Posts Tagged ‘natural horsemanship’

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted something, but that doesn’t mean the ponies haven’t been BUSY! We’ve held a few events at the farm, and all the ponies have been getting exercised regularly in preparation for a very special trip we’re taking this weekend.

We’re loading up the trailer and taking all three ponies down to Chincoteague Island, Virginia to participate in a beach ride on Assateague Island with our friends from the Chincoteague Pony Centre! I’m so excited to ride MY ponies on the beach for the very first time ever – and to also bring Minnow back to the island where he was born 18 years ago.

I’ve had this trip on my bucket list for a long time now and even though the weather this weekend is looking not so great – I’m still excited to go on this adventure.

Part of the adventure is being able to ride on the beach, and considering Minnow has been in retirement since 2008 due to his ringbone, I figured it was time for him to be saddled up. Minnow hasn’t had a saddle on in about 2 years and although I do exercise him to keep his weight down and occasionally hop on him bareback I needed to make sure he remembered what a girth felt like before our beach ride. Mostly likely Minnow will just do some light walking on the beach and Boomerang will take me on the 2 hour ride, but it was still important to get a practice saddling in before the trip.

minnow spanish walk

Minnow practicing his Spanish Walk

So after one of our shows at the farm we decided to run all three ponies through the obstacle course we had set up (none of the ponies had done this specific course before). Below are videos of all three ponies completing the course. Minnow did exceptionally well considering he hasn’t really been ridden in 2 years (he does get exercised regularly in the ring by allowing him to free-lounge himself) – it’s such a testament to how much he really trusts me.




So if you were our judge who would have won? We typically judge on accuracy, how relaxed & willing the horse is, and how the rider executes the tasks (speed is not a factor) – this would of been a tough one to judge between our 3 ponies – just goes to show what a great attitude these Chincoteague Ponies have.

Anyone else ever ridden their horse on the beach? Did you know that Assateague Island allows beach rides in the fall season, and you can even camp on the island with your horse. So if it’s your dream too – it is possible!

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On Sunday I took Boomerang to his very first mounted shooting clinic. My mom and Blitz tagged along too – although they had been to one other shooting session before.

cowboy mounted shooting

The clinic was held in NJ by the Jersey Devils Mounted Shooters. We started off with a bit of gun safety and practiced firing from the ground at our balloon targets.

cowboy mounted shooting

Surprisingly I was a better shot from my pony than I was from the ground, ha!

cowboy mounted shooting

The guns we fired were fairly loud, so I wasn’t sure how Boomer would react. He’s pretty brave, but any horse would be scared if you fire a pistol from their back.

cowboy mounted shooting

To introduce our horses to the gunfire we rode around as a group while riders routinely shot off rounds into the air. The first few shots startled Boomer as I’m sure he wasn’t expecting it, but being in a group with the other horses that had all done this before – he was quickly put at ease. After a few laps around, and a few clicks and rewards from me, he seemed to hardly notice the gunfire anymore.

cowboy mounted shooting

Next we each took turns running through a pattern and firing at the balloons. In competition you are scored on speed and accuracy, and in my first run through I shot 8 out of the 10 balloons. I was really surprised Boomer hardly jumped at all – shooting next to the horse is much different than shooting into the air, because the sound is louder and they can see the gun out of the corner of their eye.

Below are two videos I put together of Boomer and Blitz running through the patterns:

Blitz is a little bit more of a nervous horse, but he improved greatly with each time he went.

It ended up being a really fun day and a great experience for both ponies. I don’t have plans to join the mounted shooting club (although I was really fun) but I did it as a way to introduce my pony (and myself) to something entirely new. All of the different things I do with my ponies are helping to make them better mounts. I think if the club wasn’t a two hour drive for me I might have considered joining, because it was fun to wield a pistol!

cowboy mounted shooting

And Boomerang was pretty proud of himself in the end, evident by his beaming smile!

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On Sunday I took Boomerang to a Judged Trail Competition at the Bucks County Horse Park. I’ve never been to one of these before but it sounded like fun. You ride a 4 mile long trail through the park and at certain check points you have to complete an obstacle. You are judged on your performance (and sometimes timed). Boomer was great, completing every one of the obstacles to the best of his ability. We encountered several obstacles that Boomer had never seen before, like a teeter-totter, dragging a boogie board through water, walking across a carpet in the grass, opening trash cans, playing mini golf, and a few others. I was able to film some of the obstacles – but I wish I had remembered to film all of them, I got caught up in all the fun we were having!

