Friday, September 30, 2011

Trading spaces

It seems that every time I go out to the barn, Trillium is living in a new place. Today, she was all by herself in a small paddock with a little shelter at one end.
On other days, she's shared living quarters with Toby, 
and a few others whose names I don't know. 
I don't mind the frequent changes of address. They give me a chance to get acquainted with the other equines living at Big Iron Ranch.
The next three ponies work the birthday party circuit on weekends. Apparently, party goers can paint them for an extra charge. It's always interesting to see what colors they are!
Can you see the pink in his tail?
This one is my favorite--SO cute!
There are also a couple cute babies...
as well as several good looking "big" horses.
 This buckskin pinto is another favorite.
 He has the most beautiful two colored eyes.
I like this Appaloosa, too.
Check out that nose spot! 
I can hardly wait to see who Trillium will be living with next week!

Thursday, September 29, 2011


I've been feeling a bit out of sorts this week, and it has taken a big toll on my productivity.

That was ok on Monday and Tuesday, but yesterday I felt as though I needed to get something done in the studio.  To that end, I started no less than three tack projects.  Unfortunately, I just couldn't seem to get traction on any of them.  Deciding that any progress was better than no progress, I shifted from tack mode into paint mode.  This little calf had been languishing on my project shelf for more than a year.  Now he's just a couple coats of sealer away from the showring.  Hurray!
I was hoping that the success with the calf would break through my creative block, but nothing is ever that easy.  Today was almost as frustrating as yesterday.  Eventually, I decided to make something that was fun and easy.  Something I could finish in one sitting.  This racing saddle is the result.
Tomorrow is a pony day, and I am really hoping that spending time with her will help me feel more centered.  I don't suffer from "tackmaker's block" very often and I'm not enjoying the experience!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Model Friesians

I have a confession to make:  I'm not really a Friesian fan.  

It's not that I dislike Friesians exactly...  They just don't appeal to me in an "I want to own it" kind of way.  I had a great time hanging out at last weekend's FHANA Keuring,  but at the end of the day, there wasn't one single horse I wanted to take home with me.

Of course, model Friesians are a whole different story!  Those I'm happy to own, as evidenced by the following pictures.

My oldest Friesian is Frysbee.  He's the first Breyer Friesian, and I've owned him since his original release in 1992!
Next up is Tristan.  This is the first version North Light Friesian.  I got him in a tack trade some ten years ago.  
Lastly, there's Velma.  This is a Breyer Gem Twist customized and painted by me.  I haven't finished very many customs, so she's kind of special!
One original finish plastic, one original finish resin and one custom.  All I need is an artist resin Friesian and I will have a complete set.  Hmmmm....

Monday, September 26, 2011

Keuring tack

There isn't a lot of color at a Friesian Keuring.  It's not just the all black horses.  It's also the black suited judges, the white clad runners and all that white tack.  Oh, there was a lot of white tack, and naturally I felt compelled to take lots and lots of pictures of it!

Starting with the foal classes--each competitor was dressed in a white stable halter with a white cotton or nylon lead rope clipped to the bottom ring.
Most of the standard halter variations were present including both gold and silver hardware, over the nose and under the nose adjustments,
one buckle crowns and two buckle crowns, flat throatlatches and rolled throatlatches, sewn on throatlatches and clip on throatlatches...  
No matter the design particulars, all the halters were fitted lower and looser than a Western show halter.  
It's also worth noting that at this particular Keuring, foals did not wear bridle numbers.  Instead, those went on the mares even though they weren't being judged.
Yearlings were dressed identically to the foals with one exception--they got to wear their own bridle numbers.
Horses three years and older were shown in a white English type bridle with the noseband and reins removed. 
Most of these bridles featured buckles on both ends of the cheek pieces and lots of keepers.
However, there was a least one mare sporting a much simpler bridle.  Note the Chicago screw bit attachment and the complete lack of nonessential keepers.
Bits were mostly some flavor of snaffle but there were also a couple horseshoe bits.  Although it's not obvious from this picture, this type of bit has a straight mouthpiece.
Most of the horses were led with a flat white lead that attached to both sides of the bit via a short chain.
This mare was the one exception to that rule.  Her handler showed her with a plain white lead rope and clipped to an in-hand bit attachment.
And just for Teresa--here's a closer look at the bridle numbers which proves they are, in fact, much larger than the horse's eye! 
This particular Keuring also included an IBOP riding test.  The mare that participated in that wore regular dressage tack.
Want to see more white Keuring tack?  If so, be sure to check out the Baroque Horse Store's Friesian Keuring page.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

FHANA Keuring

Yesterday Teresa and I had the great pleasure of attending the Friesian Horse Association of North America's 2011 Regional Keuring, which was held at the Colorado Horse Park in Parker, Colorado.

A Keuring is a type of judging event in which horses of a specific breed (typically European in origin) are evaluated for their suitability as a breeding animal. 

Although horses of all ages may be presented at a Keuring, today's post is all about the babies.  Friesian foals are required to attend a Keuring before they are permanently entered in the Foal Book.  At the Keuring, each foal is given a designation of 1st, 2nd or 3rd or No Premium (Premie) which reflects how closely he or she adheres to the breed standard.

Foals are shown one at a time alongside their mothers.  Here's a quick look at the inspection process.

The mare and foal are bought to the ring and turned over to the "runners."
The runners are special presenters from the Netherlands.  In addition to being very fast, these men are experts at showing a horse or foal to its best advantage.
Although it's considered somewhat ill-advised, some owners prefer to forgo the use of runners and show the horses themselves.
The first part of the class is an evaluation of the foal's breed type and conformation.  The foal is led over to the judges and stood up for inspection.
Of course, this sounds a lot easier than it actually is.  The foals at this keuring ranged in age from six months to three months and most were too excited to stand quietly for any length of time.
It often took all three runners and a lot of patience to get through this stage of the inspection! 
Gaits are evaluated next, beginning with the walk.
The mare is led around the ring with her foal following freely at her side.
In order to give the judges an unobstructed view of the foal, the runners often have to intervene a bit. 
Much better!
At the judges' signal, the mare is moved into a trot.
The trot is the signature gait of the Friesian horse.  The judges are looking for a strong, uphill way of going that includes both knee action and a long moment of suspension.
In  order to get each foal to trot its best, one of the runners provides extra encouragement in the form of a whip and shaker box.
Many of the foals misinterpreted this encouragement and responded with little baby fireworks...
and race horse imitations.
The runners were persistent, however, and eventually each foal rewarded them with moments like this... 
and this!
Once the judges have seen enough...
the mare is brought to a halt, the foal is captured and the two of them are led out of the ring.  While this is happening, the judges announce the results of their evaluation.  They discuss what they did and not like about the foal's conformation and gaits and award it entry into the Foal Book.
After all the foals have been shown, the two highest scoring foals are invited back to the arena for awards.
They receive their prizes, pose for photos...
and the champion takes a victory lap.
Lots more Friesian pictures to come!