From Endurance to Dressage
Along with fixing what I break, I find that it's important to keep things tidy. Since it was only marginally hot this week, I decided to give the horse-mobile its annual once over. It's a job I love to hate, but I force myself to do it every summer.
If you've been following my blog for any length of time, you've seen tons of pictures of my horse trailer. I have a gooseneck, three-horse slant load that sports a rear tack and living quarters. It's a nice trailer, and I love it, but it is a bear to clean. I always start by emptying the tack compartment and sweeping out old manure and shavings.
Once the tack compartment is empty and the space is free of loose bits, I tackle the poop wall. Even though I have three stalls, I rarely use the front one. Instead, I've removed the rear divider which creates a double stall in the center of the trailer. If I do haul both horses at the same time, Speedy goes in the front stall. The horses like the jumbo stall, but it means that they both poop smack dab in the center of the trailer.
Scrubbing that wall is just gross. I use a high pressure hose nozzle, but it only helps to loosen the caked-on poop. The only way to really get it clean is to roll up my sleeves and dive in with a scrub brush.
Once the walls and the top of the mats are clean, I scrub the floor. That's the hardest part of the job. The mats are heavy and very unwieldy. I drag them outside onto pallets, scrub the undersides, and let them dry in the sun. As they dry, I tackle the aluminum floor, scrubbing away the gunk that seeps under the mats while also checking for any corrosion or floor damage.
Before I put everything back, I took a scrub brush and worked on the outside of the trailer too. Since I don't tie the horses to the trailer very often, it wasn't that dirty. I mostly just scrubbed away some road grime and plenty of dust.
It was only about 11:30 a.m. when I finished, so I decided to go for broke. I grabbed my purse from my car and drove the truck and trailer home so that I could clean out the camper area too.
I took all of the bedding into the house and washed the dust out of the comforter, shams, and sheets.
While the bedding washed and dried, I cleaned my "kitchen" and used Pledge on all of the cabinetry and trim.
I also washed the towels and cleaned the bathroom. After sweeping up all of the hay and pebbles off the floor, I also vacuumed and mopped. I am not sure why I bother with the mop, but it always smells nice the first time I use it.
My bestie and I are going to Simi Valley on Saturday afternoon for a lesson with my trainer, and then we're staying the night so that Izzy and I can do a schooling show the next morning. I hope they both appreciate the clean digs!
I guess it's good that Izzy is as easily entertained as he is distracted. There is a lot happening on the riding front these days, most of it good, but sometimes it's nice to just stick your head in a bag and ignore the rest of the world.
A few weeks ago, SprinklerBandits [oops! I was just informed that it was actually Confessions of a Dressage Barbie who asked the question. Sorry about that, Leah!] asked how we answer when people ask if they can ride our horses. By "we," I mean readers of her blog. For the most part, I tend to always have at least one horse that is relatively safe for a beginner. Right now, that is Speedy G, but he wasn't always the bundle of joy that he is today.
I bought Speedy G as a three year old and pretty much wanted to sell him until he was about eight. I often hated riding him, and there was no way I'd force him on anyone else. Back then, Montoya was the "safe" one.
Over the years, Speedy has figured it out. And while he is still more than capable of pulling some wild and crazy moves, at 12 years old, he's become mostly reliable.
A week or so ago, I received an email from a young woman in town who was looking to get back into horses. She had had several years of lessons as a kid, but as she entered high school, other things took over, including college. Now that she is settled in her career, she's looking for a trainer who has lesson horses.
After exchanging a few emails, I invited her over to meet my boys and maybe do a grooming session. I am sure she was completely unprepared, but when I offered to let her hop up on Speedy, she responded with a hearty yes!
I talked to JL, the trainer down the street, and after talking to another neighbor, a lesson horse was procured. I invited my new friend out to meet JL and go for a second ride, this time around the neighborhood. Along the way, we stopped to see the lesson horse and meet his owner.
Speedy was an absolute saint the entire time. I borrowed the western saddle, and even though he'd never worn it before, he plodded along like a well broke cow pony.
