Picking up the New Pony

June 8, 2020

A few weeks ago I started putting more effort into the search for a new pony. One of my friends, Stacey, kindly posted on my behalf in a draft group and she sent me a few ponies that fit my interest. One of them really caught my eye and just sounded perfect. He was a little younger than my usual prospect but that youth also would give me a new adventure into horses. So I bit.

I spoke to the owner, Bryttany, and everything just sounded more and more fitting. Her pony Dex, turned 2 in February, and is a Gypsy Varner Haflinger cross. He fit my very specific height requirements, and my preference for a gelding. And, his photos showed a colorful paint.

I’ve wanted a Gypsy cross but always thought of them as my dream pony. Generally ones under saddle and ready to roll are out of my budget. And I specifically wanted a Gypsy cross vs a full Gypsy, so I would get some of the hair, but not all of the hair.

Bryttany has started Dex in harness, and doing ground work exercises. She sent me plenty of videos and photos and told me about his level head and agreeable personality.

This is a pony I could not pass up. So I made signed a contract, put down a deposit and made arrangements to go get him the following weekend. I was also super lucky that my good friend Jenny offered to make the trip with me to Warsaw, New York, which is pretty close to Buffalo and about 7 hours each way.

We headed out Friday at lunch time and stayed in a hotel in Bath, about an hour shy of our destination. We had a good drive up and enjoyed each other’s company. Traveling during Covid is a little interesting and NY totally let you know that they are taking it seriously. I think we passed close to twenty digital signs in the first twenty miles in the state telling us to cover our faces, stay gone stay safe, and NY strong. We were also the only people in the hotel which boasted comfy clean beds and a friendly staff who recommended pizza delivery as the only option outside of fast food drive through.

Saturday morning we were up and made the final stretch to Bryttany’s lovely farm. There was a cool horse made out of horse shoes right where we parked and a variety of lovely horses. Bryttany showed us to Dex who was sharing a stall with his younger, and matching brother, who was laying down for a rest. Dex appeared exactly as she described and walked directly on the trailer like a professional.

When Jenny and I made our first stop we realized we had not even gotten a photo of him so we attempted to catch one through the trailer. Dex was chillin, munching, and not bothered at all. On we went and he was calm and quiet the whole ride home.

When I did make it back home he backed off the trailer perfectly and I put him out in my big field and let him wonder around and relax a little. Simon was in the wooded paddock have a melt down, and after a while I brought Simon over for them to get aquatinted.

It was a mostly uneventful meeting and Simon seems very enamored with him. Dex took it all in strider and let Simon boss him around. Later that night after dark a neighbor shot off fireworks so I went back out to make sure they were ok. Simon generally is not bothered by fireworks and Dex did not appear to be either.

The First Week With Poe: Wednesday

June 22, 2013

Tuesday was a washout, but I was also busy doing bridesmaid duties for my friend’s wedding next weekend, so I did not spend much time playing pony. I did notice there is a bit of a power struggle between Poe and Simon. Both seem to make faces at the other and both seem to respect those faces. For now Linus is still hanging tight with Simon, but clearly defers to Poe as well. I suspect that eventually Poe will take over the lead role.

Wednesday I was happy to see Simon and Poe being buddy buddy.  Sadly this means poor Linus is being shunned, and has a few fresh bite marks on him.  I was told that Simon and Poe were grooming each other throughout the day, swatting flies and getting along great like two best friends.   So that’s a success.


Linus and Simon both had a nice dirt coat on, but Poe was pretty clean, and just needed a light brushing off.  I did rasp his front hooves down a little.  Just rounding out the toe some to hold him over until the ferrier comes out.  I plan to tackle his back hooves on Thursday.  He stood politely and snuffled my hair when I was bent over.


I have a bridle more sorted out for him with a simple snaffle baucher on it.  This seemed to work, although I might need to pick up a smaller size, or at least add bit guards to square it up in his mouth a little.


We started our ride off with a very brief lunge, and some basic w/t/c. He does have an odd feeling canter, but it looks normal from the ground.  Next we pushed into some games skills, starting with a few trots and canters through bending and then switching to mug shuffle.  We played through a few rounds of 2 flag, and practiced some bottle picks and places.  Next I introduced litter.  I scooped one up on the end of the stick, walked around with it, and then dumped it back on the ground.  Poe was cool with it.  So I scooped it, rode around, rattling it a lot, and then dropped it a few more times at a walk and trot.


Then we moved onto ball and cone.  I pulled him up to place the ball and when I leaned over, he dropped his head to the grass.  I yanked him up and he instantly popped his shoulder and turned to move towards the barn.  I moved him back into line with a firm no, and we went back to work.  Although it was no big deal for me, I can totally see how this behavior would have been too much for a small rider. Just very typical pony.


