Thursday, December 12, 2013

Wrapping things up

With the driving club fun Darby and Christmas Party last weekend, things are done for the year for the most part. The party is usually also a club meeting and new things were discussed, new ideas and so on. It seems like things are on the up and up and hopefully there will be more ADTs to attend as well as some new events. 

Kat has been enjoying his time off and with three very well respected votes last year at the CDE to move him up to Prelim next year, I am hoping we can do it. Since he has been my first experience training a driving horse from start to ??? it will be unknown territory. How do you train a horse to do things, when you are barely learning it yourself?  This should be fun and it will truly be a learning experience for both of us.

With the past few months flying by and now here we are almost halfway through December, Christmas and New Years almost upon us and everything else that goes along with the crazy busy Holiday Season, my wish for you is a safe and peaceful time, spent with those you love and plenty of joy to go around.

Peace on earth, good will towards men...

Friday, October 18, 2013

Second drive around

Sunday I put Kat to the cart again and mostly just focused on walking. Because he has gotten a little pudgy, he was more than happy to start out slow and keep it that way. We worked on bending and softening for starters, and when he decided to jog, I let him. I also dropped my right rein for the most part. If I wasn't holding onto it, I couldn't hang onto him.

When going to the left, I had to pick up my right rein here and there, to keep Kat out on the rail or to keep him from cheating his circles, but he did pretty well without it to lean on. Fixing my mistakes is helping fix his habits.

We ended up working on his normal trot, extended trot, collected trot, the three variations of his walk, halts, backing up, large circles, small circles, pivoting the cart on one wheel, serpentines and anything else I could think of. We also sort of worked on the 'long and low' work as described in the prelim dressage tests for the ADT's. What I ended up using as the 'cue' for it was contact in the begining and slowly letting him have more rein as I eased him forward to find that same contact.

Maybe I will come up with a voice command to go along with it later on, but for now this seemed to work. He seemed to understand what I was asking of him or at least it felt that way in the cart. At least when you are riding, you have your legs to help you. You also have a buckle in your reins in a useful spot. If I were to drive 'on the buckle', he could literally stop and graze. There would be no control.

Overall Kat did really well and I am quite pleased with him. Maybe I will just keep his workouts to a minimum, his food a little on the large portion side and his weight a little heavy on the hoof. Then he won't be so inclined to get all wound up and misbehave.  Even if he does, he would be too out of shape to sustain it for long...  Of course the flip side of all of that would be him getting injured because he is out of shape and that's a road I just don't want to go down.  There's got to be a happy medium, right?

Monday, October 14, 2013

A La Carte

I drove over the weekend and while it has been some time since I did, little man rose to the occasion did not disappoint! He's just an awesome little guy that way.  Pulling him out of pasture and putting the harness on him on Saturday,  I could just tell he was excited about doing something again. Anything...

In case anyone didn't know- he has been the center of attention for the past two years and then since March, after the CDE, has been back to just hanging out doing nothing. He was turned out and brought in as usual, but we only drove maybe 3 times since then. The last time it wasn't all that good because he was excited and ready for action.

Saturday I put him in long lines before putting him to the cart. I also put him back in the snaffle bit. He has had plenty of time to forget the old ways of doing things and I want to bring him back around on a positive note.  I figured a quick ground driving 'refresher course' was in order before putting him to the cart, plus the work in long lines would let him blow off some steam so he wouldn't feel like racing around much.

We started with our bending and softening work and mostly I worked on letting go of the right rein. I have held it so long and so much, he leans on it as a crutch and doesn't seem to bend to the left as well. When we first started, he was soft to the left and the right side was the problem. Well I fixed that all right, but let the left side go. Now I am focusing a little more on the left and letting go of the right. Part of it is my own issue of holding onto him and not letting him do the work as asked.

When I let go of the right rein and had him trotting in a circle to the left, he kept ducking in on me. There was pressure on the left rein and nothing else to guide him so he drifted in closer unless I tugged the right rein, moved towards him and used my voice (get out there) to move him back out. He's getting the idea, but it may take him some time to get it etched solid in his brain.  Along the way I just have to remember to keep things steady and not let the right side get too stiff and unresponsive again. I have to remind myself NOT to hang on to the left rein all of the time like I did the right one. (I hope this carries over to my riding as well!)

When I was done with the long line work I put Kat to the cart and off we went at a walk. We went thru his paces and he did everything as he should. I didn't push for too much as I don't want him working up a sweat and needing to be rinsed. The weather has turned and I don't want to hose him off and leave him wet and cold. He has also gotten a bit pudgy too, so in all fairness, I let him ease back into it. He did try to canter once or twice, but wasn't getting crazy stupid about it and came right back down in a stride or two.  At the end I let him do a few 'victory laps' and he enjoyed it.  You could tell he was doing the "Happy Dance" in his head. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Assessing the damages

Last weekend and the one before, I was able to drive Kat. One day, one drive and we just took it easy as I don't want to rush him into anything. Mostly I wanted to see where he was at? Where I am at and what we need to work on, fix or change altogether.

Being brave or crazy, (not sure which) I changed him back to the snaffle to drive and sort things out. For the most part he was good. The bending to the left still needs work, he gets really reactive and 'racy' if you hold onto him too tight and he did spook at a couple of things I have no idea what they were or why he did, but for the most part he held it all together and did ok.

Part of the bend issue is me. The holding on too tight issue is both of us and a vicious cycle. I was wondering how the time off the cart in the saddle would affect the driving, and how the time driving would have affected my riding. Comparing the two? It’s kinda crazy.

The bend issue goes back to the stupid bicycle handlebars thing. WTH? It has been 2 years at least since I realized I was doing it to him before, it had cropped up when I started driving and I thought I had resolved that before going to the beginner clinic so long ago... For anyone who wasn't around for that, I ask with the left rein for bend to the inside, but tend to hold onto the right rein and not let my pony do what I ask for. There is no winning for him as there is no release. Going to the right- my hands and contact are as soft as can be.

The too tight issue is both of us. I take a hold of him, he thinks it is too much and looks for release. Finding none, he speeds up. I take a stronger hold trying to slow him down and repeat the cycle, things get worse and it all goes downhill from there until I let go of one rein or the other and suddenly everything is calm again.

Our stops used to be instant and sudden. Then there were times they went right out the window. They are still iffy depending on the day, his mood, my mood and how loudly or clearly I say 'whoa'. Sometimes I think he just gets cruising along and blocks me out. Other times I may say it too softly and he just doesn't hear me. Then I say it again a bit more sternly and demanding- BAM! He stops dead.

