Wednesday, 16 January 2019

1/3 of a Saddle

I've started to acquire the parts to make up a Wow saddle for Cisco.

I've been watching the Facebook page for used parts since October. Apparently, the parts that I need are not overly common. And if it's the right part, it's the wrong size.

So just after New Year's, I put an ISO ad up. To my surprise, I had a pretty quick response that someone had a seat that fit my requirements available.  The deal was made, money was sent, and a few days later I had in my possession a shallow seat on a flat y-bar.

Condition is fantastic - there are a couple of very small nicks on the cantle (I had to look for them). Those were the only marks I could find on it.

I hopefully have the acquisition of a set of panels in the works - someone from Wow contacted me from that same ISO ad. They are a little higher priced than I was hoping, but since I haven't seen many posted over the last few months, especially in my size, I will probably just grab them. They'll be about 1/3 less than new and are supposed to be in very good condition.

I'm going to need to save whatever I can since the last big part, the flaps, are going to be more expensive than I hoped/thought. Unfortunately, my short little legs are happiest in custom sized flaps, and I don't anticipate finding those used. At least, not in the near future.
The taped bag on the stirrup bar on the right has the bolts in it.
I was hoping to put this saddle together for somewhere in the $2500-$3000 range. Looks like it's going to be closer to $3500. If I didn't need custom flaps, the $2500 would definitely be doable.

I have a saddle listed for sale at the moment - my beloved Crosby Centennial that I can't use on either horse. Hopefully, I can sell it in a somewhat timely manner, and I'm going to go through my garage and try to sell a whole bunch of stuff that I don't use or have in duplicate (or triplicate). There's a tack sale in March that I'll take it all to - I hate dealing with people on Facebook. With any luck, I'll have flaps for maybe May.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

To the Right, To the Right

I dragged Pony Grandma out to the barn with me on that cold and windy Saturday night two weekends ago with the intent of getting some video of my ride on Cisco. Of course, I was hoping for a better ride than I got for some more flattering screenshots, but nonetheless, the video was useful for something else.

It made me realize that I can't turn my body to the right.

When I was taking lessons last summer, that was something that I got nailed for. Going to the right, I should be turning my torso so that my right shoulder comes back, and my left shoulder goes forward.
It's not happening here.
It makes a huge difference with Cisco. He prefers to drop onto his right shoulder when tracking right, and falls to the inside. I'm 99% sure that this plays a significant role in our difficulty in picking up the right lead canter.

When I remember to turn my shoulders, Cisco softens and bends right. When he is being resistant that way, I've been trying to just keep my body turned and wait him out instead of getting into a pulling war on the inside rein.

I've been thinking about this a lot as I ride. And making progress.

Or so I thought.
Or here.
To my dismay, when I watched the video, I didn't see any movement of my shoulders. Like if you took away the walls of the arena, I wouldn't be able to tell if I was tracking left or right.


So on my next ride on Phantom, which was a week later because it was fricking cold all week, I worked on turning my body to the right. I trotted around with my right hand on my cantle, looked at her right hind foot, and turned. Thankfully I was riding by myself, and there were no jumps to worry about running into, and Phantom is reliable and able to stay on the track, because I was looking behind me and not where I was going.

Then I had to turn to the right, and stay on my right seat bone. I kept wnting to fall onto my left seat bone and throw everything to the outside.
So not happening here.
My back and left side was not happy. Especially after I got off.

But I did hit a point where it almost felt easy and fluid. I actually saw my left shoulder in front of me. Hello left shoulder, where have you been all my life?

Since my rides on Phantom are legging-up type rides for the next few weeks, I think I'm going to keep concentrating on turning right on our rides. She's nice and steady and reliable and doesn't care if I'm doing weird things.

Unless I do airplane arms.

Monday, 14 January 2019

Llama Llama Ding Dong

It was a dark and stormy night....
The snow blowing off the roof of the barn when I left.
Well, a dark, windy and snowy night. I dashed out to the barn last Saturday evening determined to get horses ridden since the temperatures are plunging next week and I likely won't get many rides in.

