I've had lots of thoughts and impressions about the first Parelli Rendezvous; I also have lots of suggestions and ideas to help make it better! That's not to say I didn't have a good time because I had a GREAT time despite being confused and overwhelmed at times. I'll try to explain!!
Check in, when we arrived at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center, went pretty smoothly even though we had a bit of a wait in line to check in. My horse was fine in the trailer, but my friends horse was getting more and more upset the longer we had to wait. I think things might have run smoother if we'd just had to show our paperwork and come back later to get all the other information. Even better would have been a couple of representatives at each barn to do the intake and give info. I was fortunate with my timing that someone was at the barn to unlock our stalls quickly; I know other people had to wait or go get someone.
I was a bit disappointed that sign-ups were first come, first served. The reason I say that is I sent my money for my spotlights and tournaments in with my registration paperwork so I expected I would be able to participate in those activities I signed up and paid for. That was not the case; two mornings in a row, I arrived at 8:30 a.m. or slightly later and some sign-ups were already full. I had paid for an online and liberty spotlight but never got to do either one. I'd also signed up and paid for an online tournament and didn't get to do it either. I did get to do the liberty tournament I paid for but had I known it was going to be in an open arena and not a round pen, I wouldn't have signed up for it since our liberty is not that advanced!! Another part of the problem with the spotlights and tournaments was there were limited spaces so they filled up quickly and everything seemed to run really late. When events ran late it made for being late for the next event I signed up for. I sometimes missed the next event entirely or had to cancel. Organization also seemed to be a huge problem; even the people running the events seemed unsure of what they were supposed to be doing. When I arrived at the Rendezvous, I was given 5 tickets representing the events I'd signed up and paid for but I was never asked for a ticket at any event. I think lists should have been provided with the names of those that paid for an event already on the list then extra spaces for those that wanted to try the event but hadn't paid to sign up in case of cancellations or extra time.
The food at the concessions was good and I was happy to see fresh fruit available for those that wanted it. I brought most of what I wanted to eat because I wasn't sure what would be available and I didn't want to exist on burgers and chips for the weekend. On Saturday night, an announcement was made that dinner would be available for Rendezvous attendees to enjoy during the bonfire. I would have liked to know that earlier; I might have made different plans, but I'd already arranged to eat out with friends.
While I enjoyed the forums, I would have liked to see them in the afternoon. I wanted to get out and play with my horse in the mornings, especially since he'd been in a stall all night. It also was much cooler in the mornings and got HOT in the afternoon. I would have enjoyed doing the activities with my horse in the mornings and have the forums in the afternoon when I was ready for a sit down and bit of a rest!!
It might have been nice if there had been a formal or official lunch break. I had to find time to sneak back to the campground or to the concession stand to get something to eat or drink before hurrying from one event to another. Another day, I didn't get lunch until late afternoon and by then I had a headache from not eating but I didn't want to miss doing my freestyle spotlight (the one spotlight I'd paid for that I actually got to do!!). I did, however, miss the saddle makeover demo I'd signed up for because the spotlights were running late because the liberty spotlights before them ran late. I felt sorry for the judges...they'd been going for quite a while without a break.
I hope none of these observations are taken as complaints because that's not the spirit in which they were meant. I'm merely stating my opinions and observations. I know this was the first Rendezvous and naturally there were "growing pains" and a learning curve. Better organization would have gone a long way towards helping things run more smoothly and keep things on schedule. For those of us that brought horses, we also had a responsibility to keep them happy and occupied rather than stuck in their stalls; that meant running back and forth to the barn to tend to their needs, saddle or unsaddle, etc.
Even though I missed participating in many of the events I wanted to do with my horse, I'm still happy with our experience. I accomplished my most important goal of taking my horse and exposing us both to a new experience and having everything go well so we could expand our comfort zones, grow, and become confident in a new environment. I'd say that makes the Rendezvous a resounding success for both of us even though we didn't get to do everything I would have liked. I had an amazing time and my horse remained calm and focused the whole weekend!!