Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year from The 3 Mustang Mares.

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year from The 3 Mustang Mares.

There hasn't been much going on aside from day to day things- if that.  The rain has reduced us to one arena for the last several weeks.  While Emmy and Ehawee are pretty good about lounging on a line, Opal not so much.  In a round pen she is great, in the big arena...well...when she decides to go another way, its hard to argue with 1,100 pounds.  I'll be working on that with her once we have the rest of our arenas open, its just not something I feel is safe to work on while others are using the arena as well.  

We are looking at a wet winter this year.  Thank goodness for covered arenas,  I am able to get them out.  Also, I'm thankful for a stall for my girls to get out of the weather in and good footing in their corrals.  They might not be dry yet, but they aren't fetlock deep in muck.

 Happy to be able to kick up her heels.

 We wish you a wonderful and warm holiday season and a great start to a new year.  See you in 2015!

 From Emmy, Ehawee, and Opal.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Two back to back shots.

Alright everyone, I am so late at posting this.  I got swamped in trying to get ready for my family trip that I ran out of time to write this down.  Plus, the night before I left, my darling Niece fell asleep in my office for the night before I could get my laptop.  Oh well.

Opal has been getting bored standing at the target.  She's a bit too smart also...waiting to walk away from the target until I have taken aim sometimes.  I figured it was time to start moving.  The Owners of the barn allowed me to set up a target away from the arenas and barn so I could shoot with minimal risk of injuring someone else.

I acquired 2 bales of straw at at the suggestion of one of the Owners, wrapped it up in plastic bags for the winter to help preserve the bale.  I took big lawn bags and hay twine to secure the bags.  I even gave myself a mark to aim at.

New targets.

I began by walking Opal up to, around and by the targets, letting her explore them.  Next I shot at the targets while on the ground, then while walking her in hand so she could get the idea while moving.  After she seemed fine with that, I mounted her and shot the targets standing, then asked her to walk.

Target introduction.

Walking in hand and shooting.

Riding and shooting.

We did have one bump in the road.  The wind kicked up and caused the plastic bags to flap, she crow hopped/spooked and in an effort to grab the reins and get her head up, i hit the dirt.  I am ok, bruised a bit, but ok.  Once I figured out what caused her to spook, we lounged by the flappy plastic until she calmed down enough to think, then I tucked the loose ends in and went back to square one, shooting at a stand still.  We eventually were able to walk and shoot again that day.  

Since then I have been walking Opal in hand shooting at the new targets to get her accustom to the new set up.  She also has 2 flappy trash bags living full time in her stall, she's dealing with them a bit better each day.  She has no problem eating in there with them, but every now and then the wind gets them and she gets wide eyed.  

With all of this in mind, I often have to remind myself, and others, that she is just now turning 5 and I've only had her 18 months next month.  Pretty dang impressive if you ask me.  We both are really enjoying this adventure.

We have also finished up the Fall Horsemanship Challenge.  It's been a fun one that gave me a push to do something new.  Who knew it would lead me to my new passion/obsession.  I shoot 4 days a week mounted or on foot now.  

Until next time! 

Kip's Horsemanship Throwdown Progress - COMPLETE!
25 rides
31 hours 40 minutes total

Goals Completed



Do a Job

Preformance Piece - Mounted Archery

Friday, October 31, 2014

Mounted Archery

  Mounted Archery

Opal standing after the costume class.
When I started the challenge and decided my performance piece was going to be Mounted Archery, I had no idea I would end up getting so hooked in it.  Hooked hard.  I recently got my bow and was able to start introducing it to Opal.  I posted a picture on one of my Facebook group pages a few weeks ago and I've had several people ask how I got started with this whole archery adventure.  While I am still very VERY new to it all, I will share what i have learned and done so far.

Since I had not shot a bow since I was in girl scout camp when I was like 12, I wanted to start with a beginning archery class.  The Bass Pro in Manteeca near us has a free class offered a few times a month.  During the class we went over basic form, technique, and left the class knowing what pound bow we were best suited for as well as any additional gear we would need.  (Like an arm guard for me) If you have never shot before, I would deffinetly recommend taking a beginning class.

Preparing a horse for mounted archery
Our barn owners were kind enough to shoot a few arrows for me and Opal before I took the class.  First we started with shooting in front of you, then next to her, and finally off a mounting block over her back.  Opal was non-reactive to this, which let me know I could proceed in the buying of gear. 

