Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October 31st - 8:39pm

Didnt get around to a blog post yesterday which isnt too big of a deal considering it was just another no riding day. The rain left the ring absolutely soaked so despite a bit of sunshine, there was no ring riding to be had. Meg, Martin and Alice packed up six and headed to San Martin to school. I stayed back at home to put horses on the walker and clip Boss. Not quite the most exciting day ever. But the sun came out which allowed the ring to dry so we were able to ride today.
The morning was just walking everyone for 20 minutes under saddle. I was on Luli, Mauro, Nacar (until Martin switched and I was on Justinian), Uxmal and one more I believe. Just cannot remember who! We walked and worked on flexing, halting, backing, lengethening, shortening and the like. Martin also got on us for position issues as well so it was a productive morning despite just walking.
Through the morning the ring dried up a ton and by the afternoon it was almost totally dry. Since the morning had been super light in the work department we ended up getting on a few and trotting them around for 15 minutes. Same work as before but with trot work thrown in. I was on Mauro, Nacar and Virtuoso. All three were super good. Especially since I managed to fall off the mounting block (stepped on the edge on accident and it fell over) and killed my knee prior to Nacar. It had been feeling so great lately with riding and walking. Definitely dissapointed to be back gimping a bit but hopefully it will keep getting better. And Ill definitely be way more cautious about where my feet are on the mounting block!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October 29th - 9:07pm

So while the east coast of the US is being hit by Hurricane Sandy, the Rancho Pampa area of Argentina is being hit with even more rain. So. Frustrating. Im not sure Ive ever seen this much rain in my life. Plus the wind/rain combo knocked out the internet so cant find out how my family weathered the storm. I know it was headed north of my area but with hurricanes, I worry anyway.
So today was a no riding, no internet day. Horses went on and off the walker, got groomed and trimmed up. The clippers we had been using to do ears and noses went dull so it was on to scissors. Or rather the sheep shearers. Think I probably did or helped do about 15 sets of noses and ears with the shears. It was a new way if doing it fir me but some points I felt it was with less bother than with the clippers. With throw it into my toll box of things Im capable of but definitely miss my clippers at home. One if the many things I will not ever take for granted again. But even with the lack of clippers, the majority of the horses have been trimmed up which just leaves a few for tomorrow afternoon. Or maybe tomorrow morning if the rain keeps up. Praying it wont.
After work, Meg, Alice and I hung out in the kitchen eating dinner and watching the movie Interception. I thought was a good movie. Definitely one Ill need to watch again to really get it but decent never the less. Its been so long since Ive watched anything but Criminal Minds and NCIS that it was fun to watch a movie. Plus even after spending all day together, its fun just chilling with the other girls doing stuff. Going to miss them both like crazy.
Hoping for a better night of sleep than yesterday and a rain free one as well!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

October 28th - 10:03pm

<p>Over all a very fun day here in Argentina. Meg and I got a lift from Martin to the store earlier in the morning. Got our all important supply of cornflakes and other goodies. After we helped Martin get some of the food ready for the asado! We put a normal salad together and got a potato salad started. Both ended up being pretty good. Once again, however, Martin made/grilled some amazing meat. The asado was super fun with Martin, Meg, Alice, Rachel and one of Rachels friends who is down visiting. We havent had one here nor had a moment to really relax during a meal in awhile so it was fun. Plus the whole meal was in english for a change so I can definitively say the people AND conversations were good. Usually I just have to take a guess off the little Ive understood. <br>
After we made a quick stop for ice cream at our favorite ice cream place across the bridge. I got chocolate as usual. Everything is better when its got chocolate. Then onto the Grand Prix at San Diego. I cant even begin to describe how beautiful the country club was. Gigantic houses on pristine grounds. Perfectly manicured polo fields all around. Just incredible. I tried to take some pictures but they didnt do it any justice. We got to the show in enough time to watch the jump off of the mini prix (at 1.30 I believe) before watching the entire 1.45 Grand Prix. It was a twisty course on a grass field that had rails coming down everywhere. Out of 35, I believe 7 made it to the jump off of which 2 went clear. Sadly enough my favorite rider had a rail down in the first round. But the riding was, for the most part, great. The horses were jumping well and the atmosphere was fantastic. Plus it was fun to see all the trainers, riders and random people Ive come to know in Argentina.
Came home after to a quiet night at the farm talking with friends from home over skype. As frustrating as that program is to use on our internet, Im so glad it was invented! Love being able to connect with home so easily. Still miss home but days like today make me glad that Im here and pushing myself to be a better rider. And now that Ive let it get sufficiently late (far too late really) Im headed to bed. Going to be another long hot week! And sadly enough one of Alice's last full weeks at Rancho Pampa! She heads home November 16th! Going to make sure I do everything I can to make sure these last couple weeks with her at the best ever since weve become so, so close. Already know I will miss her like crazy!

Photos from the show. Loved the flaxen colored chestnut. And the drag with the stump. That stup probably fell off 10 times while he was going around

October 27th - 8:34pm

Final day of a long, long week here at the Rancho Pampa. Dont know if it was the sudden addition of heat, a couple early mornings or what that made it so long. But I was definitely glad to see 6:00 role around. Though I think we were still getting a few final things finished after that.
Spent the morning working the horses. Holandesa on the longe then Jour, Puccini, Geologo, Nacar undersaddle. Jour and Puccini were just hacking but Martin had me take Geologo and Nacar over fences. It was my first time jumping Geologo. We just did a couple of verticals of varying heights with most of the focus on the canter. Its hard to believe that something Ive done for so long (cantering) can still be so very difficult to do correctly. When the jump is little, I over hold to the distance right at the base. When the jump gets bigger I allow the horse to lengthen toward it without even realizing. Especially if I see a distance thats a little long. So we worked on that. Getting the canter up and infront of my leg while still together. Maintaining the same rhythm to and after the fence. Relaxing infront of the jump without allowing the pace and length of stride to change. So hard to consistently get it all just right.
After I was on Nacar with some course work. Worked on some of the same things as we did with Geologo. Pace, rhythm and striding along with Nacar specific things like turning drifting. I also really had to work on moving up the first couple strides of the line then softening to the jumps. With a more expierenced horse I can be a little slow to move up and get out ok. With the young ones, they have to have the time infront of the jump to look at it, balance and jump. Run up to it and they stop or it all comes down. As far as Ive seen, this is the longest and tallest course he's ever done. And he did it like a champ. The last jump on corse was a meter (the final jump we ended on with Geologo) but none on course were small. Such a good boy. Id like to think I did better with moving up early in the line and generally riding better to help my horse as well. Either way, I was very happy with him.
In the afternoon a client from New York came to try some hunters. Martin got a lesson with the trainer, a grand prix rider, on Luli as well. Watching him jump Luli reminded me of why Im here. I want to be able to ride her like that. I want to be that good.
Tomorrow were having an asado here at the farm then heading over to watch a Grand Prix at a show down the road. More watching fantastic riding. Just the motivation I need to keep pushing.

Friday, October 26, 2012

October 26th - 9:36pm

Spent almost an hour tonight talking with my stepdad over Skype. Been feeling kinda iffy lately with missing home. Especially with Alice leaving in 20 days and Meg heading out soon after. Six months is a long time to be away from home when youve never traveled before. Prior to this trip Id always lived with my parents or under a 45 min drive. Friends and family where never far away. Here, it is quite different. I know I am learning a ton and that it is so good for me to be here. But somedays, I just want to see my family, sleep in my bed, pet my dog and ride the horse Ive had for almost 8 years. I think Id be better off if I had a more established life here but I am just here on a temporary basis. First three months and now a year. Long enough to miss home but hard to establish yourself with a time consuming job and the lack of a common language. Definitely need to work on that, however, to make my remaining time enjoyable. Right now Im just enjoying having the girls here, staying in touch with my family and pushing myself to be positive and happy about everything. Always been a big believer that perspective is huge. Just have to keep telling myself everything is great. Even when its not.
Today was pretty good though. Rode Luli, Holandesa, Nacar, Jour and Picaro. Schooled cavaletti on Luli and Jour. Despite a less than perfect ride, I was still quite happy with Luli. As Ive said before I use to not be able to trot her decently. Now Im able to do basic work over cavaletti/fences with her. Shes still not easy for me yet but Im learning and proud of that. Shes one of my favorite horses here so I really want to learn to ride her well. After her, I did some over fences work with Nacar. Hard to believe he's the same horse I use to struggle to steer. Now he jumps around courses like a grown up horse. The afternoon was the same as usual. Getting little jobs done, helping the guys and getting the barn finished up.
Tomorrows the last day of riding this week and not going to lie, Im looking forward to sleeping in a bit on Sunday. Hoping for some good rides tomorrow to finish the week off!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

