Sunday, 31 May 2015

Don't Wanna!

After being spoiled for a while, the Midge brought her very best "B" game to this morning's lesson. If inverted giraffe ponies were a good thing, we'd make the Olympics no problem :)
At least she's cute?

For whatever reason, she decided at the start of the lesson that life outside the ring was far more fascinating than anything else. She was so busy attempting to keep an eye on our surroundings, we were back to stumbling over every pole and generally wobbling our way around the arena. So, obviously focusing the pony was the name of the game and we did many, many transitions, tons of spirals, and the "circle of death" I which we mostly failed to trot and canter a 20m circle with 4 evenly spaced poles. Since we weren't doing much but rearranging the poles, we moved up to a canter around the entire ring in hopes of burning off some demon pony steam. The right was awful and featured a couple of big scoots and attempted bucks, the left was better balanced but left my gloveless fingers with blisters such was the freight train effect.
Shiny Ginger to break the text

 Since nothing was working for overly long, we switched it up and went back to our circle of death at a walk and did a tiny circle after every pole, really forcing her to move her shoulders around in a pirouette and then walk out straight over the next pole in a cloverleaf. She was furious, and let her opinion be known with some pinned ears and swishy tail, but did it after attempting to just ignore me, then attempting to be all dramatic and overreact. Ponies! The only plus to this lesson was that pony tossed out some pretty nasty behaviour and I feel like I handled it well and got the job done fairly and quietly. As long time readers know, I can be somewhat lacking in the confidence department, so it's always nice to feel like I was able to buckle down and get the best I could from a not so good day.  

We followed our lesson up with about an hour of walking trail ride with the barn owner. Bridget was a star, of course, and a good time was had by all. My only concern is I inadvertently rewarded her for a not so great ride in the arena, but hey, we've got to have fun sometimes :)

I'm barn touring again tomorrow night - this one is $$$$$ but comes with the coach who's started her fair share of riders on to the upper levels yet remains completely welcoming to beginners aka the coach I've been hoping to get in with :)

One more of the big mare

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Minor Happenings

Some minor wins this week, guys.

- First week at the new job in the books. So far, I really, really like it there...great office, great people, and best of all, we are part of the IT department rather than the planning or engineering I normally get assigned to, so we get a decent budget for all the best gear and coworkers who actually understand why we want/need that gear.

-The area is amazing. I guess I've been guilty of always driving through in a rush on my way to somewhere else...little did I know there's all kinds of gorgeous parks and beaches off the highway. There are also a ton of multimillion dollar homes, but they're nicely balanced with just as many cute arty/hobby farm kinds of places. A little vacation cottage from the 50's with no running water or power might sit right next door to an estate right out of Architectural Digest, which might sit next to someone's art studio and organic garden. Rather than being at odds with one another it actually somehow works and I'm a little in love with the feel of it and feel like I can't settle in and get G and the ponies there fast enough!
Not my photo, from here. Shows why horse boarding is slightly difficult to find in some areas...not a ton of flat pasture land  here, luckily it widens and flattens out towards the south/Vancouver and there are some small farms there.

-I went and looked at some boarding, and I'm pleased to say it will do for now. There is a sand ring on site, paddocks with run ins and a fair amount of pasture. Trails just down the road too. It's not fancy, but it is safe and quiet and the horses there all look fabulous. It's also so cheap I'm not sure how they make any money. Downside is it's a bit of a drive for me and I'm not sure if coaches come there regularly, sounds like it's more of a 'whenever everyone can get together and arrange it' kind of thing.

-But, I did get a call back from the trainer I was hoping to ride with. We're playing telephone tag but her email said she has some options for me as well. Fingers crossed hard, but I still feel better knowing I have the first place as a back up plan too.

-My first trip home this weekend was no big deal at all...about an hour drive from work, then a 50 min ferry ride, then a 20min drive home...obviously not do-able daily, but no big thing to do on a weekend. It's so nice I can pop home after work on a Friday and be home in time for a late dinner with G (or a ride on the ponies)!
Front row on the ferry.

