The Barn Behind “Show Barn Blues”

I was sorting through some photos on my computer (because I have too many, and it’s destroying my processing speed) when I realized I had a full stash of photos from the equestrian center that inspired Show Barn Blues. Since I went to a lot of trouble to describe the barn and grounds, I thought it might be fun to share them here.

These were taken by a gentleman who wanted to practice using his new camera. I’m not sure he had any horse knowledge, but he got some compelling shots nonetheless. One day a few weeks after I gave him permission to wander the grounds taking photos, he dropped off a CD of the photos, and I’ve had them ever since. There aren’t many exterior shots, but I think this gives you an idea of where it all started.

A Thoroughbred gazes down the aisle

The stalls with grills that opened were very desirable. This was one of the few OTTBs at the barn; I loved him. Forgot his name though. His back window would look out on the grass between the barn and the covered arena; not sure why it was closed here.

Looking down the barn aisle.

One of the aisles. Notice there are two aisles back-to-back, with a center aisle cutting the barn in half. If you squint you can see a high-up window above the stalls – that would be the apartments and Grace’s office. At the end of the aisle are the outdoor arenas. If this pair turns to their left, they’ll be heading to the covered arena. If they turned to the right, they’d pass the wash-stalls before entering the other aisle. The dress code was very formal here; instructors wore boots and breeches every day. This particular instructor had a background much like Kennedy’s – she rode in a now-closed dinner show attraction.

Wash-stalls in the center of the barn

The wash-stalls in the center of the barn, where school horses waited their turn. Someone should have knotted up these reins better!

Determined young rider.

A determined young rider who is probably now an adult riding in the dressage arena (the chains must be down for some reason). Behind is the covered arena with the usual weekend crowd of parents watching lessons.

Owner riding.

An owner out in the jumping arena on her horse. Behind her, a section of the barn not included in my books: the tack shop and lounge. In the books, the barn ends before the arenas, and the second-floor deck looks out over them.

The jumping arena

A riding instructor out in the jumping arena. If you rode out there at night, you could watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks just a little ways beyond those pine trees in the distance. That was typically also where the sky grew dark before approaching storms. The county highway is just beyond the fence but blocked by shrubbery. Across the street is, indeed, luxury homes, although at the time it was a watermelon field.

Horse at equestrian center

I think this is Splash. I used his name in Pride, maybe Show Barn Blues as well. He was a popular school horse for advanced riders. In the background, the covered walkway to the covered arena, and he’s standing in the end barn entrance.

With just a few changes, this is the barn in my mind when I work on book set at Seabreeze Equestrian Center. Does it look anything like you imagined?

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