Monday, September 30, 2019

Q3 Goals update

Today is my birthday as well as the end of Q3, so this post is actually timely.  ;-)

44 more candles today...
I didn't really set many goals this year so I was mostly winging it.  In July, I did a post where I outlined some plans for the rest of year.  I thought I'd do a little review and see if I can get things on track for Q4.  I think I'm going to try the "no zero days" concept for goals/life that L Williams posted about the other day. It really resonated with me.

Horses Q3

You has fud?  Copper, probably.
  • as my ankle allows, work 3-4 times/week - lunging, ground work, poles, maybe working towards being backed - I've just started working with him the past 2 weeks
  • continue to get weight on him and develop some topline - Success! Lots and lots of hay is starting to work!
  • find basic feed program that works without all kinds of supplementsSuccess! Hay, one type of grain and some oil seems to be doing the trick right now.
  • ponder plans for 2020 for showing, etc. - Success?  Plans have been pondered, nothing decided.
  • take baseline height/weight for kicks - Success - long story short, Fred is huge and likely still growing
Spencer: think of a solution - done - he is on trial at a therapeutic riding program. And the latest update is that he is amazing and didn't need any special training to do all the games and activities they do with the riders.  

Copper: kept his weight down and keep him healthy - No bueno.  He is a mega chonker.  Need to remedy this.

Barn/property Q3
  • Try and maintain fences, lawns and gardens as best as possible with gimpy ankle.  I'm taking some pressure off myself on this one.  I'm just going to do the best I can as I feel able.   I'll give myself a moderate pass on this one - having a major drought for most of the summer prevented stuff from growing!
  • do not purchase any new horse products - like mane conditioner, halters, brushes, combs, or even tack (unless urgently needed - like flyspray or medical items) - This is a pass if you don't count horse blankets and technically I won't have them in my grubby paws until Q4.
  • try and use up current supply of "stuff" - this one is a bit vague and hard to measure. LOL
  • sort winter/summer stuff in bins so I can actually find things when needed - Fail - I need to bump this to Q4
  • clean and sell tack I'm not using - Success - I sold 3 saddles and bunch of other stuff. More needs to go though.
Personal Q3
  • bank appt (this is low hanging fruit - it will give me something to check off!) - Done
  • Start saving for a vet fund set aside $50/pay to start - Done
  • dr's appt's (3 in July! yuck) to get back on track - Done - low hanging fruit.  Got the go-ahead to start walking/doing more with my ankle. 
  • find some sort of exercise that is easy on the ankle -  FAIL.  Ugh.  Maybe Q4 will not be a wash here.
  • work on ideas to help anxiety (kinda vague, I know!) - Moderate success here
  • plan meals and try to limit eating out - Meh.  More to be done here for sure.

Work Q3
  • listen to the radio in French - Fail - need to reassess this one
  • read work-related news articles in French (fun topics like organized crime, terrorism, etc.  lol) - Success - we've had some big stories in the news lately, so lots of coverage to read in French. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Final volunteer weekend of the year

** Just a quick note on Spencer - I have had two updates from the riding program and Spencer is settling in well so far!   Thanks for the comments on my last post - I'm not as sad about it this week as I was last week, so that is good!


We are well into fair season here, with the big ones wrapping up in the next month or so.  This past weekend was one of our local fall fairs that I had two volunteer commitments to finish up.

My friend is a judge, so I often tag along with her to the western shows at the fairs. I think I've been to most in a 2-3 hour radius from here, just to see what they are like.    This year, I was her ring steward as a favour to her.   I got into the fair for free, so that is a bonus.
These two percherons were close to our ring and kept geting excited every time another horse went by. 
Luckily none of the riding horses spooked!
This fair is a cute one - they have cattle, draft horses and a light horse show on the same day as the western ring.  I went for a quick tour around and it seemed to me that all the horse show entries were down. The western show only had 6 people, which is really sad. A lot of fairs have cancelled their horse shows and I wouldn't be surprised if this one follows suit.
The fair board sometimes pays groups to come in and host events. And on Sunday, we put on our last cowboy obstacle show of the season at the same fair.   As of Sunday, I'm officially done volunteering with that club, which is a really good thing.

