Horseback Trip Cost Calculator

Nothing beats trailering to off-the-farm field trips for increasing a horse’s confidence and competencies… and nothing is more fun!

We just discovered this trip cost calculator.  How cool!  Our F350 didn’t show up in their automatic fields, but they allow you to enter your own information.

Before you hitch up your horse trailer and load your tack and your horse for a clinic, horse show, or trail ride, plug in your stats. You’ll find out how much fuel you’ll use, how much it’ll cost, and even where to find cheap gas and diesel along the way!

What’s big horsey adventures are YOU planning?  Share your plans in our comments!

Family Trail Ride: Horse Dreams Come True II

The family was finally ready to live their dream of a family trail ride. I trailered the ever-dependable Lucy over to join them. While the family was tacking up, Lucy and I fully enjoyed playing in an actual ARENA. Our grassy riding area at home has lots of obstacles and natural challenges, but the consistent sand footing and an actual “rail” were a nice change.

 

Laura was ready first. we played a couple of games with bending poles and pick-up cones waiting for the others. Lucy settled right in with the strange horses to give her nicest canters ever and even show off a little in the games. At around 16.2 hands, Lucy towers over the family’s Quarter Horses. Her long and floating strides made the arena seem small.

 

Everyone assembled, made sure their breaks and steering worked, and checked their girths a final time. I hung the camera off my saddle.

 

Love, dedication and natural horsemanship laid the foundation. Autumn’s glory set the stage. Let the Dream unfold!

 

 

 

Dream come true:  ready for a family trail ride on horseback

“Ready to Ride!” The Knock family and Lucy. I’m on Lucy’s back, shooting the picture.

 

 

 

The old man in the oak, a burl in an ancient tree looks decidedly Entish

Straight from Lord of the Rings,”The Old Man in the Tree” looks like one of Tolkein’s Ents

 

 

Shed building

We pass the guys assembling a new chicken coop in the back field- and see another kind of Deere.

 

Horse supervises shed project

“Do they know what they’re doing?” June seems to ask.

 

 

 

…Now to find a husband horse for Dad!

Horse Dreams Come True

I started teaching the Knock’s several years ago.  Their dream was to trail ride as a family.  When we started, they had one young, barely broke, extremely fearful Quarter Horse.  Hardly material for group pleasure ride success!

Stormy the been-there-done-that school horse joined the family.  The flashy but fiery Tommy “followed them home” from a horse sale and left later, much better behaved but still too exuberent to trust to a family trail ride.  Saintly Molly the Mule looked to be the perfect husband horse but a vicious, aggressive tumor took her all too soon.

Through it all, Christa persevered with Ebony, the original QH filly.  Natural horsemanship techniques built her confidence and her skills in both the English and Western disciplines.  Clicker training gave her a “why” (release of pressure, “good girl” and a scritch weren’t motivation enough for her deeply introverted personality).  Christa’s horsemanship and equitation blossomed.  When we realized according to an arbitrary rule that Ebony would need to wear a curb bit and do flying lead changes (neither of which she was ready for) to show in the next Western division, we quickly taught both horse and teenager the basics of hunt seat and jumping and sent them to clean up in the English arena.

Christa and the younger Laura (matched with ever-reliable Stormy) dominated the local show circuit.  Mom Kathy tested and expanded her horsemanship with Tommy  and Molly.  Dad joined in for field trips to horse expos and Parelli Tour Stops, but “Family trail ride” lingered untouched on the goal list.

June joined the family this summer.  Not the perfect pleasure mount, but she and Kathy clicked. Extra training sessions brought her along quickly.  Most importantly, Kathy’s confidence soared.  After all this time supporting her daughters and diligently taking lessons, she had a trustworthy horse “of her own!”

At last, the stage was set for the dream to come true.

Video Play, Medieval Jousting

We’re exploring our beloved SmugMug as an alternative to YouTube. SmugMug already hosts our Laughing Gypsy Photography and TerraWolf Photography. We’ve been thrilled with the sites–and with the print quality of the photos they produce!

Now they support video… happy dance!

Here is a jousting pass from the Maryland Renaissance Fair on Labor Day Weekend. Let us know if you agree that the video quality is waaay beyond YouTube! We welcome your comments!

 

 

 

 

 

Natural Horsemanship in the Middle Ages

The Web Whisperer just overcame a longstanding glitch in our systems. We are now able to access all the horse training, horse showing, and adventuring media we have been creating through the last few months. Expect a bunch of belated updates!

Our friends in a neighboring kingdom hosted an SCA medieval equestrian practice. We jumped at the opportunity to play our favorite medieval horsemanship games with great people while increasing our horses’ competencies. We love win-win-win!

