Posts Tagged ‘training
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?
With our Pony Penning Trip just around the corner (next week!) Minnow has been doing a little painting to get ready.
With Paintbrush in mouth, he’s been creating some special masterpieces to take with us on the trip to the island.
Minnow is all smiles, as one of his favorite things to do is to paint!
Around here we like to think the mark of a true artist is the mess he leaves behind – and Minnow certainly knows how to make a mess!
See you all at Pony Penning 2013!
The date is quickly approaching for our annual homecoming of sorts as we travel back to where it all started, Chincoteague Island, for the annual pony swim and auction. Plans are being made and the training has begun as Painting Pony prepares once again to wow the crowds at the Chincoteague Pony Centre all week long!
Only this year is going to be different! Instead of just bringing the super talented Minnow, head Painting Pony and trick pony extrodinaire, we are brining TWO ponies! This year for the first time ever Chesapeake Boomerang aka Boomer will be performing in the nightly shows as well.
Boomer has been working tirelessly on learning new tricks and preparing to appear in front of a crowd, and we’re just excited as you are to see him perform. He’s also been brushing up on some classic reading in preparation for the big trip, because how could he have gotten this far in life without reading Misty of Chincoteague?
We couldn’t be more excited for this year’s trip, and we hope you’ll come visit us at the Chincoteague Pony Centre!
Painting Pony at the Chincoteague Pony Centre 2013
Monday, July 22, 2013 to Friday, July 26, 2013
4:00pm and 8:00pm
See Chincoteague Minnow paint and Chesapeake Boomerang perform at the Chincoteague Pony Centre during Pony Penning week. Last performance is at 4pm on July 26th.
Find out more about the Chincoteague Pony Penning HERE.
Last weekend we took a trip to Double Rock Farm to attend a beginner Ranch Sorting Clinic with Blitz and Boomer. You might remember that we’ve been to Double Rock before, where I introduced Boomer to his first cow.
Both ponies picked back up where we had left off last fall (before my knee surgery) and I think they both enjoyed bossing the cows around.
I noticed that Boomer really likes being able to move the cows with some speed, so I’m very much interested to try some team penning soon – which is a little bit more of a faster paced sport.
Below is a video of Boomer’s first time on the cows that day. I find the hardest part in Ranch Sorting is thinking ahead to where that cow might end up when you start to move it. But I know this will just improve the more we’re able to practice…..now if I could just talk my parents into getting some cattle on the farm!