This would be downhill skiing as opposed to some of the ways I’ve seen people being pulled on skis by a horse.

Michael and his coach

Michael, one of our riders has been part of the Special Olympics ski club for several years. This year his parents were very proud of him, winning two medals in the Winter Special Olympics last month.
Besides the cross training that skiing and horseback riding have – building core muscles, strengthening leg muscles, building confidence, and a sense of satisfaction, both also help increase mental awareness, especially focus. Both sports require that you know where you want to end up and focus on getting there.
In our riding classes, we frequently weave cones or poles, taking points off if the horse/rider steps on a cone or knocks over a pole. So the slalom run in skiing isn’t much different. Focus on getting between the poles as quickly as possible.
We also do trail classes, where the riders follow a pattern of turns and obstacles. Michael’s dad said that Michael was the only one to complete the run correctly. The other skiers missed the last 90 degree turn at the end of the run.
Good job Michael!
And when Michael returned to riding after our winter break, I could see that he had more confidence in steering his horses as well. Looks like cross-training horseback riding with skiing is a great way to go.


Some people do things that need to be done knowing that they may not see the fruits of their labor.

And so it was at our place.

People would often ask why us why  were so dedicated to the therapeutic riding program, 15 years as volunteers, then, to start our own program when Tom retired.

Tom’s answer would typically be, “We try to do for others what we can’t do for our own.”  A mysterious sort of answer, but no one ever asked him what he meant by it.

Our grandson, Jamie, has special needs.  In 1987, Tom decided to look into therapeutic riding to see if this was a venue that would help Jamie.  He liked what he saw, and he stayed.  For reasons that I can’t/won’t go into, Jamie – who was four at that time – never did ride in the program.

In fact, when I met Tom in 1988 as a volunteer for the riding program, I didn’t know about Jamie until maybe a year later.  Not that he was keeping it a secret, but, the opportunity to say anything didn’t come up during those riding sessions.

Time past, and although Tom often felt disappointed that Jamie was unable to participate, his dedication to the program amazed me.  Then, several years later after we married and settled on our farm, he was very supportive of purchasing horses, building an arena and starting our own program.  All in hopes that Jamie would have a place to ride.  But, by that time, Jamie became fearful of horses and wouldn’t even step into the barn.

Today, Tom would have been proud!

Earlier this week, Jamie and Tom’s son, Wes, came by to do some work around the barn.  After the work was done, Jamie looked at the horses and said, “I ride.”  His dad and I looked at him and asked, “Do you want to ride a horse?”  Jamie smiled and said, “Yes.”

Jamie's first ride

I told Wes to bring him on Thursday so Jamie could ride in my adult session.

He came and even helped groom the horse.  Then I brought out Tom’s endurance saddle.  “Here, Jamie,” I said.  “This was grandpa’s saddle.  He would want you to ride in it.”  Jamie just smiled.  I’m not sure he understands that grandpa is gone…he never asks about his absence…perhaps he does understand.

Jamie mounted the horse like he’d been doing it all his life, while his dad led him around for the lesson.

Maybe it didn’t happen in his lifetime, but, Tom’s dedication to therapeutic riding has finally come to fruition for his grandson.  I’m sure Tom was looking down on him and smiling.

That’s “riding” – not “writing”

Daniel_Buttercup_the_reFor the longest time I’ve used my dressage cones to teach letters and to give the riders a marker to either stop at or make a circle.  As the riders progressed, I’d ask them to stop their horse at a letter, then tell me a word that started with that letter.  All part of the fun of therapeutic riding.



Jasmine_Lu-Rain_likeLast week, Mrs. Danneker, the teacher who brings her students for therapeutic riding once a week, asked if we could do words instead of letters.  Why not!  So sent me the sight words that the students were learning that week and I printed them out, put them in plastic holders and placed them on the four corner barrels.


Kyla_Slick_can_reThe riders thought it was great to circle a word PLUS it reinforced their vocabulary words for the week.  They were so proud when they found their word, too!

We added a new class to our Giddy-Up Go Horse Show this year – Mom (or Dad) and Me!  A Mom or Dad who had never ridden a horse could take part in the trail class – and be led by their daughter or son, if they chose.  This gave the parents a chance to see and feel what it’s like to be on a horse.

