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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

DIY Tack Locker


To say this post has been on the back burner for a long time is an understatement. I started and finished this tack cabinet end of summer/beginning of fall as I was in dire need of more space. Even though I was only half leasing Panda I amassed a large assortment of tack and riding supplies and was looking for a better way to store it all.

I had looked to buy some cabinet but they were all super expensive ($1500++). I had also seen some plans online but couldn't find an exact layout I loved. I decided to design and build one myself and with the help of my brother in law Mike we set out to make just the cabinet I was looking for. 

The Supplies (to the best of my memory, I could find recipets if you had specific questions)
(2) 8 x 4 3/4" plywood boards cut into various sizes for the walls and interior dividers of the cabinet
(1) 2 x 4 1/2" plywood for trim and grooming tote
(1) 1" dowel for handle of the grooming tote
trim molding for a more finished look (optional)
Coarse, medium, and fine grit sand paper
Sanding block
1-2 cans of stain 
1-2 cans of varnish/polycrylic
1 staining sponge
Wood glue
Screws, saws, pocket screw jig
Sticky notes to label your cuts of wood
Trunk hardware

Ok so lets jump into it...

We had some of the cuts for the cabinet made in the store before we purchased the boards, I think they charged $.10 a cut and the first 12 were free. We made a bunch of cuts so the boards would be easier to handle and get out of the store. The worker that cut the boards for us was great and didn't mind all of the exact measurements I gave him. If you're going this route you should absolutely draw out your cuts with exact measurements so you're organized and able to get through this process quickly. I also made sticky notes with the cut dimensions and which piece it was so that I could stay more organized.

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If you look closely you can see the blue sticky notes on some of the boards below

Our next step was to attach the left and right walls to the base of the cabinet. We used a nail gun as well as wood glue and pocket screws to attach the three pieces together.

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Once the walls were secure we attached a piece of wood to span between the two was to hold them together.

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You can see more of the sticky notes here

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Here is a great photo of the pocket screws, they gave everything a much cleaner look (even though these were ones you wouldn't be able to see)

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 Here is a close up of the tool that allows you to easily put in the pocket screws.

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While my brother in law was working on the cabinet I set up some stain samples on scraps of the wood we were using to see what color/how many coats I liked. I used a walnut Minwax stain and was going for a darker wood. The first patch is one and two coats respectively without a wood primer and the second is the same stain, one and two coats with a primer.

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Choose a dark enough stain so you only need 1 coat, TRUST ME!!
Here is the same board in natural light. I ultimately went with a wood primer and two coats of stain (although I think I might have actually done 3 coats). I hindsight I would have bought a darker stain right off the bat because 1 coat of primer and 2-3 coats of stain took FOREVER!!!!!

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This photo and organization makes me happy
Once the sides and front were attached to the base we stood the cabinet up and added the back.

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Finally starting to come together
Once the back was attached we added the main shelving divider. You can also see the flush pocket screws that were used to attach the back of the cabinet.

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Zoe was our little helper for the day, although I think she got into more trouble than anything else.

Zoe, the cutest little helper
Our next step was to build the drawers that would house my loose items and clippers once the cabinet was completed. We attached the sides to the bottom of the drawer, added the back followed by drawer front.

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We also predrilled the holes for the drawer hardware so that they would be easy to attach after the drawer was stained.

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Here is the cabinet base with all of the dividers in place. I also wanted a trunk lid top for the cabinet to store all of my little odds and ends so they were in easy reach. We added the bottom of that space using 1/2" plywood. We also bought special arms to hold the lid so that it wouldn't slam down on my while I was rummaging through my things.

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You can't see it well but there is a second base right below the span of wood holding the
left and right sides of the trunk together

Then the priming and staining started. Here is the cabinet with one coat of stain...

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The first of many coats
Then two coats...

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This is where my back started hurting

We then assembled and attached the doors, adding framing and eventually trim for a more finished look. We were getting pretty tired at this point and started winging it a little bit, staining some pieces we should have waited on and then had to tape off portions to catch up without darkening it unevenly.

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The interior of the cabinet, the drawers were attached the top right compartment, the grooming tote below that
The three coats of stain were then followed by 2-3 coats of polycrylic which was lightly sanded between each coat. Seriously, by stain dark enough to get the color you want with only one coat. The staining was horrible and I had to contort myself to stain the underside of the shelving and walls.

