Friday, 21 April 2017

Upside Down

I dragged my husband to the barn to take some photos of Henry and I last night.  And something happened that has never happened to me...ever.

I had fun jumping.

Henry and I did some walking and trotting on the front lawn and I had my husband set up a few crossrails for us.  I got jumped out of the tack on the first few but once I found my balance were were having a blast!

Awkward screen grab moment... video coming!

I have jumped some fairly big jumps in my life (mostly in my teenage years) but I have never had fun.  I have always been glad when it's over.  In my younger years I just never really got a feel for striding but my horse was so hot and athletic that he would just jump from wherever and I just tried to stay out of his way.

Now that I'm in my 30s... I want to do it properly.  And I'm learning... but I'm just not a great natural judge of distance.  I have jumped a bit at Coach D's (on lesson horses) and on Apollo as well.  And when it's sort of an okay round I want to stop.  Because I don't want to screw anything up, so I want to quit while I'm ahead.

But last night on Henry I didn't care about getting jumped out of the tack or if everything was perfect, I just wanted to keep going.  The only reason I stopped is because it started raining (you can see some of the crazy ass clouds in the photos).  My face actually hurts today from smiling and laughing so much.


Jumping is fun.  


Everything I know is wrong. :P

This horse tho <3

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

A Tale of Two Clinics

Even though March was completely insane I somehow managed to attend two clinics.  One was fantastic and the other was a huge waste of time and money.

Clinic #1 was intended for horse owners who wanted to learn more about diagnosing lameness, saddle fit and stretching.  

Clinic #2 was a saddle fit clinic from my good friend (with the proceeds going to her horse rescue organization).  I’m really curious to learn as much as possible about saddle fit and with the weather being so lousy I decided to devote some time to off-horse learning opportunities. 

Spartacus is feeling much better (although he is annoyed to be on a diet) 

I had taken a First Aid clinic from the same ladies who ran Clinic #1 and I absolutely loved it.  I learned so much and still refer to some of the reference materials I received at that clinic.  I felt it was a little pricey at $75, but since it was a full day 9-5 I felt that was fair.  I probably wouldn’t have paid that much if I hadn’t already taken the fantastic First Aid course.

I was incredibly disappointed in this clinic.  

I felt like the whole thing was really rushed but I didn’t learn much.  We watched slides in the morning in a cold shop (thank goodness I have multiple coats and blankets in my car) from about 9-12.  This was just to give us basics on anatomy and common saddle fit issues but there was very little time for questions or discussion.  I didn’t learn anything new but I was hopeful the hands-on portion would be more in-depth.  I also thought for $75 they could have provided lunch/snacks for us but there wasn’t anything.   I did bring a lunch just in case as I didn’t think there was any food provided at the First Aid course either.  There was no lunch either :( 

Please put foods in my bowl

I probably enjoyed lunch time the most (although my lunch I brought was from a gas station... not exactly fine dining).  The other women in the clinic were mostly in their 40s and 50s and they were super interesting.  Three of them had just bought acreages and I loved hearing their stories about finding the right place.  They gave me a lot of suggestions for my acreage hunt too.

In the afternoon we examined a few horses on the property, at static and moving.  This was sort of interesting.  None of the horses were majorly lame or anything so I gained a bit of experience noticing subtle unevenness.  Is it wrong that I wished we looked at some super lame horses?   Or even watched a video of lame horses...

Then we zipped through the basics of saddle fit and tried a few saddles on the horses at the facility.  I didn’t learn anything that I didn’t already know here.  The clinician sells treeless saddles and seemed to always circle back to how treeless saddles are the best for all horses.  I think treeless saddles work great on some horses and riders but they are not for every horse and rider combo.   This kind of annoyed me.  I consider myself pretty open-minded but I will not drink the natural horsemanship kool-aid that all horses should be barefoot, bitless and treeless.  And that was the only thing served at this clinic...no food or anything (clearly they let me get hangry).

I don’t drink the traditional horsemanship kool-aid either that all horses should be shod, bitted and treed either.  I think each horse and rider team needs to figure what works for both of them and their goals.  So yeah… the treeless thing kind of put me in a grump.

I was the most excited about the stretching section.  I do a few stretches with Apollo post-ride that I learned years ago from a lady I rode with in my teens.  I was looking forward to adding a few new stretches to our repertoire, as I’m sure I’ve forgotten a lot of them.  I did learn a few new stretches but we spent very little time on them.  The clinician and two other students ended up kind of going off away from the group to discuss something for like 20/30 minutes and I was pretty close to just leaving. 

They went around and asked if we had any more questions.  I couldn’t really think of anything…. Just like… where is the rest of this clinic…?  (I didn’t say that but was tempted).  So they let us go early at 3pm.  And on my way out the clinician said: “Don’t forget to pay the remainder of your clinic!”… Turned out $75 was the deposit, the clinic was $150 (plus GST) total.  WTF.  No food… no helpful resources materials (they “forgot” to do any hand outs for the stretching exercises)... UGH.  What a waste of time and money.  I was livid by the time I got home.   I guess I’ve learned my lesson and won’t be taking any further clinics.  I stopped and rode Henry on the way home and I think that prevented a ragey e-mail to the clinician, demanding a refund.

The great shed has begun

Clinic number 2 on Saddle Fit was $30!  It ran from 11-2 (it actually ran until 3:15… and would have kept going but I had to leave unfortunately).   All the funds raised went to a local horse recue.  And it was AMAZING!  We all brought our own saddle(s) and evaluated eachother’s for various things like flocking consistency, unevenness (in wear, shape, and stitching). 

