Monday 19 February 2024

The Dude Abides

 And by The Dude, I mean me. It just didn't work for a blog title and once it was in my head I couldn't tink of another title. The T Abides? I Abide...ANYWAY. I have a title. Let's begin.

When we last chatted, the weather had been and was going to be horrible forever. I wasn't feeling happy about that. Sophie also had a sore back and I was questioning saddle fit. I was even less happy about that. I think I had an even longer list of complaints, but I don't recall them so let's take them off the list because  I must have either resolved them or buried the 'trauma' deep enough to forget it ;)

Since we live at the end of the earth, I went with another virtual saddle fitting for Sophie and it was decided that the saddle looks good and is not in need of any changes. Which really gives me no clarity as to why she was progressively getting more miserable with it. I'm trying to set up a travel day to meet up with someone in person, but even finding someone willing to meet within a day trip for me is looking like it's months away. So, not ideal.

Barn kitty proof of life

 In the meantime, it was suggested I play with girth options, because the other place Ms Sophie is/was super cranky about was her pecs, all the way from the center of her chest back under where the girth would sit. It's always been a bit of a touchy area for her (and why finding a blanket with front buckles she doesn't hate is a bit of a thing). It's hard to know with her sometimes what is a legitimate complaint and what is something she should reasonably be able to deal with...this is after all the same pony who has a full on tantrum if she gets a little sweaty and has maybe 2 brushes she finds borderline acceptable to touch her golden self.

Surprisingly accurate

But, there's about zero excuse for letting riding be uncomfortable for her, and she was definitely a bit sore. Feeling constricted/uncomfortable with the girth would cause bracing and a reduced range of motion in front, and that can actually also cause lower back soreness (as well as the tight pecs). This of course could be a pointless rabbit hole to travel down, when maybe the issues originate with the saddle (or my riding to be fair), but hey, it's only money, so I've ordered yet another girth that promises miracles. Wish me luck.

I've dug out every other saddle I own or have access to and nothing is even close to fitting so I have to admit I really don't see anything off about the one she's got. Ordering a nice sheepskin bareback pad is tempting but also might be a dumb way to die with my less than mad riding skillz and a winter fresh pony. We'll see.

For now, while we continue to try various saddles and girthing options in an effort to find something she's consistently happy with, we're doing a lot of in hand pole work and stretches (Jec Ballou's books coming in handy once again), plus long lining and then longeing in side reins one a week or so to help keep her muscles and fitness up. I have some goals this spring and I'm motivated to get back to a regular riding schedule.

As for the babies, they continue to grow like little weeds and they continue to cause chaos and destruction wherever they go. I've put the work in and they're actually really nicely mannered to handle, but left to their own devices one of their favorite games is stealing anything within reach and using it as a chew or stomping toy. 

Caught in the act

They're also not tidy creatures and their paddock and Pony Cottage looks like a bomb went off every morning. "This is why we had mares for so long!" I like to say to G. Even though the little guys are so, so easy compared to the mares I've had...they're forever cheerful and agreeable and generally have no opinions about anything, as long as I don't. Their gelding day inches ever closer and I'm interested to see if group turnout with Sophie over in the neighbour's big field is going to be a possibility in a couple of months.


Monday 5 February 2024

Country Time

I've typed out a few blog posts since my last one mid January but not matter how hard I tried it came out sounding like a depressingly bad country song.

In no particular order:

-The truck broke

-The saddle don't fit

-The hay didn't come

-The rain won't stop

-I'm tired

Obviously all of those are solvable issues and I think I got a handle on all of them bar the saddle fit thing still pending. Even the rain has given up for a couple of days this week.

Riding in the gloom. Apologies in advance for the randomness of the pictures in this post...they're basically everything I have since last time and for the most part the weather's been to gross to have phones and cameras out.


The saddle issue burns me a lot, because it's new and professionally fitted and I really thought we'd cracked the code, and also poor pony...her saddle making her sore (again) is beyond horrible. I trailered out to the big ring last week so I had a bit longer and more intense ride than normal (but not by much), which resulted in a very back sore pony the next day. I've been having some doubts for a little bit, and I was pretty upset to have those doubts confirmed this way rather than listening to my gut and getting it looked at sooner.

We had snow, then we had a big pineapple express and everything turned into an aquarium

Anyway, I love where I live. Mostly. This time of the year is always a challenge though, where I feel our winter gloom and lack of access to the outside world and it's equine services extra strongly.

