Friday, 30 January 2015

Welsh Dragon

I came across this lovely pic of Ms Bridget in my 'outtakes' folder. It makes me laugh:

,


She looks kind of angry. Actually, she looks like a furry, angry dragon.




found HERE






That is all :)

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Bridget's Turn

The sun came out today, so that obviously means it was time to ride! Bridget came along this time for a quick ride before dark. She continues to improve back to where we were before xmas and we're very near to a happy place again. G took a million pictures of all the good and bad, so get ready for a photo dump. It's tempting to only post the flattering ones, but I thought I'd try to post the ones that seem representative of how the actual rides are feeling these days (apologies, they're not the best quality, but there are some humorous ones to make up for it):

So cute! She's getting a bit stronger and offering some 'fancy' pony moves if you ask. I try not to get greedy though.

And, it's never all good. We appear to be on a collision course with G? I think she thought she might dart over and say hi! Love the looks on our faces lol

Is this is an actual photo of a tranter, or just a really awkward canter shot? Whichever it is, I have to say she's seriously getting much better in the canter, offering clean departs 99% of the time. It still falls apart about halfway around though, so I do try to time transitions back to trot before she gets super muddled.

Could be a real canter? She tries, but you can see how she gets tense and uncoordinated and with that outside bend she favors to the right the lead can get iffy. Right now, we're still all about just getting the transition - I try to set her up ahead of time, but once she's cantering she gets super muddled if I attempt much input beyond go or stop. That sometimes means no steering ha ha. It's been getting way better though!

Back to a happy trot

Adorable pony! There's a little x at the end of this grid, but sadly no pics of her cute little jumps turned out. She's still figuring it out, but as you can see she's starting to take me through to the jump herself and is super honest.

The majority were pics of us cruising around like this. I'm pretty happy with this for a baby pony...we're agreeing on a tiny bit of contact, we appear to be moving forward nicely and everyone looks pretty happy.

I think these pics are fairly representative of where we're at - lots of super cute moments at the walk and trot, and lots of baby pony moments too, particularly in canter.  We have a forward button again, we have outside aids most of the time again. There's some discussion happening about having a consistent feel on her mouth. I'm happy with that!

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

For KateRose

Ginger came out on Monday for some fun in the ring. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it recently, but Ginger is a now a legit Cavalia horse wannabe. As far as ground work goes, I rarely use a lunge line or a lead because she does everything I ask perfectly at liberty. Midge, who can't seem to figure out transitions or being on a circle WITH a lunge line and whip helping, needs to watch and learn. Ginger really enjoys herself too! I think it's a bit of a fun game for her, and for once it's only a good thing when she anticipates what I'm thinking via my body language. I need to video it at some point - she makes me look like a way better trainer/handler than I'll ever be. I did at least take some pictures of Ginger rocking her gorgeous halter that came courtesy of KateRose's contest at Peace & Carrots.

What are we going to do first?
Trot!
Canter! Whee!

More trot


Starting to relax
One more canter
 We reversed and did go the other direction, but I had put my phone away, so I'll leave  you with one more picture of the adorable face she makes when she's waiting to see what's next:

Are we done now? :)


We finished up with me showing G my amazing psychic mind powers in which I move a large horse with only the power of my mind lol. She did some really nice turns on the haunches and forehand, and we finished by playing her favorite game in which I run around and she shadows me as if I'm leading her. It's a little random since I try to be super unpredictable about turning and stopping suddenly or going over poles and things and she thinks that's a ton of fun :) Such a funny girl, she makes me laugh every day. We've had a couple of good rides this week, but we're both still a bit tense with each other when I'm in the saddle. A little 'play' day now and then is a fun way for us both to decompress a little.



