January 31, 2016

Its Back to Work for Gem

The blog has been a little devoid of fun riding content lately. When I moved Gem to the new barn she was at a 3.5 (and thats being generous) on the Body Condition Scale. Eek. I put her on Triple Crown Senior, about 1.5 pounds twice a day, plus basically free choice good quality hay. As of yesterday I would rank her around a 4.5. That is a lot of improvement but she still has a ways to go yet to get back to the 6.0 I like entering a ride.

I did not feel comfortable riding her at a 3.5. At a 4.5 I do with the caveat that I watch her closely and don't push beyond her threshold. Building muscle is important and now that I know her nutrition is on par with the demands, her vacation is over.

Saturday afternoon was glorious with shining sun, blue skies and temps in the upper 50s. I pulled into the barn just shy of 3 pm and grabbed Gem from her field.

Frick and Frack enjoying life together

My first move was to fit her new side pull halter bridle to her oddly shaped head. She is petite and sometimes even the cob sizes are too large. I removed her second bit from the leather bridle I had stashed in the trailer to attach to this one and after a bit of tinkering was pretty happy with the overall fit.

This is why you don't leave your nice leather bridle in the trailer . Poor thing needs a lot of care to remove all the mold and recondition it. 
There is a very steep hill that leads up from the back of the property to the arena and my plan for the day was to work on a few hill sets. There is a gate at the entrance to the property that gives access to a small trail through the woods to the base of the hill which leads up to the sand arena which then leads to the grass jumping field. The thought was to warm up through the woods, hit the hill, do a few laps in the deep sand of the arena, head to the grass jumping field to work on some more canters and trots and then head back down to the start of the trail and repeat. Since I was working on a large hill, I strapped on the fleece breast collar I bought from Liz.

Looking like a true endurance mare now. The new headstall is from The Distance Depot and I really like it. Review to come later. 
As I was tacking up, a virtual friend appeared in real life. She lives right next door, goes to all the hunter paces and was the one who recommended this barn to me. It was so nice to meet her in person finally!! We ended up chatting away for over an hour as Gem begged for scratches and fell asleep. Missy is one of those people who you instantly like and can talk to for hours. I really hope we can get together more frequently in the future!

After all the chatting with Missy, the BO arrived and we chatted some more. By this time, my time was running out as it was after 4, so I ditched my initial plan and just headed to the grass field. The field is deceptive in that it is on a slant in both the north-south and east-west direction, so you are going up or down pretty much constantly.

Last remnants of snow in the shade
As soon as we entered, I remembered why I dislike riding in an arena type environment and why we need to work on it much more frequently. I asked for a nice walk around the perimeter since neither of us had been in it before and I wanted to check the footing and the terrain out. Gem did her #1 work evasion tactic: go faster. She inverted and zoomed from the back of the field all the way to the gate and when I turned her to circle versus bolting out the gate, she shook her head and prepared to "buck". Her "buck" is a minuscule crow hop, but she feels all proud of herself none the less when she performs it.

I sighed. Oh this. This is why I don't enjoy this.

I recalled my tactics from the past. We haven't had access to an arena or arena like area for nearly 2 years. My best tool for her is to serpentine. Keep her moving, keep her changing direction. We serpentined back down the field using the christmas tree cross country jumps as points to change direction. Once we were at the back, she decided to bolt for the exit again. I kept her to a dull roar and once we made it back to the gate, we circled. And circled and circled.

The jump field. The field is on a pretty nice hill that runs the steepest as you go from left to right in the picture, but also has a less severe incline as you go from the house towards the shade. 

After about 10 minutes, I felt her relaxe and give in to the idea of actual work.

Then she did her second favorite work evasion tactic: come to a halt. She just stopped. Put her ears up and gave me the middle finger. I asked her to walk on. She backed up. Ok mare, you want to play this game? Fine. Don't go forward. But you also aren't going to go backwards either. You can go laterally. Now move.

That lasted only a few minutes before she conceded that that was even less fun. After that she got down to work nicely and we spent 20 minutes doing a serpentine at the trot down the hill and a canter back up.

Then we headed over to the sand arena. It is nice because it is flat and there are plenty of jumps to either use or go around. I plan to add jumping back into Gem's life once again as I think it really helps her build her core and hind end nicely. For Saturday, I just wanted her to get used to the deep sand.

