Friday, 28 December 2012

Lainey

It's a love/hate relationship. I bought her as a two year old with visions of eventing her one day. She`s beautiful, brave and super athletic. I thought I`d hit the lottery finding her through word of mouth at a local farm. Then, the first week she lived at my house, she managed to kick me. The honeymoon was officially over. That marks the first and only time a horse had seriously taken aim and let loose with the intent to actually connect. Thank goodness I was almost out of reach and my anger fueled adrenaline kicked in. Suffice to say she NEVER tried it again, and we`ve managed to coexist safely from then on.

I quickly learned she always has an opinion on just about anything. Luckily I always have an even firmer opinion and if G was reading this, he`d happily chime in at this point and tell you I`m offically the most stubborn person he`s ever met ;)  I moved her to my house with the small acreage in back and we got along pretty well. We slowly progressed through lessons and training until I had a horse I'd trust with just about anyone in any situation. But I still didn't feel like we really had a bond. Work partners, maybe. A lifetime commitment? Hmmm, no, perhaps we should see other people.

Ginger came along. It was love at first sight.  I decided to lease the ever trustworthy Lainey out. Immediately, I had someone interested and a girl came to try her. She seemed good. Then she got on. Lainey took off and bucked. Not good. She still seemed interested but I was uncomfortable with the fact Lainey had bucked with her and decided against it since I didn`t need the worry. A few more months passed, and Lainey and I continued our happy little coexistance.

I moved Ginger and Lainey to a new farm, and since Ginger was getting training, I decided to sign Lainey up too with the intent of getting her prepped to be sold. Apparently she was absolutely horrible the first week, then back to her normal self after that. Trainer girl loved her and started recommending her to clients. We quickly had someone interested in her. They leased her for a couple of months to make sure. The first month apparently went well, the second month, no one is quite sure what happened and the deal was off. Lainey continued happily through the summer with me riding her in lessons and having some fun learning to jump. Eventually someone else came along and wanted to buy her. By this time, I was getting a bit anxious about my Jekyll and Hyde horse and happily signed a trial lease instead.  Trainer girl seemed confident these were the right people and my worries were probably unfounded.

Then, a month ago, I get a text. Lainey is bucking. And it's happened for the past few lessons. They are (understandably) worried something is wrong. Has she done this before? They have her checked out and change the saddle, but nothing seems physically wrong. Sigh. The Evil Lainey is back. She's never bucked with me or the trainer, this is a new thing.

At this point, I'm not sure what to do. She's always seemed fairly easy for me, but then again maybe we're just used to each other. I also ride almost every day, maybe she needs that?  She's good for the trainer. A year ago I would have trusted her with anyone- now I worry. The people leasing are getting regular lessons and are hoping this is just a phase. Still, I feel horrible they are paying good money to lease my horse advertised as a safe, go anywhere type and she is doing something as awful as bucking. Looks like she will be staying with us for the forseeable future.

Earlier this year, Evil Lainey stands in the field plotting how to prevent her sale:

 
So pretty when she smiles:

At least G is somewhat excited by this latest development. He is Lainey's biggest fan and has been hoping she'll be coming back to us :)



Thursday, 20 December 2012

Fear the Beard/The Beard is Weird

This is from a few days ago:

The mane has since been thinned/trimmed but the beard remains. I showed this picture to G and he asked whose horse it was. Ours, honey, all ours. I upgraded her halter to a nice leather one for Christmas in hopes it will add a little more class than the too big/tattered one she has now.

Close up, she's this fuzzy everywhere, but her rainsheet smooths where it covers and gives the illusion she has a weird clip job. The temps here simply don't get cold enough to justify all this excess hair. I told G it's because she is a secret doomsday prepper and is prepared for a nuclear winter :)

She'd look so much better with a clip- there is a pretty girl hiding behind all that hair . Just this once though I'm kind of enjoying having a super fuzzy pony to hug.

I've been stuck not riding the past 3 days - we've been getting snow that melts by dinner time and then refreezes overnight so it's just a big slushy icy mess. Not too safe, sadly. I was just on the phone with a 'horsey' friend of mine and when I mentioned I haven't been riding she replied that she hasn't been riding on purpose. Because her horses are on vacation. It's an official thing - nothing at all to do with the awful weather or lack of rider motivation (insert laughter ;) I like that thinking - it takes it from a negative to such a positive. So, for the past few days, Ginger has been having a Christmas vacation in the snow. This morning we even shared some candy canes to celebrate and make it official.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Days in the Life

I showed up at the barn this past weekend and this little guy was hanging out by Ginny's paddock. When I say little, I mean little...I've been seeing him from a distance for a while now and originally thought he was someone's escaped pygmy goat.


Coastal blacktail deer are tiny compared to whitetail, but even so this guy is pretty small.  He's also very curious and friendly and will come within a few feet of you if you are doing something
he finds interesting. I see him sharing hay with some of the horses so that's probably why he hangs around.

I pulled Ginny out for a ride. This is why some people don't do white legs at all, and also why sometimes I just suck it up and give her a thorough cleaning and sacrifice riding that day:

 
Pony doused in green spot remover and with hosed off legs is much more blog friendly and makes me look like a better owner. The sun even popped out for a minute to add a nice shine to her coat :
 
 


Time to go for a ride. I thought about trying Lainey's 'show' saddle out on her:
Yuck. Pessoa orange is not a good colour on her. Maybe with a black pad? But then what do I do for a bridle? The experts would tell me off for rejecting a perfectly good saddle based on colour - thank goodness Ginger has her own perfectly good saddle already that just happens to be a better color for her.  I didn't even check the fit of the Pessoa - I'll just stick with my comfy dark brown Stubben that fits her so well. Besides, I'm sure if Lainey could talk she'd say she'd prefer not to share her tack. She's just not that sort of girl.
 
Better:
 
 
 
 
After a quick outing down the road to the ring and back, Ginger was ready for dinner. Too bad her mane was still driving me nuts.  After a further hour of pulling and trimming and Ginger doing her best giraffe impersonation, we're almost there:
 
  
 
 
Please feed me dinner. Can't you see I'm wasting away? ;) 
 
 
 
Ginger got her dinner early, and I went off to the local horse club's Christmas dinner and awards night. What a great group of people. The awards were especially fun, not too many overly serious ones and lots of funny/encouraging ones for the younger members. The awards were certificates and super cute customized brushes with horse and owner's name on them. Although our horsey community is at a disadvantage here geography wise, the people more than make up for it and I always miss them when I'm away.
 
 

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Run Ginny, Run!

Here's a fun series of video stills from shortly after Ginger arrived in Alberta and was only missing the "Live Free or Die'' T-shirt ;)  She's so sleek and shiny here compared to fat and furry version hiding from the snow today. In related news, fat and furry pony is also much easier to catch.
 




Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Motivation/Mid Winter Blues



I'm still hanging in there and get out for a ride about 3-4 times a week, but it's getting harder and harder to stick with it.

I think it's a bit of a combination of things - the winter weather, short daylight hours, some barn drama, feeling like I should spend extra time with G since I'll be away again come spring, and a lack of coaching/direction so I'm feeling a bit stuck in a rut as far as training Ginger goes. I've also been keeping myself a little too busy with other activities.

