Sunday, 27 September 2015

Apollo's Fall Photoshoot!

My husband was nice enough to take some lovely photos of me and my big pony today.  I love the fall colors so much! 

Here's a few of my favorites:
My number #1 favorite!

 It was very bright out, so I'm squinting awkwardly in pretty much every picture.

Apollo just wanted to eat...the entire time.

Love you big pony. <3

Un-Natural Horsemanship

I've been working really hard on getting Mystic lunging politely this month.  And since Henry's evil alter ego (who I call TurdHenry) has returned I've been working with him quite a bit too.

Speaking of TurdHenry... 

I've had some great moments but there have been a few things I seem to get stuck on.  I've had some trouble with the shape of Mystic's lunging circles (they're a bit...oval).  And Henry doesn't really respect my personal space as much as he should.  I feel like Henry and I get into a cycle of me shoo-ing him away and him creeping back in.

I decided to book a session with the coach who I mentioned here yesterday.  Her training focuses on classical dressage and some principles of natural horsemanship.  I e-mailed her specifically asking for help with Mystic's lunging and for a little help with Henry on the ground.  I was hoping a second pairs of eyes and hands would really help un-stick us.

We worked with Mystic for about an hour and half.  I was really proud of my little mare.  The trainer threw a lot of weird exercises at us and she really rose to the occasion.  We worked on yielding the shoulders and hindquarters.  We worked on using driving aids in-hand and going through/over obstacles.  I definitely put a lot of tools in my toolbox.  I felt like an hour and half was a bit long for Mystic (and me, to be honest).

Mystic wearing her pink and sparkly slinky I bought for her a while ago #bestpony

When Henry's turn arrived I was feeling a bit mentally fried.  I find in-hand work and groundwork is a lot more difficult for my brain to absorb.  He's the more challenging horse of the two so I suggested that we shorten his session as I was feeling a bit overloaded.  She offered to work with him to show me a few things I could practice on my own (I opted to video this as my brain was at capacity).

She really liked Henry.  She actually expressed interest in purchasing him if he was ever for sale.  But she agreed that he was the more difficult of the two.  She recommended keeping him busy and mixing up his activities/exercise often.  She actually decided to bridle him (first time ever) and work with him in that rather than the halter.  It was pretty cool to see him looking all grown up.  He thought it was pretty weird.

What do think Henry?

WTF mom

I always find myself feeling the same way after I take any lessons that have a "natural horsemanship" feel....

It's really hard for me and I don't enjoy it.  

I don't.  I hate the extra long lead ropes.  I hate the dressage whip with a string or a bag on it. I can't handle all that extra crap.  I also really suck at it.  It doesn't come "naturally" to me.  At all.  I am truly terrible at it.

I also don't give two shits about making my horse stand on a pedestal or playing the fucking friendly game with me.*  Sometimes I wish I did.   

There's part of that feels like some natural horsemanship techniques offer a more horse-friendly approach to training.  I think I actually feel guilty for not liking it more.  I feel like I should...but I don't.  I have no judgement for people who enjoy NH-type training and find success with it.  I wish I was one of you - but it just doesn't grab me.    

*I understand there is a lot more to it than that. I also understand that there are many types of training that vary a great deal but fall under the very large "natural horsemanship" umbrella.

I genuinely feel like I added some good tools into my toolbox during my lesson.  But I didn't accomplish the number one goal that I mentioned twice during our e-mail exchange when booked the lesson (I WANT MYSTIC TO LUNGE PERFECTLY AT THE W/T/C).  I don't have a lot of extra room in my budget for lessons so I'm a bit disappointed.   But maybe she was pulling the old Mr. Miyagi and next time I try to lunge Mystic it will be a harmonious and beautiful event.  I can certainly see how yielding the shoulder and hindquarter will be helpful for lunging in future.

I can't really decide if I want to continue with the odd in-hand/on the ground lesson or not. I was thinking of doing a monthly or bi-monthly session with Henry over the winter.  She has a lot to teach me.  I just don't know that I'm the right student.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Musical Saddles

I don’t think I ever mentioned how the extra wide County Competitor saddle went.  The seller was so amazing, she gave me lots of additional photos and measurements.  I wanted it to fit so badly. 

But no.  Too narrow for my big boy!  

I actually quite liked the saddle.  I bet an extra extra wide would have fit him (they exist and I will forever be looking now).  It was barely too narrow…but when I walked around in it for 5 minutes I could tell he was uncomfortable.  I was hoping maybe a strategic reflock would help but my friend/saddle fitter extraordinaire/bodyworker was the voice of reason for me.  She said that a re-flock wouldn’t help.  

Back to the treeless monstrosity for us!  He loves that saddle so much. And my budget doesn’t really allow for additional saddle shopping at the moment.  We mostly walk on our trail rides anyways so I’ll use it when I ride outside and when I ride in the arena I’ll just ride in my bareback pad.  I can stand it at the walk, beyond that it’s too uncomfortable and I feel like it’s destroying my riding position/ giving me a chair seat at any faster gaits.

