Tuesday 25 June 2024

Proceeding Gently

I've been slowly, slowly creeping out from under my rock and inching back into the world.

Tradey/Reggie/Buddy (I really need to settle on a name and stick to it. I call him Buddy but that started as a joke and just cannot be his name forever lol) had an outing this past weekend. There was a working equitation clinic at the club grounds that for whatever reason felt like 'too much' to commit myself to. But the lovely friend putting it on mentioned I was welcome to stop by and borrow the course outside of clinic hours. That felt like the low commitment option I needed, so I loaded up Tradey and off we went. He's going to be the most fun, he was zero percent scared or worried about any of it and was mostly just interested in trying to steal anything not nailed down. He's so curious about everything. It mostly outweighed thoughts of wanting to chat with the horses stabled nearby, but there was a little anxious looking and calling for friends. Overall, he was a super star. He'd be good to go for an in hand trail course  and I can't even take any credit for it. It's just who he is.

Champion of the world pose

We followed that up with a short hike through the nearby forest, but we timed our return a little wrong. Long term readers might remember when I boarded nearby and mentioned the chaos that comes with the weekend farmer's market. It has it's own space but people end up parking on both sides of the road leading in and all through the staging area for the trail network. I'd completely forgotten about it (like HOW DID I FORGET THOUGH? Bridget legit got bumped into by a car there and another time ended up with a dog hanging off her tail). So there I was with my yearling, popping out of the trail head to find we were blocked in by parking, and needing to cross the road to get back to the relative safety of the equestrian club grounds. Tradey got to see his first bicycling people, off lead dogs, children running up to him, traffic and parked cars, with people exiting and entering, slamming doors, pulling out strollers and umbrellas. Just everything you could imagine, it was there in one 5 min walk. One 'lovely' person even tried to drive by us so closely there legit wasn't room for us all. No one was giving us any personal space. And...he was not worried at all. Like who is this pony?

G taking him hiking. He was so well behaved, like when did he suddenly learn good manners? How did this happen? (Tradey, not G, for the record. G's manners are questionable ;)

Buck. Finally, finally, we got the all clear from the vet. That nasty infection from his gelding incision kept coming back. 6 weeks of antibiotics later, it was looking good. We ultrasounded last week and fingers crossed, the last of it is gone and he had his last pills last night. 

Quality pony deserves a more quality photo, but this is what I have this week.

He was doing so well with trailer loading, and was my first choice for the above outing, but then scared himself badly the other day when he turned around and bumped off the clipped back divider and it made a rattly sound. I love that he came right back and tried again for me, but we'll have to build him up a little again. He's pretty reliable and confident about hopping in right away but still gets anxious/panicky if you leave him there alone. I think he'd be good with a friend to lend him a bit of confidence, so I will have to set that up and make things more fair for him. Having three horses at home is lovely, but it does mean the math doesn't work with a two horse trailer. Sophie isn't great home alone, and neither is anyone else at the moment. It's fun that both Sophie and Tradey are happy to go out alone. Buck less so, but willing. I think a confident friend to accompany him for a bit would be beneficial. But no one wants to be the one left behind!

Peas in a pod

Their little cottage still cracks me up. They love it.

I know the herdbound tendencies are normal and part of who they are. Sophie is extremely social and herd oriented, and I feel like at this point she is who she is. She's great to take out alone. If I leave her home alone she paces and calls (and sometimes takes out some anger by kicking the fence) but that's about the extent of it. Annoying, but manageable. On a bigger place I'd be more willing to completely roll with it, but we do have neighbors who definitely notice the noise so I try to be considerate of timing and length of our outings.

I can strive for a more peaceful experience with the boys, so it's something to continue to work on until hopefully both boys are happy enough at home alone for bits of time. At some point they will need to be less joined at the hip. They spend almost every waking hour playing and grooming and generally interacting with each other. I feel like that's how it should be at this age. I have started putting them in adjacent spaces or alternating their time out in the field so they're not always together every moment of the day. We take it slowly, I'd like to set a precedent for non stressful 'alone' time but there is no rush, I feel like the socializing and interaction they get from living together far outweighs the downside of them being maybe a little too codependent. Poor Buck definitely got the neighbours attention and was very upset with being left behind last weekend. Sophie is taking her 'parenting' very seriously so was also crying and not as much as a comfort as we had hoped.

Sophie. I have put feelers out for a sale or lease situation, but that's still pretty fluid and nothing has been confirmed or decided. I'm hopeful we can find her the right situation. I'm not putting a ton of effort into it yet, just if the right thing comes along, then great. Despite my above complaining about how she's not great alone, she's actually really easy to have around and we both really like her. Definitely not a decision I'll rush into. Lately, when I go to get everyone from the big field she's taken it upon herself to round up the boys and keep them waiting at the gate with her. Which is actually super convenient, lol, they are unpredictable little monkeys and normally are off playing in some far corner, totally oblivious to the outside world or dinner time.

