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Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened.

Ride with your heart and soul ~ your horse can feel it


Friday, February 2, 2018

Fear

Now there are definitely times to let fear guide you, if your gut is strongly telling you "be afraid!" I'd advise listening to it.  But here I'm talking about those little niggly fears, the ones that either freeze you or force you.

Over the last few years I had a fear creep up on me, I'm not sure how or why it developed, but I started to really dislike getting on strange horses. By strange I mean ones I hadn't been on.  I could have seen the horse and knew what it was like, but ask me to get on and I just could not.  At first I was talking myself into "oh it's just green horses" or horses that I thought maybe had some holes somewhere.
I can tell ya, that made my first few rides with Frosty interesting lol  I KNOW that LT is a helluva hand, that he was broke, and that I was as safe on him as I was on Lefta or Voodoo (maybe more depending on the situation lol) but it was still a bit of a struggle those first few rides.
That's when I realized that my fear was getting on any horse that I hadn't rode before.  With having three young horses coming up in the next few years that was going to be a problem!

Then this past fall I got asked if I would help start a friend's horse on barrels in the spring.  And then another friend asked. 
I said yes to the first one on the condition that she send it to a real trainer for basic training (she had started it herself). 
The second person is JL, one of my closest friends and knows the whole deal about my fear, I told her I would start her filly after she had put a bit more time on her.

I don't know where this fear came from. I do think it ties in with some of the confidence I had lost, with second guessing any of my instincts or abilities.  I do know that working with Shine has helped both of those.

In December I decided to take my fear in the other direction, I let it force me.  When given the option to get on a horse I didn't know I said yes, I forced myself to do it even though my nerves didn't want me to. 
I rode 4 strange horses in 5 days! (and on two of those days I didn't ride at all)

At a club's Christmas ride I asked JL if she wanted to switch horses toward the end.
Then JL and I went on a trip to visit a friend of hers and work horses.  I brought Shine, and we made a lot of progress!  But when T found out I hadn't brought a horse to ride he told me to get on Meredith Grey.  And yes he laughed when I told him I was nervous because she's soooo broke, but after talking about it he was good about it and let me take my time.  Later that day while JL was having a bit of trouble he went to work with her horse, when things settled down I asked if I could get on Mr. Darcy.
The next day I rode Meredith Grey again - and part way through T called me over and took her bridle off then sent me on my way with just a neck rope.  I wasn't scared but I did say I'd probably only get up to a trot.  We ended up loping circles, spinning and doing deep, hard stops. 
And that same night I asked to get on JL's filly, the one that she wants me to start on barrels.
Gotta tell ya, there was a bit of ribbing about me and my fear that last night over drinks lol

So not only did I get on "four strange horses" I asked to get on all but one. However if at any time my gut had told me to be afraid  I wouldn't have been ashamed about not riding or stepping off if I had been on already.  But this hasn't been a gut based fear, it's been a pesky little fly buzzing around that drained my confidence more and more.  And dealing with it has been so freeing!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Two bits!


#1 I'm super happy to be able to announce that my sponsor Natural Balance Equine Therapy has confirmed to be my sponsor again for 2018.  Even better they now also carry Elite Three feed products!
I switched Lefta and Frosty to this a little while ago and so far I'm really liking the results.  Both horses look good and have energy but are calm not hot.

#2 And for 2018 I'm also a sponsored team rider for M Sport 6 - The Air Conditioned Shirt!  I started wearing their shirts last year and I have to say I'm really happy with them, they actually DO keep you cooler!
The picture of me & Frosty in this post below is actually one of their shirts :)

Something that I love about both companies is that they're both focused on being positive and supportive, no matter what level of competition you're at.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Take 5

Sometimes things don't go the way you'd hoped - a bad run, knocked barrel, horse comes up sore, you or your horse is  having a tough time learning in a clinic, a slip that costs you a placing, etc. 

It happens to ALL of us, it's how you deal with it that matters.


Things you don't do
* take it out on your horse
* cause a scene in public

* abuse volunteers or event help
* take it out on your friend/spouse/travel partner
(I'm sure there are other examples)

Here's what my friends and I do, we take 5 minutes.  Whether it's to go cry/vent in your trailer/the washroom, sit quietly with no one talking to you, punch a haynet in your trailer (if that's your sort of thing), etc.  
You don't need to explain why you need to, sometimes that's not obvious to your friends.  You just say you're taking 5 or you need 5.
When you come back it's up to you, either calmly talk about what happened or choose not to.

As far as I'm concerned this should apply to daily life too, although sometimes that's tough to do.  But really, wouldn't the world be a better place if we all took 5 minutes when we needed to, got it out of our system in private instead of spouting off while emotions are high.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

A VERY Overdue Update!

