Friday, 24 January 2020

Pixio Status

You may have noticed that there has been a lack of Pixio videos despite having received it back in November. Part of that is because I just haven't been riding much. Mostly it's because it hasn't been working properly.

The first two times I used it back in November I didn't really have any problems. The camera/robot was set up outside the riding surface at about E. I had to adjust one beacon forward which I figured was due to the metal scaffolding that was between the robot and the original beacon placement in the corner.

It only lost tracking of me in one corner, and then only when the tracking watch was on the outside (ie. tracking right as I had the watch on my right wrist). I figured it had to do with beacon placement and just needed to play with it.


Then everything sat for the 6 weeks that I didn't ride. On the first ride back I tried to set it up with the camera in the center of the arena. And discovered a big problem.

The robot won't rotate more than 180 degrees.

It's supposed to rotate a full 360. When tracking me it would hit the edge of the 180, then turn somewhere else. When I came back into the zone it would track me with no issue. I couldn't spin the robot on its base past that point either - it would stop at the same point every time.

Where did I go?


As has been well noted by other Pixio users, their customer service has been very good. It just takes a while to get things sorted out because of the time change - all their emails back to me have been around 3am my time.

My robot has to go back to France for repairs - there is a motor issue. I'm not sure if it was there right from the beginning or not. The first couple of times I used it the robot didn't have to rotate fully due to where I had placed it. But that might have been the reason that it wouldn't track me in that corner on my first ride with it.

It sounds like if I use their recommended method of shipping (Canada Post in this case) that I will be refunded the shipping charge since it is under warranty. The expected turn around time once they receive it is 7 days. If I get it out this weekend, hopefully, it will be back sometime mid to late February. It would have been nice to have been able to send it out before the recent cold spell, but I wasn't able to get the data that they wanted because it was too cold to set it up.

Be prepared for Pixio video spam. Eventually.





Thursday, 23 January 2020

Finally - a Twofer!

On Tuesday morning I got out of bed (around 10:30), got dressed in warmish riding clothes, and went over to my mom's house to have what will hopefully be the final fitting on my riding skirt before heading out to the barn. Thankfully I live close to her because instead of heading right out to the barn I had to go back home to grab the three things I'd forgotten, one of which was a jacket to ride in. And then I decided to have lunch at home instead of McDonald's.

Thus I got out to the barn a little later than I was hoping.

No worries - it was still daylight and sunny when I arrived. Phantom was a little toasty under her blanket with her 200g liner on so I did the tablecloth trick and slid it out from under the top layer without removing it. And then made Cisco carry it into the barn for me.
I finally redid Cisco's tail. It's really clean in it's wrap and very white. 
Cisco was the first horse up for the day. I left the overhead door into the arena open since it was probably colder inside than outside at that time. That was a little exciting for Cisco for the first bit of the ride (his first ride in about 2 weeks). Our trot was erratic and he kept trying to dive towards the open door anytime I'd circle across the arena. I wasn't sure if we'd do anything more than trot through the ride.

After about 20 minutes of trotting, I had a different horse. This one was (mostly) relaxed and listening to me. So we did some canter.

Apparently, I have inadvertently taught Cisco that when I say "good" at a canter it means slam on the brakes. No idea how this happened, but it's been happening over the last couple of rides. I think I'm going to start wearing spurs and carrying the dressage whip instead of the jump bat because I have no backup to get after him. Need to fix this right away!
Phantom's forefloof is longer this year than it usually is. It didn't seem to get as rubbed by her fly mask this summer as it usually does. 
The good thing is that he's giving me moments at a canter to say "good" to him. I had a couple of lovely step into canter transitions to the right (and some not-so-lovely tranter transitions to the left). He's been wanting to get a bit curled up though. I've been using the Sprenger Duo on him for the last few rides, and I'm not sure if that is when the problem started. I might swap his bits up again for a couple of rides and see if that helps the canter. Otherwise, I like this bit at a trot for him. He's still mouthy though.

