Saturday, 29 December 2012

Christmas Holidays

Sorry for being away for so long folks!

Christmas for me means travelling back home across the country (takes about 2 days to get home, plus a delayed plane doesn't help the travelling...).  With all the hooplah that comes with getting ready for the holidays, making sure all the animals (2xcats, dog, and horse) set up for while we're gone, along with making sure everything at home is ready to go (who likes coming home to a dirty house?), things got a bit... hectic.

Also, it was kind of interesting to notice that the last week we were home when we needed time to clean, get the house ready and all that jazz, we had so many different engagements to go to: christmas parties, school hockey game fundraisers, singing lessons (teaching), yoga (taking), and much more.  I was happy to get out to see Koda on a warmer day during the week to give him his Christmas dinner and some grooming.  When I pulled him out of the field, I noticed that his blanket was COVERED in the leftover marks from bites, but NO TEARS!  Not even a loose thread!  I was SO happy to see that my winter blankets are holding up this year.  If you have a herd that is hard on blankets, the top brands are the way to go.  I went through 3 blankets last winter alone before I took the plunge.  Looking at those blankets now and how they can take a beating, I'm not going back.

As some of you may have guessed, I live in a rather secluded area of the country.  To get to an international airport, you have to drive about 8 hours straight.  We usually do this trip in two days so that the second day isn't a huge massive rush to the airport, plus leaves time for some browsing (read tack shop visiting) before we fly out.  Our flight back home was 2.5 hours delayed this time around, making our arrival at some time around 2:30 in the morning the next day.  Thank goodness for incredible parents who always come and pick us up no matter what! 

Stay tuned for more :)

Saturday, 15 December 2012

2012: In Review

Well, this past year has been an interesting one to say the least.  It was the first time for me to go out and buy my own horse with no one else's input.  It was the first time the SO and I had lived in a subarctic area in a hamlet of about 800 people.  

Taking Celtic through a basic grid

January and February was all about the ups and downs of Celtic.  Celtic was just not a fit for me, and as we worked together, we went from some lovely moments to complete meltdowns.  This time was a big learning and realization period, but still wanted to keep working, keep trying, to see what we can do together.  

Second day in his new home!

March and April were some HUGE changes.  In March I finally decided it was time to sell Celtic.  She wasn't interested in doing what I was looking to do, she was too much horse for me, and her mind wasn't where I needed it to be to do what I wanted to do.  She had too much for me to handle, and it was just a bad situation.  In deciding to sell Celtic, I was back on the horse shopping scene.  From a few inside tips from a friendly stranger, I found Shocker (now known as Koda).  I had three rides on him, and he came home with me the next weekend.  We spent a lot of our time just hanging out and getting to know each other.

May and June were a time of Koda and I getting to know each other.  Riding at home, going out on the trails, schooling at the indoor, and doing our first long-ride at Machesis Lake.  During these months, it was becoming even more clear that Koda and I were going to be a good team!  This was also when the SO came out for his annual trail ride.  (Also, surprise!  When we were at Machesis, it was the first time I took a tumble off of Koda when he spooked at a tree stump when we got back from our 4 hr trail ride where he led most of the way... silly pony).   

July and August were an interesting pair of months, including our first real outing into eventing at the Mind's Eye Ranch Horse Trial where Koda really showed how green he really is.  We went home with homework and a plan in place to try and spook Koda in as many ways as possible (this is still on-going training).  We set up the back field as a playground and went to work!  Did some in-hand work over obstacles, then with me in the tack, playing rather conservatively.  This winter and spring we're going to be doing a lot more of what we did during these two months, getting down to business.

September and October were the months where we went to some actual clinics.  The first clinic was a cross-country clinic.  The first day was the worst where our canter transitions were rough.  By the last day we were conquering up- and down-banks (love them!) along with mini cross-country courses.  The second clinic was with Kathy Playdon.  Three things that I got out of it in general are 1.  LEG!!!  2.  Don't be afraid of height, Koda can handle it 3. Work on more advanced flat work/dressage (shoulder in and haunches in at trot).

November and December have been a winding down for the long cold that is winter.  My riding has been tapering off, not because I've wanted to, but more because the weather is making it so.  Thankfully I have some insanely heavy duty winter blankets that can take a beating and keep Koda nice and cozy while it blows -40.  I'm extremely thankful that their paddocks are surrounded by trees that cut down on the blowing snow and wind chill.  

