Thursday, 28 December 2017

Peace Like a River

Happy holidays everyone! 

I arrived back from Mexico just in time to spend a lovely Christmas with my family.  The tropical vacation was exactly what I needed.  I was so run down before we left, and just really not myself.  A lovely combination of sand, sun, sleep, swimming and blended cocktails revived me.

I had a lot of time to reflect on 2017.  Initially I felt like 2017 was total crap and the worst year of my life.  But after some thought, that idea proved to be overly dramatic. 

There were tough things in 2017 for sure, but there was so much more to be grateful for.   So instead of ruminating on the boohoos of 2017 I’m going to think about these three things when 2017 pops into my mind:

1)      I rode my young horses bareback so much (which is sort of brave and they were really sensible...go team).

2)      My husband and I became closer than ever dealing with the challenges that 2017 brought, our relationship has truly never been better than it is now.

3)      I am incredibly grateful for my life and the people and animals that I share it with.   It’s so important to enjoy and appreciate your tribe, you never know how long you get to keep them.  Time is a precious thing. 

As I look ahead to 2018 I’m going to keep it simple for goals. 

1)      Sell condo
2)      Buy acreage
3)      Be happy

As we prepare to re-list our condo I know real estate buying/selling takes a lot more time and energy than I originally anticipated.  If the condo sells I can certainly afford a horse trailer, some semblance of a show season and more tack.   Until I tick number one off the list I will hold off on making more concrete goals. 

Thank you everyone for your kind words about Toby on my last post (and all the support I’ve gotten over the years).  I truly value being part of such a supportive community. 

Onwards and upwards into 2018! 

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Love and Hard Times

I had to say goodbye to my dear friend, Toby, on the weekend. 

I will write more about it all when I'm ready but I just wanted to share a picture of him I took about two weeks ago. 

I could pretty much never get him to look directly at the camera for the past 9 years but I took this great shot at the ball diamond near my house (which I use as my private offleash park).  It's probably the best photo I've ever taken of him.

My husband's cat escaped (again... he escaped from my in-laws house back in October) late last week and that was incredibly stressful.  We did find him, thank goodness. 

Between that and Toby's passing my nerves are completely shot.  I'm a mess.  Apollo has chosen this time to be impossible to catch again (he was recently dewormed, which is sometimes a trigger for him...but also his human being a crying mess really freaks him out). 

I just wanted to give a quick (although somewhat depressing) update.  I hope to have a little bit of time to catch up on my blog reading list in the next day or so :)

I leave for my tropical vacation this weekend and hope to return feeling a lot better.


Monday, 27 November 2017

Ballad of the Absent Mare

I am 90% happy and 10% sad to be writing this post.

I have made a big decision about Mystic’s living arrangements.  She is moving back to the property where the boys are.

Sleepy snow pony

The happy part is all my horses will be in one place again! 

I can see Mystic every day if I want to as she will be 15/20 mins from my house.  I will also have an indoor arena to ride her in so I can ride more than once or twice a week.  I’m currently limited to being a weekend warrior with her because the short days/my work schedule but if we get lousy weather on the weekends I can’t really ride then either.  When I worked three evenings a week it wasn’t a big deal… but now I have more time to ride and would like to make the most of it. 

It’s also handy because eventually my horses will live together at my property (#acreage2018orbust) so if they’re already living together before the move it will make the transition slightly easier.  They have lived together before (for about three years) but Mystic was at a training/lesson barn for a year and then moved to her current spot for another year so they will likely be “new” to each other again.


It is slightly bittersweet too - as I love the beautiful trails and I will deeply miss riding with my friend, C.  I usually prefer to ride alone (because I am a legit hermit in my heart) but I had so much fun riding with C.   Mystic also is handled/checked multiple times daily in C’s care and is fed her daily grain ration.  Those responsibilities will be back on my shoulders once she joins Apollo and Henry.

I made my mind up on November 22 and gave C notice that day.  Mystic won’t move until January 2nd as I don’t want to change up her routine and then leave for Mexico/family Xmas festivities. 

I am SO excited to have my girl closer to home! <3

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Always (Nameplate Debate)

I need some opinions on saddle nameplates! 

I have never had one before but I have been thinking about getting one for Henry's fancy new saddle (it does come with one included in the price but I suspect that does not include engraving).  If I don't like the color/shape of that nameplate I will probably order another one elsewhere online.

Don't fret, my actual saddle will be a much longer flap than this!

I googled nameplate ideas a while ago and ended up on a bunch of threads about how people think nameplates are tacky.  I've always thought that they were cool so this never even occurred to me... and perhaps as a naturally tacky human being I didn't really notice/mind.

Here is the color of the saddle again just for reference.

1) Silver or Gold for the color?  I lean towards Gold (seems like a classic choice) but silver seems a bit more subtle.

