Thursday, 29 December 2016

A kick-ass kind of Christmas

*Warning* Gross pictures. If you are squeamish, don't look!

I am not going to lie, 2016 has kicked my butt. However, I have maintained a level of (obliviously ignorant) optimism and still think 2017 is going to be all the best shit, farting rainbows the whole way through.

But 2016 was not done with me. One final kick at the cat, so to speak.

Christmas morning was glorious. Coffee full of Bailey's, kids excitedly opening presents and me opening the best present ever - a safety vest for eventing!! Best husband right there.

I had fed the horses triple amounts of hay bales the night before just to ensure I could do chores Christmas morning after present opening. I had chopped up huge piles of apples and carrots and had a three bags ready for three wonderful ponies Christmas morning, so once presents were done I headed out with their Christmas morning treats.

First came Meyla and Shiraz, happy to see me heading out to their paddock. But where was Savvy?

Then I saw her, head peeking out around the back of the shelter. I called her and she didn't move. I called again and shook the bag of treats and she finally started to move. As her neck was revealed I was horrified to see something red hanging from her neck.

FML. Sorry for grossness.

For those of you familiar with that moment of discovering your horse is injured, you know it. Feeling leaves your arms and legs. My brain went into assess mode. Vet or no vet level of injury? Once I realised the "hanging" red bit was just frozen bloodcycles and not something worse, I then looked to see what kind of wound I was dealing with. Honestly, I was expecting to see a chunk of neck ripped from a bite. Meyla is a tough pony and leads the group. Savvy always pushes her too far and makes Meyla put her in her place almost daily. I would not be surprised at a bad bite resulting.

But it wasn't a bite. To my utter shock and surprise, it was a perfect circle.

Time to call the vet. On Christmas morning. Let me tell you, that is not an easy call.

I am so lucky to have such a great vet. He came over right away and assessed the hole. Puncture wound versus gun shot. Luckily my vet is much smarter than me obviously, and knew it was a puncture wound because hair was scraped off at the site. Bullets can't do that. He inspected the depth (almost 2 inches!) and did not find any trapped objects. He said the puncture is very close to where her jugular vein runs so she is a very lucky horse to still be alive. She got a shot of pain meds and a huge shot of antibiotics.

I would later have a double shot of Creme de Cocao.

She will be on antibiotics for at least a week and a half, daily saline rinses and topicals. It needs to stay uncovered and draining. My biggest worry is the cold. I am worried about exposed tissues freezing and damaging the healing process, but since it needs to stay open to air, I really can only just wait and see how it does. Luckily I had no intension of riding in the next little while because winter is just too horrible this year. Fingers crossed this injury resolves well though.

Day 3 - before rinse out and topical meds.

I have triple-walked her paddock and still cannot find anything that could have done this. Only Wonder Pony knows.

Monday, 12 December 2016

ASSFS Blog Hop: Location, Location, Location.

As a person who does not get to travel very often, I love hearing about what life is like in other places, and especially what horse life is like. A Soft Spot For Stars has a blog hop that offers just that, so here is a look at life with horses in Manitoba for you! Enjoy!
I live on a small hobby farm just 20 minutes outside Manitoba's biggest city, Winnipeg. Our location is very convenient for us all; for hubby as he works in the city and for me as I am not too far from everything shopping related. We are also kind of half way between two worlds of horse people. Just 20 minutes to the east is everything English, plus the Birds Hill Equestrian Park (trail riding, dressage, eventing and hunter/jumper shows), and 20 minutes west is a more Western group/natural horsemanship/great small-town horse shows. 
My back yard - yup, hubby got himself a drone
A, B, C - Paddocks
D - Riding arena
E - Hay field
F - House
G - New tack shed/tack-up/hoof trimming area
H - Hay shed
J - Old tack shed, now cluttered feed and storage shed
Our farm is 37.5 acres and is mostly flat hay land. When we moved here, there was only the house and some fencing so we built a hay shed, shelters and tack/feed sheds.  We cut and bale our own hay which is a grass/alfalfa mix.
Costs of horse keeping in Manitoba:
Hoof trimming ranges from $30 to $40 dollars for a basic trim. I am not sure what shoes cost as I have never shod any of my horses.
Average monthly pasture board is anywhere from $180 for a place with no indoor arena, up to $300 for a place with indoor.
Boarding with boxstall is around $400 and up.


