Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Harvest Day 2010

For the second year in a row, the school I teach at welcomed our horses to participate in Harvest Day, a day to celebrate and learn about Maryland agriculture in the school.  We had many presenters, from apple sauce making, to a farmer with his equipment, to a Chesapeake Bay waterman, a Native American museum, pie making, and of course, the horses.

My friend Steve once again trekked up to the farm with his truck to help haul our rather large horses to the school.  And, since my husband couldn't take off work this year, my friend Rori offered to come out and help present as well.  Scroll down for the pictures - and remember, click on each on to view full sized.

First, we arrived and set up.  Rienzi and Shae enjoyed some peace and quite prior to the student rotations.

Each class did a great job staying behind the cavalettis.

We discussed a little bit about a horse's hooves.

We talked about the fact that my horses are barefoot and don't have shoes.

We talked about a horse's tack.

We talked about how to ask your horse to move.  Here, I'm asking Shae to go sideways (and exaggerating what the rider does).

And here I'm exaggerating how to ask Shae to collect herself and back up.

I demonstrated some simulations of horse training techniques.  Here, I'm trying to teach my "horse" without using words.  He picked up on his job pretty quickly!

 Communication through tools, not voices.

This "horse" even learned a trick!  The main point of this exercise was to show how people and horses have to communicate to each other without words.  It also showed how people need to stay calm and not get frustrated when your horse takes a little time to figure things out.

Of course, Shae couldn't be outdone by another "horse" doing HER tricks.  It was funny, she would get up on the pedestal and then try to also do something with the cones (which were just randomly sitting there).  

Of course, Shae wasn't the only one at Harvest Day.  Rienzi got the chance to be an artist's model.  Here, Steve talks about horse safety.

She then (quite contently) stood around so students could sketch her.

Rori came in her competition hunter jumper clothes and showed students how to draw a horse based on geometric shapes.

Ren was quite happy not to be running all around.  Standing is one of her favorite gaits.

Students sketched away.  I haven't had a chance to see any of their artwork yet.  Perhaps they'll bring me some later this week.

Ren thinks her mane side is her "better side."

Shae on the other hand had to demonstrate how we warm up.
Here I'm asking her to step her right hind leg really underneath herself without allowing her to push into me with her shoulder.  I was asking for some pretty small trot and canter circles from her.

And some of the teacher's got a chance to hang with Shae while I was doing simulations with student volunteers.

Shae is also one for getting lots of attention.

Asking for a hug?  Or checking pockets for treats?  You decide!

Of course, some teachers had loftier plans....

Getting my ropes squared away.

Shae is so funny... she's totally trying to figure out who to listen to... the person on her back, or me.  It's a good thing she's so good natured.

Another successful ride.

The fourth graders were also very respectful during the presentation.

Shae was fabulous the entire time.  Not one single spook from anything that was going on.  

And we had to stick around to present to the first graders.

They wanted to see all of Shae's tricks.  Although, in this picture she's only giving me about 70%.... that opposite knee is supposed to be on the ground!  Of course, after doing things so repetitively for so many groups, she was getting a bit tired by everything at this point.

All in all, a successful Harvest Day!

Posing for these pictures were interesting.  Basically, I asked the students to set up and then side stepped Shae up behind them and kept her a little distance away from them.  Student safety first!  

And finally, we headed back home.  Fall is definitely here!

A special thanks to Steve (for driving for St. Mary's Co. to Anne Arundel Co. to haul my girls down to the school) and Jenna for being the best school nurse/horse washer in the world.  Without yours and Gabbi's help, it would have taken me twice as long to bath and get the girls ready for their day out.  Also, thank you Rori for coming out and presenting as well.  I wish you weren't moving down to South Carolina at the end of the month!  Who else is going to give Shae some exercise while I'm busy at work?  Give us a call and we'll do a 3 hour weekend trail ride - George has been itching to get out and take the girls for a RUN, and I think (knock on wood) that Ren's feeling up to it.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cantering 101 for Lex

While George was trimming, I let Lexi ride Ren today.  She was intent on cantering for the first time bareback so of course, Ren was happy to oblige.  Gotta say, for such a giant horse (remember, Ren is 16.3) Ren is a great confidence builder!  Click to view pictures full size.
Time to mount up!

Starting out with some yields at the walk.

Then time for some trotting.
 And they're off at the canter!! Whoo hoo!  Go Lex!

They cantered this way....

... and they cantered that way...
... They cantered towards us...

... and they cantered away from us!

She even cantered some alongside George and Shae!

And all the time Lex did a great job keeping her balance bareback!

Now, Rienzi wasn't the only one who got to do some cantering... Shae did some too.  George was asking for lots of go and doing some desensitization work with ropes as well.

Personally, these pictures don't really show how fast Shae was going.

It was fairly fast.

Phew Shae, what's that smell?  Oh wait... that's George changing his shoes.

Course, Lexi's not done yet!

She asked Ren to get up on the pedestal.
Posed for photos.

And then zonked out for a little nap. (I think at that point, Ren was ready for a nap too!)

Not bad for a Sunday afternoon!
No ride would be complete without giving your mount a hug! (And, more importantly to Ren, some horsey cookies!)

 Not too shabby Lex, not too shabby at all!

Believe it or not, I rode as well today.  One day, George will PICK UP THE CAMERA!  ;P

Did I mention that Lex also rode Shae today as well?
She walked and did a lot of posting trotting as well.  Most of the time I was on Ren with her, so I didn't get as many pictures of Lex and Shae.  If she can ride Shae's trot, she can ride pretty much ANY horses trot!  Shae's got a lot of Friesian bounce to her movement.