Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Acreage Hunters: Part One

My husband and I have looked at four acreages now.  We are not getting too excited about it yet because we would prefer to sell the condo in town first (rather than having to make an annoying conditional offer than might not be accepted).  But we wanted to see what was out there in our budget so we could get a feel for what we could afford and visualize what kind of property set-up we liked best. 

So what’s out there in our budget?

Not much.

I don’t want to share a ton of details on properties that are not mine but I do want to capture some of the acreage shopping journey.  I made these little legends for pricetag and location :)

Pricetag legend: 
$ - super affordable, like me working part-time affordable
$$ - In budget
$$$ - Would be a stretch, price would have to come down
Location legend:
& - super close, 30 mins and under to downtown
&& - drivable distance to downtown (30mins – 45mins range)
&&& - close to our maximum driving distance, which is 60 mins max from downtown


Acreage Number One
Price tag: $$
Location: &&
Land size: 4.6 acres

Notes: This first place we looked at by far had the nicest house so far, it was about 15 years old and had been moved to the property (the moved part made me a little nervous but besides some cracking on the front door frame I wouldn’t have really noticed).  The garage was really nice.  I’ve been parking my car outdoors for the last 15 years and having an actual attached garage sounds pretty spectacular for those lovely -20 winter days.
The land size felt a bit small to us and the pasture was dried out weeds and was not anywhere near being ready for ponies.  Also the placement of the pasture in relation to the house/driveway would have been even smaller just because of the way the property was set up.  The price seemed quite fair but since neither of us could really picture three horses living there - and the horses are the whole point of an acreage.  This property helped us realize that we would prefer 7 acres or more.  It is now sold.

Acreage Number Two
Price tag: $$$
Location: &&&
Land size: 10 acres
Notes:  We were quite divided on this property.  I didn’t actually want to look at it at all.  The house looked like a weird mobile home and something about it I just didn’t like.  But after repeatedly pointing out to me that it was 10 acres… my husband got me to go have a look. 
I was hard on this house.  It has a big price tag for what it is.  And the owners left boxes of garbage everywhere in the house.  It’s been for sale for almost two years, I feel like in that time they could have cleaned up at least a little bit.  The basement was unfinished and it was hard to get a sense of the space because of the amount of boxes, garbage and filth down there. 
It had a giant shop so my husband was pretty much in love with it.   But there was no garage to park my car and the shop was not insulated/heated so I wasn’t as thrilled about it.  The land size was nice, I’ll give it that.  And the road out front was very quiet and would be pretty excellent to ride down.  There aren’t really any close neighbours so it’s quite private too. 

My husband really liked it.  I was annoyed that they slapped such a huge price tag on it and didn’t bother to clean it up.  If the price drops more or my husband and I are feeling bold about making an offensive low ball offer I would consider looking it again.   It is still currently available.

Acreage Number Three
Price tag: $$
Location: &&
Land size: 7.22 acres
Notes:  This was kind of a sad house.  The owner had become ill and this house had fallen into disrepair.  The septic system needed to be replaced completely.  But this house would be way out of our budget for its location if it wasn’t in such rough shape.  We wanted to see how much work it would need to be livable.
It was a fairly original 1950s house with sort of a strange floor plan.  I really liked the upstairs/mainfloor. It needed some paint, new appliances and new flooring - but it felt homey to me.  My husband and the realtor both found it creepy.   Once we got into the basement I started to agree.  The basement smelled moldy and was full of garbage.  The three car garage had one section that was full to the roof garbage.  The front porch was unsafe to walk on and there were huge holes everywhere in the front yard.  There was a lot of water damage from a skylight and the windows were original.  Also carpet in the bathrooms... one of my biggest pet peeves.

Lol no

The property had nice mature trees and besides the holes the yard was cute. 
I was totally on board with this property until we got to the basement.  It felt like too big of a project to us and the issues with the septic made us nervous.  It is currently still available. 

