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Friday, 30 September 2016

Possibilities

I have wanted to live on an acreage since I was seven years old.  I took my first ever riding lesson that year.  

Eventually my parents bought Deputy - a senior citizen Quarter Horse X Arab.   I rode him in riding lessons/summer camps, my dad took him cattle penning, my mom took lessons on him and my brother occasionally trail rode him.  I so desperately wanted Deputy to live in my backyard (so I could feed him carrots out of my bedroom window….for some reason).


Me stylin' and profilin' in 1992-ish





When I was 12 years old my parents re-located for work.   In our new city we looked at a few acreages.  Nothing fit the bill.  Over my teen years they would still look at one here and there.  Probably more than they told me (because they didn’t want to get my hopes up/I was incredibly annoying about it).

The time came to buy my own place.  I was 22 years old and settled for a little condo close to my work that would allow me to get a dog. 

I had started thinking about acreages again when I knew I was dating the man I would marry.  I allowed myself to add to my herd (hello Henry and Mystic!) because I hoped an acreage would be in our 3-5 year plan.  I worked part-time jobs to afford them, dreaming that one day they’d be in my backyard.  We got married and included our weird equine family members in the photos.

I did not even try to hide my crazy.



Then the economy started to go downhill.  My husband’s job was uncertain.  After a year of waffling he took a new position at a company that sounded more long term.  He was laid off after two weeks (so no severance pay…hurrah).  He was out of work for 8 months.  It was a stressful time for both of us and I started to feel like we’d live in the condo forever.  My acreage felt very far away.

A few months ago my husband got a new job.  He thought we should chat with a mortgage broker about buying a house.  To be honest, thinking about a bigger mortgage and the stress of selling/moving gave me anxiety.  But I agreed to get some information.     

I found out yesterday that we're approved for enough money to buy a modest acreage.  And the monthly cost will be pretty comparable to my current mortgage+condo fees+horse board payments.

So…

Late this winter or early in the spring, my condo will be listed for sale.  And my husband and I will begin shopping for an acreage once it sells.  I’m trying to not get too carried away with excitement, as our acreage budget is truly quite meager compared to what exists in the market.  But I am hopeful! 


Hope to see these faces in my own backyard in 2017:)



I know it's probably bad luck to talk about these things before they happen...but 7 year old me can't shut up.




Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Henry Lesson #2



Henry and I had lesson number 2 on Saturday afternoon.  We have worked hard on our forward button while ST was away for the last two weeks.  Unfortunately life got pretty busy last week, so he ended up having 5 days off. 







He's not a hot horse but it's not my ideal plan of attack to have a lesson on any horse (particularly a baby horse) after that many days off.  Ugh!   I confessed my sin to ST and we prepared to give him a little more time to get back into the groove.





But he was a complete rock star!!!





He remembered all of our practice and was much more steerable.  We did half of our lesson inside and moved onto the front lawn to trot over some poles. 





ST gave me lots of compliments about Henry.  She seems really impressed by how sensible he is under saddle for such a green/young guy.  He tries so hard!  That weird little horse has the biggest heart.





I find that I get really tired and sweaty riding Henry.  He is more of a push ride and I feel it in my legs the next day for sure.  Does anyone have any tips or exercises for improving my fitness for this type of horse?  I am running again, so my cardio is getting better.  My legs are just not used to having to do much as Apollo and Mystic are both quite forward (so my legs are on but not squeezing/kicking ever).  Henry also has kind of a huge bouncy trot and it takes a lot more muscle control to stay with the movement and not flop around.  I really feel my lacking fitness when I ride him. 




Well deserved post-lesson snack :)







Our homework is to trot poles and expect accuracy (pick the exact spot I want to cross over it and make it happen).  I need to buy a different dressage whip too, as the one I have is too long and is awkward to hold.  ST has been very complimentary of my position but she does want me to carry my hands a bit more (I end up doing weird things with wrists carrying the dressage whip) and I need to watch my rein length.  I think because Henry isn’t super forward I give him lots of rein to move into…but that doesn’t really help our steering. 






