Several months ago, before the Show Buddy moved barns, she and one of my lesson program’s instructors (hereby known as Instructor A) made plans to attend a clinic together. A few weeks ago Instructor A messaged me to let me know that she had a free auditor’s pass for said clinic… so I met up with her at the barn, took Ezhno for a light bareback ride while she was finishing her Saturday morning lessons, and then we started our journey down to the the little town of Rochester, WA, for a clinic with equestrian sport psychology expert (and Olympic Coach!) Daniel Stewart!
Here’s a quick look at our clinic participants…
Instructor A & Kody
Instructor A works full time during the week and teaches lessons for Ready to Ride on the weekends. She owns two horses, Zarina (a thirty-one year old Anglo-Arab mare that Instructor A’s owned for 15+ years) and Kody (a nine year old Anglo-Arab gelding that Instructor A bred from Zarina and a TB stallion).
Kody’s a bonafide freak over fences (ask me about the time I watched them take a 6 stride/3 stride line in five and two, LOL). He’s a big horse, probably 16.1 or 16.2 hands, and he’s got a good sense of his own size that makes for a kind of bullheaded attitude and a super stellar arena presence. He’s very much a big lughead, but he’s also wickedly talented and athletic.
He’s also literally the shiniest horse I’ve ever met and he loves to strike a pose for the camera. 😉
Kody had some trouble with a suspensory in the past, but he came back from the injury after several months of stall rest. He’s naturally quick-footed horse (hello, fourteen foot stride) that has a tendency to divebomb his way through corners, so Instructor A has been focusing on improving his balance and adjustability.
The Show Buddy & Teak
The Show Buddy (former show buddy? we’re not really competing together anymore 🙁 ) recently graduated from high school and is exploring the equine industry now. She owns one horse, an adorkable six year old Arabian gelding named Teak that she’s owned for a little over a year and half now.
Teak is a small horse/maybe-pony, about 14.3 hands tall, with a quirky personality. He’s a funny beast that likes to twist his head through the air for attention. At times he can be combative under saddle, but he makes up for it with a boatload of stamina and a naturally athletic build that lets him easily recover from botched distances or awkward jumps.
The Show Buddy originally met Teak through the Ready to Ride training program. After she purchased Teak, they learned both Performance and the Hunter/Jumper style under the tutelage of Trainer A and Trainer M. Now they’re finishing up their final 4-H season and are comfortable competing up to 2’3″, though Teak has had a problem with refusals in the past that makes schooling opportunities like this clinic very important to his continued education as a Hunter/Jumper prospect.
For our journey down to Rochester, we took Instructor A’s massive four horse Featherlite (BECAUSE IT’S FANCY AND WHY NOT? 😛 ). We put in a full-length divider and filled the front portion with hay/feed (brilliant modification/design courtesy of Instructor A), then pilled all of the equipment/luggage into the tack room, which left the cab of the truck with plenty of room for passengers.
We loaded Kody first, then went to pick up tSB/Teak.
I was very excited to get a chance to check out tSB’s new digs! She moved to her new barn (SCS) in mid-April and I haven’t been out to take a look at it yet, so it was interesting to have a chance to walk around and check out the facilities while she loaded Teak up. It’s a unique barn, in that the entire thing is a ClearSpan structure with stalls in one half and open arena space in the other. As someone that wants an arena of my own at some point, I was intrigued by the concept, and while I didn’t love the idea of a barn/arena combo, I did really like the arena’s natural lighting and the open-air ambiance the structure provided.
Here’s a look at what the ClearSpan is like from the inside (plus brand new stalls!):
Onto Rainbow Meadow Farm!
A little over two hours later (and one unfortunate navigation mistake on my part that forced Instructor A to back the rig down the middle of the street to catch a missed turn—I’M SO SORRY), we pulled into the field that houses the temporary stalls at Rainbow Meadow Farm. The stalls were made out of an iron frame and a thick tarp/canvas siding that looked suspiciously flimsy/flappy, and there weren’t any mats in the stalls, just grass at the bottom. It was definitely temporary.
The stalls were meh, BUT GUESS WHAT THEY HAD IN THE FIELD ACROSS THE WAY:
Once the horses were settled in, we headed to our Airbnb…
Say hello to Marcon Farm, our home away from home during the clinic!
After twisting and turning our way through the back streets of Rochester, we stumbled upon this huge rustic farm house, where our host, Nora, was waving us down from her place on the porch. Nora is an older African American lady and she was very excited to see us! She was talkative and inviting, and after chatting on the porch for a few minutes we grabbed our bags from the truck and went inside to pick out bedrooms. The house was very large, and while there were parts of it that were slightly cluttered or in the midst of home renovations, the rooms themselves were clean and the beds had fresh sheets.
Nora was incredibly kind. She even made us soup one night, though we ended up taking it for breakfast the next morning since most of us were too tired to eat.
Most importantly? There was a really cute cow in the yard. 😀
By the time we were settled into Marcon, it was time for some dinner. We headed north (towards civilization, AKA Olympia) and pulled off at one of first exits that had signs for food. We ended up in Tumwater at a place called Nickelby’s, where we ate a late night meal while we listened to the drunken karaoke seeping through the door that lead into the lounge portion of the restaurant (LOL). The food was good and the service was hilarious (especially in our tired, delirious state). The Show Buddy and her clinic auditor did end up locked in the restaurant on accident… but otherwise I’d give Nickelby’s a thumbs up!
We swung by to check on the horses (Teak was busy pacing circles into the bedding of his stall, Kody was too involved with his hay nets to acknowledge us), then went back to Marcon and I crashed from exhaustion, though only after tossing and turning for a good twenty minutes… I was excited for what the morning would bring: Day One of the Daniel Stewart Clinic!