Tag Archives: fun

It’s like barrel racing, but with guns

It sounds pretty redneck but it is one of the fastest growing equestrian disciplines.  A horse, guns, balloons, and a stopwatch and BANG! You have cowboy mounted shooting.

I have been wanting to try this sport for a few years now.  While I was participating in the St. Tite Rodeo in St. Tite, Quebec with the Canadian Cowgirls drill team, the cowboy mounted shooting  association in Quebec gave a little demo.  If you’ve never seen it before, it is thrilling! The general gist of the event is to race around a pattern, shooting balloons in a certain order with the best precision and fastest time.  Seconds are added for missing balloons, going off course, knocking over any barrels, etc.

Why haven’t I tried this before? Well Ontario has much stricter gun laws than the US and most of the other provinces so there is a lot of red tape to cut through. Arenas need to be licensed as shooting ranges and many venues are not willing to put the time or effort in.  Thanks to Britt Needham, a cowboy mounted shooter from Saskatchewan who now calls Ontario home, this sport is getting its start in this province!  I attended a 2 day clinic just north of Orangeville to get a feel for what the sport is like and to learn more about it.  (Side note: one of the rules for Ontario is going to be that you have participated as a rider in one of these clinics before you are allowed to compete in Ontario. I highly suggest giving the Ontario Cowboy Mounted Shooting Facebook page a like so that you can keep up to date on upcoming clinics and events. https://www.facebook.com/ontariocmsa/)

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Day one of the clinic focussed on rules, regulations, and just getting a feel for the guns.  You might be interested to know that Mounted Shooters use .45 caliber single action revolvers like those used in the late 1800’s. Single action revolvers must be cocked each time before firing by drawing the hammer back.  They also shoot brass cartridges filled with black powder that can break a balloon up to about 15 feet.  No live rounds are used and are prohibited at competitions. Any one and any horse can compete.  There are men’s and women’s divisions from levels 1-6. There is also a youth division.  They ride the same pattern that the grown-ups do, but they may shoot Hollywood cap pistols, engaging each target as if they were shooting real blanks. They then shoot the real McCoy (.45’s with blanks) at balloons, from the ground while standing stationary with mom or dad at their side.

Day two got participants learning about patterns and getting to ride a mock one. Even though Splash was having a bad day (it started off with a rodeo as soon as I put the saddle on so you can imagine how the rest of the day went), I had a ton of fun, learned a lot, and met some great people.  Even if you don’t think you will ever compete in a mounted shooting event, it is really neat to try out a different discipline, especially one like this, in a safe environment with knowledgable instructors to help set you and your horse up for success.

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It’s about Passion-by Jean Abernethy

“If you let yourself be drawn into your life by the strange pull of that which you are passionate about, you will not be led astray”. —Jean Abernethy creator of Fergus the Horse

 

In my experience, staying true to one’s passion has been the thread that keeps life meaningful, and fun. No doubt, in writing this philosophy to equestrian readers, I’m preaching to the choir.  After all, we are equestrians, first and foremost because of a major passion….horses.

 

In forging a career which combined horses and art, I can now recount with delight the number places I’ve been, because of my passion for horses. I never considered travel to be one of my passions, but here I am, many years, and thousands of miles later.

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Learning to drive as well as ride horses, opened doors for me. As an artist, drawing various harnesses, from draft harness to race harness, made my knowledge valuable to the standardbred industry. I also got a job in Georgia driving carriage horses in some beautiful historic places.  Because of my studies as an artist, I already knew the harness, what the parts were called, how it all worked.  My boss just needed to show me the tricks of putting it on. I’ll never forget driving in Barnsley Gardens in North Georgia.  It was the site of an old pre-Civil War cotton plantation-turned-resort.  Some of the trees, rosebushes and shrubs in the gardens around the mansion are well over 150 years old.  The mansion itself lost its roof to a tornado in the 1950s. Driving for Yellow Rose Carriages, is an experience I’ll always treasure.

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Near my home in Marrietta GA, Kennesaw National Battlefield Park was a place of solace for many miles and years in the saddle. Civil war tranches are carefully preserved there.

