Thursday, December 3, 2015

1.01 miles! I couldn't stay away....

I knew that I was going to deal with some crazy critters yesterday and that if I wanted to hop on bareback, I needed to let everyone get their wiggles out. The day was warmer than it had been, but was still only in the low 40s. I can deal with those temperatures!

The donkeys immediately took off tearing around the arena, bucking and leaping. They were having a grand ol' time. Gwyn was a little more sedate, but had a few moments. She had less wiggles, I guess, lol. All the better for me!

Gwyn wiggles

Spelled wrong, but it was a gift from a friend so I didn't say anything and accepted graciously because I'd always wanted bridle tags.

Screw the doctors. I had a 30 minute dead man switch worked out with Eric. If I didn't check in within 30 minutes of telling him I had gotten on, he was to call in the cavalry. 

I... don't know why they are doing this. Saffron is the one mounting Arwen. They're both jennies so I don't know if it's a dominance thing. I'm still researching.

Arwen is sweet, but we need to work on leading and picking our feet up.

Today while I cleaned up poop, Gwyn hung out with me. She left me alone as soon as I threw a few flakes of hay into the pasture, hahaha. 

"Hi, feed me. My pasture is barren. I'm starving"

"I'll eat the camera"

I've gotten fed up with making multiple trips with a muck bucket I can lift, so now I get all the poop in one go and shovel it into my dumpster. I think it goes faster. Plus upper arm workout!

Monday, November 23, 2015

October 14, 2015 Video Blog 3

This video was all about ground driving!

I'm over a month late at this point, I know, I know. But eh. Things didn't work as well as I hoped, but I also didn't have as much time as I wanted to work with Gwyn. We have all winter though, so I did try and not rush myself or expect too much.

I'm researching an economical harness so we can make use of the new snow that is gracing the farm and I can teach Gwyn to pull something.  Because sitting in a sled behind her would TOTALLY still count for the distance derby. :D :D :D 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Video Blog 2 - October 13 2015

I finally got some time at my computer to work on video editing. I have 2 more videos currently to edit and upload but this is progress!

This was our first adventure out on the trail walking in hand and I am super pleased with how everything went. It was a nice day for a walk and we got 3.31 miles in with more mileage on the out loop since I was hoping to find a cut through first and didn't wander so much coming back to the trailer.

I added some picture stills at the end of the video and will likely also upload them into the blog for better viewing as well.

What will hopefully become the cut through trail to the Polly Ann. I am doubtful of its horse friendliness...

Sniffing poop

Much better bridges for horses

Nice fall colors

On our way back

Not at all concerned with halloween decorations

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Oak Leaf Run Endurance Ride

You may recall I had plans to ride at Oak Leaf Run before the whole blood clot fiasco. Since I'd already made reservations for my campsite, I decided to go anyway, sans horse (though I wish I brought Gwyn just for the camping experience if I had the containment already, I've since ordered an EZ Picket system). The ride manager is a member of the Distance Derby so I let her know I'd be there and I was an enthusiastic volunteer.

Eric took Friday off, which was my birthday. I spent the morning with family packing and hoping the rain would stop. I drove out to Silver Creek Park in the afternoon with a packed truck. The location of the ride was about 2.5 hours from me, straight west across Michigan, just south of Grand Rapids. I stopped for gas and food but otherwise drove straight through.  After getting off the highway I was driving through grid farmland until I hit the park area where there were more trees. I also lost all of my signal for my phone, so I was truly off grid. It was a nice way to spend the weekend completely unplugged, though it did make for a slightly anxious husband... oops.

New camping set up since my camping trends in Michigan so far are April and October.... The pickup bed tent worked out PERECTLY.  Seriously. I nailed the cushioning and warmth needed for sleeping and didn't wake up cold at all. However I did forget firewood, which was my one regret.

Vet Mary warms up by the fire we had running all weekend at vet check and ride management central.

Endurance 50s coming back in for their first hold. It was too dark to get good pictures of them leaving.

