Friday, January 21, 2011

Made it!!

Well we finally made it down to Ocala after quite the journey. Turns out the day we were planning on leaving the weather decided to dump 12 inches of snow on NJ, making it pretty much impossible to get out on schedule. I also had another small thing to figure out,, a truck ,,, being that mine was sitting broken down in North Carolina. My very kind mother lent me her car to get back from NC when my truck died. So I needed to figure out how to get 8 horses in the van and on the road, borrow a truck to pull my trailer, get someone to drive my moms car to NC , not to mention packing up the barn, the house,2 dogs,1 groom/manager,1 working student and 1 student who kindly offer to drive the car all in themiddle of one of the biggest snow storms of the season.... But when the sunny south is calling your name you get on the weather channel , find a break in the weather and press the pedal on the right!

Jill Lukens a student of mine, kindly showed up at my barn at 12pm on Wednesday to follow me down to NC to drop off the car. Dana Callinan ( my barn owner) lent me her truck so we put two horses and equipment in my trailer and headed south when there was a break in the weather, around 2 pm. Megan and Sarah stayed behind to meet the shipper who was coming at 7pm to pick up the remaining 8 horses. Jill and I got to the fork around 2 am and quickly dropped off the car to my mom who woke up long enough to give us some snacks for the remaining 10 hours and we were off again. We arrived to our farm in Ocala around 11:00am after a straight 21 hours driving. We were welcomed by a beautiful 21 stall barn backing onto the O'Connors amazing facility and not a bit of snow in sight! We quickly organized the equipment and prepared the stalls for the horses that would be arriving later in the afternoon. We then ran to get the key to the apartment before the office at the Carlton Arms closed. As soon as I sat down to sign the lease the shippers called and said that the horses would be arriving in less than an hour. Thankfully the ladies at the apartment gave me the keys and without even seeing the apartment we were back to the barn to greet the horses ( we at this point had been up around 30 hours.. things were getting fuzzy). The horses all traveled fantastic and I was so excited to see all of them. Its amazing how difficult it is to just send your "kids" off with strangers for such a long journey.. but the guys at Meadow Brook horse transport were amazing and took great care of all the horses.
Jill and I got everyone out in the fields at least for an hour while we organized blankets and grain.We got everyone tucked in bed around 7pm then we managed to crawl into our apartment, order pizza and pass out! Megan and Sara had gotten on the road around 4 am Thursday to head to Ocala and very kindly offered to stop by the barn and check on the horses to make sure everyone was happy and healthy after there long journey.Then next morning we all ventured out to the barn at 8 am with coffee in our hands,sunscreen in our bags and smiles on our faces ready to start the 2011 season in Ocala, Florida!!!

Huge Shout out to Jill who some how managed to get into the truck Friday night and drive 20 more hours back to NJ! Thanks to Meadow Brook for getting my horses south in fine form and to my girls Meg and Sara fro working about 2 days straight with great attitudes!!... and to my mom for the snacks and car :)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

In an eventing barn especially being a young professional saying "no" is rarely an option. To make it to the top networking is important and to survive financially teaching is vital. Fortunately I like people and I enjoy teaching. But the only way Im able to keep my horses and clients happy is to have above average help. Someone that can think on their feet, make good decisions, work a very long day, be personable to the clients,love the horses and be able to put up with me! It is vital that when Im away from the barn I am confident that the horses are being managed properly or else I can not pay attention to what im doing. I am sad to say that chrissy, my right hand lady has left to pursue another path. I have been so lucky to have her for the last year and I wish her all the happiness in the world! She knows I am her number one fan and will be here if she ever needs me. I also feel like I have someone out there that loves and supports my horses and I even if she is not right here in the barn.
I know the life of a groom is a very difficult one and it takes such a particular person. Every barn is different. Some yards run where the Professional and Groom have no personal relationship it is just a job, some professionals do it all themselves, some that have working students, stall muckers,moms or dads that help. Some barns run 7 am till 4pm no matter what, some run 6am - god knows when, some 5 day weeks some 7 day weeks. All I know is every barn is different in how they handle there staff. I have been very lucky with help. I had my first working student when I was about 21 and we both slept in my goose neck trailer ( with no living just a mattress) and took showers in the barn. Things have changed a bit since and I have over trial and tribulation come up with whats important to me with the work dynamic in my barn.
1. Horses have to be happy, Clients need to be happy, my help needs to be happy and I need to be happy. Communication, hard work, success, sleep, laughter and cups of tea help keep everyone fresh and enjoying the day. Unfortunately it is hard sometimes its hard to achieve all these things when you have a lame horse,no money, a 57 score in a training dressage test, its to hot or its to cold, the footings bad, there are to many horses and not enough fields, there are not enough horses to pay for the fields, your truck has blown up, that one person in the indoor never looks where their going, you dont have an indoor... all these things are why being a groom is even harder because you have to deal with the rider that is dealing with these things and be in a good mood!
I am lucky to say Megan kep ( formally Doug Paynes head girl) has agreed to come on board and take Chrissy's role. Megan and I have been friends since she moved to NJ. She got thrown into the deep end pretty quickly in her first year grooming. She had to learn at rapid pace while traveling to Holland, having up to 8 horses at 1 day competitions, cope with Dougs rapidly growing business and figure out her own personal role and goals in the sport of eventing. She and Doug finished on good terms and I think megans out of the box thinking, problem solving mentality and genuine love of the horses will be a great match for my operation.
oh yes and RIP my Red Truck it has been laid to rest in Norwood,NC after a long battle with... Everything !!
I loved you 2010 but Im excited to get to know you 2011!