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When we first started thinking about moving to the frozen tundra of Vermont, I knew we’d need heated waterers. It was always part of our budget for a property wether we had to add them to an existing barn or to one we built. What we didn’t count on was the shocking dearth of plumbers. Finding a plumber who would return my calls was frustrating enough. Finding one that services my area was worse. And finding one who isn’t completely booked up for the forseable future proved impossible. I did manage to find a good plumber to fix some of the barn plumbing – we needed to move the hot water heater from the bottom of the bank barn into the heated tack room and heat tape and insulate the pipes (the previous owner went to NC for the winter and the barn wasn’t set up for winter use). However, despite my wanting to pay him money for a large project, he was booked up for anything more than quick projects and wouldn’t take on installing the heated waterers.

While the barn does have electric, I don’t trust heated water buckets. To begin with, I own toddler horses who think everything must be put in their mouths. Even if I managed to drill holes in a way that would keep the cords safe from them, I don’t trust heated water buckets.

PC: Dr. Peter Conserva via Woodstock Veterinary Clinic

While we’re still planning to install the Nelson Waterers – which keep water warmed but in a safe way – we need it to be not freezing cold outside while we’re doing it. My husband is actually taking a plumbing class so we can do this ourselves – and also it’s a super useful skill to have for minor projects. I may take the class too at a future date. That said, with heated waterers being a next summer project, we needed a way to keep the horses’ water warm in the meantime.

Enter insulated buckets. I looked around online and found a few different ways of insulating water buckets. While the two buckets with foam in-between looked great, that involved buying second larger buckets. The bubble wrap and duct tape method seemed best. Especially given that we had just moved across the country and had tons of free bubble wrap. I opened lots of boxes marked fragile, gathered stacks of bubble wrap, some packing foam, duct tape, and – to try something a bit different than what I had seen online – some Reflectix – which is basically bubble wrap, but with reflective metal sides and sold at Home Depot or other stores in the insulation section.

Sadly, I got very few pictures of this project because I was doing it on my own and didn’t have a 3rd hand for picture taking. Luckily, it’s really easy. You basically wrap the bucket in bubble wrap (and in my case some packing foam too).

I found it helped to duct tape some pieces down – especially around the edges – to keep things still as I went along. Once you’ve got several layers wrapped around the bucket, cover everything in duct tape. I made one bucket with just the regular bubble wrap.

Then I made another bucket with the reflective wrap. I used the regular – in my case free – bubble wrap for the majority of the layers and just used one layer of the reflective wrap to keep costs down. The Reflectix is only ~$16 a roll, but free is still cheaper than $16 and I managed to cover 4 buckets with one roll of the Reflectix doing just one layer and I have some left (1 roll should make 5-6 buckets I think). I think 1 roll would do maybe 2 buckets if you only used it. Regular bubble wrap is about 1/3 to 1/4 (depending on where you buy it) the cost of Reflectix if you don’t have stacks of it lying around like I did. Sadly, I got no pictures of making that one until the end.

They were super easy to make and didn’t take very long at all. I think about ~15 minutes for the later ones. The first one probably took 20-25 minutes as I was figuring it out. The cost was great too. I think each one probably cost me about $5-$6. Even if I had to buy the bubble wrap, the cost per bucket would probably still be <$10.

The price is great, but I know what you’re wondering, because I was wondering this too. Do they actually work?

The answer is an astounding yes.

I really want to do a timelapse video to show just how well these buckets work, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet, so here’s a poorly lit picture. For added comparison, Nilla’s bucket has the SmartPak Insulated Water Bucket Cover on it and Levi’s bucket is uninsulated. Why is Levi’s bucket uninsulated, you might ask?

Because Levi is the living embodiment of the phrase “this is why we can’t have nice things.”

proof

Seriously though, he shredded his so now he doesn’t get one.

This is a downside to this type of insulated bucket. If you have an incurably mouthy *asshole of a horse, this isn’t going to stand up to them. Then again, I don’t think SmartPak cover would survive him either. Possibly the foam method would work.

Anyway, in this picture of all 4 buckets, you can see that Nilla and Eugene’s (on the left) are completely free of ice. Shasta’s – the green one on the right- has a very thin layer of ice on the top. Levi’s is iced all the way around (his was nearly empty). I took a picture of those two after dumping them. The lighting wasn’t great in the barn at night so I threw the picture into an editor and jacked up some of the effects so it looks weird, but it does help you see how Levi’s has developed a thicker layer of ice all around the sides and bottom. Shasta’s only has a the skim on top.

