Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Canadian Weed Legalization Day


  Today is a day I never thought I would see.  Marijuana is officially legal across the country.  It was legal medicinally before, but now it is not only legal recreationally, but you can also grow up to 4 plants at your home!  This is going to be amazing for our economy, and for the medical research industry who can finally start to do research into all the amazing things Cannabis has to offer.

  Whether you are a user or not, approve of it or not, it will benefit many Canadians who don't have to turn to prescription meds, or have to hang out at a shady dealers place.  There are countless more options, like edibles, salves, vapes, oils, etc.

our famed coffee shop Tim Hortons

Smokey haze, with a chance of the munchies







  Close to where I am, there is a Native Reservation where dispensaries have been open for a few years.  The deal Canada made with Natives is complex, but they sort of live under their own rules.  The police have not bothered with anything on the Rez.  It has been really neat to see it grow from one shop to over 50 now.  Drive throughs, cafes, warehouses, with all kinds of cannabis goodies. They also have music festivals and information events.  It has been a fascinating change to the town to watch and partake in.

  The rez even became famous after one of the shops had an attempted robbery and the store clerk fought the men off with a bong.  I mean, this is pretty great.


  I am proud to be Canadian today and see the stigma finally lifted from Marijuana.  If you are going to partake to celebrate, please just do it safely.  And if anyone wants to come to Canada to partake, hit me up and I can offer you a place to stay :)

 I will leave you with my fav song from my fav stoners.  Happy Legalization day peeps!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

My Last Rides on Indy

Definition of a heart horse
  I'm going through a bit of an emotional roller coaster right now.  You see, Indy had a very bad fall in the pasture a little over a month ago.  I came home to find him three legged lame, without a shoe, and in terrible pain.  At first I thought his leg was broken.  It was sort of hanging, and he would swing it out and around to walk.  It was swollen but not much heat, and he let me pick it up and move it around.  He wasn't moving too well though.  I cold hosed him, poulticed and wrapped and put him in a stall.  I found his shoe in the field and it was twisted all to hell.  I can only surmise that he was running around, overreached, and tripped and fell and went ass over head into the ground.

  The swelling subsided after a few days but he still couldn't walk right.  I talked with my friends, parents, and sister as we tried to work through what it might be. He wasn't broken leg lame but more, dragging and swinging.  He could stand on it, but the toe dragged and he had a hard time backing it up.  It was as if he couldn't feel where his leg was.  There was no pain reaction. My second thought after a break was that it was a suspensory injury.  I did a lot of reading, and the diagnosis was kind of close but not quite right.

He is truly the most beautiful man 



 I started to really feel sorry for myself, and Indy.  If any horse does not deserve this, it is him.  I thought about how close we were to our goals this summer, and that I may never event him again.  I am embarrassed to admit it now, but I was really down thinking about how we would never finish a Pre Training event when we were so close to being ready.  As the days went on, I started realizing how trivial those thoughts were, when the question started to become not if he would event, but if he would be ridden, and then to if he could even be comfortable.

  My sister works at the vet office, so I was in contact with her a lot and she was discussing his symptoms with the vet and giving me ideas.  The vet thought it might be nerve paralysis.  I did some reading online, and although it seems rare and there wasn't a tonne of info, what I did find described how he was moving to a tee.  The vet came out to do an assessment in person shortly after and we confirmed it was most likely a nerve issue.  She checked his pelvis and didn't think anything was broken, same as his neck.  The neurological test showed he was very positive for neuro issues.  He couldn't walk in a straight line.  He couldn't hold himself up when you pull on his tail.  It seemed to have traveled to both his hinds and he was clearly unaware of where his hind legs were.





 The vet prescribed Dex for 10 days.  A strong dose and then tapering off at the end.  If there was swelling causing his nerve to be pinched it might help.  It is almost impossible to know where the damage could be without doing really vigorous testing.  Even then it would be "maybes".  That just isn't an option for me and also will not change the outcome.  The final diagnosis was still a bit up in the air.  And the treatment is also a "wait and see" type of deal.  If he improves then there is hope.  If he regresses, then there is not much hope.  I was hopeful because in the days before the vet came out he was showing some improvement.

 The steroids immediately helped with swelling in his leg.  His mood however became very depressed.  He was moping around the paddock and looked absolutely miserable.  It was really hot and humid that week, and the vet assured me it was likely the drugs and weather that had effected his mood.  She was right, after the heat passed and he finished his round of Dex he was acting much more like himself.  As the days went on he was walking better, still funky, but better.  A few more days passed and he trotted in the field.  I started crying I was just happy to see him feeling good enough to move around out there.  I was becoming more hopeful that he would be comfortable enough to retire and live out his days.