Another thing we need to work on is our big stretchy circles. After everyone telling me we are ready to move up at the CDE, I read over the movements for the Prelim level dressage tests. One of the things it calls for is the big stretchy circle. I had no idea what that was so I asked a friend in the club. She went into explaining it in an almost lengthy detail, then wrapped it up comparing it to riding hunters- It is when you encourage the horse to stretch their nose out and down in a relaxed trot. Well now, that makes sense and I got it. Now the question is- how do I get it without being able to use my legs or seat because I am sitting in the cart?  Hmmmmmm....

Friday, June 7, 2013

Slow Comeback

I checked the dates on the calendar for the next upcoming events. The first part of August is the Darby up in Paulden at the house of the Atonnas. If any of you recall- this was our first outing 2 years ago now. Hard to believe it has been that long already and we have been driving, been to 2 CDE's and various other events, but time does fly when you're having fun.

I'm not sure at this point if we will make it or not and although it is 2 months away and there's plenty of time to plan for it, get Kat ready and back to work and all, I'm sure it will be here before we know it. So much to do.

Kat has been turned out the last week and with all of this down time has gotten a bit chubby. I will be bringing him back into shape the end of the month, start lunging him and working him in long lines, getting him brought back slowly. He's on a diet which may change to Bermuda blend pellets to help him shed some weight since it's far easier to regulate than hay.

It will be interesting to see if the time off helped him reclaim his brain and we can do a quick refresher and move on to different work or if we need to scrap everything and start all over at square one. I'm pretty sure he remembers a lot, I just hope it is all the good stuff and not so much the bad!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Photo shoot

A couple of weeks ago I pulled Kat out and lunged him. He still needs to be in shape for when we start working again, but for now he is getting turned out and/or lunged. When we start back at it, I will be ground driving him for a while to get him back into shape but also to fix some things, teach him some new stuff and get it right before putting him back between the shafts.  For now though I give you a few parting shots of him and how he is doing. 

Cruising along

Stop? You want me to stop???

Yes I cut his butt off. That's what you get using one hand to work the cell phone camera and the other to work your horse. I love his shoulder in this one though

My new fave photo of Little Man

Friday, April 26, 2013

Down time

While Kat is enjoying his time off, I have been riding my WB mare and getting her going under saddle. She was ridden as a 3y/o at a clinic and been a broodie for the most part since. Bringing a 13y/o mare along is fun, has it's challenges and also the same rewards of any age horse really.

I am posting about it on my other blog- The Well Groomed Horse  Join us in the journey from broodie to show horse as I prepare her to finally go in the ring under saddle...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Refresher course

Since Kat has had the last two weeks off and then a twist in a string of events kept me from riding my mare on Sunday, I pulled him out and decided to drive. We would just tootle around the pasture, nothing big, just an easy workout. I went with the snaffle and figured we would work on walking, bending and just keeping things relaxed for the most part.

Kat was his normal, calm and quiet self while I brushed him off and he did try slipping under the rail once or twice before I harnessed up. I almost forgot to put his boots on, but grabbed them and slipped them on, put him to and we were ready to go. I climbed into the cart; we went out back and started walking. We did some big circles, smaller circles, serpentines, stopped and walked off a few times and everything was good so we headed out into the big pasture with the cows. Yes we drive in the pasture with the neighbor’s cows and Betsy. We give them room and everyone is good.

Best laid plans, good intentions and all those happy thoughts went right out the window as soon as I asked for a trot. Kat was walking nice enough, but now that we were trotting he wanted to speed up and even canter. Um, NO! I had to bring him back down to a walk and then ask for a trot again and he was still fussing in the bridle and being a little twit. I couldn't just let him run and blow off steam, but I also couldn't get after him too much either for having that extra steam.

We trotted circles, we made a somewhat cloverleaf pattern in the pasture and we trotted down the centerline. There were a lot of change of direction and asking for bend, then change again and go back to bending the other way. Before long, Kat kept offering to stop. He was quitting on me, but if I tried letting up on the reins he tried taking off again and would speed up.

From here it will be back to ground driving and long line work in the snaffle again. Let him work out his own issues without the interference of the cart shafts, me and anything else anyone can think of to blame it on. Another part of the issue is that he is a stallion, it is spring and the mares are all in heat or will be. Expecting him to focus - he should be able to, but there are still times that nature takes over and he has his mind on other things. I'm not excusing his behavior for this, but rather pointing it out to keep it in mind that this is why he may not be responding like he should. If it gets in the way too much, too often- I don't have a problem calling the vet out to take care of that. Good stallions often make awesome geldings.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

All said and done

This part of the CDE is not something I have shared with very many people yet. It was beyond awesome and with all things considered leading up to the CDE and the whole weekend in general- I was beyond thrilled for things to end on such a high note.

I have a lot into this- time, effort, (not so much on the blood, but...) sweat and tears, talking to people and asking questions on how to improve- several DUH! & A-HA! moments along the way, money, travel, etc. and things are not only looking up, but it seems they are about to get a whole lot better... and more challenging, possibly difficult and more than likely tougher at times too.

As the names were called and we each drove forward to accept our ribbons, the gentleman handing them out asked if Kat was a Welsh or at least a cross. When I answered that he is, he told me he thought so, "because typical of the Welsh attitude- Kat had something to say about everything".  He also told me he thought he was a very nice pony and he enjoyed watching our performance in the cones.

I talked to Gary later on back at the barn and was quite thrilled with what I heard. He told me- "Keep working with him and move up to Prelim. He is ready for it and so are you. Besides, the times in the hazards would count, you would be doing the water hazard- you are obviously ready for that-  Move him up."  I am pretty sure I had a huge, stupid looking grin on my face about then. Wow. Okay then...

Later as I helped my friend put her horse to the cart for her cones performance, she too told me to move him up. I told her that Gary had just said the same thing and she said "He's right. You guys are ready for it. He is a lovely pony and has such beautiful movement and he will just get even better." Now I had two well respected opinions and 'votes' to move him up to Prelim.  

After returning to the barn to gather things up, then walking over to the tent area- which was still covered in mud and slippery, sloppy and buzzing with people... I ran into another club member Jim. He is our course designer and judge for the cones portion of the ADT's and he also helps out with the hazards at the events. He is/was an approved ADS judge and a very knowledgeable horseman as well as driver. "My friends and I were seated in the tent and talking about how much we like your pony and how nice he looks in harness." 

That not only blew me away, but it had my mind racing wildly for a minute or two before I could find the words to thank him and let him know how much it meant to me to hear him say that. I'm not sure who his friends were, but knowing Jim, they too were likely well respected and knowledgeable drivers.

I had such a great time at the event, playing in the mud with both the truck and the pony/cart, then to have moved up from 4th to 3rd, posting a quick time in cones going double clear and getting not just one, but three compliments on everything... Yes at one point I was literally jumping up and down playing in the mud like a little kid.  It has been an adventure and the adventure is far from being over.

