Tuesday, March 30, 2010

WOW!!! Guess what!

I got a phone call yesterday from the organizer of the Mane Event Horse Expo (http://www.maneeventexpo.com/ab/default.asp) and they want me to come ride sidesaddle during their saturday night "Equine Experience". I am SO excited!!!

A little bit nervous too! There's a LOT to be done and only a few weeks until it'll be here! I've got to do a write up for the announcer to read as we're doing our thing and I need to find some music to ride to. I think that's going to be the toughest part. Anybody have any suggestions? I think we definitely need something fun, no classical music or anything like that. I guess I'd better practice, practice, practice most importantly! I'm really excited to have a reason to get all dressed up in our finery! Should be a LOT of fun!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Jumping sidesaddle!

I finally tried it! I was a little nervous because Brigit tends to like to launch or chip (likely my fault lol) over fences and I wasn't sure how that would feel sidesaddle but it wasn't nearly as bad as I had thought! It was pretty fun actually! Holy WOW does my back hurt now though! It was very very stiff & sore yesterday and today the left side of my back is very sore and my right butt cheek is equally sore! LOL But we did it!
Definitely something that needs some practice though! The takeoff and jump portion isn't so bad, it's the landing! I need to learn to stay forward for longer, otherwise the tendency is to "snap" back upon landing and it sure doens't feel nice on your back! I'm sure Brigit would agree! I now see why the hunting sidesaddles have SO much padding!
I have to say I must be getting more conditioned for sidesaddle riding, I felt like I could have cantered all day, it's gotten SO much easier! Now it's the trot that tends to wear me out.

Brigit got checked out yesterday and her stifles are good again! It'll always be something we'll have to be aware of but we're good to go now! Yay! We've got some work to do on her topline to improve some back muscles but otherwise she was in pretty good shape.

The tiny pony I've been riding has been a lot of fun too. We jumped her a bit on sunday and she's such a little trooper! She's very cute. I have to laugh, whenever I lean forward to dismount she nickers. It's hilarious.

On another fun note. I've been invited to ride sidesaddle at an event near Edmonton on May 30 called the "Horse Showcase". It's a fun event that showcases different kinds of riding and breeds of horses. We'll be doing the english pleasure class, possibly a dressage demonstration, a "champagne" class and a jumping demonstration. It sounds like it'll be such a fun day! And it'll be a great opportunity to get dressed in all of our finery!

Unfortunately I have no pictures to share today! I will try and get some though!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sew NOT as easy as I thought!

The sewing is coming along slowly. It seemed to take forever to get all of the pieces cut out for the vest pattern I bought and I'm still not entirely sure that I have the right size but I suppose we'll see!

I started actually trying to sew it all together last night and it's definitely a LOT more tricky than I thought it would be. I would be completely lost if it wasn't for the book of sewing my grandma gave me. "Staystitching" "Basting" and various other terms had me fairly LOST. And my first attempt at making the little triangles on the pattern match up with each other didn't go all so well. I did get a few pieces sewn together though and I *think* I've done it right....

Unforunately the sewing class I'm taking is soo painfully basic. I think I learned more last week from reading through my sewing machine's owner's manual. Tonight is the second class, hopefully it will go better. I think I mostly just need to understand what all of the different terms mean and I'm sure I can do it! We shall see though!

What a beautiful weekend!

The weather this weekend was so gorgeous! It got to about +15 celcius on Saturday & Sunday. I didn't even think to wear sunscreen at all and came home with some pink cheeks and the outline of my sunglasses around my eyes! The outdoor arena had dried up enough that we could do lessons on Sunday outside. What a treat. There's so much more room to move around out there and the lesson horses seem to be such happy campers out there.

I rode Brigit today and she felt great at the walk and trot. Her trot was actually about the best I've seen it in a long time, it felt so BIG and loose! Her canter had me a bit concerned though, she started doing this awhile ago, she pins her ears back almost the entire time we're cantering and just seems really annoyed. I'm not too sure if she's still a bit sore or if perhaps the saddle isn't fitting as well as it did last year with all her time off. I'm going to try one of the school horse saddles and see if that makes a difference. If it does, perhaps we'll be on the search for a new saddle again....

