I LOVE holidays! Not just for the holiday eating and family, but for the complete break from reality. Its a Wednesday, and I'm not at work! How wonderful is that? Instead I got to sleep in, enjoyed super sale prices and no state sales taxes while shopping, and am currently cozy in my in-laws home while the Portland weather steadily assures me that sitting on the sofa with my laptop is indeed the right choice! I don't have a kitchen to clean, meals to make, laundry to do, closets to organize, or any of the other busy and never-ending work that I have at home. I don't even have a horse to ride or a dog to walk! This complete freedom means that I finally have time to reflect just back to the last few months of fun that I've not gotten a chance to write about! We have been BUSY!
I am going to break each of these out into several posts since I have pictures and video to go along with it. We've had plenty of training moments to capture so that I can go back and look at them later. When I look at all we've done, frankly I'm impressed with how well Bear is coming back into work and handling it all.
We've now had several "first times" to add to his list:
first dressage show,
second dressage show,
first time jumping cross rails,
followed immediately by his first time jumping a course at a show,
sprinkle in some impressive progression in a only three dressage lessons,
and a poker ride where (despite him being a little coo-coo for the first part) we won the fourth best hand and looked fantastic in our coordinating Halloween costume!
First of all, to set the scene, we moved to another barn...again! I feel like I'm a transient horse owner based on how many places Lola ended up living (heading off to her lease home was her 9th move to her 6th location), but I guess Bear has had less moves and he spent the last year at the same place: happy in pasture at my parent's house. This worked fine for occasional lessons and hauling out to trail ride or use the community arena, but it got to the point that I had to hook up the trailer and haul several times a week to get anything done. I even hauled out to lunge. Ugh. So when Lola found a lease-home, it became clear I needed to find a place with an arena and jumps, trails nearby, and at least some lights to do some quick riding or lunging after work on weeknights. That's what I needed to make it better than leaving him at my parent's, because really he had it good there! On his side, I didn't want him to have to give up all his horsey freedom since he's always been in pasture or a pasture sized paddock with a buddy. I wanted to be sure it wouldn't turn to a mud pit, since we've had to move because of that before. Quality of care has also been a problem before, as well as his penchant for destroying things. Then of course there is price and gas cost to consider!
I can tell you that I was feeling pretty hopeless for a few weeks. Then I stumbled across the winner: small facility body-wise (only 8 other horses) but really quite large land-wise! It has a good size arena with footing that is still ride-able after a rain and enough jumps to get us started. The six stall barn only has two horses which leaves plenty of hay and tack space and a warm dry lit place to groom or tack up. Add in room for my trailer, outdoor wash rack, and super nice people, and it has turned out to be wonderful! Here's the cherry on top: we have direct access to some of my favorite trails in the area! These have always been my favorite training trails because they are fairly flat, wide with good footing, and since they area is fairly small the trails loop and crisscross giving you endless options to get miles of ride in without having to stay on the same trail out and back. We've been enjoying them regularly, and will be the perfect way to keep him fit and fresh with some long trots and canter sets through the winter.
We still need to get the lights back up and running for winter, but I have faith that piece will fall into place also. As for Bear, he has the best pasture ever! He has a hug big pasture in the very back of the property, and he has it all to himself right now. This means lot's of grass, no competing with others for feed, and plenty to do to keep him happy.
Funny enough, one of the woman there had taken lessons with my dressage trainer in the past, and so we've started to split the travel fee for her to come out to give a lessons at our barn. Now I don't have to plan the extra time for travel or cost for gas! Plus there is an extremely reputable hunter/jumper trainer right next door with an enormous jumping arena with incredible fences and complete with a bank in the middle. As much as I loved my eventing trainer for my jumping lessons, she is always hard to schedule time with, and if I have the choice to WALK next door instead of driving 30 minutes each way, the choice should be clear. I hope I like her, I'm a little intimidated by her, especially being an equitation focused coach! I probably need some ripping apart though.
I've got huge goals for this beastie this year, and I'm excited to have the right set up to support the progress.