Maremma Mondays

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Ayla has been keeping herself busy with the ending of summer and with Fall drawing nearer. She’s typically either nibbling on an apple that she plucked off the tree or snoozing in remaining patches of sun when it’s not raining.

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Enjoying her freshly picked apple
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Enjoying her freshly picked stick off of the apple tree

I finally had some time the other day to take some pictures of Ayla wearing her new “designer” collars. I got her a couple of adorable collars a few weeks ago, but I hadn’t actually taken any pictures of her wearing them.

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I think it’s a bit frivolous for a farm dog who basically stays at home 24/7 to have pretty collars, but then again, both Ayla and I are a little bit frivolous.

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“Who? Me?”

I tried to account for Ayla’s fluff with the collars and ordered them wider than traditional ones, but her fuzz does a pretty good job of managing to hide the collars.

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She doesn’t seem to mind, however, and appears to quite like her decorative grab holders.

 

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Privilege

It’s been several days since I’ve been back from my ‘Maritime adventure’ with my brother, and I’m still settling in to the familiar swing of things at home. Every once in a while I pause and think how strange everything seems now. Just a few days ago I was on the opposite side of the country, experiencing and seeing things that I honestly never thought I would, and now, I’m back home. I’m home, doing my same routine, and although everything appears to be the same, I somehow feel that it is different.

My little away trip has given me a new perspective on my life, I can’t quite pinpoint what exactly has changed, but I seem to be looking at everything in a new light, like I am just really seeing it for the first time.

It even seems that I have a slightly different perspective on riding. I’ve been to the barn several times since I’ve been back, and I relish every moment I’m with Hope, as if I went months without seeing her, or riding, rather than just a week.

When I was riding yesterday, and I looked around at all the other people and horses in the barn, I was again struck with the feeling of what a strange and marvelous life we horse people live. I’ve often thought how strange it is for humans to ride and work with horses, and for them to allow us to do so, but yesterday, my feelings were a little more profound.

As Hope and I cantered around the ring, her leaping strides swelling up underneath me like the waves of the Atlantic ocean that I watched in Prince Edward Island, I realized how immensely privileged I am.

In that moment, it didn’t matter that I don’t have the fanciest horse, or the most expensive equipment; the only thing that had any meaningful importance was that I was riding my horse, that I have the opportunity and means to do so, and that I will, if God means it to be so, continue to ride.

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A picture of a rose in Hope’s mane, for no particular reason.

I realized how incredible it is that I am even able to sit upon a horse, let alone be able to call her mine. As I looked at the other people around me, I saw some were rushed, some were angry, some were yelling, some were complaining, and very few looked genuinely happy.

They seemed to have forgotten the privileged life that they were surrounded in, and looked to be simply taking it, and the horses as well, for granted. I don’t want to generalize, but I have noticed that people who are born into the horse world, who have parents who ride, or whose parents are trainers and perhaps own their own stable, they seem to take their horses and riding opportunities for granted.

I can hardly blame them, because if an opportunity is always available, it would be easy to take it for granted. I have watched as children of trainers seem, not ungrateful, but unappreciative of the opportunities they have, and of the horses available to them to ride. I have witnessed this many times while in the position of the ‘unseen’ barn worker, quietly mucking out stalls while I see a trainer’s child seem indifferent to an opportunity to ride a new horse, whereas I would have been ecstatic to get half of what they had available to them.

As I was riding Hope yesterday, I realized that it is all in a person’s perspective of what is ‘normal’ and what is worthy of getting ecstatic over. Although someone whose parent is a trainer or a breeder may be unimpressed by what I have and the opportunities that are available to me, a child who only dreams of getting to ride a horse, and barely believes it possible that he or she could ever own a horse, would consider me to be the luckiest person on earth.

Touch of Class Dressage Show 2018

I hope that I never become so familiar in the horse world to lose sight of that childlike enthusiasm, or become so close-minded and unable to see the big picture that I take my life, and my horses, for granted.

It’s a privileged life that I live, and I’m so very thankful and grateful for it, and for every horse in my life.