Since Shasta’s bucket is the one with just regular bubble wrap, you can see that even regular bubble wrap and duct tape will help. However, in the picture of all four, you can see that the reflective wrapped bucket is working just as well as Nilla’s expensive SmartPak cover.

I will say I think the SmartPak cover works even better than the DIY buckets. Nilla’s stall is a lot colder than Eugene’s (reasons I’ll get into in another post) and her bucket started freezing before everyone else’s before I added the covers. I bought the SmartPak cover back when I did the other ones because I was curious if my DIY covers could work as well. For the most part, they have. However, the temps were only in the high teens evening when I took these pictures. When the temps get below 0 the DIY buckets get more iced than the SmartPak one. They still get significantly less ice than the uninsulated one. I’d like to try making a duct-tape lid for one of the DIY ones to see if that helps. If you’ve got lots of $ to spend or don’t like Doing it Yourself, the SmartPak covers cost $45 and really do a great job. The DIY covers only cost about $5-$10 though and do a pretty damned good job as well.

I highly recommend making some of these if you ever worry about your horse’s water freezing.

As a side note, if you’re thinking “My horse has been living in the cold forever. He knows how to break through ice to drink, and doesn’t need warm water,” you should really read this study. To sum it up though: In the winter, horses will drink more water when the water given to them is warm, but will chose cold water – and then drink less – if offered a choice. Since I want my horses drinking as much as possible – especially in the winter – I want them to have warm water. Even with the insulated buckets, I like to mix in a little hot water to my horses’s buckets when I fill them. The insulated buckets will keep that water warm too. I’ve hung an insulated bucket outside in the wind with some hot water mixed in and found it still nice and warm hours later.

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DIY Horse Ownership by Olivia - 1M ago

It’s pretty, but good luck getting anything done

There’s really not much going out here in the frozen north. Honestly if it would just stay frozen, that’d be fine, but we keep getting these bizarre heat waves with rain. 2′ of snow followed by 50° weather and 2″ of rain is a disaster.

We’re lucky and we’re up on a hill so we don’t need to worry about flooding, but a lot of people in our area do. I saw this crazy video of a ton of hay bales going over a waterfall in a town nearby. Sucks for whoever’s hay that was.

We did get a bit of flooding back in December during another rain. That time we got more than 2″, though I forget how much.

The problem with the rain for us is that after it stops and gets cold again, everything turns to ice. The ponies have been stuck in their stalls with turnout in the small paddocks near the barn because it’s too dangerous to walk them down the path to the far barn and their pastures. The pathways are solid sheets of ice. There are sections I can’t walk on even in yaktrax.

The boys really seem to like the snow. Levi thinks it’s all a fun new toy to play with.

Shasta and Nilla don’t care for it as much. Nilla will roll in the snow, but if given a choice (when she’s down in the lower barn and can go in and out) she’ll stay inside all the time. We did catch her napping in the paddocks by the barn the other day.

View this post on Instagram

Nilla taking a nap in the sun. #mulesofinstagram #horselife #mules #longears

A post shared by Olivia @ DIY Horse Ownership (@diyhorseownership) on Jan 30, 2019 at 10:57am PST

Since it’s not safe enough to even walk the horses down the path, it’s definitely not safe to ride. While we’re not getting any riding done, we have been busy with DIY projects. I’m hoping to put together posts about each of these soon, but here’s a sneak preview:

Feed bin construction

Comfort Stall Installation

DIY insulated water buckets

Blanket Upgrades

But mostly, I’ve been staying inside and baking – and eating – a lot. Because if you cant ride, you might as well shovel in those calories, right?

Banana Bundt Cake

Right?

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Because of our impending move, my 2018 goals were a bit sparse and honestly I’ve not done the best job of achieving them. However, look back at the post did remind me about some things I need to work on again in 2019.

✔ Read More

I set my GoodReads goal at 75, but I hoped to read 125+ books in 2018. I made it to 130, which is generally a success, but the quantity wasn’t the whole point. I wrote in my goal post “the total number of books isn’t really my goal though; I just want to spend more time reading real books instead of wasting time online.” I was really good about that before the move, but after the move I was so busy that sitting down with a book seemed like too much and I would decide to just look at Instagram for a “few minutes.” I need to get back on this goal in 2019.

