to replace it myself so...winning? Sort of?

Property updates coming soon - we've got a lot happening there this month!

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Monday, 6 June 2022

And We Wait A Little More

- Bridget's ultrasound results were not of the variety I had hoped for, so we're coordinating a retry. Maybe I'll have different news in a couple of weeks? I'm disappointed of course, but it is what it is. We'll try once more and then whichever way it goes is how we move forward. I'd absolutely love a foal from Bridget and have to give it try, but also I'm feeling surprisingly rational about the whole thing and the realities of the risks and costs.

- Sophie moved to her temporary home yesterday and was very happy with the greenery in her paddock, less so with the geldings over the fence line. I'm a bit apprehensive about reintroducing her to the herd, but trusting the barn owner to know when it's a good time.  She's been pastured with the crew out there before, but she was very young and it's been a few years.

- Rain, rain, and more rain. It's still basically winter rains here and we're setting all the records for cold and rainfall. So our excavation work is postponed another week - there is standing water everywhere and the soil is completely waterlogged. Progress as far as fencing, etc continues but we really need things to dry out!

- I had my first appointment with a sports psychologist and it was amazing. Highly recommend if you in any way struggle with anxiety around riding or shows, or even if you are just feeling the daily struggle of horses being unpredictable creatures that don't follow a plan. Homework = redefining what I think constitutes me being 'good enough' or 'getting better' at something. Hint: Enjoying, learning, and being in the moment while in the saddle are good goals, and much better than something more quantitative like "riding fourth level' or "capably jumping a 4' course". Hint 2: You'll never be worthy in your own mind if you base too much of your worth on wanting achievements that haven't happened yet or focusing on things that happened in the past. You're 'good enough' right now.

- Sorry for the lack of pictures or media today. I've been uninspired, but I have promised myself a photo taking time out later this week - Sophie has finally shed the last of her winter coat and is looking great, plus there's that big beautiful green pasture background to take advantage of :)




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Thursday, 2 June 2022

'Vacation' Time

I think I had two averagely OK rides after my last post, but Sophie managed to get a puffy leg last Wednesday and so I gave her a bit of a break.

She likely kicked at the neighbouring gelding through the metal fence panel again She had opinions about that scraped up leg on farrier day, but bad choices lead to consequences, Sophie ;)

That one small blip in the plan has lead to some bigger temporary changes. I had that lesson where it kind of went sideways and I had a moment (or ten) where I felt like I just couldn't do it, mainly because I just felt I don't have the time or proper headspace to be there the way she needs at the moment. Getting to the arena is a trailer ride across town and no matter how much I feel like I rush, it takes 2-3 hours out of my day that I often don't feel I have to spare. I went into that clinic feeling overwhelmed, tired, and unprepared. The whole situation sucked, but was a lightbulb moment that I just can't keep doing what I'm doing how I'm doing it....I mean I am not the least emotional person out there, but also I am not the person who has a days long breakdown when my lesson for what's supposed to be my fun hobby doesn't go perfectly, either.

Sophie needing a few days off combined with me having vacation booked from work was a blessing in disguise. Taking riding and work off the list temporarily made such a difference in my outlook and made it so much easier to reevaluate things.

I'm making some short term changes with the horses. Sophie is moving to full board this weekend, and Bridget is moving there too when she gets back (no update yet, ultrasound scheduled for this coming Monday) It's more of a retirement type place with no onsite arena, but there are acres of fields for the girls to vacation in. While they are 'away' I'm going to prioritize getting our property ready for them - I'm so close and it feels very good to make real progress there. Also I really enjoy DIY improvements, so it doesn't feel like work. (And yes, we've hired a contractor for some things to speed up the process, another compromise!)

Sneak peak at in progress fencing

My backyard 'workshop', often how I spend my lunch breaks


Building gates for the orchard/garden area last weekend. I don't think I have actually stopped moving in two weeks and am in a perpetual state of soreness....reminds me how ill suited a desk job actually is to my fidgety, busy self.

I am a little disappointed because I feel a little like I’m admitting partial defeat of my summer riding goals but  I'm well and truly burnt out from trying to keep riding regularly given my current work/board arrangement plus all the property improvements I'm trying to finish at our place. Plus, really, what horses wouldn’t be happy with a 10 acre summer field vacation for a month or so? 