We will be moving up to Prelim, but for the most part- Kat is getting the summer off. I will still be working him and driving him, posting pics of him when I can, so don't worry about that. The two upcoming ADT's are about 2 1/2 hours away (one south- the other north) so we will be skipping them both. The last two ADT's to finish out the year- Paulden in the fall and Dale Creek in November- we will stay at training level while working on getting things right for the switch next year.

If we make the Grass Ridge CDE in October, I will look long and hard at how he is doing before sending our entries in. Worst case? We tank miserably in dressage and knock it out in the marathon and cones, maybe moving up a placing or two...  or 'E' out altogether with a big donation to the club and ADS. Who knows where it will go, but at least we will give it a shot and do our best.

Monday, April 1, 2013


With cones on the last day, they run the order of entries from last place to first. By moving up one placing in the standings we were scheduled to go right in the middle and then after that you wait around and they bring all of the training level entries (VSE, pony, horse, pairs, etc.) back into the ring to hand out the ribbons.

Our warm up was done out in the muddy area and the vet check- OTM (on the move) was done in the squishy, rutted grass of the holding area. Because the footing was so bad in there, I wasn't pushing him to do much more than expected and even at that, our circles were not all that great. He was sound though and there was no stiffness or soreness from his effort the day before so we were good to go. Watching the one gentleman in our class- he took a slightly different route in the cones and I believe he might have been the fastest on the course for the day. He did it in 3:24 with no time penalties, no balls down.

When it was our turn, Kat and I went in and knocked it out. There were a few places that the grass was deeply rutted crossing our intended route and again, Kat became a jumper as well as a driving pony and bounced his way around the course. He tried a few times to break into a canter and quickly brought it back down with a few words of discouragement from me. That could wait until we were done and he knows it. As usual we flew thru the cones and it was over before you know it. We flashed through the finish line and Kat loped towards the gate out of the arena. He had been whinnying his way through the course, but it wasn't as much or as loudly as he had done in dressage. For our efforts, we were double clear- no balls down, no time penalties.

Standing around waiting for the rest of the training level ponies, then horses to go, Kat was getting antsy. He wanted to do something. I took him out back to the warm up area and let him run. He made several laps going one direction, then several more going the other direction... As long as he didn't get too racy or stupid on me, he could keep going. He wasn't tired or worn out, but he was a lot more relaxed when I slowed him down to the trot again. Little man has got some serious staying power, since most of the other ponies and horses were happy to be standing around and resting for the most part.

Later I checked the scores and we were 2nd fastest for training level, single pony in the cones. We had done it in 3:44. The other times in our division were 3:47, 3:48 and 4:00. We had locked in our 3rd place position overall.

Friday, March 29, 2013

And on the 3rd day

After the marathon portion on Saturday I had to hose everything down. Silly me, I unhooked Kat and after removing the harness- took him over to hose him off. Then I took the cart over to hose it off and afterwards wiped down the harness to get the mud off of it too.  I should have just hosed it all off at once. It would have been much easier.

Sunday morning was fun getting the horse trailer in with all of the mud. The two main driveways were nice and firm with good traction, but getting from one to the other was the issue. I had it in 4WD and gunned it, holding my foot steady and not letting up for nothin'. The biggest mistake a lot of people made was going too slow and then stopping and then of course they were stuck. As it was- I did manage to slide my truck sideways a bit throwing mud all over the front of the trailer on the way in. As it was sliding, I held my foot steady on the gas pedal and was laughing out loud having a blast. This was not the first time I have been mud boggin' at a horse show!

I pulled around and backed the trailer in next to a friend of mine and her rig. It turned out later in the day, she would be helping me hitch up and I would be helping her. This was what I remember of horse shows from the past- people helping each other out, everyone there to do their best and most of all to have FUN!  Since things were still a bit muddy, some allowances were made as far as 'proper attire' in the ring. I wasn't going to wear my muck boots in the ring, but I wouldn't be wearing my nice shoes either. I was going with my boots...

I had started to make a new coat for this event and when things didn't come together like they should, I scrapped the idea and went with the hat, coat and apron I had made for Grass Ridge last fall. Thursday night after dropping off Kat, I had to rush home and finish a skirt to go with it all.  I had thought about buying a pair of slacks, but decided matching the colors would be a challenge and look ridiculous without the apron so I went with making the skirt.

When it came time to get ready for cones, I harnessed Kat at the trailer, then climbed inside to change clothes. The look for in the ring was one thing. I had on the hat, the coat, my tank top underneath my skirt, my tall socks and my boots. I put my apron on and tucked it up into the waistband with my gloves. I was ready to put Kat to the cart and go.

My friend had asked about me putting the apron on before putting Kat to the cart. Wouldn't it drag in the dirt? When I tucked it up, she had never thought of that before. This was kind of funny to me since she is a pleasure driving judge and competes at the advanced level. She did give me a tip on the decoration of my hat- tuck up the ends of the tulling on the bow. Having it flowing out behind me was distracting. Like in hunters and dressage- clean lines make for fewer distractions on the judges eye.  Since today was cones, it could pass, but in the dressage or pleasure class rings- no!

To be continued...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Marathon- Section E

The third stage of the marathon is Section E and has the hazards. This is where the fun begins!  One thing that stuck in my mind from last year was to take my time and do things right. Slow and right beats fast and wrong, all the time, every time.  Last year since it was my first CDE, I can admit that I got caught up in the excitement of being there, being in the moment and letting Kat go as fast as he wanted without breaking out of a trot. Doing that cost us big in the end.

Last year I was in 3rd after dressage and slipped to 4th because of my mistakes in Section E of the marathon. I seriously think they call it Section E, because if you are going to E out or get Eliminated- that is where it is likely to happen. Missed gates, red on the right, several obstacles to remember your path through and even with a good 'gator- it still happens and not just at Training Level.

As a quick recap from last year- I let Kat go too fast and in Hazard #2 we overshot one way into the maze, took the next one- which happened to be Gate C and rearranged the alphabet that day. That cost us 20 penalty points. **Something to note here- in training level, your time IN the hazards doesn't count**  Then at the end, Kat was cruising along in a really nice extended trot so I let him. I figured we would finish strong doing a bold, very forward trot. Another big mistake since we finished 34 seconds Under the minimum time allowed. We were too fast and racked up More penalty points... Doh!

So this year I had my plan of action in mind. I had walked the course three times already and although the first time out I mistakenly went through the hazards in the wrong the wrong order. I walked through #1, #2, #5, then #3 and finally #7 instead of taking them in the correct order. At least while I was walking them- I realized what happened and retraced the course in my mind so I knew what I was supposed to do.  Mind you this was on Friday afternoon. The wind was blowing at around 65mph at times, it was raining off and on and twice we had decent sized hail. This is all supposed to be FUN! Remember???

