Friday, 19 December 2014

Finally Bought A Saddle

It's a Christmas Miracle!  I found a saddle, and it only cost $500 more than my horse. It's jump saddle that fits me amazingly and is passable on Dee (and is pretty good with the right half pad/breastplate combination).  We've decided this is the best we are going to get without going custom.  The hunt for the dressage saddle has been placed on hold since I currently have one borrowed that works and I spent my saddle budget ont his one.  Once the insurance company figures out what they are doing with my other saddle I will hopefully have the money to buy my own then.

The new-to-me saddle is a very lovely wool-flocked Amerigo monoflap.  It was actually custom ordered by my coach when she was moving up to Intermediate.  After she sold the horse she sold the saddle, and now it's made it's way back to me.  It really is a small world.  I can't wait to take some more lessons and really enjoy having a saddle that puts me in the right position.

And my mama just ordered me a new PS breastplate to go with it!

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Confidence Isn't Re-built In a Day

I have yet another saddle on trial right now(the 9th jumping saddle, but who's counting).  I actually think it may be a keeper, but I want at least one more ride before making a decision.

Since I had a saddle to ride in I actually got to have another jumping lesson.  I'd had a rough day at work so I headed to the barn early so I could set fences by myself.  It's amazing how 30 minutes of manual labour and tossing poles around can work off a shitty mood.  My coach had me set up fences coming out of the corner on the diagonal with one fence at X.  Accuracy and steering were the name of the game.
My epic MS Paint skills at work
Turns out, Dee thinks she's in charge of the steering, which caused us some grief when jumping towards the wall.  It took a few tries but we managed to pull it together.  After we were all successful at jumping a single fence into the wall and doing a half ten-meter circle to jump the center jump we moved onto angles.  We had to jump the pink into the wall, the green to the purple to the brown.  The plan was to jump the green and brown straight and take the purple on an angle.  Our first go at it was a bit of a train wreck.  We jumped the pink at an angle (basically like a straight quarter line), had a decent green and completely missed the purple.  Take 2 was much better.  We got our shit together for the first jump and the rest rode quite nice.

We then moved on to adding the other diagonal (which seemed to ride much nicer).  When that went well we moved on to doing shallow loops, green to purple to blue and then to the other side.  This was actually easier than I anticipated and I did both sides with minimal trouble.

Proof I do ride my horse

We went to turn it around, doing the brown to the purple to the pink, and this is where it all fell apart.  I came into the brown with almost no pace, which (justifiably) caused a refusal.  We represented but at this point I was TERRIFIED and just kinda sat there like a lump.  It was an ugly jump and then I pulled her out of the line because there was no way in my state of mind I was capable of even getting over any more fences.  By this time I had fallen into a full on neurotic meltdown.  These jumps are not scary or big but some switch flipped and I was crying and shaking and could hardly breathe.  I was barely able to walk her in a circle so my coach had me sit off to the side and take a few minutes.  Once I got myself under control I had her put one fence down to a cross rail and then jumped some single fences (including the brown one) and called it a day.  I got off and gave my pony a big hug.  

My confidence was shattered by the red mare. I had numerous falls caused by run-outs, starting with the one that destroyed my ankle (and balance).  I kept at it for over a year thinking we could ride through it and make it happen.  All we did was succeed in making me terrified.  

Since I've bought Dee it's gotten so much better.  Oxers only cause me minimal grief, we've schooled 3'3" and everything that scares me on cross country.  Apparently my past is going to rear it's ugly head every once in awhile though. I'm grateful that I have the best pony who takes care of me and did not turf me last night.  I just wish I didn't have this anxiety that likes to show up unannounced. I'm hoping that as time gets on I can trust in myself, and my horse because last night was very frustrating and embarrassing.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Pony Express Blog Hop: Christmas Lists

This blog hop is fun!  And well timed since I have nothing much to write about since I still don't have a saddle that fits Dee (despite trying a plethora).

I've had horses my entire life.  I've been solely responsible for paying for my own horse and horse gear for 10 years. I always figured that the longer I had horses and the more stuff I got, the less I would need/want.  Why o'why does it not work that way?  I have stuff.  Lots and lots of stuff.  But there is still an always growing list of stuff I need/want.

