September 30, 2014

DIY: How to Make Crossties

Our barn appears to have never housed anything equine. As far as I can tell the inside of the barn was used for welding and woodworking. This is great, because the barn, aside from some sawdust, is very clean. Love that. As a result, I have an insulated room that was once a wood working area which will be an awesome tack room once I am done with it. Love that too. It also means I get to set it up the inside of the barn just as I like with very little tear down necessary. Really LOVE that.

The inside barn projects have been on the back burner because re-fencing the pasture has been top priority before the weather turns crummy for good. It is a big project for little old me to get done all alone during nap times and preschool. I am getting there though. However, today it has been raining. Raining a lot. So, once I wrapped up my money-earning work for the morning, I decided to use the remainder of my toddler free preschool time to do an inside the barn project.

Today I decided to make the crossties for my grooming stall. The grooming stall itself is a project for another day when I can have some help from Hubs moving and cutting boards.

To Make Crossties, Things I Used:

5/8" poly rope - length varies depending on your measurements
4 - Rope Clamps
4 - Panic Snaps
2 - Tie Rings with Plates, and 8 screws
Screw Driver / Drill
Aim 'N Flame (optional)
Measuring Tape

How I Made Crossties:

1. Install Tie Rings

Install tie rings if you don't already have them. I am installing mine between two pole barn posts that measure 10' on center.

Pick your location. This is my future grooming stall that has 10' x 10' pole barn post spacing. Crossties are going in on the interior beams.
Measure 6' (72") on your post. I always attach tie rings to posts, and only posts!
Install tie ring using four self drilling screws. Center of ring is 6' up on post.
Stand back and survey your work. Take a sip of a nice cold beverage.

Whalah! A thing of beauty. One tie ring is installed 6' up on each post. Now time to make the crossties...

2. Make The Crossties

Feed poly rope through the end of the panic snap. Set rope in rope clamp.
Using pliers close rope clamp around rope. Use a hammer to flatten rope clamp once closed. The clamp will be nice and smooth once flattened.
Measure your beam spacing and divide by two. Use this length for each of your crossties.
Once you have the length correct, repeat process with panic snaps on the other side. 
I had an old pair of panic snaps laying around from a long dead set of crossties. I simply cut them off the old ropes and re-used them for this project.
Almost done; extra length needs to be removed.
Double checking the length before cutting off the extra length. In hindsight, I should have measured before buying the rope, since I paid for it by the linear foot (wasted a few bucks here), and the farm store does a very nice job of cutting and melting the ends (made extra work for myself).
Crossties touching, sans horse. This is how tight/loose I like my crossties. Any longer and horse can spin around too much.
To cut the extra length of rope off the crossties, I tightly wrapped duct tape about 1/2" from where I wanted to cut it. Then carefully cut it with a knife, and then (outside...not in the barn) I melted
the end of the rope with my Aim 'N Flame.
The finished product. Makes me smile!

So, that was my rainy day project today. I can't wait to get the boards up for the walls of the grooming stall, and a bridle and saddle rack, so that I can actually start using it! On another note, you might be wondering why I made my own crossties instead of just buying some? Well I "bought the farm" so I have to do everything I can to save a penny now. So that's one reason.

However, my main reason for making my own is quality and safety. I want well made crossties that only have panic snaps. I hate that people always put the panic snaps on the horse's halters instead of on the tie ring. Panic snaps must be on the tie ring, otherwise they are useless in a panic situation! To avoid that from happening, it is just easier to have all panic snaps. End of debate.

I also wanted crossties made of good polyrope, not some flimsy nylon strapping or other bungy material. I've just had too many bad experiences with those types of crossties. Also, by making my own I could pick what color I wanted them to be. Our local farm store had a surprisingly huge selection of color and pattern. I am lame of course though, and like all things black, so I passed up the cool ropes for solid black.

Then of course there is cost. I am sure I could buy crossties that would fit my post spacing and have panic snaps on both ends. But how much would that cost to order and ship? Probably a lot more than the $19 in material this project cost me (it would have been $17 if I had measured for my poly rope before buying it; lesson learned there).

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

September 26, 2014

Longeing Rock Star

Gentry and I are (have been for a while now) in sync on our longeing techniques these days. He is happily walk/trot/cantering in both directions to voice command (no kissing). His halt has improved and he is halting nice and perpendicular to the longeline when I ask.

He is also standing quietly and waiting for me to approach to change direction. At first he used to stop and then spin toward me. That, as you all know by now, is a huge pet peeve of mine. This was not surprising to me though, given what I assume was his first owner's natural horsemanship training technique. The gal I bought him from had mentioned that his first owner taught him to longe. He also only understood to change pace from a kissing command. However, he is very smart and picked up on the walk/trot/canter voice commands after only a couple longeline sessions.