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She's so pretty, still waiting on her jewlery
Here is an up close of the trim work on the doors of the cabinet.

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I'll have to find photos of the two interior drawers, saddle rack, and bridle racks we made (as the second day went on we took fewer and fewer photos so we could get everything done in the short weekend). 

I wouldn't hesitate to make another cabinet but I might consider using 1/2" plywood for everything (used for normal trunks anyway and my cabinet came out VERY heavy). I would also choose a harder veneer for the plywood since I notice some scuffing from pulling the grooming tote in and out each day. While I like having the trunk top, I would eliminate it even though I use it frequently. It took a lot of extra time and extra cuts to make it and I would rather have the shelf space for extra saddle pads. The only other thing I would change would be to build out the front cabinet doors so that I could store bridles full length since they don't quite fit in the main compartment without doubling up the reins. 

Other than those few minor tweaks I love my cabinet and I'm so happy to have had the help to build it. When all was said and done I built the cabinet including all of its components and supplies for just under $500. 


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

A Few of My Favorite Things

Now that I'm finally out of school, working full time, and the wedding is a year behind me, I've started upgrading some of my riding things that have worn out or purchasing the things I've always wanted to have. So here's a post of some new, some old- but all of my favorite things.

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Clockwise starting from the top left.

1. CWD Saddle and saddle cleaning kit: I loved my Antares saddle, but the flap had been bunching up under my leg while riding and I was having trouble clearing the pommel. While these weren't deal breakers, they had started bothering me more and more while I was riding. I had the CWD rep come out and found a saddle that fit me really well and this saddle cleaning kit was the promotion during the month I purchased the saddle. I wasn't unhappy with the leather conditioner and soap that I've always used, but the saddle care kit came in matching CWD case which easily keeps everything together and their products smell great. There wasn't anything wrong with the tupperware I used to keep my saddle cleaning things in, this makes me feel all *fancy* and happy inside, not to mention it matches the CWD saddle cover (It's the little things in life...) It came with saddle soap, conditioner, a tack sponge, and a cool fuzzy mitt to apply the conditioner with. I love, love, love the zippered pouch and cleaning kit that came with my saddle.

2. The next thing I upgraded were my grooming brushes. After a full summer of using them I can say that I won't be going back to synthetic brushes. Natural fiber brushes really do require fewer sweeps to remove dust and dirt and I feel like they bring up more of the coats natural oils. I've also been cleaning them every week or so because they remove more of the dirt from the coat instead of just pushing it around. I do notice a difference between the freshly cleaned brushes and when they're in need of a bath. Overall these seem to remove more dirt than the synthetic brushes I have used in the past.

Clockwise from top left: Haas Kopfburste Face Brush  (soft enough for the face, firm enough to remove caked on face dirt), metal curry for removing dirt from the brushes as I go (100% necessary with these brushes), Haas Schimmel Brush (a stiff body brush, 1st step after currying), Hass Lippizaner Brush (a medium body brush used after the schimmel to remove finer particles of dust/dirt), the Ultimate Hoof Pick Junior (so easy to remove packed in dirt!!), and Sleek EZ 5" shedding blade (great for removing loose hair).

You can find a more in depth review of these brushes here.

3. Ogilvy half pad. While this isn't new this year I really enjoy using it whenever I ride. Do I really know if it actually makes a difference in the way a horse goes versus a normal fitted pad, no, but I feel better knowing theres impact absorption and a squishy cloud between me and Panda. I've also been thinking about buying a memory foam fitted pad for when we show, but I'm nervous the pad will pill and look dingy after a couple of uses like most fitted fleece pads do. I wanted to purchase the hunter memory foam half pad and just using it in conjunction with a normal fitted fleece pad, that way I can just replace the fleece pad when it starts to look less than show worthy. Alas, when I went to look I could't find the hunter half pad option anymore. Maybe I'll reach out to Ogilvy and see if they're still in production or if I'm out of luck.

4. I love the Jeffers open front tendon and ankle boots for schooling. At $29.99 and $21.99 respectively, I'm really happy with these boots. They're easy and quick to put on and take off and you can even throw them in the washing machine. They've held up great all summer and I get compliments on them all the time, people are always shocked that they're not a more expensive boot. I've never had any problem with the stitching, over stretching, or movement when riding. Love these boots!

