Saturday, 30 August 2014

Some Equestrians I Admire

An old friend and I were chatting last night about people in the horse community we admire.  I figured it was post-worthy for motivation/inspiration purposes!

Here goes:

1) Reiner Klimke 

The rest of the list in no particular order but #1 is!  I am in truly in awe of Reiner.  *bows down*

When I watched the video below I saw how beautiful dressage could truly be:


2) Denny Emerson

I absolutely love his writing.  I admire his straight forward and practical approach to everything.  I think it's very cool that he competed in endurance as well. His articles and riding have inspired me to pursue eventing (albeit at a low wimpy level!)

3) Phillipe Karl

My interest in PK came from a previous mentor (who sadly moved away).  My friend/mentor used similar techniques and I hope to participate in the School de Legerete with one of my youngsters eventually.

4) Beezie Madden & Beth Underhill

Beezie and Beth were my absolute favorites to watch as a kid.  I was wowed by both of them.  I definitely galloped some jumping courses in my basement (with my own legs) after watching these ladies.
Beezie Madden

Beth Underhill

Who do you have on your "favorite equestrians" list? :)

I have quite a few other names I could add to this list but this is a good start!

Friday, 29 August 2014

Recovering from Lesson Sourness

It's important to me to generally keep a positive tone to my blog - but full disclosure: this is kind of a whiny one!

As I get ready to move my horses to their new barn on September 28th (squee!) I find myself thinking back to last two "lesson" barns I boarded at.  Part of me is terrified of being at a "real" barn again.  Most of the barns I've boarded at in the last 7 years have been quite casual and provided very little of that "community" feeling.  I have been without regular lessons for a looonnnggg time.  I am almost always alone at the barn now.  Now I'm moving to a "real" barn again!  Eek!

I was at my first lesson barn I spent ages 15-21.  It felt like a huge family.  Their were lots of lessons and lots of things going on.  For most of my high school years I took two or three lessons a week.  It was an absolute blast and my confidence was off the charts.  Many times I would ride in the arena at the same time as another lesson and I would be made an example of (look how lovely Kate sits the trot/bends her elbows/etc).  When my gelding, Blue, started having soundness issues I found my "barn family" slipping away.  The barn had taken a sharp turn into natural horsemanship and now felt his soundness issues were my fault (not that all natural horsemanship followers feel this way).  The general consensus was that my years of jumping and riding had caused his pain.  The barn was put up for sale and I felt like such an outsider for the last six months as I investigated his lameness with little support (besides my awesome mom).  Blue and I were invited to the new facility after the sale but the barn owner had given up on proper horse care and he lost a lot of weight.

On we went to several other casual-type barns.  Nothing was terrible but it wasn't quite right either.  I missed being part of a barn family.  I had recently purchased the very green Apollo and I wanted to take some lessons again.  So off I went to lesson barn number two.

Sometime in 2009/2010 I found lesson barn number two.  Everyone seemed so friendly and there were regular lessons and holiday events.  I boarded there for a year.  The on-site instructor was not a good fit for me.  I drove home from almost every lesson in tears.  I pretty much felt like the worst rider ever and seriously considered selling Apollo.  I don't understand why I persisted taking lessons there.  I think I hoped that if I kept at it I would start to improve but it seemed every week the instructor had worse things to say.  Apollo and I are both kind of slow learners.  We need small pieces and one at a time, please!  Being constantly screamed at and called stupid does not exactly create a fun learning environment for either of us.  After I had lost almost all of my love for riding and Apollo became impossible to catch - I was done. I heard later on that she was removed from that barn and others have told me that her whole tactic is making riders feel bad about themselves so they take more lessons ($).  Lesson learned: I will never lessons from someone like that again. I am still sometimes affected by my time at this barn.  I have spent more recent years at very quiet facilities in my comfort zone (being alone, ha!) but I still feel very nervous to have anyone see me ride.  I have worked at a dressage barn for four years and no one has seen me ride because I feel too embarrassed.   I have found a few mobile instructors to give me the odd lesson but no one was quite right for the long term.

When I was shopping for a new barn it was the utmost of importance to improve my riding skills but tried to underline that my main focus is having fun (for me and Apollo!).  My fingers are majorly crossed that this new barn is a good fit.  I think have recovered from the "lesson sourness" I felt for years after I had left that barn.  Heck, I'm even riding in a clinic at the dressage barn in November! 

