Thursday, December 27, 2018

Merry Christmas from Boss Mare Eventing!


 I really wanted some cute Holiday photos with the girls.  It can be hard to decide who to use for the pictures with three horses.  Penny was out because last time I tried to ride her bareback in the field in winter she took off and tried to kill me. I haven't ridden Emmy yet and for some reason I thought this was probably not the best time to try LOL.  Valley is big and black and so I thought she would be just gorgeous for the photos.  I got dressed, grabbed my bf as photog and took Valleys bridle and wreathe out to the field.  She came right over, took her blanket off and put the wreathe on. She let me mount her and was really such a good girl as we tried to get started.  The problem was the other horses wouldn't leave us alone.  At first it was cute....then, Penny got jealous..

 'Twas the night before Xmas and all that I wanted
Was a Holiday photo that could surely be flaunted
The horses were nestled face first in their hay
while visions of dinner time they dreamed of all day
with a cute white basic onesie on me
and a wreathe with matching bow on my beauty black steed
When out of the back pasture arose such a clatter
Valley trotted off and I said - whats the matter?
Across the pasture we flew like a flash
almost tore the wreath off and ripped open my butt flap
When what to my wondering eyes should appear
But a Chestnut mare, coming at us, filling Valley with fear
With her sass mane toss all lively and quick
I knew in a moment that I would never stick
More rapid than eagles that red head still came
and I whistled and shouted and called her by name
Now Penny! Now Miss Pen!  now Boss Mare!!
Do get the hell away from us, now don't you dare!
She chased her she bit her she kicked her with glee
All with the goal to send someone to the North Pole - me!
I sprang off Valley to my feet and gave out a whistle
and Penny flew away like the down of a thistle
But I saw her head toss and return to my sight
I had to let go of Valley and turned to say
Happy Christmas to you girls, and have a good night!

Then I got the hell out of there before I died.

Horses.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Bloghop: Favourites of 2018

  The $900 Facebook Pony Blog has given us a really fun blog hop.  Your favs of 2018! And since I am Canadian, I am spelling favourite the Canadian way despite what spellcheck wants me to use LOL 

Favourite Show picture

  Penny showing us her near perfect form over a skinny chevron, third part of a bank combination at her first event back.  My leg obviously needs work this winter and my stirrups are mess.

Penny and I back eventing after a long hiatus to work on dressage. She didn't miss a beat

Favourite non-show picture

  Indy and I schooling at Lanes End with friends.  It was rainy, hot as hell, and we all challenged each other to step up our game that day.  Really fond memories of this day.

I love this photo for simply showing what a beautiful animal Indy was

Favourite thing you bought

  I bought a new horse...that is pretty unbeatable.

has to obviously be my new girl, Miss Emmy!

Favourite moment on horseback

  Pennys first event back after 2 years of dressage work scoring a 38 which for us, was a huge success.  I actually cried. Over a dressage score. In a good way. Oy.

dressage iz pozzible

Favourite moment out of the saddle

2 days spent with Charlotte Dujardin was beyond inspirational

Favourite between the ears picture

Penny and I on the top of the hill at my parents #views

Favourite horse book or article

I've had this forever but just read it this summer...carried it everywhere with me.

Favourite horse ridden/groomed/cared for that's not your own

  Obviously this has to be the one and only Veronica.  My moms mare who I have been showing dressage.

I love the Ronnie Rocana

Favourite funny picture of your horse

I couldn't pick just one....

sorry ponies

Favourite jump you jumped successfully or movement you conquered

  Our first event back, these brush were massive and skinny in person.  Penny said "no-problemo".  The feeling of clearing these fences was indescribably.

Favourite horse meme or funny picture

hilarious and inspirational

  Let's see your 2018 favs!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Jump Lesson with Penny Sunday Dec 16 2018

the lady doth learneth

  It's been quite the week.  I have been studying for an exam in my profession and I finally wrote yesterday afternoon.  There hasn't been much pony time the last few weeks in the final stretch of my studying.  I finally feel like I have my life back now that its over!  On top of that I actually accepted a position at a new job, so I have been dealing with leaving my current one and getting ready for the new one.  Everything is in order now though, so I can get back to what I really want to be doing, and that is riding.

