Thursday, 31 January 2013

Friday Update

Yesterday, I woke up with headache intact but determined to get out for another (better) ride.

I arranged to meet G at the ring so I could have my own much needed cheering section. He's really just the kindest guy and insisted on holding Ginger while I got on and even walked along side for a little bit, just chatting and cheering me up. I'm pretty lucky to have such a supportive other half.

I did a bit of lateral work at the walk before moving on to a nice snappy trot. She was quite forward, but it felt like the good kind of "happy to get to work" forward rather than the anxious "an imaginary monster is chasing us" kind. Eventually I pulled up and mentioned to G that I felt a little nauseous - I must have been really nervous about the ride? We kind of laughed about my ridiculousness, and I asked him if I should complete 'recovery' and ask for a canter to finish off the ride. Being super overconfident in my abilities, he encouraged me and off we went. It was a bit funny - poor Ginger I think still had some memories of the previous day and took offense to my leg (and nervousness!) and bolted off, on the wrong lead to boot. I slowed her down and she threw in a nice flying change (totally her own thing - this is not something we've worked on yet) which was sort of cool and got me excited for the day when it's a real part of our repertoire. Obviously we had to repeat to ensure we got the right lead to start, and again, she went off a bit too enthusiastically, but this time was a big improvement as within a couple of strides we were back to a sane canter.. Opposite direction went without a hitch, I think she got over her fear of me coming off (as did I!). At this point G asked "Hey, what's the difference between a gallop and a canter? It's just that I thought you said you were going to canter and it seemed like she really took off kind of fast. Is she faster than a racehorse?" Sigh. Not the sort of questions you want to hear when you are supposed to be practicing dressage.

We opted for a quick trail ride up the mountain and back on the way back to the barn. The road goes in a nice loop from the ring, up the mountain to a gravel quarry, and then back down the hill to a trail that comes out across the road from the barn. It's about a 40 minute ride and is a nice low key end to the day.

On the drive home, I thought I had got something in my eye - my vision was super blurry and I couldn't see! I was also really, really tired. Since I'm kind of stupid, it took G to put two and two together and ask just how hard I hit my head the day before. Too hard, it seems. A concussion it is and I've been advised to take it easy for at least few days. If there's ever a next time I'll be sure to get checked immediately- even if I think I'm OK. I'm sure I made the symptoms way worse by being ignorant and pushing too hard yesterday.

I have some rides with friends tentatively scheduled for late next week, so I suspect until then I'll just play it safe and rest up and see how I feel next week. And maybe scour the sales for a new helmet :)


Scene from our trail ride. Apparently the fog wasn't just in my head ;)

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Just Trust Your Intuition


In the interest of being honest and sharing the good and the bad, here's today's adventure.

I went up to the barn today with the intention of riding. However, with the day getting more and more grey and yucky, I decided to do Ginny's stall first. Then brought her out and lingered over grooming her, until she was getting a full on spa day complete with a waterless shampoo "bath".

I finally stopped procrastinating when another boarder showed up to ride and got me a tiny bit more motivated. I eventually set off down the road. Since Ginger has been pretty 'up' the past few days, I opted to lead her down the road, which was a good thing since she was suddenly scared of the neighbours truck and trailer, which was immediately followed by a dump truck towing an excavator on a trailer. The second was a very large and wide load which had me worrying whether we were safe so Ginger's antics that time were excused. I silently thanked myself for opting to lead her down the road and lunge her at the ring before getting on!

Lunging went without much issue, although she was very hot. We had to have a discussion about paying attention to me and also what consists of an appropriate speed to canter. At this point I was starting to realise I had a seriously amped up pony on my hands and almost decided to call it a day and not ride. Then I thought I'd better stop being a chicken and just get on - after all it's not often Ginger ISN'T completely ridiculous. We had a bunch of poles and cross rails set up from the past few days and I figured if I needed to I could incorporate some poles to help keep her interested and paying attention.

We walked and trotted some exercises in both directions and I was pretty happy with how things went. Prior to my ride, I had it in my mind I wanted to try a mini jump course, but I just wasn't feeling today was the day to push it. I decided we'd keep the lid on it and tackle it tomorrow. (She is, after all, a mare, and tomorrow she's sure to be a new pony and in a more learning frame of mind ;) Thinking I had better accomplish something, I opted to trot some little crossrails and if she offered a sane canter, we'd just roll with it.