Hanging saddle pads to dry in the bathroom #equestrianprobs







One of my favorite things that ST has mentioned a few times is to ride him like he’s broke.  I shouldn’t accept less than I asked for because he’s a baby, particularly in the forward department.  He needs to learn that it’s his job to go forward.  I am totally guilty of being like “oh well this is a nice slow speed… I’ll take it”, when he’s crawling along and not tracking up… because don’t want to push too hard and have an explosion because he’s a baby.  But I don’t really think he’ll explode.  And even if he does, we need to have that conversation.



I hope next Saturday that ST will take a bit of video of us! :)






Monday, 26 September 2016

Notes from the Trail Challenge

I decided to volunteer at a trail challenge on the weekend!  RK (Henry's trainer) was hosting one and I thought I'd help out.

I'm hoping at some point Henry and I can participate (the next one is in the spring).  I will definitely be organizing a trailer if I haven't bought one by then - this trail challenge looked like so much fun!

I was in charge of parking.

Respect the vest.



It was chilly out but the view wasn't bad.




Some of the obstacles were really crazy.  I took a pictures of a few that I want to practice this winter (poor Henry).



You had to walk on a pallet covered with a tarp, in between two giant stuffed dogs (with a nearby row of scarecrows).  Horses were so not cool with this.



It's hard to tell from the photo but there was orange and red tinsel on top of the barrels and also dangling along the fence in a few places!





Bridge with scarecrows hanging on the side and a tarp underneath (with a line of scarecrows randomly in the arena)!




Henry could do this for sure, just a boring plank to stand on.





This was the most weird obstacle to me.  You had to pick up a garbage bag of metal coffee cans and throw it into another barrel.  I am not sure what Henry would think of that!



Cowboy curtain!  Shredded tarp with dangling pool noodles.



Backing up through a course of poles (the poles weren't all set up at this point).



You had to get your horse to kick the ball through the "goal"!



There was another element that involved crossing a metal bridge, crossing the creek, jumping a tiny log, going through a very dense section of bush.  I don't have any photos of that section because it was a bit tight in there, so I didn't walk through it.


But I do have these photos of Henry being an BAMF on the bridge and creek from last spring!



Henry the water horse







This bridge is super scary.  It's metal (very loud) and the horses can see through to the bottom.  One lady's horse spooked so hard they almost fell off the bridge (another horse ran through the creek underneath her when she was crossing).  Pretty scary. Henry was a not a huge fan of this bridge but went across it after RK showed him it was safe.


#rubberbootsforlyfe




Everyone was super nice at the trail challenge.  I'm excited to come back with Henry in the spring!  I overheard someone making a crack about how a warmblood would have a heart attack just looking in the arena (said in good fun)... I so wanted to steal their horse trailer and go pick up my warmblood - who would undoubtedly kick their ass.  But I restrained. :P



The wilderness warmblood is coming for you in the spring trail people!



Friendly reminder to get your "between the ears" pics in for my upcoming giveaway!  See here for details!

Henry had lesson #2 with coach ST on the weekend, details to follow :)

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Upcoming Blog Giveaway! (aka Guess Who? Between the Ears Edition)

So its birthday on October 29th and I’ve decided to do a give-away in honor of me getting older old.

But I need your help!  I thought it would be fun to have fellow bloggers send in their “between the ears” photos and then everyone could guess who is who(for sweet prizes - that have yet to be determined!). 



Anyone else have this sweet game growing up?




So here are the rules for submissions:

1)      Include a “between the ears” photo, preferably one that has not been shared on your blog/other social media to dreaming900(at)hotmail(dot)com

2)      With the photo submission include the following details:

-          The horse’s name
-          Your name and blog details

3)      You are welcome to submit up to three photos (can be different horses or the same horse)

4)      Submit photos by October 21, 2016.



I will be doing a draw for everyone who submits their “between the ears” photos for a small prize also.


