Monday, October 31, 2011

Just Plain Hard Work!

Dear Reader,
Not much to report. Lyle and I continue to work. I continue to try and prove to him that I intend to, and always will, honor the covenant of pressure and release. Lyle at time does well out on trail. At other times, as yesterday, he decides to run away with me and is both cold jawed and cold sided. (Trust me, we have had some real interesting and "Western" rides.)
Lyle is, however, emotionally stable enough now so that I can round pen him. This is in and of itself a big improvement. However, I use Marv Walker's round penning technique, it is called The Bonder. In this teaching tool, the handler does NOT chase the horse around the pen making it turn. Rather the human claims a part of the pen as the space that belongs to the human, as herd leader. Then the human moves the horse. The horse may not enter the space that the human has defined as it is being moved by the person. (It is real interesting. ALL horses understand intuitively exactly where this space is. They just KNOW.) The human will, from time to time, move their personal space. The horse always knows intuitively where the human has moved that space to. The human just, in the beginning, keeps that horse moving but it may NEVER enter the human being's claimed personal space. It is also good to never allow the horse to make a turn that is away from the human, that is an outside turn. All horse turns must be, if possible, towards the human. What is so interesting is that this Bonder works and it can be done at a very slow walk. The human can do it without ever having to move fast. (I am unable to run any more. So I like being able to do it at a walk.)
So Lyle and I have been doing Marv Walker's "The Bonder." I will continue to ride him under saddle. Will report back to the RAC blog how Lyle does. Please wish me and Lyle well.
Penny Johnson
Kootenai Curly Horses
Bonners Ferry, Idaho USA

Winding down

Well show season is winding down here so I'm finding a little bit more time to get things done around the house. I also feel more comfortable just playing around on Theo and going for trail rides instead of schooling him and me. Saturday we went on a really nice trail ride by ourselves which we havne't done in quite some time. He is a little more "hot" then most Curlies since he is crossed with a warmblood and gets excited by all the noises. After he spooked about 3 times I decided he needed to get his attention on something else so we braved the trot in an open field. He did great and wasn't trying anything naughty so I let him canter... it was beautiful! Nice and slow, collected and he was listening to me. We ran up a big hill and by the time we got to the top he couldn't have cared less about the noises. We even saw an 8 point buck that jumped out infront of us. He spooked a little but then dropped his head and walked on.

We also did our first "jumpers" show two weeks ago. He was awesome! We had 1 refusal mostly because 1) I looked down 2) we didn't get to school over fences because I was busy watching the class before warm up.

Here are some photos of us jumping. (don't mind my poor jumping position I'm working on the leg thing)

We had our dressage test first.. Overall decent but we picked up the wrong lead on one of our circles.
This was the jump after I made him go over the one he refused. I think he was secertly telling me off like "Fine you want me to jump, I'll jump!" What is it with Curlies over jumping?

He always picks his feet up so fancy.

This was the first roll top we've ever jumped. He kept looking down at it when we were practicing.

Well that's it for now I have some video of old shows that I'll try to get up now that we can relax a little.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Another Cowboy Trick

Dear Reader,
Lyle and I continue to work on yielding. We have been riding in places that I know he would not like. One of these places was the old vegetable garden that has been disked, plowed up and put "to bed" for the winter. I purposely took him there because I know that he would object. And he did. He reverted back to his old habit of being "cold jawed" and he tried to run away. I did not feel like using the reins because I was real sure he would not obey them. So I used an old cowboy trick. I reached forward and turned him using the bridle itself. After that turn, which was very gentle because I had a good hold of the bridle cheek piece and good leverage, Lyle started to obey better.
Lyle and I just continue to work on yielding and over coming his "cold jawed" problem. For me there is a lesson here. It is simple: The human being must always remember that a horse is an animal and NEVER get his or her ego or pride tied up in any horse. I will continue to work Lyle because that is here my heart has called me. But there can be no ego involved here. It must only be for the good of the horse.
In the picture Lyle is about to run away. Turning him with the bridle cheek piece kept him from running off with me. I remember that Mr. Bill Dorrance spent a long time riding his mare Beauty before she became trustworthy. I have a feeling that the same will be true for Lyle and I. But we will get there.
Penny Johnson
Kootenai Curly Horses
Bonners Ferry, Idaho USA

Linus has a new skill on his resume too Chester!

