Saturday 25 December 2021

Merry Christmas!

I survived yet another year of a crazy work schedule. I've got a few days off over the holidays so I can get the ponies going again.


Yeah, it's gonna be a wee bit chilly for the foreseeable future.

Thus, the ponies will have more time off, stuffing their bellies with an uncovered round bale (the net I bought got buried underneath a bunch of snow and is likely frozen to the ground after the freezing rain that pre-empted the snow).

I need to try to peel myself off of the sofa daily and do some physiotherapy-type stuff so that when I do get back in the saddle I will be able to walk again.

But in the meantime, there are holidays with the family to enjoy, high calorie foods to consume, and Lego sets to keep my hands busy while binging Netflix.

Happy holidays, everyone! Stay warm and cozy and Omicrom free!

Monday 13 December 2021

Auken Brimstone Winter Tall Boots - initial Review

 Short riders - rejoice! I have found boots off the rack that are the right height!

The bad news is that they are winter boots. Well, bad news if you live in a warm part of the world. For those of us who live in the land of ice and snow for 6 months every year, it's great news!

Up here in the Great White North there is a chain of equestrian stores called Greenhawk. A large portion of what they sell are their own house brands. I consider most of their own branded stuff to be of medium quality, and will never buy it at regular price as it always goes on sale for 30-40% off.

They sell boots under the brand name Auken. Last winter they added a few winter riding boots to the line. A couple of people I ride with had one of the styles and were quite happy with them.

I had seen this lace-up style last winter and tried to get them, but they were only available online, and only in sizes well above mine. Thus, I didn't get them. 

Cue this years Black Friday sale.

Although I had no intention of buying any horse stuff this year, I still had a look at the websites, just in case I found a deal that I couldn't pass up. Good thing that I did, because the boots I wanted last winter were back in-stock in all sizes and 40% off! Score!

As I was unsure about sizing, I ordered sizes 7 and 8. I'm generally a 7.5, which is 38 european. The size chart showed the 7's as 38's, so I wasn't sure if I would need the larger or smaller size. There is a store in town though, so I would be able to easily  return the size that I didn't need - which turned out to be the 8's.

I had a bit of a debate as to which size to keep. The foot on the 7's is just the perfect size, but for winter boots I am happy if the foot is a bit loose to let air circulate a bit better to keep my feet warmer. However, the 8's were then too loose in the heel and ankle which I thought might affect me once in the saddle, so I went with the smaller size. If I had planned to wear a second pair or really thick pair of socks then I would have stuck with the 8's.

Most importantly- they are the perfect height for my 15.5" calfs!  In the picture on the website they don't go right up to the model's knee, so I think that they are designed to be shorter than normal tall boots, but that works for me! So if you are have long (or even average length) legs, be forewarned that they will be shorter than your normal riding boots. On my little legs, they hit the perfect spot just below the knee.

The foot is lined with faux-fur. The leg is a mix of an insulated material and neoprene and has a synthetic leather wear patch on the inside leg. There are reflective piping stripes on the outside and back of the leg.

The tongue in front is stitched on the sides to about 2/3's of the way up, so you will have to use the zipper at the back to get in and out of the boots. Because the tongue is padded it's a little bit tough to get the laces really snug, but that's pretty minor.

The sole is thick with a good tread and has an appropriate heel for riding.

The weak point on these boots will definitely be the zipper. It's not nearly as robust as I would like. In order to prevent an early demise of the zippers I plan to loosen the laces before zipping up, and then tightening them. In reality my winter riding clothes add differing amounts of bulk depending on what I'm wearing, so this will most likely be a requirement anyway.

Unfortunately, at this point I cannot attest as to how warm they are as it looks like I won't manage to get back into the saddle until New Years - and then only if it warms up significantly. It's looking like we'll be in the midst of a cold spell once work dies down for me at Christmas and the ponies will be getting an extended vacation. I'll update you once I've tried them out.

Overall, I think that they are worth what I paid for them ($70 after taxes, regular price $110 + tax), but I don't think that they will hold up for many winters if they are worn all winter at the barn. The zipper just feels a little too light. I plan on only wearing them while riding as I have very warm Muck Boots to wade through the snow in, so with that, and loosening the laces before zipping up I hope to extend their life to last me a few years. I probably won't find short enough boots ever again!

(And I didn't even have to try to get to the tack store to return the other pair - I offered them up in my barns Facebook group for what I paid and they were claimed within minutes. It was such a good deal I wanted to give someone else a chance to get it!)

Tuesday 7 December 2021

'Tis the Season

 'Tis the season when I work too much and the ponies get a lazy vacation.

I've barely done anything with them for the last month. About once a week I manage to get out to see them and make sure limbs are pointing in the appropriate directions and make my best guess as to how many blanket layers they should be wearing based on the forecast for the next few days. Until tonight, I haven't even managed to get them into the arena for a run as it has either been too busy or stupid early when I've been out.

Cisco is pretty sure that he's now a feral horse and is convinced that leading and tying is more of a suggestion than a requirement. Of course, his version of being bad is pretty tame - mostly sticking his hooves in his ears and going "lalala I can't hear you" and doing the idiot dance in the barn. Thankfully, he remembered that he has manners and was a perfect gentleman for the farrier last week.

I made it through the Black Friday sales relatively unscathed. Not totally though. I picked up the newish Knix zipper front Catalyst sports bra for a good price - so far I'm liking it, though I haven't ridden with it yet.

