Saturday 29 June 2019

Weekend Reading

Here's a great read for the weekend on Facebook.

The author, Lee, lives in the southern part of my province and has an operation called Keystone Equine. She has a very wide repertoire of horse experience and has written some great posts with wonderful words of wisdom. She might be the Canadian version of Denny Emerson. 

Read and enjoy!

Friday 28 June 2019

Phantom - Take Two for the Week

I was definitely going to give Phantom some more time to let the Ventipulmin kick in after my attempt at a ride on Sunday. On Tuesday, she got her drugs early and had lots of time while I rode Cisco. Unfortunately, I ran out of time to ride her. I wasn't done with Cisco until about 9:30 pm, and I didn't have it in me to ride that late.

Plus, I didn't want to have to try to get her clean.

So I put her in the arena for a bit of a play instead.

There seemed to be no issues with her breathing on this night.

The next day she was my priority ride. I got out in the afternoon and gave her the Ventipulmin again, though I didn't wait before getting her ready for a ride. It was less than 24 hours since her dose the evening before, and I wanted to see if it would still be working.

Thankfully it was. I didn't notice any issues through the ride. I think she had a couple of coughs when we first trotted, but I generally don't worry about those.

Yet again, Phantom was feeling pretty good. We had a great lengthened canter where she felt like she was leaping up (in a good way) every stride. It was a blast!
A 19.7 for elevation at a canter is a pretty good number for my level moving stock pony!
The last couple of rides I've gotten on in the arena with the intent of doing some schooling, but quickly scrapped the idea and we've exited through the end gate and door and gone for a walk outside. The gate and door were closed this time so escape wouldn't have been easy. Phantom kept looking wistfully in that direction every time we passed on a loose rein. She made it very clear that she was hoping the door would open and that we could go through it! If it ever stops raining I'll have to get her out for a good exploration - hopefully before all the mosquitos that are now inevitable come out.

So I'm not sure if the respiratory issues that we had on Sunday were an environmental thing, or as I suspect, she just didn't have enough time for the drugs to do their work. I'll do my best to allow her at least 2 hours before riding from here on out and see if I have issues again.

Thursday 27 June 2019

By Jove, I Think He's Got It!

Remember how a few weeks ago I said that we've had one of the driest springs on record and really needed some rain?

Apparently, Mother Nature heard me and took my request seriously. I think it's rained every day for the last two weeks. We can be done now, ok?

I've been timing things really well. I keep finishing up outside, head inside, and it starts raining. I haven't gotten too wet yet.

Such was the case on Tuesday. When I arrived at the barn, there was an ominous cloud with thunder and lightning. I rushed to get Phantom fed outside (I was planning on riding her second) and hopefully get Cisco inside while he was still dry. I went out to Phantom's pen, came around the corner of the barn, and saw her drop down to roll. In the very damp dirt.
This was the cleaner side.
That confirmed my decision to ride her second!

I got Cisco, who was perfectly clean, into the barn just before the rain started. He seemed a little bit different on this night. There was a quiet calm about him, which there usually isn't. He's been better as of late about parking with his hip cocked, which is an improvement over the last year, but on this occasion, he just seemed content and relaxed. It was very zen to be grooming my horse, alone in the barn, with the sound of rain falling on the metal roof.  
Pony selfies with the sound of rain over our heads.
His calmness carried over to the arena. He was forward at a walk, and I really felt the difference when we picked up the trot. As per normal, his trot at the beginning of the ride was forward, but it just felt different. A good different. Steady, rhythmic, taking me forward.

And - he remembered the end of the last ride. Even during the warmup, he was giving me moments of dropping forward and down into the contact. It got better and better through the ride, especially after the canter. We were getting moments of 6 or 7 steps at a time of a steady connection, and when we lost it I could get it back again. I spent a lot of time on a figure 8 shape with lots of bending, and I finished the ride when Cisco came through the center, bent the new direction, and stayed in a lovely relaxed frame through all of it. He's getting it figured out!

No media to prove it of course. I was going to set the video camera up on a Gorilla Pod in the arena, but it was raining when I went over and I didn't want to deal with carrying everything and trying not to get it wet. I'm going to try again this weekend - hopefully it looks as good as it feels!
This looks like a post ride tired pony picture, bt it was actually a pre-ride relaxed pony picture.
We had some other really good moments during this ride. Good leg yields at a trot on the tougher side, and there was a great moment when he really moved into a corner when I put my inside leg on. He picked up the left lead canter right away, and actually cantered instead of trantered. Getting the right lead seems to be our problem these days, which is mostly due to him dropping his right shoulder. If I get the set up right the lead is easy.

