Saturday, June 16, 2012

Feb feb feb..

February absolutely flew by! So this will be a more photo based post then text based. After the whirlwind that was the Masters, I once again got back into the daily routine. If anyone is interested this is how a 'normal day' in Florida went - 4am Muckers came and did our stables, it generally took them till we started at 630 as they put in new shavings etc etc. I won't lie, living on the property is great but at the start, when I first moved there my day started at 4am as I would be woken up by the sound of wheelbarrows passing my apartment!! So I start at 630, along with Pam and the other girls. We get morning hay and feeds organised, Pam rides her horses , we start the days turn outs and get our schedule for the day off Pam. telling us what time we are riding, who we are riding, when Pam is coming/going and when clients are coming. this schedule literally brings us up to when I finish work, at 430pm. Training wise I was being ripped apart - daily!! Pam totally reinvented my position and adaptability( is that even a word?!) to getting on and - riding the horse you have today. Not the one that went well for you yesterday, or the one that spooked left, right and centre on you but to ride in the present, and that is always a challenge for me. But it was the best thing I could have asked for, I had become rusty after training with her before and because I mainly ride cold blooded horses and ponies at home I had to adjust my seat, leg hand aids to these hot and spicy warmbloods, and I will forever keep this 'mantra' that Pam has taught me. Aids need to be of a whisper pressure and if not thump/whack/smack/curse and be done with it make them 'hot to your leg' as she says!

Maaaaaaa-rian, myself and Goodwin getting ready for a lesson

In other news February was the month that myself and the sheep first experience RAIN!!!!!! A MAJOR reason for our emigration and it was FOLLOWING US!!! Alas, it only lasted a few days but because we only had two outdoor rings, riding was slow and it took awhile for the arenas to drain,thankfully nothing that I wasn't used to!! The only weird thing about it raining was I didn't have to ride in it! Normally at home you are counting your lucky stars its dry when you ride!

The aisle became a death wish to walk on!!

Every few weeks new clients would come to the barn, either to train for a period of time or to just trailer in for daily lessons. However February brought us to wonderful ladies, who spent about 6 weeks training with Pam - Roxanne Jewel and Yvonne Ocrant.. Roxanne, from Texas, is a small animal vet, owner of Amalon (a grand prix) and Goodwin ( advanced medium)  and the best dogs ever Annie and Katie. Yvonne, from Chicago is a three day enter and owner of Sam (an off the track TB) and an equine lawyer. These women were nothing short of unbelievable. I picked their brains daily on their jobs as they were so interesting to me, especially Yvonne's as my exposure to the equine legal world is pretty much non-existent. And I can tell you something, NOTHING gets passed any equine establishments, or even private happy hacking yards here, without contracts, statements, etc etc! Totally mind boggling to me but a great insight into how to approach certain scenarios when it comes to running a business or even accepting to ride a horse for someone.

Roxanne's Amalon coming in for the cup of tea

I settled in to a routine and really started to enjoy all aspects of work (even if it did mean being in pain from lessons with Pam!!) I really love the fact that in some sense everyday is the same (Daily chores etc etc) but in other ways no day was the same - the dentist would come one day, we'd go on a bike ride another day, watch our amazing vet Dr. Lockamee do something amazing! Or be entertained by these animals horses and dogs alike!! Let me formally introduce you to Pam's two corgi's Cody and Ginger! 

Ginger and Cody in our 'salon' - the wash stall

Cooling down after a rinse and repeat

Rocky, the gently 17hh plus giant!


I am so glad I caught this on camera look closely and you'll see Ginger four legs in the air SUN BATHING!

This dog has the life - we thought she was dead

All work and no play is not how things roll at Foster Meadows Florida base -- so a few nights out were to be had - but NOT before I made and educated the entire barn on Pancake Tuesday!!

Homemade pancakes by Shauna - ate them and lived to tell the tale!

