Wednesday 27 November 2019

Black Friday Deals in Canada 2019

I've spent far too much money lately. So let me help you spend yours!

Here's a list of Canadian online equine retailers who are having sales this weekend. I'm sure your local tack shop is also having a sale - make sure you check them out too!

Have fun shopping!

Bonnets by Sandy - 30% off any bonnet with black on it. Nov 29 only.

Frontier Western Shop - 15% off, online or in-store. Nov 29 only

Next Gen Saddlery - 15% off storewide. Nov 29 - Dec 2

Sprucewood Tack - 15% off storewide. Buy 3 clearance items get one free online. Nov 29 - Dec 2

Wilton Tack - tax free storewide. Nov 29 - Dec 1.

Bakers Saddlery - 10% off with code BLACKFRIDAY10. Nov 29 - Dec 1.

Summerside Tack - 15% off storewide. 30% off select Thinline saddle pads. Free shipping on all orders. Nov 29 - Nov 30.

Bahr Saddlery - save the tax. Nov 29 only

Solo Equine - all dressage bridles on sale. Nov 29 only.

NAG Bags - sale starts Nov 29.

Pleasant Ridge Saddlery - sale starts Nov 29.

On The Bit Tack - discounts on select in-stock LeMieux, Ariat, Scharf and BR Equestrian. Nov 27 - Dec 2.

Tack Shoppe of Collingwood - 20% off storewide. Nov 29 - Dec 2.

Equestrian Factory Outfitters - up to 50% off almost everything. Nov 29 - Dec 2.

Knixwear - 20-50% off everything.  Nov 25 - ?

Willow Equestrian


Tuesday 26 November 2019

It's That Time Of Year Again


The time of year that all I do is work. If I'm not working, I'm probably sleeping, or wanting to sleep but it's too early and if I sleep now I won't sleep all night.

The ponies have taken a back seat for the next four weeks. I managed to ride Cisco once last week, and he was wonderful and I have Pixio footage from it. But like my other post that I've written about my first ride with the Pixio that has been almost but not quite completed for the last ten days, it might not get written about.

The Pixio is great so far. A couple of glitches for me to figure out that should be related to where my beacons and camera are placed. But nothing I couldn't deal with if I can't figure it out. Editing the video at the end of the night sucks though. And it hasn't happened.

I had great plans for today, my one day off in the week. But I woke up feeling crappy, same as last week on my day off. I was hoping to ride this evening, but between the crappy feelingness, the new snow we got overnight, and the fact that it's getting cold again, I don't know if I'll be feeling it later today. Not to mention that I'm pretty sure both of my horses won't be super sound. We had some rain, and then it froze, so the ground is either super icy or frozen chunky. The arthritic old horse will be stiff from tip-toeing around and the thin-soled young horse will be foot sore.

Today is probably going to mostly be a sit in front of the computer and start playing Planet Zoo. And maybe finish up those Pixio blog posts.

But don't count on it.

Wednesday 13 November 2019

Stiff Legs

As soon as it got cold this fall, Phantom decided that she was old and feeling her age. She did the same thing last year. I was hoping that by getting her hocks injected this past August she wouldn't feel so creaky this winter. But nope. It got chilly, she got stiff.

I hadn't ridden her in at least three weeks. Cisco is actually the more reliable of the two - Phantom can get a bit silly when she's full of herself. Cisco is generally the same every day, which is what I wanted for my first few rides back.

But I decided that I would hop on Phantom on Tuesday. I planned ahead and let her loose in the arena on Monday to get rid of any potential sillies.
Guess who had a good roll first?
The old gray mare moved like she was old. She wasn't too enthusiastic about doing much. Well, she did a short canter with a horribly uncomfortable downward transition and I could see her rethinking getting the zoomies. Her old lady hocks were bothering her.

I definitely need to get her looked at. I'm thinking I'll see if I can get some Previcox for her and give her that when I'm going to ride, at least in the winters. She was pretty good while it was warm in the summer.

For my ride on Tuesday, since I don't yet have Previcox, I gave Phantom some bute before getting her ready. She was also a bit stocked up in her hind legs, more so on the left than the right. That's new.

When I got on she was definitely taking short and tight steps. We walked around on a loose rein for about 15 minutes and it got better as we got going.

I was expecting her trot to start off terrible. But she actually felt pretty good! Well, she felt pretty even, at least. It took a while before she started to work into the contact, but I had no expectations for the ride so I wasn't worried. I just wanted to see how she felt and get her moving around.

