Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mr Sun!!

Really nice today :)  The sun came out and while the ring was still, er, squelchy, it was certainly good enough to walk through, so that is what we did!  Rodrigo, Katie, Martin, Alice and I took it in sets to walk all the horses smartly round the ring, working on bending, transitions, lengthening, shortening and halting.  I was on Puccini, Benito, Pastrocito and Herodes.  By the time we'd finished lunch the glorious sun had dried the ring quite well, so we hopped back on to take out the ones who'd walked in the morning for trot sets.  I was on Justinian, Uxmal and Herodes again for the afternoon. 

There's some new faces in the barn recently, and I think the guys are having a ball lying to me about what their names are.  I was pretty sure that the new guy was named Marco, but when I asked him for a hand with one of the horses today he responded to (what I thought was) his name with, "No es martes, es miercoles," which Walter thought was hysterical.  Confused, I asked him what his name was, and with a smile he told me it was Javier.  So I called him Javier and Walter laughed every time.  Turns out his name is Marco.  Apparently leading me wrong has become a game even more amusing than bleating my name at increasingly frequent intervals whenever I walk by.  But in the end I got the fly treatment applied to every horse without much fanfare, which, of course, was the goal.

It's Halloween at home but there's really no sign of it here, unless you count the paltry pumpkin stickers that decorated the door of the gas station we visited yesterday.  I do kinda miss the parties and I definitely miss raiding Davis' loot for Rockets and Reese's peanut butter cups, but I'm not gonna lie, I had no complaints about my sunny, 23 degrees Celsius Halloween here in Arg...

By the way, I purchased tickets to the Argentine Open this December, and I am so stoked to see some more of the polo down here!  My trip has been extended eight days so that my Dad can come down and join me to see some of the horses down here, and of course some of the polo!  I am beyond excited.  Sometimes it feels like I've been down here forever, and other times I can't believe how fast the time has whizzed by. 

I'm really excited that I think I've found a place for my horse when I get home.  I've learned so much here and I already feel like a different rider.  There's something to be said for riding upwards of five horses a day; you learn more than you ever could with just one or two.  I'm not ready to give up this hardwon knowledge, and talking with Katie and Alice had really helped me to become resolved in setting my goals for the future.  I know what I want to do, and I am going to make sure that I do it.  Sometimes I get in my own way with doubts and second guessing, but not anymore!  I miss Haajes a lot and often wish I could have him here.  I'm excited to go home and try applying some of what I have learned here with him.

Oh, and it's quite far off still so not a sure thing, but weather app predicts 34 degrees Celsius and sunny on Monday!! Good Lord!  I hope it happens so I can say it did! 

Having the Internet back is truly blissful :)

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Well, we're at the end of a looooong week.  It has been hot with a few early days and long afternoons thrown in, so it's seemed longer than average... today was an excellent day, however.  I had a really great lesson on Herodes to start the day off.  He's one of my favorite horses by far.  Today the focus was on letting the fence come to me with a soft hand instead of rushing to change the pace in front of the fence... the end result was me cantering to a vertical a little over a meter in height with one hand out in front of me!  I definitely didn't feel too secure at first, but it was amazing how much it illustrated that I rely too much on my hand.  Herodes was great.

After Herodes I got to hack Justinian, who I have waxed poetic about as being one of my favorite horses here.  He's not very big and reminds me a little of a polo horse, compact and powerful.  He's really fun to hack because doing things right gets you the right reaction, and yet he's patient when you do things wrong.

I had a second jump lesson on Mauro; this one ended up being trotting down to a tight bounce of verticals set at about a meter by the end; shoulders back!  When I managed to keep myself light and back and waiting, the feeling of Mauro rocking back on his haunches and clearing the second fence was amazing.  Getting myself into that back, patient position also made transitions after the bounce extremely easy; I could have him walking within a couple of strides, whereas before I always struggled to get transitions done before the end of the ring came up.

After hacking Nixon I had another jump lesson on Pastrocito.  This time we did a little course; a six stride diagonal line with a reverse roll back to a seven stride outside line, another reverse roll back to a five stride diagonal line and another reverse roll back to a vertical.  It was definitely a case of turning a hunter course into quite the jumper question!  Initially my roll backs were dreadful, but once I tried employing a bit more foresight and balance into the equation it got quite nice.  It was fun to see Katie on Nacar, the little three year old stallion, galloping around the course in stride, as it was one of the longest courses he has done yet.  He was excellent.

