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.
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.
This weekend was the NEATO campout at Arcadia WMA in RI. We logged over 6 hours of saddle time and 29+ miles of riding. It presented the perfect opportunity for our family to test out camping with the travel trailer (without hookups), 5 horses, and multiple days of riding. Friday afternoon I traded in the Acadia for a used Chevy 2500HD. It was a decision Anna and I have been debating for a while and we finally found the deal we were looking for. Within about an hour of driving the truck off the lot, it was hooked up to the travel trailer and we were headed out to set up camp.
While the camping area only had a few others staying over, we practiced setting up in a compact manner as will need to at endurance rides. It took about an hour and a half to set up camp. We made 5 electric fence paddocks for the horses (each horse in a separate paddock). None of the paddocks shared sides so if any 1 horse runs through their fence, it doesn’t result in other loose horses.
Once the horse were settled in, we cooked some burgers on the grill and at dinner (a little after 9)!
One of the major advantages of this weekend was the proximity to home. Anna left before 10 and went home (less than 20 minutes away) to take care of the dogs, rabbits, and horses not at camp. With temperatures in the 50s overnight, we slept great and the horses were not bothered by bugs.
We got up Saturday morning and cooked eggs and bacon for breakfast. Alex spent all his spare time reading books and finished 3 books over the weekend.
The temperatures on Saturday stayed in the 60s. We had a couple of small rain showers early, but nothing too bad. We finally headed out about 10 for our morning ride. The horse/rider combos were Rob on Mojo, Anna on Amira, Alex on Teddy, Vicki on Duchess, and Amanda on Huey. We got in 11 miles before lunch at about a 4.5mph average. The point of the weekend wasn’t speed, but rather logistics. We spent time working on things like walking horses into water, fueling the riders, and taking turns with leading the group.
While drinking from the creek, Amira and Huey both slid off the sand bar and went for a swim. What is a “little deeper” for Amira was a complete swim for Huey. Amanda loved it. When we took them in a pond for water, Amira discovered it was fun to splash lots of water up onto her belly.
Overall, it was a good morning ride. All the horses had excellent heart rate recoveries and were happy to eat some hay and drink some water when we got back to camp. We had lunch and then retired to the trailer for an afternoon rest (also known as napping).
We went back out for another slow and easy ride before dinner that was just shy of 5 miles. Dinner was tacos in the trailer and then we joined up with some others for a campfire. Again, Anna headed home to take care of the others. It’s easy to get kids to go to bed after 3.5 hours of riding.
Sunday morning was a little slower starting as we slept in a little. More eggs and bacon to start the day and then we saddled up to ride. The temperature was a little warmer (70s) and a little more humid. The horses were all a bit calmer than on Saturday. We focused the ride on forced fueling as we had some issues on Saturday with some (Vicki) constantly running out of fuel. This is a recurring issue that we haven’t completely solved. We are making progress, but it comes down to forcing her to eat every 30-40 min on the trail.
When it was all done, we rode over 29 miles and spent over 6 hours in the saddle. Mojo and Teddy both still pulsed down with no problems. The ponies and Amira were a little slower pulsing down after the last ride, but all 3 would have met endurance ride criteria.
We used ALL of the water in the travel trailer. In the future, we will use paper products when dry camping to minimize the use of water for washing dishes.
Horse water. We used over 90 gallons of water for the horses in under 48 hours. That doesn’t include what they drank on the trail. Right now we take a water tank in the trailer that is full, plus 4- 7 gal water jugs that can be refilled. We may add another water tank to the bed of the truck.
Electric fence. Our setup is pretty good they way we have it. We can streamline a few things by adding a few more extension cord reels for storage, but it’s not critical.
Tack. The tack for all the horses is working pretty well. We are debating changing out Teddy’s saddle and bridle setup, but what we have works for now.
Boots. Amira and Huey are still being booted. We had boot problems on Huey 4 times. I think it’s time to put him into shoes. Probably Amira too.
At the end of the weekend, we all had a good time and all the horses are ready to go to Pinetree in 6 weeks. We will continue to train and plan for a week of camping with 5 horses!
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!