Monday, November 28, 2016

Bow Knows... No Bows? Bows.

Bows.  Not happy, pretty bows that you put on a fluffy, girly dog.  No.  Rotten bows.  Bows that happen on horrible footing to previously clean, tight legs on my favorite horse in this province. 

That's right.  Jose has a bowed tendon. 

The worst part is, I didn't even see it!

Jose came in last week with uneven swelling on 3 legs.  I bandaged him, buted him for a couple days, and kept him on stall rest.  A couple of bandage changes and some hosing later, I pulled his wraps and felt no swelling on any legs, everything nice and tight.  My dearest husband was with me and I'm grateful for his keen eyes. He kept telling me there was still "swelling" on one front leg.  But I couldn't feel anything.  He pointed at it.  I was down at his legs in the stall and couldn't see what he was looking at.  Finally, I stood up and walked out of the stall and looked at him from a distance.  There it was, plain as day, a tendon bow. 

Ugh, I died a little.  I know it's not life ending and fortunately not career ending for him because he's not a show horse, but it's not a fun injury to deal with and certainly it could render him unfit for riding in the future.  No, we don't "show" but we have a lot of adventures and he's my Mr. Reliable.  Not being able to take him for rides again is a horrible, daunting thought! 

I left the wraps off overnight so I could see what was really going on.  The next morning, yup... there it is.  Swelling around and definite tendinitis...  So, back to aggressive treatment right away. Cold hosing, bute, borrowed some BOT wraps today from my incredible friend and got Jose his early Christmas presents with some ice wraps and lik-it boredom breakers.  Two days later, the swelling has reduced remarkably and he's continued to be weightbearing without hesitation.  Small blessings!!!  I'm so fortunate to have a veterinarian who allows me to pick her head for anything I might have overlooked or not considered.  Sweats, cold treatment, bute and something new, Sinew-X supplement. 

There's still definitely thickening back there, but I'm THRILLED with the response it's given already.

I'm also so thankful for all the support at the garrison saddle club.  Many more hands to help keep his water bucket full and his hay net loaded.  It's a beautiful thing to have a group work together. 

Send lots of happy thoughts Jose's way please!!!  <3  So we can join you in your Happy Horseing!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Back Up and Running!!!

After contacting every single internet provider for a rural community, we're finally up with "LTE" service.  I say "LTE" not LTE because so far we've had a few experiences with no service or painfully slow service.  Regardless, it's more than before and we're back in business!!

So what's new? 

Belle is unfortunately not pregnant.  I was so sad to hear that my good friend, who had borrowed her to breed to a retiring stallion - same sire to her first heart horse, is not in fact in foal but had a very minor infection in her uterus.  My heart is broken that she won't have a wee one in the spring.  Most unfortunately, that is the nature of breeding. 
Positive note, the vets don't expect the infection to have any lasting results as it was caught early and was fairly localized and she should not have any issues conceiving and carrying a pregnancy again in the future.  So, we're planning to try standing her to Ritchie in the spring. 

Thursday and Billy are growing very well!  It's so fun to discover with the youngsters - their first snow fall, exploring a new paddock.  Chai will be 18 months on the 29th of November.  She's already so tall that I have to stand up on my toes to try to get my arm over her back!  Sensible though, oh good grief is she a good kid!  I can't wait until the fall to bring her to the garrison saddle club and have more opportunity to play with her!

Baby racehorse was all sorts of amazing!  #horsewithnohashtag

This is not a trail ride.
If you know me at all, and realistically, if you're reading this blog you must be one of my close friends, you know that there are some things that I do NOT do on horseback.  One of those things is jump.  That's dangerous and scary.  The other is "trail ride".  Again, not safe.  Too many variables and opportunity for accident.  However, I have some pretty incredible friends and they are much braver than I am.  Upon an invite from my dear friend who was taking her brand new baby racehorse #horsewithnohashtag, out to Blackfoot grazing area, we tagged along with another friend and his super-easy quarter horse.  Jose was a rockstar!  We climbed hills - which we've never done together, and he stayed with me the whole way, all perfect!  Not sure I'd be in a big hurry to do that one again, but it was not horrible in the end. 

If he isn't the best boy ever, I'm not sure who is!
Ali was sure to give Jose a good brushing when we returned home. 

Happy Horseing! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Quiet Season

This time of year is almost always very quiet in the dog grooming side of the world.  As such, it turned out that I had no dogs on my book today so I get an extra-extra long weekend!  Again, I'm hanging out at a Tim Horton's for their free Wifi (thank you) as explornet has assured Anthony that it will be another two weeks before they can activate our access but they fully intend to continue collecting money from the account... Oops, that's another blog post for another blog altogether! 

Carrying on!

I like this time of year.  We go so hard consistently from April right through to fall it's nice to have things get quiet again and relax a bit.  I still do a couple of first-aid clinics in the winter, I don't mind that - rather enjoy it really, but no trick-horse clinics in the winter.  It's not worth the risks of trying to haul JJ around on questionable roads. 

Really, I'm so damn lucky!

