Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Lacking in Focus


Potential new pony has a pre-purchase exam scheduled for early next week! I'm so nervous/excited  about it, and all the changes a young horse will bring, that it's pretty much all I can think about if I let myself.

I have no idea how some of you are all casually,"Oh yeah, by the way, here's New Horse that I got last week. I have been shopping for a while and this one was my choice."

I am still operating at toddler level when it comes to containing my emotions regarding shopping for a new pony :) My nervousness about the upcoming vet check shows that despite me trying very hard to remain mature, I'm already pretty emotionally invested in the concept of this particular pony. 
I am so happy with Bridget that it seems a bit weird to be shopping, even though I know future self (and Bridget) will thank me for finding something a little more inclined to be a sport pony:)

Luckily, I have plenty of other things I should be focusing on. Or first show of the year is upcoming in 3 weeks and EC wants me to try 1-3. I give those counter canter loops a 50% chance of happening in any kind of balanced fashion, so we might want to practice that.

I've been a little all over the map with regular schooling of late - we've had a lot more snow than usual the last couple of months and the outdoor arena has been unavailable more often than not. I'm also noticing my horsey friend social circle here is larger and more varied than at the barn on the south coast, so we get invited on a lot more non dressage/jumping related adventures. Nice 'problem' to have, I know, but my inability to say no to fun adventures does cut in to our already limited practice time. In short: progress has slowed to a crawl, but I'm happy :)

Trail lunch break

Bridget has been lacking in focus lately too. She's been consistently VERY spicy, and VERY opinionated lately. So funny, but it might be less funny if  Wild Racehorse Bridget makes an appearance on show day!

In the vein of continuing to tame Wild Racehorse Bridget and redefining my focus, I'm hoping to find enough people for a dressage clinic with EC mid month. We've got a few regulars already, then a few who seem to come and go. Sadly, there hasn't been as much regular participation as I had hoped, over the winter we have had just enough riders to make the clinic a go each month. It's a very western and trail riding focused community here so a dressage/eventing coach is a bit of a tough sell :)

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

PSA

You might remember: Long ago, in a land far away...

I sent Bridget's dressage saddle in to be reflocked and have the billets replaced.

Just routine repairs and maintenance on a 20 year old saddle. Expected costs - I knew when she checked it after I bought it last year that the flocking was getting hard. I'm still grateful that somehow a short flap, XW 17" County Competitor was out there used and in decent shape when I needed it to be and I didn't need to order a new one for $$$$$. Particularly as the rep obviously didn't have that particular configuration in a demo and it was all a bit of a guessing game as to whether I would actually like it!

I know I complained about how long it was taking for the work to get done. I take it all back. Saddler started work this morning, and took the time to thoroughly check the tree while she had the flocking stripped. Guess whose saddle had a popped rivet in the head plate? Mine, of course. So, now I thank saddle fitter for repairing that at a $60 charge rather than the tree eventually flexing and cracking/breaking and costing time and $$$$ to replace (And, let's be honest, on a $1500 saddle, it's probably not even worth it).


So, a friendly reminder, it's worth it to have a good professional check your saddle thoroughly now and then. I feel like I have a good basic knowledge, but I'm still not doing overly well with my own evaluations of my tack. Remember my very favorite (Stubben - bought brand new) jump saddle that actually had a slightly twisted tree causing the imbalance I thought was a flocking or unbalanced baby horse issue? And, now with this dressage saddle - there was no squeaking or anything to indicate something was happening and if I hadn't wanted it reflocked I'd likely have kept using it until the tree was obviously compromised and likely non repairable.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Snow Days


We've had some typical West Coast snow this week. It's borderline too warm for snow to stick around so it melts during the day, then refreezes at night. It makes a slushy/melty/icy mess and is generally not safe to ride on.

So, we've been doing a lot of this:

We'd like to ride outside in the sunshine, but...
The trees that provide such nice shade on the outdoor arena in the summer unfortunately keep the snow around longer in the winter.


So, no overly interesting adventures this week. We've just been plugging away in the indoor, trying to be ready for our first show of the year (Thunderbird Gateway Dressage in Vancouver, March 23-25)

Rather than a bunch of dark and blurry indoor pics from this week, here are a couple of other ones I haven't posted yet, all from this last month:

Group trail ride, that's us on the left ahead of the appy

Visit to the lake


"Is it dinnertime yet?"

It's been a fun month variety wise - a good clinic with EC, a couple of club events to attend, and a good mix of fitness rides and flatwork. No jumping since Christmas though - we're not allowed to jump in the indoor and the outdoor has either been frozen or flooded the few weekends I've had time to set a course. 