CTR hold area. There were two different areas to keep the riders for each separated. I thought it was smart for a dual sanctioned ride!

30s getting ready to leave.

And they're off!

Mary doing a check. She was at Brighton in April so there were several people I knew already. I immediately felt welcomed back. This endurance/ctr crowd is like one big family more than happy to add to their numbers. Feels good, yo

Sunday Distance Derby riders Carrie (L) and Heather (R). Heather is the DD organizer and founder. They are both awesome and fun. We spent hours chatting Saturday night around a campfire. Heather camped next to me and we made a glowstick path back to my camp that was free of trees, rocks and roots. 

They went on a trail ride Sunday that wasn't part of the organized ride.

Well marked signage! 

A line of trees marked where pulses were taken!

All in all it was a great weekend. I acted as timer both days and was thanked copiously. I understand all too well the struggle to find volunteers and I'm glad I was still able to participate in the weekend event even if I couldn't ride myself. I did have to deliver the news to Lisa, who organizes Brighton, that I would not be able to attend next year due to that being my due date/month!  I think she forgives me ;) 

The drive back Sunday was quick with lots of sunshine and no crowds on the highways. I'm looking forward to returning next year!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Video Blog 1 October 1 2015

I've decided to start keeping video track of the groundwork that I do with Gwyn. I'm hoping it will be a good video reminder of where we came from for comparisons.

In this session I started with just basic groundwork principles and getting Gwyn to focus on me even though her buddies were away and somewhat out of sight. She was not happy at first, but eventually I started to be the focus and that's what I was aiming for! So I saw progress. This is a good opportunity for me to address holes in her training and work on them from the ground.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

New Goals

My riding plans for the rest of this year and the first third of next year have been curtailed. Due to being on blood thinners now for the duration of my pregnancy, I am forbidden from riding Gwyn. This may or may  not work, I expect a bareback ride here or there on property, but my trail riding days are at an end until the baby arrives.

I don't want Gwyn to languish for the next 30 weeks, however, so I want to have a plan in place to work toward so I keep her engaged and keep her skills present and sharp. I see no reason why I can't ground drive her. The big danger is me falling and bleeding internally. If Gwyn is an idiot, I can release the lines and let her get over herself while I stay safe.

Things I want to work on through the winter with Gwyn:

  • Going on walks
    • I think I'm going to try handwalking her on the pollyann trail. That way we're still getting off property. 
  • Being tied on a high line
    • For camping purposes
  • Ground driving
    • Maybe this will work out some of our steer issues that we have, or at least allow continuous work
    • I've purchased driving lines and I already have a surcingle, so as soon as those arrive we can get started
  • Pulling small loads around
    • Earn her keep using the arena drag, dragging pastures too
    • Obvious snow fun on skis or sleds (for the following winter.... >.>) 
    • work up to driving training
  • Tricks - Useful or Fun
    • lay down 
    • smile 
    • bow
    • line up with a mounting block
    • pick things up
    • ground tie
    • pick feet up with a point
    • lower head on cue
    • Painting

Two rides!

I got two rides in the past week.  I'm logging them here to have record. The first was a bareback ride around the arena, it was short and sweet and then I rode into the lower front pasture to change things up. We practiced walking through the wet part of the pasture.

1.01 miles

The second ride I used my saddle and the new jumps! Kaylee was in the arena too and she was my not so helpful jump crew, lol. 

1.53 miles

Sunday, September 13, 2015

October Birthday Plan

I had settled on riding the color ride, local to me on the Polly Ann trail October 10, the day after my birthday.

But I just made reservations for a campsite at Oak Leaf Run 2.5 hours away for that weekend, Friday to Sunday. I'll need to talk to Eric about it the morning, but oh man... oh boy.

I need to teach Gwyn to high line.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

LIebster Award Blog Hop

I was nominated by Grace over at The Horseback Artist. Woohoo! Now, I am significantly delayed in writing this, but I blame being sick and also not ever going downstairs to use my computer. As it is, this is being written over several days.

