I spent the day showing a Ghanaian colleague and her family on a tour around the local area. I don't think that they had ever been in a rural part of Britain, and were of course fascinated. The children walked the three dogs, then learned how to feed apples to Doru without getting their fingers nipped.
Later it was back to my trailer to paint the new metalwork. You can see the two pieces of welded I-beam on the front, now nicely painted. These add some 50-60lbs on the towbar, which had no weight at all on it before thanks to a design defect. The result, a test showed, is that now I can tow the trailer at 60mph (the legal maximum here) without unpleasant snaking. I ought to see whether I can raise the towing point on my truck too.
With the partition removed (photo to follow), Doru has lots of room. I've noticed that he tends to stand diagonally, and that also brings his weight forward which helps with stability. Really the manufacturer ought to have mounted the axles a little further back. As it is, pulling this trailer containing Doru uses less half of my truck's 3,000kg (6,600lb) towing capacity. That gives a certain safety margin.
So now to try a little excursion with Doru in the trailer. I hope that this shall herald the beginning of a new era of he and I exploring the local area.
More particularly, these springs have arrived on the back of my trailer. I am very happy about this.
Rather thoughtlessly, the trailer was manufactured without springs to counterbalance the very heavy ramp. Hence it took two people to lift or lower the ramp, straining and risking back injury. But now that little problem has been resolved. If necessary, I will be able to transport Doru without assistance.
The workshop manager was grateful even for a small job on a rather untidy trailer. This week he had to fire several workers owing to the recession. The market has slumped for the top quality horseboxes that they manufacture - truck conversions that cost $50-100,000, carry several horses, and offer luxurious accommodation.
Now I just need to get a proper license plate made up for my trailer to be complete.
Rather than buy a water trough, one can be made easily and economically from an old tractor tyre.
First cut the beading off. Then cut through the tyre and unroll it. To retain its form as a trough, the unrolled tyre will need to be nailed to a stout timber which will form a stable base.
This kind of trough will withstand bashing to break ice as well as rough treatment by horses. It will be also be easy to scrub clean.
If made with a sufficiently wide base, it is unlikely to be overturned by horses.
The downside is that a tractor-tyre-trough does not have an especially large capacity. It would be sufficient only for a few horses, and would even then need to be filled regularly.
Still, this kind of innovation provides a safe, feasible way to save money in a recession.
Back in Transylvania, where money often was scarce, this was a common way to make a water trough. The taste of rubber didn't seem to deter horses from drinking, not that fussy horses were too common in that land. No worn-out tractor tyre remained on the rubbish dump for very long.
Mastering the rising trot and developing a quiet hand are amongst the challenges faced by a beginner. So the riding simulator, which might otherwise cause amusement, really is quite a good idea. I saw this model in a newspaper article today.
This simulator can replicate walk, trot, canter and, it is claimed, lateral work. It does come with a rather high (approximately $80,000) price tag. Presumably, there are less expensive simulators that can replicate the trot and canter, useful for developing a good seat and hand. With quality rider training priced at $50+ per half hour in Britain, and rather more for "premium" training, an item like this might prove profitable for a busy, well organised riding centre in or near a metropolitan area.
I remember how difficult it was, when learning to ride, to develop balance and position when the longest trot or canter in a straight line was 40 metres down the long side of the riding school. A realistic simulator might have proven useful.
When running the trail riding centre, I met guests who had never trotted or cantered for more than 40 metres at a time. For them, a 25km trail ride was quite an eye-opener.
I would like to see a project in which the forces applied by riders to their horses are measured. Parameters like pressure under the saddle and tension on the reins, at each pace and in different maneuvers (such as jumping). Modern instrumentation ought to permit real-time measurement of a wide range of pressure inputs whilst the horse works. It might prove to be an excellent project for a group of engineering students in the final year of their degree. For part of the work, perhaps an instrumented simulator might be useful, though the movement of the horse's back under the saddle probably means that a real horse will be needed for meaningful results.
This kind of a project might finally answer questions regarding what really goes on beneath traditional and tree-less saddles. It will also be extremely interesting to find out numerically just what a "contact" really is, and how much it varies between riders.