It’s not often you hear the sound of little hoof beats inside the North Adams Nursing Home but that is just what the residents heard on Sunday afternoon, November 7th,in Mendon, Illinois.
With red and gold ribbons flying and a sparkle of glittered hooves, the little horses trotted gaily away from their trailer and into the courtyard. Then they stepped quietly into the activities room where they were greeted with happy excitement. The two miniature horses, Little Man and Major, both stand less than 32 inches tall. They were happy to visit indoors where just the sound of their tiny feet can bring a smile.
They entertained the residents and their families with circus tricks and some fun and games. There was a lot of laughter and smiles when everyone, including the little horses, participated in a relay race. Then plenty of time was spent hugging and petting and even getting a pony kiss or two. The little horses belong to Becky Prunty and Debra Houtz and are part of a fledgling non profit group called Mini Miracles.
Sharon Tallcott and her sons Cordin, age 10 and Clayton age 6, assisted with the minis and also brought their therapy dog. Sadie is a Labrador and Chesapeake Bay retriever mix with the gentle soul of an angel. The sweetness in her brown eyes and the touch of her muzzle brought back happy memories to many.
After a deep bow to the audience, the horses left with a flip of their red and goldribboned tails and a promise to return. The minis and Sadie left a bit of their magic sparkle behind in the eyes of the North Adams residents.
Today was a busy day spent in training with the miniature horses Little Man and Major. We have a date to visit North Adams nursing home in Mendon, Illinois on November 7th. We continue practicing standing quietly while being hugged and petted and sometimes even kissed on the nose. Today we also spent practicing some of our tricks such as jumping, standing and pirouetting on the pedestal, rolling the ball, and of course bowing for the end of our fabulous performance. We have fun every day when we train and I think I never have laughed so much as I do when I play with the minis! MINI POWER!!!!! Spent some additional time riding Jazz out in my big pasture and checked fence lines and also did some click-treat training with my girls Tango and Marina. We are playing with saddling at liberty and following me over and around an obstacle course. Another great day of fun and partnership with my horses and my puppy Journey.
Tonight was one of those rare and perfect training nights when everything seems to go right. Combining the methods of Parelli and "clicker training" produced a magical night. I stood at the gate and called to my Arabian mare Jazz and my mini horse Little Man to come up from the pasture. I listened and soon heard the hoofbeats coming swiftly towards me. Their halters went on and a "click-treat" given. to encourage the recall behavior and putting their heads intot heir halters. I stepped up on the gate and Jazz did a lovely sidepass towards me. I slid my leg over her and settled into the smooth sweet curve of her back. It was just the beginning of dusk falling and her back was still warm from the heat of the settng sun. I picked up Little Man's leadrope and then called for my dog Journey. She slid under the gate and she looked up at me with the adoring smile only dogs have for the people they love. "Let's go everyone" I said and we set off to practice leading LIttle Man while riding Jazz. I think it would be fun to take him on some of our adventures and Jazz likes taking a friend along in case any "trail spooks or horse vampires" are encountered on our rides. She is certain that Little Man is a very confident and strong young man and that he could protect and Arabian damsel in distress. The clicker was helpful to mark when Little Man was in the correct position by her shoulder. Again a "click-treat" when he was at the right spot and she and Little Man and Journey all got a nice little peppermint treat for getting the right idea and this is what they call shaping their behavior. I can mark the correct position and help Little Man and Jazz both know where I want them to be in relation to each other. Journey who is still a little timid with the horses is encouraged to jumo up and put her feet on my boot to get her treat. My Jazz is a wonderful and beautifully mannered horse who I treasure more every day. I rode until the three quarter moon was bright in the night sky and the stars were scattered like brilliant white snowflakes on a black velvet shawl. The horses and Journey and I walked and trotted and stopped and started the process over and over in perfect unison.Seldom does a training session ever feel that perfect and the partnership feel like such an effortless understanding. Another arrow for the quiver and this was tonight's equation..,., click-treat + Parelli = FABULOUS
We had a super busy but a great weekend at the farm. Perfect weather to get hay put up and 230 bales went into the storage shed on Friday. Saturday I cleaned in the barn and swept cobwebs. Then I spent some time in a “rehab” lesson with the minis.We are practicing walking quietly and stopping and waiting when I am using a walker to lead them. They are doing very well and we had a lot of fun playing with the ball and doing “touch it” training.
I rode out through the pasture and checked fences and found the wire re-tacked in a couple of places. Jazz was the perfect trail horse and is putting up with my new puppy Journey who is learning to follow along with us. She watched in amusement as Journey jumped joyfully in the water and landed with a huge splash. Us older ladies were both thinking…, silly kid!
I nearly fell off Jazz laughing when Journey misjudged the landing on the other side of the creek. She hit a dry patch of grass and executed a spectacular somersault.
Later my husband mowed the west pasture and I cut weeds out of the fence line. The wild morning glories had done a great job of shorting out the electric in a couple of places.
Then we went back to the house for some hot chipotle chili and grilled cheese sandwiches. After supper it was time to mix up a batch of Snickerdoodles for work on Monday. The house smelled wonderful with plenty of cinnamon vanilla every time the oven door opened. I ended the weekend with a great cup of coffee and a homemade cookie sampler. Yummy!
