Monday, October 31, 2011

Bedding options - fence sitting

I am still undecided what to do about the bedding situation, if money was no object I would go the pellet route and just find a new home for the rest of the newspaper bedding.  Unfortunately money is an object, one I like to have around and thus I am still undecided.  Pellets are a 33% increase in cost over the already 43% increase of the bulk bedding.  UGH!

I really needed bedding in the boarder stall so instead of switching him over to the newspaper I bought some pellets to try out.  I've never used pellets and wanted to try them before committing to a pallet of them.  I stripped the boarder stall and put the bedding in the donkey's stall (reuse what I can!), she now has enough bedding for at least a month if not two.  Ha!  The boarder stall is a 12x10 so I put in 6 bags of pellets to start.  I will admit, I was doubtful when I started.  The pellets didn't swell up nearly as much as I expected and I wondered if I should have used the 2 extra bags I had bought.  The boarder, who has been on pellets before, said to let it stay and if I change my mind in a few days then I could add the other bags.  Am pretty glad I waited, the stall looks pretty nice now.  In a perfect world it would be bedded a bit heavier but this is still a trial and the pellets have broken down nicely.

The plus side for pellets?
Pellets are easier to store, I would have the room in my indoor back
Pellets seem to be less dusty, virtually no dust so far.
Pellets are certainly super duper easy to clean, at least so far.
Pellets can be bought locally and delivered for only $10

The down side for pellets?

The plus side for bulk bedding?
Comfortable and easy to use
Easy to clean
Easy to store

The down side for bulk bedding?
Takes up a lot of space in my indoor
Can be dusty, not bad, but not dust free
Heavy, pain to move each week
Have to buy from over an hour away, not local

I will keep using what I currently have and try to figure out what to do, I have about 3 weeks before I have to make a decision.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Getting back to it and Donkey is annoyed

As I have a cross country lesson next Saturday I need to get my butt back in gear and get on a horse.  I have finally ridden twice this week, the first being a rather leisurely w/t/c ride.  We didn't really working on much because the horses haven't been worked hard and neither have I.  The App was a bit of a pain but is accepting the new (old) thought process of leg means go NOW and that I will no longer nag him.  He was anticipating in the canter pretty badly, he was ready to do tempi changes without me even asking and did a couple of times. We had a couple of discussions that he shall not throw his head and prepare to take off simply because I am reinforcing a bend and am not asking for a flying change.  Taking off is not the best idea Mr. Appy.

I rode again on Wed and had the App all tacked up when I made a last minute decision and decided to ride bareback. I used to do it all of the time and just don't do it much anymore.  I can ride without stirrups or bareback without an issue, I just don't so I took the time on Wed and it ended up being a really nice ride!  The App was soft in the bride, responsive with the legs and didn't try to take off a single time (who is this horse?!?).  I worked really hard on sitting back as I found in my last lesson that I am very upright due to my dressage riding.  I want to be able to sit back when I need to and did a fairly good job of accomplishing it.  I did have to audibly remind myself a few times but it went well.  I had a thoroughly enjoyable ride and called it quits after about 45 mins and a few flying changes just for fun.

Starting tomorrow I am hoping/planning on riding every day.  SO will be out of town for a couple of weeks so I won't have much else to do.  Luckily RB3 is coming out and riding with me so I have someone to talk to and then the TWH is getting ridden too.  I have cleaned my bridles, my girths, washed my saddle pads and have the saddles in the house for a cleaning.  I am ready for some serious riding!

For my amusing story of the day, I think I am going to start driving Ms Daisy and she is not amused lol.  In a tack lot I bought there is a pony sized bridle and though it is a half hole too small, it fits the donkey.  I also found a small copper mouth bit in storage that fits her pretty well.  I put it on her for the first time last night and let her stand with a bit on and she was so annoyed and it was so cute.  She acted like a 2 yr old trying to spit the bit out but the best part was her ears which kept twirling back and forth in complete confusion.  Ha ha!  I am going to let her sit with the bridle on for a few days and then start working with her on lunging again.  When I start actually driving I will need to get a new setup, this is just an old bride with an old tom thumb but I can work with her for now by attaching lines to the check piece.  I don't want to put out a fortune in new  equipment if I don't actually end up driving her.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A change of heart on bedding

I really like the newspaper.  I really do.  I like that it is really light and is super easy to store and to move.  I like that it doesn't have much to any dust and that it makes the stalls look clean (since poo is hiding under fluff).  I like that I am throwing away less in volume every day.


