Monday, August 29, 2011

Heading home

I'm on the plane from Denver to LAX. I managed to get earlier flights from Durango, then Denver, so that I have more time in LAX for my flight from there to home. Looking out the window, it's very dry, red and barren looking.

Reflecting on my time in America, the longest time away from my husband, and animals, I feel it's been an amazing trip, well worth the money and time, and planning.

I'm heading home with more tools and knowledge, plus more experience and new friends and mentors. Even more than that I'm heading home with my Level 3 string which is just awesome. I'm looking forward to working on Level 4, and starting Finesse and continuing my progress with the Game of Contact. It seems like there was a tonne of filming going on at the ranch while I was there, both for Game of Contact and Trail riding which is pretty awesome. I'll be looking forward to seeing those.

I'm going to see my horses (and my husband) at about 6.30am Tuesday NZ time (about 1pm Monday Pagosa time), and I'll be taking it easy for the day. Later in the week I'll be looking forward to riding again and playing with both my boys.

I want to thank;
Pat and Linda for creating such an awesome programme, and a wonderful place to learn, and for the teaching system in place to make it happen.
Pete (Dancin Pete Rodda) for leading our course. We had loads of fun.
The awesome instructors; Grady my wonderful coach, Jamie, Mattie, Judi and Jane.

There's also a whole team of friends at home looking after my horses, my grass and yards and keeping everything in order and the horses in their routines. Without them I could never have gone, so thanks guys.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Amazing how slow the day goes off campus

If Hearts back had not been sore I would have ridden her today, that was the initial plan for staying longer. But turns out it's just been a quiet day, had a bit of a sleep in till 730am. Then wandered up the road since I had not checked any of the local stores. Not really alot there unless you want cowboy boots lol.

I bought another bag because I only want to have my handbag on the way home, I'll have to pay extra no doubt. But that's life.

Then I drove uptown to get a coffee, and came back and wrote some notes up, they are all up to date now and sorted in subject order on my Note App.

We went to the Elk Horn cafe for lunch and waited 30 minutes for food which is a bit unusual, when I questioned it she said they were training a new chef and they don't think she can cook - great! I ordered the eggs with beans no bacon something called a espaquerdra or something....

These were the questions...
How would you like your eggs?
Bread or tortilla?
Flour tortilla or corn?
Green chilli sauce or red?
hot or mild?

blimey lol.

Then Jane and I went to the Out West Saddlery shop. It's in this amazing barn on a private property up a private road off a road to nowhere!

This was the pretty drive there, only about 7 miles from where we are staying.
The door was pretty unique, a bit like the whole shop actually. Lost of western stuff and it looked like they made their own chaps and things.

Since then we've just been catching up on notes, Facebook, emails etc.
We have to check out at 11am, I'll be awake early anyway so I think I'll head there early and see if I can get an earlier plane, since I have tight connections.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Last day - so sad

It was very hard saying goodbye to our team and our wonderful instructors. It was a wonderful last day for many reasons (apart from having to leave). We started at 8am going over all the highlights.

Then we split up into our Remuda's with our personal coach and got our scorecard. We get graded on EVERYTHING... from Attitude, Emotional Fitness, Physical Fitness, Social Skills, team-man-ship, Horse Husbandry and care, and overall savvy. As well as online, tool savvy, liberty, and freestyle. And theory of course!

In a loo break Ryan and Pete had a tug of war with a 45ft on buckets, as you do!

I was super stoked - I found out I got an 89% on the theory test at the beginning and 100% yesterday.

Then all of the instructors spoke about their experience in being our coaches. it was very emotional to see how much they care about us.

For a break we did some savvy simulations throwing carrot sticks. That was pretty fun. I learnt how to throw and catch it!

At 12.30 they took us into to classroom and played us a video they had made of our week one testing compared to week 2, it was awesome.

We were back on the porch, which I remember seeing in the old Level 2 DVD which was pretty cool.

We did a team building exercise, with a Helium carrot stick.... Really interesting....;-)

Then it was awards time. Anyone that had improved enough to gain a Level, was called up and given a string. I was called up and it was very hard not to cry because I got my Level 3!!! Everyone was so happy for me and cheered it was amazing. I'm still in shock really, so pleased!

The afternoon was very relaxed, most people were leaving and the ranch slowly emptied out. I was going to ride tomorrow but I have decided to rest up instead and maybe do a spot of shopping.

So - if you are thinking of doing this course or a Fast Track, be prepared to be busy all the time, be prepared to be physically and mentally tired, but it's something you can't get from a DVD, and the positive energy here is so amazing - I can really see how people come for one course and stay for a year!

I left Heart eating hay and made sure she had water etc, I didn't say goodbye, too sad. I hate goodbyes and hate endings lol. But this is a new beginning, my Level 4 journey!!!