Our horses faced new places, new horses, and new challenges…even new outfits! Natural horsemanship laid a solid foundation for acceptance and quick mastery of new experiences. Clicker training accelerated the horses’ comfort level with flailing swords, bobbing lances and billowing costumes.

Lucy, of course, took it all in stride:

Lucy, 5 yo TB mare for sale, cross-trains at an SCA medieval equestrian practice

 

Lucy, all around TB mare for sale, cross trains at an SCA equestrian practice

Lucy, all around TB mare for sale, jousting at the quintain

Natural Horsemanship in a Sabre Skirmish

In uploading video from this weekends’ Cavalry demonstration, I noticed another example of natural horsemanship principles at work in the very unnatural setting of the sabre skirmish:

 

 

 

 

Watch the grey and the palomino. Notice their riders aren’t carrying weapons. (Notice, too, the grey starts out clearly saying “no way!” to the engagement!)

It appears that these two horses are new to mock battle. (We saw the palomino being introduced to mounted shooting with a horsey buddy to give him confidence.) Their riders weave in and out of the circling horses and clanging swords.

Moving forward through a series of achievable, progressive steps is the hallmark of an effective horse training program. How better to teach a flight animal to willingly plunge into battle!

Natural Horsemanship and Cavalry Mounted Shooting

Natural horsemanship pops up in the most unexpected places!

Mark and I stopped in at the National Conservation Center for their Autumn Conservation Festival. The Center is located almost next door to Mark’s house, which we’ve been prepping for sale throughout the summer. Throughout the early 1900’s, the Center acted as a bustling Cavalry Remount Station. The 7th Virginia Division E Cavalry set up their encampment and performed demos throughout this weekend’s festival.

One of the training drills resembled our medieval reenacting game of Behead the Enemy and the increasingly popular cowboy mounted shooting. Horse and rider race down a line of head-high balloons trying to shoot them at speed.

 

 

 

A cavalry officer on a novice horse unwittingly demonstrated a foundational principle of natural horsemanship: work with the horse’s instincts to make the right thing easy. In this case, another rider on a seasoned mount flanked the spooky horse throughout the run. The novice horse gained confidence from the veteran’s nonchalance in the face of gunfire, smoke, and popping balloons.

 

 

 

I guess you can take the natural horseman out of the training arena, but you can’t take the training arena out of the natural horseman. Even on “non-horsey” days natural horsemanship pursues us!

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

Natural Horsemanship at the MPHSC Horse Show

Despite visiting family, we managed to work in a quick trip to the Maryland/Pennsylvania Horse Show Circuit show. We brought along Angus, Lucy and Gideon. The show grounds offered an indoor and outdoor arena, and a large field to play in. We left Angus and Lucy contentedly munching hay at the trailer. We set off with Gideon in search of adventure and horse training success. Mark generously joined us with the camera.

Natural Horsemanship challenges us to work with our surroundings to create original and effective ways to train our horses. Yesterday’s heavy rains left a long 4 foot wide pool of water that called to my imagination. While other riders avoided the “icky field” and crowded into the outdoor ring to warm up, Gideon and I took the trail less traveled by. What a perfect opportunity to focus Gideon’s mind away from the nervous chaos of the horse show and towards deeper partnership and communication with his person!

At first Gideon was nervous, but obedient. He responded to my request to cross the water with a willing and careful jump:

Natural Horsemanship Jumping Water

 

Despite his overzealous effort, I rewarded his try with a click and a treat. Success builds confidence and soon Gideon was splashing calmly through the water:

 

Natural Horsemanship Crossing Water

The water crossing exercise engaged Gideon’s mind and brought about obedience and relaxation far more effectively than endless circles around the warm up ring. I mounted up and together Gideon and I wound through the hustle and bustle of the in-gate and along the road. My goal was to seek out every “challenge” the show grounds offered and turn them into games to increase Gideon’s brains and bravery.

 

Horse in Traffic

 

We made our way to the gaming arena. The speed events were over, so Gideon had to be comfortable by himself in this unknown arena. Opportunities like this leave no excuse for buddy sour or barn sour horses! We played around with the barrels and the poles, then did a typical “hunter show warm up” just to prove there were no holes left in his foundation.

Natural Horsemanship Bravery with Barrels

Natural Horsemanship Pole Bending

 

The horse show folks were wonderful but the class schedule was chaotic. We were looking to show in the hunter classes or the pleasure classes. I even packed along western tack just in case that was our only option!

Our possible classes were pushed far later than we intended to stay. As it was we decided leave without schooling Angus and Lucy. They have both become so calm and consistent at horse shows and other field trips, and we had family to visit with!