For the first time in a long time I managed to get both horses ridden. By the time I hopped on Phantom it had been dark for a couple of hours and the temperature had dropped considerably. Or at least felt like it had. Thus I bundled up to hop on her. Long johns (not my warmest ones), Kerrits fleece full-seats, my full chaps that I had forgotten were in my tack box, a dry shirt (swapped between horses), a soft shell jacket, a fleece helmet cover, neck cover, and Thinsulate gloves. And my regular paddock boots because I hate my winter paddock boots.

I was chilled at the beginning on the ride (especially my butt since it wasn't covered up by the chaps or a jacket) and I couldn't feel the reins through the puffy gloves. As soon as I got going faster than a walk I warmed up.
The amount of polar pony fur is ridiculous.
Phantom did another session of 1 minute trot sets. Her first couple of trots were a little odd and I was quite worried that she was tying up as she kept trying to stop. That's not her. But by the third set she was nice and forward and felt quite good. So I'm not sure what that blip was about and I'm going to try not to overthink it.

And then I went home to stretch my back and roll out my legs. I was pretty sore. But not tired!

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Wordless Wednesday Video

Not sure if Cisco was wanting to share his empty feed dish or if he was hoping to start a game of "Tug the Rubber Dish". Either way, it was really cute.


Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Warmer, But Still Cold

I managed to get one horse ridden on Monday. I apparently thought it was far warmer out than it actually was so I didn't dress appropriately and was frozen before I even got on. I was much later getting out to the barn than I had hoped as I had to wait around all day for the phone company guy to come and upgrade my internet. Thus the window of nice weather was gone by the time I got out to the barn.

 Phantom was the lucky victim. This was her first ride in two months so I didn't really have any expectations for her. Since this is the time of year that she has a history of tying-up, I always start her back super slow. For the first few rides we'll be doing 1 minute trot sets.

This eye kept falling shut post-ride. I couldn't decide if she was tired or if her eye was bugging her. And holy crap does she look dirty and unkempt!

She behaved through them all, though I'm pretty sure she would have been happy to do more. I was a little concerned with how stiff she felt when I first got on and we walked around, but she came out of it surprisingly quickly and felt pretty even at a trot. Fingers crossed that the time off she had has done her some good.

 I was far too cold to make myself ride again. That's a problem in winter for me - once my thighs feel like they are frozen through I don't wanna play anymore. Thus I'm putting a rush on getting my riding skirt completed. It's about 70% done - I have to go for another fitting to sort the waistband out, and that's about all there is left. I'm hoping to have it for my rides on Thursday or Friday nights. Then I'll just need to take a second shirt out with me to change into between horses and I won't be able to use the cold excuse anymore.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

It's Warming Up

The extreme cold weather warning finally ended on Saturday - which meant it finally got warmer than -20 celsius. It's going to warm up Sunday overnight to a high of -4 on Monday. I'll have to dash out to the barn in the afternoon and swap liners on the horses as it was still pretty cold on Sunday evening.

But -4 is riding weather! The main purpose in my visit to the barn on Sunday was to let the horses get their sillies out in the hopes that they would somewhat behave for a ride on Monday.

Phantom seemed super happy to see me - or at least see the treats she hoped I had. She nickered to me when I went out to get her (which happens quite frequently these days) and then she kept nuzzling me. Well, nuzzling my hands and pockets.

She had a very good time playing. There was a pole on the ground along the track, and everytime she went down that side she gunned it towards the pole and leapt over it. Her options for take-off distances were long and longer.

I tried to rush Cisco in for a run as well but someone was crazy and thought it was warm enough to ride. It was -12 in the arena and I was cold in all my winter gear walking around in there.

Cisco ended up having to get lunged. I thought he might have been a bit silly since he was doing the idiot dance in the barn, but he was pretty quiet.

Staying on the pole theme, I threw a pole on the ground for him to go over. To the left, his tougher lead, he kept splitting his front legs over the pole and then dropping to trot. To the right he was pretty good.

Thus I upped the exercise and added a second pole - so there was one at 12 o'clock and one at 3 o'clock. First time for him over this type of exercise.

We started to the right since it was his stronger side. It took a couple of tries to get it without breaking to trot. What made a difference was getting a jumping canter - the same kind of canter I would need if I was on his back and approaching a jump. Then the poles were easy.

