Tuesday, January 31, 2012

William is Back Under Saddle

  Last week I decided Williams ground work has come far enough that he would be ready to go back under saddle. I won't lie, I was a bit nervous getting back on him, for a couple of reasons. Obviously, I don't want to get bucked off. I haven't yet and I would like to keep it that way. More importantly, I was hoping that all the ground work I had done was going to be successful, otherwise I would have to figure out what else the issue with him is and I really had no idea what else could be causing his scooting and bucking.

  The big test would be mounting.  He was always very tense while I got on, and did attempt to throw me when I was mid mount one day.  Not my idea of a good time.  I gave him a short lunge to get out any excitement and decided to get on with it.  He was fine for saddleing and tightening his girth.  A good sign since those acts would usually result in him being very tense.  I took him to the mounting block, and while I let him circle around me until he is comfortable, when I put my foot in the saddle and got on, he was noticeably relaxed and unscathed. 

  We did walk, trot, in each direction and there was no scooting or skittishness.  He did let out one HUGE buck, but I think it was more a playful thing than a trying to get me off thing.  I flew onto his head and he immediately halted.  This was good, the old William would have continued across the arena bucking.  I think it may have scared him, and he was perfect the rest of the ride.  I have ridden him 4 more times since that day and there have been no bucks, or scooting whatsoever.  It looks as though the time spent on the ground has helped him feel more comfortable under saddle and we should be able to continue on working him regularly now.

  Some video;

Monday, January 30, 2012

Where Have All the Bloggers Gone?


  I follow quite a number of blogs, and I try my best to not miss any posts.  If I don't get to them during the week, I usually take some time one day a week to catch up on what I've missed.  I was doing a clean up of my blogroll Friday night; getting rid of blogs that no longer post, and was surprised by all the abandoned blogs.  Maybe it shouldn't have come as such a surprise to me, since I have stepped away from my blog on more than one occasion, but I always came back.

 I started wondering what happened to these bloggers.  Some had sporadic posts to begin with so it didn't seem that out of character, while others posted daily, had many followers, and were active in the blogging community. One blog I saw had a Merry Christmas post as their last post.  Maybe they made a new years resolution to step away from the computer?  I can't help but feel sad that they have abandoned their blogs.  I am sure they are just fine without them, but I still can't help but wonder.

  Thankfully, some of the blogs that I had not seen an update on in a while had just been moved to a new site, and I missed the announcement when I was taking my blogging break.  It's been nice to catch up on what has been happening with those blogs.  

 What do you think has happened to these bloggers?  Have you lost any blogger friends and not known where they have gone?  I wish they would post a goodbye, or at least let us know they are ok.  I wish I could tell them we are missing them here in Bloggerville.

Friday, January 27, 2012

NCHTA Awards Banquet

  Last Saturday night brought on the National Capital Horse Trials Association awards banquet.  The NCHTA is a great organization that costs NOTHING to belong too, and they have a great little community formed by the more eastern region of Ontario's eventers.  They take certain events, most in the Ottawa and surrounding area, some in Quebec, and tally up scores for year end prizes and bragging rights.

 Two years ago Fandango had his big success by being Reserve Champion in the Pre-Entry division.  This year was Archies' turn.  Archie and I were Champion in the Entry Senior division for the year!  We took home a trophy and plaque to show off our success.

  The former Chief Executive officer Akaash Maharaj who just stepped down from the job, gave a speech that was very interesting and insightful on how changes were made from the Canadian Eventing program several years back, and the rewards and success the team is reaping now.  He was candid and professional, and he explained the difference in eventing from other equestrian sports, in that you can't really "buy" your way to the top in eventing.  At the end of the day, you still have to be able to ride when you go cross country.  He is an incredible public speaker and I am sad that he will no longer be the head of Canadas' Equine organization. 

  I had a great night at the banquet, and was reminded that all that hard work and perseverance paid off.  I also got jump started into excitement over this years show season. Only 3 and a half months away!

  Counting down the days...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Blogging Awards!

 I have received two awards from fellow bloggers, and I am finding the time to say THANK YOU!  And pass them along.

