Thursday, 20 September 2018

Crap Weather = Energy

I started to feel slightly more ambitious over the weekend (and guilty for not doing anything all week while I was off). The weather hadn't improved - it didn't stop raining until Sunday night. But after 4 or 5 days of cold and wet you kind of get used to it. Kind of.
I don't want to get used to snow in September!

So on Saturday afternoon I bundled myself up in some Kerrits fleece breeches, a merino wool shirt, and topped it off with my winter coat. I also threw Phantom's Rambo Duo top layer in the car just in case her other blanket was too wet.

Phantom and her buddies were all huddled under their shelter. Although her neck was wet, she seemed happy enough standing there. Which totally changed when I brought her in, and drama queen that she is she started shivering. I blow-dried the one side of her neck that was wet and left a cooler on her while I groomed. She was a bit antsy while getting ready, even pawing very dramatically - and then she peed in the aisle (which she almost never does), so I'll give her the benefit of the doubt that she was doing the potty dance.

I did notice that her butt and tail were rather tucked up and decided lunging before riding would be smart. She wasn't overly silly, but was definitely a bit more forward than she normally would be on the lunge. Eventually, I hopped on.
Grover, the Gray Flannel Kitty, happily curled up next to me on a heated blanket watching Netflix on Saturday nightl. 

OMG. Was her back ever tight. She started off in a walk with teeny tiny quick steps. And it didn't get a whole lot better before I picked up a trot. At which point it felt like I was riding a ping pong ball. With a time bomb built inside of it. Oi.

The goal for the ride became to just get her moving around and try to avoid bolting. That's her go-to move when she has an excess of energy - she kind of scoots/bolts out of usually one specific corner. I think she thought about it a couple of times so I admittedly avoided that corner somewhat.

I managed a whole 15 minutes of trotting without getting pinged out of the saddle and decided to call it a day. Phantom had far too much stored up energy and she has never been one to release it through a ride. She is far more likely to just get more and more wound up, especially once we've cantered.
Phantom was dressed up in winter gear on Saturday night. I'm pretty sure she appreciated it.

On Sunday I rushed her over to the arena to let her run around before someone else brought their horse over. I knew we didn't have long, but she will expel energy far easier when she is loose versus when she is on the lunge line.

Phantom definitely had lots of energy to burn. It wasn't the silly type of energy, just the want to keep going type of energy. Not that she does laps around the arena or anything - she generally does the gallop down to the opposite corner and stop thing. Then I walk part way down and shush her out of that corner and she gallops down to the next corner. I usually get just as much exercise as she does.

I knew another horse was going to be coming over in a few minutes, so I hoped to get the worst out of her and then put her on the lunge line. Apparently I just revved her up. When the other horse came over, Phantom wouldn't let me catch her. She'd stop in the corner, wait for me to start walking towards her, then gallop down to the other corner. I eventually tricked her by putting my hands in my pockets and pretended to bring out a treat. Then she let me catch her.
Standing in a shelter for 5 days means way too much energy.

She obviously had lots of go still in her so I popped her on the lunge line. Again, she wasn't silly, just had way more go than she usually does.

The crap weather ended on Sunday night. Hopefully she will spend some time outside of the shelter and get some self-exercise so I don't have to deal with this energy again!

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Wet, Cold and Miserable

I've kind of been wallowing in a bit of a self pity party this week.

I had been working overnight shifts the last couple of weeks. Just long enough to get into a sleep all day sleep schedule. I've been off this week, and had great plans for the week, but I haven't been able to sleep properly. So I've been tired all week, and feeling crappy because of it (and likely hormones have contributed).

I was hoping to enjoy the beautiful fall weather and spend some time outside with the ponies. Except this happened.
A couple of miles from the barn on Thursday.

Yep, that's snow. In the second week of September. Most of the continent seems to be having an unseasonal heat wave. Not here.

It won't stay past the weekend, but we're supposed to get some more before it warms up. In the meantime, looking outside is giving me little incentive to do anything useful.

I made it out to the barn on Thursday afternoon (after a doctor's visit in which I found out I will need some tests done on my thyroid) and really just wanted to spend some time with my horses. I brought Phantom in first, decided she looked much too sassy, and took her over to the arena to let her loose to play. She was happy to oblige. 

