At the height of my desperation, I’d pour a big cup of coffee and open Google Maps on my computer. After setting it to ‘satellite view’, I’d proceed to methodically search neighborhoods for the telltale sign of an arena. Something oval, usually in a clearing, a couple of small buildings nearby that could function as a barn. I’d mark the address and then get in my truck and go find it. I can’t tell you how many notes I left in mailboxes, taped to fencing, set under rocks at driveway entrances. I was careful not to trespass as to not look like a psycho. It seems I’ve spent my life looking for barns…not just any barn though…barns with arenas. In all those stalkings, no matter how eloquently I worded the letter, nobody ever replied.
There is a walk my husband and I take with the dogs. We go up our street and that street runs into a bigger street that eventually dead ends at a private gate. The preschool our boys went to is about halfway up. One day after I’d turned around at the gate, I noticed a cloud of dust. As I got closer I saw what appeared to be someone riding a horse. In an ARENA! I scurried around the property line from all sides and did my best to peer into the property. Sure enough there was indeed someone riding, and there was a nice MD barn with some pipe paddocks. How could I have missed this all these years?!? I hurried home and began to write my note.
I started it with “Dear Sir and Madam”…..no, too formal. “To Whom it May Concern”…..no, too cold. “Dear Neighbors”….perfect! They will certainly read on if I live in the neighborhood. I told them of my history as a horse trainer and listed some of my accolades. I described my work ethic and told them of my love of manual labor. I probably even attached my insurance certificate. I told them that I’d love to be able to teach a few lessons there but was happy to not if that’s how it needed to be. I put it in an envelope with a business card attached and marched it right up to their mailbox.
A day went by. Nothing. A week went by. Nothing. How could they not want me? I’d walk the dogs and peer furiously into the property. I considered going to the door but again, didn’t want to look like a psycho. Even though I felt like one. I eventually let it go. Begrudgingly. I hadn’t yet learned not to force solutions.
So back in April of this year, I’d been working so much over the hill that I realized I hadn’t been down to the beach in months and I really needed to see the ocean. I was starting to feel that malaise again…that familiar feeling of not quite living my best life. I loaded the dog in the truck and off we went. As we were walking along the cliff, I heard someone yell from a car “VICKI!!!” I looked over and really couldn’t see who it was. I got closer and realized it was an old student of mine, now a mom with two little kids of her own. She had actually become a trainer herself after riding with me but shut her business down when the stresses of trying to run it and raise her family became too much (smart girl!).
We chatted on the cliff and I remembered that she had kept one of her old lesson horses. I asked her where she kept Gus. “Right up the street from your house! And we’re actually looking for another boarder. It’s a co-op and you’d be the perfect person. You should come check it out!” It was that same property I’d stalked so many years ago.
I thought about it for the rest of the walk. I thought about it for a week. I was deep back into my horse training life, working for a high end trainer with the opportunity to travel and show a bunch of really nice horses for the rest of the year. It really wouldn’t work for me to be part of a co-op because I won’t have time to do my share of the work. So I let it go. Happily. I had finally learned not to force solutions.
Well about three weeks after that, the dream job blew up. I’ll write a post about that someday. Spoiler alert: it involves a bitter ego freak and various forms of unsavory practices. I promptly called Brittney and asked her if the space was still available. She said it was and within the day I was having a conversation with the owners. They are just the nicest folks in the world. I moved my horses there 6 weeks ago and couldn’t be happier. It is a half a mile from my house and I walk the dog there. I smile when I go by my boys old preschool and relive fond memories of walking them up there in the jogger stroller. My horses have their own space at night and then get turned out together in the day. I get to feed and clean stalls (which I LOVE) without the burnout of doing it every day. There is an open space next door that I can trail ride on. And there is an arena! I literally feel like I’m living in a dream…living THE dream. Maybe today I’ll ask them if they remember my letter.