dancing horses

dancing horses

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Is It Gone?

 I had plans to write a post about 2020. 

It was going to include how I did on my goals, what I learned. 

It was going to end on an optimistic note, with hope for the future. I was hoping to have some sort of uplifting conclusion. 


I'm not coming until spring

Today I looked out my window, and to my horror I saw a strange dog in my paddock chasing one of my chickens. I bolted outside with Guinness at my side. at the same time I was trying to call Ed to tell him to come help. 

When I got outside Ed had the dog in his grip and there were feathers everywhere. 

I saw one of my chickens laying on her back and in clear distress. I ran over and gently picked her up. She looked at me and died. Ed explained that he had seen the dog with a chicken in its mouth and he tackled it. The chicken ran into the barn. I put the dead chicken down and grabbed a lead for him. The dog was from next door. I found Amy cowering in the farthest corner of the barn. I gently picked her up and she was clearly in shock. I took her inside to the bathroom and contacted my 'chicken friend'. She advised putting her back in the pen since we couldn't find any injuries. 

Ed returned and we began to look for the other two. In the meantime the neighbour came over. He was so upset about our chickens and offered to replace them. I felt bad for him. This was a new dog for him (a bird dog) and they had an invisible fence. I suspect our chickens wandered over that way and the instincts kicked in. I tried to be kind but I needed to find my missing girls. I knew one was okay because I had seen her run behind the garage but I didn't know where the fourth one was. I walked into the woods calling her and looking. On my way back up the driveway I spied Jo scratching in the lawn. I picked her up and carried her to the coop. Ed found the fourth one (Beth) and she was missing a few feathers but otherwise okay.  Which meant that it was Meg that we lost. 

is my name Irish? that doesn't look like me

Once all the girls were in the coop we buried Meg and came into the house. Ed asked if I was okay and I burst into tears. I was sad about the chickens. I also know that seeing a dog chasing one of my beloved animals in the paddock had brought back some past horrors. 

I know that free-range chickens are at risk. It's not that I don't worry about predators. But they are so happy wandering. They always join me in the ring when I'm riding and follow us around outside. I was quite attached to my 'girls'. 

 I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on the couch and doing nothing. 

Of course 2020 had to finish like that. 

This year has been hard for everyone. I cannot wait for it to be over. I know that 2021 is not going to be rainbows and kittens. But right now I am out of resilience and just making it through this year seems like enough.  

I know that tomorrow I will wake up and start over. Later on this afternoon my three chickens were yelling at me to let them out of the run. Even Amy (who is missing all her tail feathers). 

I think I need to take some lessons from the chickens. 

But for now I got nothing. 

Monday, December 28, 2020

A Quiet Christmas

 First of all I want to wish all you a Happy Holiday- whatever it is you celebrate: Channukah, Yule, Christmas or Kwanzaa. 

I was really happy with our tree this year 

This time of year can be busy - with shopping, holiday parties and just the general feeling of having to get everything done. With Covid-19 this year was very very different. I know that some people are having to be alone this year and I am so very sorry for that. Ed and I are very fortunate (and grateful) that we were able to have our children come for the holiday. Often when they come they are fitting in visiting us with connecting with friends. Of course this could not happen so we spent a lot of time together. And it was wonderful. We played games, talked, walked and generally just had a relaxing time. 

I made them decorate sugar cookies with me

I did so much baking - peanut butter balls, sugar cookies, cinnamon buns and a no bake chocolate cheesecake. #noregrets.

cinnamon buns are a tradition

I did squeeze in some horse time. I even managed a lesson in there. 
It was a good lesson

An exciting thing that happened was that I went to Karen's to meet her new horse. It's been so hard not saying anything about this (not my news) but now it's public so I can. Nobleza is a 2 year old Andalusian from BC. She travelled really well and is settling in. Young Andalusians are often awkward looking with all their parts not quite fitting together but when she moves she just floats. She is clearly built for dressage and I can't wait to see her develop. Her personality is sweet as well. 

checking out her new world

Julia came on Christmas eve for a ride. The day was windy but it was warm. Our plan was to have a fun ride, hacking out and generally toodling. the horses had different ideas. Both of them were channeling their inner Black Stallion. Carmen bolted a couple times and Irish joined in. However, no one fell off and we were able to work through it. The chickens were in one corner of the ring and they must have been armed with the way that the horses were reacting to them. I mean, it's not like they see the chickens all the time. 
Irish keeping an eye out for imminent threats

At the end of the ride I leaned forward to put a santa hat on Carmen. She was having none of it. 

