I had every intention of posting this yesterday but I spent a while struggling with trying to get photos uploaded before I figured out that I had finally exceeded the photo storage amount for the blog’s “premium” level account. And then the farrier came, and then I had work stuff to do, so… I didn’t circle back around to it until late afternoon. I had to upgrade to a “business” account to get more photo storage (it was either that or start mass-deleting old posts, which I didn’t want to do) which is 3x as expensive per year. That’s… fun. But anyway, here we are, back up and running.
The first full week in Florida was pretty great.
It’s just gorgeous here. Every time I walk outside I think that. Definitely a stark contrast to Texas, and this place makes my heart sing in a way Texas never did. Florida also decided to do me a solid and make the weather absolutely freaking STUNNING for my first week. Mornings in the mid to upper 50’s, afternoons in the low to mid 80’s, and nothing crazy on the humidity. Considering it was 106 back in Texas (and I dunno why everyone thinks Texas is a dry heat, where I was from in South-Central TX it was humid ALL THE TIME) I was luxuriating in the fact that I needed a hoodie to go feed the horses in the morning. You don’t have to keep selling yourself to me Ocala, I am already well past sold. Thanks for the lovely welcome though.
Mostly I’ve been trying to lay down a routine. Obviously I have 3 horses to shuffle through, but I really only have time to ride 2 every morning before my first meeting of the day. I could probably squeeze all 3 if I tried, but I like spending the time grooming them properly and not feeling rushed when I’m riding. I’ve got a schedule for them so that they get staggered days throughout the week and nobody gets more than one day in a row off. I go out in the morning around 6:15 to feed, come back in and get myself and Mina fed and answer some work emails, and then go out around 7 to tack up the first horse.
Riding in the mornings is the best way for me to structure my day. Being an hour ahead of the rest of my group is advantageous in that regard… I get an “extra” hour in the morning before I have to be on that first call. Of course, it has meant that I’ve found myself logging in for a meeting or two at 6pm, but still… I love having the morning to get all my own stuff done.
I’ve slowly put surely been booking appointments for all the things I need to take care of with the horses. Saddle fitters, farriers, bodywork, dental, etc etc. I had stuff that needed doing that was really difficult to coordinate in Texas, so I put it off. Last week it was the Custom saddle rep/fitter – I called her to come see if she could fit my dressage saddle to Presto and/or Gemma. It was definitely sitting too low in the front on both of them, too wide and not enough wither clearance, but they’re a fairly similar shape so I was secretly hoping she could make it workable for both of them. We talked about where they are in their training, age, etc (they’re both at the point where they should fill out and add more topline in the next 6 months) and she looked at it on both horses.
She agreed that it def sat too low in the front and was too wide on both of them, but she felt pretty confident that adding flocking to the front would be a great improvement. Off she went to her truck, fluffed up the front, and then we put it back on both of them. It’s not a perfect fit, but she felt it was certainly a workable fit. She recommended a sheepskin pad for both of them (lucky for me I have sheepskin built into all my pads…) but didn’t think any shims were required. She said to ride in it and let her know how I and the horses feel, and she can re-assess as needed. She’s only 15 minutes away, which is something I finding with basically all of this kind of stuff… everyone is so freaking accessible in a way that blows my mind a bit.
BTW, I always feel a little weird when presenting an old saddle to a fitter, like “gah please don’t try to make me buy something new or act like this is a burden”. No such experience here though, she saw the saddle and went “omg this is an original Wolfgang Solo, these are so hard to find. *intense eye contact* NEVER SELL THIS.”. Duly noted. No one tell her I paid peanuts for it. Great experience though, I liked the saddle fitter a lot and was glad that she didn’t try to make me feel any certain way about my old saddle and trying to make it work for two horses.
