Monday, 16 October 2017

Ground School

I do not love groundwork.   I pretty much never lunge my horses unless I think they are lame.  I think I have resistance about it for a few reasons:

  1. When I was in my late-teens my barn family was taken over by the Parelli cult training methods.  Blue had recently been diagnosed with navicular and I was repeatedly told that it was my fault because I jumped him, rode him a lot, and didn’t do groundwork with him.  I tried to join in on the groundwork party (because I couldn’t ride then anyway with my lame horse) but honestly Blue hated it so much and we did not have any fun.  I don’t hate all Parelli people (some of friends IRL do Parelli stuff) but the attitude that began to exist towards people who actually rode at my barn was not cool at all, I should have beat those motherfuckers with their carrot sticks. 

  2. I boarded Apollo for a year at a barn that was very natural horsemanship-focused, the coach kept me on the ground for all my lessons.  She pretty much convinced me that I was so lousy at groundwork (true story) than I shouldn’t be riding (um no).   Eventually I had to sit her down and tell her that every time I need to ride to build my confidence about riding (which was at an all-time low).  She finally let me ride and told me that I was much better in the saddle than on the ground… k. 

  3. If I don’t ride I start to convince myself that I can’t ride.  Any stretch of time off from riding more than three days and I will get nervous about it.  Making sure than I get my butt in the saddle (or bareback horse as it were) is very important to me, more important than groundwork.

I did do a fair bit of groundwork/desensitization stuff work with Mystic and Henry when they were small bbs.  So I don’t totally suck at groundwork.
See? And look at that adorable bb Mystic (She's like 1.5 here)

But lately my back has been bugging me a lot.  And there are some issues with my horses that could use some work.  The last time I loaded Mystic into a trailer we had words.  Henry can be pushy on the ground.  I also want to teach Henry to carry the flags at the barn and would prefer to start that from the ground.  I’ve also always wanted to try some “cowboy challenge” type events with my horses (once I have saddles and wheels).  I think devoting some time to groundwork would be a huge benefit for all of us as I try to get my back sorted again. 

Bareback trail horse because my back hurt too much to lift the western saddle

So please share with me… what are you favorite ground exercises to do with your horses? 

So far my greatest hits are free lunging/join up stuff, schooling turn on the haunches/forehand, and walking over tarps. I’ve been searching youtube to add a few things to my repertoire but would love any suggestions from blogland. J 

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Balancing Things Conversation

So 2017 didn’t turn out the way I’d imagined.  I was quite sure I’d be spending my 32nd birthday sitting on the porch of my new acreage watching my horses graze.  It didn’t turn out that way.  And that’s ok. 

For most of 2017 I felt like I was treading water and just barely keeping my head above the surface.  Sometimes drowning, but usually managing.  Particularly in terms of my finances and my energy-level. 

I told myself that I just needed to continue working like a crazy person until the condo sold and I moved into my sweet acreage life. I worked 60+ hours a week but still could never seem to afford to get a haircut or do anything fun for myself.  Horse boarding costs have majorly contributed to my current lack of funds.  I was hesitant to uproot the horses earlier because I didn’t want to have to move them twice in a short period of time (to a temporary spot and then on to my acreage) and I knew they were happy in their current locations. 


I recently quit my part-time job.  Which was necessary for so many reasons.  This was a good step for my sanity.  But this, of course, further depleted my financial resources.
So I have decided to make a change. 
I am on the hunt for cheap (but reasonably close and safe fencing) pasture board for all three horses.

This is ideally where they will all stay until I am able to purchase an acreage.  It will obviously suck to leave my sweet indoor boarding situation in the winter time but I simply can’t afford it.  And I won’t be able to lesson over the winter months either.  Those things suck.  But there are some things that don’t suck… A smaller board bill will give me more money towards:

  • Buying high quality proper fitting tack for everyone
  • Buying a horse trailer
  • Paying off debt and actually saving money for once

I got to a place where I was seriously debating down-sizing my herd.  Which is probably a more practical thing to do.  But really - if my horses get ridden a bit less in the winter they won’t die.  If I keep feeling so stressed about money my head will probably explode. 

So I will have to learn to be one of those tough outdoor winter rider types until I can afford a trailer I suppose!

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Color Quandary

I had the chiro guy out for my horses last weekend.  I try to have him out at least once every three months because my horses are all ridden by an extremely crooked human (yours truly). 

