Monday, April 30, 2018

The new jousting horse in town

This year has been a bit of a challenge for my husband in the jousting arena.

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.

Family portrait

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!"


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. :)


Friday, April 27, 2018

Haflinger'd (verb)


  1. to have been attacked or damaged by a Haflinger
"Did you accidentally dump the wheelbarrow over?" "Sigh... no, it's been Haflinger'd" 
Griffy has no idea how this could have happened.
 "Why is the gate no longer attached to the rest of the fence?" "*@*&&*%!$, Paddington must have Haflinger'd it"
Paddignton would like to point out that we have no actual evidence that it was his fault.
"My goodness, what happened to this poor water bottle that got left on the fence post overnight?" "Oh that? Looks like it's been Haflinger'd" 


synonyms: FUBAR, effed up, damaged, mangled, bent, broken, stomped, squashed

antonym: Everything is just fine, nothing to see here, please move along.

Also, plz to feed cookies because starvation is a very real possibility.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Suicide Blonde (Haffie)

After 3 solid years of USDF rated shows, I still get super anxious about showing. What I'm anxious about, I don't know, but one way for me to be less anxious is to show regularly. Unfortunately, until T and I are ready to rock Third, we're staying home, so I decided that Griffy could be T's stand-in. So with exactly one schooling show under our belt (where Griffy wasn't exactly an exemplary competitor), I decided to sign Griffy up for a rated show. What could possibly go wrong?

The drive to the show was uneventful (just the way you want it), and we got settled in Friday afternoon. Like a true Haffie, Griffy kept calling to someone, ANYONE at the show who he might know. Tragically for him, nobody answered. We got in a solid schooling ride, and although he looked around a little bit, he tried really hard and stayed focused on me for the most part. I headed to my favorite sushi place with a good friend after, and called it an early night.


Saturday morning I had plenty of time to get breakfast, panic, groom, panic, clean tack, panic, braid Griffy, and panic. I decided to split his mane, half on either side of his neck, and then sew the tail of his braid back up under, which worked kinda meh. Dude just has SO MUCH HAIR it's kinda ridiculous.

He's basically cousin It.

This worked pretty well though

Our first test was Training 2. My goal was to keep his trot tempo steady and his canter balanced. I literally counted "one, two, one, two" under my breath for the entire trot tour. Luckily the judge didn't hear us and it really helped keep me honest with the rhythm... and if I was on it, he was on it. Our canter departs were significantly more dignified than they have been, which was really huge. He stayed focused and soft and while the whole test was kind of unpolished, I walked out of the arena feeling like I really couldn't have asked for any more for his first time out. Our score of 69.615% was generous, but I'm also not going to complain about it! Also Griffy got his first blue ribbon at a rated show.

You get crap stills because the lighting was terrible and all the video was super bouncy 

We had about an hour before Training 3 - just enough time to cool off and reset your brain. Griffy was feeling a little tired in warmup, and he starts to get a little nappy. He likes to lean on the bit and your left leg, fall on his forehand, and just generally say that he can't possibly do it. A few reminders that he has to hold up his end of the bargain if he wants to get fed, and he usually digs in and offers up his best work. It's kind of interesting, but he really does try if you ask him.

Could I please just put my hands down already

We had another pretty decent test, although we had a canter step in the trot and his canter got a little flat and unorganized. I wasn't as good about riding every step and helping him out as I was earlier in the day, and he seems to really need that from me at this point in his career, so that's definitely on me. Still, we walked out with a 67.955%, which counts as a qualifying score for regionals (both SWDC and GAIG). We were second behind a USDF Gold Medalist and her Very Fancy young Dutch Harness Horse (OMG SO FANCY), so I will totally take that. We also ended up reserve champion AA for Training Level, which I was definitely not expecting.

That moment when you boot your baby horse with your outside leg so he won't fall out of the arena.

Sunday was a repeat of the same, except that our T2 test was a leeeetle more exciting than I had hoped for. Halfway through our test, a horse got loose in the barn area and went galloping down the road past our arena, screaming his head off. All of the hamsters fell out of Griffy's head, and he was FOR SURE going to join said galloping horse. I had a number of Very Ugly Movements where I tried to both collect the hamsters and wrestle him around the arena in some semblance of the movements, but it was pretty much a lost cause. The judge wrote "horse needs more confidence" in the comments, which I think was a nice way of summing up "Probably need to work on your horse thinking he's going to die cold and alone in the sandbox." We got a 61.538% for our sad efforts, but I'm really not sure what I would have done differently to keep him together. Little guy just needs more miles. 

Also remember to tighten your girth before going into the arena so your saddle doesn't slip when your horse loses his hamsters.

I decided that I was NOT going to end the weekend on such a crap test, so I went into T3 with my whip (which I had not ridden with all weekend because he's usually too sensitive to it) and a whole bucketload of determination to redeem ourselves. While the test lacked polish, it was fairly consistent and earned us a 66.591%, for second place (behind Fancy Dutch Horse again) and another regional qualifying score.

Not as fancy as Fancy Dutch Horse, but awfully darn cute

The icing on the weekend is that we qualified for a Training level freestyle... which means I FINALLY get to ride to Suicide Blonde by INXS. Because it's basically perfect Haffie freestyle music, amirite?