Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

What a ride :)

OMG what an *amazing* year.  First I'd like to say a HUGE thank you to all the people who've supported us from the beginning.  Jan 1 I had four horses and about 15 students.  Of the originals, all the students and three of the horses are still with me :)   Woohoo!   Now?  Well substantially farther along :)   A lot more work though!

We started at one farm -- a great starter location -- and then moved an amazing step up :)   Would like to take a second to recognize my amazing working students from the year.   At the old place were Hailey, Amy and Kennedy and at the new place Kennedy is still hard at work and joining her are Micaela, Brena and Rebecca -- all of whom I'm thrilled with.  Possibly even Paula too (comeon - help me convince her :)   It's going to be a very fun year!

HUGE shout out to my parents who've both been actively involved in helping me with my business.  Mum helping with all the business side of operations and Dad in the barn day to day with me helping with chores and tractoring.  Totally unexpected and way beyond appreciated.  Most lucky child ever :)

And of course to my business mentors Elliott and Kathy who've been hugely helpful as I've been setting up and growing my business.  Elliott from the marketing and business standpoint and Kathy from the experienced horsewoman standpoint.   Thanks tons!

To Vic - the biggest of thanks for all your help in every way this year.  From our amazing sign, to our video day and TONS of photos to my stunning new office at the new farm.  You're incredible :)

And of course going right back to the beginning - to James from Overdrive Design for our awesome logo!

Some lessons learned this year:
- anything's worth trying once
and conversely
- don't reinvent the wheel!

- don't spend money you don't have
and conversely
- you need to have money to make money
and the follow up
- there is no money to be made in horses *sigh*

- find people with complimentary skills sets an listen to them when they make suggestions

- social media is your friend :)

- mud is all kinds of evil

- winter has no redeeming factors

- sadly no good deed goes unpunished
- the kindness of strangers is incredible

- I have amazing students who'll regularly go above and beyond.

- many hands make light work (HUGE thanks to all who came to the hay days!)

- knowing who to call is almost as important as knowing the answer

- never turn down offered help

- puppies add a whole new level of chaos to anything
- chaos is usually amusing when caused by a puppy

- boys and their toys can accomplish amazing things

- make time for friends, family, puppies and the occasional nap

and beyond all else

- it's not work if you love doing it!

There are no words to explain how happy I am with where we've ended up after this first year.  There's definitely something to be said for creating your dream job -- somehow the ridiculous hours are all worth it when it's a passion.   And I'm so grateful for the people (and horses!) who've been along for the ride :)   Looking forward to 2012!

Puppy agility

Had so much fun with Sasha today.   Getting ready to leave the house and she's sitting looking at the door ready to go out.  Looks at the door, looks at me.  Can just see the thought bubble "stupid human".  Clearly I wasn't getting the hint fast enough so she went and got a shoe and put it by the door too.  "Come on, what more do  I need to do for you?"  hahahah too funny.

Then later I had a break between lessons so figured we'd try the agility tunnel.  All sorts of notes about "introduce slowly" etc.  Yeah or not - I pointed her at it and took a treat to the other end.  Done and done.  Quite happy to run back and forth through the tunnel for treats...  I have the kewlest puppy ever.

Of course the same notes suggested the "pause box" would be the easiest one for them to learn.  Methinks I need better notes >;-P   Or perhaps to pass puppy kindergarten before attempting agility.   Nah.

Kinda helps offshoot feeling so sick.  Booo.   HUGE thanks to Paula and my dad who saved the day and took on stalls for me.  Would've been a very long and challenging day without them.   I love my job, but there is absolutely no flexibility for having a rough day - when I only had 8 horses I could do it no matter what state I was in, but with 17 (and 6 lessons) it's a bit more of a challenge!

Tomorrow Paula and Steph are taking on the barn for me -- all I have to do is sleep and teach a few lessons.  Hopefully resulting in one day recovery :)   I have the most awesome students ever!

Snow hack!

Woohoo!  First snow hack of the year, and first hack EVER at the new place!   Paula rode Charlie and I took Lissy out -- both horses were absolute superstars!  Yeah :)   Light fluffy snow and temps just around zero -- perfect snow hacking weather.  

Puppies make everything more fun - even snow.

As some of you are aware, I *really* don't care for winter.  But I have to say, watching Sasha play in her first *real* snow was pretty entertaining.  hahaha she was bouncing around alternating between digging head-first into it and trying to catch the flakes and/or the snow that she (or I >;-P) kicked up.  A happy puppy is an entertaining puppy :)

She is however, starting to be a *big* puppy.   Puppy school needs to start sooner rather than later :)

So HUGE thanks to Paula who's spending most of her vacation helping me at the barn.   Starting to get to the point now where I can actually make some progress on the non-horse side of things :)   Woohoo!   Should have rider level stuff up this week, and March Break camp info is up.   Slowly getting there.   Lost some people in the move so now have a few spaces at most levels for new people -- if you know anybody interested, bring them in!

