Saturday, August 11, 2018

Gotham Siren takes on the 40th International

What a week the 40th International was! I was remiss in posting updates so instead I’m doing a highlights blog. And, I’m going to do it Jimmy Fallon thank you notes style. So, here goes.
Joe provides instruction to me and Quinn
Notice how he can’t help but pet her. 😘

Thank you for setting us up with Chris and his terrific camper!  Staying on the grounds, literally 50 feet from my horses, was ideal. Not to mention that having an air conditioned nap getaway, meal haven and dressing room space was a luxury. While I did lock myself out the first morning in my pajamas (no not my Victoria Secrets...whew!), I also made many new friends (especially Gordon and Lindy) in the process - who came to my rescue and made sure I had my morning latte. Having a camper is the way to go. Reservation 2019; done!

Thank you Katie, Jer and baby Gavin for keeping me company all week. Your excitement to attend your first International was contagious. Plus, I cannot thank you enough for the photo and video documentary of our week full of fun activities, horse shopping and rides. The fact that Gavin slept all night was unbelievable. What a great little travel buddy he is.... simply an angel. Now I hope you find the show horse of YOUR dreams! We certainly found you a few amazing prospects for your consideration. πŸ΄πŸ˜€♥️
My two blue ribbon girls!  Double love. ♥️♥️

Thank you my special friends Jane and Tami. Both of you are my lifeline and support as I chase my dreams. I’m not sure how I’d make all of this happen without either of you. Jane for your endless kindness and friendship, along with the reoccurring B&B stay and storage space - you’re my home and family away from home. ;)  And Tami you’re my AOT stall neighbor and show confidant - in and out of the show ring.  What amazing women and dear friends you are. 
Katie, Jerry and baby Gavin chillaxin by the stalls
and our magic 🌴 palm tree. 

Thank you
... to all the new friends I made. My show apparel sales began as a way for me to sell a few of my shirts in order to get something new. But what it has really become is an amazing way to meet so many wonder people who are on the same journey as me. I have enjoyed helping you find the perfect new outfit or complementary piece AND learning about you and your horses!  I have many new memories and Facebook friends because of this week. πŸ˜‰

Thank you
.... to the entire WHOA staff, the judges and all the generous sponsors that make the show possible. From entry booth - to ribbons and floral rings - to a magnificent winners circle, you’ve outdone yourselves once again. And, we all continue to pray for a swift recovery for Lonnie. He gave his all to judging and we wish him a quick recovery. 

Quinn in the winners circle. She went two for two with
Joe and me each riding a class. Thanks team JLS!
Thank you
.... to Marty And Jennifer Barr. You never cease to amaze me with your photo talent. You’ve captured all my babies on film - and now have brought me unbelievable photos of Quinn. There are more than a few “money shots” in the bunch. Marty I think I might agree that this just may be the best shoot yet. I will treasure them all. Having these photos of her will help keep her close to me even though I’m in Wisconsin and she’s with Joe in Tennessee. So for me they are much, much more than a picture. They are the piece of her that I have - while she’s so far away. 
Diva finally gets a blue after 7 years of trying.
Love both my blue ribbon girls this week. 

Thank you the team at Joe Lester Stables. Chris. Maggie. Ashlyn. The three of you keep everything humming like clock work. Not only did you make sure Quinn was ready for her classes but also for her practice rides and photo shoot. Including a dress change in between. I’m not sure how you do it. Being there before we all arrive, until the last class is over and we’ve all left to go to bed. You are so appreciated!

Thank you Joe Lester and Bailey Momb. You two make a terrific team and it shows in what you put in the ring. Talented horses. And, more importantly - happy horses. I can’t thank you enough for putting me with Quinn. I love everything about her. She’s just the perfect horse for me. I’m tickled pink with her two blue wins this week - including my very first victory lap aboard her!  What a thrill of a memory. Chills (and happy tears). But most of all thank you for caring for her, taking your time with her as she learns, and for the natural horsemanship you display every single day. She’s turning out wonderfully and I know it’s because of your gentle hand.  I also want to thank you for the time you take with me to get me prepared for my rides so I can show Quinn to her full potential. Hugs to both of you.  
D waaaaiting in her stall. πŸ˜‚ 

Finally, Thank you
.... to my hubby for encouraging me to follow my crazy dreams. And, for kicking me in the butt when I doubt myself. Lol. I love you to pieces. 