For Christmas I really would like it if Santa could express ship me a custom Devoucoux (with a forward flap that magically fit my crazy hard to fit horse).
Ideally in black with silver piping!

Since that is not going to happen I do have some more reasonable wishlist items:

Every pair of breeches Aztec Diamond makes.

I can't figure out why it's blurry, it's not until I upload it :(
Or Annie's makes.
But especially these!
A PS of Sweden Breastplate.  My mom has said once I get a saddle she will order me one.  My mama is the best mama!  I'd also like one of their bridles (maybe my birthday?)
So purdy!  Must have!
A FITS Zephyr show coat.  Because it's mesh and breathes!  And it's still so classy looking.  A local tack store just had a wicked sale and I managed to snag this coat for 50% off.  Merry Christmas to me!
Ecogold cross country boots.  I like to support Canadian companies and I like science based facts.  So win/win here.
Watch the axe test video!
Dubarry boots.
Why is everything I want so pricey?!?

In all reality, I need nothing except saddles that fit my horse.  All spending money is going o be funneled into that endeavor for the foreseeable future.  Add that to the fact that the Boy and I are trying to purchase and acreage and I have a feeling these are all going to live on my list for awhile. It's nice to dream though.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

And Then There Were Two

Red Mare made it safely to Washington!

All ready to go.

Her new owner booked her into a transport from Edmonton to Langley on Nov 17.  We were given a window of Nov 29 - Dec 2.  This worked well because the plan was for her to have a few recovery days at a vet clinic in Langley before they drove up and hauled her across the border themselves on the 4th.

Then it snowed 30cm and was -30.  The shipper postponed due to roads and weather (understandably).  They told us they would pick her up between 7-10am on Dec 3.  I waited at the barn until 10:30 and then had to leave to go to work.  I finally managed to get a hold of them via email (after calling a dozen times and leaving multiple messages) only to be told that they meant Thursday morning.  Since I had already missed one morning of work I was not about to wait around for them to show up so I told them to have the driver call me when he was an hour out. I finally got a call at 11:45 (window was still 7-10) letting me know he was an hour away.  He finally arrived and we got her loaded at 1pm, 3 hours after the 3 hour pickup window!

At least the rig was what they said it would be.

To add insult, my coach had asked me who we were shipping with about a week before as she had a client just down the road who needed two horses shipped to Vancouver.  When she got to the barn on Wednesday she asked me why my horse was still here.  Apparently those two horses got picked up on Saturday, when our booking was postponed due to weather and road conditions!  The shipping company gave our booking away and then lied to us about needing to postpone.
She loaded like a pro and settled right in.

With all the delays, the mare did not get any recovery time in Langley but hopped right back on a trailer to complete her journey.  Thankfully she traveled well and made it to her destination safely.  I got a text letting me know she made it safely, drank a full bucket of water, ate her hay and laid down and went straight to sleep.  Good Mare!

Excited new owners!
I wish Jennifer and Cary all the best with her and I as much as I will miss her, I'm glad she found them.

Monday, 1 December 2014

It's Official, Saddle Shopping if the Pits

Well I've tried a few saddles so far.  A lovely Amerigo that was super comfy but slid back like crazy, a Berney Bros that didn't even get to the girth stage, a Frank Baines dressage saddle, a friends Jaguar and a semi-custom.

None of the jump saddles are even remotely worthwhile.  The Frank Baines belongs to a friend who is generously loaning it to me so that I don't have to ride bareback all the time.  It fits mostly ok with a front riser.

I've got a Zaldi rep coming up this weekend because I've heard good things about them working on harder to fit shoulders.  My coach (who owns a tack store) is also working on getting a demo saddle in that is built on dressage panels but uses a polymer to support a forward flap.  Either option may work but is going to be pricey!!!

I'm currently signed up for a Sandra Donnelly clinic over the Christmas break but I'm beginning to panic that I won't have a saddle to ride in :(

I've got nothing much to share because we got 30cm of snow over two days and then it was -30 Celsius for a few more, so all I did was run out and put extra blankets on.

