Wednesday, November 28, 2012

This Just In

I absolutely love the folks at my current barn. They are friendly, helpful, excellent horsemen and women who truly enjoy their horses and riding. I have had an awesome time with them over the past several months. The only downside is that the barn is located about 45 minutes mileage wise from my house and workplace. I usually encounter heavy traffic on the routes I take to the barn making it a 1.5 hour trip (sometimes longer), 3 hours round-trip. This is usually okay on the weekends, but it really does make it difficult to ride during the week, and I find myself having to psyche myself up to go to the barn. I always enjoy my time when I finally get there, but the trip makes me want to pull my hair out. I've been considering a move for a while now, but I've been reluctant because Kwik and I are doing so well under the instruction and management at my current barn.

An instructor I worked with briefly while I had Finn suggested one farm out my way where one of her students boards, so I took a look at their website. I was absolutely blown away! Never ever in my wildest dreams could I imagine boarding at a place like this! This farm has 400 acres of trails (fields, wooded trails, 3 lakes), grows their own hay, a beautiful barn for the boarders, a large, lit sand arena for the boarders, a grass dressage arena for the boarders, a round pen, a laundry facility, a guest barn, a schooling show facility with 2 dressage arenas, a show jumping arena, and a cross country course designed by Roger Haller (designed the 1996 Olympic XC course!)!! Um, I called to schedule a tour.

The guilt was already starting to eat away at me. Not even an hour after I scheduled the tour, H called to explain that she is planning to relocate the horses to a smaller barn down the street with more grass and wanted to know if Kwik and I wanted to join. The new barn will not have a lit sand footing arena but does have a nice grass area for schooling/jumping.

I toured the new barn today, and it was everything the website promised and more! The barn owner is very nice and knowledgeable, and she took an entire hour giving me a tour of the barn, paddocks and pastures, and driving me around the farm to show me the schooling facilities and trails. I also met several friendly boarders, a farrier, and the farm's vet. The horses were turned out when I arrived, but the two waiting for shoes looked healthy, happy, and well cared-for. The stalls were roomy and clean, the tack room was secure and tidy, the bathroom was nice and clean, and a handful of good instructors come out weekly to teach. I was even invited to their upcoming Christmas party!

I owe so much to my friends at my current barn. I will miss them dearly, but I feel like this new farm offers a lot of great opportunities for Kwik and I. I don't own a trailer so the opportunity to show, school xc, and trail ride onsite is huge. My board will be the same/possibly slightly less, and it took me 45 minutes. The drive was pleasant, and there was NO TRAFFIC. Spending more time caring for and riding my horse is my ultimate concern, so I've all but made up my mind. Come Jan. 1st we will have a new home. I sure hope I'm making the right decision!

Water complex on the xc course.
This could be us someday!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Still Thankful

I can't believe Thanksgiving has come and gone! I drove up to TN to spend some time with my family, and Adam made the trip with me. It was a full house with my mom, dad, sister, Adam, me, and three dogs, but I wouldn't have it any other way (unless I could have figured out how to bring Kwik along too). We did a lot of relaxing and eating, a bit of shopping, and of course, watched the Georgia Bulldogs wreck Tech on Saturday. It was the perfect celebration for a year full of things to be thankful for!

  • I am extremely thankful for my family. Mom and Dad are the reason I have had so many incredible opportunities in both my personal and professional lives. I am eternally grateful for their support!
  • I am so thankful to have a boyfriend like Adam. No one can make me laugh quite like he can. He doesn't understand why I love spending all of my time and money on this "horse thing," but he knows it makes me happy so he's jumping on the bandwagon.
  • My sister Emily is my best friend. I can always count on her to be in my corner, and she is my constant reminder that life is beautiful.
  • Kwik. This horse came into my life when I needed him the most. I was terrified of my current horse, and I was starting to question if I really liked doing any of this at all. He's still green and has naughty moments from time to time, but he's my Huckleberry Friend. I'm so excited to see where 2013 takes us.
  • My amazing friends. There is nothing like sitting around the table with some beers and laughing about old times.
  • My pups. Yoshi and Harpo always put a smile on my face.

