Tag Archives: Mystic Pony Club

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.

Eventing and trails

Now that May is coming to an end, our schedule is calming down a little.  Things have been non-stop with music concerts and horse activities.  This weekend, Alex and Vicki participated in the local Pony Club eventing rally at Mystic Valley Hunt Club.  At a Pony Club rally, the parents can help set up the area first thing in the morning, and then the rest of the day is up to the kids.  We arrived at MVHC at 7 and didn’t leave until about 5:45 that evening.  The kids had horse management inspections (including verifying all required equipment was present and labeled), a written test, formal inspections of rider and mount, dressage tests, stadium jumping, and cross country jumping.  Parents are not allowed in the areas at all, so it is all up to the kids.

Eventing Rally Team L-R Alex, Nina, Vicki, Christina, Alexis
Eventing Rally Team
L-R Alex, Nina, Vicki, Christina, Alexis

It was a long and hot day, but the team managed to keep their spirits up and had some good rides.  Alex and Nike had great jumping rounds.  The jumping Steward (keeping track of which rider was next and sending them into the arena) turned to me after their first jumping round and said “Is he your son?”  I said yes.  She replied, “I was not prepared for how well he would ride.  They are a really good team.”  It perfectly captured Alex.  He was moping around during the course walk and acting like he hated everything.  But as soon as they enter the jumping course, it’s pure business and Alex had a huge smile on his face.

As good as Alex’s day was, Vicki’s was even better.  She rode the best dressage test I have ever seen her ride and it was reflected in her 69 score.  Then on the stadium and cross country courses, she had clear rounds and loved every minute of it.

At the end of the day, the team won 1st place in Horse Management and 5th overall.

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Yesterday was wet and still hot, so we gave the horses a break.  This evening, we decided to head out for a trail ride.  Alex really didn’t want to go, so he got a pass (I’m sure Nike didn’t mind).  For those who have been following, King had EPM over the winter.  We have been bringing him back into work slowly and are cautiously optimistic that he might actually make it back to competitions this summer.  This evening, Anna rode King, I rode Mojo, Vicki rode Dakota, and Amanda rode Huey.

Amanda is becoming quite the trail rider.  We only rode 5 miles over 1:15, but Amanda was constantly announcing when we needed to trot or walk based on the terrain, although her default is always more speed.  They did plenty of trotting and cantering.  She and Huey are a great team.  Mojo was great.  I love his trail demeanor and he is very level headed.  He is definitely powerful and loves to race, which makes him a great match for me.

Hands down, the best part of the ride tonight was watching King back in work.  King was the first horse that was “my horse”.  We bought him in 2002 for me and he has been a rock star.  The last 2 years have been rough with injuries and illness, but tonight he had every bit of his power back and was moving great.  I look forward to his return to hunter paces.

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Anna and King enjoying the sunset in Pachaug

Pachaug Turkey Trot 2015

Anna and I hosted the first Mystic Pony Club Pachaug Turkey Trot today.  We didn’t have a very large participation from the club, but the kids that rode had a good time.

It was the first time I have ridden Misti in 4 weeks (since the infamous Ayer Mt Hunter Pace).  Misti finished her Oxytetracycline for her Lyme treatment this morning and has been on Gastrogard for 5 days.  We started with Anna working her on the lunge line for about 20 minutes.  Then Anna rode her for a while in the arena.  Then I rode her in the arena.  She got a break while we tacked up the rest of the crew and then we mounted up for some more work in the arena as everyone warmed up.  It was so nice to have a good ride.  I was very anxious about how she would behave, and she was great.

During the warm up, Amanda worked on her trotting with Huey.  You can watch the video here.  During the trail ride, Anna kept a line from Dakota to Huey to prevent him from deciding to head home early.

Once everyone was ready, we headed out for a nice 4.5 mile ride.  It was Alex on Nike, Christina on Saffron, Alexis on Ace, Vicki on Devil, Amanda on Huey, Anna on Dakota, and I was on Misti.  We crossed water, encountered vehicles, hikers, and bikers with no drama.  I have to say, the Best Pony Award goes to Dakota.  He is just a rock star on the trails and doesn’t care if the lead line to Huey wraps around his legs, under his tail, or anywhere else.  That pony is one of the best chances we ever took.

