Author Archives: KC Scott

Start at the Trainer’s, End at the Vet

P has been…somewhat subdued lately. I first noticed it when, after having 5 days off after Hillcrest, I went out to the barn and was able to do this:

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He seemed his regular self the next day, Friday, when I took him for an hour long trail ride though, and also on Saturday, when we moved to the new barn and went exploring.

He got off Sunday, then Monday was the lesson with Trainer J, where his inner-turtle shone through, but I just figured he was showing off for Trainer J as usual. And promptly ordered a dressage whip.

 

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It’s here!

 

Tuesday we popped around the jumps in the arena and a couple on the trail. Seemed fine. Wednesday I put my dressage tack on and he was again, behind the leg, but I attributed it to him being distracted by all the horses being turned out and him having to work in the dressage arena.

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Which leads us to yesterday. Tacking him up at Trainer B’s, he looked like this, despite people riding horses out in the field- something he usually watches intently.

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It was a bit hot, around 85 degrees, when I got on and started warming up. Where upon Trainer B remarked, “He’s quite calm today.”

Me (huffing and puffing because we trotted one whole lap and I practically had to pony kick the entire time): “A little too calm.”

So, ok. Maybe jumping will perk him up. But P just trots up, jumps, and…trots away.

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Ok then.

So then we cantered it and it takes me the full length of the arena to convince him to canter, but we do and he lands…trotting again.

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Since when?

So Trainer B decided to take advantage of the calmness and points us to the spookier jumps- the white lattice he’s stopped at, the flamingo jump he’s stopped at, the brush oxer he’s stopped at (see a theme?) and the liverpool, which we’ve never jumped but P always gives the side eye to when we go past it.

This will definitely get the energy going.

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He jumped all of them, no stops…but promptly halted himself after each one.

Trainer B: Are you sure you brought the right horse?

Me: Ummmm, actually no.

So then we head to the field because just MAYBE that will wake him up. And because the roll top is out there and heaven knows he needs all the roll top jumps he can get. Trainer B says to gallop over the ditch. I ask for the gallop, P offers no more than a gentle canter, and then slows himself down right after. That NEVER happens.

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So we do the ditch a few times until I LOOK UP AND STOP STARING INTO THE DITCH (for goodness sakes, woman, pull it together), then go to the dun, dun, dun…rolltop.

And he stops.

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Ok, so I did bring the right horse. That’s something, I suppose.

Rein back, trot, he goes over it, and the little plank behind it. So then Trainer B has us start at a log down the hill from the RT, go over the RT, down over the plank, rollback to the right to go over the vertical and end with the ditch.

 

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P when he heard the course

 

P goes over the log, over the RT, over the plank, then I turn him right to head down the hill to the vertical and…he stopped. Not at the jump, oh no, we didn’t get that far. Just stopped, like his battery died and he couldn’t go anymore.

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By this time, Trainer B has already checked his pulse, his temp and his gums. Because something just isn’t right. So we decide to quit, because even though he’s physically looking ok, this just isn’t him. And Trainer B advises to give it a couple days and if he’s still like this, maybe have the vet do a blood panel.

LOL at Trainer B for thinking I’d wait a few days.

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As soon as I pulled out of the driveway, I called the vet, since their clinic is in the same town as Trainer B’s. I asked if anyone was around to draw blood and miraculously, a vet was on his way back from a call and could do it within an hour or so.

So we got there to wait.

P when you sit in the truck:

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P when you sit by the fence:

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What a stalker.

Then the vet got there and drew some blood. It only took TEN MINUTES to get the results back.

His white blood cell count was a bit low, but temp was normal. Vet thinks he’s been fighting a low-grade fever, which would explain the lethargy.

Then the muscle enzyme CK (Creatine kinase) was slightly elevated as well. AST was trending upwards but still in normal range, which indicates some muscle stuff going on. He palpated P and P was visibly sore from withers to hindquarters. And I’m not entirely sure why. I’ve palpated his back before and P just looks around like he’s bored. The vet does it and he’s practically on the floor.