Leading Mom over the bridge.

Leading Mom over the bridge.


Our first rider was Carrie led by her daughter, Riley.  This was a big step for Carrie.  Riley has been riding with us for two years, but Carrie had never even been near a horse before her daughter decided to learn how to ride.  Because Riley was under six when she started to ride, Carrie needed to be with her in the arena.  It was a mother/daughter learning experience from how to groom to how to saddle and how to lead.  Riley is now an Intermediate rider and wants to learn how to jump!  Mom is happy that she overcame her fears and was able to walk Stella through the obstacles in the trail class.


Leading Dad over the pole.

Leading Dad over the pole.

Our next entry was Matt led by his daughter, Riley.  (No confusion or relationship here.  We have two Riley’s in our classes, both of whom had a parent riding.)  Matt claims that he didn’t even know he was entered until the day of the show.  He has always been very supportive of his two daughters taking riding lessons, but never knew what it took to actually ride a horse.  After completing the class, Matt remarked that riding was a lot harder than it looks and has to give his daughters a lot of credit for what they have accomplished.  Both Riley and her sister Callie are Intermediate riders in our riding program.


Both parents received participation ribbons for taking part in the class.  Perhaps next year a few more parents will want to try to ride!

Our second annual horse show was scheduled for Saturday, August 8, 2009, but apparently mother nature had different ideas on when we should hold our show.  As the riders and guest gathered, so did the thunderstorms with torrential downpours!  The horses started acting a little jittery, and since we don’t ride during thunderstorms, we decided to postpone the show until Sunday.

Sunday was a bright and hotter day.  We actually tied the record high of 92 degrees!  None-the-less, 20-some riders and their families reconvened at our facility.  The show started promptly at 11:00 am and continued, despited the heat, until 7:00 pm.  Not bad.  No heat exhaution, we kept the arena fans going and water flowing, everyone, including the horses survived.

The show was divided into three three sections – showmanship, equitations, games.

Only five riders participated in the showmanship class.  Each followed the pattern with the horse rather nicely.

The equitation classes consisted of two parts – an equitation pattern and a trail class.  In the equitation pattern class, the rider was judged on his or her form.  Heels down, eyes forward, ability to keep the horse on the rail, whether the reins were too loose or too tight, etc.  The trail classes judges the riders ability to maneuver the horse through obstacles.  This year our riders had to cross a bridge, walk over a star-burst AND keep the horse in the center of the poles, walk through a gate, through an L set up with poles, trot the long wall or at least walk it AND either do a two-point or stand in the stirrups when crossing the pole that was about half-way down the long wall, make a tight turn, grab a ring from a cone, then set the ring on a spindle.  We did practice in class before the show so no one got butterflies from not being sure of either pattern!

The games were pole-bending and pony express.  Our pole-bending was more like cone bending.  Yes, if the cone got knocked over, you would have time added to the score and there were only four cones instead of the traditional six.  Pony Express was a modified barrel racing game but instead of three barrels there were four barrels and a cone (start/end designation) and instead of a cloverleaf the rider made a star with all right turns in the pattern.

At the end of the show, ribbons were awarded to the show Grand Champion and five Reserve Grand Champions.  This year we had a tie for First Reserve Champion!

This our show winners were:

Alex, Eva, Linda, Callie, Riley (not pictured Bowen and Shelby)

Alex, Eva, Linda, Callie, Riley (not pictured Morgan, Bowen and Shelby)

Grand Champion – Shelby Krohn – riding Stella
First Reserve GC – Eva Aguilar – riding Lu-Rain
First Reserve GC – Morgan Nimmo – riding Slick Chick
Second Reserve GC – Alex Aguilar – riding Lu-Rain
Third Reserve GC – Callie Keller – riding Slick Chick/Leslie
Fourth Reserve GC – Bowen Waltz – riding Slick Chick
Fifth Reserve GC – Riley Redmond – riding Leslie

All of the riders did an excellent job of showing off their riding skills.  We hope they all come back next year for the third annual Giddy-Up Go Horsey Show!

Congratulations to all of our riders!

Welcome to Life at Pretty Pony Pastures.  We hope to share with you our work with both the Haflinger breed and our Therapeutic Riding Program.