The fourth and last installment of my series on the "Strong Horse Iron Pull" event that we went to last weekend. In Part Three, I highlighted the horses at the event - but they weren't the only ones competing...
At one point during the races, we decided to go over to the backside area, where all of the trucks and horses were. We'd caught a few glimpses of some small ponies moving around over there and we were curious to see more of them.
As we strolled over, me taking pictures of most every horse along the way, suddenly this was in front of us. Oh my goodness!
He was just the first, there were ponies everywhere. I turned, camera in hand and saw a grey/white one coming towards us. The man with him stopped and posed for the camera. He was very proud of his pony.
Off to the races!
Jeff commented how he thought these two probably arrived in this tiny truck. The big horses had arrived in huge semi-type trucks, but when you have two tiny ponies, you don't need a big rig.
A fuzzy pony!
I spied these two cuties grooming each other and took a few pictures.
Uh-oh, I've been spotted! It wasn't until I uploaded these that I realized it looks like he has a blue eye or partial blue eye.
Another pony being harnessed up. There was quite a size range in ponies, from fairly tiny ones on up to almost a small horse-sized.
A smaller pony having a snack.
Another pretty pinto pony. There were many that were pinto colored.
Small black pony cruising around.
Yet another pretty pinto.
I think this was the little light grey one from earlier.
A shiny little chestnut.
This one was gorgeous. I probably took more pictures of this guy than any others all day. He paraded around for quite a while before his race. He didn't have anyone leading him, just a man at the reins, driving him around.
A little roan. I loved the roached many that many of the ponies had. It made them look like little war horses.
A comparison of the sleds as a tractor pulls a pony sled back to the start.
I think many of the ponies thought of themselves as (big) war horses. Many of them were quite a handful, spunky little guys.
I thought this was an interesting picture: a pony (the one with the attitude up above) launching from the start box.
Off he goes!
This next one was fun to watch. When his handler was walking him the direction that the races go, the pony was all puffed up, prancing, neck arched, pulling to GO...
When they turned and walked the opposite way, he dropped his head and strolled along like a quite little kid's pony - haha.
Another pony declaring, "I has tuff!"
The handsome one again. He was just so neat looking.
Unfortunately, for all of his calm, regal bearing when being driven around the area, he turned into a firecracker when it came time to hitch up. He delayed the start of a race and the other pony ended up running without him. When they finally got him hooked up, he had a few false starts and his driver finally just let him go. They went and did the whole course and then several minutes later, here they came, back up the course, pony still pulling the sled. "Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing difficult", I've often heard horse trainers say. I think that might have been the case here.
After his pulling of the sled both ways, his driver hopped up on him and they strolled around a bit. I liked how this man didn't really seem bothered by anything that this pony did. Even when their race went horribly wrong, he still had a smile on his face and he was smiling when he swung aboard and off they went.
I hope you enjoyed a look at a very interesting horse sport here in Japan. Honestly, I wasn't sure what to expect as far as the treatment of the horses, but I have to say that I was very impressed with the condition of all of the horses and ponies They all looked to be in excellent shape, groomed until they glowed, not a mark on them. They were working very hard in their races, for just a couple of minutes, but then their work was done. We didn't see any lame horses, before or after the races. There were a couple of mishaps during the races, but it was always handled calmly and with concern for the animals. A couple of horses tripped going up the hill and when that happened, instantly everything stopped until it was clear that the horses were okay. It's obvious that they take pride in their horses and take good care of them. It was neat to see.
I wish I could tell more on what was going on at times, but the language barrier is still very steep. I'm working on it and my hope is that I'll be able to make some horse friends here and be able to share even more interesting horse-related things that go on in Japan.