Friday, June 29, 2012

Trail Journal: 5

Putting on my chaps and getting ready to head out

**All photos thanks to the lovely riding-partner, Sarah :)

The last weekend until the big move out west! I got there bright and early and waited for a friend of mine (another Riding Leader named Sarah) to arrive. I discovered that The Rancher had gone to the Innisfail auction and brought home 4 new horses! An older, smaller arab (fingers crossed that she'll turn into a little kids beginner horse), a bay who wasn't approachable (ugh), a big stout palomino (perfect, stout is what we need and kids do love pallys) and a big gronky sorrel, who had nice eyes but a bit of an ugly head (you can't win 'em all). Although 4 new horses to the string is exciting and excellent news, it means that yours truly has to find time to ride all of them out before even counsellors can go on them. A broke horse can suddenly rear it's green head when confronted with a new, chaotic situation such as saddling time in the shed during summer. Also... as we all know, just because they seem broke in the sale ring, don't mean anything. A project for next week my friends!

Sarah on Timber... do you want to be on my blog? haha questions I should have asked before publishing your face on the internet

Sarah arrived and The Rancher told us we could go ride out in the neighbors lease where Jingle was, and hopefully find him. He had been spotted down by the fence line by a guy who lives out there during the week, so we hoped for the best and went to grab some horses. What an adventure grabbing horses was! None of my options could be found, and poor Sarah found hers right off the bat. The entire herd thought it would be hilarious to run and totally mob her and she led her big baby Timber around. I started resorting to plan D, E and F, but again - absolutely none of those buggers could be caught. I've detailed before how tremendously annoying it is that our string is so, so bad at being caught... ugh. So, we headed to the barn, saddled Timber (who was having some serious herd bound insecurities at this point) and I jumped on him to chase in the horse I wanted, Navy, who was across the river. Sarah grabbed Navy and I chased the rest of the horses out, opened up the gates heading to the lease and went to close another gate so the horses couldn't cross back into this particular pasture.

Big Coulee, named after the large gorge/coulee that runs through the entire valley

Let me tell you something... never before have I ever been so astonished in the stupidity of the horse I was handling. Timber literally attempted to WALK THROUGH a barbed wire gate. I almost had a panic attack. He was on top of me for about 4 minutes as a wrestled with this particularly crappy gate, and then, calm as ever, he walked right into it and KEPT GOING. I feared the worst, dropped the reins, dropped the gate, untangled the reins and led him back out of the barbed wire mess. Thank the lord he was fine and not a scrape to be seen, but I was pretty grumpy at this point.

Another shot of big coulee

We FINALLY got everything together, grabbed lunch, and headed out. The lease we were riding on is absolutely spectacular riding. There is a bit of a canyon/gorge in the middle, with massive rock walls on either side, and a stream running down the centre - absolutely breathtaking. We rode the ridge of the gorge for awhile, scouted out the land from some high spots, but not a Jingle in site... ugh. 4 hours later we headed home, with no Jingle with us... total bummer. However, the riding was excellent, as was the company - love you Sarah :) so I suppose I shouldn't complain.

We got back, fed our ponies, let them loose, and then went to go see the new horses. We discovered the Palomino and Sorrel had trapped themselves inside one of our shelters, and the Palomino had got his legs very cut up some how, we assume he put them through a panel and pulled back. We brought him in, sprayed and scrubbed him down - he stood like a gentleman, I was pleased, and then I sprayed him with Vetricyn and let him back out. The next day his cuts looked to be healing, and there wasn't much blood - plus he was walking much, much better, so hopefully that little surface wound doesn't slow him down. I doubt it will.

The ridge to the left is our lease

We eventually got dinner (after having to go to two seperate resteraunts), and by the time we got home my head couldn't hit the pillow fast enough.