In the afternoon some clients from the States came, which is something I've been looking forward to since I got here.  Martin got a lesson on Luli from an American grand prix rider, and then they watched as Martin presented Benito and Vitruoso, who both looked great.  It was pretty rad to meet some more English speakers!

Anyway, I'm thoroughly exhausted and dirty and more than ready for a good long sleep and my day off tomorrow...

Friday, October 26, 2012

I'm getting bad about these three day recaps...

Heyo.  So once again I managed to leave this whole blog post-ery til the last minuto.  I'm gonna do a quick run through of the week:  On Wednesday Twilight and Silene sold and we dropped them off at the Hipico to move into their new lives... so weird not to see their familiar names on the riding board... I rode them both my first day here, which is now over seven weeks ago.  Seven weeks ago! How come I'm still bobbling around like a fool on horseback?  I'm not sure... I was telling Katie that I'm really hoping part of it is my newfound awareness for how useless I am, and not an actual lack of improvement!  But on the lack of improvement note,  I also bit the dust on Wednesday afternoon... well, bit the hard-packed damp ring!  Not fun, not fun... something to be avoided in future, methinks.

Yesterday Martin and Alice went to the San Diego show grounds with Geologo, Benito, Puccini and Justinian in tow for a show, so I had nine horses to work my way through.  Highlights of the day:  Herodes and Nacar, who were both really well behaved and yet encouraged me to work on some things.  I love the feeling of focus I get when I recognize and hone in on an issue, like sluggish transitions or stiffness in one direction.  And when the problem improves it's incredibly rewarding.  In the afternoon I had a flat lesson on Vitruoso, the fancy chestnut stallion.  Watching Martin ride this horse is something else; he just exudes presence and he and Martin are a perfect match.  I'm not sure I quite lived up to that standard, but I got to feel the sensation of his smokin' medium trot and back to a short, lively, bouncy trot and forward again into that medium trot... and then a repetition of that exercise at the canter.  He was fantastic.  A friend of Rachel's also arrived yesterday from the States, so it's a full house here.  I love having visitors and I love meeting people.  I guess I'm somewhat dog-like in that way.

This morning I was on Rodrigo duty (as it is affectionately called) so I spent most of the morning lunging the babies, which gave me a great vantage point to watch all the horses being ridden. I must say, they all looked fantastic today.  The babies jumped around some cavalletti with Rodrigo and Martin and they all looked pretty darn capable.  Afterwards I had a lesson on Herodes, working on my turns after fences mainly, balancing and pushing into the corners so that I don't need to run out of the corner to get the pace.  It was a blast and Herodes was fantastic.  If I was told I could never ride again but could keep one horse as a pet, I would want Herodes.  He's so much fun to groom.  He's literally in ecstasy when you curry him.

After Herodes I had another jumping lesson on Pastrocito.  I definitely struggled a bit at the begining, but had a nice successful last run through which made me feel good.  All the horses were done before lunch so this afternoon we did the usual tack cleaning, barn sweeping, horse brushing, med administering duties.  I am thoroughly knackered I must say!  It's been a long week of early mornings and bright sunshine (NOT that I am complaining, in fact I am loving it, and cultivating quite a beauty of a farmer's tan!)

I am really excited that my trip will be extended by a week... my Dad and possibly my Mom are coming down for a week to explore Argentina with me :)  Can't wait until they get an eyeful of Vitruoso, Luli, Justinian and the other gorgeous horses here, not to mention all the amazing sights I've seen :)  My mood definitely fluctuates here and I definitely have doubts sometimes about my capabilities, but I'm determined to improve as much as I can and drink in as much as this opportunity gives me.  I already feel sad to think about leaving everyone here... even Carlos, who has gotten into a most annoying habit of bleating my name everytime I walk by...

Well, it's nearly eight so I best be off to bed!! Adios

Monday, October 22, 2012

Guess what happened today?