I'm very burnt out from volunteering on the boards of these local show clubs. It is such a drain on time and resources, especially if you work full time and, oh, I don't know, want to ride and show your own horse!  And don't get me started on politics and people not pulling their weight!
The good news is that the show went well and our entries were decent, considering there were many other events on at the same time.

The other good news?  Mini donuts.  My favourite thing at a fair!  I know you can find them elsewhere, but I only let myself eat them at a fair.  And yes, I totally use my bucket for snacks or a dog water dish for the next few months!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

A little heartbroken

I have been struggling with what to do with Spencer for a while now.  Do I retire him? Do I sell him? Do I find another home?   He is semi-retired mostly because I don't have the time to ride, fit and show two horses.   I feel a bit guilty looking at him out in the field, thinking I should ride, but I don't feel like it, thinking he could be doing more, even at 18 and/or I could sell him, but I don't want him to go to a bad home, etc. etc.  Spencer is sound and healthy and happy to run his little herd out in the field, but I feel that he has more to give for the right person.
Spencer - in 2012, shortly after I brought him home
I was hoping a kid for him would come along via my show acquaintances, but that hasn't happened yet.  (Here is a flashback from 2013 from our 2nd schooling show...I feel lucky that I got out to 4 shows that year. ) Getting out and doing stuff without a trailer has been really hard (obviously) and is a big part of my frustration with riding...
Haha Mr Grumpy Face...
A few weeks ago, a good friend reached out to me about a therapeutic riding program that was desperate for small horses or ponies.   She has a horse in the program and had good things to say about it.   The horses they use need to be small enough for handlers to reach up and support some of the riders that have balance issues.

I hemmed, hawed and maybe even cried a little, then decided to send them an email.    They came out to meet Spencer this past weekend and fell in love with him instantly.  Even though I've only been on him 4 times this year, he went out and did w/t/c with a new rider no problem.

He will be going there on a 1 month trial and if that works out, he'll stay in their program. I'm free leasing him to the program, so when he is ready to retire, he will come home to me.  If he doesn't fit their needs, he comes home to me, so I feel it is win-win for all parties involved.

I started this post earlier this week... and as of now he's gone... They arranged trailering for him and the old retired horse guy was an hour early.  He was here before I got home from work.  Lol  I had planned for an hour to say goodbye and get organized, but I guess it was to my benefit, since I just had to rip of the band-aid and get him loaded. 
I'm having a hard time with this, but I feel it is a good option right now.  He will be treated like a prince and will do a few walk/trot lessons with kids that need help in return.  He will be groomed and fussed over and worked lightly all winter (they have an incredible heated indoor arena), which is much more than I can do here.  Not a bad semi-retirement job, I hope!  And the best part, is that I can go visit whenever I want.  I even have a hunch they will let me ride once in a while as well.

Friday, September 13, 2019

10 Questions for September

I stole these Qs from Viva Carlos - her timing was perfect - as I'm in dire need of some content over here.  Things have been quiet and I've been a bit "meh" about things lately.  Work has been super busy and that leaves me a little drained by the time I get home.
1. Favorite quirk your horse (or a horse you’ve spent time with) has? 

Spencer opens doors - sliding doors, swinging barn doors, gates, trailer doors, you name it, he will open it if not latched.    It is funny if you are expecting it, not so funny if you get a door in the face.  Ask me how I know! 

Copper tries to get you to give him treats by smacking his lips and chewing and bumping your leg with his nose. It is not the greatest behaviour, but the lip smacking is pretty cute. 
Fred: he sighs when he eats his grain.  He gets a fair amount of food, so I guess it is hard work eating it all?

