A lot more time has passed then I planned for when I wrote the last post but honestly I am so exhausted after work that I really don’t want to sit down and write. I just want to sleep :)
Anyway, a LOT of stuff has happened. I’ll list a few highlights in no particular order and then go into detail for the important ones and the ones I have pictures for.
- I went cross country schooling with Tucker and got a concussion
- Tucker pooped on my head
- I volunteered at a show nearby and was a dressage steward
- I was a show groom at another show we went to
- I went cross country schooling on Sansa
- I have decided not to go to New Zealand
So concussion first. I took Tucker cross country, which for those of you who don’t know means I took him to a place that has jumps outside of a ring that are made of elements you wouldn’t find in an arena i.e. logs, ditches, banks, water, coops, gates, ect.. This was his third or fourth time but he hasn’t jumped a lot for a while so we started taking it slowly. Here’s some pictures.
As you can see, very cute and tries hard. But not everything depends on the horse, the rider has some impact too. So if the rider effes up, things can go downhill. I think you all can tell that yes, I effed up. We were going to jump a 2’3’’ log, which a horse can pop over at a standstill, and Tucker was being really weavy and not wanting to go straight. So we’re going toward this jump, Tucker’s being a butt, I’m a bit unbalanced trying to figure out what to do, and he sees the jump and starts to jump over it. He had been going fairly well once he took his front feet off the ground so I thought it was going to be a normal jump so I started going into the jumping position. But right as we were on the apex and before his hind feet left the ground, he hesitated and then hopped over it like a deer. I didn’t expect that and being in the wrong position to check my balance, fell over his shoulder. He kind of spooked and I don’t quite remember but I think his hoof hit my chin because there was an impact there and my jaw snapped shut so hard, the hinges of the bone hurt. It took me a second to get up but I did and we continued as if nothing happened.
Then in the middle of the night, I woke up with a headache and severe nausea. Turns out I got a concussion. So I didn’t ride the next day and took the hours between AM and PM chores off for a nap.
Right now I’m feeling a lot better though heavy impacts still kind of set my head ringing. Riding is fine and I avoid running.
So there’s that.
And yes, Tucker did indeed poop on my head as I was cleaning his hind feet. Don’t know why he decided to do such a jerk thing but believe me, he knew what he was doing. Here’s a picture of him being his curious self.
Next thing. I volunteered at a show as a dressage steward! That was actually really fun. There were four rings and I was in charge of Ring 1 and 2. My job was to find the correctly numbered person (competitor number) and make sure they were at their ring at the time they were assigned (dressage tests are to be ridden at a predetermined time by show secretary. You know your time before you get to the show). This was a blast despite the massive amounts of dust:
(I came back a different color)
My master list of times and riders.
The rings I stewarded. Left is Ring 1 and right is Ring 2.
I got to tell people what to do and let them know how close it was to their test so they could either start warming up their horses seriously or start cooling down to save the energy.
Some people were so nice and friendly and even when I messed up, which I did because come on, first time, they were totally cool with it and understanding.
So show groom for another show. Suz (one of the trainers at the barn), Jess (barn manager), and Cydney (boarder) were going to compete at a show called Full Moon Horse Trials and they needed someone to come with them and help take care of the horses for the day. It was decided that I would be the one so the day of the show, I woke up at a bright and early 4 AM. I was down at the barn by 4:30 and helped load the horses onto the trailer.
Here they are later in the day but same as how they looked in the morning. The bay horse is Willmore (Jess’ horse), the chestnut and white paint is Korbin (Suz’s horse), and the bay and white paint is Jasper (Cyd’s horse). Basically left to right.
We then stopped at a gas station for caffeine – I got a sweet tea – and headed off for the hour and a half drive. We have some trouble toward the end finding the turnoff for the show grounds and ended up having to drive over someone’s lawn in order to turn the trailer around but we made it in the end.
