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My 101 Guide to Parelli Natural Horsemanship!

This is an article I wrote at the invitation of my goddaughter Verena.  Verena is passionate about dog training and has recently graduated f...

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

The long road to Florida to ride with Linda Parelli....

Here we are, I have finally arrived in Florida, after weeks of agonizing preparations and delays due to my horse Menina suffering a severe injury on a wire fence.  We finally got the vet's clearance to travel, and off we went.  For more info on that particular mishap, check out my Facebook page www.facebook.com/parelliqc

We got here, not without a few issues on the way South, many of which were related to the extreme temperatures.  I left in -40C weather, everything was frozen, including all locks and doors on the trailer.  The horses got no traction on the rubber mats in the trailer in this cold and were slipping and sliding trying to find their footing to get on - hard to persuade them it is safe to load in this case... and it got to the point where I was very worried they would get hurt trying.  We left Quebec two hours later than planned.

Everything in the trailer froze solid - food, water, etc.  I had to feed myself with what could fit in my cooler in the truck and discovered that hard boiled eggs can be eaten even when frozen....  Thank goodness for peanuts, granola bars and yogurt, who withstand this type of temperature quite well....

Then we had to wait over two hours at the US border for the vet inspection.  We were preceded by several cattle trucks heading to slaughter, and the vet was training a new assistant who was very friendly, but not terribly efficient... When I said three horses, she looked at me like I had asked her how to land on Mars... and processed all the cattle trucks before me.  My revenge was eating all the chocolate she put out on the counter to appease us... it happened to be lunch on that particular day.

Five hours late at that point... I got to my stop in New York state in the dark.  I know the place, but it's on a very small windy country road and I missed the driveway... had to back the truck and trailer more than 500 meters because there is no spot to turn around.  Then, I was faced with a steep hill about 600 meters, snowed in... I put the truck in 4 wheel drive low and prayed we would not get stuck on the hill!  Yeah for the Cummins engine on my old Dodge, we got up there, all 10 tons climbed up the hill without even a skid - my truck is a locomotive!  My friends could not believe it, they were not too sure we would manage.  These are the days where I forgive my truck for being so expensive to keep going!

My two usual stops in Virginia were not able to take us in, too much snow and ice, so I had to find a place for the night while on they way.  Again, I was lucky and got referred to a fabulous facility who could take us, althought I had to sleep in my trailer in -11C weather, without water.  I was able to get heating, but it took several hours for the inside to thaw out and get warm - thank goodness for the winter sleeping bag and down filled boots I carry around for those types of situations.  With a wool hat and mitts on, I was still able to get a few hours of sleep.  No dinner that night, but the diner across the street prepared great breakfasts - the Pink Cadillac served eggs, bacon, fruit and unlimited coffee in a setting plastered with pictures of Elvis Presley!  The food was good and warm, it was heaven!

It's only once I got across the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, where it snowed, that the snow disappeared and I was able to remove my winter parka - still wearing my long underwear, wool hat, gloves and down vest.  -6C in Georgia, that's a record... Usually, this is when I change to a t-shirt and start looking for the air conditioning control.

Hey, once across the Florida stateline, we finally got over the freezing point!  +6C with a great big warm sun, I felt like it was summer, or almost!  My water started to thaw - thank you America for inventing the truck stop where I could find drinking water to water my horses on the way! 

The horses are doing well and are very happy to find themselves in five acres of pasture after being cooped up for months in a small icy paddock and spending the last few weeks in stalls.  They ran, bucked, and gave us a great show of exuberance and excitement.  I enjoyed my first shower in four days with hot water (which was not working and I managed to fix), a hot meal and the satisfaction of being able to step out without my winter boots.  Our first night was rather cold (-7C), but the days have been warm and sunny! 

I was left with two days to have the trailer repared (some pipes did not survive the -40 000 C weather...) and get organized.  I had to remove Menina's sutures, find hay and supplies and get my tack ready.  Here I am enjoying the view on this lovely property, the sun on my skin and the comforts of a proper trailer hookup!

Leaving the harsh winter behind and looking forward to a great month of training and learning with Linda Parelli!

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For more info on Parelli training, visit www.vifargent.com

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