Most coaches in this area are charging $50 per lesson, but a small few are still at $40. If you are trailering in, there also may be an arena fee on top of that which is around $20.
It can be green here :) I miss it already...

Small squares are approximately $4.50 each for a 60-pound bale. Large squares (700 to 800 pounds) are $65 to $80 each and round bales can be anywhere from $40 to $100 depending on size and type of hay.
Summer here is far too short - spring can trickle on right until the end of May and then June, July and August are usually quite nice anywhere from 15 to 30 degrees Celsius. Winter is a long, hard struggle with snow usually beginning in November and getting as cold as -35 Celsius in January and February. We have even had a wind chill of -50 at those times, so crazy, painful cold.
Frustrating things about our area?
I do feel pretty lucky to be so close to a lot of great horse related things, but the most frustrating thing for me is the cost of participating in any English shows. Dressage shows are few and far between and cost hundreds of dollars to enter two tests, after stalling/temporary memberships and all show fees are added up. Hunter/Jumper shows require memberships (or temporary memberships purchased to attend any particular show) and are just as expensive as dressage.
On the up side, there are occasional schooling shows and small town shows that are affordable, so trying to get to as many of those as possible has been my goal so far, although next year I am hoping to get started in eventing which will be a major financial commitment because of all the memberships/user fees required.
That sums up horse life in Manitoba. I'd love to read about more places so I hope you join the hop!

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Holy Snow Balls!

Winter just came flying into town saying 'Yo, yo G, WASSUP?!'

Um, ugh. <face in hands>

Now it is above my knees in some spots out there and I am just loving trudging from the hay shed to the paddock with hay on the sled.

Meyla was born for this! (started growing her coat in August in preparation)
Ponies seem to be loving it though! They have been running, playing and rolling in the deep stuff and look pretty pleased to finally say goodbye to mud.

They are getting all-you-can-eat buffet of hay and extra treats to appease my guilty soul for owning horses in winter in Canada.

Water heater is working well and shelters are full of deep straw.

All the girls grew a pretty fluffy coat before this came. Not fun for riding but perfect for this weather.

I guess it is time to apply the heat gun to my cold, cold heart and break out the barnyard Christmas decorations!

Its about to get real up in here.

Anyone else deep in snow? How do you take care of your horses when the weather gets cold?

Friday, 18 November 2016

All the possibilities...

It has been three years since I brought home Shiraz! Starting with a baby is a long-term investment. So much is uncertain - what is this horse even going to look like grown up and what will their temperament be?

One of baby Shiraz's add pictures at 3 months of age.
In the fall of 2013, I brought home Shiraz, a 6-month-old thoroughbred/quarter horse/draft cross hand picked out of quite a large herd of babies. It was so hard to chose but the breeder did a fantastic job of listening to what I was looking for and steering me in the right direction in regards to temperament and potential.

Meeting her for the first time at the breeder's farm and sealing the deal!

Bringing home baby and settling her in to our little farm went smoothly. It was obvious immediately that she had a good mind and friendly personality. I set to work showing her the world, teaching manners and kept life safe and fun for her.

Fuzzy baby beast!
As a 1-year-old, training was kept short and simple with introduction of yielding, lunging and a saddle.

Once she was 2, I started getting on once in a while for short amounts of time, but mostly continued ground work. At this age Shiraz definitely started showing more spunk.

Testing out her wings.
This summer revealed quite a beautiful horse in the making. She finally reached 15 hands this spring and has continued growing.

Looking so grown up!
I am absolutely in love with her. Her personality is the best I have ever come across; laid back, smart and overflowing with a love for people.

First time out at an indoor arena - handling it like an old pro.
These past three years have been a struggle for my impatient side but we are finally here and it was so worth the wait!

