Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The "Big" Day

Today is the big day. Hopefully.

I left W a message about hauling out of her barn on Friday for trail riding...but forgot to leave my work number, so I won't hear if it's okay until we get there for my evening lesson. I'm *thinking* it's not a big deal, but I still have memories from an old coach who REFUSED to allow horses to come or go off of her property. Whether you owned them or not. Hence, no one there showed, which considering W has a bit of a show barn going on, I'm thinking no issue. But still I fret (cause that's what I do).

If we can't haul him out on Friday, then he'll stay at T's until the weekend. I don't want that, but I've already promised T I'd ride with her, so that's that.

Hence, tentatively it's 3 hours until Moon is at his new home. I'm nervous and excited and a good part of me doesn't even believe this is actually happening.

Yesterday I felt like I was someone else, packing up my gear. I spent an hour with the vacuum removing all the hair from my new saddle (apparently she last used in during shedding season). Then like the nutter I am, I took a tooth brush and scrubbed the entire thing. Every stitch, inside, the gullet plate, the buttons. Everything.

The added benefit was that I was able to check for any flaws or damages. There's some rubs in spots, but nothing serious or concerning. The missing screw is not stripped, just missing. I'm gonna have to hunt a new one down, as it's not overly functional without it.

After the cleaning, it looked great. Even the BF said it looked way better and when he compared it to others for sale online, thought I got a swell deal.

Since I still had some time, I whipped downstairs and sewed up a saddle cover for it, in a dark blue fleece. To make it look a little extra special, I found two embroidered initials, and added them to the cover to give it a 'monogrammed' look. : ) I'm pretty proud of the final product. Now it won't get all dusty sitting around.

Without the gullet screw and a girth, I probably won't ride in it today. I did find my aussie girth is a 32", so it *might* work in the mean time...We're headed to Calgary in a week, so I'll probably do some shopping then.

I pulled my new Schneider's blanket out and was impressed so far. The quality seems good, but I was too worried about it getting covered in dog hair to have a really good look at it...which is dumb, since tonight it will become covered in horse hair!

I've got my stall plaques. I didn't get around to making the quick release halter...I don't know if I need some trailer ties or w/e for tying him up at night. I don't know if I'll even have a saddle rack! Just one? Or two? Does he need his feed bucket? What about a water bucket? What gear should I be bringing?!

I'm starting to feel like *maybe* I should have actually asked W some of these things! I haven't a clue on any of it. And I still have to deworm him tonight before we leave! Plus the BF is in a course, so I have to head home and THEN to the barn, so it'll take a little extra time there.

I've also spent most of the morning hunting for a special poem or quote for T's Thank-you card...except can't find any that feel right! Oye.

I grabbed some fluorescent paper and made up two "Emergency Contact Info" papers for Moon. I think I will tack one below his stall sign maybe, and one just inside my tack box. I really think these are important to have quick and easy access to.

Oh the nerves! I'm sure I'm going to be an absolute disaster in today's lesson. How can one concentrate on shoulder-in when their horse is moving into a stall in a nice barn with an indoor?! I can't!! This is my kid-dream. I've imagined this day a thousand times, and there's zero way I can relax.

I get to try on his new blanket and hood! (hopefully which fit!). His new saddle and fleece pad! Aurgh! So much new and exciting! He's MY pony!

Filling mental space in my head: lalalaladeedaaawhoopielalalala....

I can hardly sit still. Can't think still. Must get to barn. Must see pony. Must move pony in. So exciting!

Aurgh!

And you still have to wait 5 hours to find out how it goes!
_____

Ahhh.

The day has come and gone. The "Big" Day. It's over. Complete. And now there's new things to keep our attention.

Yesterday was awesome. T met me at her place, we chatted and then loaded up. It was a bit of a sad drive, as I led in my car and she followed with the truck and trailer. She reminded me again that this wasn't forever and that I'm always welcome to the trailer. It still won't be the same without her company.

We unloaded Moon at W's and headed into the barn for our lesson. I was saddened to learn that one of the horses in the barn that had been ill for a few weeks passed away, which is always tragic and unfortunate.

W hadn't yet had an opportunity to build Moon's new stall, so the mare Sierra was moved into the large 12x20 box stall of the mare that had passed on (the vet diagnoses it as cancer), and Moon was given her 12x12 box stall for the remainder of the week. His new digs should be built on the weekend, and in the end, this is the perfect transition. Give him time to adjust in the more spacious quarters and then move him.

I have to say, it was pretty awesome to see him in that great big box stall : ) It's probably the only time in the next 5 years or more that he'll ever be in such a nice stall, so I'll really have to appreciate it while it lasts.

: ) I should add, that one of the girls that works part-time for W saw Moon and said "Is he a pony?" Oye! I LOVE my MoonSox, and find him to be the PERFECT height, but true facts state that he's about 2" from being a pony. : P Poor guy.

We headed into our lesson, and it was obvious that both Moon and I were stiff. We lacked the smooth-like-butter feeling of last week, where he felt soft and slow in my hands. After a ton of leg yielding, 3-loop serpentines and turn on the fore, he started to come around and really offered me a lovely trot with both impulsion and flexion.

I admit, I remained the stiff one, and need to relax. I'm hoping to start bringing my ipod with me to the barn, and just using the rhythm and music. Plus, then it's like Dressage freestyle, which is awesome. : )

After our lesson, T told me that we are looking so improved. She hasn't seen us ride in months now, and that was a huge compliment. It means a ton to me that our changes are clearly visible, though I know that he feels so wonderful.

It was at this point, that Moon had to move into the stall. I unclipped him, no lead rope and wandered into his stall. He followed like a gentleman, walked around, munched some hay, and then I stepped out.

And he tried to walk out with me. Nope, sorry bud. Closed the stall door, and he tried chest bumping it. "Um, excuse me. I can't get the door open" he was looking at me to say.

When he realized that he wasn't getting out, he got a little agitated, pacing, splashing his water bucket and shoving his head out the door with big worried eyes.

T and I went back to my car and loaded up with his tack trunk, bucket of blankets and remaining gear. W had cleared us a saddle rack and bridle hook and we had a small space for our gear. I hung Moon's stall plaque on his stall, and hung his bridle on the hook.

Settled in.

T headed off after a final kiss on the nose to Moon and a promise to be back the next day for our regular trail ride. After she left, I realized I had forgotten to give her the 'thank-you' gift and dashed down the driveway after her. Handed her the envelope, grabbed my new blanket from the trunk and headed back to the barn.

The barn was warm. I hadn't realized it before, but it was probably 10 degrees or more warmer then outside. Mmmmm...toasty. The lights were on in the arena, and it was bright and comfortable at the same time.

I took the Moon'er out of his stall to try on his new blanket. I didn't drag the hood with me (didn't know where we were going to keep it), but figured this was a good place to start.

I have to say, I'm pretty pleased. Not sure if I should have gone with a 78", but I think the 76" is right. It's Moon that's a little wrong : P

The length seemed perfect, the belly band wrapped around great. Love that it was made to cover a little further up. The tail flap velcro'd on, so I can remove it if I want. The hardware was all good quality too.

I REALLY like the V-Free neck. Moon has a high wither and a curved back, and the V-free fit better through his back then ANY other blanket I've seen on him. I was thoroughly impressed. The adjustable neck, which was a selling feature for me, was actually not as advantageous as I had hoped. It SEEMS that Moon must have a pretty low-set neck, as it seemed to pinch/pull a bit when he tried to put his head down, even with the velcro neck straps completely undone. This is what makes me feel like he needs a larger size, but when I look at him front-to-back, the length is PERFECT. He really just seems to have a low neck and would have done better with a slight v-cut out of the front panel. Unfortunately, since it's a solid front (no velcro/straps), there's no gap there.

In the end, I'm happy. It's not perfect, but no blanket is. He'll be nice and warm, and since he won't be chowing down a ton out in the paddock (there's not really any grass...and then it's winter), he should be very cosy.

Other awesome features? I LOVE that the loop end of the surcingle straps have little elastics in them! So you can do them up snug, but they still expand with the horse's chest and such. Never seen a blanket with that before, and I'm a huge fan!

They came with the little rubber rings to keep the surcingles done up. Nice addition. The coloring is nice (black doesn't show dirt!), the material seems strong. It has some loops around the neck for the hood, which I need still to try on. I got the 2011 hood and the 2010 blanket, so some modifications may be needed...

Leg straps came with it, has nice darts in the legs for movement. Cute "SStack" lining in it. And the drop of the blanket even covered Moon's big belly. : ) I'm pleased!

And the closed front and putting it on him? He did not care at all, despite being a little worked up from the move. Score!

He refused an apple, so I put him back in his stall. Sprayed him quickly with the blue spray as he ripped his shoulder cut open again (and bled on me), and then W's mom came in to give out the evening hay. Happy Moon'er.

The other girls in the barn, J and A (??) with their horses Point and Ebony were there, and W was showing off my stall plaque! In the end, W placed 2 orders and J placed one! I now have to get some wood and start woodburning!!! They were bugging me that I could make tons of them and sell them to keep up my board payments! lol. Now how many do I need to make a month to pay for Moon's board?? Maybe this can be the start of my competition fund?!

