Tuesday, October 30, 2012


My trainer is in Vegas, and so I didn't have my normal weekly lesson. However, I went out to ride anyways. I did a pretty big hour long ride with ponyboy, and we both worked hard. My abs were killing me, and I looked down at the end of the ride and realized that Jingle had worked up quite the sweat. I was pretty proud about that honestly because a lot of times my mindset is "quit on a good note" - i.e. quit before your horse hits his plateau (generally around 30-45 minutes) and starts getting really fricken pissy. Some days quitting on a good note is a really good strategy, other days, working on lots of different things, and working through issues is the strategy I should be using.

We loped - a lot. Jingle has gotten used to loping his small 1/4 arena circles and so I attempted to open him up to more of the arena with his left lead. He did well, and started listening to me a bit more. We did have a bit of our flinging around the arena and ducking corners issue, but what can you expect? My horse just loves to fling-flang around sometimes.

Then, we tackled the right lead. He was doing really well. He was really trying to lope his right lead on a small circle, I could tell, he would start to break down and only needed a little bit of encouragement before he'd pick it up again.

But then... we slammed right into my horses plateau. Does this happen to you guys? Jingle decides he's tired, and tired of me on him, and becomes a total.... pain in my behind. I was attempting more right lead stuff and he started just being a big out of control pissy pants. Stuff like this usually a) annoys me highly, which then gets my energy up, resulting in a disaster between the two of us b) scares me, resulting in me babying him. I caught myself performing both a) and b), and so I sat up straight and told my horse to lope his right lead, and not be such an a**hole to me, and by god - stay away from those standards and barrels in the middle of the arena or your going to break my knee caps right off, and if you decide to go bolting towards those aforementioned objects, I'm going to get after you, with reins, voice, leg and yep - spur, so quit that!

Result... Jingle loped his right lead. He wasn't exactly happy (snorting and neighing ensue), but he did it, and did it pretty well.

So we quit on a good note... after a long ride. :)

Some Photos....

Jingle, banished to the arena, because he attempted to pee in the breezeway.
Unhappy with me. Unhappy he is tied. Unhappy I keep leaving him alone.
Jingle's theme of the day = Unhappiness.

"Mahm, why are you leaving me here - I will certainly DIE!"

Jingle, looking particularly beef-cakey.
This photo lies.

"Mahm, stop messing around and let's go already.... i'm clearly all tacked up for a reason! Or - better yet, take all this junk off and let's eat grain."

A much more realistic shot of Jingle - my lanky small boy. 
Sweaty and sick of photos after our ride.
But what else am I suppose to do when you are drying off mister?!

"Mahm, I am all sweaty, cold and I hate loping my right lead and its all YOUR FAULT!"

I am blessed to have a horse with crazy eyes, that never fails to make me laugh, or roll my own eyes right back at him. You're a silly boy, and even when your a big pissy-pants, I love you.

& finally, a creepy shot of my drive home.... Apparently Hurricane Sandy's effects on Alberta are a "freezing fog" that basically enveloped me the entire way home. Spooky stuff two days before All Hallow's Eve. ;)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Want: Dubarry Boots

 You've probably seen these boots at all the major horse trade shows. They're called Dubarrys, all the ones here are from their "Country" Line of footwear, and generally at the shows you see reps standing in a bucket of water, declaring their water resistant, warm, miracle technology!

Well... I have been suckered into the hype, plus, I just think they are really cute. My go-to for warm footwear are my Muck Boots, but i'm uncomfortable riding with how bulky they are, plus they aren't exactly the cutest things to wear from school to the barn.

Dubarry's on the other hand.... 

Unfortunately, their price tag is disgustingly steep, and definitely not something I can ever justify spending money on. Sigh.

A girl can dream...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

100 Posts! (& a Riding Diary: 29)

Time: 1.5 hr

Ride: Winter has arrived for us poor southern-albertans my friends. 10 cm one day, snow warnings, flurries for three days... absolute madness!

My mother came to the barn for the first time ever, she's met Jingle before but has never seen the barn. First, she commented on how Jingle looked bored and tired when I was grooming. Personally, I love that he's so calm when I'm getting ready to ride now - such a change from a few years ago. She says he must call her "mumsie" (lol), not "grandma". Fine. Deal. She then drooled all over a couple other horses at the barn, poor Jingle, so unloved.

Our ride was really good, we worked on circles at the jog/trot, we're figuring out our circles - I tell ya. Did lots of stop work. (This is getting repetitive, every riding diary is circles-stop-lope-circles-done haha) & then we loped to the left. My trainer seemed genuinley surprised how well Jingle was loping on his left lead - told yaaaaaaa. After that we just did a bit of jogging, and that was pretty much our ride!

