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Most Recent Ramblings

July 26, 2014

David at Blenheim (Small)
David & Red at Blenheim c. 2000 (via O'Brien Eventing site)
[eventer79:  I remember my very first lesson with David O’Brien, in the spring of 2009.  The scene is so vividly imprinted on my senses because, as I walked Solo into the arena, I was so nervous that my hands were shaking.  I don’t get nervous.  

Strangely, there was something about David’s quiet, friendly patience combined with the mind-boggling fact of this guy who had galloped his Irish TB, Fox In Flight (Red) around Blenheim & Fair Hill International, who I’d watched in the Rolex dressage arena, whose wife, Lauren, I’d photographed and cheered for when Dunrath Alto was eating up the KHP course for breakfast, that intimidated the hell out of me.

How was it that he was not only willing to teach me, but also give me his undivided focus, clarity, & respect for my earnest efforts to convince Solo that his butt was not just for holding his tail on?  

I’m not a “starstruck” kind of person, but that day, that arena entrance became a bridge linking childhood years at Rolex, when I thought that eventing was only for an elite horse & rider, to the discovery as an adult that nobody-me could be ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE.  Ok, not the Rolex people, but a slightly slower & more comically stubborn version.  

I feel lucky indeed to have hitched a ride to a friend’s farm that day.  And I still get ridiculously excited about every opportunity to learn more “David-isms,” although if I’m the one riding, it’s far more likely to be the same one…repeated often.

So I couldn’t wait to drag lead Erica across that bridge.] 
       
Body Demo 0 01 01-08
David: Srsly, stop stalking me!  Erica: IKR!?
Hey, Erica, How Did It Go??

Over the 4th of July weekend, Team Flying Solo took a field trip down to Southern Pines. We hauled in Friday, stayed with some friends at their beautiful property [thank you, Alison!!!], ate by the pool under the eyes of some very sad dogs who clearly never ever get fed, and hit the sack.

The morning dawned unseasonably cool & crisp, thanks to Hurricane Arthur, and I tried to keep my mind occupied on getting Mr. Shiny looking, well, shiny.  Luckily we weren’t sure WHICH of Tanglewood Farm’s 27 beautiful arenas was our rendezvous point, so I had a chance to breathe as we wandered.  Don’t mind us, just a couple clueless poor people, nothing to see here…

The Lesson

After a “getting to know you” chat, David quickly assessed & assigned.  As all warmups should, we were to be first, forward, and second, bending.  Solo showed up ready to play and he felt great; I think we had some really nice moments while David helped finesse my position.  I apologize for anyone who has watches the videos, it’s got to be somewhat annoying to hear “shorten your reins” that many times, haha.  [eventer79: Why do you think we watch videos of lessons?  So we can get the benefits without sweating!  Besides, I’m sure NO ONE else out there EVER rides with their reins too long; I know I never, ever do. *quickly takes down all videos of self riding ever*]


Warming up at the trot.  You’ll see David almost immediately puts Solo on a classic figure-8; this is a fantastic exercise for any warmup because it engages the horse’s mind with the changes of direction and the latter also supples his body more quickly by asking the muscles on both sides to actively stretch and contract at shorter intervals.  The pattern also helps both horse and rider settle into a rhythm, while keeping the human brain & body busy enough with steering to avoid the stiffening & over-riding temptation of a single circle.  May or may not contain a cameo of up & coming Phenomenal Rider/Trainer/All-Around Awesome Person Andrew McConnon schooling the freaking adorable Jack Reacher at 4:19.


Continuing the Circle of Death at the canter.  Yes, I remain a heinous videographer.  I wish I could have gone in the arena, but I had to supervise a certain brown nose-r.  I also remain incapable of remember that the camera’s mic picks up MY STUPID COMMENTARY TOO.  *facepalm*  I would mute it, but the value of David’s teaching trumps my own embarrassment (meh, I’m used to it).

Solo Canter Warmup
I'd say they got moving...
I have to take a minute here to acknowledge what a great instructor David is. He was direct, positive, and never once made me feel like my skill level was beneath being worthy of his time.  It was one of the best lessons I’ve ever had.  [aaand my job here is done, folks :D]

And Then You Jumped Solo?  Really?  Really??  Really??!  [hells, yeah, she did!]

We started out with three ground poles to a small cross rail, just trying to get me to relax going through it.



From there, the second x-rail went up, then finally a small vertical, each with a one-stride placing pole. Solo did his land & root & scoot a few times after the last element, which nearly had me unglued.  My mantra changed from “shoulders back, neck strap” to “you can’t wuss out on David.”   [Now you’re truly a part of the Team; the latter is my strategy…for pretty much every single lesson with him, LOL!]  


David stops us and breaks down body elements critical to riding out the line:  for me the take-home message was to think not about slowing Solo down but rather bringing his front end & balance up.


Fine-tuning the exercise.

They Did It!


We finally made it through the grid quietly & confidently!

And Then…

…the magic happened.  [I love lightbulb moments!]

The last exercise David had us do was to simply ride a circle with a single jump on it.  [eventer79 was devastated by being unable to capture this on video, but she had to get on her horse]  We started at the trot, then brought it up to the canter.  I sort of wish we had started with this, though perhaps if I hadn’t gotten to it at this point of the lesson, it wouldn’t have been such an epiphany [see evil footnote].  The grid work seemed to bring out my clingy, panicked side, & I white-knuckled through it, but with this exercise I was able to establish a rhythm & just…ride it.  All of a sudden, it was like “OH! You mean, shorten my reins. And sit up. And put a monster half halt on going around the turn & then let go.

Solo's Final Gymnastic Jump
Balance getting better!
Untitled 0 01 30-30
No worries, minion, I got ur butt.
I get it! I was nearly in tears cooling down.  [I confess I couldn’t keep the grin off my face when, approximately every two minutes, all the way home, Erica would turn to me and yell, “I DID IT!”  Epic Moments In Life.  I kid you not, her FB update that day:  "So, uh, when I said we moved to NC because of the job market & cost of living?  I lied.  I moved to NC so I could trailer down to Southern Pines & take amazing jumping lessons with 4-star eventers."  *insert moar grinning*]

We’ve naturally now got tons of homework to do & reviewing the footage reveals that it’s pretty much all mine.  [it’s always us, sigh]  But that, folks, is how Erica found her jumping position and how Solo has resumed his flying.
Erica Flying Solo Edits
There's no feeling like it -- welcome to the Flight!

Footnote Revealing Pre-Existing Evil Plot

[eventer79:  I must now reveal my cruel strategery.  Solo has always been rush-y going through gymnastics because they are very hard for him.  Even low, slow ones, ask a horse to shift his weight back to his hocks and use his back, both weak points for my boy, so he worries.  These very tiny ones don’t hurt him, but he does have a Lifetime Exemption from bounces and most other gymnastic exercises.  I know David’s system and I knew Erica would find these unsettling, and now I am going to admit I did it on purpose.

Want To Go Faster
Letz go faster!! However, note perfect rider balance here!
I’m no stranger to “speed” anxiety and I used to be drop-dead terrified of downhill jumps.  To this day, I won’t get on a bolter due to an accident when I was about 9.  I STILL get a tweak sometimes.  But Solo was the horse who taught me about trust.  It’s not an overnight process & it’s ok to be afraid, but I know he will always be safe.  I also unfailingly install an emergency brake on my horses, heh.  I would NEVER say, “Just get over it,” but I saw in that lesson the perfect opportunity for Erica to experience that critical first step.