Ria, SJ, Ali and myself
 We ventured out to West Palm Beach, and it is AMAZING! Still not used to skyscrapers and the club/pub seen is alot different to what I am used to in my native Galway. Also there is no after night out - Supermac's alternative in America :(
Midlands & Western dressage in America

At the top of a building - the Sky Bar

SJ, myself and Yvonne

SJ, Ali, myself and Yvonne on a night out!

A purchase that was made in February which baffled me! Kurt, the owner of our barn at White Fences traded in his old RV, drove to Texas and traded it in. This motor home was unbelievable - like a massive horse truck or a celebs tour bus!!

The inside of the amazing bus!

Smoke for the sugar cane fields that we can see from the house

Maaaaaaa-rian with Yvonne's off the track TB - Sam

Getting ready for turn out

Maaaaaa-rian had to have her first spin cycle, she got up to so much!

The day........the dentist came

Poor Bernie after his appointment with the dentist, he was sedated and groggy/feeling sorry for himself for awhile!

February was also the month that I got to see family since leaving Boston in December. MY uncle Peadar and cousin Siobhan made the trip down for her mid term break to see the wonders of Wellington. It was great to have them there for a few days and to see friendly faces!!

An after work activity - to a place called Party City, more to follow as to WHY we were there in the next blog!

Making friends

Trying headgear out for the Galway Races.

Until next time! Wishing anyone that is doing the ol Leaving Cert the best of luck especially my bro - Kevin, the end is near and then the summer can begin!!



Monday, June 4, 2012

Recapping January 2012 -

Right, the brake neck speed of recapping the past 6 months in a few blog posts commences!! After the whirlwind that was Christmas and New Years I hit the ground running with work in the yard, daily things that needed to be done apart from riding (barn as they say here! Blog post to come about the feckin language barrier here!!) 
January was really a month of learning the ropes in regards to how one gets around Wellington, where to go, what to see etc.  My schedule was a little slow due to arriving in the middle of the holiday season, so it was important to make the most of the free-ish time that I had. Future blog post on all the horses is coming up!! Living in a new area was a little bit strange at first – even trying to locate the supermarket was difficult!  But I slowly got into the hang of things.  Adapting to the day to day running at the barn was great as I had some idea as to how Pam ran things from spending time with her in New Hampshire. But that is where the similarities stopped, at the day to day running. Like ourselves the horses had to get use to the heat. Lack of turn out time due to limited paddocks and the best bit for me was learning the different ways you handle a medical situation with a horse in Florida. ‘Florida first-aid’, how you treat simple ailments i.e a graze is very different to back home or even in New Hampshire where you have the 'luxary' of it getting relatively cold at night, hence killing certain bacteria and not allowing it to spread – NOT the case in Florida it is hot and sticky all the time and BUGS ARE EVERYWHERE!!!

Technically not a bug but ye get the picture - WEIRD creepy things that obviously are here because St.Patrick didn't live stateside

There ya go!!!

Other things that I learnt in Florida, as the sheep worked on her tan...

Herself tanning in one of the baby palm trees

Florida is most definitely THE most expensive equine area that I have ever been exposed to,  the Wellington equine area is an industry within itself.  Here are just a few things that shocked me when I first got here between 
$10 and $20 for a bale of hay – a square bale A SQUARE ONE!!! 
Can be over $25 for a bag of feed 
Can be over  $300 to shoe a horse.
And over $1000 to rent a dry stable – no shavings included there, you have to pay in the double figures for a bale of shavings too!!
Much of the reason that these things are so costly is the fact that the like of hay and feed need to be transported down to Florida, but it is still a major eyeopener to how lucky I am and have been. If I was doing this alone here not on a professional basis,  I would not be able to keep myself afloat. 

To entertain ourselves  in Wellington we did the obvious thing – shop! And after that some of our Saturday nights were spent in the WEF complex (World Equestrian Festival) or the showgrounds as its called to the locals, watching Showjumping classes. It was nice to be able to mingle with non dressage people have a look up close to great American show jumpers like McClain Ward, who I would never have seen compete back at home. 

