From Endurance to Dressage
I turned Speedy loose to graze in the yard after a quick bareback ride around the property this weekend. I sat down to take off my boots and check my phone. I looked up to see him nose open the door as strolled in to find Izzy's lunch. He bypassed his own bucket for the much fuller one that was Izzy's
I get absolutely zero privacy at the barn. That horse thinks he rules the roost, and he's not wrong. Once my boots were wiped clean and stored, I threw on my muck boots and backed Speedy out gently. I picked up his bucket, leaving Izzy's for after. I headed to Speedy's paddock while he followed behind at a mostly respectable distance. I love how confident he has become, but I wish he liked being outside just a bit more.
I hope this come-into-the-building trick becomes useful someday. Maybe during the next "hurricane."
Now that our new grooming and tacking up station is up and running, I've discovered that a few tweaks were needed. The first was to create crossties which don't work quite right because there is a hitching rail chest high, but it works well enough. I could just tie to the hitching rail, of course, but I try to never "hard tie" a horse. I prefer to use the Blocker Tie Ring, but they don't work quite as well when hung at chest level.
When we designed the grooming station, our plan was to attach eyebolts to each post from which we could hang my Blocker Tie Rings and hay net. In practice, both of my horses quickly realized they could step to the side and eventually walk around the post to the other side. Just why, horses, why? My initial plan was to simply wrap the halter lead rope around the center post, but Izzy quickly realized that with a gentle pull, he could free himself from that restraint and still walk around the pole to stand wherever he wanted. Again, why, horse, why?
When I realized that wasn't going to work for Izzy, I decided to create a second crosstie by suspending a Blocker Tie Ring from the roof support. I hung the Blocker Tie Ring with a thin rope, actually more of a thick string. It will wear out, and it will eventually give way, but that doesn't worry me as I'll simply string up a new length of "rope" when it does. I used to hang my Blocker Tie Ring with baling twine which would give way at least once a year as it broke down from being repeatedly rubbed against the trailer. When accidentally "freed," both of my horses happily trot over to the grass. There is nowhere for them to go and no chance of running into traffic.
The other thing that I don't like about our new grooming area is where my bridle/halter rack is hanging. The hooks themself don't worry me as they swivel. The whole thing is easily removed as it is just hanging there, so I don't worry about a horse getting hung up on it. What I don't like is that once I hang my halter or bridle from it, it would be very easy for a horse to step forward and then get tangled in the bridle or halter. I had to find a solution for that.
None of us wanted to mount metal bridle hooks as they would be much too easy to get hung up on, so I ordered a set of four Flex Bridle Tack Hook Hangers. We only need to hang halters and bridles on them, so I am sure they'll work just fine. We'll get them hung this weekend.
Starting from scratch has been a great reminder of how easily horses can hurt themselves. Every horse is different - some never get hurt, and others choke on their padded stalls. There is no fool proof way to keep your horse safe when trailering, grooming, tacking up, etc., but if you know your horse and what he's likely to mess with, you can remove a lot of horse eating dangers. Unless you have a horse like Izzy, then all I can say is good luck.
Yes, Izzy. I am talking about YOU!
Things are getting fancy at the ranch. Remember that old trailer I used to tie to? Well, it's been hauled away, and in its place is a brand new grooming/tacking hitching rail.
The whole project took two weekends. Before we broke any ground, the ranch owner and I came up with a design. I sketched it out on a little piece of paper, and then she drew the schematics on the computer for the welder. Of course, once the project was underway, we made quite a few adjustments, but it was helpful to have an initial plan.
The first task was to haul off the old trailer which we did. Next, we removed all of the wood chips that we use to control the dust and mud which revealed the bare ground.
With our plan in hand, we positioned large stones in the corners to mark out the structure we wanted to build. With the tie rack "laid out," it quickly became obvious that we hadn't fully accounted for Izzy's longer body. We quickly added four feet to the overall length. Once we had our dimensions settled, Reggie dug the holes for the roof poles.
Once the holes were dug, the guys gathered the pipe from the ranch's stockpile of materials. The pipe was moved to the worksite and then cut to length. Four poles were cemented in place - three for the roof, and a forth to create a divider for the two "stalls."
The next task was to weld the actual tie rail although I'm using a modified crosstie.
