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New London County 4H Fair

This past weekend the kids participated in the NLC 4H Fair at the North Stonington Fairgounds.

Friday we arrived and checked in rabbits into the rabbit barn and exhibits into the exhibit hall. Amanda had a k’nex model and submitted her record book. Vicki submitted two pictures of King from last year. Rob stayed at the fair with the kids in the travel trailer and Anna traveled back and forth to home to take care of animals at home. Turbo stayed at the fair all weekend and showed on Sunday.

Saturday Anna brought three horses to the fair and there was a showmanship and trail clinic, followed by a costume class and some games in the arena. Then horses went home mid afternoon and rabbit showing commenced. Amanda showed as a novice (first year) and won, Alex and Vicki are both seniors this year, and got a third and fifth respectively. Amanda’s friend Olivia spent the night at the fair Saturday night.
Sunday brought dog showing in the am for Vicki and Amanda both showing Turbo, who was a good sport in the heat. They did showmanship and obedience, both earning blue ribbon scores for obedience. The kids participated in rabbit hopping and 4H Olympics and Alex did the robotics challenge and placed third.

Sunday Anna brought Huey and Duchess back for Huey to be used in the Premier Showmanship competition. Duchess was along for companionship. Huey had to do the same pattern for 8 senior 4Hers. A few competetitors held on to him a bit like a cow, pushing his head up and holding the reins too tight, which he wasn’t a fan of, but overall he behaved himself and it was pretty clear which kids were more horse savvy.

The fair ended Sunday afternoon wit awards and Amanda won a best in show award for her model.The kids and adults were exhausted. Enjoy a heap of pictures in no particular order…

4H State Horse Show

On July 14th we headed to Tolland for the CT State 4H Horse Show.

In 4H you have to do a showmanship class and that is first on the agenda. Amanda got to go FIRST of everyone. Yeah Amanda!

Vicki and Duchess were next and Duchess had a fit when she could no longer see Mojo. She was calling for him through the whole showmanship sequence. And not standing still…but she looked pretty.

Alex showed Mojo. They did fine. Which about sums up how Alex feels about doing a showmanship class.

After showmanship, there was a costume class. Both Amanda and Vicki participated.

Amanda showed Huey in walk trot. They did well showing off lead in their first ride around the ring show. She tried her hand at a trail class and they did ok, with Huey only refusing the bridge (he is not a fan on trail either).

Vicki showed in Jr WTC flat classes and 18″ hunter classes. Duchess was hot at the canter with all the other horses cantering and more of a jumper than hunter in the jump ring, so it was more of a learning experience than a success story. They did come home with ribbons though.

Alex showed in Sr English flat classes and 18″ hunter classes. Alex and Mojo looked fab together, but had some confusion in the canter lead department. We also need to discuss the difference between a road trot and working trot. LOL. They jumped all the jumps, albeit sometimes a tad fast…Did not get any pictures of Alex riding, because I was holding onto Huey at that point.

The CT State Horse Show is held for those counties in CT that do not have many participants and do not put on their own county horse show at the 4H fair. New London County is one of those counties and the top senior showmanship scorer goes on to compete in Premier Showmanship at the 4H Fair at the North Stonington Fairgrounds at the end of July. Instead of a show the fair holds a Horse Demo to still have horse presence at the fair.

Catching up

As most of our friends and blog followers know, we stay pretty busy.  Lately, that has been an understatement.  While I would like to be going to bed right now, I feel we are way overdue for a blog update, so I’ll get to it with a few recent highlights.

The kids participated in the Mystic Pony Club summer camp last weekend.  Alex took Mojo, Vicki took Duchess, and Amanda took Huey.  The temperatures were in the mid to upper 90s every day, but the kids did 2 lessons each day.  Heather Navarrete was the instructor for 5 of their lessons and all 3 kids made very good progress on their eventing.  Alex and Mojo turned out to be an excellent match.  Amanda and Huey even did a small cross country course on the last day of camp.

Here are a few videos of the kids practicing cross country and pictures from camp.