I did a quick canter each way and ended the ride there. I didn't want to overdo things, and I hadn't given her any Ventipulmin and I could hear her breathing was a little laboured. I was happy with what she gave me. Phantom's fat hind legs also looked much better post-ride.

I was also happy that I didn't feel like I had no strength on this ride. This is the first ride after the surgery where I felt almost normal.

Until I can get her looked at, I guess I'll keep her on the gram of bute when she gets ridden - not that she'll get ridden much in the next few weeks. I was already planning on giving her some bute for her farrier appointment next week since she was fussy last time she got done.

I was telling someone last week that if Phantom were a human she would live in Lululemon clothing and Uggs because they are comfortable (and expensive). This horse has no stoicism and does not like to be uncomfortable. A princess should be pampered!

Tuesday 12 November 2019

Warm Thighs

Winter has most definitely arrived to the Canadian prairies.

Alberta had the dubious honour of being the coldest place on earth this weekend (not our first time to get this award). We had a high of +7 celsius on Friday, rain during the day on Friday, snow overnight and falling temperatures through to Saturday night, where it hit a low of -19.6 celsius (felt like -26). And by Wednesday, it's supposed to be back up to +5.
There was no snow two days earlier. 

Go home Mother Nature. You're drunk.

On Friday I bundled the ponies up in their snowsuits and made sure I had groceries in the house just in case the roads were crap. They were. So I spent far too much time on the couch and on the internet over the weekend.

By Monday it had started to warm up a bit and the roads weren't atrocious. I went out to the barn in the evening for a ride. And I took a new/old piece of kit to try out during my ride.

When I first started riding, my coach foxhunted. She had this wool cape/poncho that she would wear when the weather was crappy. My mom copied it and made one for me. I never really wore it that much - I never really needed the extra warmth.
Not a picture of the actual poncho, but think this but longer.
Last week, I remembered it's existence in a closet at Pony Grandma's house. I thought it might be worth a try to see if it would keep me warmer when I rode in the winter. Specifically, keep my thighs and butt warmer.

Because I was on the internet all weekend, I rediscovered riding skirts. And got really excited about them. Pony Grandma and I went to the fabric store on my only outing this weekend and picked up material to make one. She has some mad sewing skills, and really, it's just a fleece-lined poodle skirt with a zipper down the front. It shouldn't be too difficult to make.
It's going to be gray softshell with a silver lynx/tiger lining. It's going to be beautiful.
When I went out to ride on Monday evening, I decided to try the wool poncho to see if it would keep my thighs warm. The arena was a balmy -4 celsius - cold enough that my legs would usually be chilled while I rode.

I didn't think Cisco would have a problem with me wearing it, but I made sure first. I just draped it behind the saddle while I mounted, then as we walked around I brought up one side, then the other. I don't know if he noticed at all.

It definitely worked. My legs and butt were totally comfortable through my ride. When I got off the coldest part of me was my feet, and I never have to worry about having cold feet.

Unfortunately, I didn't like riding in the poncho. It was just as I feared - too bulky. The top part of my body was too warm, despite only having a couple of the middle buttons done up at the front. Then the wool would pull backwards and the poncho rode up in front. Not to mention that changing my short whip from one hand to the other was a little awkward.

In a pinch for something warm to wear, I would use it again. But now I'm super stoked for the riding skirt. It will definitely keep my legs warm, and I can wear whatever layers I need to on my top half to stay comfortable. Plus I can wear the skirt over my breeches when I'm doing chores - when I went out to feed hay after riding my thighs froze.

Hopefully Pony Grandma is able to get it made really soon!

Saturday 9 November 2019

Saturday Snowed In Santa List

Since I'm snowed in this weekend, I guess it's time to make my Christmas list!

One thing won't be on my list for this year  - the Pixio - because I ordered it yesterday! They have a promo for the next week of 60€ off, which is about $90 Canadian dollars. That's probably the best deal that I'll find so I jumped on it!

What else do I want need? My list is actually pretty small this year.

Saddle pads. Man, there are some pretty ones these days. And they come at a pretty price too.
Equestrian Stockholm - faded fushia

PS of Sweden - Jade
I've spent my morning looking at winter riding skirts. I have a hard time dressing my bottom half in clothing that lets me move but is warm enough that my thighs don't take 4 hours to thaw out when I get home. I'm really liking the idea of a riding skirt. These ones by Arctic Horse would be just the ticket.

