Thursday 31 December 2015

2015: A Year in Review


First Dee scratched her eye. Which was looking better by the time the vet was out.

We hauled 3 hours down to Cochrane to attend a Sandra Soklowski clinic and squeezed in some lesson with our alternate eventing trainer. I had my first fall off Dee when she popped over an oxer and I got jumped out of the tack.

We hosted a Sandra Donnelly clinic at our barn and Dee and I had a blast.

Sullivan got his feet done for the first time.


Dee came up super lame. A suspected collateral ligament injury (need an MRI to confirm) meant stall rest for at least 6 weeks. Since she weaves when she's bored or stressed, we set her up in an outdoor stall.

The Boy gets me a PS of Sweden High Jump bridle for my birthday :)


Hand-walking becomes challenging and I become convinced I own a Saddlebred-Kraken-Dragon-Kite cross. I start riding Martini and ponying Dee in an effort to keep all 4 feet on the ground.

Two days apart. Isn't Alberta great?

More handwalking.

Mid-month I get the OK to start Dee back into work, very very slowly.
First ride back

We move to our summer barn and Sullivan joins us.


Sullivan continues his training with the neighbour girl. He's finally turning into a respectable equine.

Dee and I attend our first Endurance ride, completing the 12 mile Intro division.

So much fun!


Dee has her first sidesaddle experience, including jumping. 

I splurge on another PS of Sweden bridle and a shwack of stuff from Beka.

We head to a Becky Lee clinic in Cochrane and school almost exclusively Training level jumps.

Attend a local jumper schooling show and take home some firsts

Complete our first event together, finishing on our dressage score.


I fall off the blogging train completely until October.

James Alliston clinic, where I fall off but manage to avoid all panic attacks.

Thompson Country HT, finish on our dressage score again.

Vacation and school at Herron Park with Sandra Donnelly.

Check compete at Rebecca Farm off my bucket list :) Finish on our dressage score again.

End up with a boot rub and cellulitis after the final day at Rebecca.


Complete Alhambra HT, crappy footing leads to a slip in front of the fence and we pick up our first XC penalties.

Had pro photos taken of the family, furred and humanoid alike.


Complete South Peace HT, finishing on our dressage score for the final event of the year
Favourite photo of the year

Sullivan hauls to a local RPSI inspection to get branded

Attend a local jumper show that offers good prize money. Kick butt and come home with coolers, cash and satin :)


Dee injures the same eye that she hurt in January.

The Boy and I buy an acreage and bring Sullivan home. Obviously Sullivan needs company so I acquire Chase. The month is rather quiet on the equine front since we spend most of it homeless and moving.


Another quiet month as we settle into our new place.

Take the whole herd to the vet. Discover Chase has ringbone and Dee is a very young 18.

Attend a Jessica Phoenix clinic and struggle with anxiety.


Sullivan goes to his first show!

I acquire a new lease pony! (More info to come in the New Year once I get photos!)
He's so very handsome!

Wednesday 30 December 2015

Jessica Phoenix Day 3

Day 3:

After the disappointment of Saturday I was just hoping that things went a little better on Sunday. The XC exercises that were set up looked like a ton of fun so I had high hopes. Corners, angled lines, triple bars and skinnies are all elements that are challenging but exciting so I was pretty happy to see all of them in one arena.

Photo courtesy of Alberta Eventer
And turns out, XC is our thing, even indoors. I never felt anxious, Dee was highly rateable and aside from the occasional bobble with not committing to the big open stride it went really, really well.

There was a really large triple bar set up coming out of the corner that required a very forward ride, especially to get the 2 between the corners. (The 3 was acceptable, but I was working on being more comfortable on the bigger stride). I need to spend more time on the bigger strides because I feel like we are gunning it and in reality we've got a good rolling canter.

This was the biggest take away for me. In order to move up I need to stop choking Dee's momentum. Just because she can jump from a tiny 6' stride doesn't mean she should.

Day 3 was the best day of the clinic, it's where I really felt we got the best instruction for us. I hope Extreme Stables brings Jessica back in the spring  because I would love to ride with her on an actual XC course.

I love this photo of us, I'm not really sure why.
This is the only video I have and I grabbed it off of FB, so I hope it works :)

Renate Price and Dee being superstars at todays Jessica Pheonix clinic!!

