Thursday, April 25, 2019

First Farrier Visit

One main item on my mind was having Liam's feet fixed. His prior farrier care was not great. The breeder's barn manager even said as much... I suspect whoever they use is willing to work on rude baby horses, so they keep using them, even though the manager knows the trims are bad.

When we decided Liam would come home on 4/5, he was due to be trimmed again sometime between 4/7 and 4/13. The barn manager didn't have him trimmed because she knew I'd have him done properly after he got home and so wanted to leave some foot to work with (which I agreed with her and was happy she didn't have him done).

Long, but the flare on the left front was especially bothersome.
He also needs more heel all-around.
I didn't think to take any before pics on the concrete!
One of my barn owners (the husband) is a part time farrier and extremely patient. I asked him to do Liam's feet for now because I expected the horse to be rude and jumpy and reactive. Nothing seems to fluster BO Farrier, and if it takes an hour to get the fronts done and we come back for the hinds, not a big deal. He's got all the education to shoe/trim and goes to continuing education seminars, but farrier work is not his full time job so it's not a permanent situation for me.

He agreed, on the condition I put in the time outside of trims to work on hoof handling. Well duh, I want a well behaved creature, so I was going to put the time in anyway! Plus he needs to have his feet picked out every time I have him out to be groomed or handled. BO Farrier showed me how to anchor the hoof against myself so I could use my leg to hold it in place and not my arms... and so Liam couldn't cow kick me, as we learned he will do when he's flustered.

Battle Bruises
Liam ripped his left hind out of my hand repeatedly until I got his leg anchored correctly.
I need practice.
BO watched me battle Liam over that left hind. He was literally ripping it out of my hand and hopping forward with his entire hind end, which threw me back. And since he's an awkward kiddo, his front left was way out to the side and every time I got thrown back I tripped on his front leg, almost going into epic pratfalls. She was like, "How on earth did they trim his feet?!"

By the way, did you know Liam was Teflon coated? And mud-averse? It's fantastic
BO Farrier and I agreed to try trimming his fronts Wednesday this week because they just couldn't go any longer (which would have allowed me more practice with his feet). If it took an hour to do them, so be it. BO Farrier did a test rasping on Monday to take down a little of the flare on the LF, and to see how Liam behaved. He... wasn't great. He spooked and gawked at the hoof stand and tried halfheartedly to leave, but in the end stood like a circus animal on a ball with 3 feet while the LF was on the stand. Whatever keeps you still dude.

I practiced leading with Liam before his appointment, just to "exercise" him a little, and then it was time! He wasn't keen on standing in the middle of the aisle (watching horses hug the walls and not stand in the middle makes my eyes bleed), so he hugged the wall for comfort and let BO Farrier do his fronts.

Everything went well on his fronts, so BO Farrier tried the hinds... which went well! The biggest issue was the left hind, but BO Farrier did a much better job holding onto it so Liam only tried pulling it away once. Sorry farrier. That shit hurts :(

New toes!
Liam has varying degrees of deep pitting/thrush in the white lines of each hoof from heel to mid-bell. He also had a false sole on the left hind, probably from an abscess sometime in this past godforsaken wet winter.

SO MUCH HOOF.
BO Farrier originally wasn't going to use the nippers on him and go this short the first time, but the deep pitting was worrisome, and it extends deeper than he trimmed off.
BO Farrier was able to bring his heels back by trimming this much off, which is great.
Liam was very good for a baby horse with limited handling, I was very pleased. Most of his "naughty" behavior was around him just not knowing how to balance on 3 legs. He seemed to think he could only balance on 2 (diagonal pair, not rearing) or 4, and standing square to evenly distribute his weight was a complete unknown to him. He'll learn! One more positive experience is in the books for him though!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Semi Wordless Wednesday: Anniversary Trip Edition

Husband and my 6th wedding anniversary was this past weekend. We took a FANTASTIC trip :)

Sunrise PIT-LAX-LAS
The bridge at Hoover Dam.
Colorado River and bridge. Managed to not take a pic of the dam itself 🤦‍♀️
Phoenix Zoo... where we took a selfie with a saguaro instead of an animal. 
STRAWBERRY SMOOTHIE BOBA! Tempe, AZ
Rula Bula, Tempe, AZ. Because Iron Druid Chronicles.
The BEST fish and chips. 5/5.
The vastness cannot be photographed.
Grand Canyon National Park, South Rim
Grand Canyon National Park
A very striking tree.
Start of the hike to Ooh Ahh Point.
Very tall walls.
One view at Ooh Ahh Point
60 miles of cow country to get to Canyon West. It's like a terrifying game of chicken, only with cows hiding in the dark.