Big mistake. This is where things went completely (and literally) sideways. Ginny tapped the first cross rail with a back leg and had a complete and total meltdown. Since if anything, I was expecting a big spooky jump, I had my hands and body forward and was totally unprepared when she bolted. My instinct was to sit up and pull back, and she did stop momentarily, at which point I pulled her head around just in case. She was still panicked, though and it got a bit scary because she just ended up running sideways and almost went over. Since that plan failed, the next plan was to guide her around the corner and get her circling and slowing down. Unfortunately, the corner didn't happen very smoothly - I was off balance and it was spooking her more and I could barely get her turned from the fence. I had visions of us going over or through it :( I ended up getting tossed sideways and landed on my back, banging my head off the metal arena gate. This is why I ALWAYS wear a helmet. Ginny proceeded to bolt around the arena. Thank goodness no one else was riding. I got up and realised I got lucky with just a headache and proceeded to catch my pony. The poor girl was totally spooked - I guess having someone fall off for the first time must be scary!

I summoned all my courage and got back on slowly. And just about got dumped again when I asked her to walk on. And then again a while later when I asked her to walk over the offending crossrail of doom. After a few passes, we were able to walk over it quietly. I called that good. I think we were both a little shaken up :( I'm still wondering exactly what went wrong since trot poles and cross rails have been part of our routine for a few months now. Of course, I'm also trying to figure out exactly what I could have done to salvage the situation once it began. I've been having more than a few moments of doubt about my riding abilities and whether I'm ever going to really be able to crack the secret to getting Ginger relaxed.

On the plus side, after getting reacquainted with the crossrail, with a few more minutes of trot work my mentally overloaded pony gave me a big sigh and the best big stretchy trot we've ever done. It's like her drama quota was finally filled for the day and she could relax ;) And no, I wasn't brave enough to push for a canter.

Moral of today's story: I should have just trusted my intuition and called it a day rather than pushing on and feeling like I should accomplish something.

G is coming with me tomorrow to keep an eye on us. I'm feeling a bit low about today and will appreciate the company tomorrow.


Sunday, 27 January 2013

Anxiety, etc

There was a whole lot of activity at the arena today. Not only is it the weekend, but the weather was decent for outdoor riding. Usually we're all alone out there in the wind and the rain, but today there were a couple of horse trailers there as well as another person who hacked in. One of the trailers belonged to my good friend that has FOUR horses to keep in shape, two of which she shows and one who is just started under saddle. And yes, she works full time too. I'm always reminded that if she can do all that I should be able to keep up with my two.

Here's the thing. I showed up just as everyone else was chatting and getting ready to pack up and go home. So there were a few people hanging out watching me ride. It made me a bit freaked out. I can count almost every one of the observers as someone I know quite well, so it wasn't even like I was riding in front of a bunch of strangers. I did end up being able to focus on what I wanted to accomplish and had an alright ride, but it was hard having all those eyes watching us. I made myself put in the same ride I had planned before I got there, denying my initial impulse to make it quick and go for a trail ride instead if everyone insisted on staying to watch us. This is a mind game I've played with myself many times. I'm the girl who gets anxious before lessons or clinics with an instructor I haven't used before. I'm also the girl who gets visibly nervous if the clinic has a large number of auditors watching me ride. Or if the ring is super crowded with riders. This is a carry over from real life where I'm not the person you'd want to ask to make a speech or demonstrate something. I don't really enjoy large social events unless I am able to chat with only a few people at a time.

In the horsey world, if I want to participate in shows, clinics, and other events, I'm going to be outside my comfort zone from time to time. What I find works for me are variations of some of the same tools I've mentioned using for Ginger.

-Breathe. Yes, I need reminding sometimes :)

-Set a task and focus on it, or, if in a clinic, focus on what the instructor is telling me. Ignore the outside influences. It's like meditating on horseback.

-Focus on what my horse is telling me. With Ginger, my worries are her worries, which in a way helps me. She'll tell me pretty fast what sort of energy I've got brewing in my head.

-In a show situation, I do best if I'm prepared. If I know the test/pattern inside and out, I'm ahead of the game. If I'm also confident my horse has the skills to handle things, we're fine.

-No excuses. Because certain show or clinic situations will make me uncomfortable, it's tempting to jump on any excuse to back out. I have to remember how good it feels to conquer such situations.

