This is week 3 here at the Parelli Ranch, where I am spending 3 months as a Mastery Student in Pat's program. Time sure flies. The trip was challenging, dodging snow storms and getting stuck in a couple of places because of the bad weather. But we made it sound and safe, a day late but still in time to ride with Karen Rohlf on Valentine's Day and to check in at the ranch.
The Mastery Program is intense and challenging. Pat's vision is to train and enhance our professional skills in four main areas: horse development, business and administration, facility management and teaching. His standards are high - as he says, there are several levels of quality when it comes to doing something: good, professional and Parelli Professional. His goal is to help his students become more than competent and efficient, he is looking for us to develop Mastery in all four areas. As Mastery Students, we get rotated through all fours areas, sometimes all in the same day! It requires stamina, motivation, a high level of emotional fitness and lots of flexibility!
My typical day starts at 4:30 am. I get up, get dressed, doctor and feed Menina here at Wenapeg Farm. Then I head over to the Parelli ranch where I doctor, feed, groom and tack up Easter in preparation for the day. Breakfast 7:00 to 7:05, then I ride Easter up to Pat's barn at the other end of the ranch for the first 7:30 meeting. We help with bringing horses, grooming, feeding and barn chores then get assigned to the day's tasks - it can be playing and riding horses, a lesson with Pat or a top instructor, help with teaching on campus, fix fences or build new pens, drive the hay wagon to feed all the horses on the ranch (over 100), prepare special feeds, work on manuals, reports or help answer horsemanship questions on email, direct a team to finish a project, or a number of other things. Lunch is around 1:00 pm, if I am lucky, I get 15 minutes. Then onto the afternoon's assignments. At around 6:00, I ride my horse back down to the main campus, put her up and feed her, then have a quick dinner, head back to Wenapeg to feed and groom Menina. A few minutes catching up on email, a shower, then off to bed because the next morning is coming fast! You can then understand why I am having a hard time keeping up with the blog and mail! Add to that special projects and meetings, unforeseen trailer repairs or errands and anything else that can come up in urgency, and the days are very full.
Last weekend, I joined the Parelli Competition Team assisting Lauren Barwick (Gold and Silver Medallist in Para Dressage at the 2008 Olympics) at a dressage show being held about one hour from the ranch. For those who don't know her, Lauren is a Canadian athlete and she has been training with Pat Parelli for 2 years. She was looking to secure her ranking for the World Equestrian Games and did so with flying colors, scoring 77% in her Freestyle with Maile, her Olympic horse. It was absolutely thrilling to be on her team and to watch her perform. We had a great time and I was glad to return to the competition world while upholding the Parelli principles and image.
Thankfully, we get one day off a week, on a rotation basis, which allows us some rest, time to shop for food and do laundry, and maybe take care of the pile of mail and phone calls sitting on the table.
Why do I do this? Because it is great learning and can be great fun, if you approach it with the right attitude. And because I have a dream and a vision, and this is the way to making it real. Being near Pat and Linda on a daily basis is an incredible opportunity to learn and advance as a horsewoman, one that is just not available out in the field. It helps me but it also helps you, as I am then able to share the savvy and become a better instructor and coach for all my students.
Now if the typical Florida weather would come back, it would be almost perfect - we have had cold and rain and I am still having to wear winter clothes most days!
In cold Florida