After she finished zooming around, I was hoping to just hang out with her. You know, just put my arms around her neck and hang out there. Phantom wasn't in such a mood to reciprocate.

First, I had to go to her, she wouldn't come to me. Fine, whatever. I stood next to her and linked my hands on the top of her mane and rested my head on her neck. She gave me a whole 3 seconds before fairly adamantly backing away from me, to stand in front of me. So I went back to her and gave her a hug again. And again she gave me 3 seconds before backing up to stand in front of me. 

Then she dropped her head, took the couple of steps towards me, and put her nose against my chest. My heart melted. 

Until she nose-butted me in the stomach. And looked for the treats that she was hoping she knocked out of the dispenser. Cow. 

Cisco wasn't a whole lot better. He got to play for a bit in the arena also. And then he did his idiot dance in the barn. He's been doing that dance lately, I think it's because I keep bringing him in around dinner time. Since he and Phantom are both in diet pens, mealtimes are big deals to them. 
Time for warm clothes already.

The crap weather was supposed to continue through Sunday evening. Not so much snow, but rain with temperatures just above freezing. I bundled the kids up in lined blankets with hoods. They're getting damp, but since they're spending most of their time standing under their shelters they aren't doing too badly. Just storing up energy to be expelled when I get on them again. 



Monday, 10 September 2018

Review - Spirulina

For the last three or four summers, Phantom has had some respiratory issues - namely a cough and some laboured breathing while under saddle. I had her looked at one summer (which was the summer that there seemed to be a cough going around at more than one barn by all accounts) and the vet said she might be a bit heavey. It seems to be a seasonal problem, from summer through early fall.

This summer I pulled her out of the field that she had been all winter in late May. That field was fed from a round bale. I wanted her off the round bale to try to avoid problems this summer and because she needed to lose some weight.

I also added Spirulina to her diet.

What is spirulina?

Basically, it's blue-green algae. Aka - seaweed.
It comes as a green powder. Very green.

It's considered a superfood, and some say that it is the most nutrient dense food source on the planet. It's very high in protein and amino acids, and is thought to have anti-histamine properties. It is for this last reason that I considered adding it to Phantom's food. Well, that and the many, many anecdotes online of how it benefitted horses with heaves or allergies.

Being seaweed, it has a fairly strong odour. And likely a strong flavour - I haven't tried it myself, but Phantom was not impressed in the beginning. I started out adding it to apple sauce by itself, then was able to add her grain to it. I tried adding a touch of Stevia sweetener instead of apple sauce to it one day, and that was a success. I've since progressed to adding it to her feed, which includes beet pulp, and she is happily gobbling it up. It took a couple of months though.
Food takes on a definite green tinge once it's been added.

I put Cisco on it also as he was coughing a bit this summer, and since he's not picky about what he eats, I don't have to do anything fancy to have him lick the bowl clean.
Cisco's food before being mixed up.

Do I think it made a difference? Most definitely. This was the first summer out of the last four that I was able to ride her for most of the summer (well, except for the crappy air quality, and you know, lack of time). Most telling is that if she hasn't had it for a few days because I couldn't get out to the barn, she will cough, but once she starts to get it regularly again the cough disappears.

The downsides - everything it touches turns green. Phantom's lips turn green. Where she scratches her leg after eating turns green. The wall where she rubs her nose after eating turns green. My arm after she begs for cookies turns green.

And once that stuff dries, it does not come off easily.
There are a few stall fronts with green nose prints all over them. Oops.

The cost isn't too bad. The first bucket I picked up was from Herbs for Horses - a 1 kg pail that was about $68 at a local store. Feeding about 10g per day would give me about 100 doses from that bucket. When I had to buy some more later this summer that store wouldn't get another order in for a few weeks, so I shopped around online and found some human stuff that was on sale from a health-food store that worked out to be the same price per gram. (There are people who voluntarily eat this stuff out there- amazing!)

I'm definitely going to keep Phantom on spirulina through the summer months going forward. I'm not sure about the winters- she is generally better through the cold months, and I tend to not be out consistently enough for her to receive any benefit from it.


Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Blog Hop - If I Had A Million Dollars

If I had a million dollars, if I had a million dollars,
I would buy you a house, I would buy you a house. 
And if I had a million dollars, if I had a million dollars,
I'd buy you furniture for your house, maybe a nice chesterfield or an ottoman.

(My fellow Canucks will get this reference. For everyone else, watch the video!)



Sorry, but if I had a million dollars, I would not buy you a house. I would pay off my own. Which is due to be paid off in about 5 years, so it wouldn't take up too much of that million dollars. And then I would put some money into it. New kitchen, bathrooms, roof, flooring, air conditioning. Anything that is self-cleaning and self-cooking.

I've got a decent amount already put aside for retirement, so I would put a small amount towards that.

I'd have to get my passport updated, because some travel would be in my future. Europe for sure, probably Iceland, maybe Australia. Disneyworld. On more than one continent.
I'd happily camp out in a valley of horses in Iceland.

And then I would spend a wee bit of it on the ponies.

Ha ha, who am I kidding. It would all get spent on the ponies.

I would still board my horses. I'm happy to pay someone to feed my horse when it's -40 in the winter.

Four custom saddles. A jumping and a dressage for each horse.

But how could I choose just four?


Rambo blankets. Summer and winter.

Custom boots for me. Black, and a fun colour like navy or burgundy.
Or maybe glitter??

A tow vehicle for my trailer.
My Boeckmann would look great towed by a Toyota Highlander.

Weekly lessons on each horse.
Or maybe not.

Regular massages for each horse (and me).

Because I would drop down to a part-time position at work and have lots of spare time, I'd get a personal trainer and a gym membership so that I could work out regularly to help my riding.

And most importantly, I'd get a cleaning lady and a groundskeeper.
This might work too.

In reality, if I had a million dollars, I wouldn't for long.

Thanks to Olivia for the blog hop idea!

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

We Toodled

It was a very long week of working nights, leaving me very tired. And very sore.

I had to be out at the barn around dinnertime to teach a lesson. I was determined that I was going to get on a horse. I didn't care what I did once on, but I was getting on dammit.

I had let the kids loose in the arena the day before to get rid of any sillies since they had been off all week. I wasn't sure if Cisco was looking a wee bit off behind, so I decided that I would ride Phantom.

So I brought her in and fed her. And while waiting for her to finish eating, tried not to fall asleep.

I was bagged.

But I was riding.

Grooming and tacking up sounded like it was going to take too much work. But I was going to ride. So, bareback?

When I was younger I used to ride bareback all the time. I'd jump, do flying changes, and barrel race for fun. I think I've only ridden Phantom bareback 2 or 3 times. Which means I've only ridden bareback 2 or 3 times in, oh, 12 years.

The first issue was getting on. The mounting block is tall enough that I could just put my right leg over and be sitting on. Perfect! So I did that.

And Phantom went flying backwards. She was all "WTF?" So I slid off. And she gave me the hairy eyeball as I stood in front of her.

I took her back to the mounting block. First I leaned over her. She tensed for a second but then leaned back into me. Then I put my right leg over and kept my left leg on the block. That was fine, so I did it a couple more times and then took my weight off my left leg and sat on her. She stood this time.
Hard to get a decent picture while on the horse.

When we walked off, it was a very short, tight walk. One of the reasons I wanted to ride bareback was because my back was very tight, so I doubt that I was helping the situation.

The other thing that wasn't helping? I had no frikkin' balance. I felt like I was going to slide off the side. At a walk. Holy crap. I had to hold a chunk of mane for the first few laps.

It took a few minutes for Phantom to relax and drop her head and start to walk forward. It took way longer for me to stop constantly trying to shift my weight to the right. I so need to ride bareback more to try to break this habit.

Eventually I asked for a trot. Phantom picked up a slow, bouncy trot that I sat to (posting while bareback is too much movement for her). I started giggling, and didn't stop for a lap and a half of the arena. It was mostly the overtired, no idea why I'm laughing but can't stop kind of giggling, which honestly, felt really good.

It didn't take too long for Phantom to figure out that I wasn't going to fall off so she could speed up. I managed about 25 minutes of riding before I could no longer ignore the screaming of my right psoas. I didn't canter - she hadn't been ridden for a week and if I was going to slide off over her right shoulder it would be at a canter. I'll work up to it.