The vet wasn’t too concerned at this time, though he mentioned the dreaded term “saddle fit” and I just about threw myself on the floor and had a tantrum.

 

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$85 lesson turned into $200 vet visit. Lucky I kinda like you.

 

So P got a shot of B-12 to increase his energy (never thought I’d EVER pay for something to do that) and then got sent home with 3 days worth of Robaxin, a muscle relaxant. So I had to bring out my trusty medical supplies from the ulcer days:

 

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This looks familiar

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The only way P will eat pills

 

My friend is going out there today to do PEMF on him, and we’ll probably go for a light ride. He’ll get Saturday and Sunday completely off, then supposed to have a Trainer J lesson Monday morning.

Always something with horses.

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Speak to Me of Equine Nutrition

Awhile ago, Emma from Fraidy Cat Eventing did a great post on her TBs nutrition plan and how it’s evolved since restarting him. Since I board, I’ve never really given too much in-depth thought to P’s nutrition beyond what I can control (supplements, meds), because otherwise I’d drive myself crazy with research. Then we went through the whole ulcer thing and I had to make some decisions.

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Always a string bean. P when I bought him as an almost-4 year old

For the last 2 years at the H/J barn, P has been fed SafeChoice Original + free choice fescue hay. He lost some weight when I moved him there in 2015, so the barn initially put him on half SafeChoice Original and half SafeChoice Perform. He didn’t take too kindly to the Perform (aka ROCKET FUEL), so we nixed that and only fed him the Original. While his spookiness/hotness leveled off somewhat, he was still a bit ribby so I added SmartPaks of the FatCat supplement in for 2 months and he looked great again.

 

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October 2015

 

 

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March 2016

 

 

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October 2016

 

Then when I got him back from the sale barn at the end of April he had lost a lot of topline and was back to being thin and ribby.

 

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April 2017

 

He gained back weight and some muscle, but then I had to face the music and deal with ulcers. In July he was scoped and ulcers were confirmed, so I added U-Shield to his feed, and then with the vet’s blessing, switched from SafeChoice to Triple Crown Senior. SafeChoice is pretty high in NSCs (non-structural carbs) and therefore is not ideal for ulcer-prone horses.

He definitely lost weight when we switched, so the barn increased his intake from 1 scoop 2x/day to 2 scoops 2x/day (8.5Lbs total per day), and I added the FatCat in back in. It’s barely making a dent- P’s weight loss has stalled, it seems, but he’s lost just about all of his topline and his withers and flanks are sunken in. Especially untacked and in the right sunlight…yikes.

When Trainer J came out on Monday morning for our lesson, we talked about feed for a bit as perhaps one of the causes for his more recent pokiness. She doesn’t like TC Senior because it’s higher in fiber than in fat, and is concerned that he’s burning through muscle now rather than through fat sources because of it.

So….what to do? The options at the barn I’m at are:

  • Southern States Carb Care Balancer-
  • Triple Crown Low-Starch
  • Triple Crown Complete
  • Triple Crown Senior
  • There’s an option for Other as well, but that obviously depends on availability/cost.
  • For an additional fee, you can add in either rice bran or beet pulp, I don’t have any experience with rice bran, but TC Sr is already beet pulp based.

But then I did a feed comparison and…it kind of makes no sense. TC Sr has more fat than SC Original, the protein is the same and the fiber is only slightly higher. So how is he losing fat when there’s more fat in his diet than before?

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I’m kind of at a loss. He’s been on the TC Sr + FatCat for about a month now, and it’s just not working for him. Plus, riding has been sporadic. Now that we’re at a barn where we can do us, the riding will be more intense and I’m concerned that he’ll drop even more weight.

