Remote Saddle Fitting

Now that the trailer is getting all fixed up, that leaves me with one last item to check off my list before I move barns.

I currently co-own this saddle with another girl in my barn.  The backstory is here, but basically, last fall I found a saddle that fit me perfectly, and fit Connor passably with a half pad.  But it turned out it fit my barnmate and her horse Louie PERFECTLY, so we decided it would eventually be hers, but we would share it until I got one of my own.  She's going to buy my half out when I get a new saddle.  It worked out really well - she got to pay two installments over six months and I can count on a modest check to help pay for my new saddle when the time comes.

I took one more stab at trying to self-fit a saddle, and trialed a Stubben Juventus D in a 32cm (wide) tree, from Pelham Saddlery last week.

It was a 'meh' fit without a girth, a little too high in the front...

And it got way worse when girthed - it went straight up in the back.  Slightly exaggerated here by Connor trying to graze while I took the photo, but still - bad bad bad.

Mary talked me off the ledge counseled me like only a former professional saddle fitter can and said that the tree size isn't necessarily the issue with a lot of the saddles I've tried, but the long narrow points on the horse-sized Dressage trees are the issue.  Our CWD jump saddle fits so well, and was a lot easier to get right, because of CWD's short flexible tree points (and the integrated panel, to a lesser extent).

So I called in the infantry.  I am out of time.  I'm doing a remote saddle fitting with a lady out of Florida that comes to this area twice a year to do fittings and flocking adjustments.  Half of my barn has used her before, a mix of remote and in person and she's good at what she does.  She's a brand-agnostic independent saddle fitter with a large inventory of nice used stuff at various price points.  She also doesn't give up until things are totally right on hard to fit horses.

Here are Connor's remote fitting photos:

Wearing the Devoucoux - which really doesn't look bad from the side, but looks terrible from the front.

And naked - cutest.  picture. ever.  Trainer: "He's really good at that, isn't he?" Me: "What, looking cute when I fake give him a treat?" Trainer: "Yes."  Me: Welsh shows for the win.
And here is his tracing, taken by my trainer:

I am supposed to talk to the saddle fitter this afternoon, should be interesting.  Stay tuned!


Getting the Trailer Fixed Up

Last year at one of the last Dressage shows of the year, I was stabled at the end of the barn.  I looked over toward the end of the day, and saw a woman loading horses into my exact model of trailer not 10 feet from me.
This post will be punctuated with "Before" photos.  Even before pressure washing.

I ran over and said, "Hey, I have a weird question for you.  I have that exact same trailer - have your back doors ever rotted out?"

"Oh my gosh, I am so glad you came up to me!  I was just taking pictures of the metal bracing system you have on your ramp to show my husband, I hope you don't mind.  Yes, my back doors and ramp have both rotted out."
The bars she was talking about.  These are after market.

"Who fixed them for you?" I said, "Yours look amazing and mine need done.  They're not even on the trailer right now."

She said her husband did them, he does all of the maintenance on her trailer, and that he's an auto body professional by day that does some moonlighting on the side.  She said he'd probably do mine as well, and we exchanged numbers with a text from her that said "It's Robin, your Trailer Twin!"

Poor, sad upper doors in the tack room.

Now that I'm either fixing my trailer up to sell it or fixing my trailer up to keep it, I decided to take her up on her offer, and dropped it off at her farm on Sunday.  I was just going to have him do the doors and was going to take it to the dealer for everything else it needs, but that was before I learned this guy is a freakin' early 00's KieferBuilt expert.

Things I learned about my trailer that I did not know before:
- The bar that goes through the springs at the bottom of the ramp was coming out.  Two whacks with a mallet fixed that.

- The doors and the ramp both are missing corner weatherstripping, so the side weatherstripping starts to fall off and the combination of both allows water to get into the doors.
I wish I had post-pressure washing pictures to share.  It looks awesome..

- On Saturday, I pulled up the dressing room floor to discover that it's totally rotted through in one small section on the front wall, but I couldn't figure out where the moisture came from.  The skylight was an obvious suspect, but the roof didn't leak when I sprayed water on it, and the rot was nowhere near the skylight.

TURNS OUT it's because KB didn't caulk between the diamond plate gravel guard and the body of the trailer on the nose.  Water gets between them and makes its way into the dressing room floor.  I am a pretty good "moisture where it shouldn't be" sleuth, but I never would've gotten that one.  People with aluminum trailers with gravel guards and wood floors, public service announcement: make sure that bad boy is caulked.
The location of the rot is just to the right of those two bag chairs hanging on the wall.

Side note:  This is a good reminder to pay attention to moisture issues and floor quality everywhere, not just in the horse compartment.  I knew there was a small amount of moisture getting into the dressing room, but I had no idea how bad it was til I pulled the carpet up.

The offending not-caulked gravel guard.

- KB liked to use a type of metal that rusted in their fittings, leaving ugly streaks all over the place.  Except in one place, my trailer has stainless steeling fittings so I'm thankfully immune from that.  His wife's KB is not.

- The butt bars are made of aluminum, and the rings will eventually wear straight through from all the metal-on-metal action and the butt bar will fail.  Mine are just starting to get a groove - I would've never known about that unless he showed me, but now I'll be keeping a close eye on it.

Needless to say, after talking to him and seeing his home shop, the quality of his work on his wife's KieferBuilt and on his mint condition 50's Bel Air (swoon) I felt pretty confident in saying yes when he offered to do the work I had intended to have done at the dealer.

