dancing horses

dancing horses

Wednesday, February 28, 2024


 It is human nature to assume that we can impose order and structure on our lives. We make plans, we examine failures and think that we can prevent chaos. 

But chaos is inevitable. No matter how hard we try our lives will, at times feel like they are spinning out of control. 

Honestly, if that does not describe life with horses I don't know what does. February has been a month of things creating disorder.  Between the truck debacle, snow storms and unexpected truck shopping has made us feel like we're in a constant game of catch up.  

The snow storm demolished boards in my riding ring

Quaid has been doing great with his training. Except that he's not eating as much as we'd like. Nikki has tried everything so last week I decided to put him on ulcer meds to see if the stress of everything has resulted in his gut being upset. 

Look at this superstar

Tomorrow I go to see him. He's coming home on Friday. With the truck uncertainty and for my own peace of mind I decided to hire someone to pick him up and bring him home. Once I get him home I'll take my trailer and go get Carmen.  And because Ed and I have been working hard on truck shopping, with my new (to us) truck.  

You know who's not in a state of disorder? This girl. 
it was a stormy day so we played
the 'find the ball and get to rest'  game

She's been having a grand time at her spot. It's been really nice to go and spend quality time with her. Julia watched us the other day and commented on how quiet and relaxed she's been. 

Carmen: I don't believe in disorder
 unless I am the source. 

I think that the lesson I'm taking is that we can't expect to be able to completely control everything around us. Instead we have to recognise that no matter how prepared we are things will fall apart at times. The trick is to take a deep breath and figure out what to do next. 

I am looking forward to things getting back to 'normal' for a least a little while. Because in other news, one of these little potatoes is going to be the new deputy of security on the farm: 
German Shepherd puppies from the breeder who owns
Guinness' father. 

Monday, February 19, 2024

Chugging Along

 Here we are in Mid-February and there's a lot more action on the horse front. There's also a lot more snow. 

My driveway in under there somewhere

But you can feel the warmth in the sun and the days are growing longer. 

It might be cold but there's always baking

Carmen continues to amaze me with how well she has settled into her current life. She's definitely happy.

Sharing Marshall's hay even though hers is a few feet away

We've settled into a routine: I clean her stall and then tack her up to ride. She's been really good. Except for one day when the snow slid off the roof. That really scared her and she took off on me. But I got her back in a a few minutes and we had a good ride. She loves the mirrors. I see her watching herself as we go by and it's adorable. 

Mirror Mirror on the wall

I'm curious to see what she'll be like when we return home. But now I know that there's a mellow Carmen in there....

I've been getting regular updates on Quaid. He's doing really well. Nikki told me that he's the most prepared horse she's had in for training. Which makes me feel proud. 

Quaid's new BFF

Mr. Smarty Pants

I swear he looked like he grew when I saw him today.  The wind was howling and he was quite worried about the noise in the arena. But after some work on the ground he settled. It was neat to see that as soon as the tack when on he was all business. Tacking up Carmen can cause her to feel more stress but Quaid really seemed to settle with it on. Like he knew what was expected and was happy to work. When he was being ridden it was like he didn't hear the wind at all. 

His canter is getting a lot more balanced. 

I am so glad that I sent him there. I love how they work with him and how he's always challenged but not overwhelmed. It will be fun to bring him home and see where we can go from here. 

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

How It's Going

 First of all thank you everyone for your comments. I agree that I have great horses and, even more important, an amazing support system.  I thought I was pretty good post trailering disaster, but ended up having a delayed reaction a couple days later. Nothing serious but it kinda knocked me back a bit. It didn't help that we were hit with a massive 3 day snow storm and Ed was away. 

It was a lot of snow. I cleared one side of my driveway (it has two entrances to the road) so I could get out. It took me hours and then it all blew back in. Fortunately, we hired a guy to plow for us while Ed is away but he had to do his regular customers first.  And we were lucky! Parts of our province got 150cms of snow. People were trapped in their houses. 
SM sent me this photo of Quaid watching
a horse show on his 2nd day there. I think it
was a roping competition (cows were 
involved anyway). 