Quinn, Diva and Bourbon I’m so proud of all of you. And Halo we hope you will get back in the ring. 

Now....I prepare myself for the Celebration. I’m so excited. I ride for all those who never thought they could or would. Keep dreaming because we can and will.  ♦️♦️♦️🐴❤️❤️❤️

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Honors’ Lil Monster and Me

3am and I'm off to the airport for a 530 flight. By 7am I’m in Nashville and headed for Joe Lester Stables for a practice ride. Joe will show Quinn tonight, but I need the practice for tomorrow night and Joe has graciously appeased me.  Quinn is now in her new place and I’m looking forward to seeing it. I drive out 24, turn onto 231 towards Shelbyville, snake through Shelbyville and out towards his new place. It’s a pretty drive. The morning sun is rising over rolling hills of green. Before I know it I see the Christmas Creek Farms sign and pull in. 

Lil Quinn in the middle. 
When I enter the barn everyone is busy bathing, polishing, tacking and planning. Maggie, Chris and Ashlynn are on top of things. Quinn is already in the cross ties and saddled. Joe and Bailey are out back riding. I give Quinn a hello and pat, and walk through the back door to a picture perfect scene. More rolling hills and green...and an outdoor ring set with a huge shade tree. I smile and think how much Quinn will love it here as I make my way down the hill to watch horses being worked.
Practice rides. Success. 
The horses look amazing. I watch a client ride a really nice horse. Wow!  I find out afterwards that it was Kyle Bush on Slingblade when introductions are made. It’s already hot but where a few clients are standing in the shade of a trailer you can catch a nice breeze to make it bearable. Joe goes up to the barn and returns with Quinn. After he warms her up it’s my turn. I’m excited as I climb the step stool to get on her. Slowly, warns Joe....the stool is new for her. But other than flicking her ear as I step up she stands as I toss my leg over. I collect the reins and listen for Joe’s instructions. 
Ashlyn takes Quinn through DQP. 

I start by walking and in no time I’m in a flat walk and getting a feel for her. It’s quiet and relaxing out here. And maybe that had a lot to do with my focus and getting a feel for her. She’s really fun to ride. Very smooth despite that head just pounding. I stop her a few times to practice my takeoffs - I’ll need to do that upon the reverse at the show. All goes well and my confidence is up. Within 10-12 minutes we’re done. And we’re both pretty confident that I can show her the second night for the amateur 2yo class. Yeah! 

Joe and Quinn get third in a huge class.
They are second from right here.
I drive to Jane’s, spend time with her, and take a nap.  Jane and I get to the show early to watch Joe show Quinn in the very first class.  This is only Quinn’s second show ever. They win third, with the judges cards showing that 2nd and 3rd place horses were a tie broken by the call judge score. Awww so close to reserve. Great job by Joe and Quinn. On July 4th week some pretty awesome horses come out. It’s fun to watch both the warmup areas as well as the ring. Plus, socialize. (Who me?)

Day 2 included another practice ride, followed by a little shopping (of course), a nap and prepping for the show. My first ever class with Quinn would be the fifth class of the night. I got my chaps on and Jane and Carlan were there for support. Quinn was taken to DQP and to the warmup area and we followed. She really looked good as Joe warmed her up. She has this pretty step underneath herself. Then I got on her and desperately tried to maneuver her through the busy warmup. Lol. Tried is the key word. Poor Joe was probably going to have a heart attack. Lol. I’m reminded how much I hate the crazy warmup ring. Soon it’s our class and Joe guides us down to the ring, provides his sage advice, tests the ear piece one final time and we’re off. 
Quinn and me. Let’s do this!
Thanks Joe for being there for us!

