Tag Archives: pony

Life in a Herd

9 Dec

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Living with a small herd of horses can teach you things you would never learn otherwise.

With a herd, you see the relationship between the horses and realize that this interaction is crucial to their well-being.  We kept a pony alone for awhile, and she was fine with us as her herd.  So people can be a substitute for the “horse herd.”  But you do miss out on seeing some amazing things.

Last night, Gypsy the pony entangled her back legs in the electric fence.  She was probably being a mare and kicking at the gelding on the other side.  She had been trapped in the fence tape for some time when I found her at morning chores.  She could not move, but didn’t fight the fence.  The gelding stood behind her, a vigilant guard in the next paddock and refused to move until I had freed Gypsy.

Gypsy stood quietly while I got a scissors and cut the strands.  She looked at me with complete trust.  I unwound her back legs and she walked off, unscathed, to eat hay.  She did stop to take a treat and bump me with her nose.

I shudder to think what Katie would have done if she had trapped her legs in the fence.  Katie spooks at her own shadow.

But then again, Katie surprises me sometimes by being sensible.  She is not as ditzy as she looks.  She would probably have evaluated the situation and waited, too.  At least, I hope she would have.

Back to the herd.  They all have their place and they look out for each other.  The geldings play rough- the other day Duke and Macho were kicking at each other with their back legs as they grazed, then stopped kicking and continued grazing.  They may have a mock battle, flailing front legs like wild stallions, then drop to graze nose to nose.

The mares have to kick and run and then graze together and stick together like glue against the geldings.  But put Katie back in with her long-term gelding buddy after a few hours and they immediately groom each others’ withers like long-lost friends.

The herd is a place of endless fascination and reveals the depth of the relationships that horses forge.

Katie Knows The Importance of Gratitude

29 Nov

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Katie understands the unique challenges of being a miniature horse.

Dear Katie, I am a 9 hand tall Shetland pony.  I can’t think of anything to be thankful for.  Can you help me?  I can only think about things that upset me, like small hay rations and fences.  Signed, Ungrateful

Dear Ungrateful, what you focus on increases, so be thankful for the small, good things in your life, such as:
-the times your “owner” accidently leaves the gate open
-the times the electric fence is turned off
-the pasture buddies that your “owner” didn’t bring home to eat your food
-the lush grass on the septic drainfield

If you focus on these things, soon your life will overflowing with riches.- Katie

The Blog of Unrideable Things

23 Oct

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First it was my bike.  The gears locked up an unpedalable position and the front wheel threatened to fall off.  So I couldn’t ride it.  Then my kids got a pony that was too small for me to ride.  Slowly I ended up with a farm full of unridable things.

It was a source of secret shame.  I had horses but nothing to ride.  And I liked to ride.  Soon I realized I was not alone.  Tannia’s grandma has six evil ponies and she said she’d trade them all for one ridable horse.

Then a friend confessed she was horse shopping because she had 7 lame horses at home.  Two of them belonged to a boarder who had disappeared, but still.  Seven lame horses lived in her pasture.

As time went on, I discovered people who had unrideable pasture pets of every persuasion.  It is amazing how many ways there are for a horse to be unrideable.  One horse has a mystery lameness.  Another has early arthritis, navicular, neurologic problems, is a chronic spooker, has back problems, ringbone, is partially blind, was abused as a yearling, rears, etc.

If you think you have problems, try being a horse.  In my past, most horses I knew were rideable.  In that state of affairs, a lame or dangerous horse went on the slaughter truck. I am not condoning the way it was done.  As a teen my dream was to have a retirement farm and save them all.  I wonder if that karma has come back to get me.

I do only have three.  Two are minis and one is a pony, so that is technically only 1 unrideable horse if you add them up.  And the pony is drivable.  Kind of.  Needs work.  But they’re cute and bring me a lot of joy.

I got the gears on my bike fixed.  It still kind of squeaks and rattles, but it’s a 25 year old bike. It rides great and is a lot less fickle than a horse.

I am not a Dressage Queen

20 Oct

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I am not a dressage queen, as you can see from my snazzy T-shirt over blue long underwear took.  You, too, can have this look at your next show.  I will explain how.

If you don’t know what a dressage test is, it’s a driven or ridden pattern in arena marked with letters.  You trot, circle, halt (or fall off) at various letters.  The test is approved and published by a prestigious horse committee of some sort.  They reached into a jar of letters, pulled them out randomly, put on blindfolds and stuck them on a prototype arena.  These letters are not alphabetical.  You enter at A, but the next letter is K.  There’s an M and a C and an E and a B  and an F all sitting there in no logical order for you to memorize.

