Monday, 30 June 2014

Horse Auction

I work with a nice young girl (shes 18, I feel so old....) on the weekends at the barn.  Last week she asked where I got Henry from as she is shopping for a horse of her own.  She wants to help a horse in need, which is awesome.  I recommended she hit up a local rescue or go to the horse auction on July 3rd.  And then....she asked me if Id like to go with her to the auction.

Im going.  And its a bad idea.

I havent been to this particular auction in about 15 years.  I was 11/12 years old and went to an early winter auction with my dad and some of his friends.  My dad was more into horses at that time and used to go penning/sorting/trail riding with some cowboy friends he met through work.  He never bought a horse at the auction but did buy some saddles/halters when we started out; it was more a social thing.  I was, of course, hopeful wed buy a horse!  We were sharing one horse at the time and I desperately wanted a horse of my own.

I am haunted by that day 15 years ago.  About 75% of the horses at the sale were in appalling condition.  They either had horrendous hooves that hadnt been touched in years and/or they were starving to death.  I would say a good solid 90% of those horses went to the meat dealer that day.  I left after less than an hour and I cried in the truck while I waited for my dad.

I have been invited back many times by other horsey friends but have always declined as I worry the conditions will be similar to what I saw that day.  Apparently things have improved, but of course the meat dealer is still present and has plenty to choose from.  I decided to go this time to help my work buddy, C.  She could probably use an extra pair of eyes (and hands if she buys something).  I told her a bit about my previous experience, not to scare her but to prepare her for what it may be like.  Certainly there are deals to be had there, and it is a good place to truly save a horse from the meat dealer. 

I dont want to get into some big rant about everything I think is wrong with the horse industry...but I have a few comments.  I think every horse deserves to be loved and treated with dignity.  I have no respect for individuals who dump their senior horses at the auction or give them away for free rather than providing them a well-deserved and earned retirement.  And I wish people would stop breeding horses because they can, leaving young horses unhandled and unappealing to buyers.  These two types of horses are saturating the market.   When I have my own property I hope to rescue a senior horse and give them the best retirement ever.  

My personal herd is at capacity at the moment and I have no free time/money to help any more horses.  I hope I can help my friend find a good horse and it isnt too depressing. 

If theres a blog posting later this week that says Meet my 12 new horses! or Im getting divorced.... remind me that I knew what I was getting into! 

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Survived the Week!

I survived the week!  I'm finally done one of my part-time jobs and a lot of good came from me standing up to the individual I mentioned in my previous post.  I am so happy to have simplified my life a bit. 

I took a few quick herd photos on Thursday.  They are all looking so good!  I chopped Mystic's mane off early last week (when it was all wet from the rain) and I can see now that I did a horrible job and need to fix it!

Beautiful sunset on the way out

My herd was pretty much hanging together (Henry was behind Mystic on the left)

 Snack time!  (I didn't put hay out for them as they're on grass right now but for some reason there were two flakes thrown in)

Mystic and Henry snacking on some hay!

Mr. H!

Who is the worst barn dog ever - Toby!

Molly girl

This week I hope to get at least 3 rides in and fix Mystic's mane (and get rolling on her exercise program...!).  I am sorting through my wedding photos and hope to share a few more this week also.

An Ode to My Barn Dog

I met Molly on a cold March morning in 2011.  I was a foster home for a local dog recue group.  She was a stray on nearby reserve and had been found in a dumpster.  She was immediately brought into the vet for a spay and I was tasked with picking her up and bringing her to my house for a little TLC until her perfect family came along.   The only information I got was that she was some sort of border collie/heeler/pitbull-type mix.  
When I first laid eyes on her it broke my heart.  I was appalled that the rescue group had done a spay surgery on a dog that thin.  She was less than 30lbs and was the most emaciated dog I have ever seen.  She was clearly terrified of people.   I don't have any pictures from this period of time as I lost my cell at the time.

When I spoke my first words to her “Hi pretty girl” I saw her tail flicker.  I was worried about how I’d get her into my SUV.  I didn’t want to hurt her by picking her up but she seemed so nervous I was sure that she wouldn't jump in.  I had her on a leash and I started folding down the rear seats.  I was speaking softly to her and trying to sell her on the fact that I was going to pick her up soon and set her down on some comfy blankets.  I was fluffing/organizing a little bed for her when all of a sudden she came flying into my car.  She sat down and looked at me....another little tentative wag.  And I told her what a good girl was. 

