Carroll County horse enthusiasts have been busy and successful recently.
Tiffany Hill of New Windsor just returned from a year-end awards ceremony in Virginia toting a hard-won prize.
When Hill first saw Aloysius, she was struck by the appaloosa gelding's spotted buckskin coloring.
"I really liked his coloring," said the engaging teen-ager. "I had never seen anything like it before."
But you can't ride a horse's color, so there were other more compelling reasons why she bought the horse.
"The way he goes was wonderful, and he was very uncomplicated and straightforward," she said. "His work on the flat was way beyond anything else I had tried."
Hill's primary horse endeavor is combined training, which means the horse must be a good jumper and must be brave and bold cross-country.
"Ally," as he is known, needed some work in that department. He was green cross-country, so Hill set out to get him some mileage.
"Our first competition was in April at the Redlands Hunt Pony Club Trials," Hill says. "I took him at Training Level and even with a fall in the water we finished fifth. After that, it took a lot of schoolingand training and work to get him going and being bold cross-country."
The work paid off when Hill and Ally won their division at five training level events: Waredaca, Virginia Horse Trials, Difficult Run, Middletown and Commonwealth Park. The performances helped them win the United States Combined Training Association Area II Training Level Championship.
During the competition season, Hill decided to trythe next level of combined training with Ally.
Their first effortat Preliminary Level at a horse trials in New Jersey earned them a sixth place -- again because of a fall in the water. They moved up to fourth at Waredaca, then three weeks ago won the preliminary divisionat a horse trials in Virginia.
"He has matured a lot during the last year," Hill says of the 16-hand, 2-inch 10-year-old. "He is a lotbetter now about staying away overnight.
"He used to get real worried. Now it's just off the trailer, 'Well, where's my water, where'smy dinner, where's my bed?' "
Meanwhile, back at Carolyn Krome's cozy indoor arena -- while the winds blustered and howled last Sunday -- four earnest little riders on four well-behaved (for the most part) ponies earned their D2 ratings from the United States Pony Club.
The four riders are members of the Wakefield Valley Pony Club.
Cara Baumgartner on her appaloosa pony Crackers, Becky Arnold on her sister's horse Fergie, Jennifer Furman on Katie and Karen Kaweckion Rigby all proved to the Pony Club's rater, Kathy Schmitt of UnionMills, that they deserved the higher rating.
The girls started byworking their ponies in a circle together. They walked, then did rising trot and trot in two-point position.
Working individually, they cantered, trotted over ground poles rising and in two-point, then jumped individual fences and a course of fences.
The next part of the rating took place out in the fierce wind to see if the ponies werewell-behaved. Once again it was walk, trot and canter.
While the ponies were being untacked and cleaned up, Schmitt asked each girl how to tell if a horse needs cooling out and if it's in good condition.The girls then had to explain how to use each item in the grooming kit and how to clean a horse's hoofs.
All the ponies except Crackers went back on their trailers. Crackers had the honor of being the demonstration horse while the girls named his various parts and answered questions about feeding rules, horse colors and markings, breeds ofhorses, stable vices and the rules of the road for horses in Maryland (they have to obey all traffic rules just like cars do -- except the 40 mph minimum speed law).
A gigantic sigh of relief was heaved when the last question had been answered successfully. Each girl willget a certificate, said Wakefield Valley Pony Club District Commissioner Karen Baker.
"They all did really well," said Schmitt. "They just need to keep studying because they will always be moving up. I haven't seen most of the girls ride since last year, and I saw leaps and bounds of improvement since then."
The Pony Club invites all youngsters interested in horses to join. The next meeting is Dec. 3 at the County Office Building in Westminster.
Information: Karen Baker, 876-1657.