Sunday, I expected a quiet, nice and easy going down. My arms ached so bad, and my brain was fried. Of course, when you wish for something calm - the opposite always happens. We were pulling our studs, 2 of which came easily and well natured, the other 2 - not so much. I found myself chasing a band of mares, and one of our studs, Leo, off a hillside, in pouring rain and hail, and then sliding straight down a steep incline - am I crazy? Yes, Yes I am. That's the thing with chasing horses and myself - the rational side of my brain totally shuts down, and then I find myself careening down a cliffside, jumping over logs, hooting and hollering, and it's only when I look back on it do I think, "Am I -explicit word- stupid? I should not do -explicit word- like that"

Waterfalls have sprouted up due to all the rainfall

Once I dried off, we planned to get the last stud, check over the mares and babies and then call it quits. Well... a prospective buyer, and her 3 children and 2 friends appeared... and guess we got to take them out for a ride? That's right - me. I could have fallen asleep on the saddle at this point. I took them to our lookouts so she could get a good lay of the land, and by 5 pm the sun was actually shining, and it turned into a nice ride. The lady was really, really nice, and her families experience and name in the horse world really impressed me. With all the saddness that surrounds the sale of my beautiful, beloved home away from home, I truly hope some really nice, genuine people buy it. These people fit that bill, I approved.

By the time I got back to the city, I was ready to sleep for 16 years. What a weekend. Never a dull moment at the ranch!

The "after-ride" photo

Sarah got these wicked shots of this owl on a hay bale.. i love them, they may have to become my blog header.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Trail Journal: 4

**where art thou camera cord? This is going to be a very wordy, picture less post.. I apologize.

Saturday morning I showed up at the ranch and discovered the owner (We shall here on out called him "The Rancher") had brought home some of the horses during the week. I will admit, my little heart skipped a beat, but slowed down when all I saw was black and white paints, an overo and some quarter horses - no baby tobiano in this bunch. I soon realized it was all the horses that I had seen on my last weekends out, I went around and petted some noses, and gave some kisses, and headed inside.

Once inside, The Rancher told me that he had discovered my horse, however, I knew that since my horse wasn't in the yard... this was probably not the best of news. Apparently, some of our horses had been spotted on a neighbors lease (which is unhabitated, and 10 miles up our lease). The Rancher had driven down and taken out the binoculars, and low and behold, there was my boy... with three little 3-4 year olds. First off, Jingle, why are you being such a creep? Hang out with horses your own age. Secondly, of course he is miles away - the escapades of a wild horse continue.

So, we formulated a game plan, (Okay.. The Rancher formulated a game plan, and I nodded as if I understood what in the world we were doing), I was to go out and catch Marchessa, and her full sister Della, two absolutely massive paint mares, who are total "water hogs", aka, are not bothered by the very high water we are experiencing - we weren't sure how the river crossings were going to be, so we needed horses that wouldn't bat an eye at some fast moving water. The Rancher was to go put a new spark plug in the quad, and hope it runs again. Then, we were to load up our horses, and the quad in the horse trailer - drive to the neighbor's lease, and then try to locate missing horsies.

Welllllll.... Marchessa was in heat, big time, and we don't breed our dude string mares, but she had it in her mind that she was going to get out of the pasture our string is in, and then she was going to parade around every stud field we have until someone paid attention to her. Nope, big mare, your coming with me. After running around like a big idiot for a couple minutes, she settled down and I got a halter on her. We saddled her up and then I had to go get Della.

Della wasn't coming so easy, infact, she crossed a river on me. So, back to the barn I went, got Marchessa, and headed out to chase in Della. Then... once in, I had to catch her, and THEN I had to switch saddles on the two mares. By the time we had the two big mares loaded, and the quad in the stock trailer, it was 11, and we decided to take an early lunch. Have I mentioned how exceedingly annoying it is that our ranch horses are not easily caught in open fields? You never think about it in the summer because we run them into the corrals, sort them, and tie them, and barely any catching is ever done.

The Rancher told me stories of him and his dad heading out 50 years ago to bring in wild horses, and that sometimes it could take them from dawn to dusk to get home from the area we were heading. Great - my horse thinks he's a wild horse. We headed out, and The Rancher took the quad to open the adjacent gates into our land - SUPRISE! Someone had pushed cattle through our lease onto this one, and had left the gates open - thanks, -explicit word here-. Second suprise - the original estimated 5-8 horses was a little underestimated, our entire dude string had migrated to this lease - about 40 horses in total. So, we headed out and chased them home.

