Saturday, March 29, 2014

Horsey Questionnaire

 I figured I'd give my readers some more in depth information about me, a way to get to know me, and a way for me to waste a little chunk of time. So, in reality, it's a win/win situation for us both.

1.  Favorite thing about riding?  The feeling of connection with something that is much more powerful than you, and the way they teach you life-lessons without you even realizing. I love when you work with a horse and have that moment where you both click, and after that it's a real and true partnership.

2.  Green horse or trained horse?  
 In my mind, a green horse is one that has had 30 days of professional training (or even less!) so a trained horse would be my preference. I don't mind that a horse has attitude or "bad days" but they should KNOW what walk/jog/lope and walk/trot/canter means and know all some novice movements quite well.

Rest in Peace, Ponyboy <3

3.  Have you ever wanted to quit riding? 
Kind of... When Cheyenne died I had a really difficult time coming back from it. I felt like the reason these horses died was my fault (even though I had nothing to do with it) and I spent a lot of time angry and guilt-ridden.

4.  Do you prefer to ride inside or outside? 

It doesn't matter to me - I've ridden both and I prefer outdoors if it is nice out and inside if it isn't.

5.  On average, how many time do you ride a week? 
Right now I am barely riding (sad face!) but in the late Spring once the snow finally melts I average about 3-4 times a week.
Our little schooling show disaster.
6.  Have you ever fallen off at a show?  How? 
Embarrassingly enough, yes. I was riding my coach's Anglo-Arab and had a bad case of show-nerves and whilst doing a small 8" Cross-Rail course, my saddle begun slipping and I just fell off when I became unbalanced.

7.  Do you have a private or group lesson? 
I don't really take lessons anymore, but when I did they were both private and semi-privates (one other person). However, when I start taking more lessons (hopefully this year!) they will probably be group lessons.

8.  In your opinion, does it make you less of a rider if you don't own a horse?  
Heck no! It takes a lot of money, time and effort to actually own a horse. Leasing is a great option, plus you get to ride some pretty cool horses!

9.  Do you plan on having horses in your life for the rest of your life? 
A thousand times YES!

10.  If you could ride any famous horse (dead or alive) who would it be?
I'd be cool to ride Peppy San - he was a badass little horse.

11.  Does winning ribbons matter to you?
It does and it doesn't. There is always going to be someone better than you and it doesn't really matter much to me. So long as my horse and myself are performing to our best ability. Doesn't hurt to have our efforts rewarded, either.

12.  Worst riding experience? 
Eh, I prefer not to dwell on them, but there was one horse in particular that I just didn't mesh with and it really threw my confidence down. But, you take those as learning lessons and move on, which I did.

13.  Describe a time when you wanted another equestrian to fail at something.
I don't think being petty gets anyone anywhere... Yes there are times when we dislike someone but I wouldn't want them to say mean/rude things about me and my horse. I am kind of passed the whole being jealous or bitchy stage and I think everyone deserves help and good experiences.

14.  Describe the proudest or happiest moment you can think of in your riding career

With each and every horse I have ridden I have had proud and accomplishing moments, ones that I will treasure forever. For Suzie and I, riding bareback and bridleless was a large accomplishment, but moreso was being able to trail ride her without her throwing a hissy fit and rearing like she did to me previously.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Boarding; Why Can't She Live In My Backyard?!

 There hasn't been much in the way of riding yet - waiting for the pony to get her feet done on Saturday, hopefully in the process of buying a saddle (eeek!!) and also trying to figure out about the boarding situation. I met with the lady about boarding Suzie, but the amount she would like for board is just a wee bit too steep for what I am going to be receiving. It's not necessarily a bad deal, and I can appreciate that she is interested in my horse's likes/dislikes as well as any issues she needs to keep an eye on (I am definitely comfortable with her and would trust her with my horse, that is for sure!) but for the price she would like, I could be boarding her at a full-care barn with an indoor riding arena as well as a cross-country course, outdoor dressage arena and two outdoor jumping arenas and extensive trails... So, I think I may tough it out for where I am right now until Suzie moves back to her Summer board spot.

