Friday 26 April 2019

The Mane Event

It's Friday, I'm on vacation, and I'm on my way to Mane Event in Red Deer, Alberta! Hopefully not in the snow, but I'm not holding out for that.

Mane Event is an annual 3 day equine experience, with the largest horse-related trade show in the province, and demonstrations and clinics offered by some big name trainers, all available to watch with just the price of admission ($15 if you pre-buy your tickets, $17 at the door for a one day admission). There is a Trainer's Challenge, where 3 trainer's attempt to start unbroken (and in some cases barely handled) young horses over the 3 day period, a pro/am challenge where a youth is paired with one of the clinicians to compete as a team on an obstacle course, and new for this year - an extreme trail contest, and a rodear dog competition.
The clinicians for this year.
They always bring in a selection of clinicians - always a jumper type, dressage, natural horsemanship, barrel racer, and a driver, and then a few different ones each year. This year there is a working equitation person and a ranch riding person. There are also many discussion sessions held, on things like saddle fit, feed, health, or first aid.

The really nice thing about this format is that you can watch any or all of the clinicians in between shopping. The seating is rush seating (and not very comfortable). I've watched some sessions from the disciplines that I'm interested and had to leave because they were so boring, and then I've watched some sessions (mostly driving) that have had some really good information that I've taken home with me. It's a wonderful opportunity to observe other disciplines and store away some new tools in your toolbox.

However, because the seating is so uncomfortable, you don't want to sit for too long at a time. They had George Morris out a few years ago, and I drove the almost 2 hours each way for 3 days in a row to watch. I was planning on going back on the 4th day (it was an anniversary year so they added an extra day), but when I woke up in the morning I couldn't turn my neck from sitting on metal bleachers for at least 4 hours a day over the last three days. So I stayed home.

I usually just go down for one day. I always look at who the clinicians are, and if it's someone I'm really interested in watching I go down for an overnight stay. It's tough to get everything done in one day, and inevitably there are a few sessions that I would like to hit that are scheduled for the days that I'm not there.
It's a big facility. They renovated over the last year, and now the arenas are joined to the main buildings. More shopping space!

The best part, of course, is the shopping. Well, it would be if I ever had any money or really needed anything.

Don't get me wrong - I always find something to buy. And I've gotten some good deals there. We don't get companies there (like C4, Horsewear or most saddle companies) - for tack related stuff, it's all tack stores. So we don't tend to get blowout types of sales.

The amount of free things that you score has gone down significantly over the years as well. One year, when I did attend for all three days, I came away with 8 free rolls of Vetrap. I haven't gotten a free roll since. The guys that always gave out free chunks of Himalayan rock salt every year stopped last year. So now it's mostly pens and sample baggies of feed.

But if you are a horse person, it's the place to be on the last weekend in April. They were smart when they decided to use Red Deer as the location - it's pretty well right in the middle of the province.  It's an hour and a half from the two major cities, and likely no more than about 5 hours for almost everyone else in the province.  The only bad thing about this event is the time of year - it snows just about every year. I've driven through complete snowstorms on the highway, or have had just a few sprinkles of flakes as I'm driving away, but I'm pretty sure it has snowed every time I've been down there.

This year looks to be no exception - we might end up driving home in snow, but hopefully, it won't hit until the next day.

I'm only looking for a couple of things, and only at the right price (cheap). Maybe this will be the year that I don't buy anything - but I doubt it!

Thursday 25 April 2019

Walking on Sunshine

I'm on vacation this week. My plan was to get lots of saddle time in. That doesn't look like it going to happen though.

I made sure I got out on Monday, which was going to be the nicest day of the week. Both horses got ridden. Tuesday was going to be my sit at home on my ass day (I always have one while on vacation). Wednesday was supposed to be productive, but I got up too late as I finished a book after I woke up. I had an appointment at 5pm so by the time I got going I lost my window to be able to get a ride in.

It's also been super windy so outside things are not fun. Waking up in the morning and hearing the wind blowing against the house is not conducive to jumping out of bed to leave the house.

So for the first part of my week off, I rode on Sunday (which I blogged about previously) and Monday.