But now, I don't know how much to charge for them! They both bought without any price, and I haven't a clue what's reasonable! Anyone have any ideas?

Then I had a muffin one of the girls had brought for us, looked at my watch and discovered I'd best be headed home! It was already after 9, and I had been at the barn since I left work!

One more kiss on the nose for Moon, and then out the door.

Today, I'm gonna try and get some more pics (didn't want the flash going off during lessons, since you could see it from the arena due to his stall placement!). The girl is picking up her new CAIR girth tonight, and then I'm gonna try on Moon's new boots for the trail ride today and tomorrow. And the HOOD, so you guys can see some pics and get a review on that (since it's blanket buying season now!).

: ) So far no worried calls from W, so I'm thinking he's settled in nicely and hasn't managed to kill his pasture mates...yet. : P ...or vice versa : O

Tonight, trail ride. Tomorrow, Pembina Valley trail ride. Saturday, our first arena ride. Soo excited!

Oh! And I tried him in his new merino 1/2 pad (just the pad alone, no baby pad or anything), and really like it! You NEED to use the billet straps, but it looked nice and seemed comfortable for him. Plus, it didn't seem to get as grossly sweaty as the others (sheepskin helping to regulate the heat?).

And no, he hasn't tried the new saddle yet. I have to find a replacement gullet screw before I ride in it, and still have to measure for a girth! Whops! Lots to do tonight!

Oh, and apologies for the 14 page post : P

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Little blue christmas.


: (

I should be psyched. Crossed the border with no issue, got my parcels (all 7 big boxes) and came back home.

The new saddle was just as pictured, no surprise there. I was thrilled. No box of rocks. Even the knee blocks were included. Yay!

The Cavallo boots were there too. Not as nice as the old design (they've cheaped out with plastic soles instead of rubber), but for the price, I'm happy there too.

The Ani-hist for the farrier was a bigger container then I thought. Good.

The CAIR girth looks MORE impressive then pictured! I had a pang of sadness for already selling it before seeing it, but no harm, no foul. I think the buyer will be thrilled. : )

The Schneider's Saddlery box was huge. Inside, a lovely blanket and neck cover. Loving it. Blanket wash...okay. A windproof/waterproof blanket for the dog...fits PERFECT and looks awesome on her. Thrilled again.

The BF's new jacket. Fits perfect. He's happy too.

I open the box to my new fleece saddle pad. Looks great for the price. I'm happy.

Pull out 4 shipping boots, thrilled to realize they perfectly match my cooler/shipping blanket. YIPPEE!

...until I look at them again.

And realise that something isn't right. So I match them up.

...one hind, one hind, one front...one hind. A tiny hind.

The girl was selling a set of pony shipping boots too and it seems she shipped me a pony hind instead of a horse front. : (

Big huge dissapointment.

Especially since I wanted to use them on our 3 hour trail ride out to the pembina valley on Friday. And that won't happen now. And we likely won't need shipping boots again for awhile. Never mind now needing to figure out a way to convince the seller to ship the right boot (if she still has it) to me, here in Canada, so I don't have to waste gas driving across the border for 1 boot.

*sigh*

"Christmas" just got a little blue-er...

Always something.



It seems there's ALWAYS something going on with horse's health. Always.

On Sunday when I cleaned Moon's hooves, I noticed that I could clean a lot of gravel from his white line. It's also gotten quite wide in addition to now showing small holes in it...

Which makes me worry. I have a feeling I'm looking at the start of White Line Disease.

I say the start because when we thermal imaged him, there wasn't excessive heat up the hoof wall. Which to me, means the infection hasn't spread up there. My goal on Wednesday (won't get out until then likely), is to clean them really well before we move to W's, and see how deep it seems to go. The timing isn't so bad, as I have access (finally) to a stall or cross ties where I can boot and soak him. And I'll be out enough in the next 2 weeks I should get a half decent treatment in.

One thing bugs me a bit though. Maybe I'm being unreasonable...

I've been fond of my farrier, but haven’t been thrilled by the regular flaring of Moon’s hooves. Add to that now the White Line, and I wonder if they're related. Does he need a different trim?.

Unfortunately my farrier is busy for the next bit, so now I have to decide if I’ll just go ahead and treat, or wait for her. Really, I’m probably going to try and track down some treatment tonight if I can, and just treat. Can’t do more harm.

With the impending move, I’m hoping to see if W’s farrier can have a look at him and see what he says about the last 6 months and if we’re making the progress we should be.

In the mean time, I'm stuck with a second problem.

Chetak Ronja Dressage

Dressage Girths.

It appears that I've managed to find a buyer for the long CAIR girth I bought earlier this month. I was planning on using it to get by with my Blackburn AP saddle until I could find a replacement, and wound up getting the Wintec Isabell (or box of rocks) shortly there after. Which meant I no longer needed the long girth per se. I had considered keeping it, since I got a great deal, it was a really nice girth AND it was anatomical. Plus, it wasn't like I was getting rid of my AP.

Unfortunately, it’s brown and my saddle is black. Add to that, despite all attempts at slimming Mr. Moon down, I’m under the impression that he’s got the big ol’quarter horse girth, and may never comfortably fit anything less then a 52”. I SHOULD be able to squeeze him into the 50” I bought, except he’s taken to puffing up when I go to cinch. Making it exhausting and irritating to do up a smaller girth.

I also read online that the CAIR girths don’t have a ton of extra stretch, and you’re best buying 1 size larger then you need. So technically, I should have gotten a 52 or 54”…

Shires Leather Dressage



The last reason I’ve decided to part with it? I kinda need the money to pay for a dressage girth to use on my new box of rocks. Adding in my recent winter shopping, the increased board costs with the move, a parting gift for T, Master’s course fees and my sister’s wedding, I really shouldn’t spend any more money on horse tack. But I can’t ride in my new saddle without a girth, which would make the purchase of the saddle pointless.

So I’ll sell the CAIR girth and use the funds to purchase a dressage girth.

Now I need some advice. Which girth do I buy? I have about $65 CDN from the sale of my girth to spend. I’ll buy from the US, but need shipping to Canada, since I don’t feel like making another border trip, and it only tempts me to spend money. : P

Unfortunately, our largest English tack store just closed (Greenhawk). Which means more likely I’ll have to pay shipping charges, lowering the available funds.

I’m contemplating (yes, I’ve even listed ones over my budget!):

Greenhawk
Mondega Leather - $60 + $15 s&h
Apple Saddlery
Chetak Ronja - $95 + s&h
HorseLoverz
Nunn Finer Piaffe/Passage - $95 + s&h
Heartland Saddlery
Shires Leather Contoured - $80

Out of the lot, I’m thinking I actually like the Nunn Finer the best (no surprise, it’s the most expensive), though I can pick up the Shires over Thanksgiving and save on shipping…

Nunn Finer Piaffe


The Mondega is a decent price for what you’re getting.

So final choices:
Mondega Leather = $79
Chetak Ronja = $112
Nunn Finer = $141 (plus duty)
Shires Leather = $84

Votes folks? Which one should I choose? Reviews tell me that the Chetak and Nunn

I’ll also stop by some local tack shops on the weekend to see if anything is selling here that would be better. And try to control my urge to spend. : P …well, on anything but maybe some white line treatment…

Oye. Expensive ponies.
Mondega Dressage Girth

Monday, September 26, 2011

Delivered!


Aurgh. My saddle/rocks have been delivered to the border! And instead of going down to pick them up this evening, I'm helping my folks pick potatoes! :O Aurgh, now I have to wait another 24 hours to find out what it really is!! :P

And I have 2 other dilemmas on the burner! Will try and get to those soon too! : )

Happy riding (for those lucky enough to tonight!)

One step closer.

I've cleaned my tack box. I've put my summer sheets in the wash and packed them away for the season. I've done my fall deworming and I've arranged for Moon's last trim at T's. My saddle pads are cleaned. My gear is in its bags. All the preparations are complete, and now I wait for the move.



My estimated riding dates are:
Wednesday, September 28th - Move In (and Lesson)
Thursday, September 29th - Trail ride with T
Friday, September 30th - Pembina Valley Trail ride with T
Saturday, October 1st - AM ride at W's
Sunday, October 2nd - Possible AM show? Otherwise, AM ride at W's
Monday, October 3rd - AM ride at W's
Tuesday, October 4th - PM ride at W's
Wednesday, October 5th - Riding Lesson at W's
Thursday, October 6th - Trail ride with T

Friday, October 7th - 13th - Thanksgiving trip to visit family

Friday, October 14th - PM ride at W's
Saturday, October 15th - AM ride at W's
Sunday, October 16th - AM ride at W's

Monday, October 17th - 21st - Work Travel to Toronto


Saturday, October 22nd - PM ride at W's
Sunday, October 23rd - Dressage Mini Clinic - Auditor
Monday, October 24th - No ride.
Tuesday, October 25th - PM ride at W's
Wednesday, October 26th - Lesson at W's
Thursday, October 27th - Trail ride with T
Friday, October 28th - No ride.
Saturday, October 29th - AM ride at W's
Sunday, October 30th - PM ride at W's
Monday, October 31st - AM ride at W's

Tuesday, November 1st - PM ride at W's
Wednesday, November 2nd - Riding Lesson at W's
Thursday, November 3rd - Trail ride with T
Friday, November 4th - No ride.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Moving Fast.

