Saturday, October 20, 2012

Tail tube or brain teaser?

I've been having a lot of fun with my new gelding, he's incredibly patient in the barn for a 4 year old and just oh so mellow under saddle. Such a treat to be around. I figured I should maybe go pick a few things up for him so I went on a bit of a shopping trip today. He's now got his very own fancy padded hunter bridle and matching martingale. Looks pretty swanky in it too! Now this horse has THE most amazing tail I think I've ever seen. Touches the ground when he's standing in the stall and is thick as can be. I figured I should maybe put it in a tail bag to keep it nice and see how long I get get it hehe. So I bought one of those "tail tubes" that has the 3 separate sections to put the tail in and then you braid it and "voila!". Well... I think that's easier said that done. Slippery tail + slippery fabric = how in the world does this work?!?! After a good while of fighting with it, I got it in and it looks pretty decent. Lets hope it stays in for awhile so I don't have to re-do it anytime soon! I think this winter might involve quite a bit of trailering out to other barns...with bigger arenas. Our arena is just so darned tiny. I'm grateful to have an arena but this guy is just SO big we seem to make it down the long wall in a few large canter strides. I kinda feel like I'm trying to drive a large yacht round a small duck pond on this guy! The one thing I've got to figure out for him is a new name. He came with the name "Cocoa" and I'm just not sure it suits him. He's a big, fancy boy and needs a name to suit him. His sire is "Beau Soleil" and his dam goes back to Northern Dancer. So far I haven't come up with anything good. Hopefully I will figure it out soon so I can quit calling him "the moose" or "Mr. Brown" or whatever else comes to mind at the moment lol!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A new sidesaddle mount?

Well since Rain didn't work out as a sidesaddle horse, I ended up listing her for sale and finding a great family for her. Couldn't let that money sit in my pocket for too long, so it promptly burned a hole in my pocket and I found an absolutely gorgeous Canadian Warmblood gelding. Meet "Cocoa" (yes we're going to change his name! lol) a 4 year old, 16HH gelding by a stallion called "Beau Soleil". Definitely love his attitude already, he's a pretty mellow guy and has a lovely floaty trot and an amazing canter. We just picked him up last night and I'm itching to go to the barn tonight to play with him. And yes, hopefully he will be my next sidesaddle mount!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

1st Level - We did it!

Went to a dressage show on Saturday and figured I'd try riding a few 1st level tests. Plus I just really wanted a good excuse to get out and wear my new habit! After sewing & resewing buttons on to the apron to get it to fit just right and staying up till 1:00am the night before cleaning tack & making a new stock tie, I was tired but ready to go! Ok maybe not totally ready, for the life of me, I could not memorize the 1st level tests! I thought I had one but couldn't remember it at ALL! Good thing I had some friends there that could read for me as I rode. Our first test felt horrible. Brigit was really hot & feeling a bit spooky (scary dressage ring!) and pulled on me the entire time. We broke into a canter in the lengthened trot once (oops!). I figured the test was a write off, we got through it but it sure didn't feel nice at all. However I guess the judge disagreed! We won the class! Our second test felt a lot more relaxed and I thought we nailed it. Well except for one part. Brigit decided she liked the lengthened canter a bit too much and refused to come back to me, so instead we ripped around the corner like a motorcycle, broke gait, popped into the wrong lead and finally managed to get ourselves put back together again. I did have one point of contention with the judge on this test, on our score sheet it noted that we had picked up the wrong lead once, which I know for a fact we hadn't (we have other pics that show it! lol) but it's not a huge deal. For the amount of riding/practicing we did (or lack thereof.....), we did really well and we ended up the Open 1st Level Reserve Champion! Woo! Definitely pulled that out of the dark! lol Definitely have some things to learn & work on for next time. The leg yields are definitely a tough part, it's really interesting to get some feedback on things. For instance, our leg yield to the right felt great but as you can imagine, the leg yield to the left is a bit sticky. But again, the judge said our leg yield right was a bit rushed (we still got a 7). To me the leg yield left felt like we just barely got it. I think she was focused on everything else but listening to my cane lol. And now for a picture from yesterday! More to follow. (Thanks to my friend for taking pics!) I'm sure glad it wasn't any warmer, with a wool vest on and a wool habit, stock tie and gloves, I was cooking!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cold Saturday Farm