Waaay back, in December of last year *good grief*, in very small type at the bottom of a post talking about Hubster's Christmas present I mentioned that I had gotten my Christmas present early and I'd fill you in on it later.  Well I guess this definitely qualifies as later! lol
My present that year was a red roan weanling filly, not bred to be a barrel horse but with decent enough cow bloodlines that she'd cross nicely on a running bred stud if I kept her.  My neighbour had a few too many horses and was blowing out young stock so even though I wasn't really looking I checked them out anyway.  One of my boarder's actually picked up a horse at the same time, a 4 year old halter broke mare too. 
And here's why this update has been pending for so long... my weanling, who I called Shine, was supposed to come halter broke as well.  She.  Was.  NOT.  And I'm more than a bit embarrassed to say that it's taken til now to make any real progress.
I worked with her a bit over the winter, but I also rode more than I usually do in the winter so I didn't have quite as much time with Shine as I would have liked and she needed time.  The year before when I got Sarita she was halter broke and just a lot easier to work with due to her mind and temperament so any sessions with her were short and easier to fit in (looove the mind Frenchmans Fuego puts on his foals!!).  Not so with Shine, she had been pasture raised so had no clue about people and was flighty & catty as heck.  She was haltered in a chute and loaded into the trailer in a chute, not really a great first impression of humans.  So when she got here we kept her halter on with a drag rope.
Well, that drag rope was sorely needed.  She learned to give to pressure but she didn't come around to giving to pressure when it was a person on the end of that rope.  Slippery winter conditions, lack of time, and frankly not having a lot of strength and the little miss was not progressing.  Spring and summer came and I kept thinking "I really need to find time for Shine".  Didn't happen.
Then a couple weeks ago I brought home another filly, another Fuego baby :D and I told myself that before I play with her too much I **really** need to make time with Shine a priority.  So this last week my friend JL came to help me... I needed the extra muscle (which is hilarious if you only saw JL and didn't know her, she is petite but she is s.t.r.o.n.g.) and know-how.  You see Shine has been such a tough nut to crack that I was having doubts in my own knowledge and ability.  Having a supportive friend that thinks about and handles young stock similar to how I do was a much needed asset. 
And you know what?  She came around.  She no longer had a drag rope, it had broke a couple weeks earlier to about 2 feet, so we couldn't rely on using that to get her caught and instead did some flag work.  We worked her the first day for close to an hour and a half (she did have some breaks to "download" and process things).  She was caught in about 30 minutes and not long after that her weanling halter (which had previously been loosened but was still on and starting to get tight) was changed out to a bit bigger nylon halter.  It was pretty evident that halter would be too big both to leave on her or to work in so I got a small rope halter and we switched it to that. 
That alone was huge!  Shine has been super protective of her right side.  Even when we could get her caught before she would *not* let anyone on her right side or touch the right side of her face.  She was so protective of that side that we were wondering if she had an issue - poor vision, nerve damage, something.
We spent the rest of the session getting her to move around us with the flag like we'd learned in the Tilley clinic.  Getting her to move softly, getting some bend and relaxation.  "Catching" her again and rubbing all over her as much as possible.  She started to crave face rubs on her right side as much as the left. :D
The second day I still needed the flag to catch her, but she was caught in 5 minutes.  We worked on the same stuff as the first day but her whole session that day was maybe 45 minutes, including breaks.
The third day, well JL and I cheated a bit and went riding but when we came back we went and caught Shine.  Again it was about 5 minutes and we used the flag.
The fourth day we got her caught and did some work moving her with the flag and then progressed to desensitizing her with the flag touching her body.  I hesitate to say desensitize though.  We don't want to take all life out and have a horse not react to the flag at all, after all it is a tool to move them too.  However we don't want them freaking out over the flag (and later saddle pad, ropes, blankets, etc) touching them.  So there's a balance there.  She came around quite well.
Now here's the real sign of progress... last night when I went to do night chores I needed to check the waterer and when I entered the pen she shares with Sarita she turned and looked at me.  Sarita stepped off to the side to wait by the fence, after all it is feeding time lol but Shine held her ground.  I wondered if I should even try approaching her, after all I didn't have the flag for back up if it was needed.  I took a breath and thought "well you need to try sometime" and started to approach her.  I got quite close and then you could see her start to think about leaving so I eased off the pressure by not moving forward and turning slightly away.  After a second she relaxed and I let her settle a bit longer before moving forward again.  She stood square, relaxed but alert so I put out my hand and waited. After a second she reached for me so I rubbed her face; first on the left, then center, then right, gave her poll a rub and then stepped back.  She stepped into me so I grabbed the tiny rope that was still left from her drag line and led her around a few steps.  Then let go and rubbed her head all over again and then went to check the waterer (she followed a few steps!  Then realized I wasn't going to visit and went to see if Sarita had found supper lol). 
Having Shine go from pretty much untouchable and wanting nothing to do with people to facing up and asking for scratches... that feeling is SO good!!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Frosty & Lefta bought me a present!!

We had a pretty good season this year.  A bit of work on my mental game, a great group of friends that were both supportive and able to give me a kick in the butt when needed, and putting in the work with the horses (riding for training and fitness, tweaking the feed program, regular bodywork by our awesome sponsor Natural Balance Equine Therapy, finding a new farrier, etc) all played a part in that.

