Friday 28 May 2021

Small Milestones: Grown Up Bridle

 In addition to our first dressage test, we had another milestone this weekend as well!

Up to this point I have bridled Naia over her rope halter, both to keep her in control while bridling, and so that I can more seamlessly switch between ground work with halter and riding. It has also been a security feature where I know that if my ride gets hairy I can hop off and clip a lunge line on the halter to work through whatever (we don't lunge off a bridle yet).

In order to make the bridle and halter fit together less awkwardly, I have kept the noseband completely off my bridle. However, as what would be show season begins, I wanted to start her wearing a bridle normally so that we won't get disqualified if we do try baby classes at a show.

After multiple calm rides and good progress with bridling I finally bridled her up without the halter and reinstalled my noseband. She looks pretty grown up now! 

Wednesday 26 May 2021

Uphill For Now

On Sunday I sticked Naia again. 

When I got Naia in February of 2020 (age 4), she measured around 14.3hh. I say about because she was wiggly enough that it was really hard to get a solid measurement 

In June 2020 (still 4), she measured 15.0hh at the withers and 15.0hh at the hip. 

2020.06.05 - On this day I was freaking out about how butt-high she looked but this is when I sticked her and she was a little butt high but both measurements rounded to 15.0hh

2020.09.26 - I was really happy with how she looked here

2020.11.22 - more butt high looking again


Between then and now she has measured higher at the hip a few times (which I checked periodically but didn't document well because I was pretending it wasn't happening). However on Sunday (age 5) she measured just a hair under 15.1hh at the withers, and 15.0hh + 1/2 inch at the hip. It might not last but for right now I own an uphill horse! 

2021.05.23 - Okay, not a good confo pic but she was done standing after I sticked her so this was the best I got

To provide some context, a major reason I bought Naia is because I really liked her conformation and I thought that because she looked like a mature 4 year old, what I saw at time of purchase is what I was going to get. (I definitely don't believe conformation is everything, but since my budget was low, a lot of horses I saw had fairly serious conformational faults, and I was looking for a dressage prospect, Naia's conformation stood out to me in a good way). Then after purchase I found some photos showing that her sire is pretty downhill and so when her hip started growing while her withers stayed down, I was a little worried. I still honestly don't know what her final height or conformation is going to be, she may pop a withers yet, or she may not. Either way I think she is a pretty well built horse and between that and her mind, she has the ability to work well in multiple disciplines, but I'm still crossing my fingers that she stays uphill! 

Monday 24 May 2021

First Dressage Test (Just At Home)

First of all, as you may have noticed, this is actually my 4th post in the last week or so, almost like a roll! I really want to thank Jen at CobJockey because this post of hers really came at a great time. I have lots of stories and media of Naia and I have wanted to share them and wanted to get back into the blog game, but there is still so much to catch up on that I was struggling on where to start and the mental energy to catalogue it all. Jen's post let me give myself permission to start with just short posts with fun media. I still plan to take the time to write out more detailed training summaries of what we did to get from our starting point (4 year old mare that had lots of handling and good experiences with humans, but not a lot of formal training, and unstarted under saddle), to now. But those posts do take time and energy and if I wait to get those completed before posting again I probably wouldn't post again because time keeps going forward so there would just keep being more to add, and I would never catch up. Instead I am going to try and blog each week about what we are doing these days, and I will do throw back posts when I have time to fill in all the missing time in this blog. 

This was less than half the total snow we got at the end of last week, it just kept falling

So, without further ado, back to this weekend. The weather was absolutely crap this May Long Weekend (snow plus rain), but I logged a lot of hours at the barn and had a really good ride each day. 

Muddy paddock after the snow melted and before the rain

Since I was supposed to hold a dressage show this weekend but had to cancel due to COVID, my barn decided that we would set up the dressage court in the indoor arena instead so people could practice test riding on their own. On Saturday (Ride #20) I ran through my first ever dressage test with Naia! We ran through Intro A, which is a very very basic test, but it still counts! For a baby horse I was pretty impressed that I was able to do all the figures and correct gaits with Naia and it felt pretty cool to ride down centerline and salute, even with no judge in sight! 

Parking in the dressage court before our ride

On Saturday she also got some practice at parking at the side of the ring while other riders took their turn to practice their tests. This is such a good skill for actual showing so it was cool to practice it at our home arena. We practice "park" quite a bit in our ground work, since she needs it sometimes to chill out her busy brain, but we haven't done enough of it under saddle so I was pleasantly surprised at how willing she was to stand with a draped rein while other horses worked. 

Sunday. This also is the most social life I have had in months! 