Monday, 26 January 2015

Gettin Good

After reading everyone's reviews, I finally caved and bought Denny Emerson's "How Good Riders Get Good". I sat down to read it this morning, nodding in agreement with many of his opinions. Yes, good riders only get good by being dedicated, motivated, making sacrifices, it's not all about talent etc etc. About halfway through, I looked up and started to feel really, really guilty that I was sitting on the couch reading late into the morning on a perfectly good riding day, drinking a cappucino and eating cookies for lunch.

In a last ditch effort to get good, I hopped in the truck and drove out to the barn with the intention of taking both the girls to the ring for a good workout with some poles and small crossrails.

Then, a friend pulled into the driveway with plans of meeting another friend for a nice trail ride. I thought about that for about two seconds, quickly groomed and booted Ginger back out to the pasture, tacked up Bridget and went for a 3 hour trail ride, in which we trotted maybe twice and jumped one ditch. Getting good will have to wait for tomorrow. Sorry Denny, I tried. OK, OK, actually I didn't try at all, and this is why I'm not good. We did jump a ditch though :)
Bridget was forward and happy, so all kidding aside, this was a pretty productive ride because I was able to use that energy and play with transitions and lateral work for a few steps here and there.

After, I braided Bridget's mane in an attempt to train it to one side. Bad riders attempting to at least LOOK good ;)


Sunday, 25 January 2015

Need a New Saddle?

Thanks to Alanna M at Pony Express, this is now a blog hop!

Not sure if anyone in blogland is looking, but I'm selling my 17" Crosby Equilibium DSL that doesn't quite work for my round ponies. I love this saddle and it's super comfy. It's in nice used condition and reasonably priced at $475 USD including shipping in North America.


Link to ebay listing HERE. I can take more photos if anyone is interested in anything specific about it. Spread the word if you know anyone looking, this is a decent saddle and I promise I'm an honest seller :)


Saturday, 24 January 2015

Health and Fitness Goals

Tracy at Fly on Over had the great idea of having a monthly blog hop focusing on our health and fitness goals. I'm in!

I haven't posted any 2015 horsey goals at all because I'm having trouble quantifying things or setting a specific end goal like a particular show or jump height. As you can guess, I want to ride regularly, keep my horses sound and healthy, and catch a few shows and clinics this year. I also want to buy a trailer so I can take advantage of more training and showing opportunities. The details beyond me getting out and working consistently and saving my $ are vague beyond that. Pony training just takes as long as it takes I guess, and there is no point in stressing over meeting bigger picture goals for the time being.

But weight and fitness goals? I can totally do that!

It's undeniably true
Goal 1. Fitness.

 As I've mentioned, my part time job is incredibly active. I walk for about 6 hours a day/30km on quite steep streets, carrying on average about 20 pounds of mail. I should be getting fit, right? To an extent I am. The problem is that it's part time - and when  I'm not working there I'm doing projects for my normal career on my computer from home. So, I'm making it my goal to exercise every week day. On the days I don't get called in to the post office, I'm going to go for a (3-5k) run or (5-10k) hike in the early morning before I get sucked into the computer. I also have a winter time goal of riding every second day, which helps a little with overall fitness, I guess. End goal? I'd like to be able to run a 10k and am going to sign up with our local club's beginner training course later in the spring, aiming for fall completion.
My arms  and the  lighting hide my belly so I like this pic lol. Goal 1B: Look good in all my blog photos!


Goal 2. Lose 15-20 more pounds (by eating right).

This is fairly simple. It's shameful to admit I lost about 25 pounds starting a couple of years ago but a few months ago kind of thought it was 'good enough' and I deserved a break, so I stalled out and still have more to go.  I know the drill as far as calories in/out and choosing what I  eat wisely. Lately though, I've been exercising so much I've been 'starving' and haven't been watching what I eat. At all. It's terrible, particularly because there are no immediate consequences like gaining weight. BUT it's not helping me to be healthy either and it's a horrible habit to get into - I've been feeding my body so much 'bad' food! The weight needs to go eventually, not just for looks, but more because it's hard on my body, not to mention my horse's bodies, to carry that excess day after day. I'm racking up huge miles on the exercise front and it's hard on those joints carrying an extra 15-20 pounds all the time.  Also, how am I supposed to be a better rider when I'm always fighting my own body?
Objects in saddle may be larger in real life. Pony belly somewhat accurate lol

By end of February check in, I want to have:

-Consistently followed exercise 'plan' outlined above. Be close to being able to run 5k again without a walk break.

