Friday, December 16, 2011

Or.....maybe not....

I'm rethinking my big dreams of trying 1st level. Lets just say that schooling hasn't been going very well since our "lightbulb" day.

A few issues that I've run into this week include:

- Mare has decided that she enjoys the "lengthened" portions of the test a little too much... meaning it's REALLY hard to quietly come back down to a working gait.

- Mare has decided she is NOT a fan of that darned magical whip. I am having issues managing my reins and the whip and it seems every time I go to shorten my reins, the whip wiggles a little and then our relaxation goes out to the window and falls into a heap of locked jaw.

- Mare now thinks that we should always lengthen across the diagonal which results in very poor transitions from trot to canter at "X". Darn that locked jaw again!

- The canter loop is a complete disaster. Who would think coming off the wall to the quarter line and back to the wall would be so difficult but apparently according to "The Mare" we must try for multiple flying changes (Hmm... Maybe one day we *could* do tempi changes!?!) the one direction or fall apart into a discombobulated trot the other way.

LOL Oh the fun of moving up a level! I'm thinking we might be better off sticking with what we know! LOL

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Magical Stick.... First level here we come??

So since the Championships I was thinking to myself, would I continue to do some dressage next year? Or was this just a fun thing to do for this year? I really enjoyed the dressage shows, everyone was incredibly friendly and I just had a lot of fun.
The one thing that kept sticking in my mind was that we'd absolutely have to move up a level if we continued next year because... that's how it works. So I began reading through the 1st level tests and realized that the main difference between training and 1st is the addition of lengthened gaits and leg yielding. The lengthening didn't seem to be too much of an issue, we could do that and a leg yield to the right we could do, but what about the leg yield to the left.... Nah we'd never be able to do 1st level. I had tried it a few times with a dressage whip but it just didn't work, it wasn't stiff enough to actually ask her to move over.

There's a schooling show coming up this weekend that was I planning to take some of my lesson kids to and I was mulling over the idea of trying a 1st level test to see if we could somewhat get ourselves through it.

Now I must have the most supportive family when it comes to showing and this whole sidesaddle business because my mom gave me an early Christmas present the other day. She gave me an absolutely gorgeous sidesaddle whip. It's MUCH longer than than the hunt whips I've got and perfect for dressage.
I tried it out last night and I swear, this stick is magical!! I played around at the walk and trot to start with, so I could get used to riding with it and so Brigit could get used to it being there and then we tried a leg yield to the left and I swear, that horse has never leg yielded so well in all the time I've had her!! Down the quarter line we came, opened the left rein a bit and laid the stick against her belly and we had this amazing lateral feeling. Normally her hind end lags a little bit but with this whip in just the right spot you could feel everything engage and almost swing over underneath you. What a neat, lightbulb moment!

Now don't get me wrong, I know I'm in for a lot more work if we want to do 1st level and do it well but this is definitely a promising start!! I think the biggest challenge is going to be getting Brigit to relax when I'm riding with a whip.... she really doesn't like them and is so sensitive that if she even sees it move out of the corner of her eye she thinks it's time to move....Which could make that stretchy trot circle even more tricky to get.. I found the most difficult part was keeping it still at the canter; normally I'd rest it on my leg if I was astride but aside, it's really got nowhere to go. It'll probably just take a bunch of riding to get both of us used to it and desensitized a bit.

Not only is it magical.... but it's awfully pretty too!

One of these days I'll get a video of the infamous leg yielding to share too!

And I guess if I didn't officially have a collection of antique whips before.... I sure do now! I guess if I'm down to *only* 2 sidesaddles then it's ok to collect something else... hehe

Thursday, December 8, 2011

He is DEFINITELY a keeper!

My significant other recently started a new job (ok not so recently, almost a month ago) and he's on shift work a few hours away. On one of his trips home, he stopped in a litttle town that is very well known for their antique shops. There's this one store that is just HUGE, 3 stories full of antiques of all sorts. And every once in awhile a little gem will pop up. He stopped in there, looked around for awhile and then asked the clerk if they happened to have anything related to sidesaddle riding.

