09.03.29: Surviving the Storms

The drive down was largely uneventful. We discovered that there are a large portion of people driving south out of Ohio, strangely enough. We arrived at the airport and picked up a car for Jim to get back to the airport in the morning. We managed to find the campground, though the directions around here are very odd. The roads are all numbered, and are a variety of State Roads, County Roads, Florida Roads, US Roads and the same number may be used for several different types of roads. We managed to find our way around without too much trouble. We arrived in the campground and the woman told me that because there were storms coming in that evening, she had actually put me in a RV site rather than the field where the tents usually go. I was grateful because it meant that I would have access to electric to be able to blow up my mattress, and also for my computer if I wanted it.

We got the tent set up (pictures to come), and then headed out to check and see how Storm was doing. We got a bit turned around and between the printed directions and the directions that we searched via the blackberry we finally managed to get there. Storm was in a stall with some hay and water. He was sweaty but it had dried, and his poor tail was all mussed from leaning against the buttbar in the trailer. We checked in with the haulers and asked that they call when they were on the way in the morning so that I would know when I needed to have things ready.

We left there and went to find the ranch so that I would know the route to get back and forth. We discovered that we had almost driven by it in our crazy wanderings trying to find things. We drove back and happened to catch up with Fleta, and arranged to go to dinner on Sunday.

We headed back to where we had seen some shops and stopped by the grocery store to pick up some drinks and things for me to have in the cooler. There was a little Italian restaurant in the shopping center, and we ended up having a really great meal of Fettuccini Primavera which we split. They charged 2.00 extra to split a meal, but they included a salad or soup for both of us, it was a good deal.
By the time we left, it was very gray and windy outside so we headed back to the campground to check the weather over and see what the Storms were doing. We missed the first line which went north, but there was another line behind that which was not going to miss us. We secured everything as much as we could, and took showers and crashed into bed.

About 3:00 Jim got up and started checking the weather and realized that the storm was going to be pretty bad, so we grabbe
d our stuff and headed into the truck to wait it out since there was a lot of lightening around. It wasn’t always thundering, but the lightening was flashing like strobes. After about a half hour the power went out in the campground, and the rain was driving pretty hard. Jim kept a close eye on the tent to make sure that it was ok in the wind and rain, and we waited it out.

Finally after about an hour the rain settled down and the storm moved off, and we headed back into the tent to see what kind of damage was done. The rain had leaked in some through the door edges and through the seam in the rain fly, but it wasn’t terrible. The bed got a little bit wet, but everything else was pretty much ok. We grabbed the towels and mopped up and Jim got ready to head to the airport. I crashed on the dry side of the bed, and managed to sleep for a little while before I heard the rain start up again. I grabbed my phone and checked the radar and realized that there was another little bump of rain along the front that was going to catch us. I drug my stuff back into the car and slept the rest of the morning in the car instead. I was reasonably comfortable, and did get some sleep. I woke up just before 7 and the rain had pretty much quit, so I got up and headed down to the bathroom and then back up to the tent to check and see how much more water was in the tent. It was easy to clean up the second time, and I hung up the wet towels and started to try to organize my stuff a little better so that it was easier to function in the tent since there is not a lot of room. Its big, but there is a lot of stuff in there!

I grabbed my leftover bear claw for breakfast, and got myself together. I chatted with a few of the people around the campground, and several of them commented that there has not been much rain in the last few months, so this was good, but at the same time they didn’t need all of it at once. I finished up getting myself organized, and headed on to the ranch.

I was probably the first person to check in, and as I drove into the ranch I noticed that there was a lot more damage than ov
er at the campground. There were big limbs down, and a couple trees, and some fences that looked like they had fallen down too. I got to the first checkpoint and a woman named Fawn checked me in, and we went over things for a little while because a large tree had fallen across the road and they were still in the process of clearing it out, so we had to wait anyway. They got it cleared quickly, and I went and met the next person, and she guided me to where my pen and tack room were so that I could unload. I decided to keep the whole bags of feed in the truck since they did not have a rodent proof area for the feed. Each horse gets 2 bales of hay a day, and you can put your feed with the hay if you have any to bring in.

Just as I was getting my tack put away I got a call from the haulers that they were on the way and would be here in about 20 minutes. I got myself organized and then hung out with Fleta for a little while before they arrived. The woman drove up with the trailer and was able to drive him almost to his pen to be unloaded. He came off the trailer a little nervous, and was obviously sweaty again, but looked ok in the back of a very nice large trailer. It had a side ramp so I was able to walk him off without too much trouble. I put him in his pen and then grabbed his hay bag out of the trunk and loaded it with hay and he dug in when I hung it on the pen. I moved some things around and grabbed my stuff so that I could come charge my computer and phone, and then caught Fleta on the way back up. We chatted for a few minutes, and about that time Storm decided to roll in the black dirt. I was happy that he was getting comfortable, but at the same time, wasn’t too thrilled about the black silt that was now caked on one side. The wash rack is RIGHT outside my pen, and I have a feeling we’re going to be spending a good amount of time there…
Storm post roll in his pen
I grabbed a quick snack and headed out to check on Storm before I ate lunch and he was doing fine. He still had some of his hay left, and he had drank a good bit of his water. The sandwich that we picked up from the grocery store the day before was pretty good. I just chilled out while I ate since the wifi was knocked out in the storm from the night before. I got cleaned up from lunch and it was about time for orientation. The group was really small, and was a combined group from both of the courses going on. I don't believe that the people that were already here had to attend since my friend Fleta wasn't there. So I am not really sure how many people are in my class, but I suspect that it is small. The instructors for each course introduced themselves, and gave a little bit of their histories, which were each very different, but very interesting. The instructor for the other course is Byron and is from Australia, and the instructor from our course is Julia, and she is from California originally. They went over the course outline and what we can expect from each day, and then did a quick tour of the area to get us familiar with what is where. From there we had a few minutes before we had to meet at the round pen and Julia did a demonstration with her horse.

