New Trails, New Partnership

Suzi invited us trail riding at Stoney Creek Farm when we first met Mikey, our large, lovely TB gelding. Today needed to bring home Cricket, the 6 year old appendix Quarter Horse mare. We used the extra trailer space to transform this task into an adventure! I had the tack loaded in the horse trailer when Mark got home from work. In loaded Dolly and Gideon, and off we went.

What a ride we had! The sudden crispness in the air out Dolly on edge. Natural horse training methods put a variety of tools in our mental tack trunk to quickly engage her mind and her movement. Clicker training speeds the process and enhances results even more.

Gideon, on the other hand, sauntered off the trailer and down the trail like the pro he is rapidly becoming. Suzi was out of town, but Phyllis joined us riding Cricket.

We couldn’t have asked for a nicer ride! The beautifully mown trails meandered through thick forest. The horses wound through the trees and scaled strength-building hills.

New experiences in new places builds precious confidence in our young horses. Today’s gorgeous scenery kept us humans oohing and ahhing and thoroughly enjoying every new twist in the trail! We got to see Cricket doing what she does best: happily moving down the trail and showing the less experienced horses how it’s done. Cricket has enjoyed success in the horse show ring, but truly loves the trails. We’re excited to welcome her into the family!

We gave Phyllis a thank-you bottle of Monavie. Monavie gave Mark and I relief from the constant pain of back issues, overuse, and old injuries. We feel Monavie is the biggest gift we can share!

Tomorrow I’ll post Cricket’s pedigree and pictures. Tonight she grazes peacefully under a full autumn moon.

We-show Horse Show

We woke before the sun to groom and load the horses. Ours was the first trailer to roll into the horse show grounds. I hopped on Gideon first, determined to give him the slow warm-up he responds so well to– and to avoid my mistakes from the county fair horse show. Lucy and Angus practiced waiting patiently at the trailer for their turns.
Gideon schooled beautifully. Natural horse training methods let us lay a solid foundation at home and speed up success in the horse show ring. A game of “touch it with your nose” chased away Gideon’s initial apprehension at the gaily painted barrels around the grounds and in the arena.

The groundskeeper appeared and started shaking new garbage cans into the metal barrels around the ring. Gideon ignored the commotion and gave his most balanced canter yet.

By this time I was getting a little concerned. We still had the showgrounds to ourselves! I introduced myself to the groundskeeper and asked if we had the right weekend. He replied, just as puzzled, “yep, today’s the day of the horse show. They’ve usually started by now!”

There’s no such thing as a no-show. Clearly it was a We-Show! We were there…with a trailer full of promising young horses to school! And school we did, making full use of every opportunity we could create. Angus and then Lucy had their training sessions in the arena. Monavie kept my blood sugar level and my energy up as the heat and humidity skyrocketed.

Eventually another couple arrived with a lovely, half-Connemara yearling out for her first show exposure. We watched from a distance as the power of natural horsemanship –or lack thereof– became clearer and clearer. The filly’s handler held her tightly on a chain shank and walked her in small circles. The filly just got more and more wound up.

Natural horsemanship offers a toolbox to access when trouble kicks up. With a few basic communications in place, that filly could be handled in a way that would help her find harmony with her handlers and her surroundings. Her nervous energy could be channeled in a positive direction.  Instead, her frustration level mounted, along with her misbehavior.

A few more trailers pulled in with well-dressed riders. Cell phones hummed, new shows were found and the tiny crowd dispersed. We finally learned that the horse show had been cancelled earlier that week due to hurricane warnings, but no one bothered to tell the public!

No worries! Our horses were unloaded, hosed off and grazing in their pastures before worst of the day’s heat, after a thoroughly successful we-show horse show!

Gideon and Angus chillin' at the horse show

Antietam Battlefield Ride

I had the horse trailer hooked up and loaded by the time Mark got home from work. We grabbed the horses and a chilled bottle of Monavie and headed down the road to meet Scott and Noel at the Antietam battlefield for an afternoon trail ride.

I brought Lucy. We believe so firmly in building a solid foundation in our horses through a variety of cross-training. Even though this phenomenal Thoroughbred mare has the mind, talent and movement for the show hunter arena, she needs to be a horse first and foremost. I looked forward to seeing how she would handle the traffic, pedestrians, and ever-present monuments, placards and cannons around the battlefield.

What an amazing trail ride! The reality of the bloodiest battle of the civil war entwined with the sun-soaked afternoon and the joy of riding wonderful horses with great friends. The horses were champs. Lucy soaked in all the new sights like a sponge. She has such an incredible mind!

We explored a corner of Antietam we’d never seen. The wide, well-kept verges welcomed long, fitness-building trots. Dolly the Belgian even gave Mark his first triumphant steps of canter! Our loop covered paved roads, grassy verges and mown paths. The battlefield monuments provided plenty of fodder for creative training challenges.

The four humans joined in a refreshing Monavie toast as the sun set and horses happily munched hay. That Lucy just impresses me more and more all the time!

Thanks, Scott, for this great shot of Mark, Dolly, Lucy and I!

Trail Ride at Antietam Battlefield