WEF showgrounds

Then there is the polo matches, hunter jumper classes, showjumping and the dressage. There is something going on somewhere at all times you are never stuck to go and see something regardless of the discipline you specialise in. 

A  night in the box!! 

Maaaaaa-rian's view on a Saturday night.

The week before the Masters started I was catapulted into the world of paralympic dressage. This experience was an eyeopener. Through working in Pam’s I get to meet very special and truly amazing people, like Dale Dedrick, Ellie Brimmer and Roz Kinstler. Dale and Ellie are American paralympic dressage riders who are both riding at selection trials for the London Olympics this June. I met them as they also shared our barn at White Fences. Going to a CDI with them was nothing short of mind blowing. Words cannot describe how driven these women are, I am blessed to have met them and look forward to being in their company this coming Florida season!
Myself, Maaaaaa-rian, her friend - American representive LeZard and the golf cart that I stole occasionally

The wonderful Dale Dedrick, Erik and myself after his trot up

Maaaaaaa-rian and her now boyfriend minding Erik

Trot up with Ellie Brimmers 'Carino H'
In the beauty station
However the HIGHLIGHT for me (and possibly the sheep) was going to the World Dressage Masters at the Jim Brandon Centre in Florida. I have never physically witnessed such world class dressage in my life, it was truly inspiring to be able to watch riders like Charlotte Dujardin and Steffen Peters walk around the showgrounds, warm up their horses and then compete, and thanks to Pam we had amazing seats for the evening performances. 
Night time view of the Masters!

Another perk, was being able to go to the exclusive competitor party that was held in the International Polo Club in Wellington and it was there that we got to mingle with the greatest of the greats!!

Entrance view at the competitors party of the Masters

Sushi man - made Maaaaaaa-rian sick :(

CHARLOTTE DUJARDIN, who was very nice and shocked she had admirers in the USA

Shrimp table - also made Maaaaaaa-rian ill :(
Carl Hester!!!

Getting to spy on Charlotte and Valegro warming up.

The Masters was really nothing short of amazing, and I met truly wonderful people there. Getting to watch the warm-ups as well as the actual tests themselves was very educational. Some riders warmed-up loosely, long and low and collected with a few minutes to go, and others warmed up with collection, passage and half-passes throughout. Of course at the competitors party, was out of this world and probably the first time I realised that I certainly did NOT fit in, with my glad rags from the likes of Pennys and Topshop!!! It was a great kickstart to get me to focus to really use my time here to the best of my ability and train, practise and become sponge like with retaining information!!

After the excitement of the Masters and a week of trying to get back into the swing of things, I was brought to a local artists studio, Gisela Pferdekaemper. When work was quite (generally speaking Monday to Friday is crazy and the weekend is a little bit quieter as Pam travels to teach at clinics and our horses have an easy day Saturday and off Sunday unless their are shows to go to!) I got to go on little adventures.
 This studio was unbelievable!! Gisela was very welcoming and brought us into her intimate studio and gardens. 

Work in progress


My first meeting with a banana tree

That is all for January!! The heat was probably one of the most  difficult thing to adapt to  in this month, especially trying to ride in it! Slowly it got better my very first day on Fritz I had to stop for water and a breather because I was seeing black spots - But it has since gotten alot better! These first few months have been focused on my position and becoming as adaptable as I possibly can on any horse I get on. Progress so far is painful using muscles I never thought I had, but I definitely feel like trying to become an adaptable rider is the way I am going achieve goals, and ultimately become as good as I possibly can. Maaaaaaaaa-rian had a ball in January, as she does all the time - all play and no work sure. She did oversee some important household duties like moving into the apartment and the maintenance of Delia the mini

Delia's first time in the wash stall - no twitch was needed!

At my little memory station the human Marian is in the black and white photo on the left!

In the kitchen 

Representing for Daddy Finneran!

Overseeing daily goings on, on the mounting block

Until next time, when ye will find out what went on in Febuary.

Peace Love and Hoofoil!!!