  I snuck out Sunday afternoon to have a jumping lesson with V.  I was on the fence if I should go because I really should have been studying, but really, who can turn down a jumping lesson on a gorgeous Sunday?  I had a really good ride earlier in the week on Miss Pen so I was hoping she would be on her best behavior. Video from our flat ride.

that carrot face though

  We started the lesson with a short warm up and got to work trotting down the long side over three poles then several trot strides over a single rail.  Eventually the rail would be a fence.  We did this several times in each direction.  Like our last lesson, V had me allow Penny to maintain a bigger stride so she didn't have to struggle over the poles.  Basically Penny doesn't maintain the rhythm when you half halt.  She listens but speeds up again. It's a work in progress, but I obviously have a habit of holding her most of the time because of this.  We are trying to retrain my riding and her.

  I make sure not to let the corner take too much away from her.  I have to trust her to maintain the trot and not run off after the poles.  I allow her to have a bigger trot with short reins and very soft hand.   She was really good through this exercise and you can see she is starting to figure things out (me too).    We added the fence at the end, with a 5 stride waiting line.  I had to give her a hard half halt only once this lesson, which, hey, its an improvement.   My focus was not taking back and shortening her into the first fence so she feels like she has to gun it down the line.  She was jumping in fairly quiet and only rushing the last stride before the pole at this point.

Sunday Funday

  Once we could navigate this successfully, we added another x rail, so we jump in, 2 strides, then 3 strides over the pole at the end which was lowered again. She was being adorable and at every halt checking herself out in the mirror in front of her.  We then added the third jump in the line.  We played with how much I can let go, and how I still have to give little half halts to prevent her from rushing the last stride or two.  She does need to learn to keep the same pace without this, but she is not there yet.  Right now it is walking that fine line of too much and not enough hand. 

  To finish, we did the gymnastic, halted, picked up canter and cantered down over the diagonal, then around to a waiting 5 stride line, and back across to another vertical on the diagonal.  This actually went pretty well, and we finished the lesson on a pretty much perfect fence down the diagonal after doing the course a few times.  V asked me, why can't all the fences be jumped like that?  Good question V, good question LOL. 

Penny watching, and listening.

 Some takeaways from my lesson; keep working on a soft hand, Penny has to learn to maintain her pace without needing to be half halted or held.  I need to keep working on sitting better to the fences and keeping my hands low and soft.  The best takeaway of the day is that I realized how rideable and mobile Penny is becoming since I have really made a program with her and stuck to it.  She can do these courses, with lots of transitions, changes, small turns etc very effortless now and before just cantering a circle was a bit of a struggle.  I am really excited about how strong she is becoming and very pleased it is still early in the winter at this point.

  We have another lesson this Sunday, so excited for more fun stuff!

Friday, December 14, 2018

PEMF Day for the Girls

Emmy waiting her turn

  Black Friday didn't bring me many goodies, I bought an Amigo rain sheet for Emmy to match the other girls at a really good price but that was it.  The most local PEMF administrator was having a sale though, 50% off sessions.  She is about 2 hrs from me so I messaged her and asked if she ever comes down this way as I have always wanted to try it.  It turns out she was already planning on seeing a few horses in my area so she could happily add me to the list.

  If you haven't heard of this type of therapy, here is a basic explanation;
PEMF therapy uses bursts of low-level electromagnetic radiation to heal damaged tissues and bone, to relieve injury-related pain, and even to stimulate organs.  The idea is that pulses at low frequencies will pass through the skin and penetrate deep into muscle, bones, tendons, and even organs to activate the cell’s energy and encourage its natural repair mechanisms.  PEMF is catching on as a non-invasive way to approach injuries, chronic pain, and even chronic conditions like depression and diabetes.
 Some of the benefits are;

  • Rate of injury healing
  • Immune function
  • Sleep
  • Depression
  • Physical energy
  • Bone healing and density
  • Circulation
  A few weeks later we had a date with the PEMF machine!  Penny went first.  She was totally fine with the tubes and the lady handling her and the machine.  She quickly relaxed and seemed to almost smile once the machine got going.  The tubes just lay against her, and the electromagnetic waves do their thing.  Her muscles begin twitching.  It is really cool to see.  Some areas twitch more than others.  Some horses will twitch more on one side than another, like when their neck or shoulders are being done.