My plans for 2017 with Shiraz includes starting lessons at a barn that is very well known for eventing...a new adventure is about to begin!

Monday, 7 November 2016


Unexpected trail rides!

We are knee deep into one of the most wonderful Novembers I can ever recall. It is made even more sweet by the fact that the past few weeks have been cold and rainy.

Saturday was just perfect! Not a bit of wind, sunny and warm. Who could resist some much needed horse time?

Shiraz has been in very casual training over this past summer. She is still actively growing so I am trying to resist too much riding time on her just yet. But, I really want to establish some solid basics into her right now because she has been litterally a sponge for learning and I do not want to 'miss the boat' so to speak. Holding off training for bones to finish growing is so important, but there is also a window of opportunity with a really young horse to set them up as solid citizens that I don't want to miss.

My arena was still too wet on Saturday to work in so I headed out the hay field with Shiraz. I did some lunge work and then enlisted my oldest son to lunge me while I worked on some trotting with her.

After that, I headed out with Shiraz for a mini trail ride in the field. She was so well behaved! I could feel her top line relax and her strides lengthen. At one point a rabbit jumped out of the grass about 50 feet away. We both flinched, but Shiraz recovered instantly and I could feel her back relax again in a couple of strides. I was so impressed with her for her first time being ridden out like that.

Later that evening I was sent a message that a group I was considering joining was meeting for a trail ride/pot luck in the park the next day. They are a drill team that travels to different events to perform. I was invited to join a few months back while my friend and I were at a social. There may have been too much alcohol involved. The next day I had received a text that I was now a part of the drill team...

I certainly didn't feel Savvy was prepared for a trail ride. One, she had not been ridden in a few weeks because of her abscess and then bad weather. Second, I have never taken her on a trail ride yet (besides my open hay field at home) and I was not sure how she would be.

After much support from many people telling me to go, I met up with the group at the park. Savvy was well behaved but a little perplexed as to where I had taken her.

We all saddled up and headed out to the trail. As we walked across the field with the other horses, Savvy was fabulous. Once we got to the start of the trail, however, Savvy's mind was officially blown. You see, we have no trees at home aside from one strip of wind break that is not part of Savvy's pasture. This was her first time stepping hoof into forest and lets just say she was overwhelmed! Everything was new to her from the leaves crunching under hooves to the branches reaching out on all sides, roots to step over and rocks thrown in as well simply to finish her off if she wasn't already sure to die.
Only have 'out in the open' pics because once we entered the forest I was too busy holding on for dear life.

The entire way she jigged, but not once did she spook which was encredible considering how scared she was. We made our way through the forest to the equestrian centre in the park and then used one of the out door arenas to practice the drill pattern. Once Savvy was 'safely' inside the arena she let out massive sighs and shook out all her tension. Now she slipped into lazy arena pony mode which I found hilarious and we set to trying to keep up with the group and learn the pattern.

Heading back to the trail after drill practice
We took the same trail back with mostly jigging again, but some moments of relaxing (becasue she was just so tired!) and made it safely back to the trailers for much deserved bevies and snacks.
Sweaty, itchy pony - deserving of many treats!

Cheers to beautiful fall days and ponies!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Schooling shows and broken bones

I'm not going to lie, its been a tough time lately but I have stayed positive and remained excited about my upcoming schooling show.

I had posted about getting kicked but I hadn't mentioned the bruise that showed up on my hand following the incident. I thought nothing of it because it was just a bruise. My hand must have gotten in the way at some point of Savvy's hoof connecting with my face, but it was fine.

Well, that is up until the lesson I was so proud of attending later that week. After riding that day, the bruise reappeared and so the next day I had a visit with my doctor, an x-ray and the diagnosis of two broken bones in my hand.

You would think that would be enough for me to cancel my show plans, but no, I still felt up to it with my hand brace on so was intent on going.

Savvy seriously had other plans. Yesterday, dear Savvy presented with hind leg held high, hobbling around in pain acting like she thought this might be the end for her.

I believed her until the vet showed up and found not broken bones, but a brewing abscess in her right hind foot.