Cisco was on extra alert right from the get-go. The wind had picked up and was blowing snow everywhere. One disadvantage to riding in a Cover-All arena is that when it's windy, it's noisy. Everything flaps and clanks. Cisco no-likee.

He entered the arena and immediately adopted the llama position and stared at the scary end. And that set the tone for my ride.
Our ride was mostly like this.

He was on edge the whole ride, and felt like a ticking time-bomb. I spent the majority of the ride just trying to maintain a somewhat rhythmic trot in the safe end of the arena. If there was an extra loud clank at the far end (like 50m away), he'd scoot away to safety.
Or this.
Some brave souls rode over from next door, and Cisco found a little bit of comfort in their presence. I was done by this point, but spent some time walking him off under saddle in the hopes of getting some relaxed work under saddle.
Or this, which was "run away" when I circled across the center of the arena. 
And he finally gave me something.

I asked him to stretch his nose down towards the ground as we walked. A bit of extra flexion, and a big give. And he figured it out. And was very happy to do so.
And there were a few short moments of trying to do this. By which I mean trying to stretch his head and neck forward and a wee bit down. 
Hopefully, I can use this tool earlier in my rides to get him to relax a bit when he want to be up. I mean, it will take a while to become confirmed enough that I can get it on command. But I can start asking for it earlier in the ride instead of just at the end.

Of course, getting some regular rides in will help. Which at this point, seems like it might happen in about May or so.
The temperatures over the last two weeks. From a high of 8 to a low of -22. This weekend is on the uptick again, to be followed by another cold spell later in the week.

Monday, 7 January 2019

Ride #2 of the New Year

Last Thursday, which was the beautiful day that I washed both horses tails, I also managed to ride both horses. Pretty easy rides for both, partly because they are just getting started back, but mostly because I'm totally out of shape for riding. And because I wanted to be able to walk the next day at work after riding two days in a row.

Phantom's ride was very easy - only the second ride at the first step of the interval training program I'm doing with her. So it was mostly walking with a small amount of trot sets thrown in. She would have been happy to do way more - she kept trying to speed off every time we went across a diagonal. But nope - I'm sticking to my plan. 

She felt a wee bit off on our first trot to the left, hopefully just because she still had a bit of fill in that right front. I didn't feel anything after that first trot, though her symmetry score on the Equisense was pretty low. Not sure if it was because we didn't really trot all that much so it was a bit of a false reading, or if it's because she's actually not overly sound. Something to keep in the back of my mind.
A little hard to see in pictures, but there is a definite green tinge to the bottom half of Cisco's face. Either he's getting ready for St. Patrick's day really early, or he's made a hole in the slow feeder net and is sticking his face into the round bale.
Next, I tacked up Cisco. He had been in for a bit after getting his tail washed and dried, so he was pretty mellow. That didn't seem to carry over when we got into the arena. He was on alert, though not high-alert. Groundwork usually helps to tune him in, so I did some of that before hopping on.

He stood nicely for me to get on, but once I was on wouldn't stand still. This seems to be hit or miss (mostly miss) depending on how up he is. I foresee a couple of days of just repeating getting on and standing in the near future.

He was definitely more up than the previous ride, but by no means crazy.
That yellowy/browny tinge above and below the noseband is actually a green tinge in person. 
I decided to bite the bullet and try for the right lead canter. My goal for the next short period with Cisco is to make sure that I canter every ride.

We didn't get the right lead. Well, we did, but it probably took at least 10 attempts.

Last summer I had a lesson and the focus was getting the canter quicker and a trick to get the right lead. Mr. Smarty Pants quickly figured that exercise out, and every time I would do a circle and re-approach the track he would anticipate that I was going to ask for a canter so he got super antsy at the trot. So I'm trying to not use that exercise and trying to change up where I ask for the canter.

He was actually pretty good about not doing the up-and-down trot in between the canter attempts. Eventually, we got the right lead, though we only kept it for about halfway around the arena, with suspect steering.

