Where to start...
Well, I've been contacting a lot of coaches in my area, and it's been rather depressing. If you ever want to feel like a 'nobody', the trick is to call these people up and listen to them inform you that A. They're too busy with their own Olympic horses, B. They won't dream of going anywhere without a true arena, C. Is your horse even capable of testing?, D. They don't have time for you.
I get it, I do. There's only so many of these EC coaches going around, they're hard to come by, and the top pros get first dibs. Or those with enough money to keep their horses at the fancy stables, and who are likely riding 17hh warmbloods to boot. Sadly, that just isn't me. Granted, a lot of these show barns were willing to direct me to other potential coaches...guess I'm just a little bitter and jealous is all. : P
Where I was impressed, was when I called Ebbe. Instantly, I felt like I mattered and she wanted to help me out with my riding goals. To some luck, she's actually starting an EC Theory Prep Class in February, and is going to send me the details when she has them worked out closer to the date. Since you have to complete the theory portions before you can challenge the riding exams, I think that is where we shall start.
I know that Meadow Green used to offer theory classes for $10 each. I suspect Ebbe might be a bit more, but I can certainly work this into the budget. If we can focus on this over the winter/spring, perhaps we will be ready to challenge the riding part in the summer. She was more then willing to let us haul out to her place (have been to some places that don't like the idea of you 'cross-contaminating' your horse with those that board at their stable), and also was okay with Semi-Private lessons. What's this all about?
Well, Semi-Private is always less expensive then Private Lessons, as you're sharing the time. Her rates drop from $50/hour to just under $40, and much to my surprise, a girlfriend of mine is interested in joining me on two conditions. 1. The time must work for her, and 2. She needs to be trailered (which as do I).
Since I'm flexible on time and since potentially "T" is okay with me using her trailer (a nice big 4 horse), it seems as though we can make this work! Ebbe is a top-notch dressage coach in the province, and it would be awesome to train under her. My GF has always loved doing dressage with her MorganX, and her and I ride at a similar level which would make classes really smooth. She's also one of those people I LOVE riding with and I've never had the opportunity to take lessons with a friend before! : ) I'm REALLY excited about the potential here.
But, of course, that wouldn't be till April or May at the earliest, since the trailer is stuck knee deep in snow and I'm not re-starting my trailering experience in the dead of winter! Granted, my polo days FINALLY come in handy for hauling a gooseneck!!
Now, on to Greenhawk.
I started shopping at Greenhawk long before they made their way to Manitoba. I, like Prairie Nerd, shopped at Apple Saddlery, and found them better priced, often for the same product.
...but one not so good purchase (a pair of paddock boots which were falling apart before I even got them out of the box...which I had to fight to get them to cover the return shipping on...followed by a replacement pair in no better of condition...back in 2001 or so), has turned me off from them.
Now, I came across a company called "Pleasant Ridge Saddlery", which is REALLY economical, and as long as you pay attention to what you're buying (you can TELL that if a leather halter is $10, the leather is cheap), you can get some AWESOME deals.
Take for example my winter riding boots. They're about $150 at Greenhawk. My boots were just $68 last year on sale at PR, and they've held up WONDERFULLY. Sometimes my feet even overheat in them! I've gotten some amazing nylon halters from them (that I've sadly left at various people's barns over the years), and my Saddle. The "Wintec" knock-off, that has a changeable gullet, 5 year tree warranty, and is synthetic/leather. The saddle has fit every horse I've used it on, AND still looks brand new even though it's over 6 years old. The ONLY thing that's worn out is the stirrup leathers.
It's soooo comfy, that everyone calls it "The Lazy Boy". : ) I love my saddle!
Anyways, last year for my birthday I got an awesome new show helmet from the BF, along with a pair of tall Ariat Field Boots...except, my parents also wanted to buy me a helmet (this happens when you've previously had a severe horse-related head injury), and they bought me a $250 gift card to Greenhawk to cover it.
So I've been whittling down the GH card, and over Christmas during the "24 Days of Christmas" Sale, bought their Elation Winter Jacket on sale in Calgary (save 1 tax). When I got back to Winnipeg, I ordered the matching winter riding chaps/breeches...and found out that evening that Greenhawk was having a "January Clearance Sale", and the jacket I got the "AMAZING" deal on, was suddenly CHEAPER! Despite me buying it at this AMAZING ONE DAY ONLY SALE PRICE.
Last night I got a call from GH saying the breeches are in (which also went on sale even more this month), so I'm headed over there tonight to get them to reduce the price on the jacket (or get the jacket upgrade for the same price), and then get my new pants (just in time for the weekend). I've also decided, that I'm going to pick up a mane pulling comb (something I WANT to do, but have never tried before), and a dressage whip, since I need a better way to communicate some of the subtle things I want Moon to do with his hind end. Which thanks to the sale, will cost me the same as just the jacket and pants before : P
Where was I going with this? Oh yes. New gear. : )
Finally, the BF might have to work OT this weekend, which SHOULD make me sad because we were supposed to go snowmobiling with my folks, but instead I'm EXCITED, because maybe I can ride my pony in my new gear, with his freshly trimmed feet! : )
It's awful being a horse-a-holic!
P.S. I finished wood-burning Moon's new stall plaque last night and it looks amazing. The lacquer will go on tonight, and maybe it will also make its way to the barn by this weekend!