Tuesday, 20 March 2018

New Adventure: Part III

Deciding to sell our farm was quite a difficult process for me, and then selling Savvy had me on the fence of what we were doing. The next phase of preparing to move off-farm brought a glint of sunshine to my stormy mind and reminded me of the long-term picture.


Next would be determining the future boarding home for Shiraz and I was pretty excited about this part. Having grown up on a farm with horses and then having a farm again as an adult, I have never had the need to board. I must admit I am a bit worried about not having full control over my horse's care. To offset my worries, I tried to make the best choice possible to find a good fit with my personal interpretation of ideal horse care.

The basics I was looking for that were non-negotiable included an indoor arena, safe fencing with shelter, safe hay and friendly owners.

And this would be nice...
After all of these years trailering out to arenas, I am really looking forward to the perk of an on-site arena. I am not sure how all the driving part will pan out as we do not know where our new home will be yet. The only time I consistently ride currently is during our short three months of summer. As long as the ground is dry, I would ride every day. During the winter that is cut drastically to random toodling as I just do not feel safe doing much in poor footing (big horses fall hard and my knee will never forget).

If my new boarding barn ends up not being terribly far, I anticipate being able to ride more than I currently do on a regular basis simply because of not having to deal with outdoor snow or rain and ruined footing. On top of that, I hope to have regular coaching year-round because honestly, it takes a village to get this lady's ass over fences.

My search area consisted of a relatively small area surrounding Birds Hill Park. This area is considered horse country, full of everything from the large boarding businesses to the small hobby farmers. I made and list of every stable with a riding arena and started calling each one for the cost of outdoor board. This reduced my list by half due to cost or facilities not offering outdoor board. I made appointments with the places that were left on my list.

Some of my options in pink. My chosen barn is blue.
(will probably/maybe be living somewhere across the river west of East Saint Paul which is about a half hour's drive)
I had way too much fun looking at places. I love seeing paddock layouts and different barn styles so having personal tours of a number of nice barns was better than a school fieldtrip for me. Some places were surprisingly dumpy while others were over-the-top perfect.

I visited a hunter/jumper barn and was given a tour by the owner who also gave all the lessons. She ended up giving me a 15-minute ground lesson of the 'five hand positions' and, well it was intense. Beautiful place though.

So clean. Note the rubber tile flooring so no one slips.
Another barn I visited was just across the road from the park and was busy with recreational riders getting ready for a group trail ride. Everyone seemed so nice and it was easy to imagine joining that group for a ride if I chose this place. But, the fencing was sketchy and they fed the outdoor horses roundbales (which I know all to well can be dusty because I feed them currently and only fork it in to my horses after hosing it down if I see any dust). I wavered on it for a few days but health and safety trumps fun trail riding potential.

My top contender was a small barn that was really just getting started. The husband who gave me a tour was a sweet older guy who rides dressage and studies natural horsemanship. (WUT?!) The fencing was amazing white poly with electric. (YASS!) There were shelters. The indoor arena was new. (where do I sign?) Problem was, they did not actually have a spot available but *might* have one opening for April or May. (sigh...)

Shiraz' future home.
After many texts and another visit to meet the wife, I have managed to secure a spot for April 1st! (Should I worry that is April fool's day?) It is a damn good thing I will soon have somewhere to train with a bit more intensity as I am signed up for a stadium jumping/xc clinic with Ian Roberts on April 21/22. He is an Olympic level rider. Shiraz and I trip over ground poles and haven't jumped anything since January. We'll be awesome, lol.

Friday, 9 March 2018

New Adventure: Part II

Decisions are easy. Action is a bitch.

Once hubby and I officially agreed selling our farm was a go, I suddenly had some very difficult decisions to make.

Horses. I need them in my life. Having three in my backyard was quite easy considering having our own property and hay field. The cost of boarding x three is not so easy. No matter how I crunched my numbers, I could not make it work. I had to make choices.

