Wednesday, January 28, 2009

It's A Blizzard! But the Sun is Lingering at Night...

Yesterday was the first day the sun was not set when I got off work. Yay! I actually managed to get home, and take Shaeffer for a walk while there was still daylight. It wasn't dark until about half way through our walk. It is still freezing here, more so than normal, but at least the daylight hours are showing signs that spring is around the corner!

I prefer walking when there is still daylight, obviously it is safer but it gives me a chance to check out some local guys! I mean, maybe that's kind of lame but let's be serious, when do I have time to go out and meet people? I've seen some fine hotties on my walks with Shaeffer and a nice smile helps melt the chill of the bitter cold.

A snow storm blew in this morning, although it is a bit warmer I can only see white out of my office windows. If I'm lucky I'll get off work early and get to head to see Fandango! Maybe even go for a ride outside...ooh I'm getting excited thinking about it!

He was moved yesterday to a temporary facility until March when he can move to his new stable. He is back at the riding school I got him from, the owner was nice enough to let me bring him in on very short notice. He's living in an outside stall and is happy to have a good place to lay down and lots of hay and water. He is looking pretty rank in my opinion, nothing serious - but luckily I was able to move him on short notice. It's amazing how quickley care can diminish in a month. I will post some pictures later of him from mid december, and then ones I took last night. It breaks my heart that he wasn't getting proper care, and even with me giving him hay and water at night when I went out he still really lost a lot of his condition. I will never understand how some people think that type of thing is ok. I don't want to get into a big thing about it, I just know I am thankful for my amazing friends who let me move him and helped me out with trailering. Thank you guys!

I'm really happy that he will be at a place my best friend works at, so he will keep an eye on him for me and make sure he's behaving, plus it's only 10 minutes from my house. It sure beats the 50 minute drive to where he was before. That means a lot more time for me and the pony, walking the dog, and relaxing. It also means that on days like today - I can still make it out to the barn. It's such a good feeling when something that was stressing you out so bad turns around and actually puts you in a better place. It's a good start to 2009. February is almost here and Cuba is two weeks away....

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Burden of Boarding - What Makes a good Boarding Facility?

I will tell you straight up - I hate boarding my horse. Unfortunately I do not have a choice right now do to income, and the price of housing in the city I live and work in. I grew up with my horses in my backyard, minus a few years in between when my parents split. My mom always did all the work taking care of the horses, and my sister and I helped out by doing what we could at a young age. We started with just a 2 acre paddock and an old chicken coop converted into a run in shed. It was more than enough for my sister and I who just did pony club and schooling shows.

When my mom re-married we made the decision to either move right downtown into the city, or buy a small hobby farm in the country. We all agreed on the farm, and they purchased a cute, but rough little farm. My step father turned the old cattle barn and storage garage into our current Stable which has 6 spacious box stalls, a pony box stall, and room for a couple more stalls that is used for hay storage. Their barn is an Z tetris shape, and has one side open to our 25 foot run-in shed.

In highschool I did my best to help out my parents with the horses. My mom usually did mornings and I did afternoon's after school and in the summer. I would do night on and off also, however I wasn't the best teenager and I know at times my mother was left to do a lot of it herself. Thank you mom!! From years and years of being able to cater my horse care exactly how I wanted it, I have become completely spoiled. I would bring the horses in according to weather, temperature, if the flies were bad, etc, etc. In result our horses were always comfortable, and happy.

In addition to controlling their turn-out and stable time, I could ride whenever I pleased, do whatever I pleased, have whoever I pleased there, and stay in the barn as late as I wished! Does it really get any better than that? My dogs were always welcome, my friends could ride over and park their horse in a stall for the day and no one would care - it was our place afterall. No one cared if I went on an interior tack room decorating frenzy, or plastered my horses stall with ribbons and pictures. I could give my horse unlimited hay, bed his stall as deep as I liked, and give them all stall guards with massive fans blowing in their faces in the humid summer. I quickly realized once I moved to the city I would never find that freedom anywhere I board my horse. It is a very, VERY, hard thing for me to adjust to, when I have become so particular in my horses care.

I will admit I am really picky when it comes to horse care. I like it that way though, blame my mother and Pony Club. So what are some things to look for in a good boarding facility? A lot of depends on you and your horse.
First, you have to ask yourself some questions;
Most important is budget - What can you afford? There is no point in looking at a place that you can't afford. If you find yourself lost because of cost, you may need to work some extra hours like I do. It's tough, but worth it.
Does your horse need indoor or outdoor board? Do you require a stall?