Standing on offending foot the next morning, clearly not dying.

The same foot she had kicked me with.

Karma much my little wonder pony?

Needless to say, the schooling show is officially a no-go.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Bucking up buttercup

Following Sunday's accident, I really was not sure about how I would manage my Thursday lesson. We all know when something scary happens, the sooner we get back at it (whether that be driving after an accident, riding after a fall or trailer off-loading after getting kicked in the face) the better.

These things can wiggle their way into your subconscious and make easy stuff so, so hard.

So I set to planning (something I LOVE to do) and tried to create for myself a step-by-step plan for safety, just to get me through the worst of it which to me was the idea of heading back to the same place so soon in the same trailer with the same horse.

Standing still pre-lesson - too unsure to move

First I parked the truck and trailer in my barn yard and started ground work with Savvy in the arena, just to relax us both and make sure she was listening and yielding well in all directions. Then I moved to loading her in the trailer with the idea being that the trailer would be her rest place from working. She is really good about going in, but wants to come out immediately and fast. I would let her come out, but without hesitation, just send her right back in. We did this over and over until finally she was willingly starting to spend more time standing still on her own. At this point, I started to ask for a back-up cue. I decided to use pulling gently on her tail along with the verbal cue of 'back'. She really started to get the hang of it after many, many repetitions.

This was going very well so the next step was to close the door, give her a minute and then at a moment that she is behaving well, open the door, make her wait and then give the backup cue.

After two days (of many hours spent) on this, she still wasn't at a place in my mind I would call safe. Sure, she was doing all the things I asked but even after all of the practice, she was still acting fearful despite me remaining calm, methodical and rewarding her with tons of praise and cookies for her efforts. But it was progress.

By the middle of Wednesday I decided to remove the centre divider. I knew I was being quite stubborn in my head about not doing this earlier. I really wanted her to learn the straight load because I liked the peace of mind of her not being able to leap around when I am driving (like she used to do in my previous stock trailer).
I am glad I did. She was immediately much calmer. I could load her in, close the door and then go up to the front and safely tie her. I was able to walk away and let her stand in the trailer like this with no fuss. Then off-loading was easier because I could put her lead rope on and unhook her from the front tie, then she could turn around and I could get hold of her lead rope by opening the top half of the back door. Then I could open the door and easily make her stand quietly and not come out until I asked her.

With all our practicing I noticed the rubber floor mats that came with the trailer were actually slippery for Savvy. They had horizontal lines in the rubber, that although great for sweeping them clean, made it easy for her hooves to slide. So, I grabbed my large mat out of the tack shed which had tiny bumps instead of lines in the rubber and this stopped her sliding completely.

There was nothing else I could do to prepare, I just now had to do it.

It all went perfectly well! Savvy surprisingly travelled pretty quiet and off-loaded really well. Teaching her the wait after I opened the back door still worked even with the excitement of being somewhere unfamiliar.

And the lesson was a blast! We toodled all over the place and introduced her to jumps with flower baskets.  We 'jumped' (stepped over) cross rails and I was so pleased with Savvy's level-headedness throughout it all.

Standing still post-lesson - too tired to move!
When ever she was unsure, she would slow down or even stop and then step over despite my best pony club kicks. It was too funny to get frustrated. She was really trying and I know from our dressage work, when she is struggling mentally with a challenge she will slow down or stop. It wasn't about refusing; she just wasn't sure about jumping flowers. Once she learned she could safely step over, she really got into it and by the end, she actually tried to jump a little. Also, once coach moved the flowers away from the middle, Savvy really seemed to be much more forward and confident. I loved how we did because no matter how unsure Savvy was about something, she would really try to sort out how to do it and never felt scared or unsafe; just confused!

Living the big life over tiny sticks

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

No amount of careful

This post was supposed to be about my Thanksgiving Day adventure over to the large equestrian centre I was intending on introducing Savvy to.

Just this.

You see, I have actually entered a show October 22nd. I know right? I haven't done ANY shows this year. And it is not a dressage show--just a super fun little Halloween Hunter Jumper show and I was gonna toodle around the ground poles class and cross rails.

