Monday, March 30, 2015

It Was Bound to Happen

Much like Andrea at The Reeling, I was bound to have a bad training session with Spud at some point. Fortunately, it wasn't dangerous and Spud came back to work just fine... but there was a rather large melt-down during our ground driving exercise yesterday evening.

It all started when I arrived to the barn. I had intended to take Suzie out again, but when a I caught a glimpse of Spud in the back field (where he isn't supposed to be), I immediately felt the urge to drive him. He had slipped through the spot between the fence and the gate and had been cantering around the back field - bugger. By the time I had rounded the corner with a halter in hand, he was back in the regular paddock, looking as innocent as can be. I immediately went to go catch him and the little shit continuously refused to be caught. If there is anything that frustrates me, it is a horse that refuses to be caught.

Iz being a little shit.
I finally caught him and brought him in after about 5-10 minutes. I started brushing him down and when on his right side I remember trying to ask him to step over. He pushed IN to me and refused, tucking his butt up and stepping into me. Now, I don't put up with that shit. Ever. So, I gave him a boot in the lower belly with my foot. He skipped over and yanked at the leadrope, obviously startled and tugged back several times on the lead. I waited until he stopped moving and threw him out on the line for an impromptu lunge. You DON'T move your ass in to me. Even if you are a little horse. By this time he was already worked up and knowing he is much more sensitive than Suzie, I started to work on asking him to move over by poking him with my finger on his haunches. He tensed, tensed, tensed... but would NOT move! I literally was POKING him and he'd just flinch and stand there. So, I brought the leadrope towards me, yielding him away from the pressure and patted him for his efforts. After about 5 minutes I was able to push him over with one hand on his haunches and one on his belly. So this is something to work on.

We headed out for a drive shortly after and I chose to ground-drive again, which may have been a better idea considering I had hurt the little gaffer's feelings by giving him a kick. It started out pretty good though - I was asking for some contact, getting him to bend thru his circles and at the trot he was starting to balance a bit more and wasn't as "wiggly" as before. We had some abrupt stops but he was quiet, willing and even had some great trot-walk transitions. Things seemed to be going swimmingly until about halfway through our drive.

Since we were ground-driving on the road, cars were passing us at all different speeds and times. I had the dogs with me and at one particular moment I had Spud halted and Ty was refusing to heel beside me. I yelled at him to heel and Spud grew agitated and tried to shoot forwards. I steadied him and he tried to whip around - like he wanted to face me or head home. I corrected it and struggled to get Spud quiet as well as get the damn dog to listen. It was like the angrier I got at the damn dog, the more wound up Spud got. I did try to gather myself a bit and started to concentrate on driving; we were working on extending the trot slightly and collecting it back up - a process that Spud still doesn't really understand. At one point, we were coming up towards a black tarp that was laying on the side of the road and Spud spooked hard at it. I wasn't prepared for it [because he's never spooked under harness] and all of a sudden he was facing me, staggering backwards and yanking at the lines in my hands. I managed to get him right way around but he was frozen again, his hind end tense and his mind obviously riled right up. When I had tried to get him to yield his head towards his shoulder he yanked at the lines and threw his head up, expressing frustration.

I asked him for forwards and he refused, tucking his butt up. I asked again and he exploded forwards in a trot. I put him on a circle intent to get him to trot past the tarp, but he was already wound up and would scoot away from it. I asked him to halt and he threw his head down and bulldozed into a halt, yanking my arms forwards. And that was when he started to get rowdy. Both front legs left the ground, approximately half an inch as he threatened to rear. I was both caught off guard and by surprise and what I did next was WRONG. I tightened the lines and asked him to whoa again. He pranced, threatened to rear again and sat back on his haunches. Several times he threatened me and I didn't get it into my stupid brain to LET HIM GO FORWARDS. I have dealt with this lightness up front shit with Suzie, and for some reason I just couldn't brain and kept refusing him to go forwards.