-Annnd...lesson day tomorrow, followed by a quick hack with the barn owner and her horse. I can barely wait!
Because it wouldn't be a proper post without a picture of Bridget

Monday, 25 May 2015

Camping Out

Just a quick post to apologize in advance for radio silence this week. Our laptop finally died and didn't make the move with me and cell service at my new weekday residence isn't the best. I hope to have better access to the outside world and a new computer next week. Oh, and maybe some furniture and stuff. The title of this post isn't really too much of an exaggeration ;)

In the meantime, I'm STILL attempting to get a reply from someone (anyone?) regarding lessons and boarding in this part of the world. So far the horsey community is suspiciously silent and my emails and calls aren't being returned. Let's hope they are just super busy rather than not welcoming.  I've resorted to offering barn owner references for myself and pony, along with promises we are normal and easy to get along with, but maybe that comes across as weird and so my message gets deleted. I don't know.

We had a really nice ride on Sunday before I hopped on the ferry. A friend who  had a bad fall this winter is just getting back in the saddle and of course Bridget is the ideal pony to escort nervous horses and riders out and about. I didn't really school anything, we just had a nice walking hack on the buckle with some little trots to get the other pony used to being a trail pony again.  Bridget deserved a relaxed outing after working so hard in our lesson, so I'm glad I found the time to get out once more.  I'm so grateful Bridget is happy both to lead and follow, it's such a nice thing to have when so many of my friends horses get worked up about one or the other! Also, she's more tuned to her riders energy than what the horses around her are doing. If only she was slightly bigger, she'd be worth her weight in gold as a pony horse! As it is, biased me thinks she's pretty special and slightly more than 24hrs after seeing the girls I'm already counting the days until I get home and tack up for our weekend lesson!

Our mid month June cowboy clinic is going to be a no go, I think. Much as I love him I can't justify the dollars and time to get there when I find S's lessons just as helpful. My decision was made slightly easier by the fact they are just doing a one day clinic this time - I know it's silly but I go just as much for the social aspect and Saturday night dinner as the lessons themselves. A one day clinic means I just pay big $ for a 1.5 hour lesson with no opportunity to pick anyone's brain after. 

So far, my summer plans aren't coming to much, fingers crossed things pick up soon. I worked both my and Bridget's butts off this winter and spring to be ready for a show season, and while motivation and hard work is never a bad thing, I admit to being pretty disappointed that the opportunities I was expecting aren't making themselves easily available. Even my after work walk today in my (rural) neighbourhood was slightly depressing horse wise. Miles of gorgeous trails, all with very prominent "no horses" signs at every intersection. Not sure I can live here lol.

I do have one barn to go look at, so all is not lost. Even though it was on my original 'no' list due to the location being too far, I'm going to go meet with them since they are the only ones to return my call and therefore I like them already  :) 

Friday, 22 May 2015

Puff, Puff, Groan

To a casual bystander, most of our lesson hour likely sounded like Bridget was giving birth, rather than simply protesting moving her rib cage. Inside leg to outside rein is haarrrrrdddd for a baby pony! 



Also, it's proving hard for her rider, although I'm not so vocal about it! I'm used to either riding greenies with a direct rein, or else more "made" horses where my hands stay relatively still in front of me. This grey area where pony is not quite solid on the outside rein is difficult for me. I need to resist "helping" her with my inside rein (more like letting her hang on it!) and be much more ambitious about using my outside rein to block her shoulder when she inevitably drifts out. Don't get me wrong, I do ask, but not firmly enough! It looks better than it feels, which is a good thing. The pictures represent how I think it feels - counter bent and leading through the outside shoulder, but are actually random photos from a few days ago.

All in all, a lot to work on! It was a good lesson, but I think we were both a little frustrated and will enjoy some relaxed hacking this weekend as a reward for our efforts. 

My first week of work at the new job starts Monday, so my next lesson isn't until next weekend. I'm hopeful S will find the time to ride mid week and keep Bridget somewhat fit. I hope to move her as soon as I find decent boarding, but I'm not getting a lot of leads and am going to do my best to be patient! Best to wait for a good long term place than make compromises, even if it means missing part of the show season.
Yep, she rolled her sweaty self right in the manure pile when we got home. Nasty mares ;)

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Ginger Lives Here Too

Love my big mare!
Poor Ginger, her blog has been taken over by the Midget pony! My only excuse is that usually I groom Ginger and turn her out in the mornings inside the barn when the main door is still closed and the lighting stinks for pictures of the big mare.

