Sunday, September 30, 2012

September 30th - 8:29pm

Quiet day at the farm. Its Sunday so no riding or work. Typical day off. Slept in, reading, hanging out with the girls. Didnt quite have it in me to walk to the ice cream store like usual but will definitely get back to that next week. Really hoping to be back in the saddle soon so trying to stay still/quiet when I can. Just keeping fingers crossed the advil, ice and rest will do the trick quickly. And have to give major kudos to the other girls here. Theyve been fantastic. Alice and I are absolutely belting out Mika tunes. Definitely a way to keep mentally busy and having fun!

September 27th - 8:58pm

Beautiful weather here in Argentina. Perfect for riding and being outside. We were all up at 4:30 due to the horse show. Since all the shows here are haul in deals each day of showing means getting up early to hay/grain/load/ship horses. Earlier is something needs to be schooled before the show. Later if we've only got horses in the bigger classes toward the afternoon. Today was a schooling show so there were horses in the ring from the first class of the day to the 1.20 in the afternoon. Classes tend to start as low as .80-.90m on the schooling days and go up to 1.30 usually.
Meg and Walter were on horse show duty today so they pulled out about 6:30 or so leaving Alice, the guys and I to the barn. Alice spent most of the early morning riding as many as she could. I helped tack up and painted. Not the most exciting job ever but significantly more fun than beinf stuck inside. About 10:00 or so Rodrigo pulled in from the horse show and Alice switched over to helping him longe and ride the young horses.
Afternoon was more of the same. There were a few more to ride so Alice right to it. Once Meg, Martin and the second load of show horses returned, they jumped in to finish off the riding list as well. I continued painting and helping where I could. Considerably more mobile than I was yesterday but it will likely still be a few days before Im be back on a horse. Definitely a tiny bit disappointed to be missing this riding time but nothing to be done there. Just trying to stay positive and keeping everything crossed that Ill be back 100% soon.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

September 29th - 8:33pm

Spent the day painting, sweeping and cleaning. Not all that exciting. But it did leave a lot of time to think. Which I did a lot of. And work in my spanish with Walter. Both good thing.
And today I realized the other day how much I say just keep working/keep trying. Something Martin said to me awhile ago hit me while I was thinking about the riding from the show yesterday and about life/horses in general. A six stride was walked out in the ring with poles inplace of jumps. I was on some big strided horse who'd had no problem making the 6. So Martin told me to get the add (in this case, a seven). After a couple of 6 and change, Martin asked me if Id gotten the seven yet. I half grumbled that no I hadnt gotten a clean seven strides but I was trying. He looked at me and replied something to the effect of "when are you going to quit trying and just do it?" How easy he made it sound tweaked me a bit and I got pissed at myself for being unable to do something that really shouldnt be so hard. Next time, I came around and made the seven happen. Dont know why it took me so long to realize the wisdom behind that statement. I didnt need to keep trying. I needed to just do it. Getting better is about pushing the limits and trying newer/harder things. At one point in my life correct diagionals were hard for me. Now Im so tuned into their relation to the horses balance that I dont even have to think about it. Alice even laughingly pointed out that whenever I change the horse's bend while working, I change my diagional. I hardly even noticed myself doing it (something to keep in mind though. Im sure me doing that changes their balance and likely not in a good way). Same with just coming up on the correct diagional. I have to actually work at coming up on the incorret one. So at one point I had to work on that. The work were doing now is subtler but essentially the same. At some point it will become second nature and downright easy. But in the mean time, it takes practice. And practice isnt trying, its doing. Not trying to make the seven stride but deciding to do it and making sure it happens. Practicing the action makes you better. Not trying to do the act. If I want carry a great canter that will allow for any distance, I just need get it. Not try to find it. Same goes for always being in the middle of the horse. No reason not to be there so why am I so often vaguely somewhere else? Maybe at the end of the day the practicing/trying/doing thoughts really basically mean the same thing but to me the subtle difference is just enough. Potential for a big method change here. (you can tell all this time out of the saddle leaves way too much room for throught!).

Photo of Walter with Luli after he spent a good hour cleaning her up for a client. He was quite proud and wanted a picture. Luli is his favorite mare in the barn (mine too!)

Friday, September 28, 2012

September 29th - 7:19am

Happy Birthday to one of my favorite people in the entire world, Hannah! Miss you more than you can imagine and absolutely cannot wait to see you again!

September 28th - 2:30pm

Day two of horse showing at the Buenos Aires. Today was the series show so we took the six that are still doing the series back for their classes. Since I proved Im decently mobile even if Im not able to ride I was able to go in place of one of the grooms. So Meg stayed home to help Rodrigo and ride while Alice, Martin and I went horse showing! As Ive said before, shows in Argentina are quite different than those Ive been to in the US. Show days here generally arent my absolute favorite days like they are in the US either. Not due to any fault of the shows but its very little riding on my part and a lot of watching fantastic riders make riding young horses over big jumps look effortless. Definitely leaves me with a lot to think about/work on riding wise. And a strong desire to smack my head against something (in a very cartoon like way) that I still cant pull off that effortless look despite all the training Ive had. Heck, Id even pass up the looking effortless to just be able to get it done like these guys can. They almost never miss at jump and many have positions between/over fences that even my Eq/hunter trainer back home would have trouble faulting. All on young horses. The series 1 horses are just now turning 5 and going 1-1.05m. The series 2 has climbed up to 1.10-1.20 with the 6 yr olds. And the series 3 will cap out at 1.35m with the 7 yr olds this spring (spring here was Sept 22nd). Someday Ill be able to ride like that. Just have to keep working.
The show was good though. Horses did well and Martin was happy with them. The music that was played was interesting as well. Everything from Argentine club music to Footloose to old Britany Spears songs. I love the bizare mix. Definitely something Ill miss in the states. And as always there were horses everywhere. And tied to everything. The CHBA is the smallest of the three clubs in town but there were just as many horses as usual. We ended up split between two spots because there was no way to get six horses in together anywhere. One barn (at least) even had to tie up across the road in tge park. I had a moment and took pictures of some of the craziness. Its so different from the US. For the most part it works though. The only time I was really wary and as a result somewhat annoyed was when someone tied a very up stallion to a post right in the middle of everything. You had to go between it and a fence to get to the ring. He was interested in every horse that came near. Especially the mares. And the chain over his nose (not even a horse lead shank; a legit chain) just barely kept him contained. And he kicked.  I think I was the only one bothered though (likely cause Im still not moving so quickly) because that is a very typical thing here. Everyone here has just learned to work around it. Horses included. One more thing Im getting use to here!

