Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Project #2: The Small Spotted Gelding

His owner has already blogged yesterday's session here, so go read that and I'll give you my two cents as well.

The Small Spotted Gelding (hereafter SSG on this blog) is an interesting little creature - created by poor fencing and a mustang owner who did not seem to realize stallions have this urge to breed and will go through poor fencing to do so. The mare, or in this case, filly owner had no idea her filly was old enough to get pregnant - and honestly, I wouldn't have thought so either. Filly was a yearling. The full story is here. Anyway, the end result was Ditto - who is half mustang, half some-sort-of-PMU-spotted-drafty-critter. Ditto is now three and it's time for him to do something for a living. His owner has done a good job with groundwork so progressing to actual riding shouldn't be that hard...but since he's a 13.3 pony, she asked me to do it. The goal here is not any specific discipline - just to create a career for a cute, but grade, gelding so that he will have a good home for life.

Now, the SSG is far more my comfort zone in terms of size. However, he has approximately 40x the energy level of the VLC, and a wicked spook on him. I was watching him blast around the arena yesterday and thinking it is time to invest in a pair of schooling chaps to stick my ass to the saddle! Or what are those things you all talk about, the Kerrits sit tight breeches? Ha ha, what's next, a seat belt? At least I can laugh at myself...

After watching him move, I no longer think hunter pony. Honestly, he's got the neck set of a saddle horse, he's a hot potato with high movement and he's very quick on his feet/surefooted. If there was a pony jumper market out there, we might be in business. As it stands, I think he screams gaming pony - which would be just fine. There's a good market for that in these parts. While I've done a bit of gaming on my old polo ponies (I used to have this amazing Truly Truckle mare that could go to a barrel race and place against the "real" barrel horses no problem), I've never started a horse specifically for that. Then again, aren't the first 30 days about the same for anything? It's all about just developing balance and consistency at a walk and trot.

As his owner pointed out, he is very good in the roundpen and I think we will do session 2 there. He does not want to bend to the right and in the arena, is one of those horses who tries to run out of the longeing circle when he's not next to a wall and does so by running backward. I did the usual corrections - got myself behind his hip, moving him forward, but we had a bit of a battle on it before he gave up and went a few times around without successfully shooting into reverse. (Lesson for the day: Don't try to longe difficult greenie with huge mud boots on. Nearly took a header several times as I dashed to get behind his hip and correct his behavior.)

The good part is that he truly couldn't care less about being leaned over. He stood quietly next to the mounting block while I laid all of my weight over him on both sides. From watching him, I do not think he will be a bucker - it's the spooks I'm going to have to watch out for, and perhaps the backing-as-resistance, but the VLC already got me warmed up on that. I think I'll be on him by the end of the week, but tonight will be devoted to the VLC and the VLG that we just saved (see other blog post here).


OutRiding01 said...

I don't know about where you are, but down here in FL, there is a pony jumper market. Ship him down here and I'll happily work with him! Lol, I adore ponies to no end. His butt looks pretty cute at any rate.

Sagebrusheq said...

As usual, good luck on you. I'm new to the area but a little surprised there's no market for junior jumpers. People seem to like chrome every where though.


PS: My methods are slow, but I'd say you can go at least 6 months and longer without any specializing; say, training level or campaign horse- a lot of conditioning just to get to those levels without developing splints etc.

Heidi the Hick said...

I like him. He's flashy (and small!)

I used to do some pretty awkward barrel racing. We could place because my hot lil half arab liked to run back to the finish, and he was compact and short. He naturally had the ability to do tight turns. But I didn't know a darn thing about lateral movement ten years ago. I knew if I just pointed him at a barrel and tried to go at a dead run, he'd blow past it or make an ugly turn.

(Actually that little bugger could trot faster than most horses loped but that's another story.)

I think if he's going to be a gamer, (knowing what I've learned since) it's really important to work on his shoulders. When he's ready, do some two-tracking. Then move it up to a jog then lope. I'm still struggling with a good two-track but I can see how beneficial it is.

And don't forget collection. Even in my ignorance I knew that if I couldn't rate his speed, he'd never run the pattern efficiently. He really wasn't the fastest horse in the club, so we needed all the finesse we could pull together.