It ended up being the same to the left. The first couple of times he got there at a bad distance and split the front legs and dropped to trot. When I got him to improve the canter and be more forward, the two poles flowed together.

So that was a good observation and something I'll definitely have to work on under saddle for when we pop over some jumps (hoping to get serious about it this spring).

This exercise was also good for him in that there were a few times that he had to take awkward steps to get over the pole, and I could see that he was concerned the next time around. Then asking him to be more forward to the poles and then get good distances seemed to make him more confident.

Hopefully I'll manage to get on both of them on Monday and Tuesday. The weather is looking pretty good for the next couple of weeks so we'll try to get back into a routine.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

It's Chilly

The weather forecasters didn't lie. It's cold out.
You don't want to touch the doorknob on the inside of my garage without gloves!
I got out to the barn on Monday afternoon, which is looking like it's the nicest day of the week with a high of -26 celsius. The ponies were brought in and checked to make sure they were warm (they were) and given their grain before turning them back out again.
Frosty on the inside, but toasty on the inside (under the blankets).
They've got round bales in front of them since it's so cold so they are liking that. I'm hoping that they don't get too chunky over this cold spell.

I'm mostly staying at home, streaming far too much TV, spending far too much time on the computer, and trying far too hard not to spend money shopping online. I hope I don't get too chunky over this cold spell.
It's supposed to feel like -48 for the next two nights. That's -54 for those of you in the US.
The current forecast calls for this to break next Monday, with forecasted highs of -9 on Monday and Tuesday. I'm still off on those days, so I'm hoping to get a couple of rides in before I go back to work. It just seems like such a waste of time off if I don't manage to ride.

Friday, 10 January 2020

Now Entering the Arctic Dome

I'm glad I got in a couple of rides last week. It's not going to be happening again for a bit.
I saw a Facebook post by a Canadian tack store complaining about -10 and laughed and laughed.
I, of course, have all next week off. Guess I might end up with a clean house and clean tack by the end of it. (Probably not though.)

On Sunday I went out to the barn orginally with the intention of hopping on Phantom for her first ride back. But as I was getting dresssed I thought screw it. I'd get one crappy ride on her before the cold hit (it actually hit earlier this week, and we also had a bunch of snow to go with it).
My car read -31 on my drive home from the barn on Thursday evening when I went out to bundle the kids up.

She's been having fun and looking pretty good when I've let her loose in the arena. Also, she's been pretty full of sass.



I used her on that day to help someone check out their lunging skills. Phantom would have happily been very silly on the lunge but I had that shut down pretty quickly as the arena was quite busy.
Just a bit of an awkward position.
Cisco got some time in the arena with his best bud Blue.



There's not going to be much horse stuff happening over the next 10 days or so. I'll definitely have a crafty day, try to remember to bring some tack home to clean, and try to find a way to set up my Pixio so that I can send in information from it to find out why it's not working properly.

There will also be far too much time spent on the internet and Netflix. I guess I will end up very rested by the end of the week!

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Big Boy Pants Are On!

The first day of the year was a beautiful, warm winter day. That changed overnight. The second day of the year was super windy with snow being whipped around. Thankfully not overly cold, but that wind made it unpleasant to be outside.

It also made things interesting in the indoor arena. Our arena is a Cover-all - one of those canvas covered arenas. When it gets windy out, the canvas gets flappy. And noisy.

A noisy flappy arena used to really set Cisco off. He wanted nothing to do with the scary end of the arena (which tends to be noisier) and would generally try to get the f outta there when the walls started clanging.

With the sound on you can hear the canvas flapping and the wind howling. This was taken during the regular wind; when it gusted it was much louder and bangier.

He's gotten way better about it over the last year. Today's ride on a horse who was still pretty fresh was going to be a pretty good test.

Cisco entered the arena pretty tall and staring down at the scary end. He noticed the flappiness right away.

I walked him down to the end and did a couple of minutes of groundwork. There were a couple of attempts to scoot past me to get out of the corners that we needed to have a discussion about. He was good when I got on, which I was a bit worried about because the mounting block was in a noisy corner.

