Tuesday 23 August 2022

Scaling Back And Preparing for Plan S

Despite my ever so careful program of bringing B back in work, she's again just the tiniest bit off. 

I thought I maybe felt something the weekend of the island clinic, which is why we just went for a hack the final day and she's had a couple of easy walking weeks since. I tried a lesson this week and yep -  once we trot on a small-ish circle to the left, the on/off super minor niggling thing is back.

She looks so good right now though!

This is not completely unexpected, it's another part of the reason she has been best trail pony for a couple of years now and I bought a baby Sophie. I've had a few vets check it out, and normally they say she's sound. At last check finally the vet saw what I was feeling, identified her left hock as the issue but it was so minor that we decided with her trail pony lifestyle it was appropriate to let it be and just keep an eye on it. 

At this point I can again revisit getting hock injections so I can add some regular jumping and harder work back in, or go back to our trail pony/occasional clinic/fun jump night lifestyle. 

I'm opting for trail pony lifestyle. I know hock injections and arthritis in teenaged ponies are completely normal things, but I have no solid plans competition wise for her, and she's probably going back for breeding next spring (I need to update you on that, don't I?). So, I think scaling the workload back again is the solid choice. If she's still comfortable and loving her trail rides I'm happy enough to accommodate that, as always she owes me absolutely nothing. 

Weekend trail walking with B

Next up, I think we're well overdue for a Sophie update?

Prior to this week I was quite content doing all the things with B and had plans of just leaving Sophie out at the farm to enjoy pasture time in the herd until our little place was a little more set up. But, with it looking like B would still be happier not being the main riding pony, it looks as if it's time for S to come back to work. I'll start fast tracking some of the outstanding things I need to do to get things ready for her.

I think I've been pretty transparent in that as much as I like S, the jury is still out on whether she's here forever. There is zero rush to make any decisions regarding her, and in fact I won't be making any until her training is a bit further along and I have a more solid idea what she's going to want to do and how she's maturing. Also, whether she's going to suit being a backyard pony or would be better in a bigger place with more turnout and amenities. So, that's my winter project. I have a week long boot camp set up at EC's in late September which will hopefully give us a good start in the right direction.

My heart of course wants to keep her, my brain says it's not the perfect fit, but then is any horse the perfect fit? Is there even a perfect fit out there? *looks at Welsh Cob ads, sees nothing with an obvious halo in my budget*. And around and around I go ;)

I kind of sabotaged myself with this unexpected summer of Bridget riding, because of course now I've fallen in love all over again and can't imagine any pony being good enough to fill her shoes. I'm not being as open minded as I should be re: other horses and that's super unfair to Sophie who is so wonderful in her own right. I can totally relate to the kids who outgrow their pony but fight moving on and riding anything else despite being super lucky to have the option.

But, give it a few months, and if I know myself at all it's quite likely I'll be sitting here telling you how great Sophie is and how I can't imagine any other pony being my main riding pony :)


Saturday 20 August 2022

Easy Noteboard DIY

 I think every barn needs some form of whiteboard/chalkboard/noteboard. I know there are tons of handy apps and tech friendly ways to organize and share things, but I guess I’m just old and still just wanted a place to write things down. 

I wasn’t just finding a lot out there that 1. was big enough for a wall  2. sturdy enough for a barn 3. fit my ultra cheap spending habits.

So I made one. 

Here are your instructions:

1. Find an old glass window
2. Paint the back side of the glass (or don’t - depending on the look you want/effort you feel like expending)
3. Hang it in the barn

Mine works perfectly with dry erase markers or chalkboard markers.

I could have tried harder and made it fancy, but I had blue paint and a big old red window from the house. And that’s as far as I got with that ;)

Final caveat: it’s still a glass window in a barn. It’s hanging in my feed room, away from destructive ponies.

Thursday 18 August 2022

Feeling Grateful

 This one's going to be short and sweet. It's been a bit of a trying week, but also I have so many good things to appreciate this week it felt like something worth putting out to the universe. I should set something like this to post as a weekly reminder, actually, it's so easy to get bogged down in the details and not see all the happy things.

1. This. The barn is ready for ponies! Pinch me, how many years in the making has having B 'at home' been? Tentative plans for Sophie to join her beginning of Sept.

