Wilga Park Morgans:
December 2014 - June 2015
Well, December 14 started with a Bang at Wilga Park. Darling Downs Western Dressage Club held an event at Wilga Park that included group instruction on Western Dressage, morning tea, and then lots of fun hours in the Trail Paddock.
The event was to finish at around 12 noon, but the participants were so keen to try the Trail Paddock one more time, we waved goodbye to the last group at around 2.30pm. It was a fun day all round.
It was wonderful to see lots of old friends and make new friends at this event. Many said they had been hanging out to try the Trail Paddock and just could not miss the opportunity when they saw it advertised. Linda Shore, on her Cortez part bred filly, Boulevard Gabrielle, ran the event as a ‘fun, learning experience for horse and rider’. Some horses had never stepped on a blue tarp before; others had never opened a gate or side-passed over logs. Moving the forequarters and then the hindquarters to manoeuvre particular obstacles was a new experience for many. Climbing on a tractor tyre filled with dirt was certainly a new experience for all – and seemed to be the most challenging for the horse, but the most exhilarating for the rider.
We were very excited when Rhonda Menzies-Moreland brought along her young pure bred mare, Shibui Cilla (daughter of Cortez). Cilla was a little nervous of her new surroundings at first, but under saddle, showed she was a smart, thinking mare.
We were also pleased to have Keleigh Newman (who, with her business partner, organised Total Equine Expo 2014) attend.
It was a totally successful day all round!
The Trail paddock is also a very useful training ground for the youngsters. Tammy-Lee Penney took her yearling boy, Wilga Park Summer Storm, around the trail to investigate all the strange obstacles. He was a super cool dude. He managed the bridges without drama and was keen to investigate the ‘livestock’ in our pen. Uncle Oscar was there as his safety blanket, but within a short time, Storm was out in front braving all the new things, without the moral support of Oscar.
We enjoyed the company of visitors, John and Nerolie Gate, for half a day – in between showers of rain. John, who is from north of Sydney, has begun his journey to find his Morgan. We have encouraged him to visit as many Morgan people as possible. We recall those wonderful days of meeting almost every Morgan horse in Australia when I was searching for my Morgan, and hope that John goes down the same path, savouring every minute of his search.
Of all our 2014 foals, River Gum seems to be the most photogenic. He is also shaping up to be the perfect little stallion to carry on the Ragtime Oro Blanco bloodlines in Australia. River has the most engaging personality; he has athleticism to burn and on the end of the lead rope he is brave and so very compliant … and smart! He has suppleness and balance at this early age that we all strive for in our grown horse. His legs and feet are simply awesome as well. I am keen to see how River progresses under the hands of Ian Leighton.
Linda Shore is in the process of preparing the youngsters for the upcoming shows in February and March (Greg has hurt his back and his shoulder and has been banned from handling youngsters for a number of months). Linda has taken the yearlings out of their comfort zone and introduced some scary objects to them as well as teaching them to lunge and trot out for Show. Those that had not experienced a bath before were also introduced to the enjoyment of the warm hose down!
Wilga Park Latte and Wilga Park Sabre were the youngsters we'd chosen to take out to the local agricultural shows for the first time. Wilga Park Cabernet was nominated for the Toowoomba Royal, so she really needed to experience a smaller show before then, as well. I had ear-marked Pittsworth Show for her outing, but as were invited to a 50th wedding anniversary, we had to pass up that opportunity to take her out.
Greg was busy with some huge event at the Toowoomba Show grounds and could not be at Allora Show. Linda, luckily for me, was available to help, and Cortez was chosen as Sabre’s travel companion. Wendy Brown had whisked Oscar, our usual baby-sitter, away for the weekend to prepare him for the show. I was as nervous as a kitten as I unloaded Sabre from the float. I was fearful that he might become over-excited and I would not manage that very well. I need not have worried. Apart from looking like a llama for about a minute while he took in all the new sights and sounds, Sabre was as calm as his Dad. I had a lot of fun showing him and was mightily impressed with how easy and relaxed he was for the three or so hours we had to stand around Centre Ring. Because Cortez was there, I decided to put him in the buckskin stallion class. True to form, he won the Champion sash. Sabre was 4th in that line-up.
The following weekend was Clifton Show. It was to be Latte’s first outing. Mt Tawonga Oscar, the now veteran Silver Sabre, and Latte were the Wilga Park team. Once again, I was amazed (though, by now, I shouldn’t be) at just how calmly the babies handle such a busy, noisy, horsey environment. Some horses escaped from their owners and galloped past, other horses were mis-behaving on the end of the lead rope … and those two kids of ours didn’t even raise an eye-brow.
