Monthly Archives: September 2011

Taupo

We left the farm on Friday around lunch time and drove about 4 hours to the National Equestrian Center, just outside of Taupo, with six horses in the back of the truck.

 This picture doesn’t do this horse van justice. It’s gigantic. As I said, six horses in the back. Plus 4 separate bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen and a flat screen tv. I slept where the horses travel. It was a bit chilly, but nothing anybody from Canada can’t handle. This horse show had about 300-400 horses at it, which is pretty standard. There is also no hunters, only jumpers. There are usually about 4 rings going at once so things tend to move along quite nicely. We started at 6am, mucked out, took off blankets (the horses wear 3 at night, 2 during the day, get a fleece on after working which is then switched after they dry back to their usual 2, and when they’re at the ring they have a different blanket on- plus a heavier one if it’s raining or cold), caulked, brought one horse to the ring, video taped the round, brought it back, untacked, sponged, uncaulked, and repeat for all 6 horses. Each day consisted of lots of running back and forth from the rings to the barn to the truck to the stud barn (we had one stallion with us) and back. The barns were nothing like what you see in Canada at shows. With the exception of the stallion block, they were outdoor stables, half covered and the other half outdoor boxes, with wooden perimeters. Both the head groom (who’s last job was in the US) and I were pretty shocked. All that separated the horses was thin wooden rails that were only about waist height. Easy to jump out of and easy to break. However, there were no wrecks, and according to others who have been to this show before, there hardly ever is any trouble. The horses sometimes break a rail, and you’ll find two horses in one pen, but other then that they’re fine. And after the weekend both of us had gotten over the shock and realized that it is quite practical and a lot cheaper.

After the first day was over, we had a quick supper and then went into Taupo to watch the All Blacks vs France. I have to say, the All Blacks are fantastic to watch. And the atmosphere in the pub we were at was so cool! I have to say the biggest disappointment of the weekend was ordering the pub’s chocolate cake (which cost $12), and then waiting a good 40 minutes for it to come, getting all excited cause it looked soooo goood, and then having the waiter come out with your money and saying they ran out. Awful. I really wanted to know if that piece of cake was worth what we paid. I guess I’ll never know.

The second day was much slower, I waited at the ring with Mr. Berg (one of my favourites), who was in the 1.25 championship class. The class started late, and we were ready early so we waitied, warmed up, and then waited some more, had a clear round, waited and waited and waited for the jump off, and then went into the jump off. For some reason he refused out of the combination this time around the course, Kyle was very unhappy. After Berg’s class we were done and the rush to get home started. We got home around 6 and were done in the barn by a little after 8. I had a brilliant nap all the way home, so I wasn’t even too exhausted. I still went to bed early (I’ve been going to bed around 8:30 or 9 most nights) as I knew Monday was going to come up fast.

Speaking of which, it’s getting close to bed time here now. Below are some pictures I took driving up to Taupo, and on my walk last week. Enjoy!

Pit stop/tourist station in a town on the way to Taupo

This one's for you Leah

Love Hate

My first official day of work started at 7am Saturday, where I worked the morning with Hannah. Then at 11, she went with the horse van to switch horses at the show the rest of the crew was at. I found myself left alone to run the farm by myself… on my first day. I didn’t burn it down, or lose any horses. After work (which lasted forever) all of us went to the local pub to watch the Ireland vs. Australia match. Since we  have two Irish girls, watching Ireland kick ass was pretty entertaining. Sunday I worked the morning with Flo, and the others went to the show again. This time, I got to go in the horse van to make the switch. It’s about an hour and a half drive to Woodhill Sands, where the show was. The plan was for us (me and Allan the driver) to get there, unload the 4 horses we brought, then load the 4 horses coming from the show. But, when we got there the show was running behind. So I went up to the ring and ended up helping Kyle warm up- not something I expected to do on my second day. I have quickly learned to have to expectations. I spent about 2 hours there, and then finally we had a load of horses to take home. I got back to the farm around 3, and started working there again. I think we ended up finishing at about 7 that night. I was assured many times that things are not usually this crazy, and the job gets a lot easier once things are more organized. I just smiled and nodded- much too tired to process any extra information.

Yesterday we had somewhat full staff again. Kyle, Flo and Hannah were off.. so it was just me, the  new girl from France, and the head groom. It was a slow day- as the new girl speaks hardly any english, and the head groom speaks very fast accented english. I’ve found that the horses here are very spoiled and pushy. They have no problem throwing their weight around. Which is very annoying, and my elbows are getting put to good use. They are also very mouthy, they will put anything and everything (including humans if in reach) in there mouth. It’s made me scream in frustration many times in the past 4 days. To be honest, the past 3 days I’ve wondered if I actually want to continue at this job. I debated quitting many times, but thanks to the logic drilled into my head by my mother, I didn’t.. and hopefully I start to like it better. Which after today, I am.

