Suspension Kit!!!

After receiving my new suspension kit I was away for 5 days babysitting for some friends of ours. So Handsome Hubby kindly put it together and installed it on my cart while I was away. I was so so excited to give it a try and finally I had a day at home and the sun was even shining! It was cold but so so worth it.

Here we go!

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The suspension kit comes with the little steps that you see on the sides there. It has a wagon style spring on each wheel. So the wheels move over the ground nearly independently. This makes for an extremely smooth ride for both of us! Here is a little bit about the kit straight from Patty’s finger tips:

Kelly’s “simplex” suspension is a “two leaf, quarter elliptical spring suspension”. It is designed so the the wheel goes up and back at the same time. With this the wheel has more time to travel over the humps and hollows and in extreme terrain, the spring action also causes the driver to also go up and back, as opposed to up and forward, as is the case with most EE carts. This way, the cart will catch you, if you will, keeping you in the cart, as opposed to throwing you up and forward out of the cart.

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The ride was amazing. Sky was on fire, racing around like a run away and yet my ride was smooth and I NEVER felt like I was going to bounce out. I watched the shafts like a hawk and am pleased to report that the shafts stayed nearly level the entire time. No matter how many bumps we hit they never jammed into Sky or knocked her shoulders around.

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The balance is perfect, allowing the ends of the shafts to float in the shaft loops. The kit does add a bit of weight to the cart, but Sky didn’t seem to mind!

I also got a set of footman’s loops from Patty as well. These slide onto the shafts and then adjust where ever I want them to be. I may slide them forward a bit more so I don’t have to wrap the breeching, but they worked beautifully! The breeching never loosened and then smacked Sky in the butt which I was very grateful for when she was racing around, flying over the bumps and through the ditches.

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Here is a video I put together! You’ll see how easily the cart handles the bumps and uneven ground. Also I felt that Sky could corner so much better. I’m not sure why, but the cart now corners smoother.

So short story… If you are wondering whether you need a different suspension, get one from Patty’s Pony Place and you will NOT be disappointed!!! I am so excited about the difference this has made for both of us. Our driving experience will be so much better now!! I don’t have any reserves about driving in our field or over rough ground. Sky will be able to handle it without any problems now. I am still looking forward to the day I can order a Cricket or a Scorpion, but until then I will be enjoying my cart so much more!!!

Ponies and Flowers

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I guess I felt I needed one more thing to do in this busy season… I started making felt flowers! I love dressing my ponies up with garlands in the different seasons and this year I found the prettiest, simplest, felt leaf garland for fall.

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I really loved the felt as it has a simple look and is very horse friendly. I started looking up felt flower garlands and ordered one to use for photos. Then I decided I wanted flowers in lots of fun colors and looked around to order more. But I couldn’t afford all the garlands I wanted! Even simple can add up if you want too many of them. So I decided I would just make them myself!

I am loving it! It’s extremely time consuming and tedious and yet I absolutely fell in love with the process (burnt fingers and all) and the resulting flowers. I have spent many hours experimenting with different types of flowers – including ones I made up myself – and so far the daisies are my favorites. Daisies are my favorite flowers anyway!! I also love the sunflowers. These two types of flowers take the most time to make, of course.

flowercollageChristmas for my family is very simple this year. Everyone gets a flower garland! But they can know that I put lots of my time and love into each and every flower on their garland. Now that I am done making all my Christmas gifts I can focus on making some flowers to offer for sale! And I have many  many hours of practice under my belt.

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Here is a simple Daisy Chain Garland with a couple of different colored daisies.

This particular garland is about 3 foot long with 9 flowers and 13 leaves. I love this length of garland because they can also be used as a flower crown.

Sky hardly ever opens her eyes for pictures anymore. She just stands there with her eyes closed. Maybe if she can’t see me I’ll go away!

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Bonnie is my super model!

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I am studying up on my flowers a bit and am going to continue to experiment and try some new ones. I like some to look realistic and some to look a bit more fantastical.

As you know I like to decorate Sky’s bridle with flowers as well. I thought she should be wearing a flower I made so, I changed things up a bit. This is a little sunflower. I love these colors on her!