Once the poles were cemented securely, the guys began construction of the roof's frame. Initially, we were going to have a simple hitching rail with a divider so that two horses could be tacked up at the same time without getting into one another. The idea was then tossed out that we might as well add a roof which was a brilliant addition.
Since we wanted to leave it as open as possible, we created a "T" shape so that the horses aren't in a narrow stall. This means the roof is supported by only three poles - two in the front corners and one in the center of the rear. The poles for the roof form a square which is supported by a "Y" brace in the back.
Once the roof frame was complete, the guys attached a galvanized roof laid at a slight angle. The front, right hand side of the structure is two inches lower than the left and rear to allow drainage away from the barn and entrance of the hitching rail. The galvanized roofing pieces have channels that the guys positioned so they will drain to the designated corner.
The structure needed a bit more rigidity, so we had additional support braces welded in the front corners to stabilize the roof.
We spent a lot of time thinking about how we wanted to tie the horses and hang hay nets. In an effort to reduce the amount of things that the horses could get hooked on, we chose to add two eye bolts on each of the outside poles. We laughed at how serious that conversation was because the old trailer had no end of horse-grabbing pieces that the horses lived with for years. Since we had the option of doing it better, we went with the least amount of protrusions as possible. I've clipped my Blocker Tie Ring to the eye bolt and attached a lead rope which will serve as a type of cross tie.
The last step was to fill in the low spots with sand and cover it up with wood chips to reduce the dust. Izzy likes to paw, but with the wood chips he doesn't get much satisfaction, and there's no dust cloud. Before we did that though, we gave the hitching rail a dry run. As I knew he would, Izzy immediately pawed and dug himself a little hole. The blue lead rope (attached to the pole) will serve as a cross tie, and I won't take it down. To keep him centered in the space, I'll loop his regular lead rope around the center pole which will keep him from wandering around to the outside.
Earlier this week, Reggie leveled the ground and then topped it all off with a load of wood chips. When I was out last night to bandage Izzy's foot, I was a bit disappointed at where the shade fell, but I was out much later than usual. I usually get there just after three o'clock, so once I am on my regular schedule, the shade will be appreciated.
I wanted to share the welder's contact info, but I forgot to get it. I'll add it in the next day or two as he did a really good job. If you're local and need some welding done, give him a call.
Aren't new "toys" the best? Barns, arenas, and tack rooms make a horse girl's heart sing.
Over the past week or so, I've managed to do several trail rides around the neighborhood. For the first ride, I saddled Izzy and rode with DG, the other boarder at the ranch. She rides a very nice mare that both of my boys are absolutely in love with. We followed the path out through the neighbor's cherry orchard and then made our way across the old golf course and back home. Once we arrived at the river, we spotted some beautiful sunflowers that I hadn't seen before.
It was such a lovely spot that I couldn't help but stop and take a bunch of pictures.
Yesterday, the ranch owner and I did a short ride around the property. This time I was on Speedy so when we came to the sunflowers, I hopped off and took even more photos.
Before we rode around the property though, we did a bit of work in the arena. Speedy is still giving me some sas, but he's slowly remembering that he's a schoolmaster and schoolmasters are, by definition, well behaved. By the time we hit the "trail," Speedy was a perfect gentleman.
Taking some time to stop and smell the ... sunflowers is time well spent.
One is a permanent goodbye, and the other is just for a few days ...
First, we're headed to the coast for a long weekend to celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary. On the one hand, it's hard to believe that we've been married for nearly three decades. Where does the time go? On the other hand, I feel like I've known my husband my entire life, and it's not that far from the truth. We met when I was just nineteen, and he was twenty-one. Most summers we take some big trip that I always feel is how we celebrate our anniversary, but my husband likes to take me somewhere on our actual anniversary when he can. So, I'll see you some time next week.
The other goodbye is a permanent one, and I am hoping that by the time we get back next week, our little tacking up trailer will be history! It hasn't been used as a horse trailer for a very long time, but we have found someone who has a use for it. As for us, the ranch owner is having a covered hitching rail installed in the trailer's space. We've met with the welder and drawn up plans, and he's supposed to start tomorrow! We're not sure how long it's going to take, but I am hopeful it is done within the week.
I'll let you know how it's coming along next week. Enjoy your weekend!
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
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: