Monday, December 30, 2019

A decade of Wyvern Oaks

I keep thinking about closing this blog down, because let's be real, I've been a terrible blogger for the last few years. But every time I try to write that final post, I just can't quite do it. So here we are...

November of this year marks a decade of Wyvern Oaks - both the blog and our little farmlet.

2009: We bought the place the weekend before Thanksgiving, hole in the roof and all. We knew we were up for remodels of just about everything on the property (and we were not wrong), but we couldn't pass up 2 acres just 6 miles from downtown Austin. 

The fabulous pink bathroom was the first thing to go in the remodel.

2010: We mostly focused on getting the place liveable and workable, for both us and the critters, so we didn't get much riding in. 

Basically the one riding post I did for all of 2010. That's me on Saga and hubby on Reddums.

2011: We built the barn and brought all the boys home, Taran put a nail through his foot, we went foxhunting, hubby did one of his first jousts ever, and we experienced the worst drought in 50 years. 

Lysts on the Lake 2011

Left to right: Taran, Reddums, Saga, and Cash

Foxhunting! I really miss this...

We bought a semi-load of hay from Canada and managed to cram it in our barn.

2012: Saga started off the year lame and ended the year even more lame, and Oberon came into our lives as Sean's new jousting horse. 

Oberon was such a hunk.

2013: This was a sucky year. We lost Saga in January (bone cysts), Oberon in June (colic), and Echo (who I'd gotten in February, but he had terrible headshaking) in September. I swore I wasn't getting another horse, but a certain enabler friend told me I needed a Haflinger and Paddington came to live with us, thus starting my obsession with Haffies.

Still in love with this face

2014: Paddy and I try our hand at dressage and do okay, but mostly we bowl for dressage letters. Brego comes to live with us.

Yes, that Brego!

2015: Paddy and I do some USDF rated shows and go to Regionals for the first time. We suck but I have a lot of fun getting back in the ring. Paddy makes his debut as a jousting horse because Brego blows out a massive abscess and can't joust, but then Paddy damages himself and I pull Taran out of the pasture because I'm desperate for something sound to ride. 

Padding looking fab at Regionals

Jousting Haffieeeeee!

The giantest abscess ever

Can you believe this horse eventually got a Bronze medal???

2016: Taran and I start showing, get our first Bronze score in March, and are schooling 2nd by the end of the year. Brego's recurring abscess turns out to be a deep P3 bone infection that runs up into his pastern, and there's nothing we can do but let him go. We lose both Brego and Cash in October.  

The bestest Brego

My first pony

2017: Taran and I got our 2nd level bronze scores. Despite Taran being diagnosed with Cushings in October, we qualified for USDF Nationals and came in 9th in the 1st level freestyle. Griffy came to live with us because one Haflinger just wasn't enough.

I only cried a little on our victory lap in the Alltech

2018: I rode Griffy in the spring (in between hubby jousting on him) and went to one rated show, where we did really well at Training. Taran and I focused hard on 3rd level, while struggling to manage his Cushings. We made one outing in November, and completed the USDF Bronze medal requirements with a 67+% and a 64+% on 3-3 (despite our "interesting" changes). 

I wish there had been pro pics at this show, but this extended trot got a 7.0!

Leo came to live with us in September, because hubby was jousting on Griffy and Paddy, and I was pretty sure I'd need someone new to ride.

2019: Taran stuggled with ongoing health and soundness issues related to Cushings, so we retired him in the spring. Sadly, we lost him colic in September. I didn't blog about it and I really still can't talk about it. I miss him terribly.

The bestest wonderpony ever.

Griffy decided he was no longer interested in being a jousting horse, so we were going to find him a nice sandbox home. However, while we were making the sales video we did most of 2-3 so we decided to keep him. I did 1-3 and 2-1 at a schooling show in December and walked away with a 68+% and a 67+%.

Apparently I had a fancy dressage horse in my backyard and didn't know it (PC: Erika Coleman Photography)

Little brother Leo is also fancy but is only five, and sometimes does not love adulting. He's a big fan of violence though (jousting and mounted combat, and also biting his brother's kneecaps), and hubby has been riding him regularly. 

Also Leo has fabulous hair (PC: Erika Coleman Photography)

And last but not least, a new face in town: Mago! He's a baby Lusitano, and we'll see where the future takes him.


To the future and beyond: Whew, it's been quite a rollercoaster with some pretty high highs and some very low lows. Oddly enough, we're just about to start another remodel (bathroom and kitchen) so... I guess the new decade will be starting in the same place as the old? I don't know that there will be another decade of this blog, but I've met so many wonderful people through blogging, and it's been a great way to keep track of memories. I wish everyone the best in the new year and new decade!

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Aren't you supposed to be lame and retired???

So sassy. Much leaping.

Four off the floor.

Clearly practicing for his debut at the SRS

That trot doesn't look very lame, does it?

Good rounding and use of hindquarters

Practicing his reining moves maybe?

I believe the judge calls this "croup high"

Showing off the TB half

That talio tho...

Don't call it a comeback yet, but we've been doing some light riding - and by "light" I mean maybe 5-7 minutes of trot and canter (with LOTS of walk breaks) every other day. He feels really, really good, and really, really sassy. He's out of shape cardio-wise (and so am I jeez), but he feels strong and solid. I'll probably never know what caused the lameness over the winter, but time is, as always, a great healer. I still have no plans for him, other than keeping things light and fun, and we'll see where that takes us. 

So fancy! Also so not lame...

Thursday, February 28, 2019

TBT: Freestyle video from USDF Nationals 2017

I was going through some random USB sticks the other day and found the one with our freestyle video from USDF Nationals in 2017. I'd actually never seen the video, so it was a nice surprise!