While I may not rodeo, and I'm not a high level rider (yet!) #goals ;) I do have a bit of a competitive streak.  My horses are my hobby not my living so fun is the first goal.  But because they're not my living I don't have to watch where I funnel any of those cheques we do pick up, so this year I saved every single one we got.  The plan was to put it to new living room furniture or something equally as fun :/

Instead Frosty and Lefta bought me an even better present!  A couple friends and I took a road trip to Starlight Quarter Horses on Oct 21st and brought this little one home...
A weanling filly off Frenchmans Fuego  (sire of my 2 year old Sarita) and out of a mare with breeding really similar to Lefta.  In fact Lefta and this filly's dam are both daughters of Blue Boy Doc who is a son of Docs Prescription.

I wanted a Spanish themed barn name as a nod to her sire who goes by Fuego, I had done the same when I gave Sarita her name. This little lady came with the name Fuegos French Jackie on her papers and after testing out a few ideas she now has the barn name Reya :) 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Finals - Ponoka! - Finals

Wow time has gotten away again... at first I was waiting for pictures, then I just plain got busy.  Doesn't help that I have horrible wifi at home right now.  Bad wifi makes me grouchy BUT I have a nice little place in the country with my ponies at home so (for now) it's a fair trade off ;)
(seriously though, Saskatchewan needs to do something about rural wifi!!)
So now this will be a bit of a catch up post...

For starters I entered both Lefta and Frosty in provincial finals.  Frosty won the 4D in the first long go! Both horses ran fairly well and Frosty ended up making the short go (my first time ever making short go at provincials!!)  Unfortunately I forgot how the *bleep* to ride lol 
I sent him in from a bad spot in the alley.  Then I didn't rate worth a darn on first which in turn resulted in him coming around so that the barrel was right.in.front.of.him but Frosty is the most honest horse I know and he will not hit a barrel... not if HE is the one hitting it.  So instead he reared and threw himself to the side so he didn't hit it, yeah that ate up some time.  Once we got our poop in a group and lined out properly for second the rest of the run went well.  Obviously we didn't place #understatement
But you know what, I achieved a goal and have room to improve so it's ok!

Up next, my good friend MJ and I took our pretty bay bombshells to Ponoka!  This arena has been on both our goals list for awhile, there's simply nothing like it around here.  The barn is set up great, the staff are amazing, and the arena... holy heck the arena!!  Indoors, small warm up area right by the actual arena, and it fits a full standard pattern!  Calnash Centre is just awesome
MJ and I drove down for the time onlies and warm up jackpot on Friday.  And thank goodness we did!  That arena can mess with your head and some horses have a few issues too, such as our horses... they did NOT appreciate the shadows and slight woosh noise from the giant overhead fans, particularly the one directly over 3rd :o
The warm up jackpot went well, Lefta handled everything better than I thought she would and ended up picking up some money in the 4D!  A friend I've known since high school (so yeah, forever lol) lives about a half hour away so he came to visit and watch.  Dev video'd for us (after a quick tutorial lol) and asked tons of good questions, seeing how he's completely NOT a horse person it was nice to have someone so interested.  Also pretty awesome that even away from home MJ and I had someone in the stand to cheer for us  :) 
Day two my sis and her kids made the drive from Edmonton, so yeah for fans again! ;)
However our run wasn't great, Lefta just didn't fire.  She seems to have a slump when she's at multi day events and stalled. When I lamented the fact on Facebook my friend CK texted me "you brought your patches right?  Use them!"  We had a quick text convo, I knew I could patch for pain related issues but didn't realize it could be used for an energy boost!
After our runs we touristed around Ponoka - home of the world's largest bronc statue
Day three I got up and after chores put some patches on Lefta, and am I glad I did!  She ran her best run of the three days!  However the fast time crept up each day and we landed in the crying hole in 4D.  Still super proud of my little mare :D
 
 
And then there was district finals -
This year our district finals had over $20,000 in cash - I am *SO* proud to have been part of the board that organized, fundraised, and put on this finals. Everything went so smoothly!  I think it was even better than our 25th anniversary finals last year!!  The same board put on both events, and this year at our AGM we handed the reins over to a new board, I wish them the best and I'm looking forward to being a competitor only! ;) lol
Both horses ran well, Frosty came back to the short go again, last year we were reserve 3D champions, being 0.257 too slow for that 1st place slot.  This year we were 0.003 too fast!! And ended up bottom of the 3D
(last year we ran a 3D race, this year we changed it to 4D)
I was thrilled with how well he worked though, but I'm not gonna lie it was a bit bittersweet to miss that buckle.
Lefta didn't have her usual day 2 slump, because I patched her this time!!  However she hit a really bad rut on 1st barrel and almost went down.  A bit of a heartbreaker because she sure was firing when she went in for that run.  She wasn't hurt though, which is the most important thing.
(if you want to know about these patches let me know!)
And after being bugged that Lefta and Voodoo have some blingy tack and Frosty's was too plain he finally got a "fancy" set too, so here it is in action - I think he's earned it ;)


I have to say, I'm SO happy with this season.  My horses worked well but most importantly I found the fun in racing again!  Making a few changes in my circle of friends has definitely helped and made it easier to keep my mental and emotional outlook on the positive side :D