Monday, April 9, 2018

Always Learning

Its been a month since we moved and not only am I a lot happier, both the ponies and I have learned a lot.  Like Cinder learned how to open the window in her stall, and that she can reach the latch for Peebs' stall from it and she learned how to open that too.  So far she hasn't learned how to open the snap I've put on the latch.

Don't let the innocent face fool you
I got her a hybrid halter and have started doing more ground work with her.  She wasn't bad, per se, but if she did get naughty, I didn't have much control with either the regular halter or rope halter I had.  And I couldn't find a stud chain small enough for her regular halter.  So the hybrid halter with knots was perfect.  She's learned how to pick up her feet while in the cross ties and that holding her hind feet up for more than 10 seconds won't kill her.  The ponies got their feet done last week and she got a "much improved" from the farrier. I've also started working with her and the clippers again and have pulled a little bit of her mane.  She was pretty sure that was the end of the world until I stuffed her face with cookies.  Then it was tolerable.

Peebs has made new friends (but that's not something new).  We've been turning him out to play with Helix, a 7yr old mustang.  Both boys tend to play hard, so there was some concern about them inflicting serious bodily harm on each other, but so far so good. Helix likes to be alpha, but Peebs doesn't really care as long as he can chew on his buddy. Helix seems fine with it, but will occasionally rear and strike at Peebs, who doesn't give a shit.  I wanted to start putting my ponies out with other horses so they don't become too attached to each other.  They were the only horses in the barn for a couple of weeks while everything was getting finished, and I was afraid of them getting too attached to each other. It doesn't seem like that's happened, thank god! No clingy herd bound ponies for me!

I've also learned that riding in a flat arena is awesome!  Old barn's outdoor was on a bit of a slope for drainage, and I didn't really realize how much it affected my riding.  You were constantly going either uphill or downhill and now that I'm on a flat arena it's so much easier to find the right balance with Peebs.  When we used to jump, we pretty much always did lines going uphill, so only in one direction, and now we're going back and forth in the lines and can school a lot more. And when Peebs gets strung out and heavy on the forehand, it doesn't feel like he's going to fall on his face going downhill, because there is no downhill!  I love it!

Monday, March 26, 2018

The Show Must Go On

Or rather, the shows are going on!  Show season is just about ready to start here in the PNW and I had tentatively planned for our first one to be April 21-22.  With the move and my less than ideal mental/emotional state, I kinda put show plans on the back burner. But once the ponies settled in and I started getting my routine down at the new barn, I realized I do really want to show and there's no reason we can't be ready by mid-April.

I've jumped Peebs a few times at the new barn and did some work over ground poles as well.  At my old barn I could leave fences up in the outdoor pretty much all the time but since NB only has an indoor, they have to be taken down after each use.  So that's limited how much and what I jump, but so far, I've found that I'm more definite in what we school when I have to set it fresh every time. I don't get lazy and leave the same course up for weeks. 

I had my first lesson at NB on Saturday and it was one of the best lessons I've had in a long while.  We didn't do anything groundbreaking, just an outside line and a single diagonal. We focused on our flat working coming into the line and it made a huge difference.  Peebs was much more adjustable and balanced when he was in front of my leg and connected. I could sit up and let him flow down the line instead of trying to hold him; he'd land straight and on the correct lead so I didn't have to worry about a lead change afterwards.  We actually quit about 10 minutes early because he was being so good and trainer and I didn't want to push it.

So I feel ready and confident (at the moment, I'm sure that will change because horses) sending in our entry for the show in April.  We're moving up to the 2' hunters/eq and will also do two 2' medal classes.  This show also has an 18" hunter derby, but it's at the end of the show on Sunday and I'm not sure how much energy Peebs, or I, will have so I'm still going back and forth about pre-entering it. On one had, HUNTER DERBY, but entry fees and's a tough choice.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Settling In

Tomorrow will be two weeks since we moved to the new barn. I think I've settled into our new rhythm and routine.  While everyone at the new barn has been super nice and welcoming, it was definitely a major adjustment for me.  Side note: when moving out of barn that you've been in for 11yrs, don't schedule it for the day before your period starts because not only will you have all the feelings about leaving, you'll also have all the hormones. 0/10 don't recommend.