And what do you know! The clerk says "Why yes actually! We just got this in the other day!" and pulls out this absolutely gorgeous ladies hunt whip.
Bamboo shaft, antler handle and an absolutely gorgeous engraved silver collar. What a find!

And being the good man he is, he brought it home for me!

Here's a close up of the handle & collar.

The other end was missing the waxed cord that's usually wound around to help secure the "snapper" (I can't think of the actual name for that little bit of leather on the end right now... duh!) and I was worried that it might come off if I ever tried to use it, even just for demo purposes. So I figured I'd stop by the local leather repair place and see what they could suggest. Turns out they had just what the doctor ordered. Though I'm wondering if I should have used a darker color?
Here's the end all fixed up.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Photos from the summer

I look at these photos and recall how HOT that wool habit was to wear that day. And then I look outside today.... and I'd be glad to have it on! It's snowing and about -8, roads aren't great and it's an overall good day to be inside!
Anyways, my mother ordered some photos from a local photographer that came down to see our sidesaddle demonstration at the Bar U clinic. She is just AMAZING and seemed to catch the horses at exactly the right moments.

Doesn't Brigit just look amazing? (I'm still not sure how well I like the look of a bowler on me... lol)

Crossing the creek makes for some great photos.

And this is my friend Cait & her little gelding Eddie. He's technically a pony but don't tell him that! His ego is more than big enough to keep up with Brigit's size! They really do make the ultimate pleasure pairs couple.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Prayers please

This is a bit off topic from my usual posts but I'd like to request some prayers for one of our students that was involved in a serious car accident last night. Unfortunately we live in an area with a lot of deer & moose and she hit a moose and has some pretty severe injuries.

Some extra good thoughts sure can't hurt!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Our hunter-jumper re-debut!

I say re-debut because we used to show hunter-jumpers but now we're trying it in a sidesaddle!

I have to say I was SO pleased with Brigit. I warmed her up astride because I thought she might get a bit looky at some of the decorations (it was full blown Christmas in the ring!) and I thought it would be better to get her settled with a leg on each side first. She was SO quiet and SO good I could hardly believe it. No spooks, no speedy-ness, no rushing or pulling on me. Just a nice soft easy going pony.

Went back and changed tack and I changed into my sidesaddle attire (which I was up till 11:30 pm finishing!) and back into the ring we went! Boy were a lot of people VERY surprised to see me riding sidesaddle and I got a lot of "You're not going to JUMP like that are you?!?!"... You betcha!!
Warming up in our fancy Christmas outfit...
Let me tell you I was so nervous I thought I was going to throw up. We went in and did a few warmup jumps and everything went really smoothly so my nerves settled down a bit. My next fear.... forgetting the course! But thank goodness for the hunter world.... Love their easy to remember, flowing courses. Quarterline, diagonal, outside line, diagonal, outside line and DONE.

Our first division was the 2'0" classes. The course rode really nicely and I thought we nailed every jump except one. Boy was this TIRING though! My leg was aching already after one round! 3 more to go and 2 flat classes!

We made it around the courses and had a really fun time. I was pretty proud of myself that we'd survived and actually made it look not too bad! And we'd placed in every class! We ended up with two 3rd's, a 4th, two 6th's and an 8th. Definitely not too shabby at all! The classes were fairly big and the riders were very good. You could tell most of them are pretty serious hunter riders, so I think we did well considering we were really just kind of winging it.

This is a video of one of our 2'3" rounds...

The owner of the barn we were at (who's on the Canadian Equestrian Team) was helping to hand out ribbons on the last division and was so impressed that we had jumped sidesaddle! He asked if we'd be showing in any other classes as he'd really like to see it (didn't get to see our previous rounds). I said I wasn't too sure, I was getting pretty tired and Brigit was too. Plus we hadn't jumped 2'6" sidesaddle. I figured I'd try a few warmup jumps and they went well... So I figured what the heck, why not. Well.... we probably shouldn't have... it was not a good round. I think my right leg was just too tired and for the life of me I couldn't find a nice distance to any of the fences, nor could I stay with the motion. There was a few times I thought I was going to get ejected! We made it around the course but let me tell you... it wasn't pretty. The barn owner was still pretty impressed though and offered to let us do another round but I declined, I was just too tired.