Since Monday was going to be beautiful, with sun and 20 degree weather, it was to be an outside day.
It was finally nice enough to be able to hose off some things and hang them to dry, like my Prolite girth.
I arrived just after lunch to ride Cisco. The plan was to ride him in the field next to the arena. Another person was heading out there at the same time as me to do gallop sets, so I figured that would be a good experience for him - to be out in an open area where he was a bit nervous, and another horse was out there but doing different things than us.

It didn't take him too long to settle at a walk. We weren't at all straight, as his shoulders were bulging one way or another and my open rein and leg was useless at trying to correct it. But it wasn't terrible steering, just bigger, wider turns that what I was aiming for.

Same at the trot. Very bulgey with his head up. But our pace was good. And he didn't have any concern about the other horse riding past or away from him.

Eventually, he relaxed. And gave me some wonderful attempts at pretending to be a hunter while riding some large figure-8's. Neck low, nose down and forward. Finally!
It was also warm enough to hose off the sweat marks after riding. So we stood outside to eat dinner while drying. 
We had come back to walk with lots of praise, and I decided I would try one more lap and see if I could get the same relaxation going around the perimeter of the field as when we had been doing the figure-8's.

Our ongoing issue is that Cisco bulges out his right shoulder and falls to the right through upward walk/trot transistions. I try to remember to really set the transition up by turning my shoulders to the right, sitting on my right seat bone, and often resort to going onto a small circle to get the right bend before asking for the trot.

As per normal, when I was setting him up to ask for the trot, he dropped his shoulder to the right. So I put him on a circle. And he suddenly decided that he knew how to move laterally off my leg.

I've introduced the leg-yield to him, so this isn't a foreign concept. I've never really schooled it with him though.

The difference in this time versus every other time I've asked for it was that it was easy. I put my right leg on, he deliberately moved forward and sideways. Then I switched to my left leg, and got the same reaction.

So I scrapped the plan of trotting another lap around the field and spent half a lap moving him sideways in both directions instead. With heaps of good boys and scratches in between.

Yet another super ride that I was really happy about. It was a good thing that I decided to ride him first, because by the time I was ready to ride Phantom, the wind had started gusting and I had to ride inside, which probably would have turned Cisco into a neurotic mess.
This is the result of taking pony selfies with short arms to hold the phone. 
Phantom, however, doesn't give a shit about a noisy, creaky arena, so she was nice and relaxed for her first ride back after her vaccination. The overhead door at the far end was open a couple of feet and we could see the grass outside blowing in the wind, which was kind of freakin' out the other horse in the ring (who is something like 22 years old), but Phantom kept dragging me over there wanting to see what was going on.

I'm glad that I made sure to take advantage of the nice day and have a couple of good rides and get a few things done at the barn. I haven't had too much incentive between the wind and just feeling tired for the rest of the week so far. I'm going to try to ride each horse at least once over the weekend, as I'm substitute teaching for someone for about 6 hours each on Saturday and Sunday, and there is a show at my barn on those days, so I don't know how busy it will be when I manage to get out there later in the afternoon. Not to mention the potential for snow that is in the forecast for Saturday!

Wednesday 24 April 2019

Slow but Steady

Easter was this past Sunday. It's one of those holidays that you are obliged to do something with your family that takes away from your precious horse time. So after teaching a beginner lesson, I only had enough time for a quick half hour ride before having to rush home an make myself presentable.

It was a beautiful spring day, so I wasn't going to spend it inside. I tacked Cisco up and we headed out.

We started out in the big field next to the arena. He was a little looky, but mostly in a can't steer very well kind of way, and not a gonna scoot kind of way. So we only did a couple of laps before leaving that area.
Pic from last year because I have no recent media of me on my horse.
I decided to bite the bullet and head down the neighbours drive. The wind, which had not been an issue, decided to start blowing just as I was leaving the yard. Not crazy, just enough to make things move.

This was the first time that we made it all the way down to the tree at the end without stopping. There were some steering issues in which we took a wobbly pass past the shop and trailer that were a bit scary last week, and the utility flags that were no issue last week were a bit worrisome, and then there was a momentary pause when we passed the house that had a dog in the front fenced in yard that was just sitting looking at us. But we kept going forward!

When we reached the tree I felt that we could have kept going, but it gets tricky as to where to keep going to from there. The only option really is to head through a small, overgrown field, to the wooded area behind where there are trails, but they're narrow, through the treexs type of trails. Not the best when on a nervous horse by yourself. So we just turned around.