The chase was pretty uneventful, Della had a beautiful slow motion jump over a large log, and we had to do the 'ol hand on the horn-legs up and out, through a river crossing but otherwise our ponies headed home in a very non-wild fashion. However, the question of the hour - was Jingle in the herd? The answer my friends is, no. My horse is giving me a big run for my money, and absolutely refuses to just be civilized and come home.

So, alas, Jingle is still out in the wild blue yonder, with his posse of young untamed horses, and hopefully this weekend is the weekend to bring my bad boy home.

Once we had returned home, we sorted and counted the herd, as well as some big kisses, hellos and pets for all my lovebugs that came home to me! Then, we moved a stud and his mares to a pasture, so the dude string could have a bigger run of the land. Finally, we thought our day was almost over, when we spotted some young colts on the hillside, oh-easy peasy, just get behind them, push them into the yard and slam the gate as they go. Or so we thought... The leader of this young crew of babies is a horse named Doc. I have a soft spot for Doc, a beautiful dun, who looks just like his daddy. However, he is a mischeivous bugger. (I will try to get a photo of him soon for you guys to see). Doc loves escapades, and as I quietly pushed them in, he bolted up and around a cliff and straight up a massive hill on me. So up Della and I went, we chased them up and around and through and down and not once would they go back down that hill. This is not the first time I've had to mountain-goat this damn hill, and let me tell you - each time, my swearing gets worse and worse. Children, and those with soft ears, stay clear. There is nothing fun about rock climbing on a horse and then running full speed through a thick forest. They were already fenced in, and couldn't get back out of the lease, so we left them for the night, and we headed in.

The next morning they had come down and we were able to get them into the corral. Doc, not to be bested, grabbed saddle blankets I was moving from one barn to another and danced around the corral with one in his mouth. (This is a horse we once found having a nap in the centre of a massive stack of bales, he had literally burrowed in when no one was looking, and had decided to take a quick snooze while we were heading out for a ride.) He sure is funny, he's had all his ground work done, and I'd love to ride him, but I've never started a horse before, and I'm afraid his mischevious nature probably wont translate to a soft, easy-going ride from the get-go, so i'll leave that conversation for someone more experienced than I.

Sunday was uneventful, a storm rolled in, and I made barn plans, labelled saddles, and took a little nap on some bales. This upcoming weekend is my last weekend out there, next week is all about packing and then, as of July 1st, I'll be moving in permanantly, and getting ready for, i'm sure, another crazy summer!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Riding Diary: 22

Horse: Quiz!

Bit: Shanks with Roller to Snaffle

Time: 1 hr

Ride: Quiz & I's last ride until I leave town (On Monday... ohmahlord I have no time). I got to the barn and prettylittlemareface ran up to the gate to say hello.. so cute, I love you mare. Our ride actually went really, really well. Of course, there is always something to work on, or nitpick at, however, it felt nice to look at where I was when I started going for lessons in February to where I am now. A whole lot has changed!

We focused primarily on poles, and then a line consisting of: ground pole - caveletti - ground pole - cavelletti - ground pole. We worked Quiz in the Shank bit at first, last week she was tossing her head and noodling around like the noodle horse of the century, this week she was doing much better but was still pushing at the bit, and had her head raised more than usual. My trainer commented that with the introduction of the caveletti, the shank bit might not be a great bit to use, so we switched her back into a plain snaffle, but added rings. I waver on whether or not I like the use of rings, I know that a lot of people see them as a short-cut trick, however, I do see improvement with the use of them. For Quiz, we worked a lot on getting her to engage her hind end with different maneuvers, etc. So we're not just trying to achieve frame and headset with gadgets, but it aided in the process. Thoughts on rings my merry-followers?

Anyways, going back to basics with the snaffle ft. rings I was reminded at how much easier and lighter Quiz is to check when she has a shank bit in. Back to the big holds, and the big releases for me and my baby sorrel! We had some really, really beautiful lines, and I was all smiles about that. We even ended up on the correct lead after the line was over once or twice!! I worked really hard on checking Quiz back before a cavelleti or pole, and then giving her a big release right before, I also worked on keeping my eyes forward and ahead, instead of down, and on the obstacle, which I always tend to do, throwing us both of.

