Yesterday I spent most of the afternoon on my riding lawn mower making myself a marathon track with obstacles. I am so happy to have my riding lawn mower back… it didn’t run all last year and I really missed being able to make myself such fun obstacles!

IMG_1388

I mowed a nice track around the 10 acre field. I am going to put at least two more obstacles out there as well!

I put in a cones course, complete with a little bridge!

IMG_1392IMG_1511

I put in a tires course, which is just like running the barrels!

IMG_1536IMG_1512

I have a barrels course:

IMG_1399

IMG_1514

And then there is the track:

I think we are going to have a lot of fun out there!

Zorro has been feeling grumpy lately. I think he needs a little break from the long drives and this is a way to mix things up for him.

I am going to take the Skid Steer out there tomorrow and fill in the holes and dips we encountered today to smooth things out a bit. We did trot and canter but it was a bit bouncy! LOL!

I am going to add two more obstacles out on the track, another cones course and ?? I’m not sure what the other will be but it will be FUN!

For Memorial Weekend I took my pony and my friend Molly and her pony, and we ran away to the mountains. No cell service, no internet, completely unplugged. It was such a wonderful weekend, even if it rained every day and all night!

zorroandgoldiephotobomb

Molly and I were the first to arrive at the camp ground and immediately started setting up our camp. We decided to high line our ponies this year as the pen worked last year- but just barely. (And the pen didn’t really work very well for Zorro at the barefoot hoof trimming clinic two weeks ago…) I had practiced with Zorro at home all last week and he did very well. Molly had been tying Goldie (so she can practice patience) so she was also prepared for the high line. She actually settled very well tied to it. Much better than when she is hard tied.

poniesonthehighlineponiesonthehighlinesmall

Many of the club members high lined their horses. A few did that last year and Molly and I liked the simplicity of it. It’s so much easier to pack a long line, some tree savers and a few ties than to pack panels and posts and wire to build the pen! It’s much faster to set up and to take down as well.

thecamphorses

If you look closely at the photo below you will spot the Fjords laying in the bushes….

fjordsinthebushessmall

Zorro even laid down to sleep at night.

zorrosleepingonthehighline

We were all quite happy with the high line!

Molly and I were busy getting everything unloaded, unpacking the horse stuff, putting the bikes together, making the bed in the back of the Tahoe, when it started to rain a bit harder, so we shut the Tahoe doors to keep our bed dry, only to find we had locked the keys in it. SIGH. (**Note above that I said we ran away to the mountains where there wasn’t any CELL SERVICE!!!)

I have a bad cold that has settled deep in my lungs which makes me have to take my inhaler very often. My inhaler was also locked in the Tahoe. Molly walked around the camp and found a spot where she had one bar and was able to receive a text from her hubby. So she tried sending him one. He got it!!

She sent him a text asking him to call my Handsome Hubby to have him call Triple A. We had to wait on pins and needles for quite some time because it would take several minutes for the text messages to send and then even longer for them to come in, but my Hubby was able to call and get someone on their way to unlock my car. We heard that news just minutes before we were prepared to break a window because my asthma was getting so bad!! (It was close to 3 hours from the time I locked the keys in the Tahoe to when the guy showed up.)

When the guy showed up to unlock the Tahoe he looked exactly like a knight in shining armor to me. And he had the best attitude. He was so happy to have the chance to drive up to Monture and see the horses and ponies on his Friday, late afternoon, before Memorial weekend. I was so grateful for him and his good attitude!

After that drama, we hitched up and took the ponies for a short little drive around. I was checking to see how Zorro felt and we were practicing giving Goldie a nice quiet, calm drive.

drivingtheponies

zorrolooking

mollysentouragesmallA couple of the other members also hitched up and did a little test drive that evening…claudiaandcobaltsmall

Claudia holding Cobalt for Nicole. Here they were preparing to unhitch after they got back from their drive.

claudiaandcobalt2

We had a nice time helping set up camp once everyone else got there. Of course we had a wonderful dinner and some great campfire talk. Then we all went off to get a good night sleep before our big drive on Saturday morning…

preparingthetablesthegathering

It was a beautiful evening!

carrieswagon

We woke up to some overcast skies and a bit of a light misting rain. We had breakfast and then prepared the horses, ponies and mule, for our drive!

