Thursday, 31 May 2018


Every time I open up Horse-Crazy Mom I am reminded that it is time to make some changes to how the blog looks, but then I just don't want to. Savvy was such an important and much loved horse to me.

<3 this horse

So instead of changing this blog, I decided to make a new one for Shiraz. If you would like to follow along the story continues at Pocket Full of Mints.

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, 26 May 2018

The Monty Hall Problem

It has been a heck of a week:

My concerns over boarding were momentarily interrupted by some great news!

Our farm sold!!

Even better? The next day our offer on a new place was accepted!

Goodbye my love. It has been one heck of a ride.
I am about 90% excited for the new lifestyle in a lovely home and about 10% terrified of letting go of farm life. Luckily Manitoba winters will always come around to remind me how great it probably will feel to not be out trying to drag hay bales through three feet deep of snow in the blowing wind.

Like this. I don't like farm life in this.
So here is the new place. We take possession in a month which feels like quite a short time to pack up a whole farm full of 13 years of living.

Still a decent sized property but quite the down-size from 37 acres. Some people see lovely lawn--I see wasted space that could have been a lovely little paddock if only zoning allowed, lol.
This interruption didn't last long though. My thoughts quickly returned to trying to sort out a workable boarding situation for Shiraz. I knew I honestly could not take chances with her future health by staying at Barn#2. Potential lung damage is not something I am willing to gamble with.

But honestly, I did not want to return to Barn#1 because for what ever reason, Shiraz was spooky AF there and even though common sense was telling me it could be worked through, I just don't want to. I am ready for easier horses now. I am so done with difficult. Shiraz is generally pretty easy, but she was not even close to easy on that farm. Weird? Ya! But I don't have the interest in figuring out that mystery. Instead I decided to go back to reexamining the entire list of options. Good care/feed was a must have. I decided to schedule a visit with a few more barns knowing I will have to make compromise somewhere and I would rather it be me suffering than my horse in some way.

In this I found a barn I had excluded for two reasons: First it was just a bit above my comfort level in cost. Second, it is a hunter/jumper barn. After viewing a few different hunter/jumper barns in my initial search, I had the impression these barns would be too...well too everything. Too rigid, too clean, too many rules.

Let's see what is behind door #3
But this particular barn was a pleasant surprise. The outdoor boarding paddock was quite large, big enough to still have grass and surrounded by trees and the feed was a clean grass mix. The indoor arena was a great size, insulated and bright. The outdoor arena was a living dream; absolutely huge and surrounded by trees.

Best of all, the owner was very nice, laid back enough to be very approachable yet concerned and knowledgeable enough that I felt he cared about running things well and providing good care for the horses. The grounds were in a state of renovation and the barn was well kept but not so spotless to be afraid to set foot in. (I hate super spotless barns: You know my horse is going to shit on that floor, right?!)

So here we go with Barn#3. Shiraz moves in Sunday morning :)

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Buying Time

Thank you all so much for your feedback. Man, did it ever feel better just typing my woes and reading different views of the situation.

For now I am going to stay put (paid for board until the end of May so giving myself that window of reflection) and see what I can learn about the extent of this issue. I have asked the previous BO if I can come back for June 1st, so that is in place if that is what I decide.

I took Shiraz for a hand walk down the path directly off Shiraz's new paddock. It heads right into the park and to the xc course.
I talked to the BO and he was very kind and open about what he knew of it--that two of the horses had longstanding chronic issues but more had only started coughing just this spring. A vet was out and suggested the very dry spring we are having is increasing dust in general plus there could be a pollen component. He described his hay feeding practice and was not open to watering down the hay as there were just too many horses/hay piles and he could not add that to his chores.

Heading further into the park the path lined with wood shavings much of the way.
I am considering buying a watering can (no hoses reach that back paddock) and watering down the hay piles in Shiraz's paddock when I am there, with the BO's permission. Would that be securing my position as that boarder? Probably? Do I care as long as my mare has less dusty hay when possible? Nope.

For now, we are loving the location.

Next time I may try riding this path. Hopefully I can coordinate going with some other riders.
I am dreading the deadline of telling either new place I am leaving or old place that I am not coming back after all. Either way a bridge will probably be burned.  

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Boarding is B*$%@#*t.

Losing my mind. This is going to be pure "this is how I am feeling/what the fuck have I done" vomit. Sorry.

