Friday, July 31, 2009

Cavy Care - A Dream Home for a Guinea Pig

I don't talk much about my pigs (Guinea pigs that is), and I'm not sure why because I really am fond of them. I've had them for about 9 months and have learned a lot about them in that time. I never realized just what great pets they make. They have a similar personality to a horse, and maybe slightly more attitude. Anyways I want to write about the proper way to cage your Cavys (pigs, G-pigs, etc).

When I first was looking into getting some pigs I found the greatest site on the net for Cavy care. The Guinea Pig Cages Forum is the CoTH of the Guinea Pig world.
Guine Pig Cages Forum The greatest thing from this site though is the site it originates from, Guinea Pig Cages . This is where I learnt to build my pigs a palace.

The first and most important thing to determine is the size you need. This is determined by how many pigs you have of course! Much like a horse should have at least 3 acres, pigs need a certain amount of space to be happy also. Here is a great chart from the GP Cages website:

Originally I had 3 pigs so I went for the 13 sq ft cage, however I lost the old girl Annabelle months ago so the other two have the big thing all to themselves. So, what's so great about these "special" cages?

Some highlights:

  • Lots of room = more exercise = healthier pig!

  • Great ventilation.
  • Easy to clean.

  • Move able.

  • Changeable, can be made bigger or smaller or different shapes.

  • More fun for the pigs - more to see and do.

  • Cheap.

  • Easier to see and play with your pigs!

So, what's the deal with these cages? They are made out of shelving cubes and coroplast. Sounds strange right? It is but once you get the idea you can see how sweet these things really are.

Materials Needed to Build a Pig Palace:

  • Cubes; they come in various packages, but you want the ones that are 14" and the inner squares are 1 1/2". Anything bigger can be a danger to the GP. They come complete with connectors and run about $12-$30 a box. I found mine at good ol' Walmart, but most home decor stores have them now
  • Coroplast; the plastic board used to make signs. Comes in all sorts of sizes and colours. Remember you have to be able to bend it so don't choose one that is too wide. I picked up a massive sheet from Home Depot for $5 I think.

  • Cable ties; you need these to add extra security to your cage, the connectors will work but this will make it indestructible!! You can find these at any home hardware or farm store and are under $10 a bag.
  • Extras: Exacto knife, measuring tape, and pliers.

How to Put it all Together

I won't go through the steps since you can click here: and get a great step by step guide.

You have options in making your cages, you can do them open, closed (if you have other animals), or multi level. I made mine open, and it really makes a difference in the ease of feeding and cleaning. Plus I get to see the little fatties easily lazing on their hammocks.

For examples there is a huge gallery of all types of C & C cages here:

So, if you have pigs and are keeping them in a pet store cage, please re consider. Take a night, a bottle of wine and build yours their own pig palace.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Success! Event Pony in the Making

What a great weekend! I was having some major doubts whether the event would run after the week straight of rain we got, including a torrential down pour that flooded a whole area of our city's basements. Alas, the sun came out Saturday, and although it was supposed to storm all day Sunday there was not a cloud in the sky! We had a nice hot day to dry up the ground.

We arrived at the temporary stabling at about 9:30am. They were open airy stalls under a coverall, both the horses settled right in. This what I love about Fandango. After all he's been through, he is so easy going and laid back. He parked his face in front of the hay net and munched away quietly. He drank a bucket of water as soon as we got there also. There was a mare stabled beside him and since she wasn't interested in him, he stayed nice and relaxed.

We had two hours before our dressage tests so we set up a tent since we were at the end of the aisle. We had lots of snacks and drinks and had a great relaxing morning before we had to get into gear. We were having a little too much fun, as we realized we only had 1/2 an hour to tack up and make the trek to the dressage area! We made it there with about 10 minutes for warming up. The footing was shot, but that was expected with all the rain and grass rings. I would say the ring I was in was probably the worst off too but none the less we went in with no warm up and lots of leg.

Fandango was a really good boy and tried his hardest to stay focused with 2 other rings running beside him, his friend in the warm up ring and the 2 inches of mud under his feet. I think I used every ounce of energy I had to get him through that test, but he was the good pony he is and did a fine job. We ended up tied for 5th with a %62.5! Not bad at all considering the warm-up, footing, and his first ever w/t/c dressage test. I was really thrilled with the score, and it was a nice confirmation his training is heading in the right direction.

