Saturday, 23 November 2013

Colic

It's the word that all of us dread.  I've been so fortunate in my life that none of my horses have ever been colicky before.  I guess we were just lucky but it was a threat we knew was out there but had never had to deal with before.

That abruptly changed on Wednesday.  I was just getting off work (I worked a morning shift so I got off pretty early, thankfully) when I got a message from my mom to call her.  I knew immediately something was wrong with one of the horses.  Why else wouldn't my mom say what it was about in the message?  I immediately called her and she said the worst words she could, "There's something wrong with Socks."

So after I somehow managed to not burst into tears in front of everyone I worked with (minus a girl from another store who was in the back room when I called my mom) I went over to my sister's store and promptly burst into tears in front of all her employees and customers.  Go me.  I didn't even care. 

My mom met me there and we drove straight out to the stable.  We didn't have a lot of information.  Our stable owners are on a short vacation so the instructor at the barn was doing chores.  She already does chores some days of the week so she's a good choice because she's familiar with all the horses.  Anyway, when she fed Socks, Socks didn't even come out of her shelter.  That's a huge red flag.  Socks will tear the barn apart to get to her food.

The instructor brought Socks inside the barn to keep an eye on her.  She said Socks lied down a few times but she never rolled or thrashed.  She never kicked at her stomach but she would turn her head and look at her flanks. 

When we got there I was greeted with a big, loud nicker from Socks.  She was up and made her motorcycle noise for a good two minutes as the instructor poured the stall horse's nightly grain into their buckets.

While my mom and the instructor spoke, I took Socks out and brought her into the arena to walk.  She was more than willing to go.  She did want to lie down.  She'd walk a step away from me and lower her head to the ground.  That's her sign for let me roll.  I'd give a little tug on the lead rope and she'd stop.  She never once tried to go down. 

Long story short, she did actually begin to improve almost immediately with walking.  We were there for six hours in totally (six, long hours in a freezing barn, I still haven't warmed up). 

By the end of it she was 100% normal again.  All she wanted to do was eat, which she did not get to do much to her disappointment.  She was fine the next day and has been good ever since then.

We've all come to the conclusion that it was just a mild colic, but it was scary nonetheless.  I'd rather not have to deal with that again.  At least the instructor has dealt with colic before, and we had a vet on standby. 

I went ten years without dealing with colic, hopefully I can go at least another ten without dealing with it again.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Milestone



I am alive!  I've been a horrible blogger, but I am alive.  My computer broke a while ago so my time online is restricted to mostly my Ipod, and I hate typing on that thing.

Okay, so last time I posted was in...August.  A lot has happened since then.  My riding skills have improved exponentially (I think) I spent most of the summer and September focused on Jimmy.  I learned a lot of new things to do and he's a completely different horse now.  We're both still learning, but it's crazy how much we've both improved these past few months.  We're still working on his lope, and slowing it down and making to more consistent.  I managed to get him out in the fields a few times over the summer and he handled it like a champ.  There isn't anything I've found that can make him lose his mind.



Not much has changed with Socks.  I've applied what I've learned with Jimmy with her, so she's also gotten better.  I bought her a pretty leather halter.


I've gotten the chance to ride with a professional barrel racer a few times.  That has been beyond amazing.  I've learned so much from her!  She's helped Jimmy and I a lot.  Hopefully next summer I'll finally be ready to compete.

The most exciting news though is Artemis.  First of all, she finally hit fifteen hands!  I don't care how big she gets now, I just wanted her to hit fifteen hands.  She's getting to be massive.  I'm sure she'll get bigger, we're all thinking she'll be close to sixteen hands, if not sixteen hands.

Second, I've started riding her.  October 26th was our first ride.  Well our first official ride.  I have previously been on her once and led her around, but I count this as our first real ride because this was the first time I directed her at all.  It lasted for just over five minutes but it was long enough.  I lunged her in the round pen first to make sure she didn't have any silliness in her.  We just had a halter on her, no bridle, and I took the lead rope and tied it around to make reins.  I kept the lunge line on her and my mom came in to hold it.  Then I got on.  She could have cared less.  She mostly followed my mom around, and we worked on stopping her.  She was responding to my mom stopping, but that's okay.  She'll start to realize when I pull back and say whoa, that means stop.  The biggest thing about that ride is I actually got her moving forward off of my own command and no help from my mom.  That was big so we ended the ride there.

The second ride was after it snowed so we had it in the arena.  What was really awesome about this was when we went out into the pasture to catch her, she came galloping from across the creek over to us.  There was another horse being ridden, by a friend of mine, in the arena so there was a little more distraction.  It didn't make a difference.  Again, my mom held the lunge line but we focused more on Artemis listening to me.  This ride was a little longer, about ten minutes, and she stopped and started a few times on my command.

The third ride was again in the arena.  She was awesome.  We got her to walk away from my mom and not rely on her for support.  Again we worked on stopping and going.  She's picking it up so quickly.  She knows what my leg pressure means.

The fourth ride was last night.  Again, she was amazing.  We got her to walk around my mom in a big circle on the lunge line and worked on stopping and going.  This time, I also asked her to change directions.  She had no idea what I was asking her at first, but after a few second, she got it.  Then we stopped and started a few more times before I got off.

I cannot describe how proud of her I am.  I couldn't ask her to be any better.  She has her ears pricked forward the whole time each ride.  She's never scared.  She never reacts when I get on her (she's usually not even paying attention) and even though I'm pushing her each ride, it's not scary or frustrating to her.  When she does get confused she just stops and you can almost see the wheels turning in her mind as she tries to figure out what I'm asking her.  Everything about the rides have been calm.

She doesn't feel like a typical young horse.  A lot of young horses I've ridden feel tense, and like they're about to explode at any moment.  She feels just like Jimmy, relaxed but a little unsure.  She hasn't tried to buck, run or rear once.

Our biggest goal is to maintain keeping every ride calm.  I'm okay if she doesn't learn everything in a night.  As long as she tries and is happy, that's good enough for me.  These short rides (ten minutes long at the most) are working well so far.  They're short enough as to not overload her with new information.  They're long enough accomplish what I want, but not too long to be hard on her.  And she sure loves getting a nice long grooming after them.