**#4 is the water hazard. ADS rules state there is to be an optional dry route for training level, but since this one is set up in a way that a dry route is not possible- training level skips it. Training level also only has 5 Hazards so #6 was skipped as well. It consists of 2 large 'covered wagons' and Gate B was going right through the one wagon**

As Kat and I made our way out to the start of Section E, he didn't have a care in the world about the same people who were the scary, horse eating monsters that we had to go past to get to the start of Section A. He was ready for action, but this time around, these people were fine and not going to bother him, let alone set him off like they had earlier that morning.  We walked around in the waiting area as the pony before us was also waiting for their turn to go.

We are spaced out in 5 minute increments so that there is a steady flow through the hazards and everyone has plenty of time to do things right, make corrections and be on their way before the next competitor comes through. This also gives the many volunteers at each hazard time to consult and call in any penalties to the TD and Ground Jury. With so many people armed with camera's and video cameras- if there is any question about anything- someone along the sidelines probably has it on hand for a quick review and is more than happy to provide digital evidence of what you actually did.

Kat and I finally had our turn and we headed off to complete the rest of our course.  He was comfortable moving along at a steady working trot. We headed off to Hazard #1 the Kokopelli Pipes.  Some of you may have seen photos of us in the pipes as we had done them at the Darby back in December.

To get to the Pipes, you have to enter a fenced area and right in the gateway was a sizeable spot of mud. No problem here- Kat just launched his little bad self into the air and jumped it. The mud was pretty firmly packed, but he didn't care and wasn't going to set foot on it and find out otherwise.  There was plenty of photographers on the sidelines and I am hoping that someone caught that, because I was cracking up and I heard several others laughing about it as well. He never fails to surprise, impress, amuse or entertain if given the chance.

We wound our way around and through Gates A, B and C, thanked everyone as we went through the Out gate and headed out the way we came in. Kat jumped the mud again and kept on going like it was no big deal or anything out of the ordinary. Everyone had another good laugh about it and it was all good. We wound our way around and through the course, went through Hazards #2 & #3, looped around through the fields and I could see that we were gaining fast on the horse in front of us. This kind of had me concerned. Either we were going way too fast, they were going too slow or a combination of both was happening and we were both going to get nailed on it later.

I slowed Kat down a bit as we were approaching and lined up for Hazard #5 to let them get out of there before we came blasting along.  We headed into #5 and easily wound our way around through the gates and I made sure the red was always on my right as we went through them.

As we came out of #5 we were stopped and advised that the course had changed.  Where we should have gone straight and wound our way around through a field- others had gone through it in the morning and their horses struggled as the horses and carts sank into the deep mud.  One woman's horse, a lovely Trakehner mare sank to her knees in the mud while the cart sank to the axles. There was nowhere to go but forward. They were on the path through the field, so getting off the path meant the mud may be deeper yet. One of the minis or VSE entries- the driver had to get off the cart and lead her horse out to solid ground. She was advised she would not be penalized for it and after that- that section of the course was closed.

After coming off of #5, we took a right to the end of the road, made a left and went up that road to a 'marker' which was a person waiting to tell us to make a U-turn and come back, that we would be back on course from there and proceed as normal, which was go to hazard #7. At Hazard #7 we went in the In gate, made our U-turn and back out through the Out gate heading for the end of section E.

Once you cross through the markers at the end of Section E, you head back over again to the vet check and rest area. The vet gives you a quick once over- respiratory and HR, quick look to see that the horse is ok and then you are met by the President of the Jury. You hand him your green time card and he figures your times for each section and scores.

On Section A with 23-25 minutes as the time allowed? Our time was 23:03. We BARELY squeaked by on that one without penalties by 3 seconds. Talk about cutting it close!  In the walk portion- Section D the maximum time was 12 minutes and we came in at around 9 or 10 minutes I believe.  Now for the scary part. I have no idea how we did in Section E and he didn't either. It looked like we were once again fast, but since the route was changed, the one hazard withdrawn- they really couldn't figure times on the course at that point and would have to make the changes and accommodations later and then refigure the scores.

As it turned out- because of all of the changes, the overall time for Section E for all levels was tossed out. Only the time in the hazards for the upper levels would count as well as any penalties or major mistakes which resulted in elimination.  While one person in Training Single Pony did have time penalties in Section A of the marathon- None of us E'ed out!  This penalty for the other competitor moved us up into third place. 

After shaking hands with the President of the Jury and thanking him for his time and comments, I headed Kat back towards the barns. He still had plenty of pep and plenty of breakfast to finish cleaning up. I had plenty of mud to clean up and clean off of everything. As we made our way back behind the tent and past the giant orange semi of Gerard Paagman- Ideal Harness it was a soupy, wet and incredibly sloppy mess. So I let Kat run... 

And run he did! Mud was literally spraying up off the wheels on the cart as well as it splashing up through the steel mesh of the basket as it came off his feet. We were both having a wicked blast and I soon realized I had better stop smiling because there was plenty of mud getting all over me and in my face. Yes I had mud in my teeth and Kat probably did too. At that point neither of us cared. We were having a total blast...

And this is the muddy, messy result-

My boots

My helmet on the seat of the truck

Mud chunks on the seat

A couple of chunks in the basket still and the number holder pulled double duty holding my green time card for each section.

More mud

You can see where I sat the whole time- it's clean!

The back of my number holder on the tailgate. It's caked!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Marathon- Section A & D

Because of the slick footing in the dressage arena on Friday and it only got worse as the day progressed- the organizers stopped everything with the last 7 competitors' still waiting and decided to have them compete on Saturday morning. The marathon start times would get pushed back about an hour and because one of the hazards was under water- it was excluded.  We would all simply go through the In gate, make a U-turn and exit through the Out gate. This was a good thing because the footing was beyond slick, any way you tried to go through it.

Since Kat would need all of his energy for the day, I didn't lunge him or hand walk him at all. I just harnessed him up in the stall, changed my boots, grabbed my gloves, put him to and started heading for the holding area by the starting line. As we went out the driveway, he spotted the people volunteering for the start of Section E. For whatever reason- they. freaked. his. shit. out! He got really flighty, tried to spin around to the left and Bolt! I managed to keep him from taking off, but dang he wanted no part of going past them at all. Thankfully I went with the butterfly bit that day. Had I used the snaffle as I had considered- I don't know if I could have kept him under control when that happened.

One of them told me that the ground on the pathway coming in was firmer and we would likely be better off up there. I told him the slick, deep mud was working in my favor to make the going tough and help keep him from flipping out altogether. If he had to really work at getting through it, he would have less traction if he really wanted to get outta dodge.  And just as quickly as he seen them and freaked- he was perfectly fine and we went on our way.  He was still a bit amped up, but he was listening and responding to me.

