DIY Jump Stick

I have been saying for the better part of the last year that I wish I had a jump measuring stick – specifically this one. Alas I don’t want to spend $75+ on a metal stick so DIY it was! Generally speaking 5′-6′ standards are the norm with 3″ spacing between pin holes. That doesn’t change the fact that my eye likes to play tricks on me. Given the minimal investment in making your own stick I decided to go for it this weekend. To make your own jump stick  you will need:

  • Measuring tape
  • 5′ PVC pipe (I chose 3/4″ diameter but you could adjust this to your preference)
  • PVC Pipe cap (optional)
  • Permanent marker or label maker
  • Electrical tape (optional)

Once you have all of the goods so to speak this process is very simple and I won’t insult anyone by explaining in detail aside from saying that if you do decide to use caps make sure you account for that when measuring. For me this worked perfectly as with both caps on from the bottom of one cap to the ridge of the other cap was 5′. I personally started by marking for the eventing heights through Advanced (HAHAHA) and then going back over them with their corresponding flag color electric tape (BN – Yellow, N – White, Training – Black, Prelim – Green, Intermediate – Red, Advanced – Blue). After that process I moved to another side and wrote down the feet in increments of 3″ and then moved to another side and wrote the corresponding meter heights. In hindsight I should have used my label maker.

It won’t work for all standards and holes because not all are the same but it should be a good base line and will hopefully help me as Annie and I start coursing over bigger fences to start to train my eye a bit better and not constantly be guessing or counting holes.

In my head this jump seemed huge (yeah I know it looks small in the pic) but thanks to the stick I knew it was just 3′. Do any of you guys have DIY measuring sticks?


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A Huey Throwback

With Huey coming back I decided to pull up some photos from our years together. Katherine is to thank for all of these I am pretty sure so thanks lady! I wish I had done a better job of keeping old pictures and organizing them better! Excited to have this cool dude coming back to me though so here’s to many more adventures and pictures.

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White On Rice

Houston has always been that one horse that I always struggled with letting go. Even when I knew we weren’t making progress or things weren’t fun in the saddle I still loved the big goober.

“Quitting” that November a few years back obviously didn’t work and here I am 3 years later about to be the owner of not one or two but THREE horses. Houston and I are like white on rice. Letting him go 2 years ago literally ripped my heart out. Then I got him back last March and was super excited. He however mentally just wasn’t up to jumping anymore. His form had drastically deteriorated (it wasn’t spectacular to start with) and he was so anxious about jumping that I made the decision to find him a dressage home. Originally I was looking for a lease but the seemingly perfect situation cropped up in a friends barn. In September Houston went to Alabama to be a dressage king – I sold him with a very clear contract that he would come back to me should anything happen.

Everyone likes to think that their horse is being sold to a forever home but here is the thing… The only forever home that you can guarantee is with yourself. Unless you are personally the one that is committing to pay for the horse until its dying days it isn’t set in stone.

On Monday Houston’s current owners let me know that for a variety of reasons Houston was no longer the right fit for their family. Only their youngest daughter wants to ride at the moment and Houston while a decent choice to be shared among the three of them isn’t the right full time mount for the tiniest of his charges. He is reportedly very good for her but she needs something more suitable to her size and that is probably a pony that will build her confidence. This left me with 2 options. Buy him back or let them sell him to someone else. Thankfully I have the best husband in the entire world. He said that Houston keeps coming back to us for a reason and we need to just get him back and commit to keeping him for the long haul. This will mean a change in my show plans for the foreseeable future as we adjust to the day to day expenses but honestly I am just happy to be getting him back home. Now everyone that is my friend needs to kick the sh*t out of me if I attempt to try this out again in the future. So not worth it!

I had already entered 2 schooling shows prior to this development and those will probably be our only adventures this spring with an aim for a rated HT sometime in the early summer maybe. We will see what the finances allow. Maybe Huey will get to go play around in the dressage court too! He should be getting delivered on Saturday. Fingers crossed it is uneventful!

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My Sidekicks

A good barn dog is a constant riding companion and friend. I wouldn’t trade Sonny or Bear for anything. It is a very rare occasion that I end up at a show or going to the barn without them. This past weekend was no exception. All of the shepherds got to go on the adventures since Katherine also has a GSD (Bears bigger older darker twin)! I have to say that traveling with them beats traveling alone any day! When you have a dog that is horse savvy, has a good recall, and sleeps in the car it is a no brainer to take them with you when you are able. 🙂Do any of you guys have furry side kicks?

