Friday, 31 July 2015

Side By Side

I've had a crazy amount of people in real life mistaking Ginger for Bridget or vice versa lately. It seems weird to me because beyond being bay with cute faces, they're very dissimilar.

I had a friend comment recently that Ginger looked smaller than she remembered. " Or do I look bigger?!" I replied. But really, it was because I was riding Midge rather than the big mare.

I think Ginger just knows how to pose too...I have very few less than flattering shots of her, where it's difficult to find good ones of Midge. It's OK Midge, I look dumb in pictures too :)

Side by side the difference is obvious. Everyone ohhs and ahhs over Ginger and Bridget is largely ignored. Ginger is nearly 2 hands taller than Bridget, has the blaze and 4 white socks, and has that 'look at me' thing going on with the sporty conformation and pale dapply bay color. Even her black mane and tail have silver throughout to draw your eye. Bridget is downright plain by comparison, and while cute and just as sweet, isn't athletic looking or fancy at all.


So, rather than be annoyed, I take it as a huge compliment when people mistake them for each other. It usually means Bridget is going well and looks nearly fancy. Or, almost better, it means Ginger is chilled out and almost boring. Both good things in the world of opposite ponies.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

One Year Of Bridget

Plus, it's her birthday! Happy B-Day little mare!

As the title suggests, this week marks an entire year of owning the Midge. We've put a ton of miles on in the past year and done a lot of things. We've had a lot of fun, and a lot of difficulties too. We're not at all where I thought we'd be, but I have no regrets. I originally bought her as a confidence boosting, easy project to sell at a later date, but 1 out of 3 isn't bad ;) She may not be perfect but she's mine and she's here to stay! In celebration of that and her 6th birthday, here are 6 things I love about the Midge:

1. Honey Badger
  Bridget gives no sh*ts about anything. The normal things you expect baby ponies to worry about? Not an issue. Go ahead, clip her, bathe her, take her to a new barn, ride out on the trail with 50 friends. Jump a ditch full of zombies. She cares not. She's got so much common sense and trust in her handler it's a little freaky. Of course in true honey badger style that means she also cares not about pleasing anyone or conforming to anything. Unless it means food, then all bets are off. Luckily the two of us are a lot alike ;)

2. Or, Is She a Dog?
  As an extension of her non conforming ways, she likes her horse friends alright, but doesn't need them. No marishness, no herdboundness. She's much rather hang out with her people and get scratches and eat treats. We joke she would happily live in the house with us and go for car rides if only she was a bit smaller.

3. She's Funny
  She makes me laugh, and that's always a good thing. She's actually quite a serious little pony, and she has some pretty serious opinions about some trainers and situations. Her BS meter is remarkable. Usually our opinions match so I secretly enjoy it when she calls BS on something or someone and quietly makes their life very difficult. I might not like it when I'm the target, but I still have to laugh. She's independent, smart, and not afraid to tell it how it is. If she was a person, I think we'd be besties.

4. That Trust Thing
  While I can't always trust her to do what I ask or even be on side with me, she never makes mean, dumb or dangerous decisions. I was away this weekend and a girl from the barn called wondering if she could borrow Bridget for a ride. Sure, but Bridget's saddle was at home with me. No big deal, borrow her and ride her bareback. I love being able to let other people ride her or handle her and have zero worries anything weird is going to happen to pony or rider. Bridget looks after herself and isn't going to let a new rider do anything Bridget doesn't want to do, but I know she'll still look after them.

5. The Definition of Easy Keeper
  No shoes required. Feet naturally wear evenly. No grain needed. Ride every day for a week or don't even go to the barn for a week. Put her in a pasture with a herd, keep her in a gravel paddock alone.She'll still be fat and shiny and happy. I'd venture to say in a catastrophe she'd be the last pony standing, likely still fat and happy on a diet of brambles and tree roots.

