Product Review: Spiral Ethological Halter and Matching Leadrope

April 17, 2015

At the Virginia Horse Festival my eye caught on a rope halter with attached lead.  I like a rope halter for wearing under a bridle on trail rides, and grabbing a pony out of the field at home.  Since I have ponies that are already responsive and quiet to lead I like the thicker soft rope halters.  They just feel good in the hand.

I saw this halter hanging up at a vendors stand. Primarily a darker gray rope, with a small amount of pink on the nose and top of the lead to bright it up, it stood out.  They had a few other colors.  Black with some yellow, red and blue, but this one just struck me.  $16, what they heck, I made the purchase.

Since then I have used it a few times.  Once on a trail ride, and a few times to move ponies from field to field.

Last night I was moving ponies from field to field with it, and was moving Spike, the last of my three gelding herd, while opening the gate to deposit him he turned his head to look the other way.  The slight tug on the lead was hardly noticeable until it abruptly ended, with the lead in my hand and my pony unattached.  My husband’s dog choose that moment to zoom by at top speed and the pony, realizing he was free, took off after the dog.

This avalanched into Spike escalading across several hay and corn fields, across the road, and ended with him at the trotting along the neighbor’s horse fields making new friends.  I grabbed up a fresh lead and  went after him, adrenaline kicking as I imagined him running in front of a car on the road or getting a leg in the cattle guard.  He cantered up to me when I got close to him, and we walked him pleasantly with a happy ending.

Upon closer look the lead appears to just have been taped on and then wrapped lightly in the pink and gray thread.  This is certainly nothing that should be considered safe for equestrian use.  While the halter seems well made and sturdy, the lead is attached with no integrity!  The potential for this lead to pop off was extremely high and I was lucky I was at home and all ended well.

I spent a while today trying to find the company who puts out this particular halter and lead and have been unsuccessful. I found the same one on Amazon and on Ebay, but no manufacturer listed, just smaller vendors.  It is listed as a Spiral Ethological Halter and Matching Leadrope.

Buyer beware.

Mounted Self Defense

April 7, 2015

Yesterday I stumbled across an article on Horse Nation about self defense on horseback (click the blue to read it).    It had some good info including the safety basics; let someone know where you are going, your planned route, and when to expect you back and to bring a charged cell phone with you.  But it also included simple yet helpful instructions on what to do if you are grabbed by an assailant.

If someone grabs you, your saddle or reins you should move forward, “as violent and fast as possible into the attacker”.  I love the wording, but aside from excellent wording, it is also excellent advice.  Use your pony like a battering ram war horse and run that attacker down!

Next it instructs you to “Never pull backwards.”  which for most I think would be our first instinct.  But if you picture it in your head, if you back up, the attacked could pull you off using your horses momentum to their advantage.

It also states that when you are clear of the attacker, you should “ride hell for leather.” More wording that I love.  I think this would be the easy part, riding furiously yelling your head off the whole time. And of course it suggests you call 911 when you are safe.

The video attached to the article is a little over 11 minutes long, and is provided by mounted Rangers.  I pasted it from YouTube into this blog for your viewing ease.

I usually ride on my own, at home and in the National forest.  And I would love to attend a class like this on one of my ponies.


Trail Report – Old Man Run 1117 – Exploration Day 1

April 6, 2015

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On Sunday I checked out a new (to me) trail head off Little Dry River Road in Folks Run area.  Driving a few miles back on Little Dry River Rd, there is an “Entering National Forest” sign on the right hand side, and a little ways past that is a road on the right, Tom’s Cabin (or Camp) Road, I think.  It is well marked as a trail head for 1117 Old Man Run, or on the Forest Service Map, Old Road Hollow.  Just to make things easy.

I pulled in, drove just a few dozen yards, and turned around by backing my trailer up the first side fire road on the right, and then parked on the nice wide side, designed for parking.  I spent about 3 1/2 hours exploring around 14 miles of forest.

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I initially started out by taking the fire road to the right, 1117B, the one I backed into to turn around, and rode up it to the top.  There was a fo-fire road gate, closed. Just a few yards beyond this closed gate the road slit to the right and left, and to the right is a house.  I did not venture off onto private property.



I headed back down to my start, and decided to head up the main fire road, and through the open gate, which is just a few yards from the parking/turning around area.



Heading up “Old Man Run” is quite lovely.  There is a creek initially on the left that tinkles along pleasantly.  Not too far along is an unmarked turn to the right.  On the FS map it is 1117D, although there is no marker in the forest.  It crosses down and over a creek and then up a small incline to a split.  To the left is just a camp circle, straight ahead I did take a short ways but it was rather leaf litter deep and a bit inhibitive with fallen branches.  nothing too out of control though.  There was a large boulder in the middle to block vehicles.  I only went a few hundred yards up before deciding to venture else where.


Above is the road branching 1117D to the right.

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The trail straight ahead.  SANYO DIGITAL CAMERASANYO DIGITAL CAMERA SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAThe photo above shows the camp area to the left, the over grown trail straight ahead and you can just see the more dominant trail to the right.


Going right is the main way, clearly used and very well maintained.  A closed fire road gate was just a bit forward from this point.  I headed up it a ways and eventually came to a low fo-fire gate.  I was a bit confused and rode just a bend beyond this gate and realized it was private property with a home off in the distance.  I quickly turned around and headed back to the main fire road.  Should not have been confused.  It was a low red gate.  Red = edge of National Forest.

