Friday, September 30, 2011

A Little Color for Donna's Birthday

Although I didn't get out to ride today, I thought I'd share some pictures of my ride last Sunday. It was a low-key, Fat Dogs sort of ride.
The Fat Dogs enjoyed the stream very much. Grace went right to the deepest part so she could (almost) swim, but then returned to her sweet spot about 10' off Ah-D's butt. The day was hot and even humid, unheard of in the state of Maine for late September. I don't think I have ever had to put a fly mask on Ah-D to ward off black flies this time of year. You can see that fall leaves are starting to float lazily down the woods streams. It is so beautiful and peaceful. Ah-D liked the cool water on his feet. We stood here quite a while and watched the dogs enjoy.
Who is that masked man? ;) I took this photo on a new trail that my nephew Jason made. This trail, #4, is another good one. It has some nice dips and climbs and one really steep but really short hill that is FUN to navigate! Ah-D tucked his butt nicely and scooted right down. Have I mentioned how much I love my Curly boy?
There is something about this tree that appealed to me.The new trail was never without a stone wall within site.
As I mentioned in my title, we do have a bit of color in Maine, especially on the Sumacs. It's not nearly as spectacular as any other year (because of Irene), but if you look for it, you can find it. The first week of October is generally getting more colorful, and I'll try for some pictures to share with you next week.
This is the best time of year to ride the powerline. Although you don't get the vivid reds and oranges you find on the trees, I just love the way all the bits of color from the low-lying plants and shrubs blend together for earthy beauty. Donna, I hope you had a great birthday and got out to enjoy a ride on Linus after blowing out your candles. On Sunday, Didder and I have an ocean beach ride scheduled, and it is supposed to be a misty cool morning. It is going to smell heavenly! Wish I could bottle some up of that heady, tangy air for all of you RACers, but you will have to be satisfied with a few pictures. ~Susan and *Ah-D-Das~

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thank you, Mr. Dorrance

Dear Reader,

If Lyle could speak English he would say this: "Thank you Mr. Bill Dorrance. You finally talked a little sense into Penny." Here is what happened.

Bill Dorrance, in his book "True Horsemanship Through Feel," writes about how to re-train by riding a horse in a big circle in order to "get something done." So today that is what Lyle and I did. We rode a very big circle. We worked on yielding to the bit, both during turns and at the stand still. (Remember, Lyle was ridden, before I started riding him, in a western rollker or hyperflesion frame. It is because of this that I am trying "to redeem the time" with Lyle.) Riding Lyle in that big circle gave him the opening that he needed to freely change his own behavior and yield to the bit. Riding him at the walk in that big circle also gave Lyle the chance to feel of me and for me to feel of him, as Mr. Dorrance calls it.

For Lyle the memories of being hard are still very fresh. But now he is building new memories. Lyle is choosing to build these new memories. It is a good thing for both Lyle and I to have a second chance. Please enjoy the pictures.

And, Mr. Bill Dorrance, I know you are in heaven with your Lord and Savior. Please accept my heart felt "thank you" for your kindness to both me and to Lyle as expressed in the teaching contained in your book.