Does the scenery come with the skirt?
They are a little too pricey for my liking - this skirt would be about $300 Canadian. If I was sure that I would ride in it a bunch, I would pay the money - it's only a little more than a pair of Pikeur breeches. I talked to Pony Grandma to see if she thinks it would be doable to make and she feels confident that it would be (basically a modified circle skirt). We're going to price out fabric and see if it's worthwhile to make at home.

And you know what? That's it. 

I would like to get some custom boots for myself (my short, wide legs will need custom). But I'm hoping to lose some more weight so they will be at least a year out. 

Same reasoning behind not wanting to buy any clothing. 

A kinda horse-related purchase that I might have to make will be a new computer. My laptop is getting slower and I don't know how well it will do with the video from the Pixio. Not to mention that half the time that I want to type an "o" I have to stand on it to get it to work. I think this time I will go with a desktop - I would just need the tower and would get more bang for my buck. Hopefully, I won't need it for a while though.

Otherwise, I want to save my money and make this next year a year of education. I want to try to get some regular lessons again. I might not manage weekly, but bi-weekly will be my goal.

Since there's not much on my list, I fully expect Santa to bring me everything. Got that, jolly man??

Friday 8 November 2019


Before I went out to the barn on Thursday I was determined to clean Cisco's bridle and breastplate that I had brought home to work on in the comfort of my living room (and in front of the tv). I hate cleaning strap goods - I will happily clean multi saddles before I will clean a bridle.
My tack cleaning nest in my living room.
Thus when I finally clean them, I do them properly. Take it apart, go over everything with just water first, then with saddle soap, and if needed, a conditioner. It takes a while.
One set done. Many to go.
I got out to the barn in the middle of the afternoon and grabbed Cisco. I was feeling pretty good after finally getting a proper sleep (aided by a muscle relaxant in the hopes of fending off another migraine) so I was optimistic about having a decent ride.

That all changed when I got on and realized I had no strength. I tried to put my left leg on him as we walked away from the mounting block and could barely apply pressure. Okay then. This ride was just going to be about using balance to stay on.

I managed some trot that wasn't atrocious. Lots of walk breaks where I rested my hands on the pommel and just let the horse carry me around. Then tried a canter. One circle each direction. I was a wet noodle in the saddle. No strength in my body to be of any help to the horse.

Total saddle time was about 35 minutes. It felt much longer.

That ride did me in. I was noodle-y for the rest of the day.
I spent my evening curled up on my couch wearing The Comfy Original Blanket Sweatshirt. This thing is super toasty and warm (and so not flattering!). I luvs it!

Wednesday 6 November 2019

Celebration Ride

I had an appointment with my family doctor yesterday, and she had the pathology report. The results - negative for malignancy! No cancer!

This was the best possible outcome for the circumstances. I mean, no one wants to hear that a part of them was cancerous, but then there's the realization that we took out an organ that didn't need to come out. No perfect win-win either way. However in order to get to this conclusion at least half of the thyroid had to be removed, and I've been on Synthroid for a few years already, and with the removal of the whole thing I'll just be taking a different dose of the same medication.

And most importantly, I won't have to do any other treatments, which means that I won't have to be radioactive for a few days at a time.

So I celebrated by getting on and going for a ride last night.

Ignore the mane of many lengths. 
I did a quick grooming on Cisco. I was trying not to use up all my energy before I got on the horse, but my plan was slightly foiled. Phantom has lost a bit of weight again so I brought her in to eat some alfalfa cubes while I was riding. She came in with a big ball of snow on one foot that I had to remove before I could put her in the very lightly bedded stall. And I could not get that snowball out. I ended up grabbing my hairdryer and melting part of it until I could get the hoof pick under it enough to flip it out.

When I settled my butt in the tack, I felt the weakness in my body. Really, my only goal for the ride was to walk for 10 minutes, and anything above that was a bonus.

After wandering around on a loose rein, I decided to try a trot. Thankfully Cisco was game for it and gave me a relaxed forward trot with a little bit of sass that made me laugh. Some of the lesson kids entered the arena with some dishes of food for their horses post-ride. I'm not sure if Cisco was thinking of spooking at them or slamming on the brakes to try to mug them, but his shoulders bobbled for a couple of steps and then I bobbled and burst out laughing. The perfect release for my stress.

