Sunday, 30 November 2014

No Goal December

After the great ideas of 2 Pointober and No Stirrup November, I'm officially implementing my own brand of rider improvement: No Goal December.

I could brand it all fancy and promote it to the cool kids, but let's face it, that's too much like work.

I either just scraped through or failed the majority of my November goals. I won't depress myself further with a recap - let's just say November was all about real life problems and it wasn't my month to shine on the horsey front. 
How I feel too - Bridget being so tired she can't even hold  her own head up :) 

This morning, I had about a million things to do before my lesson, and I was getting STRESSED because I had set a goal to bring Ginger and I was late and had no time to prep and the roads were icy making me second guess whether riding and ponying a second horse on them up to the ring really was a smart idea anyway and what if the ring was covered in snow and slippery, oh shoot I forgot to drive by and check first and maybe I should have bought a membership to the indoor arena but then I'd have to borrow a trailer and I feel like that's a big favour to keep asking  but I'm not sure I want to buy my own yet and what if I suck at pulling a trailer and never use it anyway.... (yes it seriously went like that...just one big panicky run on sentence going through my head). I've also had  multiple frustrating rides on Bridget mare and that's not how my plan is supposed to go and what if I'm ruining her or what if she's sore somewhere and maybe I'm doing something wrong or maybe we both need a better fitness program. and and and! 

Deep breaths! Smile. Horses live in the moment and don't care about plans and schedules and goals or what happened last ride, remember? This is supposed to be fun, right? And then I had the most brilliant idea of all: No Goal December, where the only plan is to enjoy my horse time and for everyone to survive intact. January is only a month away and is all about goals and resolutions anyways, right?
Ginger is always smart enough to come right up to the barn AFTER it's apparent Bridget is the one being captured.
So, I tacked up Bridget, because she came up to the barn when I called. I walked her up the road because it was icy. We made it just in time for our lesson, but when I got to the ring I saw it was still covered in snow. I tried to think about how fun riding in the snow would be, and then it was fun. Funny how that works. We worked on walk/trot spirals, leg yields, counterbending, and halt/trot transitions on about a 15m circle where the ground had thawed a bit. Then we did turns on the forehand and haunches. We didn't try to use up the whole hour. We had fun. Bridget pony got a lot of 'good girls' and scratches. I checked all my mental stress baggage at the door, and she tried her heart out and marched out of there afterwards like she was the best pony ever. Which of course she is (tied with Ginger, naturally ;)

And then I went back to the barn and played Princess Ponies and brushed and detangled Bridget's tail in the sunshine for a really long time. Because that's just fun.



Saturday, 29 November 2014

Spirit of The Season Contest (And Quick Farrier Update)

Ginger had her feet done this morning, without any drama other than her eyes and ears trying to convey to everyone her sadness at being so violated by an almost stranger. This is a huge victory in pony land, but I'll spare you the detailed recap. After all, she did nothing wrong, stood quietly. and her feet are looking great. I didn't tempt fate by taking any pictures of her crazy eyes, you'll just have to trust me that they were...expressive :) Other than that, a normal, boring, non blog worthy farrier visit for Ginger? Yep, we just had one. Yeah! Win for Ginger, and a win for the vet's magical hoof dressing. Many celebratory treats were consumed by all.

In more exciting news, KateRose at Peace and Carrots is having a giveaway everyone should enter. Entries are gained by either donating or volunteering to a great cause this holiday season. Check out her (wonderful) blog for all the details HERE

I was going to be all grinchy and angry about some politics with our local riding club and not volunteer this season, but her kindhearted gesture made me feel super guilty and I baked a bunch of cookies and squares yesterday for the club to sell for their annual Christmas craft and baking fundraiser. I'm not going to enter KateRose's contest since I suspect Ginger's fat head is too large for the halter she's giving away, but I do think everyone else should get out there and overwhelm her with entries :)
It snowed slightly this morning, which is a rare thing here and is getting everyone into the Christmas spirit! (Except the ponies, they're just sleepy apparently)


Friday, 28 November 2014

The Isolation Ward

I've blogged before about just how isolated it can feel here, particularly in winter (non tourist) season. This is still a fair sized place, there's just not a lot of people coming or going this time of year and everyone seems to sort of hibernate til spring when we are back to farmer's markets and festivals.
At least Bridget doesn't mid hanging out on her own!