I brought Henry’s new Amerigo and Mystic’s western saddle to share with the group.  The Amerigo is a little uneven in the flocking towards the back but I’m planning to get it re-flocked shortly anyway so that doesn’t bother me too much.  One lady did get a little upset because her flocking was quite lumpy.  Everyone was super nice and supportive about it (not judgey), we were all like “well now you know, and you can fix it! don't beat yourself up!”

We learned how to make our own templates which was super neat, I actually might do a post about it in future if anyone is interested.   We also learned which behaviors on the ground and under saddle could mean there is an issue with saddle fit.

We evaluated the conformation/muscling of three horses, we made templates for each of them and then tried their own personal saddles on the horses and against our new templates.  SUPER INTERESTING.

I was also able to geek out over a lady who had a barnsby dressage saddle.  It was in beautiful shape and I love barnsbys, so I said something like “Oh my gosh, your saddle is lovely.  I love barnsbys.  Do you know what model it is?”  She  said “Oh thanks.  I’m not too sure what model it is.”  I asked “Does it have the Schleese tree?  Because if it does it’s a Barnsby Crown.”  And she said “Yeah I think it does.”  When she flipped the flap up later I saw “Barnsby Crown” written clearly and I was like FUCK YEAH I AM A GENIUS.*

*This knowledge is thanks to Jenn The Saddle Geek ;)

So that clinic was awesome.  I will definitely keep my eyes peeled for another one in the series!  You win some you lose some I guess J

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Henry = Awesome

So I have a lot of things to catch up with for Henry (and really all my herd but Henry has been doing the most neat/new stuff).  

Just a couple of weirdos

Here are a few of the highlights over the past two months:

- We rode in the arena with other horses for the first time.  One of them was a stud (who is in love with Henry and thinks Henry is a lady horse).  The other started bucking as soon as the rider mounted up.  Henry gave zero fucks.  Although he was thought it was super fun when all three horse/rider teams were trotting around, but his brain was still accessible.  

- We had our first hack of 2017.  I haven't ridden him outside in ages (mostly because no saddle, but the footing was not ideal either).  We started off on the front lawn to remind ourselves that cars and cyclists were still a-ok.  He didn't care at all.  We crossed the road over into the hay field and he was mostly sensible there too.  Such a great way to start off hack #1 for the year!


- I let my friend ride him and he was a very good boy for her. 

- He is continuing to improve at the canter (correct leads usually, flying changes if not - FTW).  He's also doing a lot better about going forward in general.  Sometimes maybe a little too forward, but we can work with that!


- I've been jumping a few small crossrails on my own and he has been such a good sport about it.  

It goes without saying that I am thrilled with Henry.  We have a lot of fun together and I feel so brave when I ride him! 

My heart is pretty much exploding with joy and I don't know how to put it into words any better than that :P

Happy Easter everyone!  Strap on your feedbag like Mr. H :)

Monday, 3 April 2017

Ride or Die

I’m hoping to have a few more detailed posts coming out shortly but in the meantime I wanted to give a few quick updates and share my plan of attack for April. :)

There are lots of exciting things happening with the horses and some not so exciting (read: condo board – rot in hell) things happening with my soon-to-be-listed condo.  But here are the Coles notes about the horse stuff:


- Apollo has been fantastic lately!  He had a lesson with ST and we got some great homework.  He has been a little spicy I have more tricks up my sleeve to channel that energy now.

-Apollo is booked in for 30 days with RK (the wonderful human who started Henry) to learn how to be a trail horse for my husband, starting May 1st. 

-Apollo’s current saddle is out on trial as I look for something more husband-friendly (and also sort of hoping for something he can share with Mystic).  I have mixed feelings about this but I honestly can't afford to buy something without selling something.



- Mystic is doing awesome!  She had a week or two off because the weather/footing was gross for a bit.  We had our two rides back over the weekend and she was pretty much perfect.

- She has had more chiro work and has a dental appt booked next week. 

- She randomly sprouted a legit wither and suddenly our little barrel saddle fit like crap and seemed to be bugging her (so I sold it, and am back to riding a 4 year old baby neigh neigh bareback….#barebackhobo4lyfe).  Yay for more saddle hunting. 



- This horse tho.  So I’ve been cantering Henry on my own and he seems to be getting the leads more consistently.  Our ride schedule has been a bit all over the place (sometimes lots of rides and then like a week off) and he has been super sensible.  

-He did a flying change my last lesson with ST when he initially started on the wrong lead.  HOLY CRAP HENRY YOU ARE AMAZING.  I have a whole brag post about him coming up soon so I will shut up for now.

- Henry’s saddle is working well, I am planning to have the flocking customized to him a bit more in the near future.


So yes, ponies are wonderful!  I have decided to make a goal for myself in April to ride Henry and Apollo for 15 hours each and to ride Mystic for 10 hours (total for the month).  That probably doesn’t seem like a lot to many of you but I am the queen of the 20 minute ride… and we need to start expanding beyond that into some semblance of fitness.  Especially for Apollo & Henry, as one is going to learn some new skills and the other is getting fit to go on some other adventures (ie schooling shows when I am less broke).   That works out to 3.75 hours a week for the boys and 2.5 hours a week for Mystic.  I would love to ride Mystic more too but I am unfortunately somewhat at the mercy of the weather/footing at this time of year.

I found that the first two weeks of March I did great with riding quite a bit but with the stress with the condo board/house sale I lost my consistency.  No excuses this month, ponies need to be fit and ready for a fun/adventure-filled summer.  Hope to share more soon! 

Also, a bit of sad news :(  My cat Spartacus is having some health issues at the moment.  Good vibes appreciated.