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Monday, 11 September 2017

Breadcrumb


I have more thoughts about the custom saddle to discuss but first I have to share some happy news about Apollo…

Let me back up a little bit! 

I’ve owned Apollo for 10 years.  Sporadically throughout that time he’s been hard to catch.  I think once a horse learns that behavior it will always sort of be in there.  He had very little contact with humans in his first 8 years of life so it’s not exactly shocking.  It’s kind of his “go-to” if I’m not very consistent in my riding schedule or if our communication has broken down in the saddle.   Also if I’m in a huge rush or very stressed out he senses that and runs away from me and the dark rain cloud over my head.  I’ve learned a lot of catching horses, keeping emotions in check, bribery (hah) and horse behavior from his hard to catch habit – so part of me is grateful for that. 




When he got back from training with RK he was pretty much the worst he’d ever (except for that one time that it took me like 7 hours to catch him…).  Shortly after he returned I broke my nose.  I was extremely crabby and in pain.  I decided that catching him was not an urgent issue, although I did manage to get a leather halter onto him eventually.  I kept the leather halter on longer than I normally would have because I just because I knew my stress levels were out of whack and I still wanted to be able to grab him for health check/grooming/flymask/flyspray reasons at the very least. 


He's been great in my lessons with ST and really seems to respond well to her suggestions for us



A few weeks ago I finally decided that we could ditch the leather halter for good. 

The most I’ve ever gotten from him is that he’ll see me and walk over.  90% of the time he just stares at me and waits for me to come over.  I give him a cookie right after I put his halter on to re-inforce that having your halter put on is pretty much the greatest.  When the baby horses moved into his pasture he’d sometimes walk over (and receive a cookie) but he would never leave the herd and follow us in.

And what did he do on Tuesday? 

He followed me in with Henry. 

Henry was not a fan tho


I was only planning to catch Henry because he had a saddle fitter appointment and I only had one halter.  I figured he’d follow us halfway and then turn around.  Nope he came to the gate.  So I caught him and gave him a cookie.  He came in supervised the saddle fitter appointment. 

This year has not been my favorite so far but I am taking this as a breadcrumb that I'm finally on the right path with Apollo.  So that's my happy news :)  Maybe it's not awesome satin but it's a pretty huge win!

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Custom Saddle Angst


I had my appointment with the custom saddler last night for Henry.  She could see why we’d had trouble finding something for his long wither and my long body. 


She suggested the Equipe Grand Prix for us (it has the longest pommel) and said we were very lucky that I fit well into a 17.5 because there wouldn’t be a ton of room if I needed an 18 because of his short-ish back.  She thought the standard flap wasn’t horrible on me, but definitely agreed that I needed a long flap. 


Pretty <3




I had a quick ride in it.  Being back in a saddle again was weird.  But I really liked this one.  I didn’t hear angels singing or have earth-shattering moments of “OH MY GOD IT’S SO WONDERFUL” but mostly I felt secure but didn’t really notice it was there… which I liked.  I could focus on trying to steer Henry, the baby noodle horse, who randomly forgot how to steer/horse for part of this ride.  He seemed to move nicely in it, didn’t get quite as giraffey at his trot transitions as he did in the amerigo. 


Bareback hobo no more?




I like the style and look of the saddle as well.  Sort of had an understated classy vibe.  The saddle's turnaround time is currently 5 weeks (although they do have a reputation for being very slow).  The estimated arrival time would likely be towards the end of October.


I was feeling pretty keen to order one but decided to sleep on it. 


Driving home from the barn I started to freak out a bit.  My freak out was about two main factors.  You can tell me if I’m being a nut or not about this….


  1. Money.  Omg that is so much money.  My husband agreed to let me use some of the money from my car accident to get a saddle (and when the Amerigo sells those funds will go back towards a car).  But the amount I’m taking out of the car fund is only the down payment for a custom saddle.  Which leaves me two months to come up with the remaining balance.  I thought it would take a lot longer for the saddle to arrive (and it still might) so I figured I would have three to four months to scrape that much cash together.  Which is apparently not the case.

     
    It’s just a lot of money.  I haven’t even got a haircut in over a year, my roots are so long my hair is ombre.  I’m not a very spendy person and a purchase like this gives me huge anxiety.  Recent vet bills have made me extra nervous about spending.
     
  2. Is the saddle the solution? So a big part of the reason for a custom saddle is that I believe that H’s Amerigo caused him to buck.  Other sources (saddle fitters, bodyworker and my coach ST) have supported this idea but it’s impossible to know for sure.  It would be nice to know that he has something that fits him perfectly.
     
    I am trying to attack this problem from all sides (working on my own fitness/riding skills and also have quit my part-time job for more saddle time).  But what I get him a perfect custom saddle and he launches me again?  How devastating would that be?  And then what? 

