Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Barn Renovations: Tack Organization

The barn is an on going project to get up to snuff for my liking. First we replaced the leaking roof, then we cemented in the aisle. After those two projects it was time for the tack room which needed a lot of work. I really wanted to move my tack out of the small office and give that space to Dusty as his work shop. Before I could even begin to think about organization we had to build a ceiling, replace the rotten floor boards and build a door. 

The only decent before picture I can find. A nice spacious area, but needing some key features before I could move my tack in

Once the floors were fixed, the ceiling created and a door hung, I got busy scheming ways to use the space. The long far wall opposite the door was slated for my tack. The wall wasn't very sturdy and didn't have enough studs close enough to be useful for hanging tack off the wall itself. I personally do not like the free standing saddle racks or at least not the ones I already had as they swiveled and invariably moved every time I tried to remove or replace my saddle. 

The first step then was to build a new back wall and since we were doing that I asked him to build me an entire tack locker because why not? 

My precious!!! I ADORE it. He did such an amazing job figuring out the hazy plans from inside my head and making this. It has everything in it I could have asked/hoped for. 

He worked his butt off for the entire week we took off in April to get the shell completed and then started in on the individual compartments. The far right holds Eeyore's jump saddle on the bottom right, Wyatt's saddle next to it and then Gemmie's endurance and jump saddles above. I originally planned to have him build me a cubby below this for storage but I have found that I like to drop the pad and girth and such on the ledge as I put the saddle up and then go back and put those items away, so I am leaving it open. 

The second compartment houses the bridles and this custom saddle pad rack he made me. This allows the pads to air dry and lets me pick whatever I want for that ride easily without rummaging through a stack. I then hung the bridles above the pads. There is room on the side walls for more bridle rcks if I ever need the extra space down the road. 

The saddle pad rack is my favorite part of the entire thing

Compartment #3 has my girth collection on the back and left side walls and various odds and ends like extra bits, his hoof boots, extra reins and Gemmie's breast plate on the right side wall. There are plenty of empty hooks too for more additions in the future.  

The random bar was a request by Wyatt to add a chin up bar. Of course we acquiesced. Don't all tack lockers come with a chin up bar?

The last compartment also has four saddle racks and currently houses three saddles. Someday I'd like to add a dressage saddle for Eeyore and this gives me room. Really all three of these could be sold. The western no longer fits Wyatt, the one next to it is an ancient but in good condition Kieffer AP that cost me $250 and just isn't worth the pain of selling and the bottom saddle was Dusty's when he rode Pete. 

I may still add a cubby here in the future to hide the blankets away in the summer. For now though it can stay like this. 

After cleaning all the tack and organizing it I realized that I own a crap ton of tack for one person riding one horse. To be real though two saddles, two pads and a bridle are all Wyatt's plus there is all Gem's endurance gear that could go in storage. So maybe not so bad? Maybe?

I have two walls left to organize in the room before it is completed, but my tack has been moved in and the office emptied so Dusty can move his equipment out of the barn aisle. Hopefully the entire room will be completed soon so we can move on to the next room. 

Monday, July 20, 2020

Farm Renovations: Curb Appeal

Oh my convoluted plans and schemes. Hubby really suffered for this one. 

So...way back at the end of May I decided that I had had enough with the ugliness of the front of our house. The house has been neglected in favor of barn projects, but we hit a snag at finishing the latest barn renovation when items were significantly back ordered and my wandering eye lit upon the disaster that was the front yard. 

Embarrassing. I don't even have a picture of the tree stand blocking the far right side because I hated it that much. 

When we purchased the home, there was a massive stand of trees hiding the entire right hand side of the house which also happened to be a newer and very pretty addition. Why the previous owners didn't cut these down to open it up, I will never know. The trees were creeping close enough to nearly touch the house and we had them removed last fall. We had no vision for this area and left it go to waste while we returned to the barn projects. 

I hit upon an idea middle of May and we began to gather the supplies for the project. All was looking good until the gravel was delayed due to the dump truck to deliver it being broken down. Not wanting to give up on the idea of a nice front yard, I turned my attention to the left side of the house which housed lots of weeds, some trees and an overgrown and poorly put in cement tile patio. This part was so awful that we never used the front porch as all you could see were weeds and it wasn't an enjoyable experience. 

Right before my COVID closure, we ordered three pallets of flagstone weighing in at a total of 12,000 pounds of stone and Dusty got busy doing the no fun part of ripping everything out and leveling the area. Due to the trees, there were so many roots to break up and rip out as well. I did absolutely nothing during this phase of prep work except watch and make comments.

