Saturday, November 25, 2017

Day 24 - Best Riding Friend

Day 24- Your best riding friend

From Clover Ledge Farm

Okay, so we're doing this chronologically because different phases (and states) of my life have had different friends.

High School

I was a very solitary rider. I didn't fit in well with the other girls in the pony club because they all went to the same school while I was from 'the wrong side of the tracks'.  They all had the benefit of riding together and being in classes together for years. Not to mention I started later, so I was stuck with the younger girls, while my peers were in more advanced lessons. It rankled.

But there was a saving grace in Jane's Grand Niece.   (Background: Jane was the very generous lady who made horses possible for me. She went to the same church as my family which is how we connected. She got me into Pony Club)  For the 4th of July every year, Jane's family congregated at her farm in Connecticut. Her grand niece, Jill, was also a rider and I basically lived at Jane's house when Jill was there. There is no exaggeration. I would bunk in one of the spare rooms or in the bunk beds in the converted barn. We would catch fireflies in the horse pasture while the family set off fireworks and go on long trail rides every day and finish it off with an ice cold dunk in the spring fed, shady pool. Summers were glorious. Jill and I were opposites, but we found a commonality in horses.

Graduate School

In college I didn't have time for horses and while I tried to catch Jill if she was visiting from New Hampshire, we drifted apart as our interests pulled. In graduate school I discovered livejournal and the horse community therein. I connected with a lot of people that I still follow and talk with today. One fateful post led me to meeting Cheri, whose husband was also an engineer. She had four horses and needed a riding buddy. I was basically local and so a VERY deep friendship formed that has lasted to this day. If I had to pick anyone of the people I'm talking about today, Cheri would be the Bestest of best riding friends.

From many years ago (This is Nyx)

Cheri this July 2017 with Nyx still. And one of her granddaughters!

Cheri is old enough to be my mom. In fact, she has a daughter who is only a couple months younger than me. But we really connected. I went up to meet her horses and we went on a ride through the old orange groves of Florida and just... hit it off. Even our husbands were friends and we had a weekly dinner date with them and eventually an additional weekly dungeons and dragons session. Cheri and I would ride ALL the time. We went on SO many adventures. Like riding in a hurricane. Or getting pulled over by cops while on horseback.  We charted out the back roads of her town and explored as much as we could. We got to help defense research. I drove her to the equine hospital when Stella was colicking and held her tightly when she made the decision to put her down. I took shifts with her when Gwyn nearly destroyed her eye and then got bitten by the rattlesnake. I helped her back Gwyn and Nyx for the first time and she taught me all she knew about starting horses.

I cried when we left Florida because I was leaving dear friends behind. And I cried again when she offered Gwyn to me after her house was struck by lightning. In her words, she knew I understood Gwyn and would treat her right. Every time we visit Florida I visit with her. And I'll call her every once in a while after Gwyn and I have had a notable achievement or just a really good ride. She trusted me with her baby and I intend to never betray that.


When I first moved Gwyn to Washington I searched for a good barn that would be reasonably near both my work and my home. I ended up with a triangle of sorts and at this barn that seemed to have it all. All day turnout. An option for a stall with a run. Indoor arena and outdoor arena. Part self care to save money. Right on a pipeline trail and in the heart of horse town without getting too rural.

The owners lived on site but they also employed a barn manager who lived in a tiny apartment in the barn. That person was Cortney. She and I hit it off the way Cheri and I had. Cortney is the one who took me to my first endurance ride (eventually) and I agreed because I'd been reading Dom's adventures with it. Cortney introduced me to Jim, who is my most favorite dressage trainer of all time. The barn situation eventually turned sour and we all went our separate ways to new barns, Cortney to her parent's place and eventually to her own acreage in the Cascades, Jim to another barn that he could train out of, and me to a barn closer to home as my job had poofed with cuts to the FDA funding. I was also pregnant and realizing that I might not be able to do a self care boarding situation while 40 weeks pregnant.

Cortney's mom was my truck and trailer the whole time we were in Washington. She took me to horse shows and to new barns when I had to move She was the Washington grandmother for Kaylee and it was her house that we landed in for holidays when we didn't fly to see family on the east coast. She was the one I trusted for the first time a non-parent put Kaylee to bed while Eric and I were on a date. They were my second (third?) family.

2011 on the Pipeline trail with Cortney

Back to the barn, also 2011

Thanksgiving 2012, Cortney, Comet the family pony, Me, Kaylee and Cortney's sister

Also Thanksgiving 2012, with Washington Grandma. Kaylee loved her

On my very first LD, at Mount Spokane Endurance ride in 2014.

Last trail ride ever with Cortney  D: D; D;   We rode from her house to the logging trails on her mountain, out by North Bend, WA, where they got scenery shots for Twin Peaks.

The Cascade foothills.  Cortney on the left, Blaine on the right.
That last picture segues me nicely into my other section, the people I hope are friends but I'm never quite sure.

Blaine is someone I met at my final barn in Washington. She's totally cool, a geek like me and just plain down to earth. We never hung out outside of horses but I think if we had stuck around Washington that would have happened. She's the one who made my stall signs and door signs for the critters and the kids. She did a quality job and if you want something similar, please let me know and I can pass you her information. Don't worry if you're not local, I ordered them after we'd already gotten to Michigan.


There's Jennifer, who I'm starting to think is going to be a good friend. It's just hard that she lives about an hour away. She just got a rescue gelding, named Pie, and we're already planning on horse outings. She's come over a few times with her daughter and we have a lot of other stuff in common, which is great! Again, just distance.

In April I rode the intro distance with M at Brighton and later she was the ride manager at Metropark Express where I timed. We seemed to get along well for endurance horsey stuff. I expect that will a relationship that is only fostered at rides, mainly because we don't live near one another. She's another scientist though, so that's an extra foundational pillar.

Same for the W sisters, who I did the hunter pace with. We met through the endurance community, but are unlikely to have commonality outside of that.

There are some people I met through the distance derby but (AGAIN) they're on the freakin' opposite side of the state and now they're all getting into mounted archery and holding clinics where I can't easily get to them with kids. They're fun people, but with the advent of the mounted archery stuff, I feel like I've been left in the dust and that's frustrating. And with no boarding barn here, I'm unlikely to make friends who are very local. I am cautiously reaching out to a girl who's very local who is in a facebook riders group and so far we've missed each other on a few events, but maybe one day. She leaves for a year overseas in a couple months though, so I'm wary to put much energy into it.

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