Stress in every corner doesn't help, but indecision tends to plague me, compounding every problem.
Two weeks ago Shiraz was so spooky I was afraid to ride her. In fact I did not ride most of the week leading up to the derby. After about two weeks of just feeling like maybe it was not a good fit, I decided to remove Shiraz from that barn and move her to one that had been recommended to me.

New home!...?...:'(
I needed to know--is this just how Shiraz was going to be at this age/stage in training or was it just a bad fit for her? We all know I am not the bravest rider and I was feeling on the verge of losing confidence.

So I moved her. The new barn is great. The property backs onto the park. I can ride to the xc course. There is a xc coach on site. Shiraz is completely MELLOW and my first ride on her there was FANTASTIC. Not one single step of jig. WTF?!!!


The hay is always round bales. I checked the hay on my tour. It happened to be a very good bale (super clean and fantastic grass mix) and the BO does not put the bale in the paddocks but tractors in servings. I know from personal experience round bales are typically dusty and would fork in servings rather than drop a bale into the paddock. Unfortunately on bringing Shiraz there, I noted the piles of hay tractored in were actually very dusty. Ya, round bales can be hit or miss. Some are horrible and some are great, even from the same field baled on the same day. My own hay shed is full of that proof. But more alarming was that four out of six of Shiraz's pasture mates have very bad chronic coughs.

Me, sitting on a bucket, weighing pros and cons of being at a great barn where my horse seems so happy and relaxed after I had to wash her nostrils out because of the thick coating of dirt lining them after her breakfast, considering her likelihood of developing COPD.
 I looked at the horses in her paddock on my tour. None of them happened to be coughing at that moment. Standing there, on day one of dropping Shiraz off, listening to the other horses wheezing and hacking over their hay piles I just about cried.

I'm so disappointed, sad, feeling foolish for jumping in to do best by my horse and just making things worse.

I am feeling a lot of horse community pressure. Very important people recommended this move and disapproved of my previous barn. It did not cause my initial move, but it is making me worry about switching back to my original barn choice if they will have me. I cannot find another option that I can afford in the area. I hate that I have to chose between physical health and mental wellbeing. Knowing that the quiet Shiraz is still there, I have hope she will settle in with time if she goes back. I mean, why the hell wouldn't she? Right?

Lady, I can't even look at you. Just pick a place and let me be. -- Shiraz, most likely.
Anyone else muddle things up in the name of trying to improve your horse's situation? Or have a horse be nuts at one place but happy in another for no obvious reason?

Friday, 11 May 2018

Derbies and Baby Horses

Straight to the point: My sweet little mule is possibly definitely the best baby horse to ever trot on four legs and tranter over 2 foot logs.

So fierce over her first fence of the day!
Shiraz was a total star for last weekend's derby and I was not expecting any of it. I mentally prepared myself for a spooky, jigging horse that *might* be able to complete the pace round I had entered and most definitely would be skipping a lot of jumps in the two following starter rounds I entered subsequent to pace.

Skeptical of the bales but happy to try anyways!
We had a "Meet the Fences" on Saturday with a coach for an hour and a half and it started out pretty much as I was expecting. Shiraz was tense and a bit worried about the other horses in our group, especially when they trotted or cantered up behind her which resulted in some fantastical spook/flails. I tried to ride like it was all no big deal though and stay relaxed, clear in my aids and help her feel supported.

Just the prettiest though :D
What I found cool though was that she relaxed more and more as we began to jump things. By the end of the lesson we had jumped everything coach had asked us and Shiraz was feeling like her sweet, lazy, lovable self - something I haven't seen much of since she has been at the new boarding barn.

Less effort and sloppy knees but happy horse as she relaxed in the field. 
This left me feeling much more confident about what was to come on Sunday, but I still had no idea how Shiraz would feel about heading out on the field on her own.

A little luck sewn on because I was feeling I would need it. :)
Sunday was an early start as I was second on the order of go for my pace round first thing in the morning. It did not leave much room for settling in time but we headed off on our pace round at a stiff trot and stayed in that trot for the entire round. And we lived, so success!

Heading out onto the field on our own with random jump judges scattered about, I could almost hear the wheels in Shiraz's brain turning trying to figure out what the hell we were even doing.

