Monday, November 29, 2010

Ahote, Mac and Me FINALLY on our new journey!

Hello to everyone! Congratulations to jobs well done. There has been so much progress has been made by so many curly owners. Very exciting times. I have been outta touch for some time, but am joining the group in getting our curly horses out there....

Brief recap: between surgery (Feb: cadaver ACL installed), physical therapy (March-June with NO riding), horse therapy (July-September--first on an electronic horse progressing to being lead around on horseback, then classical lunge line lessons and finally actual lessons) the big question was I ready (both physically and mentally) to tackle training and riding again? After two months of struggling at home, the decision was made to bite the bullet (and the bank account!:~) with structure and consistency-and a professional to supervise our progress. It has been a long, long time coming. God willing this will continue for many years to come.

November 7th, two of our curly stallions, Ahote and Mac, along with myself, began our new journey in classical dressage with Mario Contreras...head trainer for Medieval Times, Chicago. I may be a bit, ahh, slanted :~) in my opinion, but as a proud mom I must say the boys are doing very well.
They have settled into this new lifestyle (stalled more, turned out less, although know how much they always LOVED their stalls and training time) very, very well. Mom is trying to keep up!

I find the "new schedule", 4-5 days a weeks at the new barn (which is a 45 minute drive one way)--after taking care of my own herd at home (and Mario wants me there by 8 a.m. two of those days--tough for me!:~), then taking lessons on both the boys, rushing back to take care of the herd at home again--well simply put, a lot for me to adjust to. Fortunately my home bound herd is extremely patient as I have been too exhausted to work any of them (as of yet) and sometimes fall into a deep sleep after arriving back at the ranch, only to wake sometime between 10p.m. and midnight to take care of the night feedings. This learning curve is steep, but my stamina is slowly getting better...very slowly! LOL!

The exhilaration I have been experiencing certainly helps with my energy levels and is only enhanced by the number of questions and comments I am getting from other boarders who learn the new kids on the block are stallions; especially the woman whose mare is stalled next to Ahote! FYI-it is a stallion barn with concrete walls between the stalls, and not enough stallions to fill it's 50+ stalls.

Most boarders have never seen a curly before. Those who have were extremely impressed with my boys temperment and movement. It's very exciting to have the breeders (mostly Andalusians, Lusitanos and Friesians at this barn), other trainers, their equine chiropractors and massage therapists, farriers, even vets comment positively on the movement of "those curlies". I am floating on cloud nine!

Another extremely exciting, although
initially extremely intense moment was
the first time I rode Mac in the arena side
by side with Ahote being ridden by 18
year old Mauricio (sorry hubby was so
excited himself he didn't get those
photos....but more to come!:~) That's
Ahote and Mauricio (very tiny) in the background. That moment was only intensified by another woman working her Andalusian mare around us as we stood quietly in the center of the arena--and then another of Mario's students long lining a Freisian stud!

Mario and his students are enjoying my boys laid back nature, smooth gaits and ease of trainability...OK Ahote gets bored quickly and gets a little simply standing and doing nothing! I realize I must spend more time with him, changing up his routine, figuring out different ways to get him enthusiastic about that he doesn't get sour.

Yesterday, Sunday, was yet another thrilling day.Mario called this team to the barn for TV filming. Tierra de Caballos TV (oh well, not the ABC, NBC, CBS prime time we were all expecting-lol) spent several hours shooting footage of Mario and his students.

OK, I, nor my boys, are certainly NOT at a
level ready for TV time, but the camera man
did his best to make make us feel a part of the team! Who knows, perhaps the Curly Studs will their own reality show with this introduction! LOL. Either way it was a ton of fun leaving us wanting for more! And although not TV, the boys performance may not be too far off....we are preparing for a possible dressage demo at the Midwest Horse Fair, April of 2011.

Mac almost has his bow down pat, so I will make sure to get a photo once he has that perfected....leg yields are coming along so will try to get some video of that over the holidays....the passage and piaffe, Spanish walk and pirouettes will be for RAC 2011 and 2012!

