Monday 28 November 2022

Staying Consistent

 Yet another weekly recap. This week the weather was less than kind (so much rain!)  but we kept on keepin' on, quietly regaining fitness and saddle time and I'm proud of that. The local horsey calendar still has events pencilled in, but I’ve just been keeping to myself and trying to quietly get things done and not add any timelines or pressure to my days off work. I will get back to clinics and lessons at some point, but I feel like keeping it relaxed and fun is right where Sophie and I both need to be right now.

Currently sporting a nice scrape on her forehead, I’m sure resulting from a questionable decision regarding Bridget

Monday: I got so much done after work! Feed store trip, ring tidied and harrowed (in the dark, I'm sure confirming to the neighbours I am totally nuts). We do still need the entire thing to compact so the master plan behind all the late night harrowing and leveling is that heavy rain is in the forecast for the next few days, and that will help everything settle and compact further. Since I didn't get a ride in, I was feeling a bit twitchy for my horse fix and watched some super videos from Dr Jenny Susser on Equestrian Masterclass, followed by a Nicola Phillappaerts barn tour/interview on H&C TV.

Tuesday: Waterproof coats are on my mind as my Black Friday splurge. It poured rain all morning and was grey and damp for the remainder...west coast winter at it's finest and I feel like I haven’t been warm in weeks. 

Bridget and I will have matchy rain coats now 🙈😁

I got in a ride on Sophie, but not the kind I want to focus on too much (someone was buzzing us with a drone and she was terrified and bolt-y). We found a relaxed place to end, and we move on to a new day. 

Wednesday:  A short work week, so today is my Friday and I've got a 4 day weekend to look forward to. Ran out of time to ride, but it’s OK, was nice to have a quiet night with a good book and time to cook a nice dinner.

Thursday: Rented one of those magnet thingys that you can roll around. Seems the “don’t burn anything with metal attached” message was taken as optional because I found a ton of old burnt rusty hardware. To be fair, some of it is likely from days long past, but still, doesn’t make it any less dangerous to pony hooves. Highly recommend putting on the to do list for any of you with properties or paddocks that predate your ownership (or have had recent construction/excavation done) - you never know what you’re going to find!

A lot of random bits of metal, and way too many nails

An averagely OK ride on Sophie to follow. She was feeling the hormones again, plus the neighbours were trying to put the worlds largest tarp on their roof on a stormy day. Even I found it a bit distracting and startling when it kept blowing away from them and sliding off the roof. The joys of keeping ponies in a residential neighbourhood though - they’re used to a lot more chaos on the daily than a typical farm. 

Friday: My new coat arrived and I love it and it’s way too pretty to wear to the barn. So much for saving money, I’ll keep the pretty blue one for real life and order another in Bridget Nose Smear Brown for barn duties and riding. 

Website says color is actually “Sparrow Grey”?

My other barn/horse related activities were: 1. A trip to the dump to get rid of some more property cleanup items and old fencing! Yay, satisfying. 2. A trip to the quarry to order rock. I’ve opted to go that route with the ring perimeter, had thought about the traditional landscape ties or wooden boards but they just don’t last that long in our climate.

Sophie was 13.2hh at 3. I need to measure but I think at 6 she’s grown even more since the last 15hh measurement. Late bloomer for sure, and making B look positively short these days.

Saturday: A more serious storm rolling in, so I wanted to get a ride in for sure in case Sunday was a washout. Sophie was again very sharp and spooky, and I got a little frustrated with it. Spooky horses are not my thing…like OK if they’re legitimately scared of something, we can work on that, but Sophie in my opinion does cross over into looking for ghosts as a reason to initiate play time and dance to her own tune ;) Anyway,  I recognized I needed a time out so sat there talking to G about how some days I struggle to stay positive and patient and keep her focused. That time out was really all we needed, because when I picked up the reins to continue we were both ready to get to work. I ended up having an excellent ride. 

Sees dead people. Also needs hair help.

Sunday: Storm passed overnight, but snow is now in the forecast. Not a big deal for most of the country, but not super common here. Spent a bit of time setting things up in case we get the higher end of the projected snowfall, then went for a hike. Felt super lazy after so did not return to the barn in time to ride. (Which is fine. I think it worked out to four 20-30 min rides and a quick longe this week and that’s great for where we’re both at fitness wise) 

I’ve been adding bits of canter in on the longe so provided Sophie continues to have no issues with the current footing situation and the snow stays away, that’s on our riding schedule this coming week. At ~ 3 weeks back at it, just getting back to an easy W/T/C ride probably sounds pretty cautious but it’s right about where the textbooks say we should be as far as bringing back a younger horse without any baseline of under saddle fitness left. 

