Tag Archives: Calli

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

Snowy trails

Last night, we got another 5″ or so of fresh snow dumped on the farm.  After clearing the driveway (again), clearing paths to/from the barn (again), breaking ice (again), and finishing morning chores, we came in for coffee.  We were originally scheduled to trailer ponies to a pony club games practice, but it was cancelled. So, Anna and I decided to call the next door neighbor for some babysitting after lunch.  We saddled up King and Calli and headed out for a trail ride.  There was over a foot of snow on the trails.  Mack got to come along, but Turbo stayed home.  We did encounter fresh snow mobile tracks, but no actual machines and no people.  We got to work on Calli and crossing icy water.  We will need to continue to build this skill.  We spent an hour on the trails, and even though we only walked, I think the horses got a pretty good workout trudging through the winter wonder land.

Lucy also got to venture out into the snow with her kids, Red Maple and Oak.

A Christmas Eve Trail Ride

DSC_0731Instead of a stressful afternoon of cooking and worrying about special dishes, we decided to saddle up the herd and go for a trail ride.  It was a nice 35F outside and the weather was clear.  Our neighbor was nice enough to come snap a photo before we left on the short ride in the woods.  From left to right: Alex on Dakota, Vicki on Devil, Amanda on Huey, Rob on Calli, and Anna on King.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Long ride of the year


I took a few days off work this week to get some projects done around the farm and have some relaxing time too.  Since all the kids were at school/preschool on Tuesday, Anna and I planned a nice long trail ride to explore more of our access to Pachaug State Forest. I have been studying the trail maps and we had plenty of options for our ride.  So we saddled up King and Calli and went out for what was planned to be about 2 hrs.  In the end, we covered 8.5 miles in 2:40.  While galloping up a hill, King managed to overreach and lose one of his hoof boots.  Post accident analysis indicates his hooves are probably about half a size smaller than in the spring.  Good thing we have more boots in inventory.

Here are some pictures from the ride.

025 030


Amanda hits the trails!

20130922_160738 20130922_160748

When Amanda was 18 months old, she went on her first trail ride in a buddy saddle on King.  Since then, she has logged many hours in the buddy saddle.  Earlier this summer, Huey, a 12yo, 11hh Dartmoor pony joined the herd and Amanda immediately claimed him as her pony.  Since then, Alex and Vicki have been allowed to borrow Huey for some rides and to help train him, but Huey is Amanda’s pony.

At 3 years old, Amanda is more dedicated to riding than both of her siblings.  You can’t get a horse out of the barn without Amanda grabbing her helmet and following along.  And Huey is a rock star for little kids.  Amanda has gotten to the point that she can ride Huey by herself in the arena at the walk and trot.

So today, Amanda got to trail ride on HER pony instead of on the buddy saddle.  I rode Calli and had a lead line connected to Huey’s halter so Amanda didn’t have to do any steering.  A nice short 45 minute ride through the forest with the whole family and all 5 horses/ponies.  Amanda and Huey did great.  And Calli, my 6yo TB mare, did awesome with me riding western and a lead rope wrapping around her side and butt to Huey.  It was a great afternoon.

I’m sure by the spring Amanda will be insisting she can ride without the lead rope!

028 039


050 057

On the trails again. Finally.

Moving has a way of taking up all the free time.  As a result, the horses were not getting used much and we certainly we not doing any trail riding.  However, since our 14th anniversary was Wednesday and we didn’t really do anything special, I decided Anna and I would go trail riding today.  We arranged for a babysitter to give us a block of kid-free time.

Saturday evening, we took Mack and all the kids hiking in the woods behind the house to scout the horse trails.  Pachaug State Forest is the entire rear of the property line.  The first direction we went, we encountered a creek.  So, we reserved course and headed off through the woods.  30 minutes later, we arrived at the gravel road into Pachaug, but there was no horse path to get there.  Clearing the trail of enough branches to not be constantly hit in the face would take a lot of work.

This afternoon, once the babysitter arrived, Anna and I headed back into the woods on foot to cross the creek.  The path to that point had clearly been used as a riding trail, so it was much more promising.  We took a couple of hand tools to clean up the trail as we went.  30 minutes later, we had found the horse trails we were looking for and cleared a sufficient trail to get there.  We scooted back to the barn and saddled up King and Calli for a ride.

