Thursday, July 27, 2023

Barn Concrete Work is Done

Hi everyone! It's time for a barn update. Yahoo! We're making progress! One more blessing to add to the many blessings I'm thankful for during a trying time. Beautiful summer weather. Tumbleweed fully healed up. A beautiful barn. 

We decided to pour a patio, since they were already there and it was easy, and cost-effective, to do. I've always had a sitting area here, but before this I used bark to form the patio'ish outline. We have the large, wooden supports we used for our son's wedding, and we're going to place them on the outside corners of the patio and run outside lights over it. 

(below) The breezeway, looking North. You may have noticed the cuts in the concrete. Those are made to prevent unsightly cracks that can happen when concrete settles and shifts. We had to do it in the large areas, but they gave us the choice on the patio, and we chose to cut it. I don't think it diminishes from the beauty.

(below) Looking in at the tack room. The tack room pattern is square and the rest is herringbone. When the walls go up, you won't see the tack room from here. The tack room is going to hold minimal tack. It's really going to be more of a sitting room. A place to sit and enjoy the horses throughout the year. It will have the halters and lead ropes and all the day to day grooming and First Aid.

Another view of the patio and 4' skirt in front of the barn. Originally, it was going to be a 4' skirt to the door of the barn, but we made the change to go 12'x12' at the last minute. We will need to buy a new barn door, but haven't found one we like yet. We'll also need a new door from the tack room to the breezeway.

Another view of the tack room and breezeway.

You can see the work they did to level the stalls. They're ready for the mats, (once the sealer dries). The stall fronts are being installed in one week.

breezeway looking North.

I think they did a beautiful job. It was certainly a lot of work for the crew. They were here for almost two weeks, sometimes working very late. The work was done by Humble Construction in Spokane. 

I'll continue to give you updates as this progresses! So exciting!

Hope you're all safe and well and being blessed, blessed, blessed with a wonderful summer!

Monday, July 3, 2023

An Injury

I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that I went out to get Tweed to go to the park, and I found him cut up, but not lame.  I didn't waste any time looking for how it happened. I just called my vet, loaded him, and went straight in. I was very lucky it happened today, because they are closed July 4th and 5th. They got me right in, even though their clinic is completely full and every stall was taken.

The good news is that all of his cuts were superficial, and they were able to clean them up, wrap his legs, and administer Bute. He will be on antibiotics for awhile, too.  

When we got home, my husband drove along the pasture to see if there was any fence down, and sure enough, our neighbors had clipped their fence line, probably mowing yesterday, and sent a strand of barbed wire into our field. We put up a wire/mesh fence along that line to keep the horses away from their barbed wire, but the broken strand found its way over. That's the hazard of being surrounded by cow pastures, but we've lived here 16 years and that has never happened.  

They want me to wrap the one on the right one more time, and the one on the left two more times. They prefer he has stall rest for a week, but he's already going nuts, running, bucking, and kicking out in anger because he sees the other horses in the pasture. Foxy is in a stall next to him, and that is settling him down a little. He was so mellow at the vet clinic, they probably thought, stall rest, easy peasy. pfft. 

I had really been looking forward to getting out on the trail today to work on the principles from my last lesson. Shirley mentioned Warwick Schiller's video about the "50 Foot Trail Ride," and I joined his site to watch the entire video and go through his other courses. They are very well organized and extremely interesting. 

There will be no 50 Foot Trail rides for us this week, but I'm so happy it wasn't worse.

Saturday, July 1, 2023

A Huge Breakthrough (Part 2)

(Tumbleweed showing off his 5 star pad. This pad has gone up $70 in the year since I purchased it. I'm thinking about getting another in black or natural.)

One observation my trainer had is that Tumbleweed was giving me 60% effort. She understood why I wasn't comfortable with that amount of togetherness, and how it could be unsafe. She wants me to aim for 100%. That doesn't mean they aren't also aware of their surroundings, but it does mean they're putting themselves 100% into the work at hand. When they're engaged at that level, they become more relaxed and confident--it's that magic I saw in part 1.

When I mounted up, Regina again asked me to do what I normally do, which, for me, was bending him around both ways, hands to my pockets, asking him to stand in place. (She noticed an issue with this that she pointed out later.) 

