Wednesday, August 31, 2022

wednesday animations

Oof, summer hit us like a ton of bricks, not gonna lie. Everything was going so well and so smooth right up until Charlie's tangle(s) with high tensile wire fencing, womp. 

"where have you been???" -- Mikey
It worked out tho bc damn, while overall the year has been remarkably mild... August was decidedly less so. And true to the norms in this part of the world, rain has been increasingly scarce while big biting flies descended with a vengeance. 

Let's just say --- it's been a tough month for horse feet. 

my beautiful silly horse, and a water tank
Charlie lost his first shoe in 2 years, which you already knew. But then promptly lost a second shoe (same friggin foot too, ugh) a week later. Right when we were finally getting back into doing things...  

"crisis averte-waitomgshit--f*ck nobody saw that, right?" 
It was actually during a ride, wherein I finally took Charlie into an actual proper arena and let him basically drag my ass around all the little cross rails and teeny jompies set up for camp kids. It was GLORIOUS, right up until I dismounted and saw that bare foot. UGH. 

obvi around these parts there will always be wound pics. looks pretty good at ~4wks tho, no?
Given that it was the same foot that had already lost that shoe, was a fairly recent trim, and he was barefoot for about 3ish days.... Eh, I figured I didn't really need to know the answer to "Will he be sore?" and just let him chill.**

(**Or, uh, NOT chill -- as you can clearly tell from those water tank gifs above that homeboy has juussssst a little too much energy at the moment!) 

ooooooooh more EXCITING pics tho omg! i showed up to the weekend vacay early for FEI dressage steward duty, doing my favorite thing: bossin' around the olympians at Great Meadow International!
It worked out anyway since I was out of town for the weekend for Great Meadow International! I haven't seen my longtime horse friend (who left Maryland a few years back) since before covid, so we decided to do a weekend getaway meetup at a cute Airbnb in Warrenton, VA and catch the 4* at GMI while we were at it. So Charlie could get a few extra days off haha. 

plus obvi sample the local flavors. 1,000% recommend this winery bc omg LAKE
I've gone to GMI almost religiously for the last couple years, but it's a helluva day drive so this whole Airbnb situation was actually straight up amazing. Plus we got to enjoy the cute little town and local sights and scenes -- including a very pleasing bottle of Pinot Gris at the Winery at Sunshine Ridge, complete with shady + breezy lakeside picnic tables. Yes. Please. 

let's find a way to get a lakeside winery right up in here too, yes?
Normally for a lot of our local big International FEI shows, I go alone so I can hustle all over creation taking footage for the video compilations I like making. That's..... kinda a tough thing to do with company unless said company is a very specific blend of my kind of crazy LOL. 

So I didn't do all that this time... and... It was honestly pretty nice haha, just sitting back and enjoying the show! 

silly sippy cup souvenirs!! sure they're from walgreens LOL but the memories are #4eva
The weather was a bit atrocious too, not gonna lie, and GMI, for all it's beauty, kinda just caters to the VIPs. There's literally no seating and no shade unless you cough up the $$ for a tailgating tent. It's cool, tho. We were prepared and made our own accommodations and had a swell ol' party out of it all. 

brought souvenirs home for charlie too omg
Finally, tho, it was time to return to reality. Which, gratefully in my world, includes getting back to our friend Charles! 

"what the fuck is wrong with you tho?" -- charlie, for sure
His leg is looking really good, finally. And despite all my paranoia, I'm actually thinking it might not scar that badly after all. Still to be seen tho...

More importantly -- omg we're really riding again! It's been honestly about a solid month off for the big guy, despite last week's false start before the second thrown shoe... But he feels really good. Like, REALLY. There's a little more 'bounce per ounce' in his trot than I'm used to, and he's a tad sassy -- but happy. 

okie dokie, back to your regularly scheduled programming --- RIDING OMG!!
We cantered out and around the xc fields the other day just to stretch him out, and I couldn't resist aiming him at a little coop -- which naturally he loved <3   More recently we went into the dressage court for a "real(ish)" ride, just to sorta see where he's at. And, believe it or not, it turns out, yerp, the horse is still trained lol. 

So I'm excited. Maybe the little summer recess was perfect -- a guilt-free excuse to sit out the heat and hard ground and biting flies?? Fall is my favorite anyway haha. And it's so nice to have a horse feeling fresh and rested and eager for adventure!! 

Fingers crossed we get that opportunity soon :) Anybody else losing shoes? Or enjoying a late-summer breather? Or maybe you have something exciting on the calendar? 

