Sunday, 10 January 2021

New Place to Shop?

 Over Christmas, I was hoping to find a new winter coat to replace my current barn winter coat that is about 10 years old and starting to fall apart. There were lots of sales, but I have a list of things that I want in a coat and I wasn't able to find anything I was willing to pay for. 

In my search, I came across a website called I figured it was the website for the national sporting organization, and that since jumping is a sport in decathlon it made sense that it sold equestrian stuff.

However, I was wrong. Riding is not a sport in decathlon - it's in modern Pentathlon. Also, Decathlon is a sporting goods store.

Decathlon is a French company that is the largest retailer of sporting goods in the world, selling in 57 different countries. In Canada they have physical stores in Ontario and Quebec, in the US there are only a couple of stores in California. They sell stuff for something like 62 different sports, all under their own branding. No name brands. Thus, their prices are really good. 

They sell all kinds of horse things sold under their house brand Fouganza. Most of the horse care/tack items seem to be introductory level quality, so I don't know that I would buy much of it. But some of their clothing seems to be very reasonably priced and worth looking at. 

This leather halter looks cute and it's only $55!

I bit the bullet and ordered a pair of winter riding breeches. I've been looking for some to add to my rotation other than the Kerrit's full seats that I regularly wear, but I haven't found anything I've been willing to pay for. 

Decathlon had a few options at really good prices starting at $30 CDN. I ended up ordering this pair that has a silicone full seat and costs only $60. They even have a cell phone pocket, though I'm not optimistic that it will fit my cased Galaxy 10+.

I was going to order a different pair, that have a weatherproof finish to them that gives them a leather look but they didn't have my size. Having all sizes in-stock seems like it might be an issue as many of the items I looked at were only available in very small or very large sizes.

If the winter breeches work out, I might try these breeches for summer.

I did a search before ordering to see if I could find reviews and they were generally all positive saying that the quality is much better than the price reflects. 

There are a lot of things I wouldn't order from there - the sizing charts are horrible with little information of use and the descriptions on many items leave much to be desired. Returns are free if you return to a store but if you have to ship it back you would have to pay for shipping. 

I don't know that I would buy a $35 helmet, but I could see the appeal to parents of kids who are just starting and don't know if it will stick. It's not ASTM approved - it has an EN rating  (European) so it appears to still be legal to use in Canadian competitions.

For basic clothing staples however, it is worth a look.

I'll post a review when I receive the breeches. Fingers crossed that they are decent!

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

Wordless Wednesday - BFF's

 Phantom and Cisco have been living in the same paddock together for the last year or so. They've lived together on many other occasions, so they know each other well. And most importantly, Cisco knows that Phantom is the boss.

Also in their current paddock are two other horses - a Fjord (probably a cross) named Pete (Petey, Peter) and a paint mare named Lucy.

Pete has been enamored of Phantom ever since their first meeting. It took her a while to warm up to him, but now they are always close to each other. 

Pete and Cisco have been roommates the longest of everyone in the paddock, so they also know each other well. Lucy is the newest to the group as of last spring, and she is definitely at the bottom of the herd. She tends to keep to herself because Pete will likely be mean to her, especially if Phantom is around. 

My two have always been excited to see me and try to be the first horse to be brought in. Lately, Pete has also been excited to see me. I don't often give treats in the paddock so I couldn't figure out why. It turns out that the lady who started riding Lucy this fall has been a bit generous with the treats when she goes out. So now everyone is a bit treat happy.

Thus, when I put my horses out, I end up with three beggars at the gate.


Saturday, 2 January 2021

New Year Who Dis?

 Welcome to 2021!

Cisco modeled his tiny Christmas hat.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Year's. Mine was quiet and relaxing. My province is in a partial lockdown - there is no social gathering allowed, inside or outside. Because I live alone I was allowed to visit one household over the holidays so I went to my parent's house, but I didn't have to visit with anyone else. It was lovely. Totally stress-free. 

Phantom also modeled, but she was being the high-maintenance type of model.

I went out to the barn on Christmas afternoon and gave the ponies their Christmas treats - Oatmeal Creme Pies. It was their first time tasting them - ooh, they liked them.

Cisco - "yeah, that'll do".

Phantom was all "what is this magic in my mouth and where is the next one?".

I was hoping to go for a Christmas day ride but I got out to the barn a bit later than planned because I had to sit in front of the computer for 1pm. Celeris was selling 25 discount codes for their custom boots and I wanted one. 