For the first exercise, in saddle, she asked me to get him to walk, but not to direct him. Lots of energy with my legs and seat to keep him moving forward. The rein was to be loose so that he could go anywhere he wanted, and I was to only pick it up if he tried to do something dangerous.

The point of the exercise was for him to take responsibility for himself and his decisions, like he would on a trail, instead of being micro-managed and him not stepping up and under himself.  This was a lot like the work I had already been doing, but even more responsibility was put on Tweed to grow up and learn to walk, instead of being dragged and / or bracing against pressure.

He did a lot of meandering in the round pen, and walking straight into the panels, at which point she told me to kick, kick, kick and not let him stop. After a lot of that, he started staying along the circle for longer, and he was moving with more relaxation, balance, and energy. 

Regina then introduced a little exercise to get vertical flexion. ( I remember doing this same thing with Leah during lessons.) She had me hold the reins to the point of contact and keep his nose in line with his tail. She says that he has a habit of walking with his head too low, which throws off his balance and allows him to root at the bit. She warned me that while I held the contact, he might back up (he did), but I was to hold the light pressure steady until he found the sweet spot and came off the pressure, then balanced his body underneath himself. When he came off the bit and into the sweet spot, I was to give him a big release.

We did that twice, and Tweed was extremely relaxed after he found that spot. He enjoyed resting while we sat and chatted about what was happening. (In the past, he would get antsy when I sat and chatted while still on his back.)

So, it was time to introduce the turn. This is where Regina’s earlier observation came up. She noticed that I sat forward to shorten my reins for a turn, and then supported him too long, and pulled the reins too far sideways. She wanted me to stay seated on my pockets while reaching forward for the same amount of contact we had for the vertical flexion exercise, pick the rein straight up (not out) and toward my armpits (rather than pockets), get the turn, and release it fast. We did this with the same 'walk wherever you want’ exercise, but we added turns to the left and right until Tweed was balancing himself and taking responsibility for the turns (rather than falling in or bracing against them). Lovely!

After that, we did the same work at the trot until Tweed was moving out with a beautiful energy and responsiveness to the turn. The ask for the turn became lighter and lighter. The release came faster and faster.

We were having fun!

I don't know if I've mentioned it, but Tweed's trot has become much more comfortable to sit or post. His body has really matured this year.

Our next lesson won’t be until late July, but this gives me a lot to work on in the meantime. She told me to do this same stuff on the trail.

I asked, What if his head comes up high on the trail and I can’t get him to do this work? (this has happened.)

She said, Then you let it get too far. Something happens before the head comes up and braces, and that’s when you start to do the work, in a safe, open spot. 

It’s going to be interesting to put this to practice, but I’m excited to figure it all out and make a trail partnership. My friends are antsy to get us out on some training rides, but I want to have the basics going strong before I accept the invitations. I should have a few days this week to do our homework.

I've been thinking ahead to winter, and I do not want to let him sit like I did last year, then have to start again. I'm going to talk to Regina about coming to the indoor next to us. She used to train out of one barn, and never travel, but she has changed that now.

A few more photos from around our place:

Notice the dead tree? We keep it there because robins built nests in it and the babies are still young.

They nest in this tree every year, but this year it died, and I need to replace it when they fly away.

The clouds one day. They reminded me of a Mark Maggiori painting.

My daughter and daughter-in-law went with me to this year's FARM CHICKS. It's one of the country's largest vintage fairs. I found a few items for my new tack room project.

This old loveseat. It's cozy.

An solid vintage table that I can use for my coffee bar.

And another table I thought I could cut down and use for a coffee style table, but now I'm thinking I'd rather have it for all the outdoor family parties we host here.

And here they are after we brought them back to store them.

A 'new to us' local winery, called Winescapes. They make delicious, full-bodied reds, like this one. We had a glass at sunset on Thursday.

And lastly, the style of stall fronts we ordered for the barn. The ones I originally shared were from another state, and shipping them here made them cost prohibitive, so we found a local builder. I was able to customize these with black powder coating, and we'll stain the wood more of a mahogany, rather than natural. We also ordered custom feeders from the same people. Getting close now. They say mid-July.