After dressage we had a 3 hour break. Our troupe showed up to watch our tests, and we set up an ever better camp now that everyone was there. I walked the cross-country course again and was really excited to ride it. It looked big for pre-entry but extremely inviting and I was excited to see what the pony would think of it. I was the most worried about the first fence. It was along the warm up ring and plunked in the middle of the field. There was only one horse before me so I wasn't going to really get a chance to see how the course rode.

The event was being run with stadium before cross country. I was the most nervous about the stadium as Fandango had only really jumped one full course before this. He had jumped lots of fences, and bits of courses, but only one full course before. The fences were really nice however and the course looked flowing. The footing had miraculously held up and I thought it was well within our abilities.

So, after a few hours of spectating and wandering around we tacked up and headed to the stadium. I was second in and really had no idea what the pony was going to think of all this. He picked up a nice canter and jumped the first oxer nicely, we had a bad spot to the second fence and took a rail. I kicked him on and with a few not-great fences and mostly really nice fences we ended up with three rails down but a great feeling of knowing he jumped around a very colourful course willingly. I was not disappointed with our rails because I was so ecstatic that he was such an honest guy. The distances and what not will come with more schooling, but you can't really train bravery and honesty into a horse.

After stadium it was back to the barn to switch tack and head right back for the cross country. Fandango had a little drink and a 10 minute break with his saddle off while I got changed and gathered his gear. I had the best groom taking charge and preparing the pony and myself, and before I knew it I was on and heading to the cross! I didn't need much warm up so I popped over an x and that was it. I had 3 minutes to walk and do a little trot then into the start box. I always enter the box as the timer starts counting down. It's a habit from my old event horse Westie who could under NO circumstance stand still in that thing. So in and out we went and we took a nice canter to the first fence. He popped over it like it was easy and on we went to the second fence. He gave a BIG look at that one but with my leg on and a little growl he went over that one and number 3 right after easily. After the third fence he got into what this was and really picked up a gallop (well a gallop for him). He jumped the rest of the course beautifully and was light and forward. We ended up clean, and after his round he wasn't breathing hard or sweating. He got the OK from the vet - and that was it! We were done! Fandango had completed his first event and in good style I thought.

We ended up in 7th place, out of 14. Not bad at all. Now that I know he is capable of going out there and doing it, I can ask a bit more of him in the stadium. I just want to say THANK YOU! To everyone, my mom for coming down to see me, my roomie for coming out after work and cleaning my tack for me the night before. The barn clan for their unlimited support and encouragement, (plus snacks and beer), to my boss for lending us her trailer, and to the guy who was the best groom ever...would not have been the same without you. One Five Three baby.

Friday, July 24, 2009

T-2 Days Until Fandango's First Event!

So just 2 more days until the big day. I got my times this morning and I ride the dressage at 11:25. Not too bad since it's only about a 20 minute drive with the trailer from where I board and work. I will still be working that morning so I shouldn't have to get up too too early to get things done before we leave. The other horse going with me ride right after me. We've pined the name Team BBQ - Big Butt Quarter Horse - as both ponies are totally big butt QHs (or mix).

I had another good dressage school last night as I was rained out from jumping outside. Hopefully the rain will hold off and I can pop some fences tonight. I'm going riding with my favorite riding buddy and then we are going out for Pho after. Riding together and then a date, what could be better? ;)

I picked up another fish for my office today. They recommended a beta since they can survive well in bowls, and are low maintenance. His name is Eli and so far he seems to be doing well in his new home. I look forward to learning more about these fish and becoming more knowledgeable aquatic pets. So far I have learned they need the chlorine fighter, one pellet of feed 2-3 times a day, and their tank cleaned every 3 days or so. So really I know nothing but I am all about learning.

Off to finish up some work and then get ready for my night! My mom will be coming up to watch my event so can't wait to see her and finally get out on the cross-country! Whoo!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

T-3 Days till' Fandango's Eventing Debut

So only 3 days until the (not so) big event. So far this week the pony has been going really well. Last night I did a short dressage school, and then took him for a canter through the back fields and over a small course of cross-country fences. He jumped everything nicely and was fairly forward at the end. Tonight, since it's been raining all day and I have to ride Arch after, I will probably just do a really good longe school with side reins. It seems to really help his canter and it improves a little each time we work on the longe.

