So I'm not sure where to start with this journal so I decided to start with an intro of myself and the people I'll mention in this journal. Consider this first post a glossary of sorts, I'll update with new characters as I introduce them.
Alaina: This is me! I am an American living in Christchurch, New Zealand. I moved here I wanna say about a week before the December 2011 quakes. The 17th? Sounds right. Before this I lived in Eldridge, Iowa near the Quad Cities. My first plane ride ever was to New Zealand and it was major suck, I'm not looking forward on going back to America to visit anytime soon.
Blind Ben: My affectionate nickname for the sorrel Lone Arrow horse I take most of my lessons on. He is in fact blind in only one eye, and the other eye he can see fine out of. However his favorite game to play is "run into every possible thing I can and see how long it takes before the rider gets off". He has not succeeded yet in scaring me away, in fact, I prefer to ride him over any other horse. He has the worst ground manners I have ever seen in a horse, but once you get on he's very responsive and willing.
Charlotte (Cjay): My soon to be sister-in-law. Very artistic and the same age as me. We have a lot in common so she's a good friend to have here in New Zealand.
Christopher (Chris): My fiance and partner in crime. He's a Grade A tinkerer and loves to mess with things. In his free time he takes apart clocks, radios, cars, anything really and puts them back together or improves them. He's very good at custom projects and also has quite a knack for woodworking. He works as a full time mechanic at Avon City Ford.
Dolly: My horse back at home in America. I miss her something terrible and want to save up to bring her home to me in New Zealand.
Helen: My soon to be mother-in-law. She's very nice and extremely motherly. She can also be very talkative.
Jack: The least favorite horse of ours to ride. He does not respond to any cues you give him to go faster. In fact, I don't think he CAN go faster than a slow walk.
Peter (Pete): My soon to be father-in-law. Polite, nice to talk to.
Zeus: The best horse to ride by far, he's Chris' regular mount. A stocky brown thoroughbred. His only downfall is his last owner was afraid of him and always got off when he sidestepped. So now when he's feeling stubborn he'll sidestep all over the place to try and get people off. Pretty silly I think, someone being afraid of a horse taking a step to the side.
The weather's been lovely this week, nothing like all the rain and clouds last week.
I have some pictures of our lesson last week. I can't begin to say how grateful I am that Chris has decided to take lessons with me regularly. I feel so great having another beginner there with me to help me feel confident.
Chris doesn't have very much interest in going anywhere when it comes to riding. He just enjoys riding for an hour every weekend and learning the basics of riding and about horses.
I on the other hand am very keen to learn everything I can about riding. I have a list of things I need to work on that I am building up as time goes by:
- Balance: I have no natural balance. DX
- Legs: I have a tendency to put them forward. So I'm really working on getting them back and under me.
- Heels: Down down down! I'm getting better at this but I occasionally lose it in the trot and then get thrown even more off balance than I am naturally.
- Shoulders: I'm normally pretty good about keeping my shoulders back and my spine straight, but I can occasionally lose that when I get off balance in the trot. I throw myself forward and end up in a horrible slouch.
I think there are some other minor things I need to work on as well, but those four are the major things I'm working with myself on. Especially the bottom three as getting those right will greatly improve my balance.
Last week's lesson was okay, but not what I hoped for. Ben is normally very responsive and so I don't have to worry about getting his butt in gear and can focus more so on my position. However this weekend it took everything I had just to get him to move! He was sooo derpy this weekend he even halted quite quickly when I gave the cue and normally it takes him forever to halt because he wants to move, move, move. It was a drastic change from last week when he was so antsy I had to be led to the round pen. Of course then when we went to work in the round pen we had to weave through the flags at a trot and THEN he decided that would be a good time to canter. So instead of weaving we had a few misses as he started into a canter, forcing me to have to bypass the flags. Not to mention when I finally did get him to trot he deliberately veered away from where I was directing him to run straight over all three flags. Ugh, he can be such a butt sometimes, but he's lucky I know that he's just doing it to put me off. He can be a dream at times and a nightmare at others.