I've been on either partial or self care with my horses for 13 years.  New Barn is full care and I'm having a hard time giving up the control of my ponies care.  NB doesn't bed their stalls as deeply as I would like, but its ok.  The ponies are doing great, and every other aspect of the barn is awesome.  They feed what I ask them to feed, they clean stalls twice a day, they give out treats and love on the ponies. I just feel like a helicopter parent dropping their kid off at their first day of kindergarten.  I'm know I'll grow to love it, but it will be an adjustment.  And all the hormones and feelings don't help any either.

Hi!!! Let's be friends!

When we first moved in they had a corner of the arena blocked off to house their goats with a buck they were breeding them too. Predictably Peebs was in love with the goats and wanted to be their new best friend.  Cinder didn't really care about them; she just liked eating their hay. During our first ride Peebs was pretty sure he had to focus on the goats more than anything else, but since the goats left he's been fine. Out the back of the arena you can see the pastures, and the neighbor's cows so sometimes the cows are very interesting to look at as well.  I can't even imagine what Peebs is going to do when he can get turned out in the pasture next to them.

Other neighbor's pond and field

NB is still under construction, like they got my two stalls ready for me to move in and that was it.  They've got another couple of stalls done and this weekend some of the other horses are moving in. They have another small barn on the property and are going to be turning that into the broodmare barn. MG's (barn owner) yearling filly is arriving Sunday afternoon/night, so Cinder will have a playmate. I'm super excited for her to have another baby to grow up with, and for MG and I to navigate baby horse training waters together. Neither one of us has had babies before, so it might be the blind leading the blind.

I still need to work out details for having my trainer come in and give lessons, but so far they seem super accommodating. MG used to event, but is thinking about doing more of the jumpers, so maybe she'll be interested in lessons as well, and hopefully I can have a show buddy again. The dressage rider/trainer in the barn jumps her horse for fun and has said she'd take a lesson with my trainer, and even take her horse to some of the smaller jumper shows as well.  And she offered to come and groom and be my cheering squad at shows for me if she doesn't take her horse.  It's been a long time since I've had someone from my barn offer that.  It's a great feeling to have that support and encouragement. At my old barn, they were happy for me when I showed, but never offered to come and help me or cheer me on unless I asked for help. I think I made a good choice in this place.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Every Chapter Has to End

But that means a new chapter starts, right?  Let's just say things didn't go so great with trying to block out my arena time with the new western trainer at the barn.  In fact it went so awful that after 11 years of boarding there, I'm moving out. I'm still not ok with how things went down, and the aftermath, but I'm excited to move to our new barn next weekend.

Have some adorable pony pics to break up the sadness

The New Barn is owned by the girl that took McKenna, so for those that remember her, I'm sure I'll have updates on her. MG, McKenna's owner, just got a weanling filly that's the same age as Cinder, so we can have baby play time! She also has another mare due to foal this summer.

New Barn is small; MG has her three mares and the baby, and right now there are two other boarders that each have two horses.  They're building more stalls, so there might be a couple more new people, but not many. One of the boarders is a dressage trainer, BS, who I know (how MG found McKenna) and like. Right now BS gives three lessons a week out there, so there's plenty of arena time.  And it sounds like they're ok with me bringing my trainer in for lessons, which is awesome. I was going to haul out to another small barn (that doesn't have any openings, damn it!) that my trainer teaches at if I couldn't bring her in.

The only downsides of New Barn is that it's way way more expensive than what I've been paying and its farther from home. It's full care and I've been on self care.  I won't have to buy bedding or hay, and I won't have to clean stalls.  That means, if I'm sick, or on vacation, or flat just don't want to go to the barn on a given day, I don't have to. My mom, who's the BEST MOM EVER!!!!!!, was so upset and disgusted with Old Barn drama, has offered to help me cover the expense.

