Whats in a Swirl?

I recently stumbled across an article on Horse Nation about the significance of a horse’s swirl.

A swirl is a patch of hair growing in the opposite direction of the hair that surrounds the area. These swirls, also known as whorls, are most commonly found on the head, the face in particular. There are theories surrounding whorls and how they dictate personality characteristics in horses. Here are a few mentioned by Horse Nation:

1)      A whorl positioned right above the eyes represents the most common whorl and tends to result in an even-tempered and uncomplicated creature.

2)      Whorls below the eyes usually results in a horse with a higher IQ. In other words, this below-the-eye whorl horse might be a trickster who likes to plan his or her escape out of their stall in the morning. They are inquisitive and can be sneaky.

3)      Whorls on the left of the face could suggest a complicated but trustworthy horse.

4)      Whorls on the right can indicate an obstinate personality.

5)       Horses with one long whorl tend to be people-friendly.

6)      Double whorl horses can have multiple personalities. They tend to be more complicated and difficult to read at first glance.

7)      Three or more whorls are extremely rare and suggest unpredictability… so watch out!

So for fun, lets look at the Painting Ponies!

Minnow - Swirl // Painting Pony

Blitz swirl // Painting Pony

Minnow and Blitz have the classic swirl meaning their even-tempered and uncomplicated creatures. Not sure that exactly describes them.

Boomer in the snow // Painting Pony

Painting Pony Blog // Chincoteague Ponies in the Snow

Boomer’s is a longer swirl just above his eyes indicating he’s people friendly but also uncomplicated and even tempered. I would say Boomer is for sure people friendly and I guess he is pretty uncomplicated but he can certainly have an explosive streak. (Bronco bucking has been his hardest habit to break when he’s excited)!

Now I have another horse that has a pretty unique swirl, Niatross aka Nitro is my now 28 year old retired dressage horse.


Nitro at USDF Young Rider Championships

It’s hard to tell in these photos, but Nitro actually has a double swirl, meaning he can have multiple personalities and also be more complicated and difficult to read at first glance. That’s pretty much Nitro to a T. He’s one of the most challenging horses I’ve ever owned!

What story does your horses’ swirl tell?

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The Chincoteague Ponies take to Sledding

Finally this past weekend I got a chance to do something I’ve been waiting to do for a while now! With some snow that stuck around long enough for me to enjoy it I lugged one of my snow tubes to the farm to go sledding with the ponies!

The Chincoteague Ponies go Sledding // Painting Pony

We rigged up a make-shift harness with an old breast plate and an elastic wrap to keep it tied around their middle. Now if your horse is already accustomed to pulling a cart than pulling a sled isn’t much different, however none of our ponies have ever pulled a cart.

Having already exposed all three of our chincoteagues to dragging objects behind them (old grain bags, tarps, etc) we figured they’d probably take to pulling a sled too. Boomerang was the first pony we brought out because he’s probably the most laid back and willing.

All it took were a few clicks and rewards to reinforce him for pulling the sled (which I did by walking on the ground with him first) and he pretty much knew the drill.

The Chincoteague Ponies go Sledding // Painting Pony

Eventually I hopped on him bareback and asked him for more. Pretty soon he was cantering around happily – in fact he was so ok with it that we eventually broke out the snowboard too!

The Chincoteague Ponies go Sledding // Painting Pony

I love how the clicker training I use with my ponies has prepared Boomer so well to try anything. When I reward him for his efforts he’s so willing to give me all he can – positive reinforcement goes a long way!

The Chincoteague Ponies go Sledding // Painting Pony

Minnow was next and despite being a little cautious about the sled at first he was very willing to pull along a passenger. Minnow will always try his heart out for me, and I had no doubt he’d be willing to pull the sled if I asked him.

Blitz took a turn with the sled too, and my mom even hopped on him bareback (something she hadn’t done since she had her accident while riding bareback with him several years ago).

We had so much fun that now we have something to look forward to the next time it snows!

