Posts Tagged ‘mgaa’

Last weekend we took the ponies to a mounted games competition in New Jersey. This is one of my favorite competitions of the year, because not only is it a short distance from our home base in PA, but it’s also an event that most of the riders camp at. I love camping, especially when I get to bring along the ponies AND the dog.

camping with ponies

We arrived just as it was getting dark and dropped two of the ponies (Blitz – who came along for the experience and more training, and Jet – my sister’s mare that my mom would be riding for the weekend) at the stables. We bedded their stalls and tucked them in for the night, all while Boomerang waited patiently on the trailer.

Then we drove Boomer up to the campsites where we set up his portable corral from Travel n’ Corrals. This was the first time I got a chance to use the corral at an overnight competition – and also the first time he had ever seen it. And did I mention it was dark by this point?

boomerang travel n corrals

We unloaded Boomer and put him in the corral while we set up the tent. He looked around for a second and went straight to eating his hay. I was pretty amazed at how he acted like everything was no big deal. His friends (who rode in the trailer with him) got dropped off somewhere else and now here he was up on the top of a hill next to a campsite, in a corral he had never seen, with not a single horse in sight…..just quietly munching his hay. Pretty cool pony.

boomerang travel n corrals

Well, he was pretty cool until about 1am when he ran out of hay. Ha. Should have known it would be too good to be true.

With his hay gone I think he looked around and realized “what the heck, where am I and what happened to my friends?” His ear piercing whinny woke me instantly. I think he would have eventually stopped calling too – had his big brother Blitz not heard him a mile away in the stables and called back. And yes, it was DEFINITELY Blitz – he has a VERY distinct whinny. Every hour or so they would call back and forth to each other – if I only knew what they were saying! At one point I even heard Boomerang lay down in his corral – yet continue to return Blitz’s calls. He wasn’t frantic, he didn’t try to escape (not that he could – these things are really well built) or do anything horrible – he was simply having a late night conversation with his big brother….on the other side of the facility!

boomerang travel n corrals

Hindsight, I probably should have set the corral up closer to the barns so that he could at least see another horse. But regardless of the fact that he stayed up all night talking I was still proud of how he handled the situation I put him in.

Not only was the corral a new thing for us at this competition, but it was also the first time I got to compete with my treeless saddle. I wish I had some pictures to share, but since my mom and I were both riding together we had no one with us to take pictures. If only somehow I could train the Dachshund to do it! Hummm. But, the saddle was awesome! No slipping, and both Boomerang and I were SUPER comfy in it. I even got to do some full out vaulting into it without any problems. I really wish I had gone treeless years sooner – I’ll never go back!

In between competition sessions my mom worked on training Blitz to tie (without his friends around). Blitz has progressed in leaps and bounds with all the training my mom has put into him, but he still has one major issue they are working on. His separation anxiety. He has a real problem leaving his friends and being alone.

This is what well behaved horses look like when they tie:

ponies tied to trailer

And this is what naughty Blitz looks like when he ties without his friends around:

ponies tied to trailer

Blitz spent a lot of time working on tieing in the woods by our campsite. It was very tough for him not to have his friends around – but my mom thinks she hopefully made some breakthroughs with him.

tieing ponies

With high-hopes of working even further on Blitz’s training on Day 2, we were instead hit with a nasty Thunderstorm on Saturday night. Camping proved to get a little wet – but atleast we were nice and toasty in the tent with our little heater named Ammo the Dachshund. Ammo is such a trooper, he’ll put up with pretty much anything – and any situation. Thunder & Lightning is no problem for this guy – I think he might sleep through a tornado if no one woke him!

ammo the dachshund

Sadly when we woke up the next day the competition had to be canceled. With no end in sight for the storms, they were forced to pin the divisions based on standings from the previous day. But we still came home with a second place finish!

ammo the dachshund second place

We packed up and headed home – only to be hit with one last road block just minutes from the farm. Luckily Peco was nearby and able to help us out before the ponies got too hot in the trailer. And next time I’m going to REALLY try to remember my rubber boots so I’m not stuck wearing soggy sneakers all weekend!

fallen tree

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I had my suspicions before, but now I’m pretty certain that I have a “fan” at the Breyer Model Headquarters. Why you may ask? Because within the past few years several models have been popping up that bare an uncanny resemblance to Minnow & I.

