Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Harvest Day 2010

For the second year in a row, the school I teach at welcomed our horses to participate in Harvest Day, a day to celebrate and learn about Maryland agriculture in the school.  We had many presenters, from apple sauce making, to a farmer with his equipment, to a Chesapeake Bay waterman, a Native American museum, pie making, and of course, the horses.

My friend Steve once again trekked up to the farm with his truck to help haul our rather large horses to the school.  And, since my husband couldn't take off work this year, my friend Rori offered to come out and help present as well.  Scroll down for the pictures - and remember, click on each on to view full sized.

First, we arrived and set up.  Rienzi and Shae enjoyed some peace and quite prior to the student rotations.

Each class did a great job staying behind the cavalettis.

We discussed a little bit about a horse's hooves.

We talked about the fact that my horses are barefoot and don't have shoes.

We talked about a horse's tack.

We talked about how to ask your horse to move.  Here, I'm asking Shae to go sideways (and exaggerating what the rider does).

And here I'm exaggerating how to ask Shae to collect herself and back up.

I demonstrated some simulations of horse training techniques.  Here, I'm trying to teach my "horse" without using words.  He picked up on his job pretty quickly!

 Communication through tools, not voices.

This "horse" even learned a trick!  The main point of this exercise was to show how people and horses have to communicate to each other without words.  It also showed how people need to stay calm and not get frustrated when your horse takes a little time to figure things out.

Of course, Shae couldn't be outdone by another "horse" doing HER tricks.  It was funny, she would get up on the pedestal and then try to also do something with the cones (which were just randomly sitting there).  

Of course, Shae wasn't the only one at Harvest Day.  Rienzi got the chance to be an artist's model.  Here, Steve talks about horse safety.

She then (quite contently) stood around so students could sketch her.

Rori came in her competition hunter jumper clothes and showed students how to draw a horse based on geometric shapes.

Ren was quite happy not to be running all around.  Standing is one of her favorite gaits.

Students sketched away.  I haven't had a chance to see any of their artwork yet.  Perhaps they'll bring me some later this week.

Ren thinks her mane side is her "better side."

Shae on the other hand had to demonstrate how we warm up.
Here I'm asking her to step her right hind leg really underneath herself without allowing her to push into me with her shoulder.  I was asking for some pretty small trot and canter circles from her.

And some of the teacher's got a chance to hang with Shae while I was doing simulations with student volunteers.

Shae is also one for getting lots of attention.

Asking for a hug?  Or checking pockets for treats?  You decide!

Of course, some teachers had loftier plans....

Getting my ropes squared away.

Shae is so funny... she's totally trying to figure out who to listen to... the person on her back, or me.  It's a good thing she's so good natured.

Another successful ride.

The fourth graders were also very respectful during the presentation.

Shae was fabulous the entire time.  Not one single spook from anything that was going on.  

And we had to stick around to present to the first graders.

They wanted to see all of Shae's tricks.  Although, in this picture she's only giving me about 70%.... that opposite knee is supposed to be on the ground!  Of course, after doing things so repetitively for so many groups, she was getting a bit tired by everything at this point.

All in all, a successful Harvest Day!

Posing for these pictures were interesting.  Basically, I asked the students to set up and then side stepped Shae up behind them and kept her a little distance away from them.  Student safety first!  

And finally, we headed back home.  Fall is definitely here!

A special thanks to Steve (for driving for St. Mary's Co. to Anne Arundel Co. to haul my girls down to the school) and Jenna for being the best school nurse/horse washer in the world.  Without yours and Gabbi's help, it would have taken me twice as long to bath and get the girls ready for their day out.  Also, thank you Rori for coming out and presenting as well.  I wish you weren't moving down to South Carolina at the end of the month!  Who else is going to give Shae some exercise while I'm busy at work?  Give us a call and we'll do a 3 hour weekend trail ride - George has been itching to get out and take the girls for a RUN, and I think (knock on wood) that Ren's feeling up to it.


Janice said...

Seems like a really cool educational experience, but really?? No helmets?? Even on the inexperienced teachers? This sets a poor example for the students and seems like a real liability issue. Please consider wearing a helmet, if not for yourself then as an example to your young charges.

M. Ells Perry said...

Thanks for the post. The students were not allowed to touch the horses (due to concerns over allergies) and also had to stay a certain distance away at all times (lines marked on the ground). Helmet safety was, in fact, discussed. The teacher that wanted to get on my mare was up there for two minutes to get a picture and get off. She also did not have control of the horse. Rarely do I see people use helmets for that. While anything is possible, the risk of injury was minimal. (My black mare was used as a mounted patrol horse and has worked rock concerts controlling crowds of 50,000 and has gone through all the training associated with it). If you see pictures of children on my horses (as in the following post) you will notice not only helmets but also protective vests. For me personally, I tend to where my helmet most of the time - but if I'm just doing flat ring work sometimes choose to go without in the ring. You'll see pictures of me with and without a helmet. That particular demo day I was popping on and off my horse constantly - the year before I was just doing riding demos and did use a helmet.