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Monday, 11 June 2018

Adjustments


There have been a lot of changes recently.  The move is probably the biggest one.  My daily routine went out the window and I need to figure out how to fit the pieces back together.  I’m also adjusting to life with a possibly deaf horse, the idea of not buying an acreage this year, and working on improving my own mental/physical health.




I am all moved into my brother’s place as of last weekend.  This morning I had my first commute from my new temporary home.  It was long and annoying af. 

Le meow



A new 24/7 gym just opened next to one of my offices and I think a great solution will be to join and work out before my shift so hopefully the traffic won’t be as horrible.  Being a fitter human would be a nice side effect too.


I have the vet coming out next week to do yearly dental work on my herd and to give Apollo a thorough exam surrounding his suspected recent hearing loss.  I have taken two weeks off of lessons with ST to get the move finished but I should be back into my weekend lesson routine starting on Saturday.


My queen <3










I’ve recently deleted Instagram and snapchat.  Part of the reason is that my phone kept freezing up whenever I tried to use them (limited storage space available on my phone being the likely culprit). I may come back to them eventually but I’ve also recently decided to not spend so much time on my phone.  I find the news really depressing most of the time and I’m just trying to be more “present” in my life.  I lean on my phone as a distraction from awkward social situations, procrastinating important adult tasks and feeling bummed out (about not getting an acreage this year for example) when I need to work through that stuff instead.  This post over at Zen Habits was very eye-opening to me.   


There is totally nothing wrong with using social media and sharing fun pony photos (fun pony photos are the besttttt), but I’m just taking a bit of break.  This is why my blog will probably not be the greatest for media going forward unless my husband comes out to give me a hand :P


What even is this








I have put an email out to a local horse trailer company (who offers rentals) and once I figure out the costs I will be creating a bit more of a formal “summer horse schedule” for myself and the herd.  But here are a few things in the works at the moment:


June 24, 2018: Little Elbow Camp Ground (my friend found a lovely 4 hour loop somewhere near here that is ok for unshod ponies).  I will probably take Henry to this outing. 

July 7-8, 2018: Biomechanics Clinic (JLC).  I’m not sure if I will audit this or ride.  Will for sure attend either way and will ride in the clinic in the fall for sure.

July 14, 2018: Battle River Ride for STARS (hopefully with my good friend over at Autonomous Dressage) with Mystic, who should have a saddle by then.  If not, Henry you’re up.

September 15-16, 2018: Biomechanics Clinic (JLC)


There are so many other things I want to add to that list but I’m trying not to go too crazy until I know exact prices and availability for trailer rental.  I also want to save up for Mystic’s saddle and my own trailer so I can’t go too overboard.  There are some very affordable schooling shows I have my eye on too (although the dressage one I wanted to do only offers W/T tests to juniors…. Which is fair, but I kind of wanted a simple/easy outing as my horses don’t get out much haha). 

My herd hangs out together a lot now (which is new)




As a happy side note I have been running again, even with all the moving craziness and I am LOVING it.  I am so out of shape that I may die but my riding breeches are already fitting better.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Silent Languages



I think I may have found the answer to what caused Apollo's recent behavior issues, more detailed post here.


 


TLDR; he's been spooky af and just not himself (although recently he has improved a lot)


 




I worried about his vision, but now I think it's his ears not his eyes. 






I think my big boy is mostly deaf. 


 


I got the idea from my equine nutritionist during my consult yesterday.  Last night at the barn I snapped my fingers all around his head and he didn't react at all, didn't even turn an ear towards my hand.  Holy shit.










 


I have always thought he had some minor degree of hearing loss. Mostly because he doesn't wake up as easily from sleeping as the other horses.  My previous farrier was convinced he was deaf (like 7 years ago) because of how hard it was for me to wake up him once.  He did react to noise at that time so I didn't really think about it again.  I think this is a new development.  He is a medicine hat paint with blue eyes, which seem to be traits often associated with equine deafness.  But there could be an infection or trauma at the root of this as well.




 





I would love to hear suggestions or experiences regarding hearing impaired equines!  As mentioned he is doing much better lately but I am still going to have him checked out by a vet (just made an appt!). :)



Monday, 28 May 2018

Silver Linings


So we officially are delaying our acreage purchase until 2019 (possibly as early as January).  And a huge part of me is devastated. 


But there are some definite silver linings to this situation as well. 