Speaking of bows and other dressage movements, another topic not curly related that I am so excited to share, so please excuse me for bringing up a non curly announcement-- Rocky, stage name Rocky El Blanco, one of my mini stallions (have to find a curly mini mare for him) is the "star" of Noble Horse Theatre in Chicago....he is performing in their horseback production of the Nutcracker, under the training of Laura Amandis and learning dressage!

All in all it has been a long year and a half of recovery. Needing another surgery, but trying to put it off as long as I am having such a grand time bursting at the seams with excitement (and the waistline!:~)

I will do my best to keep in touch and updating our status with photos and video....Betsy I don't know how you do it, other than skill and practice, asI tried to take document my first ride with Mac--video on my phone and if you want to see some shaky tape of either his mane or the ground I can post it! vcLOL.

Please follow our training at Big Sky Ranch on facebook as well.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Article in Canadian Horse Journal!!!

Congratulations Donna on your article in the Canadian Horse Journal!!! Was very pleased to read it! Great to hear how you are doing with Linus too.

Enjoy your visit at Homefire Curly Horses! Give Sammy a hug for me, lol. Ok, Lynn and Brian too, lol.

Congrats again and thanks!!!


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Adrenaline Rush

Today was all about establishing good leadership with *Suncatcher and Dude. First, let me explain that it is one of those days where you think to yourself: “Self, should I really work with a horse in wind like this?” But then you say, “Sure, it’s a perfect time to establish good leadership.” The only thing you’ve forgotten is how hard it can be when there are THOUSANDS OF HORSE EATING MONSTERS and the horses have forgotten that you really are as good as you’ve been telling them you are.

In short, both *Sun and Dude had hissy-fits once down in the lower pastures; they both exploded but in different ways.  In the end, they saw that I would stay with them, keep them safe and bring them "home" again. I kept at it with them, walking, staying calm, keeping safe myself, and I can only hope that they learned they could depend on me.  I have written more detail about it in the GMC Blog, so I won't repeat it all.
I’m left with thoughts: Was it because of the wind? (Could be) Was it their lack of trust in me? (Could be) Perhaps they are herd-bound? (Could be) I’m thinking it was all of the above and all that means is that I have to keep working at it little by little.

I can say though, that wind is whipping pretty powerfully.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ride-A-Curly 2011 Sign Up Now!

Hello Curly Lovers!


Announcing the 2011 Ride-A-Curly International Riding Competition details & sign up is now posted!!

DEADLINE is December 31st. Contest begins January 1st, 2011!

NEW Divisions and 3 Mini Contests scheduled!

I thought it was about time we motivated our men to ride with us and help us promote so I included several things to lure them aboard. =] First, the RAC logo is gender least I think so! lol. And I included a "Mens Only" Division as well as a "Ladies Only" Division to spur on some friendly competition. If that doesn't do it, the Grand & Reserve Champion Prizes are sure to entice them. Check them out on the details page:

ALSO new!
I added a NEW Division: CURLY TEAM! This division is for owners with just 1 curly or those that prefer to compete the entire year as a team on 1 special curly. Many of us have our special equine partner and would like to compete directly with others doing the same. So here is your chance!

SIX (6) Core Divisions for 2011!

1. WRANGLERS (17 & under - girls & boys)
(Ladies Division, 18 & up)
(Men's Division, 18 & up)
4. JACK BENNY (55 & over - men & women)
5. ROOKIES (Beginner/Novice 17 & under, guys & girls)
6. CURLY TEAM* (1 Rider/1 Curly - any age or gender)

*Men & Women, 18 & Up can choose either the gals or guys division or the Jack Benny.
*Curly Team - NEW for 2011. This division is for owners that wish to compete all year on the same curly horse and compete with others doing the same.

Entry Fee: $35.00 - includes FREE T-shirt!
Sign up 2 or more in your family, and pay just $30.00! $5.00 savings per person!
FAMILY RAC Team Tshirts must be sent to the same address.

Additional "add on" Divisions:

(Optional) Ground Training Division: +$10.00
(Optional) Incentive Award Program: +$5.00

THE ONLY REQUIREMENT is that you RIDE A CURLY!!! No registration papers required!!

View feedback from RAC Riders!


