Wednesday, June 17, 2015


I have a lot of the obstacles we need for WE at SQA. We have weave poles, barrels, jumps, and poles for the obstacles that use those things. Additionally, J and I have designed and executed a Big Blue Bull for garrocha practice and we built a gate. That left only two obstacles I really needed to be able to do ALL of the things, which according to J is a failing of mine (wanting to do ALL the things.)

One of the big ones was a bridge. Bridges are very popular in trail classes and WE. We must have a bridge. However, I did not have a good design, nor did I have the wood, and wood can get expensive when you are talking about building a bridge. I put the idea of building a bridge on the back burner and instead, played with the stuff that I have already.

Wednesday of last week, I had gone to the barn to ride Ashke. We did a little bit of dressage riding in the arena, maybe 45 minutes worth, and then I tucked him into his stall with his mash. On my way home I got stuck in traffic. One of my downfalls is that I would rather drive an extra twenty minutes than sit in traffic for ten, so at one of the streets that was horribly backed up in all directions, I tried to find a different way home. I ended up on the frontage road, knowing I could take the road that runs past the drive-in to get home, but when I turned down it, it was backed up for more than a mile. There was no way I was sitting in that line, so I swung into the parking lot of an industrial area to turn around. Right there against the fence was a couple of extra long pallets (12 feet or so) with a sign that said Free Wood. It was like a gift from the free wood fairies.

As soon as I was home, I told J that we were going back for the wood. She rolled her eyes but agreed. We ate dinner and then I dragged her out to help me retrieve it. It took everything we had to get the one pallet in the truck. The two other pieces we grabbed were parts of pallets and not as heavy. When we got home, I inspected the longest pallet we had grabbed, evaluated the wood, and then cut off three feet, leaving a nine foot beginning to be a bridge piece that we carried down and put on the patio.

See my extraordinary find? The long pieces (3) that ran down the sides were solid and in great shape. The wood on top of this piece were 1x4 and not in good shape. I removed them. Then I flipped the piece over and took the 1x4 that was on the top, running parallel to the long 2x4 off. That wood really wasn't salvageable. It was wet to begin with and beginning to rot. In some places I could pull it apart with my hands. I was left with three nine foot long 2x4's and three 41" long 2x4's as cross braces.

It was time to separate the good wood from the bad. I pulled apart the second pallet piece leaning against the fence. After some thought, I cut the long pieces of 2x4 to an eight foot length (the length of a full piece of plywood) and then pulled five additional pieces of 41" 2x4's to use as crossbraces. I ended up spacing the cross braces every 15", which I calculated, would support the weight of a heavy horse, given the top was one piece (hence trimming the length to 8').

I added four 2' high pieces of 2x4 to the sides, to act as support for the rails I was going to attach to the bridge. Then J and I went to Lowe's. We got a full piece of ply and had them make the cut at 41" (they can cut it exactly straight - something I'm not known for) and non-slip covering for the top. We purchased some hardware to attach the top to the base (thinking we could move and store them separately) but that didn't work, so we ended up screwing the top to the base.

The upright pieces of wood on the sides became the supports for the rails. The length and width were exactly correct. I love it when that happens. We used dry wall screw to secure the top to the bottom, once we had the cover in place.

We stapled down the vinyl covering, which is the no slip, ribbed floor cover.

Then we screwed the top down, including through the vinyl covering at the cross pieces.

I made the side rails out of PVC pipe I originally purchased when I was trying to set up a course at TMR. It has been laying on the back patio since I pulled it off the property at TMR. We used a dremel to cut holes in the pipe to fit the top piece (7' long) onto the four foot tall side pieces. We used a 1" round piece to create the second rail. We used parachute cord to tie the pieces together and then I reinforced the joints with cable ties. And added caps to the end of the top rail.

Not only did it work out the way I expected, horses can walk across it safely.

I used an internal 3" connector for irrigation pipe attached to the side support pieces with metal rings that tighten with a screw driver. I tightened the rings with the supports in place, then cut four short pieces of PVC to act as place holders when I take the rails out. I knew I would have to store the bridge on it's side and didn't want to squish the side pieces. It works really well, in my opinion. Total cost to me was about $100. It would have been maybe $250, if I would have had to purchase all of the wood and the PVC and the hardware.

And this was my version of the Livestock pen. I had the cones and the PVC pipes from my attempt to create a WE course at TMR. I cut the poles in half and added a metal eye ring. Then I cut a piece of rope to the correct measurement and ran it through the eye rings. I used the set of dressage cones I purchased on sale several months ago to create the middle ring and stole the stuffed walrus from T's childhood collection for the "animal" in the middle. It worked pretty well, although I can't wrap my mind around cantering that circle. We walked. (The Livestock Pen is ridden at a walk or a canter).

I'm pretty pleased with my utilization of items I already had in expanding the obstacles we are practicing on.


  1. You win at obstacle crafting! I got to the last picture and oggled it for a second all, "Is that...a....WALRUS?!...." and was amused to read the detail below it.

    1. T wouldn't let me bring the tiger . . .

  2. I couldn't imagine cantering that circle. You make WE sound like a lot of fun. I don't know anyone in my area who does it, but if there was I would be tempted to give it a whirl.

    1. Ashke loves it because he is a thinker. . . . he loves to puzzle through whatever it is we are working on. He has learned so much and grown so much in the past year. We still love the trails, but this is also a passion for both of us.

  3. This is just awesome! The bridge looks fabulous, and that's a really nice touch with the vinyl covering!

    The Livestock Pen...Pedro Torres and Oxidado make that obstacle look especially easy, but man does the horse have to sit on the haunches to do that small circle in collection. I had set up something of similar dimensions at the FL barn and then realized just how much work we would need to do before we could strive to do it correctly at the canter! With the guidance you're getting, I have no doubt that you and Ashke will succeed at it! :D

    1. And I too laughed at the walrus...and then had the Beatles' song "I Am the Walrus" song stuck in my head after...hahahaha...

  4. your Mom told me about your new adventure. I finally got to read and see about it this morning. Good job. I hope T had a good run!