I have only one piece of advice for any would be farm owners: either buy a place with no arena and budget to put one in or buy a place with a pristine arena. Never, ever buy a place with an arena that needs renovated. The work never ends.
When I last left off I had been raking by hand for like an eternity, ok it was closer to 20 hours but it felt like an eternity, and cashed my chips in to hire a professional. Professional came on a weekday when I was at work and dug everything up removing the big clumps as he went.
When I got home the arena looked like this
And we had a new play area for Wyatt
Yup. That’s all the garbage he took out of the arena. No way I was going to get that out by hand raking before I died. He charged us just over $1,000 and left me with an arena free of major clumps and needing some grading and smoothing work. Since our groomer does that, I didn’t really want to pay him to do it.
The next weekend I got in there with the groomer and had a semi finished arena that was smooth, but still needed some leveling work as the extra footing he added was too thick in one region and the entire rim by the fence was pretty thin.
If you look closely you can see where I piled up the extra footing and planned to move it all towards the left side of the arena where it was pretty sparse.
Except then I needed to mow the pastures and we only have one tractor which meant taking the groomer off and changing it out for the bush hog. After 10 days went past I saw that while 3/4s of the arena still looked gorgeous, the far left side from front to back was back to growing grass.
I muttered many choice words about the old owner not dragging the damn thing in six years and went about spending three hours putting round up on the grass. Two days later I went back in with the groomer to rip up the dead grass and move footing around.
Then it rained me out and it is about 90% done as of today. With thunderstorms in the forecast the rest of the week this thing won’t be getting done anytime soon. The good news is that while there are a few deep spots and thin areas, the arena is 100% rideable and since I now know every inch of t like the back of my hand it is really easy to go around the few remaining deeper areas.
I started the renovation back in March. It is now May. I won’t have it done to the point that I want it at until June. And even then I have the feeling that we will be fighting this for years until I can afford to just rip the entire thing out and have someone come in and redo it all. The biggest issue is that I don’t think it was put in correctly in the first place. There is no true “base” with drainage and gravel. The good thing is that the arena dries up very quickly and doesn’t really puddle anywhere. Even after a hard storm it is dry and rideable within a day. But the lack of a true base allows vegetation to grow pretty quickly.
I think the old owners just graded a section flat and smothered it with sand figuring nothing would grow through it all. Wrong.
But I have a working arena again and a safe place to ride. Well, minus the massive hole in the arena fence where I may have ran the bucket on the tractor through it. We won’t talk about that though.
Now if the rain could just go away until I’m back at work I could ride the new guy in there!
He is home!!!! I’m so so so excited to start this new chapter in my riding life. I owe so much to Gem and she has a forever home with me chilling in the pasture, hiding behind trees and/or Pete when the trailer gets hooked up and carrying me down the trail, but it is long past time to start seeing the world between a different set of ears. Um…a rather large set of ears.
(Side note: I’m on vacation all the week and can’t figure out how to add captions on the mobile app so this is what you get 🙂
Eeyore passed his PPE with sound flexions however there were some concerns on his front feet xrays that dashed my hopes for another barefoot wonder horse and may have an impact on his longevity, but weren’t enough to preclude low level eventing and hanging out with me for a good long time.
He was a saint for the very long process of waiting for the vet to show up (nearly two hours late) and all the prodding, trotting and X-ray-ing that followed. His personality is just the best. A nice combination of inquisitive and people oriented without being pushy.
The best part though? Well, obviously besides having an awesome new horse to get to know?
I was due to arrive an hour early so I pulled over in a Walmart parking lot about 15 minutes away and texted KC remembering that she lived up that way. Being the perfect friend any horse loving woman needs in her life, she responded that she was only 25 minutes away and would be right over! The two hours waiting for the vet plus the time with the vet and the stress of deciding what to do with the information I had received was all made much more enjoyable bu her company. Thanks KC for coming out!