I believe in always setting a horse & rider up for success; the best possible environment for this moment, for Erica & Solo, was in a clearly enclosed arena with level, perfect footing under the instruction of David’s calm, methodical, & positive expertise.  He is a teacher who brings out the best in you because, as he matter-of-factly directs you to “go do this thing that makes your eyes bug out,” the systematic manner in which he has prepared you and his quick reassurance of everything you did right make up the parachute which always lands you safely on “holy shit, I DID IT!”

You can’t build anything without a solid foundation block & you can’t place the block without careful site prep.  There’s a method in most of my madness – sometimes it even works.  ;P  I AM SO PROUD OF BOTH ERICA & SOLO & I HOPE THEIR JOURNEY CONTINUES!]

Head Profile Solo (Small) Untitled 0 00 28-21
And THANK YOU, Erica, for the wonderful gift of seeing this look of joy & proud bad-assery back on Solo’s face.  That puts tears in MY eyes.

Guest Blogger Returns & So Does The Original Flying Solo!

eventer79  |  at   Saturday, July 26, 2014

David at Blenheim (Small)
David & Red at Blenheim c. 2000 (via O'Brien Eventing site)
[eventer79:  I remember my very first lesson with David O’Brien, in the spring of 2009.  The scene is so vividly imprinted on my senses because, as I walked Solo into the arena, I was so nervous that my hands were shaking.  I don’t get nervous.  

Strangely, there was something about David’s quiet, friendly patience combined with the mind-boggling fact of this guy who had galloped his Irish TB, Fox In Flight (Red) around Blenheim & Fair Hill International, who I’d watched in the Rolex dressage arena, whose wife, Lauren, I’d photographed and cheered for when Dunrath Alto was eating up the KHP course for breakfast, that intimidated the hell out of me.

How was it that he was not only willing to teach me, but also give me his undivided focus, clarity, & respect for my earnest efforts to convince Solo that his butt was not just for holding his tail on?  

I’m not a “starstruck” kind of person, but that day, that arena entrance became a bridge linking childhood years at Rolex, when I thought that eventing was only for an elite horse & rider, to the discovery as an adult that nobody-me could be ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE.  Ok, not the Rolex people, but a slightly slower & more comically stubborn version.  

I feel lucky indeed to have hitched a ride to a friend’s farm that day.  And I still get ridiculously excited about every opportunity to learn more “David-isms,” although if I’m the one riding, it’s far more likely to be the same one…repeated often.

So I couldn’t wait to drag lead Erica across that bridge.] 
       
Body Demo 0 01 01-08
David: Srsly, stop stalking me!  Erica: IKR!?
Hey, Erica, How Did It Go??

Over the 4th of July weekend, Team Flying Solo took a field trip down to Southern Pines. We hauled in Friday, stayed with some friends at their beautiful property [thank you, Alison!!!], ate by the pool under the eyes of some very sad dogs who clearly never ever get fed, and hit the sack.

The morning dawned unseasonably cool & crisp, thanks to Hurricane Arthur, and I tried to keep my mind occupied on getting Mr. Shiny looking, well, shiny.  Luckily we weren’t sure WHICH of Tanglewood Farm’s 27 beautiful arenas was our rendezvous point, so I had a chance to breathe as we wandered.  Don’t mind us, just a couple clueless poor people, nothing to see here…

The Lesson

After a “getting to know you” chat, David quickly assessed & assigned.  As all warmups should, we were to be first, forward, and second, bending.  Solo showed up ready to play and he felt great; I think we had some really nice moments while David helped finesse my position.  I apologize for anyone who has watches the videos, it’s got to be somewhat annoying to hear “shorten your reins” that many times, haha.  [eventer79: Why do you think we watch videos of lessons?  So we can get the benefits without sweating!  Besides, I’m sure NO ONE else out there EVER rides with their reins too long; I know I never, ever do. *quickly takes down all videos of self riding ever*]


Warming up at the trot.  You’ll see David almost immediately puts Solo on a classic figure-8; this is a fantastic exercise for any warmup because it engages the horse’s mind with the changes of direction and the latter also supples his body more quickly by asking the muscles on both sides to actively stretch and contract at shorter intervals.  The pattern also helps both horse and rider settle into a rhythm, while keeping the human brain & body busy enough with steering to avoid the stiffening & over-riding temptation of a single circle.  May or may not contain a cameo of up & coming Phenomenal Rider/Trainer/All-Around Awesome Person Andrew McConnon schooling the freaking adorable Jack Reacher at 4:19.


Continuing the Circle of Death at the canter.  Yes, I remain a heinous videographer.  I wish I could have gone in the arena, but I had to supervise a certain brown nose-r.  I also remain incapable of remember that the camera’s mic picks up MY STUPID COMMENTARY TOO.  *facepalm*  I would mute it, but the value of David’s teaching trumps my own embarrassment (meh, I’m used to it).

Solo Canter Warmup
I'd say they got moving...
I have to take a minute here to acknowledge what a great instructor David is. He was direct, positive, and never once made me feel like my skill level was beneath being worthy of his time.  It was one of the best lessons I’ve ever had.  [aaand my job here is done, folks :D]

And Then You Jumped Solo?  Really?  Really??  Really??!  [hells, yeah, she did!]

We started out with three ground poles to a small cross rail, just trying to get me to relax going through it.



From there, the second x-rail went up, then finally a small vertical, each with a one-stride placing pole. Solo did his land & root & scoot a few times after the last element, which nearly had me unglued.  My mantra changed from “shoulders back, neck strap” to “you can’t wuss out on David.”   [Now you’re truly a part of the Team; the latter is my strategy…for pretty much every single lesson with him, LOL!]  


David stops us and breaks down body elements critical to riding out the line:  for me the take-home message was to think not about slowing Solo down but rather bringing his front end & balance up.


Fine-tuning the exercise.

They Did It!


We finally made it through the grid quietly & confidently!

And Then…

…the magic happened.  [I love lightbulb moments!]

The last exercise David had us do was to simply ride a circle with a single jump on it.  [eventer79 was devastated by being unable to capture this on video, but she had to get on her horse]  We started at the trot, then brought it up to the canter.  I sort of wish we had started with this, though perhaps if I hadn’t gotten to it at this point of the lesson, it wouldn’t have been such an epiphany [see evil footnote].  The grid work seemed to bring out my clingy, panicked side, & I white-knuckled through it, but with this exercise I was able to establish a rhythm & just…ride it.  All of a sudden, it was like “OH! You mean, shorten my reins. And sit up. And put a monster half halt on going around the turn & then let go.

Solo's Final Gymnastic Jump
Balance getting better!
Untitled 0 01 30-30
No worries, minion, I got ur butt.
I get it! I was nearly in tears cooling down.  [I confess I couldn’t keep the grin off my face when, approximately every two minutes, all the way home, Erica would turn to me and yell, “I DID IT!”  Epic Moments In Life.  I kid you not, her FB update that day:  "So, uh, when I said we moved to NC because of the job market & cost of living?  I lied.  I moved to NC so I could trailer down to Southern Pines & take amazing jumping lessons with 4-star eventers."  *insert moar grinning*]

We’ve naturally now got tons of homework to do & reviewing the footage reveals that it’s pretty much all mine.  [it’s always us, sigh]  But that, folks, is how Erica found her jumping position and how Solo has resumed his flying.
Erica Flying Solo Edits
There's no feeling like it -- welcome to the Flight!

