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Posts Tagged ‘western’

This is Story Teller

I met Story when she was just a few weeks old at the 2010 Chincoteague Pony Auction in Virginia. Little did I know then, but she had been bought by someone in my hometown – and in the fall she would be on her way to live in Pennsylvania.

Story - 2010 Chincoteauge Pony Auction

Story - 2010 Chincoteague Pony Auction

On July 10th I attended Story’s First Birthday Party. You can’t tell my boys, because they would be highly jealous!

All of Story’s friends came to her party.

Story even had a special Birthday cake just for her.

Of course she shared her treats with her friends.

This is Sam Brown, Story’s trainer. He is also the same trainer that my mom has been using to work with Blitz.

It was such a great party for a lucky lucky girl. Wishing you many more Happy Birthdays!

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Last weekend we took Boomer and Blitz to an Extreme Cowboy Challenge about an hour from us at JC Cutting Horses. We had never been there before – and this is a different type event, not to be confused with Craig Cameron’s Extreme Cowboy RACE.

The Extreme Cowboy RACE is more a RACE, with emphasis on speed AND the horse’s willingness to maneuver obstacles. Extra points are given for above and beyond as well. The event we attended was a series put on by JC Cutting Horses, where they actually prefer you to do most obstacles very slowly. Scores are given based on the horse’s performance only – and how versatile they appear. You could also earn extra points for showing off extra maneuvers your horse might be able to do.

I had a little bit of a tough time remembering it wasn’t a race. Boomer is a RACING pony, so naturally our canter gaits are much faster than they probably should have been for this type of event. I also kept forgetting that unlike the Craig Cameron EXCR, you did not have a time limit to perform an obstacle.

I entered Boomer into the intermediate division and was looking forward to trying the open division and even the ranch riding division – which boasted roping a mechanical bull as well as more advanced maneuvers. Unfortunately we didn’t realize they didn’t have a food booth at this event, and by 2pm my mom and I were starving. So we opted to head home early – so we could get something to eat.

It ended up being a really fun day, and we met lots of nice people. I’m very much looking forward to coming back to their next one – and I’m dying to give the mechanical bull a try, I’ve even been practicing my roping.

I’m not sure what we ended up placing – as they only announce 1st & 2nd (the jackpot winners) – but we more went for the experience anyway. Even Blitz participated in the schooling session with my mom – I’m going to work on a short video of him soon, showing just how much progress he’s made in the past few months. His transformation is amazing and my mom has put so much effort into making him a nice pony.

Here’s a short video of the highlights of my ride with Boomer.

We’re hoping to pick some dates for the farm to have a gymkhana/extreme cowboy type event soon. We’ve been gathering some ideas with all the places we’ve been going to lately and can’t wait to host our own show at the farm!

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I’ve had the SAME english saddle since I was about 14. That’s 13 years for anyone counting. Most people would have upgraded long ago, but since I’ve been riding ponies since I was 5 (and still do) the saddle was a good fit for them. For me though? Not so much.

My 13 year old english saddle

Only, I didn’t really notice how ill-fitting my saddle was until recently. I didn’t know that it could be better – for me & my ponies. The soreness in my legs after a weekend competing – mostly due to a saddle that was too small for my 5’10” frame.

I honestly never really thought much about upgrading my current saddle until after the Extreme Cowboy race competition with Boomerang this winter. Since we had begun doing more western type maneuvers I began to really notice how much my current english saddle was throwing me forward. I felt the need to sit deeper (to stay on through Boomer’s super spins), but when we broke to the canter my saddle pushed me into a two-point position.

I didn’t really want a western saddle, because although what I do is more akin to western speed sports, I still like to occasionally do dressage, or some jumping. And I later learned that Boomerang is too short backed to take an adult sized western saddle anyway. Getting another (larger) english saddle would work, but I would still be thrown forward.

Freeform Classic BTF Treeless Saddle from Saddle Up

But I learned there was another option. Treeless. I actually would have never known what a treeless saddle was if it wasn’t for my facebook friend, Kali from Pony Pros. She runs a program in Oregon for kids and adults where all of the horses are ridden bitless and in treeless saddles.

If you are unfamiliar with treeless saddles they are basically the same as an english (or western) saddle but they do not have a rigid tree inside of them. I did a lot of research into them before hand. I learned about the importance of making sure the treeless saddles do not rest on the horses’ spine, I looked at tons of different manufacturers, I even drove Boomerang to Delaware to test out the closest treeless saddle I could find. Treeless saddles are big with endurance riders as they are not only comfortable for the rider, but they also free up the horses’ movement – but in my area many tack shops didn’t even know what I was talking about when I asked if they carried treeless saddles.