The demonstration was on the shadowing game, which I had experience with in Colorado. It was nice to have a recap, and I tried to get pictures that exemplify the game, and the steps that Julia went through. Julia started out "hiding" behind a tree to allow her horse to just be herself. When she started her horse was very right brained running around the pen, and then when Julia entered the pen, she quickly became interested in her and began to follow her. When Julia approached from the outside of the pen, the horse barely acknowledged her, and continued to run around. Julia started to mirror her a little bit, and try to become connected with her. The horse respond
ed fairly well, though would pretty easily come 'unstuck' and move away from  her. She entered the pen, and the horse began to follow her around. When she would start to come unstuck again, Julia would change directions and the horse would be
forced to turn around and follow her again. Once she had calmed down and connected with her, Julia began to ask permission to put the halter on her. The horse finally gave it to her, and she haltered her and then began to demonstrate the shawdowing game. She opened the gate to the round pen, and the horse pretty quickly headed right out. She became a little bit nervous, so Julia took over the 51% of control again, and guided her to a little bit more secure place so that she wouldn't get herself into trouble. She was actually exploring towards the bleachers where we were sitting, and so Julia stopped her so that she did not get so close that she became worried.

We finished up with her demo and all set out to get our horses and begin the process ourselves. Storm was happy to see me, and almost wants to push out the gate when I enter the pen. I haltered him, and then opened the gate to see what would happen, and he headed right out. I shadowed him, and he began to explore towards the playground. He got a bit concerned, so I gentely turned him around and asked him to go back towards his pen. He calmed down quite a bit and so we began to repeat the process. His water bucket was empty when I went in to get him, so I decided that we needed to go visit the water troughs to make sure that he could get a drink. It took quite a bit of approach and retreat to get him over there, but he eventually drank some water. We headed back through the pens to the playground, where he began to explore quickly. I only had to turn him around a few times, he settled down and began to explore quickly.

He headed around the pond but didn't really get down to explore the water, which was fine by me since it was so much higher than usual due to all the rain from the previous night. We turned and headed back, and passed a man with his horse. Suddenly Storm seemed to spook, and so I turned him around me, and realized that the horse had gotten away from the man, and was chasing Storm to try to "meet" him. I was busy trying to stop Storm from running away, and finally managed to get Storm to hold still long enough that I could drive the other horse off with my stick. It was tricky because I was a little concerned that I would cause Storm to react larger due to trying to drive off the other horse.  He settled down again and we went on our merry way.

He discovered that the spanish moss is edible, but I don't know that he really enjoys it, he ate one piece, and hasn't really gone after it since. We went to the other side of the playground where he continued to explore around the pond. He was doing a lot of walking with his nose to the ground, and since he wasn't stopping his explorations, and was still calm, I continued on. He suddeny stopped near the edge of the pond, sniffed a bit, and then dropped down to roll. He rolled pretty hard, rolling himself all the way over onto his other side and back again. I was happy that he felt safe enough to do so, though he jumped up pretty quickly again.

He walked on and headed towards the round pens that are in the playground where a woman was working her horse. The horse was very worried, and was running hard around the pen whinnying and calling out. Storm and I made our way past the horse, and then turned and came back. All the sudden he jumped forward and had one of his little temper tantrums, seemingly out of nowhere. I managed to get control of him again, and he tried once more, but again I was able to keep ahold of him. He seemed to be a bit worried after that, and I was wishing that the woman was not in the round pen because I wanted to use it to do exactly what she was doing! Since she was busy in there, and all the other round pens were much further away in territory that we hadn't explored, I took him back to his pen and went and got him some water.

He managed to break his hay bag already, so I was glad when Julia walked by and I asked her about some ducttape, and told her about his little fit. About the time I was explaining it we looked into the playground and discovered the same horse that had been so right brained in the round pen had just managed to get away from his owner and was streaking through the playground. He lept the water runlet, and then ran around to a gate on the otherside that was thankfully closed (some of the gates were open to allow us to shadow our horses smoothly from one area to another). Julia gave me the duct tape and then headed off in the direction of where the horse was standing waiting for his owner being held by someone that happened to be in the area.

I am not sure where the little fit came from, I am not sure if he was over his own line a little bit more than I realized and just couldn't handle it anymore or what. I am hoping to be able to talk to Julia or someone about it tomorrow.

It has been interesting to see all the different horses, there is a halflinger that looks a lot like Otto, complete with the mane on both sides of his neck and everything. Everyone that walks by comments how handsome Storm is. He is definately pretty unique.

Fleta and I went out to dinner, and ate at a restaurant called Horses and Hounds. They had a lot of expensive meals, so we ordered from the cheap side. We both ended up getting the Sheppard's Pie which was fantastic. As we were eating Mark Weiler and his wife(?) sat down at a table near us. He waved and joked that Fleta was wearing a nice shirt (she had on a Parelli shirt). We finished up and asked the waitress about the check, and shes said, "Oh, that gentleman over there paid for your dinner." We were both really surprised, and hurried to thank him before we left. We chatted for a few minutes and he filled in some more of Julia's story for us, and Fleta told him how much she had enjoyed having Julia as an instructor.

By the time we left it was 8:45, and it was home and off to sleep. The forecast said its supposed to go down to 45, so I have piled all the blankets on, and hopefully I'll stay warm enough!