She walks right into the ring like a pro. I quickly assess the ring and decide to go right in the center of the track. We had a heavy rainfall right before the show started and so the rail was full of standing water. We make our first pass in front of the first judge and make the curve on the other end. We stop there as the remaining horses enter the ring. Then that takeoff practice is put to the test. She collects and starts slow and we’re right back into the flat walk. Yeah. Good girl. Joe is in my ear. “Hold your speed there. Good. Give her a little. Bring your hands up a bit. There. Good.”  It’s constant give and take. And oops a little trip in the wet footing. We move a bit faster for the running walk and in no time we are asked to turn for the reverse. Our turn is a little clumsy but we do it. Steering it’s not yet our forte. Another loop around and as I hit the curve I decide the middle is too soft and squishy, so I head towards the rail. Oh boy that puddle is pretty big. Well, I guess we’ll see how this goes. Please don’t dump me in it Quinn. Lol. But she hits the rail and splashes right through it like a big girl. Good girl!  I actually think she liked it. One more time around and they call for the lineup. It went so fast. We did it. Our first class together is in the books. Success!  She was restless in the lineup but even with that she never made me feel uncomfortable. We placed 6th. Which was really the only disappointment. One of the three judges had placed her fourth. So, I’ll just hold onto that opinion. Lol. And Joe seemed pleased with our successful first class too. While I, of course, will revisit every step of the ride over and over for flaws. 😜
Out to dinner.  Katie is almost as tall as me now! 

I’m home now and looking back at videos of our ride. I’m pretty darn proud of her. She shook like crazy and walked a hole in the ground in that wet ring. I’m so proud of my Honors' Lil Monster. Two years old and doing it like a big girl. ♦️♦️♦️🐴♥️. Your daddy will be so proud.  I’m Harley Quinn you are going to be something really special. Thank you Joe, Bailey and the whole crew of JLS for getting us in the show ring this weekend.  And special thanks to Kyle for the gracious use of your saddle - must have good luck in it. 

Next stop is The International. Can’t wait!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Is She Ready Yet Mistah J ?

I got the call I’d been waiting for: “When can you come down to ride her?”  Having a two year old can be a practice in patience as they get broke and exposed to new things for the first time. But Quinn had turned a corner after Joe showed her for the first time at the Walking For Cancer Show.  So now he wanted to get me up on her. Yippee!

Just moments into my first ride ever on I’m Harley Quinn. 
Alas, I had business travel that delayed my trip, but I booked flights and would ride for the first time late in June. We coordinated a date that worked in conjunction with the WHOA Jamboree, so I could also see a show too. Yeah!!  

I flew down before dawn on Friday, picked up my rental car... and was at Jane’s in time to have coffee with her.  Then I logged in and worked that morning. After my final conference call I slipped on my jeans, boots and ball cap. A text came in from Joe and we set a ride time. I excitedly made my way over to Miller Coliseum after lunch.  More importantly, to where Quinn had been put up in a “pretty little stall” for the next few days. 
She loves starlight mints. Refreshing. 

It felt good to turn into Miller and drive down that familiar white fenced drive to the exhibitor area. This time for my mad new adventure with Dr Harleen Quinzel. πŸ˜‚ LOL. 

HQ was in the cross ties when I  arrived. I could see her silhouette along with the profile of Bailey with her trademark high ponytail and Joe busily saddling up Q.  I should have stopped to take that photo, but I was too excited to be moments from my very first ride on Quinn. 

Once she was saddled and ready Joe and I walked over to the warmup ring with Q trailing behind us like a good girl. She was taking it all in, fazed by nothing.  When Joe lunged her, her first few steps reminded me of the first seconds of video I ever saw of her. Oh my goodness...pure chills. Yes - squealing, gushing and joyous dancing feet were involved.  (Who me?) You can add tears of joy to that list, when Joe started to ride her. 

To say I’m overjoyed would be an understatement. She’s so talented and seems to really like to do what she’s been bred to do. Joe is doing a great job. Art in motion. There is not one thing I don’t like about this filly. And there’s so much more to come. It’s real mad love.❤️ ♦️♦️♦️🐴
Waiting for our first ride.