I also try to spend more time with the foals since they've been weaned.  Most of the herd is disbursed.  I feel much less anxious now that they're all in their new homes with their new people and settled.  Little Thursday and Billy are still hanging out at the farm with Old Man Bucky, the nanny.  He's so good with them for the first few months of weaning but eventually he gets sick of their neediness and wants out!  That's alright though, there's always others to put in...

Her ears... she's growing into them super well, but I loooved them!
I think I'll head to the barn and spend some quality time with the JJ boy before I pick up Ali from daycare.  Just hang out and maybe go for a ride if someone's around.  No stress, just enjoyment.

Happy Horseing!

Friday, October 7, 2016


Hello my faithful readers... both of you ;-) 
It's been far too long without regular internet connection and I am behind on my blogging!  Today, I sit in a Tim Horton's Restaurant because free wifi is a god send when you need to update and the data on your phone is already through the roof on your shared plan (thanks hunny.) 

Now then, what's news? 
In September I took a vacation.  A much-needed vacation, to CUBA!!!  One of my favorite places on the planet (that I've encountered thus far) to go.  The big part of this is that I did it without Anthony. 
The salon I'm now working part-time at actually shut down for a full week and we all took off to the Caribbean!  I booked my trip to Cuba, the owner booked to Jamaica and our other coworker said she was going to Mexico with her family.  However, after spending about 4 days working together, she decided it would likely be far more fun to head to Cuba with me!  So we did. 
It was a blast. So relaxing, so fun.  I met so many wonderful people.  Many English peoples and French-Canadians down there as well.  I swam with a dolphin, I rode the double-decker bus throughout Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo, I swam in the ocean off one of the world's top 10 beaches (it was seriously incredible!!!)  Best part, I saw many of the wonderful faces I'd met at the Tryp resort two years previously and napped every single day! 
Coming home to real life was kind of depressing, except for the smiling face of my Ali girl! 

That's me in the hat!

Jose and I recently did another trip to Beaumont to play on the cross country grounds.  It was so much fun.  As soon as I unloaded him, he knew where he was and was absolutely fantastic to ride.  We schooled some obstacles, small logs, the ditches, up and down banks and through the water.  We had such a great time and, this time, I wasn't the one needing the babysitter!  Definitely something to do again next season.

Last year's picture...

Belle has been bred to Arab stallion Akadamy for a 2017 foal.  Fingers crossed that she caught as it's Akadamy's last year standing open to the public. 

Ritchie is doing splendidly.  Unfortunately Jessica suffered a significant setback as soon as she and Ritchie started off together!!!!  A kick to the temple (not by my horses!!!) has rendered her unable to ride for the last 6+ weeks.  Fortunately she had no fractures, but has had some "shifts" intracranially causing vision, speech and auditory issues.  That being said, she is being managed by a concussion specialist and is seeing rapid and regular improvement! Yay!!!  She tells me that she's been working with Ritchie regularly on the ground, long lining and lunging, and has begun the process of teaching piaffe!  No doubt all the trick training has come in handy as apparently he's picked up the basic concept right away!  What a superstar!!  So, happy thoughts for continued headlining and a speedy return to the tack for Jessica. 

Boy they look good together!

I had a wonderful trick-clinic last weekend at HighThorn.  One of the smaller groups I've had, but all very successful.  I met one gelding, a little Paint, who did literally everything.  I've never met one so game to do it all!  Lay down, no problem, bow, play dead, smile, stand on the box, heck mounting block!  No problem!  It was so much fun to work with him and his owner.  Interesting part of their story is that he is 5 years old.  She is his 4th owner and has only had him for the last year!  Although an incredibly engaging horse, no doubt if he was in a home without clear focus and direction, he would quickly become challenging and dangerous!  There is such a fine line...  Fortunately he's got a very capable home and a bright future!! 

So that's it in a nut shell.  Ponies, happy things, ponies... yay! 

It's been such a cool year of so many new experiences, I just can't wait to see what 2017 has in store! 

In the mean time, happy horseing! 

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Stars Align Again!!

I'm so fortunate for all of the opportunities in my life.  And they just keep coming!  Now, my Ritchie boy has found himself an ambitious rider with visions of taking him through his PSG and maybe beyond!!!

Selling Princess (Leia Organa SE - now Ella) brought me a new connection, and a new good friend!  Jessica D is an FEI rider from British Columbia who has had some really neat adventures and riding opportunities herself.  From spending time in Europe at a jumper training barn to working with Steffen Peters (Yes, that's 2016 US Olympic Bronze Medalist in dressage!!!)  this lady is as lovely a rider as she is a human! 

When she came to pick up her Ella filly, we spent some time with the Ritchie boy too because, well really, who wouldn't want to?!!!  We chatted about getting him through the PSG with good scores to do his upgrade to stud book 1 with the RPSI.  Jessica made me an open offer to take him through the levels. 

