I really have to get better about keeping up with this thing. My last blog post was about the 2016 RRP. My horse and I went and had a blast! My family also came to support me, and for many of them it was their first time seeing me compete. Fortunately, we did very well and came in 8th in the freestyle! Wall Street Bull has his own facebook page if you want to see more about him. He was bought by a student of mine, and was very well matched with her!
I finished out the year at the barn I was leasing in Milton, Fl. It was a 7 stall barn with a large house that I shared with a roommate. My barn was full and I had a waiting list, it was time to move on. I had been contacted by Gerard Kirsch at the Pensacola Riding Center, and told that he was looking to lease half of his barn. Gerard is a very well respected dressage trainer from France, and had been at that location for over 20 years, maybe more. He was trying to sell the place to retire, but was having trouble finding a buyer, so leasing was his next best option. We got along very well, and I liked the idea of having support from another trainer, so I moved my business to Cantonment, Fl; where I had a 12 stall barn and six pastures in addition to use of 5 riding arenas, all lighted and one covered. I started the new year at this facility and almost immediately I filled up the barn. I was poised and ready!
Meanwhile, I was having a health problem that I was dealing with. My doctor didn’t really know what it was, and taking the time (and money) away from the barn to go to doctor appointments did not seem feasible at the time. I had horses to ride, a barn to manage, and lessons to teach! Anyone in this position knows how tight money can be, especially after making a move to a new barn where it takes time to figure out how to run things most efficiently, so I put my health concerns on the back burner. After all, it “only” bothered me when I rode.
Fast forward a few more months, and it started to get very painful and eventually I could not ride at all. I found a new doctor, had some tests and found out that I needed surgery. The recovery period was longer than anticipated, and very painful. I could not ride for a couple months, so I sent all the horses home. This is a pretty scary situation to be in when you make your living training horses. Fortunately I still had the apartment at the barn with Gerard, and he was very supportive. I also have amazing friends and family that really stepped up to the plate to help, and lots of people who regularly checked on me. Despite the outpouring of love, I have to admit that I got pretty depressed during this time. I have a theory that horse people and riders are prone to depression anyway, and that’s why they are drawn to horses. When you are with horses you have to be in the moment, and riding is therapeutic.
Being sidelined, I had a lot of time to reflect and to pray. Even when I had 12 horses in training, I was not really happy. I was riding everyone else’s horses and not achieving my own riding goals. I was tired all the time, had no social life, and money was always tight. Why was I doing it? This repeated over and over in my head. I always have said that if I couldn’t ride, I wouldn’t do it, and I was in a position to where I wasn’t really sure if I was ever going to be able to ride comfortably again. I prayed and prayed for God to take the love of horses and the passion for dressage out of my heart and show me another path - it was just too hard.
But it did not happen. I came back from my recovery with more clarity - I wanted to focus on bringing along quality young horses and doing sales for the business end of my career, two areas where I am passionate and have had success. But I also needed to focus on my own riding - find a talented horse to show and get a coach. The latter was going to be the hardest part for me to cultivate. For what seemed like forever (it was only a couple months) I was having door after door slammed in my face no matter which way I turned. A deal fell through on a barn I was going to buy, then I found a boarding stable where the care was not sufficient, I was just having no luck and running out of options.
It was mentioned to me during this time by a few different people that Jean Brinkman at Valhalla Farm was looking for a trainer. I never in a million years thought I would end up back there - but I contacted her and moved out there shortly after! I received such a warm welcome, not just at the barn, but also by the whole neighborhood. It has become a really neat community out here. It really felt like I was returning home, and it’s not the first time I have come back after feeling battered and bruised and been made whole again. In addition to that, it is the perfect place to work on my own riding while also having the opportunity to expand my business.
I am back working with Faithkeeper, whom I plan to get my silver on. I am also making a lot of use of the theraplate and bemer blanket, which are both used for therapy. Preston is coming back into work and feels better than ever, so I am very happy about that. Tucci is also doing super and will be showing 3rd level this winter. I will be bringing in more training horses, and I have several sale horses that I am working with and will be advertising soon. There is more in the works, but you will have to stay tuned!