Monday, 12 May 2014

California Part Three!

Tuesday morning I had arranged for a cross country lesson with Taren Atkinson, and James came out for the last part of it as well, so was very cool to get some feedback from both of them. I told Taren that if Sunny was being good, I wanted to school some of the Intermediate stuff, since it was all still decorated and flagged after the event. So we started out with some warm up fences and schooled a few of the prelim questions we'd had on course at the event. Taren had me really work on getting Sunny's balance more uphill on the approach to the fences, just the way she is built, she tends to gallop more downhill with her head really low, and sometimes likes to disregard what I'm telling her on course, thinking she knows better than me, so we sometimes have really flat and awkward fences because I can't get her to where I need her to be before the fence. It's a lot of work for me too as a rider, which is why I've been doing a bit of experimenting in the bit department lately.

Taren had me doing the prelim 9AB combination which had the A set on a downhill and the B set on an uphill. Taren was great, very honest and blunt, and it was hilarious, we were approaching it and she was yelling "LEG LEG LEG! COME BACK! COME BACK MORE!!! BE A BITCH ABOUT IT IF YOU HAVE TO!! SHE HAS TO LISTEN TO YOU!!!" Which is totally true, I need to be more of a bitch when Sunny isn't listening to me, haha. So then she had me come around to the Intermediate question, set in the same place, jump in on the downhill and then uphill to a skinny chevron out. And the first time around Sunny pretty much ignored me and went to blast over the first jump, got in WAY too close and hit the jump, but because she's a ninja she totally caught herself on the landing and galloped away like nothing had even happened. Meanwhile I had flown forward so my face was up somewhere near her ears, so I pushed myself back into the saddle and sat up and put my leg on and she absolutely launched over the chevron, she definitely wasn't touching it! So definitely not the ride I had planned at the moment, but it was a good example of Sunny just kind of tuning me out like she does sometimes.

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Sunny DID learn from that little mistake though, she started listening to me MUCH better after that, ideally though we'll not have to have to scare the pants off bystanders for that to happen in the future! Fixed our approach and did the combination a few more times, much nicer jumping in, but Sunny was still jumping the chevron out so huge though. Like those jumps you have where you go up and you are expecting your horse to touch down any second but they just keep on flying through the air and slowly start falling away from you........ Oh Sunny:P

Moved on to the one water complex, and that's when James came out. We couldn't do some of the questions because the footing wasn't the best in some spots, but we worked on the prelim line and improved my ride by balancing Sunny and getting her more uphill on the approach again and using my half halts better. Then Taren had me come in over the prelim trakehner and bend right to the advanced chevron, which was crazy skinny at the front. I screwed up the first approach and ended up to the left, not straight on, but there was no hesitation, Sunny dug right in and jumped it! Second time was much straighter and smoother. Was so proud of her, really, if Sunny wanted to use any possible excuse to NOT jump something, she had every opportunity to do so at that chevron, you had to super accurate and I wasn't at all the first pass, but she was totally game and jumped it anyways! Was SO proud and happy about that!

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Ended our session by jumping a wide Intermediate table, then a small vertical, 4 strides to the very wide Intermediate corner. It rode pretty decent, except Sunny jumped the corner a little bit to the left and I kicked the flag down, but she jumped it well so we called it good on that!

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Helmet Cam:

That session with Taren and James already confirmed what I had known before, what I need to work on if I want to keep moving up with Sunny. She will gallop and jump all damn day, but we need to improve her balance and rideability. Because jumps are getting bigger, and while we still can get away with Sunny ignoring me and tanking around on her forehand sometimes and having the odd awkward jump at prelim, things are going to be WAY less forgiving at intermediate. Sunny is so confident that I definitely want to keep her that way, I would hate for something stupid to happen to ruin that. So I need to get her galloping more uphill, and work on getting her to balance and come back to me quicker and easier before fences. Just in general get her way more UP in front. I didn't add it into the youtube video, but I actually let my helmet cam run through the majority of my ride, so I can go back and listen to everything Taren and James said and make notes. There really is very little question in my mind about IF we could do intermediate, but we do have a lot of things to work first to make sure we will be successful and safe when we finally make that jump. Intermediate is definitely not a level you can just go and kind of wing it or gallop around on a hope and a prayer! The dressage is another huge thing, everyone is SO good at dressage down here, it's kind of inspired me to buckle down and work harder, not just at home, but drilling the flatwork while we're out and about so Sunny can learn to go right to work no matter where we are or what's happening around her.

