Ok I'm back for some more writing! Although CT was awesome I was ready to go south and get use to the warm weather! The Solomon's rented a barn for the FL "season". They also had a nice apartment attached to the barn that they lived in. My apartment was also very nice and just a short walk across the arena. We got the horses all situated and settled in and then I brought all my stuff the my apartment and got some sleep.
Work started as usual and I had to adjust to the new settings. FL was great. There were three full size arenas and a small sand track around one. Julie had her own private arena with great sand footing and of course large outdoor mirrors. Along the far side of the farm, about 15 feet from the arenas was a small canal which we would occasionally see alligators in. The alligators would come and sit right next to the arenas and bask in the sun. Not something we really enjoyed so we would go get the property owner to chase them away.
The farm had six stalls, one which we used for storage of feed and bedding. The floors all had rubber matts and the barn was very breathable and each stall had a fan. We had two small fields for turnout that the horses had to be watched closely in because if they would start to run around or dig they would ruin the grass due to the sandy ground. Pierre and Pam Goodrich also kept their horses and clients there. It was fun to watch them work their upper level dressage horses.
The town we lived in was called Loxahatchee and we lived in a gaited community called White Fences. From our farm there was a loop that I could ride around and do trot sets on which passed the show ground where some dressage shows were held.
I had been riding Julie's pony, Rolando a very fancy little guy. She was trying to get him sold so we took him over to another farm to get some hunter lessons and take some photos (above). He was a lot of fun.
Although I enjoyed Wellington very much, I couldn't do what I loved to do and that was event. I told Julie that I was going to begin to look for a job in which I could event and she totally understood. I made a few phone calls to contacts that Jon Holling (www.hollingeventing.com) had given me as he was full this winter with students and didn't have room for me. I found a few places to keep Hannah and live. I called Darren Chiacchia (www.eventrider.com) and he asked me to come north for an interview. It was right after Christmas and my mom and my two sisters came down for a week to visit me. My mom and I drove north to Ocala to meet Darren and see the farm. He said he was looking for some help on the farm and offered me a job in exchange for my living expenses and with a small weekly salary on top of that. I loved the farm and was excited for this opportunity to train with one of the best trainers in our sport.
Julie's husband Keith offered to trailer Hannah up north for me which was great as I had no means of transport for her. I packed my truck up, said my goodbyes and we caravaned north to Ocala on the last day of December, just in time for the New Year!
INDEPENDENCE FARM SOUTH
DARREN M. CHIACCHIA
DARREN M. CHIACCHIA
I arrived at Darren's and Cristin Stoop, Darren's groom, greeted me and told me where to put Hannah and my stuff. I met my roommate, Missy Miller, and instantly got along great with her. I got all moved in, showered and went to the house where Darren had made everyone dinner. He is an absolutely amazing cook and funny guy who always has a good joke to tell. It was time to go out for the New Year. I drove a truckload of his students behind him to a few different places ending at Sarah Kozumplik's (now Dierks) farm. (www.overlookfarm-eventing.com) I got a chance to talk to a lot of great people and get different experiences from other working students.
Work didn't start promply the next day, Darren allowed us to do chores and then rest a little. But after that work was very hard. We got up and begun turning out the horses and then feeding them at 7am. Then stalls were cleaned and water buckets scrubbed and refilled. Once chores were all done we would get horses ready for Darren to ride. Cristin would have the list of horses that Darren would be working and what horses his students would be riding and what time lessons would be. It was very orderly. Once Darren was done riding his horses, we would ride a few of his horses and then our own. We would do occasional group lessons which were fun. Either I would ride Hannah or one of Darren's horses. It was hard work from 7am-5/6pm 7 days a week.
It was something I really enjoyed and offered me great experience. We got a chance to go and school XC at Longwood Farm South, winter home of the US Olympic 3 Day Equestrian Team and an absolute rider's paradise. 120 acres of lush grass, beautifal farms and a full XC course. It was a blast!
Towards the end of January we were off to our first show at the Florida Horse Park in Ocala. We loaded up all the gear and horses and drove the the park, about a 30 minute drive from the farm. We unloaded horses, bedded stalls, filled water buckets and moved all the gear out into the feed/tack stalls.
I hacked Hannah that evening around the park and did a short dressage school. We were ready for a FL show!
The next day was dressage, Darren warmed us up and she was feeling awesome! We put in a great test receiving a 33.5 and putting us into 4th place. We then did a XC course walk and the course looked very do-able and there are no hills at Ocala. I took Hannah for a long walk and grazed her before we fed and headed back to Independence Farm South to finish up farm chores.
The next morning I was to stay at Independence Farm South and help Carlos with morning turnout and chores. Once I got chores done I headed to the horse park and arrived at about 8:30 am. Only to discover that Hannah wasn't in her stall.
Cristin Stoop said that when she went to feed the horses around 6am that she was missing. After she fed the horses she notified the show office. When I got to the horse park, my friend Meaghan Marinovich notified me that Hannah was missing. Her dad, John Marinovich and her helped me look in all of the stalls at the horse park to see if someone had put her away. The show office made regular announcements notifying the park that she was missing and was last seen the night before. I was an absolute wreck and was in tears most of the morning. I called my mom and she caught a flight and was going to fly down. I then called the police station and issued a stolen horse file and the Marion County police sent police officers to the park on horse back to ride the perimeter and through the woods. A helicopter was also sent and flew over the area for a few hours looking for a loose horse. The day seemed to last forever and no progress was being made. I drove all around to houses and farms boarding the horse park and asked neighbors if they had seen a loose horse, made flyers and handed them out. I also filed her as missing the Stolen Horse International (www.netposse.com) which is a great program for recovering missing or stolen horses.
It was around 5:30pm when someone finally came to the horse park and notified the show office that they had found a bay mare and put her into their cow's pasture. I was so excited that she wasn't gone and instantly got in my friend Missy Miller's truck and hauled her trailer over 2 miles down the road to get her. My friend Andrina Calder came with me. We pulled up to the field and she was in the far corner, I yelled her name and whistled loudly. Her head shot up, she whinnied and came galloping across the field. She was so happy to get out of the cow field, as she hates cows, and be with someone she recognized. I will never know what happened when she went missing but all I could do was cry with joy that she was home safe. My mom arrived to the horse park shortly after we picked her up and we were both happy to have her back. Due to financial issues and family health problems I decided to head home to MN and pursue a college degree. Shortly after returning home my dad, Eric John Lund, died of a brain tumor 4/4/06. It was a hard time for me but I have such a great support system through my family, friends and the horse community. He will be missed and remembered forever. Although I had thoroughly enjoyed being in Florida it was a relief to be home despite the weather.
(check out story at http://www.netposse.com/stolenmissing/hannahFL06.htm)
I registered to go to UW-Stout in the fall of 2006 and was looking forward to a great summer!