I finally narrowed down my search to an online shop located in Virginia (about as close as I could get to Pennsylvania). For the next few weeks I emailed back and forth with Paulita Neff from Saddle Up about what I was looking for, the features I needed, and the issue I had with my short backed pony, and my extremely tall self (I’m really too tall to be riding these 13 hand ponies).

I finally decided on the Freeform Classic BTF.

When it arrived a few weeks later, admittedly I had some doubts. Is a treeless saddle really going to stay on my pony’s back when I lean to pick objects off the ground during a mounted games competition? Am I going to like it? Is it really worth spending that much money on a saddle?

Boomerang competeing in his new treeless saddle

The interesting thing about the Freeform saddles is that not only can you change the actual seat position, but you can also change where the stirrups hang from – so you can make the entire seat totally customizable to you. It took me a few days of riding in the saddle and making adjustments to the position of things to get it to the right fit to me. I ultimately ended up putting my seat as far back as I could (I’d actually prefer it a little further back, so the saddle would fit my leg better – but because my pony is so short backed I can’t do this, the perils of riding a pony when you are tall), and I placed my stirrups a little more forward to have a more “western” seat in the saddle.

Boomerang if very happy in his new treeless saddle

After a few rides, and many adjustments, I was hooked. I felt like I was riding on a pillow. Transitioning back to my old english saddle made me feel like I was riding on a board – I couldn’t believe I had actually spent 13 years in that thing. And after ordering a pony sized dressage girth for Boomerang (the smaller the girth the more stable it makes the saddle), leaning off to pick objects off the ground was no problem. And I had no slipping of my saddle.

Comfort Dressage Girth from Just for Ponies

I also picked up a new pair of stirrups, as the leathers are somewhat wider and didn’t fit my conventional safety stirrups (a must for a saddle that doesn’t have stirrup bars). These from HorseLoverz fit perfectly, and I love the fact that they sit at a better position to easily find them at a flat out gallop (after vaulting onto your pony at a games competition of course).

Coronet Double Safety Irons from HorseLoverz

One of the best parts about the new saddle is that Boomerang’s spins have gotten quicker and faster. The treeless saddle has freed up his shoulders and he is much more agile. My mom even tried it out on Blitz and he began picking up his once sticky right lead immediately (because his shoulder had freer movement).

Over the weekend we took the ponies to their very first gymkhana event. Here’s a short little video to show how it went:

The ponies were fantastic and I felt really secure in my new saddle. And after a day of being in my saddle I didn’t have a single sore muscle or sore spot anywhere – due to my super comfy new saddle.

I’m excited to test it out in the mounted games arena as well as on the trail too (although we have practiced some gaming in it at home). Here’s a few shots from our day at the gymkhana…

Boomerang was very well behaved considering all the commotion around, and the fact that the horse flies were eating him alive. It’s great to be able to expose the ponies to so many different things, it makes them so versatile.

Stay tuned, because Sunday was a day of firsts for Boomerang and Blitz, as we also took them swimming for the first time! Pictures are coming soon!

 

Special thanks to Paulita from Saddle Up for being so patient with me as I asked a million questions about treeless saddles!

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Boomerang is unbelievably smart. He picks up things so fast – and he LOVES inventing his own tricks. Like this one:

now it might just look like I cued him to smile – but in fact I have not.

Boomer has decided that it’s very important to put a beaming smile on your face everytime someone picks up a camera to take your picture. It’s quite cute actually – but I’m pretty sure he’ll never take a “normal” photo again. But that’s ok…it sorta makes me giggle.

Boomer has also picked up a subtle cue I’ve been giving him to “roll over” when he lays down.

So with a tilt of my head onto his side he goes.

 

This weekend Boomerang is headed to his first gymkhana event (along with Blitz and my sister’s mare Jet). Barrel racing here we come! In english tack of course, because we have to be different like that.

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Hopefully you got to read part 1 of our big Trick Pony Update. Well, part 2 was supposed to come way sooner than now! Sorry! But better late than never. So here’s a little bit of what we’ve been up to lately….

Right before our big school visit I decided to teach Minnow a new trick. He now has a bright beaming smile, just like his brother, Boomerang.

I’m not really sure why it took me so long to get around to teaching him this trick – but whatever the case, in a matter of a few minutes he was a smiling fool!