Footnote Revealing Pre-Existing Evil Plot

[eventer79:  I must now reveal my cruel strategery.  Solo has always been rush-y going through gymnastics because they are very hard for him.  Even low, slow ones, ask a horse to shift his weight back to his hocks and use his back, both weak points for my boy, so he worries.  These very tiny ones don’t hurt him, but he does have a Lifetime Exemption from bounces and most other gymnastic exercises.  I know David’s system and I knew Erica would find these unsettling, and now I am going to admit I did it on purpose.

Want To Go Faster
Letz go faster!! However, note perfect rider balance here!
I’m no stranger to “speed” anxiety and I used to be drop-dead terrified of downhill jumps.  To this day, I won’t get on a bolter due to an accident when I was about 9.  I STILL get a tweak sometimes.  But Solo was the horse who taught me about trust.  It’s not an overnight process & it’s ok to be afraid, but I know he will always be safe.  I also unfailingly install an emergency brake on my horses, heh.  I would NEVER say, “Just get over it,” but I saw in that lesson the perfect opportunity for Erica to experience that critical first step.

I believe in always setting a horse & rider up for success; the best possible environment for this moment, for Erica & Solo, was in a clearly enclosed arena with level, perfect footing under the instruction of David’s calm, methodical, & positive expertise.  He is a teacher who brings out the best in you because, as he matter-of-factly directs you to “go do this thing that makes your eyes bug out,” the systematic manner in which he has prepared you and his quick reassurance of everything you did right make up the parachute which always lands you safely on “holy shit, I DID IT!”

You can’t build anything without a solid foundation block & you can’t place the block without careful site prep.  There’s a method in most of my madness – sometimes it even works.  ;P  I AM SO PROUD OF BOTH ERICA & SOLO & I HOPE THEIR JOURNEY CONTINUES!]

Head Profile Solo (Small) Untitled 0 00 28-21
And THANK YOU, Erica, for the wonderful gift of seeing this look of joy & proud bad-assery back on Solo’s face.  That puts tears in MY eyes.

July 25, 2014

Wordless Triassic Friday!  What did you think it stood for??!  *snicker*  I admit part of me just wants to see if I can get the most bizarre Google search terms of all time (Oh c’mon, like you didn’t know I have the amusement level of a 10-year-old).  Damn, this is supposed to be wordless.  Psh, not within my skill set.

Orange Cat Snooze
Orange Cat never minds older friends
I swear real posts are in the works.  I’ve just been a tad preoccupied since Encore’s left front foot got jealous of his right front foot.

Encore's Busted Feed
Self-resection (RF), meet bruise (LF) -- I so enjoying spending time with you both
Solo Face July 2014
SoloWhat’s a guy gotta do to get some attention around here?
MeDon’t. You. Dare.

WTF: Cat Befriends Stegosaurus

eventer79  |  at   Friday, July 25, 2014

Wordless Triassic Friday!  What did you think it stood for??!  *snicker*  I admit part of me just wants to see if I can get the most bizarre Google search terms of all time (Oh c’mon, like you didn’t know I have the amusement level of a 10-year-old).  Damn, this is supposed to be wordless.  Psh, not within my skill set.

Orange Cat Snooze
Orange Cat never minds older friends
I swear real posts are in the works.  I’ve just been a tad preoccupied since Encore’s left front foot got jealous of his right front foot.

Encore's Busted Feed
Self-resection (RF), meet bruise (LF) -- I so enjoying spending time with you both
Solo Face July 2014
SoloWhat’s a guy gotta do to get some attention around here?
MeDon’t. You. Dare.

July 18, 2014

I apologize for the break from our regularly scheduled programming.  Although looking through some recent posts, maybe this IS our regularly scheduled programming!  I had hoped to just post fun lesson videos before departing for a fun mountain ride, but alas, while I still get to hook up the trailer, it’s a much shorter trip (pun not intended).

16 July 14 Heel b
The crappy cell phone view
Whyyyyyyyyyy?  (ok, maybe you say it with a bit less resignation than I do)

Because, upon lifting his right front bell boot, Encore presented me with this lovely gift on Wednesday evening.


What In The Name Of Cod Is That?

I first thought it was just (yes, after enough horse repairs, it becomes ‘just’) an abscess.  Our dear farrier was stopping by on Thursday anyway to do a quick reset of that shoe to hold it until our appointment next Tuesday.  We both found it dryly amusing that his LEFT front foot was the one he bruised a bit about a month ago.

Farrier snipped away the flap (is it still a flap if it’s the entire thickness of the hoof wall??) and paused.  Ermmmm, I don’t think that’s an abscess.

RF Medial Heel Cut 17 July 2014 007 (Small)
YUM!
RF Medial Heel Cut 17 July 2014 004 (Small)
Supplies at ready...

Neither of us can figure out how he managed it.  While he grows ridiculous amounts of toe up front (he’s at four weeks in these pics), his hind toes stay short, neat, and round.  His (thin, cheap) bell boot was not torn at all.  The angle is simply bizarre. 

Now What?

As a biologist, I do appreciate his efforts to fascinate me via self-dissection, revealing internal anatomy.  However, I’d rather just check that out on Google Images.  I let him steep in the magic of an Animalintex pad overnight, dosed up on SMZ’s and bute, with a liberal amount of duct tape.  I wasn’t quite satisfied with the view this morning though.

RF Medial Heel Cut 18 July 2014 003 (Medium)
Still...ew
RF Medial Heel Cut 18 July 2014 005 (Medium)

He’s re-wrapped with some neosporin on gauze to let things dry out a bit.  Since he couldn’t possibly do such a thing on a Monday, the trailer will head out this afternoon to the Batcave Dr. Bob’s clinic for an in-person inspection for weekend peace-of-mind.  He did essentially resect his own hoof.  If experience has taught me anything, it’s that the Unexpected Twist will ALWAYS occur on Saturday afternoon.  :/

RF Medial Heel Cut 17 July 2014 008 (Medium) That’s Depressing.  Give Us Some Trademark TFS Stupid Stubborn Positives.

Encore is quite sound wandering around his pasture.  There is no swelling in his fetlock or pastern, nor heat, and he had no reaction to the hooftesters on his sole.  He is also an excellent patient, dozing immobile as you poke, hose, wrap, smear, photograph, and peer at his feats (& feets, LOL).

I’m tossing around a few new USEA names for him on teh Facebookz; thus far, I’m rather taken with “Waylaid Again.”  It has a little more flow than “The Vet, Again?!”  Although his barn name is indeed prophetic, even more so if we lived in France.  Or Quebec.  Half the time he walks into the shed, I exclaim, Encore?!

And Now For Something Completely (Not) Different, AKA, Encore Has A Vet Addiction

eventer79  |  at   Friday, July 18, 2014

I apologize for the break from our regularly scheduled programming.  Although looking through some recent posts, maybe this IS our regularly scheduled programming!  I had hoped to just post fun lesson videos before departing for a fun mountain ride, but alas, while I still get to hook up the trailer, it’s a much shorter trip (pun not intended).

16 July 14 Heel b
The crappy cell phone view
Whyyyyyyyyyy?  (ok, maybe you say it with a bit less resignation than I do)

Because, upon lifting his right front bell boot, Encore presented me with this lovely gift on Wednesday evening.


What In The Name Of Cod Is That?

I first thought it was just (yes, after enough horse repairs, it becomes ‘just’) an abscess.  Our dear farrier was stopping by on Thursday anyway to do a quick reset of that shoe to hold it until our appointment next Tuesday.  We both found it dryly amusing that his LEFT front foot was the one he bruised a bit about a month ago.

