Monday, January 27, 2020

Checking in


January got off to a bit of a rocky start...we had a family issue that took up some extra time.  Between that and work being very busy, I haven't had a chance for much else.  The past three weeks has had me running to work and then running home to the barn to throw hay and check water, but not much else.

Things are starting to look up a bit now as the days will be juuuussssst long enough for a bit of daylight after work.   I'm looking forward to taking a bit more time out at the barn and just hanging out with the horses while they eat their hay.   I'm also hoping to start working Fred a bit, just easy in-hand stuff when the weather allows. 
Copper says: hey, got treats?
We've also had some crazy weather - we've had two or three cycles of above freezing temps, rain, ice pellets and then snow, which is just a weird combo.  One day the paddock was just a skating rink - every inch of it was ice. I wish I had taken a picture to show you guys - it was raining and the water was just running off the ice - very weird.  My place is mostly flat, but the paddock had just enough slope to make it treacherous. I kept the horses in until the snow came back and improved the footing again.




Now we are on to straight snow, which is much, much better, imho.  We had a few inches last weekend and another few inches this weekend.   Fred has been busy wrecking his current blanket, which is always fun.  Somehow he ripped apart the neck cover on his blanket and I don't think I'll be able to salvage it.

Pre-blanket destruction: these two always look like they are up to something. 
 Now that we have some snow piling up, my boarder has been bringing over her snowmobile to help pack down the riding ring and a little loop out in the back pasture. Of course, it keeps snowing so she has to keep going over the trails.  She is trying to ride as much as she can throughout the winter, which is admirable, given the unpredictable weather we've had so far!


One of the many reasons I love having the horses at home is being able to fix issues right away.  Exhibit A:  Hubby looks out the window and tells me that Fred is "walking funny" and I'd better go check him. (his description). 


So, I went out to find the back end of the blanket all twisted and flipped up.  One of the stretchy leg straps was down below his hock, causing him to "walk funny".  lol *sigh*
Nice job, Fred!
He wasn't too concerned that his butt was getting wet and his leg was tangled - you can just see the black strap on his LH in the picture.  I have a feeling this blanket won't be around much longer. I'm not a fan of how it fits him, so it is probably time to let it go. 


Not much else is going on here for the moment, so I'm off to shop online for another blanket for Fred!







Thursday, January 2, 2020

2019 Q4 wrap-up and 2020 Goals

I didn't do too bad checking off items in 2019.  I didn't really have any big goals, more day to day stuff that needed to be done.  Getting those items checked off gave me some motivation and momentum heading into 2020.
Barn/property Q4

  • Sort winter/summer horse stuff in bins so I can actually find things when needed
  • Stretch goal - sort gear by horse as well! - this did not happen.  oh well.
  • Clean and sell tack I'm not using
  • Set up new shelves in barn
  • Clean windows, tack room, etc for winter
  • Get trough heater going, since winter is definitely coming...
Personal Q4
  • No Zero Days plan – test for Q4 and implement fully in 2020.  Thanks to L Williams again for sharing this – it has really helped me!
    • draft 2020 goals
  • Continue saving to vet fund - set aside $50/pay to start
  • Consistent exercise of some sort - this was a fail 
  • Continue working on ideas to help anxiety (kinda vague, I know!)
  • Plan meals and try to limit eating out - semi successful? Needs more work for 2020
  • Savings for shows and some house repairs in 2020
  • Meet 2019 goal of 40 books read (low hanging fruit)
  • Volunteer somewhere - but not for a horse show/club - done and ongoing! This is sort of cheating, since I started volunteering for the therapeutic riding centre where Spencer now lives before I finished this post.
Work Q4
  • Read work-related news articles in French (fun topics like organized crime, terrorism, etc.  lol)
I'm going to try setting some actual goals and plans for 2020 - I haven't really done a formal list of bigger goals in a while, so this should be interesting.  ;-)  This is my overall list - I have a more detailed break-down of what each big goal entails. I'm old school and keep all of this in a paper journal!  I'm also aiming to follow the no zero days philosophy to help keep me on track.

