This afternoon, we brought home our newest acquisition, Dutch Treat, aka Duchess. Duchess is believed to be a Welsh/POA (Pony of the Americas) cross. She is about 14hh, strawberry roan color and will be 9 years old in May. We got Duchess specifically for Vicki. While Devil isn’t going anywhere, Vicki really could use a slightly larger mount and Amanda is planning to do some sharing of Devil this year.
Now, I know at least a few of our closer horse friends are thinking, “they don’t get mares!” It’s true, we broke our rules and got another mare. It’s not that we haven’t ever had a mare that we liked, it just creates complications in the herd. This time around, we decided it was worth the hassle to add a mare to the herd of 6 geldings.
We acquired Duchess from a young woman who started her and used her in a lesson program. Duchess has experience on the rated hunter/jumper show circuit, but has been out of work for about 2 years while out on a lease that didn’t use her. She doesn’t have any health issues, just needs to get back into work. Vicki says “riding Duchess is like riding Devil, but a mare”. We all know Vicki will ride anything, but Anna and I think they are a really good match. There was one other part of her background that sealed the deal. Duchess is a jumper. Vicki has acknowledged that it will take lessons and hard work for Vicki to be ready to jump anywhere near what Duchess has done in the past, but I’ll just share these 2 photos of Duchess jumping courses a couple of years ago.
The snow is melting and spring has arrived, so it’s time to get the ponies back in shape and get ready for the show season. Stay tuned to follow the progress of Vicki and Duchess as a team!
This morning I (Rob) did my 5th half marathon at the Colchester half (all 5 have been there). In very uncharacteristic weather, it was 60F when we started at 10:00. I completed the 13.1 miles and 881′ of elevation in 1:58 (9:00 min/mile pace). Nothing like burning 1800 calories before lunch.
After a quick shower and bite to eat, I met Anna and the kids an hour and a half after I finished the race. They had a trailer load of horses and it was time for Pony Club mounted games practice. I rode Mojo, Anna rode Dakota, and Amanda rode Huey for the first session. Then Alex rode Dakota and Vicki rode Devil. Everyone had a great time, but if this weather continues we will need to body clip some ponies! By the time we got home and unloaded the trailer, everyone was ready for some dinner and a movie.
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.
Yesterday, we introduced Angel. Upon reading the blog about her, one of my Facebook friends recognized her as a foal that she bred and sold as a weanling. It turns out Angel is a registered Shetland born in 2008 named Isherwood Magical Enchantress. She was sold with 2 other ponies, one of who she continued to live with until she came to us yesterday. After being sold, it isn’t clear if she changed hands again, but she ended up in a neglect situation and was rescued as at about the age of 18 months. She went as a foster (with her friend Buttercup) to the family who ended up adopting her and kept her until now.
So far, she is absolutely glued to Devil and gets nervous whenever he isn’t with her. We will introduce another friend from the herd in the next few days. This morning she spent a little time lunging. She has some amazing front leg action.
Angel (formerly known as Jelly Bean) is the newest addition to the farm. She is an 8yo, 12.3hh pinto pony. While we were not really in the market for another mount in that size range, this was a little too perfect to pass up. You see, all of Angel’s measurements are within 2cm of Devil’s, which will make them a fabulous matched pair for driving. The pair will be shown as “Devil in Disguise” and “Angel in Hiding”.
Angel has been a family pet for the past 5 years and is very green (read not saddle broken). While saddle training will likely occur, we really got her to be a driving pony. Here are some pictures of her in turn out with Devil minutes after arriving. Even though she had not trailered but 1 time in the past 5 years, we had her loaded in only a few minutes. She will be a fun training project for this year.
We got a little snow on Thursday night and then a good dump yesterday. After a late breakfast this morning, we had a solid 9+” of fresh powdery snow on the farm. After the driveway was cleared and the horses were fed, we hitched up Huey to his Kingston Saddlery sleigh to cut some paths in the front pasture. Everyone took a turn with the reins except Amanda, but she did get to ride until she was frozen.
The new addition for today’s session were sets of bells hanging off either side of the saddle and we got our side check in. Huey didn’t care about the bells. While we don’t usually need a side check, it keeps him from dropping his head too low (probably a bigger problem during grass season). Not bad for his 3rd time hitched.
Last night we got 3″ of snow. The kids were excited to switch the wheels on our Kingston Saddlery cart to the sleigh runners. Unfortunately, the snow switched to rain and it is warming up tonight, so the snow won’t be around for long. However, we did get the chance to do a little “dashing through the snow, in a one horse open sleigh”. We did some loops around the house and through the front yard of our neighbors. We look forward to more snow through the winter.
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!
For those who don’t know, Huey is our 16yo Dartmoor who’s registered name is Hedgehog Hollow’s American Eagle. While he has been a good riding pony for Amanda, and still goes on trail rides, Amanda is preferring to ride Devil in the arena. Huey needs a job and so we have been slowly working on teaching Huey to drive for the past few months. Even though we were told he was driven before we owned him, we wanted to take everything slowly and actually step through the entire training process. It was also beneficial for the kids to see the intermediate steps of training a driving horse. We have been ground driving Huey, including teaching Alex and Vicki how to ground drive and Huey has pulled a tire on the ground.
I recently built a set of false shafts which are poles designed to give the pony pressure like a cart, but without the expensive cart. Here is the document I used to make our false shafts: false shafts instructions. This afternoon, Anna did a little lunging with Huey in his harness and then we hooked him up with the false shafts.
Anna and I took turns ground driving Huey with the false shafts and made him walk and trot around the arena. He didn’t show any concern at all about the shafts, so we decided to move to the next step.
We decided to purchase our easy entry cart new from Kingston Saddlery. It wasn’t much more expensive than most used ones and we knew we could get replacement parts as needed. We were also able to purchase sleigh runners, so we are looking forward to the snow arriving.
Alex and Vicki were on hand to assist with the initial hitching of Huey to the cart. We started by approaching him with the cart and removing it to make sure he wouldn’t react (I think he slept through it). Then we actually hooked him to the cart and I ground drove while he pulled the cart. Anna started with a lunge line attached to his bridle in case things went wrong, but we removed the extra tending line pretty quickly.
Since everything was going well, the next step was to get in the cart and drive around. Alex and Vicki didn’t want to be left out and both took turns driving Huey around the arena.
We need to get a side check for the harness (that’s what the blue baling twine is doing right now) and some sleigh bells. The kids were singing Dashing Through The Snow as they rode around together, and Huey was a rock star. Now they are discussing plans for driving him at the 4-H fair in the summer.