Texas-Oklahoma Fair Trail Clinic

Yes, we are still kicking down here in Texas! It has been hot..and DRY..although not as hot as last year..but I have discovered, me personally, I am not “good” with heat anymore. The rides Pie and I have done have been early in the morning!

On September 12th, I trailered both Pie and Beebe up to our big Ag Center to participate in a Competitive Trail Clinic. I organized this clinic, with the help of a friend of mine Irene Sullivan, president of NCTHA (National Competitive Trail Horse Assoc.).

Some will remember we hosted the first NCTHA clinic back in April and had a GREAT time! This clinic, we had some new faces and some old faces..just what we like to see! The added bonus was, AQHA co-sponsered the clinic and sent us all sorts of GOODIES to give out!

Irene had some great new obstacles..outside of the normal slicker, mailbox and backing..we also had a “Cowboy curtain”, a teeter totter and a false gate! Each horse at the clinic made huge strides by the end and I think everyone went home with homework!

I did not ride..a friend of mine, Cryssy, rode Pie. Cryssy is a lifelong horsewoman, who is horseless at the moment. She rode Pie beautifuly and did a great job!

Some pictures!

*Casey & Beebe negotiate the “cowboy curtain”..yes those are pool noodles!

Casey and Beebe over the tarp

Friend of ours, Michele, and her wonderful gelding Charlie going over the “half teeter”

Pie and Cryssy “rocking” the full teeter! Could your horse do this?

Cryssy and Pie going thru the “false gate”..more noodles!!!

Casey and Beebe with their ribbon for being the youngest rider..other awards were given for most difficult horse, most persistant rider, best communication and best flying dismount! Yes, we have a good time!

Interested in learning more about Competitive Trail Riding? Some sites to check out!


Texas Trail Challenge


Come Take a Ride With Pie!

I  made this video the other when I rode Pie, to be able to share how cool it is to ride this fabulous pony..enjoy!

And of course, Pie had a nice roll in the dirt post bath..

Trail Ponies

One of the neat things about Chincoteague ponies, pretty much across the breed, is their pleasant, easy going demenor and their surefootedness on the trail.

Lately, we’ve been hitting the trails around our house…

Riding the pastures..

Beebe and Casey next to one of the HUGE piles of grubbed mesquite trees in our pasture.

Checking out the stock pond (which has water in it!!!)

Riding the path along the irrigation ditch

Of course, we can also encorporate competitive trail obstacles into our arena time..this is Pie practicing her “log drag”..an obstacle we may see at competitive trail events or stock horse competitions..she did pretty good!

Pie in the Bosal

One thing I have been aiming for, with training Pie, is taking the “traditional” path that many a reined cowhorse takes in their journey to becoming fully “broke”. Let me say, I have never brought a horse along like this, but I love the tradition behind it and heard such accolades about the process, I figured Pie would be as good as any horse to bring down this traditional path, progressing from snaffle, to bosal, to “two rein” and then to curb bit..

A bosal is not a bitless bridle..nor is it like many of the mechanical hackamores or even a sidepull.

They all function differently….

(above, a bosal and mecate, from Al Dunnings website)

(above a Jim Warner Hackamore..which encorporates a curb chain)

(above, a bitless bridle)

(above, Pie in a sidepull)

The bosal actually can trace it’s roots to the Spanish Moor’s, and was brought to America by Spain. For years, the Bosal was used pretty exclusively west of the Rocky Mountains and therefore was sometimes called the “california” style or “Vaquero”..for the spanish “cowboys” who employed this method of creating “bridle horses”.

The idea behind the progression of snaffle to bosal was

1. the snaffle teaches lateral flexion well..the bosal builds on that and starts teaching vertical flexion.

2. around the time a bosal was used, (3-4 years old), a young horse’s teeth were errupting, therefore carrying a bit could be uncomfortable.

3. the mecate, usually made of prickly horsehair, starts teaching the basics of neckreining.