I don't like that it takes an extra 10 mins per stall to clean.  I don't like that it makes my dirt aisle look littered and even with a FineTine fork I can't pick it up.  I don't like that I have to use so much of it.  And I don't like that I am using significantly more of it than I was of woodchips.

Last weekend I needed to do the weekly bedding fill for the stalls.  The bale I have is supposed to be approximately 14 compressed yards so I expected the bale to last me about 2.5 months for the 4 stalls as I used apx 4-5 yards a month with woodchips.  Imagine my surprise and disgust when I realized I am halfway through the bale already.  And I am only using it in 2 stalls AND it hasn't even been an actual month!  I bought the bedding on 9/28 and put it in Chip's stall on 10/1.  I then put it in Sinatra's stall on 10/8.  That is approximately 37 days (22 days for Chip, 15 days for Sinatra) of bedding and am already halfway through the bale.  I don't even want to know how fast I would be using this if I had it in all 4 stalls, would it even last 2 months?!?  I don't think it would considering I think it will be gone within the 2 months on just the 2 boy's stalls.  Ugh!

This brings me back to the drawing board.  I am eliminating the newspaper bedding, it is not worth the extra effort each day nor is it cost effective like I thought.  Even if I calculate the 43% increase of the woodchips it would be cheaper per month than using this even though the cost per yard is lower.  I am pretty bummed as I really wanted this to work and it isn't.  Ugh.

I haven't been able to find a supplier for corn cob bedding which my boarder is really pushing for, it is what she used when she lived in NY.  The pelleted shavings sounds ok but expensive.  1 bag = apx 4 cu ft expanded which isn't a lot.  I would need 270 bags of pellets to equal 40 cu yards of bulk woodchips. Even with the bulk shavings increase it would be 35% more expensive yard-to-yard to use pellets and that is using the cheapest quote I got for pellets.  I have only found two other suppliers for bulk shavings and one currently only delivers 100 yard loads, he is going to try to find a price on a 40 yard load for me.  The other delivers literal sawdust, dusty, fine, powdery sawdust and I used it when I first moved here.  Not again.  Ugh, why is this so difficult?!  What do other people use?  Anyone use pellets? Is it really as expensive as it sounds on paper?  Do the shavings really dry almost immediately after being dampened for expansion so you don't have a wet stall?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Blogger award!

It is hard to believe I have only been blogging since January and I already have followers AND I just received a blog award from Carol!  So I am supposed to tell 7 things about myself and post 15 blogs I love.  Yikes.

Things you don't know about me.  Hmmm..
1.  I grew up in northern New England.  Surprisingly I never obtained the thick accent (was obsessed with pronunciation) so I wasn't made fun of nearly as badly as my brother when I moved to Ohio as a mid-teen.

2. I am a cat person.  I like dogs but I love cats.  I have 3 indoor cats and 2 barn cats.  The job of the barn cats is to kill things, the job of the indoor cats is to entertain me (since they don't kill mice) and thus are pestered very regularly.

3. One of my indoor cats plays fetch and when he is on a kick will be very annoyingly insistent on my participation.  The other cats just like to chase the toys.

4. I have been riding since I was 14 but didn't take a single lesson until I was in my mid 20's because I couldn't afford them.  Learned everything from books, videos and friends.

5. I went from barrel racing/trail riding to bareback trail riding for three years in my late teens because I outgrew my saddle but still wanted to ride.  Bareback riding is phenomenal for balance and strength.  When I could finally afford a saddle I ended up with a cheap english saddle so I started jumping.

6. I am a bit of a nerd even though I don't like to admit it.  And will actively hide a lot of my nerd tendencies.

7. I follow over 60 blogs, most are anonymous though.  And I rarely comment, which is bad, but LOVE to follow everyone and check in at least once every day to see who has updated a blog.  Sometimes several times a day.

For 15 blogs that I are my favorite, hmmm.

