Thursday, January 31, 2013

more homework

Let's get this out of the way first. . .


Of course, it came after weeks of snowy and icy conditions and arrived on a rainy day when there were puddles (small lakes) everywhere. And it came on a Monday, which is hard for me because I usually can't make it to the barn during the week right now. Not that it mattered, rain, rain, and more rain was in the forecast for the week followed up by cold, ice, and snow. 

Since I was not able to have fun with my cart, I made this to see what Shy would look like. . .

Cute, right? Along with my cart came some new homework from Becky.

We completed all the homework she previously gave me for Shyloh which included keep on line driving, work on contact, practice with obstacles, PVC shafts, driving whip, singing when nervous, and get a cart. "A+" for homework!

The new homework is as follows:
1. Get holdbacks on the cart where they belong. Holdbacks act as a brake so the cart does not ride up on the horse.
2. Make sure everything fits properly.
3. Get a header! (This is hard for me since it is only me at the barn.)
4. Do more tire dragging, then introduce the cart (like we did when Becky came with her cart).
5. Walk her around at the head with the cart attached (this one I came up with on my own).
6. Ground drive her from behind the cart. Work on whoa, stand, gee, haw, back up, and walk on.
7. Do the first few session in the arena.
8. Finally get in the cart. A header is a must!

Seems like a lot of homework, but it really isn't. It is important to lay a good solid foundation for Shy so once we get to Step 7, everything runs smoothly. I won't be in the cart for a few weeks to a month is my guess, just to be safe. But I am okay with that. 

I am pretty excited to get started with this homework!

Monday, January 28, 2013

monday musings by shyloh #73

I, Shyloh, demand payment in the form of hay for all the hard work I have done this weekend. I have given a grand total of 5 sled rides and those do not include the hour long rides with Allie. I am one pooped pony. I am not used to working this hard. 
I'm too fuzzy to work hard!
Believe me, I tried my best to get out of it. I thought if I gave Allie a hard time, she would give up and put me with my herd. No such luck. . .

I tried to make it hard for her to attach the sled, but Allie was persistent. I spun around and got all tangled up, but Allie just untangled me. I even acted spooky one day in hopes that I would scare Allie into not hooking me up, but that was useless. I tried not stopping when asked. I tried not standing still. I even tried standing so still that I didn't move at all. I tried to go one way when Allie wanted me to go another way. I even turned myself all around that when I was facing Allie in the sled, I scared myself! None of my tactics worked. 

I guess I'll have to live by the motto, if you can't beat them, join them. The one day there was so much stuff going on and I was a super pony. There was a horse freaking out in it's stall and banging around. I could hear from the outside, but I wasn't scared. The manure spreader was idling and in our way, but I just took Allie right past it. Some horses were scared of us and our strange contraption and we almost got ran over by them, but I was cool as a cucumber. Ice was sliding off of the roofs, I did a little jump at that, but to be fair, so did Allie. There were horses in the paddocks running and bucking around, but it didn't bother me none. I did freaked out some of my herd when we took the sled past them. I went up to them to let them know it was okay, though.
Also, there were pieces of hay on the ground.
I do have to say, even though giving horse sled rides is hard work, it sure is fun. But it would be more fun if I got some hay out of it. Seriously.

Here are some of my rides from the weekend!


Saturday, January 26, 2013

pony sled rides

I bought a new sled. Since it had just started snowing again, most of the sleds were gone, but I did find a pretty pink sled for us to use. After my purchase, I promptly headed to the barn.

I went out and caught Shyloh, groomed her, and tacked her up. We were going sledding! But Shy was in no mood to make to make it easy for me. As soon as we got in the outdoor arena, she wanted to go go go and she didn't even have the sled attached. I did my safety precautions of walking her around with the sled first. Then I attached it. . .or attempted to attach it. Shy would not stand still. It was almost as if she was saying, if you want to sled, you have to work for it. I finally got her still and hooked her up without a problem. Sassy pony. I did my second set of safety checks of line driving with the sled attached and checking her brakes. We were good to go!

