Friday, December 31, 2010

Lesson and update on Bailey

Well, I have good and bad news to report , so I think I'll start with the bad.  Bailey's going to be off for another month.  He's doing a lot better, but Bailey's Mom really wants him to make a full recovery, so we're going to err on the side of caution.  I suppose that's not necessarily bad news, but more disappointing. 
On the plus side, Bailey's Mom and her husband are going to be having a baby this spring!  So Bailey's going to have a sibling to share his Momma with ;)

Also in the good news category, I had a lesson on my coaches horse today.  It was more of a learn how to train young horses lesson, and for me a learn how to use draw reins properly lesson.  I tend to shy away from draw reins, as I've seen them misused so many times.  However, when riding a young green horse they can be really helpful.  Z was fantastic!  She's going to be a great dressage horse, and I was honoured to be able to ride her.  Needless to say, I was also a little nervous.  This wasn't helped when my coach informed me that I was one of the first people, aside from herself, to ride her.  Z kept looking into the middle at my coach as if to say
"Why aren't you on my back?  What's she doing up there?"
It was a ton of fun, and I guess I did alright, since I've been invited back to ride her once a week while Bales is off.  I wish I'd gotten some pics, but no such luck.  Anyhow, happy new year everyone!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Back To Work... Sort Of

Today Arty and I made the five minute trek up the road with crazy OTTB mare (who in general, wasn't very crazy) to go ride in a neighbour's field.  They also own the big field we were hacking in yesterday, which is when we found this little one.  Its intended usage is as a storage place for one of their wagons, but it can serve as a make shift riding arena when desperate.  Our current real outdoor sand ring isn't good for anything more than walking right now, so I was more than pleased to find this little... gem isn't quite the right word.  I asked Santa for an indoor arena for Christmas, but I'm afraid he didn't listen ;)  Unfortunately our makeshift grass ring isn't quite good enough to allow more than maybe five pony canter strides, but that's okay.  As this was the first time said pony had cantered in maybe a month/month and a half, I think that was all he could handle at a time.  Even with limited canter it still went something like this:
"Arty, do you want to canter"
"Do you really have to ask?" 
"Arty,Canter not gallop..."
"There's a difference?"
Arty finally trots
"Pony, you are not a standardbred."
"tehehe, that's what you think!"
He then proceeded to get a little crazed and rushy.  This was disappointing, as he'd been so calm up untill this point.  We did some trot-halt-trot work with maybe two strides of slow western jog instead of trot and then gradually worked our way up to a proper trot.  By the end of this, we managed to get three trot-halts with only three half halts to get there!  I was so impressed.
Unfortunately, the lack of canterable space afforded us little time to work on framing in the canter, which is frustrating as that's where he needs it the most.  Ah well. All's well that ends well!
 Crazy OTTB Mare
 Cute Fuzzy Pony

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

At Last

I finally got out to the barn today.  With all of the visiting and such that goes on in the holiday season, my riding has been seriously limited.  Unfortunately, so has my blogging.  I`m sorry, I definitely win bad blogger award!  Anyhow, Bailey`s off until the 30th (Tomorrow!) at earliest.  The vet will be back out to reassess him, and we`ll go from there and see.  Arty`s been off due to the fact that the outdoor arena is more of a skating rink than a riding arena, and trail riding requires at least two and a half hours at the barn and unfortunately I don`t always have that.  So to simplify, I rode for the first time in probably almost two weeks today.  It`s also been about a month since arty`s been ridden in anything but a hackamore.  There goes all of our hard bit work!  Bye bye contact.  On the plus side, I think I may have found somewhere where I can get a little flat work in our bit done tomorrow.  Wish me luck!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Poor Bales

So when I went for my ride on Wednesday, Bailey was very heavy on his forehand, an threw a NASTY buck when we cantered.... hmmm.  Very un-Bailey like.  Bailey's owner had her lesson the next day, and after reading my little note about this to her, she had our coach look at him, and it turns out he had a really ouchy spot on his back that the both of us had missed.  Poor boy!  Bailey's mom thinks he slipped in the field or something and pulled it.  Oh the joys of Canadian winters.

