New saddle squeak

After a long wait, the new western saddle has arrived. Within a few days I had logged in eight hours on the trail and about 40 km, and although my hip was screaming after the long first ride (longer leg drape changes the hip angle and requires some adjusting) I was good to go by ride #3 with the help of advil.

I have been riding both western and english for several decades now, and while I love my A/P County saddle it isn't the best solution for the long trail rides that I regularly do. The western saddle provides a broader weight distribution and is also safer for those 180 degree spins when the deer / wild turkey / chasing dog / atv / x-country skier / snowshoer / jogger / biker / baby carriage (you get the idea) causes a spook.

It is also the better way to start a colt. Lots of leather and flopping around does a good amount of desensitizing. And it has a stabilizing effect on those first rides.

When Q first arrived home, I did the basic introduction with my western saddle at th…

Beezie Madden for the win!

It was a lovely day at Spruce Meadows and it turns out that our 5$ rush entrance gave us a good spot to see the CP International (first place wins 1M$). We locked in to a cute terrace on the north side with easy access to washrooms, hot tea and soup. As the weather cooled, that was a good thing.

It also turned out to be a great spot to watch a technical hairpin turn from a triple to a skinny that left many riders knocking rails. At one point it almost felt that every rider I took a picture of was jinxed. But then the final riders appeared in the large group of 50, and the clear rounds started multiplying.

Of course everyone was rooting for homeboy Eric Lamaze, who despite his brain tumour is doing great and had won the Suncor cup the previous day. But Beezie Madden took the CP International cup, and 1M$ Cdn, with a fast clear round in the jump off with chunky stallion Darry Lou.

It seems like Darry Lou is not too good with people and standing around so he got to go back to his stall w…

Detour to Spruce Meadows

I was bribed to come for a weekend in Calgary with a promise to go to Spruce Meadows. Always one to jump for a new adventure, we quickly secured our plans and booked our trip. But I had another special plan while my husband hung out with his childhood buddies ... and it involved horses.

About 30 minutes from Spruce Meadows is the beginning of Kananaskis, and the Moose Mountain. I booked a dayride at a local outfitter and got the homerun: great weather, solo ride with an awesome guide, and a good horse (Noah).

The trail conditions were SO SO different from what Im used to in my cushy bridle paths back home. Here it was up, down, over trees, mud, aspen forests, amazing lookouts. It was wild and beautiful without a hint of development or urban sprawl. The ranch is on 380 acres of their own property and the horses are out 12-16 hours a day on huge meadows to hang out and play around. They live in a big herd of 40+ horses.

My sweet steed Noah was quiet and responsive, never trying to graze…

Another sign of autumn

Crisp evening temperatures, sharper shadows of light, schoolbuses on the road ... and the first tree turned red! I had been seeing hints of colour along the edges of meadows, but this red maple beauty was waiting for me around the bend of one of my favourite trails.

We pickled some peppers this weekend, in preparation for our eventual crop of alma paprika. Hubby felt it was important we road-tested the brine and canning process before we did the deed with his harvest of precious spicy jewels. So bell peppers from costco filled in. I added different flavours to each jar to see if it made a difference (plain, five peppers, cardamom, caraway). We now have to wait 6 weeks before we taste them.

Aside from that it was a weekend of riding, bbqing and celebrating hubby’s new job. Yesterday was my first real ride in six days (after weeks of almost daily riding) and when my trail buddy cantered we almost had no brakes. It was a struggle. So, it was off to the arena today for some schooling. We …

Back to School time

This has been a great week of returning to campus. New students, new classes, new programs, new shoes. After months of “summer camp” spent mostly playing around on horseback in the woods, it was an abrupt pivot to more intellectual pursuits.

But I did miss the barn and my wonderful horse, so I was ecstatic to go back today for a short jaunt in the woods with Q and fellow boarder M. I think my horse literally rolled his eyes at me when I hugged his face and kissed his nose. But he was happy to go for a ride, and get lots of peppermints and carrots for his efforts (and patience).

Tomorrow is a rest day (post osteopath treatment) and then it will be a nice long weekend of trailrides and searching for hidden fairy houses.

Happy labour day weekend!

Waterworks with my old trail buddy

What a great ride yesterday! Q and I accompanied our past trail buddy who switched barns last spring and really struggled this summer with what appears to be seasonal headshaking. Bummer.

I also tried something that seemed to work, but not sure if it's just coincidence. When his horse started violently headshaking (clearly in pain), I stopped and turned around to face him. The horse looked at me, stopped headshaking and I gave him a peppermint. In all, I gave him three peppermints during the ride (not when he was actually shaking), and it seemed to distract him?

We also worked hard on keeping the pace low-key and the horses on the buckle. I did have to remind my friend to drop the reins several times, but I think his horse appreciated the lack of pressure. The headshaking seems to be light sensitivity, and perhaps some allergies as well. The horse wore a dark flymask to protect his eyes from the sun, and it seems to help. The symptoms disappear at night, and will likely disappear …

Pocketful of mints, aka the slowroll

It has been over twenty-five years since I did a solo trail ride bareback. Today was the day. Q was amazing, and gave me the confidence to ride on the buckle most of the way. When we came up to a road crossing, I got nervous because I could hear an unseen car climbing the road and was afraid it was the roadster sans muffler that had been gunning it up and down the road earlier. So I asked Q to trot, and he steadily complied with the smoothest transitions.

The last time I had done this was with my first QH Rocky that I moved from Canada to Costa Rica (in the winter - bad idea) to live on the Pacific Ocean with me. We would go ride on the beach and in the ocean and bareback was the way to go. It was mostly walking around and I honestly don’t remember galloping bareback since my poney days as a teenager.

Of course my new best friends bareback pad is amazing. It provides a little cushion, gives a stickiness to my seat with the suede-like top and adheres to Qs coat with a neoprene mesh. It…