Cisco kept an eye on the quiet dog as we passed the yard again and jogged a couple of steps. I brought him back to walk, and he momentarily fixated on the flappy red flag that was on the bush next to the shed. He relaxed his look, then suddenly spun his shoulders. To the right - towards the flappy bush. Not the direction I was expecting.

Thankfully I stayed in the saddle (though I got a very good impression of what people mean when they talk about how fast their Andalusian's shoulders can disappear from in front of them). As I turned Cisco back in the direction I wanted to go I looked to the left to see what had caused the spin.

I saw it. And it was terrifying.

It was a black and white silently judgey kitty. That kitty gave no fucks that it had almost caused me to fall off, and just sat there, staring at us, and judged my riding abilities. I'm pretty sure I was found t not be adequate.
Kinda like this, but judgier.
After that, Cisco stayed nice and chill the rest of the way back to our yard. So I decided to push him a little bit more.

There is a shop along our driveway. Behind the shop a camper is parked, and next to the camper is a metal round bale holder. There is a gap about 5 feet between them to be able to pass through. But first, you have to go between the two large, white water containers. And then to top it all off, there is a donkey that lives in the pen on the other side.

It was a good test.

He started by saying no about the water tanks. I waited for a few seconds, he took another step and stopped. Then reached his nose out to one of them. I let him walk over to it, he sniffed it, and we were able to head towards the gap between the camper and bale feeder. At that point he spotted the donkey, but he kept walking. Very slowly and carefully, but it was still forward.
Donkey knows that horses fear him.
Once he got in front of the donkey pen he had to stop and stare (at which point I totally grabbed mane because if that donkey made a noise I was probably going to be in trouble). Cisco's little buddy Blue was in the next pen, at which point he would have liked to stop and visit, but he kept going all the way around back to the barn.

Outside the barn was a hitching post that someone had tacked up at. There was a blanket and a Back on Track loin sheet hanging on the rail, blowing in the wind. I asked Cisco to go over to them, he skipped the blanket, and then went directly to the BoT sheet. He sniffed it, and grabbed it and pulled it to the ground. Oops.

Again, it was another ride that I was really happy with. His confidence seems to be growing every day. Yes, our canter sucks, and there is a lot of schooling that we need to do. But I strongly feel that this slow work is going to pay off. There is so much training that can be done outside of the ring and I would like to take as many opportunities as I can to get outside. Our nice weather is too inconsistent and doesn't last very long, and we will be stuck inside for far too long come September again.

Monday 22 April 2019

Initial Review - Kentaur Torino Breastplate

Since I bought a black jump saddle for Cisco, I naturally needed a black breastplate to go with it. They're not common in North America - jump tack tends to be dark brown out here - but are pretty easy to find overseas. So I knew that is where I would be shopping from.

I also knew that I wanted a 5 point breastplate. I've had issues with lateral saddle slip on my propane tank of a horse and in theory, a 5 point helps to stabilize your saddle a bit. (Saddle slip has not been an issue with the Wow saddle though, much to my surprise and glee.)

I'm kind of picky though. I didn't want brass fittings (Dy'on), or coloured elastic straps (Flexible Fit), and it needed to come in cob size (Passier). And I really wanted a specific style.

My options were narrowed down the BR Heywood and the Kentaur Torino. The price on them both was about the same after shipping, but the Kentaur was slightly easier to find in-stock. The Kentaur also came with a running martingale attachment, which the BR did not. So when I received a message from Kentaur Australia saying that all breastplates were 15% off, I bit the bullet and ordered it (while holding Phantom for the farrier).
Interesting packaging, but it arrived with no issues!

I ordered it on a Wednesday and it arrived the next Tuesday. Pretty quick!

Initial thoughts:

The leather seems to be a good, sturdy, workman leather. Not overly soft and supple, but the kind of leather that only gets better with regular use. My kind of leather.
I could do without the logos though.
The yoke part that goes against the chest is nicely padded with soft padding.

The elastic part that goes to the girth on the sides has a non-stretch strap stitched inside the loop - I would imagine to reduce the wear on the elastic.

I do like me a fancy stitched bridle, so I should like the white stitching on the breastplate. I can't decide if I do or not - maybe if I had a bridle to match it I would be more enthusiastic about it. But that's minor.

