August 30, 2014

Vacation Activities

So, I tried out this little guy today (I mean, what else do you expect a horse girl to do while on vacation). More details to come later!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

August 27, 2014

Horse Delemas

Those of you who have followed my blog since the beginning, know I have an obsession with this stallion:

He is Rose's sire and produces very nice ammy friendly horses, that consistently look just like him, despite the dam. It is my main desire to find a colt/gelding by Gatsby as my next prospect. Which was my plan when I bought Rose. I just lost my resolve when she came along and couldn't turn her down. The problem however is that Gatsby colts are hard to come by, and the colts generally have a big price tag. That doesn't mean I won't' get lucky and find a little guy in my budget, but it may take some time.

Thinking a lot about Beacon lately...

This has of course made me think about breeding. I have even been offered two very nice broodmares for FREE to breed to him. I know that that would potentially be the most affordable route to go (or possibly the most expensive, if things were to go wrong). Then I also have to deal with the fact that I have a broodmare to get rid of after the baby is born.

Now, both the mares in question are young, only four and six. One is a OTTB with minimal post track training but is a proven broodie to a gorgeous 2014 Gatsby colt. The other is a registered RPSI mare that has never been started and is maiden. Potentially both great projects to train post weaning and then flip.

RSPI Mare, sorry no photo of the TB mare.

However, I really don't want to deal with a mixed herd, or mare issues. Then of course, it can be hard to sell a mare. Some people love 'em, some people hate 'em. No one seems to be indifferent to the gender. I am in the camp of the latter. I really don't want another mare. Ever again. Rose was an amazing horse to ride, but on the ground we butted heads so much that working with her just wasn't fun most of the time. She was a horse that seemed to love everyone but me. We definitely had a teenager/mother/daughter relationship. I really don't want to invest time and money into a situation like that again. What to do then?

Wait and find a gelding! 

That's my plan. Since it will likely take some time to find a Gatsby Boy, I am currently on the hunt for a husband safe/kid safe project. Something in the 15.2h range that I can use to teach Hubs to ride, play around with at the low levels, trail ride, and eventually pony my Gatsby Boy off of. That's my plan. Now I have to go and turn down some very generous owners of a couple really beautiful  horses.

August 25, 2014

Pasture Fence

Part II of the fencing project.

Now that we have all the failed post replaced, it is time to sort out what to do about the wire/rail situation. The drylot will entirely be post and rail. That was easy. It's a small area and already mostly wood. So we only had a bit more to add to it.

However, our existing 3-acre pasture fence line consists of about 1500 linear feet of old posts on approximately 16' spacing, and six strand high tensile wire. I would LOVE to replace it all with good old 8' post and rail fencing, however if I want hardwood floors instead of 90's shag carpet, that can't happen right now. So, what is another safe, sturdy, and affordable option?

Existing Fencing

After much discussion, I believe we have settled on using EquiFence. It is touted as "permanent" electric fence, as opposed to the thin and flimsy electric fencing that most of us think of. You know, the kind that Rose got all tangled up in when she was three. I've been uneasy about that kind of fencing ever since. Here is what EquiFence looks like installed and a close up.

Photo from
Photo from

The wire has a "core of 12.5 Gauge, medium-tensile galvanized wire with a unique, electrically conductive polymer allowing use as an electric fence wire." - GallaherUSA.

The polymer around the wire is what makes it much safer. It is very visible and far less likely to cut up a leg. Also, you only need three strands, not 6 like we currently have. The top and bottom wires are hot, the middle is grounded. This coupled with a top notch AC electric charger, should do a good job of keeping the horses in and safe. From a cost standpoint post spacing can be 20', so our current 16' spacing will suffice and we won't have to add additional posts to the pasture.

The big question: Cost?

I'm not sure exactly what it will cost yet, as I haven't ordered it from our local supplier yet, but their website states that it is $225 per 1000'. For three strands we will need 4500', which come to just about $1,000 for the wire. A good charger will be about $200, and then of course we will need the insulators and gate attachments which I guessing will come in around $100-200 more. So all in all we are looking at about $1400 to wire a three acre paddock. We've already replaced about 25 posts, coming in at $200 (if we had to start from scratch with 20' post spacing it would have been $600 for all the posts). That is a grand total of $1,600 for a functioning pasture fence line. Not bad compared to $15,000 for post and rail fencing!

