Thursday, 30 May 2013

Digging Into The Archives

Since life on the horse front is rather slow at the moment, I think this might be the perfect time to share some pictures and videos of Ginger and company that date prior to the start of the blog or just never got posted. Like this one, in which Ginger shows us her patented move that's disturbed more than one visitor to the barn. (For the record, yes, she's just scratching her belly!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsUvcRnXAxU&feature=youtu.be

 
 
 

Friday, 24 May 2013

Going Crazy

Work is super busy right now, which is why I'm slow to post and even slower to get my butt in gear and get to the barn for some lessons. I've been getting up at 6AM just to get in some gym/running time, which as anyone who knows me can attest, is a measure of how full my days are. I am not a morning person! I hate having to cancel my lessons at the last minute because I am working late, so I haven't bothered this month. I suck, I know. Where's the 'try' in that? :)  The good news is the end of the month signals a return to my 'normal' job duties and 5:00 freedom so I've got some lessons tentatively booked for June. I'm so excited!!

Ginger is still doing great. I really wish she was here. A friend of mine emailed me the other day to let me know the person who filled my spot at the barn at home also had her horse lose a significant amount of weight over a short period of time and already ended up moving barns. That sets all kinds of wheels turning in my head. I'm sorry it happened to her, but it is nice to know it's not just Ginger. Obviously I'll be taking no chances and Ginger will be either coming home with us or boarded elsewhere. Boarding drama. I hate it. It makes me feel a little sick inside.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Property Hunters

There are two properties that interest us at the moment but neither is perfect, and if I'm honest I'm not sure we'll end up making an offer on either. Last night we were discussing the pros and cons of each and couldn't even decide between the two. So, for interests sake, let me know which you'd choose:

Option A:
Pros:
-Super cute log house on 6 acres. Move in ready.
-24x48 garage would make perfect barn. (It was supposed to be a workshop for a potential business so it's on it's own driveway on the opposite side of the property to the house- not exactly ideal for our garage, but perfect for a barn!)
-Property nicely landscaped, has a pond, previously had horses, is fenced, has sone trees for privacy.
-Is in a horsey suburb, all my horse friends would be nearby!
-Is underpriced because of the tenants and ramshackle outbuildings- it's not being presented at it's best.

Cons:
-Old barn needs to be torn down.
-Property has had tenants for two years- yard is a bit neglected and needs some work.
-Need to build a garage
-Need to reno existing garage for horses.
-If I'm being fussy, I'd love new kitchen cabinets and countertops and would change a few of the windows and interior doors.
-Street is a busier one. Our major concern. Still could easily ride to the trails, but would have to go a couple of blocks first on busy street. Might have nightmares about horses escaping onto busy road!

Option B:

Pros:

-HUGE timber frame barn built from wood off the property.
-13 acres fully in pasture, fenced and cross fenced.
-Perfect location on dead end rd close to town and within riding distance of equestrian club grounds.
-Land is dry for there - year round turnout!
-sentimental reasons, it's subdivided from the ranch I rode/worked at as a kid!

Cons:

- No house. This is almost a pro because we could build what we like.
- No septic installed yet.
- Barn currently houses sheep - would need some minor renos just to house horses, or a moderate amount of work to make it amazing.
-barn is actually way larger than we need. Maybe a barn/ garage combo?

Both are listed at the same price, but we have to assume option B will cost a lot more once the house is built. Funds are available for either option, but A would allow us to keep our current house and have additional rental income.

G has his pick made, but I'm still tempted to wait for an option C: the perfect place.


Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Ginger Update May 2013

Ginger continues to enjoy her all inclusive vacation and has been behaving herself very well. The only 'bad' thing is she's become a little herd bound and calls for her friends when she's in her paddock, but no one is too worried about it. I think once she gets used to the routine and her place in the herd she'll return to her normal self.