The last two rides have probably been helped by the fact that there have been other horses in the arena. He's been better lately by himself, but he's still usually not as relaxed as when there are buddies. I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't warm up as well by himself, but hopefully we'll be able to get it after the canter.

Short term goals to work on over the next few rides:

  • continue to work on getting a forward and down frame at a trot
  • more steering at a canter - might have to pull jumps down so that I can avoid the wet areas, which doesn't necessarily go over well, but I'll figure something out
  • more canter transitions so that they get more consistent
  • continue to work on the leg yields at trot
  • continue to ask for flexion on a straight line 
  • figure out an exercise to help with our steering into the corners at the canter instead of dropping the shoulder and diving to the inside (willing to take suggestions - I'm hoping that sharpening up the leg yields will pay off here)
  • start cantering over poles
  • and hopefully manage to try jumping again - and stay on this time!

Wednesday 26 June 2019

Just a Glimmer

When I went out to Cisco's paddock on Tuesday evening, I spotted a white horse in there that I didn't recognize. Who was the new white horse?

It was mine. This was the first time that I really realized how white Cisco is getting. He is more white/gray than gray/gray these days. Well, a flea-bitten white/gray. Which you can't see from a distance. I'll miss those dapples.
He doesn't look so white late in the evening.
Thankfully, the reason I thought he was a different horse, was because he was super clean after all the rain we've had, and the sun was shining off his back. Getting him groomed and tacked up didn't take too long.

We rode at the same time that his girlfriend, Bug, was being ridden. I keep hoping that when he's being ridden with one of his (many) girls that he'll turn into a fancy prancing horse while trying to impress them. It never happens. He turns into a needy, distracted, attached boyfriend.

Really, he just gets quicker when we're heading their way, and bulgey through turns away from them. Annoying, but nothing major.

For the first part of the ride he was a bit more forward than required, but not overly considering he hasn't been ridden since last Tuesday. We just did lots of turning and bending. I also added in some leg yields at a trot, and had a couple really good attempts off the harder left leg.

We did a short canter each way - the arena still has the wet spots, and the jumps are all set up to avoid those spots, which means the only open areas are the wet spots that I don't really want to canter through.
Who's a good boy? I am! (That's Bug in the background.)
And then I checked my watch. I'd been on for a whole 25 minutes. Okay, I needed to fill another 20 or so minutes. I thought I would do some more trot and really work on his frame and mix in some canter.

We didn't get back to the canter. Because he was frickin' awesome at the trot!

Things were finally clicking! And I could make it happen!

We did about 5 minutes at the trot. For most of it, he was stretching forward and down. And we even got the correct bend at times! When he popped his head up a bit, I asked for some inside flexion, and he gave it to me and I softened forward and he followed the bit.

I ended the ride there. I've been feeling that we are really close to getting this, so I was really happy that it was finally happening. Will we be able to get it two rides in a row?? Fingers crossed!

Tuesday 25 June 2019

Inhale, Exhale, Cough

On Sunday Phantom was my priority ride. She hadn't been ridden since Tuesday, and that was just a quick walk outside.

I usually give her the Ventipulmin when I arrive, then ride Cisco. Thus by the time I ride Phantom afterward the medication has had a couple of hours to kick in.

Since I wanted to for sure ride Phantom on Sunday, she had to go first. By the time I got on her, the Ventipulmin had only been onboard for just over an hour.
Phantom said that grazing would have been a better use of our time.
It didn't appear to be enough.

She coughed a bunch. She was also coughing at rest in the barn. We did some trot - she was totally game and was forward and willing, but I just didn't like her breathing. Then I tried a short canter and really didn't like her breathing. Not that she wanted to stop.

So we just went for a walk outside instead.
Can't really see the rain coming down, but about 15 minutes after I got off Phantom it started pouring. This had been mostly dry before a few minutes earlier. 
We haven't really had these problems since she's been on the Ventipulmin. Not sure why on this day. Could be one of a few things.

1) the Ventipulmin just needs longer before it's effective
2) the air quality wasn't great on Thursday and Friday - some forest fire smoke was back. Nowhere near as bad as a few weeks ago, but it seemed to be affecting people with respiratory issues.
3) the humidity is up with all the rain we've had.
4) Phantom is typically worse later in the summer. We could be approaching that time.
5) because she's a horse. And a princess of a horse at that.

She was perfectly fine on Friday night during her playtime in the arena, without any Ventipulmin. So I'm hoping that this is just a one-off. We'll see!

Monday 24 June 2019

The Week That Wasn't

I was on vacation last week. Well, vacation from the real job. I had lessons to teach on all of the weekend days. So I was really on vacation from Monday to Friday.