I also ordered some winter riding boots from Greenhawk that I'm hoping will work for me. They look like they're shorter than normal tall boot height, and they are laced down the front, so the chance of them fitting my short, wide legs is a bit higher than normal. I tried to get them last year but they never had my size, so I was happy to see them available, on sale (only $65!),  and both possibilites for my size in-stock. I ordered both the size 7 and 8 as I usually wear a 7.5, so we'll see which pair fits best and return the other ones.

So , yeah. Not much happening here. 

I hope everyone is enjoying time with their ponies and that those on either side of the continent are safe from the flooding. Believe me - we're not complaing too loudly about the dump of snow we had last week!

Playing with my new action camera... I think I need a longer selfie stick.

Thursday 28 October 2021

Drug Money

 A couple of weeks ago I took advantage of the offer from Boehringer Ingelheim and took Phantom to the vet for a free PPID blood test. It was one of those things where I've long wondered if she maybe has Cushings based on her winter polar pony coat, but I didn't really want to have the confirmation because then I'd have to react to it - meaning, she'd need daily medication.

Sure enough - she tested out of range. Drugs for life it is!

"Just one more hit" says the pony crack whore about homemade horse treats.

I have yet to pick them up - I was supposed to grab them today but I had a couple of very long days this week and frankly was just exhausted today on my day off. I'll head over to the vet clinic tomorrow after work. 

It's a good thing I already pulled Phantom's shoes - that's where the money for the Prascend will be coming from. The plan was to save the money and put shoes on both horses next summer, but Phantom has decided to make it all about her. Typical princess behavior. 

Little old moi?

Prascend (pergolide) is about $100 per month if I buy a 2 month supply, or about $84 per month if I buy it in a larger quantity of 160 pills. I'm going to grab the smaller supply for the first batch, and if all goes well I'll plan on getting the larger quantity when I get a refill. 

I still have to get the logistics of getting the pill into her daily sorted out - she lives out in a mixed group paddock 24/7 and I would prefer to keep it that way. Hopefully, she will eat it out of your hand with a small amount of food like she does with Previcox. I've talked to the barn owner about supplying baggied servings that can be given to her by hand - if she will eat it.

Wednesday 20 October 2021

Feeling Annoyed

Well, I'm glad that my horse has been wonderful because other stuff at the barn has been pissing me off this week.

First, there was a last-minute announced jumping clinic at the barn that had the arena booked from 9-5 on Saturday and Sunday. Whatever, it happens. 

Because of the arena use, I didn't ride on Sunday as I didn't want my first ride in over a week on a fresh horse to be out in the field (when I was still low on energy from my head cold) and I had to be up early the next morning for work so didn't want to ride in the evening. I got the horses tails done, it was all good. 

But then they left the jumps up from the clinic, which include a course with a line along the track on one side. And because I'm working early, I'm heading out right after work to ride, which is when lessons are happening. 

On Monday I had to try to ride around two people jumping in a lesson, another person in the same lesson working on flatwork, a different lesson with a nervous beginner on the lunge line, and someone who was only circling at one end. 

On Tuesday I checked to see how big the lesson was before tacking up - it was only two people, and there was no one else getting ready, so I rushed to get into the arena before anyone else showed up. It was much better than the previous night until someone else came in, who is a bit of a green rider, and I could never be quite certain where they were going. 

Nonetheless, I managed to pop Cisco over a few of the little jumps once the lesson was over. Really, I just said fuck it, called a line, and made people get out of my way. The benefit of warm-up ring experience!

The constant transitions that I had to do to not get run over were quite beneficial to Cisco, and I was quite happy with how he went, considering that it was all start-and-stop.

However, people annoying me didn't stop in the arena.

Our barn doesn't have a designated grooming area. You just tie your horse in front of a stall down the aisle. The aisle is a bit too wide to cross-tie, so they are just tied to the stall front. 

There's lots of space. It's a long aisle.

But people feel the need to tie their horse as close to the end where their tack is as possible. Even if there is already a horse tied there. 

It drives me insane. There is no sense of safety - the worst culprits seem to be the ones that get hurt most often. 

I will happily tie my horse half-way down the barn if it means that I can have space to myself and be out of everyone else's way, and will walk back-and-forth to my tackbox and schlep my stuff back to where my horse is parked. I'm older than almost everyone else, and probably put in way more steps in a day, and I have no problems walking a bit further to keep me and my horse safe.

But even then, someone will park their horse right next to mine, and say "isn't it nice that they get along?". Grrr.

The worst is that they tie two horses that they have to feed on opposite sides of the aisle, and since these horses get a ton of grain and take like 30 minutes to eat, the person wanders away and isn't near the horses. So when you want to lead your horse through, no one is there to move horse butts to the side and make sure that eating horses don't get snarky.

Oh - and they park them in front of the main overhead door that you have to stand in front of and wait for it to open.

I need to put my bitch face on and tell them to move their horse. The barn owner won't do anything about it - she walked right through some of the worst of it on Monday night and didn't bat an eye. 

It's not always like this, I just happened to be out on Monday and Tuesday when the certain people who are culpable for this were out. They just happen to have multiple horses so it seems like it's more people than it really is.

The arena thing - total first-world problem. It's annoying because it's out of the norm. I get it, it's short-term.

The barn thing - someone is going to get hurt. Probably one of the people who always get hurt. 