Off we went.  Until we got to the water (which is only about 2 minutes down the trail from our barn.  10 minutes later, we still had not gotten Calli to cross the water, so we went back to the barn.  We put on her halter under the bridle and went back with a lunge line.  This time Anna rode King across (for probably the 15th time) and held on to the line to Calli.  It took some encouragement, but success!  We left the line there and continued on the ride.  It turns out, Pachaug has a lot of water right now.  The good news is, Calli didn’t refuse any more water crossings.  In fact, as we returned home an hour later, she didn’t even hesitate where we started out.  That was actually surprising, because it was the largest of the water crossings at about 12′ across.  Our little loop was just under 3 miles.

I went back out after we untacked and spent some more time improving the trails.  I believe it was actually a driving path in the past based on the size.  So, overall, it was a very successful day.  Calli got comfortable with water crossings and Anna and I got a trail ride in.  We are planning to take all the kids out on Tuesday.  It’s time to start logging some serious mileage if we are going to be ready for Alex and Vicki to ride a hunter pace this fall.

Training Calli #2

This week, all the glorious snow melted, leaving nasty annoying MUD!  We have been working on catching up on manure management (it’s amazing how much the snow hides) which always takes up more daylight than expected.  This afternoon was set aside as a trail riding day.  We had some friends come over with 3 of their horses, Alex rode Precious, Anna rode a guest horse, and I rode Calli.  One of the friends rode Milo.  Vicki was at a friend’s house, so Devil and King stayed behind.  The ride turned out to be a lot shorter (distance wise) than expected, which I will explain below, but I was actually in the saddle for at least 45 minutes.

First the good.  Calli was the lead horse for the whole ride.  That is a significant step forward for her.  There were 3 other horses in the group that she had never seen before.  Usually, she is very nervous about unknown horses behind her.  Today, she seemed agitated that we were not pushing the pace enough and definitely wasn’t afraid of the horses behind her.  She did, however, make sure they knew not to travel too close by pinning her ears and swishing her tail.

Another big step for us was, I rode Calli without her Glove boots.  We rode across gravel and she didn’t take a single soft step or try to avoid the pressure.  While I am not quite satisfied with the concavity in her hooves and think she will continue to improve, I am very happy with the improvement so far.

Calli didn’t run away when I was unsaddled. Which, leads to the bad.

The bad.  When we got out into a big open field, all the horses got nervous. In fact, Alex couldn’t get Precious to cross the boundary from the trail to the field.  As I was watching Alex work through that with Precious, Calli started to focus on something across the field, probably 200+ yards away.  I am guessing it was deer just in the edge of the woods.  I didn’t see exactly what set them off, but I think Calli went first.  She spooked and reared up.  Since we were on a slope, I already had Calli standing uphill while I watched Alex.  As Calli’s head came up, I came forward in the saddle to prevent pulling us over backwards on the hill (I have a history of King going over backward on top of me, so I think I over-react when I think the horse might go over backwards).  The result was, Calli’s head slammed into my jaw, which stunned me severely enough that I didn’t have a chance of staying in the saddle.  I recall trying to keep my seat, but I was just stunned enough that I couldn’t (like when a boxer gets hit on the jaw and slowly hits the mat).  Of course, the ground provided another impact.  I’m not exactly clear on how I hit, only that I think it was a left shoulder roll, into a lower back/tailbone impact, followed by a head slam.  I wanted to jump right up and grab Calli, but I was still stunned and it took a minute.  When I looked around, 3 other people were also dismounted, but it was because as all the other horses started to spook, they were able to emergency dismount and land on their feet.  Calli didn’t run off, and stood quietly for me to remount.  She looked a little confused about why I was off.  I’m a little sore, but don’t think there is any significant damage.