We planned to pack up right after and get on the road to Galway, but James offered to let Jenn hop on one of his horses before we left, "Goose". Well I didn't realize until partway through the ride that Goose was actually Gustav, James' advanced and Pan Am horse! Definitely goes to show that there's all types in eventing because he definitely looked like a oversized pony with gaits to match! Jenn was very grateful for something to ride, she flatted him and then James had her pop over just a couple small jumps, as Goose was just coming back into serious work. So that was pretty cool:)

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This was the day I actually found out about that video that was making the rounds on tv! Jenn and I had wandered out to watch Taren teach some xc first thing in the morning, and she goes "Hey, I saw you on tv last night!" And I so confused, I was like "Uh....what?" And Taren says "Yeah, you're helmet cam!" And I was like "..........What???" So she explains it was a segment called Right This Minute and the people were talking over my Copper Meadows helmet cam, and said she'd send me the video link. I was so shocked and confused, and then a light went on! On my youtube when we had stayed in the hotel, I had gotten a message from the Right This Minute people asking if they could use my video for their show. I skimmed over it but ignored it, because I get lots of random messages like that that aren't legit, but this one WAS apparently!! Lol. Taren sent me the link and when my stupid phone finally let Jenn and I watch it, oh man, we just about died laughing!!! So freaking hilarious, I couldn't believe it!! I posted it to my AlbertaEventer facebook page and everyone loved it! It was shared over 40 times and my reach was over 10000 people! So awesome, haha. My youtube also went absolutely wild with new subscribers and my google ads made $25 in the span of a couple weeks (usually I make around $100 a year) because of the exposure I got from that segment! So overall a very random but cool thing to have happen while I was down there:)

The link once again for anyone who missed it...

After that we packed up and hit the road to Galway! It was a pretty quick and quiet drive up, just over an hour. Once we arrived we had absolutely no idea where the heck we were supposed to go, we drove around a bit before finding our stabling which conveniently was right beside the other couple Albertans, haha. After we got the horses settled in, we said hi to everyone, parked the trailer, ate some supper, and called it a night!

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In the morning we took care of the horses and then went to find a Starbucks. Stopped by the tack store to pick up some eye hooks and snaps for buckets in the stall. Then we went back and I lunged Sunny, planning on riding her later that afternoon.

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First rides at a new place are always a bit *exciting* for Sunny. More so in California partly because I had her on more alfalfa than usual with the cubes we had brought down, so pretty sure that was firing her up quite a bit too. I had actually picked up a supplement for her that Jenn and I had seen and did a bit of research on while we were down there. I figured it couldn't hurt, and I have been kind of looking for sort of an all around type of supplement for her, since she is literally on nothing extra. No joint supps or anything. So I had just 3 feedings of this Mushroom Matrix stuff into her, and got on that day expecting major fireworks! Well Sunny was definitely very up, but I was so shocked and proud of her throughout the ride, even though I could feel she was freaking out on the inside, she managed to keep it together and we had a fairly decent ride! So not sure if it was completely all to do with the supplement, but she definitely seemed a little more relaxed and not quite as on edge as she usually is, so somewhat of a success I'd say?

Also got to watch a USEA high performance session on Wednesday afternoon, which was very very very cool! David O'Connor was coaching Gina Miles, Kristi Nunnink and Matthew Brown over some stadium exercises to prepare for the event.  photo IMG_6929.jpg

On Thursday I rode twice, once in the morning and then again in the late afternoon because I wanted Sunny to be a bit tired and needed her to have as much of a brain as possible for dressage Friday morning! It was kind of handy because they had all the dressage arenas set up but closed, but you could ride around them as much as you wanted. So I figured out which ring I was going to be in and spent a ton of time just riding around my ring, nice relaxed sitting trot, and figure eighting around them all so Sunny would figure they were an alright place to be.

They have the racetrack there at Galway which was very awesome and it was open for riding before the event, and I was so tempted to take Sunny for a gallop and helmet cam it, because really, when am I ever going to get the chance to gallop on a track surrounded by freaking PALM TREES??? If we had gotten there a day earlier I probably would have, but she was trying to hard to be so good with the flatwork that I didn't want to take her for a gallop and get her right riled up, and then have to contend with that on dressage day:P So next time for sure!!

Such a gorgeous place!!

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Galway had AMAZING suppers! Thursday was delicious italian food, and Saturday we had more incredible Mexican food.