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PEI Trip – Last Day

The last day of our summer getaway was just as perfect as I could hope for. We spent most of the morning biking on the confederation trail. We headed out in the opposite direction of where we went yesterday.

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We didn’t have any particular destination, we just hopped on our bikes and started peddling. We only went for two hours as we had to be back in Charlottetown for a sailing tour.

During our brief exploration of some of the south/east side of the confederation trail we saw scenic birch forests, fields filled with colourful wildflowers, and rolling hills in the distance. It really was stunning, and I found myself enjoying every minute of it.

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On our way back, we even got to see a fox. I spotted its slim frame as we went cruising by a field with horses in it. We stopped to admire him, but he bounded off before I had a chance to take a picture of him. His orangey-red coat ruffled in the wind, and his short, broad ears perked towards us. I’d never seen a fox so close before, in fact, I’d only seen a wild fox once before at all. I was hoping to see a fox one day while my brother and I were on Prince Edward Island, it seems fitting that we were able to see one on our last day on the island.

When we got back to Charlottetown we headed out on the sailing tour. We went to the yacht club to meet the captain, Captain Kurt, and soon we were out on the water.

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My brother and I sat at the very front of the boat while we left the harbour, and we enjoyed getting the full experience of the boat swaying and leaping underneath us and the waves slapping against the sides of the boat.

After we had gotten thoroughly soaked by a couple of large waves, we moved further down the boat and enjoyed the wind whipping against us and the occasional spray of salt water.

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We didn’t end up seeing any whales or other sea mammals, but we still had lots of fun. When we had made our way back to the dock, actual salt granuals had appeared on our skin where the ocean water had splashed against us.

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We finished off the day by eating at the restaurant that we had liked the most, and we were fortunate enough to arrive there just as one of the local bands were setting up to play. We enjoyed our dinner with upbeat jazz music playing around us. It sounded like the type of music that you would hear at the end credits of a movie, which felt strangely fitting.

This last day, at the risk of sounding cliche, feels bittersweet. I’ve loved the time that I have been able to spend in PEI, but I’m so excited to be shortly able to see my horses, and Ayla.

Goodbye Prince Edward Island.

PEI Trip – Victoria

Today was quite the epic adventure. Today was set aside for my brother and me to bike to Victoria, which is a cute little fishing village that takes about fourty minutes to get to in a car. Google Maps listed the estimated time to get there as two and a half hours by bike.

We were both game to spend five hours biking, especially considering most of it would be done on the flat confederation trail, and the rest done on dirt heritage roads with just a small amount of actual road riding.

We started off on the confederation trail in Charlottetown first thing in the morning (it seems like everyday starts early in the morning for us).

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Our first stretch of cycling was very pleasent, the weather was perfect for biking, being a cooler overcast day, and the flat trail made for easy peddling. Fellow early morning people smiled as we passed and warmly called out “good morning”.

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When we reached the street where we would turn off of the trail, we had been cycling for fourty minutes and we both still felt refreshed and like we hadn’t done any work. An excellent start to our day!

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Our first stretch of road riding involved some light hills, and then we turned onto our first heritage road. It looked to be an adorably quaint red dirt road, like something right out of one of the Anne of Green Gables books.

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And then, the road kept going, and going, and then there was a hill, and another hill, and then a bigger hill, and then the nice smooth dirt road changed into a rocky, mountainous road that would have made any mountain biker feel at home.

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To make a somewhat trying situation worse, the “cute” heritage road turned into a slightly less appealing dark path lined with spraling trees, and just as I was happily thinking to myself how glad I was that there aren’t any large predators on the island that could eat us, my brother came screeching up behind me and squeaked out in a voice that sounded like it should have come from me, “there’s something back there! It growled at me!”. Even though there are only supposed to be foxes and coyotes on PEI, my brother thought otherwise, saying that “it was a little growl that sounded like it came from something big”. I don’t think I really believed him, but the woods already looked a little spooky, so we pushed on without stopping (hence why I have no pictures of that stretch).

There were no houses or any form of civilization along this road, and we had even lost use of our trusty phones as there was no cell service or internet connection.