How much turn-out does your horse require? Can your horse be turned out in a herd, or individual? Is turn-out amount and quality important to you?
What type of facility do you require? Do you need an outdoor ring? An arena? Miles of trails? A dressage arena, a cross-country course? Do you simply require a nice turnout area?

Are you looking for a competition barn? With lessons, coaching, trailering and support at shows?

Do the barn managers and employees hold the same values in horse care as you? Are they knowledgeable and experienced? Can they handle emergencies?

Look at the overall picture. Do you feel comfortable leaving your horse in their care? Are you able to not be at the barn for periods of time and not worry? Does the barn feel like a "good fit". These are all very important questions you must ask yourself before you start to look for a place for your horse.

Once you have a few places in mind, start making appointments to view them. Always bring someone with you for a second opinion. Once you are at the locations, there are a few things you must check out before making a decision.

Where would your horses stall be? (If they are going to be turned in)

What is the feeding schedule? How many feedings do they do a day? What feed do they use? Ask to see their hay to check the quality. Are boarders free to feed extra hay if they feel their horse needs a bit extra from time to time? Or, do they keep hay locked up in a mysterious place only employees know about. That is not a good sign!

How is the water supplied in the barn and in the paddocks? Is it fresh, it is always available? What do they do to prevent freezing?

Where is the turnout, and how long do they get turned out. What hours are they turned out? Do they offer booting, fly masks and blanketing if neccessary?

What type of fencing do they use? Is it properly maintained?

Find out about arena time (if they have one). What happens when there are lessons? How often do they drag the ring (indoor/outdoor)? Check the footing, how does it look? Is it dusty, or lumpy? Is there a noticible track around the edge?

Look around the barn, how clean and tidy is it? Are there enough cross ties for a few people, or will you be forced to tack up in your stall? Is there room in the tack room for all your tack and trunks?

Ask what the barn hours are. Are there times when they do not allow boarders on the property like holidays or Sundays? When the quietest and busiest times? What type of people board/ride there?

It is a lot to ask, and think about, but these are all things to take into consideration. Some of these things might not be important to your situation, so weigh them accordingly. If you make sure you do a good check you can ensure your horses - and your own happiness.

I'm in the process of finding a new place for my guy, so I am doing this myself right now. Wish me luck!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Baby...It's Cold Outside!

No seriously, FREAKIN' cold! It's bad enough I live in a city that is notorious for being colder than most cities in the province, now we are being hit with an arctic wind that could make you even want to cuddle up with Bush to get warm. After my incident with Shaeffer running away in the -30, I have smartened up and make sure I have adequate bundleing when I go out (as have I learnt to have a good hold on the pooch). It's so important to make sure the horses and dogs are also looked out for in this extreme weather.

There are some absolute musts when it comes to horses and extremely cold temperatures. Without the proper care they are at risk of getting sick, frost bite, and even death. Not only that, it's just plain cruel to not give your horse everything they need to stay comfy and happy. Horses are tough and the freezing temperatures don't bother them as long as they are comfortable.
The Must Haves:
Hay and plenty of it. Eating helps keep horses warm. It keeps their digestive system going and it helps keep their organs warm and working well. If your horse is fat and you are trying to watch their hay intake, try and feed them smaller portions more often so they are able to eat as continuously as possible.

Water, not snow. For obvious reasons, horses must have fresh water available to them. I know it can be very difficult when the temp drops significantly, but there are many ways around frozen buckets and water sources. Do a quick search on google or pop onto COTH and you will find help and options in no time. Frozen blocks of water in a bucket do not count as water. I do not want to see that anymore!

Shelter from the wind. If they aren't inside then please make sure they have something that they can tuck in away from the wind in. The majority of the time it is the cold wind that really is what bothers them.

A decent soft place to lay down, preferably with bedding. Not the most important (in my opinion it's high up there), but still important. There is nothing more I hate than a frozen base of hard poop balls where the horses have to stand or lay down. Who would want to lay down on that? It's not comfy and it's NOT making your horse happy.

Blanketing is not a must, but it is a favorite for a lot of people. I personally have a mild obsession with rugs for my horses, and that obsession has followed suit onto my dog. I bought Shaeffer a Shedrow dog blanket, it fits really well and even has leg straps to prevent shifting. It keeps him nice and toasty and I have actually had countless people in the city compliment me (him) on how sharp he looks. Possibly the best feature, is the collar that pops up for when it snows or is windy. He fits right in with all the college boys in the area who sport that lame ass look. I bought it at Greenhawk for roughly $30.00 and it was money well spent. You can't find something that good at a pet store at that price, plus they never have large enough sizes.

