Sunday, July 10, 2011

Newfoundland Magic

  • Cjay over at Artemis Areia is going through a rough time right now. Her horse, Cas, has a serious injury. If you have a sec, please show her your support.
  • Gabriella over at Horse Dayz has an interesting challenge. She is challenging other bloggers to do a post or series on how you would train a horse from the time it is a foal to being broke. If you have already raised a foal, perhaps you could share your experience so that others can learn.
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Yesterday I had my first Pleasure Driving lesson! Through a friend, I found an instructor that is only 30 minutes away from me. Shelley has competed in Jumping, Dressage and Pleasure Driving. A back injury due to a jumping accident has turned her focus on to Driving. She has a small boarding facility; 11 horses and ponies, 23 acres.

The day couldn't have been more beautiful. Temps were around 25C with a slight breeze and plenty of sunshine. From the get-go it was obvious that Shelley loves driving and her pony. Shelley doesn't use horses when she competes....she uses Magic, her gorgeous Newfoundland Pony. Magic is the Mini Me of Gem!!

Handsome Gem

Handsome Magic

I was very excited about meeting Magic. Newfoundland Ponies are considered a rare breed. My father is from Newfoundland and we spent many a summer on The Rock. Dad's family had a Newfoundland Pony named Blackie when he was a kid. The Newfoundland Pony is known for its hardiness and is a very easy keeper. The Canadian and the Newfoundland Pony share a similar history. Both breeds were instrumental in helping Canada be settled. They were used as work animals and to pull carriages. Machines and automation greatly impacted the need for the hardy little Newfoundland Pony and hundreds and hundreds of them were rounded up and sent for slaughter, ending up as dog food. By the late 1970's they were on the verge of extinction. Like the Canadian, a strict breeding program has saved them from that fate and these ponies are now recognized as a provincial heritage animal.

Shelley went through the different parts of the cart. Safety was the focus of her overview, and I liked that. After we went through the different parts of the cart, we brought Magic in and started our grooming. The tacking up part of Driving is very least right now. There is a sequence to how the harness is put on and you have to be very careful that pieces of the harness aren't hanging down where your feet or your horse's feet can get tangled up. Fortunately for us, Magic stood like a pro. :-) Hooking up to the cart was interesting. The horse has to stand while you pull and position the cart behind him and attach the harness. This part of the process seemed to take much less time than putting on the harness. This is a picture of her cart. It cost around $1,000.00.

It was now time to go for a spin. We donned our helmets and off we went. It was a bit weird at first. I felt...I don't The seat was comfortable, but there's nothing to hang on to really. And where was the brake?????!!! :-) We slow trotted around part of the property, which included a couple of very steep little hills. Eventually, Magic worked his way up to a working trot and then to a road trot. Amazingly, all of his speeds were communicated verbally by Shelley. All commands were prefaced with his name. "Magic! Road trot!" Which direction he was to go was communicated through the reins, by the flexing of the fingers. I could easily feel the difference in the speeds. We went down to the sand ring and Shelley showed me how to turn. Think you just sit there??? Wrong! You still have to have great balance and use your core. You have to assist the horse by shifting your body weight in the carriage when going up or down a hill, for example. You have to be able to feel the connection with the horse through the reins even though they are really, really long. No, you sure don't just sit there. :-)

Then Shelley let me take the reins! It was awesome!! I operated the reins while she told Magic what to do. It was harder than it looked and it took me a while to get the hang of it. It was great and I could soooo see Gem pulling a cart.

I have committed to taking two more lessons to get a real feel for it and see if it's something I want to pursue. It's quite expensive. To have her come to my stables and work with Gem would cost approximately $80.00 per session, at least twice a week. Shelley did say that it would take a few months to get Gem up to speed. It would mean giving up my lessons with LA for a while because I couldn't afford both.

It was time to wrap up our session (3 hours later!) and I went to pay her. She decline the money, stating that the first lesson was at no charge; she was happy exposing someone to her passion. Nice!

It was a great visit and I felt sort of "satisfied" when I was driving home. Let me share a captured moment of pure Magic......

Have a great week!


  1. Aw, thanks so much for the mention Wolfie! You're the best!

  2. That really sounds like fun! Pretty pony too!

    When I was a young girl, I somehow, (memory fades) got my hands on a full harness set that fit my pony and I would hook him up and run around behind him, I can't beleive he never kicked me, but he tolerated me. I never did drive him with a cart. Oh well, good times.

  3. Very cool! I'd love to do that someday. I think Sami would be perfect for this but as you know it takes a great teacher/trainer to even get started. I hope you have lots of fun learning to drive if you pursue it. Magic is adorable and does look like a mini-me to Gem.

  4. That is something I have never done, but you make it sound like so much fun that I would love to try it out sometime! And Magic is just adorable.

  5. I am at work and can't read this right now, but really looking forward to it!!! So jealous that you took a driving lesson!!