And then... it was my turn to ride. I think I floated up onto that saddle. Joe held her while she stood nicely for me to hoist up there. Then I took the reins and began to walk with her. Well, with that much motion I’m not sure exactly what you call it (or if it’s — I was in perpetual motion as she moved below me. I concentrated on finding rhythm with her.  I circled around Joe as he talked me through the particulars and I giggled at how she felt. Familiar, yet distinctly (or should I say -quintessentially) Quinn. Push, pull, shake,  stride.  Mad love. 

Once I gained my confidence walking with her, I nudged her into a flat walk. I focused on timing myself with her and keeping balance.  I forgot how skinny 2 year olds can be. I think my knees touched as I squeezed but I still felt no horse. Lol. She stepped up and I was transported to the Quinn zone. She’s air in my hands. She’s surprisingly strong from behind for a 2yo. And that head shake. Yeah boy. 

The next 10 minutes were magic. I think both Joe and I breathed sighs of relief as we wrapped up my “inaugural Quinn practice ride.”  We did it.  She suits me.  Here’s to the next chapter with a crazy new team — Mistah J, Q and me. You never know how you’ll get along with a new horse. Or a new trainer. But this start was about as perfect as can be. 

And “Yes Joe” - she was MORE than worth the wait! 😘
Joe making it look incredibly easy. 

I rode a second time the next morning. Another great experience. This time I took her out on the rail and pushed her up to to see what she felt like. I was brutally reminded of how easy the pros make it look and at how much it really takes to ride the young horses that are still learning. And, as Joe advised, she still doesn’t completely understand what we’re doing here yet.  I struggled a bit to keep her going and direct her but the lessons learned will refocus me on my balance, use of my legs and importance of my hands. Things I will practice on my horses back home to prepare myself even more. But all in all it was another success. Personally, as well as with Joe and Quinn. We’ll get there. And, when we do, it’s going to be sooooooooo amazing. 
Quinn in her pretty little stall. 

The rest of the weekend was spent meeting the Joe Lester Stables crew and clients, catching up with many friends, contemplations over dinners, helping Tammy show and watching some awesome horses in the ring. There are some pretty spectacular new junior horses coming up. Which is so exciting to see.  The pleasure trainers are totally letting us have it this year!!! In a most excellent way. 

I also spent as much time as possible with Quinn. She is super sweet. Immensely smart. She does not like apples. She loves starlight mints (insert mad flailing here). And she will do just about anything for a good neck, ears and withers scratching!  Hint hint. 

Our next stop will be the July 4th week. Joe will show her....and potentially it could be my first show on her. But ...we’ll see. Only if the practice ride that week goes well. (Fingers crossed). 

Sweet dreams Miss Quinn. Believe “the voices” that keep telling you how utterly special you are.  ♦️♦️♦️❤️🐴

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Mad Love for Harley Quinn

Over the past three months I’m Harley♦️Quinn or Quinn as we call her now around the barn, has been learning the ropes. Her prior experience was assessed at about.....umm, zero. So, Joe and Bailey have been working hard to simply get her broke.  Broke to stand to mount. Broke to the bit. Broke so she stops. LOL. And, so forth. Yep, the basics. But, she wasn’t even officially two those first 90 days - her birthday was April 15. What can you expect?  I kinda laughed, ‘cuz the updates and reports always included emojis of a hand slapping forehead 🀦‍♂️ or laugh/cryingπŸ˜‚ etc. 😜 hmmmmm. Well, she’s not even two yet. 🀷‍♀️  Lets take our time with her. So, slow progress was the goal.

Visiting with HQ. Mad Love!
I visited her in Feb and then again early April to see her progress. In Feb she was still figuring it out. However in April she seemed to be getting ahead. Joe mentioned that she really was starting to hit a nice gait the past two weeks. You could see a huge leap forward. It was really exciting to see her understand things. She was still unpredictable and learning, but the riding part was certainly progressing tremendously. Now that long stride seemed more purposeful. Me. I was simply tickled pink. Joe was thinking he may take her to a show soon if she kept advancing, he thought it might also help her get more broke.

