Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Day at Doug Payne's

I'll take one for the entrance to our farm!  Thanks!

I recently had a short trip to Aiken and during that trip got the opportunity to hang out at Doug and Jess Payne's barn for a couple days.

I have been a big Doug Payne fan for quite some time now.  I can't remember exactly when I first started really following him but I recently stumbled across a really old post I shared to someone's wall in 2011 about him.  So, since 2011 atleast.  This link is his helmet cam from High Society III at the Fair Hill*** in 2011.

I have always liked the way he rides, his training, and the way he conducts himself.  I did do a course walk with him a few years ago and that was the first time I had met him in person.  He was super nice and down to Earth.  Some of these pros act like everyone needs to bow down and kiss their hand before they speak to them.  Not Doug, and not Jess either.  They are both very, very cool people.

Anyway, one of those days I got to watch all of Doug and Jess' rides.  Both of them kept apologizing that a lot of the horses were coming off their short winter break so there wouldn't be any big jumping to see that day.  I was happy to watch them ride no matter what.

Well, Quincy must have heard that little bit of information and decided that sounded a bit boring.  Quincy is one of his young horses, and he was FRESH to say the least.  Sure, Doug is a 4* eventer and GP jumper rider but, you know what is really impressive?  The way he handles his firecrackers.

Despite Quincy leaping and hopping all over, Doug just had this big smile and kept him moving forward.  There was no yelling, no yanking, no smacking.  None.  Just a smile.  At one point he even laughed a little bit and said "Is that all you got today??"  You want to see all Quincy had that day?  Here you go:

I don't care how wild Quincy wants to get, he was hands down my favorite in the barn.  He caught my eye as soon as he started trotting in the ring and I said "What is he?"  Holsteiner.  I knew it.  These Holsteiners have had my eye this entire year.  Every single time I've seen something I instantly fall in love with at an event and go look it up, it's a Holsteiner.  So, Quincy just pretty much sealed the deal for me.  I will add a Holsteiner to my collection.

His other firecracker that day was one of his GP jumpers, Portugal.  Drop dead gorgeous horse, but he must have saw Quincy's rodeo tricks and decided he couldn't let Quincy win that competition.  Portugal was LEAPING off the ground like he was part of the Lippazaner show.  I didn't get any pics of him because I was too busy watching.  The entire time Doug was maintaining a calm conversation with me ring side too.  Here's Portugal courtesy of Doug's IG, quite the athlete as you can see:

Ok, so, you guys think Klein is big, right?  I tell people all the time that despite her size, there ARE warmbloods BIGGER than her.  By bigger I mean both taller, weigh more, and wear a bigger blanket than she does.  Here's one!

Big Leo!  I remember watching this big guy run Training level in Area 3, now he's a 3* horse.

But, when you're 6'3" Big Leo looks average size.

 Mr. Rolex himself, Quinn, aka Vandiver.  Huge congrats to Doug too, he and this superstar here were just named to the Eventing High Performance Training List today!

The barn.  Absolutely stunning.

Can I just live in a stall??

Half the horses are in this barn above and the other half are in the next barn over at Phillip Dutton's place down there.  So, it was also cool to be in Phillip Dutton's barn and see the "PD" saddle racks in the tack room as well as all the boxes piling up from UPS with his name on them waiting for when he arrives in a couple weeks. 

After Doug and Jess were done with their rides we all went for lunch, then we went to dinner that evening at the Willcox, a well known equestrian establishment in Aiken (wait, isn't that all of Aiken?).  The food was awesome, definitely go if you are ever in the area. 

Big thanks to Doug and Jess (as well as their team) for the hospitality.  They are two very cool, down to earth, talented people that work very hard and deserve all the success they achieve.

If scheduling works out, Klein and I will be making a little trip to Aiken for a week this spring for a little DPEquestrian spring tune up.

Friday, December 16, 2016

How to Dress a Draft Horse

A very common question I am asked is brands for specific pieces of tack that Klein has.  There is no black and white answer.  Everything is, it depends.  I can tell you what brands of items I use on Klein, however there is absolutely no one size or one brand fits all when it comes to big horses.  For example, Klein is a 17hh Percheron, yet draft sized halters and bridles are slightly too big because she has such a refined head.

Trial and error is your friend with big horses.  Find a brand that works well on them and stock up.  I see so many posts on social media "ISO of 7" bit" or "ISO of 100 inch blanket."  Your first step would be to MEASURE your horse.  Just because they are big, doesn't mean that they need giant tack, believe it or not.  Also, not all drafts need draft specific tack, and honestly, stay away from it because most draft specific riding tack (I said most, not all) is extremely poor quality.  Here is an example:

A "draft horse saddle" *barf*

So many people just go straight to a search for "Draft Tack" when they want to put their draft under saddle.  I started to fall in that trap in the first months of owning Klein because I wasn't really familiar with what all is out there.  That was almost ten years ago, I've learned a lot since then in this department.