The reality of my life as a mom, a business owner and clinician and working a part-time job while my husband works away, is that there isn't much time or money left over for the dedicated training for not only the horse, but myself as a rider to get there.  The appeal of Jessica's offer grew and grew until we finally made an agreement, found a reputable and trustworthy hauler and made it happen!  Ritchie has relocated to Chilliwack, BC! 

His trip went super well.  I packed him and his kit up and took him down to Olds to overnight with the hauler the afternoon before the trip.  I was sent updates that he was relaxed, eating and having no issues with the new barn and surroundings.  He loaded into the trailer and hauled like a champ getting a stop to offload and stretch his legs half way through.  The only part he didn't like was the tunnels.  Personally, I can't blame him at all for that!  I wouldn't be to crazy about driving through a mountain either!!!

He landed in the evening with Jessica and settled in like he'd been there all his life.  Loads of updated from both the hauler and Jess and I was a much less-anxious mom than I could have been! 

After a day off to settle and have a royal spa treatment, she started Ritchie back to work gently with lunging and today, his first ride back! 

And all went very well!  This begins a very exciting new adventure for the Ritchie boy!  I'm so grateful for Jessica's skill, enthusiasm and knowledge.  I just wish I could be there to see it all!!

I've said it the whole way along and I'll continue to say it as long as I have this horse: It takes a whole team to do this.  I am only one small part.  From his sire's owner, the vets, the verband, the trainers, clinicians, instructors, friends, show committees, it takes the involvement of so many people to make this horse successful.  This is one more step in his story. 

The other really good news is that he will be available for breeding in 2017 via AI (fresh cooled) from a vet in BC! 

The sky is no limit.  What a great new adventure!

Happy Horseing!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

To Brooks, Ho!!

Never, not in a million years, as a young equine enthusiast, could I have dreamed that I would end up performing with a Mongolian Hoard at a Medieval Fair in southern Alberta...  could it get more random?

Well, truly, random kind of suits me to a tea really.  So I supposed in the long run, it really does fit me.  In any fact, it was an absolute riot performing to THOUSANDS of medieval enthusiasts with the Khanate of Himorii troop and my best boy, Jose Jalapeno.

There were a wonderful troop of Japanese drummers, fire breathers, costumes and costumes galore, knights in armour (some shiny, some not so much...) gladiators, Mongols, Victorians, vendors, peddlers, and very excited children.  Every hour I sat for a few minutes and just thought how crazy this whole experience was!  And oh so cool! 

We did 5 performances total, 3 on Saturday and 2 on Sunday.  Performance 1 on Saturday was a bit rough.  I'd pulled him out while the drummers were performing and he was not nearly as focused as I'd like him to be when we work.  But I knew better for the second round and he was quite brilliant.  We talked with the crowd a lot about Standardbreds, what they are, how to recognize them, how many of them are around and how we've grown together.  Apparently a lot of the jousting horses (yes, real jousting!) are rescues so that played in well.  His third performance was lack luster as he was quite finished but we'd brought out his beautiful barding, put him in it, got up on him and called it enough.  Unfortunately our demo area was a small, ropped-off round ring on the grass.  Not much space to actually move in.

Sunday rained and cleared, rained and cleared... but we did get the opportunity for a fantastic photo opp.  I'm waiting for the photographer's images to come back, but this is a cell-phone shot of the "drunken Mongols" inclusive of their trusty mount...  He was incredible for this shot, it was tough and he did great!  There were at least 3 photographers clicking away while we were down there.  It will be interesting to see where those images end up. 

In any regard, it was an incredible opportunity and we're looking forward to going again next year - despite the 6-hour drive!  We'll get time in the big arena and put on a better show. 

Happy Horseing! 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

This Made Me SO Happy!

I have some incredible friends.  Truly, I am blessed and fortunate to have several incredible friends, many of whom are also involved in this crazy equine business.  Today, I had the delightful good fortune to put one of my favorite couples and one of my most brilliant foals together. 

Let me back up and give you some input.  I'd had super-high recommendations for Sawatzky Equine Services when I was looking to have Ritchie started under saddle.  That's where my relationship with Roland and Cindy started.  Roland enjoyed the Ritchie boy almost as much as I do, so much so that he took him for a year on lease from me.  During that time, they bred Cindy's eventing mare to him.  Most unfortunately the mare was not able to catch and carry and the prognosis is very dim for her being able to catch and carry without a very high cost and still a high risk. 

While Ritchie was with them, I had them stand a mare for me.  Lilyana (Lana) has a nearly invisible heat.  Truly, I'd never seen her covered when she conceived Princess.  On an incredible read and sensitivity, Roland selected the right day and the mare was covered, ONCE!  11 months later, there was Lirio. 

It seems so incredibly fitting that this magical filly be part of the Sawatzky family.  I'm thrilled that we were able to make it happen and I'm so excited about what the future has in store for all of them and their "Rio" filly. 

Unlike Princess's departure, Rio was a little less amiable and a lot more muddy!  Despite that, it seems that she and her dam have settled in well at their new home (until weaning anyways, then Lana heads to Calgary!)  I'm sure I'm the most excited of everyone about this new partnership.  It takes a few years before they're ready to really go out and DO things now...

