Category Archives: horse

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.


Before the start


After the finish

Introducing Nike!

To celebrate Labor Day, we took the kids to Mystic Valley Hunt Club for a lesson with Maureen Pach.  The second reason for our trip was to pick up Nike.  Nike is joining our farm on a long term lease.  As you can see from the pictures, he and Devil will make a great pair in pictures.  Nike is a seasoned school horse and will help Alex advance in the arena work while Dakota continues training with Anna. In the pictures,  Alex is on Devil and Vicki is on Nike (they switched for part of the lesson).  You know it’s a good pony when the owner and 2 of his previous riders come to see him off to his new home!

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.


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…


WGHA Hunter Pace #2

Today was the second WGHA Hunter Pace.  Since we sold Calli, and Vicki didn’t handle the distance very well last time, this one was me (Rob) on King and Alex on Dakota.  We did the 10.3 miles in 2:10.  That was good enough for me to get 2nd in the Trailblazer division and Alex to get 1st in the Junior division.

Alex got to choose his prize for winning the Junior division; he chose a new chair.  Once he got home, he immediately set it up in the yard and shared the umbrella space with Amanda.

North Stonington Fair 2014

It was an exhausting weekend as we kicked off the 2014 fair season with the North Stonington Fair.

Thursday, 8 rabbits reported for show duty and spent the weekend looking pretty for the masses.

Friday, Anna and the kids spent the day washing goats, washing horses, and Anna was up past midnight braiding manes.  Saturday morning, we loaded the trailer and headed to the horse show.

Amanda rode on Huey in the lead line class.


Jack, one of Anna’s students, also rode lead line on Devil.  Vicki rode Devil in the walk-trot classes along with her best friend, Alexis, who was on Huey.  Alexis actually beat Vicki for the walk-trot championship (in her first show ever).  It does Vicki good to get taken down a peg every now and then.  Alex has no interest in the ride around the arena classes, however, he was keen to ride in the Gymkhana classes.  He did the mounted games at the 4-H show in May with Dakota, so we let him do it again, only this time, we let him canter Dakota.  He did come close to the fastest times, but he maintained control and had fun doing it.  He even decided to add-on a 1 walk-trot-canter class for the day.


After the horse show, the kids put on their new Barnyard Buddies 4-H shirts to walk around a few minutes, but needed a food and drink break.  Ruth is another one of Anna’s students who came along for the day to watch Amanda, but seemed to get bitten by the show bug and is talking about getting more serious in her plans with King.


Sunday was the goat show.  We had 11 goats with 5 kids (Alex, Vicki, Amanda, Alexis, and Selena) our herd.  Amanda got to show Sprout in Pee-Wee showmanship and the Pet class.  Another long day, but everyone had a good time and Alex is actually starting to get more into the goats.  Sawyer Farm’s Onyx won Best Jr Lamancha and Sawyer Farm’s Sequoia won best Jr Recorded Grade.


Throughout the afternoon, WCTY was doing karaoke next to the goat show, and the kids were constantly on stage giving it a try.  Amanda and her friend Lily spent almost all afternoon on stage.

2 weeks until the next fair!

Our first family hunter pace

20140601_101514Today Alex, Vicki, Anna, and I (Rob) rode in our first family hunter pace.  It was put on by the West Greenwich Horseman’s Association (WGHA) at Arcadia in RI.  For those not familiar with hunter pacing, it is a long trail ride with optional jumps along the way.  This one had 3 different divisions: Hunters (fastest group with lots of cantering), Hilltoppers (walk/trot with some cantering), and Trailblazers (walk/trot).  We entered Trailblazers, but did some cantering early on with lots of walking towards the end.

The ride was 11.5 miles long and it took us 3:15.  Here are the top 10 things we learned on our first hunter pace.

10. Make sure all the bridles loaded in the trailer have reins (luckily a friend/trimming client lived across the street and we were able to borrow some).

9. Leather braided roping reins stretch a lot when Calli pulls hard.  They now reside in the trash.

8.  Dakota is a ROCK STAR!

7.  Alex is well conditioned for the time/distance.

6.  Vicki is not well conditioned for the time/distance.

5.  Vicki will get really tired and be ready to give up about 6.5 miles into the ride.

4.  Vicki doesn’t like GU gels and won’t eat them to get her some nutrition.

3.  Calli doesn’t like horses with bells trotting up behind her.

2.  Easily accessible snacks are needed for Vicki (and Anna) on a long trail ride.

1.  Despite over an hour of melting down, getting upset with her pony, and wanting to quit (in the middle of the woods), after some lunch and sugar, Vicki can start planning for the next hunter pace.

Alex and Vicki got ribbons for 5th place in the junior division.  Ribbons always make a kid happy.  The next Hunter Pace is in July.  Vicki plans to do more 2+ hour trail rides to get ready.