-Accept that I may not always ride my best in certain atmospheres. Don't beat myself up over it, just accept what it was and learn from it so I can improve in the future. Today, I was uncomfortable. Which means Sunday afternoon when it's busy is our new day to practice at the ring.

-A variation of the above- don't be embarrassed to admit I'm nervous. If I tell someone I usually feel better and often I get some great advice too.

-Most importantly, I just need to remember I've got an awesome partner in Ginger - she's amazing and even though she's an anxious girl herself, she's always got my back.

I wish I could say I have a perfect handle on it, but I don't. Today was an off day that reminded me I need to practice the mental game just as much as the physical one if I want to be prepared for show season next spring.


Random cute picture of the day (and she's clean-bonus!)




Friday, 25 January 2013

It poured rain

And the winds were about 60km/hr. And yet, we still had a wonderful day. We went for a good long ride through the forest today. G came and hiked along with us. Ginger loves this, because she likes G. She prefers to be out ahead, proudly leading the way, but once G starts getting too far behind she'll ask if we can stop and wait for him. I usually say OK, because I like him too ;) We ventured a bit farther from home than normal, so we got to go over a wooden bridge and through a large creek. The terrain was a little different than Ginny is used to as well, with the narrow trail wandering through an old growth forest with lots of logs and big roots to trip over. She handled it all like a star and didn't look at anything, even with the wild weather around us. I still wonder how on earth my super spooky arena pony can be such a brave trail horse!

In other news, there has been a little boarding barn drama (I can hear your gasp of surprise from here, that never happens, right? ;). I'm feeling good tonight though, because the drama was concerning shavings for the barn. Luckily G and I just happen to have a friend with a sawmill business. So, as of now, we get an unlimited (and free!) supply of shavings for Ginger! I wonder if Sawmill Guy realizes just how big of a deal this is for a horsey person. I just hope the case of beer showed my never ending appreciation! Ginger is happily enjoying a giant thick bed of sawdust as we speak and I feel content knowing she's snug and cosy in her shelter tonight.

I also came home to a wonderful update on Lainey. They've been working hard and are back in a happy place. Whewww, am I ever relieved! This weekend they're training with one of our canadian national show jumping champions and having a blast. They're going to be back showing again soon. It sounds like Lainey might not be coming home quite yet :)

And, the new 'old' fence at our mini farm is finally complete. Today, while putting the last rails up, I noticed some green buds popping out of the lilac bushes. That made a good day wonderful!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Things Ginger is Scared Of: Random Human Noises

At one point on a recent ride Ginger spooked a split second before I coughed. Since she often takes great offense to sneezing/coughing/sniffling the timing was pretty bad - she was convinced we really were about to die. I'm sure we made a super professional impression as I coughed up a lung and she leaped forward with every cough, me laughing at her in between coughing fits. She's nothing if not entertaining. I've tried every way I can think to 'cure' her fear of the random noises I make, but the first time I cough/sneeze/sniffle/blow my nose/talk loudly on any given day I still manage to shock her delicate little ears.

Better

Since I really dislike leaving things on a not so good note, I was back in the saddle again this morning.

This was the scene when I arrived at the barn:

 
A super foggy day! Ginny's friend in the picture is a teeny tiny little standardbred off the track. He looks a bit tough and menacing with the lighting in this picture - I think he'd approve of that.
 
 
Ginny was still very on edge and spooky to start with. I set up a couple of poles to lunge her over to keep her a bit more focused. Embarrassingly enough, after boldly cantering over them several times, she starting looking around elsewhere for ghosts for a second or two and forgot the first pole existed - so had to stop and spook at it like it had moved or something. Seriously, sometimes I question her sanity :)
Still looking for ghosts
 After confirming she could in fact negotiate the poles without forgetting them, I hopped on. From the start, I was focused on having her move straight and forward. No sucking back, no popping her shoulder away from the 'scary' arena rail. One section in particular poses problems for her because there are some small jumps and barrels stored just outside the arena fence. Not to mention there's a super creepy announcers booth right there. This is a day by day thing - sometimes it's perfectly fine, sometimes she's suspicious and I have trouble keeping her straight. The path of doom:
 
 
Believe it or not, we actually had an excellent ride. She settled in and I stayed focused on my goals and we got some good things accomplished. Nice round circles, straight lines, good transitions. Respectable leg yields, even towards the rail. She was a lot more settled in the contact as well, but that may only be due to me really focusing on making sure my hands were steady and my shoulders straight. I have an awful habit of fiddling with my outside rein for no apparent good reason. Left lead felt really good, right still rushed but we can hold a 20m circle consistently which is progress. She felt generally hot and spooky, but I felt like I had her attention today and could use the energy for good things.
 