6. She's Cute and I Like Her.
  I know you can't ride pretty or cute or whatever, but there is a lot to be said for going to the barn and enjoying the pony face that greets you. As far as that other intangible, liking her, I just do. I know it's a little weird to have that on my list, because obviously if you own a horse and pay all that $ you better like them. What I'm trying to convey is that relationship beyond 'she's mine and I love her'. The partnership that just works because you feel like you 'get' each other and there is an extra level of respect and trust inherent in that. It's a surprise that came in a rather unexpected package and at an unexpected time, but that seems to be the way all the very best gifts in life arrive :)

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Surviving

In my last post, I set the goal of surviving the weekend. Done! I'm a rock star. I don't know exactly why but I'm feeling really 'meh' about everything horsey at the moment, so please bear with me while I go through the motions. I know from experience that this will pass, but in the meantime I've scaled back a few goals and planned outings and will likely be even more boring than usual.


Disclaimer aside, I travelled home and had a great time at the Backcountry Horsemen campout this past weekend. I even won a $20 gift certificate to our local tack shop. Yay! I was sad to not be able to ride, but full board on two horses in a pricey area means the budget doesn't currently stretch to non essential ferry rides for Bridget ponies. A little box of ciders and an Adirondack chair borrowed from home were my only accessories, and I was content enough with that. After all, I was surrounded by lots of long term horsey friends, familiar horse faces, and great food. It's not all bad :)


Plus I saw this face. Love her, and I think she's rocking the long mane look rather well :)
Sunday morning, I had a lesson on Ginger. It went about as well as can be expected. She really needs a regular routine to thrive, so spooky pony with way too much energy was the order of the day. I rode a bit, but when S arrived I asked her to hop on. I'm getting a complex again thinking all the wrongs of the pony world are due to my riding, so it was nice to see someone else get on and I was (guiltily) happy to see Ginger was exactly the same for her as me. Oh well, no miracles to be had that day! Ginger is a sweetheart, so obviously it wasn't anything scary or nasty, just a pony who thinks her entire world is her pasture and herdmates and finds it quite exciting to have her busy life interrupted.


Bad screen grabs of her ride, sorry, but at least it's a text break?
S is going to take Ginny home for some boot camp just to get her back on a regular schedule, and in the meantime I'm going to see if I can find a spot with a trainer closer to the city who can market her for me. Now that I've had the time to really think it over, I know it's the only decision. Logistically, I just can't get there often enough to keep her sane, and financially I can't afford to board her long term at Bridget's barn. I'm glad I stuck it out and got back to the point where I am confident riding her, but I just don't find it as fun as I used to and am more easily frustrated. It's not even  her, she's the same as she's ever been, it's more my constant feeling of never having enough time to deal with all the things causing me to feel guilty and frustrated. Bridget is just a better fit for my current life, since I can roll into the barn, and hop on and ride regardless of when or where or how and still fit in a job and other commitments. I'm trying quite hard not to feel like it's failure to admit that, particularly as I always said Ginny was here for life and would retire on our property. Serves me right for having a 25+ year plan, particularly with horses involved lol.


text break
In other news, Bridget and I have an invitation to go barrel racing in a couple of weeks. Since I'm pretty sure that's not her thing I'm on the fence about taking her. It's just a fun charity thing, but again, the whole spending non essential $ thing comes into play (cross country schooling is ON though!). I may have to go though, because the trails stink and I've officially decided we can't do drill team and we have to do SOMETHING fun for Ms Bridget. Drill team? It looks fun, but then I saw the outfits. Just no. I can't. You laugh, but seriously that's my reason. I don't do spandex, and I don't do sequins :) So I'm at least going to go volunteer at the barrel racing, and check out the outfits. Fingers crossed the incidence of sparkles is slightly less.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Pesky Training Scale

I've had a couple more halfway decent rides on the Midge since my last post. EC and barnmates are away in Montana, so I'm being left to my own devices as far as figuring out what I need to do to achieve our homework.