Around and around the arena we went. Back and forth, circles and figure eights again. Trotting. Shy's steering was good and so were her whoa and stand. I felt comfortable enough to take us out of the arena. This time, I cleared the arena fencing and took a different, less rocky road.

We went all over the property! Shy was so great. She did have one issue. . .she got stuck. I am not sure why, but when we got to the front Shy refused to move. Just stood there like a statue. One of the ladies at the barn helped me out and got Shy going by walking at her head. After that, we were problem free! We went past people and horses with no problems. I was having so much fun!
We were sledding for about 45 minutes to an hour so I steered Shy towards the tack area to give her a break. She got a carrot and a little rest. Then we had some sledders!

Another boarder brought her three kids to sled with Shy. Back to the arena we went. Of course, Shy was on her most sassy behavior and was causing all kinds of ruckus when it was time to attach the sled. She turned into a top and kept spinning, spinning, spinning. But after she tangled herself in lines and I untangles her,  she straightened out. I put the lunge line on her, just in case. Can never be too careful with kids. . .

Shy was great for all three kids and their mom! She walked for them, listened to them, but really made them mean it when they said trot. I wish I had photos to share, but I was holding the lunge line and making sure Shy was on her best behavior. It makes me so happy that Shy was good for other people. I can't wait to do some more horse sledding!

Friday, January 25, 2013

r.i.p. sled

Poor sled. You will be missed. We had some fun times with you. You are the one that really taught Shyloh how to pull things. We used you over gravel, over straw, over grass, and over snow. Once, you scared Shy so bad that she took off on us, causing rope burns. But you were there to help get Shy comfortable with noises behind her that she couldn't see. Sled, you had Anthony as a test dummy when Shy pulled her first person in the snow. Then you gave rides to some people at the barn. But our time now has come to an end. Just when we were beginning to have a ton of fun with you, you break and leave us sled-less. So sad sled, so sad.
so sad
Anyone care to take a guess how the sled broke?
a. plastic snapped from coldness
b. sledding accident
c. went over a rock
d. Shy stepped on it

I finally made it to the barn to see my pony! The temps have been below freezing with the windchill. But I got out there today with a plan. Sled! Shy was in her pasture, all cute with snowflakes on her back. I grabbed her, groomed icicles off of her and just hugged on her for a bit. I really needed that!

Then I tacked her up and walked our dearly beloved sled to the outdoor arena. I got Shy used to the sled again, dragging it and kicking it and what not. Shy was a good pony. Then I did a little line driving behind her, testing her brakes and making more noises with the sled. Check. 

I gathered up my courage and plopped on the sled. It was my first time riding in the sled alone. 

And it was fun!! We walked, we trotted, we did circles and figure eights. Shy was great. She listened to my voice and my reins. Here, come for a little ride with us. . .

Sorry about the part where I dropped the rein. After this, I decided to take her down the little roads in the barn. 

First, I want to mention that I have a hard enough time driving a car, not sure what makes me want to drive a horse! I can't even begin to tell you how many times I hit curbs when turning. . .So as we make our way out of the arena, I made the turn too tight. The single tree hit the fence and Shy's feet moved. Fast. But she didn't go anywhere. I told her easy and she calmed right down and we went on our merry way. Soon, we came to a rocky road. I guess we went over a big rock and a heard a different noise than I am used to hearing. Shy heard it too. I also felt something. . . Shy wasn't too sure what was going on now (and either was I), and she was getting a litte antsy. So I told her easy, told her whoa, then stepped out of the sled to investigate. Crap, the sled had a crack. Well, I was having so much fun I wanted to keep going. But we only got a few more steps until the back end of the sled hit another rock and busted right off. Again, a scary noise, but Shy was acting like an old pro. Cue happy dance!

So those of you that answered c were correct!
Shy has hay radar, she uncovered some hay hiding in the snow
I was very happy with how well Shy did today! We went outside of the arena, we trotted, and we overcame some scary noises and new obstacles. I was pretty bummed about the sled, I would have kept on going until dark time! Guess I am going to have to get a new sled now.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

abc, easy as 1 2 3

Brrrr, it has been cold! Rumor has it we are going to get a heat wave. . .all the way to 32 degrees F! And to make matters worse, there is not enough snow to sled. But, on the plus. . .weather permitting, the cart is coming Saturday!!