Despite some screw-ups in placing my order (put it in my cart, went to the payment page, saw the line to enter a discount code, thought "do I need to put in a discount code to get the discount code?", went back to read the directions again, nope, didn't need a discount code, managed to put a second deposit into my cart so had to delete one before submitting my payment) I got one of the 25% off codes. Apparently, they sold out in something like 47 seconds so I was happy that I got the 25% and not the bigger discount or free boots that went to the first three people to get their payments in. Now I've committed to fancy boots!

The ponies have been getting some saddle time over the last couple of weeks. Cisco's first ride after the break was a gong show - he spooked (big spooks) every time a pigeon farted in the arena. Those pigeons must have been eating beans because there were a lot of spooks. He totally redeemed himself on the next ride though so he gets to stay.

Phantom felt great on her first ride - in both the amount of energy she had and in how she moved. I hadn't given her any Previcox as I wanted to see what she felt like without it. The second ride didn't feel quite as good but not too bad once her trot warmed up. We're not doing much - lots of walking and short trots at the moment. We'll work our way back up slowly with her history of tying up at this time of year. 

The weather is supposed to be decent over the next couple of weeks - by which I mean cold, not freezing cold. I'm going to try my best to get out lots to get some rides in before the inevitable deep freeze sets in. It's winter in Alberta, it has to happen!

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

Teaching Tuesday - ECVM

 Ever heard of ECVM? 

Me either.

But I watched a fascinating presentation on it.

ECVM is Equine Complex Verterbra Malformation. It's a malformation of C6 and C7 of the horse's cervical spine that causes asymmetries in the ribs, muscles, and can affect some major nerves. 

It appears to be genetic/hereditary. And it's showing up in many breeds because it seems to be very prevalent in Thoroughbreds. 

If you are interested in equine biomechanics or physiology I would totally recommend watching this video. It's about two hours long but I was enthralled the whole time. 

Also - good luck not looking for symptoms in a horse you know (or have known)!

Thursday, 3 December 2020

Wordless Wednesday - Sunrise

 I went out to the barn yesterday morning after leaving work at 7am. There was a beautiful sunrise, which I thought would make a lovely backdrop for some pics of the ponies. 

Well, at least the sky was pretty.

Friday, 27 November 2020

Sure Feet

 The ponies got their Christmas present last night. 

One problem with being home so much with nothing to do in the middle of the night on my one night a week off is that I spend way too much time watching Youtube. Thus, I ended up ordering a couple sets of Sure Foot pads.

It's something that I've been interested in for a while. The idea is that the horses stand on the pads, which are available in different levels of firmness and flat or slanted, and that they receive some kind of benefit from it. It could be fascial release, or working their intrinsic balance muscles as a human would if standing on a bosu ball or balance board, or by having their feet stimulated because the pads press up into their feet, which allows them to feel the ground (or something like that). It's not fully understood how it works on the horse but supposedly some benefits can often been seen very quickly.

Shiny and new. That didn't last for long.

I ordered the firm flat pads and hard slants, which are considered to be a good place to start. There is a practitioner in my area who sells the pads but she only had one of the sets I was looking for available, so I ended up ordered them online through the TTouch website. There was something else on their site that I wanted so I wasn't too put out by having to order online. Full props to their service - I ordered the pads at about 9am, and by noon I had my shipping notice. 

On the day that the pads were due to arrive I started to think about my visit to the barn and how I would use them and realized that Phantom had had borium added to her shoes the day before. D'oh! I didn't want that borium to rip up my new (expensive) pads. After an inquiry on a Facebook page I made "blankets" out of craft foam and gorilla tape to protect the pads.  Seemed to work and was pretty cheap.

How did the horses respond?


I wasn't sure how Cisco would take to them. The first couple of times I placed his front foot on the pad he stepped off pretty quickly without really putting his full weight on it. On the third attempt, he stepped down, and stayed there for a minute or so. He seemed a bit surprised and really inspected the pad with his nose after stepping off. When I added the second front pad he immediately stepped down on it. 

Cisco is not a horse who blatantly shows releases so I didn't really see any big signs of it. There was lots of looking back at his sides, with kind of a "what is going on back there?" look. 

What did indicate that he liked the pads was that when we went for a walk after he stepped on the pads he very deliberately stopped when we got back to the pads, which he did more than once. I thought that was interesting.