Pretty much from then on we’ve been inseparable.  My boyfriend at the time (now husband) was a bit suspicious that I bought her a coat (it was a very cold March and she had 0% body fat) and nice new dog bed to lie on.   I typically didn’t spend my own money on foster dogs as funds were tight for me at that time.  I also had promised him that he could pick our next dog, as my current dog (Toby) was/is a holy terror.  She eventually reached a healthy weight of about 60lbs and her coat shone.   And she always tried her best to be a good dog.

 Hanging with Toby
 Snoozin' in some hay while I worked on re-arranging the hay piles

She clearly had never been inside a house before.  We had a hilarious incident where she walked into the kitchen and very slowly grabbed a block of cheese off the counter on her second night.  After she learned stay, Todd put her into a stay on the mat near our sliding door while he brushed his teeth.  He was trying to get a lot of things done and ended up going to grab a few things from the grocery store (forgetting about her!) and when he came home about 30 minutes later she was still waiting there....a bit impatiently!  What a good girl :)
"Hi mom."

"Whatcha doing...?"
"I'm pretty cute, you know."
"I think you better pet me now."

She was my 7th foster dog and when I got the e-mail that someone had applied to adopt her I called my boyfriend in tears.  He said that he knew from day one that we were keeping her, and she was already part of our family (one of the many reasons this man is now my husband!).  I e-mailed the rescue group back and apologized profusely but said that Molly already had a home with us.
She had been a fur shoulder to cry on during some very hard times.  I cannot imagine life without her.  I actually refer to her as my “dog soulmate”.  She has the kindest sweetest dog I have ever known.  And she is pretty much a perfect barn dog, which is a bonus.   I plan to honor her with a pawprint tattoo like this:

Anyway, that’s my weird sentimental drivel about my pup.  I feel so lucky that I am her person. :)

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Survival Mode

*Disclaimer: not really a horsey post*

I'm having one of those weeks where I find myself saying.... "I just need to survive this week." more than anything else. 

I'm finishing up at my part-time job I quit, fighting some kind of cold/flu that is draining all my energy, my regular job is insanely busy, I'm organizing gifts/cake and a little get-together for my husband birthday, and sadly yesterday I had to stand up to someone who said/did some very hurtful things around the time my husband and  I got married.  Being a grown up is so annoying. 

The last point (standing up to an a*hole) has been the hardest and most difficult.  I really really hate confrontation but at some point you can't let people treat you like crap.  The offender in question has told people that my husband and I are "stuck up yuppies", which is ridiculous.  We are too poor to be yuppies and have never been anything but nice to this guy.  He was asked to be a groomsman and declined because he wasn't willing to take the time off work.  And then was a no-show to the wedding, along with his brother and girlfriend.  Which was not only a waste of money but kind of put a damper on our day.  He sent a cowardly text with a weak excuse.  He's been a close friend to my husband and I've known him for over six years.  It was disappointing to have to call him out on his behavior to get a proper apology.

I am really missing my horses and if I don't get out to see them tonight I think I will lose my mind!

On a happy note...I got paid today and plan to hit the local tack store at some point this week :)

Monday, 23 June 2014

Happy Side Note

I'm happy to report that I've dropped a pound in the last week, woop woop!  Or.....

Now sitting at 146.6lbs :)  Remind me of this joy when I meet with my trainer tomorrow morning.

To Show or Not To Show

One of my friends from the barn is attending a show that is mid-August and about a 10 minute trailer ride from our barn.  It’s a very relaxed/fun event according to her.  I’ve been dying to do something like this with Apollo.  But I’m on the fence...because I’m a big baby.

- Could be fun
- Might get a ribbon
- Would be good experience for Apollo & I

- I should saving $$, not spending $$
- I am already nervous about it and it's two months away
- I’m a little uneasy about the biosecurity risk in showing with a bunch of strange horses

I think I will try to discuss it more with my friend and make an official decision by mid-July.   There are some walk-trot classes, cross rail and dressage tests that sound like they would suit my wimpy-ness.  I might even just do a dressage test as Apollo isn’t a very friendly arena sharer.  I’ll be riding the interdressage dressage test with him in July so I’ll have some good practice in.

