Thursday, May 10, 2012

Spring Session

Spring session has ended this week. We lucked out again and didn't get snow, sleet, heavy rain, scorching heat or plagues of locusts.

New Volunteer training is Monday, May 14, at 6:15.

Summer session #1 starts May 21.

Here are some action shots from Spring session.  Yes, they are aiming for my face!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Let the games begin!

My goodness.  I have been one negligent blogger! 

The Thursday Night Horse Exercise team were pretty pleased with the mild winter.  Unlike previous winters, we could do more than just scoop the frozen poop, count horses and get in our cars to defrost.  We had many new young volunteers who braved the unheated barn to learn to groom and care for Rainy Moon and Hannah.  I hope they keep coming as I hardly got to yell at them at all (sorry, Penguin, you must have taught me patience!). 

The Minnesota Horse Council gave RideAbility a grant for an independent saddle which we received in February (or early March).  This will be a great addition to our tack.  Many of us have tried it out. Jacob and I think it is like riding in a pod racer (yeah, well, we're nerdy like that).  We have been just trying it on Hannah so far, but she seems to get the hang of it.

The Memorial Luncheon was in March and we all had a great time.  We had an awesome magician, Michael, who kept everyone entertained and the meal was great!

Spring classes started a few weeks ago and last through the second week of March.  It has been fun to see so many familiar student faces.  The weather has been pretty cooperative, which is always a bonus.  We always have room for more volunteers.  The summer session starts in May.

The Barn Dance is on June 2; the Pine Island Parade is June 9 (Janet and I are itching to get the fjords on the rode!); Pony Up is June 16; the Zumbrota Parade is also June 16 (yes, delusional Leslie thinks we can do both).  To get all the news, check out the calendar on the website (

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Douglas Trail RideAthon

Today we had RideAthon #2 on the Douglas Trail (hopefully someone will submit a post for RideAthon #1 which I didn't attend).

It was a nice cool day. Nancy, Dorie and I decided to ride our horses from the Barn to the New Haven Bridge and meet the trailerers there.

It was such a lovely ride even with the barking dogs and scary signs (Soleil is so smart....she's afraid of "Warning" signs). As we were approaching the paved road leading to the bridge, we saw the wagon drive by. So our timing was impeccable!

We met up with the trailer as they were just finishing. Jeanie, Jim, Pamela and Courtni (sorry if I spelled it wrong) rode Jewell, Fancy, Maxi and Sundae. Courtni gets extra points for ride that wonky pony!!

We rode to a picnic bench and ate some lunch. We then all decided to ride back to the barn and pick up the trailer later.

It was a long road ride but fun as always when you have fun people, great horses and fine weather.

We were all tired and sore and thirsty!

Unfortunately the Blogger phone app doesn't load pictures in order.

Next week: Leslie and Pam go camping and riding. Watch out!

Until we meet again!!!


Friday, September 9, 2011

Busy Summer!

It has been awhile! Since the last entry, we have had: spring classes, a barn dance, Pine Island parade, Pony Up at Rochester Feed & Country Store, pony rides at Olmsted County Fair, a few training sessions with Travis Bruce, A NEW OUTDOOR ARENA courtesy of Lena Sparks 4H Club, volunteer appreciation night (congrats to volunteer of the year Jen)....and more I probably forgot.


But we still have: another Pony Up (9/10), Student horse show (9/11), fall classes (starting 9/12), RideAThons, fall cleanup.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Notes from the Harness Clinic -- by Janet

Harnessing and Driving Intro March 5, 2011: guest speaker Bob Noser

Attended by: Penguin, Janet, Donna R. (new volunteer), Tracy (new volunteer w no horse experience), Jenna Burdick, Nancy, Jeanie.


Several of us practiced ground driving (driving while simply walking behind the horse) Jewelee. Although she has only tried this once before herself, Jewel did well. We found that the driver has to move a lot to stay behind her if turning a lot. Also, a clear loud voice is more effective in eliciting an immediate response.
We also saw how funny Penguin and Wild Cowgirl look wearing a fjord harness. Hopefully, next time a real fjord will be available.

Talk to the horse! Let it know where you are, especially if it is wearing blinders.

Groom the horse well before harnessing.

Watch the area on the center of the head just behind the ears. It can get sore where the bridle the lays. Also they get sore where the collar hits the top of the neck and the front of the shoulder where the collar fits and the tug comes up.

The harness should fit well. The britchen (aka breeching) holds the load back so it doesn’t roll up on the horse. If the britchen is too high it rides up and slides off. If it is too low it interferes with the back legs. Adjust the britchen so it rests were the rump tucks back underneath. (Rainy Moon’s britchen was set too high and has been corrected.)

The collar is what the horse presses against to pull the load via the tugs. Some harnesses use a breast strap instead (like Rainy Moon’s). Which ever it has, it must be low enough to avoid resting on the horse’s windpipe.

Single horse carts have either wooden or metal “poles” that are in each side of the horse. These are called staves, shafts or fill. The britchen gets strapped to the fill.