I've literally been begging for lessons, but myself and several others are still wait listed - the clinics are perpetually full of the 'regulars'. There are other options available but I'm not sure they would suit us. I have an eventer acquaintance who may be able to give the odd lesson here since her parents live locally and she travels up to visit now and then. She also happens to be Lainey's first owner, so we can discuss my big bad mare :)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Tough Weekend

As mentioned in the last post, we had a bit of a tough ride on Friday. Saturday and Sunday were both continuations of that theme. This is not a pony who forgives you easily! The weather was decent and sunny and I was in a good frame of mind this time, but there were only minor improvements noticeable at the end of each session. I'm feeling a little down about it tonight. Even though I know setbacks can be a normal part of the process, in the back of my mind I always worry I am doing something wrong and "ruining" my horse.

The main issue was a lack of focus. I didn't have hers at all. All the usual tricks I try weren't cutting it and my overly reactive and drama filled pony showed up to the party in a big way. Even a 20 meter circle was a supreme effort on my part as Ginny was wanting to look and spook first one direction, then the next. Something I've had success with in the past are leg yields and spirals, but she was blowing through me, not just forwards, but also through my outside aids. My other trick, is of course, to just ask for more forward. But this past week, Ginny is wound so tightly that I can't really seem to get her relaxed enough over her back to really get her forward and working from behind until after a good long ride. Asking for too much forward at the beginning of a ride is a bit of a balancing act at the best of times - it can go the wrong way and get her even more 'up' and anxious :)

I'm missing having a coach because I'm left making my best guess as to what I as the rider should be doing. The issue I'm having with with the past few rides at the ring is I will ask for what I want normally, but she is distracted and not listening. I immediately ask a little more firmly and she acts like I've completely ambushed her - very over dramatic downward transitions and bolting forward when I am a little more insistent with my leg. No consistency, she's either trying to suck back behind my leg and mess around spooking or leaping forward in front of my leg and rushing. She's also been super fussy with the contact. I suspect my little mare is growing up and there was a bit of testing going on this weekend in addition to that grudge from Friday's ride :)

I ended up doing a ton of walk/trot transitions until she was listening to my seat and leg. I followed that up with turns on the haunches and forehand as a friendly reminder that applying my outside leg is not a request to bolt forward. A previous rider had left 4 ground poles set in a circle, and I ended up using those to help with trot tempo while I asked for leg yields in and out of the circle, followed by some squares. For myself, I focused on sitting evenly, and riding softly, but as accurately as possible.  As always, I try to be super consistent with my aids and try not to overreact if she reacts erratically. On Saturday, I eventually had her going nicely forward and straight on the long side.

On Sunday, there were a few other riders coming and going as well as a lady stacking lumber near the arena. Ginny's attention span was even less than on Saturday and she was acting really herdbound and spooky. The other riders felt obligated to give us a wide berth and I felt guilty for "hogging" the arena by taking up such a large bubble. I ended up leaving early, burning off some steam power trotting her up the hill to the trails. I also worked some more on transitions and having her carry herself on the flat sections while we rode the big loop back around to the barn. Not an ideal ride, but I'd like to keep my horsey friends and club membership :)

I think tomorrow I might reverse the process and get her out for a good trail ride before I attempt a ride at the ring - I'm almost embarrassed to say we are pushing the two year mark and I still haven't found a consistent key to getting her to relax when she's in a bit of a state. For whatever reason(s), she's been increasingly spooky at the ring the past couple of weeks - maybe a tired pony will be a better behaved one!

I'm happy to say I kept my patience and don't think I was anxious, I just kept focused on the result I wanted.  I know her so well now that she can't really scare me no matter how badly behaved she is. I also know she's fully capable of what I ask, so I feel confident being persistent in my requests. I was actually fairly happy after each ride ( any time in the saddle is time well spent, after all!)