 We're super close to Vancouver as the crow flies, but the reality is all these beautiful mountains and ocean inlets make it a bit tricky to access and you'd need to take a boat/ferry/airplane to come visit me, you can't just drive along the highway the whole way.
Or a flying boat! We flew on this plane a few summers ago and it was so much fun :)
The trade off of course is the crazy amount of wilderness right outside our back door. Literally right outside my back gate I can hike, mountain bike, or go four wheeling for days. If I had a mind to, I could ride from the barn to my house crossing only one road - it would take all day, but it would be kind of fun! We've also got multiple beautiful lakes close by, and of course the ocean. Property prices are high, but only a fraction of those in Vancouver.

BUT some days the costs and logistics of travelling and living here suck more than others. Today, separate facebook posts informed me that 1) the main feed store is out of grain and the truck is cancelled until Monday due to ferry delays. 2) The hay truck is arriving this weekend and a ton of hay is going for the low, low price (sarcasm!) of $480/ton. More if you want it delivered to your barn. Even more if you want it unloaded and stacked. 3) There is a wonderful hunter/dressage coach willing to travel here from the city for weekend clinics. The cost will be $240 for two 45 minute (shared) lessons, provided she stays with someone and we can find cheap airfare.

Coming from Alberta so very recently, it's all a bit of sticker shock. $240 would have bought me 8 one hour lessons. $480 would have bought me at least 2 tons of the same hay this time of year (it's trucked here from there). And of course it takes a bit of getting used to that some services simply aren't available here on a regular basis. Like a large animal vet. Or apparently a feed store with inventory.

Budget constraints mean I'm going to miss out on the above mentioned clinics, there's just no way I can justify that expense once a month when I'm not gainfully employed (YET...I did get that job, but hello part time hours). Hopefully some more affordable activities come along, but be warned, you may be (even more) bored by my ramblings of trail rides and a weekly lesson for the remainder of the winter.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Ears Forward

The past few weeks have felt a little like I'm living in my own version of Bizarro World. Everything is going completely the reverse of what any sane person would normally expect! Even Ms Bridget is susceptible and been difficult to deal with. I know those NH guys like to say your horse is your mirror - apparently I'm living in a funhouse of late :)

We had another yucky storm passing through resulting in a really dark and wet day, but I really wanted to get out for a "fun" ride with Bridget and hopefully give us both a bit of a mental reboot after our horrible weekend rides.
Visibility not optimum, but pony had no problem with vehicle headlights and water splashing at us.

It was interesting to note that Bridget was sort of ambivalent about heading out in the yuck, but once I asked her to go past the turn off to the ring, she was super happy and excited! No fussing, just ears forward, marching along on a mission. Can I hope a mental reset for her is that easy?

Trail conditions were terrible near the end where it meets a gravel road and in typical Bizarro World style, my normally careful pony slipped and fell into a big hole and I think we both momentarily thought we might die. We ended up getting out of it fine, but I have nightmares about delicate pony legs getting caught up in tree roots and muck, so we'll be crossing this particular trail off our list until the ground dries up (probably next summer!) We also had the random bad luck of being very close to a tree falling, officially answering the "If a tree falls in a forest does anyone hear?" question. Yes, they do, and it sounds like a gunshot followed by a mini earthquake! In typical Bridget fashion she spooked only a tiny bit then wanted to trot forward and investigate. No pictures because we were both feeling the adrenaline and not stopping in there in case the wind blew another one down! The wind wasn't actually that bad, but the ground is so flooded in there right now it's probably tough on the trees.

We made it safely to the old gravel logging road just in time for the rain to really start coming down. Bridget was still so happy to be out, but I was done and looped back up to finish our ride with a 20 minute trot along the main road to the barn. I had originally planned to ride back along a quieter, longer route, but I was cold and Bridget was game for some roadside trotting and not phased at all by the busy traffic splashing us and getting us even more drenched.

Drenched pony got to dry out in (Lainey's hand me down) fleece sheet. I love this sheet because it's like a softshell coat for horses. Dirt and hay don't stick to the outside at all but the inside is all cozy and fleecy. I'm a little surprised Bridget wears a 76" blanket - I thought for sure it would be huge on her but if anything it's a little small through the shoulders. She was back to her normal self and quite content to hang out in the barn quietly and have a little snack while she dried. 

