Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Hacking Makes Happy Ponies

Hill work for them booty gains.
I am happy to say that the weather seemed to have leveled out after a few days of down-pour - we've had some pretty nice days with temps reaching uncharacteristic levels. I won't complain tho, the sun kinda makes me motivated to do things outside, riding included (how I wish we had an indoor sometimes).

Earlier this month I had been taking advantage of hacking on the trails, which came in good time since the last week and a half I have had to avoid the trails due to bear/wolf activity. In fact, a wolf was spotted at our usual schooling grounds just the other morning... so I had to be particularly careful about heading there. I don't really fear heading to the grounds much, since it is an open space but the crowded and dense trails leave me a bit less... bold. 

Longingly looking up the driveway to the barn, haha.
I still venture them when there is company to be had, but when it's just me and my horses I tend to stick a bit closer to home. The animals are getting ready for Winter and I'd rather not run into a hungry or defensive bear (or wolf!), especially when there have been occurrences (approx 5 years ago) of bears chasing horses and ultimately killing a rider's dog who attempted to defend them.

So I kinda took the opportunity to hack out alone while there were still no real sightings or worries - I have been trying to keep it to one school (if not two!) per week where time allows, but I kinda let it slide in favor of enjoying the trails and playing around. So, following the really good school in the arena back in early September, I hacked Annie with Spud through the fairgrounds trail and around the loop which runs through the subdivision. I have been trying to be diligent in taking Spud out at least twice a week, since I don't always bring him with me when I ride Annie (I don't want her to get too used to him always being there either). 

We were all smiles by the end of the ride tho - the sunshine was
warmly welcomed!
With this particular ride, we did a ton of hill work and even attempted some canters down the better maintained trails. Spud was NOT a fan of this, haha, and ended up giving me some whip-lash bc when pony doesn't wanna... pony will NOT. So, we stuck to a slow jog which was more like a fast trot in Spud gaits. 

The ride was fun, quiet, and an easy 5k. Just what me and the ponies needed!

I am always so impressed how good Annie has been about ponying Spud - I kinda just threw her into it and she never really looked back.

Because of her good behavior and good schools, I gave her two days off and on one of those days, I ended up hauling Spud into town to drive on some old 4x4 trails and stop by the property. For those who don't know, the Boyfriend and I own 5 acres of untouched land pretty close to my old 4-H coach (and where I first boarded Suzie when I bought her). Anyways, it's been a friggen process to get the land ready and going, but the Boy and I have finally been able to get some things done (because everything costs money... SO MUCH MONEY). 

As a largely unrelated side-note, but also kind of a non-official update on the land, here are many pictures to serve as fodder for those curious:

This is what it looked like prior to being dug and back-filled.
Lots of mulch and lots of dirt.

New soil going in. In the bottom photo, I am in that cluster of trees to the
left. The property still extends a good 20' beyond that. It is an old road tho so
doesn't need to be dug or filled.

Spud is up there... way up there haha.
You can see our giant mountain of mulch/soil to the left. There is more property to the
left, right, and behind me. 
We had a contractor come and needed them to scrape and pull up the bad footing and backfill with good ground on the "horse's lot". (We have 3 properties all in a row. The 3rd lot which is about 1.5 acres is for the horses only). The spots where the properties are used to be an old swamp, so the footing itself is NOT good for building on or for ponies to be walking on. It's beautiful mulch and super rich top-soil tho... just not good for the purposes we need, haha.

Not the property, but a trail that runs along part of the property!
In order to be able to get this stuff done on the lot without it costing a million dollars, we had to be selective, up-front and calculating of our wants and needs. As you guys will notice, the mulch/top-soil mixture is a giant mountain on the lot still, which will remain there for a while. We plan to screen it and lay the good top soil down where we want to grow grass, so no sense in sending it away and paying ($$) for it to be sent away and then brought back ($$) just as top soil. 

Soon Bannie will be hitting these trails :)
Anyways, my little side-track is over. I stole the nephew and we drove some of the trails before stopping at the lot to check it all out and show Spud his future home!

So that was fun and kind of exciting!! More developments will be coming for the land, but it is done for this year as we want the ground to settle and such.

Following that ride, Annie and I tagged along with N and AJ for a 7.5k hack which was a lot of fun and Annie was well-behaved - even when AJ decided to lose his noodle for a few kilometers, haha. For a 19 year old, he is still pretty damn spry. The ponies mostly hacked around on the buckle and it served as a good opportunity to catch up and chat. Much needed!

AJ, with his noodle firmly reinstalled! 
Our last hack, before returning to the ring, was a simple 4k loop around the subdivision. Annie went in a halter-a-more, and I only questioned my sanity once. Otherwise, we toodled on a long rein and even managed to get a few minutes of trot in with Spud, who begrudgingly followed.

A happy couple.
Of course, it didn't hurt that I provided everyone (and I mean everyone!) with treats:

My goal for the end of 2018 was to hit 400km logged into Equi-lab with Annie, and since I've already surpassed that amount, I'm setting my sights on 500! (To be fair, I believe I have passed 500km already, since I have missed turning it on for quite a few rides and also due to the fact I downloaded the app in late March.) 

The hacking and trails have been good for racking up easy miles, not to mention it's been educational for Annie still. Because believe it or not, I rarely just "toodle" or putter around. We practice things along the trail like leg-yielding, TOH, backing up, halting and standing quiet, etc. There are always things to work on and I take the opportunity to play around with little things on these days. 

Mostly tho, I'm just enjoying the heck outta my horse and slowly putting the miles on her. She feels different as this year is drawing to a close (which is something I will reflect on in another post), and it feels good. We've both worked our butts off this year, so the down time is welcomed. Of course, it doesn't mean we stopped doing our thang in the ring, because our next three rides were all flat schools in the ring ;) Something about balance and all that, right?


  1. Snacks for EVERYONE! And WOW. So much work on that land. I'd be impatient having to go so slowly lol. Your pictures alone show off how much potential there is though! I can't wait to see the finished product one day.

    1. Snacks are the best part about being ridden, Annie thinks lol.

      And ya... I am impatient. But it's a costly endeavour and we are trying to do it as easy on our pocket-books as we can. Which means, we tend to do most of it ourselves. It takes time, but it'll come together soon!

  2. I'm always so jealous of the places you get to ride! I wish we had such quick access to that type of hacking around here.

    1. I think your child genius would love these trails :)

  3. My first trainer always imparted to me that one could practice ring stuff on the trails. :)

    1. A lot of people don't even think of it - but we typically do a few things during trail rides to make it a bit more engaging.

  4. Sounds like a great bunch of rides! It's great that Annie doesn't mind ponying Spud. Nice to work two at once!
    Your property looks amazing. How exciting!

    1. It is nice to get them both out, altho Spud would disagree since he has to trot most of the time to keep up, haha.

      Thank you!

  5. That property looks like a lot of work; I'd be out trailer riding too. I love the snacks video; so cute.

  6. One day the wait for the land and housing will have all been worth it. Trail rides are the best and you can get a little schooling in too which is a plus. Beautiful country there. I’m a little Leary of bears and wolves,I wouldn’t want to meet either. We have a 300 lb. bear and her cub hanging around the back pastures some days and in my backyard. Personally I think she’s stealing my apples and peaches off the trees. Not much left for us humans! Be safe.

    1. It will... the waiting part is hard tho haha.

      Oh no, haha. The bears sure love the tree fruits!