Journey to Idyllwild Part 2.

All Good Things………come to those who wait. And wait. Aaaaaand wait. 

So, I left America in the knowledge that I had my dream job secured. I was going to spend two years working for and learning from, arguably one of the best trainers in his field. I couldn’t believe my luck, and I was so excited, I felt so so lucky.

It turned out that I spent a lot longer than I had been promised by google, waiting for the visa to come through. It was an incredibly lengthy and complicated process, even with the help of lawyers. In this time I got the first job I could, with the main aim being to save up as much money as possible. This job unfortunately, was at a call centre. This outdoor gal did not so well cooped up in an office, getting shouted at by angry customers all day, because their broadband had gone down. 

It was tough, (I’ve never known time go so slowly). I was taking on so many shifts that I had no time for horses, but I had such an amazing end goal in sight, that I dragged myself through each shift, waiting, and waiting, for that magical email to come through, telling me to go to the embassy in London for the final interview. 

I watched on Facebook as my friends and colleagues in America went to more and more events, and did amazing things, and I was SO desperate to get back, particularly when month number 8 rolled around. 

I knew that the trainer I would be working for, had a BIG event planned for a few months time, he was competing in a colt starting competition, that I naively thought I would be already be back in the US for, and I really didn’t want to miss out on this one too. So, I took a risk, I was tired of waiting, I quit my job, jumped on a plane, and figured I’d spend a month or so back in the US, and then by the time I got home, SURELY, I’d have my magical email.

This decision as things turned out, probably wasn’t the wisest…however I’m not one to regret things, and it definitely made the next 18 months of my life interesting…

Curve Ball 

I arrived back in America in March 2018, I was reunited with my friends, and was back at one of my favourite places in the world. There was no doubt in my mind I had made the right decision in returning, it helped remind me of what I had spent all that time waiting for whilst answering angry phone calls in the call centre. 

I was in America a total of 3 weeks, when I was invited to go up to Canada with a few others to a horse expo in Toronto. The horses would be there doing a clinic and demos every day over the long weekend. I of course said yes. I had always wanted to go to Canada, and could not pass up an opportunity see a different country! So off we went. The expo was brilliant, we had a really fun weekend, and the horses performances all went really well. 

On the morning we were due to head back to Kentucky, we were up at 330am and had the horses loaded up and ready to go at 4am. I vividly remember getting up and feeding the horses very bleary eyed, it was also very cold, and I was ready to get warm in the truck and go back to sleep!

We arrived at the US. Border at Detroit at 9am, and that’s where my life took a turn in another different direction. ( A ‘curve ball’ of an unfortunate day if you will!) 

The short version of my time in the immigration office at Detroit, was that they kept myself and the two others I was travelling with (an Aussie and a Kiwi) there all day (from 9-6) with no food, access to a water fountain in another building, and interviewed us over and over again, asking what we were doing in the US. It turns out a car full of foreigners with horses in tow, and a horse trainer based in the states, made it look like we were working illegally, and they were not best pleased. We actually all happened to be visiting the trainer in the US for the big event previously mentioned, and we DID help care for the horses while we were on a jolly in Canada, and this was viewed as completely unacceptable. This day, was probably up there with one of the worst days of my life. We were treated and spoken to like criminals, and by the end of the day, when they FINALLY told us, nope, you’re not getting back in, I lasted about ten more minutes before I let myself lose all composure, and completely broke down. (This, by the way, happened after I was taken into a back room by two scary women in uniform, with no explanation of where I was going and why, and searched in a cell….thank god it wasn’t a cavity search…but definitely a more intimate one than you’d get in an airport!!) I was exhausted, and I think deep down I knew the future implications of what had just happened. My future visa I had been waiting so long to acquire, would now be in jeopardy. Not only was I devastated that I wasn’t going to get back to the ranch (where most of my stuff still was by the way!), I now would have to fight much harder for the visa, and I felt so, so, stupid. What had I been thinking?!

The other immediate problem, was that we had been kicked back to Canada, with nowhere to go. The trainer we were with kindly drove us back across the border, and dropped us at the nearest hotel. I remember watching the truck and trailer leave, and feeling completely heartbroken. It was horrible, and I remember feeling very small, very scared, and very lost, like a kid being left at school for the first time. I ABSOLUTELY cried again. I’m nearly crying right now just thinking of that exact moment. It was tough. Thank god I wasn’t alone, I still had my friends from down under with me, and we were in it together. I honestly don’t know what I’d have done without them.

We had a few days in the hotel figuring things out. Myself and the gal from New Zealand, had both left a lot of our belongings at the ranch, so we had to organise shipping them up to Canada (the Aussie guy had more sense it turned out!). We also needed to decide, would we all just fly home, or would we try and make lemonade out of lemons and see some more of Canada? We chose lemonade, and I’m so very glad that we did. 

We split our money and hired a truck, and drove all the way across Canada, from Toronto across to Alberta. It took a few days, and it was amazing. Canada is BEAUTIFUL, and filled with the best and loveliest people. We stayed with a horse trainer friend of a friend for a few weeks who had a new horse place in the prairies of Saskatchewan, and then finished up with another friend of a friend on a cattle ranch in Southern Alberta.

This ranch, is now without a doubt, one of my favourite places in the world, and the family we stayed with are the coolest, loveliest, and most welcoming people you could imagine.

 A working cattle ranch, it also features wide open spaces, mountain views, ALL the Canadian wildlife you can imagine, a beautiful river running through the middle of it, and of course working ranch horses. I felt so lucky to have ended up there, and still do to this day. Never mind silver linings, we had hit platinum!

I stayed on the ranch a total of three weeks, and in this time became very good friends with the ‘lady of the house’ Niki. 

Niki is a multiple award winning trick rider and performer, stunt woman, stunt double, stunt horse trainer, trick horse/liberty trainer and clinician. Her husband, is also a very successful Saddle Bronc rider, who amongst many, many other wins (you should see the trophy cabinet!) has also previously won the $100,000 Saddle Bronc Title at the Calgary Stampede. Told you they were the coolest. 

I was left completely inspired by Niki, and all that she had accomplished. She has done the most incredible (and sometimes downright dangerous!) things with horses, and was still completely down to earth and humble, ambitious, hardworking, willing to help others…and all while raising a family of boys, and running a very big and beautiful ranch house. She was a force of nature, and really was the ‘fire up my ass’ I needed, to not feel downtrodden, and keep pursuing my dream, despite the possible roadblocks that may come my way.

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  1. Lol I was so engrossed in your story… And then it stopped! What happened after Niki and how did you end up here in the UK? Are there other life-changing stories for me to read please?

  2. Hi Amanda!
    I’m so sorry I’ve only just got back to you!
    I did intend on publishing all of the journey in the blog, but I’ve actually decided I’m going to compile it all into a book eventually, so stay tuned!
    Thankyou for your message! 🙂

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