some days…

“Pony” is said as a term of endearment.

Some days, it’s a four-letter word.

Today was kind of the latter, at least for part of the time.

I took advantage of getting up early and forced myself to get. out. the. door. in a decent time fashion, versus frittering away the time on the computer.  It paid off…it was 86* driving down to the barn.  Windows down weather!

And it stayed somewhat overcast and not unbearable right up until I was ready to depart the barn.  We even got misted-dripped-dribbled on for about two minutes while riding.  Hard to call it rain, since I think it evaporated before it even hit the ground.  But it was enough “wet” to piss off the pony.  I sort of wish I had a picture of it…we’re cantering along, I’m grinning like a loon because it feels good, and she has her ears pinned and the pissiest look on her face, since she is getting wet.

Think “Princess and the Pea” only with water instead of hard little vegetables.

Never mind that 30 minutes later, she was absolutely loving her bath.

She also wasn’t thrilled about doing arena work today.  Just for kicks, I turned on one of the GPD apps I have and tracked our time and speed, and to see just what all those circles amounted to.

One hour of riding, walk/trot/canter, 3.7 miles, with approximately the same average speed.  And it’s a sand arena…guess those years of circles actually have been good for something.

And she did the whole thing barefoot…without being gimpy.  Which is quite good, for her.  I think I’m finally getting it on her trimming.

It’s a sand arena, yes…but it’s not necessarily a “clean” sand arena…there’s random rocks and deeper spots and harder-packed shallow spots.  Arena, yes…perfectly groomed show arena, nope.  Which makes it a good workout and a good test on the hooves.

And when I say we rode for an hour, we rode.  Circles, gait changes, more circles, stop-go transitions…my show background is never far removed from the surface.  Oh, yeah, and I made her really work at carrying herself in a frame, since she wanted to keep being lazy.  When she’s lazy, she really embraces her daisy-clipper movement, which is a polite way for saying she doesn’t pick up her feet.

Which means she then trips on one of those aforementioned rocks, or a deeper patch of sand.  Since I’m not a fan of the whole -trip-fall-squish thing, I made her work and actually pick up those little legs.

And then I made it up to her at the end.

Pony swilling Gatorade…her second-favorite
flavor, “Cool Blue”
I kinda love how she’s giving me the hairy
eyeball as she grabs for it

Her Gatorade habit started back in my show days, before I had a clue what electrolytes were all about…all of us kids tended to do the “bite for me, bite for my pony” approach to food, and our ponies usually partook on whatever we were munching.  Only Mimi really loved Gatorade, especially the orange flavor.  Her preferred method of getting it was licking it right out of Mom’s hand…much better than out of a bucket.

It’s actually been years since I’ve given her any Gatorade, but I had gotten some for me last week during the worst of the heat wave, and brought the last of it down to the barn this morning.  And just for old times’ sake, I shared.
Yes, she got the last of it; No, I didn’t drink from that bottle afterwards.
Gatorade + a very refreshing bath and Pony Spa session made up for whatever ills she might have been feeling towards me.  Summer itchies + bugs + sweat + layers of fly spray mean that a bath is pretty much a weekly necessity from June-September.  She was lovely and clean when I left, although I’m sure an hour later, she wandered back into the arena and rolled in the sand.  And rolled.  And rolled.
Because she’s not happy unless she resembles a pigpen.

Yep, we’re in Arizona…

I’m now feeling the need to go back and re-read my own lovely, picture-filled post of all the areas of my state and remind myself again How. Much. I. Like. It. Here.

Because this is coming up:


Not. Ready. For. Summer.

On the plus side, this means Mimi will finally get a bath.  I haven’t bathed her since the fall, mostly because she is such a royal pain when it comes to getting a bath with cold water.  She’s a princess all the way, and if I dare bathe her with cold water, she does everything in her power to make sure I end up just as wet (and cold) as her.  So really, it’s just not worth it when there’s not an overwhelming need (such as a ride) that necessitates a bath and clean pony.

Fortunately, timing was such that when we were competing, I had an endurance friend that lived about a mile or so away from the barn…and she had a wash rack equipped with hot water.  It made the whole bathing drama go so much smoother that it was worth hitching up the trailer and dragging the ponies down to her place and back.

But she’s since moved…I’m on competition hiatus…so bath time waits until the weather gets warmer.

100* definitely qualifies.

On Ponies

This post was inspired by Mel’s comment about having an obsession with cute ponies.


Ponies can be summed by by the statement of one simple fact: “Pony” is a four-letter word.  Their behavior can be passed off with a disgusted shake of the head and a an under-the-breath mutter of “Pony.”  Or it can result in a bemused grin and a delighted exclaimation of “Ah, ponies.”

I’ve been around ponies in some capacity for my entire equine life.  The last 13 years, I’ve been owned by one.  I wouldn’t change any of it.

Ponies are an education unto themselves.  They can be alternately sweet, mischievous, bratty, irksome, playful, grumpy, and winsome…all within the space of a day.

Fortunately, my time around ponies has been spent with what I consider a very special breed — the POA.

The Pony of the Americas is a rather unique pony breed.  They’re much more similar to a small horses, both in confirmation and attitude, than a typical pony.  Say the word “pony” and most people think of Shetlands…short, fuzzy, and ornery little things that delight in unmounting their riders.  Not that all of them are that way…but a breed reputation does have to develop from somewhere.

