Let me see, how exactly do I sum up the last eight months of my life? It’s going to be hard but I am going to give it a really good try, let’s begin.
On the 27th of August 2015, I got on a plane at O.R. Tambo, Johannesburg to fly to Auckland, New Zealand. I had no idea what awaited me for the next eight months ahead. I had kept a diary of my everyday happenings which turned into weekly and then monthly writing because I was either too upset to write or just too tired. I worked 24-7, with one day off every five days, plus a foaling night in between where we would foal five to six mares with no sleep and had to be at work at quarter to six that morning. It was definitely an eye-opening, life changing season in New Zealand for me. I gained immense knowledge for my field, and personal growth (and personal “death”) beyond what I thought possible.
Every farm that I have worked on have had their ways and their “traditions” and things they have done for generations as well as this farm. I don’t agree with half the stuff they do or how they run their business, but this job is about compromise and you will not learn anything if you keep doing things the way you were taught or the way everyone else does it.
Why fit in when you were born to stand out? Dr.Seuss
One of the reasons for doing seasons all over the world is to broaden your knowledge and the more you experience the better it is for your next job and the next and so on. For example, my New Zealand season I had done my first yearling preparation for the 2016 Karaka Sales in Auckland. To be honest, no expected at all. My contract specified that I would be “assisting” in yearling prep but I did not realize that is what I was going to be doing full time. I had only ever prepared a handful of yearlings in college but that was nothing compared to what was waiting for me in New Zealand. The only time I had worked with mares and foals was when the yearlings were out all day and there was nothing to do, plus the additional foal watch once a week which (by the way) was THE most excruciating foaling season of my life. I had never seen so many problems and experienced so much pain (personally) before. In the beginning of the foaling season we had had a death, orphaned foal, or dummy foal almost every week. In conjunction with trying to keep your horses alive and save a precious little soul you would have your spirit ripped from your chest, slowly and painfully, and crushed into a million pieces by a heartless human being whilst all you are trying to do, is do your best and do your job the best way you know possible. As usual I found a way to get through it, the funniest thing was EVERYONE felt the same, and I am glad I had those friends that was able to put a bandage on my wounds and I was able to carry on, even if it was only a single word, a friendly wink, or a reassuring smile…IT HELPED and it was all I needed. It wasn’t all moonlight and roses, I did experience the worst of the worst but I also experienced the best! I had the best foaling team, a wonderful kiwi man and a hilarious Irishman. Whatever we went through and whatever the season threw at us, there was always a pat on the back and a laugh at the end of the shift. Nothing brings you closer than laying in the rain stricken grass at one in the morning while it is still pouring down with rain and you can’t see more than three meters in front of you, your partners tugging on these spider long legs whilst I had a little face in my arms as we bring a new little champion into the world. People ask me why I love my job, and this is why…seeing this precious face as it has its first look of this world, as it has its first sneeze, as it tries to figure out how to use its legs. I just cannot put this feeling into words, there is a part of my heart and deeper; my soul which belongs to them.
I just cannot put this feeling into words, there is a part of my heart and deeper; my soul which belongs to them.
So, that was foaling. The yearling preparation was another adventure all to itself. It was a good experience but I wished it had been under different circumstances. It’s a pity that this had to be my first yearling prep, because after this one I thought that I would never be able to do another yet not one but many people told me that they had never done a season like this in their life. Every day was a struggle and there was not one day that went by that someone wasn’t crying or someone wasn’t made to feel like they were as useful as a handful of dirt. I am not going to elaborate much on the yearling preparation (due to many political and other reasons). Although, it was not the greatest of times, there were still good memories, there were still times that we had laughed until our stomach hurt and there were times were we made lifelong friends. I had learned to handle yearlings and one MAJOR thing that I had learned is that I am NOT too small, and I am NOT too weak to do this job, and I definitely CAN do ANYTHING! (Excuse the emphasis!)
I am determined that I will do another yearling preparation and I will do other sales which I WILL do well. This is not going to get me down; it was just a little hurdle on my way to the top. I did not just trip over this hurdle I fell over and face planted…but I have dusted myself off and I have got a new pair of trainers on, I am ready to get running again.
Overall, this season was a roller coaster season of ups and downs, of love and heartbreak, of friends and enemies, of trial and error, and of failure and success.
I must also say that I definitely made THE best out of my day off. I made sure that I was going to use EVERY single hour, every minute, and every second of that day to the best of my ability. I had done things that no one could every take away from me and made memories that will last a lifetime. After all, we are all writing a book through our life and I want my pages to be filled with the best stories ever written. I don’t want to look back in life and think, “I WISH I DID THAT!”
I thought I was finished writing but I just need to give some credit to the PEOPLE that I had met on my adventure. Two people in particular need more credit than I can give. This couple took me in as their own, they gave me transport in a foreign country, they gave me food, they have me a home, most of all they gave me love when I felt like there was no more love left in the world. I realized that there are still amazing people left in the world and I still cannot come to terms how you can do this for someone you don’t even know. There is only one explanation and that is they were more than human beings…they were my guardian angels and I hope that they read this because I don’t just owe them this thanks I owe them more than I could ever give.
As with every season you meet people from all over the world, this time one man in particular from Ukraine (out of all places) found a special place in my heart. We had a rocky beginning but I tell you, there is no one I would trust more with my life than that guy! He had always been there when I needed him and had the best pair of shoulders that could carry all his problems yet could fit all of mine as well.
As with my fair share of kiwi’s (remember the Nicolas Sparks guy in particular) there had also been an Irishman, there had been an English girl, there had been Japanese, and there had been people that have come and gone too quick to realize. Every one of them at an impact on my life and I just hope I had the same effect on them too.
It is just impossible to sum up so much in your life in enough words to make sense and yet not too many words that I bore you to death.
To summarize, if someone would ask me, “Would you do it again?” my answer would be, “YES, I would do it all again!”