Posted by Samantha Pritchard on Sunday, November 29, 2015

Tuesday 29 December 2015

Jessica Phoenix Day 2

Day 2:

Day 2 was set up with a bunch of stadium exercises, including everyone's favourite Circle of Death.

The Circle of Death actually went astonishingly well once it went up to jumps. As poles, we struggled with rhythm (shocking, I know). But when it comes time to jump Dee becomes more rideable.

The outside line was a vertical to an oxer to a vertical. It was set so that both were either a 4 or a 5. We practiced going through in both. It may not have always been pretty but I was successful in getting the 4 to a 4 and the 5 to a 5. I was feeling really nervous, despite the fences being set fairly small. I was pretty proud of how I rode the beginning, despite my nerves.

But my pony is cute and honest!
Then one of the girls in our group starting having major problems with her horse. He would buck and kick out and just kept getting worse. Jessica talked her through almost 10 minutes of schooling and then offered to get on him herself. While it was really interesting to watch her school the sassy beast and convince him that going forward was his only option, it was also a time drain. She rode for close to 20 minutes, meaning that over 1/2 hour of our 90 minute lesson was focused solely on one horse and one rider.

I did my best to keep Dee moving so she didn't get stiff but the arena was chilly and there was only so much I could do. The extended break also did not help my nerves. The longer we sat, the more nervous I got. Unfortunately I think that Jessica was feeling pretty poorly (she had a cold) and we didn't really get much out of the last few minutes of the lesson. It felt like the issues I was having were never really addressed and I was pretty disappointed at the end.

She's so excited to be jumping
It was a little frustrating that on the day where I could have used some more help, the circumstances seemed to pile up against me. On a positive note, I may have been feeling anxious, but I didn't have a panic attack and while I wasn't super effective as a rider, I also wasn't a complete passenger.

Monday 28 December 2015

Jessica Phoenix Clinic Day 1

I was waiting for media before I posted this but I'm beginning to think it will never happen. (Someone video'd me on their phone since mine got cold and died).

The weekend got off to a rocky start.  On Thursday evening I loaded everything into the trailer and then went to hook it up to my truck, since I was planning to leave before 6am on Friday morning. I had the driver's side window rolled down and when I got out to brush the snow out of the box so I could see the hitch, I closed the door normally. Unfortunately, for some reason my window shattered. Thankfully it was mostly contained within the door. (When The Boy replaced the window, he noticed that my after-market speakers were quite deep and a little loose, he figures the back of the speaker hit the window).

This led to some last minute panicking. The Dodge 1500 isn't big enough to pull my trailer and doesn't have a hitch. The Boy's redneck truck has a gooseneck hitch but when we plugged my trailer in the lights weren't working, so that was a no go (Yes, we have 3 trucks, 4, if you count the race truck).

I managed to get a hold of one of the other girls who was going and arranged for her to haul Dee for me. She awesomely agreed to go much earlier than planned since I rode in one of the first groups. I loaded all my crap into the little truck (since she was driving home every night, and I had made arrangements to stay close to the facility)

Day 1:

I rode at 10:30 and had originally planned to be there in time to watch part of the 9:00 group. With the new trailering arrangements I scratched that plan and just hoped to be on time. We made it by 10:00. Thankfully, Dee is a seasoned traveller and requires no time to settle in, and I'm very quick to get ready.

As soon as I started our warm up I knew it was going to be a challenging day. Dee was full of energy and seemed to have left her brakes at home.

The arena was set with 4 sets of poles. Poles are traditionally very hard for us because rhythm is very hard for us. Dee is convinced that zoom is the only acceptable pace.

Jessica had me focus on maintaining the bend and riding the entire exercise, if I defaulted to letting her figure it out, we would just gain speed. With everyone she focused on the length of the neck. Most everyone had to lengthen the neck to lengthen the stride.

Every time we came to a walk Dee tried to jig or take off so Jessica had me mover her hind legs to the inside and outside to upset her balance and then allow her to stretch her neck. This took some doing but as she started to figure it out, our walk got better and better, with less antics.