Alex and Mojo cross country lesson

Vicki and Duchess cross country lesson

Amanda and Huey cross country lesson

After camp ended, the horses and kids got a couple of days off.  I was fortunate that work gave us an extended 4th of July holiday.  On Thursday, Alex and I went to the Mystic Seaport for a blacksmith private class.  We spent 3.5 hours in the shop learning about tending a coal forge, different tools, and actually making some hooks.  This is something Alex has been interested in for a while so we bought some lessons for his birthday last month.  I have been working on acquiring some tools so we can do some projects at home.

On Saturday, we took Mojo and Duchess to the Horse Power Farm jumping derby.  Alex rode Mojo in the pre-elementary division.  They did pretty well with only 1 refusal.  Alex was a little surprised at how hot Mojo was on the course because Mojo is so lazy in the warmup.  It was a little funny to watch Mojo come alive out in the open.

Vicki rode Duchess in pre-elementary and also had 1 refusal (on the same jump as Alex).  They are still making good progress as a team.

After they finished, I rode Mojo in Beginner Novice.  My ride didn’t go quite as smoothly as I was thrown on the 7th jump.  I was allowed to get back on and finish schooling, but then had 3 refusals on the last jump.  Clearly we have work to do.

Today was the West Greenwich Horseman’s Association Hunter Pace #2.  The whole family rode the 10 mile course and we took 1st place in the Hilltopper and Junior divisions.  I didn’t take but a couple of pictures, so here is one:

The schedule for the summer is packed with horse activities, but that’s just what we do.

 

Leaps and Bounds

This past Saturday Rob, Alex and Vicki took their horses to Horsepower farm for the first Crosscountry Derby of the year.

Unfortunately, Alex came off Dakota during the warm up and hurt his right foot by slamming it straight into the ground. He sprained the big toe on his right foot. Therefore he opted not to jump his course. After a trip to the Backus ER to rule out a fracture he is benched for a week with a walking boot. He has a follow up appointment on Friday of this week for a repeat xray to make sure of no broken bones. He has a mystery bruise in the middle of his foot in addition to the toe hurting so who knows.

Rob rode Mojo in the elementary and beginner novice divisions. Vicki rode Duchess in the pre-elementary division.

Rob did well and placed 2nd in elementary and third in beginner novice. As always he rode too fast…

Vicki decided not to ride with a crop and regretted her decision when Duchess didn’t want to trot away from her friends. Hm, I think someone learned a lesson…Vicki did get Duchess to go, but her time suffered. They did get over all the jumps and there were no unplanned dismounts.

Sunday the kids were all supposed to ride at the Pony Club games rally. Vicki and Alex were signed up to ride on a junior games team. Alex was unable to ride with his foot injury. Alexis stepped up and rode Duchess as fifth member of a Mystic scramble team with the White Mountain Region Team Starstruck. She was originally signed up to be the advisor for the grasshoppers, but there was a C sibling to one of the games riders that stepped up to help (Thank you Clara!). Vicki rode Devil and made the weigh in…she sure loves that pony. Devil is 12 hands and has a rider weight limit of 117 pounds(boots and helmet included). The team did well, considering they had never trained together, earning a 2nd overall, 3rd horse management. At a rally, as opposed to a show, the way you prepare and take care of your horse for the day counts as part of your score, and goes into the overall score, making your games play and horse care equally important. Vicki had some great games (bending, balloon, and mug shuffle) and a few not so great games (pyramid, toolbox) where Devil decided to run home without stopping. Switching Devil to a games legal bit really affected her whoa.We might try a mullen pelham next time(no jointed leverage bits allowed).

Amanda rode on a grasshopper pairs team and joined forces with Victoria McCallum from Oakendale on her pony Tink. They were the “Giddyup Girls”. They rode well and got first horse management, second overall. Amanda rode by herself for most of the games except when having to get on and off for corrections and for safety at handoff (since the ponies didn’t know each other).

After the games rally the girls were very excited about games and talking about possible National Intent for next year…to be continued.

Treasure Hill Farm’s Spring schooling jumper show

Spring has been late in arriving here in New England so our trail/distance riding is behind schedule.  As a result, we have decided to defer some of our endurance goals for this season and will likely wait until August to do our first endurance event at Pine Tree in Maine.  Instead of a distance focus, we are going to put more effort into our eventing goals and Treasure Hill Farm’s Spring schooling jumper show was a low-key way to kick that off.