I put into place a plan to prepare for my toodle show; first take Savvy over to this venue on my own and introduce her to all the sights. Second, two lessons scheduled with one of the on-site coaches to have a chance to show Savvy the jumps that will be in the show. Great plan right?

Sunday morning I arrived with Savvy and left her in the trailer while I met with the owner and paid arena fees and asked some questions. When I got back, Savvy was a tad worked up. She wanted out. As the trailer is still new to us, I have put in a lot of work to get her loading safely. The unloading is still a work in progress. Even when she is not emotional, the off-load is a bit of a rushed shit show.

At this particular time, Savvy was in full emotional melt down. In hindsight, I should have waited it out. I should have hung out with her at her head and waited as long as it took for her to settle. But I didn't. I undid her from the trailer and put on her lead rope, and then proceeded to open the trailer, thinking I just need to let her out and all will be fine. Once I got the back door open, she shot out so fast I couldn't grab her lead rope. I panicked! My horse was spinning around on unfamiliar property, close to a highway and seconds from being a loose horse. It was right there--I missed it again and again, but finally felt my fingers around rope and then, boom.

First shock. Then blood. Then much more shock. I had just been kicked in the face.

With Savvy in tow, I walked slowly to the arena, holding one hand over my nose and mouth to try to stop the blood from getting too much on my jacket.  My mind was in slow motion. I was trying to formulate a plan, but beyond getting to the arena, I was not sure. The owner was walking towards me.

Let me take your horse.
Thank you.
She can just stay in the arena.
Come to the kitchen.

He helped me stop the bleeding. I was so worried. There was so much blood in front of me, but I did not know yet what my face looked like. I thought maybe my nose was cut open? Are all my teeth still there. The owner assured me that my nose was not cut and all teeth seemed in place.

Next I was worried about concussion. I have had one before as a child and it was bad. I had spent two days in the hospital (yes that was horse related too!). I was waiting for the tell-tale signs to start.

During all of this, Savvy had transformed from psycho to sweetheart and was meandering the arena like an old school horse. humf.

After sitting for a while and allowing shock to subside, I found I was actually amazingly alright. My nose looked fine and wasn't bleeding any more, and my lip was fat with a few cuts inside, but nothing that needed stitches. I did have a headache starting, but my vision was clear and there was no nausea starting, so it seemed I had avoided a major concussion luckily.

The owner throughout this whole experience was just so helpful and positive. Everyone should be so lucky to have someone like that around in a crisis.

So, here I am, fat-faced and sore two days later.  My neck and shoulders hurt so bad today, I feel like, well, like I was kicked by a horse.

I have that lesson scheduled for this Thursday. Wish me luck that I can just do the thing, and not let this damage my hard-earned confidence.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

It Happened!

Making horse-related purchases brings on all the joys
The stars aligned and this happened this weekend!!  I needed to sell my old trailer to fund the new one and amazingly I sold it in just one day of advertising.


NOT new, but new to me and definitely a step up from the Metal Beast I had. It needs a bit of work and some major cleanup inside, but I love it.

WTF is this?
The center divider comes out so if Savvy has any issues with straight load travel (she always preferred riding facing backwards in my stock trailer), then I can just take out the divider and let her pick how she wants to stand.

I should go..I have a thing.
There will be lots of practicing before our maiden voyage to lessons in a few days. Trailer travel brings out all the crazy anxiety in my head. I am way too good at imaging all the worst that can happen. Just thinking about it is making my stomach flip.

Wait-do I smell oats?

But hopefully Savvy will grow to love it as much as I do! There will be endless supplies of bribery inside in the form of all her favorite treats. Wonder Pony luvs her food.

Sunday, 28 August 2016


One major issue I have been trying to work through with Savvy this summer is consistency on the contact.

Proof good moments are in there, although it didn't feel like it while I was riding...

The connection issue has been a bit of an overwhelming challenge. She is so light and reactive it feels like any wrong move on my part has her high and hollow or curled in behind the vertical, but mostly bouncing back and forth between the two every step of the way.