2) What should I put on it?  I am currently leaning towards Henry's registered name, Harfleur B, but it seems a more common choice to do the human's name. 

My husband thinks that this saddle should have magical powers because it costs so much money for few pieces of leather... er go...

This just makes me laugh (I refer to my noble steed as Henryhugglehorse  a lot)

3) Font?  I like the fancy but still legible handwriting fonts best.

3) Which shape should I go for?  I don't have an opinion about this yet.

Simple rectangles, some with slight variation

I call these "swirly do" shapes in my head

Any other thoughts?  Are nameplates just tacky AF?  Any suggestions on where to order them if I don't like whatever comes free with my saddle?

Can you tell that I am SLIGHTLY excited about my saddle arriving... ?!?!

Monday, 20 November 2017

Take this Waltz

I had a really interesting (read: slightly sketchy) ride on Mystic about a week and a half ago. 

It somewhat mirrored this scary ride I had about a year ago (TLDR; she was panicky/jumpy/bolted into the path of a truck).  And I’m going to admit something that I’m not proud of about that ride last year – I was incredibly mad at my horse.  As we rode along that day I tried to make her circle/stop/chill the fuck out with increasing intensity… with almost no success/improvement throughout the ride, in fact it got worse and worse.  I was mad at myself too, that I wasn’t a good enough horsewoman to get a handle on my about-to-explode-volcano of a mare.  We were fighting each other at every moment and I was not winning.  I can remember how frightened I was as the oncoming vehicle locked up its brakes and I made eye contact with a terrified looking driver.  I hopped off and walked the rest of the way home, in a strange state that hovered between shock/anger/fear/frustration/embarrassment.     

I read something around that time that essentially said: “horses misbehave for two reasons, pain and fear”.  And it got me thinking.  My best guess was that the saddle I used on her that day was uncomfortable. 

I pooled what remained of my nerve and rode her bareback, she was 100% fine and back to her normal amazing self.  That saddle was sold and we have been hitting the trails almost exclusively bareback ever since.  We have encountered moose, loose cows, angry neighborhood dogs, horses galloping up and down the fenceline, people shooting guns on nearby properties, chainsaws, random wildlife popping out (birds, squirrels, chipmunks) at inopportune times, sudden weather changes (snowstorm/windstorm etc), farm equipment/hot tubs/other weird things being hauled down the road, motorcycles, cyclists and pretty much every random thing you would prefer not to encounter on the trail.  And Mystic has not taken a wrong step. 

I rode her on November 11th & November 12th.  On November 11th we were constantly getting splashed by oncoming vehicles (first time we’ve ever encountered that…. super slushy snow eek).  The first time one passed I grabbed some mane and braced myself, she didn’t even flinch.  After a few more vehicles passed I stopped grabbing mane and just gave her a nice pat every time we were passed.  I felt like luckiest human being on the planet to have a horse like her.  I almost cried driving home, I was so incredibly grateful for Mystic.  If someone offered me a million dollars for her I would have no, slept like a baby and never thought of it again. 

November 12th was a whole new ballgame.  She was fine at first (on the property she lives on) but once we got off the property she was not herself.  She pooped like 3 times in the first five minutes down the road.  Her back felt tense.  She was lookier and spookier than I have ever known her to be. 
I thought about what I’d learned the previous year.  Pain.  Fear.  And I decidedly to take a different approach. 

I spoke calmly to her and stroked her neck.  When she had a more calm moment I rewarded her heavily and told her what a good girl she was.  I made extra effort to “sit chilly” and reminded myself keep breathing.  Although I found myself being a little worried about her state but there was no longer any anger/embarrassment/frustration.  I ride with my friend C whenever I ride out and she didn’t say anything (on either scary ride) to make me feel bad about myself or my horse, she just asked me what she could do to help.  I wasn’t angry at Mystic, I knew she was scared and was doing her best.  We made it back to the property in one piece and I gave her lots of pets and carrots. 

When I stopped for gas on my way home I heard there was a cougar sighting in the area I was in.  That seems like a valid thing to be afraid of!  Not sure if that’s what was troubling her or not.  And I will never know. 

But I had a pretty big breakthrough about my own riding/journey with horses.  I come from the old school of “you gotta show him who’s boss!” attitude.  And while in certain situations that attitude has its place, that’s not how I look at things anymore.  I want to be my horse’s partner.  I want to be the safe place when they’re afraid.  On my first sketchy trail ride I was getting mad at Mystic for behaving badly, whether she was in pain or just afraid… how would that help?  If you are afraid/frightened and someone yells at you – would that help?  Or would you feel resentful of them?  That kind of dynamic doesn’t sound like a partnership to me.   I hope in future when I’m struggling with my horses I will be able to check my ego at the door and listen to them.

