Monday, December 1, 2014

no stirrups, right?

Technically, I did No Stirrup November, since I didn't ride at all with a saddle. This will continue into January. 
Just sitting, and trying to keep her from eating grass. So she decided to try to eat the picnic table instead. 
I had another "reining" ride on Shyloh this weekend. She was spinning, spinning, spinning. The ride actually started out really well. Me and Terry on Reba walked out back and took a newly cleared path behind a mountain of dirt. Then we went off to the side of the property, where for some unknown reason there is a wagon that is stored in front of some empty stalls. Shy always gives this wagon the hairy eyeball and a wide berth. As if she were to walk close to it, it may just attach itself to her and she would have to pull it. 

We stopped to talk to some friends and this is were Shy got silly. She could see her "spot" and wanted to go there. I would turn her around and then around we would go again. Round and round, I was getting dizzy! And each circle brought us closer to her end point, where there was also a drop off of about a foot. So I got off, walked her back to our friends and got back on. Shy was fine with that for maybe 10 minutes, then she got bored and wanted to go back again. This time, it was a head tossing spin session. I was able to get her straightened out and still and not facing the coveted "spot". Then I hopped off and made her stand for a while. After a while, then we went to the spot. 
Incredibly smug look because she is happy to be at her spot.
Oh, and I made it through a scoot! And survived!
Chilling out on the pony while she eats
Ugh, her and that spot! But I do realize that it is my fault, it is where she gets tacked and untacked, gets fed, gets treats, gets groomed. And she can survey most of the comings and goings about the barn from that spot. But, being a pasture boarded horse, we do not have many options of places we can use, so it is just something I will have to fight Shy about. 

The day before, Beth came up from Ohio to visit. We went out to the barn and Beth got on Shy bareback and rode her for a minute in just her halter. Shy even trotted nicely for her! Of course, Shy decided she had to be extra silly all day, just because she can. It was a fun day.
Beth and Shy
And for a little belated Thanksgiving thanks, I am so thankful for Shyloh. She is just so much fun and has come so far. I can do things with her I never thought possible and she puts up with all of my craziness. I am also incredibly thankful for all my horse friends who have been there and encouraged me through some of our tougher times. I am also thankful for the support of blog land and those who continue to read (sparse at it may be now-a-days). It is reassuring to know there are others out there like me and the kind words and support have been amazing! Thank you!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

better rides

This week has given us snow, freezing rain, below zero temps, rain, and now 50 degree weather. Shyloh seems to not be fazed by any of it.

Me and Terry went out to the barn to take advantage of the nice weather before it plummets back down to below freezing later in the week. Shy continues to be a burr magnet and she is getting increasingly irritable at me pulling them out, especially by her ears. I keep telling her to stop sticking her head in burr patches, but it is like she doesn't understand (haha). 

Terry talked me into a ride today and I reluctantly agreed. I just wasn't feeling it, but I am glad I did it. I think Terry was regretting it though, since Reba cowkicked her, gave her a hard time with the bridle (tall horse/short person,easy to do), then was a butt for mounting. But, as usual, Reba was great for the actual ride part.

Shy has been doing excellent with her mounting, no issues in forever. I hopped right up and Shy was ready to go. She tried to do her spins like last time, but I think I was a bit more sure of myself and Shy gave up really easily. After that, Shy was a golden pony.

We led the whole ride! Shy was great. Relaxed, sure of herself, walking at a nice place, and listening to me great. All I had to do was turn my head and she went in the direction I wanted. We had such a good time and Shy really seemed to enjoy herself. 

After, Reba and Shy got their treats from Terry in the pasture. They are so cute when they mug her for the treats.

I am loving these bareback jaunts on Shy and I think she likes them, too. Maybe it will be time to brave the trails on the property soon. . .

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

year end awards

A couple weekends ago, we had the Northwest Driving Circuit Year End Awards party. This year we have away some really cool prizes which included harness boxes with engraved plaques, cart stands, belt buckles, NWODC clothing, and a bunch of other stuff. All the kids got sack packs with the logo on it, too.