When I went to get him Sunday, he loaded right up although I could tell he wasn’t sure about how to use the ramp and unloaded at home a little worried but none the worse for wear. It didn’t help that it was nearing 100F.
I put him out in the back pasture by himself to stretch his legs and get some time on the grass. He was in a dirt paddock at his last place so I want to introduce him slowly to the grass.
Of course I immediately texted Trainer to set up our first lesson together. I’m giving him some days off to get acquainted with his new digs before asking anything of him.
I was a little worried I wouldn’t be able to catch him again, but he put those fears to rest very quickly. As soon as I got near the pasture his ears perked up and he came running to meet me. I put him inside for a few hours to cool off and relax off the grass.
He then got to go back out for a while before coming in for the night. I’m hoping to get him out with Gem and Pete 24/7 by the weekend since then I’ll be back to work and he will either be stalled all day or out all day. I can’t get home to move him.
He continues to be super easy to be around. He is a little mouthy but not in a mean biting sort of way. More in the steal your hat, grab your phone out of your pocket and dump and mouthful of water down your back silly kind of way. Having had aloof Gem and scared Pete for the last near decade, this is all new territory for me. It’s fun! And a bit annoying. But mostly fun!
We will see how he settles in over the next couple of days and then I’ll hop on him in a lesson to see where we are starting from. More on my thoughts about that later.
For now I’m just so excited to be starting this next chapter with a really cool horse !
First a little background information because, oddly enough, the path to becoming a certified foot surgeon apparently is not common knowledge. To get to where I am today I had to go through undergrad followed by four years of podiatric medical school and a three year surgical residency. Like any other schooling, there were tests, midterms, and finals along the way. Unlike other schooling paths, there were also a whole slew of national board examinations to pass. These are the important ones, since failing any meant no licensing and therefore no work regardless of getting a diploma. My medical school diploma really grants me a whole lot of nothing except the ability to sit for more tests. Yay!
Here are all the boards I have taken since 2006:
Part 1 NBPME (National Board of Podiatric Medicine Examination)/USMLE Equivalent (no clue what this stands for) Boards – didactic (multiple choice, academia based questions like any other standardized style test) examination. Taken after 2 years in medical school and based on the fundamentals: pharmacology, pathology, biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, and some other classes I no longer remember.
Part 2 NBPME- didactic examination taken at the end of the 4th year of medical school. Covers podiatry specific topics including medicine, surgery, biomechanics, physical therapy, sports medicine and on and on.
Part 3 NBPME- didactic examination which basically covers everything part 2 does only more surgical based. I was never sure why we had to take this, but I assume it is for money reasons. This is either taken right after 2 or after 1 year of residency depending on the state you do your residency in. Passing this part grants you your license to practice medicine and perform simple in office procedures (removing ingrown nails, warts, removing soft tissue masses and the like).
Thankfully, after passing all three of those, you no longer have to give your money to the NBPME. However, you still aren’t done giving away your money to take tests. While in residency, every single year you take the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery Training Exam. My residency paid for this each time which was a nice bonus and I took it a total of 3 times by the time I graduated. This is the important test series for my current story.
These exams are two parts. Part 1 is the run of the mill standardized didactic multiple choice test on all things surgery: peri-operative management, surgical principles, complications, post-operative care and a slew of other topics. Easy to study for as long as you don’t mind going through phone book sized texts, online practice exams and articles. Part 2 is a whole other beast. It is a computer simulation of patients. The exam gives a brief, and incredibly not helpful, presentation of the patient. From there you have 15 minutes to perform an exam (there is a drop down menu of items to select from such as “palpate the fifth toe” and “range of motion ankle joint”), order any pertinent labs and imaging studies, diagnose the patient, provide treatment, get a complication, diagnose the complication, and finally treat the complication. I could go on about the specifics of the test and how it sets everyone up for failure, but I won’t bore you all with that.
By the time you graduate from residency you will have taken this three times (in addition to the three boards taken to get to residency) and each time the test format is the same: three hours to do the didactic portion followed by three additional hours to take the computer based portion (CBPS). You kind of get into the groove of this test after the first couple of times.
