Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Meet Baner

Baner and his mom first met over 17 years ago in Frankfurt, Germany. Baner was at a sales barn outside of Frankfurt looking for a new home. Baner, a Swedish Warmblood sired by one of my favorite stallions, Gauguin de Lully, was six years old at the time.


After taking lessons as a kid, Baner’s mom left the horse world for a long time. She found her way back to horses as an adult and began taking lessons. During 1998 she took a three month leave of absence from her job to try to counteract the burnout she was experiencing. During that break she found a local barn that offered riding lessons and began riding again.

As often seems to happen, Baner’s mom quickly progressed from taking lessons to purchasing her very first horse, an Anglo Trakehener named Hadleigh. As you can guess from the breeding, Hadleigh was a bit too hot and forward for a timid adult rider newly returned to riding, and within a year Baner’s mom had found Hadleigh a more suitable home and found herself looking for a new horse.
Baner and his mom after a ride

Baner’s mom had decided she wanted to concentrate on learning dressage. After about a year of unsuccessfully searching for a new horse for her to learn dressage with, the trainer suggested they go to Germany to look at horses. Baner’s mom said she knew next to nothing about horses, much less buying one. But she decided to go to Germany, and her one criteria was the horse had to be 16.2 hands. I asked why 16.2 hands and she said she didn’t know why she settled on that, just that she felt she needed to have some sort of requirement as she scoured Germany for a horse.

In January 2000 Baner’s mom and her trainer at the time spent four days trying horses in Germany. At the very first barn they visited just outside of Frankfurt they rode several horses, including a young six year old gelding with a big blaze and a sweet face named Baner. And he happened to be 16.2 hands. Baner’s mom can’t even remember if she rode Baner or if her trainer rode Baner that day, but they let they barn know they were interested in him, and continued to try dozens of horses over the next couple of days. They didn’t see another horse that they liked as much as Baner so on their final day in Germany they went back and tried him again.

Baner and his mom

After that second trial ride they decided Baner was the right horse. One of his mom’s favorite memories of that day was Baner putting his head around her as she held him in the indoor, almost as if he were giving her a hug. She thought he was very sweet, but now realizes that he was looking for a treat as he continued to give “hugs” over their many years together.  A few weeks later Baner had traveled from Germany to the United States and was at his new barn in February of 2000.

Once they were together Baner and his new mom began getting to know each other, and his mom began to learn how to ride him. His mom said that in hindsight Baner was the wrong horse for her to purchase. His gaits, especially his trot, are difficult for a professional to sit, much less an amateur rider that was new to dressage and newly returned to riding. As him mom said, Baner is short coupled, his conformation isn’t the greatest, and his feet can point in four different directions when he’s standing on the cross ties. All of this added up to gaits that were very difficult to sit. It took Baner’s mom nearly six months just to be able to post his trot without wobbling all over his back. Although Baner’s gaits were not ideal for a novice, amateur rider, his temperament was perfect for his new job, and he put up with his mom’s lack of balance as she learned to ride him.

Baner and his mom

The trainer at the time showed Baner the first two years that Baner’s mom had him. The first year Baner and the trainer qualified for the Region 2 Championships at First Level thanks to their consistently good scores. Unfortunately the championships were not Baner’s best show as he decided that he was scared of the judge’s box, and then proceeded to spook at all of the flower boxes around the arena. The trainer wasn’t too happy with their showing but Baner’s mom said she couldn’t help but laugh as Baner spooked his way around the arena and earned his lowest score of the year. That year Baner finished 6th in the country at First Level for all Swedish Warmbloods. As his mom said, she doesn’t know how many Swedish Warmbloods competed at First Level that year, but she knows there were at least six!

Baner and his mom made their show ring debut together in 2001 at the Kentucky Horse Park. They had a respectable showing at Intro Level. Baner was a perfect angel and his mom had a blast. By 2002 Baner’s mom had become disillusioned with her trainer at the time, and she decided to show without her. She went to a local show and showed at Training level both days. She managed to get herself and Baner there, set up her stall, register, braid Baner and warm up all on her own. She won her class the first day and ended up with the High Point award for the entire show.