From looking at some of the photos, I can see that I definitely need to fix my position. It appears that I'm tipping over to the left over the fences, so no wonder I was feeling like I was nearly getting chucked out of the saddle on the landing. Hopefully with more practice and awareness that I'm doing it, I can fix it. At this point... I sure can't imagine going any higher (though I'd LOVE to!). There has to be something I'm doing or not doing quite right that's holding me back.... hmm..... A new challenge to conquer!
This is the photo that shows me tipping to the left badly!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Into orbit we go! Well...hopefully not anyways!

So tomorrow is the big day. It's our first official "hunter-jumper" over fences show....sidesaddle.

I think I'm prepared.... at least I hope I am! I jumped again last night and things seemed to be going really well, so hopefully when we get to the show we can pull off a few nice rounds (or at the very least, not make a gigantic idiot out of ourselves lol).

I even tried out my new apron last night.... Yes that's what I've been making with all that fancy fabric. A Christmas sidesaddle outfit. Apron, vest & stock tie. I was really impressed by how well the apron fit & it hangs just about perfectly level, pretty good for my second try at making one!

The stock tie took me awhile to figure out how to tie the darned thing (probably longer than it took me to make it), I've only ever had the fake, pre-tied ones. I sat in the bathroom, in front of the mirror with my laptop on the counter, trying to follow along with the a youtube video. It was a bit funny but I think I've got it down pat now! (btw, these are extremely easy to make).
Here's the video if anyone wants to learn how to tie a proper stock.

Tonight will be a busy one with all of the prep... Ride, bath Brigit, clean tack, swap bits to different bridles, clean boots, iron clothes, make sure everything is in the trailer and hopefully get some sleep!

Oh and I've got to finish my vest... Turns out the sizing on the package of the pattern and the sizing on the actual pattern itself... were different. i.e. the vest is MUCH too big for me and needs some major alterations. Just hoping I can get it done tonight!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The jumping condundrum....

This whole jumping business makes me go "hmm.....". I've been practising it a fair bit and it is getting better but I still don't feel like I'm that good at it. X-rails, we can do all day long and they are feeling really good. However, once it goes up to a vertical.... things seem to fall apart a bit.
Part of the issue is maintaining a good rhythm (on the accordian mare as I like to refer to her as...) and thus, finding a nice distance. It seems that our tendancy is to come up to the fence with a good rhythm and at the last minute, suck back and pop a nasty chip in. Let me tell you, it doesn't feel nice on the back. However, neither does taking off from a really long spot and launching over the fence...

I'm definitely feeling a little bit intimidated by the fact that I entered in a show this friday and it's mainly jumping.... It's bizarre to be a bit wigged out by a 2'0" and 2'3" division... That's just small potatoes... but not so much in a sidesaddle. I figure as long as my right leg doesn't give out and I can cling on, we should at least make it around even if it isn't totally pretty... lol

Issue #2 is jumping a fence on the right lead vs. the left lead. I seem to have a heck of a time keeping my right shoulder back over the fence and on landing. My whole body really wants to twist to the left over the fence, again, doesn't feel so nice especially combined with a not so nice distance....

Hopefully we can get this down pat in the next few days and don't make a complete arse out of ourselves!! LOL

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Can you guess??

Can you guess what I'm making.... (I'll give you a hint, it's fabric!)

It may be freezing cold out there but I'm definitely having a very productive day!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

No show today... TOO COLD!!!

As I type this, it's a whopping -24 degrees celcius and with the wind chill today it was nearly -38. YUCK. The cold snap is only supposed to last until Monday though luckily and then it'll warm up.

I just could not justify trailering my old girl in this weather for a bit of fun. There will be more shows! Actually... there is a Christmas Hunter/Jumper show in 2 weeks time that I'm thinking of going to if the weather is alright.