He got lots of praise, and we went back to some more trot work. He was anticipating, but not obnoxiously, and he stepped quietly into a right lead canter. I didn't ask for it, but decided to stick with it and not dash his hopes that he was doing the right thing. It was a nice canter about a lap and a half around the arena. Good boy.
Tired pony post-ride.

We did a bit more trot, and what was this? Was he trying to reach down and forward? He was probably rooting down, but I'll take it.

I was happy with ride #2 of the year. It feels like he's trying to figure out where to put his head and I'm happy that he's figuring out that he can go forward and down with it. Now we just need to get some consistent relaxation!

Saturday, 5 January 2019

What Does It Mean?

There's something odd about this picture. Can you see it? (Hint - it's not that it's a crappy picture with the top part of the horse cut off.)

Compare it to these photos of Phantom eating:

Do you see it now?

In case you haven't seen it, here it is:

Phantom always adopts a right foot forward stance when she eats. Like, always.

But for some reason, on Thursday, after getting her shoes reset, she ate her food with her front legs mostly square.

Why?????? I want to know!!

Was it because she had just had her feet trimmed and shoes reset? If so, what was done differently by her normal farrier?

Is it because she's sore somewhere in her body (I know she needs her hocks injected, and she was a bit uncomfortable about holding her right hind up for the farrier). Her front right had blown up a bit again because of that itty bitty cut from last week, but she wasn't apparently sore on it.

Or am I just being overly paranoid and totally overthinking the fact that on one particular day she changed her stance for the 5 minutes it took to eat her dinner?

Nope. That can't be it.

Something is definitely wrong with my horse.

Her normal, non-eating stance is square up front. 

Friday, 4 January 2019

Equestrian Blogger Gift Exchange 2018

I have been remiss in posting what my secret Santa from the Equestrian Blogger Gift Exchange. I put up a short note on Christmas Eve saying that it had arrived that day but it may have been missed. My apologies to my Santa!

I didn't give my Santa much help on choosing a present - I put down "something fun" when I filled in the form. So what did Santa bring me?

Santa, aka Tori from Boss Mare Eventing, sent me two pairs of fun coloured boot socks- bright pink and purple with stars. There was also a tube of Cowboy Magic Detangler and Shine - I have a friend who loves this stuff, so I'm excited to try it in the tails of my gray horses. And I'm guessing Tori got to go to the WEG last fall, as she wrapped everything up in a tote bag from the Games! I love fabric tote bags and use them for everything, so this will get plenty of use (and abuse).

Thank you so much Tori, and again my apologies for not posting this sooner! (How are we already 8 days post Christmas??)

And also thank you to Tracy at the Printable Pony for organizing everything. I have a feeling it's a lot of work to do at a busy time of the year!

Thursday, 3 January 2019

The Sun Came Out

That temperature swing hit us on Wednesday, and it got up to a glorious +7 degrees Celsius. That's almost t-shirt weather in Alberta!

Well, maybe not t-shirt weather. But it is tail washing weather! Especially when you have 2 white tails to deal with.

Phantom's tail wasn't actually too bad. It has been up in it's Vetrap and duct tape cocoon for about 8 weeks (whoops) and needed to be changed, so I figured I might as well take the opportunity to clean it. There was a bit of poop above the wrap that I wanted to clean before rewrapping it, but otherwise I was pleasantly surprised by how clean it was.

Cisco's tail has been down all winter. Since he is a pooping machine (especially when at all nervous or worried) it wasn't overly clean. I mean, it wasn't like it was caught up in his leg straps and acting like a shelf and holding his frozen balls of poo on it (which is gross and the reason why Phantom now gets her tail put up every winter). But it definitely was more brown than whatever colour it should be.

He was a turd about getting it washed. He was tied up in the horse murdering stall (or as I call it, the washrack), and could not stand still. At all. I was using buckets to clean his tail because I didn't want to get more than his tail wet. Somehow I didn't end up with water spilled all over me, though I've no idea how I managed to dodge that.

It was a quick washing of just the bottom bit, which was the poopiest bit. Not perfectly clean, but much better than it was.