The best pony acting like an old show pro on derby day.
We had a short break before our starter round which was just enough time to finish settling in and get comfortable over the warmup cross rails. We headed out again at the trot and Shiraz did a great job of listening to me and jumped every fence on course. The toughest part was heading through the trees to move into the second field that we had not practiced in the day before, but she listened to me through her fear which was very cool to ride.

Video of Saturday practice

For my final round I did the starter course again. This time we cantered everywhere it felt doable and Shiraz was starting to discover the game. She was much more relaxed and I could feel she had a better idea of what the plan was.

Six years ago I started shopping for a baby that could some day take me over xc safely. Five years ago I found her and it has been the LONGEST wait watching her grow up. But here we are and she can do this crazy sport! It is just such an exciting moment to see the dream become reality and also such a relief that I chose the right baby for me (because buying a baby can be such a gamble). This was a great start to the derby season to say the least and I can't wait for the next one!

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Ian Roberts Clinic Day Two

Day two started off with a bit of excitement. Not five minutes after I arrived, a horse broke away from the trailer and headed off to the paddocks full of fancy warmbloods. I went to help but soon it looked as though the owner had it under control so I returned to get Shiraz out of the trailer to tack up.

Love it when a clinician takes time to pet your pony. Also, ahem... forgot to put on my halfchaps in the loose horse kerfuffle. Just look away.
Unfortunately the paddock horses thought this was all very exciting and were tearing around. Just as I had started saddling up, the entire herd came thundering back right to where I had parked my trailer. Shiraz was surprisingly good. I held her while she danced on the spot but that was all she did and then returned to eating grass.

Helping Shiraz through the scary ditch because OMG the GROUND IS NOT FLAT. ugh.
I planned to lunge, lead her over some jumps at the walk to loosen tight back muscles and then hop on to warm up. After getting on, Shiraz was nervous but tons better than the day before. Soon we were able to trot in choppy, tight-backed circles but at least it was forward and she was trying.

Connected next to the outdoor sand arena was a second grass arena with cross-country style elements such as a large ditch, bank and small rectangle ditch and that is where the clinician was waiting for us. We started with an exercise in transitions. On day one he had us using our legs in a squeeze, imagining we were lifting our horse up off the ground and minimal hands to come to a stop from a walk, or transition down from a trot to a walk. Today we worked more on this as we finished warming up. I got called out for bending at the wrist over and over which has been a life-long problem I cannot seem to rid myself of. I swear I might duct tape my wrists and be done with it.

Canter-stepping over cross rails for life.
We then got to go through the large ditch from multiple directions and eventually Ian added a small cross rail at the top of the long side. We started with coming through the ditch and jumping out, following by jumping into the ditch.

Ya, I have watched too many videos of horses leaping over little ditches to ride this particular introduction.
Next was the small rectangle ditch and Ian told us to go on the buckle to let our horses really look and assess. He asked if I wanted to go first and he took Shiraz's rein. I asked if I could get off and he kindly said sure. So Shiraz got to investigate the pit of death without me and eventually stepped in once she realised grass was in there for the eating. So I hopped up and we all went through many times before heading over to the bank.

Not gonna lie, I could have done up-banks all day :)
Going up banks may be my new favourite thing. All the thrill of jumping without the backside downward arc to ride correctly. Going down a bank: worst thing ever. First we walked down which was okay, but then trotting down I grabbed the neck strap and every *%&#ing time I flew forward on the landing and almost fell off. What was I doing wrong? Anyone catch my fatal error? Ya, grabbing the neck strap. Apparently the force of impact from a bank while holding the neck strap yanks you forward and best wishes to you to stay on the horse. You can see just how little I am able to think during the process of a jump as it took me FOUR attempts plus some post-jump contemplating to figure it out.

You're welcome. No shame.
At the end we strung it all together in a very small course and by then Shiraz was so relaxed. It was nice to feel THAT horse again. It has been a long while since she has been completely relaxed to the point where she could stop and just stand still while I am riding.

So our first derby is May 5th and 6th. Do I feel ready? Not really but you all know that's just not my style. :)

Friday, 27 April 2018

Ian Roberts Clinic Day One

I am falling so behind in basically everything right now! It has just been a blur of house showings (which means constant frantic house cleaning because a family of four plus animals can destroy a house in minutes) all the while trying to do real life with kids, meeting the demands of an ever-increasing work load and sneaking off to visit my horse.
My fluffy yak pre-body clip :) So. much. hair.
 Have you ever headed into a clinic with a clinician you did not know? I have been to enough clinics to know that the experience can greatly depend on the style of the clinician and how that meshes with you personally. Honestly, I just need a clinician to simply be nice. I do not learn from tough love--I am more likely to crumple into a fetal position and cry.