After a dreadfully long time, we came across our first sign of civilization, two horses standing in a field who looked like they were wondering what a couple of humans were doing on an otherwise deserted road.

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An hour after this, we finally reached Victoria. The trip there took a little over three and a half hours, and after we had lunch at a restaurant situated right on the end of the dock, and then poked around the village, we mounted our bikes once more and started our return trip to Charlottetown.

We decided to take a different route on our way home, and went completely on civilized, paved roads.

In the end, our supposedly fairly easy ride turned into an epic seven hour adventure. In a weird, grueling way, the entire day was a lot of fun. I’m happy we did it, although I don’t think I would ever want to do that route again, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else, but I still had fun.

I guess that’s all that matters. Even unpleasant situations can be made pleasent if you’re having fun; and today, that’s exactly what happened.

PEI Trip – Cavendish

Today was interesting, to say the least. I think I’d categorize the day as an adventure, or perhaps an experience. Whatever the correct term is, my brother and I had that kind of day today.

We once again headed out bright and early to grab breakfast before we caught the bus to Cavendish. Google Maps decided that it would be a good idea to give us the wrong directions of how to get to the cafe we were planning to go to. I know I saw the cafe around somewhere in our wanderings yesterday, but the thing seemed to have disappeared.

We decided to go the cafe that was just a few doors down from where Google told us we would find the cafe where I had originally wanted to go to.

We had a lovely breakfast at the Kettle Black, consisting of very tasty scrambled egg burritos, and the best chai tea latte I have ever had.

With breakfast finished, we grabbed our rental bikes and hopped on the bus. My brother and I were clueless as to how to put our bikes on the bus’ bike rack, but the driver didn’t seem to mind and happily helped.

We got dropped off at the Anne of Green Gables Heritage Place, and our bus driver wished us well, and offered to give us his phone number so that we could call him if we decided to change the place where we got picked up or if we had any questions or trouble finding the stop. The general kindness and willingness to help of everyone we have met so far in the Maritimes really astounds me. Everyone is so nice here. People who we pass on the street always smile and say hello, anyone we sit next to always has something nice to say, shop owners are welcoming and are always eager to recommend other notable places to visit, and even the bus drivers are nice! Bus drivers in BC will rarely pause to wait at a stop for you, even if they see you madly running towards them, let alone offer to give you their phone number so that you could call them with any questions!

But, I’m getting sidetracked.

We spent most of the morning exploring the Anne of Green Gables place. It’s a cute little area, and it is the actual property where Lucy Maud Montgomery lived. Although, none of the buildings are original.

We had a pleasant time wandering through the “haunted wood” and “lovers lane”, which were filled with blue jays, chipmunks, and an absurd amount of crickets. We then took a quick walk through the recreated Green Gables house.

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The haunted wood

Our next stop, the beach! A short twenty minute bike ride brought us to the mixture of red and white sands of Cavendish beach. This beach is particularly incredible because of the sand dunes that frame it in.

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Our itinerary had calculated that we would only spend a little over an hour and a half here, and that we would spend the rest of the day biking to and exploring the Anne of Green Gables Museum (which is about an hour and a half bike ride away). But when we got to the beach, it was so beautiful and the water was so inviting that we decided to not go to the second Green Gables museum, and would instead spend more of our time at the beach. Suddenly deciding to change plans isn’t something that I normally (ever) do, so this was quite a spontaneous thing for me to do, and felt like an experience all in itself.

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We walked for fourty minites along the shore, away from the main people gathering area, and found a charming stretch with mountenous dunes behind it and not another person in sight.

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After we had satisfied ourselves with plunging around in the water and chilling on the sand, we retraced our steps to go to Avonlea Village.

We enjoyed pizza at Piatto Pizzeria (which was the most amazing pizza I have ever had) and also tried some of the famous COWS ice cream, which was delicious.

We then hopped on our bikes and started to peddle to the place where the bus would pick us up. Two minutes away from our destination, my brother announced that one of his tires had got a flat. No biggie, we’d just patch it up with the repair kit that the bikes came with. But, the nozzle on the air pump didn’t match the nozzle on the bike!