Monday, November 22, 2010


Today I received one of the dreaded phone calls that comes with being a livestock owner...."your ------ is out" In this case, blank was Linus. He was over munching grass at the neighbour's house. I headed over to the farm right away to put him back in, all the while thinking deer had run through his fence again. I was later to find out his fencer stopped working, he figured this out and managed to slip through the wires without breaking them...just stretching them immensely! So, now he is moved back into his smaller pasture which is livened by the same fencer the cows are on...and has more juice.
Anyway, the main reason why I wanted to post is because catching Linus (which thankfully only involved throwing the rope around his neck) reminded me how important it is to always have a rope of some kind in your truck! In my case today it was the reins from my bitless bridle. I also kind of wanted to encourage everyone, if they don't already know, how to turn a rope into a suitable halter for a horse should you have to catch one in a hurry. I'm sure most of you do know how but I was surprised at the amount of my friends who over the years have never learned. I learned from watching the classic movie: The Man from Snowy you could combine a lesson with a great flick! Lol
Heard from my friend today that the new harness for Linus should arrive on Wednesday!! Super excited for that. And even more excited to head to Stirling, Ontario for what I'm sure will be a wonderful weekend visit at Homefire!

The Long Drought

It’s been two years since I could think about seriously working with the horses. Two years is a long time in which to lose confidence, and a long time for them to forget that you really DO know what you know.

It all comes down to establishing leadership once again. If I make the commitment to talk with you about what I’m doing, as well as, actually begin to accrue RAC points, I believe it will not take long in their eyes to once again be the leader I was, rather than simply the food-bearer.

Today, I began my NEW job. The job I’m happiest at doing, even if I make no money at it. Thankfully, I have a loving and wonderful husband who is extremely supportive. And today, *Beau, *Red, and *Jack were reminded that I really did know what I know, and they honestly needed to listen to me as much as I will listen to them.

Amazingly, neither *Beau nor *Red, who are much older than *Jack, could pass their thresholds. My job, of course is to bring them to that threshold and encourage them through it. For *Beau, it was the top of the hill over looking the lower pastures. “Nope, too far!” he said. I encouraged him again, “Can’t do it!” So I suggested side-stepping and eating some grass. “I can do that”, he said. After relaxing, I asked again, “Go down?” “NOPE!”. “Okay, what if we go over here.?” And off we went. So then we worked our way back up toward his paddock, maintaining attention to me.

*Red was funny. All excited to get out of the paddock and then lost. “Where we going?” “Let’s walk down the drive. Can you ‘whoa’?” Yep! Walking and whoaing established. “Turn left” “Sure!” “Turn right” “Sure!” “Whoa” “YEP!” “Walk beyond the arena” SCREECH “I halt good don’t I?” So we worked on approach and retreat and relax, then into the arena and back to the paddock.

Last out was *Jack. He and I have been buds since he was born, and he naturally accepts my leadership, but I pushed his boundaries today, and we came out winners on the other end. “Where we going?” he asked. “To the lower pastures.” “Okay….OMgoodness look at all those turkeys….I dunno…..” “Oh Jack, come on, you know turkeys, they always run away.” “Okay, if you say so…..” “Um, Adria, did you notice there is grass?” “Yes, and let’s see if you can listen, I’ll tell you when to eat as long as you don’t dive for the grass.” So around the large 12 acre field we walked…going, whoaing, and eating grass. As we began to make our way back toward the way up, Jack got a bit faster, so I went slower. “Why are we going so slow?” “Because I only have 2 legs, you have to stay with me.” “Oh, okay” Relaxing himself, he kept pace with me and we slowly worked out way back up to the winter paddocks. We walked past his, then back to his gate, just to make sure he was still with me.

All in all, about an hour and a half’s work. I expect that as time goes by, each horse will get more time, but I believe in taking the time it takes with them, so sometimes more, and sometimes less will be taken. I have 6 boys to work with and hope to work with each of them twice a week. I have one mare to work with, and will work with her at least twice, if not three times each week. Feel free to bug me if I don’t tell you what we’ve done .