Thankfully I got my shit together and had him go forwards but he was like an exploding steam engine at this point. He did walk over the tarp, with a dainty flick of his hind leg as it touched a part of the material. After that he was fired up and attempted to break in to trot a handful of times. I blocked him each time and instead concentrated on turning, serpentines, zig-zags, etc. Anything to get his mind back. I then remembered I was holding the lines tight and immediately relaxed them. Spud tried to scoot forwards with the slight slack in the lines and I let him but then gently brought him back. I rinsed and repeated that exercise a few times - relax the hands, he scoots forwards, let him go for a few steps and bring him back quietly. It seemed to work and we had some BANG ON trotting happening afterwards. I migrated from letting him go faster to half-halting and rechecking him. He seemed more responsive to that. Almost like I was telling him, "Alright alright, you can go forwards but use your forwards energy at this pace." instead of "NO you can't trot faster. WALK NOW."

Towards the walk home, after his little melt-down, he spooked at a random branch on the ground but was easier to deal with. And only another time afterwards he got light up front but I handled it properly this time. He did whinny a few times once he could hear Suzie and I put him to work on a circle instead of hollering, "Git" or "Hey!" to get him to quit. It seemed like a well received tactic. It is hard because I can't get mad at him - he completely loses his shit if I get truly mad. I can discipline him, but I cannot put my human emotions into the equation. I am glad we ended on a good note, which included walking quietly on quite a loose line (I realize you aren't supposed to have a loose line while driving and should have contact with your driving horse at all times, but the "mental break" seemed to do him some good). All the same, it was frustrating to have had a battle with him and I'm curious if this threatening to rear thing is going to be a new evasion tactic. I've also begun to notice he is less and less willing to approach me in the field as well as be caught, so it's time to break out the treats and show the mini pony some love. Oh, and take the emotions out of it. Something for me to work on.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Cure for a Bad Work Day

We also rode home on a loose rein.
Yesterday, the work day much left to be desired and as I badged out the turn-style, I knew immediately that some therapeutic horsey time was in order. I wasn't sure if I'd be riding or driving, as I've been tip-toeing around riding Suzie mostly for the fact that she does not have shoes on and can be ouchy over rocks/ gravel. However, I've also made it my new routine to apply venice turpentine to her soles every evening in an attempt to strengthen her hooves and create a barrier. I kind of wanted to test my theory, so I chose to saddle her up.

 Again, I kept a close eye on her temperment once I brought her away from Spud - not because I am scared of her acting out, but because I want to keep tabs on her herd-boundness and continue to make progress. She was fine and snarfed her beet pulp while I applied the turpentine and saddled up. It made me a bit sad to have to wrap my new leathers, but until I can get my hands on a leather punch it is the only option. The leather hasn't suffered, which is excellent to see, but you can also see just how different the color of the leathers are vs the saddle. Sad face.

We took a short hack out on the roadways and I noticed Suzie was less ouchy on the gravel, which was an immediate plus. But I still cannot wait to get shoes on her, to give her front hooves that added support. I found out the Farrier is actually away right now and returning Monday, so I'll call then. In addition to the hooves, I did feel that she was stiff, especially as we turned to head for home afterthe brief 10min walk hack. Her shoulder seems to be acting up, but it just feels sticky, not lame. If that makes sense. So I wanted to see if she'd work out of it, or if it was something to be concerned with.

Spud, 10 seconds before his epic tantrum/meltdown.
 At first, I was excited at the prospect of riding Suzie in the back pasture. This time, I intended to keep Spud OUT of the pasture and after he wiggled through the small opening in the gate, I parked the wheelbarrow there and he immediately threw a hissy fit which included bucking, galloping in circles, and head tossing. It was hilarious to watch and at first, Suzie was super perky and intent to follow his lead, but settled down to business relatively quickly.