His first Pre Training in a monsoon



  Another week passes, and I am giving him nightly massages.  His back is wrecked with knots that have to be worked out daily.  I wake up one morning to find he has fallen in his stall and taken out the wall.  He is also sitting against the wall all night and there is no hair left at the top of his tail.  I put his Back on Track sheet on him on the nights its not too hot and am religiously massaging his back and hind end and it seems to help.  For a few days he stops leaning on the wall, and I see him cantering in the field!  A messy, scary canter, but a canter no less.  Once again, I am hopeful.

  The next week he is again cantering in the field, and since he doesn't have a good handle on where his legs are, he slips and falls again.  My heart absolutely sinks in fear.  He lays there for a minute and then gets up.  He seems no worse for ware but his back is yet again really tight after this and he is back to leaning on the wall at night.   I continue my routine of back massaged and Back on Track.  He seems happy enough to be turned out and move around, except he spends most of time at the hay.  He normally follows Penny around like a lost puppy.  I see she is eating over by the neighbors horses pasture, and its just really unlike him to not be beside her.




Im yelling as he attacked this in beast mode


  The days carry on, and he falls again in the field.  Then I go in the barn one morning and his stall mats are out in the aisle.  He looks like he is moving OK one day and the next he can't walk in a straight line whatsoever.  I'm tormented by the image of this seemingly perfectly healthy horse in front of me who can't make it through the day without falling or hurting himself.  His hocks are covered in sores from hitting the wall in the stall at night.  I have him bundled up from head to toe in Back on Track wraps, hock wraps, blanket etc, but he is still struggling.  He looks fabulous, he eats amazing, but his attitude is changing.  I can tell he is in pain.

  Last weekend, I saw him standing in his field for hours.  He wasn't moving, just standing.  I could tell he was sore and tired.  I knew I was being faced with a decision I didn't want to make.  Do you keep trying and hope he can live a comfortable life, to risk him seriously injuring himself again, potentially fatally.  Or do you make the call, and risk cutting a life short that maybe could have recovered from this life altering injury.  I am not good at making these decisions.  I am not good at even thinking about these decisions.


He was a natural in the dressage ring

heading out on XC at our first Pre Training.  We retired but I blame the rain and my confidence. He was stellar.
  




  Instead I think about how the last ride on Indy was the last time I would ever see his giant lion mane beneath me.  Or how I jumped off, not realizing we wouldn't be crossing finish lines ever again.  Or how this horse so dear to me always gave me so so much, and is a dream to have around.  I think about how Penny would feel if she didn't have her boyfriend to follow her around and protect her every day.  I think about all those nights we went for bareback dressage rides and he made me feel like a crazy young rider again. I think about how he gave so much at the track in his 70 starts, over 7 years, and how he so deserves to live out his days with his Penny and eating grass and being pampered.

  I don't want to think about the choice I know I have to make.  The choice I have already made in my heart.  I feel stupid for ever caring if we would event again.  I feel lost at the thought of a life without Indy.  I could fill a book with the stories of how he changed me, changed my life. Of how truly special a horse he is, not just to me, but to this world.  I have to say goodbye to my dearest friend soon.  I am not sure how I will be able to do this.





our very last ride together
***All photos are used with permission and are copyright Linda Shantz or Michaela Ibbotson, do not copy without permission.

Monday, October 15, 2018

October Dressage Lessons on Veronica


Miss Ron, PC: Linda Shantz

  This weekend was the weekend my dressage coach was down to do her two days of teaching.  As usual I rode my moms OTTB Veronica for both days.  Day 1 we go over how she has been, what we are working on and what I would like to work on.  I said I want to continue to work on myself (my bad hands) and also now that show season is done, canter transitions!

  Since Ronnie has been doing pretty good with her canter transitions since the last lesson, we are ready to start working towards showing Training level next year.  That means more consistent and better outline in the way she goes, and super obedience in all gaits.  I will say though that Ronnie has always been really well behaved both in the ring and at shows under saddle.  Sometimes she can be a sass on the ground but - baby horses - amiright?