(above, a bosal, mecate and hanger, made by Steve Guitron)

interestingly, the vaqueros actually started horses in a piece of equipment similar to a rope halter or sidepull, then the bosal..they progressively worked down to a smaller bosal and encorporated the spade bit the horse would evetually be ridden in..(this is where “two rein” comes in…the horse is ridden in a bosal AND a bit). When the english came to America, they brought with them the snaffle bit, and thus, the vaqueros encorporated the snaffle into their program. 🙂

A spade bit, while it looks monsterous to some, is actually only ment to be used on an older, well prepared horse with a FEATHER light touch. Riding a horse in a spade is akin to riding in a cadillac with power steering. Not every horse can “pack” a spade bit either. a traditionaly trained spade horse is the final step in this type of training..not every horse gets to this point..but the ones that do can akin their knowledge to having their PhD.

(above, Les Vogt on a finished bridle horse, complete with rein chains and Romel reins)

I bought a Bosal (bow-sal) and Mecate (Me-Ca-Tay) back in december and Ive been dieing to try it on Pie. This weekend, I finally got the chance..Although I havent gotten a traditional “hanger”, a browband headstall worked fine..and Pie did  really well.

The bosal is ridden abit differently then a snaffle, as you can lightly “bump” the bosal for a different cue, adding pressure to the horse’s nose and also using the knot under their chin(and why its totally different then a bitless, sidepull or hack). Gradually, the pressure is decreased as the horse starts to understand what the bosal means, while the rider continues to encorporate their seat and leg cues.

Pie really seemed relaxed and happy in the bosal..she kept wanting to stretch down into it and was very easy going and quiet..We will continue working on it, the first few rides are simply the horse getting used to the cues..but she is catching on quickly…I am excited to see how she progresses in this and the difference in her when she is moved into a curb bit evetually versus a horse that did not have time in the bosal. This type of training requires patience and time..but the benefits and rewards are great.

Below is a short video of her riding around abit in the bosal..

Robo Cow

Today, Pie and Beebe had a spring break adventure! We were invited by a friend of ours to go out to a local barn that trains cutting horses and introduce them to the “Pro Cutter”..aka Mechanical Cow..aka “Robo Cow”. 🙂

A mechanical cow is a training tool used by cutting and cowhorse trainers. It is a large stuffed cow, on a pulley system of sorts, that  is controled thru a handheld controler. the stuffed cow moves back and forth based on the buttons pushed on the controler. The benefits of working a horse on the pro cutter is that you can work on specific issues the horse may be having, as you control the “cow”..(something you cannot do with a real cow!) sometimes, the stuffed cow is replaced with a “Flag” (a piece of material) too.

the Pro Cutter Website

After the intial shock both Pie and Beebe had over seeing that stuffed cow ZING back and forth, both ponies gradually settled..Beebe was the bravest and thus earned a gold star today. Casey rode her very well..keeping her nose tilted abit into the pro cutter in proper form

Pie put in some good turns for me..watched the cow well (probably making sure it didnt try to eat her!)..it was a great experience for her…she put in a really nice stop at the end too..

It was definantly a unique experience for all of us and will greatly help in the ponies’ training for cattle events. Its always a great day when progress is made!



Practical Application of the Clicker

Many know that Pie has learned all her tricks utilizing the clicker. I’ve really found this method to make trick training FUN and encourage Pie to “think”.

What I come across alot of times though, is many people don’t realize the “practical” application that a clicker can be used for. Im not talking EVERYTHING needs to involve the clicker..but in certain circumstances, with certain horses, it can be benefical.

For example, Beezie Madden, who is an international show jumping competitior and rider of one of my favorite “famous” horses, Judgement, has utilized clicker training in a not so traditional way…by helping her horse overcome a fear of jumping liverpools!

an article mentioning Judgement’s success with the clicker

I always mention Beezie when folks ask about the clicker..if a Olympian can find a use for it, alot of folks probably could too!

