Thursday, 26 January 2017

If You Were Me...

One of my 2017 goals is to compete in at least one horse trial this year.  As I've mentioned before... this goal is like the groundhog goal of my life.  But I will keep putting it on my list every damn year until I get it done. 

My current problem is that I can’t decide which horse I should aim to complete this goal with.  So many horses, woe is me. :P    As someone who didn’t have a horse to ride for quite a while (because baby horses and lame Apollo) I’m sort of enjoying it!

Horse fam a long time ago

I’m going to do a little pro/con list for each horse and would love some opinions and feedback from blogland!


Pros for being the chosen one:
- I know him the best
- It’s always been my dream to do an event with him
- This is sort of a Debbie Downer to be in the “pro” category but he’s 18 and may not have that many years of competition left in his big body, so it might be good to do some competitions while he's still feeling spry
Cons for being the chosen one:
-          There is a track record of him being lame before most things I plan for us
-          He can be quite spicy outdoors, and is probably the hottest horse in my little herd (everyone assumes he’s an old plug because he’s a teenaged draft cross but he is like a Clydesdale stick of dynamite)
-          I feel like it would stress him out, I know that’s sort of ridiculous but I don’t like the idea of making a horse do something that they wouldn’t like because I am a soft marshmallow
-          He’s not currently on anything for joint maintenance and this may need to happen so he is comfortable to compete ($$)


Pros for being the chosen one:
-          Has actually schooled on a cross country course
-          Super quiet and reasonable about being ridden outdoors
-          Honest about jumping things
-          Probably has the most formal training of the group
Cons for being the chosen one:
-          The biggest one is where she is currently boarded, there is no indoor arena or any coaching available (it’s in the middle of nowhere).  She’s really happy there and I love trail riding with C, so I’m not really feeling a big urge to move her (it’s a mare-only boarding spot now, thanks Henry for ruining that).  If I had a trailer I could haul her somewhere but that’s a whole other can of worms
-          I feel like I am too long in the torso to have proper balance when I jump on her, she’s super honest and I don’t feel like I’m going to fall off or anything… I just honestly feel like we aren’t a good match for jumping together


Pros for being the chosen one:
-          He is such a sensible dude about pretty much everything
-          Chill about being ridden outdoors
-          Is on a weekly lesson schedule with ST

Cons for being the chosen one:
-          We haven’t cantered yet (although he did start cantering with RK and it was a non-event, other than that he didn’t want to stay in his canter)
-          At this point he has no saddle, although I hope to resolve this shortly
-          He has the least amount of jumping experience by far (and I can’t really do anything about this because he has no saddle)

So between now and the end of June (the first event I could realistically attend) I have 5 and half months to prepare whichever horse I decide on for that task.  There is also an one-day event in early August that would work for my schedule too.

Which horse would you chose if you were me?  Any thoughts? 

If I’m being honest here, I want to take Henry.   I feel really safe on him and we are in a regular lesson program.  But when I read his pro/con list (ie we have no canter yet) I don’t know if it’s a realistic thing to plan for. 

Excited to hear thoughts and opinions! J

Monday, 23 January 2017

Finding a Saddle --> Losing My Mind

So just to be clear I am still planning to order a custom saddle for Henry.  He has just started an awkward growth phase and my husband and I are gearing up to do some work on our condo before it goes on the market (read: $$).  So for the moment I am pressing the pause button on the custom creation.

I had always intended to get something more affordable as a spare and to use in the interim while we waited for the new one to arrive.  I’ve been riding bareback for three months now and I would really like to you know… canter or ride outside.  And I feel like even though Henry is a super duper quiet pony, I don’t think riding outside or cantering are advisable without stirrups.

My original idea was a dressage saddle.  One particular dressage saddle caught my eye – an older prestige.  I made a offensively somewhat low offer to the seller and I think I can officially say that after a week with no response that it isn’t going to happen.  

Not happenin' :'(

I can see that she viewed my message on facebook a week ago.  I also sent a friendly follow-up yesterday because I am an optimist…and *crickets*.  So…?  I had sort of assumed that would pan out so I didn’t really have a plan B in mind. 


