Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Big changes

Are you ready for the latest drama at my barn?

(Really, I don't know how this barn has so much drama, using each other's stuff, etc. There are five horses, three boarders, one instructor, one barn owner, and a neighbor! That's it!)

Anyway, after my horseback riding lesson this afternoon, I was sponging off Panama's back to clean off the sweat, when I happened to overhear an interesting conversation. The barn owner was sitting on his back patio talking on the phone (quite loudly I might add), perhaps 50 feet from where I was, and he was talking about having lost the next door property.

Now, I knew this was a likelihood. About two months ago he started telling me that he was having a hard time making the payments. Then on the first of July, he confessed he was $8,000 behind on the mortgage, and they wanted it that day. He was able to buy some extra time — but it seems not enough time, as I overheard him today telling someone over the phone that the place had already been auctioned off and he was supposed to be out in 60 days. He was trying to work out what that meant for his renter — I think he's trying to use her lease on the front half of the property to keep using the back half (the pasture) for himself.

This is a concern in some ways because the pasture on the back half of the next door property is the "back pasture" where I like to ride Panama. It's less cluttered than the front pasture, and I can shut out the other horses. I don't want to ride in the same pasture with several loose horses, especially when one of those is a cranky alpha.

However, since I've started getting Panama out into the field and onto the trail, perhaps losing the back pasture won't be an issue. There is also a horse park with a nice riding arena about four blocks away, which we could use for lessons — if I can get Panama comfortable with going there. Most of it is on neighborhood streets, but I'm not sure how well he'll take that. It's a big difference from riding in a field with the road twenty feet away! Also, we would have to cross a pretty major road to get into the horse park — there is a light there, but I still suspect he won't be happy about that.

There are very few barns within a reasonable driving distance from me that have this kind of trail access, particularly somewhere I feel comfortable riding him out alone. (If he does throw me and get away here, there is a big field full of grass and alfalfa to distract him and let me catch up to him — and if that doesn't work, there are no busy streets on the way home, so I don't have to worry about him getting hit.) So if I want easy trail access, for now staying put would seem to be the best move.

Unfortunately, I also have to worry about there being too many horses. Right now there are five, which works out fine on a full acre, but I think that's pushing it a bit for a half acre pasture (and just one barn). Granted, they all spend most of their time in the one pasture, but it's still nice that they have the option to get away from one another if they want to. Furthermore, it's handy to be able to shut the horses away from one another, which we won't be able to do with the loss of the second property.

I guess I will probably have to just wait and see how it works. In a way I wish I hadn't found out by overhearing the barn owner on the phone, however accidental it was. But in another way perhaps this is best, because I will have a chance to consider how I want to respond when he does tell me. I think he wanted to today and lost his nerve, because he seemed to be hanging around in an odd way when I first got there.

So much to think about! In a way I feel a bit like my time at this barn is drawing to a close, and it makes me want to get out there as much as possible so I can take advantage of these trails before the end. But in another way I feel like there is still a lot of potential in this place, with the field and the trail access and the nearby horse park — potential I am only just starting to realize.

Besides, and perhaps the most important at the moment, Panama is happy at this barn — perhaps the happiest I've seen him. So as long as he continues to be happy, I'm willing to stick it out and see how it goes!

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