The bottom line is, we had a great day enjoying the outdoors and riding as a group.  Misti spent over 3 hours under saddle and redeemed herself.  Amanda rode Huey for 2 hours straight.  I hope everyone else had a good conclusion to their holiday weekend.  Enjoy the pictures.

 

Endurance Training and pony pictures

If you aren’t interested in the endurance training discussion, go ahead and jump to the end for the pony pictures.

First, through the support from her original breeder and others, we now have a registered Part-Shagya Arabian (and a slight correction to her name spelling).  The North American Shagya Association has transferred Mistique Lady’s registration to me!

On Sunday, Anna and I each did our training rides alone.  While we plan to ride our first endurance ride together in October, we need to be ready in case something happens and one horse can’t finish.

So, instead of using my Garmin 310XT to monitor Misti’s heart rate on our training ride, I decided to wear my HRM and see how many calories I burned. I keep a separate HRM/transmitter for my running and biking to make it easier to switch between events.
It was in the upper 70s here in CT and we rode 10.8 miles at a 5.8 mph average, which is a normal training pace for us.
I burned an average of 366 calories per hour.
My average heart rate was 112 bpm for 1:52. In comparison, my average running heart rate is usually around 150 for trail running 4-7 miles.

While 366 calories isn’t a big deal, riding for 5 or 6 hours changes things. Suddenly you have burned 1700-2000 hours during a 30 mile LD. While there are many people who can handle that without a problem, you need to know if YOU can. If you can’t handle that much of a calorie deficit, start eating a little snack every hour on your ride to reduce the deficit. It’s just like training for a human only endurance event. The goal isn’t to take in the same amount of calories you burned, but rather to reduce the deficit.

Figure out what works for you during your training rides, even if they are only an hour or so. That Slim Jim may taste good driving down the road, but the greasy chunks might give you an upset stomach trotting along the trail!

Sunday afternoon, Vicki and Devil joined others from Mystic Pony Club for some jumping lessons in preparation for an upcoming rally.  Here are a few pictures of Vicki and Devil.  She has a bad habit of looking down and right as she goes over the jumps.

When we got home, Anna grabbed a quick cup of coffee and at about 5:45, hit the trails with Dakota for her training ride of the day.  She did about 10.2 miles on pace.  She also had the added bonus of riding in the dark as she made it home about 30 minutes after sunset.  All said, both horses did very well riding solo.

Recently, as I was listening to Vicki get told “Don’t look down when you go over the jumps!” it made me think about trail riding.  Where do you look when trail riding.  I frequently find myself looking at the ground right in front of the horse as we go along.  So, during my ride, I did an experiment.  I deliberately spent a long period of time focusing my eyes 15-20 yards down the trail.  Then, I would shift my eyes to a point only about a horse length out in front.  What I noticed (and expected) was Misti tended to stumble more when I was looking down.  Just like a kid looking down causes a horse to be unbalanced over a jump, looking down on the trails interrupts your horse’s balance.  So, whether you are jumping or just riding on the trails, keep your eyes up!  By the way, it will also reduce the number of missed markers on when you are riding a hunter pace.

In other news, Amanda has been riding Huey a lot more recently.  I think the increase in Vicki’s riding and jumping has peaked Amanda’s interest as well.  As a result, she is working very hard at keeping Huey trotting on her own, working him over ground poles and small cross rails, and even asking to canter.  By next summer, she will be ready to ride at the pony club activities too!

This evening, Amanda saddled up Huey and Vicki got to ride Misti.  Vicki has a crush on my mare and is always asking to ride her.  Of course, Amanda had to sponge down Huey when she was done.  Enjoy the pictures!

Pony Club Horse Trials

Every year, Mystic Pony Club and Shetucket Valley Pony Club put on a show together at Mystic Valley Hunt Club.  It is typically the end of October and one of the last outdoor shows in the area.  It was actually cancelled in 2012 due to snow falling the night before and covering the course.  This year there was no snow, but there was definitely wind.  It was in the mid 50s and windy today.

