Thursday, 29 August 2013

Ginger's Digs

As I mentioned in my previous update, she's looking AMAZING. This is pretty embarrassing to admit, but when we pulled into the farm and parked the truck I walked right by her field! I saw her in the distance, but the shape had me thinking she was one of the farm owner's more mature cob mares :)

So. we had a quick visit at the other pasture with the other welsh cob mares, all of whom are gorgeous and were crowding the fence, vying for our attention. I could hear a horse whinnying for us in another paddock, and found this:



Beautiful Welsh D begging for our attention, but, again, not Ginger!

 
Finally, I walked over to the truck to grab Ginger's stuff before resuming the search, and there she was, quietly waiting for me by the truck. I guess she was letting us know she knows who she belongs to, but is way too cool to make a big dramatic display about it like SOME ponies lol.

Of course, she was immediately fed the rest of our fruit stand apples and spoiled thoroughly. (G was like : "You are NOT taking these nice apples to feed Ginger." Then, guess who gave her almost all 'his' apples:)

I gave her a good grooming, which she loved. As mentioned, she's filled out considerably - she looks like a mature Sec D at last. Silly girl has again rubbed out the top bit of her tail, and her mane is really long with a shorter patch she's rubbed, so I'll have some work to do to get her looking 'proper' again. She's the itchiest horse EVER, so the mane and tail rubbing is an ongoing thing with her, not to mention the belly scratching! I've yet to find any reason for the excess rubbing (dry skin, allergies, bug bites, etc), it just seems to be one of her quirks. Ms Ginny does like to do everything to excess, so I guess I shouldn't find it too odd. I'm sad to see the relatively small blanket rub she got last Christmas on her mane grew in a completely white section of mane - it's pretty punk looking :( Every little scrape she gets seems to do that, I'm not sure if it's because she already has a lot of roan type hair or whether we're just unlucky.
I taught her to bow! Actually no, she's just itchy...again.

She then took me on a tour of her paddock and introduced me to her friend around the barn and across the fence. I know it sounds completely anthropomorphized and silly, but as far as I can tell this is exactly what happens. Every time I move her or she has a new paddock neighbour, she is quite deliberate about either wanting to introduce me to her new friend or wanting me to see she doesn't like her neighbour. She'll also show me her new shelter, water bucket, etc. She's never rude or pushy about it and I think it's pretty funny so I play along. After she's done it once, she forgets about it and she won't do it again until the next time something major changes.

Geeky fly mask horses. Her new friend on the left:

I love their indoor, it's really nice for the summer, and probably just fine for the fairly mild winters they get:


Super ginormous Ginger mansion. Hard to tell in the pic but it's probably about 16ft wide and 24ft or so deep:


All of my Ginger pictures basically suck since she was following so close and really wanted to visit, and being pony deprived I had absolutely no problem with that. G was wondering quite how I got so filthy, them he saw the multiple hugs Ginger was getting.

She just can't stay away for something as silly as a photo op

I have lots of pictures of this nose. Is it an elephant or a horse? lol
 The weather was obscenely hot and humid, so I resisted the urge to lunge her for some nice pics. We had intended to take her up the nice trail through the neighbours vineyard, but it just didn't seem fair given the weather, and we opted to return the following day.

Sad true story, though, farm owner was away on her own vacation and all the area hotels are booked, apparently because they're shooting a movie there (with George Clooney!). So, as we got farther and farther from town, we opted to leave Ginger to admire George on her own and continue on our travels. I was a bit upset not to spend more time there, but at least we had a really good visit :)

I'm already counting the days until I get to ditch this city girl act and return to the horsey life-
T-92 days!



Vacation Shopping

Tomorrow is payday! Great, right? Nope, it's all got to go to paying off my credit card that was used way too much on vacation. I admit, it's still kind of awesome although my more responsible side feels more than a little guilty about my splurges. I blame G for actually stopping the truck at every tack store. He should know better and just keep driving :) I'd glad we bought the extended cab model truck, because the back section turned into my mobile tack store. Hey, we have no kids, so we might as well find a use for that space, right ?