A very chilled out Miss Pen

 She moved the tubes down her back, and also over her hind end.  She ended on her neck and chest, and if any areas needed extra attention she would work those areas again. While she did her body, she also used the leg tube on each leg over a period of time.  Penny stood totally still only moving a bit when the tubes were readjusted.  When she was done we moved onto Valley and then Emmy.  Both girls also stood perfectly for the whole procedure.  Even Emmy who is just a month off the track, gave us no issue.

Valley getting her big booty done
working on Emmy - shes already gained so much weight

 They all seemed to really, really enjoy it.  Once they were all done I turned them back out for the afternoon.  I was observing them to see if there was any noticeable change.  Penny went and parked beside the round bale and slept for at least 3 hours. It was hilarious.  She must have been so unbelievably relaxed after her session, and that is not like her personality.   So I was happy to see that. Even if it just super relaxes the horse, I would say that is a positive effect of the therapy.

  I rode her a few days after and she felt amazing.  She was fresh with energy but in a good way.  The other two girls seem their happy selves.  I think I would certainly go for more PEMF therapy in the future on my girls.

 Have you ever used PEMF? What did you think?

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Jumping Clinic with Penny Dec 9 18

beautiful ladies waiting to get started

  After my enlightening dressage lesson on Sunday, I hurried home to get Penny and the trailer and head over to Katies to pick her and Lilly up.  We were scheduled to ride at 12:30 with event rider BM again.  I wasn't sure how crazy I was to plan a lesson at 9AM and then trailer to a clinic at 12:30PM but it actually all worked out fine and we had plenty of time to get there and get ready.

  This day, the weather was much colder and the ground was frozen so we didn't have to worry about slippery parking or trying to 4 wheel out of the parking lot (kind of disappointed actually lol).  The girls stood at the trailer nicely while we tacked up and groomed.  It was pretty chilly and windy and despite this they were quiet and relaxed.  I got on a bit early to let Penny get a good stretch without too many riders in the ring.  She had a few days off prior and can sometimes be a bit wild after a few days off but to my surprise she was very engaged in me.

  She broke the converter strap on her pelham a few days earlier so I opted to ride her just on the snaffle portion and she seemed quite a bit happier in the mouth.  We did a short warm up and then got right into things.  The first exercise we did was just a 9ft rail to a X rail.  Trotting in and cantering out each direction.  For me I have to remember to sit, relax and push her around my leg through the turn so she doesn't get stiff and short.  We quickly added another vertical to the line, so trot in over the 9ft rail and canter three strides over the vertical.  I have to thank BM because he designed our course and gymnastic with Penny in mind.  I really appreciate the thought and effort he made to help us girls out.

  Pennys biggest struggle is maintain the pace in related distances and not getting faster as the second jump approaches.  To help this I need to not take away from her pace into the line, sit down on her, but remain relaxed and soft.  To keep her attention on me, he had me leg yield away and back from the track on the long and short sides, then as we approach the line, bend her around my inside leg.  She was jumping so well, listening and not running away from me.

ladies ate their entire net and we had to borrow some more hay...silly girls

  As he built the gymnastics, we eventually ended with 3 one strides down the one side, across the diagonal over a stadium built corner, and then down the outside line in 3 strides.  Some of the horses struggled to get the 3 on the outside and would get 4 or 5, but Penny struggles to get it 3 and gets 2.  She actually only did this once, yay.  She took the long one to the corner the first few times but they felt amazing.  B had me just sit and wait that second longer to get her to add a stride instead of launching over it.  We managed to get that figured out quite nicely.