On Friday I got a text. “We might take HQ to the walking for cancer show tomorrow, they have a 2yo class.”  But it was a big IF. They would ride her Saturday morning and decide and let me know. Late Saturday afternoon, as I was walking around the Midwest Horse fair in Wisconsin, I get a photo on my phone. It’s a picture of Quinn in the horse trailer on her way to the show. She looked like a big girl. All grown up. My little baby girl going to her very first show.  I had a small moment. Then my stomach started to hurt and my nerves began working over time. Omg. Her very first show. Her very first class. Her very first time. And I wouldn’t be there. πŸ˜”

HQ going to the show.
 The show started at five. I found out that they would be streaming the show live on reporTV.  It was after 4pm and I was still at the Midwest Horse fair with Lisa, Morgan and friends watching a demo. If I left by five I would be able watch her. Obviously I wasn’t going to miss this....and by 5pm I was in my car heading back home. It would take an hour to get home, but she was in class ten so that would be about 7 pm or so. I’d make it.

When I arrived home Scott was waiting. He had gone that morning to pick up our new car. And it was parked out in the driveway for me to see.  Of course we checked it out and I got the full tour. And then we went inside to logon to watch Quinn’s class. When I logged on, class nine was just starting so our timing was perfect. Scott got out his phone to tape the class. Then they announced Quinn’s class and opened the gate. Four 2 year olds would make the gate call. Joe riding Quinn entered last and the gate closed behind her. It was the honorable Sam Sorrell who would judge the class.

I was so proud. She came into the ring like a good girl, ears forward and alert. She looked great. Moving forward, striding unbelievably and that head nod. Up and down. Up and down. Oh. My my my. She looked really good out there! With two year olds, you never know what you’re gonna get. But she looked like she was having a great time out there.

They went flat walk and running walk. And then they reversed to go the other way. The reporTV video man did a great job showing each horse on the internet stream and included nice close up shots of each horse too. It was so cool to be able to watch her real-time during the class even though we weren’t there in person. Each time Joe and Quinn were on the screen they looked great. Nice clean passes. She was so upright and striding. I just squealed with happiness and pride. And Scott just kept saying how great she looked. We were both thrilled. When they called for the lineup I think we both breathed again for the first time that whole class. I said I think she looked great and Scott said, umm yeah!  And we laughed.

Baby girl’s first show. And it’s a blue debut. 

Then the announcer came back on and called number 315 for the win. That’s Quinn’s number!  Joe pulled out of the lineup and rode around to the winners circle. I screamed and cheered and couldn’t believe it. Scott grinned from ear to ear. We jumped up and down. Then we watched as Joe and Quinn made their very first victory lap.  She owned that ring like a boss!  Lol.

We got text messages and videos from Joe, Bailey, Julie and a number of friends. We were all on cloud nine.
Scott and I replayed the class and talked about Quinn. Mad love for Harley Quinn. She certainly is something special.  ♦️♦️♦️♥️♥️♥️♦️♦️♦️

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Adventures of Harley Quinn Begin.

2018 begins an exciting new adventure.

My Christmas present from Scott was to select a new show horse. I’ve been searching off and on for almost a year. But, I think I wasn’t ready. My hope was cemented with Halo - my perfect dream horse. And while we’ve overcome many set backs with injuries I feared undoing the progress made by putting him back into the pressures of a high performance scenario. So, I refreshed my search for a new Tennessee circuit horse. 

I put my mind to it and got busy doing many things to accomplish my goal. I followed up on videos of horses posted on Facebook that caught my eye. I made many calls and PMs to let people know I was seriously shopping and to let them know my preferences. I kept updated on the progress of a coming 2 year old and kept tabs on a promising 3 year old that might be for sale. I made a trip here and there to see and ride a few prospects. It all can be fun and exciting, like a treasure hunt, but also daunting and stressful.  I had to be focused on what I wanted. Specifically. One’s too old. One’s not moving like the dream horse in my mind. Another sells before I can jump on it. Prices vary so much and some are crazy high. What to do? What to do?  Waiting. A lot of waiting. Hoping it’ll happen. 

But, I think you just know - in the moment. 
The new team.