Ride five will hopefully be tonight.  We'll be switching from the halter to the bitless bridle so it'll really be about seeing how she reacts to it and getting her used to the pressure.  Then she'll get a few days off.

The last exciting news is that my sister's horse, Sadie, is moving to a stable near us today!  It's not actually at the stable Socks and the others are at, my sister wanted one a little closer to home, but I'm still happy to have Sadie around.



Saturday, 10 August 2013

Muddy Season


I'm sure you're all asking yourselves (or not) is that Artemis in a stall?  Now why would she be in a stall?  Well, here's the answer to that.


Yup, it's an abscess.  This is what we've been dealing with for almost the past month.  July 18th, she went lame.  I spent the next few days running like a chicken with it's head cut off.  Luckily for me, while I apparently am not good in a crisis (I usually am, but leg issues, because of Cas, and I lose it), my stable owners are.  We began poulticing for an abscess and sure enough, that's exactly what it was. 

The abscess has actually been the least of our worries when it comes to Artemis.  So imagine this, you're a two-year-old, insanely energetic, horse who has spent most of her life living free out in the pasture.  You come up to the barn, do some grown up horse stuff, and then go back out into pasture until the next time.  Then, one day, it ends for you.  Your foot hurts and your thrown into a stall and don't get to go outside.  (Constant rains = insane amounts of mud = no outside time for Artemis)  You start getting bored and your boredom makes you angry.

I've always known we have some holes in her training, I'm the first to admit that I have no idea what to do with her, but those holes have become very apparent when our happy go lucky turned into an angry, hurt, bored demon of evil.

In a way, I'm thankful this happened because otherwise, who knows when I would have become aware of these issues?  And more importantly, at least right now, I had the help I needed to deal with them. 

We knew she was pushy, we've been working on fixing that, but can I just say wow?  She's been doing really awesome lately but that went out the window when she was hurt, bored and angry about being hurt and bored.  I was bringing her in the stall one night and she was good, but then in a second she decided she wanted out.  I was in her way and she didn't care at all.  She probably would have run right over me if E  hadn't been standing right behind me and jumped in to help.  I'm still sore from it, she ran right into my right side.  I still have the bruise and it was almost a month ago.

It was scary and upsetting, I've never had one of my own horses try to run through me before.  But it was a good eye-opening experience.  E helped me a lot with her, and taught me different ways of handling her and honestly, the Artemis I knew before the abscess, is nothing like this Artemis.  This one is so much more respectful of my space.

A big thing I learned is to do everything on a loose lead rope.  I'm sure we've all been there, when your horse is acting up your first reaction is to tighten your grip on the lead rope.  It never worked for me, it never gave me more control.  I learned how to keep her on a totally loose rope, and have ten times more control over her.  It wasn't without battles (mostly between her and E) and she proved what I've always known, she's one of the most stubborn horses any of us have ever met. 

There are absolutely no problems with her going in our out of stalls now, she's like all the proper indoor horses and all you have to do is lead her up to the stall, and she goes in and turns around for you to take the halter off, by herself.  She can now soak her foot she leads like a dream, though you sometimes do have to give her a little reminder. 

As her foot has improved so that she can actually walk on it without intense pain, E started turning her out in the arena by herself in the morning.  I was really happy to hear that not once did she act like an idiot when turned out.  You know how usually when a horse is cooped up for a while, and then you turn them out they run around acting like a fool?  She's not like that.  She walks laps the whole time.  The craziest thing she does is stops and rolls every now and then.  There's no running, no bucking, just calm walking.

On dry days, which are far and few between, she gets turned out during the day and again, she doesn't act like an idiot.  Unfortunately it's usually too muddy and we're afraid the mud will pull of her silver boot of duct tape so she doesn't get to go out unless it's dry.


To say the least, it's been a tough month.  It was really difficult at times, I love my horse but it was hard to have her acting so badly, because I expect better of her, and I honestly thought I had done better with her.  It was still good for both of us though, I think in the long run we'll both be better off.


Here's the demon from a few days ago.  It's not a great picture, she's not actually that butt-high.  One nice thing about her being in the barn is that the second she hears our voices, all we can hear is a loud neigh coming from the barn.  She says hello every time we come in, either by neighing or making her motorcycle noise.  She calls for us, and every now and then for T.  And as an ending note, enjoy this picture of her. 


The horse in the stall next to Artemis was having his teeth done, and she thought it was the coolest thing she'd ever seen.  We walked in the barn and this is how we found her, absolutely glued to the scene.  She left briefly to say hello to us and then immediately returned to continue watching.  I hope she liked, her turn might be coming up in the near future. 

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Mental Health Break

I was having a bad day today.  While not a bad week, I've had a busy, stressful week and it got to me today.  Then, problems with a certain person just made everything worse.  I was in such a foul mood, my cat kept alternating between head butting me and hiding.  I haven't been out to the barn all week because I've been so busy, and man, did I ever need to go out today.

K and I went out together.  We caught Socks and Tango and K suggest we have a lazy day and go bareback.  I hesitated at first because it's been two and a half years since I rode bareback, but then I remembered this was Socks and she'll be fine.  She was.

We went for a ride off the farm, just exploring nearby roads and (unintentionally) scaring cows.  It was fun.  All we did was walk but my mood improved immediately.  Socks was perfect, she was having a great time so I had a great time. 

When we got back to the stable we went in the outdoor to do some trotting.  This made me realize two things.  First, my confidence is just non-existent.  I've been slowly realizing that lately but how hesitant I was to get back on bareback and then how hesitant I was to trot bareback, was kind of a slap in the face.  When Socks was at my dads, during the winters I only rode bareback.  We'd go galloping through the snow, having a blast. 

It's to be expected I guess, I did have a pretty bad fall.  And that's why I'm hesitant, it's not that I'm afraid of riding, I'm afraid of getting hurt again.  Maybe it would be better if my arm still wasn't in near-constant pain.  I don't actually feel like I'm healed because it still hurts all the time and when I do anything, riding, walking through crowd, working, my first thought is always if it's going to hurt me more.

