Friday, August 29, 2014

Adventures in London part 2- Monday

After our busy day at the Tower and a few other non-horsey sights on Sunday, Monday was tame in comparison.  Or maybe the jet lag was just starting to wear off...
All the horses I saw were at Harrods.  For anyone not aware, Harrods is this huge department store.  I think it's five floors and there are departments for everything.  Seriously, there's a department devoted to pens and stationary and it is expensive.  But then, so is everything else there.   

Tell me you don't want one of these sweet horses! Available for the price of most jumpers you'd find on the circuit!

Aww! Maybe these cute plushie horses will be more my speed (and price range)

HA! HAaahahaha no. 
Quick lesson in price conversion: One pound is currently valued at approximately $1.80 in Canadian dollars.  So, this cute little haffie costs about $215.  Yikes!

This was a life size plush pony.  I wasn't brave enough to look at the price tag, but the slightly smaller deer was listed at about 4000 pounds, so feel free to extrapolate as you like.  

Also look at the little bay's scary teeth! 

Tuesday had more horses, so keep holding on for some real horses coming up! 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Adventures in London part 1- Sunday

So much for beating jet lag Sunday night.  I fell asleep at about 6:30 with no blog post.  Then yesterday my phone didn't want to co-operate with my computer and none of the photos would go onto my computer.  So, without further ado, I'll detail my trip.  To borrow a phrase from Jen at Braymere Custom Saddlery, I spent most of the trip looking for horse-shaped objects.  (Jen is an awesome model horse tackmaker, and whenever she goes on a museum type outing, she documents every horse-related thing she can find, so I borrowed her idea this last week when I was on my trip)

Bright and early Sunday morning (and I do mean early, I woke up at 2:30 in the morning pretty much unable to get back to sleep.  Thanks again jet lag), the family and I got up to go to the Tower of London.

There was this beautiful art piece with thousands and thousands of ceramic poppies, one for each of the soldiers from the British Commonwealth killed in WWI.

Here's a travel tip if any of you ever happen to go to London and want to see the crown jewels: go at opening time for the Tower and make a beeline for the crown jewels.  That's what we did and there was no line (the rest of the day there's about a 45 minute to an hour line), and it was practically empty inside, much more enjoyable than once it gets busy and it's packed.  After the crown jewels, we went on a guided tour lead by a yeoman warder (beefeater), and then just wandered around from place to place. 

 My favourite was the beasts exhibit.  It talked about the animals that used to be on display at the tower, including an ostrich, some snakes, a polar bear, a zebra, and a few others that escape me.  There were all kinds of funny stories about the animals, like the snakes being kept warm wrapped in a blanket on top of a stove, or the zebra who was fond of ale and would steal it from people (I'm not kidding).  My favourite, though, was the ostrich. The poor thing died from eating a nail that lodged itself in it's throat because tourists had believed ostriches could digest iron and threw it nails for a snack.  But alas, besides the naughty zebra, not an equine was to be found.

That is, not until we went into the White Tower.  The white tower served as the home for the royal family for hundreds of years, and it was not short on the equestrian.  One of the first things I saw was this display of the remnants of what once was called the Line of Kings.  It used to stand at the White Tower and show off the suits of armor of the kings, mounted fashionably on wooden horses. 

Why yes, I have considered a career in professional photography. 
Look at that bit! I dunno, that horse looks a little wild.  Might wanna try something with leverage. 
This one, besides the weird breastplate had some sort of muzzle.
Close up of the muzzle. 

I took a photograph of the documentation for this one, so I'll add the description. "These wooden horses were originally made as decorative mounts for the Line of Kings.  Swathed in armor and fabric, they gave their royal 'riders' added presence.  Standing between 14 and 15 hands tall, only the one at the back is smaller.  So far it has proved impossible to match the surviving horses with the six carvers who made them.  From 1883 the horses were displayed in the White Tower, parading around the top floor. Gradually they were spread throughout the galleries until the 1960's, when fewer were shown.  Today we celebrate them as important sculptures in their own right, not mere props."  At the bottom it listed the wooden horse statues circa 1685-90.  