Baner and his mom showing off their winnings after their successful solo show outing

Shortly after her successful show outing on her own, Baner’s mom realized she needed a more productive relationship with a trainer. In 2003 she began working with a new trainer, and thirteen years later she is still riding with this trainer. She continued riding and doing some showing with Baner, but his gaits remained very difficult for pros to sit his trot much less his amateur mom, which was a requirement for showing at First Level.

Baner’s mom and her trainer decided it would be wise to find her a horse with much easier gaits to sit. They eventually found and purchased Remmy in 2005, who is also retired with us and whom you have met on the blog previously. Baner’s mom focused on riding Remmy while her niece took over the ride on Baner for a few years. Her niece dabbled a little bit in the hunters on Baner at first, but eventually wound up focusing on dressage as well. Her niece continued to ride Baner until she left for college a few years later. During this time Baner also spent quite a bit of time being ridden and shown by her trainer’s daughter. Baner and his trainer’s daughter showed at both 3rd and 4th level together.  

Baner with his mom's niece

Eventually Baner and his mom became riding partners again and she became determined to learn how sit his trot. In the spring of 2010, after a lot of hard work with her trainer and ten years after she purchased Baner, she and Baner made their show ring debut at First Level. In addition to their dressage pursuits Baner and his mom spent lots of time hacking on the trails and just hanging out together. They also had more than one stay together at a big dude ranch in Michigan. In the morning she and Baner would have a training ride, and in the afternoons they would head out for long, relaxing trail rides.

Baner and his mom showing in 2010

After enjoying Baner for 15 years, Baner’s mom came to the hard decision to retire him, and we met Baner in the fall of 2015. There wasn’t any one event that led to Baner’s retirement, but more a culmination of factors. Sometimes Baner would seem a little bit uncomfortable when he was ridden. His mom would identify the problem and address it, but then after a short while something else would start to bother him. His stamina also began to gradually drop off. Baner’s mom decided that after Baner had given her so much over 15 years it wasn’t right for her to keep pushing him and patching him together. She came to the hard decision to retire him and let him enjoy life at his own pace. Baner’s mom contacted me in January of 2015, and we made plans for Baner to come that fall.

Baner and his mom when they met in Germany

In the meantime for the balance of 2015, Baner and his mom were able to continue to ride and enjoy their time together. As one of his last gifts to his mom, Baner taught her how to ask for flying changes. She said she struggled during that time with her decision to retire him. They were still having fun and enjoying their time together as long as she was careful to keep their work sessions short. When she retired Remmy, her other horse, the decision was a lot easier as she still had Baner waiting for her back at the barn. When she retired Baner there was no horse to immediately take his place. In the end, she decided that Baner had more than earned a life of friends and leisure, and she wanted to retire him while he could still enjoy the retired life.

We met Baner in September 2015, almost exactly a year to the day after we met his mom’s other horse, Remmy. Like Remmy, Baner had a short and easy transition into the retired life. The only surprise that came from Baner was that, to the surprise of all who knew him, he became even more herd bound than Remmy. After he had been integrated into his family group for about three weeks, Baner decided that Hesse, one of his roommates whom you’ve also met on the blog, was the love of his life and he could not live without him. Baner had never appeared to notice Hesse prior to that day, but once he did, Baner decided death would be preferable to being separated from Hesse. Ironically, Remmy had also decided that Hesse was the love of his life when he retired with us a year earlier. These days both Remmy and Baner can be found following Hesse around in the pasture, a happy trio of chestnut geldings. Sometimes Walden joins them, and the “chestnut club” in their pasture is complete.
Hesse (center) with his groupies Remmy and Baner

the chestnut club; Baner, Remmy, Hesse and Walden

another picture of the chestnut club; L-R Walden, Remmy, Hesse, Baner

We hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know Baner as much as we have!