Don't feel too bad for him - he loves any excuse to be on the tractor. We used all those stones you see piled up, plus needed to go purchase a third pallet as well. 

During this phase the thought of painting the house sunk in and took a firm hold. We were convinced it would be too expensive to have it painted, but there was no harm in having an estimate. Well, it came in waaaay under what we thought so we added that to the task list.

Everyone thought I was insane for choosing such a vibrant blue. It turned out amazing especially having them paint the trim and pergola white.

Once they were done transforming the exterior into something that gives me goosebumps every time I see it, we got started laying the flagstone. Dusty and I worked on it together for 4 straight days before he returned to work from his period of isolation and then I continued it myself while I was home. I lasted from about 8 am - 12 pm before the heat got to me and I had to stop, but eventually I got all the stone laid, leveled and stabilized. 

The stone work took forever. Each stone needed carefully selected like a jig saw puzzle then laid down and the dirt underneath taken away or added to until the rock was perfectly level. After the rock itself was leveled I used a larger level to make sure it was level to all the surrounding rocks. These rocks were heavy and it got really tiring really quickly.

Two weekends ago it was finally dry for two straight days so we were able to pour the polymer sand, sweep it into the cracks and water it down. This stuff is super cool and really easy to work with.

The sand in place and dried

After that was done, I got the hankering to get some porch furniture so we could sit and enjoy the porch. I knew I wanted a swinging egg chair and then a set of two chairs with a small table so that all 3 of us could sit out there together. This was the part I thought would be both easy and fun, but it was neither. Apparently summer is now over and we are into fall, because nobody had any selection remaining. We went to so many stores and kept leaving empty handed. I hate shopping as it is, add the stress of COVID shopping and then not finding what I wanted and just ugh.

Eventually we landed at TJ Maxx and scored it all from there. 

Close up f the furniture that took an entire day and half a dozen stores to find. Also, bonus Wyatt sighting. He has claimed the egg chair and I don't blame him - that hair is comfy.

This past weekend it was on to the finishing touches to really bring the space together. 

We found these nice Jack Daniels half barrels and Wyatt chose the flowers to put in them. 

This is a view I never tire of

I had left a small space for a garden off the steps and we filled that in this past weekend as well. The taller flowers were given to me by my mom and I am hoping they come back to life. 

I already can't wait until these take and fill in this spot with honey bee and butterfly approved flowers. 

Eventually we will add Adirondack chairs, small tables and a central fire pit to the flagstone patio as a lovely spot to roast marshmallows and enjoy the cooler evenings once fall sets in, but I am in no rush to do that with the summer heat and humidity in full swing.

The side from the porch to the left end of the house is now completed!!! It looks a million times better than when we started and I couldn't be happier with it. 

Next it is back to the other half of the frontage to get that space finished. We have all the supplies for it, we just need to find the motivation and energy now that I am back to work and our temperatures are in the upper 90s and low 100s. 

Monday, July 13, 2020

Rehab Stage 4 Week 1

Bored of rehab posts? So am I. The good news is that I’m back at work today after over a month away from the office. I finally got my negative results last Thursday. It’s going to be a rough road to clean up and catch up from the loss but hopefully things will smooth out for the rest of the year. I'm at a pretty substantial deficit business finance wise for the year. Thankfully when I started I had some awesome advice to ave 6 months of bills up in case of these types of things and I remained very frugal until I did just that. While this year has been trying, I'm still solvent for now.

Last week we upped the ride to include three 3 minute trot sets with 5 minute walk breaks between and remaining at 30 total minutes of riding. The added trot work did make the time go by faster which is nice. I’m tired of walking and so is Eeyore. 

Trying to snack during rehab walking. 

The entire week I focused on remaining in front of my leg and moving forward at all times. He has been in his dressage bit for a while now and it honestly just pisses me off when he is in it so I had a come to Jesus ride on him mid week. 

The rule was simple: you may not under any circumstances lay on my hands. Nope. No sir. Never. I have zero interest in carrying your big fat head. That’s your job and you must do it. 

I played around a lot on how to accomplish this. At first I ignored his head, remained sitting tall and booted his ass forward. He didn’t stop though and soon my back was screaming at me as I fought a constant 1500 pound pull forward. Guess it was a good core work out though.  I moved to a different plan. Trainer AB had me lift my hands and jiggle the bit to get him to lift his head in the past. It works, but not for very long. 

Eeyore was gifted a large fan for the summer. I LOVE it. One of the best purchases ever. Not only is he no longer sweaty standing in his stall, but after a ride I can put him in front of it for him to cool out without needing a bath every time. 

When ignoring his head failed, I reverted to doing what Trainer AB said before and kept at it. At first it was like every 2 freaking strides but eventually he started holding his head up on his own longer though never long enough for my liking. 