Mud and all, they took Rio home!
My sincere congratulations, best wishes and thanks to Sawatzky Equine Services on their new acquisition of Lirio SE. 

Happy Horseing! 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Can it Always be That Fun?!!!

Yesterday Princess met her new mom.  It was one of those pairings that you always hope for.  Princess took to Jessica like a duck to water.  She followed her, stayed with her, felt totally relaxed with her, just perfect! 
I've been so proud of that filly since the word go, but watching her with someone brand new, behaving like the little all-star I know her to be, was totally heartwarming!  From coming up to us in the pasture with the other horses and being haltered by Jessica, coming out of the pasture and seeing a brand-new trailer that wasn't like anything she'd been in before, getting boots put on all four legs (and the chicken walk that comes with it!) to getting on the trailer with Jessica without hesitation.  Everything worked, perfectly. 

In addition to the filly being brilliant with her new mom, it just so happens that Jessica (and brother/travel companion Jeremy) were fantastic company!  I mean really, anyone who brings wine to my house is going to be in my good books, but bring me two bottles and fantastic conversation, and you'll have a welcome home for eternity! 

I got this mom, no problem!
Our travelers got a very early start this morning and I only heard the door to the house close so I didn't get up to see them out.  I think it's a good thing.  I'm feeling all misty inside with my little girl heading hours and hours away to a home in another province.  I know she'll do well and adjust without issue.  She has a very caring human who will, no doubt, take exceptional care of her.  It has been a delight working with Jessica and we've both been so excited to make this happen. 

My sincere congratulations and best wishes on a very exciting future! 

Happy Horseing!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Good Luck Princess!!!

When the stars align, incredible things happen. For Princess, a whole new chapter and adventure begins on what should become a thrilling career with a new, loving human to call her own.

After having a lot of intermittent empty interest, I'm so happy to announce that our "Princess" Leia Organa SE has found a wonderful home with an FEI-level dressage rider out of BC.  Not only has this lady been an absolute treat to work with, she's also spent several months in the US as a working student with US Olympic Dressage Rider, Steffen Peters! 
When buying a horse, especially in a "sight unseen" manner (physically not there to evaluate the animal) there should be an abundance of questions asked about the horse, the parentage and the history.  I really enjoyed all of the questions that Princess's new owner asked.  All pertinent.  I always want to make sure my clients are happy with their purchases and the matches as well made.  When it all works out together, buying/selling a horse can, believe it or not, actually be FUN!  New mom said to me "If this sale was any easier, we could have both done this in our sleep!"  I couldn't have articulated my feelings better than those words also! 

So our girl will be off to bigger and better things within the next week.  I'm so excited for her to go and yet I will miss her.  I know she'll be wonderful; I know she'll make us all proud! 

I hope her little sister has as much good fortune in finding a loving home! 

Happy horseing!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Clinics Come and Go

You know what's difficult in this genre?  Getting people the service they want. 

A couple of months ago I looked at my calendar.  2 free weekends between then and mid September!  And more people contacting me daily to ask about booking more and more clinics.  I'd love to help, but there has to be a bit of time for me in between, so I turned people away. 

Then, a week ahead of time, one clinic cancelled.  It was a distance away and I had a time booking dates with them.  They decided they couldn't make the minimum and had to cancel. 

This morning, another clinic from out of town - one of the first to book this season, cancelled.  Not enough commitment. 

That's 2 weekends I could have had open to give to another group who was interested and committed that I had to send away.

That's another show or three that I can't send my horse to, and a conference I can't attend, because the income is now not going to be there to provide for it. 

The horse industry is a really tough one, no matter how you slice it.  It's incredibly competitive and impossible to please everyone.  When you have a unique service, you try to help as many people as possible.  Unfortunately people have wonderful intention but often situations come up where life happens, someone is sick, a horse is lame, just crappy timing.  So, instead, you start charging nonrefundable deposits to cover yourself.  And people take offense. 

Round and round it goes.  It's very disheartening.  It's frustrating.  But that's the name of the game.  Throw in the towel or keep trying.  What I've learned from all of it is to simply redirect and keep moving forward.

Happy Horseing. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Beaumont Parade

As much as I can, I'm trying to do new things. 

My silly Standardbred is wonderful.  But he will never be a dressage horse.  I'm ok with that, all sorts of ok with that.  He's Mr. Dependable and I can do so many other things with him like schooling out cross country, going for a hack, hauling to a barn to work on trail obstacles, whatever! 

Last weekend was another new experience.  We rode in the Beaumont parade!  A friend of mine is organizing a fair that will adopt the Battle of the Breeds formerly run by Spruce Meadows.  Unfortunately I won't be able to be at the fair (Brooks that weekend) but I was able to join in the parade with Mr. Superpants! 

To say that it was a BIG environment would be a true understatement.  Poor fella was a little out of his skin starting out but, while waiting to start moving, I worked with him on the ground, like we always do.  He relaxed, I mounted up and off we went! 