"Here Be Dragons

This 'ancient German saddle' was displayed in the western vestibule of the New Horse Armoury in the mid-19th century.  Its bone plaques are decorated with dragons, and ite was possibly a gift from the Emperor Sigismund to King Henry on his joining the Hungarian Dragon order in 1416."
A pretty cool looking saddle, though I'm not so sure about how comfortable it would have been.  

Not horse-related but just look at those broadswords! They're significantly taller than I am.  
"These two bearing swords may have been associated with Henry IV or his son Henry V and would have been carried ceremonially, blades upwards, symbolising the monarch's power.  The slightly shorter sword is 2.3 m (89.25 in) long and each weighs over 6 kg (about 14 lb)."

I don't think I have words about this contraption.  Wow.  

"Horse Bit

Probably from the armoury of Henry VIII this horse bit has etched and gilt decoration.  Although no royal badges are included in its decoration these might have appeared on its bosses which are now missing." 

This was far and away my favourite tack item I saw my entire trip (and there are some VERY COOL tack items coming up in my post series).


Tail Piece by Kunz Lochner
This sculptural fragment originally came from a horse armour.  Modelled as a dragon's head, it is designed to fit at the rear of the horse, providing the illusion that the tail is streaming from the dragon's mouth.  The crupper for which it was originally made is in the Castle Museum at Malbark in Poland"

HOW AWESOME IS THAT? I seriously want one.  It would look so sweet with Jazz's fiery red (okay it's mostly brown.  She does love the mud) tail streaming out of it.  I want about seven of these.  SO COOL.

This was the second fanciest stirrup I saw on my trip.  

Presentation Stirrup (Abumi)  
This is made in the form of a traditional Japanese stirrup (abumi)...."
(The rest of the description was really boring so I didn't bother copying it here)

This was a weird-looking helmet which I accidentally photographed the wrong description for, so enjoy it's prominent nose and moustache with no explanation whatsoever.  

This seemed to be the same type of muzzle as the one I saw in the Line of Kings display.  
"Horse Muzzle

The fashion for horse muzzles was short-lived; many are dated between 1552 and 1621.  The majority came from South and East Germany, and very little is known about their use.  Equestrian equipment was often acquired by armour collectors.  

THIS was the fanciest stirrup I saw all week.  Not really, I'm just kidding. That's coming up later.  
"Over a thousand years old and of a type that the Vikings would have recognized, this iron stirrup has inlaid brass scroll decoration on its outer surfaces.  Said to have been found in the River Thames."  

That was a lot more work than I expected! I have a newfound respect for the dedicated bloggers who have tons of beautiful photos on every post.  It was a serious struggle to get mine uploaded and accessible.  I would always love to hear your thoughts too, so feel free to share! 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

This week in London

Me! I just returned from an eight day trip to England, and I plan to write up the first installment of a few posts I have planned about my trip while I try to stay awake and beat jet lag tonight. More to come!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Blog swap tack hop!

Okay that title isn't entirely accurate but hey,  it rhymes! Either way I'm participating in the $900 Facebook pony's Tack swap and sale! 

Unfortunately, upon review, I found I had little extra horse tack to be parting with (which is surprising considering how much I frequent tack shops).  Nonetheless, there is definitely something to get rid of.

Nurtural Crossunder Bitless Bridle in blue.  Nylon webbing material, size horse. $65 obo or I'd be open to a swap. Jazz normally fits either horse or cob size and the buckles were somewhere in the middle of the holes for her.  I bought it wanting to have a bitless bridle to play with and have as an option, but Jazz didn't really take to it and I didn't want to put the work in with it because she does go pretty nicely in the bit. She had it on maybe three times and I thoroughly cleaned it. I also have a pair of barrel reins I forgot to photograph in a lighter blue and black that I would be willing to throw in if someone wants both bridle and reins.  The reins are normal length though, not super short barrel reins or anything.