Upcoming for March: 

-Dressage schooling show I already mentioned
-Dressage clinic Mar 17th
-Weeklong "camp" at our home away from home, EC's barn. I'm just going to fit into whatever lessons I can for the week. I'm looking forward to it. Despite all my good riding buddies here,  I've been feeling a little isolated lately since I may be the only rider in an English saddle in these parts.
-Drill team practices start. I have no idea what expect, but I think it'll be fun to try something new.
- And, maybe if luck is on my side, a new prospect. Hoping to get a vet check booked on my favorite this week. So exciting and anxiety inducing all at the same time! Obviously, I'll stop being so secretive and share tons of pictures and details just as soon as something is official - promise!

Thursday, 22 February 2018

30 Things

Thanks, Emily and Amanda, for the blog inspiration!


1. I love architecture: Even as a child, historic buildings and cool design fascinated me. Then, as now, give me a sketch pad, a pencil, and a ruler and I'll happily spend hours designing buildings down to the smallest details. I mock things up digitally now and then, particularly if I want to show G a 3D walk through, but nothing beats paper and pencils for me.

2. I like building things: furniture, cabinetry, home renos. Ties in with the above. I really like visualizing and creating things, then working hands on. I'd go so far as to say that's why I enjoy the training process with horses so much too.
House imagined and  reno'd by me. The living room floor might still be my favorite part - it took me hours to install and was custom milled from alder at a local place. The beams too, there were two rooms here and the ceiling was collapsing, so the beams are structural as well as making it feel a bit more 'west coast'

3. I didn't have regular lessons until I bought Ginger. I always lived in an area without coaching growing up. My first event was 3 years ago, my first dressage show was last year!

4. Sharks. Orcas. Nightmares: I have an irrational fear of the above, and threfore do not swim in the ocean. I often have nightmares where the boat/ferry/plane is sinking/crashing and I'm like "oh NBD I can swim" then my cruel subconscious is like "But these are orca infested waters!!! ha ha"

5. I've been kind of a nomad. I've lived in a huge amount of places in western Canada. Usually for work, sometimes just because I was bored and needed a change.

6. Education: I had no money/no family backing, so the obvious archectecture degree (7 years of university) seemed unattainable cost and time wise. Instead, I did a tech college diploma in Forestry, thinking to get a good paying job sooner. I went back at age 30 and did 2 more years, specializing in GIS (geographic information systems)

7. My first real job out of college was as a Park Ranger. Fun times! That evolved into surveying and mapping in the parks, and working on ecological studies for the govt but never anything permanent/year round.

8. Resulting in some super random jobs to fill in the employement gaps. Post office letter carrier, barn manager, paper machine operator, forklift driver, tow truck dispatch, vet assistant, construction labourer. Obviously, none of them 'stuck' as potential long term career options.
Sorry, paper machine crew, I don't miss this

9. I've been a GIS/IT tech/analyst for a few years now, and it's a great fit (finally, lol)

10. When I'm retired, I want to be that awesome old lady with the small barn and nice horses that teaches cheap riding lessons to the local kids.

11. I'm a total introvert. Parties and small talk are exhausting.

12. I actually only very rarely drink, and I don't like wine (gasp!). Beer, cider, in summer, maybe the odd daquiri on vacation. One drink hasn't "tasted like another" for a very long time. (This may be what is complicating my awkwardness at parties, lol)

13. Good Mexican food is my very favorite,

14. And, I'm vegetarian.

15. I haven't ever had a cable suscription. Internet, obviously, and books. So many books.

16. Marriage. Nice idea, not something I feel overly strongly about for myself. G and I have been together for 12 or 13 years now, and I wouldn't want it any other way. We could make it official, but see above re: introvert...my idea of worst day ever probably involves being the center of attention at a party. It would only be worse if it was a cruise/beach wedding in shark infested waters.

17. Chocolate, not coffee. I'm still not a coffee drinker. The closest I can get is a mocha, because chocolate is everything to me.

18. I love learning new things. The tech job thing works for me because things are always changing and there is a constant learning curve if you want to stay current.

