Category Archives: horse

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:

A horse knowledge weekend

This weekend was busy with horse knowledge competitions.  Saturday, Anna went to the CT 4-H Hippology competition with Vicki and Amanda. Vicki and Alexis were competing as Juniors in the 10-13 year old division on a team with another member of the Happy Hoofbeats 4-H Club.  Amanda was in the Novice division, 7-10 year olds, that all compete as individuals.  Hippology consists of a written test, slide identifications, stations, horse judging videos and team group questions. Vicki’s team took 1st place in the Junior division and Amanda had the high score for the Novice division.

While the girls were away, Alex spent the day with riding with me to trim some horses, starting with a visit to see Nike.  Alex groomed Nike and was happy to reconnect with his buddy.

On Sunday, Vicki and Amanda went with me to the Regional Pony Club Quiz Rally to represent Mystic Pony Club (along with Alexis).   In this competition, Alexis was competing as a Senior, so it was the first time in a long time that Vicki and Alexis haven’t been on a team for quiz.  Since we only had 2 Juniors, Amanda and Vicki ended up on different teams -but they didn’t mind.

Pony Club quiz is a team competition with team made up of 3-4 individuals. A 3 man team is a disadvantage as a 4 man team can drop the lowest score for each competition phase. The kids also get individual scores which determine individual placings for high score and national intent.  The phases of the competition are written test, stations, barn phase, mega room and class room. The stations score is not included in the individual score because it is a team effort (everyone works together to answer questions).

All 3 girls did a great job.  Alexis got the highest overall individual score and was presented the trophy by Vicki, who won last year.
Vicki had the high score for the Jr D’s and 3rd overall individual.
Amanda is clearly learning from her “sisters” as she was 10 of 24 Jr D’s and actually outscored 3 Jr and Sr D’s with National Intent.

Alexis and Vicki both qualified for Nationals and will be the team captains for the Sr and Jr D teams respectively when they go to Tryon, NC in July.

Meanwhile at home, Anna and Alex went for a 2-hour trail ride on Teddy and Amira.  Amira had a tough time keeping up with Teddy today as he was feeling good and showing off his moves.

Introducing Amira!

If 6 horses are good, 7 must be better!  Today we brought home a 6yo, 15hh chestnut BLM Mustang mare named Amira.  On 2/15/2012, Amira was captured as a yearling from the Stone Cabin Horse Management Area (HMA) located in Nevada.  Here is a link to the information about Stone Cabin HMA. She lived in the holding pens until October of 2015 when she was processed for an internet adoption and shipped to Rhode Island.  She was only started under saddle about 8 months ago by local trainer Jeremy Reid.  We watched Jeremy compete at the Mustang Makeover in 2015 and we were impressed with his talent.  From what we have seen of Amira so far, he did a good job.  Amira went to a new home where she continued to get training, although life commitments led the owner to offer her up for sale.  Amira lived at Outback where we boarded our own horses in the past, and she even had the stall that Precious once occupied.  Anna kept remarking about how similar Amira and Precious look, although Amira has a few inches on Precious (maybe 10″).

Although Amira is 15hh, she has a very narrow build.  Our primary objective with Amira is distance riding and she will fill that niche as a possible mount for multiple family members.  With that said, she is Anna’s horse and Anna will be doing the majority of the continued training with her, including lots of trail work, dressage, and jumping.  We have big goals this year of doing a lot of distance riding and everyone is looking forward to our ride schedule.

It was late when we got home, so I don’t have any pictures from our farm to share, however, I did steal some from her sale ad.

If you want to follow along with the adventures of Amira and the rest of our herd, you can always subscribe via email on our website.

Shoes for Dakota

Four years ago, Dakota joined our family and I pulled his shoes off the day he arrived.  Since 2005, none of our horses have been shod.  I am one of the few hoof boot dealers in the area and for this is my 6th year in business as a Barefoot Trimmer.  Today, my title official changed to Farrier.

Anna and I have had great success with hoof boots and my personal experience is what gives me the credibility as a boot dealer.  After everything I have learned and my years of experience, why would I nail shoes on my horses?  The answer is simple.  I want to learn more.  I have seen hooves that were in horrid condition from years in shoes, but I have also seen horses that had feet that looked great.  I’ll be honest, there have been occasions when I wished I didn’t have the hassle of dealing with boots, but there have been times when I was convinced boots were an advantage. The bottom line is, I don’t believe shoes are evil and I also don’t believe that shoes with proper farrier care is harmful to horses.

