dancing horses

dancing horses

Friday, March 31, 2017

Practical Magic

Once again March has turned nasty. We've had 2 days of ice storms encasing everything in a sheet of ice.
I left my crop up at the ring and this is what happened.
How weird is that? 

Seriously March. We get it. You're big and bad and have us under you thumb. Let it go already. Now you're trying too hard. 

But it gave me time to engage in some craft activities. When I was in Cuba there was a market across the road from the resort. I was there with Cynthia looking at jewelry - most particularly the turquoise. I love turquoise and it is supposed to have healing qualities. Turkish soldiers used to attach it to bridles to protect them and their horse from falls. If worn it's supposed to decrease stress and mood swings while imparting calm and serenity.

I mused that I wished I had a browband with turquoise stones. Cynthia overheard me and she asked if it was possible for the person to make one. There was a lot of translating, back and forth and some drawing and before I knew it I was promised a browband to be ready on Monday.  I was very excited so imagine my disappointment when I came over on Monday and the vendor was not there.

I wasn't sure exactly what I would have been getting but I wanted to see it. I was also worried that someone had made this thing for me and there was a mix up so they wouldn't be paid.  But there was nothing I could do about that. I'm sure you can understand that I was not ready to give up; so I bought a bracelet with the thought that I could use the beads to make my own browband.

I googled and looked at designs. This week I was working in the city and staying over at Cynthia's. She had picked up some beads to go with the turquoise. After eating and with a glass of wine we sat down to play with designs.

We tried multiple patterns before settling on one where with three large beads in the center and then using the smaller ones 

I am quite happy with the design. I think it will look beautiful on her. 

I'm not 100% convinced that it won't fly apart when I'm riding but that would really test the whole 'serenity' and 'protection from falls' thing. 

Keep your fingers crossed. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The First Lesson of the Year

I have to explain the title a bit.

In my head there are three different years:
1. The socially agreed upon January - December.
2. The school year of September to June (at least that's how it is in Canada).

But the most important one is:

3. Horse riding year. It's the most important one of all. For me it starts in March when things start to thaw and I begin to want to ride.

So the lesson I had in January was the last one of the year and the one I had on Sunday was the first lesson of the year.

At first I wasn't sure if it could happen it became quite cold Saturday night,  but the ring thawed enough that we could make it work.

Normally, when I start back riding I want to get things going before I have a lesson. However, if you recall the last two years things have started out well but then quickly spiralled downward. While I'm not sure that this would happen this year,  I decided to play it safe and see if we could avoid all the drama.

I started with ground work and Carmen was a bit excited because she was all alone. But not anything too bad. Just as I was finished up the ground work Shanea arrived. We chatted about how things have been so far and then I hopped on and we started working.

The whole lesson was about the half-halt. We started with the full halt.

Nice and square. Note how bundled I am- the wind was bitter but once we started working I completely forgot about it. I have a hold on the inside rein- Martin was playing in the next field and she really wanted to keep her eye on him.

It was really neat to teach Carmen to rebalance through the half-halt. There was a bit of confusion at first and I needed to sort out how to make my aids the right volume. As we progressed both of us figured it out and I could really use the half-halt to get her to slow down and tune back into me even with spooky and scary stuff going on.

There were a few places that she was quite looky and she even gave a few big spooks. What was interesting to me was my reaction. Even when we flew sideways I went with her and my heart rate accelerated (of course). But I immediately went back to work and I did not have the post-spook reaction of anger/fear. The only way I could explain my attitude was of 'this is interfering with our work'. I didn't even worry about what it was that was spooking her or try to avoid it. Even when the neighbour starting revving his ATV (I think it was an ATV). When that happened she got quite tense (fair enough) but I didn't back off and I didn't ramp up with her- I just kept to task.

While the photos and videos show lots to work on I had some of the best trot work ever on her. It was effortless to sit to and needed very little to adjust or steer.

some lift though her back and bringing her leg under. 

'lets not bulge in' :) 
There's a lot of fitness to build yet and I need to figure out what the heck is going on with my inside hand but I was over the moon about the whole lesson. Shanea and I set up a regular schedule.

Later that day we went to visit my son and his new puppy. There was puppy mayhem everywhere.
such innocent faces what could they possibly get up to? 


And after all that excitement Guinness had 'puppy class'. He was the cutest, smartest, best behaved puppy there (of course you wouldn't doubt that, would you?).