Latte was awarded Champion Morgan mare and later that day began her long journey to Tasmania to join the mare herd at Mollydooka Morgans.
We were disappointed to miss the ANMS in WA this year, so on the Sunday Greg and Tammy-Lee and I decided to have some fun with our horses. Cabernet was on a diet and needed some exercise to trim her tummy, so I ponied her from Oscar for a few laps of the Trail Paddock. She is one fun horse. She loved the change of scenery and I’m sure she felt she had achieved something at the end of it.
Toowoomba Royal rolled around way too fast. I had nominated six horses (including Tammy-Lee’s gelding, Mt Tawonga Star aka Sage) and had no idea who might be able to help me, other than Tammy-Lee. Greg is always busy with 12 – 14 hour days during Toowoomba Royal, and Linda Shore, my regular Professional (very inconveniently for me) was busy with a clinic somewhere else in Australia.
I decided to leave Desert Rose at home as she is pregnant with a Ragtime Oro Blanco baby, so that left just 4 Wilga Park horses and Sage to look after. Mt Tawonga Oscar joined the Wendy Brown team once we arrived and I was tremendously fortunate that Rachel Whan (Hodgson Park Morgans, WA) was in Toowoomba visiting her sister, Megan Schimke.
Rachel was tasked with showing Cortez, Megan was given the sensible Sabre to hold and Wilga Park Cabernet was my charge. Having no previous outing in her life, I didn’t want to give the responsibility to someone else. I could have kissed Cabernet’s black muzzle! She was a super star! She enjoyed being out and loved the attention.
Cabernet had no reaction whatsoever to her new surroundings. She looked beautiful wearing the Champion Morgan mare sash and I was more than proud to stand in the Supreme Champion line up with her, behind Rachel with Cortez as Champion Stallion and Tammy-Lee Penney with Sage as Champion Gelding. It was a wonderful ‘last hoorah’ for Cortez. As an almost16 year old, he marched away with the Supreme Champion sash and rug - against some stiff competition.
I must admit, though I was initially reluctant to ride Cortez at the Royal, I totally enjoyed it. When I said to Helena Shanal (professional rider/Instructor who was competing on her Morgan stallion), “I have no idea why I’m putting myself throughthis’, she replied, “Because it is FUN, Kath. It’s supposed to be Fun!” That was the best advice she could have given. I decided it WAS going to be fun. I don’t have the expertise of a professional rider and I had only ridden Cortez twice prior to Show day (and I hadn’t had much time in the saddle on any horse for quite some time), so I had to throw away anyexpectations I had of myself and just enjoy the ride. I was super proud when Cortez was sashed Reserve Champion Ridden Morgan.
The highlight of our last two months is definitely the fun filled 5 days we spent with Ian Leighton from Ian Leighton Horsemanship. Ian held a two-day clinic at Wilga Park and then spent three days honing our skills and taking our youngsters to the next level in their basic training.
On the first morning we began with working our horses in hand. Ian was explaining how light and responsive the horse can be on the end of the lead rope as it follows the cues to go forward, move away and change direction. Ian took Cortez from Greg to demonstrate his message. It was simply inspiring to see … we were watching a beautiful, flowing dance between two very talented beings, as they moved back and forth changing direction. Ian’s comment was that he had never handled a better stallion in all of his clinics. Such a lovely compliment to Cortez!
It was also rather inspiring to watch Ian test out just what Cortez ‘had under the hood’ when he had his rest day before leaving. That man can certainly get the absolute best out of a horse! I'm sorry I didn't capture it on video or camera.
Wilga Park Cabernet was the star of our three days with Ian, when he made the decision that she was ready to be backed. It was our wish that this could happen, but we did not want to rush her in any way, so left the decision up to Ian.
Cabernet simply blossomed under saddle. We had no idea she was hiding that huge stride of hers under that chubby torso. She was awesome. Tammy-Lee, as her first rider, was so very impressed with how comfortable her huge trot and her canter was … and with the soft way Cabernet came back to a halt with just the lift of the rein (well lead rope, in fact, as Cabernet was ridden in halter). Ian’s horsemanship methods and the willingness of the Morgan horse to learn certainly go hand in hand in producing lovely horses. We hope to see Ian again for a 4 day clinic at the beginning of November this year.
Winter has arrived, but I don’t mind this time of year. It is perfect weather for building more interesting objects in our Trail Paddock, for one thing. Greg and Tam, his enthusiastic off-sider, have accomplished yet another beautifully rustic ‘obstacle’ for our horses and young ones to master. The Steps is completed!!
For Previous News please click on our Archive News Link.