First it was the Pony Games Set, Breyer’s very first mounted games rider and pony.

This model features a female rider with thick RED braids – tip off #1 that its me. When competing in mounted games I usually wear my hair (my RED hair) in 2 HUGE braids because trust me, you have never seen a red-head with as much hair as me. Not only that but the rider is on a pinto pony, that may not look exactly like Minnow’s clone, but there are some definite similarities.

Then a friend sent me over a link to the Art Class Set.

This model also includes a female artist with RED hair and a pinto pony. If that wasn’t enough, they come with paintbrushes and paint! Really!

Me and Three Future Breyer Models

Minnow says his sidekick Ammo the Dachshund has to be included too

Whatever Breyer’s reasoning behind these two models is, it’s certain that their “plan” has worked. Because I am now the proud owner of both of them! ha ha. πŸ™‚

I’m really really hoping that my “fan” at the Breyer Headquarters is reading this, because Chincoteague Minnow would be more than HAPPY to model for your next “debut” mold of his likeness. Why not get the real thing? Complete with little Dachshund side-kick and all!

I bet it would sell out instantly! πŸ™‚

What do you guys think? Should Minnow be a Breyer Model? Should Ammo be the first Dachshund mold? Does anyone else see the resemblances that I do?


Images from Breyer.

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The winner of the 2011 Extreme Cowboy Race at the Horse World Expo was Wayne Yoder. He was actually the only rider to be undefeated the entire weekend too!

After the preliminary rides he was in first place, with me tailing right behind him by about 10 points. But after his amazing ride in the finals he jumped to a huge lead on his Stallion, Ornery.

Boomerang was fortunate enough to be stabled next to the winner in the barns, which meant I got to learn all about his “story”.

Wayne is a horse trainer from Ohio, where he trains between 12-14 horses a day with his business partner at Lonesome Hollow Stables. He works with problem horses, as well as starting young horses under saddle. When he’s not training horses his favorite thing to do is compete in Extreme Cowboy Races. Wayne said that at the Horse World Expo he was going on his 9th competition.

Wayne actually had his own rescue Stallion that he used to compete in the races, but a few months ago he died unexpectedly. He later discovered the horse had an abscess in his stomach, something that probably developed when he was malnourished years earlier.

Wayne’s friend Morgan, a horse chiropractor and masseuse, decided to offer him use of her Stallion, Ornery. The palomino stallion’s registered name was something like TC’s Golden Mist – but I can’t remember for sure, Morgan calls him Ornery or “Orn” for short. Orn’s story is also a rescue story as well. He was in a situation where his owner’s were not caring for or feeding him, the owner was forced to surrender their horses, and Morgan rescued the now 15 year old Stallion.

6 weeks ago Wayne started working with Orn, who’s previous experiences were mostly in trail riding. And this would be the stallion’s very first Extreme Cowboy Race.

I was immediately impressed with how quiet Orn was. He had never been around the applause and cheering (like most of the extreme cowboy race participants), yet when I saw the horse experience it for the first time – he was nearly unfazed.

Unfortunately I don’t have any videos of Wayne competing, but through most of his rides Orn was just as steady as ever. But what I was most impressed with was Wayne’s initiative to better himself and his horse through this competition. After the preliminary rounds, Wayne realized that there were some areas he could improve in with his horse while at the Expo. He set out and found a riding instructor that agreed to give him a jumping lesson after the expo closed for the day. So the night before the finals this cowboy attempted to learn the proper way to release his arms over the jump so as not to catch his horse in the mouth. And when I saw him take the big jump on Orn in his western saddle the day of the finals I was so happy for him.

Wayne, if you ever read this, I think you deserved this win! I know you were just as nervous as all of us, as we all huddled in the arena entrance breathing deeply. I wish you much success in your Extreme Cowboy Race endeavors, and I hope we meet up again soon!

Here’s an article I found on Wayne and his efforts to organize an Extreme Cowboy Race in his area.

