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.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

what's in a name blog hop

Hand Gallop asks us, What's in a name?
Shyloh didn't really come with a name. In fact, she went about a week without one since she was dropped off at the barn. 
First day at the barn!
During that time, I got to know her. . . as much as she tried to avoid it. She refused to be caught, taking upwards of two hours and six people, she was head shy, jumpy, and had no real interest in people taking an interest in her. She actually went out of her way to steer clear of human contact.

So I spent some time thinking about a name for her, employed some friends to do the same thing. Then I spent the weekend at my dad's house. While I was there, we were throwing a bunch of names around and one name kept coming back. . .Shiloh or Shyloh or Chyloh.
That hair!
I decided to go with Shyloh, obviously. It fit her. And she completely ignored it. Even to this day, she may look up when I call her name, but usually grass or standing or anything is better than running towards me. 

Later, after tracking down the few weeks after she came from the auction and before she came to me, I discovered that she was called Ginger and Pumpkin. Anything before the auction, I cannot find. I have no clue if she is registered, but I highly doubt it. I have no clue what farm she was born on, if she spent her whole life in Michigan or not, who her sire or dam are, siblings, nothing. 
Her hair sure holds that curl from braids!
That doesn't really matter to me. Shy is mine. But I think it would be cool to know, to have a history. And if Shy ever got a show or registered name, it would be Miss Sassy Shyloh Templeton.

The name still fits her, even though her goofyness has really surfaced. She is shy around new people. She takes a while to warm up. But when she decides a person is okay, she is hilarious. I love it.

Friday, October 10, 2014

finally friday

This week seemed to have an extra day added in for some reason. It just drug on and on. So it was quite the treat to have an amazingly well behaved pony when we worked today.  

But let's back up a little. . .

Last weekend, Whitney Houston was brutally murdered by a raccoon. She went missing in the morning and was found after work. Not going to lie, I am still a little sad about this. She was just getting to be super friendly, laying eggs every day, and being such a talker! Terry decided to give her chicken away so she wouldn't meet the same fate, but overnight she was unfortunately taken as well. We have decided to not get new chickens with winter coming, but to start anew in spring. And work on redesigning the chicken coop. 

Oh, then my car broke down on the way home from Ohio and I had to get that fixed, after being stranded on the side of the freeway for hours. 

One of the most frustrating things about the place where I board is feeding time. They like to feed right when I get there from work. I have two options, either wait until Shyloh is done eating with the herd before we do any work or take her food, work her, then wait for her to eat it on her own before turning her back out with the herd. Either way, I am waiting. 

So, today I waited patiently, while picking burrs off of her. I did these amazing braids earlier in the week. . .

And they actually work!  Even if they look worse as each day goes by they still keep the burrs out! I can hold off on the roaching for now (evil grin).

Shy did have a couple burrs on her forelock, but nothing like the previous mess. The hard part is finding and picking the burrs out of her ever growing body hair. And her ears. Shy hates her ears touched. This caused a bit of commotion when I was trying to maximize my time with her as I tried to pick them off her swinging head as she ran and tried to eat at the same time.  (And I have the nerve to call others crazy!)

After that fiasco, I tacked Shy up in her line driving gear and went for a spin around the barn. I could not have asked for a better horse (except that she ever be that good with a cart attached!). I was able to line driving using only one hand and a loose line. She responded to the slightest movement. Nothing bothered her today as we went around the property and through the woods. And we even worked on minute movements, stepping "gee" and "haw" one step at a time. It was wondrous! Stopping and standing was great and she did not give me any trouble going past the tack/untack spot, where we usually have a fight. 

That was some much needed work time spent with the pony and she got some carrots for her good work. I say this a lot, but maybe there is hope for Shy yet!
Or not. . .

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

boarding sacrifices

For those of us that board horses, what sacrifices are you willing to make?