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I am nearly ready to start taking orders! Watch this space for more on that 🙂

Miniature Horse Halters Part 2

I just recently wrote a blog post about the woes of trying to find a halter that actually fits the minis. I had lots of feedback and got some great suggestions. This post will be about the halters that I actually tried on my minis. I will add links to others that people shared, but I didn’t get to actually try, on the other post

First up is a nice little beta halter from Chrysalis Acres. She had it made to my measurements and I love it! The color is pretty fun as well.

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I like the buckle on the nose for when I’m harnessing. It’s very soft and supple no matter how cold it is and it fits! (I also like the cheek snap.)

–>Speaking of a well fitting halter. It was pointed out to me that I didn’t go over what that means on my last blog about halters. And during my search for halters I have discovered that ‘well fitting’ has a different definition for different people. Soooo I will share guidelines to what I consider a well fitting halter!

The nose band should be one to two finger widths below the end of the cheek bone.

cheekboneI prefer a little room in the throat latch area because I like my horses to be able to chew and move their jaws when wearing the halter. I also NEVER leave a halter on my horses without supervision. The halter in the above photo is adjusted properly around the nose and the way I like it in the throat latch area.

 

In the photo below the nose band has slipped and is too low on Zorro’s nose. I mentioned that on my last blog but it was pointed out to me repeatedly so I better make a big deal about it here. IT IS TOO LOW!! And could possibly break the end of his nose if undo pressure is applied with it sitting so low. The Parelli halters tend to slip at the poll strap, so I am constantly retying them to bring the nose band up. It is annoying!

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This photo shows a halter that is sitting too low on Zorro’s nose!!!!!

I bought a couple of the Star Point Horsemanship halters because I like the idea of the nylon halter with the rope nose band. I went ahead and purchased the largest size she offers. They don’t really fit my ponies right now since they are so hairy. I will save them to see if they fit better in the summer. As you can see in the photos below, the nose bands are a bit low. They are quite tight around the nose meaning they will be applying pressure to their nasal bones all the time, no matter if I am putting pressure on them or not. I don’t like that at all. Those knots are tied so if you apply pressure they will press on very sensitive groups of nerves on the horse’s face. So if they are always tight they are always pressing on those nerves. The nose bands do not have any adjustments under the chin so they are as big as they go!

(Also I really don’t like it when the poll strap has those grommets around the holes. They can get bent and cause all kind of problems later on. To me they are very annoying!)

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The next halters are from Chimacum Tack. I got two sizes so I could be sure of a good fit. One is a 200 (Adult mini horse) and the other is a 300 (Large mini/Shetland size). Surprise! The 300 fit my ponies the best. Geesh. I must have ponies with HUGE heads! These halters have adjustable nose bands making it much easier to fit. And I really like the white stitching!

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Next up is a very nice halter from Tammy Rose from Central Harness Shop. You can find her on Facebook under Tammy Rose. She doesn’t have a website but can help you if you contact her through Facebook! I like her halters as well! Her large didn’t fit my ponies, but the Extra Large did. These halters do not have the adjustable nose band, but Tammy can make them that way if you ask! She said she can also add a buckle to the nose band for the drivers and will make halters out of leather as well! (But she doesn’t do leather halters with silver for showing…)

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Pretty in purple!

This was a fun experiment! I went from two halters for each horse to many many extra halters hanging in my tack area. AND the best part is that they fit!

I highly recommend any of the halters above.

(Just be sure if you get the Star Point halters that the nose band isn’t too tight, putting pressure on those nasal nerves.)

Sledding with Sky

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You guys!!! This was so. much. fun. Seriously!!! What a total blast!

This morning I woke up to a winter wonderland and I was so excited!! I could hardly wait to get out there and try out my sled! I didn’t get to use it last year but spend quite a bit of time painting the attachment, getting it ready for winter. (I wrote about my attachment last winter. You can find that blog HERE.)

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I had to take the shafts off my cart and put them on the sled, then do some adjusting with the collar and hames and single tree, but I got it all working together. It is EXTREMELY important that you have the correct harness parts to do this. Pulling this sled with the hay bale and myself in it through the deep snow was not easy for Sky. She was working pretty hard! But having the collar and hames made it possible.

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She wanted to canter and canter. I figured it was easier for her to canter pulling me through the snow so I let her make a few passes that way.

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Then I asked for some trotting and walking. She was feeling some anxiety about the entire thing so I wanted to finish on a calm note.

