Foal Friday: A Day at the Lake

A few weeks ago, during the last triple digit heat wave, you guys may remember that the babies got their very own little splash pad in their pasture. Ollie loved it the most of course, and kept playing in it even as it slowly dried up and dwindled to nothing but a wee puddle of muck. But this week brought another major heat wave, so their splash pad got refilled, and this time with even more water. Now I think it’s officially graduated from a splash pad to their own private lake. And they are here for it.

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arrival

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Ollie is the first to dip his toes in of course, no matter how awkward
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Remi was a bit more elegant about it
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Oakley, ever the polite one, was on her way to greet the lake’s proprietor when she got SadieSmashed by Ellie. I swear there is a gene for having a tendency to sit on things or ram them with your butt, and Sadie and all of her babies have it. 
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but Oakley made it through and greeted the proprietor before they got down to business

Once everyone was settled in and re-introduced to the water, it wasn’t long before they were in it. At first Ollie was distracted by antagonizing Oakley…

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so it took him a few minutes to notice the toys. A couple balls and a couple pool noodles, clearly placed there JUST FOR HIM!

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deez for me

Oakley came to check them out too, and while her back was turned Ollie tried to prank her.

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Imma get this nood…
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Imma sneak up behind her…
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aaaaand BOO!

Yeah, that didn’t work. All these babies are noodle-proof by now. So Ollie abandoned the yellow one and figured he’d try the red one instead.

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she’ll never expect it!

And… yeah nope. That didn’t impress her either. In fact, she just slowly walked away and left him standing there alone holding his “scary” noodle.

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Womp Womp

Not one to be deterred for long, Ollie tried another tactic: a game of tag.

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Imma just sneak right up in here and BOOP YOU’RE IT!
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OH CRAP OH CRAP OH CRAP IT WORKED

Except he forgot that it’s never really a good idea to antagonize a filly enough to make her chase you, so he did the only logical thing he could: ran to the other filly for protection.

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Ollie: ELLIE WILL SAVE ME! Ellie: Um, what. 

Of course, Ellie had been in the middle of laying out by the lake, soaking up some vitamin D and having a bit of a snooze. She was not the most pleased about being interrupted.

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It’s okay, this happens a lot

Luckily Oakley had gotten distracted in her pursuit of Ollie anyway, and all was quickly forgotten.

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Ollie eventually made his way back to the lake and continued to play by himself, running circles through it long after everyone else had gotten distracted or opted for a nap.

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Ollie is Ollie whether anyone plays with him or not

Not a bad way to ride out a heat wave, that’s for sure. I feel a little jealous of these babies sometimes.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Mayhem Strikes Again

So I get this text from the barn owner yesterday morning…

ONE GUESS at who’s involved

So the little boys had an epic night. I woke out of a dead sleep at 2:30 and got up trying to figure out what startled me. Looked out the back windows, nothing. So I got back in bed. But I woke J up who now needed to go to the bathroom. He goes down the hall to use the one in the hall, so as not to wake me if I fell back to sleep. And he’s back a few moments later saying, um there is a horse in the back yard. 

I throw on my PJ pants and run out the slider to find Quinnie and Presto happily munching grass in the yard. And there are like 6-7 poos out there, so they’ve been out for a while. I run around the side to find the pasture gate wide open. The latches and everything still intact. I grab two halters and by then I see JB rounding the corner of the house to come back to the pasture. Apparently he had been eating the grass in the raised garden and came to find me when he heard my voice. The others followed him and with no effort, they were all back in the pasture.

We can’t see anything to indicate how that gate got open. We don’t go through there to feed. And it swings open if unlatched…it doesn’t stay if it isn’t actually latched, so we know it was closed at night check. But they were out there for hours. Had a total rave. There are poos by the tractor. Foot prints around the whole yard. Toni’s [the stallion] electric gate tape was played with. Things moved. The end of the path torn up. 11 poos in total. But everyone was fine. 

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Hmmm… I WONDER WHO MIGHT HAVE HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH THIS? I dunno y’all. This type of crime certainly has Presto’s name written all over it. If the latch had been broken, I miiiiight be more likely to blame JB – he likes to push on the gate. But reaching over the gate and opening a clip seems more sophisticated than JB’s usual style.

I’m not sure if the court can completely absolve Quinnie though, the mare in charge of the two babydiots. She does have a history of letting herself out of her stall. BUT typically she does that because she’s ready to go out or wants food, and… she was already out, with a round bale (her most favorite possession)… not much more that Quinnie wants out of life than that. I also feel like she takes her job of raising these babies pretty seriously and would not sponsor such tomfoolery as gallivanting around the yard in the middle of the night.

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she rules with an iron hoof

But there IS another horse in this trio that has a history of opening things, and that would be the long-legged giraffe-like creature named PRESTO. There was the time he let himself out of his stall and absolutely destroyed the barn, also letting Henry out of his stall in the process. And we’re pretty sure he’s also the one that got into the feed room a couple months ago by somehow twisting the doorknob open (we’ve since caught him working at that doorknob on a couple other occasions, but it’s been Presto-proofed now from the inside).

To add to my suspicion, he tends to play with his ball a lot at night, but right now the current ball is pretty much dead (the new one should be here today) so it’s not really play-with-able in Presto’s eyes. So… in lieu of a good midnight romp with his ball, did he open the gate and go for a romp through the yard instead? The court can’t rule for sure, but it’s certainly plausible. Let’s hope that, whoever it was, they don’t repeat that performance and it was just a one-time fluke. Nothing quite like waking up at 2am to find loose horses and chaos.

I’ve been considering some additional toys/distractions for Presto lately. I was really wanting to find one of those 10′ long rectangular inflatable pools, I feel like he would have a total heyday with that, especially since it’s so hot. But apparently those pools are like THE hot item of the summer, because they’re totally sold out at most places, or the price has been jacked way up beyond what is reasonable (they used to be $26 at Walmart and now I’m seeing the exact same one online for $80+… considering it’s likely to be destroyed within days, I’m not into paying that much). But I did order Presto another toy though, one that I’ve been meaning to get for a long time and keep forgetting about.

Your eyes do not deceive you, that is a huge-ass rubber chicken. He loves things that he can pick up and toss around, especially if they make noise. Remember his love of plastic jugs with rocks in them? This particular giant rubber chicken is advertised as being able to scream for up to 45 seconds. We gon’ find out.

What does the jury say? How did the gate get opened? Who did it?

The Pivo Guide

Okay I swear this is (probably) my last Pivo info/how-to post, but I wanted to put together something a little more comprehensive where the information is all contained in one post. I’m still getting a lot of questions about it, so I’m gonna try my best to answer all the most common ones here and use this one post as reference. If there’s anything I’ve forgotten or didn’t address, let me know and I’ll add it in. As things change over time with the app and the software (as they most definitely will – they already have changed a lot in the last month!) I will come back to this post and make updates. I’ve used the Pivo enough by now to where I feel like I’ve got a good handle on it and how it works, especially now that the newer features have been more established. So some of this is a repeat of things I’ve said about it before, and some of this is newer information, but… bear with me, I’m trying to be thorough. I’ve become pretty obsessed with this little gadget!