Love how she`s nearly 16hh but her silhouette still looks like a pony!
Pretty girl
 Yesterday, I actually went to the barn in the afternoon to ride, but it was just too hot out - the ponies were sweating just hanging out in the pasture and I felt more like reclining in a deck chair with a frosty drink than riding.

`Lets go back in, it`s hot out!`No idea why iphone turned her so red, her current color is a really light bay like the first pics.
Ginger got a quick spa treatment and all her bug stuff applied. Bad news is she is still scratching intensively, good news is so far she's not rubbing out her mane or tail and her belly has no rubs. With the absence of actual bug bites or irritation, we're starting to wonder if it's turned into a habit. Bad news is she trotted away slightly off again, good news is both vet and farrier now think it is some kind of ongoing muscle weakness in her big fat bum and not worth too much fussing over given the lifestyle she's leading. (Pasture pet, essentially, with the odd slow W/T ride). Both feel she'd even out with increased strength behind, as she actually is weighting her hind legs evenly and pushing from behind, just one side is stronger than the other giving that little bit of a weird feel.

Bookends
I don't post a lot about Ginny because we're still weighing out options for the big mare. I might like to have her bred next spring. G is on board but would rather I sell since I don't use her much. In the back of my mind, I still think I'd like to ride and show her, but with Bridget stepping up more and more and just being so easy to deal with it's hard. She`s easy to have around and makes me smile every day, so she`s not going anywhere any day soon. We`ll wait and see what changes this new job brings before I make any big decisions - if we had our own acreage then the whole paying for a horse I don`t ride all the time argument becomes slightly less valid :)

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Banking The Hours

Nothing too exciting to report on the riding front around here. I've been putting in as many hours in the saddle as I can since my days of nearly unlimited barn time are coming to an end. I've found a super cute place for me to rent and live in during the week while I'm away working...it's not waterfront, but it's super close and in a vacation-y kind of area. I think I'll enjoy the vibe there - maybe make me feel like I'm on vacation when I'm not working!
Left lead canter a lot more presentable
Right still pretty lean-y

But at least it's uphill on the long side? 


Love this leg yield one as she's actually reaching under and over with that hind leg rather than just shuffling over slowly.

Her standard trot





I've been putting in a lot of hours at the ring. I've set these goals of showing and getting out there this summer, so I feel like I need to put in the time now while I have it. I'm stubborn, so obviously moving to a new town isn't going to interfere with those plans if I can help it lol. I still haven't firmed up any boarding arrangements in the 'new' town, so I'm planning for worst case in which she stays here and I ride when I'm home on the weekends. Less than ideal, but better than nothing! Bridget is doing great, and fingers crossed I'll find good boarding so she can come with me. Looking forward to my lesson on Friday, them I'm moving on the weekend. Ugghhh.
Asking for better transitions halt to trot.  Need to get them a bit sharper





Monday, 18 May 2015

Lean On Me

Another weekend, another lesson. I'm a bit sad I'm missing out on the weekend shows so far, but honestly, there hasn't been anything worthy of the expense (about $4-500 for ferry fares alone - trailers are expensive when they charge by the foot!) Since I know our move closer to the shows and events is imminent, I'm finding it a little easier to save the $ and stay home for now. Besides, I can live vicariously through the blogging community and all the great outings everyone seems to be having this spring :)



Waiting for the fun to begin
 I'm still hoping to have a proper show season this year and be there for their schooling event day and the dressage % days at a minimum. I have my eye on some little jumper days too and obviously the 'big' fall events, but of course it's all dependent on how quickly I find adequate boarding. Fingers crossed, I have a great coach lined up there and of course, S is here and I plan on continuing getting her help with Ginger.