October 25th - 9:45pm

Another somewhat early morning here at the farm. The final series show at San Diego was today so Justinian, Benito and Puccini were packed up and headed over for their classes.
After that it was me on Rodrigo duty (as weve come to call it) longing the young ones before he gets on. Meg was riding with Alice and Martin at the show.
Morning was pretty decent with all the young ones behaving well. No silly behavior on the line or undersaddle. Once they were finished up it was on to helping Meg finish up the riding list. I ended up on Luli and Holendesa who were both good. Worked on straight lines with Luli since I have a tendency to just ride her bent one way or another. Did rectangles in the ring trying to make the corners 90 degrees and the four strides straight. Worked on that at the canter and trot. Again having to laugh at the difficulty of riding a decently straight line. Almost without fail I end drifting to the inside or outside. Ive gotten a lot better at riding the straight lines as well as correcting crookedness since I got here which is nice. With Holendesa I think I did a couple hundred transitions. Martin and I did a sort of skewed figure eight exercise with her a few weeks ago and I worked through that. Lots of transitions within the gaits as well as between them. By the end she was much softer and more relaxed than when we started.
Martin, Alice and the horses got in as Meg and I were having lunch at 2:00ish. Once they were unloaded and taken care of we got on the last group and ended up having a flat lesson. I was on Uxmal who was the youngest of the group. Still think I did a pretty decent job of putting him together like an older horse. Virtuoso and Skyline were both able to really show off the difference between working and medium trot. On a totally other side night, congrats to Alice on her purchase of Skyline. We all had some changes to make to our positions, way of asking things and understanding of differences the horses gaits but over all I think it went well. After riding Luli and Holendesa, the horse switch was somewhat interesting to me. Those two mares are like little sports cars to ride while Uxmal is like a high performance SUV. No less sensitive but probably three times as big. Still a good boy though.
Once the lesson was finished we put them up super quick and headed to the ring to build a course. Martin told us to make an outside/inside hunter course but after that it was all on us. Not much you can do to make those type courses exciting but I think it turned out well. Hoping it rides well. And doubly hoping I get a chance to ride something over it!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October 24th - 9:36pm

Up entirely too late after a long, long day. Started off at 4:30 (had to look at my alarm clock to remember what time it went off!). We took Cylene and Twilight to be delivered to their new owners and brought Benito, Puccini and Virtuoso to school. Even through a language barrier I got the impression the new owner was quite happy with her new purchases. Cylene and Twilight had fancy new halters, wraps, blankets and everything upon their arrival. Fingers crossed its a great home for them. The three extras we brought schooled quite nicely as well. I have to admit that even though Puccini isnt my absolute favorite ride here, I have to give him a lot of credit when it comes to jumping. Even when I think he is for sure going to knock it he gives a little something extra and clears it. I didnt get to see Benito school over fences but heard it was good. A very successful morning. After finishing with the last horse we loaded up our newly lightened rig and headed for home. Which is when the real fun would start.
Martin moved the schedule around a bit so that the ring would have more time to dry. As a result all the normal morning riding was taking place in the afternoon. We ate a quick lunch with horses on the walker before settling into riding. I had Luli, Nacar, Nixon and Herodes. Not a tough day of riding number wise but with the inconsistent riding as of late (thanks rain!) all of them are feeling their oats a bit. Meg and I both served to underscore the importance of finding and staying in the middle of your horse. As my trainer at home would say, we took a turn as lawn darts. Crawled back on Nixon and finished out a pretty decent ride without incident. Im hoping this is my one fall of the week and I can just go up from here. Im still trying to work out how its me that comes off with just consistency (every two weeks or so since July). Heck today was two weeks to the day and before that was off by a day. Alice, Meg, Martin and Rodrigo are riding the exact same horses in the same ring and it is almost always me. Ive never come off this much in such a short period of time. Ever. I know Im getting better but sometimes I think of my conversation with Meg and few weeks ago (probably after Id come off) and laugh about how true it is. We were talking about how great a rider Martin is and about some of the top riders in the world. We both agreed that sometimes we feel like we just suck at riding. And likely will always suck at riding. After today, I totally feel like I suck at riding. Tomorrow, I may feel super confident and ontop of the world. But today, I was reminded the hundred different ways in which I still suck. Awesome.
Hoping my desire to improve (or maybe just raw stubborness) that drives me to catch the horse and get back on will one day lead to being a decent rider. Despite it all, I do get back on, I do keep trying and I do want to improve.
The day finally ended close to 7:00. And tomorrow Justinian is headed to the last of the series shows so up a bit early again. Since its just one horse, one one person is going. Im on Rodrigo duty so staying behind. Going to spend all morning longing young ones and plotting ways of staying in the saddle on the older ones!

October 23rd - 5:15pm

Getting to write my blog post a little earlier in the day than usual since Im keeping an eye on the freezer repair guy in Martins house. His eleven year old daughter is here with him who has studied english and he's for her practicing what she knows with me. Its actually quite fun to hear her dad prompt her to ask questions and then watch her work out how to say them in english. Where Im from, what Im doing here and the like. Im proud to say I understand both her dad asking in spanish and her in english. I get the impression Im a bit of a novelty for the daughter as someone from the US. Or maybe she keeps staring cause I have paint all over my face again. Hope its the first.
Besides this adventure with the repair guy its been a pretty average day. It rained even harder last night than it did the night before so we're still rained out. All morning it was horses on the walker, grooming and the like. At 11:30 or so Meg, Martin and I headed out with Justinian, Virtuoso and Twilight to hack/school at San Martin. Rachel got home from the US today and Martin had to pick her up which is why we got out late. I must say I have missed having Rachel around. I dont interact with her a ton on a daily basis but its still nice to chat with her every so often when she's feeding the dogs or watching a horse work. But she's back now. And all the horses we took to San Martin were good. Twilight and Cylene are headed to the Hipico tomorrow to live so we've got an early morning there. Also bringing some to hack though not sure who yet. Likely Justinian since he's doing the final series show on Thursday. Hard to believe the series is coming to an end! My first day here back in my was either the first or second show of ten in the series. And now its coming to an end with the finals quickly approaching. All the horses have come so far in the last six months with their training. Going to be so strange as the horses Ive spent the last months with start to leave as they are purchased. October, November, December are the busy months here in Argentina for sales. Over the course of those months many of the horses here will leave and many new young ones will enter into training. Already we have 13 new ones with more to come. By April 28th, when I leave, Im sure most of the horses in the barn will be new faces. Absolutely crazy to thing about!

At least this afternoon the sun is shining and the ring is looking dryer. Maybe some riding will be possible after the Hipico tomorrow. All the rain has brought the flowers out.

October 22nd - 6:17pm

Poured rain. All night. I love this job when the sun is out and riding is possible. When its pouring rain and we have a flooded ring, I miss the covered our barn at home has! But at least some of the horses were able to be worked today. Meg, Martin and I packed five up and took them to San Martin to be ridden. Only Martin was able to ride which meant we were just tacking/untacking/longing horses. Which was somewhat fun for a bit. Until it started pouring at San Martin. With us working off the trailer. Within seconds, everything was soaked. Guess I can be thankfully that it was super cold but at the time, I was just thinking about how much I didnt like the rain. By 11:30 everyone had been worked and we headed home. Despite the rain and less than ideal conditions, however, all five horses were good.
The afternoon was spent cleaning up Twilight and Cylene who (fingers crossed) have a new home. Hopefully, those two will go on the list with Lion and National for horses that have been sold since I got here. After that it was back to painting the bars on the stalls. Weve just got a bit left now so hopefully we'll finish up before I truly dislike the job. The painting of the poles finished up right on time in that regard. Must admit, though, they look quite spiffy in the ring. Need to get some pics when a course is set up again and everything looks beautiful.