My Life With Flyball Dogs, I recieved the Kreativ Blogger Award;


For this award, I am supposed to share 10 things you may not know about me, my dogs, my horses;

1.   I was an actress for a few years, in several movies and T.V Shows.  I gave it up because it was too difficult to be on set and have horses.  I have rubbed elbows with quite a few celebrities.
2.  Broo is named after the English Sheep Dog on the Canadian Classic Childrens cartoon The Raccoons.
3.  Archie was sold for around $50,000 as a yearling.  I paid $1000 for him 6 years later.
4.  I lived in Scotland and Ireland for a period of time, working at Eventing yards.
5.  Broo is epileptic.
6.  Archies brother is
War Emblem, who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness..but tripped coming out of the gate at the Belmont.  He was sold as a breeding stallion to Japan for 19 Million dollars.
7.  I have been riding for 22 years, eventing for 17.
8.  Broo was the result of an accident.  A farmers Border Collie/Blue Heeler was bred with a loose Australian Shepherd, which was the farmers neighbours, top show dog.
9.   Archie loves having his chin scratched.  I caught him scratching his chin on a tree branch in the field last week.

10. I secretly believe Broo is the reincarnation of my teenage best friend (dog), Ben.

Now, for the passing on of the award to six blogs I enjoy;

A Collection of Madcap Escapades
The Adventures of Lucy
The Chronicals of Cardigan
Two French Bulldogs
I Still Want More Puppies
Simply Horse Crazy

The other award I recieved was from Dancing Horses, who awarded me with the Liebster Award.

Here are the "rules" for this award:

Liebster means “dearest” in German, and the award is intended to help up-and-coming blogs get the attention they deserve. As with any award, there is a bit of ceremony involved. In order to accept the award, we must do the following:
1. Copy and paste the award on our blog
2. Link back to the blogger who gave us the award
3. Pick our five favorite blogs with less than 200 followers, and leave a comment on their blog to let them know they have received the award.
4. Hope that the five blogs chosen will keep spreading the love and pass it on to five more blogs
The blogs I am passing this award on to are:

Confessions of an AA Eventer...
A Teens Dressage Dream
Bailey Be Good
Adventures With Shyloh

Please take the award and pass it on!

 Obviously, I love many more blogs that I can't include.  Thanks again for passing these awards onto me!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Bittersweet Enter into House (Farm) Hunting

The dream...a slightly more posh scale.

  Possibly the happiest moment of 2012 (not that it's been here for long), was when it became realized that Jesse and I will be able to buy a farm.  I have been browsing the MLS for a long time, never thinking we were actually going to start into the actual process of house hunting.  I ended up finding a property that has everything we are looking for, and is very close to where we are living now.  A cute little house, a pool, a barn with 4 stalls, paddocks, a workshop, and a huge professionally installed outdoor ring.  It was in our price range and absolutely adorable.  We decided to check it out and after a couple of viewings, we put in an offer.

  I was so excited, our first offer on a home.  I was dreaming and picturing all the ways I would make it my home, and how much the horses would love their new barn and pastures.  Well, what they say is true about home buying.  Don't get excited until the keys are in your hand.  We exchanged offers over a week with the homeowners and when we finally came to a number we could both agree on, my realtor e-mailed me to tell me the homeowner had called her to say the decided to take their farm off the market. UGH!  What a monumental waste of time for all of us.

Dream barn <3

  So, we were pretty heartbroken over this change of events.  Hope is not lost though!  We are now on the official hunt for our own place.  We are into the fun part of looking at places, and discovering what we like, what will work, and what we definitely don't like.  Finding a farm is even harder than finding a house.  There are so few for sale in the area we are searching, and there are so many things that you need when you have horses.  Some houses have land with no barn, some have nice barns with houses that need too much work, some are just a bit too far for our daily commute, then there are ones that are perfect for you, but just don't work out for whatever reason (still bitter).

  I am learning a lot about this whole home buying process, and am thinking positive that our future farm is out there, waiting for us to come home.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Archie's Lesson Journal Episode 2 - Dec 17th 2011


 This is majorly late but still very important for my lesson journal.  This lesson was my first jumping lesson with Archie in almost 2 years.  I was taking lessons with Rick a few summers ago and really loved his teaching method.  At that time, I just could not afford to keep going with lessons so they went by the way side.

