Archive for the 'Plum Creek Carriage Society' Category

Sunday Drive

amywink September 4th, 2010

Our last Sunday drive in August started early but very cool! Finally, a break in the summer heat and our temperature was at 69 for the start. It was a good day for photography too and I manage to get several shots I’d had in my head for a long time.

Like this one:
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Throughout our early morning drives, I have been watching our shadows, thinking of this photograph, so I was extremely pleased to get this shot. Since we’ve had some time off, Will’s approached our drives more positively, looking more like he’s having a good time. We’ve enjoyed some new trails as well and he’s enjoying those too. Though the hills are making him work harder, we’re rewarded by the views ahead. This shot has also been in my head for a while:

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We’re conditioning for the Plum Creek Swap Drive in October, a goal I’ve had for the year. He’s looking very good, though prefers a very pokey walk by the end of our drives.

Blessing is beginning to get some lessons too! My goal for her this coming year is the HOTMHC Fun Show in April. Hopefully, we will be able to show her in hand before she heads off to driving training. She got her first lesson in standing last weekend–from Lisa–and we finally got one good stand out of her–though she was really not sure it was worth the trouble.

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This weekend will mark the third month with us and she’s settled in quite nicely, adding a cheerful presence to our herd. She’s quite the happy horse and compliments her brother’s more complex personality very well. I think she rolls her eyes at him quite often.

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Trouble in Paradise, Part 1

amywink June 13th, 2010

Saturday was a trying day. We gathered up the gear and horses early and headed over to Agarita Ranch for the Heart of Texas Morgan Club meeting/Plum Creek CDE Volunteer Appreciation Day. We were harnessed and hitched before 8:45 to beat the heat as best we could. We did have a clouds on our side and a breeze that dented the humidity. Will did very well for harnessing and hitching, much better than in previous attempts. He even stood steady and asleep while Mary got in the carriage so we have had significant improvement there.

Generally, he was very good but as we got started, and left Windy behind with Lisa, he became increasingly agitated and nervous to be out “alone”–though there were other horses within sight of him. Still, we managed and worked through some spookiness as we headed down the trails into the woods. The recent rains made for deep going in spots and we faced several ponds along the way. Will did not care to get his precious feet wet so driving became somewhat of a challenge as he tried to pretzel his way around the puddles. We also had a good lesson in bravery as we had to go by the Plum Creek Shooting Society’s shooting targets on one trail. Will passed the buffalo cutout with just a wary look, but as we got closer and closer to the mountain goat figure, he was less and less sure it was wise to go any further, edging to the side of the trail, ready for retreat, until I tapped him on with the whip and we were able to safely scoot past unscathed. In all of this he was fairly strong-headed and it took a fair amount of strength to keep his mind on his work. He worked up a heavy sweat as I tried to keep him in a reasonable trot. He was much more spooky and jumpy than usual and it was certainly a different experience driving him this way.

We were out a long time, over an hour and a half, in what turned out to be a little over 8K–according to the GPS–so I decided to call it quits and get him (and me) cooled off. Sure enough, he stood for a nice rinse off without his usual dancing around. I got him cooled off and scraped off and let him watch Windy head around the dressage arena as he dried off.

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We also enjoyed standing for the group photo:

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Then the trouble started.

I put Will in a stall and he proceeded to go absolutely nuts. He had a bucking, rearing, kicking, screaming temper tantrum!! All because he couldn’t see any other horses. He kept this up for much longer than he should have, banging and kicking even after I put hay and water in his stall. Once he spotted one of the other horses, he settled a little but, but he never did calm down fully until Windy returned to her stall next to him. He had been having a few issues trailering recently and this confirmed the problem: herd bound. Since he became the bottom horse in the herd, he’s been suffering a little hysteria, when we trailered him to the vet. He drives well alone and will leave the pasture happily with me so there are no other issues, except being stalled at Agarita alone. But this was a full-on nuts-o-rama incident that we’d need to figure out what to do about.

to be continued……

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!!