Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Try this on for size

I was actually going to title this post "Does size matter?" but then I decided that would show up on some scary Google searches. Anyway.

Brego is LARGE. It's not just that he's 16.3 (which really isn't all that tall), but he probably weighs in at 1700 pounds. Granted, he's a bit overweight, but even when he's fit, he's just a massive guy.

Large and in charge

He wears a 7 inch bit, and I don't even want to think about what size shoe he might be (luckily, he's barefoot and has fantastic feet).

My foot vs. Brego foot. Clearly I need to avoid any accidental foot-stompings.

And a Paddy foot for comparison (note that I wear a 7.5 shoe)

Guess which fly mask is his? (HINT: It's the one that's twice as large as any of the others)

A regular A/P pad looks like a postage stamp on his back. And Paddington looks like a midget next to him.

Great, I now look like I own a pony. Paddy's 15.1, I swear!

Paddy and his (oversized) shadow.

And just in case you were wondering, Brego sports a size 87 blanket. I didn't even know they MADE blankets that big!

BFFs don't know that they're mismatched size-wise! 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Legless right-angle dog

Weird dog is weird.

But also very cute!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Brego's first experience with armor

Brego's resume is pretty much second to none - an accomplished hunt horse, extensive eventing career including placing very well in a number of Novice level USEA events, toter of dads and small children... he is literally everything we would ever want in a horse. Top that off with his handsome good looks and willing attitude, and the only question left was whether he might make a good jousting horse. So when we were up in New Hampshire getting to know him, we brought along some of hubby's jousting armor to see what he thought of it.

The pics and videos pretty much say it all...


Human, you look weird.

But maybe you have foodz?

Oooh, clinky!

...but not as interesting as the lady with the hay cart over there.

Note that usually the clinking noise is what worries horses the most about armor, which is why you hear so much of it in the vids.

This one is my favorite. Brego's all "Oh hi, what exactly are you doing and can I eat it?"

So yes, we're pretty sure Brego will be able to add "kick-ass jousting horse" to his resume in fairly short order!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Welcome to Wyvern Oaks, Brego!!!

I know I've been quiet for a while - we've just been super incredibly busy with The Great Fencing Project, and we've been anxiously awaiting the arrival hubby's new horse...


Yes, that Brego. The one he rode fox hunting up in New Hampshire about a month ago? That wasn't quite the innocent ride I made it out to be... we were actually trying him out to see if he and hubby were a match. Turns out, they got along FABULOUSLY well, and Brego's mum was happy with the idea of him having a job again. I'll have to post more pics/videos of the tryout ('cause Brego seeing armor for the first time was ADORABLE), but for now, here are his arrival pics!

The Brook Ledge van turning onto our street. These guys are awesome - if you need a horse shipped, I highly recommend them!


Hubby leads Brego to his new home.

Brego came off the trailer looking like he'd just stepped on - totally fine, hydrated, and 100% ready to go. I'm not sure what Brook Ledge does to keep horses in such good condition on such long trips, but whatever it is, it works!

 Brego settled right in. First, a good roll in the dirt. Don't you just want to rub his belly???

Next, sniff the poop. 

Meet the neighbors... Cash, Red, and Taran in the far back. There were several kerfluffles between Taran and Brego over the gate, but you know what they say about fences making good neighbors. 

 It's also important to stand in the water trough. Apparently this is a thing Brego likes to do when he's hot, lol! We may need a bigger water trough...

And then settling in to a full hay net. Hubby for size comparison.

Paddy stayed up in the stall during the day to keep Brego company. They met a few times over the fence, and there were no dramatics. After Brego had had several hours to relax, drink half the water trough, and otherwise settle in, we decided to let them out together. And here's what happened:

BFFs already!

We are so, so grateful to Brego's mum Daun for suggesting the match in the first place, not to mention   setting up the fox hunt and tryout weekend, and then graciously handling all the logistics it takes to ship a horse halfway across the country. Thank you SO MUCH, and please know that he will have the best home with us! Also, many thinks to MC for keeping a watch out for the horse van's arrival, watching over Brego's introductions to the herd while hubby and I tried to figure out why the electric fence wasn't working well, and of course, ALL THE PICTURES! And of course thanks to FuzzyPony for well... everything. ;)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

How do you know when it's time to retire them?

Cash is the only horse we've had long enough that we had to make a decision to retire him. First, I retired him from jumping at age 11, due to a bone lesion. We then focused on dressage for a couple of years, until it became obvious that fourth-level work was too much for him, and he was relegated to being a Training level schoolmaster. At 19, he had a mystery recurring lameness issue high up in his hind end, and we decided to fully retire him. After three years off, he came back sound, and has since been used for very light riding.

Despite the issues over the years, Cash never stopped wanting to work. To this day, he puts his head in his bridle, and you'd better have your act together or he gets impatient for you to get the buckles done. He still loves going on short trail rides, ears perked, a swing in his step. Sure, he's stiff and creaky and not fit, but he still loves to pretend that he can do half-passes and baby piaffe steps.

Red, however, is an entirely different story. At 21, he's been lame exactly once in 11 years, for an abscess. He's not on a single supplement, he's never had injections, and still moves like he's 6. He's fat, shiny, and as bossy as ever. There's just one problem: he doesn't want to work any more.

Red has never let his size stop him from ruling the world and everything in it. Photo courtesy of Azulox Photography.

Red has always hated arena work with a passion. He is absolutely disgusted by repetition - in his opinion, if he did it right, his rider needs to do it right too, and once it's right, everyone can be done for the day. When I've prepared him for shows, I had to be very careful not to over-school him, or he'd just get more and more frustrated. With Red, less is more.

