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.

Monday 26 July 2021

It's Summer

 Well, it's been a hot minute since I've blogged!

Here's what has happened over the last three or so weeks.

  • It was hot. Too hot to ride. 
  • It was smokey. Too smokey to ride. 
So yeah, I have barely ridden over the last three or so weeks.

We went from about 10 days of temperatures that were over 30 (or at least felt like it) to dangerous air quality due to the forest fires in BC. The good thing was that it significantly dropped the temperature - you know, since the sun couldn't actually shine through the smoke. I don't think we saw clouds or the sky for four or five days in a row and it looked like it was about 8 pm all day long - it was kind of weird to finally see the sun when the smoke finally disappeared!

I had managed one ride between the heat and smoke on Cisco. Unfortunately, he was coughing for some reason that day. I timed my ride poorly and ended up in the arena with about three other people and the footing was extremely dry and dusty - I'm sure that didn't help Cisco. I did a short ride, mainly at walk, that day. 

Except for this:

I have used a flag a couple of times for desensitization stuff with him on the ground - he was never overly concerned about it. (For a spooky horse he's actually quite sensible about a lot of things.) One day this spring I was doing some groundwork in the round pen and was using a "flag" (handkerchief sized) on a whip - you know the kind that people usually use to get their horse all riled up and snorty? Well, with my spooky horse, the last thing I want to teach him is to run with his head and tail straight up in the air away from flappy things. He already knows how to do that. 

So on that day, I taught him to chase the flag. He figured it out right away and thought it was a fantastic game. Head down, nose stretched out reaching for the flag as I ran in front of him.
Other things that happened - I tried archery for the second time ever and actually started to figure it out! This was my final attempt - 5 out of 6 arrows in a nice grouping (the stray one was because I tried to move my aim towards the center and totally missed it). Don't ask how far away the target was though! And no - I have no intention in trying this from horseback!

So I figured I'd bring out my schooling flag again and see how that went, with the goal of riding him with it. 

The chase the flag transferred over very quickly, and after one groundwork session with me holding the flag over his back and having him trot around running next to him, I thought I'd give it a try under saddle. 

He had no concerns. The biggest issue was trying to steer with one hand - those left turns were a little sticky!

The ride from the video was his second time with me riding with the flag. We haven't cantered yet - I should probably practice the one-handed steer without the flag first - pretty sure that's going to be a gong show. 
My dad was presented with the Governor General's Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers, the highest award for volunteers in Canada, for his work with Scouts Canada. I thought it was kind of big deal, I don't know that he does!

I hopped on him yesterday for the first time since the flag ride and he was a very good boy and there were no coughs. The smoke broke up on about Thursday last week so I'll be taking it easy for the next little bit still. I'm trying to figure out what I can sell so that I can buy a nebulizer - why do they have to be $1500 CDN? Ugh. I also have to do some more research into the various treatments and what they treat before buying one, but with Phantom's asthma, and Cisco is apparently sensitive to something, I have a feeling that it would get used. Not to mention that smokey summers are apparently now a thing. 

Sunday 11 July 2021

I'm Melting

 There hasn't been much happening on the horse front over the last couple of weeks. This heat wave is kicking my butt.

I was actually off this week for another staycation (no plans to go anywhere this summer). I got my second Covid vaccination on Monday afternoon, rode Cisco on Monday evening, felt pretty body sore by the time I let the barn, and woke up at 5am the next morning with a wicked headache that I had to keep taking Tylenol and Advil for all day to keep it manageable. 

I felt pretty good on Wednesday, which was farrier day. When someone had asked on the barn Facebook page if she could go first with her horse there was a comment from the barn owner that there were a bunch of people who wanted to go early so you would just have to show up and see if your horse could be done. Thus, I guess no one showed up early.

I wasn't in a rush so I did some errands in the morning and then arrived around noon. By that time it was already feeling like 30 degrees, so by the time the pedicures were done at 3:30 I had no desire to ride.

9 pm feedings with the sun going down.

Ever since that day, it's felt like 30 by about 10:30 in the morning and been over 30 for the afternoons.

I'm slowly wilting in my house. I don't do heat very well. The ponies are enjoying some extra time off. There's not much relief in sight for these warm temperatures over the next couple of weeks. And we desperately need rain. I'm honestly surprised that the forest fire situation in my province isn't much worse(like the neighboring province is).

I've found something to keep me a bit active though. Earlier this week I downloaded Coin Hunt World, a geo-location game much like Pokemon Go, but for adults as it pays cryptocurrency. Now, I'm always skeptical about anything that gives out free money, but this appears to be legit. It's pretty new and is technically still in beta mode. It is available in the US and Canada (planned release for Europe is August) for Android users in the Google Play Store. iOS users have to wait - they just hit their limit on beta users so new users will have to wait until it is approved by Apple (hopefully August).

The premise is pretty simple - with the app open you look for keys that you put into vaults, at which time you will have to answer a multiple-choice trivia question correctly to be awarded some Satoshi's (units of Bitcoin), Gwei (units of Ethereum), or building materials to use in the game. Different coloured vaults have different payouts (ie. the yellow vaults pay out $10 of crypto) but also have harder questions to answer. 