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What you need to know before you order a Pivo:

  • Your success with the Pivo pod will likely depend on your phone. The Pivo app uses software to “see” and track the horse through your phone’s video camera, so if your phone is outdated technology (particularly if the video quality isn’t great or the CPU isn’t very powerful) you won’t have as much success. There is a list of supported smartphones on Pivo’s website here. Currently the app also does seem to work a bit more seamlessly on iphones, which is understandable since it is much easier and faster to develop apps for iPhones than it is for Android. Given time I have no doubt that Pivo will get it working just as seamlessly for Android phones too (they are constantly making improvements and releasing updates), but it could take a bit longer and new features may tend to be buggier at first. Be prepared to be patient.
  • Understand how the technology works. Your success with getting the Pivo to work for you also depends greatly on your understanding of what the Pivo is looking for and how it “sees”. There is no tag or tracker that the pod is syncing with in order to follow you, it’s tracking capability is completely software-based. The software uses your phone’s video camera as it’s eyes to see and track the horse. In order to do this, the software is looking for two main things in particular: shape and contrast. There are 3 shooting modes for the Pivo: face, body, and horse… obviously the horse mode was designed for horse tracking, and when it’s in this mode it’s looking for the rectangular shape of a horse to lock onto and follow.
  • Certain things that can make it difficult for the Pivo to “see” and track effectively. Just like with the human eye, certain environmental conditions can make it more difficult for the Pivo software to clearly see your horse and get a good lock for effective tracking. If your space has a lot of shadows where you’re going from light to dark, if the sun is behind you causing glare, if your horse is the same color as the background/footing, if you ride too far away from the Pivo to where it can’t discern the horse shape anymore… all of these things are challenging to the human eye, and they’ll be challenging to the Pivo as well. If it would make you squint, the Pivo will likely struggle as well. Think about your riding space and conditions and consider how easy it will be for the Pivo software to see you clearly. If you have a very dusty arena it can cause some issues as well because it “blurs” the video, and if you ride with multiple people in the ring, the Pivo will track whichever horse is easiest for it to “see” and follow at any given time. So, you might end up with video footage of the other people in the ring as well.
  • Be realistic with your expectations. Keep in mind, this is relatively new and very complex technology. While it’s constantly involving and improving, right now it does have limits to what it can do. If you expect it to be perfect no matter where you put it or what the lighting is, you will end up disappointed. If you expect it to perform as reliably as the other riding tracking tools on the market that are 8-10x the price, you will end up disappointed. It’s a GREAT tool, especially for the money, but it isn’t perfect and there is a small learning curve in the beginning.
  • Deciding on the Red vs Silver. So once you’ve decided you have a good enough phone, it should work for your needs, and you want to take the plunge, the next question is – which Pivo Pod to get? The only difference between the Pivo Red and the Pivo Silver is the speed: the Silver can spin twice as fast. If you will be riding at speed, like faster than a regular canter, or if your riding space is small (thus the Pivo will need to spin more quickly to keep up), or if you want to use it for jumping, definitely get the Silver. My recommendation would be Silver no matter what, just because having more speed capability isn’t going to be a bad thing, even if you don’t really need it, but if you’re only doing groundwork or regular flatwork, the Red would suffice.
  • What about accessories? Pivo also offers some accessories to go with your Pivo Pod, and people are often wondering what they really need. This depends on how you want to use your Pivo. First and foremost, I would recommend a tripod no matter what. The more stable and level you can make your Pivo, the better off you will be, and it needs to be horse-height to track well, so a tripod is just going to be necessary. Pivo has one on their website, or you can buy/use any tripod that has a 1/4″ threaded screw tread (a standard camera mount that most tripods come with). Some people like to buy the flexible tripods so they can hook it on a fence, some people have taller horses and might need a taller-than-standard tripod… go with whatever works best for you. As for the other accessories – the Smart Mount is really only necessary if you have a phone case that is thicker than standard and won’t fit in the Pivo’s built-in phone groove. This would be the Otterbox Defender or larger. Basically if your phone is encased in a tank, err on the side of caution and get the Smart Mount. The Action Mount is another attachment, meant for those who want to use an action camera (like a GoPro) in conjunction with Pivo. They also offer a soft pouch case or a hard shell travel case for storage. Keeping the Pivo safe and out of the barn dust/grime is important, so one of those two cases might not be a bad idea. If you’ll be transporting it a lot or are clumsy (ahem, me), maybe the hard shell case would be the better choice.
  • Join the Pivo facebook group. Last but not least, before you order definitely join the Pivo Horse Riding Community facebook group and spend some time reading. Pivo runs this group, and people post all kinds of experiences, questions, successes, failures, troubleshooting, you name it. If you take some time to sit back and read through this group and the comments, you will learn A LOT, and you’ll be that much more knowledgeable by the time your Pivo arrives.

 

Before you use your Pivo for the first time:

  • Play with it at home first. Alright, your Pivo has arrived! What now? I would strongly recommend that you take half an hour at home to download the app and play around with it and the Pivo. Get familiar with the app and how to work it, and find where the different settings are and how to change them. Familiarity helps tremendously, especially when you’re standing next to the arena in the sun holding your horse and trying to set it up. You’ll be much less frustrated if you’ve already poked around in the app in advance.
  • Learn the different settings. If you’re on this blog reading about the Pivo, I’m going to assume that you’re on a horse and using it in Horse mode, so those are the settings I’m going to talk about. First and foremost the Smart Tracking needs to be set to AI. This is what will enable the different tracking modes, and from there you can select Horse mode. If you don’t see a horse mode, you probably haven’t selected AI (common mistake). To access the other settings in the app you will drag the screen to the left (or down from the top if you’re in landscape). You can see an explanation of each setting and what they mean on Pivo’s website here, I won’t bother repeating what they’ve already written. My own personal preferred settings are Center, Frenzy, Predictive Follow Off, Tracking Exposure On, Auto Zoom On. I feel like these are a good starting point for most people, but you may have to tweak them a bit depending on your own environment and usage. If you know what they all do, you’ll be better able to judge what you might need to change. Predictive Follow seems to be the most confusing setting to most people: my recommendation would be that if you’re using the Pivo in the center of your arena and riding 360 degrees around it, having it on might help, particularly if you have a Red that sometimes struggles to keep up. Otherwise (or if you’re ever in doubt, because sometimes it seems to cause more problems than it solves) turn it off.
  • Figure out if you might need to add contrast to your outfit to help Pivo “see”. As I mentioned above, the Pivo really needs to be able to differentiate the horse from the background in order to track it successfully. So think about your riding area – is it a bit dark? Does your horse blend in with the footing or background? Is the sunlight weak? If so, you might need to add some “pop” either with white shirt/saddle pad/boots or a bright color (Pivo seems to love hi-viz pink, if you’re really struggling to get it to see you). Keep that in mind when choosing what to wear and dress your horse in.
  • Check your phone’s video settings. Before you get out there and start recording, check a few things with regards to your phone’s video capability. First, double check what type of video your phone is shooting. For iPhones, you would go to Settings>Camera>Record Video to see this. I would recommend setting this to at least 1080p, for better quality. If you have tons of storage space and want the best video possible, you could change it to 4k. I personally have mine in 1080p at 60fps and think that’s a happy medium to get good quality video/sreenshots without eating up too much storage space. And while we’re talking storage space – make sure your phone has PLENTY. Riding videos are going to be long, and if your phone doesn’t have the space to store it, it won’t save. Clean that thing out, empty your deleted folder, and be mindful of your video file size.
  • Decide where you want the videos stored. While you’re playing around in the Pivo app, you can also change the settings for where you want your videos stored. You can have them save to the app’s gallery (for export later), you can have them save to just your phone gallery, or you can save them to both places. If you’re particularly worried about storage space, you could just pick one or the other. If you’re more paranoid about losing videos, you could pick both.
  • Make sure your Pivo and phone are charged. Last but not least, before you take your Pivo out to the barn and get ready to use it, make sure everything is well-charged. Pivo recommends one hour of charging time for a completely depleted battery, so when I charge it I always just plan on leaving it on the charger for that long no matter what, just to be sure. I would also strongly suggest that you make sure your phone is as charged as possible. Because of how much the app uses your phone’s CPU, it can eat away pretty quickly at the battery life, particularly if your phone is a little bit older. Mine (with a pretty new iPhone SE 2020), uses about 1% battery for every 2 minutes of filming. Your mileage may vary, you’ll figure it out as you go. You definitely don’t want your phone to die in the middle of a ride though, and you also want to avoid putting your phone in low power mode, because low power mode slows down your phone’s CPU, which will effect the performance of the Pivo.
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screenshot courtesy of my Pivo

The maiden voyage:

  • Choosing the right spot for your Pivo. Alright, we’re finally getting to the fun part – actually using the Pivo! The first decision you have to make is where to place the Pivo (which is hopefully on your tripod) in your riding space. The absolute most foolproof and easiest place is smack dab in the center of the arena (at X in a dressage arena). For a first timer, I would always recommend starting there, at least until you get a good feel for it (this is also the best placement if you’re jumping). My own personal favorite placement for flatwork is outside of E or B, in the middle of the long side of the arena (if you’re not a dressage person, here’s a link to the arena so you can see the letter placement I’m referring to). If you’re going to place it on the side, the most ideal position is a few meters away from side of the arena. You may not be able to do that if you have a fence or a wall – if that’s the case you can place it AT the letter, but be aware that if you ride right next to the Pivo, it will probably lose you (because, remember, it’s looking for the shape of the horse, and when you get super close to it to where the horse more than fills the screen, it can’t find that shape anymore). You also need to pay attention to where the sun is – you don’t want the phone to be looking into the sun. The Pivo is capable of filming from C (works better with the newer, better video quality phones and iPhones right now) if you need it to. It doesn’t really seem to love being placed in a corner, so I would avoid that if you can.
  • Make sure it’s level. Now that you’ve picked your spot, set up your Pivo/tripod and make sure it’s level. The Pivo has a built in level, as do most tripods, so it’s pretty easy to see when you’ve got it adjusted correctly. The more level it is, the easier the Pivo will be able to track your horse.
  • If it’s windy, weigh down your tripod. Anything that causes your phone to shake will affect the video quality, so if it’s particularly windy it’s a good idea to add a little bit of weight to your tripod for stability. Many tripods have a little hook under the center part for just this reason. I usually just stuff a couple rocks into the tripod’s bag and hang it from that hook, but you can use whatever is easiest to give it some weight.
  • Prep your phone. Alright, let’s get this show on the road. If you’re someone that gets a lot of phone calls or notifications that may interrupt your filming, I would suggest turning your phone to airplane mode (but make sure the bluetooth is still on or you won’t be able to connect to the Pivo!). Make sure all of your background apps – anything that could be using your CPU – are completely closed. Also take a second to clean off your phone’s video camera lens (whichever one you’re using) – a stray fingerprint can ruin a whole video.
  • Turn on the Pivo. Power up your Pivo pod, open the Pivo app (which you will have already downloaded and played with at home), and connect the app to the Pivo. Once you’re connected you can choose what settings you want to use (again, you should have already familiarized yourself with them and how to change them) and decide whether you want to use the front (selfie) camera or the back camera. The back camera is better quality, but for a Pivo newbie the selfie camera makes it a little easier to check your progress throughout your ride. I started on Selfie and then switched to the back camera once I got more comfortable. Choose whichever you feel best about using. Make sure you are in video mode, not photo mode. Then set your phone into the Pivo in LANDSCAPE MODE. Not portrait. Landscape.
  • Get the Pivo locked on to your horse. I am always super obvious about this step by placing my horse directly in front of the Pivo (a few meters away, if the horse can be trusted unattended) to ensure that it locks on. Once the Pivo locks onto the horse you will see a red square on the screen, over the top of the horse.
  • How and when to start the video. The Pivo comes with a remote so that you can stop and start the video whenever you want. If you’d rather get on, warm up, and then use the remote to start videoing, you can do that. I personally don’t want to mess around with a remote, plus I like to see the warmup footage too, so I always start mine when I’m standing there behind it, after I’ve locked it on to the horse. When you’re mounted it’s hard to tell whether or not it’s filming, so to me it’s easiest and most foolproof to start it when I’m on the ground and can easily confirm that it is indeed filming (when you start filming, the hour/min/sec counter will appear and start incrementing, just like when you take regular videos on your phone). If you’ve played around with the remote at home and feel comfortable and confident with it, use the remote. If not, start it from the ground.
  • Enjoy your ride! Other than sneaking a glance every once in a while to make sure that the phone is still pointed at me, I largely ignore the Pivo while I’m riding. However, if you have it placed right up against the rail or in the middle of your arena, you may have to be more aware of it to avoid getting too close. Likewise, if you’re riding in a very large space, you may need to stay aware of how far away you are so that it doesn’t lose you (once the horse fills less than 10% of the screen when it’s zoomed, the Pivo will struggle to keep sight of you).
  • Finishing your ride/saving your video. When you’ve finished riding you will hit the stop button (either on the screen or on the remote) to stop recording. The Pivo will then save your file to wherever you specified – app gallery or phone or both. While it’s saving the file the screen will say “making magic” – do not close the app or turn off Pivo before this is finished. If you do, you risk losing the file. Usually this “making magic” step only lasts for a matter of seconds. Once it’s done, I always quickly pop into the gallery to verify that the video is there, and then I turn the Pivo off and close the app.

