Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Chester - Our Man

Hello All,

Chester, our normally calm, even tempered stallion is teaching me a lot about the birds and bees. I have been working with Chester on barrels we set up to show folks in Texas Curlies can barrel race like the big quarter horses with names like Dash for Cash and Zip.

So naturally, I try to keep him calm and focused while we walk around the barrels, then we slowly trot around the barrels, and after a few weeks we begin to lope around the barrels until....the girls start winking at our man.

Our Chester sees them from a distance and forgets everything we've learned. He hears one of the sweet neighs and he responds with flared nostrils and eyes as if his entire being depends on this sound. It is especially challenging if you are in the saddle and this engagement begins. He holds his tail high in the air and begins to move closer to the girls while I try to pull him back in the pattern with all my might. He actually does a nice little sidestep but I'm not asking for a sidestep.

Knowing that our Chester is a smart fella, I decided to do the most sensible thing.....I gave the girls a chance to graze in the back pasture where he could not see nor hear them while we practiced. We are again making our rounds around the barrels. Just hope no one brings a mare with a sweet voice and twinkle in eye to the barrel racing competition next month.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Caramel Sundae EB at our 4h fair

Here is my son and our pony (38 in) at our fair. He had a great time. It was a rough week, with my Curly "buck" (*Blue Clouds in My Coffee) my 3 yr old gelding getting tired of halter so he pawed and reared....but Jeffry held on and he settled down nicely. Then Thursday night he cast himself, thank god someone was watching the barn and they rolled him over and he got back up. The people whom helped him were just AMAZED how calm he was and accepting of their help. So while it was a bit stressful that week, we got nothing but comments on how neat he looked, what great shape, and all sorts of Curly questions, too bad the contest is in August Denise. So we will keep working with our "guys" and we should just get better and better. We love reading the other riders adventures! :-)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

30 Day Mini Contest for August - PROMOTION!

Hi Everyone!

I hope you are all having a great summer and meeting some of your personal goals for the RAC contest. Thanks to everyone who continue to share! It is the highlight of my day to visit this blog and see all your adventures and awesome photos!

Okay, on to the next Mini Contest! This is to spur you all to get your mouths going and start talking CURLY. This contest will help you to learn to look for opportunities to talk with those around you about the curly horse. You will get points for everytime you share something about the breed to someone AND bonus points if you share them here on this blog! (my little way of also getting some of you non-writers out of lurker-mode. ;-)

To prepare for this contest, be sure your RAC tshirt is washed and ready! Wear it as much as you can to encourage conversation with strangers or friends. Check local riding groups to join up with them in August to go on a group trail ride or find out about other activities in your area you can participate in to further promote the breed. County fairs are big this time of year. Write articles for local or national magazines or your local newspaper. There is so much you can do to get the word out and get points for doing so. If you have an idea, just email me!

Point system:
Taking your curly off your property and promoting: 20 points first day, 10 points for each additional day.
Inviting people to your property to promote: 15 points
Talking with a person about curlies: 5 points for every person you speak to about the breed.
Writing an article: 20 points
Sharing your story here on the blog: 5 points per post.

To download the contest form, visit http://curlyhorsecountry.com/RACforms.htm
See August contest form.

Any questions, please contact me: denise.conroy@gmail.com



Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Change of ride plans-- and our river crossing

Monday morning, as we were catching up our horses- Zoe suggested instead of the trot over the mountain into Grafton.. heading back over to the floodplains and dam area to do the water crossing would be more fun--- YES... I agree :)
I took so many pictures as the day was perfect and the views so beautiful.. you can see more of the ride on my farm blog .. but I'll post photo's of the highlights here. We had so much fun !

We trotted down the dirt roads into North Springfield and crossed over into the reservoir/dam area to start our trail ride.

Back there is where we came from.

The trail follows the river to our left.

And way up there just beyond that little river island is where we'll cross... if we can remember where the small path down the bank is-- it's been at least 10 years since we traveled this way.. back when we did competitive trail along here.

We have had soooo much rainfall all month, we were not sure what we would find for a water level.... doesn't seem too bad here.

We have to walk upstream a little bit to actually cross over to the other side.

Over there is where we want to be now.

I can't take any more photo's now as my horse is beginning to swim and the current here is quite strong.... neat feeling as Keri paddles against the river swiftness.

You can see the water line on Teasel's saddle pad..

This was so much fun, we spent some time swimming back and forth in the deep dark part of the river.

Our boots are full of water-- time to trot home. We pass the old Power Dam and get back on the trail on the other side of the river to trot home.

Such a great ride out we really are sad to head home, but on the trot back-- we were planning our next destination.
Enjoy your day ~

Monday, July 13, 2009

A barrel racing Curly?

