Friday, October 30, 2015

Trailer Maintenance

My trailer hanging out in the shop.

At last month's show, my trailer brake controller quit working on me.  Of course it did this the morning of a show.  I hooked up my trailer and noticed my trailer brake controller wasn't on.  The lights on my trailer were all on, but just not the brake controller.  I've had the Beast for over four years now and not once has the trailer brake controller given me an issue, or any indication it was about to have an issue.  It has always worked great.  Awesome timing.

I unplugged it and sprayed some WD-40 on the plug and connector, nothing.  I turned the controller all the way up to see if maybe it was just the light that was burnt out, not likely with an LED.  No luck, I couldn't get the trailer to lock up the brakes, the controller was really not on.  I also had a theory that maybe because it was so wet out that morning that a connection had gotten wet somewhere and going down the road would dry it off and solve my problem.  I had about 15 minutes to make a decision.  Go, or stay.  And here is where my requirements for the Beast came to the rescue.  When I was truck shopping I was 110% sure I wanted a manual truck.  It took me a couple months to find the right one, but the Beast is a six speed manual.  I wanted it for a couple reasons. 

In New Mexico there was an extremely steep mountain pass we had to go up and down on a regular basis.  You see the nose of your truck pointing at the sky coming up to the summit then you immediately tip over the top and see the valley floor below. 

 The view coming over the top of it on our way to Las Cruces.  If I wanted to ride XC or take dressage lessons this was the only way to do it there.

 You can see some of the highway directly ahead, it was pretty much straight down from this point.  On the other side you could see out over White Sands Missile Range for MILES.

Speaking of, you know the runaway blimp?  Coming home over the mountain pass I would ALWAYS see this one at White Sands as soon as we came over the pass.

That thing was STEEP, and long.  It would get closed in bad weather, there were always disabled vehicles on either side of it.  It left a trail of destruction every time I drove it.  The disabled vehicles would either be overheating or their brakes were burning up (cars, semis, etc...).  As much as I wish the Beast had a jake brake, it doesn't (some 2500's DO have them, but they're rare).

What the Beast does have is six gears, letting me have the ability to down shift it to 5th and let it go down the pass, enabling me to rarely have to touch the brakes.  I know you can downshift automatics, but...what happens if you blow up your automatic transmission?  You're stuck.  If something happens to a manual it most likely loses a gear.  No problem, skip that gear and go to the next, you can atleast get your rig to a safe stopping point if need be.  But what if you lose your clutch?  You can shift a lot (if not all) manuals without a clutch if you just hit a certain rpm.  Again, not stuck.  But what if you have US Rider and they can come rescue you (I have them too)?  Well, what if you are in the hot ass New Mexico desert with no shade, horses in the trailer, and US Rider saying they're two hours away from you because of your location.  I'd rather just have that option to limp the truck and trailer somewhere that I can wait for them that is not on the side of a hot desert highway with no shade for miles.  Border patrol stations were never far on the highways of New Mexico and they have a BIG overhang they make you pull over under, I know because they make you stop under it so they can look in your trailer for illegals.

I try to be as proactive as possible.  Anyway, back to my brake controller not working.  My truck doesn't know it even has a trailer on when it's empty and has almost the same feeling with Mochi in it.  We were not traveling on major highways or high traffic areas.  We were traveling on back roads with a couple cars here and there.  I decided to go and just start slowing down sooner and with down shifting I wouldn't really need my brakes too much. 

My plan worked perfectly.  If I would have felt like the trailer was pushing the truck, or it was taking too long to slow down, I would have turned around immediately.  No issues, we had a great day and a successful show.

I dropped the truck and trailer off at the shop that next week.  Since they had it I told them to just go ahead and inspect the trailer and pack the bearings while they were at it. 

Turns out my brake controller really died, so I ordered a new one and they installed it.  Also turns out that my trailer's brake shoes were cracked, so the trailer got new brakes.  When they were testing the brake controller they found some issues with the wiring.  I thought I had a light burnt out but the light wasn't the problem.  They actually had to rewire a lot of things on the trailer due to some work I had done on it previously from a non-professional source, yeah...lesson learned, even if you know someone that seems competent, just pay a professional.  The brake controller going out was actually a good thing. 