There are rules....

The Liebster Award Rules
  1. Notify all nominees via social media/blogs
  2. Link back to the person who nominated you
  3. Answer the questions given to you by the nominator
  4. Nominate up to 11 other bloggers with less than 200 followers
  5. Create 11 questions for the nominees

The questions posed to me were this:Questions for my nominees: 
1. Why do you blog?
I blog because I like having a written account of things that I do in my life. I use this blog in particular to track the progress I make riding Gwyn and share that progress with a social network of people I'm 'competing' against for a Distance Derby.

2. What is your most popular blog post?
My most popular blog post (with the most pageviews, at least) is the August post where I catalogued every nearby place to ride. It is a handy list!

3. Which is your favorite blog post?  
My last ride in Washington. It was an amazing day and one that I will remember and treasure forever.

4. Which bloggers have you met IRL?
If we include Livejournal, which I think it totally legitimate given that I crosspost things from here to there, I have met several people from the likely now defunct LJ equestrian community. Some of them have moved on from LJ and I've forgotten their usernames, but I'll just list 'em.  Lindsay, Jean, and Cheri.  Cheri was Florida (and who I got Gwyn from), Jean was Washington (and an excellent bodyworker!), and Lindsay is Michigan. 

5. Describe your horse(s)/pet(s) using one image or gif.

6. What is your riding discipline and why did you choose it? 
I suppose right now I'm just a pleasure rider. I'm not actively competing in anything, or even training with anyone. I'm enjoying my dabbling in endurance. I feel it's something I can do on my own without relying on a professional in order to succeed. Broadly I ride english. Broadly. Ultimately I want to get back into eventing. I loved doing it as a kid and I'm working on meeting specific goals that will let me compete again. 

7. What is the most expensive horse-related item you have ever bought?
Probably my Thorowgood saddle. I had a saddle fitter personalize the fit and it was purchased new. At just over $1000 it's the most expensive item. The most I have ever paid for a horsey -thing-, however, was the shipping to move Gwyn from Florida to Washington. That was a little over $2000. The move to Michigan was cheaper at $1400. 

8. What is one tack/horse-related item on your wish list? 
A safety vest! I need to lose weight first, for this, but it's one of the necessary items I'll need if I want to even school for cross country and 3 day eventing. I'm not sure which kind I want, likely tipperary, I'm not sure I want the air canister ones that inflate because knowing me I'd forget when I go to dismount and I'd inflate it every time. 

9.  What is your favorite riding memory?
Riding in my first endurance ride in Spokane, WA. It was exactly a year ago, at this point, that I went to the Mount Spokane Endurance Ride and did the 15 mile trail ride Saturday and decided to do the LD on Sunday. It was an amazing experiene, even if I had my period for the ride, which was a major suck. But I completed! And Gwyn did it too and it was amazing! We were riding on the side of a mountain the whole time and the views were spectacular

10. What is your scariest riding memory?
I was pregnant with Kaylee at the time and took Gwyn out on the pipeline trail that my barn at the time was on. It was a gorgeous winter day, the kind where everyone and their mom gets outside because it's a sunny day and a break from the rain. We were out alone, though there were people on the trail everywhere and Gwyn got overstimulated (my theory) and lost it. She bolted for home and was uncontrollable. I could steer, barely, and we topped out at 19 mph (I had my gps running) I had visions of us hitting muddy patches and her breaking a leg or of us crossing an upcoming road and just getting killed by a car.   
I finally got her under control and slowed down, but not after flying by people on bikes, walkers and baby strollers, shouting that I had no control. We crossed the road safely, thank FSM, but then she spooked again at the top of a steep hill. I got off at that point and just lost it, yelling and crying at her. I sent her backwards and everytime she got 'up' I sent her backwards again. I kept yelling, "I AM SCARIER THAN ANYTHING ELSE OUT HERE." 
I didn't ride alone while pregnant after that again. I would not get on unless there was someone else on the ground who knew I was riding. Ever since then I have major anxiety about even cantering in open areas. It takes a lot for me, though Gwyn has improved significantly and we haven't had a repeat, but it's stayed with me.
11. Share one of your riding goals. 
I mentioned it above, but I want to get back into eventing.  I don't care about competition level, I just want to get back into it, even if I never go bigger than Beginner Novice. Just like I'm pretty content to stick doing LDs in endurance!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Huron River Endurance Ride - Novice 13.66 miles