That night Guinness and I slept like logs. I dreamed that I was at a show with Carmen and the judge gave me a -2 for my riding score on the test. Not that I'm worried that I won't ride Carmen well. Nope. Not me).

Saturday, March 25, 2017


On Friday my FB feed popped up with one of those 'memories'. It was the 2 year anniversary of Carmen arriving home to stay.

As you can see there was a LOT more snow (that was one of the worst winters I've ever known) and Carmen looks a little shocked.

However, Friday was much nicer and Cynthia came out so that we could ride. It was chilly but not that bad and the ring was fine. Carmen was a bit tight and reactive so I made myself a sponge. Once she was settled lunging I got on. One thing I had always been taught (or at least the last few decades) was to follow the motion of the horse. I was trying but Carmen was all over the place with her rhythm, head, body, etc. My contact was all over the place. I finally realized that I was looking for her to stabilize so I could follow and all I was doing was making us both unstable and pissing her off.

I took a deep breath and said 'I guess one of us should be stable and I think it's up to me'. I settled myself into the saddle and put my leg on - not squeezing, just there. I shortened the rein a wee bit and settled my hand. For the next several minutes I worked on making sure that my seat was loose and my hands maintained the same amount of contact no matter what. When she sped up I asked her to slow, when she gawked I asked her to come in and voila. I had my horse and we could go to work. I started on the middle circle and gradually made it bigger.

Cynthia called over 'she looks like she saying 'I don't really want to listen but I will". Which pretty much sums up how she felt. As we went along she began to loosen and blow relax. In the end I had a trot that was floating and we were all over the ring.

I was very happy.

This morning dawned sunny and warm (with 'warm' being a relative term - like 3 degrees and no wind). Cynthia and I went to get ready and ride early. Carmen was a completely different horse. In the barn she was mellow and happy. I lunged her and it was immediately apparent that she was relaxed and tuned in. I think you're going to have a good ride Cynthia predicted.

And that's what we had. It wasn't anything exciting (yay for boring rides) but it was exciting for me because:
1. we could ride anywhere in the ring right from the start.
2. her one spook was in place and then she carried on
3. there were no protests/balking/kicking.

She was just a horse being ridden and it was all fine.

don't let the snow fool you- it was lovely out

Happy Gotcha day Carmen. I hope you are as happy with me as I am with you.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

What the Hell March?!

Remember my last post where I was able to ride two whole days in a row?

Yeah, well, Sunday night we had a winter storm and it dumped a bunch of snow followed by ice on everything. It caused our first puppy class to be cancelled.  Tuesday and Wednesday were warmer but the snow needed to melt and then the water needed to drain from my ring. It usually drains well but everything was soggy.

That was okay- we were all enjoying the warming temperatures. It was lovely to putter in the barn in just a hoody. It was good for Guinness to because he could be outside playing and enjoying himself.

Why yes, this is a great stick. Why do you ask? 

Then today happened- the temperatures plummeted to -12 with a strong north wind making the windchill -20.  The horses were not impressed. The dogs were not impressed. The cats were fine- they just stayed indoors.

Every time Carmen saw me she gave me a look that expressed volumes- this is not acceptable you need to do something. It was completely weird today- the sun was warm and my ring was perfectly thawed and rideable but I couldn't feel my face.

What is this white stuff? 

While it makes it harder in some ways I'm glad that I have a puppy to play with. he's keeping me amused.  He's getting into the routine of things in the house and in the barn. He knows that when I feed he can have his carrot. Is there a horse person with a dog that doesn't eat carrots?

I'm very careful with Guinness around the horses. Irish is very curious and wants to get to know this new addition. Carmen is less amused. I have been working on short training sessions and he's catching on pretty well. He will come when called and even leave something that has attracted him (like the cat). I'm careful to not make it sound mean or angry. I'm okay if he thinks about it - that shows me he's understanding. He can sit and go down on command. 'Wait' is coming. I am his 'person'. When he's hurt or upset he runs to me for protection.

So I'm managing to stay amused but this weather is getting tedious. I am ready to get training - both puppy and horse.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Whistling in the Dark

This weekend Carmen and Irish returned to work. The weather was not perfect but Cynthia and I decide that it was good enough.

a beautiful frosty morning but I want it to be warmer

Saturday was cool but calm. When I went to get Carmem I saw that she was in heat. Oh fun. The first heat is always interesting. In the barn she was wired and started to act all tense and reactive. I decided to not join her in this mood and kept to the program. In the barn that was her standing, ground tied, while I got her ready. A couple (minor) corrections and she was behaving. Still tense but behaving. On our way up to the ring she was a bit bargy and tried to pass me. I just repeated the ground work I had learned from Royce- this is where I expect you to walk and I set the speed.