All and all, it was a really good lesson - we'll see how far I get this summer without having my Trainer there coaching me along. I will definitely miss her. & of course Miss Quiz... what a horse, how is a 4 year old so perfect in every way? My friend lucked out when she found her. I absolutely adore her, she is just the cutest, silliest, little baby. I'll miss her so, so much this summer.

For Next Time: Is there a next time? =( Perhaps in the fall I ask Quiz's real owner if we can throw an english saddle on her. I have to admit, jumping (even these little bitty baby jumps) is a pretty good time. But you guys know what that means... shopping... uh oh.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Riding Diary: 21

Horse: Quiz!

Time: 1 Hr

Ride: I have been such a bad blogger - I haven't even blogged about my last trail ride! Which, as always it seems, was a crazy/beautiful adventure-ride. I am blessed. Hopefully tomorrow I'll post that before I leave town for the weekend again.

On Monday I rode Quiz for the second to last time before summer starts. Crazy, you count down the days to something, wait and wait and wait... and all of a sudden I have a little more than a week before I leave for the entire summer. Along with seventeen pounds of laundry I need to do, packing up a whole life (atleast, that's what it feels like), taking a trip to Airdrie and Irvines for some feed, and a couple new bits I need, house-sitting for family friends, and of course, trying to fit in working as much as possible and a truck that needs some repairs before I leave - I'm going crazy.

Now - to my lesson... Quiz was acting like a bit of a turkey, she wasn't accepting the bit like she usually does, and she was back to her noodling ways. My trainer mentioned that I was doing better at correcting her than I have in the past, which made me happy. Noodle horse, why u show up right now?!

My trainer had set up a bit of an obstacle line, (for all you jumpers out there, you will laugh at the fact I call this an obstacle but here goes), there was a ground pole, a caveletti, two more ground poles, and one last caveletti. Quiz and I struggled, to say the least, going through this at a lope. Quiz would head one way, I would head the other, and that sure doesn't equal for straight and steady. However, I worked on checking, while also keeping my reins a little more even, and gripping more with my knees, and towards the end of the lesson I think we figured it out, princess Q and I.

This upcoming Monday is my very last lesson... I will miss Quiz dearly. :( Thankfully, as I am reminded by her wonderful owner (hi Caron), I will be back in September - Jingle in tow (if I ever find my little wild pony), and will still get to ride Quiz if I so wish. That's a pretty good deal, if you ask me.

For Next Time: Straight, calm and clear through all these crazy obstacles my trainer throws at me. On Monday she asked me if I dreaded Monday's and what she'd have cooked up, and the answer is no, never. I honestly am a total lesson-freak, I love them, even the bad lessons. I wish I had the money to do a different lesson every single day, on all sorts of different horses and in different disciplines, alas, we'll stick to the basics for now. ;)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Riding Diary: 20

Horse: Quiz!

Bit: roller port with shanks

Time: 1 hr

Ride: Oh Quiz, I love ya - I just can't quit ya. Little mare and I had a really good ride on Monday. I was reaaaaaaally trying to focus on my position, and to keep my hands almost too-low, I find that she really calms down and is just a more responsive, quieter horse when I give her quick and serious checks over long, constant checking. She and I were really meshing, even my trainer told me how good we looked - yep, we're really good looking, and pretty amazing.. so before you bring out those damn ground poles, we might as well quit on a good note hey?

.. Ya, not so much. However, the ground poles were less of a mortal enemy-demon lover this lesson than last. Honestly, when trotting and loping circles on ground poles, I tend to think to myself, "okay, where would I rationally think to leave the rail.. here.. okay, wait 2-4 strides, now go", works like a charm.

At the trot, Quiz and I are fluid over the ground poles, but at the lope she pops her hind end up towards the end, and kind of spring-loads over them. That causes me to totally lose my position, and often ends in a pretty messy departure. Things to work on.From there we got to do some upright poles! Waaaay better than ground poles. Quiz was a star.