Hello All,

I tried to upload a recent show ride from youtube but no luck so here is a link if your interested in watching Cinnamon River and I work on more patterns.


I am a member of IPHDA. IPHDA stands for International Professional Horse Development Association and I know the president Rod Miller. His goal is to allow horse owners to show how trained "broke" their horses are and compete with other owners and their horses. Since I wanted to show off my Curly horses to others without leaving my ranch (saving money and time) I decided to jump in the saddle. It is a great program and there are many wonderful riders and horses from all over the world who compete.

Well, I wanted to share this story ....my friend who is videoing us is a competitive barrel racer. Texas loves football and barrel racing. So I asked her to video Cinnamon River and I so I can submit the video to IPHDA and compete with other folks. Well, I am not much of a pattern reader....obviously - and I get easily confused on which pattern we are on each month 'cause on my first submission the judge said..."horse has potential rider needs to read the pattern". So, on this one - I realized as I am loading the pattern up on the IPHDA website again - it's the wrong pattern. Again no score....my friend just laughs and said with a Texas twang..."girlfriend, you needa do barrels .....there's only three barrels you hafta go around...you can't miss 'em"


The Four Bays

Went on an awesome trail ride on Sunday over in Poland (Maine). The four of us (well, nine if you count the horses and the dog) mostly wound through the woods on tight trails, which is just about my absolute favorite kind of riding. All four bays were gems, including and especially my very handsome stinky AhD D Das. The woman who took this picture oohed and aaahed over AhD's curly coat and dreadlocks. Since I had tucked away one of his dreads in my carrot/camera bag, I gifted it to her. :)
Look at this Indian Piper I saw in the woods. They were all over the place, but this is the very first time I have noticed them. All three of my horseback riding pals recognized them right away. Is this cool, or what? Reminds me of a colorless ladyslipper, but I guess it is from the mushroom family.

What an incredible view out over Range Pond. AhD enjoyed stopping here for a relaxing break. I thought he wouldn't mind the water - he drank out of just about every stream we crossed in the woods - and yep, I was right. He and Daisy splashed about but then AhD started to lie down! eeek! but he stopped as quick as I pulled up on the reins. I wasn't dressed for a swim.

The day was spectacular. The water reflected the clouds in the sky and the temperatures were in the low 70's with a cool refreshing breeze. What a blessing.

We rode on the edge of this field near the beginning and the end of the ride. On the way back, two of us cantered our horses ahead, and then the other two galloped theirs. Our canter was nice and AhD was a perfect gentleman. I was happily tired and extremely contented and satisfied by the time we arrived back at Ulla's barn.

Sunday Show time

Yesterday - Sunday- we woke up early to get ready for OYY Elektra's show. It will be a long day- because Elektra is entered in both Intro tests A and B and her first training level tests.. 1 and 2. First ride time is 9:00.. so we need to leave the farm by 6:00-- chores first and braiding, etc. There's a lot of effort going into a minute and a half cameo appearance in the ring. The show is held at Pirouette Farm in Norwich, Vermont, Sponsored by Central Vermont Dressage Ass'n.

A very beautiful farm set in the mountains - A great set up-- my only complaint.. water was 1/4 mile at least from our trailer.

Thankfully, a nice sunny day for a unique change of pace. Zoe does a little warm up without her jacket though.. it's pretty hot.

Official warm up is in the indoor, where Elektra experiences her first mirror.. she likes it-- being the beauty queen that she is. Zoe has decided we need one in our indoor now !
The show stewards were well organized and well connected with their walkie-talkies .. not so much worrying about being in the right place for your ride time. Some shows.. with so much going on and several rings set up-- you can't always hear the loud speakers and are constantly checking your watch so you are up at the correct moment for the whistle or bell.

Zoe and Elektra bow together.

Here's a short little video of training level test 2 -
Rain, rain, and more rain here in Vermont - our big ring is more than damp, so Zoe has been schooling Elektra in the indoor - which in some ways is good for her -- but Elektra tends to use the walls to "hold" her in the circles.. she's young yet (just turned 4) and when she is in the big ring she still can't quite get her shoulders and body working correctly-- but she's coming along well for a 'little' girl. This year is our first BIG adventure into the dressage arena.. so we are learning along with Elektra. It's been a fun experience and Zoe's pretty pleased as she has set her own personal goals and worked diligently. Over the summer Elektra and Zoe have consistently improved on their scores- higher each and every time. This show-- in the Intro Test A and B they garnered a Blue in each. In their very first training level test- both test 1 and 2 -- Their first canter.. they earned second place in each test for their efforts !
The judges comments were quite positive-- attractive horse and good job. :) Pretty satisfying outcome-- since we have done all the "training" ourselves in a venue in which we are complete 'newbies' . And from studying the posted scores over-all, we are consistently scoring right along with most everyone else.
Immediately after the show, we collect our score sheets and happily grab our 2 Blues and 2 Reds- and we are off to take Zoe's daughter to overnight camp 2 1/2 hours away. Our dependable trailer man, Gabby, takes Elektra back to the farm and knows just where she belongs- back in the pasture with her grand-mother Lilly.
All-in-all, a good day.
Today we are planing a ride together over the mountain to Grafton- about mid-way, we'll be on all brand new trail for us.
Enjoy your day ~

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Lovely Day!