If you guessed that it rained (all day) then you are correct, sir!  It was still an interesting day though; we trailered Twilight, Vitruoso, Benito, Puccini and Justinian to the covered ring at San Martin so that Martin could school them.  While there, the heavens decided to open and bless us with at least a centimeter's worth of the wet stuff.  Bully.  The horses worked well, however (perhaps with a slight 'Oh Lord let's get this over with' mentality) and we were back at Rancho Pampa before lunch (ravioli and meat sauce, for the curious.)  In the afternoon we shampooed some manes and tails and then it was back to painting duty.  I feel like I am starting to develop some real skill in the painting arena.

Whilst rolling paint onto bars, I listened intently to a selection of nerdish podcasts, specifically a Mugglenet Academia lecture on psychology and an incredibly long-winded analysis of possible portrayals of specific events in the upcoming The Hobbit film.  The depth of knowledge of these presenters is quite impressive at times, I must say.  If I were Peter Jackson I'd feel more than a little apprehensive at the idea that people are so keen to micro-analyse and obsessively predict every choice he makes in his rendering of the book.

I don't want to be overly optimistic, but I am cautiously hopeful that it may have rained itself out for the rest of the week.  The ring will take some time to recover, so another trip to San Martin is probably in the cards tomorrow so that the horses with a show this week can be worked.  Other than that, fingers crossed...

Would it be completely crass to say that after all this rain, I'm actually slightly missing snow??

By the way, missing Ultimate as well right now-- winter season apparently started last night, which is crazy to think on.  Go Team Top Gun :)  Let's continue what we had rolling at the beginning of summer season!  *(When I say let's, I guess I mean 'you should'... :( )

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Rain puts a damper on things

I'm getting quite thoroughly irritated with this damn rain.  It might not be quite so annoying if my weather app seemed to have a hot clue about what was going on, but nine times out of ten I'm led astray by its stupid predictions. 

Anyway, it's Mother's Day here in Arg today, so Martin was headed into town to spend some time with his momma, and Katie, Alice, and I hitched a ride to Puerto Madera to wander around a cool artisan market and take in some of the sights of the swankier part of town.  It was really neat and the walk along the water was pleasant and sunny-- and some of the architecture is breathtaking.  It's a much more touristy neighbourhood than our area, so we heard snippets of English and German being spoken here and there, which was cool. 

After we'd wandered past some boats (ships) [some built as long ago as 1874!] we headed towards Avenida Santa Fe to eventually make our way back to the bus stop at Plaza Italia.  Well, it started to rain... and then it started to RAIN.  A chivalrous type let us huddle under his sweater for a while at the bus stop, but once we got to Paso del Rey we were on our own, slipping and sliding through the muddy deluge back to Rancho Pampa.  Just looking at the ring is making me sad right now... rain, please go away!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Why fix mistakes when you can just never make them instead?

So, an interesting week to recap!  Unfortunately, most of the past week was taken up by rain.  The earlier days have melded together into a blur of taking horses to and off the hot walker, wiping down tack, and of course painting.  The nice thing about painting is that it gets me caught up on listening to my favorite podcasts; the less nice thing is that it thoroughly coats me in a particularly stubborn type of oil based paint, which I seem completely incapable of removing!  Anyway, by Thursday the rain seemed to have abated, and the Friday forecast was for sun so we were all cautiously hopeful that we'd be back in the saddle.  Martin set a 6 AM start time for Friday, in hopes that we could finish up the riding by noon and head off to a breeding farm to look at some young horses in the afternoon.

Well, Alice, Katie and I rose at 5:00 AM to get ready to ride and were greeted by a thunderstorm.  Nonetheless, we prepared the first horses (Boss, Nacar and Skyline) and by the time they were finished walking, the thunderstorm had abated to a mere rainshower.  We trooped around and got on the next set to hack them through the rain as well.  By this time Rodrigo had shown up, so Katie was relegated to young-horse duty.  I rode Cor Lit and Alice rode Jour before we switched to the Series horses.  I was on Justinian next, followed by Puccini, and then I got a lesson on Nixon.  Martin said something very interesting while zeroing in on my tendency to miss my posting diagonal to the right and automatically sit to fix it:  "Why are you fixing this mistake every time, when you could work so that the mistake would never be made?"  He added that when you trot into the ring at a show or event, you are automatically being judged on your riding, and not just by the set judge, but by spectators and potential clients.  Polishing the little details can get you a better ride and maybe more business.