I will, obviously, continue to weigh the pros and cons and the lady (Place C) isn't even certain she can have a third horse on her property, as she needs to contact her landlord first and get the "go ahead" from him, which I was unaware of when we made plans to meet so I could scope out the property. Initially, I wanted to find a more "permanent" boarding solution for Suzie instead of bouncing her around from place A, to place B and then back to place A again.

Irregardless, everything happens for a reason and in the end, I want the best for Suzie and I have to be realistic about moving...

I will Preface all of this confusion by explaining Place A, B and C to you guys!

Suzie in the crossties with the other two ponies in the back.

The lower field showing the hay sea-can, the three horse barn and part of the riding arena.

Place A: My old coach's place! She has a three-stall barn and about 20 acres of pasture the horses have access to. She has two other horses and a riding arena separating two of the pastures. It is more "in town" than most horsey-places but it is completely beautiful and is the biggest horse place in our area. My coach moves her horses every Winter to winter out at another barn about 1.5 hrs away.

Suzie in December 2013.

 Place B: Even more "in town" than my coach's place, it is more of a hobby farm-type deal. There is less acreage and it is a privately owned facility. There are two shelters and the paddocks can be opened up to be larger, so it is decent. Suz is housed with two green-broke fillies here and she is top mare.

Place C: Located more in the "horsey center" of my town, it is 15min drive away and is where a majority of horse people live. It is commonly referred to as a rural subdivision. The place is spacious - there is a three horse stall barn. The lady has two Arabians and Suzie would have her own paddock and stall. There is a large riding arena about 15min walk away. I have no actual photos of the facility, though.

This photo is irrelevant to what is posted below, but she is cute!

Pros of Moving to Place C:
  • A more updated facility - Suzie will have her own stall and attached paddock she can wander around in. The ground is less muddy than where she is now and there is more room as well. This does not apply to Place A, as Place A is the most updated of the three.
  • Closer to a large riding arena - There is no arena at Place B, and Place A has a much smaller riding arena.
  • More people to ride with and more trails!! Right now I ride alone because no one else really rides "in town" like I do. And where Suzie is now, the land is being developed so trail riding during the day is a write off since the machinery and trucks are always working and it just isn't safe. Also, I can "borrow" horses for my SO and friends so they can ride with me.
  • Quality of Care -The woman is home 24/7. At Place A though, my coach recognizes things and contacts me ASAP.
  • Permanent Housing - It will be a more "permanent" home for Suzie; less "bouncing around".

Cons of Moving to Place C:
  • The Cost - $400 a month is quite a bit, especially in this area. I could be getting full-care board and access to an indoor arena, 3 outdoor arenas, cross country course and box stalls with attached paddocks or 20 acre pastures for her to roam. Additionally, the SO and I are trying to save up to purchase land this Summer, so it is difficult to justify moving Suzie to a $400/month board when at Place A it is $100 (I just pay for hay and look after her place/animals when she is away).
  •   Travel - Place B, where she is now, it's about a 15 min walk away. Place A is a 25min walk/5min car ride away. Where most of the horsey people live/ Place C, it is about a 15min drive (which is peanuts compared to how far some people drive to see their horses!)

If Suzie stays in Place B, I have the OK to move her back to her Summer board/Place A at the end of May, so it isn't too much longer to "wait."  And Place B is decent, but the paddocks are a bit small and there is nowhere to ride other than down the road - all the trails are quite snowy still and the acreage backs up to where they are doing the land-developing so it's difficult to trail ride with heavy machinery chugging down the roads.

It is just hard to justify moving her to Place C when, if I wait until the end of May, she will be moved back to Place A, which is an AMAZING facility where I have a private riding arena, she has 10 acres to roam with two other horses, the best hay a horse could eat and although I have no one to ride with, I have full useage of the horse trailer whenever I want. And, it doesn't hurt that the board is completely MORE than affordable...

Gah, decisions decisions!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

One Year Anniversary!

Hard to believe that only a year has already gone by; it actually feels like longer! It has been a year of learning life lessons, love and patience. I am blown away every day with the fact that I own a horse and I realize how fortunate I am to have a mare to call my own, especially a mare as amazing as Suzie.

A quick little recap of our year together....