 

Visiting Monty & Pat Roberts’ Flag Is Up Farms in the San Yanez valley of California, to take a seminar with then, stable manager Crawford Hall changed my horsemanship for the better, and opened innumerable doors for me as an illustrator. Fergus himself, was born shortly thereafter.

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Driving to a Friesian breeding farm near Raleigh, North Carolina, for a client who wanted Friesian horse cartoons, led to the creation of my character “Kase” now a member of Fergus’s herd of friends. To my delight, my passion for horses, and my artistic career, had taken me coast to coast in the USA.

 

Just a few years later, I flew to England to visit an equestrian friend I met in California. Our combined passion for horses had us gazing into the church-like rafters of the last pre-1900 riding arena (school) left in England that was still in equestrian use…the racing stable of the legendary Eclipse…and Epsom Downs. (where I later took Fergus for a gallop on this photo I took during my visit. (I rarely put Fergus into a photo that I have not taken myself.)

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Membership with American Horse Publications has taken me to several US cities, too, and I’ve been treated to, not just tourism, but tourism that interests equestrians: Saratoga, Keenland, Williamsburg…and in SanAntonio Texas I made this sketch inside the Alamo. Cameras were not permitted inside the building.

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My passion for horses has drawn me to visit, repeatedly, a saddle manufacturing shop and a saddle tree manufacturing shop, tucked away in the Tennessee hills. Each is as colourful in character and culture as its proprietor. These special places have now also become part of my story. Here are four saddles that I have built and ridden.

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The experience of riding 25 miles a day for two weeks, gives one a new perspective on travel, and history. With friends and family members, my little mare Willow and I accompanied this special group of horses and people from Lindsay to Cornwall, ON. How I treasure my journal kept daily along that adventure! Here we are in the middle of the pack, on the road near Douro, ON.

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After the publication of my first book, Fergus has taken me to New York City where I had a ride in Central Park and toured the stables where the carriage horses live.

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Since moving back home to Canada from the US, I’ve been privileged to work for South Algonquin Trails, a trail guiding company near Harcourt, ON. There I learned more of the history of Ontario’s legacy of logging and forestry.

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A side note, my grandfather, I was told, drove a “Snatch Team” while working in the bush in winter. This required exceptional horsemanship. On iced logging roads the sleighs, heavily laden, would slide along nicely, pulled by one pair of horses. Two teams, however, were often needed to get the sleigh started. Imagine the caution and expertise needed to hook a team of 4 onto a sleigh, enormously laden with logs. Two drivers would send all 4 horses into their collars at once to start the sleigh (hob-nailed boots on ice, and sharp-shod horses!) Once the sleigh was moving, the driver of the front pair, or “Snatch Team” would unhook on the move, and get out of the way, leaving the remaining team to take the load out. One misstep could be tragic.

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Being a part of the crew at South Algonquin Trails has brought me closer to my own history, and has also connected me with whole new rounds of friends; friends who have introduced me to playing Mounted Games, and my very first Competitive Trail Tide. The friendships, lessons and experiences working for and with my SAT friends, are too numerous to account for in a single blog…and 2017 is already filling up with scheduled travel and adventure…

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A passion is a pathway to an enriching life. Never brush it aside. Dive in heart first. When life gets tough, your passion, your deepest love, will be the thing that holds it all together for you.  Saddle up and keep going…

 

Jean Abernethy creator of Fergus the Horse

 

Mannequin challenge

A couple of weeks ago the pony club that I am a member of decided to do the mannequin challenge. Now for those who don’t know what that is, it is a viral Internet video trend where people remain frozen like mannequins while a moving camera films, with the song “Black Beatles” by Rae Sremmurd playing in the background.

When doing the animals it’s obviously very hard since they don’t have the same ideas as you. I think our mannequin challenge is pretty good and, if it’s not good, at least it’s funny. So here it is, hope you enjoy!

 

 

 

-Solstice

Through the Fields and Over the Jumps

It’s a little over three hours’ drive all the way to Ottawa, but gosh was it worth it. The Ottawa Valley Hunt Club does drag hunting and, for people that don’t know about hunting, a drag hunt is a set path the hounds follow that the “fox” has been. This is much faster than live hunting since the hounds aren’t spending time looking for a scent. There were so many jumps in Ottawa set up and so many lovely views. Instead of driving up on the day of the hunt we decided to drive up the day before to get the ponies ready without a rush and so we wouldn’t have to wake up at 4am. At the hunt we got to meet so many new people and even people that have ridden in an OCTRA event.