I always want to shop for saddles in a really casual way.  Like “Oh this saddle was posted in one of the sale groups I just joined and its perfect!  Only took five minutes to find it!”  

But instead the saddle hunt has taken over my life and the majority of my free time.  I am a frantic creepy saddle stalker who finds herself in strange corners of the internet and liking posts from like 2011, hoping the saddle is still available.  I think I just have to accept that I’m not a chill human being.  Saddle shopping really brings out my inner impatient troll.

Here is what I’m looking for (feel free to weigh in if this is totally unreasonable):

Brands:  Prestige or Amerigo (no Vegas, CC would be best – there are dressage CCs too just to confuse me, and I think a vesuvio would work… I am somewhat confused about other types)

Tree size: 32 for Prestige.  Amerigos continue to confuse the pants off of me, the saddle fitter said a standard medium or +1 would work.  Henry is technically a medium narrow but could probably handle a medium with a Ogilvy/sheepskin.

Type of saddle:  I waffle a lot on this.  Part of me thinks a dressage saddle would be a better long term investment as I hope to have a jump saddle customized to us.  But since I don’t exactly when I will have my custom jump saddle… and I would like to pop over some tiny fences in the meantime.  So I’m open to dressage or close contact.  

Seat size:  Because Henry’s back is sort of short after his long wither I would like to stay in a 17.5 or less.  Ideal would be a 17 or 17.5.  I know Prestiges fit a bit big so I could probably cram my body into a 16 if needed.

Budget: $1000 ($1500 absolute max)… including shipping to Canada.  This is probably my biggest limitation.  Surely I can find something decent in that range… I’m starting to think no… 

Here is another suitor I'm considering... #myitalianboyfriend

Any thoughts of suggestions?  I’ve booked a consult with Jenn at The Saddle Geek and she’s given me permission to share her suggestions on the blog.  So I will have some guidance soon!  

Friday, 20 January 2017

Robaxacet & Riding

For the past two months I’ve had increasing back pain/crookedness.   I have scoliosis between my shoulders, which makes me want to collapse on my right side and gives me shoulder pain.  But this was a whole new creature.  I started having mid-back spasms and sharp pains in my right lower back that were shooting into my hip.

For the last month if I take a robaxacet before I ride, I feel pretty good.  More relaxed than normal even.  But I pay for it the next day. 

It’s been a very cold winter and I think that’s been a major contributor.  I spend a fair bit of $$ for massage and chiro for horses, now I’ve decided to invest in some massage/chiro/osteopathy for myself.  It’s probably hard to be a straight horse with a crooked rider anyhow. 

<3 X 1 million

I had a consult with a new chiropractor on last Saturday morning.  They do a whole bunch of xrays and imaging to get a baseline.  They total up all the degrees you are crooked into a special score.  The ratings for crookedness are as follows:

1-5 Very minor issues
6-10 Minor issues
11-15 Moderate issues
15+ Severe issues

Kate’s score: 21.5 K

I have a severe twist in my pelvis, in addition to being completely out of whack in the shoulder area.  My head also sits too far forward.  I’m just generally a mess.  I had a two hour x-ray guided appointment on Wednesday, and they have promised the first treatment will improve my “score” by 80%. 

Out of noms.  Please assist.

I kind of feel bad for the horses!  They've been carting my severely crooked ass around for the past few months.  I hope that with some regular chiro (and my massage and osteopathy appts are booked for later in the month) that I will be feeling 100% soon.  I’ve noticed my energy level has been in the toilet lately.  But I kind of wrote that off to the fact that I work so much, but I think being constantly in pain/crooked all day probably contributed too.

I gave all three horses some time off this week to let my adjustment set.  And Apollo and Henry had their teeth floated so they probably appreciated that anyhow.  

Does anyone else do any bodywork on themselves?  I’ve signed up for a yoga class so I hope that will help too. 