Once I got my gear I started in the tack.  We had a costume class for our barn Halloween Play Day, so I went as an Archer.  It was the first time I had ridden Opal with the bow, but it let her get use to me drawing and moving the bow around as we moved.  I did this without arrows.

 Carrying the bow for the costume class.

The next day I had a halter and lead rope under the bridle so my friend, Carol Douglass, could hold the lead rope while I shot.  This was just a precaution in case Opal decided to walk off or spook.  Since Opal didn't mind arrows flying in the air, the next 2 days I did not have her held.   Right now we are just shooting at a stand still, once my form/aim/groupings become more consistent we will begin moving.  At my barn we have a 4-5 stack of straw with salad plate sized targets painted on the bales.

Mounted archery competition 

From what I have researched, I have learned a few things.  Please keep in mind, I've spent less than a month reading up on this and I am still learning, but here's what I have found.
In competition traditional bows are allowed.  No compound or mechanical triggers/releases are allowed.  Neither are bows with shelves.  Recurve, Asian (Hungarian/Mongolian/Horse), Long Bows seem to be the main stream.  Also a draw weight between 30-40 pounds seems to be what the average is for competition.
You will notice my Monarch Recurve Bow has a shelf, so it will not be permitted in competition.  My bow is also a 20 pound draw, I was able to draw a 30 pound, but my form suffered rapidly from the weight, so the lower draw allows me to shoot more arrows with more accuracy.  My bow was a fairly inexpensive one and is strictly for me to gain the basic skills of archery.  Eventually I will get a more appropriate bow, but since they cost a lot more and usually come at a higher draw strength, the bow I have is good for what I am using it for.

Currently my gear list includes the following
Monarch Recurve Bow
12 Easton Genesis arrows 
Bow String wax
Case for Bow
Hip Quiver for Arrows
Arrow Tube for Storage
Arm Guard
Bow Stringer 

Useful Links 
Below are some of the links I have used to read up on mounted archery.  Several I found on Pinterest.
  • The Mounted Archery Association of the Americas (lists 'local' places where people are practicing mounted archery or places to do lessons, as well as competitions)  http://mountedarchery.org
The next two links were given to me at Bass Pro as places who sell bows and have good reputations.
I have spent the last couple weeks reading a lot.  Like I said, I got hooked on this hard.  If there's something I didn't cover, or you have a question, please feel free to ask.  Its a lot of information to take in and sort out.

Carolynn and Opal practicing.

Kip's Horsemanship Throwdown Progress

18 rides
27 hours total

Goals Completed



Do a Job

Preformance Piece - Mounted Archery: in progress

Emerald and her Owner


Ribbons Emmy and Carol won from the Halloween Play Day.
Last week Emmy's owner, Carol Douglass, came up to spend some time with Emerald.  IT was a busy busy weekend at the barn, and we took full advantage of it.
Saturday was our Halloween Play Day at the barn.  Carol and Emmy did a couple of classes in hand with Emmy.  
Sunday was our Bomb proofing clinic.  We had several obstacles set up for the horses to work on.  Once again, Carol and Emmy did them in hand.  They both worked through them together, building a stronger connection with every activity they did.  
 Bomb proofing clinic.
By the end of the week their connection had become very soft and they worked together easily.  It was a very big week of events.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Challenge Update

Challenge Update 

Trail Challenge competed.

Time has flown by.  I just realized a lot has gone on since my last post a few weeks ago.  I need yo get back into the habit of sitting down at least once a week and doing these updates.

Opal and I were invited out for a nice fall trail ride a few weeks ago with a few other riders form the barn.  Aside form Opal deciding she didn't want to finish going up the hill and would rather side pass downhill, she was a champ.  Not exactly sure what her deal was other than the previous horses protested at a small hole in the trail, and by hole I mean a dip, not a gopher or rabbit hole.  When we came across a group of Boy Scouts out for a nature hike, Opal decided she wanted go with the kids than with her buddies, but listened to me leg when I said no.

 On the trail with barn friends.

At the end of the trail we practiced loading with all 3 horses into a 2 horse straight load trailer.  I am always looking to practice in different trailers.  Having broken down twice on the 10 freeway in Southern California and having to unload horses out of your rig and into another while traffic is speeding by isn't fun.  Even less fun when your horse won't go into any trailer but theirs.   PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE!  The rig that rescues you might not be what your horse is accustomed to.