We had an incredibly beautiful day in Maine today for a trail ride, so I thought I'd share some pictures. The sun was out, the woods were spectacular, and there was a nice breeze blowing, so it wasn't muggy at all, and there were very few flies.
I love the way the sun shines down through the woods and dapples the trail. There was a stand of tall pines here, and walking on pine needles is so gentle on the horses's feet and smells so nice!

This is where my neighbor spotted the moose standing on the trail the other day. Down a piece from here, we crossed a rushing brook. AhD was WONDERFUL He stepped right in up to his knees, took a good long drink, and then proceded to the other side. He showed his buddy Mister the correct way to cross. We had no spooks today, even though we passed a neighbor using a chain saw and another working on his house with power tools. A motorcycle passed us with no problem. I guess Mister has showed AhD a thing or two also. ;)

This little teeny meadow in the middle of nowhere held snacks for all four of us, grass for the horses and wild strawberries for us. It was a good and relaxing break before we headed back. A day to remember.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Third Time's a Charm

Denise was right, third time's a charm! We had an excellent ride today on our ponies, and IT DIDN'T RAIN. Amazing. I worked with both horses on ground work beforehand, and it certainly worked wonders because when AhD came down out of the pasture this morning he was wild-eyed and keyed up. An hour later, after a long grooming, backing, and give-to-pressure session, he was soft-eyed and gentle.

We headed up our road because Mr. Moose was spotted yesterday on our trail across the road. I was dismounted and walked AhD because the traffic travels too fast, and I didn't trust a new horse, a beginner rider and a blind hill to boot.

Both horses were on their best behavior. It was awesome. We looked out over the green fields but didn't ride in them for fear of punching them up. This field gets hayed. We headed up a dirt road (a glorified driveway) called Churchhill Drive.

My pony looks grouchy, but he's just listening for the click of the camera because sometimes he gets a treat afterwards. What a good boy!

We stopped and overlooked a beautiful little pond nestled in the woods.
This pond adjoins The Secret Garden that I like to visit. The flowers are beautiful. Today there were some Mallards swimming around in the pond.

This is my cute and bratty Mr. Personality trying to bite my boot for some extra attention. Like riding him on the trail isn't enough? I showed him the crop. He stopped biting. What a card!

We walked down this gorgeous wooded trail. Both Mister and AhD walked along beautifully and were enjoying this ride just as much as me and Ian. I love this trail, but today we turned around before we hit the brook crossing because of the Newbies. I'm thinking later today, I may finish this trail and cross the not-so-little brook.

We turned around and headed down Back Street towards home. There is virtually no traffic, so I let Mister and Ian get this far ahead, and then I gaited AhD to catch up. I've found that long, not-too-steep hills are the best place to get AhD to do his Curly Shuffle, or whatever it is. It is funky and interesting to sit to.

AhD was great the whole way back. He expects and gets cheek rubs before I dismount.

Can you tell I'm still in love with my Curly? Even through all of our trails this year. He looks quite dashing with his turquoise and faded-red saddle blanket that coordinates with my RAC shirt. I hope my fellow RACers enjoyed joining me on this ride. I love reading about all your adventures in this blog. Keep on keepin' on, and happy trails to you all!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Dedicated to my Dad

My Dad, Roy Ross, passed from this world on May 31, 2009. I have to dedicate this post to him because he purchased my first curly, Custer, for me as my Christmas gift (from Stag Creek Farm) in December 2005. It took lots of convincing for a Quarter Horse man to grow to love a Curly horse. He'd never heard of one before. But from the time my husband brought Custer home to East Texas, my Dad was smitten. He fed Custer ice cubes on hot East Texas days, got him used to being saddled before he was even broken, held him while I climbed aboard for my first ride and allowed him to playfully steal his cap from his head (still a favorite trick of Custer's). My Dad cultivated a love of horses down to me, his only daughter. He was my first love and will always remain a cowboy in my heart and memories. Till we meet again Daddy.

Dedicated to the memory of Roy Jackson Ross, 1945-2009

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

We did it!

After months of lurking and thoroughly enjoying everyone's posts...then using excuses of snow and rain and MUD, my fall from the loft (and not realizing I WAS injured), Dad's sudden passing and all the details that follow, missing spring and hit by sudden extreme heat, and consequently getting little training time in, with minimal riding, well, I finally did it. Thanks for all your encouraging stories!