She was sticky at the trot, as to be expected, and I could feel she was having a hard time with her left shoulder. This is an ongoing issue and because she does not have the muscle or strength behind it, it is hard for her. She attempted to go flat and run on the forehand so I had to really sit, engage my core and bring her back. Once she went softly in the bridle, her shoulder stiffness melted away. But the 20 meter circle I had going for her was hard - which is understandable since it is not level ground (there is a small incline/decline) and circles need bend to complete them properly. I had to work quite hard to actually push her around my leg, but I tried to not nit-pick as much considering this was her second real ride of the season. I cannot expect too much and I cannot push for too much since she is an older mare, coming out of time off, and because she HAS a previously shoulder injury. I am attempting to be proactive and consulted with her chiropractor who is coming out at the end of April to readjust her and reassess.

I feel like I may have the question posed why I am riding Suzie in English gear right now when I intend for her to be Western and intend to show her Western this year. To lay it all out on the table:

  1. She is just coming back to work and English saddles weigh less, especially my synthetic close contact. It may not be a huge weight difference, but it makes me feel better.
  2. My Western bridle has a curb bit on it and I like having more contact to help achieve her rhythm and balance with a softer bit than fighting in a curb. We will go back to the curb once she gets more balanced again.
  3. Why the hell not?

Mare says, "But I am a Western pony."

Other things to include about our ride was that it was very positive and we had some great moments of engagement where she rounded, went soft, and really reached and tried. However, she is still much like a fish out of water in some sense of the word. When she becomes unbalanced, she rushes and gets choppy. When she rushes and gets choppy, she pokes her nose up and hollows her back. And when she hollows her back, she dumps herself onto the forehand and is like a motoring steam-engine that has no brakes.

We'll get there. It'll take time to build up balance and rhythm (which you will hear me talk A LOT about since I believe it is THE building block for all horses. Without these two things, you cannot achieve engagement or adjustability. We'll start slow and build up. After 15 minutes of alternating trotting and walking, I closed the session with a brief canter straight through the field. Suzie perked up immediately and instead of riding in a half-seat like I intended to, I sat it and had to bring her brain to Earth a bit. She cooled out quietly and on a loose rein, although she certainly felt like she had more to give. But, I hopped off after walking around a bit and stiffled a giggle because she looked SO tired.

Horsing is hard.

Also, today I ordered and paid for the Farrier's Formula and ulcer regime for Suzie - it should be here sometime next week. I'm excited to chronicle our thoughts, findings and to see what kind of changes occur for Ms. Mare. I did forget to include it above, but prior to me getting up on Suzie in the back pasture, she had pooped and it was very loose and unshapen. I did continue to ride and she didn't seem off her game at all, so I wasn't certain if the beet pulp she had eaten 30min prior had anything to do with it, or if our hack off property caused some mild stress. She did munch on her hay quietly with a leg cocked after our ride while I cleaned up the property a bit.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ground Driving

He's so knock-kneed it's actually kinda cute.
*This post is long overdue but with the influx of posts I've had recently, I felt like I should space it out at least 24 hours.*

 Monday after all the chores at home had been dealt with and the lunches had been made, I took haven at the barn for the better part of an hour. Initially, I had wanted to ride Suzie again but I know that her left front hoof really, realllly does not like going barefoot. She's fine on the soft grass, but otherwise, because it seems like she has a flatter sole on that foot, she is more sensitive to it. I made the decision to take Spud out instead, which proved to be useful in the sense of testing Suzie's ability to be left on her own.

I mentioned in my previous blog post that I was interested to see how Suzie would act if I hacked her out alone and if her buddy-sourness would peak again. The last two years of owning her has gone in a pattern - every Spring she turns into a fire-breathing monster for a week or two and absolutely cannot horse. It's not a surprise when I encounter it, but it is interesting to read back and see similar posts or remember similar buddy-sour incidents with her in the Spring-time. And it wasn't just undersaddle.... If the other boarded horses were to go out on a trail ride, she'd pace the fence and call out like a crazed behemoth.

