Wednesday, November 19, 2014

ADT #6 & ADT #7

I haven't said much about getting Kat going, but for a change we got to compete over the weekend. It was fun to be able to get out there and give it a go again and since the ADT's were back to back it kept costs minimal. We were and still are in 3rd place in the year end standings, this just helped make it stick. We placed 4th both days, thru some error or another, but for the most part we had fun. Our scores under both judges were respectable and probably the best we have gotten so far. All things considered, how can I not be thrilled about that?

Over the weekend I had one of those A-HA! moments with my pony. You know when the light comes on and you finally 'get it' in relation to something that you're doing or not doing. That's when you know what changes need to be made and from here on out, it is going to make a HUGE difference in how things are going.

I was also complimented and congratulated on gelding him. And let me tell you... he was so much BETTER to deal with the whole time. There was not one mark on our dressage scores about him 'calling' and I think all totaled, he whinnied maybe 3 times over the two days. Big change there, BIG CHANGE!

As for the Katman, he's going strong. We have a play date to take a friend of mine out for a drive next weekend and then the following weekend is the Darby and Christmas party in Coolidge. We've also been invited to go caroling with a group from the driving club, but I'm not sure if we will be able to make it but it sounds like fun...

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My pony Rocks!!!

But you all know that. Right??? lol

Something happened a while back that I have forgotten to mention. My pony has such a good mind about him and handles so much with no problem, but this just clearly shows it. If you've been following the posts on my blogs for any amount of time and seen how far we've come, you might have an idea of what he's like to deal with. Those who have met him in person, can attest to his willing and honest personality. This was one of those moments however, that leaves you just shaking your head and smiling, proud of your equine partner in so many ways.

Since moving the horses, Kat has had a sort of makeshift shade on his stall. It consists of some poles, clips and tarps as long as they last. Now we have all seen the different trainers and clinicians working with horses to overcome their fear of tarps, getting the horse to step on them, then walk over them, allow the tarp to be draped on them and for the horse to accept the tarp calmly without fuss. My little Katman could make them all look like fools.

Kat has always had an easygoing nature about him. He takes things in stride and doesn't often get spooked by things. Certainly not to the point of bolting and taking off or anything. Sure he will stop and look at things he's not too sure about, but he doesn't let it freak him out to the point of going crazy over stuff.

The tarp I had over Aruba's pen was moved to be used as a shade over Kat's pen after I moved panels around, reconfigured things and changed it all up to where the mares shared a shade. It was a lot of work, but well worth it. The tarp was getting to be in sorry shape from the sun beating down on it and the wind blowing it around. It needed to be replaced so I started to take it down. Kat was still in the stall and as the tarp came down, it covered him completely. He was standing up against the rail and the tarp was draped over him and it both.

He never moved. Instead he just stood there, calm and still as could be, unfazed in the least. I went around to the back of the stall on the outside and started to pull the tarp out and off of my pony. Still he stood there without moving. No excitement, no wild eyed looks, just sighed at me as if to say- whatever...

I did pull him out of the stall while I put a new tarp up. He was tied to the rail along the front so he could munch on the grass under his little tree. The whole time I was moving the tarp, unfolding it, spreading it out, tying it up and doing things a good number of horses may be bothered by, Kat just munched on the grass and looked up at me standing on the rails without so much as a care. Any wonder why I have never been disappointed with him?

Monday, October 20, 2014


I pulled Kat out over the weekend and took him for a spin around the block. We logged about a mile and a half, mostly at a brisk trot and he did AWESOME! We walked out and down to the end of the street before we hit go, when Kat trotted on as smooth as can be. He was a little slow on the way out, but kept a steady pace for the most part and it was absolutely wonderful. Ponyman never fails to disappoint in this category. He has gotten to the point where I can just pull him out, harness him up and GO! We also found some residual puddles and blasted thru them too. He's getting to be a point and shoot pony and I'm loving him for it, all that much more.

I brought out the good harness since the other one got wet and molded in the box from the last rain. I am in the process of cleaning it up and oiling the hell out of it, because it is still a decent harness, it just got soaking wet. Apparently the lid of the container leaked and it was in standing water for a couple of days before I found it. Time for a new container, but otherwise no major loss. This is why my good harness stays home in the house unless for use.

With the new marathon shafts I did have to move the tugs up a few holes on the harness, but otherwise everything was all set and we're good to go. It will be interesting to see if Kat can maneuver better in the cones now because of the changes. The shafts now sit back more by the harness saddle, rather than coming all the way up by his shoulder and everything so far is working in his favor.

One thing I did notice on our drive was a LOT more clinking and jingling. It seems that with the new shafts, the cart is Finally BALANCED like it should have been all along. The shafts now float in the tugs instead of resting in them. This is a big deal and a huge difference for the horse. With the shafts resting IN the tugs, there is weight on the harness saddle and essentially on his back. With the cart balanced and the shafts floating in the tugs- the weight is all on the axle and the cart where it belongs. No weight on their back for horse to carry means they have an easier time of pulling the cart as all of their energy goes only towards that.