I didn't last long of course. A few minutes of trotting on a loose rein, then I asked him to round a little and drop his nose a bit, which he quite happily did, so I left it there. I still had to get horses put out.

And blankets changed. Because this was the forecast for the night:

Winter has officially hit.

Monday 4 November 2019

It's Never Just a Saddle

It's going to happen verrry, verrry soon.

I'm getting a Pixio.
I got a smallish bonus at work that would pay for about half a Pixio. I added a little bit to the account from sales at the tack show a few weeks ago. I already have a tripod, video camera and bag I can use. So the plan was to wait through the season and see if a sale pops up between now and Christmas. I won't really be riding for the next couple of months, so I can wait if I have to pay regular price.

And then Pony Grandma gave me some news.

She received the last bit of money from my grandfather's estate this summer and was planning on giving it to my brother and I for Christmas. And she wants me to use it on something for myself that I want - not to go towards paying bills. And she knows how much I want that Pixio.

So I'm definitely getting a Pixio!

Now, I already have a tripod that I can use. Two, even. One is my "good" tripod for my DSLR - I don't know if I want to subject that one to the dust in the arena since I often use it in the house. The other one is a cheap, short tripod, that would probably do the job.

But once I set it up to look at it, I don't know if I'm comfortable using it for the Pixio. Do I want to risk the $1500 setup of Pixio and camera with a flimsy weak stand underneath it? Not really.

So I ordered a new tripod to go with the Pixio (that I haven't ordered yet).

I bought the Slik Pro 700DX tripod legs. The legs come highly recommended. I'm not going to put a ballhead on it - the Pixio will screw right onto the legs, and the manufacturer actually doesn't recommend using a ballhead. The tripod doesn't fold up as small as I would like, but at the price I was happy to pay I can either get stable but not compact, or compact but not stable. I'll stick with the stability.

Then I started thinking about the case I would use to keep everything together. I was planning on using an older bag from a no-longer usable camcorder until I could get something better. I had put a price alert on a hard-shelled case from a Canadian chain store as they go on sale quite a bit and I thought that it might be a good option. Sure enough, the next week, they go on sale for 50% off.

I sent Move n' See a message to get measurements of the pieces so that I could figure out what size of case I would need and scoured the internet to see if I could find any pictures from anyone using hard cases for storage. I got an idea of the size that I would need. And looked at other case options.

Originally I was looking at cases with the pluck & pick foam, where you pull out pre-cut foam cubes to make spots to hold the items in the case. And then I remembered that I had that type of foam in my big DSLR case. And I hated it. I was much happier with the options that the padded dividers I swapped it out with gave me.

So now I have a hard-shelled case with padded dividers coming my way for the Pixio I haven't ordered yet.

I ordered a Nanuk 920 case. Similar quality to Pelican cases. I actually like the latches better on them (it's what I have for my DSLR). And it's made in Canada - an added bonus.

I don't have any intention of upgrading the video camera (or so I keep telling myself). They're either entry level $300-450 (which is what I have) and then they jump up to closer to $900. That's far too much money to pay for something that isn't going to make me money.

So, apparently buying a Pixio is like buying a new saddle - it's never just the saddle. It's also a new girth (the old one doesn't fit), stirrup leathers (the old ones are the wrong colour) and a new saddle pad (some sort of $$ specialty pad). There's always hidden costs!

I'm hoping that the Pixio goes on sale in November. I don't know if I can wait much longer!

Friday 1 November 2019

Buh Bye Thyroid!

On Tuesday this week, I had surgery to have a total thyroidectomy to remove my potentially cancerous thyroid. It was exactly one year earlier that I had originally been told that the biopsy of the nodule in my thyroid was malignant, but it turns out that it was unconfirmed. A second biopsy in April came back with the same results - unconfirmed, but about a 30% chance that it was (usually about 5-10% of nodules are cancerous). The original plan was to only remove half the thyroid, but when I told the surgeon that I was already on Synthroid that plan changed to remove the whole thyroid (it already wasn't working properly, it would just be sitting there for more nodules to form in, and if the first half came back cancerous then I would have to undergo a second surgery to remove the remaining half).

I wasn't too worried about the actual surgery. I had a previous co-worker who had the same surgery back in June, with the same surgeon, and a current co-worker who had had this surgeon for a gallbladder surgery a few years ago. I had faith in the abilities of the surgeon. And I had read a few accounts online of people's experience with the surgery, and it generally was a good experience for all. So the actual procedure was not much of a concern to me.