My poor mother was freezing her bum off, I later found her sitting infront of one of our massive heaters. I don't quite think she's ready to be a barn girl just yet.

& due to the fact winter has arrived early, Jingle's 'move-in' date was bumped up, so baby boy went in his own stall for the first time ever. I left him with some grain and he happily munched away. I wanted some photos, but he wasn't cooperating, "MAHM, GRAIN!" and neither was my mother who very badly wanted the heated seat of her Jeep. Ugh, family... A friend texted me an hour or two later and said that Jingle was snoozin' happily in his warm stall. =) Good boy.

For Next Time:
Lopin' - stops - Lopin' - stops - Lopin', now that we've started to really figure out our left lead, it's time to start slowing down and not zoom around so much, and then of course, maybe the right lead will just fall into place one of these days, and well.. can't forget about the fact that we still must work on our stops at all times. :)


Let us not forget...

Happy 100th Post to Meeeeeeee!!!!

100 Posts... absolutely crazy. This blog has been up & running for a little bit over a year, and honestly... what a year it has been. From last September until now, I've learnt SO much about myself, and I've learnt so much about horses. This time last year I was working at a crummy barn that had me so stressed out I thought I was liable to explode into a bazillion pieces at any moment. I was dreaming about Jingle, I was mourning summer, I was recieving lessons that was taking any natural ability I had and squashing it in the dirt... I was in total limbo.

Now, I am a horse owner, I am at a barn I absolutely love, I have a wonderful trainer. I have a blog where wonderful friends, family, and internet-friends (followers hehe), follow and comment and assist and lend advice!!

What a difference a year can make - here's too 100 more posts, and getting better and better as the posts go on. :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Customer Service... The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.

I have had some really interesting run-ins with customer service in the equine industry lately...

My first experience, I detailed when I bought my beaaaautiful Jeff Smith Cowhorse Saddle, the people at Frontier Western Shop in Claresholm, Alberta were absolutely WONDERFUL, and coddled, guided and helped me via email, phone, and in-person, every step of the way. Including taking in my old Circle Y, letting me return an ill-fitting saddle, and guiding me to one that I love and fits well! They also threw in a cinch for free, and guided me toward a saddle pad they thought would work best (Classice Equine ESP). In the end, I don't really like it as much (... post for another time), as my old standby - professional's choice SMX, but that doesn't matter - they honestly tried their hardest to make sure I was happy, and my horse was happy. I'm the type of person that appreciates that, and spends more money as a result. Isn't that the whole point behind customer service?! - Treat your clientele like gold so they continue to always come back, and spend lots of money.

Secondly, I went to Horse Life to get a saddle pad repaired and cleaned, they have a wicked fast, and cheap, cleaning and repair service. The store manager then educated me on a range of blankets, and I ended up buying one. He did make a semi-snarky comment about western riders, but he was pleasant and really easy to deal with. I was happy, and impressed with his product knowledge, honesty, attitude, opinions etc.

Then... 2 weeks later, I had to call them to see where my pad was - they had told me repairs were 10 days at the very most. Apparently the lady was a little behind due to a big order, and mine would take a couple more days. I wasn't bothered, but if I had needed the pad ASAP I would have been. However, when I went in to pick up my pad the staff was really nice and attentive, the repairs on my pad were excellent AND when I brought in tags showing I didn't think I had recieved my 20% off from last time, they were quick and no questions asked, refunded me the difference.

& then... there is the third customer service experience... which was not good at all. Atleast for this week, Lammles, you lose, big time. I shop at my local Lammles pretty regularly, especially for clothes. They definitely aren't the best with their immediate customer service, atleast at the location I shop at, they don't say "hi" and you have to go to them if you need help - but, that's okay, i'm a pro shopper, so I don't need to have my hand-held and don't mind being left alone.

However, one day, i really did need help and when I asked the lady working she seemed less than happy to oblige. I was looking for a cheap rain sheet for these hot days-cool nights we've been experiencing. They had tons of stuff on sale, and when I asked if they had my size in something on sale, she just stared at my blankly. Okay... I started to feel customer-guilt, I'm not some bargain-bin only shopper. So, I asked her for full-priced items, it then took quite a bit for me to finally get her to walk over to the blanket display (a big wall, requiring a ladder) and help me look. Then, that took her quite some time. Then when she finally found something, she threw it on the ground and kind of wandered off... No product knowledge, no assistance, no nothin'. Okay, one bad egg, I've worked, and been a manger, in retail - I get it.