???????????????????? ???????????????????? SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA Back to the main road, I continued up.  The road continued to climb for the entire ride.  A bit of a ways up the road split.  Going left (straight) would put me onto 1117A, although I choose to head right, staying on the main 1117.  I rode for a few miles, twisting up and eventually bumping out to the power line towers.  There was a trail that led out under them and there was a moment of vertigo looking down and away.



In the above photo you can see the turn that I took the previous photo of the towers from.  If you look read close you can see the puddle that Daisy is standing in.  I turned around for that photo.

And in this photo below, you can see the second house in that clearing off in the distance at the end of 1117D.


I continued on and eventually came to a private gate to the right (a real gate, not a fire road bar).  Next to it was a large stone fire pit and a trail/ATV path directly to the left.  I realized I had lost my camera along the way and decided that it was time to call it.  So I turned around and headed down.  *I did find my camera intact just a little ways back.


Of all the nice big deep puddles, I only found one that had eggs.  I presume frog eggs.


And finally, just before reaching the trailer I noticed mushrooms growing on the top of the trail marker.


There is still a lot to be explored back at this trail head.  I am looking forward to the next time I can get out!

Trail Report – Turner Run to Slate Lick Loop – March 2015

April 3, 2015


*My tracker cut off and did not get my entire ride back in the below images. 


Last Sunday I went back to Turner Run and checked out a trail I have been wanting to follow.  It appears to have been a fire break, with burned forest only to the right hand side of it, and is wide and clear and rather new.  It is rocky and goes steeply down for a while.  It eventually starts to level out and then comes to an extremely vertical down at a creek bed.  The down is only about (if memory serves me – curse my waiting nearly a week to write this) two pony lengths long and ends on a flat creek side.




Once down the bank onto the creek side you have two options.

1. Cross the creek and follow the lovely trail to the right.  I did this first.

2. go left and cross the creek and then up the hill.  I did this a bit later and will add details later.


So going across the creek and heading left is a nice, well used trail.  It will split just a little ways up, and although going straight (a little to the left) is possible, this trail is older and mostly sucked with downed trees.  It was clearly more used angling to the right.  The trail crosses the creek a few times and eventually pulls up behind Slate Lick Lake.

There are a couple markers from out by the lake (in the open grass field that is to the left in the second and third photos below).




I turned around and headed back to OPTION 2!  Along the way back you can see a trail rather clearly on the other side of the creek. And again, I did investigate and it sucked.  But have at it if you want, I certainly didn’t explore all of it.

So back to the creek bed where you were faced with two options, left and right.  Heading right is a bit more of a blind start to a trail, although there are some pink marking tape up, you go into the creek, walking just a bit up it and then cross the it and go up the hill.  There is another lovely trail, with pink tape markets along it that follows the creek.

Both trails had plenty of foot and hoof traffic evidence.




I rode this for a while, going slightly up for the majority.  At a few points the trail was a bit hard to see when it crossed the creek but looking for a pink marker tape helped out.  Finally it did seem like it was petering out, and I was down in a deep creek ravine.  I think I must have missed the trail at that point, but I new we were super close to the fire road.  So I climbed Simon up a hill and we went a just a little farther up, and the fire road was just a head.  the final few lengths were extremely steep, and I would not attempt to ride down there, but it popped up onto the fire road.

At this point I remember from a previous ride seeing a pink flag tied to a fallen branch of the side of the road, but it didn’t appear to lead any where.  This is where it popped out.

I took the photo below while riding away.  If going up the fire road the flag is on the left right where the road bends.  If you look hard you can spot it in this photo.


It was a pretty cool trail, both down and up and it being a loop to the lake and back is pretty neat too.  I think my choice for a future ride will be to take the first trail on the left, the one I rode on a week or two ago that starts out the back of a graveled pull off on the left of the fire road, and then coming back up either of the two trails I did on this ride.

This particular ride was about 11 miles, and I did do a bit of wondering and exploring on the bottom.  It would probably be more like a 9-10 mile loop without any detours.


Virginia Horse Festival 2015

April 2, 2015

Last weekend was the Virginia Horse Festival at the Meadow Event Park in Doswell, Virginia and MGAA had a demo slot!

We have been enjoying excellent spring weather, but this day was cold and extremely windy. Way colder than I, or anyone else probably expected. It was so blustery that we were not expecting spectators to turn out. But luckily we were wrong and after the first few races our bleachers started to fill in! Yea!

MGAA turned out mixed division teams. Each one having an array of Masters, Intermediate and Fossil riders taking part. It was really neat to ride with riders from different divisions. I think it would be fun to do this again. My team had my usual teammate Zoe, myself, intermediate Rider Steph and Masters riders Mackenzie and Jordan. We played about 15 races, taking turns sitting out. For my riding I was pretty pleased. I was certainly slower than I needed to be but I went mistake free. I was also reminded of how much I love Poe. He was awesome. And dang he enjoyed himself. I was pleased with both of our performances.

No points were kept, and everyone just ran the races having a great time. Stacey did an outstanding job as chief Ref, and everyone played well. Kathy and Dave did tag team commentating, explaining what we were doing in each race and talking about the different riders and ponies.  Speaking for everyone there, I think we all had fun.  After our demo there were a lot of questions and interest was shown and our riders stuck around to talk to anyone interested. I think we might have left an impression on a few. I even found some photos taken by spectators and put up on Instagram last night. That was cool.

Photos: Shelby A

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