Photos 1-4: Inside of the club with all the horses. Part of our set up is in photo four. One of our stallions is the horse totally asleep on the left in the coffee sack blanket. Most stallions here are about like him. The exact same temperment as the gelding next to him. Some of the stallions though...
Photos 5-6: The warm up and show ring
Photo 7: I took this photo from just behind the ringside bleachers. So the ring was just behind me. The longing ring is in the middle/right of the photos. The bay in blue sheet on the left is the one you had to kind of duck past at times. The warmup ring is probably 15-20ft to the left of him. The other horse was a stud too. Just quieter. Then the tractor was directly behind both of them.
Photo 8: One of the grooms with the type of hat that is quite popular here
Photo 9: Another groom creatively keeping up with a helmet by putting it over his hat. It looked hilarious from the front
Photo 10: The only other girl I see consistently at shows. She has some series horses.
Photo 11-12: Very unique looking building next to the CHBA. The bay with the blaze is our Cylene
Photo 13: Sweet horse that looked like one from home (Splendid)
Photo 14: Boot zippers fixed with bright blue duct tape about two minutes (if that) before a round
Photo 15: The guy in the blue is one of mt all time favorite riders here. He won the FEI Grand Prix and 1.40 jumper derby earlier this year (on two different horses) and was amazing to watch ride.
Photo 16-17: The ever intrepid Mono in action!
Photo 18: This guy has a very awesome military jacket. Hes at a lot of the shows and is the first person Ive ever seen to ride in uniform. Very cool.
Photo 19-20: All the loading and unloading is done on the side of the road at this club. Trailers are parallel parked as best as possible and you go from there. You load/unload with moving traffic on one side and a sideway with pedestrians on the othere. As a result, youre walking horses up and down the sidewalk in the middle of the city to get from the club to trailer. A very interesting feeling. And as always, the horses are unphased.
So despite everything, its been a good day. And plenty of pictures I think! Probably took at least 50 but these are the most interesting (I think) twenty.

November 3rd - 8:30pm

Today marks the end of my first 6 months at Rancho Pampa. Hard to believe it since the time has positively flown by. Feels like it wasnt that long ago that I was nervously counting down the days till my flight here. Thus far, it has been an incredible experience. Obviously one with some ups and downs but with something like this that is only to be expected. This trip has shown me so much about myself and my riding that it will really be what everyone said it would be: life changing. Some of the things Ive learned already:
- I can push myself to do far more than I ever thought possible. As a result I am capable of far more than I think
- A good horse can teach you just as much as a good instructor
- A green horse can and will teach you even more
- Just because something is different does not mean it is wrong. At the end of the day there are a lot of roads to Rome.
- Friends will turn up in the most suprising of places. And friendship is certainly possible inspite of language/custom/social barriers.
- Perspective is a bigger determining factor in happiness than circumstance
- 1.10m isn't big and 1.20m really isn't either
After 6 months Ive learned so much and absolutely cannot wait to continue the journey. Thank you to everyone stateside and in Argentina who helped make this trip/job/experience possible!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

September 26th - 7:54pm

Spent yesterday morning helping Rodrigo with the young horses. Got a later start with them since he was riding in the lessons with Mono but still got all the young ones done before noon. Due to the later start though I was able to ride Holendesa and warm up Luli for Martin. Both were quite nice and I was very happy to get a chance to ride. Hate the days I cant get on something. All the young ones were much easier to work with than the other day. Theyre learning the ropes and handling this new life with the sort of grace I know many people would envy. Several of these horses have never even lived inside a barn before now let alone be handled everyday and asked to work. Horses ability to accept and adapt to change is quite astounding really.
The afternoon was spent cleaning, helping the vet out and doing the usual. We had one more set to ride after lunch so after getting finished with the vet we went to get on. Unfortunately I had a bit of a fall and as a result will be out of the ring for a bit. Today was spent in the house most of the morning then out cleaning tack/helping where I could once my max boredum level had been reached.
Tomorrow Meg, Martin, Rodrigo and some of the horses will be going to a schooling show at the Buenos Aires. It will be prep for the series classed on Friday. Alice is staying home to ride/help Rodrigo once he gets back. Ill be painting and doing what I can from the ground. Not the most exciting day ever but at least its in the barn around the horses. Cant complain too much!