First stop was in Chilliwack, BC. There's a little tack store that sells the basics cheaper than I've ever seen. So I loaded up on Swat and Supershield Green fly spray for Ms Gingersnap, as well as some cheap vet wrap because vet wrap is one of those things I can't seem to have enough of. I also bought a new schooling/trail helmet for myself, which I'm quite happy with for the price. I think the total bill for everything came to $45.

Helmet is pretty comfy and super affordable:
http://www.ovationriding.com/helmets/ovation-protg-helmet-467716


Next up, Greenhawk Kelowna. This was a pricey stop. 2 new pairs of gorgeous breeches at half price, a rainsheet for Ginger, a fly mask, more fly spray, 2 saddle pads, 2 pairs of gloves, Cowboy Magic detangler, and a new cactus cloth type mitt. I was super close to buying a new safety vest as well, but with all the gym time lately I've been losing weight (and I'm super determined to keep getting fitter) and would hate to end up with one that's too big.

The breeches are like so, and I got grey and beige:


Elation Platinum Euro Seat Breech. www.greenhawk.com
I wish I could adequately describe these breeches - they're beautiful! The material is a tech type fabric that's lightweight without being TOO lightweight for those of us who'd rather leave a little to the imagination :) Reg price is $139 and they were on sale for 50% off. I'm very happy with my purchase. I saw several people in the Thunderbird hunter classes wearing them so it would appear I'll be one of the cool kids for the next couple of months at least ;)

Ginger's rainsheet looks like this:


Again, at www.greenhawk.com
Pink plaid is going to look super cute on her! Sale price was $89, so not a screaming deal, but I've had these sheets before and they hold up really well. It was much too hot out to put it on her for a photo op, so you get to see the pretty Greenhawk model horse instead.

The saddle pads are pretty standard - a black one with silver piping and a navy one with lime green piping, again sale priced at 40% so I 'needed' them. The gloves are also basic : your standard summer leather crochet back type. I got a pair in black and a pair in baby blue for fun.

Ginger did model her new fly mask for us:



So ridiculous :)



Finally, a stop in Kamloops, at the Horse Barn. This is a more western themed place, but it's HUGE! They have a regular sized store space for boots and clothing, a second for basic farm/stable supplies, a third for saddles, and another for blankets, saddle pads, etc. It's kind of crazy. They even have a big art/gift gallery in the upstairs part, and a feed store attached. I saw tons of things there I really wanted, but sadly nothing was on enough of a sale for me to jump at. I ended up with a cowboy themed day planner for 2014 with great photography.
The boots I saw that I'm going to get. I have a similar pair I wear everywhere that have finally earned replacing. Justin Gypsys:  http://www.justinboots.com

I think I have now exceeded my tack/apparel budget for 2013, but it sure was fun!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Thunderbird Show Park

I think I'll start my horsey vacation events recap with the most recent first.

Yesterday, on my way back to Vancouver, I talked the ever agreeable G into spending a day at Thunderbird Show Park in Langley, BC. I was tempted by the $100k Grand Prix taking place in the afternoon, he was tempted by my promise of German beer and, of course, concession stand hot dogs. He's a pretty easy sell ;)

I've been to Thunderbird once before for a regional Quarter Horse show a friend was taking part in. That was a number of years ago now. I was aware that the parks main purpose in life is mainly to hold hunter/jumper shows throughout the summer months, but the timing just never worked out for me to visit, so I was left with a rather vague imnpression of a mid winter visit to a couple of their indoor stabling areas and a rather crowded trade show area. Living in Alberta of course all you hear about is Spruce Meadows. Even in BC, Spruce is the venue my friends all talk about visiting. Long story short, Thunderbird had (unfairly) fallen off my radar.