November ended up being pretty relaxed and I definitely stuck with my goal of getting Sophie going again. December, however, is going to be a lot more intense. We’re moving to the house on the property with the horses and renting out the one we currently live in, so home renovations x2 are imminent plus a move, holiday obligations, and of course work. I’m committing to keeping riding and bringing Sophie along a priority though! Plus the end result is going to be so worth all the chaos of the past year…stepping out into the backyard to ride or see the ponies any time I feel like it is going to be so wonderful! 

Bridget doing her part by working hard tidying up around the barn.


Tuesday 22 November 2022

Dear Diary

 The week in the life format is working for me at the moment, so I’m continuing it for another weekly recap. I present to you daily status updates, old school style via the blog-o-sphere:

Monday:  It's getting dark by 5pm. As much as I'm ready for a vacation I'm very grateful to have a somewhat flexible work schedule and be off by 3:30 most days I work at home. 90 minutes is still a bit tight for the likes of me to do up feeds, ride, groom and fit an afternoon paddock tidy in, so this thing has been a lifesaver:

LED light, rechargeable via USB. They're everywhere right now. I got mine last year on amazon for $20 and would recommend

Time for a ride!

Tuesday: Have been watching Training The Spooky or Anxious Horse on Equestrian Masterclass and trying to be more conscious of setting everything up as a 'yes' answer and evaluating what pony I have in the day/hour/moment. I think one of my strengths is being positive and patient and setting up little wins for the horses, but Sophie can be very inconsistent and some days I get it wrong. Monday she was as happy as could be, today she was fussy and mare-y (she's in heat) so I added on a little (15min) hack around the block thinking that would be a nice way to stretch her legs without many strings attached. Things got over the top when we were just about home and she couldn’t be away from B one moment longer.  Her brain returned to reasonable levels when I simply rode past the gate and kept going. When we finally came home, she got to do a few transitions in the ring (calmly, positively, work is not a punishment) so it wasn't an immediate home = Bridget, dinner, reward situation. She was fine and we ended on a good note, but this was one of those days we needed to quit earlier for the win or respect that she's feeling the hormones and not ask too much.

Still cute tho!

Wednesday: Just a little groundwork/ light longe check in day. I'm conscious that she's not riding fit so riding is not an every day thing.

Thursday: Work travel day so ponies have a day off - I'm out the door at 5:30AM and not home until somewhere around 9:30PM

Friday: No work for me today!  Knew Sophie would be a little wild, given she didn’t get out of her paddock Thursday. Wanted to give her something to think about rather than her just zoning out and zooming around, so what better day to introduce little jumps? Starting on the longe makes a lot more sense because I’m no pro and pony needs to figure out her own body anyway. Fun morning, despite doing all the green pony moves and looking less than inspiring in some moments. I think she could make a cute jumper some day, she’s naturally wanting to be quite careful and was enjoying herself immensely. I’ll stick to dressage goals but in my ideal world she’d be game for a little combined training or xc outing now and then.

 Cute pony enjoys trying a new thing

Saturday: For some reason I thought yesterday was Black Friday so I was all ready this morning with my shopping list. Then I realized 1. It’s not till next week. 2. The couple of horsey items on my list are sold out already anyway. The waterproof riding coat I was coveting will wait. 

Sophie: “Speaking of rain coats, mine is really annoying and the sun is coming out. Take it off me and let’s go do something”
Me: “OK!”

After a week of walking, time to add little trot sets back in. It’s been a while and I totally cherry picked the non llama photo.

Sunday: A quick ride, and a recap of square corners and moving shoulders over. S came to overachieve  and interpreted any leg as “forward” and wanting to leap off,  so it wasn’t the best ride, but also it was fine and we ended on the same page. We’re still walking a lot for fitness, and I’m finding it’s having the pleasant side effect of keeping her quietly thinking. Speeding up her feet speeds up her brain too, and she can quite easily get into flight mode where she’s moving and no longer thinking.  In the future I think it might be valuable to keep a flatwork ride every week or two that’s mostly in walk, just suppling and stretching and checking buttons.

Is pro level at posing for photos these days

I overachieved by cleaning tack. It was long overdue.

Your weekly Bridget proof of life. She’s not been up to much, but I wouldn’t want her to feel left out! 