As you can probably guess by my enthusiasm for a show season this year, my lesson went well! Midge brought pretty much the same attitude to the lesson as she did to the previous days schooling ride. Soft, responsive, and fairly forward. I like this new pony! Leg yields, shoulder in, haunches in were all great - fingers crossed, we've had no issues with gradually increasing the difficulty and we're doing 'proper' grown up pony lateral work more often than not. She impressed S by cantering multiple 20m circles to the left with a respectable amount of softness and balance. We're not anywhere near perfect, but generally we're in a positive trend and I'm hopeful we'll be dressage worthy at some point in this lifetime :) The right was harder for her, so my homework lies there. All our current issues revolve around us both being left handed. I let Bridget hang on my right rein too much and that being her weaker side, she quite happily takes advantage of that and leans on me and does the whole motorbike thing.  I just generally feel more uncoordinated that way, as does she, so we both need to step it up a little. S had us work in the trot and focus on having a correct bend and make Midge responsible for holding it, and me responsible for immediately correcting her! I mentioned I felt like I was nagging, and her response was that that's her point entirely - I am way too passive about correcting Bridget. Make it quick, make it effective, and then leave her alone, rather than my default of asking nicely...repeatedly. Easier said than done!

We finished up with a fun little cross rail 'course'. Bridget of course loved it, but her gas tank was running a little low and we called it good after 10 minutes or so of that. Unsurprisingly, tired ponies are good ponies, and my hack home was much less eventful than yesterdays athletic show of pony naughtiness (who says pony can't collect the canter? In place, even? LOL, Bridget, you're so busted :)



Saturday, 16 May 2015

Hot Streak

Midge's little hot streak continues. She was very up and very spooky yet again last night, which under normal circumstances I'd be worried and unhappy about. With Bridget though, you just get the feeling it's all in good fun and nothing's going to go beyond anything I can't handle. When we make it to the ring, her extra energy actually seems to be working in my favor. She's more than happy to funnel it into work!
No G to take photos again so you're stuck with my pre ride shots of the shiny pony


You're probably sick of hearing how well she's doing, but last night's ride was another stand out one. I'm still a bit surprised by the athleticism and work ethic hiding inside my 'lazy' and 'plain' pony. I took away all our poles and jumps with the plan of really focusing on my riding and our flat work. She was soft and responsive and just genuinely there to work. The canter to the left was the best yet, and felt somewhat adjustable and 'easy' for the first time. The right is still her tougher side and it's much more of a rider workout keeping her somewhat balanced. A+ for effort on her part though, so I went back to trot and played with getting 'big' and 'little' trots, focusing on making the 'little' trot ever so slightly collected and the 'big' one larger up and down than simply faster. We did a bunch of transitions, working on keeping her round and soft throughout - she's really getting the idea.

I'm feeling like pony is as far along as I could bring her on my own. Yes, I can play with the canter some more, but we're at the point where I definitely need regular lessons and a plan in place if I'm going to school her on my own and expect to advance further. S had better be ready for a bunch of questions and some post lesson homework this weekend!

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Unsettled

This upcoming move has me all mentally torn in a million different directions.  I'm excited. The job is perfect, the people are awesome, it's not that far away. I like the area. I know it's a smart move for our future, but darn, I was seriously DONE with living away from G, even part of the time. That this is a short term arrangement until he can join me makes me feel better, but I just want him there with me already! I like things organized, and I like our existing status quo. So, you can imagine the ridiculous amount of time I'm spending getting our current place just perfect, researching the new area, looking at real estate, finances, building plans,the horsey community etc etc.  I want to recreate my existing situation there, and no, I'm not wanting to make compromises! I just need to chill out :) With that in mind, I set up some appointments for the coming weekend, and popped out for a ride yesterday afternoon.
Perfectly timed ride between the rain clouds



Midge is in crazy heat, which is a new thing for me - I've not owned her long enough to know how that affects her. I know with Ginger it's dramatic, and she gets over the top herd bound, so it was noted and on my mind. Luckily, Bridget deals with it like she deals with everything -  easily. She was a bit more up, a tiny bit not wanting to leave her friends, but other than that, she was all business and ready to go to work. I opted to hack up to the ring, wanting to give us both a job to focus on. Midge had been feeling way too good and  was quite hot and spooky on my previous trail ride and my current levels of distraction are noted above :) Circles, spirals, and transitions are friends to both of us.
Neither one of us should be drinking coffee!

