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Posts Tagged ‘Horseworld by the Hour’

24hrsfergus

So many of us know Fergus the Horse, the world’s most popular cartoon horse and a bonafide social media celebrity with over 315,000 followers on Facebook and two books about his adventures. But did you know that his creator, the wit behind the Fergus comics that bounce around the globe, isn’t a full-time artist? Every summer Jean Abernethy packs her saddle bags, loads her half-Arabian Willow, and heads to South Algonquin Trails in Harcourt, Ontario, Canada, where she spends several months leading guided trail rides into the Algonquin Provincial Park, 2,955 astoundingly beautiful square miles of Crown Land.

Here Jean shares with us her typical day “on the trail,” with lots of fly spray, ponies who defy grazing muzzles, and plenty to be thankful for.

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4:30 am  An empty log truck hits its engine brakes out on the paved road less than 300 yards from my cabin. It’s slowing for the turn up Kingscote Road.  They’re logging up there this summer… drift back to asleep…

6:00 am (and a couple of trucks later)  Alarm sounds. Hit two buttons: ”snooze,” and coffee maker.

6:10 am  Dawn is my favorite time. Up, dressed, coffee in hand, I grab my pony’s breakfast bucket from the pump house, and check one water trough on my way to the kitchen house where the cream and sugar is. Loons are calling overhead. I sip my coffee in the quiet dawn while Willow eats. Start breakfast in my skillet on the stove, and start a load of saddle cloths in the washer behind the kitchen house.

Dawn is Jean's favorite time. Here the South Algonquin Trail horses have breakfast in the morning fog.

Dawn is Jean’s favorite time. Here the South Algonquin Trail horses have breakfast in the morning fog.

7:00 am  Juggling chores, filling two water tanks, running the washer, hanging clean saddle cloths on the fence. Open the office, sweep, check the book for today’s trail rides and camp kids.  Check and top up the mineral buckets in the paddocks.  Check big bales in the paddocks and remove strings for safety. Open the tackroom, check the dry erase board (which should match the book), to see which horses are needed for the day. …walking…walking…

7:45 am  Slip a halter on Willow, groom and tack her up. Tie her in the trees to wait until she is needed. I tell her I’m proud of her. She finds validity in the routine here and does this work well. Once tied, she cocks a leg and dozes off. I open the road gate.

Willow, being a good pony, waiting to go to work.

Willow, being a good pony, waiting to go to work.

8:00 am  My friend and employer Tammy arrives with her daughter Jocelyn and an assortment of other help: Jesse, a high school senior and brilliant young equestrian, and there might be others who jump out of the truck…siblings or young teens volunteering for the summer. We gather horses from the paddocks into the yard, grooming and saddling to prepare for the “Camp Kids” and scheduled rides on the trails. Tacked-up horses are tied in the trees until needed.

Rodney & Dwayne arrive.  These young men help out here when they can.  There might be a tree down across the trails out there somewhere. We’ll send them out into the bush on the 4-wheeler with a chainsaw. Or, we might need them to sink a new tie-post in the yard or guide a ride with us.

9:00 am  The “Camp Kids” show up.  There might be 3, or 6, or more…we share up the tasks of getting them started with their grooming tools, instructions, and assigned horses. They will have a riding lesson and trail ride before noon. This also means supervising our young volunteers. Safety and savvy are the biggest lessons. So is stamina. I hand it to Tammy.  She creates opportunity here at SAT, for a lot of kids to learn real stuff!

The "Camp Kids," learning real horse stuff!

The “Camp Kids,” learning real horse stuff!

10:00 am  It’s getting hot. Flies are buzzing, horses stomping.

Guests arrive for the first scheduled trail ride. As they check in with Tammy in the office…payments, waivers, helmets…we, the crew in the yard, prepare the horses. Put their bits into their mouths and tighten girths. And apply fly repellent. Lots of fly repellent. We put our guests on, give them some instruction, and head out. Willow and I go in front, and another guide is in back. For 6 or more riders, it’s nice to have a guide in the middle, too. A ride could be 30 minutes to 4 hours. This one is 2 hours.