In the ring I focussed on me being calm and clear in my intentions. I didn't let her tenseness create my own. Instead of being a mirror reflecting her tension I decided that I was a sponge absorbing her tension and letting it flow away. I know that it sounds a bit 'new agey' but it helps me.  I had a plan and I wasn't going to be derailed by a dramatic spanish mare. And this is what I love about ground work- all the practice that we had been doing really pays off in these moments- in very little time she was settled into a rhythm and tuned in.

When I got on the tenseness returned but I'm used to that. We started working and, again, I kept to the program. It was kinda like this:
Carmen: oh my god- what's that?
Me:  it's Chester (cat). We're bending on our circle
Carmen: but if I bend I can't see- LOOK AT IT, IT'S MOVING!
Me: nope, not trotting. Walking, with bend. 

Whistling in the dark. 

And this really works. I work hard to not tense myself or start gawking at the same things wondering which one was going to create the big leap-spin-bolt. And because I kept with the program she really didn't have a choice but to join me. In the end we had some beautiful trot work- leg yield, changing across the diagonal. She was taking contact and moving forward in her lovely floaty trot.

cute puppy photo to break up the wall of text

Sunday was cooler and there was a raw wind. But Cynthia and I decided to persevere. Carmen was definitely more tense and required more careful handling in the ring.

Not more careful.
More focus.

I could see that she really wanted to bolt- but other than a stutter, flail, ack moment she listened. I mounted and we went back to work. The more success I have with putting on a brave face, the easier it is to be brave.

Whistling in the dark. 

It's not the same as lying.

When Carmen's walk would get really quick going by something that was clearly very dangerous and why was I not paying attention I thought 'if we were not worried we would have a slower, more relaxed walk'. So I slowed the walk. I figured if I couldn't get her to walk slow because she was worried, maybe I could get her to be not worried by walking slow.

I hope that makes sense, because it worked. Not right away and not without some, ahem, discussion but it worked.

When I felt that things were going well I asked her to canter. That was a bit of a flail - I think because of her being in heat. I gave her some rein and laughed, asking her to come forward. And she did.

I cooled her out and then hopped off.  She stood there and closed her eyes while I rubbed her neck.

There's a lot to work on but I'm pleased with her taking of contact, her transitions and her willingness to listen. I didn't have those things last year so this is a good place to start.
it must be the tiara. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Ides of March

Warning: this post has no real theme, just some random updates and such. Continue at your own risk of boredom.

Spring time is always busy on the farm. There's the usual clean up from winter, the fixing of fencing and seeing what needs to be done as the weather warms. It's also when I start getting really itchy to not just ride but to get more serious about training.

The weather has not been cooperative- it's been cold and snowy.  Slowly, things are getting a bit more temperate but I'm finding it hard to want to ride when it's cold out. It's easier to keep going when fall turns to winter then to start up in spring unless it's warm(er).  I know once I start it will be easier to keep going.

Having a puppy has added an extra layer to the equation. Guinness though is showing signs that he's going to grow into a great dog. There's been a few nights where he slept right through which has been nice. His 'come' is improving, 'sit' is pretty much perfect and 'down' is coming along. He knows the drill in the barn and other than wanting to coming into the stall with me when the horses are there, there is no trouble.

Plus he's seriously cute:
d'Arcy teaching him the 'cute and innocent' look

Why is she stopping?
She does it all the time when she has that black box 

finding treasures
I'm trying to figure out how to get him to let go of things- the other day he grabbed my glove. With my other dogs I would have a treat, say 'drop' and when they dropped the item to get the treat I would take it. But he seems to have a strong drive to hang onto things- I offered him a treat to exchange it and he was like 'nope, mine now'. And he loves his treats. I wonder if it's because of his bloodlines- both parents do 'shutzhund'.

This is my new favourite photo of him:
so very serious
Last night we were out for our last bathroom break and he heard something down the road (probably racoons) and he got between me and it and started to growl. We start a puppy class on Sunday and socialization will be important. I want the protective instinct but it needs to be manageable. We will start with puppy class and move on to obedience and other work.

Carmen is doing well. She had her birthday last week so is officially 7 now. The vet came to do the annual check up and shots. He thought that they both were doing well. I was pleased with how Carmen was with him- not wary and worried like last time. Both horses had their teeth floated. He started Carmen without sedation because he prefers to not sedate. Irish never needs it and he did just a bit to help her learn that it's okay. Then he sedated her and finished. Both had some points but not too bad. 

