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”. ūüôā

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!

 

 

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Happy Fourth Birthday Pie!

Today, March 8th, Pie turns FOUR years old! It is still hard for me to beleive she is “only” 4 years old..and that I’ve had her for about 2 1/2 years now! She has definantly taken on a look of maturity..

I am also blessed daily to be able to share my life with this “hooved guardian angel”. ūüôā

Normally, we do something fun for her birthday..today, the day dawned C O L D and windy..so no riding time tonight..Pie was OK with that..she got plenty of work moving our cattle this past weekend..and she got her birthday mash..YUM!

Nom Nom Nom

Drought Resistant cows, sheep and…ponies???

Well, mabey not 100% true..;)

We of course, here in Texas this past summer experienced one of our HOTTEST, DRIEST summers in history. We broke all sorts of records of consecuetive days over 100 degrees..100 days actually to be exact..ugh. The heat and lack of rain turned our pasture to dry crunchy grass and many folk’s hayfields to dirt. Cattle were being liquidated at a record pace..and horses were for sale left and right..”Out of hay” was a common sales pitch. ūüė¶ Hay skyrocketed in price due to it’s scarcity..I myself made four trips east of our ranch to bring in roundbales for our animals on the place..as our hayfield, due to the heat..was not producing as it should.

During this time..I came to appreciate easy keepin’ animals..Our cows all have from Brahma blood in them..this gives them a greater heat tolerance then traditional Angus or Herford..(not to say they liked the heat..it took it’s toll, but I think they weathered better then some cattle).

My sheep are dorper..from South Africa and they shed..one of their notable qualities is they are also more heat tolerant then other breeds of sheep…they also are easy keepers, staying quite fat on very little actual hay and feed

I REALLY came to appreciate my wonderful chincoteague ponies too..they are smaller then our fullsize horses..and seem to get fat on air! There is an old saying “A Chincoteague pony can get fat on a cement slab.” and while not entirely true, it is based abit in a notable quality these ponies seem to have of simply being able to process food very well and maintain their weight well on little..

Beebe definantly hasnt missed a meal!

Obviously with ponies like this..its important to make sure they are getting what they need, vitamin wise. Their hay, the basis of every horse’s diet (or it should be!) is high quality, fertilized coastal hay. They have mineral blocks they have free access too, and they get alittle bit of feed morning and night..to keep them happy while¬† I am feeding everyone else…Id probably have a riot on my hands if they didnt get their tiny amount of horse pellets.

This winter both¬†Pie and Beebe seem to have gotten abit more “fluffy”…weight wise (Pie moreso then Beebe) and are¬†still¬†on LESS then my quarter horses. It just amazes me how easy to keep these ponies are!¬†Additionaly, ¬†as Ive aged..Ive REALLY come to appreciate animals that are easy to care for! The ponies are just that.

As Pie doesnt seem to offended when someone makes a comment on how round she is..much more comfortable for me to be on bareback!

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. ūüôā

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!

Whats in a name???

Whenever we go somewhere I always get funny looks when I tell someone Pie’s registered name. Pie’s “barn” name also has a unique story. Her breeder, Lisa Christian, Called her Moonpie, due to the white streak thru her mane, which looks like a moonpie. (and if you don’t know what a moonpie is, I pity ya..come down to Texas and you will try one, they are a southern delicacy..;) ) I shortened it to Pie evetually.

But her registered name is even more interesting..The Duchess of Lightning. Now, this name encompasses alot, its a “big shoe” to fill..

The Duchess of Lightning was a diving horse that traveled the country during the 1930’s. A diving horse was a unique act in which a horse cantered up a long ramp at a gradual incline. At the top, the horse “dove” off into a deep pool of water. Over time, a rider was added, who made a moving mount right before the horse jumped off. Dr. Carver, a member of Wild Bill’s Western Show created the act and he traveled the country, until finally getting a consistent billing at the world famous Steel Pier in New Jersey.

 

Many have seen the Disney movie Wild Hearts Cant be Broken..this movie is loosely based on the book A Girl and Five Brave Horses, written by Sonora Webster Carver, the main rider of the diving horses, including The Duchess of Lightning. Sonora is famous for diving 60 feet into a pool of water horseback..even after she went completly blind!

Sonora and an unidentified horse diving 60 feet in atlantic city..(notice the smaller ramp below, which was used during training)

The Duchess of Lightning was described in Sonora’s book as a large, big boned dapple gray mare of draft blood. They originally called her Lightning due to the speed at which she worked and learned. While in Canada one show, a Duchess tried to buy her..Dr. Carver refused, but added “Duchess” onto Lightning’s name in honor of the Duchess’ interest.

The Duchess of Lightning diving with Sonora up

Bear in mind, these horses were not forced to jump. Numerous accounts from the people who rode, trained and cared for these horses attested to this fact..while it may look incrediably scary, the horses doing it were handpicked and weeded out of many, they truly loved what they did.

I have always been facinated by this act, the horses and the riders..and The Duchess of Lightning was my favorite horse of Sonora’s troupe.

My choice of Pie’s registered name was solidified when I considered her sire and dam’s names..

her sire, Lightning of Chincoteague

her dam Denim and Diamonds

Ive always felt that a horse’s name is important..a name should fit the horse, should sound great said in a whisper or over the loudspeaker..it should cause a person to want to SEE that animal. All my animals names have significant meaning to me too…Pie’s name is extremly special as it encompasses so much, it is all tied together. My vet said it sounds like something a little girl would name her pony…;)..Ive gotten used to the good natured ribbing by now..:)

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.

http://www.giftofthehorse.com/Page-8.html

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. ūüôā

 

 

 

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. ūüôā

(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. ūüôā

P.E.T.S. Pantry Fundraiser

If you know me..or even follow the blog, you know how passionate I am about animals. So when Pie and I (and Kate!) were invited to the second annual P.E.T.S. Pantry fundraiser on November 5th, I of course said yes.

P.E.T.S. stands for Preventing Euthanisia Thru Sterlization. This is a non profit group that offers low cost spaying, neutering and vaccinations in my area. The Pantry is a new endevor that P.E.T.S. is doing. By pairing with Meals on Wheels, they are providing pet food to families in our local area who may not be able to feed their beloved family members, if they are on fixed income or experiencing hard times.

This fundraiser raises money and accepts donations of dog and cat food.

Pie was quite patient on the trailer til her time to come out and perform. This was her first time doing her presentation on grass. Now Pie likes grass..alot..so I wasnt sure if I could hold her attention. She stayed super focused and performed very well.

She obliged a hoof shake

And then she met some of the people who saw our presentation..Pie was her usual social self..even though no one had any cookies for her (she did triple check!)

Diane (who bought Kate’s painting she did that day) poses with Pie

Pie gets a kiss…

Makin’ new friends

With the P.E. T.S. Pantry coordinator’s grandson, Elijah. He LOVED Pie so much, he kept trying to take her lead rope from me and walk her off. ūüôā

Then Pie shook hands with Diane. I have never had her perform her tricks for anyone but me..and sometimes Casey. Diane asked for a hoofshake..Pie took just a minute and then offered her hoof! I was so proud of her for doing her trick for someone other then me. I am a firm beleiver it shows how well you’ve trained an animal when they perform for someone other then you cueing them.

And Elijah had to shake her hoof too..(yep, I helped with this!)

And, as I mentioned above, Kate painted a unique piece that day, which benefited the P.E.T.S. Pantry.

 

The Pantry raised over $1000.00 and almost 2000 pounds of pet food that day. I am so proud of both my girls for giving up their Saturday to help this cause!

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