Monday, September 24, 2012

September 24th - 8:26pm

Despite doing absolutely nothing out of the ordinary, Im really tired. Hard to believe its only Monday! Longed Cor Lit, rode Cylene, Navratilova, Mauro, Holendesa and had a flat lesson on Twilight. Nothing terribly exciting there. Just a mix of hacking and Martin coaching me through some more intense schooling. Learning a lot that way. Today Martin explained something that Ive been mentally working over all day. He said that dressage horses are expected to maintain maximum level of collection in the shortest possible frame while hunters need to maintain the maximum level of collection in the longest possible frame. Spent time working Twilight into carrying himself in a decent level of collection in a shorter frame. The starting point to the maximum collection and long frame. Definitely seeing how and why it takes so long to make up the really good hunters. And a lot of it has nothing to do with the fences. Really want to learn more about this part of the training program. Its one of the parts I find more difficult and as a result the part I want to really understand.
The afternoon was spent putting the finishing touches on the painting, getting the last horses ridden and getting to new course set. All the new jumps out in the ring look so pretty. Cant wait till me start working over them!

September 23rd - 9:07pm

Start of what I am sure is going to be a long week here at the farm. Any time we start riding on Sunday means itll be seven days straight of work/riding and after that, were all ready for that day off. But as far as work days go todays was quite nice. It was Meggs turn to help Rodrigo with the two and three year olds today so I was off the hook. Spent the morning riding the series horses and helping Martin warm some up. Was on Luli, Nixon, Twilight, Mauro and Cylene. After asking Martin for some help with my two point exercises, I ended up getting a lesson of sorts on Cylene which was very nice. Thats one of my favorite things about working for Martin. If you ever have a question or need help, it will not only get an answer, it will be quite thoroughly explained with examples and exercises. Today was a lot of playing with balance and adjusting how/where I grip the saddle. Some were kind of fun, all were difficult to pull off perfectly. As a result of said exercises (which I did on Cylene and then every horses after that), I hurt a bit. Ill take being sore though if it means Im improving. And I still feel like I am. A ton left to learn but everyday is a step forward.
The afternoon was spent in a painting marathon. The goal is to have all the jump fill that has been built along with the standards/poles/whatnot totally finished by tomorrow. And there was a lot left to do. Mono's coming for lessons on Tuesday so trying to get everything to the ring and set by Monday afternoon. Megg and I painted from about 1:30 to 7:45 solid with Martin helping. We literally ran out of topics for conversation. So much time spent painting! Painting with Martin does give us time to bounce spanish vocab/words off of him though which is quite nice. Normally we try and figure things out with Walter but sometimes is a loss at understanding his explanation. Just like with the riding though, the longer I am here the more I learn. Just have to keep pushing myself!

Photo of Star I took the other night while skyping with my parents. Was just sitting in the barn aisle and Star came over to get some love. She kept trying to lay down in my lap despite being gigantic and weighing a ton!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

September 19th - 10:07pm

Rained beyond hard last night which meant no riding today. Spent the morning continuing to pull manes and braid tails on the new horses. Then painting, cleaning, chores and the usual later in the morning and during the afternoon. Not a terribly exciting day but not a bad one either. Worked on some new spanish vocab and the like to keep mentally occupied. Then tonight was all english working on college applications. I might be able to live the fairy tail here in Argentina for awhile but eventually Ive got to go home and need to have a plan!

September 22nd - 7:20pm

Despite a less than busy week Ive still managed to miss writing blog posts more than ever before. Thursday after all the rain the ring was still flooded so we took everyone out on walk rides out on the road. I was on Luli, Cor Lit and Benito. No trotting since the footing left a lot to be desired but it was still good exercise. Plus, as always, it was fun to get out with the horses. Friday we were able to do a bit in the ring so everyone got 15 minute trot sets. I was on Luli, Holendesa, Vitroso, Benito and Mauro. Spent a lot of time working on my two point and concentrating on my position. Even though Im use to riding a decent amount of horses each day, doing 5 rides in two point or doing exercises for your two point (up for two, down for one) is somewhat more difficult. So despite the short rides, it ended up being a decently productive day for me and the horses. Both afternoons were spent helping the guys and painting even more jumps. Were on to standards and boxes now! Apparently we're hosting a schooling show here in a couple weeks so thats what all the new stuff is for. Im sure it will be a lot of work but Im still super excited about it.
Since the ring needed more time to really dry out we ended up having Saturday off instead of Sunday. So last night Meg and I went out with Rodrigo and Javier. It was a bunch of fun but after 24 hours up we were exhausted. So todays been spent sleeping, hanging out, walking to the ice cream store and generally being bums. Still a good day though. Tomorrow were back in the saddle and on with the week!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

September 18th - 8:53pm

Pretty unexciting day today. Spent all morning helping Rodrigo with the young colts and fillies. Tacking up, longing, holding them while he got on and the like. I think we have 10 or so just broke horses for him to get on each day. Plus two that arent broke yet and his own horse Georgia. Meg, Alice and I are taking turns helping him out so he can actually get all the riding done. As a result I didnt ride any this morning and only managed a brief hack on Lion in the afternoon before the rain moved in. Spent a large portion of the ride working on going back and forth from posting trot (or sitting at the walk) to two point. Just working on re-establishing that position and changing the things Martin pointed out yesterday. Always something to work on.
The afternoon was spent helping the guys, taming the manes of the young horses and doing the usual. From the sound/looks of it a lot of rain came down. Fingers crossed that we didnt get too much so I can get in the saddle for real tomorrow!

Photo of Walter in the barn. He'll do just about anything for a laugh and posing in his rolled up shorts got quite a few. Did girly poses for the camera as well!