As I'm sure you're sick of hearing, and I'm sick of typing, the weather here this winter has generally been miserable. Yesterday I was supposed to ride with friends, but with the temps hovering around freezing and the rain somehow still managing to come down, I decided to wait until later. Which turned into today. A plan which has just been foiled in one phone call unless I do part of my ride in the dark. Tomorrow it is, I guess. It's long past time to break down and get an indoor arena pass and a good flashlight, but since I've waited so long I keep thinking its already mid December and if I've made it this long without...;)

I've been substituting a lot of my riding time with hiking/mountain biking. I don't mind biking or hiking in any weather because at least I am working hard and stay warmer than if I ride. The catch is that by the time I get back, I'm usually tired and soaking wet and don't feel much like riding. I need a winter workout makeover. I love the outdoors and dislike being inside at the gym if I don't have to be, but 2 to 3 hours outside followed by a drive home for a hot shower and dry clothes is taking up way too much of my day. I've recently started running a bit again every third or so day in hopes of getting a better workout in a shorter amount of time, so hopefully I can gradually increase that and free up more daylight hours. I've also asked for a couple of personal trainer sessions from Santa as well in hopes of getting a better, more effective fitness plan put together. We'll see how that goes and whether I've been nice enough this year. Santa seems generally reluctant to give me practical things- such as items for the kitchen or gym memberships. He prefers vacations and jewelery. Weird, hey? ;) I keep asking because he did once break down and give me the best wheelbarrow ever for the barn, so there is always hope!

Ginger is doing well...although very very furry. Beards are apparently in, since she's grown one about the same size as the one she grew last winter for a much colder climate. I guess I should attempt to trim it - but she's so hairy I don't know where to start or end! Last winter:









Thursday, 6 December 2012

Project Ringwork

We`ve been getting out for quick rides in the ring the past few mornings. I say quick because I've been trying to get rides in before the worst of the weather hits. I still haven't found a jacket that can stay waterproof past an hour or so, and I get pretty miserable when I'm soaked through. Ginger, on the other hand,  seems to love an outing regardless of the weather and is quite happy to get out. We`ve had good rides mostly, although it was quite windy yesterday so my giraffe horse was back on show. She`s also been quite stiff to the right so I`ve been focusing on spending more time warming her up in that direction. I was reading a book the other night and the trainer said that 95% of people will always unconsciously start their ride to the left, and train new things on a left bend first, leaving the right side a little neglected. No idea if that`s accurate, but it certainly describes me. He went on to say that about the same percentage of horses are naturally left ``handed`` and in the pasture will choose a left circle or lead if given the choice. Again, no idea if this is true, but in my experience, it seems to be. So he basically says this is why the majority of horses and riders are not completely straight and are stiffer to the right - although it`s not so much to do with naturally having a `bad`side and everything to do with not practicing and training from that side enough. I may be guilty as charged. "Project Ringwork" is proving challenging, but fun. Although we may not look as polished on the surface as we did a month or two ago, I feel like the connection is getting much better and more 'real' if that makes sense.

I continue to battle with my feelings about where Ginger is boarded - it's nothing terrible, just that being the typical OCD owner I give my horses a whole new level of care when they're at home, so get a bit anxious when I feel things are lacking a bit. No reflection on the facility she's at - just my own anxiety at play there! There's another piece of property on the market we're a bit interested in.This one is 9 acres of nice land with a nice new shop (barn!! lol) and an older mobile which would be convenient while we built a new house. Weird how even though we're not super serious about it at this point I feel better knowing there is an Option B (kind of ;) out there. Of course we looked at an absolutely gorgeous brand new home with an unbelievable view of the ocean yesterday. A dream house by anyone's standards but a tiny yard. I feel guilty and pleased all at once thinking G would consider the acreage with a yucky trailer so I can have my horses at home. So strange how the property market here works - since the acreage is so rare and hard to come by it's priced almost on par with the amazing custom home with the view.

I`m so enjoying having this time off work and the ability to ride every day. I do miss my job and love the area I work in, but what can compare with a day at the barn followed by a nice dinner and movie at home with my guy? Not much, I think - it certainly doesn't seem to get old for me, at least :)
I'm on the slow train to nowhere for the time being, who knew it would be so much fun?

Monday, 3 December 2012

Food

For a while now, I`ve been marvelling at just how little I need to feed Ginger to keep her in good condition. She gets about a flake of local hay for breakfast and two for dinner, a tiny bit of grain, and the odd treat. The barn owner doesn`t feed by weight, so the actual amounts are going to vary day by day. I`ve always weighed everything at home so can make an educated guess. I`m guessing a safe bet is she gets 10-15lbs of food in total per day. My feed bill is tiny - even here where hay goes for $15-$20 a bale. Sort of strange considering she`s not a small animal, but hey, I can`t complain.

I`ve also been wondering why her paddock seems much muddier and dug up than everyone elses. I figured it`s because she loves to run around on the soft ground with those big giant feet. Not so. It turns out my slightly-overweight-on-no-food pony and her dug up paddock have everything in common. It seems someone has decided that she`s *starving* and the only course of action is to dig  holes and eat the roots of the trees and shrubs along the fencelines of her paddock. Luckily we`re in the middle of the forest and these aren`t specially planted gardens, so she`s actually doing everyone a bit of a favor clearing the fencelines. So far the barn owner doesn`t mind her not so level paddock. We can bring the tractor in to fix it in the spring provided it doesn`t get too out of control, and she`s put up an electric fence near the barn where Ginger might be able to mess with the drainage if she digs. I might have to look into a slow feeder system so she can stay occupied eating hay rather than excavating the back 40. Or rent her out with some of those land clearing goats ;)

I love to eat trees:

 
What you can't see in that picture is that I was leading her to my stump that serves as a mounting block and all of the sudden she felt HEAVY. I turned around and the fir branch she's eating in this picture was attached to a broken tree limb about 6 feet long and about 5" in diameter at the large end - she was happily eating and dragging the whole thing along with us. So there I am wondering if I tell her to 'drop it' like a dog or try to pull it out of her mouth. Luckily the small piece broke off before I really had to think about it. This is probably a new low for those of us who were told as kids to never ever let your horse eat with her bridle on.


Also a low point- what our drive home looked like at 2:00 this afternoon. I don't mind the rain so much, but that darkness day in and day out? - yuck  :(

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Farms

A few things have been happening lately that have re-motivated us to find that ideal property and keep the horses at home.
Surprisingly, G is more motivated than me. I'm relatively content as is but he's got itchy feet and keeps asking me about places available locally. There's always something that makes it a no-go, though.
At any rate, a few days ago he asked where I would live if I could go anywhere. After looking out the window at pouring rain I considered somewhere DRY - like Arizona or New Mexico. Then I mentioned how I saw a TV show about Aiken, SC and it looked so beautiful and horsey. So maybe there ;)
We laughed a little and continued discussing the local listings. My new cell phone rang, but I ignored it. It wasn't until later I checked my call display. The number was a South Carolina number which I thought was funny - I was like "Hey G, Big Brother is watching us - a number from South Carolina phoned after we were talking dream real estate." He got curious and googled the number - I kid you not, it's a real estate agent in Aiken, SC specializing in equestrian properties. Obviously a wrong number, but how weird is that? I told him it must be a sign and it looks like we're moving a little farther than originally planned ;)



Thursday, 29 November 2012

Movin' Along

We're back in action this week and popped down to the ring a couple of times to try to get some 'proper' rides in. I've been playing a bit with the canter but I have to time it right since she runs out of gas fairly quickly. What a difference going from a 40 acre pasture to a small paddock makes for general fitness. She feels quite a bit weaker in the canter than she did when we were in regular training and she had a big field with friends to play with. I`m sure I feel weaker to her as well, being the trail riding slacker I am. On the plus side, she's such an honest girl that she doesn't really try to cheat and just gives me what she`s got. She will do the correct work if I can manage to get my own act together and ride properly :) We`ve had a couple of good rides the past few days and I`m feeling encouraged. My farrier took another look and found a stone bruise on her right hind. All that worry for a relatively minor problem!
Proof we showed up for work at least ;) :
 
 
Here`s a picture I found from our trail ride the other day - riding through here makes me feel like I`m in Lord of the Rings or something - especially on a dark and rainy day!
 
