Category Archives: horse

Pinetree Pioneer Endurance Ride 2016

Pinetree Pioneer Rides were held at the Fryeburg Fairgrounds over 5 days from Tuesday, August 9 through Saturday, August 13.  There was a 50-55 mile event and a LD (Limited Distance) 25-30 mile event every day for 5 days. The Pioneer Ride is the three middle days, and totals 155 miles of riding. This was to be Vicki’s first distance ride.  Alex was unable to ride; Dakota has been lame and Alex was still dealing with a double ear infection and sinus infection.

The logistics required to travel and camp with your horses for an endurance ride are not to be under estimated.  When it is a whole family going to camp and leaving the majority of the herd at home, it takes a few days of prep just to leave the house.  We started making our packing lists weeks ago.  Leading up to this trip, I printed the lists and kept making updates as we figured out what we needed to add.  Sunday and Monday were spent going through the camping gear to make sure everything was there and loading into totes.  We also packed the horse trailer with hay, shavings, tack, extra tack, and everything we could imagine needing.  Once all the camping gear was loaded into the truck bed (around the gooseneck hitch), clothing and sleeping bags in the horse trailer, and tack in the trailer, we were ready to leave.

We hit the road on Tuesday morning at 0900 and headed to Maine! The first stop was 35 minutes into the drive for a couple of items we needed at Wal-mart.  The second stop was only 20 minutes later for a bathroom break.   We decided to skip lunch and just finish the drive (with no more stops) to get the horses off the trailer faster.  That turned out to be a mistake, because once we got to camp, it took over an hour to get the horses settled and to the point we could unload enough to eat.  In the future, we will ensure we have eaten before arriving at camp.

Once things we set in camp, we vetted in the horses for the ride and took a break.  Our campsite consisted of an electric fence paddock for the horses, canopy for the horses, canopy for our kitchen area, stove, coffee pot, 2 tents, folding table….   The chuck box we used for storing food and such was built by my Dad in the 60’s when he was in scouting.  I would say it has gotten some miles.

The ride camp had a coordinated dinner that you could participate in, so we did.  After dinner each night, the awards for the day’s ride were given out and then the ride brief was conducted for the next day.  We arrived on Tuesday, so we got to see the first day awards and hear some feedback about the trails.

We have learned from previous rides, the endurance ride camps get quiet early.  It seems everyone wants to go to bed early.  Of course, since we had just traveled in, our crew wasn’t as tired, so we didn’t fall asleep quite as fast.

Wednesday morning, the 50 mile ride started at 0530.  Our camp setup was right next to the vet area and the start/finish.  Anna and I were up at 4:45 with Vicki only shortly after.  Alex and Amanda slept in a little.  We cooked up some eggs and sausage for breakfast.  While there is typically muffins or doughnuts available for a ride breakfast, it is important to fuel your body for the ride, especially when 1 of the bodies is an 80lb, 10 year old girl.

Vicki and I were riding the 25 mile, LD ride.  We started at 6:30 and 1 mile into the ride, you cross a river.  On the other side, you enter some potato fields where you ride on sandy farm roads for the next 5 miles.  While the potato fields were pretty, calm, and fast riding in the morning, they were hot and hotter once the sun started baking things.  The first hold was 15 miles into the ride, and was away from base camp at a covered bridge.  Anna, Alex, and Amanda met us there with snacks for the horses, snacks for us, and to simply help out.  We quickly determined that at this age, Vicki can handle the distance, but needs the support of someone to crew at the holds so she can take a break and fuel up herself.

When you arrive at the hold, your hold time doesn’t actually start until your horse has pulsed down below 64 bpm.  In anticipation of that, Vicki and I walked in (us off and leading on foot) the horses for about the last 1/4 mile.  Mojo can pulse down quickly, but we wanted to make sure Devil was ready to go.  It worked great and Devil was below the threshold as soon as we arrived.  40 minutes later, we were back out of the trail for 11 miles back to camp, including the potato fields.  We arrived at base camp and Mojo immediately met the finish pulse criteria of 60 bpm.  6 minutes later, Devil had cooled off and also passed a vet check as “fit to continue”.  Vicki and Devil had their first completion with a ride time of 4:27 for 26 miles in the saddle.

Once the horses were taken care of, we hiked a mile down to the river and took a swim to cool off since the temps were in the upper 80s (I thought Maine was supposed to be cold?).