I tried the slants on his back feet, but he was a little more unsure about them. He stepped onto the left hind once, but after that would only put his toe on it. We'll work on that, and play with what pad I try back there. 

I was pretty sure that Phantom would have no issue with standing on the pads, and sure enough, within a few short minutes I had her standing on the flat pads in front and the slants behind. 

Within a few seconds of standing on all four pads, Phantom let out four huge yawns, and another yawn a few seconds later. A huge release. I think I saw a couple of small sways in her body also. 

She didn't really want to stand on the pads for too long - maybe a minute and half before getting off. And I kind of got the impression that after that attempt with the big release she was done with them. The fact that she was eagerly anticipating dinner probably didn't help. 

I can't say that I noticed a difference in how the horses physically moved after standing on the pads, but we were just in the aisle of the barn so it was hard to tell. Cisco walked with his head a bit lower and Phantom was walking out nicely with her front legs but I can't say that it was because of the pads. However, they definitely didn't dislike them. 

I can't wait to try them while under saddle. It will be interesting to see if I feel a difference in how the horse feels. I know how much myofascial release (aka the foam roller) works for me, hopefully these do something similar for the ponies. 

Monday, 9 November 2020

The Last Outside Ride of the Year

 I started working night shifts last week. This means that for the next 7 or so weeks the ponies will mostly be on vacation. When I work nights I just find it too hard to ride regularly enough to get anything out of the ride, so I don't even bother. The kids are happy to stand in front of a round bale and get fat and furry.

Last weekend though (the 4th), the weather was too nice not to take advantage of it. 

We went from stupid cold over the previous weekend to really nice mid-teens this weekend. If you were in the sun, it would have been short-sleeve weather. Perfect for riding outside weather. 

I generally find it hard to get out of bed when I wake up in the middle of the afternoon, but on this day I looked at the temperature outside and just about hopped out of bed and into breeches. The clocks had changed that night and I wasn't sure how long I would have daylight to be able to do anything outside.

Cisco was my willing victim for the day. I didn't have any goals for the ride, just to get on a go for a walk. He was perfect. 

It was just a short ride around the yard. The gravel road was recently redone and Cisco's not comfortable walking on the gravel. And I didn't want to try the empty farmer's field across from the barn because I was worried that the furrows would be somewhat frozen and risk my horse twisting a leg. 

But it didn't matter. 

I timed it perfectly and finished my ride as the sun was on its way down in the sky. Another half hour and it would have been mostly dark.

This past weekend, the weather changed yet again, and we got a 10" dump of snow. Winter is here!

Wednesday, 4 November 2020


I sold my dressage saddle!

I should do the responsible adult thing and use the money to pay down bills. Or I could do the horse responsible thing and put the money aside and take a bunch of lessons next year.

But no. I'm going to do the horse frivolous thing. And I'm gonna get me some custom boots!

I've been looking for tall boots for years. But I can't find anything to fit me. Being a slightly fluffy vertically-challenged person, everything is too tall and too narrow. And the options that I might want to give a shot aren't available locally and I don't want to take a risk on something I'd likely have to purchase internationally and wouldn't easily have quick re-sale value. 

I'm also at the point in my life where I don't want boring black and am happy to pay extra to make it happen. Thus, custom it is!

There's a 98% chance that I'm going to go with Celeris. I've loved the Bia boots ever since I first saw them. 

So beautiful!

What I don't know is how many pairs I'm going to get!

Through to the end of the year, they have a BOGO 1/2 off deal.  After Christmas they've already announced that they will be having a 10% off sale, or pay regular for a pair of tall boots and get a free pair of short boots. So I don't know what I'm going to do!

I could be talked into these Polo boots instead...

If I go with the BOGO deal, it would make sense to winterize the second pair and get the foot with sheepskin lining. You know, since it's winter for 1/2 a year where I live.

But, to use this deal, I would have to buy a boot bag and a belt (you also have to buy spur straps but I was already planning on getting those). That would add about $150 to the cost and put the overall price a few hundred over what I got for my saddle. 

The chance of croc skin boots is extremely high. But not brown. 

In January, there are a couple of different deals that they've announced. Either 10% off a pair of tall boots, or get a short pair of boots free with the purchase of tall boots. 

If I do the free short boot option, then I would get the short boots with the sheepskin. But I would need some new half chaps as mine are starting to wear out (some holes in the elastic panel and I need a zipper replaced). If I went with matching half chaps, the price is pretty close to the same as the BOGO deal. 