Rider just needs to match horse in talent.

Where he really shines is doing mounted combat, or trail riding, or fox hunting. He loves bossing other horses around in mounted combat, and he and hubby are pretty much undefeated. He totally understands where he's supposed to be and what he's supposed to do on a hunt, and he watches everything carefully and pays attention. Trail rides are the same - he loves cantering through the woods on a nice loose rein, careening 'round the trees. Unfortunately, as he gets older, it's harder than ever to get and keep him fit for hunting. Normally, we do a lot of trail riding and canter sets to prep for hunt season, but this year even trail riding seems to have lost its shine for him. He's actively walking away from anyone who goes out in the pasture with a halter, and he stands to be groomed with a throughly annoyed look on his face.

On a trail ride last winter

I know what you're thinking: work him thorough it! Don't let him get away with it! But here's the thing - something has changed for him. He's not sore, he's not lame, he's in great health, so I don't think it's a physical problem. I think he's just tired of it all, and he's showing us as best he can that he's ready to be done.

Definitely not his favorite thing, but he still looks good doing it.

Hubby, who never ever wants to admit that any of our animals is getting older, took Red on a trail ride the other week. After he got back, he looked at me sadly and said, "Something's not right with Red. I don't think he wants to do this any more."

So we have decided to retire The Feerless War Pony. He'll be moving to a very nice retirement facility about 45 minutes away, where he can boss several other geldings in a 15 acre pasture. We may eventually bring him back home, but for now it seems like letting him hang out in a big pasture and be a horse may be the change he needs. Because at the end of the day, he's given us 110% for the past 11 years, and he deserves the same treatment from us.

Have you ever retired a horse? When did you know it was time?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Wyvern Oaks: Now sort of legit

I recently finally got around to having some bona fide Wyvern Oaks swag made. Heck, we've only been here almost 5 years, it's about time!

First off, our new gate sign:

Address at bottom is blurred out to protect Paddington from bloggy would-be horse thieves.

Also, if you look very closely on the left side, you'll see the tip of the automatic gate opener arm. That's right folks, we now have an automatic gate!!! We're coming up in the world, obviously.

And the new, extremely popular, polo shirts:

It's what the cool kids are wearing.

Hubby wanted to get the dressage/jousting/eventing/foxhunting concepts in a single logo. Because we can't possibly be happy doing just one thing around here!

You know how when you were a kid and you planned your own dream barn, with your own colors and all your own swag? Yeah, so it's kind of fun to do that as an adult. Next up, ball caps? Fleeces? Saddle pads?!?!? So many options! Or I could just, you know, stick with the gate sign and the polos. ;)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Foxhunting in NH with longtime friends, on an Interwebz-famous horse!

By now you're probably wondering what I'm doing in New Hampshire when I was in Vienna and the Czech Republic last week, but I promise it makes perfect sense! My husband's family was spending the last weeks of summer up in Cape Cod, so on my way back from my work trip I flew into Boston to join everyone. Not a bad way to end a trip!

The fox hunt was really just a happy coincidence. Some of you really old-school bloggers may remember Brego, the original Eventing Percheron. He had his own blog back before blogging was cool, and he was barefoot before barefoot was A Thing. He and his mom used to live in Austin, and I think she was the first blogger I'd ever met IRL. She and I once went cross-country schooling together, and I got to ride him once before they moved up to their current location in New Hampshire.  He is one super-cool dude - not only does he have the best airplane ears EVAR, but he's got tons of experience hunting and eventing, and he's as honest as the day is long.

Hubby and Brego. Note The EARZ. How can you not love those?

So imagine my excitement when Brego's mom contacted me a month or so ago and, after exchanging a number of emails, kindly arranged for hubby and I to go hunting with her! Hubby got to ride Brego (lucky man), and I got to ride a fantastic Pinto named Trinidad (we all know how I loves me some spots!) There is truly nothing more fun that riding a horse that knows his job and loves it, and both Brego and Trinny fit the bill perfectly.

Hubby on Brego and Brego's mom on Sterling.

This was the first drag hunt we've ever been on, and it's quite different than our hunts in Texas. Whereas Texas hunts are huge open fields with smaller copses of trees, the hunts up here are in thick forests criss-crossed by trails, with the occasional field that one must go around the edge of (out of respect for the farmer's crops). I can't even imagine trying to get through such thick country on a live hunt - you'd lose the dogs in minutes. But the super amazing fun part of such a hunt is that there are loads of smaller jumps along the way, instead of the 3' coops set on fencelines that our regular hunt has. Riders can also choose to "gap" (go past) the jump, and it's really nice to have that option. I was a tad worried about how we'd do since neither of us has jumped seriously since this spring, but Brego and Trinny were foot-perfect, jumping everything in stride just as nice as you please. Hubby even did a log with a pretty big drop on the off side, and was grinning ear to ear after that one!

A quiet moment on one of the trails. Lookit all the trees!!! (And Trinny's ears and Brego's butt, lol)

Edging 'round one of the fields. You can sort of see the hounds down at the bottom of the hill.

Our lovely hostess on Sterling.

As an extra bonus, I met the owner of the Foxhunting Fresian blog!  Totally random, I had no idea she was even in the same part of the world. She and her mare were both lovely and very welcoming - it was such a pleasure to meet them! It's definitely been a whirlwind blogger meet-up for the past week.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled blogging at Wyvern Oaks. My travels are over, for the time being - it will be nice to be home!