To horse people, a barn isn’t simply a place where you keep your horse and a facility at which you ride. It’s a social circle. A place where dreams are made – and sometimes broken. A place of learning and growth, where you realize what you’re made of. Where you can lose and find your courage and strength. It’s where you learn hard life lessons sometimes, but also experience some of your greatest joys.
Along the way, the people you share your time with there become more than just “horse friends.” They are your eyes on the ground and your voice of reason. Your show buddies and travel companions. The first ones to share a cold drink with you when it’s needed – by any of you. They are your biggest supporters while also being your biggest enforcers when they know you need a gentle – or sometimes a hard – push. Their ribbons and successes mean as much to you as to them. And sometimes more. They share in your crazy and even encourage it.
In short, they are the family you chose and never knew you couldn’t live without.
When we became horrible eventers almost three years ago, we sort of blindly found and moved to Montclair Stables in Georgia. New trainer, new barn, new barn friends…. new discipline. It was a lot all at once, but Nicky and her crew were so welcoming, and Montclair soon felt like home. I never thought I could replace it.
When she learned I was moving about two years ago, Nicky recommended I check out Rose Hill, as Felicia had bought a horse from her several years ago. While here on a house scouting trip, I went out to meet Felicia and see the barn, and I instantly knew I was home.
Ollie and I arrived, and Felicia and Jeff and the whole barn crew welcomed me with open arms. They, Amanda and Melissa have become some of my favorite people in Texas, or anywhere really. They wholeheartedly accepted me and my quirky ways – and Ollie and his charmingly idiotic ways too. They have seen me through a tail amputation, colic and mystery lameness. They’ve watched as I lost my balls and now (mostly) found them again.
We’ve supported each other through horse sales and leases (on both ends), deaths of loved furry ones and through life in general. Our friendship is beyond the walls of the barn. And while that will never change, we’ve arrived at the end of an era, and I’m feeling wistful and weepy.
Mel is taking a break from riding and has leased out her goober Cole. Amanda is moving to Seattle this summer for a great, exciting new job opportunity. And Felicia and Jeff have now sold Rose Hill Stables and will soon be moving to Gainesville, Texas.
I know that this barn has been family for so many over the years. We’ll never be out of each others’ lives, but it saddens me knowing that this chapter is closing. It’s all very bittersweet.
Next month, I’ll be moving over to Tempus Eventing, where Angela will continue to whip me and Ollie into shape. They are all such kind and lovely people, and I hope they come to love me as family like the Rose Hill gang has. And I am sure they will all become family to me as well.
Your barn folks you collect over the years kind of make up a big symbolic magnolia tree, with each branch supporting the next but never really eclipsing each other. Evergreen, ever there in your mind no matter where you go. And each year it blooms just a little more, brightening up your world with its pungent flowers, reminding you of old memories as you make new ones.
To my Rose Hill family, go forward and thrive. I can’t wait to see what blossoms for you.