Photos curtsy of Black Rock Photography.

Find out on monday what I did to better my horse and myself at the expo! I’ll give you a hint, it involved a lariat! πŸ™‚

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Yesterday’s post was about the Preliminary Round in Craig Cameron’s Extreme Cowboy Race at the Harrisburg, PA Horse World Expo. Today it’s onto the Finals!

On Sunday the Expo opened with a drill from the Canadian Cowgirls, then Craig Cameron’s team began setting up the Race in the main arena. Not only did we have to learn a new course in a matter of minutes, but we had changed locations too. In my early morning and late night rides I had been schooling in both arenas, so luckily Boomer had at least been able to see both indoors.

I walked the course and set about committing it to memory. I’m fortunate to have a photographic memory of sorts – but under pressure – you never know if you’ll suddenly draw a blank. Being in the #2 spot meant that I got to ride 10th, which allowed me to watch several riders before me.

The finals course was definitely a lot harder, and going in to day #4 at the expo my energy was beginning to fade. And poor Boomerang had been in a stall for 4 days as well (aside from riding and hand walking time) – something that was starting to weigh on his patience a little.

As I watched the riders go before me, I noticed that many of them were attempting the flying dismount I had used in my run the day before (it had earned me major points with the judges). And then tragedy struck for the rider right before me. Seconds before she crossed the finish line she attempted to do the flying dismount. Unfortunately she got stuck in the saddle and landed wrong – ultimately fracturing her ankle. Paramedics came, and she was taken out of the arena in a stretcher. (I believe she is doing fine now). Definitely didn’t help my nerves right before I was set to ride.

But we braved on. Here is a video of our finals run:

It wasn’t one of my better rides. Afterward I sort of beat myself up about my spill – ironically this was the very first time I have ever fallen off Boomerang. I sort of dwelled on the fact that I ate dirt for several hours afterward – but then I watched the video. After watching the video I realized that, yes, I had made some mistakes – but there were also some very good points in my run.

My beginning free ride was fought with a little lead swapping on Boomer’s part. But I opted to ignore his need to switch his leads, because I could tell immediately that he was going to be a little spooky on this run (not sure why), so I needed to concentrate on sitting back and making sure I didn’t fall off this time. I was happy though that he seemed almost unfazed by the cheering this time around.

Our log drag started off perfectly, then I decided to ask too much – and attempted to get Boomer to back with the log, something we had practiced many times. He met me with a little resistance so I quickly abandoned that avenue.

The tarp walk should have been a cake walk, but something must have caught Boomer’s eye and made him jump. But he quickly composed himself and walked calmly across it.

Then came the log gate, my enemy. In all honesty, I didn’t expect it to be that heavy. Once I had it lifted, and realized Boomer was in a less than willing attitude, it was already too late. After I went under it I knew I had to drop it, or it was going to drag me off the saddle, but when I looked back all I could see was Boomer’s rump. Dropping it would mean throwing the log onto my pony – and I definitely didn’t want to do that. So instead I hung onto it until it was clear of my pony, at which point it just toppled me off my pony. I think Boomer could have saved me, but instead he ducked his head and I went over the front. I don’t really blame him, I did lift a log over top of him, but at least he was kind enough to wait for me so I could remount. Thanks Boomer.

After my fall I was a little discombobulated. My brain switched from “do the obstacles properly” to “don’t fall off again you dummy”. So when I rounded the corner to start my pole bending I attempted to ask Boomer to start weaving on the right. But Boomer was too smart, he knew when we do bending poles we always start on the left so that our spin can be a right turn. One little hop on his part and he had me set right again.

We started to improve a little more after the pole bending and next it was onto the ground tieing. I taught Boomer to ground tie (or stay) just a few weeks earlier, but it had never been proven to this extent. Boomer proved that my training had worked though, because after I gave him the stay command he stood like a statue until I returned. He actually stood for quite some time, because I dropped my crop inside the chute and had to crawl backwards to get it. For my remount I had planned to vault on, but by the time I got back to Boomer I was quite tired. I contemplated it for a second, then decided to use my stirrup. I worried if I vaulted I wouldn’t have the strength to get in the saddle, causing me to miss or make Boomer move – which would of gotten us less points. I think the stirrup was the better choice, because Boomer stood like a stone as I mounted – which I’m sure earned us extra points.