I’m going to give you guys some background now so you have a little understanding of what the day was going to look like. In a one-day eventing show (usually they are three days), dressage happens first and you have all your dressage gear on. Then you go on to show jumping (jumping in an arena) and immediately after, you head off to cross country (jumping out of an arena). You are allowed to ride your show jumping in your cross country gear because you won’t have time to change which means bright colors, safety vests, and jumping tack. So since Suz was first for dressage, we focused on her, got Korbin ready, then sent her on her way. Then immediately it was Jess’s turn and while she got dressed, I tacked up Willmore, and she was off. There was a little bit of time between Jess going and Cyd going so we fixed up Jasper’s mane braids and tacked him up before Suz came back and Cyd (who had forgotten her show shirt, stock tie, and show coat) borrowed her’s. I changed Korbin’s dressage tack into jumping tack and then Cyd went off. That’s pretty much how the day went. Besides being next to the beginning and the end of the cross country course and cheering them on, the biggest highlight of the day was when I was cooling Korbin down after his cross country run. Cyd was taking care of Jasper’s feet when Jasper decided he had enough and tried to kick out. Cyd growled at him and nudged him to stop. For some reason, this threw Jasper over the edge and he broke his halter and went trotting off. He was very much a loose horse. I had Korbin in hand and no way to catch Jasper myself so I yelled out “Loose horse!” As we were near the entrance to cross country, I had a very real concern that Jasper was going to run on cross country and some poor rider’s day would be ruined. Luckily he didn’t go there but I was struck by the fact that multiple other grooms and riders around our trailer heard me yell out and all turned to look but no one came to help. They were just content to watch even though it was very clear I couldn’t do anything about Jasper despite being the closest because I was holding Korbin. Somehow Cyd managed to find a halter in the trailer to catch Jasper with and everything was fine but really some help would have gone a long way. When another horse got loose later and I didn’t have a horse in hand, I leapt up to see if I could help but the horse was too far away and someone else had caught him. I was a little concerned that no one had done the same for me.
The day went on and once Cyd, who was last, had finished her cross country, we headed down to the scoring board to see what our results were. We waited for about 3 hours and after many attempts to at least get the dressage tests back, we gave up and went home. It was a fun day, super fun don’t get me wrong, but the disorganization and apathy were frustrating and it was nice to put it behind us.
Here’s a picture I took as we were waiting for scores. Left to right, Cyd, Suz, and Jess.
And I went cross country schooling with Sansa. Here’s a fantastic picture of us. There were no falls this time!
And finally, I am not going to New Zealand. I made this decision after a lot of deliberation because I realized, going to the shows, that I loved the competitive atmosphere and I wanted to do more of that. The part of Maryland I’m at kind of closes down for eventing in the winter cand the barn I was going to go to in New Zealand was awesome but not competitive. So I decided that instead of going to NZ, I was going to try and get another working student position with someone in Aiken, South Carolina, which is one of THE places to be for eventing in the winter. Fingers crossed that works out!
So yeah, that’s me right now. Hope college is going well for my friends and a Happy Thanksgiving to all!
I thought I would start with the beautiful sunset to start off this post.
Things actually went really well so far. Which is weird, because I was always waiting for the other boot to drop. My things came out first on the carousel and the barn manager, Jessica, was waiting outside for me. The ride back to the barn went really well. A serious relief because small talk terrifies me.
We got back to the barn and Jess showed me around. Everyone was getting ready for a show the next day so I got to meet quite a few people. Everyone was really friendly and humorous! I’m excited to get to know everyone. This is what the barn looks like. I know it’s not an amazing picture but I took it with my phone so cut me some slack.
And this is my half of the basement, where the other working student, Brandi, and I live.
That evening was really easy since a) everyone was getting ready for a show and b) it was night and there wasn’t really anything to do.
The day here at Destination begins at 7:30 in the morning with feeding. We feed all the horses in the barn and then we go feed the field boarders who are near the house we stay in on the other side of the property, opposite the barn. Here is Brandi with a little pony called Coco Puff.
And this is Porter,
After feeding, we turn out. We take pairs of horses to different paddocks to spend the day out of their stalls. This is a few of them behind the barn. You can see the trees changing colors. I love looking at it.
Then we muck out the stalls, clean the barn aisle, put out hay in the stalls, and do any little chores that need to be done before we ride. Then we ride.
