Tag Archives: Teddy

Not every ride is perfect

80+F on Easter?  In CT? That is definitely horse riding weather. After doing a few small projects around the farm this morning, the family went on an afternoon trail ride from home.  We only rode for about 5 miles in 1:20, but there were some important lessons learned.

Amanda is building her confidence and endurance in the saddle on the trails.  She did the whole ride today without any leadline assistance, including 4 small water crossings which are usually a challenge for her on Huey.  She didn’t have any problem handling the trotting.

Vicki rode Duchess.  This is only her second time out on the trails with Duchess and they are making progress.  Today she rode in a bitless bridle and that definitely helped.  It’s definitely different having a mare back in the herd.  Duchess isn’t completely comfortable with all the boys yet and she will threaten to kick or bite any horse that enters her space.  Unfortunately, there were a lot of motorcycles out today as well and in the first encounter, Huey ended up too close and Duchess kicked him, hitting Amanda’s foot.  It didn’t actually hurt Amanda, just scared her.  That also rattled Vicki a little.  Later in the ride, Duchess threatened to kick Dakota when he rode up too close on her butt and it made Vicki really upset.  She decided to get off and walk for a while (about a half mile) and then mounted back up when she had calmed down.  While it may not seem like much, it was an important lesson for Vicki about backing off when her emotions run too high and calming down to handle the situation.

Overall, the ride was a success.  No one got thrown.  No one got hurt.

When we got back home, Vicki stayed on Duchess and joined Mojo and I in the front pasture for a little jumping.  This was the first time Vicki has gotten to taken Duchess over anything other than ground poles.  We didn’t work too long and we kept everything low, but they did very well together.  Vicki has learned to control her canter speed and in the bitless bridle, they seem to be getting along better.  I didn’t have much opportunity to take pictures because I was jumping Mojo (who was a rock star!) but I did shoot a short video clip of Vicki trying a simple approach at the canter.  Despite the challenges on the trail, after over 2 hours of saddle time, she was all smiles as we headed in to the barn.

A slushy ride in the woods

It’s been a while since we posted.  Angel (aka Jellybean) didn’t end up staying with us.  She had too much anxiety and couldn’t handle being away from Devil, so we are back to our 6 gelding herd.  Of course, we finally got a bunch of snow in Feb.  We went from nothing to about 16″ on the ground in a matter of a few days.  Since then, we have been participating in mounted games practices on weekends, but no really riding much at home.

Today, it was in the mid-50s and the snow was melting away.  Anna has been a little under the weather and Alex bumped his head sledding in the woods, so I went on a short ride with the girls.  While the temperature was great, I hate riding in the slush.  It’s pretty, but I don’t like the horses sliding on ice you can’t see.  It was a short ride, but good to get out.

Dakota returns

A few months ago, Dakota left to become an occasional trail pony.  While not every horse that comes to our farm is a lifetime horse (or pony), it was clear in the weeks and months after Dakota left, that both Anna and Alex really missed him and I had rushed the decision to move him on.  This week, we got the news that the girl who had Dakota had a fall and was scared to ride.  Time hadn’t helped the issue and the family was considering passing Dakota along to some other friends, but wanted to check with us first.   Their was no hesitation.  Anna and Alex picked up Dakota on Friday.  We are currently thinking we will keep Dakota as a trail pony and not stress this arthritic issues by doing arena work.  Maybe he will ride in a LD endurance event, but I don’t see 50 mile rides in his future.

This afternoon, I rode Mojo, Vicki rode Teddy, and Anna rode Dakota for a very short route.  Alex and Amanda decided it was too cold to ride since it was in the upper 20s. I was testing a saddle (that didn’t work out), so about 30 minutes was plenty of ride time. Anna enjoyed the reunion (and I think prefers his calm demeanor over the Arabs that Vicki and I prefer).  Welcome home Dakota!

A cold November ride

Alex has not yet gotten to do an endurance ride and Vicki wants to try a 50 this year.  We have told them both, it requires lots of time on the trails for the horse and rider.  Yesterday, it was in the 60s and gorgeous.  Unfortunately, I spent the day trimming hooves (for others) and didn’t get home until after dark.  This morning, it was in the 30s and windy, but we saddled up anyways.  I rode Mojo, Alex rode Teddy (their first trail ride together) and Vicki rode Devil.  It was very windy so we expected the horses to be spooky and flighty.  We were pleasantly surprised to find they were not  much different from a regular ride.  We did a nice loop into some field that we hadn’t ridden on for a couple of years and then headed up into the main part of the forest.  It was wicked cold on top of the hills and we decided to cut the ride a little short.  We ended up only riding 7 miles in 1.5 hours, but Teddy did great with Alex.