I did run out and check on everyone today and they all seemed happy & warm outside, there was even some running around & bucking going on, so they must be feeling alright!

Can I please come & visit someone that lives somewhere warmer for a bit???

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I dunno about this....

Hmmm.... So I'm supposed to go to a show this weekend, dressage on Saturday (eeek more new tests to remember!) and some hunter stuff on Sunday. They have some smaller classes (X-rails, 2' and 2'3") that I was thinking I might attempt sidesaddle. I'm excited but nervous at the same time! I think we've got this jumping business down pat and we had a really nice ride tonight, including some jumps and such but I can definitely feel a crick in my back after riding! Lets hope I don't feel like I've been hit by a bus after this weekend! lol

Few more days to practice, so hopefully we can wing it and have some fun!

Just for Julie!

Do we ride in the snow up here in the great white north?

Why of course we do!

It makes for some amazing photos...

And sometimes some really silly fun!
A willing/tolerant horse, a "flying saucer", a rope and the appropriate winter gear...check!

Lots of fun! Unless you fall off...

Or end up in the ditch! Ooops!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Winter seems to be here....

We've had our first snow, the ponies have grown their winter coats and it's getting COOOOLD at night! Tonight their predicting somewhere between -14 and -18 degrees celcius. Brrrr!!!

Rain's first blanket. Snug as a bug!

And a cute one of Brigit and her new friend. Brigit hurt her leg last week and has required some cold hosing. One of the little girls at the barn wanted to help me, so I let her do some cold hosing. Brigit is sooooo careful when the little ones are around.

Feeling art-sy!

I bought some prints awhile ago and finally in September, got around to getting them framed. I had WAY too much fun at the framing place picking out frames and mattes. They were finally done on the weekend so we picked them up, they turned out SO well! Now the main issue.... where do I find room to hang them?!?!

Sorry about the reflection on some of them, without the flash, the true colors weren't really showing through and they looked really washed out.

This one is my absolute favorite hands down.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Young horses make me laugh

Tonight was Rain's 4th ride in the indoor arena and I think she was feeling a little bit spunky and decided that things were maybe a little scary. Her ears were going back & forth like they were on a constant swivel mode. Thus far she's never really spooked or done anything bad, just looked.

But tonight we had our first spook. My boyfriend was watching us ride and we're trotting down the long wall when all of a sudden she starts to scoot forward on me. I couldn't really figure out what she was spooking at and I look over to see my dear boyfriend, nearly in tears laughing. He finally caught his breath and told me that as she came down the long wall, she started to toot and she spooked herself. The whole time she had this look on her face like "What's that?!?! What's that behind me?!?!" LOL

It's funny the things we don't notice after riding broke horses for so long but babies sure do!!

Monday, October 24, 2011


The newest member of my "herd", well I guess I only have 2 at the moment so it's just a pair.
This is Rain (not sure I'm sold on her name...), she's a 15.2 HH Appendix mare, 4 years old and has just the BEST mind ever. She's so quiet and fun to ride.

A friend rode her a few weeks ago and told me about this fantastic horse I just had to take a look at. So this weekend I went and rode her on one of the hunts. We do have a hunt club up here but they're just mock hunts for fun. At first I was a little cautious because after all, this is only a 4 year old that I've never ridden before. But she was great! She just loped along and by the time we hit the halfway point of the ride we were jumping everything! She's a very honest and fun horse to jump. Doesn't pull or get hot at all.

I had so much fun on her that I thought she just had to come home with me. She definitely has the potential to be the next sidesaddle horse!

It was such a gorgeous day to be out riding in the foothills, the mountains had fresh snow on them and the temperature was perfect.

Can't wait to ride her again tonight!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What do I do with all these TOMATOES?!?!

I need suggestions! I've made BBQ sauce, huge stock pots of pasta sauce and have salsa coming out my ears.
But I've STILL got more tomatoes! What in the world am I going to do with the rest?

