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Most Recent Ramblings

April 11, 2014

Who has adorable ponies!  Go meet them!!!!
On my last post, Eventing At Midnight (who also has some posts up from a spectator's view at the Carolina International CIC*** & HT, go read them!) asked a great question -- which I promptly and shamelessly stole for this post.  Because I suspect that for many, when they think of volunteering, they think of a day of slogging work when they could be taking a lesson or going to a show.  The reality, however, is quite the opposite. 

She asks, "What was your most memorable volunteering moment and event?"

As I paused to think, I realized it was a harder question that I first assumed.  Of course, I can't just say one thing, I must keep up my reputation as a hopeless rambler thoughtful writer, you know!  Priorities!  So instead, I'm going to share my top five.

Then, my dears, I would love to hear yours (in the comments or on your own blogs -- link in the comments so I don't miss any!!).  

Officially volunteer stuffs
(5)  Scribing at the 2013 Wardaca T/N3DE for an excellent FEI judge whom I had met previously as a TD (and wow, we are so glad he got his FEI card, what an eye!).  After noticing a pattern on several movements for which he made the same comments, I quietly asked what he was looking for.  Not only did he answer, but he explained the question the movement asked of horse and rider and why the noted evasions occurred.  I wrote it down somewhere, because it was a dressage lesson in itself, and I know I applied several gems as soon as I got home -- with results!

You get to meet cool people!  Wendy, designer/owner of Kan-Tec.
(4)  Sitting in on an afternoon break conversation between two dressage judges (both also licensed as TDs) at the Southern Eighths BN/N/T3DE (& HT this year!!!!  Entries are open until next Tuesday, April 15th, send yours in if you want to ride at one of the most gorgeous venues in the country), one very experienced with her FEI card (and my personal favourite to ride for, tough but very fair, positive, and helpful), the other having just completed the early part of her training.  It really opened my eyes:  you would not believe the unbelievable amount of time, money, and effort people put into becoming a licensed judge.  While there are still a few not-so-great ones who slip through the program, it is HARD, and I certainly think twice if I am tempted to grumble about a judge (although I am really not that person; rarely has there been a comment that I don't 100% agree with).

I judge Karen O'Connor at The Fork; the key is a great chair
(3)  My very first time (yes, I was a volunteering virgin!), when I XC judged the World Cup 3* (and so many other levels, I remember something like 350 horses) at The Fork.  I had a fly fence, a simple (if you have an Advanced horse!) table at the top of a short incline.  I was amazed at how differently each rider chose to approach it in terms of balance, speed, the shape of the horse, and whether or not they used the rolling terrain.  That was when I first glimpsed how educational volunteering could be -- and how fascinating to sit at one fence, any fence, all day long.  Of 350, I had maybe FIVE who never lost a steady, forward galloping rhythm and jumped the fence out of stride, as a fly fence should be, while remaining balanced in the center of their horse with a soft and educated hand.  Even more surprising was that those five were not the winners, nor were they big names.

Tremaine:  "OOOVER the jump, like this, not through, ok?"
(2)  Walking the Waredaca T3DE course with a top tier course designer (CD; yes, Tremaine Cooper, you rock).  I learned so much in that 45 minutes that completely changed the way I think as I walk my own XC courses.  As he perfectly put it, you are not competeing against other riders, you are competing with the CD.  Seeing how a thoughtful and creative CD's mind works showed me elements that I had never even contemplated, such as the simple placement of a jump in relation to different types of terrain.  You can change a question entirely just by putting a log at the crest of a hill as opposed to putting it two strides back.  Knowing what is being asked at each jump gives you the ability to ride it proactively, instead of reactively.  And I think we all have experienced the difference that makes!!

2006.  What MY last 3DE jump would feel like.
(1)  The last day of the 2009 Waredaca T3DE.  It was the first year I staffed this USEA Area II Adult Rider-run event.  And it was beyond even my ample words to describe, in terms of atmosphere, horsemanship, education, professionalism, comraderie, sportsmanship, teamwork, and generosity.  I got to know each rider and follow their ups and downs through the weekend, attend all of the teaching workshops and course walks, pick the brains of officials, and meet fellow Adult Riders who, five years later, are irreplacable friends.  I walked away with two distinct feelings:  (a) I want to do this more than anything!  (b) With Brian O'Connor's trademark voice on the loudspeaker, a contest for the Best Dressed at each jog, dressage judges at C and E, and multiple vet checks, you really did feel like you were doing Something Big.

Max and DOC help Karen O. warm up at Rolex 2006.  And they'll help you, too.
My mind and body thrilled with the same excitement and anticipation of two decades ago, wandering the Kentucky Horse Park at Rolex every year.  But at the same time, there was a clear undercurrent of team spirit, that we, riders, volunteers, clincians, judges, were all in this together and if any member found themselves in need, they'd better find a snorkel before the descending hordes of help smothered them!  Everyone was Someone and as folks like Stephen Bradley and Karen O'Connor and Max Corcoran and Tremaine Cooper and Sharon White and Colleen Rutledge are by your side and no question is silly or out of bounds, how can you feel anything but lucky?

Notice all but one are at a 3DE?  Hmmmm....  I showed you mine, now you show me yours!!


Tell Me Your Favourite Volunteering Experience!

eventer79  |  at   Friday, April 11, 2014

Who has adorable ponies!  Go meet them!!!!
On my last post, Eventing At Midnight (who also has some posts up from a spectator's view at the Carolina International CIC*** & HT, go read them!) asked a great question -- which I promptly and shamelessly stole for this post.  Because I suspect that for many, when they think of volunteering, they think of a day of slogging work when they could be taking a lesson or going to a show.  The reality, however, is quite the opposite. 

She asks, "What was your most memorable volunteering moment and event?"

As I paused to think, I realized it was a harder question that I first assumed.  Of course, I can't just say one thing, I must keep up my reputation as a hopeless rambler thoughtful writer, you know!  Priorities!  So instead, I'm going to share my top five.

Then, my dears, I would love to hear yours (in the comments or on your own blogs -- link in the comments so I don't miss any!!).  

Officially volunteer stuffs
(5)  Scribing at the 2013 Wardaca T/N3DE for an excellent FEI judge whom I had met previously as a TD (and wow, we are so glad he got his FEI card, what an eye!).  After noticing a pattern on several movements for which he made the same comments, I quietly asked what he was looking for.  Not only did he answer, but he explained the question the movement asked of horse and rider and why the noted evasions occurred.  I wrote it down somewhere, because it was a dressage lesson in itself, and I know I applied several gems as soon as I got home -- with results!

You get to meet cool people!  Wendy, designer/owner of Kan-Tec.
(4)  Sitting in on an afternoon break conversation between two dressage judges (both also licensed as TDs) at the Southern Eighths BN/N/T3DE (& HT this year!!!!  Entries are open until next Tuesday, April 15th, send yours in if you want to ride at one of the most gorgeous venues in the country), one very experienced with her FEI card (and my personal favourite to ride for, tough but very fair, positive, and helpful), the other having just completed the early part of her training.  It really opened my eyes:  you would not believe the unbelievable amount of time, money, and effort people put into becoming a licensed judge.  While there are still a few not-so-great ones who slip through the program, it is HARD, and I certainly think twice if I am tempted to grumble about a judge (although I am really not that person; rarely has there been a comment that I don't 100% agree with).

I judge Karen O'Connor at The Fork; the key is a great chair
(3)  My very first time (yes, I was a volunteering virgin!), when I XC judged the World Cup 3* (and so many other levels, I remember something like 350 horses) at The Fork.  I had a fly fence, a simple (if you have an Advanced horse!) table at the top of a short incline.  I was amazed at how differently each rider chose to approach it in terms of balance, speed, the shape of the horse, and whether or not they used the rolling terrain.  That was when I first glimpsed how educational volunteering could be -- and how fascinating to sit at one fence, any fence, all day long.  Of 350, I had maybe FIVE who never lost a steady, forward galloping rhythm and jumped the fence out of stride, as a fly fence should be, while remaining balanced in the center of their horse with a soft and educated hand.  Even more surprising was that those five were not the winners, nor were they big names.

Tremaine:  "OOOVER the jump, like this, not through, ok?"
(2)  Walking the Waredaca T3DE course with a top tier course designer (CD; yes, Tremaine Cooper, you rock).  I learned so much in that 45 minutes that completely changed the way I think as I walk my own XC courses.  As he perfectly put it, you are not competeing against other riders, you are competing with the CD.  Seeing how a thoughtful and creative CD's mind works showed me elements that I had never even contemplated, such as the simple placement of a jump in relation to different types of terrain.  You can change a question entirely just by putting a log at the crest of a hill as opposed to putting it two strides back.  Knowing what is being asked at each jump gives you the ability to ride it proactively, instead of reactively.  And I think we all have experienced the difference that makes!!

2006.  What MY last 3DE jump would feel like.
(1)  The last day of the 2009 Waredaca T3DE.  It was the first year I staffed this USEA Area II Adult Rider-run event.  And it was beyond even my ample words to describe, in terms of atmosphere, horsemanship, education, professionalism, comraderie, sportsmanship, teamwork, and generosity.  I got to know each rider and follow their ups and downs through the weekend, attend all of the teaching workshops and course walks, pick the brains of officials, and meet fellow Adult Riders who, five years later, are irreplacable friends.  I walked away with two distinct feelings:  (a) I want to do this more than anything!  (b) With Brian O'Connor's trademark voice on the loudspeaker, a contest for the Best Dressed at each jog, dressage judges at C and E, and multiple vet checks, you really did feel like you were doing Something Big.

Max and DOC help Karen O. warm up at Rolex 2006.  And they'll help you, too.
My mind and body thrilled with the same excitement and anticipation of two decades ago, wandering the Kentucky Horse Park at Rolex every year.  But at the same time, there was a clear undercurrent of team spirit, that we, riders, volunteers, clincians, judges, were all in this together and if any member found themselves in need, they'd better find a snorkel before the descending hordes of help smothered them!  Everyone was Someone and as folks like Stephen Bradley and Karen O'Connor and Max Corcoran and Tremaine Cooper and Sharon White and Colleen Rutledge are by your side and no question is silly or out of bounds, how can you feel anything but lucky?

Notice all but one are at a 3DE?  Hmmmm....  I showed you mine, now you show me yours!!


April 7, 2014

I think you gonna need some horse for this one...
Yes, well, several weeks later -- as you all know too well, there is never a dull moment (or a spare one!) with horses.  Or my job in springtime!

However, I wanted to try to sum up several key aspects of the 2014 Carolina International CIC*** and HT that continue to stand out in my mind.  One unpleasant shift that I had feared when FEI decided that the CIC format should run dressage-SJ-XC was confirmed.  Since this schedule no longer requires the traditional Sunday morning horse inspection the day after cross country and the horses no longer have to be "saved" for show jumping, I worried that for some riders, one large incentive to pull up a tiring horse and stop if there was just a second of "NQR" was then removed and those competitors subject to such pressures, would instead keep running for the money since it was "just a few more jumps."

