Friday, November 27, 2015

Operation Trailer Restoration: Part 2

Quite a lot has been done since my last posting about the trailer. This installment features the inner-workings and what most men refer to as "bitch work". Most of what we've done thus far has been labor-intensive and very time consuming, but well worth it.

Last Thursday we prepped the trailer for it's date with the sand-blasting machine and on Friday evening, the Boyfriend was blasting it down. It went relatively well, although some of the structural integrity would need to be reinforced and held together with some welds. Nothing serious came of it and thankfully, the trailer is in pretty good shape overall.

After a round of blasting.
 As you can see, we removed pretty much everything (ie. tires, roof, fenders, etc) and covered the portion of plaques and inscriptions that would need to be present. Other than that, the entire trailer was blasted clean.

Note the dent in the front passenger side where it appeared
someone had jack-knifed the trailer into a truck. Don't worry,
it won't even be noticeable when we're done with it.

After the entire day Friday was spent blasting, the next day the Boyfriend moved onto priming. I wasn't able to really help out much with the blasting/priming, as I don't know or understand how to use either machine so he was pretty much on his own for the duration of it. I did, however, tape up the tires so the rims could be primed and started to work on sanding the roof.

One coat of primer on and looking a bit 'fresher". That scary sand-blasting
look was just not cutting it for me.
I spent the next four days meticulously washing down, chipping and sanding the roof. It is a fiberglass roof but has an epoxy residue that was starting to crack/chip and become pretty nasty looking. We are going to be fixing that and needed to start with a clean slate. By the end of four days, my arms were ready to fall off from all the scrubbing, chipping, and circular sanding motions.

This was when I was about 1/4 of the way.
The black "goop" spot is gone and the roof is mostly that
cream color now.
Whilst I was battling the roof, Boyfriend and Brother were cutting and fitting new flooring into the tack room and the little hay ledge (I don't actually know what it is called). The entire process was pain-painstakingly slow but they managed to hammer it out and get it fitted (in -17C weather to boot!). They also fitted and added the new middle section piece where the wires for the lights run under and join. The one horizontal post, as you can see in the following photos was pretty corroded (it is where the doors join up to and lock in), so they knocked that out and came up with a game plan to fix it.

The post where the doors join into. You will notice the
guys took the ramp off as well.

Tack room - all fitted and ready to be welded into place!

Portion of the hay ledge.

Poor guys freezing their assess off in the -17 cold.

This is the one hay ledge - you can see where the Boyfriend installed
a reinforced bar (look under his elbow).

The new piece which the cords and electrical will run through.

The trailer was able to be pulled back into the heated shop (much to the relief of the guys!) and while I continued to work on the roof and the fenders (they needed washing, sanding, prepping for painting), the Boyfriend began welding. In addition, the dutch doors were stripped of their thin layer of metal, the rotten plywood was pulled and now they sit, ready to be fixed!

Boyfriend welding under the trailer.

Tack room compartment.

The hay ledge - lastnight we also welded in the divider (I didn't take a
photo though, as it was quite late).

The middle piece for wiring was welded in lastnight.

Don't worry, I wasn't looking when I took this photo. Boyfriend
welding the horizontal piece in (remember the one that was broken?)
and also gives you a view of the dutch doors we pulled plywood
and metal from.

Welding the new bottom onto the horizontal piece.
You can also see that we have reinforced the sides of the trailer as well.
We also welded on the door handles (see the splotch of grey
at the top of the bar? That's where the dutch door handles go).

Today I think is going to be a bit of an easier day, as the Boyfriend has been putting in some crazy long hours to make this a smooth and fast process. We can't keep the trailer at his Dad's shop forever and we want to get as much done as humanely possible. Hopefully by this weekend she'll have a new coat of paint on her and the days of welding and grinding will be long behind us.

The list of our "need to do" agenda is still quite large but we've managed to cross quite a few things off. Still, we need to focus on and complete the following:
  1. Finish welding, torching and grinding.
  2.  Replace plywood/metal on the dutch doors.
  3. Paint trailer, roof, and fenders. (Possibly sand the trailer before painting?).
  4. Start to cut/ready the wooden floor to go in.
  5. Electrical wiring to be fixed and installed.
  6. Roof to go back on after painted.
  7. Make up a "to buy" list (keeper pins, snap links, etc).

Whew. This is gonna be worth it, though!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Jumping Lesson on a Red-Head

This past weekend a friend of mine messaged me, asking if I would like to join a jumping lesson on Sunday morning riding his horse. I didn't have to think twice and agreed to it, happy at the chance to get some instruction as well as to ride a "new" horse. Admittedly, my excitement soon turned to a bundle of anxiety and nerves, as I had never really seen this horse perform much before.

