First Rides

Marley has been on the East Coast now for over a month, and honestly I couldn’t be more pleased with how well he’s settled in. I was optimistic – part of the reason I decided to try bringing him out here was because I felt the environment at our new barn made for happy, content horses – but of course I still spun up and worried about everything from them humidity, to flies, to new turnout… the list goes on.

There’s also been that niggle about whether Marley would settle enough for me to find a half-leaser or have my trainer use him for lessons on days I can’t get out to the barn. He was of course a nightmare when I was rehabbing him, but otherwise I’d always found him to be reliable, steady, and just a lovely horse to ride. Since being returned to Davis he’d reportedly been a super solid citizen, so we had that in our favor – but I’d gotten some feedback from the girl who “bought” him that made me wonder if his personality had changed.

Spoiler alert: he’s been foot-perfect. His personality has not changed. Everybody loves him. I’m so proud of how well he’s doing.

Marley arrived on a Friday and we had our first ride on Saturday. I’d planned to give him a few more days to settle in given the length of his journey, but he was so calm and seemed so curious and happy that I figured just walking around couldn’t hurt. We rode in the indoor since there was a lesson going on outside, and he was a little tense and looky but honestly so good.

He had Sunday off and I came back out on Monday morning before work to ride again. We rode outside and I threw him on the lunge just to see if he had any sillies. Zero sillies, even when one of the horses was bouncing around in turnout not too far from the outdoor arena. I hopped on and Marley just went straight to work, seemingly delighted to be out and about.

I had been a little curious as to whether Marley would be as fun to ride as I remembered. Honestly, he wasn’t super fun through much of his rehab and it had been so long since I’d ridden him properly that I figured there as a good chance I’d get on him and think “oh… he’s fine.” Happily, he’s every bit as fun as I remembered and it is SO NICE to have him back. We have plenty to work on, of course, but he’s the most honest, willing partner. I’m so thrilled to have the opportunity to keep working and growing with my red monster again!

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FedEx for Horses

Did you know that you can, like, FedEx a horse across the country?

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To say that things moved quickly once I decided to pull the trigger on bringing Marley East would be an understatement. I have a longer post queued up reviewing in detail my experience with selecting and then working with a long-distance shipper, but for this post we’re going to focus on the insanely fast process that had Marley leaving California on a Tuesday morning and rolling into his new digs almost exactly 72 hours later.

I reached out to Brook Ledge on a Sunday to officially inquire about getting Marley on a truck. They responded quickly, and by mid-day Monday I was at an airport, en route to a work conference in Texas, calling in my credit card. I was originally told to expect that he’d ship in perhaps one or two weeks, which seemed perfect.

Fast forward about 3 hours to me landing in Austin, firing up my phone, and seeing that I had a voicemail. The connection wasn’t great and I had trouble understanding the message, but I thought the very nice man was saying that they wanted to get Marley on “Tuesday’s trip”. Tuesday, as in, the very next day.

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I immediately texted my friend and fellow CANTER volunteer, Jody, who was helping to coordinate Marley-related thing in Davis.

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Cue a few hours of scrambling while we tried to confirm that we could get her paperwork, Jody performed miraculous feats of awesomeness to get electrolytes and Gastrogard, and Marley was fed a slightly rushed but delicious bran mash to try and get him extra hydrated.

The next morning, right on time, the van pulled up and Marley was prepped to start his journey.

By 6 or so in the morning California time, he’d pulled out of Davis and was Kentucky-bound. I was a NERVOUS WRECK. In retrospect, I’m so happy that this happened quickly, because otherwise I don’t know if I would have survived the anxiety. I was super confident in the shippers, but nervous that Marley wouldn’t handle the trip, or would colic, or wouldn’t drink water, or would somehow impale himself in the trailer, or would get to the East Coast and break down, or… I have a very active imagination.

Come Friday I was able to head out to the barn to meet my trainer and wait patiently (hah) for the trailer to arrive. As promised, Marley rolled up just after 9am and I was so nervous that I totally failed to take any pictures of him on the trailer. He was clearly ready to get off, and the driver asked that I unload him. In classic Marley fashion he marched off the trailer without any fuss, looked around, spotted some grass, and started pulling me in the direction of the green stuff.

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WTF just happened?

My trainer had prepped a small paddock right near the driveway for Marley, so I got him in there pretty quickly and made sure he had food and water in front of him immediately.

He was definitely sweaty but overall seemed to be in very good condition. Within a few minutes of going into the paddock he had sucked down half a bucket of water and tucked right into his hay. I let him hang out for a while, pulled him into the crossties for a quick grooming session a bit later in the day, and generally just stood around feeling a little stunned that my Red Monster had found his way to the East Coast.

It’s going to be an interesting adventure figuring out how to make Horse Life coexist with City Life, but I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to try it.