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I think you can tell by my face that I had a good time. I love how my attachment worked. It lifted the front of the sled so it didn’t dig into the snow, working exactly as I had invisioned. I still think my collar is a bit big and it’s not very good quality so I will be ordering her a better one as soon as I can! I wasn’t sure I would enjoy this so much but I DID so it’s time to invest in a better collar and hames.

So. much. fun.

Miniature Horse Halters

Finding a well made, miniature horse halter that actually fits a miniature horse is a problem. I am simply amazed at the number of miniature horse halters on the market that are too small! I myself have ordered the large and extra large miniature horse halters the different miniature horse companies are selling only to have them fit the babies and sometimes be too small for them. These are halters that are supposed to fit a B size, adult miniature horse head! How do these people continue to sell these tiny halters!? My neighbor ordered the largest miniature horse halter that she could find and the nose band wasn’t big enough to fit around my dog’s nose. WHAT!? HOW!? And please someone tell me what horse are they measuring to come up with these ridiculous sized halters. I can’t be the only one that had a HUGE box of halters that didn’t fit anyone on the farm? I finally threw them all away!

I am looking into having rope halters made that I can sell here on my website. Ones that are actually made for the miniature horse head using appropriately sized rope. The halters I have now are Parelli halters and they fit well, but I ordered the weanling size halters and one pony size halter, so the end of the poll strap is a bit long. Their miniature horse size halters were so small the nose band didn’t get slide over my ponies nose.

Here’s the thing. Many little A sized minis have a boxy shaped head. They have large square muzzles which make choosing a halter (that fits) difficult. I have found that quite a few A sized minis can wear the same size halter as the B size minis, except the poll strap will be long. (I am not talking about the ultra refined show horses that we all drool over. I’m sure their teeny tiny muzzles can fit into even the smallest of miniature horse halters. I just don’t happen to have one of those here, though Zorro is pretty close. His muzzle is tiny! And even those ultra refined horses will go through the teething stage when that area under their jaw is sensitive and inflamed and those tiny halters won’t fit well.)

Over the years I have shopped around and found a halter that I really love that fits the minis well and looks nice to boot. It’s a nice leather halter, soft and actually sized for the miniature horse head. They use the smaller hardware and everything!

They are Gatsby halters. I buy mine on either eBay or from horseloverz.com.

Sky is wearing the weanling size Gatsby halter in the above photos… and Zorro is wearing the weanling size halter below!

The last Gatsby I bought was from countrymax.com. They have a weanling sized halter for $19.99 plus shipping. One of the lowest prices I’ve found for these halters.

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The little mare in the above photo was wearing the suckling size leather halter. Zorro has his Parelli halter on… as you can see it tends to slip down his nose…

Please if you know of a halter that fits well or you make/sell miniature horse halters that fit let me know. I’ll get one, try it out, then share about it here!

*** Here are a few places you can get miniature horse halters. I can not vouch for the fit of these halters as I haven’t tried them on my horses. People have been so great, sharing where they have bought halters they like. That is where I compiled this list!

Patty’s Pony Place

Knotty Girlz Natural Horsemanship Rope Tack

Glover Equine

Red Haute Horse

Halter Up

 

 

The Importance of Listening

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I know I talk about listening on this blog often. I think it’s so important when you own animals of any kind to learn to listen to them, to understand them and to honor what they say.

I mentioned before that I have had several horses in and out over the spring and summer. Last year I still had Billy when I brought Sky and Zorro home. I had Captain Planet when I brought Sky and Zorro home as well. Sky had quite a lot going on when I brought her home. Much of it physical. But she also had a lot of adjusting to do. She came from my mom’s. They live in a subdivision but the houses are much closer to together than here. They have trees. LOTS of trees. We don’t have any. (Well I’m exaggerating. We have a few baby trees in the front yard.) We don’t have any pine trees or apple trees or bushes to provide cover. You can see for miles. On a clear day you can see many many many miles. This was unsettling for Sky and she spent many hours just gazing off into the distance and being on edge that first summer.

Winter came and went and Bonnie had several laminitic episodes that caused Sky great stress. Sky gained quite a bit of weight as Bonnie went through her agonizing lameness. Bonnie got skinnier and skinnier and Sky got fatter and fatter.

I had a few of my grandmother’s horses come in in the early spring. This caused quite a bit of stress as the filly picked on Sky all the time. The summer went on with Bonnie continuing to be laminitic and then full on foundering. Sky continued to gain weight and Bonnie continued to lose weight.

