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. 🙂

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!!! 🙂

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. 🙂 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! 🙂 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!

 

Blessing of the Animals-2012

October 6th, Pie and I (with Kate!) attended the third annual Blessing of the Animals at Park Place Christian Church. This is the third year for Kate attending and the second time for Pie. Many will remember last year, Pie actually went into the sanctuary, surrounded by people and dogs. She did exceptional! This year, we were asked to do the same. Pie clip clopped over the tile floor onto the sanctuary again this year, stepped on her stool and proceeded to entertain everyone with her exhuberent attitude..:)

I spoke abit about the ponies, the island and Misty..Pie got to perform afew of her tricks too.

The fact Pie can walk into a building, that was not made for such a large animal to get thru, always amazes me…she is such a trusting, easy going pony..I also think she enjoys being the center of attention too..

 

A reminder!

Pie will be, again, representing the Chincoteague Pony breed during the Texoma Horse Expo in Wichita Falls. Make plans to come out and see us! We will have an informational booth and will be doing a riding demo during the Parade of Breeds starting at noon on October 20th. We will be joined by the Gypsy Horse, Frieisans, Arabians, Peruvian Paso, Tennessee Walking Horse, Mo. Foxtrotter (and Foxtrotter pony!).

Please come by and see us!

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!

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!

 

 

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. 😦 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. 🙂

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!

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. 🙂

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