While Theo and I were away, the barn changed a lot. The name changed, the owner changed, and the clientele changed. It used to be primarily h/j with me as the one weird DQ and my friend as the one weird eventer. Weekly lessons with the resident h/j trainer were required.
Nowadays there's no resident trainer, everyone is pretty much doing their own thing. Several trainers are coming in to teach and Trainer Z is on the list of trainers that can come and give lessons. Almost all of the riders are dressage focused. I don't know how it happened but the barn is now a dressage barn without actually saying anywhere that it's a dressage barn. How do I know? When I dropped off Theo, two ladies were discussing whether or not someone should stay at Second considering she just barely squeaked a 60% in Second 1 and that was with an infamously generous judge. Yeah, these are my people. One of the riders is working on her Second level freestyle so they have a Bluetooth speaker set up in the indoor so she can work on movements while controlling the music from her phone.
Of course I'm weird for a dressage rider since I have zero focus in disciplines but at least I'm not the weirdo with the strange equipment anymore. When my double arrived with the h/j riders, everyone was confused and fascinated by having two bits. What the heck is that for? Do two bits even fit in one mouth? When I was unpacking last weekend and put Theo's double away with the dressage crew hanging out in the tack room, the reaction was quite different. First the conversation in the room actually paused as everyone noted that the new horse has a double. Then came the questions like 'sooooo what's his story?'. It's wasn't about what the heck is that bridle for, they already knew that. A double means one of two things: I'm utterly clueless and over bridling my horse or my horse is further along than they thought based on him standing in a paddock or plopping around on the lunge line.
The double is actually here in case he decides to test my left shoulder like he does about once every six months. We'll just nip that kind of behavior in the bud these days, kthx. One ride with a curb will usually end that conversation rather than letting it escalate. Safety is important these days and an emergency brake system is a lovely piece of safety equipment. He sure as hell isn't fit enough to actually work in it. Neither am I, for that matter. But I'm finding myself thinking about 'one day'. One day he'll be working his changes and need the extra refinement. I won't be the one in the saddle but might as well have all his equipment standing by.
It's not a group of fancy dancy dressage horses, they're mostly stock horse types that are transitioning over from other jobs as their owners decide to focus on dressage. There's a pair of OTTBs that are learning the low level dressage ropes. Lots of First and Second level with one working on Fourth. Theo is still one of the taller ones so you know there's not a lot of WBs trotting around. Legs is still the fanciest thing in the barn but then again Legs would be the fanciest thing in a lot of barns.
The new crowd has opened up some new opportunities. No one is looking for a ploppy cross rails partner this time. With the usual 'so and so is hurt' going on, there's a couple riders looking to get in some saddle time and having an experienced dressage horse drop in has caught their attention. Theo got to meet a potential new friend in the form of a teenager that had her lease horse go lame just as summer was getting started. You know, like they do.
As far as meet and greets go, it was perfect. I insisted she lunge first because he got a day off. It was . . . uneventful.
So, so very wild. And the ride was just as uneventful. After about two minutes I put my little roller spurs on her so Theo would actually trot on. She walked, trotted, cantered, did some little leg yields, and even tried out his walk to canter once so she could get a feel for how he's different than the other horses she's ridden.
Theo quite liked her eagerness to tell him he's clever, pet him, and stuff treats in his face. I like the fact she's got soft hands and a quiet seat. She's in regular lessons with a respected dressage trainer so it works out well. She has a horse to lesson on that can show her the ropes and Theo has someone that will dote on him and ride him in a correct way. She is a First Level rider and Theo is perfect for that right now. He's very solid at that level and can let her try out some of the fun tricks at Second over the summer.
I'm really enjoying not being the lone weirdo for once. I will enjoy this summer surrounded by similar weirdos.