Thursday, 30 July 2015

Into the US of A

Monday June 8th and the day Pat drove Lady and me into the USA.   Here are Pat and Marlene with the trailer carrying Lady just before we set off.
Pat was another guardian angel in guiding me through a bureaucratic minefield and getting Lady and me safely across the border.  He refused to accept any payment for all his time and trouble apart from some petrol money. Thank you both for all your amazing hospitality and help!!!
I will miss Canada. The support I have received all the all the way from my start at St John's Newfoundland has been overwhelming, and has strengthened my faith in human nature.
We arrived at customs about an hour early, and had to wait until our fixed time to present my immigration papers.  The veterinary office is about 10 kms from the border and they do not allow the journey to take any longer than the allotted time to arrive at the vet appointment!  But we sailed through the customs office and vet office without any issues, and were soon on the road to my base for the next few days, Rick Dubay's Phoenix Farms in Fort Gratiot.
Because of the thunderstorms that had hit the area in the previous few days (thankfully they had not affected me while I was riding) most of their lovely paddocks were flooded, and the bullfrogs had moved into the resultant swamp!
Lady had a stall, and Rick's daughter Amy DeLange kindly let me camp in their basement, where there was a comfy sofa and plenty of plug points. She also drove me into town so I could sort out a cell phone for America, and buy the Michigan map book I had been unable to find in Ontario.
Amy is a child psychologist, and with husband Mike has three lovely sons, Tyler, Dakota and Luke. Unfortunately the photos I took during my stay were lost when my laptop malfunctioned on the way home.
Tuesday June 9th  and in the morning I rode down to the Port Huron side of the Bluewater bridge to officially start the US leg of my journey...
Where I had had a farewell meet and greet in Canada, Amy now held a welcoming meet and greet in the USA, and I was bombarded with pertinent questions by the boarders!
Wednesday June 10th was mainly spent planning my route, though in evening I had a treat when I was given the privilege of riding Luke's highly trained cutting quarter horse Skeeter who had won around $100,000 in cutting competitions. 
Cutting horses are trained to work cattle on their own, and in cutting competitions once the horse and rider have separated a cow from the herd, it is left entirely to the horse to keep it separated, and the team is judged on how well the horse performs.
The following clip will give you an idea of what is involved -
 Instead of a steer, for training purposes Rick uses a remote controlled 'flag' which whisks to and fro along the side of the indoor school. Having seen Luke in action, I pleaded with Rick not to whisk the flag too far or too fast!   But first I had to practice riding Western style which was a challenge in itself as it is so different from riding English style. I was terrified of pushing the wrong buttons on a highly trained and speedy horse!  Actually riding Skeeter while he worked the flag was a memorable experience, not least for poor Skeeter himself who is no doubt still shaking his head.

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