Sunday, January 30, 2011

Riding in Winter Snow

And that's what we've been doing these past weeks at Windflower Farm.  Since Christmas we have had over 35 inches of what the snow plow fellows and I call white gold.  Yes, we have to shovel out the barn  door and paddock gates.  (Twice this year our sleepless and heavily caffeinated snow plowers managed to push the snow up against several of our gates.  Urgent  calls produced immediate correction by the heavy-lidded red-eyed--no doubt Red Bull infused--drivers.  But the trail riding has been terrific.  After every snow we go out with the bigger horses and pack it down.   And getting it down is a must.  And ice layer on top of unpacked snow makes riding a misery, if not  downright impossible.

The first time out we're careful--no suspensory injuries, please--but the horses have been fit and trail ridden through summer and fall.  (That's in addition, of course,  to their dressage work in our  arena.)    So gone are the rocks, roots, and ruts of New England, at least for a while!  We can trot and canter where and when we want and the horses love it.! Strides are longer, taller and if we diligently work on straightness we get to feel a passage that floats like nothing I've felt in any dressage arena.  We go out with sleigh bells attached to the saddles.  This started as practical matter in hunting season.  We wear red then but also like to be heard.   If someone happens to be out in the woods packing heat we 'd like them to know we're out there, too.  Of course, with all those bells it's hard to hear--in the words of one rider--"a jingle word" amongst ourselves.

But then it evolved into using the bells year-round.  Our horses ground training is extensive and includes many de-spooking exercises.  They  are all quite accustomed to seeing deer but there have been a few times when a deer has cut so closely that one of our riders could have reached out and given it a pat.  The benefit of using bells is that the deer hear them long before they see us and so can retreat at a leisurely pace. And then in spring and summer there are the darling little fawns whose DNA tells them to stay put in their little hiding places while their mamas are off foraging.  That is until the threat comes within  a few feet!  Then baby Bambi will leap into the air spreading his fear far and wide to horses and riders alike.  In the past I've taken two "Bambi diggers" and find the bells help.)

But I digress--back to winter.  By nature, horses are nomadic.   A good ride off the farm in any season will keep them mentally fit, physically fit and happy.  So get those winter riding pants on, stick a pair of toe warmers in your boots, a balaclava or scarf under your helmet and ride out on those trails of "white gold."

Friday, January 28, 2011

Windflower You Tube Video

Hello everyone in snowy New England and to you in warmer climes who follow are doings.
Here is link to a you tube video that shows the various activities on and off the farm this past year.
It's set to a sweet piece of music sung by Charlotte Church.  We try to  live up to it's theme and title in our lives here with the children and animals of Windflower farm.
I hope you like and please share it forward if you do.

Stay warm!


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Windflower Farm's First Blog

Hi, this is Windflower Farm's first ever blog and I am Ainslie the owner, teacher and trainer here in Acton, Massachusetts.   We are looking forward to giving you a weekly window into the daily activities and and lives of our student  our horses, ponies, and mule.  Our program values not only equestrian skills but also developing a clear understanding of the world of the Horse.   After all, we have taken them out of their natural world and into ours.  We owe it to them and ourselves.   Drawing on the dynamics of herd behavior, students learn how to communicate with their mounts safely and effectively which produces a rich and happy partnership. These principles are applied at all levels of training, whether getting a horse to stand respectfully and quietly while being mounted, executing a half-pass, jumping a log on the trail, or galloping down a stretch of beach.

We strongly believe that neither humans nor horses learn well while fearful or nervous, so each lesson seeks to ensure that the horses are happy and relaxed and that our students leave feeling confident, secure, and pleased with their progress.