Saturday, 29 March 2014


I think a lot about my posture when I ride because I have horrible posture on the ground.  A while ago, this interesting graphic came across my feed on Facebook, and I've been staring at it a lot lately.

The accompanying write-up was explaining that the middle position (the tucked pelvis) is a necessary evil of sorts.  Although instructors will often tell their riders that it is incorrect because the legs aren't under them, their shoulders/hips/heels don't line up, etc., it is a necessary step to getting the last two positions while the body gets a chance to strengthen in all the right places.

I'm fascinated because I'd definitely say that I don't have those last two positions yet.  I struggle with my atrocious posture and bad back problems in all areas of my life, and it really wasn't until I started riding that I really wanted to make the changes - not just under saddle, but in my daily life too.

I'd say that these positions also correspond to bad posture on the ground as well. The forked seat is very similar to someone with a bad posture who has the rounded shoulders, etc.

My friend also just sent me this article about how our bodies affect our horse's bodies.  I'd be interested (and terrified) to see how my body has affected Walker.

Wasted Time

This week has been rough. And I don't just mean the snowpocalypse.

Wednesday - the view from the front door of my apartment building
 Obviously Wednesday was a write-off in terms of riding.  

But the whole week has been much of a write-off as well.  I didn't mention this earlier in the week, but I started taking dizzy spells last Saturday or Sunday.  

I didn't take them seriously at first, but then in my infinite wisdom, I decided to have a beer while watching TV.  This increased the dizziness tenfold, and it was so great that I almost crashed to the floor.  I literally crawled to my bed to go to sleep.  And for the record, no, I'm not so much of a lightweight that I can't drink one beer.

Needless to say, my mother convinced me that riding a horse in this condition was not a good plan.  So I spent the week only lunging Walker (who was not the most willing partner).

Post-storm.  This is actually the road.
As in, that five foot of snow is the road - not the sidewalk
Now that the dizzy spells have subsided, guess what.  I have to go out of town for two weeks.  Yep.  Walker just lucked into another 3 week vacation.  

Today is the first day that I have been able to ride, but I don't know if I'm going to bother.  The last time he was ridden was a week ago, and the next time he will be ridden will be a week from now (when I come home for the weekend).  It always seems so pointless to have singular rides where you have to start from scratch and aren't even setting the foundation for your next ride.

So I think he is just going to get a lunge for some exercise and a merry pat to send him on his way.  Sigh.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Happy Spring!

To celebrate the arrival of Spring last week, we are expecting anywhere up to 50 cm of snow today and another 30 cm or so on Sunday.  That's 2.6 feet, people.  More than my horse or I can jump, that's for sure.

For those of you who have ever wondered where I live, I live here, in the big blob that says "Nor'easter":

You know things are bad when the weather network says things like "crippling" and "most powerful storm of the season, if not years".

I went to work this morning to blue skies.  At about 11 a.m., it started to snow.  Ten minutes later the whole city was rapidly shutting down as we all tried to get the hell out of the office and back to our homes in the white-out conditions.

There is currently a snow drift to the height of my chest blocking me into my apartment building.  I can only hope that some brave gentleman will dig us all out tomorrow morning.

In the meantime, my pony is all cozy in the barn and loving his billionth Wednesday snowday off from work.

Happy Spring!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Just another day with my clumsy Quarter Horse

So yeah. Walker fell through a hole in the arena the other day.

I mean he literally fell in a hole. Up to his butt. One minute he's trotting along happily (ok, semi-happily) on the lunge line, the next minute he has disappeared as though in quick sand.

It turns out that one of the horses who shares a wall of her stall with the arena (and also happens to be Walker's arch nemesis) has been systematically digging beneath her stall wall. When Walker got too close to that spot, all the sand in the arena just gave way into her stall and he collapsed into the hole.

Of course, this could have been very dangerous. Instead it was extremely funny. Which I can say now that he hasn't been hurt.

Even Walker laughed about it
The look on his face was priceless. Most horses would freak out and probably hurt themselves. Not Walker. He was like, "uh, what the hell is happening? I think I'm sinking. Oh my god I'm sinking! Swim! SWIM!" 

And then he clamoured out of the hole, shook himself off and was like "That was weird". And then he proceeded to trot off on the lunge line as though nothing had happened.