You'd think this post would be about the impending move...which I now dream about every night and think about every day. Anyone want to see the gradeschool scribbles on my notepad at work of Moon's tack trunk layout or list of which blankets he needs to bring with him? It's there. It's cheesy. But I can't help it.

The days are flying away, and a part of me is really sad to be leaving T's. When I'm out there lately, I think about the solitude I often enjoy, just me and my pony. I think about how great the trails off the property are, riding through town or down the quad trail with the BF. I think about a close friend who honks every time she drives by, which makes me smile. I think about chatting as the sun sets with T, about the space T cleared in the tack shed, just for us.

It's tough. Wednesday, will be tougher. Moving is a big deal, and while I don't think there's a better place then W's, it's never likely to be the 'home' that T's will always be. But just as children must head off to college, we need to make this journey to grow. To learn. To become more then what we are today, and that's a oppertunity we will not miss and we will not waste.

Today, the BF and I gathered up most of my tack from T's. I unhung the "Arena Exercises" book from the wall, loaded up my trunk, gathered the buckets and pails and wraps and reins, and placed them in my car. When we closed up the little tack shed, it seemed a little lonely. Moon's saddle and bridle were still hanging, and I'd left a couple of brushes, but it certainly wasn't the old messy pile it once was. And that was kinda sad to me.

This evening, I cleaned my tack trunk, keeping the things we might need, and sorting and tidying it up. I kept thinking about the 'new' stuff he'll move in with and wondered if it would feel weird. Setting up a new spot, with new things...

So instead I tried to think about our ride that afternoon...

The BF asked me around noon if I wanted to go for a run again with my pony. I suggested instead that he drive his quad and we'd follow that. He jumped at the chance.

We took the quad to the barn and when we got there, he said to me "Where's his halter thing?" I pointed, and he grabbed it and left. : ) Yes, he was getting my pony for me! Totally sweet. I pretend that he didn't follow that with "What does he look like again?"

Dark brown. White face. : P Oye.

He brushed him while I cleaned hooves and tacked up. Off on the trails, Moon did a good job to keep up, and seemed to instictly want to follow the BF. We crossed over the highway, and I left him move into a lovely rolling canter. Which he didn't want to slow down from. He cantered a good mile, and then I pulled him up. The BF was kneeling by the road...

"Um?"

Then he points to the patially hidden culvert sticking up. And the big hole hidden in the deep reeds and grass.

"Just putting my shoulder back in" he says.

Sickening pop.

Yeah, apparently you couldn't see the culvert at all, and when he came off the road smoked right into it, pulling his shoulder out of its sockett. Gross. But it wasn't a first for him, and once it was back where it belonged, we carried on.

Into the treed pit trails. Moon was again determined to keep sight of the BF, which unfortunately meant that I took a lot of sharp and thorned branches to the upper arm. The trails are cleared for quaders, not girls on horseback. I should add, that when cantering, I seem to always lose my stirrups, and managed to spin the leathers around a few times before getting my feet back in them. So they were pinching and rubbing my lower legs : P

We did a loop around the pit, a branch here or there ripping my shoelaces or beating at my arms. All I cared about was not scratching my pretty velvet helmet!

By this time, Moon was dripping sweat. The weather was hotter then it ever is for this time of year, and the ponies were already putting on their winter coats. Poor Moon'er.

We walked back to the road, and the BF was just sitting there on his quad. I though "Now's my chance!" and urged Moon into a rolling canter.

Moon and I hand galloped past the BF...

The BF looked up and saw that I was 'racing' him. So he gave it some gas and started going.

As he caught up, Moon took one look at him fast approaching his tail...

...and shifted (I mean, you could FEEL it change) into a higher speed!

And so did the boyfriend...

Moon went faster...and I could feel that he could still go faster. This was like a Sunday walk in the park for him.

The boyfriend added more throttle.

And I for the first time, had a holy-s#$& moment. :O There was ZERO way I could stop him. And he had more speed to give if I wasn't hauling on his mouth (I was at this point trying to slow him, in my best attempt at a pulley rein...but this IS the king of bracing).

Finally as a driveway approached, the BF let off the throttle.

And so did Moon.

Except no one told me.

So I smacked right into Moon's neck. Thankfully. Otherwise I would have catapulted right over him.

:O

Crap. He can move. The BF tells me he clocked him at just over 30 mph. Said it was the coolest thing, to ride his quad so close to a galloping horse. Said Moon looked perfectly relaxed, just going along like it was easy.

At least HE was relaxed.

I wonder what his fastest time is? He's bred of racing lines, with AQHA hall-of-famers. They're fast. I felt speed in him (kinda scarey). Now I want to push him there...! And catch it on video, and capture his speed...

He still offered me canters and trots all the way home, minus walking to cool out the last mile. He has way more stamina and power then he EVER has while I've known him. Now to harness that power...

I tell you, my pony can RUN.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Standing Still.

Yesterday, being Thursday, T and I went on our regular weekly trail ride. Summarized, it was lovely, the weather until the end was warm, and the company was awesome. I must admit though that the ride highlighted an 'issue' of training I'm going to need to dedicate serious time to this winter.

Standing still.

Wow. My horse HATES standing still. He has zero patience. At the mounting block, he wants to wander off. As I get on, he's already moving. If asked to stand for more then 30 seconds, he's fighting to move off. He just won't STAND.

On the trail, T's horse Chico is a VERY slow walker. We'd stop to let her catch up, and after a few seconds, Moon would want to move off again. He's throw his head, spin his bum, back-up or try to yank the reins.

It was irritating.

I WANTED to spend a lot of time getting him to realize he's not going to win, but I felt like I was turning T's 'lovely trail ride' into a training session for Moon and I. Probably not fair. So while I worked on it as much as I could, it wasn't where I wanted it at the end.

My intention now, is to spend a ridiculous amount of time making him stand. No more just 'getting on' when he's wandering away at the block. If he walks off, dismount, bring him back to the block, and do it again. I need, once again, to out stubborn him.

He likely won't get worked this weekend (going to a farm auction with my folks tomorrow and TRYING to see if I can spend Sunday helping out a lady with her fiber production animals...because someday I want goats and sheep of my own!), so Moon likely won't get his much needed 'lesson' on standing till Monday.

Tuesday, my saddle (or box full of really expensive rocks...still not sure which) is supposed to be ready for pick-up at the border, so I'll probably leave work early and make the hike down.

Which means he only really gets one more practice before next week's lesson. However, he was doing some nice t-o-t-f on the trail (while we waited) and leg yielding.

T asked me how to ask for a turn-on-the-fore, so here's my aids on that one:
1. Halt
2. Ask for bend in the directions you want them to circle.
3. Outside leg on the girth.
4. Sit with more weight to the inside
5. Inside leg touches/taps just behind the girth (Consider this the 'pivot point') to move the bum around.
And voila.

While I'm on it, I'll attempt the shoulder-in aids, as I had a couple of requestsin my last post...I admit, I'm still working on this one!

W says it's easiest if you come around a corner, so you already have inside bend.
For me, she said to think about leg yielding into the rail. So I'm going to be applying my inside leg as his belly swings. This drives the bum towards the rail.

Then you lift and place his shoulder to the inside. For Moon, this means that I lift and place my hands, my outside hand goes at his neck and my inside hand opens up. This maintains his bend to the inside.

Look across the ring like you're trying to go to the opposite corner. Put your seat weight to the inside as though you're leg yielding. And voila (not really, but we can pretend).

...I actually LOVE this website when it comes to learning progressive dressage moves!

And that is the shoulder-in.

We're going to be doing a LOT of this over the winter. W says that it's the next step to develop and improve our canter circles. This helps him learn balance with a rider on.

5 more days. : ) On Wednesday, W said everything was ready for our move-in, and now it's just a matter of counting down the days. I think Wednesday will be an early Christmas. *hopefully* I'm thrilled to think about his stall sign going up, and placing a real dressage saddle on a rack dedicated to him. This weekend I'm going to sew a new saddle cover for the wintec (or rock cover...), wash my winter blankets and just do a lot of general prep for the move. Have to haul my tack trunk out and get it cleaned and organized too!

I'm also thinking about taking one of my cheap halters and converting it to a safety release halter. Not sure how just yet, but I figure I can rig something up. My reasoning is because his new blanket needs it to keep the hood up, and I don't want him getting accidentally injured in the paddock.

While I've been at it, I dug around online to figure out our costs for next year's show season. We're bound and determined to go, even if we only compete walk-trot (I hope that he's ring-ready enough for training level by mid-summer though).

