Sunday, November 30, 2014

Roscoe CANTERS!!!

I had an early Christmas gift, Roscoe cantered for me. And it was wonderful.
Today I was determined to ride and Mom was off too so we needed to take advantage of that. Luckily I was finally recovered from having to work at 430am on Black Friday. I could have gone my whole life without having that experience. But I guess it keeps me employed.
We decided against DaVinci and Winston since they have not had a trace clip yet. At 50 plus degrees it was too warm for them. That means the girls and the red boys. Well Dottie has not been informed it is past the time for being in season and has been teasing Roscoe. I did not want to ride him with her. So I said I would ride Roscoe first, then we could take the others out.
I went into the arena with the idea that we were cantering today. We walked around to see if mind was connected to body. Roscoe was aware of Dottie in the field above, but he was listening to me. I asked for trot and was happy with his energetic response. Without much fuss, I asked for canter. It required kissing, saying "canter" and a tap of the whip, but he did canter to the left. The gait was short lived due to the turn. That canter was so great and uphill.
 I changed to the other direction not expecting much since this is the direction he leans in on. With encouragement he picked up the same awesome canter. Then he surprised me by continuing through the turn and for another circuit. I kept one hand on the saddle horn and let him go where he wanted. Then I said "whoa" and he came down to walk and then halted. A total superstar. He never showed any stress or thoughts of misbehaving. Peggy said he looked like he thought "Oh we can do this together, cool." I did another left lead before finishing. He is not as confident to the left, but I was not pushing the issue today. As far as I was concerned, he did what I asked so he was done. Video here.
We also changed his nose band to a figure 8 and put real reins on his bridle. He was quieter with his mouth wearing the figure 8 and I was happier with real reins. Plus he looks so cute.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Prepping for Canter

So, now I will tell the story behind Wednesday's picture. Roscoe and I have made steady progress at trot. He still gets distracted in company, but we work through it. I even went for a ride on him bareback. That was a crazy, but fun ride. Roscoe is still a bit small for even my pony size pad. When I asked for trot, all that wonderful push he has combined with his wiggliness unbalanced me. Confused he just walked. I really had to melt around him and find my center. We both figured it out eventually, making the ride a success.
Over head view

One thing that has become apparent is that he needs a bigger bit. For now he inherited Rosemary's three piece loose ring. Can you believe he may need a bit bigger than 5in? Wednesday was his first ride with that bit. I put his western saddle on, just in case. Especially since the day was cool and he had not worked in a while. That turned out to be a sound decision because he was like a keg of dynamite, ready to go off at any moment. I did not know what the ride would entail. That kind of lightness is not the good kind. It was probably his most "Baby" like moments. At one point he spooked and nearly tipped me off his side. Gotta love narrow little boys. Then after that he seemed to find his brain and focus. Mom said it scared him straight.
Now that his brain was activated, he was a different pony. No more keg of dynamite. I asked him to trot and found he was less fussy with the new bit. Yay, that gives me time to figure out what bit he needs. I trotted him a few more times around and then went to chat with Mom. After the rough start, I was happy with the work he had done. Mom told me to try and get him to move on. When I ever decide to try for canter, I need to know he will respond to what I ask.

Trot left

He knows during ground work that "Trot on" means he needs to give bigger movement. So I used that term and kisses to get more out of him. From the beginning I have asked him nicely with leg once and then quickly followed with the whip if he does not respond. Cobs tend toward the lazy side and I don't want Roscoe to fall into that habit. To the left he felt amazing. He maintained the same impulsion and added forward. To the right, his bad side, he did not have as much forward. He still showed some response though.

trot right

The picture actually came about when I asked for trot to the right. He was slow responding to my leg causing me to go to the whip. A sharp tap resulted in that picture. To be honest, I had no clue what he had just done. Mom was taking video and told me after. The way he felt, I really wanted to try a canter. Unfortunately the gates were open, so it will be another day. Considering he did that canter step from a walk, I am excited to see what he gives.
And that is the story behind the canter step photo. One fabulous step in time :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014


Ah, it is that great time of the year when you have to let go of warmth. At least we have not had snow yet.  Due to the move we are a couple weeks late changing over the barn to winter status.

Winterizing for us includes the following:
1. Changing regular water buckets to heated buckets. Peggy and I had to figure out how to run the cords for each stall. Zip ties were are friends :)

2. Changing water troughs to heated muck buckets. Luckily Peggy had already run an extension to one area of the turn out, so that one was easy. The second bucket, we were able to use the extension cord used for the fan. The last bucket needed an extension cord too. Peggy found an old one strung up to power a winch they used for an old pony. A litter redirection and it worked for the muck bucket. Keeping them drinking is the number 1 factor we focus on.