The sidepassing was a non-issue for Boomer, and he did exactly as I asked.

The tarp carry was a non-issue for Boomer as well. I tried to get more of it over his back – but it was awkwardly large and started to get tangled in my reins. But Boomer was fine with it, so relaxed in fact that when I asked him to trot he said “no, I think I’m tired now, and we can just walk”. haha. But I was happy he was perfectly calm in this situation.

Boomer showed me once again he knows exactly what to do when it comes to jumps. Me on the other hand – this picture just proves I have no idea how to look pretty over a jump. haha. I think it’s funny – the only reason I carried a crop in this competition is because I thought I “might” need it to convince Boomer to jump scary things (just a little tap on his shoulder usually does the trick). Obviously it’s more of a “security blanket” for me, and I didn’t use it once in the entire competition. In fact, it more just hindered me by getting caught in my reins, and causing me to have to find a place to stash it when I lifted things. Oh well, live and learn.

Next up was the trash chute, and again, Boomer was a star.

The bucket carry was another non-issue for Boomer. Well other than the fact that he saw a bucket and his “pony” kicked in. “Omg is there food in there for me?” He kept trying to turn his head so he could reach inside, making carrying the extremely heavy bucket difficult for me. Finally I let him have a look see, and once he realized it was just water we were back in business.

For our last free ride I was a bit more cautious than the day before. I knew he had been spooky the first time around – so I opted to take a more controlled approach. It worked out fine and Boomer quietly galloped around the arena.

I decided to go for the flying dismount at the end. And thankfully I landed properly and we safely crossed the finish line.

So it may not have been as “polished” ride as the first day – but overall it was actually pretty decent. I really can’t complain, because Boomerang really tried for me. The whole weekend was a lot to ask for a young pony.

In the end we took home 6th place. 4th, 5th and 6th all had a one point difference – so we were all very close. Afterward Craig Cameron gave me a hug and told me he thought I had a lot of heart and he was impressed with what I had done with my pony.

I’m glad I did it. It was one of the most stressful, challenging, and rewarding things I have ever done.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you all about the Winner of the Extreme Cowboy Race. He’s a real cowboy with a palomino Stallion!

See more pictures from the event on our facebook page.

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6 weeks ago I decided to do something I’ve never done before. I knew it would be hard, I knew it would be stressful, I knew it would make me stronger.

Last weekend I competed in Craig Cameron’s Extreme Cowboy Race.

In the 6 weeks leading up to the competition Boomerang and I trained intensely. We took western lessons, I transported him to every arena in our area that I could so that he got used to new surroundings, we practiced new obstacles, and tested our abilities to focus in stressful situations. But I knew going into this that there would be elements we couldn’t prepare for. The unknown was scary.

We arrived at the Horse World Expo in Harrisburg PA on Thursday. I had never been there before as a “participant”, and let me tell you, it’s a scary scary place for a horse.

Winding halls lined with stalls, electric “garage” doors, echos, loud noises, carts, dogs, and people – everywhere.

Boomerang handled everything pretty well. Immediately I began schooling him in the indoor arenas every chance I got. I wanted him to be comfortable with his surroundings before the preliminary race on Saturday. The indoor arenas at “schooling time” were an obstacle in and of itself. Not only did LOTS of horses and riders attempt to use them at the same time, but there were teams hooked to carts, horses being lunged, as well as the horses that freaked out as soon as they entered the arenas. Navigating around in them was an obstacle in and of itself. The only thing that I couldn’t prepare for was the noise of a cheering crowd. As the days went on I saw many horses freeze in fear or bolt in any direction possible after hearing their first round of applause. I’m not gonna lie, it made me nervous. I had no idea what Boomer would do when we had to walk into that arena on Saturday. Would he bolt, would he buck, would he refuse to listen to my commands, would I be able to regain control?