Get used to this view, you'll be seeing a lot of it :)

2. This desk (which I need to finish assembling tonight). A friend gifted it to us and it's from the days of needing desk space for reviewing blueprints and surveys...which is perfect because in 2022 I'm one of the remaining few that still need space to roll out paper copies of such things. It's also got a super cool local history and I'm just plain grateful it made it's way to me after almost 100 years.

3. My old truck...she needs work to see the road again, but there she is, still mine. There was a time I wanted to sell it, but grateful to G for arranging to store it all these years...20 years later here I am ready to add it back to the project list (once the property is done, obviously, lol....don't be expecting miracles!). It'll look good hooked up to my trailer, no? Less grateful re: the truck itself existing and more that G has always known me well enough to know I'd regret selling it one day.


Sunday 14 August 2022

Summer Barn Updates

I’ve been beating myself up for the minimal barn progress that I feel like I’ve been making this summer. In all fairness though, it’s a bit hard to be your own contractor when you also have a full time job, get Covid, still want to ride and take a vacation…etc etc :)

Looking around this morning though, I think there has been progress worth documenting. An hour here or there tacked on to regular pony chores eventually had to add up! 

A short list of July/Aug barn improvements:

- WATER! In the spirit of DIY, I learned how to be a plumber in the beginning of July. Or at least enough of one to tie into an existing tee we put in when we had the house water service redone a few years back. It ended up being a 200’ run to the barn and despite renting a little machine, I used two work vacation days on raking and shoveling. Also on a 100 year old house there are many old pipes in the ground and we may have initially dug up and identified the wrong tee ;) But I have water! At the barn! 

Hydrant at the fence line and one at the barn. No more garden hoses required!

- Barn interior renos. Remove all the nasty chicken coop mess and garbage a tenant I’ll now hate forever installed in the barn (so gross! So many truckloads of wire and old junk to the dump) New gravel base installed, new plywood on bottom of walls, barn is pony safe once more.

I should have taken a before picture, but it was so awful and discouraging to see it so trashed. Imagine someone put used boards, pallets, and wire covering the whole interior and never cleaned up anything from the chickens and you might get close to how gross and un horse friendly it was. It took days to get all the nails and wire off and 4+ truck loads of junk to the dump.

- Barn exterior upgrades. Built and installed a gate on back of barn so I can leave the doors open in nice weather. Installed a new post supporting the front roof. The old one was compromised and someone’s fat itchy bum *cough Bridget cough* really did a number on it. Replacing posts is going to be ongoing, but for now I can check the urgent ones off as done.

Back of the barn. I really like how this turned out, now I can slide the big doors open in the morning and ponies can have a room with a view.

Front of barn featuring a new centre post :)

Front of barn. Stall doors on left, feed/tack straight ahead. It used to be two 10x10 stalls, but now it’s just one big one with the two doors and I’m liking it that way.

To make myself feel better re: my progress, here’s a back of barn before pic May 2021. Things have definitely changed! 

Front of barn before. When it’s all really done I’ll have to recreate these picture angles exactly, there’s a new fence line and paddock here now and some nice rose bushes and a garden in front of the barn on the right side.

Front of barn before

- Yard cleanup. All the old construction waste from demolishing tenants old creations over the winter finally went to the dump and the whole place is rider lawnmower/Bridget friendly at last.

Perfect for napping and eating now

This was maybe 1/4 of the brush and construction waste we took away.

- Poles painted, jump standards ready. What can I say, this was so low priority, but I needed something easy to do when I was feeling like garbage. I now have a set of jumps ready and waiting.


- Rubber mats installed in barn (soon). Person bought a house locally and found them in the backyard and didn’t know what they were for but they’re actually the proper stall mats and they’re new! So of course I bought them :)

- Manure bin (soon)

- Drainage for ring installed. Existing ditches piped and filled (Sept) 

- Shelter/tractor storage build in spare paddock (Oct/Nov)

- Continued perimeter fencing (Ongoing)

- Extend roof on barn for grooming area (Oct/Nov)

- Arena base added (October -ish) 

I feel like this is the cheapest and slowest barn reno ever, but I suspect there are more than a few of us out there not wanting to spend a fortune and trying to fit such projects in around a real job. I can’t be alone in this! 


Tuesday 9 August 2022

Making up for lost time

 I feel like I fit the entire spring and summer calendar of events I missed into last week’s vacation.

I’m not sure I have the words to adequately recap everything we got up to. I’m sunburned, exhausted, and have a mountain of laundry and tack to clean…the hallmarks of any good horsey get away? 