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Whenever I jump Desi I’m always slightly worried she’ll stop since so many times she has done this before. Luckily for me that thought never crossed her mind, or else I seriously would have gotten hurt. Many of the jumps we were galloping over to stay with the rest of the field, but we didn’t really have to encourage them on any either they were ready and raring to go. There were so many jumps I couldn’t even count, logs, tires, brush and even drops. The one benefit Ottawa has compared to us is that it’s very flat so the chases can be a lot faster and longer since they don’t have to deal with hills.

The weather couldn’t have been better for a November day. Just mainly wind since it’s so flat, but because we were moving almost all of the time we warmed up very quickly.

We got home at around 8 and then I had to wake up the next day for my first day of work at a coffee/bake shop in Port Hope. Well… I’m still working at the shop 3 weeks later for knowing nothing about coffee or espresso I think I’m doing pretty good.

 

Hunting with Toronto North York Hunt

October 22nd was my first joint hunt, Beaver meadow hunt club (my hunt club) and Toronto North York. The last couple of hunts I’ve ridden at I’ve unfortunately fallen off at, not gotten hurt, but an unplanned dismount definitely took place. First on what I thought my most trusted mount was, but apparently not Angel decided to run my through the trees instead of going over a jump. The next time I tried another horse, the one that is “safe for everyone,” well apparently not this time. It wasn’t really Liza’s fault there was a dip in the ground and she found it. We were cantering threw this field and I did a summersault over the front of her successfully landing on my feet, with everyone watching me. I looked down at the ground on the right side of me and began to laugh with everyone asking if I was okay, to a response of “oh my gosh that was such a rush.”

Well third times a charm? This hunt was very close to the Dufferin forest, so for where I live it’s about a 3.5hr drive. Instead of driving up on the day we drove up the day before and stayed at a very nice ranch that does horseback trail riding and has a nice little place for sleeping in. When we woke up in the morning it was snowing, not super hard, but still, Snow? Really? The hunt was great, sadly I only got to jump two coops, but I was still very happy how my third horse did. Desi did amazing, only refusing once but getting over it the second time on one and then going straight over the second jump.

I’d also like to put in this post of how happy and proud I am of my teammate Sarah for doing amazing at her South Africa race. No matter where she placed, to travel thousands of kilometers to a new place. Somewhere with a new culture, horses you haven’t seen before let alone ridden before and many other differences compared to Canada. For coming third that is amazing, congratulations.

-Solstice

 

Show Days

From riding my coach’s horse Beau, to riding my own horses in both endurance and mounted games, I would say I’m pretty busy. This past weekend was quite busy, with having a show each day this weekend. Over the whole weekend Beau was a good boy. With some classes better than others because you can’t be perfect all the time right?

Friday was Lindsay Ex. This was my first Morgan show ever. We competed in 4 classes getting 2nd,3rd,1st,2nd. Most of the classes had about five people in it, with some pretty good competition too. There was also tough competition in the Saturday Roseneath Fair. Friday was quite the cold day though. All the girls riding for my coach we huddled up in the trailer pretty much until we showed at 11. Luckily Saturday was much better. It was cold in the morning, but it got warmer as the day went on.

At the RoseneathFair we got 5th,2nd,1st,2nd,3rd. Both Friday and Saturday were flat class only, so Beau wasn’t super happy, he’d much rather be jumping. Sunday we competed in two divisions hack and x-rail. For the flat part of the we did relatively the same as the other day. For the jumping part Beau was in his glory. Out of 11 we got 2 in hunter over fences and 3 in equitation over fences.

So what next? This weekend I have Oktoberfest. 14 miles Saturday and 50 miles Sunday on Linda Klarner’s horse Jack. I can’t wait to see how much better he is compared to his first ever 50 mile. Boy I really hope it doesn’t rain, October rains aren’t exactly the warmest showers you could say. I don’t especially like feeling cold and wet for a whole day either.

Have a great weekend, TGIF.