Since I’ve set aside the morning pre-work time for my horses, the late afternoons are for farm stuff. What that may look like depends on the day. Last week I spent an afternoon taking one of the thoroughbred race mares (a boarder… we don’t have any race mares of our own obviously lol) across town to get bred. The barn manager warned me that it was pretty far and Ocala traffic could be bad. It was 40 minutes, and I sat at like 3 stop lights. Adorable. I mean, I get it… on the road at the farm you might have a car passing by every 15 or so minutes, and all these rural roads out here are lightly traveled. Plus everything is close. Like 20 minutes can get you basically anywhere you need to go. So yeah I suppose if that’s your “normal”, then 40 minutes and driving through an actual town are a lot. By my standards of living outside a major city with tons of traffic and having to drive across it all the time, that drive was very easy. I pulled up at Ocala stud, waited for them to come get the mare from the trailer, then waited for them to bring her back, and off we went on home. I don’t mind being the shuttle driver, especially right now when I’m still trying to learn my way around.
Other afternoons I work with the WTW babies. Percy and Patrick are here living their best lives in the yearling colt herd with all the race baby boarders, and they both look great. They do still need to be handled regularly though to make sure they don’t go feral, and to start prepping them for any kind of in-hand showing that they may eventually do. Patrick looks fantastic, he always has been a good-looking colt, and Percy has really improved a lot in the past few months as well. Being out here is really helping him catch up from his rough start, I think. He’s filled out a ton since I last saw him at the end of February, and he’s looking way less gawky.
Other days I do little projects around the farm, like finishing painting the rails that the saddle racks are on. These had to be put up quickly before the seasonal boarders arrived in March, so there wasn’t time to get the wood painted before then. There’s time now though, so I circled back and got it painted, and it looks way better.
There are lots of little projects like that all over the farm, as well as lots of old stuff to go through, throw away, etc. They’ve done soooo much already in a short period of time, but it’s a big farm with lots of stuff, and there’s always more to do. There will be no end to the projects for a while I think. I don’t mind it though, it’s rewarding to put the time into something and see this place start to come together bit by bit. Plus if nothing else I’m definitely getting my steps in (since I’ve been here I’ve averaged 9.4 miles of walking every day) and sleeping pretty darn hard. I’m tired at the end of the day!
This week has already been full of stuff too, I think I’ve already got something booked every day, so I think for a while these week-in-review posts might at least be interesting.
7 thoughts on “The First Week”
As someone who lives “way out in the middle of nowhere”, the 40 minutes being a long drive made me giggle too. It’s 30-40 minutes to my nearest grocery store!
I hear you on the saddle fitting. I worked with a great one right before I moved who said “neither of your saddles fit. But I also understand that you can’t afford 2 new saddles right now. If you can, replace the jump saddle, and we can make the dressage saddle work for the amount and level of dressage you do in it.” I LOVED her for that and did scrape together enough for a new jump saddle, because I foxhunt in it and knew it needed to fit so my horse wouldn’t be sore after a couple hours over varied terrain.
So happy for you, Amanda! Sounds like you (& the horses) are having fun and enjoying your new location. You’re making me think about thinking about FL – at least for vacation.
These updates are so fun! I’m loving hearing about how everything is coming together, for you and for the horses.
What color paint is that for the tack room, by the way? I’m currently in the midst of a big paint color selection job and have a room I think that color might look really nice in…
I’m so glad you and the horses are settling in and happy! I was complaining about Ocala traffic the other day (SO many people are moving here and the roads really aren’t designed for the amount of people) but I grew up in Baltimore city – oh, how I forgot where I came from 😂
The weather is really lovely right now – I really don’t get miserable from the heat until august or so, and I’ll still take sweating my face off over being cold any day!
Who says Texas is a dry heat?! Someone from North Carolina?! Being from a northern landlocked state made Texas (especially summer) a huge adjustment for me because it’s SO humid! And Austin is much more humid (and hotter) than where I live outside Fort Worth.
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Glad you are enjoying Ocala so far! There’s something about being in the center of such a horse meca that always makes me so happy when I run up there. Even just seeing little things like all the horse related billboards. Summer does get pretty hot and humid and come September you’ll be sick of it, but I’ve never seen it so hot that horse shows/ CrossFit in a non-ac warehouse, running/biking/ etc became so dangerous it had to be canceled. Hope the moving in continues to go well!
I think Custom Saddlery reps are the nicest out there. The one near me was the same way with my ancient jump saddle. She even said if ever I don’t need it anymore she would buy it from me.
Sounds like you’re plenty busy down there, but glad you’re settling in!