26 October 2010

Don't try this unless you know what you are doing!!

25 October 2010

Paradigm's First Reputation Mares

David Bailey ground driving Margarita & Cassie - 11 April 2010
Sometimes the good Lord allows you to realize a vision you've carried for most of a lifetime.  On Sunday, 11 April 2010, our vision to hook a team of Percherons became a reality.  As brood mares in the Paramount Percheron production string, these horses hadn't been harnessed for years. Neither had they ever been hitched together. Yet on this cool spring afternoon these two great mares recalled past training and stepped into the traces as if they had never been away.

Happy Hill Margarita is a tall black mare with tons of confidence and the need to lead.  She was born just south of the Canada/US border in Okanogan, Washington on Monday, 17 May 1993 out of Squaw Valley’s Ambrosia by South Valley Ha Ha. She’s a get up and go horse that we may try as the lead in a three horse Unicorn hitch.

B & L Hanson’s Cassandra is a big black mare with a small white star and a steady pull that makes her a wheel horse in our hitches.  She was born in Chatfield, Minnesota on Saturday, 08 June 1996 out of Lucille’s June Pride by MG’s Black Diamond. She has a wonderful disposition that makes her a joy to work with.  We hope to reunite her with her teammate Pam in the near future.

Pulling David's new Pioneer Cart
We’re collecting the history of these mares to add to our library so don’t be shy if you know a good story.  Just add your contact information to the comments area of this blog and we’ll give you a call.

We’ll be expanding our events schedule for 2011 so these mares and the rest of the team get a little more action.  Let us know if you have an event we should consider.

24 October 2010

Seasons change at ThunderRidge

Flowers lightly frosted
 We're thankful the neighbours were able to complete harvest in the past few weeks.  Indian Summer and the beautiful weather we have been enjoying is coming to a close. 

The frost has been harder for several mornings and now the forecast is for cooler weather and precipitation as we enter a new week.  Once again the intense pink we enjoy around the ranch from Janice's flowers comes to a natural end.  We're reminded it's time to check waterers and prepare the ranch for winter.

The barn needs to be reorganized so the sleighs are near at hand; outdoor furniture needs to be gathered and placed in the loft; water pumps need to be removed from the ponds; hay feeders need to be placed in each pen; and, the electric fences and chargers need to be gathered up.

In the tack room its time to check harness and set aside the pieces that require mending and cleaning over the winter.  Harrows, mowers, rototillers and other summer equipment must be stored away. The equipment yard needs a little attention to be ready for the snow and winds that will certainly come our way.

Down in the nesting areas and ponds most of the ducks are gone now.  In their place, new flights of geese land almost daily.  They stop to refresh and reprovision on their way south.  Under the full moon we see and hear the give and take of nature as coyotes prey upon the weak and with this nourishment prepare for the lean times of winter. 

A covey of partridges marches in formation across the now dead pastures.  Oblivious to the end of life all around them, they stop in the twilight to enjoy seeds that now are finally ripe enough for picking. 

One season comes to a close and another begins at ThunderRidge Ranch. 

21 October 2010

Goodbye Winston

Winston August 2010
More than 13 years ago Winston II came to live with us at ThunderRidge Ranch.  He was one of the smartest dogs we ever knew.  He loved working cattle, rounding up chickens and kids or just helping us fence.  We could stand on the top of the ridge and communicate with hand signals while he would round up the cattle and bring them to the feedlot. 

Winston thought sport was created for dogs not people. He played hockey, baseball, soccer, frisbee, touch tag, football and volleyball.  He loved to be in the middle of everything we did.  He was an aggressive member of the team and all of us have had the experience of the nips associated with playing for the other team.

Aaron's graduation pictures bear witness to the fact playing frisbee with Winston could be hard on a body.  The fat lip he sported in front of the camera came from trying to wrangle the frisbee away from a competitor who didn't quit.

He was a protector of women and children when we were in the bull business.  Even the oldest most cantankerous momma cow couldn't take Winston on her best day.  The bulls only respected two things, Winston and Buzzcut the donkey, either of which could put the run on even the most aggressive young prospect sire.

Yet for all of his strength and aggressiveness, Winston could be tender and sensitive.  Watching him gather the chickens each evening using his nose was a lesson in skill and patience.

More than once I have been struggling under a tractor or some other piece of equipment absolutely frustrated with a situation.  Winston seemed to know just when to lick my face or lie down beside me.  As if to say, 'I don't do repairs, but I can support you with the presence of a good friend'.

In later years, like many Border Collies, he grew to hate thunder, but even that was something of value - we met the new neighbours, we tested the PetLynx recovery system and travelled down roads we otherwise wouldn't have visited.  

