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_black_gloves_2_r

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.

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One of the reasons the teacher at Patterson Elementary School in Holly likes to bring her students here for therapeutic riding is because we work together to incorporate her classroom lesson plans into the riding lesson.

Finding YellowThis week we were working on colors. Not to confuse shapes and colors, or to remember that the square is blue and the triangle is green, all the barrels had a picture of a color circle.

Since we are also working on learning how to stop a horse, it was just a matter of combining two tasks – recognizing a color and stopping the horse – to devise the Color Game!

Each rider was given a different color. When they found their assigned color they would stop their horse. Once they got good at finding their color and stopping their horse we added another dimension. Name something that is that color. It was interesting to see how many riders would look around the arena to match an item to that color and how many would “think” of something – usually food.

Everyone was a winner, reinforcing concepts they were learning in the classroom.


Volunteer Leading a Horse

Dustin enjoys the ride while Matt leads the horse.

 

 

 

Everyone will tell you that volunteering is good for you – makes you feel good that you’ve helped someone. But, according to a Prevention Magazine, volunteering is actually good for your brain!

What does volunteering do?  It:

  • Challenges you to get intellectually engaged.  When you volunteer you may find yourself in a new situation with new  challenges, or at least ones you don’t get at home or on the job. For example, if you don’t work with horses on a daily basis you will probably finding yourself trying to think of new ways to get that horse to move over or explain to a youngster how to steer the horse.
  • Keeps your brain skills sharp.  Volunteering can offer you a chance to give our brains a work out.  Volunteering at our horse facility can require that you pay attention, as you learn new skills that pertain to horses and the riders.
  • Keeps you socially engaged.  Volunteering gives you an opportunity to connect with others.  You will meet new friends who are here for the same purpose – helping our riders. Some great and lasting friendships have been found in a horse barn.

    Kiree rides Buttercup with Jan leading

    Kiree rides Buttercup with Jan leading

  • Makes you feel good.  Helping others is good for our soul and you feel it most when the rider gets off the horse and gives you a big smile and hug.

So if you are looking for ways to help your brain, consider volunteering.  Pretty Pony Pastures  can use volunteers for its therapeutic riding program on Sunday afternoon, Monday and Thursday evening. No experience needed.


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:

Rider

Equitation

Trail

Flag/Barrel

Horse Stew

Total
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.


As we begin Volunteer Appreciation Week, I think about all the different ways we can serve each other and have an effect on a life. Sometimes it’s a person we know; sometimes a person we don’t; but always the person within.

At our farm, we appreciate the time our volunteers take to work with our riders. We all have seen different ways the horses have made improvements in the lives of our riders – increasing muscle tone and coordination, gaining confidence by controlling a 1,000 pound animal, and just having fun.

There have also been positive improvements in our volunteers as well. Blood pressure lowered, weight loss, increased confidence and finding a new joy in living.

As Tom Brokaw once said, “It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.”

So to all the volunteers, men and women, young and old, who take the time to make a difference in the life of someone else, we, at Pretty Pony Pastures, salute you.


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.


to our barn.

Those of you who knew Tom, are familiar with his way of welcoming everyone who entered our barn.  Sometimes I still hear him greeting the riders when they come in for their lessons, even though it’s just in my mind.   So I wanted a way to have his presence felt, even for those who never knew him.

While I was going through some stuff, I saw his boots…they’re old boots…I think he wore them every day for years.  The sides are sagging, one boot can hardly stay upright, but, they’re his boots.  Scuffed, well-used, and comfortable.  Perfect!

Fall arrangement

Christmas arrangement

I decided to put them in the corner by the entrance from the barn to the arena and fill them with flowers as the seasons change.  Look at them as you enter the arena and tell me if you don’t feel that warm welcome in your heart.