Recent fecal was negative and he gets free choice hay still, in addition to pasture. The pasture at the H/J barn wasn’t ideal- it was pretty small and the grass was almost non-existent due to overgrazing. They did have round bales, but my horse and his pasture mate opted to poop and sleep in it, rather than to eat it. The pasture he’s in now is FAR larger and has tons of grass, plus they still throw hay in addition to that. So forage-wise, it doesn’t get much better than where he’s at now.

My only semi-plan so far is to replace the FatCat with Cool Calories. FatCat is a protein-based weight gainer vs Cool Calories, which is more fat. Or maybe ADD the Cool Calories onto the SmartPak along with the FatCat to cover all bases.C2

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I posed the question on COTH and got some sound answers, albeit ones that I don’t really want to do:

“Be patient and see how he does at the new barn.” BORING

And some unhelpful ones:

“He has ulcers again.” HE DOES NOT.

“Try (xyz feed that barn does not offer) because Senior is terrible and weight gainers don’t work.” I BOARD, READ THE ORIGINAL POST.

The biggest concern, aside from bringing back the ulcers of course, is lighting him up. While he may be a little TOO quiet lately, rides have been so much more pleasant than the ones where he tears around like a bat out of hell.

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Sooooo much fun to ride. NOT.

So I’d love to hear how others manage their horses’ nutrition. All the horses at the new barn are fat and shiny, so while I’ll give him a few weeks to adjust before switching up anything, I’m interested in hearing what has/hasn’t worked for other horses as well.

Some body pictures taken last night because I went through hundreds of pictures from the last 3 years for this post and I have ZERO. Plus some cute ones because, well, that’s what he is.

 

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New stall guard

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Can finally reach the feed he flung out the door while eating

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Those hips aren’t lying

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All that topline work…for naught

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And the hint of a rib or two or three

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Stop looking at me and GO EAT ALL THAT GRASS

 

And for the love of God, the million dollar question: why can’t I lose weight like my horse?

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The Confidence Tour Continues…aka I Did a Thing

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Squee!!

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Today was the closing date and after hemming and hawing about it for days now, I went into EventEntries and just submitted everything really fast. Watch, I’ve entered Prelim or something.

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In reality, I entered Starter (at least that was my intention). P (and I) need more confidence boosting runs than anything and until this whole rando-stopping crap is fixed, I just don’t need his USEA record to take a beating.

It’ll still be fun- I’ve been to Windridge once for XC schooling and the facility is fabulous. The footing was nice and the fences were inviting. So P and I will be there Friday-Sunday, October 6-8. October 7 is Husband’s birthday, so that’s proof he really loves me. Saturday morning is dressage and SJ, then XC is on Sunday. I’ll be camping again in my trusty horse trailer, but husband won’t be there until Saturday evening. Child #1 has a football game Saturday morning, so I’ll be on my own for food for about 24 hours.

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Hopefully there’s a McDonalds close by.

A quick stalking search of MyCourseWalk and YouTube yields very little information on what to expect. The only thing I could find on MCW is last year’s course with descriptions (seriously people, not that hard to snap a quick picture if you’re already walking it) and it appears to be many of the jumps we did back in June when we were there. Hopefully P will remember, but at least we have our new facility to help us somewhat prepare for it.

Speaking of our new barn….the lesson with Trainer J yesterday! It was super basic dressage work so I’ll spare you all a separate post on it. Pretty much P loves Trainer J and can do no wrong and I suck. That about sums it all up. Nothing new or earth shattering.

I did make Husband come out to video, since he’s usually gone when I have Trainer J lessons. So you finally get some Trainer J footage. She’s an absolute blast.

If you’ll notice, everytime we come around to her, P gets all nice and dressagey. The other parts of the arena he’s basically giving me the middle finger. Look how P’s face changes when we head down the diagonal right towards her.

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P when I turned to go past her:

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And then this exercise will be incorporated into our daily warmup. My favorite part is: Trainer J: “Corners and diagonals are where you get 8’s and 9’s.” Me: “Ok.” Right. 8’s and 9’s? While we usually gets 8’s and 8.5’s on the walk work, diagonals and corners? Not so much. So hooooomework (that I can actually DO now!).