We followed Google maps which apparently led us to the 'back door' of the park - the camping and horse trailer parking area for competitors. FYI, it's on the exact opposite end of the park as the main entrance and the main arenas :) No problem for me, I got an up close look at a lot of very beautiful horses (and tons of very expensive gear!). As a result of our little adventure, I can also say with authority that the grounds and facilities are stunning - absolutely gorgeous and incredibly well maintained.

We showed up in time to watch a 10k jumper class in one of the main rings. It was a super fun course with lots of twisty turns and roll backs that caught out a few competitors. I'm not sure what the footing was, but it was some sort of sand/fiber mix that I immediately wanted for my own - it looked like a prettier, fluffier version of the Nike footing we have at our club grounds at home (So technical, I know ;)

Here's a couple of pics from that class:
So pretty!

Quick little grey made it to the jump off

Bad pic of the triple combination that a few people had trouble with
After feeding G, we wandered over to the Grand Prix ring. Again, the grass and landscaping was immaculate and the jumps were beautiful. We ended up being too late for bleacher seats so we sat on the grass ringside in the sun. I got a super awesome farmer tan complete with a ring around my neck from the necklace I was wearing. I also got pretty envious of the caliber of riding - G was like "you should practice and do this sometime." What a sweetie he is. I had to gently explain to him that I am not as good of a rider as that, or even as good as the small children we saw on their hunter ponies :) He thought I was being falsely modest, and was pretty sure Ginger was up for the course too - gotta love him.

Some not so great pics from the grand prix:


People who actually pay for seats get to sit in the nice pavillion in the background and have drinks and appies served

Our free seats on the back side of the ring. Complimentary hot dogs and beer available if you're nice to your girlfriend :)

 
On our way out, I took a shot of one of the practice rings for the hunters. Gorgeous ring and jumps!




In my next life, I would like to have enough money to tour around to shows like this with my horse in tow.
 
If you're curious there is much more info (and nicer pictures!) here:

http://www.tbird.ca/

I see on the schedule that they hold dressage shows in the spring and fall. Maybe Ginger and I do have a chance of living this particular dream :)
 

Friday, 23 August 2013

Ginger Visit!

We stopped in at Ginger's place yesterday. I don't even think I can begin to describe how excited I was to see her. I'm sure G was ready to divorce me with my google mapping ("142 km to Ginger's place", "140.5 km to Ginger's place", "139 km or 1 hr 20 min to Ginger", etc etc for days in advance ;)

She's looking great, although shockingly wide! She really filled out these past few months. 6 apparently really is the magic year for cobs. To be fair, she's a tiny bit overweight ( G asked if she was pregnant, lol) but she's also very stout. No more gangly legs and narrow-for-a-cob body. In my biased opinion she's looking the best she ever has. I'm really, really happy with the decision to leave her here for the summer, although I have many days where everything is wrong with the world because I can't get my horsey fix!

I have to keep this short as we're currently on a lake with sketchy cell/Internet service and I'm posting from an iPhone. I have tons of pictures and some other horsey adventures to recap in full when I get home next week :)

Photos are not so great as she really wanted to visit and I brought bags and bags of "presents" for her that were entirely too interesting, like the fly mask I'm holding while I try to take pictures!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

T- 3 days

Until I leave for vacation!

On the horsey end of things, I've already got my tack shop stops all mapped out, a day at the races planned, and of course a couple of days to visit Ginger mid week. I'm more excited for this than I ever was for Christmas as a kid.

Also, weather permitting, we're going whitewater rafting, which I've never done and am really looking forward to. For G (ok, and me too;) , a CFL football game and a Mariners baseball game. Again, for me, we just might have time to look at a potential stablemate for Ginger.  I might finally be ready to find a replacement for the irreplaceable Lainey.