After we got back, Teddy and Devil had both worked up a good sweat, so they got coolers and some stall time with hay and water to warm up and dry off.  An hour later, Devil was lame from what we believe was Tying Up.  For those not familiar, it’s basically muscle cramps.  Hand walking helped some.  We dosed him with electrolytes and did call the vet a little to discuss things with her.  If it hasn’t resolved by morning, we will have her out to see if we are missing something.  In the summer, it’s easy to think about adding salt and keeping horses hydrated, but in the winter, we don’t think about it as much.  I suspect Devil was just a little low on fluids before we started the ride and with his thick winter coat, he sweated enough out to cause a minor problem.

Anna also got to take King out for a short 4 mile ride later in the afternoon, but Amanda elected to spend most of the day inside because she doesn’t have enough (read any) body fat to maintain temperatures when it’s blustery out.

A momentous ride for the family

On Sunday morning, there was  a distinct chill in the air, everything was wet from the 3.5+” of rain we received Friday-Saturday, and the wind was blowing steady.  Like many other weekends, everyone was up early and we headed out to the barn to load up horses.  We were headed to the WGHA Ghost Ride at Goddard State Park in RI.  However, this particular Sunday outing was different for 2 important reasons: Amanda got to take Huey on the ride and King was going as well.  Amanda and Huey have been doing a lot of rides from the house and also lessons with Pony Club.  However, until now, Amanda didn’t get to join the family at trail riding events away from home.  They were finally ready to join us on the trails with other riders around.  Last weekend, Alex rode King 4 miles on the trails from home.  King hasn’t left our farm for a ride since the summer of 2014.   He has been combating injury from a tendon strain, Lyme, general arthritis, and more recently, EPM.  In all honesty, after this summer, we thought it was unlikely he would ever go to an organized ride again.

The ride was at Goddard State Park which has 6 miles of bridle paths.  While the trails are open, wide, and scenic, the park is usually crowded.  This weekend we got to share the area with a 5k race being held on the roads of the park.  Alex and King led our group for most of the ride.  Alex describes riding King as “smooth” and “light as a feather” with his floating trot and high energy (but without the spookiness characteristic of the arabs).  I’m sure it also feels different considering King is 8″ taller than Dakota.  Amanda did great controlling Huey.  The temperature definitely sucked the energy out of Amanda faster than normal, so I did put a lead line on Huey for the second half of the 6 mile loop.

While we had the option of doing multiple loops, we elected to stop after 1 successful loop.  Amanda really wants to ride the hunter paces next summer, so she plans to try to ride for longer periods of time.  It is nice for our whole family to be able to ride as a group at the events.

October Updates

It has been almost 3 weeks since we made a blog post.  It’s not that nothing has been blog-worthy, but rather, we have been so busy we haven’t had time to sit down and catch up.

Last weekend was our annual trip to the Hartford County 4-H Camp for Pony Club Columbus Camp.  We took 4 of our horses – Mojo (for Alex and Rob), Teddy (for Vicki), Devil (for Vicki), and Huey (for Amanda).  It started to rain on us Saturday afternoon and rained all day Sunday.  All the kids did 1 lesson in the pouring rain on Sunday and then decided to skip the afternoon lesson.  Devil was getting seriously underutilized and came home on Sunday afternoon.  He was literally climbing the walls in the stall and losing his mind.  He was much happier to be turned out with King when he got home.

Alex ended up riding 3.5 lessons on Mojo, including jumping.  I picked up 2.5 lessons on Mojo and we were able to loan him out for 2 more lessons when another kid had her horse go lame.  In the end, Mojo did 8 lessons in 2.5 days.  And he was awesome for every lesson.

Vicki rode Teddy for 3 lessons and 1 on Devil.  Teddy was calm and cool with Vicki and they were able to work on some jumping.  Amanda did 4 lessons on Huey; we were much more focused on the experience for them rather than a specific lesson goal.  I’m sure we didn’t take nearly enough photos, but here are a few.