2. Three adjectives that perfectly describe your horse?

Fred: big, red, cuddly
Copper: little, red, cuddly
Spencer: grumpy, smart, full of attitude
Attitude? Check.
3. Plan your next ride. What will you do/work on?
Err...well...some news may be coming here so I'll leave this one for now.

4. Have you ever trained an OTTB? If yes, what was the biggest challenge?

I have not.  However, I did ride one when I first got back in to riding as an adult.

5. Have you ever groomed or worked for a professional rider?

A big fat nope on this one!

6. Favorite horse and rider combination?

I have to dig in the history books for this one, as I don't really follow any pros now.  My all-time favourite is Ian Millar (affectionately known here as Captain Canada) and Big Ben.  They competed in 2 Olympics (4th in the team comp. both times) and they won over 40 GP titles.  At the London 2012 games, Ian Millar set a record by becoming the first athlete in any sport, from any nation, to compete in 10 Olympic Games.   My friend's friend was Big Ben's groom for years, so I've heard a few personal stories about the pair as well, which is neat.

And while I don't follow any pros today, I do like to hear that Beezie Madden is successful - I lik hearing about successful horsewomen!

Ian Millar and Big Ben
7. Have you ever ridden a horse at the beach?

I have! In Aruba on these poor skinny horses.  Riding in other countries can be a little tough on people from North America who are used to more plump horses.  It was really fun though...the tour guide wanted everyone to walk on the beach. I pretended my horse spooked and cantered off down the beach...hahaha

8. If you could experience the equestrian community (i.e. ride and compete) in another country, what country would you choose and why?

Well, let's take out the compete part at this point in my life!  I would love to work on a cattle ranch in Montana for a summer or something.  And maybe ride in Ireland or the UK.

9. In your opinion, what is an item of tack that is given unnecessary hype?

I'm trying to think of something on the western side...they have these ugly "belt" headstalls that look weird.  Oh - and the bronc halters - those are weird, in my opinion!
I don't have a bronc, why would I want a bronc halter? Don't get
10. What was the first horse you rode called? Are they still alive?

The first horse I rode was an old pinto pony named Mary.  She was in her 20s at the time, so safe to say she is long gone over the rainbow bridge. 

Sunday, August 18, 2019

AE Bloghop: 12 Tough Questions

Things are fairly quiet around here this week.  Alberta Equest has 12 tough bloghop questions that I thought I would take a crack at. 

Q1:  What hobbies do you have outside of riding?

People have hobbies outside of horses?  Whaaattt? I like to read (moreso in the winter) and I like to dabble with watercolour painting. I’m not very good, but it is kind of relaxing.  I also like photography, but I'm not super dedicated to getting better, but every now and again I get some good shots.  

Q2: What is your boarding situation?  Are you happy with it?

I have my horses at home, so mostly happy, yes.  With our winters, an indoor would be life changing.  However boarding out is kind of pricey around here, so we make do.  All the guys get the winter off to just eat hay and relax.
Winter - not much going on but a wicked sundog (see the rainbows on either side?) as the sun sets
On a nice winter day, the horses like to run around.  The black pony is gone, thankfully. He was a hellion.

Q3:  What's on your horsey-related wish list?
  • BoT quick wrap boots for Fred, in green of course
  • Custom name halter for poor, neglected Fred
  • New cowboy boots
  • A foal out of my friends AQHA mare (this might actually happen in 2020!)
  • Bucas zebra fly sheets
  • new name plates for the stalls 
Singles ad:  LF: tall, studly AQHA, must be successful in show career, colour not important
Q4: What is your most expensive horsey-related item?

I guess my truck…?  I don’t have much tack these days with showing halter.  All of my riding gear is older and not that valuable any more.
I can harrow now without having to ask someone to help me!
Q5: What was the hardest horsey-related decision you've had to make lately?

Again, I’ve been lucky here.  The toughest thing this spring was deciding not to try and show Fred. Having a broken ankle and very little money certainly helped me decide.

From last year
Q6:  What's something you feel you can't live without in your routine?

Hmm…I’m pretty flexible here.  I can’t think of anything essential that I couldn’t sub for something else.