We started out on a pretty level playing field. Still trying to get to know eachother, and still not necessarily comfortable with one another. We were a bit awkward and as we fought against one another, we started to rebel. Suzie started balking, threatening to rear (and eventually did end up rearing on me) as well as backing up uncontrollably, both in the ring and when we attempted to go trail riding. Our first trail ride together was a mess. She would shoot off in a trot and every time I had her halted she would back up and wouldn't stop. I spent many days just getting off, leading her home and crying. We hated eachother. Several times I wanted to give up. Several times I wanted nothing to do with her. After all, she was scaring me.

But, persistence was still aflame and as Suzie developed a vast array of soundness problems and required more careful consideration, we started bonding. I probably spent a good 2-3 months with little to no riding due to her arthritic and problematic shoulders and knees. We spent time just hand-grazing, handwalking and bareback riding at the walk. During this time I had several equine specialists out to diagnose and work on Suzie. We worked out a plan that worked for her, including supplements for her bothersome arthritis.

She started coming up to me in the field instead of pretending not to hear me, or running away. We worked on trail-riding several times throughout the week, slowly building up my own confidence and also ensuring she didn't get away with being a Crankasaurus Rex. Together we started riding bridleless more and more and instead of concentrating on being perfect 100% of the time, we settled for what Suzie was capable of. She was bull-headed, yes, but so was I.

Her coat blossomed and although I constantly worried about her soundness and health, she always had sparkling eyes and a curiosity of whatever was in your hand (she still does, infact). I can remember the first time I jogged her bareback and bridleless, it was an exhilarating feeling and I was smiling like a loon. It made me feel so connected to her and in that moment, like so many moments before, I fell in love with her all over again. 

 And eventually, as the Summer came to a close we were trail riding and Suzie was babysitting my niece and friends who were horse "newbies". She became my go to horse for nearly everything and we happily went down the road in just a halter and lead, whereas before she would've turned into a fire-breathing dragon and I would've become a sniveling, crying little girl. I can honestly say that I am so glad to have Suzie in my life. She is a true blessing and her little stubborn streak still keeps me on my toes enough to make me work for what I want. She is an amazing partner and teacher and I wouldn't trade her for anything in the world. It is hard to believe that we have only had a year of memories - I am most certainly looking forward in making a million more.

This year, now that we are on the same page, I have much larger, more interesting plans than I did last year. This year, we are going to have fun and we are going to make the most of every day we have together.

So there you have it. Our year was a bit boring in the sense of shows and clinics, but it was full of a different kind of adventure and learning that I will forever cherish and always remember.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Showmanship and Shedding!

Is she not the cutest?!
I went out and played with Suzie on Wednesday after work since the sun was shining and the birds were chirping away! I pulled her out and to my surprise, the furry beast is finally shedding! Praise whatever powers there may be! I'm debating clipping her vs letting her shed out normally, as I'd prefer to bathe her prior to clipping but I have no real access to do so, as well as the fact that it is still quite nippy outside... I decided to play around with some Showmanship, as there is a relatively larger show at the end of August I am looking at going to for some experience and while I may be too nervous to complete the riding portion, I'd like to do in hand stuff.

Looking pretty good! Can't wait to ride and actually get her topline all figured out!

Truth be told, I am not very savvy in the "Showmanship" aspect of training but I am eager to learn, so I figure I'd grab Suz's show halter I bought last summer and putz away and see what we could come up with after a few months of "training". I did take a video and oh my, it is awful! LOL. We have a lot to work on, but it is all things both Suz and I are capable of, which is fantastic.

The most embarrassing "boo boo" we I made was the chain positioning... I had no clue how it was supposed to be for showmanship and I guessed totally wrong! My poor mare. She did well though and I see that if we make some subtle changes we can really get some patterns down-pat and perfected.

Immediately, in the video I notice the poor quality "backs" and surprisingly, the turns look pretty good so far. I am in the wrong position though, I should be walking more ahead of her and be near her head when I am turning her around, but for now (for the training part) this will do just fine. It'll all come together, I'm thinking that once she gets moved to a more permanent facility I'll have an arena to be working in with some poles, etc (it's in the works!!)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Hand Walking, Mud Pits and Weather that Won't Change it's Mind.