Monday, September 17, 2012

September 17th - 9:11pm

Another great day at Rancho Pampa. Started off warming up the series one horses for Martin to school. I was on the darling Mauro (love him!). Ended up on Twilight next and Martin had me take him through the grid. I thought first time through felt great with him right there infront of me and everything just perfect. I came around to where Martin was standing and he was just like "what the heck was that!?" I literally had nothing to say. I had thought it was pretty decent! Martin continued with "usually I have to be yelling at you 4 or 5 for you to get it like that!" So relieved that I wasnt nuts for thinking it was good and quite proud of myself for getting it right first try. But since quiting when it was great the first time wasnt an option the jumps got higher and we kept trying. Continued to ride well but was considerably less perfect as the jumps went up. Finished well though and was still happy. I asked Martin as I was walking out if Id managed to make him smile the first time through. At one point several months ago he told me if I manged to make hin smile at the first jump it was either time for me to go home or start as an actual rider. Dont know whatd Id do if I actually made him smile but alas I didnt have to deal with that today. Apparently I just confused him with my sudden bout of good riding. Guess that means Ive got to kick it into high gear to try to ride well more often and quit leaving people confused when I actually do get it. As the day went on I also took Cor Lit and Luli through the grid. Both had decent moments but neither were excellent. Martin pointed out some flaws in my basic lower leg position in my two point so going to start adding more work in it at the walk, trot and canter. My leg it steady and whatnot but I have a difficult time keeping my seat out of the saddle while bringing my shoulders over my hips. Particually inbetween fences when I dont have much time to react. Which is exactly when I need to be able to do it quickly and natually. Still so much to work on with so far to go. Its great to have the constant stream of instruction though. Whether it be while Im just hacking Navratilova and Holendesa or while Im in a real lesson with a series horse.
On a totally different note, I was also able to ride one of the new horses today. Martin went to San Luis over the weekend and picked up 6 horses that were there to be broke. Four were Classic horses: Bellini, Kir Royal, Boss and Montana. Then the filly Sintonia and another colt we had early this winter named Quantum. Martin and Rodrigo rode most of them today to see where they were and start them in our program. At one point, thought, Walter came over and told me to get tack on Boss and take him to the ring for Martin to ride. He said something about me getting on but I didnt totally understand or believe him. So pulled the little grey stud out and got him all ready. Meg was getting another horse ready while I was getting stuff for the colt. I told her that I thought I might be getting on Boss after Martin. Apparently my eyes were about bugging out of my head as I said it. So got him ready and carted him out to the ring for Martin and was promptly told to get on. No prep, no nada. And I did. Kind of shows how much trust Ive developed with Martins instruction. Hes yet to throw something my way that I couldnt handle so no questions asked I ended up on Boss. Martin said to take it slow, feel him out and let him know what I thought. After fifteen minutes or so we'd done all three gaits and Boss had shown himself to be a quite, easy going kind of guy. Nothing outrageously good or bad, just nice. Id have been quite happy to quit there but since today was the day to try him out (and potentially give Katie a heart attack) we had to jump him. Just over a little cross rail but normally this type stuff falls onto Rodrigo's list of things to do. Today, though, it was on mine. Needless to say there was a lot of critique but honestly Im just proud I got the job done. The horse did his w/t/c on my terms and jumped what I pointed him at. Again, a long way to go but one step at a time!

September 16th - 9:21pm

<p>By far one of my favorite days in Argentina today! Got up early to open the gate for the guys but after that got to sleep in. Around noon Meg and I decided to go into town and headed out to try to take the bus. We made it to the bus stop but once again we were not able to buy the tickets to get on the bus. Not at the kiosko or gas station or anywhere. But someone did tell us we could ride the bus if we had pesos in coins. So we went around to a couple different places trying to swap our paper money for coins. End result was 7 pesos. Enough for one trip but not both of us. So after some brainstorming about options we just decided to message Rodrigo. He has a car and has offered before to drive me to wherever. As luck would have it, he wasnt busy. So half an hour later (we waited it out in the ice cream store - yum!), we were out of the gas station and on the road to capital!
We had no idea where we wanted to go so kind of just left it up to him. First we ended up at a port on Rio de la Plata. It was kind of sketchy at first because there was a huge soccer game about to start and a lot of crazed (somewhat intoxicated) fans headed toward the stadium. Right as we got out of the car a huge group of people surrounded by riot police walked up the road infront of us. Rodrigo sent us right back into the car and seemed a touch confused with Megg and my fascination with the craziness. It was so different than anything I have ever seen at home though! Apparently they were Boca fans and since they're the best we should be too (according to Walter at least). Once they went by we headed out and Rodrigo showed us this street with all sorts of resturants and shopping places. The resturants spilled out into the street with outdoor seating and live tango dancing/demonstrations. I was fascinated. The dancing was beautiful, the people friendly and the stores full of fun stuff. I bought one of the special straws for drinking mate and did the ridiculous tourist thing taking pictures. The area was so pretty though. The art, architecture, the cobblestone streets, everything. Old and beautiful.
Once we'd seen everything we attempted to go to the Recoleta area but got side tracked by an absolutely gorgeous park. It was set in a hill with fountains and amazing trees. Again an older part of the city but so pretty. We walked around for awhile admiring the view and just hanging out. It feels like its been a long time since Ive just hung out with friends (one even speaking my language!) outside of the farm. When Ive gone with Alice its fun but also quite a challenge to get around with the language barrier. With Rodrigo to translate/do most of the talking it is much less stressful.
After our jaunt in the park we headed toward Av 9 de Julio which Ive gotten to know somewhat well. Meg got to see the Obolisk for the first time and I was wide eyed looking at everything even after so much time here. We wandered around a bit and saw some amazing Brazilian fight dancing on the street. We went to the grocery store and finally settled down in a cafe just talking and hanging out. We got a table right up next to the window on the corner of Corrientes and 9 de Julio so had a great view. Watched the military people take the Argentine flag down, the people on the street and just tried to take in the city. Neither Meg or I are from large cities so its incredible impressive for us. And of course Rodrigo was great explaining what things were and answering questions as he had been all day. All in all a fantastic Sunday.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

