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Sierra In Training | Week 1 Update

As mentioned in my last post, my trainer CA picked up Sierra on Monday morning and took her down to her barn for an undetermined amount of time to get to know her and give her a little tune-up.  When I last left off, Sierra was on the road and I was a nervous wreck as she zoomed down the highway in subzero temperatures that hovered around -40 C (same in F, apparently).  Luckily her route was a busy divided highway and CA managed to secure a second horse from a nearby barn to take for training as well, so Sierra had a buddy in the trailer to not only keep her company but also add to some extra body heat.  CA came well prepared in the event of a roadside emergency and naturally, folded neatly in my two giant pink totes was an arsenal of medications, feeds, blankets and so on.  I was sure they would make the 5.5 hour journey without issue, but I also recognized that if something went wrong, it was literally the worst possible weather for it to happen in short of a snow storm on top of those temperatures.  

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Take me back to riding this chonky hippo in the summer sun

Although CA and I chat frequently, I was reluctant to message her while she was enroute as to not distract her - she had precious cargo on board after all!  Finally, just after 4:00 PM my brain was eased and she let me know that they arrived safe and sound at the barn near Gibbons, Alberta.  I had shipped Sierra in a 300G Stable Blanket with a hood to keep her clipped areas covered and I thought that was my safest bet, however CA hadn't realized her travelling companion was loaded by the barn owner with her full turn out gear on, which included 3 blankets.  Needless to say, she was quite sweaty upon arrival and although Sierra was just described as "a little warm, but not sweating" CA opted to get them set up in stalls for the night to allow them to be dry and comfortable, and for their blankets to dry as well.  She sent me a very cute video of Sierra in her stall looking tired and a little unsure of her surroundings, but content nonetheless.  CA advised me that unlike her travelling buddy, Sierra settled in with ease. She immediately took a big drink and dug into her hay, while the other horse circled her stall, screaming and refusing food or water.  CA opted to make them a hot, soupy beet pulp mash and Sierra showed her true colours by ensuring her entire face was sufficiently covered in mash, and luckily her pony-friend couldn't say no to the offering and began to settle.  I was really pleased to hear Sierra was happy in the stall. I have only stalled her twice; the first time was excellent, and the second time (when she had ulcers) she lost her absolute noodle and hadn't been stalled since.  By now, CA was exhausted and fried from teaching a 3-day clinic in insane temperatures and driving through winter conditions so she got the horses settled, unpacked and headed home to put her feet up and catch her breath for a bit.  She had advised me she would touch base after her night check in a few hours.  She lives on sight, which is fantastic and reassuring for me since I am evidently uneasy about sending Sierra out.

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One of my all-time favorite pictures of her. Seriously, it's on my wall in my office lol.

When I heard from CA later that evening, she told me how much she loves OTTB's for their previous stalling experience. Though her buddy had settled some, she was still uneasy while Sierra was covered in shavings which indicated she had, at the very least, had a good roll and was standing quietly taking a nap at the back of her large 12 x 14 stall.  The next morning Sierra was turned out into a large group paddock with 2 other horses and it was very uneventful, though she's still flying solo on the outskirts of the established mare and gelding pair.  There is another gelding who lives in that pen who is supposedly really annoying, but he is currently in a stall due to the weather.

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Following her turn out the next morning, I had caught my own breath and began to relax, although after reviewing the weather forecast for the coming days, CA informed me that all her horses are on days off until * at least * Saturday.  Part of me is bummed, but more importantly i'm pleased that she is putting the horses needs first.  Even in a heated indoor, when temperatures are sitting around -50C during the day (-58F), it's just too hard on everyone. The footing gets hard and compacted, the steam and moisture in the air is hard on lungs and horses need * several * hours inside to ensure they are completely dry and at a normal body temperature before being turn out.  It's just a bad time all around.  Nothing good comes from this weather. Nothing.

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First ride in our "Trust" bit. It was great for a while but Sierra is starting to take advantage of it, so CA is going to try a few different ones and see if we can find out what she likes.

The only reason i'm a little disappointed in the situation (not at CA in specific, just the weather) isn't because Sierra will need to stay a week longer to make up for 'missed time', or because she's going to sit in a pen for a week doing nothing (because that's all she's been doing here), but rather because we decided to enter Sierra in a show on January 25th.  As previously mentioned, Showing and Trail Riding were two big issues I really wanted help with solving in 2020, so it was a huge 'plus' if the opportunity arose for either of those during her time with a trainer.  The show was not cheap to enter, and now CA is going to have less than 1 week on her before they go.  It's at a different venue and she will be stalling Friday night as her classes are Saturday morning.  We decided to get the stall to do everything in our power to set her up for success, but now having not even 5 rides prior to it is throwing a serious wrench in that thought process.  Along with stalling Friday Night, we also bought a Friday Night riding pass so at least she can school her in the ring before the show the next day.  CA is certain it's going to be fine and I trust her confidence, but I am so anxious about it.  Regardless, next week the weather is supposed to drastically improve and CA mentioned she may even have an opportunity to take her on a trail ride so it's shaping up to be a very eventful week that is sure to have me spiraling with worry!

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Wild beast

My intention is to post weekly updates and CA assures me she is very good at sending regular pictures and videos.  This one is obviously a bit early given that she just arrived there late Monday afternoon, but it's shaping up to be a very uneventful week so I figured I would prematurely post. 

I love CA as a coach, but this is an entirely new avenue of our relationship now (horse care, training, etc) so in some ways I feel like I just met her for the first time. We have some growing pains to work out as we learn to work together in this new dynamic. Regardless, so far i'm really happy with what i'm seeing in horsemanship and general care.  She has assured me she will have her working student video her classes at the show and I just hope that even if she's bad, CA manages to stay on and not get hurt because she has to ride in the 2'0 Division on Travelling Buddy, coach the 2'3 - 3'0 divisions, then ride her own horse in the 1.15 the next day.  One would assume you'd survive fine in some flat classes, but Sierra has proven otherwise on multiple occasions, so I guess time will tell!  Initially I thought she had entered the flat class in 4 of the Hunter Divisions, but I recently found out she entered the Trot Pole division as it worked better for her schedule between riding and coaching.  The Trot Pole Division includes 1 flat class and 3 courses of poles.  I'm anxiously awaiting the week ahead!


  1. I felt the same way the last time I sent one for training, coincidentally also in mid winter in Alberta <3
    I'm sure everything will go just fine. Even if it's not all smooth sailing, that's just an opportunity for her to learn, especially given you've got a pro on board :)

  2. That is a bummer about winter weather getting in the way of the planned show :(

    1. Oh she's still going, but I wished she was able to get more time on her prior! Just going to wing it at this point!


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