If I can get the saddle thing sorted in a timely manner, Sophie and I do have some fun things to look forward to in the next few weeks. For now, though, she's having a little vacation. 

Longeing yesterday.

The babies remain the best little guys and are growing like little weeds. They're both about 13hh right now at 10 months, and Buck is substantially heavier than Reggie. At the end of the day we're expecting Reggie to be about 15hh and Buck more like 14.2. I wouldn't be surprised if Buck always weighs more than Reggie though, they're built very differently. It's probably about 0% useful for me to keep measuring height and using a weight tape on them, since previous experience tells me they grow at their own rate, but it's fun to document anyway. It'll be fun to see how they mature.


We've just started taking them on little solo adventures around the neighbourhood. So far, they've both been super about that (Sophie has the biggest issue with anyone leaving without her, of course!). 

She's claimed them as her own

Reggie off property is as you'd expect, a little sharp and very bold - he's interested in investigating everything. Buck is a bit of a pleasant surprise, he is of course a lot more reserved and cautious and I was ready to take it in very small steps, but he's very trusting of us these days and happily follows our lead. He's gaining confidence like crazy.  They have both been super about their feet and standing tied and being groomed lately as well. They're positively simple to have around after so many years of baby Drama Llama ;)

The llama herself


Thursday 18 January 2024

Snow Day

 I was feeling skeptical we'd get any, even given the forecasts. Plus, the horses are shedding a bit, which means spring is coming in my world. But, it happened! A nice change after all the rain. 

Look! No mud!

Pony cottage's first winter. Building such things myself brings late night worry and googling to triple check whether I did a good enough job designing and building to withstand things like wind and snow loads. It's overbuilt if anything, but still, it's built by *me* and I know me and I don't think I'm a qualified contractor, lol. So far, so good though ;)

We were snowed in yesterday morning. The only downside to working from home is that despite everything being closed due to road conditions, I could and did still work. While I didn't get a real snow day to enjoy like the school kids did, I did sneak out for a couple of hours mid afternoon. 

Hi Sophie!

It was already melt-y by then but I did my best to commemorate Buck and Reggie's first snow day by bring the 'nice' camera. Spoiler alert, my efforts at nice photos were for nothing because it turned dark and grey and started raining and no one was feeling my vision. 

Reggie tried

As did this one. They crack me up because they *really* want to be around us and try to entice us to play with them, but also they are aware of boundaries. So you get two ponies running and wrestling about 10 feet from you all day. 

They wanted to wrestle and play bitey face all day rather than my vision of them running across the sunset on a snowy landscape. We all knew it was never going to happen lol. Boys! :)

Even Sophie was full of awkward pony model poses this day lol

I have about a million variations of this picture at this point. Reggie always starts it, Buck finishes it, usually by just slamming into him and knocking him over lol. I forgot how rough colts are with each other, but also it's incredible how gentle they actually are...the only evidence of their non stop games is that they're both usually covered in filth and slobber from the other :)

Here I am feeling guilty we've only got about an acre of space for them to run on in the winter, meanwhile they all prefer to just run in tiny circles around the clump of trees to Sophie's left as a main form of exercise. I have no idea why that is the game. I think the goal is to be fastest so I think Buck is actually 'winning', he's pretty handy around those turns. Sophie does dolphin moves or big pirouettes (pictured), Reggie is just all legs and chaos.

She loves digging and throwing things around, so is pretty in to snow days for that reason This year she's added picking up the chunks of ice we take off her water trough and either eating them or throwing them around.

Still a little daylight @ 5:15. The days are getting longer!

Every angle is an awkward angle right now. One of the highlights of my day is being met at this gate by these two little faces though <3
They all just have the happiest, friendliest, playful personalities. I'm pretty sure something went wrong at the factory and I've been given Labrador retrievers shaped like ponies. 


Monday 15 January 2024

“Winter” Break

 I’m an absolute wimp, because I haven’t ridden at all this past week or so. First we were dealing with incredible amounts of rain and standing water everywhere, plus multiple intense wind storms, then it froze and we have had record setting cold, and likely snow (gasp!) coming mid week. The indoor arena I used to go to on a drop in schedule has expanded their own program and doesn't have a lot of free time available that fits my schedule, so it's been a bit of a no go this year as well. Maybe if I win the lottery I'll build my own, until then I remain at the mercy of the weather.