The horses were happy to be home after camp.

King standing watch while the group who went to camp sleep in the next morning
King standing watch while the group who went to camp sleep in the next morning

Since Vicki is outgrowing Devil, and Amanda is moving up to ride Devil occasionally, Huey is getting used a little less.  We have decided that he will stick around and become our driving pony.  We were lucky enough to find a harness locally that fit him, so he has been getting worked for some ground driving.  This week, Vicki and Alex both got to start learning how to ground drive Huey.

On Friday evening, Alex and I were able to spend a couple of hours in the stand hunting deer.  We got to see 3 young bucks and 1 doe, but came home empty-handed.  Saturday morning, Alex and I took Mack out for the opening of pheasant season.

Today, we did a family trail ride. King’s health over the past year has been up and down as he combats EPM.  For the last few days, he has been doing surprisingly well.  Today, Alex was able to ride him for an hour covering 4 miles on our trail ride.  All 5 members of our family rode with all 5 of our horses.  Vicki rode Huey since he has been giving Amanda attitude on the trails and Vicki can work the spunk out of him if needed.

Once the ride was over, we did a little work outside and came in for dinner.  Fried pheasant from yesterday’s hunt, rice and gravy, and cole slaw with a cabbage picked from our garden this afternoon.

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There is no question that October and November are my favorite months in New England.

 

Ayer Mt Farm Autumn Daze 2016

2 weeks ago, we rode as a family at the Lyme Trails Association Hunter Pace (aka Lord Creek Hunter Pace).  I rode Mojo with Alex as my teammate on a trial pony, Zippy.  Anna rode Teddy and Vicki rode Devil.  While Zippy was a good trail mount, we decided he wasn’t quite what we were after to replace Dakota, so we have since returned him.  However, we were thankful for the chance to ride as a family at a great venue.  For the past 2 years, horse or people injuries have resulted in only 3 of the 4 of us getting to ride.  Anna and Alex went around the jumps this year, as neither was ready for that on their mounts.  Vicki and I went over jumps… a lot of jumps.  It was AWESOME.  Mojo and I went over jumps that were bigger than anything I have ever attempted previously and only gave me 1 refusal all day.  Here are links to the Judy Bosco’s site, who was the ride photographer.  I bought a copy of Mojo and I jumping.

This weekend was Ayer Mt Farm’s Autumn Daze, which is also known as Jump, Jump, Jump.  It is a 3 phase jumping show which includes stadium jumping, derby jumping, and cross-country.  Derby jumping is a combination of stadium and cross-country jumps.  For any of our local riding friends, this is an amazing little show (I think there were 16 entries) and tons of fun.  I highly recommend you do it next year if they don’t cancel due to low numbers.

Since the previous weekend went so well, I decided to bump Mojo up to the Elementary Division (max 2’3″ jumps) while Vicki and Devil rode in the Grasshopper Division (max 18″ jumps).  To be clear, I had never actually ridden a stadium jump course on Mojo at anything other than 18″, so Anna considered my choice of divisions completely impulsive and irresponsible.  Anyone who knows my approach to riding will understand, it’s just my style to go for it and not worry about failure.  It turns out, Vicki has the same go-for-it attitude.

Anna had this to say about the following picture: “This picture is one of the proud mama moments I had as Devil was a total brat pony all day and Vicki totally rocked her confidence as she made her pony do what he didn’t have any intention of doing. He refused this jump twice before she made him jump it and then stayed on for the mega leap.”

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Vicki did get eliminated during her derby round because Devil did a spin refusal approaching a log jump and she came unseated (meaning hit the ground).  Despite that, she never lost her reins, bounced back up, and was back on Devil before the nearby fence judge could get there.  The event is “schooling friendly” and still allowed her to complete the rest of the derby round and ride her cross-country course.  Vicki was all smiles despite the elimination.

Things went a little better for Mojo and I.  In stadium, he knocked down 1 rail over a roll top (which was almost a refusal).  In the cross-country round, we had 2 refusals at a coop which were my fault.  I realized on the second refusal I was reading all the words on the side of the coop and Mojo was spooking at it because I was looking down.  As soon as my eyes came up, so did his front feet.  Despite these minor issues, we were able to take 2nd place for the day.  I think it was the best showing experience I have ever had and continues to show how much heart Mojo has.  I definitely benefited from recent lessons with Ann Bowie and Julia Cronin who both gave me insight that aided our performance.  We have plenty to work on to get better at our jumping, but it’s so nice to have a willing partner that forgives my errors.