When the final trot set arrived I worked on my two point and ho boy did that piss someone with a rotund orange butt off. Sheesh. While up in two point he had no possible way to lean against me without tripping over his chin. Hehehehe. Served him right. It really didn’t take long before he gave up and held his head up himself. 

New boots. So far I am really like them and they have yet to rotate like the Woof boots tended to do.

The very next day I came out again and immediately began the first trot set in two point to reinstall the idea that he has to hold his own head up cuz I’m not there to do it for him. Pissy laid back ears and some major tail flipping later and when we trotted the second set with me posting homeboy held his own darn head up just fine and has remained significantly improved since then. 

Like I tell Wyatt all the time: why must you make life harder than it needs to be?

Monday, July 6, 2020

Rehab Stage 3

All week I waited for my latest throat swab results to come in. My plan was to hear on Thursday as usual and then have my life semi back for the weekend. The results were delayed due to an increase in testing and then Friday....the damn center closed for the holiday so no go on getting results. I was extremely frustrated to say the least. My own office was already planned to be closed Monday for the holiday so that both ladies could get a holiday day (the one doesn't work Fridays so I wanted to be fair) but this makes life tricky. As long as I get the negative result I need on Monday, I'm fine. If it is still positive then canceling patients already scheduled for Tuesday gets tricky with a closed office. Ugh, ugh, ugh. Plus it means yet another weekend stuck at home. Why on earth we don't have POC testing, I don't know. 

I figured out my editing issue! I also set up my Cambox to get some media and then promptly remembered why i never use it as I fought the urge to throw it out the window. But...I did get some slanted and poorly lit pictures. Here I am practicing the two point without reins at the walk to break up the tedium.

On the Eeyore front last week was week 3 of our rehab program: three 2 minute trot sets with 5 minute walk breaks and a total of 30 minutes ride time. 

I spent the first part of the week working on the 20 m circle. With the added trot set I could focus an entire 2 minutes per direction and then spend the last one at large. The shortened warm up meant that I had to come into the ride more focused and get to work sooner as I only had 7 minutes before the first trot set and I wanted to get the most out of it. 

I was so proud of the circle I made in the sand. It was actually circular!  The camera was sitting on the fence and was slanted - my arena is level.

Eeyore continues to remain sound and pluggish. It didn't help that I rode most days around 2 pm when it was blazing hot out, but I had an outdoor project I was working on that was very physical and I wanted to work on that in the cooler morning temperatures. Still, I wasn't super happy with the extremely slow and, more importantly, behind my leg ride Eeyore was giving me. 

So yeah part was due to the heat, another part was probably due to him being super bored with circle work, but a bigger part was that I was allowing it. Since the beginning of our rehab time I had fallen into the abyss of "toodling" when we walked and this spiraled quickly down to a barely moving shuffle and a louder than I've ever needed before aid to trot. Picture pony club kicking. The horse that I've fought for years to slow down. 

We are getting some really nice moments along the circle where we have bend, connection and are on a circle. Don't ask me why I am crossing my left hand over his mane. I have no good answer. 

Which like sure we don't need to be setting walking speed records, but the walk still needs a purpose and it still needs to be in front of my leg. The latter part of the week I decided to forgo the circle and work on reinstalling forward and a snappy response to a light aid. 

I rode earlier in the day on Friday to take the heat out of the equation though it was already near 90 at 9:30 am when I climbed aboard. My only goal was to get him moving and keep him in front of my leg the entire time. I also insisted on a quick response to my aid and once the trot set was done he couldn't just plop onto the forehand, put his nose on the ground and shuffle along like his namesake. 

It took a bit, but he got the memo. A lot of other cool things are happening too. Not only has all this trot with no cantering in sight resolved his penchant for zooming off at the least touch of his side (or pretend aide as I like to call it) it is also driving home the point that he needs to remain focused on me no matter what.

For instance, the three other horses were moved to the pasture by the arena Friday. They all left the morning nap spot to come watch us ride and Eeyore tried his best to stare at them the entire time. Instead of letting him like I used to, I used every instance of loss of attention to make him turn, or speed up the walk, or do something. Anything that said "hey, I'm still here and more important".

I'm really interested to see how this all plays out once we can canter again, but I still have a few weeks to get there. 

This week start another move forward and a hopeful return to work which will shift riding to the evenings when he typically gets turned out in Fat Camp with Gem. I'm interested to see how this plays out under saddle. Will he be more "up"? More distracted? Pissier? I think he has enjoyed the break from his stall to get out and stretch his legs in the middle of the day but once I ma back at work that obviously can't happen. We will find out!