Barn shopping is one of those tasks that starts off stressful – the whole reason you’re looking around is because there’s some sort of problem with your current place, right? But then it starts to get kinda fun: you’re meeting lots of people, touring some interesting places, and visualizing that perfect facility that you’re sure will be just around the next corner.
|Philosoraptor meme made by yours truly at QuickMeme.com|
But then it gets stressful again, because you can’t seem to find that barn of your dreams. For some reason or another each barn doesn’t seem to work for your group. Too expensive. Too far. No lights. Don’t like their feed. Poorly kept paddocks. Bad arenas. Owners are crazy.
Its always something.
In the course of this barn shopping endeavor, I called over 20 boarding facilities. Some immediately got the ax, but I visited a total of 10 barns, and barn mates visited an additional 3 without me. I also did drive-by’s of 4 facilities (and for 2 of ’em I couldn’t drive away fast enough! Gross!). All told, that is A LOT of barns.
When you’re in that stressful mode of not being able to find a barn, you start to get a little desperate. As J.D. and I were driving through a neighborhood that had several boarding facilities, we happened to notice an arena with several riders in it. It appeared to be a well-groomed facility, from what we could tell through the trees. We slowed, looking for a driveway and hopefully a sign for the facility. We found a driveway with a big black gate, but no sign. We went around the other way and found another entrance, but again no sign.
So J.D. decided to ring the buzzer on the gate. I was surprised by her guts, but hey – you never know unless you ask, right?
She rang the buzzer and a pleasant woman answered. We asked if they had horse boarding and she said they were a private training and boarding facility, and offered to give us a tour. We drove in, and immediately knew we were not in Kansas anymore. We parked in between a yellow porshe and a red shelby cobra. Oh dear.
The pleasant woman was none other than Amy Ebeling, respected Dressage rider and wife of Jan Ebeling (pronounced: yawn). He’s world renowned Dressage trainer and instructor, with recent fame from riding the lovely Rafalca at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Rafalca got lots of press, being partially owned by Anne Romney (Amy Ebeling is also a co-owner). Turns out we had stumbled upon The Acres, the Ebelings’ pristine training farm I had known was somewhere in Moorpark but never knew where exactly.
Amy graciously gave us a tour. Those horses live better than I do. Huge stalls with fancy mat system and mountains of fresh shavings. Covered eurociser. Security camera system where they can view the horses in their stalls from their iPads and iPhones. Highest grade nike + sand footing dressage arena with over sized mirrors. Immaculately manicured grounds. Full time staff of the highest caliber, with working students living on-site. Professional music sound system. Watered grass grazing pastures. Tack room sparkling with perfectly oiled bridles, matching tack trunks and saddle covers.
|Jan Ebeling aboard Rafalca at the 2012 Olympic Games
Photo courtesy of http://www.nydailynews.com
We went to the ring where several lessons were going on. The gal being instructed by Jan was doing no-stirrup work. All the horses were gorgeous – fit as a fiddle and gleaming with the full bloom of health. Everyone was very welcoming and kind. Jan personally greeted us and shook hands. We watched the lessons for a few minutes before we took our leave.
It will come to no surprise that the price point was well above my capabilities, though I’m sure its worth every penny. Maybe I could save up to haul over and take a lesson once in a blue moon. Hemie and I are a ways off from that though.
Overall it was a delightful accidental adventure while barn shopping.