At this point, almost everyone in the country has been affected in some way by COVID-19 whether it be sickness, employment restrictions, staying home etc. Social distancing is an important step in “flattening the curve” and will aid in protecting the most vulnerable. This may have also impeded on your riding and lesson times, unfortunately. There should be a call in line for equestrians going through barn withdrawal symptoms, (they’d just tell you to add more leg and hang up- but then it would work!). Quarantine doesn’t have to be boring if you use a little imagination and creativity. Get those juices flowing with some good old fashioned creativity! With less social interaction, keeping your brain focused and busy on other things helps with maintaining your mental health during these depressing times.
If you have a Pinterest, you’ve probably seen lots of projects that look enticing for when you have some time on your hands (one of the few good things to come out of the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic).
Make your own jump course
If you’re looking for a good-sized project that can keep you busy for several days, making your own jump set is a huge money-saving opportunity and a fun project for 2 if you’ve got a willing roommate or significant other. Make yourself a list and head out to the hardware store- remember to keep your distance and only touch the items you know you will be purchasing!
There are not that many components to a jump, keep it simple at first until you find an efficient construction method. The few parts are:
Check out Budget Equestrian’s guide to building your own jumps for a fraction of the price to buy them:https://www.budgetequestrian.com/building-a-set-of-horse-jumps-for-less-than-300/
You don’t have to go all out with gates, ferns and liverpools right off the bat. Start off with just a few simple verticals, oxers or cross rail sets. If you’re laid off temporarily because of the coronavirus, this is a great way to make some extra cash for board or future horse shows! This is also a way to customize a jump any way you want. If you know your horse has attention issues with loud and crazy jumps, or want to match your barn’s colors and logo, go for it, you’re working on a blank canvas. Full jump sets can cost thousands of dollars to buy already made, so make the most of your time and get to drilling!
Organizing the tack room
One task that is on every barn manager’s to-do list for a rainy day is organizing the tack room. Putting together some tack room furniture can be a helpful tool in bringing some needed organization to a bunch of saddles, bridles, pads and whatever else seems to always be just laying wherever.
One way to organize strap goods is to create a hanging apparatus to decrease tangling, give off a neat appearance in the tack room for visitors and ease of finding items. Hanging strap goods such as bridles, breast plates, halters etc. allows for ease of cleaning as well.
If you have any toy horses laying around from the good ol days, now you finally have a use for them-- that is if you don’t mind sawing them in half. Using a saw and sander, cut several toy horses in half perpendicularly and sand so the cut surface is smooth and even.
Next, find a wide enough board that fits all of the toy horses in a line with a couple inches in between. Old barn floor boards would work great here! Mark where each horse will be placed when ready for attaching.
Sand down the board of your choosing to make a flat surface for the toy horses to flushly adhere to.
Using a strong adhesive, stick each toy horse cut side down onto the board where marks were made.
After the horses are securely attached to the board and the adhesive has dried, you may paint (or not!) the horses to whatever color you wish. Metallic spray paint is available in several colors to add a traditional brass, silver or iron color to the horses.
When the paint is completely dry, you may hang bridles, stirrup leathers or whatever to make your tack room less cluttered.
Another tack room organizational item that can easily be made during the coronavirus quarantine is a saddle pad rack.
Saddle pads are one of the most commonly hoarded items for equestrians- there’s fluffy ones, non-slip ones, half pads, full pads, close contact pads, shiny ones, and the ones that match those breeches that you hardly ever wear.
Making a saddle pad rack is super easy and can be done in a few different ways, depending on what you have on hand and how many you have.
Similar to the bridle rack discussed above, instead of toy horses, pieces of pvc piping cut to the length of the spine of the pads can be used. This provides a sturdy place for the pads to drape over without causing indentations and marks on the fabric.
Another way of organizing saddle pads is to find an old clothing rack and purchase skirt hangers (hangers with clips). Simply attach the hanger to the pad at the spine by the clips. Make sure that the pads are receiving proper air flow to the underside for drying to prevent bacteria build up.
Quiet cross ties
Always annoyed with the loud clanking noise whenever you let go of the cross tie? Not only is it loud for you, but can be distracting and create tension in your horse as well. Cutting slits into tennis balls and sliding one on each cross tie just behind the clip will significantly cut down on the loud noise. The use of tennis balls also helps with horses that tend to chew on the metal clips as the tennis ball is much larger in width and made of forgiving rubber.
Deck out your brushes
Calling all artists! Wooden horse brushes are a wonderful blank canvas to work with and add a personal touch to. This is another great way to make a few extra bucks during the coronavirus quarantine. This can be done with wooden body brushes or wooden mane and tail brushes with a wide back. Painting you or your horse’s name gives them a eye-catching personalization and makes them easy to identify and find. Using stencils and painter’s tape makes clean lines and a neat appearance achievable.
Hand painted brush sets are available in a range of prices depending on the detail level of work done.
Make sure to protect the bristles before painting the handle with painter’s tape or plastic wrap. If paint runs onto the bristles, it will clump them together rendering them almost useless at giving that even shine or effortless flicking motion for removing dirt.
It may be difficult to see, but there is a silver lining to this pandemic: more time to do things you didn’t want to sacrifice your weekends for. So, slap on that mask and dust off those paint brushes!
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