In other news I am finally finishing up at my part-time job that I quit two weeks ago.  When that is actually done I will be so relieved.  I will miss the extra income but I’d rather pick up extra hours elsewhere.  I have a final meeting on Thursday and then I’m freeeeeee.  I was camping all weekend and now my house is in desperate need of a tidy, I’m not sure how much barn time I’ll have this week.  I also still have to finish about a million thank you cards for our wedding guests.   And it’s my husband’s b-day on the 30th....need to plan something special for him.

What a week!!!

Here is me and my cute pup out camping (I am drinking a delightful Mike's Hard Lemonade):

“Don’t die with your music still inside you. Listen to your intuitive inner voice and find what passion stirs your soul. Listen to that inner voice, and don’t get to the end of your life and say, ‘What if my whole life has been wrong?” Wayne Dyer

(sometimes I remember my whole ending entries with a quote idea......)

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Workin' On My Fitness

This morning I had my first workout with a personal trainer!  I work part-time at a gym so I get a very discounted rate for training and free use of the facilities whenever I want.  I really haven’t been taking advantage of this lately and I’m determined to get into better shape, for my horses and myself. 

I have scoliosis (mild) and a generally screwed up back after a car accident in 2009.  My core is weak and I’ve put on about 10/15 pounds thorough out the stressful wedding planning process.  I weighed in today at 147.6lbs and hope to get down to 137lbs (preferably less but 137 is a good starting goal).  I’ve been using www.myfitnesspal.com to track my food and exercise.  When I start my young horses I want to be in the best shape of my life.

I’ve been in kind of an exercise slump in the last year.  My horsetime and dog walking have been all the exercise I’ve gotten.  I miss running, hiking, kayaking, and swimming (all of which I used to do often before I was bitten by the laziness bug).  They were such a great complement to my riding routine.  I’m determined to get back into a fitness groove - I even signed up for a 5km road race on July 6! 

P.S. Look what I got last night!  Mine is the one on the right (aptly named Pinky).  

Monday, 16 June 2014

Friday the 13th - Farrier Day from Hell

Well Friday was “foot day”.  And simply put - it was not good.  My horses weren’t on their best behaviour and I will be working on that for future appointments.  There was a few new horses added to the herd recently and the whole herd was galloping around outside, that didn’t help either!

I usually have my husband or my dad out to help with farrier day but last Friday I was on my own.  Rather than bring all the horses in separately (what I usually do) I decided to bring them all in together. Oops.  The young horses were very fidgety and were feeding off eachothers energy.   It was what I like to call a clusterf*ck.   

To top it off - my farrier wasn't in a great mood.  She was late and was in a time crunch to get to her appointment after me.  She was stressed and I was stressed and I’m sure the horses were feeding off that too. They were not very well-behaved, to say the least.  I expect my horses to stand and don’t mind her disciplining them if they are being silly but I felt it was a bit over the top today.

I really don’t want to be a farrier/trimmer.  But I just never seem to find anyone who can manage the following:
1) Be on time.
2) Return calls promptly.
3) Be patient, fair, and firm with the horses.
4) Keep horses barefoot and sound. 
5) Have availability in the evenings and weekends for us 8-4 shift workers!

Is that SO hard?!  I might have to take matters into my own hands and figure out how to trim my own horses.  I want to take the time to do their farrier work properly and without stress for them or me.

On Saturday I had a nice ride on Apollo and all the horses came in and stood politely to be groomed.  The Friday the 13th debacle was far from my mind and I wasn’t feeling like the worst horse owner on the planet anymore. So that was nice. Oh and on Saturday...Henry was a little bit tender after his trim walking on the gravel driveway.  Poor guy. :( 

Here is a cute pic of Henry...just because:

Edited to add:  I found a barefoot trimmer course that starts in September, the timing would be perfect as the horses will be just over 7 weeks at that time so I could potentially do their next time myself.  More info to follow!

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Weight Issue

It’s been so wonderful to have some time with the horses these last few days. I’ve noticed since returning from the last clinic that Mystic is looking a bit heavier than I would like. She’s a Belgian X QH so she will never be a delicate flower.