Have you ever been sledding with your horses?

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Boomerang Learns to Sit

Boomer is one of those rare ponies that will do just about anything for his “person”, combine that with the fact that he’s pretty fearless – makes the things he can accomplish (in a short amount of time) quite amazing.

So last week I decided I wanted to teach Boomer to sit on some beanbag chairs I had been saving since I was a kid – just for this reason. He had already had some practice targeting his rear end to things, but I had never fully gotten him to sit on anything from a stand-still.

Boomer the Chincoteague Pony Learns to Sit // Painting Pony

After a few short sessions over a period of 3 days I had him successfully sitting on his bean bags. He was very proud of himself once he figured out what I wanted and now he doesn’t even want to get off of the beanbags.

Boomer the Chincoteague Pony Learns to Sit // Painting Pony

As he progresses in his training I will slowly remove some of the beanbags until he can hopefully just use one to sit on.

Next he’ll be learning to shake hands while sitting on his beanbag! He’s such a cool pony!

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From Inspiration to Canvas

Inspiration for painting ponies and I can come from anywhere, and in this case it came when I found this image on Pinterest.

Painting Pony Inspiration

A DIY painting project from Dans Le Townhouse, I knew this idea was just up Minnow’s alley.

Minnow the Painting Pony - abstract canvas

So last Sunday Minnow created his very own take on it by painting “Swell Waves” an original 11 x 14 canvas. I covered the top of the canvas beforehand with a piece of kraft so that the top would stay blank and left the rest up to Minnow.

chincoteague minnow on assateague island

We think it’s pretty cool! This original painting will be making the trek to Chincoteague with us next week during Pony Penning and will be available for purchase at the Chincoteague Pony Centre during their evening shows.

Since we know not everyone can make it to pony penning we’re also making it available for purchase from now until Sunday, July 22nd via our blog. If anyone is interested in purchasing this one-of-a-kind art please e-mail us at for more details. First come first serve.


P.S. Have you been hearing all the news about the stallions from Assateague swimming their herds over to Chincoteague early? Three stallions have done so thus far and there are now 37 horses already in the carnival grounds! Find out more details on our Facebook page.

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I Workout – Chincoteague Minnow trains for Pony Penning 2012

Minnow has been in training for the past few months as I’ve begun teaching him new tricks and a new skit for Pony Penning 2012!

Chincoteague Pony Minnow trains for Pony Penning 2012

Minnow especially loves this time of year as he LIVES to perform and learn new tricks. He’s a total ham even when the only audience is me, Ammo the Dachshund, and my camera.

Chincoteague Pony Minnow trains for Pony Penning 2012

Minnow’s 2012 Pony Penning Skit should be really fun – and we can’t wait to debut it at the Chincoteague Pony Centre this year.

Chincoteague Pony Minnow trains for Pony Penning 2012

We’ve been sharing bits and pieces of Minnow’s new act on our Facebook Page, but if you want to see the entire performance you’ll just have to make the trek to Pony Penning this year (or book us for your next event).

Chincoteague Pony Minnow trains for Pony Penning 2012

We’re also going to be working on a new DVD featuring several of Minnow’s favorite performances that will be available for purchase for those of you that won’t be able to see Minnow in person. Once we have that available we’ll be sure to share it with everyone!

Chincoteague Pony Minnow trains for Pony Penning 2012

In the meantime though, you can check out our online shop where we not only have a collection of paintings, but also the Trick Ponies of Chincoteague DVD that features all the ponies and one of Minnow’s earlier performances.

Chincoteague Pony Minnow trains for Pony Penning 2012

And now, here’s a few more photos of what’s been going on around the farm lately….

Chincoteague Pony Minnow trains for Pony Penning 2012

Chincoteague Pony Minnow trains for Pony Penning 2012

Chincoteague Pony Minnow trains for Pony Penning 2012

Chincoteague Pony Minnow trains for Pony Penning 2012

We hope to see you at the pony swim this year!


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