A Mother’s Day at the Games rally


Sunday May 11 2014 was Mother’s Day. I spent the day at the Pony Club games rally with my kids. Well, sort of, because parents aren’t allowed in the horse management area. We arrived at 7.30 ish. That meant we left home around 6.45. The rally was at Mitchell farm in Salem, CT. We helped the kids set up the pop up tent and chairs for the day, left a cooler of food, a cooler of water, and helped get their tack room stuff and horse management kits. Their C rated pony club advisor for the day was Grace Perkins who volunteered (!!!) to head up the walk trot grasshopper games team Pony Pals. 5 kids 10 and under, and five ponies for a full day, ending with awards at 6 pm. After the briefing at 8.30 parents were banned from the horse area. The kids had jog outs to check for soundness and later a formal inspection for turn out of horse and rider. There were horse management judges asking questions and doing inspections. Then they played games against the other grasshopper team ” the runaways”. Throughout the day they killed dead time around the trailer, reading, eating and playing games ( board games). At six pm the day concluded with awards.  The Pony Pals came home with double blue ribbons, one for horse management and one for the riding portion. They were all exhausted. Rob volunteered for 4 hours on the field helping out with the games play.  I watched Amanda and spent money at the food truck,  while watching the games play and chatting with other parents. Amanda fell asleep in the afternoon.
Overall it was a good Mother’s day with great weather.









Another good ride

Since Anna’s parents are in town, we have had some extra help around and been able to get in a little more riding this week. In fact, today was my third ride on Calli in under a week.  It was a nice mid fifties afternoon, Anna rode Precious, and I work with Calli.

I hate arena work – it’s boring.  I would be much happier if Anna would train Calli and I could just show up and ride at a show or hunter pace.  But alas, Anna feels I should have some role in training my own horse.

So, it was a circles, bending, transitions sort of day.  And it went pretty well.  Calli is showing that she can actually work.  I started some lateral work.  And then I wrapped it up with some cross rails.

2014-04-10 23.40.23

Spring = Trail riding and training Calli

It was over 50F this afternoon which was perfect weather for riding the horses.  Vicki and her best friend Alexis (who takes riding lessons with Anna) hopped off the bus, had a quick snack, and headed to the barn.  A short while later, they headed out on the trails – Alexis on Huey, Vicki on Devil, and Anna on King.  It was Alexis’ first trail ride and they had a good time.  When they got back, the group went to the arena for a little more riding and Amanda grabbed her helmet for a turn on Huey too.

By the time the girls got back, I had finished trimming Calli’s hooves and Alex and I saddled up.  Alex mounted Dakota, while I was finishing in the barn with Calli. I heard a scuffle and then the sound of a running pony.  I darted out of the barn with Calli in tow to find Alex on the ground at the start of the trail and Dakota about 50 yards away.  Alex got up, brushed off, and slowly made his way to catch his pony.  He and Dakota returned to the barnyard.  By this time, Anna had arrived on scene and held Dakota as Alex mounted.  Exactly what happened wasn’t clear, but it seems Dakota started walking away from the mounting block when Alex got on and Alex lost his balance.  As his weight shifted around, it spooked Dakota more, eventually leading to Alex coming off.  Luckily, no injuries.

So, Alex and I headed out.  What would make this ride interesting was the high volume of rain we had last weekend.  Every low area and creek was still flooded and Calli isn’t known for her confidence crossing water.  This time, I tried a different approach.  Our first water crossing after leaving the barn is about 150 yards down the trail.  With the amount of rain we had, it is over 15′ wide, but only about 1 foot deep at the middle.  Calli was nervous as soon as she saw the shimmer.  So, I hopped off and lead her through the creek.  I had planned for this and wore appropriate boots.  I was also riding Calli in her new Dr. Cook’s bitless bridle set up with roping reins to make it easy for me to take have extra length to lead her as needed without being too close if she spooked.

It is hard to describe, but as I led her through, I felt her calm down.  Everything about her behavior and body language signaled it.  It was clear, she immediately trusted me more because I walked through the water with her.  After that, I mounted and we headed on down the trail.  When we came to the next water, Calli walked right through.  Calli balked a couple of times at the third water crossing, but before I got off, the same calm came over her and she walked into the middle of the water, and reached down for a drink.  While she stood there, Dakota (who had hung back as Calli threw her small fit) walked into the water with us.  I wished there was someone on the side with a camera to catch the Alex and I on the horses in the water.

For the rest of the ride, Calli didn’t hesitate at any of the water we encountered.  In total, we did 12-15 water crossings during our 40 minute ride.

The only other real excitement was while Alex and I were trotting down a road through the forest.  We were almost side be side, when I saw panic come over his face and he started to slide right.  At first I thought his saddle was rolling off Dakota’s back.  I quickly stopped Calli, which caused Dakota to slow and allowed Alex to stop.  It turns out, Alex had lost his right stirrup, and by lost, I mean his entire stirrup leather and iron had come off the stirrup bar and was laying in the road behind us.  Nothing was broken, so I don’t know why it came off.

It definitely unsettled Alex, but a few minutes and a few water crossings later, we trotted along again.  In the end, we had an awesome ride.  Alex got thrown before the ride started, but got back on and did the ride.  Calli overcame her water issues.  And when we got home, Anna was exercising Precious in the arena.  All 6 horses got ridden, and everyone in the family participated.  It should be a good summer with a lot more rides!