Linus is learning to check the cows and fence. Oursis electric so no painting required! So while Angie was on her sofa (Chesterfield), Linus was working.   ; )
We first took Allie up to the barn. She is my Dad's half Arab and hasn't been through a regular sized door since having been beaten out of her last barn for going inside too far past her stall. Linus is her support. He doesn't go before her because she has to build some confidence in herself but we stay close. Calm and steady. She did it! My Dad was so proud and you could instantly see her new level of trust. Linus has been going through that door since he came home so he was fine.
We did have some work to do though. I wasn't impressed with him not standing for mounting the other day so we worked on that today. He stands but the mounting block is new so that was the issue. So after some groundwork we tacked up and stood. Dad asked if I wanted him to hold Linus but I said no since we were working on it. (Allie needs the same work)
So we stood with me on the ground. He did awesome until I stood on the box then he wanted to face me! So we worked on that. After ten minutes I got on with hin standing still. Next lesson is staying still until I say go!
We walked up the laneway and to the corner of the road and back. A tack test! I survived my longest ride so far in the english saddle. Does that ever work different muscles! But it is comfy.
on the way back we checked the weanling heifers. Linus loves this! He likes to try to play with them.
one more day of rest til the November challenge!

Groundwork with Voelie

Today it was Voelie's turn to do some 'work'. I took her out and first groomed her and tackled her matted mane (again...) it is really long and comes below her neck but it is not all long because she rubbed parts of it and we lost quite a bit with trying to keep the matts out. Maybe at some point I will cut it all but for now I will keep it like this (I love long mane on a horse:)
I took Voelie to stand next to a mounting block. I am not mounting her but I want her to learn to stand next to one and when I lean over her back I want her to learn that she can see me kind of above her back. I practiced this with Voelie, all the time patting on her back and talking to her so that she knew I was there. She did really well and I was very proud of her. She is starting to grow up but is still my baby horse:)

Chester adds a new skill to his resume

Hello Curly friends,

 Yesterday, we had a busy day at Golden Curls Ranch. First thing in the morning my wonderful sons, Andrew and Nicholas, help unload 50 bales of coastal hay. Yep, at the cost of $10 a bale it is premium stuff in our neck of the woods. 

 Then Chester and I inspect the fence and everyone is ready to grab a paint brush. Chester is the most versatile Curly Stallion. He can add painter to his resume.

P.S. These photos are for our wonderful Curly friends in Ontario, Donna and Linus. Chester and I are enjoying the sunshine while painting our new fence. My son's even took their shirts out for my sun bathing....only in the Lone Star State{:>

And, to make our day complete my Chester took me for a lope around the arena. Wahoo, what a man!


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Training with Suri

I'm getting Suri ready for the november challenge (just to join in the talk about it on the blog:) and had a nice training ride today in the outdoor arena. I rode together with two others and Suri was doing good. Her energy level is not very high (not supercharged yet) but we had some nice moments. We worked on the dressage a bit and practicing the side passing.
The only thing was that she was very unhappy about the other horses in the arena having her ears all the way back when the passed her. I've never seen this with her beacuse we often ride out together. Suri was also being quite aggressive with Voelie last week. They almost ruined their shelter because Suri kept on kicking Voelie and Voelie was in the shelter and could not get out. Later they were grazing side by side looking very happy.. We decided to change the shelter just in case it happens again by taking out one of the side pannels (the shelter is now closed on two sides instead of three) so that Voelie cannot get caught in a corner without escape options.
Towards me Suri is friendly as ever so I hope her mood changes and she enjoys the other horses again too!


That title is for you Angie and after the short ride we had yesterday in the yard I can tell you Linus is definitely supercharged!
We started with groundwork under saddle so I could monitor the fit of the new saddle on him while he's moving. Looked great.
I brought over an old wooden box to use for mounting and what a help that was! We set off around the yard. I love this little ride we do. The lawn is like a park and its so serene. Reminds of the scen from Black Beauty where he talks about the pleasantness of Bertwick Park : )
We were having a great ride. I wore heavier denim jeans this time and it wasn't nearly as slippery! Then Allie really started flying around and calling for Linus. He got excited and wanted to go too but I am very proud to say he still respected me. I could feel him wanting to let loose but he did great. I eventually did dismount for safety. He's young and I don't want to set up a situation that could be avoided. I think we made the right choice in our saddle. He's much more comfortable in it. It will be more of an adjustment for me!
But we're definitely ready for November!