Interestingly, Quaid also had a reaction. The next morning he had hives that lasted about a day and then disappeared. Nikki had reached out and told me about them and asked what I wanted to do. I didn't want to give him Dex so said to wait and I could run down some antihistamine if he needed it. After that conversation I wondered if it was a reaction to the smoke in his trailer and/or stress. Do horses get stress hives? Is that a thing? Frankly, I'm afraid to google it. 

Quaid also struggled with eating when he arrived. I don't know if it was stress or that there was just so much going on that he couldn't focus. Nikki called me again and we discussed some things to try. What I think helped the most was putting him near the other horses. He was in a stall that he couldn't see others at first. 

Which all makes it sound like he's struggling, when he really is not. They have been working with him and keep sharing how well he's doing and how relaxed over everything. Nikki even messaged me 'If they only all came as well prepared as Quaid". 

Here's a video of her working around him with the rope: 

You can see that he is completely unbothered by the experience. To me it looks like he's saying 'forget the pole, see if you can get me next!'  

I'm so happy with my decision to send him there. They are very communicative and are looking after him well. 

I wasn't expecting Quaid to have so much trouble settling in, but I did expect Carmen to struggle. 

Turns out I was wrong on both counts. She has taken to her current situation with total aplomb. Tanya told me that 'she rolled in like owned the place'. 

She even appears to have a boyfriend. Her neighbour is this lovable Fjord named Marshall. He's very laid back and those two have really hit it off. He even lets her share his hay net. 

I mean how can you stand the cuteness? 
It's a dinner date! 

Carmen has a large stall that opens into a nice little paddock. She has her own hay but doesn't mind sharing Marshall's. I'm already semi-planning to sneak him on the trailer with her when we leave (shhh don't tell Stephanie). 

I am enjoying having access to the indoor. It's quite nice. The first couple days I lunged and free-lunged her to get a feel for what she thought of it. The far end has a lot of 'stuff' and she was definitely wary. I immediately made that end the 'rest end' and now she loves going down there. 

She's fascinated with these little hobby horses

It's neat to have mirrors as well. I am trying to get used to watching myself. I've ridden her about 3 times, each time going a little longer and asking for a little more. Nothing to get too excited about, just getting back into shape. 

Carmen is intrigued by the mirrors but not worried. She's seen mirrors before of course. 

But after our first ride I halted and dismounted with us facing them. I took off her bridle- which is the usual routine. I normally take it off and she follows me to put her halter on. But this time she just stood there starting at herself. I waited and waited and finally had to go get her. She can be so adorable at time. 

Carmen: I'm looking pretty good

So Carmen is settling in like a seasoned horse. Which she is, of course. I know that intellectually, but I still always feel like I have to manage her carefully. Maybe someday I'll get over that. 

I expected it to be weird to not have horses home. And it really is. I miss them like crazy. But February will fly by and then they will be home. 

And then the fun can really begin. 

Monday, January 29, 2024

Shaking Up the Status Quo

 I have been really remiss in blogging this month.  Mostly because it's been a quiet month on the horse front. 

I did get to ride a bit when we had a January thaw. The ring was soft but not too bad. I had decided to ride Carmen first and then lunge Quaid. Well, Mr. Quaid took exception to being left behind. We mostly ignored it but then he backed up to the fence and let fly with both hind legs, getting them tangled in the middle tape. Fortunately, the fence did what it was designed to do: rip out the insulators and loosen so he could get his leg free. I was so pissed at him.  Fortunately, he escaped without a mark, although I hope that he got a real jolt from the electric. 

here he is grazing as though nothing happened.
Remind me of this when I want to get another baby

Carmen was very behaved through all of this. But when it was all quiet and I was thinking that we were done she gave a shy and a bolt at nothing I could see and so we weren't done. 

After this the weather turned freezing again so riding was done. Two days after this event I found Carmen with a fat leg int he morning. 