  We finished with the 3 one strides, then around the short end, making a bending line at the end from the oxer to the corner, then outside line of 3 strides vertical to oxer.  We jumped through this several times, each time getting progressively quieter and listening better.  Penny was jumping out of her skin, I could feel all 4 of her legs tucking up under her as she was pinging off the ground.  Our final turn we put it all together.  We were soft through the turns, quiet down the lines, and nailed every single distance.  She even waited and did the final 3 stride in 3 even quiet strides.  Over a big 3'3, 3'6 course, Penny was listening to me, and I felt like I could actually ride her.  It was just SUCH a fun and productive lesson.

  I won't go over every detail because I honestly can't remember everything, I was really focused on giving Penny a good ride.  My takeaways are however;

  • Soft hand, low hand, soft arms.
  • Sit on her, but not in a tense or hard way.  Try to relax and be loose. Keep my shoulders and chin back especially approaching the fences
  • Flex her, work her off my leg all directions to keep her attention on me.  
  • Bend her through my legs through the turns.
  • Sit and be patient for the distance. 
  • Use a slightly open rein to straighten her when needed.
 I felt the best I ever have jumping Penny (aside from XC - nothing beats that feeling on her) in this lesson.  I really felt like I was riding her, and with her.  Not just a rider, sitting on her trying not to mess her up or let her run away with me.  It was such a good feeling and makes all the running around I have been doing lately worth it.

 BM is heading to Florida soon for the winter, so no more lessons with him until spring if we can get him back.  Until then I will be practicing my soft and relaxed jumping position.  I'm sure Penny will appreciate it.


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Dressage Lessons with Ronnie December 8/9 2018

Surprise mail! Ronnie featured in the LongRun Thoroughbred Calendar!

  My dressage coach was down at my moms place this weekend for our regular 2 days a month of lessons.    I was riding Ronnie.  It was quite a bit colder than it has been so I had my layers piled on.  I got on her a bit early on the first day to warm her up as suspected, she was a bit high energy.  The change of weather and the footing not being too great with the frozen mud has meant the horses have excess energy.

  I trotted her around the arena trying to get her in front of my leg and coach D noticed things were already going awry.  She said stop worrying about the contact because you don't have any suppleness at the moment.  She reminded me not to forget the training scale.  I started working through the suppleing exercise at the walk.  Asking her to turn her head towards me, keeping the outside rein totally slack, until she relaxes and reaches down at the walk.  Repeat.  This exercise eventually teaches the horses an aid to relax through regular half halt and flexion.   From there we went into the same exercise at walk and trot.  

  In walk and trot you ask with the same aid, but you don't necessarily wait for the horse to give to release. Your release of the supple is the reward.  This was the concept I was tripping over initially. At the halt we wait for the horse to give, but at the walk, trot, or canter, we supple, then release.  The horse gets the reward, then learns to give as soon as you give that supple (or flex) aid.   It took some time, but we did get back to our normal loose, relaxed self.  The test at the end of the lesson was if the aid to flex, would then relax Ronnie.  We had success, and finished our lesson still working nice and relaxed and focusing on submission.  She was off the aids, she was in front of my leg, and she was relaxed and going into the bridle.  It was a nice finish to the lesson and Ronnie felt great.  D told me to warm up the same way tomorrow, and see if we can get there quicker.

 Sunday I started my lesson with the suppleing exercise we did in the lesson prior.  Ronnie already started out more relaxed and submissive.  I checked the aid throughout the warm up and she would relax and reach into the contact, which is exactly what you want.  Once our warm up was sufficient Daphne had me work her into the contact.  Up and forward into the contact, instead of down which I have a habit of creating.  I was struggling so hard with my contact. My hands just have a mind of their own and it is frustrating after working for almost 2 years on it it is still a struggle.  I need to be more elastic and following and have a looser elbow.

  As I am struggling with keeping a consistent contact, things were just feeling so messy and unorganized.  What seemed like forever in my lesson, just me trying to ride forward into a steady hand and Ronnie was just fussy and fighting me every inch which isn't like her.  D just kept repeating over and over to me, "the contact, the contact, the contact".  That actually helped me every stride assess the contact and make changes.  And not just make changes after things became unraveled, but every stride make minor changes and adjustments to keep the contact where it needed to be.