I've been far more concerned with how I will feel over the next couple of months following the surgery. Specifically, tiredness. At work I'm on my feet all day, walking between 13,000 and 18,000 steps a day. And we are just hitting the busy season. Not to mention trying to do something occasionally with the ponies.

I was the lucky winner for my surgery time. I had to arrive at the hospital for 5:45am for surgery at 7:30. Which means everyone involved on my end got little sleep the night before. I was sitting up on the gurney as I was wheeled into the OR. The anesthetist put an IV into my hand (18 gauge needle, which resulted in us talking about horses as I commented on how I use 18 gauges on my horse and he has done large animal anesthesiology), they put a scope up my nose to look at my vocal cords (not pleasant, but manageable), and I don't even remember laying down on the table before I was waking up in recovery, in front of a window of beautiful blue sky at about 10:15. I was shortly transferred to my room for the night.
Shortly after I got to my room. The red face was due to whatever they spread over it to sterilize my skin.
The only pain was a very sore throat due to the intubation. I sipped on lots of ice water and was able to eat some soft foods around 1 pm. I needed some Gravol to help though - I was a bit queasy with the first couple bites of Jell-o, but once the Gravol hit I was pretty ravenous. I hadn't eaten in about 16 hours so I think my system was a bit shocked when I actually fed it.

By 2:30 I was able to pee and then go for a walk around the halls. I had soft foods for supper and some blood pulled sometime in the evening. I hadn't been able to sleep during the day so by about 8pm I was done and settled into my bed.

But I couldn't sleep. I had to sleep with my head at no less than a 30 degree angle to minimize the swelling in my neck. Having to sleep sitting up, on my back, and in a room with two other people who had machines constantly making noises does not make getting rest easy. Not to mention that every time a new nurse came on board they had to take my vitals - but at least I was taken off the IV at around 10pm. Thankfully a nurse gave me some earplugs at some point in the night and they did a pretty good job of blocking out voices - so much so that I missed the party that apparently happened in the hall at one point during the night.

I was woken up at 5am by a tech to have some more blood taken. At that point, I was wide awake so I started to walk the halls. I saw a resident, the surgeon's assistant, and the surgeon by 7:30am. My vitamin D was a bit high in that morning's bloodwork, but thankfully my calcium levels were good (so my parathyroids do not look like they were damaged during the removal of the thyroid). They wanted to pull one more lot of blood to retest the vitamin D before I left.

My only directions were to apply Polysporin to the incision for about 4 days then start using lotion. Doesn't matter what kind, whatever I had on hand would be fine. I had no restrictions given in regards to lifting or activity and thankfully no longer had to sleep propped up.

I went to my parents' house and slept for 3 hours that afternoon. And had a very good sleep that night.

There has been very little pain. I've had a couple of twinges at the incision site, but only a couple. The muscles at the front of my neck were pretty achy by the end of the second day, so I took the only painkiller that I've needed so far - just a regular Tylenol.
The incision has a bit of puffiness above it that will go down over the next little bit.
Otherwise, I kind of feel like I have a head cold, minus the stuffed up face. My head is a bit fuzzy, I've been coughing a lot due to the irritation in my throat and my energy level is low. How much of this is due to undergoing anesthetic, or because my body is trying to figure out what the hell is going on with my missing hormones I've yet to determine.

I made it out to the barn on Friday afternoon. Pony Grandma drove me out and grabbed one horse while I grabbed the other. I looked the kids over (they're fine) and stuffed them full of carrots. We went for a quick walk down the driveway before putting them back out. And then I yawned all the way home.

The goal over the next week or two is to try to slowly up my activity level and get myself onto a proper sleep schedule. I'm okay with needing to take a nap, but it needs to be earlier in the day so that I sleep through the night.

I'd probably be okay to do a quick and easy ride - provided someone groomed and tacked the horse up for me. Pretty sure that process would leave me exhausted. Hopefully sometime later next week though!

I don't see the surgeon for my follow-up until November 18th. At that time I expect to find out what the pathology report said about the thyroid. I have an appointment with my family doc next week, so there is a chance that she'll let me know. I can't decide if I want to hear that it was cancerous and we made the right decision to remove it or that it isn't and it could have stayed!