I didn't get any pic's, because I didn't have any pockets to keep my phone in. Instead it was stuffed in the boot of my passenger. Katman was a rockin' it in his usual way and seemed happy to be out and about. I let him walk a little ways and then asked him to pick up the trot on the way home. He was trucking along in his easy going working trot and before long we were back at the house. Little guy worked up a sweat and needed a rinse and as an appreciation for his effort he got turned out. Of course he rolled! He was also covered head to tail in dirt. As long as he's a happy pony, it doesn't bother me. GRINS

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Long overdue

I think I finally figured out a way to post pictures to the blog again. Granted these aren't the best, but they are up. Here's something some of you may not have seen and something many of us haven't seen in a while...

This was the crappy leather harness I started Kat in with my nylon purple ground lines. He broke the lines that go with this harness long before we started driving. I keep this one out with the horses as I usually use it for long line work with him and I wouldn't be so upset if it a) goes missing or b) get ruined by the weather.  At least not nearly as upset as I would be if it were my good harness which is kept inside.

You may also be able to see something else that has been changed in these photos. Something I have been waiting waaaay too long and waaaay too patiently to have. I will try to get better photos of this later but I FINALLY got my marathon shafts!!!! I still have to make one more small alteration to it, but for the most part, the cart is exactly the way I want it now. Yay!!! 

I'm not sure what happened or why the pic's all ended up along the side. I have tried a few things to fix it and no go. We either get the pic's along the side like that or none at all. I figured everyone likes to see pic's so here they are.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Where to start?

How do I get into driving or give it a try?  Several people have mentioned in the comments here and on other blogs about wanting to try diving. To that I boldly say GO FOR IT! If you've ever seen it and wanted to know more- the internet makes it easy to find s.o.m.e.o.n.e. out there who does it and would gladly help you give it a shot. I know our driving club is always looking for new members to keep things going and input on how to get more of us out there and involved.

Now I know not everyone is cut out for competition. Not everyone who rides or owns horses, competes. While there are many different events to compete in on horseback, driving is a little more limited, but not by any huge margin and drivers are not to be outdone when it comes to having FUN.

One place to start is the American Driving Society or ADS website. If you scroll over the words, it is a 'clicky link' to their page with the different Regions listed.  Find your state and click on your Region. It will produce a page with the Regional Director contact info, below that is a calendar of everything going on for the month in your Region. Below that is a list of all of the driving clubs in that region listed alphabetically by state. Each club lists their primary contact person, phone numbers, emails and of course their websites.

Nevada was the only state I seen that didn't have any information listed at this time. Utah and a couple other states only listed a name and phone number, but I'm sure the person listed or anyone at the ADS would be willing to pass along someone's information on who to contact to get involved. The Midwestern and Northwestern Regions also included Canadian driving clubs for our northern neighbors who enjoy driving too.

If you don't find anything nearby or close enough, you might also try looking on the website of the Carriage Association of America. Again this is another 'clicky link' taking you to their page listing all of their Chapters. While their websites and emails aren't set up as direct links, if you can copy and paste, you can get thru to them and find them online.

Both the ADS & CAA have a calendar of scheduled events. When and where of what's happening in the driving world. The CAA list isn't quite as extensive as the ADS list, the ADS also has an omnibus page listing all of their CDE's or Combined Driving Events, which are similar to 3 day eventing for those new to all of the driving talk.

My advice on this? Find a club, find an event and GO! Even if you just go to watch- GO! You can admire the horses from afar or go up and talk to people. The owners, drivers, trainers, event organizers, etc. that I have met, have been a friendly group so far, but you will find yourself immersed in it and there is soooo much to take in.

Talking to the different competitors and their trainers, you can set up a time to go take a driving lesson and give it a shot. This is kinda like test driving a car, you can try it before you buy it, type of deal. If you aren't confident enough to continue or decide driving is not your 'thing', you can at least say you gave it a try. You aren't 'out' the cost of lessons, training, harness, carriages/carts, gear, etc.

If you do decide to get into driving, you will have made a connection with a trainer who can help you either transition your current horse over to driving or help you find another one who already does. They may also have or know where to find all of the things you will need to get going in this new direction. It can be expensive, but then show me some aspect of anything we do with horses that isn't?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Where I'm at

I have a few posts floating around in the drafts and I had a look at them to see if there was anything ready or even close to ready to be published. One of the posts got me to thinking about how far we've come and where we are or were going with driving, when all of this started a few years ago.

When I started driving Kat, I knew we would be doing things alone for the most part and so his training was tailored for that. He would need to be solid and steady when harnessing up and putting to as well as unhitching from the cart and putting everything away. Kat and I have pretty much flown solo all along.