Today I got to ride!! I rode Baboon (LC Tango), who is a 5 year old French gelding.

 I worked the morning (7-9:30) then rode after morning coffee for about half an hour. Kyle was working another horse at the same time, and he gave me lots of pointers on what he wanted to see when I’m riding horses for him. He was very impressed with my hand position, and happy with my riding in general. I must say that riding this horse, and I’m guessing warmbloods in general is a completely ride from Will or any other horse I’ve ridden at home. It was so nice to be on a horse again, which made me like my job a little more. Today was also easier because everybody was back working and things ran much more smoothly. I’ve found that the work is hard and exhausting, but nothing is challenging me, yet. Everything that’s been thrown at me I’ve been able to handle easily- so thank you to everyone who has prepared me for this type of work. I was told today that I’m going with Kyle and the head groom to the show this weekend in Taupo. It’s about 4 hours away so we’ll be staying there. I’m sure that’ll be a new experience, and hopefully I can keep up! I don’t really have a choice. Another thing I’ve learned: even if you’re told you’ll be taught certain skills for the job- that is similar to Uncle Bob saying he’ll teach you to swim and then pushing you in the lake. So just be prepared for that.

It’s rather chilly here right now. There’s been a bit of rain the past few days, today it was sunny- but windy and this evening was quite cold. I’m sitting in my room right now covered in two large blankets and I can still almost see my breath. It doesn’t help that this house has no heating system to speak of. There is a fire place, but we haven’t managed to keep a fire going for more then an hour so far. I’m very ready for it to warm up a little bit. It wouldn’t be so bad if our house was warm and we could escape the chill on our breaks, but I’m pretty sure the temperature in our house is cooler then outside during the day for sure.

On a good note, my back and hip have been amazing! Nothing has bothered them in almost a month. So progress!!! I also haven’t ridden (excluding today) since Fall Harvest, which is almost a month ago. That may have something to do with it. As I mentioned earlier, I have tomorrow off. I plan on definitely sleeping past 6 am and then doing laundry. I may also go for a walk- get out of the farm gates (assuming I can figure out how to open them) and explore what’s down the road. If it’s not raining, or freezing that is.

More later!!

Promised Pictures

My house!!!

Kia Ora

“I honestly didn’t realize how big a deal this trip was until a few hours ago. And after reading the kind words written in my ‘wisdom’ book- it all became much more real. I’m actually living out a dream of mine. This summer leading up to take off taught me so much about determination, and how far it can really get you- especially when you have the right people in your corner. The right people will show themselves when you invest completely in your own life. Your “team” is going to vary, depending on what kind of support you need. Also, there’s always going to be people who are behind you, no matter what, and people who sometimes are and sometimes aren’t. Embrace both. This summer I’ve made new friends, been reintroduced to people who I wasn’t close with before- but now have everything in common with, and I met myself. I look forward to building new connections and learning from new experiences. It’s a big learning experience just stepping away (literally, thousands of miles away) from all my supporters and all the familiarties of home. But at the same time- home is where the heart is, and my heart is in this journey.”

The above is something is an excerpt from something I wrote on the plane.

I MADE IT!!! I’m in no hurry to do that 14 hour flight again any time soon. Although, the flight attendants were awesome. And I was lucky that there was nobody directly beside me (plus I had a window seat) so I could sort of spread out while attempting sleep. Another thing I’m not wanting to do again anytime soon is spending 8 hours in Vancouver Airport. There is a limited amount of things to do.. especially when lugging around three heavy bags. They also do not make washrooms very accessible for people with luggage carts. That was a gong show. I spent a lot of time skyping Leah, taking pictures (of myself-see below)and staring at the ceiling in boredom.

But, finally, my check in gate opened, I got my boarding pass, and went through security. Then, I waited some more. Annnd more. Then it was time to go, I found my seat on the gigantic plane and settled in for take off. I spent a lot of time being amused and in love with the accents. I’m also pretty sure I’m the only one that was on that plane that wasn’t going to the Rugby match tonight. Though, as I hear from my new coworkers, we’re going to be watching said match at the pub tonight. I slept on and off throughout the flight. I also lived up to my expectation of being the crazy person crying while reading letters. Thankfully, I’m pretty sure the lady in my row didn’t notice. I looked out the window at around 4am and could see the moon reflecting on the ocean. That was cool.