The second thing I realized, I can ride.  Okay, I know that sounds conceited but I'm not saying I'm an Olympic-level rider, or even a good rider.  I just realized that I'm not completely horrible, I can stay on a horse (for the most part) and I should relax a little.  I started trotting around Socks, weaving in between the jumps, having a blast, and it made me realize that my lack of confidence is a little unwarranted.  I stopped worrying about falling off and I think I actually rode better. 

K cantered Tango a bit and though I wanted to, even with my new revelation, I couldn't.  Not yet.  But I think that's a good goal for me.  I have no problems loping or galloping with a saddle, and I never used to have a problem loping bareback, but I was way too nervous to today.  I think it would probably be good for me to do it again.  Socks is fine, it's not her, it's me.

Anyway, moving on from my insecurities.  Before we left, we went down with L to visit Artemis.  Man she was glad to see us.  She came right over to us, Ebony at her side, and enjoyed the attention for a while.  Then L wanted us to see if Artemis would follow us.  She ran over to the gate and Artemis followed her.  L wanted us to try and see if Artemis would run after us if we ran away.  K ran first, away from the gate towards the creek.  Artemis followed her a few steps and then stopped.  L ran next and Artemis just watched.

When it was my turn I ran and in about half a second, I heard hoof beats behind me.   I looked behind me (which is hard to do when you're running through mud) and there she was, loping after me.  She followed me, staying a few feet behind me, all the way to the creek.  When I stopped, she stopped a little bit behind me.  I have to say, that felt good.  Any bit of negativity left in me vanished.  She followed me away from the gate and was respectful about my space. 

She hung out, following behind us as we visited with the other horses, and then followed us back up to the gate.  She was dying to come with us, she's like her mom, the two of them are happiest when they get worked.  I know many people would disagree with that and say horses don't like to work, but honestly, I find they both get sour when their left to their own devices.  I don't mean they get a little wild, I mean it's like they're in a bad mood.  They get cranky and unhappy when they're not worked with.

This day was exactly what I needed and my horses couldn't have been anymore perfect.  Even Jimmy was awesome the short minutes I was with him.  He nickered when he saw me.  Okay, who am I kidding, he nickered for the handful of grass I had.  But still, he was good.

So as an ending note, hopefully starting next week, Socks and Artemis are going to switch places for a while.  Socks will go out into the pasture and Artemis, providing she and Tango get along, will come up into the pens.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Liebster Award

A few weeks back now, Wolfie over at What Was I Thinking...? nominated me for the Liebster Award.  Go read her blog, seriously, it's awesome, it's one of my favourites out there.  And her horse Gem is not only gorgeous but he's also a Canadian horse like Artemis.

I know I'm really late to the party but oh well.  I'm actually not going to nominate any blogs because I'm doing this so late, all the active blogs I read have already been nominated for the award and filled this out already.  It feels redundant to nominate them now.

HOW TO ACCEPT THE AWARD: The Liebster Blog Award is a way to recognize blogs who have less than 200 followers.  Liebster is a German word that means beloved and valued.  Here are the rules for accepting the award:
  • Thank the person who nominated you and include a link back to their blog.
  • List 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Answer the 11 questions given to you.
  • Create 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate.
  • Choose 11 bloggers with 200 or fewer followers to nominate and include links to their blogs.
  • Go to each blogger's page and let them know you have nominated them



11 Random Facts about me:


    1. I am a big fan of British Television, more specifically, British dramas.  Doctor Who and Sherlock are my two favourite shows.  I think they tend to be more witty and the camera work, especially in Sherlock, is just amazing.
    2. I'm a pretty big zombie buff but most zombie movies, especially older ones, terrify me, and I maintain a zombie apocalypse would suck.  A lot.
    3. I have small writing and I apparently write my fours strangely.  Both of these are constantly pointed out to me by customers when I have to write in front of them.
    4. I have a tendency to name my animals after people, living or fictional.
    5. I'm a night owl all the way.  I'm most productive between the hours of 1-5 am.
    6. I use my left hand for everything now except for writing.  It feels unnatural to use my right hand. 
    7. I'm horrible at responding to phone calls, texts and emails. 
    8. Despite currently owning a cat, I'm not a cat person.  Luckily for me, my cat thinks he's a dog.
    9. I hate Socks' name.  I wish my twenty-two-year old self could go back in time and slap my twelve-year-old self for agreeing to that name.
    10. It has to be almost 30 degrees before I'll stop wearing a sweater everywhere.
    11. I don't read instruction booklets.  It took me four years to figure out my camera took multiple pictures at once because I refused to read the instruction booklet.


    11 Questions from Wolfie
    1.  Who do you prefer - Ryan Gosling or Ryan Reynolds?
    Ryan Reynolds

     2.  What is your favourite gait when riding?
    Loping, I think it's the most comfortable

     3.  Have you ever had a light bulb moment when riding?
    Yup, quite frequently.  I actually had one last time I rode.

     4.  Do you care what you wear to the barn?
    Not even a little bit.  Except for my work uniform and maybe one or two fancy shirts, I consider everything I own barn clothes.

     5.  Do you wear a helmet when you ride? 
    Not all the time, I'm bad I'll admit.  I don't on Socks, I do half the time on Jimmy and I'll always have on Artemis.  If I'm doing any "above" work (standing on the mounting block, things like that) with her I always have my helmet on.

    6.  What is/was your favourite book?
    I have a lot.  I love The Sight, Harry Potter Series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians the most probably.

    7.  What is your favourite part of the riding experience (grooming, competition, lesson, trail)?

    I like trail riding the best but honestly the moment I live for is going out to Socks' pen and hearing her nicker for me.  That's the one moment that makes horse ownership just so worth it.

     8.  What is your favourite season for riding?
    Autumn, it's cool and no bugs.  Especially wasps.

     9.  Do you have other interests in addition to horses?
    I love writing and drawing, that's what I spend most of my non-horse and work time doing.  I also love film and media.  In the summer I add hiking and mountain drives to my lists of hobbies.

     10. If you could only have one food if you were stranded on a desert island, what would it be? 
    Chips.  Any kind except for Sour Cream and Onion.  I don't think I could survive without my chip fix.

    11. Would you prefer a social person next to you on a long flight or someone who keeps to themselves?

    I'm not overly social myself but I think I'd prefer a social person.  As long as they were nice, I'd be able to talk and that'd help time go by faster.

