Daisy and I are checking out a facility for a friend who rides endurance, to see if it’s worth her making the trip to visit the place. It’s an Endurance barn with a capital T.
As we get out of the car, we see a trailer being loaded nearby, and hear this:
“Yep. Going to the Tevis again this year, how bout you?”
Reply: “Oh yeah, we’re in. Gotta go – loading up for a quickie 50, see you later…”
While the facility is relatively close to where we live, it’s way off the beaten track, in the middle of country that looks like this:
The barn itself is homey and funky, a gigantic old livestock barn brought back to new life. It’s repurposed and well organized, with soaring ceiling and shafts of light. It smells like saddle soap, hay, leather cleaner and warm wood. There are only a few horses in stalls. There is a lean and muscular horse bucking, trotting and squealing in the round pen.
The owner introduces herself, and follows our gaze. “We have to turn him out in a small area first.” The gelding breaks into an easy canter. “He’s 35, and we don’t want him to immediately gallop off. He might slip. So we take the edge off first.”
Thirty Five? He’s sound, muscled, and looks in his teens. Daisy figures out from the barn owner that it’s a horse she knew from 25 years ago. This is his retirement home.
The owner slides back a big interior barn door, and we see a room the size of a gymnasium, full of comfy sofas, oriental rugs, bookcases, trophy shelves, and the kind of coffee table you can put your muddy boots on. “This is available to all our boarders year round, but we have a Yoga for Equestrians Instructor here on Monday and Wednesday nights.” I mentally check the mileage. Could I make Monday and Wednesdays?
The owner tells us about summer pasture, winter pasture, and the criteria they look at when deciding it’s time to move them for the season. She says: “Let’s go take a look”.
Daisy and I prepare to walk.
Laughing, the owner dangles keys to an industrial looking vehicle. Imagine a Monster Golf Cart, with a truck bed, roll bar, and 4 wheel drive. I get in back. Daisy is better at reporting the details our friend will want to know. I’ll go on for hours about trees and rocks.
The diesel engine roars to life.
Within seconds, it’s apparent why we are not walking.