And overall through the ride? I was really impressed with him.

At the scary end we were able to walk through the end on a loose rein. He was actually better at a walk than he was at a trot. I don't know if we made it on the track at all, but he was really close and only a foot or two bulging to the inside.

Cisco was looking for a reason to leave. He didn't trust the flappy noises at all. But he gave it a chance, kept going forward, and more often than not, when we came out of the corner and headed out of that end he dropped his head and neck. Which got him big praise.

He lost his brain a little bit when the other horse left the arena about halfway through my ride. That gave me a good excuse to work on quick walk/trot/walk transitions and getting him to slow down off my outside rein. He had some nice moments on both the upwards and downwards transitions.

The first few strides of the right lead canter were some of the nicest we've had, including the transition. Totally lost the inside shoulder for most of the couple of circles we did, but I managed to pulse my inside leg strongly and he responded nicely. I wasn't stupid enough to try to canter in the scary end - we stuck to the safe part of the arena.

The left will be our problem side. He was curling up a bit so I'm going to have to really watch that I'm sending him forward and allowing his head and neck to move with my arms. This is my bad side too, unfortunately.

We were walking on a loose rein at the scary end and I was trying to decide if I was going to do some more canter work when a big gust of wind hit the arena. The arena flapped behind us, beside us and in front of us. Cisco had a couple of stutter steps and he wasn't sure which direction he should take to safety, but he kept going, and a couple of strides later had dropped his head and neck again. The gust had scared the crap out of me so I decided that was probably a good place to leave the ride.

Was it a perfect ride? Heck no. But I was really impressed with how well he kept his brain in his head. I remember a ride last March under similar conditions where I could barely get past E. Today, he was worried, but he kept trying and he was able to forget the bad things and concentrate on the moment. This was a big difference from that ride in March.

The other person that was in the arena also commented on how brave Cisco was being. She said you could see that he was concerned but he was trying really hard to do what I was asking of him.
I guess he can stay.

I was super proud of him. There were a lot of people that were avoiding riding in that end today with much more experienced horses but my guy stepped up to the challenge and met it head on.

Thursday, 2 January 2020

First Day, First Ride

First ride of the new year on the first day of the new year. Well, the first ride in the last six weeks fell on the first day of 2020!

I chose wisely and selected Cisco to be my victim. No lunging required - I just hopped on and off we went. He was feeling good, which meant that he spooked a little at a couple of things, but not the "I'm getting the hell outta here" type of spooks, just the "ooooh that's new" stare and fall away. If I had any sort of strength whatsoever, I probably could have just made him move off my leg and not fall in. Alas, I'm still getting over the flu and have little energy or strength.

Thus I was happy with the first ride back. He got better as the ride went on and kept everything together for the ride. Well, mostly.

He did have his badass moment. We trotted over some skinny trot poles, that had wing standards and planks leaning against the standards. Cisco trotted the first two poles, then leapt over the last two. I lost my left rein. That allowed him to drop his nose and hump his back. For a whole three steps. At a slow canter. And then he walked. Crazyness.
I also tried a new bit for Cisco. He definitely didn't hate it.
Sadly, I got no video footage of my ride. The Pixio got the best of me today and wasn't tracking. This was the third time that I used it, and I've changed the setup each time. This time I had set the tripod up in the middle of the arena next to a wing standard. I don't know what went wrong, and I tried a couple of things post-ride while dragging my horse around with me and couldn't get it working properly. Tomorrow I have some extra time so I'll get everything set up before I grab a horse and hopefully get it all figured out.

My decision to not ride Phantom was wise. I haven't had a chance to let her loose in the arena for a good play over the last few weeks. I knew that she would want to express her enthusiasm.

