Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas!

From our home to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas and hope that you and your family are all happy, safe, and sound over the holidays :)

Sorry for the old photo (Feb. 2013), didn't get out to take Christmas photos this year!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Christmas Wish List

'Tis the season for gift giving and making that (very late) wish list!

While most people giving me gifts will usually ask what I'm looking for or wishing for, I'll rarely ask for equestrian stuff unless I can give them specific instructions on what I would like.  I'm very nitpicky about my tack and equipment, so I am the perfect person to give a giftcard to!

This year, I really don't have any real wants or needs when it comes to tack or equipment since I have everything I want!  Some nice riding shirts/polos would be nice, or t-shirts with an equine theme would be great, but otherwise I'm happy with what I have.  Some of the things I'm keeping my eye out for are the following though:

1.  Back On Track back warmer

Com'on Boxing Day Sales!

2.  Hunter Green all-purpose full pad, bonus points for yellow cord/trim

Brand doesn't matter, but needs to fit my 18" saddle

3.  Half-pad with shims (specifically back risers)

Doesn't have to be sheepskin!

4.  Joules polo, preferably hunter green with a nice contrasting trim

Love the style of these shirts

5.  A set of no-pin jump cups

(no photo available... yet)

These things would be nice to have, but aren't a make or break item, so I'm happy to keep trucking along as I have been, although those jump cups would be nice...  Just need to find someone who knows how to weld.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

5 Day Challenge - Day 5!

The last day!!!

21.  Favourite class to watch

I love watching almost any class.  If it's something I don't know much about, it's something I can learn about, look at how the class is placed and why, practise spotting confirmation shortfalls or good points, difference between the horses for different classes, etc.  My absolute favourite classes to watch are big jumper classes (Spruce Meadows) or cross country at any level/event.  As odd as it is, I like either sitting with knowledgeable friends/acquaintances who will give a running commentary or sitting at home listening to commentary.  Of course, it always depends on who's talking, but they usually will pull my attention to things my wide-eyed view would miss.

22.  What's in your cooler at horse shows?

 - Gatorade
 - Vector Bars (chocolate)
 - Cheese string/wax sealed cheese (babybel)
 - Bottled water (with mio)
 - Mandarin orange slice cups
 - Gel ice packs

23.  One thing about showing (or riding in general) you wish you could change?

The cost!  Although right now, it's more the distance I have to travel to get to them...

24.  Your ringside crew

Depending on when I'm showing, it's The Fiance (if he can make it), and two eventing friends of mine JS and JN.  I met them when I first started eventing in Alberta and have become my go-to's for any questions with eventing, news of equestrian events in Alberta, and are all in all incredibly wonderful people.  Free with their time, expertise, and extremely willing to help someone.  Showing wouldn't be half as fun without these two :)
Take a hop on over to JS's blog -

Photo taken by JS, JN jumping and myself watching

25.  Best prizes

I'll admit it, I'm a ribbon lover.  I'm not that big for prizes unless I can actually use them, like a pad or bridle bag or something.  I would love to get a cooler or saddle pad, but I'll always be glad to finish with a number and not a letter!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

5 Day Challenge - Day 4

16.  One thing you'd like to change about your horse

The idea that he must see and have an opinion no EVERYTHING.  From tying to the trailer (hello Black Stallion) to the flags on jumps, Koda has an opinion on everything.  Perhaps not change that completely, but make them a bit less colourful or strong.  We are working on this right now, more exposure so that Koda can learn that he doesn't need to have an opinion/reaction about any situation or obstacle he's presented with.  Or perhaps, it's more like changing his opinion from OMG to Ok, whatever.

17.  Your horse's future

I'm hoping to start consistently eventing with Koda, but from where we are it is a bit difficult. This year I have a few dressage shows on the list, plus a derby and a couple horse trials (as long as money and time allows).  Long term goals?  Keep eventing as long as he is game to play, perhaps going up to PT/T and would love to complete the BN/N long format at Rebecca Farms.