I think I'm going to try to ride bareback a bunch through the winter. I've always enjoyed it, and don't really have a reason as to why I've stopped. Hopefully it will help that sitting to the right problem - there's nothing to step into while bareback!

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

The Big Smoke

Well, I didn't get much riding in last week. The smoke was back for most of the week, and we had a few days back in the 10+ for air quality - that's on a scale where 0 is desirable. (Remember the picture of the apocalyptic sky from a couple of weeks ago? Fun fact - my city had the worst air quality in the world (urban areas over 250,000 people) that day. Worse than China and India.)

I haven't had any problems breathing, but sometimes have had a bit of a sore throat or a cough. The ponies live outside though, and don't really have a way to get out of the haze.
We've barely seen a blue sky in about 3 weeks. Just haze.
From talking to a couple of people who have ridden their horses on some of the bad days, it seems that the main issue that they have noticed is the lack of energy in their horse. They've been keeping the rides easier, but their horse just doesn't seem to have any gas in the tank.

Some of the local events have been either modified or postponed when the air quality is up around 10. A little local open show moved to another facility so that they could be inside. An event last weekend was supposed to be a 3 day, but they moved cross-country and stadium to Sunday and did nothing on the Saturday.  A Pony Club rally this past weekend was only going forward with the riding if the air quality dropped to 7.

Thankfully our temperatures have dropped well below melty levels, and we've had a bit of rain, with more in the forecast. These helped to drop the air quality this weekend to much better levels. However the fires are still burning in BC, and we could see the return of the smoke and haze anytime.
Fly masks are on because of the late summer flies that love Cisco's face.

I'd love to just take the ponies out for a hack down the road to get them some exercise when the air is bad, but the late summer flies are horrible.  I can't stand being outside with a swarm of small flies around my head. And now I'm going to be working night shifts for a couple of weeks. So the kids will likely end up with a pretty light workload for a bit. Again.

Monday, 27 August 2018

Playing with Working Equitation Stuff

There was a Working Equitation clinic that was held at my barn last weekend. I originally was hoping to ride in it, but the cost ended up being a bit more expensive than I was willing to pay for 3 hours of riding and instruction from someone that I'd never seen before. The first day was dressage instruction, the second day was the Ease of Handling elements, and there was a schooling show on the third day. I hoped that if I went out in the evening that the EOH elements would be set up and I could play with them - they were!

I arrived too late to the barn on the first night to ride, but I made sure both horses got to see everything and did some parts of it in hand.

Phantom, of course, loved the bridge. The only thing on the course that she was worried about was the bell that was over her head - it took a few goes before she would stop under it, and not to the side. She does tend to notice things high up and can be odd about them. Ringing the bell didn't worry her, just the fact that it was there.

Cisco took some extra time at the bridge. The last time we did a bridge (and his first time) was back in the spring. It was a teeter totter bridge. Cisco started off well and went across it a bunch of times, but he didn't like when it dropped down. I gave him a break from it and when we went back to it, he flat out said no. Hell no.

So he was pretty sure this bridge was going to drop down too. He started off by saying hell no again. It took a few minutes, but honestly not as long as I thought it would, before we had all 4 feet on the bridge. Then he jumped off the side before it dropped down on him. Another 3 or 4 attempts and we made it all the way across. Once he realized that it didn't tip he was very good about going across - still a bit worried, but tried to be really brave.

Surprisingly, the stripy orange "bull" wasn't scary to either horse. Both went right up to it and sniffed the bull blanket.
The rare breed of stripey orange fluffy cow.
On the second night, everything was still set up. This time I rode both horses.

With Cisco I did everything at the walk. I didn't ride everything as it was supposed to be ridden - there is a lot of backing up and I've only asked Cisco for a couple of strides at a time. So for those elements we just continued to walk forward. I was more concerned with just riding him through and around everything, and not overly concerned with doing it well or correctly.
Cisco finally relaxed over the bridge

The bridge went very well. He initially was worried since I wasn't there to hold his hand (or hoof) and lead him over it. But as he did the previous night, once he made it across once it stuck and he was good to go. I started to add halting in the middle, and since he was still nervous about being on the bridge he danced around a bit in the halt. He kind of stepped off the side and fell off once. But he stepped back on the next time I aimed him at it and next time I asked him to stop, he stood much better.

