Posts Tagged ‘bitless bridle
Over the weekend we decided to take the ponies to the lake for a swim.
We brought along Blitz, Minnow, and Ammo the Dachshund as well as the ponies’ barn mate Lilah (for her very first swim).
Minnow’s no stranger to the lake, and considering that he was born on an island I think it’s pretty safe to say he loves the water. It felt good to take him on an adventure again as he hasn’t been anywhere since I think maybe pony penning last summer! (that’s far too long!)
Blitz is a bit more cautious about the water, and while he thoroughly enjoyed wading out pretty deep we still have yet to see him actually swim! (some day….)
But that didn’t stop him from having fun in the lake!
Minnow on the other hand graciously gave EVERYONE a swim, even Ammo hopped aboard for his very first swim session on the back of a pony.
I can’t wait to take the ponies back to the lake again soon. It’s the absolute best way to keep cool on a hot summer day!
P.S. Thanks to our friends at My Life, Naturally for providing some of the photos for this post!
Over the 4th of July Weekend we packed up the ponies (Boomerang, Blitz, and “sister” Jet) and headed north 5 hours to New York. The plan was to spend the weekend camping with the horses, trail riding, and competing in a Cowboy Race.
While Boomer has competed in a few cowboy races before, this was the largest course we had been on – with a lot of new obstacles our ponies had never encountered.
The way this course was run was that the day before and day of riders could introduce their horses to the obstacles, but you would not learn the course you were riding until right before you competed.
Some of the obstacles were similar to things you might see on a cross-country jump course, while others were designed to look very out of the ordinary (for most horses).
This was Boomer’s first competition since last summer, and the first real event he’s been to since his injuries this winter. We discovered Boomer had been bruising his front ankles on the entrance to our shed all winter (likely for years) every time he backed out quickly (most likely because the other ponies chased him out) as well as inflammation in his tendon sheath on a back hind leg (probably from running around like a crazy pony in the pasture over the winter).
I’ve since discovered that because of these injuries Boomer is now very sensitive to being asked to back up over things, or walk over things that he thinks might hit his ankles (for fear of it hurting). So we will be starting over in a sense on a lot of obstacles that he was once unfazed by, and trying to build his confidence so he doesn’t have to worry that he will injure himself. Not to mention he now wears boots for protection 24/7.
Also because Boomer was just getting back into the swing of competing my plan was to take it easy with him. No racing around, no tight spins, no jumping. Well a lot of the course required some speed, and despite my best efforts to keep him going a relaxed pace….Boomer had other plans. He also decided it would be much more fun to jump the obstacles than trot over them….silly pony! At least he had fun!
I would say Boomer’s favorite obstacle was these “porcupine” noodles. With clicker training I’ve taught him to walk his face through “noodles”, so he loved rubbing his face all over them.
One of the more challenging obstacles on the course was the pinwheel. You had to lift a (heavy) board off a barrel and spin it around. The challenging part was not moving too quickly and keeping the board from falling off the barrel on the other end.
Another challenging obstacle was the trailer load. You had to load your horse into a strange trailer with streamers on the course.
I was proud of Boomer for mastering the tire cross. He was very unsure of it the first day I introduced it to him, but by the time he had to compete he was confident enough to cross it with ease.
My sister’s mare Jet also came with us, and did great on the course! She hasn’t been exposed to as many obstacles as our Chincoteagues, but she tried her heart out on the course and held her own against all the cowboys. Even in english tack!
I’ve found a lot of these courses are designed for riders that ride western – requiring the horn for some things. It’s sort of a bummer that I think a lot of time us english riders (my saddle is a treeless english saddle) are discouraged from participating in events like these (or looked down on because we ride english). But as you can see, just because I ride english doesn’t mean I can’t do all the same things. I ride english to do team penning, ranch sorting, trail riding, mounted shooting, cowboy races and more! I don’t think it should matter what type of saddle (or even bitting too in some cases) I chose to put on my horse.
Blitz also competed in the “on-line” division and did great! He took home first place in his class.
Boomer was all smiles by the end of the weekend adventure! I’m not sure when we will be back to New York again (it was a long long drive!) but it was a fun trip.
On the way home one of our trailer tires burst! Thankfully everyone was ok, and after unloading a pony on the side of the road & popping on our spare we were no worse for wear.