Me and Shyloh got first place for Trail in Hand! I was super excited for this, it was something that we have worked very hard on. And, I think that is pretty good, since we missed the double judges show. We got a trail kit, which included cones and poles. I am excited about using that to practice more. Plus, Shy really likes doing this stuff and we can also work on it whole riding. Now, I need a bridge. . .

After the awards part, everyone partook in some bowling fun. I love this group of people that we show with. Every one has fun and encourages each other to do their best. I am looking forward to next years shows!

Also, my internet at home is spotty and the weather has plummented to below freezing in a matter of days. Shy's fuzz is keeping her super warm, but I do not have nearly as much fuzz as her, so posting may be sporadic for a while. 

Monday, November 10, 2014


I rode Shyloh again. And she was a brat. Actually, it was all rider error and mixed signals. . .but I will say that Shy took it pretty well, considering. 

Me and Terry wanted to take the horses on a bareback jaunt through the property. Shy had completely different plans, which mostly included spinning in circles and watching the racing horses gallop. Maybe she has secret dreams of becoming a Haflinger race horse?
Unfortunately, trolls cannot be race horses. 
We started out our ride going in a different direction than last week. Shy got constantly stuck in certain spots. One spot was the gate to the woods. I think she wanted to go in the woods, but I am not ready for that. I would turn her to go in the direction I wanted, to which she would comply, but then continue the turn all the way back around. 

Round and round in tight circles we went until I got dizzy and wanted to give up. I will admit, I was afraid that Shy would get scared of potential consequences until she just took off (it has happened before). But she didn't. In fact, she was completely calm and just very matter of factly kept spinning so she could face the direction she wanted. 

Terry kept pushing me to fix my self, fix my reins, make Shy listen. Shy was determined to not listen to me. So, Terry got on and of course Shy was perfect. Go to the back of the property without a fight? No problem. Trot the most comfortable, best trot ever? Sure! Although, Terry did almost slide off Shy when Shy performed her wiggle that had her front end turning one way and her back end going the other. But that is Shy's M.O. Perfect rides for new riders and old riders (if she hasn't been ridden in a while). The next ride is the testing ride, to see what she can get away with. 

I got back on and Shy was back to her old games. Spin, spin, spin. Fancy sideways moves. Spin. Go forward, slam on brakes, spin. Terry pointed out (correctly, I will add), that all of Shy's behaviors on this ride are my fault and she is totally pushing my buttons. Also, we were in a negative feedback loop. . . Shy spun, I got tense and locked up, she spun more, I got tense, more spinning. I need to loosen up. Shy was waiting for me to give up. And I was ready to, but Terry would not let me. 

Eventually, after much convincing on my part, I got Shy to the back of the property. Whew. Walking back to the front, we had such a lovely forward walk. I relaxed. But I did not let Shy go to the spot that she was seeking out, the tack up area. I stopped her way before that and got off, then walked her around a bit before we went there. 

After, I was frustrated with my inability to to relax and make her do what I wanted. I was frustrated with Shy for giving me such a hard time. But, I was also grateful that she remained calm and didn't become the ball of tenseness that she has become in situations like this in the past. And for that, I am relieved that she has come so far. Now I need to work on me. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014


I have no new updates. . .boring, right? More crappy, rainy weather has been happening. And now that it is almost dark by the time I get to the barn, it really sucks. 

Shyloh is preparing herself for winter by continuing to grow in fuzz. Lots of fuzz. Fuzz that still finds its way to burrs. Burrs that bury themselves in fuzz. It seems never ending. 

But Shy makes a really cute fuzzy pony. And more fuzz is yet to come. 

Fuzzy legs
Fuzzy ears
Fuzzy head, sad disappearing forelock
I've been reading about horses already being clipped and blankets being put on. . . and I am just not ready for winter. She does not get clipped or blanketed, she gets to be a hairy beast all winter. We don;t do nearly enough to warrant a clip and I am pretty sure I would be walking 15 acres looking for a torn up blanket if I went that route. Plus, she has plenty of shelter in the woods from the wind and rain and she has always been warm when I touch her in the winters. 

So, how fuzzy are your horses?

Monday, November 3, 2014


Since I have moved barns, I have been getting on Shyloh a lot more. We have been riding around bareback. 

