Monday, January 19, 2009

Ponying with Bombay & Gabbrielle

Sunday was such a beautiful day. The neighborhood was quiet with everyone off at church, so I sat outside in a fold-up chair reading a novel and listening to the horses munch on their hay. It's been a long time since I've been able to do that. I was tempted to skip training the horses and just sit out there in the warm sun getting lost in my mystery, but I know that nice weekends are not guaranteed in January and I had to take advantage of it by putting in some time with the horses. I fixed a cup of instant coffee to wake myself up and got to work.

I wanted to work on leading Gabbrielle from the saddle of another horse, so I started by looping her lead rope once around the horn of Bombay's saddle and then leading them together around the paddock. I originally planned to use Lostine as the lead horse, but I noticed that Lostine and Gabbrielle have been pinning their ears back at each other lately. Usually, they are best buddies. I decided to give Bombay a try instead, since he would never kick another horse. Here I am checking how much length I need on the lead rope to keep Gabbrielle in the best position beside Bombay...

The rope kept getting caught under the saddle pad and billet, but Bombay didn't seem to care. Lostine felt left out and kept following along. Sometimes she threw her body across our path to try to stop us, and I had to tap her on the hip with the end of one of my ropes to get her to move.

Since Lostine was being a stinker, I decided to do the actual ponying in the round pen where she couldn't interfere. Gabbrielle followed along like a pro. My biggest concern was stopping her from eating the leather ties and my stirrup.

At first I just held the rope in one hand and the reins in both hands, though you really should be neck-reining in one hand. A few times Gabbrielle fell behind and pulled my arm back, which pulled on Bombay's right rein. I felt sorry for Bombay, so I loosely looped the lead rope around the horn once to take some of the pressure off his mouth. That's not the safest thing to do, but I was ready to uncoil it quickly if I needed to give Gabbrielle some rope.

When you hold the rope, you should hold it in loops as opposed to coils (though I can see in some of the pictures that I didn't always follow that rule). If the ponied horse pulls back suddenly, your hand can get trapped in a coil and you can get pulled off your mount. The head of the ponied horse should be kept about even with the position of your shoulder and about level with your knee. Making the turns was the tricky part.

In the end everyone got their pats and their peppermints.

17 comments:

Abraham Lincoln said...

What a nice story and the photos are just special. I also like your new layout a lot.

I have two new blogs to show you:

Dips Pen
Abraham Lincoln's Blog

Mrs Mom said...

Look at that filly growing up on you there NM! She is turning into a really solid citizen! Keep up the good job!!

Andrea said...

Oh what fun!! And I never realized just how tall Bombay is!! He was such a good boy!! And it looks like Gabbriel is going to be a super start. She is so easy going and smart!! I love to Pony horses, it's good for a colt!

deserthorses5 said...

Hey, you're giving me some great ideas! I need to start working my horses now that my leg is better! We have wonderful, warm weather right now, too!

Fantastyk Voyager said...

I'm glad you had a good session. I used to pony my young horse, Sandee, with my gelding, Alfie, all the time, before I could ride her. It may work out very well for you, exercising two horses at once. (Hey, that gives me an idea!!!) Gabbrielle seems to be the calmer horse, so it may help Bombay with his spooking issues because he has a peer that says things are okay.

Good for you to hold the rope in loops and not wrapped around your hand. I used to get lazy and use the horn but you don't want to do this because it could be dangerous, unless you are 100% sure your horse can hold the pull of the other horse. Sandee NEVER pulled back or spooked, and was rather small, plus I was a teenager. Doesn't that last just say it all, "No fear!"?

Breathe said...

I recently ponied a horse off Canyon (sort of out of necessity) and it was quite fun. I would love to teach Canyon to pony too. Thanks for this entry, now I know I need to practice.

Jenn said...

It looks like it all went well...Bombay is a saint! You're so lucky to have decent weather. I worked Gabe in sleet yesterday and by the time I was done, my saddle had a nice sheet of ice on it.

I really want to pony my Gabe but I know Chief will kick the holy snot out of him and Calypso has never ponied. I know Gabe has been ponied plenty of times, I just need to figure how I can teach Calypso to be a pony horse without causing her to go into freak out mode. She doesn't neck rein very well at all so that would definitely be a hindrance.

fernvalley01 said...

Looking good .I think ponying is a great way to start.

Lulu said...

I love to pony young horses!! They gain so much confidence about having a human above them.

I do loop the rope around the horn though. I would rather my mount handle any pulling pressure, rather than my shoulder!

Callie said...

Awesome job, you are so progressing! I'm amazed and have watched throughout the year you grow and be brave and "Just Do It!" Awesome! I need some of your guts!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

As far as height goes, Bombay is 15 hands, Gabbrielle is 14.3 and Lostine is 14.2. Sometimes I feel like Lostine is too small for my size as a rider, while it takes all my strength to mount Bombay even from a step stool, so I'm hoping Gabbrielle will be just right for Goldy Locks.

Mikey said...

Good post! I especially like the part about no coils. I'm always preaching that around here and am scared to death of that happening.
I once ponied bareback with two squirrely horses. The ponied horse spooked, the horse I was riding spooked the other way, they ended up wrapping me up and jerking me off the horse backwards. Scared me to death and then some. I try to always be careful as can be. No coils is super important, thanks for making it heard loud and clear.

ranchette said...

Cool. Looks like everybody's getting along just great. I frequently see one of my far neighbors ponying her horses in the summer on the roads. I haven't tried it yet.

dp said...

Thanks for the mini lesson. I have been thinking about ponying Raven off Tonka to help her with her rehabilitation, but she is sometimes crazy so I worry about it all going very wrong. We'll see!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Way to go with your ponying training. Bombay and Gabbrielle looked great!
Gabbrielle definetely was checking you out up there. I bet she was taking it all in trying to imagine a rider above her like that. She and Bombay both seem very calm and patient about the experience.

And LOOK AT YOU IN THOSE JEANS, GIFLFRIEND! Hot Mama!!

:)

~Lisa

Leah Fry said...

THANKS -- I have been wanting to try ponying, but didn't know the mechanics. And good idea trying it in the round pen first and on the ground.

Rising Rainbow said...

I'm going to be teaching a young horse here to pony soon. It's good to be reminded of the basics.

I think it's the best form of conditioning for a young horse. We'll work hills instead of going roundy round in the round pen which is what I do with the horses for my open house. But this horse I want to show in halter and he needs to be in tip top condition.

It looks like your horses are taking to it really well. Don't you just love how smart Arabians are?.......well, except when they're getting themselves in trouble because of their brains. LOL