This was the first time Alex and Vicki did this type of show. The show included dressage classes, 2 phase (dressage and stadium jumping), and 3 phase (dressage, stadium jumping, and cross-country jumping).  Alex and Vicki entered in Grasshopper 2 phase which means they did a walk-trot dressage test and a stadium jump course of 10 jumps up to 18″ in height.  They both also did an extra walk-trot dressage test.  Alexis, Vicki’s friend and one of Anna’s students, rode in 2 dressage tests.

Alex and Nike got 2nd in 2 phase, and 1st in dressage.  Vicki and Devil got 4th in 2 phase and disqualified in dressage because Devil decided to exit the ring a little early.  Both of them rode a clear round in the jumping and had a blast.  Alexis and Huey got 2nd and 3rd in dressage.

 

Lyme Hunter Pace 2014

Anna, Alex,  and Vicki rode Dakota,  Nike, and Devil in the Lune Hunter Pace today.  King has been lame this week so we sat out.
It was 8.9 miles of gorgeous trails and fun jumps. The kids got to do a few jumps and everyone had fun. Vicki has been logging more time in the saddle and did much better at this one compared to the pace in June.
They didn’t place overall, but they did win the Don Siluk Memorial award that is sponsored by Mystic Pony Club.  It is an award specifically designed for pony clubbers and a parent/guardian. The kids are looking forward to a trip to The Paddock to redeem the gift certificate.

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Before the start

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After the finish

WGHA Hunter Pace #3

What does 12 miles in 2:35 on a gorgeous Sunday get you?  1st place in the Trailblazer division for me and 1st place in the Junior division for Alex.  Today was our 3rd hunter pace of the summer and it was a fabulous day.  King and Dakota were rock stars, as usual.

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Alex is getting into the hunter paces and decided that we needed to match (I agreed).  So, we wore our khaki breeches, blue farm shirts, matching Mystic Pony Club saddle pads, matching pommel bags, and even our protective vests match.  While we aren’t setting any record speeds, I require the protective vests to instill good habits for the future when I expect he will want to jump a lot more than now.

 

 

Alex has also started to figure out it’s not always bad that there are not a lot of boys at the horse events…

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Thoughts On A Week At Pony Club Camp

 

Alex and Precious practicing an Intro dressage test.

This past week Alex and Vicki spent five days at Ayer Mountain Farm participating in Shetucket Valley Pony Club’s annual camp. They are part of Mystic Pony Club, but our club had been invited to join them at camp. The ponies stayed at camp all week, but Alex and Vicki came in the morning and went home at night. They had two riding lessons per day and chores and crafts in between. I (Anna) was there every day with Amanda helping out and watching over the kids. It has been an exhausting week, but it was a very rewarding time spent with the kids.

Alex and Vicki warming up for games.

The kids got to experience several different things during the week. Besides regular instruction twice a day they also tried fox hunting with hounds (in the walk-trot group), Alex got to jump cross-rails for the first time ever, Vicki cantered over ground poles, they both did pony club mounted games and they crossed the water on the cross country course. Alex even got to have a lesson with two other boys his age.  Amanda was quite the little trooper, hangin out all week and she got lots of attention from older and younger girls.

Amanda in the back of the Gator.

So what are my thoughts after spending a week at pony club camp?

Well, I believe Pony Club is good for the kids. It exposes them to other kids who also ride and gives them opportunities to do things with the horses they would not get to do otherwise. Horse kids are generally good-natured, hard-working kids. I wish there were more boys involved, but such is life with horses…in a few years Alex may come to appreciate being a boy among lots of girls.

As in any organization, volunteers make a difference. There are individuals out there that sacrifice their time for YOUR children. I wish more parents appreciated this fact, not just in Pony Club, but across the board in kids’ sports and recreational activities. Salute those energizer bunnies that make things happen.

I ‘ve decided I want to ride my horse more. I need to have some sort of goal with my riding. King is 18, but to be honest he isn’t really showing any signs of slowing down. Watching other people ride all week makes me want to ride too.

Being at camp all day made me exhausted and I want to get in better shape. Who wants to be walking around in breeches and a tucked in polo shirt and not be in shape? Besides it will make me a better rider (theoretically).

All in all, we had a great week at camp. The weather was good, the kids behaved, the ponies behaved, and nobody left in an ambulance (though one girl broke her arm and another fractured a rib). Below are some more pictures.

Alex playing games
Alex and Vicki exchanging the baton while playing games