Tuesday 18 June 2024

Staycation

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.

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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.

Reggie:




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.



Overall:

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 :)



Buck:



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


Overall:

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.

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Monday 27 May 2024

Best Day of The Year

First day in their summer field! We were delayed this year due to waiting for the boy's gelding appointments, so there is a LOT of greenery for them to enjoy.

They all get along super well

It was super cute walking them over. It's just across the street from the end of our lane way, but as soon as we turned right instead of my normal left I'd take to go riding, Sophie knew what was up and was very excited. The boys remained confused so it was fun seeing their reactions when we set them free.






















Picture quality is not what I'd hoped, we've had a return to winter rain and temperatures. Bad for me trying to get sharp photos, but hopefully good for wildfire season :)

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Thursday 23 May 2024

Day In The Life

 (Less an actual day in the life recap, and more an excuse to post a million photos from the backlog I have)

Spring is well and truly here and with that, the ponies all get so much more time out on grass. We've had such a wet spring they can't even keep up with the vegetation growth, which is insane given there are three of them on just over one (very carefully managed) acre full time. Currently, they're out every morning until lunch, then again from late afternoon until 8-9ish (pony dinner/bedtime)


Correction: make that two grass consuming equines and one tree browsing giraffe

Their summer field around the corner from us looks like a wilderness - the property owners are like "send help now!" :) but gelding got delayed and of course we did not want any surprise foals next spring so group turnout had to wait. I've promised the mowing crew will be starting this weekend. I'm excited and hopeful for everyone to start sharing pasture space. They're been sharing fence lines forever and the current situation is that Sophie wants Buck's baby and thinks Reggie is gross, which Reggie is totally fine with. Both the boys think Sophie is weird and could care less about her company. She calls for them and tries to tell them to stay close to her but they completely ignore her lol. So I have hopes there won't be too much drama.


There are much more interesting things than Sophie, says Buck. Mowing crew training is going well.

Mostly they just chase each other in circles all day though. And I literally mean all day, this is the current game that never gets old. This is also why we need to use a lawnmower, they don't spend much time at all actually eating.

My daily spring projects have ranged from re staining fences to loading trucks of manure for removal to other people's gardens. I'm continuing to work on the riding ring area. Parts of it aren't compacting as I would have hoped but as always, we have a plan to better it and it's certainly rideable and usable as is and I remain grateful for it.


These two just like to use it as a litter box, of course. Also, they so different! It looks like I have a gypsy cob and a thoro-cob atm. It's fun watching them mature and I'm so curious to see what the future will bring. Buck is surprisingly sporty given how little he liked to show off as a foal, and Reggie was a very fancy baby but is definitely going through the world's longest awkward stage now  :).

The babies both get daily grooming and handling. Buck is feeling and looking so much better, but we needed to extend the antibiotics as he's not quite fully healed yet. Luckily he continues to be a good boy about it all - the silver lining to all this is that he's much more well handled now than he would have been if I didn't have to medicate and clean twice a day.

Reggie doing grown up things. Still hates being groomed, is only here for the snacks. Grateful it wasn't him needing twice daily inspections because while he's lovely and lots of fun, by nature he's not nearly as forgiving and patient. I'm confident he'll get there eventually and turn into a fabulous riding horse, but for now he's still part baby orangutan.

Pony kindergarten is going to resume next week. I guess I could have been taking Reggie the past couple of weeks, but it felt mean depriving Buck of his friend when he was feeling unwell (separating them goes OK, but there is room for improvement with Buck in particular missing his friend and worrying). Next week for sure.


Still with the baby face, and I am powerless against it. He gets what he wants.


Black Beauty incoming!

Buck currently wins tag games as he's far more maneuverable...will be interesting to see if that changes in the big field, Reggie has a ginormous stride length compared to compact little Buck.

Used to have a nice trot but now it seems like he only has canter or gallop installed.

I'm still 1000% happy with the decision to purchase the both of them, even though it leaves me with less space and time for riding age horses. I was apprehensive they'd be a lot of work, but despite them both being babies with the obvious crazy energy levels and minute attention spans, they are both really good guys and fairly straightforward personalities. Especially when we compare to the menace that was baby Sophie, lol! If she can turn into a good girl, there's hope for just about any young horse.

is a good girl


Baby Sophie for tax

Finally, I'm sure with me waffling over Sophie it might have crossed a few minds that I might regret leasing Bridget. The answer is a giant NO.

Bridget's little girl wrote a book! (About a girl that loves a pony named Bridget, obviously :D) I get regular updates of all their adventures together and it's about as cute as you'd expect. She gets more love than any pony could ever dream of. While I miss her and am sad sometimes, it's absolutely the best decision I've ever made for one of my horses (and I can see her whenever I like).



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