Below are my estimates. I'm aiming at this point to attend at least 2 regular (schooling or non) dressage shows (doing 3 classes a piece) and at least 1 fun show. I'm amazed to learn I'll have to get a sport license, and think that next year is probably the right time to also test for a couple of Equine Canada rider levels at the same time...assuming we're ready!

ESTIMATED COSTS FOR 2012 SHOW SEASON:
One time fees:
Dressage Winnipeg Membership : $25
Manitoba Horse Council Membership : $50
Equine Canada Membership : $10
Equine Canada Bronze Sport License: $20 ($25 subsidy from MHC)
TOTAL = $105

Average Show Fees:
Per Test Fee : $25
Stabling Fee : $45/day or $65/weekend
Admin Fee : $25
Drug Testing Fee : $3.50
Dressage Canada Levy : $7
MHC Levy : $3
TOTAL (assuming 3 classes) = $178.50

OR

Average Schooling Show Fees:
Per Walk/Trot Test Fee : $15
Per Training+ Test Fee : $18
Stabling Fee : $45/day or $65/weekend
Admin Fee : $25
Drug Testing Fee : $3.50
Dressage Canada Levy : $7
MHC Levy : $3
TOTAL (assuming 3 classes) = $154.50

OR

Fun Show Fees:
Dressage Test Fee : $10
Fun Class Fee : $5
Haul-In Fee : $10
Admin Fee : $15
MHC Levy : $3
TOTAL (assuming 3 classes) = $58

SEASON TOTAL = $351

Required Gear:
Short shirt and collar
Dressage show jacket
Show gloves

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I broke him!

Today was our LAST lesson in which we'd be returning to T's after. Moon and I headed out to W's barn and I didn't know what to expect. Two weeks ago he was a devil under saddle and I was feeling a little defeated. Last week I had the most amazing, best performance from Moon to-date, and I couldn't believe how great he was moving.

What would today bring?

I'll tell you.

There was another girl working her big paint in the ring, but I was happy to have a chance to work him with another horse around. See if he could stay focused on me. I should say, by and large (except a few times when the other horse was cantering or bucking), he did.

W had us doing transitions, circles and lots of leg yielding. He's becoming a superb leg yielder, at both walk and trot. He's also giving me a great turn-on-the-fore, not even needing to take steps anymore. So W decided to step things up a notch...

And for the first time, after only 5 months in training, we schooled SECOND level! : ) We schooled shoulder-in.

W told me to give it a go, ran through what aids I'd utilize (seriously, I have t-o-t-f so well in my head that she tells me everything based on that!), and we gave it a go.

Our first attempt was better then expected, but not really shoulder-in. W did an awesome thing. She took the reins from the ground and guided us as I worked the leg cues. Through that, I had a better concept of what I was aiming to do...

...and did it. It wasn't perfect, but we had crossing over and were working on 3 paths! We probably had a 15 to 18 degree angle from the wall (you want to be at 30 degrees), but for a first try, that's pretty awesome! So we did it 5 more times!

I was beyond pleased with Moon. Not only that, but he did some lovely figure 8's, circles, leg yields and even 3-loop serpentines. My dear old backyard trail pony had been transformed into a well-broke dressage horse!

And then I hear from the other girl in the ring "Wow, he's a lovely mover! He's like perfectly proportioned!".

: O I'm sorry, were we talking about MY horse?!

5 months. Less then 5 months. For all of this. I mean, he is getting TOPLINE. He is responsive. He is...awesome.

: ) And by and large, I did the training under W's guidance and skill. We got here together. And it feels soooo darn good!

I'm giddy to move there next week. GIDDY. The thought of schooling all winter has me wishing I didn't have to work and could ride all day, every day. This is awesome. My pony is awesome.

...I think he'll deserve his new gear. : ) Such a good little pony...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Longest Process.


You'd think that buying a saddle might be an easy thing. It's not.

11 days ago I found an excellent priced Wintec Isabell in my size, in good condition. After exchanging emails with the seller for a few days to see pictures and details, I agreed to buy it. It was supposed to be simple. I'd send money via paypal to his friend with an account (who sells jewelery online), and he'd mail the saddle out.

...then his friend went MIA. Then he couldn't set up a paypal account. Sounds a little sketch, but in context, our email conversations have all seemed legit.

So today, finally exhausted by the process, I've offered him a Western Union money transfer. It's going to cost me about $10 more then paypal (since I'd be covering the fees), and I have to admit, feels a lot less secure. But I'm banking and gambling on this one...

I've been really fortunate thus far that no one has screwed me with online purchases. But I'm always waiting, as you just KNOW there will come a day. I'm hoping this won't be that time.

I'm also hoping it's in as good of condition as the pictures seem. This may have been a mistake. But I won't know till I pick it up.

So now I get to withdraw the money from the bank, drive to the nearest grocery store and send it on its way to him. I've received the picture of it at fedex (okay, a box that a saddle would fit in!) and a tracking number that is linked to a parcel leaving his location, that is 16 lbs...a little heavier then the new wintecs, but a likely weight for an older one with packing...

The only issue is that it's shipping to Pemdina, ND...instead of Pembina, ND. I'm hoping FedEx isn't going to turn that into an issue...maybe I'll call them later...

So pretty soon I'll hand over my $$ and await the unknown. Is there really a saddle in that box, or did he mail me bricks? Is the saddle in good condition? Is anything missing? Will it arrive at its destination? Will it arrive unharmed (no broken trees?)...

I just keep hoping. Unfortunately, it says it'll arrive next Monday. If it arrived this Friday, I could pick it up this weekend and be done worrying sooner. Instead, I get to worry over the weekend, and might not have a chance next week to pick it up. Which means I'm waiting till the following weekend or the first Monday in October. That's a long time.

I hate waiting.

Someone promise me this will all work out, and that I've not done something foolish all over a saddle I can barely afford.

*sigh*

_________

Update:
I sent the money off to the seller and came home to 4 more pictures of the FedEx receipt, box in the FedEx counter lady's hands and the box being filled! : P Wow, if this person is out to scam me, they're working really hard to do it!

The odder thing? I discovered the "Chris", the seller, who has spent the last week moving gravel, fixing their tractor, repairing a broken truck steering column and missing out on a double date because they worked a double on the weekend...

...is "Christine". Seriously, I can't believe I just spent 2 weeks thinking I was talking to a guy! Thankfully I didn't try flirting...though would that have gotten me an even better price? ; ) Teasing!

Keep those finger's crossed for me! It's much appreciated!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Follow the lead...boyfriend?!

After spending the day helping the bf on his "toys" (changing risers on snowmobiles, paint frames and tuning up quads and stuff), he was kind enough to return the favor and come out to the barn with me.

He knows how excited I am to move to W's next week, but we'll both miss being at T's place. So we took the dog with us, and Me, Moon, Halo and BF went on a trail ride. Technically, the BF and Halo ran, while I rode Moon.

It was pretty neat. Moon REFUSED to pass the BF, and kept perfect pace with him. Which was great because instead of thinking about half halts and slowing him down, I could concentrate on my own position. We DID have one little argument after galloping for a bit, but I like to believe we're making headway in the softening and accepting contact.

We rode for about 5 km's, which is technically a lot for the BF to run (imo...since I'm a terrible runner!). He was feeling great on the other hand, and maybe even a little dissapointed that we didn't go faster. : P He wants me to point out as well, that he beat everyone back home. : P Oye. Moon's excuse was that he needed to cool out on the way home ; )

The BF's job requires him to use a lot of really neat equipment, and last week he was in training to use an infared camera. Those heat-detecting ones. I asked if he'd take a look at Moon after a ride to check for saddle fit. And after our ride, I realized this would be an excellent tool to check for heat in any joints!! I've been worrying quietly about his 'squishy lump' on his LH, and this was a great way to see if there's any heat (since feeling for it can lie).

His limbs all looked great. They were cool, and uniform in color (ie. uniform in temperature). The only thing that was different was his coronet bands, which on every foot, were slightly hotter. Hmmm...is this normal or bad?

...after looking it up online, apparently that increased heat in the coronet bands (but restricted to that area) is a sign of a healthy barefoot hoof after exercise! (see HERE for some explanations and images). Too cool! : ) And I worry so much!

Unfortunately we don't have the gear to download the pics, so I've nothing from today to show you. But trust me, it was interesting stuff.

We also pulled off his saddle and had a look at fit. I expected him to have cold spots in the middle of his back from bridging...but there wasn't any! He had appropriately cool places over his withers and along his spine. The ONLY cold spots that shouldn't have been, were too strips along the back of the saddle padding. I would imagine, this likely means the panels in my saddle are angled too much for Moon's back? That or I need a bit of a lift back pad because the back of the saddle panels aren't making contacting completely with his back.

(all pics were stolen off google image search, just to illustrate)
Hmmm...interesting!

Good to know though that we don't have bridging!

Now I'm off to bed, 'cause riding ponies makes me tired! : )

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Hives and Lows.