I checked him all over of course. No cuts or swelling. Just another day.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Temper Tantrum Shopping Spree

Today I woke up all chipper and excited to go to the barn only to discover that they were having games day there all afternoon.  With a snowstorm rolling in this evening, I threw a mini temper tantrum that this would be two Saturdays in a row that I couldn't go to the barn and went shopping instead.

Greenhawk was having their big anniversary sale so I decided to go check it out.  I absolutely love my local Greenhawk.  Even though it was extremely busy, the ladies there know me quite well at this point and always take the time to answer all my stupid questions.  At one point I was sitting on the floor checking out products, classy broad that I am, and one of the owners just came over and sat down beside me so she could help me.  Can't beat service like that.

Even though I needed absolutely nothing, I bought my way to a better mood all the same:

Standing wraps and no bows for the horse whose legs I have never wrapped once.

Sore No More liniment spray for the horse I have never put liniment on once (Inspired by Hillary and her devotion to Sore No More)

Side Note: Apparently Greenhawk is not going to be able to import Sore No More into Canada anymore.  As if it wasn't difficult enough to get things here!

Some different bits to try with copper to see if it will help him salivate a little more (and not chomp the hell out of the bits we currently have).

A carrying tote for my brushes.  Because it was on sale.

An apple flavoured jolly ball.  Because it's my anniversary gift to Walker.  And also I'm hoping that he will stop throwing my bag with my cellphone in it across the barn aisle when I'm not looking.

And finally, in case spending a ton of undisclosed amounts of cash was not enough to make me happy, I bought a little liquid happy. *Unfortunately not available at your local Greenhawk

I hope everyone else is having a good, preferably sunny-not-snowy Saturday!

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Second Horseversary!

Today is my second horseversary with Walker!

It has been a roller coaster of a ride these past two years but I wouldn't trade them for the world.

Walker is not only the love of my life, but my saving grace. He gives me purpose and determination, friendship and forgiveness, and represents all my dreams come true. Even when he drives me crazy. 

Happy horseversary, Walker! I look forward to many more!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Bad Timing

I mentioned in one of my last posts that there's a dog show going on at the barn this weekend. Well, that turned out to be an unfortunate and unexpected event.

Unexpected because I literally didn't find out about it until a few days before and unfortunate because my mother was coming to visit and I planned to finally get videos of my rides. Now who knows when she'll be back again :(

In spite of the lack of proof, I really feel like we're improving. I mean, improvement is a relative term after all. 

Some of the old Western-ey tricks are helping, including adopting a WP hand position when he goes behind the bit - inside rein high, outside rein low and back. We can't do it forever but it is a good way of communicating with him in a language he understands.

I've also found that a balancing half halt/downward transition of a kind helps with him going behind the bit. He can effectively do upward transitions with his head curled, but he hasn't figured out how to do downward ones in that position. I can usually sneak attack him and get his head up, and then quickly push forward again to get on the bit.

As usual, I get the best results in the first 15-20 minutes of our ride and then he becomes hot and bothered. That's when he starts curling the worst and when I have to give in a little.the whole process really works him up mentally and he really benefits from a relaxed trot/canter on a loose rein.

My next plan of attack is lateral movements.

Blog Hop - What's In Your Name?

L has started another blog hop, but I'm afraid that I won't have that interesting of a story for it!

What is the story behind your blog name/url?

The short answer: Walker's name is Walker.  And these are the chronicles of my adventures with him.

Actually, a friend of mine indirectly named this blog.  Before I started blogging, I posted a lot more Facebook statuses about my crazy adventures with Walker.  I don't think I've actually gotten into the details of some of Walker's more unbelievable characteristics, but I used to mention the crazy things that happened to us more regularly on Facebook.

Anyway, he randomly posted underneath one of my statuses how he loved hearing about "the Walker Chronicles".

Hence, the name.

Keeping Track of Progress

Walker is in the middle of a five day vacation.  To make a long story short: Wednesday snowstorm, Thursday barn dog night, Friday company, Saturday barn dog show, Sunday barn dog show :S

It makes it a little difficult to track any progress.  This Winter has definitely been hard.