Dreaming posted this not too long ago and I thought it would be fun to partake. Enjoy!

A: Age: 31

B: Bed size: A very crowded queen size
C. Chore you hate: all of them!
D. Dogs: 2, Cooper a 10 year old Golden Retriever mix, and Maggie a 4 year old pit mix
E. Essential start to your day: a shower and a computer, but not at the same time
F. Favorite color: blue
G. Gold or silver: silver
H: Height: 5’4″
I: Instruments that you can play: none at all
J: Job title: Child and Family Advocate
K: Kids: none
L: Live: Michigan, near Detroit
M: Mom’s name: Judy
N: Nicknames: Allie
O: Overnight hospital stays: none
P: Pet peeve: slow drivers!
Q: Quirk: lots. . .i have rituals where I must do everything in a certain order, mostly at morning.
R: Righty or lefty: righty
S: Sibling: 1 younger sister
T: Time you wake up: 7am
U: Underwear: yes please
V: Vegetables you dislike: most, asparagus, onions, celery, I could go on and on
W: What makes you run late: stupid trains by my house!
X: X-rays: can't remember
Y: Yummy food you make: beef stroganoff
Z: Zoo favorite animal: polar bears

Monday, January 21, 2013

monday musings by shyloh #72

I have to say. . .I am pretty proud of Allie. She has come so far in her human training. And she has trained with the best. . .me!
Chillin with my homies
Allie now knows not to take my crap. She knows that I am pretending or trying to get out of work 99% of the time. And for the 1% of stuff that is actually really scary, Allie knows to take it slow. 

Allie knows that I am a horse and sometimes I don't think about work stuff all the time. There is much more important things to think about, like food. So I sometimes forget. But more often than not, I am just testing. I need to know Allie means it when she says something. And when I do really forget, Allies doesn't get mad, she just takes a step back and practices whatever it is with me until I get it.

Let's take the other day. . .we had worked and worked on standing. Sometimes, I just don't want to stand still, I want to keep going and explore. But Allie practiced on saying stand and meaning it, so I finally thought she meant business. Then she hooked the tire on me. I hadn't had the tire on since there was snow on the ground. So I pretended to be scared and moved my legs real fast. But I guess that doesn't fool Allie anymore. So I just did my work. Even when we went over straw or gravel, I didn't care. See?
Allie also knows that when we do hard work, it's nice to balance it out with some fun stuff. Like smiles and treats!
I have to say, I have a pretty good deal. . .and a very trainable two legger!

Oh, and look at the present I got from Notch and Clutch and Isaac's mom!

The cutest cooler ever! Allie says now she is going to have to work me until I sweat now. Good luck with that I say!


Friday, January 18, 2013


I decided that Shyloh needed a little break from line driving, pulling, and the harness in general, since we had been going at it pretty hard core. This week has been devoted to clicker training, stand, and some fun stuff.

Shy got her hooves trimmed earlier in the week. She is always so good for the farrier. While we were waiting for him to get to the barn, I took Shy for a trail walk on one of the trails. I really think she is going to be a good trail horse. Heck, she probably is already a good trail horse, I just need to get my butt up there and go! And get a saddle. . .
Shy is very relaxed in the woods. Leaf sounds, branches scraping her, logs on the path. . .nothing is a bother. She had no problem walking over two pretty big sized fallen trees (yet when round penning her over ground pulls, she tried everything to avoid them). 
She loves to eat leaves
We even found a turkey feather! But no sign of the turkey.

Another day, we worked on standing. I stood next to her and made her keep her head straight. Click and treat. Then I kept moving back until I could go all around her without her moving. And then I switched to doing the whole thing again on the other side. We have done this exercise before, so Shy just needed a refresher. 

After that I worked on having her stand while I increased my distance from her. Click and treat. This worked well until she discovered some other horses poop that she desperately needed to smell. When I got a good stand, I let her smell it until she was satisfied. Then I had her attention back.