Then right before you graduate residency, typically in May, you take the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery Qualifying Foot Exam which is the exact same format as the training tests, only this time residency doesn’t pay for it (it costs over $2,000 for those who were curious) and passing this gives you the right to do foot surgery on your own after graduation. You can also, and I did, take the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery Qualifying Reconstructive Rearfoot and Ankle Exam, another two parter only focused solely on reconstruction of the rearfoot and ankle. The qualification lasts 7 years during which you perform surgery and collect cases until you have performed 65 foot cases and an additional 30 ankle cases if you decide to sit for those as well. While I passed both exams, in SC I am not permitted to do ankle work (a highly political discussion about scope of practice could occur here but I won’t), so while I am qualified in ankle surgery I wont ever be certified in it.
Ok..everyone caught up? To date I have taken 8 sets of boards with the last 5 all being two parts didactic and CBPS.
This morning was my American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery Certification Foot Exam . I had submitted all my cases way back in March and now was time for the computer part. Registration was last November and the cost was equivalent to prior tests (around $1,600 if I recall correctly). Come January I started studying, slowly ramping up through March when I hit the panic button, ceased all extra curricular activities including riding and spent every night for two hours from 8-10 pm studying before bed. I made note cards on topics that would not stick. I had a journal filled with notes from text books I poured over. I stressed. And stressed some more. I then found an online practice test bank, shelled out $250 for access, and proceeded to take nearly 3,000 questions over the course of 6 weeks.
I was focused. I was determined.
You can just imagine my reaction then when I sat down to take this test this morning and saw on the screen “Welcome to the CBPS exam”. I paused.
Then I panicked! I had signed up for only half the test! Where was the didactic portion?? I had spent close to 200 hours studying for it. What was going on? Can I take only half a test?? What was I doing???
Having only 15 minutes per case, I set aside the panic and settled in for the torture that is the CBPS exam and three hours later I exited the exam center, grabbed my cell phone and immediately logged into my ABFAS account to see where on earth I screwed up.
Turns out there is no didactic portion to the certification exam. Unlike the prior 8 tests of the same name and under the same board of examiners which were all two part tests, this one was only the CBPS. You can’t study for the CBPS. It is impossible to. There are no academic questions. No anesthesia, classification systems, pharmacology etc…questions. Let me repeat this…YOU CAN NOT STUDY FOR THIS TEST.
The 200 hours, the lack of sleep, the no riding, the weekends spent reading and taking notes? USELESS. Utterly, devastatingly useless.
I’m not really sure whether to laugh or cry to be honest. My days are pulled in so many directions at all times… mother, physician, boss, business owner, wife, farm work, hobby equestrian…that it is a wonder I get anything right. I know that if I did fail this time, when I go to retake it next year I won’t be making this mistake again and will instead cruise on up to the test hoping for the best.
I suppose it really doesn’t matter now anyway. It is over with. Friday I go pick up E if he passes the PPE and all next week I am on vacation. I took it off as a reward for all my hard studying. HA!!! Oh man. Don’t be me folks. Seriously, I can’t get over this incredible journey and the fact that it was 100% unnecessary and even worse, not helpful in the slightest. I would have performed the exact same without all that studying. It boggles my mind al the stressing I did for nothing. I guess it is better to over prepare than under, but man my life has been a self imposed suck fest for months!! It would have all been worth it to pass the test and settle in for 10 blissful years boards free, but for it all to amount to nothing? For it all to be for naught? Ugh. I think I may settle in tonight with my bottle of a friend’s homemade toasted marshmallow wine (delicious by the way) and try to forget this day ever happened.
The PPE is scheduled for Friday. Hopefully it goes better than the last one. I’m not sure I have the money in my budget for a third PPE. Who knew it would be so expensive to not buy a horse?
All your positive thoughts are much needed and appreciated!