 Checking out the 2 horse trailer after the trail ride.  Opal got a bath right after we practiced.
As far as mounted archery is going, my class is tomorrow.   By the end I will have an idea of what gear I will need and what sizes/weights work best.  In the meantime Opal and I have been working on moving off my leg.  I also was able to find a lighter weight (10 pounds+ lighter) western saddle.  It fits us both well and with the weight of the saddle lightened, that puts less stress on her spine.  

The mares have also been introduced to being turned out with Emerald.  First just Emerald and Ehawee since they are buddies.  After a few laps around at a canter with Emerald wanting to lead and be boss, Ehawee finally let her.  Opal and Emerald, on the other hand, just sniffed each other and decided to eat the leaves together.  When all 3 got turned out together, they ran a few laps, then went to rolling and grazing on leaves.  We have a play day at the end of the month and a bomb proofing clinic as well.  I have done a few bomb proofing tasks with my horses in preparation for the clinic.  The end of this month is going to be very busy.  I will try to update more frequently on it  :)

Kip's Horsemanship Throwdown Progress
7 rides
15 hours total
Goals Completed
Do a Job (new trick, bow.  Load in new trailers)
Trail (see pics above)


Sunday, September 21, 2014

A new challenge leads to a new adventure

A new challenge leads to a new adventure
Surely you have something for me, a small treat perhaps?

Last week I joined another Horsemanship challenge group hosted by some of the same people who did ran the Winter Horsemanship Challenge Opal and I participated in earlier this year.  This one is set up slightly different and includes the following goals:

1) 25 rides of any length.  If riding twice in one day, there must be a 2 hour break between rides.

2) Achieve 25 hours spent working with your horse.

Work on the following:

1) Flatwork
2) Trails
3) Jumps (baby cross rails count)

4) Do a Job (learning to Bow)

5) Performance Piece on something outside your comfort zone.

Opal and I have had a couple rides, hit the trail soon, have 'jumped' a baby jump, and work on flatwork frequently.

As for the 'out of my comfort zone' I really struggled to figure out what to do here since I really don't have an outside my comfort zone with horses.  I've done a lot in my riding career, and have a lot more I can still learn, but as for something that makes me 'uncomfortable', well, I just don't feel that way around horses.  (Not to be mistaken for being careful, safe, and educated around horses)

After talking with a few people and thinking it over, I decided to see if Opal and I could take a stab at something I've always wanted to try, but have little to no knowledge on.  Mounted Archery.  

Yep, you read that right.  I have not shot a bow since Girl Scout Camp at age, oh, 11 or so.  Before I go and spend money on a bow and taking classes, practicing, ect, I needed to make sure Opal was on board with this idea.

I first started by throwing crops/whips out in front of her while I was standing next to her.  Piece of cake, no reaction.  

Next our barn owner Tami offered to fire off a few arrows at out target while I held Opal to see how she would do.  We started out in front of Opal, then next to, and finally over her back.  You can see Opal's "Big Reaction" here in this short video.

Needless to say this is all very encouraging.  I'll be attending a beginning archery class in a few weeks, until then, Opal and I will be working on moving off my legs and flexion while riding.

Ehawee is being ridden not only by my family, but by a younger student as well.  She is a patient schooling horse and is very forgiving to her students, but still makes them work for it.  She is also being schooled with the side reins and working on cavaletties when I ride her.

Kip's Horsemanship Throwdown Progress
2 rides
4.5 hours total

Goals Completed
Do a Job (new trick, bow)

Visiting with Opal

Emmy is progressing nicely in her training.  She worked with the buoys today again, and sported her new bridle and bit her Mommy sent her.  We are still a ways away from riding, but she is being introduced to the tack now to wear it while she works to get use to being tacked up.  She plays with the rollers on her bit a lot right now, but likes her bit overall.  She also let me trim her a bridle path so her bridle will sit nicely behind her ears.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Autumn? Fall? Winter is coming.....

Autumn?  Fall?  Winter is coming.....
Hey kid, got any treats in there?

The summer sun is slowly setting earlier and earlier and coming up later and later.  The days grow shorter and my girl's coats are starting to fluff up.  Winter is coming.......NOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Ok, sorry for the protest, but I'm a summer girl, the warm sun never bothered me anyways.