So tomorrow's list of things to do is about 8 day's worth, but hey - gotta start somewhere right?   And Paula finds herself with her first full barn day *also* being the first snow day.  Horrifically brutal.   But luckily for me, she's awesome :)


Quick update :)

So everything's going great at the new place.  Horses are settled and happy.  Lessons are back in progress and the schedule is getting organized.   Theory lessons will start in Jan and we're going to run Spring Training over March break :)   Details about both of those coming soon!

Clothing orders are in!   And really good stuff.   Pretty excited about them *g*

Are you ready for Christmas yet?

So got very frustrated with myself today as for the THIRD time, I went the wrong direction at a certain point on my drive to work.   Then I clued in that since 2002, *every* barn I've worked or ridden at has required a right turn at that particular location whereas the new one requires a left.   Clearly my car has been well trained to go right there -- esp when I'm not really thinking about it...  Muscle memory?  hahaha don't know but definitely ingrained habit.

Sasha is growing crazy quickly.  On the plus side - she's now big enough to get in the car by herself!  She went to the vet today and survived with very little drama.

Finished my Christmas shopping tonight.  Woohoo!   Was highly amused that when I pulled into the last shopping plaza the Mission Impossible theme started playing.  It's the little things in life :)   Now just need to find time to wrap!

Feeling a little overwhelmed by the "to-do" list *sigh*  I have faith it'll be all good in the long run, but getting there...  Some days, a little tricky.  Will get caught up...  Just not entirely sure when >;-P   Maybe skipping Christmas would do it?

Any day that ends better than it starts is a good one...

So I generally love my job, but even I have to admit that there are days when it's just plain hard.   When you're stiff, sore, tired, cold, cranky, or the world just isn't right and the horses aren't co-operating, and things just don't go as planned... Well let's just say those are the only times I miss the office.

Today was the first of those days at the new place.   By 10:30 I was only *just* finishing up turn-out (ummm that'd be about an hour later than normal).  Super tired and slightly cold and all I wanted to do was go back to bed.  But with 17 stalls to muck, that's not so much an option.   Didn't even have a real reason for it - just super-tired and very much in slow motion.

So I'm debating about the wisdom of taking a mini-break to make some hot chocolate and recharge with some puppy time.   Would that wake me up and put me in a better mood, or would it put me to sleep?   Deciding the second, I reluctantly dragged out the wheelbarrow and convinced myself that if I ever wanted to be done, I'd better get started.

Well not 30 seconds after the mental "quit your whining and get to work" the door opens and in walks...   my Dad :)   Carrying hot chocolate and an offer to help with stalls.   Can I just say I have the most amazing parents on the planet?   Made such a completely huge difference to my day which was suddenly not so overwhelming.  And with his help, even having a very slow day I was still done in a very reasonable amount of time which allowed me to get some other stuff done and even take a 20 min break (first one!).

And I'll tell ya - it made all the difference in the world.   By the time it was time to teach I was awake and happy again :)   And lessons were a blast.  Louis set a new personal best height record jumping (given that he only knew about cross rails when he came, there are a lot of these - but he was jumping *really* well tonight with his part-boarder Margaret).  And a dressage lesson with everybody getting really good work from their horses.

So yesterday I drove the tractor for the first time.   Yeah, def prefer sports cars *g*   But it did get the job done.  Having a hard time adjusting to the fact that it runs without touching the gas, and the break doesn't stop it unless you're in neutral.   An odd mix of automatic and standard -- shifting the way I do for the car is not necessary, but you do use the clutch for some things (but not all - that'd make too much sense).   The bucket takes more control to move around than I'd expected, but I'll get the hang of that.   Was a horrible fail at parking on a hill.  hahaha gave up and let it roll backwards to flat ground.   Suspect that'll get better.   Did manage to deliver all the hay to the paddocks I wanted it to go to, but I suspect I'm not really ready to try harrowing the ring yet!

And have I mentioned lately how ridiculously smart my superstar puppy is?   We really need puppy classes to start sooner rather than later cause right now she's learning all sorts of things she can get away with >;-P   But really, she's awesome.  Travels like an old pro (good thing seeing how much time we spend in the car) and last night put herself to bed in her crate without so much as a minor wimper.   Yeah puppy!

Sherlock is really bitter about her presence though.   I've never seen him growl, hiss or spit before, but she brings out all the ugly in him.  On the plus side - he's way more affectionate with me than ever before now.  As long as Sasha isn't around that is!

Hopefully actually get to ride tomorrow!  Def time to work that back into the schedule...

Whoever said you can't buy happiness forgot little puppies.