The halters hanging on the gate kept going missing. Wonder what happened.

 Anyway, I've set myself a deadline to get serious about rehoming her next spring. Like the title says, proceeding gently and all that. It doesn't feel like a slam dunk decision I'm happy with yet, but equally I feel like some change is needed.

Waiting for dinner

Outside of my own horsey happenings, I've volunteered at a show in a couple of weeks and have been spending a bit of time here and there with meetings and learning for that. I'm just helping with set up and organization, then scribing for the judge on show days. It's going to be a learning experience because I'm pretty unfamiliar with working eq shows and haven't ever volunteered for anything licensed under national rules, but I think a nice way to dip my toe back into horse shows, etc.


Tuesday 18 June 2024


I looked at my work schedule a couple of weeks ago, then looked at the weather forecast and went ahead and booked vacation.  When you need it, you need it!  Sometimes I head off on some last minute seat sale adventure, sometimes I need more barn time. Last week felt like barn and pony time was in order.

More pony noses required

And it was wonderful. I haven't spent so much time outdoors or even with the horses in what feels like forever. I've had an office job for 10 or so years now and I think the indoor, relatively stationary aspect of that is always going to be a struggle. I am much happier outdoors or with horses (ideally both!), but  in my case those life choices didn't pay the bills as reliably as something more technical and computer based.

The equine mowing crew still has a ways to go, plus have gained requests to take on other locations. Too many fields to mow, what a nice problem for them to have.

This is my lunch spot on my 'in office' days and there is a taco truck, so don't take my whining about wanting to be back working in the forest too seriously - civilization has it's perks.

On the 'being an adult' side of things it was a week of tackling yard work, doing paint and maintenance on all things fences and barns, a general tidy up of everything, and a few improvements. Also, leisurely lunches at the lakeside pub, and a few visits to the garden centre, because of course. Actually I can't even pretend any of it was 'being an adult' chores when all ten year old me really wanted was a big yard and horses at home in my own barn. I love it all.

The one not so great note from the last couple of weeks is that we had a freak wind storm and this tree blew over. It was a housewarming gift from my grandma 'back in the day' so I'm sad about it.

Silver lining is it fell right up against this little fenced patio area and was in bloom, making a lovely privacy hedge until I get used to the idea of cutting it up for firewood.

It suddenly struck me as funny how obviously 'horse girl' my 'tool box' is

I set up a misting system in preparation for summer and they were skeptical but eventually won over by it

From the more traditional 'inner horse crazy kid' perspective, I took plenty of pictures, everyone had a spa day or two(whether they liked or not *cough* Reggie *cough*), tack and trailer was organized and cleaned, and much time was spent just generally messing around and getting the boys a little more civilized and set up to be successful riding ponies. 

civilized is not their normal state

so Sophie has decided to parent them. She's doing a good job, but absolutely no one is surprised about how hyper focused she's been about it.

Cute little face. He wasn't great for the farrier this weekend (it's a catch 22 in that they are so active and wear their hooves so evenly they don't need trimming right now, but also the experience is necessary) but it's getting better. We'll keep working on it, it's just confidence and 'stranger danger' trust issues, he's a good boy.

This guy has been surprisingly well behaved for all the things. I'd say we've turned a corner, but I think it's more he's bored with my routine and taking a time out to consider new opportunities for chaos :)

Sophie back in her condo for a time out. There are absolutely no boys allowed in here.

So, basically a couple of weeks worth of entire days spent doing only things I like to do. I'm a lucky person :)

Hiding my falling down hay shed one climbing or flowering shrub at a time. The horses hit these rose bushes hard, but so far they're resilient.


Monday 3 June 2024

Yearling Check In

I am thinking that since I kind of sucked at documenting things with the other youngsters I've had, maybe it's time to turn over a fresh leaf and try to do semi regular check ins on what the boys are doing or know how to do. It's all the little 'boring' steps now that are going to (hopefully) help make them nice riding horses one day. 

I had this thought that I'd save on hay costs with them grazing in the 'big' field. Sophie got the memo, the other two definitely did not and are super hungry when they come home at dinner.


Newly getting good:

- Leads and ties very politely.

- Trailers quietly, loads and unloads easily.

- Haltering/catching. Ropes on or around him.

- Yielding hindquarters, shoulders.

- Waiting at gate, or sending forward through gates.

- Polite at dinner feeding (used to feel like he needed to guard his food)

-Traffic. He's super confident, even with 'different' vehicles driving by, like trucks with trailers or machinery.

I need more pictures of him because right now in 99% of them he's just in the background trying to catch up to Buck. This is the only one from the last two weeks where he's in the lead

To improve:

- Can be fussy/impatient with feet

- Dislikes fly spray/sprays, can panic if I assume too much. Currently I spray near him on a cloth and wipe on and he's suspicious but accepting.