More of this!

18.  Your worst show ever

Easy, Mind's Eye Ranch Horse Trials... that was not a good weekend.
At least the dressage was ok... 
in jumper length stirrups... with no hair net..

19.  Favourite horse show venue

In Nova Scotia it was the Central Nova Horse & Pony show grounds in Truro.  Absolutely loved that place!  It's not top of the line, but it had really nice rings, great footing for cross country on TERRAIN that had all the courses twisting through the woods.  Absolutely fantastic!  The barns and human comforts weren't the best, but ah well!  Bonus - it was only 90 minutes down the road.

Dillon and I at our first hunter show at CNHP

In Alberta, I've only been to a few places, but so far I am loving Evergreen Park.  Tons of different cross country questions, a track, but only two rings (strange, but ah well).  Footing can be a bit of an issues depending on weather, but all in all pretty good.  Human comforts are good, electrical hookups with showers, restaurant on site at the grandstand.  Horse comforts, there are tons of pens for turnout if wanted, places to graze your horse, and comfortable shedrows.  

Grazing and cooling the legs at the same time.

20.  Your show day routine

For our shows, it depends.  Usually it's a weekend long deal, and I'll drive down the day before to get settled.  First day of the show, wake up early, feed, do my human routine, check over my tack, do any extra cleaning that's needed, depending on my ride times, I'll take Koda for a walk and graze, let him take a look at any distractions around the show rings (food trucks, announcer booths, the crowd/grandstand, etc.) then put him away.  Will usually catch my friends' rides since they are always before mine, give help where needed, then head back and start my tack cleaning and checks.  While I clean my tack, I'll go over everything I need for that day including before and after my rides.  I keep all of my stuff in my trailer and move stuff between the trailer and the stall with handy tote bags.

I'm AWFUL for keeping myself hydrated or full of food during a show day, but have found a good schedule that works for me, along with the right treats.    It's all about vector bars (chocolate), mandarin orange slice cups, cheese sticks, and fruit, mainly apples and bananas.  For drink, I'll keep gatorade and water with different flavours of Mio on hand (lemonade is a must!).  After the day, Koda will get walked or turned out a bit to keep him moving and wrapped with poultice for overnight.  There's always an evening walk with everyone to chill out and give the horses a chance to stretch their legs before being bedded down for the night.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

5 Day Challenge - Day 3

11.  Critique Your Horse's Conformation

Ok, I'm not the best at conformation critique, but I'll give it my best shot!

Starting with his hind end, he has fairly good angles that show he should be a good jumper, nothing spectacular or perfect, but shows a penchant for jumping over dressage (lack of the inverse 7).  His stifle is at a moderate height which won't let him get his hing legs under him as much as possible, so will have some issue with getting his hing legs stepping up underneath him. Nothing awful, but again, not perfect.  His SI joint is close to where you want it to couple in, but it is a bit far forward from the point of hip.  

Moving to the front, his pillar of support bisects the front legs (even when they're NOT set backwards...) making his front end lighter.  His humerous and shoulder angle shows that he'll have a nice front end over fences and should be able to snap up his front legs to avoid jumps.  Now, this isn't the greatest photo of Koda, but it does show that overall he has a fairly decent balance with only minor conformation issues that won't affect soundness but performance.  

For those of you who saw this and thought tl;dr, here are the highlights:
1.  Average hind end
2.  Nice front angles for jumping
3. Overall nice balance but not an Olympic contender

12.  Horse's Favourite Riding Exercise

I think Koda likes doing exercises with things, whether it be poles, jumps, cones, etc.  He's a pretty curious and cautious horse, but whenever I start pulling stuff out, he'll always go and check it out!  In particular, I think he likes grids since they make him think and I don't nitpit on him as much.