On Monday I booked a massage for late morning. It did me in. I went home and slept for 2.5 hours in the afternoon. This was the second time that I've had cupping therapy done on me to try to get some of the muscles to release faster. I didn't get nauseous afterwards this time, so that's progress. My back still looked like I tangled with an octopus, with circular bruises all over it by the evening.

I made it out to ride in the evening on Tuesday. It had rained in town in the morning, and according to the radar had rained just before I arrived at the barn. I fed Phantom first in her paddock - she was dry and clean. Sweet. Then I crawled through the fence to grab Cisco. He was damp. And dirty.
Tacky dirt that just kind of smeared when I groomed him.
I did my best to try to get the saddle area clean and tacked him up. He was a very good boy, with less tranter, more left lead canter, and oh so close to reaching into the contact for more than a stride or two at a time. His old BFF Pippa was also in the arena, tied up to the hitching rail outside the riding area. We had lovely leg-yields towards where Pippa was tied, and non-existent leg-yields on the other side of the arena. He's very much in the understands but chooses when phase of leg-yielding.

I got on Phantom at about 9:15 pm. Not really uncommon. We went into the arena, and I had every intention of doing something with her. The gate and the door at the end of the ring were open. Phantom will spot an open gate within 2.5 seconds of entering the area. She was really hoping we were going to go out that gate. Two laps of walking later, I agreed with her. I just didn't have it in me to school, and it was going to be the last day without rain for a few days. So out we went for a walk.
That was the night of the cool sky.
It didn't last very long. I hadn't planned for it, so neither of us were wearing bug spray. The mosquitos were out and looking to feed. I managed about 25 minutes before I decided I'd had enough.

The next day, it rained. So I baked.
Like, literally, all day.
The day after that, it rained. And I had a family obligation.

I had done my errands on Thursday, so that I could have Friday free for horse stuff all day. Unfortunately, the couch beckoned and I had a nap with really weird dreams in the afternoon. So I didn't get out to the barn until the evening.

My plan was to ride Cisco, since he's usually pretty even-tempered and the worst he does is get fast. Phantom was going to need a play before I got on her again. Two days of standing under the shelter trying to stay out of the rain leaves her with way too much silliness.

When I slipped through the fence to grab Cisco, he came trotting up to me with his head up in the air. I haltered him, led him towards the gate, and he tried to bite me on the arm. Yeah, somebody else needed a chance to play.

There was definitely some sass in there.

And I was totally right about Phantom - she needed a good run.
According to her, she mostly needed to graze. Also - note the dirt on her back. I didn't feel like grooming.
So yeah. Not much happened through the week.

The good news is that I have another week of vacation coming up in 3 weeks. Maybe I'll achieve something that week. Other than napping.

Thursday 20 June 2019

The Great Ciscini

Cisco is a smart pony. He's also very mouthy when he's tied up in the barn. Blankets folded up on stall fronts last about 3.2 seconds before they are being flung through the air.

He's also kind of figured out how to untie himself.

It's not a new thing - it's happened on a few random occasions. It usually happens if I leave the barn for a few minutes while he is tied up (for example, taking Phantom out first).
How he showed up when he untied himself last summer.

My routine with Cisco is this: he gets ridden, untacked and groomed. Then he gets fed. I go down to my tack stall at the end of the barn, mix his feed into a rubber dish, and bring it back to him down in the aisle.

The last two times I was out, I popped into the stall to prep his dish after grooming and I hear hoof sounds on the cement. I look down the aisle, and guess who is on his way to get his food, trailing his lead shank? This has happened twice in a row!
That's Cisco in the doorway. He was tied up by the grooming kit at the bottom of the picture.

I haven't actually seen how he unties himself.  I know he does a lot of head flipping, which can do it. He also has this thing he does where he circles his nose under the shank and then flips it up. And once I saw him chewing in the end of the lead.

The last time, it took him only seconds to get loose. I want to know how!

I ordered a cell phone tripod mount so that I can use my Gorilla Pod and my phone to catch him in the act. I have a feeling that since Mr. Smartypants has been rewarded after untying himself by getting fed that this is going to continue.

It will be easy to stop. I bought a trailer tie with a panic snap on the end just for this reason. But I really want to see how he does it first! I hope to have the hidden camera set up this weekend and get some damning evidence!

Wednesday 19 June 2019

(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday

Last night I returned to the barn from a late evening hack on Phantom and looked up to a beautiful sky of pink and purple clouds. My cell phone camera did not do the clouds justice. 

It was the calm before the storm - today has been full of thunderstorms and rain. 

I wish I had shot these in RAW instead of JPEG so that I could play with them a bit. The colours were changing too fast to mess around with settings though!