Sound on for Star Wars!

Watching this is a little bittersweet - Nationals was such an amazing experience, and I wish we'd been able to go back. I think about how far we've come since then, and how much I wish we had been able to do a second and third level freestyle. I had the music all picked out and the choreography sketched out too. Sniff.

All this is just to say, create wonderful memories and cherish them (like I will never forget that spook at A, because REALLY TARAN???). Do the things you want to do with your horse now, because you just don't know what tomorrow holds.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

R+ training the humans is going well

One of the problems with R+ (clicker) training is that your critters become very treat-motivated, and start offering all kinds of behaviors unasked for.

Of course, our animals have been trained carefully and correctly and would never, ever do this. Hahahahaha.

Let's take Leo for example. He's gone from a reactive baby horse to one who actively seeks out humans doing weird things. Which is good, I guess, but makes it a little challenging when you're actually trying to do things.

Guy in clanky metal stuff carrying stabby thing might have cookies.

This guy is wearing EVEN MORE clanky metal stuff but who cares, he might have cookies.

Also we should stop and check to see if this guy wearing weird clothes and standing on a mounting block with a stabby thing has any cookies, even if we are supposed to be walking past him.

Then there's our barn cat Charlie. She has trained us to give her canned food when we go for a walk. Here's how it works:

Charlie knows that if she follows us when we go for a walk down the street, we will abort our walk, scoop her up, bring her home and give her a can of food. This distracts her long enough so we can make our escape sans kitty. 

Our husky, Logan, has figured out how to rest his chin on things and lay his ears back so that he looks completely adorable and irresistible and you absolutely must pet him immediately.

Can you resist this? No you cannot.

Or this. I just want to pet the picture it's so cute. Clearly we have trained Logan very well so that he does extremely cute things to be petted. Or something.

And then there's Paddy, the original human trainer.

He's even trained this unknown human to give him cookies by looking cute.

Sooooo.... how's that R+ thing working for you?

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

How to win at bitey-face (by Leo, in pictures)

Approach unsuspecting opponent sneakily and show your teefs.

If he's not impressed, try a shoulder attack.

Act surprised when he retaliates.

Go for the ears on the counter-attack.

Lure him into an attack by sticking out your tongue to taunt him.

If you opponent is annoyed enough, he may strike swiftly. Defense maneuvers can be difficult when your opponent lacks any bones in his neck.

Your opponent may also be taller than you.

But you can show him.

Except that he might squash you if you're not careful.

Always remember that it's OK to run away so that you can play again later.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Too lame to ride, too obnoxious to retire

As you might have guessed from the lack of Taran posts, things are not going quite as well as we had hoped after the ProStride injection in his RF coffin joint.

I'm not even sure how this horse did what he did.

We gave it a full month to take effect, but... he's not sound. Or I should say, not sound enough for much other than walk work.

The haffies hate it when he goes for hand walks by himself.

So... we've been doing some tack walking to keep him from going stir crazy. Except, last week when we went out he took off at a MONSTER (lame) extended trot, stuck his nose on his chest, and took off bucking. I stayed on, but it was a little sketchy there for a minute.

EARZ ON HIGH ALERT OMG (I risked my life for this pic, normally his ears aren't anywhere this near my face)

The other day I put the boys out to graze for a few minutes while I was doing chores, and when I called everyone in for dinner, Taran gave me a big old EFF YOU. The haffies all came running for food, but T just... well, ran. Like an idiot. Bucking, spinning... clearly whatever is bothering him isn't bad enough to stop him from doing dumb stuff on his own time.

Admiring yourself in the mirror seems like a much more reasonable occupation SINCE YOU'RE LAME.

He's driving the other horses absolutely bonkers, because he gets everybody all riled up and then they just run and run. For some reason, he especially likes chasing Griffy, who is not super excited about Taran's attentions.

This is fine. Everything is fine.

Unfortunately, T seems going back to his bullying ways, I think because he's not getting as much attention and exercise as he is used to.

Also he never gets any cookies anymore.

We discussed options with the vet, and at this point we would need to have MRIs done of both front feet to really understand where we're at, and then formulate a treatment plan. And... well, based on his history (nail through coffin and navicuar bursa in 2011, super-thin soles, ongoing struggles with Cushings, etc), we've made the decision not to pursue additional treatment options.

Haflinger companions are an excellent treatment option. Also moar cookies. 

So technically he's retired, in that we're not going to be pushing toward 4th level or any other sort of goals. When/if he's sound, I'll do more with him riding-wise, and when/if he's not, we'll just tack walk. I have no agenda and no schedule for him. If at some point in the future, he's 110%, maaaaybe we'll think about legging him back up for competition. Maybe not. We'll take each day as it comes.

Honestly this is fun too, when he's not spinning and bolting away from the terrifying bunnies.

I rode him last night WTC both directions for the first time in two months, since he was feeling pretty good (a little NQR here and there, but overall good). We worked on straightness, balance, and self-carriage (fortheloveofgodineedtoletgooftheinsiderein), which honestly are things I will always need work on, but it felt good to work on ME and not have to worry about riding a baby. It was also kind of amazing to have power steering and brakes, and remember what a horse who is truly over his back feels like to ride. Not to mention feeling his biiiig, powerful, rolling canter under me again, even for just half a circle. (Ok I know it's not that big in the grand scheme of things, but it feels light-years different from Leo's flat unbalanced racy baby canter.) Oh, and the bucks were nice too.

So that's the state of things in Taran-land. He's retired, sort of... but maybe not really?

Yeah buddy, I feel the same way.