As for a market, I don't think you'll have a problem. A very good, well trained pony is worth his weight in gold. Well, maybe not that much, haha. Seriously, a large pony with training and manners is a very versatile critter. There will always be kids who need a good pony, but keep in mind that full grown adults who aren't very big can give that guy a home for life.

Sagebrusheq said...

BTW yesterday wasn't so hot for us. *#@! cows. It began well but just as I was thinking I might crawl on for the first time they started pitching a feeding time fit and I lost him. Granted this is something he's got to get over but it dashed my expectations. It's frustrating because he grazes right next to them all day without flicking an ear but doesn't like the look of them when he's across the road. After the lesson we pony back past the herd with nary a care.

As the grass grows so grows Pony Mare's independent streak. It would be nice to start riding Merlin down to the corral and dispense with her services. Yesterday nothing but grain would induce her to forego her playfulness (beautiful passage though). Yes, I can walk her down but her 40 acre round pen takes some walking.


deanna may said...

Everyone loves a cute little pinto pony! I've known many in my day, and they go like hotcakes. There is a pony jumper market here (as most hunter shows involve an equal amount of jumper rounds, and it's not mandatory to enter the hunters).

Do you guys have Pony Club down there? I know many pinto ponies who have been super Pony Club mounts for kids in the club. These kids are pretty intense. They study hard for tests (both written and ridden), go to a ton of shows and clinics, and can advance through the levels until the age of 21. Pony Club creates great horse-owners!

As I was reading about SSG, I kept thinking how great he'd be for a Pony Club mount!

But Heidi the Hick is right, there is always a market for a well-trained allround pony.

LoveWithoutLove said...

Ooo, I wish you luck with that cutie. And yearlings getting pregnant. @_@ I've seent that before, it was mentioned on your board a few times.

DietingAnyway! said...

Alot of kids in the California "A" Circuit ride their ponies through the hunter courses like they are trying to do a jumper class. Alot of no nonsense, brave little kids love quick jumper ponies. If the pony has a good mind and can deal with a child's mind then he is worth his weight in gold. I think the only problem is that big time trainers might want a pony that goes hunter and can transform into a jumper too.

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

Outriding - email me and I'll send you a video of him. He LOVES to free jump. :-)

I shouldn't discount the whole Pony Club market - I always forget about eventers, who do not care if something isn't slow and low headed as long as it's bold, controllable and has a big jump. In my previous horsey life, I rode a lot of pony hunters and I tend to think that all anybody wants to buy is slow, low, and will bomb over short stirrup fences flawlessly even if the kid is totally a passenger.

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

And he doesn't need a super big time home - just one that really will love him and keep him long term. :-)

I sold one of my previous large ponies to a lady in Chicago, and after the kids grew up, she became Mom's trail horse. Now that is a happy ending.

Josie said...

"And he doesn't need a super big time home - just one that really will love him and keep him long term."

If the "he" in the above quote refers to my very own dear SSG... heck, the sky's the limit, a super big time home would be nice too! Then they can adopt me too.

Theresa said...


If you do want to teach the pony to game, the foundation training is the same: control the hips, ribs, and shoulders. Don't do any pattern work or even look at any poles or barrels until you have a solid foundation. When you can do a 5 meter circle and maintain rhythm, balance, straightness, and collection, you are ready to start working with some poles and barrels.

Too many people think that working the horse on the pattern teaches them how to run barrels and poles. Yeah it works okay, but if you want to have a horse that isn't sour and who is controllable on the pattern (you can actually correct them during a run), the foundation is necessary. You don't need Grand Prix foundation, but a solid foundation is necessary.

There are too many gaming horses that can't do anything other than just run the pattern (and who are uncontrollable freaks on the pattern itself), so making sure the horse is sane and can be ridden somewhere other than on a pattern will benefit him greatly.

deanna may said...

Fugly -

Not everyone wants 'em low and slow! I, for one, want them uphill and bold. Haha. Just because he's not a hunter doesn't mean he doesn't have potential to do all sorts of other things.

Most of the Pony Club kids I've known have great horses that'll jump, do trail rides, PPG, eventing, dressage, whatever.

But hurry up and post some more pictures of both SSG and VLC!

deanna may said...

PS: If only I weren't 6 feet tall I think I'd just fill my yard with ponies... I love them! (Of course it'd be total mayhem: gates open everywhere, mischevious rascals on the loose!)