He also is really great about saddle fit, more so with Western than English tack.  I had him look at Mystic's new saddle.  He thinks the fit is overall really good but did notice a very small amount of bridging.  I couldn't really feel it, but to be honest I spent more time checking the fit around her shoulders because that's where the previous one seemed to want to pinch all of a sudden.  He recommended using a pad that I can add a shim to.  He also said she was a saddle fitting nightmare hahah - which I have heard before from the Saddle Geek.

I'm currently using my friend's Diamond Wool pad which is a nice thickness and quality, so I'm going to ask for another one (that's shimmable) for my bday.

One of these:  http://www.diamondwoolpads.com/shop/pressure-relief/contoured-relief-pads

But I'm having a heck of a time choosing the color!

I've narrowed it down to four and would love some input.  I am mostly turn between the navy (which looks like a beautiful indigo on the website but might be a more boring navy in person) and the purple.  They don't have all of the colors shown as a pad (mostly just squares of color), so it's harder to picture them.  Mystic's "color" is supposed to be purple for her gear but I haven't really stuck to that. 

Here is a pic of the saddle if that helps with color choice :)

Here are my top four color choices:

1) Navy

2) Purple

3) Turquoise

4) Royal Blue

Which do you think would look best on her?  Or is there another wildcard that I should go for from the other colors listed on the site?

Opinions appreciated :)

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Learning to Share

I have been horrible at sharing for my entire life.  I can distinctly remember being six years old and asking my mom to make my friends leave because I was tired of sharing my toys with them.  Don’t I sound fun? 

Mystic thinks I'm cool (if I have cookies)


So obviously I am an obnoxious weirdo about sharing my horses.   Coach D has ridden Apollo and Mystic.  SP, who started Mystic, rode her and a few of her working students did too.  Last spring my friend M rode Apollo and Henry.  RK rode Henry and Apollo in training.  And that’s about it for the past five years.  I was planning to have Apollo be my husband’s trail horse but we all know how that went.

Proof I'm not a total A-hole

I have a good friend at work who had to put her horse down last fall.  She half-heartedly horse shopped at the beginning of the summer but nothing really grabbed her.  I’m not sure if she wasn’t quite ready or the right horse didn’t show up.  I found a lease situation through another horsey friend that she will likely be going ahead with soon, but in the meantime I have offered her to ride Mystic a few days a week.


It took me a long time to decide I was ok with that.   Mystic is my best horse at the moment (and by that I mean most quiet and useful, plus she has a saddle that fits) and I kind of want to be greedy and keep her to myself.  But honestly she is a bit tubby and now that the days are getting shorter, there are only so many days I can ride (mostly weekends).  The extra rides would help manage her weight and it’s probably good to have someone ride her besides me once in a while.

Sharing these views


Sharing Mystic will likely be a short-term thing (unless the lease doesn’t pan out) but I think it will be good thing.  I’m not planning to sign a contract or asking for any money, unless it becomes a bit more long term.   My friend C will likely be around (she lives on the property) or will ride with Mystic’s new occasional friend, and will report back to me if they’re having any trouble. 


Any thoughts for me about horse sharing?  Does this mean I’m a mature adult?  :P

Thursday, 28 September 2017

My Saddle Has a Birthday

I have been scouring the facebook market for something used that would save me and my tiny bank account from buying a custom saddle for Henry and I.

I didn't find a lot that would work for me (giant humans need long flaps) but I did find a few that would work for Henry.  I hummed and hawed. 

Can't stop using this pic because H looks so handsome

The used market just isn't cheap enough in Canada, if I'm only going to save $1000 - might as well just get everything I want and have it be brand new.  Not that $1000 is no money (it's a lot of friggin money) but when you're already spending that kind of cash, you should get what you want.

I decided that I would pull my Amerigo out of the tack shop on November 8th (I signed a contract that I had to leave it in their shop for a minimum of 90 days - that's day 90) and sell it for super cheap, and get my damn saddle ordered. 

Soon I will have dis (with a longer flap)

I texted the Equipe rep to let her know that I was still interested and my ballpark timeline of when I'd be ordering.  She told me that she would take the Amerigo on consignment and I would get that credit towards my new saddle.  Like when you buy a new car and they take your old car and give you credit towards your new car.   Which is awesome.  She made me a very fair offer on what kind of credit I'd get too (more than I would been asking for it in my original post-November 8 fire sale idea).