Even with our misadventures, I'm going to call today a success. Happy pony = happy owner!



Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Audience

I can get a little anxious when I`m riding and people are watching me. Shows and clinics can be a special sort of hell if I let myself focus on it. Even posting riding pics on this blog can make me a little uptight. For the past three months though, I`ve been exceptionally spoiled in that the ring I have use of is at the back of a nice lady`s property, away from any prying eyes. I think I`m literally the only one who uses it, and there is certainly never an audience! So imagine my surprise when I looked over mid ride recently and these two were hanging over the fence:
Obviously enthralled by my fantastic riding. Or possibly Bridget`s cute bum, who`s to say?

This is the kind of audience we like riding for!

As an interesting-to-me side note, the dark bay boy was one I looked after when I was working at a local barn last year and a few years prior to that. It was a pleasant surprise to see him and to meet his chestnut friend - I hadn't realized there were horses living in that field. It will be nice to have some company :)


Sunday, 23 November 2014

Testing, Testing, 1,2,3

My ride yesterday was not so good. My lesson today was not much better. Baby pony continues to use all her (considerable) willpower in an effort to be evil rather than good and today needed reminding that forward is a thing.

Rather than focus in all the things that are not going right and getting all worried about it, instead lets have a (tongue in cheek) recap of the good things that happened this weekend:

- It was sunny out

- Instructor set up a circle of death cavalleti exercise. We stayed on the circle. My homemade jumps looked nice in the sun. Also, pony apparently does not suffer from sensitive toes.

- We cantered and even trantered on the correct lead every time.

- We cantered an entire lap of the ring in each direction (No sarcasm here, this is a legit win even if there was some spanking involved so she didn't quit on me)

- I got a serious workout in at the same time as riding my pony. Yay for multitasking.

- We eliminated another bit from the list of potential ones that could work. Also we can navigate not too badly with zero contact. Cool.

- Whoever says horses can't buck and go forward is totally wrong. Tested that theory and I find it to be false. 

-Bridget doesn't really need to be looking in the direction she is travelling. We have a legit partnership because she is totally cool with trusting me to watch out for obstacles in her path.

- Intstructor is very patient, also excellent at setting poles, repeatedly.

- I got the ok to bring Ginger next time and split the lesson between both ponies.

Forest Ponies



Exhibit A: My Welsh Cobs demonstrate their love of brambles and shrubberies. To put this into perspective, to get to this little corner of the property they have to cross over and ignore the lush grass in the big 10 acre pasture, go through a narrow fenced area, then cross a decent sized creek and continue along a narrow path to where this opens into a smaller paddock that looks mostly like what you see in the picture. Dedicated property clearers right here :)  It seems they have finally convinced at least one of their pasture friends to indulge as well so at least the rest of the crowd isn't hanging out hungrily waiting for the cool kids to move back to the 'real' grazing,

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Rainy Day

I did get out to the barn yesterday in an effort to continue boot camp and get Ginger out and about as well. I'm sure all of you can identify when I say real life has been kicking my butt lately and my barn time has either been non existent or quite rushed. Yesterday was no exception, and when I got to the barn a huge storm rolled in and started hitting us with really heavy rain and winds. Typical :)

Here's hoping the month of December is a little kinder to us!


Ponies got soaked while I brought them in. I`tried to make the best of it and treat it like an impromptu bath. Ginger got doused in coat conditioners, so maybe today she`ll be all shiny :)
Looking all proud in her cooler

Because apparently I only have one and Midge had to use towels 


Barn kitties of course have the right idea.
I did what little ground work I could with Midget in the barn aisle and she was way more tuned in than yesterday and actually pretty quick to respond to my requests. Baby pony patience was of course severely tested when she realized the day wasn`t all about her and she was just expected to dry off inside while I gave Ginger a spa day. She stood quietly enough by the end and I called it a win. I guess the rainshowers turned out useful after all!

Friday, 21 November 2014

Why Can't We All Get Along?

