Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Planning Mode 2019

Every year (around this exact time, actually) I start planning events and outings for the upcoming riding season. Since I started this blog, Winter-time has always been a source of involuntary down time - without proper amenities (indoor) to keep the horse's going through our relentless season of snow and ice, it's just a fact of living up in the North.

This year I hung up my bridle no differently than in previous years, promising the various buckles and stitches that it would soon again feel the ripple of horse-flesh and salty taste of sweat. It was a bittersweet moment, knowing sporadic rides would be on the agenda for the next few months. But at the same time, I kind of welcomed the down time, as Annie in particular really seemed to need it. We did quite a bit of riding last year - over 500km was actively logged (not including the rides I didn't log). And with the amount she seemed to have grown, I'm a bit grateful Winter let her have the time to expand outwards and upwards as needed.

The day it warmed up enough that both horses
had the zoomies for a whole... 2 minutes haha.
It has been a bit different this Winter though, as the weather has been pretty abnormal. Our usual snow-storms have not come to fruition, and instead, frigid, sub-zero temperatures have gripped the better portion of Northern BC (Northern Canada to be honest). While the sun is shining and copious amounts of Vitamin D are streaming through our windows, the icy cold wind immediately chills you to your bones. It does not make clambering aboard your Bored to Tears Horse-beast seem like a very inviting option, especially considering the outdoor is a sheet of compacted snow and ice. So, our only option is toodling... And truth be told, simply sitting atop a horse does not invite as much warmth as active riding does!

And so, we hand walk to keep all parties moving and thus, warm.

It was a beautiful [cold] Saturday this past weekend!
Through the last week or so,  I have started to compile a list of the events and activities that have peaked my interest. Previously, I used to write down any and all events, letting all these little activities flutter around my yearly calendar. This year, I have narrowed it down to only events I'd consider partaking in. The ability to tailor my calendar to suit myself and my horses is important, especially since some of the events I'd like to attend are a bit of a drive.

In that vein, I am taking a more open-minded approach and keeping in line with my goals of not really committing to a hard value of lessons, shows, or events. This year is about enjoying myself and the horse I shaped (with the help of other professionals, of course!) - I didn't take the opportunity to enjoy the road as we traveled it together, and this year especially I'm looking forward to forging a more meaningful relationship with Annie. Spud and I took a few years to get there, which seems to be par for the course, so I'm looking forward to this year with Annie!

Planning in previous years only seemed to evoke a sense of failure, because although I managed to go to 6 events, I hadn't managed to attend the remaining 15 on my list. By choosing to not really commit myself to X amount of shows, or only A, B and C clinics at X date, it gives me a lot of breathing room to just enjoy the damn horse and work on any little details that may be requiring a little more attention.

Annie: "We weren't just cuddling."
Spud, smirking: "Oh yes we were."
Plus, any event-planners will know that just because it's scheduled to run, doesn't mean there will be enough interest or available riders (and horses!) to make the cut. Living up in the North, it's something we kind of have to accept.

In addition to all of that, any far-off planning doesn't really work with my current lifestyle - working in construction means there is a non-structured work schedule that ebbs and flows as contracts and jobs come and go. And like Emma stated in her newest blog post: plans with horses are better off written in pencil.

So while it's a monstrous list, I have kind of accepted that we won't make it to everything and don't intend to run myself dry trying. Of course, there are a few things I am pushing harder than the rest to attend, as always ;)