I saw a pelican on my walk this morning. They always amuse me!

There's no cost to the game other than the energy you want to put into it. There are some people competing for leaderboard points that are cycling 50+ km per day hitting up keys and vaults, and thus reaping rewards of $30-50 per day. I'm at about $7 after 5 days of a 40 minute walk in my neighbourhood and checking out any shopping areas when I do errands - this will increase when I can add vaults in my own neighbourhood that I can hit daily.

If you have a dog that you walk regularly, bike a bunch, or work in a downtown core, you might want to have a look. It's a good way to start learning about cryptocurrency. Also - who wouldn't like to get paid to exercise? (Does that make you a pro athlete?)

If you are interested, here is the link to the wiki page, and here is a map you can check to see if there are keys and vaults already in your area (it's user-submitted so there are lots of spots that aren't mapped yet though). And if you decide to try it out, here is a referral link you can use which will give you some extra building material (click on the referral link after downloading the game but before setting up your HQ).

Friday 2 July 2021

Clears Throat Loudly

 You know how whenever you think you can do a quick visit to the barn it never works out that way?

Yeah, that was my trip out on Thursday night.

As I have been doing all week, I went out at about 8:30pm to avoid the worst of the heat, so I arrived at the barn around 9pm.

The plan was to bring both horses in together to eat their grain and throw them some more hay. I wanted to keep my visit to no more than 45 minutes as I had a doctor's appointment at 8:15 the next morning on the other side of the city so I wanted to get home to air out the house before trying to fall asleep.

I had pre-soaked their food so when I arrived I set up their food dishes in the barn aisle before heading out to grab the ponies from their paddock.

At the gate, I was met by Cisco. Who was coughing. A lot. 

My immediate thought was that he had some degree of choke. It wouldn't be the first time. 

I can't think of why he might choke...

But there was also a concern that it could be some type of respiratory distress brought on by the heat.

I brought Phantom in so that she could start eating and removed Cisco's dish from the aisle. He wasn't going to be allowed to eat it. Then I went back out and brought him in. 

The good news is that he wasn't feeling very sorry for himself - he was quite perky as we walked to the barn, and then he was quite pissy about the fact that Phantom was getting to eat and he wasn't. That's good because when he has choked in the past he has had no interest in eating.

He was still coughing quite a bit, and was breathing a little heavier than I liked, so I was still concerned about a respiratory issue. I also took his temperature as he had a bit of sweat in his elbow area, and he came in at 38.1. 

I squirted a couple of small syringes of water into Cisco's mouth to see if that helped the choke issue, and then hosed him off to try to cool him off a bit. I don't know if he was holding his breath while I was spraying him with water, but he didn't cough the whole time, and I only heard a couple more afterward. 

It seemed to resolve itself about 25 minutes after I first saw him. Nevertheless,  he didn't get his soaked grain that night (Phantom got a second serving.)

The paddock that they live in is fed with hay forked off a round bale and I usually give them a bunch before I leave at night, but I didn't want Cisco to be able to gobble a bunch up. I had a small hole hay net in my trailer so I set that up on the fenceline. I thought that either Phantom and Pete wouldn't let Cisco eat with them or that they would all share and thus Cisco wouldn't get very much of it and everyone would be able to have some. Unfortunately, Cisco seems to have been asserting his dominance as of late and when I left he was eating from the net by himself. I had put down very small piles for the other horses so they didn't get left out. 

I alerted the barn owner in case he starts coughing again in the morning, in which case I'll have to get him looked at. Fingers crossed he decides to chew his food!

Just Trying to Stay Chill

 I don't know how people in warm climates get anything done in the summer.

I've been camping out at my parent's house after work all this week to get relief from this heat dome that has settled over much of the western part of North America. They put in central air conditioning a couple of years ago and my mom likes to keep the house ridiculously cold. I'm currently sitting on their couch, wearing a hoody and a blanket over my legs because it's about 13 degrees Celsius downstairs. No complaints because it's 36 outside, and despite my portable air conditioner being on since 7:30 this morning, my house is still 27 degrees downstairs and over 30 upstairs.

Even barn cats are finding this weather too hot to do anything but lay around. 

I mean, when one walks into the house and gets offered a Fudgsicle, then gets served crab-stuffed salmon for dinner, who would be stupid enough to complain?

I've been heading out to the barn late in the evenings, getting there at about 9 pm. The sun doesn't set until well after 10 pm at this time of year, but when I arrive it's low enough in the sky that it's not burny and the temperature out in the country is actually quite pleasant. 

There hasn't been a cloud in the sky all week.

The ponies have been happy enough to see me and just get fed. I've had to work every morning after I've been out to the barn so I haven't been spending too much time out there. Gotta get home and try to get my house to cool off a wee bit before trying to fall asleep!

The pony popsicles were very much enjoyed.

The heat is supposed to break on Sunday, which is the first day of my vacation. Fingers crossed the weatherman gets it right for once!