Friday, January 16, 2009

Trail and Donkey Riding!

My friend at work's Daughter Kayla came over this last Saturday to do some mule and donkey riding with me.

Claudia came and brought her really cool Black TWH and rode with us in the moring for about 2 1/2 hours.
When we got back Claudia wanted to try riding Chester my donkey! So we tacked him up!
She liked his long ears and his funny swinging gait! She said next time she came she would have to try a longer trail ride!
Kayla and I picked up a quick lunch and then headed out on the trail again. This time with Kayla riding Chester! She did very well with him. On the 1 hour ride I only had to have Seven Pony him 4 times to get Chester moving again! Not too bad!

Seven Makes The Paper!

The Pilot - Southern Pines, NC, Local News Paper - Weekly HoofBeats Article by Patrica Smith

PATRICIA SMITH: An Odd Place To Meet a Mule SkinnerI went over to the Pinehurst Harness Track Jan. 4 expecting to cover the Dressage show only to find out it was cancelled due to the storm earlier that morning (which produced just enough lightning to take out my electric fence, phone line and Internet connection.)
A few competitors showed up who didn't get the message that the show was cancelled and decided to take the opportunity to school their horses.
But wait a minute. Is that equine with the big ears I see schooling in the field a horse?
No, it was a Belgian mule owned by Shannon Hoffman of Zebulon. If her name sounds familiar, it is because Shannon is the Administrative Support Person for the Equine Health Program at the College of Veterinary Medicine at N.C. State University.
Shannon brought her 12-year old john (gelding) mule to compete in the show. (Female mules are called molly mules.) Lucky Number Seven (Shannon purchased him when he was 7 years old for $700, hence the name) already has one win under his belt. He won an Intro B class at the Raleigh Schooling Show Dec. 20.
Come to find out, Dressage is one of three United States Equestrian Federation recognized disciplines that allows mules to compete. The other two disciplines are driving and endurance competitions. (Mules may compete in Dressage with the exception of USEF Championships, qualifying and selection trials, and international classes.)
Who knew?
Seven also ground drives. Shannon uses him to drag her pastures. Now there is a saving in gas for your tractor.
And apparently mules are cost-saving in other areas as well. Mules could very well be the answer for the current economic downturn.
Shannon says she feeds her four mules for what it costs to feed one horse. Mules eat 1/3 to 1/2 less hay than horses. They have very hard feet, though she does put shoes on them if trail riding over rocks and rough ground.
Shannon shared some other interesting facts about mules.
"They live 5-10 years longer than horses. Mules are 2-3 times stronger than horses. They do spook like horses but tend not to turn and run like horses. They have a keen sense of self-preservation so if they see a hole in the ground they will avoid it."
So exactly what is a mule like Lucky Number Seven's family of origin?
His father was a donkey and his mother was a (Belgian) horse.
Mules are sterile because they are a hybrid between two species. (For you biology majors, a donkey has 62 chromosomes and a horse has 64 chromosomes. A mule ends up with 63 chromosomes.)
You can design your own mule by picking any breed of horse and mating it with any breed of donkey. (Donkeys come in any size, color and shape and can even be gaited, according to Shannon.) The mule hybrid can grow bigger than both of its parents.
Just think, a 17-hand spotted Warmblood mule could be in your future if you're really serious about catching the Dressage judge's eye.
What do horses think about mules? Some like 'em, some don't -- mainly because mules smell different.
"I am very happy to work with people who need to expose their horses to mules so that when they get to the big shows a mule will not be a new thing to them. This is what these schooling shows are all about," says our newfound mule skinner friend.

The story is reprinted by permission of The Pilot, a newspaper in Southern Pines, N.C

Seven's New Dressage Bridle

With some Christmas cash from my wonderful Aunt and a little added I was able to get Seven this nice Dressage bridle! Claudia helped my pick which bridle would work well on Seven and then we addred a brow band with some bling! This is the newset thing in the Dressage world! Now we just have to RIDE UP to it!

Christmas Break? No rest for those having fun!

Spend a few great days with my family in Virgina for Christmas! I got to meet my friend Cricket and her Husband Joe's baby girl Charley! Too Cute! I also made my yearly visit to see Cricket's 30 year old horse Merlin! Still going strong!
I had to return home because my mulesitter was leaving to see her family. I returned on the 27th and then rode with my friend Jane on the 28th around the farm. Then we met Claudia and Jack for a ride at Goldmine in Louisburg. Claudia borrowed Sadie Mae for the ride to try mule trail riding! Jane was ready to ride way before us so she and Val read Western Mule Magazine while they waited! Claudia and I got our photo taken in front of an old plantation house just off from the trails.

The next morning Seven and I took off for Holly and Bruce Fisher's in Columbus, NC. After the fiver hour drive we rode the trails for four and a half with Holly's friend Bob. We had a nice dinner and then hit the bed early! Wednesday is was very cold and extremly windy. We rested and I did some clipping and grooming on Seven! At 3Pm that afternoon we headed over to a lovley arena to meet Gretchen VerBonic a high level dressage Judge who Holly had gotten me a lesson with. She was very open to Seven being a mule and gave us a lot to work on! She gave Seven a very good complement when she said that she likes his True trot. She also liked his Canter, when I did not get in his way!
Thank you Holly and Gretchen for this wonderful oppertunity!

I finished my visit by taking another 5 hour tail ride with Holly and Bob. We rode in an area called Rondo Hill, we came across these Bamboo Trees and I just had to have my photo taken! One of my friends I showed it to told me it looked like Seven and I where deep in the heart of Asia!
After this is was home again and some house work before going back to work to get some rest!