I went over to the desk to see if I could order in a cinch I need. I had been in a couple weeks previous and was looking for the particular cinch and they were out of stock. I was later informed by a friend that works at another location that, they can order things in for me - that was definitely not offered that day... So, I went back, same day as blanket fiasco, and was handed over to a young boy who seemingly didn't understand what a "cinch" was. Okay... now i'm being snarky, but after 10 minutes he finally got me a Weaver catalogue, threw it on the counter and told me to find the cinch.

So... I proceeded to sit there, looking for this random cinch. Once I found it, I told him that I could take one of two, depending what they could order in, and what size I needed. I then had to prompt him to write my personal information and the cinch information down. This was all under the eye of the man I know to be the Store Manager...

Whatever. Atleast I got my cinch ordered, right?


I called today and spoke with a girl who sneezed, coughed and sniffled into the phone without apology, who asked me "Well... like... did anyone write your information down?"... Yes. "Did they like, write, it, in a like book?" .... No? Maybe? I don't know? Well.... she then went to speak to the store manager and came back and said "Oh ya we got an email back awhile ago, your order would have to be a special order. So like no one called you? Wanna order it? It'll take anywhere from 5-8 weeks to get here."

No. I do not want to deal with you at all.

& so, in a last ditch effort for her to redeem herself, I dropped the customer service F-bomb, "No, that is fine, I will just order it online off of Irvines."

Her response, "K bye." click.


So, Frontier - you win this week. Your personable, happy to help, well educated staff, never fail to impress. I am more than willing to take the 1.5 hour trek to your store because of how amazing you guys are, and if my gas light is low - your online store is the one I go too first.

Honestly, all I do is spend my time on the internet looking up tack stores, tack sets, funky tack, etc. etc. So perhaps I should just go and open my own tack store - 50% all my original blog readers ;)

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Would ya look at that?!

Went out to ride the boy last night, another late night ride, I think we both must be night owls - everything just works out for us late at night.

We did a bit of a warmup and I was fooling around with getting him to trot the barrel pattern, and then I was getting him to do figure 8's around two barrels - No hands! GOOD BOY. It was just one of those rides were I was kind of goofing around with him, and he seemed happy to follow along. Then I asked him to lope his left lead and BAM, perfect, absolutely fricken beautiful. I loped a small circle, one-handed, reins on his neck, and he just loped nice and slow around the circle, didn't try to break down, didn't try to throw a fit, just nice and slow and quiet.

His right lead wasn't AS pretty, of course, but he wasn't taking the circle so I asked him to lope the rail, which he did, and then as we came down to the end of the arena I got him to lope a small circle - he did it, beautifully. GOOD BOY.

Then, we trotted the barrel pattern, and loped home. He used his hind end and whipped around the barrel. GOOD BOY.

& Then... well, I decided to do something I've never done before...

Last weekend a friend of mine came out and asked if i've ever ridden Jingle bareback, which I haven't. He probably didn't mean anything of it, but it, for some stupid reason, the comment stung a bit, and then he made some comment along the lines of "Jingle doesn't like when I put weight on his back". Jingle isn't weird about weight on his back?! WTF?! I always lay over him and cuddle him.

I don't exactly love riding bareback, I used to ride bareback a lot when I rode outside in -30, because it would be too cold to even think about a saddle. & trust me, loping through snow drifts bareback gives you some darn good balance, and good core strength.
I then, at 18, attempted to jump on a green horse bareback and was dumped on my bum and broke my wrist pretty badly. After that I really only liked riding one horse bareback, Jed, to bring horses in, in the morning, but I trusted him with my life. He was one of those horses that would correct for you if you lost your balance, and like, attempt to catch you if you went to slip off. He was wicked. My core balance isn't bad - I can jog, post, and lope bareback, but honestly, I just prefer riding in a saddle.

& then I looked down at my horse that follows me around like a puppy, and clearly loves me as much as I love him, and thought - well, let's try this. I got up on a step and put weight on his back, he was fine, laid over his back, he was fine, put a leg over his back, he was fine. Then it got to that point where I realized MY horse was perfectly fine, and I was the one with the issue. This realization happens for me almost daily. So I clambered up there. He seemed confused at first, and only wanted to back up, so I asked him to turn a couple circles to get used to my weight, and then asked him to move forward - he wouldn't. I then, once again, realized this was MY ISSUE and so I sat up, pulled on my big girl pants, and nudged my horse and told him to walk, and then he did. We wandered around the arena, he cooled down, and I gave him a massive hug and told him once more, GOOD BOY.

I love my horse.
My mom once asked me if Jingle was the horse I should buy, and at the time I was unsure, I knew buying him was an emotionally loaded purchase. Now I know that he's becoming the horse that I should have bought, and I'm becoming the rider that he needs.
Such a nice warm fuzzy feeling.

