Saturday, December 14, 2013

Fat and Furry

The title says it all. Nearly two months post Fair Hill, and the pair of us are fat and furry. (Well, I'm not so furry. I think.) (And I'm not fat so much as squishy. Hey, don't judge, it's the holiday season!)

Dante had his shoes pulled the day after Fair Hill, and his feet are looking phenomenal. I gave him more time off than I had planned, mostly because the weather took a turn for the worse and stayed there right at the time I wanted to start bringing him back. Since there is no particular hurry, I just let sleeping dogs lie and only got on him for the first time this past week. The ring was frozen, but we just spent some time walking in the snow, which will probably be the menu for the next week. I won't put any shoes on until he indicates that the ground is too hard for him, I absolutely love that he doesn't snowball up when he is barefoot.

The downside of him having so much time off is that he has now gotten bored and begun playing games with himself. According to the barn owner, one of his favorites is to gallop once or twice around the field, stop at the gate, then crow hop in place, buck buck buck buck buck. Then he's done.

Another is to take his halter and lead rope if they are within reach of his field and just toss his head about holding them. 

The final game is to grab a persons arm by the coat cuff (a favorite activity of his every winter) and to pull the person over to one side of him. Then he grabs the other coat cuff and pulls the person back to the original side.

So glad I exist for your entertainment, horse.

(Dante surveys his wintery kingdom.)

I'd be annoyed with his antics, but he's so obviously amused by himself that I can't really hold it against him.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Everyone in sport knows that while competing, you sometimes find holes in your training. Sometimes these holes are just a little dip in the ground; you can fill them in with a little bit of footing and never worry about them again. Sometimes, the hole is a shallow depression that you work on evening out over time, and eventually it goes away.

And sometimes, you step in a hole so deep that your foot gets stuck and you face plant.

I've spent a lot of time filling in holes in the training of both my horse and myself. He has trailering holes that need constant repair and maintenance. He had a massive hole with water when he was younger that we managed to repair, but need to double check it to make sure it doesn't reopen. He had holes in his show jumping training when he thought colored sticks were fun to knock down. All of these holes were worked on and smoothed over. While, they may need maintenance, they are generally not an issue anymore.

Now, it's finally time to go back and fully fill the holes in his dressage.

By the way, Dante is fairly good on the flat. He has a lovely collected trot, a quality half pass, fantastic lead changes, a steady counter canter, and a jaw-dropping extended trot. Dante is a horse who should easily score in the fifties (FEI) every time out. I've been told by Olympic-dressage clinicians that Dante could be competitive with the best horses in the world if we could correctly work every time out. And I believe him, after seeing the video tape from the clinic. Dante is a horse who 'has all the pieces', apparently.

Except the mental game inside the white box. 

All I can say is that Dante can practice at home, ride in lessons off his farm, and warm up beautifully at the show with the best of them. But as soon as we ride down centerline, it's like something clicks in his brain and he loses focus, takes any excuse to ignore me, and generally goes about above the bit. It doesn't always happen; he was quite well behaved at Millbrook. But at Surefire, Plantation, and now Fair Hill this year, we showed that this hole in his training needs to be fixed before we can move on.

Fair Hill in particular is frustrating, as I calculated later that literally one more point on any movement or collective mark from either judge would have put me at a qualifying score. It's satisfying to get through a CCI2* finally with no problems at either jog, no pneumonia, no worries about too many rails. But I definitely lost focus after getting a non-qualifying dressage ride. I ho-hummed around cross country, and shrugged about the SJ. I'm proud that even with an off ride from me, we still made it around clear on a division that ate half of the competition. But this past weekend was still supremely bittersweet.

In the past year, Dante and I have actually made huge strides in dressage; his canter is more true, his trot is more bouyant. His lateral work is more flexible and his frame is more uphill. By every indication, we should be improving in our scores.

And yet, Dante seems to know. We've gone to schooling shows, and while a bit of tenseness occurs, it seems that Dante saves his truly bad behavior for recognized shows. So this winter, we will come to the schooling shows dressed to the nines, clipped tails and braided, shadbelly and white gloves. I will go to every measure to make sure Dante thinks it is a real show and we will do test after test this winter. If there isn't a schooling show that weekend, I will pay a schooling fee to use someone's dressage ring and do the whole thing without a judge. 