✘ Nilla Soundness

“It’d be cool if we could make it to 2019 without any more injuries.” Well, that was a big, fat fail. She re-injured herself in January of 2018, had until August off and was declared 100% healed and ready to return to work then. She did well with rehab work before the snow put a halt to all riding. She turned up with swelling in the suspensory area again a few weeks ago. My best guess is she slipped on the ice. We’ll see what she looks like in the spring.

✔ Figure out what to do with Levi

“Hopefully by the end of the year either I’ll have found a way to enjoy him or found someone else to enjoy him.”

I think this was mostly a success. We went through another period where I seriously contemplated selling him. He can be the biggest *sshole sometimes. But when he’s good, he’s so freaking good. We’ll see what 2019 brings.

✔ Stop buying shit

“I’m not going to set a budget because I’m not eliminating buying things I do need – like a dressage saddle so I can stop doing dressage in my 20 year old close contact that doesn’t fit me. However, I need to stop buying crap I don’t need, like more saddle pads or new breeches. If something breaks and I need a new thing, I’m free to go ahead, but no more buying stuff just for fun.”

An example of a thing I didn’t buy despite really, really wanting to

I’d actually say I did a pretty good job of this. While I certainly bought stuff this year, I got a lot better about not buying random stuff just because I wanted to. I bought almost no saddle pads. I also made an effort to buy quality items that will last instead of endless replacements for cheap crap.

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Favorite show picture

PC: Andres Bergsneider – used with purchase

This wasn’t a successful event for us, but I do love this picture.

Favorite non-show picture

This photo reminds me of how much I actually do enjoy riding Levi. When he’s good, he’s so, so good.

Favorite thing you bought 

Home

I think this wins by a long-shot.

Favorite moment on horseback

I have so much more fun going to random games days than I do showing. Sometimes you have to just get out there and enjoy the horse you have.

 

Favorite moment out of the saddle

Little horse in a big world

My husband and I spend a lot of time together since we both ride. I love that. But it’s not time out of the saddle – unless you count the hours we spend in the car together. Going to Twin was different though. I wasn’t riding, so I could just concentrate on playing groom and helping him get out there and show off just how amazing little Mustangs can be.

Favorite “between the ears” picture

Damn California really is pretty.

Favorite horse book or article

Technically I read this at the very end of December 2017, but it was my favorite. My husband and I listened to the audiobook together and I highly recommend it. The history of the Oregon trail is really interesting, but the information about mules then and now was the best part. Mules were much more important in American history than you might think. You don’t need to love mules to like this book either. I think any equestrian will enjoy it and any history, travel, or adventure buff will as well

Favorite horse ridden (or groomed/cared for) aside from your own

PC: MGO – used with purchase

Does Eugene count? I think he should as he’s really not mine. He’d be the first one to tell you that too. He really only likes my husband and frequently won’t even let me catch him, despite the fact that I feed him. But he’s an awesome little horse who tries harder than any other horse I’ve ever met. But if he doesn’t count, Devro, my friend’s Mustang – also out of the Carson City prison training program – was a lot of fun to ride too.

Favorite funny picture of your horse

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Levi: “We are best friends, the very very best – oh sh*t.” #blmmustang #horselife #farmlife #horsesofinstagram

A post shared by Olivia @ DIY Horse Ownership (@diyhorseownership) on Oct 7, 2018 at 2:32pm PDT

Favorite fence that you successfully jumped or movement that you conquered

Not the best shot, but if you read my post about the Woodside event, you’ll know I was panicking the entire weekend about this jump. I was literally sick over it. So getting over it was a big deal.

Favorite horse meme or funny picture

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Another year, another gift exchange! I always love doing this and I highly recommend anyone with a horse blog join in next year if you’re not doing it already. Check out Tracy’s blog for more information.

This is my 5th time doing the gift exchange. Sadly, I can’t find a post from the first year, but here are links to 2015, 2016, and 2017.

Today I opened the door to find a small stack of packages. Most of them were either gifts for other people or boring household good like new outlet covers. So when I opened one of the packages at random to find wrapped gifts I was so excited. I have been scrambling to finish the gift I need to send for the exchange and kind of forgot that the other side of the gift exchange is actually receiving gifts!  Woo hoo.

Let’s just pause to talk about how amazing this wrapping paper is. It’s freaking unicorns carrying packages with a banner reading “Have a Magical Christmas.” I legit sat there with a razor blade cutting the paper off so I can re-use it.