I have no idea what happened but I suspect that the frozen surface with mud underneath contributed to it. I contacted the vet but we figured out a plan without her having to come out. If her leg didn't go down in a few days then she'd come out: Bute, ice boot, wrapped at night and voltaren (which I didn't know about but worked great). Fortunately, the treatment plan worked and within 72 hours her leg was back to normal. 

Lest you think that the month is all doom and gloom, this guy turned 7 on January first. 

the best sidekick, oops I mean 
'head of security'

January really isn't a month to do much in terms of horses. But it is great for making plans.  February is going to be a busy month for both horses. 

Quaid goes on February 1 for four weeks of training at Mike and Nikki's. They are the ones that do the Obstacle Clinics. I am excited for him to do lots of learning. It is definitely time. This will be the first time I have ever sent a horse for training. I've usually either brought someone here or bumbled along with good intentions and luck. This time I want to start things off well. So while it's weird for me to send a horse away I also know it'll be be good for both of us. Quaid is growing like a weed. He's a solid 15'2 behind now and filling out. Although he continues to look mismatched in every single photo that is not how he looks in person (I swear). 

Me: Quaid pose for your fans
Quaid: Sure! *stands awkwardly*
And this was the best one! 

Which leaves Carmen. And I did a lot of fretting and planning to figure out how to manage her for the month. Then a friend of mine offered for her to go to her place. It will be perfect: she's just 10 minutes away and has an indoor. So Carmen can get some training in too. this will be good because lately she's been quite challenging in her ground manners. I can't figure out why and I've been dealing with them as they arise. My only thoughts are that without me riding and her dominance of Quaid she's getting a bit dominant with me. Which is never gonna fly. 

I think separating the two of them will be good for both of them, even though it will be incredibly weird for me to not have horses at home for the first time in 12 years.  I am hoping to get up to where Quaid is a few times to see how he's doing. Then in March everyone comes home and hopefully things will be thawed enough to seamlessly pick up the work. 

His first running braid. Not bad at all

Saturday, January 13, 2024

It's Funny Because It's True

 In september I joined the local photography club. I used to belong many years ago but it dropped away because of the busyness of life. I have missed the creative outlet so decided to rejoin. 

Quaid: is this why you alway point that 
rectangle at me? 

It feels good to knock the rust off. Last week I went to the first meeting of 2024. There was a speaker talking about how to make money with photos. I realised after a bit that I was likely the only one who had no interest in making money but I do enjoy learning.  It was a good session with lots of interaction. 

As I listened I became more amused. It was summed up when one participant said 'I don't want to make a living, it would be nice if I could make enough to cover my equipment'. 

Now I know that good camera gear is expensive.  Like I say, why have one expensive hobby when you can have two? But I couldn't help but relate this to horses. I don't think that any of my friends think about recouping their costs of having horses. 

So I decided to say something. I said that I was really enjoying the presentation even though I had no interest in making money from photography. 

But I said, I have another passion- horses. And as I listen to you talk about the money you spend on camera equipment, printers and stuff, I have to tell you that compared to horse owners y'all are amateurs. The only way to make a million dollars in horses is to start with two million.'

My point being, of course, that we should follow our passion because we love it, not expecting to make money. (Of course I know that some people make a living with horses, but not us AAs). 

This comment fell into the room like a stone. Uh oh I thought. And then scrambled to say that of course people can try to earn money and I wasn't telling people to not do that. All the while thinking "One day I will learn to keep my mouth shut. Maybe when I'm dead'. 

Then in the lull, one of the members said Oh, you have horses? Do you think we could come and do a field trip at your place? 

Of course I said. 

Horses, somehow their magic transcends all the expense and work. 

Sunday, January 7, 2024

2023 Performance Review

 Well it's that time of year again. Winter has landed and this leaves me with time to reflect on my goals from last year and to plan out this year.  Not that anything is ever guaran.....


Me: Yes Carmen. 

Carmen: Well it occurs to me that you are in a conflict of interest- doing the performance review on yourself. 


Carmen: I mean, it's much more useful coming from an outside source, don't you think? And as. your partner I think I'm in the best position to provide the feedback. So it's settled.  

Quaid:  What about me? Don't I get to have some input? 