Perks right up coming into the short gymnastic :)

13.  Favourite Spa Day Products

We don't do many spa days up here (have to haul-in water to the farm) so it's usually just me, my grooming kit, and some tunes on a nice day.  My favourite grooming tool of ALL TIME is my cactus mitt.  Cactus cloth on one side, fleece on the other, you can use it for just about anything.  Best tool for soaking awkward areas (horse's face)?  Cactus mitt.  Get rid of sweat marks? Cactus mitt.  Help bring out the shine in your horse's coat?  Cactus mitt.  Remove the last bit of dried poultice on your horse's legs?  Cactus mitt.  I have at least three of them!

The all-magical mitt

14.  Three Best Things About Your Horse

1.  Honest - Koda is a pretty honest guy.  Yeah, he can get a bit of attitude or have a freak-out moment, but when we're really putting in the work, he is the most honest horse I know.
2.  Attitude - I love his attitude, even when it's a bit over the top and ridiculous!
For the last one, I asked The Fiance what he liked best about Koda, and his answer was...
3.  His size - Koda is actually a really good size for me.  Since I have relatively long limbs, Koda compliments me rather nicely at 16.1hh.  We match each other well.

My third choice would've been his canter...

Such a sweet man

15.  Favourite Picture of Your Horse

Even though he was a little intimidated/scared of it, he flew over top!

Monday, 2 December 2013

5 Day Challenge - Day 2

And here we go!

6) Favourite Equestrian Book and Movie

I have read several equestrian books from tips and tricks, how-to's, source books, novels, and kids stories.  For this question I'll just use my fiction novels since usually when I'm reaching for a book to chill out with, these are a guarantee to make me happy.  One of my favourite authors is Dick Francis.  The first book I read by him was Nerve and it is still one of my favourites.  Last year I was lucky enough that my then SO now Fiance got his hands on a signed first edition copy of another of my favourites, The Edge.

As for movies, I don't really have a favourite equestrian movie since a lot of the things they put in television and film when horses are involved drive me batty.  The whinnying, the snorting, the having to have the horses make noise... just brings me out of the fantasy land of movie magic.  One thing that I absolutely love watching are true histories of famous horses like Man'O'War or Big Ben.

7) Most Common Riding Misconception

Oh, the horse does ALL the work!  You're just sitting there!

Ahem.  No.

As the Fiance soon learned, riding is definitely an ACTIVE pursuit :)
Exhausted but TRIUMPHANT!

8) Two Strengths and One Weakness

Oh, this one is tough!  I guess one of my strengths is I absolutely LOVE riding banks and I do it rather well.  Up banks or drops, in and out of water, doesn't matter, I'll attack them.  I've jumped bigger banks (solid obstacles) than fences.  Another strength would be being able to learn something from any equestrian situation.  I love to learn and hear about how people train and spend time with their horses, whether it be natural horsemanship, your weekly lesson instructor, up to a former Olympic rider.  I'll take pieces from each person and apply it to what I'm doing with my horses.  Sometimes I won't even know I picked it up and someone will ask me how I learned how to do that, and it'll be from watching a reining demonstration or learning how to move cattle.

Out of the water at Evergreen Park

For weakness, I'll choose my biggest one - I'll forget that when I'm riding it's a partnership and start to be the "Commander".  This happened on our last ride where Koda was having issue with the "scary corner" and so my immediate reaction was "this is absolutely NOT ACCEPTABLE!!!!!" and turned the entire thing into a fight.  Which was absolutely ridiculous since if I had kept riding him through it, it would have turned into a nothing corner, but oh no, I had to go all Commander...  I'm catching myself more often and reminding myself that Koda is my partner more and more, but the big C will sometimes pop up!

9) Least Favourite Thing About Horses and/or Riding

As a lot of you have said, the cost!  No matter how you slice it, horses are pretty darn expensive.  But I love them :)

10) What Do You Feed Your Horse?

Hay of course!  Koda is on 24/7 hay (in hay bags), and pasture depending on the season.  If it gets really cold, he'll get a tiny scoop of alfalfa pellets, which I'll also use when we go away for competitions or clinics.

Always tasty!