Both Fandango and Archie are dressed in Horseware for the winter. Fndg wears a medium weight Amigo turn-out and Archie a light weight Rambo turn-out with a high neck. Archie is roughed off all winter so he grows a coat and only gets an under blanket at times like these when it's below -15c. Fandango also wears an Amigo stable liner under his rug when it's colder and under his newmarket fleece in at night. Right now he has a fleece under his 2 rugs. 3 blankets is a lot for a Connemara but then again it has been -37c all week!

The majority of rugs by Horseware are expensive, but they are definitly worth it. My first event horse Westie was the ultimate blanket destroyer, he went through 8 blankets in 2 weeks. We spent $400 on a Bucas 10 years ago and I STILL have that blanket. It outlived Westie and is still used as a back up when necessary. Before I got Fandango he was turned out with two blanket destroying big boys - they were so insanely in love with wrecking blankets that one day when I went into work my co-worker found Fandango with Lucas stuck to him like they were about to enter a 3 legged (6 legged?) race. Lucas had jumped on Fandangos' back and ripped a hole in the top of the blanket. His leg went right through and they were basically attached to each other through this blanket. We had to cut the blanket off and poor Fandango looked like his knees were going to give out from carrying the weight of a 17 h beast horse. Anyways, I put my Bucas on him that night and he never had a problem again!

I can't stress enough how good these blankets are. I will only buy Rambo, Rhino, Amigo, Bucas, or Horseware. They are incredible blanket makers. Indestructible, no rubbing, and great fit differences for all horses. The Rambos work best on my tall thin Thoroughbred while I fancy Amigo for my round pony. You can see all their rugs on their website Horseware Ireland.

Time to make some tea and relax by the fire. The temperature is supposed to start to rise tomorrow. Fingers crossed I will be working in the barn!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Better in Time - Moving on is Hard to do

As I wrote in my first blog, I am recently single. However what was recent then isn't so recent now. It's been about 2 months and things are not any clearer, or easier between me and my past boyfriend. I have made the decision I should have made long ago to put it all behind me and move on. I am going to let go of all hope of him and I working things out, and focus on moving on and look towards new beginnings. It's not easy, definitly not easy for me. I think that's obvious. We broke up two months ago and I am still holding on. I'm hoping writing this will give me the push I need to shut the door on that relationship.

I have read many articles online about the stages of a break up, stages of moving on, stages of heart break, but there doesn't seem to be much consistency.
Most had the common first stage of realization. If that's the case I'm in trouble because I am clearly still in denial. Well, I was until last week at least. I think I have experienced my stages all backwards and mixed-up. I have already gone through anger, guilt, yearning, depression, loneliness, but I am still in denial. How can that be? Clearly there are no clear-cut stages for anyone dealing with heart break and loss.

It feels like I am possibly hitting the acceptance stage finally - and hopefully now I will be able to move on. Luckily, I have some great things in life to keep my mind off things. I have the love of a great dog and a few amazing horses who are always there for me when I need a shoulder to cry on. Nothing beats a hairy warm giant shoulder when you need a good cry, or a big neck to hang off of when you need a hug. My horses are my reason for being - without them I would be lost in life entirely.
I've been following some other blogs about how people are using their love of horses to help them acheive goals. One woman in particular's is Flying Changes Weight Loss Blog . She's trying to lose 100 pounds to get back into riding. Ok, maybe my goal isn't nearly as impressive, but I'm following her lead and using my horses as therapy to move on from this relationship.

I've been trying hard to get out and meet some new people. I haven't met that many since moving to the city. I worked 7 days a week last winter/spring and really didn't have a chance all summer to get out and being in a relationship pretty much meant all my time was spent in that, working or riding. My good friend just moved to the city and is my new roomie, so I finally have someone to go out with and do normal 25 yr old girlie things! Yay! It's already improving, we have already met some cool people in the city and my social calendar is busier than expected. Going to be very busy balancing work, weekend work, riding, walking the dog, studying for my course I'm home studying, and adding some fun in there somewhere!

I'd have to say I'm looking forward to my upcoming trip to Cuba the most. My roomie and I went 2 years ago and we are heading back to the same resort for the Carnival festival. Cuba is my all time favorite place, and if I could stay there forever I would. I will post more about Cuba another time, it is somewhere I am very passionate about. This picture on the right pretty much sums up Cuba. What's NOT to love? I went to Cuba the last time I had a really hard time moving on, and honestly I think it completely saved me. Spending my days in the sun, riding on the beach, and dancing all night in the humid moon lit paradise made it impossible to think about things that drag you down. I feel this trip will help close that wound once and for all.

So, for my self - and my horses, I promise to do as follows to help me move on and embrace the future.