As it grows nearer I find myself growing a bit nervous. Not about E. I’m super excited about him. He is a pretty great match for my current needs and skill set. It’s just…well… I’ve had Gem for nearly 8 years now and that’s a pretty long time to get to know her. I’ve ridden her for thousands of miles and spent hundreds of hours on her back.
I know that mare inside and out. I can tell you just how fast we are going by the feeling of my posting. I know each hoof fall and how it should feel. I know how much she eats and drinks. I know when she will be hot and grumpy versus frisky and ready to go. I know her breathing.
For her part Gem knows the rules of being here. She knows what is expected of her in every situation. When to stand still and when to move. She knows to slow down around Wyatt. She can read my own moods and actions. There are so many little things that she does that I take for granted but in actuality rook years of effort to get to such as trailering well and settling in after traveling like a pro.
Getting a new horse, any horse, will be starting all over with that. It’s going to take a long time to learn everything all over again. To build that level of knowledge. One thing endurance is great at is getting you to know your horse and maybe I will dabble in some 25s just for that fact. There is very little guessing when they aren’t quite right. I could tell when every hoof was hitting normally in all circumstances. When tripping meant too long of a hind toe. When being sluggish was due to attitude or health.
I’m nervous about entering into the unknown. About questioning everything because I don’t know what his normal is. I’m excited to start learning everything about him, whether that is E or another horse, and building this relationship again but I’m also nervous. I tend to always think I’m braking my horse. its an annoying internal dialogue that goes along the lines of “Gem stumbled a bit…is she off…is she lame and I don’t know it…I’m asking too much..she can’t possibly work this hard…there she did it again…I’m hurting her…etc….”
The 100 miler killed most of that off with her. After we completed that I figured that she could handle most of anything else I was asking of her, well physically at least. Knowing myself though, this inner dialogue will return with new horse until I figure out what exactly the normal is and what all the horse can do.
It’s hard to step out of the bubble I’ve created over the last 8 years. Sure Gem is hard and tricky and sometimes a pain in the butt, but I know what I’m getting with her. I know her reactions. I know what will spook her and how she will react. Learning a new horse, especially one the polar opposite of what I’m used to, is going to be a huge learning curve.
Not only am I going to have to learn his way of going and his body, but while doing so I’m going to have to learn to let go of the things I learned with Gem. Not all of them because so many lessons she taught me made me a better rider, but it also taught me to be distrustful and defensive. This particular horse doesn’t need that. Trainer tells me I have to give permission for Gem to do what I ask however at least 50% of the time she doesn’t do it so it is hard to let go. The new guy in town should, if his history and my test ride pan out to be good predictors, do the thing by his very nature. Punishing him for doing what I ask will not be a good thing and I’ll need to trust him as we grow together.
Partnerships take time to create. I know that. It took 3 years with Gem for her to open up to me.
I’m nervous. And excited. And ready for the future.
It dawned on at 6 pm with another hour of travel to go that maybe this was a stupid idea. I was alone with only the most vague sense of where I was going, it was super late and would only be later by the time all this was done and I was on my way home and I should be studying. As I got through the last of the Charlotte area rush hour traffic and saw that I was finally drawing near the end, I texted Dusty the address just in case it was some serial killer ploy to get half sane horse women to his home and I never came back. You never know.
What was I doing travelling for nearly 3 hours up I85 after work on a Wednesday? Going to meet a horse, of course.
I had seen the ad for E three weeks, maybe even four weeks, prior on one of the many horse sales sites like dream horse or equine now etc… I really liked the sound of the ad and the pictures that accompanied it, but the seller never answered my email or text. I gave up and kept looking. Monday morning I came across two interesting things:
A was back up for sale under a new name, same pictures and same price. Interesting. I was tempted to comment asking if the RF navicular issue was resolved, but took the high road hoping he would potentially land in a safe spot eventually.