I luvs this petrol blue. But I'll save it for my third pair.

Or, I just get one pair at 10% off. The smarter option. You know, as smart as buying expensive boots to tromp around in mud and poo gets. And then have some money left for lessons. I mean, not much, probably only a couple of lessons. 

I've made the really difficult decisions - the colour options. Well, provided I don't look at any more pictures. It wouldn't take much to get me to change to purple!

I'm going to book a Skype call with them to get some quotes and the final pricing and then I will have to make a decision. Feel free to enable me as to why I should definitely get two pairs!

Friday, 30 October 2020

I'm the Wanker

 Well. it's been a hot minute since I've posted!

I've been working shifts that are all over the place - super early, mid-day, or late, with not much regularity to it, so I've just been too tired to type anything up. But I've been pretty good about getting onto the ponies and getting some rides in. 

I did manage to write something though - I sent an email of a recent trailering practice to the ladies of the Buck Off Banter podcast. They decided that my story was wankerish enough for them and I was the featured wanker of last week's episode. 

The sweaty horse after the trailer ride and his jaunt in the dark.

My mother had a good laugh at the story in which she was featured, although she was a little disappointed that her scabby knee was only good for a ribbon.

Here's a link to the episode!

Thursday, 1 October 2020

New Things!

 I don't know why, but the end of September through most of October always seems to get crazy busy. Such is the case this year.

I got a few rides in last week. Nothing exciting happened.

This week isn't looking so good. 

But when I get back in the saddle next week, I have some new things to use. 

First - I bought a new helmet on International Helmet Awareness day a couple of weeks ago. My Troxel Intrepid schooling helmet was 5 years old so I was looking to replace it. I'd like to get a Mips helmet, but I haven't found one yet that fits me. The ones that are most likely to fit are the Charles Owen and OneK versions, but no one has them locally so that I can try them on, and in Canada, helmets are final sales, so I'm not ordering one if I haven't tried it on.

The new melon lid.

I decided on the Troxel Avalon with the Rose Gold accents. My size wasn't in stock so I had to order it but I was able to try on the plain black version. The rose gold isn't super shiny and in some lights has a bit of a copper-ish tone to it, which I'm still fine with. 

While I was waiting for my horses to eat their dinner in the barn I made the adjustments to the harness and wore the helmet for a few minutes and had compliments from everyone in the barn. So I guess it was a good decision!

Also to arrive that day were my new Franklin Balls. I've been using a set of Franklin-ish balls while I walk at the beginning of my rides on occasion and have really been impressed with how well it gets my hips to open up. I'd like to work my way up to trying it at a sitting trot and canter, thus I decided to buy the real thing. 

I bought the smooth ball set (the orange ones) and the mini roll (the blue peanut shaped one). These seemed to the two that were most recommended in all the videos and articles that I had read about them. I figure that the peanut shaped one will be much easier to keep under my butt at the trot and canter and I won't keep having to get off to pick up a single ball that shot out from my ass. I'll make sure I video my first attempts!

The last new thing is one that I thankfully didn't have to pay for - a new tow vehicle! I borrow my dad's truck when I want to pull the trailer (I don't want a truck as my daily driver as I drive far too much in a week and don't want to pay for all that gas I'd be using) and he decided to get a new one. His old one was fine for pulling one horse, but I didn't like how it felt when pulling two, so I only did it a couple of times for short distances on quiet roads. The new truck has plenty of power to pull the trailer when loaded up. 

My nervous sweater of a horse.

Thus, I now have no excuse about getting Cisco comfortable with trailering. I've taken the kids for a road trip once with the new rig so far - Cisco loaded like a rock star, but he still came off the trailer all sweaty. He didn't have sweat dripping down his legs this time, so, improvement??

Thursday, 17 September 2020

A Daily Dose

 Phantom had her hocks injected about 4 weeks ago at a vet exam where I said I suspected it was either her hocks that were sore and she was overloading her front end, or she was sore everywhere.

She definitely looked better after the vet appointment. Much less stompy on her front end. But she still didn't feel as good as I had hoped she would. 

I've let her loose in the arena a couple of times recently to get rid of some energy and I really wasn't happy with how she looked. To me, it still looked like she was trying to unload her hind end, and there were a few transitions from canter to trot that looked like they stung (specifically on the left hind).

While waiting for Phantom's Ventipulmin to kick in I dumped my grooming kit out to clean out the hair. I forgot there was an open pack of elastics in there. Oops.

