I was without a horse, and I was missing doing some down and dirty manual labor.
I had accomplished unpacking every single box I had, planted three flower beds as well as planted a flower pot, and raked the entire backyard. There's not much manual labor left to do around here.
I put an ad on Craigslist (thinking it probably wouldn't be answered). I was wrong. It took a couple of weeks, but I had two responses. One was from a nice lady who owned two horses and rented a throw-together farm; however, she knew very little about horses. The second one seemed more promising: a prominent Quarter Horse, Paint Horse barn who was big time show people in the AQHA/APHA circuit before deciding to switch to eventing horses (think "Olympics").
They were in the process of moving into a larger facility and really needed some help.
We played phone tag a bit, and we finally caught up. We talked about their program, their location, and their plans of having a disabled veteran hippotherapy program there in the future.
Andrew and I drove out there Friday night: it is 20 miles away, and takes about that long to get there. That drive places us in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the community of Ball Ground, Georgia.
We miss the turn off for the barn the first go-round, but Andrew caught sight of it, "holy crap - look at that barn!"
We make a U-turn, pull into the driveway, and are confronted with a barn modeled after a French Chateau or English manor home. You know the main entry into the Biltmore? That's what this barn looks like. On either side there are 6 barn windows, pastures on either side, and a full-sized, lighted riding arena. As we walk inside, it is lined, on either side, with approximately 12-14 stalls, a wash area, a tack room, bathroom, and some other nooks and crannies.
We ended up staying for almost 6 hours talking to the owners. They are truly wonderful and kind people. We hit it off immediately. As we leave, the owners tell us we're welcomed to come up whenever, and they give us the security code for the gate.
We leave, and Andrew's as excited as I am. The owners didn't have a lot of time to do things so far this season due to moving, etc. but they had high hopes: hopes that Andrew and I could take part in.
Andrew left to go camping today with his dad and nephew, and I headed to the barn to take measurements for the English garden to plant in front of the barn area. The owner met me outside, and I helped her feed, talked some more, she gave me a mini tour, and I finally settled (3 hours later) stating that I would be back tomorrow after work.
I can't wait to tell Andrew all we talked about today! What an amazing place and an even better opportunity.