But really. Having this dressage arena to work in on a regular basis is going to be a huge advantage for me. I LOVE that it’s 20×40 since that’s what I show in at the wee levels. We worked on getting us to actually go IN the corners (the corners in the HJ barn’s arena were super deep so I avoided them) to use every inch we could of the arena. And transitions. Still trying to reach the millions of transitions that will get me to ride them correctly. It’ll happen, right?

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Maybe this will help. I finally broke down and ordered this lil tool:

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I’m so tired of working three times as hard as P in dressage and getting minimal response. Some days he’s a firecracker. Some days he’s a slug. And it was my fault that carrying a dressage whip at Hillcrest for the first time resulted in a tense test. So. Here goes. Pray for me for through those first few rides.

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And to wrap up, here’s a shot Husband took of us…no clue what we’re looking at but it must’ve been something good.

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Coat Defense Winner + Moving On, Moving In, (Hopefully)Moving Up

Ladies & Gents, we have winner from the Coat Defense Giveaway!!

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Congrats to one of the email entries, Julie, from kickinsand.blogspot.com! I’ll shoot ya an email to get your address, and the stuff should be on the way to you shortly. Hope it works as well for you as it did for me! Thanks to everyone who entered!

Now….we resume our regularly scheduled programming.

Wednesday was the last time I rode in the arena at the old farm. I had 30 minutes to ride, and got on at the tail-end of the last lesson of the night. Well, “she’s going to jump one more line and then be done,” turned into 20 minutes of me standing in the middle of the arena while kid jumped courses repeatedly. Sigh. Exactly why I had to go. I only had a few minutes left, so I toodled around and then Matt consoled poor lil’ P.

 

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Self-carriage?

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P: Why does she do those things to me?

 

Thursday I packed. While I keep my house clutter-free, my trailer and tack trunk are a whole ‘nother story.

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Then Friday I took P out on the trail to avoid any arena conflicts, and then promptly got us lost. I think from now on I should just stick to the same loop that begins and ends across from the trailer parking lot. At one point I wasn’t sure if we were actually close to the end, so I asked P for an, uh, enthusiastic canter and naturally, after spending an hour in the woods without coming across a single soul, quickly come upon a family and their stroller. Poor people had no idea how to act around a horse, and I had to convince them that my horse has indeed been around many a stroller in his day and the only reason he’s snorting is because they’re CROUCHING IN THE WOODS LIKE MURDERERS SO PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY STAND UP LIKE NORMAL PEOPLE.

 

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After asking P to climb a super steep hill, yep, that’s a locked gate. Please proceed back down the hill, Jeeves.

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P: I don’t believe we should actually go this way

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Ok, woman. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. He turned out to be correct.

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Trying to convince P this was a real trail. It wasn’t.

 

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Uhhh, let’s hurry to see if this is actually the way back. It wasn’t.

 

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Ok, let’s just take the road back.

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At least we know how to get back from the road. Sigh.

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Me: I’m going to stay in 2 point until we get back to the trailer.        P: Now I’m going to walk like a slug.

Saturday, XC schooling was cancelled because horses suck and farriers don’t want to come out to nail shoes on before sunrise. Who woulda thought? But we moved and the new facility is still every bit as fabulous as it was when I toured it last week.

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New stall! Much bigger than his last one, and with a fan!

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Loving the fan

He unloaded and went into his new stall like the seasoned pro that he is. I’m pretty sure he just thinks he’s at a horse show.

So I unpacked the trailer into my new locker.

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They thought of everything! Tack lockers are exactly 2 steps away from the grooming stalls.

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And cute! Big chalkboard in the tack room with reminders and upcoming appointments

 

And then looked around and figured as long as he thinks he’s at a show, let’s get a ride in! So. What should we do? Dressage arena? Jump arena? Ooooorrrrr, hacking trail w/ XC jumps?

