Sunday, 22 July 2018

As If I Was In A Dream

Life has been pretty good of late. But, of course because real life is just peachy, my subconscious is all "IT'S COOL, I'LL FILL THE ANXIETY VOID FOR YOU! HERE'S THIS SWEET DREAM, JUST FOR YOU!"

So peaceful.

Me, sleeping: "Ahh, what a beautiful day. I'm in a farm field, that's cool"
Subconscious: "Have you noticed those dark clouds over there?"
Me: "Nice. It feels dry, rain would be good."
Subconscious: "How bout a tornado?!"
Me: "Crap".
Me: "Hang on a minute. There are horses in this field! I'll just hop on one and run for cover. See ya!"
Subconscious: "That's Bridget you just jumped on. Good luck out running anything"
Dream Bridget "Yep. Not moving. Perhaps the tornado right behind us will carry us to safety"
Me: *frantically kicking dream Bridget*

Real Greg: "Wake up T! Stop kicking me."

So ridiculous, but funny. And I could only think the new and improved Bridget wouldn't ignore my real life kicking. Take that, stupid subconscious. B would totally save my butt. This dream is not relevant.

Would never let me down

Or would she...?

Lol. YEP. My ride on Saturday was awful. B was so sluggish and I didn't have my spurs.  All sorts of NOPE happening, and it was that level of no that only a pony can bring. Like I was honestly "Here, B, peace offering, canter back to the barn" and she was still not inclined to move much beyond a walk.

After mocking me with lovely 20 meter canter circles in the pasture the previous day, of course. Ponies are truly evil :)

Thank goodness we don't get tornados here.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Happy Ponies, Part 2

Just a few pics of the girls having fun this morning:

Hope you all have just as much fun as these two this weekend. See you on Monday!

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

More Effective

Recap of Audrey lesson number...6? I've lost track.

It felt really hot out last night. We actually left a couple of the sprinklers running in the arena while I was warming up, which felt pretty nice! The great thing with the horses living at such a busy barn is that the things you might normally worry about them spooking at...are not much of an issue. So, Audrey calmly walk/trot/cantered through the noisy, heavy duty sprinklers that water the arena.

As a result of the heat, A felt a lot less energetic than normal. Still, she'll meet you halfway if you ask nicely (and let her express her feelings just a little :). Last night, although getting the energy level I wanted was a little more labour intensive than normal, we got there without much of a fuss and the remainder of the ride was good.

There's not much too exciting to recap as far as the nitty gritty details - we worked on walk pirouettes and did a lot of square corners in trot and canter before moving on to riding a lot of transitions within canter. The breakthrough for me was that I'm getting a lot better at collecting the canter and then opening it up again without collapsing my core too much or losing A's balance. I struggle with the really fine adjustments to my body, but things are getting better and I was able to bring the canter back and forth reliably and got a good feel for the amount of energy I need in her hind legs to get her 'bouncing on the spot'. So, that was pretty cool. Also, there was zero kicking at my outside leg in the canter, or inadvertent lead changes even as we played with changing the bend, so that's a win for me.
I'm getting fairly reliable at not pressing the passenger eject button
EC happily exclaimed "this is the most effective riding I've ever seen from you!" and my first instinct was to be a little embarrassed, because I feel really weak and ineffective still on the huge moving Ms if this is 'better' imagine how bad it is normally! But I'll silence that inner mean girl, take the compliment as it was intended, and look forward to getting better yet.

A, post cooling bath, enjoying some small snacks in the shade. I feel like the new title of this blog should be: "Project Gingersnap: Taking Bad Pictures of Good Horses Since 2011"

I have to say yet again what a fantastic horse Audrey is. She's got all sorts of opinions and makes me work, but when it comes down to it she's extremely generous. I'm not kidding myself that I've magically improved this much in 6 lessons and that my riding is making her go better, a lot of it is her adjusting to me and being quite forgiving with what I ask.

I love Bridget dearly, but I have to say the novelty of riding a mare that happily gets to work without multiple reminders and encouragement is pretty sweet. A also lets me know when I'm not up to her standards, but moves on and forgives me, unlike a certain little pony mare we all know and love. 

Good thing I actually find B's thought processes and her resulting actions to avoid work intriguing and funny a lot of the time. She's that total slacker we've all worked with that spends more time and energy thinking up creative shortcuts to avoid work, than the effort it would take to just do the job. In this picture, I'm 99% sure that she's wondering if there is a chance I've just tacked her up for a photo op or some hand grazing :)

Monday, 16 July 2018

Things I Did This Weekend

I've been looking forward to three day weekends for quite a long time! This was my first one, and I can't believe how much I got done. By Friday at noon I had already worked out, gone for a hike, stacked a ton of hay, cleaned paddocks, and gone for a ride. I'm so used to rushing to fit everything in that it definitely felt weird to have an entire afternoon with no plans! As of today:

- The yard and garden are all tidied up.