1. Eventing a Gogo  I've followed Gogo's saga for almost 3 years and am crushed by Gogo's passing.
2. For The TWH  I follow the page on Facebook too, I hate the "accepted" practices of the TWH
3. Coupons, Deals and More I like her because she shares the ways she saves $$.  I love that.
4. Rogo  I just started following her and enjoy reading her progress and thoughts on dressage.
5. Denali  I have been following Denali for almost 2 years and love reading her updates
6. Boyfriend He is hilarious, I love reading him talk about Mother and his beloved cookies
7. Chrome, Faran and Zep A good training log as she clicker trains her horses and donkey
8. Nuzzling Muzzles  Another blog I have followed for over 2 years. Great stories about her crazy neighbors
9. Pia  A horse with wobbles is becoming a fantastic all-around horse at summer camp
10. Mikey Hilarious stories from the desert, no idea how she keeps the chaos together every day
11. Shame in the Show Ring  Another great blog to combat stupidity/abuse in the show ring
12. Fugly/Mugly Another great blog to combat stupidity/abuse, now with less abrasiveness
13. Blog of Becky  Hilarious.  Absolutely hilarious stories.
14. Jumping Percheron  Love people/horses who do things despite their horse not being "made" for it
15. Sprinklerbandit Yet another blog that I follow because I like the writing and progress

So I found picking the top 15 out of my blogs was really hard!  Hopefully you know of everyone and, if not, you will check them out.  Wahoo!  First award down!

Newspaper bedding review

The most insane part of the month is finally over, my mother has left and I have returned from the Congress.  Gearing up for visitors this weekend and then things look to take a serious slow down, I am actually looking forward to it!  Maybe not for all winter but some slowness for a few weeks will be really nice.

I figured I would give my review of the new bedding since I had so many people interested.  I am amazed and excited that I had people comment on it!  It has been a couple of weeks now and I have both Chip and Sinatra on it and I finally have a fairly solid opinion.

Newspaper bedding in a stall
What it is: recycled newspaper (not magazines/books) that has been chopped into approximately 1/2 inch squares.  It comes in 2 forms, bagged or bulk.  Bags are currently sold at Tractor Supply by a local company that makes the product or the company sells it bulk via a 6' long, 4' wide, 30" high "bale".  The bag is compressed and is the size of sawdust bags and expands to approximately 12 cu ft, the bale is compressed and expands to approximately 14 cu yds.  It is cheaper to purchase it by the bale, TSC sells the bag for $.25 a pound and the bale is $.17 a pound delivered and comes in a 800-950 pound bale.  My bale cost $135 delivered.

My initial concerns of this bedding were:
Layers and layers of wet newspaper.  Paper gets wet easily and then sticks to everything
Heavy wet newspaper.  I have cleaned animal cages lined with newspaper and hated it.
Smell.  Wet newspaper always tends to smell
Everything staying wet. When you clean something lined with newspaper or spill something on newspaper, it never absorbs everything.
Messy.  Tiny little pieces of newspaper flying everywhere as I try moving it to a stall.  Or blowing out of a stall

The guy who delivered it recommended stripping the stall before I use it as to not mix bedding, while you could mix the bedding it is more efficient to not plus it would give me an idea of how it truly performs.  Since I am all about efficiency, Chip's stall was stripped and all of his bedding went into Sinatra's stall.  I put 40 cu ft of expanded newspaper in his stall, it looked pretty deep and was sufficient for what I wanted.  The next day the stall looked clean.  Things were pretty compacted down however it fluffed right back up after  I tossed it in the air or sifted through it.   One thing I quickly found is that the poo is quickly covered by the newspaper fluff so you can't see it.  This is why the stall looks clean, the heavy poo falls to the floor and the fluffy stuff envelops it.  Think whipped cream and throwing a strawberry in it.

Chip's stall
Cleaning stalls does now require a different skill set, sifting doesn't work well with this product.  It requires a combination of tossing and shaking to get all of the fluffy bedding out and find the heavy poo.  I am taking a half scoop and lightly tossing to see if I feel the clunk/heaviness of poo.  If so then I toss and shake until I find the poo.  If not then I toss the bedding a little to fluff it up and put it in a "clean" pile.  A bad thing I can say is that you have to go through ALL bedding to find the poo because you can't see most of it.  After finding the bedding I scrape the fluffy stuff off of the wet spot and then scrape up the wet newspaper.  The wet spot does clump together making it pretty easy to scoop up.

Sinatra's stall
The good?
This bedding is amazingly light and virtually weightless, that makes it extremely easy to sift through and toss.
Also makes it extremely easy to get more bedding as I can fill a wheelbarrow and a full wheelbarrow is effortless to push.
I can "peel" off layers of compacted bedding to bring back to the stalls and fluff it in the stall to eliminate multiple trips.  It only took 1.5 trips of compacted bedding in the 10 cu ft wheelbarrow to completely fill Sinatra's stall vs 4 trips of fluffed bedding for Chip's stall.
The stall almost always looks clean (when plenty of bedding is in the stall.  Do not let this bedding get low, it gets messy from the wet spots).
The newspaper is easy to sift out and when you toss the poo, any clean newspaper will flutter away before going in the wheelbarrow.  This saves on bedding and eliminates waste
The newspaper clumps in the wet spot, making it easy to get rid of and not wasting a bunch of dry bedding finding the edges.
The clumps have an odor but takes the odor with it and the stall is smell-free after being cleaned.
I am using less of the product OR the product I am using is taking up less space in the wheelbarrow.  Undecided on which is true yet.