I was not wrong.  If you have never had the pleasure of running at the Carolina Horse Park, it is a HILLY course.  There are long gallops and the ground undulates around every turn.  At no level can you get away with "mostly almost fit."  In the past, I've witnessed more than a few Olympic-level pairs, both at CHP and Rolex, pull up mid-course after a single stop or even in the middle of a field when a horse looked fine to me.  But they felt something and chose to make The Horseman's Decision, putting the best interests of their partner first.

The cardiopulmonary system is a tissue too!
Granted, we've had a BITCH of a winter on the east coast, with very few escaping its wrath.  But if you are competing at the FEI 3* level, by that point, I feel you need to either get the fitness work done or else just wait.  It may be your job, but it's still a horse show and a risky one at that.  So it was with a sinking heart that during the 3*, several horses came through roaring for air, with exhaustion etched on their faces and in the twitch of every muscle...and not a one pulled up.  Don't mistake me, most were well-conditioned (some even a bit overly so!!), but that handful who were pushed home over "just a few more jumps" by riders who had the knowledge and experience to know better confirmed my suspicion that the temptation was too great, only adding to my long-held distaste for the FEI and its seeming disregard for serious and meaningful protection of the welfare of these horses who give us everything they have and then some.

Author's note:  This has nothing, zero, nada to do with the sad losses of Powderhound and Conair at The Fork last weekend, so any internet speculators, bugger off.  I "know" both Will Coleman and Andrew McConnon through one degree of separation and both of them are wonderful, thoughtful, caring, compassionate horsemen who would never for one second do anything to put their beloved partners at risk.  Both geldings were incredibly fit and talented and made their jobs look easy.  Tragedy  has no sense of timing, nor does it have the mercy to always occur in private.  TFS, as noted on FB, sends out a hug and condolences to both teams.

But on to a happier note...  Eventing Nation stated in their summary that Saturday was "all about Marilyn Little."  I couldn't disagree more.

Emily Beshear and a tidy Shame on the Moon
The weekend was all about a huge group of people who came together for the love of the sport and the horses that captivate us and created something special.  The Carolina Horse Park has a long and storied legacy in the Carolina sandhills and its "family" of supporters, competitors, volunteers, students, trainers, officials, neighbours, and veterans brought their hard work and their contributions to the table, ready to bring our beloved facility into the national spotlight.  I can't think of a greater measure of success than the fact that not only were there over 400 entries from T to 3*, but, at least from my folding chair, everyone from the winning FEI riders to nobody smurflet me was treated with respect, gratitude, and taken care of through attention to even the smallest detail.

After much contemplative review, this event was all about the fallen rider, who in each case was swooped up and whose horse was cared for nearly as soon as they met the ground.  It was about that person we don't know who crossed the finish line hollering with glee and hugging her horse because they completed their first FEI event and that other one who got eliminated but slipped her horse a treat anyway and thanked him for his efforts.  It was about illustrating that a cross country course can be big and challenging and shake up placings down to the last rider on course, yet still allow a mistake without lethal punishment.  It was about creating an environment embracing all of the reasons that make eventing great, where an adult amateur can ask questions, observe, converse, and learn from some of the best minds and skillsets we have, from riders to judges to builders to grooms.  It was about sitting in a tent with the legends of our sport, whose shining partners' hoofbeats pounded by a ten-year-old me next to a galloping lane at the Kentucky Horse Park, and realizing that those reasons and that passion is still there, no matter how bumpy the road may be.

CIC*** 17-18AB:  Sharon White and Raffery's Rules present a masterclass on How It's Done:


Buck Davidson and Ballynoecastle RM find the line he wanted after going through earlier with The Apprentice, firmly entrenching he and Reggie in 2nd place:


CIC** 16ABC:  Becky Holder and Frodo of the Shire pop-pop-pop through on their way to 7th place:


This, my friends, is why I drive hours and give up days of my time to volunteer.  And why I staunchly encourage you to jump in there and discover all that is offerred.  It doesn't matter if it's a Gold Cup qualifier or a local schooling show (I did that two days ago, a Walking Horse show at our old boarding facility, no less!), I guarantee that if you keep your eyes and ears open, you will accumulate valuable tidbits to take home and apply to your own riding and training, even if it's "OMG, never do THAT."  Where else do you get to sit next to a top dressage judge and ask what he is looking for at the free walk, or listen to the course designer describe how he uses the terrain to ask different questions at the same type of jump, or watch how the choices of riders from new to veteran affect how their horses' balance and jump right in front of you?


So -- where are you parking your chair next?

Carolina International: Video Wrap-Up

eventer79  |  at   Monday, April 07, 2014

I think you gonna need some horse for this one...
Yes, well, several weeks later -- as you all know too well, there is never a dull moment (or a spare one!) with horses.  Or my job in springtime!

However, I wanted to try to sum up several key aspects of the 2014 Carolina International CIC*** and HT that continue to stand out in my mind.  One unpleasant shift that I had feared when FEI decided that the CIC format should run dressage-SJ-XC was confirmed.  Since this schedule no longer requires the traditional Sunday morning horse inspection the day after cross country and the horses no longer have to be "saved" for show jumping, I worried that for some riders, one large incentive to pull up a tiring horse and stop if there was just a second of "NQR" was then removed and those competitors subject to such pressures, would instead keep running for the money since it was "just a few more jumps."

I was not wrong.  If you have never had the pleasure of running at the Carolina Horse Park, it is a HILLY course.  There are long gallops and the ground undulates around every turn.  At no level can you get away with "mostly almost fit."  In the past, I've witnessed more than a few Olympic-level pairs, both at CHP and Rolex, pull up mid-course after a single stop or even in the middle of a field when a horse looked fine to me.  But they felt something and chose to make The Horseman's Decision, putting the best interests of their partner first.

The cardiopulmonary system is a tissue too!
Granted, we've had a BITCH of a winter on the east coast, with very few escaping its wrath.  But if you are competing at the FEI 3* level, by that point, I feel you need to either get the fitness work done or else just wait.  It may be your job, but it's still a horse show and a risky one at that.  So it was with a sinking heart that during the 3*, several horses came through roaring for air, with exhaustion etched on their faces and in the twitch of every muscle...and not a one pulled up.  Don't mistake me, most were well-conditioned (some even a bit overly so!!), but that handful who were pushed home over "just a few more jumps" by riders who had the knowledge and experience to know better confirmed my suspicion that the temptation was too great, only adding to my long-held distaste for the FEI and its seeming disregard for serious and meaningful protection of the welfare of these horses who give us everything they have and then some.

Author's note:  This has nothing, zero, nada to do with the sad losses of Powderhound and Conair at The Fork last weekend, so any internet speculators, bugger off.  I "know" both Will Coleman and Andrew McConnon through one degree of separation and both of them are wonderful, thoughtful, caring, compassionate horsemen who would never for one second do anything to put their beloved partners at risk.  Both geldings were incredibly fit and talented and made their jobs look easy.  Tragedy  has no sense of timing, nor does it have the mercy to always occur in private.  TFS, as noted on FB, sends out a hug and condolences to both teams.

But on to a happier note...  Eventing Nation stated in their summary that Saturday was "all about Marilyn Little."  I couldn't disagree more.

Emily Beshear and a tidy Shame on the Moon
The weekend was all about a huge group of people who came together for the love of the sport and the horses that captivate us and created something special.  The Carolina Horse Park has a long and storied legacy in the Carolina sandhills and its "family" of supporters, competitors, volunteers, students, trainers, officials, neighbours, and veterans brought their hard work and their contributions to the table, ready to bring our beloved facility into the national spotlight.  I can't think of a greater measure of success than the fact that not only were there over 400 entries from T to 3*, but, at least from my folding chair, everyone from the winning FEI riders to nobody smurflet me was treated with respect, gratitude, and taken care of through attention to even the smallest detail.

After much contemplative review, this event was all about the fallen rider, who in each case was swooped up and whose horse was cared for nearly as soon as they met the ground.  It was about that person we don't know who crossed the finish line hollering with glee and hugging her horse because they completed their first FEI event and that other one who got eliminated but slipped her horse a treat anyway and thanked him for his efforts.  It was about illustrating that a cross country course can be big and challenging and shake up placings down to the last rider on course, yet still allow a mistake without lethal punishment.  It was about creating an environment embracing all of the reasons that make eventing great, where an adult amateur can ask questions, observe, converse, and learn from some of the best minds and skillsets we have, from riders to judges to builders to grooms.  It was about sitting in a tent with the legends of our sport, whose shining partners' hoofbeats pounded by a ten-year-old me next to a galloping lane at the Kentucky Horse Park, and realizing that those reasons and that passion is still there, no matter how bumpy the road may be.

CIC*** 17-18AB:  Sharon White and Raffery's Rules present a masterclass on How It's Done:


Buck Davidson and Ballynoecastle RM find the line he wanted after going through earlier with The Apprentice, firmly entrenching he and Reggie in 2nd place:


CIC** 16ABC:  Becky Holder and Frodo of the Shire pop-pop-pop through on their way to 7th place:


This, my friends, is why I drive hours and give up days of my time to volunteer.  And why I staunchly encourage you to jump in there and discover all that is offerred.  It doesn't matter if it's a Gold Cup qualifier or a local schooling show (I did that two days ago, a Walking Horse show at our old boarding facility, no less!), I guarantee that if you keep your eyes and ears open, you will accumulate valuable tidbits to take home and apply to your own riding and training, even if it's "OMG, never do THAT."  Where else do you get to sit next to a top dressage judge and ask what he is looking for at the free walk, or listen to the course designer describe how he uses the terrain to ask different questions at the same type of jump, or watch how the choices of riders from new to veteran affect how their horses' balance and jump right in front of you?


So -- where are you parking your chair next?

March 26, 2014

Preface:  Frizz totally called me a name-dropper (shudder, my nightmare, I swear upon the FSM this is never my intention!), so I wanted to post my clarification (don't worry, most people find my babbling unclear) from the comments about the previous post (with new, added babbling, naturally!).

BFF, Erica, ACME, Jen-S...and some dork
What I do want to share is that there are so unbelievably many wonderful people in eventing world and by volunteering, you get to spend time with them and learn from them (dressage judges, course designers, technical delegates, ground jury members, organizers, secretaries). My effort is to raise awareness that even us smurfies DO matter and ARE appreciated to these people, and to encourage others to step in and discover that it's not just "working" but an unparalleled learning opportunity.  Eventing is so much more than horses and riders -- as I told BFF, I started participating because of XC (duh).  But I stayed for the people.

The photo above is at the XC fence that was sponsored by the eventing forum over on COTH.  This effort was coordinated by the amazing ACME, who I FINALLY got to meet after several years of just missing each other (she lives a mile from the Horse Park; yes, we all collectively kind of hate her, only you can't really because she's so cool).  Check out the great article COTH was nice enough to put together!  Moving along.  Pat the Volunteer Coordinator Queen gave us a great fence complex and the perfect schedule (THANK YOU!).  Since we only judged the 2* and 3*, we had a chance to explore a bit and then settle in during the morning's 1* runs.  When it was time for the blue jumps (3*), just after lunch, the roller coaster of cheering and worrying began.    