Nice footing, but it is really deep and she hasn't seen sand in a long time. 

Once we entered the arena, the BO came in with her gorgeous Prelim eventer. He is my dream color: a light buckskin with dark contrasting black points and I love him. They walked around while we did our best to avoid looking completely awful. I wanted to do some short trot and canter sets in the sand and Gem was a really good girl for this. She settled in nicely and focused on me instead of the gelding. After about 15 minutes and hearing her breathing hard, I called it quits.

Just as my feet hit the ground, the BO asked if I wanted her to show me the trails. Poor Gem thought she was finished as I walked her back over to the mounting block and got back on. We wandered down the steep hill and into the woods.

Sexy fancy buckskin butt. Angry mare ears as she wanted to go faster and pass the guy in front. 
The trail was much nicer than I had imagined and while it isn't very long, this will make for a great training loop to work on speed work. It winds past a swamp and behind the pasture. I was really happy she showed me the way and can't wait to go back out and do some pretty intensive hill sets. I'm also pretty excited about the sand arena. I've been avoiding the two SC endurance rides because they are all in the sand and I did not feel comfortable asking her to perform in the sand without any conditioning in it.

Oh!! And to make me even happier!!! A short 10 minutes away is a set of private trails that include 125 miles!!!!! Holy crap!!! The trail system is limited to those who live on it and those in the surrounding two towns. It happens that I now board within that system and for a yearly fee of $150 I can have access to the trails. I was doing a happy dance in my head :)

Gem was pretty sweaty after the ride and I was really happy with how she settled in. Next weekend is finally another hunter pace and I can't wait. This one is historically pretty short, so I hope to go around it twice to get more miles in. With our next endurance ride looming in the near future, We better get laying those miles.

January 26, 2016

Network Spinal Analysis

Pragmatic: dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.

That is a pretty good definition although I was always taught in school that you should never use the word in the definition of the word, but that's being nit picky. I would like to believe that I am pragmatic. I know I am definitely not an optimist. I worked with an optimist in residency and it just about blew my mind how he could spin pretty much everything into sunshine and roses. And fully believe it. That's not me. I also know that I am not a pessimist. Everything isn't doom and gloom. So, pragmatic seems to fit more than anything else.

Monday afternoon the BO texted me that her chiropractor would be out to work on her horse as well as herself and family members. Would I want to have Gem or Pete done? I've had massage work done with Gem and she loves it, but have never had a chiropractor out. I just never bought into the fact that a 90 pound woman could actually move my horse's pelvis or pop a veterbra held in by muscles with more power than her whole body contained back into place. Maybe I'm more of a skeptic.

My answer was no. The more I thought about it though, the more intrigued I became that she also worked on people. I've been holding my stress between my shoulders and even a lovely massage a couple weeks ago didn't do the trick to loosen things up. It did relieve the tension headache I had been suffering with for over 2 weeks which was a win.

With my work schedule and the barn being 45 minutes away I doubted she would still be there when I could make it, but the BO assured me she would and I made the trip up after work. I said a quick hello to Gemmie and dashed inside the house to see what was going on.

The BO was laying face down, fully clothed, on a padded table on the sunporch. The chiropractor was lightly touching her back and neck. I watched in fascination as she would tell her she was about to make contact and then barely even touch her. The BO responded with obvious relief. My brows furrowed as my brain tried to make sense out of what I was seeing. She finished shorty after I arrived by doing some adjustments with a small adjusting tool which again left me puzzled. Where were the twisting, popping, re alignments? Where were the harsh maneuvers and scary back breaking techniques?

As I was pondering this, she looked at me and said it was my turn. I swallowed the lump in my throat and went over.

She began by asking me about my stress levels, diet, exercise and life satisfaction. As she explained that she wasn't just about popping some bones into place and was more about a whole body well being approach, I found myself nodding along and wanting to believe that this could work. As I turned over and laid on my stomach, I tried to quiet the nagging questions in my mind: how on earth does this method work? What is the science behind it? Is it quackery? Does she believe it works or is she just a modern snake venom salesman?

