JUST KEEP SWIMMING

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Yesterday off the coast of Virginia, a school of sea horses made their way to shore.  It actually doesn’t sound all that newsworthy, until you see the photos that accompany the headline…

 

 

The annual Chincoteague Pony Swim is a beloved spectacle on the Virginia coastline.  This year marks the 92nd.  Now well organized and managed by the respective local authorities, in the days leading up to the swim, the “Saltwater Cowboys” begin rounding up the herd and settling them in to their starting corral.  In an effort to keep the feral herd to a safe number, ponies are selected for sale from the herd on a yearly basis as well.  The ponies are vetted prior to their swim day, after which they get a chance to catch their breath before being paraded through town.  The auction follows the next day, where lucky buyers can purchase their own living breathing history.

 

 

More detailed information can be found on a number of websites.  I found the complete schedule here:  http://www.chincoteague.com/pony_swim_guide.html  Several news stations also report on the event, http://www.abc2news.com/news/news-photo-gallery/the-82nd-annual-chincoteague-pony-swim  This is definitely an event I want to add to my bucket list!

 

Legends say the ponies of Chincoteague and Assateague islands descend from the horses brought over from Spanish ships in the 16th-18th centuries.  More likely they’re a result of 17th-century colonists looking to escape livestock laws and taxes on the mainland.  Possibly a happy marriage of both.  However their story began, it’s still one that locals and visitors enjoy the re-telling of every year.  For me, it’s a combination of things I love, horses and the sea, and I can’t wait to see it in person some day!

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PHOTO GALLERY: THE DECONSTRUCTION OF A BUDWEISER CLYDESDALE HITCH

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And it can happen faster than you can have a Domino’s pizza delivered.  We missed their arrival and hitching for the parade honoring the Newark area veterans, and their Hometown Heroes program.  Families can purchase banners that will hang on light poles in downtown Newark, honoring their veterans.  Matesich Distributing, and Budweiser supported the event with their Mid-West hitch’s appearance.

http://www.newarkadvocate.com/story/news/local/2017/07/14/hometown-heroes-budweiser/480328001/

 

In the time we were there, the hitch arrived back at their three custom trailers around 3:30 in the afternoon, and were ready to hit the road by 4:00 on the way to their next appearance.  To say it’s impressive, to watch the break-down of such an icon, is an understatement.  The horses and their handlers make it look downright easy…

 

Their custom rigs, ready and waiting

Arrival at the parking area

Coming to rest

Classic white, feathered feet

Enjoying a nice neck stretch

Clyde is safely returned to land

One by one, unfastened from the wagon

Each patiently waiting their turn (notice not even being held)

Harness to the left, horses to their trailers on the right

Up the ramp, into the shady trailers where fans wait to cool them down

Are we ready to go yet?

Hey, where’s my hay?

Getting sleepy

Once the horsepower is safely stowed, handlers remove ribbons and rosettes from the manes and tails

Finally the iconic red Studebaker wagon is hand-walked to it’s ramp

Then winched into it’s trailer

 

The entire operation runs so smoothly, it’s so well-rehearsed, when it’s all packed up, you think, is that it?  It doesn’t matter how old I get, at heart, I’m always going to be the little girl who loves to see the ponies.  These boys make me smile every time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

ALL’S FAIR

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This time of year is all about fair season.  Many of the counties in Ohio host their own fairs, other independent organizations host their own, but they’re all “home turf” to their respective local 4-H clubs, and often the last hurrah of the show season.  Beyond that, should your success have reached it’s peak, competitors can qualify to compete at the Ohio State Fair Junior Horse Show.

 

 

I bet you thought the state fair was just ferris wheels and funnel cakes…   In the week leading up to the main fair, horse showmen from all 88 counties who’ve qualified are invited to bring their A-game to the Ohio Expo Center and compete for state titles.  For the kids who only compete on the 4-H circuit, this is A VERY BIG DEAL.  While they don’t get the benefit of the full state fair crowds as spectators, they do get some pretty impressive bragging rights!

 

 

The state fair is typically the first two weeks of August, which means the Junior Horse Show is almost here!  Hopefully if you or your child is competing you’re already registered, but more information can be found on their website:  http://www.ohio4h.org/events/ohio-state-fair-junior-horse-show

 

In addition to the opportunity to compete against other horse and rider teams from across the state, it’s a chance for our young riders to see the bigger picture, and meet more like-minded young people.  I’ve always felt horses helped raise me to be a respectable adult, I still believe that to be true.

 

 

If you’re looking for something fun to do with your family at the end of the month, this is a great event to check out.  The competitors always love a nice crowd to cheer them on, and the certainly deserve it for all their hard work and effort.  Go see another side to the state fair you maybe didn’t even know existed!

 

A TIME TO LIVE AND A TIME TO RIDE

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While it seems a foreign concept to me, not all of us were born with the desire to spend our days in the saddle.  Some find this desire develops later in life, and they may find themselves wondering, where do I start?

 

The industry outreach program, Time to Ride, has recently hit the 100k human-horse connections milestone, in the very business of helping newcomers take their first strides on horseback, or in a horse-related business.  All this just since 2011!  Their goal was simple, but casts a wide net,  to increase participation in the horse industry in the face of major economic, demographic and cultural changes and challenges.  They’re making it look easy!

 

 

Everyone is busy.  It’s kind of a four letter word in my opinion, one that we often use to avoid engaging in something we don’t care for, or to put off something we’d rather not do, but at the end of the day, we’re all busy.  Nobody gets to “win” the competition, nobody is more important than another, but we can stop using it as a crutch.  Sometimes when you think you’re the busiest, it’s actually the best time to come up for air and take care of yourself, if only for a little while.  If you’ve ever considered adding horses to your life, but didn’t know where to begin, this is your opportunity to get a different kind of busy.

 

http://timetoride.com offers many ways to connect to existing horse owners and facilities in your area.  Their ever-expanding network can connect you with lessons and camps, trail rides and ranches, competitive sports like rodeo and showing, as well as clubs and organizations.  Age and experience are only details, there’s a horse in their program, waiting for you to saddle up and begin a new journey with you.

 

 

If you’re already involved with horses, but looking to make business connections, or considering launching your own horse-related business, they can help you with that too!    Learn about the American Horse Council Marketing Alliance and Time to Ride.  Create your own business listing with them, and take The Challenge, a contest that rewards businesses for introducing newcomers to horses.

 

 

You’re never too old, or too young, or too busy to try something new.  You just have to make the time to do it, and now seems like as good a time as any to get started, so giddy up!