After we were finished the last few horses, we cleaned up the tack and had lunch and then Martin offered to drive us into town to visit a big city mall.  We heartily agreed and soon we were headed to the Unicenter Mall in Buenos Aires.  It dwarves any of the malls in Winnipeg, that's for sure, and has enough designer stores to make any pocketbook cringe: North Face, Columbia, Kensington, Tiffany, L. L. Bean, Levi's, Bowen, Adidas... and the list goes on.  It was a blast puttering around, though, and I ended up buying a book from the enticingly named "English books for everyone" store.  At about 8:00 we meant Martin at a restaurant in the mall for a celebratory dinner:  Alice just finalized her purchase of Skyline!  The Argentine saddle horse is about to become an American citizen and eventer.  It was a really nice dinner, and Martin told us a bit about his time as a working student for Karen and David O'Connor, who are just about the biggest names in American eventing, I'd say.

This morning we started at the usual time (7:30) and got all the horses done despite looming clouds and constant drizzle.  I helped out Rodrigo for the morning but had a chance to hop on Holendesa and Herodes later.  Holendesa is a really cool horse and right now is the perfect level of challenge for me.  I had a fantastic lesson on her a few weeks ago and was working today to try and reproduce what I'd felt then; initially I couldn't get it at all!  I realised later in the day what I was doing wrong, after Katie mentioned something that had been going on in one of her rides:  I kept trying something, not getting the result I wanted, and switching instantly to a different method of asking.  All this seems to produce is a confused and resistant horse.  I need to work on chosing my method and sticking with it.  There may be many methods that will achieve a certain end, but shuffling through all possible methods isn't going to result in a concrete response from the horse.  If I chose a certain way of doing something, I'd sure as hell better stick with it!  The end of my ride with Holendesa was a lot better, and I hope to be able to improve upon it further in the future. 

Herodes was great, despite the fact that the sun had now come out in full force and you could feel the water evaporating from the surface of the ring, like trotting around in a giant sauna.  After the rides were done we finished up barn chores and now here I sit, kind of wishing I was at home and missing my friends.  It's hard to believe that it's fall at home and that winter will be coming soon... I feel like I'm missing out on so much, even though I'm sure that if I was at home I'd be feeling as blase and bored with everything as I did before!  Still, though, I have to admit... being away from my friends and family makes me realise just how much I love them.  I'm having a great time learning and riding and exploring here, and I love meeting new people and new horses, but I will always miss home!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Riding, polo games, adventures in the city and an auction!

Now to catch up on the past few busy days!
Saturday - I helped out Rodrigo in the morning and had a quick ride on Jour.  It was a beautiful sunny day and I watched the other girls and one of Martin's clients ride around the new course in the ring.  Since the Series horses had been schooled over fences the day before, they had the day off, so the morning finished up quickly.  Brian offered to drive us into town, so Katie and I grabbed the chance to walk down the riverside in Buenos Aires.  Rio de la Plata is the largest river in the world apparently, and at some points is 21 miles wide!  It was like walking along the ocean, breeze and all!  Katie said parts of it reminded her of her home coastline in Charleston, South Carolina.  Once we reached the airport we got on to Avenida Sanmiento and walked all the way down to Plaza Italia, through a BUSTLING crowd.  I have never seen such a crowd in a city.  People were playing soccer, running, roller blading, playing street hockey, skate boarding-- in every nook and cranny!  It was incredibly lively and invigorating. 

Once we reached Plaza Italia we snagged some ice cream and wandered round the shops for a bit before catching the "good ol'" 57 and making our way back to Moreno.    Bus success!  (Although it was due mostly to the kindness of strangers who let us use their Sube card... one of these days we'll get it right...)

This was a red letter day for me.  I watched a 24 goal polo match at the beautiful Argentine polo field in Palermo.  Rodrigo, Katie, Alice, Javier and I all trooped on down and first watched a match, La Dolfina vs. Ellerstina-- and on Ellerstina?  Gonzales and Facuno Pieres... two ten goal players!  I think my jaw was dropped the entire time, and apparently this is nothing for the area.  My fingers are crossed that I will get a chance to watch some of the qualifiers for the Argentine Open that is coming up. Both games that we watched were incredibly close, neck and neck right down to the last chukker. 