She will never be this:

But I want to prevent this:

After reading this article (http://www.equinestudies.org/ranger_2008/ranger_piece_2008_pdf1.pdf) – I have decided to wait until age 4 to begin any undersaddle work. She was orphaned at a month old so I really want to give her an appropriate amount of time to grow. My plan is to start lightly ground driving her next summer and not start saddle training until she is 4.

So what the heck am I going to do with her to get the weight off? I don’t really want to do a lot of lunging either... I have decided to expand my scope as a crazy horse lady and start taking her for walks. The neighbours pasture across the road is about 2kms long and would make for a 4km round trip if I did the full length. Eventually I’d like to pony her from Apollo but he needs a bit more practice to feel comfortable about that (honestly he’s a bit afraid of her).

I am preparing myself for these kinds of looks as I take my horse for a stroll.

There isn’t a lot of great space to reduce her pasture intake. The options are pretty much huge pasture or dirt pen. The pasture has been shrunk down to 20 acres from about 80 acres, so the problem will self solve somewhat as the grass is eaten down. I’m going to take some pictures/measurements this week and will be trying to stay on top of this (as my nightmares don’t involve murderers or falling from a plane....my nightmare is dealing with a foundering horse!).

Any suggestions from cyberspace?

I guess it will be good for me to get some extra exercise too as I’m training for a 5km race on July 6th

“If you change nothing, nothing will change.” Anon

Monday, 9 June 2014

Clinic Notes and June Goals

Overall, I really enjoyed the clinic.  The drive was pretty darn long (9 hours) but it was worth it.  I learned a lot of helpful tools to put in my toolbox. 

Because of my trailering issues ($$) I decided not to bring Apollo, so I worked with the clinician's horse Smokey.  He's a 3 year old who had an injury and has had a lot less handling than the other horses on the farm.  I can't say he was an easy horse but I am so grateful I was able to use him as it helped me gain some good trouble shooting skills.  The focus of the clinic was ground handling/skills with a natural horsemanship focus.  I was so keen to get some better skills trailer loading as Henry has been kind of so-so in this area.

Here's my buddy for the clinic, Smokey:

The whole purpose of me wanting to take this clinic was to develop my skills on the ground to set my young horses up for success.  I found myself really reverting back to old habits whenever things got a bit hairy.  I come from a very traditional horse background (nothing wrong with that). I want more of a partnership with my horses where I wasn't just forcing them to do what I asked - I wanted more of a conversation.  I will always be a more tradition horseperson but my mind is always open to improving my skills.  I don't necessarily advocate for "natural horsemanship" as there are some methods of there that I really disagree with - but I do think the more things you can worth through on the ground with your horse, the better.

My wonderful husband made me this awesome care package for the road with lots of my favorite snacks:

I made little notes each day of the clinic in my phone:

Day 1:
I unfortunately was late as my debit card was compromised with "suspicious activity" and I had to got about 1 hr away to a bank branch to get a new card (ugh).  We did roundpenning only this day and because I missed the introduction I was feeling a bit lost and frustrated.  It was very different from roundpenning I've done in the past as you had to focus on where you wanted to go, not the "neutral girth area" as I've been taught. 

I was so frustrated at myself for missing the introduction part of the day.  I was really missing Apollo too.  Even though he would have been a royal turd, I know him really well and it was strange working with a new horse.

Day 2:
We did roundpenning in the morning and groundwork in the afternoon.  I really got into a better groove today (it didn't hurt that I wasn't driving around lost in a strange city looking for a bank branch at the start of my day either!).  I end up holding my hands higher than needed (from years of lunging) and need to work on my coordination with the aids. 

The other participants in the clinic are really wonderful and friendly.  I felt like Smokey and I were clicking more this day. 

Got this lovely ear burn on Day 2:

Day 3:
We did roundpenning in the morning and groundwork in the afternoon.  The morning and most of the groundwork went well.  I got pretty stuck at the end because Smokey was kind of crowding me and when I tried to push him out of my space (with a the rope/stick) he got super agitated and rushy.  I was able to get some help from the clinician but I felt like a pretty big loser! 

We worked through it and ended on a good note.  The clinician and her husband hosted a tasty BBQ for us this night and it was nice to chat horse with the group.