Then I brought home another mare that had been my grandmother’s. Sky and this mare had lived together for years at my mom’s so I thought she would be happy to have her back in her herd. Boy was I wrong! The mare, Essie, bossed Sky all over the track and wouldn’t let her in the run in shed. I put together another run in shed and thought maybe Sky and another horse or two could use that but it ended up that Sky was pushed out of the herd and had to use it all by herself. This was so hard to watch! I hoped they would work it out over the winter.

Then I had a gal contact me interested in buying Captain and I told her about Essie as well. It’s so much easier for a horse to settle if they have a companion. She wanted one for a pet, Captain, and one her kids could ride, Essie! It’s amazing how these things work out as I had decided to keep both Captain and Essie. Around this time I also had the opportunity to bring home another pony that I trained to drive years ago and have always really loved. So I was trying to figure out how to feed and care for 6 ponies over the winter.

It wasn’t until Essie and Captain left that I realized just how stressed I was feeling! Not only that, Sky’s demeanor changed immediately –  like, overnight! Before they left Sky had been being difficult to catch, she didn’t want to drive, she was cranky all the time, ears pinned, stomping around in a huff. She was spooky and exciting to drive, but I knew she wasn’t happy. The day after they left she came trotting to me, nickering, eyes bright and gave me kisses. She followed me around and when I came in with a halter she met me at the gate.

I am paying attention to how all three of them handled the loss of Captain and Essie; Zorro was a bit stressed to be without his brother, but both Sky and Bonnie are much happier, calmer and more content without them. This helped me decide not to bring home the new pony for driving. I don’t want to disrupt the peace and quiet. Everything feels so sweet right now. I think we’ll just love where we are!

The Secrets of a Horse

The Secrets of a Horse - www.theessentialhorse.com

Years ago I had the pleasure of being trained by Linda Tellington-Jones and her sister Robyn Hood in the art of the TTouch method.

The Tellington TTouch helps to relieve tension, fear of contact, soreness or discomfort and transforms nervous, spooky or resistant horses and improve attitude and behavior. With TTouch your horse will enjoy learning and cooperate willingly. TTouch has been used extensively to speed healing and recovery from injury and illness in horses and in all animals, including humans. – From the TTouch website (http://www.ttouch.com/whyTTEAM.shtml)

It is an amazing program that encompasses the horse physically and mentally and gives the owner tools to help even the most difficult horse. One of these tools is a book called “Getting in TTouch, Understand and Influence Your Horse’s Personality.”

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This book discusses how “your horse’s head is a major expression of his personality.” She goes through the profile, the jowl size, the muzzle shape, the length of the mouth, the shape (or non-shape) of the upper lip, the chin, the nostrils, the size of the eye, the placement of the eye, the size and placement of the ears and the swirls found on the horse’s head and body. It’s a very interesting book and I’ve found it to be spot on. Years ago my mom and I went through our entire herd of horses (which was quite a few horses, Thoroughbreds, a Percheron, Arabians and miniature horses) and found the descriptions to be exactly like each of our horses.

I got the book out the other day when people were commenting on the two swirls on Sky’s forehead after I shared a picture of her getting her teeth floated.

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LOL! Poor Sky. She would be horrified if she knew I shared this picture.

Anyhoo… I wasn’t surprised when I went through all her features. In fact it just supported everything I already know about her. But going back over these things and having them fresh in my mind is always helpful!

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Profile: There are 10 different types of profile.

  • Sky has a straight profile –> uncomplicated and learns easily.

The Jowls: There are 3 types of jowls, large-round jowl, medium jowl, small shallow jowl.

  • I think for her head size she has a medium jowl –> average ability to learn. (Sometimes there are a few conflicting things, but when you are done you will get a good clear picture of your horse’s personality.)

The Muzzle: There are 7 types of muzzles.

  • Sky has a square muzzle –> tends to signify a stable, uncomplicated nature.

The Mouth:  There are 4 types of mouths.

  • I think Sky has a medium mouth with fullness in the area at the top of the mouth –> indicates a stubborn streak. Avoid getting into fights with such horses, as it will only make them more resistant.

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The Lips: There are 10 different types of lips!

  • Sky has a heart shaped lip –> this indicates an expressive, curious and extroverted character… Oh Boy is she!!!
  • Mobile upper lip –> curiosity and the physical need to have contact with humans – sometimes mouthing them for example.
  • Complex lip and chin –> indicates a complex character.

