Sunday, December 12, 2010

I Ride A Reiner! and Early Winter Projects

So I got two projects pretty well finished over the last three weekends. Plus I had a little fun!

I don't have any pictures, but Saturday afternoon a local training barn had an "Holiday Open House." High Country Training is run by a couple who moved here from the wet side of the state to slow down the pace of their lives a bit. Kim and Deb Witty bring an interesting compromise to their lives: Deb has long been in the Arab show scene, and Kim hails from a cattle ranching background. He is doing primarily working cow horse (with a little reining and cutting naturally in the mix) with mostly Quarter Horses. She still shows Arabs, but has added half-Arab reiners to her repertoire.
So their open house featured some demos, sale horses, killer chili, and the chance to "ride a reiner." Their assistant trainer Portia offered her little dun gelding, Fred, for folks to try, and I finally decided I may as well make a fool of myself, so I climbed on.
What a HOOT!
Fred was exceedingly lazy at first (I didn't have on the usual jingle-jangle western spurs that he's used to), but I still managed to get a decent lope, some spins and even a couple of sliding stops!
And I won a free lesson in the door prize drawing! If the roads stay decent, I may haul Maddie the five or so miles down the road over Christmas break to see if Deb can give me some pointers.

The rest of the weekend was spent on two projects--the last two I need to get done before winter really settles in.
I have tried, since we added the center aisle to the barn in 2006, to figure out a way to close in the east end to the weather, without closing it in permanently--I need the full 20 foot height to bring in Hank's harrowbeds loads of hay (sure beats stacking).
(This isn't my barn--it was the only photo I could find of a harrowbed unloading--5 tons at once!)

I closed in the west end in 2007 and finally got the doors hung in 2008. I'm still not quite done with the trim (after all it's just aesthetics, I've got real work to do...)
One fall I tried hanging a heavy-duty hay tarp over the east opening, by screwing through furring strips into the bottom of the roof truss and the side posts. When that simplest of systems started billowing in the wind, I added a removable framework of pieced together of 2'X4's. The very same night we had one of the worst windstorms ever, with gusts of close to 50 mph! I found the tarp, frame and all, in a heap in one of the paddocks the next morning, with horses eyeballing it suspiciously (you can see all that remains, hanging in the top corners of this photo). To say I was discouraged is an understatement! The tarp was moved to cover the hay pile (on the right, here), and the barn end stayed open for the rest of that year.
I considered using a tarp with long pockets every three feet or so, with lightweight conduit in the pockets to prevent the billowing. I got lots of ideas from perusing the Farm Tek catalog (a great resource, by the way), and was about ready to go that route.
Then this fall I spotted an ad for a "Hay Shade" from Horse Fly Net, and though their product was designed for much smaller opening, the idea of hanging the tarp from a cable system like a shower curtain, with intermediate cables to prevent billowing, took shape.
Each cable below the top one would be on a hooked-end turnbuckle, so it could be UN-hooked in June and the curtain pulled to one side for hay delivery.
I wove the tarps through the cables, because my barn is "porous" enough that if the wind blows from the west, even with the barn doors closed, I get quite a wind tunnel down the aisle. I used cheapo tarps from the hardware store this year, because I wanted to test the whole idea before investing $300 in the tarp I really wanted.
I left it tied up at one end of the run for a week, until I did the other project (creating another stall for Misty, to be blogged later).
Finally, it was time to try it out.

Even in a mild breeze you can see the tarp "leaning" against the cables.
The aisle-way will have some adjustments, to allow driving through with the tractor, while allowing minimal weather inside. For a week, we just ducked under for feeding.
And there was a glitch.
The last of the huge, heavy duty snap hooks from which the tarp is hung (think shower curtain rings) got hung up on the end of the cable where it is looped through the turnbuckle at the northeast corner. I had borrowed a 24 foot ladder for the installation of the top two cables (our rickety old extension ladder is only a 16 footer) and there was too much snow on the lower roof section for me to access the top that way (my plan for opening the curtain in the spring).
And, sure enough, the infamous Ellensburg wind came up to test my invention the very same night I got it in place!
In the morning when he fed, Al announced that the southeast corner was hanging down. On inspection through the telephoto lens, the cheapo tarp's grommet had pulled right through.
It had to stay that way until this weekend when I could borrow the tall ladder again. But I was able to fairly simply create a new attachment point (probably even stronger) and get it back in place in about 10 minutes, using a clip something like this, that I happened to have on hand. (I thought about taking that whole section of tarp all the way down and rehanging it with the rip at the bottom, but noticed that several other grommets are already working loose, so I will probably just order a bunch of the above clips from Farm Tek.
It just took a quick run up the ladder to pull the northeast snap hook over the turnbuckle and snap it to the cable anchor.Here's the arrangement I put together for the aisle-way exit. I can just get the tractor's ROPs (roll bar) under it, and Al and I don't have to duck at all when we go out to Maddie and Beth's feeder.
And not a moment too soon.
I told Lytha to keep her lovely German snow in Europe, but NO, she had to send some our way!
But this afternoon the mist dissipated, and the sun came out.


