dancing horses

dancing horses

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Waiting is Hard

When I die the message on my tombstone- assuming I have one which is not certain because I think I'd rather be scattered in the roots of a tree but I'm getting off topic- 
anyway I am pretty sure it will not read 'She was known for her incredible patience'. 

Frankly, it's much more likely to read 'it seemed like a good idea at the time'. 

So as I wait for snow to melt I'm trying to distract myself with plans.  I'm driving myself nutty with'will I do this clinic? or should I go to (insert name of friend)'s place? Is there a trail riding clinic I can attend? What about Joanna, is she coming back? It would be fun to have a fun show. .... and on I go.  I want to get some poles to incorporate pole work into our work. Where do you get those anyway? Has anyone used PVC pipes? 

I've been spending time grooming Carmen and practicing braiding. With her long mane I need to make sure that I know how to do a running braid. She's enjoying these sessions. 
"H" is for "help"


it's not as bad on this side
I can live with not riding (well sort of) but the lack of exercise is starting to tell on Carmen too. She's gained too much weight. This is what happens when you spend all day standing at the hay net and not moving around. She doesn't like snow but is getting better about going out in it. I've cut and cut her feed. Her hay overnight is practically non-existent. I've taken her blanket off to see if that helps burn some calories. It's been warmer and I'm pretty sure she has enough insulation! If it rains I'll put on her rain sheet. I'm hoping that this will work.

Here's the other thing I'm waiting for:

I was having trouble hearing back from the breeder and was getting quite frustrated. The kennel has moved to another province and she was having internet troubles. I think we have ti worked out and if all goes according to plan this little cutie will be in his new home on Tuesday. I've arranged for time off work (as one co-worker described as 'paw-ternity leave').

And yes, we think we have a name, we're just waiting to see if it 'fits'. Once it's confirmed I'll let you know. This is my first puppy since d'Arcy was a baby 12 years ago. I have a crate almost ready. It will  not work for his whole puppy hood but it will do until I get a larger one.  I'm trying to find one second hand but we'll see. I have a pen set up in the barn too. And making plans for puppy classes, socializing, etc.

This snow better keep on melting or I may start building an indoor all by myself. At least that would keep me occupied until Tuesday.

if you're expecting me to cooperate with these plans you better stop calling me fat.
And give me more cookies. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Snow Horse

Carmen: What a beautiful and warm day. I'm glad that the servant took our blankets off- I was too warm in mine. Maybe spring is coming after all. I think I'll have a nap. 


zzzzzzzz


*slamming door*

Irish uh Oh here she comes. 

She's not thinking to ride is she? The snow is still too deep! 

Let me look- hmm, nope she has that black bag that holds the weird box she likes to look into. We should be okay. 

Oh good. As long as she doesn't expect me to go into the deep snow. 


Where's she going? 

Out into the paddock. With her black bag. She better be careful- the snow is deep in places out there. 

Well I'm not following her! Not without carrots and I don't see any. 

******

Irish:  what on earth is she doing- rolling up the snow? 

Carmen: go check it out. I would but I'm a lady. 

Sigh. We can watch her from here. 
can you see Irish? What is she doing?
I'm not sure- she may have lost her mind

*******
Carmen: I can't believe that she's completely ignoring us. I can't take it anymore let's go see what's she's doing! 



Carmen: what on earth did she make? 



Irish: I think that it's a snow horse? 

Really? Let me see! *sniff* doesn't look much like a horse to me. Maybe it's modern art. 


hello little horse

Ha! I think it looks like you! 

Very funny. I'm going to fix it for her. 
um, horses don't look like this


first of all the hind quarters are all wrong
and don't get me started on the front! 

Irish: Now you did it- you knocked off the head. Let me help you

Carmen: I think we might be making it worse



 It's kinda fun to play with....but these servants are weird. 

Tell me about it young one. You have no idea....



"it wasn't me it was Irish who wrecked it, I told him not to"

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Boredom

Remember when I said that I was giving the horses February off?

Yeah.

Well.

I have to keep reminding myself of that.

From last year
The truth is I can't ride anyway- the snow is too deep.

But I want to.  After all it's been three whole weeks. 

And because the weather is cold I can't really be outside. There's too much snow to even snowshoe- it will need to pack down.

Today I was bored. I cleaned the stall, the barn, the tack room, scrubbed the buckets and then returned to the house.

yes I am a hardcore BTVS fan

So bored that I even contemplated doing housework.

I can recognize a crisis when I have one so I put a plea out on FB to save me from myself.

My friend Heather saved the day by suggesting I try this game called 'pickleball'. It's a tennis like game played with large 'ping pong' type rackets.

