December 1: It’s official! Nine horses will be going to Florida, to a brand-new barn that we’ll have all to ourselves. Awesome. I’ll bring down one working student—conveniently also named Lauren—and hire someone local to do stalls for us. It’ll be a lot of work, but it’ll be OK.
December 5: Well, now there are only seven stalls available. Thankfully, a farm just down the road has two available, so while it’s a bummer to have horses in two places, we’ll make it work.
December 10: Just kidding, it’s now 10 horses. Whatever, we’ll make it work.
December 20: Um, now it’s 11 horses. Way too much for one working student. PANIC.
December 27: After placing ads everywhere and generally freaking out, I commandeer my newest hire, Kiersten, into coming to Florida, and staying with a client, who is amazing. And to fill Kiersten’s spot at home, I've drafted a friend of assistant trainer Natasha’s, who’s an eventer by trade, but with a hurt horse, three months of dressage in a big indoor with perfect footing is just what the doctor ordered. A winning situation for everyone, and we’re all ready to go!
December 30: One of those 11? A sale horse, who sells at the 11th hour, to clients already in our barn. What a way to end the year! We finalize the details and hit the road for our two-day drive.
December 31, 7 a.m.: A phone call from Michael. “So… you’re arriving today?”
This can’t be good.
The farm is so brand new that it’s not actually finished. The structure is, of course, but the stalls don’t yet have mats, the tackroom has bare walls, the paddocks don’t have gates… there’s a lot of things left to do. But my hat goes off to them, because by the time we arrive at 4 p.m., almost all the stalls are matted, we have two working paddocks, and things are mostly ready to go.
6 p.m.: In the process of unhooking my trailer, I drove my truck up a little bump, causing the hitch of my Jamco trailer to rip the lining out of my BRAND NEW, 1,500-miles-on-it truck’s tailgate. My last act of 2016 is this. What a champion.
January 1, 2 p.m.: From Home Depot: screw eyes, lumber for the tack room, trash cans. From Target: white boards, drying racks, laundry detergent… and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.
January 6: And slowly but surely, the chaos recedes. The tack room is coming together. The other two paddocks have gates that will, I hope, be put on at some point. I can start riding, and everyone feels pretty good.
The remaining six horses of our merry band arrive on the transport, and settle in well. And I have my first lessons, and get to remark on how far I’ve come in a year, because 12 months ago I couldn’t really get Ella honestly on the bit or in front of my leg at the same time, and I was making Michael ride Danny because he was being pretty naughty and freaking me out.
So Florida, 2017: it’s on! Now if only the tack room had a floor.