I told the shop just do whatever the trailer needed.  This shop is the same one that did the transfer case on my truck and has done great work on my Scion and one of my husband's cars.  They are an honest, hardworking group and I trust them. 

We went to pick up the truck and trailer and the lady at the front told me to please not have a heart attack when I saw the bill.  I was full expecting AT LEAST $600.  Well, I was half right.  $600 was half of the bill.  The total?  $1,217.  I had my debit card out and took a second to read the bill to see what all they had to do.  The Other Half immediately handed them his debit card while I was reading.  $600 of it was labor for chasing down the electrical demons.  Funny, because earlier just that same week a friend that used to be a mechanic told me "Oh I used to HATE working on trailers!  They're such a pain to wire!"  These guys even drew me a whole new electrical diagram for my trailer and told me to make sure I keep it in case someone else has to work on it some day.  Sure, it's $1200, but I know it's $1200 for QUALITY work that I can trust, and that's priceless when there are ponies involved.  So really, $1200 is chump change for pony safety.

 Woo hoo!  All fixed up and ready for more pony adventures!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Jumping Percheron is Now on Facebook!

I finally decided to make a page on Facebook for the blog.  I will update it with links to posts and other interesting happenings.  So, go like it and tell your friends they should too!!

Monday, October 26, 2015

October Combined Training Show - Mochi

Mochs and I had another CT show last weekend.  I entered her in the same two divisions as last month.  She had been feeling a little tense this past week, so I didn't ride the majority of the week thinking maybe she was trying to tell me she was a little sore from some mile long gallops we did the weekend prior.  I did some stretches with her every other day and, gave her a couple liniment baths hoping that would loosen her up.  The classes we were entered in were small and I didn't feel like they would be too stressful for her after a couple days off.  I got an appointment with our chiro for the following week too.  That was the soonest she'd be in our area.

I was trying to channel my inner Laine for the day.

 The road to this place just kills me every time.  I hate it.  It's SO tiny with lots of blind hills.  Any other way I would go would add too much time to the drive to be worth it.  This farm is already an hour and forty five minutes away.

 Gahh!!  I hate it!  Nothing makes you want to soil yourself like coming over a blind hill with a truck and trailer and someone coming up the other side in the middle of the road thinking they are the only person out there.  Come on people...

I already knew it was going to be hot that day, but...we ended up hanging around in the warm up for dressage for an hour and a half before we rode our tests.  Right as I was about to go ask how many more riders we had in front of us I over heard the ring steward say something about the ring running really behind.  Immediately after that I found out we had at least six rides in front of us, this was after warming up for about 20 minutes.  I asked the ring steward if she knew what happened earlier that put everything so far behind and she said that it was already behind when she got there. 

In hindsight, I should have just taken Moch back to the trailer for a while.  I am just paranoid something will happen where we come up sooner than expected and miss our time.  We walked around the warm up and stood and watched some of the other riders.  It was hot.  Moch was being a good sport.  It was in the mid 80's and sunny, and there is no shade in the warm up. 

She warmed up nicely.  She was relaxing and giving me some nice transitions.  Those couple days off were probably what she needed.  I felt confident she was feeling fine.

Finally it was our time to ride our first test.  Mochs was a little tense but I can't blame her.  I expected it a little bit after the previous week.  She also had been standing around in the sun for over an hour by this point.  After our first ride, thankfully, we had only two riders until our next ride.  In we went again and this time she was a little more resistant.  I didn't really care at that point.  I still gave my best effort while riding, but I knew it wouldn't be our best, and that was just fine.  We were hot, I knew I was already getting sun burnt, and I was starving.  So if that's how I felt, it's fair to say Mochs was probably expressing the fact that she was over it.  I'm not blaming the show one bit.  These things happen at shows, and I could have taken my horse back to my trailer for a while, but I didn't. 

