Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Barn STILL in Limbo

For some reason, writing a horse blog has an inherent pressure to focus on the sunshine-and-butterflies.   Most of the time I can easily comply, but sometimes it is really hard. 

Like lately.  Mixed between the super training progress and great fun at shows is one overriding pressure – I still haven’t found a barn.   

Don’t worry, I’m not going to pull a “poor-Ange” on you, I do very much love what I do.  But lately, this whole barn-relocation has tainted the fun.  I hate that the time and effort to build Straight Forward Dressage into a positive, supportive horse community could be shattered if I can’t find a suitable facility. Plus I’d have to go find a “real job.”  So I’m being hit on both the practical and idealistic levels. (ok, so maybe this is a little “poor-Ange,” but I think I may be entitled to just a little)

Stress? What stress??

Half of Red Bridge’s property closed September 15th, and I am happy for Renee.  A few horses have left, and the remainders are in training with either Cara or I, so I am much happier about that. When I let the business expand to include boarders, I felt I was getting stretched too thin, and not giving the care I like to give.  We have consolidated down to the main barn and the little white hunter barn, which makes chores much easier.  My only real complaint is the loss of the washing machine. As I type, I am at a laundry mat washing saddle pads.

As of today, I have three options, and whichever one I choose will change the direction of SFD.  Late last week I thought I had this all sorted out, but the contract negotiations are getting dicey, so I don’t think it’s going to work out.  Being so close to “out of limbo,” then being back in limbo, well, it makes it that much more unsettling.  

My horse-pro friends have been super-supportive in all of this. Several have offered me stalls, and so I won’t be stuck stabling horses in my tiny back yard (yes, I have had that nightmare more than once lately…). 

I guess this is the price to pay for having so much fun most of the time. 

Ok, I’ll get off the pity-pot now. 

It’s Devon week, and Slingshot is handing it all like the super-star he is becoming. Cara and Ockie are competing the PGS and I-1 on Friday and Saturday, then three weeks later we head to BLMS.   More on that later--in a more positive light, I promise!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pics from Region 8

I promised photos - here are a few.

Chilly weather on Thurs, we just HAD to have jackets.
This show was nuts, lots of stuff going on.  The hunters were competing in their Marshall-Sterling finals, the jumpers were doing their thing, Tues -Thurs had a DSH show, and we had 6 dressage arenas cranking, one under CDI rules. This makes for a really fun show, with tons to watch, and, of course, brings out the vendors.

This little dude was a pony jumper, didn't catch his name, but seriously, the jumps are as high as his withers.  Impressive!

Shows are a combination of relaxed sitting around, then hurry-up-and-stress. 

Cara and Linda's pre-class ritual.

Ockie likes her hay where she can see everything.

I drug them off the show grounds one day to see Saugerties' famous lighthouse. It may be the shortest lighthouse I've ever seen.

See, tiny lighthouse. Only3 stories high.
I got artsy with my new camera :-).

Oh, yea, competition shots!

And, of course, a special thanks to our coach.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Tack Room Makeover

Anyone who works with me knows I get snippy when I can’t find things.  At a show, when we are out of our routines and stressed, order is hard to find.  Luckily, Cara feels the same way, so usually our tack room is a picture of anal organization. But not last weekend.

Part of the problem is my new trailer. In my old trailer, I kept some show stuff tucked under my shelves, just for horse shows. My new trailer has these awesome airflow windows, so I’ve been sorting out what can go where, what lives in the trailer all the time, what comes just for shows, and keeping it all below the windows.  As a result, I forgot my cheapie-tired-looking-do-we-really-need-these plastic shelving and carpet.  Well, we needed them.   Without the carpet to define our tack room into zones, and our shelves to get stuff up off the floor, we were primed for disorder.  Then add unpredictable upstate NY fall weather, which feeds the over-packing instinct, and we had, by far, our messiest tack room ever.

BLMs are 4 1/2 weeks away, so I’m trolling web sites and e-bay for solutions.  Furniture for a tack room is a challenge.   Every show stabling is different.  Saugerties, this weekend, had nice, tall stall walls, so even if we had hanging shelving, they wouldn’t hang low enough to reach.  The walls were also pretty thick, so the hanger-part had to be able to fit over the wall – a problem for our bridle racks.    But the floors were pretty flat, a rarity in show stabbing, so free-standing items (like my forgotten selves) would work well.  At NJ Horse Park, on the other hand, the stall walls are wood half-way up, then chain link at the top, giving us lots of places to hang stuff, but making the tack stall an easy victim of rain or a runaway hose. 

In an ideal world, the tack stall furniture would be stuff that we can pack in, then ship in, so there’s no packing for show-unpacking into tack stall-repacking to go home- unpacking back at home.  Add our durability requirements, and I end up shopping for my tack stall at home improvement stores. Max, our favorite addition this season, is a fabulously portable tool box by Stanley. Max’s best feature is that it is built on a dolly, so it’s easy to roll it to the trailer at the end of a long weekend.

As I’m searching for shelving options, I come across the idea of “clamshell cabinets”—essentially two shelving units hinged together. I think this is a great idea, but I think I may need to try my creative hand at this.  There are two problems with this design–first, the shelves are right across from each other, so when the cabinet is closed, things can move from one shelf to another, and fall all over upon opening.  A lip at the end of each shelf and staggering the shelves will fix that.  Second problem – the $1400 price tag.  Plus, if I made it, I can use a pin-in-the-hole connection system (like on horse trailer butt bars), meaning I can totally separate the shelves if the tack room set-up would warrant it.  Plus I like power tools, and have a quiet week coming up, so I’m primed for the project.

I suspect I’m going to give Doug heart-failure with this idea ….

Despite the messy tack room, the show went really well.  We live and compete in Region 1, but as our championships are in November in down in NC, we decided to crash Region 8’s championship this year.   This isn’t our home region, so we had no idea how we would stack up against the competition. 

We did just fine.  Secret, who is an amazingly consistent 66-67% girl, landed us 3rd in her two open first level classes, and 1st in 2nd 3 open.  Cara and Ockie had a truly beautiful ride in the open I-1 class on Saturday to earn a and a red ribbon.  Figi, Trevelyan Farm’s super-star pony, grew up a lot at this show (she’s only about a year under saddle) and was in the 60’s and either in the ribbons, or just out of them, every class.  Plus we squeezed in lessons with Scott with each horse, which had a surprisingly refreshing effect on me.  The little shot of training-focus instead of show-results-focus really kept my mind fresh. 

Pics will come in the next blog, I promise. I’m waiting for Linda and Catharine’s photos. I’ll consolidate them and post soon.