Barn Remodel: The Tack Room Begins

The barn is slowly getting renovated/remodeled and with each step forward I am falling more in love with it. The first major project was putting on a new roof as the old one was leaking significantly. Once that debacle ended, Dusty was able to re wire the barn and get all the outlets functioning once again. The last project we did was to cement the barn aisle and get rid of the 6″+ of loose, fluffy dirt that poofed into the air with every step taken and coated everything including all my tack in a fine layer of dust within 30 seconds. Once those projects were done, it was on to the fun stuff.

Currently I am using the old show office as my tack room and it is working out ok. It is small, but has a door and a ceiling to keep the dirt out. The issue is that most of the space is occupied by a large work bench, an old fridge, the electric panel and a ladder up to the loft which take up 3 of the 4 walls, limiting my options for organization. The actual tack room is down the aisle a little ways but has been sitting unused because a) no ceiling b) no door and c) rotten floor boards from previously leaking roof.

Well, it was time to finally start turning that room into a usable space again so that I can move my tack out of the show office and turn that into Dusty’s workshop. The first fix was easy: remove the rotten floor boards and put down new ones. We needed to remove the top most wall board for the next project, so Dusty re-purposed those for the floor.

Wyatt helped to nail in the replacement floor boards

The bigger issue was the ceiling. Thankfully, Dusty’s brother is an engineer, super project savvy and was coming down with his family to visit us after Christmas. The trip turned into a group effort to build a ceiling which turned out better than I ever imagined and was also a lot of fun in the process. There were a total of 10 of us, though Wyatt floated in and out, and it took us from 7 am – 5:30 pm to get the job done and everything cleaned up.

How it started out. A big open expanse above the room

This is not a DIY how to because I’m not an engineer and I am not project savvy. I refused to use any of the power tools so I was relegated as the official measurer , carrier of heavy things, and cleaner upper, but I did pay close attention to what we were doing, asked a lot of questions and learned a lot along the way. I’ll do my best to summarize how we went from an empty space above our heads to a gorgeous, custom made drop ceiling in the span of about 10 hours, but don’t go trying this at home off this post. I’m sure I’m leaving things out and I don’t know the correct names for anything.

Meticulously created plans

The first step was to create a frame around the top of the wall. I asked why we removed boards just to add new ones and was told that the new boards were bigger. This was super quick.

I’m doing my best to only share pictures of people’s backs since I don’t know if they mind me sharing their faces. This shows the new top board going up to frame the ceiling.

From here, it got a little tricky. We needed to put up metal brackets that would hold wooden beams that spanned the width of the room. The room was not built square, which wasn’t surprising, and we had to get them all parallel and level or the panels wouldn’t work. We used a laser leveler, lots of measuring and some ingenuity to get this part figured out.

The brackets were spaced 24″ apart along the length of the room

While those smarter than me were doing this job, I was out in the barn aisle helping to create the beams that would sit in the brackets. This was really fun and also not something my brain would ever have been able to conjure up. We took the measurements that the boys shouted over the wall at us, cut the board to length, then added a second smaller board to the top of this one, cut it 2″ shorter and screwed it on. This created a T shaped beam that would sit inside the bracket and have a lip to hold the panels.

Creating the T beams. M helped out a lot throughout the day.

Once all the beams were done, they were screwed into the brackets.

Placing the cross beams into the brackets and then securing them with screws which apparently is called “toenailing”.

While the boys were on ladders (another task I refused to do) a group of us headed over to the table saw I got Dusty for Christmas this year and began cutting down large plywood panels into smaller rectangles. The center 24 were easy to do as they were all the same shape, but the short sides of the room were not square so six panels had to be cut with one end wider than the other.

A stack of 24 panels

One final last set of boards needed to be added to the frame work before we could move on. A small 1×2 was added under the T beams to create a more finished look.

