Sunday, 28 December 2014

Holiday Hangover

I meant to post this cute graphic before Christmas....not 3 days afterwards.  But it's the thought that counts...right? I hope everyone had a great Christmas and has a happy New Year.  :)

My holidays are technically over as I'm back to work.  I'm lucky because I had two lovely Christmases (my family and my husband's family).  I was spoiled thoroughly by both families!  Now after drinking mimosas for 5 days straight it's time to dry up and be a grown up again.  Boo. 

I've been thinking a lot about my plans and goals for 2015, it's going to be an exciting year for sure!

Here are a few cute photos from my holidays this year:

 Mystic on Christmas Eve morning:

Molly, the Christmas dog:

My sweet equestrian-themed bag from my sister-in-law (it's okay to be jealous):

Molly's new dog bed from Santa:

Monday, 22 December 2014

The Things I Have Realized After Riding Non-Apollo Horses

I have been riding Apollo almost exclusively for the last seven years until the last few months.  Now I have a month worth of lessons on two different horses.

These are some of my notes after riding non-Apollo horses:

1)      Apollo is not the only horse that is crooked.  I thought the crookedness was all my fault (because I am crooked!).  All of horses I’ve ridden have also had some degree of crookedness.  And that actually makes me feel better.  Although there is certainly room for improvement on my part and Apollo’s part.

2)      My young horses are not babies anymore.  Apollo is around 16.2½hh and is an absolute tank.  It might be hard to see that from pictures because I’m 6 feet tall so he doesn’t seem so big.  But he HUGE.  The lesson horse I ride in my dressage lessons is about 15.1hh-15.2hh-ish and the horse I rode at my barn this week is about the same size, maybe a bit smaller.  Up until quite recently my young horses have still seemed like babies to me because they are so much littler than Apollo.  But they are the same size as my lesson horses!  Neither of them will be as big as Apollo but they are actually horse-sized *mind blown*. 

3)      I love riding Apollo.  I love his walk.  I love his cheeky-ness.  It’s been a little hard on my heart to be riding other horses and I didn’t really expect that.  I really miss riding him (the sound/well-behaved version of him).  He’s been having some time off lately.  The arena has been very busy when I've been out lately and after his bucking episode I'd prefer to lunge him first. I'll be out later in the evening this week so I should be able to get a lunge/ride in soon.

I hope to have a ride on Apollo this Tuesday this week and his “light work” ends on January 7th. Fingers are crossed! 

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Wednesday Lesson Recap

I rode a horse named Slater for my Wednesday lesson.  He`s not as tall as Apollo but he`s quite a stocky guy so my saddle actually fits him and my bridle does too (with a bit of adjustment).  I`m a little sore this today - but not as bad as I expected! 

Slater was kind of a funny ride.  His walk and trot were so slow and I had a hard time keeping him moving forward.  But then when the lesson was about 75% done he woke up and it was challenging to slow him down!  He is a very sweet boy and was quite patient as I muddled around up there. 

Here are some of my bad habits that I need to work on:

1) At the canter transition I lean back in a strange and exaggerated way.  I don`t know why.  I actually don`t feel like I`m doing it so I`ve had to think about tilting forward (even though I`m not tilting forward, I`m just straight.)

2) I keep throwing my outside rein away.  I think this is due to some crookedness on my part but it was VERY hard for me to correct.

3) My hands aren`t always closed on the reins.  This is so bush league!  This has been an issue for me since I started riding.  I feel like I start the lesson with normal person hands but as I start focusing on other things they slowly open.

One exercise we worked on quite a bit was doing a 10 meter circle and leg yielding out to a larger circle.  I had a really had time with this.  I started in the walk but did most of it in the trot.  It was pretty challenging (especially with my rein-related issues listed above) to move Slater out in a proper leg yield rather than drifting out and leading with his shoulder.  This kind of mirrors what I worked on in my dressage lesson last Friday.  I also did quite a lot of transitions.

I don`t know if I`m the only person who struggles with this but I cannot brain very well when I`m riding.  I get frazzled and confused really easy.  I don`t feel like I am like this when I am not on a horse but man....I feel like such a dolt when I`m riding.  My instructor had to explain the circle exercise like 4 times before I understood it. 

I got a lot of video but the videos are all over 2 mins.  I was able to get a video still using a screenshot but it`s quite blurry.  I`m going to fiddle with the videos and try to edit them down a bit.

Here`s Mr. Slater

My solitary screenshot:

Spirit of the Season - Congratulations to T! :)

Congratulations to T from Oh Gingersnap for winning a sweet sparkly halter!  Please drop me an e-mail at dreaming900(at) hotmail.com and I will get your halter in the mail right away.  Thank you for your participation and support!  Check out T`s blog here.

I did a little video of me drawing a name.  Forgot my santa hat and had to be silent (so I am like a weird mime in this video) because some other boarders were having a serious sounding conversation on the other side of the barn.  I`m having some trouble getting the video to upload onto youtube but once I get that figured out I will add a link here.