Next spring, we will come out and go to Jersey Fresh CCI2*, and we will showcase our new ability to stay relaxed in the ring. And we will live up to our potential finally.

See you next spring.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Destination Millbrook

Last week marked a number of firsts for me for a show. It was the first time I took legitimate vacation days from work. It was the first time I was trailering my horse more than a couple of hours with my rig. It was the first time I had stabled overnight without being part of Gold Chip. It was the first time I was getting coaching from Stephen Bradley. Hell, it was the first time I'd stabled since Colorado in June 2012.

It was awesome.

Amanda and I set out ridiculously early on Thursday morning. It rained the entire drive, then cleared an hour before we arrived, then began again as we were unpacking the trailer. We sat in the truck for maybe 45 minutes to wait out the pouring storm, then mustered up the gumption to ride later. I'm testing out different methods and my new thing is to not overkill the dressage. As Dante has gotten worse and worse in the ring, my previous method was to flat him more and more and more. Now, I'm into the opposite. I don't even like to ride in my dressage saddle and bridle the day before the test. We ride in our cross country bridle (which he absolutely loves on the flat) and jump saddle and go on a hack, with some light trot and canter tacked on at the end. For warm-up, I walk for 20 minutes, then spend 12-15 minutes working on throughness and transitions. There's not a whole lot too it, but we try to work on focus and quality.

Apparently, it is working. Best dressage test at Advanced yet, and probably one of our best tests ever, period.


I walked cross country three times, so that I would make sure not to skip a fence, or jump the wrong one, or anything of that variety. The course looked great to me; tougher than our first Advanced at Rocking Horse, but softer than Poplar's Advanced. That was made me quake in my boots. Millbrook had a challenging but fair course, and I didn't feel too nervous about any particular combination. I headed out of the start box confident, but wary of being too cocky.

My faith was well placed, as Dante tackled the course with major aplomb. At first, I was disappointed with the large number of time penalties I had come home with; I was hoping to come home with around 10 penalties, not 20. However, once the results for the full division came in, I saw how tough the course had ridden. There were a large number of stops, retirements, and eliminations, and not one person came home within the time. In fact, only six riders even had single digit time penalties. For a green pair, to come home clean with around 10 more time penalties than the leaders was a great accomplishment.

(Dante galloping around the turn. Photo by Abbie Golden of Eventing Nation.)

I jogged Dante Saturday night on the extremely hard gravel road and he was sound as a dollar. He has been extremely sound ever since he had time off, but as always, I am extraordinarily paranoid. I shouldn't have worried, he was great.

On Sunday, we had to wait, and wait until I got to go. Amanda was lucky enough to be early and jumped a fantastic round; she and Toby had a phenomenal go this weekend as well. As the hours ticked on, and the spectator crowd grew, my stomach started churning. I calmed down a bit in warm-up....until Dante seemed very behind the leg. I was worried he was tired; in reality, I believe that the tiny warm-up ring with many horses was backing him off. I starting revving him up and up so that he wouldn't chip in once we were in the ring.

I got in the ring and galloped forward, something I used to do last year. But revving him up and then galloping forward was a bit much. I found long spots to the first two fences and concentrated on keeping him forward through the rollback to the vertical at three. After the long spots, I needed a half halt more than a kick, and had the rail when Dante jumped flat at three. Finally, after three I half halted and started getting the jumps I wanted. 

I then got the really long spot again to the triple bar and didn't half halt down the line to the vertical. And shockingly, had the vertical down. Lather, rinse, repeat. I pulled myself together for most of the rest of the course, the only other mistake happening when I got yet another long spot off of a roll back to a large square vertical. Again, half halt!

Still, even though I cracked a little under the pressure, I am thrilled with the way Dante was jumping. And in the end, I really made the same mistake of not half halting multiple times. Time to get my half halt on.

Thirty minutes after I got off Dante, it started to pour just as we started loading up the trailer. We got the horses loaded, changed our clothes, hopped into the truck, and just then, the rain stopped. So much fun.

At this point, we are now onwards and upwards to the Plantation CIC3*!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Big and the Little

Just like every other competitive athlete, I am the type that makes goals for everything I do. Goal making is recommended by pretty much every sports psychology book I've read. From what I gather, it's also a good practice for making progress in any portion of life, and it's something that comes pretty naturally for me.

For every show I enter, I make two types of goals, what I term as Big Goals and Little Goals. 