I left the day feeling like the remedial student since I was in a Pre-Training group and struggled with simple pole exercises and spent most of the 90 minutes working on walking in a steady rhythm. But I did feel that it was helpful and we managed to find success. The best moment was when after our last set of canter poles Dee came right back to a walk without a fuss.

The day ended with a potluck that featured a seemingly endless array of deliciousness and a slideshow of Jessica and Pavarotti's Pan Am experience. She also brought her Pan Am medals and passed them around, which the barn rats found to be squeal worthy.

Wednesday 23 December 2015

Herd Health

I took my whole herd somewhere for the first time. Next time, I hope we go somewhere more exciting/less expensive than the vet. I almost always haul in to my vet. Partially because I'm just over an hour away from the clinic and partially because I just find it easier. In cases of emergency I will use a vet who is closer to home but for general maintenance and lameness I will continue to haul to my vet.

I love having well-behaved horses. Everyone loaded great, stood quietly and was really good for the vet. Chase and Dee both needed their teeth done. I had Dee's done last fall when I bought her and had hoped to leave them until spring when I take her in for her Coggins and vaccinations. She's a super sloppy eater and had started to eat treats with her head tilted sideways. Since Chase hadn't had his teeth done in years I figured I'd get them both done. I popped Sullivan in the trailer since he could use the miles and I wanted to get a fecal done on all 3.

I find drunk ponies endlessly amusing.
It turns out that Dee's teeth were fine. After some investigation it was discovered that the reason she is a messy eater is a partially paralyzed facial nerve. It's fairly subtle but one side of her muzzle droops (and she won't stand still enough for me to grab a photo of it) and her front teeth don't close at rest. There is nothing we can do for it and it shouldn't cause her any major issues, just something to keep an eye on in the future.

Despite all 3 horses being on a thorough worming regime (all slightly different since they all came from different places) they all had a high worm count. The vet actually had to look up one variety that Chase had. So all 3 got hit with Eqvalan Gold and then will get done again in 3 weeks with SafeGuard.

Chase also had a brief lameness exam. And by brief I really do mean brief. The vet took one look at him and confirmed my thoughts. He's got ringbone on the front left (his crooked leg). So it's now about making him comfortable. With bute he's sound enough to go for a short, slow trail ride and that works for us.
With that crooked leg it's surprising he stayed sound until he was 17

I also had a long conversation with the vet about maintenance for Dee. Currently she is on a monthly shot of Ichon but at the end of the season I noticed some stiffness that was taking her quite awhile to work out of. As I'm hoping to upgrade to Training, I want to make sure we are doing our very best to support the old lady joints. So now she has a prescription for Legend as well. The plan is to do the loading dose in the spring and then keep her on a monthly shot for the show season and then reassess next fall. It's ok, who needs money anyways?

It was an expensive morning but it was also really nice to have all 3 horses looked at and to have the second vet non-believing how old Dee is. It was also gratifying to have my vet agree that at Dee's current fitness and soundness level there is absolutely no reason not to upgrade her back to Training. He thinks she could have many years of a competitive career left if we are careful and manage her well.
Both her appearance and behaviour are misleadingly young

Tuesday 22 December 2015

Baby's First Show

I've been meaning to do a clinic recap, then I lose all motivation once I realize I have very little media since my phone got cold and died. I'm going to track down some, or get creative with Paint and do one though because the clinic was very interesting.

An organization just over an hour away is hosting a winter Fun & Fuzzy show series. I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to get Sullivan out and about. So I loaded him and Chase up in the dark on Saturday morning, stopped and picked up a friend who's mare needed some show miles, and we were off.

It took us quite a bit longer to get to the arena than anticipated as the roads were icy and it was further away than we were originally told. Thankfully Chase is the best babysitter and requires absolutely no time to settle in. Since Chase was unconcerned and stuffing his face from the hay bag, Sullivan settled in within minutes as well. I was able to leave them while I finished up my registration and when I returned they were both still content.

Babysitter extraordinaire!

I had signed up for Halter (2 and under), Showmanship and In-Hand trail. I went into the day with no real expectations. This was the first time Sullivan was in an arena by himself (he's been to two other indoors, once for his foal inspection and once to the barn where Dee lives to romp with Chase). He was surprisingly good. Standing still is a skill we obviously need to work on, but as long as he was moving he was stellar.