Of course once I sat down to write this blog and started mentally reviewing my rides, I started to feel a bit down. This weekend was reminiscent of where we were at this time last year, and I thought we were well past that, particularly since she has been a lot braver and more accepting of things lately, and I have been feeling like I have a good handle on how she needs to be ridden. Horses certainly have a way of keeping you humble.




Friday, 18 January 2013

Stressed owner = bad pony



I was running late for my ride today after sitting at home on the computer too long. I had hopes of forcing myself to stop procrastinating and make the appropriate career decisions, but only ended up stressing myself out and accomplishing nothing. Oh, and making myself late for my ride with my friend M.

I rushed up to the barn and tried to be as casual as possible catching Ginny. She has excellent horsey radar and if I am even the tiniest bit flustered or angry about anything in my life she'll head for the hills. She's not the shoulder to cry on type :)I must have passed first inspection because catching her went without issue.

I hurriedly tacked her up. By now she was seriously getting antsy and feeding off my energy. I wisely opted to walk her to the ring and lunge her before hopping on. Another friend of mine was riding at the ring. Ginny was on her worst behaviour - I have to admit I was a little embarrassed by her antics, which I'm sure didn't help owner/pony relations. Since time was running short and she seemed 75% better, I had to hop on and get going regardless of that other 25% of crazy brewing. Except I couldn't hop on. For the first time ever, she played the Mounting Block Game. You know? The one where they take one step in any direction just when you're ready to get on? Just far enough so you can't reach? That one. She actually did us all a favour.  I had to stop rushing and accept we might be late. Mounting block manners take priority.  Especially when you're about 5'1" and your horse is pushing 15.3hh these days. Mounting blocks are essential :) Eventually we got sorted and off we went. I was feeling a lot more settled and more focused on just having a good ride.

Except when we got the the trail head Ginny decided it was just too scary and we needed to go home. And then every trail after that. Probably the slowest trail ride in history as we spooked and crept the entire way to our meeting place. We've been on that trail numerous times without issue so I'm pretty sure she was just testing the situation since I probably seemed a little less focused than normal. We met up with friend without incident and off we went for a ride together. Ginny was still very hot and spooky so we ended up following M's horse who is a more mellow sort. Ginny settled a bit eventually - still overreacting  to me, but enjoying having a horsey friend. I ended up banging my knee pretty good since I was distracted and chatting with M. Ginny decided to jump a very large section of mucky ground and my knee came into contact with a tree somewhere mid leap. She's done this sort of thing before, usually with ditches or puddles where I'm expecting her to walk through like normal. She catches me off guard because she doesn't do the spooky horse 'stop/stare/leap' thing or the confident 'trot/jump' thing. She just walks up, nonchalantly jumps the entire thing and then continues walking. Maybe just letting me know my eventing ambitions with her aren't too far off the mark.

We stopped in at the lake for a wade through the water - excellent for getting those white legs sparkling. Cowboy Magic Green Spot Remover is my friend - I spray it on before our ride and it gets rinsed out as we go.

Too quickly, we parted from M to head back home. The 25% crazy must have been pretty much worked out since Ginger left to head back with a minimum of drama, only one sad whinny a mile or so down the road towards home. We got back without incident and I started untacking her. I do the pony club thing where I buckle the halter around her neck before removing the bridle. This is usually a fail safe method and totally unnecessary with Ginger since she is quite content to stay where you put her. Unfortunately this time, just as I was slipping the halter over her nose to re buckle it, a horse in a nearby paddock decided to liven things up by bolting off and showing his rodeo moves. Ginger managed to escape and join the party, running up and down the lane way between the paddocks and getting all the horses revved up. When it rains, it pours, right? At least all my tack was off and the gates were closed.

Today reminded me a little of some of our rides last summer. Myself or the trainer would do something Ginger found scary or offensive (it didn't take much!) then she'd be very spooky and unforgiving for the remainder of the ride. It really doesn't take much to upset her trust and confidence. She's improved hugely these past few months, but obviously I still have a bit of work to do.

Things I need to remember:

-Ginger is ultra sensitive. I can get away with having a bad day with Lainey or other horses, but I really need to be 'zen' to work with Ginger. I'm better off not riding on days I can't get a handle on my own problems.

-There's always a first time - keep yourself safe even if it seems like overkill. I try to be ultra safe and still ended up with a loose pony running around the farm.

