Thursday, January 29, 2015

In which Paddy quite literally saves my life

Here’s the short version: We were attacked by an off-leash dog last night while riding alone on the trails. Paddington was absolutely amazing – he faced down a snapping, snarling, barking dog, didn’t bolt, and didn’t dump my ass in the dirt even when the dog attacked him. Even after the owner finally – FINALLY – got the dog under control, when he was trembling and on high alert, he stayed put and waited for me to catch my breath and talk to the dog owner. We’re both fine, the dog is fine, and I filed a police report. And my horse is absolutely worth his weight in gold.

Here’s the slightly longer version:

I’ve bitched before about off-leash dogs. Wyvern Oaks back to a greenbelt where we often go trail riding, or ride to a few grassy “arena” areas where we can work. We’ve encountered off-leash dogs before, and we have a pretty standard protocol – we keep the horses standing still, facing the dogs, ask the owner to get their dog, and if it escalates, yell “NO BAD DOG” at the dog until the owner can contain the dog. Two times we didn’t see the dogs coming and our horses were chased; both times we all managed to stay on despite some rather harrowing moments.

Last night, Paddy and I were walking home, and met up with a nice guy who told me his dog was up ahead. I pulled Paddy off to the side of the trail and faced the direction the guy had indicated. Sure enough, his dog came bouncing down the trail, and he called the dog to him. The dog started heading toward its owner… and then it noticed Paddy.

Then next 30 seconds are very much a blur. The dog approached, growled, and began to bark. I asked the guy to call off his dog, and to his credit, he tried. As the dog got closer and more serious about Paddy, I did my usual “NO BAD DOG” yelling at the dog. At this point the dog began circling us, trying to get behind Paddy. Dogs are what’s known as “brave cowards” and will often only go after a horse from behind, so I circled Paddy to keep him facing the dog. The dog got closer, and the barking and growling turned from half-hearted into full-on serious. Paddy kept circling, facing the dog. I want to say we made 4 or 5 complete circles… enough so that I started to wonder WTF the damn dog owner was doing, because the dog wasn’t playing any more. The dog finally managed to dart behind Paddy and went for his hind legs, mouth wide, teeth bared. Paddy swung his butt around at the last moment and we managed to face the dog again, and he lunged for Paddy’s nose. At this point I think I yelled something pretty rude to the dog owner (probably “Get your fucking dog off my horse!”) while still trying to maneuver poor Paddy, who at this point had had more than enough. Shortly after this, the guy got his hands on his dog, and pinned him to the ground.

The guy, to his credit, apologized profusely. He asked if we were OK – I couldn’t see any blood on Paddy, and I didn’t think the dog had made contact, so I said we were. Poor Paddy was trembling and wanted very much to leave the scene, and I scratched his withers and told him what an awesome amazing horse he was and what a good boy he was. Eventually the guy put a leash on his dog and headed off in the other direction, and we went home where I stuffed Paddy full of cookies and called the police to report the incident (interestingly enough, the officer who responded knew the dog and owner from the local dog park – said the guy was really nice and the dog was super well trained).

We’re dog owners, and I totally understand wanting to allow your dog to run free and get some energy out. But I am also a big fan of leashes and dog parks and exercising your dog properly and safely. Blogland knows how dangerous off-leash dogs are to horses – one of our own lost her heart horse all too soon. I also know I’m preaching to the choir here, so here’s what I’d like to ask each of you to do. If you have friends who allow their dogs off leash in a public area (not a dog park), ask them to reconsider. Tell them what can happen. It doesn’t have to be about dogs vs. horses, it could be a big dog vs. a smaller dog, dog vs. children, or elderly individual, whatever. Help get the message out. I want to believe that most dog owners are responsible people, they just don’t think that THEIR dog could possibly do that. But any dog can, given the right circumstances.

Be careful out there, y’all. Not every horse is like Paddy, who kept me safe.

He deserves ALL THE COOKIES. Yes he does. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Big changes for Cash and Red

Some of y'all may remember my post about retiring Reddums. We had originally planned to take him to a nearby retirement facility, and keep Cash at home with us. Five horses really is too many here, and it made the most sense to keep Cash home, considering the level of care he requires.

And then... then we realized just how bonded Cash is to Red, despite the fact that Red bosses him around. When Cash lost his BFF Saga several years ago, it took him months to recover. We felt like, at his age, it wasn't fair to put him through that again, especially if we could avoid it.

Over the past few months, Cash has gotten more and more stressed at any small changes in his routine. It actually got to the point here where taking any of our other horses off-property would cause him to panic, pacing himself into a sweat. Even if Red was right with him, he fretted. Of course, hubby and I often take Paddy and Brego on trail rides, and we usually haul out for lessons at least 1-2 times per week. That meant that Cash was constantly in a state of worry when someone left. In fact, that was the deciding factor in choosing to move them both together - we just can't provide the type of stability that Cash seems to need at this point in his life. I really do think that older horses get a bit senile, and changes in daily routine become very stressful.