Saturday, 14 January 2017

A Big Year

As previously mentioned, I’m very hopeful that 2017 is the year I will be purchasing an acreage with my husband (and living my childhood dream-!!).  This is a two-step process:

1)      Sell condo (it will be listed in March or April)
2)      Buy acreage

I was really tempted to have “buy acreage” as my only goal for 2017.  And it’s definitely my top priority.  But there are a lot of things that I can’t control about selling/buying real estate and I don’t want to drive myself insane. 

Have not yet mentioned on the blog that I got new helmet for x-mas yay! No more bowling ball head in 2017

After I decided to expand my 2017 goals outside of “buy acreage” I thought maybe I’d make some small easy goals.  Just some easy things to keep my mind distracted from my acreage plans.

And then I thought… f* it.  I’m going big this year.  So here I present my 2017 goals. :)

Kate Goals

1)      Read 2 books a month.
2)      Ride in at least one event/horse trial.
3)      Buy a horse trailer.
4)      Run a 10K road race.
5)      Blog twice a week.
6)      Mostly tech-free Sundays (no social networking websites/blogs but ok to respond to texts).
7)      Continue to improve credit score, I would like to see a 50+ point improvement in 2017.
8)      Plan regular date nights (once a week) with my husband.
9)      Make more regular plans with friends and family (at least once every two weeks).
10)     Devote at least 30 minutes to scheduling/planning on Sundays (for the rest of the week).
11)    Walk dogs in the morning (before work during the week).
12)    Take dance lessons with my husband.
13)    Be more open to sharing my horses with other people.
14)    Commemorate 10 year horse-aversary with Apollo in a big way! 
15)    Wear my hair down at least three days a week. 
16)    Make monthly goals (except for January which is almost halfway over!).

Mystic Goals

1)      Find dressage saddle/nearby dressage coach.
2)      Continue to be the best trail pony in the world.

Stretch Goal: compete in a dressage schooling show, ie West Calgary Dressage in August 2017.

Henry Goals

1)      Find a saddle that fits.
2)      Solid W/T/C and jumping over tiny courses.

Stretch Goal: compete in Spruce Meadows Oktoberfest (in the 0.5m classes) in October 2017.

Apollo Goals

1)      Stay sound and not round (LOL).
2)      Continue lessons with Coach D, as much as budget permits (preferably once a week if possible).

Stretch Goal: become a proper husband horse!

Dryer cat says hello

As you may have noticed I didn’t specify which horse I wanted to complete my event goal with this year.  That’s because I have no idea which one – post on this to follow shortly. :)

This is going to be a great year!  I’m really excited to kick some ass in 2017!

Monday, 9 January 2017

Henry Lessons #5 & #6

I have my 2017 goals post mostly complete in my draft folder but I wanted to write my lesson recap from Saturday (and also from November 29th) before I forgot any more details.

Henry's first selfie

Henry Lesson #5 - with Coach D

I had a lesson booked with Coach D on a Monday night and planned on riding Apollo.  But Apollo had done a lesson on Saturday and then we had a long ride on Sunday, so I decided to give him the night off.  I decided she could give me a few pointers with Henry instead.

I sensed that she thought I was a bit completely nuts for riding my bouncy baby warmblood in a bareback pad since mid-October.  I was hoping Henry would be on his best behavior to show her that he is really a sensible dude.

We recently "jumped" this huge jump, serious business 

He did not disappoint!  We trotted a little course of poles and she helped us put in some really rudimentary lateral work.  It never even occurred to me to think about leg yields...I have mostly focused on not bouncing into oblivion while trotting so it gave me something else to focus on.  We also walked over the tarp a few times in a few different directions.

I had a friend have a bad wreck when taking off her coat on a young horse so Henry and I have been practicing me throwing my coat on objects from a stand still and a walk (these are the weird things you do when you have no saddle).  I was pretty proud to launch my vest at the mounting block and not have my horse blink!

Coach D loves Henry!  She was blown away by his quiet temperament and his honesty (I gave him kind of a lousy approach to our poles a few times and he didn't ditch out, when it would have been really easy to and most horses likely would have).