The smaller trim piece being placed under the beam to fill in the gap and make it look a lot nicer

Phew! We were nearly there. This next step took forever. Two boards were needed length wise, perpendicular to the T beams to create the proper grid framing for the panels. In order for these boards to sit well, notches were cut out of the T beams. We had discussed doing this while making the T beams, but the fear was that if they were off at all once the beams were installed, it would look awful or not work. So….the guys cut the notches out over head while installed. Not a job for me.

You can see the notches that were cut out of the cross beams

From there it was attaching the beams through that notch to finish the grid

The entire grid is complete

Then we had to take measurements of the openings along the two short side walls. Since the room is not square, we had to make adjustments to create panels that were wider at one end to fit properly.

The panels in place! It looks so so so good and way better than I imagined

We all let out a cheer when the final panel slid into place and we had a completed ceiling. It was a lot of work but with a great group of people all pitching in, it was fun and went by fast.

The pups spent the entire day with us in the barn and were exhausted by the end. Einstein found someone’s discarded coat to use as a bed.

Dusty needs to install new lights since the ceiling went below the height of the old ones but I haven’t decided what I want yet so that is on me. I plan to spend New Years Eve and Day staining the panels a dark brown and painting the beams white to finish it off.

Waggy looked pretty pathetic as well

The next step for the tack room will be to create a door which is proving more annoying than we thought. The opening is an odd size: too big for a single door, too small for double doors so we are weighing our options on that. Once we have a sealed in room, it will be on to organization and then moving everything in. Its a large space, so I have plenty to work with and already know the basic gist of where I want things on which wall. The biggest issue is that I really don’t like having everything on the walls in the open. No matter how organized it still looks cluttered and messy to me, so Dusty has been tasked with building a wall of lockers so my saddles and bridles can all be behind closed doors for a much cleaner look. That is going to take a while to do though, so in the meantime we will make a trip to Ikea for storage ideas and use temporary saddle racks that I already have.

I can’t wait for the tack room to be finished. It will be a great renovation to the barn and one step closer to having it all done.


Karma Is A Real Bitch

Sometimes in life you get exactly what you deserve.

M has been living with us since August and while she is a nice young lady who is kind to Wyatt and follows most of the rules, there are things inherent to having a 17 year old stranger live with you that can drive a person such as myself a bit crazy.

The Monday before Christmas she was home alone. School was out and Wyatt had asked to go to work with Dusty. He loves to watch the surgeries and “help” the front desk ladies. I was at work myself. I came home at 5:30 and saw a note from FedEx on the door with a missed delivery. I admit I was annoyed. Why not answer the door? I knew Dusty was waiting on one last package to arrive and I was frustrated she couldn’t bother to get the door.

Dusty said his package was coming UPS and had no idea what FedEx was bringing. I had him look up the tracking number on the notice and he saw a city he didn’t recognize. His package was coming from Florida and this was a foreign address. He assumed it was from Sweden and M confirmed she was awaiting a package from a friend back home.

Admission #2 here. I was rather gleefully cackling inside at this turn of events. M screwed herself out of getting her own package by ignoring the door. Served her right. Yes, I’m petty and mean like that. With Christmas Eve and then Christmas the next chance she’d have to get to FedEx to pick it up wouldn’t be until Friday. Sucked to be her.

Well, Friday came and Dusty took her to FedEx to get the package. He quickly called me. The FedEx guy told him it was not from Sweden as he had assumed, but instead it was from…..France.

It was my Cambox. Waiting patiently for me at FedEx since two days before Christmas.

I laughed out loud. Served me right to be so mean. Karma strikes again. I really deserved that since had I been nicer we would have gone that night or Christmas Eve day and I wouldn’t have been spending hours trying to contact Cambox to figure out where my camera was.

Of course, I’m not the only one to blame here. Had she just answered the door none of this would have happened. Or had Dusty not assumed it was from Sweden and instead had googled the city, we would have known it was from Cambox. Or had Cambox sent the right tracking number.

