Monday, 28 May 2012

Things Ginger is Scared of: Pythons.

Pythons are tricky. Most of the time they lie curled up in a tack locker or a grooming tote, sleeping quietly, and are no cause for concern.It’s when they uncoil to show their true size and unpredictability that they areincredibly dangerous and something to run from. They are particularly dangerous in the wind, when they strike out in Ginger’s general direction and cause untold trauma. She has seen other horses caught by them. Their method ofattack seems to be stealthy, in which they coil around an unsuspecting horses leg and slowly suck the life from them. Humans seem unaware of the threat, and in fact, handle the pythons regularly. Ginger is not so sure this is a good idea.

Things Ginger is Scared of : Panthers.

Ginger's nemesis. There are two of them and they are identical. (No, I'm not even going to try to come up with the plural of nemesis- hopefully there isn't one so that the other horses in the world only have one to plague their dreams ;)
They are worth at least one good spook a day...they lie in wait on fence posts, arena rails, sometimes even boldly blocking the barn door and trapping her inside. Sometimes they hide in the bushes and the only way you know is the rustling of the branches. If you're ever wondering where they are, rest assured, they are somewhere...watching you!

Sunshine and Trail Rides

Well, this IS Alberta, so the trail consists more of an old road right of way through a hayfield. Not very adventurous and Lainey was thinking we were just heading out to graze, like "Whats the point of this, we're not really going anywhere, so we might as well just stay here and enjoy all this delicious grass..."
No matter, it was super nice to escape the  confines of the arena and we had yet another beautiful day to enjoy. You can tell I'm from the Pacific Northwest by the fact that I am in awe every time the sun shines. Which is basically every day here. People are probably starting to wonder if I worship some obscure sun cult or something.
I also gave Ginger a good clean up...those big white hairy legs are proving difficult to keep even remotely clean. Someone has also managed to rub a big patch of mane out by reaching through the fence boards for grass. She's so funny, her paddock is next to the outdoor tie area where we tack up, groom, etc in the summer. She gets a bit perturbed that the people are not paying attention to her and likes to show off for everyone. She's apparently getting a bit of a reputation as a diva. Imagine that. ;)
Next time I'll pony her out as well. Lainey was pretty full of it this weekend and I am barely adequate to handle one wild pony, let alone two :)
In even more good news, I've found some people to carpool with for weekday lessons and weekend rides. That will be huge, since part of what has been limiting my visits is the fact is about $40 in gas each time.
I'm planning to stay at the current place at least a couple of more months. Trainer girl does such a nice job with Ginger that I want to hold out as long as possible.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Lainey

Well, it looks like she's going to stay with me, so Ginger will have to share her blog :) Since they are BFFs I don't think they'll mind. The girl who was leasing Lainey doesn't have the time and won't be buying her. My first reaction was relief, and I decided on the spot that I'm just going to have to suck it up and be the princess with two horses to ride and the bills that go with them. As a result, I will not exactly be living a princess-ey lifestyle.
Plan A is to move them super close to here. The downside? The place has no facilities to speak of, just a giant pasture and a sketchy outdoor arena. The upside? Super close. Super cheap. And the horses there all look very healthy and happy. And 160 acres of turnout would equal some very happy ponies. If I go with plan A I will be investing in a trailer so I can trailer to an indoor in the winter and also keep up with lessons at the place I currently boarding. I love where I am, it's just too far away and mega $ for the two girls plus the gas and time to get there. The farrier there is also awesome, so I hope to trailer back for farrier appts too!