Last night I was asked to do a flat school on the one of the horses going to the event, Joy. She is a little Quarter Horse mare that is used in the school and hunts. She is the farm owners daughters horse. I joked that I really shouldn't be riding the competition. Sadly, my good friend who also boards there was supposed to be going but his horse turned up with some bad bruising on his hoof wall. He just got new shoes so hopefully he will be back on track soon and we can hit the next event together.

It should be good fun. There are quite a few of us going from the barn, lots of people there to help and socialize! It's what I love about eventing!

On another note, I bought myself a fish for my new office at work. I got a decent sized fish bowl, and picked up a black moor Goldfish. These are my favorites, I used to have one years ago. Well the fish wasn't in the tank 15 minutes before it died. Frig! I figured it must have just been a sickly one, so back to the store I went to exchange.

The chick at the counter asks me if I have the dead fish. "Are you serious?" I asked her. "Yes, otherwise how do we know the fish actually died".

Ok, I get it, but seriously. I had to argue with this chick for 20 minutes about how if I had known I needed to return the dead fish, I would have kept it. I also included that there was no way I would spend all this time trying to rip off a pet store for $3.00, when I clearly bought a fish bowl only big enough for one fish, etc. So finally she agreed to let me exchange it and I went back to work with another black moor.

This one seemed to fair better yesterday afternoon, however I came into work this morning to find him floating belly up. Clearly, going to have to do some more research into what I'm doing wrong before I get another one. I hate the idea of having all these little fishy victims.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

T- 5 Days - Fandango's Eventing Debut

Well I haven't been able to post much. I have been very busy house sitting, and I just got a promotion at work -YAY me!- However there is an important date coming up so I want to make sure I blog all this week leading up to it.

Fandango is entered in his very first event! Having done one show, and one cross country and stadium schooling away from home, this will be his 3rd time off the property. We are doing the very teeniest level Pre-Entry.

The OHTA's description of the level is here:

Pre- Entry Division

The Pre-Entry (PE) level is designed to introduce green horses and riders to Horse Trials combining dressage, cross country and jumping tests. It is designed for competitors and horses that have already had experience schooling competitions in all three disciplines. The entire experience should be safe, inviting and educational to build confidence and a desire to progress.The PE divisions must be conducted under the guidelines of an EC competition Classification. An EC accredited Technical Delegate is used at all EC Competitions. The PE divisions are open to horses of four years of age and up and riders of all ages. The OHTA will be tracking junior Pre-Entry points a rider/horse combination accumulates over the season for year-end points and awards, however you MUST be a full OHTA member in order to collect year end points…day memberships will not count for year end points.

Description of the Tests

Dressage Test

Competitors should be prepared to do a walk, trot and canter dressage test with 20 meter figures and a halt. PE divisions will use the Entry division tests that are printed in the Canadian Eventing Omnibus.

The Cross Country Course

The cross country cross should include a variety of introductory obstacles including a bank up, a shallow natural ditch, a brush fence and possibly an inviting water crossing. Obstacles must have a minimum of two strides (10 meters) between two numbered obstacles. Such combinations of straight forward efforts are the only obstacles of several elements that are permitted. The fences shall be simple, straight forward, clear in definition, solid in appearance, with true ground lines and inviting to jump. No obstacle shall exceed the height designation.

  • Approaches to obstacles should be on flat or gently rising terrain.

  • Corner fences or bounce fences are not permitted

  • Only 50% of obstacles should be of maximum height. Height not to exceed .85 meters

  • One set of related fences with a minimum of 2 strides (10 metres) (of the simple variety) is permitted

  • Water may be flagged on the exit side only and no jumping effort permitted entry or exit.

  • An option to the water crossing is mandatory

  • Ditches - A shallow natural ditch is permitted. The take off must be well defined and .the obstacle clearly visible as a ditch

  • Banks - A Bank Up (minimum 2 strides) is permitted
    Drops - No obstacle of any height may precede the drop. The speed and length of the Cross

Country course must not exceed the specifications below:

Speed must be below 350 meters per minute
Distance of track must be under 2000 meters
There must be less than 18 fences on the x-course

Timing of these divisions is optional, however if the division is to be timed, it must be stated in the Omnibus. Excessive Speed Penalty ( if timed ) is as follows: cross country (Phase D) - each commenced second in excess of 30 seconds under the optimum time will be penalized by 1 penalty point if the division is timed. The division may be timed for educational value only with no penalties assessed at the discretion of the organizer.

