Saturday, October 19, 2019

Q4 Plans

I feel like I'm doing pretty well with plans and goals for the latter half of this year.  I'm aiming for consistency right now and hoping to actually have some achievable items on the books for 2020.  

There is always room for improvement and as well all know, life can throw a wrench in the works, but I'm feeling a bit more motivated and focused than I did in the first half of the year.  
heh heh so true...

Horses Q4


  • As the weather allows, work 2-3 times/week - lunging, ground work, poles, riding (!)
  • Maintain weight going into winter and develop some topline


  • Try to keep his weight down and keep him healthy

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!
  • 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
  • Continue working on ideas to help anxiety (kinda vague, I know!)
  • Plan meals and try to limit eating out
  • 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)

Sunday, October 13, 2019

10 for October via VivaCarlos

Thanks to LWilliams at VivaCarlos for more questions!

1. What discipline do you ride? What would you ride if you could pick any other one?
I ride western performance – trail, western pleasure, horsemanship etc.  If I could pick another one? I would love to get back to riding English and learning to jump and/or maybe do dressage again.  Of course, I would need a riding horse for that!  Or maybe I should take lessons over the winter? 
Riding at a fair a few years ago...
2. How many horses have you ridden in your entire riding career?
I can think of about 25 that I rode more than 1x.  I’m sure there are a few more – horses I rode when searching for Spencer, lesson horses, my friends pony when I was a kid, etc.

3. Most bizarre activity you’ve done with your/a horse?
As a kid, we used to race each other through the rows of a cornfield when the corn was tall. It was hilarious and dumb at the same time. The horses would spook at the sound of the corn stalks and the corn cobs would hit you in the shins, causing your legs to go numb. 

4. Do you consider riding to be your outlet? If yes, why?
I guess…I haven’t been riding much in the past year or two though.  I think just being around horses is an outlet for me.  And as a kid, I loved the freedom to be out riding around the countryside.  I actually had a great childhood, up until my Dad died when I was 15.  After that, riding was definitely therapy.

5. Have you ever read horse-related magazines? If yes, which one(s)?
I’m a reformed magazine addict.  The ads and repeated articles got to me. I’ve read and subscribed to: Horse and Rider, Your Horse (UK) Horse and Rider UK (at least the ads were for different stuff!) Equus, The Canadian Horse Journal, Practical Horseman, Dressage Today, AQHA journal (omg the ads), APHA journal and probably purchased many more.

6. Most memorable advice given to you?
Breathe!  And, “more trot”.  Both from my friend/retired coach.   Every time I ride or even watch a horse show with people riding in English tack (hunt seat in the breed world), I hear my coach’s squeaky voice saying “more trot people, more trot!”.   And it just means more leg to get the horse moving out more – which is a common problem with western horses doing the hunt seat classes.
I'm not sure what we are discussing, but it probably was me asking if I needed more trot.

More trot?  Likely.
7. Did you ever collect Breyer horse models or similar?
Do Royal Doulton horses (porcelain) count?  I have a few of those from when I was a kid.  It is a funny thing to buy for a kid really since they weren’t to be played with. They just sat (and continue to sit) on a shelf.

8. Favorite “celebrity” horse?
Not sure on this one. I’m going to go with Teddy the Shetland.  He is a big deal on Instagram.    

9. If you could spend a day learning from any horse person (past or present), who would you choose?
I would like to travel back in time and spend the day with my friend’s husband when he was managing stallions and breeding a lot of mares. He knows so much about mares/foaling/breeding that I could learn.  He is still around for questions, he just doesn’t have horses anymore!

10. If you could ride in any international arena in the world, where would you choose?
Well, since I’m in Canada, the US is technically international, right? I’d love to ride/show at the QH Congress in Ohio someday!  I'd also like to ride at Spruce Meadows, which is not international, but still a big deal to me.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Fred is backed!

I've been working with Fred a fair bit over the past 3 or so weeks.   I've been tacking him up and hand-walking him and I had bridled him a couple of times but I quickly reached the limit of my experience with starting a young horse - pretty much zero!  LOL. I've never actually worked with a young horse before!   I've always assumed that my nervous temperament (lol) wasn't a good match for a young horse. 
Con: sun sets earlier and earlier. Pro: beauty sunsets
Fred has the quietest temperament so far out of a lot of the horses I've worked with over the years. I actually keep forgetting he is only 4 and hasn't actually "done" much.  He does have moments where he gets a little wound up if he isn't sure what he is expected to do, but he settles right back down if you give him a break or have him do something different.

Since Fred is a halter horse, I don't have any expectations for him as a riding horse. I'd like him to be green broke at minimum, in case I sell him in the future.  With his temperament and size, he'd be a great husband horse or something. 
Early lesson - working on giving to the bit
I was looking around on Facebook wishing I had someone that could come out and do a few lessons with me on how to back Fred and install some of the basics.  I will send him off to a trainer at some point, but not likely until 2021.  I have no timeline and no agenda (which is sooo relaxing!) and lo' and behold, I found someone that would come to my house. She is a very kind lady that a few acquaintances have worked with, so I had a hunch she would be a good fit. 

We've had three sessions so far and she backed Fred last week!  He has been super good and not at all phased by having someone on his back.  He has way more whoa than go though, so that is kind of interesting.  He is not super quick at getting the concept of rein pressure (likely because he is chewing the ever-loving crap out of the bit!) and is a bit sticky with his front feet, but that will all come with time.  He has been good about moving his hind end though and can do a turn on the fore already. 

Rider up!  Sorry about the crappy pic - it was super cloudy! 
So far, we've been using my English saddle, which seems to fit him reasonably well for what we are asking of him.  The saddle fit is a bit of a surprise, since the kid is huge!  I've had to buy 3 new girths since March and I'm now up to a size 56"!  Same goes for bits.  I started him with a 5" bit and quickly realized that was too small. I could only get a 5.5" at my local tack shop which is just barely ok. I actually had to order a couple of 6" bits online.  I'm having fun ordering new stuff though, as I've had myself on a pretty strict spending ban.
Copper having a snack beside my shopping haul
And you astute readers are probably wondering why I'm using an English saddle when I typically would ride western.  Good question!  It is because he is so big that it would be a bit hard to throw my western saddle allllll the way up there (I'm only 5' tall and he is at least 16.2hh!)  All of my tack and, well, everything is for my 15hh horses of the past.  I'm totally not used to all of this monster-sized stuff!  More on my shopping binge next post!

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. 

Farewell Rip and Spunky (alternate title: What a f**ng awful week)

 I've had another spell of radio silence here.  This time for good reason. On Wednesday, October 20th, I lost Rip to colic.  He had just...