Thank you to all who participated :) 

Sorry I`m a little slow posting the results.  I had some administrative stuff to take care of (finishing the rest of my wedding thank you cards...bad bride!  At least they are finally finished).

I took a lesson last night and had my instructor take some video....so soon there will actually be photos and videos of me riding!  Once youtube cooperates with me :)

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Blood, Sweat and... Dressage

I had another lesson at the dressage barn on Friday.  It was tough!   I stubbed/broke at least one toe when I was walking out the door so the evening didn't have a great start. 

During my first lesson I got a sense of sizing for 10 meter, 15 meter and 20 meter circles.  I do a lot of 20 meter-ish circles with Apollo but I was quite rusty on the sizing/feel of the 10 and 15.  On Friday we started working on the circles being more precise and having correct bend.  HAH!  My body was not cooperating with me at all.  Eventually we muddled through it and things improved, but it was hard work! 

It is so strange riding a non-Apollo horse.  My lesson horse, Jazzy, is an Arab X.  The departure from a Clyde X to and Arab X is obviously huge!  Apollo has a lovely marching walk.  Jazzy's walk is much smaller and slower so it always feels like she isn't really moving forward enough (but she is, thank goodness for eyes on the ground).  Their trots are more similar and thank goodness Jazzy is almost as easy to sit as Apollo. 

I have no photos/videos (again) because my instructor was mounted for most of the lesson and I put my phone near her chair (and promptly forgot about it). 

But I do have this adorable dressagey cartoon:

Although my last lesson was definitely more challenging I did get a nice compliment from my instructor, B.  She said that my sitting trot is lovely and told me that I have a great natural seat.

 I am hoping to have some good news to report on Apollo soon, but for the moment things are still up in the air.

Tomorrow is the last day for my Spirit of the Season Blog Giveaway. Enter here ! :)

Thursday, 11 December 2014

TBT: First Helmet

Here is me (on the left) when I was 7 years old.  My friend and I just got our first helmets! 

I was so excited about my new helmet that I parked my desk chair across from my bed and put my helmet on it - so it was the first thing I saw when I woke up :)

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Dressage Lesson & Two Weeks Post-Injections

I had my first lesson at the dressage barn on a school horse (who was very kind and patient with me) last night.  The coach, B, is absolutely wonderful.  I will be taking lessons at 6pm on Fridays for the rest of December and I am really looking forward to it.

 My lesson horse after our ride, very sweet :)

Yesterday marked the two week mark since Apollo's fetlock injections.  The vet told me if things hadn't improved in two weeks then we needed to re-evaluate because they didn't work.  If they did work I was to continue riding him lightly for a month.

I headed over to ride my pony after my dressage lesson.  I have been doing a lot of handwalking and riding bareback at the walk but I decided I needed to put his saddle on and ask him to move around more so I could properly evaluate his current state of soundness.

After lots of handwalking followed by riding at a walk I asked for a trot.  He BUCKED three times and then bolted off into a canter.  I was riding him in the sidepull because he's been so quiet lately...that was a mistake!  He continued to be a nut for most of the ride and threw at least five more bucks into random places.  Eventually we were able to do some walk and trot transitions without Apollo being a maniac.  He felt sound....but he felt very crooked.  I'm not sure that my "light work" schedule for him has been enough.  Maybe I should have done more or less.... I'm not really sure.  It's hard to know if he was feeling really good so he was naughty or if he was feeling pain somewhere so he was naughty.

I had decided that the two week anniversary date of the injections would be my "decision day" for what our plan was.  I figured if he was sound then we'd continue working him towards my eventing goal.  If he wasn't sound he needed to come back to his old barn where he is closer (so feeding him his Recovery EQ is more convenient).

Now I'm not feeling like it's a very straightforward decision at all!  My plan now is to get the chiro/bodyworker back out to see if she can figure out his crookedness.  I'll keep riding him too (lightly) and if between some body work and increased activity we can't get him 100% then we will give our notice at the barn.

This crazy nut tried to kill me!

I rode him today around the hay field at a walk for about 30 minutes.  Oh yeah - and I put a bit in his mouth!  Crazy ponies need brakes!  He was awesome.  His walk felt lovely.  He seemed somewhat tired at the end, I think walking through some of the deeper snow was pretty hard work for him.  I think if he continues to feel sound this is a good thing to keep in our repertoire (weather permitting).  I had a lot of fun with my big pony.