The grass I planted at home for them last fall is growing like crazy, too

I do still have a busy summer clinic schedule and a horsey camping trip  I’ve already booked and paid for, so expect me to be “that” person with the pony who hasn’t been getting as much saddle time as would be ideal. I know it's not a perfect answer, but I think it's a logical one and regular riding is the easiest thing to take off the table right now. The longer term answer is obviously that riding and fun things can have priority as the less fun things (and my mental health) get sorted, but we're not there yet. I'd be lying if I said I have an immediate plan for how I'm feeling right this instant, but it's been a bit freeing to just get to that place where I'm OK with admitting I can't do all the things right now and need a bit of a break from some of it. 



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Thursday, 19 May 2022

And We Wait

 I know I always say I'm busy, but this week has been just stupid. I've been dreaming of a lounger on a beach somewhere and zero responsibilities for about 6 months, but honestly I'd settle for 8 hours of solid sleep.

After my last update about the clinic that didn't go as well as I'd hoped, we packed up the trailer and sold Sophie   (just kidding!) took Bridget over the Island for her very important date. Since the ferries alone are about $400 and 4 -5 hours of life we'll never get back, it makes sense to leave her boarded there instead of traveling back and forth for multiple appointments. She'll stay close to the vet and airport until she (hopefully) is in foal. To speed things along, she has had a shot of lutalyse and will be ready for breeding tomorrow. I'm absurdly excited and anxious about this whole thing and have been checking my phone at all hours for updates. Vets honestly should consider hiring communications staff to spam everyone that has an animal in their care with non stop assurances of their wellbeing, as well as status updates and photos. I'd pay extra for that service, lol.


Bridget living her best life last week. I bring her along to hang out whenever I work on the property since she's basically a dog in pony form.

I've been away for work a bit this week too, which for whatever reason adds to my anxiety levels. After so much time working from home the office in the busier city feels a lot too people-y. It's fun seeing everyone, but I think I'm still mentally at the "meet up with a friend or two a couple of times a week and otherwise keep to myself" stage of reintroduction to the world. The weather has not been helping, we've had record setting cold and rain this spring...maybe we're just going to go straight from winter to summer? I've heard from a few people that the extra months without enough sunshine, plus the cold rainy weather has been messing with their mental health.

Anyway, back to horses. Sophie got good and drunk for had her annual check up, teeth, and vaccinations today, which, if you're keeping track, means I haven't actually ridden since that terrible ride on the weekend. (Following up with that and my current stressy self, I have some time booked with an excellent sports psychologist. I'm looking forward to seeing if it will be as big as a help as I think it might be.)


Sophie living her best life. I have never had a horse who enjoys head and neck scratches so much. I swear she smiles.

But guess what? I have vacation next week. The beach lounger thing isn't an option, but I'm hopeful for 8 hours of sleep, quite a bit of riding, and  some barn and property work completed - in that order of priority! Huge bonus if I have an in foal Bridget back home too, of course. Waiting is so hard, I am not good at it. I have serious questions about how I'm getting through the next year if I'm already finding the experience so anxiety inducing.



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Sunday, 15 May 2022

Deflated

Just over here reminding everyone progress is non linear, and confidence wobbles happen.

Lesson weekend was a tough one. Sophie came out pretty sharp and reactive, but since that’s been our norm of late and she’s been relaxing as the ride progresses, I was in no way feeling worried or negative about it. 

Warming up, S was pretty looky at the fact there were people watching from a place I guess she doesn’t normally expect (a wood judges booth type thing), and so we walked by a couple times and said hi and I let her look. Unfortunately the next time I trotted past someone (I think) dropped something and it made a bang and scared her. We ended up tripping/falling over a nearby wooden bridge that was part of a trail obstacle left out from the working equitation clinic the weekend before, which scared her further, and finished the antics a good part of the way across the arena. In that moment, despite showing some surprising stickability and I think handling it just fine from a riding standpoint, mentally I kind of started to falter. 

Relaxing image. Ponies still have winter coats because it’s been record breaking dark, wet, and cold this spring. 

Poor Sophie’s hamster was off the wheel too, and my “she’s-reactive-but-I-can-handle-it” thoughts started to veer further towards “I Don’t Actually Have This At All” territory. I was left doing circles, figure eights, serpentines for life, in the “safe” part of the arena, we’d both start to breathe and then a new thing would set her off. 

