Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Babies (& Mamas!) First Gymkhana

"Mahm, I really think you have me confused with some other horses that wants to do stuff like this..."

On Sunday Jingle and I went to our very first gymkhana ever. There's a fun (affectionately referred to as "Beer League") by some Gymkhana series close to our barn, and during winter/spring I had it in my head that we'd work toward that and by the time they started Jingle would be loping all the patterns like a bo$$. Well... my season turned into a bit of a season of Jingle being lame, sore, pulling shoes etc. etc... so by the time the August Gymkhana hit I think i'd only been "riding" him for two weeks and that was light, light riding. Realistically by the time this one came around I hadn't been riding much either, but we had gotten back to loping, he was listening to me as good as he generally does and most importantly, he was feeling strong again. So, I thought, heck - let's do it, who cares if we only trot the patterns!

There was a photographer who was there, and luckily for me there's photos from both times I did barrels.


I was weirdly nervous but Jingle entered the arena just fine and trotted happily through the pattern, we just recently started "going left" to our third, and I really need to keep my leg on him through the second barrel... so I think that's what this face is all about haha.

This is Jingle, just looking like a serious boss.

These photos crack me up for various reasons...

Barrel 1, First Run:

 Barrel 1, Second Run:

.. Oh, you know, just casually doing the exact same thing with the same dead-angry look on my face. Realistically though I had my reins much too loose for both my runs and wasn't focused enough to crawl my reins. I learned my lesson, and Jingle definitely took advantage of my extra-long reins.

On our second run, Jingle blew out on me past second and picked up a bit of a frazzled lope, causing his rider to get even more frazzled. I could hear "WRONG SIDE" and I thought, what? & then, I realized - doh - I was coming at the barrel from the wrong side. Due to the fact I've just started "going left" with him, I completely forgot the pattern - rookie move. haha I just laughed it off, finished it off and loped home. What more could I do?

I love this photo... I love my horse.


Unfortunately there is no photo or video documentation of poles. Jingle was really good, I had visions of knocking every single pole home, but thankfully he weaved just the right amount and not a single pole was knocked. My only issue during poles was that I was letting him lope home and his stop was ... not quite there... I honestly think I should have just been sitting down and shutting him down sooner, but my friend Caron and her horse Quiz did have us hurtling into her area once she was done her run. Woopsies. The guy at the gate gave me a stern look and a "turn the other way next time", sure sir, I promise I wont "plan" to run into my friend again. haha Sigh.. the amount of times Jingle has run me into inappropriate things in my life.. I tell ya.

It was wonderful timing that my friend Sarah and her son, Ben, arrived to watch the last two events we participated in, so we have video AND photos of those. Also, my friend's mom was there, and she also rides with us, between Poles and the next event, Stakes, she basically told me to buck up and start loping. 

The conversation kind of went like this...
Her: "Louisa, you have a good seat, it's time to pick up the speed, what's the worst that could happen?"
Me: "Uhm Jingle could run into the other person, and then hop the fence and maul a child..."
Her: "Lope."
Me: "Ok. I will."
So she is the voice you hear on the videos saying "LOUISA! COME ON!" haha.

Photo Ops are always welcome because my horse is the most gorgeous boy in the whole world...

Seriously, some random lady told me that, no joke.
She said she "loved him and thought he was exceptionally beautiful"
Jingle says, "datz right, I am zeeeeeeee prettiest of all zeeee paints in da world"

The venue isn't so bad either... a beautiful day with hay bales and the rocky mountains in the distance..


K, I'll shut up now, video time:

Stakes Race, Run 1

Stakes Race, Run 2

Jingle and I clearly need to work on our speed-turns, we were kind of taking them like a giant wrecking ball, hence the announcer telling me to stay on my side in that last video. I think they feared we were going to wrecking ball straight into their eye-cameras.

Thread the Needle:

Team Pow-Wow

Thread the Needle is kind of nerve-wracking, you have to run into an "enclosed space" turn quick and then book it right out... I had visions of just mutilating ALL THE POLES.

Thread the Needle, Run 1

Thread the Needle, Run 2

I thought our Thread the Needle went really well, especially our first run - homeboy pivoted like a goddamn champ. Anyways, as you guys can probably tell - I am on cloud 9 about how wonderful my boy did at the gymkhana. We had some hiccups about getting on - apparently Jingle thought not allowing me to get on would be a fun game, and I always forget he HATES arena dirt in back SMB's, so he stomps around like a whiney baby until I can take his "dirty socks" off. 

