Tuesday 26 March 2024

Life's A Beach

So I went a little overboard with the arena sand. Not in an "I've definitely messed this up!" sort of way, but more like I exceeded the scope of the current project. I was planning to put down maybe 1/2" of bedding sand to compact, mesh and settle with the base for a bit before adding more for footing. 

Two giant dumps trucks weren't quite enough for that plan, so we ended up with a third truck and suddenly what feels like so.much.sand. The amount makes some sense -  dump truck loads are a rather large measurement for our little space and the reality is I wasn't going to pay time and delivery for 25% of a truck, when eventually I was going to need more anyway. Smart financial choices, right?

Bring me all the sand. Seriously, load that thing to the brim.

The critical mistake I made here is not booking a bobcat or tractor to spread such a large quantity of material. In my little budget conscious mind, raking and dragging a thin layer of sand is a doable thing and I was saving money for later. Future Me could not feel guilty about hiring the fancy truck that sprays the sand around evenly once we were talking footing. Now we're kind of in a middle realm where it's not quite enough to be the 'forever footing', but also it's too cushy to just be part of a base layer and I might as well plan to ride on it as soon as it packs a little.

My current reality is that with the extra almost a full truck and the fact that a lot of it ended up at the north end of the space, me and my little landscape rake plan seems laughable.

Going to have abs and arms of steel, at least

Being a crazy and determined and poor horse girl, I did rake an entire thin layer covering the gravel base. Eventually though, faced with a significant amount left, resorted to google and youtube (literally "how do I spread and level sand without a tractor" and found a multitude of how to videos - mostly involving middle aged white guys obsessed with having the perfect level lawn, but also a few nuggets of wisdom from handy people who built their own arena drags and DIY levellers.

Welding is beyond me, and I don't have scrap metal laying around. I do however, have a bunch of wood from house renos. And a truck.

Behold, my thing of beauty, made from old window trim and two old front entrance stair treads. Two gate chains to attach it to the bar from our regular chain harrow:

I noticed the nosy neighbour creeping my latest crazy idea and was fully prepared for him to have some great dinner conversation with his wife about my latest failure once it imploded. 

But NO! It works!  
looks like progress to me

I mean I could dive in and improve it, but it's getting dismantled and returning to the parts shed when I am done, so my commitment level is not high. It works and that's literally all my aching arms need at the moment. 
getting closer to being rideable!

I won't lie, I see all the horror stories online of all the multitude of ways ring building projects can go wrong and I'm having a bit of anxiety about how uneven it is...but also, we're not done spreading it. And worst case, time and a tractor will fix it.

Monday 18 March 2024

Weekend Scenes and Further Arena Building

 We went from snow last week, to summer temperatures this week. The ponies are all well started shedding their winter coats, but I think we were all feeling the surprise destination vacation temperatures (and I managed to get a sunburn).

Cherry blossoms appearing!

The big project this week was that we had a giant dump truck load of sand delivered for the riding arena. I probably haven't discussed here, but this project is taking forever partly because we essentially live on an island and the materials available are the materials available locally. I checked into barging some in from the lower coast and it's just way too cost prohibitive. The local pits sell drain rock, 3/4minus/road base, bigger granite rock sizes...and sand. We don't have the crush rock/limestone/clay/whatever you'd normally use to cap an arena. 

Chief inspector

There are a couple of local arenas I like the feel of, so I'm just trying to do what they did, which means giving the base a winter to settle, then re leveling and adding a super thin layer of sand on top and compacting that. There's a sand locally that has a bit of clay and fines that seems to do the trick as a nice 'mid layer' between the base and the footing. The thing with this plan is that I just spent three days of my life raking and dragging and levelling 1" of sand around a 80x120' space. For the right person, this might have felt very meditative zen garden, but I'm not that person. The temptation to skip this step and just dump some footing on top and call it good felt very very real even about an hour into raking and spreading :) But, it will all be worth it in the end, right?

yellow labrapony loves to 'help'

Other than that, I kept busy prepping the garden and replacing some fence and harrowing and planting more grass seed in the front so the horses can go out there again. 

Is not allowed in the garden but would like to be

Trying to tempt me to forget the garden, she brought me her ball. She's so distracting and cute.

Sophie just had some short rides barely worth mentioning as I'm still feeling pretty cautious about the saddle. I have a bodyworker person coming next weekend so that will be good for feedback.

Reggie is finally starting to level and fill out a little

A little more suspicious of our activities than Sophie is but I like letting them hang out while we do things in the yard, it doesn't normally take too long before they're hanging out and investigating everything. A really easy way for them to see a bit of the world and trust us a bit more.