We also worked on smile since Shy had been getting lazy with this trick. And we continued to work on clicking and treating for picking up each hoof when asked. All in all, I am happy with how Shy is doing.

Another variant of the stand command was using it while walking together. So instead of asking Shy to stand and I walk away from her, I lead her, ask her to whoa, then ask her to stand. We did this around the property and Shy was pretty much perfect with it. Which shows she knows the command, she is just being a brat. 

I probably will go over these again and then start back with the line driving. It never hurts to go through some refreshers!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

how i got into halfingers

I got into horses at a later age than most. When I was a kid, I was into a lot of things and horses never really crossed my mind. I started out with ballet (can you imagine?), swimming, and competitive figure skating. By eighth grade, I was burned out! For skating, I had to get up at 4:30am skate before school, get to school late then leave early for more skating. It was pretty intense. When I finally hung up the skates, I took a break from everything. I did play school sports like volleyball and tennis, then I completed my high school career running cross country and track. When I started college, I was through!

My friend Robin bought her horse Ryleigh and I started going out to the barn with her. There was this one horse at the barn . . . she was super annoying, always kicking her stall door and everyone was always yelling at her to stop. She was a pony and she could barely be seen over the stall door. I couldn't stand her! I was told she was like a cross between a Shetland pony and a Budweiser horse. She was pushy, loud, fat, nippy, and had this look on her face that I can't even describe. 

I continued going to this barn with Robin. Sometimes I got to ride Ryleigh for a bit, but Robin had her lessons so I did a lot of hanging out.  One day Robin's trainer asked if I wanted to ride a horse. Um, yes! And she proceeded to bring out the short, fat, annoying pony horse. I was not convinced that this was a good idea. 

She tacked this pony horse up and I crawled on. She gave me basic instructions on what to do and how to work this horse. Since she was a lesson horse, she knew the drill. But she also knew how to get out of the drill. . .

This horse was Mia. No, it wasn't love at first sight, it wasn't even like at first sight. But it seems that all the animals I fall in love with it takes me a while to really warm up to them. 
What can I say. . .Mia grew on me. I would ride her every time I went to the barn. I bought Mia her own grooming supplies. I brought her apples and carrots every time I saw her. And I rode! 

Typical Haflinger that she was, Mia did give me my fair share of grief. She refused to trot without a crop in hand. I didn't have to use it, she just had to know I had it. She would break out of cross ties (multiple times) to make a run for the grass. She would almost break fences to get to grass. She would decide on certain days that she would not stand by the mounting block and make a 15 minute game of it. Mia's top speed, unless it otherwise suited her, was a crawl. 

Mia often chose to go where she wanted and since I was a beginner, I had limited steering especially at the trot. So we would trot up and down the center line of the arena and I would say were were practicing our 100 yard dash. I rode Mia down the rode (where she chased a van and produced a fancy unasked for dressage move) and I rode her in the outdoor arena by myself.  I rode her bareback, sometimes just to give my knees a break (she was so round they would hurt after riding!). Fat Mia was so comfortable bareback. But she also knew I had even less control. More than once Mia walked us right out of the arena and into the grain stall. She was a Haflinger with only food on her mind!

Mia was bombproof. She was amazing. She was funny. She would nicker when she saw me. When Robin decided it was time for her to move to a new barn, I offered to buy Mia so I could take her with me. Obviously, I was turned down. And then I was sad. But my mind was made up. I was bit by the Haflinger bug! That was the only horse I would even look at when looking for my own. And I really wanted a mare. 
Mia did not like Jolly Ranchers!
Tadaaa! I got Shyloh! And although I haven't been able to ride her like I rode Mia, we have had our own journey and it has been fun. Hard at times, but fun. I wouldn't trade it for 1000 Mias!

How did you get into your breed of horse? Or the horse you now own? Will that be your next horse, too? I think it's only Haflingers for me!

Monday, January 14, 2013

monday musings by shyloh #71

Allie caught me. . . 
Far away. . .can you see?
Closer. . .Lukas turned gray. . .
Closer. . .see my guard horses. . .
Hey there!
I had found a pretty dry area to lay on and had decided on a nap. I had Zanna and Shay standing watch for me, so I was pretty safe.