(Vent over)

Monday 18 October 2021

Winter is Coming

 This weekend I saw a sure sign of impending cold and snow.

It's not the sub- zero temperatures that I've been waking up to most mornings. Nor the fact that I've consequentially had to turn on the furnace in the house.

The forecast for when I get up tomorrow morning.

It's not that I've already had to wear thermal underwear, a winter coat, and a toque.

Farrier morning a couple of weeks ago.

It's not that I've seen the flocks of Canada Geese making their way to their winter homes in the south of the continent, or that the hares that breed like, well, rabbits, and are found everywhere in the city, have started to change from brown to white coats.

It's not the fact that every horse I've seen seems to have a sprouted a ominously wooly coat - even the tb's that usually stay pretty sleek.

The sure sign of winter that was sighted this weekend - 

my horses white tails have been cleaned and put up, not to be seen again until the spring.


and wrapped (in suitably themed duct tape).

Winter is coming.

Friday 15 October 2021

Return of the Arab/Saddlebred/Llama Stallion

I managed to get out to the barn last night. I didn't have enough energy to ride - my ears were still plugged up and my sinuses were dry and uncomfortable, but at least I didn't have to blow my nose every 20 minutes.

The barn wasn't very busy for once on a Thursday night. The round pen was open so I decided that I would throw each horse in there for a few minutes so they could blow off some steam.

It was the right decision.

Cisco wasn't in there for very long before he spotted a couple of horses from the neighboring property being ridden towards the road. Cue instant arab/saddlebred/llama stallion.

His head was high. His tail was flagged. His snorts were ferocious. His canter resembled that of a French skunk.

Phantom wasn't a whole lot better. She took her time in the beginning looking for a place next to the fence to roll but made the smart decision not to. It just took a single flick of the whip to send her into a gallop. She hadn't had any Ventipulmin and was breathing pretty heavy so I had to end her fun well before she wanted to.

By the time I had gone for a short walk with each horse to cool them out, fed them their grain, and put out some more hay, I was done in. An hour and a half of fresh air sapped all the energy out of me.

I'm hoping to get on this weekend but there is a clinic both days during the day. I'll probably get their tails washed and put up for the winter instead. It looks like this might be the last weekend of double-digit temperatures - positive ones, at least.

Thursday 14 October 2021

Throwback Thursday - Way Back to June

 I'm on my 5th day of being stuck in the house with a head cold. My Covid test was negative, so my stuffed up sinuses are definitely just due to a cold. Problem is, in these pandemic days, I'm legally required to stay quarantined until my symptoms have subsided. With my negative test (and vaccinations) I just have to wait until I am symptom-free and then can leave the house. 

Not that I would want to go anywhere with cold/flu-like symptoms - I'm pretty sure everyone would treat me like a leper.

Since I have had so much time on my hands and little incentive to do anything useful, I finally managed to edit some video I've been putting off.

Cisco's first gymnastic line!

We did it way back in June. And haven't jumped since. Sigh.

Overall, he was a very good boy on this day. I tried to keep it short - he went through a couple of times, and we would start on the next jump. 

I used my brain and set the line up so that we would jump it out of the scary end towards the main door. He likes to suck back heading into the scary end and I didn't want to give him a reason to think twice about jumping. Unfortunately, our turn into the line was not as straight as I would have liked on many an occasion as he dropped his shoulders in an attempt to GTFO of the corner as fast as he could.

This was also my first time jumping anything with related distances in something like 8 years. I was just happy I stayed on and didn't fuck up too much!

I should have had the line a bit tighter so that he didn't have to reach so much if he backed off. I have no idea how long his stride is, but I'm pretty sure that it's not 12'. I mean, the jumps were tiny, so there was no need to be anywhere close to 12' (and they were set as such).

I was just about to raise them a wee bit when he got a bit worried and started thinking about his options. We went through one more time with him being a bit more forward again and called it a day. I was quite happy with him and didn't want to risk things going backwards. 

It's not a terribly exciting video - the jumps are tiny, and I didn't come anywhere near falling off. Sorry!

I'd like to jump once or twice again this month before I stop riding Nov/Dec due to work - but I need to get rid of this stupid cold first. I'm hoping to head out to the barn this afternoon, but don't think I'll ride. I should be able to get back in the saddle this weekend though.

Tuesday 12 October 2021

New Pivo Pod X - Kickstarter Deal

If you have been considering getting a Pivo to video your rides, here's your chance for a deal!

Pivo just released a pre-order on Kickstarter for their new Pivo Pod X. They claim that it is smoother than their other versions, and due to a nifty ball mount for your phone, is able to track up-and-down, not just side-to-side.

They are offering Early Bird funding specials that amount to 49% off the retail price. That's a pretty sweet deal! But you will have to act fast - the Early Bird deals will expire soon!

They're only a couple of hours into the release on Kickstarter and just a few thousand below their funding goal. Current expected shipping date is January, 2022. Ask Santa to do his shopping early!

Click here to find it on Kickstarter. 

Is the Pivo right for you? Here are a few things to know about it to help you decide.

