Wow, was it ever great to get out of the indoor arena! Even with the addition of the new footing during spring break, the four walls have felt a little all consuming lately. We combined two of the lesson groups Wednesday evening and made our way down to the local arena to practice riding outside of our normal environment. The girls and their horses handled it well and we had a great time! The horses were definitely feeling the Spring air and had lots of energy and animation in their gaits... yes, even Bart! The weather was perfect, company was even better and can't wait to do it again! Here's some photos from our evening! Enjoy!
Hi! We are Jordan and Kaija, two 14-year-old, grade nine, Nellie McClung students. Our passion is horses. Jordan has a nine-year-old mare named Cleo, and Kaija’s ten-year-old gelding is named Idol. As part of the Nellie McClung Program, we have participated in our school's Science Fair for the past two years. Last year, we had one of the top projects in grade eight, so we were invited to go to the Edmonton Regional Science Fair! What an honour! We were ecstatic when we placed third in our division (Life Sciences). We are super excited to get this year’s science fair on the road!
As part of this year’s Science Fair, we were fortunate enough to borrow an Electrocardiogram (ECG) from the Millcreek Animal Hospital. The ECG measures heart rate variability (HRV), and we are going to see if horse body language affects their HRV. Horses use body language to communicate with others in their herd. There are three types of body language energies they use: pushing, drawing and blocking. In general, pushing is considered a more aggressive form of body language in the horse world because they are telling another horse to move away from them. Drawing is a passive energy, allowing other horses to come to them. Blocking, which is neither passive or aggressive, is simply telling the other horse not to come any further into their personal space.
We hypothesize that when we use pushing energy with a horse, their heart rate will speed up and their HRV will become more irregular because of the adrenaline that is released from the aggressive behaviour. We believe that drawing will have the opposite effect of pushing. It will make the horse feel safe and calm, lowering their heart rate and making their HRV more regular.
During each trial of our experiment, we hooked up 10 horses (5 mares and 5 geldings), one at a time, to the ECG. Kaija would draw each horse to her for a couple steps, then hold up her hand to block the horse from coming any closer to her. She would then energetically push the horse by pointing to the middle of the horse's chest to make them back up. She did all of this body language without touching the horse, using verbal cues or pulling on the lead rope. While Kaija communicated with the horses using each of these three body language techniques, Jordan kept detailed records, monitored the ECG machine and video camera, and made sure that everything was running smoothly.
We want to thank Caitlin and all the horsey owners and their horses who helped support us and let us use their awesome horses! If anyone is interested in seeing the results of our project, we invite you to attend the Nellie McClung Science Fair at Avonmore School, on January 24th, 2013, between 10:30 AM and 2:00 PM. Thank you for your interest! We hope to see you there!
Halloween is my favorite time of year! And we sure know how to have a good time around here in October!
On Sunday October 28th, 2012 our students joined together to participate in a fun Halloween themed horse show! We of course had our regular pleasure and equitation classes, but there were some theme classes, too! One of them was Spooky Dressage where riders had to create their own interpretive pattern of: a witches hate, cauldron, bat, broom and pumpkin! And who can have a Halloween show without costume classes? Our lesson horses were good sports being dressed up in their .... interesting.... attire! Have a look below to see the fun!
Cadence Creek Equine also played host again this year for the Aurora Youth Horse Associations Halloween Penny Carnival Fundraiser. While the turnout wasn't as great this year, the Youth still managed to raise some money for the club and have a really good time! We had a bouncy castle/slide combo this year that I don't think anyone wanted to stop playing on!
Can't wait 'til next year!
When witches go riding,
One of the most challenging parts of running a horse camp, is creating the theory portion of the camp that the kids can find fun! Not all aspects of horse care are entertaining! I know there are only a handful of us in this world that find sweeping and shovelling poop amusing!
So I've hit the books!
Its been really fun for me this week to cruise back through my 4H, Pony Club and CHA manuals. I've pulled together all sorts of fun crosswords, puzzles and theory sheets to compliment our programming this year. We like to do activites that talk about breeds of horses - so why not a crossword puzzle that brings those words back into play for memorization! It's important to know the basics of horse identification, so we have compiled magazines full of beautiful pictures for our summer camp kids to cut out and collage! What better to compliment the activity then a live "spot the horse" scavenger hunt?
Combining different activities that all surround the same theory project allow all of the different learning styles to grasp and understand the concepts. My goal is to have a visual, kinesthetic and audio activity for each one! This is my challenge I've set forth for myself as an Instructor and Mentor!
What's neat about each camp is that even though our activities stay similar week to week for the kids, each week is so different! The campers bring such diversity and give us such neat opportunities to better atune ourselves to their individual needs! I'm excited to see the impact the in-depth activity planning has on our camp kids this summer!
We are very excited to announce that WF Incognito is on his way to Canada from Virginia, USA!
Nito is an 8 year old Arabian/ Dutch Harness Horse cross who we are hoping will be a lovely addition for our riders who want to get into the Hunter, Dressage and Sport Horse Rings. Nito will be working with some of our Level 3 & 4 lesson students who are interested in leasing/showing.
Some cool information on Nito:
Registered Name: WF Incognito
Birthday: June 1st, 2004
Father (called a Sire): Horal - Dutch Harness Horse
Mother (called a Dam): Sammar El Sharruk - Purebred Arabian
Kilometers he has to travel to get to his new home:3858km
Here's some photos of him:
The question, "How long will it take me to be able to do ___________________?" (insert whatever riding thing you can think of here)
Almost on a weekly basis, I'll have this question come up from a rider or parent wondering about the advancing steps in horseback riding. I've nailed my politically correct and really quite true answer down pat. My response usually sounds like this: "Well, horseback riding is just like any other hobby or sport you take up. It requires dedication, practice, physical fitness, a positive aptitude to learn and a passion for the horse itself. Riding once a week is awesome from a recreational stand point, but to truely advance, its not quite enough."
Often I will then ask the rider/parent if they have any other hobbies, such as a musical instrument or other sport that they play. How often do you practice? Usually the resounding answer is between 4-7 times per week!
Now lets add into the equation that we are working with another living, breathing, feeling animal. A horse is a prey animal, whose natural instinct is to be wary of every living, moving, crouching, breathing thing.
Horseback riding is as much a behavior in ourselves, as it is a skill. We must learn to think, move & act like a prey animal. We must be aware of every movement, shape and piece of our horses body to understand the full picture of how they are feeling and what they need. Equally as important, we must be aware of the shapes and language our own body is conveying to our horse. Just like any hobby or sport, this takes practice.
So my questions back to you are: What kind of rider do you want to be? What are your short term goals? What do you eventually want to be able to do in horseback riding? Is this your passion or pass-time?
From here, together, we will create an ever evolving plan to help you towards your riding goals. We will talk about your current riding skill, physical fitness (yes, this is a contentious issue! BUT - if we expect our horses to be athletic, we must be working towards that goal, too!), your financial ability to look at options of another weekly lesson, leasing or even the potential of your own horse.
The possibilities are endless!
Do you crave more from your riding experience? Then let's talk!