The big day arrived. We started at the tack shed about 2:30... 10 girls in flouresent yellow dresses, and one boy in a matching shirt... The "highlighter riders." With our horses around us we stood in a circle and prayed that everyone could stay calm, put their horses first, and that the rain would WAIT. After an Amen and a cheer, we headed through the creek and up the hill to a crowd of almost 50 people. First up was jumping rope. The horse "held" one end of the lead rope while one of the people turned the rope on the other side. All the kids and a lot of moms took turns jumping. Sharla did a lesson with one of the girls and a couple stood and groomed the "grandmothers" of the horse herd. Then my faithful Flicka stood while two of the girls bounced a huge green ball to each other over her back. Then it was Bravo and his owner's time to shine. Flicka and I did some patterns with them on the ground... Weaving through barrels, figure 8s, then had them stand on a big tire pedestal together. After that we stood on the pedestal and had the horses do circles together around the tire, passing the ropes to each other like pros. Then Bravo's girl showed how she had been building his confidence with the big green ball (her favorite part) by bouncing it while walking away from him, then stopping to let him smell it.
The grand finale... Miss Sharla, Miss Courtney, and the 2 graduates of the program... My sis Adri is one. One of their horses was completely wild 6 months ago, and Miss Courtney's horse was unridable when she got here in the spring. Even Adri's horse had a lot of brace when we started practice. They had high ambitions for this drill team, and when I got here 3 weeks ago Courtney was only walking the pattern and leading her horse. The others were having lots of problems too. So they decided to try a less direct line approach, and we have been riding hours starting with simple things like trotting along a fence, then slowly building to the fancier stuff. They finally rode the whole pattern for the first time last night, then once this morning. And let me tell you it was amazing. They did a bunch of patterns; my favorite was a figure 8 where they all crossed paths in the middle. Adri's horse tripped in a hole, and I was so proud of her because she jumped straight off to see if her horse was hurt. Thankfully Chici was OK. They ended with the "victory lap" a nice controlled canter around the pasture, and came back to face the crowd and a great round of applause. We ran back to the barn as the sky opened up into a torrent of rain.
Back up in the garage, we started out with the family teamwork games. In the pipe game, each person gets a length of pipe, and the first person gets a ping pong ball. The families race to see who pass it along the fastest without dropping it. Trust falls were next... Some of these kids can panic at that one, but everyone did well today. Out came the "skis"... My favorite. You have to long boards with 3 strings handles attached, and so 3 people stand with a foot on each ski. The leader calls out "left foot, right foot" and the group walks along in sync... Or tries to but it's quite discombobulated at first. The water balloon toss had to happen on the long front porch because it was still raining. At the end, it turned to a water balloon war, and I can't say I wasn't involved. The rain was still falling, but Miss Sharla decided the last thing in the plans could not be omitted. In a loud, authorative voice she said, "I want everyone to follow me." The ranch kids of course did as they were told. The parents and children reluctantly meandered after, making lots of comments and asking things like, "What are we doing NOW?" They soon found out that what we were going to do was the famous "rip and snort." The kids took out first, screaming as loud as they could and running as fast and far as they could until they gave out. The funniest part happened next... The parents had to rip through the rain, screaming or roaring in some cases, to where their children had stopped. It was truly. funny. What a stress reliever! Everyone huffed and puffed their way up to the hill for supper, and I exited for a well needed shower.
Supper was pulled pork sandwiches, with homeade ice cream and two amazing graduation cakes done by Sharla's niece. Everyone sat as families, because that's what this weekend is about. Side note, it was still raining and would you believe it? Cold. In June. People drank more coffee than coke and Adri passed out all her hoodies to people.
Picture a long back porch, with families... Over 50 people... Sitting in rows all the way to the back, and in the front, a step up, is the "stage." The mic is set up, the string lights are twinkling, and in the back hangs a huge drop cloth painting that says, "Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle." The 7 ranch kids, Miss Courtney, and Miss Toews are now dressed in their spiffy program clothes. They tell the story of the blind horse whose owner tied a bell to his pasture mate's halter. The blind horse always had a friend to follow. It was so fitting for a place like this... These children are here to learn about trust and relationships. There was one graduate, and she picked the song, "I Choose to Trust." It was beautiful and I almost cried, because again, that's why we're all here. Everyone there tonight has things that they could unload and give to God. We are all working towards that... Looking more to him for our security and less to ourselves and the control we think we have over our lives. We heard some very inspiring closing words before the graduation: 1 Corinthians 13: 8: Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. It is so easy to "prophesy" or predict how we think our life should go. We think we know so much. But life will never be without surprises. We have to make plans, live our lives with confidence, but know that those things can vanish so quickly, and if we are holding to tightly to them, we will be in big trouble. The one thing that will never change is God, his love, and the peace he gives.
Mr. Todd managed to get everyone out of there by 8:30 so Miss Lora could get her girls to bed. I've been waiting on the copier at school to finish some papers for tomorrow... The parent workshop goes from 8 A.M. to 9:00 P.M. for the next 2 days. So pray for the 100 people that are taking part; that they can relax and have clear minds, and that what they hear this weekend can come back to them when they need it the most. (This parent workshop is one a program called Circle of Security. They do a different one every 4 months, and they are open to anyone who would like to learn ways to be a better parent. They are led by Ms Kharma, the therapist the ranch uses.) I think we head home Sunday... If I can get my truck out of Sharla's yard... The tree is still blocking the driveway. We have two horses, two vehicles, and 4 people to ge home. I've had such an awesome stress relieving 3 weeks here. I feel like a different woman that I was when Rich Hill school ended. Looking forward to some time at home with my Mom now! Good night!