Warm-ups were in the indoor arena while the actual classes were held in the outdoor arena.  Everyone wore Mystic Pony Club shirts, and used their Mystic Pony Club saddle pads and ear nets to help advertise for Pony Club.

Amanda rode in the ground poles class.  Her first round was on a lead line with Anna.  The class was placed according to time to complete the round and Amanda was 5th of 5.  Since it was a schooling show, for a small fee you can re-do a round and Amanda elected to ride a second time without Anna in the arena.  It went very well and I suspect Amanda will be unlikely to consent to a lead line class ever again.

Alex and Vicki both started with the 12″ cross rails class.  This class was placed based on the time to complete the course.  Vicki placed 2nd of 5 and Alex was 3rd of 5.  Alex was definitely a little timid in his first round and a little behind on his timing.  He was nervous that Dakota was going  to spook at things in the arena, however, since that didn’t occur, he was much more confident in the second class.

Alex and Vicki both rode in the 18″ cross rails class.  Vicki took 1st and Alex was 2nd of 9 entries.  Both of them improved over their first round and Alex in particular had a huge smile as he exited the arean.

Alex was content with his 2 classes, however, Vicki decided to give the 2′ class a try.  She had 1 refusal which she feels was more her fault for looking down at the jump.  She placed 3rd of 4 in this class, but was still very happy with the ride.

A week in Chile

It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

I spent the past week in the Valparaiso area of Chile having meetings with the Chilean Navy, including a session with the CNO. Of all the trips I have been on, this was one of the better ones. The food was pretty good, but the wines were excellent. The only real disappointment was the coffee – most of it was instant coffee.

I manages to get 3 good runs in along the coast and 1 bike ride in the hotel exercise area.

There were a few things that jumped out at me during my trip. The first is fitness. It is amazing how overweight Americans are relative to the rest of the world. I truly believe there are some serious health consequences in what Americans have accepted as “the standard American diet” and it shows dramatically when you travel outside the US.

I also saw people who were happy with less. We (Americans) seem obsessed with the next new thing. Our kids go from holiday to holiday looking for the next big present. Yet, in Chile, the average family lives in houses that are 1/2 (or less) the size of Americans. They don’t collect the stuff we do but they are just as happy. As I went out for my runs, I saw families walking together, couples holding hands, and people exercising every day.

We did have a couple of earthquakes during the trip. Of note, there was a 4.7 that woke me up on the 3rd night.

Overall, I found Chile to be a fascinating place to visit and I would definitely return, in particular, to spend time in the mountains.

Easter Weekend

This past weekend we took it easy. Relatively.

On Thursday we took 6 horses out on the trails with the help of Alexis. We rode around 5 miles.

On Friday we stripped stalls and cleaned pastures while Rob removed two dump loads of manure and got 3 yards of stall fill to level our stalls. We added stall fill to the stalls and half a dump load of sawdust.  That took most of the day.

Saturday morning Rob helped Carrie and Alexis cut and remove three downed trees from their pasture while we did chores and then the family headed off to the Kingston bike path. Vicki had added an entry to our calendar two months ago to go roller blading on the bike path and we made good on our promise. Rob and I brought our bikes and the kids brought roller blades. Rob was pulling our bike stroller, just in case we had tired kids halfway through. Turns out the stroller works well for standing behind and hitching a ride. Alex skated the whole way to the ice cream shop in Wakefield, which is 5.5 miles, while his sisters hitched a standing ride every now and then. I think Vicki underestimated the work required to skate 5 miles! After ice cream, Rob helped a fellow biker with a flat tire (cause that is what he does) and I decided to roller blade back and let Alex ride my bike. He has the same shoe size as me now, so it all worked out.  Amanda rode in the trailer on the way back, and fell asleep. Vicki skated a lot less and hung on the back of the trailer quite a bit on the way back.

On Sunday the kids had an egg hunt in the yard and then we headed off for lessons at Horsepower Farm with Ann Bowie. We brought 4 horses and rode in pairs. It went well, and everyone has some home work.