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Friday morning rolled around and Jenn offered to braid Sunny again since her braiding at the combined training show had made Sunny zen right out, lol. I headed down to the warm up about an hour before my test and had a nice relaxing hack around on a long rein, and had a fairly good warm up.

Our test overall was definitely better than at Copper, at least Sunny wasn't totally flipping out the whole time, but we still have a long long way to go yet. Had a bit of a rough start though, before I went in I was trotting around the ring and they whistled for me to start. So I continued down to the end, and did a nice big relaxed circled to organize ourselves before entering and went to head in. I turned to enter at A and saw that someone had walked up behind the judges' booth and both the judge and the scribe had turned around to talk to them. I had a flash of "Oh crap, maybe that WASN'T my whistle..." and slammed on the brakes right before I entered the arena. Then the judge turned around and yelled "THAT WAS YOUR WHISTLE!!!!" And I was so flustered for a moment, I hurriedly trotted Sunny in a messy circle because I was running out of time, and started my test. So not exactly the nice start I would have liked, but Sunny was being pretty good for the first bit of the test, we did our 10m circles, and our first leg yield. Then we went to medium trot across the diagonal and Sunny broke to canter. I was like "CRAP!" because usually with Sunny once things go to crap, they usually stay crap. But she surprised me and settled back down and went back to work. The canter work wasn't the greatest, the working canter was passable but she was tense and tight through her back, and when she's like that, the absolute slightest change in my balance blows our counter canter. So that was a bit frustrating, since we do a ton of it at home and she is so good. Our final medium trot across the diagonal was better, we didn't break to canter at least!

I held my breathe as I waited for the online scores to be posted, I was like "Please be under 50, please be under 50...." because I was REALLY hoping for a qualifying score and I definitely was yelling and excited when they came up. 49.1!!!!!! HOLY CRAP THANK YOU LORD!!!!!!!! Talk about just skimming by:P Ugh. At least dressage is the easy thing in eventing to improve. Because if your horse just doesn't want to play on cross country, there's not much you can do about that:P You can ALWAYS improve the dressage.

Went to watch the 3 star and 2 star dressage after and was sitting there watching all the 2 star horses thinking that I really need to get my shit together, because everything in that test is stuff I do at all home *all* the time, and Sunny does it pretty well *at home*. In the sandbox away from home it's a whole different story though:P And we need to find a way to work on that, a LOT.

On Friday evening I walked my cross country one more time. The course overall looked fairly straightforward, which is usually the case when an event is offering the FEI levels as well, the regular divisions tend to be more towards the move up course side of things. The first water I felt was the only major question on course, our 8ABC combination. You jumped in over a canoe, landed in the water, up a little hill over a vertical, and then down the hill 4 strides to a sizeable brush corner, of course it was facing right, our nemesis all of last season. So I was honestly a little bit worried about that, but I knew that if I rode it correctly, we shouldn't have any problems, because Sunny was feeling great and we had schooled great and if I thought about things logically, we really had nothing to worry about, but of course our minds do not always think logically! Lol. I breathed a sigh of relief the last time I walked it, because in my silly little mind I had blown that little hill with the B jump on it up into some huge crazy steep thing, and when I looked at it in real life with was hardly a speed bump. So I had a bit of a laugh at myself about that, I was like "Seriously Jessica, GET A GRIP!" Lol.

Cross country day was a bit interesting! Had a pretty good warm up, they had several different cross country jumps for us to warm up over which was very awesome! A few mins later they called for me to head down to the start box, so I went down and was just walking around waiting for them to count me down. The last jump was about 50 feet from the start box and the finish line passed directly behind it. The starter called out "30 seconds!" to me, and I had just turned Sunny and saw a horse and rider coming over the last jump towards the finish line. The horse and rider missed their distance, crashing into the jump as they went over, and on landing the horse somersaulted over onto the rider. Not exactly what you want to be seeing just moments before you leave the start box!!!!!!!

So then the radios went wild and they were yelling to hold the horses on course and hold the start, because the horse had got up and appeared fine, but the rider was just laying there unconscious and not moving at all. Thank god they hadn't sent me out on course yet! The starter said I could go back and warm up more if I wanted and they'd give me lots of time to come back and start, but I said I was fine just walking around the start box, really just chilling and waiting around is the best thing for Sunny, patience is not really her strong suit, and she immediately goes to work, so I wasn't really concerned. So after a minute or 2 the rider started to move around and then she was able to get up and walk to a golf cart and they took her to the ambulance. The 2 horses currently on course had both gotten stopped at fence 12, so they let them finish before letting me start which was fine with me. The starter was a bit surprised that I didn't want to go back and warm up any more or jump one last fence before heading out. He was like "Did you want to go in a minute twenty five?" And I was like "I'm good whenever!" And he's like "Twenty five seconds?" And I was like "Works for me!!" He counted us down and off we went!