Carmen: no, just no. 
Me: awwwww :(

I hopped off and put it on which she tolerated. Based on her facial expression you would think that she's a sweet, gentle steed who is much put upon. 

Carmen: *sigh* why must you act like you're 12? 
Me: you look AWESOME!

Christmas day was nice and quiet. I scored some lovely horse items- new denim breeches and a grooming cart for the barn. 

It is from Ikea and I love it

I didn't ride Christmas day like I normally do. The weather was warm (double digits) but it was super windy and raining off and on. I was perfectly happy to spend that day in yoga pants cooking and eating. I did ride on boxing day and Carmen was awesome. Even with the chickens up in the corner of the ring. She could have cared less. 

I am on vacation until Jan 4 and I plan to spend the time relaxing. Riding when I want to and puttering around the property. 

Such a pretty view

While this was a quieter than normal Christmas it was one of my favourites. One thing 2020 has taught me is to appreciate the slower pace and spending time with people you love. 

What did you do over the holiday? did you get any great horsey items? 

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Puppy Visit

 A few months ago my nephew sought some advice on getting  a dog. After much thinking he ended up purchasing a puppy from the same breeder that I got Guinness from.  And last weekend the whole family came for a visit. 

Now the big concern is about Guinness. He's not the kind of dog that loves strange dogs. And, to be honest, I am okay with that (I'm sure you understand my reasons). However, it is important to me that he behave when told. 

When they arrived I made sure to be close and let Guinness know that I expected him to not eat the baby. 
At first he was super excited by the visitors- especially since they came with a boy! He loves boys. 

I mean can you even stand it? 
I'm pretty sure you cannot

Maze was typical puppy- lots of licks, lots of wiggles and she was really excited to see Guinness. After a little bit of sniffing everything was fine. Guinness was at first more interested in having someone throw his toy. He really wanted my great nephew to throw it but it was slimy. 

Maze was quite excited and wanted join in. 

Whenever she was told 'no' Maze would do this incredibly cute face. 

I am so sad, you should let me do what I want

At one point when were were outside Maze spotted the chickens. At which point chaos erupted. Maze was all "whee this is fun!" and the chickens were all "aaaaugh"

The adults were all trying to catch the puppy while the horses watched in fascination. 
Carmen: what on earth is going on?
Irish: I don't know. I think they have a new dog. 
Carmen: it better not be staying

We were full chase when I spied Guinness tearing after Maze and the chicken. 
Uh oh I thought. I was worried that Guinness was joining in the chicken chasing fun. But instead he cut in between Maze and the fleeing chicken stopping her dead in her tracks. 
Guinness: We don't chase chickens. It's the law. 
Maze: but I was having so much fun. *sad face*

Back in the house Guinness tried to explain the rules to Maze. When she got carried away pouncing on him he'd give a little growl and she stop. 

Do I really need to follow all the rules? 

After so much excitement it was time for naps. Both Maze and Guinness slept but I could see Guinness stretch his nose out a delicately sniff her. He seemed to be quite smitten by the end of the visit. 

almost holding paws

Guinness was a little upset when they left. I don't know if it was the boy or Maze or both. 

In the meantime I'm trying to convince myself that we don't need a new puppy. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

A Tale of Two Lessons

 You may be surprised to learn that I don't just torture Carmen with bad jokes, I also torture her with lessons!  

I am behind in my recaps because, well, like many, I am just tired. But this blog is to record my progress and I don't want to fall off the writing wagon. 

I have to to say that this year I have been my most consistent in taking lessons. Shanea has a good size of people so she's able to travel her regularly. This has not always been the case and she needs a certain number for it to be worth it. So, even though Carmen and I are her favourites, we haven't always been able to lesson (small joke for my other friends who take lessons. Besides who wouldn't love Ms. Dramatic Mare Crankypants?). With the pandemic heaven know we've not been going far which helps as well. 

This has made for some great consistent schooling and it's paying off in many ways. 

Both lessons were a week apart. In between Lesson 1 & 2 I didn't get much schooling done- the weather and work conspired against me. But that's okay, it's real life and I fret about this much less. 

square halt anyone?