The same day that the vet came we had two old windows replaced in our house, so it was a chaotic day ending with the house looking like a bomb went off. However, the guys did a great job and were good about the dogs. Guinness was out with me for most of the day and went into his kennel when the vet came. 

How's your March going? 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Princess Tries Out a New Tiara

I would not be described as a 'Tack Ho'. I tend to have one bridle per horse and use it for everything. When I first got Carmen I bought her a bridle. However, this summer it was clear that it was not the best fit for her head. Not that she complained but I wanted to replace it.

I spent this summer trying to find something that appealed to me. When you prefer to be on the bargain side of things this presents some difficulties. Plus I'm fussy. I don't like things over the top but I didn't want really plain either.

This pretty head deserves a pretty bridle

Two weeks ago I was killing time on Facebook when an ad popped up for a company called Solo Equine. I clicked on it and was surprised to find out that it was a Canadian site. The website promised quality leather for reasonable prices and a money back guarantee. I liked the photos of the 'Solo Silhouette' bridle and it was on sale for $155.  Acting on impulse I decided to buy it:

photo from the website

As I was paying I realized that this company was just weeks old so I was taking a real chance. It also had 'patent leather' accents and I was worried that I was getting something that would look plastic and cheap.

I needn't have worried. The communication from point of purchase to arrival was excellent. I was messaged when it was ordered, filled, sent (with a tracking number) and two messages that it had been delivered. I knew it arrived when I received a text from Ed "what did you order". 

I came home and did my chores first before opening the box. I was so impressed with it right out of the box. The leather was of lovely quality.

It was still a bit stiff and new so I put it together to see how it looked. I was happy with it- I didn't think that the patent was too much. I thought that Carmen might appreciate the tiara:

After dinner I headed out to try it on. I didn't add the bit - I just wanted to see if the head pieces fit.

I think that it fits quite well:

what are you doing to me? 
Shortly after I took this photo she shook her head her mane popped out. I had to laugh. As you can see the nose band needs to form a bit.
I need cookies if I'm going to model

As you can see it comes with a flash attachment but I suspect I will be cutting that holder piece off.

I like how it tapered on the side - it shows off her refined head.

To be honest I liked everything about this bridle, except for the reins. It came with the cotton reins but I will just swap out mine.

I brought it back to the house and conditioned the leather. It's now hanging up and waiting for use. If you are looking for some tack I would suggest that you check out Solo Equine (and no, I'm not getting anything for this post).

Now if I could just get the weather to cooperate....

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Eventing Bingo

Me: Hey Carmen, would you like to play a game of bingo with me? We could win a fabulous prize! 

Carmen: What are you talking about? 

Me: Emma at Friday Cat Eventing is hosting a contest. We were assigned a bingo card and we need to get a line. We might win a $25 gift card from Riding Warehouse. It's all about eventing. 

Carmen: What is eventing? 

Me: It's a competition where we would ride a dressage test, jump a cross country course and then a stadium jumping course. 

Carmen: Jumping? I'm a dressage horse, not some rowdy hooligan. 

Me: Well fist of all it's fictional. Also, do you remember when we first met? The other horse I tried, Agente, is doing eventing......

Carmen: Well I didn't say I couldn't do it- let me see this 'bingo card':

Me: So let's start with the warm-up. 

I want to start keeping you relaxed and focussed on me

Carmen:  But there's this horse that keeps cutting me off and breathing the same air as me. I have to show him who's boss so I pin my ears and kick at him to get him out of the way....

Me:....and before we know it we have one end all to ourselves and the steward is glaring watching us carefully. And now it's our turn to go in. 

Carmen: And of course you don't need any of those nasty crops or spurs...

Me: Which means that when I asked you to go into the ring you flatly refused

Carmen: Well I had to check for trolls first....

Me: And the gate person had to lead us in. It was embarrassing and I was wishing that I had brought my crop. The bell rings and we trot down the centre line and slam to a halt at X. 

Carmen:  And I notice the judge for the first time and I jump 10 feet sideways from the halt and try to run away. 

Me:  That gave us a '4' for that movement. But we keep it together for the rest of test and we have some really nice movements. 

Carmen: And then we do the cross-country course and I totally rock it. 

Me: It was pretty fast though- I barely remember it. But we survive and now it's time for the stadium jumping. 

Carmen: I don't see the point of the meandering course and I decide to take a short cut to the gate. 