(Note: if you’re a more visual learner and would prefer a video to help you with these steps, check out Pivo’s youtube channel, or check out Riding with Rhi’s channel as well.)

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Troubleshooting:

  • There will be hiccups. Once you get comfortable using your Pivo and learn how it works, it’s pretty simple, but a bit of a learning curve and some rookie mistakes are to be expected. When in doubt, if you’re having issues with the performance, take the time to think about what the Pivo is seeing. Look at your environment and conditions. Check that your settings make sense for your usage and conditions. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different settings or placements to see what works best for you.
  • When in doubt, do a reboot. At the end of the day this is software (an app) integrating with hardware (the pod and your phone) so sometimes it just throws itself for a loop and needs a reset. If you’re seeing weird or atypical behavior, try rebooting the pod and your phone.
  • The Pivo facebook group is here to help. If you have an issue that you just can’t figure out, or want to learn more, I can’t stress enough how valuable the Pivo facebook group is. Not only is someone from Pivo available to help walk you through it, you have hundreds of experienced Pivo users that can help too. I would have had a much steeper learning curve if not for that group, it’s incredibly helpful.
  • Keep up with latest bugs/fixes/new releases. The great thing about the Pivo technology being software based is that it IS rapidly improving and evolving, and you will always have access to the latest and greatest features without having to buy a new Pivo pod. I have to give big props to Pivo for listening so intently to their equestrian customers and working so quickly to improve the app for us. At this point they are constantly releasing fixes and updates and new features, as often as once a week. If your phone isn’t set up to auto-update your apps, it would be a good idea to check in often and make sure there isn’t a new version waiting for you.
  • It’s easy to report bugs. If you do come across an issue that can’t be explained, it’s easy to report a bug directly to the Pivo developers via their website. You can include the video to show them exactly what happened, as well as what phone you have, so they can try to fix it. So far they’ve been super responsive about this and they really encourage users to report any bugs they may find.
another screenshot courtesy of my Pivo

There is also a relatively new Pivo function called Pivo Meet, which is intended to be used for remote lessons. This is a new release that is still in the beta stages, but something that I also expect to be rapidly improving. It’s definitely not perfect yet, but some people are having success with it (search the Pivo group to read about people’s experiences!). If being able to use the Pivo for remote lessons is important to you, keep an eye on the group for more updates. I haven’t used it yet, so I can’t lend my own personal opinion, but if/when I do I will come back to this space and expand my thoughts. The functionality DOES exist, though.

If you want to check out some of my own Pivo videos, here are a few for reference:

Jumping in the field

Shooting from E in the dressage arena

Shooting from X in the dressage arena

 

Hopefully this covers it enough to give you a good headstart on using your Pivo or figuring out if it could be a useful tool for you. If you want more details about particular things, you can also try searching Pivo’s help page. Like I said, I’ve been incredibly pleased with mine and impressed with the company and their customer service. If you have any other questions or topics you think I should cover, drop me a comment and I’ll add some updates!

What a Cluster

Boy oh boy was it insane to see how everything unfolded (or I guess… didn’t) with Pony Finals. That was a cluster of epic proportions.

Wince GIF | Gfycat

I do feel a bit sorry for everyone that already spent a lot of time and money getting there, only to arrive and have it be canceled before it really even got started. Mostly I feel sorry for the ponies that spent days in a trailer and went through all the stress of traveling, for no reason, and for the kids who now have to learn a tough life lesson about disappointment. All because people (adults) seem incapable of making good decisions right now. And I’m not talking about USEF (although their timing was impeccably bad and it sounds like the situation left a lot to be desired with how it was handled, by case #4 they had no choice but to shut it down). Pony Finals was a terrible idea in the first place, on USEF’s part and for everyone that went.

At what point are people going to say “hmmm… maybe hauling out of state to go spend a few weeks at a horse show with other people also coming from all over the country, in a middle of a pandemic that has spiraled completely out of control, to a place that is also struggling to control the spread locally, is not a good idea“. Shit, people. I’ll say it: it’s selfish. Tell yourself what you want, bury it under all the excuses that you need to, but it’s totally selfish. Yet it also seems like as long as big horse shows are offered to people, they will come, no matter what.

Veruca Salt GIFs | Tenor

Pony Finals in particular was only a victim of cancellation because of the two preceding weeks of horse shows with all the same people, which was just long enough to establish covid spread on site. If there hadn’t been those two weeks to establish undeniable spread, PF most likely would have happened and everyone would have gone on their merry way home again afterward, carrying said spread with them all along their route and back to their home areas, unknowingly (which, granted, is now happening as we speak anyway, but at least maybe without as many as infected children as there would have been otherwise). Or hell, maybe people are carrying it knowingly, since time and again people have had pending covid test results but insisted on going about their normal lives anyway until the test results come back, as several of these horse show cases have played out that way now.

What’s undeniable here in all of this mess is that you can, indeed, spread covid at horse shows, despite what a whole lot of people want to think. Despite the USEF protocols and guidelines, and despite some people following the rules to the letter. This is not the first big show to spawn more covid cases, and at this rate it’s unlikely to be the last. Yet what is the one major thing that all the top health officials are saying right now? Oh yeah – that we as a country must get a handle on this thing and get the numbers trending down now, or we’re in for a world of hurt. Continuing to hold big national level competitions helps do that… how, exactly?

Oprah You Get GIF - Oprah YouGet Coronavirus - Discover & Share GIFs

A lot of the local, smaller, and one or two days shows seem to be faring much better, which makes total sense. Less mingling, less interaction, fewer people, shorter shows, generally staying within their home community. That makes a lot more sense. You could sell me on that. So at what point do the powers that be realize that “just because you can doesn’t mean you should” with these bigger national shows and events? This seems like total insanity to me at this point, to still be looking at things like AEC, TIP Championships, the National, Equitana, etc. No. Just… no. It’s not just a risk to our own horse community, it’s a risk to every community that people travel through along the way, as well as the destination community they end up in. People don’t just go to long horse shows and never leave the shows grounds. If you’re staying for a week you end up in grocery stores, or restaurants, or liquor stores (I know you people), or Walmart, or feed stores, or even local tourist spots, etc. Now you’re a problem to the community you just put yourself into, and they’re a problem to you as well. Not to mention that Kentucky has now advised (not required, therefore no one cares because clearly none of this applies to horse show folk, right?) a 14 day quarantine for people coming in from hot spot states. Think anyone going to these shows is actually doing that?

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Anyone who’s entering these big shows right now should take a good hard look at how this Pony Finals situation unfolded. Are you prepared to get all the way to the show and have it be canceled last minute? It’s a very real possibility for any horse show right now. On one hand I’d like to say that I’m shocked that some of these big shows haven’t canceled yet of their own volition. On the other hand, knowing that PF likely would have gone on without those two weeks of shows preceding, and knowing that none of these other upcoming championships have that same situation at play… I can see why they’d still try. Even though the chance of someone having, spreading, or contracting covid at said events is undeniably real. By the time anyone found out for sure, the show would be over, so… no problem!