  Since getting married and being back at the farm, I've been able to pay off a lot of my debts and also reconnected with my long time friend Dana.  Dana and I decided to take lessons together, figuring it would be a bit more fun.  Since Archie was havng a little break, I took Ace to my first lesson and she was almost perfect.  Archie was ready to start jumping again by the time we set up our second lesson.  We have since then had a third but I forgot my camera (d'oh!) plugged in in the tack room.

  This is Archies first time back jumping since his last horse trial, and our first jumping lesson together in a very, very long time.  We start out with working on our position.  Rick is a body killer.  As in, after my lessons, I can barely walk for the next few days.  He wants us in a position that I never ride in.  It is different and very difficult for me to hold this position the first few lessons.  Basically, your stirrups are jumping length, you are in almost a half seat, and your inner thigh is pressed into the front of saddle.  He explains the horses need to feel you there on their back.  We practice a lot of sitting trot in this position, feeling the front of the saddle bouncing into our upper thigh.  This is really annoying to Archie who is so super sensitive.  With sensitive horses you have to work through it, and desensitize them over time.  He needs to accept my leg, my seat, my thigh, in order to be able to be ridden properly over fences.

  The first exercise we did was a related line of poles on the ground.  For Archie the focus was to travel straight, and at the walk.  No rushing, and halting nice and quiet before the second pole.  The hardest part of this exercise is to keep Archie relaxed and reaching for the bit (no holding on my part), while in the jumping position.  This position takes Archie back to his racing days and he wants to just run run run.  After a few times he gets the hang of it and we can trot the exercise.  If he attempts to move sideways, I just straighten him out with my leg and come back to a walk if necessary.

  We moved onto a bounce, which eventually became a bounce, one stride, to a bounce.  Our focus through this exercise was to maintain straightness, and stay "over my stirrup".  My job as the rider was to not move - at all through the gymnastic.  I was to create what Rick calls the "Funnel".  Riding over my stirrup, touching in my right thigh slightly (as we were tracking left), and giving with my hands, but at the same creating a funnel through the front of the horse, allowing him to only go straight and into my hands.

  I will tell you this is the hardest thing to master.  Doing the Funnel and not moving an inch through the whole gymnastic, while trusting your notoriously exuberant jumper that he won't run through the whole exercise.  We did manage to jump the ENTIRE final bounce in once jump, but were able to correct it the next time through.

  We finished with some small courses, focusing on straightness and me riding over my stirrup and holding the Funnel.  If we lose straightness, we go back to trot or even halt.  Archie had some good rubs but he just needs to learn how to jump straight, at this point he only knows how to jump sideways (in his mind anyways).  I have some video, filmed via le tripod;

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ladies and Gentleman We Have Ice...Let's Make Margaritas

  I think we are all experiencing it.  The weirdest weather to hit the winter since that time I moved overseas and forgot winter existed for a moment.  Up here in Ontario (Canada in case you didn't know ;), in my region of Eastern Ontario, the average temperature at this time of year would be around - 6c to -25c at night.  The temperatures we have been experiencing the past few weeks have steadied around 2 to 5 degrees above 0, up to almost 10 degrees (50f).   This is UNHEARD of around these parts.  People are confused, but loving it.  I myself, HATE snow and winter...but like I said before, I can't help but be worried by this warm weather.

 Well, have no fear, the ice is here;

Just the beginning of ice to come...

my car at work...iced over.

The gargoyles were not pleased.

  Trees were down everywhere, most people within a 60 km radius lost power and the roads were a mess.  Lucky for us, my parents are on solar so we had enough power to get us through the night.  Nothing too serious, just a change from our unseasonably warm weather.  That is...until today. There was an insane blizzard, it snowed all day, and we now have almost a foot of fresh snow!  

  I guess winter was coming sooner or later.  The good news is the fields are snow covered so no more ice or mud...and the dogs absolute love playing in it.  It's supposed to go back up above zero next week....the weather is anything but dull this year. :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Libra Looking Ahead to 2012


  I'm not one to make yearly goals for myself.  I more or less dream towards the future and just know that what I want will become reality some day.  I do however, think it is good to have goals to aspire to.  To help keep you focused and give you drive.  This year I will jot down some ideas of what I want to accomplish and maybe what some of my bigger, long term goals are.