On Sunday we again ran through Intro A but first, before taking turns riding tests, we had to contend with a busy warmup-esque ring. I generally ride late at night to avoid people due to COVID times, but a bunch of us ended up coming out to ride at the same time on Sunday afternoon. There were 5 or 6 horses in the arena at one point which is more people than I have ever ridden Naia with at the same time. Our barn doesn't have a lot of boarders these days so this is the busiest it will likely ever be. In addition to the busy arena, there was a downpour of rain pounding on the arena roof, and some kids running around the upstairs short-term rental apartment beside the arena, so all in all it was a fair bit of commotion. Naia was surprisingly chill and we were able to steer, change speed, and park as needed. In hindsight she was maybe a little too unreactive, as at one point she decided she was just done trotting and stopped dead, requiring me pony kicking her to get in motion again, but I was still super impressed with her. 

This is what counts as a very busy arena around here!

Friday 21 May 2021

Ticked Off

So a few days ago I removed the first tick off of Naia. It was right in the hollow under her jaw. I am familiar with ticks from pulling them off myself (only once, and an experience I would rather not repeat), and dogs, but this is actually the first time I have had to remove one from a horse. Ticks exist in the area but my barns have never had many around since they are surrounded by cultivated land. I know that it is important to pull them off nice and slowly to make sure you get the whole thing, and to inspect it afterwards to identify and make sure all limbs and head accounted for, but holy crap, those things give me the heebie jeebies! The whole time I am slowly handling it my brain is internally screaming "get it off, get it off, get it off!". (So don't worry, no gross photos of the actual tick, I was not holding that thing longer than I had to!)
Bump left from tick

I looked up the stats from the Alberta tick monitoring program and the chance of the tick carrying Lyme disease is very small but not non-existent. I don't think it was a black legged tick but I am not positive and I didn't have anything on me to put the tick in to send off for testing. Ever since I've been super paranoid. Every time that Naia moves a back leg slowly I worry that she is developing neurological symptoms.
Despite my paranoia she seems to be moving just fine

After finding the one tick I have been much more diligent about checking her over for any others. The experience has highlighted to me that I need to stop putting off desensitizing Naia to me handling her teats. I've worked with other mares before to make sure they were comfortable up there for me to check for ticks and remove dirt and dead skin, but it always makes me a bit anxious until I know they are comfortable with it. I've only just started pushing that boundary with Naia now. 

How about you? Do you have to deal with ticks where you live?

Wednesday 19 May 2021

Wordless Wednesday: First Outdoors Ride

On May 1st was Naia's 1st ride ever outside, and 19th ride ever total. We just ended up walking but considering that there was a storm blowing in with wind and rain, flags flapping, and other horses in the vicinity being silly I was super super impressed with Naia!

Tuesday 18 May 2021

Late to the COVID Party

You guys, Alberta is not doing okay with COVID. We currently have one of the highest rates of COVID-19 in all of North America. It is seriously jarring to me to see some of your posts where you are horse showing and having actual unmasked interaction with people because that is not the situation here.
I started this post a couple weeks ago when things looked even worse. Thankfully the additional "Stop the Spike" measures seem to be helping drive our cases down a bit, and every week more people get vaccinated, but things are still bad. I feel like in early days the pandemic united a lot of people but things seem more divided than ever right now when it comes to pandemic and political opinions. I cannot even get into that. While I have been dealing with the pandemic since spring 2020 like most of the rest of the world, in many ways right now I feel like I am late to the party in experiencing what many of you experienced a long long time ago: First, I am only now working from home indefinitely for the first time in the pandemic. A lot of employees at my company were sent home last spring but I was in the middle of managing a construction project where we had half dismantled a critical structure in order to rebuild it and so it was not safe to suspend work at that time. That meant that while I worked from home on certain days, every week I was physically on site all through Spring 2020. In the summer and fall of 2020 cases were lower and it was the busy time for our site so it was all hands on deck physically. Over the winter we did a rotation where I was physically in the office every 2nd or 3rd week and home the other weeks. Just two weeks ago the call was made to send us home until further notice.
At least I did pick up a nice antique desk and massive monitor to use at home last year Second, while showing is resuming for many of you after a missed season last year, I was able to hold my 2020 local dressage show (at the time there were only 10 active cases in my community and we had a lot of protective measures in place), but I had to cancel my show that was supposed to happen this coming weekend. This year I had planned on two shows so I still hold out some hope that the August dates will be a go.
Current guidance for competitions right now, though exceptions can be applied for I know that I have been very fortunate to keep seeing my horse throughout the pandemic but I am struggling with motivation with no lessons, clinics or shows on the horizon. In the meantime I will enjoy the show vicariously through your blogs! (And I would like to state again for the record, that even though I am a terribly infrequent blogger and commenter myself, I still really really appreciate those of you keeping this blogging thing alive, I do regularly read and enjoy all the blogs on my sidebar so thank you)
Luckily my last lesson for the foreseeable future was a really good one!