- I hiked and did a yoga class four mornings straight.

Saw this cutie first thing almost every morning at the start of my walk. They're so tame they don't even move off the path sometimes :/

My favorite section of the trails near our house. This part follows a creek down to the ocean and is always shady and peaceful, with some fair sized trees
- Got all my hay for the winter stacked and stored.
- Organized my tack and gear at the barn.
- Cleaned my tack and saddle pads.

B wearing all freshly cleaned gear
- Ordered a wider gullet for the new saddle (and some sale shirts...I'm not to be trusted!)
- Both ponies trimmed and groomed to a shine.

Bridget is an almost coppery color right now, so shiny!
- Rode 4 days in a row.
- Paddocks are all picked and cleaned.
- A nice dinner out with G
- A nice dinner out with friends
- Built the cat an awesome fort

Actually just the box the saddle came in, plus some assorted paper to shred. 
- Floated on the lake (without the cat ;)
- Read two books. Sheila Wilcox biography, and Girl With The Dancing Horse (Charlotte Dujardin). Both were OK, not great.

Friday night, I started organizing my things for Monday, and I was like "WAIT...technically the weekend has only just started!!" Pinch me, this schedule is wonderful!

My rides this past week were pretty low key. It was quite warm out, and B has had too much time off of late, so we mostly walked around the neighbourhood, with a bit of trot and canter mixed in. I couldn't resist cantering around the farmer's market grounds adjacent to the barn. That's possibly a no-no these days, but it's still technically part of the regional agricultural park, so I don't know. Prior to life as the farmer's market, it was part of the equestrian club grounds and even had a little cross country course. There are a few small logs left around the perimeter that proved too tempting for us to resist. Midge was having fun, but we kept it to just a few, I don't want to overdo it as we both are regaining fitness and her jump saddle fit is dubious.

Toodling around the neighbourhood yesterday

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Estimating Pony Height

Growing a Sophie pony = slightly more expensive and labour intensive
With a 13.1hh sire and a 16hh dam, odds are Sophie should end up somewhere in the middle, but who's to say for sure...there are all sorts of examples of foals ending up shorter or taller than both their parents.  Her two full siblings are 14.2 and 14.3hh, which made me feel a little more confident she'd mature in the height range I'm hoping for.
Sophie and her momma

Sibling <3

When Sophie arrived, her vet records and import paperwork said she was 14hh at just about 2 years old. Not true. She was visibly shorter than Midge, and measuring confirmed she was closer to 13.2hh.

4 months later, she measures just over 13.3hh, and is still very leggy and a bit bum high.
Bum is noticeably quite a bit taller than Bridget's...front end, not so much, lol
The statistics say an average 24 month old horse is about 97% of it's mature height. At 24 months, Sophie was 13.2hh, so according to the averages, she'll make just about 14hh.

There's a couple of reasons I'm not sure the average statistics are going to apply in this case. She's still visibly quite immature looking, (still pretty leggy and gangly) and she's of pony and Warmblood breeding...I don't think either type are known for their speedy rate of maturity.

Her bum currently measures 14.1hh, and since both parents are built level to uphill, I'd expect she'll at least even out to that.

I did a string test today and it says she'll be 3-4 inches taller than she is now, so 14.2 to 14.3hh. I think her build is going to be on the leggier side, tho, so who really knows.

For quality control purposes, I string test measured Bridget too, and she needs to subtract 1.5 inches to be proportionate. Poor B :) I did have to laugh before I sadly informed her she's past done growing.
Sophie waiting for her vitamins this morning. Grow pony, grow! :)

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Bear With Me

I know I'm a bit of a broken record over here. Basically, every week I'm like:

-"AGGHH I'm so busy!"
-"I'll post better media next time!"
-"I'm burnt out and didn't want to, but guess what, I did the thing anyway, and it was fun!"

Bridget's nose is always fun to pet, tho

The real story is so much more, but I've been holding out because I thought I'd wait until I had some 'real' things to report. But right now, with things in flux, that amounts to radio silence the majority of the time!

So, let's just go ahead and share, why not?

The barn I'm keeping the ponies at isn't working for me. It's stressful. I'm sad. I haven't come up with a better option yet.