  Anyways, back to the lessons.  We started on Saturday correcting her outline.  She has too much of a "break" near the top of her poll, meaning she isn't using her back enough and the roundness is not coming from the base of her neck, but instead near the poll.  This was due to my fear of her getting over-bent and going behind the vertical.  Daphne explained that in order for me to get her to stretch her neck out and lift the back and get the roundness from the base of the neck, I had to go further than I have been where she may go behind the vertical, and then push her head out from there.

  Ahh, light-bulb moment.  I have been basically giving up before I reached the real sweet spot.  We did mostly work on engaging the inside hind leg and working her into my outside rein, and riding through that bit where she might go to deep and into what is a more proper "working trot" frame.  What a difference in how she carried herself.

  We ended with some right lead canter, which she picked up no problem.  Again working on me riding her more from behind and into my hand, and a more correct frame and rounding of her back.  Day 1 of my lessons are usually just getting all my bad habits that have crept in again, corrected.  I can tell when its lesson time looming as I just start to feel like a mess up there.

  Day 2, we did an exercise to help our canter transitions.  It started with leg yields from the quarter line.  First I ride the line, from the turn on quarter line to the letter.  Then I ride the line, and add some leg yield as we go down the line.  Ronnie is still pretty green, so we would do a sequence of ride the line, leg yield or ask her to move away from my leg even just a few strides, then ride the line to the letter.  After working through this several times both directions, we extend the line and turn from the center line instead of quarter line.

  From there, once you finish your leg yield, you do a walk transition in the corner, walk a few strides, and then trot again, and turn down center line - line - leg yield - line - repeat.   It sounds easier than it is.  Or maybe I am just a bit slow LOL.  The walk/trot transitions come up quick after the leg yield, and the center line comes up quick after the transitions.  I forgot them a few times and had to circle.  This was not an exercise you can do when you are not on the ball.  It really makes you focus and ride every single stride.

  Once we mastered this, which took a few times around the arena, I was to ask for the canter instead of doing the walk transition, but only when she felt ready and in my outside rein.  Our first attempt and BAM - perfect transition right on the aid.  No fuss, just right into canter.  Back to trot, riding the trot transition in slight shoulder fore, then directly back into the exercise.  Once again waiting until she feels like she is right where I want her before asking for the canter.

  We repeated this exercise several times both directions and her transitions were seamless.  It was pretty incredible how the exercise set us up for success.  It gave me a lot to work on with her over the next month, and I am really excited to try that exercise with Penny too who needs help with her transitions.  As always, I took a lot away from my weekend and am excited to put all my new tools to work and see where it gets us!

Some video of our Sunday lesson with the exercise below.




Friday, October 12, 2018

Ronnie Flat School October 12 2018 - Daphne is Right Again

The beautiful Miss Ron

  Do you have a coach that is just always friggin right?  I do.  I've been working with my moms mare Veronica since last spring.  I have been taking all my dressage lessons on her, and was showing her this summer.  She has been coming along really, really well.  Aside from a few issues this summer like saddle fit, and then a sore back because of this, she has been ticking along pretty consistently.

  We showed Walk Trot all summer, both schooling and recognized.  She won every single class she entered, and was high score for the show at almost every show.  We have basically filled out our Walk Trot punch card and are aiming for Training/First Level next year.  We just had one thing holding us back this summer from being able to get out of Walk/Trot.  The canter.

  Although Ronnie can canter, and she canters quite nicely when she does, her transitions were not just MEH, they were down right awful.  She really sucked back, became nappy, or would scoot away.  She was displaying some serious anxiety, getting quick and then balking, sometimes even turning around to try and bite or kick me on her back.  Yeah, good times.

  After her new saddle arrived she improved again.  Physically she was good to go, but she was still not quite respecting being in front of the leg when you asked her to canter.  In my last lesson, Daphne suggested we do some lunge work.  Either single line or double, and work on the canter, getting used to the outside rein and to listen to the rider/trainer and move when she asked to.

  I'm just not a fan of lunging for reasons I won't get into.  I can lunge, and my horses can and I will do it here and there but for the most part I don't really include it in my program.  Since my mom rides Ronnie for the most part and I just do the crash dummy work like canter, and take her to new places, I asked my mom to start lunging her at the canter between when I can come out to ride her.

  She has been diligent about it and lunging her pretty regularly.  At first Ronnie was pretty defiant, and would kick out at you, run off, try and turn around....you know, all the usual tricks.  Last night I went over to ride her and my mom told me she has been really really good for her canter on the lunge this week.  We were excited to see if it would carry over under saddle.