Do you guys ride bareback at all, any Stacy Westfall readers out there?! or are you like me and prefer to be seated in a saddle?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Riding Diary: 28

Jingle cooling down in his Weatherbeeta cooler.

By the way - mini product review, I bought this cooler for him before I actually bought him (crazy horse mom, I know), and clearly I envisioned him much bigger than he was, so it's 2 sizes too big. BUT, this is Weatherbeeta's combo fleece/cooler and it's AWESOME. Highly recommend it - super soft, really good material, high quality, and I think I got it off Chick's for a wicked deal - like $40 or something? Maybe even less.

Bit: Shank bit with roller

Time: 1.5 hr

Ride: Jingle was being such a majestic ponyboy for me this last week that I expected some great things from this ride. Welllll.... we did so-so. Remember what I said about putting expectations on my lessons?  It never works out the way you want it too.

We started off with our usual warmup, Jingle was lookin' fly with his nice composed, quiet, slow jog. Atta boy! He is continuing to stop better and better at the walk, trot, and jog, which i'm awesome! Steps toward success!

Then we started to lope, Jingle just gets so hot and then starts to become a gigantic pissy pants. I don't work him very hard when I ride him alone, mostly because I never lope him, as I'm still uneasy about my leads/doing something wrong while trying to teach him to learn how to properly lope. So, our rides are usually blissful and, well, pretty easy and un-sweaty. Then my lessons come and he's asked to really work and he does a big "Hell no! Go away!" This generally features running amuck, being sassy, stopping, refusing to slow down, etc. It is something we are working through, and I just need to grow a backbone and atleast "work" my horse once a week. (I don't think he needs to be worked every time I ride him, in fact, I think our calm slow days are good for both of us, but like... I need to be able to lope my own horse... confidence, where art thou?) 

However, during our lesson, his left-lead is starting to really come along, I can lope him on a much longer rein, he's starting to slow down and not just zoom around like a cracked out race-horse. So, I'm hoping that now that one side of his loping is coming along really well, his other side (right lead) will just sort of click one day and fall into place because at the moment, the right lead is still a struggle. Picture this ever-stunning scenario, of my horse just trotting around like a chicken with his head cut off, whilst I try to ask him calm and collectedly for the right lead. When that doesn't work I attempt to ask with a bit of encouragement from a spur (my trainer has me wear really mild english spurs). He'll generally pick up the wrong lead, or if he does pick up the right one, I'll lose him in a minute. When that doesn't work I ask with a little bump of my crop, that tends to work for a bit, but honestly I become a totally uncoordinated mess with a fricken crop in my hand, and then I lose him... my fault ponyboy. However, we're working on just getting the right lead out of him and then quitting, moving to the left, and ending on a positive note.

It'll click, I know it will. We're getting there! Both my trainer and the mom of a girl who rides in my lesson said we were doing really well, and coming along nicely. yay. Another lady commented how Jingle has cute markings. (... are you insinuating his attitude isn't so cute? hahaaha)

For Next Time: keep on keepin' on until my horse can lope a circle on his right lead.

Trail Journal: 6; "A Fall Ride with Friends"

This post is long overdue, so I might as well get it out now while it's still topic (and weather) appropriate. The last two years friends from my ranch and I have headed out to Griffin Valley Ranch and done a bit of a fall "thanksgiving" trail-ride. A lot of the girls on the ride have volunteered there and one works there. It's a nice place to go for a little trail ride, and really close to the city! I still can't quite believe they let people go on unguided trail rides... craziness!

We headed out, expecting it to be freezing cold. I was bundled up in a long sleeve, two sweaters, a vest, my chaps, and gloves. However, it turned into a really nice afternoon fall day. I rode a big appaloosa named Sam, it felt weird to ride another horse, especially one I knew nothing about. This summer I predominately rode one horse, Cash, and then Jingle in the evenings, and when I was forced to ride another horse due to Cash going lame, I was an unhappy Riding Leader. I used to think I loved riding all sorts of different horses, but ... in my old age, I guess i'm becoming a one horse girl.

Fall in Alberta is definitely one of my favourite times of the year, all the colours, and the sunlight through the trees was pretty breathtaking.

Griffin has an interesting variety of horses, a true dude string of half-pony, half-quarter horse, half-who knows horses. Each horse was such a mutt, but they were all very well behaved and cute! One was even named Kesha - how silly.

Brigitte, our fearless leader.

Me and Sam... this is not a very flattering photo.

We did a bit of a loop, went on a big lope down a trail, and even did a little bit of log jumping!