So while it sucks ass that I'm leaving a place I considered my second home after 11 years, I'm excited to see what this new chapter brings.  I'm going to be at a barn full of sport horse people after being one of a handful for years. I'm going to a quiet barn, not one full of lesson kids. I'm going to a barn where I don't have to explain how hunter/jumper shows work, or why there aren't warmblood breed shows. I'm going to a barn with my type of horse people.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Beach Ride

I've lived in Oregon for over 13 years, and every year I've said I want to ride on the beach but never did.  That changed Sunday.  Our BM just got a shiny new four horse trailer and was planning a trip to the beach to break it in.  They had an extra spot in the trailer so I jumped at the chance to go. It was a perfect day; 60*, mostly sunny, and no wind.

BM on the pinto, her daughter in the middle, and her husband leading their son on the barn's mini
I figured Peebs would be terrified of the water (he was) and didn't know how he'd react to people, dogs, kites, etc found at the beach.  I had taken my bridle apart to clean Saturday and decided I didn't want to deal with two reins if he was a nutcase so I put my bit converter on the pelham and used one rein. And since Peeb's default spooking stance is to put his head straight in the air, I added a standing martingale.  Bonus, the neck strap of the martingale could also be used as an "Oh Shit" strap if I needed it.

What is this place?!
To get to the beach from the parking lot, you have to ride/walk through and over the sand dunes.  I got on at the parking lot but Peebs felt like a keg of dynamite so I elected to hand walk him through the dunes.  He was pretty nervous, and tried walking over me a couple of times.  Once we came down the steep hill to the beach, he seemed so shell shocked that he kinda shut down for a few minutes.  We walked a couple loops and circles till I felt ok getting on.  I used a large driftwood log that Peebs wasn't sure he could stand next too.  He was up and looky while we started down the beach and held it together for a good five minutes or so till a small girl came running and screaming down the dunes right at us.  He slammed on the breaks and wouldn't move so I hopped off and hand walked him in a few circles.  Once he was ok we continued hand walking down the beach behind everyone else.  He was obviously spooked out his mind, but held it together well and never tried to be bad.  Except when I tried to take him into the water.  He was 100% convinced the waves were deadly and noped out of them as quick as he could. Since he was being so good about holding the rest of his shit together I didn't push it.

About half way down the beach he seemed to realize he wasn't going to die, so I found another log and got back on.  He felt fine at that point, but he wouldn't stand still and was marching much faster than the others.  So we did lots of loops and circles in the deeper sand to slow him down and wear him out. He did keep an eye out on all the people and dogs on the beach, but didn't spook after the initial screaming kid. Once we reached the end of the beach and turned around, he seemed to relax, like he knew we were going home. I felt comfortable to ride on the buckle and drop my stirrups for part of the ride. We were still walking faster than the others, but it wasn't the driven march he had before. KT (BM's teenage daughter) and I did a couple trot sets where both horses were very well behaved. I didn't quite trust Peebs enough to let him canter, but hopefully next time we go I will.

We led the group going back up the hill over the dunes towards the trailer.  The trail is narrow with the dunes rising above you and Peebs very much did not like that.  He doesn't like when he can't see around him and was staring to get antsy.  BM's horse had a little meltdown behind us and when I tried to get Peebs to halt and wait for them, he kept dancing sideways and wouldn't stop.  So I got off, got after him about standing still, then hand walked him the two minutes back to the trailer. I was kinda upset that he couldn't make it the last two minutes, but overall he was much better than I expected.  I had anticipated some running sideways, backwards, bolting, but except at the waves he never tried it. And we had been out for over two hours and I can't blame him for hitting his breaking point. I had a ton of fun and can't wait to go back!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Rise and Grind

Thanks for the comments on my last post.  After putting it out there and talking it out with a friend, I'm in a much better mindset.  I scheduled "my" arena time for this week and the next, and it felt good.  I figured it's also a way to hold myself accountable for my riding.  Like if I'm blocking out the arena for my use, then by god I'm going to use it.  I've got a weekly plan for Peebs in my head with flat days, jump days, and lunge days.