Please critique and give me advice as you see fit, but much like my friends 12 year old cousin being told she needs to shorten her reins in her patterns, I'll probably just give you the same "lalalalalalalaa i love my horse" big-ass smile, and not listen to a word you have to say. WEEEEEE, Jingle is da best.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

It's Official!

Well, it is official, I am moving to the states, however, plans have slightly changed.

A few weeks ago I got the call from the lady I was suppose to be heading down to work for. She was having a hard go of things, some of her canadian clients had pulled out of her training program due to the fact she wasn't planning on returning after winter. Thus, she kind of had the rug pulled out from under her right as she was heading down to Texas, and found herself with very few horses in training and not really sure what she was going to do. She obviously wasn't in a very good place, and as I listened to her talk about what had been going on my heart totally sank. Then, towards the end of her conversation she said, "Don't worry, we're going to get you down here, it just wont be with me for right now."

So, a week or two later I was talking to another cutting horse trainer, one of three she had scouted out for me to work for. She said he was my best bet, and the best out of the three. He is out of Weatherford, Texas... pretty much Mecca of the Cutting Horse world... and so, I found myself jumping right in and just doing it, the one-way ticket is booked. I'm planning on going down there, we'll figure out if we're a good fit for eachother and if we are, he'll sponsor me. If not, I can also go work with that same lady come January in Arizona, just like we had planned.

The same day I booked my flight for October 8 into Dallas-Fort Worth, a girl that I have on facebook who leans more towards the hippie side of things posted this very "typical girl photo" on her wall. For weeks, as I've been planning this move I've seen stylized photos popping up everywhere with the same message as this one. All her friends started commenting "Ya Girl, One Day We'll Get There!", "Peace & Love, Get in your Car & GO", etc. etc. and I was just sitting in my room, scared shitless, wanting to type "Maybe you guys should actually try this, and realize it's not as mystical and magical as it seems", truth is, I wasn't seeing a lot of romance in moving to a far-away state, in another country, to work for someone I have never, ever met. As I hit "Continue" to pay for my flight, my stomach must have flipped 16 times before I felt like I could stand up again.

This is real. Holy Heck.

However, that same day, as I was rolling my eyes at hippies and girly-girls, I went for Chinese with a friend, and retrieved this fortune from my fortune cookie...

... so maybe the Universe is trying to tell me to stop judging others, just suck it up and jump right in.

The Universe is, of course, right. I've been looking around at my situation and although I love my friends and family dearly (and Jingle the mostest, oh god, leaving him, i can't even), it's time for me to jump into some change.

So, uhmm... Texas? Here I come!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Trying Something New: Tourist Trail-Ride!

The other week my friend, Sarah and I, headed up to Banff (a mountain town in the Rockies about an hour away from Calgary) for a bit of an escape day from the city. I had planned to go up and see an old friend of mine, Catie, who I worked with at a ranch in Nanton. She is now a guide, and manager, up at Warner's Guiding and Outfitting in Banff. It was a happy coincidence an old-riding leader from my other Ranch, Bates, was working there as well this summer. Unfortunately, both friends had to work, but we figured we'd make a day out of it anyway!

Once we got there and said hi, we were told that if we wanted to, we could go on one of the one hour trail rides that Warner's Guiding and Outfitting does from the Banff Springs Hotel. This is like the epitome of a "tacky" tourist ride, but, we thought - heck might as well, a ride is a ride! and to top it all off, our old friend Garry was to lead it!

We got onto our trusty mounts, I was riding Zorro! Our ride-mates were a mother and her two children, a brother and sister, both who started hysterically crying before the ride began. My friend on the ground, Catie, promptly handed me a lead-rope attached to the girl and with a bit of a grimace said, "would you mind ponying her?". I agreed, apparently, you can take the camp away from the counsellor, but you can't take the counsellor out of the girl.

It was actually quite the stunning ride, it was a bit surreal walking a horse alongside a highway, or through a parking lot, but we got to see some of Banff's sites from horseback. Here is Bow Falls!

This was a horse-crossing sign beside a golf course. I've heard tales of girls in mini-skirts and flip flops doing this ride, but let me tell you guys, us two-ex guides were dressed appropriately for the occasion!