Us being gone for an entire week could easily have spiraled her back into her "I'm-not-leaving-my-frands" mantra, but the hack out on Sunday wasn't as malicious as our disastrous trail ride a few weeks prior. I had hope.

I pulled Spud out of the back and Suzie gave me the hairy eyeball as I closed the barn doors behind us, leaving her "all alone" with a nibble net full of dinner. Sometimes she'll paw at the door or walk briskly to the front of the barn in an attempt to catch a glimpse of Spud. She did neither of these things and I went about fiddling with Spud - brushing him (they are both shedding and I am so excited) and tacking him up in his harness gear. At one point Spud spooked hard at me throwing the harness over his back and after his legs stopped moving I rinsed and repeated the action. He's had the harness on millions of times and spooking at it is just silliness.

Because it was already starting to get dark, I decided to forgo the cart and hand-drove him instead. We started out pretty level - Spud is still quite green and although I do give him more chances and perhaps am a bit more forgiving to him, I still expect a level of work ethic and a level of obedience. We've been working on bridle connection a bit more and when he gets unbalanced or wants to rush forwards (mostly into a trot), he'll shake his head and resist the contact instead of going FOR it. We worked somewhat on that - really asking him to feel the bit and accept it instead of resisting and getting upset. I don't see-saw or force him to accept it, I only hold the contact there, as if to say, "It's here if you want it." If he doesn't want it, he flings his head and protests. If he does want it, it is a soft, inviting contact that follows him.

I do find that with the contact he starts to lose forward momentum, so I also had to cluck at him several times to get him going forward. I don't want him to think that contact = slow. However, when I did cluck at him, he'd shoot forwards into a trot and immediately get frustrated when I half-halted and "blocked" him. Frustration lead to him backing off the contact so that the reins would have slack and then bursting forwards to try and trot again. He certainly can be very intelligent because it took me a minute to correct him and be two steps ahead.

I tried to ensure that his quality work was rewarded - if he carried on with a nice, quiet trot and was traveling in a straight line, I'd allow him to continue and encourage his way of going. However, he did pop out his shoulder a few times and inadvertently began to drift, which then frustrated him because I refused to "float" with him. A few times I had to truly reprimand him for purposefully sidepassing and hoping I would accommodate him. Instead, I remained traveling straight and brought him back over to me. The few times where he refused and got pissy, I'd line myself up behind him and drive him in a zig-zag, engaging his turning and to remind him he does know how to work off the lines.

"Ma, I need a new harness!"

We also did some 10 meter circles, figure eights, and serpentines which he was pretty good at going to the right, but to the left he was quite sticky. I found that his shoulder really pokes out to the right and he needed a large amount of outside supporting rein to prevent his ass from sticking to the inside. Instead of curving around the corner he was virtually stepping on the circle boundary with his front right and otherwise, was traveling as though he was going straight. I did end up getting a pretty productive circle from him, but mentally it was pretty draining. Ending on that note, we ground-drove home where he got a bit of a flick on the ass for purposely drifting and attempting to evade contact and then he marched his cute little Appy butt home without any fuss. And to add to the success of our ground drive - Suzie happily munched on her hay while we were gone and didn't even come to say hello when we came up the driveway.

He is certainly going to be a very fun guy and I cannot wait to get him more broke - every drive he is learning something and every time he gets taken out is a learning experience. I need to ensure that it is both a positive experience as well as productive. I truly think to really get the cart performance I need from him, we truly need breeching. And with that, I've already begun ringing some tack stores to order a Comfy Fit harness.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Anxious Horse or Anxious Horse Mom?