In my travels around the internet, I've found a few great resources on setting goals and failing and how to deal with all of that.  I've been totally sidetracked by Baby Yoda memes.  And yes I'm admitting that publicly, here on the internet.  ;-)


I came across a cool article on a running website and the gist of it is that it is ok to set goals and ok to fail.  What?  I know, crazy, right?    The article is about running and sports, but just sub out "athletic" with "equestrian" and you are all set. This quote really resonated:

"Athletic failure is not something we need to fear. It’s something we can celebrate as a community as a chance to learn and laugh. And by celebrating failure, we can truly explore our potential and have way more fun along the way."

I'm at a point now where I don't get too upset if a goal has to be re-assessed or changed or cut out completely.  I think you need to re-assess life pretty regularly to make sure things are on track, or if something new and exciting comes up, you are ready to accept it.   I'm making some tentative plans to show Fred, but if they don't come to fruition, well, so be it.  I'll just need to assess whether to keep trying or maybe sell him and focus on the baby horse coming in 2021 (fingers crossed). 

So, without further ado:

Horses:
  • earn Fred's ROM (AQHA register of merit - each time a horse hits 10 points in a discipline/level, you get a certificate) in halter - we need 1.5 points in open and I think 3.5 points in amateur
  • show at a different venue/different club (I've shown at the same 2 places for 98% of past shows)
  • ride again - not sure what form this will take - riding a friend's horse, Fred, lessons, etc.
  • attend a clinic of some sort
Fred
  • work as weather permits in winter, then 3-5 times during the spring to get ready for shows
  • continue under saddle work
  • work on showmanship and in hand trail - maybe show at a schooling show?
Copper
  • stay healthy!
Personal

  • read 40 books
  • back up and organize photos (my computer is dying, so this is urgent!)
  • volunteer somewhere horse-y 
  • save $$ for foal hopefully coming in 2021
  • exercise program of some sort - aiming to run if the ankle holds up. I'm looking to do some virtual runs to help me have a goal/target and then maybe a bigger real-life run in the fall.
  • stick to a budget (involves meal planning, saving up for shows, cooking at home, etc)
  • read/listen to some horse training material - podcasts, youtube, books etc
  • clean and oil tack
  • continue to declutter and sell unused tack.  I did great with this in 2019, selling 3 saddles and a bunch of other stuff. 
  • attend QH Congress (as a spectator) in October (I've missed the past 2 years!)
House/property
  • complete some minor house renos/d├ęcor updates
  • stay on top of yard/flowerbeds/fenceline
  • keep barn tidy
  • look into and start a plan/budget for some barn renos - eavestrough, upgrade lighting/wiring and maybe refinish the tack room

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

2010s in pictures

Emily had a great post with a picture from each year 2010-2019.  What a great way to go over the past 10yrs and see all the horse things that we have done in the past decade!  She also has a post with a list of other bloggers that also posted their photos.

I started looking for pictures on facebook and was totally distracted by baby yoda memes! 
ahahah - love it!
I was able to pinch a few pictures from my old blog, but that only got me up to 2014.  I had to dig through facebook to find a few more and then my photo hard drive at home to find the rest. Note to self: organize your pictures! lol

Anyhooo...here we go!

2010
I owned an appy gelding named Rusty at the time and I moved him to a boarding barn with lots of trail access.  He was my confidence re-builder after owning a nasty little paint gelding.  He was a nice quiet older gentleman and really helped me get comfortable in the saddle again.
I used to ride a lot more!
2011
I got a little ahead of myself mid-2011 and was thinking about a horse more suited for endurance and trail riding. Rusty was 20-ish and couldn't do much more than 5-6 miles and wasn't good on hard ground.  I sold him and bought a little Quarab mare.  And totally overhorsed myself again.  This mare and I did not get along from the minute I brought her home.
Cute, but way too much attitude for me!
2012
In early 2012, we put an offer in on our current house.  As we were getting ready to move in June, I moved the mare to a boarding stable down the road from the new house.  I took a few lessons with her from a new coach to see if we could make this work.  Spoiler alert: it didn't work.  I ended up selling the mare in the summer and was horseless for a couple of months!    I brought Spencer home in September 2012.
First winter having horses at home since I was a kid!
2013
Over the winter this year, I boarded Spencer down the road and took lessons. It was awesome.  lol  I refreshed all of my western training from when I was young and was looking forward to some schooling shows with Spencer.  We ended up doing 4 schooling shows and took home 2 reserve high point awards.
Not amused.  lol
2014
In 2014 we did more schooling shows and a rookie day at the local AQHA show.  I just did walk trot classes with Spencer, but my big success was a 2nd/18 in a big showmanship class. Sadly I have no pictures from those shows. I also showed my friend's horse at some fall fairs, which was kind of fun!
Rascal - at a fall fair

