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!

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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. 🙂 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.

Upcoming Events-SHOT clinic

This Friday, Pie and I will be attending the Stock Horse of Texas (SHOT) clinic given in Vernon. This clinic will cover all aspects of the SHOT show-Pleasure, Trail, Reining and Cowhorse.

Clinicians include some of the top men in the industry..so this is very exciting to be able to go to one spot and get input from different professionals.

Pie has never actually “worked” cattle before..she of course has seen them and been right up next to them..but working them is another matter..I’d like to think that once she understands she can get them to move, she will hook on..

I will have a recap when we get back!

(can you tell Pie is excited to go?)

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