 

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Bye dressage arena! See you today when Trainer J comes!

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Hello lovelies

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Heaven!

 

The only parts he didn’t like, and I knew it would happen, were the 2 large culverts we had to pass over on our walk. He’s always hated those, and we don’t see them as big as these very often. So after about a minute of persuading, he kind of bolted over, then came right back under control. And when we went over the second one, he was much better. So this will be a daily thing until they’re NBD.

We did end up heading into the jump arena so I could test the footing, and while it’s no Trainer B’s footing, it’s still good stuff. We did some W/T/C and hopped over a couple jumps, then headed back so he could eat and go out with a new friend.

 

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Of the 2 hay piles and the huge pasture at their disposal, they wanted to share

 

And these are allowed on their stalls so P will love his new home even more.

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P had off Sunday because I took Husband to the Panthers game with some friends as an early birthday present, but lesson with Trainer J this AM at the new barn!

Last Day of the Coat Defense Giveaway!

Tonight is the night! Click on the original post and add a comment or send me an email at kcscott85@yahoo.com to enter.

Aaaand if you were refraining because you didn’t want me to pay for shipping (how sweet of you), fret no more! Sandy, the founder and president of Coat Defense will be shipping the winner the samples herself! See note in original post about customer service 🙂 Seriously, it’s a thing with these guys. Plus the products aren’t so bad 😉

Giveaway

 

International Helmet Awareness!

Today and tomorrow most major retailers have discounts on helmets so:


As for me, I have to get something, ANYTHING with a removable liner. But I’ve never tried anything besides a CO so I hit up SmartPak for, ahem, quite the variety to try. Can’t beat the free return shipping!

And don’t forget about the Coat Defense giveaway! Ends tomorrow night! 

Big Change on the Horizon

So it’s finally official and I can now share the news-

We’re moving!

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Well, that might’ve been a little deceiving. I’m not moving, but P is.

If you’ve followed along for awhile now, I’ve been at a H/J barn for just over 2 years. While I’ve loved the care they gave P, there was always one glaring disadvantage of being there: their lesson program.

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Since day 1, I’ve had to share the arena with multiple pony kids. It’s been frustrating for sure, but there always seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel. They were building a second arena, they were going to turn a pasture into a jump field, they were going to buy the adjoining property and add in a derby-type field, they were going to add a perimeter trail with some jumps, etc.

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While the 2nd arena did get built, the lesson program also exploded, so both rings were consistently taken up. And one by one, the other things just never came to fruition.

Riding there has always been hard for me. They used to start lessons at 5:30, so I would leave my office at 4 to get there by 4:30, then change my clothes and tack up at warp speed to get on in time to have at least a 20 minute ride. With the new barn trainer, they now start lessons at 4, so…I just can’t win.

This is about what I could expect on any given day.

What you don’t see (thanks to the trim function of the video editor) are the other 20+ minutes of footage where I’m circling around, trying to get a clear line to a jump. Because simply telling the kids that I was going to jump never guaranteed they would actually stay out of my way. More times than I can possibly count, I’ve had to sharply pull P up or turn him to avoid a kid. Or circle, circle, circle..ok, kids are on the other end- go P go! And hurriedly jump or do whatever I was planning. And come to think of it, I wonder if that’s a reason why he’s never been that good while riding at home. If I did ride during a lesson, a good portion of my ride was spent standing in the middle or at the end of the arena, waiting for a turn to do something, anything. And that’s not fair to P or I.

Now, on the flipside, I’ve been the kid who only gets 45 minutes once or twice a week to ride, and so I don’t want to take a second of riding time away from that kid. I fully understand and even agree that the lessons need to be priority in the arena. But I pay a lot of money to be there, and due to the fact that I have to, ya know, work, the only times I could ride just directly conflict with the barn’s lessons.