His longeing is so good now, that when I know that I will be riding him, I longe him in full tack instead of the cavesson and he's been a rock star.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

September 22, 2014


Gentry got his first (with me) pedicure this past week. He probably could have gone another week or so, but I wanted my farrier JS to get a look at them before they got to long. I was also curious to see how G-Love would do with the farrier.

He did great! I should just start getting used to this horse being a perfect saint. Seriously, it is mind boggling to me. The only "bad" habit he has so far exhibited is that he stops to poop when I am riding him. That can (and will) be easily fixed.

For the record here are hoof photos post trim (2 days later, because in my excitement to see JS after an entire year, I forgot to take photos).

Left Front
Right Front

Left Hind

Right Hind
JS was pleased with his feet. My plan is to keep Gentry bare for the winter, and then depending on how he is doing in the spring with increased workload and riding on our gravel roads, probably shoe him. We shall see.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

September 16, 2014

Mane Pulling, Check!

I cannot stand long manes. I see friesians and andalusians and think they are lovely. A lovely lovely tangly mess for someone else to deal with. No thank you. I get why people like them. Long flowy beautiful manes cared for just right are lovely to see. But it is a lot of work to get them and keep them that nice. I am lazy and just prefer a tidy and low maintenance mane that doesn't get tangled in my fingers or my tack. So, it was time for Gentry's sorta long and very uneven mane to go!

Not all horses like or tolerate their manes being pulled, so I was curious to see how G-Love would handle it, since his mane had clearly not been pulled in a long long time, if ever. I tied him up to my now well used post and got to work.


Before, long and messy.

After, nice and tidy!

To say that I was pleased with his reaction to having his mane pulled would be a HUGE understatement. I think I got the whole thing pulled in less than 30-minutes. Seriously, this horse is a gold mine. He is just so chill about everything. I am thanking my lucky stars every day I spend with him and starting to re-think if I really need another more "fancy" youngster to bring along.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

September 12, 2014

Crazy Coincidence

I think about Rose a lot. I am still delighting in Gentry every day, but when we first moved into the new house, sans horse, I could not help but think about Rose. I would have so enjoyed watching her from my kitchen window while she galloped her bum off frolicked in the pasture. It would have been a wonderful feeling to move her home with us after all those stressful years of boarding. I think I will always wonder how much we could have accomplished and what level she could have taken me to as a competitor. I will also alway wonder how she is doing and if she is happy. That is the past though, and very wise person once told me that to accomplish great things in life I must always look forward. I try to do this everyday, in all aspects of my life. Some days I am better at it than others. Gentry is my present and future horse. Soon I will get to watch him grazing in this view.

View of (some of) the pasture from my kitchen window
However, in a failed attempt to not think about Rose, I was recently reviewing my blog and looking back on my last summer with her. I clicked on September and realized that the day she left for her new home was September 2nd, 2013. Gentry arrived here on September 2nd, 2014. I was immediately struck by what an unlikely coincidence that was. I am sure there is some deep meaningful thing I could come up with in regard to the dates, but I am kind of at a loss for words. I just keep thinking that Gentry just might be the universe's way of giving me a do-over. The thought of that makes me smile a bit.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

September 11, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

So this happened last night. Yeah, I live in Montana.

Cold/snow energized boy.

Nice dry snow free run-in.

Trusty old Ritchie Commander waterer doing it's non-freezing job.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

September 9, 2014

Back in the Tack

I finally managed a ride on Gentry today. Earlier in the day, baby monitor by my side and cell phone in my pocket, I groomed and longed him while Junior was napping.* Then Gentry had the afternoon off until Hubs got home. Whilst one ginormous Costco pot pie baked in the oven, I left Junior to play with Hubs and snuck down to the barn for a quick ride while there was still daylight. We did a short 20 minute walk/halt/steering school in the small paddock behind our barn.

At first, Gentry was (understandably) full of anxiety. This was exhibited by his anxiously chomping on the bit and working hard to do what was being asked of him. However, he never placed a hoof out of order the whole ride. I do love how hard he pays attention and how hard he tries. By the end of our little lesson he was relaxed and calm, with no chomping. Toward the end, Hubs and Junior came down to see us and snapped a quick photo of me on the little guy.

1st ride on my little, not so little looking, guy.
*Today was the first time that it really dawned on me how much easier and convenient it is to work with a horse when you have it at home. This is going to be a great thing!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

September 8, 2014

Here to Stay

It is official, I have decided to keep Gentry. I still haven't manage time to ride him, but I'm not worried about that. He's a green baby, and the training isn't a big issue for me. The trial period was honestly more about having my vet do the PPE and also to assess his temperament, which I am quite pleased with. He's a sweetheart, gentle, and calm. I have a lot to blog about from this weekend, but for now I'm still short on time, so I will leave you with this cute baby pic of Gentry and his Clydesdale Mamma.