One thing I had set my sights on was going as far with it as we could. Would I love to be able to drive at the Live Oak in Ocala or Gladstone in New Jersey? Sure! It helps that I have friends who live 5-10 minutes away from both venues and it would be a hell of an awesome blast to see them again.

Am I disappointed if Kat and I never make it? Who wouldn't be? But right now, it's not in the cards for us. simply put, I don't have the time or the money to do either one. Entries and expenses alone would be a killer.

Now I'm not one to throw a big pity party so how about we look at what Kat and I HAVE accomplished so far.

1) He is the second pony/horse I have ever trained to drive. The first one was my daughters pony mare Pi and while it went smoothly enough and was fun in the beginning, it ended horribly with a wreck because of a number of factors. Nobody was decapitated got seriously hurt, but the cart was destroyed and Pi made it very clear she was NOT on interested in pulling one EVER again. My best friend also vowed that day she would never ride in a cart with me again. Ever. Although we occasionally joke about it and I make the offer, she won't budge. It's ok. We can still laugh about it all these years later.  

2) We started out at training level and moved up to Prelim. We had 3 very well respected votes to move up when we did. This one still blows me away.  Because of my lack of time, money and knowledge leading up to this, to think that these people had faith in us and seen what we were or are capable of doing? This still blows me away. Because when you look back-

3) I had no trainer. I have made numerous attempts to get together with Gary before different events and try to slip a lesson in and it. just. never. happened. Other than sending him an email with a few pictures and a likely lame ass description of what I was doing (or trying to do) and where we had problems, I never got to really work WITH him or have him give me directions and really nail things down. Had I been able to send the pony to him or anyone else, or really work with a trainer on a consistent basis, who knows where we might have gone or how far we could've taken it.

4) Consistency. We had very little of this as far as putting the proper amount of time into it. There were times when Kat and I would only get to drive once a week and then we hit an event as a pair of weekend warriors. This was sooooooo not fair to him and Damned if he wasn't a trooper thru all of it. Pony man never failed to fire and the last few ADT's he went way beyond what I ever could have expected.

5) Ground driving and long line work was not on my 'to do' list as far as learning things goes. Kat has taught me a LOT when it comes to ground driving and long line work. Thanks to Sherri, a driving club member who told me she often does more work without the cart than she does with it, I knew what we needed to work on.  When I think back to the early days of our ground driving and long line work- it was boring, mundane, tedious and I doubt it was anything fancy to look at. We both got thru it. We learned. I learned. I learned a lot and I soaked it all in. I still have an image in my mind of Kat rocked back and moving like a freight train, bold, powerful and BIG, working in the front pasture flooded with irrigation water.  He was a sight to behold. I now know how to get that movement from other horses and how great it looks when they do it.

6) Confidence. Kat has become a pretty level headed point and shoot horse. With the exception of the last ADT and his two hair brained incidents (one in the cones and one in hazard 3), he has become pretty confident and goes where I aim him. Water has been a big issue all along, but with the second water hazard at the ADT in Sonoita and the water hazard at the ADT in Prescott, he went in with little whipping, swearing, threats coaxing and encouragement.  He figured out the water hazard in Paulden after several attempts in the beginning and he handled the huge runoff puddles near the house rather well the last time we went thru them too. 

We may never make it to Gladstone or Ocala, but with all things considered? We have already come a long way and accomplished a lot, with what little we had to work with. I'm proud of my pony and I'm looking forward to what is next to come. He's still in shape, looking damned good from the pictures I've gotten and shared via email (Blogger won't let me upload them for some reason) and the last time I had him in the lines- He. Nailed. It.  I need to see what's on the calendar for the fall and bring him back to work in harness.

The Katman cometh...

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Passing time

I have got to get Kat back to work, but since I am not planning on hitting any real events for the rest of the year, it seems kind of pointless to push him for much. Right now it is just hotter than hell. Add in a bit of humidity from the clouds that keep appearing and threatening to drench things and it is almost miserable.

I have been working him though so he is still in shape. I turn each horse out and clean their stall, then work them a bit before bringing them back in and switching horses. The order is always changed up and I can leave one out overnight so that's helping. Whenever the hormones finally clear his system and Kat no longer thinks he is the man about town, I can maybe rearrange things and make a bigger turnout/work arena for them all.

I did get in touch with a local girl though thru a sad chain of events that led us to meet. She lost her horse and it was one of the foals from my WB mare, before I got her. I offered to let her come meet my mare and see her and as horse people do, we got to talking about almost everything under the sun. Well it turns out that her family has mini's and all of the gear to drive them, but no idea where to start.

OF COURSE I offered to take her for a drive with Kat! I also offered to help her get their minis going in harness too. The thing about driving? It's like any other equine sport. Once you're hooked.... there's no going back.