This might be the last chance to wash tails until April, so I put his tail up too. I forgot to bring out the duct tape that I bought for him - something manly instead of all the pink patterns I have for Phantom. He got boring blue.
And yes Cisco, it does make your butt look big.
The ponies also got to spend some time outside nekkid in the sun. I turned Phantom out after our ride without her blanket. She cantered away from the gate to the other side of her paddock, stopped, dropped and rolled. She was obviously happy to be free of clothing.

Both horses also got ridden. I spent almost 7 hours at the barn, got home around 9 pm and was in bed typing this post by 10 pm. Very tired.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

I Actually Did Ride!


The weather gods relented, my work schedule permitted it, and I even had a sound horse! What are the odds?

I actually made it out to the barn on New Years Eve. I'm such a party girl, dressed up in long johns and a smelly winter coat. I actually even managed to stay up until after midnight, which hasn't happened the last couple of years since I've ended up sick over the holiday.

The horses got to party and go for a spin in the hopes that I wouldn't die if I rode them the next day.
Cisco's "I was good give me another cookie" face

I got out to the barn later than hoped on New Years Day. After making lunch in my Instant Pot (which I partially screwed up but it was still edible) I had to set up my new Harmony remote for my TV. That took longer than I expected because I couldn't remember my user information from my old remote, and I wanted to copy the settings instead of starting all over. But eventually I got it figured out and drove out to the barn.

When I arrived someone was just starting, and she had a couple of lessons to teach. Perfect! Someone would be around while I rode Cisco for the first time in two months. I rushed out and dragged him into the barn.

Which quickly filled up with another 4 horses getting tacked up. Yay. There would be lots of people around while I rode Cisco.
I only took one horse picture today, so enjoy some pictures of the new barn kittens.

I tacked him up with his new Total Saddle Fit Stretchtec girth for the first time. Which only barely fit. Ruh-roh. Either his regular Prolite girth measures way bigger than it's stamped, or someone got extra fluffy. Or a combination of the two. I managed to get it onto the first holes in the barn, then up another three holes before getting on. As long as he doesn't get any fatter we can hopefully make it work. If not, it might be his skinny belt for the summer.

Since I didn't want to die on the first day of the year, I popped Cisco on the lunge line first. He was totally boring and relaxed. He twirled for just long enough to show that he remembered how to wear tack and then I prepped him to get on.

And after not being ridden for two months, there is nothing of note to write about the ride. 

He stood perfectly still when I got on. He walked on a long(ish) rein. He steered. He trotted at a normal speed. He didn't zoom off when the snow went whoosh off the arena roof. And then he stood in the scary end and mostly chillaxed.
The barn is a kitten playground.

I kept the ride pretty short. I was only on for about 25 minutes, and did less than 5 minutes of trot, though we did a bunch of walk/trot transitions. There was a beginner lesson starting and the footing is really dry and it was getting dusty, so I decided short and sweet was the way to go.

I'm not complaining about a boring ride. That's how most training rides should go.

I should be able to get another day of riding in before the weather changes again. It's not supposed to get really cold, just cold enough to make me feel guilty if I don't head out. Hopefully the weather forecasters don't get it too wrong.

Monday, 31 December 2018

One Day I'll Ride

I promise that I'll have a post where I actually ride my horse one day soon. I had great plans for this week. Unfortunately, weather has been a bit of a hindrance.

A week ago Friday I dashed out to the barn after work to bundle the horses up in warmer blankets as the temperature was taking a plunge the next day. My drive home from work was fine. The promised winds picked up while I was getting changed. When I turned onto the secondary highway on my way to the barn, the wind was blowing the snow straight across the road from the open fields, and visibility sucked. It sucked so bad that there were 8 vehicles in the ditch on the 8km stretch of highway - three tractor trailers, one truck and trailer, and four cars. When I arrived at the barn, I was far more concerned about the snow that was piling up on the road to the barn, so I just dashed in, dragged each horse inside to swap their blanket, and chucked them back out again. Note that they were both perfectly happy standing outside in the snow and wind and probably could have cared less about the fact that I faced danger to make sure that they were toasty.
Santa came early!