Penny Johnson

Kootenai Curly Horses

Bonners Ferry, Idaho

Posse Fall Classic Competition Part 2

Ok the last of the 2 videos uploaded and a bonus I got my picture back too!! The videos are of the individual fleeing fellon and the team fleeing fellon. This was alot of fun cause you got to open up your horses speed here. In the individual Marley and I had the best time plus we completed all the obstacles. Here is what was asked of us in the first on 1)time starts when you touch the rope to open the gate, go into arean 2) go around the campfire, for some reason Marley thought we where done and wanted to head back out after we got 3/4 of the way done! 3) cuff the fellon 4) pick up the trash, put it in the barrel, back out of lane. 5) go over the bridge, little stinker thought he could avoid it! 6) around the barrel 7) jump the blocks, had a miss communication here 8) bring home the milk jugs, 8-10 jugs on a string being pulled behind him 9) close the gate. Talk about a great run, I was on cloud 9 after that, it was so much fun! Here is the link to watch that one From there to use up some time while the scores where being totalled we went on to do the team fleeing fellon. This class was more for fun for everyone and the points didn't go towards any of the previous classes. Dave from our posse and I took the first run at it to show how it was done. Keep in mind on any of these classes it was our first time seeing and doing them as well. 1) one team member opens the gate, the other closes it, we did pretty good here 2) off to the camp fire, one member moves one of the chairs, the other grabs the pail and dumps water on the fire and puts the pail back 3) off to cuff the fellon, Dave couldn't get the cuffs off! One member takes off the cuffs and the other one has to hang them up on the pole 4) grab the hula hoop from the mail box, drag it along the tape and drop it over the top of the end barrel, each rider grabs a side of the hoop. 5) one rider takes the bridge, the other a mattress, we chose the bridge 6) there is a rope laying on top of the barrel each rider will grab an end and then proceed to jump the blocks at the same time and then drop the rope after the jump 7) round the barrel to home and pick up the body and drag him to the finish. That dummy was really heavy! Here is the link to watch that one It was a great day, it was fun to do something different. Enjoy the excitement!!

Marley & Dana

We did it!

Hello All,
Well summer went way to fast for me. I have to say that I'm not doing the best at tracking my ride times or blogging but I'm still out there promoting!

The first big news is Theo and I jumped 3ft! It was an incrediable feeling. My instructor informed me at 2 "9" he wasn't even making an effort over the fence so we went bigger and he actually jumped the fence instead of hopping over it. I have some video that I need to upload still.
We also did another jumping show at the end of August. We got a few seconds and 1 first! I think we would have taken another first but I went off course and had to restart. My husband and I made some jumps so I can actually practice a full course at home which has really helped Theo's canter. We also went to an open show that was mostly Arabians and Morabs. The first day we got a 5th I believe out of about 12 or so. Then on Sunday we got a 6th in halter for sport horse, a 3rd and 4th in our riding classes. All the classes had 10+ riders so I was pretty impressed with our results. This weekend we will be attending a jumping clinic which I am pretty excited about. It will be Theo's second time away by himself and I think it will be better then the first. I've been taking him more places to help him relax some and trust me.
And of course the biggest news... I roached his mane! It surprisingly looks fantastic but it was hard for me to do. He lost about half of it again due to the lovely curly itch. I missed a few treatments in July and by August it was falling out. I'm hoping it will grow back thick and full by next year.

Abby has been getting some time off. She has hit a growing spurt and I just don't want to interfer with that since she had a slow start to growing anyway. Since July she has grown half an inch and since Nov. of last year she has grown almost a full hand! My vet thinks she will reach her full height (which is estimated at 15.2) as long as I keep up with her feeding program. She is currently 4 and 14.2 and half. So no other updates on her the few times I have rode her she's been quite the awesome horse.
OYY Tippateena is another of my favorite driving mares. She has not really been working much since before the birth of her first curly colt (OYY Jockomo ).  She had time off because I was busy - then came along this fellow, OYY Brave Ulyssess. This day, I decided - these two should get back to work together. You readers might remember back in the late winter, Ulysses did some obstacle work in the indoor. His prior handling helped a lot making this exercise smooth and fun.

Day One, we ground drove around the yard and up and down the road -- looking for traffic and other scarey stuff.

Other than Ulysses being pesky toward his mom's bridle.. they new little 'team' went well.

I decided this 'Brave'  son of Tippy's  needed further distraction.. walking alongside his mum was just too easy.

Here they are getting dressed for the day. Tippy dons her mother's work harness. Ulysses gets an outfit all of his own.

This little pony fancy studded harness fits the job perfectly.

Ulysses is tied to the hames with a lead rope attached to his halter.  Off we go again for a bit more practice.

