Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 Goals Recap

2018 Goals Recap

  • Attend as many clinics/lessons as I can. Knowledge is power!  My "happy number" is anywhere from 10-15 lessons.  This was a huge success and I managed to get a wonderful 15 lessons in throughout the year. It may not seem like much for those who take weekly lessons, but compared to the 5 lessons I managed to swing in 2017, we had a hugely successful year!
  • In addition to clinics, attend as many "fun" days as I can. This means clear rounds, percentage days, gymkhanas, etc. Purely for exposure and as a low pressure segway into shows. I actually didn't attend a single "fun" day, haha. Moreso due to schedule conflicts with other events than anything.
  • Solidify the basics - walk/ trot/ canter (leads), back up, TOH, TOF. Start to get more reliability in true extensions, shoulder in and haunches in. We definitely have our basics! We need to brush up on TOH and TOF a bit more, but it's all there. She has also started to learn what extensions are vs rushed trotting. We haven't played much with haunches in due to the fact it's verrrry easy for her to do and she more or less wants to be crooked when she canters. So, we'll revisit that this coming year :o)
  • Compete in 2-3 shows; I'd like to see where we stand after Annie's training in February, but my tentative plans are to continue with Walk/Trot divisions for our first show and then move up and close out the year with Training level (tentative First Level stretch goal here pending our progress!). For flat classes - pretty much the same thing. Start walk/trot and then go into a few with canter to get her used to it. And for the jumping - continuing with 18"-2' and ideally close out the year with 2'3"-2'6" hunter classes.  OK, so there were some stretch goals here. I'm gonna still 'x' it off and say we did the thing because the First Level and 2'6" courses were hard stretches that I wasn't necessarily pushing for. We've continued to push along at Training Level and continued with the smaller jumps which I am happy with. We did three shows this year, with one being online.
  • Trail ride more - in a group and solo. I'd like to take her down a bunch of the old logging roads and haul out to the local ski-trails. There is also a Mountain Horse course 3hrs away I'd love to play around on! Didn't get to go to the Mountain Horse course BUT we've trail ridden A LOT this year. We've done all kinds of trails both with and without other horses. She's been pretty good save for a handful of rides but overall I'm pretty pleased with her.
  • Purchase Dressage saddle and pay off before end of the year. Done and done! Saddle was paid off in the Summer :) 

  • Compete at 1 CDE/FDT at 1st level. We didn't get to make it out to a CDE, unfortunately. Wildfires caused a lot of cancellations in the later dates and I didn't feel like Spud was legged up enough to compete in their earlier in the year CDEs (April).
  • Compete at BVX and go for high point. We did and we won high point :)
  • Continue to work towards a free walk and collection. Getting better. Need more march in the free walk still but not terrible!! Collection is coming - just have to remember to push him more into it vs pulling him into it.
  • Work on pivots while hitched. They are certainly better than before!

Roxy isn't largely shared on the blog, so enjoy some Roxy
from October <3

  • Complete CHSEP certificate program. Done! I actually am starting my diploma program in 2019 now, haha.
  • Eradicate CC debt. I certainly didn't clear it as much as I wanted, but it's slowly getting there.
  • Spending freeze on horsey things I do not need (like bridles, bits, etc). The only passable items are a set of jumping boots, a white show pad and the dressage saddle. That's it! I think I did pretty darn good this year! I bought a few things not listed like a fly sheet, but were necessary things at the time.
  • Continue to plug away at property - slowly but surely! Yes! I just need to finally finalize my barn plans (scary to think!!) and we are planning to build come Spring/Summer!

Stay tuned for 2019 goals coming in the New Year :)

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Post-Christmas Vibes

Listening ears on Bannie after a previous evening snowfall!
All has been relatively quiet as the Christmas season starts to wrap up and we prepare to head into 2019 in just a few short days. I've been diligently playing around with the horses still, trying to keep things as interesting as I can with the terrible weather we've been experiencing lately.

Things have mostly been pretty good - Annie has been a bit uncharacteristically spooky for a few in-hand sessions, but I feel the cooler temps kinda bring out the inner feral Mustang in most horses. I err on the side of caution tho, because Annie is not clipped at this time and any amount of excessive work gets her sweaty and warm. So, we keep it low key and stick to the monotonous (but still fun!) regime of hand walking, in-hand work, and desensitization work.