  First and foremost I want to pay off all my debt! I am almost there, getting so close I can taste it but not quite there yet.  I don't have much left (besides my car but I don't count that).  I have been a good girl and paying off anything I owe at a steady rate and that has definitely helped.  

 One of the bigger lifestyle changes for me will be my attempt to become a vegetarian.  I have succeeded from my start date of January 1st so far.  It is amazing how hard it is to decide what to eat when you aren't eating meat.  I am not a true vegetarian as I will still eat fish and seafood.  I do obviously love animals, but my real reasoning is the stomach pain I experience a lot of the time.  I read quite a bit on how hard it is for the body to digest meat and I just got the idea to give it a try.  So far I have been feeling better.  It will be interesting to see if I can stick with it and if it will help.

 Horse wise, I am planning on upgrading Archie to the Pre-Training (3ft) level here in Ontario at our first event pending things are going well when show season starts.  My ideal scenario would be doing a couple of training levels before the fall but that all depends on how the jumping is going.  The height and fear factor are not a problem.  Straightness and control are our number one enemy that I vow to defeat.  This is my big goal with Archie.  I would love to be in the top 3 for the province again this year but that is more a bonus of a good show season.  As any eventer would hope, I hope to maintain our clear cross country record and improve our dressage score.

  As for William, my goal is to have him going consistently and start him over fences by the summer.  I want to get him to at least one event, and a few schooling shows.  It is much to soon to predict whether this is doable but I am going to give it my best shot.  I mostly want to make sure he has consistent, positive training throughout the year.

  Blogwise, my goal is to post a little more often and stay up to date on all my favourite blogs I follow.  I really REALLY want to get a nice camera this year.  We will see if the funds allow for this in the future. I also want to keep my lesson journal current and up to date.  I think that could become valuable in looking back on progress over the years.

 In my personal life, I want to pursue my writing a bit more, and possibly take some online courses later in the year with the long term goal of finishing my degree.  My biggest dream, that I have had for who knows how long I can't even remember - is to lose my property virginity and become a first time farm owner.  This dream may becoming a reality sooner than expected, but I'm not counting any chickens before they hatch.
  It's a good month to be a Libra!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Looking Back on 2011


  2011 Started off with a crazy night as we hosted a New Years Party at my place.  I wasn't blogging again at that time, and we were still living in the city.  I dressed up as JEM for the party after seeing Kandee's makeup tutorial.  It was really cold at that time, and I was commuting an hour to work every day and riding my boys at 6 am every morning on the way to work.  Tiring times.

  February didn't bring much change, but I was looking for jobs within the city we were living.  I was still riding Archie and Fandango every morning and spending my nights tucked inside keeping warm and walking the dogs late at night.  Probably the most exciting thing to happen in February was that I sold my beloved Acura Integra who was very good to me in my early 20's, and bought a 2006 Volkswagen Jetta.  The change was centred around the notion on saving money on gas, as gas was 1.38 a litre at that time and I was driving almost 200 kms daily.  It was the best decision to make, as my little Jetta (not so little, actually) has saved me hundreds of dollars in gas money.  She gets around 1000 kms per tank and runs like a dream.

The Teg

work life...
we have our methods ;)
my newest wheels..
  March involved a lot of work functions, Jesses B-Day, and cold, cold air.  I did a lot of morning riding and a lot partying.  March was also significant as it was the first time Broo Broo had a seizure.  It was the scariest moment in my life and I will never forget the panic and hurt I felt.  I really wished I was blogging consistently at that time as I was very confused and worried about him.  I will say the internet was a big help.  We googled what happened and were able to find other videos of dogs having seizures and knew immediately what it was.  He had a second seizure on Earth day and we realized this was something we would have to deal with for life with our Broo. 

 April came and I made the decision to sell Fandango.  I love that pony dearly, but he was maxed out at the level I had taken him and really was just being wasted at our farm.  I found a great home for him where he would be ridden by young children and fawned over, which is what he loved.  I saved that pony from what would have been a horrible life, or trip to the slaughterhouse  and gave him the surgery,  training, and experience he needed to become a valuable show pony.  I feel I did my best to give him everything and I know he is happy today.  One of the hardest decisions of my life.