11:00 am  The shade of the bush protects us from the sun. First horse gets the worst of the flies. I’ve cut a 5-foot leafy Maple branch to sweep flies off my horse, Willow, ears to tail. After the first hour, I feel “welded” into my saddle. Bliss. I chat with our guests, telling them a little history of our Provincial Park, or just let them enjoy the sights and sounds of the woods.  I watch for tracks and point them out whenever possible. It’s exciting to see fresh moose tracks, but I watch Willow’s ears, and silently pray there will be no moose, only tracks. (I don’t like putting people back on!)

12:00 pm  We ride back into the yard as the “Camp Kids” are finishing up.  Most of our guests have very little riding experience, so we joke with them as they dismount: “You’ll only walk funny for 3 days.” They drive out of the yard happy, with a recommendation for the nearest ice-cream vendor, hiking, or fishing spot.  They’re summer people on holidays, and we do all we can to add to their fun.

12:30 pm  I check with Tammy about the rental cabin. Some folk haul their own horses up here, stay in the cabin on SAT property, and ride the trails out in the Crown Land just beyond SAT’s back fence. The cabin beds need to be fresh, campfire pit tidy and inviting, stalls and turnout pens clean. I’ll do what needs to be done.

Grab my laptop from my cabin for a moment to check emails, and check up on Fergus’s progress on social media.

1:00 pm  Babysitting the horses tied in the yard, making sure that no one is stepping on dangling reins, or chewing his neighbor’s saddle. We’re re-applying fly repellent, offering them drinks at the trough. The guests for the next ride check in. In fact, it’s two families, so we’ll take them out together…bits in, girths tightened, and off to the mounting platform. Oh my goodness! I lead Black Horse (name changed to protect the innocent) to the platform. Guest is wondering which foot to put in the stirrup to mount. So I advise: “Well, do you want to face forward?”

1:20 pm  We ride out. Red Horse, with child aboard, is right behind Willow and me in the line-up. Right beyond the first bridge, Red Horse puts her head into the weeds to eat, despite the muzzle on her face. Rider is helpless. I, and the other guides speak instructions to Rider.  Rider is still helpless. Red Horse eats. Pinto Horse, further back in the line, begins to pee. Rider behind Pinto Horse giggles, then his horse begins to pee, and there is much giggling amid the guests. All 10 horses, given the pause, begin to eat at the edge of the trail. Guest riders do not know how to influence this, nor do they understand how precarious this all is! (Large Mare has a tendency to turn around and go home!)

I sidepass over to Red Horse (thank you, Willow) and hook onto to the halter with a lead line, pony her for a bit , while instructing Rider…who is still helpless. The guides further back speak instructions to all, the horses follow up, and we get the whole procession moving again. Deep sigh. Jocelyn (always smiling) tells a little girl that she must not whine because it upsets her pony. The girl stops whining. The pony is indifferent. Jocelyn is a star!!

Willow and Jean leading a guided trail ride.

Willow and Jean leading a guided trail ride.

2:20 pm  We ride back in. All hands on deck to get these folks safely dismounted and horses made comfortable until the next ride.

2:30 pm  A family drives in, unscheduled, wanting pony rides. We oblige. Quick tack change to swap out for a pony saddle…skee-daddle to the paddock for the wee pony who wasn’t  brought in earlier, and we hand-walk two ponies on the pony trail at the edge of the woods.  One child is utterly charming, parents following and cooing…the other child cries. Ten minutes later there is no crying, photos are taken, memories made, children lifted off…ponies’ girths loosened…

3:00 pm  It’s hot. We’re tired and hungry. As the next holiday folks pull into the yard in expensive cars, we are all on the office porch sucking popsicles, swatting flies, and eating Doritos. Good God! Three people want 3 hours of trail ride, no riding experience, and they’ve showed up in shorts and flip-flops! Is there a Patron Saint of Trail Riders I can pray to?

Tammy’s brilliant! She has various chaps & boots on hand…waivers…helmets…we put them on, and ride out. I like the 3-hour ride. Haven’t been up to Gut Rapids for 3 days. I love this trail! Folk like this seem to be expecting a ride at the fair—you know, where you get in, clasp your hands on something solid, and wait for the whole experience to happen. We make some effort to express to them that they can communicate cues to their mount. Penny does not drop. The horses are stars. They tote these folks out, relying on each other, nose-to-tail, and we even make it through the water crossing without anyone balking or turning around!

