So I had made the first blog post from Black Dragon Farms and then I think…ok, now what, where do I go from here. I am sure no one wants to hear about stall mucking or sweeping or the daily stuff or what I just ate, so now what. Hmm, the horses, probably a good place to start. And so who to start with, guess I should start with the first.
When we first started looking for horses to begin a breeding program, finding mares was not easy. Numbers of Friesians in the US were low, higher quality mares were just not available. We wanted to buy some ster mares to start with but we couldn’t. Regardless we visited farms that had various mares. We went out to Colorado, we had no intention of looking at or especially buying a gelding but as they were introducing us to the breed and took us for carriage rides with this champion driving gelding, that was it….we fell in love. Not long later, Caesar showed up, this was before the farm even had a place to live.
Caesar was different, at the time he was taller than most, at 16.2h, solid bone and body and a long neck to go with it. We were told he had been both ridden and driven, we had been in the cart though we didn’t own one currently so we wanted to ride him. Course after Jo got on him in the ring and the trainer says…well, I think you should get off of him, he has never been ridden…eep. Guess don’t believe all your told sometimes, eep.
Despite the fact he had never been ridden, we started riding him anyway and he took wonderful care of us. We were not trainers, but our trainer helped us and Caesar taught us along the way. We learned not long after that Caesar had allergies, his favorite thing to do of choice was to wipe snots all over you. We did testing at one point and boy he was allergic to it all and we tried it all to help but I think if he couldn’t wipe snots on your best clothes, what point is there? lol.
We had gotten some mares and we had our first foals on the way and the fun was about to begin. We got into driving, we finally got our love for the medieval going and off we went! The Friesians taught us how kind, gentle and forgiving they were for those of us that were clueless on things and they were willing to try it all. We wanted to show and see what this incredible breed could do and Caesar tried it all. He obviously drove, he learned medieval games with the rest of us, did dressage, which don’t think he really liked, lol. He tried saddleseat and western and it was ok. He let us people who did not know how to ride, ponyride with him and many of our family and friends did the same.
Many have seen the full set of gothic armor that we have, there is a picture of it above on Lionheart. It was fitted and made for Caesar by a blacksmith, fellow SCA guy, after we had seen the set he had for his Friesian. We knew it was what we had to do next. Mark told us that we would have to get him used to it piece by piece as he came out to measure Caesar and had brought his set out as well. We would have to try a piece and lunge him and then ride him in it and add the next til eventually he was wearing the whole suit. Ah, he didn’t know Caesar. We put one piece on him, than the next and finally all of it. We were riding him around in the whole suit, 5 min later and for Caesar it showed us what he truly loved. He puffed up, his neck arched and he pranced in it, showing it off, hail Caesar. When his set finally arrived he claimed it and it was truly his. He got upset if we tried pieces on another horse, so we made sure he wasn’t watching when we did.
Though Caesar was an incredible horse he loved to be a…pain, lol. There are sharp points on the armor, it is patterned after a suit in the tower of London, but…we did leave the spike that is supposed to be on the headpiece off…glad we did. He would fidget to no end when we were getting the armor on and when you tried to mount afterwards, once you were in the saddle he was all business but he would fuss to be on his way and for you to dress him faster. He loved to rub the headpiece on you, which you had to avoid to not get a black eye. You had to stand slightly off to the side when you held him to not get stabbed by the chest piece and also to hold him without getting bonked. But after he was off to perform in his armor and complete his job he would stand forever. A small child could come up see him and he would stand perfectly. He did love to be a snot though, between getting his armor on or bouncing in the shafts of a carriage before a class or rubbing snots on you, he was really the best Friesian I know.
Last year was really one of our worst years here and I truly hope for a better one. Caesar turned 29 last year and had been in and out of retirement but the past couple years he was truly retired other than a few pony rides and doing his best to look good and mug sugar cubes from everyone. He had the run of the barn isle and waited for you at the feed room door, I was always waiting for him to walk in. We had started having more trouble in the year as he started to drop weight and have more health issues. But he was happy and seemed to enjoy things and we did everything in our power to help him. I had been in the feed room to drop stuff off one nite and heard him outside as I opened the door I laughed as he was standing right there, waiting. I gave him his sugar cubes and hugged him, he curled his neck around me and of course I offered him more goodies. The next day he was laying in the spot he always stood, a slight hill in the front of the property which overlooks the road. Friesians lay down all the time, so that was not new but this was different, my heart sank. We went to him on the hill and it did not take long to realize he was telling us, he was done, it was time. Jo and I sat with him, I had his head in my lap telling him how I loved him. When the vet arrived I wanted to throw him off the property but no… We knew it was coming and he took that decision from us and for that I guess I am grateful.
I have so many memories of Caesar I will hold dear. We never had plans to buy a gelding but I guess it was in his plans and we never regretted it, we learned so much from him. This was hard to write and I really did not know where to begin or what to put in, there is so much more I could say, I think it would take a few more pages than this. But for all the times, Thank you Caesar.