Picking Up Acorns

Sunday in November! The only time I get to take a ride on my beloved Curly. I also had to gather acorn tops for a 4H project in the late afternoon, so I put the saddlebags on Didder and decided to kill two birds with one stone. Actually three birds, because the Labs accompanied us, and Sunday is their only day to join us in the November woods also. I put both my regular reins and my short roper reins on AhD. Denise told me that she just loves her roper reins on Reese, so I thought I'd give it a try. AhD is very feisty when not ridden regularly, so my focusing on acorn patches and my frequent mounts and dismounts were good training for both of us.
I made him stand on the metal bridge while I looked for a patch of acorn tops here. Is he cute, or what? He was really hoping that the acorn tops were a treat for him. :)
After I had gathered enough acorn tops for an army and had my face licked 1,000 times x 3 Labs, Didder and I came back to the house and had a bareback session in one of the pastures. He was still ready to challenge me at every lead change. I cantered him up a small hill a few times; he kept giving me that studdy "whoop-whoop" noise in his gut and tossing his head. I love my pony to pieces, but I have finally figured out that when I ride him less than 2-3 times a week and we do not have other horse company, that I do not enjoy all that spunkiness he has to offer. Does anyone have any good advice for this fellow RACer?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunset Drive

Sorry haven't been able to scan and upload the article yet. Hang in there, it will be soon!
Saturday was an incredibly windy day here and I even debated not working with Linus. Then I reverted back to thinking it was a great day to take advantage of the wind and use it to show Linus that a windy day does not blow in horse-eating monsters. It turned out to be a great idea and we spent about 4 wonderful hours together.
I brought him into the barn to groom him...a dirty horse getting brushed out in the wind usually ends with dirt and things in my eyes! So, when he wasn't trying to pull my gloves off or take his brushes out of my caddy we did manage to get him cleaned up. I had a really great picture of his head over the gate greeting a weanling heifer but unfortunately I deleted it from my phone before it had finished emailing to the computer so this cancelled the email. Since he has been tall enough to do it, sticking his head over fences and gates has become a new fascination.
It hadn't been that long since I had Linus out but with the wind being as strong as it was I decided to ground drive him first. I am seriously impressed with how he is now responding to the Bitless bridle. My Dad even is too, and he is pretty old school with bits and bridles. So, anyway we set off and went up the longer length of the road because I have been trying to get him more used to that direction with the road being smoother. There is more houses and a bit more traffic but all the better for getting him used to those things! I fully expected him to be a teenager and act out at things. He did try to play with the leaves that blew across our path...which is better than bolting. But, he blew me away by driving through the places he always turns around to face me. It was really great. On the way back he tried a few times to turn around but I pulled the rein down so he couldn't turn and told him in a stern voice to "get around". He soon picked up what it meant and we had no more turn around attempts. I clucked at him if I noticed him starting to think about it and he chose to listen to me rather than do his own thing. He was such a good boy. Back at the farm Dad helped me hitch him to the buggy and we had a very short ride. I recently read an article in a magazine about how to know if your horse was "willing". I got my proof when at a small slope instead of slowing and trudging threw it Linus decidedly threw his weight into pulling and didn't give up. I think I will have a very willing partner when is older and able to handle more. He is showing such promise now.

The latest news with Stella! (:

Well, first of all I'm going to say that Stella is indeed pregnant! She has such an attitude at times. It's so funny when she 'back talks' me. Her mouth snarls, and she glares at me, but I know she won't do anything. Today was a good day, and I took some pictures of her belly, and the photogenic attitude she had today.
I wanted to give Stella a break today, so I put a bare back pad on for 'bare-back-butt' purposes only.(: I haven't been actually jumping with Stell a whole lot due to the chill and the occasional mud. I normally just excersise her in the arena, but today I wanted to have a stroll in the field. That is exactly what we did. While I was riding, I was taking pictures of anything and everything.

The first picture I took (along with multiple others that match) was of Stella's head from her back. Don't get me wrong, I have ALOT of these now after today. :D This one is my favorite, because you can see the soft look in her eye along with seeing her ear position. This picture makes her look like she has a double mane, but she really doesn't. Some of her mane flips to the opposite side. I can't get it to stay all on one side.

When I rode her to the peak of our hill, I took a picture of the house, arena, barn, the horses, the fields, and the arena. Our arena almost hid everything! Somhow, that picture didn't make it on to the computer.