Thursday 17 November 2022

10+ Questions

 I haven’t seen any of these floating around for a bit and it's that time of the year, so maybe we’re due? 

1. What’s your favorite thing about your current horse?

   Bridget: Ridiculously full of pony tude and opinions, but so kind and steady underneath it all.

   Sophie: Full of life, extremely sociable, wants to work with you

2. What do you find to be the most challenging thing about your current horse?

   Bridget: Keeping her at a reasonable weight. Also, when she says no the answer is no and it’s final.        The default is normally trending towards an automatic no, so I’ve learned a lot about breaking things      into tiny pieces and thinking outside the box to keep her motivated and happy.

   Sophie: Keeping her focused and confident.

B simply would like to be a feral Welsh Cob living in the mountains somewhere, eating and doing what she wants, when she wants :)

3. If you could only hire one person to help you, would it be with coaching, riding/training, or barn work?

   Coaching, all day long. I enjoy feeding and mucking and I’ve got time to ride again. 

4. What’s Something You Want to Learn or Wish You Were Better At?

   I need to keep on top of my mindset and wish I was better at that. I go through phases where I lack  confidence and/or allow outside influence to affect my enjoyment of riding.

5. Shout out to your support crew. Who are they?

   I’m lucky to have a long term mentor in my old coach EC, and also have an excellent resource in the clinicians who travel here. My husband is number 1 though, especially since he retired he’s been getting pretty in to pony property renos (and poo picking) and he’s embarrassingly proud of the ponies and I for even our tiniest wins.

6. Favourite book, website, podcast, or other equine resource?

   I have so many books, but lately given my remote location I’m coming back to online subscription services where I can pick a lesson plan or topic to work on and follow along. Equestrian Masterclass is a current favourite, but Horse and Country TV, RideIQ, have all been well worth the subscription cost (I tend to just sign up for one or two a month at a time and kind of cycle through renewing and cancelling as I need to - I can’t justify the cost all of them at once, nor would I have the time to utilize all the available content)

7. If money was no object, what would you do all day?

 I’m the type of person who likes having a job, so I’d keep one but probably be leaning more towards volunteering for something. I actually wouldn’t have any big changes as far as ponies or real estate or fancy cars, but I’d certainly spend more time and money travelling for coaching and clinics/camps/shows, maybe winters somewhere warm?

Whatever my job, I'd have time to ride in daylight, because this is dumb. Actually would unlimited money buy us all the end of daylight savings time?

8. Because this is real world and horses are expensive, have you ever had a side hustle or considered having one?

I worked as a barn manager for a therapeutic riding place for a while, plus pretty much everywhere I boarded I traded work for board discounts. These days I’m the opposite and a lot more work/life balanced,  I just work 4 days a week at my real job and leave it at that. 

9. What’s the best horsey decision you’ve ever made?

Taking an IT industry job away from home, based on proximity to a trainer/barn I wanted to train with. I treated it like “horsey university” and all my spare time and dollars went to riding, learning, and related goals. That’s obviously not sustainable long term, but I checked a lot off my personal bucket list and think it was a smarter move (for me, at least) than doing a working student gig. 

10. Worst decision?

Moving home? Only partly kidding, despite all the fantastic people here. It’s not the ideal location for equine endeavors. I can’t answer this question without mentioning one pre blog horse that I’ll forever regret selling…he was a little QH I rescued as a foal. In no way did he check any of the boxes for what I ‘needed’ then or now, but he was just the most fantastic little guy and I wish I had found a way to make keeping him for life happen. I bumped into a GP dressage rider years later and the first thing she asked me was whether I still had that horse because she still remembers hopping on him as one of the most fun times on a horse she’s had. Me too! Too bad I didn’t recognize how rare that feeling is at the time (or realize that fun counts way more than style or ability)

We can’t leave it on that downer, so bonus question:

11. What’s the best thing that happened to you or that you accomplished in 2022?

Moving the ponies home. It's been years since I've had them at my own place and been able to make all the decisions. While I do prefer boarding in many ways, where we live currently it's a better fit for me to have them at home.


Monday 14 November 2022

Thoughts for the past week

 Monday - It snowed a little overnight!  Felt like we went from summer to rain to freezing winter in a couple of weeks and a look at the calendar tells me I'm not wrong. Ponies are just in rainsheets, but are unclipped and seem fine. Ordered Sophie a new blanket anyway because shes a princess. Hopped on Sophie for the first time in months and did not die. Felt like I might but told myself I was being silly and she's fine. Once I untacked her she ran around pulling rodeo moves, so trust your gut - and thanks for saving it for later, Sophie.