On thing that did get painted, however, and looks awesome is the Rancho Pampa truck! It looks so great!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

October 21st - 9:08pm

<p>We caught a ride into town to Puerto Maderno with Martin around noon today. On the way there he remembered that there was a very neat street fair type thing going on near the port so we ended up there first checking things out. We each bought a thing or two from the various vendors. Even after seeing so many of these type street fairs, I still love them. So much to look at with so many beautiful things. Plus the people are always interesting. The vendors themselves often speak a bizare mix of english and spanish which is fun to try to decipher. The other people shopping tend to be from everywhere as well so the mix of languages is even more interesting. Today we heard tons of spanish, english, german and one language I could identify. Sometimes in our own little haven at the farm I forget I really am in one of the largest cities in South America. Days like today remind me exactly where I am. The street fair ended at Plaxa de Mayo where the presidential palace and national bank are. This was my first time seeing the buildings in the day light and theye just as pretty as they were at night. The arcitecture is incredible with a great mix of old european style buildings and newer more modern types. <br>
After the street fair we went down to the port and walked along the water. That area use to just be warehouses and whatnot but it has now been rebuilt with resturants and some shopping. They had some old war ships in the water that would have been fun to learn the history on but sadly enough all the information was in spanish. Im always game to try to decipher what things say but detailed historical accounts of a ship are just out of my league at the moment. Once we got to the end of Puerto Maderno we turned and walked up Cordoba toward 9 de Julio a bit until we hit the pedestrian walkway (named Flordia actually). It had a fun mix of side street trinket shops and designer stores. Most were closed since it was Sunday afternoon but still fun to look. At the end of Flordia we hit another Plaza that Alice and I had actually been to before the night we went to Martins moms gallery. We saw the beautiful tree in the center of the plaza in the light. At the plaza we got onto Santa Fe which we walked down to 9 de Julio. Then kept walking till we hit the green Subway line that would take us to Plaza Italia. Stopped for a quick later lunch then kept on to the bus stop. As my luck would have it, it started pouring right as we went to wait for the bus. And since it had been hot and sunny earlier, we had nothing with us. Some nice stranger loaned us his jacket which we huddled under till the bus showed up. Then an hour long ride home and another walk in the rain to our actual home. Not gonna lie, the last bit of the day was pretty miserable with cold and wetness but as always getting out and in town is fun. Especially with the other girls. Now fingers crossed the rain stops so we can actually ride this week!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

October 20th - 8:33pm

Another day of rain. Never seen so much rain in my life as I have in this country. But thankfully it didnt rain hard or for long (well start and stop all morning) so we were still able to ride. First up was Virtuoso with a much more productive ride than yesterday. Managed to put most of what Martin said into practice and got the results I wanted. Martin talked more about connection and the goals of ridings. Some of what he said stuck and some didnt. Which is bad since I do need to learn everything I can. Especially what he says. Probably going to have to start studying with Alice and Megg to keep up with the flow of information. Not sure whether it'd be fun because its horses or not so fun since its studying.
But after Virtuoso I had Nixon, Puccini, Mauro, Nacar and Pastrocito. Nacar was a rockstar again with our working on bending, stretching and just general flatwork. As much as Im teaching him, however, I think he's teaching me just as much. If I loose the forward motion, everything falls apart. If I get stiff, he gets stiff right back. Its great to be on one that is that easy to get feedback on. The older ones can teach me a lot too but they also know enough to hold their own when I am incorrect. With a really young one, I get instant responses. We weren't able to do too much in the saddle beyond basic flatwork due to the footing and rain but it was still a good morning. Then a quite afternoon topped the day off.
Headed out with Rodrigo for a bit tonight then hopefully to Puerto Maderno with the girls tomorrow! Cant wait!

October 19th - 12:14pm

Early morning at Rancho Pampa today. Martin said if we started early and got finished early enough we could take a roadtrip to Baral to check out some horses. So we got up early and were greeted by insane lightening. Super bright, forking everywhere, crashing thunder, the whole nine yards. But no rain. So we tacked up the first group to go to the walker. Then the second group. The weather had considerably slacked off by then so after a quick call to Martin, we opted to go ahead and ride. Which of course meant the rain had to start. So from 6:30-7:30 it rained. Wet horses and wet working students. But we got 6 horses finished by 7:30 and the two I was on, Nacar and Holendesa, were quite good.
After my two rides I started onto Rodrigo duty with longing. Most were a little up after several days of being stuck inside but all settled right into working. The ring was still somewhat wet from the last rain and rain this morning so cut the longing short when the footing started going bad. Which should make some of the fillies even more interesting as theyve had an extra day off now. But it did mean I got to get one more ride in. Ended up on Virtuoso doing walk/halt transitions for 45 minutes. You'd think itd be boring but a perfect down up transition is nearly impossible so there was a lot to work on. No drifting to the side when halting, walking perfectly straight away, nitpicky stuff. But important stuff. A horse that pops a shoulder in the downwards to the halt will likely pop the same shoulder elsewhere. And fixing it is all disipline. Finding/discovering/using a method that works and implementing it consistently in work. Method and disipline. Very important stuff. I tend waver with my method and to be hit or miss with disipline. As a result, my horses are the same. And thats not what I want. I want a horse that does what I tell it. So big eye opener there trying to sort out all the nitty gritty details.
Once we'd finished and had lunch Martin called Baral to check on their weather and turns out it had REALLY been pouring their so no fieldtrip. But since everything was finished, he offered to take us all to the mall between Rancho Pampa and town. We all jumped on the oppertunity to get out and about. Plus Ive been wanting to get some new clothes. I dont own many clothes to start with and didnt bring much with me since I was only staying 3 months. Well nearly 6 months into the trip, Im getting very sick of the same couple shits and polos. So today was a bit of shopping. New shoes, new dress and a better idea of words associated with shopping/clothes. Learn something new all the time! After we met back up for dinner with Martin at an American style resturant. The food was great, Martins stories were awesome but by the end I was almost asleep at the table. Starting the day at 5:00 and being out to dinner still at 10:00 does not make for an energetic Katie! But it was worth it! Headed to bed now with a day starting at the normal time tomorrow!

Friday, October 19, 2012

October 18th - 8:51pm

We got to ride today! Again just at the walk breaking up the footing but I so miss riding when weather forces us out of the saddle. I was on Mauro, Luli, Cor Lit and Nacar. Worked on walking forward, halting, getting the horses to stretch and reach into the contact. Martin quizzed us on what the definition of contact and I failed miserably even after having him explain it last week. I think its because it is an easy concept to think about and incredibly difficult to learn because it is all feel. It is the soft, consistent, elastic contact between the riders hand and the horses mouth. But that is not enough to really have a real working contact with the horses. If my horse is behind my leg, doing what it pleases and barely listening to me then my hands can be as soft/elastic/consistent as possible and its not going to get me anywhere. The horse needs the drive from the hinds created by the legs to power up and through his topline. Only then can I really take a contact that can be accepted. And the contact isnt just at one fixed point. The horse has to be able and willing to follow my hands if I give them more rein to go long and low or less to bring them up and together. The topline working and stretching is so important. And was a big part of what we did today. Moving the horse around, encouraging them to stretch into whatever length we ask and creating the base for work in faster gaits.
And since I failed so amazingly as giving a sort, correct answer about contact, Im going to start pushing myself to study all the basic riding books I have access to here in more depth. Ive read a ton of horse books but Ive never really analyzed one. Now, however, Im going to make myself do it. No more missed questions. And as Martin said again today, how can you expect to teach a horse something if you, yourself, arent totally clear on what it is. And he's right of course. This job has be going back, thinking and reviewing more than I ever thought I would.
And on a side note, my grasp of the metric system has apparently not improved as much as Id thought it had. I havent been checking myself lately by converting things to inches/pounds/ect as I had thought I was getting better at just recognizing things in meters or grams. We went to the store today and I bought two kilograms of bread rolls for the other girls and I. Didnt realize exactly how much bread that was till the handed me a gigantic bag. Not a big deal since we can just freeze it was was a reminder to take the second to do the conversions before using a system Im not overly familiar with. But Ill never forget how much two kilos of bread weighs now!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

October 17th - 9:00pm

Its gotten to the point that the clock roles around to 9:00 and Im instantly like "oh Im up too late! Must get to bed!". Typical 19yr old right there. For sure.
Today was spent out of the saddle since our ring is still way flooded. So it was a somewhat slow day with grooming/painting/ect. And since there really wasnt much to do that was mentally hard, there was a lot of time to work over ideas. Rachel posted a link to an article on facebook the other day that got me thinking.
Not just as things to say before you die but as words to live with and by. A huge part of this job is breaking down a big picture idea into its smaller pieces and components then teaching those little pieces to the young horses. Starting with going, steering snd woahing. Eventually jumping, self carriage, lead changes and the like. Eventually those pieces build up until you have a more or less finished result. Horses always take some tweaking to keep them going but if the goal is 1.30 jumper and you get the green horse built up to 1.30 then the goal is basically achieved. I guess doing that work and thinking like that day in and day out has me thinking about life in general like that. There is the big picture success that just about everyone wants. But what about the little pieces that go into that success and make life worth living? Getting that first jump, lead change, course or show completed. One step closer to the final goal but if you dont find some sort of contentment in the little successes/achievements then its going to be a long, difficult journey to the end result.
That article hit a lot of things that are important to make life fufilling. Which in a lot of ways is probably better than straight up successful. A lot of that likely depends on the definition if successful though. I know I at least would take fufilling over sucessful. And simple stuff makes it possible. Taking the time to wonder. Working on a more positive perspective. Little things. Maybe this makes absolutely no sense what so ever (and honestly Im not even sure it makes total sense to me) but I liked the article and wanted to post something about it. Plus the rain is keeping us out of the saddle and that always leaves too much time for random thought!