I like to try to learn something new every year and I hadn't figured out that was yet so this seemed like a good idea. We arranged to meet and she showed me the ropes. Heather teaches Grade 1 so she's a great teacher and very patient.

Turns out that it was a lot of fun. I quite liked the game and I signed up for 10 passes. It will help me stay in shape and out of trouble until the snow melts.

What do you do when you can't ride? Do you get bored?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Things We Do For Love

Let me start by saying that Ed and I are not really into Valentine's. While I am a fan of celebrating love, I am a believer that what happens on one day a year does not define whether someone loves you or not.

Sometimes though there are exceptions. Like today.

Yesterday we were hammered with a blizzard. Three times we cleared a path to the barn only to find it completely obliterated the next time I went out. Mostly we cleared it for d'Arcy- with his hind end these days he can't really deal with deep snow anymore.
I remember when he could bomb through the snow. 

This morning I had to carve a path to the barn again-the snow was up to my thighs. I never even questioned what I was doing. While this is the weather that makes me long for an indoor I am happy to have them home rather than worrying about them at a boarding facility and feeling guilty that I can't help the BO.
you can see that the wind has made deep drifts and then nothing.
The path I carved is deep- the ground slopes towards the house which
makes the photo deceptive
 After feeding the horses I went back into the house to load up on caffiene. Ed used the tractor to clear the paddock so I could let the horses out. A strand of my fence had come undone as well and I had to trudge through the snow to fix it. When Ed had the small paddock cleared I let them out. They moved around the small area snorting and trotting. I then started to work on clearing a rough path to the bigger field. It took a while while Irish supervised watched closely 'hurry up!'
not sure if you can see the path but for perspective the fence posts are over 4 feet
After a quick inspection Irish ran out to the field. Carmen decided to carve her own path through the drift. 



I think that Carmen might be learning to enjoy snow: 





She was pretty adorable prancing up to me and then stopping to look at me wide eyed with snow on her nose (sorry no photo or video). 
Wow, this is a lot of snow. And it's kinda fun! 

As Ed continues to plow out the driveway and I am getting ready to go back out and shovel I am struck by what we're willing to do for the creatures we love. I am not alone. My FB feed is full of updates shovelling snow and getting the horses out. 

If it's not love then it might just mean that we're crazy. And that couldn't be it. 

I am sure that Irish and Carmen appreciate it. Right? Right?




Monday, February 13, 2017

Horses in Cuba and Other Random Facts

We are currently in the middle of major blizzard. It's a bad one and showing no signs of stopping. The horses are snug in the barn and I thought that this was a good time to spend going through my photos from Cuba.

Cuba is a beautiful country and the people are open and friendly. I felt completely safe walking on my own on the beach every morning or back to my room in the evening. Before travelling there I knew very little about this small island nation but I learned some tings there and have been learning more since I returned. I am sure that there are some negative things about the politics of Cuba and it is not perfect by any means. But there are things to admire about this nation that seems to have truly put taking care of it's people first:

  • Cuba has one of the highest literacy rates in the world (about 99%). All Cubans must finish to Grade 9. University is free but you need to have the grades to go. There are over 40 universities for a population of 11.5 million. 
  • Medical care is free. There is one doctor for every 150 people and medical professionals are one of the largest exports. Medication is paid for but it is on a sliding scale- so the less you make the less you pay. And before you leap to the conclusion that the care would be sub-par the life expectancy is 79 years which is slightly higher than the U.S. and slightly lower than Canada (Monaco has the highest at 89 years)
  • Homelessness is virtually unheard of. Between government subsidies and the cuban culture there is always somewhere to live. It may be small and crowded but it's not the street. 


Transportation is a big issue in Cuba and people get around in all kinds of ways. Government vehicles are legally required to pick up hitchhikers if they have room. On the bus ride to the hotel we saw all sorts of ways people were travelling: walking, bicycles, back of pick up trucks


Horses are key part of the transportation system. We saw lots of wagons and horses being ridden. 


There horses tied up and grazing along the side of the road and some free around the resort


I saw a few thin ones and none I saw were great conformationally but all seemed sound and, frankly, as healthy as the people. I was talking to one driver and I asked about the tails because they all seemed to be very short- they are trimmed because behind the horse is a 'manure catcher' so that the streets are not dirtied. It was an interesting idea. 

Cynthia and I went riding one day and the horses were narrowly built but very agile climbing up the mountain. Mine was named 'Lucera' and he was quite forward and sweet. Our guide was named Louis and he was a civil engineer turned tour guide:
Many of the people working in the hotels and tourism industry have at least one degree. The money is  better. Louis and I were talking and he loves the outside and being in the country as much as I do. We compared horse keeping and were both fascinated by the differences. Of course hay is unheard of there - horses are let out to forage. I explained how horses love the snow and he was shocked.  

