Saturday 28 March 2020

Life This Week

So, how's Coronavirus treating you?

I woke up Monday morning with a slightly sore throat. At any other time, I would have thought maybe I'm getting a cold, and then forgotten about it and gone on with my day.

Not now.

I had to call my boss, say I have a minor sore throat (doesn't hurt to swallow), and I didn't know what I should do. Long story short, I had to call the 811 number, which led to me staying home for 10 days on short term disability.

I felt perfectly fine by the end of day two with no more twinges in my throat. It's going to be a long 10 days.

Thankfully I had stocked up my freezer. That's not how I normally shop for groceries - I'm much more of the buy enough for only two days type of shopper. I was trying to eliminate the amount of shopping trips I was making so I bought extra. Not crazy hoarding extra, just enough for a week or so. I guess I'll find out this week if I bought enough!

I hadn't gone out to the barn much the previous week. Both horses were ridden on Tuesday, then I didn't get back out until Saturday evening. It was partly because of my work hours, which are going to be a sucky 11-7 a few days a week (but hey, I'm still working! Well, not this week, but I'm getting paid), and also because I feel kind of guilty for heading out.

My province hasn't locked everything down as of yet, though I fully anticipate it happening shortly. The national and provincial equestrian federations, as well as the major insurance companies, have recommended that equestrian facilities close down to everyone but essential workers.

Locally, there is a bit of a mix as to how barns are handling this. I think that the majority have stopped lessons with the non-horse owning students. Some barns are open to boarders, some have to schedule times so that there are no more than two people out at a time, and some are completely closed to everyone but workers. Should we end up in a lockdown situation this will likely change.

My barn is still open. I think that some lessons are still happening, though there is a very small lesson program. It tends to be fairly quiet except on two lesson nights. The majority of the horses live outside 24/7 so they are always able to move around, although we still have lots of snow and frozen poop everywhere.

I don't know what the right option is. I think everyone has a duty to do their part and sacrifice some activities that bring them joy. We all know what horse people are like - do I trust that everyone at the barn would stay away for 10 - 14 days if they just have a sore throat or a sniffly nose? Nope. Nor do I trust that commonly touched items are getting sanitized properly. A bit of spray on a paper towel is probably not enough to kill any virus that may have been transmitted to a surface.

My fellow Canadians will understand why this is so fantastic.

Once I get out of my self-isolation next week, I'll see what I decide to do. I'm pretty sure that I'll be limiting my time at the barn to maybe two or three days a week, which may end up just being days of letting the ponies going for a run in the arena. Of course, there is a very good chance that my decision will be made for me by that time and I'll be stuck at home.

As for the next week of my exile - I'm trying to do a beginner yoga Youtube video every day. I have more than enough things in the house to keep me busy - if I feel like doing them. I've been enjoying having the time to cook for once (I don't think I've ever made my meals for a full week before). I've spent far too much time on the computer/tablet/phone and watching Youtube/Netflix/Acorn/Amazon.

Tomorrow I might just go for a drive-by and look at my ponies from the road. I want to get out of the house, but can't go anywhere where there are people, so might as well go look at the kids from a distance like a creeper.

Monday 16 March 2020

Aye Corona!

What a difference a week makes in the world.

I'm talking about the coronavirus, of course. It's all anyone is talking about.

The number of confirmed cases rose overnight by almost 50% (from 39 cases to 56). Still not that many overall, but it's just starting.
Mother Nature went off the wagon again this weekend and the temperatures plummeted back down to the -20's. The kids had to wear their puffy snowsuits again.
Some of these new cases are not due to travel, as all of the other cases have been. So, as I'm writing this, the province has new restrictions in place.

All school classes are canceled until further notice. Also daycares and out of school care are to be closed. That's going to cause some problems.

No gatherings of over 250 people. This now includes places of worship, though shopping centres are still exempt.

I do not have a job that I can do from home. So I'll still have to be dealing with people face to face on a daily basis.

Horsewise, how it has already affected me:

The restriction on gatherings went into effect on Thursday. I was supposed to attend a tack sale on Saturday to try to sell some stuff - that was canceled. No extra income for me.

I had picked up a weekend of teaching when the regular instructor took some clients to a horseshow next weekend. The show has just been canceled. No extra income for me.

I'm pretty sure that the Mane Event at the end of April will also be cancelled. This was my only planned "vacation" away from home this year (a whole 1 day) and I was going to be substitute teaching again. No extra income or extra fun for me.

I bought a bridle online, sight unseen. Retail therapy. Extra expense for me.
Cisco may regret his decision to molt this early.

I can justify that one (in my mind, at least). It's at the local consignment store, which is moving at the end of the month. So there was an additional 15% off sale.

The bridle is a Bobby's English Tack black double bridle, new with tags. I so don't need the double bridle aspect of it, but I've been keeping an eye out for a spare bridle in black as all my other spare tack is brown. It has a normal cavesson noseband which I like, but it doesn't have a monocrown, which I would prefer. However, I really liked the price - $78 with tax.