We finished with a couple of fairly interpretive goes around a little course. It was set up to be a few sets of walk and trot poles plus a couple of jumps just set to poles on the ground. Cantering and/or deer leaping even the walk poles and spooking at the jumps and wings was the method  ( why, I don’t know…she’s well acquainted with poles and trotting through grids and crossrails, normally a great way to get her focus,  but genuinely seemed worried on the day.)


Neither of us  worried about the same jumps and poles the week prior

 I wouldn’t be honest if I said I didn’t walk away feeling pretty demoralized. My inability to get her back and consistently checked in with me was a very hard thing for me to work through. Even with an hour of time and super positive coaching, I definitely had moments where I was ready to quit and find my horses a better rider.

So, that kind of stunk. But, we move on, and of course I’ll get back on and keep trying to improve. 

Also, pony appears to have the makings of a pretty scopey jumper, so there’s that. 




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Tuesday, 10 May 2022

Clinic Notes

 Once again, busy, busy, busy since the last update!

Sophie’s been gradually getting less reactive and is gaining confidence back. It’s still not 100% but I think we’re on the right path. I’m at the point of freely admitting the whole sending her away for miles thing last month was more of a mistake than not, hindsight being 20/20 and all that. We’ve got a camp getaway planned for the end of summer in the interior of the province and I’m very much looking forward to getting her out myself on the open hills in some positive group outings and redeeming Sophie’s not so great experience.

In good news, we went to a clinic this past weekend that I really enjoyed. With recent struggles the help was very much needed, and we lucked out with an excellent clinician. I could only ride Saturday but I still took home a ton of new knowledge. Clinician is a very experienced eventing/dressage rider and coach, but also has a great way with words and shared a lot of training nuggets based on equitation science. She’s very adept at breaking complicated seeming things into simple solutions and explanations that make sense. I know there’s no guaranteed step by step approach to anything horses or horse training, but I dislike coaches or trainers trying to keep things mysterious (or even worse, magical) or telling you not to worry about it, you’ll understand when you get there…wherever ‘there’ is? I better understand when people are able to share solid, logical bits of knowledge or experience. This lady is very much about explaining the “why” behind her methods and how the correctly done basics now will eventually build into the bigger future.  I appreciate that.


Breaking the text wall with Sophie



With the added anxiety lately Sophie’s been leaning and pulling and her legs often feel like they are spinning at odds with her body. At times it feels like a very wobbly runaway train, so addressing that was my ask for the lesson.

Clinician started having us do lots of walk/halt/walk transitions and got after me about making them happen neater and quicker, 3 second rule to start, aiming for 1 sec response time as fair for greener horse. If result hasn’t happened in 10-15 sec you need to change the subject, the opportunity for the horse to firmly link the question with the answer is likely lost. From there she had us walk/trot/walk, then finally adjusting back and forth within the trot. Sophie surprised me by offering up extended trot here and there. Wobbly and breaking to canter now and then as you’d expect, but the name of the game was just keeping things very black and white as far as whoa and go, simply forward and back and expecting a reaction within 3 strides. A perfect exercise for Sophie since there was lots of opportunity for her to move out and burn energy so she wasn’t so frustrated and anxious about the slowing down parts.


One 8 sec video is what I’ve got for you ๐Ÿ™ˆ๐Ÿ˜

For me, I’m riding a bit defensively and I think by keeping my shoulders back and my feet forward I’m unintentionally sitting a bit heavier in the saddle, creating a driving seat and complicating things further. First time ever (normally I’m being told about tipping my shoulders forward) so fingers crossed not something that will take forever to fix.

On a general note, I have to add that there was a lot going in both in the arena and out and Sophie handled it pretty well - I’m feeling relatively confident she’s mentally got the tools now to handle a show environment. Of course our flat work has now kind of fallen apart,  but hey ;)


Mowing lawns like a champion, tho

It sounds like this clinician is happy to come back on a semi regular basis, which I’m excited about. It’s been tough trying to travel to see our old coach EC even semi regularly for coaching, but this clinician is very similar in background and approach. If I can find time and finances for semi regular visits with both I would potentially have regular coaching and they would compliment each other very nicely. Very exciting!

Upcoming we have more lessons this coming weekend, Bridget goes for her romantic getaway Monday, and Sophie gets a vet checkup and teeth/vaccinations Thursday. Pony property improvements continue.  I should probably also schedule in a midweek panic over how much I’m spending on ponies this month!




