Zoe's Story

Friday, 7 October 2011

Pippin, Our Best Kept Secret

Have you ever told a story about a horse that had no scary moments, no naughtiness, no silly stuff? Well, when you have a horse that is just serious about his job, keeps his nose to the grindstone and is simply a pleasure to ride, chances are, he is not part of those stories you tell around the campfire! After 7 years first working with Pippin, then simply enjoying his presence and uncomplicated cooperation, it is time to tell his story.  He is indeed our best kept secret.

 Pippin is the horse that most of our Willing Workers On Organic Farms (WWOOF guests) enjoyed riding.  He is big, handsome and easily steps over the logs, across the creeks, through the rocks and along the cliffs of our usual wilderness rides. He always carried the saddlebags, even when they flapped in the 80 km winds that hit us on ridge tops. Pippin is always the first horse to catch and load; always the one I knew would be fine with a guest; one I would not be concerned about handing off to a new volunteer on our farm.

There is lots to appreciate about the storyless horse, and well actually there also is one really good story to share too.  Mr. Pip went on his first mountain trail ride near the end of the summer when he was three.  I had been riding him all summer around the farm, and felt he was ready for more.  I joined my friends with older horses; one was still a bit green, and the other was a well trained trail horse.  Off we went on one of my favourite trails in Waterton, Blakiston!  We rode for a couple of hours along the spectacular trail with rough bush to the north, and an amazing red and green canyon a significant few metres deep, to the south of the trail - right to the south.  As we rode single file, at a leisurely pace along the cliff I had two significant thoughts.  The first one was, well, this is what I am best at; taking my young horses from the trainer and giving them the experiences that will make them into confident experienced horses.  This is why I hope folks will buy horses from our farm, I will already have (in a safe manner), completed many of the milestones in training like "the first serious trail ride in the mountains."  The other thought was more basic . . . ."I am glad my horses are not suicidal".  As I peered down the cliff, I realized a wrong move at the wrong time, could have serious consequences.  Even a young horse has instincts that will keep him safe, and the rider has to count on those instincts.  Plus this is my "job" as a horse breeder with the goal of offering experienced, well started horses to folks.  It is a pretty darn great job!!

All was well on the return portion of the trail ride.  In fact, it had gone very well.  The older horses role modelled appropriate behaviour for Pippin and he gained in confidence with every new sight, sound and smell.  As we hit the steep canyon again, my one friend and I started up a conversation.  She was not so good at heights, so our discussion distracted her from that.  We were relaxed and heading home at a leisurely walk. The more experienced horse was a ways ahead, and had already disappeared around a bend in the trail.  Then, a bird flew up from the cliff below right up under the nose of my friends horse, just in front of Pippin.

Everything happened at once - the horse in front of Pippin took off at a gallop, and Pippin and I were left alone on the trail.  I pulled him to the north and we stopped in the grassy slope above the trail.  I heard my friend pulling up well out of sight, "I don't know where Heidi is . . . or what happened!".  I asked Pippin to walk again and moved him back to the trail.  With no other horse around, he walked calmly down the trail, around the corner and caught up to the two more experienced horses.

Well done Mr. Pip!  Thank you for being our best trail horse from the start.  Sometimes training just means enabling a horse to do what he is best at . . . makes my job easy!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Luna and Piper and the Stampede Parade!

That is Piper in the middle!
Luna and Wendy downtown Calgary, the way it should be traveled!
Friday, July 8 Luna, Wendy, Heidi and Piper took part in the Calgary Stampede Parade, light horse section!  Both horses were pro's and now boast of being able to deal with streets lined with 400,000 people,  army tanks, fighter planes and fireworks to name a few of the more interesting things.  We proudly rode past the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate.  I have always said, an event like the Stampede Parade is one of the most challenging things you can ask a horse to do.  We were proud to have participated and that the horses behaved so well; nothing seemed to phase them!  Luna and Wendy looked so great all decked out in the buckaroo gear.  Nicole and Heidi spent a few hours under the hot sun shampooing and grooming the two horses and putting the finishing touches on their tails and mane. Many thanks to Nicole for taking all the great pictures!

Heidi and Piper waiting at the start!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Team Riding in Wainwright

Strydr and Nicole riding in our Canadian Horse Drill Team on Canada Day, 2011
photo courtesy of Star News, Wainwright 

Team riding is one of my favourite ways to enjoy horses.  It  involves precision riding like dressage, showing off your Canadian horse, working together with a partner, pacing, and performing a pattern with music.  Nothing like a group of horses performing to inspire people to become stewards of the horse. Better yet, horses truly enjoy working as a herd; it is a much more natural way to work with their human partners.  You could say, they love it.  The young horses learn from more experienced horses and gain confidence in new places. Nicole, our WWOOF guest this year, skillfully navigated Strydr with the team, on the grounds of the Wainwright Army Base Canada Day Celebrations!  After only a few practises, Strydr and Piper (AKA Grinner, I think that is us in the back!) were looking for their equine partner from the team, a new horse they had only met during practises. They naturally set the same pace, put the same hoof forward and concentrate - as you can see in this photo!  