Fun Events
Driving Trials
Riding Shows

April 5 – 7
Carmie Flaherty Clinic
April 12 – 14
Anthony Lothian Clinic
April 20th
Percent Days/ CRD
May 10 -12
Carmie Flaherty Clinic
May 11
Percent Days/ CRD
May 17 – 20
BS and Drive
70 Mile
May 24 – 26
Karen Ladies Camp
Burns Lake
June 8
Percent Days/ CRD
June 14 – 16
Anthony Lothian Clinic
June 14 – 16
Dale Irwin Clinic
Burns Lake
July 5 – 7
Carmie Flaherty Clinic
July 13
Percent Days/ CRD
July 26 – 28
Anthony Lothian Clinic
July 26 – 28
FDT Jackpot
70 Mile
August 3
Dressage Show
August 4 – 5
Lynda Ramsey Dressage Clinic
August 9 – 11
Anthony Lothian Clinic
August 16 – 18
Dale Irwin Clinic
Burns Lake
August 21 – 25
Bulkley Valley Exhibition
August 31 – September 1
Totem Saddle Club Fall Fair
September 7th
Percent Days/ CRD
September 21-22
Back to Back Driving Trials
70 Mile
September 27 – 29
Carmie Flaherty Clinic

It is a pretty daunting list at first glance (especially noting the amount of activity in July and August), but it is more or less a list of categorized options. Long time readers will note that I have included some clinics that are not necessarily close to home - these ones I'm pretty excited for!!

I've always wanted to attend Trainer K's Ladies Camps but have never had the time, funds, or (let's just be real about this) lady balls to attend. This year, I feel like it's an attainable goal and I think it will be a great opportunity to further prep Annie for shows away from home. She's pretty good with the one-day shows, but readers will remember the anxiety she had being stalled at the BVX in 2017. Sending Annie for training at Barn C was done in part to help her get more acquainted and used to stalling (since it is not something we do at home), and she handled it really well. If I want to go to more overnight shows, doing clinics where I can actually get help and receive valuable input is the best place to be! Plus, there won't be the stress of showing on top of everything else!

All this being said, as much as this is a blog post, it is also a tidy little list of the going-ons in the area for me to refer back to and make changes as additional clinics get added, cancelled, and rescheduled, (because the year has just started!).

^ Enjoy the above video of Annie allowing her inner-Thoroughbredness
to awaken and just as quickly, her Quarter Horse side taking over, haha.
Also note Spud, who is just the sassiest thing in the world.

I am hard set on a few things and will work hard to try and make those particular stars align. And yes, readers will notice I have included (yet again!) driving trials. While I don't think Spud will be ready for the one in May, it's pencil written in the plans to attend the July Field Driving Trial. I actually thought I would have to scrap the idea of attending, as the previous person who hosted these decided late last year he no longer wanted to. Thankfully, someone else has offered their facility so the trials are back on! I do have to remember that wild-fire season has prevented me from attending the later in the year dates two years in a row, so the July date would be perfect since the smoke and fires tend to get quite bad in the beginning of August.

So that's where we are so far. Nothing really concrete and nothing really set in stone - it's more about flexibility in the methodology of achieving our goals and allowing deviations to happen without throwing in the towel. I am a very precise planner, and it kinda overtook my horsey addiction for a while... I'm learning it's OK to not go to a clinic and instead go to the beach with friends I haven't seen in a while. Or instead of scheduling rides as "this has to be a Dressage ride" I'm totally OK revamping that plan when I get in the saddle and feel like plodding through the BC wilderness.

It's funny how horses give us so many lessons in life that have nothing to do with being in the saddle.

This year, I'm finally listening.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

An Update of Sorts

Well Blog-Land, it's been a hot minute.

There isn't necessarily anything new to report, aside from the fact we are still fiercely gripped in the claws of a cool arctic front. Thankfully, it appears to be lifting, but we still won't see any numbers on the positive side of the Celsius scale for a few more weeks.

Rest assured, the horses are bundled as needed and everyone is as happy as they can be given the circumstances. During the afternoons it warms up significantly and the horses stand longingly at the fence, and sometimes attempt to trot or gallop on the very hard, frozen snowy ground. Unfortunately, the bursts of energy don't last long, as both horses are physically uncomfortable trying to play across uneven rock-hard ice/snow. 

The other day I watched Annie go down for a roll, and I visibly cringed as she tried her hardest to roll on a section of hard snow that had been traipsed through several times. The edges of the snow did not budge and I could see the frustration in my mare's eyes as she hopped up, squealed, and attempted to take off trotting in annoyance.