Some people at the Pinetree ride actually ride every day.  However, many ride a day and then take a day off.  Because we did our first ride on the second day, there were only 11 entries in the LD ride for our day.  Even though our time wasn’t terribly slow, Vicki was the last finisher, which meant she won the “Turtle Award”.  In the endurance world, the motto is “To finish is to win” and we have been teaching that to the kids as we train.   Winning the turtle isn’t demeaning, because it is still a completion.  There are actually some riders who compete to collect turtle awards.  Vicki was all smiles at the awards ceremony as she collected her ride prize, her Jr rider award (a blanket she slept with every night since), and her Turtle.

No one in our family had trouble falling asleep on Wednesday.  We took Thursday off, and I was glad we did!  I listened to the sound of ~30 riders leaving camp at 0530 (all distances started at 0530 on Thursday and Friday due to the heat) and then I went back to sleep for another hour.  After getting up and eating, I broke out the hammock.  There were not a lot of trees available, but with the truck parked just so, the hammock fit nicely between the horse trailer ties and the stake pocket ties on the truck.  Amanda and I tested it out for a nice hour nap.  After, we walked the horses around for some grazing (Vicki decided to ride bareback).

Thursday was HOT!  The camp thermometer broke 100F in the shade.  We went out to get more ice for our cooler and some ice cream.  We also went to a different part of the river for a swim to cool off again.  In the late afternoon, Vicki and I rode the horses bareback down  to the river.  We took them into some deeper areas and Vicki and Devil actually got to swim (it wasn’t deep enough to cause Mojo to swim).  Thursday night dinner was lobster night and after the ride brief, we went to bed for a 0400 wake up.   While Vicki was very happy to have finished her first ride, she did talk to me about strategy before we fell asleep.  She said, “Dad, can we ride a little faster tomorrow.  I don’t want to Turtle.  I want to Win.”  I told her we would ride within our horses’ abilities and the priority was to finish with everyone in good condition, but yes, we could go faster.  She was ok with that.  On Friday, we were riding the same LD course as Wednesday.

The temperatures on Friday were definitely hotter than Wednesday.  While we did ride a faster first loop, we slowed down some on the second loop and ended up finishing within about 5 minutes of our Wednesday time.  Again, both horses were in excellent condition and we both had smiles at the finish.  As Vicki and I hand walked our horses the last 1/4 mile, she was already talking about her plans for the next ride.  To say she is hooked on endurance is an understatement.

While the temperatures were high, we had nothing but an amazing week.  Amanda was talking with everyone about her pony Huey and how she planned to ride him at Pinetree next year.  Alex didn’t get to ride, but is still interested  in trying it out.  Pinetree was definitely a top-notch, family friendly event.  Our thanks go out to Tom Hutchinson and Sue Niedoroda for managing the ride and to all the volunteers who put it on.  We will see you again in 2017!

 

 

 

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!

TSHA Dressage Show 2016-2

For Father’s Day, Vicki and I rode in a dressage and 2 phase horse show.  Alex and Amanda didn’t want to show and we decided that was fine.  This was my first show (other than some fairs) since 2010 when I was still on King.  This was also the first time I have ever actually entered a jumping class.  While I was not necessarily totally ready and refined, I wanted to take Mojo to the show and see how he behaved.

King was always a great horse at home, and still is, but about 3 times as much horse once you got to the show grounds.  “High energy” would be an accurate description.  I was extremely pleased to find Mojo was the same horse on the show grounds as at home.  I think he was actually more focused and ready to work than schooling at home.  Mojo and I entered the 18″ cross-rail 2 phase division which includes dressage test Intro B.  We separately rode dressage test Intro C.  To get ready for the show, I did ride Mojo through the Intro B test twice in the weeks before the show.  We never tried Intro C.  As for jumping, I think I jumped Mojo 3 times in the month we have had him.  We never actually jumped a full course.  In fact, I don’t think we ever put more than 4 jumps together in a set.  Anna’s opinion was I was crazy to go so under-trained and having no idea what would happen on the jump course.  I figured why not give it a shot.

Let’s be honest.  Dressage is boring.  I’ll just summarize the 2 dressage tests with we have areas to improve on but I wasn’t last in my divisions.  But Vicki did get higher dressage scores on Devil, riding the same tests with the same judges.