The POA was originally developed in the mid-1950s, and the foundation registered stallion named “Black Hand” was the result of an Arabian-Appaloosa mare crossed with a Shetland pony.  Breed standard calls for the confirmation of a small horse instead of that of a pony.  They are to have the spotted coat and distinguishing features — white sclera around the eye, striped hooves, skin mottling –of an Appaloosa, an athletic, well-muscled body, and a more elegant head and neck.  Breed standard calls for a height of 46″-56″ (11.2-14hh).

Above all, the POA is a children’s breed and organization.  The only classes adult can show in are the in-hand Halter classes.  All other classes are for those 18 and under, and divided into four age categories.  Its main purpose is in showing, but one of the hallmarks of the POA is its versatility.  The shows themselves encourage ponies and riders to try a little bit of everything, and then further incentive programs are offered for outside sports such as distance riding.

During my years of showing with Mimi, my typical show day would look something start at 6am, and go until at least 6-7pm.  During that time, we would do in-hand Halter and Showmanship classes, then move to the under saddle classes, both Western and English.  Western — Bareback Equitation, Stockseat Equitation, Western Pleasure (two classes, one for the pony’s age group and one for the rider’s), Trail, Reining, Western Riding.  English – English Pleasure (again, two classes), English Equitation, Hunter Hack (combined flat/jumping class), Hunter Over Fences, Equitation Over Fences, and Open Jumping.  After that, it was Gymkhana.  6-8 different gymkhana games, depending on the show.  A typical offering would be Pole Bending, Barrels, Texas Rollback, Single Pole, Handy Horse, and Flags.

So, we’ve established that POAs are versatile and have endurance.  Is it any wonder Mimi came into distance riding with a good base on her?  POAs have also shown their mettle in just about any other equine sport that’s offered, including distance riding!

But what’s so amazing about the POAs is their attitude.  They are not your average snotty-brat of a pony.  The sweetest and most willing equine I’ve ever had the priviledge of knowing and riding was a POA…CSA’s Snapdragon — “Snappy” — was the first POA I rode and showed.  He was an absolute gem, and in all of my years around him, I never knew anyone that fell off of him.  He was the one that taught me how to love horses and riding again, and gave this very scared little girl back her courage and showed me how to have fun on horseback.

And 98% of the POAs I’ve known have shown at least some degree of that sweetness and willingness.  If it says anything, I would consider another POA as my next endurance horse if I found one with the right confirmation.  That’s the trickiest part — current trends have been producing big, muscular, Quarter Horse-inpsired type of POAs…not suitable for endurance.  But POA registry is open book, meaning POAs can be crossed with other breeds, and as long as they have the marking characteristics and meet the height requirements, they qualify for registration.  Which is how Mimi is actually half Quarter Horse, and still registered POA.  Every so often, a half-Arab POA shows up…that might be a good endurance cross!

Sorry for the complete lack of pictures…all of my show pictures are old school, menaing film camera.  Meaning I still have to scan them into my computer in order to do anything with them.  And seven years of showing is a lot of pictures.

A Pony Most Helpful

Mimi has a new trick.  She’s decided that she enjoys “helping” me during the whole process involved with riding.  In the last couple of weeks, she has displayed two new methods of helping.

Two weeks ago, she “helped” me put away her Renegades.  Normally when I remove her boots, I toss them in the general direction of the dressing room door where I hang them after cleaning them up a bit.  On this particular day, I was feeling a bit lazy, and instead of tossing the boot to the door, I just dropped it in front of Mimi.  The top velcro captivator strap was still undone, so she grabbed the loose end, picked it up, and proceeded to toss it over to the door…exactly the way she had watched me do the same.

She looked very pleased with herself, even glancing over at me to see my reaction (jaw dropped, wondering where she came up with that).  She’s always been a very oral pony…destructive when she was younger, but entertaining now.

This past weekend, she put her oral fixation to good use.  I had put her halter on, and was standing at her stall gate, waiting for Dad and Beamer to be ready.  Mimi was kind of impatient, poking at me, then poking at her gate, wanting to go.  Finally, she got fed up and took the leadrope from where it was draped over my arm, picked it up with her lips, and walked over to her gate.  I suspect if I had opened the gate, she would have gone over and jumped in the trailer on her own volition.

Now I’m kind of curious as to what the following weeks will bring.  Mimi, will you carry the crew box for me at rides?

Wickenburg: one and a half weeks and counting.  The already done list:

  • Entries sent in
  • ponies hooves are diligently rasped and should only need light tough-ups between then and now
  • trailer is scrubbed out and waiting for fresh shavings
  • AERC membership renewed
  • new splint boots ordered 
  • new helmet acquired 
  • Woolback pad vigorously brushed, fluffed, and field tested to determine suitability as a secondary pad.  Verdict: Success!  Three rides in a row, 40 cumulative miles, great contact marks and sweat patterns.  I love when something I already have around the house ends up working.
  • new Yankz! laces on both pairs of riding shoes

I love the first ride of the season, and the feeling of anticipation leading up to a new year and fresh season.  Y’know, the time when you say, “This is the year I’ll do x.”  And whether or not x happens, the potential for it is part of the excitement of starting a new season.