On Friday, October 29th I proceeded to pack up the pony (Chincoteague Minnow) and the dog (Ammo the Dachshund) for a big journey to Doswell, Virginia for the 2010 Equine Extravaganza. I had entered the boys into the 2010 Got Talent Contest, and we spent the past month or so perfecting our new skit. We were only able to practice the skit in it’s entirety about 4 times before we left, so my fingers were crossed that everything would go smoothly.
I’m not going to lie, I was pretty nervous before hand. Although I have been performing with Minnow for several years now – this was the first time the two of them would perform a skit together that required them to wait stationary while I worked with one and then the other. This was also the biggest venue we have ever performed in. Usually it’s local horse shows, camp demonstrations, and the once-a-year trip to the Chincoteague Pony Centre (which Ammo has never been to). Never a venue alongside well-known trainers/performers like Kenny Harlow, Julie Goodnight, Lizzy Traband, etc.
I shouldn’t have been nervous though, because the boys knew what they were doing. Here’s a video of their performance, which had the crowd giggling in their seats the whole time!
Mark & Dusty opened the competition for us, and then we were followed by our fellow compeditiors.
Rachael & Casper
Taylor & Vesper
Then while the judges made their decisions Lizzy Traband closed out the competition
Each one of my competitors had something different for the crowd, and I loved how we had our own unique style. But in the end, my bubbly Dachshund – and the Chincoteague Pony that was born to perform took the winning title!
After the performance we got to enjoy the expo for the weekend. I got to meet and talk with animal trainer (for the movies), Doug Sloan, whom I will get a personal training session with in the near future as part of my winning prize. He was really nice to talk to, and we even talked about clicker training – and how he had clicker trainer, Karen Pryor, out to his farm to help him tap into training with this method. He told me about his new project horse whom he’s started with clicker training.
We also talked about Gracie, the trick mule who won the 2008 Talent Contest at the Equine Extravaganza. Gracie went on to stardom afterward, with the help of Doug Sloan, and starred in the Movie Get Low with Robert Duvall. She now travels with her trainer, Steve Foster, performing at venues and performing for television (she just finished filming a part in the show Larry the Cable Guy, which will air next year).
Fortunately I was able to catch Gracie’s Act at the Expo as well.
I enjoyed watching Gracie perform, you can tell her and Steve have a special bond. Although don’t tell Gracie, I still think Minnow is the better painter! I was excited to see that Steve trains Gracie with food rewards. I don’t think he uses “clicker training” per say, but I did notice him using a marker word of “Good Girl Gracie” occasionally. Later Steve filled in for Doug Sloan in a clinic (Doug missed most of the expo over the weekend due to being sick) on mule training (he admittedly told us he had never done a clinic before) – where he talked about training with kindness and food rewards. You could tell her truly loved his mule – although she may have needed a little refresher course on treat mugging – but Steve did say she had been performing all week and was a bit cranky. So we should give her the benefit of the doubt, after all she is a movie star!
We had a great weekend down in Doswell, Virginia – and I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone a bit to experience it. I think both Minnow (who wanted to keep performing all weekend long) and Ammo (who never tired of saying hello to fans) really had a fun time. The best part was that I got to enjoy a beautiful weekend with my favorite Dachshund & Chincoteague Pony. Can’t wait for our next performance!
Check out Ammo the Dachshund’s recap of the performance here.