Klein has one piece of tack that is actually made for bigger horses, and that is her jumping saddle, a Duett Presto.  However, when we're done with the Presto, I don't think I'll get another Duett.  I think I'll be looking at a CWD.  I have had her fitted by a CWD rep before.  They had no problems fitting her and had plenty of options for us.  She also has had a Voltaire on before and it was fine.  Her dressage saddle is nothing more than a Wintec Isabell.  It has the XW gullet in it, and fits us both well so why fix something that isn't broken?  Same idea with the Presto, it fits us, and it's really comfortable, so I will keep it until I have an actual reason to buy a new jumping saddle.

She's normal sizes in saddle pads.  Her half pad is a Mattes shimable pad and it fits fine.

Klein wears a Micklem bridle for everything.  It's their largest size, "large horse", and no she is not on the last buckles of any part of that bridle.  Before that she wore a Bobby's bridle, also not a draft specific brand.

She wears breast collars in Oversize (OS) aka Warmblood (WB).  Brands that fit will vary.

Boots have been a pain and we are very limited but I have found something that works and bought multiple pairs.  Woof Double Locking brushing boots are what works best for her.  She is an L in the front and XL in the rear.  Polo wraps, she can wear horse size polo wraps no problem.  The standard 9' length has never been an issue.  Standard no bows and even Back on Track Quick Wraps fit her as well.  Keep in mind I keep her feather trimmed too though.

 Back on Track Quick Wraps

Blankets, Klein is an 84-86, depending on the brand.  Big Fella blankets are popular among the draft community because they are billed as draft blankets with a draft specific wide cut.  I bought one, and the fit on Klein sucked.  The length overall was fine, but the length of the blanket on the sides was short and she's only 17hh, she's not a big draft by any means.  What does work?  Amigo XL.  Klein and Wes both have Amigo XLs.  Wes is a 90 and he is 18hh.  The cut and fit are GREAT on the
 Amigo XL!

 LOVE the Amigo XLs for drafts!

Back on Track Quarter Sheet.

Back on Track Mesh sheet

Bits, Klein is a 6" in anything with a solid mouthpiece and a 6.5" in anything with a broken mouthpiece.  Those can be a bit challenging to find, but they are out there!  My personal favorite site to find anything you are looking for in bigger sizes is this place: Yes, it is from England, but the shipping isn't that much more.  They even have a trial program with their bits and the program allows overseas shipping.  Shipping doesn't take as long as you might think either.

If you really are against dealing with overseas shipping, Draft Tack is actually probably the best source of variety in the U.S. as far as bits in size 6" and larger.  You can find them here, the menu is on the left for different styles:

Girths, a lot of people fall victim to looking for a "draft girth" on this one too.  Measure your horse.  Find a girth you like or a style of girth you like and spend some time researching if they exist in the size you need.  Klein has all Total Saddle Fit Girths.  She isn't even in the largest sizes they make.

Her TSF girth for her jumping saddle.

I recently read some rant on a Facebook page full of horse people from a person that had just bought a full draft and was on her soapbox about not wanting to pay more for tack.  This isn't always the case, but with some items, it is because there is not a lot of demand for them in the sizes we are looking for.  You have to pay to play.  Don't get the horse if you are not willing to buy the appropriate tack.  She was throwing a fit about paying over $100 for a bit.  I guess she's not familiar with KK or Myler.  If you want quality things, you pay for it.  If you want quality things (and you should) for your big horse, you're definitely going to pay for it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

First November in NJ!

We are coming up to the year mark here pretty quick with our time in New Jersey.  Here is our first November in NJ in some pictures and video clips...

More pretty fall mornings.

Just after breakfast, which means pony group nap time was imminent.

One of their pastures looking pretty with the leaves.

Mochs lllloves her dad!  She always comes in when he calls her.  Check out how she's moving too!
A video posted by Stacey C (@jumpingpercheron) on

 Out for some slow gallops.

What ride would be complete without a roll afterward?!

My girl doing what she does...and looking beautiful while she does it.

We were schooling coming back when I asked and then lengthening in the canter at random intervals so she wouldn't anticipate. 

Also schooled lengthenings at the trot.  I'm VERY proud of this girl for where we're at with this.  She's off the ground in this pic if you look closely too.