Finally, my trainer set up a bit of an obstacle course, a single ground pole, a small maybe a 1/4 ft or less jump. (I'm sure there is a name for this - a standard? I don't know.. I am lost in the world of jumping), then a row of upright poles, come around, exit the rail, three ground poles, end course. Weooooo. Quiz and I did it 3 or 4 times, as did the other people in my lesson. Everyone got a good giggle over everyone else - ground poles look so decieving easy until your horse is flinging around them. Quiz actually did quite well, as did I - I think. Our only main issue was that after the jump she'd swap leads, I'd fail to notice, and then we'd end up doing the poles on the wrong lead. Secondly, I notice that when I get a little excited, I tend to let my horse rush things - gotta keep that cool, calm, collected low-hand mindset I guess.

For Next Time: Keep calm and carry on... over ground poles. :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Horses in the News

There has been some amazing horse-stories lately...

The commendable, but heart-breaking decision, to retire "I'll Have Another" a day before Belmont.

Then, the win of "Union Rags", a story unto itself. 

There is the Australian Three Day Eventing Horse, Neville Bardos, headed to the Olympics. The failed racehorse was headed to slaughter when Boyd Martin bought him. Martin also dragged the horse out of a barn fire that caused Neville to have third degree burns to the neck. Somehow, the horse has survived it all, and become a champion.

& then, at the very end of this video, there is the small tribute to the champion, Hickstead. The 2012 Spruce Meadow National has just finished, and of course Eric Lamaze rode without his incorrigible stallion. The story of Hickstead and Lamaze always chokes me up, I was at the Masters last year when the pair won, Hickstead's last time at the venue. The article I've linked to is a good one - Eric recalls his early days with the notorious horse, who would not jump in the warmup, but then ran clear every single round. 

A photo taken by my friend Marley at the Masters last year. Hickstead always looked so effortless, like he simply just flew over jumps. The crowd went insane when they ran clear through the jump-off.

As always, I am reminded how amazing horses truly are.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Trail Journal: 3

Well, Alberta is currently flooding. Funny - last weekend I was thinking how dry it has been, and how this might be one of those summer when your loping in dust clouds - then, BAM! Mother nature unleashed a torrential down-pour two or three nights in a row. The river was intense this weekend, and there was no way I was crossing it with any of the horses I had to choose from, so I stayed above the flats for the most part.

The first day I rode Butterfly again (the paint from last time), I didn't take any pictures. Nor did I take any photos of the crazy river - silly me. We covered some pretty far ground and I barely found any of the horses, I was grumpy. Thankfully, it had rained all morning, and everyone thought I was crazy for going out in the afternoon - but for the most part, I was barely even sprinkled on. Thanks Mama Nature!

The second day I decided to ride a horse named Pepper. Pepper came to us last year, and proceeded to make a name for himself as one very fast horse, that does not like to be in the middle, or back of a line. (... so, not a very good dude string horse). Pepper was ridden throughout the winter, but I doubted that he was loped much, plus his feet were not in very good condition. I was a little nervous about taking him out since I've never ridden him before, but I knew he could cover ground well - plus, I knew Butterfly couldn't handle another big ride like that.

Pepper gave me a bit of a hard time at first, but then we went straight up, up, up to the highest point of the ranch. This is a pretty spectacular spot - no horses, but you get the best view of the mountains. (It's hard to really see how magnificent the view is in this photo).

Here is Pepper, who, by the way, got to wear my prized bridle, (the bridle that is in my header on Jingle). It was my first bridle, and given to me by a lady I very much admire and respect, and I vowed this year not to ride trails in it. Well... look who broke her vow day three... I didn't entirely trust Pepper in a snaffle, nor did I think that he had been ridden in one last summer. This bridle has my only Argentinean snaffle (a broken bit with shanks), and he went pretty well in it. It's definitely harsher than a snaffle - but again, in the right hands it can be quite effective. I like to think, especially when trail riding, I have very soft hands, I only ever gather up the reins when I really need too when out in the bush. With a horse like Pepper you need to be able to escalate pressure quickly, I knew that a bit of a tug would get him calmed down, but I also knew that if he was getting too jiggy, and attempting to test me and run away with me - I could let him know that was not acceptable.