I've been analyzing Suzie more closely since her gastric upset issue back in January and the facts can no longer be ignored. While she doesn't smell or seem like she has bleeding ulcers in her guts, she is showing some of the tell-tale signs that she is in discomfort and it truly bothers me. I want her to live a happy, healthy life and some things are just not adding up to my liking. The lack of Veterinarians in the area makes me feel like a failure, and at a loss.

An awful (she just started to walk away
from one annoying mini), but recent photo showing her barrel.
 The CONS:
  • Her hindgut seems "tucked" up (although in all the photos I look back on, I can't even see it!)
  • Coat isn't as shiny as it could be (although keep in mind she was not blanketed 24/7 and is very dirty).
  • Didn't put on much weight over the Winter - she only really maintained and I had to supplement several times with beet pulp.
  • When she gets anxious or upset (ie. at a show, when Spud leaves, trailering, etc) , her manure instantly turns soft. Not diarrhea, but certainly less "formed" (the longer she is anxious/upset, the worse her manure gets).
  • Losing shoes. It could very well be a farrier issue, but I've read articles that pin-point ulcers in direct relation with shitty feet. Interesting.

  • 24/7 outdoor board. She has never been stalled while owned by me.
  • 4-5 flakes Grass hay with some (not much) alfalfa
  •  Salt lick, fresh water and is given Dr Reeds minerals (truthfully, I haven't fed it much this Winter...), and Previcox when she is sore.
  • Not girthy/cinchy
  • Does not smell sour like she did back in January

I am at a loss here, because Equine Vets are NOT prominent here. A mobile Vet from 8hrs away comes up twice a year to assist with routine procedures, but other than that we have nothing. No tack store either. So it's largely up to me to try and help my mare while we wait for the Mobile Vet to come up at the end of April for the horse's routine Spring appointment.

And the more I watch her, the more I freak out and panic that I need to do something yesterday. Compile that with researching online and tracking down distributors of gastro supplements and feeling at a loss because the company doesn't ship to Canada, the tub becomes exponentially expensive due to freight costs, or I cannot find it on the website.

May 2014: This photo shows it off better. This was back when we first moved her to the new barn.
You can see the "shadowing" across the lower right portion of her gut which seems
"tucked" up. Or am I just imagining things?
Because not even a few weeks later, she looked like this.
 I put in calls all afternoon all over the place:

  •  to a pet store that sometimes carries horse stuff and the woman had no idea how to even spell Farrier, much less what I was talking about (she kept asking if the Farrier Formula was drugs ??)
  • a "Feed Store" that is very, very small (and normally only carries alfalfa cubes, COB, etc) and although the older fellow who answered the phone meant well, he wasn't able to provide me with any helpful information. He kept referring to Farrier Formula as Farriers Friend, which is a very different product.
  • the small animal Vet Clinic in town - they do not even have distributors for it.
  • the small animal Vet Clinic the next town over that USED to treat horses. Nope, they don't carry anything or bring anything in anymore
By this point I was frustrated and borderline popping a blood vessel. But I remained calm and remembered a decent Tack Shop about 3 hours away (same town where the BVX was held) and gave them a ring, not expecting much.

I was blown away by the customer service and how truly helpful the woman was. She knew her stuff about ulcers and although they did not carry the ulcer product I was looking for, she gave me information on what she does carry. And the product sounds awesome! It treats hindgut ulcers and it is proven, effective, and has a maintenance plan as well. We talked about the plan of treatment and in addition, the price point could not have been better. And the best part is that they will ship the items to me on the Greyhound bus, which means it'll arrive within TWO DAYS! That's HUGE. And shipping would only cost $30 or so, depending.

Back when I first brought her home, March 24th 2013

I am majorly impressed, slightly less agitated (and nervous) and ready to start helping Suzie out. I may be over-reacting, but I honestly feel like a shitty horse owner because I don't supplement and I don't feed "extra". But there is no time like the present to get ahead and I feel like I finally have a good game plan going forward. I'll have to research the one ulcer brand a bit and call the lady back tomorrow with what I have decided.

