Saturday, 28 February 2015

We're Back!

Sorry about the lack of posts, we went into a major freeze up here (darn winter), but it's looking like things are getting back into the groove!  Koda is starting to shed out, the roads are passable, the sun is shining, it's time to dust off the tack and get back in the saddle!

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Memorial Ride

As the snow comes in and everything is quietly going to sleep for the long cold of winter, Koda and I hit the point road for an easy trail.  Now, Koda has had a few days off, and with the changing temperatures he can get to be a bit feisty, but nevertheless I wanted to go out on this solo ride.  We headed out down the road.  
The Point Field Road
It was an alright ride even though Koda was being a bit of a pig, tossing his head about, trying to circle back home, etc.  He wasn't too nasty, but very consistently trying to get back home.  Bad thing on my part is that I wasn't in my usual riding gear, so I didn't have any extra oomph to get him to quit and continue forward.  Not the most relaxing of ride, but got through and have a way forward to change this attitude he sometimes gets.  

The bribe to ride out nicely :)
When we got back to the yard, to give a bit of a training moment, I decided we were going to halt and stand in the middle of the yard until Koda relaxed and accepted my choice.  It took a while, with plenty of head tossing, pawing, fidgeting, and face making, but he finally did chill out with me petting him and remaining relaxed.
Impatient face
Just not impressed...
Frosty sunset
For the rest of the winter, the plan is to do these types of rides to get him to listen outside of the ring along with inside the ring.

Sneaking treats from the trailer

Friday, 31 October 2014

October's 10 Questions

1.  How many pairs of breeches/jods do you own?  I've actually been expanding my collection of breeches to have a few more varieties.  I have 4 schooling pairs, 2 fleece-lined, and now 3 show pairs whereas before I only had 1.

2.  How many horses have you ridden?  I started riding at camps and lesson barns, so I've ridden a ton of different horses in all shapes and sizes.  On top of that, I worked as the equestrian director at a summer camp for a few years and rode every single horse in the program for tune ups, test rides, and more throughout the summer.  The main horses that gave me my riding education would be November, Corky, Frosty, Cotton, and Cherokee from the first lesson barn I rode at, Max, Thor, and Laddie from the camp, and Dillon, Celtic, and Koda as my own.
Max and I on a morning ride before campers arrived
Playing around with Thor

3.  How many trainers have you had?  I've never really had trainers, but did the lesson thing with coaches and clinicians.  For sake of this post, I'll say I've had 5 coaches.

Esther teaching about equine first aid... love the expressions!
4.  How many barns have you ridden at? Three: first lesson barn I rode at, the barn I rode out of while at university (and where I found Dillon), and the barn before I moved to Alberta.

5.  What is the name of the horse you consider yourself to have the greatest bond?  Koda.  Dillon is up there, but Koda is the horse that I'm really getting to understand and actually know.

6.  What is your favourite show name you've ever encountered?  Gryffindor.

7.  What do you consider your greatest weakness or flaw in riding?  My lack of patience sometimes.  I've worked on it quite a bit, but I will sometimes get so wrapped up in what I'm asking and end up asking wrong (wires crossed) and it builds to be a disaster.

8.  What do you consider to be your greatest strength?  Coach-ability.  When I go to clinics and lessons, I'm going for a reason so I tend to be able to absorb and retain things I'm taught very quickly, especially when I can see or feel the result of that new technique/riding skill I'm being taught.

2014 Clinic down at Alhambra
9.  Have you ever leased a horse?  Yup!  I've leased two, a large welsh-arab cross pony named Cotton Blossom (cotton for short), and Dillon before I bought him.

10.  What is the name of the first horse you rode?  The name of the first horse I rode, excluding pony rides, is Apache.  He was an elderly pinto pony who had taken many first riders through their first riders.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Fall Fires and Winterizing

It's that time of year again where we start getting prepared for the long haul of winter.  We've been lucky in the fact that we haven't had snow just yet, but it's coming!  We've had a few little flurries, but nothing has stuck.

After the shows and clinics I've done this past year, my trailer has slowly but surely collected almost all of my tack and equestrian paraphernalia.  Add in the mud, the transporting of hay in the trailer because last haul we had a ton of snow/hail/rain coming down on us, and things were being tossed about since they weren't in their proper spot... yeah, it was an absolute mess.  Trying to find anything in there was almost impossible!

The black hole of tack and equipment
Also during this time, I have to pull out all of my leather tack since there's no heated tack room at the farm.  During the winter my tack lives in certain little nooks and crannies in the house away from kitten claws and puppy paws.  Everytime I ride this winter, I haul my tack out from the house in strategic bags and carriers.  All lotions, potions, and liquids are out of there as well.  Last year I forgot a bottle of fly spray in there and didn't find it until spring.  After it had melted.

Life is tough for kittens... so tough
Another thing that happens during the fall and early winter up here is the annual burning.  To clear more farm land, the farmers will make rows of log rubble and trees to burn so that the land is useable for the next growing season.  It's a bit spooky when you're driving home or even in town since this year the wind blew the smoke all over town.  Especially around Hallowe'en, the town had a very atmospheric feel about it with smoke and fog everywhere from the fires.
Smoke from afar
Up close and burning

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Late Thanksgiving Post

Last Thanksgiving (Canadian here!), I went on a baking and sweet making spree, making some desserts for our family away from family Thanksgiving meal, and made some tasty treats for Koda as well.  Now, I'm not a big baker or sweet maker, so it was fun to work with some new ingredients!