2015
I was pretty excited to show Spencer more in 2015, but my coach retired!  That threw me for a loop, as I wasn't ready to show more without lessons.  I ended up showing my friends QH gelding at two local AQHA shows.  I also got Copper in 2015!
Copper!  He was 8 when I got him
2016
Ugh. 2016 sucked royally.  I was supposed to lease another friend's gelding and show him at AQHA shows in Ontario with a friend. But then life kicked us in the pants and my husband got sick.  Luckily, it all worked out and he is fine now.  My friend still wanted me to show a bit to have something fun to do, so she and her hubby brought Spunky to the shows, bathed and banded him and handed me the lead line.
Showing Spunky in 2016

2017
I'm drawing a bit of a blank on 2017.  I did show Spencer at an appy show with friends. It was a bit of a crappy show, since I was really sick with a sinus infection.  I have two professional pics from that show, but cannot find them anywhere!  I'm including one of Spencer and I doing showmanship, which is what we did at that show anyway!
Game face!
2018
I did a bunch of lessons with Spencer with a new trainer in early 2018 and then Fred came home in May!  He came from Kentucky as a 3yo.  I showed him twice that summer and we ended up getting some grand champion wins and our first AQHA trophies!
Fred's 2nd show in 2018.  I need some new showing pics!
2019
2019 was the year of ankle-gate.  Not much horsing was done - except for the basics of feeding and grooming.  Spencer went to the therapeutic riding centre and Fred was very lightly backed.  I'm also working seriously on rebuilding my english saddle pad collection!  ;-)

I'm looking forward to the next few years and what it may bring on the horse-related front!  I hope everyone has a nice holiday season and a great 2020!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

2019 Year in Review

2019 - what to say about this year? I always get my hopes up about a new year and then my plans don't always align with what life throws at me.  2019 was a year of rebuilding and moving forward, after our crappy 2016-2017 and tentative "things might be ok" year in 2018.

In March, we spent 2 weeks in Hawaii and it was fantastic.  It was a big trip for us to celebrate our 20th anniversary (May 2019) and to celebrate the hubby's recovery from cancer in 2016.  Maui has kind of ruined every other beach vacation location - Cuba, the DR, Mexico?  Pffft. I'd rather save up and go to Maui.    We'll see if we ever get back there - the cost and the logistics of a trip like that are hard with the little farm of creatures that I seem to be collecting.
An attempt at an artsy photo.  West Maui
Then, also in March, I sprained my ankle.  Or so I thought. Turns out it was actually fractured.  Which explained why it hurt like hell for months. Ahem. Anyhoo, the lesson here is to trust your gut that something more is wrong and insist on an x-ray.
I spent a lot of time watching the horses from the window.  Fred and Copper had fun playing.
March through June were pretty quiet and low key, as I couldn't do much. I volunteered on the board for small show club and that slowly fell apart as no one would pull their weight. I resigned in September from that club and do not regret it one bit!

In June, I took Fred to a schooling show, but my leg wasn't up for the task

September was a bit melancholy - I had been pondering what to do with Spencer - retire him, sell him...?  A solution presented itself with a therapeutic riding center falling in love with him. He went to live there in September and is doing ok, by all reports I've been getting. I miss him a lot, but he is helping people that need it, so that makes it a bit easier.
Farewell,  for now.
In October, I got a new cat! Archie was about 7 months old when we got him and he is fitting in well.  He is super affectionate and playful and maybe a little bitey (!) and I'm so glad I got him.  Does anyone know the # of cats that make you a crazy cat lady? Asking for a friend... 
3+1 = numb legs... lol
Fred also had a rider up and was backed in October.  Things haven't progressed to far in his under saddle training due to life, but I'm hoping to pick up where we left off over the winter.