    I'm not going to nominate any blogs but I will mention a few of my favourites.

    What Was I Thinking....?
    The Adventures of Lucy
    Simply Horse Crazy
    Just a Girl and Her Horse

           
           

          Sunday, 23 June 2013

          Our First Ride


          So we went out yesterday to just check on the ponies and somehow, from that, this ended up happening.  I'm still not entirely sure how.

          The bottom of Artemis' pasture is pretty flooded out, but it's not really that much worse than usual.  It's not fast-moving or dangerously deep, and she still has over half the field of high ground to get away from it.  The worst issue is the bugs.  They're absolutely insane out there and made for a very eager Artemis to come inside. 

          Since she was up at the barn, I saddled her up and lunged her.  We had an audience today, (K and our barn owners) so instead of my mom helping me out, K helped me out.  She held Artemis while I leaned over her back and then lead her around.  Like usual, Artemis was fine with it.  So we decided to see how she'd be with K leaning over her back.  Artemis didn't care.

          Since she was being so good, we decided to push a little further.  We wanted to see how she'd be with me actually sitting on her.  I think the video speaks for itself.

          When I first put my leg over her, she tensed up for a second and then relaxed almost immediately.  The two moments where she does start to get tense are when she begins sidestepping.  But as you can see, she at no point had any inclination to freak.  In fact, she was a lot more calm than I was.  I was freaking out inside the whole time.  She didn't share my trepidation.  At the beginning of the video, when she turns her head away from the camera, she's actually trying to nibble on my foot.

          I know I'm only on her for like thirty seconds but it felt like forever to me.  We ended the day once I got off of her.  She did so awesome, it would have been stupid to expect more out of her.

          There's still a lot of work to do, but I've put a plan of sorts into place.  I think I'm going to switch Socks and Artemis out for a while, so Artemis comes up into the pens and Socks gets some down time in the pasture.  This way I'll be able to work with Artemis more regularly for a while.  This won't happen until the round pen is dried up because I intend have my first real ride (where no one leads her and I'm controlling her) in the safely enclosed round pen.

          I'm so proud of her, I couldn't stop smiling all of last night because I couldn't stop thinking of how awesome she was.

          As an ending note, the flooding, for the moment, seems stable.  As far as I've heard it hasn't gotten worse and waters have even begun to recede a bit.  Hopefully that keeps up.

          Friday, 21 June 2013

          Horses Are Safe

          I was able to get a hold of my stable owners and the ponies are currently safe, wet, but safe.  Cell phone service is not good right now so we weren't able to talk long, but it was pouring out there in the afternoon.  The creek is getting pretty high but luckily Artemis does have some pretty high ground in her pasture so she can get away from it, and the my barn owner's are pretty confidant the creek won't reach the paddocks or their house.  Like I said before, the creek isn't glacier fed, it isn't connected to any of the flooding rivers so it won't have the water in it that all the rivers do.

          We're going to try to drive out tomorrow and check on them.  I'll feel better once I see with my own eyes that they're okay.  I'm once again so thankful that not only do I happen to live in a safe area, but my horses are in a safe area.  Everything's gone to hell around us, but we're safe so far.

          Unfortunately not many are as lucky.  People who cannot trailer their animals out, which has been many, have been instructed to open their gates and cut their fences so their animals can escape.  It's terrifying to think of all these animals out on their own, but they have a much better chance of survival if they're not locked in fields, and especially not in barns.  And do not leave halters or ropes of any kind on your animals.  They may make your animals easier to catch once the flooding is over, but the risk of them catching on branches or other objects is too great and your animals are safer without them on.  I've heard of people painting their phone number on the sides of their animals and then setting them free. 

          The latest update I've heard on the flooding is that river levels are constant for the moment, but there is still a chance that the Bow River could rise some more.  It's crested in Banff and so should be rising in Canmore and Calgary sometime during the night.

          State of Emergency

          Southern Alberta is in a state of emergency due to the massive flooding all across the lower part of the province.  It's not just a small area of the province, the flooding goes as far down as Lethbridge and as high up a Sundre and Red Deer.


          This map gives you an idea of how far the flooding is spreading, and now BC and Saskatchewan are seeing the effects from the flooding. 

          I'm safe, I'm very lucky and happen to live in a neighborhood that is high enough up not to get flooding, but none of us were able to go into work because we all work in evacuated areas. 

          This video has been on the news a lot (without the audio due to the swearing).  And the water has only gotten even higher since this video was taken.

          The town of High River has been completely evacuated, all 13 000 residents.  The town is completely underwater. 

          Here are pictures I've taken off of facebook, it gives you an idea of the destruction being done.

          This is supposed to be a road near downtown Calgary.

          This a picture of the Calgary zoo.  Animals have been evacuated and the zoo is currently closed down.


          Downtown Calgary.

          This is High River, and once again keep in mind that the water is even higher now.

          Highway 1 in Canmore is just gone.  The videos of it are amazing, the water has cut right through the road and the debris in the water is unbelievable. 

          Houses in Canmore.

          This is High River I believe.

          This is one of my biggest fears, not only are people being affected by this devastation, but the animals are as well. 

          Here is a link to even more pictures.  http://ca.news.yahoo.com/photos/alberta-flooding-slideshow/

          I'm about to call up the stable and just check on how they're doing.  They do have a creek that runs through Artemis' pasture but it is not glacier fed so while I'm sure it's high, I'm pretty sure they are at least not in danger of it flooding like all the rivers have.  That's the biggest problem, its not the rain over places like Canmore, High River and Calgary, it's the rain in the mountains.  The more rain they get (which is supposed to be a lot) the higher the rivers are going to get.  The water comes down from the mountains in giant surges and that's one of the biggest problems with this flooding.

          I am incredibly lucky in that I live in a pretty safe neighborhood from flooding, my neighborhood is at a higher incline, my street is at the top of a hill, and I'm not near any sources of water.  The stable is lucky in the same sense, and I believe it's far enough away from me that it's not even getting the rain we are. 

          However, a lot of people I know have been evacuated out of their homes.  Thousands of people are being forced to leave behind their homes and all their belongings and there is no clear idea of when they might be able to return, if they have anything to return to.

