Thursday, February 19, 2015

A very belated blog update - and I got to meet Hafl!

I'm pretty much the worst blogger ever. It's not that nothing's going on here, it's that TOO MUCH is going on here. Between work, travel for work, keeping up things at home, and all the riding I've been doing, there's just no time.

I've been taking all the lessons I can get, and Paddy and I are progressing by leaps and bounds. He's starting to feel like an actual dressage horse instead of a horse doing patterns in a dressage arena, and it's pretty damn awesome. In a recent lesson, we were asked to canter since the trot was so nice, and I told my trainer that I didn't WANT to canter because his trot was too awesome! We proceeded to do all the first level trot movements (and a few second level ones too!!!) straight, balanced, and on the aids. Pure magic, I tell you.

We'll talk about the canter some other time. Ahem.

The most exciting news is that I recently took a work trip to the Czech Republic, flying in through Vienna like I usually do. You may remember that I got to meet Tanja, Hafl's mom, last summer in Vienna - well, this time Tanja invited me to her hometown to stay for the weekend and meet Hafl! He's every bit as adorable in person as I'd imagined, and watching Tanja take a lesson on him was quite informative (even if I didn't understand much German, lol!)

Me and Hafl. Hafl has about 5x as much hair as Paddy.

I mean, THIS TAIL. Andrea, do you see this???

Beautiful indoor school. 

Maybe someday Paddy and I will be able to have an extended trot like this!

Tanja and Hafl - so picturesque!

Two Haffies in the snow. There were Haffies EVERYWHERE in south Austria. Like quarter horses here in Texas. I almost stuffed a few in my suitcase to bring home!

Tanja and I at a beautiful mountain lake in her hometown. The lake is so clean you can drink the water untreated!

The train ride back to Vienna. The snow-covered mountains were so beautiful!

Also, this is the best chocolate dessert in the entire world. It was a salted chocolate ... thingy. The crust was chocolate crumble with salt, the inside was a warm squishy rich chocolate goo, and the whole thing was dusted with cocoa powder. So rich. So delicious. The cafe that served it was right next to my hotel in Brno... it's possible I ate more than one. Or even two. Possibly three....

In between visiting tack stores (yes, I got swag), Tanja and I spent a lot of time talking about the differences between riding, showing, and horse keeping in Austria vs in the US. I really should do a post just on that as it was absolutely fascinating. For example:

  • Nobody uses knee patch breeches - I did not see a single pair of knee patch breeches in the 3 tack shops I visited.
  • You must have a license to be an instructor, and you can only teach to the level of your license. 
  • You must also have a license to show, and you can only show at the level your license allows. That means that had I been in Austria, I could not have done a couple of first level tests on a whim. I would have had to get my scores at the equivalent of Training before I could get the license to move up.
  • There are FEI dressage tests that aren't PSG, Intermediare, and Grand Prix! I had no idea, since in the US the only FEI tests I've ever seen offered are these. There's also a Preliminary test (about 1st level) and a Medium test (about 3rd level). Cool, huh?
  • When you rent an apartment in Austria, you're responsible for everything inside the walls. Tanja actually had to build out her own kitchen, from the cabinets out!  There also aren't any closets, but plenty of big armoires and dressers.
  • Tanja may have more saddle pads than anyone else I know. ;)
Ok, my time is up. I promise, I'll post more soon! 

28 comments:

  1. What kind of breeches do they wear if not knee patch?

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    1. Full seats, all the time. Interesting, eh?

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  2. My favorite post of the day, foreign tales, chocolate, that tail, possibility of future swag post....thanks for sharing about your adventures!

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    1. It was a toss up between the chocolate and the tail being the best part. I need to find a chocolate dessert like that here in Austin. SO GOOD.

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  3. So awesome!!!!
    Hey have the same licensing rules for competition in Lux, my guess is it all stems from Germany as i know Lux views Germany things as God - like when it comes to horses *sigh*
    I'll just be here in the corner with my bastardised Irish Sport Horses minding my own business & not making eye contact *shuffles off*

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    1. Aoife, do you know if those are EU rules, by chance? Curious...

      And you with your ISH is probably about the same as me with my Haffie over here. Both anomalies, but we love them nonetheless!

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    2. Doubt it's an EU rule as doesn't happen in Ireland, or it didn't when I was there plus I don't think it has changed since I left.

      Anomalies United ☺☺☺☺

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  4. Aw! I love Tanja and Hafl! So fun!! :)

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  5. I was beginning to wonder if you were still alive :P

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  6. Replies
    1. It was pretty awesome, if COLD! (For this southern girl anyway).

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  7. I definitely knew about licensing for teaching and competition which I think is probably the real strength of euro vs the us competition wise, you don't have all these yahoos just doing to do.

    Man that tail is impressive!!! And I know wht you mean so so so busy lately!

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    1. Agree, the licensing for teaching and competition really makes sense.

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  8. That tail is amazing. I want to brush it for days.

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    1. I think it would take a day to brush it out.

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  9. omg that tail!!! glad you had such an awesome trip - and those distinctions between US and Vienna's rules are really interesting

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    1. I really do think a lot of those rules make sense... I mean here, anyone can hang their shingle out as a trainer. We spent so much time talking about the differences, it was really interesting!

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  10. First, That TAIL!!! I want!!! Well, I want on Taran. lol Second, are you Sure Tanja has more pads than you? ;-)

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    1. I think you'd never ride if you had a horse with that tail. You'd just brush it all day!

      As for the pads, one third of them are yours and on third are Hubby's. So I'm QUITE sure she's got more than I do. ;)

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    2. You might be right about the brushing. lol But the pads, well, maybe you're right...

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  11. HOLY TAIL! This is ridiculously impressive!!

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    1. I know! Hafl should donate to those less fortunate.

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  12. I have to comment (first time) because in 8 years living in Germany I never noticed there are no knee patch breeches! It's weird what you notice, and what you don't. I notice the knee-high socks worn over breeches - that look really annoys me. What I know with certainty - no closets. How annoying - we have no place to store our vacuum cleaner and water bottles. Haflingers everywhere, check. I've learned that Haflingers are not an easy breed, at least not the ones in my area. However, an acquaintance has a QH/Haflinger cross, and what a great horse! I hope I get to ride him someday.

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    1. RE no knee patch breeches - that was the FIRST thing I noticed because they are SO HARD to find here in the states! To have an entire rack of nothing but F/S... I was super excited!

      I didn't notice the lack of knee socks over breeches, but then, we were all bundled to our eyeballs. It is kind of a weird thing here - I don't usually do it myself, but I know lots of people who do.

      RE no closets, I kind of love armoires (we have a huge one from England) so I wouldn't mind having a house full of armoires. But good point, WHERE do you put your vacuums?

      It's interesting to hear you say that Haffies aren't an easy breed. How do you mean? For me, Paddy has been the most personable horse I've ever owned; he also tries hard and while he does spend an awful lot of energy attempting to not work, he doesn't have a mean bone in his body. He doesn't buck, spook, bolt, or otherwise try to dump me - I consider him to be the ultimate ammy-safe horse. Of course, he is an escape artist, but I guess that just keeps things interesting?

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