|A book nook as you enter|
|And the whole place smells like books!|
So that is very exciting--one major planning item down. And in contrast to all of the other places we were looking at, all of the details just seem obvious to me with this venue. For example, we are going to go meet the caterers in a few weeks and while I'm down in Baltimore I plan to visit the Book Thing. It's a warehouse with no AC or heat in a semi-sketchy area where you can donate books and take as many as you want for free.
Can we say used books as party favors? Yes, we can. Because really, who wants little knick-knacks with the date someone else got married on them? Or candy that guests will forget to take home? Even if not everyone takes a book, I have NO problem taking the leftovers. I know it's early to be thinking favors, but whatever, I'd rather get little piddly details out of the way sooner.
On the horse front--snow. So. Much. Snow.
Not much riding has been happening, with over a foot of snow this week (not a big deal in some places, but in MD it's crazy!). And there is NO chance the foxhunting thing I planned for next week is going to happen...Betsy at Hunter's Rest in VA said the snow is up to the second rail of her fences! Terrible conditions for riding, trailering, or doing pretty much anything.
Oh well. Money saved I guess...
And on the new horse front...I came to a decision, without really hemming and hawing about it publicly on my blog. Basically, what I did was call several hunt clubs in my area and ask if they knew of any members who had horses for lease--very old school since I'm much more accustomed to being able to search online!
One of the farms I went to was Pleasant Prospect. OH MY GOD. The place is amazing. I didn't take pictures but there's a turf track, ALL kinds of different jumps built into the paddock fences, and everything is absolutely immaculate, from the white fences to the tack room to the grooming supplies. I had seen their ads in the Equiery (our MD horse classifieds magazine) for years and thought I would never be able to afford to ride there. The country club is literally just down the road.
It turned out, though, that the barn manager was really willing to work with me and figure out something that would work for my situation. She put me on a TB named Chapel to see what I could do, and we went on a really fun trail ride, WTC, but no jumping since it was pretty wet. I got mud ALL over my boots, which I had meticulously cleaned since I was meeting her...ha!
She also added something new to my trail-riding toolbelt. With all the dressage I've been doing lately, I had sort of un-trained myself from looking too far ahead. With Midnight, if you're off looking in the distance, he loses focus and reverts back to the attention span of a squirrel. But of course, if you're reacting to hills and dips in the trail just a few strides ahead, it's too late, and you don't have time to half-halt your horse's legs under him to prepare to go down a hill, or put the leg on to go through a water crossing positively. Very good to keep that thinking-ahead mentality in mind.
Ultimately I decided not to go with that farm though. She said that she would be willing to allow me to ride several different horses as part of my lease until I found one I liked, and she would let Byron to ride once he had some lessons, but I think all of her horses (mostly hot, fit Thoroughbreds) would be a bit much for a complete beginner rider. And frankly, I don't think that is exactly what I need as I'm trying to regain confidence and learn a new sport. Maybe down the line I'll return to her when it comes time to buy a horse...
But for now, I went the complete opposite direction.
Meet Polly, the 8 year old Shire cross. Crossed with what, you may ask? Most likely another Shire, going by her size.
She clips. She bathes. She stands tied. She lets you mess with her scratches without trying to kick your face off. Miraculous, compared to (ahem) some horses!!! I'm not the one riding in this picture, but when I was up, we jumped that barrel in the background there, and I took her on a little mini-trail ride around the farm. I got on and off multiple times, made sure she would stand still at the halt, and tested the brakes at the canter. She passed with flying colors as a safe, steady mount. Her owner said that most of her life (aside from the time spent as a PMU mare) has been foxhunting, and she often uses Polly as a guest horse/husband horse.
Of course there are tradeoffs. Her canter is more thunderous than it is smooth. Her carthorse trot is probably never going to approach Midnight's floaty dressage one. She isn't fit right now, so she's reluctant to canter in their indoor arena (something I'm very familiar with from the drafts at Gentle Giants!). And I don't think this barn has a designated "beer:30" area to enjoy a cold one with barn friends.
|It does have a very cute puppy though.|
So that's starting in March! Hopefully good weather will come along with it. With this new lease my expectations have been tempered somewhat too. I don't expect Polly to be a horse I would eventually buy (though who knows), but I do have a specific goal I think I can achieve with her--foxhunting second field.