Thursday, August 27, 2015

Picture update

5' 8"
Yes, he really is that tall.

And Abraham.
Yes, he really is that tall.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Sydney's first day of college

And a short update for today.  After a long weekend and riding lessons at the barn this morning, Sydney had her first class at Century college.  It's a big week for her.
Good think we packed a lot of sleeping gear in the car for the Ren Fest.
The ride home...

Renaissance Festival update

We were too tired to post this last night (and I went WAY over my data plan allowance on my phone while I was at the Renaissance Festival), so I'll catch up a bit now.

I dropped Sydney off yesterday and only attended the last joust of the day.  Just as I was headed in, Sydney texted me saying that I wouldn't need to save her a seat for the jousting :-)

Yes, she got to ride the first weekend!  She saddled up a big horse named Abraham and looked amazing as she warmed up.  They were giving her some last minute instruction and she was focused on all the new techniques.  There's a lot to learn.

Here she is with Shelby, the lead lady-rider, and all four jousters before the match.
(If viewing on a small screen, you may need to click on the picture to see everyone.)

Warning:  long-winded educational side note coming.  Hope I'm somewhat accurate with my notes.
Neither of us realized that it would be so different to ride these horses.  They're not trained with the same cues as a typical English or Western riding horse.  Many of the important instructions are different, including turning, backing up, and stopping.  Believe it or not, you don't pull back on the reins to stop them!  We'll learn more, but we think that when they guys are jousting in full armor that some of the traditional techniques would not only be hard to do with all that gear on, but could be dangerous.  So to stop the horse, you just shift your weight and lean back in the saddle.  (This technique is taught with other horses as well, but it's usually in addition to pulling on the reins.)  So, when you see a guy hit in the jousting battle, he automatically moves back in the saddle - and the horse slows forward momentum.  Also, it's amazing to watch them - when a rider falls, the horses just STOP.  Good thing as they are so huge.  A typical horse can be 800 to 1200 pounds.  The draft horses they use for jousting are around 1800 to 2200 pounds!

So, there was much fanfare and riding around, then the first jousting pass came.  They guys clashed and the crowd cheered, then the girls rode down the length of the field.  They looked GREAT!  As they were riding back I noticed Abraham was at a large gallop - he was going fast.  Then they got to the end of the field and he didn't want to stop.  He hunched his back and started bucking.  Not big, bucking bronco style, but still, he's a big horse.  So, Sydney hung on for the first three bucks but then the saddle started slipping and she went off to the side - knowing it was the best move as she didn't want to go under him if the saddle slid around.  She hit feet first then onto her butt and bounced back up.  The crowd cheered when she stood, the staff checked to see that she was OK, then they resumed the jousting.

I don't know if I can fully explain, but several things went wrong.  First, Abraham doesn't like the new kid ride that was installed near the far end of the jousting field.  Kids are attached to bungee cords and jump on trampolines so they can "fly" in the air.  The horses don't like it at all.  So, Abraham took the opportunity to run away - FAST - from the big bouncy monster, Sydney didn't have full control, and she was trying to think about the proper instruction to give instead of just reacting with instinct.  She said she was trying to speak his language but had the wrong phrasebook.  Abraham got confused with her cues and he'd had enough.

I must say that Sydney handled it all with an amazing amount of grace and humor.  She knew she had a lot to learn, didn't blame it all on the horse or the bouncy ride.  She smiled, then got back up on Abraham after the match to get further instruction on riding, and on Abraham's hot buttons.

Here's a little video of her ride...

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Renaissance Festival!!

II didn't get pictures aup from our Montana trip.  That will have to wait. More important things are at hand.

This is Sydney's first day working at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival!!!  We came to talk to them on Thursday and Sydney was SO excited!  Then we had a free day on Friday, and she was half excited, half nervous. This morning (up at 4:30 AM) she was all nerves. This is a big job and it's a lot of work. She was hoping she's up for the challenge.

This weekend she'll be grooming and feeding the horses and learning the routine. She won't be riding today as they didn't have enough time to work with her beforehand. Hopefully she'll be in the saddle next weekend. There are three jousts a day and they have the lady riders do more show stuff  before the first joust. For the other two they want everyone on the horses, riding around, building up the excitement. 

I tagged along with the troupe today and will hang out at the Festival until they pack up. Hopefully this will give me the opportunity to post a few pictures.

Here she is, giving people rides on the jousting horses.