We landed in Auckland just before 5am, and I got through security, customs, and everything no problem. The customs officer was very nice and only giggled a few times when I couldn’t pronounce certain names of towns. Kyle (my boss and rider for LC) picked me up, and after loading all my bags up I went to get in the car.. on the drivers side.. FAIL. That’s going to take some getting used to. It took about 20 minutes to get to Clevedon (not ClevUHdon like I was saying previously-thank you customs officer) where LC Horse Farms is located. I met the girls I’ll be working/living with- the headgroom (who worked for McLain Ward before this job) from Ireland, another girl from Ireland and another from France. I think I heard them say another girl is starting on Monday, and she’s also French. They are all super nice, and fun. I already feel pretty comfortable around them, which is good, cause we’re living together. We got to the farm just before 7, and even though they gave me the day off to settle, I worked the morning. Mostly cause I was wide awake and I felt awkward sitting in the house alone. After feeding, mucking, raking, and moving some horses out.. the lack of sleep had caught up to me. So, I ate some toast and started unpacking- which soon led to napping. The farm is gorgeous, btw. I won’t do it justice by trying to describe it cause I’m half asleep right now. So I’ll leave you with the promise of taking pictures asap!

Lake Okanagan Resort and Gerber Daisies

On Friday we moved up to the resort where my cousin Summer’s wedding was taking place. It’s definitely the nicest place I’ve ever stayed. Set right in the valley facing the lake, each chalet had private pools in the back. There was a golf course on site, along with tennis courts and many other activity options. When we got there Friday evening, we quickly hunted down the bigger pool at the central area of the resort and had a quick swim. Then we headed for supper at Vantage Point. Saturday we spent the morning poolside, relaxing and reading in the sun. Our pool apparently got it’s water directly from a mountain stream, as it was very close to freezing. I quite enjoyed the ice water, as it made my back and hip feel much better about life. Then we got all dolled up and headed to where the ceremony was set to take place on “the point”.

The view was incredible, and the perfect setting for the wedding to take place! It was great to see this part of the family. Especially to meet little Sierra, who is two, but very  mature for her age. I say this because of numerous things she did over the weekend. The most memorable being at breakfast Sunday when she was asked what she would like to drink with her meal. Her first reply was “Milk, please!” but, after being told by the unsuspecting waitress that there was no milk today, and asked “Would you like orange juice, or maybe apple juice?” Sierra thought for a minute and then said, quite clearly, “I’ll have a beer, please”. This left our table in hysterics, the waitress in shock, and Sierra in giggles because everybody else was in a fit. This was one of numerous ‘Sierra’ moments.

After the beautiful ceremony by the lake, we headed back to our chalet and snacked on chips and salsa. Passed the time waiting for the reception, and then went and enjoyed delicious food and cupcakes at the reception and spent more time with great family. Summer and her new husband Casey both looked fantastic and I hope I get to see them again soon, which I probably will as my grandparent’s 60th is next summer.

On Friday morning Lyle and I went for another bike ride, this time in the valley around Coldstream. We biked for about an hour up and down hills, and along a busy mountain highway (I only almost died twice). It definitely loosened up my hip. Sunday I got the chance to try out tennis at the resort. IT WAS FANTASTIC. For sure going to do some more of that sport. For me it was like combining badminton and volleyball. I loved serving!! And, much to my surprise, my shoulder doesn’t even hurt after our morning playing. Yay!

We came home from the resort today, Sunday, and settled back in at Daryl’s. After supper and DQ ice cream cake (for my birthday, a couple days early), we squeezed 7 of us Rances into the hot tub. After sitting in there for a little too long, my muscles are now very relaxed. I’m kinda worried about how the good ol’ back/hip combo is going to handle my work in NZ. Only one way to find out! ;s

Mom flies away tomorrow morning- she’s been weepy all day. So I’m sure tomorrow is going to be an emotional gong show. I’ve stayed relatively calm and detached so far. I’m predicting I’ll be the crazy girl sitting in Vancouver airport stifling back tears.. or on the plane crying while reading all the messages written by friends, family, supporters, in my “wisdom” book. That might be interesting. We’ll see how calm I can stay, and for how long.

Anyway, here is a selection of snapshots from the weekend in the Okanagan. I would love to put them all up, but that would be A LOT of pictures. I went a bit snap happy. Enjoy!

Polka to the black eyed peas? Only my grandparents 🙂

“Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become.
The coaches who pushed you.
The people who believed in you.
The long hours of schooling.
The dirt beneath your nails.
The falls you’ve taken.
The ribbons you didn’t win.
The tears you’ve cried.
The horses you’ve given your heart to,
Is a little girl who fell in love with a horse
And never looked back.”

Don’t know who wrote this, but it describes the sport very well!