As her fingertips began to explore the length of my spine looking for areas of tension, my mind roared question after question at me. She remarked at how tight my upper back and neck was and then moved down to my feet rolling them in circles and then asked me to look right, center, then left. She murmured something to herself and then moved back up to the base of my skull. She told me she was going to make contact.

I prepared for a push, a pop, something drastic and all relieving.

What I felt was a breath. She touched a spot at the base of my skull lighter than you would flick a piece of lint off your shirt. My brows furrowed. Was that all? How could that do anything? She barely even touched me!

As she continued to make several light contacts, I felt something strange. I felt an urgent need to take a massive deep breath. As I followed the demands of my lungs, I found myself taking the deepest breath I had in a long time. As I exhaled, I felt a ton of tension leave and I could hear the smile on her face as she remarked "good..really good."

The rest of the session followed suit. She would lightly touch some point along my neck, upper back or sacrum and I would feel like jello and breathe deep. At times I felt a little wave run through my neck or an arm and all of a sudden everything just felt better. All of this from the slightest breath of a touch.

After that she began to use the adjustment tool. My right SI joint has been out of whack for years. I have no clue what happened to it, but I can clearly remember rolling on my back on my bedroom floor in college to read a text book and feeling a sharp pain to the area. Ever since then, if I lay on my back on a hard surface and put any pressure to my right buttock, it hurt. She got there and exclaimed that it was all sorts of screwed up. Well, in better terms than that. She used the tool which I thought would hurt, but just felt like a little push.

She moved all along my spine, pushing when needed, into my neck, released part of my jaw and then had me sit up. She worked on my arms, legs and feet.

When I got home, I felt much better. I felt relaxed, happy and was breathing in big swallows of air that made me feel light and free. The question of whether or not this was quackery still plagued me though. After Wyatt went to bed I dug around on the internet looking for answers.

I found several articles that explained the basic tenants of NSA along with an actual scientific study on the effects.

The basis of the therapy is that your body not only holds onto stress, but also the emotions that created it in the first place. As you build layer upon layer of stress it distorts your spine, mucles and bones. This in turns releases more cortisol and gets you stuck in a fight or flight status that causes all sorts of issues with your internal organs and mental/emotional state.

By applying light touch along nerve roots and pathways, the therapist begins to teach your body to release its own stress therby creating new neural pathways to fight off continued or new stresses. It begins to strengthen the parasympathetic nervous system and train it to take a stronger role. Benefits have been proven in all aspects of a person's health not just their spinal alignment.

Whether or not it is quackery in the end makes no difference to me. I felt a difference from before she started to after I got home. I can't go twice a week as she recommended (not enough money trees in my yard), but I will try to make it out there on a semi regular basis.

By the way, she uses the exact same technique on horses. I will be having a session on Gem before our next endurance ride for sure.

January 25, 2016

Snowzilla: South Edition

Moving to the Land of Sunshine (AKA SC) from the Arctic North (AKA WI) was a bit of a culture shock in some regards. Nothing highlights this more than winter weather.

In WI, like many snowbound states, a winter storm had to be of epic proportions to cancel school or cause business closures. The snow would just build up and you had to learn to drive in it. To give the city credit, the roads were pretty darn immaculate all winter long and it was a rare day that they were impassable shortly after the storm stopped.

As Snowzilla loomed nearer and nearer, the South began a small panic. Friday was calling for some ice and snow in the afternoon. My poor employee, born and raised in the south, was anxiously probing me for closing information. I informed her that it would have to be exceedingly bad to close. That morning it was mostly clear out without any preciptation. You can imagine my shock then when I pulled into the parking lot of Wyatt's school Friday morning to find them closed. I checked my email and a message had gone to my promotions folder for some odd reason. Darn.

Luckily, I do not see patients on Fridays using the day to get caught up on the business aspect of owning my own private practice. I did have a surgery to perform that afternoon, so Dusty asked his boss if he could get home to relieve me of Wyatt duty for that. As it turned out his office was closing at lunch anyway.