Bob approves of the verbal commands known to our fjords.

Gee = turn right, Haw= turn left, Whoa = Stop, HO= STOP, Get up= move forward, Back = move backward. (Stand = stay stopped; I’m not sure the fjords know this one.)

When learning to drive it is good to start with an older (8-9 year old) well trained team.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The World Through the Eyes of a Fjord

Night after night in the summer the RideAbility horses - especially Dee Dee and Merit, the two fjords - plod around the arena as though there was no doubt in their mind that their job was to take care of the precious cargo on their backs.

Those of you who spend time at horse exercise night have probably seen another side of our equine friends!

So everyone can understand our fjords a little better, here is a little insight into their world.

Take a look at this eye. See how large it is? See how it's on the side of her head? Horses are prey animals. Their eyes are large and on the sides of their heads so they can see everything that's out there, and that's exactly why horses can sometimes be hard for us to understand.

Horses often see all kinds of shadows and movement that we may never know are even present. The fact that our horses don't jump all over the place during class is a testament to their special personalities and the time put in by all of our awesome volunteers. They have come to trust us.

Horses are herd animals. This means they find safety in numbers and are not particularly trusting by nature. We spend a lot of time building trust with our horses, trying to make ourselves part of their "herd" so they can find comfort and safety in people. This is why they don't act on their natural instinct to flee everything that's not "normal."

We're especially grateful for the fjords because they are a breed that comes with a very steady personality. They're not overly sensitive to the things around them. It makes for a very predictable and not very spooky horse (though Dee Dee especially, and particularly when she hasn't been spending a lot of time with people lately, can actually get kinda jumpy), but it can also have it's own complications.

Those of you who know the fjords well know that they are very attached to each other. Personally, I don't think it's a mother-daughter thing. I think it comes from the fact that they have worked as a team so often and perhaps Dee Dee passed on her personality to Merit so that they feed off each other's needy-ness. Thankfully it doesn't show up much during our program year, but this time of year is a different story!

Tonight the girls got a little bit of work - exactly what they need. I wasn't able to ride them, but I tied one up in the paddock and walked the other one around the driveway. Then I switched. Last time we went through this routine they were quite distracted. I realized that was, in part, because I had thrown some hay out for the one left behind. In my human brain, I think, "One can eat for a few minutes and then we'll switch and the other one will get a turn." They don't think that way. They just think, "How come I'm not eating?!" The other reason they might have been better tonight is that every time that they are asked to do something on my terms, not theirs, they realize a little more that I can be trusted to take care of them and they can listen to me.

Next time you see how great RideAbility's horses are, don't forget how much work goes into keeping them that way. These are animals, not machines, and our job is to take the time to teach them how to do their jobs and to trust us. Thank you to all who spend time to do that!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

In which we have decided to thaw our fingers for a blogpost

Hello friends!

Is that spring I smell in the air?  Thoughts of mud and muck and "where did I put my rubber boots" are filling our heads! 

We have had a cold and snowy winter, which has meant a hit or miss Thursday Night Horse Exercise.  Sometimes we make it, sometimes we don't!  Why does it seem like 9 degrees is tolerable if it is daylight, but 9 degrees is intolerable at night? 

Of course, nothing warms you up like riding bareback on a big fuzzy creature!  Don't I look positively sweaty?? 

That is Soleil, by the way.  She is a BIG fuzzy creature this winter.  She also gets the biggest ice balls in her hooves (which are already the size of dinner plates). 

Jeanie, Nancy and I went to the RT Autism fundraiser a few weeks to give our support and do a little schmoozing.  Doc from the Love Boat was the headliner (yeah, he wore the uniform).  I'm supposed to get a picture that I paid $10 for to have Jeanie and Nancy pose with the guy, but I haven't seen it yet.  Here is a fuzzy photo of the three of us all cleaned up and ready for public viewing:

I would include The Fjord Report in this blog, but I haven't heard much about the girls, which means that they aren't running Katie ragged or plowing through her fences or generally causing havoc on her farm.  No new is good news!  Right?  Right?  My favorite flightless fowl and her mother did go and visit at least once.  I hope she doesn't mind that I borrowed this picture from Facebook.

We did have a nice Thursday Night Exercise Saturday Inside day at my house where some of our regular, diehard Thursday Nighters came over for pizza and horse movies (really, they need to start making horse movies where the dumb teenage girls wear helmets....just ask....I was yelling at those dumb movie girls....almost like in real life!).  [This photo is NOT of dumb teenage girls that don't wear helmets.....these are super smart girls that wear their helmets!]

Classes begin again in a few months.  Can you believe it?  Seems like just a few weeks ago we were running around playing musical chairs and egg and the spoon and bobbing for apples. 

There are lots of fun things planned for the upcoming season to help our clients and spread the word of RideAbility greatness!  Keep an eye on your email for more information that will start showing up in your inbox. 

Wishing for spring.....