Farrier snipped away the flap (is it still a flap if it’s the entire thickness of the hoof wall??) and paused.  Ermmmm, I don’t think that’s an abscess.

RF Medial Heel Cut 17 July 2014 007 (Small)
YUM!
RF Medial Heel Cut 17 July 2014 004 (Small)
Supplies at ready...

Neither of us can figure out how he managed it.  While he grows ridiculous amounts of toe up front (he’s at four weeks in these pics), his hind toes stay short, neat, and round.  His (thin, cheap) bell boot was not torn at all.  The angle is simply bizarre. 

Now What?

As a biologist, I do appreciate his efforts to fascinate me via self-dissection, revealing internal anatomy.  However, I’d rather just check that out on Google Images.  I let him steep in the magic of an Animalintex pad overnight, dosed up on SMZ’s and bute, with a liberal amount of duct tape.  I wasn’t quite satisfied with the view this morning though.

RF Medial Heel Cut 18 July 2014 003 (Medium)
Still...ew
RF Medial Heel Cut 18 July 2014 005 (Medium)

He’s re-wrapped with some neosporin on gauze to let things dry out a bit.  Since he couldn’t possibly do such a thing on a Monday, the trailer will head out this afternoon to the Batcave Dr. Bob’s clinic for an in-person inspection for weekend peace-of-mind.  He did essentially resect his own hoof.  If experience has taught me anything, it’s that the Unexpected Twist will ALWAYS occur on Saturday afternoon.  :/

RF Medial Heel Cut 17 July 2014 008 (Medium) That’s Depressing.  Give Us Some Trademark TFS Stupid Stubborn Positives.

Encore is quite sound wandering around his pasture.  There is no swelling in his fetlock or pastern, nor heat, and he had no reaction to the hooftesters on his sole.  He is also an excellent patient, dozing immobile as you poke, hose, wrap, smear, photograph, and peer at his feats (& feets, LOL).

I’m tossing around a few new USEA names for him on teh Facebookz; thus far, I’m rather taken with “Waylaid Again.”  It has a little more flow than “The Vet, Again?!”  Although his barn name is indeed prophetic, even more so if we lived in France.  Or Quebec.  Half the time he walks into the shed, I exclaim, Encore?!

July 11, 2014

http://www.riders4helmets.com/ihad/
That's right, the FIFTH annual International Helmet Awareness Day is tomorrow, July 12th!  Not only is it your chance to score a great deal on the rather staggering array of new helmet options, but it's also an excellent opportunity to shine a spotlight on Riders4Helmets, a vibrant organization that began in the wake of Courtney King-Dye's tragic accident in 2010.  Courtney has become an inspiring participant and speaker at events around the work, all while teaching and working on her own constant rehabilitation schedule.  Here, three years after her injury, she looks back on the momentum she never imagined would roll through the equestrian world. 



Even in the past year, we have sadly witnessed injuries and fatalaties both in the spotlight (Silva Martin's severe concussion WHILE wearing her helmet when she struck her horse's neck on the way off; I know she and Boyd are both so grateful she wasn't bare-headed) and far away from it (a local trail rider died of a catastrophic open skull fracture a few months ago when her horse was surprised, she lost her balance, and her un-helmeted head hit the side panel of a nearby truck).

My Horse Is A Veteran & I Haven't Fallen Off In Ten Years, Why Bother Now?

Colours!!!!
If not for you, do it for the people who care about you, because I can tell you first hand, losing someone you love to an unexpected TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) is a devastating, life-altering event that you can never recover from.  No one ever sees that one terrible second approaching, that's why they are called "accidents."  So, in one easy step, do the right thing and dramatically reduce a huge risk factor in your favourite hobby and keep the "dents" out of your skull. 

Bonus:  it also keeps spiders out of your hair on the trail and, yes, now you can even put rhinestones on them (no, no I did not).  I must confess my impressed surprise when I tried out the new Troxel Intrepid; it's my new everyday helmet, replacing my trusty Tipperary Sportage (sorry, but the Intrepid is cheaper AND lighter).  The fresh designs really are lighter, cooler, and more comfortable than ever!

Which one is your favourite?

It's Never To Late To Strap One On! On Sale!!

eventer79  |  at   Friday, July 11, 2014

http://www.riders4helmets.com/ihad/
That's right, the FIFTH annual International Helmet Awareness Day is tomorrow, July 12th!  Not only is it your chance to score a great deal on the rather staggering array of new helmet options, but it's also an excellent opportunity to shine a spotlight on Riders4Helmets, a vibrant organization that began in the wake of Courtney King-Dye's tragic accident in 2010.  Courtney has become an inspiring participant and speaker at events around the work, all while teaching and working on her own constant rehabilitation schedule.  Here, three years after her injury, she looks back on the momentum she never imagined would roll through the equestrian world. 



Even in the past year, we have sadly witnessed injuries and fatalaties both in the spotlight (Silva Martin's severe concussion WHILE wearing her helmet when she struck her horse's neck on the way off; I know she and Boyd are both so grateful she wasn't bare-headed) and far away from it (a local trail rider died of a catastrophic open skull fracture a few months ago when her horse was surprised, she lost her balance, and her un-helmeted head hit the side panel of a nearby truck).

My Horse Is A Veteran & I Haven't Fallen Off In Ten Years, Why Bother Now?

Colours!!!!
If not for you, do it for the people who care about you, because I can tell you first hand, losing someone you love to an unexpected TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) is a devastating, life-altering event that you can never recover from.  No one ever sees that one terrible second approaching, that's why they are called "accidents."  So, in one easy step, do the right thing and dramatically reduce a huge risk factor in your favourite hobby and keep the "dents" out of your skull. 

Bonus:  it also keeps spiders out of your hair on the trail and, yes, now you can even put rhinestones on them (no, no I did not).  I must confess my impressed surprise when I tried out the new Troxel Intrepid; it's my new everyday helmet, replacing my trusty Tipperary Sportage (sorry, but the Intrepid is cheaper AND lighter).  The fresh designs really are lighter, cooler, and more comfortable than ever!

Which one is your favourite?

July 9, 2014

Linda Hoover Obstacle Clinic May 2014 017 (Small)
Thanks for teh staffz, mom!
You’ve heard me mention Erica, aka Blog Stalker, aka She Who Lunges Children, and her amazing appearance in my life a shockingly short time ago.  It has been my surprisingly great joy to watch her discover the unique gift of Solo Magic; it’s like falling in love with my horse all over again.  In return, she keeps my buddy moving, putting the spring back in his step, & fills in as Server Of Noms when I am on travel status for work.  On top of all that, she has quickly become a wonderful friend.  Take it away, Erica!!

Hi, this is Solo’s mysterious minion, Erica! If you follow Team Flying Solo on Facebook (and you should), you’ve probably seen a picture or two of me looking like a dweeb standing next to *** XC jumps, looking like a dweeb massaging Solo’s butt, or looking like a dweeb unabashedly shoveling Bojangles in my face (sweet mother of biscuits, I was meant to live in the South, y’all).  [enter eventer79: perfectly complements my dorkiness, if you ask me]

Did You Grow Up With Horses?

I rode & worked at an eventing barn in metro Detroit during high school, once I finally convinced my folks that this whole “horse thing” was not a phase. In college I rode when I had time & money (read: rarely), but I did play with my university polo team & catch-rode OTTBs for CANTER.  Even then, I was a super timid jumper, and swore off jumping more than once.
 