400g Turnout with 200g liner(fullneck) and a BOT mesh sheet.  She should be warm

Monday, 24 November 2014

Saddle Woes

When I bought Dee I owned 5 saddles (I know, I'm on my way to being a compulsive hoarder):
17.5" M Santa Cruz monoflap
17.5" MW Forestier monoflap
18" M JES Elite by Schleese dressage saddle
18.5" MN cheap synthetic dressage saddle
And a mediocre sidesaddle.

The Santa Cruz remained with the red mare while she was in training and she apparently had a hissy fit about someone touching her ears and reared, fell over and busted the tree.  I'm currently in the midst of an insurance claim to repair/replace the saddle but the insurance company is taking their sweet time about it.

The crease at the cantle is where it broken :(

This left me with the Forestier to jump in.  I knew it wasn't a great fit, it is snug in the shoulders and not wide enough in the back and slides back.  We compensated by purchasing a breastplate and an Ogilvy pad to try and protect old-lady back.  This has gotten us through the first few months but now every time I try and ride in it she is uneven.  So it's officially been shelved :(  I have no desire to sell this saddle because I got an amazing deal on it and it fits Merlin like a glove.

Purdy Forestier with snazzy Ogilvy

The synthetic dressage is for sale since it is way too narrow for Dee (a girl at the barn is actually trying it right now).

Cheapy synthetic

My Schleese is an awesome saddle.  I completely fell in love with it when I got it.  It's brown, puts me in a great position and fit the red mare like a glove.  Unfortunately it doesn't work too great for Dee.  It actually fits her not bad except it is too long for her super short back.  It ends a few inches past her last rib.  So for right now I am riding her in it with the Ogilvy but I know it is only a short-term solution.
It's brown and beautiful.

I sold the sidesaddle (for more than I paid for it!) after I bought Dee since it never fit me right and it was WAY too long for Dee.

I love riding sidesaddle, just not in this saddle.

So right now, my best option is bareback.  Which is fine for the occasional ride but I really need to find saddles that fit both me and her.

I've started looking, but she is remarkably hard to fit.  She's actually a medium width at her withers but she's almost flat across her back.  She also has a very short back and a giant upright shoulder that makes everything more difficult.

I'm also not really ready to compromise the monoflap.  I have a major love affair with the monoflap and my new jumping saddle must be one.  It'd be awesome if I could get a dressage monoflap too!

I'm completely open to suggestions!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Red Mare Finds A New Home

She sold!

I"m so excited.  Not only because my budget will go back to balancing but also because the mare found an incredible home!

A couple drove up from Seattle (which Google Maps tells me is a 15 hour drive!) this weekend to come try her out.  I really liked them from the get-go.  The husband is an equine vet and the wife is just getting back into riding after a 10 year hiatus.  They're looking for something solid and sane to allow her to get back into the horse world.  They wanted something that can do multiple disciplines and is comfortable hacking out.

After a quick demo of me riding, she hopped on and it went really well.  The mare highlighted some of her weaknesses and it inspired her to really sit correctly (if you half halt without backing it up with leg the mare will stop).  Both of them really liked how she's been there, done that and hasn't been pigeon-holed into one slot.

I was shocked that the mare really liked them, especially the husband.  She's normally quite aloof an will rarely take cookies from strangers but she took cookies from him right away and was constantly checking back for more.

So on Friday it's a quick trip to the vet to get her coggins and paperwork done.  Shipping is currently being arranged, and then she will be on her way.

I'll miss her but I'm so very glad that she has found an amazing home where she will be loved and used.

And now I can get serious about shopping for a new saddle to fit Dee.
The mare and her new human

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Red Mare Comes Home

Well since there has been very little interest in the mare it was time for her to come back to me.  I couldn't afford to just leave her with the trainer indefinitely.  So for now she's back with me and her and Dee are vacillating between best friends and enemies.

I've ridden her a few times now and I have to say, I really, really like this horse.  It's just too bad she needs someone else if jumping is on the table.  If I could afford both horses long term I think I would keep her and make an effort to conquer dressage-land!   Sam and Anne both did a fabulous job so she's soft and supple like she never has been before.

 But alas my finances are slightly strained by three, I cannot so here's hoping she sells quick.