The big learning curve right now is neck reining.  Which is very easy to put on over time and I am already working diligently on that throughout all our riding.  The general point is to neck rein and direct rein at the same time.  I am also using my leg pressure to reinforce this, and work on very sharp turns.   Since he does not know the skills yet, and I am still a little unsure of him, and him of me, when I lean over for something, I lose a lot of my steering ability.  And since he is still not sure what I am doing, he is unable ot auto correct his course on his own. But that is just fine.


Right now I am sort of crash coursing him through the equipment, and trying to get a feel for him and give him a feel for games. I am not so much running through races, as getting him used to the equipment, skills and techniques that are required of a games pony.  So, standing while a rider leans over, or reaches, moving past things while a rider performs picks and pulls, loud clanging noises, and things flashing around behind his head, fun stuff like that.  I will begin doing some flat work specifically focused on neck reining and tight turns soon.  And I will also be piecing together the games and start really working on him learning them as well.


For now, I would like to have him ready to go out and ride at an easy w/t in the green division this coming Sunday.  I am not usually able to make these small events that offer a training pony division, and there just happens to be one this Sunday that I can attend.  For him, as with a lot of the green ponies, the goal of these events is just to get off the farm, to be around other ponies, and to get a feel for the set up and layout of ring operations.  For him specifically, it will be other ponies moving back and forth past him, and hopefully learning about handoffs.  He will also get to take part in race starts, and the general format of, up and back.  I plan to keep it at mostly a walk/trot.  There is no need to acknowledge the racing aspect at this time.


We finished our ride Wednesday with a quick run back through each skill and then headed up for some cookies and a quick shower for Poe.


I find it endearing that Poe is an eager cookie hound.  Most ponies I have gotten in the past have been unaware of treats for ponies, but Poe was clearly loved and rewarded in this way.  When I untack him he looks at me like, ‘ok, where’s my cookie?’


I also noticed during feed time last night, that Poe has taken the lead.  Simon seems happy with this, so all is good.

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Meet Poe

       June 19, 2013

This past Sunday my husband and I drove down to Floyd and picked up a pony.  He was a bit too smart, and had learned to take advantage of small riders in an ornery pony way.  But was said to be handy and sweet.  He also already had the basic ground requirements like loading, tying, leading, washing, clipping, etc.  He sounded like a games pony prospect and he fit my other criteria.  So I decided to roll the dice.

When we got there he was a little excited, but loaded right up into the trailer without hesitation.  Although he did start stomping around, so we grabbed his coggins, shook hands and said thank you to his very kind (now previous) owners, then took off on the three hour drive home.

When we got back to the barn, we put Simon and Linus out into the big field and brought Poe, the new pony, into the barn yard and let him loose. Simon and Linus spent a good 15 minutes, running, bucking, farting and all out showing off.  Simon would slide up to the fence between him and an interested Poe, and start digging up the ground and arching his neck, before flashing his tail and taking off across the field again.

Once this all settled down I tacked Poe up.  It looks like Simon’s saddle will fit him, and I just stuck Linus’s bridle on for the ride since it had a simple D ring snaffle on it and is easy to adjust.  Rich went with me and we took Poe down to the riding field where I started off lunging him.  He did great, and clearly knows this drill.  Although I am not sure what his woe cue is, and it took a bit to get him to break down from a solid steady trot.  Next I climbed on, and noted that he stood pretty patiently while I did so.  Then I hacked in a circle around Rich in lunge fashion.  Poe was great.  Very responsive, he pulled up on the numerous “woes” I sprinkled into the hack, and had a supple mouth.

Next I moved out and trotted around the riding area, changing directions repeatedly, and spent some time shifting my weight and leaning around.  And then I trotted through bending.  Poe was interested and curious why I was shifting my weight, but never attempted to scoot under or away from me.  After 2 trots through bending I shuffled some mugs at a trot and took note that he did not so much as flick an ear when I rattled the mugs and loudly clanked them onto the poles.

My final trial for the day was with flag.  I rode up to the cone and pulled one flag and flipped it up and over the pommel of my saddle.  Poe reacted by scrunching up some.  This is very common, as flags being whipped around behind a pony’s head and next to his face can be reminiscent of a whip.  Even for a pony that has no whip fear, it can still be disconcerting.  Poe did not try to dart off or freeze up, which can be a common reaction, but simple scrunched and went on extra alert.  I had Rich stand near the cone and I trotted past it picking another flag, with less movement, and then Rich rewarded him with a treat, while I patted his neck and told him “good boy”.  Next I trotted back and forth past the cone, picking and placing the same flag back and forth, making more and more elaborate gestures with it.  Poe was not bothered.