Linda Hoover Obstacle Clinic May 2014 033b (Small)
U ready for dis?
During my junior year, I got the unbelievable opportunity to study  in Northern Ireland, taking classes like equine sports medicine & living in a legit castle, residing in dorms…just above the stabling. Barely three weeks into my stay, I rode in survived my first XC schooling, only to fall off in a 6” gymnastic grid in my next lesson, & snap my wrist. Luckily the awesome instructors continued to include me in lessons on the ground, & I still learned a boat load. I also learned that being an American in an Irish pub wearing a cast will get you lots of free drinks. From there it was grad school, a baby, & a couple of interstate moves, but sadly, no more horses.

So What Made You Decide To Become A Stalker?

I randomly e-mailed Solo’s mom before moving to Durham, hoping she might have some leads on pet-friendly housing. The response was an open invitation to come over for a hack on the red beast!  So last summer I showed up, beers in hand [eventer79: you had me at ‘I brought some drinks’] and jeans on because I didn’t want to seem like I was assuming ride time. By January, we were making arrangements to bring Solo back into regular work. He’s just about the perfect packer for my stage of re-riding-ness: doesn’t give away freebies, but well-schooled on the flat [omg, who would have thunk it…], and will totally take care of my sorry behind over fences.

Linda Hoover Obstacle Clinic May 2014 051 (Small)
He's a tarp pro these days!
And Has Solo Accepted Your Proposal?

It’s being going fantastically, as weather & work allow. In May, I did a horsemanship clinic with Mr. Shiny next door, navigating tires, tarps, pool noodles, & even the ever-challenging single ground pole (Solo was all “Whadaya mean, put one foot over? Ground poles are for CROSSING, lady.”).  I tend to be an “act first, think later” person, so one of my big riding challenges is becoming more aware of my body & the timing of my cues. Having a chance to pause & focus on making a plan BEFORE moving forward was very helpful as I try to convince Solo I really AM trustworthy, I won’t hurt him, & he doesn’t always have to check with Mom to see if it’s okay.

The Calendar Said Something About Jumping?  We Want To Hear About The Jumping, Already!  Win, Lose, Or Draw??

Oh, back to that whole “I’m a candyass over fences…”  If everything is going well, the horse is balanced & we meet the jump on a good stride, ok.  Problem is, I never really understood how to create that balance, & when something goes wrong, I don’t have a toolbox. Thus, I hunch forward, clamp my knees like a crazy person & generally toss all my toys out of my mental pram. What could possibly go wrong with that approach?  [eventer79: I don’t see the problem, it has always worked so well for me in the sandbox…]

Solo & I had a few mini-jump schools that had gone reasonably well. He sometimes lands & roots & scoots & goes “wheee,” particularly if he wishes to point out a tight hand or heel, which can wig me out [eventer79: unfit horse bonus – it only lasts about four strides].  When the opportunity arose for a lesson with TFS favorite, David O’Brien, I planned on an awesome & super tough dressage lesson.  [ROFL, plans!]  Therefore Erica, established darned fool, jumped off a tractor holding a heavy post-pounder [eventer79: I’m rednecking her already!!!], and cracked said sorry behind on the wheel well.  Three weeks later, my tailbone is still yelling.  So what doesn’t require sitting in the saddle?  Oh yes, a jumping lesson!

*Gulp*

Body Demo 0 01 24-10
David: ...then you launch the rocket like this!  Solo:  Sooo...now?  Erica:  Please don't fall off, please don't fall off...

Meet The Minion: Solo’s Full-Service Provider Shares Her Story

eventer79  |  at   Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Linda Hoover Obstacle Clinic May 2014 017 (Small)
Thanks for teh staffz, mom!
You’ve heard me mention Erica, aka Blog Stalker, aka She Who Lunges Children, and her amazing appearance in my life a shockingly short time ago.  It has been my surprisingly great joy to watch her discover the unique gift of Solo Magic; it’s like falling in love with my horse all over again.  In return, she keeps my buddy moving, putting the spring back in his step, & fills in as Server Of Noms when I am on travel status for work.  On top of all that, she has quickly become a wonderful friend.  Take it away, Erica!!

Hi, this is Solo’s mysterious minion, Erica! If you follow Team Flying Solo on Facebook (and you should), you’ve probably seen a picture or two of me looking like a dweeb standing next to *** XC jumps, looking like a dweeb massaging Solo’s butt, or looking like a dweeb unabashedly shoveling Bojangles in my face (sweet mother of biscuits, I was meant to live in the South, y’all).  [enter eventer79: perfectly complements my dorkiness, if you ask me]

Did You Grow Up With Horses?

I rode & worked at an eventing barn in metro Detroit during high school, once I finally convinced my folks that this whole “horse thing” was not a phase. In college I rode when I had time & money (read: rarely), but I did play with my university polo team & catch-rode OTTBs for CANTER.  Even then, I was a super timid jumper, and swore off jumping more than once.
 
Linda Hoover Obstacle Clinic May 2014 033b (Small)
U ready for dis?
During my junior year, I got the unbelievable opportunity to study  in Northern Ireland, taking classes like equine sports medicine & living in a legit castle, residing in dorms…just above the stabling. Barely three weeks into my stay, I rode in survived my first XC schooling, only to fall off in a 6” gymnastic grid in my next lesson, & snap my wrist. Luckily the awesome instructors continued to include me in lessons on the ground, & I still learned a boat load. I also learned that being an American in an Irish pub wearing a cast will get you lots of free drinks. From there it was grad school, a baby, & a couple of interstate moves, but sadly, no more horses.

So What Made You Decide To Become A Stalker?

I randomly e-mailed Solo’s mom before moving to Durham, hoping she might have some leads on pet-friendly housing. The response was an open invitation to come over for a hack on the red beast!  So last summer I showed up, beers in hand [eventer79: you had me at ‘I brought some drinks’] and jeans on because I didn’t want to seem like I was assuming ride time. By January, we were making arrangements to bring Solo back into regular work. He’s just about the perfect packer for my stage of re-riding-ness: doesn’t give away freebies, but well-schooled on the flat [omg, who would have thunk it…], and will totally take care of my sorry behind over fences.

Linda Hoover Obstacle Clinic May 2014 051 (Small)
He's a tarp pro these days!
And Has Solo Accepted Your Proposal?

It’s being going fantastically, as weather & work allow. In May, I did a horsemanship clinic with Mr. Shiny next door, navigating tires, tarps, pool noodles, & even the ever-challenging single ground pole (Solo was all “Whadaya mean, put one foot over? Ground poles are for CROSSING, lady.”).  I tend to be an “act first, think later” person, so one of my big riding challenges is becoming more aware of my body & the timing of my cues. Having a chance to pause & focus on making a plan BEFORE moving forward was very helpful as I try to convince Solo I really AM trustworthy, I won’t hurt him, & he doesn’t always have to check with Mom to see if it’s okay.

The Calendar Said Something About Jumping?  We Want To Hear About The Jumping, Already!  Win, Lose, Or Draw??