It’s been like that since I got there, so I guess I just passively accepted my fate. But now I’m realizing how much it’s been holding me back to not be able to practice much, if at all, between lessons. And what’s the point of paying these 2 amazing professionals if I don’t get to do any work in between?

So, it’s time to go. The new barn is ahhh-mazing. It opened shortly after I moved to the H/J barn, but the location wasn’t ideal for me at the time. Now it’s more convenient than H/J barn is when Husband is gone, since it’s closer to the kids’ afterschool programs, and it’s only an extra 10 minutes from my house when Husband is home.

Wanna see it? We’ll start our tour in the barn:

12×12 stalls with individual fans:

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Big tack lockers with unique codes for each boarder:

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Grooming/Wash stalls with outlets, extension cords, fans, AND overhead heaters!

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An outdoor wash stall, if you’re so inclined:

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A real bathroom:

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Feed room with refrigerator and sink.

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A laundry room- no more bringing home saddle pads!

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TV/Speaker system. New BO’s husband watches the football game down there on Sundays. That was all it took to get my husband on board.

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Now…let’s head outside. Cause there’s LOTS to see there.

Huge pastures with no more than 2 horses per pasture. My only concern is that now P won’t be meeting me at the gate! And I wouldn’t even blame him.

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Big arena with lights and non-white jumps! I will donate the rolltop.

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A REAL dressage arena! With letters and everything spaced out correctly. It currently doesn’t have lights, but they are planning on adding them.

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A roundpen:

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An 800 foot flat galloping lane (!!!!):

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A jump field:

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And now….the absolute best part. A perimeter hacking trail with  XC JUMPS (these aren’t even all of them)!! And it’s decently long. It took us about 20 minutes to walk the whole thing.

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I was in heaven. I didn’t want to leave.

Now for the in-process additions.

– They are in the middle of building a pond. A big one to fish in, or to take your horse swimming in, which I think P will love. Or he’ll learn to love it.

– Once the pond is done, they are building a water complex modeled after the one at Tryon that the pond will pump into. They are also going to build various sized ditches next to the water complex, which will be by the jump field.

– They are turning a front field into an obstacle course. Like one with bridges, tires, pool noodles, etc. And I think that’ll be incredibly fun to have that right on property.

And the other goodies:

– They offer P’s TC Sr. feed, no more paying an additional $4/bag.

– They have 25 acres, but will only have 13 horses max on property. Currently there are 10 horses, split between the BO and 5 other boarders.

– Said other boarders are ALL ADULTS, ranging from 25-mid 50’s. Heeeeaven.

– In addition to new BO, a dressage rider, said other boarders include a hunter, a dressage rider, a trail rider, a whatever-floats-their-boat rider, AND a boarder who is trying to start eventing with her young horse. Possible show buddy(ies)??

– With the ginormous pastures, no need for roundbales at an additional $30/month. They throw square bales out at no extra cost to boarders.

– While new BO teaches a couple lessons, they are literally only a couple, only one kid at a time, and there are obviously multiple places to ride.

– Since there are no lesson horses to work around, feeding is actually spaced out. At H/J barn, they would feed around 8AM and then again around 2 PM, in order to get horses fed and turned out before lessons started. At new barn they space them out 10-12 hours, which is ideal.

– My friends who own a PEMF business already go out there, so no special trips to H/J barn for just P.

And…

Drumroll please.

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TRAINER J TEACHES THERE EVERY OTHER WEEK!

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It may take some creative scheduling on my part since she teaches Monday afternoons there, but how cool is that? It would save me a 45 minute (one way) trailer ride a few times a month.

I talked to friend who goes there for PEMF and to Trainer J, and both ecstatically approved the move.

So…the contract is signed, the stall deposit is paid, and our move-in date is THIS SATURDAY! We are going XC schooling that morning at FENCE with Bette and then going straight to the new barn after that. I’m literally counting down the seconds.