Me: Yeah, that's called going off-course and it's not allowed. 

Carmen: I did try to tell you that I'm a dressage horse. 

Me:  Yes you did. I thought it might be fun to try something different. 

Carmen: But you were proud of me, right? 

Me: Always. 

See- I can jump when I want to! 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

In Which I Actually Ride

March is being it's usual bipolar self- cold, then warm, rain then snow. When the weather has been good to ride I've been at work and unable to take advantage of it. I had hopes for this weekend but the weather turned cold.

Friday was sunny but the wind in the morning was something that could cut you with a knife. It felt like my face was being peeled off. I hid inside for a large part of the morning but had to go out to empty the manure cart and put the garbage out for collection. Down in the woods (and out of the wind) I could feel that the sun had actual warmth to it. The wind did seem like it was easing up. I drove the tractor up to the ring, did a small repair to the fence (winter does take it's toll) and saw that the ground was in good shape. I sent a text to Cynthia and her daughter and then began to drag the ring. Ashley is home for University break and had wanted some pony time.

They both came a few hours later. Cynthia was on puppy sitting duty and Ashley and I got the horses ready to ride. Carmen was acting grumpy about the whole thing but Irish was looking quite perky. I decided to check out how the buckle nose halter worked under the bridle. Carmen and I were in the ring ahead of Ash and Irish and it gave me a chance to see the mood. She was up and alert but not stupid. There was a lot of energy to work but I wanted her to use it appropriately. There was one big leap and run she did that almost tore the lunge line out of my hand.

WHOA!   I yelled and she screeched to a halt looking at me. I took a breath and asked her to move out trotting and she tried to take off again. I could see that Carmen had herself in a tizzy and was looking to me so I just kept calm and asked her to trot around like a civilized creature. This helped to put her brain back in and she began to settle. Fortunately we we lunging off the halter so she didn't hit her mouth.

Meanwhile Ash and Irish are coming up the hill and Irish is practically prancing. He's so excited to be ridden. And he kept that mood the whole ride. He was forward and looked great. There was a some tension but he relaxed as soon as Ashley did and he had his 'this is fun' face on. It really is adorable.

I mounted Carmen and we began to head off. I felt like a sack of potatoes and I kept having to remind myself to sit up or relax my seat, or let my hands follow.  To be honest Carmen and I did very well together. She was pretty calm about things and when she wasn't I was so it all worked out. There was only one spook and it made me laugh so she relaxed as well. There was nothing big about the ride- just walking and trotting, circles, direction changes and some leg yields. It was just about getting back into it. The first trot transition she thought about balking but the saddle is still working for her so it was a non-issue.

Cynthia brought the two dogs up for part of our ride. d'Arcy was trying to pull her up the hill and Guinness was not sure about the whole thing so her arms were stretched in two directions. I spoke to Guinness from Carmen's back and I could see his amazement about the whole thing.

We stopped once in the ring to rest and she relaxed with a droopy head and a leg cocked. When I asked her to go back  to work she began to amp up. Usually I amp up as well and it all goes to hell but not this time. I stayed on the work and she settled in.

I dismounted pretty happy with everything. Carmen was much more happy then she was starting out.

Now the weather is bitter cold again so no riding today. But I'm glad that my riding break is over!

soon we'll be doing this all the time! 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Competing Priorities

The Roaming Rider's most recent post was about the joy she's finding in having her horses at home. I am not going to write about that because I very likely go on about it a bit too much.

But I do want to explain why, if you drop in to visit in the morning,  you will often see my barn aisle dirty and other chores not completed. It has to do with the amount of energy I begin every day with and how I allocate it throughout the day.  When I first brought Irish home I spent a lot of time making sure that everything was spic and span before I even thought about riding. The problem was that by the end of the day I didn't have much energy left and would end up not riding.

when you're really tired but don't want to miss dinner

What I learned was that if I rode first I would always make sure that the chores were done. However, if I did the chores first I wouldn't always ride. So now I work with the horses first and then tackle everything else.  This is working out for me quite well - I might be more exhausted but it's a happy tired.

How do you manage to balance the horse 'work' with the horse 'fun'?

And because I know you really want to know: Guinness is settling into the routine. He is only getting up once in the night and then making it to morning. His protests over being crated are less and less. His accidents are by the door so I think he's trying to get out but can't. As soon as he goes near the door, Ed and I jump up and take him out.

he now has one ear up and one down and it's really adorable. I was surprised at how early it happened but I understand that it may flop again when he begins teething.