The one annoying thing that I didn't think about is that the girth loop doesn't have a clip, and it's stitched shut, so adding a clip isn't going to be super easy. Anybody got any ideas on how to add one that doesn't look too clunky?

Now - the important part - how does it work on the horse?

I bought cob sized for Cisco. He's not tall, but he's very wide in front.

It took a few adjustments to get the fit that I wanted, but I think it fits him pretty good. It's on the biggest setting on the sides and on the straps that attach to the D-rings at the pommel.

I really like the shape of the yoke at the front. Because he is so wide, I wonder if a full size for that part would be a slightly better fit - I don't know if it would be better for it to be wider and have where it splits a bit more behind the point of his shoulder.

I have the side strap to the girth kind of angled up. I just didn't like the fit when it was straighter.

I still have to find a way to attach a clip to the bottom girth strap - right now I've got a clip being held on by binder twine. I'm waiting for a different style of girth to arrive for Cisco, so I'm not going to worry about it until that girth arrives.

Initial impression - I'm pretty happy with it. It looks good - the first two people who saw me ride with it commented that they loved the style. I'm good with the quality of leather. I think that the cob size is on the slightly smaller side, but very slightly.

Cisco had no complaints on the first couple of rides with it on. Fingers crossed that he doesn't decide that he can't move his shoulders over a jump while wearing it in the future!

Thursday 18 April 2019

Phantom's Annual Temporary Boob Job

Yes, it's that time of year again. Phantom's annual temporary boob job - aka annual vaccination.

Because she has always reacted without fail, I get her injected in her pectoral muscles in her chest. The next day she always has a large, hot, swollen lump.
Her left boob is the one that got jabbed.
I spend the next few days icing it, giving her bute and lots of cookies because she is usually feeling very sad and sorry for herself.

This year she doesn't seem quite as bad as previous years. There is still a very large lump - the side the injection was given on is definitely a d-cup instead of the normal b-cup. But she's walking only slightly slower than normal and when I took her out to graze her trot was forward and big and not a shuffly western jog. And I've barely seen her pathetic woe is me face.
Left is definitely bigger that the right.
The last few years I've had her done with the nasal flu/rhino vaccine and whatever to make up the rest. We do WEE/EEE, tetanus and West Nile Virus up here. It's been given as a single injection 6 way  the last two years if I don't do the nasal - it's still one injection, but I wonder if she would have a stronger reaction if there was more in there. I'll probably stick to the nasal and the 4 way to make up the rest for her.
My attempt to make a sling using bandages to hold the ice pack so I can use my time wisely.
Cisco seemed perfectly fine two days post-injection - he had no problem turning his head towards me standing by his hip. I'm going to try to ride him tomorrow night - Phantom will be off until early next week.
Not a pathetic face, but a questioning if I have a cookie face.

Tuesday 16 April 2019

Big Boy Pants Are On!

The forecast for Sunday was not good - it was supposed to start raining in the early hours of the morning and last for most of the day. I really needed to get at least one horse ridden in the morning since I hadn't made it out to the barn on Saturday night (I fell asleep on the couch in my breeches).

Thankfully, the weather forecast was yet again wrong. It was grey and windy, but there wasn't any precipitation coming down. I needed to ride in the morning if I was going to ride, and it was going to have to be outside - the 4H group had the arena booked for the morning, and last time I tried to ride with them it was a bit of a gong show (two separate jump lessons going on at the same time so I was stuck on the track).

My plan was to ride Phantom, since she's generally better behaved and is going to be off for at least a week after Tuesday's vaccinations. When I arrived at the barn though, she and her paddock mates were still working on their morning hay. I don't like taking her away from her food, so I was going to have to ride Cisco. Outside. In the wind. After a week off.
Barn kitten is far too cute and gets away with far too much.
My only goal was to get on, walk around a bit, and not die. Anything on top of that was a bonus.

I had to do some groundwork with him to get his focus at least sort of on me before using a small step ladder to get on, at which point he stood really nicely, despite my awkward attempt to mount. Then we headed out to the field.