Considering I want to move forward with eventing, albeit on a small local scale, I knew right away which horse I was going to proceed with. Shiraz has the size and jumping ability to do well at the level I am hoping to get to some day.

No matter how many times I have tried to write about selling Savvy, I just cannot get out the words. She has been more than just a horse to me in every way. Her strong personality radiates and her ability to connect with people...well, it will just sound anthropomorphic if I try to describe it. During the process of trying to find her next person, I wavered quite a bit. I tried to convince myself I would be happy at starter or pre-entry level indefinitely and just to keep Savvy instead. But I know I am just too competitive deep down. Even though it would surely be fun to run around small courses on the wonder pony, I would regret what might have been working with Shiraz, bringing her up a few levels and pushing myself to become a better rider and move beyond my current comfort zone.

The interest in Savvy was overwhelming. There were people who just wanted a pretty little Arab because they had always wanted one (but had no intention of serious riding). There were barns looking for a lesson pony, and strong interest from pony clubbers. I took her add down after just a day in panic because trying to respond to see many questions and trying to 'sell' her in my responses was impossible. How do you tell someone they are not good enough for your horse?

I worked up the courage to try again but changed my add to be very specific about the type of new owner that would be a good fit. Now, if you are just trying to sell a horse quickly I do not recommend this. It scares off a lot of people. But really, I wanted to scare off people; all the people who would be a bad fit for Savvy. I felt that the right person for Savvy would connect with the add, and she did.

A week later E came to meet Savvy and I could see her immediately connect. E is an endurance rider who is just retiring her horse and looking for that next partner. I could sense she was trying her best to do everything properly: She did a vet check and even held off a few hours before texting that she was sure and made arrangements for picking her up.

Savvy's new frenemies - all boys...
Once Savvy was loaded in her trailer, I couldn't hold back tears. E gave me a big hug and let me know I can come visit when I like. She sent me pictures of her settling in and texted updates and questions.

Although this handsome chestnut is trying his best to make a good impression :)
Fingers crossed E and Savvy make a great team moving forward.

Monday, 5 March 2018

A new adventure?

So you have this basket. It is a fine basket. It is the grand idea of what you want your life to be. And then you start adding eggs to the basket. Each egg is a piece of your dream, perhaps something you worked hard for and achieved or is simply a hope that has not happened yet but you can see it just there on the horizon. You diligently add to this basket, occasionally taking out an egg that doesn't fit quite right but mostly building an impressive pile.

Then you are told you have to hand this basket to someone else. Share your basket. Allow another to carry it for a while. In turn you carry someone else's basket and take care not to damage their eggs.

And then your basket is dropped. No one's fault. The road was rough, uneven terrain with many challenging hills, stones, potholes. Someone was bound to trip and fall. The eggs are broken.

We have lived on our farm for 12 years. It has been a massive undertaking right from the start. The land was bare and the house was... not great. We built everything ourselves: the hay shed plus four other sheds for tractor, garden supplies, tack and feed. We dug swails to drain water. Built fences, took down fences. Built three horse shelters, dug water lines. Built an above-ground pool, deck and sun room addition. Gutted and remodelled kitchen, bedroom and two bathrooms. We bought old machinery to make our own hay and then struggled with constantly fixing said old machinery. We have moved mountains of hay and mountains of snow. We 'split' our tractor ourselves. It was terrifying--I didn't think we would ever get it to fit back together but we fixed it with the help of Youtube and some tractor expert guy from Newfoundland that helped us over the phone.

All the while my husband has hated it. Baling hay was only really fun for him that first time a bale came out of the baler and then he was pretty much over it. Winters here are brutal, made worse by our exposed location. Snow just blows in and leaves us buried. Every piece of machinery breaks, all the time.

So it is time. Time for filling a new basket.

It is shocking, heartbreaking, yet I am excited to see what will come of it. I am humbled that my partner put in so many years of hard labour into my dreams and look forward to now returning the favour.