Thursday, March 28, 2013

Another Show Hosting Success - And the Miracles of Technology

 This Sunday was the second edition of the Belcarra Stables Indoor Hunter Schooling show that my friend Alayne and I ran.  We had an ever bigger turnout than the last show, but things managed to run smoothly.  We finally had a bit of the melt, and although her outdoor ring was a bit frozen in the morning, by afternoon it was great and people were able to warm up outside, making things a lot easier for us space wise.  There were some new horses and faces from the area that I have never seen.  Some definite drool worthy horses too.  Possibly the most amazing thing I saw that day, however, happened ring side.

  I was watching the 2'0 ft hunter division while being the whipper in, and noticed a man taking pictures or video of the young girl on the nice grey in the ring.  When I looked closer, I saw that this was not just a video.  He was face timing.  I could see the face of a woman on the screen, watching her daughter showing in the ring.  Through the power of the iPhone, this woman was able to see the joy and excitement in her daughter that day, while not being able to be there physically.  I honestly got a little teary eyed.  What an absolutely brilliant idea.  Your family could be on the other side of the world, and never have to miss another important day in your childs life.  I love it.  I can totally embrace the good things technology can bring us.  Whether it's a horse show, play, or hockey game.  You can be there when work and life would normally prevent you from being there.  I had never thought of using it for shows. %100 goodness!

 Our day ran smoothly despite the influx of competitors.  Having the outdoor ring for warm up definitely made things easier.  Everyone had good rides, and the riders seemed to really enjoy themselves.  We had a lot of positive feedback, and we are going to continue the series next winter.  Next on the list, is a little dressage show at Alaynes in a few weeks.  I really think people are loving being able to get out and do something so early in the season.  It has been a long, dark, winter here in Canada this year.  A few bright days here and there make all the difference.

 Enjoy the photos, courtesy of my boarder Susan Dall unless otherwise noted :)

Dana and Q rockin it

Kristina and Paige

Michael and Faith - his first time riding her.

Tonya and Superman

Just adorable
Emma and James Bond

Erica and her son James, with Destiny

Heather and Boom

Dana and Quartz

I WANT this horse...very big guy.

Adorable Appy

Friday, March 22, 2013

Stryder in Tha House!

 Our newest foster has arrived from Poets Vision Aussie Rescue...and this time, we GOTS A PUPPY!!!  

 On a more serious note, we have a 12 week old little guy named Stryder.  He is supposed to be an Aussie, but we think he is probably actually a Catahoula cross.  Since I have much experience with Catahoulas, I am a prime candidate to foster.  I do think he is a Houla.  His colour and body would suggest so at least.  His temperament will confirm in the next few weeks.  He reminds me so much of my old dog Scheaffer...

 Stryder is hearing impaired, and has limited vision in one eye.  His right eye is not entirely developed due to lethal white syndrome.  In the terms of the dog world, he is fairly disabled.  You would never know it though.  Aside from a bump into the wall here and there, he is full of energy and has been bounding all over the house since he arrived.  My boys; Broo, Bentley, and Ozzy, have all taken a real shine to him.  They seem very excited and joyous to have a puppy in the house.  We shall see if I feel the same way when the 3 am wake up calls start.

 I hope to bring Stryder a safe and loving environment where he can learn to love and trust people and other dogs.  Where he can gain his skills at observing his environment, learn hand signals, and hopefully someday soon, find his loving forever home.

 Welcome to the farm Stryder xo.

 For more about lethal whites, check out an old blog post here.

with his other foster brother pup Zephyr


Thursday, March 21, 2013

If Motivation Were To Find You -

that ONE good day
  Where would it seek you out, and what would it look like?  I will be completely honest, I am finding it incredibly difficult to STAY motivated these days.  I have been trying so hard, and doing pretty well all winter.  I have been trailering out a tonne to get in riding time.  Archie had December to March off so it has not really been an issue for him.  However; William, is another story.  Things have been so up and down with him that I know I need to keep things consistent.  It's difficult to be consistent in the winter when you have no arena, and it's difficult to stay motivated when you feel you are getting nothing back from your horse.

  Motivation.  It is the key to success really.  Some days I am SO motivated to ride.  It can be -20c and I don't care, I am bundling my horse up, packing him onto the trailer and heading over to my friends to ride.  I can get home at 11:30 at night without a care in the world.  I have been taking my boys to my parents for the weekend and leaving them there so I can get several days of riding in continuously.  It has been working pretty well actually.  I get Monday - Wednesday off...then the horses get 4 days of consistent work afterwards.  A nice little routine.  

