Tuesday 26 February 2019

Got My Craft On (Again)

You are probably tired of reading this, but again, it's too damn cold to ride. I didn't leave the house on Sunday, and only went out to the barn on Monday night because I had to see if Cisco would fit into a 72" Horseware blanket I found on a great sale (he didn't).

My fingers were frozen while bringing both horses in and I had forgotten to grab my neck warmer so I couldn't feel my face, and the overhead door to bring horses in and out of the barn wasn't working. It wasn't supposed to be that cold out, only -20, but man, it felt way colder. When I left the barn, within a mile my car registered -31, which was a full 10 degrees colder than it registered when I got home in the city.

But since I was out, the horses got a chance to move around in the arena. Phantom must be coming into heat because she peed in the barn aisle, which she almost never does, and had absolutely no patience for Cisco. Full on PMS rage towards him. Mind you, I'm pretty sure he deserved most of it.

While I was home all day Sunday I started a couple of crafty things. I didn't work on Tuesday until later in the day so I finished it all off in the morning while trying to dodge fresh piles of cat puke since my kitty apparently ate something that didn't agree with him.

I've taken a table at the spring tack sale in a couple of weeks. I'm mostly going to be taking tack but I'm going to share a craft table with a friend. So I did up a couple more of these make-up bags.

This one is going into my drawer at work. Not that I expect it to stop anyone. (Which isn't an issue really, I just need to tidy my drawer.)

This was inspired by something I saw on someone else's blog recently. I'm broke, so I used shirts I already own. If you look closely you can probably see the stain right underneath the logo.

I think I really like this. The horse is in a pearlized vinyl that changes colours in different lights. The lettering was supposed to be slightly to the left to start under the front foot - oops. Those who ride with me can expect to see this logo all over my riding clothes going forward. Mostly in glitter.

If this cold continues I might end up with a whole new wardrobe!

Monday 25 February 2019

Noise-Cancelling Headphones?

One problem with this never-ending cold is the amount of time I end up spending on the internet during my evenings at home.

Which means too much time spent over-thinking possibilities. Also, trying not to buy shit I don't need.

My favourite past-time is combining the two.

Cisco is quite reactive to sudden noises. Sudden movements too, but I think he gets over those sooner. Creaking and flapping of the arena leave him very concerned for long periods of time afterward. Because of this, he's not terribly chill in the arena, which I would like to change.
Lemieux Acoustic Ears - about $80 CDN

In perusing the interweb while trying to not have to get out of bed on Sunday morning, I discovered sound-reducing fly veils. Which got me wondering.

I'm not a gimmick person, and I dislike shortcuts. But if something simple like being able to muffle some sounds on windy days helps Cisco not lose his brain, I can get behind it.
Schockemohle Silent Fly Veil - about $90 CDN

I don't want to use poms or earplugs - I'm far too short to try putting those in. So fly veils would be the way to go.
Equiline Soundless Ear Net - about $120 CDN

Does anyone have any experience with this type of fly veil? Reviews seem to be pretty good - they don't completely muffle all sound, but do seem to make a difference.

Thursday 21 February 2019

She Needs Drugs

We hit a glorious -4 C on Tuesday. So I suited up in my riding gear and went out to the barn to ride after dinner.

Good thing I still put my long johns on as it was pretty chilly by the time I got out there.

I decided that Phantom was the priority for the night. I hadn't ridden her since early January, and I wanted to see what her respiration was going to be like. I hadn't given her any of the Ventipulmin yet from the vet visit almost three weeks ago since the plan was to give it to her before I ride, and well, she wasn't getting ridden.

The last couple of times that I had put her in the arena to run around her breathing seemed pretty good. No issues with recovery. I decided to try the ride without the medication. I wasn't going to be doing much - mostly walking with some short trot sets.
I really need to do something with her mane. Like brush it.
The good news is that she felt pretty good in her body. And she had lots of energy and wanted to do way more than I was willing to let her do.

The bad news is that I should have given her the medication before riding.

