Here he is with our Grandson, Dennis. This was 2009. I think Dennis may have been 3 years old here. You can see that Lil' Richard is not a Big Horse, but more of a crop out mini. He is somewhere between 33" and 34" at the withers.
He has always been very gentle to be around, but he was our 'teaser' pony for when we bred some mares to our donkey stud. Most of the time he spends his summers grazing areas of the yard that are too rough to mow. He can be happy tied to a tractor and clean up all around it.
This winter I started to mess with him. I worked with him twice in December when we had mild weather. I then worked with him in January and rode him bareback inside the round pen and outside of it.
Then the temps dropped and the weather was pretty awful. I let things slide and yesterday I decided I'd work with him after I'd ridden Siera. [Siera will get her own blog entry.]
I took the bridle that I'd introduced him to last time and put it on him. He chewed and chewed and chewed the snaffle bit. I put the saddle on him and he was very nonchalant about it. That bit kept bothering him.
So I tossed a leg over him and sat in the saddle. I made my noise for 'forward' and he took 5 or 6 steps, I gently took one rein and asked him to turn for me.
He stopped and dropped his head with his neck stiffened.
He then simply lay down.
I couldn't help but laugh as I stepped off to the side. This is one of the reasons I find him so fun. My inseam is 32" so it wasn't like coming off from a 15 hand horse!
I adjusted the saddle and took the bridle off. I put his halter back on and used some twine to make the nose piece smaller. The I jury rigged the large training rope and made reins [sort of] for the halter.
I would normally ride him bareback, but in January, I'd bruised my tailbone while riding my high backboned mule bareback, so I wanted a seat this time. I will sort through and find a much lighter weight saddle to put on Lil' Richard, or more than likely just ride him bareback.
I stepped on again and he was fine. He walked forward at every command and turned as I asked with the lead rope. He and I were bored with the round pen. So we went out to the muddy driveway.
I think it is easier for him to get his feet muddy than me to have to walk in it!
So we rode up and down the bottom of the driveway for a bit. I wanted to see how all of the distractions of the mares and mules whinnying at him would affect him.
I tried the blue bridle again and he refused to go anywhere while chomping.
I eventually took it off and redid the makeshift halter/lead rope contraption.
I guess my thinking is, if he responds so well and doesn't try to run off with this halter contraption, perhaps I'll keep him happy and let him ride that way.
He pretty much ignored the mares and molly mules who fussed and ran back and forth in their pasture. He was working out what I was asking him to do. I asked him to take me over water that was standing in big puddles. He looked the situation over and seemed to just shrug and walked through it.
Here is our Big Shadow in the driveway.
After a few laps up and down the lower drive, I pointed him up the hill towards the ridgetop.
At first he hesitated about leaving the farm, but then I think I heard little gears click and whirl in his brain. His ears went forward and he started to trot up the hill.
Of course this is his escape route if he gets loose or his tie out breaks. He runs up the driveway and out the ridge to another farm. The owner always finds him in the barn with her horses. She opens a stall door and he goes in and gets some sweet feed and hay. We generally get a call early in the morning to come and get him.
He hasn't escaped in a year, but I know that he knows that UP the driveway is on the way to Linda's farm.
Halfway up we stopped. Lil' Richard is not in super pony shape, let's just say he is a bit chunky and soft. He is not used to carrying my weight. I waited and let him catch his breath. He moved forward and pretty quickly we were at the mailboxes.
He checked the mail and decided it was mostly junk.
I let him have a breather at the top of the hill and let him find something to nibble on.
He'd done such a good job, that I led him while carrying my mail back down to the yard. Here is a shot of the saddle I used. It fits him well, but I'm going to try another much lighter one on him.
That is mainly for training right now. I will probably mostly ride him bareback because I don't need assistance to get on him, nor do I need a stump or a bucket.
When we got home, I rode him up to the shed so I wouldn't have to walk in the mud. I unsaddled him and then took the curry and led him to the south side of the house and let him graze on some green grass while I groomed him so more.
The Little Pony that could.
I am having way too much fun with him!