So it's been about 2 weeks since I last heard from that barn. They actually did contact me through facebook shortly after I visited the farm saying that they had misplaced my phone number and e-mail address and if I could get that to them then they would send a price list and I could schedule some riding time. I sent them my information and I have received no response.... Oh well, I guess it wasn't meant to be :(
One of the things I hate about horse people is their inability to see that every horse has worth. Every person that loves a horse has the same worth in my mind. It might not be my cup of tea the way some people enjoy their horses (different disciplines) but if they love their horse and are good to it, I would proudly ride side by side with them.
Maybe it is because I am old and I have been lucky enough to have met great people of all disciplines. I can't imagine someone not wanting a person to ride in their arena just because their horse wasn't a class A horse. Their loss, I guess. Hopefully you find a wonderful place where you and your horse will be welcomed with open arms and caring hearts.
Do not feel badly about what you DO have. I taught outside for 10 years and had to cancel lessons bc of bad weather. I often wished that I had an inside place to ride. NOW, I'm extremely happy that I have 5 acres of property that are MINE to do with. Get your horse to be as mannerly as possible. Ride ALWAYS when the footing is good and NEVER when it is poor. It wasn't that long ago that I was reading about an accident on a national x-country course when the horse slid in the mud towards a downhill vertical and flipped over the jump, landing on the rider. The top people don't always think ahead about these things, so YOU can be the brain who does.
In the meantime...learn to ground train and ride "in hand" for obedience. When the weather gets better drill, drill, drill on leads until you can think it, and your horse does it. Buy and use poles on the ground--SECURED WITH BRICKS SO THAT THEY DON'T ROLL!!--and set up a jumping course, where you change the order of the jumps and you'll ride these on the flat. A jumping course is really only obstacles in the way and your approach to them is paramount. Build two really good standards and teach yourself to NEVER interfere with your horse after the takeoff.
There are still many people who drop in and drop out of horses and depend upon their family's money to show. THESE are the ones with the out of control in the aisle horses. Until you cannot train at all, you just use what you have and your imagination. I did, and I had to best trained horses in my hobby and they turned heads, even though they weren't blooded, and certainly NOT show groomed.
I'm sorry it didn't work out. Riding in the bad weather though will have its benefits! :) I ride mine year round, rain, wind, snow or shine and they're better horses for it! I was actually out riding today and we're in the middle of a blizzard... again. :p I don't know if I'd jump in bad weather but flat work can be great for teaching your horse balance and how to navigate through rough terrain. My dressage instructor works all of her green horses in this winter weather so they learn how to cope with all sorts of different footing.
Never give up. And, while a well bred "fancy" horse may give you some advantages, they are not always the way to win. I have seen plenty of grade horses that, through hard work and dedication, became winners at the very top levels.
Just look at what Lendon Gray did with Seldom Seen, a grade cross with a Connemara/TB. He was an event PONY who showed so much talent at dressage that he was turned into a Grand Prix competitor who won the USDF horse of the year from third level all the way through GP and won the individual gold medal at the US Olympic Festival. All of this with a 14.2 pony!
On a lessor scale, I got hold of a 15 hand QH cow pony. I loved this guys attitude and he turned into a wonderful intermediate competitor. I am not sure what he did after he was sold.
When I first started showing up at events with this little guy (I am 5'9" and looked funny on the little guy) they chuckled. They didn't laugh long when he started winning.
So, don't let anything stop you....not even yourself. Go there with a clean and well groomed horse and act friendly and cheerful. Do not let them intimidate you. The insecure folks will try, you know.
Just because it's a fancy, high level barn doesn't mean everyone there is stuck up or is going to judge you and your horse. I understand you not wanting to feel out of place, but if I had a nice barn and some great horses, I wouldn't want people automatically judging me for it and assuming I'm a snob.
It ain't a fashion show, so if you're following the barn rules and your horse and tack is safe/clean, they've probably got waaaay better things to do than pick apart your choice of riding attire. I've ridden at some VERY nice barns and board my horses at a really great facility, but I have still shown up to the barn in basketball shorts and dirty old boots when I was just lunging my horse or giving my sister a lesson.
Give those folks a chance, they might surprise you and be very down to earth and friendly. I've found that if you go into something with a bad preconceived idea, it usually turns out that way. Either way, you're going there to ride your horse and NOTHING should deter you from having fun horse time!
I agree with gig in that if you find yourself prejudging the other riders than you are the one being a bit prejudiced. Just be yourself and try to relax. Enjoy the opportunity and just feel fortunate that you're at such a great facility. There is always going to be a transition period wherever you go and this will be no different.
Think good thoughts and I'm sure they will too.
You probably will get judged but don't let it get to you because that'll happen anywhere you go. I'm guessing they'll probably make you wear a helmet if you don't already ride in one. I'd just do what I normally do and be proud of your horse no matter what.