Acreage Number Four:
Price tag: $
Location: &&&
Land size: 8.5ish acres

Notes:  This was a cute log house that I quite liked in the photos.  I liked it in person too, although it felt a bit small and dark inside.   The upstairs needed some updating (and maybe a skylight or more lighting so it didn’t feel like cave…)
The basement was creepy and kind of disgusting… it had plywood walls… and the bathroom was wallpapered with naked women posters… and there was a room with no windows or lights in it… only a bed.  *HUGE CRINGE*
Anyway, when we walked outside I fell in love with land.  The trees are beautiful and the ditches around the property look perfect for riding.  There are no visible neighbors and the property is quite private #hermitlifeyo


I felt the wind in my hair and the sun on my face… and I felt like I was home.  My husband was not as excited, mostly because…
There are a lot of derelict outbuildings that need to be removed, which is not great.  I did see a bat for the first time, so that was cool. 
This property is in our maybe pile.  We like the price tag and the land but the house requires a lot of $$ to work for us, the janky outbuildings need to go and it is quite far away.  I would live there like tomorrow but my husband is the handy one who has to do all the work haha, so he needs to be on board.  But the big plus for me is that we could afford this place whether the condo sells or not… so yeah.  This property is still currently available.

Weed control goats near my office!

I'm not sure if we've found "the one" yet but it interesting to get some more information about what's available.  But there are a few more shopping excursions coming up soon!  If anyone has any acreage shopping tips to keep in mind I am such a noob about this and am happy to hear any thoughts or suggestions! 

Fingers crossed that the condo sells soon :)

Monday, 29 May 2017

Freight Train

Alternate title:  Two falls and a car accident

I did not have the best weekend.

Henry and I finally had another lesson after a few weeks off for various reasons.  We rode on the front lawn and I was super impressed with how good he was.  The horses in the pasture can get into an area right next to where I ride now and they were galloping around and whinnying to him, he wanted to drift over there a bit but otherwise totally ignored them.

We did our W/T/C warm up and took some notes from ST on rein length and steering (ie.  Too long/we don’t have any).  As we cantered through the dandelions I felt like I was in a dream.  I remember adding leg and zooming a bit up the slope of the hill with a big smile on my face.

Henry the gardener


She set a little course for us and off we went to the first fence.

He was a bit behind the leg and distracted by a pile of standards sitting nearby… so once he realized we were travelling towards a jump it was too late.  Henry took a valiant deer leap over the high-side of a cross rail.  I fell onto his neck pretty hard but made it over the fence.  I had this *whew! I can’t believe I didn’t fall off!* moment.  And then he bucked me off.

I honestly think I just scared him.  I am not usually THAT unbalanced over fences!  I mostly landed on my feet, although I did twist my right ankle a bit.  I talked to him in a calm voice and he walked over to me and I told him everything was ok.  He seemed a bit rattled but honestly I don’t think anyone has fallen off of him before and it is a bit weird.  I figured it was a fluke and we’d hop on and carry on with life.

Baby Henbot to break up text wall

So we got a better trot going (with purpose!) and marched up to our blue cross rail again.  I heard ST telling me my pace and approach were perfect.  And before I knew it I was sailing through the air again.  I remember looking down and seeing how far away my saddle was…. And thinking “Whoa.  My saddle is so far away.  This is not good.”  I hit the ground.  Hard.  He bucked on landing and launched me.  I was winded and whiplashed but not dead. 

ST lunged him over some fences, working on getting his brain tuned into his work (and not his buddies or other random distractions).   He was very sweaty at the end of this! 

I got back on and walked over our evil blue crossrail a few times in both directions and called it a day.  

I gave him a bath and some pets.  I know a lot of people would be mad/frustrated at their horse but honestly I just felt kind of guilty.  Our riding schedule has been all over the map and he has pretty much been a saint.  I told him that I loved him and I would rather get bucked off of him then ride any other horse, but if he could try not to do that again it would be great… I can’t feed him grain and brush his majestic tail if I’m in traction.  I gave him a bath and some arnica (and took some myself) and then we did our traditional “Kate lays down on the grass and Henry eats all the grass” routine. 

