Archive for June, 2010
As if being on Animal Planet wasn’t enough, Ammo the Dachshund recently made the front page of the People section in the Daily Local News. The article discussed Ammo’s love of tricks and performing with his pony friends. It also talked about his new found artistic abilities, and featured some great color photos of him as well as a video.
Way to go Ammo! So proud of you Buddy!
It took me a while to get these up in the shop, but here are two new paintings that are available on the Painting Pony Etsy Shop. Check them out, and don’t forget you only have a few weeks to snag your favorite before all the paintings head to Chincoteague for the annual Pony Penning. Most of them probably won’t be returning! So don’t hesitate if you have a favorite.
Well I’m back from my big trip to New Jersey for the 2010 MGAA National Competition. Not only did I bring along my competition mount, Chesapeake Boomerang, but also trick pony extraordinaire, Chincoteague Minnow, and my ever present sidekick, Ammo the Dachshund.
The plan was to have Minnow paint and perform on Thursday Night, with a little help from Boomer and Minnow. Boomer was then primed to compete in mounted games for 3 days – his longest and biggest competition since I’ve had him. And Ammo, well he was just there to be cute – and I could have never left home without him!
We arrived late on Wednesday night. We got the ponies checked in and bedded down for the night in their stalls. We then set up our campsite in the blazing heat (yes it was even hot when the sun set). I spent most of the night warding off miskitos to no avail while the dachshund slept soundly on my pillow.
The next day was even hotter than the first as I readied Boomerang for the first day of riding. In the warm-up arena I could tell he was hyped and ready to race. We worked on channeling his adrenaline as I asked him to compose himself and stand still.
As we barreled across the start line in the first race I was impressed at Boomerang’s ability to respond to my commands even when I knew he was completely full of himself. As we finished nearly half the races in our set, a big storm approached the horse park. The organizers rushed all of the riders and ponies into the indoor to get shelter from the darkening sky.
Lightning crashed, wind blew, and the rain poured as we hid out in the indoor. I used the opportunity to work on Boomer’s laydown in the arena with many strange horses and riders surrounding him. He successfully laid down about 5 or 6 times. During our stint in the indoor I was approached by several of my fellow competitors asking about my bitless bridle. As far as I know I am the ONLY Mounted Games Competitor on the Eastern Half of the US that competes in a Dr. Cook’s Bitless Bridle. People were interested in how I controlled my pony at high speed with no bit, I talked to them about clicker training and the importance of a really good stop. I think a lot of people were surprised to see a speed horse without a harsh bit or the ever popular hackamoore. Made me proud that my pony was well trained enough to run with the big boys yet I could stop on a dime like the rest of them without yanking on his mouth.
After the storm we returned to the rest of our races. Boomer and I made it through the day with barely any mistakes in our races, and I was very proud of him in how he channeled his high energy.
Unfortunately the ravaging storm wrecked our tent causing us to get a hotel room for the remainder of the trip. Something I think both the Dachshund and my mom were very happy about.
Thursday night I readied Minnow for his trick performance. Minnow painted a wonderful painting that was auctioned off to benefit the non-profit mounted games group, MGAA. He raised $200 and his art was a big hit with everyone! Minnow then performed his beach skit for everyone. Ammo stepped in and stole the show when he decided to dig a big hole in the indoor arena – he had everyone laughing. Ammo even surprised me with how enthusiastic he was to perform his tricks too. He jumped through his hoop, played dead, made a scratch art painting, and even gave me a high five. He was pretty adorable!
Boomer later “crashed the party” and performed his newly learned bow for everyone. I then attempted to get him to lay down, but he had a little trouble. I ended up skipping it, only to have him do it later while Minnow’s painting was being auctioned. I was just happy he did it at all – considering he only learned the trick a little over a week ago.
Minnow had a blast performing, as I gave him a little bute to help with his arthritis limp, he was definitely feeling good. Afterwards he took a much needed gallop and buck around the indoor. It made me smile to see him frisky and feeling good again.
Day two of competition felt even HOTTER! Ammo got frequent water hosedowns as he layed by the side of the arena watching me ride. By day two both Boomer and I were a little drained. Boomer was moving slower in the heat, and I was struggling with my sore muscles. Our first session had a few more mistakes than the first day, but I sort of expected it. By the second session of the day I had a little more energy and so did Boomer, but he was still sort of dragging. He wasn’t used to the heat, nor the multitude of competition days. I can’t say I blame him. I’m just glad he did try, unlike the many ponies that started refusing to cross the start line on day 2 for one reason or another.
In the evening I gave a little talk on clicker training to the few people that decided to show up for my demo. It ended up being a bad time slot, as everyone seemed to have gone back to the hotels to shower and eat after a full day of competing. Can’t say I blame them – that’s what I wanted to be doing. But Minnow was happy to be out showing off his tricks again, he’s a real ham sometimes.
Day 3 was the final day of competition, and Boomer seemed to be dragging even more. I worked in the warm-up on clicking him for offering me more acceleration, and it seemed to help a little. I know his muscles must have been very sore – and being the smart pony he is, he’d start off the line in a controlled canter, complete his skill and when pointed towards home he’d let out the speed knowing that the faster he got to the finish the faster he got to rest. I was again happy he at least decided to try for me, even if it wasn’t as speedy as I would have liked.
At the end of the competition we took home 4th place in the Masters C Final. I had hopped to do a little better, but was still proud of Boomer for trying. Its a lot to ask of a horse to stay in a stall for 4 days in 90 plus degrees and run their heart out for you for 3 days straight. He handled it a lot better than a lot of the other ponies did.
And now its time to gear up for PONY PENNING at the end of July! Anyone have any great trick suggestions I can teach Minnow over the next month before we go?