-Solstice

Two for the show

Starting last fall I started riding my coach’s horses. I started showing for her in spring of this year riding her 6 year old Morgan gelding Beau. This year I’ve been mainly showing flat, with some jumping shows. Before me Beau has not really done any showing and this year he’s done so well. He’s been getting a whole lot of 1st, 2nd and 3rd against some good competition.

This past competition went very well. We got three 1st and a 2nd in our four flat classes. The weekend was quite rainy so many people didn’t participate in this show. My coach decided to enter Beau and I in some hunter jumping classes. We have competed in jumping 2 times before, but only at cross rail level. I was entered in hunter hack, low hunter 2”3 and baby hunter 2”6. The first jumping class was horrible, Beau thought that the brush boxes were monsters so stopped and refused to go over the first jump on our first try. Our second try was much more successful, getting over the jump, but by a mile.

Our 2”3 class was much better after the first few jumps, but our 2”6 class was phenomenal. Beau got every lead and didn’t knock down a jump. He even did a flying lead change in the middle of two jumps and can you believe it we got first! So now we have another show this next weekend doing 2”, hopefully it’s big enough.

 

-Solstice

Something ’bout the North

Through the years of doing endurance in AERC and OCTRA I have learned each ride has its challenges. Some challenges are much harder than others, some are more difficult for different people. Our first pioneer ride up in Madawaska was very challenging. From winding roads, to the hills and the rocks it was for sure a test of the best. At the second vet check, the girl I was riding with for the first 25 miles looked down at her horse’s foot realizing there was no shoe on her left foot. The shoe was pulled straight out of the foot, luckily not hurting the horse or making her lame, but making the proper decision to pull because of this problem.

My horse was not the most motivated creature at this ride after we didn’t have a friend to go out with she slowed down a lot, making me have to continue to encourage her forward. At 9 miles from the second stop Earle Baxter caught up with me, boy was I happy as Angel was being a bum: walking the slowest walk she could possibly do, telling me she was tired every step, I hate it when horses are like that. Once she had a friend she thought she could race all the way home. Having to go over all the hills, makes like you’ve done the 50 twice.

At the end I ended up coming first, but overall I was just happy I completed because it was only a 50% completion rate. Now the stress begins for our competition, mounted games practice and let’s just say so much more. Well, nobody can say I had a boring summer!

 

-Solstice

Times to remember

I don’t think I could have a better summer: from the amazing view, to all my new friends, a horse between my legs and the wind blowing my hair. Ya, for sure I miss my home and my bed, but I wouldn’t trade this summer for anything. Most of my blogs are mainly me talking about my adventures, but that’s only because I can never remember to take pictures. This blog will be mainly pictures so let’s get started.

The first day I arrived I got to see a family of foxes

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This little pony was Angel’s first friend. Daisy was a rescue and now she’s doing 110% better.

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Of course a lot of riding. A different horse each day and lots of time in the saddle!

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We all wanted a jumping ring so us girls got together and a jumping ring was built.

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We also go on lots of adventures!
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Who could forget horse swimming?
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I think I get pretty good views too!
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The best part about this whole thing is I’ve meet so many new and great people i would have never met before.
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Hope you all liked the pictures of my summer. Have a great July!
-Solstice

A story of success

The last weekend in May was quite the weekend. I was riding a horse for someone in a local schooling show. I’ve only competed with this horse once before, and he is the best horse you could ever ask for. He’s a horse that knows what to do, it’s whether he’s going to do things properly or not.

In this schooling show I decided to do the flat division as well as the crossrail division. In this horse’s whole life he’s only been to three shows: Two being flat classes only, and this recent show, flat and jumping. Just to add to the difficulty he has never been jumped away from home before. Going into this show I had no idea what he would be like. I was just hoping that I would give him the confidence to do everything he needed to.

Apparently it worked, because at the schooling show we did the best I could ever imagine. In the flat classes we got two 3rd and a 1st out of 5, and in the cross rail classes we got two 3rd and two 2nd out of 10. Finally to bring it all home we also got champion for the cross rail division. When they announced this I was open mouth shocked.

This weekend coming up I’m going to two different shows. Saturday is our local towns fair. To add to the excitement I’m also bringing Prince to his first show. So I’m hoping all goes well and both of the horses do great and continue with the success they have had so far.