          I know people really want to help out right now, but the best thing for everyone to do is to stay indoors.  Do not go near any rivers, the river banks are extremely unstable right now and the waters could rise by feet in a matter of seconds if we get another surge from the mountains.  Stay home, listen to the news and let the emergency crews do their jobs without having to worry about the safety of civilians.  That's the best thing you can do.

          I know I'll be praying for everybody affected by this tragedy, and although it doesn't look like it's going to end soon, I'm praying the rain will stop soon.  It's currently pouring where I am and it's supposed to keep raining through the weekend.

          Sunday, 9 June 2013

          Learning to Lunge

          So much has happened in the last month and a bit, it's not all going to fit into this post.  In short, I've started riding again, Artemis has been doing awesome in her training (more about that in this post) I started a new job (which I need to be up at 4 am for, which majorly sucks), I went to a horse show for three days to support a friend and that was definitely an interesting experience, and we passed the one year mark of me breaking my arm.  I'll try to stop being lazy and actually write about these in future posts.

          Artemis has been great.  She never ceases to amaze me with her willingness to please.  Seriously, this time last year, she was a nightmare.  She didn't want to come in and would put up a fight each and every time we brought her in.  So far (knock on wood) she's been coming in happily. 

          We've been working on lunging.  I've never met a horse that picked up on it so quickly, especially considering I've only done it a handful of times myself.  The first time we did it was in the round pen, so she had the sides of the pen to guide her.  The first couple of times I asked she just stood there and stared at me, completely confused.  Then, after a little guidance, she got it.  By the end of it (she only ever gets lunged for ten minutes max because she's young) she was even whoaing just to my voice. 

          The next time we went to lunge it was too hot outside so we decided to give it a go into the arena.  Again, it took a couple tries before she understood what I was asking but she got it quickly.  She tries so hard and gets extremely frustrated when she doesn't understand what I'm asking.  As long as I stay patient with her, she gets it though and she's getting to be an old hand at lunging.

          I brought my sister with me one day to film her lunging and after we were finished, I left Artemis free in the arena while I cleaned up after her.  She's like my shadow.  Anytime I'm near her, all she does is follow me.


          As you can see, I'm not that great at lunging myself but I think considering we're both new to this, she does pretty good.


          And here she is following me around.  I think she looks massive compared to me but she's still only 14.3.  You have no idea how much I'm dying for her to grow one more inch.

          The second last time I was out, Artemis was not so good.  I hadn't worked with her in two weeks though so while she wasn't horrible, it was obvious she'd had too much time off.  My friend K led her in for me and Artemis took advantage of the fact that it was someone new.  She was trying to lead K instead of the other way around and kept pretending to be afraid of everything.  Unfortunately for her, K doesn't fall for that kind of thing and little Miss Artemis had to pay attention.

          Last time I saw her she had two-year-old brain going on.  Focusing was not something she did.  However, two-year-old brain is still so much better than yearling brain and even though she wasn't focused, I was able to get her to do what I wanted. 

          That's all about Artemis for now.  I have a few things I'm planning on doing with her so hopefully I'll have more interesting news to report soon.

          Tuesday, 4 June 2013

          Survey

          I have some real updates coming but I'm waiting on some videos to finish loading (my computer is horrible with videos) so until then, I figured I'd try this out.


          1. Dish face or Roman nose? Why?
          Roman nose, I really, really hate dished faces.

           2. Mares or Geldings? Why?
          I'm definitely a mare person, I love that they have no quit to them.

           3. Do you think warmbloods are over-rated?
          No

          4. Describe your dream horse.
          Hmm, honestly, Artemis.  A horse that I've raised from a foal.

          5. What kind of bit do you use and why?
          Socks goes in a curb bit because that's what she's always been in and that's what she responds best to.  Artemis currently doesn't have a bit but she'll be started in a snaffle.  Jimmy switches between the bitless bridle and a snaffle, depending on what we're doing with him.

          6. Stock horses or sport horses?
          Stock horses.

          7. Favorite horse color?
          Grulla

          8. Least favorite horse color?
          Chestnut/Sorrel

          9. Dressage or Jumping?
          Jumping

          10. Favorite stock horse breed?
          Quarter Horse or Appaloosa

          11. Favorite Hot-blooded breed?
          Thoroughbred

          12. Favorite cold-blooded breed?
          I'm partial to Clydesdales

          13. Dapple grey or Fleabitten grey?
          Dapple grey

          14. Most expensive piece of tack you own?
          My saddle, even though it really wasn't that expensive

          15. When did you start riding?
          I think I was ten

          16. Leather or Nylon halters?
          Leather

          17. Apples or Carrots?
          Carrots

          18. Chestnut or bay?
          Bay

          19. Palomino or Buckskin?
          Palomino

          20. Lazy horse or Hot horse?
          Hot horse, I hate having to push a horse on


          21. Have you ever been trail riding? 
          Yes, I miss it a lot 

          22. Have you ever had to put down a horse that you loved?
          Yes, still the hardest decision I ever made

          23. How many saddlepads do you have?
          3

          24. How many bridles do you have?
          Oh man, we have a lot, we have at least six in our locker I think.

          25. Favorite saddle brand?
          I don't have one
           
          26. Beige or White Breeches?
          White

          27. Least favorite discipline?
          Western Pleasure

          28. Do you own a horse?
          I personally own two

          29. Do you collect breyer horses?
          Nope.

          30. Favorite color of saddle pad?
          Red, Socks' colour

          31. Private barn or Boarding stable?
          Hmm, it depends.  It is great having other people to ride with and bounce ideas off of when you are at a boarding stable

          32. Opinion on spoiled riders?
          Annoying, I try to stay out of the drama though

          33. Have you ever ridden tackless?
          Yes, Socks and I are not so good at it

          34. Have you ever stood up on a horse?
          Yes

          35. Overo, Tobiano, or Tovero?
          Overo

          36. Favorite face markings(s)?
          Blaze or bald face

          37. Why you started riding?
          Because I thought horses were the coolest things ever

          38. Does anyone in your family ride?
          Everyone in my immediate family does

          39. Have you ever owned a horse?
          Yes

          40. Something you want to improve on?
          My riding skills, all of them.  I feel like I'm much better with ground work than riding

          41. A bad habit you have?
          I either have my reins too long or too tight, never just right

          42. A bad habit your horse has?
          When Artemis gets scared she gets pushy

          43. How high have you jumped?
          I'm not sure exactly, up to Socks' chest (it was on the trail)

          44. Have you ever had a dressage lesson?
          No

          45. What really makes your horse spook?
          For Socks and Jimmy, nothing in particular, just the odd random, stupid thing.  Artemis is continually freaked out by the manure pile though.