I also saw an ad for a really great looking gelding that sounded vaguely familiar. Looking through the pictures I recognized his face. It was E! I tagged Trainer and contacted the seller. She quickly replied to me that day and we set up a time for Tuesday evening to go meet him. Then she messaged me that evening pushing me back to Wednesday and I was frustrated. She had someone else wanting to look at him Tuesday afternoon and I was not happy, but I really liked the look of him. Honestly, I sorta wrote him off at that point figuring whoever was looking at him Tuesday afternoon would purchase him.
Wednesday at lunch I messaged her to verify he was still available and he was! Which is what led to me fighting traffic all the way up to a small town in NC late into the evening.
So who is this horse?
E is a 7 year old 15.2H registered Appaloosa gelding hailing from Canada. The current owner has had him since August making him the most well known of all the horses I had seen to date. He was some grand champion of the hunter world up there until he was sold to SC. I’m not sure why he was sold but I know he was purchased due to his calm demeanor and willing attitude by the current owner. Since last summer he has been teaching kids and wimpy adults like me the basics of w/t/c and going over small jumps. He has also been extensively trail ridden, taken over logs and ditches and worked on cows. He was a pretty good all around type of guy.
Going in I was a little hesitant just because I’m not typically a fan of the Appy. Not that I have much personal experience its just that the flimsy hair and the look they have in the eye like they always are throwing shade at you has been a bit off putting to me.
I arrived 30 minutes late thanks to all the traffic and MVAs I passed and the owner was very generous about it. It was 7pm, but she wasn’t in a rush and let me look him over and say hello. In fact, she was the best seller to date. She immediately asked me what I was wanting in a horse, what I was going to be doing with him and what the living situation would be. She informed me that he can crib if left in a stall for multiple days but keeping hay in front of him stops it. He didn’t crib on the fence line out in pasture and didn’t suck wind. She filled me in on his background and that he was a bit picky about bit choices and was currently going in a D ring Myler.
The first thing I noticed was that he was fat. Like jiggling in places he shouldn’t be fat. Other than that he looked really well put together, had a lovely head and a soft, fluffy nose I couldn’t get enough of. Gem has a tiny little Arab nose and for some reason I was addicted to petting his soft, fuzzy muzzle. He didn’t mind at all and came in for some pretty epic head cuddles.
She had her working student get on him to show him w/t/c and over jumps. She warned me that he did prefer the left lead in canter and that her student is bad going right and I noticed that he was a bit sticky going right but did pick it up and picked it up willingly after the jumps.
What I really liked though was how steady he was. He did what she asked and didn’t seem to need nagging, crops and spurs but also wasn’t ripping her arms out. Kinda of do the thing but with the least energy expenditure as possible type. The ring was filled with gorgeous jumps: painted butterflies, black silhouettes of cowboys and cowgirls, and pine trees. Things I wouldn’t be brave enough to get Gem over with all the pretty colors and solid planks.
When it was my turn, I did my typical get on, walk and halt. I always make sure I have brakes. Some things are negotiable, but brakes are not. He had a really nice halt, but even better he walked back off without me having to get after him. This pretty much was true for my entire test ride. He was responsive to everything without being over reactive or tense. Once I asked for something, he did it until I asked for something else. Which was awesome until I started talking and forgot to really steer and then he basically tried to leave the arena because, well I didn’t tell him not to and it was in our path. Oops. Sorry big fella!
His canter was amazing. The canter transition is my nemesis. I get so tense due to all my time with Gem and her flying off on me, that I ask to canter but hold back and it falls apart. With E, all I did was sit tall and barely brush my heel against him and we were cantering. Slowly. And in control.
Magic pixie dust was in the air.
After that I decided to jump him. Now, with every other horse I have tried I only felt comfortable asking over a single tiny cross rail and pretty much immediately pulled them up afterward. I’m a wimp. With E I immediately pointed him at the butterfly combo and he was very unimpressed with it, barely taking the time to trot it. So I came back around and put my leg on and really pushed him. He still was a bit awkward and no where near as fluid as with the young rider, but he went over. After that I came around and took the black plank. All on my own without my Trainer there to force me.
Bravery…I found it.