The sun provided me with an insta-arty photo...

The crew heading back towards the Ranch...

Jon on "Randy", Myself on "Sam", Brigitte on "Reggie" and Laura on "Freckles"
... have I ever mentioned in this blog that I really don't like human names for horses? (Most of the time) So, it was quite amusing that most of the horses on this ride had human names.

All-in-All it was a really fun ride, and it was nice to get out on a trail again. Sam was a good horse, and I had fun on him. But, sorry Sam, you ain't no Jingle-horse.

& then, of course, the obligatory shot of Grand Valley Road.

A road that can lead anyone home.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Ponyboy Angelface

My boy is so lovely,
Thursday night I showed up at the barn super late (I have a chiropractor appointment that ran much later than expected), but I was bound and determined to ride. My poor horse... I approached him with a flashlight, dragged his half-asleep bum aside and the whole time he had this look in his eyes like, "but mom... it's late, and I am sleepy"
However, he was a gem, we worked in our regular three piece with the roller, on some softening stuff and just a nice calm jog and looooots of stops, and he's really starting to listen when I say "Woah".
Then today, Saturday, I came out and low and behold - prince angelface was back again! I focused more on transitions today, so like quarter circle jog, then walk, then jog, then walk, stop, jog, walk, jog, stop, etc. and he was really picking it up nicely. Then we'd back, soften, back, stop, jog. He's doing really well.
Finally, I just worked on the pole pattern with him at the trot and jog, and he did great both times. He tried to deek out a few times, but overall he's becoming waaaay more responsive to my leg, and figuring all this crazy stuff out!

I love my ponyboy.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Blanketing - 2/3 there!


Blanketing in Alberta... this is a learning curve. Today it's -5 c with snow on the ground, tomorrow it's suppose to be 16 c... c'mon Mother Nature?! That is crazy! The mood swing/weather fluctuations of mother nature make blanketing a real pain.

The barn I used to work at, we would blanket for boarders, and I remember days in winter where I would change one horses blanket 2 - 5 times a day, take off stable sheet, put on a lightweight, put a sheet over that, take those off, put on heavy weight with hood, go back, take off hood, then back into stable sheet, feed, it's gotten cold, put a sheet over that. Ugh. At my barn, blanketing is not offered for boarders, which is fine, but it also means in the Fall/Spring I worry about Jingle over heating/under heating.

Thus, I went with the, "BUY ALL THE BLANKETS", tactic. As you probably have caught on by now, I am a huge supporter of the "spend all the money on the horse" mindset. I went with cheaper blankets for now because he is moving into a group turnout situation in November, and I don't know how rambunctious/blanket ruining he will become in this new environment. However, so far, so good, he's been rollin' and runnin' and I have yet to see any damage to his blanket!

Here he is in Blanket #1: Rain sheet

"I iz distinguished in plaid"

"Sew Matureeee... right Mahm?"

Super basic Cavalier rain sheet, pretty cheap and low denier, just for those slightly crisp fall days, but it's still warm out.

Blanket #2: Light/Medium Weight

"I iz so kewt"

"Bye Mahm!"

I am completely blanking on the name, but it's a decent quality blanket that I hope will hold up. 1200 D I think? Plus I got it on sale because it's last years model, woop woop. The only downside is the back leg straps are a little short and don't have as much hang and give as i'd like them too. He seems comfortable though, so whatever.

So far Jingle seems happy in his blanket situation, however, his big crazy eyes still get pretty wide when I approach him with the big rustly-bustly blanket. Silly boy.

&... dun dun dunnnn... Blanket #3: Heavy Weight Winter Blanket

- yet to be decided -

I have a couple options floating around in my head... 

I could go with your basic, everyone has one Weatherbeeta, which is a pretty decent price (around $200 I think), and I think that's probably the route I plan to go.

However, I was looking at the blankets Crystal of Ranch Riding led me too... Up in Stitches... and I really like them. They are 2700 D and made with Thinsulate, so not only are they nice and thin, they can be worn in a wide variety of temperature (aka, perfect for fricken Alberta). However, they don't come with belly bands, which I wanted, and I also wanted a detachable hood, and all of a sudden they were a bit too expensive for little old student me. I did contact a lady who was selling a couple used though, so hopefully she gets back to me!

Then, when I was at Horselife buying my lightweight, I was introduced to Bucas blankets by the Store Manager. He was trying to sell me pretty hard on this brand, and I can admit, they are pretty cool. The one I really liked was the "Power Turnout", it has some fancy features like a reflective surface that apparently "absorbs and distributes energy", a silver lining that makes the blanket anti-bacterial, a fleece inside that acts as a cooler so you can almost blanket your horse right after a workout, and finally, the most attractive it apparently has a range of -30 to -10.