Speaking of the joys of Canadian winters, Arty and I went out on a trail ride with Cara the ex-racehorse who doesn't realize she's an ex-racehorse and her... (in cara's opinion, failure of a jockey) Megan.  Megan's goal in life is to have a mare calm enough to do some local jumper and dressage shows.  Cara's goal in life is to teach Megan how to be a better jockey.  Cara is the epitome of a raehorse.  She goes for a run ever morning and night when put out with the herd, she watches her weight (much to Megan's chagrin) and only hangs with the two other TB's.   She's been off the track for almost 8 years, but it doesn't show.  Thankfully, Cara and Arty have, after many painful, frightening, stressful, and unenjoyable trail rides, become the best trail-buddies anyone could ask for.  We can walk on a relatively loose rein with their heads down lower than their withers!  This was unthinkable even for arena riding not too long ago, and especially on the trails, and recently the two of them have gotten good enough that we can trot one behind the other for a little (like 5 strides) and then come back to walk without spending 20 minutes yanking, sobbing, and throwing temper tantrums.  Arty even let Cara lead for a bit without bolting to the front.  Good thing to, because my fingers, legs, and half my face had lost sensation.  Oh how I hate winter.  I've never had so much of my face go numb.  It feels like going to the dentist.  Yeulch!
Probably my favourite Cara picture.  Everything is just so... Cara-esque

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lateral Work

One of the things I've really been trying to work on with Bailey is his lateral work.  When I first started riding him, his experience with lateral movements was limited, and not too pretty.  He was resistant, rushy, and constantly bulging through his shoulders.  Recently, I started placing a little more priority on it.  I'd worked through a lot of his bigger, more basic (like getting him into a deeper, better balanced frame, and not having hissy-fits when I picked up some contact) and we are still slaving away at our canter-trots, so I wanted something slightly less difficult and muscle-using (ouch, core muscles!) so we began focusing on his lateral work.  He's gotten a lot better; Last Wednesday, he was being a real arse, so I picked up a dressage whip and boom, I got a different horse! A really forward and rushy horse!  We worked through it, and we got some AWESOME leg yields at both the walk, and even at the trot!  More lateral work @ the trot tonight.  Yay!  I'd like to post some videos from like a month or so ago and then some from tonight (if all goes well) so that I can do a leg yield comparison.  We'll see.  Currently I can't find my camera charger, so...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Oh the Weather Outside Is Frightful

August 2010
Oh the Weather Outside Is Frightful, but the barn is so delightful.  I braved the toe-eating cold tonight to head out and enjoy the fresh snow with my fuzzy polar bear of a pony.  Arty was amazing, and I think I was especially aware of this as I'd spent the afternoon thinking about how far we'd come.  I was remembering the mad dashes of pacer-ish trot (and walk, and canter) that I endured for the sake of letting off of his face for a stride or two, so that he would learn to listen to half-halts.  Barely more than a year ago I bragged to a friend of mine who'd come out to see him that we could now stay in a brisk, but not insane trot with a half halt every 2-5 strides!  Today, Arty was trotting slowly/calmly around like a schooling pony on a loose rein, neck level with his back, turning off of my leg, in a bit.  Admittedly this is pretty good for Arty, especially when he's had a week off, but its still amazing how much can happen in a year.
August 2011
When we're finally tacked up right
How I hate going out in the cold
But if I hold on really tight
My fingers atleast can stay warm

Friday, December 10, 2010


Alright, so the reason I was out looking at barns was primarily just to get an idea of what's in the area.  What provoked this was a mare that my coach would really like me to look at.  The mare, Cadence (not sure about spelling), is beyond gorgeous.  She's a 16h light bay TB x (Trakehner, I think) and man can she jump!  Her owner showed me a video of her free jumping a 3' ish oxer, and while she jumps around 4' in her front end, her back end's hitting 6'!  Her owner did mention that her jump isn't that big when you're on her. Thank god! Absolutely gorgeous mare, but my (and my coach's) main concern is would she be big enough.  Anyhow, she's a ways away, but I'd like to get out and see her over the Christmas holidays.  The only other concern I have, is what would happen to Arty?  If buying a horse would mean I couldn't ride/see/spoil him any more, then I don't think I could commit to that.  Maybe I'm being selfish, but I honestly don't think I could live without my pony.  He's my rock, my heart, and my soul.  However, I think we could learn to share...