You can see the path of hoofprints hugging the curve
BFF was assigned to fence 17 and thanks to the announcer, we learned that a Muckle Brush is a Scottish term for a "large hedge."  Funny, I would have translated it as "terrifying gap in brush barely wide enough for my horse with a huge, face-eating tree in the way."  But that's just me.  Here, it's viewed from your approach line: up a small rise and then it drops slightly on landing as well.  With the added fun of the large 2* bounce immediately next door, part of the ABC combo we judged later, so I'd say that Mr. Designer was going for an accuracy question here.

Erica and I manned the complex at 18AB.  Meh, what's two skinny jumps? you ask.  Well, as your horse's front feet touch the ground behind 17, you have approximately one stride to make an impossibly-short-looking rollback and take three to four strides to the brushed corner at A.  Although, if you are Caroline Martin, you will use some kind of elfin magic to line up all three jumps at the perfect angle so there is not even a hint of TURN TURN TURN NOW!!!

I'll be honest, I expected carnage and nervously parked my chair next to BFF, as close as I could get to the face of 17 without putting myself in the "trample zone" if a horse ran out.  I have mad first aid skillz due to years of work training, but I'd rather not ever deploy them.  From there, I was also next to 18A and the FEI TD requested Erica directly opposite me between the complex elements so we could have a clear view of both flags.

Just maybe, I hoped, this will be one of those jumps with zero room for steering error that everyone will just ride excruciatingly carefully so I don't have to scrape anyone's eyeballs off of pine bark, as can happen, ahem, BFF

Up:  I was right.  With the exception of one rider burying her horse at the base (he saved it for her anyway), it rode like clockwork all day and rather unbelievably, we didn't have a single runout all day through the whole complex.

Mensa & Michael just three strides before 17
Down:  As Michael Pollard came through with Mensa, I was so excited to see this incredible horse in the flesh.  After sailing effortlessly over 17, they both made the turn and...it was then I watched a display of great heart.  Mensa failed to read the jump at 18 quickly enough, but had such momentum, he had a split-second of indecision at the base of 18A.  Instead of spinning into a wicked runout or just saying no, this little bay gave an incredible effort to do his job for Michael.

However, by then, his chest was too close to the upper log and instead of successfully jumping, he caught his left foreleg on the flag and his chest slid through the brush (the essential element that gave the fence the forgiveness that no doubt prevented a far worse outcome) sideways, dragging his hind end with it.  Unable to stop the force of half a horse's worth of muscle and trajectory behind him, Mensa landed with his shoulder on half of Michael (Do. Not. Like. Rider-Smooshing at my jump!).  Somewhat miraculously, I was barely to the fence as both popped to their feet, Mensa to gallop back to the horses gathered at the vet box behind us, and poor Michael to stagger out of the line of fire, despite my desperate attempt to convince him to catch his breath for a minute.

Michael & Halimey rock the 2* 16AB, looking for C
Up:  Medical was, somehow!, already there and gathered up a rather grass-stained Pollard for in-barn inspection.  Mensa was quickly snagged by a groom and both appeared to have escaped injury.  Which made it that much greater when, shortly thereafter, Mango (Ballingowan Pizzaz) and Michael hopped effortlessly through the same line and kicked its ass for 3rd place, followed by placing 2nd in the 2* with Halimey AND the Open Intermediate with Kyra.  And if you didn't already love Pollard Eventing enough, Michael was the first to hit the dance floor that evening at the competitor's party with his toddler daughter and her flashy-light sneakers.  Awesomesauce.

Down:  Becky Holder and Teddy (Can't Fire Me) looked fantastic and jumped around clean, but Teddy's opinion that show jumping poles are completely unimpressive meant that two pulled rails the day before kept them out of the top ten.

Nobie & Busta visit Stonehenge in the 1*
Up:  Becky Holder and Teddy (Can't Fire Me) looked fantastic and jumped around clean!!  She also placed 7th in the 2* with a double clear course aboard Frodo of the Shire.  And I got to talk briefly with Nobie Cannon, one of her students who got to be amused by my silent Becky Stalking last spring (doubtlessly why she remembered me, LOL), before she and a seriously grown up Bust A Groove tore out of the start box and jumped a clear round.  A more sincere and generous group of women is hard to come by.

Down:  I was also rooting for Nobie's compatriot Sarah Beth Anton and Blitz Volo (also in 1*).  Sadly, she got dumped in the water, as did Leslie Law on the fantastically named Fernhill Whatever, against whom Encore and I competed in his brief lower level years.  Happily though, all parties were unharmed aside from the discomfort of wet panties.

Wundermaske is WunderWOW with Sharon White
Up:  I got to laugh hysterically when the announcer noted that Nobie had left her saddle in the vet box.  Sorry, Nobie, I laugh lovingly -- I would TOTALLY walk off, oblivious that I was missing a huge and obvious piece of my tack, so you are not alone.  I also got an wonderful and unexpected surprise in the appearance of Pat (a different one, ha), one of my favourite co-workers from Waredaca 3DE and owner of the gorgeous A Bit Better Farm just down the road from Waredaca in MD, whose daughter, Kelley Williams, a lovely and gracious pro rider, I FINALLY got to meet after years of stories, as well as another unexpected dear friend and her family who live in SoPines, as her husband is often event farrier (this time with his brother) at CHP (if you see him at future events, always tell Adrian thank you, he is excellent, one of the nicest people ever, and so kind to the horses).

Down:  Since I couldn't stay for Sunday, I missed seeing both friends and horses who participated in the Horse Trials.  Damn you, life responsibilities.

Up:  I did get to see Grace Fulton, whom, along with her dad, Steve, and her sister, Savannah, I've cheered for repeatedly at the Waredaca T3DE, as she completed this weekend's 1* aboard Sharon White's Wild Orange.  This horse is a stunning mover in the dressage arena and Gracie is a beautiful rider.  I feel a bit like I've watched, at least in part, the girls grow up!

Colleen Rutledge & Shiraz have room to spare
Down:  When Buck Davidson came through on his last 3* ride of the day, Petit Flower, I could see as soon as he landed after 17, he was riding tired.  They didn't quiiiiiiite make the turn and the mare attempted the jump, but hit the left corner and slid off, taking the flag down with her.  I lost sight of both and was sure Buck had fallen off in the flailing, but they reappeared in proper vertical order.  A then-limber (get well soon!) and very dapper Boyd Martin, who was walking several students around, sprang in and replaced the flag (hey, that's on him, a jump judge should never step in, barring a safety hazard, until the jump is cleared) as Buck and Flower made a tight circle.

Up:  The pair cleared the jump and finished the course with only a small scrape to the horse from the log encounter and Buck nabbed an impressive 2nd place with his equally impressive veteran partner, Reggie (Ballynoecastle RM).

TFS + COTH.  Yeah, I did, dorkiness has no shame.
Down:  This picture-perfect, sunny day at 74 degrees and a light breeze, strewn with amazing equine athletes at all levels, did not last forever.  And Jimmy Wofford went home immediately after the evening pep talk, so I did NOT get to fangirl his signature into my book.  And somehow, I was under the impression that team members were going to speak at the dinner, dangit, how did I get that wrong?  Nonetheless, a massive thanks is due to Karen Stives, who used to live in SoPines and who was a title sponsor of this event, an incredibly generous act (among many!).

Up:  I got to spend this picture-perfect, sunny day at 74 degrees and a light breeze, strewn with amazing equine athletes at all levels, with two great friends.  It was a MUCH-needed therapy indeed and a very special day in my stress-packed life.  Despite times when I feared my head might explode from sensory over-stimulation of exciting things in all directions, I am so glad I signed up and got to be a tiny part of this event on its birthday, which was wildly successful.  No matter how late we get home, there is no way to put a price on that.
The pros at work

Carolina International: Ups And Downs And Ups

eventer79  |  at   Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Preface:  Frizz totally called me a name-dropper (shudder, my nightmare, I swear upon the FSM this is never my intention!), so I wanted to post my clarification (don't worry, most people find my babbling unclear) from the comments about the previous post (with new, added babbling, naturally!).

BFF, Erica, ACME, Jen-S...and some dork
What I do want to share is that there are so unbelievably many wonderful people in eventing world and by volunteering, you get to spend time with them and learn from them (dressage judges, course designers, technical delegates, ground jury members, organizers, secretaries). My effort is to raise awareness that even us smurfies DO matter and ARE appreciated to these people, and to encourage others to step in and discover that it's not just "working" but an unparalleled learning opportunity.  Eventing is so much more than horses and riders -- as I told BFF, I started participating because of XC (duh).  But I stayed for the people.

The photo above is at the XC fence that was sponsored by the eventing forum over on COTH.  This effort was coordinated by the amazing ACME, who I FINALLY got to meet after several years of just missing each other (she lives a mile from the Horse Park; yes, we all collectively kind of hate her, only you can't really because she's so cool).  Check out the great article COTH was nice enough to put together!  Moving along.  Pat the Volunteer Coordinator Queen gave us a great fence complex and the perfect schedule (THANK YOU!).  Since we only judged the 2* and 3*, we had a chance to explore a bit and then settle in during the morning's 1* runs.  When it was time for the blue jumps (3*), just after lunch, the roller coaster of cheering and worrying began.    

You can see the path of hoofprints hugging the curve
BFF was assigned to fence 17 and thanks to the announcer, we learned that a Muckle Brush is a Scottish term for a "large hedge."  Funny, I would have translated it as "terrifying gap in brush barely wide enough for my horse with a huge, face-eating tree in the way."  But that's just me.  Here, it's viewed from your approach line: up a small rise and then it drops slightly on landing as well.  With the added fun of the large 2* bounce immediately next door, part of the ABC combo we judged later, so I'd say that Mr. Designer was going for an accuracy question here.

Erica and I manned the complex at 18AB.  Meh, what's two skinny jumps? you ask.  Well, as your horse's front feet touch the ground behind 17, you have approximately one stride to make an impossibly-short-looking rollback and take three to four strides to the brushed corner at A.  Although, if you are Caroline Martin, you will use some kind of elfin magic to line up all three jumps at the perfect angle so there is not even a hint of TURN TURN TURN NOW!!!

I'll be honest, I expected carnage and nervously parked my chair next to BFF, as close as I could get to the face of 17 without putting myself in the "trample zone" if a horse ran out.  I have mad first aid skillz due to years of work training, but I'd rather not ever deploy them.  From there, I was also next to 18A and the FEI TD requested Erica directly opposite me between the complex elements so we could have a clear view of both flags.

Just maybe, I hoped, this will be one of those jumps with zero room for steering error that everyone will just ride excruciatingly carefully so I don't have to scrape anyone's eyeballs off of pine bark, as can happen, ahem, BFF

Up:  I was right.  With the exception of one rider burying her horse at the base (he saved it for her anyway), it rode like clockwork all day and rather unbelievably, we didn't have a single runout all day through the whole complex.

Mensa & Michael just three strides before 17
Down:  As Michael Pollard came through with Mensa, I was so excited to see this incredible horse in the flesh.  After sailing effortlessly over 17, they both made the turn and...it was then I watched a display of great heart.  Mensa failed to read the jump at 18 quickly enough, but had such momentum, he had a split-second of indecision at the base of 18A.  Instead of spinning into a wicked runout or just saying no, this little bay gave an incredible effort to do his job for Michael.