This big dude is feeling/looking much better these days <3






For starters I can start to spend a little bit of money again (besides the small fortune I already spend on board X 3 haha) as we’ll be living pretty much rent-free with my brother.  I’m looking at doing a few fun shows in August, some trail rides with friends and some schooling with ST on the local cross country course.  I can’t go totally crazy with the spending but I won’t have to be quite so frugal.  I should be able to buy Mystic an actual saddle sometime in July.  I hope my dream saddle is still at the tack shop when I’m ready.  I’m planning to do some trailer rentals for the above-mentioned events, I can maybe pick up something of my own by the fall.





Besides spending money I can actually save money and pay off some remaining debt, I’m hoping to be 100% debt free before we buy our 2019 acreage.  And with an actual proper savings account for emergencies – my current account is pathetically piddly.  This will relieve a lot of stress for me.   And having a healthy savings account will be great for when we do buy our acreage, as I’m sure we will need to buy some additional furniture/horse supplies.





Because I will still be boarding my herd we have a little more freedom to do some traveling.  I actually sort of hate being away from home (but since I’ll be homeless… I guess maybe I’ll get over that).  I do like weekend trips so there will definitely be a lot of those.


Food pls hooman




I think what I appreciate most is now having a more clear idea of what my life will look like for the next 6-9 months, things have been feeling so up in the air.  Although it’s not exactly my preferred outcome I like being able to make a plan.


Expect to see more off-property pony adventures happening soon :D

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Canter

First off I wanted to say a giant THANK YOU to everyone for your helpful and supportive comments on my “Fear is a Sneaky Mofo” post.  I have been trying out many of the suggestions and will be writing a more detailed post shortly (I still have a few suggestions that I want to experiment with). 

Monday was also Henry’s 6th birthday!

Happy bday buddy!




I am feeling much less anxious about riding Henry, like a 5 out of 10 versus my 307 out of 10 before.  Riding my little wave of bravery I am happy to report that I have finally cantered him again (for the first time since I broke my nose in June 2017 and then rode him bareback for 7 months).  I just wanted to quickly summarize my first canter back and my most recent lesson with ST.  Also have a few small life updates to share.

I had my official first canter back on Sunday, May 20th.  I’ve been doing a lot of freelunging in the past month and he’s very obedient to the “kiss” sound for canter.  He showed up with an especially forward floaty trot on Sunday and I decided it would be foolish not to try it. 




I committed to my departure location, sat tall, put my outside leg back and “kissed”.  And we trotted at warp speed for most of the long side hahah!  I cued again and we then glided into a lovely canter.  I praised him x 1 million.  And quietly asked for a trot after.  I decided to try once more.  He cantered immediately but either picked up the wrong lead or was crossfiring behind so I rewarded the prompt canter response and decided to leave our future canter work for our lesson the following day (when ST could give me tips). 

At my lesson the following day we did more cantering (and actually did both directions! With correct leads!).  ST was really happy with him and I was able to keep him cantering for longer.  She did have to remind me to keep breathing and not to brace through my shoulders/arms so much. 


H was recently an unimpressed guest at a black and white dog party

 
I rode Mystic as well and she was fantastic as usual, we are still saddleless so focus a lot on transitions and correct bend.  She felt just a bit off to me at the start but seemed to warm out of it.  ST mentioned she was stepping just a little bit shorter on her left hind than her right.  Luckily I had already booked a chiro visit for the herd next weekend so hopefully I can get her feeling 100%.


Good lesson ponies <3



For two little random life updates…

I applied to school program that I can take through correspondence without having to leave my job.  I find out on June 1st if I got in or not (if I didn’t get it this year it’s not the end of the world and I will try again this year).  There have big changes at my current job and I don’t like the direction things are moving.  This has contributed in a major way to my current stress levels.  With this new training I can have a change of scenery (after doing the same job for 12 years, although sometimes I was part-time) and a pay raise.  This is my exit strategy, sooner than later would be a good thing.


I’m still waiting to hear about our acreage budget… it didn’t sound very positive unfortunately.  We may wait until next year to purchase, which is disappointing but not the end of the world.  I’m doing ok with it (but I’m not saying I didn’t sob while listening to Purple Rain the entire car ride home from the mortgage broker’s office…).  If we decide not to buy this year we will definitely do some travelling, possibly Europe, in the fall. 
 
I am sitting over here, crossing all my crossables and hoping good news in the next few weeks.  Either way I am a cantering fiend, so I got that going for me. :P 


Monday, 14 May 2018

Big News

I cannot believe the words I am about to type.





THE CONDO IS SOLD!






Possession for the new owners is June 15th.  Which means I will only be living at the condo for another 31 days!  I have never sold a house before and I feel like there about a million things to do (starting with a formal pre-approval so we can begin acreage shopping with a more specific budget).






The plan for now is to move in with my brother while we shop and continue to save up money.  We will be living there rent-free but it's quite far from my office and the barn. 