September 15th - 11:03pm

Interesting day here at Rancho Pampa. Martin teaches some classes on sport horses in Argentina through the year and today was a more hands on part of it. As a result, from 10:00 until lunch time there were 20+ strangers here touring the barn and learning about what it takes to have a sale barn. Which meant Martin was not able to ride many and our whole morning routine was set on its side. In an attempt to combat the craziness that was bound to occur we started early in the saddle. It was quite nice to be riding at dawn again actually. The light is so pretty at that time of day. The weather is still cool and fresh as well. With the days getting longer as we move into spring, we've been starting when the sun is decently above the horizon now days. Something different to get use to.
Todays riding started with a group flat lesson with me on Luli. We discussed and worked on how important that first walk to and into the ring is to set the tone for the ride. Then on using transitions to get the horses sharp, attentive and off the leg. All things Ive heard before from Martin but since Im obviously not doing them perfectly, a good reminder. After I had Cylene and we schooled transitions some more. Then back to the barn to pick up, clean, turn horses out, ect before the people got here. Then back in the saddle to ride Cor Lit, Holendesa, Uxmal and Navratilova. All in all a easy feeling day despite how many moving parts there were. The horses were all good with today's rides being wind down/relaxing workouts. Nothing major going on so just keeping them happy, fit and relaxed undersaddle.
Pretty much all of the horses here are exactly that (happy, fit and relaxed) with 100% of the credit going towards their management. Learning so much about riding to create that horse but also learning how to manage that horse. So much to learn! Maybe I should sign up for the classes Martin teaches! Im sure even after all this time I could still pick up something from an introductory class about this sport and the horses!

Friday, September 14, 2012

September 14th - 9:31pm

Another day spent working, riding and enjoying life at Rancho Pampa. I was on Holendesa, Cor Lit, Puccini, Justinian and Uxmal. Everyone was very good and quite relaxed after all the exercises we did earlier this week. Cor Lit especially was quite fun. He is one of the horses here that has changed so much since I arrived. The first time I rode him I found him to be quite difficult to even canter. With Martins training on the both of us, we're easily jumping courses. He'll be a hunter in the US or Canada one of these days. Lovely mover, great jump and now is so easy to ride/work around. Definitelty one of my favorites now days.
The afternoon was spent doing barn work while the guys worked outside cutting the grass and whatnot. We're having people from the class Martin teaches come to see the barn tomorrow so trying to get everything as neat and tidy as possible. Theyre coming out to see what a working sales barn looks like. Martins teaching about what a sale barn needs to run. The stabling,ring, horses, ect. Should be an interesting Saturday! Well be riding and who knows what else.
At the moment though were all staying up entirely too late in Rachel and Martins house watching re-runs of the olympic show jumping rounds. So cool to be able to see the rounds we followed so closely just a short time ago. Also getting to hang out with Mono and some other rides from around here. Theyre all very fun even though I only understand a bit of what they say. Likely going to bail a bit early though and head to bed. Its been a busy week and doesnt look like tomorrow will be any different!

Photo of Cor Lit out in his pasture

Thursday, September 13, 2012

September 13th - 8:40pm

Its barely even spring (not sure if it is actually spring though) and it is getting hot. After the last two days I have an awesome polo sunburn/tan. Ive been putting sunscreen on and Im still turning colors. Praying I dont burn bad at any point here cause thats just a terrible feeling. Apparently the sun in Argentina is intense due to where it sits on the globe and the hole in the ozone layer right above it. I come from a pretty hot area so guess we'll see how the two places stack up against each other!
But despite the heat the day was good. Lessons on Justinian, Cor Lit, Olendesa, Uxmal and just a nice ride on Navratilova. Its been crazy having all these lessons lately. I absolutely adore it. The only way to get better at riding and jumping is to do it but its so hard to put in hours and hours of practice normally. Even if youre willing to go and go there is the horse to think about. Being on this many horses, however, means we as riders can go and keep going. And like usual it isnt just Martin doing the teaching. The horses are doing just as much correction. Such a great experience. No idea what we're up to tomorrow but after a long, hot day, In headed to bed early!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

September 12th - 11:27pm

Its Megs birthday!! We were all out a bit late to dinner celebrating Megs 23rd birthday. It was fantastic and a ton of fun as always.
Spent another day lessoning with Martin. Today was short/small courses. I did Uxmal, Holendesa, Cor Lit, Justinian and Navratilova. Maybe one more. Honestly I cant remember. Got a lot less critique than usual about staying in the middle. Hoping that means Im improving! And got a decent number of complements on my rides aboard the more seasoned Cor Lit and Justinian. The really green ones like Uxmal and Navratilova still take some settling into to get them right. Their greenness throws me and we kind if have to settle into each other. Taking total control and bossing them around every step doesnt work but letting them go free range is just stupid. The fine line of interfering when necessary and staying out of the way all other times is so much harder to find on them. Theyre both so different but so similar. If you hang on their faces to try to stop, they go faster. If you lift your hands a bit, relax and breath then youll hsve to actually put leg on to keep cantering. So tough but at least Im getting better. I know when I got here I never would have been able to jump Uxmal or even ride Navratilova. And today I did courses with one and pole work with the other. Just got rhe keep pushing myself to meet and pass Martins expectations. I know I can. Just need to do it. One of these days Im going to be able to just get on, work a horse and make Martin smile. Hopefully at least. He says its possible but I think itd almost be easier to make George Morris happy. In the meantime though just have to keep plugging along. Baby steps.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11th - 9:00pm