October was also the month of the new (used) truck and many, many purchases, including paying for a stud fee to breed my friend's mare!!!!!!!!!!!!!

November rolled around and I went to Disneyworld for a week with my Mom and cousin. We had fun, but the place was PACKED with people, so that made things a bit tough. I enjoyed a lot of snacks, bought silly hats and got to see a lot of giraffes, so that sort of made up for it.

December is usually pretty quiet in my world. Mostly because it is dark and cold and we are all just trying to survive the weather and the holidays. 
Snow and cold make for pretty sunrises
 Christmas is almost here, so I'm listening to my odd playlist and wrapping presents. I have to work over the holidays (not Xmas day and Boxing Day tho), but that is ok, since I had 2 big trips this year. 
eclectic Christmas playlist
I also take some time to start planning for the new year, without putting a lot of pressure on myself to drastically change things.  I have to say, I'm kind of excited for what 2020 will bring. My hubby and I are finally starting to feel like we have our lives back and my anxiety is slowly fading away.  I feel more like myself than I have since 2016 and that in itself is a very good thing.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Moving at the speed of...winter

Things tend to get slow here at BBQH when the cold and dark settles in.  I've come to accept that and not fight it.  The holidays are coming and there is a lot of planning to do for that.  My niece and her new baby are coming from the Yukon for a month, so I'm pretty excited to meet my great-niece! 
Archie - about 11 months now and full of P&V
I don't really mind winter, which is a good thing since I live where I do.  LOL  If you dress accordingly and have some coping strategies in place, you can get by.  I have to say I'm a little nervous about the impending ice that develops on laneways, etc here in Jan/Feb after last year's ankle-gate.  I've put a pair of yak-trax on my Christmas list, so hopefully Santa is on the ball!
Fairly accurate, I'd say!
This time of year, I just putter through my to-do list and try to do some thinking ahead for 2020 plans.  I may also dream of moving to Hawaii, but I haven't been able to put the numbers together for that to work! 
sigh
I've been helping the therapeutic riding centre sell some old tack and I brought a big bag of stuff home to clean and assess whether it is in ok shape to sell.  A lot of the strap goods are not in the condition where I would want to ride with it.  I'm going to keep some stuff aside and use it in craft/decor projects. I found some high quality but old leather reins that I'm going to use to tie back curtains and some ancient stirrups that I'm going to repurpose into something - not exactly sure what - over the winter.
2/3 cats find old reins to be excellent toys
Fred and Copper are doing fine - Copper is chubby and Fred's weight is holding well.  Copper gets so hairy that you can barely see his ears.   As we roll into the new year, I'm going to start keeping Fred in overnight to help get more hay into him and less into the other two butterball turkeys horses.
Yes, his forelock is full of burrs... Fred's sideeye cracks me up
I'm hoping to show Fred next year, if possible.  It takes a good 4 months to get a halter horse show fit from pasture condition, so I'm starting early in Jan since I can't work him much during the winter.  I'm planning to do some hand walking, longing if the snow conditions on the weekends are good and starting late January we get more light after work, so I'm hoping to do more under saddle prep and in hand work with him. 
Not looking too bad... 
The light was kinda cool this morning, so I took his blanket off and tried to get a few pics of him.  He wanted nothing of it - he kept leading me to the barn - that is where the food is!  I was hoping to get some artsy shots of him with all of the frost and the sun trying to rise in the background, but most ended up like this:
Hai! Fud now?  Why no fud?
He has a nice scar on his nose - a few weeks ago he decided to use his face to disassemble the trim on the window in his stall.  *sigh*  Horses.   I've been putting stuff on it every night, but I've noticed this time of year, sometimes the hair doesn't grow back until they shed out in the spring.  Weird creatures.

How about you guys?  What are you plans for the this time of year and the rest of the winter?  Do you keep on riding, or slow things down a little? 