Visiting Cold Saturday Farm was another one of those unforgettable parts of the trip. Robin's family used to own Cold Saturday and the now live next door to it. It's a beautiful old stone house built in the 1700's (I think 1760-something? Should have written it down! lol).
Robin says the little stone bridge is a lot of fun to drive across with a horse & cart. She used to practice her driving on the little lane-ways around the farm. Below the house is a little log cabin by the pond.
There are two stories on where the name comes from. The first one being that the property was surveyed on a very cold saturday during the winter and it was dubbed the "Cold Saturday" place. The other being that the wife of the original owner wasn't too keen on the place and told her husband "It will be a Cold Saturday before I live there!". I think I'd move there in a heartbeat....after I win the lottery that is lol.
We had a lot of fun exploring around the grounds of Cold Saturday, so much interesting history and picturesque little areas.
This is what used to be the carriage house. Robin's grandmother loved her horses.
She had this barn built (in the 20's I think?) for her horses. When she was a child, her family had a terrible fire in their barn and they lost most of the horses. So this barn was very state of the art for it's time; built out of stone with large metal fire doors separating the different sections. Each stall had a door leading to the outside, just in case they had to get the horses out. Robin was telling us that when her Grandmother was alive, there wasn't a cobweb to be found in the barn.
There's still a few equine inhabitants in the barn today.
This is the front of the "Orchard Barn", which they used to use as a shed for the broodmares.
The house even has a walled garden around it. Looks like the entrance to a secret garden.
What a treat to get to visit such a beautiful property. At home our history is a lot younger than out on the east coast, so it's really interesting to see buildings that are hundreds of years old still in such great shape and being used & enjoyed. Many of the "older" buildings here were built out of wood and have since burned down or been torn down. Stone buildings are few & far between. I really enjoyed hearing the history of the farm and seeing how the culture & history is valued.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Back to Maryland.... Getting to ride Owen!

Staying with Robin and getting to ride Owen was such a highlight of my trip. What an amazing feeling to have the opportunity to hop on a horse that does the upper level movements and get to play around a bit. First of all, I LOVE Robin's arena. It's just to die for.
Started off with some trot work. Working on some shoulder in & haunches in.
And then some leg yielding and half passes...
On to cantering and getting Owen to lengthen and shorten his gaits in preparation for some attempted canter pirouettes.
Some attempted walk pirouettes. I say attempted because Owen totally knew what he was doing, me not so much! But it was still a LOT of fun!
Our first attempts at canter pirouettes were pretty sad. They more more of a glorified (maybe not even glorified lol) tiny canter circle lol. I really wasn't asking him properly and Owen was saying "What the heck do you want lady?" lol
So Robin hopped on to show me how to do a few and then I tried again. I think by the end I was almost, kinda sorta getting it. What a neat feeling!
I definitely think my favorite was the passage and piaffe though! Just amazing to feel the horse come up underneath you like that and really, dance on the spot.
Definitely a treat to ride! Thanks again Robin! And Owen too!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A greenhouse!

Well we finally have a shed in our back yard and last weekend we finished building a little lean-to greenhouse on the side for all of my plants. Usually in the spring we play the "in & out" game with the planters and seedlings I've started. They go out in the morning and come into the dining room, turning it into a jungle, in the evening. To give you an idea of what our spring is like, the tulips, daffodils and May-Day trees are blooming now (seems like forever since I was in Virginia & Maryland enjoying spring flowers!), the cherry-trees and crab apples are just about to bloom. It's still a bit cool in the evenings (and some days) and there's the odd chance of frost but it's slowly warming up. I did manage to get a sunburn two weekends ago, so occasionally it gets really nice & warm! I've planted three types of onions, radishes, several types of lettuce and a few different carrots. The radish & lettuce has sprouted but no sign of the carrots or onions yet. The sweet peas are coming up now too. I started 7 heritage varieties of tomatoes - Ildi a small yellow grape tomato, Sweet Million a small red cherry, Black Krim a bigger dark purplish brown fruit, Hawaiian pineapple a tasty and HUGE yellowish orange tomato, Fried Green the name says it all, Beefsteak just to have something that matures a bit sooner and Striped Roma's. I found the heritage varities took forever and ever to produce fruit. This year I'm going to make a point of trimming them back so they work on putting more energy into the fruit instead of getting 8' tall. I'm really pleased with my flower beds, most of the perennials have come back with a vengance this year. Well, except for the tulips. I think a mole or vole got into the beds and had an all you can eat buffet over the winter. The one bed in particular looks rather pathetic! I know for a fact I planted at least 50 tulips in it when I separated them last fall and I've had a pathetic 10 come up and then wither away. No flowers at all. No good. I've got a whole bunch of annuals to plant once the fear of frost is gone but for now they're in the greenhouse looking pretty happy. Boy do I love having a greenhouse to keep everything in! I feel like a kid with a new playhouse!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Visit to Robin's