Yesterday, despite the cooling temperatures, was a perfect day for a trail ride. T and I packed up and headed out to Birds Hill Park, and plodded along the grassy, tree-lined trails, winding wherever they led us. Her horse Chico is a bit of a slow poke, and Moon is a bit of a speed demon so I used the time while I was waiting for them to catch up to work with Moon on his turn-on-the-fore. I was hoping to use the methods from yesterday's lessons to help Moon focus more on me while we're riding the trails.

Can't say if I was successful or not, and I tried not to spend too much of our 'fun' ride working and training him, but at least I didn't feel like he was getting away with murder. I don't want him to think we never have fun together and just work, work, work.

After 2 hours on the trail the sun was nearly set and we made it back to the trailer without any incidents. There's something special about watching the sun set on horseback while riding with a good friend...

I let T know our move-in date at W's and she graciously offered to drive the truck and trailer so I could hang out at the barn longer and then head straight home afterwards. She's such an amazing person, and even told me that if I ever need the truck and trailer, I'm more then welcome to it. It means the world to me that she understands so fully why we're doing this in the first place and supports us along the way.

I of course, invited her to come out and ride Moon or watch whenever she'd like, since she won't have arena access over the winter, and it's a nice treat. It's the least I can do.

She also invited me out to the Pembina Valley two Friday's from now to go trail riding with her. The terrain there is gorgeous and I'm beyond excited to head out. Despite us having moved to W's by then, she again was awesome and offered to pick us up! : ) We've even made tentative plans to continue our Thursday trail rides through the winter, so long as the weather isn't too miserable.

So that concluded yesterday. When we got back to the farm, we let the boys free in their paddock and the air was cold despite the lack of wind. Winter was approaching quickly.

I got home feeling kinda off, and no surprise, looked in the mirror to see that I was covered in hives. *sigh* I have the weirdest allergy to leather, and silly me, didn't wear gloves on our trail ride. Apparently 2 hours in contact was enough to set off a bad reaction. Really, who rides but is allergic to leather?

On another note, it *looks* like things will go through with the saddle, though I'm still waiting on an email address to send the money to. Ideally I'd like to get the process finished by tonight, and have him shipping the saddle by Monday. HOPING!

Then I can head down to the US and pick up my new gear! And stop spending money... : P

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Consistently inconsistent.

My pony. Is probably put on this earth to drive me crazy. He does a lovely job of it, and some days, days like yesterday, I'm left with nothing but a desire to roll my eyes and lovingly curse him. He is so the bane of my existence, the one who pushes me, the one who knows exactly how to drive me crazy.

We haven't been a true partnership for very long, but I'm really starting to learn and understand who he IS.

Yesterday we had our best ride to date. It was nearly perfect. And it was only a week after he was a complete cow (that's said with love!). A week after he made me so irritated with his behavior that we spent 3 hours on the trail arguing. A week after I was certain he'll NEVER learn to accept contact with the bit.

I swear he just never wants to get my expectations of him up...then he might actually have to keep working. ; )

W started us out with an exercise to slow things down. Moon is a rusher. He gets very easily frustrated and decides to either do everything like a wingnut or get cow-y and refuse to listen. So for us, the whole point is to get him having to focus on every little thing that I ask, relax and almost get so bored that he calms down.

He really is an easily frustrated horse. He gets himself so worked up that he just tries to do a billion things at once, hoping that you'll just accept one of them as right and let him carry on. He also has a tendency to run in 'auto-pilot', moving but not actually paying any attention to his rider.

So we started by walking a figure 8, and every time we came to the cross-over point, we halted and performed a turn on the fore. Then walked on, and attempted to leg yield down the long side of the ring.

At first he was all over the place, but as we kept doing it, he started to become a very responsive horse. I'd just lift and give the slightest touch of the rein and leg and he'd take a big step over with his haunches. He began to prepare for the halts by slowing, and in turn we had beautiful transitions.

Never mind that, but W told me to think about doing a turn on the fore whenever he would drift out of the circle or when we started to do the figure 8's at a trot...and THIS improved our change in directions 100-fold!

Why? Because I had practiced the turn on the fore at a halt, I was able to memorize and understand the aids. Those same aids at a trot on the figure 8 gives me the change in bend that I need.

: O ...as we trotted slowly, rhythmically and properly changed directions multiple times without falling apart, I realized we had finally achieved BROKE. This was W's definition, and until today, we just couldn't get it.

I was grinning. We had it. We were finally broke.

And then he amazed me with the most fluid and balanced leg yielding I'd ever felt. THIS was another one of those things I'd struggled with over the years in group lessons. And suddenly, on my own pony I just felt it. I asked, he gave and we danced sideways and forwards across the arena, almost floating.

I was grinning even bigger.

W called out "Trust him. Give him more rein".

So I did.

And Moon brought his head and neck forward and picked up the excess.

: O

Gulp.

Did he just...

...accept and seek out contact?!

: O

Over and over again that lesson, he rode on contact with his neck long and low. He did it while being rhythmic, not rushing, listening to my aids and really engaging.

I was stunned and pleased and flabbergasted.

Last week, this same horse was pawing the air, jerking the reins, throwing his head and being an obstinate cow. Today, he was performing beautiful training level moves, with suppleness and contact with the bit.

Does my horse have a split personality?

No. I think, though the experiment and controls are wrongly set up, that there's a lot of big differences that made this week so amazing. And these things, are my clues and directors to how we proceed with our training.

1) Last week I stopped letting him get his way. I'm sure that our "great debate" let him know that I wasn't going to let him push me around
2) Changing the lesson to be a lot of different requests, changing and requiring more attention helped him focus
3) Practicing and riding in between our lessons. This horse CAN NOT have a week off and WILL forget everything he's learned
4) I cleaned his new bridle on Monday and when I put it on him decided to adjust where the bit lies in his mouth because he was really mouthy when I put it in. He's only been wearing this new bridle for about 2 weeks and I'm a little suspicious that the bit was too high for his liking previously (it wasn't too high by standards, but every horse is unique).
5) Tying back to the bridle adjustment, I noticed he tossed his head when I was doing up the nose-band. So I loosened it to the last hole and he seemed a lot more happy.

While I don't think the bridle adjustments were the be-all-end-all, I think they likely helped us out a bit.

It was pretty hilarious when after a pretty successful run through the figure 8, W had us stop, and suddenly from a halt he sprung into a trot without any request from me, and was trotting all proud around the arena before I reeled him in. He was LOVING this new 'contact' and 'long and low' thing!

How did we end the lesson?

W asked us to try a canter.

: O

We tried, though he had to rush into it (very fast trot) and unfortunately could only maintain a stride or two before falling out of it. Really, on a circle it is very hard for him, and I have to admit that the close proximity of the arena walls leave me a little anxious as well! Cantering in a big open field? Sure! There's nothing to hit. : P

After a few tries we returned to doing figure 8's to recollect his attention and finish the lesson on a successful note. He came back nicely, and we finished with him reassuring me that the lesson was not a fluke. He had it in him, and with continued work, he will become an amazing dressage partner.

W sent us home with homework to practice our canter on a circle, if only for a few strides. This will be hard since we haven't the footing in our ring and I'm nervous to canter in a field without being able to see for holes and other dangers. I have a feeling that canter work may have to wait until the end of the month when we have a nice sand arena to practice in.

And thanks to Julie for the nice blog comment from yesterday. It was the perfect reminder that while we might not have all the perfect gear or the newest stuff, we're wonderful in who we are and how we treat each other. As she says "Just be the happy go lucky, horse obsessed person that you are and I bet people will envy you and your relationship with your pony :)".

: ) We all are pretty special, aren't we? Time to go hug your partner, new saddle or not! : )

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Making the 'right' stride

After today's lesson, I was left feeling a little...contemplative.

Yesterday I was writing a new post about being more dedicated to the sport and to riding. Specifically, to dressage on a competitive level.

I asked W today what she thought was a good price for a used Isabell. She responded that for the clearout prices, why not just get new?

I must say at that moment, I was a little embarrassed. I felt like the poor kid. The kid who can't afford a fancy new saddle, even if it WAS on sale. Thankfully, my embarrassment was forgotten during the lesson, and returned to my thoughts as I was driving home.

I was thinking about how I'll be the kid in the tie-stall, where all the other horses are in lavish box stalls. The kid with only one turnout blanket, so Moon goes naked if it needs a wash. The person who can't afford to go to the fancy clinics, and who's horse has brown stirrups on a black saddle. Who has an old pair of paddock boots and no fancy winter riding gloves.

Then I asked myself why the heck it mattered? Was I trying to impress anyone? Did I need a fancy brand or new gear? Was that my purpose here?

Realistically, I want something that's more comfortable for Moon and I. That assists our progression. Whether that's a brand new saddle or a used one, as long as it's in good condition, it doesn't make a difference. Truth is, 6 months from now, the new saddle will look just like anything I could buy used.

Some people would say it's just a few hundred dollars. It should be true. I have a great permanent job and make a decent living. Unfortunately, I realised I can't dedicate myself financially to dressage.

Why?

Because the very reason I am where I am with Moon, is because I've never, and likely can never, make horse's my number 1 priority financially speaking.

And THAT may be what's gotten away from me lately.