I hope to have the chiro/bodyworker out very soon and will have a more definitive plan at that point! :)

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Physiotherapy Clinic Recap & Blog Giveaway Reminder

I am so slow to write about the physio clinic that happened on November 14/15!  It was really fun and my brain was stuffed full of helpful information.  I was a little disappointed I couldn’t bring my own horse but I still got a lot out of it.  The clinic took place at the dressage barn I work at. 
On Friday evening we watched Sandra’s (physio lady) presentation about various types of rider ailments caused by being crooked or using your body incorrectly.  She also talked quite a bit about how bad sitting all day is for the human body and how that affects riding.  She had a lot of slow motion video so you could see how various riders’ bodies were absorbing the motion of the trot.  Sandra also made us all think about bending from the hips (and sitting our butts out) rather than our backs when we bent over to pick something up – like a hoof!

I asked her about what activities were the best cross-training for riding.  She suggested cycling was probably the best.  But fencing and golf are also good. 

On Saturday I got up early to muck stalls and helped with chores before the clinic started.  So I was sufficiently warmed up for our stretching/exercise session.  It was incredibly hard!  I’m not very flexible and the stretching part was probably the most difficult for me.  She has a series of exercises for riders to do before riding.  I hope to incorporate a few into my riding routine.

Here are the exercises I plan to do before each ride:
1)      Plank for 2 minutes
2)      Side planks for 1 minute on each side
3)      Circling arms in opposite directions
4)      Sitting against a wall with legs at a 90 degree angle and engaging lower abs

The riding portion was Saturday afternoon.  One of the very kind boarders allowed me to share her horse.  I was pretty nervous about riding.  I have worked there for 4 years and no one has ever seen me ride.  I wish I had someone take a video for me because I think that would have been helpful for future reference.  It felt so weird to be riding another horse!  She was quite lovely and patient with me while I tried out a variety of strange exercises on her back.  

I thought my scoliosis would be a huge problem but Sandra actually said I was fairy straight (what?!).  She mentioned that I need keep my stirrups the same length and switch them monthly (so one doesn’t stretch out).  That’s actually contrary to what I’ve been told before, I was told to have one stirrup longer if that was more comfortable.  I was riding in stirrups that were the same length in the clinic and I actually did feel fairly straight, I guess I haven’t been doing myself any favors but having different lengths.  We did lots of little things but the two big things for me were pretty simple (thank goodness):

1)      BREATHE.  I need to not hold my breath!  I didn’t even realize that I did this but I totally do.  When I’m focusing on something I totally stop breathing.  Apparently this is a big reason that jumpers go off course, when you stop breathing your brain doesn’t work as well (obviously...).  So now I have been practicing the breathing exercise that Sandra gave me.  When I start riding I count the beats (of a walk or trot) that it takes me to inhale and exhale.  Then I increase them.  I started at the trot with two steps for my inhale and one step for my exhale and increased it to 5 and 6 respectively.  Kind of neat!  I felt WAY more relaxed after I got my breathing sorted.

2)      CROOKEDNESS CURE.  When I feel crooked she recommend posting the trot to the left, in the center and then to the right.  It felt weird at first but I did find my center in the saddle. I will definitely be doing this in future.

Another thing that she mentioned is that I use my hands a little bit to balance myself.  I’m not pulling but it’s not really correct either.  

It was a great experience.  There is a really nice group of people at the dressage barn that made it fun :)

Now for a quick reminder about the blog giveaway.  I haven't had any entries yet into my blog giveaway.  I would really like to find this halter a new home:

To enter to check out this entry here:

General Horse Plan + November Goal Recap & December Goals

I get asked a lot when I’m starting my young horses (in real life and online!). I have a general idea of the timeline and I thought I would share.

This is what I have in mind:

Summer 2015 
- Apollo competes in starter level horse trial
- Kate takes driving lessons
- Mystic practices obstacle training and halter routine

 Fall 2015 
- Apollo retires to a non-jumping life (but still does trail rides, dressage and other fun things)
- Mystic learns to ground drive and other pre-saddle training work

Winter 2015/2016 
- Henry learns to ground drive and other pre-saddle training work
- Mystic learns to pull a cart of some sort

Spring 2016 
- Mystic (now 4 years old) is started under saddle

Summer 2016
 - Henry (now 4 years old) is started under saddle

After M&H are both going under saddle I will make a plan from there as to what discipline we want to focus on. I don’t plan to jump either of them until their 5th year. Perhaps one or both of them will be up to a starter level event by late summer or fall of 2017.

In the grand scheme of things:

I hope Mystic will be up for lower level eventing, dressage, cowboy challenge/obstacle work, and driving.

I hope Henry will be up for eventing, dressage, distance trail rides, and maybe some hunter and/or jumper shows.

I’m really up for trying anything and hopefully the horses feel the same way.... :) In 2016/2017 my blog should be really interesting! I’m waiting to start the youngsters under saddle until age 4 for various reasons. One of the big reasons is limited resources (time and money). Right now I am focusing my resources on Apollo because we are *fingers crossed* going to try a few events this year. I also want to give the young horses time to grow up. Mystic was orphaned at a month old and Henry had a rough start too. I’m not in any kind of a rush so I figure letting them develop as much as possible before starting them isn’t a bad thing. I don’t judge anyone who chooses to start their horses earlier or take a different path. This is what I feel is best for my herd and who knows, my plan might change drastically!

