Welcome to Pony World

Ponies. Barns. Tack. Supplies. Visit often for musings on raising a horseback rider. We'll share experiences

and review tack, tools, and tricks of the trade.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My So-Called Pony Mama Life

My So-Called Pony Mama Life

Over the past few months I’ve taken notice of certain behaviors and activities that have “changed” since we’ve jumped completely into Pony Girl’s first competitive horse show season. We are spending more time at the barn, more weekends at shows, and of course, more money.
Some things that are now rather routine Pony Mama business of the day weren’t even on the radar pre-pony days. So, here it is. A “list” of stuff we now do or know, that we’d never do or know of if our family was not a Pony Posse.
  • Always have a baseball cap and pony tail elastics in the vehicle. Helmet head must be covered
  • Enter a store or restaurant directly following a ride. This means in breeches, manure-laden footwear, and shirt with visible horse slime in at least two locations. And a baseball cap covering helmet hair
  • Let Pony Girl pee in a stall.
  • Let Pony Mama pee in a stall.

  • What “denier” means and that more is better.
  • Can remove or put on a martingale in less than 30 seconds.
  • Pony Mama stops washing the vehicle because it will just get barn dirt on it again tomorrow.
  • Pony Papa stops washing Pony Mama’s vehicle because it will just get barn dirt on it tomorrow. This typically occurs about three months after Pony Mama has already given up. (P.S. Pony Papa suprised Pony Mama this weekend and washed the van. With a powerwasher. Sigh.)

  • Know the difference between turnouts, rugs, coolers, scrims, sheets, fleeces, and blankets. And that for each, there is a difference between those for field, stable, and show. Yep. For real.
  • Witnessed  the “Floating” of horse teeth. Yes. She is holding Toadie's tongue. (This looks scary, but horse teeth always grow so they occasionally need to be filed and shaped for good health. Thanks, Vet Katie!)

  • And, of course, BEANS. Enough previously shared on that topic.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Gray Pony Blues

Gray Pony Blues

I’ve always loved grays and palominos. The lovely, light shades of the coats are so pretty and a nice change to all the chestnuts and bays in the ring. Our pony is a gray. I love him. But every time we are show prepping I’d consider cutting off my left pinky toe if he were a chestnut or a bay. Getting gray tails clean is a challenge, and face it. Dark horses are just easier.

I have photographic proof:

Chestnut Pony Before & After:

Gray Pony Before & After

 OK- In full disclosure I admit my humor here is that is the same photo of Alibi's beautiful tail. But to make my point, that tail did not need special bathing or shampoo before the show. In fact, it wasn't washed at all! It looks awesome. Not so much on our gray pony!

Keeping a gray clean for shows is a never-ending and tedious job. In a pinch, the dark horses can be dusted off and paraded beautifully into the show ring and no one is the wiser. Maybe they need their legs hosed off or little white socks bathed. Boom. Done. Girls with pretty brown ponies get to bathe their horses for fun. Girls with gray ponies are doomed to a lifetime of bathing. (I am exaggerating a bit here- I know that brown horses are bathed for shows too! It’s just easier when your starting place is not… white). You know the reason we think carefully before buying and much less wearing white pants or jeans… same concept!

Gray ponies need full-on baths. All. The. Time. Everything shows up on a gray. Every little grass stain screams out “Look at me! I made your pony dirty!” Mud and dirt that can be brushed off a brown horse leave mocking yellow stains on a gray. Those gorgeous flowing white tails are usually yellowed (from all the you-know-what they need to expel from grazing all day…)

Gray Pony Cleaning Strategies:

1)   Purple Shampoo. Those readers of a certain age will know what the term “bluing” means in regard to old ladies with gray hair at beauty parlors. It is still alive and well in Gray Horse Land. There are special shampoos for gray and white horses. These shampoos are bright purple. They have cool names like “White-N-Brite” and  “Quicksilver”. They really do the job to make those pretty ponies glow and shine. But there are side effects for mom and girl: Purple fingernails- for 24-48 hours. We prefer White-N-Brite. For the really stained spots we apply the shampoo directly on the pony rather than diluting in water. The contrast of the bright purple on a white or gray pony is pretty dramatic. http://www.smartpakequine.com/vetrolin-white-n-brite-3506p.aspx . Oh, and don’t leave it on too long, or your pony will become lavender and look like an Easter Pony! Timing is important here, friends.
Our current favorite purple shampoo!
Purple nails last a couple of days!

