Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Lessons Begin!

Our spring lesson schedule began this past weekend (thus the rush to get the trenching filled, tack room organized, etc). We are listed in the Loveland Rec Center class guide, and had hoped that we'd fill several classes through them. Instead we ended up with a total of 2 from the rec center, 1 from fliers we distributed at christmas, 2 from personal reference from Ginger's daughter, and 3 returning students - over 2 kids classes and 1 adult class.

Saturday we finished putting the tack room together - nothing like being just in time, after all - and went out to bring all the horses into the barn. We haven't had all the horse in the barn a whole lot, so this always causes excitement. At least we had designated stalls for each horse and labeled them - so we can stop just throwing them anywhere. The consistency helps a lot with making them more comfortable. Anyways, our first 3 students arrived. They were kids between 8 and 12. And very excited to be starting riding lessons, looking at all the horses, and the horses were excited to be locked in their stalls... So - it felt pretty chaotic for awhile.

This was Chaco's first time in an indoor only stall, so he probably had the most reason to be nervous. He did fine - until Rio started kicking the heck out of his stall door. BAM BAM BAM! So then Chaco decided to give it a try. All while Ginger was trying to teach her kids how to groom and pay attention to their horses - we had these two makeing a heck of a racket in the barn. Dave and I had to stand guard with dressage whips to poke them when they kept kicking.
Finally we got the three of them tacked up and mounted. Jessica, Ginger's daughter, and I were walkers to stick with the horses just because these were beginner beginners. And, our horses haven't been doing the lesson thing much, so they were interested in moving out! But the lesson went great - the kids were absolutely thrilled. And the terrible twosome in the barn quieted down as well. As soon as the students were all gone we put the horses back out in pasture - a welcome relief.

Sunday we were set for an adult beginner class, and then a kids advanced beginner class immediately after. Since we only had 2 adult students, I invited a couple of my friends out to fill out the class so we had 5 riders. The plan was much like Saturday in that we'd bring the horses in 30 minutes before class and feed, then go from there. Well, trying to catch the horses at noon is nothing like catching them in the morning. We hadn't fed grain in the morning, but that didn't really mean they were all that convinved that grain at noon was the thing to do. We actually got them all in except for Shoshoni. While Ginger was getting things organized with her 5 riders Dave managed to trick Shoni into the welcome pen and then catch her.

We still need to put up more hitching posts, so trying to groom and tack up 5 horses at once was entertaining. And with beginners too - it still amuses me how much trouble I have in remembering what things about working with horses aren't just second nature. Most of it, actually. So we all end up chuckling alot as I assume people know what they are doing and they assume I'm trying to instruct them when I'm not. Ginger is the instructor, but Dave and I hang out to lend a hand.

The weather was threatening rain all day on Sunday, but fortunately held off until after our lessons. Never the less, chilly weather also tends to pep up the horses, so once again we were in the ring to help make sure all horses behaved themselves. They did fine. Not spectacularly, but fine. The students did great.



And the horses left in the barn were much quieter than the day before!

The next class are two kids who took lessons last fall, so they've graduated to Advanced Beginning. Ginger had things well under control so Dave and I took some time to hang with Brian, Andra and Lindy - a welcome change of pace.


The pic to the right was a different day -but Shadow is the ultimate Hanging Out type of horse!

Monday morning the farrier was coming out, so for breakfast Ginger and I brought them all in for a third day in a row - Shoni still needed extra encouragement, but the process was way improved from the other two times. We may get them all trained yet!

We didn't use Shadow in any of the lessons becuase his feet have been quite tender - even just walking around in pasture. It was good timing for the farrier to be out and she put shoes on him. Dave said the transformation was immediate! Even while getting one front shoe on he was squirming around on the other foot - but once his shoes were on he suddenly could just stand there with his weight evenly distributed. This was very welcome news. That night when we were feeding they were all down by the pond when we started calling them in. Shadow has always been more interested in feed than the others - course he has quite a bit a weight to put on. So he picked up and did a very active trot all the way across the pasture! we've never seen him move out like that before - he has a beautiful trot, and nary a tender step the whole way. He's turning out to be a real diamond in the rough.

I alluded in the previous entry that Rio hasn't quite been the star we'd expected him to be. He is pretty excitable - compared to how he acted at the sellers place. We first thought it was being moved to a new place, so gave him a week grace period. Then we rode him and he really wanted to run. So we removed him from all of his grain - he'd been getting just a token amount but we decided to stop it all together and gave him another week. Lindy did a great job riding him this weekend (see pic below), but she's a good rider and we gave her plenty of coaching to keep him calm. We're going to have to work a lot more with him before we can throw a beginner on him.

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