In other words, a barn tour.
Simon has been a California resident for almost a month now. I’ve spent months worrying about how he would do here with the drastic life change, and he’s surpassed my expectations like he usually does!
After searching several barns, I ended up at a workmanlike hunter/jumper facility that mostly shows on the local level. Though not fancy and over the top, it runs like a well oiled machine. There is a head trainer (more on my first lesson in another post), assistant trainer, groom on working days (Tues- Sunday) and of course someone to feed/muck. I liked the vibe and the facilities, so I quickly secured him a spot in the “old barn.”
His stall is a decent size, want to say it’s 12’x12′, and he has a small run alongside of it. In a perfect world, I’d love for that run to be bigger but it’s enough space to at least let him walk around. I won’t lie, it still kills me that he doesn’t get turned out daily and can no longer “self lunge” as my old trainer used to call it. But this is how things are in California, and having him here means having him in a small space.
To help with this huge adjustment, I pretty much go out to the barn every day. The longer he stays here, the more comfortable I feel skipping the rare day but usually I am out to turnout, lunge, ride or some kind of combination of the three.
The barn has three turnouts, which are larger than a standard round pen but not by much. A lot of the horses there use the little space to buck, play and roll… but Simon is not really sure why I put him in a pen for an hour a few times a week. He typically strolls round, sniffs poop and ponders why there isn’t anything to eat. I’m not sure this does much for him, but I tell myself the change of scenery and opportunity to move however he wants has to be worth something.
Ring wise, there are a lot of options. There’s a round pen for lunging or turnout, but we’ve only used it once because the footing is deeper than I’d like it to be.
There’s a small ring at the top of the property that’s used for lunging and up/down lessons, and although we’ve walked around in here we haven’t ridden in it much. Usually it’s occupied, but it’s also on the smaller side and again can get a little deep in the corners.
Near the turnouts there’s a dressage ring, which is not deep but a little bit rocky. This is where I ride if the jumper ring has a lesson, and Simon seems to just frankly hate this ring. I don’t know why. He’s really sassy in here on the lunge line, and even under saddle some. I haven’t figured out the source yet, but we just keep plucking away at it.
My favorite ring is the big ring with the jumps. It gets watered frequently, has the best footing, and is super even. Simon is still a little spooky here, which honestly is a side effect of his new facility and lack of turnout — he spooks more in general. It’s not bad, but noticeable to me who usually has a 100% unflappable horse.
There are tack sheds scattered around the barn property next to different sets of crossties. When I first saw how southern Californians stored tack, I admittedly snubbed my nose at the idea of a shed versus a large tackroom in a barn. But my things fit nicely in the shed I use, and the other 3 people I share it with are neat and organized. There are crossties right next to it, so I have little to complain about.
Overall, I’m really happy with my barn choice. Some days Simon is noticeable agitated, but for the most part he’s been super calm and relaxed. The horses get great care, and the owner/head trainer is pretty anal about the treatment of her animals.
It’s a lot of stress knowing that Simon’s exercise and entertainment is completely dependent on me now, but that’s one of the responsibilities of moving him here. I’m doing my best to be a good horse owner, graduate student and writer all at once. It’s not easy, but having something to do every day that has nothing to do with writing or education has been very good for me mentally. Plus, I love that silly nerd horse!