The truth is, more then anything I want to build in the country, and have a space for my horses on my own land. That inhales a whopping $1200 a month at the moment, without even adding in the costs of actually DOING something to the land.

I've always dreamed of getting my Master's degree, and have finally found a field that I have a passion for. This year is the start of that experiment, and required $1200 for this term, and about $2000 for next term.

Add in the day to day expenses, and there's not a whole lot left to spare. What there is, I've decided it's best put towards our riding education, NOT a lot of fancy tack. Which means that I have my lesson fees and the cost of Moon's board. And then there's just pennies left over.

Could I give up some of my other priorities to focus on buying a pretty new saddle? Sure. But is it worth giving up a higher education, a beautiful country home and acreage? No. Gear will, gear must, always come second. Yes, someday's it will leave me feeling like the poor kid. Care to notice that I wear the same pair of breeches to every lesson? Guess what. I only own one pair, and haven't had the spare cash to buy a second pair.

Today, I've realised that I'm dedicating myself to the sport, but I'm not making funding it my priority. Besides a new saddle, I'll get a girth that makes it useable. Everything else will just have to be. I have everything I need to get by, and the RIDING is more important then all the fancy gear in the world.

Yes, I am a financially restricted rider. But you know what? It doesn't make me any less of a horse person.

Is that you Winter?




(fear not, these are last year's pictures!)


I was hoping, foolishly, NOT to be the first one to post of winter. But, seeing as I do live in one of the coldest places on earth, it shouldn't come as a surprise.

Wikipedia informs me that in fact, my city is the COLDEST city on EARTH with a population over 600k. I think that also means we're the craziest population on earth. I mean, winter starts in October with the first snow and ends in April...but I HAVE experienced snow in mid-May. To make you just FEEL how cold it gets here, in 1996 (yes, I was around) with the windchill it felt like -70.78 F (57 C).

THAT is why riding outside in the winter here just doesn't really happen.

And THIS is probably my favorite quote:
Spring and fall tend to be rather contracted seasons, each averaging little over six weeks. In general the weather during these seasons is highly variable, and rapidly changing. For example, temperatures in Winnipeg in April have ranged from −26.3 °C (−15 °F) to 34.3 °C (94 °F), and in October from −20.6 °C (−5 °F) to 30.5 °C (87 °F).


Hence, we had super hot weather last weekend (86 F or 30 C) and today I had to scrape the frost off my windshield (below -1 C or 30 F). It seems as though our 6 fleeting weeks of Fall have already passed us by...

And Winter is staring us in the face.

Last week the nights started to cool and I had tossed a sheet on Moon. When I peeled it off a couple days later, I was surprised to find clumps of hair on it. Yes, he was losing his summer coat and getting ready for winter already. It's kinda sad.

Today, I had to pack a jacket to take to my lesson. I thought about grabbing some gloves and earwarmers too! The one thing I didn't have, was a new saddle.

: (

'Cause I'm still waiting. The fellow agreed to the price and said he'd send me the paypal info so I could email the money over...and I haven't heard from him since. That was Monday night. I'm hoping he's just busy or having trouble getting a hold of his friend with the paypal account. Not that he's bailed on the deal. *sigh* I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

In the mean time, I'll switch back to my medium-wide gullet and try my best. I didn't get out to the barn yesterday despite my resolve, as it was beyond cold. There were crazy strong winds whipping out of the north, and there's ZERO way Moon would have paid any attention to me since we ride in wide open prairie. Never mind the fact that I'd have an awful ear ache and be freezing. Nope, I wussed out. We still managed 2 practice rides since our last lesson, which is better then nothing. After the way I was pushing him last week, I'm interested to see his attitude today.

Let's just say I'm hoping he's not as frosty as the weather!

14 Days until the big move, just 2 weeks to go till a warm barn and sheltered arena.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Committing to riding. For real.

My first saddle, my Blackburn, was not an expensive saddle. At the time, I didn’t own a horse, I didn’t foresee myself owning a horse anytime soon, and I was a broke student with loans, no job or job prospects, and unfinished education and living at home with my parents. I had debated buying a Wintec 500 AP, but the price-point was beyond my reach. The Blackburn was a nice looking semi-synthetic saddle, which came with all of the dressings for a very reasonable price brand new. It also offered the changeable gullet system, which I needed since I didn’t own a horse.

Even today, I don’t regret buying the Blackburn. I couldn’t have afforded the Wintec, and I likely wouldn’t have had any saddle otherwise. That saddle has been on multiple horses over the years, and has given me a lot of good hours. It holds fond memories of the closest thing I ever thought I’d get to having my own horse. And even after all of that, it doesn’t show a ton of wear and is a pretty comfortable saddle.

Unfortunately, or perhaps, fortunately, we have outgrown it. Not in physical sizing, but in where we’re going.

I haven’t been saving for a new saddle. I’m embarrassed to admit that unlike my usual way of waiting and saving for the things I want, my spending has been rather ad-hoc when it comes to Moon. Granted, I’ve never touched my savings account until now.

I’m justifying it by the fact that I’m A. Not buying a very expensive saddle, and B. Moon and I both need a saddle that fits properly if we have any hope of making forward progress in dressage this winter.

Yes, I could wait. But that would mean that my winter spent at W’s would be ‘wasted’, or at least not used to its fullest potential. I can save AFTER to rebuild my savings that were depleted. I mean, it’s not like it’s $2k. But I still feel guilty.

It seems to me that horses consume money. I’ve always sort of chuckled when people make that claim, but was certain that realistically, people just spent money.

…Now I can honestly say, Moon consumes money. Because it’s my passion and my dream, and to work towards a goal requires certain sacrifices, in this case, to spend a bit of my savings on a much needed saddle.

Anyone who knows my riding past, knows that I’ve never really committed to it. Mainly, because other financial draws have always taken precedence. I’ve been the on-again-off-again rider. Take lessons, stop. Lease a horse, stop. Work with horses, stop. That’s not the way to get good at a sport. Dedication is required. Concentration. Persistence.

I’m tired of being the uncommitted rider. Tired of it. Tired of making excuses, of making other priorities. I’m tired of dreaming and but not actually pushing myself to get there. THIS is the area in my life that I’ve never gotten serious about. That I’ve never committed to or pushed myself in. That stops TODAY. A new saddle will be my commitment. My promise.

To what? To get serious in my dressage training. In my riding. To commit to MoonSox.

MY STATEMENT:
Today I dedicate myself to 1 lesson a week with Coach W.
Today I dedicate myself to practice at LEAST 3 other days a week.
Today I dedicate myself to no longer buying low-quality equipment. It’s time to start a horse-gear fund.
Today I dedicate myself to competition. We WILL compete next year.
Today I dedicate myself to being an athlete. No longer “just a rider”, I’m dedicated to where I’m going.
Today I dedicate myself to Dressage.
Today I dedicate myself to success.
Today, more then anything, I dedicate myself to my “Manitoba MoonSox”.


ESTIMATED COSTS FOR 2012 SHOW SEASON:
One time fees:
Dressage Winnipeg Membership : $25
Manitoba Horse Council Membership : $50
Equine Canada Membership : $10
Equine Canada Bronze Sport Licence: $20 ($25 subsidy from MHC)
TOTAL = $105

Average Show Fees:
Per Test Fee : $25
Stabling Fee : $45/day or $65/weekend
Admin Fee : $25
Drug Testing Fee : $3.50
Dressage Canada Levy : $7
MHC Levy : $3
TOTAL (assuming 3 classes) = $178.50

OR

Average Schooling Show Fees:
Per Walk/Trot Test Fee : $15
Per Training+ Test Fee : $18
Stabling Fee : $45/day or $65/weekend
Admin Fee : $25
Drug Testing Fee : $3.50
Dressage Canada Levy : $7
MHC Levy : $3
TOTAL (assuming 3 classes) = $154.50

OR

Fun Show Fees:
Dressage Test Fee : $10
Fun Class Fee : $5
Haul-In Fee : $10
Admin Fee : $15
MHC Levy : $3
TOTAL (assuming 3 classes) = $58

SEASON TOTAL = $351

Required Gear:
Short shirt and collar
Dressage show jacket
Show gloves

Monday, September 12, 2011

Still waiting!

You'd think that the fellow with the Isabell getting back to me would mean the waiting was over...especially since the shipping price dropped to $50...

...except he quoted me the price in his earlier ad, so it was $50 higher then expected. So here comes me asking if he'll drop it to his lower price...so now I'm waiting to hear back from him to see if we have a final deal. If he agrees to the price I sent him, it's done and sold! And I'll have my new saddle in 2 weeks! If he says no...hmmm... ???

So I wait on that.

On the other hand, I did get an email from Wintec about 5 minutes after the fellow emailed me, saying if I sent them some pics, they could probably confirm if it's a genuine Isabell for me. Once I've got it (IF I get it!), I'll find the serial number and check that out with them as well. See if it really was just 4 years old.

Schnieder's emailed me as well, to say that my pony blankets have shipped out today! Yippee! And nothing was backordered or out of stock! Yippee!