 

 
We rode the day after a windstorm and there were several trees down that we had to navigate over and under. The following day G and I went out for a hike with the intention of clearing the way, and someone had already beat us to it! I`m continually amazed by the user groups around here that volunteer their time - even in the middle of the week on a rainy day. It`s also not like this trail is located particularly close to anything - it`s an old old railway grade pretty much in the middle of nowhere and not accessible to vehicle traffic.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Hair

Today, I attempted to channel my inner stylist. I started out trying to prepare for a trail ride on the resident Curly horse. Check out this coat!:

I'm not even sure how you're supposed to properly groom this guy - the majority of my brushes come nowhere near getting to the bottom of his coat. Maybe a hair pick a la an eighties perm? Plus, he's a palomino. Living in a muddy paddock. Enough said :) If he was mine, I might be tempted to clip him to make it easier to keep him clean and dry, but it would probably look completely ridiculous! In the summer he sheds out and looks like every other horse - in the winter he is a giant poodle - even his legs are fluffy and curly. So cute. It is such a treat to ride a totally bombproof horse like him, but I always feel a bit guilty, like I should be riding Ginger instead. I'm glad I didn't take her though - it would have been way too challenging of a ride for her. We had a good time but it was almost 3 hours later when we got home and I was freezing! I had originally planned to take Ginger to the ring after but wimped out and instead tackled her mane. Stage One transformation complete:
 
It still needs a bunch of tidying, but I'm happy to see the parts she rubbed out last summer are just about long enough to start blending in. I probably took 4" off her mane and it's still on the long side! I had thought of growing it long and saving the work of keeping it tidy and even,  but I think shorter suits her much better.
 
Off to the ring tomorrow - I am unhappy with how I rode yesterday and am looking forward to getting things back to where we were when we left Alberta (almost 2 months ago! Time really does fly when you're having fun!)
 


Saturday, 24 November 2012

Beautiful Day!

 I'm glad I did all my 'chores' yesterday, because the sun was shining for the whole entire day today! That's a big deal in winter around these parts. I always get a kick out of seeing how busy everything is on sunny days - my mom works in retail and says even the stores get busy when the weather's nice. Shopping wouldn't be my choice of things to do on a beautiful day, but hey, whatever works.  I have to wonder just where everyone goes when it's dark and rainy - do they really all hide inside all day? I don't notice the gym being overly busy, and I'm usually riding by myself. I very rarely see other hikers as well. Maybe I'm just not popular enough to know where the cool kids hang ;)

Today, I took Ginger down to the ring to check out where we are at with her leg. She was feeling good - a couple of days off for her makes her seem like she's on crack. She's had almost two weeks without a real workout and I'm pretty sure she wasn't even part of this world this morning :) Eventually she came back down to earth and I got to see her moving out properly. I'm happy to report she seems  totally fine. I hopped on and had an alright ride, maybe 30 mins or so of walk/trot. Alright because she was wanting to burst out of her skin and there were tons of distractions -the place was busier than I've ever seen. For the casual observer our ride probably looked a bit of a tense mess, but she really didn't put a foot wrong and tried super hard to be good so I can take that and be happy. I sure wish we had Trainer Girl here - she would have been able to take today's ride and make a complete success of it - left to my own devices I always feel like I didn't quite get there. We didn't canter today - I wanted to keep this ride easy in case she is still a little stiff somewhere. Things didn't feel quite relaxed enough to really take  a chance and go there anyways. It's funny, with Lainey when she's feeling up the best thing I can do is put her to work and canter, she relaxes into it and burns off steam, then we are ready for nice trot work. Ginger is the opposite - if the trot feels tight and funny, the canter is going to be truly awful and then she gets really worried. The best thing for an anxious Ginger is a half hour or so of walking with a few trot or halt transitions to keep her attentive to me. Time consuming and a bit boring, but it works!

We hung around and chatted with some friends for a bit after our ride and she was also very good  then - she's grown up this past year and is much more patient. She also isn't herd bound at all anymore - people and horses can come and go and she's not too worried by it. The reason I take the time to write about all these little things is to remind myself we are still making progress. I'm not even sure why I put pressure on myself to keep improving - in real life I am totally uncompetitive and a bit of a slacker ;) When I posed this thought to G, he reminded me that I've previously said "I don't want to let Ginger down" and that "I want everyone to see how wonderful she and the Welsh Cob breed is". He might have a bit of a point there.

On tomorrow's agenda: I'm going to ride one of the barn owner's horses on a trail ride with another boarder, then grab Ginger and take her down to the ring. School is back in session ;)
I don't really feel right about posting about the other horses I ride (even though it's all good) since they are not mine. Suffice to say there are a few needing to get out and about for some miles on the trails and now and then I take them - it's good for them and good time in the saddle for me.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Hoping for a good day tomorrow

The weather has remained pretty stinky this past week. We're living on a hill, otherwise I'm pretty sure we'd be flooded by now. At the barn, poor Ginger has a paddock that's about half flooded - thank goodness her shelter and bedding are nice and dry and the footing in the rest is just wet - not deep nasty mud! I'm not sure there's an ideal way anyone could manage all this wet, but I think Ginger's situation is pretty close, having a fairly large paddock on a slight slope, with a 3 sided shelter in a dry place facing away from the weather. I'm trying to tell myself the weather would eventually mess with my horsey time no matter where I live - In Alberta those snowstorms in the winter and thunderstorms in the summer wrecked my lesson plns more than once. I'm still missing Alberta though- dry and cold beats flooded and windy any day.

G and I pretty much just said we're going to pretend the rain doesn't exist and have gone hiking every day, trying (and usually failing) to find breaks in the weather. I've yet to find a coat that can withstand 2-3 hours of rain and wind so am usually cold and wet by the end and ready for a hot bath. In other words, not all that motivated to get Ginger out. Good timing since she needs a break anyways. I've still made it there daily for at least a good grooming and usually a short walk up and down the road with both of our raincoats done up tightly. She still seems to enjoy the outing, On Wednesday, she was pretty much sound when I trotted her up, but I haven't wanted to push it too soon.  In the meantime, G and I have explored quite a few trails that would be excellent for riding on. There's one I'm particularly happy about that will be about a 2 hour ride that will make almost a perfect loop starting and ending at the barn. There are quite a few sections of old railway grade through a mature forest, they're excellent footing for trot/canter and quite a bit more peaceful than logging roads! I'm hoping we can work back up to that soon if all goes well.