In the meantime she'll get a clip and some work to combat the fat and fuzzy :)

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Fuzzy Pony Isn't So Fuzzy Anymore

Best Pony has officially been clipped twice this season already.  The first one was in defense of how incredibly fluffy she was.  The weather has been unseasonably warm (and we don't have any snow!) so I gave her a modified trace clip since it hasn't been cold enough to put on a winter blanket with a neck but it's gotten cold enough over night that I wasn't comfortable turning her out with a completely naked neck.  She lives out year-round so it's always a delicate balance between her comfort and me not having to spend my entire day drying her off.

Now that the weather has gotten slightly cooler I felt justified in getting more aggressive with the clip.  The nice thing about having my own clippers is that I can pretty much do what I want, when I want.  So Dee now sports a clip that leaves a bit of hair over her back and rump but has enough gone that she dries much quicker.  Unfortunately she hates being in the barn and refuses to stand still.  This left m with some lines that left a whole lot to be desired, but it is what it is.

I had a dressage lesson on Friday and it was so nice to not have to hang out forever to wait for her to dry.

Mostly Nekkid Pony

Monday, 3 November 2014

And We Go Hunting!

A friend and I decided that we were going to haul down to Calgary to join their Halloween Hunt.  I've only been on one hunt, and it was by turns the most terrifying and exhilarating experience.  It should be mentioned that I was living in Ireland at the time and participated in an actual fox hunt.  I jumped giant fences and hedges where you have no idea what is on the other side.  It was an experience for sure.
The Huntmaster dressed as a fox so we could chase an "actual" fox!

From what I'd been told the Calgary Hunt Club runs a really enjoyable afternoon so Jacky and I loaded up and hauled 3 hours down to one.

Best Pony'd regin of awesome remains intact!  It was a blast but it turns out that out on a hunt I will likely need something just a touch stronger than a simple french link snaffle.  Dee was convinced that "zoom" was the only acceptable speed and I was hard pressed to tell her otherwise.

She was brave and bold, jumping the scary spider jump without hesitation (after the hunt master and 3 others refused it).

There were some awesome costumes, I obviously did not partake

Next fall I'm hoping to make it down for more of the hunts because it was great fun and everyone was super friendly and accomodating.

Best Pony thinks the Spider is no big deal (contrary to popular equine opinion)

Friday, 17 October 2014

Best Pony Goes Trail Riding

Isabel and I hauled out to Blackfoot Grazing Reserve to take the ponies for what was supposed to be a leisurely trail ride.  We started off in the fields and made the ponies walk calmly up and down all the hills.  Dee was game but Martini was pretty sure we should canter or trot.
I love fall rides

We ended up moving a little quicker than we thought, going 15 km in just over 2 hours.  It was the first big trail ride I've taken Dee on because I'm trying to bring her fitness up slowly.  I'm pretty sure she was getting tired (at the very least she should have been) but she was completely game to continue on.  I think she would power on until she dropped from exhaustion.  I never once had to push her, I held her back more than anything.  Turns out my little Saddlebred completely outwalks the 16.1 TB.
Sweaty Pony

The more I ride this horse, the happier I am.  I'm sure we will have rough days because nothing is ever smooth sailing but she's so willing and honest I'm having more fun than I have in a very long time.  We actually hauled to a XC course a few hours away just to get one final schooling in and it was funner than I could have hoped.  Dee and I babysat the greenbean 3 year olds in between schooling.  She jumped everything I pointed her at and then was content to stand with the babies or lead them over tiny logs. Not once was I scared for my life.  I had forgotten what it felt like to not be completely terrified of a XC course and Dee is giving my back my confidence.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Spoiled Pony

Snazzy new CWD halter

And new BoT Mesh Sheet

And new Ogilvy means Best Pony shall now be referred to as Spoiled Pony

Friday, 10 October 2014

Because Who Doesn't Love Baby Photos

Recently I had Natural Dynamic Photography out to do photos of Sullivan.  I'm really happy with how they turned out.  It's always a bit of a crap shoot if babies are going to cooperate. He's 8 weeks old in these.
This one's my favourite

Look Ma, No feet!
Yes, I'm a little stinker!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

#TBT - Equines Of My Past

I was talking to a new boarder at the barn and during the conversation our past horses came up.  She was completely flabbergasted that I do not know an accurate count of how many horses I've ridden.