However... at one point he attempted to scratch his face on a tree, IN MY FAVOURITE BRIDLE, with a nice, show bit. I almost murdered him. I will definitely be needing to get another bit similar (which means, bad spending habits Louisa... another headstall)

There was massive amounts of deadfall everywhere I went thanks to the thunderstorm a couple days previous. I was happy Butterfly wasn't subjected to all of it - she gets very nervous going over even the smallest, shortest log. Pepper on the other hand jigged and jogged his way over every single one. Even when there were multiples in a row, he never thought twice about them.

Here's another shot of those beautiful Rocky Mountains - I can never get over them. 

Pepper and I searched high and low, but we found nothing - except for the two year olds I came across last time.

The clouds were pretty ominous, and threatening a storm all morning, but nothing ever came of it.

The ranch has been logged before, and thick 7" pine tree areas have popped up - they are very close together, and you can get notoriously turned around in them because trails run every which way through them. Here we are in one of these little forests - truth be told, I was getting a little claustrophobic about the whole situation. When I returned home the wife of the owner told me that those areas are "a great place to run smack into a bear". Now, i've seen tons of bear tracks out there, but never in these little areas... I definitely would not want to run into a bear in one of these thickets. Mainly because it's so hard to see where you are, that you would end up totally coming out of nowhere. Bears don't typically enjoy that.

Here Pepper is after our ride - he ended up finally calming down after about 3.5 hours, he sure can move. I loped him and he had a nice, steady, slow lope. So, I'm guessing he just doesn't like, nor is used to, being behind another horse. He'll probably make a good riding leader horse this summer. I don't entirely love him though, I can't quite put my finger on why... but he just doesn't mesh well with me. I did, however, appreciate the miles we covered together - he barely batted an eye. Except for some boggy spots - Pepper is not a fan of that scene.

And, alas, yet again, I did not find my horse. I have a feeling he's munching grass, grinning ear-to-ear over the fact he's giving me such a run for my money. I think I know where he is though, actually I'm almost certain, but it's an area that I haven't been since I was a kid and with the high waters, and all the newly formed bogs and mucky areas - I wasn't about to go exploring.

Next weekend they all have to come in, so hopefully I can take old trusty Butterfly to bring them in - because I have a feeling Pepper probably isn't the greatest at chasing horses - he's probably awesome at beating them home. Uh Oh.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Riding Diary: 19

Horse: Baby Quiz.

Bit: Straight Shank Roller Bit

Time: 1.5 hr

Quiz during her "cool down".

Ride: We started the ride with a nice warmup, trotting the poles, etc. Then we moved into a lope, Quiz is really responsive on the shank bit, it just provides that titch more check that I think she needs. I feel as if I can ride her on a much looser rein, and I think that helps to keep her calm. We loped nice and slow around the arena, I focused on keeping my hands wide and low, and we ended up loping the poles quite nicely a few times. I was a happy camper with that.

Her jog is so wonderful, after the last week and a half, riding other horses at the jog.. I realize just how smooth of a horse she really is. We've graduated to loose rein jogging, and she's starting to really drop her head and carry herself more with her back end.

Then we moved on to ground poles... well... you can't have too many good lessons, or too many good moments in a lesson.. because then you wouldn't be learning now, would you? Ground poles are my nemesis, I fall apart. I can never figure out when to leave the rail, Quiz and I end up squirming through those poles, she half leaps through them. However, after one pole, then two, and then three... I think we had at least 3 good lopes through each of them at a circle, and we quit for the day.

Then I went to the outdoor arena to cool Miss Thang down, and she was zooming around like a crazy person! Quiz... not the point of a cool down. She had cooled off and I went inside to untack her, and her entire back was still a hot mess. So back to the outdoor we went! She got a really good roll in - she loves to roll, it makes me laugh. Then she pranced around with weeds that had been dug up hanging out of her mouth - another laugh from me. Finally, after all the grooming was said and done, I let her out to her new outdoor paddock and after a buck and a sprint, she finally resigned herself to grazing. Such a silly princess. I will miss her very much come summer.