Truthfully, the last week has been an influx of slush and rain - ranging from light pitter patter droplets to massive tsunami outpours from the sky. It has been a dreaded week, and although Suzanne seems to be making the best of it (she is still rather uppity due to the increase in feed/supplements) she can't help but look miserable. I mean, she hasn't even started shedding yet. -Insert Sad Face Here-

On Sunday, the SO and I loaded up the dogs for a walk and ended up taking Suz with us. We trekked through some of the snow on the back "quad" trails and poor Suzie sunk up to her knees, but trucked along with her ears perked and head swinging back and forth in interest. We walked through the little forest area where a plot of acreage sits - which the SO and I are hoping to purchase come Summer-time - and walked through what we call "Our Land". Suzie was full of herself walking through the snow - flicking her hooves up and snorting and just being a general PITA. Once we came down the small embankment and into the woods, she perked up in the "Oh, I HAVE to watch where I'm going" sense considering there were fallen trees, tree roots and mounds of snow all littered throughout our trail.

We came to the front of the property line, where it meets the road and since the company had been irrigating the properties, there is a "dip" downwards, kind of like a "V" but less steeper. Anyways, there was a large fallen tree in our path and since we couldn't really find an alternate path due to the large amount of rock/gravel along the way, I decided to have Suz go over it.

I walked over it first and Suzie hit the end of the leadrope and looked at me like, "Nope". I gave her a tug and she started her way over. Both front legs were over and she went to lift her hind leg and the look on her face was priceless as she tried to get it over... She struggled a bit and tried to pull back, but made it over without incident.

We continued our walk which included scaling over a large gravel pit, where Suzie stopped to "model" at the very top and the SO snapped a photo. Annnnnd then we ended up veering off course, exploring and walking along a clay bank. Half-way through, Suzie started sinking... I warned the SO, but we were so close we decided to just power through it. Well. I kept watching and watching with each adn every step, but Suzie would start sinking more and more the longer she took - and she was being very careful! So, when Mare sunk to her hocks and I called it quits. As I did, Suzie must've known, because she started to turn around back the way we came before I was ready and subsequently splattered all kinds of clay and mud up my side. As we walked, er, jogged, back to the safety of firm ground, SO just laughed at the hilarious amount of clay I had stuck to my boots and pants from Suzie flinging it at me on the way out.

She has a very good sense of humour sometimes.

After that ordeal, I apologized to her and we walked home. I got most of the clay off and the next day, she was just fine. Legs were all tight, cold and perfect!

And finally, since it isn't raining today, I am hoping to give her a little pampering after work <3 I know she REALLY needs it. Her tail has grown so much and would look lovely all brushed out <3

Friday, March 14, 2014

Cancelled Clinics and Rainy Day Woes

Well, much to my disappointment, the clinic was cancelled due to lack of committed entrants. It's kind of sad, really. I was looking forward to it and I had been giving Suz some extra grain to perk her up and boy, she is giddy for a ride! LOL. So, depending on the weather tomorrow, I may trailer her out anyways to the arena and ride. I'm not 100% certain on what I want to do yet, since tomorrow is my only day off in the week and a co-worker is sick, so I may have to come into work anyways...

Anyways, I still have been going out after work and giving Suz her MSM joint supplements, Equinoxx and her Dr. Reeds minerals with some senior feed mixed in. She is completely hilarious, because, she would just eat the pellet feed and leave the powdered MSM at the bottom of the bucket. I tried mixing it in with my hands, putting some water in and swishing it around... Nothing really worked with her. I'd feed her and there would be concrete evidence of white powder lining the bottom of the bucket... I wanted to pull my hair out, but instead, I got crafty!

I started by soaking her pellets, the minerals and senior feed, and afterwards I mixed in the powder MSM and the Equinoxx. She LOVED that. She'd snarf it all up and look around for more, which was my ultimate goal!

And lastnight, she came putzing up to the fence, making mare-faces at her younger pasture mate, which I found HILARIOUS considering she usually just goes around Feature and makes her way to the fence... But no, she instead, walked THROUGH Feature and gave her an old woman snotty face. I giggled to myself - she must've been feeling good!

