Guess who’s getting her very own arena…

Today I went to the barn and brainstormed with another boarder about how to get an arena without spending a fortune and losing all the space for trailer parking. My boarder friend came up with a great idea. We’re going to use the existing panels that make up the round pen, add a couple panels and arrange them in a rectangle. Voila! Instant arena!

The footing isn’t perfectly level, but since my barn owner isn’t having to spend money on fencing, he’s willing to work on leveling out the ground and maybe even putting in some sand.

There’s just one little detail. It’s will be the size of a DRESSAGE arena not a jumping arena. So guess who’s switching disciplines? That’s right! I am. The arena will be the size of a regulation dressage arena so I can ride tests in it and be practicing in the same size arena I would compete in. I’m honestly more interested in flat work than jumping anyway. The way I see it, I can show in dressage and hunter shows. In the hunter shows, I’ll just do the flat classes. My husband is thrilled about this change because he thinks jumping is more dangerous and he’s probably right. I can’t wait to order my dressage letters to put up around the fence!!!

I am very, very happy with this little development. I can FINALLY take lessons at my own barn. No trailering, no 4 hours away from my baby for a one hour lesson, no hassle! I just tack up, go to my lovely new arena and take a lesson! Yippee!!!

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I have options.

It rained this weekend so instead of riding I used the time to go check out a couple barns near my house. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m either getting an arena at my barn or I’m moving. Getting an arena at my barn will be a challenge. My barn owner has said he will consider it, but he is ever so slow to get anything done and it could be months before he begins building it. I checked out a couple other options close enough to my house that I won’t have to spend too much time commuting or too much money on gas.

The first barn is an eight stall barn on 15 acres. The barn itself is nicer than my current barn- concrete floors and much cleaner. The stalls are typical 12 x 12’s. There is a concrete wash rack and a round pen, but best of all, there is an arena! It’s not huge and it’s grass, but it will work! The owner said everyone at the barn trail rides and I would be the only person with any interest in the arena, which means I would have it all to myself. This barn is more expensive than what I pay now though, and I have to figure out if I can afford lessons on top of increased board.

The second barn is also 8 stalls, but it’s set on 300 acres (so it’s huge!). This barn is also nice, but the real selling point is the arena. It’s a large sand arena with jumps already set up. The icing on the cake is that there is also a dressage arena. I don’t know the cost of this barn yet. I’m waiting for the owner to call me back. There was no one around when I went to check it out.

So the good news is I have options. I just have to figure out what I can afford and how to balance the cost of board and lessons. I am tired of having this dilemma. I’m ready to get on with training my horse. Time’s a wastin’!

Finally got to take a lesson!

I love taking riding lessons, I really do, but I also find it a bit discouraging because success and progress are so slow in coming it seems. I had a one hour lesson on Sunday afternoon and by the time I trailered and loaded and rode and cooled down and trailered and unloaded, four hours had gone by. I have 2 children under two years old so 4 hours is a looooooooooooooong time in my world. That’s four hours away from my baby and four hours I’m paying for a sitter. It’s such a freakin’ production to go take a lesson that I’m exhausted by the time it’s all over. This just reaffirms for me that I NEED an arena at my barn because trailering off is not a viable long term option. I can’t afford to pay a babysitter and rent the trailer and pay for the lesson. It’s just too much. So I am back to the same old dilemma. I’m either getting an arena or I’m moving.

It had been almost a year since I had ridden in a lesson with my trainer. During that time I’ve been working on my own, mostly on trot transitions, some trail riding, and just hacking around. I think I’ve gotten a little better, but Baron probably isn’t very much more polished as a potential show horse. Mary said Baron looked fantastic. He has put on about 50 lbs and he’s starting to muscle up. But she said he is not ready for the show ring. He still tosses his head around if he gets irritated by the contact and I’m not able to control his speed as well as I need to be. He speeds up and slows down instead of maintaining a steady pace all the way around the arena.

During the lesson we worked on trot transitions and maintaining contact. I worked on keeping my hands still and waiting for him to realize that when he dropped his head the tension would lessen. We also worked on using the outside rein to control his speed. Mary was very happy with him overall and said he has loads of potential but needs fine tuning, especially about maintaining contact and speed.