Where that has got me:

Several rides with a wiggly, resistant pony. Back braced, head in the air and legs going every direction but forward.Slightly improved by end of ride, but I cheated and went back to babysitting her a little on a looser contact so we could end on a good note. It all finally led to one ride with me being a huge mean person and essentially dropping my contact and just focusing on moving forward NOW! Don't care where or how fast, just move. It was awful and took about 45 minutes to get to where I could ask her to trot off and she would do so in an acceptable time frame without wiggling a million different directions first. I also waited until she was honest about keeping the trot for at least one side of the arena without a reminder to keep going. It was frustrating and I was very discouraged.

Old pic, but this is what our last month has felt like.


Since then, I've been using that friendly reminder as my warm up. We don't do anything until she's moving forward off my leg. I give her a total loose rein and don't worry about anything besides her moving out. I used to do this at the start of our rides, and I have no idea why I stopped. In the process of rediscovering that tool, I stumbled on something that may hold a key for us.Yesterday, after our warm up where all I asked was forward on a loose rein, she was about as loose and stretchy as I've ever got her, and I was able to pick up a bit of the contact and have a halfway decent ride with some really nice canter transitions and a super fun mini jump school. A fun, not frustrating ride. I'd almost forgot those were a thing :)
Our mini jumps

My half formed thoughts;

We obviously need to work the relaxation angle. To be quite honest I tend to ignore it thinking that she's lazy and the last thing we need is more relaxation! It's easy to ignore because she fakes it well. She never does anything super reactive or feels really awful, but the rare times when I actually get true relaxation from her the rest of the problems with being unfocused/pushy/inverted/sucked back disappear. I know that's not breaking news as far as horse training goes, but I think myself and everyone that meets Bridget just mentally ticks off the 'relaxation' box on the training scale and looks for other issues. Bridget is very good at convincing the outside world she's cool as a cucumber and just being 'stubborn' and 'lazy'. I think particularly as she is a pony, and a stocky little Welsh Cob, people expect to see the more showy up and down 'pony' trot and the higher neck and maybe don't think it signifies anything. In reality, when she truly relaxes her topline, she's got lovely big horse gaits hiding in there which to me is an entirely better, although different ride.

More apples for good ponies
I still believe Ms Bridget internalizes a lot of anxiety. She's the type to look and think it over, rather than react, but she's not 'dull' at all. She's very interested in everything going on around her, and the more distractions, the more inverted/sucked back/tense she gets. It's a fine line between the point where she is still willing and cooperative and where she just kind of gets overwhelmed and shuts down.I need to be better at reading that, and remember that just because she's not going all Ginger drama about it, it doesn't mean it's not real.

Speaking of which, I have a lesson booked with the Ginger mare tomorrow. Fingers crossed we all survive ;)

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Bridget Updates, Life Updates


Thanks for all the encouragement and advice on my recent post regarding Ginger mare. I know I'm making smart decisions, but while sometimes change is a necessary and good thing, it's still never easy. I've had a ton of change recently, and most of it is very good - new barn, new job, new town, etc. This is the exact job in the exact location I've wanted for a few  years now. This job was the end goal for all those contracts and jobs far away from home these past few years. I'm boarding with the trainer I wanted. This is where G and I had agreed would be a great place for us to live and retire, and part of our long term plan, so yay for achieving some serious goals. Still, I think I've reached max capacity for changing all the things and that's part of the reason that selling Ginger is even tougher than it should be. I know it's the right decision, but it's so nice knowing I have Ginger at home at the boarding barn I love, with all my old riding buddies (not to mention Coach S) close by. All that being said, I can't be selfish and I know there is a great home for her out there if I just wait and make the right connections.

