Thursday 28 December 2023

Year End Check In

 I was pondering a full year in review type post, but you’ve all been so supportive, invested, and encouraging through the last roller coaster of a year that it feels kind of unnecessary to write out a full recap. It feels like there was a virtual barn family who were all right there with me, and for that I’m both humbled and appreciative.

To wrap up the year, I’m feeling so much better. Back surgery will still be a thing at some point in this lifetime, but everything has stabilized so surprisingly nicely on its own that it’s no longer an emergency. Currently any pain or mobility issues are minimal, even with me being back to normal riding and activity levels.

Sophie also feels great. There’s the odd day that keeps me buying those ulcer supplements, but she’s happy and healthy and so much easier to keep weight on. She’s way less anxious. I miss Bridget, but their intense attachment was doing Sophie no favours. 

Bridget is of course doing well, I saw over the holidays that Santa visited her in her lease home and brought her Christmas presents, something that never happened here ;)

Buck and Reggie - zero regrets over bringing the both of them home. They play non stop and I can’t imagine the struggle that would have been trying to keep just one that entertained and busy all day. They couldn’t be more different from each other, either, which is wonderful - it balances things nicely. 

The house and property: we made huge progress there this year, but there’s a lot more to be done. I can’t check moving in off my list quite yet, but the ponies are of course all nicely settled and I’m really enjoying having them “home”. The next big horse related project is to finish the riding arena, which I’m very excited for.

See you in 2024!



Thursday 21 December 2023

Welcome to the raincoast

 It's rained a fair bit more since my last update and we're at a really depressing place where I have zero turnout because the ground is oversaturated and most everything is under standing water. This is the first year I've ever seen it this bad, which is kind of ironic considering we spent the $$$$ to put in tons of drainage across the whole place last spring to avoid just this situation. 

Of course no equines are remotely worried about it or have any desire to be inside.

Bought these two blankets, as you can see said blankets are not wanted. (In all seriousness, I'm working on that and it sounds weird but it might be the bright blue color?)

my cat looks like he's planning a vacation though

"Think how much worse it would have been if you didn't do the drainage!" is what my lovely and ever optimistic grandmother would have said. And, she's right. Our basement isn't flooding (knocking hard on wood), and I have zero control over city storm sewers being overwhelmed and backing up. So we've done our best. There are a few minor upgrades I'll make next spring, but generally speaking, this is winter here and the big struggle with having livestock.

even very helpful livestock (is it a yak? or an equine of some sort? can't tell)

starting to resemble an equine again, but this poor guy, the awkward stage has been...awkward.

 The ponies still have decent sized gravel paddocks that they can have a little canter in if they like and (mostly) dry barns. The rubber mats are the saving grace there - there's definitely been some water seeping up from the ground if my flooded hay area is anything to go by. My hay is up on pallets on a plywood 'floor' but standing water in there not a warm fuzzy feeling. A sawmill local to us has been providing us with nearly overwhelming amounts of free sawdust, so I don't feel too terrible if a bit of wet gets in to the horse stalls- I'm bedding them super deep and just changing it out more often than I normally would if it gets damp. The hay area is definitely getting an upgrade this summer, though.

hey Buck!

Hey Reggie!

In a second bit of ironic news, all that water around and still someone (it's me) apparently didn't soak the hay cubes thoroughly and Sophie choked a little on one. I recognized *that* cough right away thanks to a previous unlucky experience with another horse, but luckily it was minor this time. So, she's been getting extra soupy grain and soaked hay this week and seems better. I've been keeping a close eye on her because there's always the concern she might have aspirated some, but fingers crossed it's been a few days and we're hopefully in the clear.

Just a regular 4:30pm post work rainy Tuesday night longe in the dark, as you do. Loving that the days are going to get longer again!

Today's my last day of work before some much needed holiday time that takes me right through to the beginning of January. The weather, of course, does not look promising, but I'm looking forward to getting some ride time in and having a nice quiet break. 


Monday 18 December 2023

Seeking Sunshine

It's been dark and rainy and windy and all the non desirable weather things for long enough that I'm once again second guessing all the life choices that brought me back to coastal BC in winter...with horses.
grateful for a dry area to ride in though

It's kind of my annual tradition - it seems this is consistently the time of year I find tough enough that I start imagining life somewhere warm, without horses making mud everywhere. 

We are aiming to be some of those people who have a second residence in a warmer, drier, locale but that is still very much in the research and planning stage. Wanting to bring horses with us and potentially continue to work remotely makes it slightly more complicated than buying a condo on a beach somewhere in South America lol. 

Not enough words for the chaos Mr Alfalfahead brings into our lives. Also my gratitude for the truckloads of gravel G had the foresight to bring in for their paddocks 

Everyone here prefers standing out in the rain to being dry and warm in a shelter (except me). 