I had a super successful day with Shadow as well! I bought a fuzzy girth cover to see if that would fix the problem (it didn't really but it was only $10 so oh well). I did all of my usual ground work with her, she was calm and relaxed. Then I grabbed the saddle and shifted it sideways like last week. And she bolted off, not as bad this time but still didn't like it. I caught her again and this time held onto the reins and did it again, she tried to bolt but didn't get too far because I had a hold of her. After a few more times of that, she seemed to realize that bolting/bucking wasn't the desired response or necessary and quit doing it altogether. Success!
I decided I'd better get on her again. In my attempt to be soooo careful so the saddle didn't shift sidways, I accidently kicked her in the flank as I got on. She scooted forwards and then danced sideways a bit and then stopped and puffed as if to say "Oooh you scared me up there!". I was really happy that she hadn't bucked or really done much. Phew! Let me tell you my heart was going for a few seconds there as I was contemplating bailing off! haha
After that we toured around the arena, did lots of halt transitions, lots of turning this way and that and bending her head around. She seemed to take it all in stride. Yay!
My boyfriend was there watching and he was really impressed at how far she had come. He hasn't seen me work with her in a few months and last time she was a snorty, spooky, jumpy, slightly nutty horse. Now she's pretty calm and actually getting to be a bit of a suck! (and a cookie monster!)

It was even nice enough outside to do some yard work! There's a whole bunch of tulips and crocus' starting to come up now. I spent a good hour pulling the remants of this creeping stuff I planted last year. What a mistake that was! It's a gorgeous little plant that gets covered in purple flowers but it has just taken OVER. The grass is trying to encroach into the flower bed and this stuff is creeping into the grass! Time for some Round-up I think!
I did a google search to try and find a picture of the creeping stuff, I believe it's called Ground Ivy and after a bit of reading, it sounds like it's a VERY invasive, VERY hard to get rid of plant. Oooooh boy.... what did I do?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The ice is almost gone!

We've had so much ice around the barn in the past month from everything trying to melt. Poor Brigit was having stifle issues again because of it. It didn't help that she wasn't in consistent work last fall or over the winter due to her being sick and then it was just too cold to do much riding. We got back to riding regularly in February and I think she must have slipped on the ice a few weeks ago, she was very gibbled. From what I've read, horse's that have weak stifles need to be in regular work and since she hadn't been I think that combined with the ice caused one to come out of place. *Sometimes* with a bit of massage you can get them to go back into place but I'm not really qualified to do much, I usually leave that up to my amazing chiro/massage person. We seem to have issues with the darned stifles in the winter when she hasn't been worked much, has been in a stall and it's icy outside so it makes sense that it happened again this year.

I put Brigit in the indoor arena last night just to see how she was doing and she looks great. I think we'll be able to start riding again. I was really suprised to see how well she was striding out last night, HUGE big strides at the walk. Definitely feeling better!

From a little bit of research I've found out that hill work, backing up, and lots of work over poles & cavelletti will help strengthen the stifle ligaments to help keep everything in place. So I guess that's whats going to be on the menu for the next little while.

Other fun news, I might have one of my students pony's to ride for the next week. Cute, cute, cute little pony but it's developing a wee bit of an attitude. I honestly don't think it had ever been taught to bend or flex at ALL. The pony's little girl is just 6 years old, great little rider for her age but the pony is definitely taking advantage of her a bit. So I offered to ride the pony a few times for them if they wanted for a bit of a tune up. I'm hoping they do decide to bring her by, I think it'll help them out and it'll be kinda fun for me! Although I feel ridiculously HUGE on the pony!

I don't think I've ever properly introduced my "project" mare Shadow. A friend of mine gave her to me last summer. She wanted to find her a good home because she wasn't doing anything at her place. She bought her as a weanling for company to another weanling she had but she didn't ever have anything done with her. She's 6 going on 7 this year and she is a BIG mare. When I first went to work with her she was pretty level headed, didn't do much but was a little jumpy. I decided I could work with her so we brought her home.

Well things changed when we brought her home. She was REALLY jumpy, probably due to new surroundings and all of that. And then came the bucking.... We started out doing a ton of ground work and desensitizing. We discovered that her response to anything uncomfortable/scary was to have a full out bucking fit. And let me tell you, this mare can BUCK hard, she gets some good air. Part of the issue I think was the back cinch, so I just took it off to simplify things which helped a lot but she still had these random tantrums. I'll be honest, there's a few times I nearly gave up on her.

With lots of ground work we've gotten her to the stage where she really thinks about things vs. just being reactive and bucking. She's so calm to work with on the ground, you can do anything to her, attach stuff to the saddle etc and she doesn't get spooked by it. Progress! So once she got to that stage where I could do anything to her on the ground, I figured it was time to start playing around with getting on her. I started out by just lying across her back, which she wasn't too sure about at first. Then when she was ok with that, we moved on to lying across her back and getting her to walk forward, doing some steering, halts etc.

