Saturday, 29 September 2012

Dressage Ride

Today I got to catch a trailer ride to the community indoor arena, so Koda and I did some dressage work.  I have tried to do some of this schooling at home or on the trails and in the fields, but it's never really quite the same as when you're schooling in an arena.  Our ride went well, we dabbled in some leg yields (great to the left, overbent to the right), lengthen and shorten of stride, and canter transitions (again, better left than right).

In April, getting to know each other

He was trying hard for me today, was very consistent in what he can give right now.  Gave a little lengthening, but I have to be VERY careful I post bigger along with ask for more with leg and not get lazy and expect his stride to cause me to post bigger.  Our canter work was much better than usual, me starting off in a light 3-point seat.  I cannot wait to get him looked at by a chiropractor or massage therapist!  Usually when we canter, I get a bit of a side-winder going on, particularly if I'm sitting.  In the light 3-point seat, he's much happier.  Either way, our canter was much better today than previous rides.

In May, by the dugout.

I'm hoping to get to do more of these dressage schoolings, either at home in the back field and just do it, or at the arena.  We need more of these types of rides to build the right muscles!  I see how our winter is going to be spent...

June, at Machesis Lake - Where to next, mom?

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

New Addition

Sorry I haven't been posting as much as before!  We have been dealing with a possible new addition to the family.  For a while now, I have wanted to adopt a dog from the SPCA.  We live in an area where stray dogs are found all the time, abandoned dogs or dogs that have been picked up and their families cannot pay the fine for a stray dog found around town.  A month ago I discovered the SPCA facebook page in the nearby large town.  On the page there was a gorgeous dog that just screamed "adopt me!  I am adorable!". 

The SO was a bit more reluctant, but after we met with the SPCA at the local community night, we decided to go a bit further and do some research on the dog we were interested in.  From what they could see, he was an abused dog, but knew some things.  He was respectful of the leash, not aggressive, quiet, no growl/bite/bark in him.  We decided to go visit him in person.  He won us over.  Broke my heart to see him cower whenever a new person came up to him, but with his usual handlers, he was absolutely loving.  We took him for a long walk and decided we wanted to see how he did with our current furry family (2 indoor cats).  We were going to take him on foster the next week, but he was scheduled to head to the Edmonton SPCA as he had been up here for too long.  So, we ended up taking him for the weekend to see how he did.  As expected, the cats just ignored or bossed him around.  He was weary of the cats, but respectful.  He got used to us as well, liking me more so than the SO.  I think that was because he was abused by a man before, possibly, we're not sure.

On Monday, I had to head down to another town for training for my job, and the SO wanted both of us home for now with the pup, so he went back to the SPCA, as we had discussed with them before we took him for foster.  I am going to pick him up again on Friday and he will be coming home with us to stay! 

Here is our new addition!

Name:  Shilo (he's shy)
Age: Approximately 2
Breed:  Mix of shepherd, husky, maybe chow-chow.
Size:  Medium/Large

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Friday Night.... with No Lights?!

This past Friday, me and the ladies went for an evening ride to the point.  During the ride, Koda and I did some trot work, working on balance and rhythm along with shortening/lengthening and some lateral work to weave around the other riders.  Gotta love easy-going herd-mates! 

We left the yard quite late as one of the ladies got caught up at her own farm, but we headed out all the same.  Some of the farmers were out working on their fields, and Koda handled that like a champ!  We still have some tender soles in the front feet, so we stick to the grassy shoulder and fields where he's quite comfortable to move out.  I took the helmet came out with me and here are a few short clips of what went on.

Going through the summer fallow

Heading down the road.  The colours were absolutely lovely

Canter through the best footing around! 
Notice our lovely veer towards the group near the end...

The point

At the point, we saw plenty of deer and a combine working late into the night.  When we got home, it was PITCH black.  We didn't think it would be that dark, but of course the days are getting shorter, and the yard lights are both burnt out.  Luckily we have more lights around the yard that needed to be turned on, then we were good to go. 

In other news, a new clinician is coming up for a weekend in October.  She's supposedly an english clinician, and does quite a bit in Pony Club.  I'm interested in doing the clinic, but I'm curious/worried about how she teaches... it will be an interesting time to say the least!  It sounds like the Pony Club volunteers will get to ride for free and that the Pony Club will pay for the clinic (yay, free clinic!).

Monday, 17 September 2012

Helmet Cam!

Tonight, the BO and I went out again to explore.  Our ponies were a little more tired than last night, but still had some pep in their step.  Tonight was the night for wildlife encounters.  We almost got run over by a deer that was flushed out of the brush by the dogs.  While it ran off, it was just springing off the ground constantly, looked hilarious and adorable all at once.  Sadly, I didn't get it on video, but I did get the bear!  It only looks like a black dot on the camera, but it was running along a tree line away from us.  We watched it go as the dogs (of course...) went tearing off after it.  Thankfully, they heeded their owner's calls and curved back to us.