Then you need to look at a test and memorize what to to between or at various illogical and memorized letters.  If you have a reader reading your test out loud you can only hope they don’t suffer from any form of dyslexia or happen to sneeze and lose their place and cue you to the wrong letter.

Then there’s a thing called a judge’s stand.  It’s a fancy table, sometimes with a scary canopy, at the end of the arena where the judge sits. The committee spent long hours figuring out how to make this table as scary as possible for a horse.  As your horse rounds the corner towards the judge’s stand they must pass the scary object and not spook.

So I decided to memorize ADT training test 1 (which I had already memorized since I never have advanced beyond this level) and take the outgrown riding pony to the show for a dressage test.

I packed a nice wool hunt coat to wear over my long underwear shirt.  I got to the show and put on the hunt coat and it was several sizes too small.  I had grabbed my kid’s hunt coat.  Every hunt coat looks pretty much the same until you put it on.  The sleeves were just below my elbow and it wouldn’t button.   Then they called me to go warm up.  I had to wear the long underwear shirt with my number on the back.  Not the classy impression I was hoping to make.

Pony entered the arena for some ground driving warm up and proceeded to whinny and  act like a giraffe with her head up.  This is not a spooky pony, but horses were whinnying in the stalls attached to the arena.  She calmed down in a few minutes and I hitched her up.  Off we went.  I should also admit that I had only driven pony three times this fall.  At a walk, mostly.  So I wasn’t sure what would happen when I asked her to trot.

I got a trot briefly, then an unauthorized walk.  I got her going again with my whip and was looking for the mystical letter X which lays in an ancient vortex in the center of the arena between the letters B and E, which are glued on opposite walls.  The holy grail of X was there somewhere, but apparently not where I was, as I stopped short.  But it was a nice stop.

So I saluted with my whip.  The judge looked at me with no response.  Oops.  I gave a big nod.  The judge nodded back and  we took off at the working trot.  We had to do an arena-wide circle.  I knew this could be bad.  But I had no idea how bad until I saw my own tire tracks.  The circle had an extra bulge like a a solar flare ready to shoot off the sun and decimate humanity.  The second circle lacked the bulge but was reminiscent of the Hindenburg before its fateful demise.

As I headed back to K or was it F the working trot had no momentum, except during a brief canter and lurch after I tapped her with the whip.  Pony generally doesn’t have momentum unless there is food involved.

But her trot was pretty.  This trot earned her many blues as a riding pony and when she collected today she was lovely.  I remembered to nod with my salute at x before exiting the arena and took a deep breath.  I had survived my test with the green pony who just needs better steering and conditioning.  We got a score of 64 which seemed generous, but I will take it.

The Legend of B-wert

20 Sep

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Long before we had Katie, we had a pony named B-wert.  You will notice many spellings of B-wert (bee-wurt), because we have no idea how to spell it.    Also, since this was so long ago, I had to draw B-wert from memory.

A friend had the brilliant idea that I should place a “pony wanted” ad on CL.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.   A nice lady emailed me back immediately, which should have been a red flag.

“I have a great pony gelding,”  she said,  “he’s ten hands and my stepdaughter rides him everywhere on trails.  I just want him to have a good home.  He’s free.  You sound like a good home.”

Or something to that effect.

We drove miles into the middle of nowhere, which also happened to be through a patch of rush hour traffic, with visions of adorable ponies dancing in our heads.

When we arrived, they were washing his tail.  I thought that was a bit odd since it was cold out.  They said they wanted to give him a bath so he looked nice for us.  I now know better.  If anyone is ever washing a horse’s tail when you arrive, run for your car.

He was kind of cute in an obese, bulgy, frizzy-maned Appaloosa sort of way.  He was a varnish roan POA/mini cross with a heart shape on his butt.  He actually had a second butt on top of his real butt.  Seriously.  I tried to draw it in the picture, but can’t do it justice.  His wide chest and short legs supported a true barrel-shaped middle.  Since the saddle just slid under his belly, the kids rode him bareback.   He walked and trotted fine, though not always where they wanted him to go.  The kids wanted him, of course.  I later discovered that they wanted every pony.

“What was his name again?”  I asked.