Thursday, August 18, 2022

DIY Rope Cross Ties

Gosh, it's been a long time since we've had a good ol' fashioned DIY post around these parts, eh? So! Let's dig into my latest inspired idea!!  

a finished tie in our al fresco wash stall with repurposed snap hooks, including one safety release clip
And for those of you who have never read a prior patented 'Fraidy Cat Eventing DIY post before, I want to make a few promises right off the bat:

- Did I use the best tools for the job? ...No
- The best materials? Probably not?
- Is this method cheaper than store bought? I don't actually think so... oops?
- Do the results look a bit homemade? Yep
- Will you actually be able to easily recreate this exact project with identical results? Yes, 100%

fittings at this farm are notoriously and relentlessly practical, as evidenced by the hay string ties lol
Anyway. Some backstory --- Charlie's farm is pretty old and definitely on the rustic side of things. It's part of the charm of the place, the character, the patois if you will. And to be perfectly honest, I've always been aggressively practical, too. If it works, it works, right?  

tools + supplies! 
Sometimes, tho, it's nice to have... nicer stuff. Little details that minimize the struggle. Like cross ties that are a useful length with easy clips, that maybe don't look like hot trash in pictures, eh? 

bandage scissors and cheapo tiny slip-joint pliers are.... not the ideal tools for the job. but guess what? they work! a bigger beefier set of pliers with longer handles (more leverage) is recommended
I have this vision of outfitting the whole barn with matching cross ties, rather than the hodge podge of braided baling twine, stolen lead ropes, and bits of chain that make up the current roster. For now, tho, I satisfied myself with just replacing 3 sets of ties with this method. If these 3 hold up reasonably well, we can talk about replacing the rest!

it's rope, y'all! home depot sells all sorts of fun colors in different dimensions. this is 1/2" thickness
It's a ridiculously easy method, too. At first I was thinking about buying nylon straps or webbing and trying to figure out how best to sew the seams.... But then the idea of rope occurred to me. Rope is easy, right? 

rope clamps are an absolute must for this method, the silver rings are a nice bonus touch
Home Depot sells all these nice little clamps designed specifically for this purpose, plus all the other odds and ends of hardware. 

don't be like me and buy cheapo dinky snaps. be like me and cannibalize beefier snaps from elsewhere around the farm! 
Which.... It turns out, the hardware is really where you spend your money here. I kinda cheaped out a little bit too, will not buy these same snaps again (ended up mostly reusing / recycling heavier duty clips from old cross ties or otherwise lying around the barn), and these clamps aren't as robust as you'd see on your typical lead rope. 

clamp + snap + rope = a cross tie! 
So ya know. If you're buying a $12 set of cross ties, what you're really buying is the hardware. And even then, you're probably getting a better value than I did here bc most manufacturers are probably getting their hardware wholesale. 

make sure you buy the right sized clamps for your dimension of rope
I didn't work it out exactly, but I think these ties ended up being about $13 per set. Which.... ain't exactly a bargain lol. But oh well -- they're cute! 

ain't much to it other than clamping! (and yes i'll probably go back later and burn down the rope ends)
Anyway. I don't have like a specific length or anything to recommend for making these yourself --- rather, I cut each and every single tie to length based on where it would be located. 

don't forget to provide frequent progress reports to the boss! 
My intent is to fix these to the wall using a small loop of baling twine as the breakaway, so if you use the same method -- you're better off cutting too short a length vs too long. You can always add more length to the baling twine, but it's kinda hard to take length away once the clamps are on (unless you want to start adding knots everywhere....). 

new vs old!
The ends that were intended for wall attachments got little silver loops. This isn't exactly necessary but I figured it'd reduce friction and wear on the baling twine (vs looping it directly around the rope itself), plus it looks nice. The other end obviously got a snap for clipping onto the horse's halter.

is the little extra silver loop necessary? no -- but it looks nice and finished! baling twine intended to be the weakest link to breakaway in the event of an accident
I did actually have exactly one breakaway safety snap (in the very first picture at the top of this post) and that went out into the wash stall where one side of the ties is kinda on the low side just by nature of the post height. 

it ain't much, but it's an honest day's 5min work
So the plan is to live with these ties for a little while, and see what we think of them. In some ways they do feel a little delicate -- like the 1/2" rope is definitely less than what I'd want in a lead rope. But I think I like the weight for the cross ties. 

The rope also has a little bit of give to it, which may help prevent a horse from feeling like they really "hit" the end of the tie. Or maybe they'll stretch out after a week of constant use, who knows! 

bc it's the little things, amirite?
I'm also curious to see how the hardware itself holds up. Will it rust? Did I clinch the clamps down tight enough? Is it heavy duty enough for horses or will it all come to pieces? Who knows! Anything is possible! 