-Be 2-3 lbs down. (I'm not setting 'drastic' weight loss goals over a short time frame because I am not an overly tall or large person to start with so I would need to restrict calories/exercise unreasonably to lose much more than 1/2 to 1 lb per week. Also, my priorities lie with being stronger/fitter/healthier. The weight is more of a check point. Be prepared to be bored with miniscule weight loss every month)




Thursday, 22 January 2015

Thanks, Midge!

We're back on track, or at least I hope we are, it's been a couple of weeks without any epic pony meltdowns.

Rock star portrait. Also about as regal and dramatic as Bridget gets. You can't win them all.
Fingers crossed, we're back to having a go button. We're also back to being able to communicate with each other, which is a useful development.

We have had a couple of scheduling conflicts the last couple of weeks and haven't been able to get to any lessons. It's been a blessing in disguise, since it forced me to think for myself and address some of the issues we've been having lately.

This mane is an issue. It is double sided and will not grow any longer than this and has a ton of short broken  hairs! Braids here I come.
We've been having some really positive and encouraging rides the past two weeks. I've taken a step back to reinforce some of the basics and she's been so much better and happier. I think we maybe got a little lost and absorbed in some training approaches that are not really working for either of us. Luckily, our coach is pretty laid back and I think will be open to a chat about what's not working for us.

This week, I've been working on getting tense giraffe pony to stretch down and relax. I talk about how sensible Midge is, but she's not dull, and pretty big on internalizing the world's stresses. I'm sure you've all ridden a horse that rarely reacts strongly or puts a foot wrong, but still 'feels' tightly wound? That's her. There are a few humans out there like that too, I'm sure :)

The results of Project Stretchy Pony? It must feel good to stretch all those tight muscles because she's addicted to it! I'm really happy to be able to add that tool to the toolbox - she moves out so well after and it's proving to be very useful when she starts to feel 'stuck'.

I love her "WTF just happened to me?" look from after today's ride/




Monday, 19 January 2015

Fun Trail Outing

A friend and I trailered out this afternoon for a ride in my favorite local area.

I seriously debated bringing Ginger, since it was just going to be a couple of good friends and their horses who are all used to Ginger and her quirks. At the last minute we realized bringing Ginger would mean rearranging everyone in the trailer since she's so large. It ended up being easier to just leave everyone be and instead catch and load Midge in the back. It was a blessing in disguise because when we got to the trail head there were some hydro crews with big equipment working on the overhead lines - not sure Ginger would have been cool about getting tacked up under all that!

We headed out for a three hour tour of the area. It's changed a bit since the last time I rode there  - a ton of active logging and even a new gravel pit. It's always a little sad to see some of our favorite outdoor areas clearcut and temporarily turned industrial, but I've lived here long enough to know that it's a cycle. In a few years from now, everything will be replanted and green and beautiful again. If we're really lucky the gravel roads will even be resurfaced into a horse friendly trails.

 For those not from the area, the vast majority of the land base (Google tells me 94%) around here is public lands managed by the provincial and federal government. In much of the province, those lands are essentially leased out to forestry and other interests. Because they are theoretically public though, access for recreational use isn't overly regulated and we have an unlimited amount of trails to explore if we don't mind sharing with industry now and then! The company currently holding the lease in the area we ride in is super interested in keeping us happy and is wonderful about leaving our trails alone and building and maintaining access routes.around their active areas. Long story short, we don't begrudge them too much for cutting down some of the scenery once in a while :)
No more big trees, but lots of afternoon sunshine!

Love this trail - it's an old logging railroad and the footing is nice and soft!


