Thursday, 30 April 2015

Happy Birthday Mystic

Mystic is three!  Her birthday was on Tuesday.  I gave her a few extra carrots :)

I am so excited to ride her in approximately 185 days!  If I can figure out how to put a counter on my blog I will be doing that very soon.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Highs and Lows

Well, I have some good news and some bad news.

I'll start with the good news!

I found a steal of a deal on some brand new Hunter boots.  I have a brown pair that I love but I always wanted the hunter green color.  I found a pair for sale on kijiji for $75!  My husband picked them up for me yesterday.  I know that $75 is still a lot for rubber boots but honestly the quality is amazing.  My brown Hunter boots are still in great shape after lots of wear.  I've had them for over 2 years.  I usually burn through a pair of cheap rubber boots in 6 months (I'm guessing because I walk on concrete/gravel so much at the barn?). 

Fancy feet!

Also... I have booked Mystic in for grown up horse training in November!  She will be trained at the eventing barn I boarded at.  I originally wanted to wait until Mystic was 4 years old to begin training so I know this is a bit of a departure from my original plan.  I really want to make sure I have a horse to get out and do stuff with next summer, and I feel like she has been telling me she's ready for months.  She will be 3 years and 7 months in November. I'm really excited about it and am looking forward to riding her!  I am still planning to wait a bit longer on Henry.  Mystic has almost reached her mature height (as per the "string test") of 16hh but Henry still has a fair bit of growing to do.

Time to be a grown up pony Mystic!

Now for a bit of bad news. 

The night before my meeting at the potential working student barn I got an e-mail.  The trainer decided to hire an existing client.  I'm actually pretty bummed out about it.  Although at least I didn't go for a meet-and-greet before hearing the job was given to someone else (or I would have been paranoid that I did or said something wrong).  She did apologize and promised that she would contact me right away if her current client didn't work out. 

Booooo :(
I put a reminder in my phone to send a follow up e-mail at the end of summer to check-in with her about the position - does that seem reasonable? 

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Working Student Opportunity

Before I get into more details of the working student opportunity that has come my way - I'm going to explain two things first.

1) I have decided to take June/July/August off from my two part-time jobs.  So I will just have one 40 hour a week job.  I haven't had one job since I was 21 years old (I'm 29 now).  I work at a barn and at a gym and my hours have primarily been on the weekends. My husband and I are hoping to do some camping this year and working weekends just isn't going to happen.  I will decide at the end of the summer if I want to go back (both jobs are aware). 

2) In the ideal version of my life I have a part-time version of my current full-time job and I work a day or two a week a stable (I also live on a acreage!).  I love barn work, if it paid more I would do that full-time.

So... I have this "dream barn" that one day I wanted to bring Henry to.  It's a showjumping barn and Henry is the closest thing in my herd to a jumper so he was nominated to be in my dream barn fantasy.  It's a beautiful high end facility.  They regularly compete at Spruce Meadows.  I look at their website every now and then and follow them on social media.  And there is no way that I could ever afford to board or train there.  But hey, a girl can dream right?


I hadn't looked at their page for a while but somehow I wandered over to it a few weeks ago.  There was a posting seeking a part-time working student, for a few extra chores and lunging (with riding opportunities in the future). 

On a whim I decided to send an e-mail expressing my interest.  I'm not quitting my full-time job so I'm only available in the evenings (not weekends during the summer).  I mentioned this in my e-mail.  I thought it was kind of a long shot that they would like a random working student to work an evening or two during the week but it doesn't hurt to ask! 

After a few weeks past I figured they had already found someone or were not interested in my availability. 

And then yesterday - I got an e-mail!  They sounded very interested and were totally fine with me working whenever I wanted to.  I have a meeting on Tuesday evening to see the facility and have more of an official interview. 

I definitely need more details.  Also my husband is out of town and I need to discuss it with him.  If it is a good fit I would probably work the two evenings that my arena is booked.  Potentially this could be a great opportunity for me and the horses. But maybe I want to just work one full-time job and enjoy some free time for a change!

Has anyone ever been a working student?  Or had a part-time working student opportunity?  I was supposed to be a working student when I was 21 at a dressage barn in North Carolina.  At the last minute plans fell apart.  The trainer turned out to be a creep and pretty much a horse abuser, so I decided not to go.  I'm disappointed that I didn't seek out another opportunity at that time rather than just quitting on the whole idea. 

Thursday, 16 April 2015

My First World Saddle Problems

Ugh!  I have quite a few updates on the saddle front.

First off, I haven't yet mentioned that I have sold my western saddle.  After an evaluation by my friend (who is also a skilled saddle fitter) we determined that it was too tight in the shoulders for Apollo. It was too large for Mystic and Henry so I decided to sell it. 