View from the helicopter on our way down to the boats.
Another view from the helicopter on the way down. 
Looking up from the path to the docks.
Colorado River at Separation Canyon
Zoom! 35+ mph down the Colorado River

Helicopter view of the rim at Canyon West
Extremely bright rainbow to finish the trip
Four Queens Casino, Las Vegas, NV
Look! We turned $20 into $0.29!

This video is worth the 4 min watch, I promise.


Thursday, April 18, 2019

Fancy Word Sequence (repose)

Of course, I came up with a name for this post a while ago and then instead of hitting close, I hit publish. Oops. So those of you that read via Feedly, you got a "404 No Content" problem.

Hey look! He's not derpy!

Liam is not registered... yet.

I know, I know. "You bought him unregistered?!" Yes, I did. I did my homework first though, I contacted Westfalen NA and asked exactly what they needed to register him. He's eligible- mom and dad are both approved. I need to do a DNA kit, get an insemination certificate, get a foaling certificate, and bill of sale. Then he needs to go to inspection this summer for permanent identification, even though he's a gelding.

Maybe he's secretly a baby cow.

But all of that means... I get to officially name him!

Event Trainer was going to call him Lawless because he broke all the foaling rules before he was born and probably shouldn't be alive.

The breeder that handled his foaling and young horse care tried to breed a full sibling- she ordered more Lordanos semen and the mare didn't catch, so she was unable to produce a full sibling. That made me go back to the suggestion of Limited Edition.

Horse vs ball standoff

I'm not really sold on either of those, so here are the rules:
  • The name can be a word or series of words, but the first letter MUST be an L.
  • No love themed names (Lover, Lover Boy, etc)
  • Preferred: Not an overused name. Would love something that starts with Lord.

SO ITCHY

Suggestions so far:

    Lawless
    Limitless
    Limited Edition
    Lord of Letters
    Lord of Logic
    Limerick
    Lumiere
    Lucid Dreamer

Umm, you're two. Why are you so beefy?
Also, his hind end belongs to a different horse than his front end. I'm hoping since his thick legs seem to match his bum, the front end will grow soon.

"Funny but we're not using them" suggestions:
    Lunch Meat
    Lunch Box
    Lunchable
    Liverwurst
    Lord Beefcake

That white nose stands out!
He isn't food aggressive at home, but he was at the breeder's.

Lawless has quite a few horses in the USEF, Limitless has even more, and Limited Edition has A TON. Enough to make me not want to use it.

I'm keeping 'Liverwurst' for when he's bad, Event Trainer and I both think it's hysterical.

Where did my floaty horse go? He's probably tired from a long day making new friends and playing!

So blog land, give me some fancy word sequences that start with L!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Liam is Home!

Liam is home!!!

Unsure about his life.

It was rather... exciting? The trip rattled him A LOT and we had a mishap in the trailer during unloading. Everyone is fine, except the trailer... Note: Liam will double barrel kick when scared. Do not stand behind him.

He walked off the trailer like a gentleman, despite being visibly upset and soaked with sweat. There is no media, sorry people. Unloading him safely was first priority. He walked around the parking lot like a gem, and then very cautiously walked into the barn. He was surprised by the concrete floor and then the other horses (concrete floors are VERY distracting). He became instant best friends with one of the horses he shares a wall with, a Dutch Warmblood who is also chestnut and very chromey.

So sweaty.

