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 ;)