So, as the title suggests, we haven't had a proper Midge update in a few weeks. She's settled into the barn alright, but argues with her paddock mates continuously. She's the same in the pasture as she is for me to deal with - always quietly pushing the boundaries and stubbornly refusing to listen to a suggestion, forcing you to up the ante. She's covered in bite marks as she insists on crowding into the other horses' space then moving away too slowly and with way too much attitude when they call her on it. At least we're all consistent? :)
Cute, but rotten
As for riding, I've been doing a ton of it. The barn is only 10 minutes from my work and I'm there every day, except every second weekend when I travel home. We've done a bit of trail ridng, but I've yet to find a trail network that doesn't lead to private property. No matter, we've got some decent hills for fitness close to the barn and the views are stunning. I'm slowly figuring out that my barnmates
and my idea of a hack are different things, but riding more in the arena isn't such a bad thing when the company is so friendly and welcoming :)
We've had a couple of lessons since my last update, neither of which were really worth blogging about. Midge has been in full on "I don't wanna" mode for a while now and we're back to establishing forwards and steering as things worth doing. My spurs have made a comeback! Needless to say, her lack of willingness hasn't got us any invites to anything fun show wise, but we do have a potential cross country schooling scheduled for when the rest of the barn gets back from being awesome at Rebecca Farm. Cross your fingers hard that the good Midge shows up ready to play and makes my goal of eventing her a little look slightly less unrealistic. I think so far EC is feeling slightly doubtful and more inclined to trailer us to some dressage shows.
Love the views
Happy pony ears
Wonder if this road goes all the way to the ocean?

I've been working some mornings at the barn before I head to my real job to help pay down Midge's (super expensive!) board. I'm not liking the super early mornings, but I am enjoying feeding and feeling like I'm a little more involved. I loved having the horses at home and have missed the day to day stuff. This is a good compromise - I get to do some chores, but I'm not tied to the barn 24/7.


Clean barn and fed horses make me happy
Yesterday, I was pretty tired after work, and debated going back to the barn. I'm glad I did, because I had the best ride I've had in a couple of months. I'm not pretending it was all good or pretty, but we had some much better results in terms of moving forward relaxed and willingly. We've been really struggling with her sucking back inverted and wiggling all over the place rather than really moving out on a light contact. So I essentially dropped the reins and rode on the buckle until she was moving forwards in a relaxed frame and she eventually started seeking the contact herself. She felt way softer and a ton more willing than she has in a long while. I'm thinking we may need to have her teeth checked, but I suspect she's also just a little out of shape and finding our new schedule all a bit much in the hot weather. Also, she's just going through a bit of a phase again. She is a pony mare, after all! Rather than pick a potential fight with the canter, I just did a lot of walk/trot transitions and kept it easy and simple for her. The canter is coming along, with a lot of good moments, but getting the lead to the right is a real challenge again. Our homework for that is a lot of shoulder in, haunches in, and leg yields through walk/trot transitions, with the idea of building strength and helping pony to get a better idea of where those feet are no matter how slow or fast she is moving. Fingers crossed she doesn't use it against me and become even more wiggly! We finished off by popping over a couple of cross rails and her relaxed state of mind really worked for me...she was really jumping them nicely, although giving them a lot of room! I think she enjoyed herself, so maybe we'll do the odd day of that along with our mini trail rides to try to keep pony happy in between our dressage lessons and 'homework' rides. We did get an invite to try out drill team, and I think that might have interesting possibilities for getting the little mare thinking more about forwards being more fun than work, but I'm unsure if the current grouchy mare pony with questionable steering would fit in. 
We'll have to wait and see :) I'm more than a little disappointed to be missing out on all the fun things and shows this summer but am slowly accepting the idea that reestablishing those solid basics and working hard at home is a better plan for the long term.
Don't let the cute face fool you - this pony is trouble!
This weekend, I'm off for home to visit G and Ginger mare. I have a lesson booked on Ginny, and
also it's the Backcountry Horseman Poker Ride weekend. I think it would be a very big ask to take Ginger to that, and Midge is here so no riding for me. It's a fun time, but a bunch of people pull out their horses once a year just to attend and things have been known to get slightly too 'interesting' for ponies like Ginger. I'm still going to go hang out at camp with my friends and enjoy the party. My best horsey friend S has cancelled her show plans to hang out there and catch up, which I'm really excited about. We have both pledged to not get the other into too much trouble, which shouldn't be too hard. Our collective reputation is based on entirely unsubstantiated events from long ago, after all ;)

Monday, 20 July 2015

ZBH Blog Hop Everyday Fail

I saw Nicole's post and knew that I absolutely had to join this blog hop. But how? I have so much fail it's impossible to pick just one, or even a theme of failure. I also fail at decision making.

