Tuesday, March 2, 2021

dream farm tour

On a cold snowy Sunday a couple weeks ago, we took a little excursion from our charmingly rustic home barn to go to a dressage clinic nearby. I was just chauffeur for the day so was basically only there to make sure everything was in working order for the truck and trailer.

always a relief when the truck starts up no problem in wintertime!
Which, thankfully, everything was. It occurred to me that I've had this Chevy for nearly 7 years now, and it was already old and high mileage when I bought it... Somehow, some way, it manages to keep on truckin, tho! 

this simple rig has been an absolute game changer for me
Like, sure, I've done some minor (and not-so-minor) repairs over the years. And every time I take it in for more work, I remind my mechanics that this vehicle absolutely has an expiration date -- that it must be, above all else, reliable and safe. At some point we'll have to decide if it's still worth maintaining, vs buying something newer.  

transporting us to new and different locations since 2014!! look at that gorgeous valley view!!
But.... So far, the mechanics all assure me they understand and agree -- while kinda shrugging like, "We're just not there yet." It's doubtful the truck will go another 7 years (and I'm already low-key succession planning)... But, for now, it's running reasonably well for our purposes! Whew!

um, is this not the absolute most charming little barn you've ever seen??
Which, obviously, includes tons of fun day trips to all the lovely horse facilities Maryland has to offer. Like this particular visit to an as-yet-unnamed brand spanking new farm! Which.... omg, my immediate reaction upon first arriving was, "I wonder how much they charge for board??"

oooh, and here's its big sister -- the newly constructed main barn with attached indoor arena!
Bc guys -- this place is stunning! And is completely decked out with all the amenities. 

so brand new there aren't even horses living in here yet
Plus, it already promises to be a new up-and-coming local venue --- as demonstrated by this particular weekend hosting grand prix dressage rider and clinician Jess Fay (formerly of Hilltop -- who you may remember from some of Charlie's past lessons!). 

gotta admit, i'd love some indoor wash stall access again LOL
Everything is brand new and absolutely unsparing in attention to detail and comfort. It's spacious, bright, and somehow very warm feeling despite the blustery weather --- maybe bc of all that wood paneling? 

peepin around all the various doors and unfinished lounges and tack rooms and two indoor restrooms!
The riding facilities themselves were among the nicest I've seen around too. The fanciest indoors I've seen in Maryland have generally been at dressage barns -- and are often on the narrow side for setting full jump courses (with the exception of Austen's barn and its generous proportions).

direct access to the enormous indoor arena
Not so at this farm tho --- the indoor is straight up sprawling, and accessible from within the barn and from the driveway. Plus it's lined with giant windows that appear to roll up like garage doors. 

just look at this bright beautiful space --- with all those retractable windows! Punky looks quite at home, no?
The outdoor arena was still snow-covered during our visit so we didn't go down into it, but it's enormous too - featuring extensive lighting units that look plenty capable of fun 'under the lights' type events haha.

omg and a heated viewing lounge -- comes preinstalled with barn rats lol
And supposedly there's a third ring too -- a smaller grass dressage ring originally intended for warm up space but grew into its own fully fledged court. It's apparently referred to as the "Mint Julep" ring, how cute right?

looking from one lounge across to another lounge -- that also overlooks the outdoor arena on the far side
Really, tho, I haven't seen facilities like this since I lived in Rochester. Giant indoors with heated viewing lounges are common in areas with predictably intense winters vs more mild states, like most of Maryland. Tho again, fancy dressage barns are the exception, at least locally.

looking back on the lounge from inside the arena
So obviously now I'm imagining what it would be like to board at a place like this --- gorgeous new stalls! Incredible footing and large scale arenas, indoor and outdoor!! Indoor wash stalls AND bathrooms!! Imagine the possibilities! lol...

just a quick peek at that outdoor ring --- look at the lights!!! 
The pastures and paddocks, from what we could surmise while pulling up the winding driveway, looked pretty nice too - and extensive. 

everything is just so picturesque 
AND -- there's already a couple horses living onsite. Tho they're mainly in the older refurbished small barn while the main barn gets finished. 

so far the little barn is where any horses are currently living
It's interesting to me, bc this farm has so many of the attributes I personally value as a rider. But.... On the flip side, it's missing some key pieces from Charlie's current home. 

