Monday, September 29, 2014

How not to prep for a show

Saturday, I ended up going to a schooling dressage show. It was sort of a last-minute thing - we'd planned on going to watch the AECs up near Dallas, but husband had a work crisis and couldn't go, and I didn't want to make the drive by myself. I got accepted into the dressage schooling show at the absolute last minute, but decided it was worth going since it would be Paddy's first time out since his injury. So all those show prep things that you usually do in the week going up to the show? Yeah, I did all that Saturday morning before my rides.  Definitely not recommend for best results!

So here's what I definitely won't be doing again for show prep:

Clipping your horse the morning of the show. Because nothing looks better than a pissed-off Haffie with a really craptastic clip job.

It looks like he's been nibbled on by rabid weasels. Please, someone teach me how to clip a horse so he doesn't have to be embarrassed that his momma clips him.

Neglecting to memorize your dressage tests. Because as I've already proven, I am past the age where I can possibly be expected to remember a dressage test. Fortunately, this show allows readers, so I just reviewed my tests right before going in the arena and relied on a reader to tell me what to do. Yes, it's like having a cheat sheet for a college final. I have a damn Ph.D., so I don't feel the least bit guilty about the cheat sheet. So there.

Not keeping your horse's mane tidy. I pretty much always wear a jacket for shows (even schooling shows), which means braiding if you're showing dressage. Paddy's mane is in that awkward stage between being not long enough to French braid but being waaay too long to do button braids. I decided I was too lazy to pull it, and Paddy's cute even with All The Hair, so we went with it. Luckily the judge still thought he was "adorable," so it was all good.

 Paddy's fan club also thought he was adorable. Photo courtesy of MC.

I DID manage to run a quick rag over clean my tack , wear white breeches, and use a clean white pad.  So we weren't completely ghetto. And we didn't do half-bad either...

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. ;)