Sadly I never got to ride in this cushiony saddle

Luckily for me another friend was interested in it.  She took it on trial to ensure it fit both of her horses.  After two months had passed I mentioned to her that she needed to make a decision. She decided that she wasn't interested.  I took it to a tack consignment shop.  As soon as she heard that I had taken it in to consign she decided she wanted it after all.  So... whatever, it's sold now.  It was frustrating to be jerked around by a "friend" and in the future I will not be giving anyone a trial period with one of my saddles. 

As mentioned previously - I finally picked up my cloud saddle (which is  a schleese wave!) after the re-flock.  I rode in it on Sunday for the first time.  It looked a bit tight in the shoulders but I was hoping the flocking would settle a bit after riding in it.  It felt great for the first 10 minutes of my ride.  Then slowly Apollo started getting tighter and tighter.  Eventually he started throwing in some crowhops and I could tell he was uncomfortable.  I've decided to wait to ride again until my follow-up appointment with the saddle fitter on April 28.  I am extremely frustrated.  I have been without a saddle for two months now!  Arg!  I've been making the best of things in the bareback pad but I'm losing patience.  I don't really have a choice but to keep waiting.

So much cloud...

I took a few photos and e-mailed them to the saddle fitter.

Too tight here:

Too loose here:

I'm hoping she can make the adjustments on site and I won't have to send the saddle out of town again.  Fingers and hooves crossed!

I've been looking for an inexpensive AP/CC saddle for Apollo in the meantime.  It would be nice to have something I could jump in if we get there and having a spare saddle that fits him decently sounds practical.  I've been emailing about this older Stubben.  They offer a 5 day trial period so I might be trying it out later in the month. 

When I first bought Apollo I bought an older Stubben (mid-1990s style) for him.  It fit him like a glove but I found the seat very hard and uncomfortable.  It was also a larger seat size that I need, which didn't help.  I'm hoping that since the shape of a Stubben seemed to work on him before that this will be an OK fit.  If I could get it for under $500 that would fit into my very limited spare saddle budget.

I rode Apollo in bareback pad last night.   He was very bratty!  He started crowhopping and was generally being a turd.  He definitely has spring fever right now and was very distracted about leaving his ladies in the herd.  I blame myself for unintentionally teaching him on Sunday that crowhopping means the ride is over.  Silly me and my sympathy for a horse wearing an uncomfortable saddle! 

I got a few polite trot transitions and then I hopped off and lunged him.  I got back on and asked for a little bit more trot.  He complied but I could tell he wasn't 100% cooperative.  I honestly do not want to be schooling my cheeky spring time horse in a bareback pad, but I don't really know what other option I have.  When I go out tonight we will definitely be having a lunging session before I hop on.  If he's behaving like an idiot this evening I will probably just stay on the ground until I have a saddle.  I'm not afraid of him and his little bucks/crowhops aren't terrifying but I don't think it's a smart decision to be spanking schooling him when I have no stirrups. 

I am excited for my saddle fitter appointment on the 28th for another reason.  I'm hoping that my DK saddle can be adjusted to fit Mystic (or even Henry).  If it can work for one of them that would be a huge relief.  Since no one will ever want to buy that stupid saddle, it would be awesome if it could fit a current herd member.  It is a high quality saddle and it's just collecting dust at this point. 

Hopefully all will be resolved shortly...!

Monday, 13 April 2015

Monday Bunday: Late Easter Edition

So I took some cutesy Easter-themed photos of the bunnitos last week.  I'm a bit slow getting them up...but better late than never! 

I'm happy a few photos turned out!  I mostly have pics of the rabbits trying to eat the fake plant.

If you ever feel a bit like this....

Remember that...

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Return of an Important Accessory

I picked up my saddle today!  Yipee!!! :)

This is a pic of Henry wearing it a few months ago

I haven't had a saddle for Apollo for TWO MONTHS.  I am so ready to ride in my comfy cloud saddle!

In the meantime I have been riding Apollo in my bareback pad.  It's Best Friends English-style bareback pad.  They are cheap, comfy and easy to clean.  I bought mine for my high-withered thoroughbred over 8 years ago and I can't say enough good things about it.  Even my young horses wear it sometimes too to get used to the feeling of wearing a girth.  Eventually I want to do a whole post on these but that day is not today!

Hopefully I will have some photos/videos of the saddle in action soon!

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Trimming: The Neurotic Edition

I was signed up for a barefoot trimming course in September, there was a freak snowstorm and it was cancelled.  I wasn’t able to make any of the other trimming clinics that were offered as make-up clinics.  