Rookie the "rockstar"

The irony in this is that my friend's horse is a barrel prospect and hadn't been jumped much (maybe one or two single fences). So it was going to be a bit of a learning curve and I wasn't sure how his gelding would perceive the new change of work. I was promised the horse, Rookie, was sane and wouldn't kill me, so at least I had that...

The lesson itself was really fun - I was able to ride with two of the most fun and hilarious people ever and Rookie was a solid and safe dude. He certainly was not a jumper by trade and was pretty flat with a non-existent bascule, but he didn't hesitate or show any kind of uncertainty to his new job.

There were two different variations of the course we did:

Pretty simple elements, given the fact two of the horses in the lesson were green to this whole jumping business.

After Rookie and I sorted out more of a forward button (he likes to jog and lope like a real Western horse) and were able to amp him up a bit, we worked more on trying to get him to utilize his back. Of course, with jumps that are only about 2' high, it's a difficult task but we tried nonetheless. The other thing we worked on was bend in the corners - he really struggled to the left and had a hard time softening for me.
Coming down the line.
But other than that, he was totally game and reminded me a lot of Suzie. It was a pleasure to ride him and I was happy at the chance to try him out. I felt pretty good too, considering I rarely ride other people's horses, much less jump them on the first go round!

Heading down the two-stride line.

Getting a nice little jump at the Swedish.

Start of the line.

So no, he isn't a fantastic jumper. Will never make it to the 3'9" division and probably won't be jumped much more in his life, but I think it's wonderful that his owner reached out and gave Rookie an experience most rodeo horses don't get. Having an all-around horse is what it's all about for me and the fact that Rookie took to it like a pig in mud was just icing on the cake.

The interesting thing about Rookie is that he is a lot like Suzie in the way he jumps and responds to the jumps, so I was able to get some instruction and information on how to fix Suzie as well as Rookie. I can't wait to apply it next year and see how it all pans out!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

For Your Consideration: ARN

As horse people, we love sharing and exchanging ideas, pictures, stories, etc and even more than that, we love the ease of doing so on social media. Blogging is an outlet that allows people to share their journey, mark successes and failures, as well as be honest with the added convenience of a "anonymous" handle.

Blogging is therapeutic to me.
 I, for one, do not share my blogging with anyone in my "inner circle" and prefer to keep it that way. The blog is more for me and a documentation of my time with my horses rather than an open forum - it isn't a secret and it isn't that I am "afraid" of having people read what I write... it's just that this is for me and my horses. That's it... I do appreciate those who do comment/read, as well as those who offer support in times of hardships and trouble. There isn't much anonymity in my blog, as I'm sure anyone could really find me if they truly looked, but it's nice that there isn't a preconceived notion of who I am or what I am like.

With that being said, sometimes it is fun and awesome to share things on social media - especially quickly and conveniently. Horse forums can be fun, but often evokes a mob mentality and more often that not, the real questions are left unanswered.

A friend and myself have developed a Facebook group which is privy to Adult Riders - moreso Amateurs and their horses. It is meant to be a fun and safe place to share photos, critical life events, and to ask questions without fear of being bashed.

If you are interested in partaking in the fun, please feel free to join myself and over 450 other members who share the same passion and the same ideas when it comes to an open forum.

And if you do have any questions/concerns, please drop me a line and I can try and find a resolution.

Our regularly scheduled blogging program will commence soon!

Monday, November 16, 2015

TRM November BlogHop: 25 Questions

I don't have a special bloghop photo, so this will have to
Feel free to play along and let me know you've participated in the 'hop' so I can add you to the list! I don't know how to do that fancy bloghop thing, so you'll just have to bare with me!

Here we go!

1. Mares or Geldings? Why?
Had you asked me this question before I owned Suzie, I would've said "geldings all the way!" But time has a funny way of changing people. I can't say I'm a 100% mare fan or an 100% gelding fan - so long as they are a good horse and fit my requirements, I don't care what the gender is.

2. Green-broke or Fully Broke?
It kind of depends what I want them for and how "soon" I want to progress with them. I wouldn't mind a green-bean, but the horse would have to have the right brain on it (ie. Spud). In regards to wanting to show and place in classes, I'd want something fully broke. Not saying I want a robot or anything, but something that has "all the buttons".

3. Would you own a "hotter" breed (ie. Arabian, Trakhener, etc).
I don't think I would, no. I don't mind them, but just prefer other breeds/temperaments.

I always envisioned something like this - light palomino
and a sweet looking face.
4. What was your "dream horse" growing up?
A Palomino mare named "Serendipity". Haha!

