Hello from Sunny Florida beautiful friends!
We are heading into the first weekend of the Winter Equestrian Festival 2019 (WEF). I just know time is going to fly by as usual. I have had a great week thus far, including an incredible day at the Equestrian Business Women (inaugural) Summit 2019 in West Palm Beach. I could go on and on about how inspiring and valuable this event was for me. I’m so excited that I get to be a part of this amazing network of equestrian businesswomen. It’s brilliant. Inspiring. I can’t wait for what’s to come! It really deserves an entire post in itself, but before I get too far ahead of myself I told you I would bring you the “play by play” of my WEF experience, so I’ve got to back up to how we actually get here. The Migration of the snow
Living the equestrian lifestyle involves a lot of logistics. Logistics that you fine-tune time and time again. The same things need to be accomplished time after time, but the circumstances are never the same.
We relocate not only ourselves, but very precious cargo is involved; the reason we are all here, the horses!!! They are loaded onto the trailer and make a 30ish hour trip from Minnesota to Florida. I praise the shippers who take on this epic responsibility. In my case that would be my husband! Variables such as weather can be tricky. The days leading up to the trip are spent checking in on the weather apps repeatedly. There have been times that Johnny has been loading horses in below zero weather. The water buckets turn into giant ice cubes the moment they are filled. This year a lot of inclement weather had been predicted and it was literally a last minute decision on whether or not to leave as planned or to wait until the following day. In that instance and anytime it will ever come up, I fully respect whatever decision is made for the best interest of the people and the horses.
Although we didn’t have a white Christmas this year the days that followed were and the trees were heavy with snow the morning of departure. They decided to leave as planned at 5 am. I was thrilled to hear from him later that morning and learn that they were traveling well and on the dry road. They had a smooth trip and in fact, made record time. The weather has a lot to do with that. As did a quick stop at the Florida border, which can sometimes hold them up quite a bit for paperwork and inspections. Along the way, they check on the horses several times to replenish water and hay and see that they are traveling well. Blankets often start out on and come off during the trip. The horses get UlcerGuard before, during, and after the trip. UlcerGard is (omeprazole) oral paste for the prevention of gastric ulcers in horses and is the only product that’s been approved by the FDA to prevent equine stomach ulcers. Once they arrive in Florida, we watch them closely to make sure they are in good health and haven’t any case of shipping fever or other concerns. The drive is not something that Johnny can take on alone. We hire an additional driver to allow them to go straight through from Minnesota to Florida without a layover. Some people do opt to layover and there are places that will accommodate it. We hire a friend as our 2nd driver who is also an expert mechanic, which is comforting to know as they make their way down the road. Getting this done requires some logistics. As long as things go as scheduled with leaving Minnesota and there are no delays along the way, the travel arrangements to get the driver back home can be planned and executed smoothly. We need to calculate the timing and make the reservation to fly him home after they’ve arrived safely in Florida. From a financial standpoint, it ends up costing the shipping fee of one horse by the time you pay the driver and cover the flight and travel.
Prior to arriving in Florida, we need to make certain that we have the needed supplies at the barn to get started. Shavings, grain, hay, etc. It is all a lot more expensive down here. Depending on how much space you have for storage, it is best to bring as much hay as you can from up north. To give you a real comparison, our hay in Minnesota is $6.50 a bale and a comparable bale here is $21. Yes, that is $14.50 per bale more. The details and expenses of horse keeping here are quite a bit different.
After we all arrive and get moved back in, you wake up that next morning forgetting that you’ve relocated to your other bedroom! When you see the horses out in the grass paddocks, you just smile because its the best. They are so happy!
As for me and how I get down here, it’s a bit of a blur. I host Christmas Eve on the 24th in Minnesota and I really try to fully embrace Christmas before I begin shifting my focus onto leaving. I do some packing ahead of time, but I don’t want our house to be disheveled when we host. There is basically a packing marathon that takes place on the 26th and 27th. I don’t know how other people do it but thank god I have our horse trailer going down because several jumbo totes are getting loaded into that tack room. Admittedly, I’m not a minimalist when it comes to my closet. Capsule wardrobes are not my forte. C’est la vie.