Yesterday, Bridget opted to help me out by failing spectacularly in front of an audience.

Last night, I attempted to turn her around in the (wide) aisleway of the barn. There was a bucket of apples near the tack room door. Mid turn, she saw the apples and thought about maybe stealing one. Except then I think she forgot to turn/move her feet on the concrete and just slowly fell down on her side. Of course, being Midge, she was completely unworried by that and was more interested in sorting her legs out so she could get up with her head still near the apples, than the actual issue of, you know, laying in the middle of the barn aisle.

Of course she eventually carefully righted herself and was fine and totally unconcerned. I can only wonder what my new barnmates must think, particularly as I later gave her an apple out of sympathy, which she then proceeded to eat in her favorite way - sucking on it like a giant jawbreaker, rather than just biting into it. I maybe think she's paranoid of letting pieces drop out of her mouth and losing them? Whatever the case, it's a process in fail for her to eat an apple. For a smart pony, she's exceptionally ridiculous sometimes.
Self explanatory. Imagine 5 minutes or so of this face before she's finally juiced it enough to eat

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Just Can't

So, I posted an ad for Ginger a couple of days ago. Then I pulled it down last night. In a 48 hour period, I got a few years worth of weird phone calls and emails. Horse people are crazy, in case you didn't know.

Some of it might be due to the fact that I tried to be honest in my ad. I wrote "...would suit confident, experienced rider, because although she is very kind and generous, Ginger is a very forward thinking and sensitive mare", or something along those lines.

I got people calling with comments ranging from 'she sounds fun" to"why would that require experience?" to "sounds like she just needs some groundwork/sacking out" (oh, to be a fly on the wall for that 'lesson'!), to (basically) "give her to me for free and I will save her from you, you just don't understand her" to "I could buy a super broke QH/TB, whatever, for what you're asking for your Welsh Cob that needs an experienced rider" (so why then are you looking at Welsh Cobs who need experienced riders?) I'm trying not to be offended by some of it, but I'm finding it seriously difficult to let it all roll off my back and sort out the legit people from the dreamers. I'm a super honest person who wants the best home for my horse that I've owned for 4 years. It's a hard decision for me, and I don't need to get rid of her tomorrow because she's a problem or because I'm broke or whatever else they seem to want to think. I'm asking a fair price for her age, breed, and level of training (someone is going to get a FANCY pony with a great start for well under the going rate because I am aware she's been ridden infrequently of late and we live in a remote location) I'm offended by the people who seem to be trying to accuse me of lying, not knowing my horse, or who are just generally pushy and condescending. I don't know why so many horse people have something to prove, but they apparently do, and they like the pretty Ginger pony a lot.

So, as mentioned, I've pulled the ads. I'm already having difficulty with this decision and I'm not the right personality to deal with some of those calls. I have a couple of people going to come meet her in the meantime, but the plan is to send her to a training/consignment barn and have the trainer there ride and evaluate her and find a good match. Worst case with that plan is she doesn't sell and my Ginger pony just gets some more miles being fancy and has to stay with mean old me for a while longer. Win/win, I'd say :)

I also may take a little blogging break as far as diary type entries go. I'm having a tough time with all the horsey things right now and am struggling with finding my positivity (spell check, how is positivity a made up word? If it's not real I think it should be). I need a little time out...or at least to not dwell on all the drama. Ignore your problems and they will go away, right? ;)


Monday, 13 July 2015

Getting It Wrong


We finally got some rain this past weekend. Take that, forest fires!

Unfortunately, that rain made my quest for decent pics and video of Ginger a little difficult. I wasn't too upset, after all that would only make it harder to make a sale ad for her :)
Pretty girl, but my only decent and somewhat current ad worthy pic of her

The weather cleared a little on Sunday morning, so G and I headed out to the barn. Ginger has been ridden infrequently of late, but has been going pretty well. I was somewhat optimistic we'd get some decent video, and maybe slightly hopeful she'd be so amazing some magic would happen and we'd opt to keep her and never look back ;)

Again, the universe said "Nope, not happening". Poor Ginger was having a bad day, so most of my ride consisted of bolty, panicky pony. I have no idea what was going on and suspect a combination of things, mostly her off and on again schedule. She lunged fine, but was just extra sensitive and silly under saddle. We will just chalk yesterday up to a Ginger day. We all survived to try again, but it did make me realize a few things:

- The infrequent schedule isn't doing anyone any favours.

