I just want to share how my bike is working. I keep hearing that it is not possible to have weight at the horse end of the shaft without using wrap straps. I have achieved that while using the open shaft loops and driving with a loose over girth. I can get in and out of my bike without having it tip up or threaten to tip over backward and can trot and canter uphill or on the flat or over rough ground without any bouncing and with a little weight in the shaft loops OR I can have them float a bit.
Mostly I can sit back in my seat. BUT I understand that I am driving in a two wheeled vehicle so I do my best to be an active driver that is watching the balance and doing my best to work with my horse and not against him. If I am going up a hill I lean forward (just as you would when riding) when we go down hill I lean back. When cantering I lean forward just a bit. When we go over rough ground depending on what kind of trail we are on I will lean forward or lean back. If there are large boulders and deep ruts then I am constantly moving to keep my bike balanced and floating so the shaft ends aren’t yanking my pony’s shoulders around.
In the video below I am showing how there is weight at the horse end of the shafts while we trot downhill, trot over level ground and then walk up a hill all with me leaning back in the seat and without wrap straps. It can be done with a little work at getting good balance.
The video below shows my friend Molly and her little mare Goldie. They are trotting and cantering along, up a hill, with open shaft loops, perfectly balanced. They drive this way in the mountains and on the road without any issues.
The bike is so lightweight and when things are all working as they should it is very well balanced. It’s amazing how much you can affect the balance at the horse end of the shafts with your body.
I thought I would write about how this blog got started. I’ve been sharing my thoughts here for 9 years now. It started out as a place for me to share my big horse journey.
I was having such a hard time with my big horse at the time. My horsemanship journey was full of ups and downs and lots of heart ache, mixed in with awesome days that kept me trying. BUT everything I was reading online was about bright shining horsemanship, lots of positive, happy stuff which is great too but I was always wondering… was I the only one that was having so much trouble?
I started my blog as a kind of diary. But I thought maybe, just maybe, there were others out there having a hard time and wondering if they were alone. It turns out there were LOTS of people having a hard time! My blog allowed me to form a lovely little group of people to share my horsemanship journey with. There were bumps along the way but mostly those people were super supportive and kind.
I shared my good days and my bad days. Just putting it all out there.
When I had my last horse accident and decided that riding wasn’t for me, and I brought the minis back into my life, this blog continued on. Still full of the ups and downs, though many less downs as I found the ponies to be so much fun!
When I re-started Sky in the cart I shared about it here.
When Bonnie started having her health issues I shared about them here.
As I have tried and changed feed programs I have shared that here.
Then I started sharing more about my harness journey, what I was buying, why I liked it.
I shared my cart journey and my excitement when I got my Hyperbike.
I shared when things weren’t really working well, not fitting or not appropriate for the job at hand. That triggered another group of people who started following me… People passionate about doing what’s best for their horses and ponies. They are passionate about trying new things and staying flexible.
BUT I also inadvertently drew in some negative people. People who do not like me questioning things. People who don’t agree with me and aren’t shy about calling me out. That’s totally fine with me, I don’t care if people don’t agree, but I don’t like when they try to make me feel like a bad person because I am doing something differently.
I say it all the time here… there is more than one way to get the job done. Just because I do it my way does not make your way wrong, but neither does it make MY way wrong.
I’m just so tired of being people’s punching bag. Since when am I responsible for stroking other people’s ego? And why is the fact that I am doing things my way so threatening the way they are doing things? And since when have I EVER claimed to be an expert at anything? I share what I am doing. I share what is working. I share what is NOT working. I always say this is my opinion and please please please, always do what you think is best for your horse/pony/donkey. If people call and ask me my opinion I will share it. If people call and want to order a part for their harness and don’t ask my opinion then I don’t share it.
If you want to use wrap straps on your Hyperbike then use wraps straps. I really don’t care. If you ask me my opinion I will say:
Please do your best to balance the bike before adding the wrap straps. Don’t use the straps in place of working on the balance. There is a way to get the shaft NOT to bounce. Once that is accomplished if the wrap straps make you feel safer and more stable then by all means use them! But using them to stop the bouncing will only transfer the bounce to the pony’s tummy. This can cause sores aka girth galls. Then I will start hearing about how people’s harnesses are causing girth galls.