Lightning, Havana, Baner, Hesse and Remmy

Hesse, Havana, Remmy and Baner

Walden, Remmy, Hesse and Baner; yet another chestnut club picture

Remmy, Hesse and Baner

Baner, 3rd from the left, on the run with Remmy, Hesse, Fabrizzio, Walden, Bruno, Merlin and Cino

Baner and Duesy

Baner and Remmy

Remmy, Baner and Hesse

Baner and Remmy

Duesy and Baner

retirement is nice

Baner and Hesse

Baner and Hesse

Baner and Hesse

Hesse, Remmy and Baner


Remmy, Baner and Hesse

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday Stills

Blu grazing on a foggy morning

Nemo eating grass while Lighty opted for the tree instead

a closer look at Lighty eating leaves

Gus and Asterik

Chance and Convey

Trigger and Baby

Lotus and Romeo

Two new faces; Sushi and Squirrel . . .

. . . a closer look at the new faces of Sushi and Squirrel

Mick, Paramount, Sam, Light, Johnny, Blu, Taco and Miel emerging from a private meeting in the woods . . .

. . . Mick, Paramount, Sam, Lighty, Happy, Johnny, Taco, Sebastian, Miel and Nemo

Paramount enjoying a dusty roll . . . 

. . . followed by a good shake

new face Magic grooming with Wilson

Ripley, Wilson, Johnny and Gus

Digby and Blu waiting to be fed

Johnny and Happy

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Dog and Cat Life

It has been awhile since I've written about Oscar and I've had a few requests lately to hear an Oscar update. For anyone who doesn't know, Oscar is our feral cat that we have been feeding for several years. We're not allowed to touch him. He doesn't want in the house (trust me, we've tried for years). He only wants canned cat food, and it must be in certain flavors or he won't eat it. He likes to hang out on our front porch during the day and look in the windows at us when we're inside. I refer to this as Oscar watching his "zoo TV." We're the zoo animals, along with Jingle and Joy, and Oscar watches us for entertainment, and probably feels sorry for us. At night he switches to our back porch and watches us through our kitchen door.

Oscar has been doing his usual things lately. Lots of eating, lots of hanging out, lots of watching zoo TV. His favorite canned cat food these days is Turkey and Cheese with Gravy, and Chicken and Cheese with Gravy. At some point he'll decide he doesn't like them anymore and we'll turn ourselves inside out trying to determine what flavors of canned cat food will be acceptable for Oscar.

Oscar was worn out from watching zoo TV and fell asleep on our bistro table last week

Oscar was annoyed with us that we had the nerve to sit on our back porch a couple of evenings ago. He sat at the edge of our yard and glared at us.

You might recall our recent addition to the Paradigm Farms Empire, Igor the kitten. Igor has settled in nicely to life at the barn. He goes out "catting" (Jason's phrase) during the day, and at night he gets shut into the office of the front barn. Igor has come a long, long way from the starving, terrified, half dead kitten we found after Christmas. He likes to follow us around in the mornings at feeding time. He stays within the vicinity of the front barn. Since Oscar stays around the back barn and our house, Igor and Oscar have not yet crossed paths. It's unlikely that they will. An interesting note, I've now caught two fleeting glimpses of a black cat at the middle barn, so we may have another cat that has joined the Empire. 

Igor and Timbit routinely play with each other in the mornings. Igor likes to cat flop in front of Timbit, and then Timbit rolls him back and forth with his nose. 

Igor likes to be my feeding assistant in the mornings

Igor keeping an eye on the horses w hile they eat

Igor out "catting" as Jason likes to say 

Igor and Ewen are buddies, Igor is the boss

Like Oscar, Igor has a hard life

Like Igor and Oscar, Ewen is happy and enjoying life. Carter saw this soccer ball dog toy that has a squeaker inside of it and insisted we buy it for Ewen. Clearly Carter has a keen understanding of Ewen't likes because you can see from the pictures below that Ewen likes the soccer ball. I expect Carter knew that Ewen would like the squeaky soccer ball because Ewen loves to grab Carter's soccer ball and run off with it. If you see random soccer balls in our pastures please return them to Carter. Ewen has carted off a few soccer balls at this point.

Ewen having fun with his soccer ball


Hemi and Thomas


two new faces, Taylor and Alfie

Timbit annoying Norman

Grand and Rip

Revy and Elfin

Asterik and Gibson

Cocomo posing . . . 

. . . Cocomo posing again with Donneur in the background


Mick and Sam

Nemo and Lighty

Gus, Lofty and Donneur

Flyer and Faune; Faune's expression says, "no pictures please"