Good morning at Rancho Pampa. Lots of lessons, good horses and good rides. Was on Cor Lit, Holendesa, Pierrette, Uxmal and Justinian. Some rides went better than others but I can slowly getting better in the saddle. Martin said today that Ive gotten pretty decent with my full seat riding and can find the middle of the horse. Now its time to really start working in using what I know and can do effectively. Knowing when they are at their correct balance to just let them roll and when to sit up and get them working. Takes a lot of thinking, feeling and evaluating. Something Ive been doing a lot of here but now need to be doing even more. Pushing myself to improve. So much to learn.
It was also a pretty exciting day for all of the fillies (plus Invasor) at Rancho Pampa. They all had their first rides undersaddle! All were quite well behaved. No theatrics or misbehavior. Just some confusion as to why Rodrigo was so high up I think. Such a good group though. Somewhat dissapointed I wont be around when this group starts really working/jumping. Something about one of the mares, Ghandi, just stands out to me. Right now shes tall, lanky, skinny and a little fugy in the 2.5 yr old way but I like her. Cant wait to see her progress.
The clients came out again in the afternoon to ride the horses again. The opted not to ride Lion so we only brought out Herodes and Pierrette. I barely got Pierrette in the ring before the client popped off Herodes. Not really sure what happened there since Herodes is about as unflappable as they come but thankfully no one was seriously hurt. Martin ended up jumping Herodes for them and I flatted Pierrette for a bit before the trainer got on. After that it was the usual afternoon. Helping the guys, finishing up, dinner and early bed!

Monday, September 10, 2012

September 10th - 8:57pm

Totally forgot to write a blog post yesterday. Not that it truely matters. Yesterday was a day of big plans and very little actual doing. We all got up early and caught a ride with Martin to the bus stop. But in order to get om the bus you need to buy a special card (a Sube? card). We tried to buy one at the Kiosk with no luck. Same result at tge gas station. So we bought some stuff at the gas station, walked to the store to get some other stuff and then headed home. Day ended up being lots of hanging out, napping and just being quite. Definitely a good thing for me at least.
Today was back to work with plenty to ride. Martin headed into town around 10 or so and left us to finish working the horses with clients coming at 2:00. Most of the horses just got a light trot after a hard showing week last week. A few of the non series horses did a bit more but not much. I was on Luli, Nixon, Uxmal, Jour, Holendesa and then flatted Pierrette and Herodes for the clients. Everyone was quite well behaved with nothing terribly exciting during the morning. The afternoon was the same as usual. Clean bridles, help the guys finish up and do whatever else is needed. Good start to what should be an excellent week!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

September 8th - 8:30pm

Still unable to ride here at Rancho Pampa due to the rain. Looking like we might be able to get on Monday if the clear skies and sunny weather persists. So we packed up Puccini and Benito to take to the Aleman to show. They both were scheduled to do the 1.20 class. Also loaded Pierrette, Herodes and Lion up to take to the Hipico to show to clients.
First stop of the day was the Hipico. Martin hacked all three lightly to just get them back undersaddle after yesterday off. They were all a bit up with the new place, time off and packed covered but nothing major. Once they were finished Puccini and Benito went back on the trailer to head over to the Aleman. Martin, Alice and Meg went over with them while I stayed behind to horse sit. Nothing terribly exciting happened on my end but I did end up having lunch in the grooms/CHA worker's eating area. Definitely was a test of my spanish/communication skills but happy to say I figured it out, got what I needed and no one was too frustrated with my lack of spanish skills. For the most part I have found people in this country are extremely helpful when you have questions and are very understanding once they realize you dont speak the language. It makes trying to get around and use what little I know so much less intimidating. Cannot thank the people here enough for that.
After a few hours the trailer returned with everyone and the horses. Benito apparently went double clear and finished in the ribbons. Puccini had a rail but otherwise good round. But the second the horses were off the trailer it was time to rock and roll with the client horses. First horse up was Herodes who I was allowed to show to the client. He was quite nice on the flat and the client got on. She really seemed to enjoy him. I brought Pierrette out next and despite the fact she was a little sensitive/looky with the new area, the client liked her looks and got on. Didn't catch what the client had to say about her but Pierrette was very well behaved. Last, but not least, was Lion. Alice showed him. I didn't get to see the client on him since I went back to help undo Pierrette but apparently the client loved him. Fingers crossed she decides to purchase one of them! Tomorrows our day off and we are all heading into town bright and early. Cant wait!

Friday, September 7, 2012

September 7th - 8:49pm

Rained pretty solid last night and this morning. As a result, no riding. Which meant I spent almost the entire day painting jumps. As of this afternoon all the poles and planks are finished! No onto the various gates and fill. Everything is taking at least two coats of white. Colors will likely be added later. With Meg helping in the afternoon a decent amount of headway was made. Pretty exciting stuff.
One thing I have noticed and noted before is now calm/laid back the young horses tend to me. For the most part, they are pretty unflappable. For example, today we had a band saw going in one of the grooming bays. Two, three and four year old horses were all quite calmly going down the aisle past it or standing right beside it being groomed. Just unphased. My older horse in the US would have lost his cookies if I asked him to go anywhere near a working band saw. Yet, these guys hardly blink. Its the exact same at the Aleman. The club is right off a highway and on the other side of the highway is an airport. Planes are constantly landing, taking off, moving around and generally making a racket. None of the horses care though. Im a heck of a lot more likely to jump then they are. Its so interesting. The expectations for horse behavior are so different and the horses conform. I guess for them getting use to loud noises is no less strange than living under a roof, in a box or carrying a person around. It is trained and therefor they comply. It constantly amazes me with what they can be taught to tolerate. Truely amazing animals.