  • It tracks you via an app on your smartphone. For horses, it looks for a rectangular shape (the body of the horse). It is not able to differentiate between different rectangle shapes, thus, if there is more than one horse in the ring, it will follow the most recent one that passes the camera (the last rectangle shape that it saw), and you might end up with video of every horse in the ring except yours. (You just need to ride past it again to get it to pick you back up.)
  • It needs to constantly see the shape in order to maintain tracking. I've had issues with it losing me behind a pile of jump standards. Also, it has a hard time when the light changes from bright to dark, as when I pass an open overhead door when riding inside during a summer day. If you ride a dark horse in a dark arena, you might have problems.
  • Due to the processing power that the app requires, it will only work with newer, higher end phones. You can find a list of approved phones on their website.
  • The zoom is only as good as the zoom on your phone. Same for video quality, although most phones these days can produce amazing video.
  • Whenever your phone does a system update, there is a chance that it will affect the app and give you problems when you try to record video. The developers are very good at releasing fixes, but it can take a few weeks. 
  • You will need a tripod to go with it.
I quite like my Pivo Pod, and as long as you know its limitations (don't plan on videoing your ride during a group lesson)  I think it does a really good job. This new version might just be coming my way in the new year (I'm at home with a head cold. Online shopping is inevitable.)

Monday 11 October 2021

Last Week in Review

 It was a bit of a busy week last week. I had a doctor's appointment, the ponies had their first appointment with their new farrier, and Phantom was hauled over to the vet clinic for her PPID bloodwork. Thus, I didn't get in as much riding as I would have liked.

I got out into the big crop field again with Cisco. He was a little more up than the previous ride out there - but since there was a horse trotting and cantering circles around us (as is needed when you haven't ridden your horse in a month) I don't really blame him for being a bit more excited. He was still a very good boy, I just didn't quite trust him to be on a long rein in the beginning.

The footing out there actually wasn't too bad. The ruts were still soft and not overly deep, so we did a little bit of trot and an easy canter. He was lovely and barely even threw his shoulders around.

Phantom is officially semi-retired as I had her shoes pulled. She has worn front shoes all year round for probably the last eight years. She won't get ridden much for the rest of the year (I should be working nights starting at the beginning of November) and any riding we will be doing will be inside. If I pull her shoes for the winter, I can afford to put shoes on both horses in the summer, when I will want to do more riding on ungroomed footing. Both horses tend to have thin soles and are not happy on rocky ground.

Before the farrier visit, I was back and forth as to if I was going to pull them. If I did it now, the ground is still soft and it will give her a chance to let them harden up before everything freezes and she has to walk on poopsicles. But, I had to take her to the vet two days later, and she would likely not be at all happy about being expected to walk across their dirt and gravel parking lot.

And then I remembered I have hoof boots for her. 

Thus, her shoes were pulled!

Phantom wore her sneakers to the vet for her blood draw. We'll find out in 7-10 days if she has Cushing's or not - fingers crossed that it's "not"!

I popped her in the arena on Saturday evening to see how she looked without her shoes. Shockingly, she looked great. I expected her to be mincey and short in front, but no, she was stepping out nicely.

The plan was to hop on her on Sunday. That changed when I woke up Sunday morning with a scratchy throat, that made me cough when irritated by talking or sometimes breathing. I was hoping it was just allergies, but after waking up with it again on Monday I called the public health line and asked what I needed to do. Since a scratchy throat couldn't be differentiated from a sore throat, I could either get a Covid test (which, if negative, meant I could leave my house once symptoms are gone), or I would be legally required to quarantine at home for 10 days. 

The swab has been stuck up my nose (not as bad as I thought it would be) and I'm stuck in the house for at least 1-3 days until I get the results. My mother was kind enough to leave me a care package on her step with a doggy bag from last night's Thanksgiving dinner that I had to miss and a whole bunch of chocolate that I picked up on my way home from the testing center. I just wish I had known this would happen so I could have brought my tack home to clean!

Sunday 3 October 2021

Fall Riding

The barn that the ponies live at is surrounded by crop fields. I love the quietness of the area. 

Unfortunately, they don't make for usable hacking locations for most of the year. For some reason, farmers aren't appreciative of horses tramping down their crops, and thus, their hard-earned money. I mean, we do offer to fertilize as we go as payment, but it's still a no.

But once fall hits, and the crops have been removed, the fields start beckoning. 

I finally got out there on Monday with one of my barnmates. Both of us prefer to meander so it was a lovely ride. (Someone else had said on the Facebook post that she might join if we went for a gallop - not my thing in a field I don't know.) 

It was probably one of the last really nice days of the year, and by the time we went out the weather was just perfect for riding. 

The horses both behaved themselves nicely - well, until the turn for home for the other horse. He got a little bit dancey, but Cisco happily remained walking on a loose rein.

Nights are coming faster - it's now completely dark at about 8pm. I'll have to try to get out as often as I can over the next month as we will be stuck inside for 6 months all too soon.

Tuesday 28 September 2021

The Try-Guy

 A couple of weeks ago I had a proper schooling session on Cisco and told him that he actually had to make an effort at canter and not go around like a llama. 

Always a llama for the first pass at the end of the arena.

I wish I knew what magical words I whispered to him that night, because ever since then, he has been fantastic.

He hasn't turned into Valegro or anything like that. But something has clicked and he's just become very rideable. He's super willing and has been trying really hard to work with me.

The reason for that schooling session was to figure out if I had broken the right lead canter, the better lead for both of us. 

Ever since that day, the right lead has been lovely. I could ride the right lead for hours.

There's got to be a dressage test where you only canter one way, right?

To the left... well, it's a work in progress.