One of the first things I did when I got here was meet “my” project horse. His name is Tucker and he’s an off the track thoroughbred (OTTB). He’s a bay, but more a blacker bay. And he’s super lazy. I’m used to riding lazy horses so we’ll see what the future holds. I don’t have any pictures yet but I promise one soon!
So on the real first day, we went for a hack around the trails. Here’s some pictures! Oh, and a pony that came to say hi!
You can see the tips of Tucker’s ears here!
After the hack, we went to lunch where Brandi and I talked a lot about the different personalities at the barn and what are the more obvious expectations that nobody would tell me because they seem obvious but I may not actually know. That was a serious help.
And she also told me that unfortunately, the Rolex rider is moving barns now and I won’t get to work with her. That was a big bummer because I was really looking forward to it.
After break, we did some more chores then at 4, we brought the horses back in from the turn outs, feed them again, groomed whoever needed it, mucked what stalls needed it, and cleaned the barn aisle again. Then we went around one last time and shut up for the night.
Things were pretty much the same the next day except I got to ride this cute horse called Sansa. I honestly love her, especially her name! She’s such a funky little horse. Sometimes she’s super sensitive and sometimes she’s not. It’s a little hard to predict and work with but it’s still fun. I had a lesson with Natalie, who is the woman who hired me with Sansa. Here’s a picture of her. It’s also from my phone so no judging!
The rest of the day went much the same way as yesterday. We finished everything around 5:30 but I stayed later to clean the tack I used today. Then I went back up to the house. It’s starting to get super chilly here. My fingers tingled from the change in temperature when I walked in to the basement.
Hope things are going well for everyone! I’m having a blast!
Somewhere over the Western US
As you can see from the location, I am no longer in Los Angeles. A few days after I wrote the previous post, a barn in Maryland got back to me with an interest in having me over. And, as I think you have all inferred by now, I got the job!
I am going to be a working student, which is basically another word for unpaid groom. This means I am going to be doing a lot of mucking out, a lot of cleaning tack, grooming, and overall maintenance. But I am being paid in lessons, which I will be getting at least four times a week, according to the woman who interviewed me. They go to competitions so maybe I will have the opportunity to compete, which is just awesome! And I found out after I accepted the job that one of the women (it’s a partnership of three) got 17th in the Rolex CCI**** which, for those of you who don’t know, is the highest level of THE top global completion held in the US. So 17th against some of the best riders in the world is nothing to sneeze at. Obviously, I don’t know if I going to be working with her very much but still. I’ll get to watch her ride, ask questions, see how she does things. I don’t know if you can tell but I’m VERY excited.
Besides getting the job, I also been hanging out with some friends and branching out from purely family time. One of the more fun things I did was a Swap Meet for Calabasas Saddlery. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures but it was actually a really fun day. And then the next day was an awesome riding lesson so it was a well-rounded weekend :)
Halloween was also great. I went trick or treating with my friend as a 1920’s man, which worked out quite nicely. I don’t have any pictures of that which is unfortunate because I think I really looked the part.
Oh! And I cut my hair! I don’t have a GOOD picture of that so we’ll wait until that happens for me to post it. My hair is now slightly above shoulder length where as before it was below my shoulder blades. I told the woman who cut my hair to just chop off all the burnt edges and split ends and I didn’t look at the mirror when she cut it. Guess my hair was mostly burnt and split ends.
That’s all I have for now. I’m sitting on the plane as I’m typing this and I have to say so far this is turning out to be a pretty easy flight. The woman sitting next to me is very kind and grandmotherly and the babies on my other side have only screamed once or twice. This bodes well for the rest of the journey!
Here’s to Maryland and a mild winter! I brought a bunch of warm clothes but I come from California. Let’s not get too cocky here.
So things have been going pretty well since FNF. I’ve been working in a jewelry store to make some money. It’s been nice to have a steady job, even if it’s not a full time job.
Besides working in the store, I’ve also house/dog sat again. That was also nice, having a house to myself. Since it was an apartment, I had to worry about the dog a lot though. Most of the time, I didn’t mind. But then there were times when my plans would change, and then the worry wasn’t too good.
Among the things I have been doing, I’ve also gone to do some family time.