Anyway, enough with the whining about the weather. It's grim, but with the right rain gear and lighting I can at least get out and ride most days. Which I do very much appreciate. I also find that once the beginning of January rolls around and I'm fresh off a couple of weeks vacation from work, I'm all positive and motivated again and ready to start a new year off right. Spring is coming, after all. So funny how a mid winter date on the calendar has become associated with fresh starts and brand new opportunities, but hey, it works for me lol. Bring on 2024.

my attempt at a festive spirit

In the meantime, I've definitely been in need of a pick me up, so rather than putting money aside for that long term vacation condo gain, I did what any reasonable horse owner would do and doubled down on short term gains and went online shopping at the tack store. They had a great sale on those Haas brush sets, and despite my skepticism that I really needed a different brush set for a different color of horse, or the miracles the reviews promise, I went ahead and got the bay/dark bay/black set, thereby justifying the purchase by statistically incorporating 3/4 of our equines.

"but why?" I'm sure he wonders.  Giving the brushes (bottom right) some serious side eye

The brushes arrived, and I tested them on Sophie. She hates them, all of them. Dramatically. Squeals, bitey face. All of it. I don't know if it's the horse hair? She's highly offended even sniffing the box they came in and would like to stomp it and destroy the brushes one by one. But, she likes her routine and they are not advertised as palomino brushes ;) so back to her favorite cheap plastic brushes I go.

The other drama llama, Reggie, tolerates them. Which actually is nice, because he has been quite fussy and anxious about grooming. In all seriousness, I did cave and buy the 'fancy' brushes with him in mind - all of my others are cheap plastic curries and bristles that he finds to be too much. I wouldn't go so far to say he enjoys it, but standing quietly to be groomed and not feeling like he is being tortured is a big win for him.
the bitey face game is a firm favorite with these two. This past week it's graduated into biting hind legs and trying to pull each other down. I'm actually a little surprised how rough they play (and appreciative that they are so respectful of us)

If you're curious about the actual efficacy of said brushes, I'm definitely not the dream review. I think these brushes are designed for equines of the finer, more sensitive, sort (or identify as such - looking at you, Reggie), not shaggy ponies. They don't do much of anything on a winter coated Welsh Cob. I'll probably get more use out of them in summer or if I clip. But, for now, I'll keep one or two in my grooming tote for Reggie, because being able to get him halfway groomed is better than not at all. 

I'll leave you with a quick riding update. The weather has put hold to any Friday off property adventures the last two weeks, so we've been stuck at home. I'm a bit precious about my new saddle getting wet so if it's really chucking it down I longe. It's been about 50/50 lately. Sophie needs the exercise to stay sane but also I don't think it's fair to longe in circles day after day, and there's only so much groundwork we can do before we're both bored. So, I've had to be creative in trying to keep it interesting with ground poles and different exercises every day, and yes my saddle has seen a lot more rain than I would have liked it to.

Happy with her weight and muscle tone this winter. Long term readers will know she's a harder keeper prone to ulcers and worrying, so it's been a bit of a struggle to get it right

As far as actual rides, she's been good. There is still the odd moment of bolting off from imaginary ghosts, but I've been quite diligent about going into my ride with a plan and letting the exercise do the work for me. Given my current available space and the half constructed nature of my arena I am a little limited, but I've got more than enough space for 20m circles and figure eights and square turns and a million transitions and I am nowhere near out of ideas. I have hope that this winter of picking away at the basics will pay dividends and I'll have a much more rideable pony come spring. Fingers crossed, though, the weather cooperates a little more and I can get her out on a trail (in daylight, even!) or at least to the club grounds across town for a change of scenery.

dreaming of adventures outside the fence ;)

If you're wondering why this is the second winter of 'half constructed arena' basically the gravel sub base continues to settle. It sits on pretty heavy clay on a slight slope. We put in a ton of drainage, and it's 'OK', like I could just add the cap layer and the footing and go for it, but also this is going to be my long term riding space, so I want to level it one more time this spring and get it as close as possible.


Friday 8 December 2023

Let's Trade

You can see all the media, even visit your foal in person and think you have a pretty good idea of what to expect. Then, boom, they're weaned, they come home and...things might not play out exactly as you thought. 

After a few weeks of being suspiciously quiet, it feels like all they ever do now is run and play and roughhouse with each other. Best decision getting two.

Don't get me wrong, it's all good here! It's just fun how as humans we tend to want to write a narrative about how it's all going to play out, but also it's real life and we're not actually able to predict the future, plus there's the whole nature/nurture thing and you'd better to be ready for it.