Tuesday 18 June 2019

Sports Bras Reviews

One of the most important parts of a rider's wardrobe is a good sports bra. Sitting the trot without any support is not comfortable or pretty - no one wants to see "two badgers engaged in mortal combat" as so eloquently described on a recent Facebook post about her brassiere failure while giving a demonstration ride.

As I gained some extra fluff over the last few years, I've had to make adjustments to what type of support I prefer. I like the girls to be locked in place with no movement. I don't mind a tight bra, and I prefer to wear underwire, for the support and also for the shape - I dislike the dreaded monoboob.

Full disclosure - my bra size is 36D. My boobs are full on top and fairly high up. If yours are different you might not like the same kind of bra as I do.

So here are the bras that I have and my opinion of them.

Moving Comfort Fiona and Maia bras
The new version by Brooks.
These were the first bras that I bought about 7 or 8 years ago when I starting riding again. I was also trying to be a runner at the time and needed a high impact bra for that activity. I liked them so much that I ended up owning about 5 of them (mostly bought on sale). They wore very well through many washings. The straps were adjustable using Velcro. All of these bras that I own are a size too small from my current bra size - they are still wearable, but there is a bit of boob overflow at the top, and on one of them the straps Velcro up at the very end and might come undone while I'm wearing it. They are out of my regular rotation at the moment but I'm not going to get rid of them.

Moving Comfort was bought out by Brooks a couple of years ago, and I've read that that new versions are not as good as the old versions, so YMMV.

The Panache Sport Bra

When I decided that I needed to go up a bra size, this was the bra that I bought. I tried it on at a trade show and took it home. I absolutely love this bra - unfortunately, not for riding. Likely because I am short-torsoed, I need to put the straps in the racer-back configuration in order to get full support for high-impact activities. The straps then put a strain on my collarbones and become very uncomfortable.

For everyday wear though, this bra is fantastic. It's comfortable and supportive enough that nothing bounces when speed walking or going down the stairs, and since it has underwire and encapsulation, it keeps the girls up and perky. If I could afford them I would happily pick up a couple more and wear them every day to work. They cost about $80, but I've seen them on Amazon for about $45.

I know that this bra is a favourite for many riders. I love it for everyday, just not for riding.

Wacoal High Impact Sports Bra
Kind of similar to the Panache bra, but I like this one for riding. Underwire, encapsulating cups. No monoboob here. Fits true to size. They run about $90, but I picked them up on clearance for about $50 (for Canadian viewers, keep an eye on The Bay's website). I liked it so much that I bought a second one. These are probably my current favourite for riding.

I have a different Wacoal sports bra that has a zipper front and racerback - it doesn't seem to be available anymore. Super supportive, but the band is tight. Okay for the amount of time I would be out at the barn, but I wouldn't want to wear it all day.

Freya Sonic Spacer Underwire Sports Bra

I managed to find this one on Amazon for about $30. I wasn't sure what it would be like for riding, but I figured it could at least be a backup for the Panache bra for everyday use. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I like it.

The inside of the cups are different than any other bra. They have almost a sling around the outside of the cup (on the inside) that is made of non-stretch material that supports your boob. It feels like a bit of a light-weight bra but does a really good job of supporting through a ride. I always forget that I'm wearing this one, which is the mark of a good bra.

It's not perfect - the underwire sometimes digs a bit into my arm, and if I've worn it for 8 hours I'm happy to take it off. But for riding, I don't mind it at all.

Knixwear Catalyst Sports Bra
I have a love/hate relationship with this bra.

It's the most expensive of the bunch - I paid about $85 for it. Knixwear doesn't have traditional bra sizing, so I used the chart and decided to order the recommended size 5.

When I put it on for the first time, I could barely pull the two pieces together to hook them up. (For sports bras, I hook them up in front of me by my waist and then turn them and pull the straps up over my arms. Good sports bras don't have much stretch in them and are hard to do up behind you with no stretch.) But I got it done and wore it out to the barn that night.

And thought it was going to be a dud. The hook for the straps sat right on top of my shoulder blade and bugged the hell out of me. But it seemed supportive enough, so I figured I would keep trying it.

That problem went away after the first wear. Not sure why - I think I adjusted the height of the straps, so maybe that did it.

The bra is very comfortable, and although it doesn't have underwire, I have no complaints about the support.

I do have a couple of concerns about it. First - remember how I could barely pull it together to hook it up on the first wearing? Well, it has stretched over the last 6 months with fairly minimal wear so that now I sometimes do it up on the second set of hooks. I question its longevity. Second - the height of the straps adjust by slotting the hooks into a slot on a tab at the back. The hooks come out very easily. Every time I wash it (in a mesh bag in the washing machine) the straps come undone, and one strap came undone between riding horses one day.