It's been really inspiring to me to read about other people in the horse community (all over the world) who are pursuing their dreams and goals.  It's been one of the things to give me the final push towards taking lessons again.  So thank you other bloggers! :)

To end on a happy note, here are some things I bought this week (yayayayay):

Spiffy new scarf from Greenhawk (I look like Powder here for some reason):

New-to-me cross country vest:

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Odds & Ends

This is random smattering of things that have happened in the last few weeks, things that are happening soon and things that happened this weekend.  It's kind of non-linear and I apologize - just trying to get everything down before I forget! 

First off, I have officially decided to move my whole herd to the new facility.  I’m really looking forward to a change of scenery and in my heart I feel this is best decision for my herd. :)

One decision I've been thinking on solved itself!  I currently work Saturdays at a dressage barn which I had been debating leaving.  I love it but…. Saturday is a lesson day at my new barn and I’d like to take Mystic to some of the Obstacle Challenge Days coming up which also occur on Saturdays.  I was planning to discuss switching with the Sunday girl but out of nowhere I got a text yesterday.  The Sunday girl was just given a horse and would like both days to help cover the costs of her new horse.  I will still fill in sometimes but I won’t be written in stone into every Saturday anymore.  I also worked with the trainer’s assistant last weekend and I wouldn’t mind hauling over for lessons with her sometime.  And she teaches on…Saturdays!  So I work my last shift next weekend and then the weekends belong to my herd exclusively.  I worked both days at the dressage barn this weekend and was able to spend some time with an old friend.  He's retired now but I used to groom this handsome fellow for my boss.  He's kind of crabby but he wormed his way into my heart big time.  It was pretty special for me to spend some extra time with him since I won't be around him much anymore.

Look at that face! <3

Time for NOMS

Here's my old friend in his prime

Also - I took an awesome first aid course at the beginning of August!  I will likely do a more in depth post in future as I’m currently building my first aid kit and taking baseline vitals (respiratory and temperature) for my herd.  I learned a lot and am happy to have a little handbook in case of emergencies….just in case I forget something!

I recently signed up to ride in a physiotherapy clinic at the dressage barn in November.  I have mild scoliosis and other weird pain/non-straightness issues following a car accident in 2008.  I am excited to get some insights and suggestions into how I can improve my riding.

I’m also taking a barefoot trimmer course in September as well.  My horses have good strong hooves with no major issues.  I think it’s financially smart to figure out how to do some simple trimming myself.  Also because my schedule can be so strange I can save myself the stress of trying to book appointments (which can be very challenging for me). 

Saving the wonderful news for last – as of today Apollo is finally 100% sound!  He is back out in the pasture and was cantering around today.  He looked wonderful and I’m so happy his week of torture in the diet pen straightened him out.  He was 95% sound and a week of dieting brought him the rest of the way.  I’m so freaking excited to get some real riding in this coming week.  I am grateful he's out of there because the mud dreadlocks on his feathers were pretty disgusting The diet pen got pretty muddy with all the rain last week, the pasture isn't nearly as bad.

Ew.  Just ew.
New cute coat!


Friday, 22 August 2014

The Fat and Fabulously-Dressed Apollo

Apollo is currently the sole resident of the fat pen.  And he is miserable. 

We have been having a crazy amount of rain here lately.  He doesn't really have a proper shelter in there, just some tall wind fences.

So I used this as an excuse to.....

On Wednesday I bought this lovely rainsheet in hunter green....

And today the rainsheet above was beginning so soak through so - I bought this jazzy weatherbeeta rainsheet.....

I had a really nice hunter green rain sheet for years but it was taken by mistake at previous barn.  I had the same blanket as someone else and they hung in a common area.  She took my 84" and a 76" just isn't going to work on the big guy.  I called her and e-mailed her a couple of times and never got a response. :(

I'm going to lunge him tomorrow morning before work at the barn and if he looks sound I will try for a ride in the afternoon.  Fingers are crossed that a bit of weight loss solves the NQR-ness.  :)  I will also try to take some photos of his new wardrobe additions.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!  I'm working two 12 hour days so it will be hectic on my end but I can recoup some moolah after my recent horse clothing splurge!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Big Changes

As I mentioned previously - I have been shopping for an eventing barn to move Apollo to for the winter.  I had one in mind but made a few calls on others as well.  I saw a barn on Monday night and decided the next morning that I was going to go for it.  I paid a small deposit and booked a hauler – Apollo makes his big move on September 28!  Woohoo!