Final testing

We had our theory test yesterday morning and then off to online and freestyle testing. This was us in the yo yo and indirect/direct rein. That's Grady in the red shirt. It was fun but I think Heart's back is finally getting a bit much for her.

Then we had a play on the jumps, actually I think these are slightly out of order sorry.

Our online testing went really well, trailer loading from the fender, jumped the barrels both ways, she's been a little unconfident with that until now, so I was pleased.

We also did circling and change of direction of the 45 at trot so I couldn't have been more pleased with the online. The freestyle wasn't so great, but I know what I need to work on, and when we get our results tomorrow it will be more obvious.

At the Thursday Campus meeting the Fast track guys who got strings got them awarded, which was pretty cool.

Lindsey came down with Westpoint, Hot Jazz and Remmer, it was great to see Remmer looking so good.

I tested for Liberty too, just as it started raining but we had to do all 7 games, and we did, it was fantastic.

After dinner there was an Essential Oils presentation which was really interesting. Then I went back to the apartment and crashed.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Rain and testing prep

This was today's line up. Yes, I know, there are spelling mistakes lol. I try not to be Left Brained Introvert and point them out, worse still, correct them.

I can do the Stockmans Bowline and The Bank Robbers knot with my eyes closed now. Jamie gave me a race with the Bank robbers knot. He only just bet me.
A hot air balloon came over while we were doing knots.

Then I worked on our falling leaf, and driving from zone 5. Oh and backwaters over a pole, plus sideways from Zone 1. We have the option of doing liberty testing tomorrow which of course I'm going to do - why not.

A deer appeared and some people panicked but I knew Heart wouldn't care. It ran through the playground, then it's mate followed. Very cute. Big ears!!

I then saddled up and did the Bow Tie focus Station. I think I've really got the concept of that now.

At 11.30 we started our theory test prep, so I got to find out which questions I got right, and which ones I didn't. Grady said I got close to 90, so me being a perfectionist I'm aiming for - you guessed it - 100% tomorrow.

Here is a cute photos from todays play.

Sadly it's all coming to end end quite quickly. But I have learned so much, and I'm still planning on riding tomorrow after testing and also on Friday.

We missed the afternoon workshops because it rained!
Big thunder storm. Cleared up in time for the BBQ and camp fire though.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Another packed day at the Flex Track

I got up early (sorry Jane) and headed to the coffee place, got there just as it was opening, and got one for Leigh too. It was 6.50am when I got there and I asked Leigh if she wanted go for a ride over to the honeycomb. She said yes, of course. I was dying to try the saddle out.

I had a little play with Heart while we were saddling, and preparing to ride. She was much better behaved than Garbo would have been if I had taken him away from his ration of hay for the morning.

I really have been concentrating on what I am focussing on at all times, when leading, and playing and also while riding. Surprisingly enough I am not really an unconfident rider compared to quite a few, so I think heeding Linda's advice to the tee, has paid off.

We rode over to the honeycomb - it's so nice over there - oh - I am in love with the saddle. !!! And those stirrup irons! Heart seems relaxed and blowing out too.

We did a couple of laps of the honeycomb on the outside and then headed back, what a fantastic way to start the day.

8am we had a highlights meeting and then knot savvy, I did the stockmans bowline with my eyes shut!

Then it was focus stations - travelling circles, trailer loading, and lateral flexion. I went to travelling circles for the whole time because it was in the honeycomb field which has loads of space and I also worked on maintain gait at canter on the 45ft - woohoo! At the end I had canter travelling circles on the 45ft, I am so pleased. I learned what to do while doing a travelling circle, if your horse changes gait. If you come off your railway track there are consequences.

Then we had bit savvy which was quite interesting, all about different bridles, what they are for, and when to use them.

Had a quick lunch, ham or turkey sandwiches or Salad was the choice. I had salad and a boiled egg. I had forgotten my protein bars, so while saddling up in the afternoon I got a bit dizzy. So tomorrow I can't forget my bars, gonna pack them now.

I caught up on a couple of emails since I finished lunch quickly, I sat in the shade for a bit too.

At 2pm I started to saddle and prepare for riding - I got some nice questions and a nice back up between poles.

At 3pm we had bow ties. I had not tried these before, simple changes. I had fun doing the canter ones, she was better in the left lead than the right, so Maddy gave me some ideas on how to improve that, she was getting emotional in the canter so I slowed down the indirect rein on the turn, and also I needed to go more to the rail, then come along and off it. There were only three of us so we got lots of one on one. Fab!

Next we had cloverleaf, something else I hadn't done much of, maybe once! I rode over to the honeycomb - are you counting, that's the third time now. Grady was taking it. We started at walk, then trot. It was awesome fun. Awesome to have a honeycomb to do it in.

We got to see the cows go past.

Rode back to the 100ft round pen (and opened a gate along the way), for 9 step back up. The others were getting the concept, I was able to work on getting vertical flexion and only releasing when her mouth was quiet.