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Monday, 25 April 2022

Lost in Time

*Short note before my horsey updates - I know there are ads appearing and that they're super annoying - I don't have adsense or any intention on trying to monetize anything. It seems they've actually inserted into the page code despite my settings and it's a known issue on older blog templates.  I need to go in and remove them manually (or perhaps it's just time for a blog refresh?). In the meantime, I am sorry!*

 I know it's such a thing to say, but seriously, WHERE did my week off go?

I've learned I need approximately 6 months off to get everything on my to do list done, which is both parts depressing and inspiring (because yay me for making any progress at all with my normal schedule). Also, huge respect for those of you keeping your horses at home, maintaining your own property and still finding time to ride regularly....for me riding did not really happen this past week. 


They probably prefer this anyway

I really wanted to take advantage of being off work and having my husband free at the same time to work on the property. I could count on one hand the weeks we've had off together in the last 17 years, so it was nice....but after putting him to work for a week now I feel like I owe him a proper vacation. Maybe in another 5 years ;)


The piles of tree and shrub pruning were large

The week off went by in a haze of different barn related projects. Filling the barn with hay, burning all the wood waste from land clearing we couldn't chip, fencing, fencing, and more fencing, pruning trees and cleaning up fencelines. New barn doors, picking up a giant load of lumber, staking out the riding ring area, clearing out an area for a manure bin, etc etc etc. Consulting with contractors for the things we can't do ourselves (topping the giant trees that are too close to buildings, putting in ring drainage and base) There is still so much more to do and it feels like I barely made a dent, despite putting in 8+ hour days every day.

I find it more satisfying to stain the fencing as I replace it, for some reason. There's just wire mesh going in here under the top rail, no more full post and rail - I need lower maintenance :)

I really enjoy dong this type of stuff, and the added incentive is this work is for me and the ponies to enjoy for years to come, so despite feeling slightly overwhelmed with my schedule and lack of available time to do all the things, I am excited for every bit of progress and still feeling pretty happy with the decision to abandon property hunting. We'll maximize what we've got for now and keep the investing on hold for when we are free to cash out and move to a less competitive market.


Back of barn building finally complete...next up is to backfill the area in front with gravel to level it

Pony wise, they're doing just fine. We're in the countdown stages to Bridget going to the Island for breeding. I have a dressage clinic next weekend with Sophie. I've made an executive decision to push back the schooling show in two weeks and instead do a boot camp clinic - while I have no reason to think the show wouldn't go fine, it's a day of travel and ferries the day before we need to take Bridget (in the opposite direction for another day of ferries and travel) and I'm just tired.  I'm going to be kind to myself and not put that on my plate right now with everything else.


Because this is what my driveway gates and tack room currently look like - some assembly will be required :)




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Monday, 18 April 2022

I’m Just No Fun At The Party


Sophie’s always been busy and in need of a job, the last few weeks she’s telling me that even more strongly and things have been a bit tough. Maybe it was her time away, maybe not, but she is HOT and anxious. It’s hard not to jump to conclusions given the timing of this behaviour, but I’m keeping in mind it’s spring, she’s got a lot stronger over winter, and she’s being fed well. The other day, I was explaining  to G how it felt like she was holding her breath and how when they blow out it shows they’re relaxing. I imitated the noise they make and off she went in a panic, further scaring herself as the tree branches made louder than normal scraping noises on my helmet. It was absolutely ridiculous (and I guess my relaxing pony snort imitations translate as “RUN, A BEAR IS ATTACKING”? lol) but it is typical of how she comes out some days. I’m all for fun horses, but the powder keg thing really isn’t may happy place…nor is the whole wondering if I need to shop for a bigger bit.  

Is looking good though. No one tell her this space is my future ring and not pasture I planted for her ;)


I’ve been getting her out doing anything and everything. This lack of confidence in her rider isn’t normal for her. Maybe something happened to scare her, maybe it’s me, maybe it’s just a stage. I don’t know, but I don’t think we can go wrong with some low key, positive hours together.  From short hacks to eat grass at our property around the corner, to trailering for proper schooling in an arena, to some (honestly atm not relaxing) trail rides. Miles, miles, and more miles. It will get back to the point where she remembers I am the most boring person she knows. There’s no point in offering me 120% and a pony party invite when I’m quite satisfied with 75% and a lot of boring walking on a long rein in the forest  ๐Ÿ™ˆ๐Ÿ˜ (It’s absolutely hilarious that me, as the most backwoods of riders, somehow ended up with a pony who really would prefer a princess life in a nice quiet indoor without any nature around to bother her.)