Meanwhile, Minnow has picked up a new training buddy, Trooper! Trooper has graciously agreed to perform alongside Ammo the Dachshund at the Keystone Dachshund Races this year.

Ammo has been helping Trooper to learn his tricks, and before we know it “Super Trooper” will be ready for the big show!

Minnow had a break-through in his laydown training a few weeks ago. Those of you that have been reading the blog for a long time might know that Minnow has not been trained to laydown yet. Mostly because he’s extremely sensitive and up until now, putting himself into a vulnerable position like laying down was not something he was comfortable with. Typically he will wait until no one is around before he will even roll in the pasture, and he’s never let me even get close to him while he’s on the ground. I’m a strong believer in letting my horse tell me when they are ready and comfortable. I was in no hurry to teach Minnow to laydown, and I’ve been patiently waiting for the past 8 years until he’s ready.

And now I think the time has finally come. It all started with a bath a few weeks ago. Miraculously he decided to roll right after I turned him out in the pasture – about a foot away from me. I took it as a cue and crept up next to him to feet him grass. He stayed down for about 30 seconds before he got up. I then began to give my cue for laydown that I use for Boomer (which I have been making Minnow watch for the past several weeks) – and by some miracle Minnow went down again. I could kick myself for not having a handful of treats in my pockets – but I did my best to verbally praise him & feed him any bits of grass I could find.

I’m so excited that he finally seems ready to master this (difficult for him) trick. When the day finally comes we will have reached a huge milestone in our relationship. From the scared & untrusting pony I met 8 years ago – to a pony that will trust me to be around him in his most vulnerable moment. I’m honored that he’s chosen me to go on this journey with him. 🙂

Usually our travels involve performances and competitions, but this month our travels led us in a different direction. Boomer, Blitz, and Ammo recently took a trip with us to Delaware – not for a performance – but for saddle fitting!

Blitz is going to be a Western Pony! Doesn’t he look cute in his new western saddle? Meanwhile Boomerang & I are trying out treeless saddles! I’ve had the same multipurpose saddle since I was about 12 -so it’s high time I upgrade (specifically to something that isn’t too small for me!) So, to make room for our new saddle, we’re also selling off some of the ones we don’t use anymore.

So if anyone is interested in a 16 1/2″ Dressage Saddle in excellent condition let me know! You can find out more details here. Once our new saddle is here, we will also have a great multi-purpose saddle for sale.

Blitz is really liking his new western pony role, and Boomer can hardly contain his excitement for his new saddle to arrive. We’ll be sure to post details once we’ve made sure it fits him & given it a good test ride. You can find out more details about treeless saddles here.

Well I hope you enjoyed our little update on life with the trick ponies’. As we approach Summer more exciting things will be happening – as we gear up for more performances and our yearly trip with Minnow to Pony Penning!

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On Sunday we had a mounted games event at the farm. During these events we also like to add on a fun jackpot obstacle course for everyone. It’s great experience for the ponies & riders, and it’s fun to challenge yourself to try something new. Each time we have them the course gets bigger and better, and the riders that participate begin to grow. We’re hoping that this will turn into a popular event – as it really is a blast!

Here’s a quick video of Boomerang and I doing a run-through of the course before the show. We ended up making a few modifications, like taking out the “gate” which inevitably ended up being too much of a challenge. 🙂

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You might remember that for my Birthday I wanted a lariat so that I could learn to rope. To my surprise my husband had already gotten me one – before I publicly announced on the blog that it was on my wish list! I had no big plans for the rope, it was more just for fun and a good way to desensitize the ponies to new things.

I spent the last few weeks roping things around the farm, fence posts, traffic cones, dachshunds, I even tried to rope the neighbor’s dog that escaped (unfortunately my attempt was unsuccessful – although we did end up catching the dog). Then I started roping things in and around Boomer to get him used to it.

Then just a few days ago I decided to try it while riding him. I wasn’t surprised to find that it didn’t faze him much, and I began using clicker training to teach him that the rope was a positive thing.

My first few attempts to rope while mounted were pretty pathetic. Boomer tolerated me while I roped his face, a couple of legs, and tail. I’m still not quite sure how the cowboys manage to the throw the lasso, hold the extra rope, and steer the horse at the same time. It’s not easy!

Anyway, here’s a few video clips of my first attempts at TROTTING and roping.

I could definitely use some more practice! Although I’m very happy with Boomer’s attitude towards it. Maybe soon we’ll work our way up to cantering! Yeehaw!

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