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

Theresa - I agree. I always thought the reason my polo mare did so well is we never practiced. We just went in there and did it. She would stop on "ho" and walk out of the arena on a loose rein. I loved it. That was fun. The ones who get completely insane at the gate do not look like a good time to me.

Sagebrusheq said...

I think other posters have hit on a gold mine for you. The tough thing with ponies is it's tough to find adults who want to spend the time to train them properly, and they're too smart for anyone with less experience to tackle. I love them but, at 6'2", when they stop over- jumping my heels drag the rails down.


Sagebrusheq said...

Theresa, Fugly;

I know what you mean. The problem with gymkhana is that it has evolved into fixed patterns, which wasn't the original intent. Not to say that every horse has to be backed into the arena but it's often the case. I've always thought that a separate ribbon of equal status should be given in these events for horsemanship. A pretty run through the poles is a thing of beauty and the kid who does one should be rewarded for it..


Redsmom said...

Sagebrush, our little club is so small, and the races are separated by age, so that an accurate run through the pattern is rewarded some of the time!! My daughter got 4th and 5th place ribbons after only two prior shows and a few gaming lessons. She's been working with this horse on W.T.C and small jumps for 6 mos, though.

ellen said...

I would think he'd make a fine Pony Club mount, and a good small eventer is certainly marketable. From what I've observed about the eventers vs contest horses around here, the contest horses end up sour and sore and bounced around a lot more than the eventers -- so he might have a better future if you went the Pony Club route. He'd make a DANDY pony for advanced students in a lesson barn.

Quick, catty and cute as a bug's ear are all advantages.

Sagebrusheq said...


Great to hear that. And I don't mean to disparage kids rodeo. It's a good thing. Of course everything depends on the parents involved, no matter what is on paper. And often a clean slow run with no penalties beats out the speed demons, especially with the younger kids. Some clubs are very good while others all you hear is 'kick him, kick him'.

The advantage with timed events is that it's difficult to argue with a clock, though not impossible as I'm sure you've found; and subjective judging, admittedly, would open the door for much, er... heated debate. But other disciplines do it. I think kids rodeo could too. I see the same problems, vis a vis promoting good horsemanship, extant in other racing disciplines too, like jumpers.


Lali said...

Maybe this is stating the obvious and/or I'm confused about the round pen problem.

Anyways - just thought I'd offer some advice.

There's a class here where the students are given a weanling and they have to train ground work/manners for the semester - including light (walk/trot mostly) round pen and lounge work. This year we had one filly that absolutely hated going in one direction. So much so we thought she might be blind in one eye. She would wheel around, charge her handler, kick out.

Anyways, we shorteed the line (think four or five feet - shorter if need be) and used the excess as a make shift whip. We were able gradually work her over her fears of the bad direction. We were able to guide her head better using a "bump and tap" method. Tug or bump her face a little and drive her at her hip and tap her with the rope.

Just thought I'd share.

Lali said...

outriding01 -

You would look good on something 13.3! Midget! ;-)

I get on anything under 17 hh and I dwarf it. I got on a friends 16.2 gelding so she could get sale video. Even though she included my height in the video, no one believed he was really 16.2!

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

LOL! Yep, I am only 5'3 myself - I look fine on large ponies, and I LOVE riding them.

We had one that was a CBER horse...unhandled 8 year old stallion. You wouldn't think this would work (of course he was immediately gelded) but he was a dead sensible little booger and broke out fine, learned to go over X's in one lesson, was great at his first show and ever after, and is at some A circuit barn now where I am sure his current owners have NO idea of his history... :-) Man he was CUTE though. He looked like a bay Welsh. All mane and forelock. Just darling. And a perfect flat sweeping mover. Just the bargain of the century, and he almost went on the truck.

Linda said...

For an accident he sure is cute. Good luck (to him and to you!)!

Princess Jess said...

I vote for eventer, too!!!

Right off the bat, though, I thought Dressage (but that's usually the first thing I think of for most horses).

Niki said...

Or send him here to Britain! Huge, big time market for jumping ponies here - although he does fall into a bad height - unless he'd measure 138cm? A good jumping pony is a gold mine here - although not always a good life.

Ponies are big here anyway - lots of adults ride and own ponies - I only don't now cos my Connemara grew too big!! Coloured ponies are very popular as well at the moment.

Best of luck with him - he's cute.