Construction on the new farm has begun. So far we have planted a single tree (baby steps)! and put in a driveway culvert. Tomorrow the first run-in shed will be installed (temporary hay barn), and the fields are getting hayed at the end of the week!
Finn and I had a wonderful dressage lesson with Cynthia Sera two weekends ago, which ended on us doing some beautiful lengthenings and a little counter-canter. His flat work keeps improving dramatically each ride and I can't believe I finally have a horse that I LOVE to do dressage on. He's missing a shoe right now and it's killing me that I can't ride him because I am so excited about him.
Finn also made his show debut at in the 2'3"-2'6" and 2'6"-2'9" NWAHJA jumper classes. My intention was just to get him off the property and see how he would do in a full course with a little bit of show atmosphere. He was much more forward and excited than he is at home, but bravely jumped everything on all of his courses. Although we had a lot of green moments, he still placed well and we came home with a lot of ribbons! I think he's definitely ready to run the beginner novice at Heritage Park at the end of October :)
Stromboli has been improving, but most importantly he seems very relaxed and very happy. He's been so calm and good that I let my 8-year old sister who has never done more than a pony ride sit on him today, and she was quickly riding him all by herself practicing steering and doing "whoas"! I couldn't have been more proud of both of them, although I think my Dad is going to kill me for infecting his other daughter with the horse bug!
Although it hasn't closed yet, I do finally have some land under contract for the next AAF. I got the location and amount of land I've always wanted, and although the price was decent, it still was a bit more than I initially planned on spending. I've gotten a few bids for putting up a simple 4-stall barn and the numbers have nearly given me a heart attack. The bids are so high that if I do actually have to build a barn for this amount I will have to live out of my horse trailer for the next few years, which is something I totally would do, but the bank won't lend me money unless I build a house (and a really nice one that will appraise).
On top of the stress over money I haven't even spent yet, Stromboli still seems to be off and no one can figure out why. He is miserable under saddle, and every-time I try to take him on a nice relaxing hack, he seems even worse than the last time. It's making me depressed to see him like this, and selfishly I'm most depressed because I finally got so close to achieving my goals of going Prelim and they have been totally crushed. I feel like a failure and worry that my lack of ability and pushing him too hard have led him to this point. Everyone knows that girl that rides and thinks she's really good and is always setting these outrageous goals, only to crash and burn because she just doesn't have what it takes to succeed. Everyone knows at least one horse person that just pretty much always loses...and I'm starting to worry that person is me. Because of this, while Finn has really been wonderful, every time he has an off-day or has some typical baby TB behavior I'm now filled with self-doubt and worry that I might be ruining him.
When I get stressed, I usually just pile on more stuff as a distraction, so I've been exercising Polo horses in preparation for one of NWA's biggest horse related events, Polo in the Ozarks. This means a few days a week I get up at 5am to go feed my horses over at Parkermen Stables, then drive over to the polo farm and ride two horses as the sun is rising, then rush to get home and shower so I can be at my desk by 9:00 am. After work, I rush home again to change my clothes so I can teach and ride one or two horses with the girls after school, then I feed and do stalls, and hopefully get home by 9:00 or 10:00 pm where I'll stand at the kitchen counter and desperately shovel in cold leftover chicken pot-pie or 4-day old pizza so I can go to sleep & start it all over again the next day.
I know this seems like a long, crazy, "pity-me" rants, but it isn't...I promise.....
One of the benefits of these early-sunrise rides is the time to reflect (also polo horses are really fun to ride and WAY less complicated than event horses). This weekend I was lucky enough to have my ear talked off by a polo groom that was also exercising horses. I got to hear all about his lifestyle and why he enjoys doing what he's doing. Maybe he's listened to too many country songs, but I got to hear a lot about how he owns almost nothing but a broken down truck and a $75 crosby saddle. There's a part of me that was jealous of him. It would be great to not have to stress over my own competitive aspirations, and who is going to build the barn, and how much the septic system is going to cost, and what horse my student is going to ride, and if my boarders will pay me on time, and where I'm going to get hay this year....but that isn't who I am.
I have to stop and realize that I'm at the start of new adventure that is really exciting. Horses are supposed to be FUN. I am doing all this because I love them, and I love the lifestyle. I love sitting at my desk from 9 to 5 because it makes coming home to the country and my horses that much better. Some day soon I'll be able to look out my window and see my horses grazing peacefully in my pasture with mountains in the distance. I can't wait to pick out paint colors, and build XC jumps, and drink beer while setting T-posts by moonlight. For the first time, I'm going to get the option of making the right choices the first time around instead of having to re-do an old place and live with what's there. So many people are going to get to experience this next place and find joy in it too. Creating a beautiful horse facility has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember, and it's a dream I've never doubted I would achieve some day. I know that now I have to find the joy in every single moment of this process, and I have to find a way to believe that the Eventing-Gods will allow me achieve my competitive dreams one day too.
Adventures eventing as a semi-pro in the mid-south.