Last Friday when there was supposed to be lessons all day (a couple kids cancelled) I did get up at 4:45 to ride before work. I let our BM know, as she and her family live in the the apartment in the barn.  Her husband usually feeds around 5 and leaves for work at 5:30 so they'd be up anyways.  I got to the barn around 5:20 and was on by 5:40.  We didn't ride long, but had one of our most productive rides in the indoor in a while. I think the fact that the barn was quiet and I had it to myself, let me focus so much more on Peebs and what we needed to work on. I could make circles and figure eights and change directions without having to worry about lesson kids with questionable steering. While I don't want to make 5:30am ride times our normal thing, and looking at the schedule I shouldn't have it, it went a lot better than I thought. Peebs might have other opinions though.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

When Your Happy Place Isn't Happy Anymore

This post is super hard to write, super hard to even think about.  To me, and probably a lot of equestrians, the happiest place on Earth isn't Disney World it's the barn.  It's my second home, my sanctuary, my therapy.  But in the past couple of weeks I've come to realize my happy place isn't making me happy anymore.

This has absolutely NOTHING to do with my horses.  I can not imagine not having Peebs and Cinder.  Peebs is pretty darn close to being even on the list of heart horses with Phoenix. I don't see myself ever selling him.  Cinder is far and away so much more than I imagined a baby would be.  I can't wait to see her develop and be started under saddle.

January 1st marked 11 years that I've been boarding at my barn. So much has changed, but one of things I love most about it, is that it's always been a quiet low key barn.  Even when we had the college team riding, it was never super busy except on practice day once a week. My trainer and a few others come in and give lessons, but there's no resident trainer. But that changed in October. We had an Arabian western pleasure, KH, trainer move 7 horses in, in October and she just moved another two in this month. Most are her own horses, 2 or 3 are client horses in training.  She also gives lessons five day a week.

Before KH moved in Peebs had a double stall.  We had taken a wall down between two stalls.  I wasn't paying for the double stall, but we had room so my BO gave it to me. BO has been cutting back her barn time and letting another boarder become the barn manager, which is fine except BM has had a bit of a steep learning curve.  When BM announced that KH was moving in, she asked about putting Peebs back in a single stall.  I said I was ok with it, since I wasn't paying for the double and BM assured me that she'd try to keep him in a double, and if/when they had to put walls back up he would be the last horse to lose his double stall.  Well, KH moved an "extra" horse into the barn and guess who was the first horse to lose a double stall? Peebs.  And they didn't give me any warning that it was happening, just a text at 8:30pm after they did it.  And it was the night before a show.  I didn't blog about it at the time because I was beyond pissed and couldn't process.  I did send some nasty texts a few days later and after a bit of back and forth BO and BM apologized for how it went down. And they assured me that nothing else would change with KH in the barn. (Side note: a horse moved out that was in a double and Peebs was able to move into it on the 1st)

Only things have really changed. With 9 horses in the barn KH is always there.  There was one day I rode early in the morning and KH showed up at 9am.  When I came back to feed that night she was still riding, having used the arena all day, at 5:30pm.  If I hadn't ridden before 9, I wouldn't have had the arena. She's always doing something, has a horse turned out in the indoor or is riding or teaching. Her dogs are always in the tack room, which she's taken over except for my little corner.  She had little kids and parents asking questions and wanting to play with Cinder when all I want to do is be left alone with my ponies.  She does put her lessons on the board, but the schedule is never correct. I try to time my rides/turnout around her schedule but it's always screwed up. I've been cutting back on my barn time, and ride time because of it and only just noticed.  But once I noticed, it's all I can thing of.

Like I said before, our barn has always been quiet and I've never had to deal with a lesson barn type atmosphere. Its been hard trying to adjust my schedule after having the same one for almost 11yrs. I've talked somewhat with BO and BM and basically my options now are to put my arena time down on the board and schedule myself.  I absolutely hate that idea.  There's not any H/J barns within an hour of me, and I can't afford big barn prices, and I still want to ride with my trainer who doesn't have her own place anymore.  Most of the other boarding barns in the area are either trashy, or out of my price range for two horses.  There's a couple eventing barns local, but I don't want to event. So I'm stuck. I'm not really hopeful that things will change, but until I can find another option, or please sweet baby Jesus KH leaves or gets kicked out, I'll have to come up with some coping strategies. Anyone got some for dealing with a busy lesson barn?