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Piper Official Pony of Windy Coulee Canadian Horses

Piper at the Claresholm Gold Dressage Show
Piper pushing the ball in jeopardy trail!
Windy Coulee Piper, our Little Iron Horse mare is competing at dressage this year; with a few parades, horse shows and trail classes thrown in just for fun!  We enjoyed riding the "cutest" horse at the show in Claresholm Gold Show June 11 and 12th; thanks Kathryn for all the support! Piper then headed up to the Anderson Ranch for the Calgary Dressage Gold Show June 24th.  She is competing at training level tests and will continue training and conditioning this fall and winter.  July 1, saw her take part in the Canadian Horse Drill team at the Wainwright Army Base Canada Day Celebrations and the next two days at our annual Canadian Horse Show held by the Canadian Horse Association Rocky Mountain District (CHARMD).  Piper won second place in the mare halter class giving our Windy Coulee breeding program a nice boost of confidence.  This little mare will do pretty much anything, now all that is needed is time to practise!

Click here to follow Canadian Horse Association Rocky Mountain District (CHARMD) Events. 

The Scoop on Strydr

The Scoop on Strydr
Strydr turns five in early August 2011.  The only way to describe him is “Wow, what a horse”!  From day one he was outstanding.  He cantered around Mum and changed leads for fun.  He is named after the Ranger known as Strider from Lord of the Rings (and future King of Middle Earth), but my friends suggested I spell his name differently, hence Strydr.  Strydr trotted around the farm like he owned the place and still has status near the lead of the herd; he is the colt showing off in this short Farm TV segment:fifarmtv.blogspot.com/2006/11/canadian-horse.html.  

Strydr and Emma in Waterton Lakes National Park in 2009

With that confidence also comes a rather showy attitude but also a much appreciated sense of cooperation with his rider.  Brent Trout started him in 2009 on the old Imperial Ranch just east of Rumsey Natural Area.  The great thing about Brent is that he rides his colts outside the round pen in the open range, at the first opportunity.  So with two months of riding across the native prairie of one of Alberta’s historic ranches, Strydr returned home a safe outside horse, ready to learn the lessons of the trail.  He spent the first summer and fall riding outside around the farm and in the mountains improving with every ride.  Our Willing Workers of Organic Farms (WWOOF) guest Emma from France enjoyed riding him.  All involved had fun and enjoyed themselves - this was the time to let Strydr get to know his job, become more confident with riding and gain experience in different situations.  It is so great having WWOOF guests with riding skills because then we can take the youngsters out in the mountains with one of the more experienced mountain horses; a great way to continue the young horses training. 

Strydr at Grande Peaks Ride a Test April 2011
Heidi and Strydr began practicing in arenas and traveling to new places the fall of 2010 where they made “strides” with his arena work.  “Moments of shear magic started to occur during our rides in the local arena, he is such a smooth horse.” That was when Heidi got the grand idea of entering in the Calgary dressage show series Carrots and Cocktails (Equine Canada Bronze level shows) on March 12 and April 16th!  Strydr has gained a very nonchalant attitude about new arena’s - he is calm and seems to enjoy going into the show ring!  He now has an Equine Canada passport.  

Training sessions and clinics through our local dressage club have been great additions to our preparations, and provided us both with confidence and experience riding our training level tests.  It is fun and it is the way we are spending holidays this year, so it better be!

Strydr at the Calgary Dressage Gold Show, June 23, 2011
In Calgary, June 24th, our goals were met and Strydr placed above 60 percent in all three training level tests; test one was a nice high of 68 percent!  A wonderful way to achieve success while enjoying the amazing Anderson facility in south Calgary, literally horse heaven.  With120 competitors in a gold level show, gaining success, even in training level, was very much a big thrill for us!  Dressage is such an interesting sport, every breed and type of horse from ponies to huge warmbloods, sport horses, exotic European breeds, quarter horses, pintos, an appaloosa and yes, three Canadians competing too.
July 4th we returned from the Canadian Horse Association Rocky Mountain District (CHARMD) annual horse show where Strydr won the gelding halter class out of a large group of spectacular horses.   Not only did he show very well in several classes, he took part in the drill team at the Wainwright Army Base Canada Day celebration!

Strydr is for sale to a long term home where he will have opportunities to continue his career working with someone who has various equine sport interests.  I hope to find an equestrian wanting to go somewhere with their talent and who is looking for a calm, athletic, unique equine partner who performs professionally and looks spectacular!  Is Strydr your horse?
Check out our website:  www.windycoulee.ca for contact information!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Welcome and Spring is here!

Welcome to the Windy Coulee Canadian Horse News blog!  Here you will find recent pictures, events, great trail ride stories and horse show and parade highlights.  This spring Heidi, Strydr and Piper aka "Grinner" joined the dressage ring and have been competing at Training level.  Strydr attended his very first show March 12th this year and proved himself worthy of the dressage ring.  We literally took him out of the pasture, through a couple of snow drifts, brushed him up and braided him, drove 2 hours to Calgary and took part in the Carrots and Cocktails dressage show.  He still had quite a winter coat, but we achieved our personal goal of behaving well, enjoying ourselves and getting used to a very new and different environment.  Check out the dressage horse.  Not bad for his first show.  I was so proud of him going into the arena with the fancy rails and big flower displays.