I'm starting to do short 'walks' with him around the property. At first he was unsure of leaving his 'yard' but now he comes along. I find his personality to be fairly quiet and measured. He can play and carry on but he's not a hyper dog. That's probably coming but I don't think that's who he will be. I jokingly call him 'old man'.

D'Arcy is doing a good job helping us parent. He will tell him off if he's too annoying. Initially, Guinness would run away, now he sits and barks back. 
stick thief! 

Now I have to balance the priority of training Carmen with training Guinness. I'm hoping I don't neglect one or the other but we shall see. Keep your fingers crossed- the ring is clear but the temps are due to drop again this weekend. I hope not, I want to get in the ring! 

Sunday, March 5, 2017


Growing up, my brother and I spent a lot of time with our grandparents.  We were surrounded by a community- neighbours, family, church. I had no appreciation for it at the time but there was not a house that I couldn't go to if I needed help. When I lost my boot in a nearby garden because I wanted to pick a fresh cucumber, the owner knew exactly where to return them. Heck, he probably watched me through a window. Life circumstances required my mother to move us to a 2 bedroom apartment in the city. I missed the sense of community but I was six at the time and didn't know what I was missing until I was much older. I only knew that there was something missing.

my brother and I back in the day

When we moved to our farm we were new comers. I'm sure that the neighbours were curious about who this couple were and what we were doing to the property. We were strangers who bought a house that had belonged to one family for a few generations. Ed joined the Volunteer Fire Department and I joined the Auxiliary. Slowly we got to know people in our community.
so much has changed since we bought this place. Now there's
a barn, a garage and fields. 

 I remember the first summer we went to a plant nursery and I chose a bunch of flowers. This nursery only took cash and I didn't have enough. I asked if I could put my flowers to one side and go get some money. The woman working the register said 'sure'. There was another woman and she asked where we lived. I told her and she said 'oh I know you- I drive by your house all the time. I love what you're doing there. Take the flowers and drop the money off when you have a chance'.  

The last few days has been bitter- there's been a strong north wind that is physically painful to be outside in.  The night before I knew that my water tap was frozen but I decided to deal with it in the morning. I figured that I would re-fill the water trough outside at the same time. So in the morning, with Guinness and d'Arcy in tow I was in the barn boiling water in the kennel while I fed and picked out the stalls. Irish had pooped in his water bucket again. Really horse? I had to unplug it and take it out to dump it. It was about 6 a.m. and -22 with the windchill.

When the kettle boiled I poured the water over the tap- finally I heard it let go and water began to come out. After 1/4 of a bucket it stopped. The pump kept running but no water.


I went in to get water from the sink. No water and the pump was running and running and running.


 Something was wrong. I turned off the pump and grabbed some buckets. I headed into the house and began to fill them in the kitchen sink. Muttering and cold I stomped back and forth filling the water trough. I then let the horses out.
Irish: It's about time! 

Ed went out to see if the pump needed priming but nope that wasn't it. We were going to need a plumber, which meant waiting until Monday. I put a complaining post on FB and began to drink my coffee. I received a text. It was from a neighbour asking what was wrong. I said I didn't know but she said that her husband was familiar with wells and pumps and they would be over around 10. I then got another text from Cynthia offering her husband to come and help. I put them on standby and prepared the coffee.

Derrick and Julia arrived just after 10 and he began to inspect everything while Julia provided what she called 'moral support'.  We finally determined that the top water in my well had frozen.

iceberg from NFLD looking like a sea monster
I was surprised- this had never happened before. The well for the barn is an old dug well about 20 feet deep with a cement top. There's a crack in the lid and the relentless arctic wind had been entering the well and froze the top of the water. Normally it would be sheltered by the snow. I began to pour hot buckets of water into the well to get it thawed. Derrick fixed the pump and got it all primed. I piled some old horse blankets on top of the well to block the wind. That will do until we get a more permanent solution in place.

After we had a hot cup of coffee and chatted about family and other things. I thanked them for taking time on their day off to help us. 'That's what neighbours do'  was all that was said. Julia and Derrick drove off and I waved good bye feeling much better. 

Not just because I now had running water (although what a relief that was), but because I felt part of a community. 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Too Cold to Ride So Here's a Puppy Update

My ring is pretty well bare by now but there's an arctic blast freezing everything in sight. The temperature is -10 and with high winds the wind chill is -22. I have had to put Carmen's blanket back on.