Mystic - the ear model




On Monday, October 24th the photos will be posted and ready to be guessed!  If more than one person has the same correct number of answers, I will do a draw to determine the winner.  The contest will close on October 28th  at midnight (mountain time...or I will be confused).


The winner of the small photo submission draw and the “grand prize” for correctly identifying the most pairs of ears will be announced on October 29th (my b-day!).


I hope everyone will participate!  It should be fun! 

Once I have figured out more details for prizing I will share here. :)


Thursday, 15 September 2016

Five Good Things

I don't have anything super exciting going on with my horses right now (which I am grateful for, boring is good).  But I do have five pieces of good news to share!


1)  I have been running again.  Finally.  I have been trying to re-catch the running bug for what feels like years.  And I feel like I have it again.  Running is so good for my mental and physical health so I'm super happy about this!


2) I bought Mystic a western saddle.  I wasn't super happy with how her english saddle was fitting.  I still want to get a dressage saddle for her but I thought a western might be comfier on the trail.  It should arrive next week sometime.  I hope that possibly Apollo can share it.... but we'll see.  Fingers crossed it's a good fit!

Here it is! Nothing fancy but should do the trick :)



3) I have two days off!  I've been working a ton at my part-time job and I have tomorrow and Sunday completely off.  It is nice to work more at my part-time job ($$ & pretty much getting paid to sit at a desk and read blogs) but it will be way more fun to sleep in and hang out with the horses all day. :)


4) I'm dying my hair back to the natural color!  I am so so so sick of the purple but I haven't been able to afford to get it fixed at the salon until now.

So long grape head



5) I have a fun blog contest/giveaway planned that I will announce shortly!  One of my many harebrained ideas I had while driving.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Mounting Block - Revisited

I have mentioned my mounting block fears on the blog before.  A few months ago I felt that I had conquered them because I honestly didn’t think about it anymore. 

And then Apollo dumped me twice after bolting at the mounting block (once I landed on my side and once I landed on my head). 



Hello darkness, my old friend....





I worried that setback would turn into a downhill spiral of me not being able to mount any of my horses.  But it didn’t.  Henry is like the most chill dude ever at the mounting block.  Mystic is very good too.  Mighty Mare (my usual lesson horse at Coach D’s) has a habit of walking off right away.... which does make me a little nervous but I am getting better at correcting her and it doesn’t unnerve me as much as it did right after my two falls.  



But I do not trust Apollo.  I sometimes get these weird flashbacks of my recent falls as I’m about to get on and it can be very difficult to manage.  Sometimes he has been a bit bolty and rude but mostly he’s been fine.  I find the more nervous I am... the worse he is.  



One of the things I discovered as part of the “root” of this problem is grabbing mane when I get on.  I never used to do this but I got into the habit of it with the young horses.  I wanted to make sure I didn’t catch them in the mouth if I lost my balance getting on.  Out of habit I started doing that with Apollo too.  And I noticed he started to get a bit rude at the mounting block sometimes (and it gradually got worse...) and so grabbing mane made even more sense.  Both times after I fell off he was shaking his head a lot.  And one of the first rides back when he bolted and I didn’t fall (and I had a clenched fistful of mane) he shook his head a lot too.

So as an experiment, I mounted him without grabbing mane.  And he stood like a rock.  Huh.

That experiment was very difficult for me haha!  Being already kind of afraid and getting without my mane “safety net” was not easy.  



So I’ve been doing my best not to grab mane now when I mount up.  I’m kind of clumsy (especially when I’m really nervous -  my coordination goes out the window) so sometimes I still end up grabbing mane... and the results are mixed.  I really love riding Apollo but this mounting hurdle has been a challenge.  

It’s also a super embarrassing problem to have.  Like “Oh hello, I ride my two green beans horses on trail rides alone all the time.... but I am terrified to mount my 17 year old horse who I’ve ridden for 9 years.”  

Like WTF?!