The frozen wasteland of poo and snow.
You can see the little craters in the snow from where they
had walked weeks ago. It's very hard and uncomfortable.
Jamie and I discussed re-arranging the barn a little bit next year to allow the horses to utilize one of the 6 stalls. I was given free reign of three of them - the other three are used as storage for the BO and her husband. Of the three stalls one is my tack room, one is hay storage, and the third is general storage (Spud's cart, hoses, extra fence rails, tarps for hay, etc). In the past, the remaining two stalls were used for hay, as I hadn't been buying round bales at the time.

So, we'll see what we can do for next year. Right now it's not a high priority of mine to change over the stalls and move things around in -20C weather, especially since the stalls will require a pretty thorough walk-down to ensure no nails are sticking out, boards are sturdy, door latches are sturdy, etc. So, Summer project! 

Returning from a frigid walk.
I had plans on hauling out to the indoor to let the horses stretch their legs, but there is a risk of snow fall in the next coming weeks that make me leery. Let's not forget, I also have to somehow dig my trailer out of the frozen snow surrounding it and insure it before we even get as far as hauling somewhere!

We have been able to keep somewhat busy tho - I did manage a really wonderful ride on Annie back in mid-January, and have been able to hand walk both horses a handful of times. I try to hand-walk once or twice a week, weather/time/mental capacity (lol) pending. They're quite bored and happy when we do go out, so I try to keep them as busy as I can.

It was in the pouring rain, but we wore our neon pink
quarter sheet and all was OK with the world.

Or maybe it was fun for me and only me... lol

That apple bottom could only belong to one Potato!
Other than that, I've been pretty busy with the new addition to the family (Why did no one remind me how much work puppies are?) and full time work and school. It's a bit of a hectic life and at times I feel like I'm being swallowed whole and losing my mind (I had set down the wooden floor brush attachment when vacuuming the house and somehow it ended up in one of Jamie's work boots... uhm, what?). 

Anyways, just anxiously waiting for Spring and longer, warmer days that are sure to be around the corner. I feel a bit behind the mark, tho, because this time last year I had already done a clinic, Annie was in full training and I had already taken a few lessons from Trainer K. 

8 weeks vs 11.5 weeks.
Ah well, not much that can be done about the weather aside from longingly waiting for better days ahead :) 

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Growing Up

In regards to my last post - never fear, we are all OK. I didn't mean to startle anyone! No one was hurt and no implications of harm were there, but I have taken appropriate changes to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Things have been good for the past few weeks, so just keep us in your thoughts that things continue on the upward trend!!

Over the last few months, I've visibly noted some changes in Annie - and truth be told, they really surprised me. I mean, I see the horse every single day, so I imagine it's hard to see small increments of change - especially if the changes are subtle over time.

Especially when I noticed Annie starting to get a little weedy on me again. I stood there in the barn aisle, cursing to myself for getting a damned Thoroughbred - let's be honest tho, Annie is only half Thoroughbred so I can't even wholly blame it on the breed. Nothing had changed in her life that would cause weight loss, and once again I was reeling from feeling incompetent to care for this horse who clearly was experiencing some kind of medical issue.

Last year, the 75" lightweight wore HER a bit more than she wore it haha.

I reached out to our regular Vet and mulled over some ideas before trying out a round of ulcer medication. The medication didn't do anything tho, so I kinda just tossed that idea aside and bumped up Annie's feed intake. She's pastured with hay 24/7, and I've removed all extruded or highly manufactured feeds from her diet, and she hasn't been consistently ridden since uhm... October.

So what the fuck is happening, mare?!

Remember what I said about incremental changes?

Being hard to spot?


Things kinda started making sense when I realized Suzie's old hand me down 75" blankets were no longer fitting as nicely as they used to. In fact, whenever the sky let loose with precipitation (whether in the form of rain or snow), Annie's little butt peeking out from the blanket would get wet from the apple of her bottom, right down her thighs.

Someone's butt is poking out of this 75" heavyweight!
These blankets used to cover her pretty well, and it made me take pause and reconsider the weight loss.

