Monday, November 24, 2014

In which Chimi is Afraid of a Mini Horse

With fall in full swing and winter approaching way to quickly, I am getting back into the swing of things since I took some time off to plan my wedding, get married, and enjoy a fun little honeymoon! So now I'm faced with a pasture of fat, furry unfit ponies that are getting ready to head into winter. With predictions of this coming winter, and arctic air already finding it's way towards us in SC, I'm trying to get in as many rides in as I can!
Warm summer day trail rides of past....

So the other day in the cold (42* is cold for November in SC!) I took Chimi out for our first ride of our "Back to It" fitness program. We headed out to the woods for a pleasant trail ride (plus I don't really have a great area to ride at my house- the flattest part has a burn pile on it that was started by the previous owners and we keep needing to add stuff to it!)

I decided to go on the River Ride because it was fairly flat, good footing, and would be quick enough for me to get home before it got dark. So off I go on a fresh 17h Oldenburg who was excited to be out and about. Chimi enjoyed a good trot down the driveway and then we wiggled through the woods, down along the road and headed into the Small Field that would take us to the trail that follows the river. Well, the neighbors that live in the house by the river have 3 horses- 2 normal sized ones and a cute little mini named Prince. As it happened they were out walking/riding in the River Field which you can just sorta see from the entrance of the Small Field. Both the bay and the grey had riders and there were 2 people on the ground with one walking the Mini. Now to give you guys an idea how far away they were- I couldn't tell who was who. All I saw was 2 horses and 1 mini with some people on the ground. If I could guess how far away they were I'd say easily 1/4 of a mile as the crow flies. Again- note of importance THEY WERE FAR AWAY. Suddenly Chimi's head went straight up in the air and he stopped dead in his tracks and refused to move forward. I know that my horse has some unnatural fear of mini's but usually he doesn't freak out unless they're close. Prince was a QUARTER of a mile AWAY and walking the opposite direction of us! I did everything I could to get Chimi walking forward but all I got was a horse quickly descending into a full blown panic attack. Chimi was running backwards, hopping up, and shaking like a leaf. I knew I had to get out of there because I was by myself, the situation was only getting worse, and did not need to push the issue at that moment. Poor Chimi was so freaked out he couldn't even process that I was trying to walk out of the field (in some manner of control) that he just kept going backwards and looking around for the "Evil Munchkin". FINALLY after about 5-10ish minutes he blasts through the opening in the fence and we jog our way back the way we came. I let him open up into a controlled trot b/c he needed to get some distance between us and that "Thing".

REALLY Chimi??? They're so tiny!!!!

I finally get him calmed down and headed off towards the Grain Bins- the opposite way of the river and my intended plan! On our way to the grain bins we passed by my neighbors house and their 2 dogs were out. They started barking and jumped out from behind the trees to bark some more at us- Chimi could care less. He just kept walking. We head into the woods and up to the Hill Field with deer jumping through the woods getting away from us. Chimi ignores them. We then have a nice trot around the Hill Field , scaring even more deer, and Chimi just blasting around the field in a big trot enjoying himself. We head back into the woods and scare up even more deer and Chimi continues to ingnore them. I mean seriously- my horse is afraid of a MINI but doesn't even bat an eye at camouflaged deer and barking dogs leaping through trees????????? 

Fall leaves- somewhere in those woods are hundreds of deer!

We even spotted a 6 point buck and his doe-friend on our way home and it was like Chimi and the deer were good friends. We just walked by them and they watched us go by without taking off into the woods. I think Chimi did a little horsie wave as we went by. Heck I wonder if the buck comes and shares a blade or two of grass with Chimi at night. They could be sitting around at night talking about the weather for all I know!!!

Do you see the Buck? He's in the middle

But thinking on this- I'm glad my horse isn't bothered by the deer. There are so many that live near us that going on trail rides would be very difficult if he freaked out every time a deer jumped. I think we'll run into more deer around the area than we will miniature horses. But I do need to find him a mini friend so he can get over his fear!!!! My mom has a neighbor with a bunch of mini's.... Might be talking to her about keeping Chimi for a day!!!!! HA!

Between the ears 

Monday, November 17, 2014

SFTS Blog Hop- The Horse that Made Me

I've always wanted to participate in a blog hop and just haven't gotten around to it. So here goes- this one sounded fun and who doesn't like to talk about their horses???? Thanks to Stories from the Saddle for this Blog Hop!

I've been blessed with a lot of great horses in my life that have shaped my riding and made me who I am today as a rider. Every horse/pony from Joker to my current guys, Chimi and Marley, have had an influence in propelling me forward in my horsemanship, riding ability, and love of all things horse. But the horse that stands out as the most influential is Johnny, hooves down.

Johnny at Up and Over

I was 14 when Johnny and I started our relationship. I remember it was the summer of 1999- he was a green 5 year old and I was ready to step up to a horse that could take me to my upper level Pony Club ratings and one that I could learn, train and compete on. Even though he had been in training for just about a year, his personality was such that we could learn together and he would forgive me for my mistakes and I could learn from his.

Johnny at FENCE- Fall 1999

Johnny and I had a short show career together all considering, but in those 2 years I learned so much and my riding really took off. Our first season of Eventing was Fall 1999 and our last event was at Farewell- Fall of 2001. It was almost fitting that out last event was called Farewell! Between those events we went from bumbling our way around a BN course, to qualifying for Pony Club Nationals in Show Jumping (2000) and Combined Training (Training- 2001), achieving my C-3 rating, and moving up to Training level. We were looking at Prelim when everything started to fall apart.

Last show at Farewell- 2001

 The story of Johnny is long- and if you're interested you can read it here. Eventually a pinched spinal cord prevented Johnny from continuing on and now he is happily retired. He has a girlfriend named Ellie and the two are like peas in a pod. He's probably been a pasture ornament longer than he was under saddle but he deserves to enjoy his retirement. 

Johnny and Gus snoozing

Johnny and his lady friend Ellie

When it comes to my development as a rider, Johnny gave me the confidence I needed at that point in my riding. I went from being scared to jump 2'9" to jumping 3'6" courses. I went from thinking I was going fast at BN and coming in with slow penalties to getting speed faults at Training level. I learned what success felt like and I learned what defeat felt like. And I learned how to pick up the pieces and move forward. Cheers to Johnny for making me the rider I am today!

BN at Hopeland

Dressage warm-up at CT Rally- FENCE 2001