Waste after 4 stalls.
4 stalls normally makes a full wheelbarrow
The bad?
It looks messy.  While there is always sawdust on the ground, it is kinda tan and the dirt is kinda tan so it isn't very noticeable.  This stuff is white and the dirt is kinda tan so it sticks out pretty badly making it always look messy even when it really isn't.
You have to sift the entire stall to find the poo which does increase my cleaning times
If the horse likes to wee in small doses in multiple spots, you do have to take more bedding than expected.  If damp bedding is left it gets the entire stall really messy pretty quickly,.  This is an issue with Chip, my Mr Pee's A Lot stall is much, much better on this bedding.
You have to keep a lot of bedding in the stall, allowing it to run low will make things go bad quickly.  If all of the wet bedding isn't taken out it won't fluff or toss and gets messy.
You have to learn a new way to clean stalls to match the newspaper, it doesn't sift the same as wood.

Looks messy 
All in all I think I like the product and will likely get another bale and transfer everyone over.  If nothing else it is a good bit cheaper than wood chips, I would be buying locally, it is 100% green as it is recycled newspaper that will decompose significantly faster than wood chips, it requires significantly less space to store and it is super light to handle and compact to store.

I am working on ways to make the cons be better, I am getting better at cleaning so it is taking slightly less time.  I am still experimenting with Chip to try to find the best way to manage him and his wet spot habits, I throw more away due to him by far.  I am now leaving a 3-4 foot bedding-free spot in front of everyone's stall to help eliminate them kicking it out of their stalls, Sinatra is especially bad about doing this.  We will see how it goes.  Picture time!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Updates to come but for today it is in memory

So I do have some nice updates and opinions of the new newspaper bedding that I will share when I come back from the All American Quarter Horse Congress however today is not for that.  Today Gogo Fatale is going over the rainbow bridge to ease her pain.  She has gone downhill quite quickly this past week and Andrea made the decision to let her go to ease her suffering.  I am quite positive there isn't a better person to have tried to rehab her and Andrea gave it her all. I am very sorry for her loss and hope that things get easier for her soon.  I know what it is like to lose a beloved pet, one that you have been trying to save for a long time and you realize all you have been doing is not enough.  To make the hardest decision that easing their pain is more important than you needing them next to you every day.  My heart goes out to you Andrea.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


So I apologize in advance however I will be away until the 17th and won't be able to post or follow your blogs.  I should have a couple of good stories from the All American Quarter Horse Congress next week and I know I will be doing plenty of shopping.  See you all soon!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The App finds his engine

On Sunday I had my lesson on the App with the new instructor, I will call her H.  I debated whether to use the dressage or jumping saddle and chose the jumping saddle cause I can do both with it.  Right?  We chatted about the App's past successes and why I want to keep him at 2'6" and not move forward further with him and she agreed, a pleasant change from the previous instructor.  We talked about his performance at the last show and how he can be great or an insane freak and there isn't a way to predict or control which you will get.  I explained the previous instructors suggestions of making the App just go forward or ignoring behaviors and they both failed, thus I had went back to walk then trot then walk then trot and she agreed that is the best way to go about it.  She didn't have any better suggestions for the screaming, however, just to try to make whatever you were doing much, much harder. Ugh.

We went to the arena and I displayed my nice walk/trot/canter transitions.  Her only gripe with my riding is still my hands, I know they are still too wide.  But how awesome that out of my entire body she is only griping about my hands?!  She didn't tell me anything new, the App is great at putting himself into a nice frame with a nice headset and tracks up nicely but he isn't truly "on the bit" and connected.  Or even truly using his back end.  We shortened his reins and tried and tried to get him to push.  He would have none of it, creeping down to a trot that was the speed of a western pleasure trot or cantering to evade the request.  Out came the dressage whip and she first had me work on legs mean FORWARD.  I am to try riding him without any legs applied at all, if I apply a leg he should instantly go forward.  If he doesn't then I should sharply remind him to go forward so he can get into the habit and will carry himself again.  This is in contrast to the last 2 instructors who have told me that I hit him too much but alas we will try this route again.  She then had me hold onto the saddle with my outside hand and make the rein be like a side rein and voila.  It was almost like a switch got flipped, from fighting and creeping to suddenly having moments of true connection!

