Archive for October, 2009

Naughty Horses

amywink October 30th, 2009

So, I went down to see the horses today and as I drove up toward the gate, I noticed some lovely horses in the neighbors’ field. . .

some lovely bay horses. . .

and a handsome chestnut horse. . . .

and a chunky black pony. . . .

and an electric tape fence in the background, aswag like festive holiday garland.

Naughty horses!!!

Of course, Taipan and Rufus were waiting up front (did you see what the horses did???) and as soon as I opened the car door, I had two happy passengers for the drive up to the barns. A quick call to Lisa and help (Lupe) was on the way, and blame laid at squarely Windy’s feet. Of course, she pretended that she had no idea how she and the other horses got over there!

Luckily, by the time I had closed the gates for the “holding pen” pastures, and headed back down to round up who I could, Miss B had decided to come get a drink and Will was following through the opening Someone had made. Then they heard Lupe’s truck and decided it was Dinner Time!! So we managed to move them to a more secure location with little difficulty. Whew.

Will got some grooming time after, since he had decided that a mudmask was a good idea….a full body mudmask. . . . At least he’s now clean enough to drive tomorrow, as long as he doesn’t find another mudpit to try in the new pasture. After grooming, he went out with his fellow escape artists and enjoyed the new pasture. And some time in front of the camera.

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Milestones

amywink October 28th, 2009

This past weekend, after our exciting trip to Agarita, Will and I had two very pleasant drives with no issues or troubles. We are learning to be a good team and I began to think about how far we’d come in the year we’d been driving together. We’ve had to work out quite a few kinks and we are still learning. Agarita was a fantastic milestone, one I have been dreaming about for a while, and it marked our first year of driving together almost to the day. Now that we have reached that goal, I’m beginning to think of new goals and how best to continue our progress together in the coming year. I have more than a month to decide on my “New Year’s” goals for 2010 but I am enjoying considering them.img_4619.jpg

Will’s First Day at Agarita Ranch

amywink October 19th, 2009

I have been dreaming about this day since I first ventured out to Agarita Ranch to volunteer at the first CDE held there in the fall 2005. I started out timing an obstacle, then the next year, I scribed for a judge and set cones, and the next year I had graduated to Clerk of Dressage. Of course, in that time, I’ve taken many a lesson at Good Hands Training Center before I sent my horse for training and continued the lessons after he finished 120 days, working with Tom and Jerry O’Carroll throughout the next year. What excellent preparatory work all of that was our first Sunday drive! Now, I’m driving my own horse and ready to move on to the next phase of enjoying Agarita Ranch and the Plum Creek Carriage Society. Will is ready too–though he was Not Too Sure when we started out on Sunday.

We loaded up in the morning and Will was nervous about getting in the trailer–until Windy came along (whew). Mary hauled the carriages, Lisa hauled the horses, and I hauled lunch! The weather was gorgeous, crisp but warming nicely to the low 70’s, just like Saturday’s Swap Drive weather. We unloaded at Agarita about 10:15 and Will looked about excitedly, sniffing the air for bears. After some time steeping in a stall, Will was ready for harnessing and hooking. He did pretty well with his harnessing, remembering to stand still the entire time, even though his wide eyes looked around the barn. Then we hooked….which went smoother than I have seen it but not as smoothly as at home. Will was a bit jumpy and “up” looking about, but Lisa had a handle on him and we managed to get him to stand well enough for a quiet mounting of the carriage. Then we walked around on the lead rope, so he could settle down a bit–and that’s all he settled, a bit, but we were ready and off came the lead. You can see how “up” he is here:
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And so we stood for a few seconds, about all he could stand being still, and I moved him forward before he decided to go himself. Then we walked around and around and around, back and forth down the road, around and around and around the dressage arena where he took some long hard looks at things imagined. If faith is a belief in unseen things, Will is a horse of Great Faith, but he also seemed to have some faith in me and listened when I urged him forward and got him round the scary things, keeping to a nice walk until a trot was prudent. After several rounds of the dressage arena, he stopped to allow Mary to hop on the back, and off we went again for more surveying of the area.

He was still “up” and looking when he nearly scared himself silly by catching the right rein under his tail, when I reached down to move it, he clamped that sucker down, forcing himself to turn hard right. I did have the presence of mind to hold the left rein steady, call for help, and get him straightened. But that tail wasn’t going to let go of that rein. It was me holding the left rein, and he holding the right. A new kind of one handed driving. I don’t recommend it.

Amazingly, he stood. Very still. Very straight. He stood like a statue and Mary got off the carriage and undid his tail. Crisis concluded, everyone unscathed. And at that moment, Will relaxed. His head came down, his posture shifted, and he moved off quietly and calmly. Like he’d survived the attack he’d expected could now stop worrying about it all. So, off we went, around the dressage arena and in, quietly, calmly, forward. He went into the corners deep, circled as best I could do (note to self: work on circles), and we headed out, ready to take on the marathon course through the mesquite thicket at the east side (upper side) of the property
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He did amazingly well following Windy, trotting out strong and steady, listening to my hands. He even crossed the muddy puddle without batting an eye. When he moved too quickly, I slowed him with a little “brrrr” and he steadied himself and settled into a nice pace. When Windy took a wrong turn, we circled around waiting for her to return. Though he sent out a call for her–and she answered back–he continued to respond to my hands and kept himself in control. After the “thicket”, we headed “down” into the woods on the western side of the property.
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The groomed trails wound through a forest of oaks and pecans and the bright green horse herb, pink oxalis, and blue spiderwort covered the forest floor. Will didn’t bat an eye. He was pretty tired but kept his trot steady, his head in frame, and did a wonderful job trotting down the pleasant trails, happy to wait for Windy to drive through the obstacles with Lisa. “I’ll just wait here” he thought gladly. I’m sure. And notice the nice low head here. img_4592.jpgimg_4591.jpgAfter a break, we headed up to the cones course, set up in front of the Plum Creek Chapel.