The jumping was much more fun.  When we got out into the warm-up area, Mojo and I started working over the practice fences and it was awesome.  He was ready to go, so we headed on the course and jumped a clear round.  He didn’t give me any hesitation and we had a blast.  Anna would not that my form requires improvement, I look down at the jumps, I sometimes catch him in the mouth, and Mojo doesn’t always get the correct lead coming off the jump.  That’s why she is a better rider.  I just know we had fun and he can definitely jump higher!  Vicki and Devil also jumped a clear round and had a blast doing it.  We want to find a jumping only show…

I would also like to note that Mojo has now been with us for 5 weeks and has been out of shoes for 5 weeks after many years in front shoes.  He has been tender on his front feet (to be expected for the transition) so we normally ride him in boots.  However, for the dressage show, I couldn’t ride him with boots.  Last week I gave him a trim and applied Hoof Armor.  The Hoof Armor worked like a champ and he didn’t take a tender step all day.  I will be continuing to experiment with the Hoof Armor on my own horses before offering it to clients, but so far, I’m happy with it!  The next step is to put it on the ponies and see how they do on the rocky trails without any boots.

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

TSHA Dressage Show 2016-1

After a couple of cups of coffee yesterday afternoon, we completed unloading the trailer from the NEATO ride and started prepping ponies for the TriState Horseman’s Association Dressage Show today.  We were taking 4 ponies (Nike for Alex, Devil for Vicki, Ace for Alexis, and Huey for Amanda).  Amanda was very excited that she was finally allowed to wash her pony too.  She also kept reminding us that she needed to clean her saddle, bridle, and polish her boots.  Who am I to argue with such motivation?

A couple of weeks ago, the kids all ordered new sleezies for their ponies from Just for Ponies using allowance money.  For you non-horsey readers, a sleezy is a stretchy hood that covered the horse’s mane and neck.  The primary purpose is to keep the mane clean and all the braids intact once a pony is prepped for a show.  Amanda had chosen one for Huey and was very excited to get to use it.

Once all 4 ponies were prepped and tucked into stalls, the trailer was loaded, and kids were washed, we were ready to crash.  5am came awful early, but we had to hit the ground running.  We were at the show grounds by about 7:40 and discovered we were the first to arrive, which was fine since we also had the second ride time in one of the rings.   We got our crew set up, ponies tacked up, and headed to the warm up field.  Amanda was doing a lead-line dressage test, which means she is responsible for directing Huey and following the preset pattern, but I got to keep a line on his halter to make sure he didn’t try any funny business.  After about 5 laps around the warm up field, I wasn’t sure about Huey, but I was definitely warmed up.

Alex and Vicki each did a dressage test (Introductory C) and competed in the 18″ 2 phase class which included jumping and the Introductory B dressage test.  Neither of them had their best performances in the dressage ring, however, they both did very well jumping.  Vicki did have 2 good rides without Devil trying to leave the dressage ring.

I was able to shoot video of the kids riding their jumping rounds.

In the end, the kids brought home a few ribbons and had a good day on their ponies.  It was another busy horsey weekend for the farm.  Luckily, next weekend only has 1 horse event.

 

 

Got some Mojo!

Last night about 9:15, I unloaded a new horse from the trailer into the barn.  He had spent 6 hours getting hauled in from VT.  Since we took this one sight unseen, Anna and I put him in the cross-ties and checked him over.  At the end of the barn, there was a 10 year old girl sneaking around in the shadows trying to catch a glimpse of the new pony.  When we spied her, she darted back into the house.  I went inside and told Vicki it was ok for her to join us in the barn, so with a huge grin, she grabbed her jacket, slipped her boots back on, and happily followed me back out.

He was a little lonely today, turned out in a paddock alone, so Devil got to join him.  They made fast friends and spent the afternoon mowing any new shoots of grass.

After work, I had a few trim appointments and then finally got home to get to know my new mount.  His shoes were just pulled this weekend, so the first order of business was to get him fitted with boots.  One benefit of being a dealer (and having 6 other horses on the farm using boots) is I can usually fit a horse with something we have on hand.  Once that was taken care of, we tacked up and headed to the arena.