It had to be on the lunge line unfortunately. I much prefer to let her loose to get her sillies out. But I wasn't going to be able to get the arena free in time for me to make the Star Wars movie that was planned.
After her clip job she kind of looks like a shorn llama that had it's body trimmed and legs left. She has very floofy pants.
As expected, there were hijinks. Mostly of the self-imposed rollkur/tighten the back/suck back canter kind, which generally resulted in Phantom turning and halting while staring at me with her head and neck straight up in the air. There were also some bucks, a rear, lots of porpoising, cantering on the spot and galloping disunited on the circle. At least she's polite enough to do it out on the end of the lunge line and well away from me and doesn't really yank me around.

Hopefully Phantom got everything out of her system and she'll behave decentish for a ride tomorrow. I'm not overly optimistic about that, but she just needs to keep her shizz together for about 25 minutes and I'll be happy.

Monday, 30 December 2019

Who Wore It Better?

I'll hopefully be mostly over this whole flu-thing in the next couple of days. It looks like Mother Nature is planning to cooperate (for a week or so at least) and my work schedule isn't crazy. I might actually get a couple of rides in this week!

Part of the prep for getting back in the saddle is getting the ponies clipped. Both of them have big wooly coats. Phantom is definitely the woolier of the two, but Cisco seemed to grow more this year than he did last year.

Sunday was a beautiful day, so a perfect opportunity to create some semi-nekkid ponies. I stopped off on my way out to the barn at the dollar store to pick up a couple of things - some kind of sanitizer spray so that I could wipe the mouse smell out of my tack locker, and a disposable painting haz-mat suit. I've worn one over my clothes the last couple of times that I've clipped and it's been fantastic at reducing the amount of hair that ends up attached to me.

But they didn't have any. And I didn't feel like driving around to find one. So I sucked it up and clipped in the clothes I was wearing. Which wouldn't have been too bad except that I wore a bra. I don't usually wear a bra when I clip, just a thicker shirt. I'm so not going to do that again! The girls will forevermore be free when I am clipping!
So itchy!


The kids were both pretty well behaved and my Lister Star clippers got the job done pretty quickly. They got their normal variation of an Irish clip and somehow I managed to get both sides pretty even on my first attempt. It doesn't usually happen that way.
I am saddened by the lack of dapples underneath his coat this year/
Phantom, aka the Polar Pony, was quite warm when I brought her in, so I'm glad I got her clipped. The weather has been pretty nice for the last couple of days, but it's hard to blanket. Today's daytime high was just over freezing in the lovely sunshine, but it's supposed to feel like -19 celsius tonight. Those 20 degree swings are hard to figure out how dress.
Not her most flattering angle.
Hopefully, the new racing stripes won't give them any bad ideas when I get on them on Wednesday or Thursday!
Bonus pic - the bright spot in the middle of the sky is the moon, which was actually a lovely crescent moon. The bright spot to the right and below is apparently Venus. It was super bright in the sky, though not as much as on my drive home on Friday night, when it was just below the moon.

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Merry Christmas!


I had great plans for this week and was going to get a bunch of rides in. And then I got the flu. So I've barely made it off the couch for the last few days.

My family is doing the Christmas thing on Christmas Eve, so I'm hoping that I'll feel up to heading out to the barn on Christmas day. I doubt I'll be able to ride, but the ponies will be happy being stuffed full of treats.

I hope everyone gets to spend time with their loved ones, whether they be of the 2-legged or 4-legged variety. Enjoy the food, the company, and the gifts, be them large or small.

Have a very Merry Christmas!

Monday, 23 December 2019

Update: Smegma Transplant Results

Back in May I wrote about trying a smegma transplant on Cisco. Long story short: he'd been rubbing his tail and butt daily and his sheath stunk. The idea is that you take smegma from another gelding, stick it where the sun don't shine on Cisco, and hopefully it changes the ph balance in there and he stops rubbing.

Did it work?

A resounding yes!

I think he came in only a handful of times with a rubbed tail during the worst of fly season. Compared to before when he came in like that daily, there was a significant improvement.  I also no longer smelled eau de sheath whenever I was in his vicinity.

It's been about 7 months so far and I haven't had to repeat the treatment. With my old horse Farly, I had to re-implant smegma every 6 - 8 months. We'll see how the next few months go for Cisco before I decide if I need to do it again.

I'll have to find a new donor horse though. The one I used last time is no longer at the barn!