Robin (Sidesaddle Quest) invited me to stay with her while I was on my trip and she had enticed me by telling me I could go for a ride on the fabulous Owen! After arriving and meeting her sister & mother, we decided we had just enough time to go for a ride before dinner. So off we went for a tour.
The woods around Virginia & Maryland are so different from our dense forests at home. As we rode, Robin told me about the history of the farm and her family. I of course, opted to do the trail ride aside, why not?
Before untacking, Robin and I had some fun with Owen. She taught me how to do a piaffe & passage on him. What an incredible feeling! Such a treat to ride a horse like him. The next morning, we got up and went into Baltimore to see the National Aquarium. Definitely something you should see if you go to Baltimore. It was pretty amazing. I took a ton of photos but here are a few of the best ones (or I'll be here uploading pics all day! haha) The Aquarium is right on the waterfront in the inner harbor of Baltimore. The submarine out front is really interesting too.
There was also an old ship in the harbor that you could do tours of.
Inside the aquarium there is so much to see.
Inside you work your way up to the top of the building and then you get to this long spiral walkway that takes you down through this enormous tank. As you go lower the types of fish change and there are even some pretty good sized sharks. It was neat to see the divers in the tank feeding the fish. (not in the shark tank of course! lol)
This is an interesting photo of what baltimore used to look like and what it looks like now.
Lots has changed! As we enjoyed our lunch, we watched the little "dragon boats" out in the water. Unfortunately Robin didn't think much of my idea to rent one and paddle around the water lol. I think it's an interesting juxtaposition seeing those dragons touring around out in front of the old submarine.
After touring the aquarium and having lunch, we went back to Robin's farm. We took the scenic route home and saw some huge thoroughbred farms & lots of neat old houses along the way. We stopped at a beautiful old church where Robin was married. Her family has a long history in the area.
We had a bit of time to relax and then we had to turn back around and drive to the Baltimore Airport to pick up my friend Lee who was joining us for the ISSO Clinic weekend. Poor Lee! Her flight had come in early and she had arrived at a different terminal that we had expected, so we couldn't find her. We wandered around the airport for a good hour or so looking for her. Finally we found her and heard how the entire trip down had been a bit of an adventure. (Note to self, do not EVER fly though Toronto Airport or on Air Canada again....). For dinner we stopped at a neat old pub and chatted about sidesaddles and horses for at least a few hours. What could be better? Good company, good food and lots of good conversation!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Oooooh snow....

Well so much for painting jump poles and perhaps planting a few things in the garden today. Woke up to a pretty good snow storm. Great big flakes coming down. Luckily it's stopped now and is just raining but it's fairly rotten out there. Definitely not going out to play in the garden today! Good day for puttering inside!

Day 5 Goodbye Virginia - off to Maryland!

My next stop was Annapolis. I really didn't know much about the city of Annapolis but I'd been told that it was somewhere that I really should go. So on my way to Robin's house, I stopped and did some touring. At first I ended up in a very industrial, rough looking part of the city, I definitely wasn't in the right spot! I wanted the historic section down by the water. After stopping by a hotel, I found a touristy map and I was off again. Annapolis was definitely a good choice! So many neat old buildings, antique shops, history and seafood! Yum! After I found parking, I went around exploring the historic section. This church was sort of a central spot, there was a gigantic traffic circle that went all the way around it.
Some of the buildings around the church.
Lots & Lots of brick everywhere. Something you just don't see up here in Canada anymore.
A gingerbread looking house.
And the amazing back garden behind it.
More neat buildings around the Maryland State House
And this is the Maryland State House, did you know that Annapolis was the temporary capital of the US for awhile in the 1700's?
This is the main street leading down to the docks. Lots of neat little shops down here.
A very interesting old street and buildings. They really made use of their space!
I wandered down to the water and had a look at the boats on the Chesapeake Bay.
And had lunch at a pub (More crab cakes! Yum!) right by the water with a nice view of the town.
The server told me about a historic house, The William Paca House, that was nearby that did tours throughout the day. William Paca was one of the people that signed the declaration of independance. Apparently he built this house shortly after he was married. The house was really interesting (but I couldn't take photos) but what I really enjoyed was the large garden behind it.
As you can see, the garden was beautiful, I can only imagine what it must look like in the summer when all of the flowers are blooming. On the way back to the car (where did I park again???) I saw some more neat houses and features.
This must have been a grand old house in it's day. The front staircase is so interesting.
After my tour of Annapolis I was back on the road and headed to Robin's house. I got there with just enough time that we had a chance to go for a trail ride through the woods. Their farm is just beautiful and has some very interesting history! I think I'll save those pics for my next post though, it definitely deserves it's own post or two!