Speaking of Lainey, she's doing great! I got sent some photos of a very happy girl and Lainey with their division championship ribbon from last weekend. So nice of the new owners to keep me in the loop and send me updates and pictures.They couldn't be happier with her. I heard through the grapevine they are buying an acreage so Lainey can come live at home with them, and they've already bought her a gorgeous new trailer. Perfect home, or what?  It's one of those things in life that seems like it was just meant to be.

Now, after months of boring old work, how on earth am I supposed to get any sleep between now and Saturday when all the fun stuff comes back into my life? :)

Saturday, 10 August 2013

"Crisis" Averted

As always, I just needed to sit down and discuss things on a more serious note with G.

I started with "I never thought I'd say this, but we CAN'T buy a farm!". ( All panicky and dramatic too :)

I proceeded to list off all my concerns:

-I'm scared to owe so much money
-I'm scared he's doing this just for me and won't be happy
-I'm scared it will be a giant money pit
-I'm scared I won't be able to find a real job there
-I don't think I want to board other people's horses...

Right around here he was like "??!!!???"

Apparently the boarding thing was not seriously on his agenda, where I thought it was the only way to justify the expense of a big barn and acreage. He thinks we'll just enjoy the privacy and if I get lonely/bored without riding buddies or want a bit of 'horse money', then by all means we'd invite a friend or two to board there. Being a guy, he looked at the barn, and thought 'storage!', where I looked at it and calculated I could fit 12 stalls in there lol. He also mentioned he thought I wouldn't want to be too tied down, just in case I want to take the odd contract for 'real world' work now and then, but wouldn't it be nice to have our own property and a place to keep my horses when I'm home?

Well yes, yes, it would be. I still have reservations about the cost of the particular place we're interested in, so the anxiety isn't quite gone yet, but I do like what G is planning. Who would have ever thought he'd be the one convincing me this is a good idea?

Jen had a great point in the last comments. All my worries could be solved by finding a really great boarding situation. She's completely right, of course. Sadly, there is no one boarding at home, but there are always options if you look hard enough and are willing to get creative. I shouldn't shut the door on that quite yet :)

I am happy to finish up the contract here and just take things as they come after that. I miss G and Ginger hugely, and am really, really, missing my horse time and the friends that go with it. My vacation time can't come soon enough.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

RCMP Musical Ride

The amazing club members at home hosted the RCMP musical ride this past weekend at our club facilities. How awesome is that? I was incredibly sad to miss it, and even more upset that I couldn't be there to pitch in and help get the grounds ready.

I've previously seen them once before at home, and again at the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver last summer. They are comprised of a troop of 36 riders and horses that spend the summer months touring around Canada. Here in Canada, we see the mounties all the time. You see them even more frequently if you belong to a certain element of the population ;). Less often, we see them in their red serge and riding boots on special occasions. Holidays, parades, heck, one even walked me up to the stage receive my high school diploma. What we don't usually see is them actually riding horses.

The RCMP are federal police officers, policing all of Canada. They are assigned different posts throughout their career, often travelling from one end of the county to the other. All of the riders in the musical ride are regular staff members who have applied for a 3 year posting on the musical ride. Most have no prior equestrian experience and once accepted to the program attend a very rigorous training program.

The horses are Hanoverian, bred specially by the RCMP at a farm in Ontario. They are bred to be uniformly black, have excellent temperaments and enough stamina to stand up to a very busy summer touring schedule.

Why am I exceptionally sad to miss them this time? A few years ago, we met an RCMP officer and his wife through some good friends. After talking horses a time or two, and some changes in their personal situation, he decided he'd like to try out for the musical ride. I gave him a lesson or two on Lainey and showed him the basics of horse care and handling- he was a natural. They moved away about a year or so ago - he had been accepted for training for the musical ride in Ottawa! So, this visit would have had extra special meaning - I would have loved to have been there to cheer him on :)


If you're curious, there's much more info at http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca

Somebody's Got Some 'Splainin To Do

"Why on earth is she not jumping at the chance to move home and buy a farm?" I know you're thinking it!