After the polo matches we headed up to La Tigre, a destination that Rodrigo chose that was kind of a touristy market with shops and a casino and amusement park.  It was absolutely packed, and like the park the day before, super vibrant and a fantastic spot to people watch.   We ate some pizza and wandered around joking and teasing each other for a while, taking in the sights.  It really was "que linda dia!"

Ah, today.  Early start!  Up at 4:45 to start riding at 6:00 AM.  Since the forecast is for rain (goody) we needed to give all the Series horses a good workout.  We were derailed once slightly by Nixon lipping open the walker door and giving every horse in the carousel an opportunity to escape and cavort about the property for a while.  Once they were all rounded up we continued with the plan so that we could head to the Haras Windcrest auction in the afternoon.  It was my first auction and very cool to see.  The highest selling horse went for about 62,000 USD!  It's also catered, which was a cool treat.  Have I mentioned that for some reason the coffee here is extremely good?  As in, I actually quite enjoy the taste of a small black coffee.  More than I can say for Starbucks! (Though I do enjoy the hipster atmosphere.)

Anyway, I'm zonked now so off to bed... the rain is coming down...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Two Days Adrift

So the Wifi here at the Ranch is still down, and i gotta say, I’m feeling mighty adrift!  Starting to realise just how attached I am to, well, being connected.  And Reddit, of course.  But the past couple of days have also been pretty busy, so that’s kept me interested!  Yesterday the ring more closely resembled a shallow lake, so riding was a no-go.  We rotated the youngsters (and oldsters) on the walker, groomed them all, and cleaned up the barn.  By 12:30 everything was done and we joined Martin, Rachel and a good friend and client of theirs upstairs for a great lunch.  In fact, the lunch just about sated the hankering for a Thanksgiving dinner I’d been experiencing, and I have to admit that I liked the chicken we had even more than I like turkey!  The only thing missing was my family, of course.  Missing them tons. 

It was really fun to swap horsey tales with everyone.  It truly is a really small world—the world in general, certainly, but the horse world in particular!  I feel really lucky that I’ve gotten the chance in my life to enjoy and pursue this incredible, all-consuming passion.  Horses have led me to friendships in my life that I never would have experienced otherwise; they’ve opened up avenues of travel that I might never have considered; and they give me something to dream about every night before I go to sleep.  Meeting other people that feel the same way?  It’s pretty damn exciting.  And I guess the greatest part of this is that it’s not only limited to the horse world.  In any shared passion, shared pursuit, you can find likeminded people that really understand what it is you’re so fussed up about, be it sport or academics or music or anything else.  There’s nothing better than conversation with people who are passionate about the same thing. J

After lunch we watched the video replays of the Olympic show jumping final.  Martin also assigned us some take-home reading for the week!  I’m now reading Centred Riding by Sally Swift, which I had heard of but never had the opportunity to read.  I had a chance to try applying some of her imagery and tips this morning; we walked the horses (forward) on a stretchy rein for twenty minutes in the ring to get them out and help air out the wet footing.  The walking gave me a chance to really focus on my position and how exactly I move with the horse, and to try some of the exercises the book recommends on how you use your eyes when riding.  I was on Benito, Geologo, Cor Lit, Herodes and Boss.  After lunch we cleaned tack, groomed and cleaned up the horses and finished up the chores before making a quick dash to Petrobras before dark so that we could snag some Wifi.  This may become a bit of a tradition for the next while, and I’m not complaining because I had some killer orange juice while I was there!  Sayonara folks.

Sunday, October 7

Well, today was what I’d like to call a success!!  It was raining when I woke up and I felt strangely restless.  Martin and Rachel were headed to the Hipico with Twilight and Silene so they could be tried by the clients again.  Katie and I decided to try and make it into town, while Alice (wisely) opted to stay out of the rain.  Katie and I walked down to the bus stop by the Petrobras and tried to work out which bus might take us to Plaza Italia in downtown Buenos Aires... we ended up waiting, and watching, and guessing, for about two hours, and then finally decided to just hop on one that said “Palermo”, because after consulting Katie’s map it was discovered that Palermo lay along the same major route as the Plaza Italia.  From Palermo, perhaps we could take the subway down to the main square.