After seeing that rider crash I was definitely VERY aware that I needed to keep Sunny more up in front of the jumps!! I made Sunny add a stride to fence 1 to make sure she was listening, and kept a more conservative pace through the first part of the course. Fence 2 and 3 rode fine, and then you looped through a few trees and around on a little downhill to fence 4, and Sunny was totally ignoring me asking her to come back so we had a few moments of BITCH LISTEN as we approached it, lol. The bank 5ABC combination rode well, had a slight left drift through it but Sunny is dead honest and jumped the C element fine. Coming up to 6AB, a trakehner to a narrow jump on a bit of a bending line, it was one of those instances where I literally saw nothing for a distance, so I just sat there and let Sunny do her thing. She took off long to A and I got tipped a bit forward up her neck, but sat back and she hopped over the skinny no problem. 7 rode fine, and then it was onto the water!! Not wanting to make the same mistake as at Copper, I balanced her a bit but let her keep coming forward, knowing she would slow down and balance herself when she saw the water. Jumped in fine, cantered through the water and up the hill and I was already looking for the corner as we left the ground over B. Sunny was right with me and had already locked onto it, 4 perfect strides and she flew over it. I was absolutely over the moon and started yelling like a crazy person and heard Jenn cheering for me as well, I was like "Let's go!!!" and Sunny sped up about 5 more gears and I let her just run. We had a long gallop to 9, which, of course, she protested a bit about coming back for, and then rode beautifully through the coffin and over 11. Had a bit of a gallop to 12, and should've balanced her up a bit more because it was definitely an awkward jump:P 13AB was an angled combination with strategically places trees and with B set up on a little hill, it walked in a conservative 3 or a forward 2. We nailed the 2 and had a long gallop to 14, which Sunny jumped great. 15 was a log up on the top of a hill, which Sunny jumped perfectly, and then we went down the hill through the water, and 16 was a very tiny skinny log just coming out of the water, which I don't think Sunny even noticed until the last second, because we had a horribly awkward flail over it. 17 and 18 were straightforward boxes that rode well, but I definitely could have helped Sunny balance a little better over them, but they weren't anything anyone else probably would have noticed from watching me, that's just me being nitpicky!

Crossed the finish line with a quick glance at my watch and I was so freaking happy! THAT round was exactly what I needed to know I had the old Sunny back 100%!! The Sunny who absolutely ROCKED around prelim the first year we moved up, not last year's little niggling issues. Passed James Atkinson on the way back to the barn and he goes "Good round I hope?" and I replied "It was SO awesome!!!" Lol.

I think Jenn took some pretty awesome photos for only getting like a 2 minute crash course on how to work my camera!

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Helmet Cam

By my watch I had come in at 5 mins 18 secs, and I actually didn't find out what optimum time was before I rode. Usually Jenn and I wheel or gps the course together to figure out our minute markers, but since she wasn't riding she had no reason to, and I was lazy and didn't bother to do it myself. So I figured I'd just concentrate on riding and having a clear round, instead of worrying about time, and just go as fast or slow as I felt I needed on course. Found out later optimum time was 5:34, so we'd quite easily made it, which I was pretty sure of right after my round because I'd had a couple of long stretches between fences to gallop, and Sunny's natural cruising speed is pretty quick anyways. We've never had a problem making time at prelim, hopefully time will come easy at Intermediate as well when we eventually get there. I think that's partly why at the lower levels, Sunny was super difficult. Because all of cross country at training level and lower was basically one huge fight to keep her at a reasonable pace. She's still a bit like driving a car with the gas pedal stuck to the floor sometimes! Got her back to the stall, cooled her down, hosed her off and iced her legs.

Afterwards Jenn and I headed out to the cross country course to watch the intermediate, advanced, and 2* and 3* divisions go in the afternoon.

Got some wicked lunch at one of the food trucks that was there, that's one thing we thought of later, we should have took a few of our free days to go track down some of the food trucks in San Diego, because I know they have some amazing ones! Next time;) Anyways, our lunch on Saturday was Spinach Artichoke Grilled Cheese from the Two For The Road food truck. Holy cow it was RIDICULOUS good!!!!!!!! My first official food truck experience definitely gets 5 stars, haha.