Guinness is doing very well. Thank you for all the suggestions on crate training. The third night he got up at midnight and I took him outside. When we came back in he started to cry in his crate so I went and grabbed a blanket and covered his crate. The crying stopped immediately.  So now when he goes in he whimpers for a bit and then settles. It's like a condo in there- he has chew toys, a kong with  peanut butter and his soft blanket.

He's not enjoying the cold weather and that  is actually helping with crate training as well. Crying at night and getting rewarded with having to pee outside in the cold is not the most motivating thing. Last night he just work up once at 2 a.m. and then slept until 6:30.

he found a patch of sunlight
He sometimes needs some encouragement to come out and pee but he's learning to do his business and then get a treat. When he's done he will head back to the door of the house.  I'm being careful with the exercise- letting him toodle around outside and play as he wants. Right now he does short spurts and then naps.

With this weather the barn is handy because we can get some exercise and work while being out of the bitter wind. He's very people oriented and I'm taking advantage of that to teach him some very basic commands- just a few minutes at a time. I'm totally biased but I think he's very intelligent. 

Come? How about here? No? How's this? Is this right? 

Ed and I took him on a car ride and dropped into the vets. I wanted to drop off his records and book his booster shot. Guinness thought it was great- the nice lady behind the counter gave him treats. There was a small dog there quite interested in Guinness (in a friendly way) but Guinness started to bark at him. Once he has all his needles we will definitely start on socialization. 

The cats are getting better. Chester is still kind of freaked out but Guinness completely ignores him. He is fascinated by Martin though- he really wants to play and be friends with him. I think it's just Martin's cachet- he's a very charming cat. 
I just want to play!
Go away kid. You're not cool enough
(note d'Arcy's nose in the corner)

see Chester at the top? That's been his expression for days. 
d'Arcy is doing fairly well. He's a bit jealous of the attention the puppy might be getting but he's loving all the trips outside. While I try to get Guinness to pee or poop I throw a stick for him. He is also getting lots of attention. The only issue is that Guinness really really really wants to snuggle with him and d'Arcy is not a snuggler.

He comes to the barn with me as I do my chores. I make sure that he's safe from the horses and he runs sound the barn. Yesterday I picked him up so he could see the horses in the stall. He stared at them with wide eyes.
Me: See these guys? You are going to help me look after them when you older. 
Guinness:  Me? They are so big. I don't think I'll ever be able to do that. 
Me: We'll see. 

At breakfast and supper I give him a piece of carrot while I feed the horses. It's adorable to see him run off to hide and then chew on it. All my dogs eat raw carrots although it's making Guinness' poop interesting with orange bits.

So Guinness is a great fit for our household. Which is good because he's hit it like a mini-tornado and it's only going to get livelier. I can't wait as we do more together.

I will leave you with an adorable moment:


Friday, March 3, 2017

Two Horse Tack Buckle Nose Halter Review

A couple weeks ago I received an email from Two Horse Tack. They had found my blog and wanted me to review their buckle nose halter and in exchange I would be getting  a free halter. I checked out the website and thought why not.

So in full disclosure I have received a free halter in exchange for this review. However, I will not lie and had I not liked I would have let them know and asked if they still wanted me to post.

These halters are made of biothane- a product I have never heard of so I had to research it. From the Two Horse website:
Beta BioThane® is a web coated nylon that is quite simply the best material available in the equine marketplace. It is stronger and more durable than nylon or leather. It is also easy to clean and completely hassle free. It is soft, supple & extremely pliable. A must have for any equestrian as it has a better feel than leather or nylon. It is more comfortable for not only the rider but the horse as well.
Apparently it's used in harness and endurance tack. It also comes in all sorts of fun colour. When I was choosing my halter I was sorely tempted by the purple one but since I still wasn't sure I chickened out and ordered the black in 'horse' size (it comes in mini to draft sizes and they will even make a custom one). Based on the website you can get a halter/lead combo so it all matches.

To be honest I thought that once they saw that I lived in Canada that they would decide it was too expensive to ship. But I was wrong and the halter arrived the other day. I was immediately impressed with the quality of the halter. It took a second look to determine that it was not leather. The halter was soft, pliable and not at all plastic looking. The hardware was solid and nice too.
at first glance this looks like quality leather. I like stainless steel
hardware and it seems to be of nice quality

The next step was to try it on. Coincidentally my ring was pretty clear of snow so I decided to work Carmen in the new halter. One of my 'issues' with lunging in a halter is how loose the nose band is. I think that the flapping around and/or tugging with the line is not comfortable. However, with the buckle on the nose I could adjust it to where I liked it. Also, given Carmen's head shape it was nice to be able to fit the crown and nose separately.