I really hope I am able to balance being a good horse mom to three horses.  If I can't I am open to leasing/selling down the road.

Here’s my little goal recap for November and December plan:
1) Find a job for Mystic. I have decided Mystic and I will work towards competing in a local show in halter and in-hand trail. I added our July show date to the sidebar. :) I’m also seeking a driving coach. First to teach me and then to start her under harness in late summer. 

2) Figure out a herd routine. Actually probably just a general routine for my life would be good. I still suck at this. Being a grown up is no fun. Balancing work/horse/dog/husband/friends/cleaning seems to be an insurmountable task at this point.

3) Book dressage lessons at the dressage barn. I did do this! Because of Apollo’s soundness issues I will be riding on a lesson horse instead. I will be riding at 6pm on Fridays for December (except on Boxing Day). Perhaps in January my pony will be my ride instead. I’m also still taking Apollo’s lesson at my barn timeslot for two lessons in December on a lesson horse.

4) Start saving for Back on Track stuff. Well...I started doing this. And then I had to pay for a lameness exam and injections. I’m hoping to place my order on my next payday which is December 10th. With Christmas coming up I don’t think I’ll be able to get everything I want but if I could get the royal blue fleece cooler with neck I would be a happy camper. I’ve been doing a lot of hand-walking, either pre-ride or just to get him moving around and then we do stretches. A spiffy BOT cooler would be a big help for him on days where other people are riding so we can’t hand-walk first. By this Friday I should have an idea of if the injections were a success or not (leaning towards yes). If no they were not a success we will have to make a new plan.

December Goals 
1) Slowly increase Recovery EQ to full dosage by December 15th. 
2) Mystic needs to go to groundwork bootcamp. Sassy pony is sassy. 
3) Henry dewormed with QuestPlus then followed by a probiotic. 
4) Hand-walk and/or ride Apollo every day to keep him moving in this chilly weather (pending success of injections).

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Two Post-Injection Rides

My instructions from the vet after Apollo's injections were as follows;

1) 4-5 days off post-injection
2) Ride for two weeks (lightly) to assess if the injections helped
3) If there is improvement seen then ride lightly for one month

I had my first post-injection ride on Thursday night.  I wasn't expecting much.  He has still seemed quite sluggish on the ground.  Whenever we've in and out of gate he still tries to avoid pivoting his hind end.  And on Thursday he seemed to be in a bad mood.  He was extra sluggish about walking to the arena and then had all kinds of energy to be a turd at the mounting block.  I would normally think he was being a jerk but I was worried he was trying to tell me that he was in pain.

That aside it felt wonderful to be riding my horse again.  I decided to ride on the buckle to let him sort out how his body was feeling.  His walk felt lovely.  He never really felt "off" to me at the walk but it felt a little extra nice.  When I asked for a trot....ugh.  It was ugly.  I felt his back tense up and he took the tiniest choppiest steps.  I let him come back to a walk.  But after his first ugly trot he randomly wanted to trot some more.  I let him move out as he wished and tried to just be a quiet passenger as I assessed his movement.  He had some ugly moments and some nice feeling moments.  He felt crooked (which is normal but needs work too) more than in pain after the first trot attempt.  After our brief ride he yawned a lot and was licking his lips a lot.  Maybe that's a good sign?

That was also my first ride in my newly re-flocked saddle.  I'm happy with the fit but I wish I wasn't trying two new things at once (injections and re-flock).  If he has issues it kind of muddies the waters as to which is the culprit.  Oh well!  I started giving him Recovery EQ + HA this week and am still saving up for Back on Track stuff.

On Saturday I went for a ride after work.  His demeanor changed completely.  When he saw my car coming down the driveway he walked to the gate to meet me (heart melting!).  He seemed to have an easier time pivoting his hind end as we went in and out of gates.  The arena was freeeeezing.  I decided to ride him in a cooler with my bareback pad on top and just in the side pull.  I only rode at a walk but he felt wonderful and was much more willing.  I am feeling hopeful but still a bit guarded about his soundness.

Good pony waiting at the gate for me!

Blurry B&W of us yesterday (in our serious equestrian attire...not so much)

Cute photogenic ponykins

We've had a crazy cold snap this weekend.  This morning was -32. Brr!  I worked at the dressage barn both mornings and I'm so tired from being out in the cold.  Today I am also hungover from my husband's Christmas party last night... After a nap I will be out at the barn again today :)

Bundled/dirty Henry

Mystic's new winter coat is this spiffy pattern (phone died before I took a pic of her wearing it)

Even barn helper dogs are bundled up for the cold!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Blog Giveaway: Spirit of the Season

I know it's a little early to be in the Christmas spirit.  But I love Christmas and I totally am! 