The marathon is in three sections. Section A is generally on pretty even ground and the same distance for all levels. You can also go at any pace in any level, but you still have your minimum time allowed and maximum time allowed. It is stressed that this is a pace, not a race. For small ponies the minimum time allowed was 23 minutes and the maximum was 25 minutes. Talking to one of the other Single Pony entries later on- you are encouraged to use as much of the time as you can, although you receive less penalty points for going too fast than you do for going too slow.

As we were cruising along, I kept checking my watch and trying to do the math in my head.  We started at 11:41 and I checked my watch, did some quick math and figured we had to finish section A around 12:06 or so. I'm pretty sure my math was off from the start so I kept checking my watch and trying to refigure, always coming back to the same conclusion and thinking- "Crap, we have Got to make up some time!" Part of the problem- I couldn't see the pony that went before us. At all. 

Last year, I could see that horse and just kept a steady pace behind them and kept them at a steady distance. I figured they had a 'gator, I would use them in a way and judge it by them. We came in well in good time last year doing that so why not this year? Only this year I had nothing to go by.  Any pace is allowed? Fine. I let Kat run. As fast as he wanted to go- we went! I kissed to him once and eased up on the reins and he gladly took off.

I couldn't see the end checkpoint of section A and still thought we were behind on our time so we ran some more.  Kat was really good about it and kept his head about him. He didn't get all squirrely on me and whenever there were mud puddles in our path, I slowed him down and guided him around or through them and we took off again.  And because of all of the mud- It was flying everywhere! Large chunks were coming off the wheels and flying up over my head and landing all around us. Some of them even landed in the basket of the cart and since it is diamond mesh steel, I ground it through with my boot. We didn't need any extra weight on the cart or any souvenirs for later. As it was- there was plenty on everything else anyways. 

Kat did slow down for the few places we crossed the paved roads, but once back on the dirt and up next to the farm fields- off we went again. Finally I could see the checkpoint for the end of section A. We were still in good time so I eased him back down to a trot. He actually walked up to the checkpoint and wanted to stop before going over the line and ending our time. Kind of a good thing he did as I would find out later on.

Then came Section D, which is a walk section. We had 12 minutes or less to complete it and again I figured my time on it and what the maximum would be.  Kat was more than happy to walk as I think he burned off plenty of his exuberance and excess energy blasting along through Section A.  Part of it too was that Section D for the most part- is heading back into the property and familiar territory for the horses. As it was, we came in well within the time allowed.  Section D is followed by a vet check and then a mandatory 10 minute rest period.  You can offer the horse water and let them stand around or even keep them walking. This is also a good time to put on your protective vest for the next part, if you weren't already wearing it.

At the vet check, a gentleman came over and acquainted himself to Kat before trying to take his temperature. Kat wanted no part of that and half reared as he half tried to sit down.  I haven't ever had to take his temperature before so that was a new one for him. Not wanting to cause any issues, the temp was scratched unless I wanted it done. I don't really have a need, so we skipped it. When the vet came over to take his respiratory and heart rates, he was getting fidgety and interested in why all of a sudden he was such the fuss?

The man taking temperatures stood by his head to help keep Kat quiet. Kat started sniffing him and huffing and puffing about it. The vet was trying to get his respiratory rate and this was not helping. Then Kat just held his breath. That didn't help her any either. Finally she just stood back and looked at him, watched him interacting with the temp man and determined he did not look to be stressed or overworked, he wasn't labored in his breathing, just not cooperating so she noted that and went for the heart rate.  His resting HR was 44 and we joked about him trying to hold his heartbeat and if he could manage that, then we had issues. The vet looked him over once more before letting us go for our rest period. She wanted to be sure about his breathing which she decided was fine and let us go.

To be continued...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Enter at A- Screaming!

Kat's idea of enter at A was to do it screaming to announce his arrival in the arena.  He was a bit fiesty and a tad pissed off because we were the last to go and all of the other ponies had left the warm up and holding area. He was pretty much alone and wondering why? Where had his new herd of friends gone?

We entered at A, halted at X pretty nicely and did our test. For the most part- I don't really remember much of it. It wasn't all that outstanding in my mind apparently, but for the most part it is pretty foggy in my brain as to how things went.  I usually pick a theme song to sing to Kat in the arena. It makes me breathe, gives him a tempo to work with and for the most part- I had nothing.

I do remember laughing out loud at Kat a few times, because he was screaming his way around the arena, screaming down the rail, screaming through the circles, screaming through the turns and I was telling him to STFU already, nobody cares and all the screaming is getting a bit obnoxious. I felt he did pretty well otherwise, but for the most part I only really remember I was looking down at his feet a few times to see if we were actually trotting.  The footing was a bit squishy in some places, even being on the grass.  Just before E and in the corner by F were especially bad and towards the end of the day the centerline was a muddy rut.

We turned on the centerline and headed to X for our halt before backing up. I told Kat there was a halt coming up and when we got there he wasn't so much responding. I pulled him into the halt and he was beyond mad. He fussed and fidgeted, threw his head in protest, stepping a bit to the left while also offering to rear. Can't really get after him in the center of the arena with all eyes on us, so I scolded him and told him to "Knock it off and Straighten Up!" Again he was screaming the whole time and I was laughing at him and asking where the hell that BS came from? He finally stood still long enough for me to count and then ask for the back. We walked to G, saluted the judge and picked up the trot to leave the arena.

After saluting the judge and as we passed by the corner of the arena, Gary yelled to me- "Way to go! Just laugh it off and have a good time."  Sometimes that is about all you CAN do given the circumstances. Between the weather, the footing, his screaming and everything else- our score under Craig Kellog was a 74 point something and under Mike McLennan we rocked it with a 53 point something.  Since we don't get our score sheets until the last day, my cell phone crapped out and then I forgot to pick them up- I can't tell you what my scores for each movement were or the comments. Yay Me!  I am hoping for a Plan B and to be able to get the score sheets at some point, but who knows when that may happen.

After dressage we were in 4th place of 5 entries. Not exactly how I wanted to kick off the event, since we all hope to do well, but we got through it. We didn't get eliminated, didn't have any injuries to Kat because of the footing and I know dressage is not his strong point anyways.  It was about as good as we could have done so I took him back to the barn to let him finish his breakfast and relax.

With all of the rain, there were quite a few puddles and a couple of lakes. It's a good thing Kat has learned to go through water, because if he didn't before then, he would now! I don't think there was any 'clean' way out of the barn area and there weren't many dry areas between there and the dressage arena, holding area or warm up. Surprisingly enough, the warm up was all dirt, but under the water the footing was pretty good. The holding area was grass, but pretty wet and by mid day it was rutted, deep and slick.  As it was- he no longer had 4 white socks. 


