Right now the large indoor arena is littered with poles and jumps; the mirrors are smeared with horse slobber and you can hear the noises of a bustling barn right behind the main gate. It smells like cold dirt, and warm horses, which may be common of all barns, but this particular scent is distinctive to me. This is the place that my barn family has called home for the past four years. It was home to my baby hunter horse, the place that happily hosted wine nights as well as boot camp workouts, and the place I felt safest bringing my sleeping newborn when maternity-leave cabin fever was killing me. I know where all the light switches are, exactly how far it is to walk to the pasture field, and how to escape-proof that one stall that always was a pain.
But more than that, this place has a piece of my past too. When I was a junior rider, it was my favorite place to show in the city. I spent my teenage weekends grooming horses for my trainer, schooling evil ponies, and jumping around the beautiful arena on some of my favorite horses of all time. I won year end awards there, as well as conked my head over an oxer on the far end with the spooky corner. Every inch is covered in old memories as well as these new ones.
Over a year ago, the current facility owners opted to put the property on the market. Not surprising given that the suburbs were inching closer and closer. Months and months passed, and honestly I forgot about it. Most riders did. Shows continued, lessons continued, daily barn life moved on, regardless of the realtor sign planted in the corner of the land. That is, until recently when everything changed course. We found out a few weeks ago that an offer had been made.
We learned that a developer had purchased the land, and while they offered an extension on the lease, they showed little interest in maintaining the property. For the good of our horses, and for our people, my trainer made the choice to leave at the end of our lease. Now, before the end of 2017, our barn family will be moving to a new private facility nearby. For the first time in decades, the 50 stall facility, with three arenas and a beautiful back property will be vacant of horse or rider. From what we understand, it will be left to stand, perhaps as storage until the developer decides what avenue to pursue with the land it sits on.
It’s not a new story. Facilities come and go, trend and age. I am not blind, I can see the arena walls are bowed in some places, and I know how difficult it is to manage such a large property as it ages. The wash stall sometimes floods, and I’m pretty sure one overhead doors is stuck shut. Yet, I still look around during my rides and remember the decade of laughter and learning that took place there. I’m going to miss having the chance to relive my riding pasts anytime I please. I’m grateful for the chance to recreate new memories in our new home, but saying goodbye will be very difficult. Some buildings leave a lasting impression on the people who flourish under them, and I’m very honored to have spent even a portion of my riding career with this one.