So, I'm curious. Has anyone else used this product? Our fencing guy DR loves it, but I'd like to hear other opinions as well.

August 22, 2014

Fence Posts!

The "biggest" project at the moment, which must happen before things freeze, is the fencing. Tonight, Part 1 of the fencing project commenced.

We have about 30 posts that have failed. I am guessing these are mostly all original posts, and probably 20-30 years old. One of Hub's best friends just so happens to own a fencing business. His parent's also happen to be moving to our town and have hired Hubs (who is an Architect) to design what will be one friggin' beautiful huge home. So, old friend DR and his folks were in town today to look at their new acreage and discuss design stuff with Hubs. Since everyone was in town and it's a friday evening, Hubs was able to sweet talk DR into bringing his post driver with him and replace our failed posts, and add new additional ones to the dry lot. DR is my hero right now!

Removing an old post.

Driving a new post.
Honestly, this machine is one of the coolest things I've ever seen. It pounds a 5" diameter driver post into the ground in about 30 seconds! In my imagination, we were going to be out there for months (MONTHS!) with a stupid post hole digger and a post pounder replacing posts. This thing rocks. Also the fact that they are doing this in the pouring rain, really makes me appreciate the awesome boys in my life even more.

New "driver" posts. Untreated. Doh. Apparently, despite my concern for horses ingesting treated wood, DR informed us that we still should have ordered treated posts. I guess untreated will only last about 5 years vs. 20 for treated. Live and learn. Oh, well. All future posts will be treated.

Rails for the dry lot. It's hard not to picture them as jump poles. Where is my paint?

Incase you can't tell (I couldn't):
I was informed by Junior that dump truck is pulling the horse trailer!

One very wet and happy english shepherd.

New fence posts.

So stinking cute...Insisting that Daddy drive the post driver.

Junior had a great time watching, and kept insisting that "Daddy drive it"! I guess he's used to Hubs doing the driving around these parts. Junior was not satisfied that DR was doing the driving. Such cuteness.

So, that's about it for the evening. It got dark before the boys finished up, so there are a few posts left to do in the morning. For now we are enjoying drying off, a yummy warm meal, and good company. Have a great weekend everyone!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

August 19, 2014

Left Lead...and Jumping!

I finally rode Hugo last night. I think the last time I rode was in June, due to the whole house sale, moving, buying new one business. It feels like I lost the whole summer to that as a matter of fact. But, now we are settled in so it's time to get back to business as usual and enjoy the tail end of summer.

EB was there during my ride, as she had taken all the tack home to clean and well, I kinda needed it to ride. So it was great to have her company and also helped to discuss where he was at. Hugo is doing great! She has been working diligently with him in my absence and it shows. So, it was time to up the ante and see what we got.

EB was having fun watching and listening to me explain my ride and training techniques. We did some bending work, walk, trot, and then canter. Both EB and I were shocked when Hugo instantly picked up the left lead canter the first time I asked. That is a first ever. I have only ever once before gotten the left lead on him, and I was an exhausted sweaty mess by the time it happened (so was he). EB hasn't ever gotten it while riding him, but has gotten him to pick it up a couple times on the longeline. At any rate, we were both stoked. The big boy has such a nice uphill canter that I could ride it all day.

Moving on, we started working at transitions within the gates and stretching down into contact (stretchy trot). Hugo was, understandably, very confused at first, and typically broke gate or tried to canter. But he's such a smart boy that he figured out what I wanted within a few minutes and we had some nice work within both the walk and trot.

After that, I was feeling really good about where he was at, and feeling in the mood to JUMP! So, with a giant grin on her face, EB excitedly put up a tiny 18" ex and we popped over it a few times at the walk and then the trot. Hugo was a saint, and I gave EB the all clear to start doing this with him, as well as lots of left lead canter transitions, during her rides. I don't think I've ever seen her so excited about something. Next time she comes out to watch me ride, I will have to remember to bring my camera so that she can snap some photos.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

August 16, 2014

Virtual Tour of the New Property

I finally found some time between unpacking boxes and chasing after Junior to snap a few photos of the property (ahem, Junior took a nap and I traded the box cutter for my very dusty camera). First and foremost, let me say that I absolutely love our house/property! Although I kept my mouth shut, I had what I assume is the usual trepidation everyone has when they sign closing papers. Did we do the right thing? Should we have kept looking? Will the commute be okay?