The past several months I have been traing Stella to jump. This is required to do English Equitation, on a "postage stamp". We normally ride Western, so when Josalynn, my sister, first started jumping her Thoroughbred gelding, Patroit, Dean said the saddle was like a "postage stamp" or "air - mail stamp". "Postage stamp" is what stuck, so now it's what we call the English saddle. I was really afraid when I first started riding the style. The first several weeks I didn't do anything but walk and trot. My mom told me if I didn't canter her, she'd loose her ability to move any faster. I knew it wouldn't happen, but I pulled up the nerve to canter in the "postage stamp". Cantering in English wasn't any different than the Western saddle. Posting really built up the strength in my legs. When Stella and I went to our first show, the judges and the other riders all complimaented that I was well balanced and had a great form over her back. All because of the hours I spent Posting.

Sometimes Josalynn and I would go out to the field, climb up on our horses with just lead ropes, and have a little ride. I was never brave enough to canter with Josalynn bare-back so I just trotted with her. Today, when Josalynn took off cantering, Stella went with her, trotting. I realized she'd become used to only having to trot when we were bare-back. I pulled up the nerve to tell her to canter. The first step, I was squeezing really tight around her belly, so she went faster. I wasn't bouncing, but I was terrified. I made myself relax, and cantering was a breeze! I slowed Stella down to a trot, then to a walk so I wouoldn't wear her out. I cantered around the arena several times, I have never had so much fun bare-back before!

Another thing Stella and I have accomplished is, cart training. I have been trying for a while to train her to cart. She didn't like the cart behind her. She ground drives, and will do anything you ask her to around the cart. She didn't care about the noise, but she would not hook up to the cart and pull. I continued to work with her ground training. We sort of gave up trying to hook her up. We drug poles on the ground to substitute the cart. Here recently, we tried again. I ground drove her for an hour, drug the poles, pulled the cart around her, then hooked her up. I took off the reins, and just led her by the bridle (with a rope). She was a little nervous, but she pulled the cart!!! We worked with her everyday and now I can get in the cart behind her! I never even dreamed she'd let us train her. She did! I am SO happy, and proud. I don't know what changed the attitude towards the cart. Either way, I am happy to be able to get pulled around in a sled this year, by Stella!

The last post I did, was about the Myhio Have Horse Show, and I couldn't get any pictures on it. The computer is loading good, so I am going to post those on here too.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I was more than a bit disappointed when I didn't see my article in the last issue of Canadian Horse Journal. I thought it was meant to be in there. So, I had kind of forgotten about it and was extremely pleased when I saw it today when the magazine came in!!! My husband is going to scan it tomorrow for me so I can submit it to Denise. It was not posted on their website but at least that way you can all have a peek should you wish to. The photo in the article was taken on Canada Day and Linus barely has any mane at all in it. Kind of a nice comparison picture though because it is now flopping over on his neck!!
We haven't been able to accomplish much this week. Something was off with me again and I haven't been able to escape a headache but I have figured it to be my iron being too low again so am now quickly back on the mend!
The new harness was ordered the other day in a few weeks it should arrive and we will have to begin the fitting process all over again but it will be nice to have it. Hopefully we get some good weather again and can get back at things. I'm looking forward to it freezing up and snowing.
Next weekend we are off to visit Brian and Lynn for the weekend. It has been WAY too long since we were able to go visit them. We even have plans to go riding...really looking forward to that!!! Should get some great pictures to post.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Very short curly mule / Sage post

Did anyone make it to the Equine Affair last weekend, and if so, were there Curlies??

I had planned on going down Sunday to see the Steve Edwards demos about mule training (a very relevant topic in my life lately) but ended up spending the weekend getting in hay and riding Sage instead. It was incredibly warm and sunny yesterday and while Sage's feet are still a bit tender, we had a lovely ride just staying in the field on the grass. I have to remember that not *every* ride has to be about covering a certain amount of miles or making it from point A to point B. We had so much fun just toodling around the field and Sage seemed really happy under saddle for the first time in almost a month.