Monday, March 11, 2013

mud, Mud and more MUD!

Friday was rainy and pretty cold at the CDE. But since these folks run rain or shine, it was game on! Kat had been out in pasture all week so when I drove him Thursday afternoon before taking him down to the event, he was pretty flat and had no energy. I had to push him along to get anything out of him.  Adding to that, he had been trimmed the weekend before and although I didn't take much off, he was a little tender too.

I got him down to the showgrounds around 5pm, got checked in and put him in his stall for the night. This time he seemed to settle in a bit better. Last year he was a wound up mess, didn't finish his food and paced a lot.  With him in his stall, I headed out to walk our dressage test. Since it was the same one as we did in AJ last month, I had it in mind for the most part and remembered to WALK from X to G for the final salute. I had texted Gary to find out where he was and he was out picking up some last minute needs. I texted back that I was walking the pattern in my flip flops. He would be proud, I know. 

Friday the weather changed on us and about 3am it started to rain. It was a light sprinkling rain, but steady. Then it stopped, then it Poured down, then stopped, then the steady drizzle... And the host facility was pretty drenched when I got there. There are two main driveways in but the ground between them was pretty squishy.  I had locked in the 4WD on my truck already and turning onto the main road in (dirt road) had already slid sideways as I made my turn onto Christensen Rd.  As I changed from one driveway to the other, I gunned it. If you happen to hit a slick spot, hopefully your momentum will carry you on to firmer ground and traction.  I hit a few slick spots, but with the momentum and holding the pedal at a steady speed I got through it pretty easily and found my way to the barn.

I had to move Kat's feed bucket to the back of the stall since the rain was filling it up in the front.  At least he had eaten all of his dinner... I have learned that at these type events, it is best for me to just feed him, give him a few pats and rubs and leave. Let him eat and just walk away. If I am not there pestering him or fussing over him- we both settle our nerves for later and do better.  As it was, I had been feeling a bit tense on Thursday in anticipation. No need to add to that and get him jazzed up too. Kat tends to feed off of me and if I am uptight, he is too and things go horribly wrong from there. I went and walked the dressage test again to help take my mind off of things.

My start time wasn't until 10:15 so I had plenty of time. While I was in the stall braiding his mane, there was a flash of lightening and a loud crack of thunder. I hadn't seen anyone driving so I wondered if they were holding off. I started to walk towards the arena and seen a woman putting her mini away. She was doing her free walk when the thunder clapped. Luckily her horse was not fazed and just kept walking. I could see others out in the arena so I headed back to hitch up. Because of the weather- rain gear was allowed instead of 'proper attire'. At least I got a bit of a break there.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Prep work

I had to work Kat yesterday so I popped in a braid to see if that was how I would do it for the CDE coming up.


Nevermind the mohawk/bridlepath and yes he does have a fairly thick, cresty neck. I have been trying to work that down some.

I worked Kat in the long lines because 1) my cart is in for hopefully the last time with shaft work being done to it and 2) last time I worked him, he seemed a bit stiff in the left shoulder. I wanted to be able to see it if he still was so long lines it was. 

Because I had my cell phone on me, there is plenty of pics to follow. Some of them are not the greatest, working the phone with one hand and the lines with the other and vis-versa. And for all of these, there is probably 1 or 2 for each good photo, that is a not so good photo.

Working on our walk, because the two walk sections are worth double points... Yeah, kinda important you have a good walk...

Ooops, I cut off his butt.

And probably one of my new favorite photos of Kat-


Friday, March 1, 2013


RED goes on the Right. This is a lesson I apparently still need to learn. It is also the same one that six other people in our driving club need to learn as well. Among us there was a prelim horse, a prelim VSE and an intermediate VSE. All of us looked at the same maps, and all of us walked the course. Yet seven of us were lured into the oh so inviting gate A in Hazard #1, right as you come through the in gate... and we fell for it, going through the wrong direction. We did it and were eliminated pretty much before we really got started on the last portion of the ADT.

My daughter Robin rode with me for this one as my 'gator. From the accounts of others- she is a good one so far.  We went through gate A, made a quick in and out of gate B to scoot through C, which is when she asked me- "Isn't red supposed to be on the right?"  - Long pause-  Wait, WHAT???  I looked at C as we trotted away from it and back to the start/finish line. I know I walked it and practiced it several times the right direction...  I looked at B, yep, we did that one right too, so I headed out over the finish line and stopped Kat to ask the timer/judge...  "Did we just bomb out on that one?" 

"You went through gate A the wrong direction." I turned and looked at it. I stared at it for a second or two, thinking of how we went through it, where the red and white letters were and then it hit me. We went through A the wrong way. Damn! But I guess if you are going to make mistakes, make them early and get them done. From there the rest should be easy and it usually is. You hav taken the pressure off of yourself to win, be perfect or whatever you stress over, now you can go on and focus, getting the rest of it right.

Which is what we did. Kat was cruising as we headed to the far side of the grounds for Hazard #2. We whipped around through the trees, through the fence panels set up for B & C and shot back out through the finish, heading over to Hazard #3. Jim the cones course designer/ judge was on duty for #3 and we blasted through past him. We whipped around through the barrels and back across the finish line on our way to Hazard #4.

We zipped around in Hazard #4 and back out through the finish line. It was a total blast and Kat was light in the bridle, easy to manuver and we had a great time on the course, even though the weather was brisk and everyone was bundled up. Jackets and all, just means there is plenty of extra or added padding if you should come off the cart and eat dirt so it's all good.

When we finished up on the Obstacles, Kat was happy to walk and go back to the trailer for a rest. He was finally a little bit pooped out. Robin wanted to go sit in the truck where it was warm. I had seen a different kind of bit on another horse and wanted to go talk to the drivers about them. Hopefully this will be the magic bit that allows Kat the freedom and softness of a snaffle and the lightness and control of the butterfly.  Or I have another piece of hardware to add to the growing collection.

As it was, in the Obastacles, of the four ponies in our class. Times in the Hazards put us dang quick in #1, but then we didn't go the same route as everyone else. Third in #2, second in #3 and 3rd in #4 so not too bad overall.

Monday, February 25, 2013


Coming out of the dressage ring after forgetting the last part of the test, I headed Kat over to the cones arena. This is where Kat really shines and where he gets excited. He loves cones and *WE* have learned to keep a steady pace through the whole course to leave things standing. I say WE because I have had to learn to keep him under control and consistent, rather than letting him really extend in the longer stretches between cones. He really enjoys that and it is kinda fun, but we have to keep things under control because trying to reel him back in and line up for the next cone, is not always in his game plan of how it should go. He gets fussy, protests and we knock things down.