Post-clip pony! Do not look too closely--the clip is sketchy :P
So when I found myself on a horse that was possibly doing a magnificent piaf (if only this was a dressage clinic!) mixed with canter sidepass, I was happy to discover Ian Roberts was indeed nice.
He took Shiraz by the rein and led us around some scary things just to get her moving forward. That was enough support to get us both a bit more settled and I was then able to get Shiraz trotting around with the rest of my group.

Trotting through the scattered poles with some pretty cute springs!
Once everyone was warmed up, we started with an exercise over scattered poles. This was geared to getting the horse thinking about their own feet. We were to ride on the buckle and allow the horse to lower their head and figure out their own path. We progressed to riding down the row of poles with our eyes closed to emphasise our role of setting direction and pace, and then leaving their horse alone to do their job.

Settling and thinking while I leave her alone.
Then we tied in a log jump with the pole exercise. Shiraz settled nicely and I noticed the more we jumped, the more relaxed she got.

Heading towards the first jump of the day (AND happens to be the biggest jump we have done together!! What is that, like 2 feet high?!! HUGE!!!)
I was impressed with Mr. Roberts' ability to quickly assess a horse and rider, know how far to push and give clear instructions without making anyone feel overfaced or stupid.

The result for me was a feeling of pushing past my boundaries and seeing real advancement in Shiraz while not ever really feeling like what we were doing was too difficult.

By the end of clinic day one, I was completely exhausted but smiling from ear to ear because we had done the thing, no one got hurt and best of all there would be a day two!!

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

No Whoa Woes

The trajectory of Shiraz's nervousness at the new barn *felt* mostly in a decline towards better rides, but for the last week prior to our clinic there was a bit of a resurgence of a very unhappy horse.

By the end of all these recent rides I had a horse soaked in sweat but still chugging like the energiser bunny and me using endless small circles to slow her down. She seems completely incapable of standing still and no amount of one-rein stop, circles or go-forward-until-you-are-exhausted seems to work because there is no exhausted (at least not after a full hour of hard work).

As long as we kept trotting she was really quite fine, so we trotted...
In my lesson last week with K, she was quick to point out my horse actually looked more nervous than she had the week prior. And... she was right. We went into trot to work on getting her thinking with inside bend, switching to outside bend as well as spiralling in/out on a circle and 15 minutes later Shiraz was still spazzing out with tossing head/tense shortened stride/chomping on the bit and basically acting like the world was ending and why were we all not running for our lives.

K and I both have never seen Shiraz this tense. She asked if she could get on and feel what is going on. Hell yes, please.

My first jump since January!
After playing around with trying to walk, attempting to stop and barely trotting safely (Shiraz needed her feet moving but at the same time was too tense to be in front of the leg, i.e. wanting to rear rather than extend her stride). So canter it was. A lot of canter. I cannot even say how long the canter was, but enough for Shiraz to be covered in sweat and have foamy white dripping off of her. K brought her down to a walk and Shiraz was STILL trying to jig. So more cantering.

Lesson with M went really well. And who knew slightly raised poles could essentially feel just as exciting as 2'6"?! lol!
I got back on at the end and she felt much better, but still like she could go for miles.

So? We have lots of contributing factors that could be causing this. The move on its own is an adjustment, but there may be other things adding fuel to her fire:
1. Hay. This has changed from mostly grass hay to a higher alfalfa content. This alone could be giving her added energy she is not accustomed to feeling.
2. Supplemental feed. Barn owner wanted Shiraz to have more weight and suggested a different supplement which she has now been on for a week. The protein content is not higher than her previous feed and it is designed to add fat without sugars. I really did not want to make another feed change during her adjustment to a new home since she was already getting used to new hay, but I found it hard to say no considering Shiraz had dropped a lot of weight in her first week.
3. Paddock buddy. Her new best friend is a gelding--the first gelding Shiraz has ever been with in such close quarters. There may be a hormonal component adding to the fun.
4. Arena. It is a smaller arena with a lot of outside noises (barn construction) that really grab her attention and set off a lot of increased anxiety.
5. Teeth. I had skipped her teeth rasping during her spring vet appointment because she had a lot of needle pokes all at once and I did not want to add mouth pain to her woes. I have noticed her behaviour is a bit worse under saddle with a contact on the reins so will be getting her teeth checked the next time the vet is at the barn.
6. Every other health issue under the sun that my imagination runs tangents on.