It was a Friday night. We were at home watching a movie. And my phone buzzed. I ignored it. But it buzzes it’s persistent second warning and I figure a peek wouldn’t disrupt my movie focus. I reach for my phone and turn it over to look. It was a text and I could see a video was attached. I opened the text and played the clip. Seven seconds. I clicked replay. Hmmmm! I hand the phone to Scott and say, “you may like to see this one.”  He takes the phone, plays the entire seven seconds, hands my phone back to me and says, “buy.”  Simple. Just like that. We both knew. I text back - “call me, let’s make a deal.” The phone rang two seconds later and literally I owned the horse five minutes after that. Well, pending vet checks and paperwork. Before the movie concluded I had booked a flight and texted Jane to see if I could stay with her .....plans were set to see this new filly in person.

Hours later - my bags packed, I head for the airport. I’m so happy that Southwest has a direct flight now (right Cathy?), one hour and fifteen minutes after wheels-up in Milwaukee, we land in Nashville. Love it!  In fact, I can fly down in the morning and fly back late that night if I want. But I have three days here this trip. Time to see her, get a vet check and make the final call. 

Quinn on the cross ties.
I meet up with Carlan for breakfast on the square. At this point, neither Jane nor Carlan know I have a very specific horse to see on this trip. In fact, I have a few additional appointments set up to see some really good potential babies. Scott thinks I should get two anyways. I’m like, huh?  Okay!  Lol. So I’m keeping options open, and my excitement in check. Seven seconds of video could be misleading. I’m hoping not for now, I hold tight to my secret hope. After breakfast and a little shopping at Bedford Tack, we turn up the long gravel drive to my purposeful destination. As I drive along the stable, heart beating and pulse going crazy, I can see someone pull a horse off a trailer and walk into the barn. I wonder if that’s her, as she was being delivered here today. I park and turn to Carlan and say - “well hurry up, let’s go see my new Filly!”  She looks at me a little confused and then I see the realization come across her face as she smiles her excitement back at me. And we laugh and jump out of the car - now both of us with renewed purpose. 

As we enter the barn, Joe greets me with a grin and points to her in the cross-ties. “That’s her. She just arrived.”  My eyes turn to her and I take in her unexpected beauty. I literally catch my breath and squeal,”oh my, she’s so gorgeous!”  I actually had no idea what she’d look like. I had seen seven seconds of video. Maybe ten strides. I couldn’t tell if she had markings or her real color. So this was an unexpected and very pleasant surprise. She was perfect. Absolutely perfect!  Well, except for that crazy pawing and wide eyed look on her face. Lol. Poor thing. Welcome girl to a new adventure. 
Joe takes HQ for a first ride. 

Joe was already busy saddling her up and we ventured out to his round pen. Probably ten minutes after we both arrived he was in the saddle and showing us her unbelievable potential. Carlan said wow, she’s nice. I agreed. Yes. Yes. Yes. Green as ever and only about 20 months old, but everything she didn’t even know she was doing was wonderful. Well, except for the head tossing and wide eyed look on her face. Lol. Motion like crazy. Stride for miles. Reach in front. Upright in the chest. Everything in those seven seconds of video, was all here in front of me again. Yes. She’s perfect. 

A call to Dr Baum and a vet-check appointment was made. He even mentioned how pretty she was when he arrived. It does catch you by surprise. She’s a striking red head.  She has “It” factor.  She must get it from her daddy. Her daddy is none other than WGC Honors! And her mama is Ms Keeneland, another great show horse. In fact, her lineage is an amazing mashup of great show champions. This is why I keep pinching myself that this little filly happened to fall into my lap one Friday night. Thanks Joe. You outdid yourself for me. She’s beyond my dreams. Thank you. 

I was lucky to get the vet on short notice as we were dealing with the New Years holiday. He rearranged a few things so he could do X-rays and give her a full review while I was in town. He also had Joe ride her. While there were a few things Dr Baum noted in his exam, the basics all looked good. X-rays good. Check. Check. Check. 

The final details were to send in her DNA kit and the papers. Oh yeah, and write the check. A month later she was “officially” mine. 

So, welcome 2018 and to a mad new adventure. I’m super excited to present, I’m Harley Quinn. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Chip, chip hooray! My first ride!