Because I am a genius I decided to still carry on with my plan to ride Mystic.  I figured I would be incredibly stiff on Sunday so I might as well ride on the day of my injury, because I wouldn’t be able to the next day.  #equestrianlogic

Mystic was fantastic!  We rode down to the corner and then up the big hill.  She is feeling much straighter and I’m so happy that her hip/pelvis has recovered from her big slip/fall pasture incident (I assume this happened, but did not see it… massage and chiro both came up with this idea separately so I tend to agree!).   I had such a fun ride and I was glad I decided to go.

I rushed home to meet my parents for dinner.  I was about 15 minutes from my house when an SUV drove into my car.  Great.  Luckily it was captured on a dash cam (I was driving in a straight line in my own lane and he drove into me… so yeah not my fault at all).


I woke up the next day feeling like I’d been hit by a freight train.  I was determined to take it easy and let my body heal up but….

I could feel my brain starting to turn my unplanned dismounts into a big scary deal.  So I decided I would go ride Henry.  Even for five minutes.  And fuck yes I rode him.  We walked over a lot of poles and small cross rails to start.  Eventually graduating to trotting over a miniature version of the evil blue crossrail  and trotting over a more properly sized crossrail.  Every time we went over the fence I told him he was the best pony ever and gave him lots of pets.   He really wanted to dive to the right over the evil blue crossrail and I think that was the root of our problem yesterday (at least initially).  It was also on a steeper incline than I realized (which is kind of hard to see in the photo below).  I maybe rode for 15 minutes but I decided to call it a day there. 

Success collage!!  Note mini blue crossrail in bottom left and our more real crossrail in the bottom right
(also sent to ST to let her know we were ok)

Because it was nice out I decided I might as well ride Mystic again too.  I don’t usually bring my dog, Molly, with me to the property she lives at but I asked C if it would be ok to bring her along for a ride.  Molly is a pretty good trail dog but C has a green horse who isn’t used to dogs.   She said no big deal.

And my dog was just the beginning of it.  Our 1.5 hour trail ride was like the desensitization Olympics.  On our usually quiet road there were three motorcycles, a quad, way more vehicles than usual, horses galloping and whinnying at a very close distance, a loose dog, kids playing catch on the road, a golf cart, and lots of birds popping out of nowhere.  Mystic is a legit BAMF.  The only thing that remotely fazed her was the golf cart (which was parked and not running…?), it was in a spot that we always ride by and it’s not usually there… so it was new I guess?  She just looked at it and took a few side steps… then shrugged and carried on being the best trail horse ever.

Should I have gone and ridden two horses after two falls and a car accident?  Probably not.  But I’m glad I did. 

I have decided to push back Henry’s XC debut for a few weeks (when ST is back from holidays), I think we both need to get our confidence back a bit, remind ourselves of some basics and I need to work on a more consistent riding schedule.   My gut tells me that this is a good call. 
I'm a little bit proud of myself for not letting a tough weekend totally kick my ass.  I still rode and tried to stay positive, and through that ended up having a lot of great wins with my horses on the weekend.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Henry Has Hops

My riding/lesson schedule has not been very consistent recently, between going out of town and keeping my house in showing-ready condition it has been a pretty exhausting month.  The rides I have been able to squeeze in have been great.

GTFO elbows/wrists, but nice form H :)

This next month should be much calmer and I have lots of fun adventures planned for Henry!  I’m also hoping to do two lessons on any weekends that ST is able to.

I was trying really hard to do a post after each of Henry’s lessons but I have now fallen behind!  I’m not even sure what number we are at exactly but I’m going to guess 10/11 were the last two.  Since that was a while ago now I have pretty short notes because of a short memory!   I had to share some cute photos and videos from Lesson 11 though. 