  6. He is a mini Gem!! that is awesome!
    I want to learn to drive! When we were up at hubby's grandmas last weekend I drooled over all the driving equipment in the barn and garage. By the sounds of it I can take whatever I want, if I take the time to go through all it. But I need to find somoene around here to teach me how to drive first!

  7. Good for you! I'm so glad you got a chance to try it out- and what a nice lady!

    Learning how to drive is bound to make you a better rider- funny how things work that way ;)

    Magic does look like a mini-Gem!

  8. Gabriella – My pleasure!

    Mary – After going through some of the accident scenarios with Shelley, I can’t imagine how you didn’t get kicked by your pony! What a great little pony you had!!!

    GHM – I think I have found the right teacher technically and personality-wise. But she is a petite woman and is used to working with ponies. HER instructor has worked with horses, so if I pursue this, she may be able to work with Gem up to a certain point and then I might be deferred to her instructor.

    Marissa – Isn’t Magic adorable?? It was really cool, and if you ever have an opportunity to try it, do it!

    Minus Pride – What?? You let work get in the way of reading blogs??? :-) It was really fun!

    Good Time to Review – Even with his smallish stature, Magic was very majestic! How lucky are you to have equipment available to you??!!!

    Shannon – I cracked up when I met Magic….it really was like seeing a smaller Gem! Driving lessons will absolutely improve my riding. There aren’t any other aids other than your hands and voice. So, because these lessons will be so focused on my hands, I think my “riding” hands will greatly improve.

  9. Thank you so much Wolfie, that means a lot to me!

    I'm incredibly jealous you got to meet a Newfoundland Pony! I love Canadian horses so much, it's now on my bucket list to meet/see a Newfoundland Pony and a Sable Island Pony. Mini Gem/Magic is so adorable!

  10. Cjay - Hope Cass feels better soon. I like your bucket list: the Canadian Horse, Newfoundland Pony and Sable Island Pony. You are welcome to meet my Canadian Horse any time! :-)

  11. Wolfie, that just looks fabulous! I can just picture Gem doing that. The Canadian sounds a bit like the Irish Draft horse, strong enough to work the land, elegant enough to bring the family to church in a carriage and agile enough to hunt - very versatile!

  12. twohorses - I can so see Gemn doing this! :-) Yes, The Canadian and the Irish Draft share very similar histories and jobs. I think the Irish Draft is larger though. Gem is considered tall for a Canadian at just over 16.0hh; the average is around 15.0hh. I love that draft-y look. The Irish Drafts sure are handsome. :-)

  13. Wow - sounds like you had a great time at your lesson. How wonderful to find such a generous teacher. And agreed about the Magic, the mini Gem ;)
    Fun, fun, fun!!

  14. Calm - I did and Shelley is really nice. I also like that fact that she runs her own business. I try to support women in their ventures whenever I can. :-)

  15. How absolutely FUN!! And what a great teacher you have & so generous too :D
    Wonder what Gem will make of 'mini-Gem' *lol* Magic looks just adorable, love that last pix.
    Looking forward to hearing more of your driving adventures :D Joy xx

  16. Of course you can email me:

  17. I am so excited for you! I love driving, but I am still a bit intimidated by it.
    But, it's funny that you posted about driving because today I harnessed both horses and took each one out individually for some ground driving. I was so tempted to hook the cart up!!
    I can't wait to hear more about your driving adventures.
    How incredible that you had a 3-hour intro session... for free!
    I love that safety was emphasized. My instructor did the same thing. I think it is really important.

  18. So glad you got to drive! It is amazing just how much more there is to it then just sitting there. You are working! Don't worry about being overwhelmed with all of the tack. Everyone starts out that way. Keep it up and soon enough you'll be zipping around barrels in a cart...

  19. Joy - Now there would be a great picture...Gem and Magic!

    Dreaming - Shelley was very generous with her knowledge and time. How long did you take lesson????

    Colleen - I was surprised at how your body is still used, even when you sit in a cart! Zipping around barrels?? Yikes! :-)

  20. Oh Wolfie, if you think going in straight lines is fun, try going around a barrel! I drive a little pony (POA) who was made for barrels. If there is one in sight, its gravitational pull sucks him in and around the other side. The best thing I can do is not interfere. Also, as a side benefit, all the men in your life will ask you to open tight jars (do you also get that extra hand strength from riding too?)

  21. Congratulations on your driving lesson! I love driving and I enjoyed reading about your lesson.

    Has Shelley worked with Canadian Horses?

    I wouldn't think the intensive training part of it would go on for very long with Gem. In my experience they pick new things up pretty quickly - but you have to be sure they understand what you're asking of them.

  22. Colleen - Now you have me thinking!!!

    ltd - I don't believe Shelley has worked with Canadian Horses...I think she would have said something. However, she did reduce the training time when I mentioned he was a Canadian, so I think she knows how quick they pick up on things. :-)

  23. How wonderful! I love driving, but don't get to do much of it, er, any of it these days. Enjoy your lessons.

  24. Welcome, Once Upon an Equine! I look forward to catching up on Misty's and SaraJane's adventures.