I tried out the helmet cam for the first time tonight, and checking out the videos, I need to tilt it down one so that you can actually see Koda's ears.


Don't mind the chatting, I tend to talk to Koda a lot while I'm riding. 

Sunday, 16 September 2012


So, some of you may have suspected that me and the SO are fairly active people.  We love the outdoors, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, camping, etc. and for the past couple of years, geocaching.  What is geocaching you ask? 

Here's a video that explains it well:

When we go geocaching, we go more for the adventure of finding a new cool place, those hidden gems that are off the beaten path.  Here are some shots of some of my favourites. 

Group geocaching at James River Falls

Out by the coast

Search high and low!

An all-time favourite spot to go

Don't leave any rock unturned

Take a break and enjoy the view :)

Climbing may be required

The joy of the find!

In the Northwest Territories

Yesterday, we introduced our new friends to geocaching up north.  Since it was also Pony Club lesson day at the arena, we decided to cache there, and I would bring Koda and ride along with them.  The trails by the community riding arena are absolutely gorgeous.  No motorized vehicles allowed, and the trails are maintained for cross country skiing in the winter, and hikers, runners, cyclists, and riders during the rest of the year.  They twist and turn through a small valley beside the Boyer and Ponton Rivers. The great thing about this trail system is that you can go for short hikes (20mins) or longer ones (4-5 hours).  You can also camp down along the river, but please pack out your garbage.  There are plenty of hills on these trails, so it's perfect for conditioning work. 

While they were hiking along looking for the geocache, I took Koda further past, trotting and cantering over the fairly steep but short hills.  It was awesome!!!!  Had the stirrups jacked up properly, and we just flew.  I wasn't sure how Koda would handle going down those steep hills (no joke, in some spots is was so steep that the ground was eroding away, no grass), but he handled it well.  We still had some calling out to friends issues, but that calmed down after a bit.  When I had to head up to teach, we cantered and trotted all the way back, walking up the long hill to the mustering area. 

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Back to the Basics

Tonight Koda and I did a slow but intense school at the walk and trot.  We focused on flexibility, listening to the inside leg and respecting the outside aids.  Doing spiralling in and out on the circle at the walk, being very conscious of keeping a consistent bend, softness in contact, and overall general consistency.  Spiralling, leg-yielding, serpentines, reverses, etc.were all done at the walk with me riding without stirrups for about 20 minutes.  When we moved on to trot work, I took my stirrups back (at 2-point position with the stirrups at the correct length).  As we did our trot work, we did some spiralling in, larger circles, continually thinking about balance, softness, and consistency.

Our first couple canter transitions were a bit rough, but they improved and we weren't throwing ourselves into them.  We did a simple exercise of pole, 9ft to cross rail, 9 ft to pole.  Rode it well, I need to find the right amount of softness for Koda.  He's not a point and shoot kind of guy, although he's becoming more confident over fences.  When I'm too tense, he'll pull a rail transferring my tenseness to either a trailing hind end or inverted jump.  If I'm too soft, he will root on landing a bit and take the reins.  Another thing to add to the list of things to work on :)

After riding through the exercise at a trot and canter (better in canter) we went back to our circle exercises at a walk, dropped the irons, and re-affirmed our soft contact, bend, and being on the aids.

We're going to be doing more rides like this, along with going out by ourselves more often while we still have the slightly warmer weather!  The blanket season will be starting soon, Koda is already starting to get fuzzy and some of his war marks have grown in with his almost black winter coat. 

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

South Peace Clinic - Day 3

This day we went straight out to the cross country course.  Koda's feet had started to chip rather badly on the harder ground, plus he was in need of a trim.  The evening before one of the organizer's husbands dropped by and rounded him off.  No more chipping, but the trim was a tad short, making Koda sensitive on the harder ground (so I thought).  We trotted him out in the morning to see how he was. He trotted out fine on the hard packed road, so we continued.  Koda was happy going forward over fences, through the water, etc.  We took it easy in the hard pack areas, and finished off with some pace work on the track. 

This day we FINALLY got all our sh!t together.  Well, more like I got myself together.  We started over some basic fences, and the only one we had a stop at was the coop where I didn't have my leg on properly.  I was so focused on the line, that I completely forgot what was happening below the waist!  Oh, embarassment...

Either way, we did our first coop, bank up, and drop that day along with got to canter along the track (woot!).  It took me a bit to ride him in right to the bank up, but we got it in the end, and he had NO hesitation about the drop, just launched off of it.  Love you Koda!

