As you're probably aware, we know how to hustle over here at Laura G Dressage. A busy show season was followed by an unexpectedly even busier fall - we moved! Laura Goodenkauf Dressage is proud to call Fortissimo Farm in Shadow Hills, CA our new home!
I wasn't actively looking to move. Since Team LGD came to be quite a few years ago, we've been at several different facilities for one reason or another. It's hard as a young trainer starting out. You have to make compromises - usually you compromise one of two elements: control or "fanciness". I've experienced both situations.
I was at a beautiful facility for several years and allowed to operate my business under the umbrella of another, more established trainer. I had access to amazing amenities. The arenas had top quality footing, there were sun pens and a eurosizer available, and the client lounge even had a fancy coffee machine. It was swanky. But it also wasn't mine. No part of my business was mine... the scheduling, the horse's daily routines, how the horses worked, how the clients rode, how I billed people... Even though I was technically an independent contractor running my own separate business along with this other trainer at the fancy facility, I didn't have complete control over any aspect of my business.
After years of being frustrated over the lack of control over my business, I decided to sacrifice the "fancy" facility for another barn where, even though it wasn't quite as nice, I would have complete control over how the horses were handled, ridden, and cared for and how my clients were treated. The barn I moved to still provided top quality care of the horses and, while, the footing in the arenas wasn't perfect, it was certainly safe and functional. The downside - the bathroom wasn't as nice and there wasn't a gourmet coffee machine in the lounge... but everything worked. What I lost in "fanciness", I made up for in the ability to control more of my business.
It soon became clear that facility wasn't going to be a permanent home. The barn's clientle was mostly trail riders and hobbyists. Having a dressage trainer using the arena for most of the day when other boarders needed it for turn outs was becoming more and more problematic, so once again, we moved.
Team LGD moved to Monte Verde Ranch and we loved it there! While it still wasn't a super "fancy" barn, it was safe, functional, and the care of the horses was top notch. The stalls were big and well bedded, the hay fed was good quality, the arenas were functional, and the amenities for the people nice, too. I had finally found a place were the business could grow and develop in a way I was truly ok with. The horses were well taken care of and my clients could ride and learn in a safe, laid back environment.
And then I learned about the private facility, now called Fortissimo Farm... it was everything I ever dreamed of - competition size dressage arena, awesome footing, stalls with in and out runs, washing machine and dryer, huge round pen, wash racks with hot water, and the list goes on... And I thought, "no way can little me swing a nice place like that. What's the catch?"
As it turns out, the biggest catch was me... me and my own insecurities - some of which I had been told by others and some I created on my own. Thoughts like, "you're not good enough," "no one will want to ride with you," and "you're going to screw this up", etc. Trust me, it gets darker... much, much darker.
Thankfully, I only listen to those dark thoughts enough to severely burden myself and my husband, not the horses. I took the leap and moved to Fortissimo Farm. We've been here a little over a month and, yes, it's been a learning curve (another blog post), but I'm happy we made the move.
The farm is gorgeous. The arena and round pen are amazing. The turn out space is wonderful. The barn feels like home. The property owners are the nicest people I've probably ever met and have been nothing but accommodating. And most importantly, the horses are happy.
To say it's been a journey would be a huge understatement, but I'm so happy with where we are right now. It feels good to be home.