I'm one of those people that goes through life pretty laid back about what others around me are doing. I get slightly annoyed by someone the odd time, but I always try to see the good and ignore the bad. If someone annoys me a lot or repeatedly does disrespectful things, I generally just back away and don't have much time for them moving forward. Totally non confrontational and really not the best way to handle people. It's an even worse way to handle horses, although thankfully Ginger is of the same mindset as me, so we just happily spend our time being nice and trying our best not to offend each other.
Wild and free is the place to be

And then we have little Ms Bridget. I've been noticing less than desirable behaviour lately, but I've been passing it off as her addicted treat face self and cut her off of any treats or hand feeding. Those treats I bought are apparently the equivalent of pony crack and we all know what happens when the addiction starts talking! Seriously though, it seems like time is always limited or we're on our way somewhere and it's just too darn easy to go out do fun things like trail rides than stay home by ourselves and address some respect issues on the ground. Because surely respect issues on the ground would never translate to issues under saddle, right? ;)

Don't let the cuteness fool you. She'll turn you into a treat dispensing minion in less than an hour.
I went up to the barn this morning with the intention of giving both girls a good grooming. I went out in the pasture and Ms Bridget thought it would be fun to herd everyone away from me. Then she thought it would be appropriate to pin her ears and shake her head at me while crowding my space looking for treats. Not cool. When I moved her away she did it grudgingly and with a really poor attitude. So mental note, pony needs a serious talking to, and I was ready to move her away, bring Ginger in for a grooming and come back another day for Bridget boot camp. Silly pony kept coming back and pressing her case, so FINALLY I snapped and brought her in for a reminder of basic pony manners.

I was still actually expecting some basic groundwork would be all it would take. Not so...pony was sassy and not having any of it. The same attitude from last weekend's lesson. Except this time I know pony is not annoyed by saddle fit, by the bit, by my riding, and I know she knows what's expected of her.... hmmm, finally stupid human is seeing the problem. It took an hour of playing bad cop before I could finally move those stubborn feet anywhere I wanted and without pinned ears, rearing, crowding me, or generally trying to intimidate me with a crappy attitude. And while she was definitely improved by the end, I'm still not happy with her. While I was cooling her out, she immediately decided since we were friends again she could continue to test the waters in seemingly little ways. Someone has continued boot camp in her immediate future.
Being bad is very hard work

To the outsider, I'm sure today's drama would have made it look like I own a rank, nasty little pony. Here's my friendly PSA - today was 100% my fault. B is NOT a nasty, rank pony - she's confident, assertive, and wickedly smart. That those positive qualities spawned a nasty attitude of late is all on me due to my laziness in enforcing her boundaries. I was warned when I bought her that she had a little bit of a history, and the clinician I rode with in September noticed her default is to test and push back and warned me about it when he was working with her.She's also been getting progressively fitter, the weather has been getting progressively colder, and I've unfortunately been doing progressively less riding. So, I have no excuse, and will move forward with some stricter boundaries and a better exercise schedule. What works for Ginger and I is not at all what Bridget needs, so I need to step even further outside my comfort zone and be much more dedicated, assertive and strong. Perhaps that will come in handy in real life as well.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

November's 10 Questions

Been a super slow week here in horse news...we need to be near a phone and G's cell died so he's taking mine to work with him. I'm stuck by the home phone like it's 1985 :)  Back to regularly scheduled programming tomorrow, I hope. Thanks to L Williams for another 10 Questions!

1. Have you ever owned a horse? 
Yes, two Welsh Cobs currently, and prior to that about 10 others. I was the girl with no $ that had the 'project' that I resold every year or two. No longer that kid, so the ponies are here to stay now :)

Ginger and Bridget, Nov 2014. Never noticed before that they are posing identically.
2. What is your favorite aspect of your discipline? 
I'm not even sure I have a discipline - I grew up doing the local open type shows where you're either english or western, or both if you have the tack and want to ride in the morning AND afternoon. I enjoy dressage, I LOVE jumping, I really liked what little time I spent around working cowhorse, and I want to be an eventer when I grow up! Generally speaking, I love the support and camaraderie you find at a good barn or a well run show.
Working cowhorse Ginger ;) Think she was about 4 here and this would have been one of my first rides on her.
3. What pet peeves do you have concerning your discipline? 
People who will do anything to win, at the expense of their horse.