Which brings me back to Dakota.  I had considered learning to nail shoes for a long time.  In fact, that was original objective in 2005 when I started asking questions of our farrier at the time.  I am fortunate to have a friend who I believe is one of the best farriers around.  I bought Mojo from Vikki Fortier and our friendship has grown ever since.  Recently, I decided to start using my days of leave from the Navy to spend time working with Vikki to learn about shoeing horses.  So tonight, I nailed my  first set of shoes on a horse.  I know I have a lot to learn, but I am committed to learning.  There are flaws in the job I did on Dakota and I know that:

-The medial heel is too long.

-My nails do not all come out at the same height.

-My clinches are not all the same size.

I am fortunate to have 6 horses here at home that I can work with to improve my skills.  I will continue to sell hoof boots and I will continue my business as a trimmer, but if you see us at a ride, don’t be surprised if you notice the sun glinting off some shiny shoes as the horses trot by.

 

WGHA Fall Fest

It was a warm and humid Fall day today.  Alex and Vicki spent some time at Horse Power Farm working on cross country jumping with Duchess and Dakota.  They learned about correctly riding step-ups and step-downs and then did some course work.  Ann is great at pinpointing little things that will make a significant improvement and tweaking that without getting bogged down.  Duchess was significantly over jumping a jump that frightened her and then challenged Vicki with a few other things, but in the end, they had a good day.

Here are some videos:

Vicki and Duchess part 1

Vicki and Duchess part 2

Vicki and Duchess part 3

Alex and Dakota part 1

Alex and Dakota part 2

After the lessons, we dropped off the horses at home and then headed out to the West Greenwich Horsemen’s Association Fall Fest.  It is a fun potluck dinner and annual awards banquet for the summer hunter pace series.

A part of the Fall Fest is a pumpkin competition.  This year, there were 6 entries.  Amanda and Vicki both put a lot of time into their entries and tied for 2nd.  The voting is silent ballot by all members present.  The Pirate Ship won this year.

This year, Alex, Vicki, and Amanda won the Junior division in the series and came home with customized jackets and ribbons almost as big as Amanda.

 

Save Pachaug!

Pachaug State Forest is being considered to become home to a new State Police gun range.  While I am a big fan of guns, I am not a fan of the negative impact this new training range would have on the largest piece of forest left in the state.  This morning, NEATO held a trail ride to help fund-raise in opposition to the gun range.  Anna was feeling a little under the weather and opted out of the saddle time.  So I took Mojo, Alex on Dakota, Vicki on Duchess, and Amanda on Huey and we did a 14 mile loop through the woods.  I was a great fall morning with temps at 40F when we were loading the horses on the trailer.  We met up with friends and Jennifer Broome joined our clan for the ride on her Nakota, Tex.  This was also Amanda’s longest ride ever (by mileage, not time).  She and Huey may be ready for a limited distance endurance ride (25 miles) next year.

 

A weekend of triathlon and ponies

It was a typical busy weekend for the family.  Saturday morning started out early with the “Proud to Tri” youth triathlon for Alex and Vicki.  It was held at Harkness Park and included an open water swim in the ocean.  The temps were in the upper 40s when we got up but the kids weren’t cold once things got going.  They have been practicing throughout the summer with the Nutmeg Youth Triathlon Team and this was the final event of the season.  The swim was 200 yds, 4 miles on the bike, and a 1.5 mile run.  They both had a good time at the race.

Saturday afternoon, Alexis and Christina came over to spend the night with Vicki and do a trail ride.  Christina brought her horse, Fiona, and Alexis borrowed Mojo.  Alex joined us on Dakota and I was riding Teddy.  Mojo has been getting treated for Lyme for the past 2 weeks and been in a stall with only riding for exercise.  As a result, he was being quite unruly on the trails, so Alexis and I switched mounts after the first mile.  Teddy was a rock star and has turned out to be one of the more reliable loaner horses for trail riding.  The group rode 6 miles and it was a great success for Christina and Fiona in particular, as it was their first trail ride together.

Sunday morning started with chores and loading horses onto the trailer to head out for lessons at Horse Power Farm.  I rode Mojo for my lesson and then Alex rode Dakota and Vicki rode Duchess.  All three of us had outstanding rides and a lot of fun!

