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


Tuesday 2 January 2024

looking forward

So, this past year...happened. I was stuck in a rut and needed to make some changes. Then I hurt myself and those changes felt like they needed to happen sooner rather than later. And reliable me, who loves a routine and predictability, made a few uncharacteristic YOLO type decisions. The fun thing is, once I got over the initial feelings of change itself being uncomfortable, my decisions felt all sorts of right. The long term plan is easy to imagine and something I’m excited for again. The short term plan for 2024 feels manageable and fun. I think I did OK.

Plus, they were cute decisions

This is where I should set out a show and clinic schedule and impress you with my goals and dedication (or imagination ;)). I DO have an aspirational schedule filed away and some lessons planned, but I'm going to let that come as it may. I'm in a good place mentally, and past experience has taught me that pushing too hard to hit certain goals or benchmarks takes the enjoyment right out of thing. 

The current fluff level is kind of misleading, but also who would have had elegant baby Sophie maturing to be wider and bigger than Bridget on their bingo cards? She's 7 and I feel like all the filling out only came this past year.

The boys are getting gelded early spring and then I'll have some more options for them. I don't have any big things planned, just want to see them run around and play and grow up well. While I am intrigued by breed shows, I can't justify taking them for a multi travel day trip to go to one. I’ll get them out to some local events so they can see the world a little, but it's going to be super low key. I definitely have some plans for the pair of them, but those won’t be 2024 (or even 2025) happenings. 

Chaos level 10/10

I feel like I say this every year, but I’d be better served saving my money for regular trips to one riding coach than attending the variety of local clinics and events. I say this and then I get sucked in because it’s so darn easy to just trailer down the road to whoever’s here, especially when they’re more than qualified to teach us. Our club events committee works hard to organize those opportunities and I feel guilty if I go my own direction and don't support their efforts. That being said, I think that I would be better to have consistency with one person moving forward, so that’s my plan for further learning this year.

Sophie would just like more chin scratches in 2024

As far as really tangible things on the to do list - finishing the riding ring and moving into the house are the two big ones. We're also exploring some bigger plans surrounding relocating at least part of the year, and I want to incorporate a plan for the horses and continued riding in that. I suspect that's one of those things that's going to feel like A Really Big Deal to organize and research, but once we actually are in a routine of doing it, it won't be too much of a thing. On a more emotional level, keeping a focused and positive mindset about riding and related goals is the biggest priority. I'm way too hard on myself.