I was lucky last week though, as I managed to get two rides in on Annie - one with Spud and one without.

For having an inconsistent ride schedule, Annie was as cool as a cucumber for both rides.

Little snowflakes fell during a portion of our ride :)
The day after Christmas, I was excited to see that the roadway was pretty clear and bare, so I figured it would be a good day to ride! I had to hand-walk her down the driveway to the road, as the driveway is a bit slippery at the moment from the vehicles driving over the snow. When we got onto the road, she was a bit snorty and looky, so I just did some in-hand work to get her back on the same page. It didn't take long, and before I knew it we were well on our way, Annie's head at her knees.

We did a bit of shortening and lengthening the reins, as Annie started to toss her head and break into trot when I would pull up the contact on the last two rides. So I just went back and forth, gradually bringing the reins in and out. She was pretty good about it, and it seemed to help her understand moreso that we could bring the contact in and out without having to get up tight about it.

The ride was nice and low key - we added a few small trot-sets in where we could, but otherwise stuck to a quiet walk. At one point, I had to dismount and hand-walk, as one of the roads was unplowed and I feared it would be slippery. It wasn't too bad, but I didn't want to tempt fate.

During the handwalk, I held onto the buckle of the reins while checking
my Equilab. Annie likes to stretch quite a bit, so she was doing her thing and
then she stepped on the reins -_-. Thankfully they didn't break, but it made me realize
I needed to coil up the reins and leave her less slack, lol.
Annie got stuffed with many carrots and wrapped back into her lightweight before being turned out. Good girl!

Our second ride was Saturday afternoon, after a rather large downpour the evening before. The sun was shining, and although there was a blustry wind, it seemed like the perfect day for a ride!

So ride we did!

Annie, making Spud look Pony-sized.
Or... Spud making Annie look Pony-sized?
Annie was great and as we wandered down the streets, Spud gave his most eccentric display of head tossing, leaping, and grunting. He also spooked like a freight train at one point, and I almost lost hold of his leadrope.

Besides Spud being very... excited to be out (haha), both horses were pretty well behaved. Especially once Spud quietly fell into line like a good little pony.

I was pretty pleased with both horses, considering the road way is narrower than usual with the snow on the sides of the road. Unfortunately, this means slush accumulates along the sides and when cars move over to give us a wider berth, slush sprays like a firehose from under the cars and right in our direction. Which, can be easily avoidable if the cars just slow the heck down. But, non-horsey people don't feel the need to slow down to avoid sending sprays of slush in our direction, so both Annie and Spud spooked a few times as wet slush flew at both of them.

It was a pretty sunny day - this street was quite shaded.
Thankfully, both horses are pretty sane and didn't seem too overly bothered by it. I kept double checking over my shoulder for vehicles, and would pull into nearby driveways that didn't look slippery to get out of the way to avoid any kind of slush-spraying, haha.

Despite the slush, it was a good ride, and most drivers were pretty sensible. I made sure I waved and mouthed "thank you" to the ones who were cautious.

I didn't end up staying out too long on our second ride, as the wind started to cut through my jacket and I wished I had thicker socks and jacket on, haha. As we made our loop back down towards home, we ran into a few people hand-walking their horses, and it took some cajoling on my part to convince Annie that these horses were not meeting up with us and no we were not going to sniff noses. She plodded along quietly after a pony club kick to the gut after stopping stiffly as the two other horses passed.

A more appropriate angle to show each horse's size, lol.

We passed them once more, heading back home, and Annie was less interested in them (but still interested enough to snort and try to sniff out at them).

Nothing remotely exciting, to be frank, but at the same time... having a quiet and "boring" winter ride on a young horse that's been in inconsistent work for the past few months is pretty damn exciting. Haha.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Christmas Photos: The Out-takes

The attempt at getting Christmas photos was not without an abundance of hilarious out-takes.

Enjoy my favorites:

I don't know what she was up to today, but she proceeded to undress Spud
at any chance she could get, hahah.

And then I had to forcibly remove the reindeer antlers from her mouth, as she
tried to eat them.... Why Annie, why?!

Spud was happy when his Santa hat fell off, and then proceeded
to trot around so I couldn't catch him.


Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year

Because we all know I'll never catch up on my back-log of posts, haha.

So here are a few of Santa's reindeer's to wish you a very Happy Holiday season:

Friday, December 21, 2018

900fb pony Bloghop: Favorites of 2018

A huge thank you to Amanda for creating this hop, lest I be left with 0 blog content during the off season!

I'm terrible when it comes to narrowing it down to just ONE photo, so hopefully I can answer the questions without much hesitation. Be forewarned tho, this may just turn into one big ol media dump.

Favorite Show Picture

Favorite Annie show photo has to be from the online schooling show we took part in in August. This is technically a screenshot, but most of our shows this year suffered pretty hugely in the media department. Regardless, it still counts to me and it makes me excited for the future.

Favorite Spud show photo - I had a hard time choosing just one since our entry at the BVX was certainly well documented! He's such a good little noodle tho, which makes it hard to pick just one... but I love how attentive and happy he looks heading into our cones course!

Favorite Thing you Bought

Mine and Annie's Dressage saddle!! One of my biggest horsey purchases aside from the actual horse, haha. 

Favorite Moment on Horseback

I think by far, my favorite moments on horseback where the days we were just enjoying each other. It's hard to settle on just "one" ride out of the whole year, but riding Annie bridleless was pretty friggen awesome! Pictured above in gif form is us cantering brideless for the very first time.

With the Potato Pony? Of course it would be completely dominating the Driving ring at the BVX. We walked away with many red ribbons, high point, and several prizes!

Favorite Moment Out of the Saddle

It is kind of a tie... For one - meeting Ella and adopting her. And secondly, visiting my parents in Nanaimo. Family time is so important, and I'm glad we were able to make it happen. Even more so, I am beyond grateful that my parents and brother were able to meet Ella. 

Favorite "Between the Ears" Photo

I have so many between the ears photos, but I think this one is a high favorite!! Our very first "big" jump haha. Lots of new things this year - pushing past comfort zones and all that.

Second to that, was riding with friends <3 

The top two photos are my favorite between the ears pics with Spud - and ironically both photos are from the exact same trail, haha! We found this trail completely by accident, and it turned out to be one that we drove several times over the Summer.

Favorite Horse Book or Article

To be honest, I didn't really pick up many books or articles this year. What I did do was immerse myself into clinics and seminars. One of the articles I found interesting was this one, posted by Horse Nation in regards to painful vs non-painful lameness

Despite this, I did refer to an old book I have had for a few years. It is a good reference point, especially when dealing with mild injuries or just general reading to calm wandering minds!

Favorite Horse Ridden (groomed/ or cared for) Aside from your Own

Of course it would be the lovely Navarro, owned by a friend of mine! Navarro actually had a beautiful filly later this year named Autumn.

Photo credit here
Isn't she the cutest fricken thing ever?!

Favorite Funny Picture of your Horse

This photo will never not be hilarious.

Favorite Fence you Successfully Jumped or Movement you Conquered

Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of the fences, but the following picture was taken on that day!

The first fence in the line is the red x-rail, though. It was the first set of fences I felt Annie actually lock on, which was super cool!

Favorite Horse Meme or Funny Picture

Buckle up, ya'll!

I love me a good meme!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Winter Doesn't Mean Quit

I need to find longer driving reins, but otherwise
Annie got with the program pretty easily.
When Winter touches down in Northwest BC, most horse-related activities cease to continue - those of us who do not have the luxury of an indoor (something that is not prevalent anywhere near where my horses are, haha) mostly sit out the white powdered season with hopeless anticipation for the Spring thaw. Most years, the snow plagues trails and easements on roadways for months at a time, making it difficult to keep any horse in full and consistent work.

The break that Winter brings is a warm (no pun intended) welcome, as the temperatures plummet into more or less undesirable riding weather, the ring and other riding areas are impassable, and the early sunsets make timing an effective ride pretty much impossible.

It's hard to sit idly by waiting for a clear riding ring, much less salted and sanded roadways for a short hack around the block. It can be frustrating too, because both Annie and Spud revert back into a semi-feral status with the lack of structured rides and training. Which, I guess is par for the course when the paddock becomes a winter wonderland and they trudge the same monotonous trail day after day after day.