If you follow along with the Painting Ponies on our Facebook Page, then you already know what happened. But for everyone else, here is the video of our preliminary round in the Extreme Cowboy Race:

If you look closely in the beginning of the video, you will notice what did happen when the crowd applauded for the first time – Boomer had a little “fear reaction”. But at about 0.34 seconds you can see what I did to refocus him. I asked him to halt, and when he listened and stopped moving his feet I clicked and rewarded him. And that’s all it took to remind him that listening to me was much more worth it than worrying about what the crowd did. πŸ™‚

Our preliminary ride actually put us in 2nd place out of 23 riders and earned us a spot in the Finals on Sunday (where only 11 were chosen).

I was so proud of Boomer. Our ride was far from perfect. I almost fell off when he spooked at something in the beginning of our lap around the arena, my roll backs were a little disappointing – considering Boomer can do them soooo much better, I could have cantered the barrel pattern, my sidepassing started a little sticky, and my keyhole pattern could have been done WAY faster. But it doesn’t matter. I accomplished something. I rode against (and beat) several professional horse trainers, I did western reining patterns in english tack, I rode in a Dr. Cook’s Bitless Bridle (we were the only pair to ride bitless), and I competed in my very first Extreme Cowboy Race.

Craig Cameron (the announcer and organizer of these events) and his crew were impressed to say the least. I don’t think expected what they saw, heck I didn’t even expect it.

But it really didn’t matter what anyone else thought. It mattered that in a mere 7 minutes I had managed to challenge the relationship I shared with my pony, and we came out the other end victorious. I felt like if we could accomplish this, there’s not limit to what we can do. Not only did I teach Boomer some of these western maneuvers in a mere 6 weeks – but I did it without spurs and without a bit. yeah!

You can see more photos from our first round on the Painting Pony Facebook Page, and check back tomorrow to hear all about the Finals!



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Last year I made a list of goals I wanted to accomplish with the trick ponies, hoping that by writing them down it would really help me to complete them. My plan worked! Because I completed all but one of my ten goals last year, I think I can pat myself on the back for that one!

Here’s a little recap of last year’s goals:

1. Teach Minnow to rear CHECK

2. Teach Blitz and Boomer to lay down on command CHECK for Boomer

3. Finish teaching Ammo and Boomer to paint CHECK (Ammo learned to make scratch art)

4. Come up with a new skit for Minnow to perform CHECK a performance of dueling super hero’s with Ammo

5. Make a new video of all of the trick ponies (and the Dachshund) performing CHECK thanks to my talented brother

6. Move Boomer up to compete in the Masters Division in Mounted Games CHECK we competed this past year in masters

7. Take Blitz to a bombproofing clinic/and or some Dressage events

8. Teach Ammo and Minnow some tricks together CHECK seen in their super hero performance

9. Find more venues/performances for Minnow to do – events that raise money for charities would be great. CHECK we attended the Equine Extravaganza, MGAA Nationals, and did several new camp performances.

10. Spend more time doing β€œnothing” with the boys CHECK

The only thing I didn’t get to do was take Blitz on an outing. Blitz is owned by my mom now, so she spent a lot of last year training him – hopefully this year I will find some time to take him somewhere.

So in keeping with my tradition, I thought I should come up with some new goals for this year. I’m so excited to get started and I have BIG plans for the boys this year.


1. Take some western riding lessons with Boomerang

2. Push myself past my comfort zone and compete in something I’ve never done before

3. Teach Minnow to sit or lay down

4. Fine tune Boomerang’s cues for bow and lay down

5. Train some more tricks using the pedestal

6. Teach Minnow a brand-new trick skit for Pony Penning 2011

7. Teach Ammo the Dachshund a skit he can perform alone

8. Take Blitz on an outing (Dressage, Paperchase, Mounted Games, Tricks, etc)

9. Paint with the boys more often

10. Read a training book (or video) and teach one skill from it

11. Teach Boomerang flying lead changes, rollbacks, and a better sidepass

12. Read Misty of Chincoteague…again! πŸ™‚

Sounds doable right? What are your goals for 2011? Anything I should add?

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I know it’s a little early for Christmas Wish lists, but I have one item on my list this year that I really hope to get! A treeless saddle for Boomerang!

