Take another little piece of my heart

So its been a summer of big and very difficult decisions. Since spring, I have had to really reconsider my business plan and teaching lessons on my own horses and where I wanted to go with my own business. To be honest, the long term business plan has been something I have been wrestling with over the last few years. As insurance costs have climbed and with Webster getting older and the loss of Fred, I decided to stop teaching people on my own horses. It was and continues to be a heart wrenching decision. From the logical perspective, it was a no-brainer. To teach on my own horses, I have to put in a lot of work riding/training horses so they are ready to be lesson horses, it limited my time with Ries and my competitive goals, it really interfered with time with my own family, I would have needed to acquire a proper lesson pony etc., most of my lesson people were on their own horses, and so on and so forth. Logic only goes so far though.

At the same time, the few people I had that were using my horses were very sweet and its heart wrenching to tell a little girl that she can’t come ride your horses anymore. Add to it that you have several very sweet little girls who break into big happy grins when they come in contact with a horse and you can so remember that feeling yourself. Bloody heck! If I had a pile of spoiled brats that would make it easier, but no – I have a couple kids that would give up candy for life to come pet ponies. Oy!

The decision took a lot of stressful pacing to make – then announcing the decision pretty much gobbled up my stomach lining. On the bright side, I had a great farm to refer people to – so that helped. It may not be a permanent decision, but since I have my own very sweet seven year old that needs more of my time, its the decision that makes the best sense for now. However, just when I thought I had come to terms with the decision – this shows up at my house

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And there you go – pieces of my heart all over the place.


Bad tire Karma (or why, God, why??)

This has been a challenging week. I was on vacation last week (and really relaxed and didn’t obsess over the barn, etc) so there was a lot of catching up to do. The bummer of a week off is that it is unpaid vacation so you do lose a whole week of lesson income. While I am not getting rich (or even breaking the poverty line) by working with horses (hence the full time job as well), those lessons help pay for the farrier. Did I mention that Ries only stays sound when shod by the really expensive farrier? But, I digress.

Scheduling when your schedule is set by everyone else’s schedule is tricky and when you have to reschedule one thing that often leads to rescheduling another. Smart phones are helpful and harmful in this manner. It allows for greater hyper-tasking but also its a tiny little screen that I tend to read while moving. I screwed up the grocery list that my husband texted me by a lot the other day. Lesson learned since it cost me margaritas that night. I am not the only other trainer that has this problem. Once I finally got it through my thick skull that the clinic I wanted to ride in was Thursday-Saturday and not Thursday – Sunday. I was able to get in for a jumping group on Thursday (I thought).

I scrambled and got lessons moved around, squeezed a whole bunch onto Wednesday and got freed up enough to have time to clean tack, hook the trailer and head out with out running around like a chicken with my head cut off. That should have been warning enough. I had left plenty of time so that I could watch a little bit and get my son settled in and my horse warmed up. As we pulled into the barn hosting the clinic there was a loud bang and the noise of air escaping. I looked in the side view mirror and said a whole bunch of words I am not supposed to say in front of my son. Wondering exactly which words?  Ask my seven year old – he can repeat it verbatim with the disclaimer that he is not allowed to say those words. The front right side tire had a major blow out.

I had a blown trailer tire a lifetime ago heading with Fred to the Young Rider Dressage Championships (I said a lifetime ago). Fred was fine but the horse we had with us had been in a previous trailer wreck and occasionally suffered flashbacks. The thruway service botched the tire job beginning to end and the whole event would be a very long blog entry of its own.

Several years ago, I blew a front tire on the pick up. I was only a half hour from home but was also the ride for people from another barn and we just barely made it to the show on time. Of course the person who had to ride first was an under-prepared and over-dramatic individual so that added to the fun.

Last year, we blew a tire on the trailer (“brand new tires” the salesman was so pleased to tell me – mass produced POS’s was what he should have said. To date, I have had two fail on the road and one develop such a bad bulge that my husband replaced that one prior to a departure) and had to have a thruway service – fortunately faster and more competent this time – switch the tire out. These are not do-it-yourself type tires/nuts/bolts.

On the bright side, this was the first time a tire dismantled when I arrived at my destination. I limped the trailer to the parking area and went to check in. The resident trainer walked up and asked what I was doing there today. That left my jaw hanging. I grabbed my phone and checked email. While I had typed Thursday, she had sent Friday’s list and I had responded “that’s great – see you then”. Fortunately, it just ended up being that I had to do a shorter private lesson instead of the group clinic I was planning on. No problem – wasn’t like I was going anywhere anyway. Trainer very kindly got a tire service out through her subscription to a AAA type organization so that took care of that concern – minus the paying for it. She seemed rather shocked by the quote the service gave her over the phone. I was nonchalant due to my vast experience paying people to change trailer tires. For the record, while I would attempt changing a tire on my car – I am not trying it with a trailer. And with my current trailer – it ain’t happening without an impact and judging by the effort required by my husband and the last two fellows that were paid to change the tires – it barely happens with the impact gun.

As far as the lesson, it was great. I told the clinician (David O’Brien) that I was shooting for training level, but we had some adjust-ability issues with our canter and tended to leave long (my fault – I like to jump ahead when I lose the distance). So were worked with some very basic exercises – cantering pole to pole and putting in a different number of strides. It was great – a few simple tweaks and observations and we were doing much better. We progressed to some jumps and then course work and by the end I was able to float the reins to Ries before the fence and he just stayed on his hocks and soft and powered right over everything. As usual Ries got a lot of compliments on his form over fences, his incredibly quiet though not lazy demeanor, and his breeding. Last time we were there, everyone thought he was a warmblood cross. This time (the grass has been good this summer) I fielded a lot of incredulous stares when I explained that he was NOT a Quarter Horse for the third time. Its understandable. He is not the leggiest Thoroughbred on the planet, he is a very easy keeper, lots of muscle and some amazing cheekbones.

By the time the ride was done, my trailer was ready to go. I crossed myself and we headed home where we arrived considerably poorer but with four round tires – always a plus.