Archive for August, 2010
For any of you that follow the Trick Pony Blog, you then also know of my little Dachshund, Ammo. Ammo is my constant companion as he works with me, patrols the farm, and sleeps soundly in my living room at home. Every opportunity I have, he’s with me. I can probably count on one hand the number of times he’s been left home alone.
So since Ammo is such a huge part of my life, I finally decided it was only fitting he got his own Blog. With a little push from his adoring fans on facebook, AmmotheDachshund.com was launched a few days ago.
So if you like Dachshunds (or dogs for that matter) and you’re not above reading the musings of a feisty little Doxie, then head on over to his Blog. I promise you, he will keep you entertained!
Ammo plans to post something new every weekday (I think his entourage would riot if he didn’t). He even has some exciting giveaways planned (the first one being this monday).
Also if you have a product or business you would like to advertise, Ammo is taking ad slots at a DEEPLY discounted rate. Or you may choose to offer a giveaway to all of Ammo’s readers. So act fast, pricing will increase as traffic to the site continues to increase.
On August 16th we had another group of pony campers come out to the farm. The ponies always know when visitors are coming because they all get baths, and I begin filling their small paddock with all of their trick paraphernalia. And then the painting easel comes out. Heads perk up, and the ponies peer over their dutch doors in the hopes that is their turn to paint today.
Sorry Boomer and Blitz, but today was about Minnow – the very first (and my personal favorite) Painting Pony. Minnow would stand at that easel painting for days if I let him – unfortunately for him we only had time to make two paintings. “End of Summer Blues” and “Purple Lovelies” are now available in the shop. Minnow also painted a few new mini 8×10 paintings too! I love his bright colors, and how every one is always different, it’s like a magical surprise.
Today I got a surprise package in the mail from Picthall and Gunzi, a UK based children’s book publishing company. Inside were two children’s sticker books that featured ponies. It took me a few minutes to realize why I had been sent these, but then I remembered!
Inside were two stickers that features my sister’s morgan cross mare, Jet. The stickers were created from a photograph I had taken of her galloping in an open field a couple of years ago.
It may be a small publication – but it’s still something to smile about….finally putting my photography degree to some use! As of late my photography has taken more of a back burner to running my custom framing shop and managing the art careers of a couple of painting ponies. Someday I’ll get back into photographing more, I’m toiling with the idea of a few picture books…so we shall see!
Friday, July 30th….my very last day on Chincoteague Island….so sad. I look forward to this trip every year (this being my third year attending) – so it’s always sad to see it come to an end. Although coming home just means that I get to start planning for Pony Penning 2011! Woohoo!
Anyway, Friday morning I was headed over to take care of Minnow again – usually by Friday I can tell he’s about ready to go home. Probably missing his turnout buddies, and his juicy pasture filled with grass (even if he only gets to experience it through a muzzle) – but this year he didn’t seem as anxious, he was a lot more content with being on the island for day #5.
Needless to say, as sad as I was to be heading home – I was looking forward to seeing the Dachshund (oh and my husband). After helping Minnow to start his day I headed back to the Assateague Inn, where we stayed for the week, to check out. After checking out of the hotel my mom and I headed out on a little shopping excursion. The first stop on my list – Pony Tails – for some much needed saltwater taffy. I have a weakness for saltwater taffy…especially when it’s freshly made! After that we went down to mainstreet in search of a treat for the Dachshund. I remembered there was a “dog” shop in town last year, but this year it was nowhere to be found. After a pretty thorough search for doggie treasures I didn’t come up with much, and knowing that my little sausage boy would just be thrilled to see me no matter what I had – I gave up on my quest.
Then after lunch it was back to the Pony Centre to get packed up for our trip home. After I finished packing the trailer Minnow had a little impromptu painting session in the parking lot behind the Pony Centre. I set up his easel in a shady little spot under a tree, and Minnow set out painting a custom work of art for one of our friends at the Pony Centre. Minnow gathered a small crowd of our friends as he whisked brushes all over the the pretty purple canvas. One of the little girls from the Pony Centre bought one of Minnow’s mini paintings with all of her Birthday money from the day before – it was so cute I nearly died as she handed me a stack of one dollar bills. I dug around in the packed car and handed her one of the new dvd’s of Minnow and his pony friends as a little extra Birthday Gift from Minnow – for her to share with her brother and sisters too.