What I mean by this is each barn is different and offers different amenities. The first barn I boarded at had a beautiful, large, well lit indoor arena. The pastures were huge with grass and nice fencing. There was a custom feeding program and good hay provided. The stalls were large with nice bedding. The owner did training rides and gave me lessons. 
Cooper, my dog, and Shy in the large arena.
But turn out was not a guarantee. . .like, if there was a 10% chance of rain or it was too cold, the horses stayed inside. So sometimes, they would be inside for days and even though I said I wanted Shyloh out pretty much no matter what, she stayed in unless I came to put her out.  And sometimes the horses didn't get fed until noon. . .for their morning feed! Or midnight for their evening feed. Things would remain broken for periods of time before being fixed and there was a lot of clutter. 
So, I left for a place that had more of that I wanted. Pasture board on 15 acres with trees and fields with varied footing in a herd situation. This barn has a large outdoor arena, an indoor arena, and access to trails. It is well maintained, anything that needed work or was broken was fixed immediately. Feeding is consistent. The owner keeps an eye on the pasture horses to make sure no one is dropping weight and if so makes accommodations. And the water troughs are always full and clean. 
So much woods for a woodland pony!
But this place has fencing I don't care for, not that it matters to Shy. She doesn't wear a halter in the pasture and it is so big she doesn't stay around the fences. And the fences are tall so Shy can't get hurt on them. Pasture maintenance isn't great (Burrs) and the feeding is not custom. For Shy, this doesn't matter. She is clearly doing fine with what she is getting. And although I would prefer her to be pulled out to be fed her supplements and not barn grain, they will not do that. But it is a sacrifice I am willing to make. I can feed the supplements (which is just a vitamin and mineral pellet) and Shy can get the barn grain, even though I am not a fan of grain. There is also no trainer, which is okay for me, for now. If I could afford lessons, I could bring an insured person in or haul out. We will revisit this in the spring when I am in a better situation.
I am sobbing over that forelock that Shy no longer has. Sobbing!
My friend's private barn that I took Shy to was great for being able to control Shy's food. She was out all day, she had great hay, and was very well taken care of. There was a set of eyes on her all the time and I got photos all the time of things that Shy was doing. But the paddocks were small and has no shelter and there was no riding area (except for a round pen, which got taken down) that I felt safe practicing riding. I also spent more time helping with the barn that with my horse, which was okay sometimes, since I like barn work. The main problem with this barn was the distance from home and work. It got to the point where I was spending much more time driving there and back than with my horse. 
She did love her afternoon naps in the plentiful hay and sunshine, though. 
In my perfect horse world, I would have acres for Shy to roam on with nice grass (but not too nice), trees, shelter, and nice fencing. I would have an enclosed place to practice, an indoor arena would be great, especially for winter. I would have all the trail equipment to practice on that I could think of along with trail access (for that elusive day when we start trail riding). Shy would get no grain but be fed her supplements every day and have quality grass hay. I would have a barn so if I needed to bring her inside for care, I could. And there would be no crazy. None. Also, more Halfingers. In my perfect horse world. 
And now we have this sad excuse for a Haflinger forelock. I am still crying!
Everyone wants and needs something different for their horse. I don't have a competition horse or anything fancy. So for me, the most important things are a big area for Shy to be a horse and good feed. I think for the large area that Shy has, I sacrifice a bit on the feed. Am I thrilled about it? No. Is Shy doing just fine with this arrangement? Yes. So it is okay as long as she continues to do well.
And as long as the draft doesn't run her off her food. . .
In my area, there is not a lot of choice. It is mostly stall boarding with turnout in small paddocks. Getting the acreage I have for Shy can't be found anywhere else in the area. Or at least, I haven't found it yet. 
She continues to be a goof. A forelock-less goof.
What type of sacrifices do you make in your situation? Or are there perfect barns actually out there?

Sunday, October 5, 2014


Burrs. . . I hate them. But Shyloh seems to love them. She is a burr magnet. 

Perhaps this is why. . .
Or this. . .

Ugh! All I know is that I spend the better part of our time together picking out burrs. Big burrs in her tail and little bit of feather. Teeny tiny burrs on her legs, stomach, sides, neck, chest, ears, under her chin, and nose. Clusters of burrs in her mane and forelock. And those tiny burrs, yeah, they are about the same size as ticks. 
I think she sleeps in them!
I don't even know how she gets them here.
Not only are the burrs everywhere, but they have become partially hidden by her hair as Shy begins to turn into a woolly mammoth for winter. So I have to untangle and pull the burrs out of her hair. It doesn't look like much, but they are small and have to be pulled one at a time. Luckily, Shy is very tolerant of the constant plucking of the burrs, except for the clumps by her ears.
Shy is totally okay with looking like a feral horse.
Shy's forelock has about three strands of long hair left, the rest is a fluff from being pulled out by the burrs. It is a sad, sad forelock for a Haflinger. Her mane is a twist of nastiness. And the tail. . .the tail that collects the large burrs, which then clump together and intertwine hairs and create a cluster of a mess is just awful. I cannot wait for the bugs to go away so I can put that tail up for winter.
More ugh!
So sad!
So many tiny burrs hidden throughout.
The burrs stick to her halter and to me. I have even found them in my hoodie pocket. 

But the mane and forelock. . . I am beginning to think it would be easier to roach and start over. Yes? No? Maybe so?

*All these photos where taken on different days.