She was puffy and doing the short shallow breaths after I got off. Her recovery was not very good, considering how little we had done.

I gave her some Ventipulmin post-ride. I guess I will have to use it for the next while, pre-ride.

Wednesday 20 February 2019

Bad Behaviour

It's a miracle!

Monday was the first day in about 2 1/2 weeks that we did not have an extreme cold warning in effect. I mean, it's still cold, just not extremely cold.

Still too cold to ride that night though.

I zipped out in the evening to put Cisco's hood back on. The hood that he had been turned out with when I was out on Wednesday, but had disappeared by Sunday.

Something's missing.....
It was found in his field. I didn't see any new damage to it, but the holes I had patched with a new adhesive last week got reopened. So I decided to take it to Pony Grandma and get her to fix it all up.

I later discovered that he did break it.

There should be two Velcro straps there! Not one!

Hopefully I can find it during the day on Tuesday or Wednesday when I'm out and we can get it reattached. I can't make it too easy for his neighbours over the fence to remove it.

I put Phantom and Cisco in the arena together to have some play time in the hopes I would be able to hop on on Tuesday. They did their normal routine - Cisco tries to get Phantom to play by biting her on the bum, she puts up with it for a while then gets pissed off and yells at him, he looks chagrined for about 2.4 seconds before biting her bum again. Like when you and your little brother are in the back seat of the car and he keeps poking you while you try to ignore him. So annoying.

When I let them loose I kind of missed something - I forgot to make sure all the gates were shut. I started to check them all, but got distracted by something and forgot to check the large gate in the far corner of the arena. I usually have to beat Phantom to the gates because she will check every one of them to see if it's her lucky day and I missed one and she gets to go exploring. Again.

(On a side note - she fits through the glass human doors. I didn't think she would, but she knew she was good.)

So on this night, sure enough, Phantom realized the gate was open at about the same time I did. I was halfway down the arena at this point, so she was easily able to escape.

Cisco was following her but stopped dead at the gate with a look of panic on his face. I swear he looked back at me like "Mom! Mom! Phantom's going where she's not allowed to go!"

Phantom's on the wrong side of the closed gate where the horse murderers live. Cisco wasn't going there. 
Of course, by the time I got to the gate he had decided to follow his sister. I quickly looked down at the opposite end to check on the glass doors - still closed. I wasn't too panicked that they could get into too much trouble, especially after they tried to go across a section that has some big gravel in it that didn't feel good under their toes. They turned around and came back towards the opening that they had escaped through.

Trotting past me because he knew he was in trouble!
Eventually, I got them both back into the fenced in part of the arena. Phantom had to try her luck with the gate once more. By this time I got smart and made sure they were all securely latched shut.

Phantom has a thing about opening gates (and doors) herself. When she was at her previous owner's place, the paddock that had the automatic waterer in it had a skinny gate into it. The gate would be left open and unlocked, but sometimes it would swing shut. The horses all learned to push the gate open when they wanted to go into the paddock with the waterer. So now Phantom loves to push open gates and doors herself. It's a bit of a problem when trying to open gates while mounted as she insists that she should be the one to do it. Usually, I just try to get the clip off and let her push it open. That doesn't work in Working Equitation, so I guess I'll have to work on getting her to let me open the gate!

Monday 18 February 2019

I Can Do Colour Again!

I've been very good so far this year about not spending unnecessary money. I mean, we're a whole six weeks into the year and I feel like I've only spent money on groceries and gas. Every time I see something shiny I think of the saddle that I want to buy and put that shiny thing out of my mind.

Late last week I sent an email to the Wow Saddle fitter to order the flaps, the last big piece of the saddle that I need. They'll take about 9 weeks to arrive, so I wanted to get the process started.

Since I'm not buying a full saddle from the fitter and I bought the seat and panels used, I don't expect to be given a saddle cover to go with my new saddle. I want a cover that has some padding to it (at least a fleecy type of lining) and most importantly, I want one that has girth pockets on it. I saw a picture of one like this a while ago and I thought that a girth holder was genius.