Aside from horses life is going well, if a bit rocky. The 1999 Rover SLi620 has failed its warrant and is off the road until further notice. The 1978 Mini 1000 no longer idles and instead just dies. The 1939 Wolseley 12/48 isn't registered or warranted at this time. So that leaves the 1963 Rover P5 as our only reliably functioning car at the moment. Good thing though as the Old Rover is a good old car. However, it has Chris completely put out. He was slapped in the face with a $2500 bill to get the New Rover back on the road again and now this with the Mini? We're also in the middle of saving for a very hefty lawyer's fee to get my residency in December. All this on top of the fact that Chris was moved to a different workshop and it sucks big time.
So Chris is feeling quite down, but I on the other hand am feeling optimistic. One reason why we work so well together is I can see the bright side of everything.
Cyberpets, Animates Papanui, and Animates Tower Junction are all hiring at the moment, so I've sent my CV in to all of those places. Not to mention Proud Paws is moving from Northlands to Cranford Street just around the corner from us! They're moving to a bigger store and will be hiring quite a few part time employees. So fingies crossed I can get a job at one of these pet stores. Ideal as I only really have experience working in pet stores. >>
My parents hooked us up with free wedding bands! That puts a huge relief on us since we don't want to spend any more money than we need to when it comes time for the wedding in October. My ring is my mother's old one and Chris' ring is a solid gold band that belonged to my great-great-great grandmother. I have high hopes that it won't take much resizing as the ring is so big it falls right off my dad's fingers. Hopefully they will be on their way from America soon.
I've been doing a whole lot of studying on schools and how to get in here in New Zealand. I want to do certificates in the order of Animal Care --> Veterinary Nursing --> Rural Technician. I'd like to do part time/distance studying with Otago Polytechnic so I can still work full time. Chris wants to go back to SIT and go for training to be an electrician. I would love for us to be able to get into these courses. It will bring us that much closer to our goal of living on a small acreage near Oamaru.
Another weekend, another horse riding lesson. Ben was being good today, I was very happy with him. The instructors say all the time, "This horse is so frustrating." or "I can't stand this horse."
I feel quite badly for poor old Blind Ben. I've even heard someone say that Ben won't be around much longer. If I had money I'd happily take him, but Dolly's my heart and I need to focus on getting her here as well.
So anyway, back to the lesson. We worked on trotting and some cantering. Shoulders back! Ugh, I drive myself nuts with it, I think it's because my back is out of alignment and the discs sit together like this < instead of like this =, if that makes sense.
So I was working really hard to keep my shoulders back and boy did my back hurt afterwards, my spine feels bruised. But I really enjoy coming out of a lesson feeling worn out, it makes me feel like I'm getting somewhere.
Ben was a bit difficult to get going at first, but after a bit he got going. I think he's more blind than they think he is. He stumbles a bit and loses himself, I think he's losing his confidence. He's often a little shaky at first and doesn't respond well to my cues, but once he gets going in the lesson and figures out what it is I want from him and where everything is he becomes very responsive.
So at the end of the lesson we were getting them to stretch their legs over the trotting pulls and a trot over a very low cross-rail. So of course Ben refuses to trot and instead hesitates before walking forward over both the trotting poles and the cross-rail, but suddenly on the last go he starts cantering and despite my attempts to slow him down jumps the cross-rail! Now, I have never jumped or attempted to jump on horseback in my entire life. So you can imagine, not knowing what to do or how to position myself, I basically just tried not to fall off and guess what? I didn't fall off. I was so proud of myself, my first jump was not professional or probably even successful in any way, but I managed to stay on the horse.
Maybe not the most impressive thing in the world, but I'll take it. However, on to the biggest news. I have a job! A day after I got a very depressing e-mail from Animates telling me I was not worthy of a position there I got a call from, guess who? Animates Tower Junction! The next morning I got in for an interview and later that evening I was offered a full time job, Tuesday through Saturday. So now hopefully in a little over a week I'll be working. I have to wait for a letter of job offer to come in the mail along with forms to fill out, I also have to get an IRD number. But fingers crossed I start making money soon!
If all goes well within three years I'll be greeting Dolly here in Christchurch.