"I iz fancy pants horse in my fancy pants blanket"

Downsides? Well, he claimed I could literally use this blanket from now, all the way until the snow melts and it warms up again (so, who knows... June in Alberta?) However, these blankets still have 300 g of fill, so they are pretty hefty all the same - they look like winter heavyweights. He said my horse wouldn't overheat, but, to me, it doesn't make sense to me putting on a bulky blanket in warm temperatures. Like, I just can't wrap my head around this blanket being so magical and good at temperature regulation that it's like me wearing a winter Jacket in 10 c and being perfectly happy. Also, the price tag was the heftiest of all - $400. Now, I'm not one to skimp on things I think are good quality, but all the same - this is Jingle's first winter in a blanket and I would surely cry myself to sleep for weeks on end if he completely ruined a $400 magic blanket. So, do any of you have experience with these fancy-pants blankets? Are they all they are made out to be?

Also the manager, who I actually really liked and thought provided me with wicked customer service, did make a snarky comment about how he notices western riders always have the mindset to "buy cheap, not quality, because the horse will wreck it anyway." Whereas I guess all English riders are rich and can just drop $400 on a whim? ... I guess this whole post has been about how I went with cheap blankets due to my horse, but I still take offense!

So yep, that's it - 2/3 done the search, ready to spend more money on ponyboy at any moment!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Riding Diary: 27

Bit: Well... you'll see.

Time: 1.5 hr

Ride: The saga that is my horse and his mouth continues. I rode Jingle a couple times this week and he was just generally being annoying and attempting to ignore me. Freezing up, throwing his head when he gets too hot, his typical issues, however, they seemed more pronounced this week. I'm bad with his behavioural issues though because I know they've come from PAST pain responses, and so I baby him. Then I get into my lesson and say things like, "well... he was shaking his head a lot but maybe he wasn't comfortable", when this time last week we were loping perfect small circles, relaxed, on the left lead and "well I switched up bits so maybe that was the issue", when I tried him in an even milder, comparable to one he already has now, bit. I need to work on getting a back bone with my horse. Sigh. I just worry, but my dentist said to continue riding him in a bit for now, and that I wont see results right away, but over time I will notice quite a difference. My trainer also commented to me last night, "by the end of winter, you two will have all of this down - don't worry." So that's the theme of mine and my horses relationship right now - time.

Okay, so now that I've premised this as if it was the worst ride ever (it wasn't, I'm a drama queen)... We started off warming up with some limited space, so I was working Jingle is some smaller circles and he was doing really well. He is carrying himself better in those smaller circles and I had some friends out who know him from back in the day and they commented on how sleek and muscular he's starting to look. Handome Boy! This was the lesson of the bit drama, I usually ride Jingle in a D Ring snaffle with three piece dogbone copper roller, however, I felt as if the roller was only contributing to his fussiness, and so I thought to move into some more immobile. I then went out with just a basic french link in mind, and came back with something very similar, just not as flat as your traditional french link - more bulbous. (I'm sure there is a name for this bit, but it's early, and i'm tired) Honestly, if anything, I think it made his fussiness worse, so perhaps I was wrong. Horselife said that if I tried it once and didn't like it I could return it as long as I give it a really good cleaning, but that was a young girl telling me this, and I've never heard of a store taking bits back when they've been used... plus I would never want to buy a bit "new" that's been in a horses mouth, so goodbye $40.00.

Jingle is hard-mouthed, like... exceptionally hard mouthed, and the only time it really becomes a problem is his stops. Last week I started to feel as if he was really beginning to use his back end when he stops, but this week we started off with the same weak, leaky stops. This is probably me, once again, babying him, and not doing enough work stopping and transitioning with him - things to practice this week before next week's lesson! My trainer couldn't believe how hard mouthed he was, and got on him herself, well... I wasn't lying was I. She was pretty shocked I think. She commented that it's like trying to stop a brick wall or something, haha, poor Jingle and Louisa.

So, we moved him into the bit we had that worked well last week (double twisted snaffle - not as thin as a twisted wire though). It's such a precarious balance - bump them up into a harsher bit, make sure your hands are soft, don't bump their mouths too much - only get after them if you have too.. I stress out. My pony was NOT responding like he had last week - back to his pissy pants tantrum self.

So then we moved into a long shank three piece with a roller in the centre. Jingle has been ridden in a shank bit, so he knows what leverage is, but he used to really avoid leverage (especially in his turns), and that's why I chose to ride him in a snaffle. However, aside from his stop, he's starting to really work well and understand his cues more and more, so I wasn't too worried about adding shanks. He ended up doing pretty well, he was definitely responding more with his stops, and I didn't have to really yard on him so much, so it was a nice little happy medium.