We had one glorious canter up the hill next to the pasture, and our other two equines started cantering around and bucking too. Everyone was in good spirits from the warm weather.

curly mule, draft curly mule

And has anyone else gone through the process of learning to drive a trailer? Backing up was giving me panic attacks and nervous breakdowns but I persevered through that and managed to back up around a corner on the first try, twice! (I also managed not to hit the huge hay barn I had to back up alongside and that was an accomplishment, let me tell you.)Feeling more confident about taking Sage out on some adventures by myself now...

curly mule, molly mule, vermont

We had an herbalist / animal communicator/ nutritionist (Kelley Robie) come out and visit Josie and it was amazing to see how friendly and cuddly Josie was around her. We have never seen her like that before! It was amazing. We're starting her on some new supplements but we have been absolutely gobsmacked by how outgoing Jo has been ever since Kelley visited.

curly mule, curly draft molly mule in vermont

Monday, November 15, 2010

What we've been up to....

So, these picutres of my boy - our oldest Curly gelding - were taken two weekends ago when I decided it was a good idea to ride and train all my horses. I get so caught up with riding Traveler and keeping him in training for competitions, that some of the younger horses are a little neglected. With great aspirations I saddled up and rode for 7 hours on Saturday switching horses and helping my kids ride, ground driving, jumping etc. Let me tell you, I could NOT get out of bed on Sunday morning. Ooops - what was I thinking. Thankfully, theses picures don't reflect the level of exhaustion I felt later on in the day.

I have been working with this gelding (Khatmoondhu) on and off all summer. I am proud to say that I broke him to ride, myself, and he is an absolute great horse. He's fun, starting to be more responsive and not flighty at all. We worked over trot poles and did a little cross-rail and he took it all in stride. What a good boy. He has started in having official lessons with our dressage instructor and I am really looking forward to seeing what he will be able to accomplish.

In the picture below you can tell we are working on our headset. He doesn't quite know where I want him to hold his head - (really, just not straight out and up like a giraffe.)

Seeing how far I have come with Traveler, their dad, I am really excited to discover what his sons are capable of achieving. Traveler only started his training when he was 8 - and it was a bit of a steep learning curve for him and me - to start a horse at a young age, from the ground up, is a really exciting prospect.
And now I have to update you all on my big boy, Traveler. I actually get emotional when I think about what we were able to do this last weekend. I started my 2-day intense training sessions, again, to work on dressage and jumping with a world class eventing trainer. At the end of the second day we were completing some really technical, tight jumping patterns that required Traveler to jump a 3'6" oxer, canter three strides, and almost turn on his hunches to hit another fence 6 strides away at a canter. And then keep going, doing the same thing for about 8 fences.
Doing this really tight and precise canter work is really hard for Traveler (and me), but he is coming along.
I guess the emotional part comes when you ask your horse to do some really hard work and they respond and give it all they have and you have this amazing connection which is almost telepathic - it's only taken us 4 years to get it.
The really neat part - because in Eventing Traveler is an absolute anomaly - he's short (compared to their horses), he's a Curly (and noboby knows what kind of horse that is) and he's a stallion - is that Traveler is really proving himself, and the Curly breed. Where before we might have been "dismissed" - he is getting noticed.
Some of the really advanced riders came in during our riding session and I overhead them talking to the instructor - one said,"is that little horse jumping those jumps?" And the instructor told them to watch because Traveler can jump like nobody's business. And so we proceeded to do our "round" with this critical audience and they were taken aback at the end - because, yes indeed, this "little" horse can jump. Like a powerhouse.
At the end of the lesson the instructor told me that when Traveler and I can really get our canter work down - we are going to be jumping huge!
I am so proud of Traveler - this has been (and will continually be) a long work in progress, but every now and then it's really nice to get some great feedback from some really good riders. (It kinda evens out those times you leave the lesson in tears of frustration.)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Back to AhD

Sweet November.
During the last month or so, due to lack of confidence (wussyness) on my part and high reactivity and energy (brattyness) on AhD's part, we have not made good partners. But, today, I am proud to say that we are back in the groove.

Nights after work during the week, I had little ground work sessions with AhD, to remind BOTH of us just who was the boss in this relationship. To start today off on the right foot, I harnessed AhD up and ground drove him on a tote road. I was thinking of Donna and Linus.

