Plz select your jousting haffie
Long-time readers will remember that Paddy, who is a jousting savant, has been struggling on and off for several years with a likely DDFT injury to his right front. Earlier this year, he injured himself AGAIN playing out in the pasture, and we had the vet out AGAIN. This time, she recommended we simply retire him. If he's hurting himself being a horse, there's just not much we can do about it. I refuse to keep him locked in a stall for the rest of his life, and we've rehabbed so many times just to have him damage it again.
So. No more jousting for Paddington.
Which is a damn shame, because he is really good at it
Which left Griffy.
To be fair, we bought Griffy as a second jousting horse. But when we got him home, it became pretty apparent that he might never joust. You need a horse that has a certain self-confidence to joust or do mounted combat, because they have to be willing to go up against another horse with a can-do attitude.
Things Griffy is good at include being petted by his adoring fans
Griffy doesn't have that. He's the lowest in pecking order in our small herd. He wants to snuggle with humans, and gets all of his confidence from his rider - he absolutely lives for you to tell him "good boy!" during your rides. He's super sensitive to changes in weight, your seat, noises, movement... basically, everything you *don't* want in a jousting horse. We'd even talked about selling him as a dressage horse after his success at his first show, and looking for a horse that would be more suitable for jousting instead.
No scary armor and nobody's trying to hit your rider in dressage
But. Husband and I both love him, and he's SUPER fun to ride. We are both learning a lot from him and don't want to give him up. Plus, he was our only option so we had to try.
Also it's really hard to beat this hair
We took things super slow, and went through more treats than I can count. I spent more than a week doing nothing more than walking up and down the jousting lane, stopping at the ends and hanging out, quite literally texting on my phone while we stood there. We practiced slow trots and canters in the lane. We practiced stopping. We added a lance, and one piece of armor at a time. Every ride, we pretended like we were starting from 0, with no expectations. We went to every practice we could, and kept everything slow, methodical, and positive.
And this weekend, at our annual Lysts on the Lake joust, Griffy took my husband to the finals.
Did I mention that he's the smallest horse out there?
Perfect stop at the end, and I hand over the cookies :D
He stood at the beginning of the lane better than any other horse there, and he always stopped at the end (granted, I was there with cookies). There were a couple of really big hits, one of which nearly unseated my husband, and Griffy kept doing his job even though you could tell he was a bit rattled. We always made a huge fuss of him at the end of the lane, telling him what a good boy he was, there were some runs where my husband was even telling he was good during the run. The other jousters were joking that his motto needed to be "Who's a good boy!"
YES I AM A GOOD BOY!!!
Reddums the Feerless War Pony also came back out for the occasion. We retired him about four years ago, and he's been doing great since then, but this winter he started really losing his topline and looking his age. I decided to start riding him a bit (literally 10 minutes of walk and 2-3 minutes of trot a few times a week) and he really muscled back up and seemed to be enjoying the attention - or maybe it was the cookies? Hubby got on him a few times and did a little sword work, and Red thought that was pretty much the best thing ever, so they started ramping up their routine a bit, still keeping it light in deference of Red's age. Originally Hubby had planned to only do the joust on Griffy, but Red seemed fit enough for the skill at arms and mounted combat melee, which is Red's favorite. Even at 25, they came in second place out of a fairly large field. Little guy still has it in him!
Professional Attack War Pony
All in all, it was a great weekend, and I'm super proud of both my husband and Griffy for sticking with it, doing what the horse needed, and making it work. Griffy might not be the bravest, but he's the best. :)