We started out pretty tense and disorganized. Something felt off with my stirrups or leathers and I just couldn't get them comfortable on my ankle. I also need to buy some pony sized reins. My current ones can hang too long and get pinched under the saddle flap. It's super annoying. I ended up knotting my reins and crossing my stirrups. The no stirrups thing was a blessing in disguise because it forced me to think a little more about keeping my leg under me. I'm pretty short and very strong, so I can still post and two point (and unfortunately, perch!) just fine without stirrups. So removing them won't solve my bad habits, but it does get me thinking about sitting deeper and stretching my legs down and my shoulders up. I'm going to continue with it, I think.

Midge was a star. We had a quick discussion about moving off my leg and moving her left shoulder immediately when I ask, and after that she was tuned in and ready to go. She felt soft and lovely in the trot, although crooked at times. We're starting to rely less on the inside rein for turns and more on the outside like a grownup pony, so she needs a little extra help and gets a bit crooked thinking I want her shoulder out if I overdo it. We have a lesson on Saturday, so hopefully S can help me there. We moved up to canter and I was so pleased to see Midge can now canter multiple 20m circles in each direction without falling apart. She's finding it a little easier to adjust herself, and although it's mot pretty yet. she's working hard and I think it will come. We still have our canter poles set up, one on each side, and I think I'll leave them there - they're definitely helping her get a better idea of where her feet are at.

So green and beautiful out there!
It was a super warm and muggy day so we were both pretty worn out and enjoyed a nice relaxed hack home. Another afternoon well spent :)

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Pardon The Interruption

Sorry for the somewhat infrequent posts. My current job has picked up and I'm getting called in every day, and of course my new job starts shortly and there is much preparation and research to do in order to get myself organized to move.

Sadly, I had to nix my plans to show this past weekend. I just can't justify the time and expense when I'll have so many more extra costs coming up at the end of the month. Also, for this new job I'll be moving to the area where that show series is held.  I'll have the rest of the summer and fall to attend them without the giant expense of taking a horse trailer on the ferry.

I have been riding, but it's been a little more infrequent than my normal 6 days a week schedule. Poor Midge was full of beans last night and very silly and spooky. I didn't think an arena ride would be productive, so we went out on the trails for an hour or so. It's been a number of years since I've spent a spring or summer on the coast, so all the flowers and greenery make me feel happy and slightly nostalgic for all those fun rides on these same trails when I was a little kid.
Dapples!

Enjoying the summer weather


I haven't made any firm decisions yet regarding boarding or living arrangements for next month. The horses are going to stay where they are for now and I'll see them on weekends, but I'm going to make arrangements for Bridget to come with me as soon as I find something.  I have a lead on a good sounding place with an excellent eventing coach that comes there, but it will be a bit of a drive and I'm concerned in the winter I won't get there before dark (there is no indoor or lights on the outdoor). The only place with an indoor (besides excellent coach who is full) is self board and doesn't have much turnout so I'm not thinking that's a viable option. Ideally, I'd like to find full board with access to that great coach! We've been checking out real estate, but for now I'm just going to rent and get a better idea of where or what we'd like to buy.

Ginger is going to stay where she is. I'll be able to see her on the weekends and she's just so happy and relaxed at this barn I'd feel horrible moving her.

Ginger and her boyfriend
I have a fun mini clinic weekend scheduled this Sat/Sun with S. We're going to trailer in to our local exhibition grounds and see if we can find the tools to get Midge a little more relaxed and willing outside our home arena. Until then, pardon the small interrruptions while I get my life rearranged :)