Lesson # 1

The focus of this lesson was on going forward and adjusting her stride. I feel that Carmen is really starting to get it. We had some issues with various parts of the ring but I didn't feed into that cycle, which allowed us to deal with the moment and then carry on. So yay me. 

Carmen is very good at the collected work because of her breeding and conformation. She is absolutely able to lengthen but finds it harder. Honestly part of the problem is me- I tend to shut her down from our history of bolting. The other part is her- she'd prefer to dump her forehand on the bit and go like a snowplow. 

The goal has been for me to be very light in my hands but not give her all the freedom to run around where she wants. This is tricky but it's been a good learning experience. We cantered early in the lesson to get that going and then worked on some canter-walk-canter transitions. They were actually pretty good (for us). Looking back through old videos I can definitely see changes. 

Trot lengthens are really hard for us- she tends to speed up and/or dumps on the forehand. The goal was to have her lift up through the withers and go. Shanea had us trot-halt and then trot off into a big trot.

 At first it was a bit of shitshow. 

okay, looking at this I realize it doesn't look as bad 
as it looks but she was bulging away
and being stiff going towards a very scary rock

But then she began to gather herself and I could feel her lift up and through. We'd lose it after a few strides but then, it was like the penny dropped for both of us and whee. I loved this feeling- it was like riding a wave into shore. 

Here's a video of the last one: 

It felt like a major shift in our work and left me hungry for more. 

Lesson #2

Carmen was not feeling as good as the week before. I shared with Shanea that she had been feeling a bit 'off' all week. Not lame but quite herself. Of course with Carmen that can also be a mental thing. She was definitely more spooky this ride. I am loving that dealing with the spookiness is no longer the entire lesson. We work, she spooks, we deal, we move on. 

The focus on this lesson was getting her to be soft and bending. Like I said, Carmen can do the collected work really easy, except when she get tense and then it all goes to shit. She is easily distracted by what is outside of the ring and it can cause some difficulties. 

We worked on the Turn on Haunches. It's getting better but it's still not good. We start off okay and then she wants to dump on her forehand and snowplow through the aids. Add in her sometimes fixated on a trembling leaf outside the ring and it can become a hot mess. Literally. 

Shanea has been asking me to not drop her so much but support through the movement and correct it as much as I need in the moment. Take our canter work: when we transition down to walk I'm guilty of letting her go so she falls onto the forehand and rushes off. In my effort to provide a clear release of pressure I am teaching her the wrong thing. Now we're working on me asking, fixing, supporting and then providing the release. 

Riding is hard. 

But our upward is much better because I'm doing better at asking her to step under. The down is coming -with Shanea to talk me through it. Here's a video of our left canter - this is one that is much easier for her. 

Riding her properly into the transitions is requiring me to be really aware of my seat and to use it effectively. I feel that I'm getting better and sitting deep and following the movement. 

To the right is much harder for both of us. I'm left handed and I think she is too. I suspect I constribute to this as well but it often feels that she's throwing me to the outside in the canter and staying over top and keeping her straight is hard.  Here's some of the later work and I know it's a longer video than I usually post. Unless you are trying to find a cure to insomnia you can tune in to the first where Shanea gets after me for dumping her and then at the end when we get it. That is where we ended the lesson. 

As always, we are work in progress. I need to look back on previous work so I can see if we've progressed at all. I believe we have but I should check. 

I hope to take advantage of lessons for as long as I can with the weather. 

Friday, December 4, 2020

Friday Funny


Me: Hey Carmen, why the long face?

Carmen: Really? Was that necessary? Wasn't riding me IN THE RAIN enough? 

Me: Cheer up at least it wasn't raining cats and dogs.....

Carmen: please don't

Me: because then you might have stepped in a poodle! *ba da bum*

Carmen:  .....*sigh*

Carmen: What's that chicken doing?

Me: oh that reminds me of a joke-

Carmen: seriously, I'm begging you

Me: no this one is funny! 

Carmen: you always say that and it's never funny. 

Me: What did the chicken say to the horse?

Carmen: honestly, I don't get enough credit for my forbearance

Me: *cluck* 

Carmen: sigh, are you done? 

Me: get it? 'cluck', like I say to get you going?

Carmen:  I get it. ha.ha.ha.ha. Are you done now? 

Me: what else did the chicken say to the horse? 

Carmen:  fine, what? 

Me: buck-buck

Carmen: see what I put up with?