The last couple weeks have been fun.  My Sister and my Niece were in town and my Sister jumped Ehawee over a fence.  It was Ehawee's first jump while carrying a rider.  Sometimes a horse shows talent on the ground, but when you get in the tack, they decide its not their thing, Ehawee did great though, very willing.  She needs a lot of flat work and exercises over poles and cavaletties to help get her tuned up.

Opal is Opal.  Goes with the flow, doesn't protest much...unless I make her wait to eat her lunch, then shes convinced she's going to starve and someone else will get her food....this too shall pass in time.

I was able to join Tami and her mustang Ranger for a ride through the open field next to the barn, Opal was a champ until she saw the laundry on the line in someones back yard flapping in the wind...there's worse things she could spook at I suppose :)

 Out in the field with Tami and Ranger.

Sunday is normally "Daddy Day" for my daughter.  They get some one on one time together, and I get a few hours at the barn to ride, clean like mad, and forget about Mickey Mouse, Frozen (which I love), and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood for a few hours.  I can spend time lounging and riding at my own pace, sit and eat a meal.

 Opal and Ehawee using elastic Side Reins.

This Sunday he took me up on the offer to come out and work with the horses.  He's been out one other time since the move and has wanted to learn more about them and get in some riding....partially because he wants to understand what I'm talking about, and partly to understand what his Boss is talking about.  Today he had his first ride since we did the Grand Canyon Mule ride on our Honeymoon nearly 10 years ago.  

He got to ride Ehawee, who was a bit curious about what all was going on and who was on her, but she plowed right along.  She even gave our Daughter a ride.  I got to ride Opal while he rode Ehawee.  Opal wasn't too thrilled with not being able to go right over to her buddy and be social....sorry mare, can't just mindlessly follow the horse in front of you and ignore me aids.  Both mares did well today and got a bath before getting to go home for the day.

Emerald has had a lot done with her the past few weeks and is making great progress.  While I prefer to "pet" my horses with long strokes, the world likes to "pat" them.  This means I have to get my horses use to both so they don't jump out of their skin when some City Slicker wants to pet my horse and pats them like a dog or cat.  Emerald is finally getting use to both.  She lets me fly spray her at liberty in her corral and her ground manners have improved daily.  She got introduced to 3 new things over the last few weeks. 

1) The Big Green Horse Ball

Emmy is very playful and mouthy, but not in a "I'm going to bite you" kind of way, she just likes mouthing on her water tub and hoses.  I decided to introduce her to the big green ball and let her go to town.  Since she LOVES treats, I simply put the ball between us while holding a cookie out for her.  After a couple of round of ring around the green ball, she grabbed it with her teeth and moved it.  I used my clicker and gave her a treat and went back to my starting position.  By the time 15 minutes had gone by, she was kicking it around and away to get a treat as well as biting it.  I left the round pen to let her explore on her own.  The "3 amigos" in the pasture next to the round pen were not too sure of this green thing....and Emmy caught on to that and moved it closer and closer to them, causing them to become alert and even snort.  Mares!

2) Saddle Pad

While I am in no real hurry to sit on Emmy and ride yet since she's still growing, I can introduce her to tack, gear, and get her ready now for when she is ready for a rider.  I took my blue flame patterned saddle pad and hung it up for her to smell and see.  It's one of my daily pads so the scent of her buddy Ehawee was on it and helped make it not so scary.  Next I let it touch her face, them moved it down her neck and onto her back.  Emmy only looked at it to see what it was doing, not once was she tense or scared.

3) Boat Fenders (Buoy)

I had to explain to 3 staff members at West Coast Marine that I wouldn't be using these on a boat, rather on a horse, so I wouldn't need to water vessel rescue membership (think AAA but for boats)  That's one thing I love about my job, making people rethink things, methods, and how to see something a little differently.  Especially non-horse people.  

This idea was mentioned to me by one of my Wild Horse Mentors, Willis Lamm.  It's a boarder line genius idea.  Here's the link to his website talking all about the Buoy's.


The basic idea is this.  When riding a horse the first few times, sometimes our leg touching their sides can cause them to freak out, especially if you have a very sensitive horse.  Taking a Buoy and attaching to a surcingle or saddle while you move the horse can aid in that.  The Buoy is roughly the same length as my lower leg, and as the horse moves, it moves.  They swing, they sway, they bounce around, and they touch the horse while the horse moves.

Emmy had a short introduction to these with them just sitting over her back and walking around in hand or in a small circle.  She wasn't phased one bit.  Next time she will be wearing them with a surcingle.