Big Goals are the purpose of why I am entering the event. I don't enter an event just to run; each event has a purpose in the grand scheme of things. Whether to gain experience at a level, or to get qualifications to move up a level, the Big Goal is the specific reason that I am spending my horse's legs. He only has so many jumps, so I am careful about why and where I run. Big Goals generally have short term implications.

Little Goals are the individual goals I have for each phase. These goals are generally feedback on whether my training regimen is working. I try to pick achievable goals for each phase, marking baby steps in my march towards improvement. Little Goals are ongoing and generally have long term implications.

Both my Big and Little Goals for Loudoun Prelim in April and Waredaca in were very similar. The Big Goals were identical; get my qualifier. The new USEF rules require at least one QR within a year. Since Dante hadn't competed in almost a year by Loudoun, and had last gotten a QR in February of 2012 (thanks to my appalling SJ riding at both Poplar and Greenwood last spring), I needed a Prelim to run an Intermediate, and an Intermediate to run an Advanced. This being the natural progression of an Advanced horse coming back into the work, I wasn't put out at all, as this was what I had planned anyways. However, it did put a touch more pressure to not make any stupid mistakes.

The Little Goals for both events varied slightly for dressage. I generally pick improved relaxation as my goal for dressage, which I evaluate by how I feel after the test as well as my score. Dante knows all the movements very well and can generally impress in the warmup. His relaxation is the only barrier to us scoring much better, so the better the score generally, the more relaxed he was. For Prelim I wanted to score under 35, and for Intermediate I wanted to score under 40. These are scores that I have rarely previously achieved, and Dante has been achieving a maturity in his work that I have never felt before, so I thought them very doable. For show jumping I wanted to not choke, and jump clear. I'm fairly certain that jumping clear is pretty much everyone's goal for this phase. For cross country, I wanted a confident run and to make sure all the rust was knocked off. 

At Loudoun, I achieved my Big Goal and none of my Little ones; I got my qualifier so I could run Intermediate, but Dante spooked in the ring after a stellar warm-up and became quite tense in the dressage, scoring a 39. We had a rail in SJ when I let him get down in his shoulders to a square oxer with a long approach, and while Dante was game for XC, I made a few rusty decisions that bothered me. I left Loudoun feeling a bit down about our results, although we had achieved our Big Goal.

Waredaca was the opposite; we had another stellar warm-up for dressage, and translated a good portion of it into the ring, only becoming a bit tense. We scored a 36.8, which is his best score at the level to date, and were placed 5th out of 15. I had a great stadium round and jumped clear; then Dante and I were gangbusters cross country. At least, we were until I was pulled up after fence 10 for jumping the wrong trakehner at 6A....And yet, I left Waredaca feeling quite positive about our progress, even though we hadn't gotten the qualifier.

So two events, opposite results. At Loudoun, I accomplished my Big Goal, but none of my Little Goals; at Waredaca I walked away having accomplished my Little Goals but not my Big Goal. I felt happier and more confident about my day at Waredaca than at Loudoun. My training regimen is working, I feel prepared to run Advanced again. Unfortunately, thanks to the big TE, I still need an Intermediate qualifier.

So Advanced just needs to wait until Millbrook now, instead of HP of NJ at the end of this month. In the meantime, we'll hit up Surefire, which is only 10 minutes from my barn. 

Monday, May 20, 2013


And so the familiar chorus goes, I've been a very bad blogger. Loudoun has come and gone and Waredaca is a mere two weeks away, yet it's been almost six weeks since I last updated.

When I graduated college, I knew that my free time was largely going to be a thing of the past. I'd had it largely cushy time-wise for the four years I rose through the levels. I was planning on fast tracking my way through my second degree the way I had my first, but the fact was, with no math under my belt since high school, I had to take eight semesters of classes thanks to prereqs. However, because I had a degree under my belt, I didn't need any core classes. So there I was, scratching for credits just to be a full time student, and coasting through four years with lots of free time to compete.

It was great, I'll admit it.

As I said, I knew when I became a Real Person and had a Real Job, that all this free time would go away. The days of thinking that an 8 am lesson was early in the morning would be over. And sure enough, when I started having to wake up five days a week at 5:30 am, I thought it was rough.

I got used to that.

Then I started getting up at 4:45 am, and I thought it was rough.

I got used to it.

Then Dante arrived, and my energy levels plummeted.