I'll just remove the bradoon hanger and find some different reins to put on it and it will be good to go.

I sure hope all these restrictions don't last too long. My inner introvert is loving this whole social distancing thing, but I must not let my inner tack ho take control!

Tuesday 10 March 2020

We've Found Stuff to Work On

14 hour days are not conducive to getting the house cleaned, groceries shopped for, or blogs about horses written. Add in having to get up at 5am for work some days of the week (it would be easier if it was every day instead of only some days) and not much has been getting done. It feels like I'm either at work, the barn, or sleeping.

But the ponies have been getting ridden! At least a couple of rides a week. In theory, the days that I work at 6 am would leave me lots of time to get horses ridden in the afternoon. In reality, I don't get to bed early enough, and end up going home and having a nap, which may or may not leave me with energy to do anything afterwards.

The super long days have been affecting my body. I spend most of my work day on my feet - I get anywhere from 13,000 to 18,000 steps in during a regular shift. Add going to the barn afterwards, where I am either on my feet or on a horse for the 3 to 5 hours that I'm there, and my step count hits 23,000 to 29,000 steps (I let the riding count as steps as I work far harder when I ride than when I walk).

My body occasionally needs a break. One where I barely get off the couch for the day. That was Thursday this week.
We have a barn cat who is very vocal and demanding. She is older and constantly seeks warmth. People have taken to putting her on their horses back while they are tacking up to keep her quiet and happy. This is her perched on her favorite horse, Khan. She comes running when his owner brings him in.
Cisco was ridden on Monday and Tuesday this week, Phantom only went on Tuesday. Weather and work didn't allow for me to get into the saddle in the later part of the week.

I was quite happy with my ride on Cisco on Monday. I really want to start jumping him this year (I know, I've been saying that for a while). However, I haven't really done a lot of flatwork geared towards jumping. Specifically, I haven't done a lot of cantering over poles, and I haven't done much any 2 point.

On that night I broke down a few jumps and set some of the poles into random spots. I didn't realize until I got on that I did a crap job of it though. I set one pole on a diagonal with nowhere to go on the landing side, and there was only a single pole on one long side because I didn't want to move the 6 poles on the other side out of my way (I'd have to put them back after my ride). Thus I only had 5 poles to work with.

Cisco has cantered a single pole a few times, but not often, and not in a while. The goal for the evening was to put together a mini course of 4 or 5 poles in a somewhat decent manner.

We managed it. With a whole lot to work on.

He actually surprised me by very quickly looking for the next pole. The turn might be a bit ugly, but once he saw the pole he locked onto it. To the point that he dragged me over the pole on the long side when we were supposed to go past it and turn afterwards across the diagonal.

His pace wasn't terrible, and he mostly listened and we had a lot of good distances. There were a couple of courses when he settled partway through into a nice canter that made the turns easy and I was able to ride forward out of the turn.
Phantom's back is just as comfortable.
But he was oh so wiggly. Which I think was mostly due to me being up in a 2 point. My position isn't super strong (it's been years since I've done it for more than a few strides at a time). I tried really hard to make sure that I wasn't using the reins for balance. Cisco had to find his balance with me in this position, so I think that was what mostly contributed to the wiggliness.

Our corners need some work. I mean, they need work at a canter on a normal flat ride, so I wasn't expecting miracles on this night. But my expectations when jumping are to use the whole space and ride a straight line after the jump/pole and deep into the turn. It's not like he was ducking sideways right after the pole or anything, but our turns were a bit more scrambly and disorganized than I would like. Being able to ride deep into the ends will help this significantly.

Since his time off due to his puncture injury, Cisco seems to have lost his canter transitions. The couple of rides before his holiday we were having lovely step into the canter transitions. Since, they have been atrocious. I plan to make sure I school these every ride with many transitions through the ride.

I was a bit worried that I was going to have problems getting over the pole on the center line at A, which is the scary end of the arena, and has been especially scary as of late. I was also worried that he would slam on the brakes after the pole on the quarter line as we headed in that direction. But he was good about it. The poles may have given him something to focus on.

Overall, I was really happy with him. There's lots to work on, but nothing that I didn't expect. I'm hoping that the "jumping" canter will help him find his balance and his forward in our regular flatwork. And most importantly, he really seemed to like it.

Now, I just need to put my big girl pants on and raise those speed bumps!

Tuesday 3 March 2020

Annual Signs of Spring

Spring is coming.

Cisco says so.
Cisco hair pre-ride.

More Cisco hair post-ride.

This is also time for my annual panic that Phantom has Cushing's. She gets very fluffy during the winter and I swear that she's the last horse on the property to start shedding every spring. Thus, every spring, I fret that this is the year she'll be diagnosed with Cushing's. She'll be 17 this year, stuff is going to start to pop up.
This is where Phantom was groomed. If you zoom in really, really close, you  might manage to count the 50 or so hairs that came off her body.

Inevitably she starts shedding in earnest sometime in April. And emerges with a normal summer coat. And I can forget about Cushing's until the next year.