I have definitely been incorporating Coach D's lateral work suggestions into Henry's routine.  She also suggested I take more of a contact (I am the president of the long reins club) and start asking him to be very slightly bent to the inside, to start setting us up for being more collected at some point.

Overall it was a great lesson and I was super proud of Henry!

Henry Lesson #6 with ST

Henry and I have just started back on our once a week Saturday morning lesson schedule with ST.  I feel useful enough at the trot at we can actually do things besides me trying not to bounce off.

So as mentioned, Henry is pretty quiet and sensible... he's not a spooky dude.  But he does have one thing that he really does not like. Tractors.  Tractors are not our friends.


They have been doing some construction and putting new arena lights in so a few times in the last week the tractor has been parked in the arena.  Much to Henry's horror.  I debated not riding at all but decided it would be good for us to work on this tractor-phobia.  So we had a few rides near the tractor last week, with only one episode of flying backwards that was quickly resolved.  I mostly stayed in the other side of the arena for trot work but did a lot of walking around the tractor.  I was alone a lot so I sang along with the radio to keep my body relaxed haha!

The tractor wasn't in the arena on Friday but when I pulled up on Saturday morning, it was waiting for me in the middle of the arena.  I grumbled at first but I realized it would be nice to have some extra help with working on the tractor-phobia.

ST gave me some good cues to not stare at the tractor (hah!) and to work on bending Henry to give him something to focus on.  We ended up with some really relaxed trot around the tractor, which I was very pleased with!

We spent a fair bit of time tweaking my position too (which does weird things bareback sometimes).  We agreed that I have pretty much trained Henry to trot kind of slow... which although not ideal is helpful for bareback life.

Well-deserved post-lesson meal <3

So a few positions tweaks (like not gripping with my knees or doing weird things with my hands) and having relaxed rides near the tractor was our homework for this week :)

I'm excited to get back into a regular routine with ST again!

My husband bought a Go-Pro on Boxing Day and I'm hoping he'll get up early for one of my lessons soon and help me get some actual riding media!

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Rearview on 2016

2016 was the weirdest year of my life.  I had wonderful highs (riding my baby horses and improving my skills/confidence with Coach D) and some pretty shitty lows (having an unemployed husband for 8 months and struggling with stress/PPD stuff). 

I'm actually really proud of myself for what I accomplished in 2016. I didn't tick off all of my goals but I was a lot more brave about trying new things and more adaptable when things didn't go exactly as I planned.

My 2016 horse goals were somewhat limited by budget and lack of a horse trailer.  But through some ingenuity (and selling almost everything I own) I was able to pay for both of my baby horse’s training and some lessons for myself.  

Here's how I did on my goals:

Horse Goals

Take a horse swimming!  Nope. I had a tentative plan to take Henry (who would freakin love to swim) but then he got the mystery leg bump and so I had to cancel.

Ride with no tack (only a neck rope)! Yes!  Apollo and I did this before he went through his bolting at the mounting block phase in the summer.

Compete in as many starter level events as possible. Nope.

Compete in a dressage schooling show.  Nope.

Compete in a competitive trail event.  Nope.

*Apollo did go to a showing show, so I award one bonus point* 

Find a better situation for Henry. I don’t know if it’s a better situation or not but homeboy is stuck with me.


Kate Goals

Run a 10k race  I ran two 5ks –does that count?

Achieve magical weight Nope again.  Although I’m finally feeling like I’m on track with a better fitness and exercise routine (plus spin classes made my life).

Read more  Yes!  I definitely read more this year.  Currently reading “The Gold Finch” and would recommend it if anyone is looking for some non-horse related reading material.

Walk dogs more  Yep, the dogs had a pretty good 2016 for walking (up until recently when it's been -30)

Be more patient  Yes.  I will give myself a bit pat on the back for this because my patience has improved tremendously this last year.  

Focus on self-care  Yep! I'm really glad I actually learned to relax a bit more this year and took better care of myself.

Now on to 2017!  I have some big things planned :)