Well, DC has now turned into something resembling Dante’s ninth circle of hell. It’s cold and windy. And not just a little bit. Temperatures this week are going to top out at 20ºF, with nightly lows near zero. Winds are gusting enough to threaten the continued connection between my storm door and the front of my house. The weather has been so uncooperative that several evenings’ worth of lessons at the barn have been converted to ground lessons, out of concern for both horse and rider. Even my private jumping lesson got nixed by the day’s high temp of 17ºF.

So in a moment of opportunity and desperation, I managed to successfully invite myself (actually Charlie Brown) to take an extended field trip to Aiken, so he can train with Kate Chadderton for a few months. We worked out the details of it over text, so it feels like a whirlwind. He leaves in a little less than a week, and will be gone for about two months, returning to DC around the time of the cherry blossoms, and in time for the Eric Smiley spring clinic.

I have no idea what to expect because I’ve never done this before. I’m nervous that I won’t pack something that he desperately needs. I’m worried that he will get sick in a new place. I’m afraid I won’t send enough grain with him. Heck, I can’t figure out how I’m going to send a month’s worth of grain with him because our grain comes in bulk, not in bags. Note to self: see what kind of bins Target has…

While Charlie is in SC, he will learn from Kate, get a chance to work in 40º and 50º weather, start his conditioning work, and see some new cross-country questions. I will stay home and work.  Hey, I’ve got to pay for this expensive amateur sport somehow! But I will, continue to ride school horses at home. And with luck, I’ll go down to Aiken on occasion and ride with Kate. Maybe we can even have a go at some of the local schooling opportunities.

I’m also hopeful. I’m hopeful that Charlie will learn things from Kate that I don’t know how to teach him. I’m hopeful that he will gain experience on cross country beyond what I’m able to show him.  I’m hopeful he will get increased confidence from working with a confident and capable rider like Kate. I’m hopeful that I will be a better rider when we connect up again. I’m eager to ride in a new place. I’m excited to grow with Charlie.

I’m looking forward to making forward progress – for both Charlie and me.

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