Being relinquished from the pasture for a ride can be a pretty exciting opportunity, so in an effort to view the positive side of the coin, I have since decided to just be happy with both horse's own personal delight in the prospect of "getting out".

I love her tail.
In an effort to keep the horses from reverting completely back to feral Mustang status, I've been working with both horses in-hand for the past few weeks. Unfortunately, both the weather and road conditions have not made for promising riding time (and I refuse to trust the seemingly harmless slush that coated the roadways this past January wherein Annie slipped, fell, and I broke my nose).

We've been mixing things up - working on a variety of things both Annie and Spud already know, but also pushing the envelope into new territory. Which, has been a bit exciting and fun, I suppose, haha.

There have been good days and... seemingly not so good days where Annie's focus isn't as attainable as it it had been on previous days. I try to keep rolling with the punches tho, because I realize the Winter time is one of the most boring and mundane times for the horses. So, we plug away at old things and new things.

Old things like tying quietly for an extended amount of time (one thing I have learned from owning a green horse that was never appropriately worked with until she was older, is that working on being tied is something that is worthwhile to keep repeating and keep up to snuff with, lest she forget tantrums get her nowhere), lunging (cantering in the snow and keeping your balance is hard!), general in hand work, and of course hand-walking!!

Please ignore my barn attire lol.
Poor Annie, so abused. I didn't throw the umbrella far
enough and it kept poking her, haha.
And of course we have the "new" things that we've been chipping away at - ground driving (Annie was verrrry confused about this, haha), umbrella desensitization, and tarp work. An evil part of me wants to get a discounted blow up figurine after Christmas and play around with that too.

It's riveting stuff, haha.

Despite all of the stuff I've been trying to incorporate, I'm also just letting the horses be horses. I was lucky enough to hop up into the saddle yesterday, which I will blog about at a later date, so the horses's are staying relatively sated.

Soon.... soon the weather will be better and the days will be longer.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

2018 Year In Review - Part 2


Technically these lessons happened in June, but I blogged about them in July. We took part in a 2 day Anthony clinic again and I felt as though the lack of forwardness we had been battling for a better part of the year was starting to come to a head - and not in a good way. On the first day of the clinic I had brought Spud with me and did some work in the indoor, which went well. The lesson itself went very late due to another horse and rider having issues, so I ended up getting thrown into a group lesson which went well. Once again we addressed my love affair with the inside rein!

Lots of hacking was had in July, too!
Day 2 of the clinic was more of a biomechanics information session, as well as the first time I felt Annie really lock onto a fence! The name of the game of this lesson was "make her bolder" vs pushing her every inch to the fence.

We did a back to back set of weekend clinics, which brings me to our next two-dayer - the Sven Smienk clinic. Both lessons were kinda humiliating and humbling - we started out by addressing Annie's behind the leg problem - which mostly meant I pony-club kicked her around the arena for the better part of 45 minutes, haha. Basically, any kind of resistance (or ignoring) of my aid meant we went galloping around the ring. Leg means forward, mare. Welcome to Forward Bootcamp!! As humiliating as day one was, it worked well  because on Day 2 we had a more agreeable pony.

Taking a breather from clinics, we trail rode, I visited the Boyfriend who was working away from home, and then hit the ring once again. It was a mish-mash of All The Things, as I poked deeper into Annie's resistance, as well as reflecting upon her trail riding training (not very sure-footed, doesn't like to be in the back of the pack, etc).

We jumped our first "big" jump, too haha

In trying to keep with my yearly goals, we set our sights on trail riding and getting Annie more comfortable hacking the narrower trails alone. She did pretty well, especially when I had to dismount, throw one of the dog's up into the saddle, and cross a stream. I also played in the ring a bit before another clinic and show, which gave me glimpses of forward I so longed for!

The most patriotic potato!
It also wouldn't be July without Spud's official cameo in the annual Canada Day parade!


I was unable to blog effectively for most of the year, so a lot of my posts were late. The Cat Armitage clinic and Dressage show was no different, but I'm going to keep it in the month of August!

We started out with a Ride A Test/ Fix A Test with judge Cat Armitage. It was pretty informative, but I found that Annie fizzled out by the time we did redid our test. It was a bit disheartening, to score lower on the second go round, but Cat had also warned me that after our mini-lesson that Annie would be pretty much done.