I volunteered as a horse leader on Monday at a local therapeutic riding society.  It was a lot of fun and I met some wonderful people.  I plan to continue to volunteer there on Monday nights.  That experience kind of gave me the idea for this giveaway.

I have had this beautiful halter hanging on a chair in my kitchen table for at least 6 months.  I bought it in an online auction and got a great deal on it.  I bought it for Apollo to wear at the show in August (which was cancelled).  I realized when it arrived that it's too small for him.  I already have extra halters for Apollo and the babies, so nobody really needs a bejewelled halter at the moment.  So I have decided to use it for my Spirit of the Season giveaway. :)

The brand is Ger-Ryan.  It's "horse" sized and is black.  Some of the crystal flowers have a blue tint to them and some aren't as shiny (full disclosure) but it really is a snazzy looking halter. 

Here's a sample posting of one for sale right now:


How You Enter: In the next 19 days volunteer for a charity (doesn't have to be horse-related) and either comment on this blog post or make an entry on your own blog about it.  If you aren't able to volunteer you can also make a donation (even for a dollar or two!) to a charity of your choice and make a comment or entry about that. 

Entries will be distributed as follows:

- Volunteering and a blog comment: 2 entries
- Volunteering and a blog post on your own blog: 4 entries
- Donation and a blog comment: 1 entry
- Donation and a blog post on your own blog: 2 entries

I'm not high tech (sorry!) so I will seriously will be drawing names from a hat.  Apollo and I will be announcing the winners via video on December 15th, 2014.  Maybe the halter will even make it in time to be under someone's Christmas tree! 

I know not everyone celebrates Christmas - but I hope everyone can see the value of donating time/money to a charitable cause :)

If you have any questions feel free to ask! 

Wordless Wednesday: Henry Chillin'

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Catch Up

I have been out of blog land for a while!  I have quite a few things to catch up on.   I'll start with the biggest thing.

Apollo's soundness issues continued and eventually resulted in a proper lameness exam by a vet last Friday.  He was no longer off on his right hind only, the lameness became more minor but looked to involve both hinds.  We did flexion tests and his fetlocks were pretty awful.  I opted to have them both injected.  I have never had injections done on any of my previous horses.  I don't want to say that I'm against it exactly but it was hoping the addition of an oral supplement would be enough to help arthritic changes. 

The vet thought he likely was painful on his fetlocks at all times (he has been more sluggish coming in and out of the pasture lately) and didn't feel that oral supplements would help him enough.  I am purchasing a tub of Recovery EQ + HA this week and plan to start feeding that also.  I didn't do any xrays because honestly I can't afford it.  If the xrays showed nothing/minimal changes the vet said he would still recommend injections based on how poorly the flexion test went.  Fingers crossed that this helps my big guy. 

I feel really guilty for not having a proper veterinary exam done sooner, I had convinced myself that it was a soft tissue injury that just needed more time.  But in my last lesson he still wasn't quite right and I knew it was time to take this funny lameness issue a bit more seriously.

I don't know what this means for my plan of doing some low level events this year.  I don't want to put my dreams above what is in the best interest of my horse.  So I feel kind of stuck right now.  I had told myself that if Apollo gave me one season of low level eventing that he would be officially retired from jumping and would be a light work/trail buddy only.  His conformation doesn't really lend itself to jumping/hard work.  He is somewhat post-legged and being such a large bodied horse that's a lot of concussion/stress on his joints.  It might not even be fair to ask one season from him.   

I don't really enjoy my job but the one thing that cheers me up during is to look at the horse trial schedule and write my show dates in my daytimer.  For years I have dreamed about eventing with Apollo.  There has always been an excuse (some valid and some not).  Money has been a huge limiting factor but more than that I haven't felt that I was good enough.  I would look at the results from the horse trials and dressage shows and think "I wish I could do that."  Now I realize that I am totally capable of that (with some hard work and discipline).  I have to be honest and confess that this whole lameness thing is especially heartbreaking for me right now as he has become such a kind and willing companion.  After all the years of him being hard to catch and naughty, I feel in my heart that he is trying his best for me but his body just won't perform for him like it used it. 

So my head is finally in the right place but my horse might not be up for the task.  Sigh.

A fellow boarder could see I was kind of upset about the injections (not crying but just kind of in shock).  She gave me a wise piece of advice: "Our horses don't have voices.  It's our job as owners to do the best we can to listen to what they are trying to tell us and to be their voice.  All you can do is your best."

I thought those were some pretty powerful words and I am not officially deciding on what the future holds for Apollo and me.  I will do my best to listen to him and let him tell me what his limitations are. 

I hope to have some good news to report soon!  I'm very excited to catch up on reading everyone else's blogs.  I feel like I haven't had a moment lately to sit and read, things have been too crazy!

Here's some pictures of me the big guy from the last few weeks (I have way too much fun playing with the color editing feature on my new iPhone):

A ride a few weeks ago when he was feeling good!:


Post injection on Friday:

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Mandatory No-Stirrups November...