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Bama and Chatt

Last week after realizing I had today off I started trying to scheme up places to take Annie to get our first XC school of the year in. One of my good friends lives in AL not too far from Chatt Hills Eventing so it was a no brainer to go there. My main goal was to get off the farm and over some novice jumps since we hadn’t schooled or run XC since Feather Creek in October. Now, I’m not a very superstitious person but I casually mentioned that I had never had my vest blow up on me… Well little did I know that was about to change.  Note to self – don’t talk about anything negative before riding. If you have never been to CHE you are missing out. It is a seriously gorgeous facility that was clearly well thought out. We warmed up and then I got to ride the red dragon to her first XC fences of the new year. She was excited to say the least. We actually had to have a little conversation about not running through my hands to go flying over little tad pole fences. I’m going to go back to the drawing board on bits because even a snaffle will be harsh if I’m having to beg her to come back to planet earth after the fences. Trot, jump, trot, halt, repeat. After a few attempts she caught on to the “you will be rewarded if you aren’t a dragon” thing and then we were in business.

XC Schooling @ Chatt Hills 1.15.17 from Hillary McMichael on Vimeo.

As we started stringing stuff together she settled in though and got down to business. When we were making our second attempt to the novice bank question things went wrong. Before I knew it Annie was tripping and felt like she might go down. Somehow she did save it on the top of the bank but I however was not so athletic and ended up becoming a lawn dart. If you event and don’t have an air vest I would think about getting one. I landed flat on my back and got right up and honestly felt fine. Today is a different story but I really think I probably would be in much worse shape if I hadn’t been wearing it. As I landed I felt pretty sure I was going to be stepped on. Not when your horse is a little ginger freak though! K mentioned that she literally attempted to jump away from me and the video, that is too painful to share, supports that theory. Bottom line is that Sit Back Or Die is not a suggestion but a rule. I feel pretty confident that if I had a more solid back seat position I probably wouldn’t have gone shooting off her shoulder when things got a little hairy.

We walked her around and made sure she wasn’t hurt before I hopped back on so we could end on some good notes.

Annie was not messing around when we came back to the BN bank to make sure our confidence wasn’t destroyed and took care of us like the good little mare that she is. A few years ago a fall like that would have had me in tears and never wanting to event again. I can’t believe how much the past year and a half with Annie has changed that for me. I’m attempting not to get too mushy but a horse with this much heart really makes me feel like I can conquer the world and for that she is worth her weight in gold.

In hindsight I probably should have opted not to school the novice bank again after the first attempt went so swimmingly but the plan was to try to string a little 6 jump course together… best laid plans. I will leave you with the above awesome sauce shot of Annie dominating the B element of the novice bank question. Here’s to not getting hurt and the amazing little mare that made eventing fun for me again.

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Chatt Hills Bound

As I mentioned yesterday, now that our Christmas hiatus is over I am trying to plan out the adventures that I hope to go on with Annie this spring. Our first stop is a last minute trip to visit my friend Katherine at Auburn and to Chattahoochee Hills for some cross country schooling. After that my tentative plan is to do the Chatt Hills Schooling Show 2/4 and then meet up with Lauren and Gus at the Poplar Place Schooling Show the following weekend 2/11. All in an effort to prepare for our first rated event of the season which will likely be March Pine Top or April River Glen. Can you tell that I am jazzed? It is a seriously fun feeling to look at courses on CourseWalk and really be excited about running cross country. I owe all of that to my little trail blazing TB! This time last year I never anticipated that cross country would be my favorite phase. Do any of you have fun holiday weekend plans?

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Ride One of 2017

Last night I hopped on Annie for my first ride of 2017. Thank you weather for FINALLY cooperating. She was ah-mah-zing. Like seriously a total rock star. I don’t know if some time off rebooted her gerbils, the Loreak made her feel like a goddess, or maybe it was my Majyk dressage boots but whatever it was I will take it.

Annie is a pretty steady eddy type for the most part. She can be opinionated but I can get on after not working her for weeks and know that while it might be a little exciting she will still be mostly grounded. I was not expecting her to be so soft and willing though. The combination of having no expectations and actually putting my leg on seems to have worked… Interesting. Maybe the $$$$ of lessons and clinics are starting to pay off.

Rarely do I get on Annie after multiple weeks off and have a ride like last night. I took a minute last night to think about where we were this time last year and I can’t believe how much my little ginger has grown up. After that ride I started scouring the USEA omnibus to figure out what our debut event would be. I am still trying to decide that one but I can tell you that I am really really excited to get out and about.

img_1825.jpgWho wouldn’t be when they will have rainbow spurs to seal the deal? Who else is planning out their first show of the year?