 We're incredibly lucky here in that over 90% of the province is not privately owned. So we have "Crown Land" (because we are historically tied to the British, legally it is land belonging to "the Queen in right of Canada") What it basically means is the province manages it, that it cannot be sold, and as our government advertises, belongs to all of us. Which means that you can basically ride or hike anywhere - even the areas that are actively leased out to something like a mining or forestry interest usually have an agreement to allow public access. I find in Alberta, the situation is reversed - at least in the area I live in there, everything is privately owned and you're depending on the landowner's permission. I'm guessing it's partly because no one really wants most of the land here - it's all steep mountains and lakes ;)

I'm tied up clearing up some paperwork today, then a visit to a friend who had a fall from her horse trailer and manged to break a few bones in her foot. I'm told tomorrow we might see a hint of sunshine for the first time in a couple of weeks. I'm hoping I'll be enjoying that sunshine on Ginger's back - she seems to be better, but I won't know for sure until I can get her down to the ring and working properly on some good footing. Fingers crossed it goes well. I have plenty of other horses to ride, but it's just not the same without Ginny!
No pictures - I dont want to pull out my iphone and have it die getting wet!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Carrot Stretches


Ginny is still a little sore behind, so I've been handwalking and lunging her at the walk for a daily outing the past couple of days. Fingers crossed, she seems to be improving, so I am hoping it's just a strained muscle. Tomorrow I might try a short ride and see how we do. No matter what, I'm going to get the vet to give her a once over to be sure there is nothing else going on. Today, however, we hid inside - we've got a crazy storm front hitting us with rain and 60mph winds. One of the joys of living on the ocean, I guess, we get the unfiltered weather coming in from over the Pacific. Since we also live in a forest, it's really not safe to go out in high winds , especially during the first big storm of the season when all of the weaker trees and branches come down. In my quest to get Ginger feeling a little better, I figured today was a good day for a massage and to teach her some basic stretches I learned at a clinic a while back.

IMPORTANT PSA: If you own a Welsh Cob don't actually use a carrot to encourage carrot stretches. Because cobs are little horsey geniuses they'll immediately pick up the concept. And since they got a treat that one time, they'll continuously attempt to do said stretches everytime they think you might be looking in their general direction, then act horribly confused and offended when you don't immediately run over with a treat.

It went sort of like this:

(I've since moved on to cleaning her stall/paddock)
Walk up beside me - then flex head and neck so she is peeking at me over the opposite side of her back. I ignore.
Turn head so she is now pointing at the hip closer to me. I ignore (although it is kind of cute)
She senses my weakening resolve and turns to face me head on -after all, maybe I just didn't see her the first time? Again with the stretches, alternating sides randomly (she's apparently not so crazy about the one up between her front legs at least, so we are saved that)
 After a few minutes she did tire of her new game, but immediately started up again as I was putting her blanket back on and standing near her hip. At this point I'm realizing I've made a terrible, horrible mistake and will now have to live with Gumby the stretchy horse for the forseeable future.
Carrot Stretch Fail.




Friday, 16 November 2012

Weekend Update

I've been slow to post lately since my news has been not so positive - sore backs, nasty weather, and limited riding. But hey, this is real life. A little sunshine and good luck would go a long way though. Just sayin.

I've been doing an awful lot of trail riding these past few weeks. While I strongly believe trail riding has all sorts of benefits, both mental and physical, in our case it's let our flat work get pretty rusty. I'll admit, it's mostly due to my laziness. I hop on and head out and next thing you know I'm slouching along with my reins in one hand and on the buckle. I've even pulled out a western saddle now and then - much easier to lounge around in :). I'm not one if those people out doing trot sets and leg yielding down the trail. Being a smart pony, Ginny catches my lack of motivation and marches along quite contentedly. I've achieved my goal of making her a sensible and reliable horse outside the ring so it's time to get back to 'real' work. With the major work at the club grounds completed, and the ring looking gorgeous,  I was excited to get back to some dressage work.

Western saddle with blingy english bridle - how to offend both english and western riders in one easy getup ;)



Except we've hit yet another snag.

This past Tuesday, I took Ginny up some pretty steep hills. She seemed to handle them fine - not overly tired or sweaty. I always let her take her time if she needs to, but she marched happily right up to the top. We stopped at the top of the hill for some grazing time for her and some time to enjoy the view for me. Once we turned for home though, she was pretty reluctant and slow to return down the biggest hill - she felt like she was sore somewhere. I was a bit puzzled, since she had her boots on, so her feet shouldn't have been sore. My next thought was it's my western saddle fitting a little wide and riding up on her shoulders. She's so round it's been pretty difficult to find a saddle that stays in place on some of the more challenging terrain. I know my western saddle is a close, but not perfect fit. I have a fancy air ride pad for her and that's seemed to work just fine for the once a month or so I use my western saddle. It doesn't noticeably move around, but I wonder if it tips a bit forward on the downhills. At any rate, I got off, loosened the girth a bit and walked her home just in case.

The following day, I took her down to the ring and lunged her in her english tack, which I know is a good fit. She seemed very slightly off in her right hind - probably if I didn't know her so well I wouldn't have even noticed it. She warmed up out of it and I got on for a ride. She felt fine at the walk, but the trot felt not so great. Mostly just tight through the back and not at all relaxed. This is common with her when we do ring work. It usually takes a few minutes for her to relax and start using herself properly. Still, I was wondering about that back leg and couldn't in good conscience continue riding just in case. I got off and walked her home after confirming there was no heat or swelling or obvious pain.

I gave her yesterday off, although I did again act all paranoid and check legs/feet/back as best I know how. Besides her being super grateful for a back rub, I didn't notice anything 'off'.

Today, I again took her to the ring for a short lunge. She's definitely a bit sore on the right hind - it's not noticeable on the straight but on a circle she is short striding a bit :( I'm really not seeing or feeling anything out of the ordinary and I've been poking around everything from her feet to her sacroiliac joint. Of course Google does nothing but scare me - if you search hind leg lameness you mostly get results for hock issues, spinal issues, and of course neurological disease.

I'm going to give her a couple of days off in hopes it's something minor - maybe a sore back from the western saddle or even an abscess brewing. We also did get hung up in a tree branch a few days ago, which resulted in some interesting acrobatics - perhaps she strained something there. The branch was large but had a sharp end someone had cut (probably to clear the trail) that managed to get wedged in my stirrup beside my foot. It was of course tangled up in some other brush so you can imagine how Ginger felt about that. The resulting meltdown was fairly minor by Ginger standards, so it's only now I'm wondering if she hurt herself somehow.

If this continues I'll have the farrier out to see what he can find, then the vet out for an evaluation, and probably send him a video to look at for the time being. We will have to wait 2 weeks until he returns to see him in person though :( Despite being a 'city' of 20,000, we're pretty geographically isolated, so we don't have a large animal vet. Probably 4 or 5 small animal vets, but they'll only come to see horses if it's a super emergency (basically only to euthanize in case of accident). I'm not sure how it works in the states, but in Canada there's a huge shortage of equine vets - unless you live in or near a major centre you're most likely out of luck. After much begging and pleading, we have a vet from Vancouver Island coming over once a month. We're lucky in that he is actually one of the best in Canada (and is a farrier too!) - but it's given me crazy anxiety on more than one occasion when I've been stuck being talked through something on the phone rather than having him here in person!

Here's hoping she's feeling better soon - we're due for some good news and I'm way too much of a worrier :)

Her paddock is on the back side of the barn so we have to go through the barn to get there. If no ones around I usually let her graze out front of the barn while I put her tack away and clean her shelter. I call her when I'm ready. Photographic proof she comes when I call - usually!:

Monday, 12 November 2012

Finally!

I made it back in the saddle for a short ride this morning. The british weatherman on the news this evening described the weather here today as "filthy". I honestly didn't notice - I was loving being back riding too much to care about a little cold rain. Ginger was excited to be out as well but used the extra weeks worth of energy for good rather than evil. She even got us safely over a tree that had fallen halfway down a very steep and narrow trail. I let her figure it out and she found a section where she could pretty much step over it safely and get on flatter ground. Smart pony! G came along for the hike too to make sure I didn't need help. He's a keeper.
My back aches but in the well worth it kind of way.
Oh, and the boots fit and work really well!
I've missed this view:

Monday, 5 November 2012

I feel old!