Friday, 8 May 2015

So Many Changes

This is what Bridget normally thinks of dressage
Big change #1: Bridget! I had my lesson last night and was pretty tired from work. I rode for a bit and warmed her up and she was a star - totally on my aids, there waiting when I asked for something, and she just generally felt supple and loose. S took pity on me and rode the remaining half of our lesson time and I just sat there watching with a big silly grin on my face. For the first time, I can really see what a nice ride Bridget is becoming/could be. S makes everything she rides look good, but still...pony was really wanting to work and giving 110% effort. She was soft, her little trot was swinging through from behind, she was steady in the contact  and she just generally looked relaxed and happy in her work. S had a big silly grin on her face too - she hasn't ridden B for a couple of months now and couldn't get over the difference. She commented "You're going to have a really nice horse! Look at her! This is all your hard work showing." Which of course totally made my day and earned her my eternal loyalty :) Seriously though, I have no idea what changed, but in the past month or so all that tension she used to carry through her neck and back is melting away. I never need to nag for forward (or anything) in fact. The vast majority of the time she shows up ready to work. It's a night and day difference from the pony I was riding this past fall and winter, who just felt inverted and stuck behind the leg and resentful of arena work the majority of the time. Not to mention the serious problem she had with any sort of contact! Since I was planning on only trail riding her, I thought worse case scenario I'd just ride her in a rope halter. Of course, me being me, I got ambitious about actually training her and changed her bit and had her teeth done. Really though, I think it must have been residual from some bad experience or training - it's almost like she just had to build some trust and learn I'm not going to pull on her because she's just got gradually better and better to where I was watching her yesterday in a bit of shock at how the evasions have disappeared!

Random. Because I was so excited and in the moment watching S ride, I didn't even think to take some pics

Big change #2: I took that job that's a ferry ride/ 2hr commute away from me. It's the perfect job for me, in my actual techie field and with a local municipality. With work anywhere in our area being so hard to find, I'm pretty excited to have found something so close to home that also lets me advance my career. For now, I am going to live there during the week and commute home on the weekends. We'll give that plan a month or two and if I like it there enough, we'll start making some long term plans to relocate there entirely. We will still be close enough to G's elderly parents that he'll be able to make the move eventually too. So it's all very exciting! As far as the horses go, for now they stay put and I'll be home on the weekends to ride. I will be looking for good boarding and coaching options and bring Bridget with me if the right situation comes up. I'm hopeful it will because there are some excellent eventing coaches in the area and a really good local show series. The plan at the moment is to buy something there once I'm sure the job is a good fit - so we are back to the buy a small farm or buy a better house and board the horses debate...just when we thought we had it all settled! :)
Random of Ginger looking very pretty. Probably the last time I rode her which was almost a month ago! I'm a bad owner :)


Wednesday, 6 May 2015

(Nearly) WW: Clinic Redux

A very nice person sent me some cute shots from our clinic a couple of weekends ago. They are actually all of my warm up and not the session itself, but beggars can't be choosers :)
You can see she was a little strong, but I love this picture! 

I love this one too...it's so " her" !



That's better!


She's so cute

I look super worried lol - the dressage lady clinic was still  haunting me I think :)
 There are a few more but they're variations of the above. The girl that took these is only 14 or so and wants to be a photographer, so she often comes out to events and takes pictures for practice. I'm impressed by her dedication! I've hired her to come out and take some pics at the farm later this month, should be fun :)

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Canter Poles and Spirals

Last week, S left me with a bit of homework and some canter poles strategically placed around the ring. The goal is to get Midget thinking a bit more about where her feet are and starting to teach her that her canter can be adjustable, rather than the all or nothing we currently have. G came out with me today and got a few 'interesting' shots as well as the standard ones. You are welcome to laugh at our failures :)

Reach for it!

So cute!

Does this count as getting her off her forehand? lol Also +1 for completely ineffective riding! I was like "whoa she's going to jump...let me just drop my reins and go fetal/do nothing"
I am a bouncy motorbike, whee!! Riding a baby pony is hard...I have the utmost respect for all of you out there making it look easy.


Neat to see even with all the outtakes, there are moments where she's starting to sit back and balance when I get my self together and ride. 


Trotting like a grown up pony


Spirals and circles


I often lose her shoulder in the spirals. I can see here I've used too much inside rein. These pics are like a riding lesson for me :)

These pics are pretty representative of my ride today. I think many more canter poles are in our future. Even if Bridget masters them, I'm not liking how I've reverted back to tipping forward more often than not and am not super great at being proactive about our pace until the last couple of strides. Honestly, I'm depressed by my riding...so tomorrow's lesson I am going to make S focus on me and nitpick all my bad habits. (She is a great coach, but we've been very oriented towards training the pony rather than correcting all my faults. Also I am entrenched in my terrible ways - just so no one looks at my riding and thinks she's a terrible coach lol)