He's such an ugly duckling right now.
We were allowed to school the trail obstacles for about 10 minutes before the class. He led quietly across the "bridge" (just a simple piece of plywood), backed through the "L" and had no issues with the gate. The only part we really struggled with was the trot poles. Now this horse has seen plenty of trot poles, he's even jumped little cross-rails in hand. But on this day it was a challenge. The first time through he leaped over all 3 poles. My friend made the smart crack, "Well, you did breed him to be a jumper" which the audience found endlessly entertaining. The second time though he treated the 3' trot poles like canter poles and he was so proud of himself he landed bucking and kicking and generally playing around. Unfortunately the #littleasshole managed to land a solid kick to my upper thigh. A mild reprimand was all it took to get him back under control. A few more times through the poles and he was trotting quietly.

Fuzzy indoor iPhone pictures :)

Overall, he was much better behaved than I expected. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and we can go to a few more in this series.

Thursday 26 November 2015

Anxiety... Bitch That She Is

As I've discussed before, I struggle with anxiety surrounding jumping. After I had my wreck, it got worse and worse until it developed into full-blown panic attacks.

I had multiple sessions with a psychologist (also a 3* eventer) this summer and I really noticed a difference. After my first session with her in July I was able to finish out my show season without any crippling anxiety.

I also take sporadic clinics with the good Dr. It's great to have a team that gets it.

I had planned to take the first part of our off-sesaon to focus strictly on dressage. And then I got offered one of the last spots in a Jessica Phoenix clinic. I couldn't turn that down! I started doing weekly jumping lessons again, in preperation for the clinic. The first two went well, ending with us bopping around a 3' course like NBD. For some reason the next one is where everything fell apart.

The course had some really challenging elements but was definitely within our abilities. The first time around the course was fine. And then the fences went up two holes (bringing the fences anywhere from 2'9"-3'3"), and it all fell apart. I struggled to cope with the meteoric rise in anxiety. I utilized all the tools that had allowed me to have such a wonderful summer.

It just wasn't enough. While I didn't have an actual panic attack, I did feel like one was building. I guess I did succeed in recognizing it, but I didn't feel like I could get past it. My instructor actually made me grab the neck strap with both hands and I was not allowed to let go. Thankfully Dee steers really well off my seat and legs and has a good understanding of neck reining. This really took most of the responsibility out of my hands and Dee carted me around like the Best Pony she is.

Its frustrating and demoralizing to have lesson like these ones. While I did end on a decent note, it wasn't fun, I didn't feel like I learned anything and more than anything it felt like a step back.

Then today my ballroom instructor posted this on Facebook.

So I guess I'll just Cha-Cha my way into the clinic this weekend. And schedule another appointment with the psychologist.

Friday 13 November 2015

$900FB Pony Blog Hop: Top 5 Horse Show Essentials

1. It's been said, multiple times, but my absolute must have horse show essential is my Stanley trunk. My show stuff lives in it and only requires a quick double check before loading it into the trailer.

2. Back on Track socks and ankle brace.  Horse shows invariably require tons of walking on less than perfect surfaces. This consistently will lead to me limping and losing mobility in my ankle (it hates anything that isn't completely flat). When I wear the brace and socks I retain way more mobility and have less people stop and ask me if I'm ok, and did I fall off. Actually, all the BoT stuff is essential.  Dee's mesh blanket, no-bows and bell boots must go to every show as well. Gotta help out the old lady body every way we can.

3. Ecolicious Blinded by the White. I've got a pinto with white legs. Enough said.

4. Hanging bucket hooks. I have enough to outfit 3 stalls with 2 water buckets and a feed bucket each. I love them. I will never go back to hanging buckets with twine, bridle hooks or chains.

5. Virkon.  I always spray down every surface in the stall before Dee is put into it. Biosecurity is important folks.

Bonus item! I've worn my Straight Shot Metal Smashing Courage bracelet for every XC course this year. The only stop we had was when the footing was terrible ad we slipped (so it doesn't really count), otherwise we had no XC penalties. It's my good luck charm, especially since my Good JuJu charm fell off of it's hook somewhere on the South Peace XC course.
Good luck charm