Four or five years ago he was run completely over by the New Holland 8160.  I held him in my arms as I waited for Aaron to bring down the truck.  We decided to make him comfortable in the horse stall until the others came home.  He surprised us by making a full recovery.

Over the years he had to put up with the various strays and befriended animals that Lisa brought home.  I'm sure he always thought Ben, our Great Pyrenes, was dumber than a sack of hammers when it came to working cattle or ducking under an electric fence. But he never laughed or sneared when invariably Ben would ruin the cattle move or have a shocking experience.

When Tiarus came along Winston put up with the disrespectful antics of a puppy.  One that even now can't manage to jump into the back of a truck.  And he tolerated the various cats that came our way.

It was an unintended kick by one of the Percheron mares last Monday that finally brought his life to an end.  But the memory of Winston will live on in our hearts and in our stories. 

Goodbye Winston. Thank you for the patience, the commitment and the love you had for all of us!

11 October 2010

Alberta Children benefit from Pumpkins & Percherons

Pictures & Story by Larry

It was all hands on deck for the annual Pumpkin Festival at the Blue Grass Nursery and Sod Farm near Balzac.  The gig started with an appearance for Blue Grass on the morning show of Global TV which meant mustering at 07:00.  Once the TV appearance was complete, the horses were unhooked and had a rest period until the guests started arriving at 11:00.

The morning show feature was successful and together with balmy fall weather attracted a steady stream of cars to the gate.  The gate admission and 10% of everything sold by Blue Grass was donated to the Alberta Children's Hospital.

Features of the day included the horse drawn wagon rides, the petting zoo, baked goods and market garden items from Fairview Colony [our Hutterite neighbours], Alberta BBQ, face painting, pumpkin carving and the giant pumpkin drop.

By 13:30 hrs all the parking lots were full and cars were being parked along the service road as well as back in the construction area.  Thousands attended and contributed to the cause. 

Jason, Val, Eathan and Levi Bexson along with Kacey Ferguson crewed the Percheron horses from Legacy Stables and wagon from Paradigm Corporation.  Here are some of the pictures:

07:30 Hrs - the Big Boys hooked, waiting for Global, holding onto Tim's for dear life!

Lookin' good first thing in the morning

Still waiting, thought we might as well take a promotional picture for Highway Services the Case dealer next door.

Local TV celebrity, Astrid Kuhn, shoots a horse segment for Global TV's breakfast show.  It was worth the wait and brought hundreds out to the event!

Setting up for the Pumpkin festival's main attraction - the pumpkin drop!   What does 700lbs of pumpkin landing on a car look like??


Pumpkin released with pyrotechnical pizzaz! These guys did a great job.

Pumpkin landed!  Car flattened!  Pieces of pumpkin everywhere!

15:45 hrs - Everybody tired, mission accomplished, client happy!

10 October 2010

The story of a Shire named Jada

Story by Larry, Pictures by Janice

A beautiful sunny weekend and warm temperatures created a welcome backdrop for the Wild Rose Draft Horse Association's 2010 Alberta Futurity Show in Olds last weekend.  We thought you might like to see what goes on behind the scenes to bring a 2 year old filly through the show.  Here's the story of Gladwin Jubliee Jada and the Bexson family from Legacy Stables.  It turned out to be a great way to celebrate our 34th anniversary, on Saturday, 02 October 2010.

Seems like a lot of things start at the washrack.  Jason is washing Jada's feet.  Gosh that used hay is hard to get out!

Ever wonder how they make the feathers on the big horses so fluffy?  A little sawdust in the right place seems to get the job done.

Remember Mom slickin' your hair and wiping your nose before Sunday School??

Whatever isn't white after the washrack gets a little corn starch to brighten things up.

Looking pretty good.  Hope the Judge agrees.

Jada standing at the head of the line.
Mr. Bruce Roy the announcer

Walking back to the barn with a first on halter!

It's hard to be happy for Jada when somebody stole your tractor

Gladwin Jubilee Jada 2nd overall, 1st on halter, Alberta Futurity

We didn't have a chance to stay for the Wildrose potluck supper because of our dinner reservations in Airdrie.  Paro's delivered some great greek dining [Love their lamb] and a talented belly dancer to finish off a great day!

01 October 2010

September visitors enjoyed Paradigm Percherons

Visitors to the Paradigm Percheron blog were polled to measure their enjoyment of the content and pictures. There were 99 visitors to the blog in the first 15 days of blogging history and all of them were from Canada. Over 17% of blog visitors voted and 100% of those voting 'absolutely' enjoyed the blog.

Many of us have great memories of the big horses from fairs, parades and other experiences.  The October Paradigm Poll features an opportunity for visitors to show their preference for one of four draft breeds - Clydesdales, Belgians, Shires or Percherons. Who will top the list?? 

We'll report the results of this poll in November.  But take a moment to provide your vote.