Learned my lesson and just longed on Tuesday (although pic is from Wednesday…I might not be a fashion icon but I do put on clean clothes each morning ;)

Tuesday - Rain, so cold. Was supposed to finish a gate for the property on my lunch break but brought the wrong drill bit home with me. Felt dumb, watched horse videos on youtube instead and pondered life with a career change. Am ruling out youtube influencing and/or professional horse person as options ;) Didn't get to the horses til 5 and it's the time of year where that means it's nearly dark. Longed Sophie, then organized hay and feed. Had a mini panic attack over amount I've gone through. It's costing about $500 a month just to feed two ponies local hay, a ration balancer, and a bit of alfalfa cubes (last year I budgeted $250). I'm wondering if the sky high feed prices will hold, or go back down again.

Wednesday - How much money have I wasted on nice things when I just end up dressing myself in whatever is comfortable or using whatever blanket or saddle pad is closest? I think I like the idea of looking put together but the reality is it only happens by accident. Note to self: Stop buying nice riding apparel, I promise you're not going to bother to change out of your Old Navy leggings and the stretched out T shirt you worked from home in today.

Glad you’re not here for the fashion. My top tip, just buy it in blues, greys or black then whatever you put on at least has a higher chance of matching (although I do have the odd day I’m accidentally a blueberry/Violet Beauregarde)

Thursday - Took a much needed day off work and did all things barn cleanup related. My house is a disaster, but I get twitchy when the barn/property is untidy…you can imagine the angst I’ve been feeling as everything is a work in progress and we’ve got burn piles and stock piles of construction material still cluttering things. Been feeling a bit meh about clinics, etc lately so I’m trialing a couple of different subscription services and taking in knowledge at my own pace. I’ll let you know how it goes. (I have RideIQ, Miri Hackett’s patreon, and Noelle Floyd masterclasses atm)

Friday - Remembrance Day holiday. I feel guilty for doing fun things or scheduling necessary tasks on these long weekends we get for memorial holidays. Normally it's a grim, rainy day, but the sun was out and the day was beautiful, so after paying my respects I went to the barn and had a nice ride and felt grateful to live where I do.

Sophie enjoying some afternoon sunshine

Set this up later in the day. Poles to keep her thinking more about where her feet are and less about zooming off into the distance. Still pinching myself that I can ride at home and do stuff like this. 

Saturday - Sophie’s been incredibly annoyed by the girth on my jump saddle. At first I thought it was because she’s just not had a long girth on before (previous was a mono flap using a short girth), but it persisted. So, back we go to the dressage saddle/girth that in theory does not currently fit her as well. Instant happy pony, really good ride and all the anxiety was gone. Now, to find a rainsheet she’ll tolerate. She’s very annoyed by things touching her in certain places. Blankets with less obtrusive hardware on the front generally seem to meet approval. I have a sheepskin girth liner on order to see if that helps the jump saddle issue, but I almost think it’s the buckle location she objects to. Ponies! 

Bridget proof of life ;) She’s had a good week too - two easy rides just to keep her moving and a lot of grazing time.

Sunday - One week back in work and 4 short rides for Sophie and she’s been a good girl. Thanks to rock crunching pony feet, riding on the arena base is totally a non issue. Obviously without the cushion of footing we’re not going to get up to anything that’s going to pound on her joints repetitively. I will speed up completion of the ring if it starts to be too much of a hindrance (I’m still on the plan of trying to let it settle over winter before adding footing in spring, but we could hire a compactor any time to hurry it along) . For now though, it’s working great. I love it, and I’m super happy to be back riding Sophie. It’s a different feeling riding at home, so much more relaxed in all aspects. Just hop on and ride whenever I want and do whatever I want!


Monday 7 November 2022

Insert Title Here

 I've got nothing as far as a title this morning. I hereby present you with a bunch of pictures with captions. 

It's definitely a more pictures, less words kind of morning:

The grass I planted is growing

Sophie's been feeling good!

Sophie's started back with a bit of ground work this week. This is her sad face when asked to 'park'. Standing by herself is the hardest thing ever, but I think one of the things we can practice  that's good for her confidence/ability to think for herself

I planted more hedging

Oh look, the grass I planted over here is growing too :) I asked for a big rock by the ring to use as a mounting block. Machine operator took me seriously and put it upright instead of on it's side as I expected, but sadly it is actually kind of a perfect height for 5'1" me.