Friday, July 8, 2016

10 Things You Didn't Know About Zander the Wonder Horse

Last week I was finally able to meet up with Emily at Princeton Show Jumping to watch her show Zander in the 1.30 meter jumpers. He is one of my favorite horses to watch, not only because he's such a hunk, but because he's super scopey and makes everything look smooth and easy. He can seriously lope up to 4'6" fence and sail over it like it's no big deal. You can tell he loves what he does and he's really been developing into an upper level horse.

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Zander had his own thoughts about how much the fence should be sliced

video

And that's how I was able to capture this picture. The picture was taken in 1.30 meter jump off the day before the went in the 1.40 Welcome Stake . So many people had great reactions to his photo on social media that Emily and I thought that people might be interested in learning a little more about this wonderful horse.

1. Vivaldi aka Zander is a registered Irish Sport Horse by Ars Vivendi that was imported from Ireland as a three year old and Emily helped break, trained, and has ridden him since then.

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 2. He thinks he's a person. He loves to sniff other horses while they're in their stalls but does NOT like to be turned out with them. He's quite lovable to people and doesn't understand why he can't get a human turnout buddy instead; he loves to play with people in his field.

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 3. Speaking of turn out, he HATES bugs. He has to go out at 5am in the summer, head to toe in Bug Armour and makes it very clear when he's ready to come in.

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 4. While Zander doesn't have many quirks anymore, when he was first broke as a three and a half year old he couldn't/wouldn't turn left. As in, he would run into the corner of the ring and hit his head rather than turn left (as you can tell from his slicing photo, he no longer has issues with left turns).

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5. As a five year old he would throw temper tantrums that would land him in a time-out stall. Anytime he saw a mare he would become more interested in a breeding career rather than a riding one (even though he was gelded as a three year old). If he saw a mare within 1000 ft he would spin to the left and drag you to them, if you managed to stay on that is.

Zander's time out stall

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6. He is an escape artist and needs an extra lock on his stall. He can undo clips and chains in a matter of seconds and will wander into the barn to find his people friends or look for treats. Speaking of treats, he thinks he's the king and we'd have to agree, so we treat him as such. He knows exactly who gives him treats, where they are kept, and will remind you if you forget.

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7. Zander also has a mischievous side. At WEF last year he thought his stall would look better with a window, and with his brother Trevor's help, opened one so that they could keep in touch. They were caught in the act and both seemed pretty proud of themselves.


Hiiiiii, we haz window nowww!!!


 8. Zander loves to be curried, really loves it. He lets you know which spots he wants done and practically falls over when you find it.

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9. His stall is his happy place; He doesn't like anything done in there other than getting cookies or scratches. If you try to pick his feet or wrap his legs, you better just pull him out because its not going to happen in his stall. He doesn't get mean, rather he's just offended that you're in his house and he'll just circle around his stall to try and get away.

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10. He loves to jump and show off how high he can go, truly loves it. Recently he's been practicing serpentines and turning faster, which is probably where he learned his sideways jumping trick which he was also quite proud of himself.

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And there are the 10 things you didn't know about Zander. Do any of your horses have any quirks or special talents that you find adorable? 

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Little Victories: Panda and Riding Goals

Everyone has different goals when riding whether its just becoming more comfortable on a horse or showing in the AO’s. In more recent years I’ve been struggling with the what-ifs of riding; What if I fall off? What if I miss the distance? It took a little while for me to find my happy place again after taking a 2 year break from riding when I was first starting in optometry school. 


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Who couldn't love this face
Ocho was a great horse to give me confidence on and start jumping bigger (for me) courses on. He would never stop and was very athletic and scopey, so I didn’t have to worry as much about the 'what-if' I miss the distance. I feel like he sort of clicked and I learned so much about the finesse and strategy of riding from him.

After I finished school and moved back home I started taking lessons after taking six months off of riding to complete my rotations. I had my confidence shaken once or twice trying to find a barn and new horse to start riding, but then I found Panda.


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 She's a sweet mare and dead honest to boot. Panda is a smaller horse than I was used to riding but though she is small, she is mighty. It took a month or two to really click but now everything has fallen into place and our last bunch of lessons have been really productive and fun.

