Monday, September 29, 2014

fall drive 2014

Yesterday was the annual fall drive. Last year we went and raced the minis. This year, rode with Beth and Art and got to help harness and hook a six horse hitch of Haflingers. It was pretty awesome!

The Haflinger hitches started a Haflinger and Hitch Pony Championship Series this year from all the shows they have been doing. There are four hitches that made it to the finals: Brugger's Other Farm, Second Star Haflingers, Triple F Farms, and Stream-n-Acres. They will be at the Michigan Great Lakes International Draft Horse Show in October, which of course, I will be going. 

One of the hitches came to our drive to practice with their six. Which also meant that their gelding that I really liked was there!
It was fun and a little bit scary to help with the hitch process. Holding two horses is cool, heading four horses is okay, but six is a bit overwhelming for me! Luckily, these are some well behaved horses. 
2. . .Beth got to hold the lines and keep them straight/ 
4. . .
All 6!
It was a beautiful day for a drive. Beth set out behind the hitch and Art seemed to be having wonderful flashbacks from his days in a hitch. He wanted to be right up there with those horses and was trucking along at a pretty swift pace. Art also likes to be in front. 
When we caught up, Art practically wanted to climb in the back of the hitch wagon!
The bridge

When we turned around, the hitch was behind us. Art was happy as could be being out in front. And when he heard that hitch trotting up behind him, he lifted his like he was the lead horse. He definitely remembered being in a hitch! 
Woody and Willy. Brothers. One with an itchy face, one with an itchy butt!
It was a good day for us, until I drove home. Then my car decided to act like a jerk and break down on the freeway. It is getting fixed now. So grateful for good friends!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

everybody works

Shyloh has gotten hip to the whole Lily riding her thing. She is past the phase of, Oh, I'll just tote Lily around and be cool with that
Coming in from the pasture
Shy has realized that Lily is practicing on her. To Shy this means that if she is going to work, so is Lily. And Shy is a stickler for her rules (like walking right at her shoulder), so she made Lily ask her correctly to get her to do stuff.

I would not have called Shy bad in any sense of the word. Challenging is more accurate. She remained her calm self, but preferred that Lily use both leg and rein cues to get her out of her sticky spots. Lily is not used to Shy testing her, which caused Lily to be frustrated. But they got through their cones exercises. And all was good. Shy got her apple from the kids and was happy.

Shy still toted Tommy around without an issue. He did want to trot and kept asking. And asking. Both kids always ask to trot. Makes me so glad they know nothing about cantering! 

Even if Shy has decided to make Lily work now, she is still so good for the kids. Her patience is just amazing. I watched the kids pick up Shy's hooves to pick them, she held each one up for them as they worked each hoof and talked about seeing the frog. Have I said before that this makes my heart smile?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

conversations with shyloh

Sometimes I wish everyone (anyone?) who reads this could meet Shyloh. She really is quite the character. Her face is quite expressive and it is easy to anthropomorphize how she is feeling by the looks she gives.
Excuse her lack of a forelock. . .burrs are ripping it out.
I have mentioned before how she has thought of certain classes that she shows in, either by giving the judges nasty looks (and them commenting on it) or by outright falling asleep. If she is bored, she yawns, over and over again. If she is annoyed, she has a super irritated side eye look. If she is scared, her eyes get big. If I am having a conversation where I am laughing, she smiles. I do not ask her to do any of this.  You can totally tell when she is concentrating on a task. And when she refuses to do something, you can tell the second she decided that if she is asked one more time, she will do it.

She is not herd bound, but when out and she sees her "buddies", she will give them a greeting nicker. She doesn't "talk" much, but the babies did have her calling out at the last show. She is a very independent horse and she is not afraid to let me know it. But at the same time, I can tell when she looks to me for leadership in a scary situation or a new situation that she is unsure of. She is not the horse that will come up to a stranger willingly, she keeps her distance. Or she might flat out run away if a person she didn't know or like approached her, tossing her head the whole time.