Our quiet, easy, friendly little foal we got to be Reggie's buddy (and husband G's (driving?hiking?) pony) Buck. He is all those things, or should I say could be all those things. Currently he also takes things very personally and is no stranger to holding a grudge for days. He's not the type to be dramatic about it, he just internalizes it and then opts out for next time (and who can blame him - it's been an eventful couple of months being weaned and moving across country). He's absolutely super and I'm his number one fan, but he does come with a healthy dose of that Welsh Cob sense of fairness and self preservation.

Is also rapidly becoming a tank

Reggie is incredibly brave and bold and curious about everything. He's maybe not the sharpest tool in the shed, but the flip side to that is that he is just happy to be busy, and never takes anything to heart. He's always just moving on to the next thing. He loves having human buddies to hang out with. Like really, people can do no wrong in his books...we're on day 7 of gastroguard and he's still running up to me like "Oh hi, hey what is that tube thing? Yes let's put this halter on! Oh wait why is the tube in my mouth...oh tastes GROSS...why does this keep happening to me? :("


Buck got dewormed once and has been wary of tubes of things or hands near his mouth ever since, like he needs to inspect what you've got (or in this case don't have) before the hands and halter get near his face :) 

So, it's evolved that if we’re both around, G does most of the things with Reggie and I do most of the things with Buck. Reggie is easy for G because G assumes he'll do the thing and so he does. Simple, just get on with it, exactly how little Reggie's brain wants it to be. G's also super unflappable with baby horse shenanigans and is decent at setting boundaries (thanks for that, Sophie). Reggie is fine with me, but G and him just seem to have some kind of mutual understanding going on. I get a whole guys doing guy things, drinking beer and watching the game vibe from those two. I’m the mean mom and not nearly as fun. 

This about sums it up...we had a tarp laid out to dry and I was so  proud of this little guy for thinking a little, then calmly putting two feet on it when I asked

Meanwhile this guy was already fully invested in trying to pick it up and take it with him and then contemplated rolling himself into a burrito, much to Buck's dismay. (please excuse his filthiness...and continuing general state of awkwardness. This shall pass (we hope;)

Buck needs a bit more encouragement and needs to time to think and process. He's a fun mix because yes, he's quiet, but also he's not forgiving if pushed beyond his happy place. So you know if you messed it up, but maybe not til later when he's processed it and judged you wanting. So, for now he's 'mine'. Because maybe you guessed it, but he's not G's hugest fan (yet). I'm smaller, I'm quieter, I'm more patient, so he's gravitated to me (and me to him, really). We're the two overthinking introverts in the room.

The mud and winter fur situation is real, maybe I'll have 'nice' photos again next summer.

So they've chosen their people and it's not gone the way we'd planned. It's going to be really interesting to see how this plays out long term, I feel like Buck is only going to gain confidence and once there is a stronger baseline of trust between him and G it will be fine. Reggie has the perfect temperament for what I want in my future sport pony, we'll just have to be careful to keep it fun and interesting for him.


Wednesday 6 December 2023

WW: Tales from the Backyard 5*

 XC day brought challeging conditions - the area had seen an 'atmospheric river' the night prior so the footing was deep. Trademark is undaunted, and has prepared by rolling and becoming one with the footing.

He commits to the long one. The only choice, really...the infamous Garden Hose really demands a good galloping stride.


Conscious of the clock, he's also elected to take it on the angle, a risky strategy indeed.

Still cutting it close on landing. You can really see how this is a complete test of scope and training

A quick recovery, and onwards to the next.

Bonus: I zoomed in on his little face. Look out, he's super fierce with those ears and knees:)


Monday 4 December 2023


 We still haven't moved into our little house with the horses, but it kind of feels like I've checked all the major things I signed myself up for off the list...the rest is waiting on contractors or forces outside my control. Soon, I hope. But also, whenever. Because I'm enjoying the break.

The weather has been absolutely horrible, but we had a sunny afternoon and so I took all the pictures 

As always my number one go to with any free time is the horses. Riding, in Sophie's and my case. Colt kindergarten in the little guys' cases. I'm really, really loving the baby horse thing. It's so rewarding to see them growing and gaining confidence daily and so neat to be creating a bond with them at such a young age.

Come on in, we’ve got candy! 

Riding also feels like such a good thing right now. I think that's the one fantastic thing about the forced time off this year, I've come back to it with fresh eyes, full of enthusiasm and appreciation. I spent a long time in my head prior to being hurt always feeling like I wasn’t good enough, then more recently, asking myself why I was trashing my body with minimal enjoyment as the trade off. But somewhere in that time off, along with the physical healing, I mentally got back to a healthier place. The anxiety has been replaced by gratitude. The self criticism and overthinking is still there but the enthusiasm and desire to ride wins out.