But where to take him? The local retirement place doesn't provide the level of care that Cash needs. However, several years ago, Cash was retired at an amazing facility called Paint Creek Ranch (appropriate, since he's a Paint, no?). It was truly horsey paradise, and Cash loved it. Unfortunately, the facility moved from about 45 minutes from us to over 3 hours away, right about the time we bought Wyvern Oaks, so we decided to bring him home. However, Claudia (the owner) is one of the few people in the world I would trust to take care of my horses long-term - she actually provides better care than we do! So I called her and got both of the boys placed on their waiting list. I was warned that it might be a while, but that's expected.

In the meantime, Cash's stress level continued to get worse. Bringing another horse into the aisle for grooming stressed him out. Having to stay in due to inclement weather stressed him out. He would stop eating, sometimes for several meals. I called Claudia and asked if she had any suggestions, and amazingly, she told me to go ahead and bring both boys up right away.

MC was kind enough to make the long drive with me, and help Mr. Schpot settle in. The boys have 16x16 stalls when the weather is bad.

Red took approximately .0003 seconds to settle in and point out that the food pan was empty.

Claudia instantly made friends with Reddums. I think the treats in her pocket might have helped.

Red surveys his new domain.

The boys have settled in well, and Red now acts like he owns the place (of course). Cash is gaining weight daily, and seems to like the more stable routine. Claudia also sends me pictures often (LOVE THAT), and the boys look fantastic.


They get brought in and separated for feeding, 3 times a day. 

I have no idea how the staff at Paint Creek got the boys to do this. They are just that good!

Still handsome after all these years

And filthy, lol!

We are hoping to go visit them next month - it's a 3.5 hour drive, so we won't be able to go very often. Still, I know they are getting the best care possible, and that sets my mind at ease. They both deserve the best after everything they have done for us. <3 p="">

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Remember last year when Lauren and I invited everyone to a bloggers weekend in Austin?  Well, that's officially happening!  There's even a date...

Friday, February 27th - Sunday, March 1st in Austin, Texas
Now, we're basically two months out so it's time to really confirm details.  We want to create Facebook group or e-mail list of people who are seriously interested in coming whether you are local and would love to meet up for a day or want to fly in and stay with either Lauren or myself.

Before we go any further with the proposed itinerary or reasons you should come hang out with us, please fill out this survey if you are interested in coming.  It's extremely important that we collect all the details so we can pull off this event!

Okay, on to some potential plannings and happenings!  I also want to note that though Lauren and I have primarily worked together on this proposed schedule, there are also other cool Austin bloggers who are certainly included in any fun/hosting they want to (we just didn't want to commit ya'll to stuff against your will... muhahaha).
Come to Austin, we have long horns
Come to Austin, we have long horns
  • Arrive in Austin per your schedule.
  • Any early arrivers can enjoy south Austin activities... 
  • Lauren can shuttle people from the airport during business hours.
  • I can shuttle people from airport in early evening
  • Dinner provided at Lauren's house (Mauldin Bungalow) for everyone.  Post dinner shenanigans to be determined.
  • Group splits up into accommodations
I will take you to this magical candy shop
Lauren will take you to this magical candy shop. I'll take you to the tack shop.
  • Breakfast provided at the Mauldin Bungalow
  • Venture up north to see the amazing Simon pants
  • Tack shopping at Dover Saddlery and/or The Tack Shop of Austin
  • Out to lunch
  • Journey back down south to the world's cutest Haflinger & versatile (also cute) Draft Horse
  • Possible afternoon activity like wine tasting, depending on time
  • Dinner provided at Wyvern Oaks
  • For night owls, go visit some Austin nightlife downtown

  • Breakfast provided at Wyvern Oaks
  • Traveling to/from airport for folks
Of course, this schedule is pretty tentative since we're two months out and subject to change/be added to depending on how many people we actually have coming.
You're responsible for buying your own old fashioned sodas
You're responsible for buying your own old fashioned sodas
What kind of expenses will I have for this weekend?
Since we know that traveling is not super cheap, we're trying to keep the expenses as low as possible for folks.  Here's what you can expect:
  • Cost of getting to and from Austin
  • Money for Lunch on Saturday
  • Money for any drinking/shopping/misc
  • Cost of getting to and from airport if your arrival/departure time is outside of when Lauren or Jen can pick you up (roughly $40 each way)
Am I really invited?
You really are!  We really hope you come and enjoy and have fun meeting other bloggers :)  Please don't forget to take the survey so we can make this idea a reality.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Meet Augustus, our new small pony

It's possible that we adopted a Pyrenees pony puppy this weekend.

Meet Augustus!