I headed back home with Wyatt (I told my employee she could leave early if the roads were getting to the point where she was worried) and we played the morning away. My patient called to let me know she was cancelling the surgery due to weather by mid morning. When Dusty got home that afternoon it looked like this out:

Look, I understand that the South isn't prepared for snow, but this isn't snow. This is basically clear roads. No reason to cancel school and shut the entire town down.
The weather was supposed to get worse over night with more snow accumulation and we were excited to see Wyatt in it the next morning. Saturday dawned and we had about 2 inches of snow and a bunch of ice.

Saturday definitely called for things being shut down at least in the morning. Ice is no joke and when you have a bunch of people who have no clue how to handle it, no salt to put on the roads and a bunch of wheel rear drive sports cars it just makes everything worse.
The sun came out that afternoon and by the time Wyatt awoke from his nap the streets were just wet. We ventured out to the mall to get some things (our semi annual event) and were shocked to see half the stores with the gates closed. Seriously, the roads were wet in the shady places and completely dry in the sun. Why were people not working? It was no worse than if it had rained out!!

On Sunday the temperatures soared to the low 50s and all the remaining snow melted. The city returned to mostly normal status, or so I thought. We ventured up north to see the horses and ran back into the snow. Even though they are only 40 minutes north of us, there is a belt line that runs East-West with heavier snow and colder temps north of the line. The barn still had a good 4-5" inches even in the blazing sun and Wyatt enjoyed building snowmen and throwing snowballs.

It was warm enough to need only a vest and long sleeve shirt
I grabbed Gemmie and she is already looking so much better. The Triple Crown Senior I put her on has made her coat silky sooth and shiny again and while her ribs are easy to feel, they are no longer visible.

Wyatt wanted to ride, so I walked Gem up to the arena and hiked around in the slushy snow. I was sweating and huffing by the second lap. I forgot how hard it is to walk in the snow!!

After he was satisfied I jumped on and we went around. Gem historically is a nut job the first few outings at a new barn and with the slushy snow covering deep sandy footing, I was concerned about an accident. We walked around and then she asked to trot, so I let her. We weaved amongst the jumps set higher than I will ever be brave enough to jump and I refused to let her canter. She was pretty huffy and tired by the end herself.

The barn is over there. Why are we working in this stuff?
As I rode around in the snow, I looked around from my higher vantage point. My jaw dropped. I was surrounded by the mountains which were speckled with snow. My heart is in the mountains and I always feel so much more free when near or in them.

The view from the arena. This view just might make me take up dressage just so I can spend more time looking at it from atop my favorite mare.

The far end of the arena on top of the "small" bank jumps. These "small" banks are still way higher than I would feel comfortable taking. I'm a wimp. 
Dusty even grabbed Pete and gave him a good brushing. At the last barn he was extremely hard to catch and the BO complained that in all the time we were there he never was able to lay a hand on him. Since moving, the new BO has blanketed him, check on his temperature, brought him in for the night when it was bad out and in general made friends. Pete walked right up to Dusty for snuggles and followed right into the barn no problem.

We got home around 5pm and my brother texted me that the schools were closed for Monday. What? The roads are dry. Completely, 100% dry. No ice. No snow. The weather even states a high in the mid 50s for the day. Have I gone insane?

Well, it turns out that the entire district which is extremely large has to be on the same page. So if there is some concern for ice or snow in the more northern sections or too cold in the more rural aspects, the entire district closes as a group. So, while around here the roads are perfect there must be some sections where there is still ice on the roads. It just seem crazy to think the kiddos are home from school when it is 55F out, green grass and dry roads. Up north each individual school made their own decision, so if one school was surrounded by ice and another was dry, the one would be closed and the other stay open.

I feel for all you fellow bloggers who had a much different experience with Snowzilla. I followed my northern friends on Facebook and was in awe of the massive drifts. I hope you all dig out soon and stay safe!!

January 24, 2016

Picture a Day Challenge 2016

Oops...I'm really behind in posting them. At least I still remembered to take one each day. This challenge is way harder than it seems. Most days are just working and living life without much room for excitement. Not a whole lot of interesting things to take pictures of. I manage though and try to get a variety.
1/4: Snuggling on the couch with Einstein. The couch isn't comfortable enough for him, so he makes a bed out of the pillows on top of it. 

1/5: Received the call no owner wants to get: your horse appears to have colic. Vet came out and she was tubed. She was fine by the morning and we started to get ready to leave this barn.