Saturday we drove 14 miles. We left the camp at 10:00 and got back at 3:30. It misted on us, then it rained pretty good, then the sun came out. We got back to camp just before a really good drenching rain started. Once that started it didn’t stop all night long.

goldieandmolly

headingintothetrees

thegroupthroughthetrees

rainyforest

Sometimes things happen on the trail and we have to stop while they get sorted. We stopped here because a horse that was tied to the back of a wagon got loose and they had to catch her. It was lightly raining here and the forest looked so beautiful. After I took the above photo I realized what I was looking at:

wheretheunicornslive

The place where Unicorns live!! Can you see that misty meadow through the trees? I just know it was full of grazing unicorns. Zorro kept gazing that way, when he wasn’t watching them try to catch the loose horse, and I know he was thinking about his friends in that magical meadow.

When we had to stop again Molly and Ryker took the chance to have a potty break…

gopotty
This photo is titled “GO POTTY” because that’s what Molly was telling Ryker. And instead of going potty he was gleefully rolling around in the grass. I was laughing so hard!

zorropatientlywaiting

zorroonthetrail

thelake
The lake we drove past!

headingtolunch

finallythesuncameout

We stopped and had lunch…

Then we went and played at a creek crossing. Zorro was thristy but when Goldie and Molly crossed the creek it was up to Goldie’s belly and nearly ended up in Molly’s lap so Zorro and I turned around and crossed the bridge. LOL!!

It was so nice to get back to the campsite, eat a good dinner and sit around the camp fire visiting.

Then on Sunday we were undecided about how long we should drive. It was drizzling all morning off and on. The club decided to head out and just do a short drive…that turned into a 15 mile drive!

I did NOT intend to do that either Zorro or Goldie, but when you are out in the mountains it can be hard to know if it’s shorter to turn around where you are or to push on. At one point we were battling ankle deep mud that was sticky and getting caught on the tires so we did NOT want to back track that section of the road. The poor ponies!

They did it like trooper, alternating walking, trotting and cantering. The last 4 miles were the longest 4 miles of my LIFE. I was exhausted and wet and cold and worried about my pony. But he kept such a perky outlook. He walked when he needed to, both ponies would stop if they needed a break and then continue when they were ready.

Of course the rain stopped as we got back to camp and when we drove away from the campsite with the truck and trailer to head home, the sun came out. Isn’t that always how it works!?

oliveandleeann

oliveandleeann2
Olive and Lee Ann prepared to head on out Sunday morning!
nicoleandkinji
Nicole in the wagon and Kenji on his horse ponying his other mare.

mollyandgoldieonsunday

zorrosears2
Going up, up, up!

We were slogging through the deepest, stickiest mud. Then we would have to cross large deep mud puddles. The Equine Fusion boots never twisted or loosened. They stayed put the entire time! We were both SO HAPPY with these boots. The Easy Boot Minis we had last year were a total joke on this same weekend drive. And we didn’t even have to deal with the deep mud. We just had to cross lots of water and deal with the sand. The velcro on the Equine Fusion boots still looks like new!!

zorrosmuddyboots
Zorro was booted on all four for the weekend.

reststop

walkingbehindtheminis

coldandwet
Wet, muddy and getting tired! We were about 4 miles from the campground here.

This bull was standing all alone up at the corner of his pasture watching us all drive by. He looked like he was watching a parade. LOL!

thebull

As we approached the bull Zorro didn’t know quite what to do. He was between a rock and a hard place!

betweenarockandahardplace

When we got back to camp we were covered in mud. My harness has mud caked on in every nook and cranny. The bike was covered in mud, the boots were caked in mud but there wasn’t any mud IN them. I have A LOT of clean up to do today!

muddyharnessandboots

The ponies were glad to be back at camp, to eat some dry hay and have a little break before we loaded them up and headed home!

theponiesattheendofthedrive

There were moments on that last drive that I was so miserable I couldn’t even put my feelings into words. LOL. But I wouldn’t have wanted to be any place else but in Monture with my pony and my friend Molly.