Ideas? Recipes? Mailing addresses so I can send you some?? lol

Otherwise this year's gardening is pretty much done. Still have to bring in some carrots & onions, finish cleaning out the beds & I'd like to get some good compost to mix in with the soil.

I have full intentions of digging up the front flower beds and redistributing the bulbs and planting some more. I wasn't really happy with how they looked this spring so I want to re-do them. We shall see when/if that happens! It's getting dark here earlier & earlier so it's hard to do in the evenings.

Haven't been riding too much lately, I decided to give Brigit a bit of time off after all the showing this summer. I did hop on bareback yesterday though and had a really nice ride. Pony Club is done for the year so I've got a lot more spare time, it's odd not having such a busy week but kind of nice for sure. Not too much interesting around here though!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pics from Provincials!

Here are some more pictures of us in action at the Championships! Thanks again for all the congrats & nice comments everyone! I love sharing this stuff with you guys!

(The squarest halt we've ever had.... All thanks to a "dip" right at X! LOL)

Friday, September 23, 2011

The behemoth!

Tomato that is! Look at the size of this thing!! It's off of one of the "Hawaiian Pineapple" plants I think it must weight over 2 lbs!

But now I don't know what to do with it! Do I break out the salt shaker & eat it, all to myself? Do I make some fresh salsa for dinner? A tomato sandwich?

I'd better make up my mind quick!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Provincials & Regionals

We had a great 4 days, met all kinds of wonderful people and the weather even cooperated for us!

At Provincials (Thurs/Fri) we ended up in 3rd place overall. I think we might have placed a touch higher but our first test wasn't so great. I thought Brigit was going to jump out of the dressage arena at "A"! She was pretty hot & spooky but we still ended up with 66%. Our second test was much better and we had a score of 67%. On both tests we got the same comments "Not enough impulsion" which is usually not Brigit at all!

So I had a new found friend help me out and we went to work getting a feel for "more impulsion". Well it worked! On the first day of Regionals (Alberta, Saskatchewan & Manitoba) we ended up 2nd with a score of 68.75% and for our second ride we had 67.6% and ended up Reserve Champion for our division!

A friend came out to take some photos on the weekend, this is the only one I have thus far but I'll share more when I get them.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rotten news.

Just as I was heading home today, my uncle called to tell me that my grandmother had passed away suddenly. We were very close so it's been a real shock to the system and a rough afternoon. It's hard to imagine never seeing her or hearing her voice again. She was a huge influence in my life and supported everything I did. I'm really going to miss her.

Still deciding on what I should do. I should probably get myself moving and go to the show. There's better use than just sitting here being a leaky blob and I'm sure my grandma wouldn't have wanted me to sit around and pass up this opportunity that we've worked hard for.

Just a really sad day.

Ride Times

For those that are close and maybe want to come watch.

Thursday at 10:55 pm Outdoor Arena

Friday at 1:28 pm Covered Arena

Saturday at 1:50 pm Covered Arena

Sunday at 10:09 am Outdoor Arena

With only riding once a day, I'm not sure what the heck I'm going to do with myself for the rest of the time!! LOL Watching the upper classes probably and then maybe some shopping? Napping? Reading? Learning to knit?? lol

What am I forgetting?

I should probably be thinking about work but I'm having a hard time concentrating!

I just can't keep thinking "What am I forgetting?". I've got a list going that's about a mile long. Our weather has definitely turned to "fall" and it's really chilly out there, so there are lots more things to bring so neither I or Brigit is cold.

The one thing I always seem to forget is a darned wheelbarrow! Today I'm not going to forget one though... because I'm going to go BUY one and designate it specifically for the horse trailer/shows.

Brigit had her massage/adjustment at lunch and there were definitely some things out here & there, which should explain why she's been a bit difficult to ride lately. Makes sense, if your back is out or your sore, it's hard to do what you normally do.

This evening I've got to bath, pack my stuff, pack the horse trailer and get up to the show grounds, hopefully before 9pm! That's when they close the arena's for the evening and I'd really like to have some time to ride there tonight. Seems like so much to do!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

So nervous.....