Training Calli #1

I have decided to document my journey of training Calli in our blog.  First, I will do some review of the history with Calli.  Calli is a 2007 TB, but never raced, was bred as a sport horse. She is actually eligible for the Rheinland Pfalz-Saar registry.  When she was 3, Calli was sent to the UConn equine program where she stayed for about 18 months.  It is a very traditional, large boarding facility where the horses primarily stand in a stall.  She then moved back to her owner (breeder’s) house;  I don’t know how many of Calli’s bad habits started at UConn and how many she figured out after moving back home.  In Feb 2012, I went and met Calli for a test ride because we were in the market to replace Cinder.  There were a lot of red flags about Calli: the owner would not let her kids anywhere near Calli, Calli pinned her ears at me on approach, she kicked me while picking her feet up, she was awful under saddle and refused to move forward, and essentially had no trail riding exposure.  We quickly decided Calli was not the horse we were looking for.

Fast forward to late June.  We had been continuing to look for the right horse, had one on lease that didn’t work out, and kept thinking about Calli.  What drew me to Calli was she was so young, that if I could fix the poor behavior, I would have a very athletic, young horse to work with for a long time.  So, in early July, we picked up Calli and brought her home for a lease.

I want to stress, that Anna and I both have many years of experience with horses and felt we could handle the training requirements for Calli.  We also had very clear conversations with the kids that Calli was NOT kid safe.  Calli would be tacked up in a stall whenever kids where in the barn and kids were not allowed in her paddocks.

The next day, I trimmed her hooves.  Calli had been barefoot for most of her life (another plus).  I believe she had shoes for a while at UConn, but I never saw any nail holes in the hooves, so it is possible she was never shod.  After a trim, it was time to get to work riding.  Now, right before I walked up to the barn to ride Calli, I got a text from the owner that Calli “was acting up when putting the saddle pad on.”  That was kind of curious since horses generally respond the saddle, not the pad.  With this tidbit of info, I groomed Calli (who was definitely showing significant attitude) and put a saddle pad on her back.  She immediately tried to kick me by kicking forward with her hind hoof.  I took the saddle pad off, and started to work on an attitude adjustment.  Eventually, we saddled her up and went to the arena for a ride.

Since that first ride, we have made a lot of progress.  I quickly figured out, MOST of Calli’s behavior problems were escape mechanisms.  Calli is very smart and had figured out that when she misbehaved by pinning ears and trying to bite someone or kicking out, it would scare people and they would leave her alone.  As soon as I showed her that I wasn’t scared and established that I was dominant, she gave up on the behaviors.  She still goes back and tries again sometimes, so we have to reinforce those lessons.

About a month into our trial of Calli, we bought her.  She has been regularly trail ridden (we try to do 60% trails, 40% arena) and even did a hunter pace.  I have taken her to a jumping lesson, where it was clear that she has some baseline experience in jumping.  Her body condition is very good, and so now, we have to figure out what our training goals are, and how we are going to accomplish them.

Anna and I decided we wanted to try some of the Parelli training methods.  So, we got a subscription to Giddyupflixs and ordered some horse training movies (thanks to a recommendation from a friend).  While Anna and I don’t watch a lot of tv, we have decided that we will spend more time watching videos about things we care about (horse trimming, training, riding, dog stuff, etc) instead of the “reality tv” shows that plague cable (storage wars and shipping wars are the latest ones we found ourselves wasting time with).

Goals for Calli (in no particular order):

1. Cross any water hazard on trail rides.

2. Back up under saddle.

3. Flying lead changes (this one is a long way off).

4. Stop freaking out and breaking trailer ties, halters, and other things when tied to a trailer.

Maybe tomorrow I will be able to carve out some time to do some riding.

Riding in the snow

Yesterday afternoon, instead of sledding, we hopped on some horses and rode in the new snow.  The kids have been enjoying riding the fuzzy ponies bareback.  I think they have discovered it saves time on tacking up and when they are popsicles after the ride, there is less tack to put away.  It was about 28F outside and we had a solid 9.5″ of powder in the arena.  Alex rode Precious.  Vicki rode Devil.  I rode Calli and Amanda rode with me.  I decided to put my western saddle on Calli (for the first time ever) since I wasn’t sure how she would respond to the snow covered arena and Amanda wanted to come along. Everyone had a blast.  Alex only came off once when Precious reared up as Dillon, the new dog, came running up behind her.  Vicki rolled off into the powder as she steered a corner too tight while trotting and didn’t have stirrups to keep her balance.  Calli did great and Amanda and I stayed in the saddle.

Some of the pictures aren’t great because Anna’s hands were freezing as she used my iPhone.  And the horses were moving.