 

I really wanted to have fun trying out new fancy saddles but the part of me that’s trying to be a grown-up just isn’t having it.  I don’t think my previous custom saddle nightmare (the DK) helped matters either.




My current plan is to see how much money I can save up on my own before I fully commit to a custom saddle.  I will see how things are going in October and go from there. 


I am planning to get that treeless saddle soon (still waiting for my refund on the ADT saddle) and that might be an OK interim solution for Henry as we build his fitness back up again. 


Hey anyone want to buy one of my kidneys? :P

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Standing Outside the Fire


I had a fantastic/insanely busy weekend!  It was a long weekend from my full-time job but I had three remaining shifts at my part-time job to finish up. 





I am happy to report that I have officially folded my last gym towel!



I was very spoiled to have a puppy visit from my new dog nephew, Ernie!  He is the cutest pup ever and is amazingly well-behaved. 

Ernie + Molly = Love



My college roommate was in town for a bit and she came out to visit my ponies with her husband.  It was so wonderful to see her again, it's been too long!

Henry basking in the attention 




I also got to see Garth Brooks.  Which was a lifelong dream.  I was on my feet dancing for most of the concert.  So many of Garth’s songs were the soundtrack to family roadtrips and hauling horses to Pony Club lessons.  There are many happy memories tied to those songs.


I caught feels and cried during “Standing Outside the Fire”, which has always been an inspiration song for me. 





I had a fantastic lesson with ST on Monday!  We are still doing the timeshare between Apollo and Henry.  I was a bit worried about Apollo as he was a little stiff on our last ride, but he felt fantastic!  Henry was a very good sport and I am getting back into the groove with sitting his bouncy trot. 

Apollo has randomly trained himself to ground tie, which is handy for photos!




In other happy news - it turns out that I grabbed the wrong saddle from Coach D’s to try on my horses.  We were able to swap on the weekend for the one that is actually for sale.  That saddle fits Mystic like it was made for her.  So 1/3 of my horses has a saddle now.  WTF YAY!  I also cantered Mystic for the first time in ages, she was a little crowhoppy at first but was totally fine after I waited for her to be more balanced/forward the next time I asked (fair enough).




What's up saddle



I will be picking up the treeless this week (depending on when I finally get my money back from the saddle I had on trial) so that will be for Apollo, and Henry if it fits him. 


Tonight is my saddle fitter appointment! Wish me luck :D

Friday, 1 September 2017

S is for Saddle



(and maybe September?)








I have some happy saddle news!  (Finally)



I found a treeless saddle that will be a good temporary solution for the herd.  I am about 99% sure it will work for Mystic and Apollo, I’m hopefully it will work for Henry too.  I should pick up my new treeless sometime next week woohoo!  I'm not a great lover of treeless saddles but this is a brand I've ridden in before (Sensation) that I do like and they seem to be just fine for trail riding.  Yay stirrups!




I’ve decided after much searching that I will be biting the bullet and ordering Henry his custom saddle this month.  I have an appointment with the fitter on Monday.  I may hold off on ordering until more of his topline returns (after the coughing/pneumonia fiasco) but I should have some more details to share after that.  He isn’t that hard to fit and I’m not that hard to fit but together we seem to be very tricky.  He has that whole short-ish back, long/high wither, prominent shoulders thing going on and I am very long (I’m 6 feet tall for the record).  I have found some used saddle that fit one of us, but not both.  And we both need to be comfy to continue our progress. 




I welcome any advice on custom saddling!  This will be my second time down this road in my life.  I learned a lot from the DK disaster and hope it get it right this time. 





Thank you to my husband for taking some photos for me last night! 





Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Reinstalling the Wheels


I had my first rides back on Apollo and Henry last Saturday in a lesson with ST. 

ST is very kind to let me split my hour between the two horses.  Which is great because they are both out of shape and Henry is recovering from pneumonia - so 30 minutes each is plenty.  The vet said Henry was ok to go back to work but to start slow and increase the cardiovascular work very gradually. 


 Good ponies <3


I started with Apollo and finished with Henry.  Apollo gets very antsy when he’s tied in the barn alone so it’s just easier (and I don’t have to hear the racket of him losing his shit) if I ride him first and then tie him in the arena when I ride Henry.  






Apollo has had a lot of time off!  I didn’t think I had ridden him since I got home from RK’s but ST reminded me that I’d sent her a pic of us riding so I guess I did at some point, I think when he first came home.  He was big into his hard-to-catch routine when he first got home that was followed by some tenderness so I would say he’s been off since the beginning of June (I know for sure I didn’t ride him after I broke my nose on June 10).  So about two and a half months off for him.  I’m sad to report that the saddle I was going to borrow/pay off from Coach D did not fit him (it was really crooked on him, not sure if it was him or the saddle but it was no bueno). 