Spooking at the camera this time. It’s a big scary world out on that whole 1/2 acre alone.


I did hit the jackpot this long weekend and had the arena all to myself one sunny morning. I had the best ride I can remember and it really felt like all those little pieces of the puzzle I work on regularly are coming together. She felt like she was willing to give and relax a lot more and I could feel that a lot of the things I felt had regressed are actually improved, they have just been hidden with the recent tension she’s been carrying. It was nice to get more and more glimpses of the relaxed and happy pony I know is in there. It also made me contemplate how much is me, because with no one around to see I had no worries about being judged over her dramatics. Funny how no worries over dramatics = no dramatics :) 

Yes, I only took pictures for you once this week - one of the days I brought her “home” to graze. 




I’ve been wanting to start her over tiny courses, but she’s getting pretty excited just cantering or trotting single poles, so we’ll leave it a bit longer until it gets back to poles being boring and I have more brakes in the canter again. I don’t have any desire to add further fuel to the current fire and I also enjoy not being run off with, lol

On our upcoming calendar, we have lessons with an eventing clinician the first weekend of May. I had hoped to be comfortable with tiny courses by then, but we’ll see - we can always just do flat work (and that’s fine if that’s what we need, I’m promising myself not to rush it. )




In other news, I have a week’s vacation upcoming and pony property upgrades are once again in full swing. Hopefully I’ll have some blog worthy updates on the property again soon - I see all these tack hauls and event updates being posted, but I’m sorry,  I’m over here excited for my Home Depot haul and the barn water line install date and just spent $750 on a ton of hay. I will probably be just putting boring miles on the pony and pinching pennies for the foreseeable๐Ÿ™ˆ








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Wednesday, 6 April 2022

It’s ok

After our clinic, I gave Sophie a couple of days off just to let her have a little mental and physical break after what I’m sure was a busier couple of weeks than she’s used to. The grass I planted last fall at my ponies soon to be home is coming in like crazy, so I’ve been walking them over there for a leg stretch and hand grazing them in the evenings. Spoiled girls! It’s still very, very wet so it’s unlikely the machines will be back to do fencing and water lines in the next couple of weeks. On the flip side knowing there is going to be large machinery coming back and digging holes anyway,  I’m thinking of putting up temporary fencing and letting the girls trash the field just a little. I’ll seed and baby it again after the work is complete.

You all probably “know” me well enough by now to guess that of course I’ve been dwelling on my not so great ride at the clinic. Despite there being so many possible logical reasons it wasn’t the greatest day, of course my emotions win and me being terrible and never getting a handle on the anxiety when things aren’t right, therefore probably needing to just give up riding, tops the list as I fall asleep at night.

Redemption opportunities finally came Tuesday night. We had a break in the weather, the sun came out, the wind died down and it even felt a little warm. For once I was pretty up to date on work and didn’t feel guilty leaving a little early for a ride.

I was a little nervous to ride (what if it’s the same as Saturday? What if Sophie is a pro ride now? What if she’s realized I’m just not very good compared to trainer and is fed up with me?) Of course those are all dumb things to waste energy fussing over, but since when does my brain only listen to logic?  So, the goal was to just have a fun, minimal stress outing - as much for my own sake as for Sophie’s.

Not to worry, as soon as S casually hopped off the trailer, I knew I had my old pony back.  I had a super ride where she felt exactly as she always has, just a little better.


Me saying the canter feels way more bouncy and adjustable, media shows my standards are not high

 Totally rideable, “with me” as much as I’d expect from a younger horse, and generally agreeable and happy to be there. Lots to work on, to be sure, but with the communication lines open again the work feels fun rather than intimidating. 







 

I don’t know what kind of strange things were going on for that clinic (although I’m 100% sure my nerves weren’t helping). I’m just grateful for the ride I had last night. 




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Sunday, 3 April 2022

Outside My Comfort Zone

 Sophie’s back!


Feedback from the trainer and barn owners was super positive, very complimentary of her and the job I’ve done so far. Really nice to hear that - while I am well aware of my limitations and don’t have a ton of pride or things I need to prove (baby horses fix that right quick!) it of course matters greatly to me that I do right by my horses and for that reason I was holding a little anxiety around things.

