The most incredible pile of dirt.

So stuff is happening here! I wasn’t going to post real updates until things actually happened, but I guess, if all else fails, I do have an AMAZING pile of dirt. And amazing and expensive pile of dirt. I can fence it in and have a tiny, but nice surface? Back up plans!

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Old concrete pad…

Bright and early yesterday morning, 2 site prep guys came and began a day long project.

First the removed an old concrete pad from the site. My husband and I thought about taking it out ourselves, but Michele didn’t trust me with a jackhammer… I really don’t know why? In the end, they offered an inexpensive price AND offered to move the concrete on site. Score!

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Old, sad shed.

See, this part of the project WAS intended to be easy. Except, then our existing shed was attached to concrete so they had to disassemble vs haul off ($$ vs $) then there was the concrete pad. Next the site prep guy visited to discover that not only was our area NOT level, but 33″ OFF level (when I mentioned this to the shed removal guys when dropping off a check, the entire office gasped). So, additional plans were made for 72 CUBIC FEET of dirt to be hauled in.

Then there was weather. By weather I mean rain. Rain in the form of massive downpours all weekend. But Monday dawned clear. My husband and father-in-law removed a tree behind the site, and despite all my fears, yesterday morning, everything started as planned.

I was completely determined not to be a pain and bother the guys (all 2 of them) so most of my photos are of the stalker variety. From doorways or windows…

First step was removing the pad. Next they laid of the location and asked if I was happy with the placement. The set it between my pool fence and round pen and parallel to the house. Perfect. Then came the dirt. SO. MUCH. DIRT.

#Stalker photos

For hours the pushed and built with dirt. The dirt was compacted and all that so we shouldn’t be dealing with runoff. They’re pros and that’s what they told me…

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Stupid piers! And so much dirt!

Then the piers. 10, 3ft deep pier. The bane of my existence. If I could do this all again, I wouldn’t because of these stupid piers. Piers are expensive! But, their auger was amazing. Too bad I was too far away to take a picture or video…. And I’m pretty sure they were on the last one by the time I realized they were drilling or I’d have walked outside and figured out how to be creepy and photograph.

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Then screenings! So much screenings. I believe I have at least 6″ of screenings. Plus a pile of extras because when they offered me the leftovers, who was I to turn them down?

Finally, the concrete truck showed up to pour the piers (one company we consulted was using 60 bags of concrete, whereas in this case, I think the truck was more efficient). Then more smoothing and final leveling and BAM. Done for the day.

I do need to reseed my lawn. But, whatever. It’s going to rain too, so I’m curious how much dirt will wash away. Still, December in the Mid Atlantic region isn’t exactly the best time of year for grass growing…

No discussion of next steps until they happen, but for right now, this big pile of dirt is enough.

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SO BEAUTIFUL!

Disillusioned.

I considered not writing this post.

It’s more personal than a lot of things I post.

But, I have a blog for writing and reflecting on horse related things. If not times like this, then when?

As some of you may know, I have been teaching riding lessons on and off for a number of years. I started in college for my old barn and trainer at the time. She was…crazy, but most horse people are crazy. Or at least a lot of them are? Either way, the teaching paid my horse bills. It allowed me to afford board and lessons when I bought Subi. It made horses possible. I taught after I graduated. I taught through grad school. I taught until I started my first job in academia. And then I game notice and quit. I was mentally scarred due to some passive aggressive shit. I said I’d never teach again. This was 2010.

3 years later, I found that I needed money and a friend of mine offered me the opportunity to start teaching. We had both worked for the previous trainer. Things were to be different. She had her own barn, she learned what not to do. And for the past… 5 years, I have been teaching some lessons and leading trail rides. Not a lot, just once a week. When things got tight, I spent a summer working both weekend days and it almost killed me, but I did was I needed to do. There were a handful of days that I cancelled (business trips, 1 horse show, a couple vacation, when I was sick — though I usually dragged myself out, etc. BUT RARELY in 5 years).. Or students cancelled. But we weren’t a lesson factory. The old barn I was chastised if I cancelled even if there was a foot of snow on the road, the roads weren’t plowed, and all my students had already cancelled…

But, this past Saturday, I mentioned that there were 3 Saturday’s this summer where I either couldn’t teach (1) or I couldn’t do trail rides (2). One was due to the a business trip (an annual conference where I’m always away for a weekend in May) and the others I was willing to teach, but not do the trail rides that day (if there were trail rides) — 1 for a wedding, the other for a family reunion. My boss was cold but told me to email her the dates.

Yesterday I saw a posting for a trail guide for Saturdays and Sundays. The Saturday shift was my shift. I was suspicious and was debating how to confront her about this. I hadn’t yet done this.

This morning I was fired via text message:

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I have not responded. If I didn’t need my final pay check, I probably wouldn’t reply at all. I instead contacted all my students and told them I would not be teaching any more and answered questions they had as best I could. While the text indicates my students are down, I have the same number of students I had last fall and last summer. I am in no different place then I was last year. So, the excuse is just that, an excuse. Why? I don’t know. My students are upset.