No-Stirrup November is mandatory for me - my saddle was just taken away by a saddle fitter! I  only have my bareback pack for the next week - my only option is riding with no stirrups! Speaking of saddles...I have to step onto my soapbox for a moment.

I bought a custom saddle in 2008. I was a stupid 21 year old (not that everyone who is 21 is stupid, but I was). I struggled with finding a saddle to fit an uber wide Clydesdale cross but had a seat small enough for me. I ended with with a lovely cliff barnsby AP saddle that I loved. But it wasn't quite right on Apollo. It was used and likely a re-flock would have sorted out the balance issue. But it was VERY popular at the time to have a custom saddle made by a local saddle maker. They were made with french leather and air panels (oooh! ahhh!). I was in a pretty serious car accident and decided to buy a cheaper car and use the remaining funds for a custom saddle. And I have lived to regret that decision! Here's why:

- The seat has always felt a bit small for me. Even when I was 10-15lbs lighter it felt small. 

 - The fit was originally decent on Apollo. But the air panels have fluctuated substantially with the seasons, so in winter my saddle feels kind of deflated. Now the saddle is officially "bridging" and the saddle fitter agreed with me that it was a bit narrow. 

- The saddle is supposed to be checked every 6 months. I have had mine checked - never. The saddle fitting company has provided some of the worst customer service I have ever received in my life and I gave up last year trying to have someone come out and look at it. 

- The saddle cost $5700 (ack)and I wasn't 100% happy with it from day one. I should have spoke up but the saddle fitter kind of bullied me, although that's no excuse to accept a subpar product. Especially with that kind of price tag.

- I have tried to sell this saddle two times since owning it. It has been for sale or at a tack consignment shop for at least two years total time. I have had it listed below $3000 (but would probably take 2000) and I have had almost zero interest as these saddles are no longer in style.  

Lessons learned: Don't get bullied into buying something you don't love (speak up!). Don't spend money on stupid things you shouldn't, this purchase was truly ridiculous...the saddle cost 3 times what I paid for Apollo (not that I would sell him for a million billion dollars) and cost more than my current vehicle - that money would have been much better spent on a horse trailer, savings, etc. Also - don't buy from DK Saddlery.  They suck. 

So I'm kind of stuck with the stupid saddle now. I decided to have it re-flocked with wool. The saddle fitter thinks he can tweak it for a decent fit on Apollo, not perfect as it's still a bit narrow. I'm going to use it for this eventing season and then go from there. It is kind of pretty but for a custom saddle there is nothing custom about it. It should be ready for me to ride in the clinic next weekend, fingers crossed.

I had a lovely brunch with my parents today (a late birthday brunch!).   As my birthday present they are going to pay Henry's board for one month. Which is awesome and truly appreciated. November is sort of our "horse-versary" as I paid for him in November 2012. I finally received the invoice for Mystic's two vet visits in October so this is a wonderful surprise. I spent the rest of the day driving on sketchy roads to put proper blankets on ponies. Henry was covered in snow and was a little afraid of the blowdryer but we worked through it.  It's going to be -29 tomorrow with the windchill.... *cringe*.

BRRR!!! Here's is Henry from November 2012 vs. August 2014:

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Clipping Debacle & Final Twopointober Time

Apollo was clipped on October 31st by a friend of mine. I opted for a “low trace clip” after much research (read: googling). I decided to leave his neck though, as I have many blankets for him but none of them have neck attachments.
I have never clipped one of my horses before so the whole clipping thing is new to me. I feel like he gets sweaty just walking into the indoor arena. Since I’m planning to take lessons and riding a fair bit this winter I thought it was the right thing to do. I’m happy to blow dry him for hours on end but I thought this would be better for both of us. Since his haircut the temp has been between -5 and +3 for the last few days/nights. I figured the very light rainsheet would do the trick. But he sweated through it. Twice. It was was colder on Sunday and it snowed so I figured he would definitely need it that day - nope! Sunday night I blowdryed him for the second time and turned him back out naked. The temperature in my car said it was +1. I am kind of feeling like the worst horse owner ever! I have just been leaving him naked but I will be putting a different (hopefully more breathable) rainsheet on him tonight as the forecast is calling for freezing rain.
Also, last Saturday we did our last twopointober time. It was at a walk but my time was 5 minutes and 1 second. I’m pretty proud of my increase! I think I will keep working on this in future months :) Thanks L. for a great contest!

Thursday, 30 October 2014

My 29th Bday & November Goals

I celebrated my 29th birthday yesterday!  I was treated to dessert by my best friend the night before and my coworkers got me a special cake made.  My husband spoiled me with flowers at work, a dairy queen cake when I got home (yum) and a dinner out.  He gave me my new iPhone a few weeks ago as an early bday present also.  We went out and fed Henry before dinner which was nice because he hasn't seen him in a while.  It was a perfect birthday!