However, by then, his chest was too close to the upper log and instead of successfully jumping, he caught his left foreleg on the flag and his chest slid through the brush (the essential element that gave the fence the forgiveness that no doubt prevented a far worse outcome) sideways, dragging his hind end with it.  Unable to stop the force of half a horse's worth of muscle and trajectory behind him, Mensa landed with his shoulder on half of Michael (Do. Not. Like. Rider-Smooshing at my jump!).  Somewhat miraculously, I was barely to the fence as both popped to their feet, Mensa to gallop back to the horses gathered at the vet box behind us, and poor Michael to stagger out of the line of fire, despite my desperate attempt to convince him to catch his breath for a minute.

Michael & Halimey rock the 2* 16AB, looking for C
Up:  Medical was, somehow!, already there and gathered up a rather grass-stained Pollard for in-barn inspection.  Mensa was quickly snagged by a groom and both appeared to have escaped injury.  Which made it that much greater when, shortly thereafter, Mango (Ballingowan Pizzaz) and Michael hopped effortlessly through the same line and kicked its ass for 3rd place, followed by placing 2nd in the 2* with Halimey AND the Open Intermediate with Kyra.  And if you didn't already love Pollard Eventing enough, Michael was the first to hit the dance floor that evening at the competitor's party with his toddler daughter and her flashy-light sneakers.  Awesomesauce.

Down:  Becky Holder and Teddy (Can't Fire Me) looked fantastic and jumped around clean, but Teddy's opinion that show jumping poles are completely unimpressive meant that two pulled rails the day before kept them out of the top ten.

Nobie & Busta visit Stonehenge in the 1*
Up:  Becky Holder and Teddy (Can't Fire Me) looked fantastic and jumped around clean!!  She also placed 7th in the 2* with a double clear course aboard Frodo of the Shire.  And I got to talk briefly with Nobie Cannon, one of her students who got to be amused by my silent Becky Stalking last spring (doubtlessly why she remembered me, LOL), before she and a seriously grown up Bust A Groove tore out of the start box and jumped a clear round.  A more sincere and generous group of women is hard to come by.

Down:  I was also rooting for Nobie's compatriot Sarah Beth Anton and Blitz Volo (also in 1*).  Sadly, she got dumped in the water, as did Leslie Law on the fantastically named Fernhill Whatever, against whom Encore and I competed in his brief lower level years.  Happily though, all parties were unharmed aside from the discomfort of wet panties.

Wundermaske is WunderWOW with Sharon White
Up:  I got to laugh hysterically when the announcer noted that Nobie had left her saddle in the vet box.  Sorry, Nobie, I laugh lovingly -- I would TOTALLY walk off, oblivious that I was missing a huge and obvious piece of my tack, so you are not alone.  I also got an wonderful and unexpected surprise in the appearance of Pat (a different one, ha), one of my favourite co-workers from Waredaca 3DE and owner of the gorgeous A Bit Better Farm just down the road from Waredaca in MD, whose daughter, Kelley Williams, a lovely and gracious pro rider, I FINALLY got to meet after years of stories, as well as another unexpected dear friend and her family who live in SoPines, as her husband is often event farrier (this time with his brother) at CHP (if you see him at future events, always tell Adrian thank you, he is excellent, one of the nicest people ever, and so kind to the horses).

Down:  Since I couldn't stay for Sunday, I missed seeing both friends and horses who participated in the Horse Trials.  Damn you, life responsibilities.

Up:  I did get to see Grace Fulton, whom, along with her dad, Steve, and her sister, Savannah, I've cheered for repeatedly at the Waredaca T3DE, as she completed this weekend's 1* aboard Sharon White's Wild Orange.  This horse is a stunning mover in the dressage arena and Gracie is a beautiful rider.  I feel a bit like I've watched, at least in part, the girls grow up!

Colleen Rutledge & Shiraz have room to spare
Down:  When Buck Davidson came through on his last 3* ride of the day, Petit Flower, I could see as soon as he landed after 17, he was riding tired.  They didn't quiiiiiiite make the turn and the mare attempted the jump, but hit the left corner and slid off, taking the flag down with her.  I lost sight of both and was sure Buck had fallen off in the flailing, but they reappeared in proper vertical order.  A then-limber (get well soon!) and very dapper Boyd Martin, who was walking several students around, sprang in and replaced the flag (hey, that's on him, a jump judge should never step in, barring a safety hazard, until the jump is cleared) as Buck and Flower made a tight circle.

Up:  The pair cleared the jump and finished the course with only a small scrape to the horse from the log encounter and Buck nabbed an impressive 2nd place with his equally impressive veteran partner, Reggie (Ballynoecastle RM).

TFS + COTH.  Yeah, I did, dorkiness has no shame.
Down:  This picture-perfect, sunny day at 74 degrees and a light breeze, strewn with amazing equine athletes at all levels, did not last forever.  And Jimmy Wofford went home immediately after the evening pep talk, so I did NOT get to fangirl his signature into my book.  And somehow, I was under the impression that team members were going to speak at the dinner, dangit, how did I get that wrong?  Nonetheless, a massive thanks is due to Karen Stives, who used to live in SoPines and who was a title sponsor of this event, an incredibly generous act (among many!).

Up:  I got to spend this picture-perfect, sunny day at 74 degrees and a light breeze, strewn with amazing equine athletes at all levels, with two great friends.  It was a MUCH-needed therapy indeed and a very special day in my stress-packed life.  Despite times when I feared my head might explode from sensory over-stimulation of exciting things in all directions, I am so glad I signed up and got to be a tiny part of this event on its birthday, which was wildly successful.  No matter how late we get home, there is no way to put a price on that.
The pros at work

March 23, 2014

Trademark CHP stands rise behind CIC*** #16
Should I just put all the adjectives up front?  Amazing fabulous wonderful gorgeous jaw-dropping beautiful incredible inspiring even-greater-than-expected phenomenal wow breathtaking...I'm sure I could keep going but my brain is still tired and stunned!  If you followed the sporadic outbursts of our Twitter/FB live posting (thanks again, Erica, for putting the pics up, my phone can't do that), I hope I succeeded in my goal of annoying the crap out of at least one person all day.  If not, hey, it's still up there, if your boredom is so deep that you'd like to pretend I'm babbling in your ear from 6 am to 10 pm.

While a full report on many fronts will come once I can put it together (as my blogger buddies know, putting together a meaningful post takes HOURS - or maybe that's just me...), there are few things I have to blurt out share while they are still a fresh grin in my mind.  I had a great time seeing familiar friendly faces and catching up with so many Adult Rider, volunteer/staff, & other eventing peeps, so:  Hai, it was wonderful to see you, Pat, Cindy, Foy, JJ, Dana, Sue, Bill, Jennifer, Nobie, Becky, Jen, Alison, Adrian, Alexis (heee, I love that your family is AAA), Jeff, Ross (ok, I never could catch you to say, but I did mentally when I saw you at dinner, LOL), Sarah Beth (I didn't get to talk to you, but saw you gallop by and I hope you are all dried off and ok!), Gracie, Suzanne, and Steve!!!  I'm sure I forgot someone, mea culpa.

Will Faudree & Land des Feuers open CIC*
Thank you SO MUCH, Erica, for driving down and back and being a great friend and volunteer buddy, and BFF, for being able to join and and I am so glad you had fun, I absolutely love watching people discover the sheer awe and wonder of sitting 20 feet from a **** horse as he navigates an eyeball-bugging complex like it was a set of ground poles.

Things I Learned and Awesome New People
(just get used to the word awesome a lot, despite my hatred of repeated words in writing)

Kelli Temple is not only super cool and friendly, but more fun than a crate of bouncy balls.  She joined the TFS Trio Dinner Table Of Poor Peons with two of her working students (who, geez the horse world is small, I have both watched and cheered for as they navigated our beloved Waredaca T3DE).  Upon seeing the eight empty champagne flutes set up with the centerpiece (they go big or go home in SoPines), Kelli immediately popped up, ran to the bar, and returned with...an entire bottle, as a true eventer should!  She promptly made sure all eight glasses were full (for the six of us, of course) and everyone was set for beer and wine.  I love her.

Hugh Lochore is indeed a world-class, bar-none course designer.  I confess my head exploded when we arrived at our post for the CIC*** division and the first thing I saw was this...thing:

Erica is not that much shorter than my 5'9"
But Hugh is truly in that excruciatingly small class of designers that can make this a "simple" rider accuracy question among a beautiful and deceptively challenging course, yet ensure that any equine or human mistakes are only penalized by a refusal, runout, or in a few cases, rider falls.  But NO rotations, NO equine ambulances, & with the exception of one unfortunately extremely hard encounter with the sand after a loss of balance, no lasting rider injuries.
 
Really want to ride one of his courses now!
Oh, and he is charming, hot, hilarious, adorable, generous, friendly, down-to-earth, attentive, AND straight (which is why on Facebook, I have named him "The British Unicorn") -- I would like to hate his wife, but I am told she is beautiful and friendly and kind, as well.  I hope he...snores really loudly or something.  ;P  I love him.

Dom Schramm is just as easy to talk to as he seems; I had to stop him at dinner and thank him for providing me with entertainment, although I had to admit that I had not yet seen "How Horses Eat Their Food, Part Deux," to which he replied, "WHAT??!!  What else could you possibly be doing?!"  He did concede that my employer expecting me to do actual work at work was an acceptable excuse.  I love him.

The no-one-else-even-came-close-I-don't-care-how-famous-your-name-is, best ride of the day through our insane complex was Caroline Martin and Quantum Solace (she is 18, geez).  She lined up all three jumps (17-18a-b) on the foot-perfect approach and as soon as her horse took off, her body never budged from its impecabbly soft, balanced center and I didn't even see a rein move as her Argentine sporthorse gelding floated through like hunter, responding instantly to the turn of her head and lightning-fast eye.  Incredible.  The only other pair that came close, and were also just exquisite to watch, were Rachel Jurgens and Ziggy (he is an OTTB the same age as Caroline Martin, LOL, and ran Rolex last year!).  Starting 3 strides out from 17, she looped both reins of her Pelham and floated her hand in immovable softness, anchored in an incredbly strong leg and core, all the way through without so much as a twitch.  I love them.

Buck and The Apprentice are 1st to leap #17
Buck Davidson really is an incredibly gracious, generous, and kind person.  And I almost didn't recognize him at the volunteer briefing Saturday morning; he and Caroline came to say thank you to everyone before riding (awesomeness), he has lost a bunch of weight and was looking very stylish indeed (hanging out with Faudree??)!  But not only did he make that special effort, as he walked our complex for the second time (he overshot the line with his first ride, The Apprentice, although that veteran horse still made it look easy, so came back out to make a better plan), he made conversation with BFF and I.  Laughing after I noted he had, what, ten more tries to get it right, Buck again thanked us so sincerely for being there.  Classy.  Dude.  I love him.

Both Arthur and Manoir de Carneville (Tate) are even more incredible in the flesh than they look in photos and video.  Arthur in particular is stunningly gorgeous and Allison rode him superbly; both hers and Sinead's special partnership with their horses was more than evident!  I love them.