  1. Wow, what fun, I've always wanted to ride a reiner! Think I could teach Jasper to do sliding stops? Maybe not a good idea since I want him to jump. Congrats on winning the door prize, that's quite a prize!

  2. Check you out..!
    That is too cool to get to ride a reining horse!
    And you win the lesson...oooou Maddie will have fun with that!

    Neat project...though blood, sweat and tears
    were shed! Yea, we to have diverted snow everywhere

  3. How fun to get a chance to ride a reiner, i rode a pretty good one once and got me addicted, but its kinda slow, so now we are going to cutting, far from slow with some of those cows!
    That looks kinda neat way to cover in a barn end! will be interested to see if it lasts all winter.

  4. I didn't realize you were that close to Deb's place. That's pretty cool. Getting to ride a reiner sounds like fun.

    I've worked with those cheap tarps and learned about those grommets the hard way. I'm going to have to look closer at the Farm Tek catalog. I missed those things. LOL

  5. Sn*w. Bahhhhhhhh!

    (of course, if you need a little rain, we seem to have plenty around here today--the roads are flooded, and our bridge is closed until tomorrow)

  6. Your barn is huge and your project would overwhelm me I think. I bought some "profi-quality" tarps that are dead after one year of using them to cover my manure pile. If these are profi quality, I don't want to see their amateur tarps.

    Drafts. In our old stall as you know the front half was open, and there is a door on the other end, so we had drafts and even high winds in there. Two of our neighbors told us that is why my horse had eye problems last year. In Germany, there is a belief that drafts make people ill, and that having a pleasant breeze come into your home through one window and out another is deadly. Your horses are healthy, right? You have to come tell the Germans.

    Thanks for photographing your project, I love blog posts about farmwork!

    p.s. sorry about the snow!

  7. Albigears--Did I ever tell you that I thought for a while that you must be a donkey/mule person when I first found your blog? But I couldn't find anything about ALL those big ears equines... Then I realized that your screen name referred to ALEXANDRE, who must have big ears... Jasper reining. Now that would be a sight!

    Kac, I wrote that about Maddie before the snow. I may have to ride one of their trained horses after all. But I'd love to have help getting her lope evened out.

    Crystal--I can see where reining might end up seeming a bit slow. Have you thought about working cow horse? Now THAT sport MOVES!

    RR--Yah, we pass less than a quarter mile from Deb's place every day on our way out to our real jobs. Thought maybe you lived where Wittys used too, then remembered that you're an Arab person too. Half my barn (at least the non-lumber part) is from Farm Tek. Good customer service, too.

    Aarene--We've had quite enough precipitation, thank you!

    Lytha--I could see a connection between wind-blown dust and Baasha's eye problems, but I think air circulation is essential in a barn. My crew all lives out 95% of the time anyway. The barn IS huge, and not done yet: I want to add another 16 foot wind of run ins on the south side (someday). But it's taken 8 years of Allhorsestuff's "blood, sweat, and tears" to get this far... (btw, apology accepted)

  8. That is a totally fantastic Funder-esque barn end covering! I love it! Clever and cheap and effective, hooray!

    I must bookmark this Farm Tek site. I suspect I will wonder how I ever lived without them..

  9. Okay, seeing that I'm not a horse person, my first glance at the title told me that you had been riding a REINDEER!

    Your area is soooo beautiful - I love the snow-covered landscape in that last shot.

  10. The FarmTek catalog is dangerous!

    A client that has super fancy reining horses invited me to come ride a couple of them. I had so much fun! I was kind of wondering if I would stay on for the sliding stops and spins, and I'm pretty sure the trainer was wondering if the hunter/jumper gal was going to stay on as well. Thankfully I did!