One last thing.  For all the riders who feel pressured to put shoes on your horse, I rode Mojo barefoot for the stadium phase (because the grass was a little slick) and in Easy Care Gloves for the other 2 phases.

WGHA 2016 Hunter Pace #3

Last Sunday was the WGHA 2016 Hunter Pace #3.  This time, I (Rob) rode on Teddy, Alex rode Mojo, Vicki rode Devil, and Alexis rode Ace.  We had a good 12 mile ride that took us 2:16.  It was good enough to earn me 6th place and the kids got 5th in the Jr division.

Teddy hits the trail

It’s been a long day.  I did some trimming this morning while Anna and the kids did chores.  After lunch, we had a swim with some friends, then back home to ride some horses.  Vicki spent some time riding Devil bareback, including jumping him to get ready for the show tomorrow.  Of course, tomorrow she will likely be using a saddle.  Alex and Vicki both rode Nike for a short session.  After that, Vicki rode Dakota (her third ride for the day), Amanda rode Huey, and Alexis rode Ace.  Anna and I were able to go for a short trail ride to evaluate Teddy on the trails.  Teddy is making great progress with he fear of ears being handled.  We are able to halter him reliably and bridle him, although it requires disassembling the bridle.  He is not ready to have a bridle passed over his ears and it requires patience to put the brow band back across his head.  Anna has been working on this with him every day, and he is showing a lot of improvement.  I am confident he will continue to get better and we will get past the problems eventually.

On our trail ride, I was on Mojo and Anna was on Teddy.  We just did a 5 mile ride because it was late and the deer flies were ridiculously bad.  I had a few that made it into my mouth, my ears, and swarmed my eyes.  Teddy is definitely an Arab.  He has a nice solid trot, but does have that Arab mindset that large rocks and logs could be a hiding place for a mountain lion.  Nothing too dramatic, but just enough to keep the ride interesting.  We have introduced Teddy to Glove boots.  He wasn’t too fond of them on his hind feet, but once we got moving, he didn’t have time to worry about it.

I did manage to take a short video while we trotted through the corn fields.  Anna thinks maybe we should invest in a GoPro to mount on my helmet.  Teddy walked through water, has a nice ground covering trot, and Anna looks good on him.  His first trail ride was an overwhelming success.  The only thing he is lacking is conditioning, but we know how to fix that.

 

 

 

Introducing Teddy!

This morning we left on a short trip to check out a new horse.  This afternoon, we arrived at home to a herd that was anxious to find out who was on the trailer since the seven of them were all in the pasture.

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Teddy is the newest member of the herd.  He is a 15.1hh, 9-year-old, bay Arabian gelding.

The rest of the boys are hoping he gets to come out and play with them soon.

Teddy has been acquired because Alex is ready to move back onto Dakota for his primary mount.  Nike has been awesome for Alex for the past two years, but Alex will always have a stronger love for Dakota.  The two of them have an amazing bond.  With that in mind, we have consented which meant Anna needed a different horse.  We were expecting that Teddy was a 14.2hh Arabian, but he felt bigger when we rode him.  Once we got him home and saw him standing across the fence from the others, we grabbed the tape and checked.  Sure enough, he is a solid 15.1hh.  The plan is for Anna to ride him through the fall and into next year.  At some point, we will decide if Vicki gets him for her next mount (which she is convinced is absolutely the case) or if we need something different.  If these kids would stop outgrowing their ponies, life would be much easier.

We have a few things to work on with Teddy.  He has some serious head shyness around his ears (worse than Dakota was when we bought him) which makes it difficult to put on a bridle.  He also needs work on his trot-canter transitions.  Since the kids will be at 4-H camp next week (including Amanda at day camp), she will have 5 days of nothing else to do, so she should have everything fixed before next weekend.  Or not.  Either way, he is in good condition, barefoot, and a good size, so we have a solid starting point.  The million dollar question is, will he be ready for his first 25 mile ride in 4.5 weeks?  Stayed tuned for updates!