She'd been doing so good with that I figured it was time to swing a leg over. The self preservation in me said "Use your english saddle, it'll be easier to get out of, just in case!". I actually feel a little more confident in my english saddle. The first time on I had a friend on the ground holding onto Shadow. She didn't seem to mind at all, so we tried some walking and that went well. We did that again and all was great. A few weeks ago I brought her in and did all the ground work with her, didn't bat an eye, she was so calm I figured, today is the day. I swung a leg over without anybody hanging onto her and we went for a couple of walking laps around the arena. What an awesome feeling!!! But as they say "Two steps forward, one step back"..... Sunday I was hopeful that I'd be able to get on her again. Well it was not to be. I did our regular ground routine and then went to laying across her back doing a bit of walking. First time was ok, second time not so much. We walked 1/4 of the way across the arena and I slid off because the saddle had shifted sideways a little bit. Just as I was thinking "What a good girl", she blew up into some pretty massive bucks! It seemed SO random, at first I couldn't figure out what had caused it. Then it hit me, it must be the saddle being off center. I decided to test that theory after she'd calmed down, I grabbed the saddle and pulled it towards me and yup! Off she went again! At least all was not lost, I did figure out what the root of the issue was. Now to figure out how to get her to not react like that. I'm going to try stretching her legs out after girthing up and making sure no hair is caught/pulling anywhere around the girth. And maybe a fleece girth cover is in order. I guess we'll find out, trial and error.

This was taken literally seconds before she had her little bucking fit on the weekend.

One of these days I'll get this mare broke! I think she'll be a really neat horse once I do!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Not much new....

Well there's not too much new happening, hence my lack of blog posts. Brigit is having issues with her stifles again due to all of the ice around. So I haven't been doing much riding except for on the school horses. They're pretty fun though!

The weather has been absolutely gorgeous and I think spring is definitely on it's way! I can't wait for all of the flowers to bloom. We've got a bright pink crabapple tree in our front yard and a mayday tree in our back yard, plus a TON of bulbs. The ones right next to the house are just starting to come up. Hopefully we don't get a heavy frost again or they might freeze! It will be interesting to see what survives the winter. I planted some absolutely gorgeous rose bushes last year and some peony's and clematis vines. I really hope they survived!

Here's a look at some of the things I'm looking forward to in our garden!

Some of the tulips...
These tulips are especially neat. They start off white and as they mature the edges turn pink.
I love iris' they have to be one of my favorite.
The crabapple tree....

And the mayday tree. You can't really see it's flowers all that well but it gets just covered in white flowers before it gets it's leaves in the spring.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

All dressed up with nowhere to go!

Today we decided to have some fun and get all dressed up in all our finery and take some pictures. Thanks to a good friend of mine for being my groom/photographer. It was REALLY handy to have someone help me get on and pass my jacket etc up to me. It was a tad muddy outside so it was interesting trying to keep everything clean. lol Now I see why thge ladies always had to have grooms with them!
We started off inside so we could try the pelham out and get warmed up. B went really well in the new bit and stayed very soft. I liked having the curb rein to ask for a bit more flexion when needed. I got a gel pad a few weeks ago and I've been putting that under the saddle and it seems to make a positive difference.
All dressed up and ready to go.....somewhere?
Off we go for a tour down the road. Definitely felt a little overdressed but it was fun!And a trot through the field...

Heading back home, that was fun!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

One thing leads to another....

Last year I was determined to learn how to ride sidesaddle and I did! This year I'm going to continue to ride sidesaddle and hopefully make it to a few shows and other events. I've discovered that I absolutely love all of the different riding habits I've seen but wow are they expensive!
So one thing leads to another..... I bought a used sewing machine last week. It was a heck of a deal and came with a sewing table and manual. I'm going to attemtp to learn to sew so I can *hopefully* make all kinds of neat things! We shall see! Thus far I've managed to spool the bobbin, thread the machine and do some basic sewing. It seems to be a really straightforward machine and has the option of straight or zig zag stitches.
Sunday I went to the fabric store and bought myself some nice yellow material and a pattern for a vest that said "Easy!" on the package. Well I'm not sure who's idea of "easy!" it is! LOL Actually it's not too bad once I figured out which pieces I actually needed and which lines to cut along. The tricky part was decipering all of the little symbols on the pattern. I must say I think it's going to take me more time to cut the pattern out and all of the fabric than it will to actually sew!

I thought perhaps it might be a little easier if I took a basic sewing course to help myself along. Might not be so much of an uphill battle that way. So I start on monday night at the local college.

I've also contacted a few people about starting up a sidesaddle club in Alberta. I think it will be a lot of fun! From what I've seen there are quite a few ladies that are interested in riding sidesaddle but don't know where to start or who to talk to. From my experience it was tough finding anyone that rode sidesaddle in Alberta. I think a club would make sidesaddle riding a lot more accesible to those interested. Stay tuned!