Onto Pie and I’s experience! Being the weather is starting to warm up, Pie and I have put ourselves back into work, which means Pie’s slideplates have to go back on. Pie has always been alittle funny about having hind shoes put on..the hammering is the issue with her. I’ve taken some time to try and work with her on this..and while shes gotten better, this past time she was not particularly cooperative. Anytime Todd, our farrier tried to nail her plate on, she tried to jerk her foot away.:(

We got one plate on and then I decided to try utilizing the clicker for her other hoof. Anytime she stood quietly while Todd hammered, I clicked and treated. It worked! Pie stood stark still, did not try to jerk her hoof away and was extremly good. 🙂

This definantly covered something more then just “tricks” or even just “training”..this covered safety too!

You cannot win in a pulling match with a pony..the clicker allowed us to completly bypass the need to do that!

Odds N Ends…

January in Texas can be quite unpredictable, weatherwise. Some years we’ve had snow..some years I remember it hitting 70 degrees.

This past weekend, we had alittle of both…in a sense. Saturday dawned alittle chilly, but warmed up beautifully. I hauled Pie and Little Beebe down the road to a local ranch I give lessons at. Before I taught, Casey and I rode around the trails on the ranch. This place is right on the river and has “real” trees (not just mesquite) and was just great. Casey has been dieing to trail ride Beebe too..

So off we went..Casey and Beebe I think I had a fun time(see Beebe’s face, she is having a ball)

And Casey’s smile says it all..

He even got to lope her down the dirt road.

Pie was actually quite good..I got to thinking, she really has never been “trail ridden” per say. We had one spook, in which Pie jumped STRAIGHT up in the air (which put Casey into a fit of laughter, he was behind us)..but all in all, a good experience..I always count myself lucky not much actually scares Pie..and if she does spook, its a simple jump in place..no buck, no running off…Ive always felt that means my horse is thinking..kind of like if a person is startled..they dont run off, they jump..:)

Beebe of course is to worldy and ornery to be scared of anything..except mabey missing a meal..;)

Sunday dawned COOL..and got colder..but Casey and I snuck in a ride, again, between lessons..Casey rode Pie abit that day and I was so proud of both of them..Pie bridled up beautifully for Casey and jogged balanced and slow..much to Casey;s surprise. I have worked very hard to develop Pie’s collected jog. She can still speedtrot with the best of them..but comes right back if you ask.  She has also gotten really good at her backing..a simple weight shift and picking up my reins puts her backing..good girl Pie!

Looks like in afew weeks, we’ll put Pie’s slideplates back on and get back to serious work, preparing for events this year. We are starting to plan our scheduale for 2012..if you are interested in having Pie come and do a presentation or demo..please let us know so we can include you!

Wrap Up 2011

Happy New Year to all our followers! It’s been abit since I’ve posted, with the holidays, Pie has taken a well deserved “winter break”, although Pie is not one for “breaks”..she thrives on mental stimulation, so these past few days she has created her own fun by learning how to sneak out of her gate while feeding!

I always take a moment to reflect on the previous year and what we accomplished..2011 was a significant year for Pie, it was her first full year 1. being ridden and 2. actively doing demos and presentations.

Lets take a run down memory lane!

April 2011-Pie and I gave a demo to the Obiedience Training Club of Wichita Falls

just like Misty!

July 2011-

Pie visited both Christ Academy AND Day Z Summer Camp!

October 2011-

We visited Park Place Christian Church for their annual Blessing of the Animals. Pie got to go INSIDE the church and meet everyone!

We also again represented the Chincoteague Pony breed during the WCEHC Breed Expo

November 2011-

We were invited to the PETS Pantry fundrasier

Pie has really come into her own doing these demos, I honestly think she loves doing them and knows what a big responsibility she has, she has not put a hoof wrong doing all this, which is even more impressive considering she is only 3 years old.

Other significant events of 2011

-Pie and I had our story on the front page of our local paper in October

I also won the Gift of the Horse essay contest, winning a prize pack from renowned trick trainer Carol Fletcher, for writing an essay on why I was her biggest fan.


September, Pie attended a SHOT clinic, where she worked a cow for the first time and did GREAT!

Pie also learned how to say “yes” and “shake hooves”.

She also created a special piece with the painting dog Kate to help the Chincoteague Pony Rescue.

A full year to say the least!

2012 I hope will be as successful. Some goals we are shooting for are

-do more presentations (we love those!)