I totally could have pulled off the purple one but you would need
to get a different coloured lunge line!

You can see that she needed the crown let out a bit and the nose brought in. I might even try another hole tighter on the nose to see what she thinks.  If I ever get to the point of attaching a lead to the halter to ride this would be perfect. 

In lunging the halter didn't bounce at all. To be honest she seemed to be very comfortable. Which given that I hadn't worked her in a month and it was fresh and windy out I was impressed with how quickly she settled back into work.  If the halter was at all irritating she would have let me know.

 I do like the black one on her but can we take a minute to appreciate how mature she looks? 

So in summary here are the Pros of the halter:
  • It looks well made and high quality 
  • I love the softness of the material and it's ease of cleaning. 
  • the price seems reasonable to me: $35 for the 'base model'
  • So many options: 
    • all sizes and multiple widths- you can even get it custom made. 
    • so many colours 
    • you can swap out the stainless steel hardware for brass if you like ($3 more)
    • there is an option for a black or brown leather crown piece for $5. 
    • matching lead lines or lunge lines (cut to the length you want)
I tried it on Irish and it didn't fit him as well as it did Carmen. It wasn't a terrible fit but not as good as I would like. If you have a horse with a TB type head I would recommend going up in size. The material is stated to be very strong. Because of this I will probably replace the crown piece with a leather one. I am fine to use it for lunging and things but I prefer that there is something that will break if the horse is trapped or panicked. 

For me the final question is 'would I pay money for this product?' And the answer to that is 'yes' - I would definitely buy it! 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Bringing Up Baby

There's a reason women my age can't bear children- oh my god it's tiring.

Guinness has hit our house like a little cyclone. He's adorable.

a new collar that fits 'but it itches Ma!'
The first night was not one of rest. Guinness was not impressed with his crate with the soft cushion, chew toys and kong stuffed with peanut butter. He spent a lot of time howling. We took him out to go to the bathroom twice but the rest of the time stayed firm that he must learn to be in his crate.

The theme of yesterday was introducing him to my routine and ensuring that he learned to pee outside and not on the floor.

I made sure that he was in his crate a few times during the day and ignored the ruckus. Each time he settled down. I find him to be smart and he's learning that when he goes out he's to pee. Hopefully soon he'll learn to let us know. 

d'Arcy is being good with him. He won't let him snuggle in though and it's causing some distress for Guinness. d'Arcy says that it's because the little bugger is looking for a place to nurse and that's unnerving. 
d'Arcy checking to make sure Guinness peed correctly

We went for a few walks around the property during the day. I love watching him walk- he's shoulders are so big that he walks like a bull dog right now. Cynthia suggested that I get him a piece of old leather to chew on and I found an old bet up brow band for him. He loves it. He has also taken over this old throw blanket so that's now his bed.  It used to belong to my mother so I'm sure that she would love that the puppy loves to snuggle on it. Guinness is very people oriented which is good.

Last night in his crate he threw a major fit when we put him in. I made sure that he was walked and had gone to the bathroom. I had frozen a kong with peanut butter and put in his 'blankie'. That lasted about 5 minutes and he began to kick up a fuss. About 30 minutes in, Ed left and went to the loft over the garage to sleep (there's a pull out couch) muttering about having to work. I was fine with that. I just ignored it and fell asleep with him howling. Yay me- I do love my sleep. Periodically he would wake up and cry but I only got up twice to let him out- at 1 and at 4 a.m. 

The cats are less than impressed. Poor Chester is looking as nervous as a nine tailed cat in a room full rocking chairs. Martin is curious but disapproving. Yesterday he would follow us around outside but when I looked at him would ignore me completely and act all nonchalant. 
I can neither see you nor hear you human. I am
engaged in cat business
Last night every time Guinness whined or barked Martin would tap me on the face. 
Guinness: I'm lonely and not tired. I shall sing until you come to rescue me
Martin: that creature is interfering with my sleep
Me: he's learning to be in the crate. We have to ignore him
Guinness: *howling* All by myself, don't wanna be all by myself anymore....
Martin: he stops when you get up- so get up and deal with this. 
Me: no. leave me alone and stop tapping my face. 
Marin: You brought him home you deal with him

I am sure that he will figure this out. It will just take persistence. These days will go fast. And then there will be something else. 

I'm sure he misses his litter mates to snuggle with.