          46. Trail riding or ring work?
          Overall I prefer trail riding but I also enjoy ring work

          47. Indoor or Outdoor arena?
          I'd rather ride in the outdoor but I refuse to board any place that doesn't have a heated indoor, it's too cold to ride in winter otherwise.

          48. Colorful or plain saddle pads?
          I like some designs, not crazy amounts though

          49. Do you like horses with blue eyes?
          Yes

          50. Have you ever gotten into a fight with your trainer?
          I've never had a trainer

          51. Light bay or Dark bay horses?
          Light

          52. What is your equestrian dream?
           To continue enjoying horses and having fun with them, no matter what else happens

          53. Long mane or Pulled mane?
          Long
          54. Opinion on fake tails?
          I'm not a fan of them

          55. Least favorite thing about your barn?
          I don't live there

          56. Favorite thing about your barn?
          The owners

          57. Have you ever ridden a stallion?
          Yes

          58. Socks or no socks on a horse?
          I'm partial to socks

          59. Favorite horse names?
           I don't have any

          60. If you could ride any horse in the world, which one would it be? Why?
          Martha, Lindsay Sear's horse, because she's one of the greatest barrel racers

          Saturday, 27 April 2013

          Happy Birthday Artemis!


          Happy second Birthday Artemis!  It was her birthday on Thursday (25th) and like last year, we decided to be crazy horse people and celebrate it.  We mostly have fun being silly about it and my poor pony has to suffer our torture. 

          I still can't believe it's been two years.  I feel like I've had her forever but at the same time, it feels like she was a bratty little weanling just yesterday.  I told her she was an adult now so she couldn't be silly and scared of stupid things.  Apparently she took my words to heart.

          I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but there's a creek that runs through her pasture.  Usually it goes underneath the road but recently E has had to do some landscaping because of some flooding.  So he's torn up the road and made the creek impossible to cross.  However, just for us, he put in a little bridge.  It's not very wide, but it's sturdy enough to carry a person and a horse.  The first time we were going to catch Artemis since he put it in was on her birthday.  I wasn't really sure how she was going to react since most horses don't tend to like bridges.

          I have to say, she surprised me.  I led her up to it (she was a little unnerved by the construction, but there are two massive dirt hills were there used to be nothing) and she paused briefly to smell it.  After a second she started to follow me across.  E covered the bridge in dirt to make it less scary, but it was soft so she sunk a bit.  She didn't like that so she trotted the last few steps across it and then stopped.  I was impressed she didn't fight going across it at all.

          Next we brought her up and cleaned her up.  I'd promised L, the stable owners' daughter, that this was the one day she could braid Artemis' mane and tail (I'm not a big fan of horse's with braids) so she got to work.  She put a running braid into Artemis' mane and a fishtail into her tail.  It looked nice, even my braid-hating self had to admit. 

          Since last year she wore a birthday crown, this year we got her a birthday tiara.  She hated it.  It fit between her ears and she kept shaking her head and knocking it off.  We managed to get a few pictures before we stopped torturing her.


          She looked ridiculous, it was great.  Then L instructed me in making Artemis a "cake".  It was made into her bucket and had a handful of treats on the bottom, a layer of sweet feed, a layer of our other feed pellets, and then another layer of sweet feed.  On top was another handful of treats.  L was very proud of it.  As much as Artemis enjoyed it, she did not get to eat it all, I didn't want her to get sick.  So her mother got to finish it.

          That was all the birthday celebrations for Artemis.  We put her back out into the pasture.  She couldn't figure out how to get back across the creek but I have a video of that I'll post another time.

          I'm very excited that she's two now.  Once I'm up to it (arm-wise) her work load will increase a little.  She'll learn how to lunge, get more saddle training in (on the ground) among other things.  I have no immediate plans to ride her.  I want to try and get as much done on the ground as I can first, and I think I have to build my confidence back up a bit as well.  For now her life will stay the same, hanging out in the pasture with her buddies.  I'll ride her when I ride her, we still have a lot to do before that point.

          Oh and at two years old, she stands at 14.3 hands.  I was really hoping she'd hit 15 hands for her birthday but she just didn't make it. 

          Sunday, 31 March 2013

          I Can Be Stupid Sometimes

          Sev, Jimmy and Socks about a month after we bought Jimmy and Sev.

          It's been almost a year now since I broke my arm and for the most part, I think I've adapted fairly well.  My left arm is so much stronger than it's ever been before.  Except for writing or drawing, I use it for everything.  I don't even think about using my right arm anymore. 

          When it comes to the horses, I do everything on their right side now (my left side).  As everybody knows, the left side of the horse is the traditional side to do everything on, but that would mean I'd be doing most of the leading and such with my right hand, which I can't do.  Luckily, our three guys couldn't care what side you did anything on so it hasn't been a big change for them.  I do sometimes give our stable owner a heart attack when I help bring horses in and I lead them on the right side, not all of them are so good with that haha. 

          Socks and Jimmy are great about me being injured, maybe they realize I'm not 100% but they go pretty easy on me.  Artemis does not.  If anything, she takes advantage of the fact that I can't do everything I used to.  I'm still her primary handler, my mom has taken over riding the big guys, so that leaves her with little time to work with Artemis.  Since I can still do some groundwork, I usually work with her while my mom rides.

          Lately, Artemis has been getting worse and worse.  It started innocently enough.  I brought her into the arena one night when three people were riding and one guy was waiting around to lunge.  I'm trying to expose her to all the craziness of the arena as much as I can, so hopefully when she's ridden in there, it won't be scary.  Well it was pretty crazy that night.