The course was fairly easy. Come in and make a long sweeping right circle going through 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 as you make your way back to the far side of the arena for #6 which was a multiple but a straight line of cones for weaving thru and spaced widely apart. Think pole bending here...  Cones 7-14 were a nice serpentine back across the middle of the arena and #15 was another multiple like #6 lining you up for the finish line.

Kat was not happy about waiting around for his turn to go, but I used the practice cones to pacify him and we walked through them, made figure 8's around and through them and we stood around a bit too. Because I had my cell phone in my back pocket and had to take a call, it was another good excuse to practice patience and let him just stand there. (As evidenced by Nuzzling Muzzles below)


My friend Liz commented about this being one of her favorite pictures of the day- me multi-tasking... I like how Kat is standing reasonably square, at attention and ready to go, yet one ear back on me. He knows what is up and what is coming, he was getting amped, but he still just stood there waiting patiently. Which is sorta ironic because as amped as Kat was and as wound up as he gets about the cones, he casually walked in across the arena as I saluted the judge and I had to push him a bit to get him to trot before crossing the starting line. Goofy pony!

Because of Brown Eyed Cowgirls posting about 'finishing her turns' in barrel racing, I have also learned to 'finish my cone' before looking to the next one. I have also learned to look where you want the horse to go- the Center of the cones every time and Never look back. I have gotten to the point where I don’t even look down at the cone as I go through them either. If you are going to wipe it out, looking back throws you off and you lose time setting up for the next cone. Sometimes it can throw you off enough- you 'lose' the next cone and have to look for it. Since cones are also timed, this can cause time penalties as well.

We did so well on the part about not looking back- I didn't know until later on in the day that we were double clear. No time penalties and no balls down. When the scores were posted, I also learned that we had the fastest time in Training Pony for the cones. We had a 2:44 on the course, followed by a 2:47, 2:53 and a 3:00 and since there was 3:20 allowed on course, we all came in safely under that.  My mind was in a fog that day because I missed the 2:47 and thought I had left a wider gap between us and the next horse, but that 2:47 happened to actually be a pony named Firecracker.  He is a mini that the owner recently measured and moved up since he was technically over height.

As crazy as it sounds, the minis often have faster times in the cones and hazards than horses. They are smaller and more compact so they are easier to line up, have more maneuverability and can really whip through things like nobody's business. Being so compact, the length of the whole horse & carriage gives them the advantage. Think about driving a school bus or even a full sized truck vs. driving a sports car like the BMW Z3.  Your turning radius is going to be a lot different, speeds through the turns different, braking time different... It really makes a big difference in the times.

After crossing the finish line, I let Kat go ahead and break into a nice canter. He loves it and enjoys it, so as long as he keeps his mind, I reward him with that. I only require of him that he slows back down and we exit at a slower pace.  If this is his reward now, I can't imagine what it will be when he gets to run through things at an upper level. Maybe he will be tired and the 'reward' he will be looking for is walking

Monday, February 18, 2013


In the morning we had Dressage and cones. We got over to the dressage arena and proceeded to warm up. Kat was a bit excited and my choice of going with the snaffle might not have been the best one, but we were there and that was that. 

I worked him on some big circles to the left and he was beginning to wind down some. As horses often do though, you change directions and they get wound up again. Kat was no exception, but he did work it off in a matter of 2-3 circles to the right. One halt, trot, halt and we were ready to go in. Sort of.

We did Test 4 and while walking it, I thought I had it down. Enter at A working trot and halt at X- we nailed it. (Or it felt that way at least.) Kat was straight, solid and I had hope! I was trying to let him have his head so he might not be fussy in the face. He halted through a walk and stood like a statue.

Working trot to C, track left, working trot to E. As we turned in front of the judge Kat was Da Bomb! He went straight up to the rail and turned so nicely... I was singing to him and heard the judge say "Good bend" as we made our turn. We drove our corner deep and made another graceful sweeping turn heading to E.

Forty meter circle at E. Still singing, I think I really started to let go and Kat was doing well. I had to remind myself again to LOOK UP! Look THROUGH your turns. The circle is a clock and look 3-4 numbers ahead...  This worked so well for me in the past- so I try to Keep Doing IT!  And as crazy as it is, I have to keep reminding myself of this. every. single. time. STOP LOOKING AT THE PONY. He isn't going anywhere without the cart and you...  Smile! Look where you want him to go.

Working trot to A walk to F, F to X free walk, working walk at X- I forgot to really let him go or even push him for this one. He was still a little on edge but the judge managed to see some of the freedom in his walk. It wasn't as good as he had done at home when we practiced in long lines, but things change and you work with the horse you have for the day.

X to H develop working trot, H to B- Bend to the right isn't as good as it could be lately.  Kat is always willing to go and our transition to the trot was good. I remember something in the notes about it, but not what specificly. I did have to take a hold of the right rein and pop him once with the left to get his attention and driving the corners deep again helped us both locate his brain, jump start it and get it back on the idea of what was going on.

Forty meter circle at B- we were both starting to relax. I let him go a little again, he was bent to the right enough for me, could have been better, but I wasn't going to worry about it. I was singing still and had to remind myself again- LOOK UP! Look through your turns, etc.

Working trot to A, working walk a to K, K to X free walk- I had a brain fart. I didn't ask for a free walk until there was almost no room left to do it. Kat was drifting a little and my mind was too.

Between X and M develop working trot.  M to E- Another solid upward transition. Kat was light and willing as usual. Good bend in the turns, drove the corners deep and I think we were both just looking to finish it off at this point.

Working trot E to B, B to A halt at X- Our turns were good, Kat was traveling straight, we went rail to rail, made our right turn at B and he decided he needed a good reminder of right bend again. I overshot the turn at A and we staggered our way to X a little wobbly.

Halt at X 3-5 seconds and back 2-4 steps- Kat stopped at X but felt as if he was going to step back. Since you want forward motion more, I pushed him one step forward. Bad move on my part, but I would rather that, than him anticipate what is next. We stood there, I counted One Appaloosa, cursed Sherry, laughed a little and called it good. I learned not to Tell Kat to back up because he will on his own until you send him forward. It won't be straight, it won't be pretty, but he will just go backwards on his own.

Working walk to G, Halt, salute and leave the arena at a working trot.  I drew a complete B.L.A.N.K! I couldn't rmember if we were supposed to walk or trot to G. We started off trotting, I slowed him to a walk for a few strides. I questioned it, we trotted a little more, slowed him down to a walk again right before G, halted and saluted and left the arena rolling my eyes. I could not be upset with Kat for my mistake at the end. I knew it would cost us, but that was all on me.

Overall our scores were a handful of 6's and 7's, an 8 for the second movement and two 4's, one for one of the walk portions where he broke gait twice and for the last movement when we should have been walking.