So since I just finished reading A Pictorial Life Story of Misty, I had a new book on my summer reading list. “Out of the Sea: Today’s Chincoteague Pony” is a book written by Lois Szymaski, and is a great resource for information on the Chincoteague Pony.
I didn’t know much about his book, but had been planning to purchase and read it for a while now. I was familiar with the author, Lois Szymaski, and knew that she was a founding member of The Feather Fund, an organization that helps children purchase Chincoteague Ponies.
This book started out wonderfully as it explained how the ponies ended up on the island, what is done to care for them, and even how their breeding has evolved over the years. I actually found myself learning a lot!
For example in 1939 the fire company purchased twenty wild mustangs from the Bureau of Land Management and set them free on Assateague Island to help the Chincoteague Pony breed evolve, and keep from inbreeding. Over the years Arabian blood was also introduced into the herd, and a popular Arabian Stallion named Premiere was also introduced, but went missing – never to be seen again – the next day.
I also learned that Chincoteague is an American Indian word that means “beautiful land across the waters” and George Washington owned a Chincoteague pony named Chinky.
And then I got about halfway into the book and I saw it. A picture of Chesapeake Boomerang, as in “Boomer” MY CHINCOTEAGUE PONY! I had no idea that Boomer’s photo was in a book! Not only that, but there was even an excerpt on him about his days living in North Carolina.
Burta Boysen of 1000 Welcomes Farm in NC (my Blitz and Boomer’s birthplace) had written a wonderful account of the process she goes through when breaking and training their young Chincoteague Ponies. Burta stated that most ponies are started under saddle at the age of two, but then goes on to say that sometimes its best to wait as sometimes ponies take longer to mature.
“Boysen said their pony Boomer is a prime example of a pony that should have waited. “He was just too immature and not ready,” she said, “so we put him up for awhile and now he’s doing great.” These days, you can find Boomer in the show ring.”
The text then goes on to detail the training technique they use for starting their ponies under saddle. Basically roundpen work, with roping of the ponies – including their feet, and introduction to “whoa” as well as plastic bags, lariats, and old shirts.
Later on in the book there are photos of the Boysen’s stallion, Chesapeake Powhattan’s Promise (blitz and boomer’s father), and a story about how “Squat” got his name.
I was totally surprised to find that Boomer was in this book – but I also found it even more interesting to hear about his immaturity level and the process he undoubtedly went through to be readied to ride. From the day Boomer came to live with me in 2008 I knew he had a lot of growing up to do. He could barely carry himself (let alone a rider) down a hill, and had trouble finding his footing on the trail. He was wiggly and was easily toppled to the ground with a rider’s weight shift. Within the two years I have had him he’s come a long way, he now has solid steps on the trail, and he’s even grown into his body more. I think he’ll just always be one of those ponies that take a long time to “act his age”.
Learning about the methods used on Boomer to start him under saddle were eye opening. They probably attribute a lot to the fact that Boomer is pretty much unflappable. He doesn’t spook, and rarely have I found anything (or any situation) that rattles him. He’ll touch anything and try anything, and is a very trusting pony. I just might have to practicing roping each of his feet to see just what he knows!
Anyway this book definitely gets my vote as another must read – and not just because one of my ponies is in it!
Photos are reproduced from the book “Out of the Sea” by Lois Szymaski
Recently I just finished reading the book, “A Pictorial Life Story of Misty” by Marguerite Henry, which is a must read for anyone who is a fan of Misty or Chincoteague for that matter. I had a lot of fun learning about Misty’s true life – in fact a lot of things I didn’t even know about her! Along with the wonderful photos of Misty and her friends, it also detailed Misty’s life from the day she met Marguerite Henry, author to the famous children’s book, Misty of Chincoteague.
I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite facts from the book.
- Misty was not born wild on the island of Assateague (as I’m sure many think), her parents (Phantom and Pied Piper) were island bred ponies.
-Misty was purchased from the Beebe’s by Marguerite Henry when she was just a few days old. Since she was too young to leave her mother at the time, the Beebe’s had Misty shipped in a wooden crate no bigger than a dog kennel to Illinois to live with Marguerite.
-Misty’s most famous trick was standing on her stool and shaking hands (just like Chincoteague Minnow)
-Misty shared her home at Mole Meadow in Illinois with Friday, a morgan horse, Brighty, a donkey, Alex, a Dachshund, and Mom-cat, the farm cat.
-Alex the Dachshund entertained children with his ability to jump through a hoop, he also enjoyed pony rides on Misty, and had great fun with Mom-cat. (just like Ammo the Dachshund and his cat Cricket)
- Misty attended the American Library Association Convention in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She was allowed to sit in on meetings and even rode the elevator to attend a party in her honor. Misty was the only four footed member of the American Library Association.
- Misty had wonderful Birthday parties every year to celebrate her Birthday, July 20th. The children would get out of school, and the whole town would congregate to see Misty.
- Marguerite sadly returned Misty to Chincoteague (and the Beebe ranch) to have her foal, a promise she had made to Grandpa Beebe when she purchased Misty as a foal.
- Misty’s first foal was dubbed Wisp O’ Mist when the winning name was picked out of the many children that entered the contest to name Misty’s foal.
- When Misty was in foal to her third baby, a terrible storm swept over Chincoteague. Misty was pulled inside the Beebe’s house to help her weather the storm, as everyone evacuated the island. Homes were destroyed the the town was left in rubble. Misty survived the storm and soon after had her third and final foal, Stormy.
-As Chincoteague Island tried to recover from the storm Misty became a source of hope. She made appearances with her new colt to raise money so that the island could thrive again. Its because of Misty that the tradition of Pony Penning
All photos are from “A pictorial life story of misty”