Saturday, 30 November 2013

5 Day Challange: Day 1

Taken from Fly on Over. Thanks for the inspiration :)

1. Most Influential Person on Your Riding

This has to be the wonderful lady who owns the barn that I basically grew up at in my hometown. She's celebrating her 80th birthday tonight with no sign of slowing down. I so wish I could have been there. The short version of the story is that she took a child (me :) ) from a not-so-happy situation, knowing next to nothing about me or my family, and let me ride and 'help' on the farm for basically free. She somehow made sure we (there were always a few of us there) had just enough supervision and help to stay safe and confident, yet more than enough alone time to let us just be kids with ponies. She's super old school and just full of health and training tips that are just common sense at it's most basic. I don't think there are adequate words to convey the difference she made in my life.
I see her pretty rarely these days. The last time I saw her I was riding Ginger last winter and she reamed me out for being unsafe by riding in my western saddle that was missing the little leather straps that keep the stirrup and fender together. Then, almost in the same sentence she complimented Ginger, and told me to stop boring my poor horse in the ring, get some baling twine to fix those stirrups, and come out for a trail ride with her. Typical :)

First ride, 2011. Hey dummy, wipe that stupid grin off your face and fix your stirrups!

"Are we done in here yet?"

2. Piece of tack you'd love to splurge on

I'm actually pretty content with Ginger's tack, and have a whole nother set (or two) from horses past  *just in case* Ginger is not an only child again. We're pretty well equipped around here, and I think I've mentioned before that Ginger's stuff takes up way more room in the barn than she does. The only thing I'd really like is to find an oversized browband for the bridle I have that matches her Stubben saddle - so far it seems impossible to find at a price point I'm able to justify, and I'm too cheap to buy a completely new $250 bridle for her and pay to have it shipped from the UK, which seems to be the cheapest distrubutor to Canada.

Actually, that's a pretty ghetto pad and girth too...never mind, the pony needs new everything for xmas!


3. Top 5 riding playlist

I don't listen to music while riding. Particularly on Ginger, I think it would be a little dangerous. She's so aware of her surroundings that for me to be tuned out in any way would be asking for trouble. I do sing songs for her, which she enjoys - she's very voice oriented. No one in their right mind would ever listen my singing, so it's actually pretty awesome that she likes it when I rock out. Added bonus is it scares off wildlife and crazy humans who recognize my 'next level of crazy' superiority immediately upon hearing us coming. :)  I don't think she has a top five greatest hits, but I'll check in with her on that. :)


Keep moving...nothing to hear here....

4. Most important aspect of your barn?

Since we're sort of in barn limbo right now I'll just say it has to be safe and provide excellent care for the pony. She needs to be happy and healthy - everything else is negotiable.
Preferences beyond that include lots of turnout, a nice dry stall, some form of ring,  and a trail system available close by. Coaching, jumps, hot water, and of course great barnmates are also total bonuses.

Maybe a little of the Alberta sized pasture with some big city amenities. I think we could both handle that!
5. Three winter riding goals

- Get us both happily back into it
- Take as many lessons and clinics as we can find
- Keep it fun

I'm thinking days at the beach,



Nice long runs,



and a good party now and then, birthday hat optional

Friday, 29 November 2013

Yoga!?!


I got an invite a few weeks ago to attend a beginner yoga class with a friend of mine. I'll admit right now that it's not anywhere near the first time I've been encouraged to try yoga. Until recently, I've always dug my heels in and been too 'busy'. I've always imagined yoga to be a bit of a "spiritual-get-in-touch-with-your-inner-self" type endeavor and that scared me, being the super logical, not overly emotional type person that I am. Add to that my short and not exactly graceful stature and I was pretty sure that physically yoga would be near impossible for me. Nope, sorry, I’m much happier riding/running/biking – something with a goal, a destination, a purpose.

So, despite all my doubts, I was guilted into going. The class was going to be cancelled if someone else didn’t sign up and my friend was going to be really disappointed if that happened.