We’ve gone to the Watts Towers,
Hung out at the beach and made the feather and sand version of Mount Kilaminjaro,
And gone to the LA Flower Market, which was very colorful.
Of course, I have not forgotten my horse job. I’ve submitted at least ten applications at this point to different barns all over the US. Hopefully one will accept me.
And I am still planning to go to New Zealand in the spring. So taking care of that visa.
Hope everyone is doing well. Friends I know in life and friends I don’t.
Well, so much for the high hopes of that job. It was very much not what I am looking for and the owner does everything backwards. So no to that one.
It was a very strange weekend. On my first day I rode a young mare (girl horse for all you non-horse people) who was very weirdly sensitive and dull at the same time. I asked her to canter and for the first few minutes everything was okay. Then, for some reason, she took my asking her for more impulsion to mean CHARGE!
Think charging onto a battlefield.
That’s a little bit of how I felt.
I’ve never feared more for my life than I did then.
Somehow, I got her back under control, after ripping out a handful of mane with a very unhelpful trainer. I stared at him, then the horse, then tried to speak. But my mouth was so dry all that came out was a little huff of air. Suffice to say that was the end of that ride.
Luckily there are three other girls here. They are literally the sassiest, funniest, and most welcoming group on the West Coast. And they were very clear to me that taking this job would be a bad idea. Here’s some pictures of the barn.
The rest of the day went better as I didn’t ride any crazy horses again. Once the day was over, we got Chinese food at a restaurant for dinner after we finished cleaning up and I haven’t laughed so hard since college apps started. It was so great to laugh and joke and have fun for the heck of having fun and not as a release from college stress.
The second day went fine. Riding went much better today. We only do flatwork, i.e. no jumping, so it was a little bit repetitive. The horses were more relaxed, however, and we only had one mishap with a runaway horse on the trail. But me and another girl blocked the trail so the horse slowed down enough for the girl riding him to make him stop. Despite things getting better, the owner of the barn basically called jumping horses a sport of no brains and all brawn. It took so much effort not to laugh in his face. Not only did he insult me but insulted every rider I know and all the Olympians who train day after day and drill course work.
And the third and final day went pretty much the same way as the second day except for there was no runaway horse.
I hinted to the owner that I wouldn’t be taking the job but he seems to think otherwise. Well, he’ll get a rude awakening when he calls me again.
Hello all and hello fall.
Things have been significantly less exotic these past two-ish months. I didn’t do very much so I didn’t write (which you all know because there were no updates :) ). But things are going well.
I said goodbye to a lot of my friends as they are all normal and doing the thing you usually do when you graduate from high school i.e. going to college. I’ve reconnected with some old friends too and really just spent most of August and September doing things I love.
Like painting. All those museum visits in Paris gave me some inspiration and here are the fruits of my labor.
The third one is a work in progress. Turns out art nouveau takes a long time so I’ve only made these three so far.
I’ve also done a lot of writing. I started three stories and I’m focusing a lot of my attention on one I hope to enter in the Writers of the Future contest, which I know Patrick Rothfuss participated in and Orson Scott Card spoke at. Speaking of those authors, their books are amazing. I could not put down Ender’s Game or Name of the Wind.
But not everything is rainbows and sunshine. My dear partner in crime, Peter, the horse that basically taught me how to not take no for an answer, tore a tendon completely in half. The vet said it would never heal (because you can’t regrow a tendon) and he would always be in pain and never run. This was particularly awful because he loves to jump and run so much. We tried to rehab him and go against all odds but he was so miserable. He was losing fur and constantly weaving around in his stall. Overall, he was being very clear that this was not what he wanted. The decision was made to put him down.
This was really hard for me but I am 100% sure that he is in a much happier place then we could have ever given him.
Here’s a picture of him doing what he loves.
Besides riding and art, I’ve been working at a jewelry store, looking for a equestrian job, and house sitting for my uncle. I’ve also went hiking in Temescal Canyon which has so many happy memories for me. I really love that place. And personally I think the landscape of California to be much underappreciated. Is this not beautiful?
And this is a tree where I read Shakespeare for the very first time.
I did find a job opening in Orange, California to which I have an interview this weekend. Hopefully it goes well!