Was she... growing?

Unfortunately, I have no solid data to go off of, because she was never officially sticked by her old owner or myself when I got her. I was told she was a compact 15-15.1 that should finish around 15.2. I measured her a few weeks ago and she is solidly hovering into 15.3 territory.

Pls do not make it to 16 hands, Annie! I bought you because you were little!!

I'd say she grew just a little bit...

This all being said tho, I've been looking back at pictures and referencing how tall I was standing next to her and uhm... there is a striking difference. I guess the chiro was right when she told me Annie will probably grow until she's 7-8.

Not only that, but I managed to ride Annie yesterday (Jan 24) and uhm... I do not remember having to lift my saddle that high... or looking UP at her back like that... or uhm... riding a giant fucking beast.

The good news is that her weight is finally playing catch up, and I've added a bit more to her diet to help with the growing pains and transition. It's interesting to me tho, because a lot of people figure after 4 a lot of horses are done growing upwards and will start growing outwards. Which, of course depends on the breed, as some warmbloods and Tbs aren't done until they are 5-6. But I figured coming up on her 7 year old year, we were firmly in the "this is how tall I'mma be forever now" camp.

I guess not.

What she looked like just a week ago ;)

Pls don't let her make it to 16 hands....

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Barn is a Sacred Place

Recently, my barn was the target of some unwelcome visits (mostly relating to the aforementioned "drama"). I had mistakenly assumed things had fizzled out enough to become irrelevant, and I was wrong in thinking this. Despite everything that has gone on, I still am trying to remain unaffected and unchanged by it.

Of course, with this being a horse blog, I don't aim to write about theatrics and drama outside of the wooden walls of my barn. But as fate would have it, the wooden walls became a plagued place. Or rather, attempted to become one.

When I discovered my barn was "visited" without my consent or approval, my very first reaction was white, hot rage.

And for good reason.

The barn is my safe space.

Where I go to get away from the angst and commotion of every day life.

It's where I go to recharge my soul and balance myself.

To connect myself with nature, animals, and unplug from technology.

The fact it was threatened was difficult for me to process. My horses are more than just a hobby. They are a huge piece of who I am and how I define myself as an individual.

For someone to come and attempt to remove the peace and happiness I feel out there was a very low blow.

Being a self-boarder, as well as having the barn tucked around the corner of the house, my horses interactions with people are limited to myself and the barn owner (who has mobility issues and does not often venture far past the length of her driveway). These animals depend on me for their welfare and safety, and that is not something I am willing to bargain with or let slide.

I've taken great measures to preserve the safety and serenity in my barn. What was simply a stone tossed into my pond reverberated back to the stone-thrower as a tsunami. I do not, and will not take chances at the expense of my animals.

A lot of preventative measures have been put in place to not only promote the safety of my animals, but to also preserve the peace I feel there. It took a lot of deep breathing and realignment work to right myself and feel at ease walking through the barn aisles again.

The happiness and peace the barn typically brings me is starting to flood back, and though I know this bumpy road is not yet over, I will not let the power of fear and suggestion to rule me. I won't give it the satisfaction.

Not now. Not ever.

Despite the bitterly cold temps, Cedar met Annie for the
second time. He was not a fan, haha, but Annie tried hard to
say hello, as well as eat the pom-poms on my toque!

*This post will most likely be removed after a period of time. I don't want this blog to become a sounding board for things unrelated to riding and my animals, but I just needed somewhere to write. To let my emotions flow across the screen and to feel heard. Things will get better and do not fear, my horses are safe and secure - moreso than they ever have been. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who reads my blog, comments, and offers a shoulder to lean on. My friends and family have been exceptionally helpful through this entire ordeal and I draw a great deal of strength on their wisdom and love. Just remember that no matter who you meet - someone always has something going on in the background. Everybody has something they are dealing with. Be kind <3

Note: Nothing was damaged, horses were untouched, nothing was stolen. The fact that someone went there to try and cause more issues is moreso what I am writing about*