I attached the reins to his webbed halter. When we hit speed bumps of misbehavior, I just folded the reins over his back and led him, practicing frequent whoas and backups. Since AhD was not wearing a bit, I was quite pleased at how this worked for us. I was exhausted and roasting in my fleece and heavy boots by the time we got back to the barn. AhD had a tiny bit of the edge taken off.
We posed for Sept mini-contest pictures, but I'm not wearing my SWEET new fleece jacket because I needed to stay with the red/orange theme for the woods.
We hit the trail.
AhD was high energy and very forward, but controllable. We zoomed here and there, with two of my dogs at our heels. Fake spooks or full-alert looks into the woods earned AhD tight circles. We did less circling than I expected.
When I saw this patch of beech, I thought of my friend and fellow RACer Betsy.
We went up and down a lot of hills in our area. Halfway down one very steep hill, AhD gave a little toss of his head and flicked his ears. Small signs, but right away I sensed that I need to give him something else to think about, and I urged him on with my voice and criss-crossed him sharply across the steep path. Whew! At the bottom of the hill after another head toss, I dismounted and we did some ground work to remind him that, hellloooo, I was not taking any of his sass today.
We walked quite a ways down this stream and let the dogs enjoy. On the way back, coming down off of a hill, I could tell that AhD was planning to jump the stream instead of walk through it like a good trail horse. I picked my battles today, and decided this was not the one. I thought, "I'm up for a jump!" and we SAILED across. I held him in check on the other side, turned him back around and made him stand to take this picture of the spot where he jumped the stream.
We had to bushwhack to bypass this fallen tree. AhD was a trooper! He is so good at that. I got a sapling whipped across my face and another across my neck, but the sting didn't last too long, especially when I remembered that I had to stop AhD a couple of times, back him up, and place him between trees to maneuver our way through that maze. I was on cloud nine at the way he so willingly listened to my every cue.

I was really happy with our ride today. Because I took charge and did not let him intimidate me, I got to enjoy the Maine woods on the back of my forward, willing, exciting mount. I think AhD was happy as well, because not only did he get out and about, but he was rewarded with some sweet lawn grass to boot.

Fall Rides, RAC 2011 just up ahead!

This week I have been preparing for the upcoming RAC 2011 competition...brainstorming on the new logo, new ideas and getting new forms, details prepared. Stay tuned as I will be posting the details by December 1st!

In doing that, I pondered the activities of this year and thought I'd post a little something. What an incredible year it has been. No fancy shows, expos, fairs, parades or endurance for us this year. No agenda except to pleasure trail ride, build new friendships and to reconnect with Reese in a brand new way.

I have had the pleasure of riding every weekend since Mid September with a wonderful, adventurous and caring group of women. Typically there are about 12-14 of us each ride. All levels of ability, every breed of horse.

With Reese's winter curls coming in more and more each ride, I have had the chance to talk more about the breed to those that ask. It's so cute because last week a friend said..."Watching Reese's curls appear is like watching the grass turn green in the spring." AND, really exciting news is that one of the gals I've been riding with, just bought a curly! He is an 8 year old straight curly gelding named Tygs. It's going to be really fun to have another curly in the area and due to knowing his bloodlines, it will be a hoot to watch his training progress as well.

This fall, my confidence has grown beyond my wildest dreams and Reese has responded beautifully to the new switch from english/endurance to western. Yes, it's true! ...we are now western riders and I have to say I never plan to go back. =] I think Harold will be glad to hear that! =] I bought a treeless Bob Marshall with a Kuda Correction pad and found the combination unmatched to anything I have ridden in before. Reese is SO happy and relaxed, even on our big huge 4-6 hour rides. I also switched to an "O" ring snaffle and Reese is much more responsive and light. Of course, my improved cues might have something to do with that too. =] I think after years of experimenting with many disciplines & tack over the last 6 years, we have finally landed into OUR "equine" niche! I think Reese is relieved! Lol. It's clear we have found what we are both born to do because of how happy we both are! Our plan next year is to do more camping, tons of group rides and maybe a parade or two; as well as build more and more friendships along the way.

Our rides have been a blast because we are always looking for new challenges on the trail. Bridges, Lakes with rolling white caps, rushing creeks with monster rocks, steep cliffs, bogging muddy crossings, roads, dirt bikes, 4 wheelers, sand dunes, bushwacking and much more. We also packed a lunch many times and just enjoyed conversation and the smell of the fall season.