I’m going to continue to share here. I am open to kind, constructive comments. I will no longer tolerate aggressive emails, messages or comments on my Facebook page. I have never allowed them here as there is little to learn from those types of things. I’m just going to shut that down from now on. I’m too busy to deal with drama of this type. And I spend too many hours worrying about what a horrible person I am. All the while watching how well my harness and bike are working together. While watching how happy Zorro is when he is working. Why would I waste my time worrying about what people think who live so far away, have never met me in person, and are bent on being mean? I’m so so done.
So if you want to read my blog and try a few of the things I am doing please do!! And feel free to shoot me an email with any questions you may have. I am always happy to help, if I can. If I can’t, I have access to many very knowledgeable people who are also happy to help and I can ask them.
If you read my blog and it makes you feel angry or threatened just know that has NEVER been my intention. But do feel free to simply move on.
So Zorro had a little episode which resulted in him being a bit footy a couple of weeks ago. Of course this happened the week before we were supposed to go camping with our driving group and have two big days of driving in the mountains. I was crushed.
Zorro had been going around, reaching under the hot wire and eating the new green grass that is coming up. He has done this every year since he has lived here without any side effects. But this year everything was just right for him to get sore footed. Of course the grass he was eating is the dreaded Crested Wheat Grass that I have talked about here. This same grass cost me both Chloe and Bonnie. I am not prepared to lose any more ponies to this grass so changes had to happen.
I made a smaller pen for Zorro, had 10 yards of sand brought in and bedded his pen down with 2-3″ of sand. This helped him immediately. Of course it didn’t take all 10 yards to do that so we fenced off another area, scraped the grass up with the Bobcat and then spread the sand around for Sky and Mikey.
I set up two feed areas that have a t-post driven through a rubber mat. Then I tie their hay bag to the post and they can eat in a sand free area. We didn’t put the sand on every square foot of the area, so I put their hay in two spots that don’t have sand. Then I sweep the mats off every time I feed.
Sky has been packing on the pounds without the track. No track means little exercise. Clearly she needs to go out and work a bit so that will start this week. She looks like she may foal any day. I won’t be posting pictures of her close up for awhile!
Mikey is actually calmer and happier in the smaller area. Clearly he prefers less area to the openness of the track system. This is hard to juggle. His mental health for his physical health. I would prefer they live on a track so we are going to try something a bit different.
We took all the fences down, except for the pen they are currently in, and will re-design the track to be a little smaller and much more secure. In interior of the track will also be fenced with a field type fence, maybe cattle panels if I have enough of them to do the inside and the outside. Then we will top that with one or two strands of hot wire.
We will clear the inside of the track of as much grass as we can by scraping it with the Bobcat, as well as scraping the track. My Hubby called the home owner and talked to him about this and he is fine with it. Thank goodness! We were going to put the health of my ponies before the ground anyway and haul in material when we leave if necessary, but I am relieved that he doesn’t mind us setting this all up!
That means I can bring in more material for the track as well. Some more sand, some pea gravel… This is going to take some time and some money so I don’t think it will be done this year. We also have to build a new hay shed because I constantly lose too much hay every single year using the tarps. So the shed will come before the track. But at least we have a plan! And the horses are safe in the area they are set up in right now. There isn’t any grass in that pen and is small enough that I can stay on top of it. Plus it’s starting to warm up which will help kill the grass as well. Phew!
Is this my dream set up? Not at all. But this is one of those times when it’s important to stay flexible. This is what’s best for their health right now so this is what I will do.
They are getting a measured amount of low sugar/low starch hay while locked up. 2 flakes in their hay nets in the morning and 1 flake in the evening.
They get 1/2 a pound of alfalfa pellets topped with 2 ounces of Soybean Meal twice a day right now. They have access to salt 24/7 and of course fresh water. The boys are looking wonderful on this feed plan. I’ll stick with this for the next year and see how they do. Then I may be able to stop feeding the Soybean meal!