Somewhere

Tagged

Vernon, BC

We haven’t stopped speaking to each other yet.. 3 days in a van with the same people and CBC full blast could potentially do that to some people.. but.. We made it to Uncle Darryl’s place outside of Vernon today, where we’ll stay for the next few days before heading to the resort in Kelowna for the wedding. The past two days have been pretty uneventful, and full of driving. We spent last night at a B&B outside of Cochrane, which had a gorgeous view and great hospitality. Lyle and I went for a bike ride before supper, which first I convinced myself I shouldn’t do, then I decided I might as well, so off we went. I went 10k in the hills surrounding our area, and I haven’t done any sort of hills for at least 3 years, since the last bike trip I did with good ol Lyle Myers, and even then, those hills were only MB hills. However, I handled this short trek really well, beating Uncle Lyle up most of the hills (he trains for triathlons) and still having energy to spare when I got back. Yay for the lower body strengthening I’ve been doing! I wasn’t even sore today.

After convincing the hosts to make us breakfast an hour and a half earlier then they normally do (Rance time), we were off in the morning by about 8:30. Driving through the mountains was gorgeous as usual, and I had a fantastic nap most of the way from Golden, after lunch, to Craigalachie where we stopped to stretch our legs and look around at the “last spike” site of the railroad. We got some ice cream and I had some fun in the photo op, which you’ll see below..

Over our borsht supper in Vernon we discussed the violence displayed in girls basketball, especially at the rural high school level. Brought back many memories of going flying across the key after taking a charge, stitches, bruises the size of small countries, broken noses, the dirty plays the refs never saw…or pretended not to, playing full games with no break but the few time outs, throwing elbows when the refs weren’t looking, letting your nails grow out before a play off game against Morris, beating Morris by 1 point numerous times, the adrenaline. Man I miss it. Especially the bruises. Nothing better then sitting around in the change room comparing bruises after a game. And all those times our little team from Carman beat out or came very close to higher ranked teams (Elton in 2010, and those AAA teams this year come to mind) with nothing but pure hard work and determination are memories never to be forgotten. Definitely going to have to find a rec team to play on sometime in the future. Team sports are nothing something I’m ready to be done with. It was nice talking about those days past around the dinner table.

Sunflower seeds

We’re on our way! The rest of the famjam arrived 15 minutes early, per the usual for any trip with grandpa along. We loaded up all our bags, included my supersized bag. Max the cat already tried to settle down in the van, hidden among the bags, but got bored and jumped out (thankfully) before we left. I scored the back seat in the van beside all the bags. Uncle Lyle’s and my bike are loaded on the back, much to my mother and grandparents worry, and the tales of cougars in the area we want to bike are spinning. After almost forgetting all my paperwork and passport, we were on our way!
It only took about an hour for the CBC radio to be turned on, and grandpa to break out his sunflower seeds. I passed the first few hours by reading “Open”, a autobiography by Andre Agassi. A talented athlete with a confusing and difficult life. I’m fascinated by this book, and have been able to relate to many points he makes about sport and life.
It still hasn’t hit me. That I’m moving so far away in a week. Right now it just feels great to be with my family driving across the country. Couldn’t imagine myself being anywhere else.
When we got to Moosejaw we checked into our hotel and then went to a tunnel tour, about illegal chinese immigrants in the early 1900s. After that we went out for Chinese food. Lyle and I went for a bike ride after supper, which was nice. Then I tried to do some strength stuff when we got back. I couldn’t get my focus enough to do anything.. It was frustration. My back was also more sore than it has been in a while.. Probably from how I was sitting in the van all day.. So I finished off with a bunch of stretches and packed it in.
Tomorrow we’re heading to Cochrane. Should be a fun day, again we’re running on “Rance” time.. So starting at 6am. Gotta love vacations.
More later!

50lbs

It only took me 5 days to get my bags packed and UNDER 50lbs. You don’t realize how much clothing you have until you have to pick what you’re going to take. And then you realize how much it weighs.

I debated for a while whether I should just wear a good majority of my clothes on the plane, to solve my packing issue. It wasn’t a very well thought out plan, but it would have cleared up a lot of frustration!

Now all I have left to pack is my computer stuff and books to read in the airports and plane. I also have a journal full of well wishes and wisdom from those who attended my farewell party. Can’t wait to read those!

Charlene and Mike even came up for awhile. It was great to see them, and see how excited they were for me. Mike was very adamant that I HAD to come back, and Charlene reminded me that I wasn’t allowed to get a boyfriend, or get married, and end up  staying there.

We leave tomorrow on a road trip. Moosejaw is our first stop. Myself, grandma and grandpa, uncle Lyle and mom plan on playing tourist there for a day and then heading to a B&B outside of Cochrane. After that we’ll be on our way to Vernon to Uncle Darryl’s place and then to the resort for Summer’s wedding.

I realize this is a rather dull post, but I thought I’d better start the travel section now or I’ll never get around to it.. I’ve gotta finish up my packing tonight as we’re hitting the road at 7am. I’ll post pictures and updates as we trek across western canada.. and when I land on the other side of the globe!