-Work on Pie’s counting with her hooves

-Acheive success using the bosal

-Pie would like to compete at her first Stock Horse of Texas show this year too!

Time will tell…and of course, we will keep all our fans updated on the blog. Thank you to everyone who has followed us via the blog, offered comments and encouragment on the blog or in person. I am so grateful for the support Pie and I have received from all our friends. I am most grateful though for being able to share 2011 with Pie herself. 🙂




Mastering the Turnaround-progression

Last Saturday, My coach Terri Fox came out to Coyote Creek Ranch to conduct a day’s worth of group lessons. The day’s weather dawned dry, but VERY cold. As the morning progressed, the rain started.

I think all of us hung tough for pretty long, but soon even the horses were about at their wit’s end..luckily, the indoor down the road was open, so we loaded up and finished the day down there.

I worked alot on Pie’s turnarounds..or spins..that day. Terri has worked with us on this before. The spin seems to be one of the most differently taught manuvers out there..but the basic ideas are all the same..at least, if they are done correctly. A big thing to remember is, a spin is always FORWARD motion…in place..:)..talk about an oxymoron!

First, the horse must understand that outside rein pressure means to move that corresponding shoulder..I worked alot on this with Pie over the summer. She needed to learn to “give” me her shoulder with that pressure..and by pressure I dont mean huge amounts..as much as needed.

Now that Pie understands to move her shoulder..I can now apply pressure and have her start to move her corresponding leg and she will turn. going to the left she is really getting good..adding some speed and keeping her hind stationary. to the right, we are still working on keeping that hind end abit more stationary..but I am pleased to say we got two NICE turns with alittle speed to the right!

This is us working on shoulder movement..the pre-exercise..you can see she is crossing over in the front in response to my rein pressure, her nose is tilted to the inside of her turn..and she is pivoting pretty well. 🙂

(check out the cool indoor too behind us! yes that is a glass viewing room!)

Casey and Beebe came too..Casey learned how to post to a trot…which I think he appreciated..:)..then he and Paul played a game of tag. Beebe held her own against the much bigger Lilly, in terms of keeping up.

They seemed to have a fun time..

It was a cold day..a miserable day..but thankfully for the indoor, it was a GOOD day! I think I had five layers of clothes on..thank goodness Pie has her fuzzy bear coat..she is pretty tough, both her and Beebe didnt seem bothered by the weather. 🙂

2011 Horse Expo and Show

October 15th was the second annual Breed Alley at the Wichita Co. Horse Expo in Wichita Falls. This breed alley was my own brainchild, my goal being to bring attention to some of the “non quarter and paint horse” breeds of the general area.

It was a big success last year and this year proved similar. We had more horses this year. the breeds represented were Azteca, Chincoteague Pony (of course!), Friesians, Gypsy Horse, Mo. Foxtrotter, Shire, Warmblood, Morgan and Peruvian Paso.

Our booth

This year, Pie was actually ridden, unlike last year when I led her. Pie is not one to hold her feelings to herself and it was pretty obvious she wasnt super keen on spending 2 days in a stall, espcially being she lives outside at home. She did well, because I asked her..but I know she would have prefered her favorite dust hole to being CLEAN in a stall..Pie prefers to be filthy.

Pie trying to escape out the stall door

I debated on music to our freestyle and finally decided on Train’s “Hey Soul Sister”..this song always reminds me of Pie, its upbeat and happy..like her. Our freestyle went well..We had some speed change and a really nice turnaround to the right. We also showcased afew of her tricks.

Unfortunately, no video or pictures at this time…:(..hopefully, some of the professional photographers there got afew.

After the demo’s, Pie enjoyed meeting many new people who wandered down the alley..this seems to be her favorite part of these events, meeting people. 🙂

Sunday, Pie got to hang out while Casey, my son, showed Beebe. This was significant, as it was their FIRST show together. They had a great day, winning showmanship, placing third in the walk trot class and fifth in trail. It was a great gauge on how far they’ve come as a team in such a short time.

Another successful Breed Alley in the books!

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