Oh and I nearly forgot to mention that Minnow appeared in Thursday’s issue of the Chincoteague Beacon. It was a nice little article about his appearance at the Pony Centre – which you can read in it’s entirety here. (Download PDF)
Finally it was time for Minnow’s last show at the Pony Centre this year – and he painted one of my favorites of the whole trip – “Patriotic Pony”. In between his painting and trick performances I had my mom snap a few photos of me, Minnow, and the famous misty family pony – Misty’s Black Mist. Black Mist was quite funny and kept “smiling” at Minnow with this weird toothy grin…I think she had a crush on him. Black Mist wore her Breyer blanket – which brought me back to my youth of collecting endless amounts of Breyer models….most of which I still have. If Minnow were ever to become a Breyer Model, I think my life might just be complete! It’s probably because Breyers are such a nostalgia for me – you have no idea how many hours I spent as a kid playing with them – and to think that out in the World there are tons of little girls and boys playing with a model that looks like MY pony …would just be the icing on the cake for me. Oh and lets not forget that Minnow would need his little sidekicks as models too – Blitz, Boomer, and Ammo the Dachshund (complete with stunt helmet and cape)!! haha. Maybe someday it will happen….you never know….and if you want to write like a bazillion letters to Breyer telling them that Chincoteague Minnow should be their next model – I definitely wouldn’t complain.
After the show we said our goodbyes to our Pony Centre friends. I LOVE everyone that works at the Pony Centre, they are so nice and friendly – they really make it inviting, and every single one of them has a love for the ponies. I miss all our PC friends when we leave – but know that we will all reconnect again…if not only through facebook.
Thus began my 250mile drive home – partially in the dark – and when we pulled up to the entrance of Iron Horse Farm around 10pm, I was very happy to be “home”. Boomer and Blitz came bounding to the fence to greet us, and I had missed their curious little faces. I whisked Minnow off the trailer and plopped him out into the pasture with the boys. Minnow wandered off to scarf as much grass as he could through the tiny hole in his muzzle – we know where his priorities lie. Boomer and Blitz waited patiently at the gate for some much needed attention. They wanted their itchy spots scratched and their noses rubbed, and they WANTED to do some tricks! I love when I go away and when I come back all my ponies just want to be in my company – it’s the greatest feeling.
But our time was short-lived as I was pretty tired and ready to head home to see the little Dachshund. When I pulled up to the house I could see his little sausage body jumping around in the sunroom. I burst through the door throwing my bags to the floor as Ammo jumped up to lick my face. He squealed and wiggled – oh boy did he wiggle! Instantly I noticed his tiny little sausage frame wasn’t so tiny, seems he had put on a little extra weight since he had become accustomed to sleeping 11 hours a day while I was gone. (I was sure to schedule a much needed exercise trip to the dog park to swim the very next day!)
Sigh. What a wonderful end to Pony Penning Week.
There is nothing like coming home after a long trip and being greeted by the animals that love you. I hope they know how much I love them too.
Thursday, July 29th was the day of the Chincoteague Pony Auction. I was up pretty early and headed over to the carnival grounds to watch the action. If you plan to buy a foal (or sit through the entire auction) its a good idea to bring a lawn chair over to the fairgrounds several days in advance. People set them up and tie them together with notes stating they are taken/etc. I’ve never done this before – but this year I thought ahead and brought a lawn chair with me to the auction. Luckily I was able to squeeze it in to an open spot so that I would have somewhere to sit.
The auction started with a drill team demonstration by my friends over at the Pony Centre who are members of the Chincoteague Pony Drill Team. The Chincoteague Pony Drill Team is the only drill team in the world that consists ENTIRELY of Chincoteague Ponies. Not only does that make them pretty special, but their drills are pretty unique and very well choreographed too. The drill team has been invited to some very special events over the years, in fact this year they were even invited to perform at the World Equestrian Games, unfortunately the cost to attend was too great and they will not be able to participate.
Performing a drill at the carnival grounds is not an easy task. The “arena” (if you can call it that) is about the size of a roundpen, and it’s parameters are encompassed by masses of people, cameras, and noise. The entrance into the arena is a narrow chute, just wide enough for one pony to fit through, if that “arena” doesn’t spell claustrophobic, I don’t know what would. Any average horse probably wouldn’t dare enter that arena, or at least they wouldn’t enter without a fight. But the Chincoteague ponies take it in stride, no spooking, no crazy antics, in fact they perform in that arena just like they would at home.
After the drill team performance the auction began. There is no order in which the ponies come out, it’s simply whichever ones the saltwater cowboys can grab. This is a major drawback if you plan to bid on a foal. For example, say beforehand you have chosen which foal you really want to buy – you’ve set a budget of say $1,500, and can’t spend more than that. The foal you want just so happens to be the very last one they pull out of the pen to auction off, the bidding soars to $2,000 and you have passed your budget. You loose the auction and since it was the last foal you have nothing else to bid on – looks like you won’t be bringing home a foal this year.
This is what happened to a woman this year. She had been a long time visitor to the island for pony penning with her mother. Last year her mom passed away from a stroke – and it had always been their dream to buy a foal. So this year she returned to the island alone with the plan to purchase a foal in memory of her mother. The foal she chose was one of the very last ones to be auctioned off, and when bidding rose just $200 more than she could afford – she lost the pony of her dreams – with nothing left to bid on. Sadly the woman came away without a foal in memory of her mother.