A video posted by Stacey C (@jumpingpercheron) on
And here you can see it motion.  I cannot tell you how many people (some that were instructors) have told me that she's not capable of this because "she's not built for it" or "her neck is huge."  Noted. But I'm not expecting Grand Prix quality movements, but I KNOW she is capable, it just took a while for me to show her she CAN.  I know my girl, and I wouldn't ask her to do something I didn't genuinely feel she could do.  Also, it's taken a bit because I'm learning teaching her these things as I go as well.  She would have picked it up faster if I would have been a better teacher for her.

This is what happens when you are five minutes late to get dinner ready.  Wes starts throwing stuff on the ground in protest.  He has a routine, and that means EVERYBODY needs to stick to it.

*le sigh* it's been almost 10 privileged years of owning this mare and I still fall in love with her pretty much every time I look at her.  Totally considering getting another Klein tattoo lately, surprising, I know.

Have to be supple, though she's being a bit dramatic here.

The Other Half saw Mochs' favorite salt block was on sale at TSC one evening so he made sure to grab her one.  Here he is trying to show her he got her a new one.  Yes, he does lick the salt block too, you know, to demonstrate for her.

About to get goodnight kisses.

See?  Yep, this is an every day thing.

Warming up on our trails around our property.

He gives the best hugs because he's basically a giant teddy bear!

This is the stare down I get every single morning I come back from the gym.  If she had a watch, she'd be looking at it, tapping a hoof.  BTW, big horse people, Amigo XL, best draft blanket I've found so far.  Amazing cut, great fit, very durable!  I've tried SS Tack's Big Fella line and some others that were supposed to be cut for drafts and they just never fit great. 

I had to have another epidural spinal injection this past week.  This was the second one and should get rid of the rest of the nerve pain I had.  The first one took care of most of it, so they did a second one to clear up the last bit.  I highly recommend this procedure!  If you look at the second needle, you'll see kind of a dark v like line, that is the steroids being injected.  L4 and L5 were injected.  This does relate to riding since this part of the body is in heavy use while riding.  My nerve pain never was irritated by riding, but since these injections I do notice I feel more centered in the saddle.  This is most likely because I had begun to compensate over time and it wasn't noticeable because it was normal...until you feel the difference after they fix it!

Back to ponies...this is the camera on the iPhone 7 Plus.  It's amazing.

The Handsome with his dad.

Mochs searching him for food, of course.

Sweetest boy in the world.

Klein mare #dgaf

Fun with a small grid.

Jumping in from a long spot.  She was happy to get her feet off the ground that day and I had to ask her to bring it back a notch to pretty much everything that day.  She didn't get the memo in time on this one.

Here's the video:
And here she is disagreeing with a half halt, but she listened and got a perfect spot.

Getting fuzzy!

 Time for a fresh clip.

Oh and...we have a newly discovered event prospect in the house:

Monday, November 14, 2016

Fall in the Pine Barrens

The other weekend I took Klein back to the Pine Barrens because out of all the places we have lived together, we have never lived somewhere that had four seasons and we could see the leaves change colors.  It has been especially beautiful lately and I have found myself taking a lot of random pictures of all the colors lately because this is all so different than what we are used to.

We had some perfect weather that day so we went for a long, easy ride to just enjoy the colors.  Klein had also just finished her antibiotics that morning for the Anaplasmosis so I really didn't want to put any load on her system.  A long, easy ride was perfect.  Speaking of Anaplasmosis, the vet told me that "inclusion bodies" for Anaplasmosis were present in her blood and that they only appear in a 12-24 hour window.  We just happened to be in that window when her blood was pulled.  So, as he suspected due to her symptoms, the blood confirmed 100% that it was Anaplasmosis.  Whew!  Easy enough to treat and move on!  She never did act like she was bothered by it, which still just blows my mind completely.

Looking at something only horse vision can see.

We also explored a new area that we have not been in before.  There are many more miles to be explored there and I think that place will be a really good spot for some spring conditioning when the time comes.

A lot of people were out enjoying the weather on foot, dirt bikes, and kayaks.  I do have to say, this spot is full of some of the most polite people I have ever come across when it comes to horse traffic.  All the dirt bikers either slowed way down or stopped and turned their bikes off as soon as we came into view and I had to promise them Klein didn't care about any of that so they were ok to start their bikes and go on by.  Some that passed slowly said have a safe ride, all the cars/trucks slowed down and waved or rolled the window down to say Klein was beautiful and ask what kind of horse she was.  If anyone in the area reads this, thank you for being so attentive to horses and so polite about passing them.

Some of the area had more color than others, which made it interesting because it was like we were riding through completely different places.  Hope you guys are out enjoying your ponies in the nice fall weather!