While doing this, it was increasingly difficult to do everything she was telling me since I was in the jumping saddle and thus I kept dropping my stirrups.  So what was I asked?  Drop both stirrups and put them over his withers and ride that way.  Doing trot/canter transitions through a spiral circle while keeping one hand as a side rein and the other continue to "remind" the App to move forward when a leg is applied.  It was really amazing how quickly he came together using this method, he fought it but became round and connected faster than anyone has ever gotten us there.  We rode maybe 20 mins and we were there?  Normally it takes a minimum of 30 and normally 40 mins to get there.  I was quite impressed .

I had her ride him for her opinion and I don't feel guilty about using the whip because she used it a lot more.  Not truly beating him, as I know that is how I say it "Beat the pony, beat the pony!", but giving one medium tap if he didn't go forward with leg and then one hard tap if he didn't respond.  She was also rode without stirrups and was very insistent that he move forward EVERY time she applied leg.  It will be a change (back) for me but I am willing to try it.  Overall she likes him.  She likes his compact nature and that he is very smart.   She says he still has a tremendous amount of athletic ability at his age and should do well.  We are tentatively hauling out to go cross country schooling the first weekend of Nov, pending weather issues, so hopefully I find to ride in this crazy month.

I have decided that yes, I really like this new instructor and really should have gone this route to start with.  Live and learn!  Also learn to ride in the dressage saddle to play it safe as I now have bruised seat bones from my hard saddle.  Ouch.

Monday, October 3, 2011


A lot got done in a very short period of time this weekend, I am quite happy with our accomplishments!

The first accomplishment is the winter pasture/paddock is complete!  We are now calling it a paddock because it is certainly too small to be called a respectable pasture so thus it is downgraded to a measly paddock.  We were successfully able to reuse all existing fencing so that considerably cut down our expenses, it only cost apx $75 to make our new turnout.  It is still a temporary paddock so we used t-posts on most of the fencing but they are all brand new, they all have safety caps and the fencing is 60" tall woven wire/no climb fencing so it is pretty safe.  Today horses are enjoying the new grass and eating apples from under the apple tree.  It was amusing when we first turned them out, SO opened the large gate to the arena and the App made a break for it as if yelling "FREEDOM!".  He took about 5 canter strides before realizing he was in new fencing, gave up, looked around and started eating grass.  Crazy horse, you shouldn't be proud of "escaping".

The second accomplishment is using the New Bedding.  After I cleaned stalls on Sunday both the App and TWH needed bedding so I took that as my cue to strip the App's stall and use the new stuff.  The App ended up having only about 11 cu ft of bedding left in his stall and it all went into the TWH's stall.  He'll be happy for another week at least lol.  I put about 30 cu ft of bedding in the App's stall and then put in 10 more just for good measure (have super awesome dual-wheeled 10cu ft wheelbarrow, so easy measuring).  The new bedding is really light and fluffy, about an eighth of the weight of wood chips which is really nice.  It is fairly easy to handle and really isn't dusty.  A little bit of dust when you are fluffing it out of the compressed bale but that was about it.

So this AM I cleaned stalls and while it will certainly take some getting used to, I *think* I did in fact use less bedding than normal.  The new bedding, since it is so fluffy, makes it very difficult to see the poo piles.  The easiest solution I found was to basically toss fork fulls in the air and listen for any thuds and then scoop and shake for the poo piles.  I also found shaking doesn't work nearly as well, this bedding/my fork works better with a tossing method.  It is different, not necessarily bad but certainly different.  For the wet spot it was pretty easy too, it didn't clump into a mass wet paper like I feared and I scraped off the top/sides like I do with the wood chips and then scooped the clumps.  Much, much lighter than wood chips even with all that moisture!  Overall it did take me longer than normal to clean the stall but I attribute that to "learning" how to best manage the cleaning.  It is much cleaner than I expected and didn't become the mess I feared, ie tons of wet paper everywhere, sticking to everything.  I will use it in the App's stall all week and then put it in the TWH's stall early next week.  Keep your fingers crossed!

My last accomplishment is my lesson, but that deserves it's own post.  Now that I have my camera back I will work to take pictures of things for sharing.  I owe that to you at least.