We were definitely getting jiggy with it for the first two laps. The first lap involved several small circles to try to keep us going in my intended direction, the second lap was just jiggy but with most of our steering intact, but by the third lap, he had chilled. Not on the buckle kind of chilled, but his brain stayed in his head, and we just walked.

We walked past the horse trailer with the red saddle cover that was flapping in the wind. We walked through the gap between two cross-country jumps - he stutter-stepped, but kept going. We walked over to check out the back end of the arena, which was full of people fixing and painting jumps.

We did a short trot around the field - there are gopher holes everywhere that you have to dodge, so it's not the best riding area. Thus riding a wiggly horse who bulges out around the turns is a little more stressful than it should be. So I didn't do much trot, but I was really happy with the pace that he set and his willingness to go.
Just ridiculously cute.
I thought I'd push my luck a little bit more and head down the neighbours driveway. I can't remember if we managed to make it all the way down to the tree at the end last year - we might have once at the end of the year after I hand walked him down there a few times. This was the first time heading that direction this year.

And he was super! There was a moment of slight hesitation at a spot where there is a cracked asphalt chunk in the gravel driveway that he wasn't sure about, and we moved closer to the barn when a very clangy horse trailer looked like it was going to pass us (it stopped before that) and he was unsure about the tractor and implements parked at the end. Just past the barn I saw some yellow utility flags on the side of the drive and figured that might be the breaking point. But nope - they were of no concern - the shop that was set well back from the road was far more scary, especially since a big gust of wind swooped through as we were trying to pass. That was the only point where he seriously doubted my desire to keep going, but he pulled his big boy pants up and kept going. All the way to the tree at the end.

Despite the ride being pretty well only at a walk, I was super pleased with how brave he was. He was ridden outside last summer, so this isn't his first time ever, but we all know how those first rides in the spring can be so demoralizing when it seems that they decide to forget everything they've ever known.
So much cute.

I only had a half hour to spend on Phantom's back, so I took her out as well. Initially she put up a bit of a fuss - she had her snow pads removed this week, and I think her soles are a bit owie, so when I steered her to walk across the gravel drive she said no thank you. But once she realized we weren't heading to the arena, she was ready to go.

For the most part, Phantom loves to hack out. Provided the footing is good and there aren't too many flies. She's not spooky, and likes to investigate.

She was happy on this day as I was able to mostly keep her on the grass on the side of the drive. Then we came back and wandered around the paths between the pens.

The rides weren't overly exciting in that we didn't really go faster than a walk, but they were good for their brain rides. It's been a long winter stuck indoors, and this was a good start to being able to spend some time outside this summer.

Friday 12 April 2019

Miscellaneous From the Week

Not much happened on the horse front this week.

I did get a ride in on Phantom on Sunday, and Cisco on Monday. Then it was farrier day on Wednesday, and work on Thursday. I'm hoping to get some decent rides in over the weekend, as next Tuesday is vaccination day. Phantom always needs a solid week off to allow her new double-d's to go back down to b cups (I have her poked in her chest instead of her neck) after annual vaccinations, so she'll get some vacay. Cisco needed a few days off last year before he was comfortable. Hopefully he's good for the next week when I'm on vacation!

So here are some random photo's that have been sitting on my phone.

Blankets are off, so tails are down! Phantom's will need a slight trim - and a wash. It's a bit yellowier than I would like it to be.

Phantom's hind legs were gross - full of mare gunk, pee and mud. I washed them off on Monday so the farrier wouldn't have to touch the grossness.
There's a saying that goes something like you should have a horse who's face you love to see over the stall door in the morning. I love this face. 

This is what happens when you try to zip up your jacket while riding a posting trot. You kind of get it, but not quite right.

I picked up a couple of Weatherbeeta rain sheets for a great price this winter. It's the same one, in the same colour, that I bought for Cisco a couple of years ago. So now my horses are twinsies!

At least half of the time that I go out to catch him, Cisco walks across the paddock to me. It gives me the warm fuzzies every time! Until he coughs in my face.

Tuesday 9 April 2019

Liar Liar

I am happy to say that Cisco has been making a liar out of me.

I recently posted about how I've figured out that he is nervous in the arena when he's by himself. Apparently, I spoke too soon.
On Sunday morning I went out to take off Cisco's rainsheet. I got a hug in return. The look on my face is because I wasn't quite sure what he was doing!
The last couple of rides have started with another horse in the ring when we get in there and do a quick lunge, but either shortly after getting on or while I'm getting ready to get on, the other horse leaves and we are solo. Cisco has worried for about 30 seconds, then he's able to focus and we can get to work.