Thursday & Friday we're off to the Provincial Dressage Championships and on Saturday/Sunday we're riding at the Western Canadian Regional Dressage Championships.
I'm really nervous because we haven't been having any good rides lately. The simplest things (astride or aside) have felt like a battle to accomplish. For some reason everything is scary and results in breaking gait, counter bend and just overall rotten rides.
I have the chiropractor coming out tomorrow and I'm sure hoping maybe a miracle will happen and we can get back on track and put in some good rides this weekend.
How exciting would that be to do well at the Provincial or Regional level, riding sidesaddle?

Wish us LOTS of luck! I think we're going to need it!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

From sidesaddles to stagecoaches!

Gotta love anything old that has lots of history to it!

This past weekend a really good friend of mine got married and she asked me if I would look after braiding & polishing up the draft horses. So in the past few weeks I've learned how to do a draft horse mane roll (more of a weave than a braid). The mane roll's stay in SO much better than a running braid but they do take practice!
(no don't worry, I only wore the cowboy boots when I was around the horses doing touch up's on their manes. Didn't want my toes getting smushed if I got stepped on!)

Her father in law borrowed a friend's old stagecoach for her grand entrance to the wedding. It was absolutely amazing. They went from her Grandparent's acreage (where the wedding took place) into town to pick her up and back. They definitely turned a lot of heads!

I even got to go for a ride when they were all done pictures.

And the groom's father even let me take the team & stagecoach for a spin. So much fun!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Looks like I've started yet another collection

How does that song go? Something about being excited about whips?? Well you bet I am! But I only get excited about antique whips, especially hunt whips!

On our holiday to British Columbia we did a fairly obscene amount of antique shopping. Whenever I'm parusing the piles of interesting old stuff, I've always got that "holy grail" in mind. You guys know what I mean... Anything sidesaddle related, an actual sidesaddle itself is especially exciting, photos, boots, hats etc. It seems up here hunt whips are few and far between but every once in awhile you can strike it rich and come across one. Most are in pretty terrible shape, likely because a lot of people have no idea what they are and just toss them aside.

A few years ago while antique shopping with some friends, I found this lovely little whip at a shop that specializes in military antiques. It's fairly large so I'm assuming it's a man's hunt whip.

On our holidays we came across a shop that had a GORGEOUS ladies whip, lash & all still intact. I gasped when I saw it and knew it HAD to come home with me. (think little girly squeals on the way out of the store with it in hand! lol) The little silver collar has the initials "E.A." on it. I wonder who E.A. was? I believe the shaft is covered in braided/woven linen. The leather was really dry and I feared that the lash might break right off so I carefully oiled it and I think it will hold a bit better now.

We stopped by another antique shop that specializes in movie props and all kinds of interesting stuff and you guessed it! I found ANOTHER one! This one with braided leather on the shaft and in almost perfect condition! It is MUCH more stout, so it's definitely a man's whip. The guys at the store had no idea what it was (to my advantage) so I got it for a song! On the collar are tiny letters "ZK", maybe it's a whip made by Zair? I'm not sure!

And all three together to show the size & color differences!

I think I can safely say, I've got a collection of whips now too! I want to build a little "whip rack" to put in the living room to show them off. Maybe that'll be a winter project though!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bits about bits

I've been doing some thinking about the whole "poll too low" comments and the fact that Brigit looooves to curl her neck in. She's very very soft in the mouth (most days) and I ride her in an eggbutt french-link snaffle. I'm wondering if a bit change might help our issue?

I've had two thoughts... Swap to a regular loose ring snaffle so there's nothing to lean on and perhaps that will make her curl in less?

Or perhaps change from a french link to a regular snaffle mouthpiece, perhaps that french link is just "too comfortable" and allows her to roll under?

Or perhaps something with a little roller on it for her to play with?

Or perhaps a waterford bit? They're supposed to be the most gentle bits and the mouthpiece doesn't allow for any leaning or resistence since it's to "bendy".

I don't really want to go out and buy all new bits though! Might have to see what I can beg & borrow to give my theories a try.