On a more overall positive note - his jog is really coming along, the other night I must have jogged him 6 laps at a big circle, small circle, serpentines, around barrels, and he was nice and slow and moving really long and low, so there's a gait that we really are starting to get the hang of!

He is still a sticky sticky horse with his right lead, around and around and around we'll go at this like hyper-crazy jog, and he'll pick up a lope but it'll be the wrong lead and before I even attempt to correct him - bam, he breaks down again. We'll get there - I can feel it coming, his left lead is really coming along and starting to be something, but... that right lead will need some work.

For Next Time: My trainer let me keep that bridle for our next ride so I can keep working him in that bit and see if that's the route I want to go. (Thank the lord, I can't keep buying bits - sheesh!) So i'm going to work him a couple more times and see if he's going to actually respond to it, instead of respond nicely once and then fall back on his old ways. Other than that, his stop is my number one thing I want to work on this week.

As for the bit vs. bitless debate it's raging in my mind; On one hand it wouldn't hurt to see if I could try out a side pull or a hackamore or something and see if that's better. However, on the other, my dentist did advise to continuing riding him in a bit, and just give it loooooots of time. & so, for now, I'll continue searching for the elusive bit/tack combination that makes him happy, and if that doesn't seem to work in the next couple of months, I suppose we'll move into bitless. Nothing wrong with that.

Monday, October 8, 2012


(as you can see - I sort of solved my blanket queries - more on that in a later post)

Today, I spent a wonderful day with great friends, over vietnamese one of my friends Laura said, "well, it's so hard to leave Calgary because I have you guys - my forever friends" and it really just made my heart happy. I was blessed to spend time at a place that birthed and nourished my love of horses, but it also created, almost unknowingly to me, lifelong friendships. I have a select group of people that I know I will be able to call friends until the day I die. A crazy, intense, wonderful place brought us together, but so many other things have bonded us. Today, I'm thankful for my bbj family.

With this happiness I came home to study for a midterm I have Thursday (... yet to crack a book, woopsie), and a photo of Jingle and I caught my eye. Beside my office door is a printed photo of Jingle and I two summers ago, push-pinned to my wall. I spent an entire year staring at that photo, and every time I looked at it, my heart hurt. I would begin dreading the fact I had left my horse behind at my ranch, wishing I had him close to me, regretting decisions I had made. Just missing him, so much.

I posted the above photo on Facebook today, and one comment I got was, "there is something about a girl and her horse", the other was "so you"

My heart is filled with happiness today because of all the wonderful people I have in my life, people who allow me to post thousands of photos of my horse, and who I get to share my passion with. & of course, there's ponyboy - there are no words.

So here is to forever friends, and heart horses, on this day of thankfullness.

I hope you are all having the most wonderful of Thanksgivings, and if you are in the USA - I hope something made your heart happy today. :)

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Well, today, it snowed.


I am not a winter person, although I appreciate how beautiful winter is, and I do love Christmas... I just don't like being cold. Plus, I am a sufferer of winter blues. So, being all glum and cold for the 8 months of winter we sometimes get in Alberta, is just not my cup of tea.

But now, as a new horse owner, I am faced with some winter blanket questions.

Jingle will be blanketed for the first time this winter, and I plan to move him inside for the winter months. He isn't cooling down quickly enough to put him back outside after I ride in the evenings, and I rarely have time to ride anytime during the day. However, the area where he will be stalled is still pretty cool in the winter months, and most of the horses wear their winter blankets inside, as well as out. This means he'll be wearing his blanket 24/7, which I know most blanketed horses do, but it also means i'm on the lookout for something very breathable. Secondly, Jingle's turnout will now change, he'll be out with the geldings. All of our geldings that are stalled go out together in a big field during the day. I'm worried about the horses picking on him/playing too rough and ripping his blanket to shreds. So I need something strong, and secure.

So, any advice? What kind of blanket should I get?

I'm leaning towards a Weatherbeeta, probably the Freestyle with the detachable hood, but they only go to 1680 D. The cheaper ones are about 1200 D, and that's still pretty high for most of the blankets I've seen. However, knowing my horse, his blanket will probably become ripped to shreds in a couple months, so maybe shelling out the money for the higher D blankets like the Freestyle, or Rambo and Shedrow makes isn't really worth it?

Also, because he's never worn a blanket, but our winters can get freakishly cold (-40 celsius, ya'll know what i'm talking 'bout?!) should I get him a lighter-medium weight and a heavy weight to get him used to the whole blanketing thing? I don't wear my heavy snowboarding jacket on chilly November days, and certainly don't wear my warm bomber jacket on frigid, death-defying January days...