Hot to Trot

Suzie: "...."
On Sunday morning, I was itching to go see the horses and spend some time with them. It had been nearly a week and I was dying for some well-deserved pony time. Fortunately, most of the snow has melted and the back pasture only has small patches of snow throughout and I can now successfully get a wheelbarrow through the back pasture to the "dump off" (read: ravine)  where all the manure goes. Since I have not been able to really muck properly since December, the pasture was due for a much needed clean. So I picked and shoveled for the better part of two hours and cried a little inside when I realized I wasn't even half done. The large pile of manure/hay that I had created by the lean-to shed is still very wet and heavy, so I cannot move it very well just yet. I cleaned up the one side of the pasture and the front half before going over and moving their water trough (read: bathtub) from under the shelter to it's usual spot by the fence at the front of the barn.

The horse's were tickled pink when I had opened the back pasture gates and Spud immediately began prancing and galloping around Suzie (who rolled her eyes and plodded along quietly). After half an hour of running around, Spud was heaving and snorting. Silly fat pony. He was also sweaty and had a bit of a lather on his chest. I think in part due to his running, but also because it was WARM out there. Even I was sweating and felt gross!

Spud just can't contain himself and needs to photobomb
every photo.

Eager to ride, and to try out my new tack (which I sadly have not gotten any photos of yet!), I pulled Suzie out and began tacking her up in my English gear. I was keeping an eye on Suzie, to see if she'd start pulling the same crap she had been previously (looking for Spud). She was quiet and a tug of the leadrope got her attention back when it wandered. Otherwise, I rigged up my new stirrup leathers which are sadly much too long for my short legs (that's what happens when you don't check the length on the tag before buying, folks!) and much too light for my saddle (grrr)! So, I have a plan to try and darken them and if not, I'll be putting them up for sale to find some new ones that are shorter and match my saddle better.

After attaching my new stirrups - which by the way felt SO weird since they are so light and... plastic - I hopped up and Suzie and I plodded around the street. Right now she is barefoot so I wasn't sure if she'd be totally rideable, but after stumbling slightly on some ouchy rocks, she was fine. We practiced halting, standing, and I encouraged her to stretch out her topline. She obliged and even walking towards home she was quicker than usual and I only had to slightly reprimand her with a few circles. Otherwise, it seemed as though her Spring Stupidness had worn off. We headed back to the barn and I immediately was sad that I didn't get a chance to post trot with the new stirrups.

My eyelids are sweating 'cause horsing is hard.

So, we headed to the back pasture. I left the gate open and Spud joined us, which may have been a mistake in hind-sight, but it was an interesting experience and something to practice for sure. You see, because Spud was loose, Suzie felt the need to trot with him or keep up with him whenever he galloped away and went on a bucking spree. No, mare. We are trotting twenty meter circles. Ignore the pony who is enjoying the sunshine wayyyy too much. We did get some good moments of connection, but I could feel she was starting to get a bit sensitive in her feet. I ended up trotting and cantering the mare and although she felt like a freaken' steam engine, she complied with my requests.

I ended the ride after about 25 minutes and poor Suzie was soaked - mostly from the heat of the day and having a wooly coat, but also because doing horse things is hard work. And overall, it was a pretty decent first ride for the season. I think that had Spud been locked up in the regular pasture, and not with us in the back, Suzie wouldn't of been so forward, but it was actually a bit interesting and I could use it to my advantage. Just think - if Suzie can listen and be responsive while Spud is galloping around like an idiot by her hocks, she can handle anything!

I did put a call in to the Farrier on Monday morning, but haven't heard back yet. I'd really like to get some new kicks on Ms Mare so we can really start doing some riding.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Two Years with Suzie

6am loading Suzie up for the 15hr haul home. Don't I look like a hot mess.
Today marks two years since I signed the papers and loaded Suzie into a trailer. Today is so much more than an anniversary or a mark in history - it is a large footprint in my life where I became a first time horse owner, a care-giver, and learned some very valuable and hard-earned lessons about life. Seven hundred and thirty days have gone by with this opinionated and very intelligent mare and I cannot seem to imagine my life any other way.