- I need to move her, either closer to me or to a trainer who can get her back in a proper program.

- I feel super confident in the saddle again, even with Ginger on a bad day. But it still isn't fun.

- And finally, as much as it stinks, I know I'm making the right decision in selling or leasing her. My goal for so long has been to get my confidence back and really be able to ride her well again. I feel like that's happened, but whatever magical thing I thought would accompany that is still missing. Unexpectedly, the Midget pony has quietly stepped into Ginger's shoes and beyond, so rather than the original plan of selling/leasing Bridget and going back to having Ginger as my main ride, we're going to do the opposite. Life is weird sometimes. It's also a little sad, but I do see the humor in it all. There is a sense of rightness in how everything has played out this past year.

I'll leave you with this great photo sequence from yesterday:
Cute pony
ARRGHHH! Monsters!
See ya!
G is under strict instructions not to take photo or video of me falling or dying, so he sensibly put the camera down and these three pictures are all I got from my ride. I think we'll call that an advertising fail, but a funny one :)

Friday, 10 July 2015

Getting It Right

I finally fit a ride in last night after work. We are still slammed with extra work, but it's starting to let off as the forest service gets more organized and takes over more and more of the day to day stuff from us. A huge shout out to the fire fighting crews who arrived here this week from Ontario and Australia, their help is so appreciated!
Smoke from earlier this week


We may get a little rain this weekend, but for now the heat remains ridiculous. This summer is breaking all the records, and not in a good way! Poor Midget looked less than impressed when I brought her saddle out, but we are at a "serious" barn now and have training goals to meet! She inflated herself to epic proportions, yet I still managed to get her saddle on.(seriously...how on earth does a 14hh pony suck in enough air to barely fit a 48" girth with elastic ends? It's a huge struggle to get it done up, even on the last holes. Once we get moving, I can gradually move each side up 3-4 holes, at which point my girth is now borderline too big. It's a ridiculous situation. I'm going to rent her out to pony parties. She can give rides AND blow up all the balloons.)
Round pony

She started out pretty sluggish and contrary. Her right side is the side she tries to avoid using, so being the heartless person I am, that's the side we started with. I won't lie, it was kind of ugly. I had this plan of getting all the forwards and canters right away before she got tired, which maybe wasn't the best plan with a stiff and contrary pony with a broken forward button.

The right lead was simply not happening. No matter how I set it up, at best she would take a stride then escape out through the shoulder and do a flying change back to left lead and go back to her current preferred way of being counter bent to the outside so she can keep an eye on her pasture buddies. On a tiny circle, even. Which obviously required a ton of grunting and groaning, because that's hard work! No matter, our homework was more about cantering forward immediately when asked rather than insisting on the correct lead. If you recall, EC is of the opinion that since we will want to counter canter on purpose eventually when asked, it's counterproductive to make a big deal about being "wrong" for offering it and shutting it down now when she is just learning. 

Finally, I felt like our forward button was where I wanted it to be. The lead thing was still nagging at my brain though, because regardless of any thoughts on right/wrong leads, I was asking Midge to use her body a certain way and she was pushing through and ignoring me.  So, I gave her a walk break in which I really focused on getting her to move her shoulders and hindquarters over immediately without leaning on me. When she was light and off my aids, I set her up for a right lead canter from walk and got a beautiful one. I made big fuss over Ms Bridget's awesomeness and she cantered quite happily around the arena a few times. I could really feel her relax and start using her body, almost as if she was thinking "Wait! This is easy! Is this really all that my rider wanted?!" 
Dinner time!