-I have to remember that being late is going to happen now and then. With a horse like Ginger, I can't rush to make up time or even worry about being on a schedule. I had a bit of a light bulb moment realizing that much of last summer was spent rushing to get from work and ready for a lesson at the barn. I wonder how that affected things? :(


Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Busy Busy Busy

Ginny and I have been hitting the trails with friends and having a great time. She's really in her element out there and is such a fun ride.
The ring remains frozen and unusable. It's surrounded by big trees so doesn't get much sun. We've got some rides planned there this coming weekend so I hope the weather will warm up as predicted. I'm wanting to set up some easy ground rail grids and some mini jumps for Ginger.
I've also been busy redoing the fencing at our little acreage. I felt a bit old today. I bought the place when I was still very young so today I was actually replacing posts I installed when I first lived there. That was 10 years ago already :(
Winter is the best time for fencing here because the ground is wet and the digging easy. Besides, it's a good way to keep warm. I'm not using the place, but it's nice knowing it's there and horse ready and safe. I also found a few treasures in the barn. My missing show pad, a pair of hoof boots I'm going to give to a friend, a first aid kit with lots of usable items and even a winter blanket that might fit Ginger.

I've recently switched to self board, which I'm really enjoying. I like doing all the barn chores and it's an excuse for a little more quality time with Ginny.

Real life is calling, though. In my case literally. The folks in Alberta are wondering if I'd like to come back sooner rather than later. My old full time permanent position is available or I can opt for a term position. I've got some completely different options on the table as well. And of course G wishes I would just stay here. Decisions, decisions. I will research which option has the best barn/horsey scene. ( Yes, I'm halfway serious here ;)

Saturday, 12 January 2013

New blanket

Ginger's old blanket has seen better days. It belonged to Lainey first, and Lainey is not known for looking after her stuff. I've patched and repaired it a lot over the years. The past few springs, I always vow to toss it and buy a new one, then fall comes and I manage to convince myself I can get one more season from it. I arrived at the barn yesterday to see a giant rip along a seam that had previously been patched and I finally had to admit defeat.
Can I have a new blanket please? I'm going to keep hanging out in this muddy corner of my paddock until you say yes. Hope you like wet socks.

My penny pinching ways caught up with me because I ended up having to go to the only local tack store to buy the last size 78 blanket at a premium price. Being the last blanket, it's also a rather obnoxious shiny brown plaid that reminds me of the couch my parents had when I was little.
No matter, Ginger is rocking 70's retro style as only a welsh cob can :

All set for another 5 years ;)
 
Brown plaid is the new black. All the cool horses know it.
 
 
Notice the sun is STILL shining? All my horsey friends are phoning at once - everyone wants to get out and take advantage of the weather! More trail adventures are scheduled for tomorrow. I can't wait!

Thursday, 10 January 2013

It's a good life

After that surprise snow storm, the weather has decided to behave itself the last couple of days. I'm not even going to mention the long term forecast because I don't want to jinx anything!

I've been taking full advantage of the break in our normally rainy weather and have been out every day. Poor Ginny took one look at me this morning, saw the halter in hand and walked off quickly the other way. Once or twice a week rides are more than enough, she says. Luckily the temptation of coming to say hi and to see what I was doing eventually overruled any thoughts of playing chase.

I met up with a friend this morning at the ring. Too bad, so sad, the ground was too frozen in there to do much, so off we went on the trails. Both horses were very happy with that development and my friends usually bombproof older mare was dancing around acting like...Ginger ;) I think the horses just get a little giddy when the sun comes out. I'm sure they must get as tired of the rain as we do. I should stop being surprised by it, but Ginger was really, really good. I wasn't sure how she'd do with the other horse being a bit excited, but she quite happily led or followed and generally kept a lid on it, even though I could feel she was wanting to have a dance party of her own. We did a short 90 minute loop up around the lake close to us, with a quick stop for them to play in the water.

The only excitement was when we were all pretty sure a passenger plane was landing on top of us. Yes, really. We were riding home on a hillside a few miles east and a bit above the airport, which usually is not big deal. 99% of the time the planes land coming in over the ocean - the winds are apparently more favourable and the terrain a little easier. Today though, the pilot came from the mountain side. Our trail must line up perfectly with the runway because I could hear the plane coming up behind us, and coming, and still coming, getting louder and louder. I guess they must have to come in pretty low too, basically following the slope down to the airport because I turned around and could see the people in the cockpit. I would have waved to them if I was feeling more friendly ;) Ginger jumped around a bit and I don't blame her, it was a propeller plane and it was LOUD and I'm pretty sure there's no way she could have seen what was making all the noise, since it was above and behind us. So, we can say Ginger is basically aircraft safe, because we survived and I doubt we'll ever need come anywhere near that close to an airplane ever again.