And if someone showed up with a million dollars on November 12 I still wouldn’t have sold Mystic.  Sometimes she is my rock and sometimes I am hers.

Diamonds in the Mine (November 11 & November 19 Lessons)

November 11th Lesson

This was Apollo and Henry’s first lesson back after about a month.  October was pretty crazy and Henry’s cough came back earlier in the month.  I gave him some time off away from the dusty arena.  Then my coach was sick, followed by my husband’s cat going missing (he was found though!).  So we were severely overdue for a lesson!

Poofy unicorn pony

The plan until I go away for holidays in December is to get back onto our weekly lesson schedule.  I honestly don’t do a lot of exciting/groundbreaking things in my lessons right now (it would be more exciting to watch paint dry for ST).  But I find it keeps me riding more regularly to know I have a lesson coming up.  And even though we are saddleless wonders there are lots of little things we can work on. 

Apollo was first up and we did some walk/trot and then transitioned into our lateral work.  He felt a bit sluggish to begin with, I'm not sure if he was a bit stiff or just feeling lazy.  We are trying to perfect our leg yields at the moment.  He tends to drift through his shoulder and ST has been helping me be clearer with my cues and to raise my expectations of the quality.  We also have started learning turn on the haunches/forehand. 

Apollo starts guessing what I’m going to ask him before I even cue anything so it’s important for us not to drill anything.  ST thinks he’s very smart and sensitive.  His M.O. is to use speed when he’s flustered or feels crooked, it also usually unnerves me so I stop asking him to do whatever I was asking (ie take my leg off) so we are trying to un-train me in that area.

He looks like a chesterfield in his new dress

Henry was next and he was very looky!  On our previous ride the sprinklers dripped on us a bit in one corner and he seemed to remember that.  ST reminded me to breathe and ride him forward, eventually the corner of doom was a-ok.  We did some trotting and I didn’t feel like a potato as much as a normally do, so that’s a win.  I asked her if we could free jump really quickly.

And yeah….

He can jump I guess!  She said he would have no problem with the 1.10m classes if that was something I wanted to do.  I also felt like she was kind of wondering what I want to do with him.   Which is a good question… Hunters/Jumpers/Eventing?  I don’t know.  I’ll get a freakin saddle first and we can go from there. 

November 19th Lesson

Henry developed a bit of a weird skin funk on his back in the past week unfortunately.  He's doing much better now, shout out to my girl at Feeding My Heart to the Hawk for the excellent skin care tips!  I'm not sure if it's rain rot or what but it's much better (almost gone entirely), unfortunately on lesson morning one spot re-opened on his spine.  I decided just to shampoo and blowdry him (and do a tea tree oil/baby oil treatment) and to give him the day off. 

So Apollo got the whole lesson! 

Majestic post-lesson selfie

He was more zippy and a lot less sluggish than my previous lesson.  We worked on getting him to stretch into the contact more.  He walked and trotted really nicely to the left but to the right his trotting was super ugly.  He had the world's shortest neck and only wanted to canter.  Eventually with some transitions and circles he felt much better.  A few sketchy zoomy moments in there but nothing major.

We chipped away at our leg yield and turn-on-the-haunches.  Not lovely.  He spends a lot of time trying to predict what I'm going to ask him to do (before I ask him) so I need to work on doing a bunch of different things in different places so he can't read my mind/the pattern as well.... and hopefully waits for me to ask him to do something!  I like to tilt forward on him and drop my hands so I need to think about sitting tall, pinching my shoulders together, and lifting my hands when I ride him also.

Lots of good homework for us!  He is definitely feeling very sound and enjoying having a job.  I feel like a saddle will really help us.  I'm leaning towards a dressage saddle for him at the moment (but not buying anything any time soon).  I can keep my eyes peeled for good deals after Henry's saddle arrives as Apollo is fairly easy to fit... he's just super wide.

<3 this pone

Tuesday, 14 November 2017


Guess who has a custom saddle on order?

These guys!


I have no idea when it will actually arrive but it feels good to get the order put in.  Apparently it could be as early as late December but I’m not holding my breath, I also wouldn’t mind a bit more time to accumulate funds for the remaining balance…. :)


My saddle order was placed on November 9th, which is sort of a special date.  That’s the date that I sent an e-transfer to a complete stranger across the country for Henry five years ago.

I been reflecting a lot on how we’ve gone from unhandled/terrified weanling & noob weanling owner to sensible bareback citizen grown-up horse & slightly less nooby green horse rider. 

The journey between those two points has taught me so much about horsemanship and about myself as a human being.  I’m really proud of us when I think about it.   I will probably do a more in depth post in future on this when the thoughts have formulated more in my brain!


There certainly have been struggles, and we aren't perfect.  But if I could do it over again, I would do it all over again :)

I am so excited for 2018 and our new saddle!!