1/6: Watching Ice Age Meets Dinosaurs for the 100th time. It is Wyatt's favorite movie and while we do limit his screen time, when he gets to watch he always picks this. 

1/7: All warm and snuggly in my new super soft fleece pj pants and slippers. 

1/8: Took Wyatt to the park after school to enjoy the later daylight instead of rushing home as normal. 

1/9: Gem and Pete get settles into their new barn together. It was heart warming to see them together again and relieving to know they would be in good hands. 

1/10: Guest picture taker: Dusty. He snagged this picture of Wyatt and I when we went out to eat. 

1/11: A beautiful sky leading me home after work. 

1/12: About a mile from the restaurant where my work related dinner was being held, I heard a flapping noise. I gimped to the restaurant and called Dusty to tell him I had a flat. He drove out and used the portable air pump that works off the cigarette lighter that we bought for emergency trailer needs. It worked like a charm and I was able to get home safely. 

1/13: Spent the morning with Gem. She behaved herself very well for the short ride I snuck in before work. 

1/14: Wyatt decide to climb up on Dusty's car. You will note the dent in front of his passenger side door. This door has randomly fallen off the car twice, each time ruining the entire front panel. The driver side door has done this as well. Each time the dealership has fixed it and told us it was an odd hinge defect. The car was bought brand new in 2008 and has been a piece of junk ever since. 

1/15: Dusty left for a conference in FL and Wyatt was at school which left me with an odd "me" day. I used it to make a hole in the couch and get a massage. Echo joined me as my date for lunch. 

1/16: Took Wyatt to the children's museum. He was a little shy at first, but lit up when we mad wit to he farm display. Here he is milking a cow. 
1/17: Einstein warms up my feet as I get some work done after Wyatt went to bed. 

1/18: Wyatt playing with his Vetech track set

1/19: Wyatt was thrilled Dusty came home and proceeded to show it by being bad up on the counter. 

1/20: Wyatt is in gymnastic and here he is learning to do a backbend with a massive grin on his face

1/21: My first page of an adult coloring book with colored pencil. I finished the border a couple of days later. It is relaxing and addicting. 

1/22: Snowzilla in the South. The whole town shut down and by the early afternoon we only had this. 

1/23: Took a walk in the neighborhood after the snow stopped. We ended up with about 2 inches and some ice. 

1/24: Rode Gem in the snow of the first time in 3 years. She wasn't impressed, but I had a ton of fun.

January 21, 2016

Hubby Hates the BO

Wednesday I received the following picture via text from our new BO:

The message said that she knew I wasn't officially saddle shopping, but this beauty was in the warehouse in Gem's tree size and my seat size. 

I told her that both Dusty and my bank account hated her.

It is a glorious saddle. She uses a similar model for eventing and let me borrow it last week to try on Gem. Did I mention she is a vendor/fitter for Stubben? The saddle surprisingly fit Gem like a glove and is made with a slot for the billet that allows the girth to shift and settle where it needs to be without pulling the saddle forward which was the bane of my existence when dealing with English saddles in the past. I walked, trotted and cantered in it without the saddle moving at all. Gem was also pretty content although the time was short and in the arena versus out on trails.

Of course, the price tag is pretty solidly out of my price range by a good margin. It is just so darn pretty and comfortable. I keep looking at it again and again and again.

With a bunch of maneuvering and conniving I could potentially pull it off, but won't for several reasons, two of which pertain to this blog.

First and foremost, Gem is amazing and I adore riding her, but she is coming on 18 years and the reality is she won't be my main riding horse for forever. In a perfect world (HA..HAHAHAHAHA!!) I would be in the position to get a young horse this summer or next so that I could get them up and going for when she retires. That won't be happening, but some day it will. Is shelling out that much money for a saddle for a horse that probably has 5 or so years left as a main riding horse really that smart? No.

Second, I want a new trailer. I already have it all picked out. Just waiting to win the lottery. The money for a new saddle that really isn't needed could go toward getting a new trailer that is well sorta needed depending on your point of view.

So there it is. A lovely saddle in gorgeous colors that fits the mare and is decidedly too much money. I hate being an adult.