Most importantly, I had a good ride on Ms Lainey today. Well, actually, it started out kind of bad, I suspect she has been calling the shots the last couple of months. Why am I not surprised? ;) We had a few 'discussions', mostly regarding her renewed love of racing around on the forehand hauling on her rider. I didn't wear gloves and got blisters :( I think I've become much more confident thanks to Ginger. Honestly, a few months ago I wouldn't have wanted to pick this particular fight in the mood Lainey was in. I used the trick a western coach showed me back when Lainey was quite green and this was an issue. The answer then was rollbacks. As soon as she gets too fast and starts to pull, sit deep, half halt, ask nicely. No response? - rollback. Then ask again for a civilized trot. Repeat as necessary. She remembered, and after a bit of a tantrum, settled into a very nice trot...the kind I wish we'd get every time. Still very forward and open, but not rushing, round and relaxed.
We followed that up with the best canter work she has ever given me. She's mostly TB and has a huge stride for a little horse. Combine that with a low headset and being a bit downhill and it feels sometimes like there is no horse in front of me and I'm falling off a cliff...very quickly! Today though, we got a real canter, powerful, uphill, but again, relaxed and not rushing. I even got a gorgeous collected canter for a few strides. That probably just made my week, heck maybe my month! For Ginger these things just come easily, for Lainey they are much harder so I appreciate how hard she was trying at the end of our ride today.
I am looking forward to riding them both again, they are very different and the change is nice. Here's some comparisons:
Lainey: bombproof-traffic, dogs, wildlife, you name it.
Ginger: terrified.
Lainey: Heavy, pushy.
Ginger: Soft, responsive.
Lainey: Tall, thin
Ginger: Round!
Lainey: hunter movement
Ginger: dressage
Lainey: opinionated,bossy
Ginger: wants to be your best friend
Lainey: doesn't like other horses
Ginger: social butterfly
Lainey: loves people
Ginger: only if she knows you.

Heres the view from Lainey's back!

Friday, 25 May 2012

Gym Rat

As I'm sure I've mentioned many times, not being able to ride regularly is driving me up the wall...or in this case to the gym. In an effort to stay in decent riding shape I've been spending most of my evenings at the gym. I am short, but certainly not small, and not exactly built like a ballet dancer. I doubt I'll have any amazing weight loss stories for you, but hopefully I can get my fitness back to where it needs to be and be a step or two ahead strength wise when I can get back into a more regular routine with the horses.
I'm incredibly driven to become a better rider and this situation is frustrating.
We had some bad news on the Mr G front in that the place he works at has gone bankrupt and is now being sold to the highest bidder, who will likely close the business and sell the assets. So on a good note, he'll be coming out to work here or wherever else I end up. On a sad note, I won't be getting to go home and go back to my old life.
I'm thinking this is a good opportunity/time for a move to somewhere we can both have it all. Am I the only one who applies for a job AFTER I check out the local equestrian centers and trainers? Forget practicalities like housing for myself ;)

The weather is supposed to be decent this weekend, which is good, because once again I'll be horsin' around all weekend!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

A day at the races

With G here this past weekend, horse time came in the form of a day at the track this past Monday. Monday was a holiday, and when we woke up in the morning the weather was perfect for a day out. Off we went on a 2.5 hour drive to Northlands Park. (I know, it sounds like we must be super devoted race fans, but G had to fly out the following morning and wanted to be in the general area anyways)
I know some people won't support racing due to the many potential welfare issues. I'm a bit on the fence. The horses we see at the track look, without exception, incredibly well cared for. More so than the good majority of "normal" horses. I see a lot of "city" families out with their kids and think its a great way to introduce them to horses. The outriders and even some of the TB grooms are great about bringing the horses up to the fence to say hi to the kids. The track had free balloons, cotton candy and facepainting as well, and the feel was definitely a family picnic afternoon rather than the stereotyped seedy gambling den. I just love thoroughbreds as a breed and there is a whole lot of eye candy at the track! I'm not sure what the statistics are in this area as far as injuries or where the horses go when they're done at the track. There are many people training them for hunters or eventers or even western games horses, so I'd like to think many go on to good homes. Long term planning certainly includes us being one or more of those homes :)
Still torn whether I'm heading to the coast or not. If we bought acreage here I'd be awfully content and we'd certainly get a lot more for our $. The horses would be on site with us which would give me so much time to ride! But home on the coast is good too, with riding time and opportunities available there as well.
Mostly I am frustrated that trainer girl and my horses are 1.5 hours away and there doesn't seem to be anything suitable closer. This is a small city, but most of the horse community is into reining or cowhorse events and I'm finding it to be pretty private - there doesn't seem to be a real boarding or lesson barn of any type.
Coming from an isolated community I can be pretty self sufficient if I have to be and I do like that there are lessons and clinics out there within a couple of hours drive. That should be doable every week or two. We won't be getting anywhere fast, but we'll get there.