Really when I list everything, of course she is out of sorts. If it was not for the pressure of a clinic in a few days, I might have simply backed off and let her settle and adjust to it all. But, in an attempt to have a horse with intact marbles on the weekend, I brought over some of my own hay to reduce some of the alfalfa in her system and added some magnesium in a (too little, too late?) attempt to settle her.

I also decided a neck strap would be a smart add-on and practised using it in case pony goes up instead of forward.

Finally, I evaluated my goals for the clinic and use all my tools for preventative rather than reactive damage control. This meant planning on riding Shiraz at the boarding barn before heading to the clinic. Then, plan to be early and give her plenty of time to settle with no rushing and show her the new location. Lunge as much as it takes. Be clear to the clinician if I were to become worried. Having this plan outlined really helped me stay calm and positive heading into the morning of clinic day one. Only time would reveal if it would help Shiraz.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Can't Talk Now, Riding Horse

Oh yes I am! I sort of knew that having my horse at a barn with an indoor would be good for me and Shiraz, but guys! I am riding a lot!

And with a lot of riding comes a LOT of rolling. Love that derpy lip :)
And what happens when you ride a lot? Progress, that's what. It has only been two weeks but I have already had three lessons, and ridden 6 other times on my own. That is more riding right there than all of January, February and March combined.

I told you about our first lesson which was all sorts of tense. The great thing from it though was we worked through to a very good place by the end and it left me feeling quite confident that I could manage the same on my own.

Instead of riding videos, enjoy this incredible floating horse head
Every ride following that lesson was a bit better than the last. Shiraz completely stopped the tail swishing/ear pinning half way through the week and by my following lesson we were able to have a regular walk (without any jigging!) right from the start.

I think this is the most excited I have ever been about being able to ride a horse on a circle at the walk and trot.

My first two lessons were with my trusted Pine Ridge coach K, but the third was with M -- new to me on-site instructor who is certified for western and english (and personally rides western). I had a chance to ride with her earlier in the week as she has her horse boarded there as well, and I talked about where Shiraz was at training-wise and what I hoped to work on. I told her a bit about the bucking that had shown up in the canter and that I was really still not terribly confident about it.

Sweaty pony wishing I would just stop with the pictures and take her outside already.
So at the beginning of the lesson M gave me an overview of what she would like to work on, including rollbacks, trot poles widely spaced down one side of the arena and playing with the barrel racing pattern, all tricks to encourage Shiraz to want to canter on her own. The thought being if canter is her idea, perhaps the bucking would be less likely.

The verdict? Success! We actually ended up cantering many times (for brief moments of 3 to 10 strides) and all of those moments were drama free. I also found that working on things in a completely new way was quite refreshing and good for both of us. Even though Shiraz was very 'up' and jiggy for most of all of the lesson, I did not find it worrying and we were still able to focus on the tasks.

An earlier ride on our own *trying* to walk but girl loves her springs
We still have not jumped anything though. My jumping/eventing clinic is this coming weekend...I am still optimistic that I will get over some cross rails before the weekend though. And to be honest, I am not worried about Shiraz's ability to make it over little jumps. My main concern is her being settled enough for me to ride. If she has enough marbles for me to walk and trot, then everything else should be just fine! :)

Thursday, 5 April 2018


My farm has not sold yet so for the time being I'm not going anywhere. We have done everything we can to the house to prepare for selling, but as for how the yard looks, it is a waiting game for snow to melt (the back yard is still a couple feet deep in snow currently). But a certain fluffy yak has packed her little grooming bags and relocated.

The best part of this whole new adventure is having Shiraz at a boarding stable with an indoor -- and that has happened this past weekend! I brought her on Sunday, lunged in the arena and showed her all the things, then lunged again on Monday.

Tuesday I had scheduled a lesson with my coach K from the previous indoor I had been trailering to. She was gracious enough to agree to drive over to the new place and continue our lessons. It possibly may have been a bit ambitious to schedule a lesson that soon, but I wanted to hit the ground running and make up for a failed winter plan of making progress with Shiraz.