The Nostrils: There are 8 types of nostrils.

  • I think Sky’s are large, moveable and open nostrils –> a sign of a nature that is intelligent, interested and eagerly active… yes yes and yes!
  • Shapely nostrils, fluted at the top –> horses that think a lot can have this type of nostril. If the top of the nostril has a well-defined shape and is firm, they’ll tend to be cooperative if a person is fair and confident. TRUE!

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The Chin: There are 7 types of chins.

  • Sky has a complex chin –> indicates a complex character (here is that word “complex” again!)

The Eyes: There are 15 types of eyes!

  • Sky has a medium sized eye –> this indicates average intelligence

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  • Eyes set high, close to ear –> sometimes slow to learn
  • Eyes set on sides of head –> may appear disinterested in their surroundings. May be fearful or shy at things that ‘appear’ suddenly. She absolutely does this and this is also why I think she likes her blinders. They help shield her from the suddenness of things appearing.

The Ears: There are 11 types of ears.

  • Ears set wide apart at the base –> likely to have a good capacity to learn, steady.
  • Broad ear with little definition –> medium learner, cooperative

Her ears do indicate a steady nature. Though she can be quite complex- once she understands something and is confident- she is as steady as they come! This mare drove in many parades andwas the calm, steady one for the younger horses. She drove in winter parades while wearing bells and lights, after which we merrily trotted around the big city of Missoula Montana bringing cheer to the neighborhoods. She drove in the Homecoming Parade in Missoula with the loud blaring music, the fire trucks blasting their horns and kids rushing out to grab candy as she walked by. She was an excellent parade pony.

Swirls: There are 5 types of swirls with some subcategories mixed in. There are swirls on the face and on the body. (Zorro has a big swirl right in the middle of his withers. How interesting!)

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  • Double swirl side-by-side or one above the other –> these horses tend to be more emotional and over-reactive than average. They tend to become upset without apparent reason and at unexpected moments. Generally horses with this pattern are not ideal for beginners.

Boy is this true! As I said above she was a rock star in parades. However she can not handle driving out in the field because it’s something new. She was trained on the roads in our neighborhood so that is where she is calm and confident. I thought having a mowed track in our field would be an easy place to exercise her, in a relaxed setting, but that is not how Sky sees it! LOL!

Some interesting observations… I’ve had several horses in and out this spring and summer and fall. They would cycle into the herd, stay here until they found a home and then cycle back out. The latest one was a sweet mare named Essie. Essie bossed everyone except Bonnie. And she wouldn’t let Sky into the shed when it was raining or snowing. So Sky went off by herself and stood in the other run in shed. Heart breaking really.

About the time I brought Essie home, Sky started getting very crabby. She walked away when I went to catch her, she wouldn’t whinny at me or snuggle with me. She is a kisser and loves to put her nose up and have you kiss it while she blows on your cheek. But she stopped doing this. She had her ears back most of the time, she quit eating her grain.

This past Saturday I took Essie and Captain Planet to their new home. The next day Sky whinnied at me when I came out to feed. She finished her grain all by herself (Bonnie was disappointed as she had been finishing it!) and started putting her nose on my cheek and asking for kisses and scratches! Sometimes we don’t think about how the horse feels when we bring home new horses or sell horses from the herd, but seeing how Sky handled this has been so interesting! She is so calm on the track again, resting often, laying down flat, completely relaxing. AND I was able to tighten her girth TWO holes today! I haven’t driven her for 3 days and she lost an inch? How interesting!! That is proof to me that stress causes them to gain weight. She doesn’t like change. She clearly didn’t like Essie being here. And I don’t think she misses Captain either. (but Zorro does. Poor baby!)

I felt so bad about selling Essie and Captain until I saw how Sky reacted. Now I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I didn’t realize how suffocated I felt with 5 horses, worrying about how to exercise them all, what to feed them, what they all needed, how I was going to afford to buy enough hay for the winter! Now, I have more than enough hay to get through the winter and even into spring and summer. What a relief. And my sensitive, ‘complicated’ Sky is happy again. That is the most important.

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I felt compelled to share TTouch with you. Maybe it will give you something to consider for your horse!