Carmen:  not yet, you are too young. So settle down skippy. Now, let's see what we have here. 

#1: 'Figure out what it means to be retired'.

Carmen:   Well we all know how that worked out. I think you should return to work. 

Me: But, but, I think I did really well. I've read a lot of books and got lots of riding in. 

Carmen: Exactly. Far too much riding if you ask me. Clearly you need something to occupy your time. 

Me: Can I just point out that I also had a lot more time to serve you and both of us are in better shape then we've been in years?  Also, next year I'll have two horses to ride and that should take some pressure off of you.......so.....

Carmen:  Okay, you do have a point with that. Okay, let's trial it for one more year. You can be on retirement probation. 

#2: Continue to work on keeping Carmen with me rather than making her own decisions

Me: I am quite pleased with this one. I feel that we are communicating much better and I have become more clear in my aids and sticking to the plan. 

Carmen: I see your point but you do recognise that this is supposed to be a partnership and I should not be stifled. 

Me: Not stifled, just not blowing up because you're tired and a bird flew by. 

case in point

Carmen: you really do not appreciate it when I save. your life. 

Me: But we had far more good moments this year then bad. In fact you were magnificent. Look at our success at the shows. 

Carmen: Well that is true. I was pretty good wasn't I? 

#3. Show as much as possible

Me: Well we did two. Having some unexpected vet bills made me cut back on some plans. 

Carmen:  Which is more than enough really. 

Me: But we did so well at our shows and at 2nd Level. I was really happy with how we grew from one show to the next. 

Carmen: I was really happy that you began to trust me and loosen up a bit. 

#4: Support Quaid in becoming a grown up horse. 

Quaid: This is me! I get to talk about this! I did really well this year. After such a terrible start. I never want to do that again. 

Me: The beginning was hard on all of us, but it was a great year for both of us. You are pretty solid with: 

  • lunging
  • ground driving
  • playing with flags, tarps etc
  • self-loading
  • hanging out a shows (still need work on Carmen leaving)
  • being tacked up
  • standing while being mounted and dismounted
  • and being ridden. Even trotted for one whole circle. 

such a rock star and baby genius

#5: Work on my riding skills: independence of Seat and Hand

Me: We should probably let Jane weigh in here but I think that I have improved a lot. 

Carmen: I will agree that you are much less annoying than you were. Not that there's not still a lot to work on. But I do appreciate the consistency and that you try. 

Me:  Thanks! I know that being fitter has definitely helped. And having Jane's help was critical. 

Carmen: I do like Jane. I'm not always sure why because she makes me work really hard but she also appreciates me for the magnificent mare I am. And she makes you easier to carry around. 

#6 Have Fun with the Horses

Me: We had a lot of fun this year, didn't we? Obstacle clinics, riding clinics, shows. Playing with liberty, travelling together as a little family? 

Carmen: hmmm

Quaid:  I had a fun summer. Lots of people to meet and play with. It was great. Can we do more next year? I'm kinda bored now. 

Carmen: be careful what you wish for kid. She's got that look in her eye again.

Friday, December 22, 2023

Reflections: Looking Back on 2023

 Yesterday was the winter solstice and that seems to be a good time to reflect on the past year. 

2023 was quite the year, full of ups and downs. I know that's fairly normal, it just seemed that this year there peaks were higher and the valleys lower.  The year started off easy enough with a fairly mild January. I was able to ride and the horses enjoyed the sunshine. 

In February the weather took a turn to record low temperatures. Ed was home recovering from heart surgery.  On the coldest day of the year I found Quaid with a screw embedded in his hoof.  This lead to a nightmare of multiple vet visits, two trips to the Veterinary Hospital and a real fear that I was going to lose him.  In the end he had to have a second surgery to debride the bone which had gotten infected. 