Enjoy the shots!

Warm-up over the log fence with an immediate down slope.

Our first mini 'course'
Over the log then through the water

Over the coop, then roll back to the water

Back through the water to the log going out

First attempt at the drop, no problem!

After schooling the bank, we got it figured out.

Canter around the track?  Don't mind if I do!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

South Peace Clinic, Day 2 - Part 2

Here is the second part of day 2 of the clinic.  This is the first time Koda has ever schooled a real cross country course, it was an interesting day!  I was having trouble keeping all the body parts together, and the clinician kept saying to keep my shoulders back to the point where I was almost vertical over fences...

Anyways, here you go!  Day 2, part 2:  Koda schools cross country

Warm-up log

Through the water, big trot!

We were becoming pros at logs...

More logs, slightly better position, still getting ahead though.
Love Koda's expression in this one though!

One of two awkward/frustrating moments of the day.

That's better!  (stop getting ahead of your horse...)

This log we actually jumped well and cantered off to another one

To help remedy my tendency to get ahead and have my legs swing out, tonight during our hack with the BO, whenever we trotted, I was up in a light three-point/half seat, focusing on really sinking my weight into my heels but keeping them soft.  We actually went for a fairly decent hack, trotting at least 1.5 miles total, and for one stretch we went for a mile playing a bit of leap frog rating our horses back and forth beside each other.  

Thursday, 6 September 2012

South Peace Clinic, Day 2 - Part 1

Instead of writing about what we did for our warm-up for the second day of the clinic, I'll let the photos (and captions) tell the story :)
We stayed in the arena and did some rating, transitions within stride at the trot and canter, then popped over a few jumps.  This is still while Koda and I were trying to get back into the groove of everything, along with doing all of these new things.  Most likely not the best timing for either of us, but c'est la vie!

Warming up, looking snazzy with our new breastplate!  Thank you Five Star for the sale

Staying off his back for the first few canter transitions

Our right lead needs a big of work...

What is going on with my legs... oye

Ummm... legs?!?!

Progression through the jump
Love the evenness of his knees here. 
My position, not so much.


Does anyone know of any good exercises the help me keep my legs where they need to be?! 

Sunday, 2 September 2012

In a Blink of The Eye

I got some pretty bad news today about a friend of mine.  This past week her mare was going sick, but nothing too serious.  We were planning to go back to Machesis today.  I had texted the BO to see when we were heading out and she told me this morning that the trip was cancelled because our friend had lost her mare. 

It's a huge reminder of how fast things can change, not only with our equine partners, but in life in general.  I lost my first horse 10 months ago and it was completely out of the blue.  These moments change how we think and feel about so many different aspects of life.  I know with my own situation, I was a wreck for weeks, and the smallest thing can still bring me to tears. 

Dillon and I after a show July 2011

As one of the biggest TB blogs out there always closes with, be sure to hug your horses.  But, I'm going to add to that today.  Be sure to hug your horses since you don't know how long you'll have them for. 

You were an incredible mare and will be missed terribly.  We know you're in that great field of green pastures and I'm sure your partner cannot wait to see you again.

South Peace Eventing Clinic, Day 1

So this past week Koda and I travelled down to Grande Prairie for an eventing clinic.  Of course I jumped at the chance to get some instruction, let alone it be in eventing, so the cheque was written and off we went! 

We are lucky enough to know some people that are at about the half-way mark between here and Grande Prairie, so we could lay over there and make the haul a bit less taxing on Koda and me.  We arrived at the clinic with about an hour to get tacked up and ready.  I met up with friends that I was staying with, and away we went!  Within the first few minutes of the lesson, I knew this was going to be an interesting week since the clinician immediately started putting us through our paces, and teaching as if she was teaching young kids instead of adults.  Don't get me wrong, the exercises we were doing were good, but she was the type of coach that would say "good job" or "nice ride" without any feedback at most points, or would repeat the same tip for each rider over and over again. 

There were a lot of firsts for Koda on day 1, canter poles, longer grid work, and our first oxer.  The grid was a bit much for him, I think he was a bit overwhelmed with the placing poles and jumps in the grid, but we conquered it and never had a stop at any of the single fences.  Was very proud of my boy after a rough start to the lesson.  After this first day I discovered that Koda does need an extensive warm-up and the first few canter transitions should be done in a light half-seat.  I'm hoping to get him to a chiropractor or massage therapist to take a look at his back to see if something is making him cold-backed.  I'm also looking at maybe getting a back on track blanket or quarter sheet, but will have to do more research before taking the plunge.

I'll be getting some photos later on, but not until Days 2, and 3.

Happy September Everyone!