Will really thought we were done and casually veered toward the barn but I pushed him on to the cones course and he obliged. Windy and Lisa went first, and we rested–standing quietly in the shade after walking around a bit–while Lisa tried the course. img_4598.jpg

We took it very slowly but he remained responsive and did his best to make it through the tricky tight course.img_4602.jpgimg_4600.jpg

He was a very very good and tired pony. We rested a bit in front of the Hotel and found ourselves with a new passenger. Perhaps a Carriage Cat Class would be in order?img_4605.jpg

After a nice rest, we headed back to our barn and Will stopped immediately in the exact spot where we’d hitched. This time, he knew we were done. And he was right. We unhooked uneventfully, unharnessed and washed the sweat off–though he didn’t really care for that–and got a big drink of water and a nice pad of hay. I was very very proud of my pony and very proud of me. We’d done our first trip out and survive to tell the tale. Team Taipan-Station Returned Successfully with No Losses or Injuries, Physical or Mental. YAY!!

I can’t wait to do it again. I hope Will feels the same.

Plum Creek Swap Drive

amywink October 19th, 2009

Saturday was the Swap Drive at Agarita Ranch, home of the Plum Creek Carriage Society. The weather was marvelous, crisp and clear in the morning, warming to a pleasant mid 70’s by afternoon. Everyone had the opportunity to practice dressage test, cones, and a mini marathon with 3 obstacles. Out on the Dressage field, everyone practiced their classical moves:
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After dressage came the Cones course, designed by Barbara Siebenhausen, contained a serpentine (Gate 13) and several challenging “W” gates, like 4 and 5 here.
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And there was a very stern judge watching the entire proceedings: img_4298.jpg
No breaking any rules on this course!

A couple of young drivers burned up the course with their minis: img_4322.jpgimg_4330.jpg

And then the grownups had their chance:
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After that challenging course, drivers headed out onto the marathon trails and the obstacles: img_4413.jpg

The trails wound around the “upper” part of Agarita Ranch before heading down “into the woods”: img_4447.jpg

Al Bulgawicz of Willow Crest Miniature Horses took his four-in-hand toward the no-water hazard,
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into the depths,img_4468.jpg

and out again img_4469.jpg

And more arrived shortly there after: img_4475.jpgimg_4485.jpg

The weather was gorgeous and the day spectacular. All of which boded well for my next adventure–Will’s First Day Out at Agarita Ranch!!

The Long Ears Playday

amywink October 12th, 2009

I’m not telling Will what I did Sunday:
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I played with donkeys!

I made it over to Haven Hill to participate in the Long Ears Play Day event. It was cool and mizzley but the rain held off until the end of the day. I had a great time driving Sweetie and a very different experience than driving Will. When I admitted I owned a Morgan, someone suggested that I was “slumming it” with the donkeys! Hardly!! I found the donkeys to be extremely educational and very effective trainers.

Here’s Sweetie with me as “Whip” heading through the cones course at The Long Ears Playday:

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We look good here. But. One my first try through, I got my whip caught up in the reins and creamed 4 cones–and not just knocking the balls down either, I mean really creamed them. But thank goodness we got a second try and we went completely clear but were too slow to end up in the ribbons. I am, however, very very pleased to have come out clean.

Now, on the Timed Obstacle, I completely botched it. On our first shot through, I smacked right into a post at Gate C and had a challenging moment getting Sweetie to back up so we could maneuver around it correctly. Here we are coming around after our stop in our first attempt through.

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Then Tom gave us a second chance. What was he thinking? I got so caught up in my mistake at C, I headed in to correct it.

Completely ignoring Gates A and B.

Not once, not twice, but three times!!

THREE TIMES?????

But not on the 4th time. Whew. I made it through A, B, and C and got out.

At least I gave Tom another story to tell!!

There’s a lesson here about focusing too much on the mistake. I was so determined not to make the same mistake again, I perfected a completely different one! But, of course, as someone once said, if you can’t be a good example, try to be a horrible warning!

The afternoon marathon went well but when the mud in the Birdhouse Hazard made Sweetie make her own directional choice, we headed backwards through Gate B and were eliminated. Still, we whipped through Obstacle 1 and 3 with great times of 42 seconds! Pretty speedy for a donkey. I was pleased for both of us and we had a grand time.

Of course, the great thing about driving events are all the fun people and equines you get to meet. This event was no exception and Anna’s Missouri mule, Miss Millicent, had her “competition” debut in her new life as a combined driving mule, a far piece from the Amish community she had been working in before she was “discovered.”

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She loved it.
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Of course, “Cute” was in no short supply yesterday either. Here are just a few examples:

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But I think the Winner of Cute is this one: img_4139.jpg

Here’s the entire field after the exciting day of Longeared Fun.
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