Then Allie came. But I was comfy, so I decided not to move. I let Allie come up to me and snuggle with me for a bit. The look on her face was priceless. She kept saying something about a dream come true. . .I swear she is so weird. That's why I tend not to do things like this.

Then Lukas came to check us out. He knows that Allie usually has treats on her. 
Me and Lukas, before the attack!
Once Lukas started biting my neck, I had to get up cause it hurt! Allie brought me out and cleaned me up for our visitors.

I don't like to be dirty and this is about as dirty as I got!
I am loving this warmer weather, aside from the mud. I think basking in the sun with my herd is my new favorite!


Sunday, January 13, 2013

ants in the pony pants

I am so glad that I woke up early and decided to go to the barn. The weather report stated rain rain rain, but a break between 10am and 2pm. I got home from the barn at 11:30 and it was raining. But it was rain free while I was at the barn!

I took Shyloh's tail out of the wrap, brushed it, braided it, then wrapped it back up in pink vet wrap. Too many people thought she was a boy. . .
pretty tail
Then we got to work. Sometimes I wish I did not have a horse who thought for herself so much. It makes everything much more challenging. For example, if we are in an arena coming up on a corner. She sees the wall and knows she doesn't want to walk into it, so she makes the decision to turn. I might want to to get closer to the wall before I ask for the turn and then we have an argument on our hands. Or when she decides it is time for her to be done working. Or she wants to go back to the herd and I have to fight her. Or today, when I got the shafts out. Shy was completely fine with them, but didn't want to be touch. There was no scary eyes or anything, just stepping away. But after her harness was on and I put the shafts in the tugs, she had no problem with it. 

And Shy tends to use her brain when she gets more comfortable with what we are doing. Like now. . .she is quite comfortable with pretty much any type of line driving I throw at her. Lately, she has been having ants in her pony pants! She won't stand! When we were dragging things, she would turn. Now that I added the shafts, she fans left and right. Shy wants to go go go!

Is she that excited to be working. . .probably not. . .What is her deal?

Shy used to stop and stand like a champ. I could stop and talk to people for 10-15 minutes and she would stand perfectly, which a leg cocked. What happened to that? And how do I fix it? I am open to suggestions!

We finally got a short stand, but if I have a cart hooked to her, I need to to stop and stand until I tell her to go, not when she wants to go. 

And, sassy pony knows exactly what she is doing. When I line drove her back to the outside tack area, told her to whoa and stand, she didn't move a muscle. Argh! We have more work to do. . .Oh, and I used the crop today! Works like a charm!

Saturday, January 12, 2013


I had a working plan when I got to the barn. I even brought out all the stuff. . .harness, PVC shafts, bungee cords, but instead we had visitors!
Had to be super cute for visitors!
I love it when people come to visit Shyloh. It is good for her. My sister in law, Jenny and my nephew Alex came up to the barn with Mike. It is so funny to me that Jenny thought Shy was big! Alex was a little scared of her at first, but after feeding her a few treats, he warmed up to her.
Shy likes fries!
She was so careful to use only lips and not teeth
Looks like she ate Alex's hand!
Cutie pies!
Shy was on her very best behavior. She was so gentle with Alex. She even preformed a few tricks for him.
I asked Alex if he wanted to sit on Shy. He was a little afraid and wanted his mom to do it first. I got a bucket so she could get up, but Shy was not being cooperative. So, I said not to push it, Shy is not feeling down with that today.