It's STILL been so icky out, so I haven't been riding and I mean, what kind of riding can I do on icy walk-ways and trails anyways? The snow has become slush and evidently becomes ice overnight with the freezing... and then there is the rain. It's been on and off the last few days and with only just a mere hour or so of daylight after work, I can't seem to manage a ride in for the life of me. Lets just say I cannot wait for Spring! REAL Spring!!

And in other news, I'm looking for a permanent boarding solution for my mare... and perhaps a second (shhh!) but for now, she is okay where she is at and I'm keeping my eyes and ears open for the perfect solution.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Why I Haven't Been Riding, Or... Christmas #2.

The past week and a half have been bitterly cold. And I don't mean, "Oh jeez, it's kinda cold, I should put some mitts on!" I mean, "HOLY BATMAN I THINK MY FACE JUST FELL OFF!" kind of cold. It was below zero with winds howling at -20C. Brrr! But the weather man told us not to worry, a warm front was coming! He specifically said to expect about 5cm of snow on Friday during the morning.
The weather man is a filthy, rotten liar. All throughout the day at work it snowed. And snowed... and snowed some more. After the ten hour shift, this is what my poor car looked like in the parking lot. I nearly cried. Actually, I had to first FIND my car. We [SO and I] ended up having to use the key fob to figure out which buried vehicle was mine.

Look how buried my tires are?! Oh quelle hourrer!
This doesn't look like 5cm of snow, now does it?

On the drive home from work, I started to worry about... our driveway. It took us almost an HOUR to shovel the snow from our two-car driveway and the truck was parked at home all day! So, in reality, we shoveled around the truck and the car's spot... Yikes. And now, well now it is pouring rain. The snow has turned into slush and the weather is dreary, cold and uninviting.

Suzie has been acceptably smart, however. She stays in her run in for most of the day and only toodles out to check things and sometimes even meets me at the fence when I am giving her her grains after work. She is still on her MSM/arthritis supplement [she will have been on it for two weeks come Friday] since our clinic is this Saturday (eek!) and I want her to be feeling a bit looser. I haven't been able to take her out for walks like I had planned since the roads are so icey and the weather has been the pits. But, her pasture has been opened up so she has the option to roam a bit more than before which is good. She certainly was taking advantage of that during our cold snap.

An obligatory photo of Ms Suzanne (taken a few weeks back) in
her new halter!

I am already planning out for our clinic what I need to do to ensure her comfort which includes taking it easy during the lesson. I don't plan on going all out, attempting sliding stops and spins like the pros, but it'll be good for Suz to get out and jog and lope around a few times and getting some good stretching in. I have also decided that since it'll be our first clinic of the year, I am going to be heading out there early to let her stretch out her legs and walk around prior to the lesson. We'll see what happens though, the roads could very well be closed with all of this disgusting weather we are getting. Fingers crossed it is a successful clinic and we learn a lot!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Waiting for Spring...

September 2012, at Enso Park. My dog, Ty, was having
a great time.
I desperately cannot wait for the snow to melt. It's below minus 10 again - colder yet, with the wind chill factor - and it's almost unbearable to go outside for any length of time. I've already been dreading the rest of this week - it's nose back to the grindstone here at work and I feel like I spent most (if not all!) of my turn around indoors! I know that isn't the truth; I did manage to get Suz out to ride and did quite a few hikes with the four-legged mutts, but truth be told, I wasn't outside nearly as much as I wanted to be...

I am a huge, avid outdoors person. The smell of cedar trees and the cool North wind are warm welcomed friends, as is the crunch of Fall leaves and pinecones beneath my feet. I relish in the outdoors and truth be told, I thrive. I found that whilst on my turn around, I was antsy by the time it was 10:00am... I HATED being inside! So long as the sun is shining, no matter the temperature, I want to be outside! It doesn't matter if I am on the back of a horse, on a bike, on an ATV or just walking... the outdoors is a beautiful place to be. And truthfully, whenever I am in the outdoors, I always have my camera close at hand.

So please, enjoy my colorful display of the outdoors. All photos taken by yours truly in a variety of seasons and within the last two years. Ah, bliss.