The vet says he's 2, but given that he still does that puppy prance thing and has NO idea where all his legs are, we're thinking he's probably closer to a year old.

That's actually a horse-sized muck bucket (used as a water tub), in case you're wondering.

Here's a 60-lb Malamute for comparison.

He and Elias are getting along great - Elias is the boss, and Augustus follows him everywhere and does everything just the same.

Large Malamute on right, Small Pony on left.

Why another dog? Because we're having some issues with coyotes being aggressive, and as Elias gets older (he's 10), he's less and less interested in patrolling and more and more interested in laying in the sunbeams in the barn aisle. Not that there's anything wrong with laying in sunbeams, mind you. Augustus seemed like a good match, so we're giving it a try. He's a bit too interested in the cats and chickens if they're moving, but he also listens very well, especially for a Pyr. There's a lot of training to be done, but he's a good boy and so sweet!

And how can you not love this face?!?!

Many thanks to Texas Pyr Rescue for helping to match us with Augustus!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Brego says: "There is something wrong with this food bowl"

Subtle, isn't he?

(Fuzzypony took the pic, and MC models with Brego) 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Looking back on 2014, looking ahead to 2015

2014 had a few low points, but compared to 2013 it's been fantastic. On the horse front, really the only negative thing that happened was Paddy got hurt in April and had 4 months off, but rehab went great and he's been 100% ever since. We've had a great series of shows, made tons of progress, and overall have worked on a great partnership. Hubby got an amazing new pony who is the perfect match for him. I'm not sure I could ask for anything more!

Looking back on my 2014 goals, here's what I had:
  • Be lighter and more obedient to the aids in dressage.  - YEP! We will always have lots of work in this area, but compared to where we were at the beginning of the year, we have come MILES.
  • Work on first and second level trot work. - YEP! First level trot lengthenings are in the making, and we're also working on collection, which we'll need for second level.  Of course, trotting in a relaxed manner, over his back, with consistent contact and bend is uhhh... a work in progress. But we are starting to have a lot of the pieces!
  • Solidify canter leads until there's no doubt he'll get what I ask for. - YEP! His leads are great and we're getting 7/8 on our canter departs. Woot!
  • Work on balance and collection in canter. A 10 meter canter circle by December would be a nice Christmas gift. :) - EH. We CAN do a 10 meter canter circle when he's very balanced, but he's definitely not confirmed in this movement. Plus we can't canter in a straight line and be balanced, but that's not on the list. ;)
  • Have a great working partnership built on trust and good basics. - YES!!! And this is the best part of Paddy!
  • Put in a first-level dressage test, either at home or at a show, and do a good job of it. - YES! I'm not sure if I'd call it a "good job" but I'm pretty happy with both of the first level tests we did. Lots of improvement needed, but it's a start!
We also qualified for our local GMO's championships (sadly cancelled) at Training, and apparently we are getting a year-end award. That wasn't on the list, but WOOT!

The bestest, squeeziest Haffie EVAR!

We had some goals around jumping, none of which we accomplished. After a
disappointing schooling HT in February, I reconsidered whether or not I wanted to get back into eventing seriously. I haven't jumped Paddy since that show, and oddly, I haven't wanted to. Not even tempted to pop over an X in the arena. It's weird, but I'm rolling with it. 

I also had some Haflinger registry goals, which I failed miserably at because I didn't keep track of my rides and didn't send in my scores. Lazy = Fail. As for my crazy-ass dreams, I didn't do a recognized show in 2014 but am planning on one mid-January, and I didn't do a freestyle at a show but I did do one at home. Alas, now I don't like the music so I don't think I'll ever perform it, but we'll see.

Now, looking ahead for this year:
  • Be lighter and more obedient to the aids in dressage. Because really, can you ever have enough of this?
  • Be more consistent on first and second level trot work.
  • Canter, canter, canter. Strength, balance, and we need to find some lengthenings and collection in there, along with counter-canter, simple changes, and walk-canter-walk transitions.
  • Laterals - we have the start, we need to solidify leg yield, shoulder in, and haunches in.
  • Continue to have fun with Paddy and work on our partnership. I love him more every time I ride him, so really, this is the most important goal!
Show goals:
  • Show at USDF recognized shows, at levels we will be competitive. Right now this means Training, I'm hoping later in the year we'll be able to go First.
  • Improve our scores at First level.
  • Get off my lazy ass and send in our scores to the Haffie Registry. Seriously. Just dooo eeet!
Crazy-ass dreams:
  • Qualify for the Region 9 year end championships, and go if we qualify.
  • Get scores at Training/First toward a USDF rider award.
  • Get scores at First toward a USDF Bronze Medal.
  • Ride 2-1, either at home or at a show.
And I would totally get started on all this today, except that it's 34 degrees and raining here, and our arena has standing water in it. What a great way to start the new year!