Anyway, earlier this week I was told that Shy wasn't going into the front pen for her grain. My stance on grain is that Shy doesn't need it. However, in this pasture situation, there is nothing I can do because they feed the horses as a group. I was told that Shy runs from the feeders and they have to try and catch her to get in her with the other horses. And I guess there was one time when she ran into the Gator, knocked the grain bucket over, and had herself a feast. I let the feeders know that if this is the case, don't try and force her into the front pen for grain. She is clearly not starving and if they leave her alone, she will either figure it out for herself or not. No big deal. The hay is given in the big pasture, so she wold still be getting hay.

So, like any completely sane person, I asked Shy about her behaviors. This was her response:

I asked her about the Gator incident. This was her response:

I mean, really? She has no idea what I am saying, but she does this. How can you not laugh when she gives such silly responses, almost like she knows and is laughing about it? There were no treats present, there was no food, and there was no ask for the smile. She does it all on her own. She is just so funny and exactly what I need after a long day at work. I am very grateful to have her in my life.

Also. . .I did ask the feeding lady to leave Shy's food out if we were working. She agreed. So that piece of drama is cut out, hopefully.

Anyone else have a horse with a lot of expressions?

Monday, September 22, 2014

on their own

Tommy and Lily and Alison came out this weekend to ride the ponies. It was such a nice day out at the barn. 

First I wanted to show the kids how to line drive. Let's just say, I am not cut out for instruction. And Shyloh was not being overly cooperative for the kids. Not bad, the kids did have a bit of trouble figuring out how to walk and control Shy and Shy took advantage of it. I set up cones for them to weave through and Shy was like, straight line? Ok! 
Looking not too bad here. . .
Maybe they are still a bit too young and maybe I don't have the patience, but we didn't stick with that long. 

On to riding! The kids took turns riding Shy. First Tommy, then Lily, then Tommy again, then Lily again. They rode for a few hours and Shy toted them around like a champ. 

They can both ride off the lead line now and steer and stop Shy pretty easily. Tommy still needs to stay on the lead in a larger area, but he sure doesn't want to be on it. He even trotted and almost fell off the other side, I had to grab his leg to hold him in the saddle, but he didn't care. He just wants to do whatever Lily does.
Lil' Cowboy!
On their own!
Not sure why this is the lowest the stirrups go on the youth saddle
Lily is doing incredibly well. She is able to steer Shy with ease through cones, around cones, in small circles off the lead line. She did get upset at one point when Shy wasn't doing what she wanted, but she wasn't asking correctly. But Lily overcame that. 
Working that cone!
So far away! 
On their own
I just love seeing how calm Shy is with the kids. She focuses on them and what they are asking (and a little bit with what she wants to do), but doesn't let anything scare her. Lily's head was brushing on some low hanging branches and Shy did not react at all. That is usually cause for a quick scoot forward. It is so great to watch them together and they are doing it on their own. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

obstacles for shyloh and me

After a few more sessions of line driving with Shyloh and she was ready for the kids to try with her. 
Mustache tail
Some obstacles Shy encountered:
Shy met Stella, a Jeep with a plow attached, and was instantly suspicious of her. Where did she come from and why was she there? Shy's reaction was to stop and stare, but I eventually got her moving toward Stella and around her in both directions. Shy kept giving her the hairy eyeball but listened to me and kept a slow, steady forward motion. 
Oh Stella, why u so scary?
The next obstacle we faced was walking through the barns. There are shadows and horses in stalls and other things that were going to "get" Shy. Again, her response was to stop and look. I let her think about it and decide what she wanted to do before asking her to walk on. She would walk a couple steps, stop, then walk a couple more. But after a few times going through in each direction and Shy was able to walk through without stopping. Shy really seems more calm and comfortable in the open bridle. 
So much to look at!
An obstacle I encountered:
I have been doing our line driving after work. It is always a rush to get to the barn, tack up, and get to working before feeding time. With Shy being in a pasture and herd situation, she can't miss feeding time or she won't eat. Normally, this is not an issue. If the feeders see me working with her, they will feed last to give me time. There is also the option of leaving Shy's feed out for her so I can give it to her on her own.
Always a hungry pony
However. . .there is this one lady who feeds who still harbors resentment at Shy and me from the last time we boarded there. Shy kicked her horse square in the vagina and the lady was pissed at us and anyone who thought it was kinda funny. It's not like I can control my horse's actions in the pasture or that I told Shy to do that. And it was over a year ago! Get over it! Anyway, she was us working and fed the pasture horses first and didn't leave Shy's hay out, so we had to cut our session short. Pretty crappy, right?
Totally okay with short work sessions
But, since I am disinclined to participate in barn drama, I just ended our session and put Shy back with the herd. One, it is not like Shy is starving by any means, and two, they have pasture to graze upon all day.  Oh boarding again. . .any one else have any silly/dramatic boarding situations?
It's not the lushest grass (which is good for us) but Shy has access to it 24/7.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