Why yes, I am a photographer in my spare time.  Just look at that sale photo.  Immaculate.
 And that's it.  Yes, really.  Well, no, really, but for horse stuff that's it.  However in cleaning out my closet recently I found a couple of purses I keep meaning to sell on kijiji but keep forgetting about, so I'm going to put them up here if anyone's interested.

Pink Coach purse. A bit bigger than the size of a dvd case.  Asking $35 obo. 

No, this is not a super weird bit I'm trying to sell, I just wanted to prove it's coach. 

Notice how I don't have a detail shot of the logo like for the Coach? Juicy likes to have their branding right up front. 
Last but not least a Juicy couture purse. Medium sized, you could fit a textbook in there in terms of dimensions.  Asking $80 obo.  

That said, this is a tack (or in my case not so much tack) swap, so I would possibly interested in trades for the following items
-All purpose full size saddle pads (especially if you have Lettia coolmax)
-A decent english bridle with a cavesson noseband.  I love raised and/or padded browbands, but not a necessity as I am a) just starting english riding and b)unlikely to be showing seriously at all. Maybe a fun schooling show or something in the next few months or year but nothing requiring anything fancy.  I'm honestly not sure if Jazz would need cob or horse sized, so I would probably want measurements
-Myler level 1 comfort eggbutt snaffle with plain sides.  As much as I love my fancy sided one, I don't know it would fly for english showing if I were to head down that road
-horse books and dvds (the instructional kind) on topics I might be interested in pursuing 

Granted, I am not dead set.  If you're interested in offering something else for trade, I might be interested.  I can be emailed at, and I will be checking comments too! Happy shopping! 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Long Overdue Post feat. Purple!

I seem to have gotten out of the habit of blogging.  Free time apparently equals both lots of horsey time both in the saddle and cuddles, but conversely causes zero blogging motivation.

There's been some lessons, with more progress than frustration/confusion on my part, so I'd say that's a good index for measuring how things are going.  We've been doing lots of trotting and canterwork, I've been learning the finer points of two-point, and Jazz has been more awesome than I could have hoped at a few points this year (like this one and this one and a few I chose to exclude from the blog).  I mean, she's still my Jazz.  She still avoids using her muscles properly by taking wide turns and slowing down, she still occasionally goes into a strung out gross trot that drives me absolutely INSANE faster than any other behavior she has when I ask for a canter transition, and the occasional head toss gets thrown into the mix.  But, I tend to exaggerate the negatives of Jazz a little.  I have a horsey friend that is horse-poor who, not so long ago, mentioned in passing that she was going to a friend's farm to ride their horse.  I told her that she could come ride Jazz anytime, to which she responded "No. No offence, but your horse sounds too crazy."  I promise you, she is definitely a wild thing.

