After the big jousting tournament, Lysts on the Lake, we had a pretty serious sit-down discussion about horses. Saga is really not the greatest jousting horse - he's still nervous about the armor and the hits, and he's VERY fast (too fast) down the lane. But I didn't buy him as a jousting horse, so... we're pretty happy that he managed to joust at all.
In addition, I haven't really ridden Saga since January, because every spare moment hubby was either taking lessons on him, or working on jousting. I'm fine with riding Reddums and all, but he's pretty limited in terms of jumping (about 2'3) and dressage (that gaited thing again), which is really what I like to do. Plus, at the end of the day, Red is HUBBY's horse, and he and I just don't click like he and hubby do. Besides, I want to ride MY horse. That's why I have him after all!
So we started looking around, not very seriously. We wanted a draft cross or QH or Iberian cross, gelding, between 15.2 and 17hh (16 - 16.2 being the ideal), between 6 and 10 years old. I figured it would take us AGES to find one that fit those criteria, and then of course it would have to have the right mindset, reasonable training, and "click" with the hubby.
Naturally, the first horse we looked at seems like he might actually work out.
Meet Justin (name to be changed if he stays with us). He's a 10 year-old Standardbred/Percheron cross, 16.1 1/2 hh. Yes, his butt really is that big.
We have him on trial for 2 weeks to see if he'll work out. Justin is solid bay, except for about 15 white hairs on his forehead. Color-wise, we have a matched pair. ;)
Yesterday after we brought him home, we went on a nice trail ride.
The wildflowers were GORGEOUS! We rode past a huge field of Mexican Hats blooming, and had to stop and take a pic (neighbor on his new horse is on the left, hubby and Justin in the middle, and Fuzzypony on Taran on the right).
When we got back from the ride, hubby decided to see how Justin would do with having a sword waved around his head... no problem. He smacked some trees, the quintain... no problem. Then he picked up a quintain lance and waved that around... no problem. Finally, he made a run at the quintain at a walk... then a trot... and then...
My favorite parts? When Justin starts to pick up the right lead and then fixes it, and the fact that hubby can ride down the lane at a nice canter on a loose rein. Yeah. I think this could work.
Bad confo shot. He's uphill and really short-coupled, and Andrea tells me he's got a nice shoulder. He's got rock-solid bare feet. His neck is rather short though, but so is Red's. It's not a deal-breaker.
Justin apparently has a lot of dressage experience, and got a 70% at a first level schooling show. The buttons are definitely there, but he takes a bit of effort to get him going, and he's not super-sensitive by any stretch of the imagination. His jumping experience is very limited. And the big booger is that he tends to look at random things. He doesn't spook, just stops and refuses to move forward. So far he's looked at a bench and a picnic table, but he really gave several manhole covers the hairy eyeball. So tonight we took him for a walk down the street, which has about 20 manhole covers on it. By the end, he was happily stomping on them with no problem. He also stopped dead when trotting toward some logs, but hubby smacked him on the butt a few times with a crop and he moved on. Hubby is doing a really good job with a "haha, very funny, now GET OVER IT" attitude, and it seems to be working. I suspect he just hasn't seen much outside of the dressage arena, and he's getting acquainted with the big wide world. So long as the random things to look at get fewer and further between, and he pays attention to his rider's demands to move past it, it seems like he might be OK.
Having said that about looking at random things, hubby put on some of his armor today and Justin didn't even bat an eyelash. He tacked up in his jousting saddle (which mostly fits), got on, and went around bashing trees for a while at the walk and trot. He then picked up a quintain lance and repeated yesterday's WTC exercise. He finished on a perfect canter run with a solid hit, and no spooking whatsoever. It took us MONTHS to get Saga to this point with the armor, and Justin's doing everything on the second ride. Very promising!
We have him for two weeks though, so we have a little while to decide if he's really a keeper. So far it's looking good, but we're trying not to get our hopes up too much. We're planning to go to a jousting practice, as well as cross-country schooling and a couple of jumping lessons. We'll see how it goes!
Now, where the heck are we going to put another horse?!?!