I took Jenny, Alex, and Mike around the barn to see some actual big horses.
Buddy is a big boy!
Then we went into Shy's pasture to meet her herd mates. All the horses were so good for us. It is almost like they knew they had a little one around and had to be careful. They were very interested in Alex, too. Most of them came up and sniffed Alex's head. 
Alex giving Tony kisses!
Mike and Tony. Mike loves this donkey!
Jessie and Alex, Rainy Day sunning in the back
Lukas and Jessie checking Alex out
We came back to Shy and I could not believe what happened next. Shy nosed the bucket and stepped beside it. . .I kid you not! It is entirely possible that I read way too much into this, but it seemed like Shy was trying to say it's okay. . .you can climb on me now. I told Jenny to step up on the bucket, fully anticipating that Shy would step away like she always does. She didn't! Jenny clumsily (sorrry Jenny, but it is hard to mount a horse if you have never done it before!) climbed up. Shy stood perfectly, but kept her ears back on Jenny! Of course, I was standing right there with Shy and had the lead rope. 
I promise those are not mad ears!
Then Alex felt comfortable getting on Shy. Mike lifted him up and I told him not to squeeze his legs.
She looks angry. . .she is not. Just trying to see what they want from her.
Mike took Alex down and Jenny tried to figure out how to get off Shy. Shy did not move a muscle. Then Mike lifted Alex up on Shy by himself. I held on to Alex's back, just to be safe.  Shy was such a good girl!
Since we did all this new stuff and Shy was awesome, I decided not to work her. I took her to graze for a minute. When we walked through puddles, she did something I had never seen her do. When she couldn't see to the bottom of the puddle, she stuck her nose it it before she would step in it. She was never afraid to step in the puddle, but I think she was trying to gauge how deep they were! Afterwards, I put her back with her buddies. I am so happy with how good my pony was today!

Friday, January 11, 2013

winter, where are you?

Where has winter gone? The deluge of rain has melted all the snow, along with the 50-60F temperatures. What is going on?

Now that me and Shyloh were having a ton of fun in the snow, it's gone. Sad face. In the place of snow, we have mud. Tons and tons of nasty mud. 
Ewww. . .mud.
Since our fun had melted, I decided to tackle the whoa, then turn around problem we have been having. With a cart attached, Shy won't be able to bend around like she does, but it is not safe for her to continue to get tangled in long lines, traces, and tires. 

I was expecting a super muddy and wet pony when I got to the barn, but I was pleasantly surprised with an incredibly clean and dry pony. Not that I am complaining or anything, but I have the cleanest horse around! She doesn't lay in mud and tried to avoid it as much as she can. I even had sandy evidence that she rolled to dry off after the rain ended. Good pony.

I took Shy into the indoor arena to give her hooves some dry ground. I also gathered all her tack and grooming supplies to bring in there. These natural showers keep Shy really clean. Last winter, she was a dusty dirty mess. This year, her mane is really clean and she is not dusty at all. By the time I got done grooming her, another person came to use the arena so I had to keep Shy on her lead rope.

I tacked her up and went to put her crupper on, she scooted out from me. What? This went on our whole session. . .Shy was really jumpy. I had quite a few incidents of the quick feet. I could give a million reasons (we never work in the arena, it's dark in there, there was another horse being ridden. . .), but I really think she probably did not want to work after being rained on all night and most of the day.

The session started out rough. First, holding two long lines plus a whip plus a horse that does not want to stand still. But I kept at it, did lots of circles, and soon I had control. Shy's steering was spot on but she was still giving me trouble with "stand." We practiced a ton and I worked on telling her to walk on before she decided to do it on her own. I also worked on her moving her front and rear independently to get back in line with me when she moved over. With lots of praise, at the end of the session, I had a decent stand. 

While this session was not as great as the past few weeks sessions, it is to be expected, right?  Got to take the good with the not so good. 

Photo I forgot to post from sledding. Shy is cute sticking her tongue out

Monday, January 7, 2013

monday musings by shyloh #70

I guess the two leggers have made a new sport out of me. . .horse sledding. I tried to get out of it by pretending to be afraid of the sled, but I quickly realized that Allie doesn't fall for that anymore. Crap.

Allie had her friend, Anna, come out to give me a test spin. Allie put a lunge line on me, just in case. . . But it wasn't needed at all!

I was real good. Then Allie got on the sled. 

This was her first time! We trotted around a lot and I was super good for Allie. 

Next, Allie had a new lady I never met try sledding. We went round and round.

 I was doing so good, Allie let go of my safety lunge line and let the lady go by herself! 

I do have to admit, I was having fun. In fact, I rather enjoyed myself.  Allie just needs to get a more durable sled. . .And this sled left her with a wet butt! Haha!

So anyone else want to come horse sledding?