Friday, September 9, 2016

cast of characters: a web of clarity?

Do you guys remember how every book in the Saddle Club series started with the same introduction of all the riders and horses? Every time? And how you could kinda skip the first couple pages of each book bc dammit, Bonnie, we already know who Carole, Stevie and Lisa are! Starlight, Belle and Prancer too, let's be real.

I've tried to take a similar approach to identifying my trainers and their respective barns. Lately tho it's admittedly gotten confusing despite my efforts, given the number of new equine faces thrown in the mix.

So, to clarify what I'm doing with the horses these days, and where and with whom (and maybe by doing so, showing why it's felt like such a hustle haha), here's an overview of the cast of horses, trainers, and barns in my playbook this summer.

Pay attention, there will be a quiz!

plus gorgeous scenic sunset barn door vista :)


Isabel & Her Home Barn, GE

My lease mare Isabel lives at a small quiet farm that has historically been mostly a trail barn with an english/western/natural horsemanship lesson program (that has grown substantially in the last two years). The farm has a medium sized outdoor arena, an outdoor dressage court and lots of trails.

There aren't any pro trainers here - the resident lesson program is dedicated predominantly to children and beginners. When I decided to start formal lessons and training with Isabel in the Spring of 2014, I had to buy a truck and trailer to make that goal a reality.
This is also the farm where my friend and eventing partner in crime, Brita, leases her horse Wick (who is privately owned, like Isabel).

The growing lesson program has brought opportunities for extra rides. Like good ol' Bali, whom I desperately adored. Bali was a lesson pony flunk out at GE, bc he was just a bit too advanced for most of the students. And the students who could ride him ended up getting their own horses. Like Krimpet - a privately owned green pony who also gets used in the lesson program.

These horses all live at GE (well, except Bali who has since found a new home), tho I've trailered each to other farms for lessons. For instance:


OF, site of weekly lessons with Trainer P

Isabel and I have been hauling out for weekly jump lessons with trainer P at eventing barn OF since before I started blogging. After just under a year of going solo to these lessons, Brita and Wick started accompanying us in Jan 2015. OF has a large outdoor arena, an outdoor dressage court, a small indoor, and a cross country field.

I've continued lessons here since moving on from training with Isabel, and have ridden Noel and Gogo, both technically privately owned horses as OF's depth chart for schoolies is a little weak. It's honestly mostly ponies.
ST, the latest h/j barn with new trainer M

This is the latest addition and perhaps what's gotten things a little confused. I actually rode at this barn years ago but stopped after questioning the program director's motives and ultimately deciding to pursue eventing with Isabel.

Since then, the program leadership has changed to trainer M, tho they still have an awful lot of familiar horsey faces. Plus the facilities are just as lovely as ever. So I've returned for weekly lessons as a way to keep riding interesting horses - to keep learning and developing my own skills and abilities until I can figure out what my 'new normal' will look like.

This barn has a spectacular outdoor (complete with picturesque gazebo, natch) and a medium sized indoor. So far I've ridden Casanova and Remmy (who was only mentioned briefly but was a very good dude for my eval lesson).


TM, site of dressage lessons with Trainer C

Next up is the trainer I haven't been able to see very often lately: dressage trainer C. Her barn is fairly close to Isabel's home barn and we've enjoyed hauling out for regular dressage lessons over the last year and a half. The farm has a gorgeous indoor large dressage court, full of mirrors, windows and fancy footing.

Since discontinuing training with Isabel, it's been tricky to get anything on the schedule as C doesn't have lesson horses. I brought Krimpet that one time... and C let me ride one of her horses Cole, whose lease rider was on vacation... But generally it's been hard to hustle up a horse worth the time effort and cost of getting over there for a lesson.


Other Notable Characters

Obviously no list is complete without mentioning trainer Dan. For the past few years, he's traveled down to GE to teach me and Isabel. But obviously that ended with my choice to discontinue training with Isabel. So we've been in a holding pattern for lessons with him.

A couple weeks ago I made the drive up to his farm (a 3hr round trip) for a lesson on his prelim horse, Lion. I will try to ride with him whenever possible, tho obviously making that drive is quite the time suck. It's much easier having him come to me... but it's hard to justify that expense for the Krimpets of the world haha.

Driving out for clinics with Stephen Birchall at Austen's barn is an equally long ordeal. It was always totally worth it with Isabel, and I made ends meet well enough to catch a ride on Shen (who lives at that farm). But this definitely constitutes a 'special occasion' type outing.


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So that's a brief summary of the 10 horses I've ridden since July (plus a pic of Bali bc I <3 him, and minus one Rico {see below haha}). Maybe that's not a lot, but it's honestly been a bit of a slog making some of these rides a reality.