Hmmm.. things to think about.

I think Jingle will look really cute in a hooded blanket, just saying.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Riding Diary: 26

I'd like to thank you guys for your comments on my last post - I really appreciated it, and it provided me a little pick me up. I must admit, I left the barn feeling pretty down and out about my boy that day, but - it's best to look to the positive right? I gave him three days off to get used to what the Dentist called, "a totally new mouth", and then rode him on Friday. We didn't do much, lots of minimal-contact walk-jog-trot, and lots of turns, and bends to the right and left, and he did well. He was still mouthing the bit incessantly (I didn't have his noseband on), but I asked him to stop numerous times and there was no head-shaking. So I quit on a good note and I think he was kind of confused like, "Hey girl, no fighting for the lope today - why is that?" He got some grain afterwards and didn't seem to be spitting as much as he usually does! (My Dentist said he might even spit more - translate to grain.everywhere.) and I think he's really liking his little Apple Cider Vinegar massages I do with him after his ride to loosen up those tense muscles and draw heat out of his jaw structure. He gets all zoned out and puts his head on my chest and let's me just rub and love all over him.

I worked all weekend so yesterday (Monday) was my first day I could come out and ride again - and it was my lesson! I was pretty apprehensive because I knew that my trainer would be asking me for more contact than I'd used on Friday, and pushing me, and ponyboy, harder than I ever push us. I've detailed before that I am a push-over owner, haven't I?

So, without further ado...

Bit: I don't know the technical name for this bit, but it's a harsher snaffle. It has a straight copper twist bar, as well as your standard jointed mouth piece, so that when you pick up the reins, the bar is acting more as a curb bit would act, but you are also combining the nutcracker effect on the top of their mouth.

Time: 1 hr

Ride: So, with my boys mouth-issues I was a little worried when my trainer pulled this bit out of her bag of tricks. However, now that the Dentist has come out and really detailed every little issue Jingle has with his mouth, I can better discern what of his is (or was) a pain response, and what is learned behaviour. His head shaking I think was a mixture of both, but since he's not doing it as much now (only when he's frustrated) I'm leaning more on the pain response side, especially on his right side. His hard-mouth definitely comes from an early pain response in his life, but has now developed into learned behaviour. Jingle is hard-mouthed with every bit I put him in, and by hard-mouthed I mean like... hard-freaking-mouthed. Plus, my trainer is amazing, and I respect her greatly - she wouldn't put a harsh bit in his mouth just because, she always has a reason for what she does.

In the end, I think the bitting-up for the lesson really helped him and I. I focused more on keeping my hands soft and quiet, and when I asked him for something I could almost feel that lightbulb go off like, "Oh, okay, stop means stop." Plus, he wasn't head-shaking!

To the left, Jingle is really starting to pick up the lope (and he was loping realllllly nice small circles too!), a couple times we were transitioning from a jog to a lope and I couldn't help but think, "woah, this is my horse!" He did really well, and I was proud of him. He also was really starting to stop with his backend, like dig in, and stop. However, he is still sticky to the right, (his bad-mouth side), and that's what the Dentist said was his bad side as well. So, that side will take time I think. He just needs to learn that going to the right wont hurt anymore. We went around, and around, and around, and when he did lope, he'd pick up the wrong lead, and for the most part he would just rush-trot everything. Finally, we quit, cooled down, and picked up from the left, and ended on a really nice note. It'll take time - but we're figuring it out!

To cool off, we went outside and walked down the lane-way. Leaves were falling everywhere and it was quite pretty, I'm not excited for the snow to come. I got off to close a gate and wanted to take a photo of Jingle and he kept following me like "Mahmmm, what are we doing?!", he's cute, I love him.

Oh ya! I went to pick out his feet afterwards, and for the first time in forever he was pulling his foot away! So I held his toe and told him to quit that, and all of a sudden he falls to his knees! Thankfully, I don't tie him (... remember that post I never wrote? ya well...), so he just kind of half laid there and looked at me with his big, "I'm sorry mom, that was dumb" look... yes, Jingle, it was.

For Next Time: My trainer commented that my upper body wasn't quiet enough, and that I was trying to "cowboy" him into the lope. Ahem... so I was flapping my arms and legs like an idiot. I need to focus on being quiet, and trying to use subtle cues, and then increase pressure until he responds to my aids. We're going to make this hard-horse soft damnit! I'm hoping I can get out two more times this week and we can just really work on staying on the rail, listening more to my legs, and working in those small circles he is starting to understand more & more.