The sign for my bday cake at work.

I'm feeling pretty darn lucky to have such a wonderful husband and great horses (and cats, dogs, rabbit too!).  My 28th year was definitely eventful - I got married, adjusted to life with three horses instead of two (you have no money and you are very busy is the crux of it), and I made some big decisions career-wise.  So far year 29 is off to a great start. :)

I didn't make any October goals but I do have a few in mind for November.  It's difficult to make goals for Apollo as he's not quite 100% at this time.  I hope he is sound enough for a brief walking ride so I can get a final time for twopointober tomorrow, we'll see!

November Goals
1) Find a job for Mystic. 
2) Figure out a herd routine.  Actually probably just a general routine for my life would be good.
3) Book dressage lessons.
4) Start saving for Back on Track stuff.

Just a quick note on #3.  I asked my boss at the dressage barn I work at to give me and Apollo some lessons.  This is kind of huge for me because we're not very dressagey and I felt a bit intimidated.  But she was super excited and as soon as Apollo is sound we're going to make a plan!

Monday, 27 October 2014

Good News Post

I am happy to have some good news to report!

Apollo’s hooves are finally not sore on the gravel driveway.  I’m not sure if the Hooflex hardener helped or not but I plan to keep using it.  He’s still a little bit off and stepping short on his right hind but there has been major improvement.  What makes my heart happy is that he seems like himself again.  For a while there he was kind of...mopey.  He was almost too quiet.  I was starting to think he was just showing his age a bit more.  But yesterday he had his spark back!  Which kind of equates to being cheeky and getting into stuff but it was getting kind of weird with him being so obedient.  

"My hooves feel great!" - Apollo

 I forgot to mention a new addition to our family!  My husband bought this truck to be his winter vehicle and for me to use to haul a horse trailer with next summer.  Woohoo! 

Also, I asked about taking lessons at the dressage barn I work at.  I have worked there for about 4 years and have never ridden there.  I decided it’s about freaking time!  

It’s my birthday on Wednesday.... I don’t really observe/celebrate birthdays but my husband is taking me out for dinner so that will be nice.


Friday, 24 October 2014

Going Left

One of my friends on facebook shared this the other day:

I am definitely going left right now! :) 

The re-schedule of my mountain training clinic turned into such a mess.  I was 10 days out from going and even after multiple requests I had no information or where to go, what time to arrive, what to bring etc....You know - the important Ws of a clinic!  So I asked for a refund.  I don’t have a truck/trailer so I have rely on the kindness of family and friends or rent a truck/trailer.  I can’t be 10 days out from something and have no details.  

The outfitting company agreed to refund my deposit.  They have been INCREDIBLY slow in doing so but overall they seem apologetic about the lack of communication/generally sucking at being business owners.  I am very wary of doing a future clinic with them and will not be recommending them to anyone either.

My hoof trimming re-schedule (because of the massive snow storm) didn’t work out either due to my work schedule.  :(

Now Apollo is a bit foot sore because he was waiting for me to do the clinic and got left longer than usual between trims.  He has also done something funny to his back (he had a funny stumble when he was getting up from a roll the other day and he hasn’t been quite right since then).   I’m working on getting a bodyworker out to help him out but it seems everyone is booked up until November.

So here is my little list of “What Do When Your Horse Is Off”:

1)      Groom the sh*t out of him.  Apollo might be a little sore but he looks very dapper and tidy.
2)      Try some new products.  I’m trying this Hooflex stuff that is supposed to be a hoof hardener.  It was on sale and also makes his feet look fancy.

3)      Join a rider fitness group.  My new barn has a session of rider fitness training starting the first weekend in November.  This will be a fun way to work on my fitness and make some friends.
4)      Research nutrition, maintenance, and alternative therapies for the herd.  I’ve been spending a lot of time doing this.  I’ve been brainstorming maintenance ideas for Apollo (recovery EQ and back on track products when I can afford it....maybe next month) and nutrition/alternative therapies for Henry (I have an osteopath coming in early November and have made some adjustments to his daily meal). 
5)      Hang out with horsey friends.  I had a epic 3 hour dinner with an old high school/horsey friend on Tuesday of this week.  It was so nice to catch up and talk horses.  This weekend two of my friends are coming out to meet Apollo and Mystic.

I really miss riding right now, but I'm trying to stay busy...hopefully things start going right now. :)

And holy crap, Back on Track stuff is so pricey!  This is me right now as I'm reading the pricelist from the rep:

Thursday, 23 October 2014

October's 10 Questions from L!

Apollo is still a bit off so I'm very happy that L has 10 questions for me to answer instead of whining about that!

1. How many pairs of breeches/jods do you own? Hmmm.... I can't remember exactly but I am pretty sure I have 4 black, 1 brown, 1 plaid and 1 tan.  So 7.  How many fit me right now?  Exactly one pair.   