We went up a mountain side through a series of switchbacks but I never felt nervous and  the view was totally worth it:

While we were waiting for our bus to pick us up and take us back to the hotel Cynthia and were chatting about how safe Cuba was for women. Louis looked surprised that that would even be a concern. He looked at us and frowned 
"But women, they are a treasure. We must protect them. They are a gift."

It sounds smarmy but he was 100% genuine- I am not a swooner but I swooned a bit at that moment. 

If you have a chance to go to Cuba take it. It's a jewel. 


Thursday, February 9, 2017

Letters From Home

I am back from a wonderful vacation. It was just what I needed- warm, full of sun, sand, snorkelling, swimming, food and really really great people. There was also a horse ride up a mountain (but that's a different post).

The internet in Cuba is not good. As in it sucks. I couldn't even get the site to open so I could pay so I had to be trusting and assume that all is good. On the last day I was sitting in the lobby at 6:00 in the morning and could get on. I found a series of emails from home that I'm going to share with you.

************
Note that not all of the emails below were actually received but that doesn't mean that they are not true. 
***********

28 degrees and sunny

January 31, 2017
Day 1:
Everyone is tucked in and all is well.  Could have killed Chester.  I went out to do tuck in.  I'm walking under the trellis and I hear something on top if it and then it jumps down off the trellis in front of me.  After I landed from when I jumped, I realized it was Chester and he wanted in come into the house.
Hope you are enjoying Cuba.

Ed 
---------------

Where are you? The male servant was late with dinner. And then with the night feed. I tried to tell him by whispering in his ear but he's awfully jumpy.  I need to lodge a complaint. 

Irish 


February 1, 2017
Day 2

Well, nothing exciting today.  We got about 2" of snow.  Everyone is good, including me.
Love you, miss you!  Hope your enjoying your trip.

Ed
-----------------
Where are you? Irish says that you left us but you wouldn't do that would you? The male servant is not giving me enough food. I need you to come and sort this out. 

Carmen

February 2, 2017

Greetings from snowy NS.  We got about 6 cm of snow yesterday.  
Horses are all good. Nothing really to report.  I was in the garage tonight before tuck in and I heard a chirping nose.  After a while I started looking to see what was making the noise.  I saw 2 barn swallows in the garage.  I opened the door and they flew out.  Then Chester appeared and started stalking them.  To his dismay, he didn't get them.  Bird feeders are being stocked.
Curling tomorrow night so my report will be late.
Love you,

Ed 

Are you ever coming home? it's cold out and I need someone to groom me. The male servant continues to sleep in and I'm pretty sure that it's noon before he feeds us and lets us out. Carmen is being cranky and not letting me at the hay. She says that she's starving but I think she's getting fat. You should come home and exercise her. 

Irish


February 3, 2017

Irish says that you must have left to go buy another horse. You wouldn't do that would you? Not that I care. 'Cause I don't. 

So whatever. 

But you're not, right? 

Carmen


February 4, 2017

Day 6 I think. I never posted any entry yesterday.  It was a day from hell, but not because of the horses.  Did I ever tell you that a HATE home depot. I'll tell you why when you get home.  Our bathroom is torn apart.  We'd are leaking water from the shower and the drywall is wet.   Bedroom is painted, but not the bathroom.  I picked up the tile on Friday.  Curling Friday was fun.  

Today I spent the day at Alec's.  We fixed his steps and hung his tv downstairs.  Did some cleaning, shopping and came home. Joanne texted me to see how I was making out and to see if I needed help.  All is good, but I'm exhausted. Wait, I think this is day 5! Anyway, Amanda's coming tomorrow so I can change her oil and rotate the tires.
Cold here yesterday and today. Minus 10 - 12.  I think I have the heating system figured out.  I've been very good following your directions on feeding.  Carman is not happy that I'm doing so.
Can't wait until you get home!

Ed 
--------------------------

Carmen is getting out of hand. She's trying to steal my food and doesn't respect that I'm her elder. Your servant continues to be late. whatever happened to the other female servant? I like her- she gave me scratches. He never gives scratches. 

I can't believe you abandoned us. 

Irish

February 5, 2017

Conditions are not improving. I saw the male servant cleaning my stall and I rushed over to show him what I wanted but he chased me back out. If you are going to leave us to fend for ourselves you should at least get servants that are respectful. 

We don't need another horse here (if that's what you're doing- not that I care). 

Are you ever coming home?

Carmen
--------------------

Due to extended absence you have forfeited your side of the bed. You will have to bunk with the dog. 