19. Besides riding, hiking is the other thing I do regularly. Its a big thing here. How can we not when our weather is comparitively moderate year round, the trails so accessible, and the scenery so stunning?
So much backcountry

20. My current dream trip is this Ride Andes horseback tour of Ecuador.

21. After horses, my favorite animals are elephants.

22. I have a really terrible sense of left and right, and am equally terrible at remembering what day of the week/date it is without reminders. I've forgotten numerous birthdays, anniversaries...heck even Christmas a few years ago ("Why is the barn so quiet on a Saturday morning?" lol)

23. I'm a bit of a minimalist. I love clean, bright spaces and multipurpose items. I don't generally have much that I don't need. (except my strange addiction to saddle pads, and Asmar rain coats..as discussed previously on this blog :)

24. Yolo. I'm very much an 'in the moment' person and will sacrifice future plans for current enjoyment almost very time.

25. It's partly true that opposites attract. G very much loves his piles of clutter ( I dream of renting a paper shredder for a day, but yeah, we'd have to get a fake divorce if I did :), is super social and outgoing, and definitely good at planning and saving for the future. He's really not good with envisioning things that aren't there in front of him or assuming 'things will work out because they always do'. He's the outgoing realist, I'm more the introverted dreamer.

26. Speaking of introverted, I really like gardening.

27. Cats > dogs. I used to be a dog person, but I've since figured out it's because I had a dog who was basically a giant loyal cat who loved car rides. No barking, super clean and tidy, and happy to sleep all day. I've taught my curent cat to sit, fetch, and come when he's called, so what more can I ask for? :)

Too bad he's much grumpier than your average dog

28. I grew up with a parent suffering from pretty severe mental illness that was not to be talked about/not medicated. I think as a kid, you don't know that's not normal or not something you somehow made happen. So, life from my 20's onward still feels like a huge unexpected gift. I really treasure and enjoy every good thing in my adult life. I know that can come across as me being very cheerful/naive/unrealistic/overconfident/impulsive about things sometimes. And, maybe I am :)

29. I know I mentioned I like reading. I'll read anything. I literally caught myself reading a report on wastewater treatment yesterday at work and was like "wait, I only needed to know the date of construction that was listed on the cover page...why exactly am I still reading this?"

30. If not horses, maybe skiing? I took a couple of beginner lessons years ago and it was the only other time I've felt moments of being completely free and in tune with things.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Negotiations For Peace

My ride on Saturday started where Friday's left off. Good news, though, it got better as we went along. About 20 min in, I felt like I had B totally on side, which can be an accomplishment all in itself. As always, I worked a lot on moving her body around and after a lot of bending and suppling in walk, we had pretty much her best effort at leg yield in canter ever. So nice, tons of jump, balanced, forward without rushing. She' s learning and getting stronger!

Just one pic from my ride. proof I rode, at least?

You're probably so sick of hearing all things Bridget and canter, but it's SUCH a process. She literally couldn't even canter three years ago when I got her. Then, two years ago, we could canter, but not balanced enough to hold a 20m circle reliably. Enter a temporary focus on jumping to get her more motivated and help find a consistent pace.  A year or so ago, we started adding some of the suppling exercises we know so well from trot. Bend, counter bend, leg yield, collect a bit, extend a bit. Each one was such a fine line between building strength and her losing her balance and getting discouraged. You all know I work on this multiple times a week, so every time some of the pieces all come together it's super exciting for me, especially when she's carrying herself with minimal help from me. The best thing of all, of course, is that she's willing to try so hard, especially after a not so good ride the previous night.

Spoiler alert: If and when I buy another pony, it's going to have a good natural canter. Much as I love Bridget, and as much as I've learned thanks to her, I can't willingly face starting over with another three years of teaching a pony how to canter :) The whole process is fascinating from a learning perspective, but it is also a very slow process involving a lot of repetition. I'm grateful to have learned so much, but perhaps I can hope to delve into new and different things next time?

"New horse? Just let me look over the numbers"

"You spend all this on horses? I thought I was your favorite?!"

"I'm so disappointed in you I can't even"

Yesterday, it snowed again! So weird, it used to be lucky to get snow once a year, but the last couple of years we've had so much snow. G and I went for an hour hike that turned into an afternoon, so when we went to the barn after, I just mucked out and filled water buckets before heading home to a warm shower. I couldn't face more hours of coldness or walking B down the road in the snow and dark. I'm sure she's fine with that :)
Pic from our hike makes it look like we were in the middle of nowhere, but there is a pub one bay over where we may or may not have spent some time 'resting", lol

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Stay in Bed Or Try Harder?

I choose trying harder.

Bridget has been such a good girl lately that I was really looking forward to riding last night. I should have known better, because it's a known fact ponies feed on such weakness.
A is for Adorable, though...its her superpower.