October 16th - 8:00pm

<p>Been really bad about writing blog posts and posting them the day things occur. Mostly just do to the fact some days have so, so much going on in them that I want to talk about. Today was a rain day so not a terribly busy schedule. Horses on the walker, horses off the walker, groom, feed, paint, ect. Which is good because a) I was exhausted after a night up battling a mosquito and b) I hadnt even thought about what to write about yesterday. But we had a decent amount of painting to do on the bars of the stalls. Plenty of time to think and have story time with Megg. Sometimes when we end up doing work that isnt overly stimulating mentally we'll get someone to tell a story. It could be about home, horses, the barn here, anything. Just a story to listen to. Weve ended up learning a ton about each other and it makes the work go faster. Lots of stories today. Yesterday, however, was the exact opposite.<br>
One of the big breeding farms here, Haras Windcrest, is closing their operation and auctioning all their stock. Sunday was broodmares and the younger babies I believe. Monday (yesterday) was all the two and three year olds with the addition of a few stallions. Martin offered that if we wanted to go, we could but would have to be in the barn at 6:00 to start riding. All three of us jumped on the offer so at 11:45 when everything had been ridden, walked or longed we headed out. I ended up on Luli, Puccini, Nixon and Georgia to warm up then longe for a bit. All four were quite good.
After the morning work we headed to the farm where the auction was going to be held. It was a similar set up to the other auctions Ive been to with the free jump, tables to watch from/eat at and food served. Really the only difference was it was during the day and outdoors. So at several points we got drizzled on. And when it suddenly got cold, Megg and I got to shiver. It was still very fun to see. One stud with Voltair and Quidam de Revel lines sold for over $60,000. Others barely brought a couple thousand. Several jumped amazingly and moved like a dream. A couple were still working off the fugly baby look. I loved one inparticular but Martin said he didnt pass the vet which is such a shame. We did end up with one that did pass the vet though! A very cute bay. Hopefully he'll be coming home in the near future! One thing about the auctions that is so interesting to watch is when they opt to have a horse jump again. The bidding opens up pretty quickly after the jumping starts.Once they get the main jump up to height, they dont just keep pushing the horse around to jump. They stop him and watch the bidding. If the price stalls a bit, they jump him again in hopes of pushing it up. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesnt. If they put a really impressive jump out, the bidding may go up some more. A pole, crash or stop and bidding almost always quits right where it was. At one point, though, the stopped and just flat out took the horse out because both the bidders were on the phone. One from Mexico and the other from some other country. That was quite funny to me but not at all unusual. Everyone is on the phone talking to clients, owners and who knows who else.
At the end of the day, everything that was being auctioned had sold and everyone seemed decently happy. We'd ended up with the horse we wanted and had had an enjoyable afternoon in the process.
All the drizzling we kept getting, however, turnd into a gigantic rain storm here at home though. Its barely let up all day. We definitely wont be riding in our ring tomorrow. But hopefully we'll be doing something fun!

Monday, October 15, 2012

October 14th - 10:17pm

After yesterday's adventure on the waterfront and all around content-ness with life, I thought it would be a hard day to top. But today did.
We found out yesterday that the finals for a polo tournament would be in town near the Aleman Sunday morning. Origional plan was to take the bus into town (still an adventure in and of itself), then walk or catch a cab to the fields. Last minute, however, we asked Rodrigo if he wanted to come along too. In the end he just offered to pick us up and take us to the game which a) is more fun and b) makes our life about five times easier. So he picked us up this morning and then we swung by Javi's to get him before heading to town. We ended up right on time for the first game which was awesome to watch. The teams were 23 and 24 goal teams so the play was fast and furious. One team had two players that were two goals and two that were ten goals. The two ten goal players were incredible to see. The game ended up being really close though because the two goal players kept fouling the other team and allowing them to gain points through penalty shots. In the end, though, the 24 goal team won. The next game was another 23 goal team vs 24 goal team. One team was La Canada and since we were with Megg (who is from Canada) we cheered for them. Another tight game but in the end La Canada took the win. Both the gamws were incredible to watch with the break aways being one of my favorite parts. The riders could go all out down the field and still hit a tiny little ball accurately several times in a row to score. The riders trying to push each other off the line of the ball were also quite interesting to see. Those horses would be at a gallop shoving into each other. And even after the running/shoving/craziness, if the ball was lost, they could still stop and turn on a dime to go back after it no problem. The crazed horse changes were fun to watch too. All the riders quickly changed horses between each chukker and some changed during the chukkers as well which had to be even quicker. Lots of jumping from one horse to the other without ever setting foot on the ground. The guys and horses were just amazing displayed of athleticism.
After the games we drove to Tigre which is a little touristy type town on the delta of the river. It was kind of strange to be in a tourist area and being treated like one after so long in this country but obviously six months wont change the fact I look American so whatever. It was still quite fun to walk down the different ports where people had all sorts of stands set up with trinkets to buy. We ended up right on the river watching the boats and water for a bit. Again got a brief bit of homesickness just watching all the boats going up and down the creek. Which I guess wouldnt be called a creek here but it looked a bit like some of the creeks at home so calling it that. Just have to remind myself as comfortable as it would be to be home, Id never get to live through these different expierences if I was at home. The language, people and everything. And today was definitely a great day of great expierences with great people. Cant wait to see what else this country holds for me!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

October 13th - 10:19pm

Being content with my life is an ongoing goal of mine and today was definitely one of those good days. First ride of the day was a jumping lesson on Twilight. We warmed up in the little schooling ring, jumped a warmup jump and then into the big "show" ring. Everything was set at about .90 so not large by any means but not nothing either. The course had a couple straight lines, water, a combination and a bending line. I was really happy with my ride. Went in, found all 11 fences, got all the striding and zero faults. Martin had me re-do the bending line to the water since I rode it a little too direct and overheld to the water by a hair but all in all, I was happy. Pats for Twilight. And maybe one for Katie! After we had another jump lesson over the same course and height with Holendesa. Started out well and I really liked our warm up. Felt it had some great points to it. Especially in the trot work. But in the end, I felt I rode that course a little less well with some over holding in some places then trying to recover by gunning a bit to get up the lines. No rails and some decent jumps but it just didnt have the flow Id put together on Twilight. With him each jump had just been apart of our canter. On Holendesa I turned some of them into real obstacles. She's a good girl though and jumped from everywhere for me. After I was on Nacar and again felt like I was really able to get some good work out of him on the flat. Martin helped me with the canter transitions the other day and since then, theyve gotten so much better. Just by tweaking how I ask. Today they were all right there. After the warm up, we went through a grid (cavaletti, three stride, vertical, two stride, oxer, three stride, oxer). Obviously it started lower then got higher but we finished over some decent sized jumps. Nacar was a little rock star especially since it was his first time ever in a grid (as I found out after!). He's come so far since June when I was watching him be broke to ride! After Nacar I flatted Picaro who was fantastic. The series horses all had the day off after jumping yesterday so we finished up decently early. Brian came out and had a jumping lesson on Herodes while I was on Picaro just before lunch. He ended up staying to eat with us which is always fun. When lunch was finished Martin asked if we wanted to go into town in the afternoon. I jumped on the suggestion for another in town adventure.
Meg and I ended up snagging a ride with Brian back into town which was super fun. On Martin's suggestion he dropped us off a couple miles from Plaza Italia on the bank of Rio de la Plata so we could walk up the coastline a bit. Brian dropped up off next to an amusement park with the most bizare theme ever: the crucifiction of Jesus. The had their own crosses and burial cave that Jesus rose from every 15 minutes. We opted not to go in but you could see a lot from outside the gates. Very strange. But as we walked down to sidewalk, the river proved to be as beautiful up close as it was from a distance the few times Ive seen it. The river is the widest in the world and just being able to spend a few hours walking part of its bank was a great expierence. The river itself was a little strange for me to get use to at first coming from an area right on the Atlantic ocean. To me, huge expanse of water equals salt water smell, sea gulls, greyish water and the like. But after a few reminders to myself that it was a river and therefor allowed to not be ocean like, I got over it. The sailboats were the same view as always though. On the sidewalk, there were tons of people fishing, watching the water, eating at one of the food stands, riding bikes and the like. As usual, a lot of stares from the natives but we're slowly getting use to it.
Once we turned off of the bank onto the road to bring us to Plaza Italia we saw people lined up waiting for an outdoor concert as well as people out enjoying the weather in a park. People were playing street hockey, rollerblading, playing football, drinking mate and doing all sorts of other out doorsy things. I honestly dont think Ive ever seen that many people at one time. Ever. In my head I know there are something like 13 million people in Buenos Aires but thats such a large number its hard to picture. Looking at all those people in the park and know its not even a fraction of the people in the city was mind blowing.
We hung around the park/pond for a but before heading toward the plaza once more. Probably one of the first times Ive gone to town where we werent ever lost. Walked right to where we wanted to go with no confusion. Score for Megg and Katie. Walked around Plaza Italia a bit and bought a few things we needed (sunglasses and ice cream). Finding the correct bus was far easier than last time even if we did have a slight bobble at actually getting on. The amount of coins needed to go places keeps changing and we were short a few. Only paper money. Bus driver wouldnt take it. But once again, some random girl offered us her Sube card and we were able to get on. And refused to let us pay her back. Talk about random kindness to total strangers.
And earlier as we left the ice cream place and were headed for the bus stop, Meg and I both came to the realization that the chances of us doing anything like this ever again once we leave is minimal. A morning of riding incredible horses with a top notch trainer then spending the afternoon wandering a beautiful city in South America. Experience of a lifetime.

October 12th - 8:49pm

Bit of an early morning at the farm today. Opened the gates at 5:30 and started getting horses ready at 6:00. Felt considerable better this morning and now that the weather is warming up, its nice to get started riding early. Today was my day to help Rodrigo with the young horses but since we started early I got rides in on Nacar and Herodes before I switched to longing. Herodes was just a get out to work hack. Go, woah, turn, ect. Martin had me work on Nacar's flatwork some more which is turning into quite a learning experience for both of us. How to teach a young horse to stretch and extend into contact when they are naturally built a bit more upright with their neck. Nacar's learning how to carry himself and Im learning how to teach him. Martin made a point today while I was on him though that I need to give some thought (Im thinking the next rainy day should do). He said that this type riding, the educating a horse, is really an art form. There are a ton of different methods on the books with most being beneficial at one time or another. It is our job as the rider, however, to create a plan, execute and potentially modify what we came up with to best suit the horse and our needs. Martin said it was roughly like a painting. He may want to use the light green, someone else the dark and me the florescent green. All are colors and all have their place somewhere but one color (or a combination of a few) is going to be best for me and my horse. And its an art form to come up with that color. With Nacar the last couple days, it has been sending him forwardforwardforward off his hinds until he reaches into a contact. That could be a workable plan with him for the next month or maybe just the next week or maybe tomorrow he'll need something else. Heck, halfway through the ride his reactions could have told us what had been working just wasnt. That would have required a new plan. I think this part of riding is the toughest for me right now. As Martin reminds me regurally, I tend to get fixated on certain things and ignore everything else. When riding is really more of evaluating, make plan, evaluate, adjust plan, evaluate, ect. Being that methodical and disiplined with what Im doing while maintaining that level of mental flexibility is not easy for me. One more thing to work on in every ride.
After Rodrigo was finished I hopped on Puccini to warm him up for Martin since he was having lessons with Mono. We had the ring set up like a show with a schooling area sectioned off and a course set in the bigger area. Puccini and I ended up having a really good warm up actually (even got a "that looks really good" from Martin!!). I really struggled to ride him when I first got here but now Im figuring it out! With the early start and lessons, everyone was ridden before lunch. Which was good since we had a very busy afternoon with the vet, farrier, shavings guy and neighbors coming over to school the course. As a result, no Petrobras tonight for internet. Its not a long walk to the gas station but its not short one either and since we cant stay long, it has not been worth it to go the last two days. We'll definitely get there this weekend though. Got to let all the families know that we're still alive down here! Not sure why they think we'd just up and die but my family at least always worries.

October 11th - 7:27pm

<p>Felt like one of the longest days ever here. Alice and I have somehow managed to get ourselves sick with colds. Makes every little thing you do that much harder and at least for me, sleep just isnt happening. Add in being sore from falling (yesterday and two weeks ago) and it was a perfect concoction for a less than stellar day. Just before 7:30 when we were suppose to be wrapping up breakfast and heading to the barn both of us realized we'd be quite happy going back to bed. Not a usual emotion for me. Even after five months I still get excited about starting the day. Today, though, my bed looked super nice. Drug myself out there anyway and on to horse #1.
Ended up longing Puccini then on Virtuoso, Twilight, Mauro, Luli, Nacar and Herodes. Worked on the same half circle exercise as yesterday with Virtuoso and practiced the same up/down/bending work with Mauro. Luli and Twilight were quite good as well. The last two, Nacar and Herodes, ended up being jump lessons which were very fun. It was my first time jumping in about three weeks and Ive missed it. Definitely much more fun than flatwork (very important but not all that exciting). All the flatwork has paid off though. Both horses listened to what I asked of them (even when what I asked wasnt right) and it felt like they jumped well. Mostly what I have to work on is supporting every step and keeping it balanced and adjustable. Maybe not doing anything but at least making sure I continue to have the option. Plus riding to a short distance better. When I see its going to be short I tend to take my leg off a bit to try to shorten that way instead of picking up my hands and actually shortening. Not sure why I think less leg is at all helpful but apparently I do. Things to keep in mind.
All things considering Im moderately happy with my riding today. Could have been better but thats not news. But considering how I felt, did pretty ok. Midway through the day with plenty of advil I was feeling somewhat decent but by the afternoon, not a chance. As a result, Im headed to bed very early. Just want to sleep tonight!! Early morning tomorrow to try to get everyone worked before lunch. Plus Mono coming. Definitely going to be a big day. Hoping I feel a lot better in the morning though!

October 10th - 9:15pm

We walked down to Petrobras for our 15 minutes of internet this afternoon. We try to be super efficient about getting finished up, closing up the gates and leaving Rancho Pampa but we've still yet to get to the gas station before 6:45. And we have to leave at 7:00 to get home before dark. Proof right there I love my family. Walking (probablt closer to running) there and back after work just to send the necessary "I am still alive" messages. But at least I get Diet Coke. Or Coke Lite as its known here. I miss it in cans in the US. The little things that ya miss!
Today was a good day at the farm though. The ring had dried enough to really ride which was nice. And Im off young horse/Rodrigo duty until Friday so can really ride for a few days. My knee has been feeling a decent amount better as of late which is nice. After the first horse of the day and Ive gotten to stretch it out a bit Im actually a lot better off. Staying hopeful that itll be nothing major and in another week or so Ill be 100%. I was on Luli, Holendesa, Mauro, Virtuoso, Herodes and Nacar. Martin had us really working hard on their flatwork which was tough for me.
Dressage/flatwork is an area I am very much lacking in skills. I generally know when they're on their forehand, dropping a shoulder, behind my leg, ect but a lot of times I am completely incapable of doing anything to change what is happening. Yes, some transition, lateral movements and whatnot will help but systematically putting together an organized approach to dealing with the problem is not a strength of mine. Especially since I have to be constantly evaluating what's going on and be ready to change the plan Ive come up with. Mentally its a lot and if I start really thinking about it, I get stiff and stuck which is totally counterproductive. Staying tight in the saddle but light/loose enough to go with the horse. Mainting control without constantly dictating to them. When to force an issue/push for more and when to accept what you get and be happy. I have such a hard time with that. Feeling out a horse's level of education and knowing where I can really push for improvement is something I want and need to learn. Or keep chipping away at learning. I think part of the challening part is that there is no hard and fast right way for anything. Nacar is one of the younger horses and with him just stretching into the bridle and bending correctly feels great. That, at this time, is the best he's got. But then I get on Virtuoso and stretching into the bridle while bending correctly is something accomplished in the first couple minutes. During the ride, more has to be asked of him because he is capable of far, far more already. Such a hard balance to find.
Though, as I once again proved today, my balance on a horse is even harder to find. Came off Luli again. At the trot. I swear I have mastered the ability of falling for stupid reason, landing on my butt ad embarassing myself. So as much as Id like to make "improving flatwork skills" at the top of my list of stuff to work on, "staying on" still has to take spot number one. Martin said it best though, "Everyone who gets on a horse runs the risk of coming off. And youve got to get on to ride". So after a deep breath, I went and fetched my favorite mare, crawled back on and managed to put together a pretty good ride. And all the ones after that were even better. Despite everything, the falling, the butt kicking lessons, the hard work and early mornings, all I want to do is ride.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

October 9th - 6:57pm

Were without internet at home so Meg, Alice and I walked down to the gas station to connect for a bit. Kinda a bummer but on the upside, no rain last night so got a little riding in today! Just walking around the ring but its better than nothing! Everyone was good and the ring looked like it might be good enough to really ride in tomorrow. Fingers crossed. A quiet day leaves a lot of time for thinking though. And thinking back/typing up the whole story of Sunday's adventure makes all the little issues we ran into seem quite trivial but at the time each set back or complication was incredibly nervewracking. There was no way of knowing if we were on the right bus, headed the right way or waiting in the right spot. If the buses quit running after a certain time or if they didnt stop where we needed to get off. Meg and I definitely learned a lot and will certainly be doing things a bit differently next time. And there will be a next time. Just as soon as possible I want to try the trip again to smooth out all the kinks and excess worry. I love the riding and work on the farm but this is the other side of the job that I love. The chance to see the sights of another country, learn another language and test my ability to figure things out on my own. Love it.
Stuff I picked up on again Sunday was how difficult a language barrier makes things. My spanish is so much better than it was and still I struggle asking questions and recieving answers. Our whole confusion about the buses and cards could have been answered by anyone standing at the stop with us. But we lacked the words to ask a question or the ability to understand an answer. So there we were, incredibly confused, for hours by something that isnt very difficult.
And right with that, the importance of respecting other people. Plenty of strangers stare at the two weird looking teenagers. Im use to it at this point but it doesnt make it any more exciting to be stared at. And every so often people try to go beyond staring to talking. Which is usually fine and I am totally game to try to answer questions. Twice today though while we were waiting people tried to either strike up a conversation or ask us questions. Both times we tried to answer the questions but I guess we werent making sense because they wouldnt accept what we said. And when we tried to say sorry I dont understand they actually got kind of pissed off. Just talking at us louder and more forcefully like if they just yelled it at us we'd magically understand. The more we said we dont understand or tried to cobble together an answer, the louder they got. Which is something I see somewhat often at home. People try to speak english to a hispanic person and become more and more irate as the person is unable to reply to their basic question in english. I have always felt that behavior is counter productive but after today, its not only counter productive, its somewhat terrifying to be on the recieving end of. I, and I assume most people learning a language, understand the most when the language is spoken slowly, calmly and clearly. If I dont understand it when spoken like that, there is no way I will understand it being screamed at me. Ever. And its not because I am stupid, disrespectful or dont want to answer. I would happily answer whatever questions people had if I understood. I just dont. And Im sure the spanish speaking people being yelled at in english at home feel the same. Not understanding isnt a choice. Its the reality of another language. To those two guys who lost it because we didnt understand, you suck.
As I say that, however, not everyone is like those two. The vast majority of people are fantastic to try to communicate with. They repeat themselves slowly, throw in english where they can and really try to be understood. And like the man and woman on the bus who figured out to loan us a card or the ladies who spoke english at the store, many times people go out of their way to help the gringas that just dont get it. To those people, we're learning and thank you for understanding. This whole trip is an adventure. Sometimes a fun one, sometimes an agravating one and almost always a challenging one. People that are willing to help me out make it worth continuing to push the comfort zone and keep meeting new challenges that expand my horizons. I  say it in person plenty and will say it again now, thank you.

October 8th - 8:54pm

We had a beyond large amount of rain last night so no riding today. Helped with chores during the morning. Horses on the walker, water, sweeping, grooming and the like. Once we were finished with the morning stuff, we were invited upstairs for a Canadian Thanksgiving lunch/dinner (a day late but turkey's are hard to find in this country!). Brian, one of my favorite people in BA, was invited over and we had a great time. An amazing meal, fantastic company and re-runs of the olympics after. Such fun. Depending on the weather tonight we may be able to ride on the roads tomorrow but with how nasty the sky looked, Im not holding my breath. But to continue the story of yesterday's adventure...

It had taken entirely too long but we had finally succeeded at getting on a bus we then were up against the unavoidable problem of getting off. I thought we could safely assume that we'd end up in Palermo since thats what the bus said but Palermo isnt exactly a small area on the map. Asking where the stop would be was a bit of a moot point since we didnt really know the area. But the bus stayed headed the right direction toward town and eventually we passed the Personel building that marks the edge of District Federal. Whether we really knew what to do or not, we had made it to the city!
For a bit I didnt recognize where we were at all which was definitely disconcerting. Getting dropped in an area I had zero knowledge of was by biggest concern. That would mean having to find our way by bus, subway or taxi to Plaza Italia (where we had to go to get on a bus to come home). Not an impossible task but not an all together excting one if it was possible to avoid. Especially since time was getting tight. We wanted to be in the gates of Rancho Pampa before dark which is about 7:00 or so at tge moment. The fiasco with getting the bus had put us back several hours and the ride to town was just under an hour. So it was going to be close to 4:00 before we even were off the bus. Count in another hour to get home and we were going to have to be on the bus coming home by 6:00 at the latest. Under normal circumstances, two hours to find a bus/bus stop is forever. After our morning, it might as well have been no time at all.
I had brought a little map of the city with us and we were absolutely pouring over it trying to guess where we were based on the street signs we were passing. After only a couple minutes though a lady sitting in another seat leaned over and told us (in Spanish) that we shouldnt have the map out like that and especially not to do so in the street because it marked us even more as foreigners. And being foreign is a good way to end up in all kinds of trouble apparently. Not sure Ive ever gotten a map closed up that fast and put away. So now were on the bus, no idea where we are, no idea where we are headed and somewhat terrified to pull out the map. Not a great mix for my anxiety. But right as I really was starting to get a little concerned I saw what has become one of my favorite landmarks ever: the signs for the green subway line. We'd just rolled past the Tucman stop which is the first (or last depending on how you looked at it) stop on that line. And a little fruther up the road, another big green sign marking the next stop. The green line is the one Alice and I had been all up and down a few weeks ago. It runs right with Santa Fe and eventually hits 9 de Julio. Instantly had a bearing on where we were. It was all I could do not to jump off the bus right then having realized where we were but before we got off I wanted to ask someone how to get a sube card so we could get back on another bus. Ended up talking with this nice older woman who told me I could get them a couple places and just ask someone on the street where the closest place was when I got off. Since I already had talked to her and she knew what I wanted I figured Id just follow this poor lady off the bus and have her point me in the right direction. So when she got up to get off I did too. As she moved past me I called Meg and somehow missed where the lady had even gotten to after getting off the bus. Id already made my move to get off though so was kind of stuck even though I wasnt totally sure where we were. I had missed where the bus had gotten to while Id been trying to understand the lady's rapid fire spanish. As I stepped off the bus I turned and asked the bus driver "donde estamos?" Never been more suprised in my life to hear him say "Plaza Italia". Took a look around and he was right, we'd somehow made it to our destination.
In reality I shouldnt have been completely shocked. Plaza Italia is on the green line so had we continued to follow the roads it runs under/Santa Fe we would have passed it at some point. The fact we managed by dumb luck to get off at the right stop will never cease to amaze me. We'd done it though! Half the adventure was complete. Meg and I had made it from home to the bus stop to capital to Plaza Italia.
And our first mission was to figure out where to buy the elusive Sube card. We stepped into a kiosk and were told we had to go down in the subway to buy one. Down in the subway we were told that they didnt have them. No other help though. Third times the charm, however, and we stepped into a little side store. Not sure what made me ask if they spoke english since I hadnt asked anyone all day. Low and behold, both women behind the counter spoke fluent english. They told us it was definitely possible to use to coins, just more expensive to do so. Purshasing a sube card was the easiest way to deal with the buses but you needed ID and the places to buy one were closed on Sunday. They asked where we needed to go and seemed a bit shocked as we explained we were from an hour up the road and needed to get home by bus. Final suggestion from them was to try to use the coins again and if that didnt work, pay to use someone elses Sube card. We bought some things from their store as a thank you of sorts before leaving. We asked around a bit more in the surrounding stores about the Sube cards but basically got the same answer. Yes, you can buy them lot of places, but theyre all closed today.
In the midst of the wandering, we past a bakery where I was able to go in a buy a dozen pasteries for the barn. When you fall off here, you owe a dozen pasteries but due to living on the farm I dont have much ability to buy them on the way to work or something. So my pastry count has just been stacking up. Ive got 12 now, though, which is a start. And with how the day was going, I needed a little successful moment. Regardless of how the trip had started or would turn out, I could be happy over my pasteries.
We grabbed a quick bite to eat before tackling the next challenge of the day: getting home. The biggest challenge to finding the bus to home is that there is only one. We could take one of several to capital but only one would bring us back to the right spot. We'd come in on bus 57 Palermo/Pilar so figured we'd find the same bus going to other way and ask if it stopped where we lived. After some looking we found what seemed to be the right set of bus stops. Not the easiest task since there are TONS of different stops. Meg stepped on to one that looked like it had potential (correct number at least). The bus driver said he wasnt going there and pointed to the bus infront of him. We tropped over to that bus and asked again. That driver pointed us to a line of people behind his bus. We headed toward that and joined the bus line (something we've become quite good at). There was a little piece of paper that with the typed words "Moreno" taped to a traffic cone off the the side of the line. Moreno was where we were headed but after this mornings trials with the buses I had zero faith in it being this easy to find the correct bus. Wed barely been looking for the right one for thirty minutes! Just a few minutes later, though, a bus pulls up that looks right and the bus driver nodded when we asked if he was going to Moreno. And he even took our coins! I am still amazed that from starting the search for the bus to getting on one obly took half an hour. I held my breath the whole drive home just praying we had actually pulled it off.
Forty five minutes later and without incident, we were dropped off at the bridge near the barn. Just a ten minute walk seperated us from home. At 6:30 on the dot we rang the door bell at the back gate to be let in. It was still decently light out, we'd made it home in one piece, Id gotten my pasteries and we had one hell of a story. A successful day if Ive ever had one.