One thing is for certain, tho:: it's way cuter than the hay string ties LOL. So, as far as I'm concerned, it's a win. 

Monday, August 15, 2022

end of an era

Alternate Title #1: Wrong side of the tracks

Alternate Title #2: Charlie is a hot mess, but we still love him!

morning glory!
For real tho, brace yo'self for yet another 24pic dump about not a whole heckuva lot going on lol...

intermission michael
Basically 4 random chapters to this story ----- none of which really make for a complete meal, so feel free to browse and snack as you like LOL...

1) Wound updates
2) Grooming updates
3) Farriery updates
4) Riding updates

spoiler alert: current status
Just to throw a bone, tho, let's start with the end: the latest shot of Charlie all cleaned up, plus a few new additional dings and dents. Homeboy lost his first shoe in more than 2yrs, womp. Managed to add a little slice to his RH coronet band in the melee whoops (hard to see in the pic but it's there).

i know y'all are tired of this view. i promise i am too!
Ok. Back onto chronological order: Wound updates! I got really paranoid on the 12th bc I smelled infection, but I actually think it was just the little skin flap from Episode #2 rotting off (thus that quarter-sized circular wound) and not anything brewing within the wounds themselves.

everyone goes through an ugly stage, ok? 
It got a little ugly for a day, but I kinda just let it sit. I'm the type of person who likes to pick at things... but I'm trying to limit my scrubs of this wound to only every few days.

this is the face of a horse who knows what that step ladder means
Meanwhile. Chapter 2: Grooming Updates. In Emma's world, lame horses can be ugly horses too, thank you very much. And thus we take this opportunity to lay waste to Charlie's beautiful mane yet again

my masterpiece 
Legit took about 5min doing the actual snippage..... then went back over the whole length of it again with thinning shears, focusing mostly on the ends to fade out the obvious blunt cut-ness. 

you're still beautiful tho, sir <3
The results kinda speak for themselves, ya know? Like, yep, somebody cut that mane with scissors. But in a couple weeks it'll be way less obvious -- and the mane will be a nice length. Good 'nuff for me!

intermission snake, found on the mean streets of Baltimore City, was literally the size of an earthworm! lifted it off the sidewalk with a dried maple leaf so that it might avoid getting stepped on and hopefully live a long snake life!
Oof ok, let's keep moving. Chapter 3 --- farriery updates!

just so happy to be sitting here again tho -- and i think he is too!
Charlie's hind shoes suffer the most bc he's so lazy behind, he's always resting them right up on top of each other, chipping off wall and bending the nail clinchers....

Sir! Ugh! (also peep that little coronet slice on his RH)
Plus he doesn't have pads on his hind shoes... so those feet always start showing the wear and tear of summer sooner than his fronts. And I knew they were looking kinda not great.... but hoped he'd make it to his appointment tomorrow. 

luckily didn't do much damage
Alas, twasn't to be.... AND the goon managed to lose a fly boot in whatever shenanigans took place too.... UGH!

charlie would have followed these two pretty mares to the ends of the earth LOL
We'll get back to that tho.... Bc at this point, I'm so bored and tired of Charlie's absurdity that even that bare back foot wasn't gonna keep me from sitting on him!! 

Thus: Chapter 4: Riding Updates!! Woot Woot!

we are lucky to have many pathways around the farm that aren't paved or gravel
Obviously Charlie's still pretty sore with all those healing wounds on his hock (esp since I figured out one of those big lines in the rats nest is actually from the second incident -- so only a couple days old instead of a couple weeks). 

doing his civic duty cleaning up arena grass
So we aren't working at all. Just walking. And only really bc he wants too -- this horse is actually kinda happy doing laps right now, which goes to show just how bored he is too!

loki pony practicing his bridleless! 
And mostly we've been having fun in the ring bc we've just been out riding with groups of friends. Charlie has ALWAYS loved hangin out in the middle of the ring while horses go about their work around him. He's a social creature, ya know? So we are enjoying it. 

He feels good too -- honestly if it weren't for the lost shoe I might have even tested some trot or canter. Soon!

most recent scrub, including of that summer sore on the far right (finger for scale)
So ya know. Things are what they are. So a quick flashback to Chapter 1 -- Wound Updates. Things looked good yesterday. Might be a couple more weeks for the newer wounds (considering that skin flap hole and the cut in the middle top are only a few days old) but I feel confident.

lord knows this wrap probably blew apart within 15min of being turned ou...
And quickly back to Chapter 3 -- Farriery Updates; I never really know what to do for Charlie's lost shoes. But generally prefer to let him keep to his normal turn out unless it's a front foot and he's really sore. 

magic cushion! 
I opted to throw a bandage on too, mostly for shits and giggles bc I'm a notoriously terrible wrapper. 