The canter at the beginning of the ride. The right shoulder isn't flinging out, but I've got no bend to the left.

The alternative method of left lead canter - the right shoulder bulging out.

Unfortunately, it's the tougher side for both of us. For me, I have the left-hand-itis - the left hand that loves to hang on the rein like a dead fish, and a much weaker left leg (also the leg that I pulled the adductor on last summer).  For Cisco, he likes to push his shoulders to the right, so the struggle is keeping that right shoulder falling way out in the circle, while getting him to bend around my left leg. Of course, if I could keep my left leg on reliably, and turn my fricking shoulders to the inside, it might be easier for him. 

Getting better. It still needs more left bend, but he's not dropping onto the left front nearly as much.

With the flinging of the shoulders to the right, it also means that he doesn't fill up my right rein, which means I don't have a very effective half-halt when tracking right. All around, the left lead is more of a struggle than the right.

I think there might actually be a bit of lift on the left shoulder!

But it's coming. I've been keeping the left lead canters shorter with the intent of getting a chance to re-organize before the wheels fall completely off the bus. It's generally easier to start with and keep a good canter than to fix a bad canter. It also gives me a chance to reposition myself in the saddle to give the poor horse a fighting chance of doing what I'm asking of him.

I'll take this trot. (It would be better if I would shorten my damn reins!)

It's working. Every ride we manage to get a few more strides of a canter with a left bend that I can steer off my outside aids. When I remember to put my inside leg on, he tries to bend around it. We'll probably lose it after a few steps, but at least I'm getting the desired response. 

Getting a well-deserved cookie at the end of the ride. I tuck it into his cheek - it's kind of adorable.

Cisco has always been a horse with a lot of try. I've been trying to alternate rides between proper schooling sessions and hacking so that I don't give him a reason to lose his willingness. It seems to be working!

Thursday 23 September 2021

Canadians Senior Horse Owners - Free Offer!

Canadian horse owners - do you wonder if your senior horse has Cushings? 

The only way to know is to have bloodwork done - and bloodwork is never cheap.

But - you might be in luck - your horse might qualify for a free blood test!

Boehringer Ingleheim is currently offering free blood tests (performed by your veterinarian) to see if your horse has PPID. You can go to their website, learn about PPID, and fill in the request form. If it's approved, they will pay for the bloodwork. You'll still have to pay for whatever else your vet charges you for at the time (like travel), but hey, it's something!

Now, it's not all altruistic on the part of Boehringer Ingleheim - after all, they are the manufacturer of the medication Prascend which is used to treat Cushings. But if you are like me, and have a senior horse that is always the last horse to shed out in the spring, it might be a good opportunity to find out if your concerns are justified.

Phantom did qualify for the free test, so it looks like a trip to the clinic will be coming up in the next month - the offer is only good until October 28th. 

Click here for the link!

Wednesday 15 September 2021


 Guess what this is?

This is a horse who, for the first time ever, came off the trailer totally dry! No sweat at all!

The car rides are working!

Cisco was still a bit sticky about getting on. I schooled the loading before putting his travel buddy on, and that was definitely a good idea. Once he's been fully on once he's pretty good about being loaded and unloaded, the tricky part is just getting him to get past the half-way point.

I think this was also the first time that he partook of the hay net. Phantom is hit or miss as to if she eats from it. Tonight she started munching on it while I was loading Cisco. For whatever reason he decided to join in on chowing down, so I let them sit there for a few minutes before closing everything up and heading out. I was happy to see an empty net when we returned home and dropped hay on the floor in front of Cisco.

Cisco (on the right) looks taller than Phantom - but I think it's just because he's totally got his butt squished into the butt bar. Though I might measure him to be sure!

I truly didn't think he would get this much better this quickly. As of four car rides ago he came off soaked with sweat. To come off dry and happily munching hay is a huge improvement. 

We still need to work towards traveling solo but I'll probably leave that until next year. I want to do a few more trips this year, maybe some longer drives, and try to get him getting into the trailer a little smoother. Hopefully his reduced stress will help with that.

Friday 10 September 2021

The Canter Struggle Bus

Cisco's canter has been on the struggle bus as of late. He's been picking up his leads with no issue, and in general the transitions have been prompt and without drama. 

I got some usable Pixio footage (lots of non-usable footage). It's taken forever to be able to get on this horse and walk around on the buckle at the start of the ride.

But once we get into the canter, he's a llama. A left-bending llama.

It's a little dark, but this moment totally shows our struggle with dropping the right shoulder tracking right.

I've been wondering if it's a physical issue, a tack issue, a training issue, or an idiot rider issue.

One training hole that I know we have is not being able to get flexion at the poll without following with his shoulders. I spent so much time trying to get this horse to go on a straight line forward that I kind of neglected to work on getting flexion at anything other than a walk. We've been working on it, and I'm pretty sure that this will help our canter immensely.

On a ride last Friday I decided to tackle the canter. I only wanted him to give me some bend, and not carry his head straight up in the air. Was a decent ride lead canter something he couldn't do, in which case I'd have to look into getting a vet workup done, or he didn't want to do (because it's hard)?

I like the uphill moment, but would like the neck a bit longer and my butt to stay in the saddle.

We went back to doing lots of transitions on a circle. The first couple of canters were ugly, but it slowly started getting better. He started softening his back and allowed me to influence and ride the canter, rather than just sit on top and steer.