The whole time we rode, I carried a secret little grin inside. I did that; I made Speedy into a well-schooled packer who willingly toted around a new rider without giving her any reason to be concerned. Watching Speedy, knowing what a jerk he was for so long, gave me hope. If I just stick it out long enough, Izzy will get there too.
And what of Izzy? This was the first time my two horses had been ridden together, so I wasn't sure how Izzy would behave. I needn't have worried. He hung back a few times, worrying about this or that, but overall, he was so good that I rode most of the way on the buckle.
I love that saying about only looking back to see how far you've come. These past few days did that for me. Well schooled horses are so expensive because they take years to get that way. Izzy only has one year under his belt. No wonder he's still so sassy. Good thing we have plenty of time!
It finally happened. After more than 16 years of hauling a horse trailer, I finally dented one. And then I punched a hole and ripped it open. Go big or go home. Right?
It happened as we were pulling into the show grounds at last week's show. Because really, don't we all need just a little bit more stress on show day?
I have a bit of a reputation amongst my friends as being a pretty damn good driver. My best friend jokes that I can back that trailer up a gnat's ass. Apparently, I just can't go forward.
The directions for parking asked that we enter through the facility's second gate. I should have known better. I always go through the first gate, but I am a rule follower so even though it felt wrong, I pulled down to the second entrance. It was locked of course.
I was able to make a u-turn, but it meant that I was now coming at the main gate from the wrong direction. I had to swing really wide to make the turn, but in doing so, the outside of my trailer hit a gate pole that was less than 3 feet high. I just couldn't see it.
Laurel felt terrible because it was on her side. She was actually more stressed about it than I was. I just shrugged my shoulders and said oh well. There was no point in getting mad about it, and how was it her fault anyway? She wasn't the one driving. I laughed and told her we were just going to park so that we didn't have to look at it while we were at the show. And that's what we did!
Fortunately, Laurel knows people. And by people, I mean Mike Combs, manager of DeLaney Manufacturing. Mike and his staff make stuff. Everything they do is a custom order. When I asked him exactly what they manufacture, he told me they can make anything out of metal.
Mike gave me a spontaneous tour of the facility, explaining what some of the machines are used for.
These guys can make anything. They can work from a simple, hand-drawn sketch or from full blown technical blue prints designed by an engineer.
For my repair job, Mike's guy worked free form which means that he basically eye-balled it. Okay, I don't know that for sure, but I do know he cut away the torn up part, laid a new piece of aluminum over the top, welded it in place, and then shaped it so that the edges were smooth.
I didn't stay to watch the work, although I wish I had. When I got back, the welder was smoothing out the patch.
While the guys did a great job, it doesn't look like it came off the lot. That's okay because the trailer already has all kinds of little dinks and knocks. My horses have chewed off lots of pieces and kicked others. This is just one more boo-boo in a string of many.
There's a lot I don't know about welding. More accurately said, I know almost nothing about welding. I did learn that welding aluminum, or any other metal besides steel, takes more specialized equipment than your typical backyard welder has in his garage. That's why I went to DeLaney's - they have all the right equipment.
If you live locally and need something made from metal, or need something repaired, check these guys out. DeLaney's can be found just off Rosedale Highway and Fruitvale at 2920 Wear Street. You can call Mike Combs at 661-587-6681.
We are once again ready to hit the road. Thanks, Mike!
I posted a picture on Facebook the other day of my laundry pile. Not my laundry of course, but my horses' dirty clothes. Based on the comments and likes the photo received, it got me thinking about what a universal problem horse laundry can be.
In the last year, we upgraded our old, top load washer for a much larger front load machine. Horse laundry has gotten much easier. In the top load machine, I could wash two pads at a time and maybe a girth and a pair of gloves. With our larger front load, I split the 5 dressage pads, half pad, 2 girths, and 3 pairs of DSB boots into two piles and washed it all with ease.
Since it is either HOT here in California, or only moderately cold, I always hang everything to dry, no dryer needed. But what do you cold climate folks do? It's hard to line dry when the temperatures are freezing (literally!).
So, do you lug it all to the laundromat, do it at home like me, or are you one of those lucky souls with a washing machine at the barn?
It's time to air our dirty laundry. Let me know how YOU do it!
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
*** SCEC 10/15-16/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%