This year I said I was interested in getting things to help me survive this frozen wasteland I have moved to and my Secret Santa did not disappoint.

Look at these beauties! I cannot tell you how much I love socks. Like, possibly more than I like saddle pads. I dunno though; I do really like saddle pads. It’s a close call. Nonetheless, I love getting socks as gifts and wool socks are my favorite. So excited about these.

Also, those gloves are cashmere. I don’t think I own anything cashmere. To my mind, that’s like for fancy, rich people. They’re not going anywhere near the barn. I am going to put those in my nice, non barn coat.

I have being eyeing those toe warmers at various stores, but just not pulling the trigger, so I was psyched to see them. At first I was like, I can’t wait to try these and then I was like

Wouldn’t it be better if it just never got cold enough to need these? That seems unlikely though. My package didn’t come with a card, but the return address gave me enough information to track down Holly from Marescara on Instagram and ask if they were from here and they were! Thanks again Holly! I’m really excited about all my winter weather gear and I’m sureI’ll be using them soon.

So true it’s not even funny

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I’ve been quiet over here lately. I’m more active on Instagram so if you want to see what the horses are up to, follow us over there. However, I can sum up what we’re up to in one word: nothing.

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At least it’s pretty… #winterishere #farmlife #vermontlife

A post shared by Olivia @ DIY Horse Ownership (@diyhorseownership) on Nov 13, 2018 at 7:51am PST

Snow hit early here and just hasn’t let up. While I knew we were moving to a place where it snows a lot, I wasn’t expecting to move just in time for the 5th most snowy November in Vermont history. Without an indoor arena, the snow basically put a halt to us doing anything other than shoveling money into the horses on one end and shoveling manure on the other.

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Levi’s just not as good at sliding in the snow as Eugene. #blmmustang #horselife #horsesofinstagram #winter #vermont

A post shared by Olivia @ DIY Horse Ownership (@diyhorseownership) on Nov 26, 2018 at 8:03am PST

The horses seem to have adjusted to their new lives. Eugene loves the snow. He’s always grown a huge winter coat so it’s liking he’s been prepping for this move his whole life. If the weather’s bad and we have to bring them in overnight, he just stands at his window and stares out of it. We’d leave him out, but Levi and Shasta would lose their damned minds if they were separated and they like coming in. Neither of them ever grew a great winter coat and they’re not as happy living out, even with blankets.

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Nilla’s with me; she’s sick of this snow already. #mulesofinstagram #horselife #farmlife #snowfordays

A post shared by Olivia @ DIY Horse Ownership (@diyhorseownership) on Nov 29, 2018 at 9:47am PST

Nilla has always grown the most ridiculous winter coat. She’s probably even overly prepared for Vermont, but she hates the snow. She spends all of her time in her run-in shed even if I put a sheet or blanket on her.

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Nilla is already over it. #mulesofinstagram #farmlife #vermont #winterishere #horselife

A post shared by Olivia @ DIY Horse Ownership (@diyhorseownership) on Oct 27, 2018 at 2:37pm PDT

My husband took Eugene out for a brief ride the other day. Eugene is sure-footed and has snow pads and studs, so he’s fine. He was super excited to get out and go too.

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Snow ride. #blmmustang #horsesofinstagram #horselife #horsebackriding #funinthesnow

A post shared by Olivia @ DIY Horse Ownership (@diyhorseownership) on Dec 1, 2018 at 8:44am PST

Sadly, Levi has been developing snow balls in his shoes despite snow pads so I didn’t want to take him out. That horse trips on himself regularly, the addition of snow is just overkill. He’s got his own ways of coping with the snow.

View this post on Instagram

Yummy #winterishere #vermont #blmmustang #horselife #horsesofinstagram

A post shared by Olivia @ DIY Horse Ownership (@diyhorseownership) on Nov 28, 2018 at 10:38am PST

That’s pretty much it that’s going on around here: snow, horses in the snow, staying inside to avoid the snow, trying to pick up manure in the snow, slipping on the snow turned to ice, snow, snow, snow. I do have a few DIY projects I’ve completed that I hope to post about soon if I can get some time to write them up.

If anyone has handy tips for managing horses in the snow, hit me up in the comments.

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DIY Horse Ownership by Olivia - 4M ago

It took a while, but I finally got my Wisdom Panel DNA test results for Skye. The results are pretty interesting and not what most people (and I) guessed.

The American Staffordsire Terrier part makes sense. Although several breeds have brindle in them, pibble seemed like the most likely contributor – especially for a rescue mutt.

1st night at obedience class

The ChowChow and Eskimo dog are really surprising. I had guessed she got the fluffiness from some sort of shepherd (my guess was Australian) but I would have believed German or Belgian or really any shepherd. Most commenters thought she was some sort of shepherd as well.

Wisdom panel gives you a best guess at a family tree, which is fun to look at even if they admit it is just a best guess and not a definite.

Who would combine Chow Chow and Eskimo Dog? They’re nowhere near the same size as each other. I guess they’re both fluffy. Skye certainly LOVES the freaking snow:

The Boston Terrier I don’t see at all, but the lab part makes some sense. As she’s growing, she’s getting a lean, lab-like look to her. Wisdom Panels gives you a whole bunch of additional information including testing for Multidrug Sensitivity (MDR1), which is a gene mutation that causes some dogs to have issues with wormers and other drugs. I was concerned that might be an issue if she did have Aussie in her and it’s a relief to know I don’t need to worry about that. You can elect to pay more for additional health concern testing, but I didn’t. I was glad MDR1 was included in the base test.

They also give you an ideal weight chart based on breed:

Yeah, I don’t think we’re going to get there. She’ll might hit 35, but I doubt she’ll get much bigger. At 17 weeks, she only weighs 15 lbs.

always in motion = never in focus

My guess is the malnutrition her mom died of and that she came to use with stunted her growth. We’re feeding her as much as we can, but she’s not a good eater and would rather bound around playing instead. Oh well, she’s a cute fluff no matter what.

This isn’t a sponsored post and non of the links are affiliate links. My friend bought me the test as a gift. However, I would recommend Wisdom Panel if you want to test your own dog’s DNA. It was pretty easy to do and the postage is pre-paid so you just pop it in the mailbox and that’s it. Wisdom Panel gave me one discount code for $10 off if anyone is interested (it’s not an affiliate code and it only works once). If you’re interested, leave a comment and I’ll send it to you.

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DIY Horse Ownership by Olivia - 4M ago

I generally don’t post about my dogs on this blog – which is odd since I post about chickens and turkeys and other random animals – but everyone seemed much more interested in seeing pictures of our new puppy than in hearing about our Hitching Post HT experience. Honestly, I don’t blame you. Puppy pictures are the best. The problem is, I have very few good pictures… because this puppy never stops moving.

Meet Skye.

We have no idea what breed(s) she is. She came up to Vermont from a rescue in the south. The rescue didn’t know what breed she was either. I’ve volunteered with rescues in the past, worked as a dog walker and a therapy dog trainer, and spent years as a kid pouring over breed books. All that and I have no idea what breed this dog is.  I’m not sure she is a dog. I think she might just be a ball of fluff come to life.

The fluff stalks the leaves

I’m not sure how big she’ll get, but she was 8 lbs at 12 weeks and was very underweight (she was bony and malnourished underneath all that fluff). She probably should have been 10 lbs at that time. She’s putting on weight and doing much better now that we got her stomach issues cleared up (minor puppy parasite) and are feeding her quality puppy food.

Is this not insanely cute?

She absolutely LOVED getting her medicine. She’d start bouncing and begging for it as soon as I got the syringe out. I wonder if she was bottle fed – apparently her mom died – and that’s why she loved the syringe. That or the medicine just tasted really good? I dunno, but I wish my horses were this easy to worm.

Most of the pictures I have of her are of her sleeping because she’s either a bouncing ball of energy and whirling dervish of destruction that’s impossible to get in focus on a camera or she’s conked out.

She likes to sleep upside down tough and it’s adorable. My other two dogs initially hated her. The one has gotten over it and is now playing with her/tolerating her. The other was initially terrified of her and has progressed to just hating her. Here’s Sky and Cora playing and Ceili coming in to tell them to knock that sh*t off.

I’ve been taking Skye into town to get her some exposure as she’s a very shy puppy who clearly didn’t get to see much of the world outside of her foster home and is terrified of new places and people. I wish I could have gotten her a bit younger to start the exposure earlier and I wish we didn’t live in the middle of nowhere so she could get even more, but we’re doing what we can. She starts puppy obedience class tomorrow and I am looking forward to getting her exposure to other dogs and people there too.

Feel free to jump in with breed guesses in the comments. I’d love to know what you think she might be. I have sent away for a DNA test, but apparently it takes 2-3 weeks to process. Do they not understand that I need instant gratification?

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Philosophers might ask: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” I think the horse blogger might instead ask, “If you didn’t blog about it, did it really happen?”

It turns out, maybe not so much. My husband and I went to a schooling HT at Hitching Post on October 14th. The next day, I drove my husband to the airport so he could return to California for a week of working at the office. Then I proceeded to try to cope with keeping 4 horses, 2 dogs, and a brand new adopted puppy alive for one week by myself. Vermont decided that’d be a great time to snow.

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And now it’s winter. #thatwasfast #winterishere #vermontlife #barnlife

A post shared by Olivia @ DIY Horse Ownership (@diyhorseownership) on Oct 18, 2018 at 9:28am PDT

2 of the horses decided to throw shoes, my farrier bailed on me and referred me to a different farrier, my one dog decided she needed to eat a plastic teething toy and go to the emergency vet, I had to have oral surgery to remove a broken tooth, I got off the waitlist for a barn cat and had to pick it up right now and the puppy required still requires constant vigilance. The whole week was exhausting and I never got enough time to blog about the show. Now, because I didn’t write anything down, I honestly don’t remember all the details. So, while the show really did happen, the details I have about it are sparse.

I can normally spark some memories by looking through pictures and going over the dressage tests, but we can’t find the dressage tests and because of timing, the only pictures are of my dressage test.

Despite the dearth of pictures, the show did happen and it was a good day. I’m going to try to remember what I can.

The day started off by being incredibly foggy. This was better than the pouring rain they had the day before for their rated event, but it made for a chilly and damp morning. We hauled the boys over in their blankets and I tried to tack up around Levi’s blanket. I was too cold to wear a show jacket and did my test in my black wool pullover. It was so foggy, we had to ask where the warm up was because we couldn’t see it from the parking area.

seriously foggy

The warm up area was a little bit weird because it was a circular track. You could make a circle/go across the diagonal/change directions/etc by going onto the grass in the middle, but it was a little awkward. Since I was doing the Elementary division (above grasshopper, but below BN) and the grasshopper people were also in the warm up, it was filled with lots of kids on ponies with trainers constantly yelling at them – with very little success – not to get in everyone else’s way. Levi was being sticky about picking up the correct lead so we spent more time on canter transitions that I would have liked (he gets tired fast and I didn’t want a repeat of the Huntington test where he ran out of steam), but we did get the leads cleared up.

good boy

Finally it was time to go down to the arena. Unfortunately, I was first in my division and there was quite a bit of confusion about that. Although my number was last for my division, I was scheduled to go first. Once I cleared that up with the judge and she found my number was listed first on the schedule, she rang me in. Then, as I was trotting around, she stopped me again to ask what test I was doing. Um, BN A? Grasshoppers were doing the Intro test and BN was doing BN B and the Elementary divison was doing BN A. Apparently they couldn’t find that written down anywhere and it also seemed like they couldn’t find any BN A tests. So I started thinking, maybe I’m wrong and I am supposed to be doing another test. After some additional shuffling, they finally found the BN A tests and said I could go in from there. Well, the long pause had kind of gotten Levi out of dressage mode, but we marched off.

Enter at A, crooked

This wasn’t a great test. It wasn’t terrible, but it was just generally blah and not what either of us is capable of. I had some weird geometry issues, which is not something I usually suffer with and I kind of suspect the ring wasn’t entirely straight. But most of it was my own fault. Some of our circles weren’t terribly circular and I know I came onto centerline for the final halt and found the judge’s booth off to the side and was like, oh sh*t but I couldn’t fix it then.

After stopping to talk to the judge, I never really got Levi back in the connection. I always hesitate to get after him during a test since his reaction to correction can be rather extreme, but I really should have just half halted him and pushed him forward instead of carrying on like above.

Our canter transitions were spectacular. I didn’t even need the picture to remember this part. I distinctly remember muttering to him after the first, “that was unnecessary?”

Doesn’t listen when I ask nicely, objects to being spurred.

Because we had no connection, free walk – which is normally a good movement for Levi – was lacking. He basically just meandered across the diagonal with no stretch to the bit.

We carried on, never establishing any connection, and doing an excellent impression of a llama.

But we carried on and got it done. Like, I said in the beginning, it wasn’t the worst test ever, just not a good one. We ended up tied for 3rd with a 38.3 going into XC.

We had a long break after my dressage and took the opportunity to walk XC. The sun was slowly creeping it’s way out of the clouds and it was looking like the afternoon might be sunny. The Elementary course was interesting.