I also want to say that Molly should get the “Best Conditioned Horse” award at these things. Goldie is 32″ tall and super refined. This mare is teeny tiny. It’s a wonder that we can even make a bridle to fit her head! And she can easily out do every single horse at these events. She never gives up and never seems to run out of energy. She is in amazing shape and has such a can do attitude. I just love her…

goldie2small
This face means “Mindy, give-me-every-single-hay-pellet-in-your-pocket-and-then-go-and-get-me-all-my-treats-out-of-the-trailer” look.

zorromarch1519

Zorro and I had such a fantastic drive today. Really really lovely. We took the bike out because the snow is melting off the road so the sled is probably done for the year. (Except I’m taking it to the clinic tomorrow to go sledding in the field if the snow isn’t too deep there! I’ll share more about that later!)

To start I had to make a little video so Zorro had to stand quietly while I did that. My hubby was moving some snow with the skid steer right in front of us. But Zorro stood like a statue while I moved around with the camera. He was watching the skid steer but was nice and relaxed.

ariannaonbike

ariannaonbike2
Arianna thought she would like to go along for a ride.

There were some big mud puddles in the road today and Zorro made a beeline for them and then took some time to get a drink from each one.

 

zorroinpuddle

I love that because water crossings can be the most stressful thing to help a horse with. Even mud puddles can be hard for some horses to handle! And having a horse drink from creeks, ponds, puddles, or even buckets when you are out and about can be hard. So I’m glad to see that Zorro drinks when he is thirsty. My favorite kind of pony!

zorrodrinkingfrompuddle

We ran across one of our neighbors out exercising one of her rodeo horses. Aside from a little spook when the horse appeared behind us, Zorro was such a good boy. He stood quietly while we talked even when the other horse was a bit fidgety. I was so proud of him! Then they rode off and Zorro got a bit antsy at that point because they were leaving. I had him drive up the road a bit further and then turned him around to head towards home, following far behind my neighbor.

zorromarch1519(3)
He knows they are ahead of us on the road but he stood quietly when I asked him to.

Zorro knew they were up there somewhere but he listened to me, stood quietly when I had him whoa and stand still, walked off calmly, trotted up and then came back down to a nice walk. Everything I asked he did! He is going to be so much fun this summer!!

zorromarch1519(5)

Here is a video of our drive:

We drove 3.5 miles today. That makes 17 1/2 miles for the month of March!

Finally! The weather has broke a bit and Zorro and I have hit the road again. At least we aren’t below zero anymore. It’s still snowing buckets and buckets of snow, but with the temps in the 20’s and 30’s it’s time to get back to it!

Yesterday Zorro and I did two miles. I decided to start easy with a halter and one line. I do a lot of one line driving when I start a driving pony. I don’t talk about it much because it’s a tricky way to start and my cause more frustration for most people. But I find it very simple. And once they understand the concept away we go! Zorro drives just as well on one line as he does with two 🙂

Here is our video from yesterday:

Today we walked three miles and Zorro was happy as a clam the whole time. He really would have preferred trotting but I am also working back up to 5 miles a day and running is not in the cards right now! LOL! But I won’t hold him back too long. He will be back to pulling the sled and the bike in a week or so. I don’t want to waste the good snow on the roads right now! The snow at our house is too deep to enjoy. It would just be too hard on Zorro.

This is what you get when you have a basically white pony, who likes to nap A LOT and is stuck in a small area.

zorrosodirty
He is so embarrassed about how dirty he is…

There is so much poop because I can’t move it from where they are currently to the manure pile due to the deep snow. I rake it to the edges, but Zorro really does like to lay in the manure pile anyway and so chooses to lay in the poop in the small area too! LOL

zorrosodirty2
What!? So I’m dirty… lets go for a walk!

And away we went!

zorrowalking2

And he is looking really good coming out of winter. I can see those 68 miles on him! And the fact that they can’t go in when the weather is bad means they have to use a bit of the fat they are packing. He is really trimming down nicely! I am excited to see what is under all that dirty hair!

zorroskinnier

zorrowalkingtowardsmountains

A little video from today. Zorro is learning to be more consistent at the walk. He likes to break gait and trot often. He will get more consistent with time!

I’m very happy to be back out there tracking our miles and getting more experience under our belts. We are going to have such a great year of driving!