Magic colour change pony - he's now a palomino!

We made some progress in being able to ask for some flexion and have him reach down into contact. There were also some lovely, soft transitions into canter.

And then we had an amazing trot around the arena! Forward, straight, even contact in both my reins - it felt fantastic!

I would like his neck a wee bit longer here, but I was starting to ask for some right flexion. Also - as evidenced by these pictures - I can't sit up straight anymore.

Thursday 9 September 2021

Car Ride Breakthrough!

 I think we are finally making progress on Cisco's trailering stress level!

I hooked up the trailer last night and parked it towards the front of the field. By the time I returned with both horses, I had trailers parked on either side of me with haul-in lesson students. An excellent training opportunity!

Full-on sweat after a trailer ride on July 31.

When I first approached with Cisco to the trailer there was something about him that made me think this was going to be a good night.

And then he wouldn't get on.

He initially put his front feet into the trailer pretty quickly. But then would only tap dance in place and wouldn't take another step that actually moved him forward. Lots of foot movement going nowhere.

I ended up pulling Phantom off the trailer and sent her to go graze out of sight and went back to the beginning with Cisco. With the divider moved over, on our first approach he took that extra step in that I hadn't been able to get. But not much more.

We faffed about and after a few minutes got a couple more steps, so I backed him off and reapproached.

And he marched right on, right to the front.

And continued to do so another 4 or 5 times in a row, with me gradually moving the divider back over.

Still super sweaty on August 4.

I then had to decide if I wanted to leave it there or put both horses back on and go for a drive. I figured I might as well, we were there and ready to go.

He still loaded without issue after Phantom was on. So off we went!

We just did the loop around the side roads - it's not far, but they are all dirt roads so I drive like a grandma to try to keep the ride more comfortable for the ponies. We were probably gone for about 25 minutes.

Upon arrival, I lifted the rear curtain and for the first time, didn't smell the steaming, sweaty horse aroma.

Sure enough, Cisco had barely broken a sweat!

Sweat patches on his elbow and a bit on his neck - so much better!

Yes, it was much cooler than the last few times we trailered, but that hasn't stopped him in the past from breaking out into an all-over body sweat. There was still some sweat present, maybe about 10% of what it usually is. I'd be okay arriving somewhere and tacking up this horse instead of the other sweaty horse that would need a bath first.

I'm hoping that this was the breakthrough trailer ride and it will only get better from here! (Probably just a fluke though!)

Wednesday 8 September 2021

Wordless Wednesday - Construction

I'm on vacation this week with a whole bunch of stuff to do. Instead, thanks to my mother, I was inspired to drag out my 30-year old Lego sets and put them together.

I got this stable set when I was 11 or 12 years old. Somehow, I still have all the pieces!

Tuesday 31 August 2021

Say No to Big Worm!

This whole ivermectin to cure your Covid thing is nuts. 

I won't deny that in my many years of horse ownership I've probably ingested some. Totally unintentionally though - I've had a couple of horses who weren't great about getting a syringe stuck in their mouth.

But voluntarily ingesting a drug that's formulated for a different species that is on average probably 5 times your body weight? And that is used to kill off internal parasites - which are not a virus? Just ridiculous. 

Thankfully I already have my dewormers for the year. Since it's so cold up here we don't really need to deworm between when it freezes and thaws - November to March or so. I've got my Quest Plus ready to go. (Just wait until they discover that moxidectin is basically the same class of drugs as ivermectin!)

Anyhoo, these comments on Reddit made me laugh. 

Monday 30 August 2021

A Lack of Pics

 I really need to get some media of my rides. I keep expecting that the arena is going to be busy when I ride so I don't take the recording equipment out with me, and then the barn turns out to be empty and I have the arena to myself. I've had the Pivo in my car for a few days but it struggles when the overhead doors are open and loses me with the change of light, so there's really not much point in setting it up if I'm riding inside at this time of year. I need to charge up the Pixio, but I don't like to leave it in my car while I'm at work and this week I went straight out to the barn from work.

Thus, no media.

Not that my rides have been fantastic and I'm missing capturing amazing moments. Far from it. 

I've been riding much better this week though. It appears that the problem was what I suspected - my new boots that haven't broken in yet. They have been feeling much more comfortable in the calf this week - in fact, one almost felt loose. Not to worry - there's still lots of adjustability due to the laces. 

Cisco has been a VGB (very good boy) and has been trying really hard. At the end of Thursday's ride we had some deep corners at a trot that felt amazing.

Cooling off and enjoying the sunset.

Our canter, however, has been not so amazing. Head up, nose stuck out. I'm not sure if it's me, if he's uncomfortable somewhere, or just a training issue. I'm trying to just ignore it and keep riding the movements (lots of transitions, 15m circles, a bit of leg yield).

He also feels a bit locked in bending to the right. At the end of a ride I can get some right flexion, but it's a struggle until he's done a bunch of work. When he had chiro work done earlier in the year she had found him out in his poll and her work seemed to help. I'd like to get him looked at again but would really like to take him to a vet I've used in the past who does chiro. She's about an hour away so we'd have to trailer. My goal is to get a few more trailer practice sessions in and get him over sometime in September. 

Phantom had two back-to-back rides this week. She was pretty sassy! We weren't at the point of not being able to walk, but not far off. She felt pretty good, provided I didn't let her get too fast (not that I had an option much of the time). Then she gets a bit too much on her forehand. 