We longe over poles sometimes too

I renewed my RideIQ subscription last month and it's paid for itself a thousand times already. Pressing play and having someone in my ear, confidently talking me through a ride plan is absolutely worth every penny. I'm coming away from each ride feeling positive and like I haven't been giving myself enough credit for the work I've put in. The pieces are all very much there, it's just me needing to sit up, quiet down my noisy brain and ride to a plan. It’s a positive feedback loop too - riding confidently makes me better able to both mentally and physically handle unexpected winter pony shenanigans,  which increases confidence further. Being able to ride regularly means the not so great moments don’t stick and I don’t dwell, there’s always a new day. 

She prefers to not be blanketed all the time so I’m trying a cooler pre ride to get the worst of the mud and damp under control, because of course she’s also a lover of standing in the rain, and highly offended about being tacked up when damp 😁

Spent $$$$ on footing but 2 of them prefer mud. Bakari is a baby genius and prefers lounging in clean shavings. Take notes, Sophie.  

I <3 him

The lights have also been a huge help - I used to feel rushed against the clock and I know that was affecting my enjoyment of things. I was definitely carrying that 'I only have 15 minutes of daylight!!!' mentality onto the saddle with me. Fun story, this weekend we’ve been having some typical grim west coast winter weather and so Saturday night I zipped up my best raincoat and got out there with my headlamp doing evening paddock and stall tidies, then fed dinner, feeling all accomplished.

 I got back in the house and it was 3:30 pm. So, I mean only 3 or so hours early, lol. The ponies got a second dinner later on. The super dark days are tricking me! 

Typical grey day

Tentatively hoping Sophie and I will be be fit enough to resume regular clinic and lessons after Christmas, but we’re in a great place now and there’s no rush. It feels very important that this stays fun so I’m going to be even fussier than ever about coaching and surrounding us with positive people…and keeping my schedule manageable. Actually that last sentence is pretty much the only thing on the to do list for the foreseeable :) 


Monday 27 November 2023


 You can’t accuse me of clickbait titles. 

In my defence, I think that “uneventful” being first word that came to mind to describe this past week is a lot more exciting and indicative of success than anything else. 

Spoilers: The Chaos Tail was flying, but no chaos ensued

I had a pretty standard week, doing all the things both riding and horse care that I would hope to do on a regular basis. And there is nothing noteworthy to discuss. Keep in mind I currently have a Sophie and two weanling colts at home. Sophie is the queen of all things chaos and the two new guys are not far behind. They’re definitely more solid citizens than her by nature, but also they are 7 month old colts still learning about the world.

They grow up so fast, I saw them playing baby stallion games the other morning (the whole kneel down and bite at legs and faces, mixed with rearing and chasing routine)

At the risk of completely boring you, I have a list of all the things that happened this week with absolutely zero drama. (Sounding super dull? Consider reading anyway, I also have more baby pony pictures to sweeten the deal)

-Rode at home a few times after work in the cold/dark/rain after minimal turnout.

-Haltered, medicated, groomed baby ponies daily after work in the cold/dark/rain.

-Trailered Sophie out to meet up for a trail ride with a friend over the weekend.

-The boys had their first appt with my farrier.

-Everyone took turns doing trailer loading and manners practice, everyone got a gold star.

The boys were both perfect gentlemen for their farrier appointment and it was zero percent complicated or stressful. It felt like the last check on the list of things the baby horses needed to know and be reliable about ASAP. They’re polite and easy to handle, they’re feeling comfortable and settled in our routine, and that’s all either of us really need to worry about for now. Also, have I mentioned how much I love them? They’re the best, most willing and personable little guys. We’re so happy with our choices. 

Sophie. And me. It’s been a journey this year, to put it mildly. So I’m very happy and appreciative to just be out there doing normal horse people things with a pony that’s happy to be there too. She’s been super lately, I’m starting to think she just needed a bit more maturity and time and positive experiences. I’m going to protect this at all costs by being super choosy about when/where/who we ride with, but it’s feeling good. I’m especially not sure I would have believed she’d ever walk chilled on a loose rein out on the trail, but it’s a thing now and I’m here to celebrate it. I do love my flatwork and arena time (and no hard feelings if the wilderness isn't ever really the fancy pony's thing) but it's such a better routine for everyone if we can safely add in a nice hack every few days.

I really should clip her but also look at the dapples.

And do I really need to clip? I'm not boarding so it's not a big deal to leave a cooler on for and hour or two and take if off and give her a quick brush when I get a moment.

Also me, loading up my pony solo and driving us out for an adventure. It really wasn’t that long ago where that felt more anxious making than fun and I’d try to talk someone into coming with me, but it feels totally fine now and very nice to be independent again.

I feel like we’re also overdue for a little Bridget update. She’s doing fantastic and she’s very much appreciated and loved. She’s with a horsey friend Sophie and I see often, but with the intense herd bound silliness still feeling quite recent I’ve been cautious about Sophie and B meeting up again in the real world. Soon though, I think there could be a little Bridget meetup content.