This past Friday, I volunteered some hours at the club grounds. The project was to replace the perimeter fencing around the main ring and to rebuild the first ten show stalls. I'm happy to report that everyone pulled together and got it done and it looks amazing! I'm not so happy to report that at the end of the day I bent down to retrieve my tools and felt something in my lower back snap. Which led to an embarrassing day or two of needing the wonderful G to help me with everything from getting out of bed to washing my hair while I babbled total painkiller induced nonsense at him. An extra reminder for everyone to look after themselves and keep a strong and fit core so this doesn't happen to you. I was not so smart in my early 20's and am paying the price now. I do hope to be back in the saddle next weekend. For now, I've been watching a ton of training videos - Horse and Country TV and HorseHero.com are probably noticing the increased traffic. I also spent time seriously sulking when the sun came out and I had multiple friends calling to go riding.

Today, the sun stayed out and G and I went for a short walk. G brought Ginger along for me, which was really nice - I think she gets bored standing in her paddock all day and I was missing her! She leads beautifully, but I don't think I could handle holding her at the moment if she spooked. She was so good for him. He even got her ready by picking her feet and grooming all the areas I can't reach right now and she was super patient with him. He's wondering if he really wants another dog to walk or whether he should take Ginger now and then instead. Maybe he should just start a pony walking service :) I was a bit slow and unsteady and sore but it was worth it. It was a really nice afternoon, and I'm left feeling incredibly appreciative of what a good guy G is and what a great pony Ginger is. I'm a lucky girl.

Hoping I feel better soon and I'll actually have something interesting to report!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Boots or Shoes?

Our grey and wet weather continues on. Here's how it looked this afternoon on the way to the trails (at least it had stopped raining!):
Kind of makes me want to stay inside with a bowl of soup, a warm blanket, and a good movie.

After the farriers visit on Monday, I put on all my rain gear and made it out for a couple of nice rides. Ginger was a little bit ouchy on the first, which I attributed to her fresh trim. The second ride a couple of days later got progressively worse to the point where I got off and walked her on the rougher parts. I cancelled todays ride with a friend and instead took Ginger along for my hike to evaluate where we were at. I ended up standing on the logging road letting her graze while I researched hoof boots:(
The difference in the last few weeks is obvious even to me - we'd probably have a great case study here on the effects of keeping your horse on soft, wet ground. No thrush or any of that, thank goodness, I'm pretty vigilant about keeping her feet clean. But soft, wet, easily bruised feet - yep, we're getting those.
Best case scenario I'd get her out of the wet paddock she's in. We do own a piece of property with a pasture, gravel paddock, small barn and even a cute farmhouse. The catch? It's rented. And they're good tenants we'd like to keep. I still not so secetly hope they move, so I can take over and have my pony at home again:) Alternate boarding arrangements simply aren't available - I say thats a business opportunity, G says thats a lot of work and money, besides aren't horse people all crazy? He's probably right. So, I was left today with my sore pony on a rocky, deserted road researching boots vs shoes.
I'm going to try the boots simply because I think she'll only need them 2-3 times a week for trails - she's fine on the roads and in the ring and I expect will be fine again on the trails too when her paddock dries up again. I have a set for Lainey and they've come in handy more than once when she's not shod. The trick will be to find large, round boots to fit cob feet. I've done a bit of research on line and the 'Renegade' brand boots appear like they should come in her size since they do have a wide and a double wide option. Guess who would need double wides? - just don't say anything, we don't want to give the poor girl a complex. I  have some endurance rider friends who swear by the Renegades as well. I'm tempted by the fun colors, too :)
Renegades: (http://www.renegadehoofboots.com )
I may or may not have got lucky, though, because on my trip to the tack store this afternoon for a desperately needed new halter for Ginger, I noticed they had a small selection of boots. Not only that, they are on a 50% off sale. The owner apologized that they're just clearing out the 'giant' sizes no one buys. How convenient ;) So I'm here at home with a pair of Old Mac's to try on Ginny in the morning. I'm not sure about them, the size chart says they may be a bit off as far as fit goes, and they seem pretty big and clunky. Ginger has been known to forge on occassion, so the chance of her catching herself on the extra size of them worries me a bit. It seems to be more of a pasture thing than a riding thing though, so we may be ok. Fingers crossed they fit, because the price is right and I'm already getting riding withdrawls.
Old Macs: (http://www.easycareinc.com/Our_Boots/old_macs_G2/old_macs_g2.aspx)



Random shot of Ginny warming up for our adventures. Her mane is getting pretty unruly - I'm wavering over whether I'm just going to let it grow out.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Not much new here

Welcome to the world's most boring blog! We are trapped for the winter on a cold and rainy island where not much happens...ever :)

The weather has been downright depressing, but I have been getting out somewhat regularly to ride, maybe every second day or so. Ginger probably needs a little more than that to stay totally sane. She's been a bit more like her old self lately - in a good cheeky and fun way of course. We've put in quite a few miles on the trails and she just gets better and better. We've now crossed very busy roads, waded through nearly belly deep 'puddles', snuck down narrow trails with overhanging branches brushing her all over,  climbed steep rock faces, crossed bridges, and wandered the wide open spaces. She's even seen other trail users out and about, on everything from their own two feet to motorbikes to other horses. As typical with most Gingersnap Adventures, all of these things at one time or another were a Big Deal. Every day she is more and more reliable, though, which is something I love about her - when it comes down to it she's probably the most intelligent horse I've ever dealt with and learns from her experiences very quickly.

The ring has basically been flooded out the past couple of weeks due to the excessive rain and what seems to be a failed attempt to improve the footing/drainage a couple of summers ago. It's really too sad, the club got a large grant to replace the footing and the drainage and we were so excited, but somehow the work made it worse. Its almost like they added to much sand and didn't compact it properly.  It really wasnt too bad previously, now it's a bit worrying. After Lainey's suspensory injury a couple of years ago I am scared of soft, deep footing.  I've been steering clear of much ring work these days. Lets hope conditions dry up a bit and I can avoid buying a pass for the indoor a little longer.

Ginger had her feet done this morning by my most excellent farrier. After all the farrier drama of the past couple of years, it's a wonderful treat to come back here and have someone I know and trust a phone call away. He immediately sussed out her strengths and weaknesses and got to work correcting some issues that needed addressing. As I'm sure you've all seen from the pictures, she has nice straight legs with good angles and nice sized feet. On the downside, she's quite long backed and has a weaker hindquarter than what you'd expect given her front end. Visually, I can see all this, but it's fascinating to have my farrier show me how that affects or doesn't affect her feet. My understanding of what I learned today : Because she is a bit conformationally unbalanced back to front, her front feet are flatter that what would be ideal and tend to flare if not kept up to date. Luckily, they do wear quite evenly and are healthy and strong so we`re still ok to be barefoot this time around. He was showing me where they are being affected by the significant change in footing and climate out here though, and can`t guarantee she won`t need shoes or boots as the winter progresses if she continues to stand in the wet and I want to ride rocky trails. Sadly, besides her stall and the trails up the mountain there isn`t a whole lot of uber dry ground to be found around here at the moment. She seems to be partial to standing in a little muddy hollow in the back of her paddock as well so she can socialize with other horses over the fence - buying a load or two of gravel may be in my future. Às for her back feet, they were very unbalanced laterally - he suspects that was an oversight from the previous farrier, but something we`ll keep an eye on in case does partly wear them like that naturally. Overall, he liked what he saw and was quite taken with her. Of course, she was terrified of the poor man. She stood quietly but had to snort and sound like she was hyperventilating the whole time he trimmed her. Lets hope next time she`s a little more friendly with him. I`m the girl that previously always had the overgrown rescue or the baby with no manners given to me, which of course always got sold or passed on once they were healthy and had good manners so the cycle could begin again. I`m kind of thinking its time I gave him a break and had an èasy`horse or two - I`m starting to appreciate more and more how good he is at his job and need to keep him around :)