Today was Zorro’s first day pulling the Hyperbike! It was so exciting to hitch him to the bike. I could hardly wait to do it!

He was awesome, as expected. He walked right up to it, smelled it, as I teach them all to do as part of targeting and positive reinforcement. This is a great way to allow them to be a part of the entire harnessing and hitching process. Then he stood perfectly while I hitched him to the bike.

I didn’t get straight on because I usually walk along with him a little bit when I hitch something new to him so I did that briefly and then hopped on!

img_9742
Clearly he is having a hard time… I think I was interrupting his nap! LOL!

My oldest son did some videoing for me and we made this video showing Zorro being hitched and then driven for the first time in the bike!

In the video I talk a little bit about my traces and shaft loops. I had the shaft loops lowered for the travois, but they need to up higher to perfectly balance my bike. Then in order to have the shaft loops hang nice and straight and not pull forward on the saddle all the time I have to move my ponies forward in the shafts of the bike so I use a large pony set of traces, 63″ long. The shorter traces put them too far back which makes my shaft loops have to stretch forward to the shaft stops and puts the gig end of the shafts too far forward on their shoulder, causing some rubbing on my collar and then the gig end of the shaft kind of jabs them in the shoulder when they turn. So moving them forward in the shafts solved that, but did make my footman’s loops be a little bit further back than I like. But at least the bike is light weight!

Here is a picture of Zorro in the bike with the shorter traces, at the top, and then with the longer traces, the bottom photo.

zorroandbikecollage

In the bottom photo you can see how nice and straight the shaft loops hang and how the gig end stops at the buckle instead of forward on his shoulder. Perfect! It does mean there is a little more room between his butt and the front of the seat. This will be fine most of the time… today it was tricky which I’ll talk about soon!

Off we went! I do get out and walk with him because I want to get exercise too and he needs to move forward in his training. Plus I am planning on doing lots of mountain driving this summer and some of the trails have big boulders and very steep sections so I’ll have to get out and walk those. He may as well get used to me doing that now!

img_9754

**This is one of the times that I will say “Do as I say not as I do!!” Certainly if you are driving a big horse do not ever get out of the cart and walk along with the horse. It is safer and you have more control over a horse when driving, if you stay in the cart. I will just continue to get in the bike and ride and get out and walk when I want to climb a steep hill or climb mountains, but I really encourage you to stay in your cart when driving…

We walked 5 miles today for a total of 65 miles since January 2nd! And when I rode in the cart Zorro did tons of trotting. He was sweaty when we got home!

img_9762

When we got to the top of the hill Zorro and Samson posed for a photo:img_9779

Then we started back down the hill! On the steep parts I did get out so he wouldn’t have a hard time on the snow and ice. But at the bottom of one of the steep hills I got back in the bike and off we went! Zorro was trotting along and then started cantering along. He was doing so awesome! Just floating along. Samson had run up the side of the embankment and I called him back so he wouldn’t pop out of the trees ahead of us and scare Zorro, as he sometimes does, and when Samson came back onto the road with us, Zorro gave a sassy toss of his head and then kicked out in glee! Which normally wouldn’t be a horrible deal, not something I want any horse to do in harness of course, but because I’m not quite close enough with my bike set up he nearly kicked me right in the face!!! I think this is an accurate tracking of this…

whenialmostgotkickedintheface

Of course I made him walk immediately and he had to haul my a$$ up the steep hill at a walk in the snow! That’ll teach him. LOL.

He has not kicked out in the travois or in the sled and we’ve done cantering in both. So it was surprise. And not something I want to have happen again! We will be doing lots of cantering in a controlled environment to help ensure that it doesn’t.

Please understand that I do tons of ground work and preparation so this type of thing doesn’t happen and yet sometimes these things happen! I am committed to sharing every part of the journey, even when it’s not a flattering part. Immediately after the kick out I told him to walk and he did as soon as I asked. He didn’t argue or try to run off. He was bright eyed and happy to drag me up that steep hill in the snow and then we did lots of trotting and cantering after and he was great. Just be prepared for things to go a bit crooked sometimes. Don’t get mad, just move on! (Though I will admit that I was muttering under my breath and called him a jerk after the incident…)

It was such an awesome day! So so much fun. I’m so darn proud of Zorro and all he has accomplished this month. We will continue on with the bike and I’ll pepper in some sledding and some travois stuff here and there as well. May as well keep him guessing!

img_9753

 

zorroonourwalk

We humans tend to be very direct in our thinking. This leads us to make goals and then make a beeline straight for them. In so doing we can sometimes overlook how our horse feels. Horses are not direct line thinkers and if we keep this in mind we will actually make it to our goals much quicker.