At the Gut Rapids tie-up, we dismount them, tie the horses to trees, and take the folks for a 5-minute hike to the rapids. They admire the scenery, take a photo, eat a snack…then we walk them back and put them on, using “mounting rocks.”  Of course all of the horses become 10 years younger when walking home! This is when the guests ask, “Are we going to gallop?”

Dear God…

4:00 pm  Halfway back…folks are quiet, absorbing the magic of the woods…the sun is warm on my face, flies not so bad on this shady trail… an earthy scent drifts past my nose…Willow walks patiently…raven calls…I am reminded how lucky I am do be doing this…zap back to the moment, and turn around to check that everyone is safe.

Willow and Jean both enjoy the beautiful trails at SAT.

Willow and Jean both enjoy the beautiful trails at SAT.

6:15 pm  We arrive back in the yard, get these folks safely off, and send them cheerily on their way.  They’re laughing, walking funny, and have a whole new respect for horse riding, and for our vast forest. Dwayne, Rodney, and volunteers have gone home. Water tanks need topping up. Horses untacked and turned out.  Sweaty saddle cloths have piled up again…fold and stack the clean ones that have been drying on the fence all day… sweep the porch…pick up in the yard…there’s sand in my boots…

7:00 pm  Tammy’s still in the office working, the girls and I are doing chores. We pause to watch two little red foxes playing about the manure pile. I give Willow her evening meal.

7:30 pm  Tammy’s on the tractor, hefting big squares from the hay barn to the paddocks. We look sharp to work the gates and cut strings off bales.

8:30 pm  Tammy and folks drive out. I smile and wave, shut the gate behind them. I don’t remember what I ate today, make some kind of supper in the kitchen, start Willow’s breakfast soaking for morning, and walk to my cabin. Catch up on my journal. The twilight sky over the treetops is breathtaking! A loon calls.

9:00 pm  I walk down to the yard where Willow is munching hay with her friends. I put my arm over her back and thank her for another day’s work. She chews. There are so many stars overhead that the Milky Way is actually “milky.” Here, we are beyond the city’s light pollution. I might see a falling star or satellite. I wish I could watch it all night, but I am exhausted. I hear a wolf howl, far away…walk back to my cabin, fill my coffee maker, and flop into bed.

 

Jean Abernethy’s new book FERGUS: A HORSE TO BE RECKONED WITH, is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

Click below to watch the trailer:

 

For more information about the South Algonquin Trails, CLICK HERE.

 

Be sure to read the other installments in the TSB “Horseworld by the Hour” blog series:

YVONNE BARTEAU

JONATHAN FIELD

EMMA FORD

JOCHEN SCHLEESE

HEATHER SMITH THOMAS

LYNN PALM

DANIEL STEWART

DOUG PAYNE

JANET FOY

CLINTON ANDERSON

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It’s hard to imagine some people anywhere else but beside or on the back of a horse. Renowned horseman Jonathan Field, author of THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES, is one of those people. The way he moves when playing with his horses at liberty, the way he and his Quarter Horse Hal clear a fence bareback and brideless, these are images of an individual at one with the herd around him.

So what is his “typical” day really like? Is it all running through grassy meadows and viewing vistas from the back of a horse? When it comes right down to it, Jonathan says each portion of his year can be quite different, whether it is one of the 170 days he spends on the road teaching his techniques and presenting his liberty acts at expos and events, one of the summer days spent leading weeklong camps on his James Creek Ranch, or fall when he and his family host clinics at their farm near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. As summer winds down in North America, Jonathan gives us a glimpse of what a day in his life might be like, during the months ahead at the Field Horsemanship Centre.

 

Photo by Robin Duncan.

Photo by Robin Duncan.

 

5:30 am – Wake up, start with a coffee. These days, I wake up about as fast as a Kenworth truck! So…another coffee!

6:00 am – Head across the field to the barn. Start with my young horses. This could be a short (15-minute) training session on the ground with three or four of them, or a few 45-minute rides on a couple. In the middle of a clinic tour, I like to get many short sessions on them each week rather then only a few longer sessions.

7:30 am – Run back across the field for “breaky” with the family—my wife Angie and my two boys Weston (9) and Mason (6). We visit about school and the “happenings” of the day.