Friday, October 28, 2011

What the Heck is My Pony Looking At?

OH, he must be looking for the other 77 of you that have not paired up for the November contest yet.

Saddle Up!

3rd time appears to be a charm and the all purpose english saddle I got Linus fits him like a charm and he mich prefers the girth on it. It looks so small on him compared to the western! And I have dedinitely graduated to needing a mounting block to get on him. We need to revisit the whoa while mounting lesson. He tried to keep getting to grass yesterday. A helper to hold him would have been faster but I want him doing it on his own. When I did get him to focus better he stood like a statue and even waited for me to adjust the stirrups. The saddle was surprisingly comfy but I found the seat to be pretty slippery. Id rather do something at the seat to fix this rather than making sure I always have the same pants on!
Linus loves a challenge and I think he is very geared up for the challenge to start on Tuesday! Maybe I should dress him up for Halloween first! That would be fun.
I hope more riders have signed up! Denise does a fantastic job running the RAC and its challenges. I think a great way to say thank you is to participate! And then have lots of fun!
Donna & Linus

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Grab a partner and saddle up for November's RAC Challenge.

Hello Curly friends,
Me again, I just wanted to say hey if you haven't signed up to the November do it today. In addition to having wonderful Curly Horses we Curly folks like to have lots of fun. So grab a partner and let's saddle up.
Angie and Chester

Autumn Photos from Golden Curls Ranch

Hello Curly friends,

I've been busy with our wonderful American Honey and at my age it takes a bit to recuperate from all the fun. So, Honey and I rested for a few days but I couldn't stay out of my saddle. So here a few shots I took from atop of my saddle while riding my sweet stallion, Chester. 
Angie in Texas

Another great Day for Ozzie !

Here's the latest update on my favorite pupil.  He's hitched to his Aunt Nimue's cart. I made some adjustments to the harness -- trading out the traces for longer ones, lowering the tug loops. I still am not content with the fit so we are going to work on that over the next few days. However - Even with a poor fit -- take a look at Tuesday's accomplishments !

I generally begin the school day with some exercises in the indoor. This warms him up and gets Ozzie supple - mentally and physically. Also this work prepares for his under saddle training which will come down the road.  We do a lot of walking with circles at every corner of the indoor -- walking figure eight's.. and of course the same lesson with a trot.

Hitched to the cart - we repeat the ground driving down in the big ring. This is Ozzie's second trip into the big ring.

Working on all sorts of turning. The driving whip is mainly for an aid in cueing Ozzie. If he is ever to become a nice driven dressage pony - he'll need to understand those cues. If I can - I like to lay the foundation for all possibilities for his future.  A good whoa is probably the most important feature in driving :) You are not going to use a one rein quick stop when your horse is inside the shafts.

Ozzie is fairly talented with the tighter turns - learning to push the cart over with his shoulder and learning to side step his way through the turn. And I guess you all can tell, it's quite the blustery day on the hill today !

Ozzie is doing so well and I can tell his mood is open and willing.  SO......

I have to mention that normally I wear my helmet when driving.  I was not thinking and forgot to pack it with me when I went down the drive way into the big ring. I hope everyone always wears their helmets !!

I am so incredibly happy with my student....  I said to Zoe .. I should have called him the Wizard of OZ !!  because he obviously is the wizard of carts :)

and I'll mention again -- he's for sale.. all of you who want a nice gelding who will soon be every bit the driving pony that his Auntie Nimue is !!

He even pulled me back home - I like this photo with my little sausage dog following along. 

Betsy and Ozzie in Vermont

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Wow what a saddle challenge Linus is giving me. I took pictures and sizes into a local tack shop. The lady helping me loved his build. She loved his depth and high wither as she helped me with saddle girths and saddle pads.
I bought a used all purpose saddle (english) which is something I never thought I would do but its the perfect fit for him right now. When he's done he will, like his parents, need full quarterhorse bars in his western.
He got off the hook today for a trial ride since I had to return the girth as it wasn't long enough. He and Allie were full of it though and had a lot of fun today.
The crust of a round bale was in the pasture and Allie ran circles around it snorting and blowing. I let Linus go and he ran straight for it and right through it...thus immediately putting Allie at ease and making me laugh!
Now for the other challenge...there is a fair bit of fun and teasing rivalry already brewing for the November challenge. We don't know what we're in for but we know it will be fun! Free and fun...thinking that should be good motivation to sign up. So that had a few of us wondering why at the top of this page it says 100 riders participating and only 8 have entered (as of Denise's last email)
I'm fairly new to the RAC but all of you and the mini challenges have helped me to train Linus and gave me some awesome ideas I never would have known about.
There's still a few days to sign up...join the fun!!!
Donna & Linus

