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.