Again, no pictures - the weather has been very dark and rainy so all my pictures look like I took them in the middle of the night :(

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Anti Social

Ginny and I went for another solo trail ride this afternoon. I'm beginning to think we both needed a time out and I didn't realize it. I feel a bit guilty because I've had a few invitations for clinics and group trail rides. I feel like I should be out supporting the club and catching up with my riding buddies but really all I want to do is sneak out on the back roads and go for a nice relaxing trail ride with Ginny. We pretty much keep it to a brisk walk and enjoy the quiet and the scenery. From my point of view, I'm still interested in being a better rider and training Ginny, so I'm sure I'll be signing up for some more interesting things soon. For now, though, I'm still recharging and am enjoying having little to no schedules or demands. You'll have to put up with pictures of random roads and trails framed by Ginny's ears for a bit more. Here's one from Tuesday:
 Welsome to the coast - the deciduous trees are still leafy and green. Its a bit surreal, even for here.

I'm still trying to figure out Ginny's perspective. She's obviously very happy exploring the trails. She meets me at the gate, follows me around everywhere and gets excited when I take her out to tack up. She also either has the worlds worst sense of direction or she doesn't want to go home, since she consistently has to be directed back to the barn - she'll try to keep on going past the trails home. Funny how she knows how to find the trails out though.

What I'm currently puzzling over is the fact that my ride at the ring this morning was vintage Ginger - all spooky silliness. As soon as we hit the trails after she was essentially bomb proof - we even went past an operating gravel pit and a machine clearing the forest in our travels today. If even a toy version of this stuff ended up anywhere near the ring there would be some interesting antics - yet somehow its all cool and we are playing dude ranch pony, marching quietly past :


I'm left wondering if she's simply bored in the ring and creating a little pony drama or whether there's more to it. My gut says it's the latter. I'm still thinking this one over, and I'm pretty content to do so on the trail. This could take a while :)

I've got a ride to the lake planned tomorrow . The weather has been rainy and horrible for a couple of weeks now so I get to feel all awesome and dedicated for continuing to ride outside.  Really, I'm getting tired of climbing back into the truck and feeling like I've showered with my clothes on. G is tired of me bringing horsey gear home to dry in the basement. It smells like a barn down there, apparently. I pretend not to notice  ;) Here's the view from my window tonight - I hope that means we'll still be seeing some sun in the morning:
 
If not, I'll probably pout like a little kid, then go buy a pass for the indoor riding arena. I'm pretty spoiled these days - my biggest concern is usually whether its going to rain when I head out to ride. First world problems, right?

Monday, 22 October 2012

Weekend Away

We left very early this past Friday morning for a fun weekend away. Since this is a super isolated town, we like to escape now and again :) We got to Vancouver around noon and both decided since we had tickets for a football game later in the day, it would be too much to try to fit in a couple of hours at the horse expo, especially when it's about an hours drive outside the city. Besides, our hotel room ended up being pretty awesome and it seemed a waste not to spend some time there! So, a completely horse free day - how crazy is that! I admit to being a little disappointed, but I was so tired it was nice to not have to rush around the whole day.

Saturday was all about the horses. First off, we watched a couple of the Trainer's Challenge sessions. They have three trainers with 4 one hour sessions over the three days to get their horse ready for an evaluation consisting of W/T/C and some obstacles under saddle. G always finds them super interesting - I usually seem to get annoyed by them.

 Trainer #1 was a younger guy from Australia and it was immediately apparent he knew what he was doing. There was a whole lot happening with his body language and timing and he was getting things done while apparently standing around telling jokes to the crowd. I liked how his first 'ride' consisted of just hopping on bareback with a halter and lead and immediately sliding back off  even when the horse seemed super accepting. He called that good and ended a bit early. I still hated how rushed the whole thing felt, and how little he explained what he was doing. He made it look so easy on the surface and didn't explain or even acknowledge all the more subtle stuff going on, instead wanting you to believe that you need to buy into his 'program' to learn.. The horse seemed very sweet, but I got the feeling it was really overwhelmed, which I found a bit unfair and upsetting.

Trainer #2 was a female trainer from California and she seemed to be a bit nervous about being in front of so many people. The announcer mentioned her session on Friday went super well - she was riding her horse around all tacked up by the end. This time, her horse was saying loud and clear that he'd had enough! He was rearing, not wanting to go forward, as well as biting and threatening to kick and strike. I found it odd she didn't try to address any of that - she said he was just anxious and would get over it with some saddle time. Meanwhile, I got the feeling he was turning into a big bully.I didn't see how he'd behave any different under saddle.  She got him saddled and bridled and he got her in the leg with a front hoof once, then almost had a big wreck trying to climb out of the pen with her in the saddle. Ouch.

 I'd had enough, so we went and explored the trade stands for a bit. I'm sad to report I bought nothing. There were a few good sales, but not on anything I needed badly enough to want to tote around the rest of the day. I was hoping to find Ginger a rainsheet. but I didn't see many on sale and her size had sold out the day before. We spent some time checking out trailers. I'm glad we did, because the one I had my eye on looks a tiny bit too small for Ginger in person. We found another one that is absolutely beautiful, but sadly a little over budget. We got the guys card though, because they do clear out the previous years models from time to time. G bought me a giant chunk of chocolate fudge as a consolation gift ;) The place was a zoo, and the food lineups were about an hour long, so we elected to pop out for a nice lunch. After a year and a half of living in different cities, I'm still finding it a bit of a novelty to just be able to have a spur of the moment lunch date with my sweetie.

When we returned, they had a welsh pony and cob demo! There was only one Sec D there, and he was a bit unruly and just being led around, but it was still neat to see another one in person. He was absolutely gorgeous - much more traditional conformation than Ginger so it was interesting for me to see the difference in person. He was impeccably groomed too - I wish I could get Ginger looking like that. I kind of wanted to take him home, even though I think he was scaring the audience a bit.

Following that, we saw a dressage demo which was fun and interesting, although very very basic since the audience seemed to be mostly new to dressage and just there to see what it's about. The clinician was Cesar Parra and I thought he did a good job keeping it simple for the newbies, but still adding a bit of useful advice for those who are a little more advanced. I sat and watched a hunter jumper clinic as well which was loads of fun - I just want to know how they make it look so EASY?

Following that, we popped back over to the Trainers Challenge since G was interested to see how the female trainer was going to make out in her second session. I was impressed with her because the first thing she talked about was how she was nervous about being in front of so many people and how she really played it wrong in the session before because she didn't want to get after her horse and have people think she was being mean to him. I have to respect that because I think we've all been there a bit at some point. She had a much better session with her horse, although there were still a few scary moments since he wasn't going to give up testing her quite that easily! I have to admire her toughness and 'just get it done' attitude, but it seemed like things didn't ever need to be so hard or confrontational. Mostly, I felt for the horse, who had really just had enough and needed a day or three to think things over a bit.

