Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Fun with Ponys!

This is Cricket, also known as Pleasantviews Chances, a reg. Morgan mare. She is exactly 14 hands, which qualifies her for Large pony status at rated shows. But, if you go on personality, she is about 18 hands high.

She is 4 years old, and in her short life, has been trained to cart, bred (at 2 years old!), been an Amish buggy horse (not very successfully, I'm guessing) had a gorgeous black colt, and is now ready for her real career.

Since she was acting a bit traumatized, and we needed to wean her colt, I arranged with a local Morgan breeder to work with her for 60 days, taking her back to square one and starting over.

She left with fear issues, head shy, no sense of personal space, and very little respect for humans. She came back with lovely ground manners, a good grasp of this riding thing, and with a calm, trusting attitude. I watched the trainer ride her at a walk, trot and brief canter. She did very well, did spook at a car going by but just scooted a bit.

A couple of weeks later, we trailered her to our local park, where there is a big sand ring and easy trails to see how she would do. She stood tied to the trailer like an old pro, stood to be mounted, and did beautifully in the ring despite a small mis-communication with her rider which resulted in an unexpected canter depart and a fall to the sand. Cricket took a few more stides and stopped, then looked back at her rider. She wasn't alarmed or upset. As far as she knew, she did exactly what was asked and the rider meant to jump off. She was ready for the next task.

We then took her out on the trails for the first time. There are very easy trails (Schooley Mill Park). Wide, sloping but not too steep, with low logs to step over. She did great, and at the end walked over a wooden bridge. We decided this was enough for her first time out, and took her home.

Then we had bad weather, holidays and more bad weather. For over 2 months no one was riding. Then this past weekend, we had a beautiful day in the 50's. We had to ride! We decided to meet friends at Little Bennett park, and Cricket was requested by the person who rode her before. (she was fun!) Ok, we trailered over, and thought we would take the short trail. Well, ice still on the trails determined our course, and we ended up riding far more than I normally would on a green out of shape horse. We crossed streams, went up and down gullies, crossed roads, skittered over ice. Came up on a log in the trail, about 2 feet high. Cricket never even slowed down. She jumped it like a pro, nice arc, knees tucked. Passed loud picnic parties with dogs and kids, over scary long wooden bridges with no railing. She did great. This was only the second time we had taken her out, and first real trail ride. Our short ride ended up being almost 3 hours long! At the end we thought she must be getting tired, and took it easy on her. My friend hopped off her and walked her the last bit to the trailer.

We untack, and I go over to check my tired good girl. Cricket gives me her sassy look, and says "Is that it? Where's the cookies?" She wasn't even sweated! I massaged her back and while she enjoyed it, not a bit sore. While we readied the trailer, cleaning it out, etc. She kept putting her feet on the ramp and getting in our way. "See, I know this part too! You get in the trailer!"

When we got home she also decided she had to help me clean out the water tub, inspecting my work, and playing with the scrub brush. Gotta love these Morgans!