I promise not to e-mail, text, or call the past. I promise to leave all texts to me unanswered. I promise to go out and meet new people - friends or more it's not important, it's the friendships that matter. I promise to dedicate a little time to me everyday...I won't have much but some is better than none. I promise to de-rail all thoughts of the past onto the plans of the future. I promise to buy a sweet pair of new shoes. I promise to continue to donate to local animal rescues whenever possible. I promise to study hard and continue to educate myself. I promise to have fun, smile and laugh. Finally, I promise to beleive that some day I will find a Pongo for my Perdita. I believe in true love and it finding you, I'm not focusing on finding love, but I have faith that some day, it will find me.
Dedicated to AF - "Better in Time" Leona Lewis

It's been the longest winter without you

I didn't know where to turn to

See somehow I can't forget you

After all that we've been through Going coming thought

I heard a knock Who's there no one

Thinking that I deserve it

Now I realize that I really didn't know

If you didn't notice you mean everything

Quickly I'm learning to love again

All I know is I'm gonna be OK

Thought I couldn't live without you

It's gonna hurt when it heals too

It'll all get better in time

And even though I really love you

I'm gonna smile cause I deserve to

It'll all get better in time

I couldn't turn on the TV

Without something there to remind me

Was it all that easy

To just put aside your feelings

If I'm dreaming don't wanna laugh

Hurt my feelings but that's the path I believe in

And I know that time will heal it

If you didn't notice boy you meant everything Quickly I'm learning to love again

All I know is I'm gonna be OK

Thought I couldn't live without you

It's gonna hurt when it heals too

It'll all get better in time And even though

I really love you

I'm gonna smile cause I deserve to

It'll all get better in time

Since there's no more you and me

It's time I let you go So I can be free

And live my life how it should be

No matter how hard it is I'll be fine without you

Yes I will

Thought I couldn't live without you

It's gonna hurt when it heals too

It'll all get better in time

And even though I really love you

I'm gonna smile cause I deserve to

It'll all get better in time*

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Thank You Ben!!! A Stranger is my Small Hero

Wednesday December 31st, 11:30am:

Picture this... it's New Years Eve. You have called in sick because you are fighting a bad case of bronchitis. It's -20 outside, wait... -30 if you include that nasty beast windchill. You finally get up enough energy to take your pooch out for a pee. You throw on some Uggs and a poof jacket over your tank and head outside for a quick second to releave your pooch. Just as you think you are ready to rush back into your warm home...your deaf bull of a dog pulls back and.....BAM! He's gone off like a rocket. No collar, no leash...and certainly no chance in hell he's hearing you scream his name like Yetti in the arctic. Well my friends, that was me on New Years Eve....

11:32 am: Sheaffer was gone in a split second. He ran straight across the road through 2 lanes of traffic that were in the middle of a traffic jam. Cars were slamming on breaks as he, and I, ran through and continued down the road. This dog was acting like a hyena on crack. He was given'er as fast he could barking at every person he saw. He would stop for a second to bark at them and I would take the opportunity to scream for them to grab him. "He's friendly, I can't call him he's deaf!! Please grab him!!!". Do you think they did? Of course not....they just stood there with a dope eyed look on their face like I was the one on drugs. I chased that damn dog for about 20 minutes up and down the same streets in the FREEZING cold with little clothing on and was quickly losing my breath. Bronchitis and cold air do not mix. I had to have screamed at 30 people for help and no one, NOT ONE person did anything AT ALL!! I was so frustrated and scared my dog was going to get hit by a car, or I wasn't going to be able to keep up with him and I felt an asthma attack coming on.

11:52 am: This is when my angel appeared. A man who was in the middle of doing his own thing ran up to me and asked me the dogs name. I said "Shaeffer, but he's deaf so I can't call him. He knows this hand signal (showed him the sign) to come. He's friendly, just loud". This surprising person told me he would go one way down the street, and I would go the other cutting him off. He was running, I was running...he was yelling at people...I was yelling at people. We were stopping cars on the highway as Shaeffer crossed back and forth, having the time of his life; jumping and barking at people, speeding from one street to another. He finally crossed the highway one more time and headed East. The amazing stranger ran after him and chased him behind a building where I was able to meet him at the end of the alley way on the West end. Shaef was cornered. He only had one choice but to retreat. He looked me in the eye, and came to my signal. He sat right in front of me while I put his collar back over his head and wrapped the leash around his neck.

12:12 pm: I stood up and ran over to the helpful man. I was crying "thank you, thank you!!! I would never have caught him without your help!!". I asked him what his name was, he said "Ben". I said "thank you Ben, you have no idea what it means to me that you helped me. Thank you, thank you". He just said "no problem, it would have been a lot easier if some of those other people around would have helped eh", and away he went. He was right, and I could never have caught my dog without his help. It really scares me to think what might have happened. He might have been hit, he may have ran to the point where I lost him and never found him again. Why out of so many people was there only ONE person who was kind enough to help me?