Ulysses needs to learn to stay beside Mum.. not walk ahead or lag behind.  Focus and attend to business at hand :)  This day of practice, we had intermittent showers - but once a project has started I guess we need to see it to the end.

Next ~  time to hitch these two to something !!  I chose to have Tippy pull my little handy skoot/sleigh rather than the cart.  Her son still gets in the way at times and to have the shafts to deal with in addition to a pesky tot.. a bit much for any Mum.

Ulysses is not hitched to anything but at this point I am sure he could pull something all by himself.  He's a bit over 12 hands now, so will grow beyond his Mum's size. Otherwise, they'd make a nice team someday :)


Tippy is getting so great at pushing her son right over when asked to gee 'round.


then with a passenger ! 

I have always loved Tippy as a gorgeous driving horse (she's 14.1 so actually a large pony).  Ulysses has a strong dose of driving genetics with his Mum's side and his sire is a superb driving pony (OYY Finnegan)

You all know I love driving -- really enjoy teaching a young horse to drive and pull.  Ulysses will make an excellent riding horse as well I am sure.  He's going to be a big boy -- maybe even a nice stallion prospect !  he IS for sale :)   

Tippy drove next to her Mum all over the neighborhood...  it's so rewarding to continue the tradition through the generations :)   

A job well done !!
Enjoy ~

Betsy, Tippateena, and OYY Brave Ulysses

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lyle, Still Bulling

Dear Reader,

Lyle and I continue to work. He continues to bull on the bit. This forces me to work closer to him than I would like to. This does bother him. But this is the only way that I can give him the opportunity to yield to the bit and so that I can then give my release to his yield. So we continue. Tomorrow I will have to ride him away from home and work him on some slopes. He needs this new mental stimulation. I have the feeling that he would really like to stop bulling. But he just does not know how to stop. So I am trying to prove to Lyle by the feel that I offer him that he can safely yield because he can trust my release. I remember that Mr. Bill Dorrance, in his book "True Horsemanship Through Feel" said that it took him a full year of riding his mare Beauty before she started to come around. So Lyle and I have our work cut out for us.

Thank you.


Penny Johnson

Bonners Ferry, Idaho

A LIght Went On!

Dear Reader,

A light went on for me this morning. I was moving several of my mares from one pasture to another in preparation for weaning a filly. I moved my mare Lila with only a rope around her neck. She did not want to go to where I wanted to move her. Because there was only a rope around her neck there was no way that I could have forced her. So I just relaxed for a second and then I presented my desire for her to move again with only the rope around her neck. Here is what happened. I realized that I can not ask a horse because "asking" is something that a horse does not understand. I can only present my intent to them through the feel that I give through my touch, be it direct or indirect. Lila then obeyed me for only one reason, she wanted to receive the feel that I was giving to her and my feel was something that she saw as helping her and giving her security and peace. Does this make sense? So what can I give any horse? I can only give a feel and that feel must be something that brings the horse peace in its heart. This is a whole new concept for me. I must think about this. But this concept of feel is what will help Lyle. This is what Bill Dorrance talks about in his book, "True Horsemanship Through Feel." Lots to think about here. I will let you know how "feel" works for Lyle. But the real question for me is: what kind of "feel" am I presenting to my horses?

Thank you,

Penny Johnson

Kootenai Curly Horses Bonners Ferry, Idaho

Ride your horse to "work" day

My whole family has been working on building my brother's house this summer (all the logs are from our property and hand peeled) and today I decided to ride Dusty over (instead of the 15 minute walk) and let her stand tied to the tree for a few hours to get used to being patient when tied. I have never had a horse who adapts to situations as easily as she does, I can put her into any situation and she acts like she has done it her whole life. Today we were putting on the metal roof and we had sawmills, generators, drills, chainsaws, etc. going full blast and she couldn't care less. She never ceases to amaze me I love her so much! She loves Alaska and loves being a trail horse up here. By the way I know she doesn't look curly haired right now but in the winter she turns into a little lamb. I don't know what is taking her so long to grow a thick coat but I woke up to ice on her water bucket this a.m. so she better get those curls started! Not only did we have below freezing temps last night but we also got to see the Northern Lights (aurora borelias) around midnight :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Posse Fall Classic Part 1