These are my current interim measures until I feel like Apollo and I are a safer pair at the mounting block again... perhaps in another 9 years? :(  

1)      I don’t grab mane*
2)       I don’t ride bareback. (no stirrups = less balance when mounting...which makes me sad because I love riding him bareback)
3)      I try to get on fairly quickly and not stand on the mounting block working myself into a panic.
4)      I try to remember to breathe.
5)      I give him a ton of praise when he stands quietly.
6)      If possible I will ask Coach D or my husband to hold him (but I am usually alone).

*unless I think I may die.

Anyone have any other suggestions for me?  I’m hoping after a few months of good behaviour I will feel more relaxed again and we will have rebuilt our trust bank.  



To be honest (I feel like a horrible horse owner saying this) there are some days where I could ride him but I don’t...because I don’t want to deal with the mounting block stuff.  He’s a bit pudgy (although I have been riding a fair bit) and more rides/exercise would help both of us.

First Lesson!

Henry had his first ever lesson on Saturday!  I think ST is a really good fit for us and she has a regular spot carved out in her schedule for us (9am on Saturdays).  I will likely do some lessons with Coach D at some point too – at the moment her schedule is a bit hectic so I don’t know if we could nail down the same time every week.  



If you follow me on instagram you may notice that Henry has pretty much taken over lately.  He is suddenly looking very handsome and grown up, I can’t stop taking pictures/video of him!

After having a month off (in July for the splint) and then only having four rides in August (because I was out of town so much)... Henry and I need work!  Our biggest issues are moving forward and then once we are moving forward...the steering goes.  He will walk out nicely for me in the hay field but in the arena he is so not excited about life.   Sadly in a few months it will be winter, so the indoor arena will be all we’ve got.  



I feel really safe on him, even though it’s a lot more work to keep him going... I don’t feel like he’s going to bolt, rear, buck or do anything silly.  Stopping/slowly crawling along is an annoying evasion but it’s not scary.   He has kind of a big trot and I feel bad because sometimes once I get him trotting I feel very bouncy/tense (so I’m possibly giving some mixed stop/go signals as I try to organize myself).  The trot is where the steering really goes out the window, which is a legit thing to be tense about haha.



Our current skill level is: Walk, trot, occasional steering, walking over tarps and poles, and being excellent on the trail 

Goals for the next six months: W/T/C, trotting over poles and maybe small crossrails, A+ steering

ST had such nice things to say about Henry!  She thinks he has an adorable face and seemed relaxed.  When I first got on a cat ran behind him and he completely shrugged (good baby pony).  She also told me that I didn’t look too big on him (thank you ST <3) and that he would likely grow and fill out quite a bit over the next year or two.  

15.3 and 3/4hh...come on 16hh!



She gave me a dressage whip to use to help us with our forward issue.  The moment he ignored my leg, he got a tap.  He was super respectful of it.  She told us to focus on going forward and making sure that he’s working harder than me.  Once he was going forward the steering was ALOT easier, not perfect but much better.  We even did a round-ish 20m circle in the trot!  Also when he’s tracking up properly in the trot it’s not as bouncy.  

ST told me not to worry about bouncing a bit or losing my balance sometimes; being perfect all the time won’t teach Henry to think for himself.  She thought my seat and equitation looked very good (which was nice to hear!).  



Our homework is FORWARD!  She thinks about after a few rides with the dressage whip we will have it down :) She is away for the next two Saturdays so I have lots of time to work on my “forward” homework.  I’m hoping to wow her when she’s back on September 24th!

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Grateful

I had a pretty cool day today.



I rode Henry in his first lesson with his new coach, ST.  Apollo and I had a quick lesson with Coach D.  I zipped out to get Mystic's hooves trimmed before I left for work.  When she saw me she came galloping/whinnying at me (which pretty much makes my heart explode with joy).

As I drove into work I started thinking about how grateful I am.

This last year has not been an easy one.  I am not where I thought I'd be when I was 30 years old. But you know what?... I am incredibly happy.  Days like today erase a lot of tough days from my heart.

More detailed updates to come soon. :)