Long Overdue Update

Quite a bit of time has gone by since the last update, and there are many things to share!

Singlefoot Farms has Mini Mania!

First off, I would like to welcome the newest member of the herd – Nostalgia’s Keno. Keno is a miniature gelding who is just a complete ham. He has been driven extensively and later today we will be hitching him with my new cart! He’s a splash bay who is just absolutely precious. My eventual plan is to break Mac to drive and use them as a pair to do some basic farm work.

It has been a dream of mine since I was about 8 years old to have my own driving horse, but my old pony was retired by the time I got a cart. So it stayed a dream, until now. I finally decided to just go ahead and bit the bullet and purchased a nice harness from Comfyfit and a cart from GS Carts in Iowa. I am very pleased with the quality and cannot wait until we get to hitch him today!

I am so pleased to have my adorable pair of minis together now and I think they make a fine addition to the herd here at the farm.

 

Horse Sales

Zero Gravity and Mid-Summer’s Night sold last summer and fall, respectively. They are both doing fabulously in their new homes and I am still able to see Roxie at the shows. She has picked up a few blues with her fabulous rider, Zoni. I am so excited that I can keep an eye on that pair!

Bailey went home with Donna, who purchased Darby last year. He is growing and maturing and doing fantastically.

We are now at the herd we wish to be at for now, but we still have access to plenty of well trained horses for sale through our friend, Stoner Ridge Farm. I am more than happy to answer any questions as I have ridden nearly all of their sales horses extensively. Robert has an excellent training philosophy and consistently turns out beautifully trained, soft horses with a great gait. Please call me at 859.771.7555 if you have any questions!

Desert Sands and Warmth

In January, I was able to make the trek back to Arizona to visit my two favorite desert Rockies and their owner, Tamara. I was able to hit the trails on both horses and get to ride some gorgeous QH as well. It was a fabulous trip and wonderful reprieve in the midst of a disgusting and cold winter.

I have decided that one day, Singlefoot Farms will relocate to the warm sands of Arizona. The business plan will include a tack store (you can see our online tack store Spur Stop Tack for our sales now), and a boarding barn. I am very excited to work towards this goal and will provide more information when I can!

Tuesday and Wednesday Rides

Tuesday

 

Exploration was the word of the day! Penny, Rocket, Tamara and I went off to discover just how much of the Mountain Preserve there was. It was a bit of a blustery day, but the sun was shining. The trails were perfect for long stretches of gaiting, with a few obstacles thrown in the way here or there.

We worked on making sure the horses kept their weight shifted to their hind end when going down hills and didn’t rush up out of the gulley. It may seem easy to let them rush up and down those inclines; but in order to keep both the rider and horse safe they need to sit back and really work down the hills and walk up the hill. This can prevent stumbling and falling; especially on a steep grade. I’ve seen some nasty situations that could have been prevented. Every moment of a ride can really be a learning opportunity, so it allowed us to stop and work at our leisure.

 

The mountains are nestled in the middle of Phoenix. It is such a neat thing to be able to see downtown Phoenix while standing on one of the ridges. After winding around the Mountain Preserve for several hours, we took a path that led back to the boarding facility. It ended up taking us through several of the manicured neighborhoods, going up and down the blacktop streets and we were able to gait down the lovely streets. It definitely caused a stir, as people didn’t recognize the classic sound of the four beat gait echoing down the roads. Penny and Rocket were well behaved; except for the few manholes that Penny was certain would swallow her whole. After looking at them and snorting just a bit, she eased on by and continued like nothing happened. It was so neat that there are so many paths that run from the neighborhoods to the mountain and back. It was a gorgeous four-hour trip and we’ve only explored a small amount of the preserve.

 

Wednesday

This evening we enjoyed a session at sunset. The facility has lights and remains open 24 hours a day, so it was great to be able to bask in the full moon and work on refinement of communication. It gave the opportunity to work on collection on the circle and asking the horses to engage their hindquarters and step through. We also worked on making aids more invisible by adding leg pressure in to help the horse step over on the circle. It never ceases to amaze me how much a horse responds to your own body weight. They really do follow your own carriage – you drop your shoulder and they will drop theirs. When you look left to direct the horse to the left, your body naturally drops more weight on the right side and aids in directing your horse over. As time goes on, it really becomes more of a dance with the horse and can eventually minimize the rein cues you need.

 

My own goal has been to pretend I never have reins. I am constantly working to see what I can accomplish just based off my legs, with the reins to add emphasis or slightly correct the horse. They pick everything up so quickly, and the quicker I release when they do the right thing and correct when they do something wrong, the better it gets. It is now my goal to help my riders do the same thing. This has been a superb opportunity to really determine a way to effectively articulate these concepts. And what better way than in the moonlight on a gorgeous desert night!

