2012 Texoma Horse Expo-Breed Alley

Its that time of year again! This past Saturday, October 20th, Pie and I attended the THIRD annual Breed Alley during the Texoma Horse Expo in our “hometown” of Wichita Falls, Texas. This event, if you are a new follower of our blog, is an event that I organize each year thru the area horse committee in conjunction with the expo. The goal of Breed Alley is to introduce folks in our area to the “lesser known” breeds that live in our area, which is traditionaly Paint Horse and American Quarter Horse Country.

Each year we learn abit and improve. This year, breeds represented in the alley included Chincoteague Pony, Gypsy Horses, Tennessee Walking Horse, Arabian, Missouri Foxtrotter, Foxtrotter Pony,Peruvian Paso, and Freisians.

Each breed is alocated booth space, a stall and also gets time in the arena to showcase their breed’s unique attributes.

Pie enjoys going to this venue, but, without fail, each year, by Saturday evening, she is ready to go home. I think it takes every ounce of self control to stay clean and confined to a stall all weekend. πŸ™‚

We arrived Friday afternoon to set up, get Pie settled and work her. She worked well..one thing I can always count on is her not being goofy in new places..that is why I love her so much. After, I got her settled in her stall and got to work on the booth. I think this was our best design yet!

Then outside for some graze time for Pie mental wellness.

We also caught up with our friend, Michele, who runs Underdog Ranch, a new horse rescue in our area. Kate, the worlds first painting border collie, was donating a painting for the rescue to sell. We had photo ops, shopped thru Underdog Ranch’s used tack sale (’cause you never can have to much tack!), fed Pie and headed home.

Saturday went extremly well..everyone’s demos in the arena went well and the crowd seemed to enjoy it. Pie did some nice things during her exhibition and , as always, loved getting on her stool. A Professional photographer got some AWESOME pics of us!

 

 

 

 

 

A Video of our demo!

And the expo participants

We then, as last year, got our picture taken with the horse expo banner..Fletcher came with me on Saturday and of course, had to be in the picture. It took about 20 tries to get the perfect picture..trying to get a Border Collie to stay put and Pie to put her ears up proved to be quite the task!!! πŸ™‚

As always, I enjoy tremendously talking with folks about Pie and the Chincoteague Pony breed. Ive said, it is wonderful to see folks walk up, read the info and slowly a smile starts to spread across their face..you can tell they remember the book..THIS is a pony from their childhood, standing before them, real. πŸ™‚ Pie never ceases to amaze me in how adaptable and amicable she is. She is so incrediably special.

Saturday evening, we headed home..and Pie was finally able to get dirty again..:)

Another expo in the books! til next year of course! πŸ™‚ Thank you to everyone who brought their wonderful horses, came out to see the alley, came to the expo, offered support and help..you are appreciated more then you know!

 

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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”. πŸ™‚

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, thatΒ  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!

 

 

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..:)

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. πŸ™‚

(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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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!

A Pony in the Church

Let me back up abit though!

Saturday, October 8th, Pie, Kate and myself were invited to attend the second annual Blessing of the Animals at Park Place Christian Church in Wichita Falls.

Kate and I attended the first one last year and REALLY enjoyed it. Outside of the actual blessing, there was an animal services “fair”.

The forecast grew into rain..a VERY good chance of it actually. While positively stupendous due to our epic drought, I worried how Pie would be able to come. Kate can be set up inside, but Pie?

The day dawned cloudy, humid..but dry. I loaded up Pie, Kate, all their “stuff” (paintings, stool, cookies..) and headed to the church.

When I got there, I was asked if I thought Pie would go INTO the sanctuary..well, guess you don’t know if you try?

We did a small test run. What Pie had to do was walk thru a double “human” door, into a short foyer, and then a turn into the sanctuary. There was a tarp on the floo(in case of “accidents”!) I had my clicker and treats ready and Pie never missed a beat. she seemed actually quite curious to actually be INSIDE the church.

So, I took her back out to the trailer and waited til we were called for.