Of course at this point, I am FREAKING OUT. "What have I done?!" went through my head multiple times- I just took possession of a 2 year old who is large and rude and will double barrel kick. I was panicking that I'm in over my head with a baby horse, and we haven't done anything yet! This was on top of the "new mom" emotions that go something like this: "OMG it's like a new baby, 'here you go, make sure it grows up healthy and well mannered!' and they hand you the horse and drive away!" #responsibilities

I took Madonna for a quick spin while Liam settled- which he did beautifully. After sniffing both neighbors, he settled in to eat hay long before I went out to ride. He did scream a small amount- he's got such a high pitched whinny! It's very baby like. It stopped when no one answered him, all of the other horses were too busy stuffing their faces with hay.

Alert!

After the indoor cleared out, I pulled Liam back out in a rope halter and 12' cowboy lead rope to go walk around- if he was going to try to get away from me, I'd have 12' before he managed it, plus closed arena doors. I also put on my helmet. I felt like a proper pony clubber! (even though I only did one year of pony club)

Everything is an adventure for him! Walking out of the stall onto concrete. Looking at the forge. Looking at the sink. Looking at the other horses. OMG look the concrete becomes dirt. OMG there's THINGS in the dirt. Mounting block. Poles. Cavaletti blocks. A pole WITH FLOWERS IN IT. Muck buckets. Chairs.

He was SUPER.

The first thing I did was try to get his focus on me, even though he'd only been on the farm for 2.3 seconds. I couldn't even walk him around because his shoulder kept coming over me and he was puffing up... and well, he's way too big for that. He'd clobber me if he decided to bolt. Something I learned from the Friesian I vetted is a spot on the chest to make them back up: where the neck comes into the chest, make a C with your hand a poke the horse right there, with the curve of the C going around the neck where it attaches into the chest. I've found a very light poke will cause a correct reaction in most horses.

So I'd stop walking, he'd keep going and walk into the rope halter, and I'd poke my hand into his chest right there. He'd stop immediately and swing his head back to look at me. I'd then make him back up by poking him until he had an eye solidly on me, and give him a big scratch on the neck and tell him he was so smart. I'd take the same C shape and poke him in the neck when he'd throw his neck at me. It took 5 min tops for me to easily get his attention for at least 5 seconds, and he'd respond immediately to my prompts to pay attention, even if I had to lather, rinse, repeat every five seconds. Eventually I didn't feel unsafe walking next to him.

Next we investigated THE THINGS. He's rather brave for a baby horse who had his world turned upside down. Maybe that has to do with a baby horse's curious nature?

Very scary.

The first thing we investigated was the pole raised on cavaletti with fake flowers in it. Liam snorted and thought about leaving, but I held my ground and walked towards it a second time and gave him tons of scratches and reassurance. He did some side stepping and hid behind me at one point (a boarder who does a lot of more advanced groundwork went in with me to help me keep my brain in my skull said that), but eventually dove into the flowers like a kid doing a cannonball into a pool. My brain quickly changed gears to "OH GOD, DON'T EAT THEM! I've only had you for a few hours, NO EMERGENCY VET VISIT!" But he's a good baby who doesn't feel the need to mouth everything in sight yet, so he smelled the shit out of every fake flower bunch on the pole before swinging his head back around to me and putting his nose on my chest for scratches.

The rest of our short indoor adventure went a lot like that. I'd decide where we would walk to, doing focus checks every 3 seconds, and giving lots of scratches and encouragement. He is SO BRAVE and so curious. He'd look to me for encouragement and then investigate everything with his nose before coming right back for more scratches and reassurance. He hid behind me many more times. We were only in there for 10ish minutes, because I started having trouble getting his focus back and he'd been very good.

OMG THAT FACE.
New media is required of it, stat.

By the time he got back to his stall, his eye was very soft and his posture more relaxed. He started doing the snuggly things I loved about him: making faces when I scratched all the itchy spots on his chest, neck and whithers (he got rocking and nearly pushed me over when I scratched his chest), and sniffing people faces and blowing air into said faces. There were 4 of us cuddling him and he seemed to think it was divine. There is zero mouthiness to the face sniffing, he just gets right up in there to properly snuffle you.

Our little indoor arena adventure and post adventure cuddling reminded me of why I liked him so much and I instantly felt better about him. He is a thinking horse and very personable. His world was turned upside down, and an hour or so after arriving he was able to focus on me and even learn a little. After working him a little in hand, he was already less pushy in the stall and better about his feet not invading personal space. I want to carefully encourage his bravery and curiosity. I want him to feel capable of ANYTHING so he'll stand his ground when he's afraid. Hopefully that will be enough to keep those hind feet on the ground!

