Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Kalvin Moves Out

Sunday was Kalvin's big day.  Katy was scheduled to arrive around 2:00 to move Kalvin to his new home at The Shea Center where she works as a newly minted therapeutic riding instructor.  She started out as a volunteer, exercising and training the horses at the center.  She loved it so much that she ditched her plans to go to nursing school and instead enrolled in their program to become certified as an instructor.  She starts work full time there Monday and one of the perks is being able to have her horse boarded there with her. 

Kalvin spent his morning and early afternoon as usual, eating and hanging out with Jackson.  I apologize for the PG rating on these photos.  For some reason, he was dropped down all afternoon.  Happy?  Relaxed? Needs to pee?

Katy arrived around 2:30 and got Kalvin ready to go.  She wrapped his legs for the trailer ride and then loaded him onto our trailer.  He stepped right on, only pausing to take a bite of hay from the bale sitting just inside the trailer door.  Katy took a bale of our hay to help him transition to the hay at the Shea Center.

When we got to the center, he unloaded and walked calmly with her to the round pen where she put him to chill, roll and run around while setting up his stall.

Get a load of this arena.  The footing is amazing; the same footing used at the World Cup.  It's a mixture of sand and silicone.  We were drooling with envy.  They have the same footing in the round pen.

While Kalvin was cooling his jets, Katy gave us a short tour.  The mounting blocks are designed for wheelchair access and allow a therapist to stand on either side of the horse, helping the rider mount.  It's very similar to the setup described in Courtney King-Dye's article about her rehab (in the June issue of Dressage Today).

There are two tack rooms at the Shea Center.  One is for hippotherapy horses and the other for therapeutic riding.  Courtney recently "graduated" from hippotherapy to therapeutic.  The tack rooms were amazing.  First, we went in the one for hippotherapy.  Each horse has their own bucket of brushes (spotless) and tack.

The therapeutic riding tack room was huge.  And clean.  You could have eaten off of the floors.  I kid you not.  And all those beautiful saddles?  Donated by Custom Saddlery --- which makes me feel good about owning one.

Outside the tack room, on the barn wall, was a huge white board with the horses names and schedules.  This week the therapy school is on vacation and they are having camp instead.  Katy says she misses her therapy kids.  Able-bodied kids are a bit wild and wooly.

The barn was amazing.  The Shea Center is in San Juan Capistrano so the climate is about as perfect as you can get.  Not too hot in the summer since it is on the coast, and not too cold in the winter.  The barn is a wide open structure with a roof.  The roof was full of skylights so it was full of light.  There are two aisles, dividing the barn into four areas.  The stalls are very large and open with stall mats covering some sort of footing that was very squishy and soft.  It felt like walking on a mattress.  I couldn't help but think it would be good for Jackson's feet.  The stalls were clean, the aisles were spotless, and the horses didn't have a speck of dust.  They were all groomed and in good weight, relaxed and content.  The energy of the barn was very peaceful. 

Each horse had  two cards.  One had feeding instructions and the other gave information about the horse.  Here's Annie, for example.

Meanwhile, Katy was busy grooming Kalvin and getting him ready to be tucked into his new stall.  He came down the aisle like a bride on the arm of her father (well, Katy), greeting all the guests and enjoying the attention.

He settled right into his stall, digging into his hay and then going off to meet the neighbors.

I think he's going to be just fine.  How could he not be?  He will see Katy every day, be surrounded by new friends with enough access for mutual wither scratching, and great footing.  Life is going to be very good for Kalvin.


  1. congrats to kalvin on his new digs and to katy on her new career! awesome for both, i think!

  2. lovely place. i needed sunglasses just to read your blog.

    i loved all the laminated signs, it's totally my kind of organized!

    i'm sorry though that guests are not allowed to touch horses; (

    i tried to volunteer at a handicapped riding center nearby and they say to VOLUNTEER you need to go through extensive, costly schooling. they wouldn't let me work there for free! screw that.

    1. The Shea Center's not like that... everyone can volunteer... And they just have the signs up because a few horses are biters and they need to have the signs up for liability reasons... People aren't allowed down there unless they have someone (like a volunteer or staff member) with them. It really is a wonderful place... Very laid back... Organized... Spotless... as you can see...

  3. oh, and i not only have horse experience, but i worked with handicapped people during my college years. still, in germany, my experience means nothing.

  4. Looks like a smooth transition. What an outstanding facility! You will have to keep us posted.

  5. oh wow, quite a place! Is this near Carlsbad? We just spent three weeks in California and my favorite place was Carlsbad. I would so like to move there!

  6. Wow what an amazing place! That tack room is incredible!
    I hope Kalvin and Katie are both happy there - I don't see why they wouldn't be!

  7. I worked as an equestrian hippotherepy instructor at a large campus for severely mentally handicapped adults and our facility looked NOTHING like that! That is beautiful. I am ready to move into one of those stalls next to Kalvin. I am sure he will love it.

  8. Excellent post!

    Congrats to Katie and Kalvin. What a wonderful facility that is - I'll likely be doing a little cleaning at my barn later today. *blush*

  9. Thank you for this blog and its gives tremendous information.........

  10. I have heard of The Shea Center, but I have never seen it "in person". The barn and setup is one of the most impressive I have ever seen. I am still drooling over all the donated leather saddles. The program is extremely fortunate!

    Thanks for sharing. I can see why Katy would have wanted to work there full-time. A beautiful facility complete with free board? No brainer!


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