8:00 am – 12 Clinic Participants start pulling in for Day 1 of a four-day clinic. Each day runs from 9 to 5. I aim to keep the number of attendees at my clinics at no more than 12 so everyone gets lots of direct hands-on help. I have a wide variety of students—from very new horse owners all the way to riders competing at international levels, and pretty much everywhere in between, in every discipline. Equine-psychology-based foundational training is what many riders need to learn when they encounter issues with their horses. I help people set this foundation—the “rock” they can build their “house” (or horse!) on.

 

Jonathan schooling one of his young horses. Photo by Angie Field.

Jonathan schooling one of his young horses. Photo by Angie Field.

 

9:00 am – Clinic starts with introductions and a session on training and riding theory.

10:00 am – Bring horses into the arena for a two-hour ground-skills session. Our key topic on Day 1 is all about leadership, and we learn how everything we do with our ground training either creates or takes away from a great connection while riding.

12:00 pm – Break for lunch. I am off to my office (thankfully on the property!) for a quick bite and to check in with messages.

1:30 pm – The riding portion of the clinic starts. We focus on three key elements in a Course 1 Clinic: Safety when horses become herdbound, spooky, or otherwise worried; rider equitation; and useful exercises to take home.

 

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3:30 pm – A short break—I like to visit with attendees and have a laugh. Who has some good jokes? (Audience appropriate of course!) Want to hear a couple of my favorites?

What’s the hardest part about learning to ride a horse?

The ground!

What happened to the horse that swallowed a dollar bill?

It bucked!

5:00 pm – As the clinic wraps up for the day, I stick around to help anybody who may need a bit of extra time. I grab a snack if I can.

6:30 pm – I arrive at the Boxing Club. This past winter I took up training in a boxing gym three evenings a week. Why you ask?! I like to try different things and this is something I’ve always wanted to do—maybe because I have always been a bit scared to do it! I’m too old (…38…) to become a real boxer, but the training is very intense, and I love being pushed to try to keep up with the young aspiring boxers (mostly age 16 to mid-20s). Also, I go to the boxing gym with my best friend from kindergarten (yep, you heard that right), and we get to spend some great time together.

 

Jonathan in training at the Boxing Club. Photo by Angie Field.

Jonathan in training at the Boxing Club. Photo by Angie Field.

 

8:00 pm – Arrive home for maybe a light dinner (I try not to fill the tank too full when I don’t need it before bed) and time to spend with the kids and tuck them in and do our nightly reading. We need to get those reading minutes up so we can get a sticker from their class! (Well, so they can get the sticker from their class…)

9:00 pm – Last emails and taking care of any office requirements of the day. Plus, I set up anything I may need for the next day’s clinic.

9:20 pm – Walk through the barn, check the horses, and put out the night feed hay nets.

9:40 pm – I shut off my phone! Now’s time to visit with Angie or maybe we start a movie.

10:30 pm – Headed for bed…

11:00 pm – …hopefully sleeping!

 

Read more about Jonathan Field and discover his horsemanship philosophy and the liberty techniques that can lead to connection with your horse like you’ve never known it before in THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES, available at the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

 

Be sure to read the other installments in the TSB “Horseworld by the Hour” blog series:

EMMA FORD

JOCHEN SCHLEESE

HEATHER SMITH THOMAS

LYNN PALM

DANIEL STEWART

DOUG PAYNE

JANET FOY

CLINTON ANDERSON

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International trainer and riding instructor Daniel Stewart is widely considered one of the world’s leading experts on equestrian sport psychology, biomechanics, and athletics. He teaches clinics and seminars to thousands of riders each year and is a popular guest speaker at many national and international conventions. Right now Daniel is in the middle of his annual summer clinic tour, featuring the popular “Pressure Proof” Clinics based on his fabulous and fun book PRESSURE PROOF YOUR RIDING.

Daniel’s summer tour has sold-out stops at farms from California to Maine. We are blown away by his seemingly boundless energy and positivity, even while he’s crisscrossing the country and pressure-proofing the masses! He always has a smile and a laugh at the ready, and we don’t know how he does it!

Check out Daniel’s typical day on the road, the fourth installment in TSB’s “Horseworld by the Hour” blog series.

