Monday, September 20, 2010

Electrical Stuff, Another Great Ride, Saddle Issues and Monarchs

My older daughter took my truck and trailer to a horse show over the weekend - she had to trailer 4 horses for her barn. Last night she had some trouble with the electric connection between the truck and trailer - the running lights wouldn't light although everything else was working. When she got back, we connected and reconnected the plug - it's a 7-pin - and eventually got the running lights to work although my daughter got a shock in the process - it had rained during the day so there may have been water in the plug. I took the trailer out to the dealer this afternoon and waited while they looked at it and made repairs - they replaced the plug, which had some corrosion, and also rebolted the truck housing and rewrapped all the wires. Everything now seems to be working OK - I'm glad we found this and got it fixed before my daughter trailers Maisie to Tennessee on Sunday.

It seems to be the day for electrical stuff - I've made an appointment with an electrician to come do an audit of our barn and see if any work needs doing for safety reasons. I know we've got at least one circuit that might have a ground fault, and another that might have a short so we leave the GFI tripped at all times. We also have an outdoor plug that no longer functions that needs repair. I'm always cautious about electrical safety at the barn due to the risk of fire - our barn is only about 15 years old but it's time for a safety audit.

This afternoon, between rain showers, Dawn and I got in another fabulous ride - lots of trot work, shortening and lengthening of stride and also some really nice leg yields. She was very up - this was only our second real work session in about two weeks - and bursting with energy. The challenge today was to get some relaxation, so we did a lot of stretch-down work once she'd burned off enough energy for this to lead to relaxing instead of rushing. Her softening is much more consistent now - for a horse with a relatively short, thick neck, she's doing very well. I've actually noticed the shape of her neck changing as a result of our work - she's now got a nice top line to her neck - not cresty but muscled, and the muscles on the mid/lower part of her neck are starting to recede a bit.

I'm still not satisfied with the fit of our Kieffer dressage saddle, despite the fact that Dr. Alice (chiropractor/vet) said that it fit OK. Due to Dawn's shape - big barrel but fairly narrow behind the shoulders and somewhat slabby withers that are also slightly lower than her croup - when the girth is tightened and I'm in the saddle, the saddle tends to move downhill/forwards, which leads it to end up too close to her shoulders and to slightly tilt forwards. Using the uniform riser pad also results in my feeling that I'm too elevated above her back. The saddle works, but I don't find it completely comfortable, and neither does she, judging by her expressed opinions. It's not bad, it's just not ideal. I've got several other saddles to try at our barn, so we'll start there. Then I may look for another close contact saddle that might fit her and also do some more work bareback. She loves it when I ride bareback, and I actually really enjoy it too. We're supposed to get some really hot days this week, and if she's a bit more relaxed I'd like to try some cantering bareback - I used to do this with ease and there's no reason to think I can't do it now. If that works I may just stick with bareback.

On a nature note, I got to observe something amazing today. Just above the concrete foundation of our house, there's a board that sticks out a bit below the siding. Underneath that board were three of these, spaced out at intervals:
This is a chrysalis of the Monarch butterfly. All summer, the Common Milkweed that had been growing next to the driveway had many of these Monarch caterpillars eating its leaves:

Several of them had crawled across to the nearby wall and found a great spot to pupate. I came back from my trailer adventures to find that two Monarch butterflies had emerged and were sitting on vegetation rapidly fanning their new wings. I didn't catch them just as they had emerged from the very small cases, when their wings and bodies would have been all crumpled up, but after everything had expanded and they were fanning their wings to dry them out. One Monarch took its first test flights, involving short spurts and crash landings in our driveway. Within minutes, it was able to fly and was up and away. The second soon followed. I've never seen this before and it was an amazing experience. The butterflies were new, and fresh, and glistening. They're a relatively common butterfly, but I always enjoy seeing them:

Tomorrow it's supposed to be very warm - mid 80sF - so Maisie's going to get a bath - otherwise Melissa at Paradigm Farms won't find her up to standards when she arrives on Sunday!


  1. Glad you got the trailer issues fixed before Maises trip down south.

    And I am so happy to hear that you are having the electrician out to the barn. Fire risks are very scary and just not worth ignoring.

    Enjoy the indian summer... soon it's going to be cold. :(

  2. forgot... I love the Monarchs! I was lucky enough to have to work a conference down in central mexico a couple of years ago and we were right smack in the middle of the migration path. There were literally hundreds of thousands of monarchs, it was simply amazing. Now every time I see one I have great memories !

  3. Glad you got the electrical issues sorted out! and that butterfly is beautiful

  4. I hate wiring on trailers. It always is seeming to cause a problem, but good its fixed before Maisies trip.
    Im so jealous when I hear about you riding bareback, I may have totry more this winter, i am horrible at it and just slide off. I guess more practice it what I need.

  5. Did you know that when a catepillar goes into the cocoon it completely breaks down - into a collection of cells. It's quite a metaphor.

    Very lovely description here:

    So exciting to hear about Dawn and how well she's coming along.

    Have you gone to visit any of your contenders?

  6. How wonderful to get to see all the stages of growth on the Monarch. Nice photos too.

  7. I love reading about your work with Dawn because her personality is so much like Panache's! And believe it or not I keep seeing articles in magazines relating to your posts. Most recently is a Practical Horseman article this month about achieving "working relaxation" in tricky horses, be they hot (TB style) or explosive (WB style). Really interesting article and it echoes so much of what you've written recently. Thanks for the motivation!

  8. Trialer wiring is tricky. Glad you took it to an expert to sort out the real problem. Most of the time it is in the plugs on either side. I've had to replace mine several times.

    I think Dawn is your equine monarch butterfly--quite a metamorphosis there.

  9. Glad you got the trailer sorted out before the long trip to Tennessee.

    Saddle fit is so frustrating sometimes. But glad you had a good ride anyway.

    Gorgeous butterfly.

  10. Glad the trailer and electrics are sound for the journey. Very prudent to have an electrician check out the wiring and electrics (one of my biggest fears for any barn).

    I suspect I'll be offline and travelling home when you are hauling Maisie to Tennessee, so just wanted to send my very best regards to Maisie and you, enjoy bathtime! Very bittersweet for you but she'll have a home-from-home with Melissa. Hope you get to have a cuddle with Lily and Norman too!!

    Danni x

  11. I hate trailer wiring issues... had some myself earlier this year and I was afraid I was going to have to have the whole trailer rewired. Luckily I was able to fix it... So I'm glad it was an easy fix for you too!

    I'm glad things are still going well for you and Dawn, but I'm sorry to see you're still struggling with saddle fit. That seems to be a never ending battle as far as I'm concerned.

    I've been following along with your potential horsey candidates and so far my favorite is the bay mare. I have a thing for mares, so they always get my preference, but she's the front runner of allt he mares in my book!

  12. And how are you going to keep her from dropping and rolling prior to her departure?


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