Category Archives: horse

Grizzly Rock Screen

Ever since we moved in, we have been working to improve our horse riding arena.  We have spent some unknown number of hours using pitchforks and just our hands picking up the rocks out of the arena.  Last year, we added 50 tons of sand, but that didn’t really take care of getting rid of all the rocks baseball size and below.  Frequently, I use the york rake to condition the arena, and create nice rows of rocks to pick up.  Of course, I always end up with some larger piles of rocky sand/soil mix that we have to sort through by hand. There are a lot of things you can buy to expedite this process, but they are REALLY expensive.

Finally, we decided it was time to build our own Grizzly Rock Screen.

I was able to get the expanded metal mesh panels for the screen from Mid Town Steel.  CAUTION: the panels are EXTREMELY sharp.  I sliced open a finger just touching the surface.  Research indicated a 45 degree angle was the ideal angle. The initial design I had planned was going to have the front edge about 2 feet high and put a piece of the screen as a front wall.  I decided to build the frame out of treated lumber since a metal frame was going to cost me about $350 in steel plus the cost of a welder.  While I am looking for a good project to justify the welder purchase, I decided not keep this simple.

Assembly revealed 2 faults with the design.   If the front is 2′ high, and the screen is 8′ at a 45 degree angle, the back is about 8′ high.  No problem since my tractor bucket can just clear 8′.  Now my math skills were able to figure all that out on the engineering plans.  However, actually testing the design after assembly revealed that when the bucket of your tractor goes over something at max height, dumping the contents becomes a problem because there isn’t enough clearance below the bucket.

So after so disassembling, we started design #2.  The second design had the front edge directly on the ground and the back legs about 6′ high.  Much easier and MUCH more stable.  The elevated design was very unstable and probably would have collapsed under the first load of dirt.

As indicated in the pictures, I moved the Grizzly to the arena and gave it a test with a pile I had been collecting in the middle of the arena. If I ever build another, I won’t bother having the expanded metal panels cut; just build the angled bed 8′ square.  This will give more room for the 5’6″ bucket under the bed for scooping out the cleaned soil/sand.

While the rock side does build up on the bed and limit the amount that can be processed before clearing the output, it is a significant time saver.  The screened sand/soil is clear of everything 1/2″ and larger.  Looks like I need to fill up the tractor and spend a few hours in the arena!


Musical horses?

This week has involved a number of horse rides, but few on the normal mount pairings. On Monday, I did a trail ride with the kids – Alex on Devil, Vicki on Precious, and Amanda with me on King. Tonight, I went for a run with Amanda in the jogging stroller and came home to Vicki trotting around bareback, Alex riding King, and Anna on Precious. Amanda actually is happy riding with anyone that will let her up, and Alex thinks it is tons of fun to ride with his little sister. When they were on King together, no matter how much Alex kicked, King wouldn’t move until I let him know it was OK to walk around.

I guess it’s good to build confidence on different horses!

Farewell to Turbo

Today Turbo left us. While we still had longer we could keep him on trial, there were a few specific issues that led us to realize he wasn’t the right long term horse. For now, instead of seeking a new horse, we are going to ride King and focus on more lessons for Rob on advanced school horses.

Just another non-stop weekend building and improving the farm

Since the base was having a “big drill” last week, the Nautilus Museum was closed Thursday and Friday so I had the day off.  Of course, we are always behind on the list of farm projects, so it seemed like a great time to catch up (a little).  In fact, I have yet to meet a farmer who feels everything is just right and caught up on their farm…

The biggest project for the weekend was goat fencing.  I hired 2 high schoolers to work for me Thursday, Friday, and Saturday because I needed the extra hands.  My neighbor Tim has a large backhoe that he brought down to remove a couple of stumps for me.  After that, I put up 1 long stretch of fence to create a corridor between the horses and goats.  Now we can easily go back and forth across the bottom of the property.  Of course, that 12′ wide by 180′ long corridor can also be used as a grazing area for ponies, calf, etc.  Then I built a fully contained by field fence kid area inside the goat pen.  I’ll explain why.

When a doe has kids, the kids get all of momma’s milk for the first 2 weeks.  After that, we start to isolate the kids at night so we can milk the doe in the morning.  For Betty’s kids, we just locked them in the kidding stall at night.  However, since Maggie is due this week, we needed a better/larger solution.  Now, our 30’x30′ kid pen can be used as the overnight isolation area.  I’m sure it will get lots of other use too.

As I have discussed before, we like to recycle as much as possible.  I have previously posted about recycling pallets into goat shelters and chicken coops.  Last week when I went to get another load of pallets, I found out the moving company that supplies us is going out of business.  Bad news for them, but good for us because they are emptying out their warehouses.  That means I was able to get 4’x4′ wood crates and 7’x7′ shipping crates.  Add a recycled door, and what do you have?  How about a storage shed for the rabbitry.  Now all of the rabbit supplies, feed, hay, etc are conveniently located next to the cages (it just needs some paint).

Of course, we had people coming and going all weekend.  Some were here to buy chicks, while other were just here to meet us or catch up.  For example, we placed an ad in the North Stonington Bulletin Board classifieds.  Some neighbors a couple of miles away saw the ad and found our page.  It turns out they have a very similar mindset with slightly different focus.  Check out this blog to learn more about Morning Star Meadows Farms and their Icelandic Sheep!  You can also see what other blogs we like on the right side of our home page.

And there was one other little thing.  Turbo.  We were waiting to get serious about finding a new horse for me until we placed Cinder in a new home.  Well, on Wednesday Cinder went to a new home.  On Friday, I test rode Turbo.  And Sunday morning, I brought him home on a 30 day trial.  I never have been very patient.  Vicki approves.

It’s good to be crazy.

Meet Turbo!

Only 4 days after Cinder went to his new home, we have the barn filled again. Turbo (SF Galaxy Quest) is an 11 year old, 16.1h National Show Horse (1/2 Saddlebred 1/2 Arabian). His color is Seal Brown and he is already barefoot.
After a short test ride on Friday, I was hooked. We have him on a 30 day trial period to make sure it works out. He has the get up and go that I love, is very responsive under saddle, and has jumping experience. He just didn’t bond with the previous owner. Looks like I found my show horse!

Cinder has a new family

Today we had a woman who lives only a few miles away come and meet Cinder.  She understands the possibly issues with his legs and has decided she would like to have him on her farm.  She is very experienced with horses and has 2 other horses already.  Since we felt comfortable with her knowledge and experience, we have agreed to give her Cinder.  After 11 years in our family, Cinder will move to a new family on Wednesday afternoon.

Relaxing trail ride

This afternoon the temps were in the low 50s so I saddled up King, Alex got Precious, and Vicki prepped Devil. The 3 of us went out for a 45min trail ride. What made this ride different is we went exploring on new trails the horses had not seen and to get there, we have to walk 1/2 mile of road.

The ponies did great along the road. Vicki was a little nervous during the ride, but Devil wasn’t. Better than the other way around.

Along the trail, we came to a water crossing. After a little initial refusal, King finally decided it was safe to cross. Both ponies crossed without a care.

Then we rode around some open fields. King was full of spunk, so we did some cantering circles and a little galloping across the fields while the ponies walked the edges. Alex and Precious did a little trot work, but Vicki decided to just walk (Devil was fine with that).

In the end, it was a great confidence booster for the kids and reaffirms that we have excellent ponies.