Mostly WW: A Blurry Screenshot!

Haven't had time to go through this video yet, but just to punctuate what I talked about in my last post, here's a screenshot from last night's ride (my first lesson with my regular trainer in...a long time):

Amazing what a difference not giving up on the inside hind and remembering to keep your reins short enough makes.




Three straight weeks of work travel is over!  And I'm back where I belong.

On this fellow!

After spending last Saturday watching JenJ kill it on Taran at USDF Finals (You better blog about that!!!!!!!!), I came home motivated to get back in the saddle and work on some concepts JenJ and I discussed, as well as continue working on the concepts from my last Nancy lesson.

Tired, shaggy, sweaty, but also foamy!

He's really getting the message about bend and engaging the inside hind on the right rein, but I've noticed on the left he pushes out through his outside shoulder when I ask him to move the left hind underneath him.  Like, he's bent, overbent, with his shoulder leading and traveling to the outside, but his hind leg doesn't move at all.  It's like his hindquarters are stuck.

"...I wouldn't do that!"
It's not like me to insist on something like that normally, I'm not confident enough in what I feel to pick a battle like that, but I was pretty sure I was right about that one.  I trotted him left on a circle, with him very worried and not getting the message, asking asking asking, until he finally gave me the right answer.

I hesitate to call it a breakthrough, but it was good for us: I learned to be firm with him, he learned what I was asking for, he learned things can get a little scary (for him) and things will turn out okay, he learned to respect me. 

Blanket mane

Sometimes you just have to have a discussion, and that was a particularly productive one.  Our next ride after that (last night) proved he slept on it and really retained it, even if it took a bit of reminding in the beginning.  And he's got some anxiety when I use my left leg.  Gotta get over that sometime though, as Nancy said, he needs a bit of healthy respect for my aids.

It's good to be back.


Lesson Wrap Up: Accountability, Self-Carriage and Leg

I had a lesson with NK a couple of weeks ago that I'm still struggling with.  It's a good struggle, because things are going to get hard and messy before we progress, but it's a struggle.

It turns out she's been going soft on me all these months, not wanting to interfere with my show season.  Really, I wish she had.  She's been holding out on me!  "I'm getting on him today," she said, matter-of-factly, as she came in while I was finishing my warmup.

All photos in this post by Paul Wood Photography from IDS Championships

She identified two major things:
1. He felt so heavy to her and was not in self-carriage/does not have the muscles to hold his shoulders up.  

That surprised me at first, and then as I thought about it, didn't surprise me at all.  He's SO much lighter now than he used to be, so it feels fine to me.  But I think I'm still micromanaging his body, manufacturing position instead of asking him to do it himself.  And it makes sense that he doesn't have the muscles to get his shoulders up, since shoulder freedom has been a problem for forever.

"He needs to be responsible for holding up his own head, okay?  You're allowed to give him as much rein as you want in the free walk, but when you pick the reins up, he needs to be ready to come with you."

2. He doesn't react when I put my leg on.

She really got after him about this.  "I scare him, okay, you don't scare him.  You put your leg on and he does nothing and you don't get after him, I get after him.  I'm fair to him, but I expect him to react."

After she got off of him, we worked on both.  For the self-carriage, she made sure not a step went by that he wasn't carrying his own head, getting after me to put my leg on and make an upward half-halt if he so much as thought about letting me carry him.

For the leg, she had me go on a circle, put my leg on and specifically make sure my knee was on him, ask for a lot of flexion with the inside rein (more than I'm used to for sure), and make sure he felt like he was moving out into my outside rein.  When he was doing it right, it felt like he got the weight off the left shoulder (going right).

Perfect example of what she's talking about, actually.

I understood what needs to happen and thought I understood how to make it happen in that lesson, but it's not translating under saddle for me.  We need more engagement, and more accountability for Connor, but in practice that's not easy without reverting to my bad old position and habits.  Also not helping was two straight weeks of travel with a third coming up this coming week.

But regardless, I have to admit I don't have the feel developed to really understand what needs to happen.  I can see it all day long, but I can't feel it.  What I really need are more lessons with her to help me understand these concepts better, but that's not going to happen for a while unfortunately. 


How to Mount Things in Your Trailer

As I said in yesterday's post, the idea of hanging things in the trailer was intimidating to me after I failed to mount things in the KB's steel studs. Luckily, the Shadow's aluminum studs turned out to be much easier to mount things in.  

This is a tutorial based on my experience and trailer - your miles may vary!

Regular old drill bits, cordless drill, tape measure, Sharpie, drive bits.  A mounting bracket is in the middle of the photo.

The Organized Barn and Trailer does not supply mounting hardware, you need to buy that yourself.  In my aluminum studs, which are 1 1/4" deep, I used #10 x 1 1/4" screws.  With the screw head and the width of the mounting bracket, these were as long as I could go without punching through the back of the stud.  There are four holes per mounting bracket, but I only could use 2 based on the size of my studs.