Oh, back to that whole “I’m a candyass over fences…”  If everything is going well, the horse is balanced & we meet the jump on a good stride, ok.  Problem is, I never really understood how to create that balance, & when something goes wrong, I don’t have a toolbox. Thus, I hunch forward, clamp my knees like a crazy person & generally toss all my toys out of my mental pram. What could possibly go wrong with that approach?  [eventer79: I don’t see the problem, it has always worked so well for me in the sandbox…]

Solo & I had a few mini-jump schools that had gone reasonably well. He sometimes lands & roots & scoots & goes “wheee,” particularly if he wishes to point out a tight hand or heel, which can wig me out [eventer79: unfit horse bonus – it only lasts about four strides].  When the opportunity arose for a lesson with TFS favorite, David O’Brien, I planned on an awesome & super tough dressage lesson.  [ROFL, plans!]  Therefore Erica, established darned fool, jumped off a tractor holding a heavy post-pounder [eventer79: I’m rednecking her already!!!], and cracked said sorry behind on the wheel well.  Three weeks later, my tailbone is still yelling.  So what doesn’t require sitting in the saddle?  Oh yes, a jumping lesson!

*Gulp*

Body Demo 0 01 24-10
David: ...then you launch the rocket like this!  Solo:  Sooo...now?  Erica:  Please don't fall off, please don't fall off...

July 8, 2014

That's why he had this look on his face Saturday morning:


 But then, he does always like to hold out so you realllly appreciate the results...

Post in progress...

Solo Knows Something You Don't

eventer79  |  at   Tuesday, July 08, 2014

That's why he had this look on his face Saturday morning:


 But then, he does always like to hold out so you realllly appreciate the results...

Post in progress...

July 3, 2014

I'm pretty sure the horsies are tucked into their shelter right now...

My friends at WeatherUnderground have great NexRad graphics!
No worries, though, we are far enough inland that we mostly just get spin-off bands from these coast-huggers.  Not nearly as stressful as when I DID live on a barrier island (Galveston Island, TX)!!  O.O

I think we're gonna need a bigger life jacket...
If you do have horses who live in storm paths, however, here are a couple of great resources to make sure your equine partners are safe and ready when the time comes:

The Horse Fund -- complete with downloadable .pdf's
Nobody knows hurricanes like The Florida Horse Council
And here is a fantastic website with in-depth technical information from LA's State Animal Response Team

Finally, please, if you are responsible for animals, remember my personal rule:  When in doubt, GET OUT!

And This Is Why You Don't Build Houses On Islands, Kids

eventer79  |  at   Thursday, July 03, 2014

I'm pretty sure the horsies are tucked into their shelter right now...

My friends at WeatherUnderground have great NexRad graphics!
No worries, though, we are far enough inland that we mostly just get spin-off bands from these coast-huggers.  Not nearly as stressful as when I DID live on a barrier island (Galveston Island, TX)!!  O.O

I think we're gonna need a bigger life jacket...
If you do have horses who live in storm paths, however, here are a couple of great resources to make sure your equine partners are safe and ready when the time comes:

The Horse Fund -- complete with downloadable .pdf's
Nobody knows hurricanes like The Florida Horse Council
And here is a fantastic website with in-depth technical information from LA's State Animal Response Team

Finally, please, if you are responsible for animals, remember my personal rule:  When in doubt, GET OUT!

June 29, 2014

Thank you, Emily B., I'll try not to kill it!!
So many...so little...things time places ahhhh!  Therefore, you get what you get, but owe you updates, I do!!

  • The Bump(s) turned out to be bruised veins.  No, I had no idea horses could do that either.  Told you he was creative.  But Encore is cleared for work (we're not telling him!) with application of magical Dr. Bob creme to bruises, oh except for the obligatory sole bruise.  However, if he is sound enough to do a big, powerful floating trot across rocky dirt for his dinner...he is sound enough to ride on footing, dammit!  

  • I will be updating our "For Sale" tab with new items and more information!  Don't miss your chance for some great deals on clothes, tack, & more -- and yes, TFS desperately needs to raise some monehs.  The horses are eating well, but textured feed is a bit crunchy for me, even in milk!

  • Just a thank you.  I am so lucky to know a really neat group of people who made the effort to come out and share some food and relax yesterday evening (FARMWARMING PARTY!).  In the shade next to the pasture, on a beautiful, low-key afternoon, it was wonderful to introduce some of my horsey people to my fish (work) people, while actually getting to sit still!  

A bottomless thank you to BFF for organizing the details & telling me to stop freaking out and take a shower, and to her husband for making the most amazing vinegar BBQ chicken and green beans.  I love you all and am so very grateful for your friendship, generosity, and willingness to put up with me (although, I should think that last is fairly entertaining at times).

The One Minute Update Post

eventer79  |  at   Sunday, June 29, 2014

Thank you, Emily B., I'll try not to kill it!!
So many...so little...things time places ahhhh!  Therefore, you get what you get, but owe you updates, I do!!

  • The Bump(s) turned out to be bruised veins.  No, I had no idea horses could do that either.  Told you he was creative.  But Encore is cleared for work (we're not telling him!) with application of magical Dr. Bob creme to bruises, oh except for the obligatory sole bruise.  However, if he is sound enough to do a big, powerful floating trot across rocky dirt for his dinner...he is sound enough to ride on footing, dammit!  

  • I will be updating our "For Sale" tab with new items and more information!  Don't miss your chance for some great deals on clothes, tack, & more -- and yes, TFS desperately needs to raise some monehs.  The horses are eating well, but textured feed is a bit crunchy for me, even in milk!

  • Just a thank you.  I am so lucky to know a really neat group of people who made the effort to come out and share some food and relax yesterday evening (FARMWARMING PARTY!).  In the shade next to the pasture, on a beautiful, low-key afternoon, it was wonderful to introduce some of my horsey people to my fish (work) people, while actually getting to sit still!  

A bottomless thank you to BFF for organizing the details & telling me to stop freaking out and take a shower, and to her husband for making the most amazing vinegar BBQ chicken and green beans.  I love you all and am so very grateful for your friendship, generosity, and willingness to put up with me (although, I should think that last is fairly entertaining at times).

June 22, 2014

I suppose that got your “WTF???” click.  But I kid you not, Encore heard me typing the last part of the previous post through walls, in the pasture!  He made his final decision when his ears picked up the cell signal of my phone call to BFF, planning a conditioning ride today.  *sad yet unsurprised face*

So I got to spend yesterday afternoon staring at this:

Encore ColdFlex
ColdFlex wrap: back in action

anxiety
This may be true, but so?!
Two calls to the emergency Batphone in two months really is a bit much for my blood pressure, buddy.  Happily, (although probably not for him) Batman Dr. Bob himself was on call this weekend.  His cool practicality born of literally a lifetime of experience (his dad was a vet and a TB breeder, as well) is a perfect antidote for both my brain’s ability to leap from “it’s just a bump” to “lethal tendon injury in 0.3 seconds” AND my imaginary bank account.  Because I was already jumping into the pool of “omg, what imaging do I need?!”

It went something like this:
(I’ll make it easy and put Dr. Bob’s way-less-dorky-than-me-and-actually-useful comments in red

“Dr. Booooob (hahaha, my typing impression of my sad fatalistic voice makes him Dr. Boob, yes, I am 12), I came out this morning and Encore has once again telepathically overheard my attempt at actually scheduling something.”

Of course, he has, he is Encore!  (even he marvels at the ability of a horse with nothing inherently wrong with him to constantly hurt himself just enough to get out of real work)

Evening Pond Graze
But mom, dis all I want to do!
“He has a grape-sized soft swelling on the lateral side of his right front fetlock,  you can feel the ligament rolling back and forth in the squishy.  There is also a small swollen area on the medial side of the same leg, up behind his knee, in the check ligament area.  There is a small amount of heat in each, he is on his second cycle of cold hose/wrap right now.  I palpated all of the soft tissue in both front legs:  he had no reaction.  Whyyyyyyyyyyyyy?????????????” (ok, that last I may have only said internally)

Is he hopping around on three-legs when he comes up?”
“No, he appears sound wandering around his paddock.”
“Is he lame at the trot?"
“I did not do any soundness evals, I didn’t want to mess anything up.”

