About a month before the twins were due, I received a Facebook message. I’m too lazy to look up the actual wording, but the basic idea was this:
“Hey Becky, I know you’re going to have your hands full with twins and you probably won’t get as much horse time as you want over the next few months, so if you ever wanted to board out here, we’d be open to the idea. We have plenty of turnout….”
The message wasn’t all that thrilling in and of itself – it was who it was from that made me all hand flappy with excitement.
You guys remember how excitable I was back in 2012 when I started researching barns around my new home in Oregon?
Remember how I wrote that one post where I went and called dibs on all the pretty Morgans that lived on a Morgan horse farm right by me?
Remember how I was drooling over contestant # 1 in my last post?
If you’re friends with me on Facebook, remember how I’ve been peppering my feed with constant updates about the horses over at Scandia Morgan Horse Farm, sighing and drooling?
Well, it was that farm who reached out to me.
I’d met the owner when I first came into town and had a chance to go out and groom a couple of times, but life got in the way of me doing anything more so I had to kind of drool from a distance.
Fast forward four years (can you believe I’ve already lived in Oregon for four years?!), and she wrote to me.
I sat on my answer for days, because I was completely torn.
On the one hand, Scandia Morgans was not only closer to me, it offered more turnout and was… well, let’s face it. It’s a stunning barn chock full of stunning Morgans. Boarding at a place like that would be like The Bean getting a call from a parking garage in Portland, offering him a chance to park his car in an Aston-Martin-Only Parking garage.
And yes, the only reason I put that metaphor in there is because I’m still trying to explain to The Bean how excited I am over what just happened. After close to 9 years together he gets a glazed look every time I start talking horse, but he still reads my blog, so I’ve got to work with what I’ve got.
Aston Martins, Bean. Scandia Morgan Horse Farm is the horse equivalent of a barn full of Aston Martins.
Anyways, like I said, I sat on my answer for days. On the hand, all of the above…
But on the other hand, I was about to give birth to twins, and should I really rock the boat? I loved my current barn, and Caspian was receiving great care, and we’d already been there for almost two years. What if something happened and the new situation wasn’t a good fit? What if Caspian decided to tear around his new pasture in the middle of winter and slip and slide through a fence, causing tons of vet bills at a time when we could least afford them?
What if, what if, what if?
I finally decided to regretfully decline the offer, mostly out of fear of the unknown.
Fast forward a couple of month.
I had Caspian in the cross ties, grooming him after one of my too-infrequent trips to the barn when the barn owner came up to break the news. There was no rush, but she wanted to let me know that they were going to slowly be shutting down the barn to boarders. Too much work for too little income… they were making decent money by offering up the indoor arena to clinics instead…. there was no rush but maybe I could start looking around for a new barn, etc, etc….
I raced home, logged onto Facebook, and shot out a message as fast as my fingers could type. Was the offer still open? Was there still space available? I knew she wasn’t going to be a boarding barn, but had been hoping to only have one or two friends keep their horses with her, so I was really worried I’d missed my opportunity and she’d already found someone else.
As luck would have it (in case you haven’t already figured it out) guess who just became the newest horse at Scandia Morgan Horse farm this morning? 🙂 🙂 🙂
Guys, are you hearing this? I GET TO BOARD WITH AND HANG OUT AND SCRATCH AND LOVE ON THE HORSES I’VE BEEN DROOLING OVER FOR FOUR YEARS.
It was a little bittersweet saying goodbye to the old barn, since I’d had such a great time there, loved the care he received, and had spent more than two years boarding there…. but this new situation is too, too perfect for words.
The best part about the whole situation is that it’s not really a boarding barn. The only horses there who aren’t Scandia Morgans are Caspian, and one other lady’s Morgans. I know it sounds kind of antisocial to be so excited about the lack of sociability at this barn…..
But while I don’t mind chatting with other boarders, when I get the rare chance to spend some time with my horse, that’s usually what I like doing – spending time with my horse. I don’t mind talking with people I know, but at a busy barn you’re not only obligated to remember names (something I’m terrible at), you’re also obligated to make a lot of small talk with semi-strangers (something I’m equally terrible at.) If I’m paying a babysitter or using up spouse points by getting some kid-free time, I’d rather spend my time riding or just enjoying the peace that horses bring, rather than sitting on a hay bale and talking, you know?
Wait… where was I, before I got all “get off my lawn” about being sociable at the barn?
Ah, yes. So, today I moved Caspian to his new barn. Although he had a minute or two of hollering out his welcome to the other horses during the long driveway up, by the time I unloaded him he was acting like he’d been living there for years.
That’s not to say there wasn’t a lot of nervous snorting and blowing – there was plenty of that going on…. but it was being done by the other horses as I led him down the aisles.
Horses may not see the same color as humans, but they certainly notice the lack of it. Most of the young stock had never seen a grey horse before, and they were really unnerved by the giant, white, lumbering “ghost”.
His stall inside is a private box stall – but after he settles in, if he gets along with the other horses, he can actually spend a lot of his time out in the pasture (as long as the weather holds, but still, hooray!).
And, oh, what a pasture it is.
I think this is technically the mare/foal field, but they all pretty much look the same brand of amazing.
In fact, the whole setup is kind of like the barns I used to daydream about when I was a little girl – all red siding and tidy aisleways, neatly hanging turnout blankets, and brass nameplates.
All the horses in the box stalls (they do rotational turnout) have happy expressions and move right up to come say hello/beg for scratches. I find that so telling – it’s unnerving to walk into a barn full of horses with sour expressions.
I may have even taken Caspian for a little walk around the barn simply so I could hear the delicious clop-clop of his hooves on the concrete driveway leading up. There’s just something about that sound, you know?
The apple trees on the property are producing – any of the apples that fall to the ground are fair game to feed to the horses.
In addition to an indoor arena, there’s a sizeable outdoor round pen right outside of his barn. The footing was great – there were a few stray clumps of grass that had grown up in it since nobody had used it recently, which is just mind-boggling to me after having grown up using barns where there would be a line three horses deep to use a teensy, tiny turnout. After letting Caspian mosey around his box stall for a little to see if he seemed upset (he didn’t), I took him to the round pen and asked him for a few laps.
I expected him to blow around, high-headed and snorty with the newness…. but he seemed really at ease.
I couldn’t believe how calm Caspian was – here he was in a completely new barn, and he was acting like he’d been living there for years.
That’s not to say he didn’t cause a bit of a ruckus. In addition to the “HOLY CRAP WHAT IS THAT THING?!” snorts from some of the younger horses, one of the younger fillies who was in the middle of a training session was so unimpressed with him that they had to take a break mid-lesson to come introduce her and prove that the Terrifying Grey Thing was actually a horse, so she could focus on her work.
As the two of them sniffed noses I remarked to the owner how at ease he was, and she brought up that she thinks horses can tell when they’ve landed in a nice spot…. and I agree. It’s like Caspian took one look around and said, “Oh, yeah, this is just great. This is really great,” and settled right in.
He’s come a long ways from the tooth-grinding, quietly nervous horse he was when I arrived. Don’t get me wrong – my parents treated him amazing and his nervousness in new places didn’t come from them – but at new barns he always acted a bit concerned that the rug was going to be pulled out from underneath him at any moment, that he might end up with a not-so-nice home. The first time I moved him he ground his teeth for weeks, and chewed on the wood in his stall. When we moved to the last stall he only ground his teeth a couple of times, and nibbled politely.
This is the fourth barn he’s been to since he’s been with me, and I think he’s beginning to let himself believe that just because he changes barns doesn’t mean he’s going to get a new owner with a completely new set of rules.