Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Final Thoughts

I’ve been back from Aiken for a couple days now, and have been mulling over my time there.  First, I made the drive back with no issues, thank goodness!  My 14 year old truck made the over one thousand mile roundtrip like a trooper.  One of my biggest concerns when planning this trip was the drive down and back, so I was quite happy that went ok.   
Highlights from Aiken:
-           A fantastic jumping lesson with Olympian Boyd Martin
-          Educational and exciting cross-country school on both Catty and Ianto at a remarkable venue
-          Successful and fun first event of the year on Catty, Sporting Days photos
-          Ianto gaining confidence, and being much bolder about jumping
-          Chatting in the evenings with International riders and top-level grooms, very cool
-          Getting to ride different horses, which was educational, and allowed me to really work on my position
-          Hacking out when the weather was warm and sunny, it was lovely riding out in the quiet countryside surrounded by pine trees
-          The footing, seriously, this was a major highlight after dealing with so much mud in Virginia this winter, the nice sandy soil was a huge benefit
Surprises from Aiken:
-          I learned that the fulltime horse life is definitely not for me, while it’s wonderful as a hobby, I don’t ever want it to be my job
-          The slower pace of the south, being from the DC area I kind of live on fast forward, and it sure took some adjustment getting used to everything moving at an unhurried pace
-          The temperatures really aren’t that warm, while the afternoons could warm-up nicely, I was quite shocked how cold the mornings were
-          Hay prices, yikes, I realized how lucky I am to get alfalfa for $5.50 a bale here, the cost of hay there is truly shocking
-          Cell phone signal, I could not believe how poor the cellphone service was there, it was very aggravating constantly having no signal
-          What passes for driveways, basically sand paths with horrid gullies, I was shocked my trailer didn’t bottom out on some of them 
Overall, my time in Aiken was certainly an adventure and really got me prepped for the spring season.  I sure hope I can keep the momentum going, and look forward to tackling the Prelim course at Morven Park at the end of this month.  I will miss the lovely, serene farm where I was lucky enough to keep my horses, and the camaraderie of being surrounded by eventers every day.  It was definitely a trip I won’t forget anytime soon.   
My horses’ home while in Aiken

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