All in all, a great outing with friends.Bridget was super well behaved, and tackled creeks, bridges, ATV's, and even a fully loaded logging truck with zero fuss. There are days when she's worth her weight in gold :)

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Barn Day

After a busy week, it was nice to have a day to hang out with the horses! First order of business was getting Ginger's feet trimmed up:
This is the traumatized look she adopts every farrier appointment. The farrier loved Ginger's  new princess halter too!
She was good, and for the first time in three years we were able to use a hoof stand! The backstory to that is once a very long time ago, she yanked a hoof back and the stand fell underneath her and she tripped all over it and scared herself. Because this is Ginger, ever since just the sight of one near a farrier makes her break out in a sweat and get all panicky. Of course it's fine if I put her feet on and in things, she's a Welsh Cob and the default behaviour is to try to get her front feet on anything interesting. It's when the farrier does it it's a big deal! She's pretty smart and has a memory like an elephant. So, today, at last, my horse acted like an adult for the farrier. We win. Our goals are slightly different than normal people lol.  

Next up, I took both the girls up to the ring for an outing. I've been really slack about taking them both out together for quite a while now, so I was pretty happy that they walked up the road politely on either side of me like it was a totally normal thing to do. Ginger has such excellent manners it's no big deal to take her anywhere - it's actually Bridget who I thought might be the troublemaker and take advantage of the fact my attention was somewhat divided.  
The focus on this one is funny - it looks like I photoshopped her on a background. She was really there, I swear :)

Ginger got a quick lunge and a short ride and was good, although still feeling very rusty. We just did some 20m circles and spirals walk and trot plus a few transitions, a short canter and some leg yields. None of it was perfect, beyond the surprisingly lovely canter, but with Ginger you just have to recognize her efforts and encourage her and she'll come back out the next day better. If you start picking at her she loses confidence very quickly and gets panicky. I think if I can stay consistent we'll be back where we left off in short order. As always, she tried very hard to be a good girl and I can't ask for more than that. When we were done, I tied her in the corner of the arena and she waited very quietly and patiently for me to work with Bridget, which is a huge improvement over the acrobatics of the Ginger of old. I'm feeling a lot more confident about bringing her along for lessons since our test run today went so well. I was intimidated at the thought of getting two horses ready and bringing them both up the road together for lessons without a helper, but I don't think I need to be.
Proud of herself. Never mind the crazy mane, I'm just glad it's finally growing back!

Bridget just ended up getting lunged. I had another great ride on her a couple of days ago and really felt like I made big steps fixing our recent issues with forward, Today when I asked her to trot out she did so with zero nagging, no lunge whip even necessary. I asked for a canter and she obliged. To the right (her tricky side), when I asked for the canter she thought about using the wrong lead for half a stride, then before I could correct her she did a nice flying change and gave me another really nice canter. Huge praise for that as she's really been struggling with that side and tends to just try to quit on you rather than try. Rather than tempt fate, I just called it a day and told her what a good pony she is.
Pony had some go!

All in all, a good barn day. Little Midge needs to learn to share my attention with her big sister Ginger. She's such a busybody she can't handle being left out, but she did very well for a baby pony being left somewhat unsupervised.
Ginger being all cute and patient, although she wasn't overly impressed with borrowing Bridget's tiny halter.

Friday, 16 January 2015

TOABH: Wish We Could

This week, Beka had another excellent blog hop topic for us:


Let's pretend that financial restrictions don't exist and logistics isn't a nightmare.  If you could do anything with your Ponykins, what would you do?