I've been waffling back and forth on so many things in my life lately. I keep thinking I'll blog once I have decisions made, once everything is in place and less confusing. After reading the Poor Woman Showing blog ( http://poorwomanshowing.blogspot.ca/2013/08/all-thoughts-they-make-no-sense.html ) this afternoon, I'm reminded once again that I don't really need all the answers perfectly in place to write this blog. This is as good a place as any to muddle through my thoughts.

Here's a recap of 2013 so far. As many of you that have been reading this blog have probably guessed, this past winter was a bit of a disaster horse wise. Don't get me wrong, we had a lot of fun, and a lot of good moments, but overall, it was a pretty bad experience. There are bad boarding situtations, then there are bad boarding situations that are the only show in town. And you're invited. For a decent fee of course :)  I can rest easy knowing that I gave Ginger great care and made sure she had fresh water and 3 square meals, but the stress was out of this world.  I managed to ignore poor Ginger's "not quite rightness" and got myself in a wreck not once, but twice. I still can't sit comfortably at my desk for the entire day, but the migraines are finally gone :) Then, it came time to return to Alberta, where we had so much fun the previous summer. But, despite all my best efforts, Ginger was stressed and thin and vaguely sore around her back and facing a long trailer ride to an 'in training only' type barn. Hmm. I decided to send her on a shorter trip to the lovely lady that I had bought her from, who has tons of pasture and lots of beautiful, well cared for cobs. Best decision ever. I got back to Alberta to the news that the leasers of my second horse were opting to buy. Again, welcome news as they are a wonderful home. But part of me was a little heartbroken, because with Lainey went all that hard work and the chance of eventing this year.

So. Where does that leave me? Muddling through a lot of things. Here's what I know:

- Horses were not fun this past year. I love Ginger to death, but if I'm honest, the stress far outweighed the benefits.

- I felt like a big fat failure. My horse got sore and thin and stressed on my watch and despite all my best efforts.

- Horse people kind of suck sometimes, and I'm not as good at ignoring it as I should be.

- With Ginger, at least, if I want to do things seriously (other than trail riding), I need a coach at my disposal. Ginger is a tough ride, and if I'm honest, she's a bit above my current riding ability - we can meet in the middle 99% of the time, but that 1% really really hurts. We need a regular check in with a coach or clinician to keep that 1% shrinking.

- I needed a break.

- I need a job/ bank account. I would not be okay with G paying for everything, particularly the horses.

- I want to be with G for the rest of my life.

- I really want horses to be fun again. I'm mentally at a place again where I think they will be.

And now, the muddled thoughts:

- Considering a second horse. Preferably a sec C or  D, but really anything sane and quiet and able to event. Something to have fun on, learn on. Basically replaces Lainey.

-Considering aiming Ginger at dressage. She can be a hot, spooky mess, and I am not uber confident over fences. Maybe for now eventing is not going to be our thing. Trainer Girl tried to gently push us down the dressage path, maybe I need to listen :)

-Considering breeding Ginger. Again, if I'm honest, next to trail riding, this would be the job she'd be happiest at. Does the world need a mini Ginger? If I had my own farm with room for mini Ginger to live for life if need be, then yes, of course it does!

-The job. I love my current career. Do I want to give it up and go back to the wilderness and head on into horses full time after the beating the horse world gave me last winter?

-Yes, that's right, with the big farm would come the decision of whether I want to be managing a barn again. A decent barn, which the area desperately needs. I think if we do this, I owe it to G to stick around and stop taking jobs away from home, therefore I would need to find local employment in a very tough market. Managing a barn is something I've done before and enjoyed, and since we'd own a giant barn anyways....

-I'm tired of being away from G. Life is too short. I feel like a horrible selfish person some days for being here rather than there. I have no idea why I feel so driven to be completely independent and self sufficient, but after a certain point it's really not productive - and financial and career success means even less without someone to share it with.

Posting now before I change my mind!
Important things in life - G taking Ginger for a 'swim' this past spring.