It's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays, but this list is my reminder of the reason for the season. I hope everyone had a happy happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Best. Week. Ever.

Last weekend I took a semi spur-of-the-moment trip down to Jacksonville to meet Adam for the weekend while he was on a business trip. We had a very nice, relaxing getaway, which means Kwik also had a nice, relaxing weekend. I was really excited about getting out to the barn this week, and I had three great rides!

Friday I had a mini jump lesson with A. We hopped over our warm-up crossrail a few times, and then moved on to a small vertical. We ended trotting in and cantering out and over a cross rail-small vertical line! He felt confident, balanced, and never once tried to charge through. I couldn't have been more pleased!

One night on our Jax trip, Adam had a few too many beers, and I got him to agree to come out to the barn with me on the weekend for a lesson. The plan was to put him on Pecker in a western saddle and then let him hop on Kwik when he felt comfortable. We were running short on time, so A and I just threw him up on Kwik in an English saddle. A put him on the lunge line for 5 minutes or so while she explained how to sit and steer, and after that he was on his own! I was so proud of Kwik- he took such good care of Adam! How many green OTTBs can you just throw a beginner on and have absolute confidence that he/she will be a saint!?! Actually probably quite a few since OTTBs rock!!! Adam was a little nervous at first, but he really got the hang of things in no time. I'm guessing he had a pretty good time becuase when he got off, he said, "Next time I want to go fast!" Whoa there, John Wayne, baby steps!

"Don't look down unless you want to hit the ground!" says A

All by himself!
Then I got on to finish my jump lesson with A from the previous night. After our warm up cross rail and vertical, A asked us to canter the line from last night. It was amazing! I know the jumps are small and cantering a small line shouldn't really be a big deal, but after everything that happened with Finn, it just seems wild that I'm cantering a line on Kwik two months after purchasing him. I need to work on my position- my leg has a tendancy to come back over the jumps and my form is just bad, but I can't even imagine where we will be in another two months- maybe jumping small courses!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Finn Finds The Perfect Home

Sometimes the stars align and things actually do work out for the best. I was really starting to worry how I was going to keep paying full board for two horses- things were definitely tight. Finn had three test rides from the same girl, but we couldn't tell if she was seriously interested. H had a couple of other interested callers, but she was very upfront about his training issues and flat out told them he wouldn't be a match.

A couple of Saturdays ago, H and I went to lunch with a hunter/jumper trainer that operates out of our farm, and we ended up talking about Finn's issues. S said he'd hop on him when we got back, and Finn was fantastic for him. At the end of the ride, S said he loved him. After the ride, I jokingly asked if he wanted Finn. He looked at me and said that would definitely be something he would be interested in. I didn't even think for a minute before telling S that I would gift Finn to him if he thought he had the time to work consistently with him. After a couple more rides, S told me he definitely wanted him, and just like that, I found the perfect situation for my chestnut boy. S is an extremely capable rider, and he doesn't get rattled when Finn pulls out his bag-o-tricks. Finn gets to stay at my farm, and I get text message and video updates with his progress almost daily!

I had originally hoped to get enough for Finn to cover what I paid for Kwik, but as the months went by, I realized I had paid enough in board to equal his purchase price so it really wasn't worth passing up such a great opportunity. I'm so excited that this whole ordeal is coming to an end, and I don't have to feel guilty about riding Kwik and not having enough time to play around with Finn.

Clearly Finn wasn't the right horse for me, but I don't regret adopting him for one second. Looking back, I learned a lot from this horse. I learned to teach a horse to lunge and to respond to voice cues. I accomplished my first join-up, and I learned a ton about OTTBs in my quest to research as much about my horse's past as I could. I'm so happy Finn has found a home with someone who sees what I saw in him: a beautiful horse with oodles of talent. I can't wait to see what this pair accomplishes in the near future!