What a long fun weekend. Marley was such a trooper. Our county put on the competition this weekend so the folks from our county that wanted to ride had to do so last. Which was fine. I got up early Saturday am to get Marley out of his stall and ride him a bit before I got assigned my job of announcing for the Obstacle class. There was a total of 24 riders from other counties that came to ride that weekend. The first part of the day was individual obstacle and the equitation part. I wasn't able to get any pictures or video of the equitation part but I did get a video of the individual obstacle. Here is the link (I hope it works, if not you will have to let me know). The team had a time limit of 6 min. to get through the course. Marley and I made it through in a little over 4 min! Just to be on the fair side of it as well, we had not ridden it prior to the class. The only thing we really had an issue with was that HUGE ball coming at him which you will see in the video. The horse is suppose to stand inside the box and let the ball hit them and stand still. Our scores though even with the oops with the ball where really good and would have placed us in the top for the class. (with us hosting we couldn't place, just play) After we where done, there was an hour lunch before we had to start setting up for the afternoon classes, so my friend Jen asked to take Marley in through the obstacles just to play, no time or judge. She couldn't believe how good Marley was, listening to everything she asked. We also worked on that huge ball too. By the end of the 'play' session he was pushing the ball with his shoulder! Oh and the reason for "part 1" is because it took like 6 hours to download this one video and I have 2 more to share as well.

Marley & Dana (MN)

Monday, September 26, 2011

On Sunday I took my new trusty steed Tucker out of the round pen for the first time. He was as calm and as happy as a clam to be out of there. We did a few laps around the arena and even went over a few obstacles. Before you know it we will be trail riding everywhere.

Lyle Is In the Bit!

Dear Reader,

For a reason that I can not explain, it seemed like the right time to dispense with the bosal and put Lyle in the bit. In the morning he and I did some ground work, working only on me giving him the release while the bit and bridle were on him. Then in the afternoon, I saddled him and gave him the bit. (We are using a Rockin' S low port, three piece snaffle bit made by Reinsmen. This bit has a very low port that can be turned so that it interacts with a completely different part of Lyle's mouth than a regular, two piece snaffle does. He likes the bit very well.)

After saddling, Lyle and I rode. It was only a short ride of maybe 10 minutes. It was only around the hay shed. But Lyle allowed me to feel of him and he allowed himself to feel of me. I would take up some pressure. As soon as he gave me the smallest yield, I would give him a generous release. Lyle was seeking to know if he could trust me to keep my promise to always give him the release and to never jerk on the rein. Lyle is seeking now instead of fighting, he is willing to give me his feel and he is willing to receive my feel. This is wonderful. Here are three pictures that show what we did.

In one picture I am "framing" Lyle just the way you would frame a green horse on his first ride. In the other pictures I am asking for a turn so that Lyle's attention remains on me. He is giving me some nice beginning yields. I am giving him a generous release as his reward. I am wearing my chaps in case Lyle were to jump out from under me, as he has tried to before. But he never even thought about doing that.

Lyle and I still have a very long way to go. God willing, we will make that journey together.

Thank you.


Penny Johnson

Kootenai Curly Horses

Bonners Ferry, Idaho

Fun Before Irene ~

I can't even recall the past time I posted !! What an insane spring and summer. Zoe and I have been able to keep up with our riding pretty regularly getting some awesome investigating done with super expeditions here and there. One of our trips was SO many miles which we had to cover within a time frame ... a race to get home to meet the bus from summer camp --  which ended up in my horse a bit sore in the shoulder and requiring some professional massage (which she loved !) 