David O'Connor really does cry at every milestone/pep talk/special occasion.  Upon introducing the 1984 gold-medal-winning Olympic team of J. Michael Plumb, Jimmy Wofford, Bruce Davidson, Torrance Watkins (who competed two horses at T this weekend!), and Karen Stives (the first time all five were together in 40 years, wow), he choked up into tears at the end.  I had to giggle a little, knowing how hardcore and stoic Karen is, wondering how often she rolls her eyes and throws a box of kleenex at him, hee.  I love his adorableness.

Sinead Halpin and Tate: so in tune
There are more, but a certain blogger is running out of steam.  But I cannot close the post without one more thing:

THANK YOU to the Carolina Horse Park, Jane Murray, Bobby Costello and the organizing committee, Hugh Lochore, Tyson Rementer (Stonehenge?!  Seriously?!), Roger Haller (FEI TD & best XC judge briefing I've ever heard) and all of the TDs, our fabulous friend, Foy Barksdale for being secretary bar none,  JJ Johnson for always being the best XC control ever, all of the sponsors, all of the volunteers, and especially Pat Gibson for all of her cat herding as volunteer coordinator:  you all brought to life a top class event with so many wonderful, special touches that made it truly unique in all my years of attending and working events.  I love all the peoples.  Combining the generous hospitality of Southern Pines with the open, welcome, positive, and fun atmosphere that eventers never fail to create, resulted in a feeling that I was a part of something great, even as a nobody smurf.

As we wound down the night and headed home, endurance racing BFF remarked, "If this is part of your evil plan to convert me to eventing, it's working."  (*gasp* Evil?!  Sounds like a great plan to me!)

Stay the bomb and gallop on, all my fellows in the eventing community!  You truly do rock, indeed.   

Carolina International CIC*** & HT: More Awesomeness Than Blogger Can Hold

eventer79  |  at   Sunday, March 23, 2014

Trademark CHP stands rise behind CIC*** #16
Should I just put all the adjectives up front?  Amazing fabulous wonderful gorgeous jaw-dropping beautiful incredible inspiring even-greater-than-expected phenomenal wow breathtaking...I'm sure I could keep going but my brain is still tired and stunned!  If you followed the sporadic outbursts of our Twitter/FB live posting (thanks again, Erica, for putting the pics up, my phone can't do that), I hope I succeeded in my goal of annoying the crap out of at least one person all day.  If not, hey, it's still up there, if your boredom is so deep that you'd like to pretend I'm babbling in your ear from 6 am to 10 pm.

While a full report on many fronts will come once I can put it together (as my blogger buddies know, putting together a meaningful post takes HOURS - or maybe that's just me...), there are few things I have to blurt out share while they are still a fresh grin in my mind.  I had a great time seeing familiar friendly faces and catching up with so many Adult Rider, volunteer/staff, & other eventing peeps, so:  Hai, it was wonderful to see you, Pat, Cindy, Foy, JJ, Dana, Sue, Bill, Jennifer, Nobie, Becky, Jen, Alison, Adrian, Alexis (heee, I love that your family is AAA), Jeff, Ross (ok, I never could catch you to say, but I did mentally when I saw you at dinner, LOL), Sarah Beth (I didn't get to talk to you, but saw you gallop by and I hope you are all dried off and ok!), Gracie, Suzanne, and Steve!!!  I'm sure I forgot someone, mea culpa.

Will Faudree & Land des Feuers open CIC*
Thank you SO MUCH, Erica, for driving down and back and being a great friend and volunteer buddy, and BFF, for being able to join and and I am so glad you had fun, I absolutely love watching people discover the sheer awe and wonder of sitting 20 feet from a **** horse as he navigates an eyeball-bugging complex like it was a set of ground poles.

Things I Learned and Awesome New People
(just get used to the word awesome a lot, despite my hatred of repeated words in writing)

Kelli Temple is not only super cool and friendly, but more fun than a crate of bouncy balls.  She joined the TFS Trio Dinner Table Of Poor Peons with two of her working students (who, geez the horse world is small, I have both watched and cheered for as they navigated our beloved Waredaca T3DE).  Upon seeing the eight empty champagne flutes set up with the centerpiece (they go big or go home in SoPines), Kelli immediately popped up, ran to the bar, and returned with...an entire bottle, as a true eventer should!  She promptly made sure all eight glasses were full (for the six of us, of course) and everyone was set for beer and wine.  I love her.

Hugh Lochore is indeed a world-class, bar-none course designer.  I confess my head exploded when we arrived at our post for the CIC*** division and the first thing I saw was this...thing:

Erica is not that much shorter than my 5'9"
But Hugh is truly in that excruciatingly small class of designers that can make this a "simple" rider accuracy question among a beautiful and deceptively challenging course, yet ensure that any equine or human mistakes are only penalized by a refusal, runout, or in a few cases, rider falls.  But NO rotations, NO equine ambulances, & with the exception of one unfortunately extremely hard encounter with the sand after a loss of balance, no lasting rider injuries.
 
Really want to ride one of his courses now!
Oh, and he is charming, hot, hilarious, adorable, generous, friendly, down-to-earth, attentive, AND straight (which is why on Facebook, I have named him "The British Unicorn") -- I would like to hate his wife, but I am told she is beautiful and friendly and kind, as well.  I hope he...snores really loudly or something.  ;P  I love him.

Dom Schramm is just as easy to talk to as he seems; I had to stop him at dinner and thank him for providing me with entertainment, although I had to admit that I had not yet seen "How Horses Eat Their Food, Part Deux," to which he replied, "WHAT??!!  What else could you possibly be doing?!"  He did concede that my employer expecting me to do actual work at work was an acceptable excuse.  I love him.

The no-one-else-even-came-close-I-don't-care-how-famous-your-name-is, best ride of the day through our insane complex was Caroline Martin and Quantum Solace (she is 18, geez).  She lined up all three jumps (17-18a-b) on the foot-perfect approach and as soon as her horse took off, her body never budged from its impecabbly soft, balanced center and I didn't even see a rein move as her Argentine sporthorse gelding floated through like hunter, responding instantly to the turn of her head and lightning-fast eye.  Incredible.  The only other pair that came close, and were also just exquisite to watch, were Rachel Jurgens and Ziggy (he is an OTTB the same age as Caroline Martin, LOL, and ran Rolex last year!).  Starting 3 strides out from 17, she looped both reins of her Pelham and floated her hand in immovable softness, anchored in an incredbly strong leg and core, all the way through without so much as a twitch.  I love them.

Buck and The Apprentice are 1st to leap #17
Buck Davidson really is an incredibly gracious, generous, and kind person.  And I almost didn't recognize him at the volunteer briefing Saturday morning; he and Caroline came to say thank you to everyone before riding (awesomeness), he has lost a bunch of weight and was looking very stylish indeed (hanging out with Faudree??)!  But not only did he make that special effort, as he walked our complex for the second time (he overshot the line with his first ride, The Apprentice, although that veteran horse still made it look easy, so came back out to make a better plan), he made conversation with BFF and I.  Laughing after I noted he had, what, ten more tries to get it right, Buck again thanked us so sincerely for being there.  Classy.  Dude.  I love him.

Both Arthur and Manoir de Carneville (Tate) are even more incredible in the flesh than they look in photos and video.  Arthur in particular is stunningly gorgeous and Allison rode him superbly; both hers and Sinead's special partnership with their horses was more than evident!  I love them.

David O'Connor really does cry at every milestone/pep talk/special occasion.  Upon introducing the 1984 gold-medal-winning Olympic team of J. Michael Plumb, Jimmy Wofford, Bruce Davidson, Torrance Watkins (who competed two horses at T this weekend!), and Karen Stives (the first time all five were together in 40 years, wow), he choked up into tears at the end.  I had to giggle a little, knowing how hardcore and stoic Karen is, wondering how often she rolls her eyes and throws a box of kleenex at him, hee.  I love his adorableness.

Sinead Halpin and Tate: so in tune
There are more, but a certain blogger is running out of steam.  But I cannot close the post without one more thing:

THANK YOU to the Carolina Horse Park, Jane Murray, Bobby Costello and the organizing committee, Hugh Lochore, Tyson Rementer (Stonehenge?!  Seriously?!), Roger Haller (FEI TD & best XC judge briefing I've ever heard) and all of the TDs, our fabulous friend, Foy Barksdale for being secretary bar none,  JJ Johnson for always being the best XC control ever, all of the sponsors, all of the volunteers, and especially Pat Gibson for all of her cat herding as volunteer coordinator:  you all brought to life a top class event with so many wonderful, special touches that made it truly unique in all my years of attending and working events.  I love all the peoples.  Combining the generous hospitality of Southern Pines with the open, welcome, positive, and fun atmosphere that eventers never fail to create, resulted in a feeling that I was a part of something great, even as a nobody smurf.

As we wound down the night and headed home, endurance racing BFF remarked, "If this is part of your evil plan to convert me to eventing, it's working."  (*gasp* Evil?!  Sounds like a great plan to me!)

Stay the bomb and gallop on, all my fellows in the eventing community!  You truly do rock, indeed.   

March 21, 2014

Be forewarned:  an unbelievably horrific three day long work assault meeting has left many brains crippled, so sense is not to be expected in any of the following statements.  And I hope CHP doesn't mind me borrowing a couple of their awesome graphics!

Dancing Dining With The Stars
TFS will be packing up and heading south this evening to participate in the long-awaited and tantalizingly star-studded Carolina International CIC*** and Horse Trial entrance onto the world stage!  Not only is it a qualifier for the 2014 Adequan Gold Cup series, but it brings a spotlight to our very favourite competition grounds, the Carolina Horse Park, about which I've written so many times.

Bruce Sr., Torrence Watkins, J. Michael Plumb, Karen Stives, and The Wofford
Alongside BFF and Solo's (hopeful) new minion (oh, what should her nickname be???  Blog Stalker?  No, that sounds too negative, although I love blog stalkers -- She Who Longes Children?  LOL), I'll just call her Erica, for goodness sake, we shall oogle and analyze the FEI*, **, and *** XC riders as jump judges.  If you haven't checked out the entry list already, well, what, do you live under a rock????!  Becky Holder Event Team, Colleen Rutledge, Kate Chadderton, Jan Byyny (currently sitting in first place after a lovely dressage test -- follow the link for video), our Carolina Will's, Faudree and Coleman, our new 'neighbour', Doug Payne, along with Arthur and Tate and Shiraz and Teddy and Wundermaske and William Penn and Pirate and Catch A Star and...dinner with the 1984 Gold Medal LA Olympic Team (Jimmy Wofford, Bruce Davidson, Karen Stives, Michael Plumb, and Torrance Watkins)!!! *fangirl implosion* And many many more eventing friends and 'family' that, well, we are hoping will wander by our chair on their coursewalks, because frankly, judging 300+ horses, I can tell you from experience, doesn't leave a lot of time for social calls.

(left) Can't Fire Me (Teddy) watches as Courageous Comet gives Dad a lesson at the winter farm in 2013; I bet I won't catch Teddy lying down on Saturday!