So my new saddle's birthday is November 8th. 

I'll keep saving up in the meantime of course but at least I know I can order it then for sure.  If the Amerigo happens to sell sooner I will order sooner.

I will hit the thanksgiving/Christmas breaks so I would anticipate it would arrive in December (maybe) or January (more likely). 

41 days to my saddle's b-day! 

Tuesday, 26 September 2017


And I’m not talking about horsey transitions.  Although I have been doing a lot of those lately!


The transition in my life from working 60 hours to working a more “normal” 40 hour week have been huge.  Some positive and some… not so much. 

Mostly I am just sleeping so much.  Last night I slept 12 hours.  At this point I’m telling myself that I need to catch up.  If it continues past a month (my last official day was September 10, so it’s only been two weeks) then I might chat with my doctor about it.  It is such a gift to be able to go actually bed when I’m tired.  Even if it’s 8pm.  I used to stay up late so I could actually chat with my husband/watch TV/relax a bit after a long day of work.  Now I put my pjs on and go to bed when I’m tired.

This is me right now...

I had all these ambitious ideas about what I could do with all this free time (take piano lessons, have a social life, take dance lessons with my husband, try out some new fitness classes etc).  And that’s just not going to happen yet. 

I have been running though.  It’s harder than I remember but it feels good to be back at it. 
I also have had some really wonderful rides on all three horses.  I think they appreciated a less-rushed human.  I have been riding lots!  Way more than before.

I have to admit though.... I do sort of miss the momentum of a very busy schedule.  Even if something made me anxious (riding Henry after a fall etc) I had to get it done in the small window of time I had available, so it kind of forced me to do things.  Now with all this free time I seem to have trouble structuring my day, and it’s easier to push the “uncomfortable” things to another day.  I think part of the reason I’ve always kept myself busy is so that I don’t have time to be anxious.  But now I do.  And I am figuring out how best to manage that.

I have made an effort to devote more time to self-care.  I’ve dropped some much needed cash on chiropractic and acupuncture.  I even have a nail appointment booked tonight and a hair appointment in October.

There is some saddle news in the works but nothing official to share yet :) 

Monday, 11 September 2017


I have more thoughts about the custom saddle to discuss but first I have to share some happy news about Apollo…

Let me back up a little bit! 

I’ve owned Apollo for 10 years.  Sporadically throughout that time he’s been hard to catch.  I think once a horse learns that behavior it will always sort of be in there.  He had very little contact with humans in his first 8 years of life so it’s not exactly shocking.  It’s kind of his “go-to” if I’m not very consistent in my riding schedule or if our communication has broken down in the saddle.   Also if I’m in a huge rush or very stressed out he senses that and runs away from me and the dark rain cloud over my head.  I’ve learned a lot of catching horses, keeping emotions in check, bribery (hah) and horse behavior from his hard to catch habit – so part of me is grateful for that. 

When he got back from training with RK he was pretty much the worst he’d ever (except for that one time that it took me like 7 hours to catch him…).  Shortly after he returned I broke my nose.  I was extremely crabby and in pain.  I decided that catching him was not an urgent issue, although I did manage to get a leather halter onto him eventually.  I kept the leather halter on longer than I normally would have because I just because I knew my stress levels were out of whack and I still wanted to be able to grab him for health check/grooming/flymask/flyspray reasons at the very least. 

He's been great in my lessons with ST and really seems to respond well to her suggestions for us

A few weeks ago I finally decided that we could ditch the leather halter for good. 

The most I’ve ever gotten from him is that he’ll see me and walk over.  90% of the time he just stares at me and waits for me to come over.  I give him a cookie right after I put his halter on to re-inforce that having your halter put on is pretty much the greatest.  When the baby horses moved into his pasture he’d sometimes walk over (and receive a cookie) but he would never leave the herd and follow us in.

And what did he do on Tuesday? 

He followed me in with Henry. 

Henry was not a fan tho

I was only planning to catch Henry because he had a saddle fitter appointment and I only had one halter.  I figured he’d follow us halfway and then turn around.  Nope he came to the gate.  So I caught him and gave him a cookie.  He came in supervised the saddle fitter appointment. 

This year has not been my favorite so far but I am taking this as a breadcrumb that I'm finally on the right path with Apollo.  So that's my happy news :)  Maybe it's not awesome satin but it's a pretty huge win!