The weather there has turned into an early summer so she gets to hang out in her paddock (and shade) all day, then gets turned out at night to eat the new grass. The farm owner writes that she's gained quite a bit of weight already, which is worrying because looking at the pictures she sent vs how I last saw Ginger, she looks pretty much the same ( my vet would actually love her weight)  but I still think she looks a bit on the light side for a cob. She must have stressed quite a bit on the trailer ride :( I'm going to have to have a talk with the vet before we ship her back home in the fall and see if we can manage things a bit better. But for now I'm not going to worry about it :) Here's some vacation pics, Ginger style:


Having a snack by the palapa


Having a drink with a friend
Checking out the hot guy next door
Her coat is looking pretty wild at the moment - the dark patches are whats left of her winter hair. It looks like she's going to be a beige-y color again this summer. Cool :)

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Gypsy, Part 1


Gypsy was the pony that started it all. I was 11 and super shy and unconfident. I was on a girls softball team and made a friend who happened to love horses, just like me. The difference was she actually had a pony to ride and spent her weekends 'at the ranch'. I desperately wanted to be a part of that but was way too scared to ask my parents for permission, not to mention the funds. Luckily, my friends mom interpreted the situation correctly and convinced my mom to let me give it a try.

We showed up at the barn one weekend and walked inside. The barn was a work of art. Completely hand built from lumber off the property, it was a traditional style with a row of stalls on either side of a wide centre aisle way. Over the stalls were haylofts, and way above them,over the centre aisle, was a third hayloft. The stalls were filled with about 20 or so horses and ponies of various sizes and descriptions. I was in heaven.
It was rare for me to see even one horse in real life, this was almost overwhelming! Again, luck was on my side because the ranch owner took one look at me, asked me if I liked horses and was willing to work hard. Of course I said yes! With a few perfunctory introductions, she shuttled my mom out to the car, told her to come back at 5:00, and sent her on her way.I would be able to work on the ranch in exchange for the lease of a pony.

My first job was to go out to the field and catch the pony I would be riding. Armed with a vague description, off I went to catch my new pony. Gypsy took one look at me and quietly walked off, keeping a 10 foot distance between her and I. All the other girls had their ponies in the barn
already, preparing for the days rides. I kept walking, and walking, and walking some more, for what felt like eternity. Surely the barn owner would 'fire' me if I couldn't even catch my pony? Finally, Gypsy stopped and let me approach her.I put her halter on, mentally visualizing the 'how to' pictures I'd seen in the horse books I'd checked out of the library. Armed with a great sense of accomplishment, I led Gypsy to the barn. When I arrived at the barn, the barn owner let out a bit of a surprised laugh. I had caught the wrong pony! Seeing the look of dismay on my face, she quickly assured me Gypsy would be just fine and if I wanted to ride her, she'd be a good horse for a girl like me. She added that no one had been able to catch Gypsy before. They usually relied on letting her into the barn for her morning feeding along with the rest of the herd and simply leaving her in if she was going to be needed that day. It was decided she must like me.

As a horse crazy 11 year old, I soaked that right up. Having read the Black Stallion numerous times, I knew that of course my pony would trust only me! Close up, I looked at my new pony. Even to my uneducated eye, Gypsy was no Black Stallion. An elderly black and white pinto standing around 14hh ('she looks just like a cow!', the girls would tease) with a short neck and a big head and feet, she was homely at best. Those feet were also shaped pretty funny, but my ignorant eye couldn't have told you they were the marks of repeated laminitic episodes.

Before I got to groom Gypsy, I was warned not to tie her and not to ever use a whip near her. She had been tied and badly beaten numerous times at her previous home. The local horse community had stepped in and found Gypsy a place at the ranch, which was a trail riding business for the most part.I wish I could say she lived happily ever after, but looking back I remember her having more of a defeated air than anything else. Nevertheless, I understood Gypsy. I'm pretty sure people then would have described me with similar words.

Considered ugly by the majority, to me she was a miracle, a dream come true. She gave me freedom, security and confidence. What could be more beautiful than that?

to be continued :)

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Help Me Shop!

My much loved 'everyday' riding boots are finally nearing the end of their lives. Ditto my helmets, both of which took a tumble with me in the past few months and need to be replaced.

My current boots are the Mountain Horse High Rider ones. They look like this:
 
Or, I should say, looked like that. They're pretty beat up and the sole has started to seperate from the boot. After 5 years, though, I'm pretty impressed. Especially as I wore them to the barn every winter and did stalls in them as well. Sadly, they don't make them anymore so I need to look elsewhere.
 
Since I do have a pair of nice tall boots for showing, my new boots don't need to be super fancy or show worthy. I'd like them to be respectable enough for clinics and lessons. I won't kid myself and think I'll find another pair I can beat up as much as the last, but they do need to be comfortable enough to walk in or do chores in the odd time I forget my 'barn boots'. I'd prefer tall boots to paddock boots and half chaps.
 