Originally, my plan was to get Pony Grandma to use her mad sewing skills to make one for me. We priced out the fabric and it looked like it would cost in the range of $45-50 worth of materials.

Then I went home and did the Google search and found exactly what I wanted by Lemieux. I could get it for about $45 on Ebay using a coupon code valid until the end of February. I decided I would go this route.

I shopped around at a few UK websites to see if I could find it for a better deal. And I did - in brown. I'm not overly picky about colour, and I like brown - it will match my paddock boots, half chaps, and One K helmet.

Of course, if you are ordering from overseas and have to pay a bunch for shipping, you might as well make it worth your while, right?

Enter a new saddle pad for the new saddle.

Like almost every rider, I own a bunch of saddle pads. However, in the last 4 or 5 years, I've only used 3 of them. For the last two years, I've been exclusively riding in my treeless saddle. It requires specialty saddle pads, which are in the range of $200 each. I have one for each horse - one is black, the other is black with some navy trim. Before that, I had some saddle fit issues with Phantom, and once she decided that she liked my sheepskin lined square pad I wasn't changing it. That saddle pad is also black.

I'm kind of sick of black.

Otherwise I don't think I have bought a saddle pad in probably 7 or 8 years. Of the ones that I have, I wouldn't say that I really love any of them.

I've loved the look of the Lemieux saddle pad for the last couple of years. So many pretty colours to choose. I'm very partial to jewel tones.

Black currant is a limited edition colour that should be shortly making it's way across the pond to me.

It will go nicely with Cisco's browband.

Benetton blue will likely be my next colour. I don't like royal blue, but this colour is striking on a horse.

Image result for lemieux benetton blue
I've got the brown chaps and grey breeches already.
I might be convinced to go black again, should this saddle pad from Equestrian Stockholm come on sale.
Black leather look saddle pad. This could be our show pad (for the shows we will never go to).
I promise that I won't do the whole matchy-matchy thing - mostly because I hate using polos. If I have a shirt that matches though........

Thursday 14 February 2019

A Bunch of Nothing

Another freezing cold day. Le sigh.

I timed my visit out to the barn on Wednesday badly - horses were just getting fed their hay when I arrived. I decided to clean some of my tack instead. I keep meaning to bring it home to clean in my nice, warm living room while watching Netflix, but I keep forgetting.
Much better.

I did my saddle and leather girth while standing under the heater at the barn. I dislike cleaning strapwork, so I threw that in the car to do at home. If I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it properly, which means taking it apart.
I had some assistance while cleaning my tack.

Eventually I brought Cisco in and threw him in the arena to play, this time by himself. He reverted right back to his omg! I'm going to get murdered in the scary end periscoping. He would only go about 15m down the length of the arena - thankfully this arena is about 30m wide.

To give him something to think about I set a small crosspole up at C. I've done this before with him, and he seems to enjoy it. Today was no different.
This was last summer. No media from today.
I started off really small so that he could walk over it if he needed to, then slowly made it a bit higher, and eventually a vertical. I was using jump blocks as standards, so the biggest was just over 2'. Let me say that that 2' looked a whole lot bigger than I remember!

Same as the last time that I did this with him, he often would jump, stop a few strides after landing, turn around and canter 3 or 4 strides back to the jump. I was a bit worried that once it hit 2' he might decide that it was too much work and start trying to avoid it, but he kept going. He had some crappy distances - a really long and a pretty short, but that didn't phase him and he just jumped it a bit bigger the next time.

He seemed to enjoy it and was quite proud of himself. He looks like he wants to have a pretty cute jump, but he's still trying to figure out where to put his legs. I wonder if I can get him to go through a little gymnastic.....
I also redid Cisco's tail - gingerbread man duct tape this time. And yes - that 's shedded out hair on the ground!

Phantom got to be a test dummy for one of the ladies at the barn who is going to school to learn Equine Remedial Therapy. She has to practice some equine massage and needs some victims volunteers. She had done Phantom back in the fall and asked if she could give her another massage.