So I'm torn on this one. I like it, and will keep wearing it. But I don't know that I would buy another one (maybe at half price) or even recommend it.

Monday 17 June 2019

Help, Mr. Tappy!

I've been having good rides on Cisco lately.

Not good rides, as in he's magically turned into a fancy prancing dressage pony, but good, in that we're having moments.  I mean, we're also having lots of trot really fast towards the gate moments, and the lovely left lead tranter moments too. But in between those icky moments we're getting those moments when he stretches down at a trot, or he does a soft walk/trot transition, or we get a right bend.
Cisco's got a bit of a mohawk on the top of his head - a result of having to use the clippers blindly to trim his bridlepath since he's not real keen about them up by his ears. He was much better last time though.
For Sunday's ride, I was originally thinking of working on cantering over a pole since I need to try to jump him again this week. But since the arena was cleared of jumps I decided that this was the day to do a bit of work on our leg yields.

I totally admit that I've kind of neglected them so far with Cisco. I've had moments that I've asked for them, and he's given me a decent attempt, but it is so not ingrained yet and it needs to be.

I carried Mr. Tappy instead of Mr. Spanky to help with the leg yields and hopefully also the tranter. It's been a while since Mr. Tappy has come out, and it took Cisco a few minutes to realize that the presence of Mr. Tappy did not mean that we were immediately cantering and that he was fully capable of not bulging away from whatever side it was being held on.
He had a good, dirt grinding roll after his shower. 
The leg yield was quite good at a trot off the right leg, not that surprising since I've had to do more work off this leg trying to not let him drop his shoulder to the right in upwards transitions. The first leg yield off the left was non-existant, but after a reminder at the walk and with the assistance of Mr. Tappy something started happening. That's also my bad side, so that's not going to help.

He was much better about picking up his left lead tranter, and Mr. Tappy helped to turn it into a canter much faster than Mr. Spanky was able to do. I'll definitely be carrying the long Mr. Tappy for the next little while.
I also washed Cisco's tail. It's getting pretty white these days (when it's clean).
Sunday's ride also had what was probably the most relaxed canter we've had so far. Cisco is finally settling into his rhythm. Our steering to the left has a long ways to go still, but at least he isn't feeling so rushed.

I'm aware that all of our problems are related to lack of consistency. If he was ridden 5 days a week we'd be far more ahead in this game - I wouldn't have a fresh horse for half of the rides that had to be worked down. But that's not going to happen these days, and slow progress will be the result. So be it. I'm enjoying the journey.

Saturday 15 June 2019

From Blah to Bling

When I got my new Wow saddle back in March, I realized that I could finally buy pretty saddle pads again. I was sick of the black saddle pads that I had been using for the last few years, as they were all specialty pads and I couldn't afford more than necessary.

So what did I do? I went and bought the Lemieux pad that I've been coveting for a few years. In purple - well, blackcurrant, to be specific.
Sadly, the shape of the pad is not a good match for my saddle.
What did I buy next?

A black pad.

When you have a saddle with ridiculously small flaps, standard sized saddle pads don't fit very well. I decided to look into pony saddle pads. I could use the regular length along the spine as my seat is a 17", but need the flap to be short and not very forward.
Not your standard looking jump saddle.
I found a local place that was closing out and had these simple pony pads on clearance for about $12 each, so I ordered one in black and one in white. The only other colour that was available was yellow - no, thank you.

However, I didn't want to use a plain, black saddle pad. If I don't have colour, I want some bling.
Still can't decide if these are amazing or hideous.

On Friday I got my craft on. And here is the result.

It doesn't really photograph well, but the circles are done in a mint green glitter. It's a heat transfer vinyl, and I'm hoping that it adhered properly - saddle pads are tricky with the quilting. Time will tell!

I still have to do the white one, but I have plans for it. I love this Equestrian Stockholm saddle pad, but I really don't love the price.
So I'm thinking of something with a similar design. The question is what trim to use. I've found a few different faux leather PU trims, but I'm not sure about how washable they will be. I also found some vintage lace that might look really pretty. We'll see what I decide!

Thursday 13 June 2019

1.15 Rides

Well, I got both ponies ridden on Wednesday. Sort of.

Cisco definitely got ridden. He hasn't been ridden in a week (I think). We're past the point where I need to lunge him in this situation, but he's going to be a bit silly for the first part of the ride. Sure enough, he walked calmly around the arena, but was calling to someone outside. When we picked up a trot, he was extra zoomy heading towards the open door and the barn.

Thankfully it was warm out and that helped him decide pretty quickly that extra energy should probably be conserved.
Poor boy broke a sweat.
Someone had over watered large chunks of the arena. There were big circles that were soaking wet and slippery. The jumps were all set up to avoid these areas, so that didn't leave very good lines to be able to steer around. Especially at a canter on an unbalanced horse.