The weather was pretty miserable today, so no pony riding, but tomorrow I'm aiming to be out at the barn working the MoonSox. And hopefully I can tell him about his new saddle! Too bad I won't be able to afford a girth for it anytime soon : P

Hmmmm...anyone interested in a brand new, never used Wintec CAIR girth 50"? Trade ya for a 30" dressage girth... : ) Which I'll hopefully be needing...

Fingers crossed!!!!!!!!!

A Virtue?

Patience. Gees, I hate waiting.

Waiting for my stuff to come in. Waiting for Moon to move to W's (just 16 days!). Waiting to find out if I'll get my new wintec saddle...(the fellow's taking it in today in a smaller box).

I did find out that it's a good thing I bought my Schneider's blanket when I did! It's sold out when I checked today! Phew. And I noticed that all the prices I was charged are less then the posted prices on their webpage! Not a lot, but $5 or so. Every bit helps!

I also awoke to an email from Curvon Baker. They said if I return the sheet to them, they'll measure it. If in fact it's mislabelled, they'll replace it with a 76". Of course, now I have to see if they'll refund my shipping costs if it IS their mistake. I don't see why I should be out for their error! Still, potential good news.

This evening I hope to get out for a ride on Moon, but have a few things to get done first. The sun is setting by 7:45 or so now, so it might be a little difficult. That or I'm going to start riding in the dark : P Dangerous though...WHEN are we moving again?!

I started on my Christmas list, which includes all the gear I'll need to show next year. Plus the textbooks to study for my Equine Canada certification. Yes, still horse-centric.

I'm sure you guys will hear the saddle news as soon as I do! Ger. Waiting is SO irritating!

...I should mention, I'm typing this while on hold for over 35 minutes so far! Who would have thought you'd be expected to remember your online password from you University account from 6 years ago? Really?! Aurgh. And you'd think you could just use the "forgot password" button...except it's tied to a university email account that you also don't remember the password for...

: P Go figure.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Go Figure!

I've spent the last two days worrying about my recent winter blanket purchase. Namely, if it's going to be too small.

Desperate to make myself feel better, I went out to the barn this morning with my 76" Baker sheet. I figured Moon must have lost a bit of weight from when I got it in the spring (since his 78" Baker is a couple inches too big), and would fit perfect now. Assuring me that the blanket I just ordered from Schnieder's would fit perfect (not being from the US, shipping it back would be expensive and time consuming).

The 78" Baker Sheet. Note the bit of folds in it, and the fact it extends past his point of tail...

When I showed up at the barn, I noticed some shoulder rubs from his 78" Kool Coat. Okay, they run big, but the 76" Baker is going to fit PERFECT.

...THIS is what it looked like:

Um...that doesn't even CLOSE to fit! Can you say "Belly-Shirt"?
Or exposed hinny?!

AURGH!

I drove home in agony.

I sat on the couch, and googled every bit of blanket fitting information I could find. I know that they can be hard to get to fit right, but normally once you FIGURE OUT the right size, you're set. But here I am with a 76" and two 78" blankets, and NEITHER fits right. One's too small, one too big. I had a 74" before, and it was WAY too small.

I ponder. I worry. I consider calling Schiender's. I worry some more. WHY can't I seem to figure this out?!

I looked at my pictures of Moon in the 78" blanket. I look at him in the 76".


...and realise there's ZERO way that there's just 2" of difference between them. Is there?

Into the basement I go, lay out the 76" Baker which I brought home. Double check the tag and sticker (which I kept). 76".

Pull out a tape measure...

...74".

: O

Labelled 76", measures 74".

...maybe it's NOT me?! Maybe I've been comparing a 74" and a 78" all this time!

Which means a 76" I ordered should be PERFECT (assuming it's labelled right!)

Yippee!

THIS is why it's SOO hard to be a new horse owner! If I had more experience, maybe I would have caught on sooner. Or not.

: ) I've sent an email out to Baker to see if they'll do anything about the mislabelled blanket, since it's too old to return now.


____

In other news, still no word back from the Isabell fellow on shipping. *sigh* I just hope someone closer doesnt' scope it up in the mean time. : (

I did take the time to ride MoonSox while I was out at the barn, deciding that it's time to get serious. I'm wearing thin on being bullied around by his antics since his tantrum on Wednesday, and have decided I'm going to start pushing a little harder from now on.

It started on our trail ride on Thursday, when I refused to let him NOT stand still. He tossed and moved and sidestepped, but FINALLY starting standing still and waiting when I told him to. What was my method? Just keep asking. Keep returing him to his previous position. If he backed, leg-on. If he drove forward, close fingers and don't give. Sit deep and solid. And keep doing this until he figured out he couldn't get away with it.

So today, we hit the trails again since they're easier to work on. Unfortunately, he's REALLY sore in his front feet without boots. Hopefully just another week...

I decided to do as Wendy had done, and ask him to yield his head down and accept contact. Wow can he be stubborn.

He did his mini rears again. He tried every evasion tactic known. He tried going forward, back and to the sides. He tried going faster. He tried yanking the reins from my hands. He tried throwing his head in the sky. He tried bracing against me. He EVEN resorted to both snorting, air pawing AND squeeling at one point. The squeeling caught me off guard, as did the snorting, but I think he was just beyond frustrated that nothing was working.

The nice thing, was that it gave me a great opportunity to think about relaxation. Every time I brought him to a walk, and reminded myself to relax my body. Then I asked him to yield his head. If he threw a fit, I rode through it, thinking about MYSELF and not what he was doing. "Stay relaxed" I'd tell myself, not tensing my muscles (or losening them if I already had). Slowly, he'd get tired of fighting and soften. At first he wouldn't hold it. But after the 20th or so stop, he began to hold it longer.

Of course, he'd hold it for a couple of seconds, and then decide it was enough and try to walk off. Or yank the reins from me. Nope. Not good enough.

We'd stand there longer. It was definately a game of patience and persistance. Perhaps stubbornness.

At our final stop, he yielded and held it for about 5 seconds. Doesn't seem long, but for us, it WAS. That was all I asked for before sending him forward.

What was nice, was his walk-trot transitions at the end weren't accompanied by head tossing. He moved out nicely. His head wasn't as far in the sky. Yeah, he was probably still gapping at the mouth, but beggers can't be choosers.

Back at the barn, he was lathered in sweat. It was literally running down his face. Oh well, lessons are difficult to learn.

I on the other hand (while sweaty) felt pretty darn good. I think I was perfectly within the gentle but insistent behavior I wanted from myself, pushing us both, but never being heavy handed. I have to say, I'm pretty pleased. Though next time, word to the wise: "GLOVES". I've got a BEAUTIFUL blister on my rein finger now : P Aurgh can he ever be a cow when he wants to be! I love him, but man o' man does he have a stubborn streak.

We even got one AMAZING gallop and canter in. He'd done so well, that on a nice grassy stretch I let him out. He has SOOO much power under all of that tubbyness.

He surged. The ground whipped by. I asked him to lower to a canter, and I'm not sure if it's just me, or him, but it feels like he has a huge ground consuming canter. I swear it's normally: "rrrroooccckkkkinghorse", but with him it's "rrrroooocccccccckkkkinggggghhhhhoooorrrrrsssseee". Each stride seems to last FOREVER!

So that was today. The next time I'm out, same task. We did some side to side yielding too, and he improved there too. But man, he fights at the beginning of every request!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Shipping Mayhem

So the saddle that is just perfect, was priced at $175 to ship!! Without it even leaving the US! Crazy. So now I've sent the fellow back out to find a smaller box and try and jam it in to hopefully reduce the shipping costs. My courbette shipped for about $65, so I'm certain it can be done. The wintec is a little larger, but still not crazy so.

USPS.com tells me they'll ship up to a 30"x24"x24" 20lb. package for $91. UPS.com says they could do a 24"x24"x24" 20lb package for $74. Seriously, WHY can't he get THIS pricing! Can't we squeeze it into a littler box?

Anyway, I'm keeping my fingers crossed, but it's not looking good. Insert sad face. : (

I also bought Moon's winter blanket, and am now nervous it won't fit. I remeasured him 6 times yesterday and never got the same number twice. His KoolCoat is a 78" and seems big. But after I ordered his SStack blanket, I read the KoolCoat is larger then printed. His 76" Baker sheet was too small, his 78" *maybe* a big large? But I think they run small...

I'm going to try on his 76" Baker again now that it's summertime and see if he's lost enough weight to make it fit better. I recall it was too short in the belly drop (the SS blankets have a longer drop on the larger sizes, starting at 76"), and the length would have been okay if it wasn't for his protruding belly. I know 74" was JUST a little too short on him before. His high wither is also an issue...

And his SSTack blanket doesn't have buckles in the front, so I can't enlarge it if it's too small! Oye! I'm thinking I'll just hope for the best and leave my order as it is...Of all their blankets, I like this one the best, and the larger size (only 2") isn't available until November, so I wouldn't get it till winter is upon us. The other styles either aren't available in his size, are crazy expensive ($200) or they don't have my MUST HAVE features. And I kinda like the idea of a solid front to keep the weather out, though he'll have to get used to blankets being pulled on...