Fandango at his first show.
At our first event.
Canterdown 2009

  May was the month that changed everything for Archie and I.  I took Archie up to Ottawa to ride in the Sinead Halpin clinic and it was a defining moment for us.  I was on the brink of giving up on Archie before we went, and I decided I would ask her opinion on whether there was hope for him and I or not.  Also, I needed to know whether it was him, I, or both, causing the issues.  Turns out it was BOTH of us, but she also told me if I was willing to dedicate the time, he would be trainable and he would be able to event.  She showed me a different riding style and gave me the re-assurance I needed that my horse was NOT crazy.  Things progressed from there.  I also started to build a few cross country fences!

 The other notable thing that happened in May was my return to blogging! (Yay!)  Thank God for that, because it's much easier to remember what happened when I can look back on my posts! LOL  Also in May was my change of job.  I went from commuting over an hour to commuting 10 minutes.  My life was getting easier and money was becoming more plentiful (not THAT plentiful), but better.

Archie at Sinead Halpin clinic 

schooling at home....needing a tan.

  June was a big month with Archies first show and me not knowing how it would go.  It was a success thankfully, and I took him hacking with my mom that same weekend where he proved to be a real gentleman off property.  This all seems so long ago and hard to believe that taking him off property used to make me very nervous.  Archie also did his first jumper classes and jumped clean and fast to place in both classes.  These were milestones for us to be able to perform off property and I will never forget the overwhelming joy I experienced.

 Ace had her debut in the hunter ring and that was to be only a peak at what her hunter talents really are. The biggest moment in June was undoubtedly Archies first event which went off without a hitch.  It was a very long winded dream come true for me, and proof that hard work and patience does pay off.

Double Trouble 

happy moment!

  Since we succeeded to make our eventing debut, July was filled with shows and events.  We started off with the Canterdown Novice Event where Archie and I placed 4th and 5th in our two divisions.  Ace did her dressage thing with my mom, and continued to learn the hunter thing with me, which she seems to excel at.  We won over $180 that day!  She officially became known at the ribbon hound.  My best friend Dana also cleaned house in her divisions that day.  A memorable one for the books.  Jesse and I also planned our move out of our money eating (but gorgeous) downtown apartment, onto my parents farm with the hopes of saving for a down payment for our own place.

Dana and Quartz
  August brought Archie and I's second recognized event at Equus Horse Trials where we placed 5th our first time at entry level.  We went to Oakhurst Horse Trials where we jumped clean and ended up 11th.  I tried out a new braiding style and my mom kicked butt at her dressage show with Ace.  Archie and I went to Canterdown Horse Trials for the last time and placed 5th overall.  Lots of showing, lots of fun.

  September brought on the county fairs.  I took Ace to the Quinte Fair where we had some success...and some spooking.  I took her to the Kingston Fair also and she did really well and we won a bunch of money and a blue chair!  Archie and I went to the Ottawa Horse Trials where we jumped clean cross country and ended up 8th overall!

  October is my favourite month of the year.  Maybe because it includes my birthday, and this year my birthday was extra special with the arrival of William!  My mom and I went hacking, and to the beach on a gorgeous October day, and Archie and I did our last events of the year.  I started my other blog NeighFlix, and gave the first update on William.  

William's here!

November was unseasonably warm and enjoyable.  I judged my first ever hunter jumper show which I really enjoyed.  The equestrian world stopped for a moment when the passing of Hickstead was announced.  This fell dear to my heart as I have been a long time Hickstead fan, and an even longer Eric fan.   My family and I had some fun at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto.  I gave Williams week 3 update, and followed up a week later with my young horse frustrations.  William didn't do much else as he cut his leg badly on Remembrance Day. 

  All our hard work came to head when I attended the OHTA awards banquet and got my trophy for being 3rd in the Open Entry Division overall.  Archie also won the top Thoroughbred in his division and $100 for the prize.  Even if I did get totally obliterated drunk, it was a night to (try) to remember.  The other landmark was the Third Blogiversary of A Filly's Best Friend.

  In December I started lessons again and began chronicling them.  I have more to add soon.  I also updated Williams progress again.  Christmas and New Years Came, and now we are through 2011.

  2011 was a great year for me and Archie, and I feel I put a lot of time and energy into what needed to be done to make us ready to go out and compete.  2012 will be a year of improvement and I am focusing on lessons and schooling to get where I want to be.  2010 was a really bad year for me, and 2011 was just what I needed to feel whole again.
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