Husband and I planned a trip this upcoming weekend for our 6th anniversary, which unfortunately means leaving Liam for a few days (we planned it long before Liam was in the picture). The barn is also hosting a biomechanics and groundwork clinic this Saturday with an exceptional trainer. I talked to BO about handling Liam in the workshop afternoon session (the morning is a lecture) to get his groundwork going. She's handled a bunch of babies and started several, so he will be in good hands that can give me a lesson when I come back!

Me, for the last week!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

A New Adventure

I bought the 2 year old! (I actually didn't get to meet the OTTB, his owner sold him to a student before I could get there, which is totally fine. I'd assume a student buyer trumps a stranger buyer.)

Everyone, meet Liam!


Liam is an almost 2 year old Westfalen gelding by Lordanos and out of a Dutch Warmblood mare (he'll be 2 at the end of April). He was bred by Event Trainer, and that's the only reason I considered a horse this young. I know where he came from, all of his history and care, and he was carefully planned for and cared for.

He checks so many of the boxes for me: 3 solid gaits, snuggly like Penn, shares a birthday with Mikey, is chestnut, has all the chrome, and is the floaty warmblood I could never afford. Cue emotional crying, because that is what happened when I met him and he was like "HI, I LIKE SNUGGLES" and put his head on my shoulder for snuggles and scratches.

So much derp/awkward. He needs lessons on being photogenic, sorry bud. 🤷‍♀️ Probably comes with being a baby horse though.

The only things he didn't check were height and age. He sticked at 16.1h at his vetting, so I expect he's going to be 17.0-17.2 by the time he's done growing (and he needs to grow taller and wider, he looks like he's in a rather ugly growth spurt!). While that's much bigger than I prefer and was shopping for, he'll be an excellent size for me and hopefully I'll be super comfortable with it by the time he's ready to be backed and started. I'll have a year to get comfortable with him and learn about him, and maybe I won't notice him growing! He's younger than I wanted by a year, but he just ticked so many boxes for me that I figured I can do some delayed gratification. He's a possible long term partner- not something I ride to 3rd level and sell. That's worth waiting the year to ride him, and another year after that to really do something with him, I think.

A super wee belly spot!

I had to have a good long think when I considered him: what are my goals, how do I want to get there, and how long is an acceptable time frame to get there? Is some "delayed gratification" worth it?

  • Goal: FEI Dressage, ideally Grand Prix. I don't need to be winning or even competing in CDIs, but I'd be thrilled getting a 60 at GP at a national show.
  • How: Train a horse to Grand Prix because unless I win the Powerball, I'm not going to be able to buy a GP schoolmaster. I'd really love to not have to start over, AGAIN. Having started over from 3rd twice now, I'm getting tired of it!
  • Time frame: I'm not even sure. It's going to be a process of decades probably, especially if I'm rotating out horses, selling one to buy the next more talented horse. It will take even longer since I can only go for monthly lesson weekends. I'm a diligent student, but that's no substitute for weekly lessons.

Say I was able to buy, and did buy, the OTTB. He could do training level this year, and maybe in 4 years he'd be a solid 3rd level horse who can do 4-1 and can be called a 3rd Level Schoolmaster for someone who wants to learn the mid levels. Maybe the OTTB would be able to keep going up the levels, maybe he wouldn't. I would expect him to top out by PSG (doing the things and still getting 60%) if he can keep going. If he's not going to go further, I would sell and buy a more talented horse (hopefully). I redo training to third for another 4 years at least.


In 4 years, Liam will have just turned 6. I expect he'll be competent at first level, and schooling 2nd/3rd level work. I don't expect him to be further along than that because he is a big growing horse and is going to need time. I also do not expect him to top out at 3rd/4th, but only time will tell if he can handle pressure and can do the tempi work of the FEI levels (if he can piaffe and passage in any way, I consider that a bonus). I consider him a better risk than the other horses available to me at my budget, despite me having to wait for him to grow up. He's a possible very long term partnership, which is what I really want.