So, Mr. Moon (who hopefully will fit it!) is getting a:

StormShield Versatility Bellyband Medium Weight Turnout (2010 model...which looks like the 2011 but with 1 less D-ring for the hood). It only comes in black w/tan trim, which is fine. He'll be warmer in black anyway.

1 year warranty, 1200D, waterproof/windproof/breathable. Teflon-coated, 220 grams of insulation and a nice warm bellyband! (he does have a bit of a tummy!)

A matching StormShield Fitted Hood (2011 model b/c otherwise it'd have to be green and not match. Eww. And there was only $5 price difference)

A bottle of blanket wash, and I splurged and bought a rainproof medium weight sheet for my dog too ('cause she comes snowmobiling).

Total price was just under $200, which was exactly where I wanted to be.

I've read some AMAZING reviews of the Schneider's tack blankets, and thought I'd give it a go. They're less pricey then a Rambo or a Kensington, have a 1 year warranty and people swear they they stay waterproof.

I also find that Moon's blankets tend to drift really far back with the neck openings being too large. I like the "Fitted V-Free" design of the SS blankets, because they allow you to adjust and tighten the neck openings, and the V-Free offers more ample wither spacing for less rubbing.

I opted for the hood (wasn't going to originally) because they warn that rain and wind can get through the fitted neck-line in the adjustable blankets. Since I WANTED the adjustment, I figured I'd just pay the extra costs for the neck cover. Hopefully it'll keep him nice and snug!

: ) It feels good to spoil Mr. Moon (again). Unfortunately it looks like I won't be able to afford to buy him a rainsheet and liner like I had hoped, but such is life. He'll grow a bit of a coat regardless. If I get desperate, I might buy him a light sheet and then use his cooler as a liner...

I'll keep everyone posted on my own experiences with the SS Blankets. : ) Maybe next year I'll snag the missing sizes and weights on clearance.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Harvest Moon

T and I went trail riding this evening, and let me say it was wonderful. We rode so long, that by the time we got back, the moon was high in the sky. The harvest moon of September perhaps? All I know is that I LOVE being on my own Moon.

I talked with T about Moon's tantrum yesterday and our determination to be patient, respectful and fair in our training. I don't believe in natural horsemanship. There's nothing natural about riding a horse. BUT, I do believe in honest and fair training. I'm not going to crank his gaping mouth shut with a flash, even if it would "correct" the problem. I'm not putting a harsher bit in his mouth, just to get him to respond faster. I won't pull on spurs to get him to move off my leg quicker, and I won't try to push him into do things we haven't had the background and prep to do. That's not fair to him.

But that doesn't mean that sometimes I don't get frustrated with what feels at times like slow or frustrating progress. The backslides. The tough spots.

I use that frustration as determination to push on. We're nearing 5 months of training, and we HAVE come a long way. Yes, we could have used 'devices' to achieve a lot of our goals quicker, but I'm looking to build a foundation. And a relationship.

Telling T about how much I wish he understood that I'd never hurt him, so he can soften and relax, she told me about the fellow she bought him off of. Apparently, he told her that he could only be ridden in a curb bit, as he is uncontrollable otherwise. He actually sold him WITH the curb bit, and for the first while, T used it on him until she realized he was a sweet horse, and switched to a snaffle.

But it's clear, that fellow's training had a negative effect on him. And now it's up to me to rehab him into a soft horse. It's there. I know it. There's nothing "uncontrollable" in my horse. He just needs time and patience.

On to more exciting topics...

We had a great trail ride. Can't wait till next week.

It *looks* like we may have found our Wintec Isabell! I found a great price in the States, the fellow will ship, accept paypal, and from the pictures, it's in pretty good shape. Not immaculate or brand new, but a good 50% less then I could buy the old version new for. And about 33% less then other Wintecs (some in worse condition) I've come across. It might just be the one...

The fellow is pricing out shipping for me tomorrow, and if it's good... :O Sandra might have a new saddle in two weeks!

...except she can't afford a girth for it : P

A pic! Or eight!




"Cow"-pony.

So I need to tell the tale of yesterday’s lesson.

As we all know by now, Mr. Moon does not do well with having time out of the training ring. He goes from becoming loose, soft and listening, to stubborn, obstinate and passive aggressive. And locked up tight.

Yesterday was his first day ‘back in training’ since the leg fiasco. It started well (sarcasm) when he began calling to all the horses in the paddock. Keep in mind, we’re in an indoor arena. Nether the less, he called.

And they didn’t call back. Until suddenly, something happened in the neighbour’s yard, and all the horses were screaming and calling. Moon joined right in.

He was tense. He was ware-rabbit-mouthed, yanking on the bit, hollow through the back, racing and leaning against all of my aids. Ger.

I had a really good realization that when I get frustrated, I tense. And I actually tighten my thigh muscles so much that I lift my seat out of the saddle. Which is the EXACT opposite of what Moon needs me to do. Which is relax, be patient and wait for him to settle. Maybe correct his bad behavior. Instead, I just brace back.

After a number of circling exercises and walk-trot transitions, coupled with probably 30 or so calls from Mr. Moon (I mean, head in the air WHINNYING) in about 15 minutes, W called for us to halt.

He was about 30 seconds away from having a melt down, and I was 20 seconds away from beating him silly or bawling my eyes out. Neither of us really knew which. (seriously, I’d never beat my horse, but you all know what I mean).

So she pulled on her chaps and told me to dismount.

It was schooling time.

Yes, there is a little piece of me that gets disappointed that I can’t manage to break him of it on my own. But sometimes, it’s nice to defer to someone with more experience, watch how they handle it, and learn for the next time. I value having a coach as awesome as W who will mount up and show me and him what we need.

It was…interesting.

W, who is a very light, classical dressage rider got to experience a full-blown Moon temper tantrum. He threw his head back. He refused to stand. He shoved and braced and pulled and fought. Obstinate. At one point, when he refused to stand and yield at the poll, he gave her a “mini-rear”, barely lifting his front feet off the ground in threat. He did that twice to her.

I adore W. She never got angry. But she got firm.

When he lifted his front feet, she kicked him around and forward. When he wouldn’t stand, she’d refuse to soften the aids until he complied. When he didn’t stop calling, he got a smack and more insistent aids. When he leaned, she leaned back. He was NOT going to get his way, and he was NOT going to push her around.

He spent 30 minutes fighting her. Doing everything possible not to listen. When he softened, so did she. So he went back to bracing. And she kept on asking him to soften. They trotted. He called. He got a smack and more complex work. It went on for a long time.

…until he finally admitted defeat.

He stayed ‘soft’ (soft for a worked-up Moon). He slowed his pace. He listened to the aids.

So W hoped off. Moon was dripping in sweat, purely from being worked up. He had butt butter and had soaked through his pad. The reins were covered in froth and even his ears were sweaty.

She told me that he needs to learn that he can’t push his rider around. When he gets worked up, his answer is to take control and bully his rider around. That’s not allowed. Clearly it’s worked for him in the past. She thinks he used it in the past as a defense mechanism to prevent heavy handedness on his soft mouth, and now it’s his answer to anything. When he decides things are going to be his way, he just tries to force you to comply.

Time for me to be more direct. He KNOWS now that I can be soft and gentle on the bit. But he also needs to know that when he’s being a bully, I WILL remind him of his place and who he has to listen to. Gentle but firm. Soft but insistent. The increasing aids rule.

W did say that at least, thanks to all of our training, he at least is AWARE of what the aids mean, and when you tell him he must listen to them, he knows and complies with the correct behaviour. It's convincing him he has to listen!

So I got back on.

Other then 3 calls, he went wonderfully. In the video I watched back, I can see I’m crazy rigid in my arms. I look tense. So does he. But we were moving better. Guess that’s why we school. I know we have a long road demanding of patience ahead. But we’ve got all winter to work on it. And work on it we shall. Heck, we're being spoiled this winter, and I daren't waste it!

On a good note, I got to try W’s Wintec Isabell on Moon for the entire ride.

Wow. It was sooo comfortable. I loved it. My legs were FINALLY in the right position. I felt deep in the saddle. After the lesson, the marks on Moon showed that it was fitting him well. Hmm…funny too, since W measured him as a medium or medium-narrow gullet…weird.

I LOVED that saddle. I rode in one many years ago, and they’re just so comfortable. For me and Moon. They claim it’s the CAIR panels, which I was nervous about getting because they say they get hard in the cold, but W assures me the barn and tack room never get that cold. Since they have like 5 of them, I’ll trust her judgment…

So I went back to searching for a wintec.

…and may have found one. Just waiting on a shipping quote.

: )

And tonight, a trail ride with T! Yippee! Hopefully the BF is MIA, and we can enjoy one another's company. It'll be sad to not be at T's anymore, but I know she'll stop by to check up on us. And I don't want to miss any more training opportunities.

Now to find that medium weight blanket!
Preference between these two saddles?
VTEK Marathon Versatility BellyBand