September 6th - 8:37pm

Another 4:00am morning with the series show today. Got the first trailer load ready and sent Martin, Alice and Rodrigo on their way. Meg and I stayed at the barn to ride the remaining horses. I rode Pierrette, Holendesa, Picaro, Nacar and Uxmal this morning. Just short, easy fitness rides.  Transitions, turning and trotting. Holendesa was a rockstar. She is already so different to ride than the first time I sat on her. Today she was quite, relaxed and happy. Such a sweet horse. At 10:30 when all the horses were ridden we packed the remaining series 2 horses up and headed into town to see the show.
Due to getting stopped by the police at one of the tolls (don't know if Ive mentioned them before but they are everywhere) we were late arriving at the show grounds. There was a bit of a hurry scurry get ready with Nixon because the class before was on the final riders and he was number 6 in. I dont think Ive ever gotten a horse off the trailer and to the ring ready to show that fast. But we were there and ready with time to spare. Everything was a bit rapid fire with getting horses ready in the ring with not much time inbetween them. Meg got quite a plunge into Argentine horse showing but handled it pretty well. And despite the craziness everyone did quite well. The course was quite large and challenging for the series 2 but Puccini went around clear, Benito did quite well and Nixon stepped up to the plate. After the show it was a quick pack up and drag everything home. Poultice, wraps, brushing and tail braiding for the horses. Cleaning and reorganizing for the tack. A very full day with a lot accomplished. Of course the rain is back so Im keeping my fingers crossed that the ring is rideable tomorrow. Hopefully!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September 5th - 9:08pm

Early morning today with the schooling horse show at the Aleman. Took the series one and two horses plus Skyline and Cor Lit. The first trailer load of horses were all good. Vitroso jumped brilliantly and Mauro showed that everything we've been working on is paying off. Once the second trailer load of horses got to the show we loaded up the first six to bring them back home. Rodrigo, Walter and I also came home since there were only three horses left to show. Rodrigo had his young horses to longe and I had some to ride. Plus Megg had arrived! Gave her a brief run down of the farm and then she shot into full Rancho Pampa working student mode. We ended up hacking five horses each that weren't showing. I rode Jour, Pierrette, Holendesa, Puccini and Benito. All were quite good. Especially Benito. It has probably been close to two months since Id ridden Benito and it was like I was on a totally different horse. Ive always loved watching him jump and with his flatwork so much easier now he's really fun to ride too. Again reminded how much I enjoy working with the young horses that come along so very fast.
Tomorrow Alice, Martin and Rodrigo are headed back for the series show. Megg and I are staying home for the morning to get all the riding done here. After were finished we may be able to catch a ride into town to watch the later classes/series two at the show. Going to be fun!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

September 4th - 9:30pm

Going to regret staying up tomorrow morning but Criminal Minds is on and I want to watch. Horse show at the Aleman in the morning. Taking eleven horses. Going to be an early morning and a long day! It is also the day Megg arrives! Its going to take some getting use to having someone else around but it will be fun.
Anyway, today was another good day. Rode Cylene, Vitroso, Luli, Holendesa and Pierrette. Had a short jumping lesson through the grid on Pierrette. After, I showed Holendesa to a client. First time jumping that mare around a course and its for a client. By the end of this year in Argentina I have a feeling nothing about showing horses to clients will phase me. Getting better at keeping my nerves under control and at riding in general. As a result, she was quite good though and I think the client liked her. Alice and I were suppose to ride three more horses in the afternoon but a bit of rain and some confusion meant they didnt get ridden. But despite not riding it was a very productive afternoon. Got all the horses trimmed and clipped up for the show as well as all the tack cleaned and packed. All in all a pretty decent day. Fingers crossed for good rides and rounds at the show tomorrow!

Monday, September 3, 2012

September 3rd - 7:55pm

About three things I am absolutely positive: First, the rain is back. Second, Alice is one of the strangest people Ive ever met. And third, the cat may or may not bite. Maybe. So guess that means Im actually only absolutely positive about two things. But Im pretty freakin certain about those two things. Especially the second point. (love you Alice!).
But despite all that, its been a good day. Actually a great day. I might not be able to walk tomorrow but it was worth it. Did five jumping lessons today on Cor Lit, Holendesa, Mauro, Uxmal and Jour. Hacked Lion, Pierrette and Navratilova. Warmed up Nixon and Cylene for Martin. So much riding on so many different horses. The jump lessons were very helpful though. Frustrating at times but necessary. Critique and time is the only way to improve. By the third horse, thought, Id been corrected on just about everything at least once. Which meant getting perfect quick or start accidentially making the same mistakes. And I absolutely hate having to be told Im doing things wrong twice. Makes me crazy. All things considering though all of the lessons went pretty well. Was on everything from the youngyoung horses at 2'6" or so to the older, more experienced ones at 3'6" and was decently successful on all of them. Some we just did through the grid. Others did the grid and some course work. We didnt work on anything in particular, just whatever Martin saw that you were doing poorly. Tipping your body, hands too low, legs not supporting and everything inbetween. The hardest thing for me is not getting ahead of them over the fences. Particually the small ones. And once I start actively trying to wait myself, I tend to get a hair behind them. As always, had a tough time finding the ever elusive middle of the horse! Like yesterday, however, I am happy with myself. Im not perfect but Im learning. And every jump school is better than the last. Today in particular I noticed how much easier finding my distances has become. I can feel when I have the correct canter and when I get around the corner the distance is usually just there. Every so often it takes a slight woah or move up but lately its just been right there almost every time. And with the good canter even the not perfect distances feel/look pretty decent. So excited to be improving! But after a day that was long both mentally and physically, Im exhausted and headed to bed early. Fingers crossed it wont rain too much. The ring just got dry!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