 

24hrDS

A TYPICAL DAY ON THE PRESSURE PROOF SUMMER TOUR

5:00 a.m.  Wake up by mistake and smile because I still have another hour to sleep!

5:30 a.m.  Still smiling.

6:00 a.m.  Wake up and get ready to work out (the smile’s gone away a bit now…)

6:30 a.m.  Have a light breakfast of yogurt and fruit.

7:00 a.m.  Cardio and weight training (light weights and lots of repetitions so I can keep my girlish figure).

7:30 a.m.  Return to my hotel room—Yay, my workout’s done!

8:00 a.m.  Have a shower so that I can be clean when I get dirty at the barn.

8:30 a.m.  Have a second breakfast full of protein because it’s going to be at least 4 or 5 hours before I see a fork again!

9:00 a.m.  Drive from the hotel to the venue hosting my clinic.

9:30 a.m.  Welcome my clinic riders for the day.

10:00 a.m.  Teach a Pressure Proof Clinic to 4 intermediate horses and riders.

10:30 a.m.  Riders start doing situps because they’re scoring too many faults in my clinic!

11:00 a.m.  Teach a Pressure Proof Clinic to 4 advanced horses and riders.

11:30 a.m.  I oversee more situps because there are more faults!

12:00 p.m.  Teach a Pressure Proof Clinic to 4 novice horses and riders.

12:30 p.m.  Still more situps. The riders are having a hard time standing up now!

 

On tour, Daniel spends many hours a day in the ring, coaching riders.

On tour, Daniel spends many hours a day in the ring, coaching riders.

 

1:00 p.m.  Riding lessons (and situps) are done for the day.  Time to untack and eat a healthy lunch of wraps, fruit, and veggies with my clinic riders.

1:30 p.m.  Prepare and begin to teach my “confidence boosting” seminar to a room full of awesome riders.

2:20 p.m.  Still talking. Take a minute to finally take a breath because I talk so fast. Wrap up my seminar with a Q&A. Most common question: “Coach Stewart, why do you wear white pants when you teach in a dirt arena?”

2:30 p.m.  Sit down (for the first time in 5 hours) for my book signing of my book PRESSURE PROOF YOUR RIDING and rider fitness DVD E3: Extreme Equestrian Exercises.

3:00 p.m.  Say a big goodbye to the riders and thank the clinic organizer for all her hard work.

3:30 p.m.  Begin my drive to the venue where I’ll be teaching another great clinic tomorrow.

4:00 p.m.  Get lost on the way.

4:30 p.m.  Get found on the way.

5:00 p.m.  Get lost again.

5:30 p.m.  Arrive at the hotel. Yeah!

 

One of the most common questions asked in Daniel's seminar Q&A: "Daniel, why do you wear white pants when you teach in dirt arenas?"

One of the most common questions asked in Daniel’s seminar Q&A: “Daniel, why do you wear white pants when you teach in dirt arenas?”

 

6:00 p.m.  Skype with my wife and children—they miss their papa!

6:30 p.m.  Have a healthy dinner: Lots of protein, fruit, and veggies.

7:00 p.m.  Prepare for an hour of returning emails and booking flights and hotels for the next stops on the clinic tour.

7:30 p.m.  Can’t find any flights or hotels that I can afford so I keep looking.

8:00 p.m.  Finally decide to book the expensive flights and hotels because that’s all there is!

8:30 p.m.   Shut the computer off and turn on the TV.  Get ready Weather Channel, here I come!

9:00 p.m.  Watch my favorite show, MTV’s Ridiculousness (people do the dumbest things!!)

9:30 p.m.  Try watching my show but can’t seem to keep my eye’s open… must… not… fall… asleep…

10:00 p.m.  Fall asleep reminding myself how lucky I am to be able to repeat this wonderful day 49 more times in the next 58 days!!!

10:30 p.m.  Nobody home.  Smile still on my face though…

 

 

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

PRESSURE PROOF YOUR RIDING by Daniel Stewart is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A FREE EXCERPT

“Daniel’s enthusiasm is infectious, and his attitude toward emotional challenges makes having nerves and insecurities seem so normal—and so manageable.” —Leslie Threlkeld, Editor, Eventing USA

 

Read the other installments in TSB’s “Horseworld by the Hour” blog series:

Doug Payne

Janet Foy

Clinton Anderson

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