Number seven wins us some $ for a nice dinner out:

Monday, 21 May 2012

Fantastic Weekend!

Me G came out to visit as a last minute surprise and I've managed to get a couple of days off work as well.
We went out to see the horses yesterday and I had a good ride. Ginger was on her best behaviour yet. I think the new turnout situation is helping.
She has managed to rub out part of her mane reaching through the fence for grass so I can only imagine how awesome that will look in a month or two.
She was quite happy to see G, so I'm hoping we've won that battle.
I'm still waiting to see whether Lainey is going to be sold. They have until the end of the month to decide. I can't decide what to do myself, but hopefully this will all lead to good things. We looked at a couple of places with room for horses last night and G is wanting to come out here instead of me moving back. The catalyst for that is that I've been offered a promotion of sorts at work that pays exceptionally well. So obviously all this muddies the waters not only in my personal life, but with my plans for the horses.
Of course the horse lover in me would rather be managing a barn again or being a working student for someone - anything to get more hours in the saddle and learn as much as possible.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Another Good Day

The weather was once again beautiful but windy, so a barn trip was definitely in order.
I had a nice ride again today, although there was one tense moment where she scooted forward and then panicked when I grabbed at her reflexively. I'm not sure where that is coming from, she does it on the lunge as well and it's pretty random. So far I've stopped her every time within a stride or two but she gets pretty upset and worked up -I'm sure because it unbalances me a bit and, as mentioned my reflex is "Stop NOW!" and pony trying to bolt is not impressed by having the door slammed in her face. If I was a more accomplished rider perhaps I could redirect that energy to something hard and make her work? Not sure what to do. Right now, I slam the door, then continue with whatever we were doing and keep her working. It makes me anxious because it goes from relaxed, happy horse to leaping around silly pony faster than I would have thought possible. Today I just asked her to resume her trot and held her on a spiraling circle with some ground poles to keep her thinking and we ended on a good note. Amazing how much better we both feel for working through it.
I won't lie, I think if Lainey sells I'll be getting another steady eddy for some confidence. I'm not sure if a full diet of crazy pony antics is going to be good for me, and I still have not so secret dreams of eventing, which at this point Ginger is not ready for. We're still on track for dressage later this summer, though, and when she's "on" she's pretty darn cute. It is discouraging we aren't farther along yet, but I suspect it will be one of those things where it all comes together at once.
Still, only one "episode" per ride is a vast improvement, and she is coming along, although some days it's literally by leaps and bounds ;) I am ever optimistic that with continued effort we are going to have something special together.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Green

Everything is getting green...at last!
This makes me very happy (and a bit relieved- I was starting to think the joke was on me and all the Canadian stereotypes are true. I was about one more snowfall from packing it in an getting into dogsledding or something;) )

Beautiful Day

The sun was shining and it was a perfect 21 degrees Celsius. This being Alberta/Saskatchewan it was also super windy. All the better to de-spook the pony, right? ;)
I got to the barn a bit later than normal and once again it was deserted. I think everyone that boards take lessons together and ride together because either I am all alone or it's really busy. Yes, I have no barn friends yet :)
Ginger and Lainey got an upgrade at some point, they're now in a nice paddock right by the barn and have a fair size grass field to use too. That makes me happy!
Anyways, I think I had the best ride ever on Ginger. I took her down to the outdoor ring and she was pretty good to lunge considering it was windy enough the lunge line was catching the wind and doing weird things. Lainey was being a big baby and screaming for her ( I don't really understand it- she hates all horses except Ginger) and Ginger's buddy from her old paddock could see us in the ring was screaming too. Ginger got a bit anxious and called back a couple of times, but it wasn't rude "I'm ignoring you for my friends" so I didn't get too worried about it.
All in all, we had a really nice relaxed ride and even did some ground poles and a couple of cross rails. I was so proud of her with the first cross rail because I could feel her getting a bit unsure, but when I asked her to do it she jumped it like a little hunter pony and went right back to a quiet trot. Which admittedly shocked me, this being Ginger I was expecting at least a little bit of drama!
We did some spirals and shoulder ins, which got a little bit tense (still wonderfully relaxed for Ginger, though) then happily popped over another cross rail and called it good. Days like today make all the bad days worthwhile.
I'm on an iPhone and can't figure out how to caption pictures, so, the first one I had to take a picture to show how relaxed she was...that's her walking quietly on the buckle, in a windstorm-her mane is bad, but not THAT crazy :)
The second is obviously our mini jumps.
The third is just her looking cute.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Washing everything for free!

