Jan. 1: It’s 2018! Good riddance 2017, you unmitigated disaster, you complete dumpster fire, you. This is going to be a great year. It’s all turning around from here!
Jan. 2: In the course of unloading hay into our Florida barn, I slip, land on a wheelbarrow handle, and break my nose.
Nevertheless, things are looking up.
I made it to Florida without anything blowing up. The farm I’m renting this year is gorgeous, private, and QUIET. And the horses all settled in beautifully. (Award for Best Behaved on Day 1: Fiero. Award for Biggest Asshat on Day 1: Helio, my mom’s delightful palomino Lusitano, who is NOT allowed to behave like an asshat, but it was minor and he apologized and was a peach on Day 2.) As this is year eight for me coming to Florida in some capacity, I know my way around, and I’ve got the unpacking down to a science, so it was swift and relatively painless (though my nose begs to differ), and we got up and running quickly.
With Swagger staying home and with Hurricane (who looks FANTASTIC, good lord what a horse) at Michael’s, I’ve just got Danny and Puck with me, plus eight client-owned horses, almost all experienced and worldly travelers, and (relatively) responsible adults. It’s a pleasure of a group. With the foul temperatures at home everyone’s basically been off since Christmas, so I didn’t feel any regrets in putting them to work expeditiously.
And all have felt great, even Puck, who was remarkably non-wild. He reminds me SO much of Johnny—also by the KWPN stallion Johnson—in that he’s essentially a very large Jack Russell Terrier, constantly vibrating with enthusiasm.
He differs from Johnny in his baby horse “naughty” mechanism: as a kid Johnny would freeze, twirl and bolt, whereas Puck freezes and scoots backwards like an idiot, but other than giving palm fronds (which, admittedly, are unlike anything he’s ever seen before) the stink eye, he really has settled in remarkably well. He gives this sitting-on-a-powder-keg feeling that I will love when he’s a 12-year-old Grand Prix horse, but for now just makes me roll my eyes.
I continue to be delighted with the end result of the down time he had over the summer, and how it was, ironically, the best thing that could have happened, because he’s straighter and more honest in the contact now. He’s got oodles more development of topline to do, and he’s SO big (17.2 hands, I put a stick on him before we left) and SO powerful (in every direction) that I’m not making any judgements about his potential yet, but this I do now know: whether he ends up being a rockstar for me, or he ends up being a very quality FEI horse to sell to someone else, he’s going to be a delightful ride. He makes himself round from tail to ears so easily now, and “go” is never going to be a problem. What a fun dude.
Danny also settled in well, and is resuming his life of small paddock turnout and walking until we get the all-clear to resume his riding life post-colic surgery, which should be at the end of February. But the real reason I was so itchy to get him down here was to have access to an aqua treadmill, which we can haul into a few days a week.
He’s gone twice as of this writing, figured it out right quick (he’s terribly smart, though Sharn Wordley, the owner of the facility, tells me that no horse has struggled to figure it out), and I’m so excited to see how much it improves his body condition. The treadmill will get a blog of its own, but suffice to say that if anyone would like to give me a few hundred thousand dollars to build such a thing I’d take it, because it’s AWESOME.
And that’s that. The first few days here are always spent running around like idiots, catching up with old friends (“Hi! What are you showing?” “Nothing! What are you showing?”), and then scooting off to Home Depot or Target to get things we need (Garbage cans! Scissors! Toilet paper!). I know some folks lead a glamorous existence down here; I find that mine is really the same amount of work as at home, just with nicer temperatures.
But I’ll take it. It feels like progress towards goals that got stalled in 2017. And it’s all looking up. (Now let me stick this ice pack back on my face.)