Wednesday, December 18th, 2019

So true – I see this happen all the time with different riders on the same horse!

Doing the Work

There’s this thing about working with horses… it’s one of those things that is responsible for making working with horses difficult, soul-shattering hard work. And I don’t want to be Debbie Downer here, but it’s one of those kind of hard-to-swallow universal truths about horses that we sometimes really wish wasn’t so.

But it is so. And really, I wish this was the first thing we were taught about horses.

Horses seek the level of the person/people working with them.

Yes, I too wish that wasn’t true, because I’d rather it wasn’t that easy to get a report card on my work. But it is true. Sometimes sooner, sometimes later, for better or for worse, eventually our horses will end up at our level.

This phenomenon explains a lot of what goes on in the horse world. This explains why a horse could be a complete “angel” for the trainer…

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Navigating a pattern

Navigating a pattern

One of the activities that we do with our riders is weaving cones or guiding the horse through a pattern. Both of these require the rider to pull the rein with either the right or left hand. Some of our riders have a hard time grasping right or left hand. For a time, I would say pull toward the wall or pull toward me. The rider could get the horse to walk the pattern, but the objective of learning left and right was not met.


red=right; black=left

One of the moms came up with the idea of putting a red glove on her child’s right hand and a black glove on the left. Instant success! Well, maybe not instant, but we were able to work toward learning right and left.First we started by asking the rider to pull with the red hand or the black hand. Being able to see the colors helped the rider pull the correct rein. Now we added right or left to the direction, pull with the red right hand, pull with the black left hand.

The rider was already associating the color with the correct hand. Now the rider could correlate the color to the hand. Finally we were able to only say right or left and the rider pulled with the correct rein.

Knowing right from left is so important in many activities, that we try to make an effort to teach this as one of the riding basics.

Despite the howling winds, the riders at Pretty Pony Pastures had a great time at our Annual Awards Ceremony. As the families arrived, the tables filled with delicious food to share. This year our cook-off was a bake-off and our judge got a sugar high tasting the scrumptious desserts that were brought it.

Once everyone got a plateful of food, our ceremony began. This is the time that our riders get certificates that show their progress in our riding program. Most riders move up one level, but there are always a few surprises – like Laina James who moved from Beginner Rider – Level 2 last year to Novice Rider – Level 3 this year! Way to go Laina!

The highlight of the event is the presenting of the Grand Champion ribbons. The scores of the riders who participated in the Giddy-up Go Horsey Show in August are tallied after the show. Each rider is awarded points based on their placement in the class and the number of participants in that class. Then, the top six riders are presented with their Grand and Reserve Champion ribbons at our Awards Ceremony.

This year our Champions were:





Horse Stew

109 Nora Kreft 5 5 3 1 14
114 Kaitlin Maloney 6 4 3   13
108 Callie Keller 5 6     11
105 Emily Kinser   2 4 4 10
110 Morgan Nimmo 4 1 2 2 9
102 Rylee Schomberg 2 2 1 3 8


Grand Champions - Callie, Nora, Rylee, Morgan

Way to go riders!






Our volunteers - Gloria, Eva, Callie, Riley

Next we honored our volunteers. Our therapeutic riding program and our Scout sessions could not take place if it weren’t for our dedicated volunteers. We thank all of you for so generously giving of your time to our facility and supporting our programs.




Cathy Capozzo - Dessert Cook-off Winner

The grand finale of the day was selecting the winning desert. Congratulations to Cathy Capozzo for her delicious dessert – Green Slime! Cathy received half the entry fees for the Cook-off.

We have one group of volunteers at Pretty Pony Pastures that help when Scout troops or other groups visit us. They are our Program Aids. They are, very literally, our right and left hands with these programs. Their responsibilities include leading the horses if we have Daisy or Brownie Troops; being spotters for Junior and Cadette Troops and Cub/Weblo Scouts. They present information at the various stations that we set up and assist with the grooming of horses before the groups arrive.

The Program Aids receive so much in return. First, after a few sessions, we see such a difference in their self-esteem and confidence.

Grooming with Brownies

Even though every PA is an experienced rider and handler, taking on this responsibility means that they have to focus on being in charge of the horse the entire time the scouts are present. For some, this is the only place they are told that they are in control and responsible for another person. The parents and leaders of the scouts often remark about the great job the PAs do both in handling the horses and working with the riders. We always pass that information to the PA, especially if they were out of ear-shot when the remark was made. They have the realization that they can do something; they are experiencing success.

Every Scout group that visits our facility is divided into patrols or small groups of three or four participants. While one group rides, the other one to three groups participate in other horse activities that are pertinent to their badge or patch. Each group has a PA assigned to them. This PA takes on the role of leader, explaining and teaching the group one aspect of horsemanship, from grooming to parts of the horse to how to care for horses. Now the PAs are practicing public speaking as well as peer-to-peer mentoring.

We have had several reports from the parents of PAs. The PA’s teachers have commented on the growth of the PA in the areas of leadership and speaking in front of the class.

The best part is the PAs are doing something they enjoy, not realizing how it is preparing them for their future.

Dancing with the Stars is one of our favorite TV show. We love the sometimes unusual “stars” that are competing and this season is no different. There is a bull rider!
Knowing what little I know about bull riding, I do know they have excellent balance and muscles. I was a little surprised to see how stiff or was it uncomfortable this contestant was.
What does this have to do with horsebackriding?
As I listened to the comments, Len Goodman tells Ty Murray after his quick-step performance, your upper body should float and the movement comes from your legs/lower body.
Interesting…first thing I thought of was how we teach riders to have an independant seat! This should be easy for him!
I don’t know about you, but the rodeo star is getting my votes.