Sunday, June 27, 2021

Frankie Was A Rockstar

When I jokingly said "Go big or go home!" I really didn't think going to the Lexington Carriage Classic would be that "big".  Not the show itself, although it was a nice size show with competitors from quite a few states, but big as in what Frankie would have to handle.

I've shown at the Kentucky Horse Park before, but it was always for Combined Driving Events (CDEs) which were held "out in the country".  Our dressage and cones competitions were on remote polo fields and the marathon all over the back roads and tracks of the cross country course.  

Frankie spent the week "downtown".  He was stabled in a "city" of other horses, carriages of all sorts, shapes and sizes, billowing carriage covers, cars, trucks, golf carts, mopeds, bicycles, heavy equipment, horse drawn tour wagons, the Mid South Pony Club Rally, tractors, mowers, leaf blowers, loud PA announcements, mounted patrol units, tight warm up areas, sand, concrete, pavement, rubber bricks... 

To be honest, I think he had to deal with way more "craziness" than my seasoned horse, Handy, ever faced in all his years toting me around.  I walked him around the afternoon we shipped in and tried to expose him to as much as I could, by his side.  We were even able to walk around the indoor arena for a few minutes.  That evening we hooked him up and drove.  

The next morning we were able to go into the show ring and school before the show started.  I got there early in hopes of being the only one in the ring for at least a few minutes.  It was a noisy place, but he did really well.  As some other drivers joined us he got a little rattled, but remained safe.

The other horses were the most concerning to him and I'm not sure if it was just the noise and excitement of the other horses or if he felt some racetrack pressure and wasn't sure what he was supposed to do.  On several occasions he switched into a pace which makes me think it was more racetrack confusion.

In an attempt to get him to better relax, it was suggested that I drive for a few minutes, leave the arena for a few minutes so he could relax in a "safer" setting and think about everything and then go back in for a few minutes and back out to relax...  This worked great until another horse in the ring blew up and was heading right towards us on his hind legs as we were coming in the gate.

The other driver had zero control of his horse as he leaped and spun.  I had plenty of control, but not enough room to try to turn around to get safely away.  This was a very dangerous situation and I was horrified not only from the fear of injuries, but also that I'd put my young horse in this unbelievable spot.  

All of the sudden the horse took a fortuitous rearing jump to the side and a sliver of room opened up in front of him and I sent Frankie forward!  He charged past the other horse and we were finally safely away.  Handy never faced anything even close to a carriage wreck with another horse.  Carriage wrecks seldom end well.  Frankie's quick action saved the day...and probably so much more.

We drove in two flat classes (group driving, no obstacles) and two (one horse at a time) cones classes.  He was very brave in his first cones class and a bit rattled in the first flat class.  The next day I warmed him up a little differently and between that and him having some more time to think about everything, I could not have been happier with him and we even won a third place ribbon!

We took the cones classes very slow and steady and when I saw one of the pictures below and realized how close the cones were set, I sure didn't feel a bit bad about hitting one.  I'm surprised we didn't hit all 10!  A friend overheard the judge comment favorably about me making a time sacrificing circle to better set up my young horse rather than trying to force a short turn he wasn't ready to make and that made my day.  

There are several fun videos on Instagram and Facebook.  The beautiful pictures here were taken by a good friend and they are wonderful mementos of a fabulous experience that I will treasure forever.  I remember telling Frankie, when we started driving, that Handy had left some mighty big shoes for him to fill.  They are filled.

Of course my biggest thanks goes to Frankie for being such a safe and willing partner, but there were so many folks who came out to help and cheer us on and make this such a great experience.  I am forever grateful.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Old Friends

This a post for anyone who's ever hung on to something thinking "This is something I'm using."...and then "Surely I'll use that again."...and then "Hopefully I'll use that again."...and then "I don't think I'm ever going to use that again...but I can't bear to use it for something else because that's not what it was for."...and then "I guess I'm never going to use that again...but I still can't part with it."...

...and then almost 20 years later you find yourself digging it out from where it's been stored and greeting it like a long lost friend, carefully washing it and packing into your horse trailer with a bunch of other old friends who you thankfully couldn't part with and heading off to a party.

Frankie and I (and a bunch of my old friends :-) are off to the Kentucky Horse Park for the Lexington Carriage Classic.  I had planned to take him to a smaller "practice" show in Ohio, but decided to "go big or go home"...or at least I'll be able go home each night ;-).  

We might not be completely ready for a show like this yet, but we're not far off and I'm extremely proud of Frankie for being so smart, brave and willing to try and proud of both of us for how hard we've worked to get there.  We've had outstanding help along the way!

I'll do my best to post some Instagram "stories" throughout the next few days for anyone who'd like to follow along and at very least post a wrap up post here on the blog.  

Trot on!