There are certainly some pros and cons to the new facility.  Mainly the con is that it is farther away and potentially my herd would be at two facilities (which is quite annoying).  

If I could have made a list of everything I could want in a barn, my current barn would tick off almost everything on that list.  It’s a short commute, it’s very quiet, and the horses have a lovely large field.  Also the price is very reasonable for boarding 3 horses.  But… some events in the last week have made me debate bringing my whole herd to the new facility.  

It’s a private facility and they don’t really want boarders and certainly don’t cater to them.  Which is usually fine with me, I do my own thing and I try really hard to be low maintenance.   I did need to move Apollo into the diet pen this week as he is still NQR and I suspect the extra chub is the culprit.  I wasn’t really treated in a friendly and respectful way when I politely brought this up.  I am SO SICK of tip-toeing around and feeling unwelcome.  At least a real “boarding facility” I would be a client and would hopefully be treated with more professionalism and respect.  There are a few other things I don't really want to get into.

At this point I’m about 90% decided to bring my young horses with Apollo to the new barn. 
It’s really bittersweet for me because I took my wedding photos at my current barn and have enjoyed so much of my time there.  I still have 10 days until the end of the month to make up my mind (I haven’t given notice yet).  I’m kind of shell-shocked from this week; I can’t believe that I’m quite likely leaving my barn for good.

I'm trying really hard not to make a rash decision out of recent frustration.  I want to make a smart move in the best interests of my horses (and myself!). 

Also saw this....love it!

Monday, 18 August 2014

My Soapbox Moment

As mentioned here: http://peaceandcarrotshorse.blogspot.ca/2014/07/notes-from-horse-auction.html I went to the local horse sale in July after many years of not attending (about 15 years, give or take).  It wasn’t as bad as I remembered.  I didn’t even cry in the truck afterwards!  Many horses went to homes with only a few going to the meat buyer. 

But.... I found myself haunted by the adorable 1.5 year old Morgan colt who sold for $150.  He was wearing a halter and was friendly.  I wasn’t 100% sure who purchased him but I believed it was the meat buyer.  I had a dream last week about this horse and decided it couldn’t hurt to ask around.  I also knew of someone looking for a young horse as a companion, and this guy would be at least halterbroke and seemed pretty calm in the stressful auction environment.  He was a little bit awkward and he reminded me a lot of Mr. Henry.  I can't afford four horses (can't really afford three, to be honest!) but I thought maybe I could help him get into a forever home with my friend.

I posted an ad in the local online classifieds and had a few replies stating that the meatbuyer did indeed buy him.  Through the kindness of complete strangers I got the meatbuyer’s phone number and gave him a call today.  He picked up the phone on the first ring.

The colt is “already gone”.

My heart sank.  I knew it was a longshot but it didn't make it any easier to hear this.  

This colt will never have a name.  He will never be loved.  He will never be part of a family.  His story is not unusual - hundreds of horses are slaughtered every day just a few hours from where I live.  And this will continue to happen until something changes in the horse industry. 

I’m not mad at the meatman; his job exists because there are too many horses and not enough homes.  I’m mad at the people who breed simply because their horse has a uterus (regardless of if the horse has any good qualities).  I’m mad at people who do not plan for a retirement for senior horses who have given their owners their best years.  I’m mad at the people who dump their horses at the auction without any information.  I’m mad at people who don’t put proper handling (and preferably riding) skills onto their horses because: guess what – sh*t happens.  You might have sell everything one day at the drop of a hat.  I would be devastated to sell my horses but at least they are:
1) UTD on vaccines and farrier work
2) Broke to ride (Apollo) and are good citizens about farrier work and handling (all)
Most of the horses that went for meat were yearlings that were completely untouched.  And when I bought Henry (from a feedlot) he was unhandled as well. My sweet Henry could easily be “already gone” like the morgan colt and I find that deeply disturbing and very upsetting.

I don’t have a point to this rant.  Today I am feeling embarrassed to be part of the human race.


I apologize for any typos in this post, I am a bit upset as I write tonight! :(

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Weekend Photo Explosion

My husband offered to take a few photos of the horses for me today (woohoo).  There were some threatening clouds so we got as many as we could before it started raining!  So nice to have a few non-cellphone pictures of my ponies.