For instance: there's apparently no accessible hacking whatsoever beyond strolling the fence lines. And, obviously we have full xc courses at home right now -- not exactly a common amenity. 

our intrepid visitor horses got to hang out in the stalls while waiting their turn to ride
There's more, tho. All the amenities I love so much are mostly for my own comfort, and only really impact a couple hours of Charlie's life in any given day or week (like the riding spaces or wash stalls). Meanwhile, I still remember all-too-well how unhappy Charlie was at the first barn I kept him (through no fault of anybody there!!).

i think Royal wanted to stay forever tho!!
Comparatively, at Charlie's farm now he seems so happy in his stall and with his herd -- two key aspects constituting the lion's share of his daily existence. Charlie is relaxed, consistently in good weight and condition, not weaving in his stall, secure in his herd hierarchy, and generally more pleasant and easy to handle than he ever was at the last place (where they literally had stall signs warning of his aggressive behavior....).

It's interesting thinking more deeply about my needs vs Charlie's needs, the relative importance of various amenities, and the risk of upsetting a happy horse. Bc honestly....there aren't really any right or wrong answers, ya know? There's pros and cons and unintended consequences to every choice we make for the horses. 

So... Lol, I'm keeping my options open haha. For instance, as you all know, 'mentorship' has felt like a missing piece in my current barn lifestyle. Would that be worth moving somewhere new? Maybe, who knows! What would it take to make you move barns?


  1. Lol, you'd have to pry my cold dead body out of my current barn. I left once and it was terrible. The horses love it, there's a million miles of galloping out the back, my dogs are allowed, I'm able to go when my schedule fits, and the only limiting factor to riding is literally my own will to tramp out in the mud. I do pay out the nose for this unicorn, though.

    1. for real tho, when you find a unicorn that can work within your lifestyle -- it's worth hanging on to!!

  2. Holy crap, where is this magical place?? Although I feel like the cost of board would make me faint LOL

    1. it's in hydes!!!! isn't it so beautiful?? i actually didn't get a straight answer on board since there are still just so many unknowns re: operating costs. but the guestimated answer was not nearly as far out as i expected!

  3. This farm looks absolutely gorgeous! I'd be seriously tempted in your shoes too. It never hurts to explore options, even if it's just for fun :)

    I was a working student in college at the most stunning barn that I could never again afford without working off board. Goose was THE MOST MISERABLE he'd ever been and I had people trying to convince me to sell him he was so unmanageable. I think about this constantly - what do I need vs. what works for him, because right now we have very few amenities but he's the actual happiest he's ever been.

    1. oh man, yea i really feel ya on that situation with Goose being so unhappy at what seemed like an objectively nice farm. that was sorta the same situation i had with charlie at his first boarding barn. it's impossible to know if his snarkiness was more related to being fresh off the track, sore, and in a new and unfamiliar setting... but for whatever reason he just did not thrive there even tho it was a very nice farm run by excellent horse people, whereas he is like a whole different animal at his farm now. who knows!

  4. Replies
    1. sooo pretty! i do love an old rustic farm too, but there's something to be said for all that fresh fanciness!!!

  5. I keep my horses at home now and don't know that I could ever go back to boarding. I have literally zero amenities (we're still in the process of installing our arena and tack room/stalls), but my horses get to live out 24/7 with shelter, in their little happy herd, and I can be as crazy or as simple as I want with their feed without anyone being annoyed at my high maintenance needs lol. I did however board my main horse for 2 months this winter at a facility that had an indoor arena (I live in Central Missouri) and this felt like the best of both worlds. I got to ride and lesson regularly during the worst months of the year, but the high cost of board was short lived, so more easily manageable financially.

    1. ha honestly it does sound really nice to have the horses at home, with total control over all the little details and the ability manage them to your heart's content! i've always been involved at boarding and lesson barns so that type of environment is very tied into my horse habit, but who knows, maybe one day i'll go the home farmette route too?

  6. That place is stunning. I can see why you’re tempted

    1. right??? maybe i'll feel differently in better weather but this winter, that indoor looks divine!

  7. You gotta love those war horse vehicles that keep doing what you want them to do!

    Also can I move into that barn? Like not Dante but just me? lol

  8. Even though I live in California and love riding outside, I still covet that indoor!


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