Note: You need to be careful what type of metal screws you use on aluminum, as some types can cause a reaction and corrode or otherwise damage the aluminum.  These should be okay as long as the coating doesn't wear off, which is something I'll keep a close eye on.

Step 1: Eyeball and Mark
I started by holding my gridwalls up where I wanted them, and eyeballing where the brackets would go.  Make sure you have bars crossing the studs, that's the one screwup I had doing this: for one of the 1x4's, I mounted the top brackets without considering that there were no bars across the horizontal stud further down.

Step 2: Drill pilot holes
I used a 9/64ths bit after finding TOBT's recommended bit was too small for the #10's.  With the drill on its highest power setting, I started slow until I had made a divot so the drill didn't walk away from my mark, then it was full power ahead until I punched through the stud.

Step 3: Screw in bracket
To avoid stripping the screws, I put the drill power down to about half and put a lot of pressure on the drill.  Even still, the screw would get stuck going in sometimes.  When that happened, I reversed the drill direction, then put it in forward again, over and over until it went in.  

Note: DO NOT keep going if you hear the bit bouncing around on the screw head, the screw could strip and be stuck halfway sticking out of your wall with no easy way to get it out!

This is the setting I used for pilot holes, for screws I used 14 and 1 (about half power).
Tip: If I felt like my marks were right on, I would do both pilot holes for a bracket and then both screws.  But if I felt like my marks might be wrong, I did pilot hole, screw the bracket up, pilot hole, put the second screw in.  It takes longer since you're switching back and forth between drill bit and driver bit, but it's more accurate.  I never did more than one bracket's pilot holes at a time, it's too easy to screw that up.

I didn't trust this mark.

Step 4: Hang gridwall on bracket to check for level and mark position of next bracket
You want to make sure the bracket is going to make contact with the grid and not be floating out in space.  I put my bracket behind the gridwall and pulled up until I knew the weight of it was resting on the bracket, then made my marks.

Step 5:
Pat yourself on the damn back, you handy woman you.

Anyone going to tackle one of these projects over the winter?


Product Review: The Organized Barn and Trailer HOSS System

When I got the 1 horse slant with it's smaller dressing room, I knew I would have to get smart about organization.  I've noticed that my stress level about showing goes way down when I'm organized, so I put a lot of effort into making sure things are easily accessible.

I've always liked the idea of The Organized Barn and Trailer's HOSS system, but was intimidated by the idea of hanging things in metal studs.  I tried once to drill into the steel studs in the KB and I failed.

Ended up using industrial strength Velcro instead, which worked fine, but had a 10lb max limit. 
Wanted to make a post about this and didn't, oh well.

I was determined to mount things on the wall in the Shadow.  Luckily, aluminum is much easier to drill into than steel.  This is what it looked like when I got it:

This is what it looks like now:

I did some price comparisons with other non-horse specific gridwall kits, and honestly, TOBT was competitive on price.  They are also a really friendly small horsey business willing to go the extra mile to help you out, and I always like to vote with my dollar to support places like that.  I started with their Trailer Dressing Room Kit.

Mounting it was so much easier than I thought it would be; I'll do a separate how-to in another post.

Halfway done mounting the first gridwall.

Once I had the first kit installed and I saw what more I still needed to get off the ground, I placed a second order, this time for piecemeal parts instead of a kit.  The day after I placed this order, I got this email from Sue at The Organized Barn:

How awesome is that?  They totally could've pocketed that $62 and I wouldn't have known, but instead they refunded it back to my card.  AMAZING customer service!

I used a 1x4 gridwall and a double hook to hang my folding muck cart above the spare tire on one front wall (I had a tub, but it takes up too much room in the new dressing room, so it had to go).

I used the other 1x4 to mount my fan and a couple of other things:

Never been one to spend money on something like a fan holder when bungee cords and twine works just fine at shows, but I wanted to be able to mount it for storage here, and this was the most secure option.

The new 3x4 gridwall went beside the first one for a total of 24 square feet of hanging space on the divider alone.

Gotta figure out something to keep those buckets from banging around in transit.  Backpack mounted high enough that I can use it open or closed in here.

There are still a couple more square feet I could cover with gridwall (ha), but all my stuff is off the ground and easily accessible, so I think I'm done.  Probably.  Except for a couple more hooks, a shelf and a blanket bar.  (I might have a problem.)

While I was doing this, I also secured my fire extinguisher to the wall with a bungee cord (safety first, people!):

This wasn't a horse trailer, but it can happen to any trailer.  I could feel the heat from this as I passed in the left lane a few years ago.

With that, everything is off the floor!  Now to decide on a floor sweep so I can keep the shavings out.

Bottom line: If you're looking for an easy-to-install, lightweight, modular trailer, barn or tack stall organization system, you can't get any better than The Organized Barn and Trailer's HOSS system.  Bonus: FANTASTIC customer service and a small business you should want to support.

Price: Varies.  Shipping is EXPENSIVE, prepare yourselves, but they do what they can to price shop and get it as low as possible.

Legal stuff: I bought all this with my own money (gulp), and was not influenced or compensated by TOBT.  All opinions are my own.


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