However, I thought I'd take this time to talk about my love of journals.  Let me just say: I love love love journals.  Every colour.  Every shape.  Every purpose.

Moleskines are my current obsession
At the beginning of 2014, I thought I should start a Walker journal.

I already keep track of my expenses, and this blog acts a bit like a journal too.  However, I wanted everything in one place, with as much detail as humanly possible, and sometimes that much detail just doesn't make it into a blog.  So I started the Walker journal.

I keep a weekly checklist where I keep track of exactly how many days I go to the barn.  There is nothing quite like seeing it in a table format to guilt trip you into stop being lazy.

I also keep track of every expense, however minute, with details and dates.

Finally, I write a detailed description of my rides and everything I do.  I write down how long I ride, whether I use his BoT products, and any little thing I notice that might be off - cuts, scrapes, a hitch in his hind. 

It might sound time consuming but it actually only takes about 5-10 minutes to write up an entry, and it's the perfect way of keeping track of information that may be relevant for later rides or calls to the vet.   

Plus, I totally love journals! 

Chester is not helpful

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Sunday Funday

Saturday my ride started out good but went downhill as usual.  At first I was getting some nice consistent on the bit work (or at least more so than usual), but then Walker grew tired.  I worked on leg yields, and while the actually yielding part could use some work, Walker was at least giving me a nice chipper pace while doing them.

One of my main problems with getting Walker forward is that he goes forward - from trot to canter.  Once I get him to a certain point in the speed of his trot, it takes a lot of work to actually keep him trotting and for him not to decide it's easier to canter.  This is all understandable though so I try to be patient about it.

Speaking of patience - that quality I don't really have much of - I have decided that Sunday needs to be a fun day for our riding.  Not for my benefit, but for Walker's.  I can get, well, obsessive to the point of souring a horse on something.

On Saturday I intended to work gently on the bit at the beginning, then do a quick dressage test, throw in a few leg yields and go on my merry way.

Instead, I worked on the bit, did the dressage test, worked on the bit some more, worked on leg yields, worked on the bit some more, then to top it off, I decided I would work on the bit.

I know that he should be working on the bit the whole ride so this might not seem excessive, but in truth, it is a lot of work for him to use his hind end, and I can tell that he finds it exhausting when I expect it for an hour straight.  I like to beat the bejesus out of a topic for weeks on end.  I can feel myself doing it, and like a drug addict, I just can't stop.

Hence, Sunday Funday.  Sunday is in the middle of our week riding-wise, so it's a good time to just hack, all loose and limber and no pressure.

We did 10-15 minutes on the bit as a quick reminder, and I was actually more impressed with his canter than his trot. Then for the rest of the ride, he got to work on a loose rein, which makes him so much happier.

All was well until we started doing rollbacks off the wall. We got too close to the wooden pegs where people hang their coats and bridles. He threw his head up during the turn, and snapped one off. Oops. Luckily he wasn't cut or hurt. We also literally ran over a line of pylons. An entire line. It was like bowling for pylons. Coordination is not our strong suit.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Blop Hop - 7 Deadly Sins

I'm a little slow getting around to this one, but here is L's blog hop!

Seven great things/strengths in your riding life

  1. Walker is pretty levelheaded and intelligent
  2. I am determined
  3. I'm really good at the theory part of riding, if not always the actual riding part of riding
  4. I have some good horsey friends
  5. My family
  6. I've finally moved somewhere where there are more opportunities for me for riding
  7. I have a fairly good career that may help the financial part of my riding.  You know.  Someday.
Seven things you lack or covet for you or your horse

  1. I want a second horse
  2. I want more time
  3. I want more money to be able to buy all the things I need/want
  4. I wish I lived in a place with more riding opportunities.  And barns.  And shows.  And eternal summer.
  5. I would like nice tack - like a really nice bridle and saddle
  6. I of course wish I was a better rider and I will always wish that even when I am
  7. I want a truck and trailer
Seven things that make you angry

  1. When I can't fix my mistakes (stolen from L, but a good one)
  2. Stupid people (I have no specific examples of this one)
  3. I make myself very angry at times for the stupid things I do
  4. It makes me angry when I give into my anger, especially when riding
  5. People that don't listen
  6. Know-it-all's
  7. When my precious time is taken from me and I can't ride
Seven things you neglect to do or cut corners on