Then I had three days off over Christmas. I totally vegged the first day - I think it was the first day in almost two months that I nowhere I had to be and nothing I had to do.

I got out to the barn on Christmas Eve to stuff the ponies with their stocking treats: candy corn, mints, teddy grahams and ginger snaps. Santa did good on picking the treats this year, unlike last years selections of fruits.
Moar candy corn!!

Both horses also got a chance to go for a spin in the arena, which they both needed. Especially Phantom, who set off in a lovely canter, and then three strides later tucked her butt under her and turned on the turbo boosters. I had to stop her earlier than she would have liked because I'm worried she'll tie up again - there was still lots of energy in there.
I was a terrible horse mom and didn't notice Phantom's fat leg from an itty bitty cut when I put on her bell boots before playing in the arena. I guess the fat leg explains the lameness she started out with. (The line you see is dripped blood. The actual poke is higher up and wee, though she acted like her leg was broken when I touched it.)

Christmas Day was a wash since I had to do the family thing. So boring.
Christmas Eve dinner was lobster claws, baked potato and Red Lobster biscuits.

I had great plans to ride on Wednesday after work. The weather forecasters got the forecast wrong - it was -17 C on my way home from work, and since it's always a few degrees colder at the barn, my car read -22 C out there. Far too cold to ride. I just fed them and checked on Phantom's fat leg from Monday (which was better and of no concern).
So much fluff.

The weather was supposed to be better this weekend, but again, the forecasters were wrong. We got way more snow than we were supposed to on Saturday, so roads sucked. It didn't warm up at all on Sunday, and it was windy -  it actually cooled off through the day, so the afternoon was -16 C with a windchill of -25 C. That's Netflix weather.
New barn kittens!

And now the weather is supposed to do the crazy prairie swing with a forecast of +2 for Tuesday. That's a swing of 22 degrees Celsius over a 36 hour period (for you US peeps, that the equivalent of going from -4 to 32 above). I actually have Tuesday and Wednesday off, so I really hope the forecasters are right this time! It might actually be tail washing weather.

I have no plans for New Year's Eve (except eating the rest of the lobster) so I'm hoping to get out this evening to let them loose again so that I can ride both of them on Tuesday and Wednesday. Fingers crossed that the forecast doesn't change!

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!

I hope everyone has a great day with friends or family and lots of great food!
Wondering where Santa was keeping the pony I wanted.

And to my Secret Santa from the Equestrian Blogger Gift Exchange - I picked my parcel up at the post office this morning! Santa delivered right on time! I'm putting it under the tree to open on the big day since there usually isn't too much with my name on it under there.

Friday, 21 December 2018

Empty Stockings

The stockings were hung on the tack box with care, in the hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

I Rode!

I finally got back on the horse!

Work is starting to wind down - the end is finally in sight. Like this weekend in sight. Wednesday was my day off, I had nothing planned (except for a 90 minute massage in the afternoon), and I have been getting 8ish hours of sleep most nights, so everything aligned to allow me to hop on Phantom in the morning.

It was a terribly not exciting ride. Not a bad thing when she hasn't been ridden in 7 weeks! Especially when there was another horse in the arena who was on her second ride of rehab and kept throwing in some extravagant airs above the ground. Just made me really appreciate my happy to walk on a loose rein horse.
My favourite sight.

Since Phantom has known respiratory issues and a history of tying up in the winter months, I always start her back really slowly. I generally use some type of interval training program like I've done in the past when doing suspensory rehab on my old gelding. We're starting pretty well at the beginning - 1 minute of trotting, 2 minutes of walking, repeated 5 times. My Garmin running watch is great for this stuff.
Interval training makes for a very satisfying symmetrical graph.

She didn't feel as stiff as I thought she might. And after the initial trot, there was definitely some extra pep in her step. She was looking for an excuse to get silly but was a very good girl and kept herself contained.

I felt only mildly loose and floppy. I can't tell if I'm sore in the evening due to riding or because of the whole body massage I had after I rode. Since I hurt everywhere, I'm thinking it's because of the massage.

The weather changes for the worst this weekend so I might have to bundle myself up to get back in the saddle next week.