Here is the Banff Springs Hotel above the golf course, the Banff Springs is like a fairytale castle, it is potentially one of the most beautiful hotels in the world. I love going there. We wandered around inside for a bit before our ride, and it smelt like Jasmine from the spa, and... a very well cooked steak. Basically, it smelt like rich people. It's a bit of a pricey place to stay... maybe one day. ;)

Here is my ponying companion, who, after 2 minutes, stopped crying and started chatting with us. She apparently had done a couple rides before and realistically just wanted to trot the whole time. Kids, I tell ya, zero to sixty. Scared to "I WANNA GO FAST". Then, my compadre, Sarah in the background doing what tourists do... taking selfies on her iPhone!

Here is Garry leading the little brother through a beautiful river, the boy cried (... wailed) a bit longer than his sister, but eventually was won over by Garry's authentic cowboy cool. Their mother seemed relieved that her kids were in good hands, and seemed to enjoy herself probably a littttttle bit more than she would have if we weren't along for the ride.

Beautiful! Just a hop skip and a jump from Calgary, basically our backyard!

The surreal moments kept coming... our trail ride had to diverge through a parking lot due to electrical wires being changed around in the nearby forest.

Then of course, Garry had to push the button on the cross walk to stop traffic for us, can't say I've ever done that on my horse before!

Garry, our fearless leader, is indeed a bit of a ham.

Zorro - my trusty steed!

I introduced Sarah to the "Princess Pose" after I discovered it at Ranch Girls - now it's a must in our photos. This is a very tourist photo indeed - I could care less what my horse looks like - shame on me!

Two tourists, out for a ride!

It sure felt good to be horseback with two old friends again, we had such a lovely ride, the "tourist" parts of it (crosswalks and navigating by a precarious sewage truck) only made it that much more fun and memorable. Sarah and I were very happy to have been able to get a ride in on our "escape day" & I got to check something else off the "never done this before" list.

Next up Sarah and I have decided that we're due for a tourist ride.... galloping along the beach somewhere tropical. Girls can dream, right?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Relationships and Horses

I've been toying around with the idea of making this blog a little more lifestyle, and a little more personal. So, you know.. instead of talking about furtniture choices with you guys, why not dive right in to the nitty-gritty?

A couple weeks ago, Jingle and I were struggling. We were having some serious communication issues, and I found myself frusterated and annoyed. Usually, if we're having a bad day I think to myself, "work harder", on this particular day I thought, "give up and crawl in a hole." Of course, my time with horses has taught me a lot about myself... usually when I'm really struggling, something is going on in my personal life.

& of course, something was.

I had been seeing someone, when we met he knew I was planning on moving. I was content exsisting in a fairy land of happiness until I left. He, however, grew more stressed, bitter, angry and sad about it. Just as quickly as he came into my life, he walked right on out.

Don't worry, I'm okay. Like many of you are probably thinking, "it was for the best", and it was. However, in the moment, that line of rational thinking doesn't take away from the hurt or sadness of the situation. I have always marvelled at how easy someone can come into your life, and how easy it is for them to, all of a sudden, just be gone. I have been dealt much dirtier, more emotional breakups than this one, but it's still interesting to me how all of a sudden someone's presence can go from being there, to being missed, to grower into a tinier little hole, until all of a sudden one day you wake up and your content, your okay with them being gone.

The next morning, after a particularly emotionally draining goodbye, I headed out to see Jingle, on my mind was relationships, and communication issues. I mulled over these topics while I groomed, and rode, and then gave him a bath. All the while, he was the gentleman I needed him to be.

When it comes to relationships, the truth of the matter is, I shy away from conflict, and instead tip-toe around it. I'm a wimp, I'd just rather... not. In everyday life i'm so independent and self-assured, but when it comes to "fighting" with someone... i'd really rather just say i'm sorry (even if i'm not) and then run away from the conflict (even if I cant). This is something that just recently dawned on me as an issue in how I handle conflict, and what's even more interesting is that I don't think people who know me would describe my personality as one that "shys away from discourse", much the opposite really.

So where did all this self-realization come from? Horses, naturally.

I got to thinking about Jingle, and the many ups and downs we have had. For most of us, especially those of you who read my blog, and blog about your own trials and tribulations with your horses, our horses are semi-permanant fixtures in our lives. Most of us are not trainers, and the horses we have are the horses we will continue to work with. Not many of us have the luxury of "buying up", so to speak, bigger, better, showier etc. When we are faced with a problem, we are also faced with how we're going to fix it.

