Tuesday, August 30, 2011

a fun weekend project

I decided to tackle a fun little project this week with the help of my very handy husband: making some new jumps.

First I had to go and purchase the materials. I was thinking I could make three jumps for under $100. Here's a little reality check: not gonna happen. Just the wood and the PVC poles alone were $115 at Home Depot. The jump cups were $8 for a set of them and I got two sets per jump, so that's another $50. And that was just for three jumps.

My Home Depot trip results. Is is possible to spend less
than $100 there in one trip? I don't think so.

Next we had to measure everything out. We had no power at home due to the hurricane that had just come through, but Kenny has a gas-powered chain saw and we used that to do a lot of the cutting.

Measuring out the standards. We started with 4"x4"x8' pieces of wood. Those
were cut in half so that we had two 4' long sections. These would become the
I measured out the sections of 4"x2"x10' pieces of wood that would become
the base supports for the standards. Cairo helped...of course.
I used a Sharpie marker to mark where we wanted to cut.
Kenny cut the sections with the chain saw.
On the standards, I measured and marked in three inch increments. Later we
drilled 1/2" holes into the standards, which is where the jump cups would go.
At the barn (where there was power!), Kenny used his electric
screwdriver to screw in the supports.
After the standards were finished, we put the jump cups on and I set
the new jumps up in the ring.
Of course I had to try them out!

Irene brought it, big time!

WOW, I have been off the grid for almost three days!

Irene has come and gone and in her wake, over 300,000 homes were without power. My house was one of them. We lost power very early Sunday morning and just got it back at around 9pm tonight (Tuesday). Kenny and I actually played card games multiple times over the last three days, and cooked dinner one night over a fire in the back yard!

On Sunday, when the hurricane actually hit, I was able to make it to the barn twice to check on Lu and make sure she had everything she needed. She ate almost an entire bale of hay in that one day, but what she really wanted was to go out. Apparently she really has started to enjoy turnout and she was clearly unhappy at being cooped up in her stall for the day. I tried to explain to her that 6o+ mph wind gusts weren't that cool, but she didn't want to hear it.

To make it up to her, we tried out some barrel racing in the indoor (which held up without any issues!):

Kenny tried it out first.

Then I tried! She was awesome!

The tight turns were something new for her but she got the hang of it quickly
and for being almost 17 hands tall, she did really well!
Getting sassy ;)

My cow pony.
Keep in mind there was a hurricane going on outside.
Oh yeah, she's crazy.

Other than being off the grid for what seemed like a century, things went without a hitch. The horses that were evacuated to our barn were able to return to their barn the day after the storm. No horses got loose and no trees fell on our barn. The barn didn't even lose power!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Bring it on, Irene.

As most of you probably know, the East Coast is getting battered by Hurricane Irene, which formed down in the Bahamas early in the week. It's now looking like it is going to be a weak Catagory 1 hurricane or a strong Tropical Storm by the time it gets to Rhode Island, but earlier in the week the weather experts were predicting that it would be a lot stronger. I've been preparing for this storm at work, at home, and at the barn. Here's what we've been doing to "hurricane-proof" the barn:

We covered the windows with a heavy plastic and stapled the plastic down with
heavy-duty staples. This is to prevent the 6" of rain we're expecting
from coming into the barn.
I created tags with each horse's name, the farm name, the owner's name, and
a contact number. I had them laminated and then I braided them into the
horses' manes. If they got loose somehow, these tagswould help get them home.
One of the other horses sporting his name tag.
A near-by barn brought 15 horses to the farm because they did not have
enough stalls for all of them, and they were concerned about trees falling on
their barn and flooding. Good thing we still have lots of empty stalls at the
farm! Having 15 horses come in on short notice can be hectic but it seemed
to go fairly well.
During a break in the rain, Claire and I got a quick trail ride in. Lu was being
silly about a gate we had to walk through so I grabbed the closest branch I
could find. Even though clearly that wasn't going to be an effective "crop",
she didn't know that! I showed her I had a stick and she went right through
the gate. Mares...
The barn owner went out and purchased a bunch of these Home Depot buckets
and we filled them all up to the brim with water in case we lose electricity. The
water at the barn is well water, which is brought to the surface by an electric
pump. If the electricity goes out, there is no way to get water.
We also brought extra hay into the barn and made sure it was stacked on pallets off the ground, just in case the aisle floods.