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And… surely I am not the only one that shrieked at the news that some of the big fall indoor shows (which cannot be held in their local communities due to covid restrictions) have simply found new venues in other states with fewer restrictions (ahem Florida, not like that’s a hot spot or anything…) so that they can hold the shows there instead. What. The. Actual. Fuck. People?

I get that everyone wants to go back to their normal lives. I get that trainers and braiders and organizers and vendors and horse show staff have to make money somehow. I get that sponsors still want things to happen. It’s just crazy to me that we’re pretty much the only sport that is going ahead with big, national events, despite the knowledge that it will inevitably be problematic somehow. Maybe by the time it infiltrates our community and kills/seriously harms someone big name, that’ll finally be enough? Beyond the comfortable walls of our little horse world, we have a greater responsibility to our community, and to our country, and I don’t think said horse world is fulfilling that responsibility right now. People keep saying “give us a choice about whether or not we want to stay and horse show and take the risk with covid, don’t cancel it!” but… newsflash people (and this may be hard for some people to hear) this isn’t about YOU. It’s about everyone else. The community at large. Your fellow American. The world. Choosing to knowingly put yourself in harms way has much greater repercussions beyond just you – that’s the entire problem.

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In the end, this is temporary. It will pass eventually. Things will slowly return to normal. But the longer it takes to get control over the situation, the longer it will take for those things to happen. It sucks. We’re all well aware. I just don’t quite understand what makes the horse community feel like they’re exempt. That they can keep doing all the things they really want to do, damn the consequences. All we’ve really proven is that yup, we are indeed contributing to the spread with these big nationwide shows. No one will die because they miss a horse show, but people very well could die if we continue as-is.

The other thing is, I think there ARE (or could be) alternatives. Do things more locally or regionally to keep the travel to a minimum. Restrict entries. Stagger schedules so that fewer people are onsite at one time, and for fewer days. We’re seeing shows do things like that with success. Would it mean that the national championships can’t happen? Yes it would. But lets be honest – if we’re being responsible citizens, that ship has long since sailed. We’re clinging to something totally unrealistic. If we were smart, if we really wanted to hold on to some shred of being able to keep doing what we love throughout the entirety of this pandemic, even if on a smaller scale, we would stop being part of the problem.

Good Boring

I feel like a lot of my Monday “weekend summary” posts end up sounding kind of the same. “Rode both horses. Presto did cute things. I worship at the altar of Pivo. Everything is steady”. And that probably makes for relatively boring and monotonous blog content, but I have to say that I am not complaining one bit. I like it low drama (pleeeeaaaaase horse gods, keep the drama away).

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the cutest face in Texas #notbiased

Plus it’s the middle of summer, and covid, so… nothing special is really going on. No horse shows or lessons on the schedule. None of that bright shiny stuff that makes for good social media content. The most exciting thing I’ve won lately (which I’m actually pretty pumped about if I’m being honest) is a Wanker of the Week sparkly ribbon from the last Buck Off Banter podcast (episode 27, near the 1:06 mark – btw this is by far my favorite equestrian podcast, if you aren’t listening you’re missing out).

Things might seem monotonous on the surface, I suppose, but I’m kind of grateful for it right now. The stress from the tiny house purchase and life in 2020 in general is enough, thank you. The horses being that “steady” thing is very welcome. Plus, maybe I’m like the easiest to please, most pathetic and boring person in the world, but every little thing Presto does these days is thrilling enough to seem like a banner moment to me. It doesn’t feel like I’m lacking in excitement.

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basically hacking champion of the world at this point

Plus I’m pretty thrilled that we’ve now edged our way into August and there’s still living grass, and the ground is still decent enough to jump. Usually by now it’s just crispy dead vegetation sticking up out of something akin to concrete. I know it’s coming, it’s an inevitability really, but it’s happening a lot later than usual so I will happily take it. It’s meant that the boys have nice grass to graze on, and it’s meant that I’ve been able to keep jumping Henry once a week.

Since I do get the feeling that our “good ground” days might be numbered, this past weekend I went ahead and jacked the jumps up a little bit and set up a grid. I’ve kept everything pretty much around 3′ all year, big enough to be of some substance but not so big that I’m pounding Henry’s feet or demanding much exertion on his part. And we never jump more than 2 courses anyway, or more than once a week. But still… actively trying not to use up the 13yo crooked-legged event horse over here. Not like we have any shows coming up (hahahahaha *crying*), just trying to keep the worst of the rust at bay.

But this weekend I put a couple of them up a bit higher, made a grid with a square oxer, and released the beast.

i love you Pivo

Been a while since either of us have jumped that height. Like… maybe almost a year. Time flies. He was quite proud of himself though. Except the first time through he did whack the oxer pretty good, and was Very Offended.

angry dolphin

He’s cute when he’s mad. At least he picked up his feet a bit more the next time.

On Sunday we went for a canter out in the back field, where Henry proceeded to squeal and leap and buck dolphin like a total idiot. Whatever. If he’s happy, I’m happy, and he does seem to be plenty happy right now. Summer is a struggle for him, so keeping him happy is the goal.

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did get a good chuckle out of this still though, he looks like a deranged carousel horse and I look like Billy Bob Thornton’s character in Sling Blade

Presto had a relatively easy weekend, since he did his ground pole ride last Wednesday. On Saturday we did a lunge in the field, and on Sunday I got on and hacked him all around the property. Henry’s field, the jump field, around the dressage arena, out into the hilly field behind the pond (and over the natural ditch, which he loves), then into the way back around the hacking path. He’s always got his ears on a swivel, taking everything in, but he really seems to enjoy getting out and exploring. Even when he can’t see any other horses and they’re all waaaaaaay up at the front of the property, he never worries about them or neighs or gets nappy. He does still want to trot down the hills though, so I’ve been asking him to halt or circle on them when I feel him start wanting to trot. At this point I’m pretty sure he knows he’s not actually supposed to, he just can’t help himself sometimes. Every time I bring him back to walk he’s like “UGHHHH DANGIIITTT FINE, but this is WAY less fun”.

my Presto socks finally came in from Australia!

This week it’s gonna be H-O-T so we’ll see what actually ends up happening riding wise. Might end up just being a lot more hacking. Such is life in Texas in August. I do have a plan for a fun little experiment with my Majyk Equipe ice boots though, and another Pivo tips post in the works since I’m still getting a lot of questions about that and I’ve learned a lot more myself. Plus Presto’s July training vlog, if I finish it. If there’s anything else you’d like to see around here to help spice up the otherwise semi-boring content a bit, drop me a note!

Foal Friday: The Ellie-phant in the Room

Guys, there’s no hiding it: Sadie birthed an actual giant this year. Ellie. Is. Hugenormous.