But at the end of the day had I not been a vindictive petty you know what, I wouldn’t have been so stressed trying to contact Cambox for days on end.

Live and learn. Always be nice. It’s the right choice every time.



While I’m confused/miffed at Cambox for doing whatever it is they are doing, life is still pretty darn good and chugging along.

Eeyore has been on his best behavior for all rides post the FGF HT debacle, so maybe he has learned a thing or two about not being a turd to start and conserving energy.

Checking out the Christmas present that actually showed up. 32 jump blocks and 54 poles! The options for exercises are now endless.

The number one goal right now is finding that line between him hanging on my hands and backing out of the contact altogether. Trainer gave me some awesome tips, starting with sit the frick up and stop letting him pull me down with him. Shocking I know. I’ve been really working hard at this and it has made a huge difference in his response to me.

It’s still a work in progress as now he is taking to using any contact as an excuse to stop moving his feet and curl his chin to his chest. Lots of leg is needed to keep him moving when he gets bunched up like that but I think we are making some headway.

I also didn’t break his pleasure in jumping as I feared I did. We’ve been working on a mix of dressage stuff and then a few jumps then back to dressage to break it up. I need to jump more often to get the muscle memory of my flow with him and to keep my confidence up. It seems like every fence grows 3’ when I haven’t jumped in a while.

I kept the first exercise simple but man was this a blast to ride. He was forward and happy the entire time and reminded me why I love stadium with him. Now to figure out how to build a proper oxer so I can slay that dragon next.

I don’t want to over do it though and this combination of back and forth is working for both of us at the moment. The real reason I got so many blocks and poles is to build an easy to put up/take down dressage arena inside my jump one. Dusty wracked his brain for a way to make this possible without spending 3k on a true arena. He came up with using jump blocks to elevate poles off the ground, calculated how many we’d need for each side and then ordered letters that stick in the ground as well. The theory is that I can build the dressage court when I want it and take it apart to set up jumps when I don’t. It won’t be perfectly 20m x 60m, I think it’s a foot or so off on each side but it will be close enough. It was an awesome, thoughtful and creative gift that gives me a lot of exercise possibilities. No excuses now for bad geometry.

Trainer has been off having a life in another state for the holidays and I am not so patiently awaiting her return so I can get back under her expert eye. The Pessoa bit she wants me to try is still on back order, ugh the story of my life right now, but as soon as that comes in I’m excited to try it and see if it helps bring him up in the front end. Or at least prevents him dropping down so much in front of a jump.

Christmas Eve and Day were gorgeous. After over 2” of rain the preceding 24 hours we all headed outside for some fun at the pond.

Nothing else super exciting to report. I’m trying to see if I can get Trainer to ride him at Windridge in Feb. Originally I was going to be out of town that weekend, but the place was booked and I had to postpone the trip a couple weeks. This frees up Windridge though and Dusty is off so fingers crossed Trainer isn’t busy that weekend and can get Eeyore some confidence boosting show miles for me.

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season and the ever so slightly longer days if you squint real hard.


Cambox Ruins Christmas

Ok…not really ruins because I still had an amazing Christmas, but the company is pissing me off. I know several bloggers have a Cambox so I’m wondering what your experiences have been with the company?

Here’s the deal. Dusty ordered me a Cambox 3 for Christmas. They charged the card and sent a confirmation email with a UPS tracking number. It supposedly shipped 12/13/19 with 2 day shipping and on their website the order number still says “shipped”.

On 12/23/19 when it still hadn’t arrived, Dusty clicked on the tracking link to get an update only to find out that the tracking number given was invalid. It didn’t exist per UPS. So he called Cambox and it went straight to voicemail. He left a message that was never returned.

We have also emailed the customer service email and dropped a Facebook message to the company as well.


I’m giving them until Friday to respond and then I’m contacting the credit card and getting the charge removed. I’m really bummed though because I was super looking forward to getting one. I don’t like the bulk of the other cameras on the market and have no idea what to get in its place.