It then came time for us to go into the church. Pie never missed a beat. Kids, adults, wheelchairs, dogs all around her and she handled it like a pro. Stepped up on her stool and did all that I asked of her. Her “shake hooves” is getting so good I’d like to add..she is really thinking about “Giving” me her hoof, versus just picking it up.:)

We also gave a short talk on the ponies, the island and Pie herself. Newscrew even took a short video of her to put in their segment for the event later that night…they got her saying “yes”

KFDX Segment

Afterwards, we took some questions and then I walked Pie out…again, good girl among all the hoopla around her. she stayed pretty focused on me. and NO accidents!!!!!!!!!!!

This experience reminded me of when Marguerite Henry would take Misty to schools into the classroom. It was great, as it always is, to share Pie with others.

Stock Horse of Texas Clinic

On Friday, September 9th, Pie and I trekked out to Vernon, Texas to take part in the Stock Horse of Texas or SHOT clinic.

SHOT is an organization that puts on shows thru out the year in Texas. One could call these shows something along the ranch versatility line of events, except for a few small exceptions. Ranch Versatility has 5 classes-Pleasure, trail, conformation, cutting and working ranch horse(like working cowhorse). SHOT shows have four classes (there is no conformation)-Pleasure, Trail, Reining and Cowhorse. They also offer separate divisions within the show, depending on the rider’s and horse’s experience level, which offers a very encouraging atmosphere for everyone. πŸ™‚ Classes are placed individually and then an overall champion for the day is determined in each division.

One of the other great things about SHOT is that they always have a clinic the day before their shows, which covers each class.

Which leads us to the Vernon clinic. The clinicians for each event were

Cowhorse- Chance O’Neil of the 4 6’s Ranch

Reining- Ben Baldus of the Waggoner Ranch

Trail- Mozaun McKibben of Whitesboro, Texas, AQHA Open Ranch Versatility World Champion

Pleasure-Laurie Shelton, 2010 SHOT Open World Champion

_____________________________________________

We arrived and Pie was cool as a cucumber..shes always been a good girl like this, in regards to traveling alone.

We were all divided into four groups in the morning, depending on our and the horse’s experience. We then followed a schedule thru out the day, which had us visit each clinician for a certain amount of time.

First, we visited Mozaun in Trail. I admit, we haven’t worked a WHOLE bunch on serious trail “stuff”..outside of bridges and trot poles..and I saw a “hot heels” over there too..one of the few things that Pie hasn’t quite figured out what to make of yet..

the course we were to ride was a bridge, to a sidepass, a back thru L, trot logs, lope logs (big logs), an arbor, groundtie and then a pick thru obstacle..with branches set at strange angles. I really should have more faith in my pony..she did phenomenal..and even though we’d never loped over anything..after we walked over the poles, then trotted, we loped over them NO problem. She also did the arbor and groundtied.

the pickthru gave her alittle trouble, I really think she wasn’t entirely sure what she was supposed to do..she followed Mozaun’s horse thru…I think with afew more times, she would have no problems. (and the hot heels wasn’t on our practice course..but Pie and I did investigate it.)

I am always aware that I am on a pony at these events..I get curious looks and then someone gets brave and asks about her..:)..Mozaun liked her alot. She actually wasn’t much smaller then his horse(a mustang). He is competing in the Mustang Makeover next weekend in Fort Worth and this little horse was going good.

Pie watching another rider on trail

Next we moved onto Pleasure. Pleasure in stockhorse is supposed to showcase a horse that would be a “pleasure” to ride across open country. the horse performs a pattern individually which showcases ALL gaits..including extensions. We worked on small parts of the pattern with Laurie. Pie did well and put in a good stop and 180 degree turn. Our 70/30 right lead gave us a pinch of trouble..but we worked thru it.

After lunch, we went to Cowhorse with Chance O’neil. Now, Pie has never worked a cow before..she’s seen cows on our place, but never worked them. My goal was a good experience, not rushed or crazy..EASSSYYY..