Related Online Crap
To the best of our ability, TFS will be live-tweeting (oh my cod, I'm so embarrassed I just typed that) from the event tomorrow, so you probably want to go ahead and follow us now so you don't miss out on the unmatched randomness and hilarious dorkiness that is our trademark!  Oh yeah, and The Becky StalkingI've also started a series of sometimes exciting, sometimes ironic, always entertaining #farmownerdiscoveries, as those of you who follow us on Facebook have probably discovered.  Like/follow/click/tap (take your pick from our media shortcuts in the sidebar) and join the insanity!  

Flying Solo Farm Stage:  Implementation
Crossties are up and fence tape is charged and mats are down and feed is stored and neighbours are supplied with excessive amounts of emergency contact information.  The door, my friends, at long last, is not only open, but strewn with bits of hay and mud and cat hair.  In addition, speaking of cats, one of them puked on the carpet recently, so I guess it's definitely home now. 

Blogger Mental Health & Plans For The Spring Season
The former is long lost.  The latter:  try not to starve, dream of times when you could purchase diesel, fatten up orange bellies after move stress shrinkage, remember how to ride a horse, learn our new trails, annoy visit with new neighbours...

And above all else, drink in the moonrise over MY east line of oak trees while a grey fox yips, at least four species of frogs sing across the pond, a great-horned owl greets the stars, and a brown bat makes adorable swoops after the first tiny insects of the year.  Through the bone-deep fatigue, those long-missed melodies are indeed balm for a great many things. 

Sunset over our creek pasture

Notes From The Madhouse

eventer79  |  at   Friday, March 21, 2014

Be forewarned:  an unbelievably horrific three day long work assault meeting has left many brains crippled, so sense is not to be expected in any of the following statements.  And I hope CHP doesn't mind me borrowing a couple of their awesome graphics!

Dancing Dining With The Stars
TFS will be packing up and heading south this evening to participate in the long-awaited and tantalizingly star-studded Carolina International CIC*** and Horse Trial entrance onto the world stage!  Not only is it a qualifier for the 2014 Adequan Gold Cup series, but it brings a spotlight to our very favourite competition grounds, the Carolina Horse Park, about which I've written so many times.

Bruce Sr., Torrence Watkins, J. Michael Plumb, Karen Stives, and The Wofford
Alongside BFF and Solo's (hopeful) new minion (oh, what should her nickname be???  Blog Stalker?  No, that sounds too negative, although I love blog stalkers -- She Who Longes Children?  LOL), I'll just call her Erica, for goodness sake, we shall oogle and analyze the FEI*, **, and *** XC riders as jump judges.  If you haven't checked out the entry list already, well, what, do you live under a rock????!  Becky Holder Event Team, Colleen Rutledge, Kate Chadderton, Jan Byyny (currently sitting in first place after a lovely dressage test -- follow the link for video), our Carolina Will's, Faudree and Coleman, our new 'neighbour', Doug Payne, along with Arthur and Tate and Shiraz and Teddy and Wundermaske and William Penn and Pirate and Catch A Star and...dinner with the 1984 Gold Medal LA Olympic Team (Jimmy Wofford, Bruce Davidson, Karen Stives, Michael Plumb, and Torrance Watkins)!!! *fangirl implosion* And many many more eventing friends and 'family' that, well, we are hoping will wander by our chair on their coursewalks, because frankly, judging 300+ horses, I can tell you from experience, doesn't leave a lot of time for social calls.

(left) Can't Fire Me (Teddy) watches as Courageous Comet gives Dad a lesson at the winter farm in 2013; I bet I won't catch Teddy lying down on Saturday!

Related Online Crap
To the best of our ability, TFS will be live-tweeting (oh my cod, I'm so embarrassed I just typed that) from the event tomorrow, so you probably want to go ahead and follow us now so you don't miss out on the unmatched randomness and hilarious dorkiness that is our trademark!  Oh yeah, and The Becky StalkingI've also started a series of sometimes exciting, sometimes ironic, always entertaining #farmownerdiscoveries, as those of you who follow us on Facebook have probably discovered.  Like/follow/click/tap (take your pick from our media shortcuts in the sidebar) and join the insanity!  

Flying Solo Farm Stage:  Implementation
Crossties are up and fence tape is charged and mats are down and feed is stored and neighbours are supplied with excessive amounts of emergency contact information.  The door, my friends, at long last, is not only open, but strewn with bits of hay and mud and cat hair.  In addition, speaking of cats, one of them puked on the carpet recently, so I guess it's definitely home now. 

Blogger Mental Health & Plans For The Spring Season
The former is long lost.  The latter:  try not to starve, dream of times when you could purchase diesel, fatten up orange bellies after move stress shrinkage, remember how to ride a horse, learn our new trails, annoy visit with new neighbours...

And above all else, drink in the moonrise over MY east line of oak trees while a grey fox yips, at least four species of frogs sing across the pond, a great-horned owl greets the stars, and a brown bat makes adorable swoops after the first tiny insects of the year.  Through the bone-deep fatigue, those long-missed melodies are indeed balm for a great many things. 

Sunset over our creek pasture

March 14, 2014

Remember when I posted useful articles on this blog?  Me neither.  However, today, I actually do have something useful to offer you!  Do try and hide your shock.

Soft Ride Boots:  the hottest trend in trailering when they hit the market two or three years ago (or less.  or more.  I lose track of time generally.).  "Reducing fatigue, enhancing performance, and helping treat and prevent injuries," these boots promise to pretty much eliminate the need for a vet, trainer, and sleep all at once!  Ok, perhaps I exaggerate a bit for effect, but while the concept of absorbing concussive shock traveling through the trailer frame to the floor and your horse's feet is a good one, marketing, as often occurs, goes a wee smidge over the top.

Note:  This post does not apply to use of any kind of boot for veterinary or therapeutic hoof issues which require daily wear.  I speak only in the context of booting a trailered horse for comfort.  Hopefully, those are obviously different scenarios to be addressed on a case by case basis.  

Not to mention, as with all normal things (human shoe inserts or foam cut-outs, anyone), give it a special horsey name and hint that it might knock a few points off your dressage score all while keeping Dobbin sounder, and you can mark up the price by approximately 4000%.  So, a gel pad that you stick on your horse's hoof which he will promptly stomp in his own poop can be yours, in a pair even, for around $200.

*pause for personal need to repeat hysterical choking sounds*

The Epics: great for non-forgers
Now, Soft Ride folks, my apologies if you are miffed at my badgering, but it does not carry any ill will nor even am I suggesting you have an unhelpful product.  I own a pair of both EasyBoot Epics (they did work when they stayed on...) and Cavallo Sport Boots, the latter of which I adore and are worn by Solo every time he is ridden off grass.  Both have had foam inserts for cushioning while riding as well.  Although both paid for themselves by replacing horseshoes.  And EasyCare has done the same thing as Soft Ride with the EasyBoot Rx hitting you up around $150 a pair, though they avoided some of the grandiose verbage.

I am simply offering an alternative solution for those of us who live down here in the real world where we have to actually CHOOSE which things we spend money on instead of just buy them all.  There certainly is value in convenience sometimes, but let's not go crazy with it. 

If you are anything like me, every time you feel and hear that 'clunk' of your trailer coming down after a lump or hole, you murmur an apology to your horse that he is never going to get Air-Ride (unless HE comes up with $6,500) and you are doing the best you can.  But given what I ask my horses to do, I do want to lessen that series of a gazillion impact waves (particularly on VA cheese grater roads) traveling up through the joints of his fetlocks, hocks, stifles, and back.  I just did not have and was not going to throw $200 at it.

Straight out of the bag
Enter the Hoof Wrap.  A step above buying a foam pad alone or cutting one out of insulation board and duct taping it on (duct tape tends to be single use only), these are basically reusable (and extremely durable, it turns out) ballistic nylon foot napkins with a lot of velcro.  They also come with their own 1.5" thick EVA foam pad (replaceable for only $7 or you can double up) for cushion and if you want more (I do in VA!), you can add a gel pad (which even smells like odd incense thanks to an infusion of tea tree oil).  All components are reusable; I don't use the gel every time I use the wrap, but it's been on at least four long trips.  Want to go hog wild?  Mix and match all kinds of thickness and density pads for $14 and just cut to a fit you like.

And at $20 per foot for wrap and foam pad, you can instead spend $80 and come out with TWO pairs (I only outfitted his hind feet for a mere $40).  Like any type of hoof boot or wrap, they take a few applications to get used to, but once you figure out your own little method, the straps are numbered in the order in which you should attach them (THANK YOU!), and if you make sure the foot is centered and you pull the velcro tight, they stay put in the trailer.  If you like, add a strip of tape (hello, colour coordination!) around the foot for backup.
With gel pad added.  It had an odd aromatherapy...

Encore models
I would say it takes me a total of about four minutes to apply both hind wraps and I only use them for trips of two hours or more (or if I'm entering VA, period).  But effectively, it creates the same device at 1/4 of the price (1/2 if you add gel pads, but still...and hey, that rhymed).  And yes, I did observe a marked reduction of stiffness and let-down time coming off the trailer when I use them vs. prior long trips in just horseshoes.

You're welcome.

How To Make Your Own "Soft Ride" Boots

eventer79  |  at   Friday, March 14, 2014

Remember when I posted useful articles on this blog?  Me neither.  However, today, I actually do have something useful to offer you!  Do try and hide your shock.

Soft Ride Boots:  the hottest trend in trailering when they hit the market two or three years ago (or less.  or more.  I lose track of time generally.).  "Reducing fatigue, enhancing performance, and helping treat and prevent injuries," these boots promise to pretty much eliminate the need for a vet, trainer, and sleep all at once!  Ok, perhaps I exaggerate a bit for effect, but while the concept of absorbing concussive shock traveling through the trailer frame to the floor and your horse's feet is a good one, marketing, as often occurs, goes a wee smidge over the top.

Note:  This post does not apply to use of any kind of boot for veterinary or therapeutic hoof issues which require daily wear.  I speak only in the context of booting a trailered horse for comfort.  Hopefully, those are obviously different scenarios to be addressed on a case by case basis.  

Not to mention, as with all normal things (human shoe inserts or foam cut-outs, anyone), give it a special horsey name and hint that it might knock a few points off your dressage score all while keeping Dobbin sounder, and you can mark up the price by approximately 4000%.  So, a gel pad that you stick on your horse's hoof which he will promptly stomp in his own poop can be yours, in a pair even, for around $200.

*pause for personal need to repeat hysterical choking sounds*

The Epics: great for non-forgers
Now, Soft Ride folks, my apologies if you are miffed at my badgering, but it does not carry any ill will nor even am I suggesting you have an unhelpful product.  I own a pair of both EasyBoot Epics (they did work when they stayed on...) and Cavallo Sport Boots, the latter of which I adore and are worn by Solo every time he is ridden off grass.  Both have had foam inserts for cushioning while riding as well.  Although both paid for themselves by replacing horseshoes.  And EasyCare has done the same thing as Soft Ride with the EasyBoot Rx hitting you up around $150 a pair, though they avoided some of the grandiose verbage.