If you haven’t been following along lately, some friends and I got a somewhat last minute idea to pack up our ponies for a week and venture to Hi Point Guest Ranch on Vancouver Island. Check out the link if you're interested in pictures of the facilities, since I didn't think to take any! 

Lake Bridget also came out of retirement and attended

Since my spring and summer went completely off the rails, Bridget got drafted for the job. I worked hard the last month or so to get her back to a level of fitness where bringing her wouldn’t be unfair.

The horses and humans all travelled well and on arrival we were pleasantly surprised that the farm was even nicer than advertised. We had a choice of paddocks or stalls next to the gorgeous indoor arena, and us humans got lakeside camping with bonuses like a refrigerator, dock and power outlets available to share. There's even a nice little cross country course spread over a few of the fields and hay sales right on site. Not really roughing it at all :)

Morning view from my tent site. 

Day 1 was spent on a nice trail ride and some floating in the little lake. The trail system was awesome. I would go back just for that alone, you could easily ride all day and the property connects directly to the Trans Canada Trail.

Trans Canada Trail is like so, but there were plenty of more technical options up into the mountains from here that we barely explored.

But, the real reason we were there was for lessons!

Day 2 B and I had our first dressage lesson in….years? And it was super exciting. B showed up ready to work and tried so hard. I’ve had a couple of long standing things I’ve never really solved (a minor pony head tilt going to the left being one) despite lots of great advice, but the clinician zoned in on that immediately and gave me tools that also worked almost immediately. She hopped on and had some fantastic feedback for me as well. My favourite part being that B feels 100% fine to her physically, and none of the “problems” I’m feeling are anything I should worry over, it’s just fitness and training from here on out :) Then since it was hot, I hosed B off and lounged in the lake the rest of the day.

*would I even be me if I didn't take 10000 pictures of my friends and their ponies, but request zero of myself and Bridget? After all these years, I'm still a terrible blogger and you get no pictures of my dressage lessons.

Day 3 was another dressage lesson first thing in the morning. The clinician challenged us to a bit of basic lateral work and some back and forth in the trot and canter…I liked that she was respectful of wanting to keep it fun but also not work pony too hard. The buttons are still there and super responsive, the execution was rusty and could use some refinement lol. In all seriousness I was really pleased with the little potato, we’re both wobbly and unfit but she’s still game to show off her moves. In the evening once it cooled down I took B to the cross country course and popped some logs and just had fun. It’s been a long time!

Oh hi, here we are doing something!

Day 4 there was a xc clinic, but in keeping with respecting B’s current fitness we did working equitation instead and had a great time. It’s not something that particularly interests me, but I can see the attraction, it’s very much dressage and trail challenge all in one. B had ants in her pants either because the course was set up on the xc course or because she really liked it. Not sure, but we had lots of fun navigating the patterns and obstacles and even got to pretend to be the real deal by spearing rings off a fake bull. B was 0% phased by any of it and already familiar with the natural obstacles due to previous xc and trail experience. She seemed to pick up the objective of the new to her things quite quickly. I think she might have found her calling! Honestly everyone we met was super nice and fun too - really I am not seeing any negatives to this sport and almost feel like I should give it a chance to grow on me and go to another clinic or two.

B and her angry bull spearing face

Day 5 the temps just kept increasing and it was super hot. I was also expecting to have a tired pony so didn’t schedule anything formally. The other ladies had another clinic day and I planned to give B a quiet hack. But since she was still spicy and on a mission on the shady trails our proposed leg stretching hack turned into a 10km expedition on the nearby rail trail. Apparently there is an amazing trestle bridge at 20km, so something to plan for next time (because there will be a next time!) 

Day 6 was sadly our last day and with the ponies needing to be on the trailer 5+ hours to get home B and I both just enjoyed a bit of a quiet morning and I had a last swim in our little lake.

All in all, it was a really nice blend of riding and learning, plus some much needed downtime with horsey friends. We’re planning to make it an annual thing and I already have so many things I want to do next year.

Like making it to this bridge...we got half way and turned around since it was so hot out - it didn't seem fair to the horses to add another 10k to the outing. Photo borrowed from here

I’m glad as well that I ended up taking B this year, I’ve been feeling quite lost as to a plan or direction with both ponies and this week really helped solidify a lot of decisions I’ve been waffling over and eased some of my worries. More on that later (and no, this is not a cliffhanger with any exciting life altering announcement pending, just a future blog coming with some thoughts on future things to aim for with the girls)