So this meant that our canter was limited to mostly one end and up the long side on one side.

To the left Cisco has developed a lovely tranter over the last couple of rides. I'm not sure if it is a physical reason or just a lack of forward and balance reason. He's much stronger and comfortable on his right lead, and getting that lead has become reliable. The left has become the problem. (Dammit - I ride way better to the right,)

So we just worked on getting the lead (easy when his shoulder isn't bulging in, hard when he anticipates and it is) and then going forward up the long side before we got into the muck. It got better through the ride - the first couple were ugly.
Not sure if the slobber is because he worked hard or because he grabbed a mouthful of grass on our way into the arena.
Phantom was a sort of ride. I got on her, did our 10 minutes of walk. Picked up the trot, and she tried to take off with me 6 times in the first two laps of the arena.

The first time was somewhat justifiable - someone was zooming around outside the arena door mowing the grass. I knew it was coming, so was ready for it.
One of the crop arena circles of mud.
The second time it was at the opposite end of the arena - she might have seen the mower pop past the door behind her. She scooted. Then she scooted again because of the clump of dirt she kicked up with the first scoot.

Then she tried it in the next corner that is the corner she likes to bolt out of when in such a mood (which is rare, but it's always the same corner). I went back to the end by the door and circled, staying away from being able to see out the door, and she scooted twice on the circle.

It only gets worse if I try to ride through it. So I didn't.

I still had the arena to myself, so I hopped off, stripped her down, and grabbed the lunge whip. She had a few good gallops and hopefully got it out of her system.

I kind of expected it honestly - she was pretty perky on Sunday when I managed to get in a short ride that probably didn't take off any edge. We'll see if we can get that energy out of her over the next week!

Tuesday 11 June 2019

25 Questions

Since there hasn't been much happening with the horses and I'm not moving off the couch for the night, I'm joining the Viva Carlos blog hop!

1. What is the first thing you do when you get to the barn?
Since my guys are on outdoor board, they only get fed their grain when I am out. They are both chunkers who get a scoop of ration balancer and a bit of beet pulp - Phantom because her supplements will stick better to it, and Cisco because he forgets to swallow and chokes on his food. So the first thing I do is make up their food with hot water so that it is ready to feed when I need it.

2. Is there a breed you would never own?
I can't see me owning a draft horse - I'm short, and my little legs would never get around the horse. I also can't see myself owning a saddlebred - saddle seat just isn't my thing, although I would like to try it one day.
What I would look like on a draft.
3. Describe your last ride.
My last ride was on Phantom this weekend. I had a whole 25 minutes to be in the saddle. She was pretty perky and felt good - since it was a short ride I didn't have much of a goal, just to get her moving. I did try to sit a bit more left than normal on the left lead canter (I tend to get thrown to the right) and it seemed to help me keep my connection - but my girth wasn't tight enough and my saddle definitely still slid right. Oops.

4. Have any irrational riding fears?
I don't think I have irrational fears, just the normal ones that get worse as you get older - basically, falling and getting hurt. Little jumps look big these days, but that's mostly just because I haven't jumped very much over the last couple of decades. That's the one thing I'd really like to work on.
I had to put my big girl pants on for this teeny crosspole.  Which I fell off over the next day.
5. Describe your favourite lesson horse.
It's been so long since I've ridden a lesson horse! Like, only a few times over the last 30 years? So I have no answer to this one!

6. Would you ever lease out your horse?
Definitely yes. I would like to find a half-leaser for Phantom - she's not getting ridden enough, and of course to help with expenses. But it would have to be the right person.

7. Mares: yay or neigh?
I've owned two mares and two geldings. They have all been very different in personality and I've loved all of them. I just wouldn't want a horse who is crabby and doesn't want to be with me - doesn't matter what sex it is.
Sunflower was the first mare. She was pretty chill about almost everything in life.
8. How many times per week do you get to see your horse?
Most weeks between 3 and 5. Some weeks adulting gets in the way, other weeks I get out more. It all depends on life.

9. Favourite thing to do on an "easy day" with your pony?
An easy day would be spent going for a relaxing hack at a walk somewhere around the property, then returning to spend a bit of time at the spa, maybe working on some fun clicker training stuff while drying off, and some hand grazing before turning back out. And stuffing both of us with lots of treats.

10. Conformational flaw that bothers you the most.
If we are talking true conformational faults that the horse is born with - feet issues. They will cause so many problems in the long run, so listen to your farrier and get a horse with the best feet you can find.
If we are talking musculature, I don't like to see a horse with a pencil neck that's muscled on the underneck and a hunter bump. That indicates to me that your horse isn't being ridden correctly and you are probably taking shortcuts. The good thing is that this can change with proper work.