4. Do you do barn chores?
After many years of doing chores to pay for my lease, then keeping my horses at home, then managing a barn to help pay the bills I got sort of done with it all. For the past year or so, full board = heaven. I still clean up after myself and maintain the little arena I have use of, but beyond that I'm enjoying a little break. Our long term plan is to buy a larger acreage and move the horses back home again, and part of me does look forward to chores again - I do feel like I miss out a lot on the day to day things now.

5. What is your least favorite barn chore? 
Cleaning up the hay shed. Allergies suck.

6. What do you consider the worst vice in a horse?
Rearing. Bolting. Hate them both. Long time readers will know Ginger has been known to panic and bolt, but fingers crossed she's getting more confident as she gets older and more apt to stay calm enough to remember her training and check in with her rider. Long story short, she stays around because I don't feel like this is her trying to be naughty :)
Only picture I could find of either of my horses doing anything remotely 'bad' ha ha. Baby Ginger tries bucking and apparently decides it doesn't suit her because I've never seen her do it again. Also, wow, does she ever look like her mama now.

7. What saddle brand is your favorite? 

There was a County saddle at the last barn that felt like it was made for me. Right now, my favorite would be anything that could fit the combination of Bridget and I.

8. Do you ride with a quarter sheet in the winter? 
We get A LOT of rain and not so much cold weather, so they're not super practical here. I'm currently on the hunt for a water proof one with a really light lining that doesn't resemble a giant piece of plastic :)

9. Does your horse wear boots? What kind? 
No proper boots at the moment for my girls. Unless we count Ginger's Old Mac boots for rocky trails, and the bell boots they wear for schooling. I'm finding it really difficult to fit giant boned ponies with short cannons, and as with the quarter sheet, we deal with a lot of water so boots would have to be breathable and waterproof. Too overwehelming for me with mail order tack, but I'm always on the lookout for something suitable when I shop in person.

10. Full seat or knee patch breeches?
Either. I have a pair of winter full seats that fit so well and I love more than anything, but in summer I definitely go for the knee patch!



Wednesday, 19 November 2014

(Nearly) WW: Short Days

Hard to believe this was the view from our window yesterday afternoon:


A 2:45 PM sunset? Really!?

Silly time change and northern location, don't you know I want to ride my horses in the afternoons?
Maybe the mountains to the west (that I normally like, they are so beautiful to look at) are also catching the winter sun and making it darker so much earlier than elsewhere. Whatever the case, I'm impatiently waiting for a return to longer days :)

Monday, 17 November 2014

She Can't Be Good Every Time

Lesson day was...interesting. I'm the first to admit that I've been exceptionally spoiled by the super easy project that Bridget is turning out to be. With that in mind, I'm not overly upset that a certain pony woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning...like WAY on the wrong side of the bed.

She was generally fussy, super grouchy, and having us believe she cannot move her shoulders one little bit. Actually, she objected to even going on a large circle or steering in the most basic manner. Also moving forward, or stopping, or moving her hindquarters. Or you know, basically anything that involved being a well mannered riding pony.
No photos from lesson day, but these from the day before illustrate things without being totally embarassing to either of us:). An attenpted haunches in outtake. Now add in some head tossing and tail swishing and you get the picture.

At one point I stopped and just flat out asked the instructor "Am I causing this? What am I doing wrong? Please be honest with me." Her response was that I'm fine, but Bridget just seemed like she wanted to be somewhere else and was giving me the equivalent of a pony middle finger. S questioned whether I've changed any tack since last time, with the answer to that being no, so we went over my gear and saw nothing out of the ordinary. The funny part of the whole situation is that, like Ginger, Bridget is really big on using her front feet for everything. Apparently when she's frustrated or upset this manifests itself in something sort of resembling a really messed up passage at the trot and a super stampy spanish walk. Add in some groaning and sighing and it's a sight to behold, I'm sure.
Looks like G caught a bit of a 'stampy' moment the day before too when she was fussing with the contact. Not helped by my riding either, ughhhh :(

So, not the lesson I was hoping for! She was really hot and spooky and quite disobedient and due to part of the ring being frozen, we were a little limited with the exercises we could use. I don't feel like we ever did find a good place to end on, but I guess there's always tomorrow.

I'm hoping Midget pony is just feeling fresh and sassy due to the cold weather, but I will be keeping an eye on the bit situation, and also her saddle. After having zero success with an eggbutt snaffle, I switched to a loose ring french link and she seemed happier, but it may be time to consider another change. The saddle I am using is Ginger's and is a decent fit, but not perfect. I really don't want to go down the saddle fitting rabbit hole again, so here's hoping her recent objections are not her requesting her own saddle!