4 years ago when Rosemary first came

3. Blankets, blankets and more blankets. My guys have a sheet, lite weight 100grm, mid weight 200grm and a heavy weight 300grm each. I am getting Peggy to blanket Sonny, her old guy, much more and to at least put a sheet on Comrade. Of course we have to fix blankets a lot too, thanks to Sonny.
Sonny vs blanket, obvious who won

45min of hard work

4. Adding wheat bran and salt to the horses food. During the winter we use hot water to warm the horses food which they absolutely love. Our teapot comes out during this time of the year. The wheat bran puts more fluid into their food and the salt encourages them to drink. Sonny gets 3-4 meals so he can maintain his weight during the winter.

5. Trace clips for anyone who needs it. So far I have Rosemary done.

6. This is a new one, Making drop down sides for the new run in shed. We got a 20x40 carport  with 8ft legs last week. They built it over the fence giving us 2 20x20 covers. Originally we were going to put kick boards on the inside and T1-11 on the outside. Then we found we liked the openness. So now we are putting mesh livestock fencing on the inside and will use tarp to make drop down sides for the outside to be used in the winter or bad weather.

Nice and airy

side view

Pony blockade after pictured pony went under the siding
So what do you do to get ready for winter? I wish I could get myself ready for it, but that will just take time. Stay warm!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Trail of Painted Ponies: Bingo

Bingo 1986-2011

Some horses come into our lives for a short time, but can affect us so much. Bingo was one of those special horses. He was a 16h Paint gelding that came to Peggy as a companion for Sonny after the loss of one of her horses. She had been in the right place at the right time. Bingo's owner knew a life unattended in a huge field was not the best for him and had decided to put him down. At 22 years old he needed more. When she made the call to the farm's owner, Peggy was there exercising horses. Since she needed a companion for Sonny, she offered to take him. His owner was so happy.
When I met Bingo, my first thought was "Oh boy he is a Paint." If you have ever been around a Paint, you know they have a special attitude that can mean trouble. My next thought was that he looked like a cartoon horse come to life. The main reason being his lips. They were really short compared to his head, like some cartoon horses. As a retired fox hunter, he had huge knees. We soon found he had a huge heart too. You could not help but smile at Bingo. When Rosemary foaled out at Peggy's, Bingo watched and he really wanted to meet Roscoe. It took Comrade opening the stall door before he got that chance though.
The big guy I thought of as a retired fox hunter, actually had an impressive history with a few gems. This helped me decide on his Painted Pony when Peggy lost him to laminitis September 2011.

"Carved in History"

Through his previous owner, Lucy Moorhead, Bingo kept company with a couple names you all may recognize. Lucy is the wife of a former Congressman. Between raising a family and supporting her husband's political work, she was an avid horsewoman. She fox hunted with the Orange County Hunt and lived near Middleburg.

Photo from In the Time and In the Country

Someone else she knew politically and through hunting also rode with that hunt, Jackie Kennedy Onassis.  Lucy enjoyed her time hunting with Jackie away from political expectations.

Photo from In the Time and In the Country

Later Lucy wanted lessons which at the time was something not many people did. She admired Katie Monahan and after a recommendation from George Morris began taking lessons. After Katie married, Lucy followed her to Wellington to be able to show. Years later Bingo went to Wellington too and competed in the Adult Amateur Division. Katie Prudent even schooled him over fences.

Photo from In the Time and In the Country

Photo from In the Time and In the Country

Lucy wrote her memoir "In the Town& In the Country: Washington and Virginia" in which she relates her feelings about riding and Bingo.
I talk to him, and he understands--we know each other so well. We have our own language. Riding with Bingo across fields, ... Riding is heaven.

Photo from In the Time and In the Country

Now Bingo waits for Lucy on the other side. Peggy told me she came to visit him a few times and even rode him. She was so elegant in the tack and he always perked up for her.

16yr old Bingo
Photo from In the Time and In the Country

Lucy hung up her spurs at the age of 80. I hope I last that long. Someone once told Lucy she would not find another one like him and I can't help but agree. Bingo was a character, gone too soon. I am glad he had such an awesome relationship with a special lady. Every horse should experience that kind of love. So now you know why he is forever carved in history.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Baby got Bounce

I have had a few rides on Roscoe recently and he has given me an awesome trot. Since Mom and Peggy were riding at the same time, no one got video of it. The common factor each time was that there was a mare present. I needed to get him listening to me rather than paying attention to the mare. So I trotted and did circles. At one point I looked at Mom and said "Baby got bounce!" I normally sit lightly at first until he is steady then start posting. With this trot I could barely sit. Mom said he was sitting and pushing from behind. All those great Cob joints were bending and giving me that awesome trot.
My Pixel Pony