Elliegiant

For reference, Daisy (the grulla) is 15.3h.

heckinchonker
I have this photo saved as heckinchonker.jpg tell me I’m wrong

Despite being the youngest of the 2020 foal crop, at 2 1/2 months old now, she towers over the other foals. Which makes sense with Ollie (full pony) and Oakley (half pony), but she’s even got Remi beat, and Remi is a good size foal from good size parents, plus he’s the oldest. Theoretically he should be the biggest. He… is not. He’s normal sized. Ellie looks like she’s been mixing Miraclo Gro in her milk.

Elliephant
it’s a monster

And naturally, her favorite method of play is to turn into a biped, which makes her look a little bit like Godzilla.

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I WILL SQUISH YOU
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Even Ollie knows to vacate the premises when this thing truly goes vertical

None of Sadie’s other foals have been as big as this filly. They all go through a chonky stage, like Ellie is currently in, but none have had her sheer size. She’s been a beast since she was in the womb (when Sadie was so big that Michelle and I were both a bit concerned that she was carrying twins that had been missed on ultrasound), and it looks like she has every intention of staying that way.

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when you try to measure Ollie…
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but Ellie be like “pffft why bother, measure ME!”

And, ya know, being that big is really exhausting. Which is why she’s taken to using round bales as her own personal bean bag chairs for naps.

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just sprawled out across the entire thing, no big deal
what?

Sadie is quite pleased with her creation though, which makes sense because 1) she’s a total mini-me, 2) Ellie is big enough to reach Sadie’s back so they can (and do) give each other fantastic back scratches. I suppose that’s Sadie’s reward for having to birth this thing.

Despite her size, Ellie is amazingly light on her feet and athletic. Girl can gallop, turn and burn, and contort herself into a pretzel when she feels like it. Her 68% TB might not be so evident when she’s standing around, but you can definitely see it when she’s in motion.

Elliegallop2

Elliegallop
always with a side of sass, because filly

Thank goodness she’s sweet and well-behaved with humans.

It will be interesting to see how she grows over the next couple years… sometimes these giant foals end up being relatively normal size horses, and other times these giant foals end up being giant horses. Time will tell.

Happy Friday everyone!

 

Grand Prix Ready

Well guys, things are getting pret-ty serious around here. Presto trotted his first course of poles yesterday.

seriously though, how can he even see through these ridiculous bangs

I set up a very basic little course of four poles in the dressage arena (I have to be honest, I don’t always trust his steering well enough yet to be sure that I won’t be decapitated by a tree out in the jump field), two making an outside line and then two singles set diagonally. He also got the additional challenge of “skinnies” since one pole is 8′ long but the other poles were only 6′ long. It’s what I had as spares without taking poles off my jumps, so… it was fine. He may as well get used to that stuff from the beginning.

he’s filling out again!

He was in rare Presto form while tacking up, really antsy and non-stop putting stuff in his mouth. Some days he’s not just 3, he’s like… extra 3. But I got on and he went right to “work” with no dramatics. We started out by walking over the poles, making a little course. I want him to learn that the game is to go to and over the sticks, so right away we just starting going from pole to pole. After he’d been around them all a few times at the walk, we picked up the trot.

very serious big horse business

We did a couple of simple courses to start with, then I dialed it up a little bit by angling some of the poles and making (generously sized) rollbacks. He thought that was great fun, and definitely seemed to understand that the objective was to go to the pole. He didn’t miss a single one, and the “harder” I made it, the more engaged he seemed to get. At one point he was so proud of himself he just needed to canter after one of them, and I briefly considered having him keep going and try to canter the poles, but for his first time I wanted to keep it super uncomplicated and easy. That’s a small ring for him to try to be cantering poles in, at this point in his training. Big horse, small space. No need to get greedy.

feelin’ himself after angling the bending line

We only rode for about 15 minutes, but I think it was short and sweet and to the point. He understood, and he was willing, so… mission accomplished. It will be many months still before I actually start jumping him at all, but doing some work with poles like this is really good for him I think. Not only does it help his steering, but it’s also introducing the idea of skinnies and angles and lines and all that stuff that’ll be relevant once he starts jumping. Plus it’s something different and fun. I need to go pick up some flowers and brush and convert a few of my poles into flower/brush rails, to give them a little something more interesting. I’ve been meaning to do that for months.

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So ya know, Presto is basically ready for Grand Prix, as long as someone can find me a GP at ground pole height. He’s could totally dominate the heck out of those up-down pony kids.

When we were walking out afterward he still kept homing in on the poles and walking over them, even on the buckle.

I GOT IT!

Smart kid. I like it. That’s what I’m after. Many pats and good boys for finding them on his own. Once we were done in the ring I walked him a lap around the outside, where he showed off his giraffe skills for the Pivo.

omg stahp

I swear, no tree is safe if it comes within 6′ of his face. Growing boys need their snacks I guess.

That was ride number 21, if we’re still counting. Go ahead and add Pole Trotting Champion to his resume. He catches on to things so quickly that I’m gonna have to start getting creative to keep his brain occupied with fun stuff. I do want to try to get him out on another trail ride soon, hopefully in the next couple weeks.

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face hugs from crazy mom

So far he’s really just a lot of fun to ride and train. I can’t complain about this one.

Big Boy Things

Presto is sooooooo close to being a big boy. Well… in stature he’s already got it covered, but I mean in age. Four years old is tantalizingly close. And while in the realm of the riding horse 4 years old is the babiest of babies, in the baby horse world, it’s graduation age. Like “welcome to real life, you’re an adult!”.  I’m trying not to get too excited about it because in reality he’s not even 3 1/2 yet and I know the next 7 months until he’s officially FOUR are going to drag, but still. 

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And I will say this, if all the covidiots rambling about their freedumb end up ruining my horse’s 4yo year by getting everything cancelled again, I might consider a career change to assassin. If I don’t get me some Coconino next year, heads are gonna roll.

But I’m living in the land of happiness and denial, and pretending that 2021 will be totally fine, and Presto will get to go to some horse shows. Just… give me this. So when the video of Henry demolishing an oatmeal cream pie won an Instagram contest that garnered us a Halter Ego gift card, it took me about .5 seconds to decide what to get. 

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Look, I gave away two other bridles, stop judging me. Also, it’s SO PRETTY.

See, I figured that most likely Presto will spend his first year doing the dressage in jump tack, because that tends to be easier, but all of my brown bridles are either bitless or figure 8’s or partly green or too small for this beast’s noggin. So I wanted to get him a pretty brown bridle. When I saw the Olympia, I knew it was the one. I loves me a chonky noseband with slightly darker padding. THIS was a big boy bridle, for sure.

