Friday, January 9, 2015

AWOL...Time to Catch Up! (Part 1)

For any of you who don't follow me on Face Book:  I'm still alive.  And kickin'!  It may be that I've lost all (or most) of my readers after over a year and a half, but I'm going to try to bring this blog back to life.  So here's the down and dirty, Readers' Digest version of my life for the last two years.

In the fall of 2014, Allan and I decided it was time to officially strike off in the "retirement boarding" business.  He retired from his long-time, frustrating job working in elder care (the management was frustrating--he LOVED his senior folks!) to hold down the fort at home.  He did the majority of the feeding, mucking and general up-keep at the farm, and re-awakened his long-time love of photography, keeping a nearly daily picture log of goings-on at EvenSong Farm.  Most of our boarders live somewhat far afield, so they appreciate the ability to "check-in" with their ponies.

Biggest thing to accomplish was finishing the barn.  We also used some inheritance from my mother to start a structure meant to end up as a shop/garage/machine shed/run-in stall.  Allan and I set the posts over several weeks, then my son Maxx stayed with us on and off over several weeks in the late fall of 2013, and built the roofs.

Needed the BIG guns to set the BIG posts!
We had to reset these a couple of times, as we got pretty severe winds that knocked them akilter.
Ground was so tough by the barn that the holes ended up being twice the required size!  That's a LOT of concrete!
Maxx, up the ladder, securing the shop trusses.
Roofing goes on the barn addition.
Hank loaned us the use of his hay "squeeze" and man-basket to finish the shop roof structure.  Also, at times, his foreman and son for extra hands.
Roofing goes on the shop.
The barn, finished except for some additional siding, high up on the front, trim and finish work.
The shop would wait for its siding and electrical until 2015. But the roof I had promised my horse trailer for three years was on duty.
Christmas break that year was VERY peaceful, and Allan and I enjoyed working together so much, that I made the decision to retire from my 15-year career in education at the end of the school year.  That timeline changed slightly when a colleague at another school announced that she was pregnant with twins, and arrangements were made for me to cover her maternity leave until Christmas break 2014.  But as of this week, I am officially a "retired school counselor!"

After a successful novice-y 2013 season in competitive trail competitions with Kate, I had big plans for 2014.  Retirement would allow me to make longer trips for clinics and competitions, so I set a schedule that I hoped would take me to the regional and national mountain trail championships at Eugene, Oregon in October/November 2014.
We started early in the spring with a three day event (during spring break) at Bonina Ranch, near the Tri-Cities, in central Washington.  It was a challenging weekend in many ways:  I was not feeling well, the weather was atrocious, and Kate had to work cows!  She hates cows!

Next up, the Kittitas Valley Trail Riders worked with me to put on a mountain trail clinic at EvenSong!  We invited multiple-time world champions Mitch and JoLinn Hoover, from Oregon, to teach the two days of group lessons.  We had two fun (if blustery) work days to finish up as many elements of my trail course as possible.
Bob and Jerry took charge of building the two bridges.
Putting the finishing touches on the water obstacle.
The crew working on the tire steps.
Criss-Cross  logs ready to be placed.
The clinic itself was wonderful.  With only twelve riders, and two instructors, everyone got lots of personal attention.
We started each day in the arena.
Then moved out to the course.  It was a bit blustery.
Mitch coaches as we go down the "grand staircase."
On the first day, the water in the pond was lower than I had hoped.
The second day, I really "fixed" that!
Stepping around the "fan" with a good arc in Kate's body.
All-in-all, it was a great weekend, and Kate and I (and the other club members) learned lots!  The plan was made to have the Hoovers back again, soon!

A couple of weekends later, Allan and I hooked up the camper and trailer and headed for the "wet" side of Washington, for a one night/one day trip to Bolender's Horse Park.  I had done a clinic with Mark several years ago, when Kate and I were first starting out, and I am very impressed with his trail course designs--one of which is realized at his place in Silver Lake, WA.
We got there early enough Saturday to let Kate wander around the course a bit.
This fountain proved to be the scariest thing in Kate's eyes.  But by the end of the competition, she was trotting past it with only a slight sideways glance.
Kate had NEVER seen a suspension bridge before, but she gave it a try, and we didn't have a problem all weekend.
Kate had never been successful at balance beams, tending to drift/fall off to one side or the other.  We worked in hand some, and had a few shaky attempts mounted, but never managed to cross all the way on Saturday.
Water obstacles are not really a big deal, but there was that nasty fountain again!
Sunday dawned pleasantly enough.  By the last class, however, it was pouring rain.  We competed in the two upper divisions, because I really wanted to challenge myself and Kate.  The whole day, Kate did every obstacle I aimed her at!  It wasn't always pretty, but I loved her "try!"  We also met some really nice folks.
Kate's turn-a-rounds have gotten immensely better this year, as I have learned how to control her shoulders, rather than trying to just rubber-neck around.  This 6'X6' elevated box was in our first three classes.  She stepped off with one back foot the first time through, but did it perfectly the rest of the day!
Remember all our stumbling on the balance beams?  third obstacle was this BENT! beam!  She aced it!
Lots of jumping up and down.
Up past the fountain of doom.
We had a blast!
Next on the schedule?  The end of school (in every sense of the word), and The Wild Cowgirls' "Cowboy Mountain Trail Challenge" in Walla Walla!  But I think I'll save that for "Part 2."


  1. Even for those of us who follow you on Facebook, it is great to see this summary (Part 1..) of your life. And congrats on retirement! Welcome to the club.

  2. It's great to hear from you again - and nice to get a report on all your exciting doings!

  3. Kate, you were one I knew would appreciate the update. Your connection to Paradigm was part of our journey towards the retirement board business.

  4. Beautiful horses, farm, and barns!

  5. I loved this post, and hope you are back to blogging! I was confused at the beginning of your story - did you start the business in 2013 or 2014?

    I love the pic of Kate nearly swimming. What a fantastic sport/hobby to do with horses! Have you heard of horse agility? That's another fun one I'd love to try someday.

    1. Yikes! You're right, I have the date wrong! We did start "officially" in 2013. I'll have to kick my hubby off the big computer to correct it. While I'm there, I'll start the next post--though it's not quite as happy...

    2. Also, hello, Lytha! Good to see you are still following. ;-)

  6. Great to hear from you- and great post!

  7. Congratulations on your retirement! Looks like you're really enjoying yourself. Kate is a star in my book. I'd love to try those challenges you and she have been doing. Looks like so much fun. Can't wait to hear more.