After we got back from lessons we chilled for the rest of the day, so much so that this is what we woke up to Monday morning:

National Junior Honor Society

Thursday night Vicki and I joined 34 of her class mates at Griswold Middle School for her induction into the National Junior Honor Society. The requirements to join were an average grade point of 93 or higher and a record of leadership, service, citizenship, good behavior, scholarship, and character. Griswold Middle School nominates students based on their grades from 6 quarters starting in 6th grade. They are then required to fill out an application detailing their record of achievement in order to be inducted as members in NJHS. Our family is very proud of Vicki’s hard work and we hope she keeps it up for years to come. Below is a short clip from the cermony.

Vicki looks beautiful in her new dress.
Chapter members light candles and read passages about the pillars of NJHS.
Waiting to receive her certificate.

No Child Left Behind

It’s been a while since we posted, but that doesn’t mean nothing has been going on.  This year, we are participating in the Green Bean Endurance Challenge.  We are the only team that is a full family (I think) and our team name is “No Child Left Behind”.

Since we have 7 horses and plan to ride a lot of miles this year, we have been working on getting in slow conditioning miles rides.  The weather hasn’t been very cooperative, but today was decent, so we saddled up 5 mounts and headed out.  We rode for just under 2 hours and only covered about 7.5 miles.  The goal wasn’t speed, but rather restoring fitness that has been lost through the winter.

I rode Mojo, Anna rode Dakota, Alex rode Teddy, Vicki rode Duchess, and Amanda rode Huey.  Amira and Devil stayed home for this outing.  As I mentioned last fall, we are going to be riding in shoes this year.  So far, Mojo and Teddy are both shod all the way around and Devil has front shoes.  I’ll be honest, I’m really impressed with how much nicer Teddy moves in shoes over boots.  I am working on spreading out the herd’s shoeing schedule so all 7 are not due at the same time.  The move to shoes from boots (after 12 years riding without shoes) is a big shift for our family and has come due to a number of reasons.

First, is quality of the boots.  I have given my honest feedback to the boot companies.  I have seen a decline in the quality of a number of boot products and I’m frustrated with the constant wondering what will fail next.

Second is cost.  Yes, I am a dealer for multiple boot companies which means I get boots at a discount.  However, I also don’t pay labor for the shoeing.  Based on the decline in quality, we are wearing out boots faster than in years past.  That coupled with the increased cost of the hoof boots means it is now cheaper for our family to ride shod horses over booted horses.  This wouldn’t be the case if we were paying for my labor expense associated with shoeing.  For perspective, I recently found a receipt for a pair of Epics we purchased in 2006 for $102.  Those same boots today, purchased from the same retailer, would cost $199.82!  I’m not sure what all is driving the cost of boots up, but it is driving me away from using the product.

The last factor is convenience.  Let’s be honest.  Booting gets tedious.  It’s really nice to pick out a hoof and ride without having to pound boots on all the hooves.

Due to all the rain, we crossed plenty of water.  The creek running near the entrance of Pachaug turned into a water-crossing training site.  It was between 2.5-3′ deep and everyone went through it (some a few times).  Here’s a short video of the kids crossing the creek.  Enjoy the pictures from our ride!

Fun and games with horses

After weeks of frigid temperatures, this weekend was a welcome relief with highs in the upper 40s.  Saturday morning, Alex took Dakota out for a short solo trail ride.  Saturday afternoon Vicki rode Duchess and Amanda rode Huey at Pony Club games practice.  This was Duchess’ first group practice and she did awesome.

This morning started with 4 hours of tack and tack room cleaning to kick off the ride season.  After a break, we tacked up for a ride.  As usual, I took Mojo and Vicki rode Duchess.  Alex rode Teddy, which will be a regular occurrence this year as they will be competing together at endurance rides.  Amanda elected to ride Devil, which was interesting, as Devil is a lot hotter on the trail than Huey.  Finally, Anna rode Amira for their first time in the woods.

Here is a short video of our group trotting (and maybe a little cantering) up a hill.

We rode for 1:15 which was just about perfect for today.  The temperatures were dropping, but everyone had a good time.  Amira did great – she crossed water without hesitation, took turns leading, following, and bringing up the rear of the group.  Amira fits in well with the herd and had a great first outing.  The sun set before our ride ended and we got to ride in at dusk with another beautiful New England sunset.