Here’s a short compilation of some of the stuff we encountered throughout the day:

We’re still waiting to hear the results, so hopefully we did well enough to place. But either way it was a fun experience and I hope we can make it out to another one soon.

Here’s a video of my mom and my sister’s mare, Jet, doing some of the obstacles:

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minnow kiss

Come meet Minnow the Painting Pony (and his sidekick Ammo the Dachshund) in person – and get your big sloppy kiss! (Or for the faint of heart – just shake his hoof!)

We’re going to have a booth at the Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show on Saturday AND Sunday! Minnow & Ammo are going to be doing tricks all day long, and they’re both bringing some of their famous paintings that will be available to purchase. We even have Christmas cards!

You can catch them on Saturday from 10 – 2pm (Minnow will do a special painting at 11am, 12pm, and 1pm) and on Sunday from 11 – 4pm (Minnow will do a special painting at 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm).

We hope to see you there!

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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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Last month my mom took Blitz to his very first Mounted Shooting practice with the Jersey Devils Mounted Shooters Club. Neither my mom nor Blitz have done any type of mounted shooting – and Blitz is not the “bravest” pony – but they both survived! (And no one got shot!) It was a great learning experience for Blitz and I’m sure it really did a lot to help his confidence more.

Here is a video they shot – which has clips of my mom and Blitz in it…

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Well, we’re back from Pony Penning! It was a lot of work, but so much fun! Most people probably don’t realize how much time, energy, and commitment we put into preparing to perform all week long in Chincoteague. Not only does Minnow have 10 times the luggage that I do, but making sure it’s organized, canvases are prepped, paint brushes prepared, costumes made, performances are practiced – takes months and months of planning. Every year I tell myself “I’ll be super prepared” this year – and even though I’m probably one of the most organized people you will ever meet (I might have an issue) – I always seem to be working into the wee hours of the night the day before we leave for Chincoteague. And this year was no exception.

The new trailer made packing this year a little more bearable though. Instead of having to bungee pedestals, easels and paints into a bay in our two horse trailer, we now had a front and rear tackroom to work with. But with all the added storage space, we still couldn’t let little Ammo stowaway. Sadly the island isn’t very “dog friendly” as most of the parks and hotels don’t allow dogs (although ponies walking down main street to greet people is a common occurrence! ha).

Minnow made the 4 hour journey to the island with ease, just as he has for the past 3 years. This was actually the first time he had ever ridden in the new trailer, but being the trooper he is it was a piece of cake. We arrived with just a few short hours to prepare before Minnow was set to perform. The first day of performing is always the hardest – because we are yet to get into a routine. Figuring out when/where to set up his props, getting a feel for how much time between “acts” he has for a “costume change” – even for Minnow it takes a little bit to get into the swing of things.

During Minnow’s first performance of the week he painted “Peace of Paradise”.

"Peace of Paradise" by Minnow - pony penning 2011

I got to watch a little bit of the rest of the performances during the pony show at the Chincoteague Pony Centre – but it was hard to see everything while making sure Minnow was prepared for his next “act”.

I’m so impressed by all the kids that work at the Pony Centre. During the pony show they finagle ponies in and out of paddocks – including mare’s and foals, tack and untack horses – all while making sure they are in the arena at their designated times to perform. I have enough trouble making sure Minnow and I are ready to go in the arena (and I have my mom along to help me!). Most people don’t get to see the “back end” of it, and believe me – they make it look way easier than it is!

“Stormy Sea” by Minnow – pony penning 2011

During the evening show Minnow painted “Stormy Sea” and afterwards my mom and I mustered up enough energy to head over to the Island Creamery.

Double chocolate ice cream for me – I love chocolate almost as much as I do ponies! Then it was back to the hotel for the night – where I got to read Minnow’s article that made it into the paper!

You can read the entire article by clicking HERE.

And thus our first day on the island came to an end, keep reading to hear our recap on the rest of the week!

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