In all fairness to my colour coordination, the fair's colours are purple and red so I was dressed perfectly. 

JJ was excited.  He doesn't love walking slowly in a crowded area but he did his utter best.  An extra ad-lib rear or two got a lot of response from the crowd but I decided that since it wasn't helping him relax, I would dismount and work with him on the ground instead.  Besides, we do a way better wave and Spanish walk in hand. 

The crowd gathered was approximated at over 4000 this year and JJ made himself memorable. 

Set up for a perfectly timed shot.  Yes, this was on purpose, I was cuing him from on the ground.

Good days.  Good times, good new adventures!

Happy horseing!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Picture Day!!

Everyone needs a friend with a really good camera and really good timing to go with it! 

Fortunately, I have a wonderful friend who is both excellent with timing and has a lovely camera.  She also has exceptional taste in friends and ponies hehe... 

First up are pictures of Lirio!  

Yes, she really is that nice.  Sorry Renate, well, not really sorry...  Just maybe you don't want to come out and meet her and find out she's just as sweet as she is pretty?? 

Next, little miss Niveus!  She's just learning to be brave and run around instead of sticking like glue to her mama all the time.  She really is lovely and she's getting stronger and filling out better every single day.  I'm hoping that her full-brother's mom will want this one as well.  Washington would sure have a pair of stunners!

Next up, Mr. Growing Up All Sorts of Wonderful, Billy (California Beach Boy).  He is so bold and friendly - an absolute character!  He and the fillies are just beginning to play now and it's such a riot to watch them.  I adore the personality and the upright nature on this colt.  So coo!

And what's a picture day without Ritchie?  Well, an incomplete one when he's on the property anyways.  He'd been in the breeding paddock for a month already and I pulled him out for these shots.  Now, at 6 years old, I couldn't be more delighted with the mature horse he's become.  

 One in a million doesn't even come close... By the way, I swear he's not THAT tall...  Or I'm not that short?  I'm 5'6".  His withers are at my head!  When did that happen?! 
Regardless, I love the championship and reserve championship ribbons and I'm glad to have had the opportunity to get them in a picture with him.  Good boy Itchy! 

Never dull.  Love them all.  Until next picture day....
Happy Horseing!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

EAADA Recap Windhaven Clinic

I’ve always been a dressage enthusiast but I came to the realization long ago that gold medals in Olympic rings was simply not going to be in my life path.  Certainly, I’ve had far more adventures and opportunities with my trick horses than I have in the 20 x 60 – and that’s wonderful in itself.  But when I received a text message from one of my favorite coaches and dressage riders, Sharon Merkle-Beattie, inquiring about hosting a Horseplay and Harmony trick-horse clinic at Windhaven, the word “nervous” wasn’t even close to describing the lump that made itself at home in the pit of my stomach!  However, I’m so glad I agreed and had a wonderful weekend with delightful ladies and their clever horses. 

What is dressage?  It comes from the French word for “training”.  Truly, it is the epitome of willingness and acceptance of the rider and working through their aids – in the tack.  I love trick-horse training because, for me, it extends and compliments the performance under saddle.  Trick-horse training allows the horse to engage, offer behavior, express themselves and willingly be a partner in training.  It also causes the human to be the leader and quickly makes itself evident when that is not the case.  Not unlike attending a dressage clinic, one needs to be ready to look in the mirror at themselves when entering the arena for a trick clinic. 

After the fact, Sharon tells me that she would have been happy for her gigantic, black, handsome gelding to stand on the box, but he certainly had more to give!  The horses and handlers started the first day off with engaging tricks like smile, touch a target and moved into obedience and movement tricks like standing on a box and waving.  We like to start with simple tricks so that the horses immediately gain a lot of reward and are encouraged to offer more and more effort. We taught wave, hugs, say “no”, and even had 3 talented geldings offer us gentle bows on their knees. 

Sharon and Donny demonstrating the pedestal
Teaching trick-horse clinics is a lot of work, but it’s one of the most rewarding ventures I’ve ever experienced.  To offer horses and their handlers a new level of communication, a foundation to build a more trusting and understanding relationship, never gets old!  The only thing that comes close, for me, is to add the experience of my equine first-aid certification clinics.  Life-saving information and knowing what to do when action and decisiveness matters most is invaluable! 

Are you interested in hosting or attending a clinic?  I travel!  Trick-Horse clinics are one or two days, equine first aid courses available for ages 5+, basic, advanced and disaster planning, between 1 and 3 days.

Friday, May 27, 2016


If you would have told me 5 years ago half the places I would go with my $400 Standardbred gelding, I would have called you a liar. 

I have a very soft spot in my heart for the military, specifically the Lord Strathcona's Horse Royal Canadian Mounted Troop.  If it wasn't for the mounted troop, I likely would not have met my partner in life, Anthony.  Jose has been living at the garrison saddle club for the last several months and today was the mounted troop's season opener ride and BBQ.  We were invited to attend the ride from the first-aid clinic I'd done previously for the troop.  I offered them a little pre-show entertainment for their amusement, and they accepted! 