The pictures incredibly boring (at least until Apollo and I actually start taking lessons/doing something).

Henry says: "Pick me!"


Henry is definitely still growing (super bum high!), wish my face wasn't so covered in hair here:)

Cute boy <3

Mare bums

Me and Mystic!  I think this is probably my favorite of the bunch

Mr. Apollo

Grooming the wild beast while he munches

Ride on lawnmower (not 100% sound for work but always happy to lawn mow)
The cat jumping off the barn roof surprised the lawnmower!

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Barn Slob Makeover

I am a barn slob.  I know it and I'm working on it!  I gave my locker and area a bit of a tidy this week. 

A girl moved from my barn and a bunch of the stuff that I hang on the doors (that are always left open) was thrown inside my locker in order to make more room to get her giant locker out.   I hang up my saddle pad and bareback pads on the doors so having them throw in (with a few other things added extra mess!). All the boarders have our own lockers and they are stored in an empty stall. Since I still share the area with another boarder I figured cleaning up my pig pen would be courteous.

Here goes the makeover:

Before (that cup and some of the garbage isn't mine! But still *embarrassed*)

After (much better, with my emergency contact sheet displayed)

Before (side view of the top..*cringe*)

After (side view of the top again...much better!)

The area behind my locker before (didn't think to take a picture until I was already going through the tote, normally all that stuff is crammed inside the tote!)
The area behind my locker after (huge improvement)

My wall rack before (multiple halters and leadropes that are never used and two ripped fly masks)

My wall rack after (neat & tidy!)

As a reward for all my hard work I bought myself a very stylish Centaur matching helmet and boot bag (both in the purple circles):

Next cleaning task...my car....! :)

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Henry the Water Horse & Apollo is NQR

Another one of Henry's quirks is that he loves water.  I used to have to help the other barn staff get him out of the trough at his previous location.  Since Apollo was feeling NQR last night (more on that later) I decided to complete one of my August goals and give Mr. Henry a bath.

He freakin' loved it.

Drying out

Apollo was just not himself.  I had my friend who is a bodyworker check him out while I was at work today and I'm awaiting her report.  Apollo has recently fallen in love with a mare in his field.  And he's been mounting her and generally being a doofus.  It looked like his stifle or maybe pelvis were causing the problem.

Symptoms Apollo's NQR-ness:
- Hesitant to pick up his right front
- Hindend looks "off" when travelling clockwise on the lunge (but OK the other direction)

He has the grossest sheath ever and I clean it almost monthly.  So I figured I would give it a quick clean and then I could see if he had any damage to his equipment and get rid of the extra filth.  There were two beans but it was actually cleaner than usual. He had a big roll in the field when I let him go.  There was so much cracking and popping when he rolled...it was actually pretty gross.

I think what it might be is that he's a bit fat.  Last year he was a little bit off but was also being a bit hard to catch so he had to live in a smaller pen.  After about a week he'd lost a bit of weight and was 100% sound.  I've texted my BO to see if the Jenny Craig center is available.

Fingers crossed for a sound horse soon!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

The Great Dog Escape

I have been a bit MIA over the last week.  I had a very stressful day last Thursday and now I'm finally getting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to catch up on some blog reading and writing.

I got a call from my husband at about 12:45pm at my desk last Thursday.  It started off with "Don't be alarmed but....".  I was sufficiently alarmed. Next I heard: "the latch on the gate broke and the dogs got out of the yard".  I hung up the phone and ran to my car and speeded home like a maniac.

We live in a very scary location to lose a dog.  There are two major roads nearby and many wild jackrabbits to lure dogs away from home.  When I arrived home I grabbed two leashes and hit the pavement.  I walked down the path the dogs and I usually go on our daily walks.  When I had no luck there I headed home to grab my phone that I had foolishly left in my car.  I called bylaw, my mom, and one of my best friends (who shared the dogs photo on social media for me).  And back out searching I went.

I like to think of myself as staying pretty calm and steady under pressure.  But I was completely unglued.  Molly has pretty good recall (whereas Toby...not so much) so I mostly walked around calling her.  After I had called her about 5 times I would burst into tears.  I was really touched by the kindness of strangers in my neighborhood who helped me look or gave me suggestions/kind words.  I'm pretty sure if someone came up to me sobbing I would be a bit uneasy, I was lucky to meet with such nice neighbors on my dog hunt. 