September 2nd - 9:43pm

Crazy, crazy day. Alice and I rode Twilight and Cor Lit bright and early before bolting back into the barn to get Pierrette, Herodes and Lion bathed and ready for their debute. Clients were due in at 11:00 and I was the first one up showing Herodes. Have absolutely no idea how I manged to get that horse ready and in the ring without hyperventilating or otherwise freaking out. Showing horses to clients or at shows are two of the most stressful things in the world to me. I am a total perfectionist and the second I mess up or doubt myself, everything starts spiraling downward at a frighteningly rapid pace. And after my last attempt at showing Herodes I was pretty much besides myself with nerves. Managed to warm him up nice and round (the clients were looking for a safe, quiet, easy jumper to cross over to dressage with). Showed off his good brakes and easy flying changes without trouble. The good start put us on the right track and I was able to show him over his height (one meter or so) with only one icky distance and without any of the antics of last time. He truely is a good horse whod like to do his job. Me having a spaz attack on top, however, does not inspire confidence of any kind. But got through the jumping well and the client got on. From the sound of it, they loved him.
Right after Alice and I got Lion and Pierrette warmed up and ready. Id never jumped Pierrette before so I was beyond nervous. Plus while I was warming up the client asked me to come over closer so he could film the mare. All of his directions, however, were in Spanish. Nothing like trying to ride a horse you barely know infront of a client while trying to follow directions you only somewhat understand. Somehow (through equal bits knowledge and luck I think) I managed to accomplish everything he wanted and how he wanted. Once warmed up we opted to jump Lion and Pierrette together since they basically go at the same height. Lion sticks to about 1.10 while Pierrette stretches up to 1.20. After being out of work for a month though we didnt push her past 1.10. The jumping portion went well without a single bad distance or jump. All poles stayed up and most of my internal freaking out was limited to the time I was watching Alice. Thankfully once I was actually moving toward the fences all the training Ive been doing took over and got the job done. By the end when Martin said ti drop the reins and walk them out I was ridiculously proud of myself. Had just showed a horse I didnt know to clients over 1.10m fences and had done it pretty succesfully! And by the last bit I wasnt even that nervous! Two thumbs up from the client at least who I think really liked Pierrette.
After I took Puccini out for a bit to work and could not stop yawning. So tired after the huge adrenaline rush that was this morning! 
Lunch was an asado with the clients which was amazingly yummy as always. It was also fun to just sit and listen to everyone talk since Im understanding more and more. Cant wait till I can speak fluently. Plus I got to sit next to Martins dad who is absolutelt hilarious. We may not speak the same langage but hes still so, so funny.
After lunch I rode Luli, Mauro and Vitroso for a bit to let them stretch their legs. Weve got lessons with Mono tomorrow and another series show coming up later this week. And Meg arriving! Going to be crazy!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

September 1st - 7:00pm

Today was probably one of my most productive days off ever. Last night Martin offered that if Alice and I wanted to go into town, he would be at the Aleman later in the afternoon to give us a ride back. Thus far what has been keeping me from adventuring into capital is having to ride the bus to and from where we live in Moreno. A bit of a daunting task since Ive never used public transportation (basically non exhistent where I live) and have a giant language barrier to face. There there is the whole being alone in a strange, very large city where your language is not the primary one. A tiny bit intimidating. But since my spanish is better and Alice agreed to come we decided to go.
Got up early this morning super excited for the day. Rachel ended up having to go into town anyway so we skipped taking the bus into town but after that we were on our own. We found the subway on Santa Fe and took it to Plaza Italia where the zoo is. It was my first time on a subway so that was already an experience. The zoo was fun. Smaller and older than the ones I have gone to in the US. They had the usual lions, tigers, bears and whatnot which was very fun. My favorite part, however, was the muskrats and capibaras (definitely spelled wrong) that just run free on the property. The capibaras were friendly enough to feed out of your hand but werent particually pet-able. The muskrats, however, were quite friendly and very game for head scritches.
After we got back on the subway and headed for the mall to look around and grab lunch. Then started the journey to the Aleman. We new it was on Durago so took to subway to Durago and were planning to walk the short distance to the Aleman. The subway stop ended up being on a part of the street I didnt know so we ended up asking a guy at the gas station where Libratador was. Libratador is a large avenue that runs right by the Aleman and presumably should have gotten us going in the right direction. But despite the directions and our bests attempts, we ended up turned around and headed totally the wrong direction. Which we finally figured out when we managed to find a WiFi connection and check a GPS application. We'd only gotten about 12 block the wrong direction. So turned around and eventually found our way to the Aleman (only a few blocks from where we'd gotten turned around - go figure). Watched a few rounds of the show (over 600 rounds today!) then found Martin and headed home!
Some definite highlights/funny moments of the day. On the subway people walk around putting booklets or pens in peoples laps. If you want to buy them you hand them money. If not you just ignore whatever it is and theyll pick it back up. I totally missed this and picked up one of the booklets, started flipping through it then stuck it with my stuff to look at later. It didnt look like much but thought it might be interesting to try to read. Guy comes back around and starts freaking out in spanish. I just stared at him and was like "I have absolutely no idea what youre saying". Thankfully the guy sitting nect to me spoke english and while laughing at me was able to help get it sorted out. On a seperate subway ride a young guy leans over and asks, in perfect English, where Alice and I were from. Turns out he was from Texas and working down here. Still have no idea how he picked up we were from the US so quickly. Ended up speaking to a decent amount if people both in spanish and english in our tour around the city.  Every time we went to buy something, however, no one spoke english. Attempting to order things when I dont know the words for what Im asking (ice cream cone?) was quite an experience. This whole year is about different experiences though. Over all a very successfull, very fun day in Argentina. Another full week ahead with horse shows, Megs arrival and who knows what else!

Photos of all sorts of stuff. The city, the subway, the zoo, Alices earrings that she bought today, grafitti, ect...