 

The Importance of Body Language

My boys and I mowed a nice big track out in one of our pastures. We also made a smaller, oval track to use as a warm up area. I wanted to mow the track because we have a lot of old irrigation ditches, gopher holes and rocks in our pastures and I want to be able to see these hiding in the tall grass. It also gave me a chance to walk it and pick the best route possible.

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Driving on the small track.

The first time I drove Sky on the small track she did very well. We went around one direction about 6 times, then I had her change direction and we went around 6 more times. It was a decent warm up, took us about 15 minutes and she was walking and trotting nicely, so we moved onto the large track. Once we got about 1/3 of the way around the big track Sky lost it big time. She was hopping forward, front feet off the ground, head held high, bouncing along. Then she could she would power ahead and just basically run away with me. Suddenly the mowed track didn’t seem important at all as I managed her emotions by having her do figure of eights and circle, circle, circle. When a driving horse loses it like this you can’t simply get off and do some ground work. It would have been very dangerous for me to try to unharness her when she was incapable of keeping her feet still or even on the ground! So I held on for dear life, nearly bouncing out of the cart a few times, and wishing with all my heart for my independent suspension kit from Patty’s Pony Place!!! And my footman’s loops as my breeching kept loosening and then slamming tight against her butt as the cart bounced around behind her. This didn’t help her mind at all.

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Driving on the large track. She is fine with this part of the track. Where it curves out there by the fence is where she looses her s-h-i-t.

We finally made it back to the smaller track where we went back to work circling, circling, circling. Finally she calmed down enough to walk a bit and cool off some. She was drenched in sweat and foaming a bit between her legs and under her harness. I was sweating myself! I unharnessed her, cooled her down and let her stand tied for a little while.

Onto day two! It was much the same. The warm up went very well, but once we went out onto the larger track and got about 1/3 of the way around it she lost it again. When she starts to lose it her breathing changes and she makes a roaring sound. She gets super high headed and tight across her top line and she won’t listen to the bit at all. I did several one rein stops, basically circling her until the circle got too tight and she would stop, but she was heaving and not relaxed once stopped so we would move again. When she gets right brained – reactive – like this she is not using the thinking side of her brain but just reacting. The best thing I can do to help her is allow her to move her feet, but in a way that changes the pattern. Hence the figure of eights! This causes her to change direction, change direction and change direction all while allowing her feet to move, until her brain turns back on. It took a few minutes and then she was half way listening so we turned around and headed back towards the small track. It was slow going as I had to keep circling and circling her whenever she started rushing.

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On our way back to the small track.

I found the whole thing very interesting and a little frustrating as I had hoped the track would be a relaxing way to exercise her. Not hard on her joints and close to home. It also means I don’t have to put her boots on every time I drive. But it is not the time for that!

The third day I took her back out on the road, where she was calm and connected the entire drive. No rushing, no losing her mind. She walked and trotted and cantered when I asked and was very happy to be out and about!

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Sky happy to be back on the road again!

I had to laugh as I realized that she was happy to be out because she KNOWS what is going to happen when we drive on the road. She is comfortable with road driving because that is where we have spent most of our driving hours. Even her early years of driving where done on the road. Barking dogs, cars, trucks, tractors, all these are fine because she is familiar with them. Toss in a nice quiet mowed grass track and she looses her s-h-i-t. How interesting!

I have also noticed that she likes wearing bells. She is far less reactive when she has bells on as they tend to drown out the other sounds. Sounds of hoof beats off in the distance and sounds of the grass brushing under the cart.

Some horses like to be able to see all around them when they drive. Not Sky. When I restarted her this spring I started in her a halter and she was like a bomb waiting to blow as we drove down the road. When the horses would run up to the fence she would try to bolt, when the birds flew up from the grass or out from a shed alongside the road, she would shy and spin around to run home. When the sunlight reflected off a mud puddle she would spin that travois around SO FAST that sometimes I barely knew what happened! Then I put her blinders on and everything changed. She didn’t spook at the birds every time. She quit being so reactive to the horses along side the road. She barely glanced at mud puddles. Basically, she had her work suit on and it was time to drive! That’s how it is with the bells. What she doesn’t know about won’t hurt her. She likes to live in oblivion. Some horses don’t like that at all and need to see and hear everything.

Years ago we had a Haflinger that we drove and she went best in an open bridle. If you had blinders on her everything that touched her butt was a mountain lion trying to eat her. Without the blinders anything could touch her butt (except maybe a mountain lion!) and she took it in stride.