Have you been camping with your horse? Any recommendations on places to go for our next adventure?
P.S. I hope to have a video to share of Boomer on the course soon. Since the grounds were so large a lot of the video is shot far away, so I’ll have to see how much of it turned out (without it looking like tiny little ants are running the race).
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!
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.
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!
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!
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?
Each year our ponies are invited to perform during Pony Penning week at the Chincoteague Pony Centre. This great honor is the main purpose of our trip each year – and something we look forward to.
This year we decided to bring two ponies, the ever talented Chincoteague Minnow and his buddy Chesapeake Boomerang. This was Boomer’s first trip to Pony Penning and his first time ever performing tricks in front of a crowd.
Boomer settled in quite easily, and Minnow enjoyed having a buddy to boss around with him. Minnow quickly took on the roll of head “stallion” and kept a close eye on his younger pal Boomerang.
One of the first ponies they met on the trip was Boomer’s little half sister Juniper, who had been born on the last day of June. Boomer was particularly fascinated by her, and took every chance he had to get close to her.
Juniper reminded me a lot of Boomer, fearless and brave – not much fazed her, even as she plodded around the arena in the nightly shows at the Pony Centre.
When it came time for our boy’s performances in the Pony Shows at the Centre Minnow performed like the pro he is.
Minnow opened each show by painting a special work of art that would later be auctioned off to the highest bidder.
Minnow always does his best work while on the island, and he created 8 wonderful paintings that all went off to happy new homes.
Later in the show Minnow came back out for everyone to sing Happy Birthday to him as we celebrated his 20th Birthday. He loved being the center of attention.
Now Boomer had spent the weeks leading up to Pony Penning learning a trick skit that he would perform during the shows. Having never even performed in public before let alone learn an entire performance, this was a completely new experience for Boomer. And honestly I wasn’t sure how he would react.
Boomer’s skit was based on the idea that he was headed off to Trick Pony School, and as his teacher I had lessons that he had to learn. Here you see me holding up a photo of Misty shaking hands with Marguerite Henry, and then asking him to mimic the photo by shaking my hand.
The first time Boomer entered the arena things seemed to be going well, and then the crowd let out a cheer and applause and he about jumped out of his skin – bolting to the gate. I was able to get him to return to his pedestal to perform each trick, but every time the crowd clapped he would again bolt to the gate.
Amazingly Boomer performed every single trick I asked him to – including his spectacular sit on the beanbag trick, he was just clearly frightened of the clapping. But about the 3rd performance in he started to get over it and by the end of the week he could of cared less that people were cheering and clapping for him.
Boomer got so into his performances that he knew the order of tricks that were coming before I could even ask him to perform them. I would have to rush to get his beanbags set up for him before he decided just to sit on the ground!
I was so pleased with how he did, and I think everyone loved his big personality. He did a wonderful job showing just how smart and talented these Chincoteague Ponies are, and I’m sure this is just the first of many performances for Boomer.
On our last day on the island Boomer got to compete in the Pony Show’s Extreme Pony Race – I think he was a bit surprised to enter the arena this time with a jump in front of him, but he did well – and only threw in a few small bucks! I was relieved he didn’t decide to show the crowd his bronco bucking skills!
By the end of the week I was so proud of both of my boys. Thinking back on how far both of them have come, and how talented and amazing they are makes me proud. I love being able to share these amazing ponies with people and I hope everyone that gets to meet them think they are just as special as I do.
Tomorrow I’ll be back to share all about of experience at the epic Chincoteague Pony Swim, and you can read all about the Beach Walk in yesterday’s post.
You can check out all the photos from the beach walk, pony swim and auction HERE. They are also available for purchase!
Lately we have been doing a lot of cattle work. We’ve gone to a couple ranch sorting clinics and we’ve even tried some team penning. Boomer has really started to enjoy chasing cows, and I think my favorite of them all is the team penning!
Here’s a short video of Boomer trying some team penning, this is only his 4th time on cattle.
On this particular trip we even brought along my sister’s mare for her first time on cattle. She was a natural and jumped right in to chasing cows.
Perhaps someday we’ll get our own cattle on the farm, because it seems all the ponies really enjoy moving them around!