 Right now, however, is another story.  Ever since that one warm day about 3 weeks ago, I have not been able to get back into the groove.  I was so hoping that spring had sprung and I would be able to ride at home, not worry about bundling into 4 layers, and it would still be light by the time I got home from work.  Well, I was right about the last part.  It has been light after work.  Depressingly light.  Last year at this time, it was 20+ degrees Celsius.  We were having an abnormally warm winter and spring and I was getting very excited about becoming a farm owner.  I could ride after work until after 7.  This year, we had a massive snow storm blow in right after the time change, and we had 15+ centimetres of snow dumped on us.  Just after it all melted. UGH. Great...

  That snow eventually melted, and we had a few days where it was actually above zero.  To my luck, the river of water flowing through my yard from all the rain and snow melting had dried up.  I went out to my ring to check out the situation, and wouldn't you know it, it was dry.  There was only a tiny little island of snow left in one corner.  FINALLY.  I tacked up my horses on Sunday and had my first ride of the year outside, at home.  The footing was perfect.  The sun was out.  It was beautiful.  Archie was amazing.  William was a total dink.  Whatever, I didn't even care.  I was just so happy to be riding outside.

 Monday, the weather held off and I was able to sneak in another ride.  The weather unexperts were calling for a huge blizzard but there was no sign of it after work.  I got on William and he was even more terrible than the day before.  Refusing to go forward at all and trying to buck and be nappy for the majority during my ride.  In the end, I was finally able to push him forward and we ended on a really good note.  Just as we were finishing the wind came blazing in and the tiniest of snowflakes were creating a haze around us.  I didn't get to ride Archie and I'm sure he was just thrilled about that.  Soon after the blizzard arrived.

  We received about 10cms of snow that night, and I was getting bummed.  I have already ridden in my ring at home. Outside.  There is no turning back.  I keep wishing for some warm weather.  Even just a little. Maybe some sun?  When I got home, I checked the ring and it was still soft, even with the little bit of snow on top.  I managed to sneak in another ride on William and finally, he was fantastic.  The consistency really helps him, but it was not to last.  That night, last night, we had more snow and -10c temperatures.  My ring is now once again, a frozen block.

  I am finding hard to stay motivated to even go to the barn to put them to bed these days.  We should have had spring weeks ago, and now that spring is "officially" here....I keep waking up to disappointment that it is yet again; freezing, and snowing.  I just want to be able to ride at home, outside, on a consistent basis.  I just want to not freeze my ass off.  I just want to not have to change blankets 3 times a day.  Is it too much to ask?  I just need a little glimpse of something promising, to give me that little bit of motivation I need, to keep me going.

 How do you stay motivated, when it seems there is little to be motivated for?

stunning, yet depressing
come back....

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Forward, Forward, Forward


  Last Sunday, a trainer I used to ride with; Robin, came down to give a clinic at my moms place.  I had contacted Robin about advertising for Dressage Canada as I am on their communications board.  I boarded with Robin around 4 years ago when I lived in Ottawa.  She was the first person to be able to really help me with Archie.  I remember when I first started riding with her I couldn't even do a downward transition from canter to trot with Archie.  When we finally did get one, the rest of our ride was a total write off.  Robin fixed that for me.  Archie and I made great progress on the flat with her and he was finally rideable.  I asked her if she would be interested in making the drive down to teach a few lessons and work with Archie, William, and I.

  After I left Ottawa, the struggle returned and it wasn't until 2 years later when I met Daphne that I was able to ride with someone who understood how to train me and Archie together.  How to not only achieve relaxation, but to train him to relax.  Robin was really the first person to touch on this issue with me.  She agreed to come down for a clinic and I was excited to ride with her again.

An old video of me and Archie with Robin;

 We had a gorgeous day sneak in between the snow storms and the rain showers of the weeks surrounding.  A few of my friends came over to ride in the clinic and try a lesson out.  My mom went first with Ace and they both were on top of their game, despite my mom suffering from a nasty cold.  Ace is looking in fine form to start her debut at Second Level.

  I rode second on Archie.  What I loved about this day was that Robin already knew Archie and all his baggage.  She helped me through some of my hardest moments with him a few years ago.  She immediately told me that I need to let go of him.  He is tense, and nothing will ever stop the tension until he learns that I will not hold onto his face.  She said that I grab onto his face, which makes him tense, which makes me grab onto his face even more.  I think we all do this, it's just that Archie is that much more reactive than other horses.  I need to learn to give, soften, ALWAYS.  I can take contact, but it has to be very very light.  I need to encourage him to relax.  He will never relax when I have a hold of his mouth.  It is just who he is.  We worked on this, she continued to remind me to let go and soften, and he went amazingly.