And it was good!  All those things I struggle with in my riding? The instructor noticed them when I walked in the door, even before the class started, and picked a few poses/stretches she thought would help. “Keep your shoulders back.” ”Don’t turn your feet out, you’re making your stance weak and asking for ankle/knee/hip trouble.” “Eyes up!” “You need to imagine a line from ankle/knee/hip” “Get your power from your core. By collapsing your shoulders you are giving away that power” “Think strong, but relaxed.” – it was all there –every single one of the things my poor riding instructors nag me about…and it all made perfect sense when confronted with the fact that I literally cannot balance well enough to do some of the poses if I am not using my body correctly. If anything, it’s a little harder to have a weak body position in yoga than in riding. Let’s face it, at my riding level, my horses certainly let me know when I’m not pulling my weight, but the consequences are usually just that they don’t go as well as they should. If I fell off my horse every time I let my left shoulder collapse I’d have learned long ago to STOP doing that J

I’m sure many of you out there are smarter than me and incorporate yoga/Pilates/stretches/proper body position into your everyday lives and exercise routines. For those of you out there like me who only really think about it when your riding instructor is nagging you for the billionth time, try working on it outside of riding. Seriously.  After a yoga class, I feel like I’ve had a really great riding lesson focusing on my position. All the same muscles ache to tell me I’m doing it right, no horses were confused in the process, and the cost is a measly $10. I think that’s a win.

That being said, I’m still not entirely convinced yoga is exactly what I was missing in my gym routine – I still have my reservations about some of it. The dark room and ‘Zen’ music is, I think, always going to give me the giggles J. Perhaps something more martial arts based or strength based will be what I end up liking better. For now though, this is an excellent intro for a beginner like me, and, as mentioned, is pretty much directly applicable to my riding - a huge selling feature for a horse nut like myself.


Anyone out there have something they’d recommend for me to try next? I heard a rumor I’m finished work and heading home VERY soon so I’ll have even more time to pursue my never ending quest to become a better rider - with a horse to ride, evenJ

Monday, 25 November 2013

In Which Ginger Applies For A Job And Receives An Interview Request

Backstory - Earlier this summer I was so fed up with my job I started sending out tons of applications for different positions. As some of you job hunters will know, many companies now ask you to create an online profile with them and submit your application through their company website. Eventually, if you apply to enough jobs over a long enough period of time, you'll type in your email address and the application upload will be denied because at some point you already created a profile with that address at that company. And if you're anything like me, you have no clue what the password would be and you probably created the profile so long ago it's more work to update it than to just create a new one. That was my thinking at least, when it happened to me on a provincial government job board. No big deal I thought, because I have the gmail account that goes with this blog, right? Just create a new profile with my gmail account, attach my resume, answer the screening questions, and voila! I applied for a job during my coffee break and I felt all amazing and efficient :)

Fast forward to the other night when I finally wrote a new blog post. Oh hey, I have a couple of new emails. And OMG one is an interview request. Oh shoot, and it's for last Friday....:(. I thought it was a bit strange that they emailed an interview request for the following day without any phone conversations, but mentally made a note that I need to check my gmail account more often, or change the job profile back to my primary account. This morning I got to thinking it was a bit rude of me not to reply to their request at all and I'd better send a 'thanks for considering me, sorry I didn't receive your email in a timely manner' type response.

It was then that I realized the email was addressed to Gingersnap. And that my gmail/blogger profile is set up such that the profile name is Gingersnap, complete with a cute little picture of Ginny. Their application system apparently took my gmail profile and used that as my contact info - I'm guessing they didn't read my attached resume at all, just saw that 'Gingersnap' did well on the pre screening questions and asked her in for an interview. No wonder they didn't call, Ginger may have her own blog and email address but she unfortunately does not a phone. So potential employer, I thank you for your interest, and I can honestly say you live up to your 'equal opportunity employer' promise :)

So, job hunting score: Ginger: 1, T: 0.

Lazy pony can't even get out of bed for a job interview. Horses these days....


Sunday, 24 November 2013

Confidence/2014

I thought I'd write a post on this, mostly because it's been on my mind a lot lately. I'm also starting my 2014 goals and thoughts early because my life is only a couple of weeks away from starting fresh and as far as I'm concerned, that's a better excuse to turn over a new leaf than a date on the calender.
 (Be warned this post contains some negativity for the sake of honesty and context :)

I envy those who come by confidence naturally, and admire those who have enough world experience to earn it the hard way.

It's something I struggle with on a regular basis, a lack of confidence. It sneaks around in the back of my mind until I finally notice that it's not sneaking anymore, it's right there front and center affecting my better judgement.