And perhaps the most confusing thing about all of these different trainers and barns is that... well, we've seen a lot of the same horsey faces at EACH barn haha. Because dammit: Have trailer, will travel!

OF indoor, outdoor and xc field
Like at OF, where we see clockwise from top left: Krimpet, Noel, Wick, Gogo, Isabel, and Bali (with Noel cameo haha). I mean... the farm is easy to get to and the lessons are affordable. Why wouldn't we haul all our horses up there all the time? lol

ST indoor and outdoor
You might not think the new h/j barn ST looks particularly familiar - except if you've been around long enough, you might remember that Brita and I took Isabel and Wick for a little field trip to the indoor two winters ago for schooling.

the indoor at TM
And of course, at dressage barn TM you've seen me ride Isabel plenty, but also Star, Cole and Krimpet.

twinsies at Austen's barn
The indoor at Austen's barn should probably be recognizable in its own right, with those gorgeous vast windows. You've seen Isabel there for clinics with Stephen Birchall (and for trail rides too!), and you've also seen Shen, who lives there.

goofy boys. also these are the only farms that i *haven't* trailered a horse to haha
Then to round out this summer of riding whatever fate puts in my path, we've gotten to see the two horses who EASILY top my list of the most well schooled horses I've had the pleasure of riding. That would be Megan's grand prix horse Rico, and Dan's prelim stallion Lion.

Phew. Even just writing it out feels like a LOT of horses, a LOT of barns, and a LOT of trainers. And just... wow so many lessons. Which is odd bc I really simultaneously feel like I've barely been riding. Funny how that works.

We'll see how this weekend shakes out but it already feels like it's going to be another one full of even more new horses. Maybe. We'll see. Whatever the case I'm seriously looking forward to the day when I can just go back to a more normal riding routine!

Hope you all have a great weekend too - filled with lots of fun horsey things!

39 comments:

  1. Can I have a cheat sheet for the quiz???

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    1. Haha perhaps I should prepare laminated flash cards?!? ;)

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  2. No wonder you are exhausted from all the hustling!

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    1. Yea seriously. It kinda feels like each ride requires so much - gotta confirm this and make surnethentimig is right for that.... It's fun tho

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  3. Wow, that's a lot of horses and a lot of barns and a lot of trainers. I can barely get one! All that riding of different horses is going to make you one heck of a rider.

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    1. Haha that's what I keep hoping! It hasn't proved to be a magic bullet yet - I still have a lot of the same problems as I did in June lol. But it's been a positive experience all the same

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  4. I think it's awesome you take advantage of all the opportunities and aren't tied to one trainer. Some can be... Sensitive to their students riding with others.

    The SC books bugged me when the ashes would switch around. I was like, but so and so had a birthday in book 8, now it's book 20, she's not x anymore! Der. But of well it was reading and about horses, so that was good enough for me.

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    1. Lol agreed about the SC ages, tho I was perhaps ok with the fact that it wasn't truly a continuum. And re: trainers who are territorial, that really doesn't work for me and I am as up front as possible about the fact that I play the field a little bit. Often I will talk with one about what I learned or have been working on with another - esp if it ties in well with what they are saying. One earlier trainer (who has since been dropped) would always try to say that those other trainers were wrong or that their wording was bad or whatever... Turns out she got the axe and not them lol

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  5. Honestly, I commend you for being so proactive in hustling so many rides in so many places. Good for you to continue to improve yourself and your riding. (I tend to get a little pouty and don't want to play anymore when things don't go my way.)

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    1. Oh man I hear ya. And I promise that I get pouty too. Really truly. Bc it kinda sucks when things just don't work out. In a way I'm lucky that we already had all these processes for hauling out, and that I had friends like Brita who rely on my for a ride. So I still want to get her to her lesson, and then in the meantime might as well figure out something for me to ride too.

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  6. Variety is the spice of life. On the up side, you're getting riding in, and trying new horses. :) September is super busy for me -- dressage schooling show this Saturday, trail ride on Sunday, HCIB hunter pace next Sunday, jumping clinic the weekend after that and then BOOM it's October. My xc stuff is almost a rideable loop now -- been working on it despite the unrelenting heat -- and it includes an Actual Ditch and an Actual Bank. Still very "pine log" themed, though. (Pix: http://whichchick.tumblr.com/post/149287683892/so-xc-fences-i-need-a-non-swear-y-post-that-is )

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    1. Wow sounds like you've been busy - lots of exciting stuff coming up! That's awesome about the jumps too, sounds like a lot of work but totally worth it!

