Settling In

We’ve now been at the new barn for a little over a month, and it’s going great!

I opted to have the saddle fitter come out and check on Frankie (we adjusted his half pad situation and he seems to be feeling good) and got his hocks injected (he told me he was due right when I marked on the calendar to check, so at least we’re predictable). He’s feeling super strong and comfortable and bouncy after those adjustments, so we’re starting off on a good foot.

Bein’ real cute while my little buddy supervises our lesson. She happily sat there for the full hour, periodically babbling out instructions.

Much to his chagrin, we did have to cut his grain. His new field has a lot more lush grass than he’s used to, and the big man had an expanding waistline we had to get under control. We also picked up a half-leaser who rides him a couple times a week, so between the two of us and the training ride and fitness session, he’s in much more consistent work! He always feels his best in relatively heavy work, and sure enough he’s just feeling better and better. We’re being careful as he ramps up his fitness level, but so far he’s just taking a few extra naps.

This is the field of amateur-friendly teenage packer geldings, and it’s great. No drama. Frankie eats all day (as you can see from the wild dad-bod he’s rockin’ here). We found bot fly eggs in his mane, so clearly he’s comfortably napping out there. Shade trees if it gets warm. A nice shedrow if it gets wet. Great stuff.

I’ve gotten back in the lesson rotation, and am super enjoying the big ring. Frankie rides very differently in bigger spaces – I think having the visual room to stretch out makes him feel like he can physically stretch out – and I’m enjoying that feel too.

I’ve also been hacking out a little bit, trying to put my brave pants on. I’m able to access all the turnout fields since the horses are currently on overnight turnout and Frankie has loved getting to explore! I still need to figure out where the official hacking trail is, but I’m having plenty of fun playing cowgirl in the meantime.

Our half-leaser is an absolutely delightful teen who watches Lina for me on the weekends so I can ride. Lina adores her. Frankie adores her. She adores Lina. She adores Frankie. I adore them all. Her parents are nice normal non-crazy people. It’s an A+ situation all around.

I’ve been really thrilled with the staff at the new place. The barn manager is wonderfully communicative and tells me regularly that she loves my horse, so clearly she has great taste and we love her. The folks taking care of the property are so fast at responding to requests and are great around the ponies. The staff at the fitness center gives report cards every Friday so I know how it went. They’re coordinating with my trainer, my vet, and my farrier so I feel super taken care of.

If you didn’t see the video of this I posted on Instagram, I am begging you to reach out and have me send it to you. It is peak comedy. Francis did NOT want to go to the gym. I think we can all relate.

With an increasingly busy job and an increasingly busy almost-toddler in the mix, I am incredibly grateful for this level of care. It means that I’m able to come out my 3x a week knowing my horse is healthy, happy, fit, ready to work, and anything I need to schedule will be done within a week.

We have our sights set on doing the Low Adults at Piedmont at the end of the month, which is my absolute favorite show of the year. It’s the same gorgeous showgrounds as Upperville/Loudoun Benefit, but more pleasant cooler weather and much quieter since it’s a jumper-only show. My husband is working that weekend so Lina will be my little tag-along, but she’s turning into a total barn kid! I don’t really have anything else on the show calendar this year, so I’m excited to get out there one more time before the weather cools off.

She now happily refers to every horse as Bubba (including pictures of horses, her beloved rocking horse, and zebras). She wears her helmet constantly around the house, especially when she practices on her rocking horse. She reaches for Frankie to hop on with me. I won’t force her into riding if she doesn’t enjoy it, but so far I’m loving that she’s having so much fun with it! And loving that my most perfect Francisco is so gentle and careful with her ❤

New Digs!

I’ve been sitting on some big news: Frankie and I have a new home!

Hi pls feed me

If you’re confused because you’ve seen me tell you over and over how much I love my trainer, I’ll cut the suspense early – we’re still with her. Her lesson program has just grown so immensely over the last few years that she’s expanded into a second facility! I’m lucky enough to be one of the early movers.

And if you’ve been following along, this facility is actually one I’ve mentioned before – it’s where Frankie has been going to use the treadmill! And funny enough – I’m like 70% sure I actually competed at a show here with Addy many many years ago. Our vet bought the property last year and has poured a TON of time and effort into renovating and building up the facility, and it’s turned into a really incredible place.

A few of the amenities I’m really excited about:

  • Group turnout in a super lovely rolling grass field. Frankie goes out with two other teenagers and it’s been the least dramatic herd intro ever. They’re all just happy to hang out with buddies and eat.
  • On the days he’s not able to go outside due to weather, he automatically gets thrown on the hot walker for an hour. I’m thrilled that he’ll still be able to get out of his stall and stretch his legs every day, no matter what.
  • Access to the fitness center! He gets to keep up his water treadmill workouts; I’ve been super happy with how this supports his fitness and stamina and I’m also happy I don’t have to pay for shipping to get to it any longer.
He gets swim practice every Friday!
  • Vet on site. One of the vets in the practice we use is on site every Wednesday, which means we never have to wait long for anything. And they’re the vets we already know and love, who already know and love Frankie. (We also get to keep our incredibly awesome farrier)
  • A massive beautiful indoor. They’re getting ready to install some Big Ass Fans, which will only make it even nicer. It’s watered and dragged at least twice a week and it’s just so PRETTY. We’re in the barn attached to the indoor, so we don’t even have to get wet when weather hits!
  • An all-weather outdoor. It’s not quite done yet but should be soon, and there’s a really awesome drainage system that essentially ensures it will never flood. Dr. Jay explained the science behind it and it’s super interesting and nerdy. I’ll see if I can track him down for another explanation I can share with y’all.
  • Lots of hackout trails. I’m a huge weenie about hacking out, but I’m pretty sure Frankie will love it.
  • Nice big stalls. Frankie’s naps have just been upgraded for full stretch-out-ability. He’s on a corner too, which I love from a ventilation standpoint. He’s right across from the entrance to the indoor, and I know Mr. Social is going to love getting to greet everyone that walks by.
Francisco’s corner offer
  • Climate controlled tack room and bathroom. This will make it a lot easier for me to bring Lina out on days it’s super hot or cold – I’ll have somewhere to keep her comfortable while I’m riding. The Clairvaux crew gets our own space so there’s still a sense of community for us. It comes with a fridge/freezer, lots of storage, laundry, and a little lounge that’s currently housing some new barn kitties. I’m excited to see how the space evolves.
Got my spot all set up 🙂 We’re planning to do a painting party, and make a few other improvements, but it’s already a nice space.
  • A really responsive and communicative staff. In the week we’ve been there, I’ve already gotten several updates and texts on what Frankie is up to and how he’s doing. I love hearing from them!!
The barn manager mentioned that she thought he had escaped, then looked down and realized he was passed out. So clearly the daily naps continue uninterrupted.

Dr. Jay has really put a ton of thought into every aspect of the facility (from the footing in the rings, to something as simple as making the bay doors to the fitness center open silently so the noise doesn’t bother the horses).

It’s an extra 10-15 minutes in the car each way, but so far it’s definitely worth the extra drive. I’m feeling extremely fortunate that I get to keep working with my trainer that I trust, I get to keep Frankie under her watchful eyes and in her program that has been so good for him, and I now get access to such great amenities.

As a housewarming gift for Frankie, I’ve ordered a new nameplate and some brushes/bathing supplies, and I’m happy to see him settling in like he’s been there forever.

Cheers to Frankie’s new address!