Sick :(

So I've had the joy of spending the past two days with the flu.  Oh how I love flu season.  All in all, I managed to only miss 1 day of classes instead of two.  I made it to my morning classes yesterday, and my afternoon classes today.  Unfortunately, I haven't made it to the barn.  I've decided that tomorrow, I'm going out to see Arty if it kills me.  I haven't seen him all week, and I need to see how his feet are healing.  My coach is away on vacation, so I didn't pick a bad week to be sick.  She'll be back Sunday, so I'll be able to have another lesson next weekend.  Something to look foreword to once I'm not confined to a bed.
Just as a note:  I love this picture, because Arty looks so happy.  He truly loves to jump.  Anyhow, this picture taught me something really important.  A friend of mine commented on my position, and how I was in front of the saddle when I jumped.  I looked closer, and while my position wasn't perfect my alignment was correct.  I was stumped, so I asked another person for their opinion.  They pointed out that Arty's saddle was slipping back (notice how it curves).  Her suggestion was to get a breastplate, and since then the problem has been solved!  The power of a second opinion (and a more experienced eye)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


It was c-c-c-c-c-c-cold! today.  (ha ha, I wonder if anybody will get that joke.  Hope I have the right number of C's...) Despite that, Bailey and I braved the -11 to -13 degree temperatures ( 12 to 8 degrees farenheight) along with the only other rider who was brave enough to come out.  I tell ya, as much as I don't like heated barns and arenas for the horses' sakes, I sure as heck wouldn't have complained today.  None the less, we forged onwards and had a great ride!  Our lateral work is improving a lot.  I'll have to do a video comparison some time... and his canter-trot transitions were better.  Yay for improvement!  When I got home, I was randomly inspired to make a bit warmer.  I found the perfect material, and sewed up a really nifty little one that works super well!  It stays hot for 15 minutes, which is way more than I need.  Pretty cool for something made out of the minimal supply of things I had in my kitchen cupbord.  I also added cloves for scent.  I'll post a pic of that as well, once I find my camera charger so my camera will stop being so dead.  In regards to the barn search yesterday, my mom and I visited three different barns.  She didn't like the 1st, didn't see the second, and preffreed the 3rd over the 1st.  I liked the 2nd the best, except for the fact that they have tiny fields.  Oh, and they're also full.  Anyhow, I didn't mind the 1st, but I didn't like the 3rd.  We'll have to re-visit them.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Insomnia and Stupid Evil Farriers!

So unfortunately for me, I haven't been able to get to sleep till around 12:00 each night (or should I say morning), and when I do I wake up every hour or so.  Life sucks.  By the time I actually do get to sleep for more than 45 minutes, my 5:55 alarm clock wakes me up.  It proceeds to promptly be turned off and reset for 7:07.  Yes, I'm OCD about those things ;)  However, I don't think Arty minds too much.  Stupid-evil-ferrier-who-doesn't-know-how-to-do-barefoot-horses-and-only-does-standardbreds-with-shoes trimmed Arty's feet WAY too short again.  Like frog-on-the-ground way too short.  I suppose its time to invest in a better ferrier.  More expenses on me!  I practically pay this pony's board.  Oh, the price of love.  We're going to look @ a boarding barn, 12 (google maps ETA) minutes away from my house.  I'll report back, and explain why we're looking later.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Fuzzy ponies who like masquerading as paints.