My ride was awful. There's no other word for it. After months of being cheerfully in front of the leg, sucked back, don't wanna work pony made her grand reentry into my life. The good news is, after much back and forth, I did get her jumping off my leg again. The bad news is that the relaxation was completely gone, and she was back attempting to bully her way through my aids and the bridle. I, in turn, feel like when she's like this I ramp up to match and I ride like a bit of a bully...I hate using my spur and stick so much and then shes forward but pushy so we are doing a million rather abrupt down transitions to get her carrying herself instead of running off with me. Not a lot of harmony or lightness there. Always the need for more tools and knowledge.  A better rider than me might gave found a happy medium and fixed all of the "ick" in one ride, but, honestly I was starting to get discouraged and stopped after a couple of nice canters where was forward, yet responsive and waiting.

Quite flexible when there's food involved :) What's extra funny about this pic is I was mucking out and didn't latch the gate, she  seriously only needed to push it a little and she could have  gone out and eaten that green grass much more easily.

I was like "Phew, glad that's done, tomorrow is a new day!"

A ha ha ha ha, I'm so funny! My previously absolutely perfect to hack out pony decided she was also very much looking forward to being done with the result that she was super barn sour on our hack home. The usual 15min loose rein cool down hack took me over an hour, as we reviewed baby horse concepts such as staying in walk unless asked, halting when asked, without fussing and rearing(?!) Bucking/tantrums are also not a good choice when you don't get your way...you know fun stuff like that. Lots of turning around and riding away from home, riding past the driveway to the barn repeatedly, etc. When we actually got home I left her tied quite a while while I cleaned tack, before she got to go back in her paddock with dinner.  I'm left wondering if she never actually learned any of this as she was always so lazy that I didn't really need to teach her to stand or to be patient on my schedule. I was always focused on "go, Bridget, go!" Or maybe it was just a day for pony 'tude. Who knows.
See? This is our norm, happy ears, loose rein walking.

I was pretty discouraged last night, I won't lie. I never expect her to be perfect, but she was exceptionally grumpy and disrespectful right from the start, which sucks as  rider...I do like my horses to be happy and productive members of society! Also, as the rider, I was borderline close to getting super frustrated about how late it was getting and giving up. Patience is something I need too. I woke up this morning determined to try harder and to have a positive frame of mind for my ride today, so that's I hope a step in the right direction.


G unfortunately chose last night to tag along, and I made us super late for the dinner. I nominate him best horsey husband ever, because he never once complained, never once offered unsolicited advice or comments, just recognized something was up with the pony and stayed within hearing distance so he knew I was ok and let me work through it.

Although, on the drive home he did ask "Do you want to talk more about that GRP?" And, "Bridget is definitely not for sale?" :)

LOL, love him. He'd miss Bridget as much as I would. And I know he loves her mare tude. As for the GRP, yep, still talking that one over with my coach and my husband, and have it narrowed down to a favorite. I want to nail down that new work schedule and contract next week before I pursue things further though. Fingers crossed pretty dream pony doesn't sell in the meantime.


Friday, 16 February 2018

Decisions, Decisons

Just when I thought work life was settling down, things are getting interesting again.

I'm getting a big raise, and a promotion! And the chance to pick my own schedule. Do I want to work full time? Part time?
So, I've run numbers on top of numbers and then ran some more numbers. I'll save you the details of all those numbers.


While working part time vs full time obviously has some implications as far as pensions and banking goes, the reality is working full time there comes with the need to rent and board in Work Town which is $$$$. The math actually says I'd have slightly more money left at the end of the month working part time and commuting each day. Here's my two favorite options with the considerations that matter to us horsey people:

Work three long days, have 4 days off every week

 The three work days would just be me working and commuting. It's a nasty commute, so no barn time Mon-Wed. However, every weekend would be a 4 day weekend!

Work regular hours 5 days a week

This means I'd be back boarding at EC's barn near Work Town, and able to ride or take lessons most evenings. A nice, normal schedule, but living and working away from home all week.


Which would you choose?

Bridget is happy to sleep anywhere, she doesn't care what I decide

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Long Weekend 2 - System Overloads


Monday was again, beautiful. Since when do we get a long weekend of sunshine here on the coast? They are forecasting rain and snow for later today, so I think we got pretty lucky.

I spent quite a bit of time yesterday just puttering around the barn, tidying up Bridget's paddock, cleaning tack, drying out saddle pads and gear that's been permanently damp this winter, and generally making everything shipshape before the bad weather hits again.


Once again, I had plans of running through dressage tests, but it was pretty apparent Bridget wasn't feeling it. She genuinely felt tired so as soon as I established soft and forward, I let her off the hook and we just puttered along in walk, enjoying the sunshine.