Isla, Frannie (our boston terrier), and I fly down, usually leaving the day after Johnny and the horses, which puts us here within hours of each other. This year, my Mom, who is freshly retired made the trip with us. It was great having her spend a week with us.
Before the move takes place there are some very important details to take care of in Minnesota. We have to make sure that the horses who stay home are cared for as usual. We also need to arrange for a trainer to fill in for Johnny. We want someone who can help the clients who don’t travel to WEF with us. That can be tricky. You want it to be someone who will provide quality help to the clients, has a similar approach, and doesn’t want to take your clients away from you while you’re gone.
Other random things that have to be done include arranging to forward the mail, putting memberships and activities on hold, getting in any appointments needed, etc. It’s really getting organized in general with what needs to go with us to Florida and what needs to be taken care of in each location before, during, and after. Then there is shipping the car and the timing of that working out as well as possible. This year was the first in which I really had school to contend with. Isla started Kindergarten this Fall. While it is “just Kindergarten” they are learning a lot! Reading, math, technology, and a lot of other really important skills. In the years leading up to this it was always in the back of my mind – how are we going to make this happen? When we started the school year in Minnesota this past Fall it was presented to me as a situation where she would have to un-enroll from her school and then reapply when we returned. That sounded scary to me. How would she “pass” the grade? After getting into the swing of the school year and getting to know the staff, it became a lot less scary. While it had initially sounded like we were doing this completely foreign and non-existent act of pulling our kid from school for 3 months, they ended up making us feel much better about it by the time it actually happened. We had to fill out a couple of simple forms and let them know what our plans were. Her teacher is fully on board with communicating with her teachers here to keep her on track with what they are working on at home. From a social standpoint, Isla made a lot of great friends at school. She has really thrived. I have to believe that growing up in this lifestyle where she has had to be adaptable has been really beneficial to her character. She hasn’t known anything different than traveling around to horse shows and making the move to Florida during the Winter. She was actually so excited to get here and be in the warmth that she asked if we could leave before Christmas. I looked at several school options, but private school seemed like the best fit and the school we chose was recommended to us by a fellow trainer with kids that attended in the past. The downside? It is expensive considering we are so lucky to have such great public schools in Minnesota at no cost. At the end of the day, it is an amazing experience for her not only to go to school here but the experience here in its entirety. How many kids get to grow up like this?! I sure didn’t!
Then there is that whole, where do we live while in Florida? Well, the reason we are here and any of this is possible is because of a very special person/customer/#friendlikefamily. We are able to live right on the farm with the horses in the barn cottage, which is only a few strides from the barn. Her home is also on the farm, which is spread across 10 beautiful acres surrounded by tall hedges. It really feels like we are in our own little world, yet we are so close to the showgrounds. Another amazing benefit to this is that unlike a lot of people who may be at different barns from year to year or are strictly stabled on the show grounds for the whole circuit, we return to this heavenly place that is beautiful and quiet, yet you are close enough that you can ride your horse over to the show in about 20 minutes. We don’t often hack over to the show, but we can if we want to. Included in all of the travels from Minnesota is Sara’s truck and 3 horse trailer. Yes, that requires another driver! You can’t bring your big horse trailer to the show grounds and leave it there. It is strictly a drop off situation. This is why we really need to have the smaller trailer down here once we arrive. Bonus: we can load hay from MN to get us started down here. When we go to the show, I often drop off the horse or 2 that are showing that day. Then I bring the truck and trailer back to the farm and either drive my car or take the golf cart back over to the show. It’s a system that we have down pretty well at this point. Sara has a couple of stalls at the show for the season, but we only use them for the day when we school or show. The horses always come home at the end of the day and sleep in their own “bed”. We’ve had days where we show in the morning and the horse gets to be back on the farm and out in the pasture by 10 am. That is pretty fabulous.
It’s well into week 1 and 12 rings of competition for hunters, jumpers, and equitation are all in motion. Saturday nights feature class is a fan favorite, “Battle of the Sexes”.
Today, round 1 of the Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup series took place. You can check out the top 12 from that class below.
Also to come this weekend is the $75K Grand Prix and the Captive One Advisors jumper classic series kicks off with a $25K class (heights 1.45-1.60).
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Alright, beautiful people, I’ll leave you with that for today.
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