Look how relaxed she looks just lunging...hhmph.
I was a bit worried how she might be for her first ride in the new arena with sounds of construction of the new barn being worked on. To make matters a bit worse I showed up late and literally was running to get my horse, scrape of the mud and tack up. I lunged a little in a rush and then jokingly made a prayer to the riding gods to keep me alive for this lesson.

The "Why have you brought me here" look
Turns out that prayer deserved a bit of sincerity. Shiraz was tense and could not mentally comprehend how to step forward in that state. Rearing felt strongly imminent. K had us just work on a 20-meter circle at the walk which once I got her unstuck from where I had mounted it was a pretty intense jig. We worked on trying to find a walk and K had me count out loud "1,2,3,4" over and over and K threw every tool she knew at us to help us both relax. At one point some random person opened the arena door without calling out first and spooked us both hard: Shiraz did this very gymnastic move and I yelled a swear word, and the poor guy looked a bit shellshocked (ohmygod I need to stop with the swearing with spooks! Perhaps I can train myself a random word for those surprise moments like..."CABBAGE!" or "UKULELE!").

Shiraz thinks her new boyfriend is perfect! He does whatever she tells him to.
Finding a true walk was just not happening so K had us go up to trot and still counting out loud. There was much tail swishing, head snaking and pinned ears in response to my leg. K had me "forget my hands" and just ride her with my legs and seat. I literally was to put my hands on her neck and not use the reins for anything (although I had contact). This was the magic feather for me and I settled in to thinking in the moment.

My yak post ride -- she worked out her angst through much rolling in the straw
It was incredibly cool to see that I could settle her head movements with my legs. Every time Shiraz wanted to suck back, or drift to the exit, or throw her head around in a fit, it was completely fixable with inside leg, outside hip bone and eyes focused on the next spot in the circle. Bit by bit I could feel her back unknotting and I allowed the reins to lengthen until she was trotting with her head stretched down and she started breathing. This state took 45 minutes to get and I am so happy to say that I spent most of the ride completely relaxed (except for that first 10 minutes of jiggidy jig--that space right there I was certain we were all going to die).

It was a great lesson--yes we just trotted a 20-meter circle basically for an hour but there was a lot accomplished. Shiraz was throwing every doubt question at me and with K's help I was able to answer all of those questions plus show her that dirty threats (like telling me she wanted to rear or buck many times) were not an option. And the best part, it was done with soft but consistent focus and leg support rather than a harsher correction.

I am looking forward to my next ride on my own. I will definitely be spending a lot more time doing ground work before I get on so hopefully she will not be that tense for the next ride. But, even if she is, I think we'll be okay.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

New Adventure: Part III

Deciding to sell our farm was quite a difficult process for me, and then selling Savvy had me on the fence of what we were doing. The next phase of preparing to move off-farm brought a glint of sunshine to my stormy mind and reminded me of the long-term picture.


Next would be determining the future boarding home for Shiraz and I was pretty excited about this part. Having grown up on a farm with horses and then having a farm again as an adult, I have never had the need to board. I must admit I am a bit worried about not having full control over my horse's care. To offset my worries, I tried to make the best choice possible to find a good fit with my personal interpretation of ideal horse care.

The basics I was looking for that were non-negotiable included an indoor arena, safe fencing with shelter, safe hay and friendly owners.

And this would be nice...
After all of these years trailering out to arenas, I am really looking forward to the perk of an on-site arena. I am not sure how all the driving part will pan out as we do not know where our new home will be yet. The only time I consistently ride currently is during our short three months of summer. As long as the ground is dry, I would ride every day. During the winter that is cut drastically to random toodling as I just do not feel safe doing much in poor footing (big horses fall hard and my knee will never forget).

If my new boarding barn ends up not being terribly far, I anticipate being able to ride more than I currently do on a regular basis simply because of not having to deal with outdoor snow or rain and ruined footing. On top of that, I hope to have regular coaching year-round because honestly, it takes a village to get this lady's ass over fences.

My search area consisted of a relatively small area surrounding Birds Hill Park. This area is considered horse country, full of everything from the large boarding businesses to the small hobby farmers. I made and list of every stable with a riding arena and started calling each one for the cost of outdoor board. This reduced my list by half due to cost or facilities not offering outdoor board. I made appointments with the places that were left on my list.