Phantom looked like she wasn't really sure about someone other than her mother touching her. Last time that happened she almost died.  But she didn't die, and was very good for her pampering.

I had hoped to also let her loose in the arena, but someone showed up to ride, and by the time she was done it was -30 C out. I was ready to go home.
This is what the courier brought this week!
The ponies also got to enjoy their prize winnings from Christmas! I won a bag of Stud Muffins on a Facebook contest, and they finally arrived this week. I'm too cheap to buy the fancy treats, so they've never had a Stud Muffin before. It was no concern - they were found to be delicious!

The horses have started to shed, so spring has to be coming. Right?

Tuesday 12 February 2019

Canadian Winter Forecasts

This came across my Facebook feed today.

It is accurate in so many ways.

It is amazing how excited one can get about 1 degree above 0. That's 1 degree above freezing.

After weeks of cold, just above freezing feels like spring is imminent to a Canadian. It's tempting to wear short sleeves outside (well, short sleeves under a light winter jacket), maybe leave the long underwear off, you can touch doorknobs without putting gloves on first, horses can get turned out nekkid for a roll in the snow.

There have been so many times that the long-range forecast has shown a warm-ish day at the end of a cold spell. When you check the forecast before you go to bed at night, it's there. You start dreaming of what you will do when this cold disappears in the not-so-distant future. Then you wake up in the morning, look at the forecast again to see how many layers you have to put on just to walk out to your car that morning, and have your hopes for the future dashed as you see the amended forecast - cold forever.

The joys of winter in Canada.

The good thing is that winter has to end. Sometime between March and May. And then it's our glorious summer, with lots of daylight, mostly comfortable temperatures, and only some insects.

I hope it falls on my day off this year so that I can enjoy it!

Monday 11 February 2019

Day 46 of the Arctic Expedition

The crew is getting restless. I fear that they might resort to cannibalism if the weather doesn't change shortly.

Well, probably not cannibalism. The ponies are getting enough hay to keep them happy - Phantom seems to have put some weight on. I'm okay with that since she was at about the perfect weight and I didn't want to see her lose any more.

But omg - it feels like this cold is not going to end. We've had 10 days in a row of waking up to temperatures near -30 (generally colder than -30 with the windchill), and we've only broken the -20 temperature once. It got to a whole -18 on Thursday. Whoopee.

And it doesn't look like it's going to be much better for the rest of February.

Sure, it might start to get a bit warmer in about 11 days. A daytime high of -15 means that it's probably a solid -18 by the time I get home from work and would be on my way out to the barn. Plus it's usually 3 or 4 degrees colder at the barn than it is in the city. So I still won't be riding.

Not that this forecast will stand - it will completely change by the time the second week comes around. Probably not for the better.

So it will mean more play dates for the kids. Which is what they got on Sunday.

I was a bit tight for time, so Cisco had to get turned out in the arena with Phantom. Phantom is not nearly as fun as Blue. Big sisters find their little brothers annoying and have no inclination to put up with their attempts to get a rousing game of bitey face going.

Phantom is actually far too nice to him. At one point she gave him a super polite warning by lifting up a hind leg in slow motion.

Like any big sister, there are times that she wants to get away from her sibling and just be by herself.

But Cisco will follow Phantom anywhere.

They actually get along very well.


Saturday 9 February 2019

I'm On the Radar (aka Keywords Get Noticed)

A couple of days ago, I posted about Phantom's vet exam last week. I like a catchy title, so I had called the post "In Which Phantom Almost Gets Murdered".

Apparently, there was a keyword in there that got some attention.

When I looked at Google Analytics later that day, I noticed that I had a new viewer.

From the CIA.

Yep, the Central Intelligence Agency.

Now, there is a possibility that there is a file clerk at the CIA who rides hunters on the weekends and was viewing horse blogs on her work computer during her lunch break.

But the more likely scenario is that there is a Jason Bourne type operative with the code name Phantom who is currently on a mission to save civilization from some bad Dr. Evil dude, and I just made everyone in the world of clandestine operations panic with my tongue in cheek title.