This is where I put their feed together in the garage. I went from 3 different garbage cans full of feed and three drawers of supplements (they didn’t get all those at the same time, it was what I had amassed over the last few years trying to find the perfect feed program!) to this:
So things have majorly simplified as far as the ponies go for right now. It’s not ideal but it is what it is!
Today is Zorro’s birthday! He is an official 4 year old as of today.
To celebrate his day we went on a lovely 4 mile drive. It’s a beautiful sun shiny day and we had a blast, walking, cantering, trotting. And as always, he looked so handsome….
A few years I ago I was super excited to see that Cavallo was now making the most adorable little boot for miniature horses. I immediately ordered a pair (actually my mom bought them for me for my birthday!) and tried them out.
I was very happy when I opened the box and saw how cute and little they were. That excitement turned to trepidation when I realized just how small they were. Teeny tiny. The only mini I had at the time that they would fit was Sky. That was fine because she was the one I was driving anyway. But I was disappointed that they didn’t make the boots bigger.
Sky wore the boots for about 10 miles when I discovered there was a hole in the sole. I emailed Cavallo and they said my horse’s didn’t have the right hoof shape for the boot but they would send me another pair to try. I thought that was strange. Her hoof measurement said the boots would fit. They DID fit, though they did rub here and there at the top, but the soles were basically plastic and just wore out on the gravel we drive on. I felt that had little do with the shape of her foot and more to do with the material they were using for the sole of the boot.
I received the other pair of boots and we tried those as well. After about another 10 miles there were holes in those as well. That pretty much ended our run on Cavallo boots.
I had also found that they were very slippery. The soles were a hard plastic with no traction and when Sky was worked on wet grass she would slip and even fell. When we walked on lots of gravel the boots would slide through the gravel making her feel unconfident with the boots on. At the time I also had the Mini Easy Boots so we just used those instead.
I have a blog that compares the different boots I’ve used over the years. You can find that here –> Boot Comparison.
I felt that a re-design was necessary for these boots. I sent Cavallo an email expressing my disappointment and that was that. Then about a month and a half ago I had an email from them saying they had re-designed their boots, making them bigger and wondered if I was interested. I said I was only interested if they also changed the sole material of the boot. They said they had and sent me two pairs to try.
I was happy to see the soles were not that hard plastic any longer and have some traction. The boots are bigger so that part is great! However, after using the Equine Fusion boots I have to say the tops of the boots are not great. They don’t close very tight thereby allowing quite a few of the smaller stones from the road to work their way down inside the boot. Not something I like to have happen, especially on the longer drives!
Below is a photo showing the Cavallo boot next to the Equine Fusion boot. These boots are meant to fit the same size hoof as well. I noticed that the Cavallos were a bit sloppy on Zorro when he walked…
There is something very strange about the toe area of the boot. They have this long piece that sticks forward, blocking the roll over. We work so hard to have a nice beveled toe so our ponies have a good break over, why would we want to block that with the boot? I really don’t understand what the thought process was with this design. They don’t have this on ANY of the big horse boots.
Here is a photo showing the beveled toe of the Equine Fusion boots:
Though minis are small they are might athletes and should be considered as such. It frustrates me to no end how some of these boots are designed. They do not help them do their job but instead hinder them.
This style of boot was making Zorro trip and the break over was stopping him from rolling all the way over onto his toe, which would make his knee give out. I tried to capture it on video (video is below) but was doing this by myself so it’s hard to see. But I think you get the idea. And I’m sure many of you can see the problem just by looking at the boot!
So. I took my hoof nippers and rasp to the front of these boots to make them work better.
Here is a video I made showing Zorro walk before I trimmed the front and then after!
This is just my opinion on these boots. Of course you should do what you think is best for your pony!
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!
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.
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.
If you look closely at the photo below you will spot the Fjords laying in the bushes….
Zorro even laid down to sleep at night.
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.
A couple of the other members also hitched up and did a little test drive that evening…
Claudia holding Cobalt for Nicole. Here they were preparing to unhitch after they got back from their drive.
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…
It was a beautiful evening!
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.
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:
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…
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!?
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!!
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!
As we approached the bull Zorro didn’t know quite what to do. He was between a rock and a hard place!
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!
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!
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…