“Ok, good.  Give him a gram of bute twice a day, keep up the cold therapy, leave him be, and we’ll evaluate on Monday.  To be honest, I’ve seen a zillion of these things and many of them are simple bruises or something similar that just need a few days off and they go away.” 
“Yes, I shaved the fetlock spot and there were signs that he could have knocked something.”
“Yep, let’s just get the anti-inflammatories in his system.  Since he lives outside, just leave him out, he’s not going to do anything goofy.  He can keep moving around so it doesn’t get stiff and increase swelling.”

“Ok, no worries, he is very chill.  It is Solo’s job to generally run around and do something silly.  Plus it’s hot.  I’m sure you’ll be shocked (end sarcasm font), but a couple of questions?”
“Sure!!”

“Should I put anything on it like DMSO or the magical ButaCort creme you gave me?”
“No, just bute and cold.  If there’s a small cut or puncture, I don’t want to put anything on there yet, but good question.”
Solo Stud Tap 5_2011 016 (Medium)
Master farrier at work

“Should I put him on the longe or anything and evaluate him or just leave him alone?”
“Just leave him alone, the treatment will be the same.”

“Cool.  One more:  Johnathan (awesome farrier) re-shod him on Friday and when he put the left front shoe on, Encore shifted funny when he set it down and felt weird under saddle that evening.  I checked the nails as best I could, and we know he has butt-loads of hoof wall, but he seemed a little weird around the toe.  Could this be a contributing factor?  He hoof-tested all four at the end like he always does, and they were fine, though.”

“No, I seriously doubt it.  Johnathan is way too good for that.  He may just need to reset a nail or the shoe a little, but if we look at him on Monday, we can solve two issues at once.  But as many years as I have been doing this, there really is no point right now to try and pin down a cause.  I’ll be happy if it is just gone on Monday and we can carry on, I don’t need to know why as long as Encore is happy.  I’m really totally fine with that!  Even on the off chance that the two are related…”
 “…the treatment would not change.”
“Correct.”

“Ok, thanks.  I will be happy if it just goes away too!!!  I sent Johnathan a message and will keep him apprised.”
“Bute, cold, go forth.”

End scene.

So I shall.  Go forth.  I’ve got two wraps in the fridge (so I can alternate; never freeze them) for extra cooling.  He was a little stiff walking off after standing in cross-ties for 1.5 hours, but then, so was I.  Three steps later, he was fine and pranced rather spectacularly for his dinner.  I maintain hope for minor windpuffs.
Longleaf Pines HT 4_2010 099
Solo models after a Novice HT in 2010

As for the ColdFlex wraps, wow, did that experiment pay off!  I bought two of them years ago to use on Solo post-XC because ice is just a giant pain in the tail and I only want to bring my little drink cooler.  I was so happy with them I bought two more immediately thereafter!  It wasn’t terribly cheap at $80 for four, but for their convenience, if they were as re-usable as the manufacturer claimed, it would be money well-spent.

Well, they were and it was!!  All four have sat unused in my trailer for at least four years (properly put away in their little baggies and cans with water, of course).  I grabbed the first one to slap it on when I found the injury and it was good as new!!  I soaked it down with cold water, set the fan in front of his leg, and let it do its thing.  I can’t tell you what a life-saver it was to be able to read my reference material, talk to the vet, get things from the house, put on fly sheet, spray horses – all while not having to hold a hose or watch a bucket or worry about ice melting or deal with a boot (they are basically a polo wrap made out of some weird jell-o stuff, so completely flexible).  Win!

Now...bump, I bid thee:  DISAPPEAR!!

How To Make Your Horse Lame

eventer79  |  at   Sunday, June 22, 2014

I suppose that got your “WTF???” click.  But I kid you not, Encore heard me typing the last part of the previous post through walls, in the pasture!  He made his final decision when his ears picked up the cell signal of my phone call to BFF, planning a conditioning ride today.  *sad yet unsurprised face*

So I got to spend yesterday afternoon staring at this:

Encore ColdFlex
ColdFlex wrap: back in action

anxiety
This may be true, but so?!
Two calls to the emergency Batphone in two months really is a bit much for my blood pressure, buddy.  Happily, (although probably not for him) Batman Dr. Bob himself was on call this weekend.  His cool practicality born of literally a lifetime of experience (his dad was a vet and a TB breeder, as well) is a perfect antidote for both my brain’s ability to leap from “it’s just a bump” to “lethal tendon injury in 0.3 seconds” AND my imaginary bank account.  Because I was already jumping into the pool of “omg, what imaging do I need?!”

It went something like this:
(I’ll make it easy and put Dr. Bob’s way-less-dorky-than-me-and-actually-useful comments in red

“Dr. Booooob (hahaha, my typing impression of my sad fatalistic voice makes him Dr. Boob, yes, I am 12), I came out this morning and Encore has once again telepathically overheard my attempt at actually scheduling something.”

Of course, he has, he is Encore!  (even he marvels at the ability of a horse with nothing inherently wrong with him to constantly hurt himself just enough to get out of real work)

Evening Pond Graze
But mom, dis all I want to do!
“He has a grape-sized soft swelling on the lateral side of his right front fetlock,  you can feel the ligament rolling back and forth in the squishy.  There is also a small swollen area on the medial side of the same leg, up behind his knee, in the check ligament area.  There is a small amount of heat in each, he is on his second cycle of cold hose/wrap right now.  I palpated all of the soft tissue in both front legs:  he had no reaction.  Whyyyyyyyyyyyyy?????????????” (ok, that last I may have only said internally)

Is he hopping around on three-legs when he comes up?”
“No, he appears sound wandering around his paddock.”
“Is he lame at the trot?"
“I did not do any soundness evals, I didn’t want to mess anything up.”

“Ok, good.  Give him a gram of bute twice a day, keep up the cold therapy, leave him be, and we’ll evaluate on Monday.  To be honest, I’ve seen a zillion of these things and many of them are simple bruises or something similar that just need a few days off and they go away.” 
“Yes, I shaved the fetlock spot and there were signs that he could have knocked something.”
“Yep, let’s just get the anti-inflammatories in his system.  Since he lives outside, just leave him out, he’s not going to do anything goofy.  He can keep moving around so it doesn’t get stiff and increase swelling.”

“Ok, no worries, he is very chill.  It is Solo’s job to generally run around and do something silly.  Plus it’s hot.  I’m sure you’ll be shocked (end sarcasm font), but a couple of questions?”
“Sure!!”

“Should I put anything on it like DMSO or the magical ButaCort creme you gave me?”
“No, just bute and cold.  If there’s a small cut or puncture, I don’t want to put anything on there yet, but good question.”
Solo Stud Tap 5_2011 016 (Medium)
Master farrier at work

“Should I put him on the longe or anything and evaluate him or just leave him alone?”
“Just leave him alone, the treatment will be the same.”

“Cool.  One more:  Johnathan (awesome farrier) re-shod him on Friday and when he put the left front shoe on, Encore shifted funny when he set it down and felt weird under saddle that evening.  I checked the nails as best I could, and we know he has butt-loads of hoof wall, but he seemed a little weird around the toe.  Could this be a contributing factor?  He hoof-tested all four at the end like he always does, and they were fine, though.”