I haven't figured out how to eat yet to keep my energy up; I bounce between starving and lethargic. Some weeks I mainline coffee all day and sometimes I'm bouncing off the walls from too much sugar. When Dante wasn't here, I was able to eat right after I go from having lunch at 11 am and then not eating anything else until dinner at 8:30 pm.

So there's that to figure out.

I still can't quite get the knack of going to sleep prior to ten or eleven either, which means I end up running the day on five to six hours of sleep per night, which is not really enough for me. I've been trying hard to go to sleep earlier, and to make an effort to make sure to get at least one long night of sleep every weekend.

I'm slowly becoming acclimated to my new schedule of working, riding and/or trailering out to lessons/gallop, then possibly running. For the first time since Dante has arrived, I finally feel under control again. After two plus months of working and riding, my body is hopefully calibrated again.

From here, onwards and upwards!

(Dante being his beautiful self at a Stephen Bradley lesson this spring.)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Day in the Life

4:10 am: My first alarm goes off. Blearily, I press the snooze. It continues to go off every ten minutes.

4:40 am: Second alarm joins the chorus. I spend the next twenty minutes rolling from side to side to press snooze.

5:00 am: After finally dragging my butt out of bed, I spend five minutes staring angrily into the mirror. I am not a morning person, in case you can't tell.

5:25 am: Dressed and ready for work, I get on the road.

6:25 am: I arrive at work and spend the next thirty minutes to an hour answering emails.

9:00 am: Breakfast time! I spend fifteen minutes eating a banana and writing down details about my ride the night/day/session before and detailing goals for my ride that night.

9:15 am: Back to work.

11:00 am:  Lunch time, take a mental break, and read a book. Sometimes it's dressage theory, sometimes it's pure entertainment.

11:45 am: Back to work.

3:00 pm: I start thinking about getting on the road. D.C. traffic is not too bad if I leave by 3:15 pm.

4:30 pm to 5:00 pm: Arrive at the barn sometime in this time frame. It always depends on whether there's been any accidents. And whether it's Friday. Occasionally, I even get there by 4:15 pm. First change out of work clothes into riding clothes. If I'm jumping, I go down to the arena to set up fences. Bring in Dante, groom, tack up, get on. Choices are generally jump, hack, or flat, although I'm about to throw trailering out for lessons into the mix too. Lessons will be late nights for sure. Untack, groom, and clean tack before I can leave the barn.

(Middleburg sunset hack.)

7:00 pm to 7:30 pm: Leave the barn, arrive home 7 minutes later. Thank goodness I live close by.

7:30 pm: Watch The Daily Show and Colbert Report and possibly a sitcom if I have time while eating dinner. Set out all my work clothes for the following day, make my lunch, and reset my riding clothes gym bag.

8:30 pm: Get off the couch to go shower and get ready for bed.

9:00 pm:  Bed time! Read a book until I fall asleep around 9:30 pm.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Reunited, and It Feels So Good

On Saturday, it was cold with a high in the mid-30s and the rain drizzled down steadily from a steel gray sky. Despite the miserable weather, I found myself unable to sleep past 6 am, due to the imminent arrival of the big guy.

That's right, on Saturday, Dante came home to me.

(The Brookledge trailer backs down the drive.)

As I watched the Brookledge trailer try and fail to turn into our small drive, then give up and masterfully manuever through in reverse, I was bouncing on my toes like a kid in a candy store. Soon enough, Dante's smiling face (metaphorically of course) was in front of me as the guy opened up the trailer window. He charged off the trailer like a rampaging dragon, steam blowing from his nostrils as he dragged me around.

Into his new stall he went to settle, and after about 30 minutes, he calmed enough to turn out. Immediately, he trotted up to the rise, where he could view his new domain, and surveyed the nearby herds as if he were king.

Silly pony.

(Dante enjoys his new field.)

Of course, then my truck decided windshield wipers and turn signals were for wimps, so I spent the rest of the day at the mechanic. I was able to come back at the end of the day and tried to wash out his tail from his travels.

On Sunday, we went for our first hack with our new barnmates. The hacking out here is simply stunning; we were out for at least an hour, and that was only the 'longer' hack, not the 'really long' hack.  The fields are gorgeous, the hills are gorgeous, the woods are gorgeous. Dante had the opinion that we were headed out to run cross country, and jigged for the first ninety percent of the hack. The final ten percent, he finally understood what was going on and decided to walk like a normal horse. Hopefully as we hack more and more, he will understand that XC is not at stake.