Some of my options in pink. My chosen barn is blue.
(will probably/maybe be living somewhere across the river west of East Saint Paul which is about a half hour's drive)
I had way too much fun looking at places. I love seeing paddock layouts and different barn styles so having personal tours of a number of nice barns was better than a school fieldtrip for me. Some places were surprisingly dumpy while others were over-the-top perfect.

I visited a hunter/jumper barn and was given a tour by the owner who also gave all the lessons. She ended up giving me a 15-minute ground lesson of the 'five hand positions' and, well it was intense. Beautiful place though.

So clean. Note the rubber tile flooring so no one slips.
Another barn I visited was just across the road from the park and was busy with recreational riders getting ready for a group trail ride. Everyone seemed so nice and it was easy to imagine joining that group for a ride if I chose this place. But, the fencing was sketchy and they fed the outdoor horses roundbales (which I know all to well can be dusty because I feed them currently and only fork it in to my horses after hosing it down if I see any dust). I wavered on it for a few days but health and safety trumps fun trail riding potential.

My top contender was a small barn that was really just getting started. The husband who gave me a tour was a sweet older guy who rides dressage and studies natural horsemanship. (WUT?!) The fencing was amazing white poly with electric. (YASS!) There were shelters. The indoor arena was new. (where do I sign?) Problem was, they did not actually have a spot available but *might* have one opening for April or May. (sigh...)

Shiraz' future home.
After many texts and another visit to meet the wife, I have managed to secure a spot for April 1st! (Should I worry that is April fool's day?) It is a damn good thing I will soon have somewhere to train with a bit more intensity as I am signed up for a stadium jumping/xc clinic with Ian Roberts on April 21/22. He is an Olympic level rider. Shiraz and I trip over ground poles and haven't jumped anything since January. We'll be awesome, lol.

Friday, 9 March 2018

New Adventure: Part II

Decisions are easy. Action is a bitch.

Once hubby and I officially agreed selling our farm was a go, I suddenly had some very difficult decisions to make.

Horses. I need them in my life. Having three in my backyard was quite easy considering having our own property and hay field. The cost of boarding x three is not so easy. No matter how I crunched my numbers, I could not make it work. I had to make choices.

Considering I want to move forward with eventing, albeit on a small local scale, I knew right away which horse I was going to proceed with. Shiraz has the size and jumping ability to do well at the level I am hoping to get to some day.

No matter how many times I have tried to write about selling Savvy, I just cannot get out the words. She has been more than just a horse to me in every way. Her strong personality radiates and her ability to connect with people...well, it will just sound anthropomorphic if I try to describe it. During the process of trying to find her next person, I wavered quite a bit. I tried to convince myself I would be happy at starter or pre-entry level indefinitely and just to keep Savvy instead. But I know I am just too competitive deep down. Even though it would surely be fun to run around small courses on the wonder pony, I would regret what might have been working with Shiraz, bringing her up a few levels and pushing myself to become a better rider and move beyond my current comfort zone.

The interest in Savvy was overwhelming. There were people who just wanted a pretty little Arab because they had always wanted one (but had no intention of serious riding). There were barns looking for a lesson pony, and strong interest from pony clubbers. I took her add down after just a day in panic because trying to respond to see many questions and trying to 'sell' her in my responses was impossible. How do you tell someone they are not good enough for your horse?

I worked up the courage to try again but changed my add to be very specific about the type of new owner that would be a good fit. Now, if you are just trying to sell a horse quickly I do not recommend this. It scares off a lot of people. But really, I wanted to scare off people; all the people who would be a bad fit for Savvy. I felt that the right person for Savvy would connect with the add, and she did.

A week later E came to meet Savvy and I could see her immediately connect. E is an endurance rider who is just retiring her horse and looking for that next partner. I could sense she was trying her best to do everything properly: She did a vet check and even held off a few hours before texting that she was sure and made arrangements for picking her up.

Savvy's new frenemies - all boys...
Once Savvy was loaded in her trailer, I couldn't hold back tears. E gave me a big hug and let me know I can come visit when I like. She sent me pictures of her settling in and texted updates and questions.

Although this handsome chestnut is trying his best to make a good impression :)
Fingers crossed E and Savvy make a great team moving forward.