I'm considering these:
 
Ovation Aeros
.
I might even go for the brown, since the majority of my lesson breeches are black. Anyone have any other recommendations?



Next up, helmets:

I had the Tipperary Sportage one, and I have to say the shape wasn't quite right. I LOVED how light and airy it was, particularly in the summer, but it wasn't very comfortable.

My other helmet that got trashed was the Troxel Reliance. I like the price point (about $150) and the style - it's fine for schooling and I used it for a local show or two as well. It's also comfy! But it is baking hot and horrible to wear in the summer.
Like so:
Anyone have a helmet they think I should try? Like the boots, it doesn't have to be show worthy, but should be respectable enough for some bigger name clinicians. Comfort is key, and I'd love for it to come in around $150 or less - not too pricey to replace when I inevitably fall off again :) I also am not very big, so a smaller profile helmet is preferred and will hopefully keep me from looking too much like a bobblehead!

 

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Quick Barn Visit


I drove out to the barn the other night in sunshine and 30 degree weather ( 86 for my farenheit friends). Compare that to the  below freezing temps and snow we saw last week and it seems I've been given the standard Alberta welcome!

The drive seemed really, really long. I'd forgotten how long! I got off work at 5 and M and Lainey's lesson was at 6, so I missed the first half. The part I did see looked really nice - M has been working hard with Lainey all winter and had Lainey braided and dressed in purple polos and a matching pad for the occasion. So cute.

Lainey seems just like I remember. I love her dearly, but I have to admit to watching
and being slightly relieved I'm not the one still picking at that inside shoulder and her tendancy plow along on the forehand in robo-horse mode given any opportunity. Lazy, stubborn girl :)
The flip side to her take control mentality is that she's incredibly safe and takes very good care of her rider - perfect for a younger rider moving up and needing a bit of a challenge, but not too much! I'm very pleased with how things have worked out and took the check happily, then shed a few tears on the drive home. I had to have a mini pity party since Lainey is sold and Ginger is on vacation - the first time I've essentially been horseless since college. Overall, though, I have a sense that this is all meant to be.

I get regular Ginger updates, and it sounds like she's settled in super well and is going to be joining the mares in the big pasture shortly. She's been in a smaller paddock for the time being, just in case she picked up a bug on the trailer ride and also to get her used to having green grass. She's been spending her time looking for attention from the barn owner and her staff and generally making herself a favorite. The barn owner has found another hauler for next time, I guess he delivered a horse to her and picked another up and she was super impressed. The last hauler came with excellent references too, so I'll still be a little worried.Thankfully, it's not for a few months yet. I've been promised pictures of Ginger now and then, and I'll be sure to post them here.

After paying Ginger's last vet bill and her hauling, it seems like my horsey fund is depleted for the month. I'm looking to start lessons in June and I'm already quite excited about it! I'll admit to being pretty jealous at the barn the other night as everyone is already into their show seasons and for the most part having a lot of fun! I've been invited to tag along next time, which I may have to do. My days and particularly my weekends seem pretty empty without Ginger around.

Lastly, it seems like several of my favorite bloggers are having a very unlucky spring. So, a quick shout out to those of you dealing with much more serious horsey issues than myself - you're in my thoughts and I'm hoping for positive outcomes for all of you!

Saturday, 4 May 2013

How Now?

About a month or so ago, I really hit rock bottom and seriously started to reconsider whether the horse thing was really "worth it". In 20 some years of horses it's the first time I've felt that way - the barn has always been my go-to happy place. I just wanted to run away and hide Ginger in our backyard and feed her treats, admiring her gorgeous self with no worries or drama.

Of course, I won't air all the dirty details on the internet. I love the barn owner at home, but things changed there as time went on and her responsibilities grew. I ended up basically doing self board, so Ginger was OK...and it's entirely possible I'm too fussy...and I should mind my own business... And I got super stressed about it.  It's a small town, there's nowhere else to go, I didn't want to hurt her feelings...yadda yadda yadda. I didn't realize what a weight would be lifted after Ginger got moved to her old home, where I know she's getting excellent care, has lots of turnout and friends and is just generally happy. It's also far less expensive, which is always helpful :)

The lack of lessons was also getting to me...I'm a person who loves trail riding, but I also like to feel like I have a purpose and we are progressing. I did try to get us involved in some clinics, but this year our luck didn't quite hold out, with me getting a nasty concussion and Ginger feeling generally bodysore - which we now know may be partly due to selenium, but I still have a hunch ulcers were involved.