Q7: What's on your horsey-related calendar for the rest of the summer year?

Not much...  One fall fair with the cowboy obstacle group, some planning sessions with my friend to look at potential Baby Daddies for her mare and a long-shot of attending QH Congress in October.

Q8:  What is one thing you would willingly change about your horse?

Poor Fred, but I’d give him a nicer head if I could.  
Definitely cute, but maybe not the best for the show ring where they judge only on appearance...
Q9:  What is something you most want to improve on with you and your horse?
Ugh, this is hard.  I’m not riding at all right now, so I don’t know what to write. I guess consistency.  I like being consistent with working the horses and my feeding/grooming routine.  I’ve been unfocused and unmotivated this spring/summer so my goal for the fall is to get some basic routines established and then go from there.

Q10:  What has been your [current] horse’s most severe injury?

Again, I’ve been so lucky here.  Although, Fred is only 4 so there is lots of time.  I guess the most serious that needed vet attention was a puncture wound on his front forearm.  I feel like I dodged major injurie(s) when he got stuck in the electric fence this summer.  He just stood there waiting for me to come and get him loose.  All he had was a bit of rope burn, but it could’ve been sooo much worse.

Q11:  What do you feel your biggest downfall is as a rider?

Only one?  Hahaha – lack of consistency?  Also, short legs, not a lot of natural feel and/or talent.  Maybe this one needs a Q11a: What do you feel your biggest strength is as a rider?  And for that I would say a willingness to learn and keep trying.  :-)

Q12:  What feeds your motivation?

Alberta Equest – this is a super hard question!!   I’ve been having a heck of a hard time lately with motivation.  Emma wrote a great post about this that gave me a bit of a jolt.  I need to remember to be grateful to have horses in my life, since I just love them so much.  12yo Laura would be in awe of the house and barn and horses (not that it is that fancy...but comparatively) that I have now. I'm actually living part of my childhood dream.   I sometimes get lost in thinking about points and money and the fact that other people that have more opportunities than me. 
13yo me riding in a parade - at least I have a better hat now and this one looks like it is on backwards. omg.
Ok - I found another pic - too funny to not share!  I think this is right after I got my pony for my 12th bday -  she is still at our friend's place in this picture.  I'm in rubber boots!  My Mickey Mouse sweatshirt is on point though.  lol

1986, thanks to my Moms mad scrapbooking skillz...
Working on motivation, consistency and gratitude will be a big part of my fall/winter downtime this year.  I can’t expect any positive showing outcomes next year if I don’t put the work in now.  

Monday, August 12, 2019

Weight gain and weight loss (of the equine variety)

Or, alternatively titled, "Oh lawd, he comin'"

Well, that is more for Copper, not for Fred.  I'm sure you guys are familiar with the "chonk chart"?  Someone needs to make a horse version!

from imgur
Now that my ankle is feeling (mostly) better and most of the horse shows and little trips are over for the summer, I need to get going on working with the horses.
A fine boi?
Copper has been living large the past few weeks and has gained a fair bit of weight, which is pretty easy for minis and ponies.  I had him in a grazing muzzle in the spring and then took it off when they devoured the grass and the pickings were slim.  I also had round bales out for a few weeks in July and I don't think he can eat hay with the muzzle on.  So, even with limited grass, he has blown back up and that isn't great for his joints or his wonky shoulder (old injury).

This is my good side...Copper, probably
Fred, on the other hand is still growing and is like a teenager with his lanky legs and endless appetite!  He has been getting grain and hay and a bit of grass, but he needs more.  I'm hoping to show him next year and for halter he needs to fill out more.  I need to start now and get more food into him.

