Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Fun With Mats

Small Thing has an obnoxious habit of flipping the end of the stall mat over and standing on it, so he can whiffle up the bits of hay underneath. This would be fine, except that eventually the mat cracks and then the end breaks off. Due to his ministrations, I now have eight stall mats with ragged ends ranging from a corner missing, to nearly half of it snapped off.

This is why he can't have nice things.

His shelter had broken pieces of mat around the outside, and a bare-dirt depression in the middle where he stands to eat. During rain events the depression would turn into a pond, necessitating me brooming the water out. So it was time for a makeover.

We added railroad ties around the outside and fetched a pickup truck-load of roadbase rock. The result was a clean flat surface for him to frolic on. I re-added two of the biggest broken mats in the corner he tended to poop in mostly, for easy cleaning.

The new digs worked beautifully. They got a little soggy the time we got 6" of rain, but I can live with that. But then I noticed that the sogginess wasn't going away, and realised that he'd started to pee in his shelter.

Now ST pees a lot - and by a lot, I mean at times it has worried me. But he pees clear, so there's not much odor associated with it. But it does make a soggy mess. A soggy mess that was never drying out.

I added some strips of broken stall mat to the middle of the shelter in the hope that it would discourage the activity, but he just moved 2 ft to the right.

Clearly he was going to need proper stall mats - at least in that area - to completely curtail the habit.

Knowing the rain was coming in tonight, I needed to get the mats in place this morning, so yesterday morning pft followed me to Echo Valley on my way to work, so I could pick out the mats I wanted. This didn't go super-smoothly due to the truck battery being totally dead for some unknown reason, but we jumped it and got over to Auburn.

Fast Forward to today, with me needing to wrestle the mats in place before I left for work.

First of all, I had pft back the truck as close as he could so I wouldn't have to lug them too far. This didn't go super-smoothly either, since the space we're working with is very narrow. We managed to get the truck in OK to unload, but predictably, on the way out, the front wheel slid on the dew-wet grass and dumped it into the drainage ditch. 15 minutes of engineering-with-railroad ties later, we got it out again. Those RR ties are so versatile for all kinds of things, but damn they're heavy.

Took one of the new dimpled mats and swapped it with a flat, slippery one in Uno's stall. His shelter has a slightly sloped floor that can get quite exciting in the wet and I'm hoping this will help prevent him from doing the splits. I need to re-engineer the floor in there - at the very least dump in a load more rock to level up the slope some.

ST's space got the flat mat from Uno's shelter, plus one of the new ones, artfully arranged so they weren't near his eating area in a tempting-to-flip-over fashion.

We're due another 5" or so of rain over the next few days, so we'll see how well the area holds up with the changes we made today.

Certainly Small Thing seems to like them - pft took this from the house this afternoon. He titles this "Small Evil Satan" (as opposed to the usual "Baby Jesus" tag):

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Plans (with a small p) for 2017

It's that time of year again, when energy levels are so low that you can't actually accomplish anything, so spend your time planning things you could accomplish if perchance that enthusiasm should return.

During my daily mucking sessions (when I do my best thinking), I was musing on the regular thought that none of us are getting any younger. Roo will be 17 during this coming ride season, Uno and Hopi 16, with Fergus being 15. Small Thing brings up the rear at 12. Having extra horses is my insurance for when the current Worker Bee gets broken. This only works, of course, when they do break, and thankfully we haven't been in that position recently, so I have the dubious pleasure of having more horses than time to ride, so have to prioritize. This is the plan for this year:

Roo - Decade Team

Other than getting a single 50 on Roo this coming season to officially cement our Decade Team standing, I don't have any big goals for him.

The plan is to to take both him and Fergus to NV Derby and do both days since it was so much fun last time (not)(fun times juggling screaming horses during vet checks in camp).

To get him fit I suspect much of his conditioning will be at the end of a lead rope, as I prepare Fergus for his first ride of the year at 20MT, but it has worked before and is fun to take both of them out as a gang.

Small Thing - Tahoe Rim Ride 

Thursday afternoon, I got the news that Small Thing and I had a place in the Tahoe Rim Ride at the end of next August. I've done this ride three times (on Roo - it's his best ride), crewed/volunteered twice, and figured it would be an excellent trail for Small Thing - tight and twisty with very few "big trot" sections ("big trot" being something he doesn't really have in his repertoire). This does mean I've got my work cut out for us, getting him ready, and I have no idea if he's capable of 50 miles - the furthest we've ever gone is 21 miles on the CA Loop - but it's this sort of push that I need to actually do something constructive with him, instead of putzing around.

Fergus - 100s

As always, Fergus forms the core of my endurance goals. Having him means I can pick things I want to do, rather than having to limit the goal to the horse's capability. Of course I'll willingly do that if necessary - see above - but the freedom of being able to chose what I want to do is something cherished and never taken for granted. Fergus is such an outstanding horse and with our time clock ticking, I want to do as much with him while I still can.

What has always excited me the most is doing 100s, so that's a big part of next year's plan with four 100s scheduled.

A fun thing to do at the beginning of the year is see what's available and see how it fits together - and it looks like the rides I hope to do with Fergus slot together beautifully, giving him plenty of time between each one:
  • 25 February - 20 Mule Team 100
    (5 weeks)
  • April 1 - NV Derby - Fergus
  • April 2 - NV Derby - Roo
    (5 weeks)
  • 6 May - Duzen Doozie 100
    (5 weeks)
  • 10 June - NASTR 75
    (4 weeks)
  • 7-8 July - Tevis Educational Ride - Fergus as a Mentor?
    (4 weeks)
  • 5 August - Tevis
    (3 weeks - Tahoe Rim with Small Thing)
    (6 weeks)
  • 16 September - Virginia City 100 (and hopefully a Triple Crown Completion)