11. Thing about your riding that you are most self-conscious about?
I'm pretty confident about my own riding, and I'm also at the age where I don't really care what others think about me. So I'm not really self-conscious about what others may think about my riding.
However, I'm very aware of what my body is doing when I'm riding. My left hand likes to hang on the rein, my right arm likes to allow too much when it's the outside rein, my right hip and leg stay forward. So I'm very conscious and constantly thinking about these issues as I ride.

12. Will you be participating in no-stirrup November?
I have surgery scheduled for October 29th to have my thyroid removed, so I probably won't be riding for at least the first couple weeks of November. Then work starts ramping up and I generally only manage to get out to the barn once a week for a few weeks so I just don't really get much riding in.
And I'm old and just don't work that hard these days.

13. What is your grooming routine?
Curry the body with either the Hands On grooming gloves (Phantom) or the Haas Der Gute curry comb (Cisco). Dandy with the Haas Schimmel brush (both horses). When time allows, body brush (Phantom - Haas Red Star, Cisco - Haas Fellglanz). Phantom gets her faced scrubbed with the grooming gloves then a dandy brush, Cisco gets his face gently brushed with the Haas Head brush - the only one he allows on his face.
When Phantom has a layer of dust all over her after currying, I'll usually wipe her down with a sheepskin mitt. I also use a baby wipe to remove the crud that has inevitably run from her left eye and gotten crusty (her pink rimmed eye tends to run).
Hooves get picked and I apply Keratex Hoof Hardener as I feel is needed over the summer months. Both horses are a bit thin soled and don't like to walk on gravel.
I don't touch manes or tails on a regular basis or use any type of coat conditioner. In summer I'll apply fly spray.
Love me the Hands On grooming gloves.

14. Describe a day in the life of your horse?
Both my horses are easy keepers who are in diet pens. So they live for their food.
Phantom lives with three other teenagers, who all get along pretty good with little drama. Nap time is late morning, followed by hanging out in the shelter, then waiting by the fence for dinner that will be served sometime within the next two hours. They want to be ready for it.
Cisco lives with two mares that boss him around, and a gelding that he tries to boss around. His nap time isn't consistent. He spends a fair amount of time standing at the fence chatting with the girls in the paddock next to him, who always seem to be in heat.
Both horses are dry lotted since they are air ferns. I really wish that they had way more space to play in, but they both would not do well on grass. I'm pretty sure that Phantom would have metabolic issues and get laminitis, and Cisco would look perpetually in foal.
Naps are important.

15. Favourite season for riding?
Definitely fall.
I had about 3 years of not having a horse after I lost Farly in 2006. I pretty well stayed away from everything horses, but every fall the urge to ride was very strong and I would find myself on the internet looking at my options. When I started to ride again, it was in the fall.
The weather in the fall is what I'm most comfortable in, the flies are mostly gone, and there's something wonderful about trotting and cantering through the fallen leaves.

16. If you could only have one ring, indoor or outdoor?
Living in the Great White North, an indoor gets far more use than an outdoor. I'm quite happy to school out in a field outside instead of a groomed ring if need be, so I can do without an outdoor ring.
I don't want to have to dress like this to ride.
17. What impresses you most about the opposite discipline (english vs. western)?
Like all horse disciplines, there are things that I like and don't like about them. For western, I like how the horses seem to be mostly quiet and relaxed, which might have more to do with the selection of horse (mostly quarter horses) than anything else.

18. You have unlimited funds to buy one entire tack set for your horse, what is he/she wearing?
I don't think there is a particular brand that I covet. I would just want something that fits both the horse and me - I don't know who is harder to fit.
I do tend to like the newer styles of anatomically fitting bridles, breastplates and girths, so most likely I would look for something a bit un-traditional.
And I'm a sucker for reptile print leather, so any embellishments would probably be crocodile print. And patent.
Or blue.
19. How many blankets do you have? When do you blanket?
I don't know if I want to tally this. Here goes.
Rambo Duo and a bunch of liners.
Shedrow winter blanket with liners.
Weatherbeeta rain sheet x 3.
Older green rainsheet
Navy Shedrow rainsheet
Bucas Smartex winter blanket
Bucas Smartex rainsheet
Bucas Power winter blanket
Pessoa Tundra winter blanket
BMB winter stable blankets x 2
Rambo whitney striped sheet
Blue nylon sheet of some brand
Kensington fly sheets x 3
Rambo Protector fly sheet
Shedrow fly sheet (needs repairs)
Weatherbeeta Duramesh fly sheet
Bucas fly sheet (needs repairs)
Baker sheet
Baker style blanket
Eskadron rain sheet (for tacked up horses)
Square wool cooler
Bucas cooler
Wool shaped cooler
Polar fleece coolers x 2 (maybe 3?)
Boeckmann jersey cooler that came with my trailer