I guess what I’m sharing tonight is take the time to learn about your horse. Be flexible. Just because you think driving or riding in a bitless bridle is the best thing for a horse they may feel differently. If your horse goes better with the blinders, then drive with the blinders. If they don’t like the blinders, then drive in an open bridle.

Understand their body language and what they are trying to say. It’s especially important with a driving horse as you can’t feel their muscles tighten or their breathing change as well since you are behind them. You may miss some of the more subtle cues they give if you aren’t aware and listening all the time.

Tonight I drove Sky out on the road again. It was raining a bit and very chilly, but she was happy as could be trotting down the road.

When we got to the two track road her head went up some. I paid attention and started talking with her a bit more using my reins. I knew there must be something down in the ravine off to our right so I began to pay more attention over there. Sure enough about 40 head of antelope started streaming up the side of the ravine and off through a fence to the south of us. Sky’s head went up even more as she heard them moving through the grass so I had her stop and watch. She was keyed up pretty good and thought about bolting once or twice but I was able to keep her there with my voice. After they finished moving off she sighed and licked and chewed then turned and walked off. Her head went up a few more times as the stragglers moved off and then a few deer came up out of the ravine as well, but she was listening to me and not thinking about running off. Then when we went back around that same lane she blew out repeatedly, letting go of more of that anxiety.

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Left: Sky relaxed and connected. Right: Her head is up and she is getting worried about something.

When we circled back to the road she was relaxed and trotted happily down the road and then walked home.

These last few days just really got me thinking about how each horse is an individual and if you understand your horse, see things from their point-of-view, it can really help you, to help them, become more calm and connected.

New Comfy Fit Harness Parts!

New Comfy Fit Harness Parts! - www.theessentialhorse.com

Whoot whoot! My new saddle and bridle and a bigger girth (for my very ‘mature’ mare Sky) came in the mail today! I was so excited. I spent quite a bit of time just sitting and looking them over. I brought in my old harness parts and pieced the harness together, put the bit and the reins on the new bridle and just admired it all. Then I couldn’t stand it any longer and had to go out and try everything on Sky!

Our harness is now 90% Comfy Fit Harness! I bought all my pieces from Chimacum Tack. We have:

All we need is the Comfy Fit Breeching, turn back strap, hold back straps and the crupper and our entire harness will be the Comfy Fit harness. I’ve spend the last year and a half saving up money and buying it one piece at a time!

The first thing I bought was the Deluxe Breast Collar because I knew Sky would be so much more comfortable pulling the cart over our rough terrain with that piece of equipment. That was the #1 piece for us!

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Comfy Fit Deluxe Collar

I noticed that she has had some shoulder and wither discomfort lately and I think that’s due to the treeless saddle that was also a bit too short for her. Since she has gotten so much ‘bigger’ much of her old harness just doesn’t fit her very well anymore. I’m not sure it will fit any of my ponies as they are all bigger than Sky! (I like my minis BIG. An oxymoron, I know.) The short, treeless saddle just creates pressure behind her withers and shoulders and doesn’t help disperse the roughness of our terrain. (Though I am addressing this with the independent suspension kit I have on order from Patty’s Pony Place!! Whoot whoot! It’s all coming together!)

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As you can see the old saddle is way too short. I bought the long pad to go under it trying to help her out some and I think it did help! But I love the new long, wrap around style of the Comfy Fit Saddle. It’s also padded all the way down the sides as well!

I love the look of the Comfy Fit Bridle and knew I had to have one for her as well. And of course after I tried everything on her and took her for a short spin around the yard… I put the flowers on the brow band! The blinders are bigger and round. I love how they are cupped so they won’t rub on her eyelashes. The cheek pieces are sleek and lay flat against her face. The nose band is lined and so soft. The back of the nose band is also padded along her jaw line. The poll strap is contoured to fit behind the ears better and it’s also padded and so soft! It’s just a very pretty headstall and fits the miniature horse head wonderfully!

Old bridle on the left and new Comfy Fit Bridle on the right!

I am so so excited about my harness. It looks so beautiful on Sky and will look just as good on Zorro and Essie as well! I am very happy with my choice to have it lined with brown leather. That look is very striking.

Here is a short video of us playing in the front yard! It’s been quite a while since I’ve been able to drive Sky so she was full of it!

She is so cute!