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 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 :)


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  🙈😁 (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 foreseeable🙈



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. 


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 day😁

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.