Big Boy
Baby Boy

I did take the standard browband (brown with clear crystals) off and put his spikey Dark Jewel Designs browband on it though. There is nothing that says PRESTO more than that browband and I’m just as obsessed with it as I was when I got it. I ordered the bridle with stainless hardware specifically so that it would match his spikes. It pleases me deeply. Gorgeous bridle, badass browband… it just works. I’ve decided that the overall look is called “Posh Punk”. Posh bridle, punk browband.

Posh
Punk

I’ll review the bridle at some point eventually. It occurs to me that I need to do like one big bridle review post because I don’t think I said much about most of them… at least not Presto’s QHP or Henry’s La Cense, the other two latest additions. I did take a picture of the Halter Ego bridle next to my PS of Sweden hackamore, so you could see color and leather comparison.

He will probably mostly wear his green QHP bridle at home though, that’s his designated schooling bridle, and we’ll keep the Halter Ego nice for special occasions. Presto tends to scratch or break anything you put on or near his head, and I’d hate to have to strangle him with his pretty new bridle.

While Presto has been getting fancy big boy things, I’ve remained unable to stop dyeing my riding clothes. There isn’t much left that I haven’t gotten to yet. But I did have a couple that I’d already done and wanted to change, one of which being the light blue shirt that I’d dyed with RIT. It was fine, but not as good as the ones I’d dyed with Jacquard (RIT’s pigmentation is weak sauce in comparison), and I kind of wanted to play around with some dye techniques. 

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Before. It looked more blue outside but I told you it was weak sauce.

My original idea was to do an ombre, and I had a plan of action all figured out and everything. I wanted to go from a pale blue down to a deep, more french blue, so I bought some navy dye. I got my water ready, put just a little bit of the powder in to start with (like… not even half a tablespoon), and got ready to do the first dunk. The plan was to start with lighter colored dye water, dunk the whole thing, add a little more pigment to the dye water, dunk 2/3, add a little more pigment, dunk the bottom third. 

this stuff has become one of my favorite things

But as I was standing there, about to wet the shirt and then lower it into the pot, I was like… hmmm… I wonder…

Originally I would have loved to tie-dye one, but this fabric and the way it needs to be dyed doesn’t really lend itself well to that technique. But I wondered what would happen if I just balled the dang thing up, got it partially wet, and then dunked it quickly in the dye water. Would that give me the splotchy look?

Figured it was worth a try, if it didn’t work or I hated it, I could always go back to my original ombre idea. So I balled it up, ran it under the faucet, and then dropped it into the pot. I gave the ball of fabric one little swishy stir and then quickly fished it back out with my tongs. It was in there for all of maaaaybe 8 seconds at most. 

still a bit wet

It has almost a stonewashed look, and I kinda dig it. It’s not tie-dye, but in the same realm. I think it’s neat, and unique anyway. You can buy an ombre shirt, but I haven’t seen one like this. I went ahead and washed it and waited for it to try before I decided for sure.

In the meantime, I still had a pot full of dye water that had been barely used. Seemed like kind of a waste. So off I went into my closet, looking for something else that might want to be blue. Then I spotted my Kerrit’s Ice Fill tights, which were “navy” but a brighter/lighter tone than I prefer. I checked the tag and they are indeed mostly nylon, so I went back to my pot, added a little more pigment, and in went the tights. I was hoping I could get them to a nice deep navy. Twenty minutes later I pulled them out, washed them, waited for them to dry, and voila!

All dry! New outfit, basically

It worked really well, they’re a much deeper navy now. Which is good to know, because I do like the Ice Fil tights, but Kerrit’s has some absolutely god awful heinous color choices. Turns out they can be quite easily changed.

I still have most of the jar of navy pigment left, plus most of the jar of the pink I used for the dusty pink shirt. And some green coming, so I can try to fix that hideous bright turquoise that I did and hate. But I’m out of riding clothes to dye at this point. Which is sad, because it’s kind of fun. Who knew this would be such a slippery slope…

 

Tiny Home Tuesday: It’s Finally Time

Well, this is happening almost four months later than originally planned, but this week we’re FINALLY finalizing all our paperwork for the tiny home order. In the end I think the timing worked out okay… we’re able to put more $ down, and we got a great rate for financing. The only bummer is that with covid and all of it’s repercussions, the build time has doubled from 5 weeks to 10 weeks. That takes away basically aaaalll of our “cushion” time that we were hoping to have, which gets my nerves rattling a bit. But it is what it is, so hopefully it’ll work out fine.

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I can’t resist a tiny home/Zoolander joke

We went back up to the builder a couple weekends ago hoping to walk out with everything done, but I didn’t realize that their financing guys didn’t work on the weekends. And of course a few days before we got there they had sold the one we really wanted to see right off the lot. It was kind of irritating at the time, although we did get to see a different version of that model (that they didn’t have last time we were there) and look at all the options again in person. Which… I tweaked one of the standard floor plans a bit and we changed our minds on some colors and appliance options after the fact, so… not a wasted trip. But it does make all the paperwork and back-and-forth take longer since we’re having to do it via email. The dealer is over 3 hours away and the SO can’t get off work during the week for the foreseeable future (apparently luxury car repairs and upgrades are BIG BUSINESS right now for whatever reason, they’re super busy) so another trip up there in person just isn’t in the cards. It is what it is. We submitted all of our final options/floor plan approvals this morning, so now we just await the all the final paperwork. Hopefully we’ll get everything completed and submitted in the next day or two so we can get this show on the road.

In the end we couldn’t get everything we wanted, because it pushed us over the price point I wanted to stay under. We had to prioritize and compromise, but I think we still made something really cool and functional.

cardinalfloorplan

This particular house was our “inspiration” I guess you could say. We liked almost everything about it. We changed most of the colors, the style of the front porch, some of the appliances, tile/backsplash/countertop, and a couple of door locations. More specifically, the exterior will be gray and white, like this one (different model, but you get the idea):

tinyhouseexterior
SO’s favorite thing about this color is that it’s called UFO, because he loves watching dumb alien shows

We went with a plain galvalume (so “silver”) roof because the color options were crippling and it’s literally the only one we could agree on. That’s kind of the story for all of the colors involved here. SO really likes a white, red, orange color palate and I really like a blue, purple, green color palate. The only thing we both like is gray and black. So, there’s a lot of gray. And we decided to paint the exterior of the front door black. He wanted red, I tried to compromise with burgundy, but the only thing we both liked was black. I have a black horse head door knocker that I think will look really cool on a black door. It’s like… goth farmhouse. (gray house black door. There’s something a little bit Addam’s Family about it and I’m here for it.)

The inside walls are white with gray trim, like in our inspiration house. The flooring is a grayish tone – “Fumed Oak” (again, same as in the inspiration house):

Fumed Oak Linoleum

The cabinets are painted gray (again, same as inspiration house)

Grey Paint

The countertop is “mercury vesta”. I liked the splotchy rain look.