Mary did tell me she doesn’t think we’re ready for the show this weekend. We are both rough around the edges and she would rather us wait until we can really shine. I agree with her. I want to win. Why spend all that time and money to lose? So I’m holding off on showing until she thinks we’re ready.

I am excited because Baron has so much potential, but I’m discouraged at the same time because turning him into a show horse takes a lot of time and money and I am short on both these days. If I could get an arena built at my barn, that would solve a lot of my problems so I’m going to keep pursuing that with my barn owner. In the meantime I guess I’ll keep trailering off for lessons and keep chipping away at my dream. Hard work pays off and I’m willing to put the time and effort in to reach my goal. I keep imagining how good it’s going to feel when I actually WIN a ribbon!!!

Horse Show 1 Week from Today!

I’ve decided to do a hunter schooling show at my trainer’s barn next Saturday. I’m only entering 3 flat classes- equitation, pleasure and under saddle. There is a crossrails class I could enter, but I don’t think we’re ready. We have never jumped crossrails in a proper arena. I am taking a lesson tomorrow with my trainer so I’ll see what she thinks. If she says we’re ready then I will enter the crossrail class as well.

 Oh, and did I mention my trainer is judging the show? She suggested that we enter and the fact that she thinks we’re ready to show makes me think we are.

In other news, I had an amazing trail ride on Baron last Sunday. We went with another boarder at my barn and her Tennessee Walker through the woods all the way down to a lake nearby. Baron was a champ. There were multiple opportunities to spook and he was such a quiet boy the whole time. We got to canter on the wide parts of the trail and through some open fields. It was so exhilirating! Baron loved being able to let loose and canter. He whinnied and pricked his ears and I could tell he was really enjoying himself. We went farther away from the barn than we ever had. When we ride alone he doesn’t like to get too far from the barn, but I think having a friend gave him confidence.

Fall is my favorite time of year to ride. We finally get some relief from the ridiculous heat in Georgia and the leaves are starting to turn. It’s such a pretty, pleasant time to ride.

How to Build an Arena

If you read my blog regularly, you know that my barn has no arena (only trails and a small pasture) so I have to trailer off to take lessons. I’ve considered moving my horse, but where he is now is only 2 minutes from my house and I love having him so close.  I may have found a solution to my problem.  I talked my barn owner into sectioning off a portion of the small pasture to use as an arena.

We have a large round pen which is put together with sectional pieces. I’m thinking we can separate the round pen so that it’s not a circle, it’s a long line of fence panels. Then we can use the long line of fence panels with the existing fence to create a large riding area. It won’t be a perfect arena shape but it will do. There is a bunch of miscellaneous junk in the pasture that will have to be moved, but that is not a big deal. A small price to pay for an arena!

I did some research online about how to build a proper arena. It is a little more complicated than I thought. Here is a good article I found on how to go about building one.  http://www.horsetalk.co.nz/features/arenabuilding.shtml You can’t just level out the ground and dump some sand down. You have to worry about drainage. Some other boarders and I talked about plowing the ground up and then dumping sand on top, but now I’m thinking that’s not such a good idea. It may turn into a giant mud puddle without a layer of gravel underneath the sand to help with drainage.

So for now there will be no sand, just a grass arena, but for me this is awesome. I can set up small jumps and crossrails and I can take a lesson at my barn without trailering!!!

I’m baaaaaaaack.

Baron getting a bath.

Europe was freaking amazing even though I did not do any horse related activities. I did do a lot of drinking and dancing. Now I’m back to the real world of work, babies and barn chores.

Here’s what’s new: Baron has another small patch of rain rot. Gross. He lost a little hair but it’s already started to grow back. Other than that he is in fine shape. I had him adjusted by the horse chiropractor again so he should be feeling fit as a fiddle. I haven’t had time to ride since I got back from Europe but I’m hoping to get a ride in over the long weekend. It is so hard to find time to ride with two little kids.

I never heard back from the other barn about using Baron as a lesson horse in exchange for board, so for the time being I’m staying put. I do love having him 2 minutes from my house. If he were any further away I would hardly ever get to see him because I’m so swamped with my kids.

I’ll write more after I ride this weekend. I hope everyone enjoys their holiday weekend!