Of course, we didn’t know the amount of fare needed, and we also did not have transit card (“Sube” cards) which are, of course, required.  A nice guy on the bus used his Sube to buy our tickets and we paid him back with our handfuls of carefully scavenged peso coins.  Everyone was looking at us curiously as we attempted to make our wishes clear with some butchered Spanish.  We still weren’t entirely sure where the bus was headed... by pure chance we decided to can it and get off just as the bus driver called “Plaza Italia”.  We’d completely lucked out and ended up where we wanted to be!  Whew, is all I can say... our first mission was to try and buy ourselves Sube cards, but alas, we were foiled yet again.  The ticket centers that sell them (apparently the only place to get them in the city) are closed on Sundays.  Instead we shopped a little bit, stopped at a bakery to pick up some pastries, and then took advantage of Wifi and French fries at a McDonald’s kiosk.  Since we were a little wary about our ability to make it back to Moreno, we decided to try and tackle that early so we wouldn’t be left blundering around in the dark in Paso del Rey!  Approaching a few bus drivers and making sense out of their replies and hand gestures, we managed to find the stop that the bus to Moreno came to.  This driver patiently accepted our coins.  And we managed to make it back to the Gnecco stop in Moreno and walk back to the Ranch!  I was quite giddy with accomplishment.  Now that we know how it’s done, plans for next Sunday can be more fully fleshed out!  I can’t wait to explore more of the city.

The Wifi is down tonight due to a power outage earlier.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Awesome day at the CHA

So I woke up this morning and discovered that overnight we'd experienced quite the downpour... disappointment central.  But the day still proved to be really fun and interesting!  We took Vitruoso, Silene, Twilight and Cor Lit to the Hippico (Center Hippico de Argentina) to be tried by a client looking for a dressage horse.  As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I absolutely love the Hippico.  It's completely gorgeous and exactly how'd I envision my ideal sort of barn: all ivy and groomed grass and tidy stable blocks, and then a huge airy indoor filled with gorgeous horses cantering this way and that.  So I was pretty excited to be getting the chance to go back there.

On the way there though I got some even more exciting news: Martin dropped me off at an intersection with directions on how to get to the boot shop!  I ordered my custom boots today :)  Hopefully the Spanglish in which I communicated will serve me well and I'll end up with what I'm picturing.  I order chocolate brown boots with a narrow black patent leather Spanish top, square toe and, yes, a zipper up the back :)  After finishing up the order and picking up a dressage whip that Martin needed, I headed back out into the city for the walk back to the Hippico.  I walked down this absolutely stunning boulevard on the way back, all leafy trees and this neat houses with granite and marble steps leading up to narrow wooden doors stained beautiful colors, with brass doorknobs in the exact center of each one, like a hobbit hole!  The garages were extremely narrow and attractive wooden gates that tended to match each front door.  There were no yards but the houses were a few floors high, and flowers and vegetation were everywhere.  All the houses were different but beautiful, and the materials were unbelievable... chalky red brick, swirly marble steps, stone friezes on the front step... in the middle of one of the roundabouts was a small garden with cobblestone paths, an infinity pool and a children's playground, just completely picturesque.

Once I got back to the Hippico Katie and Martin were just finishing up preparing the horses to be shown, so I quickly helped to groom up the last couple and then we headed for lunch while waiting for the clients to arrive.  I got to see a bit more the Hippico, and it didn't fail to impress me: lush green grass ring, ivy covered buildings and flowering trees.  Lunch was really fun and relaxed and we heard some tales from Martin's days as a working student for David O'Connor in Virginia.

After lunch we headed back to get the first horse ready, and then the afternoon went along smoothly.  Cor Lit was tried first, followed by Twilight and Silene.  All of the horses were fantastic and I have to admit I felt somewhat tearily proud watching them strut their stuff in the Hippico indoor.  Man, there are some nice horses there-- and some nice tall boots, too, I've noticed, now that my eyes have been opened to such things!  The clients seemed to really like the horses so they may be heading back out for another try tomorrow!  It's our day off so I'm hoping to make it into town for some more exploring.

