March and April were set to be promising months, with a clinic booked with my coach Dani Keogh for early that month, and then a holiday in early April to enable us to travel down to the Sunshine Coast to attend a clinic with none other than Brett Parbery! However, Cyclone Debbie was lurking off the Coast of Queensland, creating stifling humidity the only respite for which was the torrential rain. You know, the type of rain that has you wondering if you will ever ride again. With no access to an indoor arena, myself and the other organiser made the decision the evening before Dani was due to fly up that we would have to postpone. With that decision made the equestrian gods decided to have a good laugh at our expense and the following day dawned sunny and perfectly cloudless. I guess this was still better than not being able to ride at all!
Despite having lived cyclone prone area’s such as Darwin and Mackay for more than half of my life, I have successfully avoided a direct hit from a cyclone, until now. In the two days leading up to the arrival of this mammoth system, the cyclone showcased its tremendous force by sucking nearby rain into its system – the result was skies which were sunny, lulling residents into a false sense of security. While my non-horsey colleagues were nervously excited, I was just nervous, not because I was scared that we would suffer damage at our house, but rather because I feared for my horse’s safety. Ultimately, we were incredibly fortunate and did not bear the brunt of the cyclone. We experience large amounts of rain and strong winds causing inconvenience in the form of fallen tree’s across the road and minor flooding preventing us from getting out to see Nonie for a full 24hours.
In the wake of Cyclone Debbie I gained a new appreciation for some of the ‘basic’ things that make everyday life with horses much easier. You know things like electricity and running water. After three days of consistent rain it was inevitable that Nonie with her exceptionally sensitive skin would develop a bit of rain scald. The lack of running water meant that I had to hand wash these spots on Nonie.
On the first day that I was able to ride post cyclone, I was late leaving work. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue so I didn’t rush. It wasn’t until Nonie was saddled up with the sun fast sinking behind the hills that I realised I had a slight issue, lights only work if you have power! This made for a very quick ride indeed! All in all, we were safe and had suffered little damage so there was nothing too much to complain about.
The next event on the agenda was a clinic on the beautiful Sunshine Coast with Brett Parbery. When my regular coach Dani announced that she would be hosting Brett for a clinic over Easter, my only hesitation was to make sure that I was able to secure the time off work. It wasn’t until Brett commented on my commitment to travel 10+ hours for two lessons, that I realised that this might not be normal. I can only explain this by one, my love of learning to ride and two, equine induced madness. But within about 15minutes of the first lesson starting I realised that they would be worth every kilometre and cent.
For day one, I wore my Emerald green Wilson Equestrian Super stick breeches, which despite multiple wears over the past 7 months still look wonderful, and never fail to garner a compliment or two due to their brilliant colour. We worked on straightness in the canter and then had a look at the flying changes and walk pirouettes. I was pretty chuffed to hear Brett say that we had the walk pirouettes under control as these have been something I have not found particularly easy to ride.
On day two, I wore my Navy Wilson Equestrian Super Stick Breeches, these offer the same excellent stretch as the emerald version with the added bonus of not showing up dirt or slobber marks. I have also been impressed by my Wilson Equestrian Italian Leather reins which despite being used most day for almost 12 months are in great condition and are still super soft. We again worked on the straightness in the canter, counter canter and working through shy’s. Nonie has worked in Dani’s arena on a number of occasions, but this weekend one corner was home to something particularly offensive, which just so happened to be invisible!
Brett made several changes to my position and there were more than a few light bulb moments over the two lessons. What really struck me about Brett’s approach to training horses is the importance of keeping it simple.