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This used to be one of my 'Jesus take the wheel' fences, but recently it hasn't posed us a single problem

We're going to start showing this summer and I can't wait, she's all business on show day and really well behaved. This is perfect for me because I'm able to focus on what I want to work on with out having to worry at all about how she'll be. I've already gained all of my confidence back and she's really good at pointing out what areas I needed to improve in.

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We even jumped a bunch of swedish oxers

Now I worry less about the 'what-ifs' and I don't find myself doing so much second guessing. Instead of taking last minute flyers, I'm closing my leg and moving up from a couple strides out instead of the last two or three strides. This alone has decreased my 'what-if' anxiety and I finally feel like I'm ready to start increasing the fence height.  I'll post pictures from our next show which may be as soon as this weekend but until then, here are some more pictures of us from the last week or two.

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This is one of my favorite pictures from last weeks lesson

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Product Review: Haas Horse Hair Grooming Brushes

I hate to admit it, but I've gone to the dark side: I've become a brush snob. My whole life I've used the standard no-name brushes you can find in any tack shop but the natural fiber brushes I've switched over to make such a difference.

I've been using these brushes for a while now after biting the bullet and buying my first two but it's the newest one I find myself being shocked by. 

1. Haas Schimmel Brush is made of dense coconut fibers and is the first brush I use after currying. I'm continuously shocked at the amount of dirt that it picks up (notice I said "picks up" and not "pushes around"). The large particles of dirt and grime are lifted off and carried away with this brush, leaving a much cleaner coat that I had with my synthetic brushes. I use a metal curry as I go to clean out the brush and am constantly shocked at the amount of dirt I find there. This one gets an A+ in my book and is a steal at only $14.95.
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 2. Hass Lippizaner Brush is more of a medium body brush. The horse hair bristles are dense with slightly longer bristles around the edge to lift off particles of dust. This brush is not as heavy duty of a brush as the schimmel, and while it is a body brush you'd have to really work to get stains or muck off. I consider it more of a secondary body brush, one that removes dirt and dust, but not one to be used directly after currying (note: I did test these brushes during shedding season. That being said if you don't have a horse that likes to get muddy or one that has a finer coat, this body brush would probably be fine as a stand alone body brush). Because this brush is made of hose hair bristles, I noticed more hairs tend to get stuck in this brush than compared to the Schimmel brush. I clean both with a metal curry as I use them, I just have to clean this one a little more frequently. I still like the way this cleans and I think I'll be more than happy with it once the horses summer coats have fully come in, B+ and it retails for $29.95.
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3. Haas Kopfburste Face Brush is the perfect size and density for cleaning the horses face. It's dense and firm enough to clean thoroughly but soft enough where you don't have to worry about it being too harsh. It fits perfectly in my hand and has an elastic band to keep it secure and in place. Love this brush, A+, $16.95.
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4. Haas Noir Soft Brush this is the perfect soft brush for finishing touches. It removes any fine layer of dust to leave the coat looking healthy and shining. Great soft brush, A, $24.94 for a large size.

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I feel like my new brushing routine really gets the horse much cleaner than when I was using synthetic brushes. I'm not using crutches like show sheen or rags to get the shine I was always looking for, these brushes do such a great job of naturally cleaning the horses coat. I can't wait to slowly upgrade all of my brushes, especially after seeing the Diva Exclusive in person, so plush!

P.S. I'm thinking of doing a video showing the different brushes, I just have to set aside some barn time to do it



Monday, May 30, 2016

Time Management, Lesson and Hacking Photos, and Reviews to Come

These last few weeks have flown by and I've been bad about setting aside time for writing any posts. Hopefully I'll get this time management thing under control but until then here are some photos from spring 2016 so far.

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I also have a couple of reviews to complete including one on a trio of Haas brushes, my new open front and ankle boots, and some fun sun shirts.

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 I also was able to take a couple of pictures from Hannah's lesson, her horse is just the cutest jumper and seems to really love his job.

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This is my favorite photo of the bunch, Apache has the cutest expression on his face

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Now that it's warm out that means longer days, more barn time, and hopefully the chance to share more photos now that show season has started and we're back outdoors.

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