So...  Have I mentioned that my superstar puppy is... well... a superstar :)   I'm a little concerned actually - I know what happens when horses are smarter than their owners and it's never good.  What about when puppies are?

So once-upon-a-time somebody threw some crunch out in front of the barn.   I have no idea how long it's been there as it's protected from the weather, but probably a while at least.   Sasha thinks this is the best treat ever!  And it's reasonably harmless, so I let her have some once in a while; usually as part of house/barn training.   But, now she knows that when she comes outside there's a marvelous buffet!  No worries, the barn has big solid doors that adult people sometimes have trouble opening - little puppy should be safe inside.  The only door that has a puppy-sized gap is to the shavings area which is quite a ways away from the main barn and through another door.

Yeah, but the door between the two barns has a cat passage way.  Covered with a flap, but still there.

Uh huh, she definitely figured out how to move the flap, fit through the cat-door, follow the path to the shavings, slide *under* the door and get to the treats -- in about 45 seconds.   The dogs that have lived there for years who are small enough to fit through there still haven't figured out that trick.  And maybe the first time *was* a fluke (we know all about taking credit for flukes at GRS :) -- but the second time she knew *exactly* what she was doing.  "Never teach your horse something you don't want them to know" -- I'm thinking the same applies to the dog; the difference is, the dog is teaching herself!

She also has no problem finding me if I call her while hiding in a stall or another area of the barn.  Knows enough to go around whatever wall to where there's a door.  Crazy smart pup.

On the plus side - "come" and "sit" and "with me" (of course I make up random commands to teach my dog) are about 70% installed.   Still not there if she's distracted, but I've only had her for two days *g*   And she's very housebroke (thank God!)   And she now travels well in the car, sleeping in the back seat.  Sweet.

I'm a little concerned that puppy class doesn't start till Jan.  hahaha I know how much trouble a novice horse owner can do in a month with a greenbean -- can only imagine what I could be doing wrong with poor Sasha now.  Yikes!

But she's soooo much fun.   And I was highly amused that people came to visit her at the barn today :)  Not me, or the horses, nope - just Sasha.

And my poor cat is very unhappy with this situation.  The other cats don't mind but Sherlock is definitely suffering from eldest child syndrome.  Right now he's sitting between me and the keyboard looking for attention -- not that he didn't always do that, but these days it's with a whole new level of determination.  And every time I pet the puppy he appears -- and then promptly hisses at Sasha and backs away.  I try to play with him all the time I'm home, but of course Sasha gets to come with me and that's just Not Fair.   Ah well - it'll work out in the end.

And it works the other way too - Sasha was NOT amused when I was riding Athena today.   I don't know what she thought I was doing up there, but she was very unhappy at not being allowed to participate.

For all the extra time and lack of sleep Sasha causes that mostly makes people think I'm even more insane than they thought, I have to say every time I see her, she makes me smile.  N that counts for an awful lot.

As for the barn itself... Starting to get the hang of the routine.   Spending so much time getting organized (well and playing with/taking care of Sasha) that unpacking still hasn't really happened -- hoping I can get the vast majority of that done on the weekend when I have wonderful working students doing the barn :)   I tell ya, taking care of Sash nearly doubles the amount of time it takes me to do stalls.  I'm sooooo productive when she's asleep *g*  But when she's awake - omg.  hahaha Lessons have been going well and the horses are soooooo much happier.   Going to start getting Apollo and Lissy fit again and it looks like potentially even Dixie!  Not holding my breath on that one, but will be amazing if it happens.

We made it!

The worst is over!  Woohoo!

Still some odds and ends to move of course, but horses are in and settled and the vast majority of the stuff is moved.

Horses were soooooo happy.   Turning them out in those big green paddocks and watching them run around kinda made the whole thing worthwhile all in itself.   When we came back hours later to bring them in for dinner, they weren't having anything to do with it.  Too funny.

Barn is, of course, still in a state of barely-controlled chaos.  But horses are rehomed and happy.  And now at least I know who all the new horses are (yeah for the cheat-sheet landlord's daughter wrote me! :) and most of the stuff is at the new barn.  Somewhere.  hahaha

HUGE THANKS to Steph and Hailey for all your help today.   (hmmmm I wanted to make that significantly bigger but that seems to be the biggest it goes... :)  They stuck it out for 13 HOURS of moving, packing and unpacking.   We got nine horses relocated, mucked the barn (Hailey gets exclusive credit for that one), turned my guys out, got water troughs set up for them, brought in and fed the new guys, carted multiple bags of shavings and bales of hay, hauled truckload after truckload of stuff into the "dumping" area (to be unpacked over the next few days), and even managed to get the trailer parked and unhitched and the barn swept before we left.   Without them, this would've taken me a week.   I have the best students in the world :)

And now I have to go to sleep so I can start unpacking AND managing the new barn first thing tomorrow.  Wish me luck :)