Jason and I both like to travel although we have different ideas about what defines a great trip. I like to get off the continent of North America and Jason likes to be within a day's drive of home and he hates changing time zones. He complains loudly about driving to Lexington, KY and having to switch to eastern time. Flying also would not make his list of favorite things although he usually tolerates it without complaining (much).
Jason found himself being towed through JFK airport by me a couple of weeks ago to board a flight to Moscow, Russia. This trip did not meet anything on his list of things he enjoys about travel. We definitely were not within a day's drive of home, we crossed ten time zones and he had to do a 10 hour flight. It helped that the Aeroflot flight had individual entertainment centers at each seat and Jason and I amused ourselves for quite awhile playing Pac Man.
We visited all of the usual attractions one associates with the city of Moscow including the Kremlin, Red Square and the Bolshoi Theatre. Having never been anywhere in eastern Europe I was quite excited about the trip. I was expecting the language barrier to be big and it was huge. The Cyrillic alphabet might as well be hieroglyphics as far as I am concerned.
In addition to the typical tourist attractions we also visited a riding club and a tack shop. As always I manage to locate horses no matter where in the world I find myself. Suffice it to say the buildings were a bit more, hmmm how should I say this, upscale than our farm. The horses all looked very well cared for, they were groomed within an inch of their lives, and the stalls were so clean if there hadn't been horses standing in all of them you would have been able to convince me they were never used. I don't think I saw a single manure pile in a stall as we walked down the barn aisle.
This facility was in the heart of the city, not in the suburbs or in the outskirts. There was an outdoor riding arena, a couple of tiny turnout paddocks and a couple of eurosizers. The facility also adjoined a racetrack with several rows of barns and it looked like you could hack around the rows of barns as well, but that was pretty much it as far as any outdoor facilities. Everything else was inside. The impressive clubroom, the changing rooms, the restaurant, the indoor and the barn were all part of the same building. The indoor and the barns were both heated to about 65-70 degrees. All of the horses were body clipped but not blanketed as there was no need for blanketing when inside.
The horses were fed hay 5 times per day and grain 3 times per day. We saw a pallet of what looked like excellent quality timothy hay as we were touring the barn. I have no idea what they were feeding for grain. Of course I tried to ask but all of the conversation was taking place through a very non-horsey translator. I just converted the board amount from rubles to dollars and it came out to about $2,200/month which was lower than I was expecting. Moscow is an expensive city and as I said this facility was IN the city.
Being able to include horses in some away always makes any trip better. Then we had the long 10 hour flight back to JFK. We and our fellow passengers had the pleasure of sharing that flight with a drunk Russian guy at the back of the plane that kept hitting the flight attendant call button over and over and over. This resulting in the dinging bell noise over and over and over. He also spent some time wandering up and down the aisles being overly friendly and even tried to pick up one couple's baby. Needless to say that did not go over well. He finally passed out/went to sleep after a few hours. As one of the flight attendants said "at least he is a happy drunk. The mean drunks are the worst." I was just glad that our seats were in row 5 and his seat was almost at the very back of the plane. If we had been too much closer I am pretty sure Jason would have told him exactly where he could put the call button and he would not have been friendly about it!!
the main building and entrance to the combined riding club/racetrack facility
the red carpet leading to the main door
the barn aisle
The indoor riding arena had a large viewing deck that wrapped all the way around the arena. There was also a bar/restaurant that overlooked the indoor (behind the yellow wall on the left)
the indoor arena and the barn were heated to about 65-70 degrees
dragging the arena
a few more random pictures from around Moscow; The Bolshoi Theatre
me in front of St. Basil's Cathedral on Red Square (note this picture was taken at 9:30am and it is still dark outside)
Russian Orthodox cathedral
Jason and I liked the Russian exit signs. Make like the stick figure and run for your life in this direction!!