Jose and I opened the show with some fun tricks, a bunch of laughs and a great experience!  The Brigadier General was in attendance and I know I saw a few smiles and laughs come from him.  More important than that, however, Anthony and Ali were there to watch us too! 

Ali enjoyed the ride, played on the tanks and the LAV, enjoyed her hot dog and got a brand new L over lazy S T-shirt. 

Jose in front of "Catherine" the Sherman tank (yes, she runs!)
A fantastic day and a wonderful experience.  Thank you to the LdSH SMT for having us participate today.  It was a thrill for sure! 

Happy Horseing (and tanking!!)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Ba Da Bing, Ba Da Boom!

I knew if I complained loud enough, I'd get some resolution.  It's always the squeaky wheel...

Tuesday morning, I put Ali on the bus and got in the truck to head in to work.  My phone rang, it was my mother at the farm doing morning feed chores.  "Lana's giving birth!  One foot is out!"  Roger, turned around and made it back home in time to change quickly and get out just as the nose appeared.  I broke open the sac and helped Lana deliver her lovely filly Lirio SE (Rio).
She's so lovely, quite stunning. 

Wednesday evening I noticed that Fancy had fully bagged up but I did not see any wax at all so I didn't think she was quite ready. 

This morning, I woke up and looked out the window at Fancy.  No baby.  She was aggitated, running back and forth at the gate between her and Lana's pen.  No one else outside looked upset at all.  What on earth was Fancy on about?  She needs to just have her baby...  baby...  um, uh oh!!!

Sure enough, I get out in my pajamas and rubber boots and, in the corner of Lana's pen all frightened and COVERED in mud, a filly.  Fancy had indeed had her foal but she'd delivered her at a bad angle right against the fence between her pen and Lana's and the poor thing slipped right under to the wrong side!  Lana had been across the pen in the corner when I'd found her but she likely would have been right there during the birth and rejected the foal. 

When Fancy saw me coming, she came running to me to help her.  I opened the gate, brought her through, caught the baby (who was NOT impressed with me manhandling her) and put them back on their own side of the fence.  Fancy wanted her baby right away but the poor filly didn't have any understanding who this big horse was and just tried to run away! 

With some help, we got filly and Fancy working together, nursing and finally bonding.  Before leaving for work (late) this morning, they looked to have everything under control. 

Filly's name is Niveus, named to accompany her full brother Ravan (L'Image SE) from the Winter Chronicals written by Ravan's owner, Sharon Cramer. 

 It looks like Ritchie really has a program with his foals.  If we want colts, we need to breed late as his only two colts (the first born) were foaled in late June and late July.  The May foals have all been fillies. 

So far, everyone is now happy and healthy with straight legs.  I will have to add "born on the right side of the fence" to my mantra for next time...

In the mean time, happy horseing!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Keeping me Waiting!

While Billy made his appearance early, the next in line, Fancy, seems intent of keeping me right on edge.  She's full, soft and ready to go, just no wax.  Her "official" due date (335 days) is My 20 - so only 2 days from now.  Lana looks at nearly the same place and her date is June 1.  Mares! 

I was looking at my calendar this morning.  Last night, one of my favorite coaches contacted me inquiring about hosting a trick-horse clinic at her facility, which is literally just down the road from home.  My calendar tells me that I have literally 2 open weekends between now and mid August!  Clinic season is rolling out hard!  Oh well, I'll rest when I'm dead.  :) 

It also tells me that the majority of my show season has officially wrapped up, unless we want to look at something in September?  Could happen.  Then again, I'd be pretty happy to take Jose out, adventure to Beaumont again, experience the Brooks' Medieval Fair and call it a year. 

I have been getting more and more attention on Princess.  Had the pleasure of meeting a LOVELY lady from Calgary.  They really seemed to be an ideal fit for each other - in my eyes.  However, nothing is certain until it's certain.  I'll just keep my fingers crossed that this wonderful home does, in fact, want to bring Princess Leia home. 

That's all the news for today, I'm afraid.  When we have more action, I will be back!  Threat/Promise, take it as you will.  In the mean time,
Happy Horseing!

Friday, May 6, 2016

All Hell for a Basement

That Big Sugar song "Heaven in Alberta" keeps playing in my head. 

The city that brought so many hard-working, honest people good jobs and steady income to provide for their families (including my own husband and so many friends) is a literal hell right now.  With over 101,000 hectares of land on fire and over 1600 buildings in the city damaged, so many have lost everything. 
When the fire was at 85,000 hectares, this is the area it would be consuming.  It's 101,000 hectares currently.

I've had the privilege of spending several weekends up north between "Tower Road" and "Clearwater" horse clubs.  I am very proud to call many horse owners there my friends.  On Tuesday, hell took over as a wild fire burned out of control.  Many friends had packed up some horses and moved them to where they thought they would be safe.  Some of them far away from Ft. McMurray, some of them in their own backyards.  The fire grew and came into town so fast, may never got the chance to get back to the horse clubs for the remainder of their horses before the highways were shut down.  Both horse clubs were fortunate to have a few members able to get in and open gates and let out the horses left behind.  In my mind, playing out that scenario, not being able to take all of my equine companions to safety, having to open the gates to my pregnant mares and my young foal and his mom, my yearlings, and wishing them the best of luck, it brings me to tears. 

