Archive for February, 2011
Today we are off to the Extreme Cowboy Race at the Harrisburg, PA Horse World Expo! If you are in the area stop by and watch Boomerang compete on Saturday at 9:15am in the Equine Arena! If we qualify we will move onto the finals on Sunday at 9:15am in the Large Arena!
You can follow updates of the event over on our Facebook Page.
But before we leave, I wanted to give everyone the first look at Boomerang’s latest trick. Mastered in a mere 10 minutes, Boomer can now show everyone his pearly whites with a beaming smile! Ok so maybe they aren’t that pearly…..but atleast he looks happy!
Have I mentioned I love my pony? Because I do. (I love them all in fact). But right now, Boomerang deserves some extra praise.
Over the weekend I set up a little mock obstacle course for him at another farm. This was an arena Boomer hasn’t been to in over a year – and many of the obstacles he had never seen before. It was sort of a test for me and him – to see if I could memorize a course, and if he could keep himself composed enough to complete all of the tasks. All in preparation for the Extreme Cowboy Race.
Boomer got a small warm up in a corner of the arena to start, but he wasn’t allowed to look at any of the obstacles.
We had a few sticky spots, which was to be expected. It was a lot harder to line him up for the “L” back-up than I expected without being able to first walk through it. And we had a little bobble on our second flying lead change. And the refusal at the barrels was sort of something I expected – in hindsight I probably could have really insisted he did it – but if you recall I’m a weenie when it comes to jumping. So that was partially my fault.
The gate opening/closing was a little tricky up at the far end. It didn’t really work out because what you couldn’t see was that once you opened the gate there was a sharp hill – which made it really difficult for me to hold the gate and not topple down the hill by throwing Boomer off balance. In the end I had to skip it because the second part of the gate swung open accidentally (it was supposed to be stuck into the ground), so we’ll have to practice that again at home sometime.
The tent at the end was a little scary for Boomer, but this was also the first time he had ever seen it, not to mention we had REALLY high winds that day. After the video was cut I had him walking under it with ease. So hopefully next time it will be a non-issue.
Overall I was really proud of Boomer’s progress. He’s come a long way in a few weeks. I won’t expect him to be perfect come time for the event, but I will expect him to try for me.
After our obstacle course we practiced a few elements. I even let Boomer run through bending poles – which we haven’t done since last mounted games season. He was so cute and swapped his leads at every pole and his end spin is phenomenal..I think it’s all that roll back work!
Come watch us at the Extreme Cowboy Race at the Harrisburg PA Horse World Expo. Feb 24 – 27!
Today I took Boomerang back to the indoor arena where we had a little trouble settling him last weekend. HUGE improvement! Even the gun shots from the neighboring shooting range didn’t phase him this time.
We were able to get lots of practice in on our roll backs, side passing, backing, flying leads and jumping. Boomerang’s biggest issue is anticipation. Basically he’s too smart for his own good. If he does one amazing side pass, and gets praise from me, he tends to try offering his “amazing side pass” too soon – before I am even able to ask him for it. Sometimes this isn’t a bad problem to have, but other times, maybe I don’t want to side pass. Maybe I just want to stop and stand. This is something we will have to work on, and with Boomerang it’s important that I’m always doing something different to keep his mind engaged. He’s not the type of pony that does well with repetition, he’s just too smart for that. Some horses thrive on repetition. Trotting a cloverleaf pattern over and over might be something that calms them, but Boomerang needs variety. Variety gets him concentrating and always on his toes, never able to anticipate what I might ask him to do next.
I was able to get a few videos of our little session in the indoor today.
As you can see we redeemed ourselves in the jumping portion! haha. Also, in case you can’t tell in the videos – I always ride Boomerang in a bitless bridle.
At the end of our session we practiced a few laydowns in the arena. I always like to practice some of our harder tricks when we go new places, that way I can always count on the ponies performing them when the “pressure” to perform is higher. I was even able to capture Boomer in the sit position once with my clicker. I don’t think it will take to long to get this on cue in the future when we have a little more time to work on it.
The Hunter/Jumpers who were schooling in the arena the same time as me probably thought I was from another planet. With my stocky little Chincoteague Pony that does roll backs and flying leads and then promptly lays down on command. Although one of them did say they wished they had a trick pony too.
Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t jump. Well let me rephrase that. It’s not that I DON’T jump my ponies, it’s that I don’t like to jump my ponies. I have nothing against it, at all, it’s just that I like to keep all 4 feet of my mount on the ground.
I’m pretty sure the reason stems from one of my childhood ponies, Oopsie Daisy. With a name like Oopsie I’m sure you can see where this is going. Dear Oopsie (may he rest in peace) was an amazing pony who taught me so much. Oopsie excelled at Dressage and Mounted Games, however he HATED to jump. When I met Oopsie at the age of 10 he had a mild disdain for jumping, occasionally refusing a jump or two like any pony would, but as each year passed he began to despise it even more. To the point where at the end of his career you could barely get him to jump an 18″ fence.
I consider myself a pretty tough rider. I was never one of the kids to burst in to tears after being dumped by a runaway pony (not that there is anything wrong with that – we all know how scary it can be). I was just always the kid that popped up after being dumped into a fence, dusted off my pants, caught my pony, and tried it again. But I think probably after the millionth time of being thrown in front of, onto, or over top of a fence, jumping started to loose it’s appeal to me.
By the age of 13 I announced to
the world my mom that I was going to be a dressage rider (this is also around the time I discovered Mounted Games). No more eventing, no more stadium jumping – it probably was a pretty wise decision for the sake of my relationship with my pony, as well as his happiness. I eventually upgraded my quirky pony to 16.3 hand Nitro – my dressage protege. Somehow I traded one jumping phobia for another, in a horse that excelled at stadium jumping – but thought a cross-country fence would gobble him up whole. But I managed to (maybe not gracefully) complete a c-2 pony club rating on him in 2006, complete with cross-country and stadium jumping. I just won’t mention the water jump incident nor the 5 spills at the ditch jump.
So what exactly am I leading up to? Well the video I am about to show you, and the fact that jumping IS NOT IN MY SKILL SET!
Don’t worry, no horses or people were harmed.
Also, apparently I did not know you were supposed to turn the phone to record video. Sorry for the weird angle, still trying to figure out the iphone
Atleast we did eventually make it over the fence. Boomerang actually LOVES to jump, unfortunately for him his rider has no idea what they are doing. I’m sorry Boomer, I will try better next time.
Is it just me or does this winter feel like it’s dragging on forever? The snowfall we’ve gotten in Pennsylvania seems to just have stuck around FOREVER, making it nearly impossible for me to do any sort of training with the boys in the arena at our farm. Needless to say I have been trailering Boomerang out every weekend to get in some much needed training before the Extreme Cowboy Race.
We’re narrowing down on crunch time and I’ve been taking him to every possible place I can think of to get him better accustomed to new arenas, new surroundings, and strange things. Last weekend we went to an indoor filled with jumps, and a fair amount of snow falling off the roof. It was a scary place – if you’re a horse. Boomer was a little nervous at first, and we dealt with some “young pony” bucking. But in the end I was able to refocus him, and he did some really nice flying lead changes and much improved sidepassing.
Boomer still has a lot to learn, and for a 6 year old Chincoteague Pony (who’s breed notoriously matures late) he still has a lot of growing up to do. But when I look back to 2 years ago when he came to live with me at 4 years of age – I know he’s come a long way. Coming from a Hunter background, living with me was a complete change for Boomer.
Suddenly he was being asked to run – and run fast, perform tricks, and encounter strange equipment on a daily basis. Trail riding was even a challenge for him, as he had difficulty learning how to balance down a hill with a rider on his back. But Boomer has taken everything I ask of him in stride.
This winter has been no exception. I plucked him from a month long break over Christmas, carted him all over the county, and proceeded to speed train him to do flying lead changes, sidepassing, leg yielding, gate opening, rollbacks, and more – all in a time frame that most would say is pretty impossible. But Boomerang did it, and has managed to master pretty much everything I’ve thrown at him so far. I hope that we can continue the momentum and show everyone at the Expo just how amazing these Chincoteague Ponies are. Most people watching will probably have no idea the amount of effort I’ve put into working with Boomerang.
It almost makes me wish I could play a little before video – like how they do on reality tv shows – a sort of “this is where we came from” tribute. Regardless, I know where we’ve come from and how much work it’s taken to get here. And when this competition is all over…..I can finally sleep at night! I’m so exhausted!