I made the long, numbing, breathless walk home, with a tired pooch in tow. He had a small goatee of ice hanging off his chin. He was tired, but I know he felt defeated and was not happy. I was not happy either. I had been running around for almost an hour in -30 weather wearing nothing but a jacket and joggers. It felt like my lungs were bleeding inside. I didn't have the energy to sit at my office all day, I certainly didn't have the energy to deal with that situation. When I got home I put the kettle on and flopped on the couch. I pulled my quilt over me and ignored the dog. He sat and stared at me for a good 10 minutes. He knew I was pissed. I was in pain. My lungs were struggling to release air and my skin was on fire from the warm air heating it up. It felt like a mild case of hypothermia. I couldn't move. I couldn't breathe. I wondered how Ben was feeling. I layed frozen on the couch for half and hour thinking about what a selfless person he was, and why it seems there are so few of them out there.

I am forever greateful to that stranger Ben, who became my friend thanks to his kind heart. He did not have to stop his own life and spend 20 minutes chasing a stupid deaf dog, but he did. He made a sacrafice of his own time and energy and with that he made some girl (this girls') day, and possibly year. He acted altruisticly and is a small hero in my eyes. I just wanted to say Thank You Ben. You are a great person, and now friend. I wish you the best in 2009. Shaeffer and I will never forget the considerate person you are. You are an example for people everywhere. Thank You Thank You Thank YOU!!!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Happy New Year!! 2000 Oh 9'

Happy 2009 to everyone! So, I hope everyone had a good 2008. From what I have heard it from a lot of people it wasn't the greatest year. A lot of great people and friends were lost, and it was a really devestating year for the eventing community. Eventing heros were lost and lives were changed forever. I can only hope that SOMETHING will turn around in 2009, or I truely fear for the future of the sport I love. The changes I hope to see aren't only in eventing, there are a lot of things going on that need a push to a new direction.

What better time to put things behind us than the New Year. It seems to help people to have a date or goal in mind that acts as a turning page for the future. I guess that's why they came up with New Years resolutions. The only resolution I have made this year to just keep improving things. 2008 brought me to a place where I finally feel like I am living in the real world and getting somewhere. I hope to keep that going, and really just see where
my career and riding takes me in 2009.

My goals are to get Archie out eventing, and do some training and first level dressage with Fandango. I'm also thinking about taking him out hunting, I think he'd enjoy it and it would be great for his confidence. I'm working PT at a hunting barn now and I absolute LOVE hunting! It is just way too much for Archies' nervous brain and stick legs. Of course the big dreams is to get him to the World Buckskin Championships just for something fun and different, but depending on finances I will have to see about that!

I really REALLY hope that 2009 holds out and isn't too scary economy wise. I'm worried about all those people who are losing jobs and will be in a very scary situation. I'm lucky enough to be in a work field where there will always be a need. I do worry though, the people, the horses, the pets. Things are really out of whack and it's going to take a lot of brains and money to turn this around.

It's not the only thing that needs a turn around, I can't even begin to imagine what the eventing world needs to do to make a change. I have a lot of thoughts on that so I think I'll do a piece on it another time. I'm depressed enough about the loss of the long format, this year is enough to make me want to give up my life long dreams. I'm not going to yet though, I know there are people out there working for the changes we so deeply need.

New Years is a great night for parties, but can you believe that St. Patricks day is the day where the most alcohol is consumed in Canada? Apparently we prefer to celebrate the Irish over the New Year, but I really think it's because it is just too damn cold to be waiting for cabs at 3am. My friends and I were contemplating being illegal cabbies for the night to make some cash, but we got into the champaign and whiskey a little too early! We opted for the closest pub so we wouldn't have to cab it, walking home in -25 with a bottle of the fizz was one of the highlights of my night! There is nothing better than having great friends to ring in the New Year with!

So....good bye 2008, you were quite the roller coaster and brought some great amazing things, but mostly you were a pain in my rear and I all I can say is "don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out"!! Here is to 2009, let it bring us great success and joy!!

In loving memory of:

Zoe t Jacobs, Theodore O'Connor, Frodo Baggins, Call Again Cavalier, Tsunami II, Bishop, Nullabor, Tigger Too, Eight Belles, Moon Man, Direct Merger, The Quiet Man...and anyone I missed who lost their lives - you will be greatly missed, and never forgotten.

pooch pictures taken from poochcafe
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