We discovered this after my brother had pulled the tire off of the bike. So, we stuck the tire back on and pushed it up the hill to our stop (whoever said that PEI is flat is a liar).

I called the shop that we rented the bikes from and explained our predicament, and apparently we’re idiots because the pump can convert into the correct type. The bike mechanic walked us through how to change the pump to the right one that would be compatible with the bike. He apologized that the pump wasn’t already set up for us, apparently it was supposed to be.

As my brother and I were repairing the tire, we found the culprit of the puncture, a tiny nail.

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How in the world did my brother manage to run over this thing?

In the end, everything worked out. We were able to get the pump switched around and fix the tire, and we did not have any major disasters.

I experienced the spontaneity of suddenly changing plans, and my brother and I learned how to repair a flat bike tire and convert an air pump from one kind of nozzle to another kind (that sentence should tell you how much I know about bikes).

Onto a new day, and more adventures!

PEI Trip – Charlottetown

Today my brother and I spent our time exploring Charlottetown. Although our hotel is located in Charlottetown, most of our days are filled with exploring other areas, so I decided to set aside a whole day dedicated to exploring the quant town that we get to temporarily call “home”.

After a hearty breakfast at Casa Mia Cafe, complete with hashbrowns made from thick cut PEI potatoes (a very tasty culinary experience!), we went to some of the local churches.

The large and grand St. Dunstan’s Basilica was first on our list; it’s magnificent architecture and stunning stained glass windows didn’t disappoint.

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As we were headed to our next destination, St. Peter’s Cathedral, a nearby church bell rang throughout the streets, seemingly welcoming the morning (and us aswell) to Charlottetown.

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We then spent the morning wandering through Victoria Park and touring Beaconsfield Historic House and Government’s House.

Both Beaconsfield and Government’s House were really neat to see, the decorations and furniture are really interesting and beautiful. The houses were even decorated with william morris wallpaper, a favorite of my mum. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to live in that era (the 1870s).

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The most memorable part of the day was having an impromptu tour, and best of all, it involved horses.

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We went on a guided tour of Charlottetown in a horse drawn carriage. Finally having contact with horses after a shocking three and a half days without being around any horses was wonderful.

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This evening my brother and I are going to the Guild to see the Anne and Gilbert musical. I’ve really been looking forward to seeing this, the reviews are really good and the music is supposed to be very “maritimey”. We’re heading out shortly, so I’ll sign off now to spend the rest of the day enjoying Charlottetown and the maritime experience.

PEI Trip – North Rustico

Some days just seem so wonderfully perfect that you’re left wondering if it actually happened. For my brother and me, today was one of those days.

We woke up early to catch the bus that goes to North Rustico, which, after sleeping in a bed for the first time in what feels like a week (but was only two nights) we awoke feeling ready to tackle the day ahead. Even though we ended up only getting about 6 hours of sleep because of how late the bus got us to our hotel the night before, it felt like I had the best night’s sleep I’d ever had.

We arrived in North Rustico early in the morning, way before any other people were around. We had the wharf to ourselves, and watching the rising sun sparking off the water was simply breathtaking.

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After we had contented ourselves with watching the fishing and touring boats popping about the harbour, and after sampling some of the goodies that the local bakery had to offer, we headed down the boardwalk to our next stop, a place that offers sea kayaking tours.

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Kayaking in the ocean was amazing and oodles of fun. My brother and I went together in a tandem kayak, and our guide took us all around the bay.

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The waves jumped up and spashed the salty water all over us (who knew, the ocean actually tastes salty!), the tall sea grass floated along the water, and the various different bird bobbed around and watched us.

We spent the rest of the day exploring the North Rustico beach. In BC, the beaches are filled with foot slashing barnacles and pointy crabs, with almost no shore of empty sand. The North Rustico beach felt like quite an exotic treat for us because it was free of sharp living objects.

We walked down the beach to get away from the crowds of people (which was only about 15 individuals) and discovered that the sand slowly changed to smooth, rounded rocks. We clambered along them and spent some time relaxing on the flat rocks and watching the ocean crash below us.

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We finished the day with eating at a charming Lebanese restaurant. A perfect ending to a perfect day.