He was a lot better than I expected in our lesson.  He was hot, sure, but he’s usually a lot ruder after that much time off.  His walk work was fabulous.  His trot was really nice in one direction and in the other (unbalanced) direction it wanted to be a canter really badly.  But no crowhopping or real shenanigans.  Our lesson was a reminder to me to half-halt and not pull.  When he’s hot I want to pull so badly but it just gets him more ramped up and gives him something to brace against. 


Beautiful sunset at the barn the other night






I rode Henry a few times bareback in July.  I was out of town twice and he developed a cough that later became pneumonia so I would estimate he had about a month off.  I ordered a saddle for him to try out but it sadly was too narrow. 

Too narrow in the shoulder but oh so pretty



I’ll be honest, I’m a little nervous after being bucked off three times to not have stirrups.  I think the saddle fit was a big contributor to the bucking but I’m still uneasy (which is understandable).  He’s been fine about being ridden bareback, even after a month off.  ST said he looked a little bug-eyed at first but he didn’t do anything silly. 

This lesson was a friendly reminder that I can’t sit his trot to save my life.  I warmly welcome any and all tips to help me out with this.  I know I will improve as I practice more but holy crap my internal organs have been re-arranged yet again. 


Who knew the highlight of my show season would be trotting a baby horse over poles


In both lessons I really wanted to tip forward.  ST gave me a good tip to think about lifting my chin when things get a bit hairy (somehow that makes me sit up properly).  I also want to hike my legs up when I transition to Henry, so I’ll have to remind myself to have “longer legs” when I ride him second.  I haven’t ridden them back-to-back in a really long time… and Henry feels so small to me after I ride Apollo.  Apollo is like riding a smooth picnic table.  Henry is like riding a bouncy 2x4.

This combo lesson was really the catalyst for me deciding to quit my part-time job.  I was so happy to have had a positive experience on my first rides back but when I started thinking about when I’d be able to ride next… it would be a while.  And that just doesn’t work for me.  I want to keep building on our positive momentum.  I also get more nervous the more time off I have, so that does me no favors. 


I am really excited to see where we'll all be in a month!

Monday, 28 August 2017

A Life


I made an exciting decision today, I've put in my two weeks notice at my part-time job! 

Currently I work 8-4 Monday-Friday at my full-time job and was doing my part-time job as a gym receptionist about 20 hours a week.  I’ve been doing about 60+ hours a week for about 5 years (with a few breaks) and I am so beyond exhausted/burned out at this point.


Official soundtrack of quitting your part-time job


I’m really happy about it, although it is bittersweet.  The financial benefits of that extra income will be greatly missed (so long venti cinnamon dolce lattes).  It also means that an acreage this year does not look hopeful, as my extra income did make a substantial difference to what we were able to afford mortgage-wise.  But since the condo hasn’t sold it doesn’t really matter. 

But for the good – I will have SO much more horse time!  And I won’t feel so rushed all the time anymore.  A lot of times I would pop out to feed and brush Henry and Apollo between jobs (in the two hour gap between 8-4 and 6-10) and lately multiple construction zones on my usual route have made that incredibly annoying.  It’s also really hard for me to have a social life as when I do have free time I’m cramming so much into it. 





I am so excited to get more sleep (I am ++crabby) and to be a better horse owner.   This is going to be a bit of a transition for me as I’m used to being incredibly busy all the time.  One of my friends asked me jokingly today “What are you going to do with yourself now?”  and I answered “I don’t know, maybe try to have a life!”


Zzzzzz


Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Acreage Hunters: Part Two + An Offer


I didn’t let a car accident, broken nose, horse pneumonia, and trips all over the country stop me from continuing to look at acreages!  Although I have to be honest, in our budget it continues to be sort of depressing/gross. 


The condo is still for sale and we will probably be taking it off the market for the winter if it doesn’t sell by October.  (Continued finger crossing on my behalf appreciated)



There are quite a few to recap!  Just a quick remind of my legends as referenced in the previous post:


Pricetag legend: 

$ - super affordable, like me working part-time affordable

$$ - In budget

$$$ - Would be a stretch, price would have to come down

 

Location legend:

& - super close, 30 mins and under to downtown

&& - drivable distance to downtown (30mins – 45mins range)

&&& - close to our maximum driving distance, which is 60 mins max from downtown

 

Acreage Number Five

Price tag: $$$

Location: &&&

Land size: 20 acres

Notes:  I found this property the moment it popped up online.  We booked an appointment with our realtor to see it right away (the price seemed very fair for the area, so we expected kind of a fixer-upper).   We found out that the sale was due to a divorce and the husband would likely be on the property.  And he was very angry that it was for sale.  He would only allow one showing a day. 