Introducing Mojo!  He is a register Half Arabian (the other half is Dutch Harness Horse) and his registered name is Money Shot.  Mojo is owned by a local farrier who has been following our story and thought we were the right match for her horse.  Mojo is 10 years old, 15.3 hh, and 850 lbs.  He has long legs, a long back, and a narrow barrel.  He spent the early part of his life as an arena/show horse and has spent about the last 3 years as a trail, endurance, and CTR mount.  He seems very well matched for our desire of a versatile horse for some dressage, eventing, and endurance.  We are a little concerned that Vicki may try to claim him.

As the light was fading fast, I did manage to get about 30 minutes of saddle time on him tonight.  This weekend we are doing a 25 mile Limited Distance endurance event with NEATO, so that will be a true test of our compatibility.  We have him on an extended trial, so stay tuned for more Mojo!

 

 

2016 4-H Horse show and WGHA Hunter Pace #1

How show season officially kicked off this weekend for Sawyer Family Farm.  Friday evening was spent in the barn trimming hooves, kids clipping fetlocks and bridle paths, washing ponies, braiding manes, and loading the trailer.  The kids elected to spend some allowance to buy a sleazy for each pony to keep the mane a little nicer overnight before a show.  Devil didn’t seem to care about his purple sleazy as long as it had a hole to eat through.  Nike was less impressed with his green sleazy, although I believe he has likely worn one many times before.

Saturday morning, everyone was up by 5:30 for breakfast and to load ponies.  We were at the CT 4-H Horse Show by about 7:45 and spent over 9 hours on the show grounds.  It was a bright, sunny day and great weather for showing.   The Barnyard Buddies 4-H Club was represented by Alex on Nike, Vicki on Devil, and Alexis on Ace.

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L-R Devil, Vicki, Nike, Alex, Ace, Alexis

The 4-H Horse Show starts with Showmanship.  All exhibitors must do Showmanship to participate in mounted classes.  There was a bit of waiting around since Showmanship is one at a time.  Vicki got the highest score of the three in Showmanship, but in reality, none of the three enjoy it or put much effort into Showmanship.  They prefer to ride.

Throughout the day, Alex and Vicki were competing against each other.  Vicki only moved up to walk/trot/canter classes for 1 show last year.  There were 9 junior (under 13 as of Jan 1st) riders in the English W/T/C classes for Equitation (judging more of the rider position), Pleasure (judging more of the horse’s movement), and Discipline (correctly executing the movements within a specified time).  Alex got 5th in all 3.  Vicki got 6th in all 3.  Alex was simply happy to beat Vicki.  Vicki was disappointed, but I think it finally made her realize it is harder to show in those classes than she expected.

There was a fair amount of waiting in between classes while the senior riders did their classes.  Devil and Nike were both extremely well-behaved.  Nike is a seasoned show pony at 23 years old, so I think he was explaining it to Devil.  One thing about Nike is that so many people recognize him.  At this show, an instructor we had never met recognized Nike from when she taught the girl who owned him more than 10 years ago.  He is one of those gems that makes the rounds in the local barns teaching kids how to ride.

Vicki chose to enter the English Trail class.  In that class, the kids must ride a specified pattern that includes various obstacles such as a wooden bridge, weaving cones, and ground poles.  One obstacle was to stop the horse in a box made from jump poles with 2 front hooves outside the box and 2 rear hooves inside.  Then side pass the horse keeping the pole between the front and rear hooves, including a 90 degree turn around a corner.  Vicki gave it a noble effort, but Devil just didn’t understand what she wanted and they didn’t complete that obstacle.  However, the next obstacle was to back your horse through 2 cones, make a 180 degree turn around a 3rd cone, and continue to back out between the original pair.  They completed the series flawlessly and the gate attendant mentioned Vicki did better at that than any other rider she had seen.  In the end, Vicki was thrilled to learn she won the class!

Backing around the cones
Backing around the cones

Throughout the day, Amanda was very well-behaved.  Her favorite event is the cake walk, which she looks forward to all year.  She is very outgoing and always manages to find a new friend.

At the end of the day, the Gymkhana classes were held and included Bending Poles, Arena Race, and Barrels.  This year, the W/T/C Gymkhana classes had 6 entries: all juniors and all riding English (which is a little different).  It was nice to see some kids entering just to have a fun time.  Devil was the smallest pony in the class and it showed in his times.  The short legs make it hard to outrun the bigger horses.  Alex was the most experienced in the class and as a result, got 1st in 2 of the events and 2nd in the 3rd event.  That was good enough to win the Gymkhana Division (and gave him 6 total wins over his sister).

