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!

 

 

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. 😦 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!

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. 🙂

(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. 🙂

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. 🙂

I was told their favorite part was when Pie gave me a kiss. 🙂

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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