It still hasn't totally sunken in yet but I am thrilled to be moving on to the next step of my 2018 checklist:


1) Sell condo
2) Buy acreage
3) Be happy




WOOHOO!!! :D




Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Fear is a Sneaky Mofo


2018 has seen me struggle with fear issues a lot more than I’d like. 









I’m naturally kind of a worrier but I find if I keep myself busy I manage okay.  Working less hours these past 6+ months (like doing a normal 40 week instead of the 60+ weeks I was doing for the majority of the last five years) definitely caused a bit of a spike in my anxiety levels.  Before I had such small windows of time that I would make myself push through blah days or nervous days and get my butt in the saddle (or on the bareback pad haha).


And now with my freedom to delay rides to “tomorrow” I find I listen a little too much to the voice that says “you can’t do this”. 





I’ve also had quite a few stops and starts with riding this year, which is also something that’s a trigger for fear in me.  I find that once I’ve had about two weeks off I am mostly convinced that I don’t know how to ride at all anymore.  Between twisting my ankle, death flu, doing condo renos, death cough and possibly breaking my foot about a week and a half ago…. Fear has been sneaking in.


I am never afraid to ride Mystic.  I literally hopped on her from my truck tailgate and rode her bareback in a hayfield bordering the transcanada highway on the windiest day I have ever seen in my life last week.   She isn’t a robot or anything, she has opinions!  But I feel really safe on her.


I am unfortunately struggling with Henry.  He has been a very good boy since he got his new saddle and for the 6 months before that when I rode him bareback.  He has always come back into work after a week or two (or a month!) off really sensibly.  He’s a young horse who has green moments occasionally but he really tries his best and isn’t terrifying to ride by any stretch of the imagination.  So the fear doesn’t seem to be rooted in a logical place.


<3



I took him for his first ride on the lawn (first ride outside since May 2017 when the bucking started) last week and he didn’t put a foot wrong.  I also forced myself to ride him last Thursday on a particularly stressful day and he was 100% an angel and totally took care of me.  But I am still terrified.  When I was mounting up on the front lawn my legs were shaking so hard I could barely stand up.  Once I’m in the saddle I actually feel pretty good.  I feel really secure in my new saddle.  Once I’m riding I don’t feel very nervous at all, which is odd.  I do sometimes get chills up my spine (and probably get tense) in the part of the arena that I broke my nose in.  But it’s the lead up to the ride that seems to be unnerving to me.  A few times I have had him all tacked up and then I can’t bring myself to hop on so I lunge or do groundwork instead. 


Outdoors again!



When my lesson with ST rolled around last weekend I decided just to ride Mystic.  I was running behind schedule and she was waiting at the gate.  I had been having a very stressful day (related to real estate, hopefully will have good news to share soon) and I decided it would be a better call to just have one horse to manage.  Henry and Apollo shared their lesson slot very well.  Mystic is a lot more impatient about being tied alone and it just requires more management and horse shuffling (so she can get some patience practice without destroying the barn). 



We had a fantastic ride!  There was a little boy who was playing with a clunky little tractor in the arena sand at one end and Mystic didn’t even look at him (12 good pony points awarded).  We focused on straightness and getting her stretching into the contact.  She isn’t exactly on the bit now but I can get to her a really nice balanced feeling ride with the proper length of reins and bit of guidance from ST.  We trotted some poles, did some figure 8s and she felt like a fancyyyyyy dressage pony. 


At the end of our ride I told ST I was really struggling with fear around riding Henry.  I explained that he’s been very well-behaved for me but that I am still anxious about riding him.  She suggested writing positive notes for myself after every good ride on him with a focus on what we did that was correct/brave.  She thought that would help cement the positive memories in my brain.  And then if I had a bad ride I could look at the evidence from our previous good rides and not be as worried about it.





She also said that riding is supposed to fun and there is no shame in selling him if he’s not a fit for me.  She told me about a few people who had wrecks/falls from horses who were very good horses (just bad circumstances/timing) but they weren’t able to ride those particular horses again because of the past baggage.  She said that she thinks Henry is a good boy and reminded me that it was likely saddle fit that caused the bucking issues (but acknowledged that it would be difficult to trust him 100% after that).  I am SO grateful for ST, I was kind of preparing myself for her to call me a pathetic baby or something but I think her advice is really kind and fair.    


I am going to try ST’s “Henry Gratitude Journal” idea and see if that helps me chill the eff out a bit.  As mentioned there are some other stressful things going on in my life and I think that’s really amplifying my current anxiety levels.  I took a few online courses about overcoming fear in the saddle and I think I will spend some times re-reading those materials.  I also could do with a re-read of “That Winning Feeling” which has really helped me before.  I’m going to commit to a more regular riding schedule and maybe bring my husband along to help keep me accountable to it (he loves standing in a dusty arena taking photos of me bahahah).