Chester & Martin


February 6, 2017
Very cold morning (-12).  It did go to +3 during the day.  Amanda stopped and did get laundry and had lunch.
Horses are doing well.  Irish didn't eat much last night, but ate all of his breakfast.  He is one messy horse!
Bathroom is still pulled apart.  Have to shower downstairs (heads up).  I think I know where the shower is leaking.  I'm hoping I find time tomorrow to work on it.  Then Tuesday I can put the drywall back.  Should be able to use the shower by Wednesday or Thursday (fingers crossed).
Love you, miss you, see you soon.

Ed 
------------------
The dog is pining for you. I hope you're satisfied- you broke his heart. I was only teasing Carmen about a new horse but if you are getting a new one I don't want a mare. 

Irish
----------------
Dad says you are 'vacation'. I don't know what that is or why I couldn't go but don't worry about anything- I have it all under control. 

d'Arcy


 February 8 
(I was home and back to work.  I caught up on a number of chores in the barn, groomed the horses and, frankly was missing my morning walk on the beach. )


That's better. 

Ed, Irish & Carmen

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Anticipation

This word seems to sum up my life right now.  With the weather I was able to have another lesson with Shanea. After getting her saddle adjusted I wanted to follow up with a lesson.

I brought her up early to get her warmed up. I was happy I did because she was a bit wired. To be fair there were ATVs in the woods and the sounds of young people having a good time. I don't mind it but she found it to be unnerving. All part of the learning I said to her but she seemed skeptical. Then a flock of crows started flying and calling (probably harassing the young people). We all know that Carmen hates crows.

But I just kept us working - by the time Shanea arrived were weren't so much 'warmed up' as we were 'nerved up'. But that was find, we went to work on the circle. In fact the whole lesson was on the 20 metre circle. It was all about the half-halt and rating her pace.  We started at the walk and the idea was to use half-halts to get her to be under me and on the aids.

you can see that her back is a bit tight but she's listening and trying
She was very tight and I was to keep my seat in the saddle (and not stop tightening). I realized that she was anticipating something scary on the far side and I was anticipating her anticipation. Once I understood that I gave my head a shake and set my brain into what I wanted, not what I was worried she was going to do. That was the magic we needed and her back began to loosen and swing with her stride.

We then started working on walk-halt-walk transitions. The goal was for me to signal (with the HH) that we were going to halt so it wasn't so abrupt. Then Carmen was to soften in the bridle and step into contact. This is hard for us for a number of reasons:

  • Both of us try too hard which makes things abrupt. 
  • Carmen is very very sensitive. As she loosened her back (yay) any wrong movement on my part would cause her to react (not yay). 
  • Carmen will anticipate locations if I ask her to halt more than once in the same place. Which lead to some sudden halts on the centre line later in the ride. 
  • Halts for Carmen are signals for her to raise her head and scan for danger. 
So the trick was to get her in a swinging walk, ask her to step a bit shorter, halt softly in contact and then step forward into the rein without me doing anything drastic with my hands. 

As a dressage nerd I found this fun. 
On a good note, square halts are pretty easy for Carmen -

You can see that her mouth is a bit open here- that's because when she halted and didn't shoot her head up she would try to pull down on the bit. It was a fine balance between give and not letting her take. 

Riding is hard. 

However, I loved how she began to softly stretch into the contact as she went from halt-walk. I loved how soft in the bridle she became and how we were working together. 

We then went on to trot and the goal was to get her reaching into contact and going forward. 

But not fast. 

And not curling behind contact or pulling (and me not pulling either). 

With the improved saddle she was really stretching forward and her shoulders were so nice and free. 


It helps me to see how much her saddle was restricting her. 

Shanea had me work on getting her to slow her trot and not let it rush- again using the half-halt. Often I was too hard and she would fall into walk or halt. But with time I began to figure out what she needed and I could feel her come back to me. 

We began to hit our groove and she began to try to anticipate what I wanted (or was going to want). I worked on anticipating what support she needed. 

Sometimes we got it right and sometimes wrong but neither of us got too upset with each other. 

She did have one 90 degree spook but came right back to me and continued on past that spot without too much fuss. 

We finished up with some canter work. Carmen was getting a bit tired (and me too) so we didn't do a lot of it. Funny thing about Carmen- when she starts to feel like the pressure is too much she gets reactive. As we were flailing at the canter she suddenly began to worry about the bridge. 

The bridge that is outside of the ring and that she had been grazing beside yesterday and working beside all lesson. 

I laughed at her and told her that she would be okay and we then carried on. 

boing

OMG is that the bridge

We are still very much a work in progress. My plan is to give her February off and then get back at it in March. 

 I am anticipating a fun spring and summer ahead. 


And speaking of anticipation- I am heading out next week for a vacation in the sun. I am travelling to Cuba with some friends and I am looking forward to a week where my biggest decision is whether to go to the pool or the beach. I will be off-line and I can.not.wait.