Katie's Journal

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Winter Fun

by @ 3:09 am on December 15, 2005.

It’s been far too long since I last blogged. Largely I just haven’t been doing much worth blogging about. It’s been pretty quiet here in WV. My latest project has been teaching Caleb to pull me around on a sled now that the snow has arrived. I’ve been doing a lot of basic ground driving with him – just walking behind him while he was all decked out in his harness to teach him the commands, and get him used to being guided from behind. He was doing really well at that, so I wanted to progress along. The first step was to devise a frame out of PVC pipe, to get him used to dragging something, and also to having the shafts banging along his sides.the way a cart eventually will. Dad and I rigged up a frame, and gave it a whirl.

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The frame didn’t bother Caleb at all. Although we didn’t get much done that first day. We only just slapped it together – no glue or bolts or any such thing. The reason being that I wanted to see if it needed any modifications before we permanently put it together. It didn’t take long for the pieces to start popping apart, but we did just enough to decide it would work just fine. So dad and I bolted everything together, making sure nothing would pop apart, even when I eventually put some weight back there. A few more photos from that day can be found here.

The next step was figuring out what to devise to have Caleb pull me on. I’d checked out various sleds at various stores, and none made me happy. I was thinking about ordering a more expensive water inflatable, since those can be towed, but I didn’t want to do so if we couldn’t find a way to make it work. So I snagged and old foam pool float that mom was just going to throw away anyway. Dad and I drilled holes through it, tied a rope around it, and attached it to the PVC frame with twine.

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The idea seemed to work okay. Caleb, however, wanted no part of it. He did just fine without me on the sled, but once I got on there, he swore there was simply no way to move forward. He’d hop around, and rear, and go sideways. Finally by the end of the day, I got him to go forward 5 or 6 paces before he stopped. That was as far as we got before the rope ripped out of the pool float. But it showed me that the idea at least had merit. More pictures can be found here.

As it happened, we were at Target looking at Christmas lights. I’d at that point pretty much given up on finding a simple plastic sled, but as we were heading for the checkout, I happened to notice sleds down an isle. So I stopped to check them out. Amazingly, they had one that seemed like it would work perfectly. Yay for Target! Dad and I bought some eye hooks and some rope, and rigged up a pulling system we thought would hold well. Try two having Caleb pull me worked out much better. He still acted like a nut ball at first, giving me some serious rears. Unfortunately, mom was warming her hands and didn’t get any pictures of those. Not that it’s at all good he was doing it, but it still would’ve made a nice picture. Anyway, it finally clicked in his little brain that I really wasn’t that heavy after all, and he could actually move forward while pulling me around. So we went cruising some circles around the field for a bit.

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Damn, that’s a fun thing to do. Gets rather cold having snow kicked up in the sled, but I had an absolute ball at it. After playing with Caleb, I went ahead and got Kota-Pony in on the action, hooking him up to the PVC frame for the first time. I know Caleb had harness training when he was 2. While it was a long time ago, he’s at least done more of this stuff before. Kota I know for sure never has, but you’d never know. He’s taking to it like a duck to water, so to speak. 121505_6

Yeah, I know the rein is over the PVC frame in this picture, and it shouldn’t be. I need to adjust the frame to fit Pony better, but it’s serving for now getting him used to this stuff. More pictures from that day are available here.

The next time I tried sledding with Caleb, he did even better. I haven’t been able to convince him to walk while pulling me, and he still does his stupid hops and little rears before he gets moving on occasion, but progress is definitely being made. After I trucked around for a while, mom got in the sled, and went for a ride while I led Caleb around the field and then back down toward the barn. Instead of pictures, dad took a video. It’s about 18mb, so takes a while to download but it’s a fun thing to watch. It can be found here.

As of writing this, yesterday was the last time I’ve been sledding. Stupid me forgot to change the camera battery, so mama only took a few shots. But she did get some nice ones of Caleb.

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After playing with Caleb for a while, I went ahead and hitched up Pony again. By this time the camera battery had died unfortunately, but there you have it. I hooked up the sled behind Kota for the first time (last time I just did the PVC frame, no sled). When I first brought him out of the barn he snorted at it, but once I hooked it up behind him it really didn’t bother him at all. We did a few circles out by the ring, and since he was doing so well, I wanted to try getting some weight in the sled behind him. As I was debating about how to get just a little weight in there, I stepped into the sled, and Kota started up of his own accord. I stopped him, but as he didn’t seem to mind, I settled myself into the sled, and asked him to go. I figured it would be a big production to get him to realize he could move forward while pulling me, but off he went for a few steps. I stopped him, praised him, tried again, and off we went. Didn’t seem to bother him at all to have me back there. Which tells me Caleb is full of it when he says it’s hard to pull me. Kota didn’t want to turn while pulling me around on the sled, but I think that’s mainly because I need to adjust the PVC frame – right now it pokes him in the neck when he tries to turn, so he can’t put his body into the turns and he stalls out. But I think once I fix that up, he’ll do just fine for me. All in all, I’ve been very proud of my horses through this process. They’ve both done really well for me.

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