She did very well..better then I expected actually! see the video below, Pie’s first time on a cow.

At about 0:22, you can see Pie stopped deep..Chance and afew others along the fence, laughed and said they surely didn’t expect to see a pony stop like that. you can see the goal of this was to get Pie to “box” the cow, as in keep it up at the top of the arena, and let Pie learn to “mirror” and follow the cow. Chance commented after afew more times, I’d need a seat belt..meaning, she is going to be quick once she understands what she is supposed to do.

Our final stop of the day was reining with Ben. We went over alot of body control, which is the basis for a good reining pattern. One thing I did learn, which seemed to help Pie was regarding the turnaround or “spin”..when asking for the turnaround, if the horse gets lazy or decides to not listen, instead of schooling them IN the spin, drive them out to a circle, school out there and then go back to your spin…Pie got a pinch dull in her turn, so I tried this, came back to the turnaround and wow!..she was much more receptive and turned around VERY well with just me clucking to keep her going!

That is why I love these clinics…you always walk away with knowledge and different perspectives on things!

I was beyond proud of Pie..I had lots of people complimenting her, including the clinicians. I felt like I told her story and the story of chincoteague 50 times yesterday..but the interest in her and acceptance by everyone was great. I sometimes doubt my ability to get her where she needs to be..she is the first horse I have started myself remember..I think alot of what she is is due to me..but also to HER..she is such an easy going, good pony..she is smart and tries really hard to do what is being asked of her.

We came home..tired, but I think we both felt like alot had been accomplished.

Gift of the Horse Contest WINNER!!!!

Afew months back, I came across a contest called “The Gift of the Horse-Biggest Fan” sponsored by Horse Coupon Book.

This contest took 24 Famous trainers and asked people to write an essay on why they felt they were this particular trainer’s “Biggest fan”.

Carole Fletcher was one trainer featured. When I saw this, I knew I had to enter..Carole’s book, Trickonometry, was the book that started Pie and I’s journey into trick training..I thought how cool would it be to spend a day with her and get all her literature! see here for what the package contained.
Click here to go to Carole’s website.

I wrote an essay about Pie, myself and how trick training has shaped our relationship. Well, we got enough “likes” on Facebook to make the semi-finals..pretty cool in my mind!

Imagine my surprise when I saw the judges had chosen MY essay as the winner!

You can view my essay here

I am beyond excited and honored the judges chose my essay as the winner. The great thing is, this will benefit PIE too..and don’t worry, we will keep our fans and followers updated on this!

Thank you finally to all those who “liked” us on facebook, Gift of the Horse and the judges who chose my essay!

Day Z Farms Horse Camp

I feel sometimes I need to get Pie her own day planner to keep track of all her functions!

Fresh off of our summer camp presentation 2 weeks ago at Christ Academy, we went just a bit down the road to Day Z Farms and did a small presentation for the Summer Horse Camp!

Despite the heat, we had clouds that hung around for a good portion of the presentation..which kept it somewhat bearable.

A few of the girls had ready Misty, Stormy or Sea Star, so it was neat for them to put real people, places and ponies to the stories.
The girls then got to meet Pie, who was so happy to get off the trailer and be “part of the action”. She willingly showed off her tricks while we went over some Chincoteague pony traits and talked abit about Pie herself, her presentations and her being trained as a reining horse.


Then the girls got to each sit on Pie while she stood on her stool, a very special treat for all of them.

They all got to meet her as well, which she thoroughly enjoyed, as she always does..lots of mane braiding and scratching. πŸ™‚

I was told their favorite part was when Pie gave me a kiss. πŸ™‚

Casey also got to participate by showcasing Pie’s quietness.

Afterwards, we had a trivia game of sorts..up for grabs was a copy of Misty of Chincoteague!

It was an elimination type game and the winner won by answering correctly “who wrote Misty of Chincoteague?” (pssttt..it was Marguerite Henry!)

What a great day sharing Pie, Misty and Chincoteague with others!

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