I thought maybe the County would work on Mystic, but it’s actually too wide for her.  So I have taken it to a consignment shop to be sold.  

Too wide for this pony! 

Oh a whim I decided to try Mystic’s exselle saddle from my aunt on again.  She goes for training in 37 days (!) and I wanted to check the fit again.  And now it’s too narrow!  

So I decided to pull my much-complained-about DK saddle from the tack shop for Mystic.  I will be harassing the saddle fitter to come out and adjust it for me soon (not my friend mentioned above, someone who has the special equipment to adjust DK saddles).  I will likely be reflocking it again…after the lousy initial wool flock.  

I can’t believe I have the DK again.  The last time I took it out of my car I told myself I would never have to look at it again.  But…here we are.  

When I bought it I loved it so much I put it on a chair next to my bed so I could look at it every morning when I woke up.  I felt like I did right by my horse by having a custom saddle made for him.  And I thought it was the most beautiful saddle I’d ever seen.  I’m trying to get back to that frame of mind.

It is kind of beautiful...

I will hereby be putting a stop to all negative DK comments.  Not because the company doesn’t suck (because they do) but I don’t want to have lots of negative baggage attached to Mystic’s first saddle.  I’m going to try and think of it’s as Mystic’s first big girl saddle and nothing else.

In further musical saddle news, I saw this at the tack consignment shop near my work yesterday:

It's also a sensation treeless saddle but it doesn't have the annoying thing at the front that my current saddle does (see pic below for comparison).  The price is reasonable and I can tell from their online album that it's been there since March.  So I feel like I can low-ball them a bit.  I'll still have to wait until the county saddle sells though as it's not in my budget at the moment.  I think I would be much happier in that saddle (it's no schleese but I would like it a lot better than my current one).

Ignore the falling backwards shift in this photo and notice the ginormous horn thing at the front...

And my aunt's exselle saddle sort of fits Henry now.  So everyone sort of has their own saddle, for now :)

Thursday, 17 September 2015

ROMFH International Full Seat Breeches Review – Part One

Why is this two part review?...  

Because I haven’t ridden in these breeches yet.  When I bought them they felt pretty tight but I had just eaten a huge breakfast and had a completely full bladder.  They were on sale for 60% off so I went for it ($159.95 regular price, $63.98 sale price). I figured once I wasn’t so bloated they’d fit fine.  


 Props to my cat, Spartacus, for getting in the way for almost every photo.

That deal though...

So I don’t feel like I can give a full review until I’m able to ride in them without feeling like a stuffed sausage.  For comparison I rode in my Jut-ey breeches last Friday and they were snug but wearable.  They’re both 28L full seats...so these might fit a bit smaller size-wise.

The breeches are super classy looking with lots of beautiful detailing.  

My favorite thing about them is the back of the beltloop: 

But the kneepack area detail is pretty cool too:

The fabric feels breathable but durable.  I’m 6 feet tall so I like that they’re more of a medium rise rather than a low-rise.  The posterior region is super flattering.  I hate when breeches make me look like I have a flat ass (which I sort of do....but some breeches don’t do me any favors).  I think they’re beautiful breeches and I can’t wait to ride in them. :)

Smartpak actually has these breeches on sale right now for $129.95 (american funds).  Check them out here.  Riding warehouse has a similar style for $159.95 here.  RW has much nicer photos of the knee patch area detail too!

My goal is to be able to do part two sometime near the end of October (as I started back at the gym earlier this month).  :)

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Quid Pro Quo

*note: I wrote this on my phone... The formatting and pics look a bit weird*

I’m not sure if it’s abundantly clear in my blog or not...but I’ve had kind of a struggle finding a suitable lesson program.  There wasn’t always a piece that didn’t quite fit. 

I recently had to sit myself down and think about what I want to get out of lessons.  I was so lost when Apollo’s lameness issues cropped up; I didn’t really feel like I could work towards anything because I felt his future soundness was uncertain.
But now I have a goal.  And it’s so much easier to make a plan when you have a goal.

GOAL:  Mystic and I are going to do some dressage schooling shows and do Starter Level events next season. 

Here’s what I would like to get out lessons (with my new goal in mind):
1)      Improve confidence
2)      Find a mentor
3)      Expand current skillset
4)      Have fun

First here’s a quick re-cap of my lessons in the last 6 months:
1)      I previously mentioned a trial lesson with a coach, S, who is studying the School de Legerete (Philipe Karl).  I quite liked her.  But we weren’t ever able to schedule a follow up lesson and her lesson costs also increased substantially (by $50…which is nothing to sneeze at).