          There was one horse who's extremely strong when he jumps, so his owner was working on that.  The other horse that was jumping decided there was no way she was going over another jump and would throw a little bucking fit when her owner tried to make her.  K was riding Jimmy (who was the calmest one, it still weirds me out) and then the horse waiting to lunge was waiting patiently with his owner.

          In short, there was  alot going on and it was not, at all, a calming environment.  The second we walked in the arena Artemis' ears went up, her eyes went white and her mind went blank.  I was completely forgotten and she was focused entirely on the other horses.  Then when they began acting up, she protested by rearing up.  When that didn't get anything for her, she tried running in circles around me.  I did calm her down, although she did have a few more outbursts while they were getting the one horse to go over the jumps again.  We ended the day calm though.

          Well next time I brought her in the arena, she immediatly went to rear up.  She didn't actually, she gives lots of warning so I stopped her before she did.  I wasn't really impressed, but we moved on.

          So comes Friday.  One other person was in the arena riding.  It was calm, there was nothing going on.  I brought Artemis in and immediatly she went to rear.  I smacked her with the lead rope but it didn't really do much.  Then we started working.  One of my methods is that when they misbehave, they back up.  I find they usually pay better attention after I make them back up a ways and it also helps improve their backing up skills.  It's getting two birds with one stone really.  Well Miss Artemis decided that she'd back up if she had her back to the other horse, but if she was looking at him, she did everything she could to squirm away from me.  And there was nothng I could do.  I had to hold her with my left hand and my right hand was useless. 

          I brought her out of the arena and grabbed my dressage whip.  I planned on using it as an extenision of my arm.  We came back in the arena and immediatly she reared up.  I smacked her hard on the shoulder with the dressage whip and her attitude changed immediatly. (When I say hard,  I mean hard enough she got the point, definitly not anywhere near hard enough to hurt her).  She went "Oh wait a second, you are serious".  We went back to work at the mounting block and when she misbehaved, she had to back up.  Like before, she tried to get around me.  I was able to use the whip as a block, to keep her from getting over and then she had to back up.  It took two times before she realized she wasn't going to win.  In all, it took about ten minutes for her to start acting like a perfect angel.

          For my sake, I probably should have stopped there.  I however, wanted to push her.  So we left the arena and went outside.  I wanted her to learn that it's not just in the arena she has to behave.  It took a little longer, about a good twenty minutes before she was being perfect again.  Again, I used the whip as a block. 

          We would walk up the driveway and I'd stop, with no warning.  She is supposed to stop the second I do.  If she doesn't, she has to back up so she's a step behind me.  This shows if she's paying attention to me or not.  If she is paying attention, she stops when I do and usually backs up a step on her own.  If she's not, well, she tries to keep going.  She also kept trying to get on the other side of me.  So I took the dressage whip and held it so the long, whip part was coming out behind me.  Everytime she tried to duck over, the whip was there and she had to come back to where she was supposed to be.

          We walked everywhere over the farm.  All up the driveway (we had a problem when she caught sight of the neighbours on a quad but she did rememeber that she has to pay attention no matter what is out there).  We went through the mud (rubber boots are the best invention every) nearly went swimming in one of the massive puddles, and she was fine for it all.  The only problem we had was when we went on the grass behind the arena and the princess decided she was going to eat.  When I didn't let her she threatened to rear up so she got another smack.  We didn't have any problems after that. 

          We ended it after that, and it was a very good day for Artemis.  I think she needed it badly.  It was not, however, good for me.   My arm is still recovering.  It only took an hour after we left for the pain to really set in.  We were supposed to go out today but we're going to try to give me a few days to get the pain back under control before we go again. 

          I think it was worth it though.  She changed her attitude pretty quickly, although we'll see next time if it stuck.  And I had fun going on a walk with her.  She's like her mom about things, it doesn't matter where I take her (three feet of mud comes ot mind) she'll follow me anywhere. 

          That's all from me for now.  After writing this I have to go rest my arm some more.  Happy Easter everyone!

          Tuesday, 19 March 2013

          Pictures

          I'm still too sore to type a lot, so have a small update and then some pictures.  The horses are pretty good, there's a nasty cold that's going through the barn.  Artemis has it but seems to be doing better now.  Her issue is the other pasture horses have been using her as their kleenix and she's a little...disgusting...right now.  The first warm day we get, she's getting a bath.

          Socks and Jimmy are good, they have a lot of time off except for when K rides them.  Socks is in a snaffle for now because K does a lot of direct reining with her, and her usual bit, a curb bit, isn't the greatest for direct reining.  And since Socks goes fine in either bit, we figured it wouldn't hurt to switch for a while.

          I'm too sore to do much, but I made sure I got to hang out with the horses a lot the day before my surgery.  I took my camera out so enjoy some of the pictures!

           











          I hope you guys are all warmer than we are!

          Monday, 4 March 2013

          Bleh, Winter.

          I figured I should get in one last post before my surgery on Wednesday and I can't type for a while.  For the past few weeks I've been out at the stable almost every second day it feels like.  I've been trying to get in as much riding as I could because I'm not sure when I'll be able to get back on.

          To make it easier, I'll split this post by horse.

          Jimmy

          I've ridden Jimmy twice in the past few weeks.  I really should have ridden him more and I have no good reason for not riding him, other than I just honestly prefer riding Socks.  It's bad, I know. 

          He's had a lot of time off since my mom fell off.  She hurt her back and hasn't been able to ride much. 

          He was...difficult...during our rides but he always started listening by the end of them.  I ask for more from him than my mom does and he doesn't always like that.  A big thing we were working on was that I choose the speed we go at, not him.  He has a bad habit of the second he gets to trot or lope, he tries to go as fast as he possibly can.  I spent a good hour and a half working on him trotting at a nice, slow, steady speed I chose.  (Of course he wasn't trotting straight for the whole ride, that would have killed the poor boy).  It wasn't perfect at the end of the ride but he was doing much better.

          Socks


          Here, finally a picture of Socks in her blanket.  Her very dirty blanket.  You have to love Alberta weather, last week was so warm, the snow was all melting and the stable was one big mudpit.  A day later, we were all buried underneath a massive blanket of snow.  Lovely.


