Posts Tagged ‘obstacle course

Versatile Chincoteague Ponies

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted something, but that doesn’t mean the ponies haven’t been BUSY! We’ve held a few events at the farm, and all the ponies have been getting exercised regularly in preparation for a very special trip we’re taking this weekend.

We’re loading up the trailer and taking all three ponies down to Chincoteague Island, Virginia to participate in a beach ride on Assateague Island with our friends from the Chincoteague Pony Centre! I’m so excited to ride MY ponies on the beach for the very first time ever – and to also bring Minnow back to the island where he was born 18 years ago.

I’ve had this trip on my bucket list for a long time now and even though the weather this weekend is looking not so great – I’m still excited to go on this adventure.

Part of the adventure is being able to ride on the beach, and considering Minnow has been in retirement since 2008 due to his ringbone, I figured it was time for him to be saddled up. Minnow hasn’t had a saddle on in about 2 years and although I do exercise him to keep his weight down and occasionally hop on him bareback I needed to make sure he remembered what a girth felt like before our beach ride. Mostly likely Minnow will just do some light walking on the beach and Boomerang will take me on the 2 hour ride, but it was still important to get a practice saddling in before the trip.

minnow spanish walk

Minnow practicing his Spanish Walk

So after one of our shows at the farm we decided to run all three ponies through the obstacle course we had set up (none of the ponies had done this specific course before). Below are videos of all three ponies completing the course. Minnow did exceptionally well considering he hasn’t really been ridden in 2 years (he does get exercised regularly in the ring by allowing him to free-lounge himself) – it’s such a testament to how much he really trusts me.

Minnow:

Blitz:

Boomerang:

So if you were our judge who would have won? We typically judge on accuracy, how relaxed & willing the horse is, and how the rider executes the tasks (speed is not a factor) – this would of been a tough one to judge between our 3 ponies – just goes to show what a great attitude these Chincoteague Ponies have.

Anyone else ever ridden their horse on the beach? Did you know that Assateague Island allows beach rides in the fall season, and you can even camp on the island with your horse. So if it’s your dream too – it is possible!

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June Extreme Cowboy Challenge

Last weekend we took Boomer and Blitz to an Extreme Cowboy Challenge about an hour from us at JC Cutting Horses. We had never been there before – and this is a different type event, not to be confused with Craig Cameron’s Extreme Cowboy RACE.

The Extreme Cowboy RACE is more a RACE, with emphasis on speed AND the horse’s willingness to maneuver obstacles. Extra points are given for above and beyond as well. The event we attended was a series put on by JC Cutting Horses, where they actually prefer you to do most obstacles very slowly. Scores are given based on the horse’s performance only – and how versatile they appear. You could also earn extra points for showing off extra maneuvers your horse might be able to do.

I had a little bit of a tough time remembering it wasn’t a race. Boomer is a RACING pony, so naturally our canter gaits are much faster than they probably should have been for this type of event. I also kept forgetting that unlike the Craig Cameron EXCR, you did not have a time limit to perform an obstacle.

I entered Boomer into the intermediate division and was looking forward to trying the open division and even the ranch riding division – which boasted roping a mechanical bull as well as more advanced maneuvers. Unfortunately we didn’t realize they didn’t have a food booth at this event, and by 2pm my mom and I were starving. So we opted to head home early – so we could get something to eat.

It ended up being a really fun day, and we met lots of nice people. I’m very much looking forward to coming back to their next one – and I’m dying to give the mechanical bull a try, I’ve even been practicing my roping.

I’m not sure what we ended up placing – as they only announce 1st & 2nd (the jackpot winners) – but we more went for the experience anyway. Even Blitz participated in the schooling session with my mom – I’m going to work on a short video of him soon, showing just how much progress he’s made in the past few months. His transformation is amazing and my mom has put so much effort into making him a nice pony.

Here’s a short video of the highlights of my ride with Boomer.

We’re hoping to pick some dates for the farm to have a gymkhana/extreme cowboy type event soon. We’ve been gathering some ideas with all the places we’ve been going to lately and can’t wait to host our own show at the farm!