Despite a niggling throat itch that was requiring frequent coughing, I got up early Saturday morning to load Gwyn up and head over to Kensington Metropark. It's about 1hr 15 away so it isn't a place I've been able to explore yet, though I was aware that it had a great network of trails.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Addison Oaks County Park Ride

Today, by stark contrast to my ride on Tuesday, was absolutely glorious!  The deer flies were minimal, I saw about 10 and we didn't have a swarm following us whereever we went.  The trails were groomed to perfection, nothing was below face height and the paths, even the more 'wild' ones were wide enough for at least 2 horses side by side.

Additionally, despite the park having multi-use trails, mountain bikes never shared an equestrian trail. They crossed paths multiple times, but no sharing. I can't tell you how safe and happy that made me feel.

Anyway, today I almost didn't go. I woke up and everything looked wet outside. Then I checked the weather, and while the forecast listed cloudy and cool (mid 60s F), rain wasn't even being considered until the afternoon.

So Gwyn got loaded up and we repeated the routine, dropping Kaylee off, practicing grocery shopping, then drove over to the park. It was a little bit further away from gymnastics, but only about a 20 minute drive (max).

The parking lot was completely empty! I was super excited. Of course they also have camping here so there could be campers using the trails, but this was 9 am on a weekday, unlikely, lol

Gwyn was concerned about our location. Golf carts of park staff were going by regularly. When I went to put on her bridle she 'took off' toward a bunch of facility staff in a VERY up walk. It felt like she was evaluating for spooking, but never actually spooked. I eventually got her bridle on in the middle of that parking lot and took her back, very embarrassed.

The park has this gorgeous facility for rental for weddings and other events. It's well taken care off.

Everything is nicely marked too! You know if your trail is a horse or bike trail.

I got a water bottle holder and tried it out today. More on that later. I did keep my park map, camera, phone and a small pair of clippers in case I came across face level branches that needed trimming.

The trail started out with a low grade climb. It was PERFECT to make Gwyn walk up. She was huffing by the end. We need to do this more!

Once we got past the scary pavement, she settled into a very forward working walk, loose rein, happy ears.

Occasional hay field. At the time my thought was, I wonder if I can ride in that for some cantering?

What I think these pictures don't accurately capture is how -pretty- it was this morning. Everything was still wet from the rain, but it wasn't humid. The wood was dark, nearly black, while the green was super vibrant. It was magical.

Half wet, half dry

Pond just off the path

Then we got to this field. And the path went ALL THE WAY AROUND IT!  WOOOO!  We totally cantered.

At one point the field dipped down and came back up. We cantered down and I guess Gwyn felt really good because I felt her hind end come up a bit. Nothing unsettling, I laughed at her, but she had to get a wiggle out!

Heading back to the trailer. I'll mention here that she was great on the trail, and has been great on all the trails. But crossing black pavement was almost too much for the Goober Pony. It was the ONE spot we had a discussion about going forward. She did go, but it took a bit....

I can see the trailer! And my mounting block boulder, lol

When I got off and looked at my gear I was horrified to realize that I was literally 3 threads away from losing my phone, camera and super nice Fiskars trimmers. WTH TOUGH-1?!?!?!?!?!   Not really living up to your name. Now I need to figure out a different way to attach it for my ride saturday if I want to use it. Grrrr. The company WILL hear about this because that's ridiculous. One use and it falls apart? 

See? Held on by THREADS ALONE

Loaded up while I went to pee since we had a lot of time before we needed to leave. But better that than to be late.

My bumper stickers for the trailer. I need more.