Hi!  Got any mints?
Look at how Fuzzy I am.  Good for burying cold hands in.
 And I'm a Paint!  Aren't you proud?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Jumping Lesson

So Bailey and I had our first jumping lesson in a long time yesterday.  It was a lot of fun, but we both need some work.  After warming up, a 3' oxer was set up on one side, and a 2'6 (i don't know about that one...) vertical on the other.  We started off to the left... and failed.  Bailey's max height is about 3', so I think we had this unanimous unspoken agreement that if one of us did something wrong, the other would jump well and vice versa.  Anyhow, we switched to the right withthe intention of just leaving the oxer, and ending on a good note, when he found some long lost energy store.  Thankfully our best jump of the day (over the oxer) was caught on video!  Yikes... my position needs some work.  To my credit, it was the first time I'd jumped in well over a month and a half.  Plus, I was concentrating mostly on actually getting Bales over.  Ah well, it was fun!

Friday, December 3, 2010


I'm incredibly sore tonight, and its only going to get worse.  On Thursday night, I had yoga.  I'd missed the past 2 classes, and apparently it had been agreed upon that we'd have a medium-spicy session on Thursday.  I'm generally the person that asks to do a mild session.... so by the end of it my core was killing me!  The area right below where your ribs meet (I think its the end of the sternum...) was on fire.  However, I did get a bit of a kick out of the session, because the yoga teacher kept saying 'just one more!' when everyone was dying, and that's something my coach is renowned for.  I got another full dose of 'just one more's tonight.  Bailey was really resistant and stiff to the right.  Totally supple to the left, but we worked through it.  We also practiced training test 1.  I hate how something so simple to read can be so hard to exact!  well... i suppose its easy enough to do, its just hard to do well.  Mehh, evil dressage people.  Give me a break, higher dressage powers!  Actually, that's exactly what's about to happen as tomorrow's our long awaited jumping lesson (I hope).  I swear I'll get on those videos... eventually.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

An Eventful Night

So last night I was heading out to the barn late, with my mother in tow.  Actually, she was driving.  Unfortunately.  She missed the turn off to the barn, and spent 45 minutes lost, and trying to find our way back to the barn.  Add that to the normal 30 minutes it takes to get there.  Anyhow, we finally made it... very late... so I tacked up quickly for a short ride.  It was around 9:15 when I got on, so we decided to just have some fun with the time we had left.  We did our usual routine to start off with, and just after we`d finished cantering to the right, the lights in the arena went out!  Bales got scared, but let me dismount and head over to the light switch to turn it off. (the lights were off, the switch was still on)  I hand walked him around the  arena, trying the light switch after every lap and finally, 15 minutes later, there was light!  Yay!  I have some vids to post, but currently they`re all around 4 minutes.... so I think I`ll edit them first!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lack of Lessons

So I've just enjoyed a nice long five day thanksgiving holiday, and now have the joy of writing a lit. essay for English tomorrow, and completing an art project. Oh well, I suppose I should get to the point instead of complaining about my school work.  But hh how i do love complaining!  Gahh... ON TOPIC!  I can see tonight's going to go very well!  To bet at 1:00, and up at 6:00 to go freeze my... arse... off in a snow-and-ice covered arena.  At least the field won't have any mud puddles.  So my last lesson had to be canceled, as my coach couldn't make it (*sniff*) so I put Bailey and myself to work, in hopes of getting some good canter-trot transitions out of him.  He was..... terrible.  To be totally honest, he was a royal pain to work with, and our transitions were terrible!  My biggest worry was simply getting him into a nice, calm canter while keeping his frame!  This was really frustrating, as this isn't something  we normally have to work a  lot on... but it was just one of those days.  We did, eventually, get some good transitions, and on the plus side his leg yields have improved in the walk.  He fall apart big time in the trot, but that was to be expected.  I should note that Bailey does deserve some credit.  Two ponies trailered in from down the road, so Bales had to share the arena... something we never do, let alone with horses he doesn't know.  That doesn't mean he's off the hook.....