October 7th - 8:22pm

Another Sunday full of adventure at Rancho Pampa! Meg and I had decided last night that we wanted to go into town today but hadn't done much planning since there had been a chance of catching a ride with Martin. So we wandered out toward the bus stop just before noon. It is, at most, a ten minute walk to the bus stop so even with waiting for the bus to come I figured we'd be on our way to town by 12:30 or so. Not sure Ive ever underestimated something that badly before. First, the bus we were looking for to Plaza Italia never came past. I understood that it was suppose to come by every 25-30 minutes. We set up shop at one of the tables outside the ice cream store and waited. After an hour, no bus. But from watching everyone, we had picked up on the fact that there was a line of some sort and waiting with eveyone else was likely important. So we got in line and decided to go with plan B which was to take the bus to Once. We'd seen a two go by and had a vague idea of where it would drop us so figured that could be do-able. As we started watching for that bus Meg pointed out that some of the buses to town said Palermo which is an area I actually know a little better. So the decision was made that we'd get on which ever bus showed up first and figure it out from there. Within a half an hour, a bus going to Palermo pulled up. It slowed down for a beat then took off again. Our best guess was that it was full... until we watched someone chase down the bus they wanted on. Maybe there was some way of signaling the buses to stop that we'd missed? I asked the couple infront of us who had been there awhile where they were headed and they were going to Once. So I kept an eye on them and figured we'd get on whatever bus they did to get to town. If one had to be signaled to stop theyd have it covered and we could just go along with it. By then it was at least 2:00 and we'd learned a but but were really no closer to town. And hadn't seen a bus to Palermo, Once or Plaza Italia in at least an hour.
At this point I was really starting to doubt my ability to handle public transportation in this country. We'd already tried to get on these buses twice before with zero luck and they were about to defeat us a third time. Meg and I were definitely getting pretty fidgety and anxious. The weather wasnt helping much either. Somewhat rainy and very grey. I think we were both getting at our wits end when out of no where a whole bunch of red and blue buses round the corner. From all our watching over the last couple weeks, we'd figured out the blue and red buses are the ones to town. And these were no exception, two buses to Palermo and one to Once had all pulled up at once. We jumped onto the one to Palermo before it could get by us. Being on the bus was a mini success but we still had to pay to ride it. The people infront of us were all swiping their Sube cards and all we had were coins with no coin box or any obvious place to put money. I tried to hand my coins to to driver and a refused to take them. Im rapid fire thinking of how Im going to handle this new obstacle when the bus pulls away from the stop. We still havent paid and dont seem to have any way to pay if he wont take our coins and yet this bus is very quickly taking us away from home. I definitely had a moment of panic thinking we were going to get a ways down the road, still not be able to pay and get kicked off. Thankfully though some nice lady and younger guy realized we were having a bit of an issue and stepped in. The guy swipped his card for us while the lady tried to explain why the coins were no good and to just pay the guy back. Totally didnt understand the part about the coins but did manage to pay to guy back. Found some seats, sat down and breathed a sign of relief that at least we were on a bus to town (hopefully!). Now onto the next challenges: getting off the bus and then getting home again.
We're having more rain tomorrow so just going to split the Meg and Katie vs the Bus System into a couple days. Its a long enough story to deserve it.

October 6th - 10:05pm

Another rain day. According to Martin, the amount of rain we've been getting is far above normal. The twenty five days in August was truly crazy but even the amount that has fallen lately is abnormal. And more rain is expected tonight and tomorrow. Fun, fun. I adore riding outside but having a covered or something would be so nice on these days.
So the early morning was spent putting horses on the walker, grooming and general work. Nothing terribly exciting. Meg, Rodrigo and I cleaned up Cylene, Cor Lit, Virtuoso and Twilight to take to Club Hipico to show a client. Dont know whether they enjoyed the attention or not but they ended up looking pretty spiffy. At noon Meg and I left with Martin to head into town. We dropped Meg off on the side of the road with directions to the boot store before going to the Hipico. Meg's been wanting to get a new pair of tall boots here since they are so cheap compared to the US. Fully custom tall boots for a couple hundred dollars. Today ended up being the day so she had her own little side adventure. I have been wanting to get some as well and after hearing her talk about all the options, I absolutely am getting a pair before I leave.
So the afternoon was spent showing horses to clients and from the sound of it, it was a success. Fingers crossed some horses get sold soon! The next batch of young ones is already moved in so the old ones have to go. The movement in a sale barn is never ending. It is somewhat difficult for me to get use to but slowly getting with the program. Im use to barns where people have their horses and maybe a couple are for sale here and there. At a sale barn, everything has a price tag and is actively being offered. The thought of some of my favorites leaving is somewhat sad but at the end of the day the excitement of the nect batch outweighs it. Im also really looking forward to seeing who sells and where they go. One of the Classic horses from last year is currently living a couple hours from me which is quite funny to me. Ive come all this distance to ride these horses and some will potentially be headed right near where I live.
Keeping my fingers crossed that one from today sells and that many more this spring sell as well!

Friday, October 5, 2012

October 5th - 9:20pm

Today was so much like yesterday it is almost laughable. Helped Rodrigo with the young ones all morning. The colts first followed by the fillies. Finally getting to the point where working with them in their routine is becoming second nature. They are quickly learning their jobs and I am learning mine right along side them. The last couple days most of the young ones have started working over some ground poles. Some take to it quicker than others but everyone has about gotten it by now. Today, though, a few of the colts went over actual jumps for the first time. All of them were quite good about it despite their newness. One colt in particular really stood out with an incredible jump. Square in front with a hind to die for. Cannot wait to see that one continue his work over fences. If he keeps going like that, he'll be an incredible jumper.
The latter part of the morning and the entire afternoon was spent riding. Doing a lot better with my knee but still not 100%. The posting trot and sitting canter are suprisingly ok but moving my lower leg to control the shoulder or hinds isnt comfortable. Same with a half seat or two point. I was almost able to jump Nacar in a mini lesson but after the first little cross rail I knew it just wasnt happening. Definitely getting a little dissapointing. All I want to do is riderideride and keep pushing myself to be better. But my body is saying it's not ready yet. Have to listen to and respect that but its tough. Ive never been the most patient person. All 5 (or was it 6?) that I was on were good though. With the potential for more rain tomorrow we finished off most of them as if today was Saturday. Now just to hold on and see what happens with the weather!