Hey everyone. As you can see from the title, I am back in Los Angeles. More on that in the following post.
When we last “talked”, I was withdrawing my visa application and telling the people in Wales I couldn’t come. They were so incredibly nice about it, constantly telling me it was okay that I couldn’t come and that a place is always open to me there. It made me feel a lot better about the whole shebang which was good because neither I nor my parents could figure out how to withdraw the visa application. It was decided that I would go back to the centre the following morning and beg them to withdraw my application. So for that evening, I sucked up my feelings of “holy shit” and “get me out of here” and made myself some dinner, since the family was out.
The next morning I went to the visa centre and found out they have a special form for withdrawing applications and though I wouldn’t be getting my passport back that day, I WOULD be getting it back within the next two days. Of course, that made me really relieved. I returned to our friends’ house which looks like this:
Very beautiful. And they live near the Rue Jeanne d’Arc which has a statue in front in her honor.
I whiled the day away with more Legend of Korra and since they had friends for dinner, went to go see a movie, specifically Man of Steel. Oh boy, that last line. Someone has been waiting for YEARS to put that in a film.
In the morning, I received an email from the centre that my documents were ready. I didn’t even wait to close my computer before I left. I arrived, got my passport and documents, and got the hell out of there. Upon returning to the house, I waited for a remotely appropriate time to phone home and called my parents. We booked a flight for the next day back to LA.
That night the family had friends for dinner again so I returned to the movies, this time to see Wolverine. Even though I was seeing it in English, I think I missed a lot of the movies because there was a lot of Japanese and I don’t read French subtitles. But whatever, I had fun.
I departed Paris very early the following morning for the airport but not before leaving a gift of chocolates and a thank you note on the table for my lovely hosts. And then twelve-ish hours later, I was home.
I’ve spent the last few days lazing about the house, painting, getting a new phone, and saying goodbye to friends who are going off to college. I don’t know what I’m going to do now instead of work in the UK which was supposed to be the fall and part of the winter but I do know this is not the end of my gap year. It’s just a small break. I’ll keep updating this blog when interesting things happen since it’s my gap YEAR blog but not as often (as if I was actually doing it often before).
Hope everyone’s having a great summer!
Well, I guess my gap year will start later…much later…in the year then now. Gods, fate, or karma have conspired against me because that can be the only explanation for this mass of bad luck hanging over my head.
I got back to Nice from Bristol easily. After waiting a bit to get in contact with Michaela again, I got back to Cannes too. However, I left my favorite jacket, a hunter green jacket with a tan horse and rider jumping over the words Just Get Over It, on the bus. So it’s very likely I’ll never see it again.
Once I got to Cannes, I took the bus up to Michaela’s grandmother’s house where we watch two episodes of Merlin and talked a lot about how to go about getting a visa for Bristol. We decided to make an appointment for me in a visa application center in Paris. Everything was going fine and I was calming down.
My train for Paris left the next day at 11 am. Some friends had family I could stay with for a little bit since we weren’t expecting me to stay very long as the Immigration Officer who deported me told me I could get the visa in a day. I got to their wonderful house around 5 pm and spent the rest of the afternoon finding myself again in music and the Legend of Korra. And, of course, talking with family. Then we had a wonderful dinner of Pan Asian food. They made a Chinese Chicken salad like salad except with shrimps instead of chicken. It was delicious.
The next morning, I printed out all the necessary documents and made it to the visa application center in no fuss. I won’t go into what happened there but I applied for the visa. Then I went to the British Embassy to see if they could speed up the progress and found out that for the visa I need, I need to wait THREE WEEKS. Let me repeat that. THREE WHOLE WEEKS. TWENTY ONE DAYS. I cannot stay in Paris for 3 weeks. So I decided to withdraw my visa application because they have my passport only to find that they won’t be able to give me my documents back for four to five working days. So not until Monday earliest.
Now I have to explain to the wonderful lady in Wales who opened up her barn to me without ever meeting me that I cannot come. I feel like a little piece of turd because she is so incredibly nice and told me I needed to get a visa. I had researched for this but hadn’t found anything. And I am turning down this amazing opportunity to work in a beautiful barn, with beautiful people, and beautiful horses that would have taught me so much. Hopefully she will understand and maybe I’ll be able to work for her next summer instead.