What it felt like (not my photo - this is the approach at the St Maarten airport):

 
 
 
Objects in rear view actually smaller than they sound: The real plane (from jetphotos.net):
 
 
My riding buddy was mentioning she'd like to go away to a weekend clinic/camp and asked if I'd like to come with her. I think it's a great idea, I've been really missing having lessons and it sounds like it's a 3 day weekend lesson format where they work in a group trail ride and some rider fitness sessions as well. The woman hosting it travels to do the odd clinic here and I've audited and liked what I saw. I think we'd have a lot of fun and would like to hope we can make it happen before I leave again for work. I've been trying to sign up for the local clinics but they are always full with 'regulars' and I'm permanently on the wait list. Either that or I smell bad...:)

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

It's the thought that counts?

Today, my 'to do' list looked something like this:

-Go for a ride
-Go for a run
-Replace fence/posts at our rental acreage
-Pick out new bathroom tile

What really happened:

-I picked out bathoom tile
-I bored myself to death on our elliptical
-I surfed the internet

I drove up to go for my ride this morning and this is what the road to the barn looked like:


A slushy, nasty mess. The barn is just high enough up from the ocean to get the odd day of wet snow while the rest of us get rain. Since the roads there today were just too slippery to be safe to ride (or run) on and we had a wind warning also in effect, I gave Ginger some treats and went back home to hide. And to dream of having an indoor like this:

(Picture taken from http://www.pacificdustcontrol.com/indoor-riding-arena-dust-control/) I love the garage style doors on the sides. The more natural light the better with our dark northern winters. I'm not sure if this is the arena, but I've seen video of one like it and the doors can actually roll up along the rafters at the push of a button. Sadly, I think (know) this is out of budget. I do have tentative approval for this barn, which I've been in love with for a few years, but I've lost track of the site the picture originally came from:
 
                                   
Ginger would look so cute in there! And that's the important thing, right? ;) The trick here is the reverse bait and switch technique. I show G multiple pictures of super fancy barns and estates and pretend they're everything I ever wanted, then 'settle' for the above barn which is really my dream barn. Too bad he knows me and knows what I'm up to. Also too bad I'll be paying for half ;)
 
And I looked at welsh cob sites. I'm pretty sure if Ginger was looking for a boyfriend, this would be her man:

Nebo Knight Ryder from Quillane Welsh Cobs. (http://quillanewelsh.com/) I'm a sucker for dark bays with white. Sad, because of this I'll be forever getting asked if my cob is, in fact, a small clydesdale. True story, this really happens. Often. One lady even started talking down to me like I was lying when she asked Ginny's breeding  :( Not that I'd be embarrassed to own a clyde or clyde cross, but I'm starting to get a little offended! The more knowlegeable usually guess she's an old type morgan, since there are a few around these parts. The british or europeans always guess right. But I'd guess about 90% of the people I meet aren't even aware welsh can be any bigger than a medium sized pony, which is a shame because I think there are a number of people that would certainly be interested in owning one if they were more aware of the breed.
 
Next, I started looking at cobs for sale. If one is awesome, two would be twice as awesome. Not yet, though. First, we still need a property to hold all of these dreams. (Off now to madly google real estate listings...;)

Monday, 7 January 2013

Back in The Saddle


I've set some "me time" aside and ridden a couple of times since my last post. Ginny is feeling very, very good. So am I. I think I get a bit down without enough barn time. We've had a couple of fun rides so far. She's fun when she's a bit fresh because it just translates into forwardness, with the odd look or mini spook thrown in. The fact that she's really not a spooky horse in the traditional sense was confirmed for me yesterday - on our ride home a little storm picked up, so we had rain and wind blowing up her tail, plus lots of branches and things cracking and falling in the forest around us. A hiker we met also told me he had just seen a bear in the area. For some of the horses I've had this would have all been an excuse to be silly, but Ginny was just excited to be out for a ride. I think it's just when she gets bored that we run into trouble!
Since we're only a couple of rides back into the swing of things we're not up to much excitement in the ring - transitions, some easy ground poles, some squares for that stubborn outside shoulder, and a few spiral exercises. All in all, maybe 25 minutes and we both barely broke a sweat. I'm really excited to be back at it.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