And a better picture of Pampa!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

October 4th - 8:38pm

Incredibly full day here at the barn! After being out most of last week, today was my first day back in the Rodrigo/young horse rotation. Between 7:30 and 12:45, twelve young horses were worked on the line and then undersaddle.p Or maybe thirteen. Honestly at this point I dont even try to keep track. Some of them were a little fresh after two days without work but everyone settled back into the groove pretty quickly. Now that I understand what Im doing and am improving in my ability to handle the young horses, I actually enjoy the work. Obviously actually riding is my absolute favorite thing but these young ones are fun as well.<br>
About midmorning Martin and Meg packed Benito up to head into town to compete in the Breeders Cup. Thats the young horse style class that we've been getting him spiffed up for. With those two gone and me helping Rodrigo it was all on Alice to start knocking horses off the list. So as soon as Rodrigo was wrapped up for the day I switched over to helping her ride. Holendesa and Mauro before lunch with Uxmal, Boss and Herodes after. Riding still isn't the most comfortable thing in the world with my knee but still determined to get in the saddle. I miss it so much even when its just a day or two off. Cannot wait until Im back riding at 100% though. I feel so weird trying to change my balance and motion to compensate for newly weaker areas. But definitely not going to complain. Just as long as I can keep riding.
Since there was a decently long list of horses and for the most part just Alice and I riding (Martin and Meg did a few before they left) we werent done till 5:00 or so. Which happened to be right about when the trailer pulled in. And some great news came with it! Benito had jumped clear in both rounds and was moving on to the classes tomorrow! He'll have to go back tomorrow, jump a couple more rounds and hopefully finish well! Go Benito! Alice is probably headed to the show tomorrow to groom/help so she'll get a bit of a break after the full day today. Fingers crossed for more great rounds and a top finish!

Photo of our house guest at Rancho Pampa for the next little while. Its Pampa!! She's back for a bit and positively huge compared to the first time I saw her. Will definitely get some better picks in the day light tomorrow.

October 4th - 6:38am

Somehow I managed to totally miss mentioning that yesterday marked 5 months here at Rancho Pampa. Was definitely a bit of a bitter sweet realization. I adore being here, love the horses, enjoy the people and am thrilled I have the opportunity to stay. The experiences are absolutely unparalled. But as always when we have several quite days in a row, I get to thinking about home. As a result, spent yesterday a tiny bit homesick. Talked to some friends later last night which made me feel both better and worse. Was great to hear their voices but also made me wish I was there with them heading out to dance or waiting for pizza to arrive. Im 100% sure about my decision to stay working and riding here but being away from absolutely everything I know can be tough sometimes. Fingers crossed today is a better day in regards to both the weather, riding and emotions!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

October 3rd - 9:52pm

Another day inside painting. From about 8:30-5:30 was spent with a paintbrush in hand. Most everything was just white (including a gate that took almost four hours!) but there were a few colors thrown in. At 5:30 Martin offered Meg and I a ride to the feed and seed store down the road. Both of us were wanting to buy a pair or two of alpargatas (also known as Toms in the US) and thats where you can get them. Took a bit to figure out how to buy them but we got it done. Instead of going into a store like in the US you go up to this little window and tell them what you want. Not all that difficult if a language is commonly spoken. Not the easiest thing to do without one. Usually I can get by pointing and making hand signals. In a situation like that, you just have to flat out know and understand words. Managed (without too much confusion) to buy myself a pair in black. And at a bargin compared to US prices. $4.50 a pair! So far, I love them. Probably going to end up buying a few more for friends and a couple of different colors for myself. I think they have blue, red, white and maybe another color or two. The start of shopping in Argentina! Since Im going to be here through the spring and summer (two seasons I did not pack for), Im going to have to start shopping a bit for lighter clothes. Should br quite an exprience! Stuff like that is incredibly intimidating in a lot of ways. I never realized how much I use English to get around until suddenly I couldnt. Going into a store people will ask if you need help or want to try something or any number of questions. Ignoring them is rude but half the time I dont even understand the question! Gives me a new level of understanding for foreigners in the US. So often they are thought of as rude because they wont talk to people. Being in their shoes, however, I totally get it. I barely understand the spanish and more often than not I still struggle when someone starts speaking english due to the accent. Definitely a good lesson but would be nice to be past it already! Eventually going to have to get over it and just go though. Only one way to learn and get comfortable with Spanish and thats to go and do it. Nothing like near total immersion to teach you a language!

October 2nd - 8:45pm

Rained part of the night so it was a little wet right off this morning. At first it looked like the forcasted rain was going to hold off so longed Oregon for Rodrigo to ride. That ride ended in rain so after that almost everyone went on the walker. A couple went in the ring to hack a bit but for the most part, the walker got a lot of action. Since the young horses are still in the process of being broke, they all got tacked up to go walk on the walker. Helps keep the days off from being a total training bust. One of my favorite things about working at this barn is being able to see the whole process with the horses. Everything from the unhandled two year old colt to the experienced 1.30 horse walks through the barn doors. Ive been able to watch everything from halter breaking to first rides to first 1.20 classes. Definitely something I did not have the opportunity in the US to see. By the time we got them back home they generally had at least some background training. Here, we're doing that training.
After the early morning working with the young horses it was onto a classic rainy day job with one of the older horses: body clipping. If I had any thought of being finished with body clipping because it was spring then I was wrong. Im guess it will be a lot like home in that body clipping is a year round endeavor. This time for Benito was the victim. He's doing a young horse style class this weekend so making sure he's going and looking as good as possible. I think he turned out pretty decent looking. I do still miss my amazing Andis clippers at home though. One thing about Argentina that is tough to get use to is the lack of newer things available here. In the US the latest and greatest is always available. Here, the laws, regulations, taxes and whatnot mean a lot of things built outside Argentina are just not possible to obtain here. And if they are, the price is generally very prohibitive. Definitely something to appreciate at home more. At least I know Im pretty decent with Lister clippers if I ever have to use them again!
Once the clipping was finished it was on to the other classic rainy day project: painting. Second coats and finishing off a lot of what didnt get finished last week. Poles, planks, cavaletti, boxes and the like.We're hosting a schooling show Sunday so every spare minute will likely be devoted to painting and beautifying Rancho Pampa! Going to be a crazy week (and weekend!) but cant wait!

Monday, October 1, 2012

October 1st - 8:17pm

Finally back in the saddle! Realized last night that I couldnt stand the thought of spending one more day with two feet on the ground. Riding is one of the few things I do even partly well and going without it for even a little bit of time is not fun. Wasn't quite sure what I was going to be able to do but at least wanted to give it a go. Put my stirrups down a few holes and climbed on one of the quieter horses first. Ride one was a little all over the place as I got my bearings back and refigured out my balance but after that I like to think I did at least halfway decent! Ended up on Cylene, Mauro, Justinian, Holendesa, Twilight and Virtuoso in the morning. Everyone but Virtuoso was 15 min of w/t work then longing so not too much hard riding. Herodes in the afternoon was a full ride and then Picaro was just a short hack. Everyone was quite good and pretty tolerant of my somewhat one sided posting/riding. Knee is definitely a lot better than it was last week but is still shy of 100%.
Herodes ended up being the hardest ride of the day since that was the one horses I cantered. He was quite well behaved but the cantering in and of itself was difficult. I always thought posting the trot would be the hardest on your knees. That ended up being pretty straightforward to figure out. Cantering, however, took a lot more. It takes a lot more of your leg to put together/hold a horse in the canter than just just bobbling around at the posting trot. Guess you learn something new everyday. Something to think about/run past Martin as the week goes on. Even with everything else to think about/going on it was still very fun to get on Herodes. Hes not my type of horse but I appreciate a good older horse now far more than I use too. Plus I rarely ride him now days so it was a treat of sorts to get on.
Tomorrow has potential to hold rain so not sure what the plan is going to be. Maybe more riding or maybe helping Rodrigo with the young horses. I totally owe the other girls two days of helping Rodrigo that I fully intend to make up. So with that in mind Ill probably be out of the saddle for a day or two just as quickly as I was able to get back into it. But at least I know I can get on and go now!