I'm not sure why the sudden change, but I'm not going to complain about it.

He's not perfect about the scary bits when he's by himself - we still have to gradually work our way up to the scary end, and he's become a bit attached to the gate to leave the arena, but he's relaxed enough that we're able to work through it.
So much hair on the bottom of my new Lemieux saddle pad.
Because he's been a bit more relaxed, he's giving me some decent moments at a trot. (We'll just ignore the canter for a bit - it's happening, but it's got a long way to go.) The right bend is starting to happen more consistently, although throwing the right shoulder out through a walk/trot transition is still an annoying habit.
The Strip Hair worked great to get the hair out.
On our last ride. I was able to sit up and ride him like I expected him to just be there, and he responded positively. When I've tried that in the past he worried, so I was very happy to get this new result. Of course, now I have to work a little harder and ride him like that more often. That seems hard.

Besides doing a bunch more canter to start strengthening that gait, I need to work on leg yields and installing the forward button. They're both partly installed, but they need to be much sharper and not up for negotiation. I'll have to start carrying the dressage whip on a regular basis instead of my little jump crop.
Barn chickens decided that someone's saddle cart was a perfect roost. Thankfully, they didn't pick mine (which was next to this one) because I had a bunch of blanket liners thrown over it.
So, I'm quite happy with the progress that we're making. We've really only been back at the riding thing for about 5 weeks after most of 4 months off, and even within this 5 week period we've not been super consistent. It's not going to get any better - vaccinations are next week, and I'm pretty sure he'll need a couple of days off (better than Phantom's required 7 - 10 days off due to her inevitable vaccination lump), then I have a 3 day weekend of travel or teaching, and soon after will likely be a minimum 2 weeks off for my surgery.

After that though - it should be all good for the rest of the summer! Fingers crossed!

Monday 8 April 2019

Looking for Opportunities

My emotional roller coaster ride that started last fall has returned. Sort of.

I had another biopsy of my thyroid on Wednesday. The results were pretty well the same (looks a bit too cancer-y for comfort), so it's going to be coming out. I see the surgeon next week, so I would imagine the surgery will be sometime in May or June. I'm very much at the point of just wanting to get this done and over with so that I can plan my summer, so bring it on.

The surgery will mean I'm out of work for a couple of weeks, and likely out of the saddle for at least the same. I'll have a sore neck for that time, and apparently a sore throat from the breathing tube. And possibly a scar.

I'm by no means vain, so the thought of a scar doesn't bother me that much. I guess they try to make the incision in a neck fold - I have lots to choose from. And my surgeon does a lot of these, so I'm not overly worried. I mean, I am worried - I've never had surgery before, so there are a lot of unknowns for me. But I'll deal.

The other thing that comes along with the scar on my neck is the need to keep it out of the sun for a year so that it doesn't become discoloured as it heals. For an equestrian who spends a fair amount of time outside in the summer, and whose preferred piece of clothing in heat is a tank top, this causes a dilemma.

Or is it an opportunity? An opportunity to shop?

Sure, I could put sunscreen on it. But chances of remembering to do that on a regular basis as I sweat it off through the day is slim to none.

So, shirts with a high neck it is.

What kind of shirts have high necks?  Show shirts. And there are some super cute show shirts on the market these days.

Drawback - they can be pretty pricey. And I would like to get 4 or 5 of them.

I've also been looking at golf shirts. There are many options for mock neck, sleeveless shirts. However, they can get almost as pricey as show shirts. Being in Canada, there aren't too many stores to shop at.

I'll find a few inexpensive cotton mock neck tanks to wear for non-horse things, but I hate riding in cotton shirts these days. I have a couple of Bette & Court sunshirts already, but I don't always want to wear sleeves.

I definitely don't want to go crazy and buy a whole new wardrobe - pretty sure about 5 shirts will do. I just need to make sure that they go with my current collection of breeches so that I don't need to look for an opportunity to buy more!

Thursday 4 April 2019


On Monday I hit up the dollar store on my way out to the barn and picked up an umbrella. Time for desensitizing work for Cisco!

