CJ - Having spent a few days in Sydney, meeting up with Bexta again, then off on a 2 day surf camp which was good (but lets just say I enjoyed the surfing but am going to stick to the many other hobbies that I currently have for time being!), I then headed off into the outback to a place called Tamworth to do my Jilleroo course!! A Jilleroo for those of you that I haven't told yet or don't know is a female cowgirl, and a Jackeroo is a cowboy!! Well me being an outdoor country girl, and missing my horses etc, had heard that you could train to be a cowgirl and possibly get work on a ranch afterwards, decided to have a go, so I signed up for a 5 day course at a place called Leconfield Farm which is a well known Jackeroo/Jilleroo School run by a man called Tim Skerret.
The location of the school is about 1hr out of Tamworth, right in the countryside with no tv or mobile reception which was a bit strange at first but then nice to not have that bother etc. Over the 5 day course we were shown and learnt how to do all the skills required by a Jackeroo/Jilleroo on a ranch. Upon completion of the course we were then all given references which will help us to get future work if we so please!
The main focus of the course and the school is how they train their horses, which is through a method called 'Natural Horsemanship' which has been adapted from the Parelli method (for any horsey people!). It basically means that they use completely natural ways to train their horses, so no whips etc, and the horse it seems end up wanting to do things rather than being forced to do things. For me it was very interesting but also very hard as I have been taught to ride and train horses very differently. A lot of the natural horsemanship I agreed with and wished you could implement it in Europe (you would get laughed at if you tried though!!), but there were certain aspects of it that I didn't totally agree with. For the duration of the course you were given a horse which you would look after for the duration of the course, and practise the Natural Horsemanship on which was good. Although, being one of the more experienced riders on the course I was given Rod, an ex dressage horse, who had only being at the ranch for a couple of weeks. A lovely horse but not really trained the 'Natural' way, so you could say it was a bit like the blind leading the blind in terms of riding and using the correct horsemanship skills!!!
In terms of the actitivites and skills that we took part in/were taught throughout the week, included:-
- Whip cracking
- Shoeing horses
- Natural horsemanship
- Herding cattle
- Calf wrestling
- Sheep husbandry
- Sheep shearing
- Slaughtering a sheep
- Building fences and general maintenance
- Looking after the pastures
- Swimming with horses
Each activity was great fun as you can see by the pictures. Some areas I excelled, others you could say I needed to work a bit more on!! And yes I did watch a calf being castrated (without any anesthetic!!!), and dare I say that that evening the testicles were then cooked on the bbq and served up as part of dinner!! If I hadn't have known what they were I would have thought that I was eating a bit of fatty sausage!!!
And for those of you that don't know I didn't quite finish the course, I made it until the last day, but then I got myself into a bit of trouble, well you know how accident prone I am!! We were swimming our horses in the river on the last day - we were told to lead them into the river along the river bank (bare foot which was a problem as I kept thinking my horse, Rod was going to stand on me!!) and then when we got to the deep part we were supposed to push the horse left and then swim beside them (you couldn't ride them as some horses couldn't cope with having a rider on their back with it being quite deep in areas etc), except Rod got a bit confused and instead of going left, jumped right out of the river onto the river bank and in front of me. I stupidly kept hold of the reins as I didn't want him to run off and then got the force of his back shoe on my hand which consequently sliced through my little finger on my left hand (and for those of you that have known me for a number of years, it was the finger that Edward bit the top off!! So that poor finger is getting smaller and smaller!!). I then spent the next 5 hours in Casualty having it x-rayed and stitched back up and ended up with 5 stitches and 2 fractures!! We can safely say that my parents are now going greyer and greyer with each hospital episode I or my sister tell them about!! The stitches are off now but I do apologise if there are any spelling mistakes or typo errors in this, as my hand/finger is still a bit tender!! But a very enjoyable week in the outback!!!