 It was like a light bulb went off for both Ronnie and I, and we then began to have a really nice harmonious ride.  I was reminded to keep riding her up, and check the contact.  From there I asked her to make her trot quicker behind, not longer.  Asking her to activate the hind end and become more aware back there in preparation for when we learn medium trot in the future (whooo).  We finished the ride working the same up and round feeling with good contact in the canter.  Her canter felt amazing! She picked up both leads no issues, and the more we cantered the stronger and stronger it felt.  

 For a lesson that started off feeling so awful, it ended feeling the total opposite and was just incredible.  Ronnies canter has come so far, she just felt like a dressage machine bouncing around the arena.  I have a lot to work on over the next month, mostly with myself and the contact.  Good news is I can work on that on every horse I ride, and the lesson really drove the feeling home.  Hopefully I can keep that feeling in my daily rides.


Thursday, December 6, 2018

No Ceiling Challenge Accepted

all smiles

  I was reading one of my favorite blogs the other day, CONTACT.  Karen was showing off her impressive skills and her newly tried and found one-tempis.  If you have followed the blog long enough, you will know that once upon a time there was doubt if she would be riding past 2nd level with her handsome boy Hampton.  Clearly those doubters were on drugs because she has gone way above and beyond that with huge success.

  She challenged her readers to throw caution to the wind and try something above your level.  I love the idea of this challenge, especially after just seeing Charlotte Dujardin speak and encourage riders to do the same, make things messy, and have FUN!  So I accepted the challenge.  While counter canter may not be above my riding level, for now, it is above what Penny and I can do.

  Pennys canter is slowly getting stronger, but it still not great.  Basically she has an amazing canter, when she is out in the open and not being asked to sit. She has a huge stride, like 15ft average. We spent the majority of the last two years doing walk trot, poles, and about 10,000 transitions between walk, trot, and halt.  Our canter work started in the late fall and now we are able to really work on it and it feels like we are getting somewhere, slowly.  Back in September, I tried counter canter with Penny and failed miserably.  She just broke, ran off, did a change, and I laughed and laughed at how ugly and incapable we were.  We tried it a few times and determined she just wasn't ready for counter canter and to put that on the back burner.

 So what better time to try again than for this challenge.  Last night I hauled out for a ride and actually had my boyfriend with me for once, so I figured it the perfect opportunity to attempt some counter canter AND get the attempt on video!  Without further hesitation, I give you Penny and I's attempt at right lead counter canter.

  I started with right lead canter going large, riding shoulder fore to straighten her and get her more balance under herself.  Then add a 15m circle to further set her back and help create bend.  Then again down the long side in shoulder fore, and across the diagonal to change rein into the counter canter.  I was only going to ask for a few strides but she gave me such a good feeling we carried on along the short and long wall!   It's a bit hurried, it's a bit unbalanced and hollow, but we did it!  What we couldn't do even one stride of a few months ago, we now did about 20 strides of, and it didn't feel all that terrible!  We can now keep building on this, and have another exercise to help strenghten her canter even further.

 This was such a fun challenge that I might have to do another one.

  So go, give the No Ceiling challenge a try!   

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Pretty Little Farm - The Barn

my fav tree

  I introduced the story of my new farm in this post.  If you have been following along you will know that it was not actually moving into my "dream home" when I moved, but that doesn't mean I don't think it will be one day.   Obviously when moving with horses, the horses are the biggest priority.  I can put up with just about anything, but my horses needed a set up that would continue them to thrive, and keep the move as stress free as possible.   When I bought the farm, I had down sized by 3 horses in the span of a few months.  I was going to stick with 3 horses, and I needed my barn to have at least 3 stalls and room for tack and feed.  Nothing fancy, just functional.  Luckily I was able to keep my horses at my parents until May, to give me time to get the barn and pastures ready.