          Socks has been great lately.  Her and I haven't been doing much other than getting on and messing around in the arena.  The more exciting news is that K has ridden her a few times for me.  She offered to ride Socks for me while I'm recovering (which is great, seriously, I can't describe how grateful I am).  I love when someone else rides my horse because I think it's great for Socks.  There's a lot I don't know that other riders can help us with.  It's still strange watching someone else ride my horse though.

          Artemis

          Okay, I've been slacking off in this department majorly.  I haven't done any real work with her in a while.  Just the usual leading, barn manners and that stuff.  She's had it pretty easy for a while now.  And she'll keep having it easy for a while longer.  I don't think she minds too much, she still comes in at least once a week. 

          The horses' had their feet done last week and, surprisingly, she was the best behaved of the three of them.  She's usually pretty good but tends to get impatient by the time her feet are almost done.  Not this time, she stood quietly the entire time.

          One more inch and she'll be fifteen hands.  I keep hoping she'll reach it by her birthday at the end of April. 


          That's all from me.  I'll be back, eventually. 

          Monday, 11 February 2013

          Artemis Updates


          Guess what I finally did!  Take pictures!  Guess what this is not!  One of those pictures.  No seriously, I took pictures but they all turned out horrible and blurry.  Luckily I had some older pictures on my camera and they were better.  She looks basically like this but a little taller. 

          Okay, so onto what she's been doing lately.  She's been a busy pony.  She is completely used to the saddle now.  That wasn't hard to do, she gets it put on about once a month, sometimes a little more, to get her used to it.  Then we set her and Jimmy loose in the arena and let them run around and have fun.  She stayed calm since she wasn't alone but she got used to the stirrups banging around her sides and the feeling of the saddle through her different gaits.  The only problem we have now is she keeps trying to eat the saddle.


          This is an old picture (you can tell by the halters, her current one is silver) from one of her pony lessons.  It's not her favourite thing, she's kind of lazy and would like to mosey along but that's the only problem she has with it.  She acts like a proper riding horse, just minus the rider of course.

          We work at the mounting block at lot, getting her used to both standing next to it, and having someone stand on it.  I usually keep the lead rope over her neck and lean over and just stay there for as long as I want.  She's usually pretty good, although she does have her distracted days. 

          She has even managed to carry me a few steps.  I haven't sat in the saddle, but I've leaned over her, both with the saddle on and when she's bareback (I'd like her to be used to both from the start).  I was leaning over her back and my mom led her a few steps.  She was much better than I could have hoped.  I could feel she was tense and she wasn't sure about it but she never went to buck or run, she just followed behind my mom.  Even when I'd jump off she'd just stop and stand.

          We did get a reaction out of her one night.  I was working on getting her used to pressure in the stirrups.  The weight on one side throws her off, so she tends to sidestep away from it.  There was another girl riding in the arena and she was great.  She was very concerned about spooking Artemis but I told her not to worry about us.  I want Artemis to get used to having other horses in the arena and the best way to do that is for the riders to do what they would normally do.

          The girl was behind us in the arena, and I had just put all my weight in the stirrup when she asked her horse to canter.  The combination freaked Artemis and she bolted forward and I jumped off.  The girl felt really bad but I couldn't have been happier.  Does that make me crazy?  It just meant we had to try again, and we did.  The girl cantered some more, I put my weight in the stirrup and Artemis didn't move.  It wasn't scary anymore.  I'd rather her have more of these moments when I'm on the ground then when I'm eventually in the saddle.

          We've also worked a lot with the stool.  The first time I get on her will probably be in the round pen so I'll be using the stool to get on her.  It's great to get her used to the mounting block, but it's pointless if I don't get used to the stool as well.  The stool was...tough.  She wasn't really afraid of it, but she didn't like it.  She would not stand next to it for anything in the world.  She'd sidestep away if I brought her up to it, and if I brought it over to her she'd try to trot away. 

          So I figured, if she's afraid of it on the ground, why not put it on her back?  Yeah, I'm weird, I know.  But my logic is if she can get over it being on her back, then it won't be so scary on the ground.  It worked.  She went into circles when I first put it on but she stopped quickly and just stood there.  After that she didn't move when I put her beside it on the ground.  With that problem solved, she then decided she didn't like me to stand on it.  That was easy enough to solve though.  All I did was grab a brush, stand on it and groom her.  She'll now stand beside it, no problem at all.

          I also did the same thing with the chair.  They have these metal wire chairs at the stable that are pretty light.  I had dragged one into the arena the other day while my sister and her friend rode, and Artemis was obsessed with it.  She thought it was the greatest toy in the world and kept trying to lick and chew it.  So I decided since she loved it so much we could use it to be productive.  Since it's so light, I was able to pick it up and rub it all over her.  Over her shoulders, her back, her tail. 

          She didn't like that at first but it made me realize something.  Like usually I just had the lead rope tossed over her neck and I had two hands on the chair, so she was technically free.  She was going in circles around me and it occurred to me that she wasn't trying to get away.  She could have easily ran off across the arena but even though she didn't like the chair, she had no inclination to run away.  At least ,that's what I hope it was.  Maybe she thought I was holding onto her so that's why she didn't try.  Anyway, it only took a few minutes and then she was fine with the chair.

          I think that's everything she's been doing.  Besides the normal lessons anyway, such as leading and feet.  Keep in mind, all of this has been spread over months, since before Christmas.  Her work schedule is light.  She'll have to work for maybe ten, fifteen minutes and then she has the next week off.  She only gets "tougher work" (getting saddle, working with the mounting block) at most, twice a month.  Every other time she just comes in, gets groomed and cleaned up, maybe walks around the arena a bit.  She only ever comes in on Sundays, because it's too dark to find her in the pasture by the time we get there on weeknights.  Also, any serious work I do, or any work where I'm standing above her, I always wear my helmet.  She's very calm for her age...but I'm not that stupid.


          Also, we've come to the conclusion that her snip looks like a stroller.


          She could have gotten so many cool things...and she got a stroller...Oh well, I still think she's adorable.

          And now to finally end this long post.  So thanks if you're still with me and read through the whole thing.  I don't know how much more horse things I'll have to report in another month.  I have a third surgery coming up at the beginning of March.  This surgery is just on my wrist and I'm not sure how long I'll be out of commission for.  The recovery time is six months but I'm hoping that I can return to riding before that.