To say she completes me would be an understatement. On more days she drives me absolutely bonkers, but she is also captivating, enchanting, and the teacher of life lessons. When we first came together, there was no understanding, no common ground and certainly no attachment. She was aloof, uninterested, and detached. I will admit it was hard to form any kind of bond with her - she preferred to be out grazing or in the company of other horses (understandably so), but even when watching me pull up in the truck, she'd wander farther away.

March 2013
But like all things, it takes time to get to know someone. It takes time to form a bond, to make a connection. And although I have cursed in the past and said I was done, I never really threw in the towel. I never really gave up and I never really stopped trying. I had to fight harder than I have ever had to before, to get her approval, her love, and her acceptance. And when I got it I knew that this mare would jump the moon for me - and I truly believes she knows I would do the same for her.

I honestly don't have the words to convey what I am trying to say, so instead of continuing with a wall of text, enjoy the following photos - a blast from the past and current.

March 2013
Our very first ride together.
April 2013
April 2013
One of our first trail rides, shortly before her
becoming a hellion on the trails.
July 2013 - getting a boost up onto my mare who was
on/off lame for the better part of two months.
In the summer, sometime 2013.

My friends and I painted her like an Indian pony at one point.

September 2013, shortly before moving to the new paddock for the Winter.

November 2013 - at the new paddock.
Early 2014, practicing polo wraps and Showmanship
At the new Barn - May 2014
Annnnd I realized I barely have any pictures of me riding Suzie... awkwardddd
Shiny mare is shiny.

Two years ago today I welcomed you home.
Thank you for being in my life, Suzie-mare. Here's to a million more years together.

Monday, March 23, 2015

I'm Still Here, I Promise.

Peace and serenity.
  The BF and I headed to go visit my parents on the Island from 15th to the 21st and it was a very welcomed vacation. By the end of it, admittedly, I was ready to come home and see my horses and puppies, but not having to do laundry, cook, or wake up early in the morning to feed horses was kind of... freeing. I did realize how much I missed my routine after Day 4 and couldn't wait to get back home.

I did miss out on some prime time riding, but the visit was well over-due and warranted. I went to several tack stores, bought myself some pretty things and almost bought a $1,500 dressage saddle. I tried on a bunch of show jackets, helmets, show shirts, etc. It was heaven to try things on and see how they fitted versus buying it and hoping it fits.

Some of my purchases included:

- Calf-skin stirrup leathers (Originally $179, on sale for $75... who could say no?!)

- Compositi Stirrups - uhm hello.

- Girth - new one for the pony.

- Hoof Nippers - it's almost like I'm willing Suzie to loose another shoe just so I can use these...

- Be-Calm. It's mostly out of curiosity to see if it'll help with her show nerves more than anything.

And I've already decided I'm going to be purchasing a Modern Arista Hunter Show Jacket. 'Cause ohmygod it looks gorgeous and fits beautifully. I've already taken a bunch of photos of tack I am wanting to sell so I can buy the jacket.

Thankfully, after landing back into town on Saturday evening, the BF and I still had Sunday off to enjoy, unpack and unwind a bit before heading back to work on Monday. I spent the day with the horses, cleaning the paddock, moving the water tub and even hopped on Suzie and trotted and cantered for the first time this year. Suzie was much obliged and did not have brakes, which was wonderful.

We also visited an old tree park.

Friday, March 13, 2015

FOO: Life of a Working Amateur

Longing for Summer.
Pun intended, LOLs.
 I've actually enjoyed this blog hop that was done by Fly On Over and the resulting "answers" from various bloggers. I've learned so much about fellow bloggers and I wanted to extend the welcome into a larger glimpse into my daily life. I've tried to make the schedule for Spring/Summer rather than Winter (when I ride significantly less).