January 18, 2016

Barn #3: Crazy Town

A couple of you have asked about the crazy lady. It seems to me that there is a disproportionate number of crazy horse people when compared to crazies in other hobbies/sports. Anyone know why that is? I'm guessing because it takes a certain amount of type A personality, determined attitude and ignorance of all the other fun things your money could be spent on while you are soaking your horses abscessed out hoof for the millionth time to be able to do this in the first place, let alone make yourself responsible for other people's horses. I don't know.

In making my calls to various potential new barns for the Dynamic Duo, I found the responses to be interesting. Some BOs were annoyed at my questioning, others used it as an opportunity to talk about their facilities and were obviously proud of what they had, and yet others seemed a little apologetic at their answers. And then there was Barn #3.

Here is a re-enactment of my phone call, as accurate as I can possibly be two weeks after the fact. I'm not embellishing or making this up. This was my call (barn name changed for privacy):


BO: Crazy Acres...hello?

Me: Hello. I found you on newhorse.com. I am in need of pasture board for a mare and a gelding. Do you have any space available?

BO: For what?

Me: For two horses on pasture board. They can be kept together, which I prefer, or separated if need be.

BO: Why don't you come on out and see the place and we will talk?

Me: Well, I don't want to waste anyone's time and would like to talk a bit about what you have and how much you charge before driving out there. Do you have space available?

BO: I could.

Me: If...?

BO: If you come out and see the place. I'm sure you'd love it. Why not come out this Sunday? Say 12 pm.

Me: Before I do that, I need to know if you even have room and how much you would charge.

BO: I charge based on what you need. Really you need to just come out here.

Me (beginning to wonder if I would be lured out to my death): Ok..well I need pasture for two horses, hay as needed when grass is not enough to sustain them and grain up to twice a day again depending on the grass and hay.

BO: Well, I don't charge like that.

Me: Oh..how do you charge?

BO: Each month is completely different. Winter versus summer. It all depends on what I do.

Me: What is the most basic fee you require each month to house my horses?

BO: If I had to pick a price it would be $150 for pasture, but nobody pays that.

Me: So what do people pay?

BO:  They pay whatever I charge them for the month.

Me: (at this point I was scanning online for other barns to call and taking deep breaths before asking a new question) How do you determine what to charge?

 BO: I do as I see fit and then charge for it. You'll know after I spent the money.

Me: But what are these expenses? Am I paying for hay and grain? If so, do I supply it or get to choose what they get? I'm sorry, but I am just really confused.

BO: If I see a horse start to lose weight, I'll give hay. Depending on the quality of hay and how much I give, I charge. I can't lose money here. Same with grain. I have grain and will give as much as they need, when they need it. You then pay for what I fed.

Me: Can I just supply my own grain?

BO: No. I have my own here and will use that as needed. Same with hay. I don't want to be responsible for storing it.

Me: Ok....so if you give hay and grain...do you call and ask me or let me know or do you just do it?

BO: I do as needed and you will know when I tell you board is due. The amount varies depending on what I did.

Me: Oh. I see. That's hard to budget for. Um..well, what trail access do you have? Your website stated trails on property. (trying to salvage the conversation and go to more promising ground)

BO: We don't have any trails here. Does my site say that? We are about 40 minutes from the nearest set of trails. This property is really beautiful. You'd know that if you came to see it. (Getting a little pissy that I won't come out without knowing information before)

Me:  Can I ride in a pasture or do you have an arena to use?

BO: Nope. I don't believe in working the horses.  We have had an arena in construction for a long time, but I don't see the sense in it.

Me: So there is no way to ride at all on the property?

BO: No.

Me: Do you have a tack room?

BO: Nope. No need when you don't ride.

Me: Can I park my trailer there?

BO: Sure. If you need to have it the next morning and want to park it over nght we can find a spot.

Me: But I can't leave it there permanently...

BO: Nope. So...I think the best thing is for you to come out at 12 pm Sunday then you can have time to go back home, pick up your horses and move them in that same afternoon. That would work out really well.

Me: I'll talk to my husband and get back to you.

January 13, 2016


The BO put this on FB this afternoon. Two happy, content and completely relaxed horses enjoying a nap together.