As I close, I have to say Thank you to all those that encouraged me this season....many of whom are RACers. (you know who you are! =]) I am also so thankful for answered prayer and a renewed joy in riding and in training Reese. God has so perfectly fit all the missing puzzle pieces together in my life in a way only God can do.

p.s. Not only did God connect me with amazing women to ride with who share the common love for the trail BUT they also LOVE to take pictures as much as I do! I couldn't believe it! So thanks goes to them for the above photos. =] Note the last photo...two of the three women have cameras in their hands! Such a hoot!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Pure Pleasure

As Lynn mentioned in her blog post; Eastern Ontario has had some absolutely fantastic weather recently. It's about time too!! As you can see from the pictures, there is still a fair bit of mud around. Linus WAS clean prior to me taking the above picture. Dad passes the chain harrows up and down the laneway with the 4wheeler to keep it smooth and dry and when he does this Linus races all over the place!! I know its not the best picture of Linus, but it really shows his growth and he is gorgeous so it doesn't matter! lol
I ran up and down the fence a bit with Linus bucking and kicking and running around some more. Its a really great way to get the "P & V" out of him before I work with him. I took him out when he had settled and tied him to the stock trailer to groom him. He was much more settled than I thought he was going to be. He danced a little bit when I put the harness on his back but was quick to settle and have it adjusted. It has been too long since I have ground-driven him up the road, so to be fair to the both of us I decided to not keep my expectations too high and be prepared to offer lots of reminders. The clucking and whoaing that I use when teaching to lunge and when we go for walks is really paying off and his response times are getting so fast. We first went up the road to the near corner and then had a really good turn around. He wasn't too keen on heading back towards home already but the side road is freshly graveled (more like small rocks!) and its hard for both of us to walk on. So, whenever I needed to I lead him and whenever he was ready to I drove him. There is a new family on the road and new dogs too. So there were a few new things for him to see but he handled it all really well. I find him lately to be in a very vulnerable stage. Like he is always asking me if he is doing the right thing. I can see it coming and try to reassure him before his pace slows or he thinks about shying. It really seems to help keep him confident. SO important in a young horse. We were met and passed by trucks pulling trailers to the dump, a very old and noisy tractor and a first was a car with quite loud music sporting hockey flags from the rear passenger windows. I don't think Linus even noticed them!!
We had an extremely pleasurable outing on an incredibly nice day. Lets hope the weather hold and we can keep getting out there!!

Fall Riding

Lynn & Samurai. 
At 16'3 HH Samurai is amongst the very largest of Curlies.

All winter preparations are now complete and now it's time to wait for snow.  We've had the nicest week weather-wise and it looks like the warm temperatures and sunshine will last until Monday.  For the first time all year (hmmm - probably in the last 2 years, come to think of it) I've managed to ride 4 out of the last 7 days and am loving every second of it.  I have to be careful as the horses are well on their way to growing their winter coats and could easily over heat in this weather but otherwise it's been a complete pleasure to be out there with them again.
We were fortunate to have Trish from Yanagi Stables spend a couple of days with us this week.  It's always nice to have someone to push me a little further than I am inclined to push myself.

Some great news on the horizon.  Donna (of Linus fame!) and her family will be visiting at the end of the month.  It's been too long since we've seen each other.  I am hoping Donna and Stu will get some riding time in while they are with us.  Of course Owen will partake - he's always up for a ride and ANY horse will do.  The next bit of good news is the farmer who leases 24 acres from us has agreed not to till the soil this year so that area of the property will be prime for riding on.  It's the first time since we've lived here that this field will be fully accessible to us.

Last note before I head out - thank you to everyone who posts on this blog.  I enjoy reading about the adventures and the great work being done to promote the Curly horse.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Kendahl's Birthday party and Rowan

Well this past weekend, Kendhal had a couple little gals over for her birthday. Saturday she took the girls out and caught up Rowan. They groomed her and then Kendahl proceeded to teach one of them how to lead a horse, was too cute. She then put the bareback pad on and gave them some rides, after that we bridled her and she rode her around a bt, had to do it all in the driveway as we have had tons of rain, you will see how wet Rowan is. So our ridding area is way too muddy. anyhow wanted to share Kendahl's fun weekend and how much a hit Rowan was...