Mercury Vesta

We went a little bold with the backsplash at the last minute, opting for matte black tile. I wasn’t in love with any of their other options (which were basically gray, cream, and tan) but when I googled “black backsplash” I dunno, I just really liked the look. Plus it ties in with the front door. There’s very little actual backsplash space, between the kitchen and the bathroom, so it’ll just end up being a touch of black. I went through like a billion pics trying to find someone else that has put in the black backsplash option in one of these tiny homes and I couldn’t find one. Had to go with my gut on that one, hopefully I’m right in how I’m picturing it.

The shower tile is Platinum

Platinum 8" x 36"

and the exterior decking is gray (the only options were gray and brown so stop judging all my gray right now).

Grey

We “splurged” on the upgraded stainless appliances (dishwasher, full size french door fridge with bottom freezer drawer, microwave, oven) and on the porches. Specifically the back porch, which we opted to fully screen, like our inspiration house. It was the most expensive thing we did, but it gives us a really nice indoor/outdoor space (and a “bonus” 150 sq ft, since porch spaces don’t count as actual square footage). SO got a tv jack out there, it’ll be wired for a ceiling fan, we’ll have space for a table and chairs… basically like a little sunroom. The cats and dogs can both hang out there too.

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we made our rear porch bigger than this one, for extra space, but you get the idea

We also added a little reading nook up in the loft (again, like in our inspiration house). Since it’s only 399 square feet and one bedroom, and we both like having personal space, we tried to give the house as many good usable spaces as possible. The fancy fridge and all the tv jacks were SO’s splurge items, and mine were a fancy deep stainless sink with pimped out faucet (because I love me a good sink), USB ports in one of the kitchen outlets (so I can charge all my shit without having to go find several plug adapters) and a transom window above the front door (so I can put up a stained glass panel).

readingnook
I’m staking claim to the reading nook and I’m prepared to fight dirty for it. I will absolutely pull hair and claw eyeballs.

The things I changed from the layout of the inspiration house were: 1) only 1 bathroom door. Honestly, I’d rather the bathroom be more private and not connect to the bedroom. I don’t really need the toilet to be 8′ away from the bed and separated only by a little pocket door, thanks. Give me a solid wall. 2) I moved the location and style of the closet door. Now it’s a pocket door that opens on the “hallway” side by the back door, rather than a regular door that opens on the bedroom side. This is because we have a California King, and that bed is gonna be TIGHT in that room as it is. It will be much easier, and better flow, to access the closet from the hall side.

Because we did spend so much on the rear porch, we had to sacrifice some little things, like a super fancy front load washer/dryer, upgrades on the tile or countertops, the rain shower head, fancier stair and railing options, etc. Little things that we were okay giving up in order to have that awesome screened porch.

This is the first time either of us have ever built something for ourselves, and it was kinda hard to choose, even with relatively limited options. But in the end I think we’ve made a pretty functional space, and something that will be comfortable to live in despite the small size. We’ll see in a few months I guess! Let the adventure begin…

Reprieve

Hurricane Hanna hit south Texas this past weekend, and while Austin is too far inland and north to have really felt any hurricane effects, she did bring us some much needed rain and a break from the triple digit temps. I dunno about y’all but it feels like it’s been summer for about 8 years now and we’re only halfway through it.

hello Hanna

Since they weren’t quite sure how much rain we were going to get from this, I switched up the horse’s schedule a bit in the preceding days. Presto got ridden on Wednesday, and they both got worked on Friday just in case it was too wet on the weekend. On Wednesday, Presto went for another hack out to the back. Ride #20! Feels like some kind of milestone. Honestly pretty thrilled with where he’s at after 20 rides, especially considering how slowly we’ve been going. Most horses have 20 rides within their first month or so of being started, but he’s 5 months under saddle now. He’s gradually getting stronger and more confident, which was the plan with this approach, without making him sore or tired or sour or overwhelmed.

always one ear on me when he’s a little unsure, it’s really cute

For his hack I got on him at the barn and rode straight out again, no lunge or arena riding first. He had a lot of pep in his step, and he behaved, aside from one genuine honest-to-god spook when something moved in the bushes. That’s the first time he’s really spooked under saddle, and it was mostly just funny. He did a very obvious wind-up to where I knew what was coming, and then he just spun around in a pretty darn balanced pirouette. I was barely even jostled. Considering that Henry’s spooks are more like teleporting 15′ away with little to no notice, Presto’s was fairly adorable.

I hear MOO DEMONS!!! (wtf am I gonna do with that forelock…)

We walked back to the scary bush, made a couple circles, and then carried on. He got over it immediately and that was the end of it. I was pleased with that. Horses are gonna spook sometimes, that’s just the nature of the beast, what’s more important to me is how quickly he moves on from it.

On Friday Presto did a quick lunge session. I set up my Pivo at E this time, mostly because I wanted to see how well it worked from there. The new Beta tracking makes it so that you no longer need to have it in the middle of the ring, and I figured E would give me a better view than C. It never really occurred to me before to use it to film a lunging session because, well… that’s boring. But I actually got some interesting footage (to me anyway) and some good screengrabs from it, so I might start including some of that footage in Presto’s monthly vlogs.

he’s starting to stretch more and more

is it really necessary to be this tall at not-even-3 1/2-yet?

I did a quick dressage ride with Henry (because it was approximately 9000% humidity on Friday and we both start to feel like death after much longer than 20-25 minutes) with the Pivo at E and I definitely think that’s my new favorite placement. Having it outside of the arena is obviously easier, and it tracked perfectly from there. Seriously tickled with the new tracking, I’ve now used it for jumping, lunging, and flatwork without any issues. Y’all don’t even know how exciting this is as a thirsty blogger who always needs media but is also always alone. Revolutionary.

Plus I really like being able to watch the rides, it’s helpful. I don’t get lessons very often (um it’s been like a year almost?), especially not right now with covid plus the heat. Being able to see the footage gives me some kind of feedback, at least.

Luckily the rain held off until Saturday afternoon, so I was able to fit in a quick jump school (we did some little gymnastic-type exercises over small jumps so I didn’t bother to get the Pivo out) with Henry, and just groomed Presto and added more air back his ball. I dunno what they’re doing to that thing at night, but it was waaaaaaaaaaaaay in the back by the neighbors fence and looked like it taken some serious abuse in the process. I feel like this ball might not be long for this world either.

I was hoping to ride Presto on Sunday, I had plans to set out some poles in the arena and trot him over them, but Sunday morning it kept raining more. Both boys got a mini-spa day instead (ok mostly I just groomed them, brushed out and re-banged their tails and chopped some mane off).

Pre tail bang. He’s starting to fill out again though!

While there wasn’t as much riding this weekend, it seems like a fair trade to have a short reprieve from the heat and some moisture for the ground. My jump field was starting to get hard, and any kind of rain in July is nothing short of a miracle around here. The last remnants of Hanna should be cleared out by tomorrow, so hopefully this week I’ll be able to do Presto’s first groundpole ride!