I flatted him just a tiny bit at the end, and he was absolutely lovely. I threw in most movements to test out where we were in terms of flexibility, strength, and remembering what the hell we were doing. He gave me some lovely work considering his vacation time; he obviously remembers how to do everything, although some of the lateral flexibility is missing. On the other hand, his spinal flexibility is shockingly good now.

Last night, we ventured out to do flat work at dusk, my first ride in a dressage saddle since our dressage test in Colorado. I'm playing between the Devoucoux Mendia and the Prestige 2000D. The Mendia seems to fit better, but might be slipping back and last time I used it for a long period of time, his back became sore. However, that may have simply been a coincidence, as I was not sitting the trot particularly well at the time either. In any case, until I can have a saddle fitter evaluate the saddles, I'm bouncing back and forth a bit.

At first, Dante wanted to stand and watch the deer who gathered on the other side of the fence. After about five minutes of staring without any particular distress, I convinced him that he did, in fact, need to work, and did not, in fact, need to keep an eye on the deer. He settled under the lights and we spent a long time in a low rein, working on pushing from behind. As I asked for more and more lateral work, he began to pick himself up until he was working in a nice frame without me really even having to ask. We spent a lot of time leg yielding, working on his lateral flexibility while maintaining his rhythm. Although he had given me a lovely canter tour the day before, I decided against working in that gait when I felt him getting tense as he tired.

I'd forgotten the soothing aspects of the routines of grooming and cleaning tack. I practically have the barn to myself in the evenings, and there's something calming about accomplishing each task in a methodic manner. Here's to having horses in my life again!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Marking Time

In about two weeks time, Dante will be coming to his new home at Windover Farm in Middleburg. I can't begin to explain how lucky I feel to have found this facility. It's small, private, with only a couple other boarders. Yet it has fantastic care, beautiful individual turnouts with run-ins, a full size dressage ring with lights and all-weather footing, and other amazing amenities that will help Dante and I in our quest to ride at the top levels.

(The lovely hack down to the dressage arena.)

As the time gets nearer, I get more and more impatient. At times, it often feels that I will never get him back, and that the two-ish weeks before I see him will last forever. It reminds me a lot of waiting for Christmas when I was a kid. Each delay (which is less and less each time) seems to feel like a bigger and bigger deal. In October, a too-short trim immediately delayed his return to me by at least a month; at the time, it seemed no big deal. This past week, when I tried to schedule a reshoeing for this Monday, I discovered the farrier-vet that had done his feet before would be out of town until the following Monday. A week's delay! I felt like throwing a fit, until I realized that I am a sane and rational person (right?). 

 This next week may be the toughest yet, but I will attempt to distract myself by retrieving my trailer next weekend from Destination Farm and making my first attempt at bringing it into Windover. (The one drawbrack to the farm is the tight entrance for my 26.5 ft trailer; I figure this can only force me to become a great trailer drive quite quickly!) Some of my gear is already set up at the farm; the rest will follow next weekend.

(Dante's individual turnout.)

I'm trying very hard to further distract myself by reading riding theory books. I've finished the German Dressage Federation's Principles of Riding, and have moved onto Common Sense Dressage by Sally O'Connor. It's surprising how much I never thought about theory and how much I plan to incorporate it now, particularly since I will be riding more on my own than ever before. Since I won't have mirrors, I will have to learn to feel what I need, rather than see. I've bookmarked pages in 101 Dressage Exercises and 101 Jumping Exercises, and decided to do quite a bit of pole work based on my auditing of the Nicola Wilson clinic.

In addition, I've been mostly faithfully doing the P90X workouts. When I rode a friend's horse a few weeks ago, it was almost shocking how out of shape I was. While nothing substitutes adequately for actually riding everyday, at least I can get my wind and some of my tone back. I've been at it for about 2.5 weeks now, and my body is much trimmer already. I'll need to cut back a bit once I start riding simply because of time constraints, but this is much better than starting off cold.

So here I am, marking time until Dante gets here.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Instructions on How (Mostly) Not to Spend a Weekend

How Not To Spend a Thursday:

Go to work. (Actually, you should do this. Otherwise, your beloved pony will be very perturbed when you tell him there is no money for treats this month.)