From that point, the back-yard horses were stuck.  My one friend rode her horse and ponies the second throughout the night to get to safety.  I've seen viral pictures of more horses being ridden and led through the city or down the highway trying to keep safe and find a way out. 
Good Samaritans have stopped and put horses in trailers and brought them to safety.  Perfect strangers just ready to give a helping hand. 
Countless teams have collected donations of water and fuel and headed up the highway to help people stranded by the evacuation - run out of gas on the side of the road, nothing but the clothes on their backs.  Gas stations run out of fuel to sell... Dire situation. 

The fire is still raging on.

Help is coming in.  It is still such a dangerous situation, there's so many unknowns yet.  I understand the military has sent in some members who located a herd of 14 horses in Tower Rd.  It sounds like some are my good friends' boys.  Prayers that they are!  Many more left to be found.  I heard of 70+ horses who need to be evacuated from a property up there and moved into permanent homes.  I don't know if that's factual or not, but the numbers are staggering in a province that's tinder dry - no rain = no hay! 

Several groups are working to collect donations. The Red Cross has seen MILLIONS donated in just a few short days.  It's incredible to see the province, communities and people come together to help each other. 
A facebook group: Farms for Fort McMurray is working quickly to set up collection depots throughout Alberta for donations of feed, supplies and money for horses displaced.  They are working with the AEF and SPCA in their efforts.  The Edmonton Garrison has graciously opened the barn doors at the stables for horses displaced and to be a central collection location to warehouse and inventory donations and ready donations for distribution by AEF and SPCA. 
My roll?  What I do best.  I bring people together.  A notice comes to me that someone is looking to have a fleet of trailers ready to move in to bring a herd out - I have that contact information.  A notice comes in that there are tonnes of hay bales that need to be picked up and hauled to donation sites - I have that connection as well.  When horses come to the garrison barns, I will be there to assist hands on with first aid, identification and care of received horses. 
A portion of the proceeds of my upcoming first-aid clinics will go to purchasing of first-aid supplies for horses displaced by the fire. 

In July I will be taking my disaster preparedness training with Equi-Health Canada to help people prepare for the unknown.  This year it's a wildfire, but 3 years ago it was flooding.  Disasters come in many forms. 

Make a plan, be safe, hug your horses and loved ones.
Happy horseing.

Monday, May 2, 2016

And All the Pretty Ribbons

I've learned a lot from my boy.  I love him to the ends of the world and back; he's been a wonderful partner and teacher. 

This weekend I learned that I don't just have 1 horse in him and really, I shouldn't treat him like I do or expect him to be just the same horse all the time. 

Ponoka once again hosted the Silver Dressage Championships for the PAADA show series we've been attending this season.  I entered Ritchie and I in the first-level classes, a regular silver test and the same championship test each day, plus the freestyle on Saturday evening.  This weekend I had 3 distinct horses to ride.

Horse #1.  Yeehaw!  This horse came out a humpy backed and ready to rip.  This horse is the first horse I rode on Saturday (note, not the horse I rode in warmup on Friday evening...)  He was not interested in partnership, focus, or very much try.  I had a few crow hops, and no bend.  A very stiff horse and not at all a fun horse.  We rode, though, we got through that test and I didn't see horse #1 again that weekend.  (I didn't miss him either!)

Horse #2.  This is the horse I'm so proud to own.  I love this horse.  He lets me be the pilot, he bends, he works and he goes in that arena like he owns it.  This is the horse I had for my championship test on Saturday.  I liked that test much better.

Horse #3.  This is the spoiled little boy with a pout on.  After completing a dressage test, the ritual is always the same: go get checked out by the steward and get off, go to the barn.  After the championship test on Saturday, we were only a short time before being back in for the freestyle, so we stayed on and stayed in.  The steward saw him not just once, but TWICE and I still did not get off!  I had the gall to put him back to work!  Suddenly we had a right kick-out every canter depart to the left.  Made for a "dynamic" freestyle as he was quite certain I'd lost my mind when I put him back in the arena.  It was not a fun ride, he was not giving me anything extra.  But we got through, one more lesson learned. 

Sunday we had a little lunge and worked a nice warm up.  Horse #3 was back although not nearly as naughty.  The kick-out was back but it was less work to have him go.  The test was much more smooth with a pair of 7.5 (one for a coefficient!!) I took him back to the stall and left his saddle on, halter on but plenty of room to eat hay and drink.  An hour and a half later, I came back for him with only about 5 minutes before we went in for our test.  We walked and did one trot transition before going in for our test.  Guess which horse I had?  Horse #3!  He loved the test because he knew it well, he'd ridden it every time we'd been to Ponoka.  He felt confident and willing.