But, eh, I figure even if he only wears this for a couple hours, it's still a couple hours with the magic cushion. So whatever. He'll get shod tomorrow!

look at that lush pasture tho!
Ok. So I lied a little bit earlier --- there are actually 5 Chapters, with this bonus post script of "Scavenger Hunting!" wherein I hiked alllllll the way out to Charlie's big summer pasture in search of the various shoo fly boots that have been sacrificed in his recent "incidents." 

He doesn't lose boots very often, so I always assume they're lost in whatever drama accounted for his other dings and dents. Like the lost shoe. The neon pink shoo fly boot was easy to find -- and I was sure the actual shoe would be nearby, which it was! 

lol wrong side of the tracks, bootie! 
Ditto the other second boot he recently lost -- after his most recent fence encounter. The barn owner said he made it through the barrier fence between two pastures, so I figured I'd just have to walk the fence line to find it. Bingo -- there it was! 

So. All missing pieces are accounted for; the horse continues healing; and hey, at least I get to sit on him in the meantime! Could be worse, I suppose! Could be 30 more pictures LOL....

Hope you all had a good weekend too :)

Friday, August 12, 2022

woodland creatures

Happy Friday, everybody! We are finally getting a break from the heatwave, just in time for the weekend! And even better -- I don't have any major plans keeping me busy either. Yay!

barn cat-mouflage
Not that it makes much of a difference, since of course Charlie is still healing.... It's just gonna take the time it takes, ya know? But maybe we'll get out for some wanderings anyway? We'll see. 

lol be scared, Bess!
In the meantime, I'm getting excited looking into fall, and even winter! Situations being changeable, as always, a new and kinda major opportunity just opened up at our barn, with a very experienced and very credentialed resource suddenly becoming available. 

And said resource turns out to be really eager to share her knowledge and expertise with the rest of us mere mortals, specifically in the form of bi-weekly or monthly in-barn activities!!!!!

i know these are kinda dinky ribbons... but aren't they fun?
We organized the first activity for this past week, an in-house twilight fix-a-test dressage clinic (taking advantage of the dressage court set up from last week's recognized horse trials). 

Obviously I was disappointed to give up my entry after Charlie went through his second high tensile wire fence in as many weeks.... But a major silver lining was that my spot was taken by, omg, Amy and Punky!!! They've been rarer than hen's teeth here on ye olde blogge... and for reasons and stuff... But omg they did a thing and it was good!

ready to rock 'n roll at this fix-a-test clinic!
It was overall a super fun day, too. The forecast was slightly violent, but we managed to get through our schedule before the storms hit. My bootleg (shh don't tell anybody) dressage scoring sheets were easy to use, as was the quick scoring form I whipped up in google sheets. 

Plus we got everybody's cell phone set up right on the judge's table (see photo) to record their test from the judge's perspective, complete with comments and scores in real time. There were special ribbons for "High Score" and "Most Improved," and much fun was had by all!  

meanwhile, in charlieland.....
We'll hopefully get another couple of these types of activities on the schedule, but I'm also trying to brainstorm other formats for when it's dark out and we can't monopolize an entire lighted ring for one horse at a time. 

clearly living his best life, minus the tussles with tensile obvi
This judge also specializes in gymnastics and cavaletti type activities too, so maybe we'll do some sort of group night type thing? Anybody know of any way to game-ify grids or ground pole exercises? A way to sorta get scores and ribbons and stuff, while also focusing on educational outcomes? Hit me up, lol.

SIR! these choices that you are making!! stahhp! 
Charlie, for his part, seems to be feeling better and better. While the leg blew up enormously for a day or two after his most recent incident, it's actually looking quite good. We're still using the schmoo daily, tho it doesn't seem to have as much long-term stick as Swat. I'll compare notes after a few more days.

at least he can't be feeling too too sore!

The horse is happy, tho, and that's what matters haha. He's such a goon -- this particular pasture from the photos is definitely his favorite bc he likes to get allll the way into the stream to find the deepest pools to drink from -- which naturally necessitates scampering and skittering across all those gigantic boulders etc. Not exactly something you'd think he'd be any good at. 

literally a different picture from a different day, sent to me by a barn mate. this goofy horse, i swear
But he seems to love it haha, leaping around like a friggin 1,400lb mountain goat LOL.... 

And I know, I know... letting horses loose into streams is ecologically devastating... Just remember, tho, this ain't my stream, and it's various branches have had decades of loose horses wandering through it on this farm. So we can enjoy Charlie's little slice of cuteness, yes? Yes :)

Anyway. Hope y'all are leaping into the weekend with as much enthusiasm as Charlie!