I feel very... blessed? Loved? -by my barn family. They are the true enablers of this adventure. Event Trainer for offering Liam at a price I can afford. My barn owner is gung ho about bringing a baby horse in. Other boarders have offered their horses to ride in the meantime: Our vet, who owns Madonna, for allowing me to ride her regularly. M offered her older, yet sassy mare, who is big moving and 17h tall so I can get used to the size, and so I have something to pony Liam from. Another boarder who offered her floaty mare so I can get used to riding floaty gaits before it's time to sit on Liam. Then the bunch of other green horses that need rides here and there. Event Trainer will help me start him. They are all the reason I can attempt this new adventure. I feel very lucky.


Is he the nicest baby horse out there? Of course not. Is he the nicest thing I could afford? You bet. He has acceptable minor flaws, and everything we xrayed at his PPE looked great and strong. He's super awkward right now, being a growing baby horse who also appeared to have hives when I saw him last. He'll be a great progression photo series!

I have super limited media of Liam right now because he's at a farm where I have to ask permission to come out (it's a private breeder's farm), and then someone usually hangs out with me while I visit him. Top that with a young horse who doesn't know how to stand still, with or without a person, and I have a camera roll full of super awkward pictures with airplane ears. That situation will be remedied in the next 2 weeks, he comes home Tuesday (aka today!)!

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Undecided

Alright all. Insanity. (there's a vote at the bottom).

Horse shopping continues, blogging stagnates, Dressage Cow remains wonderfully fun.

Oh hey, I never introduced her. This is Madonna, a 16 yr old APHA, also known as Dressage Cow. Her owner is letting me ride her whenever since the owner doesn't have time.

I've seen 3 more horses, vetting one.

Horse 7: Beautiful 4 yr old Canadian Warmblood relatively close to me. His background was a little mysterious- he came from Canada as a herd dispersal. Didn't matter to me: He was quiet, fun to ride, had a wonderful canter, and despite me communicating with him poorly that resulted in me scraping BOTH of my knees on the wall, he didn't get flustered. I was in love. He failed his vetting... I was heartbroken.

Horse 8: A super interesting cross (coming 4) that oozed serious dressage potential. He was out of budget, but a good home was more important. We talked price first, because I didn't want to go any further unless the seller could meet my budget. That worked out, they put him back to work so I could come try him. I didn't shop or try anything for the couple weeks between horse 7 and this horse because I was so burnt out from shopping. Long story safe for the internet: I made some riding errors, his owners made errors, and the story ends with me hitting the ground HARD. Despite having the entirety of it on video, no one can figure out what caused the bucking fit that dumped me.

Horse 9: This one isn't ruled out yet, but he's kind of the back up plan. 6 year old RPSI that's getting back to work so I can come back and try him out. I texted his owner ringside from horse #8 and said I'd be passing by that afternoon and could I stop by. Cute (but needs TLC), sweet, laid back. Probably not enough hutzpah to go above 3-1, but should be safe and would make a nice resale project. He's a several week long wait though. After the last out of work/put back to work horse dumped me, I'm leery of horses not in active work.

Took the cow on a short trail ride last weekend. 

I'm heading back out this weekend to see two more horses, a 2 yr old warmblood and a 6 yr old OTTB. I have a feeling that I am nearing "the end" of the search now that I'm looking at thick OTTBs too, which is really the only reason I'm saying anything about these guys before I see them:

  • 6 yr old OTTB- he looks more like a warmblood than TB and seems great. My favorite size too, 16.1ish. I'm excited about him. I could show him training level dressage almost immediately based on his videos. Barring something hidden in a PPE and if he can tolerate pressure, it doesn't look like there's any reason he couldn't do at least 3rd/4th.
  • The 2 year old comes from a very specific set of circumstances that do not need to be defined for the internet, and they are the only reason I am considering him. He comes from good circumstances. He should be ready to back in the fall after a spring and summer of routine, manners, tack wearing, long lining, and in hand travel to different places. And by "back" I don't mean work. I mean, back as in, put a person on him before he's even bigger and make sure he's comfortable with that walking around. I wouldn't plan on actually doing anything with him until spring 2020. He should be a NICE horse. A possible upper level prospect if he can handle pressure. I just have to wait a year-ish to ride him. If he ends up too much horse for me, he should be relatively easy to resell. I can ride dressage cow for free for as long as I want, and take her places, so that's not even an issue.

I think I'll end up picking one of these guys. I feel like it's a choice of real talent with a small wait vs moderate talent available immediately. My long term brain says if I love both, pick the 2 year old. Instant gratification of course says, pick the 6 year old. They are essentially the same price. What would you do?

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Update 2: I Don’t Love Horse Shopping But I Do Love Canada

Alright, so this is going to be a bit out of order because I did go to CA for a Mary Wanless Instructor Training at the end of January/beginning of February, but I just went to Canada last weekend and wanted to write about that first while everything is still fresh (everything for Mary is written down and still simmering, lol).

I’ve been horse shopping since the start of January. As of now: I’ve seen 5 horses, vetted one unseen, vetted one of seen horses, fallen off once, been to Canada to shop, and have countless videos and pictures etc. I’ve had several be sold before I could get to see them.

Since I can't share sale horse pictures, this post will have a ton of pictures of Niagara Falls!

I don’t want to go into too much detail on any of the horses because as far as I know, they’re all still for sale. Of the seen and unseen:

  • Horse 1 (seen): Coming 4 year old that’s a unique, interesting, and nice cross that should have been a moderately expensive cross. I found out why he was inexpensive- the colt starter that did his base training did a really poor job and his owners aren’t equipped to deal with him. This one jumped out from under me while I was swinging a leg over mounting, therefore I ate dirt. Eating dirt wasn’t what made me pass on him- I got back on, or rather made it completely on. He must have been ridden in draw reins, because he tucks his chin into his chest and doesn’t go forward. He tucked it harder when I put leg on. He is a reactive and unconfident horse that tends to be spooky then bolty, but not forward thinking and needs a complete restart. That is what made me pass. I know I could do it, but I worried what would happen when I made a mistake, because I know I will as a rider. I am sad for him, but his owner is a lovely person who will make sure he’s taken care of.
  • Horse 2 (seen): I LOVED him. 8 Year old OTTB, built uphill, his back and hips were even and not dropped on one side, good brain, nice personality, pretty and a unique color, pleasant to ride, should be super fun to bring along. And lame. He was slightly foot sore when I saw him (he’d had significant time off from an owner without time for him, and he’d had 3 rides back in work). No shoes, and it didn’t seem like there was a plan to put shoes on. I suspected front hoof issues because his feet are very underrun and flat, and he was foot sore after 3 rides. I couldn’t see how he could possibly have a positive or even neutral palmer angle. Passing on this one made me very sad.
  • Horse 3 (seen): 6 Year old Dutch Harness Horse. We didn’t even ask his owner to ride him after seeing him free lunge. He was way too much horse for me. The owner seemed relieved she wouldn’t have to ride him.
I have to say, I don't understand anyone who feels the desire to get anywhere near the falls in a boat or barrel. Standing next to this railing had my survival instincts on red alert and I felt a strong need to get away from the falls.
  • Horse 4 (unseen): 4 Year old warmblood/draft cross that looked well put together. He was far enough away that I wanted to vet first, then go see him with the trailer. I don’t think I’ll do that again! Long story short, he has eye issues that could lead to uveitis, if he hasn’t had a flare already, in addition to some possible foot issues. Not sure about the feet because we didn’t get far enough to look at those.
  • Horse 5 (seen): Also a horse I loved. A very nice horse, slightly out of budget but I think underpriced to right on target. Flashy 3.5 yr old that moved well, was very sound, wonderful brain, snuggle bug, not started but ready to be sat on. He checked all the boxes and looked like he’d be a super fun partner for dressage and non-dressage. He was a super resale prospect that would have provided a really healthy budget for my Silver/Gold horse if it turned out he wasn’t talented enough to go 3rd or above. He failed his vet check in spectacular fashion. Grade 4/5 sidebone on both sides of both fronts, with one of the sides being 5/5. He also had loose stifles and one had already developed a hook. The vet even confirmed he was sound at the moment, but most likely wouldn’t stay sound with the work I wanted to do. He also wouldn’t be a good resale horse.
  • Horse 6 (seen): We went to Canada to see an 8 year old American Warmblood. His videos looked great, and he was well represented by his owner and the videos (she properly lowered my expectations before I arrived by saying he can be spooky and naughty when he’s not in work, so she wasn’t sure how he’d act after 2 months of no work, but we’d find out together!). He has solid training, solid show experience, and a fun personality… and I just didn’t like riding him. We didn’t click. I didn’t even care about the small spooks he gave me, or the tiny porpoise moves he did into the canter. He just needs a confident leader who can sit up tall to keep him focused and it’s not even that hard to do. It was a long way to go for a simple “I didn’t click with him”. Maybe it’s me being mostly unfit while trying to change my bio-mechanics as a rider, and him being unfit too, but I struggled to ride him. Sure, I could tap into majority of his skills and get them done. Doesn’t change the fact I simply didn’t enjoy riding him.