I am a very strong person inside. I know this. I've been through horrible situations and stupid decisions and always come out a stronger, better person. I am entirely capable of doing most anything I set my mind to - if not, I work harder until I can. I know this. I have an amazing partner, and an incredible horse. Again, I know this.

I feel like I've had a bit of a beating in 2013, though. There was the not so stellar year with Ginger, and the stresses that come with living 1500 miles away from G. More recently, the job has become pretty stressful. Budget concerns and department restructuring are bringing out the worst in a few people, including my direct supervisor. Logically, I know I have done nothing wrong and I am good at my job. I've never fully trusted the guy so I keep pretty accurate records of everything. Still, a little piece of confidence leaves me every time I am tossed to the wolves and left to fend for myself, or made to feel guilty for leaving in a few short weeks. That negative part of me wants to take the situation personally, rather than logically just seeing it for what it is and having the confidence to move forward unscathed.

How does this apply to horses? For me, it has everything to do with my success or lack thereof in my chosen sport. The above mentioned work situation and the resulting lack of confidence is a mirror image of my feelings after a bad lesson, an overheard criticism, a health issue with one of the horses, a boarding situation gone wrong, a bad fall. It's always what have I done wrong, what could I have done better, what did I do to make this situation happen? Most of all, did I do right by my horse? In short, taking every situation personally, whether its appropriate to or not, and magnifying those emotions by 10 because there is another living being involved who's welfare directly depends on my actions.

Of course it's healthy to critique yourself and realize your shortcomings and work to improve. It's not so healthy to let your confidence slide away due to things beyond your control or things you shouldn't hold yourself accountable for. Consider me guilty for both the first and the second, not so healthy option. My confidence is at an all time low, particularly where horses are concerned.

There are a lot of positives here though. All the pieces of the puzzle are coming together for 2014. I'm going home to G. Ginger will be there at the end of December. She's going to a great barn. There is someone in the area offering lessons that I think will suit us quite well. I'm going back to a job that I loved, and a place where I am valued. I'm fitter than I've ever been. Ginger has had time to recuperate and mature. I've had plenty of time this year to evaluate my priorities in the horsey world.

I know what I need to do. I see the paths I can take to get there. I've got plenty of time, and more than enough determination. The negative garbage cluttering my brain is the only thing slowing me down, and I recognize it and am going to work hard to move on- it's not going to be sneaking around in there any more. If history has taught me anything, I am going to come out of all this stronger and more capable than before.

So, here's to better times ahead for me, and everyone else out there that's been having a not so great year. Let's get the 2014 party started.


Sunday, 17 November 2013

Found a Great Place to Board

Via a friend of a friend of a friend on facebook, of course. 

I've been having a bit of a meltdown over the past few days - the ferry terminal that connects our town to Vancouver Island is apparently going to be out of service for January-March. It's not a huge deal for most because the Vancouver route is still running and there's going to be an alternate route to the island as well. BUT, for horse haulers? Apparently a big deal because they like to do a sort of circular route that involves the ferry to the island. Does the ferry company not know that I'm expecting very important cargo right around then? :) Combine that with the fact I'd really rather not use the hauler that took Ginger last time and suddenly my choices are super, super limited.

And then boarding? As I've mentioned, I'm sure more than once, choices are again super, super limited. Again, I didn't want to use the barn I went to last time, for crazy barn drama reasons we don't need to discuss on a public blog. I really like the owner, let's just leave it at that. But, she's the only show in town. The other decent barn is wait listed for literally years.

I was getting ready to tear my hair out and never attempt to own a horse again ( only half-joking here, sadly).

Can I just say now that I really do know some of the greatest people? I had emailed the hay supplier to pre order Ginger's winter supply, and she asked if I was looking for boarding as well when I came back. Why yes, I am! Turns out the place across the road from her where they store the hay was considering taking on boarders. She gave me a great reference and just like that, I had a really good boarding option. Then, the same day, the lady who is looking after Ginger saw an ad for a hauler with my town on the route. Turns out it's the guy that brought Ginger to Alberta for me branching out on his own with a new company! I had thought he was out of business, but I'm very pleasantly surprised. We're just ironing out all the final details so I don't know if Ginger will be home with me at xmas, but he is a good hauler and he's willing to make the trip so I'm happy.