Chips spread.
Dragging and rolling in progress. 
Many things have happened regarding the arena in the past month.  First of all the footing went in. We decided on a wood chip footing and found a source that would deliver right away. The full sized semi came up our drive and I thought it would never fit in that door. He pulled in hauling 80+ yards and backed right up to the arena door. When the driver got out to assess the height I said he may not make it. He said he would make it. I had to trust him as he climbed back in his cab and put her in reverse. I held my breath as he slowly maneuvered back, up the small incline at the doorway created by the base of stone, and inched his way back into the arena. Seriously, it was barely inches of space above his trailer to that door frame. When he jumped out and grinned at Scott and I, he said he probably wouldn't make it once the footing is in. I exhaled and took my first breath in five minutes and laughed.
The semi just squeezes in under the door frame 

The walking floor in the trailer was pretty amazing. It moved the footing out the back of the trailer into the arena. As the pile grew the driver would move the semi forward and continue to let the automatic floor push the chips out. It didn't take long and we were looking at a pile taller than we were in the middle of the arena. We thanked our talented driver John and he took off. Scott also took off, back to work. Me, I stood there, alone, and looked at the pile. Then I grabbed my wheel barrel and a fork and started spreading the pile. My progress over the next two hours was much like using a teaspoon to do a backhoe's work. And by the time Scott returned after 5pm I had maybe spread enough piles to cover 1/6th of the arena. Actually not too bad considering my manual tools. But in comparison, Scott, using the skidster, spread the rest of the footing in about two hours and about twice as thick. My job was to rake the piles to an even depth for a consistent thickness of footing that covered all the stone base.  Something I did with determination. It was grueling work, but also a labor of love. My hands were blistered, my back ached, and I think I pulled something in my arm which plagued me for about a week afterwards. But it was done by 10am the next morning so that I could begin the process of dragging and rolling the whole arena multiple times to really pack and spread and even it out more. The dragging fluffed the footing, while the rolling flattened it out. The repetition eventually made it pretty consistent across the 7200 sq feet. In the end, I knew I'd be tweaking that footing for months but I had a pretty impressive start.
This is what 80 yards of wood chips looks like.

Then I did what I've been dying to do for months and months. I rode. Diva was selected for my maiden voyage. I pulled her out of the paddock, saddled her up and made the walk across the drive from the barn to the arena. I walked her in the door and out into the middle of the wood chipped space. I placed the stool next to her, tossed her reins over her withers and climbed up the two steps and swung my leg over her back. Scott was there to watch and we smiled at each other and he said, "well, go ahead, let's see this!"  I walked her around the circumference of the ring and let her look around and get used to the place. Then I picked up the reins and off we went. She was way too excited and way too fast but she and I were riding in our very own place, for the very first time. And my heart burst with joy. This is going to be SO awesome. Scott asked me if this would work for me?  And I said Yes!!!  Of course any other answer would have been completely ridiculous.
My very first ride in the arena aboard Diva.

The electricians came back about a week later and completed the electric. There were a few minor challenges, but in the end all the lights were up and in working order. They put recessed can lighting along the front outside wall - it has a great artistic effect at night along the wall facing the house. A light under the overhang lights my area where I enter.  And, Scott had them put in electrical outlets all around the perimeter, including one at each window for me to place my window candles. All the window candles and outside lighting is wired to a photo-eye, so all the exterior lighting comes on and off automatically with the sunlight. So I won't have to worry about turning the lights on or off each day. That is a wonderful feature. One of my favorite electric features is the light switches for the arena lights that were placed in my main barn (as well as at the two doors in the arena). So I can actually turn on the lights from the barn,  saddle a horse and by the time I walk over to the arena to ride, the lights are fully on. This will be exceptionally handy in the winter when the lights may take a few minutes to warm up and go on.  Also, I can depart the arena with my horse, go back to the barn and cross tie and then turn the arena lights off from the barn without going back to the arena. A great suggestion from Scott's friend Rodney. Best idea ever!!
This will work. 

