I am always happy when the Autumn Equinox arrives, bringing my favourite time of year, even though the days might get shorter I find the long, extremely dry days of Summer very draining, the landscape loses it's life and colour, creatures move slower and I feel less motivated...so with the cooler weather, moisture in the air and the promise of rain, I feel more energised and become more active, even as we get closer to Winter - when everything seems darker.
I have just returned to Wongaburra after a big adventure with my horses Jo Cool and Durango, on Pat Parelli's tour. First we spent the weekend at Werribee National Equestrian Centre, where Pat taught a 2 day public Masterclass then we headed up the Hume highway to K Ranch just south west of Sydney for 2 days of Instructor horsemanship followed by another 2 day weekend public Masterclass. It was a great opportunity to expose my younger horse Durango to many new environments and test his ability to cope with the pressure of long confinement, first in the float and then in the stables at both Werribee and K Ranch. This is not what my horses do in their daily life at home! With Jo Cool's experienced presence, Durango was able to feel secure and safe as he discovered new 'people, places, changes and things'. I got to feel the nostalgia of being 'on the road again', as I travelled alone and camped at roadside showgrounds with my horses, arranged my 'swag' every night and listened to the night noises of horses eating hay and birds settling in for the night as I fell asleep. We had a great time with Pat, I rode Durango for the first session of Pat's instructor classes, then swapped to Jo as the exercises became more complex and above Durango's level. Jo, as always, rose to the occasion and as always I found myself wishing he was 10 years younger...but at 22 he is still holding his own.
Our return trip was not uneventful, with an 'emergency stop' just 30 mins south on the Hume Hwy when my F-series threw a wobbly and overheated. Thank the gods I had Parelli friends and colleagues not too far away who came to rescue me and the horses and thanks also to the wonderful folks at NRMA and RACV who towed GiGi (my F350) away to the mechanics. I am so happy I joined their 'Complete Roadside Assistance' insurance a few months ago...they not only took care of my vehicle, but paid for taxis, a hire car and my accomodation during my unplanned stay at Mowbray Park. The horses and I spent 3 days at Mowbray Park Farmstay (thanks to Jacqui and Blair Briggs for accomodating me at very short notice! ) before heading down the Hume again, arriving home on Friday instead of Tuesday.
As I sat on the side of the road with my horses, semi-trailers roaring past in the 38C heat, my horses whole bodies sweating even though I raised the rear barndoor and had all the side windows and top vents open, I felt very grateful for everything I've learned and been able to apply with my horses over the years. I had no qualms at all about unloading them on the side of the highway, reloading them again once we hitched an alternative vehicle to the float (thanks Kaye Thomas!) as we waved my F350 off as it was taken away on the back of a tow truck. I had no qualms arriving at any of our overnight stops and putting the horses in strange in strange places then leaving them whilst I walked to town for a meal (and at Jugiong for a swim in the local pool!) and I had no qualms about them being safe to tow for hours and hours, stopping for fuel, during heavy traffic in Melbourne and with passing trucks on the Hume...as well as along bumpy 'B' roads in Victoria and on some unplanned roads that google directions took me along in NSW when I stupidly trusted it AGAIN to direct me to K Ranch. (note - NEVER trust Google directions...trust the maps and make your own route!)
My two horses were fantastic, ready to follow my directions at every step of the trip no matter what. This is what gives me confidence to do the things I do with them. Not that I think they will never have a problem, but that I KNOW I can help them if trouble looms. It's the knowledge of 'how' to solve a problem, not the absence of a problem that gives you confidence and control.
So I am happy to be home, resting up after a very big adventure and with Autumn just beginning. We have camps coming up here at Easter and in May, and I have some circuit visits to SA and in VIC as well as a trip to QLD just before the Winter solstice. I hope everyone is feeling more energised with the weather cooling, and I am looking forward to sharing my knowledge with you all! See you here or 'on the road again'....