An acquaintance stopped by the arena and we started chatting, B being so good on the group ride, etc, so obviously end result somehow I signed up for drill team? LOL, I did at least have the presence of mind to state my participation is provisional based on the agreement that no sequins or spandex are required of the riders in this particular team. Also, I reserve the right to be busy elsewhere some practice days - there's no way I can commit to every Saturday morning forever, and most other commitments will take priority. They're probably sorry they asked, lol.

Dapples all year long!

Monday, I also did a bit of a scary thing. There is a gorgeous Welsh Cob/Warmblood cross I've been eying up online forever. I bit the bullet and inquired about her. Turns out she's probably not quite suited to me and my budget, but the seller has a German Riding Pony she thought might fit the bill. And, she looks like she could. My first instinct was "Yes! This is the one!" I forwarded the video and details to EC and her response was "Buy her!", so no help there, lol.

Sunshine-y hack to the ring!

Before you get too excited, no, I have not impulsively bought anything (go me!). But, it seems like somehow I'm already shopping. I want so badly to share videos and all the details of the two or three serious contenders, and get everyone's input but I can't see a way of doing that that isn't rude to the sellers, particularly as my two favorites don't even have online ads I can link to.


Sunday, 11 February 2018

Long Weekend Happenings 1

Saturday, the weather was cool, but sunny and so we went on our planned group ride. Starting out, I immediately remembered why I don't normally participate in such things. 20 other horse and rider pairs, more than a few of which probably haven't been out in months, and a lot of novice riders. I'm happy that there was that much participation, and everyone was lovely. However,  B was pretty worried, with all the other overexcited horses bumping into us and others causing shenanigans just out of sight ahead.

I figured we'd kind of naturally sort out into groups, but that didn't seem to happen. The slow people seemed to be in the lead/want to be first, and the trails are mostly forested and steep, narrow or very rocky, so there was a lot of stopping and waiting for those up front to move and no one ventured beyond a very slow walk.

B says standing tied here all day would require less patience

Even though B is a pretty solid and forgiving citizen, I don't like feeling that I've put any of my horses in a situation they're really worried or unhappy with, so in the future we'll keep it to smaller groups with better trail etiquette knowledge. B was a superstar simply for not kicking any of the strange horses running up her bum. On the plus side, we had plenty of time to practice walk transitions and haunches in/out. It was freezing cold and the 2.5 hour ride definitely made me grumpy, but the social get together after was super fun, and it was nice to visit with everyone. Our farrier was there and offered to save time by trimming Bridget there. Nice!

Green grass growing!

Sunday, our run of unseasonably fantastic weather continued. It's definitely cool out, but it's dry and sunny. People were mowing their lawns! Crazy to think it was all snow and flooding a week ago. I hacked B down to the outdoor in hopes of practicing dressage tests, but it was not to be. Pony was again, way too energetic to settle in to something so boring.  I actually got after her pretty harshly to remind her of her manners. Its been a while, but there are still days where shes quite happy to keep testing the boundaries until we have a bit of a fight. My annoyed thought of this ride:  If she supposedly has so much energy, there is zero reason she can't move off my leg immediately when I ask, rather than trying to run through the bridle first. Ponies. My own fault for letting her off work to gallop around like an idiot on Thursday, I guess (No regrets tho, it was fun!)

Canter pics from a couple of weeks ago...but relevant because we did the same exercises this Sunday

Spiralling in by moving her shoulders over - very effective at getting her back and under herself more when she's trying to race off.

 The good thing is adult Bridget can move on and get over it and we ended with her going really nicely. Baby Bridget of two or three years ago would have kept arguing the entire ride, and likely well into the next ;) We did SO much work in canter on Sunday, and she barely broke a sweat and was only beginning to feel a little tired after about 60min of ring work. She was the only non sweaty horse prancing home on the ride Saturday too, so we might be gaining in the fitness battle.


Exercise 2: bending and counterbending in canter, trying to make her stronger and more supple. I know these are not "wow" pictures, but theyre our reality and I'm proud of how far it's come. A lot rounder, a little more consistent in the balance and I think it's going to be quite nice.


Monday...actually, you know what? This is so long already. I'll post this now and do a Monday ride recap when the weekend's actually over.

Friday, 9 February 2018

THAT Day

Every once in a while, Bridget has a need for speed. Usually in conjunction with a wish to buck me off.

I'm lucky in that Wild Racehorse Bridget only appears a couple of times a year. Once, around the first truly brisk day of fall, and usually again on the first day that hints of spring.


