Wow. I'm here! I'm amazed, excited, exhausted, overloaded, concerned, etc... I woke up at 2:45am to get my suitcases and horse loaded. To add insult to injury, I didn't get to bed until midnight. I just felt that I had so much to get done before disappearing for 2 wks. So, after 2.5 hours of sleep, 7.5 hours of driving, 5 long walks up and down the Parelli ranch incline, and 2 pretty darn good Parelli ranch meals, I'm finally tucked into my little trailer space for some rest.
I promised myself I'd blog it all. I'm too tired to type, but I know if I wait I'll lose some of the details worth remembering. I agreed about a month ago to drive a friends horse down to the ranch along with the woman from Norway who was leasing the horse for 6 wks at the ISC (damn, I'm jealous!). I was hoping she would speak English and wouldn't be an annoying dweeb to ride with for 7 hours. Her name is Anne and we got along very well. We actually had lots in common and plenty to talk about. It was a nice drive down.
Anne and I have kind of stuck together for the first day. She isn't quite sure about taking care of her lease horse since she's always boarded. I'm giving her tips and helping her along. We have a good time together so it's easy. But everyone is sooo incredibly nice here that I wouldn't doubt it if Anne and I ended up buddying with multiple different people over the 2 wks I'm here. People are very smiley, very friendly and it was a fun day of hearing about other's journeys to this Parelli-land.
The woman next to me is from Hawaii. I ate dinner with a woman from Sweden. I met 3 of the funniest women from England. It appears that maybe 25% of the students are from overseas. I'm sure the weak dollar makes it a great time for them to travel to the states. It's like trips to America are on sale! I've only met 1 other person from Colorado so far - kind of surprising. I've met 3 from California. They drive some 20 hours to get here. I'm amazed! This place is truly special.
All of the horses are in pens, about 30x30 with dirt footing. Horse feed is supplied and consists of timothy/alfalfa hay cubes that must be soaked and the Parelli grain mixture. They also supply molasses water to help make sure the horses drink plenty. They recommend that you don't leave water in your horse's pen. Instead, they suggest you bring water to your house 2-3 times/day. The horse quickly learns to depend on you and look to you for comfort. We're in this 100% so Z has no water until the morning.
Funny, with the hay cube mash all the horses are eating, you can walk around and see 65 horses with mash all over the muzzles. Pretty cute. People are walking by with buckets for their horses all the time so the horses have quickly learned that any one of the buckets might be for them. It will be interesting to see if after a few days only MY horse looks for me.
So, about 65 horses. You've got nearly every color, size, shape and age. Some look not so loved, some look like they can enter a show immediately. There are many young horses surprisingly. You are not allowed to ride your horse, so maybe I shouldn't be surprised. I repeat, you are not allowed to ride your horse! The premise is that you honor your horse by submerging yourself in understanding them and letting your bad habits atrophy during the class. So, I'm not riding my horse. Geesh! :-)
The reception is very warm. They help you unload, put your horse in it's pen, get your stuff to your designated cubby, tack area. There are multiple places designated to each individual to put their belongings. There are port-o-potties everywhere and a shower available to those of us staying on the ranch. One shower. It'll be fine...
After getting settled in, checked in, fed and feeding our horses, it was time to meet for orientation. It was pretty cool. They started by having us do this silly dance around the room. I was tired and hesitant, but they don't let you skip it. Then, we went over the guidelines for the ranch and what to expect. That's when I started to get super motivated. There are not many level 3 students. There seem to be many L1 and L2 students. There is at least 1 instructor in the class.
The 2 faculty members presenting the orientation told us their stories and how they started in the Parelli program. That was very interesting. We played a little game and I was the lucky winner of 1 coupon entitling me to have a faculty clean my horse's pen one time. Only 4 winners, so luck was on my side. It was a good orientation and I already learned some things. I'm truly hoping for some hugely eye-opening experiences that help me understand how I can be better for my horses.