Friday, March 6, 2020

Friday Roundup: Books, Links, Podcasts and Videos

I've been trying to come up with more blog content lately...mostly to keep myself engaged with the process of trying to write something and find a few images to go along with it all!  I tend to spend more time in the winter reading and watching youtube videos, etc. so I thought I'd do some mini reviews of the stuff I've found.

First up is a cute little book: Mini School by Sabine Ellinger

Rating:  2** out of 5

Why:  This book is really cute, but really basic.  It has lots of pictures, but aside from the basics of horse "stuff" like the dressage movements, the training scale, how to longe, how to teach basic tricks, this book is lacking for the experienced horse owner.

I bough this one for 3 reasons 1) I was already doing an order from so I just added this to my cart and 2) this lady has trained her mini Lancelot to do all kinds of cool advanced in hand stuff and 3) I was looking for a bit of guidance on how to get Copper into long lines.  Turns out I'd be better getting some real-life coaching!

There are a couple of grainy videos of her and Lancelot doing in-hand work:

Copper is suspicious that minis should even been doing this sort of nonsense!  lol
svelte summer Copper:  pfffbbbtttt haute ecole?  Puh-lease.
Link(s): Jec A Ballou's blog

I bought a book that I'll review next week by Jec Aristotle Ballou.  I follow her on Facebook and found the link to her site, where she has a blog.  There are some good tidbits in her posts and I liked one on working a horse over ground poles even though the horse hits every one (FRED!) and one on core stability.  The posts are fairly basic and hint at more information being available in her books and videos, but doesn't bother me too much.    I came across these articles as I was starting to plan some work and exercises for Fred.

A few posts I liked:

Podcasts: The Perfectionism Project and The Confident Rider

So, I have a confession.  It is very hard for me to listen to content and focus on it.  I have conditioned myself to listen to music or the radio as background noise when I'm doing something else.   I've tried several times to listen to podcasts at work, but I lose track of what is going on since I'm not focused on the podcast!

I've been working on building my focus and listening to short chunks of podcasts at a time while at home.  So far, some podcasts make me want to take notes (Perfectionism project) and others bug me a bit as if I don't pay attention for a few seconds, I miss part of the story (true crime)!  

I'm not sure I'll get far in the podcast realm!

Videos - Warwick Schiller  on youtube

I'm not sure how I found these videos - I feel like another blogger might have mentioned it? Maybe TeresaA?  If you know/remember, drop a comment below!

This winter, I thought I would seek out some natural horsemanship content and see what is out there.  I don't typically read/follow natural horsemanship anymore, but I like Warwick Schiller's approach - he even admits he's changed his approach over the years as he learns and understands more about himself and how the horses  react to what we do.  

It is interesting stuff and there are many, many videos on his channel to keep you occupied.  

Any favourites that I should know about? I'm always on the lookout for more content!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday: Yahooo!!!!!


Plus this:

Equals this:

And now we wait and cross our fingers that all goes well.  I'm not good at waiting.  

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

More winter: meandering, pondering, wishing for spring

On my day off Friday, I took the time to take out my nice camera and just (try to) enjoy the winter day.  I actually don't mind winter and cool temperatures - there is something about the fresh cool air that really refreshes my mind and my spirit.  Okay, that sounds totally cheesy, but it's true!

I took the dogs out for another snowshoe and got a few pics and forced myself to enjoyed the fresh air.
Artsy fencepost photo.  And a reminder to cut brush along the fence line in a month. lolz
This simple fence post image has me thinking about my farm to-do list for the spring. My fencing is in need of adjustments, repairs and some maintenance.  I'm also hoping to get some gravel and maybe repair the shelter footing.

We have my father in law's dog every winter while they go away.  She (border collie) and Sophie get along really well.  Sophie follows her everywhere and they love sniffing all the animal tracks in the back field.
Lots of animal tracks and stuff to sniff.
We don't have a ton of nice trees on the property - most are scrubby willow and a few maple and some pines - so I've been guarding this little oak tree for years.  It was just a stick with a leaf or two when I first found it and now it is about 4ft tall.   I will not likely live here long enough to see it become a huge tree, but it is cute nonetheless.
Grow, little oak!
As we kept wandering back to the little grove of maple trees, I tried to get a few cute pics of Sophie, but she is not the most photogenic dog out there.  Her goofy face makes me smile tho...
Don't worry - there are horse pictures coming.  From the back of the big field, I could make out Fred and the other guys snoozing in the sun.  My hubby calls Fred the jolly green giant when he is wearing his green t/o blanket.  lol
Fred is watching us...
Fred has become the watcher of the herd since Spencer left. It is pretty cute.  He will come toward the fence with his head down and then when you call his name, he perks up and looks all cute.
Coming over to see who/what is behind his field...
This green blanket is toast - the neck part has ripped apart from the shoulder and I don't think it can be fixed.  It is holding up to get Fred through this cold snap and then it will be retired.
She knows my name?  Maybe she has fud?  Fred, probably.
I spent the rest of my day off with a hot cup of coffee, a good book and several cats on my lap. It was nice to have an extra long weekend to relax and dream about spring plans!