So this weekend I started her on some Previcox. I had gotten some at the vet appointment to have and see if it helped her over the colder months in the winter when she always seems to be stiffer.

Two days of Previcox and I rode on the third - Phantom felt fantastic. Probably the best she's felt in the last couple of years.

We had easy bend in both directions and she wasn't falling onto her left shoulder through turns. I braced for the downward canter/trot transition expecting it to be ugly but she stepped right underneath herself with her left hind.

I also had a whole lotta sassy speed to deal with. Girlfriend was feeling good!

It might not look like it but this is her sassy walk.

I didn't do too much - she hasn't "worked" in a while and I don't want to tempt fate with her ending up sore somewhere else. Plus she just rides up and gets herself all wound up as I continue riding. With her, it's better to do some short rides until she's been ridden down enough to keep her brain from spinning. 

So it looks like this might be the way we are going to go with her. Last week my vet had sent an email to follow-up with how Phantom is doing after her appointment so I finally replied back with how she felt on Previcox. I asked if I should be spending money to try to fully investigate where she feels sore (which could just be peeling back layers of an onion) or, if a daily dose of Previcox works, do we just go with it? That's what my inclination would be, especially knowing how much my horse dislikes being uncomfortable. I really don't want to have to inject all the things on her body.

My homemade horse cookies work great as pill pockets. Break it in half, and it's soft enough inside to squish the pill in there and then squish the two halves back together to feed. I don't know if Phantom realized there was a pill in there - or she didn't care because it was encased in pony crack!

Phantom's "moar pony crack cookies" face. (This is old - we don't have snow yet!)

Hopefully, this continues past the first ride. It's always hard to tell when there is a bit of extra fuel injection propelling them forward!

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Baby Got Buck

 In Cisco's first three years under saddle, all legs stayed in the appropriate position relative to the ground. Until last night, that is.

The arena had a line of poles across it to split it into two sections for the lessons that were happening when I first got on. By the time I got to cantering Ciso, they were done and I saw an exercise to do using said poles. Basically, we'd canter a circle over the furthest pole at about 30 meters, then the next pole at about 20 meters, then the middle pole at about 15 meters.

To the right - our mutually better direction - it all went very well. I saw all our distances and the turns weren't too bad. 

He's not suddenly a yellow horse - it was the sun!

And then we went left.

Left lead canter is Cisco's weaker side. If he finds something difficult, he just kind of goes "ooh, this is hard" and just gives up and breaks to trot instead of pushing through it. I'm sure that the fact that I don't ride as well this direction has absolutely nothing to do with this problem.

For this particular ride, I was carrying a short jump crop instead of my normal dressage whip as I was hoping to do some 2 point work. I also kept losing my left stirrup - I think my girth may have needed to go up a hole so it was slipping a bit to the right. For whatever reason, I wasn't feeling as secure in the saddle as I usually do. I was also not terribly energetic after lazing around at home for the first two days of my vacation and not eating very well.

We made the first pole of the exercise without issue - a little long maybe, but not too bad. Continued around the circle back to the track and Cisco gave up and dropped back to trot. Grr. 

I regrouped and started again. And again he put on the breaks at the same spot. More grr. 

Came around one more time. I was ready for a fight this time.

He dropped back to trot. I asked nicely to keep going. He ignored me. I dug in both of my spurs and growled at him. And he bucked. Three times. 

I ride in the smallest spurs known to man. He was not abused.

I've long suspected that there's a buck in there. There's been a couple of times that I've gotten after him and his hind end felt a bit lighter, but he's never actually done it. I've also wondered how big a buck he would have, as I've seen some pretty good bronc bucks when he's loose. His leaping through the air kind of bucks are also pretty impressive.

Thankfully, my reins were short enough that he didn't get his head down, so his bucks really weren't all that big. They didn't knock me out of position at all. It just felt like he really rounded his back up under my seat.

Cisco got hauled up, a single spank, and we set off to do the exercise again. Which he completed without stopping. Apparently we both got our point across.

After we finished the canter I realized that my leg was sore again. I don't know if having to use my sticky butt grip caused the pain or not. So I didn't get to really push the canter issue and try again. 

The kittens are getting bigger and more active. No less cute thankfully!

I had taken my Pixio out with me but I didn't set it up because the arena was a bit of a gong show when I had entered it. So no video evidence dammit!