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Jenn and I wandered around a bit, the course was so spread out and there was lots of interesting questions, so we definitely wanted to see as much of it as we could. We'd go to one section, watch some riders, move on down to the next section, watch some more, so on and so forth. Was very interesting see all the different horses, different galloping/jumping styles, different riding styles.

Sunday we were up early because my division was the first to go in the morning. A new part of my stadium strategy was a bit of a different warm up. Typically I wouldn't do much of a warm up, 15-20 mins tops, and maybe jump 5 fences. Sunny knows her job so I don't need to jump her legs off. Getting her focused and rideable has been the real challenge though, so doing a more comprehensive warm up on the flat, with lots of transitions, lateral work, and lengthening and shortening helped a lot with this. Sunny also gets pretty excited when she knows she's going to be jumping, so lots of focus on bend and really having her always moving into my outside rein was very important as well to keep her with me on course, instead of running off or cutting the corners before or after the jumps, with her thinking she knows where she's going. She's allowed to be hot and excited, but we needed to make that clear difference between the crazy ignore your rider type of hot and excited, and the hot and excited that is still focused on the rider and the task at hand.

The stadium course looked super fun! It was the same one as the FEI levels jumper the day before. It was fairly straightforward as far as course design, but there was lots of options for different lines to take and inside or outside turns, which I was really excited about, as that is something that is so totally foreign to us Alberta eventers! The time for the stadium at Galway was set just a little bit tight, so if someone needed to take more time and rode all the outside lines to have a conservative ride on their young horse, they would have a good round, and some time faults. If someone rode a little more forward, took some chances with a couple of the inside turns, they would have a good round as well, and probably not get time. I was a little bit surprised to see such a stark contrast between our Alberta stadium courses and the ones in California. No matter which way you chose to ride it, Galway's stadium was setting you up for success, to have a good positive round. Nothing funky or malicious to trick the horse or rider or catch them off guard. I didn't walk the stadium course at Copper because I didn't end up riding it, but thinking back there were several options and it seemed to ride fairly well as well. I liked that the courses in California were designed to build confidence and be sort of a stepping stone for horse and rider. But here prelim is the be all end all, so I think maybe we get a bit of the attitude that this is the highest level so it really should be a difficult test for everyone. Was very interesting to see the difference in the courses for sure.

Anyways, we had a decent stadium warm up and I felt Sunny was being pretty good. With Sunny I don't usually set an actual game plan for when I go in the ring, because she's so darn inconsistent 99% of the time. Sometimes she warms up great and then is a freak in the ring, sometimes she's basically unrideable in the warm up but magically grows a brain the moment we step in the ring. My current coach likes to joke that with Sunny I've had to learn how to ride about 5 different horses and have to able to "switch horses" at a moments notice, depending on what Sunny is like at that particular moment. Never a dull moment anyways! Basically I have to just go into the ring and ride whatever she gives me.

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Helmet Cam

I was pretty happy with our round overall! Sunny was very rideable and stayed with me through most of the course instead of taking over. I actually was able to take all the inside turns in the course, something I hadn't planned on doing when I walked it, but thought maybe I'd go for one or two later in the course if she was being good. But she felt great to 1 and 2 so I landed off 2 and asked for the inside turn to the left. I had seen a few riders the day before take the inside turn to the one stride combination, which was pretty tight, and while I didn't NEED to risk it, I thought I'd go for it anyways, because it's not often I'm riding the Sunny that is listening and CAN do the inside turns! Sunny was great, came right around, we had like 2 strides straight and she jumped it excellent! Did have 2 very minor rails, we had the second jump in the triple down, we got in a bit deep to the first element and she jumped it fine, but just rubbed the second out of the cups. And then fence 7 we had down, I didn't see the best distance and got in a bit deep to that too, and Sunny rubbed it as well. Nothing major, both time I feel like I could have maintained a better rhythm and balance on the approach and she maybe could have got herself out of the way a bit better, but hey, we weren't running away with ourselves or crashing through anything so I'll take it! I'd rather have 2 rails from 2 minor rubs in an otherwise great round, instead of a horrifying round that somehow leaves all the rails up. Definitely a big step in the right direction!!

Finished up in 14th and got the qualifying score I wanted, so all in all a successful event!

Professional photos link:

And I absolutely LOVE this photo but seriously why does that tree need to be in the way?? Argh:P

Right after stadium me and Jenn packed up to hit the road and start the very long (sad!) journey back home. Decided to do it in 3 days instead of 2, because our 2 day trip down had been pretty brutal with crazy long days.

