This place is like a magical jungle dressage fairytale. Every inch of this farm is a thing of beauty. One of my complaints about Florida (if I’m being so annoying as to complain about Florida 😉) is how things often look fake – fake looking grass, fake looking bushes/trees that seem like they could never have been a native species, fake waterways made into perfectly straight canals, other places that should be wet but have been made dry, etc. But Havensafe doesn’t feel like that at all. Sure, every single square inch is manicured, and I know it takes a massive amount of work to keep it looking this way. But it feels more like what this land should look like.
Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
I think of the quote above when I drive into Havensafe. It makes you take a deep breath. It makes your pulse slow a little bit. Humans need beauty around them, and I think horses do too, but not in the same way. Horses don’t care about a beautiful barn. But I think they do care about green grass, shady trees, looking out at expansive vistas. It calms them too.
Afterwards I kept thinking about how the same ideas are true for horses. (Because whenever I hear something fascinating I make everything about horses…)
A few months back I wrote an article about the owner of Havensafe, Betsy Juliano, who is an amazing woman. Check it out HERE to learn more about her and this farm.
We took all the girls out yesterday for a nice long walk under saddle. Today they will all do a light ride. And maybe tomorrow they can do a more normal work out and possibly my first lesson on Flow with Jen! 😀
We finally made it, and I *think* we have everything unpacked. Kate and I had a fairly uneventful trip down in our Budget rental van, pulling my car on a trailer. We drove overnight, starting Saturday at 8pm, in order to miss Thanksgiving traffic. And it worked! We arrived late morning on Sunday, and we powered through the day, setting up stalls, unpacking all the hay and grain and shavings and taking our time to set up everything just the way we wanted it.
Florida is so expensive in every regard. So in order to make it slightly more reasonable, we brought most of the hay and grain and shavings we’ll need. Nice hay at home can be found for $7.50-$8.50 a bale. Nice hay down here starts around $17/bale!! 🤨 And grain is $5-6 more per bag down here. So, we decided the easiest thing was to pack as much as we could, and hope it doesn’t mold!
I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Why are you going to FL so early, and why are you only staying 6 weeks?!” Fair question. I got this grant from the amazing organization, TDF, and it is for $6000 to use toward furthering my education. By the time you start calculating all the costs of getting to FL, staying in FL, training, etc, that $6000 doesn’t last too long. Coming slightly “pre-season” meant certain costs down here we’re a little lower.
My kids are 2 and 4, and I could never be away from them, so they definitely had to come. My husband is wonderful and supportive and luckily has a job from which he can work remotely. So we discussed the timeline, and we agreed this time frame (Thanksgiving to New Year’s) would mean they would only miss 3 weeks of preschool rather than 6 full weeks, because of holiday breaks. We’ve already paid for preschool, so I’d rather them not miss too much.
The last big factor for me was thinking about really getting the focus of whomever I trained with. Once the season starts up in full down here, things are a bit crazy. There are huge shows to go to every weekend, if you wanted, and they don’t last just Saturday and Sunday. So you often have someone’s undivided attention Tuesday, maybe on Wednesday, and then they’re off to compete. And if they’re smart and take a day off, it’s got to be Monday. All the good trainers I know down here work ridiculously hard, so it’s not that they don’t want to give you their time, they just don’t have much time to give. But with this earlier time frame, folks are less stressed, and things are WAY less crazy. Makes for a much more enjoyable learning experience for me.
The mares all arrived Monday morning at 6 am. Cody Irion from Eclipse Equine Transport shipped them for us and did a fabulous job. He was super to communicate with and said he would arrive at 6am, and pulled up to the gate at 5:58!! When has that ever happened with a shipper?!
Flow is at Haven Safe Farm, owned by Betsy Juliano. (More on that amazing place soon.) And D’Arcy, Frieda, Blush and Lily are all at Centerline Farm, owned by Annette DaVee, which is one mile away. Annette is letting us use her separate 4 stall barn, which has run outs behind each stall and is so adorable!
Today we just hand walked everyone and tomorrow we will walk them all under saddle and see how they feel. Everyone seemed to settle in fairly well, except Flow. She was dehydrated and acting colicky. So I had the vet out right away to check her and give IV fluids. After getting some water in her belly and 10 liters of fluids in her, she perked up and was her usual hungry, pushy self. So I’ll keep an extra close eye on her these next few days. Think good thoughts for us! 😘😘
T minus 6 days until Kate and I leave for Florida! We are getting excited but also feeling that crunch that always happens before a big move. I have lists and more lists. Kate and Hannah and I have google docs we are sharing with packing lists for the horses. I have lists of things I still need to buy here and lists of things to buy down there. Multiple spreadsheets for packing up my own stuff along with my two kids and my husband. I think Jonathan (my husband) is beginning to despise my lists, although he’s pretty used to them. I wake up in the night thinking of what I haven’t put on one list or another.
And I’m sure we will forget plenty of things. But as Jonathan keeps telling me, we’re not exactly going to a 3rd world country…
We are headed to Wellington, FL, winter home for so many top dressage horses and riders. It’s where you go to be surrounded by the best, and it’s where I will spend the next 6 weeks with 5 horses in order to kick it into the next gear with my own education. I will be training with Jennifer Baumert, and I’ll probably get a few lessons from a few other trainers as well. We are not planning to compete, just focus on learning as much as possible while we are there.
I always love this idea of learning having long periods of “plateaus” and short bursts of instense improvement. I am hopeful that this next 6 weeks will be an intense burst for me and these 5 mares. Sometimes the intense periods are not always fun. It’s only afterwards that you realize the dramatic improvement. The plateaus are also frustrating, of course, but they are comfortable. I am committed to getting out of my comfort zone and into this space of possibly uncomfortable learning. It will probably challenge some ideas I hold dear, challenge me to do things I can’t quite do, and literally make me uncomfortable through sore muscles! But I’m lucky enough to have had many times like this in my life. And I think I’m getting better about enjoying the uncomfortable-ness.
Oooh. I just thought of another thing for my list…gotta go.
Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.
Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence. – Abigail Adams
On November 24th, Kate Tackett and I will head down to Wellington, FL, for 6 weeks with 5 wonderful mares. We are bringing Flip Side (aka Flow), B-Sanfrieda (aka Frieda), D’Arcy, Lily B, and Fuerst Blush (aka Blushy.) Kate and I will be there the whole time, heading home January 5th. A couple wonderful clients will be joining us for part of the time and getting lessons for themselves. And my husband, Jonathan, and my two fabulous kids, Daniel and Addie, will fly down December 1 and stay through the New Year. We’ll also have some friends and family come join us here and there.
I’m excited for this adventure for so many reasons. Mostly I am feeling very eager to immerse myself in a learning environment where I get to be the student every day. I am so thankful to The Dressage Foundation, who gave me a grant, which enabled this trip to happen. The Major Anders Lindgren Scholarship is awarded every year to American Dressage Instructors to further their education. The Dressage Foundation does so much to support dressage education in this country for riders of all ages and all levels. Thank you, thank you, thank you!