The only problem came when we tried to do the gate. The gate was very high, and when I started to move it towards him he panicked. I did a bit of work around it, hopped off, and did a bit more on the ground. He did a bit better but ideally would need a couple of sessions with it before I could expect too much.

I had much higher expectations or going through the course with Phantom. I knew that I could do everything at a trot, and probably some parts at a canter (with simple changes). The trot was pretty easy. The canter was omg so hard.
Trying to canter the slalom poles.

Those turns and circles are so tight! At the higher levels the ideal size is 3m circles around the barrels. At the lower levels, it's 4m. No idea what size I was aiming for but they seemed too big to make the turns balanced around the barrels. You really need a horse who sits behind to be able to do these at a canter. I had left my spurs off, so I had no backup when Phantom decided it was too hard and she should just stall out.

She figured out the bell and the cup elements very quickly. She stopped at the end, and backed out really easily. She needs some work about standing still though - totally not surprising. (I'm pretty sure I was doing the cup thing wrong - there are two different elements with the cup and I think I kind of combined them. Still good practice though!)

What was surprising was how hard it was to keep the trot through the livestock pen. I figured that it would be one of the easier elements, and was looking forward to cantering it. But everytime we went through it her trot sucked back, and since the rest of the canter wasn't going too smoothly I figured I'd better not.
The livestock pen with a bit of extra whee to the tiny crosspole.

She was also a bit worried about the gate, but I probably would have been able to work her through it. Except that we knocked it over. Whoops.

I don't know who actually owned this stuff, so I didn't really want to do anything that I thought might be kind of risky to either me or the equipment. So I didn't do the pole or the skewer the ring on the bull with the pole, and didn't push the gate issues. The pole will be easy to practice myself over the winter, but I'll need to find a way to make a gate.

I really liked playing with these obstacles. There's a lot of work to be done before they would be easy at the faster gaits, so lots of room for improvement. I think that riding it at speed would be similar to riding in a jump-off, especially if you have a horse that knows it's job and gets into it. It looks like there are a couple of local barns that might host some regular "play days", so that might be nice to try to hit. And I'll see what I can build to play with over the winter. It'll be a good way to break up the monotony of being stuck inside for 7 months.

If you want some more information about Working Equitation, or want to learn how to set up and ride the elements in Ease of Handling, you can check out the Working Equitation Canada webpage and download the Rules and Tests pdf.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

It Begins....

I sold a saddle this weekend. The treeless saddle that I had originally bought and used before I had a short flap version of the saddle made. It was advertised for about 2 months, with lots of tire kickers, but no offers. Cash offers that is - I think I had four different offers for trades for a different saddle. The offer was, of course, quite a bit less than I was asking, but the money is in the bank and the saddle is out of my house.

Which means it's time to start looking for a new one!

Yay! Said no equestrian ever. Saddle shopping sucks.

A super short rider on an extra wide horse? Saddle shopping sucks even more.
This back....

I'm going to try the Wow saddles. A couple of months ago I wrote about why I was interested in them - see here.
and these short legs = very hard to fit

I've started the process - I paid for the deposit on the gauge this evening, so hopefully it will arrive next week. Once I get the specs for the panels and headplate that will fit Cisco I'll return the gauge and she will send me a jumping saddle to try. I will likely delay the receipt of the saddle for a couple of weeks as it looks like I'll be working nights again for at least part of September. I'd like to make sure I get a good chance to ride in it for a few rides.

I also want to make sure Cisco gets a good chance in the saddle - he's never been ridden in a treed saddle before. I have no idea how he will react!

If Cisco and I deem the saddle acceptable, the plan is to try to find some used parts online over the winter and likely buy new flaps - probably a short flap. There seems to be a large market for used parts in the UK, hopefully, someone will be willing to ship to Canada.

I plan to measure Phantom with the gauge as well - not that I'm planning to get a new saddle for her anytime soon as she seems happy in the treeless. But you never know - maybe a saddle with the right options will pop up for the right price!