I have to say, it's been super fun reading everyone's replies to this question. So many cool and interesting bloggers out there! Along with many of you, fox hunting is on my bucket list, as is packing up and attending a big away show in warmer climes for several weeks, or even being a working student for someone for a winter. Polo would be super cool, I loved the bit of reined cowhorse I tried. Eventing the big stuff would be a dream come true.  But, as for things I want to do with these specific ponies...hmmm:

Ginger:

I would really like to breed her. The only thing I think I could love more than Ginger is a baby Ginger!  In a perfect world I'd breed her to another Sec D with a great mind and a good performance record. She's too closely related to Cardi, or for that matter many of the better known Welshies in North America for my taste, so that's where finances and logistics would be extra special interesting. Obviously since this is dream land we'd have the perfect farm to raise baby on and some excellent help training when the time came to ride. I really enjoy working with foals and youngsters and if I had the finances and time I think we'd have one or two around always. On a riding level, I'd like to be able to get a lot of consistent one on one help with her from a pro, and obviously the facilities there to be able to ride daily and improve.
Baby Ginger again, because we love her.

Bridget:

The end goal is eventing, although that may be a dream beyond any logistics and finances. Baby pony needs to want it too and the jury's a bit out on that for the moment. So, I'm going to say a winter camping vacation somewhere warm. I have a friend who trailers to Arizona every winter for a couple of months and uses it as a base to ride through most of the Southwest with a big group of people. I could get on board with that and Bridget is the perfect camping and trail riding pony! Also, every time we go to Cabo I think if I was rich I'd bring the ponies along too for some beach riding. 

Me:

If I won the lottery tomorrow, I'd buy a big chuck of property and set up a decent facility and riding school with a legit instructor. Our area has nothing for aspiring equestrians and not much in the way of barns or instruction, let alone a show barn or a show season to attend. I'd love to make it a little easier for everyone to participate and learn, particularly the little kids with an interest and no where to ride.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Oh Hi!

I've been quite busy with work this week, so today was my first visit out to the barn since Monday. The weather was too awful and I was too tired to do much beyond saying hi and cleaning both the girls up a bit. To be honest I thought I might ride, but they're so exceptionally filthy and damp today I just didn't have the motivation. You know what makes me really happy, though? The fact that both my horses are super easy to catch right now. Here's Ginger demonstrating:

Step 1: Make yourself visible. Stay in the barn out of the rain if possible

Step 2: Say hi to Ginger so she knows you're definitely interested in a visit

Step 3: Wait
Step 4: Wait some more

Step 5: More waiting

Step 6: Success! Give pony a scratch or treat. Halter optional, she'll follow you into the barn from here.
Hard to believe she was so difficult to catch once upon a time. Wish I had some magical training super powers to share, but really I think it's just been a matter of getting to know each other.She's a very sociable girl at heart. It's interesting that I was told Bridget can also be difficult to catch, but so far she's been the opposite  and thinks humans are much better company than horses. I think that's because she took her lead from Ginger and now it can be a bit of a race between the two of them to see who says hi first. (And yes, sometimes that backfires and I'm being charged by a stampede involving the entire herd - thank goodness they're all respectful of my space and each other) 

I'm hoping to get the ponies out for some riding over the weekend, We've got some farrier appointments too. Ginger has super radar for those and will be impossible to catch on the day, so no fear, I'll be traversing the entire pasture and making up for all the easy days soon enough!

Monday, 12 January 2015

Finding a Happy Place

My happy place is at the barn! Hi, Ginger, not your turn today :)



The sun popped out for a few hours, so I hopped on Midge yesterday afternoon for a return to the scene of the crime.

She seemed happy to get out and do something, and I could tell as soon as I hopped on she was in a more forward frame of mind. There was no attempting to meander along up the road, instead pony was on a mission to go somewhere!
Sunny day!

We were without a lesson this week, so I was left to my own devices again. Taking it a step further, since what I've been taught isn't working for either of us at the moment, I switched it up and went with what felt right. What felt right to me apparently felt right to Midge too, since we had definite progress and found a happy place. I'm going to keep this post short and sweet since I'm still thinking things through and want to put some more good rides under our belts before I come to any conclusions, but I'm hopeful I'm on to something that's going to work for her.
Bringing back the road sign that seems appropriate for the day.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Weekend Happenings

After my somewhat rotten ride on Friday afternoon, I opted to steer clear of the barn on Saturday and give everyone a time out to think on things. I worked Midge a bit harder than normal as well Friday so I also thought a day off might be the nice thing to do in regards to that.