From the schooling show the following day.
The next day after the Cat Armitage clinic, we jumped off the deep end into another show. We did alright, although Annie was not very happy with having to perform. I wallowed in a bit of frustration, because damnit I've worked hard with this horse and sometimes it seems like all I am doing is slogging through mountains of... stuff.

In August I officially announced we had adopted Ella (back in May) and also described how Annie managed to injure herself grazing in the front paddock dragging a lunge line.

As Annie healed, the Boy, dogs, and I all went to visit my parents on the island. As soon as we got back I wasted no time in hacking her out bareback, as well as hacked with N and AJ. Of course, we got back to work in the ring and had some good rides, too!

Mid-August, Annie's alter-ego, Bannie, reared (ha ha ha) her ugly head during a trail ride and I devised a plan to get her more used to and agreeable during trail rides (esp when she has to be last). I wasn't too worried though, because we were kinda "due" for a bad ride given our slew of mostly agreeable rides the entire year.

In an effort to redeem myself in the Dressage court, I took part in an online Dressage schooling show a friend was hosting. I met up with my Spanish riding friend and another from Alberta to get the test video-taped and sent off before the due date. Annie was pretty good, aside from deciding to have a full blown melt-down and absolutely refused to stay on the correct lead. I ended up cantering her for eternity until she had less opinions and we went back to work to have an actually pretty nice test. The results were posted a little later, in September. Annie and I had actually won our classes and a high point prize!!

Our one TL test from the online show.
Despite our success in the ring, I had a hard time finding the good in all the hard work we did this year. Young horses are hard work, and I was glad that most of the responses were thoughtfully supportive. I had decided with this post that I was going to step back from the regularly scheduled ring rides and stick to evolving smaller things - like our trail riding and general in hand work. It didn't mean I was going to step away from the ring, but more that both Annie and I needed a breather. We worked hard all year - riding 4-5+ times a week, participated in back to back clinics a few times, and hauled quite a bit. I did pull myself together and reflect back on how far we have come, and that is journey is OUR journey. The horse I had bought is long gone now, as she is molding and developing into something more <3


The BVX had actually happened in August, but I was late in blogging on it (theme of the year!!). I took Spud with me this year and he abso-fucking-lutely KILLED it. We pretty much won every single class we entered, and took him a ton of prizes for winning certain classes, as well as winning Driving High Point.

The most handsomest potate.
So friggen proud of him and how far he's come!!

It's like he knows what a badass he is.
The grind didn't stop tho, and even though I put less pressure on Annie and I, I still was working hard to figure out her cross-firing issues. Some keen comments and video-evidence made me realize Annie travels verrrry haunches in. We went down to the basics and started to address it on the lunge line before going back to the saddle, with very good results.

My nephew also started to ride Annie more, which was super cute.

I went back to my regularly scheduled rides and ended up having some awesome hacks and even better rides in the arena. We started to play with counter-canter, which is fun and exciting since trying to get Annie to just canter on the correct lead without switching felt unattainable.

Whoa there, wild mare.
I addressed the importance of having a supportive team backing you, especially ones that actually believe in you. Horses are hard enough on their own - having good friends who can give you a shoulder to cry on is a necessity!

September wouldn't be complete tho without celebrating mine and Spud's anniversary - this year was number four :)

We hacked a lot in September, as well as worked diligently on the property, and I managed to haul Spud into town and drive him on some of the better maintained trails. It was fun to let the pressure off and just enjoy ourselves!


Happened in September but blogged about in October (forever and ever amen!) - Heidi came out with her Spanish mare and we had some fun riding together!! Heidi even hopped aboard and gave me some good fodder for thought. It was neat to have someone else ride her and give their impressions and helpful advice!

Navarro, and Annie!

I dabbled a bit into clicker training, which was actually pretty fun and I started to incorporate it into both of my horse's training regimes.

Never fear, we did manage to get some intense schools in still, but had more fun jumping over a half-rotten log in the middle of the meadow! It served as a good training tool to remind Annie to pick up her feet, esp as we did simple changes. Of course, I also realized just how dark it starts to get in the early evening, which put a damper on a lot of after work rides. It was alright though, because I did manage to get in some more trail riding time with a friend - and Annie was super!