This particular report is the best ride we had before the big hurricane hit.  BCF Splash Dancer and Keri headed over to the floodplains for a swim... Splash's first of his life :)  Up until this point, we had plenty of rain and the river was high and fast.  4 days later- we learned just how high and fast that river could become with the arrival of Irene.  We won't be headed to the river until next year !

In addition to this being Splash's first swimming experience -- he also had his debut on the sidewalks of North Springfield !! 

We make our way onto the trail which follows along the airport.  Splash's first bridge !!

Right along this green airport fence is the perfect cantering lane until we get down into the woods and follow the river.

We enter the actual floodplains --  due to the numerous days of rain we've had up until today, it's a squishy trot.

If you remember, the only exposure Splash has had to water up to this point, was his trip up Mount Ephraim where he walked in a few shallow steams and muddy puddles.  This is going to be exciting... hopefully in a good way :)

After a good trot through the plains, we approached the river... and I spotted the eagle soaring.  There are eagles nesting along the floodplains --- we have taken the horses up along the ridge where they are supposed to be nesting, ( it's high, steep and scarey by the way along that ridge )  but this is the first time we have actually seen one.  Exciting !!

Here is Splash as he first enters the river. It takes him a bit to acclimate to the water -- cold and quite a current today.  Listen to the cicadas in the background.  I have not heard them since the tropical storm Irene hit !
He's not sure about all that cold water on his hienie !!  keeping his tail tightly tucked :)

Best Friends !

Here's a view showing the swift current on this day

Walking downstream was a breeze...  getting upstream HARD work against this. Once Splash got walking around and exploring the river upstream and down.. he relaxed into the experience and enjoyed himself.  You can see the effort walking against the flow makes a big splash. 

We walked almost to the other dam which forms Stoughton Pond- found a small beaver dam along the way with either fledgling herons or bitterns scampering back and forth. 

The water fluctuates from deep to shallow, with forks and splits, islands in between, loads of gorgeous scenery....  with the backdrop of the rushing river and bird calls as our soundtrack.
the flow of the water feels like it pushes us backwards with every step forward.  

Keri's nostrils flaring out with all her hard work swimming upstream.

  White caps !!
If you look closely -- Keri is sticking out her tongue.  Apparently, she was doing that almost the entire time.

We were having -- if there is such a thing -- TOO MUCH FUN !!

We spent a long time walking upstream and down.... played in the deep water off and on.

 Alas -- time to head home !

As we trot along the shore of the river on the opposite side, we scare up a pretty merganser family. I love these fellows.. so adorable with their red caps. They are a skittish crew though.

Capturing views as we trot along.. 
 Beautiful river  
 Here's a plane coming low for a landing
 A plane taking a glider up -- nice day for it but never my cup of enjoyment tea :)

 We spotted this misplaced gaggle of what looks to be Toulouse geese just as we came up under the dam tower. 

I am not sure if you can see the measuring strip on the "legs" of the tower....  here is what it looked like during Irene. It ultimately reached 81 feet. 

and those geese --- for some reason they were still there 5 days later, somewhat stranded.. now there is the reasoning behind the exclamation - 'Silly Goose'

Just a tidbit of trivia... it was the dam and the floodplains that saved our area from being washed away during this past storm.

There is still far too much water and as I mentioned, we won't be getting near this river until sometime next year.

On our way home -- we trotted up the roads of North Springfield past the bus garage.... Splash had last bit of goofing and he and Zoe practiced their haunches in along the yellow line :)

For some reason -- blogger is not being kind to me today.  I began this post this morning and finally quit in frustration, only to come back and finish it this evening.   Is anyone else experiencing whimsical and nonsensical behaviors on Blogger lately ?

I put together the video I took - it's on you tube here in case you want to see all of our antics. 

Enjoy ~

 Keri and Betsy, Zoe and Splash in Vermont...