The bottom portion- collective scores were as follows-

Gaits- 7 Kat needed to be more consistent and steady in his gaits. Some days he is, other days he is not.
Impulsion- 6 needs to be thru the back more
Submission- 5 Kat was fussy in the bridle, which he is at times and it shows here...
Driver- 7 "Keep working in relationship. Lot of talent here."

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

ADT# 2- AJ

At the ADT in AJ this weekend, it was not exactly the weather we are known for in the Valley of the Sun as the Phoenix area is commonly called. The sun was peeking from behind the clouds if it wasn't hiding altogether. It was cold. It was breezy and it did sprinkle on us some too.  It was a bit chilly for the most part. In the morning I was sporting 3 shirts- a long sleeved thermal, a short sleeved shirt over that and a sweatshirt on top of that. It was ok, but later in the day, I grabbed my jacket and kept it on for the duration.

Although my hip was hurting and I had taken some ibuprofen, I had a LOT of walking to do. I'm not sure of the mileage for the day, but parking is over here, walk to the bulding where there is check in and bathrooms, walk out to where the dressage arena is set up- Enter at A and proceed to walk my dressage test, walk back across the grounds and over to the west end to the arena where cones was set up- walk the cones course. Then it was back across the grounds and out to the trailer...

Kat needed to be lunged. He was full of energy, had been cooped up all week and I just didn't feel like screwing around with him losing his mind. I threw his boots on and let him go. Little turkey just kind of jogged around like no big deal. Sure he kicked it up to a canter- tail in the air for half a lap and then back to just jogging along like no big deal. So I took him over to harness up. Kat stood like a champ and acted like he was eager to get moving. After getting everything on him I stepped back to take a few pictures of him. Alert, at attention and ready to roll!

A little blurry because he was throwing his head. He wanted to get going, not do a photo shoot.

For the surprise- I will be posting that soon to The Well Groomed Horse blog.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Muddy Pony

Although I was and am hurting from my injury, I needed to drive Kat over the weekend. 1) the ADT is this Saturday and 2) I need to be sure he is in shape for the CDE next month. I know, it is going to be here before we know it! Dang where does time go?

Saturdy afternoon I hitched Kat up and we worked on a few things. Stopping is one, backing up is another one and he did both a lot better with the adjustments made to the bridle. How it all works this weekend in the dressage arena? Who knows! But we will find out one way or another, that's for sure...

Since the rain came down and washed the ADT out the previous weekend, there was still a big puddle out on the edge of the neighborhood along the side of the road where we normally go through to get into the desert and get Kat in shape.  We also had a bit of water in our back pasture because they were draining the CAP (Central Arizona Project) canal for routine maintenance, so they diverted it through the neighborhood irrigation system. Kat was a little lit and wanted to go, but he wasn't all that fond of spending time in the pasture dodging the water. so we moved out to the front pasture.

The neighbor has been irrigating our pasture in return for seeding and turning the cattle out on it. They have several head of Angus and a few Angus cross cows and steers. Our one lone heifer Betsy is out with them to keep her quiet, otherwise she is bawling night and day because she is lonely.  Kat and I routinely drive in the pasture With the cows. They mind their business and we go about ours, life is good. Occasionally we get a little close to each other, one of the steers may spark an interest and follow us, but the whip gets their attention and they lose interest quick moving on to grazing again while we go work somewhere else.

Since Kat was a little wound up already, we worked on walking on a loose rein, some softening work and moved into our trot-stop sets and did some strong trotting to let him get it out of his system.  A few times he tried bolting away because the neighbor was out working on the fence. When that didn't get him anywhere but scolded and feeling like a dork, he gave up on it. We stood and talked to the neighbor for a minute too. It was good for Kat to have to stand there and behave himself.

Finally he was relaxed and responsive so we headed out.  Kat was well behaved all the way out and when we hit the wide sandy path and the dirt, he still didn't need much encouragement to take off into a strong, ground covering trot. As we approached the puddle he did slow down a bit, gradually coming to a walk, then stopping before the water. He hesitated, looked at it and decided to move to the right and avoid it altogether. Why not try? It worked before...

A firm hold on the left rein and my whip on his right side blocked his exit route and with a sigh he stood to figure out the next plan of evasion. With a cluck kiss and a tap of the shaft of the whip on his hip, he went into the water with very little hesitation. We waded the whole length of the puddle and in the deepest part it was up to his knees. There were a few times that as his hoof came up out of the mud, I could hear a sucking sound as he lifted it.

As we reached the end of the puddle and the water became more and more shallow, Kat picked up a trot and started moving out. I think he was happy to be getting out of the water.  He was trotting along and I was praising him the whole way.  We made the corner and went along our way.

The real test came on the way back. Not only did we go through the same puddle again, and this time he went wading right in, but because of the CAP drainage, there was another puddle up ahead, but the water was also running alongside the road and heading right for us, to join up with the other puddle.  Kat trotted boldly forward until he realized there was water up ahead and it was coming our way.

It was shallow but wide and making its way slowly enough, but he still balked. I made him hold his position and before long he walked towards the water. There was one area where the water had made a Y and I headed him right up the little 'iland' part of it. From there is he went left, right or forward, he ended up in the water. He didn't have a chance to fight it. Again, he let out a sigh and went right in. This time he was comfortable picking up a trot in the water and as we neared the end of the small stream at the bigger puddle, he didn't hesitate or slow down at all.

Kat plowed right into the water at a trot and just kept on trucking along.  I was trying to contain my happiness and mostly keep the smile off my face for fear of eating some mud being flipped up the front of me from his hooves.  He is getting to the point of being a 'point and shoot' horse. Aim him where you want to go and let him.

I obviously couldn't take pics or get video of it, but it was a BLAST!  When we finally got home after walking all through the neighborhood, I slid off the cart to open the gate. While we were going through the neighborhood, Kat shook his head and slipped an ear out of the bridle. He stood patiently while I got off the cart, fixed things and got back on. When fiddling with the driveway gate, Kat shook and slipped both ears out of the bridle this time. I put it back on to get him over to where I unhook him. He stood like a champ while I snapped a few pictures of the aftermath of our adventure.

Although you can't really see it in the photos, he had a thin layer of mudd up the front of his back legs, down the back of his front legs and all along his belly. His socks are not exactly white either...

Looks like I may need some fenders on the cart... and the diamond mesh does nothing to keep the mud or water from splashing through

He's still got all four boots on!

Mud all up underneath. It was on everything.

And while I was snapping pics of the cart? Off went the bridle again. This time- all the way off. 

Clowns to the left of me


 Jokers to the right

But I'm stuck in the middle with you

Muddy legs

I Love my pony!