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Halter horses - On Breeding and choosing a stud muffin – part 2

Continuing on from part 1 of my halter series, this post goes a little more into why we are choosing to breed and what we hope to achieve with the foal. 
I will admit that I'm a little torn on the whole breeding thing.  There are so many horses out there that need homes and breeding your cute mare to a nice stud usually isn’t the best choice.  I can tell you that if I was looking for a riding horse, I would not be breeding.  That being said, owning and training a foal has been on my bucket list for eons, so having a chance to potentially cross something off my bucket list is pretty exciting.
Totally me...
Our decision to breed was based on a few factors:

  • Major bucket list item for me
  • My friend has the mare and wants to take care of the breeding, I want to show the foal and she doesn’t, so it is a good split
  • We have help from “The Boss”, our halter guru and good friend
  • A crappy exchange rate on the US dollar – that ruled out buying a baby from the US (taxes, shipping, etc. on top of the purchase price make this a tough option).  Although, our stud is in the US, but we just had the flat rate stud fee in USD, so that was manageable.
  • No high quality halter AQHA/APHA breeders “locally” – which to me is within 8-10 hrs drive
  • Lots of breed show class options for weanlings – 3yos without worrying about under saddle training
    • halter
    • longe line (APHA)
    • In hand trail (APHA)
    • Showmanship
I don’t have a lot of science to go on for choosing a stud, but more about the general principles we used.  Keep in mind we also had a very experienced exhibitor and breeder (aka The Boss) guiding us.  I don’t know that this is something I would tackle on my own without extensive help.
The mare we are breeding has a few criteria that are important to us:
  1. proven broodmare
  2. 5 panel negative (HYPP N/N in particular)
  3. halter bred w/ good bloodlines
  4. local show record
Baby Mamma
There are many theories to breeding and choosing horses that will produce well and as a newbie, I know very little about this.  Do you pick something that is similar in quality to the mare and hope she produces higher quality?  What about a stud that is known to throw a specific trait you are looking for – ie – height? Or do you choose the best quality stud you can afford and cross your fingers it all works out?


In my opinion, we are starting with a good quality mare, not a superior quality mare.  So, we are hoping for a foal of high quality, by choosing a stud that is superior quality.  Our plans are to show locally and maybe hope for something that could be competitive in provincial/state futurities. 

Our specific criteria for the stud fluctuated a bit and we both made up a short list of our top 5 choices.  In the end, we went with one that was on both our lists that was made a bit more accessible by the Boss and someone she knows.  Our criteria were (in no specific order):
  1. tall – at least 16hh - and known to throw height
  2. good conformation
  3. overall “wow” appearance
  4. proven halter bloodlines
  5. proven show record – in this case, we were looking for Congress and AQHA/APHA world show wins, not local shows
  6. proven offspring – in this case, futurity halter wins (over $100K US in 2019!) and APHA world show wins
  7. 5 panel negative (HYPP N/N in particular)
  8. optional – double registered AQHA/APHA (for more local show options)
The stud we choose hit all the criteria except #8.  He is APHA only and AQHA does not recognize APHA studs on AQHA mares.  APHA recognizes the reverse, but that isn’t the case for us. 
Image from an ad online
Many halter horses are N/H (they tend to gain more muscle if they are N/H) and many breeders still don’t see it as a negative thing to perpetuate that trait. I am not a big time breeder or a vet, but I feel that my part in not furthering the issue is important, even if small.  I sort of see it as the same as reducing my plastic usage – I can’t save all the turtles - but I can sure do my part.
My fingers are crossed that all goes well and we have a healthy foal! Only 16 or so months to go!
True dat!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Halter class - the basics - part 1

I’ve been trying to draft this post for a while!  I have a hard time 100% endorsing halter classes, with the halter industry being so specialized.  Yes, I own a horse from halter bloodlines that was bred in the hopes of doing well in that one particular class.  There is A LOT of criticism of halter horses online – a quick google search will show you all that you need to see.  As an amateur, I feel that I can experience the class, learn about how to show my horse and learn about feeding and keeping him fit to do as well as I can locally without being a big supporter of the whole industry.
Having "fun" at a schooling show with a broken ankle. 
Why do I do it if I don’t 100% like it?  That is a question I struggle with – I wrote about it more detail in an earlier post so I won’t go into it again here.  Tl;dr – I can work with Fred at home without a coach, lessons or fancy tack and I can still experience breed shows without needing a fancy riding horse.