It’s a good thing to remember that just because the horse has passed the ground driving part of it’s training doesn’t mean it can’t still go for walks, or go back and do some one line driving. If a horse is in the cart but you find a hole in the training or need to exercise yourself, then there is no rule that says you can’t go back to the travois.

Today Zorro and the dogs and I went for a nice walk. He enjoyed himself! He was really funny to watch and to see how different he is since we’ve started the ground driving. He listens better and is more connected now than before.

zorroonourwalk2

We watched some deer bound up a hill side. He was spell bound by them.

zorrowatchingthedeer

But when we came back down at that spot he got very wound up and unconfident. So we just stood and waited. He looked and looked for some deer. He looked and looked for some mountain lions. He looked and looked for bears. But there was nothing.

He was not relaxing however. So I looked for Samson who was quite a ways down the road, sitting and looking for deer too. I called him back to us and immediately Zorro relaxed, lowered his head, licked and chewed and breathed out. It was so cute. He was much happier with Samson back with us. We are all a herd together when we are out and about!

zorroonourwalk4

I have been sharing a lot about how keeping track of our miles has be SUPER motivating for me to get out and walk with Zorro. I even signed us up for several virtual races. We received two medals that we “won” yesterday! Whoot whoot! We completed two half marathons, at our own pace and in our own time. Below is our Be Fierce Series medal with the adorable little Kricket mini horse. She competes with her big “sister” in endurance rides. Both she and her owner have inspired me in the last year to start keeping track of our walks and drives. It’s so fun to see the miles rack up!

As I mentioned yesterday, Zorro and I have walked 51 miles since Jan 2nd. If we keep this up we will walk/drive several 100 miles this year! Of course the weather will play a part in how much we can get out. Keeping us both sound and happy is going to be key! So we are both working on getting into shape so we can enjoy a lovely year of making miles together.

I get lots of questions about how I keep track of my miles. I was gifted a Smart Watch for Christmas (Thank you Janie and Maren!!!) and I have been using that to track our walks. The GPS works in the watch even when we are out of cell range. I have found my phone quits tracking us if we are out of range AND the battery always dies when we are out- even when I start with a 100% battery. Running the tracking apps just takes too much battery. So my watch is a wonderful alternative!!

My favorite app (after trying quite a few different ones…) is Strava. This is available for apple devices only. I’m not sure what app would be best for the android phones/watches. If you have an android device and use an app you like please share that below!!

screen shot 2019-01-24 at 11.57.52 am

I use the Outdoor Walk for when we are ground driving and the Outdoor Ride for when I am driving in the cart. Both are very accurate. I have walked our walk and then I drove my Tahoe up there, did the trip mileage and the Strava app was accurate, to the decimal point. I found in my search that the elevation that I gain, as I climb up into the hills, can mess up some of the tracking apps and they think we have gone much farther than we actually went. I had one that said we went over 6 miles when the accurate mileage was 3 miles. So some can be very off. It’s only fun for me if the miles tracked are accurate ones.

If getting a medal would also be a motivator for you then I suggest Run Motivators. You can sign up for virtual races and compete on your own time at your own pace. They have challenges which are long term ‘races’. Over time you keep track of your miles and earn the medal for 25, 50 and 100 miles races! There is even one called Invincible – where you run (or walk) 1200 miles in 2019! The medals you win are very nice and fun to hang on your wall.

img_3061

Zorro and I will continue to march on through the year. Once he is in the bike then we will be using the biking tracking system and will continue to track our miles. We will be hiking this summer and doing lots of walking as well so I can continue to get in shape. So far we made a great start! If you are interested in doing this and have any questions please shoot me an email or put your question below in the comments. I’ll be happy to help if I can!