Today I put the dressage saddle on for the first time and gave Peggy my phone to take a video. Well since there was no mares and Comrade was just standing in the middle, Roscoe decided it was a lazy day. Instead of bounce, I got sloth pony. Ok that's an exaggeration, maybe more of a western jog. Plus he was Mister Distracted Tourist. Here is the video from today.
We went for a trail ride after that worked his butt off. He was a bit of a baby today. I told him he was allowed to have baby days especially when they are not too bad. It just meant we had to scale back the challenges. I do think we did a step of canter going up a hill today. Love this pony! At one point, Peggy  went off with Comrade after a break. Roscoe had been standing with a leg cocked. He just watched at they walked off, not moving until I asked him to move on.
Even with his tourist actions and biting Comrade's butt, the ride was great. He worked up a sweat on all those hills. Wonder if he will need a trace clip?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Loopty Loo

Peggy thought I was crazy this weekend when I tacked up Comrade for a ride. The wind was blowing and it was one of the colder days we have had, but I was determined. At least I put a saddle on, so I did not totally lose my mind. Before starting I pulled his tail, stretching his back and sides. I also massaged his lower back and butt since he has had some tight muscles from muddy days.
Once in the ring, Peggy did not last long before she left me. I set to loosening Comrade's parts, shoulder in, haunches in, leg yield in random patterns. I was really happy with his responsiveness and willingness to work. He was still a bit heavy in the front end. Time to get creative.
First thing I did was raise my hands. I tend to ride with them lower than I should, so what seems high is only slightly above normal. By doing this, Comrade will lift his front end. I have used this with Dottie and it works great. I kept my contact consistent, letting him find the connection.
Next, we went Loopty Loo all around the arena.
My bad Loopty Loo drawing

Straight a stride or two, then 10m circle and repeat around the arena. Comrade had to bend, step under with his hind end and lift with his front end. I got a few Cob grunts protesting the challenge. He did not need to go the whole circuit of the arena before he softened nicely and carried himself to the left. I was glad to see that because going to the left was where I saw the soreness from muddy ground. Trying to keep that same softness, I reversed and did the exercise to the right. This direction, his tough side, took more circles before he maintained and carried himself. Comrade is always better when he figures out a lesson on his own which is what this was. When we traveled large, he felt so good. Much lighter in my hands and pushing from the hind end. His neck had that lovely side to side flop action. We ended with a stroll out on trail where he surprised me with a fabulous jump over the big log. I think someone wants a jump school.
Best of all, my Mom got on him today and felt he was so much better flexibility and straightness wise. Peggy and I got to see all our hard work show when he gave Mom a great ride.

And I have no idea why the kid's song Here We Go Loopty Loo got stuck to this exercise in my mind, but the lyrics are not too far off.

First three verses, enjoy!
Here we go loopty loo
Here we go loopty li
Here we go loopty loo
All on a Saturday night

Here we go way down low
Here we go way up high
Here we go way down low
We really know how to fly

Here we go round and round
Here we go fast and slow
Here we go round and round
Oh what a great way to go

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Clip Art

Brrrr, It is starting to get cold. My ponies moved up to their 100gram blankets tonight. At least we did not get the snow some areas in central VA got.
Since the wind was gusting, I figured it was a day to catch up on my work. Number one on the list, trimming Rosemary's hooves. She was suppose to be done a couple weeks ago, but I trimmed Comrade and Roscoe instead before the show. I trimmed back her platter toes with her cooperation for once. It is always so nice to see how good they look after a trim.
Next up was going to be her trace clip. Both girls need one, but I did not want to make her stand after her trim. So I decided to play with the clippers and a quarter mark stencil. When I mentioned that Rosemary needed a clip, Lisa (Roscoe's breeder) sent me a picture of the perfect clip for her, a Dragon. Unfortunately my skills do not stretch even close to what this needed, but Rosemary could totally rock it.
A Welsh and a Dragon, perfect. If only I could

My initial idea was to use the diamond stencil to create a geometric flower. Then the clipper blade was too big to fit in the stencil and I had to adjust. It was tough to work with how the hair was lying. I just kept going, even though I was not sure if anyone would want to see it afterwards. Her blanket could cover any horrible errors I make. It seemed the horrible was going to be the outcome, until slowly I saw some potential. I added a line here, smoothed an area there before finally thinking I could actually call it a flower. I added a smooth center to cap it off.

Then I thought is resembled a pinwheel and needed something more. Using the edge of the stencil, I added a stem. At the bottom I put a leaf.

Still, I thought it was not right. The leaf was too low. I fixed that by adding more stem below.

Finally her clip art was done and I did not feel like it should be hidden.

My sister says I made her a My Little Pony, but my Dad said she did not have sparkles like them. Ah well, I was impressed with how it looked in the natural light later when I changed her blanket.
Now I have to do her trace clip... at some point :)