At the beginning of December, we packed up the barn and moved the whole program down to Aiken, SC for the winter season. Since the cold weather up north is not conducive to productive horse training, many horse professionals move their businesses down south for the winter. Aiken is a winter eventing mecca with a calendar packed full of schooling and recognized events. I came down here last year with the trainer I rode with back home, and I had a great time being surrounded by all horses all the time. That experience is what actually solidified my desire to take a gap year and become a working student for this whole year. While it was a lot of work to get all of the horses and the barn down here, I am so happy to be down here in the warmth and surrounded by horse farms and people.
The show season in Aiken does not ramp up until January, so we spent December settling into the new routine at the new farm and getting all the horses legged up and ready to go. Most of the training horses have been in my boss’ program for a long time, which meant that they worked quite hard through the spring, summer, and early fall, so many of them enjoyed well-deserved vacation or period of light work towards the end of the fall. Once we got down to Aiken, all of the horses’ workloads started ramping up again to get them fit and ready for show season. We also now have a lot more training horses and a bigger team of people to manage them, which has been a great opportunity for me to meet and learn from more people.
I have already gotten to go on a few outings already, including cross country schooling and a great dressage clinic. I am excited to attend my first schooling jumper show this week and then hopefully my first event with Ella by the end of the month. I am super excited for all the adventures and learning the rest of the Aiken season will bring!