2)   Fly sheets! This has been my favorite strategy this show season. I know I am slow to the game on this one, but the flysheet is my new best friend. It has earned us an extra hour of sleep on show mornings. That is like gold when a “late” start can be 6 am. With the sheet, we can bathe the afternoon before the show, then wrap that pony up like a present in his fly sheet. HE. STAYS. (mostly) CLEAN. I am in love with our flysheet. Get the neck attachment!! http://www.doversaddlery.com/amigo-mio-fly-sheet/p/X1-24089/?tid=froogle&eid=X1814001&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=PLA&zmam=1460880&zmas=1&zmac=114&zmap=0024089317810X1-24089&gclid=CJ3Liae9_LECFYao4AodpR4AGw

4)   Spot cleaner. “WowWhite”, “MTG Spot Cleaner”, etc. These are no-rinse products that when sprayed on and rubbed with a cloth remove (mostly) the inevitable grass stains on the areas not covered by the amazing flysheet. Cheeks, flanks, knees, hocks, etc. Ponies are heavy suckers, and when they hit the grass to sleep at night, they dig in. Deep. So, having spot cleaner is important. It also helps with the stains that come from the trailer poops on the way to the show.

5) Tail Wraps. We tried braiding. We tried panty hose. This season we bought a "Stretchies" tail wrap and love it. This thing stays on even when turned out all night. 11 year old Pony Girl can manage it all by herself (after a bit of practice). The Stretchie, oddly, did not come with instructions but we figured it out.
This is the Stretchie.

      We've had good luck with pantyhose too, but you just have to play around with it. The general idea is that you separate the tail into three sections, slip each section into the pantyhose or Stretchie, then braid the "slipcovered" tail. Tie it up with itself, or use pony tail elastics for extra hold. Pony Girl also washes that tail twice weekly during show season. This keeps the yellowing at bay. Mostly.

6)   Towels and rags. Simply have lots and lots and lots of them. Never throw away an old towel again. My husband bemoans the fact that my daughter and I have raided his car washing supply. I use “raided” conservatively. We’ve actually stolen his whole dang pile. Oh well. He can go to the car wash!

Look at that clean gray pony!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

I Don't Know "BEANS" About Cleaning Horse Boy Parts

Today I did something I never in a million years thought I might do. I cleaned a horse penis. Not just one, but TWO horse dangly-bits. OK- I actually held the horse, and got a lesson in how to do this. Next time is my turn. Can. Hardly. Wait. (insert sarcasm here)

We all know those puppies are the scariest honking thing you've ever seen pretty big. And since they only get a deep cleaning about twice a year, they are also pretty dirty. Everywhere. The hangy-down part is actually the cleanest part. I learned a whole lot today. Like you also have to clean the little pocket that the hangy-down bit hides in when it is not being all hangy-downy. The proper term for the boy part is sheath. But, its more fun to write hangy-down thingy, so we’ll stick with that.

So here’s the lesson I got today.

1)   Warm the water. I suppose I’d get annoyed if someone scrubbed me down with ice-cold water from the hose, so this was of course the nice thing to do.
2)   Get the special “body wash” for boy horse parts. It is called “Excalibur”. Really. That is the real name. Look. Here is a picture of the bottle.
 A lot of folks just use Ivory dish detergent.
3)   Take a clean sponge and get every thing wet with the warm water.
4)   You can choose to put on gloves if you wish, but either way this is where the girls are separated from the real women. Time to get up in there with soap and fingers, ladies.
5)   Place the cleaning agent of your choice in your hand, on cotton, or some people just put a clean cotton sock as a glove- (a two-fer!), and enter the pocket zone (inner sheath). Gently clean around the penis, which will be retracted up pretty far up there in the inner sheath.
6)   Little bits of gunk, gook, dirt and stuff will come out. As an added bonus, it smells funky. I know, right? Rinse as necessary throughout the scrubbing process. Yes, please.
7)   Male horses develop things called “beans” that gather in the end of their penises. It is a combination of dirt, smegma, and who knows what all.I had no idea. This was complete news to me. I felt a little dumb and uniformed that I didn’t know this. I felt even more grossed out than I did dumb. These beanie-babies are dang big. Even for a horse. Look. These two came out of the nice guy I ride. I wish I had put a penny beside these when I took the picture so you could see how big they are.

They were as big as grapes. Ouch. I imagine they are called beans because they are shaped like kidney beans. Only WAY freakin' bigger. Or maybe this guy just is a "real" horse and grows 'em huge. Whatever. Still gross.
8)   Do not attempt to remove beans unless you’ve been trained by a real pro or you are a vet. I would not do this myself. Maybe someday when I am a grown up horse lady. I am 50, and I will leave this to the trained professionals!
9)   Once you’ve gotten all the bits out, time to rinse. By this point some horses will even let you stick the hose right there and rinse. But you can also rinse with a clean sponge. This seems a little less violent to me, but it takes longer. They didn’t seem to mind the hose too much at this point.
10)   Sheath cleaning makes the boy ponies feel better. Beans and a dirty weenie can cause pain when urinating, and let’s face it: A clean one is always better than a dirty one.

For a proper lesson watch this video:
Clean a Horse Sheath

For a giggle, watch this one:
The Sheath Cleaning Song

Monday, June 18, 2012

Buying Real Estate

My eleven year old daughter sits on top of a 800 pound animal that hurls itself (and my daughter) over large obstacles. I am of course often asked by other parents: "Doesn't it scare you?"

My answer is "Only when she falls". And yes, she does sometimes fall. Her coach calls it "Buying real estate".  After practice I am sometimes greeted with: "Well, she bought a little real estate tonight, but she's OK."