I am simply offering an alternative solution for those of us who live down here in the real world where we have to actually CHOOSE which things we spend money on instead of just buy them all.  There certainly is value in convenience sometimes, but let's not go crazy with it. 

If you are anything like me, every time you feel and hear that 'clunk' of your trailer coming down after a lump or hole, you murmur an apology to your horse that he is never going to get Air-Ride (unless HE comes up with $6,500) and you are doing the best you can.  But given what I ask my horses to do, I do want to lessen that series of a gazillion impact waves (particularly on VA cheese grater roads) traveling up through the joints of his fetlocks, hocks, stifles, and back.  I just did not have and was not going to throw $200 at it.

Straight out of the bag
Enter the Hoof Wrap.  A step above buying a foam pad alone or cutting one out of insulation board and duct taping it on (duct tape tends to be single use only), these are basically reusable (and extremely durable, it turns out) ballistic nylon foot napkins with a lot of velcro.  They also come with their own 1.5" thick EVA foam pad (replaceable for only $7 or you can double up) for cushion and if you want more (I do in VA!), you can add a gel pad (which even smells like odd incense thanks to an infusion of tea tree oil).  All components are reusable; I don't use the gel every time I use the wrap, but it's been on at least four long trips.  Want to go hog wild?  Mix and match all kinds of thickness and density pads for $14 and just cut to a fit you like.

And at $20 per foot for wrap and foam pad, you can instead spend $80 and come out with TWO pairs (I only outfitted his hind feet for a mere $40).  Like any type of hoof boot or wrap, they take a few applications to get used to, but once you figure out your own little method, the straps are numbered in the order in which you should attach them (THANK YOU!), and if you make sure the foot is centered and you pull the velcro tight, they stay put in the trailer.  If you like, add a strip of tape (hello, colour coordination!) around the foot for backup.
With gel pad added.  It had an odd aromatherapy...

Encore models
I would say it takes me a total of about four minutes to apply both hind wraps and I only use them for trips of two hours or more (or if I'm entering VA, period).  But effectively, it creates the same device at 1/4 of the price (1/2 if you add gel pads, but still...and hey, that rhymed).  And yes, I did observe a marked reduction of stiffness and let-down time coming off the trailer when I use them vs. prior long trips in just horseshoes.

You're welcome.

March 11, 2014

We don't work no more!
It's true, don't believe the rumours -- I sort of remembered how to ride and I didn't fall off!  And it was sunny!!

The horses were caught quite off guard, having come to consider me merely as She Who Bringeth Foods.  So when I put Solo in the cross-ties (I HAVE CROSS-TIES) and put the saddle pad over his back, I could hear his mental, "Whaaaaaaa?"

I think both were pleasantly surprised though -- I finally rode Solo on Flying Solo Farm and It Was Good.  The boys once again dropped a bunch of weight in the move and lost most of their muscle and feet from standing in the mud all winter, but I have lots of hay and finally, daylight!

Solo and I hacked around the top field, said hello to Trainer Neighbour, even did some trot and canter over a telephone pole fencepost I'd brought up.  Mr. Shiny and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, although I regretted not putting the spurs on, I really should know better after 8 years!!!!

It was well into the 70's though, and none of us have any condition to speak of, so it was short and sweet, but the footing was excellent:  my soil shopping paid off indeed considering our Icepocalypse 27 on Friday.  Already on a roll, I simply traded horses and took Encore up on the longe to stretch his legs.  I expected racehorse, but he was rather pleasantly blase about it all.  Some stretchy trot, some canter that needs its butt back, and Bob's yer uncle.

But the best part of all (well, ok, maybe tied for best) was putting the horses up, throwing out hay...and walking 45 seconds to the back door.  Wow.  I went back up the to feed shed to get something and returned to the house again - just because I could.

My brain and body are fried.  Even writing this requires a pitiful dragging of each staggering sentence out of its slumber, but we're actually there.  Here.  Even the inside is starting to look a little bit more like a home.

Thanks, BFF, it never would have gotten painted without you!!

I Rode A Horse...Or Two!!

eventer79  |  at   Tuesday, March 11, 2014

We don't work no more!
It's true, don't believe the rumours -- I sort of remembered how to ride and I didn't fall off!  And it was sunny!!

The horses were caught quite off guard, having come to consider me merely as She Who Bringeth Foods.  So when I put Solo in the cross-ties (I HAVE CROSS-TIES) and put the saddle pad over his back, I could hear his mental, "Whaaaaaaa?"

I think both were pleasantly surprised though -- I finally rode Solo on Flying Solo Farm and It Was Good.  The boys once again dropped a bunch of weight in the move and lost most of their muscle and feet from standing in the mud all winter, but I have lots of hay and finally, daylight!

Solo and I hacked around the top field, said hello to Trainer Neighbour, even did some trot and canter over a telephone pole fencepost I'd brought up.  Mr. Shiny and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, although I regretted not putting the spurs on, I really should know better after 8 years!!!!

It was well into the 70's though, and none of us have any condition to speak of, so it was short and sweet, but the footing was excellent:  my soil shopping paid off indeed considering our Icepocalypse 27 on Friday.  Already on a roll, I simply traded horses and took Encore up on the longe to stretch his legs.  I expected racehorse, but he was rather pleasantly blase about it all.  Some stretchy trot, some canter that needs its butt back, and Bob's yer uncle.

But the best part of all (well, ok, maybe tied for best) was putting the horses up, throwing out hay...and walking 45 seconds to the back door.  Wow.  I went back up the to feed shed to get something and returned to the house again - just because I could.

My brain and body are fried.  Even writing this requires a pitiful dragging of each staggering sentence out of its slumber, but we're actually there.  Here.  Even the inside is starting to look a little bit more like a home.

Thanks, BFF, it never would have gotten painted without you!!

March 6, 2014

At least, that’s what it felt like Monday night as an assault of horizontally-driven snowflakes pelted my face and hands while I daisy-chained extension cords.

It was my first official work-then-home-to-farm day.  As of last Saturday, I am officially residing in the new house, although “moved” would be a strong word.  I have my bed, washer, dryer, and pets along with clean underwear and work clothes.  So we’ll stick with “residing.”

Gee, thanks, mom
My boss and I had spent the day in a project meeting about four counties south.  Having had no internet access, I knew the weather was supposed to be around 50 during the day with some rain and then plummet to 14 that night.  So I’d left the horses nekkid and figured I’d throw their blankets on when I fed that evening.

Oops.

My first clue came as we drove south and all the DOT signs along I-85 flashed “WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM NOON UNTIL MIDNIGHT.”  Well, both the boys had their shelter from precipitation and it had been 70 all weekend, so things could only change so quickly.  Right?

Wolverine work truck
We did manage to wrap up the meeting around 2:30 pm so we could hightail it 2.5 hours home.  Our dubious entertainment was watching both whip antennas on Boss' work truck turn into icicles as the wipers’ Effective Clearing Radius shrank to a tiny rainbow of windshield.  The incredulous hilarity continued when we picked up my work truck in Durham and both of us chipped through solid ice with the corners of our scrapers so I could have a teeny patch of windshield to look through.  I was certain I’d break a window; even back home in the Ohio River valley, it was rare for the freeze to occur that hard, that fast.

By the time I arrived home, the roads had turned into skating rinks of flashing lights and crumpled metal.  So quick and unexpected had the severity of the storm been (it was LITERALLY 75 and sunny the day before), many people didn’t even have coats in their cars.

I’m certainly no stranger to winter horse care and have everything I need to do it comfortably, including my beloved heated watertub.  But none of it was set up, naturally, given that Sunday was summer.  Frantically, as the weak daylight disappeared, I threw out serendipitously pre-stacked hay as I curried icicles off the horses and dragged crunchy, frozen blankets over them, forcing frozen straps through buckles with fat glove fingers.

Plz no moar winterz
We finally got squared away though, and I spent the entire time mentally screaming gratitude for the wonderful Adult Rider friend who’d given us the cozy feed shed and brought her family over to help set it up, and to ACB for his tremendous assistance stacking hay, setting posts, moving pallets, and the gift of the beautifully blinding magnetic LED that lit up the whole shed and the curtain of lost blizzard that pushed its way around all three of us.

Tripping over my own boots as I took them off in the mudroom, and staggering to the nearest folding chair (hey, it has beer-holders), I caught my breath and tried to figure out when we’d been sucked out of the Carolinas and into some Midwestern version of hell. 

All I could hear was a sardonic voice in my head cackling, “Welcome home!”

It Was A Dark & Windy Night In North Dakota

eventer79  |  at   Thursday, March 06, 2014

At least, that’s what it felt like Monday night as an assault of horizontally-driven snowflakes pelted my face and hands while I daisy-chained extension cords.

It was my first official work-then-home-to-farm day.  As of last Saturday, I am officially residing in the new house, although “moved” would be a strong word.  I have my bed, washer, dryer, and pets along with clean underwear and work clothes.  So we’ll stick with “residing.”

Gee, thanks, mom
My boss and I had spent the day in a project meeting about four counties south.  Having had no internet access, I knew the weather was supposed to be around 50 during the day with some rain and then plummet to 14 that night.  So I’d left the horses nekkid and figured I’d throw their blankets on when I fed that evening.

Oops.

My first clue came as we drove south and all the DOT signs along I-85 flashed “WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM NOON UNTIL MIDNIGHT.”  Well, both the boys had their shelter from precipitation and it had been 70 all weekend, so things could only change so quickly.  Right?

Wolverine work truck
We did manage to wrap up the meeting around 2:30 pm so we could hightail it 2.5 hours home.  Our dubious entertainment was watching both whip antennas on Boss' work truck turn into icicles as the wipers’ Effective Clearing Radius shrank to a tiny rainbow of windshield.  The incredulous hilarity continued when we picked up my work truck in Durham and both of us chipped through solid ice with the corners of our scrapers so I could have a teeny patch of windshield to look through.  I was certain I’d break a window; even back home in the Ohio River valley, it was rare for the freeze to occur that hard, that fast.

By the time I arrived home, the roads had turned into skating rinks of flashing lights and crumpled metal.  So quick and unexpected had the severity of the storm been (it was LITERALLY 75 and sunny the day before), many people didn’t even have coats in their cars.

I’m certainly no stranger to winter horse care and have everything I need to do it comfortably, including my beloved heated watertub.  But none of it was set up, naturally, given that Sunday was summer.  Frantically, as the weak daylight disappeared, I threw out serendipitously pre-stacked hay as I curried icicles off the horses and dragged crunchy, frozen blankets over them, forcing frozen straps through buckles with fat glove fingers.

Plz no moar winterz
We finally got squared away though, and I spent the entire time mentally screaming gratitude for the wonderful Adult Rider friend who’d given us the cozy feed shed and brought her family over to help set it up, and to ACB for his tremendous assistance stacking hay, setting posts, moving pallets, and the gift of the beautifully blinding magnetic LED that lit up the whole shed and the curtain of lost blizzard that pushed its way around all three of us.

Tripping over my own boots as I took them off in the mudroom, and staggering to the nearest folding chair (hey, it has beer-holders), I caught my breath and tried to figure out when we’d been sucked out of the Carolinas and into some Midwestern version of hell. 

All I could hear was a sardonic voice in my head cackling, “Welcome home!”