I think we are as prepared as we can be so bring it on, Irene!


I continued working with Lucy over fences last night. She wasn't getting it as easily as she did the first time, but she tried her little heart out and I really appreciated the effort she put into it.

We started by warming up over a crossrail, and then built up the vertical slowly until we were back at the 2'11" mark. We finished by putting the vertical down to about 2'6" and adding the crossrail in front to make a baby oxer. She was great!

Some of the photos made me laugh when I reviewed them because she clearly is still having some baby bloopers. She is very willing and game to try everything, but occasionally has greenie moments with legs flying in every different direction. I believe in guiding a greenie the best I can but also staying out of the horses way and letting them figure things out on their own a bit. She improved more and more as the ride went on and her confidence was great.

This is one of those greenie moments I mentioned above.
Another greenie moment.
Aaaand another. I mean, really, how did she manage that?
That's better!

Pole down! These are homemade standards and they don't even have jump
cups on them, just little rests for the pole, so all it takes is the slightest tap
for the pole to come down. I think I also got a little bit left behind here...

Now we're talking! This was with the "oxer" crossrail in front.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

where I get really brave!

I just wanted to post a few quick photos from my ride last night before I leave for work.

I got brave.

Very brave.

As in, 2'11" brave.

I had tried cantering her in to a smaller jump and she got quite belligerent, so we ended up trotting most everything, including the 2'11" vertical. It was no problem for her at all!

Warming up

I set up this baby grid with two trot poles set at a canter stride apart, to a small
x-rail with a ground pole, and then one pole set another canter stride out. This
was our first attempt. You can't say she didn't try really hard :) She got better
each time we went through it, too.
Then we changed it to one pole one canter stride out, to a 2'6" vertical, to a
second pole a canter stride out after the jump. This exercise really made her
think about where she was putting her feet.

Then the jump went up to almost 3'....eek! I Won't
lie: the first time I went through it I totally grabbed
mane, but she felt so smooth.
She knocked the pole down a few times, but these
standards don't even have jump cups on them, just
little wooden "rests" for the pole, so the poles easily
get knocked down.

This was the last jump of the night. What a fantastic note to end it on!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

switching it up

I have been a bit absent this past week. It was an extremely difficult week for me personally. My friends horse being put down was a very sad thing that happened amongst many other sad things. I didn't ride at all last week with the exception of Sunday.

On Sunday I got the opportunity to have a lesson at a near-by dressage facility called Woodwind Farm. Lauren was also having a lesson. We had bought the lessons on Groupon for a killer deal and Lauren had arranged to use hers on Sunday. I went to watch her lesson and then it became apparent that they had time to do mine also on that day, so Kenny and I drove to the barn, hooked up the trailer, loaded Lucy, and drove back up to this other farm. Crazy? yes. What I really needed after the week I had? yes.

The lesson went very well. I was most proud of Lucy because she had only been ridden twice all week (by Lauren) and yet she got off the trailer, stood on the cross-ties to get tacked up, and was a well behaved lady for the whole lesson at a strange barn. However, when I tried to cross-tie her in the wash stall area, she flipped out, broke through the cross-ties, and ran up to the barn. Then, she refused to get back on the trailer. So it seems our trailer woes are nowhere near "fixed" and I guess we'll have to go back to square one for that. After some brief lunge line work, I did get her on, but it was embarrassing nonetheless.

Anyway, here are some photos:

this is how she was straight off the trailer...not bad.

The majority of my lesson focused on reforming my horrible and stubborn
hunter perch. Even after 45 minutes, I couldn't make myself sit up.

Lauren riding Dan, or Fabio as I thought he should be named ;)