 As is the way of the coast and adding to my current love/hate relationship with it, the ferries caused us humans some anxiety - reservations are fully booked forever and livestock doesn’t get priority anymore. So, we needed to get to the terminal 2 hours early to ensure we got the first free space and then cross our fingers hard we got on the sailing. I hate doing that to the horses, but Sophie was quiet as a mouse and patient. On the actual crossing we experienced some weather in the open part of the strait. It felt like a roller coaster - that moment of the floor falling away, then a big stop and boom as we hit the bottom of the next wave. Again, not ideal, but grateful the crew made the run and didn’t leave us stranded overnight or longer. Yesterday the weather was picking up further and today it’s a full on storm, so we did good to get them home when we did. Anyway,  Sophie was a champ - it made me wonder how much horses must tolerate simply riding around in the trailer if a boat ride like that was no big deal for her! 

Less than ideal scheduling meant we got home Friday night, then had a clinic Saturday.

The clinic experience was a bit “meh” from me. My full thoughts are still forming, but at it’s most basic, my horse did not feel like my horse anymore. I found that confidence denting and let anxiety take over a little and didn’t ride to the best of my ability. Also, it poured rain and the wind was freezing. Cold and wet T is grumpy and that may or may not affect my overall feelings about the day๐Ÿ˜

Sophie’s naturally a pretty forward, sensitive ride and runs a little on the hot and excitable side. I honestly prefer something a bit more steady, so I’ve encouraged her to to be a little quieter than she’d maybe want to be. We have a nice comfort zone where she’s forward but we agree it’s on my timeline and there is no need for her to worry or anticipate. 

When I hopped on and Sophie was literally vibrating with energy and shooting off my leg, I realized trainer does not ride in that way all all and probably enjoys a very high level of responsiveness and energy.

It was interesting in a way because it was reminiscent of an upper level dressage horse I used to ride…hot,  responsive to your every move, and bringing 110% effort to everything. The slightly terrifying (for me, at least!) difference with Sophie is that she’s not got years of training so I had all the big reactions but no solid place to direct it. I have a lack of confidence in letting her really go for it when her brain and body is working twice as fast as mine feels like it is.


Do you get any riding pics? No. The rain was torrential and understandably no one was standing around to volunteer pics in that! 

On the plus side, I did brave a canter and it felt fantastic and way more adjustable than it did. So, while I admittedly did not enjoy that quickness of her feet and mind in walk and trot, it improves the canter - it’s much neater and more uphill.

The nice thing about horses is that we all know it takes no time at all for them to adjust to their rider. I’m sure her anxiety levels (sadly, with the addition of all that forward, IMO the relaxation is now needing to be revisited) will go back down with a few more rides, but this has made me aware I could be asking for a little more, that a little more energy wouldn’t be a bad thing at this point. 

Side note, if you’re wondering…yes she was there to go trail riding and see the world for a couple of weeks, and yes, she did. I promised myself I’d trust the trainer, I’ve known him for years and he always does a fantastic job… but he probably felt like she was a little on the dull side while my current head space and riding ability begs to differ.





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Monday, 21 March 2022

Adventures

 I've been busy since I last updated! 

We took Sophie to Vancouver Island for her big adventure last Friday. She was excellent for the trip. It's only about 20 minutes of driving on each side but the ferry is a solid 1.5hr journey. If you add in the time loading/unloading on the ferry and waiting at the terminal the horses are on the trailer about 3 hours. She normally hauls well, but I still never quite take it for granted and am ready for the unexpected.

She went into heat/full mare-y mare mode when she arrived, but that's why she's there - it's very hard for us here to get out and do a lot of different things and pony finds new things exciting and distracting. There's one outdoor venue we trailer to, one indoor, and generally the same horse or two to see at each and a fairly quiet and predictable routine. For more anxious and busy minded ponies like Sophie I think a little more exposure to the outside world is a good thing. 

It sounds like cowboy trainer is happy to drag her along to some of the events he goes to, so she'll have practice tying the trailer in a busy place and going in a warm up arena. It sounds like an upcoming adventure might be to a barrel race night, which, honestly, I am happy isn't me. Mostly, though, she's there to hit the trails and generally just get more miles in the real world - I'm not expecting to get back a pony with better flatwork or anything like that, hopefully just one that's a little more confident in new situations and ready to get out to a couple of shows or bigger clinics or group trail rides this year without finding it too stressful.