First it started out with very short walks to one barn and back. We would go to say hi to the people there and then go back. Then we would go past the barn and go back. 
Mostly, this was because we were by ourselves and I didn't want to get into something I couldn't get out of and a lot of times it calms me to have another person with me. So short walks back and forth it was.

There was also a lot of sitting on Shy. Sitting while she ate, sitting while she stood and just hopping up and down. This really got Shy used to it and now her head doesn't fly up when someone gets on her. It is just another thing. 

While I have been sitting on her, I have been working on balance and doing silly things, like "flying" and moving around a lot. 
Stuck at the spot.
There was a time when I wanted Shy to walk around, but she didn't want to leave her spot. I later realized that I was looking at her ears (because I will be able to tell when Shy feels like being stupid by looking at her ears, right?). I corrected my head, which in turn corrected my position, and then Shy walked away from her spot. So easy. 

Just yesterday, we walked the big loop around the property and did a little side loop, too. Shy was amazing. I felt comfortable and the complete opposite of stiff. Shy listened beautifully and was perfectly happy following Reba along the paths. 
Back of the property!
Terry mentioned how much better my position and seat were when I was not in a saddle. I don't know why, but I feel so much more comfortable that way. Saddle or no saddle, I am thrilled to be out on my pony!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

no to wheels

Shyloh has been doing fantasically well in her open bridle line driving. Seriously, it has been awesome. I have even taught her to side pass from the long lines, not that it would ever be useful in a cart, but we like doing things like that. 
We also like taking braids out and having curly hair-do's!
The first couple attempts warranted evil glares back at me. She knew what I was asking, but she also knew her dinner was waiting. Shy gave me some very sad excuses for stepping sideways, which included a lot of forward motion.  Eventually, I was able to get some good side stepping out of her and Shy got her dinner. It is so hard to move both the front and back legs sideways at the same time (according to Shy)!

The next few tries went much, much better. I'll have to get some video. But there you have it for another useless skill!

Since she has been doing really great with the line drive again, we decided to give it a try while Terry was driving Reba. We figured, with the open bridle Shy should be much more relaxed.

Well. . .when I pulled her out of the pasture and she saw the cart, from a distance, she locked in on it and wouldn't move. I got her moving again, but she was doing her best to impersonate an Arab with her flared nostrils and short, quick breathing. We didn't even have to walk by the cart to get to our spot!

I helped get Terry and Reba hooked, then tacked Shy in her gear and away we went. Reba and Terry went out ahead of us and we waited for them to pass us near an opening. And Shy tried to turn around and get the hell out of dodge. Fail. 
She was able to look at it without spinning around by the fifth attempt.
I started walking behind Terry and Reba, Shy could handle that. But when I had them trot a lap and come up behind us at a walk, Shy wanted to take off again. This was not the light, easy, one handed line driving I had grown accustomed to. . .this was a two hand-er, pulling back to keep my horse from taking off. Fail again.

I tried having Terry and Reba stand on one spot while we passed them. Again, this was a two handed operation while also not letting Shy circle out 20 feet from the cart. Fail.
This was the only acceptable way to be around the cart, even so, she still had one ear on it and one ear on me.

My conclusion is that Shy hates carts and things with wheels. Beth told me not to give up quite yet, so I might give it a few more tries to see if she relaxes at all. I also plan on trying a sled again, since I had much better luck with that the one year. Sleds do not have wheels, so they must be okay, right?

I admit, I was a little disappointed. With as great as Shy had been doing, I thought she should have been able to handle the cart better, especially since she could see it and it was not attached to her. It wasn't totally terrible, but I really thought it could have been much better. Am I expecting too much? Ponies. . .

Monday, October 27, 2014

mgli 2014

Last weekend was the Michigan Great Lakes International Draft Horse Show and Pull. I think I mentioned earlier that it was the first year that the Haflingers were there and they were doing their Haflinger and Hitch Pony Championship Series. The top four hitches that competed at qualifying events and had the highest points were driving against each other. So, of course I had to go watch!

Going to MGLI is always a fun time. We get to see the big hitch horses, all different kinds of hitches, baby horses, pulling horses, and do a little shopping.

Aside from the Haflingers, the coolest part was the farm team obstacle. 

I took a couple videos and some photos, so enjoy!