We stayed later for the little show they put on Saturday night, so we got to see some drill teams, liberty demos, breed demos, and even some trick riding. G saw some tricks he wants to teach Ginny :
;)

Once again, we ended up with the worlds best hotel room - this one was more of an apartment and even had a big picture of a welsh pony on the living room wall! Come Sunday G wanted to head back to watch the finals of the trainers challenge but I was sort of burnt out on behalf of those poor horses. Its tough because he's genuinely interested and I want to encourage that and not be too negative - on the other hand I really feel those 3 day training things are unfair to the horses. I did want to see a clinic 'All About the Canter" with a local guy who is excellent. Canter is what Ginny and I need the most help with. We were still facing an 8 hour trip home, so in the end, we decided to call it a good weekend and head home a bit early so G could get to bed at a reasonable hour for work the next day.

I'm off now to check in on Ginny. The sun is shining and it looks to be a beautiful day for a ride.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

17 Days

Hi, my name is Ginger and I've been a Really Good Pony for 17 days now.














In the last 17 days, I've:

-Moved to a new home and not caused any serious property damage.














-Showed off my skills at a new venue without endangering my rider.


-Gone for my first trail ride.














-Stuck my toe in a big lake



















-And today, I showed another horse my trails without once being scared, even when she was behind me.













We won't talk about that squash I stole from the garden and didn't eat,













Or the beautiful hairdo I got the other day while exploring.


















Til next time!






Sunday, 14 October 2012

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

It was miserable this morning even by BC coast standards. When I woke up early this morning to wish Mr G a good day at work, I could hear the wind and rain and happily snuggled back into bed. Sadly, pretending it was all a bad dream didn't work - the weather didn't seem to be clearing when I woke up again 3 hours later. A quick look out the window confirmed everyone seemed to be hiding inside, and the only boat visible on the water belonged to the Coast Guard. I had planned to volunteer at the club grounds this morning, helping to fix our show stalls for next season. Thankfully, the worst of the rain held off for a couple of hours and we got a good amount of work done. I'm forever impressed by our little club. Probably half the members and even some non members showed up today in truly miserable weather to dismantle our old stalls and make room for new, bigger and better stalls for next year. While I do love the barn in Alberta, the sense of community with our group here on the coast is amazing and so far I've yet to find anywhere that can compare. Besides, it's just generally kind of awesome to be surrounded by women very capably using power tools, tractors and chainsaws. It's a good thing Mr G was at work - he might have got a bit intimidated by us all :) I believe a fun time was had by all, even with the weather. I know I had a great time catching up with old friends and it always feels good to give a little back to the club. It's  humbling to look around at our beautiful grounds and facilities and realize that every single bit of it was accomplished through volunteer work and donations.  Membership is also ridiculously inexpensive at $30 a year - after paying 'real world' prices in Alberta you can bet I gently remind everyone here just how lucky we are!

I didn't end up riding today, poor Ginger's rainsheet is apparently NOT waterproof anymore. I ended up moving her to a paddock with a shelter and a big pile of hay so she can dry out. I feel guilty about her being out in the wind and rain last night with a wet blanket. The temperatures are still really mild so I thought she'd be happier out in the pasture with a rainsheet than locked in the barn - obviously not considering her rainsheet might not be up to BC rain standards! She seemed her usual cheery self though, and all was forgiven with an apple ;) I think I'll leave her in the paddock now for the winter. I don't think she'd be overly happy locked in a stall at night, and since not all the turnouts for the stalled horses have shelters, it may be best to just call 'dibs' on the paddock she's in and leave it at that so I always know she has a dry place to hang out if she chooses. I love to shop for horse gear so I'll still be getting her a new, non leaky, rainsheet. I don't think I'll clip her this year, so a good rainsheet should suffice, with a warm fleece liner for the couple of weeks we get of freezing weather.

The good news is I managed to get out for a ride yesterday. The storm was getting warmed up yesterday so we had some wind and rain and Ginger was a bit on edge. I skipped the free photo session, as pictures of a wide eyed Ginger and me freezing and wet didn't really appeal to me! Instead, Mr G came with me for a hike, so I was brave enough to hit the trails regardless of Ginger's behaviour. We very intelligently decided to head up the mountain, so within about 10 minutes of packing me up the hill, Ginger suddenly decided to be the sensible trail pony I love. Funny how that works, although it does make me wonder if I need to go on a diet ;) She was convinced Mr G was actually leading her around, which was a bit funny at times as he would randomly walk over to check something out or start to jog and she'd try to mirror him if I didnt remind her I was riding. She was really, really well behaved. I opted to get off and lead her for a cool down (and me for a warm up jog!) the last 10 minutes or so towards home. Mr G ended up leading her and I was, as always, so pleased at how careful she is with him. As I've mentioned before there aren't a whole lot of people that she'll trust, so it makes me very happy that she's chosen him to be part of the select few. I appreciate that she doesn't take advantage of the fact that he's not overly experienced, either, if anything she is more careful with him than me. She even stood tolerantly while he petted her and told her not to worry when a car drove by. I didn't have the heart to tell him she's fine with vehicles, it was just too cute.

I've got a ride planned for tomorrow on my own at the ring. I'm really itching to work on that canter a bit and we're having fun doing gymnastics over poles. Then a ride with friends either Tuesday or Wednesday, then Friday we leave for a long weekend away. I'll try to fit in a couple of extra rides this week since she'll have Fri/Sat/Sun/Mon off. I'm still all motivated to get ready for the shows we've got planned for the spring. We'll see how long that lasts, though - a few more days with weather like today and this blog may go suspiciously quiet :)

I'm happy to be back, and while I really miss my job (and the Alberta sunshine!), every day makes me more and more certain I've made the right choices. I can feel the stress melting away-to the point where I wonder if that's part of the reason for Ginger's big turnaround of late. Zen rider = Zen horse? Could be a topic for a whole new post!

No pics today - they all have G in them along with Ginger and although I'm sure he'd let me put them here if I asked, he's pretty private and shy so I won't. You'll just have to trust me that he exists and he is awesome. I'm going to have to start calling him something other than G or Mr G on here too - it's a bit confusing even for me when my horse has a "G" name too!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Trail Pony Deluxe

I gave Ginger a break Monday, but we have been back in action the last couple of days. 
On Tuesday,  as is becoming our routine, we stopped at the club grounds for a quick warm up. I was proud of her for not calling or acting silly. She had reason to be silly, because just as we arrived, there was a trailer pulling out, leaving us alone in the ring. The neighbouring therapy horses and riders were out doing a trail ride around the perimeter of the grounds. Since the grounds are quite thickly treed, you end up seeing them popping in and out of view, which some of the green horses find a bit unsettling. Ginger was certainly aware of them, but did her best to focus on me. I lunged her, then set up a bunch of cones and some ground poles and we did some patterns just for the fun of it. Since the ring is absolutely huge ( we can fit 4 full size dressage arenas in there and have room left over for a warm up area), I find it very helpful to have some visual cues as a reminder to stay straight and ask for proper circles and transitions. Left to my own devices, I tend to wander around a bit lost in there and my straight lines end up anything but :) Ginger seemed a bit sluggish and slow off my leg today, so I ended up playing with the spacing of the ground poles to help get a livelier trot without me having to nag. Looking cute in her lunging get-up:

The best part of our ride occurred after I opened the gate to head home. Ginger knew where to go and set off up the hill and on to the old logging road without any hesitation. She carried me home like a seasoned pro, even passing some 'scary' woodcutters that were up in the bush where we could only hear them. Again, she was pretty slow and steady for her normal self, even as we got closer to home and could hear her new best friend screaming for her. I'm left wondering what's going on with this new quiet pony (and how I can keep it!).