Baby Gentry!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

September 5, 2014

Perfect? What?

I am happy to report that the pre-purchase exam went swimmingly! I was prepared for something to be off, and wasn't expecting a perfect exam. Given that I wasn't buying a horse to be a high level performance horse, I wasn't too worried about it if something did come up either. Quite frankly, I've never had a horse vet "perfect" before (I didn't do a PPE with Rose, I imagine she would have been perfect though). My vet was quite happy with Gentry, and thinks he will be a great horse for our needs. That being a fun baby project for me in the mean time, with the goal of doing lower level dressage and jumping up to 2'6"ish, and eventually being a horse that Hubs and Junior can ride and that anyone can hop on when they come to visit. My vet's only word of caution was that, with all draft breeds and drafts crosses, one should expect that in old age (20's) ring bone is likely to occur.

Because we all like video's, here is one clip of his left front flex. I just love his tail and squishy behind. On a side note though, don't you love our house color? I cannot wait to get that painted!

Ever so pleased with the results of the PPE, I let the seller know the good news right away, and that I would get back to her with a final answer regarding the trial soon. Of course I instantly had an urge to tell her I was keeping him, but I contained myself, in an effort for once in my life to not be completely impulsive. I guess you could say Hubs has slowly rubbed off on me after eight years.

I just want a little more time to play around with him and ride him some more before making a final decision, as I didn't want to longe or ride him prior to the exam. Right after the exam, I did just that. The longe session went well. He started listening to me right away and really worked hard to figure out what I expected of him. Since everyone longes just a little differently, and I'm fairly certain he's never had a longeing cavesson on before, I expected that. I was really please by how quickly he figured things out. Then I adjusted my dressage bridle down to it's smallest holes (he has a much smaller head than Rose did) threw on my dressage saddle and I hopped on for a quick ride.

Quick it was. It lasted about two minutes, because just after I hopped on the asphalt guy showed up to sealcoat our driveway and started up his blower (to blow off all the driveway crud). I think Gentry would have been fine with the noise, but I didn't want to push it, so I hopped off and decided we would have our first ride later or another day. Later didn't happen, today didn't happen, but I am hoping that will be tomorrow. It didn't happen last night as Junior got sick and I spent my night sleeping with a 27lb toddler in a very uncomfortable chair in his room.

Note to all prospective mothers out there, I don't care how ugly they may be, but do yourself a favor and go buy the biggest most comfortable lazy boy recliner for your kid's nursery. You will thank me a million times over. I daydream about them now, but at his age and with no other kids planned, it's hard to justify the cost right now. 
Seriously, I dreamt about this baby all night long! Why brown velour? Not sure. But that's what I think of when I think of lazy boy recliners.

That brings us to this evening. I was hoping for a ride, but sadly I had no childcare today and the darn sun is setting sooner and sooner. However, I did have a half-hour of daylight left once Hubs got home tonight to go play with Gentry. I groomed him up, longed him for 20 minutes, and then decided to sus out the purported fly spray issue. I found my old spray bottle and filled it with water. I figure if I am training him to tolerate spray, no sense in wasting fly spray in the process.

I grabbed a handful of cookies, untied Gentry, and had him stand for me. I started by letting him sniff the bottle, which he quickly determined was not made of nor contained cookies. Then I started spraying it off the the side pointed away from him. He flicked an ear, but did not really react. Then I sprayed his front hoof and slowly moved up his leg onto his shoulder and neck. He was slightly concerned at first, but as soon as he got a "good boy" and a cookie shoved in his face he was completely complacent with the whole thing. I moved slowly over his whole body repeating the same process and was able to spray him entirely. I completely determined that he is a keeper for sure. Now just to get on him for an actual ride!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

September 3, 2014

Getting to Know You

I am happy to report that Gentry has settled right in. He's figuring out the new routine, and seems quite happy with it, despite being all alone at the moment. However, he's not completely alone as I discovered last night. Because I am neurotic, of course I worried about him non-stop his first night with us. I think I did about three night checks before I finally went to bed.

When I went out for the last check, around 10pm, I heard a squeal as I walked to the barn. My first thought was that Gentry got caught up in something. I have no idea what that something could be, as his pen is pretty much bomb proof, but nonetheless my mind went there. What did I find? A perfectly intact horse making friends with three horses that live caddy-corner to us. In the three weeks we've lived here I have never once seen a horse in that pasture. I had no idea there were horses there at all. So, he sort of has some buddies to whinnie at across the field. I am glad, as I feel terrible for him that he is all alone right now. Soon I will have to find a boarder or two...but that is a whole other topic.