  1. I wish I was a morning person or could force myself out of bed at a decent hour
  2. I wish I cleaned my tack and boots more regularly - like more regularly than twice a year
  3. I wish I was as clean with my apartment as I was at the barn
  4. Friday nights - I could ride.  I just don't.
  5. Warming Walker up, putting boots on Walker, and all the little warm-up/cool down things I rush through
  6. Doing Walker's stretches
  7. I'm so slothful that I can't be bothered to come up with a 7th slothful thing
Seven most expensive things you own for your horse/riding

  1. Walker
  2. Walker's board - one of the most expensive in the area.  Unfortunately.
  3. My saddle
  4. My bridle
  5. I will literally pay for almost anything medical if a vet and/or farrier so much as whispers the suggestion
  6. Some of my breeches, I suppose
  7. Show stuff - it's expensive simply because I own it for the limited times that I show
Seven guilty pleasures or favorite items

  1. Walker
  2. Our barn
  3. When I'm able to buy Walker cool things other people want (those few times)
  4. Some of my fancier tack/clothing ("fancy" is a relative word, after all)
  5. My career
  6. An indoor arena
  7. My family who help me out in many ways
Seven things you love about horses and riding

  1. Feeling like an athlete
  2. The friendships
  3. The fashion (also stolen from L; also a good one)
  4. The smell of the barn
  5. The bond between horse people
  6. Horses in general are pretty amazing creatures
  7. Having a purpose

Friday, 7 March 2014

Just ignore me

One of the ladies at the barn kindly watched my last 15 minutes on Wednesday and confirmed something I was suspecting: I am crazy.

Walker was on the bit.

It simply didn't feel like I was used to with any English-ey horses I've ridden.

It felt like riding my Western horse who is used to no contact and can collect that way. Duh, stupid.

I made her check that he was lifting his back and tracking under, not just going in a frame, and she confirmed it. He was on the vertical and in (a very light) contact and everything.

Guess why he goes behind the bit? Because I would rather believe he's not on the bit and I'm pushing him until he gets angry.

Don't get me wrong. He's not always on the bit, and he's still going behind the bit just because he does that. But B suggested a couple tips (one of which was to breathe!), including some tricks that Western people use when their horse goes behind the bit. Did that work? Of course it did. I still haven't tested it at the canter, but it gave me good results at the trot.

The moral of the story: my horse is not a warmblood who was trained dressage. If you ride him like a Western horse, you can get him to go like an English horse, if that makes any sense. I have to use the tricks we already know and stop trying to apply the tricks that work for horses from different backgrounds. Those tricks may work someday to improve what he can do, but he has to accept them first. I need to start with what he's used to, to build his tolerance and acceptance of the bit and collection, and then try to "transform" him, if that's even what I want.

I know, I know. I'm a lunatic.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

New Halter

I was out of town over the weekend so I didn't get a chance to see Walker until Monday. My mother bought him this cute new halter and I made him model it last night before we worked.

The temperature has dropped substantially since last week and because the arena wasn't available until 8, I decided to simply lunge instead of ride.

It was a good opportunity to get him working forward from the ground, and I was fairly happy with the results. 

The barn manager had showed me how they lunge on the Program last weekend, and since she seemed to get good results, I did the same. There was a lot less fussing on his behalf so I'll take it. Although he did rear once. I hope this doesn't become his new thing. I nipped it in the butt pretty quick.

Other than that, he lost a shoe. I await the farrier. But the farrier did tell me that the reason he took the pads off was because the amount of sand and dirt from our excessively sandy arena had packed itself really bad in Walker's feet. I suspect that this is what made him uncomfortable. Since removing the pads, he seems to move just fine, and last night he was perfectly sound despite being lopsided and shoeless. Maybe this means we'll go back to normal shoes again.

Tonight I plan to ride and go back to square one. Again. I bought a dressage whip and have decided to make him as forward as his little legs can handle, although I doubt he has much more in him having pushed him last night. We shall see. 

Of course, if it stays -30 degrees Celsius, then we may just lunge again. Last year we had consistent cold weather so I rode a lot in that but this year has been fluctuating. I'm not as comfortable pushing him hard under those circumstances.