I'm not sure when we're picking her up - maybe as soon as 2 weeks, maybe as long as a month. It just depends on schedules and how the trainer feels things are going. Let's hope Sophie's the same good girl there that she always is and processes all the new things in a really positive way.

Bridget has been having a really tough time with Sophie gone. I'm not sure how I'll ever wean a foal - I felt horrible when we pulled in the driveway that evening and Bridget realized Sophie was not with us. Days later, I pull in the driveway and she is still looking for the trailer and Sophie. She's not super dramatic about it, just her quiet Bridget self saying hi to me then wandering off to whinny towards the driveway or my truck to check I didn't bring Sophie. It almost makes me feel more guilty! B never makes friends or overly cares what other horses do, so I half assumed she'd be relieved to have a break from managing Sophie (who is just the biggest pest ever).

Trail riding with friends

I miss Sophie too, but there is a lot to be said for feeding and mucking out one pony - especially Bridget. With them being in the same paddock for so long now I forgot just how easy B is. My husband clocked how neat and tidy Bridget keeps things and is ready to sell Sophie, lol. It's become undeniably obvious the big mess of holes and trampled poo we were faced with every morning is entirely of Sophie's making, along with the random destruction of items and the frequent bonus poo in the water tub. 

B's off for her own adventure in a couple of months, but for now we're just going to enjoy a week or three of quiet evening trail rides. I want to hit the ground running with Sophie when she gets back to continue the outings and positive progression with her, so this feels a little like the calm before the storm.


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Friday, 11 March 2022

Daylight FTW

 Just a tiny celebration of the fact the days are now long enough to fit in decent rides after work!

The clocks change this weekend to give us another bonus hour so basically yay! daylight! now until November.

"All the better to see you with" says B, continually in search of the next morsel of food.

I already fit in 3 rides (soon to be 4) around work hours this week, and isn't that just the best thing?

I did sneak away a little early Wednesday afternoon to trailer to the arena, but we fit in a 1.5hr trail ride after work yesterday with zero worries about it getting too dark.

Look who goes by herself and chills at the trailer! I'd be lying if I said she's this good about it every day, but she's getting pretty good.

I've always liked slow trail riding over terrain as a non stressful method for getting ponies fitter. I have to say my body appreciated it this year as well. I guess I'm not young anymore, because the first rides back after a two and a half months off were rough despite regular gym, yoga and hiking keeping me otherwise active. Remind me of that next winter when I think I could take a riding break!

Sophie's had a couple of easy rides this week. I don't think she's ready to tackle the trails B and I have been frequenting (lots of bikes, people, loose dogs, part of it goes through a busy park and disc golf course and she's not the most confident trail horse) but I am hoping once she gets back from the island and has seen more of the world it's something we can start to do.

 For now, we've been sticking to our rides in the big outdoor arena, incorporating lots of big swoopy curves and changes of direction. I hit a bit of a snag this week where she got a bit fussy again in the contact and generally unwilling to go forward into it without either dragging me or sucking back and kicking at my leg (no happy medium, apparently)  but that's on me and my lack of  consistency this winter. Also, we don't turn left anymore....baby horse rides really do absolutely nothing for your self belief as a rider, lol.

Some fun portrait editing

It's coming, though. At a snail's pace, but it's coming. I messed up the Pivo videoing (not following me again AND in portrait mode - I will never remember that it doesn't save my previous settings, it seems) but the bits I did manage to view didn't look as bad as it felt and restored a little of my faith in my abilities.

Let me again overwhelm you with my excellent media

Anyway, it's time for me to leave for a ride. Enjoy your weekends!


T





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Sunday, 6 March 2022

Shape Up (And) Ship Out

  Sophie’s got her trail riding ‘vacation’ coming up in a couple of weeks (how is time moving so quickly again?) so the push is on to re civilize her and turn her back into a proper riding pony before she heads out. Cowboy guy is obviously well capable of dealing with a sassy pony, but I really would like her to be able to just go off on lots of trail adventures when she gets there rather than having to spend time in remedial pony school. 


It’s also that time of year when I start getting all the finalized show and clinic schedules and start feeling extra sad I don’t have a pony ready to go and that I live in such an isolated area with limited local opportunities.