We pulled out of Galway before noon and headed to Vegas. Got the horses settled in at Horseman's Park in the late afternoon and then Jenn and I set out to do a little bit of exploring!

Caught a little lizard in one of the stalls!

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Also made a small friend one evening at Copper :) I am one with the animals, haha.

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We wandered up and down Fremont Street for a while, which was very interesting. Nearly got run over when we didn't notice the crosswalk lights for pedestrians at the first street crossing, we just kept walking and a car swooshed past in front of us, and we stopped, and turned around to find more traffic behind us totally stuck right in the middle of the street with cars flying past on both side of us. Had a bit of a "AHHHHH WHAT DO WE DO????" moment, before running back to the original side of the road in a lull in traffic, but both us and the rest of the people waiting at the crosswalk found it pretty hilarious!

There was definitely lots going on on Fremont Street, but there were so many beggars and buskers and things that were trying to get your attention, you wanted to look but it's like you couldn't look right at any of it or else you felt like you were obligated to give money, haha. Got rid of some of out spare change in the slots while we were there, since we had accumulated a whole bunch of it over the past few weeks. It was still daylight when we were at Fremont Street, saw the overhead light stuff which was kind of neat, but overall we found it a little bit odd. We would have liked to sit down to just people watch for a bit but there was literally nowhere to sit down, unless you went in a restaurant or casino. Definitely lots of awkward drunk people as well! Lol.

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Then we headed over to the Bellagio, it was just getting dark and I was driving through all the crazy buildings and lights and stuff which was neat. Trying to find a parking spot for the truck was kind of hilarious, but we got it done eventually! Walked through the Bellagio, saw the fancy ceiling and gardens and stuff, then wandered out to the fountains. It was dark by the time we got there, so we just found a spot and gawked at all the buildings and lights while we waited for the fountains. Once it got dark I liked Vegas a LOT more. There seemed to be a whole different energy once the sun went down.

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So the fountain show was AWESOME!!!!! And I'm so weird, most people I'm sure are just like "Oh how neat and beautiful, etc etc etc" and I'm just like "Holy crap, I need to know what the heck kind of pumps they have to shoot that water that high in the air!!!!!" It was absolutely amazing, sounded like gunshots. I've found a documentary on it that I need to watch. I need to know about the science!!!!

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We stayed to watch a second fountain show and then decided we'd better start heading back to the horses so we could get to bed a decent time as we were planning to be on the road again by 6am. There were several other things we would have liked to go see but we were only there for an evening so not a lot of free time! A few people had said that we absolutely HAD to eat at an In N Out though, so we stopped at one for a quick bite on our way back. And it was alright, very cheap which was right up our alley, but we couldn't really see what all the fuss was about. Found out later that they have a secret menu, which may have been helpful to know about beforehand, lol. So maybe we'll give it another try next time!

Monday was a sad day, as I knew it definitely wouldn't be shorts weather when we arrived at our destination in Idaho!! We stopped for fuel just before Idaho Falls and there was snow on the ground so sadly I had to take off my sandals and put shoes on. When we got to the farm where the horses were staying for the night, the guy there was a big jolly guy, I get out of the truck and he just starts laughing at me going "Why the hell are you wearing shorts????" And I'm like "We just came from California and I'm in denial!!!!!"

Sunny wonders why it is getting colder...

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The place was great though, had the stalls all bedded and water buckets filled for us, just had to unload the horses and throw some hay. We headed back to town to find a hotel, since it was going to be -15C that night, and the trailer was definitely not insulated so we could have absolutely froze. Found an awesome hotel that had free supper, 4 different kinds of awesome homemade soups, salad, garlic bread and breadsticks, and they had fresh homemade cookies right out of the oven! So we definitely ate as much as we could before heading to bed.

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In the morning there was frost and ice all over the truck when we left the hotel, and it was freaking cold! You really notice the cold a lot more going from hot to cold weather, vs being stuck in it year round pretty much! It sucked:P Loaded up and the rest of the drive mostly went off without a hitch, aside from the incredibly close call we had in Montana. Some drivers are crazy and must have a death wish. Ugh.

First stop back in Canada? Gotta be Tim Hortons!!

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I definitely wasn't that happy to be back home. Overall was an amazing trip and I don't think I can make it happen to go back down this fall, but that just means I can save a bunch of money and go down for longer next spring. We'll see what happens. I feel like since I have a horse that is definitely game for more, I'd better take advantage of that while I can!!

So we'll see what the future has in store for us!