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Good Morning

I just wanted to share this picture I took when riding yesterday morning.  Its not a fantastic picture by any means, I just really like the background.  You can tell the sun is just about to come up, as you can see the clouds lightening, and a tinge of pink breaking through, but it still has that dark and stormy feeling to it.  Plus, as it was taken from the back of my pony, you get a view of a wind-swept mane, and fuzzy white ears.  So, while I missed my early morning trail ride on Sunday, we made up for it yesterday.

On a completely different train of thought, Bailey and I have our first jumping lesson in our whip Katie's position into shape series.  I'm excited, as we have only jumped once or twice before, since Lynda has been spending the past few months perfecting my seat and how I use it, but I must admit I am not looking forward to how sore I'll be tomorrow!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Too Bad, So Sad

 Today being Sunday, provided a superb opportunity to do one of my favourite things in the whole wide world: go for an early morning trail ride.  I love taking arty out on the trails, especially on a nice crisp morning before school.  Its so refreshing, and it puts a positive spin on my whole day.  Today I had to be out of the house by 9, so if I was up at 6:30, at the barn by 6:45, I could ride from 7:10-8:00, and be home by 8:30 then shower, change, and be out by 9.  Sounds like a plan, right?  Well, unfortunately things have a nasty tendency of not turning out the way you want them to.  Yesterday evening, I'd made sure to set my alarm and double check it.  So this morning when I woke up to the music playing out of my alarm clock, I was rather displeased to find that it was 8:50.  There goes my morning ride, and my shower!  The pics are from trail rides in '09