Admittedly I’ve had my current saddle since I was 12 (14 years for anyone counting)….and after a few growth spurts as a teenager…lets just say it’s less than “fitting”. I have no idea how I’ve lasted this long with a saddle that was a couple sizes too small, it’s kinda embarrassing.

I’ve been thinking about getting a new saddle for a while now, but Treeless never crossed my mind until now, mostly because I had never even heard of it! I have a friend from across the county (Oregon) to thank for my spark into the treeless saddles, Kali from Pony Pros, Kali and her husband Les run an amazing riding program for kids that teaches them about training ponies in a natural way (their own method that involves some of clicker training & even Parelli). All of their ponies (even the lesson ponies) are ridden bitless and in treeless saddles or bareback pads. It’s pretty amazing stuff!

So what is Treeless?

Treeless saddles are typically flexible and move ‘with’ the horse rather than creating a barrier of a stiff tree. Horses move more relaxed and free because no tree is constricting the shoulder. No pressure under the cantle gives relief to short and flat backed horses.

These saddles also provide a very close contact with the horse and help horses and riders with back issues. Many riders find relief from pain because the saddles are so soft and cause less jarring to the rider’s back. Beginner riders learn to feel the rhythm and find balance much faster.

Recently, while at the Equine Extravaganza, I got to meet and talk with a treeless saddle vender. I sat in a few different models, which I found to be surprisingly comfortable (I was a little doubtful at first). I am now pretty thoroughly convinced that treeless is the way to go for me and Boomerang. I regularly ride Boomer bareback at home, because I’ve found that he seems much happier to respond to my aids without a saddle on his back – he’s also lighter and just generally seems to enjoy it more. And since my switch in March to a bitless bridle I’ve been becoming a bigger advocate for the “natural way” in my riding.

So with my decision to go treeless, I went on the hunt for the right saddle. There seems to be a lot of versions out there. You of course have the big brands like Barefoot, Freeform, Ansur, Torison (I’m sure there might be more, but these are the ones I know of) but then you also have the I guess what I could call “knock-offs” which you can find on Ebay and other like sites.

I looked at A LOT of saddles online – some I ruled out because the cantel was too high. For Mounted Games it’s preferable to have a low cantel to make vaulting onto the saddle from the ground much easier. I decided then to nix the “knock-off” ones from ebay, because as much as I liked the price tags (new saddle for $99, yes please), I knew that I would be putting this saddle through the works with all the vaulting I’d be doing – so I wanted something that would hold up. And with a $99 price tag, I doubted this was possible.

In the end (thus far) I think I narrowed it down to a Barefoot saddle. I liked the look of the Freeform, but they had a higher price tag (about $1,500) – and I was going for more a used saddle pricing, and the Barefoot seemed to fit that ($500 – $900). What I also liked about the Barefoot is that it has a VPS Panel System, which basically means it has spine clearance for your horse. A lot of people opposed to treeless saddles complain that they make it so the saddle rests right on the horse’s spine (A treed saddle keeps pressure off the spine) – so with the VPS Panel System this issue is eliminated.

The great thing about Treeless Saddles is that they are designed to fit pretty much any horse. So you don’t have to worry about an ill-fitting tree, with pressure points that hurt your horse – and it also gives you the benefit of ordering online without worry about having to send back tons of saddles.

So even though I feel kinda ok about ordering online – I’d much rather be able to try something on my horse to make sure we both like it first.

Well, wouldn’t you know that Pennsylvania doesn’t seem to be in the forefront of treeless saddles, because all my local tack shops seemed to have no idea what I was talking about. Luckily the Barefoot Company seems to have a retalier in nearby Delaware!

So if you’re listening Santa, I’d like to take a trip there to pick out a new Treeless Saddle!!

And if anyone out there has experience going Treeless let me know. I’ll take all the suggestions I can get – and I’m looking forward to being the only mounted games player in the US sporting a bitless bridle and a treeless saddle πŸ™‚ Maybe I’ll start a new trend.

What’s on your Christmas Wish List?

Images from the Barefoot Saddle Company.


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