She also had an issue with bugs. Because she has to wear a flymask all summer to protect her nose and eyes, Phantom gets very sensitive about bugs. As in, she can't stand them touching her face. If I ride her outside I just put a light fly mask on over her bridle and it keeps everyone happy. When I ride inside, I don't bother as the bugs aren't much of a problem. 

Apparently, after the rain we had at the beginning of the week a bunch of bugs came out and Phantom had issues with that. There was much drama and head flinging happening, although I didn't see or feel any of them. 

This weekend I was bad and ordered not one, but two pairs of breeches from Decathlon. I really like the warm (well, warmish) pair that I had bought last winter and I've been eyeing these summer-weight ones. Well, they're now on sale for $50. 

The sale colours are turquoise and navy.

I wasn't planning on getting two pairs, but I was having problems finding something else to add to get free shipping, so I said screw it and added the other colour to my cart. There are many things that I'm interested in getting, but they didn't have the size I needed or I didn't like the colour. Plus, they're opening a store this fall in the province so I'm hoping to take a road trip and would rather try things on before buying. 

Hopefully these breeches are as comfortable as the other ones I bought from them!

Sunday 22 August 2021

Catching Up

 You know when you're like "I've been sooo busy" but then you look back and can't think of anything that's happened that's out of the ordinary? That's kind of been my last three weeks. 

Let's catch up.

I did another car ride with the kids a few days after the previous one. Cisco was a wee bit stickier about getting on - he went backwards a couple of times, and tiptoed his way to the front of the trailer, but it still wasn't too horrible. We did the same drive under mostly the same conditions as I had for the first drive, and he stepped off the trailer about half as sweaty as he has been. Hopefully that's progress! I need to get a few more days in over the next few weeks - once winter hits I don't want to trailer unless I really have to.

A much less sweaty boy.

We had quite a few days of poor air quality, but it has been much better for the last 10 days or so. I had to work a week of overnights through the last of it, so I didn't have any inclination to ride anyway. 

I intended to ride Cisco this past Monday after I was back to days. I started getting him ready and noticed the twinkle in his eye and thought he might appreciate a chance to run in the arena instead. Oh yeah, he was a wee bit spicy. He did three laps of the arena at a gallop on his least favourite lead, which he never does, so that was a good decision.

It held over until Thursday when I was able to ride and he was pretty chill for a horse who hadn't been ridden in almost two weeks. Sadly, I'm riding terribly at the moment. I'm not sure if it's because I haven't been riding much, or because I've been dealing with some body soreness (wondering if it's due to a medication change), but I'm leaning towards it being because my new boots are still not broken in. I can't get my heel down as much as I would like to, and thus my base doesn't feel as balanced as it should and everything else suffers. Thankfully, the boots are quite sticky and my leg isn't swinging in the breeze, it just hurts my shins to push weight into my heels. They feel better as I get further into my ride (maybe because I have lost the feeling in my legs at that point).

Very chill post-ride, even after all his friends left him alone in the arena.

Because he hasn't been ridden much and I'm riding crappily, Cisco's stickier bits have popped up again - namely a lack of right bend and pushing into his right shoulder. It got a little bit better at the end of Friday's ride so I'm not too worried about it. I also wasn't happy with the quality of his canter so on both rides we did a bunch of canter-trot-canter transitions and it made a huge difference very quickly.

Phantom has been enjoying her semi-retired life. I think she's been ridden once in the last month. She definitely gets a pass when the air quality is bad. I need to make sure I hop on her this week.

Awaiting the farrier after her pre-farrier bath to clean her poopy back legs and tail. 

To top everything off, I have to find a new farrier. Our longtime farriers (they work together as a team) told us at our appointment last week that they would no longer be able to service the barn. I don't know the reason but I suspect that they have just gotten too busy (this last time they had to adjust their schedule and give us a different day than usual as our barn was taking them most of the day) and since they only come to our area once per cycle, we had to be cut. 

They gave us a suggestion on someone to contact so I think I'll try her. There are a couple of other farriers that come to our barn, but I know that I don't want to use one of them (she has a history of being unreliable). The barn owner has already contacted the suggested farrier and she has said that she can do our barn so I'm going to try to set up an appointment and let the other owners know.

The Friday night crew were not overly enthusiastic.

So, that's what's been happening. Not too much on the horse side of life, but I have been getting some saddle time. Work has quieted down a bit, I have another week of vacation in September, and the temperatures seem to be much more moderate for the near future, so I need to try to make the best of it for the next little bit. Winter is coming all too soon! 

Monday 2 August 2021

It's Sweater Weather

 It got hot again this weekend. It doesn't feel as bad as it could because there is a haze in the air again so the sun isn't as strong as it can be, but that haze has trapped in the humidity at ground level. 

I decided that this weekend would be better spent with life lessons for Cisco instead of riding. Namely, more trailering experience. 

Every time that he's been on a car ride, Cisco has come off the trailer soaking wet with sweat. I totally admit that I've neglected getting this sorted out. Although I've had a 2-horse trailer for a few years, up until last fall, I didn't have confidence in my dad's truck that I used to pull it. One horse it had no problems with, but I didn't like how it felt with two horses on board. 

I do not want to arrive somewhere and have to tack up this sweaty creature!

Last fall my dad got a new, bigger truck, with more than enough power for my little trailer (also with a backup cam which is awesome for hooking up!). The issue has been finding a time that I can get the truck - my dad is a busy guy.