Not to fret, the very first sunset I got to see eased my concerns, and then waking up the next morning to peace, quiet, and a stunning view put a huge smile on my face. I am in love with our new farm and cannot wait to see it evolve into the property of our dreams.

Below is the existing site. This photo was from 2011 though, so there is currently no strip grazing going on. I am actually shocked to see that the pasture was in use in 2011 because the fencing is completely unusable at the moment. So either it fell in massive disrepair shortly after this photo was taken, or whoever kept animals on it didn't care too much if they got injured or escaped. Given some people's idea of livestock management around here, either of those two later options is entirely possible.

Existing site aerial from 2011 (the garage looking thing labeled garden, is actually a garage. Silly me, I didn't save my photoshop document before exiting, and I don't have the time right now to go back and re-do the whole thing).
The property is a total of 5 acres. There is approximately 2.5 acres in the big pasture, and the remainder is the dry lot, house, garage, garden beds and yard. We plan to turn the area that is currently lawn between the house and the road into an outdoor arena. I will probably put a round pen somewhere in the drylot area. Those are the two flattest areas, hence the locations. As for grazing, I will keep the drylot area functional since the run-in is on the side of the barn, but I plan on running a paddock paradise track around the perimeter of the pasture, and then just keep the center area for hay and winter paddock use. My hope is that I can avoid actually ever having to drylot the horses.I am interested in giving the paddock paradise track a go, but I'm a little bit skeptical about it as I've never seen one in use. We shall see.

The Barn. 1500sf Pole Barn.
Run-in shelter. Currently four "stalls".

Run-in feeder.

Automatic heated waterer. It works, but need some repair to fix a leak.

Dry lot at the back of the barn.
Not sure what the little square fenced area in the drylot was for.
Inside the barn. The weird steel rack will be going away soon.
Finally, covered trailer parking! Room for four stalls to be built.

Insulated tack/feed room.

Future feed room.

Future tack room. Oh, so roomy!

View of the pasture from the front of the barn.

Existing 6 wire, post & wire fencing.
Needs repair, tensioning, top rail, and hot wire.
What will be a 100 x 200' outdoor arena at some point (there is an
existing outdoor arena at the 15-acre community park I can use in the time being).

That about wraps up the photo tour. I have a lot of projects to keep me busy for a while, including organizing the tack room. The highest (barn related) priority though, is fixing up the fence so that I can get a horse sooner than later. Fingers crossed it would be nice to have a fuzzy nose again to pet this fall.

I will be doing a more posts on the farm blog over the next month if you want to see more about the property and all of our renovation projects that we have planned for the house and landscape.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

August 11, 2014

Moved In!

I am finding it a bit surreal that I own horse property now. We closed on the property and started moving in this past Thursday. I would have blogged sooner, but I just now got the internet connected. I was delighted that we got internet out here. As country as we think our new place is, in reality, we are still pretty urban by Montana farmer/ranch standards.

I just love waking up to this view!

Of course now that we have moved in, I have horses on the brain. It is being curtailed a bit by the fact that we have to fix up our fencing before I can move any horses to the property. However, within the first 48 hours of living here I was offered two horses already, one for free (and about 12 free barn cats). Holy Moley! I guess I best get my tack room set up and do something about that fencing so that when the right horses come along we will be ready to bring them home.

So far the only thing horse related that has gotten sorted out is haying our pasture. Thankfully that will be done in about a week. Although, in my non-experienced haying opinion, it really should have been cut three weeks ago. That and the pasture also needs some weed control, as there are lots of thistle and few other weeds in the mix. But, the guy cutting it uses the crap hay for his cattle, so no biggy there. I have no plans to save it and feed it to horses. Hopefully we can get the pastures in better condition so that we have quality hay for next year.

Hubs thought it was no biggy and we could leave the pasture hay long, but it seems to me that it needs to be cut if for no other reason than rodent control. Our first night here I had giant screech owls on our garage and barn hunting the fields. Also, our old dog has suddenly grown a few years younger and has been mousing like crazy in the gardens. He is currently having the time of his life and is quite the mouse killer. As good as he is at it though, I think it is probably wise to go ahead and take home one of those free barn cats!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!


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