I grew up with hoses.  I do not remember learning to ride, I've always just been able to.  My mother was a trainer and certified coach.  As a teenager I rode all her training horses before they went home.  To this end I'm sure I have ridden 200+ horses, even if I only rode them once or twice.  I've had over a dozen horses that I considered mine, some good, some bad, some ugly and only one heart horse.

Skylight was not the first horse I rode but she was the first one that was exclusively mine. Mom picked her up so that I would have something my size so I could learn to bridle and saddle by myself.  I was only 4 when we got her.

Skylight was an awesome children's pony.  She was hardly bigger than a miniature and she had been around the block and new the drill.  If there was an adult in sight she was an angel, the minute the adult wasn't around she would rub her charge off on the fence.  If that didn't' work she would give laying down a try.

I have very fond memories of that pony. When my parents split and the farm got sold she went to teach my younger cousins how to ride.  I remember my aunt popping 3 of us on her back to toddle around while she fed the cows.

That little rotten pony taught most of our family how to bridle and saddle, how to steer and how to kick like hell when she moved close to the fence. She won me my first ribbon that wasn't in leadline.  I wouldn't be the rider I am without her.  She taught me to mean what I say, EVERY SINGLE TIME and for that I will always be grateful.
Circa 1992

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

2pointober 2014

Well I decided if I'm going o give this blogging thing a go, I should try to be more involved (outside of just reading blogs while avoiding work).  The annual Two-Point-Challenge hosted by Viva Carlos and Equestrian at Hart seemed like the perfect platform to become a participant.  And let's be honest, who couldn't use more two point work?

So I set out to get a baseline time and unfortunately the only day that worked was a day I was riding a friends horse so I did it in a saddle that is too small for me.  Nothing like making it even harder.  Turns out I have a balance problem.  My balance gave out way before my leg muscles.  I couldn't make it past 1:37 without touching the neck.  I tried a few times and I always lost my balance and ended up touching the neck, therefore stopping my time.

This is just a very clear highlight of a bigger problem.  I rely on my hands for balance way too much.  Since Dee refuses to let me balance on her mouth I have just transferred my balance to the neck strap and mane.

My goal this month is going to be to increase my ability to balance.  I'd really like to get to at least 10 minutes of two-point.

Thanks to L. and Hillary for setting up an interesting and fun contest!

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Wherein New Pony Gets A New Name

So I signed the Bill of Sale and said goodbye to a chunk of cash on a Saturday.  In true "crazy eventer" fashion I took my new purchase to a show on Sunday.

It was just a small local jumper derby and I entered the 2'6" since Dee is just coming back into fitness.  The division had two classes, Power&Speed and then the Derby.  I wasn't really expecting much.  My goal for the day was to not fall off.  This would have been a major feat with the red mare.  Apparently now that I have Dee I need to reconsider my goals (in the best possible way).

Since our partnership is in it's infantile stages I figured we could use the low pressure atmosphere to just kinda bomb around and figure each other out.  Turns out, riding a safe horse with more experience than me means when I put my leg on and say "Go" I get a lot of go.  Same when I put my leg on and say "Turn".

Not only did we go clear in the Power&Speed but we went fast!  It didn't feel like a crazy fast round but we were definitely moving.  I also took a few inside turns and Dee was a complete rockstar about it.

The derby class was a total hoot.  We jumped in one ring, then had an in-and-out into the next ring, jumped a wall coming out of that ring, up and down a "bank" then jumped back into the first ring. Since our first class had gone so well my competitive side kicked in and we took some tight turns and we boogied.  I had so much fun.  Not once was I scared for my life and I was sure that when I asked for something I was going to get it.  Coming out of the ring the BO told me that if I had just bought her yesterday I had made a great purchase.  I couldn't stop smiling.

It was a big class (20+) and I figured we might place but there were some established partnerships there, and some lightening quick ponies so I wasn't holding my breath.

Turns out we got a second in the Power&Speed and we took first in the derby, which was good enough for division champ and a COOLER!  There may have been some enthusiastic cheering/squealing and jumping up and down but I will neither confirm nor deny.

Best Pony thinks posing is beneath her.

Dee is officially known as Best Pony now.  So much so that my mom has taken to calling her BP.  It was an awesome start to our life together.  I can't wait to see what the future holds for us.  For the first time in quite some time I believe I will make it to Rebecca Farm next year.