So let’s review all the bad luck:
Eviction for no reason
Stranded in a foreign country
If anyone is planning a gap year and hoping to work in another country, don’t risk the visa. Get the stupid thing way before you arrive, even if you think you don’t. At the very least, you’ll have all situations covered.
Well, we can say just kidding about that last line…
I left early this morning for the Nice airport by bus from Cannes and caught the plane to Bristol just fine. But when I arrived in Bristol, I got stuck in customs. The long and the short of it is that after 4 hours of questioning and phone calls, I was refused entry into the UK because I didn’t have a visa to “work” in the UK even though I am not getting paid. I had to get a mug shot taken and my fingerprints recorded.
TV shows do not adequately express how humiliating it feels to be get those mug shots and fingerprints taken. You feel treated kind of like a criminal when you are guilty of nothing but ignorance. It really exposed to me to the cruelty of the world in a way that articles, stories, and those same TV shows never will.
But anyway, since I had been SO cooperative in the whole ordeal, I was given leave to spend a night in one of three hotels as long as I was in the Bristol airport by 5 o’clock the next morning in order to catch a 7 o’clock flight back to Nice. None of the hotels were cheap and I was not given permission to use my computer to find a hostel so I had to go to the Holiday Inn down the street.
It wasn’t bad. Here’s my room.
And the people were very kind. When I called the lady I was supposed to meet in Wales, she was so indignant on my behalf. It went a long way to soothing the wounds on my heart that the Immigration Officer had given me with his callousness and lack of sympathy.
So now I am in my hotel room, talking with various family members on the phone, chatting on Facebook with various friends, and hoping I will be able to get a visa once I get back to France.
Here’s to hoping the next post will have better news.
First day in Cannes! We went to Ile St. Marguerite to go swimming in the beach by ferry. It was so beautiful. I unfortunately didn’t bring my camera so once Michaela uploads them to tumblr, I will steal some so you can see the amazingness that is St. Marguerite.
There was a fort there called Fort Royal with massive walls. The first thing I thought of when I saw it was if I was a soldier facing those walls, I would have dropped my weapons and been like screw it, ain’t no way I’m getting over those. Which if you think about it, is probably the reason they were so big and massive and wide.
Then we returned to the mainland for Les Plages Electroniques. Basically it’s an electric music concert party on the beach and it’s very popular here in Cannes. I didn’t think I was going to have much fun seeing as how I don’t actively seek out electronic music but I ended up having a great time. Flirted with a couple guys, danced to the music, and overall, made myself have some fun. And the flirting turned out to be easier then I thought since I had never done it before! Here’s a view from early on in the night. The DJ was pretty funny. No one was dancing yet and he said over the microphone that the crowd was boring and dull. Things picked up after that. Oh, and the cup I got for buying a beer.
The next day, we got a day pass and hopped on a train to Ventimiglia in Italy, hoping for some warm weather and wonderful beaches. Turns out it was raining in Ventimiglia and we came, once again as in Dover, very unprepared for cold weather. So while we walked around a nice city with a towel over our heads because we were too cheap to buy umbrellas, we decided to treat ourselves to a nice meal. We ended up in Ristorante Il Gattoparde. Holy cow. The food was awesome and there was so much of it. It was very difficult to finish. But we somehow made room for dessert.
We then went to the beach which was breathtaking and played on rocks like little kids where we found this fish that Michaela found simply RIVETING.
After that, we hopped on a train to Monaco. Did you know people in Monaco don’t pay taxes? And it’s the richest “country” in the world? Not really, because it’s a principality but oh my god, it’s so clean and nice and fancy.
Then we went to Nice and Michaela showed me the older part of town where we went to an artist’s market, an herb store, and the beach again. I don’t have pictures of the artist’s market but here’s the herb store and the beach.
Then we returned to Cannes for a nice night of sleep.
Today we didn’t really do much as I am leaving tomorrow morning. We went to an outdoor market, wandered around Cannes a bit, then returned to the beach. Here are some pictures of our wanderings.
Here’s the end! The next time I post, it will be from the barn I am working at in Wales!