The reason why I wanted to try making my own horse treats is while we were at the Fall Finale, I gave Koda some stub muffin type treats.  You know, the ones that are essentially oats and goodness all slathered in sticky molasses that makes them soft and chewy.  Ever since tasting these supposed amazing things, he turns his nose up at every. other. cookie.
My horse is now a "foodie" of the cookie world.

By the way, molasses?  Smells disgusting.  Looks disgusting.  Mixing it with anything?  Oh goodness...
Carrot Crunch
Molasses Squares
After making the human treats, I pulled out google and found some easy to make horse treat recipes that didn't have a lot of filler.  I wasn't too sure of feeding flour to my horse, but then again I'm sure it's found in some horse cookies so it can't be that horrible.

I tried two different recipes, one called a carrot crunch and another more gooey.  It didn't have a name, so let's call 'em molasses squares.  Overall, the molasses squares were easier to make since it had the least amount of ingredients, making it easier to mix the molasses (damn molasses) evenly through the mixture.  I think the problem with the carrot crunch, it should have been baked longer and mixed better so that it was a bit more even and... crunchy!  Instead of lumpy.  The molasses squares came out a LOT better, much better mix and easier to handle.  Add the crushed candy cane on top?  Delish!
Looks tasty

Gone in the blink of an eye!

Koda approves :)

Monday, 6 October 2014

Fairview Fall Finale

This past weekend Koda and I ventured into the world of horse shows and went to a new show in the north, the Fairview Fall Finale.  This is a two day show with the first day being all dressage and the second consisting of flat classes in the morning and hunter/jumper classes in the afternoon.  Due to the travel time, I only did the dressage day and the flat classes since I wanted to get home at a decent hour.  I signed up for Training Test 1 Open along with Open Pleasure, Open Equitation, and Open Show Hack.  

Training Test 1

The first day was a bit crazy as I'd forgotten how long it took to braid and was starting to panic!  Luckily I met a couple of super friendly girls that gave me a hand in that regard and the braid came out half decent.  Sadly, with the braid panic, it ate into my warm-up time and I ended up only having about 5-10 minutes of warm up whereas I really wanted 20.  I had ridden the night before in the arena, so Koda wasn't too looky or spooky plus the dressage ring wasn't dressed up with a ton of flowers or anything, so it was a pretty steady test.  During the test I was consistently thinking "relax, legs on, allow with hands", like a mantra.  The second half of the test felt a ton better than the first, which I think is mostly due to me getting into the groove of riding and Koda responding to the me digging in.  

Once I had finished, I didn't have anything else for that day until the evening, so the hubs and I went into town to run some errands.  When we got back, I picked up my test and surprise surprise, Koda and I got second place, with a 7 for rider position and another 7 for harmony between horse and rider!  All of those clinics this past year are paying off, woot!!!!

He looks so cute here
The next day was a lot more relaxed as I had braided the night before and was determined not to be caught with that time crunch again.  I had plenty of time for warm up and we went in for our first class.  It was a pretty big one (nine horses!) and it was making me a tad anxious.  Koda and I don't have our walk-canter transitions confirmed, so those were a struggle in these classes.  I kept getting tense and pushing too hard for the transition whenever we had to canter, causing Koda to pick up the wrong lead.  Bad rider moment.  

Attitude in the tail flip

Square halt, love it
In the equitation class, I was SO thankful we used to do these types of classes at my old lesson barn in Ontario where you had to ride a pattern specific with cones.  The pattern was sit trot from cone A to cone B (think X), rising trot circle to the right (back to X) rising trot circle to the left (back to X) canter right lead to cone C, halt at cone C.  For those who don't ride equitation, you MUST ride on the proper side of the cones or else you are eliminated.  In this show, they didn't eliminate people, but it was explained at the end of the class.  I didn't get the right lead canter off the left circle (darn), but surprise surprise again, since I was on the proper side of the cones and had equal sided circles, we got another second place!  Plus we did have a kick arse canter-walk transition right in front of the judge before line up which never hurts either ;)  


Show Hack
The last class was a tough one, another big one with nine horses in it.  For some reason I was expecting this class to be like a Road Hack class... HA!  For those who show hunters, you know this isn't true.  The show hack class is more for those horses who can give HUGE changes in gait, collected trot, extended trot, collected canter, extended canter.  Now, we all know Koda doesn't really have an extended trot, but we gave it our all.  It was a fun class to ride, but was very tough.  I was so proud of my boy, he gave me everything he could in that class.  Next time out, we may try and aim for the road hack (if it's offered) instead.

 All in all, I had a great weekend and learned some more about Koda and I!  We aren't as "out to lunch" as I thought, and do stack up to others out there.  We CAN do it and do it well, just need to keep on polishing and perfecting those issues and we'll continue to improve.

Such a handsome man

Friday, 3 October 2014

Playing on the Farm (Media Dump!)

As the frost, ice, and snow is slowly creeping in (we've already had snow one day!), every day of sunshine is being taken advantage of!  After a ride this week, JJ (the only mare in the herd) was taken out to get her hooves done, along with Cain and Duster.  Whenever JJ leaves the herd, the boys get riled up!  It's really fun to watch their dramatic herd dynamics.  Mic and Dandy were running about while I cooled Koda out.  Once I tossed him out with them, he wasn't really feeling the drama... but he wasn't given a choice.

Mic decided he must get in on the act, and then the running began!  

Mic and Dandy
Such a graceful creature... 
Fall colours
Watch out for flying gloves ;)