  When I bought the house and got the keys, it was time to really take a good look at things.  The sale was quick and we just did a speedy walk through.  Of course I wanted to check out the barn and land first!  The barn was a decent size, not big, not too small.  It had a little room like a shop and some weird rooms that had reminisce of chicken feathers and shit everywhere.  I picked up these big metal hooks and turned to my mom and said -"hey! old hay hooks, cool, these are awesome and hard to find".  My mom just looks at me and says "ugh, I think those are MEAT hooks".  Oh my god, I just about threw them and the smile ran off my face.  I'm not exactly a big fan of meat, but the thought of whatever happened in that barn worried me.

The barn from the start - innocent looking enough
more garbage
moving garbage
garbage moved from behind the barn
one of the many rabbit hutches
The rabbit hutches out front demolished
The rabbit hutches standing....inside they are full of garbage and shit
oh look, more garbage

  It turns out, in the 80's it was a butcher shop.  The butcher also used to run a sort of trading post from the farm too, and take basically anything as a trade for meat.  I heard the man would routinely throw things into the field, and there was a huge pile of bones and garbage constantly behind the barn. Looking at the barn, and the property, I wasn't surprised to learn this. Disturbed, yes, surprised no.  The barn was also full of rabbit hutches, to add to the horror of this place, there were once around 40 rabbits who lived in the barn and around the property, some severely neglected.  At one point the SPCA was involved and the bunnies and poultry were rehomed.  The interesting thing was the last owner had clearly spent countless hours creating water lines and nice cages for the bunnies, only to completely neglect to feed and care for them.

  Our first task was to take down and remove all of the rabbit cages.  Then, clean all the old hay and rabbit shit out of the barn.  There were also rocks galore in the barn, and those all had to be removed by hand.  I used the rocks to outline my first garden, and it worked so perfectly.  One thing I love about reno-ing this farm, is re-purposing everything and cleaning it to make it new, healthy, and beautiful again.  Under all those hutches and shit, was a nice concrete floor. that covered one side of the barn, the aisle and halfway into the other side.  This would be perfect flooring for the tack room area and aisle.   I was also lucky to have a decent hay loft on one side of the barn.

The outer wall before
the start of the Garden of Weeden feat barn rocks

rmoving the rotten exterior wall
cleaning up the front area
new siding on the front
the meat cooler becoming a stall
Framing Valley and was Indys stall

  Once everything was removed from the barn, the footing was smoothed out.  Then it was time to frame.  My dad and boyfriend did this entirely on their own. I helped hold and fetch things.  We made 2 stalls on the West side, and a stall and the tack room on the East side.  The stall on the East side was Pennys originally, and it was the hardest to get ready.  We had to remove all the old insulation which was full of old rat nests and dead animals.  This area was actually the meat cooler of the butcher shop.  For two days the guys worked their asses off, and the barn began to take shape.  Three cute stalls, with rubber mats layed down.  I used quick-crete in the back of the stalls that had 1/2 dirt floors to even them out and it worked perfectly.  

Valley hanging out in her new stall
Stevie hanging in front of the new barn
Penny in her stall. Notice my makeshift window I made since it was so bloody hot last summer!
Ready for ponies!!
The meat cooler is now a stall!
the aisle way
Indys stall :(
taking shape!

  We also redid the outside of the barn removing the old cheap plywood and insulation, and re-insulating and putting new ply wood up.  Eventually I will do board and batten on the outside.  I had brought my stall gates from my old farm (racing style) and re painted them.  With those hung, and just the finishing touches like blanket racks, hooks, and some style, the barn was ready to welcome horses.  I still didn't have electricity or water at this time, but it would come in time.  No matter how bad I wanted everything done right away, time and especially money just don't make it possible.  But I realized one thing I do have control over is how much work I can do physically myself.  If I can't afford to do something I want, like getting another dumpster for yet more garbage, I can instead just work my butt off picking up and bagging what I can for the dump.

  Although I knew it would be hard work at this place, I didn't realize just how hard, how long it would take, and how never ending the work is.  But seeing my horses sleeping under my favourite tree, or greeting me at the gate at the end of the day makes it all worth it.

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