Riding Lessons and More in Central Virginia

Monday, August 30, 2010

Happy Trails

Terrific trail rides over the last several days - we took advantage of cooler temperatures and less humid weather. After drawing a little more attention from the mares than we wanted as we ventured around the far back field, Zender and Chubbs made a sweep of the lower cross-country jumps. Each horse also put in a fine leap across the stream, which was running high due to a late afternoon downpour. A couple days later, Chubbs faced the stream again with a less experienced rider who does not jump. Or maybe she does now - despite my successful effort with Zender to give a walk-through-the-water lead, Chubbs still sprang across from a standstill! Henry, bringing up the rear with another novice, was a good sport to step through gently and steadily. Fortunately, I had instructed Chubbs' rider to grab mane "just in case," and this proved excellent advice as she landed securely in the saddle, grinning and exclaiming, "My first jump! My first jump!"

Friday, August 27, 2010

It's hard for me to believe that our local kids have already been back in school for three weeks - somehow that just seems waaaay too early! But it's a reminder that fall is coming. And I'm pleased to announce that EKF will be providing Pony Rides at the Louisa County Parks and Recreation Fall Harvest Festival, at Walton's Park in Mineral, on October 2. That might sound like a long way off, but it's actually just five weeks from tomorrow. The Mineral Farmers' Market is moving to Walton's Park for that day too, so it will be a genuine celebration of the harvest. I'm planning to bring Misty and Krispy Kreme, perhaps with manes braided and saddle pads decorated in autumn colors. Nutmeg the friendly bunny might even make an appearance, if I can create a pen that lets little folks pat her easily, but doesn't let her escape - hmmm. Our older riders will help out with pony handling and crowd control!

Friday, August 20, 2010

If you have visited the farm, you know what a beautiful place it is - with space on both sides of Duckinghole Creek, open fields, a small stream with deep mossy banks, rolling woods and wetlands. And if you've met me, you've probably heard me talk about finding crawfish houses in the low spots, photographing butterflies around the wildflowers, and seeing Mrs. Turkey-Lurkey sneak her pullets across the meadow's edge.

I realized the only way to share all these experiences - without taking space away from our riders' accomplishments - was to begin a new blog. It's called Easy Keeper Farm and Field. You can also click through by viewing my complete profile from this page. Continue coming here to get the latest news on trail rides, lessons, and new faces; and enjoy Farm and Field to relax with scenes and stories from the great outdoors.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Two new students joined our program this week, and it's exciting to watch "Team Easy Keeper" grow. The senior lady ponies, Misty and Krispy Kreme, were the featured mounts as these little riders are just 7 and 5 years old. The older girl has just about mastered posting and shows a beautiful two-point position. In fact, she does enough trotting that I am pulling out the lunge line - I can only jog so many laps around the ring next to the pony! The younger girl is a brand-new horse fan, but so confident and comfortable on Krispy that I'm sure she'll progress very quickly (and she loooved being taller than her mom while up in the saddle). Best of all, these girls were perfectly responsible about taking care of the ponies and equipment before and after their rides.

We have a nice distribution of ages and experiences now, so some folks are just getting started, some are working on trotting, others have begun to canter, and toward the older range we're practicing interesting jump courses. We've ridden almost all the schoolhorses in lessons, including Misty, Krispy, Shadow, Belle, Henri, Ginger, Chubbs, Wizard, Chester, and Pungo, with me riding Zender for the trail riding lessons.

Tomorrow, a grandfather is bringing his grandkids to the farm for pony rides, so perhaps we'll sign up even more students before my next post!

Monday, August 2, 2010

The summer program started today and we worked on a little bit of everything around the farm. The bunnies are always the first stop in the morning, feeding and putting them out in their runs; next filling the bird feeders and helping Gretchen chase away the squirrels; then grooming and riding (of course). The sheep were due for deworming today, so we all drove up to Dr. Hussman's farm office around the corner and came back with medicine and syringes (the easy part), then corralled the sheep in the top barn, caught them one by one and administered the subcutaneous injections (the hard part)! The campers had quite a time trying to catch each sheep without literally butting heads with Pepper! But we all had a good sense afterwards that we had given the animals some important health care.

Speaking of Dr. Hussman, she was on the scene for the "Old-Timers Class" at the Louisa County Agricultural Fair last weekend, and she and her fellow vet Dr. McCall are big supporters of the 4H Livestock Club. The Fair was a real treat, with the 4H and FFA kids proudly showing their animals, little kids participating in the mutton bustin' ewe-riding event, alpacas stationed near our booth and yummy fair food everywhere you turned. The Easy Keeper Farm display (above) attracted plenty of attention, so hopefully we'll have some new riders coming out soon.