How did I feel when the clinic was cancelled?  I felt relieved.  
The idea of trimming my own horses really stresses me out.  Maybe I am just being neurotic... Here are a few of the areas that concern me:

1)      I am a picker.   Allow me to elaborate... I can’t leave things alone.  If I have a zit on my face I cannot just leave it alone and I will pick at it until there is a scar.  I recently had to throw away my tweezers so I would leave my poor eyebrows alone.  I pick at everything.  Practicing proper horse first aid is truly an exercise in restraint for me.  I worry that hooves will turn into “bad bangs” that are constantly cut shorter and shorter on each side until there is nothing left.   I am worried that I will spend 7 hours on one hoof and become a complete crazy person.
2)      I am afraid to ruin their hooves forever and have crippled horses.  And really I am afraid to cause them any pain or discomfort, but lifelong agony would be the worse-case scenario here.

3)      I have a bad back.  I have scoliosis.  And just generally I have a weak back.  It actually hurts to sweep the barn when I’m working.  It also kind of hurts my back to pick out hooves, which is why I’m such a taskmaster with my horses about having polite hoof manners.

4)      I don’t really care about hooves.  I care about hooves in the sense that I want my horses to be sound of course; I just don’t really care how/why.  I have tried multiple times to read literature about hooves and trimming to ease my neuroses about trimming my own horses.  And I find it incredibly boring.  Maybe I haven’t found the perfect hoof guru or maybe when I’m doing hands-on work it will be more interesting to me...but at the time being I find it to be kind of a snorefest. 

Okay, so those are the concerns that keep me up at night when my farrier reminds me that she still has my deposit and I should pick my dates for the spring/summer trimming clinics.  

Part of me is very confused by my fears about trimming my own horses.  I feel like in general I am happy to learn new things and am not a neurotic weirdo.  Henry was unhandled when he arrived and I was unfazed by that.  I have done all the work on my young horses myself and I will likely start them myself...with no experience doing that.  And that doesn’t bother me.  But the trimming...I don’t know.  

I would look excellent in some pink chaps ....

It would be wonderful to trim my horses for the following two reasons:

1)      My schedule is tricky and so is my farrier’s.  We really struggle to find appointment times that work.

2)      I like the idea of handling this area of horse care myself (in theory).  The cost savings would be beneficial.  And having the skills to chip away at an issue without having to wait for my farrier would be nice.

Hmmm.  Thoughts?

Thursday, 2 April 2015

All is Quiet

I'm on vacation for a few days and I'm so happy to finally have a moment to catch up on things (I also slept for 12 hours last night...which was amazing).

I survived my crazy March plans!  To summarize I planned to ride & workout everyday, dress for success, and blog daily. 

I had great success in my daily rides and work outs.  One or two were missed but I kept at it.  I realized how important going to the gym is for my mental health.  I have never felt as happy as I did in March.  This is something that I will be continuing with for sure.  Also being able to wear my size 80 (28L) Pikeur full seats again has been so awesome.  I have been making a huge effort to dress up for work more.  I've also treated myself to a few new purchases (a necklace, a dress and a pair of jeans).  I've put a bit more effort into my appearance at barn too.  I do feel a lot better about myself when I look more put together.  I will definitely be continuing to work on "dressing for success" in the future.

My favorite view!

I failed on the daily blogging portion of my plan but even that was kind of a happy fail.  I felt like I didn't have much to say other than "everthing is going well" and I was almost afraid to jinx it.

Henry's ground manners improved in leaps and bounds.  It's amazing how actually spending time working on that with him will result in improvement....go figure.  He also looks amazing for this time of year.  He has started shedding and his coat is shiny.  The last two years he didn't shed out until June.  So I think the new nutrition plan has been helping him a lot. 

Muddy Henry

Apollo was visited by the Back on Track fairy!  I ordered the following (after over 5 months of saving):

1) Two black dressage pads
2) One mesh sheet w/o neck (size 84")
3) One fleece sheet w/ neck (size 84")
4) Four quick wraps (in the largest size...I forget what that is)

My initial impression of the products is that the quality is amazing.  I've been using the mesh sheet for 20 minutes before my rides and I haven't noticed huge changes....maybe small changes if I'm really looking for them.   I did notice after our rides that when I pick up his hind hooves his legs actually spring up.  Usually he holds them very low and isn't super willing to move them higher.

The instructions are for him to wear it for 4 hours at a time to start but unfortunately I don't trust his herd members not to destroy his expensive new clothes.  Eventually he will wear the BOT mesh sheet under his winter blanket.  I planned for him to wear the quick wraps before our rides also but I haven't done that yet. 

There were two days in March where Mystic was acting sort of strangely.  She wasn't disobedient but she was more "up" than usual and didn't really seem to enjoy brushing as she usually does.  Her gut sounds, temperature and respirations were all normal.  After much googling I decided that she was in heat.  I haven't owned a mare before so this is a bit new to me!  I have an appointment later on in April with the saddle fitter.  We are hoping we can get my DK saddle to fit Mystic (because it will never fit Apollo properly and no one will ever want to buy it).

Fuzzy mare!

March really showed me that I can get a lot more done than I thought.   My March Manifesto really started the ball rolling on some good things in my life.  :)