February 25, 2014

Well, some of us.  In a flurry of superhuman attempts to beat the daylight all weekend, I did manage to get the boys onto that patch of grass, a match I have been pursuing since last May.  Can I really have done it?

They managed two steps before they dropped their heads in excitement over a long-lost green friend.  Definitely the most peaceful move-in I have ever experienced.


Approximately four seconds in
 When I can't ride anymore, I shall keep horses as long as I can hobble along with a bucket and wheelbarrow. When I can't hobble, I shall roll my wheelchair out by the fence of the field where my horses graze, and watch them.        ~Monica Dickens
 
Is this really for me??
And it was good.
  

Home At Last

eventer79  |  at   Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Well, some of us.  In a flurry of superhuman attempts to beat the daylight all weekend, I did manage to get the boys onto that patch of grass, a match I have been pursuing since last May.  Can I really have done it?

They managed two steps before they dropped their heads in excitement over a long-lost green friend.  Definitely the most peaceful move-in I have ever experienced.


Approximately four seconds in
 When I can't ride anymore, I shall keep horses as long as I can hobble along with a bucket and wheelbarrow. When I can't hobble, I shall roll my wheelchair out by the fence of the field where my horses graze, and watch them.        ~Monica Dickens
 
Is this really for me??
And it was good.
  

February 21, 2014

My 30th, Solo's 13th in 2009
I couldn't imagine a more fitting phrase for the birthday of my center of orbit, my sun, my Solaris.  Thanks, Neil Young (it was even inspired by his horse). 

I didn't know Solo's exact birthday when I brought him home.  From his Coggins, it appeared to be sometime in early spring, so I simply assigned him one that would be easy to remember:  mine.

While I often forget what day it is and rarely do much about my own aging, I always remember and celebrate not just Solo's day, but every day since he came into my life and irrevocably changed so many parts of it and me.

So here's to you, my very best friend, partner, and piece of my heart.  Even thinking about the insane adventures, ups and downs, glorious triumphs and the darkest of heartbreaks brings tears of both sorrow and gratitude of unimaginable depth.  Seeing your head shoot up at the sound of my voice is still the best part of any day and even through my current exhaustion, the thought of seeing you at home is what keeps me going.  I cannot wait to present you with the farm that I built for us. 

Memorial Day 2006:  I brought him home
Our partnership would not exist but for the team of wonderful people that surrounds us and, most of all, the two who made it all possible along the way.  Thank you, from both of us, although those words fail to encompass the emotion, to mum and Jim, the founding members of Team Flying Solo, for the gift of this extraordinary relationship that was and still is more powerful, more miraculous, and more intimate than I ever dreamed.

I revive, then, my inner 12-year-old girl and the Ridiculously Cheesy Solo Montage from a 2010 nighttime fit of boredom.  I love you, buddy.  Please resist your genetic drive to be a walking suicide machine for a while yet, ok?


The song is by Templeton Thompson, a very talented and very kind singer/songwriter and horsewoman 
I had the pleasure of meeting about five years ago at an Equine Affaire in Raleigh.

2011 Area II Indian Smurf Award:  For courage in the face of adversity
I hope we have many stories left to tell.  I WILL get you back in shape this year, I know you are bored and I am so sorry -- I know how much you have left to give, although you owe me nothing!  We have a fresh start with your younger chew toy brother, who entertains us both, and Awesome Crew B, who always lends a hand and a shoulder.

And we have you, my wonderful readers and friends.  You are part of our team too, and sharing our journey has enriched it even more.  It's hard to believe that there are over 200 of you on our feed now; I thank all of you for letting me share my shiny, stubborn, loyal, kind, and altogether remarkable flying Solo with you.      

As Neil Young so fittingly wrote:

We've been through some things together, 
with trunks of memories still to come.
We found things to do in stormy weather,
Long may you run.
Although these changes have come, 
With your chrome heart shining in the sun, 
long may you run. 

Long May You Run

eventer79  |  at   Friday, February 21, 2014

My 30th, Solo's 13th in 2009
I couldn't imagine a more fitting phrase for the birthday of my center of orbit, my sun, my Solaris.  Thanks, Neil Young (it was even inspired by his horse). 

I didn't know Solo's exact birthday when I brought him home.  From his Coggins, it appeared to be sometime in early spring, so I simply assigned him one that would be easy to remember:  mine.

While I often forget what day it is and rarely do much about my own aging, I always remember and celebrate not just Solo's day, but every day since he came into my life and irrevocably changed so many parts of it and me.

So here's to you, my very best friend, partner, and piece of my heart.  Even thinking about the insane adventures, ups and downs, glorious triumphs and the darkest of heartbreaks brings tears of both sorrow and gratitude of unimaginable depth.  Seeing your head shoot up at the sound of my voice is still the best part of any day and even through my current exhaustion, the thought of seeing you at home is what keeps me going.  I cannot wait to present you with the farm that I built for us. 

Memorial Day 2006:  I brought him home
Our partnership would not exist but for the team of wonderful people that surrounds us and, most of all, the two who made it all possible along the way.  Thank you, from both of us, although those words fail to encompass the emotion, to mum and Jim, the founding members of Team Flying Solo, for the gift of this extraordinary relationship that was and still is more powerful, more miraculous, and more intimate than I ever dreamed.

I revive, then, my inner 12-year-old girl and the Ridiculously Cheesy Solo Montage from a 2010 nighttime fit of boredom.  I love you, buddy.  Please resist your genetic drive to be a walking suicide machine for a while yet, ok?


The song is by Templeton Thompson, a very talented and very kind singer/songwriter and horsewoman 
I had the pleasure of meeting about five years ago at an Equine Affaire in Raleigh.

2011 Area II Indian Smurf Award:  For courage in the face of adversity
I hope we have many stories left to tell.  I WILL get you back in shape this year, I know you are bored and I am so sorry -- I know how much you have left to give, although you owe me nothing!  We have a fresh start with your younger chew toy brother, who entertains us both, and Awesome Crew B, who always lends a hand and a shoulder.

And we have you, my wonderful readers and friends.  You are part of our team too, and sharing our journey has enriched it even more.  It's hard to believe that there are over 200 of you on our feed now; I thank all of you for letting me share my shiny, stubborn, loyal, kind, and altogether remarkable flying Solo with you.      

As Neil Young so fittingly wrote:

We've been through some things together, 
with trunks of memories still to come.
We found things to do in stormy weather,
Long may you run.
Although these changes have come, 
With your chrome heart shining in the sun, 
long may you run. 

February 13, 2014

My front yard right now
I lived in the Ohio River valley (Northern KY) from age 8 - 18.  So I learned to drive on snow and ice.  Mostly ice.  It's not rocket science.   But strange things can happen, so while our usual 1/2 of snow per year leaves me unperturbed, raining ice pellets & frozen sheets of slush with more snow on top makes the decision to stay in and work remotely an easy one. 

However.  I moved to North Carolina for a very specific reason.  My most hated task as a kid was shoveling snow and I would go to any lengths to avoid it.  I tried the whole Gulf coast thing, but discovered that was merely two years living in a flat, sweaty armpit from hell (aka Texas) and we lived out west when I was younger, so I knew I wanted to stay east of the Mississippi.  So I set my sights on the Carolina piedmont.  It has seasons, but winter is about 3 months of rain and cold wind in spurts (mostly January) with a week of 60 degree days in between.  It still makes me crabby by February, but hey, that's when spring starts!

Today there is over 3" of snow on the ground, coated in a layer of ice, quickly being covered by another layer of snow.  It is not only past noon, but it has been here SINCE YESTERDAY.  I want my money back.

I'd love to go visit the horses, but after watching the ice pellets fall for over an hour and the curtain of fat flakes out the window now, the thought of the bundling and driving and hiking and then driving again and thawing and unbundling, all without having some oblivious nut run into My Precious...cost-benefit ratio = negative.  If we were all at the farm?  Absolutely, I'd march out the back door and at least take some pictures despite my deep hatred of the white devil.

So I'll just keep tying up loose ends of the statewide fisheries conference I have to run next week, I've only been working on it, oh, since last August.  And in the meantime, I will let you enjoy the wonderful video I found yesterday of Swaps, the astonishingly tough and fast 1955 Ky Derby winner who was the great-great-grandsire of Encore's dam and the darling of the recently closed Hollywood Park (I wonder what they did with his statue?).  In July of 1955, he was Sports Illustrated's cover boy and the 1956 Horse of the Year

I see the spitting image of Encore in him in the beginning as he walks off the train with his big eyes and bright star -- right down to the surfer bangs!



PS:  It's STILL SNOWING.  I hate being cold.  I hate things that get in the way of my outdoor activities.  I hate snow related sports.  I hate ice.  JUST.  GO.  AWAY.   Because I just hate winter.  In case you wondered.

Winter Ridiculousness

eventer79  |  at   Thursday, February 13, 2014

My front yard right now
I lived in the Ohio River valley (Northern KY) from age 8 - 18.  So I learned to drive on snow and ice.  Mostly ice.  It's not rocket science.   But strange things can happen, so while our usual 1/2 of snow per year leaves me unperturbed, raining ice pellets & frozen sheets of slush with more snow on top makes the decision to stay in and work remotely an easy one. 

However.  I moved to North Carolina for a very specific reason.  My most hated task as a kid was shoveling snow and I would go to any lengths to avoid it.  I tried the whole Gulf coast thing, but discovered that was merely two years living in a flat, sweaty armpit from hell (aka Texas) and we lived out west when I was younger, so I knew I wanted to stay east of the Mississippi.  So I set my sights on the Carolina piedmont.  It has seasons, but winter is about 3 months of rain and cold wind in spurts (mostly January) with a week of 60 degree days in between.  It still makes me crabby by February, but hey, that's when spring starts!

Today there is over 3" of snow on the ground, coated in a layer of ice, quickly being covered by another layer of snow.  It is not only past noon, but it has been here SINCE YESTERDAY.  I want my money back.

I'd love to go visit the horses, but after watching the ice pellets fall for over an hour and the curtain of fat flakes out the window now, the thought of the bundling and driving and hiking and then driving again and thawing and unbundling, all without having some oblivious nut run into My Precious...cost-benefit ratio = negative.  If we were all at the farm?  Absolutely, I'd march out the back door and at least take some pictures despite my deep hatred of the white devil.

So I'll just keep tying up loose ends of the statewide fisheries conference I have to run next week, I've only been working on it, oh, since last August.  And in the meantime, I will let you enjoy the wonderful video I found yesterday of Swaps, the astonishingly tough and fast 1955 Ky Derby winner who was the great-great-grandsire of Encore's dam and the darling of the recently closed Hollywood Park (I wonder what they did with his statue?).  In July of 1955, he was Sports Illustrated's cover boy and the 1956 Horse of the Year

I see the spitting image of Encore in him in the beginning as he walks off the train with his big eyes and bright star -- right down to the surfer bangs!



PS:  It's STILL SNOWING.  I hate being cold.  I hate things that get in the way of my outdoor activities.  I hate snow related sports.  I hate ice.  JUST.  GO.  AWAY.   Because I just hate winter.  In case you wondered.

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