 

Lessons Galore

It has been a pleasure to introduce the gaited horses to people who have so much interest in riding but didn’t have the opportunity previously. One such rider was Loreana, who had ridden some but had not done so in a long span of time. She was enthusiastic and ready to go  though, so we decided to fix that problem and let her have a good ride on Rocket.

Loreana on Rocket

 

As her confidence grew, we started incorporating some gait into the mix. Rocket was a champ and was steady, allowing her to understand just how a sensitive horse works. As the ride progressed, she was gaiting for longer and longer spans of time, and really beginning to settle in.

 

After that, it was Tamara’s turn to enjoy her mare, and we started working on refinement of leg cues in directing her left and right, as well as collection during the gait. They really are starting to form a more cohesive pair and I can’t wait to see them continue to progress.

In the end, this photo sums it all up!

The Trip to Phoenix

The Trip Home

Silver’s Blue Plate Special (Penny) and Little Rocket (Rocket) made the 1800 mile trip to Phoenix, Arizona this past week to their new home with Tamara Penn. I was given the amazing opportunity to fly out and assist Tamara in a crash course in equine education. Both horses belonged to Stoner Ridge Farm, but I was consigning them both for Robert Lawson. What an awesome experience it has been!

The flight here was threatened by the vast amount of tornados that hit the region right as I left. A tornado warning flashed across the screen of the TV right before I went to board the plane. Keeping my hopes up (and fingers crossed), I stepped onto the plane and was relieved as we eased into the air. The mares had left two days earlier, which simplified their trip immensely. It really brought home the fact that the devastation was so close though, and my deepest condolences go to those who have lost anything or everything they have. I have attempted to do everything I can from so far away, but I sincerely wish I could do more.

 

Beautiful Phoenix

Once the horses and I reached Arizona soil, it was time to enjoy the beautiful weather! Rocket settled in easily, but Penny was just a little concerned about her change in venue. It allowed for the perfect chance to show Tamara what to do if the horses ever got higher energy. A little round pen work, then some under saddle work and it seemed to click in her mind that it was in fact not going to kill her to be in another state. Soon, Tamara was moving Penny around and asking her to change directions and really focus her mind and bring it back to her normal, calm self. As time progressed, we started working under saddle in the round pen, then moving out to the arena.

Penny and I enjoying that gorgeous scenery.

On Saturday, it was finally time to hit the trails. A quick warm up showed that both mares were in their normal, thinking frame of mind – so we headed out to enjoy some scenic mountain views. The trails wound up and down the mountains beautifully. The mares encountered mountain bikers, hikers, dogs and a few teens that bolted down the hill. They took everything in stride and really illustrated what the Mountain Horse was bred to do – gait up those rocky trails! Those horses never faltered.

Learning Curves

There were some bumps along the way – but nothing serious and it just offered the opportunity for me to tweak my teaching style. There is nothing like an immersive session to really refine horsemanship style. I needed to ensure that Tamara was able to continue on in my stead when I returned to Kentucky. Everything needed to be covered – from basic veterinary care, what needed to go in an emergency kit, how to tend to minor wounds, mounting and dismounting, gaiting, fixing minor issues on the ground and under saddle, and feeding. Those are but a few of the massive amount of topics that needed to be covered. It was completely different than the one hour sessions I was accustomed to when teaching, but it was so much more rewarding and really uncovered any holes in my training program. It has been so stellar to watch Tamara improve in leaps and bounds and see her communication improve with Rocket and Penny. She is really starting to form a bond with the two girls.

Bringing Light to the Mountain Horse

Today was another chance to really let the Mountain Horse shine. A friend of Tamara’s, Loreana, came out to meet Penny and Rocket and get a chance to ride again. Rocket quietly obliged her and was nice and consistent in gaiting, though it may have taken a little to get her into it. She was definitely on the lazier side! Tamara has now been introduced into basic english Prince of Wales spurs and it has taken her to a new level of communication. I will post photos of that soon.

From the beginning, people were interested in the two gorgeous horses that were brought to the farm. Other boarders were asking questions, and while doing so they shared the stories of their Arabians, Quarter Horses and Mules. It really brings to light that no matter what breed we work with, it is important to just enjoy them. There is no place for discrimination in breed and discipline decisions. If we were all the same, life would be so boring! However, it is nice to have such exemplary models for the breed to shed light on the Rocky Mountain Horse in Arizona.

Continuing Forward

There are still a large amount of days left before me on this trip, and I am beyond excited to be part of this and continue to instruct Tamara and her new girls. I feel confident that I will be able to leave her at the beginning of her journey a more confident rider who is ready to continue solo.