Center of a roundabout en route from Walton's Boots to the Hippico

Friday, October 5, 2012

A "Ten-Horse" Day :)

So today was a busy day -- and a scorcher, too!  Muy humido.  In the morning I hopped on Vitruoso for a quick hack while Martin coached Rodrigo over the young horses' first few jumps.  I was amazed at how bold and clever Quantum and Invasor were.  They jumped a little oxer with absolutely no fanfare, just good form and a calm canter away. 

After Vitruoso I got to ride Justinian, who is definitely one of my favorites.  I like riding all the horses, but I definitely have a few favorites, like chocolate chips in a cookie.  The whole cookie is good but hitting a chocolate chip is a special treat!  Justinian was really good and we did lots of canter work and bending.  Next up was Mauro, who felt really good.  I'm starting to get more used to his way of going.  After Mauro I rode Nixon and Puccini and then Luli to finish up the Series horses.  By this point Alice and Martin had taken Benito into town for the last round of the Breeder's Cup style class.  After Luli it was Pastrocito and then Jour followed by Herodes right before lunch.  At this point Katie had finished up helping Rodrigo with the youngsters, so she got on Rodrigo's horse Georgia and then on Holendesa to ride with me.

After lunch Martin and Alice came home.  Benito jumped clear around the 1.20m again! :)  We still had a lot of horses to go, so it was onto Boss for a jumping school.  Boss was initially kind of tense, because a horse was playing up on the lunge line in the ring, so we had a few explosive spooks in a row before Martin told me to send him cantering.  It's a tactic that reminds me a lot of Canelo and it works like a charm... the first few canter circles he still wants to shy away, but once you get motoring a bit his attention turns to, "Hey, I'm getting kinda tired now... sort of want to stop... can't stop?  All right..." and the desire to play up kinda fades away!  One thing I need to work on is how to achieve this without riding really aggressively and getting tense through my shoulders and arms.  Afterwards I took Boss through the five stride line, and then Martin got on him and schooled him around.  I really like this horse and am keen to start working with him on the flat a bit.  Fingers crossed that the rain stays away... though sadly that doesn't seem likely.

Once a sweaty Boss had been thoroughly walked out, I got on Vitruoso for a quick walk around before Martin lightly hacked him in his second ride of the day.  After that all that was left to do was lunge Cor Lit, who will be shown to a client tomorrow along with Silene and Twilight.  All three are going very nicely, and I'm hoping the weather cooperates so that the showing can take place! 

After work Katie, Alice and I walked down to the store.  It's a short, neat trek through the neighborhood.  There's a real mixed bag of properties around here, from neatly groomed, hacienda-style houses with tidy green yards and Spanish tiling to really dilapilated shacks built from scraps of just about anything.  The main strip comprising the shops always seems really active, with cars and pedestrians and horse-drawn carts passing back and forth, generally tailed by one or two feral dogs.  I picked up some yogurt and Copos de Maiz for a breakfast bonanza tomorrow!

Definitely missing my friends back home a bit, and thinking longingly of Thanksgiving dinner with the fam... though I gotta say this 20+ degree weather is plenty nice...

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Day at the CAE

We could ride today! This morning I hopped on Silene for a quick ride before getting Benito braided and all the tack ready to go to the C.A.E (the "Allemande") show grounds.  He was competing in the 1.20m style class, which is a judged jumper round that focuses on how a  horse goes, how he's presented, and how he jumps.  The horses competing in the class were truly gorgeous, and Benito jumped around like a champ both rounds, going double clear.  The third round is tomorrow and will determine which horses make it into the finals in December.

I still can't get over how beautiful the showgrounds are here.  The trees lining the ring at the CAE are all gnarled and many-boughed and twisty, like something off the cover of a fantasy DVD.  Or, like, Pan's Labyrinth or something.  That sort of tree.  I felt quite glaringly inadequate in my dusty boots and sweater next to all the spit-and-polished men in their breeches and shiny tall boots.  Which reminds me... I should really look into buying some boots while I'm down here.  I've seen some absolutely gorgeous tall boots on people and apparently they're quite a steal!