Oh my, what an absolutely horrible rainy day. I haven't seen this kind of rain since winter on the BC coast. It's not supposed to rain like this here!
I got to the barn this afternoon and both horses were soaking wet and shivering. So I grabbed them both to bring them in. Lainey, however had other ideas, getting quite amazingly bitchy because I wasn't letting her eat grass on the way. I'm guessing the girl that leases her has been allowing it...or it could just be Lainey being Lainey. Whatever the case, it was cold and wet and I had no patience for it or her attitude so I was a big meanie and put her back in her field, where she proceeded to throw a huge tantrum. Someone is feeling way too good.
I was happy with Ginger because she followed me up to the barn without a peep while her friends screamed for her. The water was literally dripping off of her, so I took the opportunity to try out some spray on/leave in "spot cleaner" on her. I'm always reluctant to actually leave that stuff on but figured it would be fine to spray it on before I rinsed her off. We had a really nice ride. I think everyone was scared of the weather so it was just Ginger and I. I just focused on quiet and relaxed again and we had some really nice trot work going. I keep it short and sweet so we could watch the derby. I won't lie, Ginger didn't actually watch, but she did stand patiently, so it was all good.
I'm incredibly excited about this derby because Mr G and I spend a few weekends every summer at Hastings racetrack in Vancouver. We love it there because it's a little escape in the middle of a busy city. We just hang out in the sunshine and watch the horses and chat. We try to have a few getaways to Vancouver every year to get to some concerts, sports events, and just generally spend time together. I wouldnt say either one of us is necessarily a big racing fan...but Hastings is always the highlight of the trip and a bit of a tradition. Anyways, a jockey we have been watching there for a few years now was in the derby this year. And he won it! I don't even know the guy and I'm so freaking excited for him! Somehow I think we won't be seeing him this summer at Hastings...

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Mane Pulling and Alpacas

In case you're wondering, no, they don't go together AT ALL. :)

Today was one of those days where I felt like a kid waiting for school to get out. 5 o clock just would NOT come. Especially after I decided I was going to the barn after work! I swear I should just go back to being a poor barn manager...I spend half my day thinking about horse stuff anyways! Not sure I've mentioned I'm a GIS tech at a small city - basically I handle the mapping and drawing requests from the engineering and planning departments, with a little IT type stuff thrown in. But of course the pay is fabulous and we all know horses need to be fed lots of cash!
At any rate, I got to the barn this evening and just couldn't handle Ginger's mane one more second. And after an hour of pulling and trimming and thinning I do believe it looks even worse :( I need some professional help- her mane is super thick and lies on both sides of her neck. Of course she was all fidgety and bored with the whole procedure. At one point she sort of jumped forward and I got after her a bit (verbally) so she stood there quivering playing sad sad pony. At that point I notice Lainey is also upset and finally notice there are about 10 alpacas charging towards us at a run!
Needless to say, chaos ensued - there was a lesson in progress in the outdoor ring, and horses panicking every which way. The funny part is the alpacas live on the farm, so you would think the horses would be sort of used to them. But I guess when they get loose it's a whole nuther story! They were rounded up pretty quickly but poor Ginger was sure they were still hiding somewhere waiting to get her. I'd love to see what she's thinking - do alpacas really hunt in packs and savage poor defenseless ponies? Possibly in her world, that, and much worse :)
So, the Project Mane Buster got put on hold for another night. I'm hoping to spend quite a bit of time at the barn this weekend because next week I will be away for work and going insane - I NEED my downtime, so work related trips are a special kind of hell for me.