April 16, 2019

Year 3 With Greenguard Grazing Muzzle

This is now Connor's third year in the Greenguard grazing muzzle.

After I brought him to the new barn two years ago (!) and he got SUPER FAT.
The first year, I had zero problems with it. The second year, I had all kinds of problems with it that all started when a pasturemate shredded the leather halter I had used with it the year before: fit, rubbing, escaping, you name it.  It was so frustrating.

Spoiler alert: this setup did not work at all.

But we got through it, and Greenguard is still the best muzzle out there IMO.  This year, his original GG muzzle was starting to look pretty beat up and wasn't really the right shape anymore, so I went to replace it and saw that they now have COLORS!  So of course I took the chance to go all Lisa Frank on him:

Two Horse Tack biothane turnout halter has done a great job, I have to admit.

I'm not typically a color person, but I am 100% sure Connor's tiny friend is going to rip his muzzle off at some point this year (although surprisingly that hasn't happened yet, I think the Arab gelding they're temporarily turned out with has been distracting him) so I wanted maximum lying-in-the-grass-visibility.

Their new and improved fit guide helped me get the fit perfect this year...but that still doesn't mean Mr. Houdini stays in it all the time:

PC: my trainer.  Sigh.

Greenguard recommends twine in the corners of the basket for this particular issue, which I did last night.  We'll see if it works!

Side note: Greenguard has their muzzles on sale for 15% off with code 15GGSPRING at checkout.  Riding Warehouse also has them 15% off, but only in black - GG's official website (non-affiliate link) is the only place you can get the muzzle in lime green and hot pink as well as black. #notsponsored

April 15, 2019

Show Recap: Heartland 2019

I waffled on whether to enter for Heartland or not, but in the end I decided to because:
  1. It's a schooling show
  2. I haven't ridden the 2019 tests yet
  3. It's a great knock-off-the-rust-and-oh-yeah-get-your-Coggins-done show

And knock the rust off your braiding skills while you're at it

We ended up with a 62.162% for 2-1, which I will both not complain about and admit was generous.  We had no major mistakes, but at the same time a lot about it was rough around the edges.  Really, it was the perfect first outing for the year, which is exactly what we were there for, so that's a win.

Gross.  "I can't ride my horse because I'm clamped onto his back like a vise grip" isn't the best way to start your Dressage test, in case you were wondering.
Our scores ranged from a 5.0 for that seriously sticky rein-back, to 8.0's for both centerlines and halts, which was a minor miracle because as I made the turn at A for my final salute, I realized C had been placed to the left of A by about 18".  

It's a schooling show run by pony club parents, and I'm therefore not upset about it, but whew it threw me for a loop.

My lizard brain reacted by going "Shit, ride to the letter" and my final centerline was seriously drunken, but...judge didn't notice the two steps of leg yield I threw in there?  I don't know.  This was an 8.0:

Gift horses and all that.

As I look back at the video of this test (thanks to my trainer for taking it for me!), it looks...hurried.  I can definitely see what both my trainer and KGP mean about him running through me.  I didn't have the best or longest warmup, partially because they sent me over early and I didn't double-check or ask to go at my actual time (see also: first show of the year and knocking the rust off).

#notalengthening but look at me remembering to half halt at F!

I need to be more present - which is partially a result of not knowing this test as thoroughly as I did the old tests.  I need to actually remember to half-halt - which is just...not a habit in high-pressure situations.  I need to relax - and I actually did have a moment I'm quite proud of, when I realized my pressure points were in the middle of my thighs most of the way through the second 10m canter circle and relaxed.

Immediately after I finally relaxed, he finally relaxed.  The next movement was the counter canter in our tough direction, and it was probably the best he's ever done this movement in this direction:

It's good place to start the show season off from even if it wasn't perfect.  The takeaways were: relaxing through my seat and half halting need to become default habits, and I need to find ways to reduce tension for both of us in the show ring.

We were fractions of a percentage point out of second place, but I could not have cared less.  Give me the scores!

April 12, 2019

Blogger Meetup: Katlyn Comes to Visit!

I have met a lot of bloggers at this point - 31, which I counted for L. Williams Six Degrees of Bloggers Project.  I've loved everyone I've met, but there have been a handful that I just knew we would end up being close.  The rest of you I'm close with, you know who you are, but Katlyn from Stubborn Together is one of those people, and she flew down from Minnesota to visit me last weekend!

Aside from the whole pony Dressage thing, we have a lot in common.  Consulting jobs that require travel.  Nerdy SOs employed in the tech industry that drive fast cars.  A LOVE OF HERBAL GINS!

(I write that in all caps because when I asked what kind of alcohol she liked, she basically sent back a list of all of my favorite drinks - herbal gin drinks, Manhattans, Old Fashioneds - and I was so excited to meet another girl that drank like me!)

Introduced her to my favorite gin
She already wrote about her weekend and you should definitely check out her blog if you're not a regular reader.  From my perspective, it was the perfect weekend.  April is hit and miss for weather in Indiana, and they had a huge hit with mostly 70's and sunny.  Katlyn got to see the best of everything - porchin', blooming trees, beautiful sunsets, blue skies, green grass.