Anyway, the hot spring sun should have baked out the ring nice and thoroughly, so it looks like tomorrow I'll be back in the saddle!  Excited :)  And can I say that seeing all the "it's snowing" posts in Winnipeg is making me mightly appreciative of this Argentine sunshine ;)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Slip inside the eye of your mind

Another rainy day!  We spent the morning tacking up some of the horses and rotating them through the walker in half hour segments, then grooming them as they came off.  Cleaned the tack, had some lunch, and got back into painting the stalls.  I've definitely improved in painting accuracy since yesterday.  My hands were significantly less black today despite having painted a greater number of doors!  Carlos helped me out and then Oscar and Martin joined in as well.  We finished five stalls and they are looking mighty fly.  After painting, Martin drove Katie, Alice and myself into town to the feed and seed, where we picked up some alpargatas-- and of course, some ice cream.  Flavor of the week?  "Lemon Pie" and granizado.  Some of the food here is pretty baffling but the ice cream is positively heavenly, I must say.  I won't argue with making the trek up to the ice cream shop a weekly deal!

I'm really hoping that the ring has dried out enough to ride tomorrow!  We shall see.  We're going to be hosting a schooling show on Sunday, which should be really cool!  Our fancy new jumps  are gonna get their turn in the spotlight!  By the way, here's a jump designed and painted by Katie that coincidentally is exactly like the Hudson's Bay Logo:

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Postcard from Pasadena

I had a bit of wishful thinking this morning and pulled on my breeches, even though I could see and hear the rain coming down outside my window.  Unfortunately riding was not in the cards today, so we spent the morning grooming the horses and rotating them around the walker.  Martin cooked us lunch and then afterwards I got down and dirty with painting some of the stall bars.  Gave me a lot of time for thinkin'!

I was thinking today how cool it is to get the chance to experience riding lots of different types of horses.  Someone told me once that before I buy a horse, I should know for sure exactly what type of horse suits me best.  Although I've ridden quite a few horses in my life, the vast majority have been smaller, relatively sensitive but even-keeled Thoroughbreds.  So my preference tends to run towards horses that are in that same sort of mold: I like horses very light off the leg and sensitive to the hand.  The cool thing about riding horses down here is I'm getting to experience riding tons of different types, and not just riding but jumping them.  While it's definitely a challenge for me sometimes, it makes me happy to think that every type I ride is adding to my toolbox that I can refer to when riding horses in the future.  Because just like people, there's a finite number of types, with small twists and duifferences in each.  The more tools I have, the better I will be able to ride different horses that I come across in my life.

On an un-horse-related topic, I got JK Rowling's new book (in eBook form, of course) last week and I'm quite enjoying it!  I'm loving my morning ritual of feeding hay and reading JK whilst munching on cornflakes.  Have I mentioned that the cornflakes here are absolutely delicious?  I don't know why, but they put Kellogg's to shame.  I think it's in the more potent crunch factor.

Monday, October 1, 2012

No matter where you go... there you are

It was my turn to help Rodrigo with the babies today.  I was lunging Lady D in a corner of the ring when a ray of sun hit me just so, and something about it reminded me vividly of a day last summer when I was working at the Health Sciences Center, and Eric, Ian and I walked down to the $1-a-slice pizza place at lunch.  That's it.  Not in any way a significant memory, but it made me reflect on how much has changed since then.  Every now and then I have to stop and realize that I'm in Buenos Aires, thousands of miles away from where I grew up.  Who would have thought that I'd end up riding horses like Herodes and Boss, born and bred here, when I was born and bred a continent apart!  It feels crazy and surreal at times.  I'm pretty damn lucky!

Today wasn't too crazy, but since the forecast is calling for rain tomorrow (drat), the horses had to be given a good workout.  While I helped Rodrigo in the morning, Alice, Katie and Martin rode the horses and then gave them a good lunging.  Once I'd finished with Rodrigo I hopped on Puccini and Cor Lit and did the same, and repeated the scenario with Boss after lunch.  It's getting hotter here and sadly I can see that one hell of a farmer's tan is in the works...  and I avoided it so well at home!