We are home again, all settled in, and the girls are back out in their pastures with their friends. I can finally take a big breath and say, Wow! We did it! No one got terribly sick, lame, covered in fungus or had any bad accident – I can hardly believe it! A trip to Florida without a fungul mess of a horse – total miracle 😉
I have a very long list of thank yous to give out, and I won’t bore everyone too much, but I have to say a little about some of the big players in my life who made this trip possible. First and foremost, my wonderful husband, Jonathan, who didn’t look at me like I was crazy when I said, “Hey, if I apply for this grant, and there’s any chance I get it, want to go to Florida with two little kids and a bunch of horses for 6 weeks?” I’m very fortunate that Jonathan can work remotely and be flexible with his time at his job. But I’m even more fortunate to be with a man who supports my dreams and wants to step up and take on a bigger role as a dad in order for me to do something like this. My children are 4 and 2, and I could never be away from them for any extended period of time. I think most moms feel the same way. Unfortunately for many moms, though, they don’t have the support from a partner to pick up the parenting slack that would allow for something like this. Of course, I would do exactly the same for him, but I recognize how lucky I am.
My two assistant trainers, Kate Tackett and Hannah Walters, deserve medals and chocolate and hugs and most of all, some time off now! Kate stayed with me the entire time and had only about 48 hours off over Christmas. She was unflappable in her devotion to those 5 mares, up at 5 am every single day, happily heading out the door for night check almost every night. I said earlier how lucky we were to not have any accidents or problems, but really it’s not luck – it’s Kate. She took impeccable care of those girls, and I’m forever grateful. Meanwhile, Hannah stayed home and took equally impeccable care of the horses left behind. She dealt with the cold, the snow, and pretty much endless rain, and still managed to continue with training, lessons for clients, and running the barn beautifully. Finding good employees is always the hardest part of this job, and I feel so grateful to these two women for going above and beyond Every. Single. Day.
I have been fortunate in my riding career to learn from many wonderful trainers, starting with my mom, Cindy Sydnor. I’ve been a working student for Lilo Fore, Klaus Balkenhol, Beth Baumert, Scott Hassler, and I’ve gotten to clinic with many more top people. But never have I had such an intense period of learning with so many horses. I felt supported on all sides, and I felt like Jen was 100% invested in my learning and my horses. Each mare made such good progress. The grant from TDF allowed me to plan a period of time where my education was my primary focus. Going to FL for 6 weeks before winter season really got crazy turned out to be a great idea. I got Jen’s undivided attention in my lessons, I got to watch so many of Debbie McDonald’s lessons, and I got the eye and ear of many others before their schedules were jam packed.
Now I hope to take a little down time, focus on my family and my students, and then continue our great progress with these girls and the other horses in training. Thank you again, TDF, for making this possible! Thanks to Betsy Juliano and Annettee DaVee for welcoming us to their beautiful farms, thank you to my clients for trusting me to take their lovely mares on a big adventure, thank you to my students for waiting patiently for me to return – I promise to kick your butts with all I’ve learned! Thank you to my parents and my mother in law for being supportive and helping with the kids. And thank you to all the friends, new and old, we made along the way who made this trip a blast!