Having my horses at home gives me a good chance to work on this. I've been pondering how to best get all the horses the food they need.  The other two QHs are easy keepers, so I don't want to overload them either.  I contemplated putting in some temporary fencing to separate them, but Fred has a tendency to charge through fencing and Copper is willing to take a little zap to escape to eat on the lawn.    I think my best option is to keep both of them in from when I get home from work and overnight.  They can then go out with the other two during the day.
Nom nom, Fred probably
Fred will be getting a small amount of grain, oats and oil in the morning and then more grain, oats and oil when I get home.  He'll then get a pile of 2nd cut alfalfa and likely a bedtime snack of grain and 1st cut hay overnight.  I haven't quite decided on the exact ratio, but he needs fibre and roughage as well as the protein/fat he gets from the grain.    Copper will be getting a whopping 1 flake of 1st cut to pick at while inside.  He doesn't seem to like to eat from a slow feed hay net, but I'm hoping to get him doing that so it lasts him longer. I have these cute trailer sized 1" hole nets that hold 1-2 flakes that I want to start using with him.

**edited to add:  Fred has been checked by the vet and had his teeth done, been dewormed, etc.  I think he is just growing right now still...

Both horses move around a fair bit in the pastures, but could benefit from some focused work.  I am feeling confident that my ankle is healed enough to longe and do groundwork, so Fred will be on a light program starting this week!  Copper would benefit from some walking over poles and stuff like that to strengthen his shoulder and develop some muscle.

Have you had a hard keeper that you put weight on?  Any tips?  What about a chonky boi that needed to slim down?

Friday, August 2, 2019

Weekly wrap-up

This week is the local AQHA show in the town close to my house.  I normally show there or volunteer, but this year I did neither!   I took the week off to help some friends that were showing and I spent the rest of the time parked on my butt in the shade watching the show.  It was relaxing to not have to worry about having a horse there, but I did sort of miss it too.

The club had their annual awards banquet and bbq on Thursday night, which is always fun.  Fred and I were the high point overall halter gelding and the high point open and reserve amateur 3yo gelding so we got a bit of loot.  The prizes weren't quite as nice this year, but that is ok. Missing from the pic below is a ball cap with the club logo on the front and "champion" on the back.  I'll probably get the most use out of that.
A portfolio and a picture frame.
I helped my friends get their halter horses prepped.  For this show format, which is 7 days! (omg) exhibitors show to 3 sets of judges over the week - 4 on Tues/Weds, 3 on Fri/Sat and 3 on Sun/Mon (it is a long weekend here on Monday).  The halter classes are the first to go on the first day of each "show".  They showed Tues am, this morning and will go again on Sunday morning.  A lot of QH shows are run this way or in a similar format.  You rarely show to just 1 judge any more.  7 days is a damn long show though - people that travel long distances often have to buy hay and other supplies as they just can't haul enough to last them.  And many people were at a show in Quebec before coming here, so they would be on their 2nd week away from a regular bed and laundry facilities.  Wild!
Halter horse up close and personal.  I was holding him to be groomed, but he just wanted to cuddle. 
Banded mane - something I need to work on this fall...
The entries for a lot of the breed shows have been down the last couple of years.  Costs to show keep going up and more and more people are staying home.  It is too bad, but maybe things will bounce back?
A halter gelding class
Now,  the most important thing about being at a horse show is the horse show food, right?  Right.  And adult's five o'clock somewhere?  Totally.
yaasssssss - poutine!!!  And water - err...coors light... 
I even took Sophie over to the show for a few hours most days.  She enjoyed watching and meeting all of the horse show dogs that were quite literally everywhere.  Although, don't get me started on the people that have their dogs off leash and then happen to be looking the other way when they poop.  Argh. So rude!
Watching from the shade.  
 I'll miss the rest of the show, which is ok - it does get a little boring after a few days of the same stuff being repeated!  I'm heading "down south" for a few days to visit my Mom for her 70th birthday.  She lives near where I grew up, which is about a 7-8 drive SW of here, still in the same province.  I'm looking forward to a nice family visit.   I've been feeling stressed and grumpy lately, so some good laughs with my family should help!

Foal Friday

 I'm going back in time for a bit to get caught up.   These pics take me back to the day Rip and his dam came home from the fancy matern...