It is a busy autumn weekend at the farm with the smell of bonfires and s’mores in the air.The little mini boys and their adopted mom (my Arabian mare Jazz) run joyously out into the pasture each morning, I feel the waning of summer. They are excited for the nip in the air and jump the little creek and then run bucking and snorting up the other side.
This month they have found a way to cross under the fence (due to their 32 inch size) and go off visiting with my other mares. They love running flat out across the pasture with Tango and Marina, as they are younger than Jazz and like to still gallop around just for the sheer fun of it. They remind me of little kids let out for recess and their teacher looks on approvingly as they run off their energy. Little Man and Major seem to get along with everyone and bring joy and happiness wherever they go.
Today we will practice more on Manny and Majors training for driving and saddle work.I will play seven games from our Parelli journey and try to stand in for my sister Debbie’s training on Clicker with them. They are learning a combination of training ideas that seem to go together well and we are hoping this might become a new training system that combines natural horsemanship and clicker training.
We are working towards putting a ceiling into two areas in the barn. One will be the tack and feed room and one will be a classroom/office type area. I would like to create a place to relax and talk with each other. I’d like to put up the students artwork and stories there and have a small lending library of horse books etc.
I have lots of fun ideas for next year when I can really get things up and running. My thanks go out to Leon and Eva for trying to find used wheelchairs for our therapy practice. I am really looking forward to continuing our nursing home visits and trips to see children who can benefit from time spent with our little boys! Mini Miracles hope to be very busy in 2011.
I enjoyed a five day weekend recently at Trinity Ridge Farm where our mini boys live. What an enjoyable time with beautiful weather, no heat, and a gentle breeze which was a tremendous help for a menopausal woman. I worked every day clicker training the mini horses by reinforcing their targeting (touching a target) and stationing on the mat. Everything the horses learn helps further them in their education for the therapeutic missions they do when they are out with the public. They are such willing little workers (of course the click/treats help) and picked up what to do within a short period of time. I had them heeling like dogs at my side, stopping when I stopped, backing up when I backed up, and doing all of this at liberty. I took Manny out of the barn with his halter and lead rope. We decided to take him off his lead and Manny continued what he had learned by following me down the driveway, stopping when I stopped and staying at my side. He had a choice of lush green grass but made a choice to stay with me. I love those kind of results and it makes all the training efforts pay off in a BIG way. Thank you Becky & Dennis for all you do and taking such good care of my miniature horse Major. They are all very happy horses at your farm.
On Sunday August 15th, we took the mini boys Major & Manny, to Northwoods Nursing Center. Our 95 year old Mother came with us and saw for herself the magic that these little horses can make.
We spent an hour with the residents and their families talking about the miniature horses, walking them amongst the residents and singing some old time songs. What a great day and a special thank you to Eva & Leon who volunteered to join us and help entertain.
Normal 0 A Mini Miracles visit is planned for Sunday, August 15th at the Northwoods Nursing Home in Belvidere, Illinois. We will be remembering the old time County Fair days and in keeping with the miniature horse visit, the residents will be having a snack of apple juice and oatmeal cookies. I think Manny and Major would like to get there early so they could have some too!
We hope to have a lot of fun with some games, prizes and songs and the boys will be providing lots of opportunities for petting and hugs and kisses. The residents are getting excited about the visit and looking forward to seeing the minis. I have been training them to bow so I hope that they can show off this new skill to everyone!
It is with great appreciation for my family, friends and husbands support , that I announce the successful passing of the NARHA certification for therapeutic riding instructors on July 24 at BraveHearts www.braveheartsriding.org/ in Harvard, Illinois. After an intensive three day workshop and testing for my riding skills and therapeutic riding instruction, I breathed a great sigh of relief when I completed and passed the examination for certification. I am also very proud of our team from QUEST (Quincy Equestrian and Therapy Services NFP) www.queststables.com where I am also one of the instructors for therapy.
It was an amazing week with much to study and refer to afterwards and plenty of continuuing education for all of us. What a fantastic opportunity and my thanks to the instructors at BraveHearts for all the mentoring in instructions through this Spring and Summer. Thank you to Debbie Laux of Mounted Angels in Pleasant Hill IL for also volunteering her time to support and mentor us in therapy services. I am very much hoping I will win the Scholarship opportunity for the National NARHA www.narha.org Conference in Denver, Colorado in November. I will hear in August if I was selected.
My thanks to all of those who supported me in anyway throughout all the study and testing and to my husband, my family and my friends for their encouragement and un-shakeable faith in me.I love you all very much.
On June 25th, we took Manny & Major to summer camp to meet with the Duck Tails group and their Camp Leaders in Spencer Park located in Belvidere, IL.
As we pulled into their parking lot, we could hear the children's excited voices call out "the ponies are here, the ponies are here!" The horses had made a 4 hour trip from Loraine, IL to meet with them and were anxious to get out of the horse trailer. The group of five children and their Camp Leaders helped us setup an obstacle course with cones and colored baskets. Each child took their turn guiding the mini horses through the maze and correctly matching the colored ring to the cone or basket. Afterward, the horses were groomed and decorated in patriotic ribbons for a photo session with the kids. My friend Eva and her family also stopped by to make a surprise visit to meet the horses and take pictures.
What a totally fun day! Thank you Jessica, for having us and to all those that came and participated.