Then it was 6pm. 4 hours roughly on the saddle today - how awesome is that! In between workshops while the others arrived and sorted themselves out I would practice trotting round the outside of the round pens. Need to practice my canter doing the same thing.

Dinner was lasagne, vegetarian pasta with cheese, beans fried in butter, bread and Salad. I had a baked potato with olive oil on and went home for some food I can eat lol.

I'm sleepy now, need an early night, had more sun today so I can hardly keep my eyes open.

Nite zzzzzzzz

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Monday, one week to go

One week to fit as much as possible in. I arrived at 645am, and I stayed till 8.30pm tonight. Like I said to someone today, I'm here for this, nothing else. Not like I have anything else to do, may as well play/ride/learn. And with this view!

Ok so run down of the day. After a quick meeting in the Lodge with Fast Track students as well, we played the 7 Games Dance with Dancing Pete. He showed us how to turn the 7 games into a dance because if you have rhythm you have relaxation. It was great fun and we each had to pair up and one be the horse and one be the human, I was the human but I'd really like to try being the horse with someone too. We learned how much your belly button effects the horse and how light you can be in asking.

Then he taught us two line dances. One was Cotton Eye Joe which I tried to learn in Arizona, but he made it very simple, Spanish walk left, back up three, spanish walk right, back up three, right canter lead, right canter lead, right canter lead, left canter lead, left canter lead, left canter lead. That's it - so easy! We learned another too but I can't remember it.

Then they showed us the 7 games line dance they made up at a tour stop. Hilarious. We learned loads, I thought would hate it but it was lots of fun.

Then we had a workshop on saddle fitting and shimming which was awesome, just what I needed.

We quickly ate lunch and I went and shampooed Heart, she wasn't too dirty, surprisingly after all that rain and thunder last night.

Then we had Linda come do a Q & A, it was great, and some people asked some great questions. Lots of good stuff on LBIs as usual. She also said that the best horse human match is the same horsenality. Phew!

I raced out of there as soon as Linda and her gorgeous dogs left and I saddled up Heart with the saddle Pattie kindly lent me, it was an Isabel Worth wintec. I played a bit with her online and she seemed ok. I got on and did a few walk follow the rails in the round pen, then trot and she was blowing out quite quickly. So I was pleased about that.

We had 3 work shops - Partial Disengagement, Falling Leaf and backward S and Point to Point. I rode first with Pete in the Partial Disengagement. practised using my leg before my reins, and it went pretty well, I've done alot with Garbo. Not saying I'm perfect but it wasn't a new concept for me.

Then I rode over to the honeycomb, with Leigh and Becky, first time I've done that!!! Yay. I love it over there, such an awesome view.

We then did point to point,, I progressed to trot, another thing we have done alot of over time. At one point Heart went from trot to canter in a really nice transition, it surprised me but I just went with it.

Then I actually really wanted to see what she was like with a different saddle so I cantered round the outside of the smaller inside round pen.
So awesome to be doing that.

I raced back to the Parelli trailer to get the Parellli saddle, then back to the third workshop, but I'd missed it. Luckily it was Grady, my coach, and he said "you've come all this way (from NZ) I'll show you after dinner", how sweet is that.

So, ate quick, and got Heart and practised some liberty while we were waiting.
Had a great lesson with Grady and then did Hearts pen, by then it was 8.30.
Can't wait to try the Parelli Saddle tomorrow.

Shot this as I was leaving....

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sunday Funday

My friend Jane arrived last night so I dragged her out of bed at 6.30am and we headed to the ranch via my coffee shop. I did Heart's pen and then we headed off to Ignacio (45mins) to the cutting competition Pat and Caton were in. It was great to see so up close and personal, and something we wouldn't really get to see at home. Jane's going to be cutting her cows with Rafiki when she gets home lol.

We called into the supermarket on the way home, along with everyone else in Pagosa I think. We stocked up and came back to the apartment for lunch. Checked emails and went back to the ranch. I played online with Heart initially, on the 45 since I don't have the 22ft at the moment, and I miss it so. Should have a new one tomorrow.

I tried the figure 8 that Pete showed us on Friday and it was AWESOME. So excited about that. Worked a little on sideways, yoyo with an obstacle in zone 5, and jumping off the high side of the cross country jump, not the highest side though, but not the lowest.

She was unsure about the tire so we'll revisit that. I also tried my new changes of direction on 45 and they were still good - thanks Grady!

Then I thought we would do some Liberty, I worked on getting her relaxed at canter stick to me, once I did, we stopped. We also did circle trot, change of direction, and sideways. Yay.

Pattie kindly lent me her Isabella saddle for tomorrow, so I'll see how that fits then.

Mucked out pen and came home, got here at 7pm.
It's been thunder, lightning and rain for the last hour, amazing. You know what that means though don't you. I'm gonna have one very dirty horse in the morning.