Friday, December 14, 2012

The End of the Adventure...

So I’m en route to Chicago from Houston now, after an overnight flight from EZE in Capital. I don’t even know how to properly sum up the last three and a half months. It’s been a wild ride and I feel like a different person. My last week in Argentina was fantastic. It was so awesome to have my Dad come down. I’m sure he was a little tired of hearing me speak about the horses at Rancho Pampa (ad nauseum) but he was a good sport! We explored the city, watched the amazing final game of the Argentine Open, went to the Henry Jota auction, and had a really nice last dinner with Rachel and Martin on Monday evening. The polo final was a great sight—some epic playing para suerte. I don’t think the atmosphere can quite be matched anywhere in the world. On Saturday night, Katie and Rodrigo joined us at the hotel for dinner and a last hurrah. The next day we went to the antiques market at San Telmo and spent some time wandering the streets and rehashing tales from Rancho Pampa (but of course.) I will miss Katie and Rodrigo more than I can say, and Camilla too. It’s been a hectic three months but I truly felt like I made some lifelong friends, and I hope they feel the same way. If you’re reading this, Katie, just know how much I appreciated your friendship and how much I admire you as a rider! And that goes for Rodrigo too. I’m having a hard time coming to grips with the fact that I’ll soon be in snowy Winnipeg. I know that my fat, hairy Thoroughbred is eagerly awaiting getting whipped into shape... ahah. It’s funny. I thought that this trip would sate my desire to travel and my thirst for learning more about foreign countries and especially about riding—but it hasn’t. If anything, it’s intensified it! Not that everything was perfect. There were times I missed home so badly it was like an ache! But I wouldn’t give it up, that’s for sure. I hope that everything I learned stays with me—about riding, about horses, about culture, about Spanish, and about people and interacting with them. So while I’m determined to start my graduate program at the U of M in a few weeks, I’m also keeping my ears pricked for further opportunities to meld riding and travel. And my heart open to other possible academic paths for my future. It won’t be long before I will see my excellent friends again, and I sense a lot of skiing, Christmas baking and movie watching in my near future :) No complaints there! But I hope Katie and Camilla and Rodrigo don’t expect me to drop off the map, because I plan to pester them with questions and stories on a regular basis! And on top of everything else, I also have something to feel pretty darn excited and hopeful about... but more on that later, when it’s (hopefully!) a little more tangible!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Last day at Rancho Pampa...

Wednesday was my last day as a working student at Rancho Pampa. It seems surreal. I can't seem to keep the last three months straight in my head... it's all a blur of riding and grooming and feeling flashes of joy, confusion, apprehension, happiness, hilarity, focus, discouragement, fear... I would not give it up for anything. I've been a hotel with my Dad for the past two days enjoying a sight seeing vacation before heading home... and all I can think about is, I wonder if the ring has dried up enough to ride yet? I wonder how the horses are going? I wonder if the clients called back about Herodes, or if the new clients liked Vitruoso and Cor Lit? I can't seem to extricate myself from feeling like part of the "team" just yet!
But anyway... my last day. Amazingly, my praying that the rain would hold off for my Dad's arrival... came true! On Wednesday I started off the day riding Altanero, a big, rangy gelding that has apparently jumped Grand Prixs-- what a sensation! Huge strided and tons of power, it was a lot of fun. Next up was Skyline for a hack-- he's heading out soon to his new home in the US of A with Alice! After that I rode my little favorite Justinian in a short lesson with Katie & Picaro. I might have teared up a little bit as I hosed him down after. Then I rode Holendesa in a lesson, working on striding between poles-- I have to say, I remember an identical lesson just when I'd arrived at the farm-- not nearly as successful, not by a long shot! I enjoyed feeling my labours over the past few months come to fruition. Eight, nine, ten, eleven in a line-- what a mare she is!
After that it was a rush to tack up some, get organized, and cram all my belongings into suitcases in a semblance of "packing." My Dad arrived -- I gave him the Grand Tour and we all settled down to an asado. Then I got to ride for him :) I felt so nervous-- really wanted to show my Dad that these three months had a payoff and a visible return! I jumped Justinian over a little line at around 3'6 and the horse was as perfect as you could ask for. Honestly, it was a beautiful day and I don't like to think about the fact that I may never ride some of the horses again (and in fact most likely won't.)
While I miss everyone at home, I do feel like I'm in for some reverse culture shock. I've gotten so used to my routine here and I think I've been well suited here. Not that it was all sunshine and daisies, and many days I was cranky and tired (as Katie can surely attest!) But nonetheless I felt, generally, pretty content. Working towards something. I will miss it!
Oh, and my elbow is broken. After an altercation with a stallion last weekend I ended up with a really sore elbow and, after trying to ride Monday afternoon and again Tuesday morning with some painful consequences, I decided to pony up and visit the doctor to make sure I wasn't doing any real damage. the first doctor said it was broken, the second said it wasn't, so I figured I'd do no more harm by riding. My Dad looked at the x-ray himself and says there is an evulsion fracture there... so perhaps I'll splint it when I get back to Canada. Right now I'm a bit more excited about the Henry Jota auction tonight and the Argentine Open final tomorrow!!!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

December 3: Ups & Downs

So the rain returned on Friday... which meant a morning of taking the horses on and off the walker, and whats more than that, doing a complete barn overhaul trimming noses and ears. When it comes to trimming ears with a sheep shearer, lets just say some horses are happier customers than others! But the Ace Team of Rodrigo and Katie got even the most reluctant of the bunch all spiffed up. The power crapped out around 10 for a few hours (grr) so walker activities were halted until it came back on...
Saturday dawned bright and early with a photo shoot: 20 horses to snap for the auction catalog. Wheedling and pleading tactics were employed to get some of their ears pricked! Once this was successfully done we started rotating horses on the walker. Unfortunately for me, on the last rotation I was leading one of the young studs and got myself entangled on his advance to a nearby mare. Anyway, long and short of it is, I apparently broke my elbow... didnt find that out til Wednesday though! The rest of the day I spent uselessly wiping tack and grooming while Camilla and Katie powered through riding 7.
That night Rodrigo had invited us to his family's house for an asado. My arm was quite sore but Katie wrapped it for me and away we went. Not only was the food delicious, but Rodrigo's family is so nice. They gave me some ice to rest my elbow in and we had a great conversation about Argentina, Canada and the US (in Castellano! Getting there!) Afterwards we went out with Rodrigos cousin for some dancing... maybe not advisable with my arm, but memorable and fun para suerte!