Archive for November, 2010
Don’t forget to head over to the Painting Pony Online Shop today to save 10% off all items on 5AM to 12AM on Tuesday. And as a special thank you to all our loyal blog readers use the coupon code CYBERSALE10 at checkout to receive an additional 10% off!
Thanks to this great video from Etsy, I began thinking about the story behind Painting Pony , and how it came to be that on a small family farm in Pennsylvania there lives a couple of magical painting Chincoteague Ponies and their silly little Dachshund sidekick.
The story behind Painting Pony started years before the first paintbrush was ever put to canvas…..
It was 2002, and after just graduating high school I was about to take on a “project pony” from a friend. His name was Chincoteague Minnow, and all I knew about him was that he was born as a wild pony on Assateague Island and had since been bounced around between many homes for the past 10 years. At one point in his life he had been neglected, and he was now slowly on the road to recovery.
Chincoteague Ponies conjured up images of the famous Misty of Chincoteague, mystical wild ponies, and the magical love that little girls everywhere shared for them. Only the pony that came to live with me seemed to only be able to channel his inner WILD pony, with a fear of almost everything, and an inability to trust me. I spent years working with Minnow in the hopes of developing the kind of relationship with him that I had always dreamed of.
In 2004, on the verge of giving up hope, I discovered a book on how to teach your horse tricks. That winter I taught Minnow his very first trick, to give me a kiss. Things began to change, and Minnow began to look forward to my daily visits to the farm. Our relationship began to evolve, and I decided to take him to college with me that year.
Three years passed, and by the time I was graduating college I was looking at a completely different pony. My special Chincoteague Pony now shared an amazing bond with me, and we were able to communicate with each other in a way I never thought possible. In the winter of 2007 I decided to see if Minnow could learn to paint. I was a fine arts major in college, and thought it might be fun if my pony could make me a picture.
After lugging out an easel and some brushes to the farm, I handed Minnow one with paint and waited to see what he would do. His first stroke was magical and each one there after made me smile bigger and bigger. Sometimes he jabbed at the canvas, sometimes he made long swooping strokes – each one unique in it’s own way. As his masterpieces began to pile higher and higher I was running out of places to put them.
Soon I realized that Minnow had an amazing talented that he needed to share with the World. His paintings were so much more than abstract pieces of art, they had a story to tell. A story about how a little pony could overcome his fears and become something amazing. With each sale of his paintings I began to donate money to charities, in particular the Chincoteague Pony Association – which helped to care for and maintain the wild herds of ponies on Assateague Island – and Minnow’s ancestors. Over the years Painting Pony began to grow into something even bigger than Minnow and I.
With Minnow entering into his retirement years due to arthritis, two more amazing Chincoteague Ponies (Boomerang and Blitz) were added to our small family herd. Minnow took on the role of elder, and took the young boys under his wing. He has since passed on his painting talents to them, and continues to be an inspiration to them on a daily basis. Ammo the Dachshund entered our family in 2008, and quickly struck up an amazing friendship with Minnow. Never before have I seen a pony give a dachshund belly rubs.
Every time I see a child watch the ponies paint I am reminded of how I felt that first day when Minnow made his first brush stroke. A child’s smile is contagious – and there is nothing better than watching the twinkle in the ponies’ eyes when they realize they have made someone happy.
Painting Pony is about happiness and joy, and experiencing the magic of ponies. And if we can make you smile, then that’s all that matters.
After helping Ammo the Dachshund design his Christmas Cards for this year’s Holiday Season, I realized that I had neglected to help the ponies with their cards. So after a little brainstorming session with the boys, we came up with two fun designs for this year’s cards.
This card set features a selection from three different paintings by Chincoteague Minnow. The inside greeting says: May your Holidays Sparkle & Shine.
This card set features a selection from a Holiday painting by each of the ponies and the inside greeting reads: May all your Holiday wishes come true
In celebration of the wonderful season of giving we will be having a Cyber Monday Sale on everything in the Painting Pony Shop. 10% off all items on Monday, November 29 from 5AM to 12AM on Tuesday. And as a special thank you to all our loyal blog readers use the coupon code CYBERSALE10 at checkout to receive an additional 10% off!
Wishing you a joyous Holiday season!
I know it’s a little early for Christmas Wish lists, but I have one item on my list this year that I really hope to get! A treeless saddle for Boomerang!