After that I was done. I really liked him. I liked his stocky build. I liked his calm yet inquisitive nature. I felt he would be a good fit for me and Wyatt could even ride him if he wanted to some day.
I have a video that the student grabbed for me but it is 7 minutes long and taking forever to upload.
So….I paid my deposit!!!
The PPE isn’t until the 11th and I’m holding off anything super exciting in my mind until then. I didn’t see any outward issues, Trainer did notice anything in the videos and he has a pretty easy past history so fingers crossed this one passes. If not, I may get into mountain biking instead.
Ok, so I know I said no TBs or WBs, but….I made the appointment to see this horse prior to coming to that realization and he was only 30 minutes from me. His ad read nicely for 90% of it and then BAM!…at the very end “needs an experienced rider”. Huh. I messaged the owner to see why when the rest of the ad was perfect, ammy friendly blabber. Turned out she put that in there to put off lesson program types. Or so she said.
You get no media of this horse because I wasn’t in the mood.
D is a 16.1H WB/TB cross and is 11 years old. Currently schooling 3′ at home with a nice jumping record. He had been cross country schooling with a can do attitude. Great w/t/c. He was being sold due to her daughter getting out of horses.
I sent her my usual blast of questions: can he handle a 2 day a week home ride/2 lessons a month/2 shows a year life style? Is he confident over fences? Any major vices? Etc…I’m pretty specific and annoying, but it has weeded out a lot of horses that I would have otherwise wasted my time seeing.
Everything came back peachy, so I made the appointment to see him. Then it got rained out. And rained out again. Finally last weekend it was sunny and the ground dry enough so Dusty, Wyatt and I made the trip.
As soon as I saw him I knew it was a nope. He was big, he had a worried look in his eye, was petrified of Wyatt being anywhere near him and it turned out her daughter wasn’t getting out of horses but was in fact scared of him. Lovely little lie there in the ad.
Since we made the trip I let her show him off. Only the girl would only flat him. She was too scared to jump him. Red flag!!! No way I was going to if he owner wouldn’t. I also found out from the BM, who was present much to the chagrin of the seller, that he does best in a 5-6 day a week program, tended to bolt between fences and would probably be best in ears plugs.
Thanks for all the lies lady. I mean, what did she expect? I’d see a horse and buy it anyway just because?? Good thing they were close.
I did get on and walk/trot but was way too nervous to do anything else and I sure wasn’t gong to jump him. I got off telling her that there was no way I was buying this horse.
But…the nice thing is that it confirmed that I do not want a flashy TB or WB or any variation thereof. I’m sure that horse could clean house at shows with the right rider, but I am not that rider.
I’m continuing to search but honestly I feel a bit deflated. There is just nothing out there that I want. I have time. I keep telling myself to be patient. Its getting old though and I only just began!
This month saw the most diversity in volunteering with a total of 30.5 hours given back and four participants getting out there!! Emma, Amy, Bette and KC you are all awesome!
Thank you for everyone who has participated thus far and for the rest of you – GET OUT THERE!!!
April is a random drawing month with everyone who submitted any amount of hours getting an equal chance at winning the prize of roughly $20 value. I put all four names in the online random name draw thing and the winner is:
Congrats on the win! I already have your info from your February win and this month I decided to go a little different route.
Your prize for getting out there and getting it done is a $20 gift card to Road ID. If you aren’t familiar, these are custom wrist bands that contain your medical information and emergency contact information. I have one and love it. I rarely ride away from home without it on and I know all the shows around me allow it in place of the arm band. While I generally do not like gift cards, I do not know what information you would want on it or what style you would prefer. The card should cover the basic band and plaque and I am pretty sure there are coupon codes out there (the sponsor The Bad Eventer if you follow her and I think Amanda had a post about a code as well at one point). I’ll forward the e gift card your way!
May starts today, so everyone else, step up and get your volunteering in. This month should mark full blown competition in all regions for pretty much all disciplines. No excuses!!! Give back to the sports you love.