Monday, 20 August 2018

ISO: Good Smegma


I posted this on my barn's Facebook page for the boarders. 

I was too tired and crampy to ride on Friday night. It was still super smoky out, so I didn't want to do much with the horses. I hoped that when I arrived out at the barn in the evening that the Working Equitation clinic that was running over the weekend would have some of the Ease of Handling elements set up, and they did, so I played with some of the things in hand with each horse. But after that, what to do since I drove all that way?

I stood next to Cisco while pondering this question. And I caught the subtle scent of eau de smegma. Decision made. 

I gloved up and grabbed the baby wipes and some warm water. And dug in. This was Cisco's first real time getting felt up so intensely - he had his sheath cleaned and the bean removed by the vet last summer when he was sedated for his teeth floating, and thus had dropped down. He wasn't going to drop down for me, so I had to get all up in there. 

Thankfully he was a very good boy. My head is still its normal oval shape without any new dents. 

His sheath actually wasn't overly dirty. It cleaned up pretty quickly. But that smell.... 

My old gelding, Farly, had a very similar scent that emanated from his sheath. His smegma was different than Cisco's - Farly had smegma that kind of looked like wet cat food. He would get a discharge on the inside of his gaskins sometimes, so one day I asked a vet what I could do about it. He suggested the smegma transplant trick. The idea is that the new smegma changes the ph in the recipient sheath as the odour is caused by something like yeast. 

For Farly, it worked well for about 6 months at a time. He would stop rubbing his sides on his hindquarters, the discharge would go away, and I wouldn't detect any odour. The fun part was walking around asking for smegma!

So I'm going to try the same thing with Cisco. He's been rubbing his tail a lot, despite just being dewormed. I'm thinking the smell might be the giveaway that something isn't right in there. We'll see how it works! I've been offered a few geldings to violate as "willing" donors, so it looks like getting the material shouldn't be a problem! 



Friday, 17 August 2018

Lesson Recap

On Tuesday night I had another lesson on Cisco. In my lesson on Phantom the week before I asked my coach if she had any tips on getting a green horse to pick up a sticky lead. Which I said was probably because he isn't sharp enough picking up the canter. She said she had a great trick she picked up in Holland so I said I would ride Cisco next week and we could work on it.

I walked him around while she finished the lesson before me. I got miked up with her CeeCoach-type system (not sure which brand she has) and we picked up the trot. After what only felt like 3 minutes of trot she told me to ask for the canter - as I approached the wall on the circle, step into my inside stirrup, outside leg back, and tap him on the shoulder with the dressage whip. And use my voice.
One pooped pony post-ride.
First of all, I wasn't ready to canter after only 3 minutes of trot! So I fumbled and the first attempt sucked. We circled a couple of times to steady Cisco's trot, and tried again. He picked up the wrong lead, so rinse and repeat again. And we got it! Still not super clean, but not as much running trot into it.

We did that a few more times, each direction. There was also a jumping lesson going on, so I tried to just go large and just let him roll forward around the arena. There were a few moments to the right where he slowed his pace down a bit, and didn't feel like he was running so much. For the most part though the canter feels like he's running with his lower neck stuck out. But I've just got to let him roll along to find his own rhythm and relaxation. No matter how icky it feels.

After a really good canter to the right we went back to some trot work.

We're starting to have some moments to the right of being able to get right flexion and not fall in with his shoulders and ribcage. Tonight we managed to get more, including some lovely moments on a 3 loop serpentine across the short side of the arena (which is about 30m wide, so 10m turns). A glimmer of how he's going to feel - which is fantastic!
I tied him up and went to mix his food. I heard hoof sounds in the aisle so peeked out - this is what I saw approaching me. No idea how he untied himself and ended up with the lead draped over his face.
My coach kept saying that she loves how much he tries. He's trying so hard to figure out what I'm asking him to do.

We had to stop to shut the arena gate as I led him back to the barn after the lesson. He was pooped - pretty sure he would have been happy to have a nap standing at the gate.

So it was another great lesson. Not much new stuff learned but pushing me to ask more of Cisco than I would otherwise.