Admittedly I’ve had my current saddle since I was 12 (14 years for anyone counting)….and after a few growth spurts as a teenager…lets just say it’s less than “fitting”. I have no idea how I’ve lasted this long with a saddle that was a couple sizes too small, it’s kinda embarrassing.
I’ve been thinking about getting a new saddle for a while now, but Treeless never crossed my mind until now, mostly because I had never even heard of it! I have a friend from across the county (Oregon) to thank for my spark into the treeless saddles, Kali from Pony Pros, Kali and her husband Les run an amazing riding program for kids that teaches them about training ponies in a natural way (their own method that involves some of clicker training & even Parelli). All of their ponies (even the lesson ponies) are ridden bitless and in treeless saddles or bareback pads. It’s pretty amazing stuff!
So what is Treeless?
Treeless saddles are typically flexible and move ‘with’ the horse rather than creating a barrier of a stiff tree. Horses move more relaxed and free because no tree is constricting the shoulder. No pressure under the cantle gives relief to short and flat backed horses.
These saddles also provide a very close contact with the horse and help horses and riders with back issues. Many riders find relief from pain because the saddles are so soft and cause less jarring to the rider’s back. Beginner riders learn to feel the rhythm and find balance much faster.
Recently, while at the Equine Extravaganza, I got to meet and talk with a treeless saddle vender. I sat in a few different models, which I found to be surprisingly comfortable (I was a little doubtful at first). I am now pretty thoroughly convinced that treeless is the way to go for me and Boomerang. I regularly ride Boomer bareback at home, because I’ve found that he seems much happier to respond to my aids without a saddle on his back – he’s also lighter and just generally seems to enjoy it more. And since my switch in March to a bitless bridle I’ve been becoming a bigger advocate for the “natural way” in my riding.
So with my decision to go treeless, I went on the hunt for the right saddle. There seems to be a lot of versions out there. You of course have the big brands like Barefoot, Freeform, Ansur, Torison (I’m sure there might be more, but these are the ones I know of) but then you also have the I guess what I could call “knock-offs” which you can find on Ebay and other like sites.
I looked at A LOT of saddles online – some I ruled out because the cantel was too high. For Mounted Games it’s preferable to have a low cantel to make vaulting onto the saddle from the ground much easier. I decided then to nix the “knock-off” ones from ebay, because as much as I liked the price tags (new saddle for $99, yes please), I knew that I would be putting this saddle through the works with all the vaulting I’d be doing – so I wanted something that would hold up. And with a $99 price tag, I doubted this was possible.
In the end (thus far) I think I narrowed it down to a Barefoot saddle. I liked the look of the Freeform, but they had a higher price tag (about $1,500) – and I was going for more a used saddle pricing, and the Barefoot seemed to fit that ($500 – $900). What I also liked about the Barefoot is that it has a VPS Panel System, which basically means it has spine clearance for your horse. A lot of people opposed to treeless saddles complain that they make it so the saddle rests right on the horse’s spine (A treed saddle keeps pressure off the spine) – so with the VPS Panel System this issue is eliminated.
The great thing about Treeless Saddles is that they are designed to fit pretty much any horse. So you don’t have to worry about an ill-fitting tree, with pressure points that hurt your horse – and it also gives you the benefit of ordering online without worry about having to send back tons of saddles.
So even though I feel kinda ok about ordering online – I’d much rather be able to try something on my horse to make sure we both like it first.
Well, wouldn’t you know that Pennsylvania doesn’t seem to be in the forefront of treeless saddles, because all my local tack shops seemed to have no idea what I was talking about. Luckily the Barefoot Company seems to have a retalier in nearby Delaware!
So if you’re listening Santa, I’d like to take a trip there to pick out a new Treeless Saddle!!
And if anyone out there has experience going Treeless let me know. I’ll take all the suggestions I can get – and I’m looking forward to being the only mounted games player in the US sporting a bitless bridle and a treeless saddle Maybe I’ll start a new trend.
What’s on your Christmas Wish List?
Images from the Barefoot Saddle Company.
On Monday the boys were able to break out their paintbrushes again. All three ponies painted two canvases each – all of which I love! We got kinda onto a “girly kick” with the colors, but after all who loves ponies more than a horse crazy little girl? And to top it off, the boys even broke out a bottle of glitter for the first time! I love how it gives their paintings a magical feel. Do you have a favorite?
Click on the images to see them in the SHOP.