I have one in some weird limbo where his owner is trying to get him handled again so he’s not feral for when I visit, and to make sure he remembers he’s a riding horse so I can actually try him out. There are some other beasties in the early stages of fishing for information and media. For the most part, I’m basically numb to the horse search and to the “I’ll never find a horse” feeling. Something I learned after trying to vet a horse unseen: don’t be so eager about any horse you do something stupid. There will ALWAYS be another horse, even if you don’t see him right now.

So much ice on EVERYTHING!

After seeing Horse 6, I asked a friend if I was being too picky because I felt like I had no real good reason to not like Horse 6. She said “No! You’re basically shopping for a spouse. It has to be the right fit.” I agree with that… I’m speed dating for a spouse who isn’t going to financially support himself. I better really like him!

I reflected on Penn and the trip I took to see him. I liked riding him, I liked his personality, and I just liked everything about him except he felt small. Feeling small was not a good enough reason to skip out on him, so we went forward with that and you all know how that worked out. For better or worse, Penn was a GREAT find and while I don’t regret giving him away, it has been made abundantly clear how difficult he will be to replace.

Panorama of the Horseshoe Falls

Despite my mixed feelings about the horse I saw in Canada, I loved Canada! Well, I can only speak to the 5 hours or so of Ontario that I drove through, but still.

Everyone is exceedingly nice. That goes for everywhere, by the way. Apparently when roads have a speed limit of 100 km/hr, they’re just suggestions. I was going 120 km/hr around the “Golden Horseshoe” (the half circle around the west most edge of Lake Ontario from the USA at Buffalo to Toronto). Despite being LAPPED at 20 km/hr over the speed limit, every driver was exceedingly polite. I was never cut off or run off the road or pushed around. When we came back into the USA into New York, I was being pushed around and cut off again. Everyone we talked to (hotel, restaurants, and the horse’s owner) were helpful, polite, and easy going.

I finally got to try poutine!

Around the western end of Lake Ontario seems to be one giant continuous city. We saw numerous groups of skyscraper-esk buildings grouped together... only to find out that they were not office buildings, but apartments and condos. It seems like the cities are trying to cram most of Ontario's population in right next to the lake. We were set to take the 407 around Toronto, but from what we could figure, it was around 0.25 USD per km, and we were supposed to be on there for 61 miles... so I figured out we could take 403 and 401 instead. Wee, new country? No problem, I'll make my own directions!

I also have a new love for Tim Hortons! It's probably sad I've developed a love for it, but I don't care. It’s a good thing there are no Tim Hortons near me though!

Turkey BLT with wedge fries.
Totally didn't know the side dishes for Tim Hortons are different from location to location. I had a wonderful blueberry muffin from the Tim Hortons at Niagara Falls!
Timbits are right up there with donut holes from Dunkin Donuts! AND I even liked the coffee (I'm not a huge coffee drinker). Mom said it was really strong... maybe that's why I liked it? No idea, but it was good!

We stopped by Niagara Falls, Ontario on the way home. We decided even though it was a 9 hour drive home with stops, we'd stop to see the falls because we were so close and the horse was a no go. We were also hungry for lunch by that point, so we thought we'd try to have lunch overlooking the falls. It ended up taking us 11 hours to get home with our side trip, but we didn't care. The falls were worth it!

The Canada side of the falls are definitely the side to see the falls from.


The horse shopping continues...