I feel like I have tried everything. The best piece of advice I have picked up is that it is not about the head.

Not. about. the. head. ugh.

Furthermore, correct the movement and the head will follow. ugh.

Back in the good old days as a kid showing ponies, it was all about the head and pulling it in. False collection was where it was at, and no one new it was false. Easy peasy.

No more my friend. Now it has to be straighten the shoulder. Encourage the back up. Stay soft yet tall - think uphill. The horse will round. The poll becomes the highest point and your horse will be using their body to the fullest.

Or...we pogo-stick around the arena hollow-backed and nose out. sigh.

A well-deserved hack in the field is actually becoming a thing! (Not so scary for us anymore!)
Most rides feel like there is no improvement happening. The small details can get intensely frustrating but then something will happen and it reminds me of how far we have come. Like young Shiraz bolting suddenly and taking off bucking/galloping in the barnyard while I am working on canter departs on Savvy and she doesn't lose her mind. Or riding out to the field for a relaxing ride and it actually is because we are really starting to trust each other. 

Connection is going to happen. It already has in so many other more important ways.

Monday, 15 August 2016

A Study in Transitions

I have been poring over the Karen Rohlf training videos in her video classroom searching for all things transition related. Savvy and I have been in a bit of a see-saw pattern of her being either too reactive and me tightening instead of relaxing or her shutting me out and me being too quick to skip phase 1, 2, 3, and going straight for phase 4 and feeling like a terrible rider.

I knew that I needed to step up my game and be more aware and thoughtful in my reactions: soft, consistant and proactive instead of reactive.

There were many videos I found helpful, but specifically the December 2014 video titled "Walk canter walk transitions" left me wanting to run out to the backyard and start practicing.

First, the concept of preparing the walk (or trot in my case) to the point where you do not have to push for the canter. This involves creating an active walk that is engaged and capable of doing what ever you ask such as half pass, or shoulders in, extend or shorten. Once your horse is in this actively engaged place, the canter transition will be more physically and mentally possible without running into it or flailing - both of which is my current state of affairs.

Karen talks about the balancing act of creating enough energy for the horse to physically be able to move into the canter, yet relaxed enough to be soft, using the correct muscles and not getting stiff or rushing.

I have ridden three times this week focusing on not just getting a canter, but spending a bit more time on thinking about the quality of each gait and playing around with my position and seeing how it affects Savvy's way of going and attitude.

What I usually do - the ever popular lean/grab/chase maneuver

In my playing around I found some facinating things that would happen. First, when I would sit up tall and specifically look at a point ahead of us rather than down at her (um, yes like we all know we are supposed to...), Savvy seemed to have an easier time with difficult tasks like shoulder in. I am not quite sure at this point if it is a result of me consentrating more on my body thus resulting in a better ask, or if her usual 'not quite right' just simply looked a bit better out of my peripheral vision...

What Savvy sometimes thinks of the idea.
Second, as I was looking up and feeling my seat bones and concentrating on using my inner leg rather than the back of my calf, I could get a much more active walk and the transition into trot was improved. This is all stuff I have been working on already, but I was really tongue-sticking-out type of concentrating on it for these rides.

Third, I found when I opened my hands a bit wider and higher and paid attention to keeping a following contact no matter where her head moved, Savvy was much more willing to reach into the bit and stretch over her top line. This resulted in a longer stride and a general feeling of more relaxation.

So then for canter, I tried so, so hard to keep myself unchanged in the ask. This is so hard for me. I want to tighten the reins, lean forward and chase - ugh.

After about three attempts, staying quiet and regrouping, I had the best canter depart from Savvy she has ever given.

Don't you love it when training advice works?

Thursday, 11 August 2016

The Big Day for Shiraz

After a rough past few weeks of stress coming from all directions, a sweet dark bay horse seemed to be just the thing to take my mind off of my troubles.

Wednesdays are lesson days where I trailer over Savvy, but this time I asked if I could bring Shiraz along instead.

I have been wanting to take her over to the indoor all summer and it just never seemed to work out.