2. How many horses have you ridden? I would put my guess around 40.  23 lessons horses I can think of and the rest are personal horses or friend's horses.

3. How many trainers have you had?  I'm not going to count Pony Club or instructors I tried out once or twice.  8, including my new instructor now.

4. How many barns have you ridden at? 15. *read: barn transient*

5. What is the name of the horse you consider yourself to have the greatest bond with?  Apollo.  But I will always have a special place in my heart for Blue. 

6. What is your favorite show name you've ever encountered? London Fog (for a dapple grey). 

7. What do you consider your greatest weakness or flaw in riding? I'm crooked and I don't believe in myself. (I guess that's two things...)

8. What do you consider to be your greatest strength? Umm.... I try to be a quiet/soft rider, that counts for something! 

9. Have you ever leased a horse? Nope. 

10. What is the name of the first horse you rode?  My first lesson horse I remember was Pharoah.  A handsome bay with a perfect white star.  I rode Cody my dad's horse when I was pretty young too, I'm not too sure which was first.  (My mom would remember...!)

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Thankful & TBT

I had a great thanksgiving weekend!  I spent lots of time with family and had some pony time as well, which was awesome.  I worked on twopointober on Monday and increased my time to 2mins5seconds40milliseconds.  I will keep chipping away at that.  My goal is to get to 5 minutes by month end.  Work has been nuts and I haven’t been able to read/write/comment as much as usual...hopefully that changes soon

I had a lesson last Wednesday (on Apollo!  With my new instructor!).  I was so proud of him.  There was lots of horses in the arena and some farm equipment moving stuff outside of the arena walls.  He was a perfect gentleman, even though his pilot was a bit of a nervous wreck.  He was a little tender after his trim on the weekend and I didn’t expect to do more than walk.  But we did a full w-t-c and some leg yielding.  We also trotted over some poles....

Afterwards my lesson buddy, N, and I went for a ride around the hay field afterwards to cool our horses down.  She is very nice and is quite mature for a teenager.  She’s only been riding for under two years and really has an excellent seat and soft hands.  It was so nice to have a friend to chat with. 
Apollo has become a furry beast and I’ve pretty much decided to do a low trace clip on him this winter.  It took me an hour to blow dry him!  I had a new equine bodyworker check him out on Saturday and he was out in his pelvis/hip area.  I have some stretches I will be starting with him and hopefully we both start to feel straighter!

I had a lesson again yesterday and Apollo was a bit off ("sticky" on his right hind).  My instructor was kind enough to take a video for me of his "offness" so I could share it with my bodyworker friend and his chiropractor.  I stopped riding after we got this video and gave him a shot of bute.  I am likely going to buy him a Back on Track blanket as I think he was a bit stiff due to the cold snap.

Here's the ouchy video:
Video of ouchyness

As a side note, I haven't seen myself ride in a million years and it wasn't as ugly as I was expecting.  It's not perfect but it's not horrible. 

And this is our TBT (from 2007!)

Sunday, 5 October 2014

First Week at the New Barn

I admittedly did not have a great first two days at my new barn.  I decided to give it a week and if I was still miserable I'd move. 

It seems to be going much better for me now (thank goodness).  Lots of things have been going on in the last week so I'll just do a quick re-cap.

Sunday:  Arrived at new barn.  Prickly reception. 

Monday: First evening at new barn.  Fireworks.  Feeling very unwelcome. (I have to admit that I may have been slightly PMSing this day).  I totally cried to my husband for like 30 minutes!

Tuesday:  There was a lose bull on the driveway.  Rode outside (foolishly) as the bull was herded with fireworks/something that sounded like fireworks.  Footing in the outdoor arena was very soggy and walked only.  One of the stablehands didn't show up so I helped with turn-in and taking off blankets.  Mystic has a lot of eye discharge (I called the vet and booked a tentative Thursday appointment). 


Wednesday:  Bull still on the driveway.  Freak snow storm when I'm at the barn.  Put a sheet on Apollo but cannot find Mystic in her pen (due to blizzard).  Decide to leave before roads get worse.

Thursday:  Bull still present on the driveway.  I have named him Fred.  Mystic sees the vet today and has conjunctivitis.  She is given drops and antibiotics.  Chatted with a few other boarders today.

Friday: Bull is absent.  Quick visit to give Mystic drugs.  Met a friendly staff member and let Mystic play in the arena.

Saturday:  Bull remains absent.  Farrier is out for all three horses (Henry is at the other facility). And I had an equine bodyworker/chiropractor out for Apollo because he was feeling kind of funny on Tuesday.  Apollo's pelvis was dropped on the right and rotated.   I had Mystic checked as well and she was a bit out also.  I met the girl I will be sharing lessons with.  She seems very young but is super nice. :)

I'm happy I stuck it out.  I'm a bit drained from the extra driving and my back has really been bothering me.   I hope to get my lesson schedule figured out soon and will have some actual riding pictures!