We borrowed a pony!

I got my daughter a pony. Kind of. I’m doing a “domestic exchange” with Baron and the pony indefinitely. My friend is using Baron in her lesson program and we’re taking James the pony up to stay with us.

Meet James.
Meet James.

James the pony has terrible allergies and the summer at my friend’s farm in south Georgia is brutal for him. The vet told her James would be happier further north with less humidity. While it’s hot in my area of north Georgia, it’s not quite as miserably humid and the gnats aren’t so terrible. It seemed like a great situation for us to trade.

James is pretty much the perfect pony. He’s taken several kids through Pony Club, he jumps, he does dressage, and holy frickin’ moly is he a cute mover. I mean, perfect ten hunter mover all the way. He is also a total love bug. He canters to the fence with his pendulous belly when he sees us coming. He likes my daughter to hold his bucket on her lap while he eats and he likes her to hand feed him the last few bites. He *might* be a little spoiled.

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His allergies seem to be improving. His eyes aren’t crusty and he’s breathing better. We’re feeding him local honey, which is supposed to help with allergies. So far, so good.

My daughter is riding him either bareback or in a child’s western saddle right now (because that’s all we have). I’m looking for a used English saddle for him. She is doing so well. She is trotting on her own, and her sitting trot would make many dressage queens jealous. She’s getting the hang of posting but she finds it more difficult. She hasn’t cantered yet but she will be in no time, I’m sure.

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Up til now, she hasn’t been all that interested in the horses. She liked riding all right, but it was more my thing that she tagged along for, instead of her thing. Now that she has a pony to love, it’s her thing all the way. She asks to go to the barn and she’s taking responsibility for feeding and grooming. I’m beyond thrilled. I hope she stays interested and wants to show with me. Horses are the best thing for kids and I’m so thankful that we’ve been able to get James.

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Training Thunder- Month 6 Recap- April

April was HUGE for Thunder. I can’t believe we’ve been working for six months already! April lived up to the old rhyme about April showers; it rained and rained and rained some more. We didn’t ride as much as I would have liked, but the work we did was solid.

The physical changes in him are amazing. He went from looking like a backyard nag to looking like a quarter horse with pretty good conformation. I see the most improvement in his neck muscles, but you can see that he’s built muscle along his back and his butt too.

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I’ve started him on black oil sunflower seeds also. They’re supposed to keep dark horses from fading out in the summer sun and they have a lot of fat so they make the coat shiny. He’s been getting a half scoop mixed into his dinner for about 3 weeks now and I think he looks pretty damn shiny. You have to feed black oil seeds though. The ones human consume can’t be digested because the hull is too hard.

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I decided to try jumping him over a crossrail just for kicks. He tends to be on the lazy side but damn if he didn’t pick up the pace when I stuck a jump in front of him. The first day we jumped a board about six inches off the ground. He hit it the first time over but then figured out he had to pick up his feet. He never hit it again. The second day we jumped a regular crossrail and he killed it. I let him figure out his distances. I got him straight to the jump and then he had to find his own takeoff point. Once he got a really short spot and had an awkward up in the air jump, but every other time he did really well. I also let him decide whether to trot or canter the approach. He preferred to canter, but he wasn’t out of control or rushing. He had a good steady canter going and I think he just felt like he needed the extra momentum. Seriously though, how adorable is he jumping?

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I’ve said all along that he is going to be a cute mover when he gets muscled correctly. I saw that good movement during the jumping. He gave me a really nice trot, still high headed, but with lots of impulsion and a good rhythm.

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Jumping was fun but we really need to do more flat work. I need to work in two point at the trot to improve my leg and he needs to practice stretching and relaxing. We’re going to be doing lots and lots of trot poles for both of our fitness. After a solid month of trot poles, we’ll probably go back to jumping.

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I’m so thrilled with him though. He has turned out to be such a great little horse. His size and energy level are a good fit for me and he’s a lot of fun to ride. Originally I bought him because he wasn’t getting much attention from his former owner, but I’ve totally fallen for him. I never in a million years would have picked him out to buy. He’s a bay (my least favorite horse color), he was ewe necked and he’s little. But he’s turning into a really nice horse and I couldn’t be happier with him!

I got another horse.

I know, I know. I just learned how to correctly ride the horse I already have. But wait, there’s a story.

This summer a horse came to my barn. He’s a little grade quarter horse with a white star named Thunder. His owner was a 20-ish girl who had basically lost interest in him, or had too many other things going on to give him the attention he deserved. She would forget to drop off his feed, didn’t schedule the farrier and basically didn’t take great care of him. So I started taking care of him. I bought his feed, called the farrier and paid for him to get his feet done several times. In her defense, she did pay me back, but we’re supposed to be a self-care barn and she wasn’t caring.

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From the beginning, I told my husband what a great kids’ horse Thunder would make. My husband offered to buy him, but his owner wanted an exorbitant amount of money for him and I refused. All through the summer my husband would ask about little ole Thunder and how he was doing. This is a horse my husband has never even seen, and a horse I didn’t want to buy. If I was going to get a 2nd horse, I wanted a grey. Baron was supposed to be a grey, but I fell in love and the rest is history. So I kept taking care of Thunder and his owner kept hemming and hawing about selling him.

I’m going to cut out a bunch of this story for privacy reasons (hers, not mine), but basically his owner made a responsible decision to sell him. So I marketed the hell out of him to all my horse friends. He’s a cute mover, great conformation, great with kids, excellent trail horse, mellow on the ground and under saddle, just a good all around horse. He had three people lined up to look at him and ride. One woman came out and really liked him, but wanted her trainer to come see him before she wrote a check.

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That same day my kids fell off Baron on a trail ride. They were riding double in a western saddle, he bunny hopped over a ditch on the trail, and down they went. They were both wearing helmets and they landed on soft mud, so no one was hurt. My 4 year old didn’t even cry. Both kids got back on and rode back to the barn with no problems.

But husband was not happy. He said if I insisted on riding with the kids, then I needed to get them a kid safe horse. Baron is a good fellow, but he’s big and he’s not really a kids’ horse. So I said, “Well then, we need to buy Thunder.” And we did.

I texted his owner and said if it didn’t work out with the potential buyers, to let me know. She said she would rather sell him to me and still get to see him since he would be staying at the same barn. We agreed on a fair price and she included some of his tack and grooming stuff. I agreed that she can come visit whenever.

I now have two horses, and neither one of them is a grey, even though I am completely obsessed with greys. But both are wonderful horses and worth their weight in gold just based on attitude alone. Thunder needs a lot of work, and my next post will go into that. For now, here’s a picture of the little guy and my little girl.

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