Looking back, I never once saw either horse laying down at the last barn. Its funny how you can't recognize certain signs until they hit you in the face. I don't go to the barn super often and so it wasn't exceptionally odd to never catch them laying down. Only when I think about it, I have caught the horses laying down at least a handful of times at every barn we have been at and my routine of showing up at various times on various days has never really changed. So the fact that I never, not even a single time, in 1.5 years saw them laying down is a bad sign.

They are happy now though. And that is what matters.

January 11, 2016

The Dynamic Duo's New Digs

Sunday morning I awoke with butterflies in my stomach. A big part of it was the fact that I had chosen the new barn without Dusty seeing it. Not that he didn't trust me or anything, but it was a little nerve wracking hoping I made the right choice.

We pulled into the old place to get Gem and Pete and debated what to tell the BO who we knew would be there at that time of the morning. We didn't want to burn any bridges and wanted to leave on a good note. Well, we needn't have spent any energy worrying about that. I won't go into detail because Dusty told me not to, but the BO stormed up to us, used a cuss word and told us we were evicted.

So that settled any unease we had about leaving. We loaded Gem, looking skinnier than ever, and Pete, looking more obese than ever, and drove the 40 minutes to the new barn.

I texted the BO that we were on our way and she met us at the barn with a smile.

From here, I will warn you that this post gets excessively mushy. I can't explain how extremely happy I am with our decision and how much stress has been removed that I didn't even know I really had at the old place.

The main 4 stall barn
Pete came off first and the BO stared at his excessive girth. We apologized for his heftiness and led him to his new pasture. He walked around and checked everything out while I went to get Gem.  The BO seemed a bit nervous about introducing them since they weren't together at the last barn and we reassured her it would be fine. 

Obese gelding checking out his surroundings

Gemmie backed off and her skin and bones body was in stark contrast to the horse we just led off. I'm sure we made a great first impression.

Gem went out and immediately started to eat the rye grass shoots in the field
It was great seeing the two together again. They used to be best friends and we never had a single issue with fights or injuries when they were together. They just looked at each other and got right back to life together. No squealing. No fuss. Good horses!

Two best buds
Their pasture is a big L and has plenty of grass, areas shaded by trees and is mostly flat. It is plenty large for the two of them to be safe and still be able to kick up their heels if they want.

The long side of the L shaped pasture.

Their pasture leads to their own two stall barn with large stalls and plenty of storage. For the first time in years we had a place to put their blankets!

Private chateau for two

Their stalls for use in case of injury, sickness or really bad weather. Gem's cooler is hung up on a blanket bar to the right and we added her light weight sheet and Pete's medium weight as well.

When I looked around the barn I saw this and my eyes just about popped out of my head:

A brand new hay delivery just for our two. She put out hay immediately and that night texted me to tell me she gave them 8 more flakes for overnight at 9 pm. I am in love.
We then wandered around the property to empty the trailer and show Dusty around. I took everything out and claimed spots in the tack room since I believe I will be riding on property more than trailering, at least for a while. We also emptied our lovely Triple Crown Senior feed into a bucket and discussed feeding. Gem will be getting 3/4 of a scoop (about 2 lbs) twice a day until she starts putting weight back on and then we will re evaluate. Pete will be getting a small handful twice a day and really could get by on just hay, but I don't want to deplete him too much. I briefly debated on just buying the Lite or 30% balancer for him, but honestly I just didn't want to invest in two different grains right off the bat. It turns out the BO is really good at horse nutrition and knows a ton, so I m sure I will be learning a lot. She said that she would bring Gem inside her barn to eat and leave Pete out until things settle with both their weights. What I really wish is that we had the money to pay her to ride Pete for us a couple times a week and get him in good shape. Unfortunately, right now we are tapped out.

Hot and cold water available. There is also an outside wash area next to Gem and Pete's private barn that also offers hot and cold water.

Inside the main barn. So clean and tidy!

Wyatt enjoyed playing in the mud puddles and making friends with Jerry, the barn cat, while we put our tack away and talked to the BO.

Wyatt and Jerry. The horses on the hill are her two plus the other boarder. Above that is the arena with lights to come. I forgot to take a picture of the arena.