Another note: I did not want to use photos I found online from shows/breeders in this post, as I don't want to bash anyone or anything, as that is just not how I roll!

Ok, on to the meat of this post:
AQHA has halter classes broken down by age and sex and they also have a performance halter class, which is for riding horses that have a certain amount of points from riding classes.    All of the 1st and 2nd place geldings from all the classes then go in for a grand/reserve championship and then the same happens for mares and stallions.  The grand/reserve titles are what people are really after, as your horses is up against a larger selection of the best at that particular show. 
Reserve champ x 3? Sure just give me all the ribbons!  Also, with this horse (not Fred) I said a lot of "whoa motherfucker" in the ring! LOL
Many western performance classes are scored and have comments, such as showmanship, horsemanship, trail, reining, western riding and ranch riding.  Halter does not have any scoring or feedback, so it is purely the opinion and tastes of the judge.  All breed show judges are carded and go through training, but trends, personal preferences and politics (at big shows) definitely come into play.
There is some really good info on the University of Arkansas Ag Dept. website about judging a halter horse (https://extension.unh.edu/resources/files/Resource002677_Rep3962.pdf) and some of the info in my post is from that article. 
The halter class is a class where the horse is judged based upon its conformation, overall appearance, and usefulness. Conformation is defined as the physical appearance of a horse due to the arrangement of muscle, bone, and other body tissues.
When evaluating a halter class, the following four factors should be used (in that order) to select and rank the horses being judged.
  1. Balance and Quality
  2. Structural Correctness
  3. Breed and Sex Character
  4. Muscling
This stallion photo gives you an idea of the balance and proportions that are sought.
(Edited 11/16) For a halter class, you walk into the ring toward the judges, they then move out of the way and you jog the horse straight away from the judges and then around a corner.  They are watching for soundness and decent movement and if the horse tracks well (ie  - minimal paddling/interference, etc. ) A lack of muscle and overall turnout/appearance will affect the judge’s first impression also. 


The handler is not judged in a halter class, but if you cannot set your horse up in a way to show it off to the judge, it will affect your placing  – especially in an open class, in amateur classes they cut you more slack.   For example – if you do not try to set your horse up squarely (breed halter doesn’t use the same set up as English in-hand with one back leg set back) or are not trying to show your horse to the best of your ability, they will ding you. 
I don’t have many pics of me showing Fred, but here is one where I am trying to keep his head and neck up and his ears up.  The horse can’t be moving around and bopping around with their head.

You can’t tell a lot from this picture of Fred (he is a 3yo here), but he has moderate muscling – especially his forearms, gaskins and hip.  He is turned out properly – clean, shiny, chalked white socks, properly fitting show halter.  Fred is a bit weak in how his neck ties in to his withers and in this picture, needs more weight over his ribs/mid section.   He doesn’t have the nicest head either – he is a bit plain looking.
Now that he is 4, going on 5, he has put on more weight, his topline is filling in and his chest has widened, but I don’t have any pictures since he looks like a yak right now! lol
Compare Fred’s head to this picture of my friend’s horse – I showed him in 2016. He has a gorgeous head and is very striking.
Me and Spunky (not Fred)
Here is a video that is teaching people how to judge a halter class:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXJ4L5dsUeI
If you have time to watch the video all the way through you’ll see a pretty standard AQHA/APHA judging of a halter horse class.  They show the suggested placings and some rationale.  Read the comments though and you’ll see another story.  The horse that people would want to ride is not the class winner.  This kind of thing is common in halter as a specialized industry.  Some judges prefer “performance” horses, which are horses that are successful under saddle as opposed to the specialized beefcakes.
If you are interested in more details on QH conformation for halter – the University of Nebraska has a good 20 min video with lots of information: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0z9AlY-xMkQ

And that is it in a nutshell...  More to come on selecting a stud for breeding to hopefully show in halter...

Checking in

January got off to a bit of a rocky start...we had a family issue that took up some extra time.  Between that and work being very busy, I h...