It worked out this weekend that I could do two days in a row. Cisco is going to need a whole lot more than that. 

As per usual, I loaded Phantom first to be Cisco's emotional support animal. He'll follow her anywhere and she's a pretty good traveller.

I had a couple of loading sessions earlier this summer with Cisco and they went pretty good, so I was hoping that I wasn't going to have to start from the beginning again. 

Day 1 - he was slow getting on, but it was always forward. Probably 5-7 minutes with me not making a huge fuss about it - I only cared that he continued to step forward. Once on they chilled for a few minutes before we went for a drive of a loop along the local roads. All of the roads in that area are dirt roads, so I drove quite slowly - there are some washboard sections near the intersections. 

Upon return to the barn, sure enough, I could smell the sweat emanating from Cisco before I dropped the ramp. He was soaking wet. (When I cleaned the trailer afterward, I thought he had peed in the middle of the stall - nope, it was sweat marks from where it had dripped down his legs.)

The wet marks are from the sweat that dripped off of him.

Day 2 - the big question was would he get on relatively easily or would we have to go back to the beginning? 

It took a few more minutes, but it was mostly forward steps again (he went backwards once on his own and once when he nose-butted me in my nose - while I was holding a whip - not his best decision). There was a period where his forward steps were literally an inch at a time, but they were still forward, so I would give him a short release before asking for another step. Once he is fully on he's pretty good about staying put, and sure enough, we were able to lock him in and head out. I'm sure he was on within 10 minutes, which to be honest kind of surprised me. I expected it to be much more of an issue. 

This time we went out to the highway. I hoped that the smoother road would help, although we had a stretch on the dirt roads at the beginning and end. I also put Cisco's sound-proof ear covers on him. He's quite noise sensitive, so maybe reducing the noises would help?

Yeah, no. He arrived a sweaty mess yet again.

Sweaty muzzle, sweat under his eyes, super sweaty body.

Granted, it was close to 30 degrees, and I had left the back canopy down, and there were two horses in there. This was the only time that Phantom has come off the trailer sweaty (just around her elbows) - was it hot in there due to the temperature, or did Cisco turn it into a sauna?

The ear coverings didn't make an obvious difference, so I don't think I'll bother with them again. 

I had set up my old phone as a video camera so that I could see what he's doing in case he has a hard time standing, causing him concern. I didn't see any reasons - he didn't seem to lose his balance and scramble at any point (I drive like a grandma with the trailer) so it appears to be all mental. 

It appears that Cisco is going to need a whole lotta miles before he comes off the trailer dry. 

If anyone has any ideas to try let me know! I'm not concerned about it taking a few minutes to get him on, I would just like him to arrive cool and relaxed. I don't want to use a sedative as I don't want him groggy and not able to balance, but I might have some Chill I can maybe try. I have a feeling though that it's just going to take time and experience. 

Thursday 29 July 2021

Some Improvement Noted

 I managed to get both horses ridden on the same day on Tuesday! And didn't I feel it on Wednesday!

I think this was Phantom's first ride in something like a month. The old gray mare was feeling good - both in her body and in her brain. By the second lap of trot, she let me know that she was ready to do this. Since it was late and she was the second ride, we didn't really do much, just tried to keep the level of her forward under ridiculous.

Ready to do more.

I had set up the Pivo for my ride on Cisco. Unfortunately, I had my first fail with it. The conditions in the arena just weren't optimal to be able to get the camera to stay with me as the overhead doors at each end of the arena were open and it was super bright outside, so after I passed the open door the camera got dark and lost me. Also, partway through my ride a couple of other horses came into the arena - I think I got more usable footage of them than me.

At the beginning of the ride, Cisco was having some feels about being alone in the ring, which he felt the need to vocalize to others. Thankfully, bitching and moaning was really all that he did.

You'll notice that my expression does not match Cisco's.

We've been working on asking for flexion and not having it affect steering. I'm pretty sure that if I went up the center line and asked for right and left flexion that our straight line would very much resemble a zigzag. It's a bit of a big hole that I admit should have been sorted out ages ago, but he's just been such a wiggly horse that going straight seemed to be the priority.

It's coming. Flexing left but steering to the right is tougher, probably because he doesn't fill my right rein and our half halts on that side are less effective. By which I mean I hang on my left rein and let go with the right. We're having moments when it comes together, generally later in the ride, and we're starting to get them on every ride, so that's progress.

The Pivo did manage to catch Cisco's spook. It felt much bigger than it looked

The other bit of progress that we've made is in our canter transitions to the left. Cisco's preferred way of flinging out his shoulders is to the right, and in the canter transition we would completely lose the shape of the circle during the transition. 

The arena that I ride in is about 30m wide, so I have to remember to use smaller sections to get some benefit from circles - 30m is just too easy. Earlier this spring we worked on picking up the canter from a walk on a circle about 15m.  To the right was easy. To the left - it was pick up the canter and go straight instead of maintaining the 15m circle shape. 

We've been working on it. On this ride, it was so much better - in fact, the left ones may have been better than the right!

Now we need to figure out turns on the haunches. The exercise I was doing was canter a 15m circle, walk, turn on the haunches, canter the new lead 15m circle, and repeat. I thought we could get a decent turn on the haunches, but it very much didn't happen and we changed it up to turn on the forehand. We've got new homework.