If you plan to bid it’s also good to know that the first couple of foals out usually go for very cheap. People are still working up the nerve to actually buy a foal, and if you are lucky enough to have your favorite appear in the beginning – you might be able to get him for a steal. The first couple of ones sold for $400 – $500, a record low for foals at the auction.
Then about the third foal out, my favorite appeared, a black and white colt with three perfect shaped white hearts on his body. The bidding started to go fast as I realized the woman behind me was bidding on a foal. At $4,200 the foal was sold to the woman sitting behind me. When she returned to her seat after paying for her purchase she couldn’t help but share her story with everyone. Apparently a few days before the auction she had met a woman at the pens over on Assateague. This woman worked for some sort of therapy place (I’m not sure if it was for the elderly or what), but she had come to the island looking for a horse to be a therapy animal for her facility. On Assateague she spotted the little colt with the heart markings and instantly felt a connection. She felt destined to own this foal, and believed his purpose was to help others. Sadly there was a catch – she could not attend Thursday’s auction for some reason – but as luck would have it she met a woman (a stranger) who would be attending. She arranged to have this woman bid on the foal at the auction for her. She set a budget of $4,200 and handed the stranger her credit card with instructions to try to purchase the foal for her. They both agreed that likely the bidding for this special colt would get too high – but the woman insisted that even if she lost the foal, she wanted someone to share her story with whomever bought him. Well that never happened, because the kind stranger won the foal for her at the max of her budget and the foal would soon be on its way to be a therapy animal for others. Many would say this is the magic of the island ponies at work.
I watched every foal come through the auction – and photographed all of them as well. You can see all my photos over at www.greenhorsestudios.com
After the auction I took a trip out to Kendy Allen’s (owner of the largest herd of Misty Family Ponies) Chincoteague Pony farm off the island on the main land. I met her gorgeous stallion, Tougher than Leather, as well as a few other Chincoteague Pony Mares. Misty family pony, Twister, was due to foal anyday – and with her ginormous size many wondered if she was carrying twins! (we now know it was just one LARGE palomino filly – the spitting image of her mom). I also met Star and her new foal that had been born just a few days before. After Star’s foal was born momma became anxious about being separated from the herd of horses (which included some big Thoroughbreds and a few quarter horses) – Star broke out of her enclosure (with newborn foal in tow) to join her herd. After many attempts to keep her and her foal separated, it was evident the mare would just not be happy until she was out with her gang. So with newborn foal at her side, she happily was coexisting with her herd. Star’s foal was super cute – its so hard to be around so many cute foals during pony penning week. It’s even harder not to bring one home with you.
After a busy afternoon I headed back to the Pony Centre to perform with Minnow. I always find that the Thursday night crowd at the Pony Centre is the VERY best crowd. Maybe they are still full of excitement after bidding on foals all day – I’m not sure – but whichever the case the crowd is usually loud and very excited to see everything that is “Chincoteague Pony”. When the crowd is happy, Minnow is happy – he paints crazier strokes, ad lib’s more in his tricks, and just has a lot more fun. At the 8pm show I decided to ride in the Extreme Pony Race with Minnow. It’s been a year since I’ve saddled him …. the last time being at the Pony Centre in 2009. A little light exercise for Minnow is great, even with his arthritis – but I tend not to like to hop on his back during a show. Not because it’s bad for him (I did give him bute all week – aka horse aspirin) but more so because I wonder if people think I’m being cruel when they see him take a few limpy steps. The fact remains though, that the less exercise Minnow gets, the fatter he gets. And the fatter he gets, the more weight and strain is put on his ankle with the ringbone. But I knew Minnow was feeling good this night, and I knew a light bit of trotting would be fine for him.
So after a year of not being saddled, Minnow entered the area face to face with a small jump. He hesitated (probably thinking “what the heck I thought I was retired”) then popped over the X. We had a slight trouble backing – never his strong suit, then proceeded to complete the rest of the tasks. Minnow stayed at a comfortable trot – which was fine – I think he didn’t feel well enough to canter. And although we didn’t break any records in the race, I was happy to think he got to work his muscles a little.
Then it was off to bed for my little Minnow – as he too had had a busy day meeting fans and being as cute as ever. I enjoy the closeness time I get to spend with Minnow when we are down there. Back home at the farm I have to share my time between all the ponies. I struggle between keeping Boomerang fit and ready to compete and working on tricks with Minnow so he doesn’t get bored in “retirement”. I know Minnow is sad when I pull Boomerang out of the pasture to go for a ride and he’s left standing there looking longingly at me for attention. A week down in Chincoteague scratching his itchy spots, giving him lots of baths and treats – is just oh so wonderful, and I’m sure he looks forward to it every year just as much as I do.
If you’d like to see all the photos from the auction you can check them out here: www.greenhorsestudios.com
Check back tomorrow for a recap of my last day at Pony Penning 2010!