He'd come visit and investigate then 'scare' himself and run back to his friends (definitely a game and not actually scared)

The boys are still pretty low key as far as any 'to do' lists. They get groomed, they get their feet handled, they go for short walks, they get reminders on basic manners. There's a long list of things I can see  need to be addressed (they're both very sensitive and reactive, Reggie in a 'chaos is fun and exciting' kind of way, Bakari in an actual 'this is worrying' way), but also the nice thing about babies is that there's really no rush and a little bit every day is far more productive right now than 'training' things head on. They're light years ahead of where they were when they arrived as far as trusting us and doing all the things. (I mean slow and steady feels like best case with every horse, but baby ponies brains fill up so quickly you really aren't tempted to push anything.)

Buck is a lot more reliant on his friends so he just grazes and naps up closer to them. He can be curious and he's actually super friendly, but he's a lot more reserved and cautious than Sophie and Reggie are. He actually reminds me a lot of Bridget in a way.

Depending on what I'm up to with Sophie, I have a clinic booked in April that was originally for her, but I think it could also be fun to take the boys for a baby horse outing and short groundwork lesson.

Quick trip to town for lunch, with a Vancouver Island view reminding me why I like it here

Looks like the beautiful weather will be here for a couple more days then we'll be back to the usual. I'm loving every minute of it. It's so easy to feel depressed here with the never ending rain and cold so this has definitely felt like a nice vacation from it all.


Monday 11 March 2024

There and Back Again

 I'm getting to be not so great at this blogging thing this spring.

I was having such a good start to the year, then of course we had a sore backed pony which led me down the inevitable rabbit hole of saddle fitting, tack issues, hormones, maybe we need a vet, maybe a smaller jockey, maybe the ulcers are back etc etc etc. That one can spiral fast (and of course I let it and went to Level 10 Worry rather than 'maybe we just overdid it on the day' :/)

It's still pretty early in the year, but our little detour did still impact a few of my plans and our calendar is clear through mid April. Which is fine, because the spring feelings are strong in the Banana Pony and the chaos levels are higher than ideal in all the creatures inhabiting our little backyard Ponyville.

Not helped by the beginning of March bringing absolutely ridiculous weather and leaving snow on the ground for a week.

Sophie's 'let me outta here' face. She gets out to graze most days but it's just so wet and everything is so muddy it's pretty limited right now. We've had numerous windstorms too, so it feels like it's been a part time job picking up all the branches and fixing fences.

I did of course have Sophie's saddle checked (it got a thumbs up which...I hope is true, lol I have no faith anymore) but I also added this thinline pad because I thought it might be the safest thing that might help but also not impact the saddle fit. I went down the rabbit hole of looking for actual science on any of them and came up pretty empty, but here, take my money anyway, I guess. She also got a new (Stubben Equi-soft) girth which is kind of a 'meh' for her currently, but I think once summer comes or if I clip her it will be a win (she's annoyed by her winter coat getting caught/laying the wrong way in it so we're sticking with her sheepskin crescent girth most days). It's actually slightly fascinating how loose you can leave the Stubben girth though and still have it doing it's job. 

Doing something about that fence behind her is my other current part time job. It's horse safe, but it's on it's last legs. As you might be able to see in some of my pictures, the neighbours on both sides have a lot of stuff piled or built right up against us. We've been slowly reclaiming the space and replacing fences and planting hedges. That rock pile behind her is also a work in progress, I would like to get them installed before we put the ring footing down.

Kitty Judge at E

The obvious of having the vet take a look isn't as obvious as you'd first think because the vet visits us once a month and is very busy in her own practice, so I'm looking at mid April for non emergent appts. But, fingers crossed Sophie seems pretty happy (and has a bodywork person coming to take a look in a couple of weeks) so I'll let it wait.

No turnout plus windstorm meant I had some regrets this day.

Speaking of vet visits, the terrible twosome are in need of gelding. I might actually take them over to the vet clinic on the island for a special trip rather than wait the month or two for a local appt. Buck continues to be a pretty standard baby cob, my guy though is giving signs he'll be a much nicer gelding and that we should get that done soon-ish. Even if the cocky boy thing just who he is, being able to turn him out with adult horses (hopefully Sophie can do the job) will be a win for keeping him in check. I can't even believe I am implying there is any scenario where Sophie would bring chaos levels down, but I think we might have found one!

Fingers crossed for group turnout this spring

I thought the potted plants would look nice, but we're on version 2.0 of 'horses definitely wouldn't eat this plant (RIP expensive palm trees)' and yet they live to tear them apart and pull them out of the pots.

Been keeping track of how much they're growing. This isn't super accurate, just a weight tape and trying to measure height on a non level surface, but you can see the trend.