Surprisingly, our scores weren't as bad as I thought they may be.  We scored a 36.25 and a 38.75.  Really, I would like us to at least be in the low 30's.  Last month she scored a 32.81 and a 34.69.  I would have been happy with that again.  Though we did have some nice movements and she did score another 8 on her halt in the second test.  She got a couple 7.5's as well.  The judge also wrote "really cute horse" on one test and "adorable horse" on the other.  Her comments were mostly about needing to relax over her back, which was absolutely 150% fair and accurate.  I think the chiro appointment tomorrow will help that and we'll be ready to go for the next show in two weeks.

After we came out of the ring for our second test a lady stopped me and told me what a great little horse she was and asked if she was all App or if she was crossed with something else.  That was a nice compliment.  I think she's a fancy little horse myself.  That's my non-biased opinion of course. 

Since everything was behind schedule, we walked back to the trailer, I gave Moch an apple, I ate my sandwich, got some water, changed tack, apologized to Moch for her not getting more of a break, and headed to the warm up for stadium.  At least by this point some clouds had rolled in too.

She warmed up very nicely for stadium.  Again, people were asking me why she isn't in a higher class with the way she's jumping, which is like 2ft higher than anything we jumped that day.  I told them the same thing as before, mentally she is at this height, once I can get her more organized around the course we'll enter higher classes.

Stadium warm up with a skeleton horse for the Halloween themed show.

Our course.

When we went in the ring Moch pricked her ears once and I thought it was at some brush at the ground line of one of the fences.  She didn't take anymore notice than that.  She was a handful but she did great in both rounds.  She was double clear on both rounds this time too.  At the show last month we had a rail in one of our rounds. 

 The stadium ring, notice the white pole directly in the center of this picture.  The first fence is the second fence in from the left side of this picture.

We watched a couple more rounds then I went to untack, hose her off, and give her a granola bar.  I brought her back with me to hand graze by the stadium ring to watch some more jumper rounds.  

While watching the rest of the rounds a trend started appearing.  The majority of the horses were freaking out about that pile of standards and rails in the far corner of the ring.  Some didn't want to walk by it and others slammed on the brakes at the first fence.  I became even more proud of my little pony.  She didn't look twice at any of that stuff or so much as hesitate to any of the fences.  

 A zoomed in picture of the monster in the corner.

 We won both of our divisions.  Though our competition was getting the bell wrung on them in the dressage ring, I genuinely felt bad for that.  No one wants to see that happen to anyone.  I feel like we won on the misfortune of others yesterday.  This show made Mochs eligible for the championships, so, we will be attending for both of our divisions.  Klein is eligible too for the Training CT division (USEA Training Level Dressage and 3'3" stadium), so I think The Odd Couple will make an appearance together.  It's been a while since I've taken them out together. 

It worked!

As for my lack of pictures from this show, The Other Half had a work obligation and couldn't attend.  He won't be able to go to the next one either and I fully plan on bribing a kid with $20 to take some video!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

My Horse Hubby aka The Other Half

 Hanging out with Wes.

My Horse Hubby makes occasional guest appearances on the blog, he is affectionately referred to as "The Other Half."  He is not only my other half, but my better half.  Let's take some time to take a closer look at The Other Half.

When we first met, I warned him up front what he was about to get himself into, it's only fair, and it didn't make him run away.  He was also informed that the horses were there first and they will not be going anywhere, AND if Klein didn't approve of him, he had no business sticking around.  Luckily, and oddly enough, Klein immediately acknowledged his existence and she lets him hang all over her.  She is so not a people horse.  You are something special if she takes any sort of interest in you.


He is such a good sport that when we met, there were two there's three, and he is still here!  He HELPED bring Wes home.  Does that make him an enabler?

Real Name:  Shane

When Not Busy Being a Horse Hubby You Will Find Him:  Working on his '73 Dodge Dart Sport or catching terrorists and other criminals.

Height:  18.3 hands

Favorite Thing to do With the Horses:  Walkabouts on the trails, or sharing snacks.

 Taking Mochs on an adventure.

 Sharing a carrot with Mochs.

Taste testing a Himalayan salt block.