Most everyone has gotten some
(thought inconsistent) training
this year; little bits here and there
as the weather and my schedule
would permit.

One of our stallions, Ahote (barn name Target) has been so neglected lately. Ever since Mac was injured (bad cut through the heel of his hoof), he has had to either be by himself (so to be closer to the barn and get some attention) or "by himself" with the mini stallions (and they sure enjoy bossing him around as a pack--sorry for the snow picture, but it's the only one I could find of Ahote and his little buds!:~)

Lately he is craving so much attention, that when I give it to him decides to be a bit of a jerk with the "where have you been" cold shoulder and studdy pushiness. Time for an attitude adjustment because (especially as a stallion) we can't be having any of that!

Started with some join up and at first he was a stallion with that a fore mentioned attitude, "screw you, I'm not on a lead or lunge...heck, I am the boss in here and can run around this pen all friggin day if I choose to."

I quickly realized that every time he got to the gate that leads out to one of the pastures--the rest of the herd is normally in there but
they were locked out of this portion of pasture so he wouldn't be so distracted--he would stop and call for "his" girls. They were only within sight to check out his calls; so a nice distraction from a distance, but he couldn't get nose to nose with them...last year we were at that point where I could work him with the mares on the other side of the fencing, but didn't think that would be a very good start point this year with only one mare bred (and all those horny gals) and very little work under his girth since last fall.

OK hot shot....time to outsmart you...

I started by turning him every time he got almost to his calling spot. It wasn't long before he began to anticipate that move by trying to turn himself--so I began very random turns; often not allowing him to make it 1/2 way around the pen, other times only 1/4, and still others 1 or 2 times round, rarely at the same spot. The light bulb suddenly went off.

YES! Ahote decided he wasn't in charge anymore and I looked pretty good as his leader! He dropped his head and would chew each time I made him change direction.
I slowed down his pace to a walk, started to turn my back to him and he immediately came in to me. Ahote became glued to my hip! He followed me everywhere. For the first few moments I allowed his "attachment" to me--his nose was firmly placed on my hip, shoulder or back as we moved around the ring. Now to work on getting my space back. A few "back" and he got the picture. We were both so pleased.

So I put a bridle and surcingle on him, and left him by himself in the round pen for 30 minutes to think about what we had done. When I returned, he joined right up with me so we moved on to long lining.

OK, I was definitely doing something wrong (I can be so darn uncoordinated especially when I think I am getting soooo confident--it's got to be a karmic thing.) I was getting tangled, he was getting tangled. He got frustrated and twisted and simply started backing every time he was confused.

Only one thing left to do.
I know I can communicate through
the use of reins and leg.
On goes the saddle.
No problem.

Ahote looks at me like as if to say,
"I've seen this done before, it's actually
no big deal! Ahhh, where are the reins and
aren't you suppose to get on me next???"

Out comes the step ladder (NO short jokes please!:~) I place it a few feet off the rail, just far enough to walk thru and we do just that without incident. Both directions, several times.

Next I have Ahote make the walk all by himself.
"OK, it looks a little scary, but for you, mom, no problem."

He does it a few times, each directions, and eventually we even get a whoa at the ladder.

I lead him to the ladder and put my hand in a stirrup and pull down.
Nothing to this.

Up the ladder I go and lay over him. No problem.

Alright, the moment of do or eat dirt. Nothing left to try but to mount up. Problem!

Just kidding!!!!! He was perfect. A bit dense on my cues, so I need to buff up on my ground driving techniques and work with him some more from the ground...and work on my leg strength!

It took some time before he was getting the idea to walk with a simple cue....initially he wouldn't move unless I gave him a gentle smack on the rump....and I am thinking I don't want him to get the wrong idea and have this the way we move forward.
Next we tried whoa and back. The whoa went alright. The back, well he immediately got frustrated as with the driving lines, but couldn't twist out from this pressure, so he reared. HOLY MOLLY. That was so cool, but so scary at the same time! No more of that. We walked a lot more...like for the next hour...this way and that...figure eights...whoa and backed without any more rearing.

What a rush!!!!

I'll admit that I never tried a trot (will do next time)....it was enough to get my camera out of my pocket and take pictures and hope that he didn't decide to loose his ride or worse yet me loose my camera only to get smashed under a hoof! Next time I will have hubby man the camera so I can man the reins. Besides, Ahote was doing so well I wanted to end on a very positive note. He stood perfectly still from his halt and let me slide down....seemed like a very, very long way down to the ground!

All in all we both had a blast! Can't wait to do it again....if it doesn't rain later today we will work some more.

One last photo....Ahote's sire Skeye threw an Araby head that sure stands out from this angle! I love this boy!

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