As far as the boarding, they can take Ginger any time. They have a gorgeous barn with new stalls and attached paddocks. Best part of all - 12 acres of pasture for Ginger to share with only 2 other horses. I've got serious real estate envy. There is no ring on site, but I have friends within about a 5 minute ride in either direction that have rings on their properties, so it's not too big of a deal. I'm apprehensive that it's full board ( non working horse lovers can't have a huge budger!) but I'm hoping my hours at the therapeutic riding barn will help cover the extra.

This is starting to feel like it's really happening!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Eight Things That Make Me Happy

I'm slowing creeping back to my usual sickeningly cheerful self. Why? Let's make a list. Lists are fun. We'll start with the small stuff and work up to the bigger stuff.

1. There is a very large amount of leftover halloween candy at work.

2. Time change = 1 extra hour of sleep.

3. They fixed the heat at work. No more freezing and wearing my winter coat to meetings!

4. I found a place to live until I leave... and I leave SOON!!!

5. Greg is flying out to road trip back with me.

6. Got an email that Ginger is doing great, and a friend of mine is trying out a pony next weekend from the same farm. So excited for her (and her daughter!)
                                        This guy lives there too and is one cool pony!

7. The therapeutic riding group where I used to work just emailed me to see if I'm available to come back and work for them. Why yes, yes I am. I love the kids and of course the horses there. It's a wonderful place to work and I've really missed it the past couple of years.

8. I just got invited to someone's 80th birthday party. Not only is she healthy and happy, she also still runs the barn I grew up at and mucks her own stalls and tosses hay bales farther than I can. In true farm girl style she's having a bonfire and barbeque. A friend of mine posted on facebook that she wishes she'll look that good at 60. I was like 60???!! she's 80!!!! I can't even describe how great I think that is.

More generally speaking, I'm feeling like G and I are on the same page about where the future is taking us (and Ginger!). After the last few years of being (literally) all over the map, it's a nice feeling. We've lined up a couple of horsey properties to view when I get back, and while it may not come to anything, it's still pretty darn neat to have someone so supportive of my hobbies.


Saturday, 2 November 2013

The S Word

Ugghh...I woke up this morning and happily logged on to my computer. What do I immediately see when I go to use Google? A Google public alert. For a Snowfall Warning! I tried to ignore the link but it was following me everywhere I went so I gave up and clicked it and admitted to myself that I live in CANADA. Which means there is usually snow in the winter. Boo!


I dislike this very much

I'm one of the spoiled few in the Great White North. I usually reside in one of the few parts of the country with little to no freezing temps every winter and only a rare dump of white (and that is cause for national news). So this Alberta/Saskatchewan snow-that-doesn't-go-away-for-6-months thing is something I am not accustomed to. Also...proper winter attire...snow tires...plugging in your car...not using summer grade windshield washer fluid... all things I learned the hard way lol. Not to mention horse related things like round bales, heated water buckets and not actually picking poop in the paddock all winter. (Oh, and blogging when I should apparently be out stocking up on groceries;) The leaning curve the past couple of years has been steep. And who am I kidding - I bailed out all of last winter and spent my time on the coast and in Mexico. I LOVE warm weather! 

I do have to say though, while I might not like it myself, the horses here seem to thrive in this environment, much more so than on the coast. On the coast we are constantly dealing with mud, and rain scald, mud fever, and all the things that go along with wet, damp horses living in a rainforest. This means blanketing, or at least bringing them in at night to dry off. It means leaving your horse in after a ride, not because they're super sweaty, but because they're soaking wet. It also means very careful paddock management and sometimes minimal turnout. On the prairies, they are usually brought into smaller paddocks for the winter, but beyond that, life seems to continue on as normal, except the hay is more frequent and the water is heated. Most of the places I've seen don't even have a shelter in the paddock - I see windbreaks more commonly. The more regularly ridden horses certainly get clipped and blanketed and brought in at night, but your average, every day horse seems to have pretty minimal requirements out here.

Due to some 'interesting' rental developments ( house sold and they gave me exactly 25 days to move - making my move out day Nov 25th - and  I'm sure I'll have no problem finding a place to rent for 3 weeks starting Nov 26 ha ha) I may be terminating the contract here sooner than expected and moving on to (literally) greener pastures, once again escaping part of 'real' winter. I expect Ginger will stay where she is until after Christmas. Unless we can find the best hauler ever who actually lives up to that reputation AND will haul to where I live, we'll be picking her up ourselves with a new trailer. YAY! :)