Yesterday, we ventured up to the lake. I skipped the usual warm up routine and I probably shouldn't have as she was pretty on edge for the first bit - I had the old Ginny back for a half hour or so. It's about an hour and a half round trip and she was nearly perfect on the way home. I still don't completely trust her in traffic, but out on the trails I'm nearly there and let her walk on a loose rein the majority of the way. Here's a view of the lake - sadly a very dismal grey and foggy day yesterday (there are actually fair size mountains hidden back there!):
 
After much snorting and with eyes bugging out of her head, Ginger managed to stick a toe in, And then immediately got the idea that this is essentially a giant water bucket and started splashing around quite happily. Another successful day.
 
The weather is kind of stinky again today (Welcome to the "Wet" Coast!) but I'm hoping Mr G will come out and take a few photos of me actually riding Ginger. Those are in super short supply on this blog, I realize. I was looking through the computer, and even with owning Lainey 5 years now, I have one set of riding pictures, and they're all from the same show 2 years ago! So, I'm hoping to reverse that trend. I'm hearing there is also a photography student from the college coming out on Saturday to take some pictures for her portfolio. I'm hoping to make it to that so I can have some decent photos of us.
 
No clinics booked as yet, I think we're both enjoying a break. I do have a few rides with friends planned over the next couple of weeks, as well as a trip to Vancouver for "The Mane Event", which is a horsey expo and should be lots of fun


Sunday, 7 October 2012

Tired!

I'm not used to all this activity-I've been stuck behind a desk too long!
Here's a quick weekend recap:
Saturday:
I took Ginger down to the club grounds/ring in the morning. She was excellent. I led her down the road and was happy I did since there must be construction somewhere. Dump trucks, backhoes, cube vans, you name it, it drove by. Ginger needed time to look but did just fine. We had a nice little ride at the ring after that. I got to catch up with some old friends and Ginger got to meet some new ones. She's still a bit unsure about letting new people or horses in her giant sense of personal space, but overall she was a very well behaved girl and seemed to enjoy the outing.
Later in the afternoon, I went out for a trail ride to the lake with another boarder. We tried out a palomino Curly horse we named Sarge. He seems like a been there done that no nonsense sort of guy so Sarge seemed to fit. Sounds like the barn owner was given him when he needed a new home. Lucky for all involved as I think he'll fit in just fine and stay a while. Yesterday ended up being a lot more hours in the saddle than I'm used to, I literally couldn't keep my eyes open last night and went to bed at 8 o'clock :)
Today:
I was still dragging myself around this morning so I didn't head out to ride Ginger until later in the morning. I'm hoping she likes the new barn because she is a lot more friendly and relaxed this past week that normal. Today she ran up to the gate to meet me and stood quietly without being tied for a good grooming. We headed back down to the ring for a quick lunge and warm up ride. Liking how relaxed she was, I decided there's no time like the present and we headed our for our first trail ride. I'm proud to say she didn't put a foot wrong and just generally seemed to really be enjoying herself. We were all by ourselves, too. Who knew my anxious, sensitive little mare would take a liking to trail riding? I'm ashamed to admit up until last week I didn't have much faith! She packed me up and down hills and through rocks and puddles like she's done it a thousand times before. I couldn't have been happier with her and I think she knew it - she seemed pretty proud of herself for looking after me so well ;)
Since Ginger did all the work, I headed out for a hike after our ride. It's been the best weekend in a long time, but I think it will be another early night!

Blurry, but heres the photographic evidence of our trail ride:


Friday, 5 October 2012

Fitness Hike Day 2

Ginger was a total star. We huffed and puffed our way up the mountain and then enjoyed the scenery on the way back down. It was obvious she was enjoying herself and she was very brave with all the new sights and sounds. I think tomorrow after our ride at the ring we'll test the waters with an actual trail ride. Ginger is going to be busy this winter being a riding pony and a workout buddy too!

Checking out the view:

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Fitness Program - Day 1

Since I'm home again I have a laptop - no more posting from my iphone at work. Which means you get to see lots more pictures and possibly some better spelling :)

Mr G got called in for a night shift last night, which means he needed peace and quiet this morning while he slept. The perfect excuse to head up to the barn!

I love this sign above the barn door, it's like they knew we were coming :)



Ginny was still picking away at her breakfast when I arrived. Silly girl has been a bit off her food the last few days. I'm thinking it's partly because we transitioned her back to hay for winter and partly the stress of the move. She's never been super food oriented and this is the first time I've had her in her own paddock, so her leaving hay may not even be that unusual - I wouldn't have noticed with the Lainey vacuum hanging around. Something to keep an eye on, though, since she is due for her teeth to be done/checked. They feel fine to me, but it's been a little over a year since they were done last. Shes quite happy to eat her treats so it can't be too bad ;)

I gave her a good grooming and took her for a walk down the road to the club grounds and ring. She was a bit upset to leave her new friends and was calling a little bit. On the plus side she barely paid attention to the scrap metal dealer and the multiple cars that passed us on the way.

She was a bit 'up' by the time we got to the ring - the horses in the neighbouring barn were calling back to her a bit and she was desperate to go meet them. We had to have a little discussion about who's in charge and a reminder to listen to me a bit more carefully. She lunged fairly quietly, partly because she was unsure in the new place and I really had to ask for forward, and partly because I suspect she's still a bit tired from the trip. I kept it very easy for her and gave her lots of praise, trying to give her a positive first experience there. All in all, not bad at all for her first adventure to a new arena.
Looking worried at the ring -also check out the fabulous part mohawk :(
We then made our way back to the barn via an old logging road that parallels the actual road to the barn, only up on a side hill. We had to go up a super steep and narrow trail to get up there and we were both puffing by the time we made it up. Its uneven and rocky as well, and poor Ginger had no clue where to put those big feet. I think in a way I was making it a bit more difficult, because after our discussion at the ring she was trying very hard to be a good girl and match her pace to mine.
I was  pleased with her because she did figure out very quickly how to put her head down and pay attention to the ground. It sounds so simple, but I've ridden more than one greenie on those trails that don't really 'get it' for a long time - they're too busy checking out their surroundings, and as a result, trip and stumble every time the ground changes. I was also very happy that those big Ginger feet tackled the rocks and stones without any soreness. Yay welsh cob feet!
 
 I'm glad I chose to take her out for a walk today rather than ride - it worked out really really well and I think it was a good way to introduce her to everything. I've also committed to getting out for a good hike every day and there is a ton of bear poop on the trails, so for me it's quite nice to have Ginger along for added security. Fingers crossed, the bears here are usually pretty timid and run away. I used to work as a park ranger and was responsible for monitoring all the bears in a park up north, so I'm usually a little more confident about keeping safe around them than most. There are so many around here it's kind of accepted you're going to see them in the more rural areas on a regular basis - and you'd better pick your fruit trees, otherwise they'll come visit you at home too! A couple of years ago I was out riding Lainey and one crossed our path and was a bit curious about us. I yelled at it, and it ran away, but the best part was Lainey pinned her ears and tossed her head at it too - I guess all the times it ran away before made her brave!
I've been offered rides in another young, but quiet horse at the barn as well as an older, been there, done that type. There's also Sadie, who I rode previously. She just had time off to have a foal, and is also young and green, but super quiet and sweet. So, if I want I can ride every day and the option to pony Ginger on the trails is there too. Based on today, though, I think we'll be fine - she handled all the new experiences better than most and seemed especially content once we got on the trail.