The "spring" one is the one that usually causes havoc. The last two years in April, we've trailered to the interior of the province where spring and sunshine seem to be at the ready a lot more dramatically than our coastal change of seasons. And, our little trip is for a XC clinic. Cue three days of Bridget bucking me off in new and innovative ways. Last year, she learned both the Bucking While Galloping Downhill and Bucking Immediately After A Drop Fence techniques. Also, we revisited the Gallop To A Sliding Stop, Buck, And Spin move from the year before. So fun for my not so sticky self.

Yesterday, the sun was shining outside and I had a nasty headache from stress and staring at my computer screen, so I decided to play hooky for the afternoon and head out for a ride. While the bright sunshine stabbing my eyes maybe wasn't quite the thing for my headache, my stress levels instantly decreased.


A quick scroll through my barn pictures confirmed I hadn't ridden in anything but dark or rain/snow/fog since the beginning of NOVEMBER. No wonder I'm so pale! (No wonder the sunlight was burning my eyes, lol)

B must have felt the same way, and been excited to get out on a relatively warm sunny day because Spring Wild Racehorse made an appearance.

Unsuspecting me was all: "Bridget we need to school more renvers/travers to make your canter better. EC said so."

I call this the twisty head llama trot. You don't see it often because the degree of difficulty is quite special :)

B: "I do not need to work on this. I bolt like a llama. I do not canter anymore"
Me: "No, remember our lesson. EC is backing me on this, you need to build strength to sit. And, the llama thing is super uncool too!"
B: "Fine"
Me: "And now we switch the bend.."
B: "Never mind. This is stupid." *Kicks at my leg, bucks, squeals, attempts to llama bolt*
Other riders in the arena: "Oh hey...we're just going to walk over there. We're leaving soon" (Code for "please please keep a lid on your pony for the next five minutes or until we are a safe distance away")
B: "HA! Those horses are scared of my awesomeness! I am the BEST!"
Me: Oh, please. Did no one tell you you're just an evil pony? Get back to work."
B: "JUST an evil pony?!" *Bucks, squeals again*
Other riders: "OK...we're leaving now! Have fun!"

LOL, and that's the story of how I gave up on dressage schooling turned the ride into a XC gallop practice/ cardio fitness ride. And yes, there were a lot more attempted shenanigans, but I didn't fall off*

EC: "I want you to really work on getting her rounder and more collected" Ummm, I'm guessing this isn't what she had in mind, lol

*Yet. We have a two hour group trail ride scheduled Saturday. Wish me luck.

On the plus side, Bridget the Groundhog has declared spring is very early this year!




Thursday, 8 February 2018

Nice Things

And...from the possibly overthinking deep dressage thoughts in my last post, onwards to impulse shopping and product reviews. We keep things unstable interesting around here :)

I'm not usually too much of a shopper, but when I do break out my wallet, it's because I found something I like, and there's a giant sale. Normally, I have a list of things I want or need and I methodically buy them when they come on sale. With non essential products, that usually means it's more than likely the size/color I wanted has long since sold out, so it gets crossed off the wish list without me spending a dime. Pheww! However, after Christmas, apparently the sales were good, the online inventory odds were in my favour,  and my resolve was at all all time low, creating a perfect purchasing storm. Packages have been arriving at our doorstep on the regular the past couple of weeks.

Since G only pretends to be interested in my new horsey purchases, I think it's appropriate to share them here with more like minded individuals.


SSG Windstopper Gloves. I've been buying cheap $5 cotton gloves for my entire life. In the winter, they're $6 and they even come in thicker cotton ;) They wear out super fast, they're uncomfortable, and in this climate, they are always damp. But I am cheap. and spending $50 on a nice pair of gloves I might misplace is not something I can mentally accept. So, it must have been a very cold, sad, and wet day when I bought these at the local tack store for full price. But you know what? Worth.every.penny. I have tiny hands, but even being winter gloves, these still allow my midget fingers to grip the reins. We've been on some 2+ hour trail rides in less than ideal conditions and my hands stayed warm and dry the whole way. I love these gloves, they make me happy.
Actual color is more of a very dark navy blue.

Weatherbeeta Prolux dressage pad. This came from Derby House in the UK, on sale and was about $55 Canadian by the time the dust settled with postage and customs duties. I needed a new dressage pad. The last one I bought was the BR Event one, and while it's cute, it's pretty light weight and faded/wore pretty fast. A bit disappointing, since it was almost twice the cost of the Shedrow ones that come in similar colors and quality. So, this time around I was thinking something more substantial, like the LeMieux or Back on Track ones my previous barnmates had. If you've been reading for any length of time, you know I'm not overly fashionable. I like nice things, but those nice things don't have to be this season's current trend (or even this decade's, lets be real). So, when I saw this Weatherbeeta one, I was willing to take a chance on it. It looked comparable to trendier brands, and the price point was right. And, I am so not disappointed. It's gorgeous. In my honest opinion, I think it's nicer than the LeMieux 'luxury' ones, and while it doesn't have the magical properties of a Back On Track one, it is similarly sturdy and sized comparatively. I also appreciate that the underside and entire top channel is made of breathable material...I feel like it's a good compromise between substance and easy cooling. And, the only logo is on the girth, and easily hidden, if you worry about things like that :)


Asmar Bromont Jacket. OK, seriously, I think I have a problem with Asmar jackets. This makes number three. It was on sale for $105 Canadian at the Spruce Meadows Shop. Using horse girl logic, I  need three jackets to survive the year. One spring/fall rain jacket (their Rider jacket in blue), one for life outside the barn (City jacket in black), and now this warmer, fleece lined jacket for winter.  This new one is a discontinued style, and the pics don't do it justice. It's a nice really dark navy color with cozy fleece lining (actually very close in color to my new saddle pad. I could be so matchy matchy if I wanted). It seems too nice to wear to the barn though, and may instead end up being my everyday jacket the remainder of the winter.
Like these, but black to match my dressage saddle

Harry Dabbs platinum stirrup leathers. Thanks, eBay seller, for recognizing there isn't a big demand for child sized leathers, and selling me these beauties brand new for $30, saving the world and George Morris from the continued use of my ever so lovely current set up of having them wrapped AND trailing a foot of excess leather behind my saddle :)


Abundant Pony necklace from Swanky Saddle. This is Bridget, in a necklace. It was on my wish list forever, so when they had a 20% sale, I pulled the pin. It cost about $20 delivered to my door, and I wear it every day.
Spoiler alert: I do not look like this in these breeches.
Getting closer....lol

Elation Platinum full seat breeches. These were on a 30% off sale and I needed a properly fitting pair of show breeches. Sadly, these missed the mark - they are super low rise, also they seem to fit a size small. I hadn't ordered this brand for a while, and comparing the new pair to my 5 year old pair marketed under the identical name, they're nothing alike. The new pair has material that is way thinner and they look more cheaply made, also what is up with the really low rise, when if anything they used to be a bit on the high side? I'm like 5'2" tall, so if they're way too ultra low rise on me...I hate to think how they'd fit someone of average proportions. Can't win them all, I guess.

And...best for last, a custom browband from Bex's Browbands. This is a post of its own...






Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Putting In The Hours Part 1

Just some Wednesday afternoon musings...apologies as my thoughts on this are rambling, but I'm putting it out there anyway.

I was looking through my dressage tests from 2017 last night, in hopes of gleaning some additional homework to practice before our spring shows. I've also been pondering about what qualities I'm looking for in a new horse.

On one test, there was a fair score, and 'Talented pair!" written in the comment box. Which, truly, is a very kindly meant comment and never one I'd complain about. But, it didn't ring true, and felt...weird that someone would say that. We got a good score because we were talented? No, actually, I think we had a good day because we worked our butts off for months in advance.

Super fancy dressage pony is adorable - look, she can lift one foot at a time while looking like she might fall over, lol. Sorry, Bridget, I can't help making fun of you and my terrible photos :)

Recently, when riding with some friends at home, someone made a comment about Bridget looking naturally balanced and that I was lucky to have a pony with talent.  I won't argue Bridget isn't awesome, but seriously...readers know it's been years at this point of trying to teach her to move forward in a balanced way. And we're still far from major success there. Again, I was torn between being happy someone thought B looked good, and sad that they thought it was just a magical thing that happened due to some random good luck.

I know that neither Bridget nor myself are especially talented at all. In fact, I'd objectively say we're less talented than everyone else at our previous barn. With every new concept introduced, we are the ones who struggle the most. We're the slow learners, the ones whose bodies don't quite want to bend that way, or aren't strong enough to even try to. So, while it seems so strange to contemplate some at our new barn might look at Bridget or I, and think "talent", I do get it, a bit, because I used to look at the horses and riders at EC's barn, and my first thought was "Yep, way more talent than B or I. Lucky them." I guess it's all relative.

We both do show a strong aptitude for being lazy and eating too much.