Mr King of Broadway

4/27/1994 – 8/14/2017

Today we said goodbye to our friend of 15 years.  We bought King in August of 2002 when we lived in Port Orchard, WA.  It was in the days before we had kids.  King was purchased to be Rob’s horse, as Anna rode Cinder at the time.  Over the years, he became a horse that didn’t belong to any of us, but was a member of the family.  He moved with us from WA to SC to CT.  He taught me how to show horses, ride dressage, jump, hunter pace, trail ride, and so much more.  King would pull kids on sleds in the snow, race through the fields at a full gallop, and be as gentle as you can imagine with a kid in the saddle.  For the few years Anna taught lessons, King was a favorite for the students.  King could be brutally mean to the others in the herd, but would also protect his closest friends.

Over the past 2 years, we watched as EPM took it’s toll on his body and his muscle control and we finally decided it was time  to let him go.  There hasn’t been a dry eye in the family for the past few days as we said our goodbyes.  I can only hope that one day, another horse will be as hard to let go.

Horse Power Farm Cross Country Derby

Ann Bowie is a well-known local instructor that we have used for occasional lessons for years.  At her farm, Horse Power Farm, she hosts cross-country jumping derbies 3-4 times a year.  I have always wanted to participate, but schedules or injuries have never worked out in my favor.  That changed today when I finally made to one of her derbies!

First, I want to say what a well run event it is.  There were tons of volunteers (including our long-time friend Diana Clark!) and it was a great, low-key atmosphere.  Since Mojo and I don’t have a ton of experience, we entered Elementary Division (max height 2′ jumps).  Mojo was a little wound up being alone on the trailer, however, as soon as we got into the warmup ring, he settled right down and got to work.

We jumped a clear round within the time allowed and Mojo didn’t hesitate at anything.  Since the first round went so well, I decided to press my luck and go ahead with riding a round at Beginner Novice (max height 2’7″ jumps).  We have done a few jumping efforts in that range, but never actually put together a full course of efforts until today.

I love this horse!  He jumped another clear round, again within the time allowed.  There are a few nuances to scoring, namely whomever gets closest to the ideal time, without going over, and without any jump faults, wins the round.

Mojo and I got 1st place in Elementary and 2nd place in Beginner Novice and had a blast doing it!

Thanks to Ann and her team for a great day!

Run and Ride

This morning I ran the Griswold Sunflower 6k road race at Buttonwoods Farm.  At only 2.5 miles from the house, it doesn’t get much more local than that.  Before I talk about the results, I want to give an update from my May post “Primal Diet and Fitness“.  If you didn’t read it, or don’t remember it, please go back and take a look.  It has been almost 3 months since that post.  I have continued to follow the Primal diet and training approach for endurance sports.  My weight loss steadied out with my new weight at 164 lbs; I lost 21 lbs.  I may still lose a little more, but I feel great and I definitely feel that I have found a sustainable eating plan.  On the training front, I have continued to limit my heart rate to 140 bpm in my marathon run training.  I am not worried about a specific speed goal.  On Thursday of this week, I did 16 miles in 3:00.  It was my longest run to date and my heart rate did creep up in the heat.  However, I wasn’t crippled from the run and recovered quickly.

With my focus on distance, I haven’t done any speed work at all.  In fact, a sprint triathlon in June is the only other time I have truly tested my speed in the past 4 months.  So today’s 6k race was a little bit of a question mark in my mind; I really didn’t know what kind of pace I could sustain.

It turns out, I was able to run the race in 26:21 for a 7:04 min/mile pace.  That was good enough for 18th out of 566 runners and 3rd (out of 30) in the men’s 40-49 age group.  I can live with that!

After I came home and had some breakfast (I don’t eat before running), we loaded up the trailer with 5 horses and headed to Arcadia in RI.  Today I rode Mojo, Anna rode Dakota, Vicki rode Duchess, Alex rode Teddy, and Amanda rode Huey.  This was a switch up ride for Alex and Anna to test out some things and the first time we have taken Duchess out for a trail ride at a different location.  All the horses behaved for the most part.  Mojo won the “Most Typical Arab” award for his spook at a butterfly flying across the trail.  We didn’t ride too hard and did 10.5 miles in 2:30.  When we got home, it was time to put some steaks on the grill and call it a day.  The weather was great and we made the most of it.