April 7, 2013

Hoosier Horse Fair

Where do I start?

How about with the fact that I rode Connor through crowds of spectators this weekend?  (The same pony that took me halfway across the field a year ago when my friend walked up to me with a bottle of water!)  How about with the way he got progressively more comfortable with the ride every day, until by Sunday he was almost 100% focused on me?  With the dozens of kids I opened the stall door for so they could pet him?  With how much it meant to be me to be able to care for my own horse for four straight days?

"Helping" tear down.
The truth is, this weekend was so good for both of us, I could start anywhere.  On Friday, I didn't get a warmup, and our ride was not great - he was braced and whinnying as we went around the arena, and looking hard at every stroller we passed.  But on Saturday, we went with the half-Cob driving pony a half mile down the road on the State Fairgrounds campus, in traffic, and got a nice long warmup in a grassy field. Saturday's ride was the best - he started out with a whinny again, but quickly focused on me, and we even got a really nice canter and a loose rein pseudo-stretchy trot right past the bleachers.  Go pony!  By Sunday's ride, he didn't whinny once and seemed to know what his job was.

This weekend taught me that he's growing out of his baby behaviors, and I need to stop anticipating that he's going to react to things like people walking straight up to him.  There were times that I was more nervous than he was, like when a guy in a cowboy hat walked straight up to him and petted him when we were standing in the lineup waiting to go in the ring.  That would have sent old Connor scrambling, but grownup Connor stood there like a gentleman.  He also handled riding past spooking horses, 18 hand 6 horse Percheron hitches, an Appaloosa in full native dress (mirrors, beads etc), and lots of other crazy sights.  He still had his moments and was always keenly aware of his surroundings, but never lost his head.  Mostly, he just looked around and took it all in.

Don't worry, his breeder was in the stall with them.
I overhead a couple other Welsh breeders remark about how personable he became over the weekend, and another Welsh club member told me he won her Mr. Congeniality award for the weekend.  An 8 year-old-girl unexpectedly hugged his chest and then his head when he was standing in the aisle and he lowered his head to hers and then "hugged" her (yes, pictures are coming!).  A baby grabbed his halter while in her mom's arms.  Three young boys had their hands all over him in his stall.  Through all of it, his ears were pricked and he was content and relaxed.  This happened over and over all weekend.  About the only time his ears weren't pricked was when he was laying down in his stall sleeping, which was often.

Morning walk after a bath

My favorite moment happened after the event was over, almost all the horses were gone, and it was just Connor and I alone in his stall waiting on the trailer.  He stood there nuzzling me, so I scratched his withers, and then he started licking and working his lips gently all over both my arms.  That, and the hearty nicker I got almost every time I walked up, makes me think that we got closer than ever this weekend.

(Okay, my other favorite moment was when we were riding in traffic and two African-American guys in a car with big rims and the bass thumping pulled over to ask what was up with Connor's 'haircut'.  I gave them the best explanation I could as Connor pranced, grew a few inches and breathed fire beneath me!)

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who voted for us and came out to see us!  The Welsh didn't win the trailer, but I think Connor and I won so much with this experience, and learned a lot about ourselves. I'm excited to see where we go from here.


  1. Yah! I'm so glad you guys had a good time. Connor really is growing up. Just think of all of the fun things that are ahead for you guys.

  2. I am not surprised he was so good, but I am glad you both had fun. All our cobs have handled the hectic show situations really well. I think you and Connor are going to have a great year.

  3. So glad the two of you had a fabulous weekend! I'm sure you will have a lot of fun this summer:)

  4. It sounds like an amazing experience. I am so glad you were able to bond so much with him. What a good boy he was.

  5. What a super bonding experience! His canter looked so smooth on Saturday and to get a long rein - awesome!

  6. Sounds like a real Growing Up weekend for himself and a Bonding weekend for you.
    Excellent! It'll really stand to you when you start competing :)

  7. Yay Connor! Sounds like he was a perfect ambassador of the Welsh Cob breed this past weekend. I know you are proud!

  8. Awesome! Sounds like a great weekend. :)

  9. So... I already commented on one of your posts, but I'll post on this one too since this is why I'm here ;)

    My friend and I went to Hoosier Horse Fair on Saturday. We were walking through the Blue Ribbon arena during your demo and could only hear a tiny bit about one of the riders being a SMWC student. Later on, we found Connor and I had to take a pic of his beautiful head because my son's name is Connor. I know of Castleberry through someone else and wasn't surprised that he was a Castleberry pony. I did a Google search this morning and here I am. I've enjoyed paging through your blog and your adventures :)