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I don’t care what discipline you ride in. If you are naïve enough to believe that nowhere in the world does someone in your discipline partake in illegal medicating (or other abusive behavior for that matter) then you just might live under a rock. Now before you get your panties in a wad I want you to really think about it. Even if you haven’t witnessed this behavior first hand you have  most likely heard about it or read about it.

By making these statements I am in no way saying that everyone does it or even that everyone in x discipline is guilty. I think when looking at your primary English disciplines the likely hood of finding a doped horse probably ranks hunter/jumper, dressage, then eventing. Yes, I realize that I am making generalizations but I really just haven’t seen as much blatant disregard for the (medication) rules in any discipline the way you see it in HJ land. This is my opinion based on my direct experiences. Instead of being saddened by all of the people that seem to have no respect for a level playing field I am frankly disgusted.

I have limited experience in each area and am in no way claiming to be an expert of anything. I would say that I grew up in HJ land and then landed in eventing as a young adult and now dabble a bit between both worlds doing low level eventing and jumpers. My adolescence probably would have involved quite a few less tears if my trainers had lacked more morals and been okay with doping the sometimes difficult horses that I rode back then. But he wasn’t and while I think we all walk away with different things from each trainer that trainer in particular taught me that the horse ALWAYS comes first. If you can’t achieve the desired result naturally than there is a different part of the equation that needs to be evaluated.

Unfortunately you don’t see all trainers these days taking that route. I think that in part this is due to the way that these disciplines have evolved and the unrealistic expectations in some areas for the demeanor of the horse. What happened to a horse being able to enjoy its work? Have a little more spirit?

Today the Chronicle Of The Horse published an article about the suspensions of Larry Glefke and Kelley Farmer. Now you might somehow believe that this was an error and how could they… but people don’t get suspended for 2 years and fined without some evidence and it honestly makes me lose a lot of respect for said professionals. What is more upsetting is that the chronicle has no issues flaming this “unseen abuse” but when there is obvious mistreatment or pain being inflicted on a horse (aka bloody mouths – multiple times) their take is that we (the outspoken amateurs) are just having fun shaming a specific individual. Witch hunts are in style apparently.

Rant over… What is your take on these developments? Do  you find yourself angered as I am? Do you think we are all a bunch of sensitive ninnies and need to accept that this is the way it is? I am truly intrigued to see where everyone falls. Blogging lends us a truly diverse group of people to bounce ideas off of and I can’t wait to see where you all fall on this subject.

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Saddle For Sale

Last week I welcomed Unicorn 2.0 of my own into the family similar to Amanda’s adventures in saddle shopping this year. I love love love my Makila Lab/ Mendia – on Houston. On Annie it is not my favorite ride and I started finding myself resenting the blocks that I loved so much when I rode Houston in the saddle.

So with the addition of the new unicorn Loreak my beloved Mendia (now known as Makila Lab) is for sale. This saddle has a 17.5″ seat, size 2N flap, D3D panels, and is full buffalo. It also has a just a touch of blue piping (pictured below).I bought this saddle directly from Devoucoux for $3,500 at the end of April. It has been lightly used since then and impeccably cared for. I can provide additional photos or information on request. If you or someone you know has been looking for a Mendia/ Makila Lab in these specs please let me know! I am open to reasonable offers and just want a quick uncomplicated sale. Email: equestrianathart (at) gmail dot com.

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Due Appreciation

There is nothing quite like a weekend of farm sitting when it stays under 20* to make you appreciate the people that care for your horses on a daily basis. I think it is too easy to write a check for board and let the daily effort that goes into the basic care of these huge animals escape us. Especially when it is uncharacteristically cold and they are caring for not just your horse but many others – in my case 17 more. Having to break ice on troughs and buckets, clean stalls/ run ins when the sh”t is literally frozen to the ground, and dealing with frozen hoses is definitely a reminder to be thankful I don’t have to do this during the week on top of my day job. The only benefit to it staying frigid AF is that I didn’t have to change blankets… Because crazy blanketing requests is pretty much the icing on the cake that is winter horse care. 
As evidenced above I am no quitter and a war might have ensued against all of the ice on the farm. PSA – if you don’t have an appreciation for funny youtube videos that include some special language do not click play on the video below. This is a pretty accurate depiction of my feelings this weekend though.

Before you say “what about heaters” we don’t have electricity to the pastures and weren’t set up for heated buckets in the barn as this is unusual weather for us. Regardless even with those things it can still be unpleasant to be outside for hours in the single digits!

My big takeaways were that I am hella out of shape and hope I never make my barn owners feel unappreciated.
img_1703.jpgOn the bright side I got to spend a lot of quality times with my two favorite girls. img_1748.jpgDo any of you guys work off board? Notice stuff that people take for granted?

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