Once he was home, he was still not out of the woods. I had to protect the hoof, do regular bandage changes and make sure that not one drop of dirt got in the open hoof wound.  It was expensive and I had to work through some trauma with Quaid once it was all done.  At one point he kicked me and I thought I broke my elbow. It turned out to be heavily bruised but it was all a bit much.  I think I can now wrap a hoof with my eyes closed. I have a great stock of supplies now and if you need recommendations on how to turn out a horse in March and keep their hoof dry just ask. It was all worth it, though because Quaid is now 100% sound (and has been since his surgery). 

every time I see him canter in the field I get a happy thrill

It was hard on all of us and I honestly don't know how I would have gotten through it without Julia and Tanya who helped me pretty. much every day.  Because of them and Joanne I was able to go off on a trip of lifetime to Europe while they took care of things at home. Karen and Jim gave me a place to stay while Quaid was in hospital and Paula took two trips with me to island.  I learned that friends are basically family that you pick up as you go. 

I retired at the end of March and Ed and I celebrated by doing a River Cruise from Zurich to Paris. It was an incredible trip. 

 I loved Strasbourg

When we returned home I settled in to learn what it was like to be a retired person. I spent the first two weeks basically exhausted. I think it was a combination of jet lag and stress leaving my body.  I loved having the summer to ride when I wanted to and not because I was squeezing it in between all my other responsibilities. 
Carmen and I got fitter

Which was good because the weather was not cooperative. Our spring was the driest I've ever seen and our province dealt with some pretty devastating wildfires. It was scary. And then in June it started to rain and from there we had the wettest summer ever.  There were road washouts and flooding. We couldn't get our hay until August. 
Thank heavens for French drains- this water
was gone by the next day

Being retired meant that I could take advantage of the weather when I could. I also read so many books this year.  I have to say that I was never bored. 

Things got busy in May with an Obstacle Clinic and a 'ride your test' at the show grounds.  Both were very useful in our training. After the test riding clinic I felt a lot more confident about showing Carmen. Before then I was convinced it was going to be a disaster. 

This year Carmen and I debuted Second Level. My literal goal was to lay down reasonable tests keeping her on the aids and not melt down. We succeeded beyond my imaginings. This fall I was pleasantly surprised to learn that we actually earned a Silver Medal this year. 

More important than the ribbons or awards is that I learned to ride more effectively and confidently.  My show in September helped me to learn to let go of Carmen.  Jane helped me so much at the shows and then picking things up from there and helping us to move ahead. 

I had a lot of lessons this year and they really paid off. Carmen is carrying herself more and is straighter. 

We travelled to Krista's for a clinic too. It was great. 

Training of Quaid started slow this year, for obvious reasons. But as the year progressed we gained momentum. I've ridden him a few times and he continues to impress me with his mind and willingness. 

I had a very active summer and it showed in my fitness and body. It felt really good to get in shape and I didn't want to regress over the winter. So I joined the local rec centre in October. I have been going to classes regularly. It's hard but it's fun. I have been doing this thing called a 'Total Body Workout', which I originally thought was aerobics but instead was doing things. with weights, exercise balls and tension bands. It's sooo hard but when it gets really tough I picture the flinging of hay bales.  After my first class my thighs were in serious pain from all the squats. I was still sore the next day but decided to ride anyway. When I was done I dismounted and my legs said 'nope!' and I fell on my ass on the ground. Carmen didn't move a muscle, just gave me her Carmen look and, I swear, rolled her eyes.  
Carmen: god, stop giggling and get up. You are so embarrassing. 

 I've also been doing Pilates and AquaFit (which is really fun). 

showed up one day not realising class was cancelled. 
Worked out anyway. 

I do like how I've been feeling. I am in the best shape I've been in years and it's showing up in my riding too. Jane has commented on it. Don't get me wrong, I'm no Nicole.(although she's an inspiration).  No one is going to be bouncing a quarter off my butt but at least now it won't disappear.  

Now it's December and things have really slowed down. Winter is here and the ring is frozen. I know that there will be some thaws that I plan to take advantage of. I am looking forward to not worrying about how I'm going to get to work when there's a storm. Instead I can stay home and watch horse training videos. 

That was the highlights and lowlights of 2023.  It felt like a lot, mostly because it was. But it's ended with everyone healthy and happy. What more could you ask for? 

All ready for Christmas