She loaded sceptically but politely and proceeded to paw while I loaded up the kidlets in the truck. On the highway she was a saint - I didn't feel her move a hoof the entire way there. Refreshing difference from Savvy who trailers like a wind-up monkey toy.

Once there, she had to stand in the trailer while I took my equipment and kids up to the barn and she was fantistic. No pawing or stomping around. Her walk up to the barn was a bit snorty, but nothing terrible and then we headed into the barn for grooming and tack up.

When you give your phone to an 8-year-old and ask them to take pictures of your ride...

I brought my saddle, lounge line and horsemanship stick. My plan was to do a full groundwork sesion with the saddle on. I wanted to give her a positive first outing with tons of carrots and keep her focused on me to show her I was her leader no matter what was going on around us.

She was a star! She was interested in her surroundings, but completely capable of focusing on tasks and calm about the whole thing. Coach was there so after half an hour of awesome, I asked if she could give us a mini lesson and I hopped up!

We did simple small circles, figure-eights, stops and turns on the forehand.


If this is how she is at 3 years old her first time on an outing, I do believe I have one amazing horse.

Complete with 8-year-old commentary.

All in all, it was the kind of day I really needed and I can't wait to take her out again. :)

Thursday, 4 August 2016

When doing the right thing hurts like hell

Letting go of a heart horse is no easy feat. My heart hurts.

Miss Tea was my 'Babygirl'.

When my husband and I first bought our little farm, I rushed back in to horses and bought two geldings. Little did I know what we were about to face.

One of the geldings had a problem no one knew about - There had been an infection in his gutteral pouch and had left the main artery damaged and prime for a bleed at any time. Two months after I purchased him, that happened and we lost him.

Now in a position of needing a companion for the other gelding, the search began. I was adamant to be more careful this time. No hidden illnesses or dealing with other people's bad training, I wanted a weanling I could raise and train myself. And what better place than the breeding farm where my mom got her Quarter Horse mare from when I was a little girl?

My mom's filly, Princess

So we found our Miss Tea there.
She was there through my struggle with anxiety. We walked through it together and both came out better on the other side.

Miss Tea's first day home

She was my teacher. I learned to listen to a horse from her. Although I had ridden all my life, it had always been about what I wanted. The idea that you 'make' your horse listen was the common training approach I grew up around.

First run in her paddock

Miss Tea forced me to stop, see her as a being with actual thoughts and opinions that mattered. There could be a conversation if only I slowed down to listen and partake. And what a fabulous conversation there could be! This opened the door for me. The more we learned together, the lesser my anxiety became.

Miss Tea with her grumpy big brother
She saved me in so many ways.

But she kept telling me something that I did not want to hear. She simply could not take the shape of my hunter/jumper dreams. I tried for so long to help her reshape her body, build different muscles to hold a frame and canter without tripping (*sigh*).

Our solo horse show adventure 2014.

Last fall I finally came to terms with letting go of that dream and I was okay with it. As the weeks of not riding her turned into months I could see this may have been the best choice for us, but was there something out there better for her? Was a life in a rectangle pasture good enough for her?
Adventures in trail riding

I made an add for her and posted it several times, and several times promptly took it down before anyone could respond. 

Learning to jump, together
Then, three days ago I placed another add, more plain than any of the previous ones, with just one picture and a brief description. And someone responded immediately. Shit.
A young woman, with her neighbour who was going to help her with learning to ride. She just wanted a horse she could ride in the field and help him with cows, trail ride, toodle.

Our first fun show

A life without collection and correct leads and letting her be long and straight and happy? Hu. Maybe.
 I handed her Miss Tea's lead rope and I was walking away from them both to get the brushes. I looked back over my shoulder and the lady laid her head on Miss Tea's side and wrapped her arms around her. Hu. Possibly.

I told them more information about her than anyone would ever want to know; how she likes to stop, look and think when she is worried and this works best for her, where her favorite scratch spots are, how much she hates being out in the rain, and her favorite treats.

Our best moment
I was passing on to them my dearest friend.

I hope it was the right decision.