This is all good though, it lights a bit more of a fire under me to out there and put the hours in. I’ve probably been far too careful, taking almost a month to get her back to the base level where we left off with in December, but as always I feel extra careful with Sophie given her still a little immature self. Plus there are the challenges I had this winter keeping weight and muscle on her that make me feel like I started at zero and want to be very aware of building correct muscle and fitness back.

Little blanket rubs I didn’t notice IRL showed up in this picture. We’ll take that as a positive in that she’s filled out enough to start to outgrow her blanket? 


Given the trail riding adventure we’ll miss the first dressage clinic of the year but we’re back to a monthly schedule now so there are a lot more lessons upcoming and I’m hoping to fit in an online dressage test before end of month.

My work has now started recalling people to work in the office so I’m going to be making a commute from hell a few times a month. I imagine I’ll eventually get tired of that, but for now this is horse related in a positive way. If I need to travel again anyway…can I can bring Sophie along for further lessons or show opportunities? 
B is getting fitter.


I’m an adult and the temptation to gallop across the soccer field is still strong 

Bridget this week has just been the same as always. We’ve been getting out trail riding a few times a week and she is getting fitter. She’s been so fun and full of energy that I had the momentary thought of putting her back into proper work, but her boarding and vet appts for breeding are booked for May, which is approaching very quickly. It’s time for Sophie to step up and take on the majority of my “serious” pony riding goals :)

It’s going to be fun to see what she can do this year. 



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Monday, 28 February 2022

Spring Fever

Friend S and I got out 3 times this past week for some trail riding, which we're chalking up as a big win given work, the still too short daylight, and the return of the monsoons. There's a figure eight type loop we can do right from her barn that's mostly on her property and completely away from any public roads. It takes about an hour and has a nice mix of terrain too - I'm feeling very spoiled!

Bridget continues to be absolutely ridiculously spicy - it's still hard to believe she used to be so quiet/dull. I still believe she must have just not liked life as a sport pony because she is definitely on the hot side and absolutely full of opinions since we moved 'home'. On one hand my supposedly well trained pony should be able to stand still and wait patiently,  on the other hand meh, she's done her time and I'll pick away at it if it persists -  for now I'm happy she's happy being No 1 Trail Pony.



Sophie started out the week excellently and devolved from there. I hate to blame it on hormones/being a mare - but maybe? We trailered to the club grounds yesterday and while there were plenty of the other horses there, she found one to be completely obsessed over to the point she could not think of anything else. Said horse was minding it's own business being longed and ridden on the other side of the arena. You know that noise horses that are strangers to each other make when they touch noses (and the striking and kicking)? S incorporated that into daily life for about half an hour, non stop. My ears! You can imagine her feelings when her new friend did not show any interest in her and left for home (Sophie: "without even whinnying goodbye!" lol). The other people in the area went to use the indoor (I wouldn't have wanted to share space with us either, honestly) which left us alone. Surprisingly that didn't trigger anything - it was just that one bay mare she could not reconcile living without. She's normally aware of what the other horses in the area are doing but not to the point of any prolonged distraction, or any drama at all, really. This was definitely an out of character reaction to that one horse.



So, a much longer longeing and groundwork session than I had planned, until I finally had her full cooperation. I felt kind of zen about it  - such is sometimes the way with younger horses, particularly ones who suddenly have an immediate urge to randomly scream, strike and kick at the air rather than just trot forward consistently.

 
Insert zen scenes from weekend hiking here

Previous me might have been worried about my horse not seeing me as an effective leader, etc, but I think the reality especially with young higher energy Sophies of the world is that it's give and take and there are still going to be days she finds harder than others to be a horse (and I ponder not owning horses)
Hiking is a great hobby ;)


I did get on eventually for a short ride, but pony was already so overdone she was a sweaty mess. No productive riding accomplished, more of a cool down. She did feel fantastic for the short ride I had and settled very quickly - perhaps I need to consider sucking it up, getting on, and giving her a job immediately next time. (Note to Universe: please no, lets just never revisit this weekend's drama)



We returned home to an unexpected welcoming committee -  Friend S's gelding had broken out and was trotting around the front yard looking for Sophie...so perhaps it is just spring. Bridget and S's other geldings were unconcerned so perhaps they haven't caught Spring Fever.




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