What am I most proud of?  The fact that I took my horse and rode every single test we'd entered. No matter the horse that came out, we went in the arena, rode the test and came back out in the right order.  That's the first time I'd done this solo without my friend and Ritchie's Aunty there to help my confidence.  I'd planned a coach to warm us up on Saturday and I'm so glad I had that foresight.  Beyond that, I did not engage if he tried to fight, I simply kept riding. When he cooperated, I praised him. It worked.  It worked a treat!  And, in the end? 

I did good, yes?
Another pair of first-place ribbons for his tests, Provincial Reserve Champion, Provincial Champion (freestlyle), Show Reserve Champion, and Series High-Point Champion. 

Ride the horse you have, ride forward and look up and happy horseing. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

When You're Right, You're Right!

She did. She waited until I was away.  Waxed up Friday afternoon and, by 9:00 am on Saturday morning, he was up and nursing. 

Welcome California Beach Boy (ES California Dreamin/Gazal Al Shaqab x Bluebell/Beach Boy) AKA "Billy". 
Although he's roughly 14 days early, everything is exactly where it should be. He's awake, moving well on his gigantic spider legs and has already learned people mom is excellent for bum rubs and scratches!  He is black - or the beautiful seal-brown colour of his sire, with about 4 white hairs on the offside of his forehead.  It will be really exciting to watch him strengthen and tighten and get control over all of those noodley appendages!  Mom's doing very well also.  She's protective - rightly so, but nurses him well and is very diligent. 

Happy baby Horseing!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Mane Event!

Hold onto your hats, it's going to be a great weekend!  We're off to the

Come by and see me at the Equi-Health Canada booth!  I'll be in the lecture hall on Friday morning from 11:45 - 12:45 giving a talk on equine first aid "For the Life and Love of the Horse".  The only place that's acceptable to be if you're not coming to see me is in the ring watching David Marcus teach.  I may be fan-girling on Thursday while he's teaching.  Just saying...

I didn't go to Mane Event last year.  First year in many that I hadn't been there.  Previously Jose and I have both attended to participate in breed demonstrations and also ride with clinicians.  I had the pleasure of riding with Olympian, Dr. Cesar Parra several years ago.  It's a fun environment, always something for everyone.

I'm thrilled to be representing Equi-Health Canada this year.  It's high time that Mane Event invited something ground level for the common horse person.  Something everyone needs to know.  Something I believe so deeply in!  I'll be geared up.  Likely you won't miss me as our CEO has asked me to dress to represent the English disciplines and has logo-ed up a number of clothing articles for me. 

Only downside, Belle's quite sure she wants to foal while I'm away.  Gigantic udder on her already.  If she gets any bigger, she'll burst!  Just no wax yet.  Yet...  Last year, the mares held off until I was out of town.  This year looks like the same thing.  Belle's at 323 days today, not DUE properly until May 7, but I don't think she's interested in our opinions... 

Happy Horseing! 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

I Love Ugly Baby Pictures!!

Some horses are naturally photogenic - like some people.  Every angle looks beautiful.  And then there's my horses (and me!) 

Working with my ugly mooseling (Chai) recently with clippers and snapped a winner of a picture!  I'm going to keep this for when she grows up into a beautiful girl! 

Now, in all fairness, mooseling has never really been overly photogenic...

Now in all fairness, her daddy went through an ugly phase too... 

Fortunately that was short lived <3  Hopefully Chai matures just as nicely. 

Happy Horseing (or mooseing.., whichever.)

Friday, April 8, 2016

Big Life Lessons

Do you know I hate trailering?  Being in a regular trailer makes me feel VERY claustrophobic.  That's the reason I bought my Boeckmann trailer.  I feel all sorts of safe while I'm in there with the horses.  Last night, the fillies got to learn about loading in my trailer.
Both Princess and Chai had been in the trailer with their moms last year, but haven't done it solo yet.  It's quite a different story, let me tell you! 

Both would confidently stand up front feet on the ramp, but they would get stuck there.  That's ok, we keep it positive and don't make a fight.  Certainly I don't want them to see the trailer and think BACKWARDS! 
So we discussed that going forward makes pressure stop.  This is a life skill!!!  Out in the open we asked for forward and released pressure when it was given.  We would stop, send off in opposite directions and remove pressure when they move forward.  It didn't take them long before they felt very comfortable that they knew the answer. 
Once again, we re-approached the ramp.  Both again confidently stepped front feet on the ramp.  Then I added pressure.  The thought for backwards came first, but they knew that wasn't the right answer.  One step at a time, both found bravery and climbed into the trailer all by themselves (well, with me) and found that the trailer has a bunch of cookies and rubs and one very happy mama!  After a quiet minute or two, we gently backed out of the trailer and went for a walk.  Once more time, back up to the trailer and this time each one was more confident and quicker to find the answer in the trailer.  We call that very good and put them away. 

So proud of my little girls.  "Little" girls...  growing up so fast!  I'm very proud of the brains and willingness to try they have.  They're going to be incredible!  - They already are <3

Chai did it!