A Reflection on 2019

What. A. Year.

I’m going to share my favorite picture from the blog from each month on 2019. Wyatt had asked in January to go on a trail ride, so we loaded Eeyore and Gemmie and headed to the woods. It was a dream come true.

2019 can best be summed up as a year of transformation for me. I am not the same person now as I was to start the year and while I still have a ways to go to be the person/rider I want to be, I’m a heck of a lot closer than I was and I am really proud of that fact.

February saw me getting back on board and trying to figure Eeyore out.

I started 2019 questioning pretty much everything with horses. Did I make the right choice in Eeyore? Should I keep him? Is eventing even the right discipline for me? Am I a good enough rider to do this? Am I brave enough?

March. I tried a new trainer this month and it was awful. We did not click at all. Eeyore and I still struggled to find our groove.

By the time the spring rolled around I knew I needed some outside help and began looking for a trainer that I felt comfortable with and would work with me and my hectic schedule. It took a few misses and until the end of May before I found Trainer AB and my whole world changed.

April. I love this picture because it shows how gorgeous his dull, brittle coat had become. I really pride myself on having shiny horses and he came out of winter looking fabulous.

I first rode with her on May 31, 2019 and from the very first minutes of that ride I knew everything was going to be alright. Hard and scary at times, but alright.

May. This final straw. He was so bad during this ride that I double downed on my search for a trainer to work with us. We found Trainer AB by the end of the month

Trainer AB has completely transformed me as a rider in ways that I have a hard time explaining. Sure my posture is better. Sure my timing of the aides is faster. Sure I don’t lock my elbows as much. But those aren’t the important ways that she has changed me.

June. Hehehehe. Trainer AB hopped on him for one of my lessons and Ho Boy did Eeyore not like that.

At the beginning of 2019 I was a reactive rider both physically and emotionally. I was scared and being scared makes you a bad rider no matter how tall you sit up and how loose your elbows are. Ground poles created anxiety and anything raised over 6″ off the ground threw me into cardiac arrest. I lacked the tools I needed to deal with his exuberance of energy at the beginning of the ride and then lacked the tools I needed to deal with his insistence that he was dying near the end of the ride. And because I was fearful, I’d overreact and end up punishing him unduly or let him get away with things in fear of picking a fight and it escalating.

July. My first xc schooling with Trainer AB. She had me go over this bench. I still can’t believe I jumped this that day. Something about her manner and faith in me gives me wings.

Now I’m no longer afraid. I’m no longer afraid to insist that he does what I ask. I’m no longer afraid to put my leg on and grab mane. I’m no longer afraid to push my own limits. Sure, I’m still a wimp. I don’t like big fences and 2’3″ is giving me heart palpitations sitting here thinking about. But being a wimp and being afraid are two different things and my definition of being a wimp is changing. Where I once felt that 12″ was too high, I now have my heart set on getting around a 2’3″ course without looking like a complete failure. And I will own a starter xc course this spring.

August. I briefly rode Gem in the arena and then quickly remembered why she was retired. Still was nice to see the world between these ears again.

I have a lot to work on still. I need to sit up and stop curling into a fetal position. I need to grab more mane and stay out of his way over the bigger fences. I need to figure out how to get him out of my hands but still in the bridle. I need to work on our bend forever. There is so much to learn. I’m finally in a place where I can learn those things and I have a great team of support behind me to get there.

September. I took Eeyore to his first show. We did the amoeba division schooling rounds and it was a complete blast.

I’m really excited about 2020. I have a trainer I adore, a horse that I love to work with, a supportive family and a big, big dream to conquer the starter division at a schooling HT before the summer lull hits. There is a lot of work to do before then and for the first time in a long time, I feel ready to tackle it all.

October. Another xc outing with Trainer. Eeyore was on fire this entire day. Just look at those happy ears as we launch off this bank.