I really hope this won't affect my ability to go to Disneyland next year.

So the moral of the story is, keywords get noticed!

But wait - there's more!

On Friday evening I was bored so I looked at Analytics on the desktop version. And I noticed this:

The CIA was not a new user!!! They've looked at my blog before!!!

Apparently it was in January.

What did I write about in January that would set alarm bells ringing??

It looks like the first hit was the week of January 20th. Can't think of anything that I posted that week that would be suspicious.

And maybe the post titled "Severed Limbs" was what they looked at during the week of January 27th. Just maybe.

Fellow Bloggers - please tell me the CIA is watching you also and there is no need for me to be paranoid! Or if you are the reader who checks out blogs on your CIA-issued computer on your lunchbreak, please send me a message!!

Friday 8 February 2019

Horses in Body Worlds

Since it's been ridiculously cold for the last week and I've spent far too much time on the couch at home (and next week isn't looking much better) I decided that this was the week to take in the latest Body Worlds exhibit. This one is all about animals.

In case you've never been to a Body Worlds exhibit, here is what it's about.

Human bodies (or in the case of the current exhibit, animals) are donated to the Institute of Plastination in Germany. The bodies are prepared using a process called plastination. This procedure allows for the bodies to be sliced (very thin to thick) or to be posed allowing for different aspects of anatomy to be shown.

Some people get super creeped out by this, especially for the human exhibits. I find it fascinating.

We've had two Body Worlds exhibits based on human anatomy come through town. Late last year the Animal Inside Out version arrived.

The best part of the exhibit was that there were quite a bit of horse specimens in it. And we were permitted to take pictures - just no flash photography.

Since Body Worlds doesn't get to too many places in North America, I will share all of the horse stuff with you! (But if it comes to your town, go see it!)

The first horse thing was probably the coolest to me. It was a thin slice of a head, done probably through the middle of the head based on the fact that there were only front teeth shown and no ears.

The brain is a bit bigger than I thought - it's a bit bigger than the size of my fist. Also of note is how large the tongue is and how much it fills their mouth.

The horse's skull - we've probably all seen this before.

Next was neat - they sliced a horse head into three - kind of left, right, and center.

It was a little hard to see inside due to the positioning, but again I was able to see their relatively small brain.

Brain is top right.

The nose hairs amused me.
This is a couple of vertebrae with the spinal cord.
Okay, this was actually the coolest thing. I would totally hang this on my wall at home.

I looked at these feet for quite a while, trying to decide if the left foot was laminitic or clubby. These are both back legs, and I don't know if they are different slices of the same leg or two different legs. Something definitely looks funky in those feet.

Next was a foal that was plastinated to highlight the muscles.

Beside it. they had pulled out the digestive system and I think formed it like it would be in the position the foal was in. On the back side of the foal they showed where they had opened the abdomen to pull out the digestive organs.

These would make pretty cool sculptures for my bookcases.

 They show the blood system and where the veins and capillaries are. The first one was pretty solid red, the second one was kind of stringy red. I bet the first one had been a pretty handsome horse in his day - he had a big roman nose and just had a look about him.
That was it for the horse stuff. It didn't take us very long to get through the whole exhibit - maybe 45 minutes. I feel it was a bit high in cost for the length of the show, but I really enjoyed what they had. The cost included admittance to the facility that was hosting Body Worlds, so there was more to see, but I've been there before and the displays are very kid oriented and don't change very much.

There were other animals that were shown other than horses - here are some of the cool ones.

A bull.

The way they displayed the camel was different - the head and neck were split into three and each part placed in a different position. Don't know that I liked the presentation that much.

I intend to Google to see how the foot of a two-toed animal differs from that of a horse. How does the bone structure deal with two toes?

And a giraffe.
I bet that the "cannon bone" or whatever the giraffe version of it is was at least 3 1/2 foot long. 

Should any of the Body Worlds exhibits ever come to a town near you, I highly recommend them! If you are in the Edmonton area, make sure you go before Body Worlds leaves at the end of March.