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Alex and Nike running bending poles

After a long day, we headed home.  Luckily Chinese takeout was on the way home.  We unloaded ponies and ate a quick dinner.  After dinner, the trailer was unloaded of some items and reloaded with others, because Sunday was the 1st West Greenwich Hunter Pace for the season!

One really nice thing about the WGHA hunter paces is they are close.  Since it is only a 15 minute drive, we can get up at 7 and still make it to the ride with plenty of time.  Today, Anna rode Dakota with Alex on Nike, Vicki on Devil, and Alexis on Ace.

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Amanda and I hung out at the trailer and I worked on changing out the interior trailer lights to LED lights while they were gone.  They rode 11 miles in about 1:54.  As soon as they got back, I could tell it hadn’t been a relaxing ride for the group.  The fatigue from showing on Saturday had a definite impact causing some melt downs (Vicki) on the trail.  Compounding the problem, Devil is in the best shape of his life and was full of energy and giving Vicki some trouble because he wasn’t tired at all.   After a filling lunch, everyone was feeling better.  Anna scored 3rd in her division and the kids placed 4th in the junior division.  It was amazing to see 14 junior teams at the hunter pace today!  Next time, maybe we won’t schedule the kids for 2 days of events.  Maybe.

4th place in the Junior Division for the kids and 3rd in the Hilltopper Division for Anna
4th place in the Junior Division for the kids and 3rd in the Hilltopper Division for Anna

Tonight, I will be picking up a new horse for a pre-purchase trial.  It will be after dark by the time we get home, so stay tuned for new pictures later this week.

Horse updates

Last weekend was family trail riding.  Amanda rode Huey for 6 miles, including about 3 miles of it by herself, off the lead line.

This morning, Alex and Vicki had a jumping lesson with Pony Club.  It was a nice cool morning and they both did great.  Both pairs, Alex/Nike and Vicki/Devil are very well matched and we hope they will have a lot of fun together this summer.

There are no photos, but King went back into work this week.  He has recovered better than we expected from his EPM.  He has definitely lost a lot of fitness over the winter, so it will be a long, slow conditioning program.  We are cautiously optimistic that he will be in the 60-70% that are able to make a complete recovery from EPM and resume full activity.

Today we said farewell to Echo.  While we loved his personality and got along great with him, he just wasn’t quite the right match for what we are looking for.  So, our search for the next horse resumes.

A cold, blustery day

This morning we awoke to just under an inch of snow.  This has been one of the weirdest winters (and now springs) since we moved to CT 10 years ago.  By the time we went out for morning chores, it was still snowing, but the snow on the ground was melting.  By lunch, the wind was blowing enough to drop the wind chill a fair amount and the snow on the trees was turning to ice.  So we went for a trail ride.

Amanda came to breakfast in her mermaid wrap that was made for her at Christmas by a family friend.

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Today’s trail ride featured 6 miles of an air temperature about 37F, wind chill in the 20s, and ice constantly hitting us (and the horses) as it blew out of the trees.  There were only 4 of us on today’s ride: I was on Echo, Alexis on Ace, Vicki on Devil, and Alex on Dakota.  The 3 ponies did great.  Echo was great for the first half.  When we hit the turnaround point, I moved him from lead horse to last horse.  He didn’t care for that and it made the second half of the ride more interesting.  He wasn’t bad, but he didn’t want to trot behind the others.  It is definitely an area we will have to keep on working on.  I did decide to run him out a little to burn off some of the energy (the ponies were all happy to keep trotting along quietly as we pulled away for a couple of minutes).  Echo established a new top end speed today at 25.8 mph.  He sustained higher than 20 mph for 1/4 mile, but we had to pull up when 3 of his 4 boots had come off and were holding on by the gaiters. I’m not really convinced the Gloves (hoof boot) are designed for speeds above 20 mph because that seems to be when we consistently have problems.  I also rode Echo in an S Hack today for the first time.  I was overall satisfied with the control and stopping power.  The advantage of riding in a hackamore when doing trail/distance riding is it is easier for the horses to stop and eat/drink at breaks along the way.  Next weekend we will do a longer conditioning ride with  at least Dakota, Devil, and Echo as we continue to prepare for our first 25 miler of the season in May.