The angry husband was not present so that was a relief.  The house was a 70s build and looked nice on the outside.  The inside was disgusting.  It smelled like cat poop and had clearly not been vacuumed or dusted since it was built.  GROSS.  But good bones, so I tried to see past how icky it was in there. 

When we were in the living room we started hearing an echo on our voices.  I flipped up a blanket on the couch and we were being video RECORDED.  Like video/sound recorded with a tiny hidden camera in the bookshelf.  I was so mad.  That’s super creepy.  I was like, let’s leave now… but my husband convinced me to see the land.

Bird and homeowner are supervising you closely



The land was spectacular.  There was about 20 treed/fenced acres with a beautiful barn.

Ok… I guess I can handle that.  We strongly considered making an offer but hummed and hawed a bit as we knew it would be difficult for banks to finance over 10 acres.  In the end the second couple and third couple who saw it got into a bidding war over it.  
This property is now sold.



 

Acreage Number Six

Price tag: $$$

Location: &&&

Land Size: 10 acres

Notes: This house was so boring I can barely think about it without falling asleep.  It was 10 acres but was a long skinny piece of land, so the house was super close to three neighbors (like as close as houses in town).  The trees were incredibly dense and would have to be cleared for horses.  It just wasn’t for me.  Also I felt it was like 100,000 over-priced. So yeah no.

This house is still currently for sale.

My feelings on this property expressed by Spartacus


 



Acreage Number Seven “aka The Fun House”

Price tag: $$

Location: &&&+

Land Size: 6.5 acres

I was so freakin pumped to look at this place.  My husband’s main complaint about the little log house I liked was that it was too small, he didn’t mind doing work on a house but we needed more than 1000 sqft.  So I found this giant place (that was a little out of our preferred driving distance) but looked perfect in every other way.

When we pulled up there was a gigantic shop and I was sure he would be keen on it too.

Husband for scale



The inside of the house was not so good unfortunately.  It had an utterly bizarre floor plan and the floors were incredibly uneven (it was therefore dubbed “the fun house”).  I really wanedt to like it but the wonky floors and horrible floor plan were deal breakers. 

Is this the carpet from The Shining?



This house is still currently for sale. 





 

Acreage Number Eight

Price tag: $$$

Location: &&&

Land size: 4.8 acres

Notes:  We just tacked this one on after our showing of the “fun house” because it was like 1 km away.  I didn’t think the landsize would work and there were no photos inside (HELLO RED FLAG).

 

But surprise… the inside of the house was awesome!  Double attached garage and huge shop too.  We just couldn’t decide if we could make the landsize work for us because of the way the property was set up.  It was not fenced or set up at all for horses. 


#decent


This house was added to our maybe pile and we thought about having another look when we had more time (my husband was heading out to a camping trip so we couldn’t spend very long there).

 



Acreage Number Nine “aka My Heart House”

Price tag: $$

Location: &&

Land size: 10 acres

Notes:  I was OVER THE MOON when I saw this listing.  It was set up perfectly for horses and the house was adorable.  It had a huge quonset divided in half, one side was shop and the other side had two box stalls. I dragged my husband to see at 9am on a Saturday. 

 

I was home. 

<3



I had been really good about being more of a “bad cop” type on the other acreages we’d looked at (they mostly sucked so it wasn’t that hard).  When the realtor asked if we liked this place I honestly said this:

“I love it so much I want to live here forever, and then die here, and then be buried here.”

So yeah.  I guess you can tell that I liked it.

My husband thought it was OK haha.  He thought the house was a bit small (true) and the drive sucked.  He was more a fan of Acreage Number 8 (which was almost entirely on pavement and was more stylish and updated inside).

 


 


 

We decided to bring my parents out to give us their opinions on Acreage 8 & 9.

I figured they would side with my husband and be keener on Acreage 8, but they didn’t like it as much.  There was an addition the owner had done and they noticed some uneven spots, the owner was present for both viewings (which is legit awkward) and claimed to have nothing in the way of permits for the addition which is no bueno.

My parents thought Acreage 9, my heart house, was quite far away but did like the horse set up. 




They gave us some good notes and things to think about.

My husband and I talked about it and decided to make an offer on Acreage 9.  It would be conditional on the sale of our condo (which we didn’t think they would like).  Our offer was not accepted due to the condo sale condition.  But they encouraged us to come back again when it sold.  I checked every day when I got to work that the listing was still up.

And last week it was gone.  My heart house sold for 1000 dollars more than our offer.  What you are hearing right now is sound of my heart shattering.  It was dumb to get so attached to a house but I did.

 

 



We don’t have a whole lot of other options within our pricepoint/location/landsize restrictions.  So we will just have to wait.  There are three judicial sale/foreclosures that are for sale at the moment that we may explore further.  

If someone would buy the condo soon that would be swell.