Charlie’s holiday | An Eventful Life

Charlie’s holiday

   Enjoying some typical American food in San Francisco

Well it has certainly been a while since my last blog and for that I apologise, but in all honesty I have been having too much fun (and I am really good at procrastinating). After finishing University in June I knew that a holiday was in order as I wasn’t quite sure that another one would come along anytime soon after entering the horse world full time. Mainly intended as a non-horsey holiday to the USA and Canada I did spend quite a bit of time riding as I got a little tired of just being a tourist.

   Fireworks in Venice Beach

Arriving in LA, I was able to spend 4th of July at Venice beach watching the fireworks, it was a very similar experience to Australia day where everyone enjoys the warm weather getting together for beers and a BBQ. My second night in LA proved to be just as eventful after catching up with fellow eventer Lauren Lim, I showed Beverly hills how to ride a mechanical bull at the Saddle Ranch after imbibing the best drink around, Ciroq. The next day before breakfast I again rode the mechanical bull, I could definitely get one of these set up at three day events for some good entertainment. After a plane crash at San Francisco I somehow managed to be interviewed by CBS LA about my thoughts on being delayed, unfortunately this did not lead to further T.V roles in Hollywood.

   Being interviewed by CBS in LA

Travelling from San Francisco to Seattle by bus was certainly an experience. 24 hours of travel time with 20 of those on a bus and 6 stuck next to a crazy grandma. Although it took a very long time it was definitely worth it to see the Pacific North-West (Northern California, Oregon and Washington State) which have much nicer countryside than the Southern States, at least during the summer. Moving onto Canada I stopped over in Vancouver before another epic bus ride, 14 hours through the Rockies, to Lake Louise. This place is breathtaking and although there was a slight risk of being attacked by bears it didn’t stop me enjoying the fresh mountain air while hiking. From there I hitched a ride to Calgary to meet up with a good Quebecois friend of mine for the Calgary Stampede. WOW what a show that is. It takes Rodeo to another level, with a massive competition held every day over a two week period. Not only is the competition on a large scale but the Albertans sure know how to throw a party, cue mechanical bull. Everyone wears cowboy boots and a hat regardless of what time of day it is. It is something that should be on everyone’s bucket list!

   Calgary Stampede

Flying to Montreal was next on the agenda and I was quite excited, not just to catch up with old friends but also to try foie gras, a distinctively French food that is very difficult to find outside of France or Quebec. I had seen Anthony Bourdain review Au Pied de Cochon 2 years ago on TV and made it my goal to one day visit that restaurant. It certainly did not disappoint although the food was so rich and heavy I could not even finish my generous serving of duck. The bill was about 7 times what I would normally pay for dinner while travelling but I regretted not eating quality food when I travelled in France 4 years ago so was going to make up for it on this trip. A dressage rider I met while working in Portugal last year picked me up one day and drove me out to Bromont, the equestrian venue where they held the 1976 equestrian part of the Olympics. It has a fabulous main arena with tiered seating built into the side of the hill with the very challenging cross country course stretching down the valley. A lot of the Americans make the trip up to this event and I have only heard good things so far.

Everyone talks about New York being an amazing place to visit, yet I was totally blown away by it. From the moment I arrived on the train it just takes things to another level. Staying in Manhattan was an experience and is definitely one of my favourite cities I have been to. After three weeks of travel, I needed to do some work and actually have something to get out of bed for, so I called up Australian expat eventer Kate Chadderton and went and visited her yard in Maryland. It was an amazing facility and Kate is really doing well for herself over there like all the other Aussies.

Read more about my time at Kate’s here

Other cities that deserve a mention have to be Nashville and New Orleans, both of which had an awesome live music scene and could easily have seen me spend weeks there. Slowly making my way back west to San Diego I made my way to a dressage/jumping yard that had three separate riders operating out of it where I was able to exercise a lady’s show jumpers for her. Although I only spent a couple days there it was great to do a bit of work as moving from one place to another every few days can become tedious. While at Kate’s I borrowed Dom Schramm’s breeches but in California I had no breeches and so had to ride at the posh yard in jeans with polo wraps on my legs for chaps, so classy.

Upon returning home, two of my young horses decided they are not going to cooperate in becoming eventers and suffered paddock injuries, luckily nothing major and they should be out competing soon. Two days after flying back in I rode the Barrel of Fun in his comeback at Somersby dressage for a win in the elementary. Obviously he had been very well prepared by my mum while I was away. Next stop was Mudgee ODE where I had Tallyho Second Chance entered. Although only having him for one week before the event and this being his first one he led from start to finish in the intro. Chance then backed up at Camden in the intro leading all the way to win again, this time by 10 penalties. He is really starting to strengthen up and he will have a bright future ahead when he reunites with his owner Laura Dennis who is completing her HSC at the moment.

   Timmy before his clear show jumping and subsequent win at Camden

At Camden Timmy Almighty ran in the Prenovice, although he won the one star at Berrima in June that was his first novice and with me having been away for so long meant he had not jumped in a while. Luckily my aunt had done some excellent work on his dressage and we led all the way coming home with 7 penalties in hand. He then did the one Star at Armidale a week later. The NEGS event is fantastic and I strongly encourage anyone who has not been to give it a go. The event is very spectator and horse friendly with excellent facilities, a massive indoor arena and very well built xc course. Unfortunately we could not quite handle the pressure after taking the dressage lead and had a couple of rails jumping in the indoor under lights. He did redeem himself being the fastest xc time and being under time for the first time this year to finish in second place. Due to a few factors I then ran Timmy again a week later at Scone in the one star. I do not usually run horses on consecutive weekends, but Timmy handled it very well and again led the dressage, we just were a little underpowered into the treble and had the first two down out of an otherwise pleasing round. It was a decent cross country course but again Timmy made light work of it coming home with only 1 time penalty.

Since arriving home I have been flat out with competing, breaking in a couple of horses (for racing, dressage and endurance!) and teaching with clinics at Mudgee, Bathurst, Hidden Valley and one at Avondale Pony club coming up. Amongst all this, I was somehow allowed to graduate from Uni which allowed me to reflect on the previous three and a half years spent juggling horses and study. It has certainly been a challenge with neither getting my full attention, yet horses definitely got a lot more than my assignments. Most people ask what I am going to do with a Political Science degree, “hang it on the wall” or  “horse-riding is very political” tend to be my first responses. So for the moment I will continue riding, breaking and teaching until I can cope with a “real job”. I also have a new project involving a horse coming together but more about that in my next blog.