The full list:

- Rebuild and reinstall back upper doors with brand new weatherstripping, including corner
- Add corner weatherstripping on ramp.
- Install a new fender
- Remove JenJ's Texas plate that's riveted onto the trailer (sidenote: never got pulled over.  #winning) and put my plate on the new fender
- Replace subfloor in dressing room
- Move spare tire to outside of trailer (my only non-repair request.  I want more space in that dressing room.)
- Repack bearings and check brakes (will send me a photo of the pad that's left)
- Fix broken rivet in back upper corner that's causing the fiberglass roof to pull away from the body (brand new issue as of the haul up there.  Nothing like looking in the side mirror and seeing a 4' section of trim flapping in the breeze 45 minutes from home.)

All that had to happen anyway, his rate is much cheaper than the dealer's rate, and I feel good about throwing cash at a fellow Indy equestrian's family, so it's a win all the way around.

I can't wait to see what it looks like when it's all fixed up!


Touring the New Barn

I took a tour of the new barn Saturday afternoon, and guys...I'm kicking myself for not moving sooner.

Ya'll are gonna get all kinds of tiny website photos on this post since I didn't want to be creepy taking photos on the tour yesterday.
In all the best ways, it's just like what I have now, only it took me EIGHT MINUTES to get there from my house.   I could go to the barn 7 days in a row and my total drive time would be just slightly longer than a single trip to my current barn.

But wait, there's more!

- Only two other boarders, total of four horses.  One is my age (and is the BO, technically) and the other is a retired woman who comes out and toodles on her half Arabian, and also does stalls and feeds occasionally.

- They are perfectly set up to accommodate Connor's weirdness about catching thanks to a very intentionally laid out facility. All the stalls have dutch doors on the backside that open into a sacrifice area with nice footing, and that then opens into the turnouts, so they usually let the horses walk into their stalls.  The only person that will have to deal with my hard to catch horse is me - and even then they have "more pastures than horses" so if I do want private turnout, it's no big deal.

- They still feed Tribute, which Connor is currently on.

- They use Connor's previous vet, who I have no problems with (although I do love my current vet, a fellow eventer).

- They don't allow kids, and they don't enforce their posted rules (like hours) with responsible adults, just like my current barn.

- There's enough room in trailer parking that I might be able to leave my truck there too, which would be awesome since we really don't have room for it at my downtown house.  I may even be able to leave it there and hitched on days I know I need to make a quick exit to a lesson, since I can drive the Vibe there and switch vehicles.

Indoor.  BO found out I was a Dressage rider and offered to let me put up letters.
- He'll be 20 minutes from the Hoosier Horse Park, and an hour closer to the Kentucky Horse Park.

To top it all off, I really hit it off with the BO too, and I feel nothing but good about this decision.  April 30th can't come soon enough!


Pressure Washing My Trailer

I started pressure washing my trailer yesterday in the hopes I could make it look slightly more attractive to potential buyers.  Once I saw how many of the things I thought were permanently attached were actually dirt, I was embarrassed that I haven't done this sooner:


Especially the roof:

I'm so embarrassed.

It looks so good after the pressure washing that I'm considering paying for the needed repairs myself and selling it for what it's actually worth.  You know, Love It or List It style, where they put $100,000 into a house worth $300,000 and sell it for $425,000.

Pressure washing: so rewarding, but so time consuming.  Sort of like body clipping.

There's a couple coming to look at it on Friday.  If they don't want it, I'll probably book the appointment to fix it up myself sometime in April.  Worst comes to worst, Connor has to ride in it a couple more months.

Even the grey spots came off!


Leaving My Barn

So.  Following my Saturday post.

I've made a Very Big Decision.

I'm moving Connor.

No matter where I go, I'll have to deal with a downgrade in arena footing.  I have been so spoiled.

I know there are people in parts of the country with options when it comes to barns, and changing barns is not a big deal.  In my area, there are almost no options.  Once you're in a good spot, you don't really move, unless you buy your own farm.

I've been at my barn for six years now, five as a boarder.  I have absolutely no problems with it, it's perfect in every way, besides the 80 mile round trip from my house, and the fact that it puts me too far from the Dressage trainer I'd like to haul into every so often.

This is the non-horse trailer drive time Google Maps says it takes for me to go from my house, to my barn, to my Dressage trainer's barn, back to the barn, and back to my house.  And she doesn't teach on weekends!

You have to have a Plan B at all times as a boarder, though, and there's only one Plan B I'd ever consider in this area.  I actually toured it a few years ago when my trainer raised board prices and I freaked out about money.  It was built in 2006, has an indoor and an outdoor, feeds Tribute (which Connor is already on), has trailer parking, has lovely big stalls with auto waterers, and only boards a max of 7 horses at a time (4 at the moment).  Oh, and it's three miles from my house.

(Cue Connor's breeder going: "It's THREE MILES FROM YOUR HOUSE?!")

Yeah, I literally cannot even imagine my horse being under 10 minutes from my house, but I'm about to find out what that's like. I didn't end up moving him when I looked at it the first time because I didn't have a truck and trailer back then, but now that I do, I can haul out for lessons.

(And hence the need to get a trailer Connor actually likes - he's about to start spending a lot of quality time in there.)

Same round trip as above, but from possible new barn.

My trainer is on board with this plan.  I started to talk about how I'm riding less because of the drive and my life, and she understands completely and suggested this barn as an option now that I can haul in for lessons.  Little did she know her suggestion has been my Plan B for years.  We've all tentatively agreed on May 1-ish as my move out date.

Possible new place

There are two very big things that have to happen in order for me to be able to make this move though: I have to get the trailer situation settled, and I have to get a Dressage saddle, since I currently co-own mine with a girl at my current barn.

It's nerve wracking, but I think it's the right move.


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