February 2013, hiking up Humphrey Falls. It was quite the task to get to
the falls, as we had to cross knee deep water without getting wet...

January 2012... My boyfriend took me up Claque Mountain on his quad when it
had tracks on... Oh my it was gorgeous!

August 2012, we went on a 10hr quad ride up Telkwa Pass
with a bunch of other crazy quad-riders! The view was SO worth it...

Another from August 2012, of the Telkwa Pass.
Sometime in 2013, I think November. Just some of the trails we have around home.

Hiking around our hometown with the dogs on some old bike trails
in September 2013.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

An Outing...

Considering it was my turn around from work (6 weeks in, 1 week out) I had intended for some undersaddle time! I had earned it, after all! Unfortunately for me, Mother Nature decided to dump another foot or so of snow down and the temperatures over the last week plummeted to below zero. There sections of ice and the snow that was once light and fluffy, were now hard, crunchy and a thick layer of ice licked across its surface. Hacking out in that mess was only asking for trouble – my main concern was slipping on the ice. It just wasn’t worth the risk. So, I did the next best thing. I made a plan to trailer out to the next town to ride in the local fairgrounds’ indoor arena.
My friend's three horses and my mare on the far right. I never realized how short
she actually was until I saw this comparison photo!

My Dad earned status of “Number One Daddy” for the day by offering to trailer me and Miss Mare out. I had pre-arranged to meet a fellow equestrian who lived in Terrace to meet me there so I at least had someone to ride with – I didn’t want to ride by myself! Hitching up and loading up was uneventful. Suzie hopped up into the trailer without much hesitation and pawed at the floorboards like she normally did until the truck went into drive.

The haul was uneventful, the roads were clear and the sun shone bright – hooray. The only issue was that, as we were half way to Terrace, the one head window opened up. We slammed it shut and continued on our way. About 10 minutes later, it opened up again! It wasn’t the door where Suzie’s head was, so I wasn’t too concerned, so we tried to shut it and make it to the fairgrounds as best as we could.

Suz unloaded quietly and looked around intently, and stood rock solid by Danielle’s three other horses, whom she had never met before. I tacked up and hopped on and Suz acted just like she had the last day I rode her. The only “sticky” points were that she tried to trot off a few times and didn’t much enjoy going towards the “scary” end where the wind was causing the metal roll up door to bang and rattle like it would come off of it’s hinges. At one point, Danielle’s black mare skittered away from the door as a loud bang rang out and the door fluttered on it’s hinges and Suzie spooked, but recovered quickly and resumed walking quietly. Suz just watched intently as Danielle’s mare danced around and acted like a young filly again – it was quite the sight to be seen! But, after a few rounds, she was fine with the “scary” end and was completely responsive to my seat, legs and hands. I was quite pleased.

Good mare! And yep, we were cross-dressing in an English
bridle and Western saddle!

We schooled mostly the walk and jog, and we spent a lot of time at the walk allowing Red Mare to stretch and move her creaky old limbs. Her jog felt SO good – nice tempo and she was really stretching into the bridle. We did have our few “ugly” moments, but she came back to me much quicker than she did a year ago (gosh! Where has the time gone?!). She had a difficult time bending, but that is to be expected with being out of work since October! But she tried her damndest in everything I asked. I didn’t intend to do a lot of hard work with her, as she is out of shape and has been off of her joint supplements since I haven’t been riding. I am, however, kicking myself for not putting her back on her MSM/Equinoxx medication though, since about half way through our light schooling session she started to feel “off”. Not necessarily lame. Just stiff – her left-fore leg wasn’t reaching as far as it was previously and she was taking a bit of a shorter, choppier stride. My riding buddy said she didn’t really notice it too much, as it looked like Suzie was more stiff than anything. 

I decided to finish the schooling session there, after loping counter clockwise. I walked her around and as Danielle’s got onto her third horse to ride, I popped on Suzie bareback and sans a bridle. We wandered around like that for a few laps and then I hopped off and let her roll around in the arena before my ride came and we packed up to leave.  

Sitting in the middle of the arena, bridleless, while my friend canters her Trakhener around us.