Unfortunately for picture’s sake, my husband’s dressage time was exactly the same time as my XC. My husband also failed to pack the helmet cams despite my asking him if he had so I have no media of XC or stadium. When we found out his dressage ring was running late, he came up with me to the XC warm up thinking he could maybe see me do the first jump or so before he had to go. But XC was also running late. Or rather, it wasn’t running at all. The grasshopper division just did stadium with some logs, so Elementary was the first division to go and no one seemed prepared for that.

There was no ring steward or any other volunteers anywhere nearby. Other riders and trainers trickled in to the ring, all confused and asking what was going on. Finally, we saw a volunteer heading out to the start box across the field, but no one showed up to the ring. Confusion continued. I was supposed to go at 11:15 and around 11:35, I finally just rode Levi across the driveway and field over to the start box to ask. They didn’t know when XC would be starting either. Cool.

Although my nerves are doing slightly better at the lower levels, I still get anxious leading up to XC. I generally try to get on late and do as little warm up as possible. Having an extra 30 minutes of saddle time before XC was not helping my nerves. Plus, my type A personality doesn’t really like disorganization. I know it can be hard to get volunteers and things can run behind, but having 1 person who knew what was going on come over to the warm up with an update or even to say “we don’t know yet, but we are working on it” would have been nice.

The startbox volunteer told me to walk around in the area while she radioed around to seen when we’d be starting. I walked Levi around as he grew increasingly upset that other horses were far away and doing things. This helped my nerves of course. Finally it was time to go. The course wasn’t timed so she asked if I wanted a count down or if I just wanted to go and I said I could just go.

We trotted out of the startbox across the first field. The first Elem jump was in the second field, which was actually nice. Since Levi has leaving the start box issues, having a bit of time to get him going without worrying about a jump was nice. The first jump was a very inviting little log on top of a hill. Levi popped right over that.

log

The second jump was across the field a ways. The footing was decent for how much it had been raining, but it was still a bit slippery so we stuck to a trot going down the hill to the second jump, which was slightly bigger, but not too bad.

The third jump was a straight line from the second and it was a decent sized log with a slightly shorter half if you really wanted to. We cantered off of #2and over #3, which Levi thought it would be super fun to get as close to as possible.

We made a U-turn after #3 to jump #4, which was a jump on the BN course in the other direction. It was a slightly easy BN jump, but still considerably bigger than the 1st jump. Levi was in the groove now though and we got over this one.

We had to mark a hard right and climb a steep hill after #4 to get to #5. Levi thought it would be more fun to just keep running straight back to the barn so we had a bit of a wrestle to get up that hill, but the jump was easy and we got over it just fine.

#6 was a water jump. However, it was set up a bit oddly in that the flags were on the opposite side of the water (everyone else went the other direction) and there was a big patch of dry ground between the water and the flags. As we got near the water, Levi tried to take off in the opposite direction. We were still at least 50 feet away from the water at this point, so I just turned him back towards the water, gave him a smack, and made him trot through the dry ground between the flags and the water. We never fully stopped or circled, but I could see that the jump judge was a child and worried about them calling it a refusal.

At this point, we were headed back towards the start again and Levi was like, omg, we should just gallop off in that direction. Except we needed to turn left off that path and jump something on a downhill. Once again, Levi and I had a bit of wrestling match about turning and then another one about trotting. He was literally fighting to canter as he tripped and nearly face planted on the wet grass. I wish I had the helmet cam for this part because I remember saying something to him about this is why you need to trot. #7 was another jump shared with BN, but I liked how inviting it was with the ramped logs.

The last jump looked brand new; the wood was all bright and unweathered. It was also a new and different sort of jump and Levi likes to look at those. He tried to put his head down and nose it at the last moment, but had too much momentum and we sort of crashed over it majestically, but we were done.

I headed straight to stadium after XC. Stadium was down by the dressage warm up. When I got there it was absolutely the worst timing. My husband had just been sent down from warm up to do his dressage test. Eugene sensed Levi somehow and proceeded to get distracted and scream his head off for his test. Levi was happy to sing back the song of his people as I tried to convince the ring steward that she did not need to chase the people walking the course out of the ring. I could totally wait (and go far away so my husband could get through his test in peace). Alas, she did not listen to me and made me go in. I had not walked the course, but I had looked at the map and seen some of the grasshoppers go earlier before I did XC.