Horses don't have human emotions, no matter how much I like to "talk" for Jingle. If they are being "mean", "pissy", "rude" or "ornary", something is going on, and it's the riders job to figure it out. Horses can communicate clear as day sometimes, and other times, you have to dig to find out what's going on. Maybe your mare is cycling, your gelding has a mild case of colic, your horse doesn't appreciate your spurs banging into it's sides, your saddle isn't fitting right, your pad is bunched up, there is a horse in the arena more dominant than your own and your horses mind is there, not with you, etc. etc. etc. the list goes on. More often than not, our own actions and physical responses are illicitating responses from our horses. I do think horses can have "moods" so to speak, but I think they are more intuned with the world around them, and the emotions of their riders, than our own human emotions can be.

Let's take for example something Jingle and I have been working on steadily for a year - slowing down his gaits (and in turn, his mind). His mind is such a flurry, so fast-paced, that slowing him physically down has been an uphill battle. A lot of times, his response is to swing his head up and away, to bolt, to scatter sideways - generally, messy. It has taken a lot of time, and slow, consistent work to get him to do a nice, even-beated jog. Even more so, somedays he's perfect, and other days it's just not there. It's an ongoing work-in-progress. Some days, usually when i'm distracted or unfocused, I despise that work in progress, but most days I am happy to pick and plod away at something we are working on. I love the little triumphs, I relish in the even bigger successes. Hard work pays off.

This led me to thinking, how many times have I exhibited the same amount of try and work ethic  in a human-human relationship? Obviously, some relationships come and go, but in other instances, did him or I just give up because it seemed easier than working... and working hard... on something? I'm sure I have. I've ducked away from conflict and I've ducked out of relationships. Even more so, have I hidden from the real issues in a relationship, and hidden behind fake decoy issues? Yep, I've done that too.

With Jingle, I'm not allowed to do that. You can't end a ride on a bad note, (okay, you can, everyone has but I strive not too everytime I ride - no matter the mood I am in, or how helpless I feel about my riding ability, or my horse) You can't just give up and walk away either... Jingle's board is a little too expensive to never ride him again, and he's the only horse I got. Of course, I could sell him, but that would shatter both of us - so we keep working, we put serious time and effort into our relationship. He takes a step, I take a step. He falters, I go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate.

With horses, it's about try, will and dedication. It's a true partnership, in every sense of the word, if something isn't working... you just have to take a big deep breathe, and work even harder.

So that's where I am right now, something to think about, something to think over, and something to continue to elaborate on. Something I hope to bring to the table in my next relationship.

But, for the here-and-now, in the present, single-Louisa is going to go out to the barn tonight and work on transitions... because, what else can I do?

Friday, September 13, 2013

For Sale:

Confession: I am a tack hoarder, and it is a problem

Reality: I am leaving for the states, and have a large amount of random tack in my garage that I don't need, nor use. Also, I have a non-horsie mother who loves to purge-clean... all I need is her to get in a mood and throw out all my tack.

So... Some of it is going up for sale! If any of you are interested in anything (or know anyone that is interested) please let me know. My email is Plus, I'll give you a blog-friend discount! :) Help my "Move to 'Murica Fund!" haha

1. Steve Guitron Horse Hair 8 plait Hackamore Set for Sale

really nice quality, especially for the price, still has the tags on it, and was on my horse for a total of 5 minutes. I'm leaving to the states in a month and am just trying to sell of the tack that I don't need/can't come with me.Paid $175.00 for the set, this was a "special" he did that he no longer offers, the regular price would be over $200.00 

I am willing to sell for $140.00, shipping not included.

2. Rope Cinch from Frontier, size 34
never used
$20 + shipping

3. Weaver Smart Cinch 27 Mohair Strand, lightly used, originally paid $60, will take $40 OBO + shipping

4Ariat field boots, very lightly used, too slim in the calf for me 65 + shipping

5Professional's Choice SMX Ortho Pad, Lightly used, purchased a few months ago for $210.00, willing to sell for $150 OBO + shipping

6Classic Equine ESP pad, Lightly Used, purchased a few months ago from Frontier for $190.00, willing to sell for $130 OBO + shipping

7. Weatherbeeta Everest Winter Blanket, 1200 Denier with Heavy Combo Neck, Size 72". Barely Used... i think my boy wore it about 10 times, super warm blanket. Bought for $140, willing to sell for $90 OBO + shipping 

10. Nylon Side-pull from Frontier, never used, paid $35, willing to sell for $20 OBO + shipping