I did let my allies at the barn know because I’m sure some sort of rumor about my departure will come about. What? No idea. I just want people I considered friends to know the truth (and my students). But I’m sure some story exists. I was immediately removed from the barn’s internal facebook group. As was my good friend who also rides with me. I guess she was fired from the barn too…

But I’m once again disillusioned by the horse world. I’ve once again been let down by the horse world. I just want to go hug Subi and Batty and Jiminy and Ranger. I won’t see Ranger this week (stupid conference and I can’t seem to get my lesson rescheduled either). But, there’s a reason why I don’t ever want to work for my current trainer… I don’t want to mess with that relationship.

People are crazy. Horse people are crazy. Maybe I need a new hobby. Any suggestions?

In the meantime, I need a new part time job.

I could go on and on about all the things I disagree with. All the things I would change. But I won’t. I will say, after 5 years of employment, who fires someone via text message? Without a real reason?

I’m done teaching. For good.

Square Peg, Round Hole

So, I have lots to update on, but instead I’m going to stick with what’s grating on my mind. I’ll get to the other, more fun, stuff another day.img_1433

Since my quite spectacular crash off of Batty a few weeks a go, I’ve sort of been questioning a lot of things. Am I asking him to do stuff he can’t do? Am I asking him to do stuff he doesn’t want to do? Am I causing all sorts of problems? Am I causing all of our stopping issues? Is it physical? Is it mental? Is it me? Is it him? Can a pro fix this? What is this? Am I going to get hurt fixing whatever this turns out to be?

So here is the thing about Batty and falls and all of that. Fall happen. I don’t actually care about falling. They come with riding and while we try to avoid them and minimize the risk, the only way to avoid them completely is not to ride. I am not willing to do that. So, it comes down to calculated risks. But, the other side of the coin is Batty has NEVER been consistent over fences. I remember when I first rode him as a green broke 5/6 year old (who was actually we later learned a green broke 2 year old) 12+ years ago wiggling and zooming to jumps and slamming on the breaks, ducking out his hind end… He eventually got more consistent, especially over plain jane crossrails and verticals. But, he’s never been confident or consistent over any jump with build up or anything solid underneath. This horse used to slam on the breaks at a ground pole… So, it should surprise me that we have issues…

Then there is me. Without going into issues, I’m at the point in my life where i need to minimize the risks. I need to avoid too many falls and concussions. I need to avoid head injuries and more concussions. I have too many issues with migraines (and right now am just in a holding pattern until I can get into see neuro in November, but that’s a whole other story). So, this brings me to this week’s lesson…

My trainer has offered me to get on Batty and school him over jumps and I finally took her up on the offer. So, after warming him up on the flat, she got on him to basically see who was the issue. Me or him (I’m quick to always blame myself even though deep down I know the issues I rooted well beyond me). With a lot of the same struggle I have, she schooled him over and over 3 jumps until he was consistent and confident over all 3, licking and chewing. Then I got on and did the same (I was fine for 1 and 2, struggle for 3,  but, that was me). We got through it and then ultimately had a talk.

Trainer basically said it’s amazing I haven’t come off more than I have because when he stops it’s not a normal stopper motion. He swings out his hind end and it comes out of no where. He doesn’t look at the jump, doesn’t drop his head, and doesn’t give warning (well, when we stopped at jump 3, he warned me as we ran out of gas 4 strides out, but that’s different). He’s never going to be consistent. If we jump him daily, he’ll likely get better (aka memorize these jumps), but the second something changes — be it the ring, a jump, etc.–we will be starting over from scratch. So, the advice? We stop trying to jump him. He’s sound. Physically he can do it and more and he can do it easily, but it’s just not for him.

So Saturday we went on a trail ride and soon we’ll start looking for paper chases and stuff like that. Just need to find people to do stuff like this with. We’ll still try and take a lesson here and there to keep up with our flat work, but no more solid ‘hunter’ jumps. That’s just not him. But give him a field to gallop through and he’s a happy horse… Regardless, he’s with me for life.

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So, for the time being, I’m going to take lessons on one of her lesson horses who can pack me around over 2’6″ for the winter and reassess in the spring. We’ll see where I am financially in March. If I have the funds, I might see about putting Subi in training for a month to see what I have. My mom asked right away about Subi but it’s almost October… Why get him in shape just to give him the winter off in 2 months? I know I don’t have the time to commit to what he needs in the winter but I can probably do enough for spring/summer/fall. So, we’ll see. I’m hoping my family will help me out with training. The downside of all of this is, right now he is sound, but he’s 20 in January. Will he be sound back in work? I’m only willing to do so much maintenance to keep him comfortable when I know he’s comfortable retired. So, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. Hopefully we’ll know what he have pretty quickly and can back out of training if he can’t hold up  and I’m happy popping over 2′-2’3″ if that’s all he can do and skipping changes if it keeps him sounder. Hopefully by the spring I’ll be healthier too.