Sunday, November 15, 2009

How to beat your horse in three easy steps

Today, the hubby and I went out to practice some mounted combat on horseback. This is a game we do in the SCA where we fight from horseback using padded rattan weapons. The target is the other rider (you get disqualified if you hit the horse in any way) and both horses and riders wear armor. However, generally for practice we don't wear armor since we're just playing around to get the horses used to being maneuvered and having a foam sword swung around their heads.

Getting started... nobody seems to care much, although Red is eyeing the grass.

This is really Saga's first time with this, aside from the day we did the demo at Pioneer Farm, and he was really great. We followed Red around while the hubby hit some fence posts and the side of the round pen - we do this to get the horse used to the noise. Saga was interested but calm. We moved on to swinging the foam sword over Saga's ears, and he really didn't care. Eventually, I picked up a sword too and started to pretend-hit my husband, who can block pretty much anything I throw, seeing how he's been fighting on foot for so long. And then, as we started to maneuver around, Saga decided that he would try a new technique for disabling his opponent.
Yup, it's the old "head-in-the-lap" technique. Disable your opponent by blocking them however possible! (This is the view I had when this first happened.)

We quickly discovered that this disabling technique is pretty effective, and that both Saga and Red were content to stand there all day while we laughed at them. It also made it easy for me to play whack-a-mole on my husband's helmet, since he wasn't going anywhere in a hurry. So we called FuzzyPony over to take some pictures...
So exactly HOW does one defend against this? Hubby is not sure...
Getting the hang of fighting while sitting on an immobile horse sofa with a Saga head in his lap...
And of course, when you can't beat 'em, hug 'em!

We had a short but pleasant, fun-filled ride. I need more of those! Alas, the weekend is over; back to the grind of the work week. Hopefully I'll get a bit more riding in, but that remains to be seen.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Impressive video of indoor eventing

No, it's not a video of me, but this is just really neat!

2005 Indoor Eventing

I'm especially impressed by how balanced the horse was - the rider really moved her up for the XC-like fences but rode her steady for the stadium-like fences. And the fences themselves, in an INDOOR ARENA! I counted ~20 jumping efforts (some combinations), including the bank, the window, and a cute skinny fence.

This looks like way too much fun... I wonder if there's anything like that around here?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

An excellent excuse to drink

This weekend, we went foxhunting again. All I can say is WOW, I want to do more of this!

The fixture for this weekend's hunt, which included the blessing of the hounds - i.e. opening of the official formal hunt season - was 7IL Ranch down near Bellville, TX. It was a nice fixture if not quite as much land as our last fixture. As with last time, we hauled over to our friend's property in Brenham on Friday night, then headed over to the hunt on Saturday morning.

This time, my suspicion that foxhunting is merely a British excuse to drink copious quantities of alcohol and run one's horse madly over hill and dale was confirmed. And a fine time it was too! The morning started off with a stirrup cup of port with a side of pound cake. Thus fortified, we headed over for the blessing of the hounds.

Readers will be glad to know that I at least managed to get a few pictures this time, although none of us galloping about (YOU try taking pictures while hauling a$$ over the countryside in a group of horses!) Unfortunately, I took them with my iPhone's camera, so they're not all that great. Oh, and none of them are of me, since I was the one with the camera. Nonetheless, there is photographic evidence of our excursion.

Heading over to the blessing of the hounds. That's the hubby on Red on the left, and D. on his horse Booker on the right. And Saga's ears right of center. Funny how everyone looks so darn SHORT from atop Saga! :)

Getting ready to bless the hounds.

The field listening to the blessing of the hounds. The blessing itself was quite lovely, asking for the safety of the horses and riders, blessing the land, the hounds, and of course the coyote, asking that he be swift and crafty so that we could chase him another day.

The hay wagon for the non-riders (and the beer cooler. Did I mention that hunting is an opportunity to drink?)

After the blessing, we headed out. I opted to go second field since I got so fatigued last time, and apparently it was a good choice. The husband later told me that they had quite a few really long gallops, where Red, despite his short stubby legs, had no problem keeping up. Saga was a dream for the entire ride - he stayed collected and was very content to be in the middle of the second field group. However, the sand footing was deep so I think that had a lot to do with how well he carried himself - getting through it was hard work. I actually got a lot of compliments on him!

Mostly the day was trotting, canter, and a lot of standing around. The hounds never found anything except a deer, so the chase was somewhat limited for 2nd field, although 1st field had a lot of running. No jumping for anyone, however.

I took the next couple of pictures at some of our stops... when I wasn't taking sips from the flask, of course. :)

New-found friend R - she was the event rider I met last time. Lovely to visit with her again!

First flight on a hilltop, taking a break. Yeah, I know they're little dots... iPhones don't have a zoom on the camera!

We intersected with first flight at one point - they took a short break near us. You can't really tell in these pictures since you can't see faces, but this hunt is the first time in my life that men actually outnumbered women on horseback.

It's hard to see because of the lighting, but the husband is on the short horse in the middle of the picture.

We were out for about 1.5 hours or so - not as long as last time due to the heat (nearly 80!) and the lack of things to chase. We eventually headed back to the trailers for beverages - the alchoholic kind, of course. After passing the flask around every time we stopped, we were greeted by beer and mimosas on the hay wagon! See, I told you it's just an excuse to drink. I had a mimosa, but the husband ended up wearing most of his due to trying to catch someone else's runaway horse. Got to get the hunt coats dry cleaned!

Untacking back at the trailer.

After we untacked, we took the horses back to Brenham, unloaded and turned them out, then went over to the huntsmaster's house for the hunt brunch. In true Texas style, it was BBQ - with mimosas, beer, and wine (did I mention the drinking?) We got a tour of the facility, which included a lovely barn, kennel, very nice turnouts, a lovely sand arena, and a full Novice and Training XC course! When I exclaimed over the XC course, I was immediately invited out to school sometime. Yeah, I'll be taking the huntsmaster up on that offer!

After a day like that, it's hard to get back to the real world. So I leave you with this complete non-sequitor: my cat Freya in the bathroom sink.
Yup, a cat in a sink. What will I think of next?