Day 4:
We did a groundwork review in the morning and then took our horses over obstacles.  Smokey was a bit nervous but I was able to get him to jump some barrels and keep his brain focused on me even though it was pretty much madness in the obstacle field. 

The clinician gave me a big hug when we left and was very happy with my progress through the clinic.

Some good points about me: I am a quiet handler with soft hands (that's a big compliment to me as I have been working on that). 
Some homework from Nettie (the clinician):  I am a bit uncoordinated and tend to be hard on myself.  Both of those things are very true.  I have always had a hard time coordinating all 6 feet of myself (in the saddle also) and do beat myself up quite a bit.

A little late to the table but here are June Goals:
1)  Try some groundwork techniques from the clinic with the ponies.
2)  Get 15 rides in on Apollo (considering I have zero so far, that is a feat!) and update the new ride log I have created.
3)  Start running again (this is for my mental health, which I'm sure the horses appreciate).

I want to keep June pretty easy as I had such a stressful May.  In July I will set some bigger goals for myself.

I've decided (starting now!) that I will end each blog entry with an uplifting/motivating quote.  :)

Herd Photo Update

After a grueling 9 hour drive yesterday, I'm finally home!  I saw my herd on June 4th and was able to take a few photos.  I decided to put Apollo back into the herd while I was away - he is miserable in his smaller pen, hopefully he continues to be cooperative about having sunscreen put on (the reason he was in "jail" in the first place). 

I quit one of my part-time jobs today.  It honestly took me  about a month to finally submit my resignation.  The job just wasn't for me and was causing more stress than it was worth.  It's hard for me to leave jobs though, especially when I've had some tough times that are still in my rear view mirror.  I feel pretty happy about it though now that it's finally done.  Now I have a day off to catch up on my blog reading and be lazy! :)

Anyway, here are the pics!

Henry is finally putting on weight (I'd still like just a bit more)!:

Princess Mystic:

 Can I come out of jail now mom?

The whole herd standing together:

I will be posting a clinic review shortly, I'm still kind of collecting my thoughts. :)

Monday, 2 June 2014

Dollars and Sense

I saw this on facebook today and it made me laugh.  And cry a bit.  As a woman who has added two horses into her herd in the last year and a half…I clearly don’t have a lot of dollars OR sense!

I'm back from a lovely relaxing honeymoon.  We found a great last minute deal and the cost was less than we planned (bonus!).  Laying on a beach for hours a day (instead of running around like a crazy person) gave me a lot of time to think.  I have all kinds of dreams and goals for the future, possibly too many!  If you boil it down there are only two things that I really care about:

1)      Happy and healthy human and animal family (including me!)
2)      I want to live on an acreage

It’s really that simple.  Of course there are lots of trips I’d like to take and clinics I’d like to participate in but in my heart I don’t really care that much.  I am the first to admit that I have spent a lot of time and money on things that weren’t necessary or useful.  For one example, I bought a saddle for Mystic who I’m not really planning on riding anytime soon.  Who knows if the saddle will fit her when the time is right.  But I decided I wanted it.  And apparently I am a child.

I’m happy I was able to boil my life goals down to two simple statements.  I just have one area where I’m a bit stuck (and very open to suggestions!):

Should I move my horses to a cheaper barn?

Pros on my current barn
-          Indoor arena
-          Nice facility
-          Nice people that board there and the owners are very nice
-          Very close to my house
-          I can bring my obnoxious dogs
-          Horses seem happy there

Cons on my current barn
-          It’s $800 a month and I suspect that this will go up once I am riding the young horses (can I really call this a con?  Boarding 3 horses will never really be a  low cost venture but it certainly could be cheaper)
-          I’m alone a lot; I could put this into the pro and con category almost.  I like to be alone most of the time.  But I worry about getting hurt and not being found for a long time.
I don’t have any property to compare it to but I suspect I could find something halfway decent and board all the horses in the $450 range.  Maybe less.  It would be very basic and likely fairly far away.   

Am I being pigheaded/ridiculous in the fact that I am not willing to sell any of the horses?  I tried briefly to see if there was some interest in Henry.  But in the end I couldn’t do it.

Well I need to figure out some June goals for myself and catch up on my blog reading! :)