We chugged along for a better part of October, as I realized that soon winter would be here and I wouldn't be able to ride. So, I kicked my butt into gear and we got back into the ring! Of course, that isn't all we did, as we still managed to hit trails, hack around some construction, and chased a runaway Spud who escaped the arena after getting caught scarfing down treats I had in my hoodie pocket.
Another clinic, another lesson!
And boy we got a lot of lessons this year!
Our very last clinic of the year happened in October, and was with Anthony once again. Annie was a bit of a butt and was refusing to stand quietly, but I imagine it was moreso to do with the fact we hadn't hauled anywhere in over three months. She warmed up great until she didn't and we had another discussion about her cross-firing. She got over herself though, and I was proud of myself for dealing with it on my own as we warmed up before our lesson. The lesson was pretty good, although Annie once again felt kinda sucked back and sticky. She came alive once we started jumping though and actually dragged me to quite a few fences, which felt awesome!

I posted a silly "How To" post on getting a conformation photo - don't laugh, I still have to trick her with a carrot to this day in order to get a decent one! I also got stuck in a torrential down-pour with N and AJ, who at one point in the ride, said "It isn't raining that hard!"... and then it completely poured on us.

Oh sweet Ella <3
October also broke my heart in a lot of ways... as we tragically lost our sweet Ella dog. Life is so very precious, and I am still reeling over her loss. It has impacted me in ways I didn't consider. Thankfully, when I was ready, Annie was there to give me a handful of good rides and quality time to brighten my spirits.


In an effort to continue catching up with my blog, I wrote about some rides that happened in October, before Ella passed away. It was hard to write about, but I pressed forward to share the happy memories. The post features riding with a friend who comes up a few times a year and happily drives Spud. I also attempted riding side-saddle in my jump saddle and almost biffed it trying to trot.

As the seasons changed, I managed to do a final catch up on our October rides once and for all. Our last ride for October was Hallowe'en, wherein we rode home bridleless once again.

I took the time to recount some things Annie finally can do, after months and months of repetition. Most hilariously, it took her nearly a year to understand how to pull a bit into her mouth when being offered. Oh, Bannie.

A few readers noted my different writing style, so I addressed it in a blog-post. Basically, young horses are young horses - they'll make you pull your hair out on the best of days, but it's important to not let it get to you too much. Not taking things personally has been a huge step towards being a better horsewoman, and I feel better about stacking the good things together vs always letting the bad things drag me down. Most things in life are temporary - the baby horse shit is one of them!

Everything was so green... it's insane!
In November I also celebrated my birthday, and was able to ride on that day! I can't remember the last time I was actually able to ride on my actual birthday! We had an unfortunate run in with some disrespectful 4x4'ers but it didn't damper the entire ride and both horses were super!

We also hand-walked around a children's playground that was recently erected - I momentarily thought we had ruined the footing, as it is a spongy texture and with Annie's weight it bowed considerably. Thankfully, we didn't, and Annie was good about being led around all the play structures!


The first post for December was revisiting our 2018 season - the shows, outings, lessons, etc. The infographic was actually really painful to make, haha, and took me the better part of five hours. Ick.

The frozen ground - it took a while for it to snow this year!
Since then, the horses have been more or less relegated to Winter Mode - I blogged about the last few rides I managed to squeak in and our awesome farrier appointment back in November. Which finally means I got all caught up on my ride recaps - just in time for the year to be over, haha!

As December continues, we don't have much else planned. Snow has touched down and I did manage to get in a bareback ride in the back paddock. Annie was kinda hot and antsy, but cooled it after some walking exercises. I will say that I am not used to riding bareback though, because my groin is screaming in agony! It was a decent ride, and I hope to get a few more in if the weather allows. The streets are slick with ice, so until they are fully clear and salted, we won't be venturing outside of the safety of the barn and paddocks. Of course, I still intend to do in-hand work where possible. But for now, both horses are seemingly enjoying the time off and I already can't wait for Spring.

A wintery wonderland bareback ride that made my
adductors cry in pain for the next two days.
It's been a heck of a year - as we have a few more weeks to close on December, I hesitate to truly call this blog post finished. A proper, and final salute to 2018 will be made and published closer to the end of December ;)