I let her pop over a couple of crossrails as a reward, and finished there. Only about a half hour ride, but that's the sort of stuff I want to quit on and have pony think about for next time :)

We were both quite tired and sweaty from our efforts, so Ms B had her first bath. In true Bridget fashion she was horribly offended for about two seconds, then decided she could tolerate for a minute or two, then decided baths are actually pretty fun and didn't want me to stop spraying her until her dinner was served. She's such a funny thing.
Nom nom nom

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Wobbly

Thanks for the positive thoughts re: our crazy fire season this year. Our local one is still growing, but the winds are currently in our favour and driving it away from homes :)

With the advantageous winds blowing most of the soot and smoke away from our area, I got out for a ride last night. I'm noticing we're really going through a wobbly, wiggly kind of stage. Last week, I attributed it to New Barn Syndrome (so much to look at!), but I'm starting to feel it's a little bit of a thing lately in general. Our forward button seems a little intermittent/slightly broken, and my outside aids are largely being ignored in favour of attempting to look outside the area. She's also been a bit rude and impatient on the ground and acting a little herdbound.

Of course you can never really know what's going on in those pony minds, but I'm fairly certain this is just Bridget attempting world domination. We've been here before and I'm sure we'll be here again in the future. She's still trying to figure out her place in the new herd and currently she sits at the bottom. That makes it extra special important to her to be the boss of SOMEONE. She's got bite marks all over her showing her recent snarky mare efforts aren't productive as far as her herdmates go. I'm sure her little mind is thinking "why not try that person who shares her food with me?".


"Talk to the hoof, human"

So, we're back to being super fussy about ground manners, and really being on top of the "forward NOW", "turn NOW', "Whoa means whoa" basics. It doesn't feel pretty, and I'm hoping my barnmates aren't horrified by the frequent reminders needed with my stick,  but on the plus side EC seems to keep half an eye on us even outside lessons and will call out the odd random tip or encouragement. I miss our old peaceful and quiet ring, but have to admit the input is very helpful and that this seems like a good path to getting a better trained Bridget.

We need to teach B what that hose is for. She's never had a bath before!
Since EC and barnmates are away at another horse trails this week/coming weekend, our next lesson isn't until Monday. That leaves lots of time for me to squash the hostile takeover Ms B is planning, although I may mix arena rides with being non confrontational and heading out for a trail ride or two in an attempt to get her on side again!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

On Hold

BC is getting hit hard with wildfires right now, and the coastal area I live and work in is no exception. That means no trip home to see Ginger this weekend, but on the plus side both Bridget and Ginger live in unaffected areas.

Where I'm living is fairly close to a large fire (about 2 miles away) so I'm slightly on edge, but not super worried. We woke up this morning to bright orange skies and ash falling everywhere, so I think it's safe to say there will be no riding or other sports this weekend - the air quality is terrible!
The above was taken midday. Scary skies!

Fingers crossed no further evacuations are necessary and the forest service crews stay safe and get better containment of the fires closest to residences soon. 

Friday, 3 July 2015

Q3

I've been off and on with the goal posts this year. I'll save you the recap of the previous goals - mostly, I've met them, but things have changed a lot since my last goal setting post so I think it's time to start fresh and keep it simple.

Horse Related Goals/To Do List:

- Ride a minimum of 4 times a week. Use my time wisely and plan for some 'homework' days - new coach likes to assign things to work on and goals between lessons.

- Lesson once a week. Make room in the budget, make it a priority.

-Take full advantage of the riding/showing/training opportunities offered at the new barn. Don't say no to anything, or feel bad about making my riding goals more of a priority than they have been. The people that matter are 100% supportive of them (Thanks especially to you, Mr G :)!

-This one stinks, but I do need to sell the big mare or find a good long term lease home for her. Board prices keep rising, my time is becoming ever limited, I still have anxiety riding pretty much anything but Bridget, and I know Ginny would be miserable if I moved her with Bridget to my current barn. I haven't found anything else suitable in the area, so I'm stuck visiting her every second weekend. Things may change in the future where I regret this decision even more, but sometimes you just need to live in the present and do what you've got to do to sleep well at night. I will post links to her ad when I finally stop procrastinating about creating one :)

Personal:

-Watch what I eat/exercise. As always! I've been super tired and burnt out lately, in general just need to look after myself better. Need to plan out meals better.