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    2. so i just clicked through the whole course - it's awesome! that ditch is fantastic too. sure it's a little bigger than you need but frankly a bigger ditch isn't really any harder for the horse, just a little lookier or scarier maybe. you'll never regret having a big one to get really comfortable with. also sweet bank too! so glad it's all come together so nicely!

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  7. Ive talked about this topic before!! the more the merrier as long as they arent confusing YOU or contradicting your own progress.

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  8. i really like the little circular pictures of the horses. very saddle club. curious to see where you end up/what you end up doing.

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    1. lol i'm glad you like them - after getting through the first two or three i was beginning to question my life choices in spending time on them lol.... and yea i'm honestly curious about how things will go too. for the first time in years, i really don't have a clear sense of what my riding life will look like even three months from now (esp as i don't expect to be able to maintain energy for what's gone into this level of lessoning over the past two months)

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  9. I don't know how you keep track of all this. Yikes. Hope you find something more stable (ha!) soon.

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    1. lol i see what you did there ;)

      seriously tho, all the trainers and barns aren't particularly hard to manage when you're just riding the one horse with all of them. the issue now is that it's all different horses who all live at different farms...

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  10. I am not proud, but I had to re-read that a few times to actually *get* it.

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    1. ha in all honesty it took me a long time to write this just bc i had a hard time figuring out how to organize the horses and barns and trainers such that it made sense....

      maybe what i really need to do is come up with some what to code each post, maybe a color or avatar or something, with some sort of key so that each post can easily be identified as "oh ok emma's riding with dressage trainer C at TM today!" or "oh this one is with Dan, but at some other different farm altogether for xc schooling!" lol

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  11. PLz buy all the horses you see this weekend thx. Or don't and then I can continue shopping for me...I mean you.

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    1. hahaha wouldn't that be nice. i wanna buy all the horses always. or maybe none of them. idk. horses are hard yo

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  12. Love this post, especially how easily you broke everything down (even though I am actually reading and paying attention ;) )

    You've certainly done quite a lot to hustle up the rides, I don't think you give yourself nearly enough credit. The whole rigamaroll is exhausting!

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    1. thanks! it really is exhausting. i really am tired. i want to ride but like... ugh i don't even feel like going into the effort of figuring out who can schedule me in a lesson, when and at which barn, and what horses are available (that i might be reasonably interested in riding....). definitely more work than just showing up to my own barn saddling up my own horse and heading out for a hack...

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  13. I have not been reading or paying attention and HAVE found myself confused, so this post is perfect. Plus, your little cameos of horse faces are the. best. I am excited to see you guys moving forward!

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    1. ha awesome this was helpful! i feel like blog time is so disconnected from real time that something that might feel like hold hat, business as usual to me in my day to day life might still come off as a surprise or abrupt change in a blog post.

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  14. Do we get to bring a notecard with us to the test? CAUSE IM GONNA NEED IT.

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  15. Thank you for this post!! As a new reader, I sometimes got confused with things.

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    1. ha you're definitely not alone! things are (obvi) a little crazy right now but hopefully they'll settle down soon enough. at which point maybe i'll do a few more big recaps just to tie it all up with a little bow lol

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  16. This is great. I miss riding lots of different horses. I've really gotten stuck in a groove with the mule.

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    1. i'd hardly say you guys are 'stuck' ;P you and Nilla are definitely in a good groove right now tho. riding different horses has a lot of advantages, it's just a slightly different feeling than working with that one creature towards any one goal, like completing at Camelot feeling like a winning team.

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  17. I'M exhausted reading this! Hoping you settle down soon and riding becomes less of a huge event and more a normal, easy, everyday thing again!

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  18. It all makes sense now! I am so jealous of your truck/trailer... not having those things is seriously annoying me lately!

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  19. Dude even with the sweet layout and explanations I'm lost among horses and trainers hahaha. Lion is my fav though I think. Besides Krimpet and her cute name

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  20. Such adventuring - much impressed from lazy me!
    I truly admire your determination and am in awe of the availability of adult lesson in options there are around you. Luxy sux on that front, as an adult I'd most likely have to border hop to Belgium, France or Germany for adult lesson in options without my own horse(s) here. Admittedly I am spoiled by where I board my horses having 3 in house trainers based here 😶

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  21. YES to the saddle club reference!! I jealous you have so many different riding options, I really need to get on more horses again (but then again, some weeks I can barely make time to ride my own). Appreciate the breakdown of characters, but much like a GOT breakdown I think I'm a little more confused now. ;-)

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  22. My favorite barns are ST and Austen's because OMG GORGEOUS

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