20 Things I’ve Learned in My First Month in Florida

In December EN blogger and Vermont eventer Kate Rakowski spread her snowbird wings and flew south to Ocala, Florida (see blog post here) with her horse, Kissa. The mission: training with Tik Maynard. Today she reports back! 

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

20 Things I’ve learned in my first month in Florida:

1. There is a very high D/M (Dollar Store Per Square Mile) ratio here. And you can get large storage tubs, a pair of tweezers and two bottles of wine in one outing to Dollar General.

2. You should tie wheelbarrows down in the back of your truck if you plan to drive down the highway.

3. Hives, scurf, rain rot and all manner of gross are to be expected on any horse who arrives.

4. Everything molds instantly. Nothing ever dries.

5. Despite never having skipped winter before, you instantly forget what the depression and misery feel like.

6. It takes four sets of clipper blades to body clip a really furry Vermont horse over the course of three days while it rains on and off; it’s so hot and humid that she will still be wet in some parts and already sweating in others after you bathe her; and you’re plugged in to the back of the house holding her while you clip. And she will look awful, making you feel like a redneck hick from the northern sticks.

After two sets of clipper blades. The other side had less done. Photo by Kate Rakowski.

7. GPS is only moderately helpful here. It often thinks that dirt tracks are roads.

GPS said to turn here to get to Tik & Sinead’s place. Photo by Kate Rakowski.

8. On downward transitions, keep her hind legs trotting while her front end walks and the other way around in the upwards.

9. Despite the fact that she doesn’t think so, it is possible to move her feet with her neck long and low.

10. Despite the fact that you thought you’d taught her #9 since starting under saddle, you haven’t taught her well enough.

11. There is an age limit to living with roommates and I’m above it.

12. The hay in the burn pile will still be smoldering after 3 ½” of rain.

13. Your shoulders are connected to her shoulders; if you want her to lift hers you have to lift yours.

14. Using too much rope and not enough stick while doing groundwork is just like using too much hand and not enough leg while riding. And even if you can spot others doing it you’ll still do it too.

15. The frozen compartment of a mini fridge is not cold enough for ice cream. It’s OK to cry over a wasted Ben and Jerry’s pint.

16. Seat gives them confidence; leg gives speed.

17. It is possible to have a lesson in which you have 20+ stops at five jumps and still not feel like all is totally lost but only if you have a kind, patient and thoughtful instructor.

18. Having an efficiency apartment that is really a converted stall is pretty awesome if you sit in the front of the barn with your morning coffee and watch cute horses as the mist lifts every morning.

Christmas morning. Photo by Kate Rakowski.

19. Wrapping Christmas lights around palm trees is a thing, but it doesn’t really feel like Christmas when it’s 80 and you go out for the evening in a t-shirt.

Downtown Ocala from a horse-drawn carriage. Photo by Kate Rakowski.

20. Even if you only knit a little at a time, you will eventually end up with a finished thing (yes kiddies, this is also a metaphor for training horses).