You know what all this really means though? I'm going to have a FABULOUS ride on Ginger next time. Because that's how these two seem to roll - if one is less than stellar, the other makes up for it in spades :)

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Ride Recap (With Pictures Finally!)

Again, I`m feeling uninspired and will let the pictures tell the story!
Here we come!


Whee!

 Maybe we`ll just trot it now?


Being all fancy pants.


Proof she picked up those hind legs once or twice. Also proof of my duck feet.

More fancy pants. She was a wee bit excited today. It looks cute but she's hiding behind the contact again. Although we are by no means established with it,  I later figured out she was extra fussy as she had some objections to the saddle I was trying on her. Pony saddle fitting...ughhhh.


Please flex and give me a nicer contact pony. She says OK but I'll pop that shoulder WAYYY out cause this is hard. Only slightly motorbiking and I'm all hunched up like a gnome- good thing we have a lesson coming up.

We have a baby canter

Whee! Forward is good!

Good pony!

Hoarding

I ended up tackling one of my `to do list`items yesterday. which was to clean out the basement and advertise all the tack I don`t need! Let me just say, G and I live in a house which is far too large for us, which is an entirely dangerous thing when you have a hobby like mine! It's super easy to just hang on to everything horse related. So long as it's all stored neatly out of sight it's easy to forget about.
I wont traumatize you with pics of my messy basement, here's happy Bridget pony from yesterday instead.

Thank goodness Sprinkler Bandit`s post yesterday excluded my saddle pad collection from tack ho status. But the relief was only temporary, since all the discovered bridles, 'extra' saddles, halters, blankets, even sets of brushes definitely push me squarely into Hoarderville. I also have two pairs of tall boots I have no recollection of buying and that would never fit me. So weird :)
Ginny striking a pose

The quest began in an effort to find a bridle for Ginger. I discovered I own about 6 lovely horse size bridles and none of them properly fit either of the girls. Bridget is a cob size, and Ginger`s fat head now needs a warmblood or oversize bridle. For Ginger, I`ve been making do with an old ugly giant bling browband I found in my tack box, and a friend`s old (black) dressage bridle. It`s sort of ghetto. Bridget just fits Lainey`s old show bridle done up to the last holes. GM wouldn`t approve, but honestly, all that extra leather hanging off the keepers IS really annoying.  Blankets, ditto they're mostly 'normal' horse sized and I have two horses that are anything but normal ;)
Ginger's fat head as compared to an actual warmblood. These two are best friends, although it's slightly concerning Ms Warmblood is in heat and pretty sure Ginger is a stallion.

I think the tack collection evolved over the years partly due to the variety of horses I've owned. For example, Lainey had a nice new saddle, which 'needed' a matching girth, and of course then a matching bridle and some boots...and sadly TB size does not fit Welsh Cobs, so into the basement it went, just in case another TB type enters my life, because of course I'd never be able to sell nearly new stuff for anywhere near what I paid.  My little QH rescue and the one before him had a bunch of western tack, and while I will use the saddle now and then on Ginger, the bridles and multiple saddle pads are just sitting. I also own multiple pairs of breeches and a couple of show coats that are now way too big. NO WAY am I keeping those 'just in case' lol.
More treat face. I knew it was a stupid idea.

Where's Bridget? Oh yeah, still obsessed with the treat I gave her the day before and now my literal shadow.


Really long story short - I'm selling all the stuff I don't need and using some of the proceeds to buy nice stuff (that fits!) both me and the girls. They're both here to stay and there's no reason they need to use less than adequate hand me downs.
Ginger has dapples still :)
Happy weekend, everyone. The sun is shining again and I'm heading out for a ride!