So without further ado, rinse and repeat the following schedule for 20 days (in a row).

4:50am - Alarm goes off. Snooze

5:00am - Second alarm goes off. Hit snooze again.

5:10am - Third alarm goes off.  Getting up and getting ready.

5:20am - Out the door and driving to go feed the horses (I am clearly one of those "wake up and fucking GO people". I can't stand around and watch the news or sip coffee).

"Food lady, hurry up."
5:30am - Horses fed and happy. Start driving back into town, since work is in the opposite direction.

5:50am - Arrive at work, badge in and walk onto site. (The schedule has changed a bit because Jamie was on a 6-5 shift like me, but his company changed to 7:30-6, so now he takes his own vehicle in).

6:00am - Arrive at Office and begin daily preparations.

---- insert daily work activities such as safety walk-throughs, inspections, weekly safety meetings, toolbox talks, more meetings, trending reports, first aid visits (Ihope for none, though!), job hazard analysis reviews, etc etc ----

5:00pm - Badge out and start running to the car.

5:10pm - Leave car park and head straight to the horses to feed (usually in Winter). OR, run home and grab riding gear, dogs,etc and head out to ride.

My happy place

5:30pm - Arrive at barn and if it is Spring/Summer I will gear up for a ride. Otherwise, I feed the horses again and tell them how much I love them and cry because I want to ride. I will also clean manure, fill water, prep next morning's meals, grain, fly spray, blanket, etc etc.

6:00pm - During the Winter this is the time I'd get home from the barn... so I'll start making dinner. Or sometimes come home and hit the gym if I am lucky and just eat later. In the Spring/Summer I'll still be out riding!

7:45pm - Do chores - laundry, vacuuming, cleaning rat cages, walking dogs, grocery shopping, etc. Somehow manage to not be able to sit down at all. Spring/Summer: Home from barn around this time, or 8-8:30pm and start on the above chores.

8:45pm - Shower, get ready for bed.

9:30pm - Bed.

We snooze whenever.
 Rinse and repeat for 20 days - and of course, my schedule is very, very subject to change if there is an incident at work and I need to stay late. I've worked many thirteen and fourteen hour shifts because something has gone wrong just before the end of shift.

But after twenty days of uninterrupted work, I get SEVEN* glorious days where I get to do whatever I want because I don't have to go to work!!!! YAY for construction jobs.

*Tomorrow is Day 20, which means my week off is almost here! and Jamie and I fly out on Sunday for a week to visit my parents, so there will be some large radio silence on my end!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Picture Spamming Because: Rain

I only have pictures, because this:

36-Hour Precipitation Outlook

10:00am Thu to 9:00pm Fri
Rain: 50+ mm.

Flashback! Snowmaggedon: February 7th, 2015

Snowmaggedon Melting: March 9th, 2015

Cuddly mare blinks every time I take photos. Srsly.

Cleaned the harness!

Look at how small and cute I am.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Shoeless and Photo Spam

Yesterday I was finally able to pull Suzie's shoes off - a kind friend of mine let me borrow her shoe puller and it made the job 10x easier. Comparatively, in 2014 we had just endured a snowmageddon, so it makes me feel like less of a shitty horseowner that I wasn't riding my horse around this time last year. But all is well. Suzie was good and I've layered her hoof soles up with venice turpentine in hopes to strengthen them. Shoes will go back on when we get back from vacation - around then she is due for a re-set anyways. I want to give her feet a chance to grow out so the farrier can fix them up as much as possible.

Patient, good mare.

Other than that, nothing much as changed. Hopefully with this Daylight Savings Time in effect I'll get some drives in on Spud.

For now though, enjoy some photos of my cute dogs:

It was hilarious because she had just fallen in from the cracked ice.

The bestest dog in the world.
My bandana is the best.