Independent Study


Derby meets his new herd.

Boomer and Derby eb route to their third barn in one month. Good boys!

Boomer and Derby eb route to their third barn in one month. Good boys!

It’s been an eventful month – I’ve moved to Derby two different times this month, after the care at Silver Fern Stables really took a nosedive. Unfortunately, the second place turned out to be a dud, but the third barn has definitely been the charm.

His new room has a view.

His new room has a view.

It’s a significant upgrade for Derby, with much larger stalls, really good turnout and, most importantly, generous amounts of quality feed. He’s already gaining weight and his entire demeanor suggests that he’s happier and feeling good.

The new barn is also a bit of an upgrade for me, too – the barn is heated! Let the winter winds howl – I am not going to be freezing my tailfeathers off again this year.

Creature comforts aside, it’s been more than a month since I had a lesson with Christy, however, she will be training at the new barn so we will be picking up where we left off very soon. In the meantime, I’ve had some good practice riding in Derby in new environments, and I think that we passed with flying colors.

Barn number two was a small operation with a quiet, enclosed arena. It posed little problem for Derby, and he didn’t put a foot wrong while there.

Barn number three is  a different story. It has the largest indoor arena I’ve ever seen, and has a couple potentially spooky areas. At one end, there’s an open space between the arena rail and the building’s exterior wall where people keep tack trunks and where hay and feed are stored. Because the barn is heated, there are also large plastic flaps on that doorway, as well as the doorway entering the arena that horses need to pass through, to prevent heat loss.

I was determined to not let any of these things become a problem for Derby. I knew that from the get-go these things had to be schooled and accepted with no questions from the horse. Donna and Boomer moved with us, and on the first day, Donna and I took turns schooling the boys in the arena.  While one of us lead our horse around in the arena, the other went in and out of the flappy doors, making a racket, slamming tack trunk lids and making the plastic flap.

Enjoying his much larger stall.

Enjoying his much larger stall.

This little extra bit of schooling paid off, because both boys were on their best behavior on their maiden voyages around the big indoor.

In fact, Derby has not put a foot wrong in the rides that I’ve had subsequently. He’s working really nicely, staying quiet and focused, and moving beautifully, which is testament to his appreciation of the significantly improved footing the new barn offers.

However, I’m going to take a little credit, because I’ve been giving him rides that are as good as I can muster.  We’re focused in our warm ups, starting with loosening his poll and then bending, stretching and incorporating lateral work.  I’m insisting that he stays responsive and on the aids.  We’re working a lot of half-halts and transitions within gaits to keep his attention and to allow me to maintain control over his inside hind.

Between more active riding on my part and the improved footing, we’re getting some very nice work – he’s through and into the bridle, working nicely over his back.  We’ve even been able to produce (and maintain) some lovely connected stretchy trot, for which I was rewarded with flecks of foam around his bit.   We even earned a compliment from one of the other trainers who gives lessons there, which was really nice to hear.

Cloudy Boy and me.

Cloudy Boy and me.

As if all this isn’t enough to love, the new barn has one other bonus.  My friend Liz and her darling gelding Cloud are there.  It’s great to see them again – I missed them when they moved away a couple years ago.  Cloud was happy to see me (or, more realistically, he smelled the peppermints in my pocket) and obliged me in a selfie on our first day. 🙂

All in all, I’m thrilled with the move and how we’re both handling it.  We’ll get going again with lessons soon. Stay tuned!

About Sarah Skerik
Sarah Skerik is an experienced digital business executive and strategist with a long track record of success in team leadership, employee development, marketing and business development.

One Response to Independent Study

  1. draftmare says:

    Bleh I am already thinking ahead to my move in the spring. Thankfully I already have a place picked out. Current barn only has dry lots and I want Sydney to be on pasture when spring rolls around.

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