He had "googles" around each eye.

Haflinger line up

My Woody!


Thursday, October 23, 2014


I am realizing that the weather seems to be affecting my moods more and more every year. For the past two weeks, it has been cloudy, damp, rainy, and just crappy out. I have had to drag myself to the barn. Once I am there, I feel better, but getting there is a struggle. I thought I was having a rough September, but it spilled into October and I foresee November not being any better. But such is life. 

I went to the barn over the weekend and as soon as I grabbed all my stuff, it started to rain. So I put it all away and went to chill with Shyloh under the trees. Once again, she was covered in burrs, so I de-burred her. She had some on her ears, which she was not happy about. I actually had to put her in a hold to get them out, which resulted in a pissed off pony and me being shook about. 

But yesterday, the sun came out! And it was glorious. It was just what I needed. I love the ritual of being with my pony. Pulling up to the barn, getting my grooming supplies out of my locker, putting them in our area, then going to get Shy is so simple, yet so comforting. Once I get her, we walk side by side to our area where I give Shy her food and start the grooming process. I de-burr, brush brush brush, and pick feet. By this time, I have forgotten all my troubles and I feel like a new person. And Shy is just so perfect for me. 

Then I tack Shy up. I love that she makes everything so easy for me. She never fights tack and stands beautifully. Yesterday, since it was so nice out, I decided to line drive her through the woods. Maybe we would run into some turkeys to chase. 

It was the most wonderful line drive ever. We shuffled through the woods, crunching the leaves under our feet and walking over branches. 

Shy had a beautiful forward walk. She was not bothered by the noises of the leaves or the branches touching her. Sometimes, we didn't even see the sticks on the ground until they were stepped on, snapped, or rolled upward to touch legs or belly. Shy didn't bat an eye at this. I think we may have unlocked the key with an open bridle. 

I was thinking while we were line driving how awesome it would be if Shy (and myself) were this calm and collected with a cart and how much fun we would have. Maybe one day we can revisit this. 

I hope the sun can stay out. It doesn't have to be warm, just not cloudy. Also, my pony is incredibly fat. Ugh!She doesn't even eat that much! I think we need to add more work to our ritual. I like a chunky horse going into winter, but this is getting out of control. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

muddin' and lungin'

It has been rainy here. Rainy and muddy and just gross. One day, there was a break in the drizzle, so I went to visit with Shyloh.  I got to the barn and bonus!, they had already fed and the horses were finishing the last of the hay. I thought, maybe we would do some fun clicker stuff that we haven't done in a long time or maybe we would line drive. 

Shy had other plans. I guess she felt like running because she played a mean game of "catch me if you can". We ran through the mud, we ran through the trees. She would let me get so close, then off she would go. My Air Ariats (named so for the "air vents" in both sides of both boots where the plastic toe piece meets the leather) collected mud as it seeped through the holes. Yuck.
She makes up her own paths
Shy has not played this game in forever, so I was not prepared with a peppermint. The mere crinkle of the wrapper will stop her in her tracks. I tried many methods, even scooping up hay remains and trying to feed them to her. It was a no-go. 

The more she evaded, the madder I got. She wanted to run? Run we would. . .as soon as I caught her. Eventually, after chasing her out back and through the woods, she stopped and I caught her. Shy then did her walk of shame back up front where I promptly de-burred her and put on her lunging tack.
Thirsty? From 40 minutes of evasion? No. . .Too thirsty to continue any further? No. . .
Oh yes. . .we were going to run. I was even more pissed because I hate lunging. It is boring. And there is no round pen at the barn, so I couldn't even free lunge.

We trotted and trotted some more. I did spiral circles, big to little to big again. I had her do walk/trot transitions. A little cantering (so hard for her, even harder for me to get her into it!).  Then we reversed and repeated. 

A few reverses later and I had a slightly sweaty, very huffy puffy, fat pony. Guess who wasn't trying to play that game with me anymore and did perfect ground ties?

I decided that since Shy was warm, I would stretch her out. She loves her stretches! But even those weren't enough to keep her not pissy. I hope she decides it is not worth playing that game next time I go out. Plus, I don't want to lunge again.
Haha. Gotta laugh at pony, still mad after the lunge.