5. What kind of bit(s) do you use and why?
Suzie has three different bits - one is a regular french-link loose-ring snaffle, another is a french link happy mouth, and the last is a dog-bone argentine bit (western). I actually plan on "upgrading" to an copper mouth eggbutt with lozenge.

6. Helmets or no helmets?
I wear my helmet 98% of the time and encourage others to do the same.

I'm drooling!
7. Favorite horse color?
I'm actually a pretty big fan of chestnuts, haha!

8. Least favorite horse color?
Probably black/white paints. They just look cow-y to me.

9. Dressage or Jumping?
I like both equally.

10. How many years have you been riding?
Counting this year, it'll be the big "1-0"!

I use a whip for driving, and not much else!
11. Spurs/whip or no spurs/whip?
I ride with spurs most of the time - I do not ride with a whip, though. I do drive with a whip.

12. Your first fall?
I don't really remember any fall as being "the first", but I'll go with one that I think was quite close to being numero uno. I was trotting Mac (palomino gelding) down a dirt road and just got bounced right off his back. Pretty anticlimactic, haha.

13. When was the last time you rode and what did you do?
I actually rode Suzie-mare a few days ago and we did some Dressage. She was pretty good for not having done much of anything since the end of September.

14. Most expensive piece of tack you own?
My Bates Innova dressage saddle is the most expensive.
My first show on my coach's mare, Annie.
15. How old were you when you started riding?
Well, I "rode" at trail rides/dude ranches since I was probably 8-9, but I didn't begin actual riding lessons until age 13-14.

16. Leather or Nylon halters?
Either or - I don't leave them on the horse so I needn't worry about them getting caught up in it in the pasture.

17. Leather or Synthetic saddles?
Leather all the way.

Not necessarily this color.
 18. What "grip" of reins do you like?
I prefer the webbed ones - laced reins suck.

19. English or Western?
I prefer English but I don't mind Western.

20. How many horses do you currently own/lease?
One and a half (Spud doesn't count as a full horse, haha).

It's nothing special, but it works.
21. Do you board your horse? Self-care/full board? Home board?
I rent out the barn/pastures but I self-care and maintain the horses/barn.

22. Have you ever had to put down a horse that you loved?
No, I haven't had to make that decision. But I have had lease horses pass away suddenly and also one was euthanized. As far as my own? I don't like to think about it.

23. How many saddlepads do you have?
Oh god, I probably have 4-5 Western pads and somewhere between 10-15 English pads.

24. Slant-load trailer or straight haul?
I like the angle hauls better, but starting out with a straight haul is ok too.

25. Why do you ride?
This is kind of a loaded question (in a good way!). I ride because it makes me happy, it frees me and it brings me so much joy.

That Red Mare Bloghop: 25 Questions
1. That Red Mare
2. Poor Woman Showing
3. Fraidy Cat Eventing
4. Something To Talk About
5. Four Mares. No Money.
6. The Story So Far 
7. Everyday Equestrian
8. Racing to Ride
9. Pony Express
10. Vintage Virgina
11. The Pilgrim Chronicles
12. Zen and the Art of Baby Horse Management
13. Hopeful Jumpers
14. Bays Over Baes
15.Canter and Candor
16. Oh Gingersnap!
17. The Graduated Equestrian
18. Howling Owl Farm
19. Topaz Dreams
20. My Secret Garden: A Pony Tale
21. the $900 Facebook pony
22. Thoughtful Equestrian 
23. Breeches and Boat Shoes
24.Sprinkler's Bandit
25. Fly On Over
26. Cob Jockey
27. Living With Athena
28. The Moody Mare
29. Equestrian Journey

Friday, November 13, 2015

Trick Training

I apologize in advance for my lack of posting, but my creative mojo has literally taken a sudden nose-dive. I don't anticipate that this post will even be remotely interesting, but I'll give it a shot since it's something share-worthy. I'll hopefully get back to "normal" and more routine posting shortly, but there hasn't been much horsey-stuff happening considering the season is over for most of us in Northern BC.

 With that being said, I've recently started to work more closely with Spud, namely in the area of lunging and even moreso in trick-training. I may have written last year about how I had attempted to lay him down and only managed it once (after a very tense stand-off, might I add). I hadn't revisited the possibility of teaching him to lay down simply because I didn't think he would take to it, given his response the first time I had tried last year.