I think that's it but I probably missed something. I've had three horses in a row who are all pretty well the same size, so most of Farly's blankets from 20 years ago still fit the current ponies. Since Farly was always the dominant horse in turnout he was very easy on his blankets and they are all in very good condition. Cisco has been hard on his blankets, so the Kensington fly sheets are worn over his blankets as a suit of armor. They've definitely taken a hit over the last two years, but they've done their job.
I primarily blanket over the winter since it gets so cold here, and when it's wet and cool in the spring and fall. Dry and cool they are naked, and I try not to put fly sheets on as much as possible over the summer. Phantom gets overly sensitive about flies touching her if she's covered up and it's a pain in the butt when I ride outside. If the mosquitos get bad then I will blankets them.
Some major dents in the armor.
20. What is your horses favourite treat? Where do they like to be scratched?
Phantom's favourite treat is whatever one she is being offered. She's not picky.
Cisco will eat most horse things happily, but he's unsure about fruit or baked goods. Cookies are fine however.
Phantom loves her face scratched - especially after her fly mask has been removed. She's happy to have a good scrubbing with a flexible curry over her head.
Cisco is all about wither and neck scratches. When I grab mane to get on he sometimes moves his neck up and down like he's getting it scratched.
Who doesn't like homemade cookies?
21. Something about your barn that drives you crazy?
My barn feeds hay only twice a day. Since my guys are not on free choice, I really wish that they got another feeding later in the evening.
The barn doesn't have a dedicated grooming area, so we have to tie in front of stalls in the aisle. No biggie, the barn is not usually that busy so it's not usually crowded with horses. The tack lockers are at one end of the barn, after a single stall that is used for more tack storage. My tack box is in this stall. And inevitably, someone has their horse tied up there, because it's closer to the tack lockers and they are too lazy to walk down the aisle. So I have to walk around their horse and move him out of the way (because the human is never there) to go in and out of the stall for my stuff. This spot is also right next to the overhead door, so when you are coming or going in winter and have to open and close the door it's awkward to position your horse so that you can get the door.

22. Roached manes, pulled manes, or long flowing manes?
Tidily shortened manes that look pulled but weren't are my thing these days. A properly pulled mane looks the best to me. Phantom wants to run me over if I try to pull her mane, so I haven't pulled her mane in years. I use a mane rake to thin it and scissors to even it out. Cisco has very fine hair and a fairly thin mane, so I don't pull his either.
I love this mane rake. Stupidly expensive, but so worth it.
23. Can you handle a buck or rear better?
Buck. Rearing scares the crap out of me.
I can likely sit out a buck - well, the first few. Haven't had to in a while though - Phantom is a terrible bucker even without someone on her back, and Cisco hasn't really thought about it yet. Farly used to have a good buck though, and got me off a couple of times, but I sat out the majority of them. His bucks were done in joy so weren't done with the intention of getting me off.
Phantom's version of a buck. Hind leg towards ear. 

24. I would never buy a horse who ___________?
Cribs? Is crabby? Is a known significant rehab case? Has killed someone? Is pregnant? Has obvious hoof issues?

25. Favourite facial marking?
I have a thing for chestnuts with blazes. I've known a few good horses with this marking.
Otherwise, I like really asymmetric face markings and snips.
Farly is the reason for my thing about chestnuts with blazes.

Monday 10 June 2019

Horses Later.

There wasn't much happening on the horse front this weekend.

Well, my horses.
Phantom is happy to be neglected and covered in mud.

I taught 6 hours of up/down lessons on Saturday. I swung by to see my kids on the way home but was too exhausted to do anything more than feed them.
Almost at the barn on Saturday afternoon - this was the view out my left window.
Thankfully, I was turning right towards the blue skies.

On Sunday morning I managed to get in a very short ride on Phantom before teaching another lesson, and then heading home for a quick shower and off to work. I put in 25,000 steps for the day - and my feet felt it!
I really wanted to sleep in on Sunday morning too, Cisco, but somebody's got to work to make some money!
It was a late night on Sunday followed by an early morning on Monday, which meant that I sat on the couch for most of the evening in a somewhat comatose state watching Drag Race on Netflix. Real productive.
Kinda how I feel.
The rest of the week should be pretty clear starting on Wednesday, and then I have the week off next week.

So for now I rest and put my poor achy feet up and try not to buy anything online. I'll pay a vet bill instead.