My main point here being that thinking like that so, so wrong. Those girls are better than me mostly because they're braver, more dedicated, and way harder working. I think by mentally ascribing even a little of anyone's small successes to 'talent' you'll never possess, you're cheating yourself. Especially at the lower levels most of us ride at. Maybe they are more talented than you, who knows? But more likely, they just work harder than you. In the real world, at the average barn, 'talent' or 'luck' is too often a term often used more as a synonym and recognition of hard work than a recognition of natural ability or the universe favoring you. I guess 'dedicated pair!' or 'wow, you're a hard worker!' doesn't have the same ring to it, but certainly it's closer to the truth.

</rambling>







Sunday, 4 February 2018

Clinic Day

Organizing clinic days is painful, but always worth it in the end. Small town politics had me tearing my hair out earlier in the week - I booked the indoor arena for the afternoon and there was drama because that's when other people (who don't actually ever pay to officially book it) ALWAYS ride and I should have known and planned around that. Silly me, just looking at the booking schedule;) 

Lesson spoiler alert: this adorable pony needs to be ROUNDER.

Anyway, too bad so sad for them, I booked it so we used it. EC rolled in right on time, we started chatting, and I realized just how much I've missed her on a social level, too. After 3 years of seeing her at the barn almost daily, it's a bit weird to go to my current barn and usually be the only one there.

I audited a few lessons that were more along the lines of starting green horses or for beginner riders, which was actually super useful. It's always goo

d to get a recap of the basics. Here's a visual I liked:

- Re: turning the shoulders, not the head: Imagine you're the gunner in a tank. The horses head and neck are the gun out in front of you. So, to point the gun and travel straight at what you're aiming for, you have to pivot the rest of the tank (ie shoulders, with hindquarters following).


My own lesson went well, I think. We started in trot with travers to renvers alternating on the quarter line. I was like "?!? I have issues knowing left from right. Is this a good idea?" So in my mind, it was "banana shape, then the other banana shape, repeat" :)
Thank you, dressagedifferent.com


We then moved on to a circle for a bit, same exercise, then back out to the quarter line where I was asked to simply expand and collect the trot. B's been a star about that lately, and with the added connection and hind leg activity the renvers/travers exercise gave us, it felt really, really good, maybe best ever.

We moved up to walk/canter and the transitions right have got sloppy again - she's escaping out the side door a bit, and I've been letting it happen in exchange for the canter happening immediately.

Then, lots of canter, trot a stride, canter transitions on the circle. We practice this almost every time I ride, so this actually went super well and immediately improved the "sit" in the canter.

The good feedback:

- Trust myself, I'm doing well on my own. I have a very good feel (sidenote, this is a compliment I will always be the most happy to hear and strive to improve) I know what needs work and how to improve it. 

-B is sharp off my aids now, wants to work, and I'm not nagging. Huge win.

This much forward, all day long.

-B's weight is finally appropriate and she's really fit, looks "fantastic". ( I can't take too much credit for the fitness part, I think the majority of it was simply losing the excess weight rather than my weeknight rides)

-We look to be ready for any of the First level tests at the March show. It's a schooling show, so I'm encouraged to ride slightly above my comfort zone in the interests of good feedback for future goal setting. So, try 1-3, see what feedback is. Maybe I want to start there at the first "real show", maybe it's too much and I start back at 1-1 or 2 or even T-3. My show nerves being a consideration here too.

The not so good feedback:

-I'm letting the energy I've created escape out the front door too often.

-Need to fix that crooked canter depart ASAP before it becomes a thing.

-Hind leg more active...I've got it coming way more forward but it needs to be quicker and some suspension added back in. Especially in canter. Continue with Trot/Canter transitions as the best answer.

-Pony needs to be rounder than I think she does. Like PLEASE, T, get a handle on this already. For now, assume everything we do needs to be a bit quicker and rounder.

-I get the feeling that after a time out and looking at Bridget with fresh eyes, she's not averse to me looking for something to move up on, and gently opened that door, so...

Don't worry, B stays here!

Future planning:

-Horse I quite like at ECs barn is for sale. Would be an affordable, easy move up if I'm serious about eventing @ novice or above. Cue discussion of eventing vs dressage, and Cardi babies. And....a potential visit to a wb breeder "just to look" ;)

(Sidenote: a two or three year old would feel "right" to me. I'm not wanting to move off Bridget yet, so a year or two of baby training while keeping B in work would be a nice transition. Then B can trail ride and have adorable babies)

-Sell Bridget? A: No, never. 

-March: Going a week before the show to EC's, fit in some lessons (Jumping, so I don't forget how ;) Possibility to have EC's coach, Wendy, coach me at the dressage show for extra learning opportunities.

Return of the flying potato pony?