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Winter stormy days

We had a big storm this past Thursday - I think most of the eastern seaboard was hit in some way or another.  This storm hit extra hard since it had been so warm the days prior and the snow was melting!  Oh well...that is life in this part of the world.  We got about 8-9 inches of snow, which is nothing like some places get, so I can't complain.

I was able to work from home Thursday, which is rare, so I was very happy I didn't have to drive in that weather. I had also been meaning to take a Friday off to use up some leave, so I did that this past week, as the roads were nasty and I thought I'd save myself the hassle.  I love it when I'm home during the day and I can glance out and check on the horses. They were playing and running around at one point and I only managed to get two shots before my camera battery died.  D'oh!

I'm fairly lucky here with the horses in a big storm.  I have lots of hay at hand and the power rarely goes out, so I don't have to worry about water too much either.
zoom zoom!
I went outside with my cell phone hoping to get some video, as the horses were having fun ripping around.  Fred did not disappoint...lolol

I do tend to watch Copper in bad weather as he is not wearing a blanket this year.  He is fine in cold and dry snow, but when the weather is drastically changing, I don't want him getting wet, then super cold.
As the day wore on Thursday, the temps dropped from around 0C (32F) to -20C (-10F) and the wet snow changed to a drier snow.  Since I was home, I had the luxury of bringing the horses in for a few hours so Copper could dry off before the cold temps hit.

He does NOT like being in a stall for long, so I usually have to lure him in with grain.  Yes, I could get his halter/lead line, but that seems like a lot of work!  lol

I left them in to dry off for a few hours before chucking them back out in the elements.  When I first had horses at home again, I was hesitant to put them out in bad weather.  After seeing Spencer stand in freezing rain and snow over the years, I realize they tolerate a lot more than we think.

They have shelter and lots of hay, so most of the time they are fine!  Although Fred is going through blankets like crazy - he has now wrecked three!  OMG horse.  Luckily they were all cheaper or ones that I bought used, so I'll have a big pile to see if I can get them repaired or maybe I'll just chuck them.  I'll be saving up for a nicer set for him for next year - so far I'm looking at Schneiders, Dover or SmartPak with their warranties. 

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Still here..chugging along

I'm still here, winter is still here, you get the idea...  ;-)  We've been having a freak warm spell where it is 7C and sunny (L William's trick tells me that is approx 44F! You double the temp in C and add 30).  I've been enjoying snowshoeing on the weekends out in our back forty - well more like back 14, but still, it is fun and the fresh air is nice. The dogs love it too, so we all benefit.

I've been watching lots of tv, getting lots of cuddles with the pets and reading some horse-related books.  I'm trying to decide if I'll do a review or not...stay tuned for the exciting outcome of that decision.  lol
Archie likes to watch Nat Geo shows while lounging on the dog. My legs are somewhere underneath both of them!
The sun is setting later and later and has made for some pretty wicked sunsets lately.  There is a hint of spring in the air  - the horses have just started shedding a bit on their faces.  Not quite spring, but we are heading in the right direction now.
So purty.
And best of all, we went to the US to pick up a special delivery for a certain AQHA mare.  The deed was done about 9 days ago, so we have to wait until at least 14 days to ultrasound again to see if she caught!!!!  Keep your fingers and toes crossed!  This mare has had 2 foals before and has been easy to breed, so we are hopeful it went well.  
V. special "sample"
And Fred is doing well. He is continuing to eat me out of house and home! I think he might have hollow  He also seems a bit bum high lately, but I'm hoping it is just my eyesight and he really isn't growing any more.  He is around 16.2hh and I'm sort of afraid to stick him.   I'm keeping his weight in an ok place and am now ramping up his 2nd cut hay amounts to help put on some more weight.  
Nom nom. Fred, probably.  He is standing a bit funny here with his back legs way underneath...
I haven't started working him yet, but tomorrow is day 1 for him.  I'm going to start using some exercises from the book 55 Corrective Exercises for Horses (Jec Aristotle Ballou) where I can, since I don't have hills (boo) or good footing due to the snow/melting/more snow mess that we have.  I can work on backing him, getting him used to a surcingle/ground driving lines, carrot stretches and some walking through the snow.  It won't be much to start, but it will work on stretching out his muscles after not doing much all winter.  He has definitely lost muscle tone over the winter so we need to start working back up to a basic level of fitness so he is ready to do more when the footing permits.

I'm hoping to show him in late June, so we are working towards that date now!

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:

  • 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
  • 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?
  • stay healthy!

  • 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!)
  • 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

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...