- Dislikes being groomed. I think genuinely doesn't like the feel of most brushes, because is happy to be scratched. Still a bit fussy about where you're allowed to touch (his stomach and flanks are ticklish!)

- Looking in mouth. (This is on me, he was great, then we needed to deworm them what felt like a million times and he's not sure about it anymore because I didn't do enough to make it rewarding at other times)

- Generally can get sharp and impatient, mouthy, can tend to spooky.


Remains super brave and confident, very high energy and spicy. Thinks he's all that and 20 bags of chips. Is polite and a happy friendly guy, but keeping him busy keeps him out of trouble - he's the one who gets bored then gets himself into trouble by impulsively doing the thing and regretting it later. He's responsible for the majority of the inadvertent destruction around the barn and fencing :)


Newly getting good:

- Leads and ties very politely. He was a bit of a wild child before, now he's the best of everyone.

- Grooming, can touch everywhere, fly spray, loves a good spa day.

- Haltering/catching. Ropes on or around him. Another big win, he was pretty scared of ropes.

- Yielding hindquarters, shoulders.

- Waiting at gate, or sending forward through gates.

- Vehicles/traffic. A city bus driver even stopped to admire him, complete with air brake noise the other day (and chat to G, who is the obligatory extrovert to counteract my introvert self) and once he saw the people inside talking he decided it was just a big car and hasn't batted an eye at traffic since.

Horsey friends don't even need an explanation of how 'excited' I was for the bus driver to pull over and talk for an eternity while I had a semi feral baby horse in hand, but it was fine ;)

To improve:

- Can be anxious about back feet

- Anxious about hose/spraying. I can currently hose around his feet, he's very worried if it touches him.

- Anxious about the trailer. I suspect it's more about being unsure and alone away from his friends and less the trailer itself. Loads, unloads reasonably well but anxious about staying in there too long (even with being served grain/treats). I don't want it to be a 'thing' so he just loads, stands for a few minutes, unloads and gets tons of praise right now. We'll start closing dividers and doors, then once he's good with that he can go on a short trip around the block.

- Looking in mouth. (As with his brother, this is on me, he was great, then we needed to deworm them what felt like a million times and he's not sure about it anymore)

- Blankets on horses, humans putting their jackets off or on. He's still terrified, despite me using all my tricks (hanging them on the fence, hiding treats in them on the ground so he can explore at his own speed. Folding things up super small to touch him, etc) We'll get there eventually.

It's funny I feel like he's kind of reserved because he is definitely the one that starts all the games

Standard picture right now, Reggie always in the background making bitey faces


Not as naturally confident as his 'brother' so right now is the more reactive/less reliable/needing the most time of the two. I think that's going to be temporary, since is probably the kindest horse we've had around here and genuinely wants to be a good guy, no matter what. Once he's sure about something, he's great - he's just not naturally inclined to trust just anyone or get himself into a situation without thinking it through first.

Due to the logistics of two people leading 3 horses back and forth to the field, I end up leading these two together. You’d think that would be a terrible idea (and really it is, I’m not advocating this is as a safe thing) but they’re honestly so good. Until the halters are off, then chaos reigns once more :)

They're all entirely ridiculous right now

One of the things I'm enjoying right now is that their summer field fronts the row of houses our place backs on to.  So, the neighbours get a clearer view and I get to hear all the stories about what the horses did all day. "Wait, those are your horses!? The brown ones are hilarious! I can see them from my deck and the other day they were wearing their buckets on their heads and running around :D" It's already a bit of a thing where the neighbourhood gets excited to see them out there come spring.

Never did I ever think I'd see the day where Sophie is the sanest one

 It feels nice that everyone is so happy to have them living here. One of the downsides of being here in the past was that people mostly retired here and weren't overly happy to discover there were neighbouring properties with animals or hobby farms. (It's a very random mix of anything from regular city lots up to 5 acre parcels and beyond.) It's ages ago now, but my and other horsey friends lives were made miserable by one or a group of people calling the SPCA and the bylaw dept regularly. While of course we all were within the regulations, etc, they still need to investigate every complaint and it just got to be a lot. So, times changed and many of us ended up moving elsewhere. I was apprehensive to give it a second chance.

Part of the reason the pony cottage looks the way it does at the front. It's tucked at the end of the driveway in the backyard of the house, and screened by a few trees from the main road, in hopes someone nosy might wonder if it's a studio or a garden shed, surely it's not a horse shelter? ;)

But, here I am, back again. I've felt conscious of keeping everything very neat and tidy and keeping any noises, smells, etc to an absolute minimum 'just in case'. It seems like we've come full circle though, because I've had quite a few people stop to say how much they enjoy seeing horses around again and I'm meeting lots of new neighbours who've moved here with young families to do small scale farming, crafting, etc.

Whew, that turned into a novel. Thanks, as always, for reading. See you next week.