Wednesday, May 4, 2011

First Next Steps

So after work today, I drove out of town to WB's barn out in Oakbank. I took the scenic route, as I love checking out all of the new barns and horse-homes that pop up in that area every year. It was long my dream to own a few acres there myself, but I'm happy where I am. Regardless, it's great to see horses flourishing in the lives of so many people, and reassures me that they'll be around for many years.

I just missed WB's driveway, for some reason expecting a round dome for the indoor, not a hoop structure. Silly, really, as a hoop makes so much more sense!

Immediately I was grateful for the circular drive, a MUST for me. I'm not trailering guru; I can drive truck and trailer, and have hauled in my past, a 6-horse slant from Winnipeg to Minneapolis in a day, full of crazy OTTBs. But I don't enjoy it, I hate backing the dang things, and I find it stressful to have to negotiate down a narrow driveway, try not to take out the fences and not slam my beloved pony in an impending pot hole or run-in shed too close to where I'm backing up. I suck at these things, and the notion of pulling (someone else's very expensive) trailer straight in, and looping around, is 100 nerve-points off my tally.

Yes, nerve-points. I've become, with time, a nervous nelly. Even today, I hesitated at the large door to WB's arena, hearing hooves and not wanting to frighten a horse in training. I'm a total nut-show.

Anyway, I found her wonderful looping drive, and parked. Pulled on my 'Pony-Boots' (bless Tractor Supply Co.), and wandered into the large barn. A solid gate prevented escaped horses from exiting the area, 'just in case'. Kudos to some plans there!

The barn at first glance, was a large garage. But once inside, it opened to a large, airy and very inviting and personal space. I've been to some very posh places over the years, and you feel like you're not worthy of being there, let alone touching the noses of any of the fine beasts. Heck, the cats have jewelled collars, and certainly don't catch mice.

WB's barn was comfortable, like walking into a barn at home. Blankets and handmade stall plaques adorned the racks, and friendly, inquisitive horses peered over their doors. The barn smelled fresh and clean, which from past experience again, isn't always the case at some places. Granted, it lacked the OCD of a past coach of mine, there was something likeable in the ADD of it all. Like forgetting your headstall on the rack, or wandering off distracted without tucking the hose away, wasn't punishable by law. It was wonderfully human.

Stepping into the large indoor ring, I knew I was going to be dreaming for a lot of years about getting one of those. Granted, it probably costs as much as my car...or was light, airy and really made you feel free. Not enclosed like so many indoors I've been in in the past. Indoors with concrete pillars RIGHT in the middle of the ring (try and learn to canter or jump around one of those beasts), or that are so dark and dusty you're blowing arena sand from your nose the entire drive home. The horses are spooking at the shadows, the viewing area is a dark and slightly soiled location, rotting couches and crayon scribblings making up the decor.

No, this indoor was bare, bright and clean. I liked it. Even the viewing area was high above, and appeared just as bright and clean as the sand below.

WB was friendly and personable, youthful and spirited as one might imagine from our phone conversation. She's certainly someone who seems carefree, and I can probably take a page or two from her book. Structure and rigor is probably not her hard and fast rule, but she seems more then capable in a non-bully, let's figure it out, sort of way.

After a brief tour and a quick chat, we settled that I'd bring Mr. Moon by next Wednesday after work, with no particular schedule in mind. Load him, drive him, toss him in the ring and see how he performs. If he does, or even if he won't load, no worries. We'll work on that then. And if it goes perfectly, then we'll carry on as though we planned a lesson anyway. And from that point on, Wednesday nights, are our lesson night.

She certainly had way more confidence in him that I seemed to exude, which is funny since I think he's a wonderful, special and sweet horse, with a solid and sane mind. I told her of our adventures riding through town, and she hardly thought his so-called 'nerves' were a slightest deal at all. Considering he'll plod along, raising an eyebrow or twitching his ears. That's my Moon.

The intent, is to work through some EC levels, and, the cool bit, to work towards doing some low level showing with him. I don't for a second disagree with her that any horse, is capable of any low level showing, regardless of breed. Yes, he's a big western QH, but he's still able to jump. I told her how I popped him over a couple 1' jumps last year, and he gave me no arguments. She thought that was just great, and while I kept speaking of how he's getting to be an older fellow, she seems quite certain that he was more at a rational age. I like that. Maybe I just liked hearing her praise, but still. He's a wonderful boy, and I know that there would be english riders out there who would scoff at taking a western horse and dreaming of doing jumping or dressage. Jumping is for 16hh sporthorses and dressage is for skinny, muscular warmbloods. But in reality, when you're not dreaming of Spruce Meadows or the Olympics, of Jonathan Miller or Ludger Beerbaulm, and all you want is to enjoy your horse and develop your potential in new areas, a chunky 15.2 hh quarter horse is just fine.

So, my sincere hope, is that next summer, I'm taking him to his first schooling show. Donning his fancy white polos and leather jumping boots. Which reminds me, I'll need to ask WB to give me a saddle and bridle judgement. Figure I'll start him out as we've always been doing, and can change out what isn't working as we start our training.

Now, I'm wondering if I should buy him some shipping boots, leave him naked with just some bell boots, wrap him in polos and bell boots, or pick up some pillow wraps and try that? I'm SOO not keen on shelling out $70 for shipping boots not knowing if we're ever doing this again or if I'll hate it 3 weeks from now. Or that he won't even load (which I doubt). Hmmmmm...

Wonder what Greenhawk has on sale this week...I sure like those shedrow plaid ones... : P

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