2)      I also recently took a lesson at an eventing barn.  Which was actually amazing and quite helpful (I likely won’t get around to a proper re-cap).  The coach, D, is my eventing yoda. 

3)      I also took lessons for a while at the dressage barn that I worked at with coach, B.  I found these very educational and actually quite fun.  I did find the cost a bit prohibitive.

I think I thought one instructor would show up and meet all of my needs for lessons.  Maybe some people are that lucky but for me that isn’t realistic.  I feel quite lucky that actually had fun taking lessons with the three coaches I met in the last 6 months.  They all had something different to teach me (equally valuable). 
So in September I will take two in-hand lessons with S (school de legerete coach).  Going forward lessons with S will likely be only every month or two because of the cost.  But I got a lot out of our one lesson together and would like to keep learning from her. 
I plan to do weekly lessons with D and B going forward (late September start date for D, early October for B).  I was offered a reduced rate for taking a shorter lesson with both - which is perfect for my attention span and my budget!

So with this new plan in place here is how I picture me getting what I want out of lessons:
1)      Improve confidence - All
2)      Find a mentor – Coach D ftw
3)      Expand current skillset – All (with different focuses)
4)      Have fun – All

I’ve recently been thrown the curveball of my husband’s lay off.  But I’ve countered that with picking up a buttload of hours at my old job and picking up turn-in duties at the barn that Mystic is moving to.
I’m pretty excited about my new plan!  I think I’ve finally set myself up for success.  :)

Saturday, 12 September 2015

NHW Blog Hop

NHW asks us to talk about a challenge we've set for ourselves and accomplished, or set ourselves a new challenge. Thanks for the great blog hop NHW :)

My response is a two parter.  I'd like to celebrate a challenge that I completed this year and share a new challenge that I've been presented with just this last week.

First up, I ran my first 5k ever this year!  I've been a lifelong runner but for some reason every time I've signed up for race I would bungle something.  I would run too hard right before and either hurt myself or get sick.  I honestly have no idea what my mental block was.  

But I'm proud to share that on June 27 I ran a 5k with my friend, Jen.  It was a super hot day and since I get heatstroke really easily we initially decided to walk most of it.  But once we were out there we ran a good 75% of it!  Our time was about 35 mins (we timed with her phone, there weren't any chip timers at the event).  

My post-race number (proudly displayed on my fridge now)

Blurry/colorful post-race me


I had so much fun that I'm doing a local "neon run" next weekend with Jen and another friend.  :)
Now for my new challenge...

Life is great at throwing curve balls. 

After months of job uncertainly (due to the economic conditions in his industry) my husband accepted a great new job three weeks ago.  It was a stable permanent position with benefits.  We started talking about selling our condo and buying a house (which has been up in air for a million years).  It felt like we could actually start making plans.

Yesterday he was laid off. 

I was pretty surprised.  But I know he’s a hard worker who will find a new job soon.  And I was able to pick up some additional hours at the barn where Mystic will be moving for training and at my previous job.  I am feeling incredibly determined to keep as many of my horsey plans for the year as I can.  This won't be easy but it will be worth it.  This is my new challenge to myself. 
Wise words from "The Last Lecture"

Thanks again NHW, I'm enjoying reading everyone's responses. :)

Friday, 4 September 2015

Vet Bill Price Game.... Congrats Emma!

I gave everyone the chance to guess my vet bill here

And I'm happy to announce the winner is Emma of 'Fraidy Cat Eventing!  Her guess of $1000 was only $1.75 off the total price.  Emma please shoot me an e-mail at dreaming900 (at) hotmail (dot)com to pick out which pair of socks you would like!

Here's the bill! (I can post the rest of page one if anyone is interested, I couldn't get it in the print screen without zooming out majorly!)

Congrats Emma!  Thanks everyone for participating :)

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

September Goals

Going forward I plan to more actively make (and complete!) monthly goals for myself and my horses.   This month my goals for September are a bit lofty but doable.

1)      Clean car.  (in desperate need)
2)      Buy/find a bit & bridle combination for Mystic.
3)      Lose 4 pounds. (ugh…wearing breeches instead of sweat pants would be swell)
4)      Make a proper to-do list for Mystic with assistance from potential trainer and “Making Not Breaking” by Cherry Hill.
5)      Buy/borrow a bridle for Mystic.

1)      Lunge walk/trot/canter politely in both directions.
2)      Have a bath and be tidied (mane trim and tail banged).
3)      Practice using hoof stand.
4)      Wear a bridle.

1)      Improve ground manners. 
2)      Be tidied (mane trim and tail banged).
3)      Practice using hoof stand.

1)      Be ridden 4 times a week.
2)      Be tidied (mane trim and tail banged).
3)      Practice using hoof stand.
4)      Participate in photoshoot with Kate (done by Mr. Kate).

Friendly reminder to enter a guess on my vet bill here.  Contest ends tomorrow at midnight! :)