I really want to fix this as I've loved this horse since he was six months old <3



Anyone have any tips for managing fear? 


Part of me feels really embarrassed to discuss this but I hope that thinking/writing about it will help me overcome it.   

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Acreage Hunters: The New List



The condo has been back on the market since March 8, we’ve had a lot more showings and positive feedback so far - so things are looking fairly hopeful that we will sell it this year (good vibes still accepted and appreciated!). 







This pony turns 19 today! He will be breaking up this wall of text to celebrate
(Also I am so stylish 10 years ago)


We have decided not to look at any acreages until we have an offer on the condo.  Just to avoid the hassle/heartbreak we experienced last year when I fell in love with a place but the owners weren’t ok with our condition of selling the condo (which is totally fair).





We learned a lot last year in our search and have a better idea of what we’re looking for/can actually afford.   Our “must have” and “nice to have” lists for acreages when we started looking were pretty ridiculous for our budget, and also not very specific… I think we honestly thought we’d actually be looking at nice houses in our budget (the universe said: BAHAHA homie no).  I don’t even think we made a proper list but it would have looked something like this:

 

2017 Must Haves

  • 3 acres or more
  • Newer built home, preferably 2000 or newer (omg were we drunk…)
  • Within 45 minutes to downtown

2017 Nice to Haves

  • Set up for horses
  • Nice garage/shop

 

What did we learn in our first year of acreage searching?  A lot. 





For starters 3 acres is not even enough for one horse according to a lot of county bylaws.  We read soooo many bylaws, there are four counties that we are looking in and they are all a bit different.  A lot of acreage owners told us that the bylaws aren’t usually enforced unless your horses are visibly starving but I still wanted to know if we were within the rules.  I also have giant horses and would really like 10 acres, but would be happy with 6 acres or more.  I had a hard time seeing how our horses would fit and not destroy the grass forever on places that were 3 or 4 acres.  That said some areas that have better grazing than others (we looked at quite a few places that were east, where the soil is quite dry). 





I was surprised that so many homes only had one bathroom… I live in a condo with only one bathroom (and it can be super annoying) so I didn’t even think I’d need to put that on my list.  I also found a lot of properties were really close to their neighbor, which isn’t a deal breaker but it seems weird to move out to the country and put your house as close to your neighbor’s house as they do in the city. 


The only thing that didn’t change much for me was I’d rather have no fences than falling down janky fences (which I said to our realtor before we even started looking).  A lot of places that were “set up for horses” according to their ad .... but were only set up for horses if you wanted your horse to live in a barbwire deathtrap with falling down fences … so yeah. 

Selfie hogger



My husband is also hoping we can avoid driving on a ton of gravel (which is maybe not super realistic, but some places certainly had less gravel driving than others).  We have both accepted we may need to drive an hour to get what we’re looking for.  My husband really hates bungalows and it seems like most places in the country are bungalows… but maybe that’s just the houses from the 1960s-1980s, which are the years of houses that seem to be in our budget.  If a split-level came up he would be pretty keen on it.

Here's what we've come up with for our Must Haves and Nice to Haves for 2018:


2018 Must Haves

  • 5+ acres ( depending on set up, would prefer 6-10 acres)
  • House not a trailer
  • More than one bathroom
  • 1200sqft +
  • One hour or less to downtown (a little wiggle room for the perfect property)
  • Some kind of garage and/or shop, it would be nice to have both but beggars can’t be choosers

2018 Nice to Haves

  • House not as old as dirt
  • Not too close to neighbors
  • Set up for horses with decent fencing
  • Split-level (or just not a bungalow)
  • Both: Attached garage (for my car) and shop (for husband’s car stuff)
  • Not too much driving on gravel
  • I have a soft spot for a cute character home or a property with some curb appeal, especially bavarian/cottage/cape cod kind of styles (not that any of those have to do with each other but just not a square boring box would be extra sweet)
  • Hot tub
  • Nice deck and/or front porch

We both agree that if the property is amazing we may be a bit more flexible on some of our points.  Although I do still kind of wish we had success with our offer we made in July (#hearthouse) it did actually break a few rules of our lists.  There was a close neighbor, the house was smaller than 1200sqft and there was a ton of winding gravel roads to get to the property.  But it had 10 acres and was move-in ready for ponies, which possibly swayed me…


Anyway, onward and upward into acreage shopping round 2 in 2018!

Hopefully for his big 2-0 he will be in my backyard!