I am not a worrier by nature, and I ride a little myself, so I have a pretty high level of tolerance for falling off. In fact, when it happens at our home barn, during lessons, it really doesn't phase me. I know she is fine, and since most falls don't incur injury, my biggest concern is that she hops back up and can finish the lesson on a positive note.

But at the horse shows, I am a mess on the inside.Things move faster at shows. The pony and the girl are more excited, and nerves are elevated. And while things move faster, when they go wrong, it feels like everything is in slow motion.

A couple of weeks ago, things went a little wrong. OK- maybe more than a little. Space judgment and strides were a bit off, and my pony girl got wonky over the jump, rode up the pony neck, and popped off. She fell flat. on. her. back.

So, this is where Pony Mama begins to sweat. Pony Girl is lying flat on her back in the ring. Coach runs out. Is Pony Mama supposed to go out there? What are the rules? Pony Mama doesn't know. We never went over this part. There isn't a Pony Mama manual that lists this stuff. I have seen other riders come off, but have not seen other Pony Mamas enter the ring. The Clash song flashes through my brain- "Should I stay or should I go?" Pony girl still lying flat on her back. EMT comes out. Crap. The EMT came out. Pony Mama still ringside, can hear and see daughter talking and moving, but still wondering what protocol is here. EMT starts tapping Pony Girl's feet. Pony Mama decides hell with it and goes out into the ring. It is HER Pony Girl lying flat on her back, and it is time to be there with her. When Pony Mama gets there Pony Coach says "Good. It is time for Mom to be here". Whew.

Pony Girl gets on her feet and we walk away together. As we're walking, Pony Girl describes the feeling of having the wind knocked out of you. It occurs to me she's never heard of or experienced this feeling before now. Such a simple concept- but such a scary feeling. Gasping. Squeaking. Unable to talk. Unable to breathe for a few seconds. Easy for a little Pony Girl to feel panicked. Really easy for a Pony Mama to feel that way too.
Yep. She got back up on the pony. Confidence only temporarily shaken. Not so sure that Pony Mama's nerves fared as well. But we'll be back ringside next weekend. Hopefully Pony Girl won't be buying any new real estate.

Anyone who is concerned about his dignity would be well advised to keep away from horses.
-Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Pony Mama- the new "Soccer Mom"

Inspired by my friend Jennifer's hilarious blog boymommynyc.blogspot.com (follow her- I apologize in advance for not having Jen's level of wit and writing skills!) and my few guest spots on friend Pat's Rantings of an Amateur Chef blog http://rantingchef.com/ (follow that too- amazing recipes and fun blog!) I have decided to blog about our newest family adventure- having a pony in our lives.

I grew up riding horses. From the time I was 11 until I was 17, I spent every moment I could on the back of the neighbor's rather round sorrel quarter horse- Sonny Boy. I took riding lessons, was in 4-H, and occasionally showed. My first term in college I even majored in- wait for it- Equestrian Sciences. Yes. It is a legitimate (and demanding) major at some colleges. Not that I am raking in the big bucks as a university administrator, but trust me, there's no money in horses. Besides, people who do well with horses don't have big thighs or butts. Ever. Two strikes for me. Riders also have lovely slim calves with room to spare in those skinny tall boots. Strike three. They didn't make riding boots big enough for my fat calves. I had to have the local shoe repair guy add a two inch leather gusset into my show boots... not a good sign for my future as an Equestrienne. I transferred to a different college after the first quarter. Packed up my fat boots and left.

My youngest daughter was bitten by the pony bug at an early age. My husband blames me for implanting this seed. Whatever. I'll own it. Now I can live out my horsey fantasies vicariously through her, as do all proper mothers.

Many things in the horse world have changed since the 70's and 80's when I was "there".

Nowadays, one must choose just the right summer Horse Camp for children. As a kid I rode rampantly across the fields and woods surrounding our house every day all summer. No structure, no rules, no schedule, no helmet (gasp), no $300 weekly fee. The summer my daughter turned 4, I came across a horse camp flyer (at the bank, of all places) I was thrilled! What an opportunity for my budding pony-girl. So, I did the obligatory "ask the other mom's what they think" thing, and BAM! Suddenly I have 13 different horse camp options from which to choose. Silly me- I thought the one I discovered at the bank was the only game in town.  Here's how it went down:

Seasoned Pony Mama: "Oh, there are tons of horseback camps around! My daughter rides at Trendy Meadows Farm. They swim every day."
New Pony Mama (aka- me) "What?? Swimming horses??? Dang, I wanna see that!"
Seasoned Pony Mama: "You are always so funny!"
New Pony Mama (aka- me):  smiles, and wonders what swimming every day has to do with learning about horses.

Did you know they actually make riding breeches for 4 year-olds? They are super-cute. And they only cost $89.95.

PS: Great summer horse camp experience at Clover Grove if you're in the Shenandoah Valley http://www.myclovergrove.com/Instruction.html