Today my nanny was scheduled to come out in the afternoon, so I took advantage of my non-existant light work load at the moment, and decided to spend some hands on time with Gentry. I wanted to see just how he reacted to all the basics. First up was tying. I was told that he tied with no issues. Regardless, just the thought of it caused my blood pressure to go through the roof and I had horrible flashbacks from when I first started training Rose to tie. I am fairly certain I have PTSD from Rose as a youngster. Clinical PTSD. I briefly considered searching through my tack to find a blocker tie ring, but stopped myself. I took a moment to gather myself, put my big girl panties on and tied him with a slip knot to a darn post. I backed away ten feet ready for all hell to break loose.

He stood there looking at me like I was an idiot. He wasn't wrong.

What are you looking at?

Gentry ties. Like an angel. My blood pressure dropped and I went about grooming the little man. He likes grooming and he's good about his feet. I also took a moment to roughly measure him with my tape, which did not bother him in the least. My rough measurements put him at 15.15hh and 1100lbs. I will measure him again tomorrow with the vet, and also try and do a more accurate heart girth weight calculation.

But I digress, after assessing that Gentry has the basics down I decided to see how he'd react to more things. I threw Rose's old rain sheet on him. The red and black looked smashing, and he didn't care about it in the least. Excellent! Then I decided to see how he would do with clippers. I pulled out my handy battery powered clippers and let him sniff them. Then I turned them on and rubbed the vibraty handle all over him. He remained chill the whole time. Then I just went for it and clipped his bridle path and long ear hairs and some goat hairs. He stood nice and quiet like a gentleman. I was so pleased with him that I then proceeded to stuff about a hundred treats in his mouth.

He didn't complain.

The only thing that I purposefully did not expose him to was fly spray. The seller told me he doesn't like it, so I felt there was no reason to go there just yet while we are still getting to know each other. There will be time for that.

After our rather awesome get to know you grooming session, I decided to do a little in hand work on the lead line. I had him do some walk/halt/back transitions to get him tuned in to me, and then we worked on trotting in hand. He struggled with that a bit last weekend, so I wanted to work on it a bit before the pre-purchase exam tomorrow since the vet will be flexing and trotting him during the exam. He caught on very quickly and was very attentive to my body language and respectful of my space. I gave him about a million scratches and then reluctantly left him and headed back to the house to do some real "work" before my nanny left for the day.

I am smitten with this face!
So far Gentry has really started to win over my heart. I am looking forward to the vet check tomorrow, and really hope that nothing big and unexpected shows up. After the vet check I plan on longing and riding him if I can find the time. The one thing I took away from spending time with him today, is that this horse could be really good for my heart.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

September 1, 2014

No Rest on this Labor Day

I have some exciting news. We decided to buy the little guy that I tried out this weekend while we were at our lake house on vacation. He will arrive tomorrow evening, and we have a one week trial period during which I will have my vet come check him out. Assuming no crazy health issues are present, and he doesn't suddenly have a personality shift, he will be staying with us for good!

Although I didn't fully intend to buy a horse this weekend, I did go as a serious buyer, because I don't appreciate tire kickers so I certainly don't want to be one. I went armed with all the info the seller gave me plus I had watched his video (see below) about a million times. If all was as described, he seemed like he was definitely worth checking out.

After a short little 30 minute drive, I rolled up to the seller's property with a friend and her niece for company. I am glad I did too, because there was no cell phone service there. Safety first! To our delight the seller also owns a distillery whose tasting room was on site. They make some tasty beverages, one of which is a gin called Show Pony. With a name like that, you know I didn't go home empty handed!

Once we arrived I watched the seller longe him, at my request, because I wanted to see what kind of longe training he had and to see him move without anyone on him. I snapped the photo below right after his longe, which is why it is not a great photo. Despite the fact that he does have a shorter neck, it is not nearly as short as it looks in this photo. Overall he had pretty decent conformation and surprisingly uses his hind end quite well. After that I had her ride him (bareback no less) and then I tacked him up I hopped on.
Everyone, meet Gentry
He is very comfy, and is definitely green. Apparently he had 30 days training this past April, and aside from a half dozen (walking) trail rides, hasn't been in work all summer. Despite the greenness, he's got his w/t/c down and was surprisingly flexible and nicely uphill and soft in the mouth. He is a really easy going guy and definitely has a husband horse/kid horse personality and was quiet and safe on the ground while we were with him. However, he needs a lot more training before I would feel comfortable just letting a beginner take the reins.

He is 15.2h (yet to be verified but seems about right), six years old, and is a clydesdale / thoroughbred cross. Although he's not registered as anything, the seller does have papers from his breeder, so that is a nice bonus to be able to verify his age. I like the fact that he was started later, as it is good for their joints and back, so that's not an issue at all. I think he will be a fun project for me while he gets mileage and then I do anticipate he is going to be a great all around family horse for Hubs, Junior, and family/friends to hop on for a little trail ride when they come to visit.

Now, with the help of several good friends and Hubs,  we are furiously finishing up our fencing project and anxiously awaiting his arrival!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!


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