My brain was running every worse case scenario.  They were hit by a car.  They were attacked by a larger dog.  Toby bit someone (Toby is a very crabby dog who is not allowed offleash...ever, because he has some behavioral issues).  I was so afraid that I would never see Molly again or hear her howl with excitement about something. 

My husband found them after about 3.5 hours of searching.  They were about two minutes from our house in an alley we had both checked multiple times!  My mom came all the way from out of town (on her birthday) to help us and she arrived just as they were found.  Best. Mom. Ever.

Molly had very sore paws (from all the frolicking around on gravel/pavement) and could barely walk for two days following their great escape.  She is all better now :)  My in-laws visited us on the weekend and installed a hardcore new gate latch that no critter will ever escape from again.

I am beyond happy to have my pups back! (no pictures of Toby...it is almost impossible to take a good picture of a solid black dog)

Tired Molly after her big adventure..sooo tired.
 Love you pup.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Decisions to be Made & August Goals

I’m sitting on the fence about a couple of things right now.   If anyone would like to step in and make my life decisions for me...feel free. :)

1)      Should I stop working weekends at the barn?
Pros of Leaving: - Sleeping in on weekends
–More time for my own herd
Cons of Leaving: - The riders there are kind of my barn family (they threw me a bridal shower)
-I really like being a stablehand
–Less extra moolah

I have been debating on this ever since the wedding.  I’m pretty much ready to leave but after work there on and off for about 4 years...it’s tough.

2)      Should I move Apollo for the winter to the eventing barn I’ve been eyeing?
Pros of Moving: -I can actually get some riding instruction
–Meet new friends/people to ride with
– Board is actually cheaper than my current barn (but I will be taking lessons so it will technically be more expensive)          
Cons of Moving: - I love my barn
–All of my horses won’t be in the same place anymore (temporarily at least)
–The new barn is farther away (about 10 mins, but still)

I’ve been burned so many times by boarding situations and I’m finally happy at my current spot.  But I’d really like to improve myself as a rider and maybe meet some new horsey friends.  I’m leaning towards yes right now.  I’m going to take some lessons at my potential new barn on a lesson horse.  A good compromise might be if the instructor is willing to come over to my barn for lessons.  Once I have a trailer I can haul over to the other barn but that isn’t in the cards right now.

3)      Should I start my distance education in the fall?
Pros of starting in the fall:  - I can leave my miserable job sooner
–Fall is a nice start time
Cons of starting in the fall: -It’s expensive, and although I plan to do this eventually anyway...I could certainly save up more money first (less horse time/money)

I still have to do my job shadow to ensure that I’m choosing a career that I will like so this is kind of a moot point.

I hope to have answers to all the above-questions by the end of August.  

Here is a random pic of my rabbit, Lucky, to break up the wall of text.

I’ve been brainstorming my August goals and am keeping it kind of simple:

1)      Baths for young horses
2)      Interdressage with herd
3)      20 rides on Apollo
4)      Make final decisions and a plan on the above-mentioned questions!
5)      Take nice photos of the herd before they get their winter woollies on

Henry = Weirdo

I cannot wrap my mind around this horse!  My draft crosses certainly have their own personalities but are basically food-loving and straight forward.  Mr. Henry is totally different from other horses I've owned.

Here are a few of Henry’s quirks that are strange to me in a series of non-related memes because I'm bored and it's too hot to ride right now.

He is not really interested in eating.  For example I put him in a catch pen with two flakes of hay while I was waiting for my farrier and he layed down and used the flakes of hay as a pillow.  

I swear he is passive aggressive.  Lately he’s been funny about picking up his hooves for me.  He will tilt his leg forward so his heel is lifted and all his weight in on the toe.  And just look at me.   He’s been foot broke for a year and half.  Now he’s decided it’s BS.

He is a princess about wearing a slightly over-sized halter.  When I head out into the field I bring Apollo’s rope halter.  It’s huge but I know whichever horse I encounter first it will fit.  Henry cannot handle the only slightly too large halter.  He sneezes, cough and wiggles his head. 

 He is incredibly clumsy and is not very careful with his own head.  He was pawing in his grain the other day and actually tripped on it and fell over.  He also seems to have a new scratch on his head every time I see him.

He’s a little bit weird, but so am I! At least we have each other. <3

 Last summer meeting my aunt

Anyone else deal with some unusual equine behaviour?