back at it

Yesterday I started line driving Shyloh again. I want to get her really solid at it so the kids can line drive her at the Plow Days event in November. 

Given our past experiences (line driving has never been an issue, just things with wheels), I opted for an open bridle. I had also discussed this with Beth in the past as a possible option for Shy. 

So, I grabbed a bridle, a surcingle, and a pair of long lines and got to work. I wanted to use her French link snaffle bit instead of the driving bit to start and I didn't want to change bits out on the bridles I currently use. I had a hunt bridle that I picked up at a tack swap a while ago for no particular reason, so I cleaned it up (I had a spray bottle of Absorbine One Step Spray Leather Cleaner and Conditioner, which I do not recommend, by the way) and used that. 
Seriously cute!
Shy was ready to go! It was like we never even stopped any driving practice for a year. She remembered gee and haw, she responded nicely to my cues, and she was calm. I think the open bridle concept may have been a part of the calmness. I did have the ever present issue of her not wanted to stand still, but she had improved on that. 
Butt butt
There was one spook, but it was a justified spook. We were going down a pathway between a barn and a pasture. Someone just turned a hose on and Shy was right on top of it when it sputtered with water. She did a small jump. Then it sputtered again and she completely turned around. Not my favorite reaction, but better than bolting. The lady apologized and turned it off, but I told her to keep it on. We would get over this. Once Shy realized it was just water coming out of a hose and not a cobra on the attack, we kept moving and Shy never gave it another thought. 
Pony likes this bit, we got a foamy mouth!
We had one more sticky situation, and that is when we walked past the tacking area and Shy wanted to be done because they were feeding. I had to tell her, "If you put one hoof on that cement. . ." Luckily she didn't and we were able to walk past that area a few times without a fight. 

Overall, I am very pleased with my pony! I plan on getting a couple more good lines drives with her then having the kids practice. Maybe I will be able to drive her. . .maybe. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

baby fever

Shyloh has it. Bad.
Instant obsession
Two of the Gypsy babies and one yearling came to the show yesterday. Shy was enthralled! We were in Halter class and the mom was also in the class. The colt, Moon, came in the class to stay by mom. Shy saw him and stepped out of the line up to inspect him. I pulled her back, but she wanted to go to them. When they went around the line up to get back in line, Shy became very concerned that she could not see the colt. When she got her eyes back on him, she just stared. 
She says, he is mine and I shall call him baby. He must have liked her, too, because he kicked out at the other horses and not at her. 
And so began the giant distraction of the last show. Shy was very preoccupied with the babies. How could anyone not be? They are so so cute! And so well behaved. They took everything in stride. Even napped. 
Babies and Mommas
Most definitely not the reaction I thought Shy would have given with babies. Since she is so independent, I always figured she would be a terrible pony mom. Not that I would breed her. Although, I kinda want to now, but that is just seeing cute babies talking. Logically, not a good idea. 