Other little things are coming together too. I put up some halter hangers, a few cross ties and placed a nice large box in one corner to store bell boot, hoof picks, lunge ropes and other tack. I nailed a window candle in each window. And plugged them all in. Scott drilled a hole in each candle base so that the candles could be secured and never fall over or get blown off the sill. And I plugged in a radio so that I have music when I ride. I purchased a new muck bucket and fork to keep handy in the arena for clean up and I assembled it and put up a few nails to store the pitch fork.  Yes, it is all coming together while I wait for the big custom front doors, that were back ordered due to window parts. The final touch.

Saturday, September 17, 2016


The building is now up, with the exception of the main front sliding doors. We have been told by the builder that the doors were made in the wrong size and now they need to be remade and won't arrive until sometime mid October. Darn it!  But that doesn't stop us from getting the arena footing in. And despite this being another setback and delay, I think the Lord works in mysterious ways. In this case those special doors are not here so we can get the footing placed using all the large machinery and they won't get scratched or worse in the process. The front sliding doors are our big, big splurge on this project.  At 14' tall and 14' wide, they are custom made and will have divided light panels on top and cross bucks on the bottom. They will be the cherry on top of the entire project - well, more like the front center cherry, not really the top. Lol. I can't wait to have them hung and in place....but first the footing.
The arena is standing. Gable end set of sliding doors on. 

The first step for the footing was a day long excercise in packing sand and soil under the knee saver sections. This took hours. It had to be done so that the footing doesn't slide under the void under the kick walks later, but neatly fills the arena and stays put. Scott dumped ground all along the wall and I got the pleasure of hand pushing it under the wall.  We both agreed that if we had thought this through beforehand, we could have pre-set the soil before the builders put up the kick wall. But hindsight is 20/20 and as a result I am on my knees pushing soil to fill the circumference opening of 360' X 6"X 18". Arghhh. My badge of honor comes in the form of bruises on my legs, and cuts and scratches up my forearms. Not to mention sweat and yes, tears!!  Oh, and exhaustion. But the project was concluded before sunset that day. Whew. I hope to never do that again!
Scott spreads TB as our base for the footing. 

Next was the base. Scott has been taking to the skidster on a nightly basis all week.  A load of TB has been delivered each day. After work he goes out to spread the material and fill the arena, section by section. I'm so proud of him. He has become quite proficient with the skidster, and little by little the arena base is getting set. He needs to work while we still have sunlight since the electric isn't hooked up yet.

Speaking of electric, one night during the week the electrician team came to pull electric from the barn over to the arena. And because nothing on this project can be easy, we needed to run new electric lines from the house to the barn in order to have enough electric to light both buildings. The crew gets to work but in the midst of the project comes a knock on our door. They can't pull the old lines out or lace the new cable in because something must be pinched off in the tubes that run from the house to the barn. The solution is to retrench the hundreds of feet and possibly break out the cement around the barn!  Omg!  Scott is truly going to have that gripper he keeps threatening this project is going give him. The electricians go back in the basement and then back out to the barn. They continue to attempt to fish the wire through the tube that was in the ground. I had to walk away. I couldn't believe that we are going to face yet another huge unexpected expense. Then I began to pray a novena to St Anthony. Please help the electricians find a way through with the wire. Please!

Almost have the base in. More loads to come.
Then we roll it next. 
I went out into the barn to clean stalls. And I continued to call on St Anthony.  Please find a way. Please!  One of the electricians walked into the barn and attempted to fish the wire from there, and all of a sudden they got it!  They were able to fish the electric wire through. Oh thank you St Anthony, the patron of finding lost things, who found a way through. They think it was a 90 degree bend in the tube that provided the challenge. But we are not yet out of the woods. Now the team had to get the fishing line back through with the actual wire. After about 20 minutes they succeeded. We were home free!  Whoop!

We enter the weekend with most of the base in and a new electric box put up. But more work ahead to get the arena powered up and the footing in so I can actually ride. Next week I'm on vacation. I was supposed to be hauling Diva and Bourbon to Tennessee to compete in The Nationals, but I'll be home to put in footing instead. A very good trade off.  I am hopeful that I may ride in that new arena before next week ends. Fingers crossed. The light at the end of the tunnel is in sight.