I could have written a blog post about how ridiculously territorial and grumpy B has been. But meh, I'm tired of it, we're all tired of it. I think she's even tired of it.  I try to give her a little bit of understanding - it's not like she hasn't told us as best she can she'd rather have the place to herself. One of the things she's most angry about is Sophie being in 'her' house at night. So I've started letting B in during the day. I think you can see she approves of that.

All that's left of a giant pile of brush from land clearing

Queen B surveying her kingdom.

Sophie getting better at parking

But also this moment where she is like "saddle?! what are you?!" It's been a while, Sophie!

But genuinely happy to have diversions. B is not being a very good friend to her and she's a highly sociable pony, so she's very excited when us humans are around to hang out and scratch her ears.

I need to video when I call her to bring her in or out. It's a Disney moment complete with whinnying and cantering up to me.

I have been back riding B, just to get my riding legs back after 6 weeks or so out of the saddle. She's generally in quite a grumbly mood since S came back and that carries over to under saddle. Long time readers will remember the antisocial B who would prefer to just be left alone by the world. She's back, now with a fun added foot stomp when she's displeased  lol.


Wednesday 2 November 2022

Fireworks and Horses

 Halloween caught me by surprise. I had thought the horses would be fine because they're pretty used to all the things these days, but a nearby friend messaged me that it was crazy up there. It's a semi residential neighborhood, and I suddenly remembered it was the place to be on Halloween night when I was a teenager. But surely that had changed? So, off we went for a late night check and  she was right, absolute mayhem with people running around and fireworks going off everywhere. I'm not even sure I can describe how intense it was.   As you drove into the neighborhood there was a dense fog of gunpowder smoke. There looked to be a party in the vacant lot behind our place and the fireworks were insane, not the 'off in the distance' booms and bangs they're used to. These were the serious ones you'd normally see professionally done at a big event. They were going off in multiples for an hour, maybe 300' away from the horses. 

As a non horse/pet owner, I'd be totally into that. As a Sophie owner, it was hard. As a Bridget owner, it didn't even register. Seriously, Bridget stood there eating her hay totally ignoring the fireworks raining down. I'm not even sure I can describe how intense it was. She was standing there in a gunpowder fog with the debris falling around, totally chill. Can we legit say she's bombproof now?

I'm proud of Sophie for handling it as well as she did. And grateful for Bridget quietly standing there eating and offering moral support to her. But also...she didn't handle it well enough for me to want to repeat the experience, or feel like I didn't get a bit lucky she didn't colic or hurt herself. I showed up just as she was trying to scale the stall door, but she luckily calmed down quite a bit with us there.

For futures, the internet tells me:

- Keep horses inside

- Leave lights on to lessen the flashes

- Music on to drown out the sounds

- Chat with neighbors (this one I am a bit reluctant to do, they've been really good to me and I'd like for them to be able to have a party once a year without feeling like they need to coordinate it with me/ feel guilty about my horses)

-Consider sedatives.

I could also just move them elsewhere for the days around Halloween. 

The amusing end to the story (at least to me, and I can't put into words why I find this hilarious) is the last city bus of the night went by around 10:30, piled full of kids in costumes on their way home. And, almost instantly, there was quiet.

Blog readers, any advice? 


Tuesday 1 November 2022

Weekend Updates

While I love property and home improvement type stuff, I'm sincerely hoping this will be the last update on that topic for a little while. Time for a break, and time to bring on the riding updates! (Please!) 

Sophie making the best of the horrible weather by getting highlights and brows done.

Because I finally (FINALLY) got the back fence completed and now I can sleep at night without worrying the girls will go for an adventure off property. Their paddocks are obviously well fenced, and I did have a secondary line of defense in the form of a temporary electric fence, but feels a lot better having a proper perimeter fence around the property.


Plus gates

Equals peace of mind

I've also been keeping a secret: we're moving in to the house on site, so the ponies really will be in my backyard again. That's going to mean some upcoming renovations and changes to both that house and the one we're currently living in, but I'm not going to think too hard on that. And of course the horses still have some big pending projects (a second pony shelter, a tack room in the barn, wire mesh on the back fence) but none of those feel like they have the urgency attached like the other projects we've completed this fall. I'll pick away at the shelter as I have time and the tack room and future grooming area will be nice to have, but my trailer works just fine at the moment for tack and the trees by the barn are big enough to tie and groom at. 

Anyway. I feel like I've got a few months now to take a breather and just ride my horses, which I plan to take full advantage of.