Monday, June 21, 2021

It's Time To Dust Off Our "Bikes"

As crazy as it seems, the Tour de Fleece starts this Saturday!  I believe my plan is to spin two pounds of Jared, but there's still a little stewing about that as I have something else that's also super tempting.  More about that later.

This year's team mascots are the Lamb Camp Kiddos and their mommas.  As always there is a team thread on our Ravelry page, but the Tour is open to everyone.  If you aren't on Ravelry, you can post updates in the comments here if you'd like.  There might be prizes ;-).

It's time to dust off our wheels and make some yarn!  Who's in?

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Gate Runners

It goes without saying that all sheep will run out an open gate.  For a sheep, there is nothing better than racing out to a fresh field or busting into the barn hoping to find an open bale of hay or feed bag.  If they see an open gate...they're out it. 

Only a few sheep will think to check a closed gate.  An even fewer will try to figure out a way to unlatch a closed gate.  Most sheep can figure out how to push open a "closed", but unlatched gate.  Only a rare few can figure out how to pull an unlatched gate towards them to open it.  

Murphy is a serial gate opener.  He can spot an unlatched chain from probably 25' away and I think takes great pride in that.  He can manipulate a push through gate with ease and is also adept at wedging his pointy head into a tiny crack at a stall door and pushing those open as well.  

Woolliam was exceptionally good at using his foot to pull a gate towards him and B. Willard has reached master status with that as well.  Willard is also notorious for using his foot to bang a latched gate long enough that I finally give up and open it for him.

Cheeto and Short Round would never think to check for an unlatched gate, but another gate runner :-/.  She figured out quickly that the yard was quite fun and never misses an opportunity to take everyone on a walk-about.  I don't know if she taught Christopher to do the same or if it's genetic.  He will walk away from the feed trough if he thinks he can go exploring.

Possum's not thrilled about it either.

Friday, June 11, 2021

I Didn't Get A Frog Today...Yet

The first morning without Salt, I found a "gifted" dead frog on the house porch.  I was sad about that because I love frogs, but didn't really think much more about it.  Yesterday morning I found another dead frog on the Wool House porch.  As I sat on the porch this morning I heard the tell tale sounds of "Hey, I have a fresh kill for you.  Come get it. Murrmeow..."

Full disclosure, Possum did bring me a dead mole a couple weeks ago, so it may just be a new phase she's in...but I more wonder if she had been bringing stuff to Salt every morning...

Thursday, June 10, 2021


I've given up trying to figure out why Blossom aka Baba has to crawl under the fence each morning, but this picture will make a fun puzzle :-).

Tuesday, June 8, 2021


I wish the last picture I'd taken of Salt had been of her and Possum, but Possum was oddly not around like normal this morning.  I think she knew.  

She had to have known Salt was in trouble in the early hours of the morning.  I got there at 6:00.  She'd been sleeping peacefully at the night check.  I always talked about putting a game camera on the porch so I could see what time she got up and came to the house each morning.  I think she must have tried to get up around 4:30 or 5:00.  

I got her back on her feet and we slowly walked out to the driveway and stood together and watched the sun rise.  Neither of us had much to say.  I think we all knew.  


2005-June 8, 2021

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Teenage Lamb Camp

Photographing these California Reds is always a highlight of Lamb Camp. They are such beautiful and interesting sheep and they make great puzzles ;-). 

 It's a shame they aren't friendly ;-).

Morgandell Farm, Cynthiana, Kentucky

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

The Lightning Round

For installment three of our summer online horse show series I decided to set up a small cones course.  Cones are not only fun, but they are also a great way to practice steering as you have to actually make the prescribed turns, not just turn when it's convenient.  Cones are part of both Combined Driving Events and Pleasure Driving shows.

Frankie and I have only driven cones a few times and never an actual pattern, mostly just turning through whichever cones were "convenient" ;-).  I set up a simple course with easy, flowing turns and only a couple tougher lines or turns to challenge both of us.  I wanted it to be fun for Frankie, like a game, and to build his confidence.

We warmed up a few minutes and then got ready to start the video.  "I'm going to do the first trip around just slow and steady.  We'll go faster on the second round."  The first trip was...slow and steady.  I knew it was slow, but I was happy with how smoothly we'd driven.  "Okay, this time we'll go fast!"

Note to time we do this only Stella gets to watch and Leslie and Derek have to video.  The rest of the peanut gallery with their barely disguised silent laughing and the out loud laughing...

"I'm giving it all I've got, Captain!"

"It's the pedal on the right!"

"Be careful!"

Despite my best efforts, the second round...was as excruciatingly slow as the first one.  Honestly, even I had to laugh.  Stella said we did a good job though, which...for a green horse, we really did.  It was just hilariously slow, especially for an ex-racehorse.  

"Let's try one more time.  Come on Frankie.  You can do it!"

It still looks pretty slow, but it's waaaay faster then the earlier attempts ;-).  


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