Saturday, November 20, 2010


As of late, I've been inspired to start blogging thanks to the many other equine bloggers out there.  I'm not 100% sure what this blog will chronicle yet... so I make no promises.  I suppose the best way to tell the future is by looking at the past, so here's mine: (at least the riding part of it)
Some summer long ago:  I found an all round sort of camp with horses, and dragged my younger brother to it for a week of.... fun doesn't seem to be the right word.  The only part I liked was the horse part, and that was substandard to say the least.  There were two horses, and two bike helmets.  Each person would take a turn, and some time around the Thursday of that week, they asked us if we wanted to trot.  Without an answer, they said it would be bumpy; hold on, so hold on I did.  They were right, it was bumpy, but I loved it.
Spring 2006: For some random reason, my dear old self got tired of dreaming and decided to take some action.  I'd always been interested in horses, but had never really ridden.  I suppose I just couldn't stand it any longer, for after doing as much research as a kid my age could (I would have been 11 or 12) I found a barn I liked the looks of.  After much discussion with my parents, a couple weeks later we drove out there and I was in love!  I was so impressed with the girls trotting around on their clean pretty looking ponies, and I instantly knew I wanted to be one of them.  My parents agreed to let me go to the barn's summer camp, and promised that if I liked it, I could have some lessons.
August 2006:  The week before school started up, I got to go to riding camp for a week. I think my parents must have had a momentary lapse of rational thought when they told me I could have lessons if I enjoyed riding camp.  I'd known from the second I set foot in the barn that I wanted to have lessons, I wanted to be able to trot and post up and down (not that I knew what it was called) like the girls I'd seen in their lessons, and I wanted it bad.  I hated being stuck with a leader, and walking/trotting around like a kid at a pony ride.  Patience may be a virtue, but that didn't mean I had to put it into practice!  After the week of summer camp was over (as to be predicted) I wanted lessons.
End of Oct 2006:  I started english riding lessons!  Yay!  I really enjoyed it, and was practically in love with my coach, Jocelyn.  She was strict, and made you work.  I put as much effort as I could into my riding, and I think it payed off.  I loved the feeling of improving, getting something right, and riding all of the different horses; I also especially loved getting to develop a relationship with a horse, learning to read their body language, and spending every waking hour of the day thinking/ dreaming about them.  Attention: I'd officially been bitten by the horse bug.
February 2007:  Sad times.  I had to stop riding as my Mom and Dad were going to work in Australia for 6 weeks, stop by New Zealand, India, and Egypt, before heading up to the arctic to work out the remainder of their 5 months sabbatical, and I was going with them.  There aren't many horses in the arctic.... none to be exact.
September 2007:  My old coach had left the barn *sniff* so I was in with a new coach, Rebecca.  My riding lessons continued, and at some point in my sporadic riding while we were traveling, I'd 'learmt' how to jump.  Everyone else was jumping, so I was told "its easy, just go into two point." so I did.  That's where my my jumping issues started.  Throughout the year, I entered into my first show (in barn flat) fall off for the first time (and second time) did my first one stride, first vertical, first cantered jump, and first oxer.
September 2008:  In 2008, through some bribing and good marks, my parents agreed to letting me do twice a week lessons.  I learned a lot, but this post is rather long so we'll get on to the summer.
Spring 2009: I was now finishing middle school, and preparing to head into high school.  My school housed kids from age 3 to grade 12, and I'd been there right from the start.  However, my parents weren't satisfied with the academic standards of my school; they wanted me to go to a different high school, and I was torn.  While I was really interested in switching schools, I didn't want to leave my friends, and the intensely tightly woven community of my old school.  However, as I'm sure all you parents out there know, when in doubt, bribe!  They agreed to let me part board a horse, if I switched schools.  I, being me (naturally), gladly took the bait, and took the leap.  I spent may-june looking for the perfect horse, and just when I was loosing hope, I found him.
July 2009: In July 2009, I started to ride Artax aka Arty, a 14.1hh flea-bitten grey arab mix.  The second I got on his back, I knew he was for me.  He was green and energetic beyond belief.  He was an 11y/o trail horse ridden in a hackamore (with a shank) because if you had a bit in his mouth, he tended to grab it in his mouth, stick his nose straight up in the air, and bolt.  Not generally classified as safe, when you're out on the trails.  I was (correctly) told that to keep him in a walk, I'd need to really hold him back, and since he only listened to rein aids, I kept a death grip on his face.  After probably 20 minutes, we started to trot.  I loosened my reins by a 1/4cm, and off he went into a paso fino-esque trot.  We went around and around the arena, attempting serpentines and circles, and sort of failing miserably since it was the first time he'd been ridden in the arena for... four years?  Five? But I came away from that ride happier than I had any ride before.  I was in love, and it was with an exceptionally green eleven year old pony, who was barely sane enough to keep me on his back.  I worked on keeping him calm, teaching him half halts, and eventually starting him over fences.  half way through September, we entered in a little local show's 18 inch division, and came away with a 6th place ribbon!  Not bad for three weeks of jumping.  It both Arty and my first real show, so we were exceptionally pleased with ourselves.
  (our first show)
(cantering in august)
(Arty's third or so time jumping, first time cantering fences)
Sept 2009:  I started up lessons at my schooling barn again, but only once a week, as I continued part boarding Arty.
Summer 2010:  I showed Arty in the green horse division at our local hunter saddle club.  I'm not a huge fan of hunter, merely because I don't enjoy it as much as dressage or eventing, but its what was available.  I can happily say that we placed in every class we entered over the summer, but I generally omit the part about the classes not always having more than 6 people, so if you come last, you still place!  I also feel that I should add, I'm now 5'9, and Arty's still 14.1hh; we make an interesting pair.
August 2010:  Arty and I found someone who would change our lives... or at the very least, our riding.  One of my dad's friends recommended a coach, Lynda, who has changed my riding so much I hate looking at pictures of one month ago!  I don't know how much arty likes her.... but his topline sure has improved!
Sept 2010:  For the first time ever, I don't head back to my trusty old schooling barn for lessons.  :'(  However, I do get the chance to start part boarding a horse Lynda recommended for me.  Bailey's a 16.2hh 8y/o TB x Percheron gelding.  I love him dearly, but he ain't my pony!
 (Hmmm.... Straightness?)
 (Ooh, shiny!)
Now that I've bored anybody who has had the courage, patience, and concentration to read all of this to tears, I'm done!  Yay!  Alas, I know what this blog will be about.  My foray into the world of eventing, and all of the trials and tribulations that go along with.  Cheers!