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.

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