  And it did.  She picked up her canter immediately after I asked and cantered this really beautiful quality canter.  No fuss, no shenanigans.  Again on her left lead which she normally really struggles with, she gave me no issues, and I had a really lovely canter to work with.  So it seems as though the lunge work has helped her understand the transitions and the cantering into the outside rein immensely.

And yet again, Daphne was right.  I mean it's not the worst thing in the world having your coach be right all the time, but man, I wish I would have listened to her sooner. LOL



  Two days of dressage lessons with Ronnie coming up, let's see what I can learn/be wrong about this weekend.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Pretty Little Farm...The Beginning


I made this, amazingly lol

  It has been 18 months since I officially moved to my new farm.  My old farm was seemingly perfect.  It was set up for horses, nice huge lit ring, heated garage, and the XC course I built myself that took me countless hours of blood sweat and tears.   The farm however, did not leave me with good memories.  In fact the opposite, too many bad memories to be able to stay there.  For other reasons involving my safety,  I had to sort of disappear. I will write about this some day when I feel ready, but today is not that day lol.

  Leaving a farm like that was heartbreaking, it was basically the farm I dreamed of my whole life.  But I tried to see things in a bigger sense.  New life, new farm, new start.  When I decided to sell my farm, the market in the area I moved to was gaining momentum.  With my lowly budget, and the need for room for my horses and dogs, the choices were slim.  Land is expensive.  Houses are expensive.  Horses are expensive.  Lucky for me though, I have an awesome realtor who knew exactly what I was looking for, and how to get it.

  I looked a couple of really rough places, but they didn't have either water or septic, or the cost to repair was too great.  Then my realtor messaged me one morning at work and said there was an old place just listed, in my budget and with a little land a little barn.  But I would have to act fast.  She asked if we could meet her at lunch to check the place out as there was already a lot of interest.

  My dad and I met up with her on my lunch break.  The house basically sold itself for me.  A gorgeous century farm house, in need of some major TLC.  The bones were good though and that's what mattered.  There were a couple of paddocks, a shelter, and an old barn in dire need of repair but it was all workable.  Both neighbors on either side had horses, and there were no close houses.  The one neighbor used the properties water in exchange for money, but I proposed the exchange be for use of one her paddocks instead which she thought was a fine deal.  Looking at this house, my imagination ran wild with the possibilities. 

This is still 6 months after move in and clean up

  I put an offer in while there were a boatload of people still wanting to see the place.  There were people pulling over to see the house while we were there!  Let me be clear, this place was actually a total dump.  There was garbage EVERYWHERE, like everywhereeeeee.  The barn was a disgusting mess.  Lets be serious, so was the house.  But I'm an artist, and I can see potential.  I'm a dreamer, and no dream is too big.  Plus I work my ass off, so I knew I could handle anything.  The offer was accepted by the one owner, but the other decided he didn't wan to sell and was going to be difficult (it was a divorce situation).  

  So back to the search it was.  Only a day later I got a call from my realtor that he had changed his mind, and that the little farm was mine!  It was a scary, but exciting time.  I listed my farm shortly after and actually sold it before it ever technically hit the market.  My old farm didn't close until the end of April, where the new one closed end of December.  This worked out nicely, as I had time to move my entire farm over a 4 month period, and also do some work to the house to get it OK for move in, the barn needed a complete reno before the horses could move in.  Thank god for those 4 months. I'm not sure if you have ever moved an entire farm before but let me tell you, do not recommend.

The gables are SO unique but also made it 10x harder to find someone to do the roof

chicken coop that I tore down

really elaborate but they neglected their animals so??

my favourite leaking chimney pipe NOT lol although sold it on Kijiji so not the worst thing ever


dont let the snow fool you, theres a lot of garbage under there!

thats the back yard....with 6 ft thistles lol

One paddock that was actually in decent shape

rabbit hutches EVERYWHERE

literally everywhere

a fav detail under the porch that was barely standing

a bit rough



  Cue the giant clean up, and barn building mission over the next few months to get it ready for the horses.  The mess itself was a lot worse than what you saw at first glance.  I had my work cut out for me that is for sure.  It didn't matter though, I had my own farm, and me and my animals were going off for a fresh start and a whole new adventure, in a big old farmhouse like I had always wanted.  

  One of the first days at the new farm, working away, listening to some JT and dancing away, I came up with the name Pretty Little Farm.  It works in a few ways, and has kept my vision alive throughout the last year and a bit as I work to make this pretty little farm, my new home.  Or should I say, "our" new home :).

it has hands down, the best views though!
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