-As I mentioned in my previous post, I need to suck it up. This coach has taught some big name riders and trained some horses to a very high level. Listen to her input whether it's things I want to hear/change/a direction I want to go or not. Essentially, trust the program.

-Budget my time better. Working full time in the week, travelling on the weekends, riding multiple days a week, trying to fit in a walk/run daily, and working at the barn some mornings means I'm up at 6:30 most mornings and don't get home until 7:30. I feel guilty for being too busy for some of the things I used to have time for - need to let go of that, but still work to fit small pieces of them back into my life.

-As always, don't be too hard on myself. Don't feel bad about saying no and setting boundaries. (Except as related to the goals above, of course...then I had better feel very, very guilty lol!)

-And finally, keep on having fun. I hope it goes without saying just how much I enjoy, love, and appreciate my ponies and the people in my life. If not, you heard it here first.


Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Lesson Notes

*Please excuse any weird formatting- I'm using my phone and the app is less than awesome*


Bridget and I had our first lesson at the new barn this morning. This coach's name is S, just like my coach at home, and just like the two prior to that from the blogs Alberta beginnings. Oh, and my best horse riding friend is an S as well. To keep things slightly clearer for everyone, I'm going to call this one Eventer Coach, or EC (even though she rides dressage and teaches hunter/jumper her main focus is eventing)

Overall first impressions were ok. I feel like she's a good mix for me of being positive but also very assertive. Honestly, I'm going to have a bit of trouble dealing with the more assertive stuff, being an independent, stubborn sort myself, but it will be good for me to be pushed and have things laid out bluntly with little room for excuses. It was probably the most useful lesson I've ridden in in years, so my personal feelings about some of the things said can shut up and go away already ;) 

We just had a flat lesson to get acquainted with the arena and EC, so no jumping yet. Please excuse the notes format, wanted to spare you a novel yet retain the key points :)

Take home points: 
- posting diagonals, leads not "right" or "wrong". Many reasons why you would ask for/use either...depends on what hind leg you are looking to influence.
- Bridget is excellent in the contact. Stop babying her, nitpicking. Raise hands and keep them steady, softer elbows.
- On that note, Bridget is well started in general. Sit up and ride and keep my expectations high. Don't ride for safety/effectiveness anymore, start asking and riding more correctly - don't "help" her so much.
- She has three excellent gaits. Moves like a horse rather than pony. Canter is really nice, just need to compress it. (this one made me so, so happy!)
- Right lead canter for homework, she's dropping her shoulder in the transition and I'm "giving up" too soon and letting it happen, often resulting in wrong lead.
- She is very balanced, not obviously favouring one side to the other. Whoever started her did a good job. 
- Transitions for homework. Be more aware in the moment of dictating the amount of go/whoa I want rather than letting her get too slow/fast during the strides before and after.
- She is slightly behind the leg/inconsistent about forward but not too bad...should be better when she gains more fitness.
-Lose the foam half pad, saddle fits decently as is and should fit quite well when she has built her top line up more.
-Bridget rides as she looks. Nice in the bridle, relaxed, but wiggly, inconsistent. (EC got on for the last few minutes) Good thing though because means neither of us is compensating or leaning on the other and creating horse/rider specific issues.
-More dressage than eventing potential. Could be competive in dressage, will max out quickly eventing. (But good to event at low level for fun/cross training, particularly as I am so confident with her) I know this and am ok with it BTW - cobby ponies aren't you're typical upper level eventers lol, no crushed dreams here ;)

Personal take homes (not anything EC mentioned specifically, just me thinking here):

- I need to be fitter, as does pony.

- Need to not be so hard on myself, but also need to be more disciplined.

Reading the above, there is nothing too bad at all there, and lots of good - focus on good, don't get emotionally invested in "bad", but recognize weaknesses and set goals to improve.