 The “record setting” cold stretch here is just a few degrees below zero, which is an embarrassing benchmark for shutting down my world compared to basically everyone else in North America right now. I’m so ill equipped for actual winter it’s comical. It feels like a lifetime since I spent a winter on the prairies, like who was that person with a proper winter coat out riding in the snow? Also, whatever happened to that coat? What I wouldn’t give for that coat this week. 

pony winter coat statuses = above average

he's going to be such a handsome guy

Currently needs a bit more imagination to see the handsome grown up pony inside, but I believe in you, Reggie! :)

Every year, we get a few days below freezing here and I have the realization that I could really use hot water at the barn, warmer clothes, heated buckets, (heck, even winter rated windshield washer fluid rather than the summer bug “instant ice creating fluid” I annually spray before regretting the errors of my ways). Those would all be really good things. Where are my gloves? Mittens even, I’d wear those, I should order some. Days are spent making extra trips to break ice in the water troughs and shivering and running back to my truck because I’m weak in the face of actual cold weather. 

riding not helped by some in office days lately, meaning I'm on a ferry at dawn, and home after dark. No free time in the daylight for me!

Then the rain returns, things feel normal again, and I quickly forget all about it. That Amazon order of winter essentials gets put on hold. 

The horses, of course thrive in the dry cold. I’ve elected not to blanket anyone this year and so far that’s working out for me. They’re not as sleek and shiny as they would be if they were consistently blanketed, and they spend far too much time standing out in the weather for my feelings, but they’re all happy. Fingers crossed, no one has lost weight or gained any skin funk so my experiment is a tentative success. 

Neither sleek nor shiny

I’m not anti blanketing, in fact I’m usually pro rainsheet at least. The convenience factor is high and I don’t need to worry about rain scald or the other fun things they pick up here by standing in the rain all day instead of under shelter. Everyone here much prefers being at one with nature, I'm blaming the Welsh breeding for that.

I went back and forth over blanketing the babies this winter - Reggie especially since he looked a bit rough we he got here. So I caved and got a little rainsheet for Reggie to wear when the weather is truly awful. I would still like to see him pick up a little more weight and wearing a blanket feels like horse skills 101, something he should be comfortable with.

Buck was scared of it so of course Reggie took full advantage and chased him

He's already outgrowing it in the two months he's been here

While I'm chatting winter management, the other big change I made this year is that everyone has 24/7 local hay hanging in nets in their stalls. That was previously a recipe for disaster with Bridget so to keep the peace I had to get creative and it felt like a lot of work. Now, with B living her best life on lease, Sophie can have access to all the hay 24/7 without me needing to shuffle everyone around multiple times a day. Jury's out on this working long term for little guys, but so far so good. Longer term, I can see Buck being more of a Bridget type and needing a bit of monitoring so he doesn't get overweight, but Reggie seems like Sophie where he eats what he needs.


The really nice thing for me is that while I still give them the 'nice' hay and their grain and supplements 2x a day, mealtimes are a non event and nobody's upset if I'm a bit random about when I'm actually bringing breakfast or dinner. It's created a way more relaxed feeling around the place and honestly, at least with this crew, they aren't eating any more than I would have expected so it doesn't cost anything extra (this is sadly quite important when the best price for 'cheap' local bales are $20 each and alfalfa is $40 (50lb bales)).

If only I had more grazing

See you next time - who knows, maybe I'll have ridden my horse by then!


Thursday 4 January 2024

photo catch up

 I actually took quite a few pictures in December, then for whatever reason didn't put them in a blog post (or on social media - I really need to get more consistent with that!)

Here's the purge, so they are not forever lost in the vault, and we can start the new year all caught up.

He's got a lovely trot and canter, but we never see the walk ;)

The chaos twins, even Sophie can't keep up right now.

I hid some solar lanterns in the trees last summer and they make me happy on early winter nights.

The face when you're not sure about being left tied

we got the blanket on eventually, but it's a bit too big to wear.

We had an absurdly warm and rainy December. The grass really was neon green (and growing)

everything in their mouths atm

Asking for scratches

Has been surprisingly good and non distracted by the chaos twins. Reggie was throwing buckets against their house this day, making satisfyingly loud and unsettling noises to scare Buck with (and Sophie and I to ride with)

Sophie had a glow (and dapples)

One of these creatures is way more chaotic than the other. Hi Reggie, lol