We went into the ring and Levi, fully distracted with screaming for his brother from another mother, didn’t seem to realize we were jumping until he crashed into the first jump. I don’t know how – since I heard the noise it made – the jump stayed up. After that, Levi was a bit more aware of his legs, but still not very interested in listening to me and much more interested in finding Eugene, who he could not see, but could hear. We managed to careen around stadium clambering over jumps in the most graceless of fashions, but the jumps (2’3″) were low enough that Levi could be distracted and dumb and still go clear.

As we left Stadium, I found my husband returning from dressage and complaining about Eugene’s distraction during his dressage test. I commiserated with him. He did end up 6th out of 8 with a 39.1 in the Novice division. At this point I had to leave to go pick up the puppy we were adopting (the timing of the adoption transportation was just awful) and I left my husband with the horses to do his XC and stadium later (no media from this either). I told my husband as I was leaving that I thought the kid at #6 might call it a refusal and to protest for me. I stopped to get a drink on my way and checked online to see they had marked a refusal at #6. I called my husband, he assured me he’d go fix it and then I  continued on my drive. When I looked again (over an hour later) I still had a 20 and he said he hadn’t protested until after his XC and stadium so it was outside of the time limit for protests. Thanks, hon. I would have finished in 3rd without that.

My husband managed to go clear on his Novice XC course, which was refreshing as this was their first return to Novice since getting eliminated/retiring from XC at Coconino. Since they had done a rated just the day before, the course was not a dumbed down for being a schooling show. I was particularly concerned about the ditch to giant, shared-with-training chevron combination.

They had two rails in stadium, but Stadium has always been Eugene’s weakest phase and going to it straight off of a long, hard XC course left him a bit tired, so two rails isn’t that bad. They ended in 6th place.

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It’s important to schedule time for grooming at horse shows. #blmmustang #horselife #horsesofinstagram #horseshow

A post shared by Olivia @ DIY Horse Ownership (@diyhorseownership) on Oct 21, 2018 at 8:56am PDT

Overall, it was a fun day. The facility is really pretty and I look forward to showing there again in the future.

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DIY Horse Ownership by Olivia - 5M ago

In addition to the equines and dogs, our farm is home to a lot of wildlife. Some of them I enjoy having… others not so much. Since the weather is keeping me from getting much riding in and the 50 millions things that need fixing around here are keeping me from blogging as much as I’d like, I though I’d do a quick little post about the various animals are barn hosts.

Turkeys

I don’t know if it’s the same rafter or different ones, but I see wild turkeys almost every day.

Rafter of turkeys on the fence

Frogs and Toads

As it’s started getting cold (damn you snow in October) I haven’t seen any of the frogs and toads in a while, but we were seeing them almost every night. The toads are huge (dessert plate size) and I have nearly fallen over trying to avoid stepping on them at the last second.

Frog

toad

Eastern Newt

I only saw this one, but it was so cool. This is the eft stage for newts; a stage where they live on land in between being born in water and returning to the water.

Chipmunks (and Squirrels)

I have no pictures of the squirrels, but they are definitely a presence here. They seem really obsessed with eating crabapples and pears on my porch and leaving the crumbling remains for me. Chipmunks are super cute, but they’re troublemakers. We made the mistake of leaving our tack room open while riding one day and returned to find this little bastard leaping all over the place.

Porcupine

My husband saw this guy when we was out hiking our property with our forester. Apparently he was a bit camera shy and would circle around the tree whenever my husband tried to get a picture so this is the best he got.

Birds

The previous owners left behind a bird feeder and I’ve gotten really into feeding the birds. I love all the different little ones:

little birds

I do not, however, like the *sshole blue jays. As pretty as they are, they’re bullies. They scare all the other birds away and they go through all the seed way too quickly. I’m working on some changes to discourage them.

We also have a big owl living near our house. I hear him(her?) frequently at night though I’ve only seen him the once and I didn’t have a camera on me. He was huge and very cool to see.

I’m sure we’re home to a lot more wildlife that we just haven’t seen yet. I know we’ve got coyotes since I hear them howling at night. I always enjoyed seeing all the wildlife at the barn we boarded at in CA and I’m exciting to see all the new ones here. I do miss the California Quail. I always called them velociraptor birds as they liked to run instead of fly off and would stride through the brush like the little dinosaurs they are. They were probably my favorite barn wildlife – although the twin fawns were a close second. What’s your favorite barn wildlife?

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