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Lyle is "Feeling Back To Me"

Dear Reader,
Lyle is really starting to feel back to me now. He has literally shown me how to hold the reins so that he can give me a good and clear yield. Please study the enclosed pictures and you will see what Lyle told me to do in my own heart and spirit. Lyle has, of his own free will and goodness, chosen to allow me to keep him from hyper flexing and over bending.
I am thankful.
Penny Johnson
Bonners Ferry, Idaho

The Ocean Beach Videos

Here is the first video I took when we arrived down on the beach.
This video shows the clam flats.
Here is a 360 degree view. The weather was spectacular, and luckily I had the foresight to wear sunglasses because I am farsighted and would have been squinting terribly.
Ok, this is the "oopsie" video with the little spook that I talked about in my first post. Remember, no worries, I just had to bring my hand down for balance. Guess if I left my hand up, you would have had a REALLY good look at the sand, ha ha! Oh, there were a couple of accidents on the beach that day, but everyone will be ok. Glad I didn't see either of them!
Here's a little bit of foxtrot. You can see how the skies have darkened up from when we first came.
And, my last video (enough, enough already!!!!) which has another 360 and shows some of the other horse herds on the beach. Thank you for putting up with me hogging the blog with two posts. As you can probably tell, I was THRILLED to be able to get back out to the ocean with my fabulous Curly *RCR Ah-D-Das, and I hope you enjoyed taking this trip to the coast of Maine with us! -Susan and Didder

A Spectacular Maine Coast Ride

Join Ah-D and Susan on an ocean beach ride!
For six months I have been planning to take my beloved Didder up to Popham Beach on the coast of Maine, and on Sunday my dream finally came true. What a fantastic day we had! I traveled up with my friend Ulla and her beautiful Morgan Gabby.
This was Gabby’s first trip to the ocean, and Ah-D’s second. I knew many of the Mainely Gaiters would be there, but we were astounded to see well over thirty horse trailers in the parking lot! Popham Beach State Park allows horseback riding on the beach October through April, and many horse lovers from around the state were taking advantage of the opportunity. There was so much beach to ride on that I just couldn’t believe it. Everywhere you looked, there were horses in the distance, some large groups of ten or so, and many smaller groups. Ulla and I mostly kept to ourselves, since Gabby has had some bouts of stress colic, and going to the ocean beach is very stressful. Like last year, Didder hated the surf! I didn’t push it, because, what was the point? There was so much beach to ride. We passed clam diggers, seabirds, channels of water, dunegrass, and washed up lobster traps. Some of the tide channels were as deep as Ah-D’s chest. There is a nice-sized little rocky island that can be reached across the clam flats. The salty wind whipped my pony’s mane and forelock. I was in heaven. Many people had finished riding and had their horses down on the sand to roll. After Ulla felt Gabby had had enough, I went back out on the beach with Dani on her Walker Rebel. Ulla was kind enough to catch a snapshot of us heading out. Rebel is one fast horse. On the way back, we let ‘em fly!!! There was plenty of room, and we were down near the ocean where the footing was firm, so I leaned forward and urged Ah-D on. If I thought the wind was whipping before, it was really whipping now! Good thing I was wearning sunglasses so I could see. We ran so far that Ah-D actually volunteered to slow down all by himself. ;0) One cool aspect of that gallop was that Dani was teaching Rebel to hold back, so Ah-D was out in front the whole way. No spooks, no hesitation, just a grand gallop. No pictures or videos of this, ha ha! Dani had to head back…so Ah-D and I went back out for one last hurrah, just the two of us. I took some more video. (in fact, now that I see what I have for pics and video to's probably too much for one post)

I started cantering him near the ocean, but he spooked at a wave…don’t get dizzy watching it, but my camera hand came down to balance me. Don’t worry, I didn’t even come close to coming off, but I did bring him down to a trot after that. My late afternoon pictures show quite the different skyline than my early afternoon ones! I wish I could bottle up some of that fresh, tangy ocean air for you all, because it feels and smells fabulous. If any of you want to ride the ocean beach, remember, October through April in Phippsburg, Maine!