This morning, the plan was to take both girls up to the ring and have a quick spin on both. It's continued NFL mania around here, so obviously we had to go quite early in the morning in order to be home for the Sunday games!

Ginger was predictably wide eyed and anxious about this development. I'm never at the barn that early unless the farrier or vet is coming, after all :) She's so expressive it's funny to watch the thought process play out across her cute face.
No pictures today. It was really dark and foggy and damp and not a good day for cameras. Instead you get miscellaneous pics from the past week. Ginger models her pretty new halter


My actual ride on Ginger was short and sweet, she behaved perfectly and is just such a pleasure to deal with. She still feels a bit rusty and 'tight' overall but it's to be expected with so much time off in 2014 and her light schedule over the past three months. She tries so hard and is so forward, it's always quite the change from Bridget. Depressingly, once again she felt off behind at the trot and a quick lunge on a circle showed she's a bit short again on the right hind. I actually didn't say anything about what I was thinking and G called out that she looked lame behind, so boo to that :( I'm at a loss about this - longtime readers will know this has been an off and on issue for over a year now, with multiple vet checks, a diet change for a mineral imbalance/muscle soreness, some time off, etc. Sadly it seems we are still chasing whatever the issue is, but I'm going to try (likely unsuccessfully) to get too worked up about it because my vet is excellent and has yet to be overly concerned by anything he's seen of it. Still, it may be time for a second opinion to put my mind at ease.
Missing the sunshine already

I was a bit down and out about the above. Also, if I'm honest,  Ginger was such a good girl and finds everything so easy,  I worry about getting on Midge and having a bad ride and making the inevitable comparisons to Ginger which simply aren't fair to little Bridget. I'm not supposed to have an obvious favorite, right?  Instead, I just hopped on Bridget bareback and tied a loop in her lead rope and let her do what she does best, act as my personal taxi ride back to the barn :) I do have to give her credit though - I squeezed her lightly to get going and BOOM - she was so responsive! Someone remembers Friday's lesson! I played with leg yields as well on our way home and she was really very good. I'm feeling hopeful our next proper ride will be a good one.
It's not cold, that steam coming out of Bridget's nose is angry dragon breath ;)

Ginger was quite happy to follow along at G's side and didn't even find a car to spook at, which in itself means it was a very good day for the big mare!
Brave big mare

In other excellent news, this little guy is coming home with us as soon as he's ready to leave his mama in mid February:


I'm beyond excited as we haven't had a house kitty for many years!

Friday, 9 January 2015

Wee Little Monster

Little Midge was in top disagreeable pony form this afternoon. You know the training approach" Ask, ask, tell" (ie ask as lightly as you'd ideally like to ask, ask more assertively, then, tell - make it happen)? Well, there was a whole lot of telling going on this afternoon in an effort to get pony going forward without any extra nagging or drama in her part. This seems to be something we need to rediscuss of late, as she's going through quite the testing phase. It doesn't make for overly fun or inspiring rides, so let's just look at some pictures from today :)

The above pretty much summed up her mood. (The unflattering photo is my revenge and makes me laugh ;)
But, she also stood calmly next to this bench so I could hop on, so there are benefits to owning a honey badger pony.
She's also interested in hanging out and helping me set up poles, showing that even on a bad day she's a pretty social little thing.
Ginger is growing a nice mane again! Also, dapples!! Her turn tomorrow, I'm looking forward to it :)
And finally, even "bad" ponies get a post ride treat.

As far as the not so fun rides go, I do feel I stay very calm and patient in the moment and always end on a good note, but after I get home I feel pretty down about it and wonder what I'm missing. There has to be a key somewhere to get little Bridget more proactive and cooperative!