“Bwert,” she said.  “My husband brought him home one day from the neighbors’ and said that his name was Bwert.  Well, after we had him about a year, he suddenly remembered the B word was Bandit.  He had said his name was some B word.  But we just called him Bwert.”

Upon coming home, Bwert aka Bandit puffed himself up and headed for the hay.  Then diarrhea shot out the other end.  Every ten minutes.  All over the paddock.  We thought maybe he was a bit stressed.  But the next day and the next the same thing happened.  And the next.  We washed his tail, but it was futile.

Bwart also emitted the most horrible whinny whenever the pony mare left.  She could care less about him.  The neighbors were not impressed and asked us if we had a donkey.

The kids had a blissful week of riding Bwert up the road and around the property and avoiding diahrrea.

Then I made mistake of taking the vitamin bucket into his pen to fill his feed pan with his meager vitamin ration.   Due to exercise and sensible meals he no longer had a second butt on top of his rump.  So maybe he thought I was starving him.  He saw the bucket and took a running start, barreling over the top of me and sending the bucket flying.  He proceeded to scarf up the spilled vitamins as I lay stunned on my back.  I looked up, and from my vantage point, thought I saw something that shouldn’t be there.

It was a little bulgier than it should be back between his back legs.  I had never seen a gelding look quite like that.  But he wasn’t quite as obvious as a stallion.  So I had to feel back there.  Sure enough, not-quite-descended testicles.   I suspect no one wanted to pay for expensive cryptorchid gelding surgery on Bwert.

I called the old owner and said he was a stallion and I didn’t want a stallion.  And he ran me over.

“He’s a gelding,”  she said,  “but I never really looked.  I think the other owners gelded him.  They did everything themselves.  You’re probably just seeing scar tissue.  And he probably just thought the vitamins were grain.  You shouldn’t have gone in his paddock with grain.”

She didn’t believe me, but said she’d get him.  Fortunately her friend came to drive the truck and trailer.  I showed the owner the testicles, but she still didn’t believe me.  Her friend walked over, took one look and  and said, “yup, that’s a stallion”  and took his lead rope from me.

A few months later I saw him advertised for sale by another person on CL as gelding.  His price started at $800 and went down to $300 over the months, and I never knew what happened to him.  I felt like I should have emailed them and let them know, but ignorance is bliss.

Always a Bridesmaid

28 Jul

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Katie again placed second in trail class to a talented paint horse.  She saw a gelding looking at her in the paddock next to the course and suddenly forgot how to pivot.  But she mastered the rest of the course, including a real mailbox from which we had to get the mail and show it to the judge.  We also placed second in showmanship behind a flashy and well-behaved paint horse (there were a few of these at the show!) who obeyed his handler, unlike Katie.

 

Katie Explains that There is Nothing to Fear Except Fear Itself

3 Jul

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Katie understands the unique challenges of being a miniature horse.

Dear Katie, I am a 30 inch tall miniature horse. I don’t feel confident in myself– before I bite people, I worry they might get mad.  How do I stop caring so much about what people think and do what I know is right (bite them when they don’t feed me enough)? signed,  Braveheart

Dear Braveheart, when you have a conviction, you must feel the fear and do it anyway.  If you feel they are not feeding you enough, you should bite them.   Do not worry what people think.  They are mostly thinking about themselves and when you bite them, they will think about you and feed you. – Katie

Katie Explains Why It Is Important to Express Your Feelings

23 Jun

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Katie understands the unique challenges of being a miniature horse or pony.

Dear Katie,  I am 45 inch tall Shetland pony.  My people keep dressing me in costumes and saying I am going to win at the Fair.  I don’t want to win.  Last time I won, the kid leading me stabbed me in the side with the trophy.  I know it was an accident, but I still want revenge.  What can I do?  Signed, Crabby Shetland

Dear Crabby,  I understand your problem, as I, too have been dressed in many costumes.  The best way to deal with being stabbed with a trophy is to bite the person immediately.  If you express your feelings, you will not have to suffer and waste time planning revenge.  – Katie

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Starlings Going for a Ride

28 May

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Katie Knows That What Comes Around, Goes Around

24 May

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Katie understands the unique challenges of being a miniature horse or pony.

Dear Katie,  I am a 10 hand tall summer camp pony.  I am very bored with trotting around in circles with tots on my back.  What can I do?- signed, Been Around the Block

Dear Been, Do you jump?  You can always go over the fence instead of trotting around in a circle.  This is guaranteed to get you a new job.  If you don’t jump, there’s always stop, drop and roll.  Good luck! – Katie