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Jackpot Obstacle Course

On Sunday we had a mounted games event at the farm. During these events we also like to add on a fun jackpot obstacle course for everyone. It’s great experience for the ponies & riders, and it’s fun to challenge yourself to try something new. Each time we have them the course gets bigger and better, and the riders that participate begin to grow. We’re hoping that this will turn into a popular event – as it really is a blast!

Here’s a quick video of Boomerang and I doing a run-through of the course before the show. We ended up making a few modifications, like taking out the “gate” which inevitably ended up being too much of a challenge. :)

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Extreme Cowboy Race 2011 – Preliminary Round

6 weeks ago I decided to do something I’ve never done before. I knew it would be hard, I knew it would be stressful, I knew it would make me stronger.

Last weekend I competed in Craig Cameron’s Extreme Cowboy Race.

In the 6 weeks leading up to the competition Boomerang and I trained intensely. We took western lessons, I transported him to every arena in our area that I could so that he got used to new surroundings, we practiced new obstacles, and tested our abilities to focus in stressful situations. But I knew going into this that there would be elements we couldn’t prepare for. The unknown was scary.

We arrived at the Horse World Expo in Harrisburg PA on Thursday. I had never been there before as a “participant”, and let me tell you, it’s a scary scary place for a horse.

Winding halls lined with stalls, electric “garage” doors, echos, loud noises, carts, dogs, and people – everywhere.

Boomerang handled everything pretty well. Immediately I began schooling him in the indoor arenas every chance I got. I wanted him to be comfortable with his surroundings before the preliminary race on Saturday. The indoor arenas at “schooling time” were an obstacle in and of itself. Not only did LOTS of horses and riders attempt to use them at the same time, but there were teams hooked to carts, horses being lunged, as well as the horses that freaked out as soon as they entered the arenas. Navigating around in them was an obstacle in and of itself. The only thing that I couldn’t prepare for was the noise of a cheering crowd. As the days went on I saw many horses freeze in fear or bolt in any direction possible after hearing their first round of applause. I’m not gonna lie, it made me nervous. I had no idea what Boomer would do when we had to walk into that arena on Saturday. Would he bolt, would he buck, would he refuse to listen to my commands, would I be able to regain control?

If you follow along with the Painting Ponies on our Facebook Page, then you already know what happened. But for everyone else, here is the video of our preliminary round in the Extreme Cowboy Race:

If you look closely in the beginning of the video, you will notice what did happen when the crowd applauded for the first time – Boomer had a little “fear reaction”. But at about 0.34 seconds you can see what I did to refocus him. I asked him to halt, and when he listened and stopped moving his feet I clicked and rewarded him. And that’s all it took to remind him that listening to me was much more worth it than worrying about what the crowd did. :)

Our preliminary ride actually put us in 2nd place out of 23 riders and earned us a spot in the Finals on Sunday (where only 11 were chosen).

I was so proud of Boomer. Our ride was far from perfect. I almost fell off when he spooked at something in the beginning of our lap around the arena, my roll backs were a little disappointing – considering Boomer can do them soooo much better, I could have cantered the barrel pattern, my sidepassing started a little sticky, and my keyhole pattern could have been done WAY faster. But it doesn’t matter. I accomplished something. I rode against (and beat) several professional horse trainers, I did western reining patterns in english tack, I rode in a Dr. Cook’s Bitless Bridle (we were the only pair to ride bitless), and I competed in my very first Extreme Cowboy Race.

Craig Cameron (the announcer and organizer of these events) and his crew were impressed to say the least. I don’t think expected what they saw, heck I didn’t even expect it.

But it really didn’t matter what anyone else thought. It mattered that in a mere 7 minutes I had managed to challenge the relationship I shared with my pony, and we came out the other end victorious. I felt like if we could accomplish this, there’s not limit to what we can do. Not only did I teach Boomer some of these western maneuvers in a mere 6 weeks – but I did it without spurs and without a bit. yeah!

You can see more photos from our first round on the Painting Pony Facebook Page, and check back tomorrow to hear all about the Finals!

 

 

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Boomerang Obstacle Training

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!

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