One of the biggest lessons I learned this year is that while you can technically do eventing alone, it is a whole heck of lot easier and more fun to do it with a “tribe” (I still hate that word) at your back. No way would I have done either of the HTs this year without the support system around me. Sure we failed at the second one, but even failure is easier to swallow when your Trainer texts you with a plan of action and reassurance that it was only a bump in the road.

November. Surviving dressage at my very first full blown horse trial. What a day.

Trainer AB has spun my world on its head and I am loving it. Here’s to more personal growth in 2020!


2010s Picture Challange

Emily from May As Well Event posted a great picture challenge on her blog to post a picture from each year of the last decade as we enter 2020. I’m hopping on this one!


Enter Gemmie. This is the picture from the day I brought her underfed, wormy, sorta ugly body home to a boarding barn in Ohio. It was January 2, 2010. I can’t believe it’s been a decade. Also proof that I wasn’t always a wimpy Southerner and did in fact once live where it was cold and snowy.


My first ever endurance ride! A 25 mile limited distance outing in all the wrong tack and all the wrong clothes. Fun fact: this was the first time I ever rode Gem solo on trail. Another fun fact: We finished in 8th place in a huge field but I didn’t know best condition was a thing so I packed up and went home. We were living in WI at the time and I was in my first year of residency.


Still in WI and now a second year resident which meant life got a lot better. We snuck in a fall trail ride before the trails closed for the year. It was gorgeous.


We had moved down to SC that summer and Pete was still a riding horse. We got a babysitter for Wyatt and hit up my first hunter pace. It was gorgeous and I was addicted from the get go.


Somehow I managed to go all of 2014 with a cell phone and didn’t get any pictures of me on my horse. I did my first 50 mile endurance ride on Gem this year finishing middle of the pack and happy. This is her in camp the day before the ride.


This was followed closely by a February 50 mile endurance ride. I love looking at these pictures and remembering how much Gem ate up the trail. She loved endurance. It is also pretty neat to see how all my gear changed. I was now in an endurance saddle, tights, light weight mesh half chaps, a halter/bridle combo, and sporting a hydration pack. It took me a long time to hone in my endurance equipment.


Long time readers knew this one was coming. I’ve used it a lot. This is from the 100 mile endurance ride I did at Biltmore in the spring. One of the best days of my life. Gem was so happy and on it all day long. We finished middle of the pack and she could have easily kept going had there been more trails to do.


This was the year I hung up my endurance gear and picked up eventing. The above picture was taken while we waited to go in for our dressage test in an amoeba level CT at Full Gallop Farm. We ended up placing in the ribbons which still shocks me. You can see quite clearly why this was the one and only CT we ever did. Gem hated everything about being an arena horse.


Gem retired and Eeyore joined the herd mid 2018 and then immediately went lame. I don’t have many riding pictures from this year since most of it was spent sidelined while he grew his hoof back and I found a farrier who knew what he was doing. This was right as he came back to work before the year ended.


It was hard to pick my favorite from this year. There are so many I love. I think this wins because even though my equitation is awful, I had been petrified of this pipe jump to point where I was shaking. Yet we went and did it and now I’m doing combinations with two pipe jumps and have added a rail on top. Trainer has changed me in ways I can’t even explain.

Thanks Emily for the awesome trip down memory lane.


2019 Blogger Gift Exchange

This is my absolute favorite time in blogland. The gift posts are the best of the entire year and I get just as excited to see what other people get as I am for my own box to arrive.

Olivia from Hellomylivia with the most wondrous Frankie sent me the nicest gifts this year and I love them all.

First is the note which is super cute.

Maybe someday my Orange Butthead will be like her Frankie and I’ll start calling him a unicorn, but until then I’ll keep this stuffed one as a reminder of where we are going.

Eeyore will eat up the Mrs. Pastures in a flash and I’ve been dying to get my hands on a Tiger Tongue and see what all that bad boy grooming tool can do.

Thank you Olivia!!!! Everything is perfect and I hope you and your loved ones all have a wonderful Christmas.