  I had a second ride on William.  It became apparent immediately to Robin that William is extremely behind the leg.  She had me go forward forward forward.  Even when it feels like we are going forward, it is clear in the video we are not.  William has an incredibly tight neck, and I am working hard on stretching it, but the key to getting him to really elongate it is to have him stretch out and down into the contact.  We can only achieve this by having him go FORWARD into the contact.

  We only had 4 or 5 strides here and there where he was actually taking a good contact and I could feel it in both hands.  We will continue to work towards this and build more and more with each ride now that I know just how forward I have to push him at this stage in his training to get him to accept the contact.  We even had a beautiful canter transition and no issues at the canter once he was forward and ahead of my leg.

 I am hoping to have Robin down once a month to continue our work.  Here is a short video of my lesson on William;  

Lots of good homework to keep us going.  Long road ahead that's for sure!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Ladies and Gentleman We are Back

  Ok, SO, my internet has been down for over a week and I am going through serious withdrawal.  We are back in action now though, and let me tell you I am very happy about this!!  I would like to say thank you to everyone who gave me advice about Ozzy and his barking when I get ready to go to the barn.  I have tried a little bit of everything and so far, telling him NO, QUIET, or letting him into the backyard first then sneaking out and grabbing him from outside seems to be working best.  I think it's a work in progress and I will keep everyone updated.  I really appreciate the advice.

 I have had a busy few weeks, but for now I will share some pictures from a walk I took with my dogs last Sunday.  It was a beautiful day, about 10 degrees (50f).  The snow was melting and the sun was shining.  The dogs were having an absolute blast.  I found we have some natural springs in the back field and the boys were loving their first swim of the year.  They even took a few good jumps over the cross country fences.  I just love these boys.

Go Benny Go!

Natural eventer.

Fly Broo Broo!

Water doggies.

Brotherly love :)
 I can't wait to catch up on everyone's life...TGIF :)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

My Barking Dog

I'm good?
  Is driving me nuts, every morning and every night when I head out to the barn.  He knows what's happening, what's coming.  The moment I put on my barn sweater, he heads to the front door.  Unlike Broo and Bentley, he does not sit there and wait patiently.  No, he has to do things "his own way".  The "Ozzy" way. Ozzy's way is to get as close as he can to the door, and BARK BARK BARK as loud as he can until I let him outside. But, there's a catch, I have to go with him out that door.

 This includes the entire time I put my coat and toque on, grab my phone, coffee, and put my boots on.  As you might guess, this is really annoying.  Broo and Bentley don't seem to mind.  They sit on the wayside and wait until it's time.  I have tried letting him out while I get ready, but his thing is to then scratch the hell out of the door to get back in, and BARK BARK BARK until I let him in.

See I can wait :)
  The only way I can get ready happily is to leave the door wide open, which isn't going over to well with me in heating season.  He is a Blue Heeler, could this be some type of herding behaviour?  What exactly could be causing this reaction to waiting to go to the barn.  Is he barking at me to send me through the door before him? Is he just a little dinkus trying to get his way?

 I would love to hear any training advice you dog experts may have, before myself and the other doggies go deaf...and Ozzy goes missing  (only JOKING!)


 Patiently waiting by the computer.

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Schooling Show (Hosting) Success

  One of my closest friends Alayne and I organized an indoor hunter schooling show at her stable on February 24th.  We wanted to have a small schooling show to get everyone out for the first time in 2013, and make it a fun and encouraging experience.  We worked our butts off for the last few months, building jumps, painting, cleaning, and preparing.  The night before we were out in the barn until midnight making the final preparations.

ready to rock

  We had a great turnout for the day, everyone seemed very excited to get out for the first time, despite the fact we are in the middle of winter.  We set up a nice canteen, and TV with eventing videos playing for the day in her heated workshop.  This was a major bonus for those wanting to warm up on the day! We lucked out though, and it was a nice 2 degrees on show day.  

 Everyone was given ample time to warm up and adjust to the ring, since riding outside to warm up would be out of the question with the two feet of snow we had outside.  All the riders and horses did great, including my bestie Dana who kicked major derriere in the hacks and the cross rail division.   Dana is making a comeback after some bad falls last year and nothing is going to keep her from getting out there and doing it!

Dana and Q rockin' it
  Alaynes students, very young riders Nicole and Mike also rode like little superstars.  Nicole is only 11 years old, and has been riding for a year.  She rode Alaynes OTTB former broodmare Ruby who has never done anything but make babies!  They were a simply amazing team. There was plenty of fun had by all and people commenting that they can not wait until the next one on March 24th!  

Nicole and Ruby

Michael and Vinny

 It was a lot of work but a great success, and that always makes it more than worth it in the end.  IO hope you enjoy the pictures and the little video at the end.  Thank you Susan Dall for the use of the photos.


Zoe getting a little excited with Katie piloting.

Pam and Riley

Until next time!

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