The Jumping/Stadium Course

The Jumping or Stadium course should be inviting and straightforward and shall be designed within the specifications and dimensions. The course shall include a variety of straight and spread obstacles with true ground lines and may include one double combination of two strides (10 meters). The speed and length of the Pre- Entry Jumping/Stadium course must not exceed the specifications below:

Speed must be below 300 meters per minute.
Height not to exceed .85 meters
Distance of track must be under 450 meters
There must be less than 10 fences on the stadium course

This is a walk in the park for me as a rider, I've evented up to Intermediate in the UK, but this will be a nice challenge for the pony. It won't be *too much* of a challenge though. He is really ready for the dressage. He still needs a lot of work on his canter transitions but his canter is really coming along beautifully. This will be his first walk, trot, canter dressage test. If you want to see the test we are doing you can look here:

He should be ready for the cross-country as he has been jumping a lot bigger at home, and a lot of different types of fences. He is a very honest guy, our only qualm is steering and moving off the leg. Oh, and he is kind of lazy. This event is known to be on the more difficult side so if we make it around successfully then I will be very happy.

I had back to back dressage lessons with Archie yesterday and Sunday so I myself should be riding decently. I will be doing a dressage school tonight with him, and most likely a conditioning ride tomorrow. Starting to get very excited, this is my first event in quite a long time and I've worked hard to get here!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The One Thing I HATE About Being Single

You know, I don't mind being single. If you've read my blog I'm sure it's obvious. I wouldn't say I am anti-relationship, but I am definitly anti-settle, anti-relationship out of convienience or boredom. I love boys, especially really fit ones, but I tend to be a bit on choosy side. Not because I think I'm all that or anything, more or less because I figure if I'm going to be something, the person I am should at least be at the same level.

I work, so I expect them to have a job. They don't have to make millions, but just something to keep them busy, and have them on the way to a future. I like to keep fairly fit, so I expect whoever I'm also with to be in decent shape. I'm not saying they can't be chubby or flabby, but they have to get a little exercise here and there. I'm insanely active, so they have to be able to keep up! The other thing is having your own hobbies, and life. I'm definitly someone who needs time away to do my own thing and would hope anyone I was with had their own thing they loved to do too. Passion is sexy, and in the future you can do both your things together!

Anyway, I'm getting side tracked but basically this is why I have a problem meeting guys I'm interested in. Guys my age seem to be stuck in this weird new generation - live with their parents until they are 30, have no care for their future thing. Is that even a new thing...? I think that's a wholllle other blog topic. So basically, I do enjoy being single. I enjoy my life right now but the one thing I want more than anything is my own piece of hobby farm heaven.

I have a gorgeous apartment I love, and my horses are both at great facilities, but more than anything I want my horses in my own backyard. Just something small to start, but enough for 3 or 4 horses comfortably. With the amount I pay in rent, board, gas, etc I could more than easily afford a small mortgage. I would be paying LESS than I pay now overall. Include taxes, insurance, heating, etc...I would STILL be paying less. I have at least two friends who would rent rooms if I wanted, and could easily board one or two horses. I grew up taking care of my own horses, so I am well aware of the work involved! I could be investing money in something instead of throwing it away to other people when I would much rather do the work myself!

I find it really hard boarding my horse. I'm anal, I like things done the way I like them done. I hate that I can't just bring my horse when I want, or throw him as much hay as I want. I hate that I can't sit in the barn and drink beer until 3am and play with my ponies. I have had that ability my whole life, it's been a hard adjustment.

So what does this have to do with being single? One word: MORTGAGE. I can't get a mortgage because I am single. Unless I have an unorthodox down payment to put down, or someone to co-sign I will NOT be able to get a mortgage. Not even a small one. Talk about stuck in the ages. Maybe back in the day it was the norm for most 25 year olds to be married or engaged, but nowadays that's not always the case. It's hard enough as it is living in this world as a single with people judging you, and having to pay all costs when couples get to split. Now they are making it nearly impossible for singles to get ahead. I have a GREAT job, two jobs at that, decent credit, and a good education...I qualify financially for a mortgage but because *hold your breath* I'm **single** I am not a good candidate.

Can I please express my distaste and anger through this keyboard?


Thank you.
So now, where do I go from here? I have found two lovely farms which are well within my price range but without a mortgage approval I am S.O.L. With housing prices falling this is the time to BUY, and the realtors tell me first time buyers have it made since they do not have to sell before they can buy. So why O why, am I getting screwed for being single?

Do I have to wait for this---> to get my hobby farm heaven?

Any advice is welcomed with open arms ;)

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