Monday, August 11, 2014


I am so thrilled for little Jasper, my first ever equine and superstar of the day! Today he went for his first-ever trail ride while at this farm. I know what you are thinking? Why? Why only ride the horse now, three years after buying him? Well, because Jasper is a breed of horse called Pony of the Americas (POA), and while sturdy and great for trail, barrel race, or show ring - smaller versions of this breed aren't made for most adults. He is only 11.2 hands at the shoulders (44 inches high or so) and to be blunt - I belong on a draft horse, not a small POA. And it was Merlin, the Fell Pony, British powerhouse of draft power that taught me to ride. And over the years that big lug became the star of our little two-horse play and Jasper became the pasture buddy, the help. Well, not anymore! Now he is a bonefide trail horse!

He was ridden by my friend Joanna, a grower at Slack Hollow Farm. who is built much slighter than I, and her 110lbs was a perfect fit for the gelding. She was game to give him a try, so we made plans and today we headed out together — Merlin and Me, Jasper and Joanna.

We started Jasper with some groundwork and Natural Horsemanship and then worked on the front lawn. Joanna was a natural with him, even with the clunky second-hand tack (notice the huge Merlin-sized saddle pad!), but we found gear that fit his back and head well, and when Joanna was ready I tacked up Merlin and we headed down the road and across the street to the trails my amazing neighbor lets us use.

We rode for over three miles through the forest, fields, wildflowers, streams, and mountaintop. Jasper was calm and gentle, and Joanna (a novice rider who has only taken lessons a few months and been lead on trail rides) was content on the back of the little grey devil. We never moved faster than a trot, but speed wasn't the point. The point was to enjoy horses, sunshine, conversation, and the time we have. I am just so proud of them both, and thrilled for more rides together!

I think Joanna and I will make it a regular habit, and I think Joanna might be in love, too. Her previous experiences with horses has been touch and go, and she has some healthy fear about being out in the wilderness (note the bike helmet!) But Jasper was a great fit for her and she was beaming the whole time.  And I felt a bit of the glow Patty must have felt when helping me get started trail riding with Merlin. In her honor, soon as we got home, I said what Patty always said to me when we dismounted and were back at the farm with our feet safe on the ground. "We both stayed on! Another successful Ride!"

Be proud of that little pony, man was Jasper great. And he was great on his first ride in years! With a novice rider! I'm just pleased as can be and feel like cracking open a cider in his honor. The little pony that might, just became the little engine that could!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hooray for Jasper and Joanna! It sounds like they are a fantastic match!

I do have to chuckle at the barometer for a successful ride being whether or not everyone stayed on, though. I've had plenty of successful rides that involved a close encounter of my ass with the ground! As long as I learn something from every fall, it's still a success in my book.

August 11, 2014 at 7:07 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

haha! good point! learning anything and not drying is a pretty good day, eh? What do you ride?

August 11, 2014 at 8:21 PM  
Blogger Mel Baker said...

Yay, Jasper!!

August 11, 2014 at 8:25 PM  
Blogger mdoe37 said...

Of course, he was. Just look at the glint in that pony's eye. He knew it all along. All those antics were just saying, "Hey, give me a chance!"

August 11, 2014 at 9:19 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I am so very glad that Jasper is still an integral part of Cold Antler.You go,Pony!

August 11, 2014 at 10:28 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

SUCH an integral part of this farm! I can't say how amazing it was to see this horse go from goofball to serious, calm, and wonderful on the trail with a beginner rider! He had on spare tack, nothing that fit great (though well enough) but he was everything anyone could want in a trail horse! He went through thick woods, over water, followed a lead horse, lead when he was brave, trotted, dodged, walked over big logs! I think Joanna and him might be Anam Cara!~

August 11, 2014 at 10:33 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Awesome! Can you show a head shot of the little guy?

August 12, 2014 at 12:33 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Nancy, next ride with them I'll take more photos!

August 12, 2014 at 11:40 AM  
Blogger NatalieM said...

That's awesome, I learned how to ride in bits and pieces on paints and quarters at a small breeding barn I worked at in high school, although a girl that worked there also taught me some on her POA, Copper. What a great little horse, he could ride western or english and was well mannered even for a novice like myself, thank you to you and Jasper for reminding me of him :D

August 12, 2014 at 1:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I ride a 17.2hh Irish warmblood foxhunter named Henry! He is amazing (and he doesn't even mind when I sing him Scottish songs!)

August 12, 2014 at 10:24 PM  

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