The big pasture
We stayed a while and explored the area. One thing I hadn't seen before was the really steep hill that leads up the back way to the arena. That sucker is going to be great for hill conditioning. I can already see Gem and I working on gallop sets then working in the deep sand of the arena and then over to the cross country field and back down the hill to repeat.  It will be perfect conditioning and then supplement with the hunter paces and some longer rides as able.
Before we left they showed us the bathroom and gave Wyatt chocolate, water and gold fish crackers which won them a friend for life. We left relaxed and feeling really, really good.
During the day she made sure to text me (a first for me) with updates. At dinner she texted to ask if she could add warm water to the feed to make sure they are getting enough water and then at 9 pm she texted me a last check update. Seriously, she rocks.
As an aside - the blood work we took during her colic episode came back normal except for some anemia. Dusty talked to the vet and she said to check it at the end of the month, but that it is most likely due to restricted water access.  If we weren't already in a good place, I would be angry.
Last thoughts before ending this post. One of this biggest differences between where we are now and where we have always been before is that the BO is an active rider and competitor. She is young, enthusiastic and fully understands proper horse management for a horse under work. From the 24 hours we have been there it is clear that she honestly cares about horses, their welfare and how they are being cared for. This isn't a farm that overloads horses and drains your money. I can't wait for our future here and to get Gem back up to fighting weight and ready to go again.
Future, here we come!!!

Barn #2

I left Barn #1 and drove the 10 minutes to the next place with my head in the clouds. I ran through the seemingly endless possibilities that Barn #2 had: cross country course, miles of trails, arenas. Gem would never be bored!

As drove down the steep driveway, I saw a bustle of activity on the property. People were bringing horses in, others were hand grazing, some were even riding in the slop. I hadn't noticed during the pace just how big this place really was. It was in stark contrast to the small private facility I just left.

The BO met me at the barn and we went inside. I stand corrected on one thing: this was designed for Michael Pollard, not Phillip Dutton. Anyway, the barn was as magnificent as I remembered, but at $600 a stall it was well outside my price range. There were boarders everywhere and the one thing to note was how extremely friendly everyone I met was. They were nice and friendly and even though it was obvious that their riding clothes cost more than my entire wardrobe at home was worth, they didn't come across as snobbish at all.

She then took me on the kabota to tour the 95 acre farm. I was anxious to see the pasture that Gem and Pete would occupy. So far all I had seen were the individual turn out paddocks for the stalled horses. She informed me that there were two pastures open. The first was a hill side. A very steep, very rocky and very small hill side. Smaller than the pasture at Barn #1. I was confused. How could this be it? We then drove to the opposite side of the property and saw the flat pasture. It was a postage stamp. Smaller than any pasture I had ever seen. It was more like my corral at an endurance ride. I double checked that these were in fact the pastures for pastured horses and she confirmed it. My heart sank a little.

It was still workable though with everything they offered. I went over with her everything I had been told on the phone. $350 included the pasture, grain twice a day, hay twice a day, use of tack room, use of all the grounds. I asked how many miles of trails they had with obvious excitement.

Trails? We don't have trails here.

What? I could feel the disappointment as a throb in my ears.

She clarified that while there were miles and miles of trails accessible right from the property, they didn't have permission to use them except during the hunter pace if they paid to enter it. Damn.

Ok...but looking at it realistically there was still more room to ride and more to do here even without the trails. Yes, it wasn't the dream I had pictured, but at the same cost was it better?

Then she drove the nail in the coffin: the barn hours were 8 am - 6 pm. Unless there is a special reason to get permission to arrive earlier or later. No wonder at 5 pm it was so busy. Everyone was trying to get everything done before the barn closed. No way that would work with my schedule.

Darn. Barn #2 just died a horrible death.

I went home and mulled over our options. We could stay put and keep looking or move to Barn #1 which was a beautiful facility with a nice BO who knew her stuff. We were put on a wait list at two facilities that did truely have trails. One bordered Croft State Park where I do most of my conditioning but is at the back entrance putting it a solid hour from home. The other has about 15 miles of confirmed trails but is $400 a month and does not offer pasture board. Horses must be stalled during the night in winter and day in summer and the wait list is massive.

In the end we decided to move to Barn #1 and after we made the move (a post is coming on that) I can honestly say that we have never boarded at a place so lovely with a BO so wonderful.