For Next Time: Ground Poles - Keep inside hand out and low, focus on checking before, and after, but not throughout. Work on keeping a line from the rail, through the poles, back to the rail. Basically... do the ground poles better.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Trail Journal: 2

So... June has arrived!! Which means I get to go back to my ranch to work in the spring before camp starts. Of course, my mind was only on one thing - bringing my horse in. I'm sure i've discussed this before, but the string is sent to winter pasture elsewhere, then brought back, and kicked out on the back 1800 acres before summer starts. Sure enough, baby Jingle was sent out with the rest of them... sigh. They all need to come in, in two weeks anyways... but, I want my pony - NOW! 

So, with only one saddle horse available - Butterfly, a very old, pretty unattractive mare, that I have never paid much attention too - I headed out to find my horse in the wild blue yonder. I was actually pleasantly surprised with Butterfly, she walked out really nice, was responsive, rarely kicked up a fuss... gold star.

We headed up the Little Red Deer River, checking in on all the usual spots for where the horses could be. Here we are meandering up a clear cut that exits on to some areas horses are known to graze.

We headed to the "Far Lookout" and I hoped off to give her a break to munch some grass, while I surveyed the flats below. I was pretty shocked to find absolutely no horses on the far flats, usually the bigger herd hangs out here.

Here I am, still optimistic.

We came across Billy, and Charlie, our percheron team, and some of the younger stock.

Here's one of our Belgians, Luke.

I find it really cute the Heavy Horses had taken it upon themselves to "babysit" our little ones. Here are two long-yearlings, getting pretty close to Butterfly and I.

A third decided to come see what we were up too.

The tovero filly followed us for about ten minutes, until she stopped to watch us go. She's quite the looker, really flashy in a bit of a different way. By the way - all these babies are for sale!

A storm was approaching from the North-West... we carried onwards.

... Clearing... No horses.

We found Mac, Rapper and Ballet... still no Jingle.

Mac, the anglo-arab bay, took it upon himself to try to get with Butterfly. Manners Mac! By this time Butterfly was quite tired, and I knew it was time to head home... with Jingle nowhere to be found.

Sunday morning came, can you see resident grandfather Tad waiting for his daily bucket of beet pulp?
I love him quite a bit... such a good horse.

Sunday I seemingly found all the same horses as I had the previous day, just in different areas. I came across a couple others, but no Jingle. Poor Butterfly was worn out, and I made her work pretty hard for her supper, I felt a little guilty. I think Jingle must be with the larger herd, and I think I had found where they had been a day or two earlier, but I couldn't find where there tracks were heading. I rode home pretty sore - 7 hours in the saddle, and pretty sad. I really miss my horse, and I would have really liked to see him this weekend.

However - I made a new horsie friend. Butterfly sure is a good little mare, and I'm sad I've neglected to notice how special she is all these years. The only memory of her that sticks out in my mind is when a young boy from Japan came to camp... not only did he let Butterfly out of her box stall one day, she paraded around the barn, but she also dumped his poor bum in the river one day. Can't you see that wicked little glint in her eye? haha. I'd be happy to ride her again.

... but, i'd rather ride my baby.
Where are you Jingle? :(

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Riding Diary: 18

Horse: Quiz

Bit: Straight Shank Roller Bit

Time: 1 Hr

Ride: My lesson went well... I sure wish I had the time to ride Quiz more, but, nonetheless I always walk away with something to mentally run through in my head. For our warmup, my trainer had us posting-trot pole bending poles. We then moved onto loping those poles. Quiz was swapping leads, and as you know I struggle to know 100% which lead i'm on at all times, and so that was frustrating. However, I'm starting to figure it out more and more. I've always had a hard time focusing on the entire package of rider + horse, and now i'm figuring out timing and feel more and more.

Loping the poles I was bending Quiz more than I should have, and so I was focusing on keeping her straight, and I think she did really good. She's such a quick, zippy horse, I really do love riding her and my trainer noted how she is starting more and more to use her back-end, and how exercises like this really help her with that. Then we jogged and then loped on an entirely loose rein. Quiz, of course, was zipping around on the lope, but it was a pretty cool feeling totally abandoning contact and just letting her do her thing for once. The thing we need to work on is breaking down from the lope to the walk, Quiz digs in and stops, instead of just slowing down into the lope. Causing me, of course, to look so graceful. As always.

For Next Time: Keeping her straight through the poles, working on breaking down from lope to walk, and as always, focus more on the entire package.