Even though Shy, in her mind adopted Moon, she still had a great show. All of our trail in hand work had paid off, we placed first in the class! It was a well deserved placing, too. Shy really rocked that course and even performed a perfect off side side pass and backing in an L shape. She also placed third in Halter (with Reba getting Grand Champion) and fourth in Showmanship. 
Show pony!
Shy also performed as a lead line pony for Lily and Noah, since his pony did not come to the show. The kids had a little trouble keeping her attention (remember, she was trying to keep tabs on her baby), but they worked through it. Lily got a second place in their Showmanship class and a couple fifths. Noah got a fourth and a couple fifths. Not bad, considering Noah has had no practice with Shy and Lily's practice has been limited. 
Happy Lily. . .and Shy staring off looking for her baby. 
Noah and his ribbons. . .and Sh, again, staring at her baby. 
It was a fun and relaxing show. Everyone had a great time. Ponies were all good. Couldn't ask for anything more! More photos here.
Shy and Baby Cuillien. She squealed at her and she jumped up and ran to her mom. 
Shy and the yearling Ferdy. 
A match made in heaven. . .Shy napping during the line up and Lily doing Yoga?
Lily and Tommy
Reba taking Lily and Tommy for a ride between classes
Becky and Freckles
Regina and Beth with Art
10 classes makes for a tired, droopy lipped pony at the end of the day.

Friday, September 12, 2014

sleezy story

Once upon a time there was a show pony (I use that term loosely). Show pony loved to go to shows, mostly because they were in Ohio, which has the best grass she has ever tasted, and she gets to see other horses of her kind, and she gets to take naps in the sun during halter and showmanship class. 
Fall asleep during a class. . .never!
In order to get ready for a show, show pony must get cleaned up and bathed. This was probably the worst part of being a show pony.
Not a giant fan of this
But after the bath, there is usually grass to be eaten while drying off, which is just fine with show pony. 

Show pony has always lived outside, except for one year. So keeping her clean is a concern. She doesn't like to particularly get dirty and avoids mud for the most part, but she really enjoys rolling in sand and grinding that sand right into the bottom of her hairs. She also likes to travel the forest and collect burrs. And eat all the berries she can find.
Just a small portion of the burrs in the tail
Berry lips!
In order to help keep her clean overnight, show pony's mom got her a tail bag and a sleezy. If nothing else, at least her tail and mane will be clean, the rest is can be handled by a stiff brush. 
Clean pony
Show pony likes her sleezy. It makes her feel like a superhero with a secret alternate identity. She has great fun being goofy in her sleezy.
Sleezy smiles
Sleezy stretches
However, one horse in her herd, who normally really likes her, could not recognize show pony in her sleezy. He thought she was an intruder! And this horse would not let show pony anywhere near the front of the pasture. Every time she came close, he would run her off! She ran through the woods dodging the trees and branches to hide from the mean horse. 
Hiding, maybe a camo sleezy would be better suited for this?
But show pony was hungry and usually does not let much get between her and her food. So she would sneak through the woods where she was hiding and try to eat, but the horse would chase her at a full gallop, ears pinned. Over and over this happened. She would kick at the horse, but he would not let up. Not even when she got him good and left a hoof print right on his chest.  Finally, show pony just went to the back of the pasture, all by herself. Her beautiful super hero sleezy was all covered in burrs, she was sweating, and breathing heavy from all the running the mean horse made her do. 
See all the burrs!!
Her mom came out to rescue her, but even so, the mean horse tried to chase her away. Her mom got a stick to keep him away and took her out of the pasture to safety. She also grabbed some hay to satisfy show pony's rumbly belly. While she was eating, her mom took all the burrs of her sleezy and tail bag and legs. Then she took the sleezy off. 

After checking show pony over, her mom found a couple cuts on her, probably from branches in the woods as show pony was running away. One was pretty wide though, but show pony was brave and showed no pain. 
Mom doctored it up
The decision was made to keep the sleezy off, but show pony had to promise to stay clean and burr free (even though she has a record of not keeping such promises, but one can dream). Tomorrow is an early day for the last show of the year. And we plan on having lots of fun, even if show pony can't stay clean.