Finally, the stress of moving. As we know, Ginny does not trailer well. She's polite and quiet, but she refuses to eat or drink which is a big worry on long hauls. Add to that the seeming impossibility to get any of the haulers to deviate their route even for a very special pony...and the fact that the one who finally agreed to wasn't answering their phone or returning emails and couldnt give a time frame for pickup. The end result of it all was me already being on the road and Ginger being moved over a two day time period and no one thinking of giving myself or the recieving barn owner a call....I basically felt like puking when I heard the trailer just randomly showed up one morning to deliver Ginger. Thank goodness they were home! We had both assumed she was still waiting to be picked up since no one thought to inform us otherwise. She arrived looking stressed and 'thin' so the only good part of the story is that I made the right decision in choosing not to have her brought all the way out here.

So, as the title, says, How Now?

Well, for now, I don't need to worry about Ginger. She's living the horsey version of an all inclusive vacation with your best friends.

I'm meeting with Lainey's new owners on Monday to sign the bill of sale and pick up the cheque. Bittersweet, but the right thing to do.

As far as lessons? I can take lessons at the barn here any time I'd like to start. I can half lease, I can show, basically there are plenty of options there. Will it be the same without Ginger? No, not really. I'm planning on taking a lesson once a week or so to get my fix, but beyond that, sorry, I'm saving my 'horse' money for Ginger - this may be a boring few months for blog readers!

I wish I could tell you what the direction forward will be, but I'm not quite sure myself. I'm happy to have this work term to think it over and get reenergized.There are plenty of options on the table, which is a reassuring thing. And of course, those options all involve Ginger and the ever patient and wonderful G.
My truck the other morning - when is the next flight home, again?














Thursday, 2 May 2013

The Mane Event (Redux)

The Mane Event is a horse expo held here in Western Canada. It has the giant trade show you'd expect, several clinicians, a trainer's challenge, as well as various demos and breed displays.

We're kind of groupies this year because we went to the one in Vancouver last fall, and then the one in Red Deer, AB this past weekend. I think I'm good for a few years now, and I'm pretty sure G has had enough for a lifetime :)

We went to this one because it was on our way and they are known for having really great trailer displays. Since we are still half heartedly shopping for a trailer for Ginger, it was nice to be able to compare all the brands and models in one place. Also, Alberta has no provincial sales tax so the prices are a little more reasonable!
I think this is the one: Circle J Mirage 2H:
Its an aluminum trailer on a steel frame, which is nice for us because it keeps the weight down. Our `big`truck is more than capable, but I`d love to have the option of using my little truck for short hauls or emergencies. There is a lighter model, but it`s also a bit smaller, and I think Ginger will need the extra space in the Mirage. These run in the ballpark of 10-12k new here in Canada, so obviously it`s a big purchase and something I`ll spend a few more months considering ;)

I also wanted to check out George Morris again. I have to say, the last couple of times I've seen him I leave admiring his skill and insight, but cringing on behalf of that one poor rider or jump crew member who inevitably becomes the target of his wrath. You have to admire the guy though, without fail he puts his money where his mouth is and gets on the more difficult horses to show everyone what he`s looking for and how to accomplish it. This time, he came across as a bit mellowed - still saving some nasty comments for some, but with a little less edge and a bit of a smile. As usual, I learned a lot, but this time I was wishing the venue was smaller since a number of people chose to chat and compare shopping deals, making it difficult for others to hear everything. Really, though for the $15 entry, I shouldn't complain!

We stayed and saw the breed demos and admired the Canadian Horses in particular. Some of them could easily pass for a black Welsh D and they have such wonderful temperaments. There are a couple of breeders local to me on the coast and if my cob girl hadn't chosen me I'd probably be riding a Canadian. It's probably sacrilege to the welsh breeders, but I often think the two would make a lovely cross :)


Hubba hubba. Webpage: http://www.cherrycreekcanadians.ca/zipper.htm


If anyone is familiar with the TV show "Mantracker", I literally bumped into the original mantracker this weekend. One of my friends just loves him, so I would have liked to get her a picture or autograph, but I was far too embarrassed and tongue tied after practically running him over when I tried to squish through an open door that was apparently being held open special for him-  I really didn`t want to miss that Canadian Horse demo lol. At least my friend can rest easy that I will be no competition for her since I am probably now memorable for all the wrong reasons ;)

http://www.themantracker.com/