Friday, 14 November 2014

Best Ponies

This is going to be a nearly wordless Friday post since Bridget Pony was excellent for our ride last night and there's really not too much more to say about it! Both girls constantly exceed my expectations and now and then I think I just need to sit back and appreciate the present, rather than constantly blogging about goals, what we need to work on, and where I want to be in the future.
Off we go, here are your daily fuzzy pony ears! Had a great warm up with some motivated canter work (and me with no spurs!). Correct lead still somewhat optional, but the cadence is getting there and she can hold almost a whole circle!
Patiently waiting at the gate for me to set up poles and a tiny jump
Pony owned it. After just trot poles, I raised it to a tiny x, then up again to this tiny 18" vertical. Midge says no big deal, and barely picks up her feet, then opts to actually jump the next one and says this is kinda fun! She is getting better at organizing those feet well enough to canter away when asked too.
Champion of the baby jumps

Treat face. She got a pile of them for being so great, which I was later regretting because she turned into insta cookie monster and needed to be reminded of her (already poor) manners regarding personal space. Looking now at this pic though, she's so cute I still want to stuff her face with treats and worry about the consequences later.


 Hope everyone is staying warm this week - we're literally freezing the last few nights, which is pretty rare around here and making for some playful ponies! Ginger's turn for an outing later today, then it's lessons on the weekend while the sun is still shining. It's a pretty great life :)


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Thanks 2 Pointober!

No horse time today, instead I'm hanging out in another city for the day due to yet more tests for that potential job at home. I'm still going to do contracts remotely from home for my actual career, but am thinking a second job for the in-between-contracts time will be good peace of mind and hopefully get us that much closer to my dream horse property.

The awesome horse related thing that just happened though? A fitness test that, in part, involved a bent over squat position with a weighted pack - ever so similar to the two point position, just forget the balancing on a moving animal part and add in some weight. They were looking for you to hold the position for 5 minutes to ace that part of the test, which of course was no problem thanks in part to 2 Pointober! 

The rest of it involved lifting a bunch a weights a million different ways and doing what amounted to step aerobics with a weighted pack. The people at the evaluation thing were a little taken aback since I'm not your typical fit looking girl and they saw on my file that I just had pneumonia. They need to learn that horse chicks are super tough! I have no doubt any of you out there that ride regularly and pack hay, etc would easily pass this particular evaluation with flying colors. Yay for horses for helping to keep us all fit! 

I personally still want to be in much better shape and fully intend to keep up with my goals of increased fitness and further weight loss, not so I can show off, but so I can be a better rider, of course :) It always comes back to the horses somehow!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

All The Things

I got Ginger out for another ride yesterday. I cheated just a little because G came too and brought Bridget along to eat all the yummy grass around the ring. That counts as cheating a bit because Ginger is much happier and a bit less spooky when she's not all alone out there - company almost guarantees a good ride. It's been a while since I really put the big mare through her paces, but when I do, I'm always left humbled.
Lunging pic because I suck and forgot to ask G to take the camera with him.

The first thing I always notice about Ginger is she feels way bigger than her actual height - she's incredibly powerful feeling and rides like a much bigger horse. Not that 15.3hh is super small, but even so, she rides way bigger than any of the 16-17hh horses I've ridden. The second is how quick and reactive she is. I think I mentioned Bridget was a little full of beans the other day and putting on a bit of a show and it was really no big deal to sit quietly and stay centered in the saddle. With Ginger, I can be left feeling like I'm always catching up and just a split second behind her even just doing basic things. The third thing (that always gets me a little choked up to be honest - it's an incredible feeling) is just how easy it is when we're in sync. Ginger just floats along. Leg yield? Haunches in? Shoulders? Spirals? Extend? Sure, just think it and she's almost there before me. And oh my. That canter that I desperately want to create in Bridget? That forwardness and really coming through from behind? It's there waiting for me with Ginger, and she finds it so very, very, easy. It's not that there's anything wrong with Bridget - she's a nice enough mover in her own right, it's more Ginger is freaky athletic.

As I said to G, Ginger is all the things I've ever dreamed about riding. The trouble is, sometimes I feel like someone handed me a Ferrari when I'm used to driving an SUV :) It's exciting, addictive and fun, but I feel borderline out of control at times. Anyone who's been reading this blog for a while knows there's been a couple of periods where my confidence in myself as a rider was totally shot, in no small part due to just how independent Ginger expects you to be - she's a very sweet girl, but she's not going to wait around or bail you out if you can't stay with her. It's not that I'm a terrible rider even, the problem is I'm just an average one who makes mistakes. That's where the wonderful little Bridget comes in - she's wise way beyond her years and will bail you out of just about anything and be cheerful about it too. She's a super confidence keeper and so much fun in her own right. I'm incredibly lucky that she found her way to me.
Extra points deducted for picture taking skillz- the only other one I took with my phone and it appears Ginger's getting ready to pee lol

My big riding goal, as always, is to be able to REALLY ride this big mare of mine. Not to be along for the ride, not to kind sorta make her look good, but to be able to really ride and show her off. I want to build on these minutes of being totally with each other and turn them into something more permanent and entirely special.