Figuring that was a good start, we ended on a great note, and untacked.  Poe stood politely to be hosed down, and then fly sprayed up.  I stuck one of Simon’s old (slightly large) fly masks on him, and showed him the hay in the barn yard and let him loose.  Rich and I watched him wonder around, take a short roll and investigate for a bit, and then we gave everyone their tiny dinners before leaving them all to their own devices for the night.

The following morning, I opened the gate from the barn yard to the big field, allowing the ponies to intermingle.  Knowing that Simon needed to come off the grass that afternoon, and they would all be in the barn yard together, I wanted to allow them to sort some stuff out on their own while they had a lot of space to work with.  Poe cautiously slipped out past the other boys.  Simon was only interested in what I was doing, and Linus was only interested in what Simon was doing.  It was very anti-climactic.  After a bit I decided all was ok, and headed out to work.

So far I really like Poe.  Poe being short for Napoleon.  He is an unregistered POA, black blanket app.  He has the thin mane and tail and pink nose, which is typical of the breed.  I was told he is 13.2h but I think he might be an inch shorter than that.  Although I need to measure him to be sure.  He does seem a tad shorter than Simon who is 13.2 ½, but Poe is also shorter length wise, with a more compact build.  Regardless of height, I felt comfortable riding him, and like I had enough pony under me, but would still be able to reach things.  I am looking forward to seeing how quickly he takes to games, and also installing some power steering (ie, neck reining) and getting to know him better.

Updates will be forth coming!

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Scary – meeting the other boys through the fence.


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We started off on the lunge line.


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Next we walked and trotted around the lunge area.


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We went through bending!


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And we shuffled some mugs.





Legacy Mustang Preservation

March 2, 2013

On Saturday, Carol Ann and I went to the Legacy Mustang Preservation located in Louisa, Virginia.  I met Jamie, one of the operators of this project, at the PA Horse World Expo.  We discussed me adopting a pony, and had chatted on and off through email since.  She had suggested I come out and meet some of the current residence and let her get a better feel for me and my needs.  


On Saturdays they are open to the public and usually do informative demos about gentling and training.  This Saturday turned out to be a special one, because they were introducing a new member of the herd, Nate.  His mom, Katie, was bred in the wild, and had given birth to him during the week. 
There was also a documentary crew on site, getting shots of this few day old foal. 


Carol Ann and I met some of the herd that had recently arrived from Wyoming, and watched little Nate stretch his legs with the other guests.  After the guests left, Jamie sent us on a Mule ride (the motorized Mule, not the furry one) with Katherine, to see some of the other horses on this giant estate.  We pointed out ponies we thought had the right build for a games pony, and enjoyed the beauty of the facility.  We both liked a pony named Scout, and we also both pointed out Jamie’s special guy, Willy. 


It was a fun adventure, that has games pony potential.  We learned a bit more about Mustangs and some of the trials they go through between the wild and domestication and why some of them have a second brand consisting of numbers on their rumps. 


It was an interesting day and I’ll be keeping in touch to see what might work out for the LMP and myself. 


me riding in the back of the Mule


Nate and momma


Carol Ann in the Mule




The Cooper Project – Pony on Trial

March 4, 2013

The pony search was on hold for a while.  I needed a break.  But spring is coming and I need to get geared up with a new ride. So the hunt was turned back on!

My friend Lindsey, who found Milli, had sent me a link to another pony, Copper, a few months earlier.  But between the other ponies I was looking at, and connecting with his owner, he just sort of got shuffled to the side at the time.  That is until a few weeks ago when his owner contacted me to let me know he was still available.  So we made arrangements for Lindsey to go do a “pre-purchase” check on him.

That was Friday.  She called me and had good things to say about him.  She confirmed what his owner had told me about him, and that she could see games pony written all over him.  So yesterday, I hooked up the trailer and headed out to give him a look-see.

On the way I scooped up Lindsey and we arrived at the farm in the freezing cold to see Copper.  Adorable, and exactly as described, we put my saddle on him, and took him out into the blustery, and wind raddled out door ring.  His owner rode him first and we discussed how he was forward but under control and moved out with some pep in his step.  We tried out some voice commands, which he responded to surprisingly well and we decided to take him home.

He has been out of work and stalled most of the winter, so he has no top line, and needs to be built up and to get some daily one on one attention.  We measured him at 13h, although he has some withers, and is very compact and short backed. Lindsey and I both like him but I am concerned he will be too small for me.  So we decided since I am the on that needs a pony, I brought him home and am going to give him an honest try and see what I think.  After a month, if I feel he is not the right pony for me, I’ll hand him over to Lindsey.

So we put him in the trailer, and headed out.

We promptly renamed him Mini Cooper.

This is Copper's for sale photo

This is Copper’s for sale photo

His head looks really big in this photo.  It is not.

His head looks really big in this photo. It is not.



Of course we stopped for lunch on the way home.

Of course we stopped for lunch on the way home.

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