New Years Hike

With my lack of motivation followed by an out of town trip, some renos, a nasty flu bug, and various social commitments, Ginger ended up with a couple of weeks off over the holidays. I managed to get to the barn most of the days, but I couldn't seem to string together enough time for a ride. Today, with G still on vacation, I had promised to spend the morning helping him do some paperwork, and to go for a good hike with him in the afternoon. I wanted to stop in and check on Ginger on the way, but I could sense he was reluctant to spare the extra time since I had also promised to get home in time to cook the turkey dinner we missed by being sick at christmas. He's a man - turkey dinner wins over anything ;)

At any rate, to keep the peace, we stopped in for a quick barn visit. Ginny was going totally stir crazy in her paddock and acting ridiculous. G took one look and suggested we re-route and take Ginger along for a hike since he thought she'd like to get out for a bit too. He's a huge softie when it comes to animals. We were taking her hiking fairly regularly, then winter came and we started running the less muddy trails closer to town and I was spending my barn time actually riding in the ring :) I like bringing her along on our hikes because G doesn't ride but likes horses - it's a nice way for him to spend time actively doing something with her.

I quickly took him up on the offer and got Ginger's boots on. I didn't want to tempt fate and ask him to wait while I groomed and tacked her up. So, off we went, Ginger ungroomed and in her ratty field halter, her "PJ's" -the fleece sheet she wears under her rain sheet, and her boots. Reminds me of my somewhat senile grandma who used to go out shopping in her big fluffy slippers with really crazy bedhead ;) G was leading Ginger so I could pretend the hairy, wild looking pony was not mine. Just kidding - he just likes being the one to lead her. He's not super experienced with horses and she's not an easy horse, but I have yet to see her be anything but perfect for him. Even today, she was feeling very up at first but just pranced along beside him looking impressive. No pulling or bad manners, and even over some pretty rough spots she was careful to keep enough space from him. It's nice that he can lead her if he wants to and I don't have to worry (too much ;) He likes her because she's easier to walk than his dog was - which I don't want to tell him is probably more of a negative reflection of our dog training skills :) We ended up on about a 2.5 hour loop and I think we all enjoyed the outing. Tomorrow (knock on wood) life goes back to normal and I'll have time to ride regularly again.

Happy Ginny likes going for walks and being treated like a dog:

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Happy New Year!

2012 was a really great year, and I'm hoping 2013 is even better.

I spent a long time the other day typing up a detailed 'dream' list of 2013 goals for Ginger and myself but since my life is in such a state of flux, (Will I stay here or move for work? Will Lainey come back with me? Will we buy that farm we have our eyes on? ) a few simple and more general goals might be more appropriate. Thats not to say I'm tossing out all the detailed things I want to do - I'll just have to wait and pull the appropriate ones out of the hat depending on where I am living come spring and whether I'm going to be planning for one horse or two!

Generally speaking, at this time next year here's what I'd like to say happened in 2013:

-Healthy and happy horses. As always, this is my priority.

-Continue to progress with Ginger. Attend some dressage test days and some clinics over fences. Attend at least one event.

-Lots of fun events. Local open shows, poker rides, gymkhanas, and fundraising rides.

-Regular lessons, or if not possible due to geography, attend clinics regularly.

-Related to above: become a better rider, particularly over jumps. I hope to do this through lessons, clinics, and improving my fitness. If Lainey is around for additional practice, all the better.

-We need a trailer. Its been how many years now? I need to make a decision and stick to it :)

-Home renos- this seems totally unrelated, I know. It really is horse motivated though :) Here's the deal : We would like to keep the house we're living in and rent it out after we find the ideal horse property. We have another rental house we'd like to sell. In order to do all this, we should to do some renos to both properties - this is the smart thing to do for tax and resale purposes. I'm not keen on just buying something new and holding a big mortgage, so the sooner we get the renos done, the sooner we can sell/rent and move (Ginger included of course) !

Wishing everyone the best in 2013! I hope all of your goals and dreams become reality as the year progresses!