Giving Wes a granola bar.  He keeps them stocked up with granola bars by ordering them a bunch of boxes of 96 granola bars off Amazon.  They never run out.

Can be Found at Horseshows:  Napping with the ponies at the trailer or...sharing snacks, or being my camera man.


Told you.

Funny story about snacks at horse shows...while at a show last month he thought it would be a great idea to get a meatball sub, and then offer some to Mochi.  Of course Mochi would want some, she's a foodie.  I was NOT happy when I caught him trying to give my horse that I was showing that day a piece of MEATBALL sub!  Hello!  Spaghetti sauce on pony's face, me wearing white breeches.  What was he THINKING?!  I made him wipe her face off with a napkin.

 And he tells ME I put Klein on a pedestal?  He takes her around at shows and bends branches down on trees that she likes to eat.  Best horse dad ever!

 Holding Klein so I can get my ribbons after our last round for the day.  Klein isn't thrilled because the roles are reversed, the horse waiting on the human.  She fully believes it should never be in that order.

Least Favorite Thing About Horseshows:  Little brats that "look down" on him from their horse or pony despite him being the same height as them ON their horse.

Super Power:  He can do EXCELLENT free hand clips!

No Matter What Barn We Go To (shows, clinics, etc...):  Every animal at the place will flock to him.

Despite just having shoulder surgery, he had the old guys back in five minutes after they decided to sneak out for some fun one day.

Permanently in Charge of:  Pony security.

Cottonmouth!  No but really, he chopped this one's head off.  The others have been shot.

I Know He Doesn't Like it, But He Does it Anyway:  Loading ponies early in the morning for clinics, shows, etc...

4:30am and 31 degrees.  But he was there by my side making sure I had everything and I was on my way before 5am for a fun clinic weekend out of town.

Best Trick:  Don't feed him, then take him to a tack store while he's hangry.  He will buy me things like Back on Track no bows to get me out of the store faster, which means he gets fed faster.

If He Gets an Attitude:  I turn him out with the mares.

When He's Been Really Good:  Mochi and I take him to the beach.

I Can Always Count on Him to:  Help with anything no matter if it's fixing fences, holding horses for the farrier, or feeding because I am stuck in court at work.

Jogging Wes for the farrier.

I get random selfies when he feeds.

This guy...he puts up with a lot of stuff, I don't know where he came from, or how I got this lucky, but I wouldn't trade him for anything!


Do any of you regularly read the Horse Hubby blog?  If you don't you should, it's hilarious!  It is authored by Timothy Harfield, International Event Rider (one of my favorite riders) and Mustang Advocate Elisa Wallace's husband.  Horse Hubby is having a calendar contest, which I am entering The Other Half in.  I will post the link when voting opens so you guys can all go vote for The Other Half!!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

More Gymnastics

 My Klein baby doing what she does over 3'3".  *Le Sigh*

The gymnastics continued this week.  I left the bounce in the line but then put three ground rails to a vertical which I later changed to an oxer.  It actually started as a 3'3" oxer because I rode Klein first that day.  One day, Mochi will be ready for 3'3" on the end of a line, and then alone.  She has the potential for it, but she has a lot to learn.  But when that day comes, it's going to be a lot of fun!

I had The Other Half come and take video this time.  He was a good sport and was my jump crew/cameraman.

Klein was feeling a little short through the line and then after we were done it hit me, the ground rails were set at 10' and so was the bounce because I had it set for Mochi the other day!!!  Oops!  Klein just adjusted herself and adapted, because she's awesome like that.  Never touched a thing.  I felt slightly like an idiot.  I have them closer than they should be for Mochs not because they are little, but to keep her from getting strung out.  You can see it in her video, she is slightly excited and can end up freight training through a line.  The closer rails help her keep it together a little more.  I will put everything at a normal 12' stride once she gets a little better.

 Pony Game Face = On.

 Is this even the same pony I bought?!?!

 Mochs' form over fences continues to improve.  The bar is set high with Klein.  Klein has always just had this freakish near perfect form over fences.  Gymnastics are helping Mochi to learn to use her body properly.  They are really making a huge difference in her.  Want to see how she looked the first time I jumped her after I bought her?