After work, go to the DMV. (First mistake.) Spend lots of time on the Internet verifying that you have all the documents you need to get title and registration of your new used trailer. (No matter how much time you spend researching, the workers at the DMV will curtly tell you that you do not have everything you need and make you leave.) Leave the DMV in a bad mood thanks to the realization that your trailer title is invalid due to the presence of white out that neither you nor the seller realized was cause for invalidation. (No, neither of us knew that, but apparently the rest of the world did.) 

Get on the phone with your SO to vent while you drive home. (He'll be super happy to listen to your rant when you wake him up after pulling the overnight shift at the hospital.) 

In the middle of the phone call, on the Inner Beltway of D.C. right before rush hour, suddenly feel your engine lurch while simultaneously the check engine light comes on. (@#%&! %#$$#*$! $%*@#!) Hang up on SO after hasty 'I gotta go', pull over to the side and listen patiently to the nice highway service man talk. (No sir, I can positively guarantee that despite the fact that I am a young woman driving a diesel truck, I did not put gas into my tank.) Call AAA and arrange a tow to your local mechanic. (Free 100 mile tow = winning.) 

Have a small mental breakdown before the tow truck comes. (#@$*&*!) 

Enjoy the nice tow truck and the entertaining stories the tow man has. (Your eighty-year old mother tried to walk three miles to a hotel in how many feet of snow?!) Arrive at the mechanic, arrange for a rental car. (Remember how to drive a vehicle that isn't a diesel.) Call previous owner of trailer, who is the nicest woman ever, and figure out a game plan for getting a new title for the trailer. Get home, drink a beer. (Beeeer.)

How To Spend a Friday:

Go to work. (Again, necessary.) Get a text with your pony's four feet now clad in shoes for the first time since July. (At least one thing is going right!) Get a call from the mechanic. (The repairs to Casey will be how much?!) Text friend who is an assistant trainer to say I will be coming by tonight for entertainment. 

(Dante's new kicks.)

Go to said friend's farm after work. Ride her lovely horse, and jump for the first time since early June. (Wheee!) Stop missing at the fences. (Er, sorry horse.) Have major issues dismounting and vow to return sooner to ride horse. (Too bad hot tubs aren't standard on horse farms.) Stick around and watch Sylvester for the first time. (Being from Texas makes that movie extra hilarious.)

How to (Sort of) Spend a Saturday:

Wake up earlier than planned to go get truck from the mechanic. Drive truck almost all the way home, only to feel it lurch again while the engine light comes on again. (#%^%@!) Limp home, call mechanic, ask if it's safe to drive back. Cancel first appointment to see horse farm.

Drive back.

Hang around for a bit until they decide it won't be done until Monday, then head back to the rental car company where you just dropped off your rental earlier that morning. (Weren't you here earlier?) Drive all the way back home, then head to your second and third farm appointments.

Long story short, I found a home for Dante, which pretty much made everything okay. The new place has the following:

  • Bank barn that's cool in the summer and warm in the winter with clean shavings.
  • My choice of feeds, beautiful hay, Dante can be fed on the floor.
  • Tack room with room for saddles and bridles.
  • Areas to cross tie and tack up in.
  • Storage room with room for tack trunk and blanket bars for blanket storage.
  • Wash rack with hot and cold water.
  • Individual turnout in green, gently rolling field.
  • Paths between all the paddocks and around the entire property to hack and trot on.
  • Full size, fully lit dressage arena with good footing next to large grassy area with jumps. 
  • Second small arena with good footing with jumps.
  • Access to miles and miles of trails.
  • Large, gently rolling gallop field.
  • Pull-through trailer parking included in board.
  • No in-house trainer, so I can take lessons with whoever I like. I can either trailer out or bring them to me.
  • No specific farm vet or farrier.
  • Seven minutes from my house.
  • Within budget! Slightly on the high end, but well worth it.

And another great part is that the owner's willing to hold a stall for Dante! She has two left. There's only room for nine horses total on the farm, and her four stall barn is rented to a family of eventers, so I'd be with people of my own sport. Her own five stall bank barn has two therapy mares, her personal dressage horse, and two stalls open for boarders, one of which would be Dante.

It's absolutely lovely and I was nearly jumping up and down with glee afterwards. Now I'm truly counting down the days until Dante arrives. Now that he has shoes, S is starting light flat work with him. Dr. Newton will look at him at the end of this week and we'll decide how far out we are from there.