I started off with some TRT Method groundwork. I've been slowly going through the steps - very slowly. But Cisco is starting to get it and is thinking more about where his feet are. I wouldn't say that it calms him yet - there has only been a couple of times when he's dropped his head down and relaxed. Mostly he does the movements, softens through them, then when I step back to give him a long lead he llamas and stares at something. But he llamas with a softer eye, so I guess that's progress?

Anyhoo, he was super chill and relaxed, likely at least partly because there was another horse in the arena. The good thing was that the lady who owned said horse is also big about desensitizing, so she had no problem with me doing weird things.

I brought out the umbrella. It was quite flappy while folded up, so I started with flapping it all around him. He was unsure, but stood rock still. Then I pushed the button and the umbrella flipped out and opened up. Cisco flinched, as would I if someone unexpectedly opened an umbrella in my face.
It's really hard to hold a horse, an umbrella, and a phone - thus the crappy media.

And that was it. I waved that umbrella all around him, laid it on his back, had him walk while I held the umbrella high over his back and behind his butt. No concerns. His only concern came when I had the umbrella on the ground - it was just a little too hard to pick up in his mouth. I so hoped he would because I really wanted that picture.

He's seen an umbrella before, so I'm not overly surprised that it wasn't a huge deal. But I was really pleased with how relaxed he was and that he really wanted to engage with it.
Extra crappy sideways media.

Next, I moved onto some sound using a clapper type thing. Again, I've done this before with him, but only once or twice, and it's been a while. Also again, he was super and stood completely still and was far more concerned that it wasn't edible than that it was making noise.

I was really happy with how relaxed he was through it all. I don't know if he was only relaxed because there was another horse in the ring with him, and it will be a completely different situation when we're alone, so I'll definitely be looking for the opportunity to get a comparison.

I also want to work on this stuff while mounted, which will require a second person. He gains confidence from me while on the ground. On his back is a different story. I'll have to borrow Pony Grandma one night to help me out with this.

Monday 1 April 2019

Black Breastplates & Small Saddlepads

I had my first nothing-at-all-to-do-all-day day in a while on Sunday. There was a clinic at the barn so I wasn't teaching or riding, and since I've had a bunch of late nights at the barn the last couple of weeks I decided that I was taking Sunday completely off. I planned to sleep in late, and catch up on some housework. By which I mean surf the internet all day while watching Hanna on Amazon, have an afternoon nap, and remember at the last minute to throw a load of laundry in.

I'm shopping for a new breastplate in black to go with the new saddle for Cisco, and looking for options on pony/cob sized saddle pads.

I know what I want for the breastplate - something that looks like this:
This is the BR Heywood breastplate.
I really like the thicker, curved part that goes at the front of the chest.

The BR Heywood is currently the forerunner. The problem is that I can't seem to find it online at too many places. Divoza has it on sale at the moment, but they only stock it in a full size, and I'm pretty sure I'll need cob.  (Can't find a measurement chart either.) So far the only other place I've found that has it stocked is in New Zealand. There is a local tack store that carries BR products so I might shoot them a message and see if it can be ordered.

I've found a couple other versions that are similar - Dy'on has one (but sadly with brass fittings), Kentaur makes one, Flexible Fit has one with the same type of front but navy elastic straps to the saddle.

Pony saddle pads are a whole 'nother issue.

They're either really expensive (like, going to cost $130+ per saddle pad) or I hate the colours. I don't want bright pink or baby pink, or baby blue, or cute ribbons on the trim, or hearts and ponies embroidered on the corner.
I covet this one by Equestrian Stockholm in Moroccan Blue. Thankfully, they're sold out.

And then everything else is black or white. Or so it seems.

I found a place that's clearing things out and they have a pony-sized pad in white, black or yellow. I'm thinking of grabbing the white and black ones and getting Pony Grandma to fancy them up. They'll only cost about $16 each so it might be worth trying it.
I also covet this one by Equestrian Stockholm. It might be relatively simple to fancy up a saddle pad into something similar.

At the end of April I'll be going to Mane Event in Red Deer, where there is a large trade show. I'll try to wait until then to look for a breastplate, but I'm pretty sure that the chances of finding a black one are slim. I'll keep on using my brown breastplate until then - the horror of mismatched tack!