 ...awkward...  Remember I said she looked like the knight from a chess set?  Also, just look at the pic of her over the xc fence in my blog, those knees are improving.

Now check her out!  Go Mochs!

I am pretty sure that ramped oxer was up to 2'9" when I decided that was good for the day.  I rrrreally wanted to keep raising it, but I just don't feel like she is ready quite yet.

Here's the video of a couple lines from that day:

And back to my beauty queen.  Look at that face, she knows she a princess.

Klein was great that day.  She is feeling awesome and still sweating 100% normally.  It is cooling off here but we are still in the 80's almost daily.

Looking forward to getting back to the progress we were making before summer took over with bugs and anhidrosis.  Klein is happy to be back in regular work.

Here is some video also from Sunday: 

The mares have also been putting in some awesome dressage work.  Klein worked hard on her travers this week and this evening Mochs really gave 100% to improving her shoulder-in.  I have been riding bareback this week, working on dressage things.  Sometimes I feel like they learn better or I can reinforce new things better bareback.  It might not work for everyone, but it works well for us! 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Gymnastic Pony

She puts up with my stupid human ideas, like laying on her in the pasture while she wanders around.

Lately I have been teaching Mochi new gymnastics.  I had schooled her through a couple lines when I first got her but nothing since then until the past two months.  I'm 99% sure these are the first gymnastics she's ever seen in her life, and that's too bad because gymnastics are such a great training tool.

Since we have been working over ground rails she has become more comfortable and there's no rushing.  I have laid canter poles out too in preparation for bounces or one strides.  Last month I introduced her to a one stride with cross rails and let her get comfortable with that.  Now that she is super familiar with ground rails in front and behind jumps, in a line, and with verticals I set up a line of little verticals for her last week.  The first time through she nailed it.  The second time she started to add strides.  I have a video of her adding strides.  I put my leg on more to keep that from happening and she flowed through the line of one strides again with no issues.  I didn't get a video of that because it was too dark by then, since iPhones suck at taking video in low light.  I barely got the one of her adding strides.

 The line of verticals set at one stride each.  I set them up earlier in the day, then rode that evening, that's why this pic is so bright and the video and other pic are darker.

 Good pony!

Here's the video of her adding the strides:

After she did so well with that I decided to modify the line a little bit this week and put a bounce on the front of it.  I forgot to take a pic of that line this evening but it was bounce, one stride, vertical, one stride, vertical.  The video from this evening is of the last vertical in the line.

At first she was definitely thrown off with the bounce.  I started with her just going through the bounce and cantering ground poles set at 11ft then raised the first vertical.  When it was the bounce to one vertical she was thrown off but still went through the line, though it was a little awkward.  It took her twice and then she nailed it.  She totally had it figured out and nailed the whole line in perfect rhythm.

I was super proud because she used her brain and didn't let her brain get the best of her.  She can get mentally wound up so easily but today that didn't happen.  This is a pony that, when I first bought her, would approach four ground rails set at the canter and canter the first, trot the second one, jump the third, and canter the fourth.  It was like she was playing hopscotch with ground rails.  Those days are gone, thankfully.

Here's the video of the last vertical in the line from this evening.  98% of the time I ride it's alone so I would have a video of the whole line if someone was there, but it was just us and my tripod, and I wanted to see how she was looking over the last vertical.

Not only is she comprehending gymnastics, she is starting to USE her neck properly.  When we first started, she would look like the knight from a chess set over fences.  Hackamore, bit, whatever, she'd still do her best impression of the knight chess piece.  Her front end still needs some work, and gymnastics are cleaning it up.  She actually snaps her knees up most of the time, I have some pics somewhere of it.  Today they're not looking as good as they could, but she still did awesome.  I couldn't have asked for any more.

Go Moch!

So, don't judge me yelling good girl in my video.  Mochs soaks up the praise so I make sure to make a big deal when she is learning something new and does a great job.  Sometimes she needs a little confidence boost so I make SURE she knows what a good pony she is.