All dressed up for winter

As the new year comes, plans for the future are starting to form.  The omnibus is coming out soon, so will hopefully be able to plan some clinics and shows in the coming season!  Am looking to do some dressage shows (that are only 3.5 hours away, yay!) and doing two or three horse trials, depending where we're at, at Starter or Pre-Entry, perhaps going up to Entry by the fall.  Either way, at the end of the day I am so thankful that I found Koda and get the chance to be his rider.  

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Herd Dynamics

When I went out to visit Koda this weekend, the entire herd was out together and I had the chance to really just sit and watch their herd dynamics.  I know Koda is at the bottom of the herd, so it was interesting to see
how it really worked.  Considering the marks that he gets on his hide, he gets either seriously beaten on, or isn't bothered to move away.  Now that he has his blanket on, there are less marks on him, but more on the blanket.  Thank goodness for high denier blankets!

When he first got here, already showing his lazy side...

While I watched, Cain (the youngest in the herd) was majorly going after Koda.  Ears pinned, teeth bared, but not in that "I'm going to EAT YOU!" way, but more in a playing, irritating little brother way.  Cain would keep snipping, snapping, and bothering him until finally Koda would put up some resistance in the form of barely lifing up his hind feet in a half-hearted kick.  You know when you see the rather roly poly horse try to kick out his hind legs?  That was Koda.. but Koda isn't fat.  It was absolutely HILARIOUS!  There was some minute passage steps with the hind end when he didn't even get his feet off the ground... oh, Koda.  After a bit, he did toss in a few big kicks and the two of them starting sparring and playing around, Koda
more grudgingly than Cain.  They were at it for a good half hour and were still going on when I left!  The blanket was getting a major test in how tough it is.  Luckily, even when Cain got a mouth-full of blanket, there were no rips or tears.  Yet.

During the playing, Mic (head honcho) split them up after a bit when Dandy was starting in on it as well.  Dandy is the sweetest, cuddly horse you'll ever meet, but he can be a grouch in the herd.  Dandy will join in on Cain's games, but much more aggressively.  Mic is a pretty laid back herd boss, only getting into the
mix when absolutely necessary.  JJ is the only mare in the group and is fairly chummy with everyone.  She has been turned out with Koda more so now since she could do with a few groceries as well.  They have become closer which is nice to see.  

So to sum it up, here is our cast of characters:

Koda - new to the herd, at the bottom, reluctant play friend for Cain.

Dandy - Second in command.  Cuddly with people, grouchy with horses.  
Takes his job seriously, self-proclaimed protector of JJ.

Mic - Herd-Boss.  Laid back, will eat with everyone as long as he gets the best bites.

JJ - Only mare in the herd.  Laid back and is friendly with everyone.
(Even the SO!)

Cain - Youngest in the herd, near the bottom.  Loves to irritate Koda.

I love just sitting and watching the horses be horses, learning about their herd dynamics and how they act with each other.  I can't wait until it's warm enough to chillout on the round bales again and just listen to them munching away.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Winter blues and Raffles

This last week and a bit has thrown my area in a complete cold snap of consistently being in the -30s and hitting -40 over several nights.  You know in old cartoons where some of the cars would have square tires?  That was how my car was driving - it was SO cold that my tires were flat on one side while driving down the street.  At that point, you only think about getting from house to car, car to workplace, and back again.  Luckily, Koda was wrapped up cozy in his heavyweight blanket (yay Bucas!) so he was fine, along with 3 round bales for the 6 horses in the paddock to nibble on.  This was the second week of no riding, which is extremely irritating, but what can you do about the weather?

In the meantime, Black Friday deals have been flying left, right, and center.  Since I live in Canada, we don't really have much of that going on, but some stores do offer them.  On thing that was going on from one of my favourite tack stores was a draw for a free bridle.  The way to enter the draw was put up a review of one of their products.  Since I have a few products from them, I put up reviews for each.

Surprisingly, I won the draw!

Now, I never win any raffles or draws, don't think I've ever won any type of prize when it comes to luck.  I was so excited that I may have had a little cheer of joy :)

The company who put on the draw was I got to choose one out of three bridles, and the one I chose was the Wembley Hunter Bridle (yes, I'm not a hunter, but Koda goes in a plain cavesson, and the other bridles were a figure eight or with a flash).

I'm SO EXCITED!!!!!!!

I now may have a bridle or two for sale, will have to go through all of my tack while the weather is still too cold to do anything but curl up under the blankets and watch christmas movies.