Unfortunately. I'm going to have to drop down to bi-weekly lessons. I've had a bunch of expenses over the last month (new hot water tank, furnace repairs, new back door) and need to economize a bit. If I do bi-weekly I'll probably alternate between Cisco and Phantom. It means only one lesson a month on each, but at least that will still give me something to work on.



Thursday, 16 August 2018

The Apocolypse

The apocolypse hit last night.

Or so it would appear when we woke up this morning:

Yep, that really was the colour of the sky when the sun came up. Orange. Beautiful, yet very surreal.

Unfortunately, it's this colour because the air is full of smoke from forest fires in the neighbouring province. The air quality is very poor - a 10+, which is the highest rating on the scale. Everything is hazy and smells like smoke.

So I planned on giving the ponies a light day. I know Phantom has respiratory issues and Cisco has had an inconsistent cough through the summer. No need to make them work when the air quality is this poor.
On my drive out to the barn at 10am. That should be a beautiful blue sky.

I took the opportunity to take Cisco for a hand walk to new places. On our last hack down to the neighbour's place, he got really worried about a trailer parked next to a shed that was just past the point I wanted to get to. We made it to that point, but I don't know that he would have gone further. I wanted to be able to get past that point without issue.

So we went for a walk. And for almost the whole way, he led. As in, I walked next to his shoulder with his head and neck out in front and he walked on a loose lead. Which was exactly what I wanted.

We stopped on the way back and had to check out the trailer, and the burn pile and a pile of pallets on the other side of it. Those were scary, and he hid behind me and let me be the brave one, but he came up and sniffed them and got to take a mouthful of grass.
Cisco taking me for a walk. No filter on this - which was at 11am.

Then we went down past our barn and turned down the road away from the horses. Again he led most of the way, and didn't speed up when we turned around and headed home.

When we got back home, I pulled out the clippers so that I could do his bridle path. The previous couple of times that I've tried it, he's not been happy about the clippers up by his ears. Rest of the body, no problem. Ears, nope.

Apparently Cisco remembered our previous sessions. The good parts of them. Like when you drop your head, you get a cookie. The third time I moved the clippers (without actually attempting to clip yet) up to his ears, he dropped his head. I didn't ask him to, he just did it. So he got a cookie. And he continued that way. So I was able to clip his bridlepath with his head down and I could actually see what I was doing. Last time I stuck the clippers up there kind of blind since he was a giraffe and of course it ended up longer than it should have been. This time I got it just the right length.
I also washed his tail and spent 1/2 hour brushing the knots out. I didn't expect it to look this fluffy!

I had intended to take Phantom for a walk under saddle out and about. She had coughed some during the warmup walk in our ride the day before so I figured the smokiness might be affecting her. When I was walking Cisco, the flies were terrible. Like I was constantly swatting them away from my head terrible. Phantom is a princess who hates flies. A hack out on a loose rein would not be a relaxing event for either of us. So she got lucky and just had her bridle path trimmed and fed and fly sprayed and turned back out.

They're hoping that the smoke will dissipate over the weekend. The fires in BC are still burning though, so the air quality might be a problem for a lot of the remaining summer. There might be lots of slow work in our future.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

We Made It to the Other Side

I'm filling out my entry forms for the Spruce Meadows Masters. Because this happened:

Our first jumps!

And by jumps I mean higher than a trot pole, but small enough that Cisco didn't have to actually jump them. Just step over them at a trot.

He was a bit unsure, so a wee bit wobbly at the base, but we made it across to the other side every time. There was only one time that there was an actual "jump" effort, but I'm ok with that. We left point A and arrived at point B calmly and without too much fuss. Just what I hoped for.

Cisco is not an overly confident horse. So I'm going with the Denny Emerson method - super small jumps that they can step over, and keep things calm and quiet. We are nowhere near ready to canter into anything, but we can definitely start to trot over teeny tiny things. (If you don't follow Tamarack Hill Farm on Facebook, you really should. Denny has some wonderful words of wisdom from his decades of riding to share.)

Otherwise, the ride wasn't anything to write about. Except that we were 3 for 3 picking up the right lead canter, which has been a struggle for the last 3 or 4 rides.  I guess he heard that canter transitions are going to be the focus of our lesson on Tuesday night!