Bridget "Let's get outta here!"

We looked at an acreage. I love it. G loves it. I'm not wanting to get too excited because guys, we've been looking for 10 YEARS and there is always some reason we end up not purchasing. Everything from legit deciding the property isn't suited to us after further thought, to getting outbid, to discovering some crazy covenant on the title. Yes, we're not super motivated, because we like our existing home well enough. So, this is more of a case of waiting for the perfect thing. Perfect things are very rare. This one feels so right and perfect (especially with the timing of the boarding barn drama) that I'm freaking out a little lot. Fingers crossed so hard it works out for us. I'm scared by how much I want this, like actually a bit nauseous just typing this out .


My job change is official now (finally!), and my new hours start this week! So, three days away, 4 at home from here on out. I need to come up with a reasonable riding schedule for all the extra barn time I'll suddenly have! Bridget is going to need some gradual fitness work - she's been pretty much on the back burner for a few weeks now.
Bridget: "You're kidding, right?"

I'm going to start mixing in some jumping lessons on Audrey on my work nights. My lower level eventing goals just won't die. While A is definitely Ms Talented Dressage Horse, she's actually more jumper bred and is almost as bouncy over fences as she is in the dressage arena. I'm a little scared, TBH...I am not so great at this jumping thing and A is not the easiest to stay with. #lawndartingisinmyfuture
I'll have to read this book again

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Got This

I was a little nervous for this week's lesson. My coach tolerates all sorts of things from me, but I know people who don't put in the time and do the homework aren't her favorite people to teach. And, guess who didn't do any homework? Me. I failed spectacularly. Not only did I not follow up on my lesson 2 weeks ago...I hadn't even ridden since then. Such shame!

Even my cat is judging me for the amount of sleeping I'm doing.

I had "reasons" to not be in the saddle...I was away on vacation, away working, away at the horse trials. Bridget had a cough. And then I was just plain old tired.

Alternate place to sleep, free of judgmental kitties.

So, yeah. I nearly cancelled. Feeling like I hadn't ridden in forever, the first Monday back to work after a holiday, plus the early morning ferry ride and 2.5hr commute made me a little sad. Then I remembered my promise to myself to never back out of things or make excuses because I'm not ready or the timing isn't right. If the opportunity is present, I'm supposed to be grabbing it.

And, you guessed it, I had the best lesson ever. The transitions were sharp, and the energy was good. I kept myself accountable for my body, Audrey kept herself honest about hers. I didn't back off from pushing her a bit, and OMG we even got a few steps of passage (she's very much still learning it too, so it felt pretty special to me that she offered it up for me and my not so perfect asking)

I'm still woefully out of shape, so I didn't play as much as I would have liked - it's hard work riding big moving, sensitive ponies! There were lots of moments that just felt amazing in the saddle, though. Like I might be addicted to the feel of going from collected to medium gaits and back...totally understand now Robert Dover saying that you should always feel like no matter what you're doing, that you could instantly access any other thing. It made sense, obviously, in my mind, when I heard that, but the energy required for the horse to be that on the aids and reactive is a different feel than I would have imagined. Bridget and I can play with extending and collecting, but it's very much a balancing act and it evolves over a few strides while I generate the appropriate bounce/energy. Riding A, you get the energy established at the beginning of the ride, and then she's pretty honest about keeping it at the ready for you. You literally just sit up a teeny bit and keep your leg there and you're bouncing on a trampoline :) Loosen your hips a little and you're bouncing across the arena in huge leaps. SO MUCH FUN!

Fingers crossed this little cutie is half as much fun to ride as Audrey when she grows up.

Thinking on it, I believe I had a great ride because although I dropped the ball on actually riding, I've been doing yoga every morning and walking most days too. I know that's not the same as riding, but the yoga? Totally life altering for me and really helping me sort out all the tightness in my lower back. I'm making progress towards getting better mobility in my shoulders too. I'll never be a super bendy, flexible person, but I'm enjoying how each morning is a bit of a check in for where my body is at, and I'm starting to become a lot more conscious of all the little movements and changes of posture that affect me positively or negatively. So, for example, in the saddle, when EC is like "looser with your lower back", I'm better able to do that because I'm more aware, but also because the range of motion is improved. I think Audrey appreciates that.

Actual image of me doing yoga. Never said I was good at it, but I do like it :)

Apologies for my continuing bad media...I have new pictures on my tablet, but of course here I am at lunch on my work computer with no media. In the spirit of actually posting updates, I feel like I'd best just get this out there now :)