However, a few weeks ago I was willing to give it a shot. I started off with things he knows - lunging and going over some small jumps - before asking the bigger questions. Once he was loosened up and had his "listening ears on", I used the lunge line to hold up his front leg. The entire point of this was so that I could easily keep a hold on it in case he tried to rip it out of my grasp. At no point was I going to fight with him - if he resisted I was simply going to give up and bury my pride for the sake of keeping a growing relationship with him. If he decided to participate and go down, I'd rinse and repeat over the next few days.

You can see where the lunge line ran up behind his withers,
acting like a leverage point so he would be working
against himself, rather than me. And additionally,
you can see how loose the "hold" around his foot was, as the
line came undone once he settled down. There was no force
here - he could have easily fought me.
I needn't worry - as within nearly 20 seconds, Spud plopped down onto the ground and let out a little sigh. We rinsed and repeated the exercise right then and there, graduating to removing the lunge line and using only my hand to hold up and guide him.

The trick became something of a game and we practiced it several more times throughout the week, using only my hand to hold up his leg and using my other hand to tip his head towards me to encourage him to drop down. We even managed to "show off" at the Halloween Jackpot and a collective "awww" was uttered throughout the entire Fairgrounds. I can't say I blame them, though.

Now, we will have to perfect the trick so that a tap on his leg will signal for him to go down. Right now we are sticking with the lifting of the leg, but will incorporate the last piece of the trick to make it that much more awesome.

He is such a cool little mini - very rarely disagrees with whatever I've put in front of him. In fact, I got a call a week or so ago from one of the organizers of an annual event in town. It is a light festival (think Christmas lights) and they want Spud to give cart rides to kids. I agreed to participate, but also explained Spud is quite green so if he is spooky/unsafe, he will be unhitched and the kids can just pet/enjoy him. The lady agreed and said that basically whatever I think would benefit the safety of both horses and kids.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Mare Beast-Mode and Money Earning Minis

This weekend a friend of mine organized and held a Halloween themed Poles/Barrels event. There were two divisions - Walk/Trot and Open. Because the Walk/Trot division was allowing people to bring their colts/fillies and hand-walk them, I asked if I could bring Spud along and drive him. The answer was a resounding yes.

I don't know about you ladies, but taking a green driving horse out to a Halloween Jackpot seemed like a fantastic opportunity. I was able to ground-drive him once before the event, but was not able to actually drive him in cart since it was literally pouring rain all week.

No matter, the horses were good to load and we arrived at the grounds with about half an hour before the first Walk/Trot division (Spud and I were first). Because I would be riding both horses, I had to go with a theme that worked with both of them, and I'm quite certain I nailed that on the head.

For the most part, Spud was well-behaved other than being impatient (green horse stuff) and he took great hilarity in literally scaring the shit out of a black Warmblood mare (Tally, lol) and a bay AQHA mare. 

Literally. Scared. The. Shit. Out. Of. Them.

We had quite a bit going on for our costume and since it was so bleeping cold, I wore layers under all my clothes so I look kinda... portly.

The poles class went well and I loped on the way home with him - which is a huge no-no from the organizers since it was a walk/trot class. Oopsie.

Next up was poles on Suzie. I wasn't sure how it would go since I've never even competed poles on her before. She was a bit of a fire-cracker and we had to bump down to a trot to avoid missing the third pole, but we completed the pattern and she had fun. We were nowhere close to the leader-board, though.

Mare is serious about dem poles.

Since I was running two horses, I had to run back and re-tack Spud (I had to unhitch him after poles since I could not leave him tied to the trailer with a cart on and I didn't really trust anyone to hold him). We re-entered the ring for barrels and he had a blast - everyone was cheering for us and giggling over how cute he is.

First barrel

Second barrel

Peeling away from third he stepped into a canter. I had to bring him back down.

And then he turned into a fancy Dressage pony.

He did really well considering, and I was proud that he got over the scary announcer's booth. I untacked him fully after this division and hopped back up onto Suzie for the final event.

I honestly wasn't sure how she'd react since I'd been practicing a few times at home (with plastic chairs, lol) and she wasn't really great at it. Mare proved me wrong though and as soon as I turned her towards the barrels, the following happened:



Coming around second she was a total powerhouse.
Beast-mode, ACTIVATED.

We came in at 26 seconds - which was not bad at all considering out of the 10 or some odd Open riders, we would've been "fourth". The leading time was 20 seconds. I was pretty impressed considering Suzie hasn't really RUN a pattern for about four years now. Go mare, go.

Oh, Spud and I won the "Best Costume" division and he earned me $33. Way to go little firecracker. He also performed his newest trick for his adoring fans:

All in all, it was a spectacularly fun day and I can't wait to compete in a few more gymkhanas. Suzie lit up like a little 2 y/o filly and it was amazing to feel all that raw power under her. She knows her job and she certainly loves it.