Adorable horse loaf

Lesson 10

We rode inside.  We jumped the biggest jump I have jumped since I was in my teens.  Which is maybe 2'3"/2'6" at the most but still.  Henry trotted up to it and sailed over no problem.  I really regret not asking ST to take a photo or video for me L

Lesson 11

My most recent lesson (which was like May 6th, kinda sad…).  Henry and I jumped our first little course outside.  He was an absolute champ and I had the most fun ever.   

Little video (where the top photo is a still frame from)

We jumped all of these!!! (and a few other crossrails too)

Our Lesson 12 was supposed to be out on the XC course last weekend but that had to be rescheduled as the course has not yet opened. 

Perhaps our plans for Lesson 12 provides a clue for one of my groundhog goals actually getting accomplished this year… ;)

Friday, 19 May 2017

Apollo's New Adventure

This last year has been a huge year of transition with Apollo & I.  Actually… I would even stretch that to the last two years.  Here are some things that have changed:

1)      My confidence improved
2)      We got a saddle that works for both us
3)      I began to expect more of him
4)      He began to test me (read: bolting at the mounting block and other sassiness)
5)      We took lessons with Coach D and recently two lessons with ST (after many years without lessons)
6)      I transitioned to a life of riding three horses (goodbye time and monies)
7)      Apollo doesn’t get as much attention as he used to when I he was my sole riding horse

For a while I have thought about Apollo adding “husband horse” into his job description.  We will still lesson and continue to improve together but I would really like to ride with husband/other horses friends sometimes.  I’ve put in a solid effort to trail ride him more often and to make him quieter (which mostly is just a consistent riding schedule).  But I kind of hit a wall.  There are two things that I can’t really seem to get past. 

Baggage and incompatibility.  Let me explain a bit! 

So when I say baggage I mean that over our 10 years together some things have gone wrong (as in any partnership), and I have trouble forgetting them sometimes.  I particularly struggled when the mounting block issues came up last summer, as that was always a point of anxiety for me.  I feel like I am 95% past it but it still lingers in my brain.  Only recently have I started wearing my new samshield helmet when I ride him.  For a long time I let that 5% of mistrust around the mounting block tell me that I shouldn’t wear my new samshield when I rode him because I might fall on it and I can't afford a new one.  In my lesson on Apollo with ST last weekend she commented: “It’s very confusing to me that you will jump and canter around on green bean Henry but you are so nervous to canter Apollo on a looser rein.”  And I think the reason for that is baggage, as part of me still remembers bolty/crowhoppy Apollo at the canter and doesn’t 100% trust that he won’t do that. 

And when I say incompatibility I mean that Apollo would probably really like to go fast.  And I would really like to travel at a low rate of speed.  I am getting braver (go me!) so I feel like this struggle for us will continue to improve.  But riding a more-who-than-go Henry has made me feel so brave (#slowsoulmates) and that has made it so clear to me that Apollo and I are very mismatched in terms of our preferences for speed of travel.  I hope to keep bridging this gap and to become the rider he needs.   I can’t help but feel a little guilty that I know he would have more fun with a human who would want to hop on and go for a gallop.

Apollo is totally my heart horse and I had to make a difficult decision in order for us to move forward.  I decided to send him for 30 days with RK (the wonderful guy who trained Henry).  They will focus on trail miles.  RK doesn’t have 10 years of baggage with Apollo.  RK doesn’t mind going for a good gallop sometimes.  He is super kind and I know he will show Apollo how to be a good trail pony for me and my husband.  I’m really excited to hear his insights. 

It’s been harder on me than I went I sent the babies to be started.  I cried after I dropped him off on April 30 and although I've been visiting it's been a bit tough for me.  I have been his rider for 10 years and have very rarely shared him.  Its super weird for me to think someone is riding him when I’m not there.  And I got a fair bit of judgement from some of my horsey people IRL too.  I trail ride Mystic bareback…. So why can’t I get my old horse quiet enough on the trail to share with other people?  Which kind of makes me feel like a failure in my work with Apollo.  But I feel like training with RK is worth a try and could really improve our relationship going forward so I’m willing to try! J