I mean,

would you just look at all this well documented,




behavior? It's no wonder!
This is the average day with Jazz, pre-ride.  I ground tie her on the grass by the arena, and she naps heavily until I force her to 'be awake' and 'open for the bit' and 'move with energy'.  It's a wonder she puts up with such nonsense interrupting her sleep.  
Okay, Jazz technically was drugged in two of those photos (don't worry, it's all on the level), but she really is an awesome chill horse.  I forget to appreciate that sometimes.  I recently played with two other horses who, not to disparage perfectly fine, lovely horses, were NOT Jazz.  They had absolutely no ground manners, my biggest pet peeve with any horse.  It's not their fault, they were just never taught boundaries, but one of them couldn't stay out of my space for longer than two seconds without trying to step forward into me.  Talk about pushy!  I get so spoiled with Miss Jazz, who even when she isn't listening I can push her in a lot of directions from the ground.  I mean, she won't move properly and with respect, but by God, she'll move without significant pulling or pushing (though there is occasional rope swinging, tapping, and interjections of "you better move or else").  She leads so well I can't even describe it.  On a good day, it's essentially like walking around a balloon on a string.  I mean, any decent horse with regular work leads well, but spending time around other's young(er) horses and working with them really brings appreciation to a horse that is well halterbroke. And she ground ties. Can we take a minute to appreciate that? I can lead her to a patch of grass.  Let me say that again. Grass. As in, pretty much all she eats, and I can let go of her.  I can have no immediate contact with her and she will neither wander off, nor eat the main staple of her diet that is three feet below her face.  How amazing is that! And she does that every day I see her.  Every one! And more often than not, she falls asleep.  Takes a nice nap right there, completely unrestrained, free to go wherever her little horsey brain tells her, and she stays where I want her and naps.  Horses, right?

Anyways, I'm not going to go into real specific details about our riding recently in this post.  Its been a lot of the boring stuff as I work to improve my balance, seat, muscles, legs, hands, heels, eye line, and a whole multitude of other things.  Instead, I'm going to recap some of our recent purchases.

The first, and the one I was pretty excited about at the time of purchase was a pair of Cavallo Simples.  I'm not happy with Jazz's feet over gravel and hard surfaces, but I'm not interested in shoes, so hoof boots were the obvious solution.  

That said, my love for the idea of the Cavallos and what I'd read and seen so far, was not met with abject love to match when I put them on my horse.  According to the Cavallo website, if they're hard to get on, they're too small, and if they rotate all the way around, they're too big.  Simple right? I wish.  I put them on, and they did go on easily.  Not too small? Check.  I checked and tried to rotate them, and they did turn.  Not too big? Um.  But, they didn't rotate all the way around like the website said they're not supposed to.  But, they did rotate about a quarter turn either way.  But, the fitting guide said some movement side to side is fine because the hoof expands in motion.  But, it said nothing about the amount of rotation acceptable.  Um.  They were also kind of flopping around and clippy-cloppy when she walked, and I just wasn't sure at all.  They were also quite wide around the tops, I suspect just because Jazz doesn't have a lot of bone.  I was the least worried about that, because there are a bajillion options for wraps and whatnot that I could put around her fetlocks if I'm really that worried about the gap.  I decided I felt unsure enough about them that I couldn't have my horse wearing them on the trails and me being relaxed about it, so I traded them in for a smaller size.  No dice.  The smaller ones wouldn't even go on.  I'm considering the Cavallo simples, which have a different shape and may fit differently or better.  I'm also considering trying other boots possibly, it's not certain right now.  I'd like to learn a little more about boots before going shopping  for alternatives since my first attempt didn't take.  Oh well.  

The Cavallos on.  Muy suave, no?

This picture better shows the gap around the top. 
 I also picked up some thinning shears and a thinning comb to help even out Jazz's mane and tail.  I'm not quite willing to go for the pulled mane and banged tail look yet, though I do admire how clean it looks.  That being said, there were some weird, scraggly long hairs in her mane that I found annoying.  Her tail was also getting long and considering it was already relatively thin, I worried about her stepping on it and making it thinner, so I wanted it shorter, but I learned in attempting to do so I was not born to be a hairdresser.  I mean, I was using my curved fetlock shears, which didn't help.  I was hoping to make it shorter but still natural looking, though it still looks semi-banged.  At least it's not too long!

This picture I posted recently kind of shows my attempt at fixing Jazz's tail.  If I remember I'll get a better picture, since I messed around with it some more since this was taken.  

Last but not least I bough a pretty purple saddle pad!

Why, yes, this picture is nearly identical to the one above, but it's not the same one I swear!
I think purple's her color!  I'm thinking maybe I'll do a product review of the saddle pad and girth I bough to try with my new English saddle once I get a few better pictures of both of them.