With that in mind, I hopped on for my no stirrups November on the lovely Ms Bridget. Since I didn't bring any tack for her it was just bareback with a halter. She was a little unsure of the bareback thing at first, but adapted super quickly and we had a blast. She's got the bounciest trot I think I've ever sat, and I think that's saying something (looking at you, Checkers!). She's got really high knee and hock action so it's a bit interesting and she's one of the few horses I'd rather post bareback than sit. However, she's a wannabe kids pony and sets herself up to stay under you. I think it would be hard to really get off balance on her. Apparently I'm cheating again - this time with no stirrups November cause Bridget makes it a lot easier than it should be.

Pictures next time to prove it happened, promise :)

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Lesson That Wasn't

I was borderline wondering whether I'd be up for a lesson or not this morning, so headed out at the normal time just in case but didn't bother calling or confirming ahead of time. I figured if she showed up I'd suck it up and ride, if not I'd just do a bit of ring work.

We ended up doing a little bit of ring work in the rain, then playing hooky and heading out on my favorite trail and back along the road home when the sun made a surprise appearance.

It was a nice ride, but a little weird. Maybe Ginger told Bridget about how 'mean' I was yesterday? More likely it was the combination of really high winds and the weather change, plus a lot of people out and about catching the bit of sunshine. Whatever the case, my normally sane pony was all revved up! I love forward Bridget, but I'm happy that super spooky Bridget has only made a couple of appearances so far. One really silly pony is enough for me, thanks :) Since I feel like she's more of an appropriate size for me, fingers crossed I so far have had no problem sitting any of her antics and don't feel intimidated at all. It's more annoying than anything, although a part of me has to love how good she's obviously feeling! The plus side to that is we had some really good work in the ring, including the best canters yet. I saw her cruising around the field a couple of days ago with a lovely uphill canter, so now that I know it's in there and am feeling hopeful that one day I am going to be able to recreate it under saddle.
Sunshine! One day I'll beg G to come out and take actual pics so you can have a break from looking at pony ears only.

Finally, let it be noted that Ginger forgave me this morning. When I showed up to the barn I was wearing THE coat and she was all big eyes and snorty at my daring. To the point where she was hiding from me outside in her paddock. After I went into the tack room and got some treats for Bridget, Ginger magically overcame her 'fear' and was leaning over her stall door demanding I come say hi. Silly pony had to make a point of gently sniffing me all over and trying to 'groom' the back of my neck like she does with her horsey friends in the pasture...guess that means she wants to be besties again?

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Ginger and The Raincoat of Terror

I took the lovely Ms Gingersnap for an outing this afternoon. Unlike her friend Bridget, Ginger does not do well with time off.
Drama pony is cute tho
First, there was drama because I brought her into the barn all alone. I know, I'm so mean right?

Then, the saddle pad was SUPER freaky. And I proceeded to rub it all over her, which was absolutely horrifying and left her feeling hugely violated.

Next, I dared to wear a raincoat. So sorry, Ginger, that I didn't have you there to give your approval when I purchased the offensive raincoat. The silver lining IS quite eye catching, I admit, and it does make that crinkly sound you so hate, but remember, you're a West Coast pony and raincoats aren't exactly a rarity around here.
Offended pony

Long story short, rather than my planned 5 min of lunging, I spent the better part of an hour waving that silly coat around until I could actually touch her with it. She wears a rainsheet of her own all winter, but I guess the tiny human version is evil? I eventually got on, wearing the raincoat, and had an alright ride, until I coughed, which is apparently still terrifying. So I spent a bunch of time pretending to cough and sniffle and generally offending her.
Wearing the hated coat

 It was one of those days where nothing was really going to go right - as far as she was concerned my sole purpose in life today was to potentially beat her to death with either a saddle pad or a raincoat and cough nasty horse killing germs all over her. I knew she'd been far too quiet lately! :)
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