She helped me bring the horses in one day, and her SO took out my trash without being asked - hello can you both just move in?
We rode, we gave Connor a bath, we hit up the pseudo-local tack store, we rode more, we drank, we ate our way around my city, we introduced them to our other nerdy friends, and our SOs hit it off like they were made for each other.

Connor let her practice braiding while I took a conference call from the barn, even though it was dinner time and he knew it.

From a riding perspective, it was fantastic for me to see someone new get on and make him look good.  Very few people have ridden this horse, and he is definitely my own brand of special at this point, so it was very cool to see Katlyn hop on and fairly quickly figure him out - especially since Katai requires a very different ride from the sounds of it.

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend and one I hope to repeat sometime in the future!

April 5, 2019

Product Review: Aftermarket Trailer TPMS

My next truck (same truck I have now, just 15 years newer) is going to come with a factory-installed trailer tire pressure monitoring system, which I'm going to refer to as T-TPMS. 

Someday, someday.
But I'm still 2-4 years away from that truck being in my price range used, so I started looking into aftermarket T-TPMS systems.  Why would you want a T-TPMS system? 
  1. It does real-time tire pressure alerting, so no more walking around the trailer with a tire gauge checking them all before you leave (although you should still double-check the accuracy of the T-TPMS every once in a while)
  2. It does real-time temperature alerting.  Because tires tend to heat up before they blow, in theory you should be able to pull over before it blows your fender off (not that I have any experience with that...)
  3. You can catch a slow leak early by watching it as you drive down the road.

I ended up buying this from Amazon, which comes with the main unit, four valve stem sensors, and two extra button batteries for those sensors, for $40. 

Installation was stupid easy.  Turn off the main unit.  Unscrew and remove your valve stem caps, screw the sensor caps on (paying attention to the front/rear left/right markings on them).  Turn on main unit.  Done.

If you're worried about theft they include four locking rings, but if you use those you have to have a specialized wrench with you at all times (to get the sensors off to air up your tires), and that seemed more risky than someone stealing sensors that are useless without the main unit so...I didn't.

It also says to check for leaks by spraying soapy water over the valve stems after installation.  I didn't.  Living on the edge.  No leaks so far.

The main unit is both solar powered and also charges via micro USB.  They include adhesive because it's designed to be mounted to your dashboard where the sun can charge it.  Because my truck already has a TPMS and I'm only going to use this when the trailer is hooked up, I chose to stash it in a storage compartment and not mount it.

The screen is customizable, and when I said this thing alerts you to low temp/high pressure, it ALERTS you.  It is LOUD.  Even if you're jamming out in the truck cab, you won't miss it if there's a problem with the trailer's tires.

Blue is PSI, green is temperature.  For those of you in metric countries, both are customizable.

Bottom line: $40 for mitigating tire problems while hauling?  Everyone should have one of these things!  There's no excuse not to.

What: Aftermarket Tire Pressure Monitoring System TPMS Solar Power Universal Wireless with 4 External Sensors Real-time Display 4 Tires' Pressure & Temperature 22-87 PSI
Price: $39.98
Where to buy: Amazon (non-affiliate link)

April 1, 2019

Trailer Maintenance Series Continued: Metal Polish and Fender Trim

Next up on my spring trailer maintenance list was to polish the fenders and install the fender trim.  I don't think it mattered, but I wanted to install the fender trim over clean and polished fenders rather than dirty fenders.

Spoiler alert: turned out awesome
My weapon of choice:

If you have a scratched stainless steel sink, you can use this there too.
I also used a giant foam ball on a drill bit for the polishing:

I applied the mag polish using a microfiber cloth, and then depending on how close I was to the trailer wall, I either continued to polish using the cloth (turning it to new sections as the section I was using got black) or used the PowerBall to buff it.  I was honestly happier with the cloth results than the PowerBall personally.

Some recommendations if you do this:

- Have a HUGE stack of microfiber towels with you.  You'll thank me.
- If you use the PowerBall, turn the speed on the drill way up. 
- Wear old clothes.  It did come out of my nice winter coat but I was sweating bullets, this stuff gets everywhere and turns everything it touches a nice silver or black.

 After it was good and shiny, I installed the new rubber fender trim:

Basically a mirror!

I measured my fenders and ordered this rubber trim from the Horse Trailer Accessory Store (non-affiliate link).  It's sold in quantities of one foot and it took 20 feet to do my two fenders.

(Side note: This is the second time I've ordered from the Horse Trailer Accessory Store, and they've been amazing both times.  Fast shipping, and they've take a lot of time to answer questions for me both over the phone and email.)

Installation was easy: line up the trim with the edge of the fender, push/pull up until you hear a click, then give it a few whacks with a rubber mallet to really set it.  

Did I need to do this?  No.  Is it a good idea?  Yes.  Stuff happens with horses, and $35 for fender trim is cheaper than a vet bill for a sliced leg.

And now the fenders are done!  Still to come on the trailer maintenance list: cleaning the inside walls, cleaning the non-floor rubber surfaces,  UV protectants and waxing the exterior.