“No, I seriously doubt it.  Johnathan is way too good for that.  He may just need to reset a nail or the shoe a little, but if we look at him on Monday, we can solve two issues at once.  But as many years as I have been doing this, there really is no point right now to try and pin down a cause.  I’ll be happy if it is just gone on Monday and we can carry on, I don’t need to know why as long as Encore is happy.  I’m really totally fine with that!  Even on the off chance that the two are related…”
 “…the treatment would not change.”
“Correct.”

“Ok, thanks.  I will be happy if it just goes away too!!!  I sent Johnathan a message and will keep him apprised.”
“Bute, cold, go forth.”

End scene.

So I shall.  Go forth.  I’ve got two wraps in the fridge (so I can alternate; never freeze them) for extra cooling.  He was a little stiff walking off after standing in cross-ties for 1.5 hours, but then, so was I.  Three steps later, he was fine and pranced rather spectacularly for his dinner.  I maintain hope for minor windpuffs.
Longleaf Pines HT 4_2010 099
Solo models after a Novice HT in 2010

As for the ColdFlex wraps, wow, did that experiment pay off!  I bought two of them years ago to use on Solo post-XC because ice is just a giant pain in the tail and I only want to bring my little drink cooler.  I was so happy with them I bought two more immediately thereafter!  It wasn’t terribly cheap at $80 for four, but for their convenience, if they were as re-usable as the manufacturer claimed, it would be money well-spent.

Well, they were and it was!!  All four have sat unused in my trailer for at least four years (properly put away in their little baggies and cans with water, of course).  I grabbed the first one to slap it on when I found the injury and it was good as new!!  I soaked it down with cold water, set the fan in front of his leg, and let it do its thing.  I can’t tell you what a life-saver it was to be able to read my reference material, talk to the vet, get things from the house, put on fly sheet, spray horses – all while not having to hold a hose or watch a bucket or worry about ice melting or deal with a boot (they are basically a polo wrap made out of some weird jell-o stuff, so completely flexible).  Win!

Now...bump, I bid thee:  DISAPPEAR!!

June 21, 2014

June Sunset (Small)
Taken from the tractor seat...
Letting the diesel idle, I pause the tractor on a berm in the top pasture.  It’s that quiet intermission when the sky holds its breath as the treetops cradle the last wedge of setting sun.  There’s a marked contrast between east and west; the latter glows in warm orange as the pond reflects a silver version of the same scene and the darkening pines set off the beauty of the painted clouds. 

Off to my left, though, the eastern sky has less placid thoughts.  Bulging piles of pink thunderheads rumble between strobe flashes of cloud lightning.

In between the two – there is me.  Me and two grazing horses, each with an ear cocked to the storm, should it decide to change direction and chase them to shelter.  Tonight, though, the front holds its course, withholding water, but consoling us with a cool wind to dry out the sticky air.  I never want to leave this moment.

If only that were possible.  But I can close my eyes and sneak back there in my mind once and a while.  In the meantime, responsibilities await.  Some are fun (build farm stuff!), some are not (read federal register notices!), most lie in between (find vanishing fishes!).

Horse Things Still Happen

Fenceing Sunset
No more poison ivy rubbing!
To my great incredulity, there is progress in some areas (hey, this is rather a feat these days!):  I have finished fencing taping off the main portion of my lower creek pasture so the horses can enjoy it complain that it's itchy out and there are bugs. 

Encore is back in work, errrr, well, let's use that phrase lightly, shall we?  Look, I sweat A LOT, and when it's 80% humidity at 8 pm...  But he's had a couple very nice long-lining sessions (once we were clear that yes, you do have to go forward even though you are in one of your pastures) and the rest of my focus has been on trotting/cantering hills and small obstacles in a balanced rhythm and some bareback lateral/transition work to build his hind end back up.  That butt strength is his critical and most difficult training need, just as aerobic conditioning was for Solo.

I just might give myself permission to take one lesson as a gift to myself in hard times.  Dangit.  Now that I've typed it, Encore is in his paddock right now, looking for something poky or a rock with a usable edge.  Or a stick.  Or a clod of dirt.  *eyeroll*

Are any of you managing to get in some ride time in the burgeoning sweatbox???

Please Press Pause

eventer79  |  at   Saturday, June 21, 2014

June Sunset (Small)
Taken from the tractor seat...
Letting the diesel idle, I pause the tractor on a berm in the top pasture.  It’s that quiet intermission when the sky holds its breath as the treetops cradle the last wedge of setting sun.  There’s a marked contrast between east and west; the latter glows in warm orange as the pond reflects a silver version of the same scene and the darkening pines set off the beauty of the painted clouds. 

Off to my left, though, the eastern sky has less placid thoughts.  Bulging piles of pink thunderheads rumble between strobe flashes of cloud lightning.

In between the two – there is me.  Me and two grazing horses, each with an ear cocked to the storm, should it decide to change direction and chase them to shelter.  Tonight, though, the front holds its course, withholding water, but consoling us with a cool wind to dry out the sticky air.  I never want to leave this moment.

If only that were possible.  But I can close my eyes and sneak back there in my mind once and a while.  In the meantime, responsibilities await.  Some are fun (build farm stuff!), some are not (read federal register notices!), most lie in between (find vanishing fishes!).

Horse Things Still Happen

Fenceing Sunset
No more poison ivy rubbing!
To my great incredulity, there is progress in some areas (hey, this is rather a feat these days!):  I have finished fencing taping off the main portion of my lower creek pasture so the horses can enjoy it complain that it's itchy out and there are bugs. 

Encore is back in work, errrr, well, let's use that phrase lightly, shall we?  Look, I sweat A LOT, and when it's 80% humidity at 8 pm...  But he's had a couple very nice long-lining sessions (once we were clear that yes, you do have to go forward even though you are in one of your pastures) and the rest of my focus has been on trotting/cantering hills and small obstacles in a balanced rhythm and some bareback lateral/transition work to build his hind end back up.  That butt strength is his critical and most difficult training need, just as aerobic conditioning was for Solo.

I just might give myself permission to take one lesson as a gift to myself in hard times.  Dangit.  Now that I've typed it, Encore is in his paddock right now, looking for something poky or a rock with a usable edge.  Or a stick.  Or a clod of dirt.  *eyeroll*

Are any of you managing to get in some ride time in the burgeoning sweatbox???

June 11, 2014

B and Solo Trail Ride Dec 2013 crop
This past December...
Ah, Carolina summer, you have returned.  I noticed your chortling embrace when I took two steps out the back door and then needed to change my shirt because all of my sweat came out at once.

OH, BUT IT'S BEAUTIFUL IN MAINE TODAY! 

I can hear the gloating from you Yankees (hee), but I can take it:  I'll be enjoying my t-shirt XC school in February while your tears freeze onto your snow shovel.  I did my time.

For my compatriots who spent their younger years chipping vehicles out of solid ice blocks & kicking giant ice cubes in the shape of five-gallon buckets & dragging full muck buckets in sleds across snow...and bolted when they got the chance, I wanted to share our tips for living and working (oh yes, I sweat & carry heavy things all day long and then come home and -- sweat & carry heavy things; it is possible that I am stupid.  Oh wait, I own a horse; scratch that: definitely stupid) in our "included free with purchase!" sweat box.

WHAT HAVE I DONE?  HELP ME!!!

If you (and/or your horse) are new to this dance with 100% saturated air that does not produce rain, you are probably staring with dismay at your car, a mere 100 feet away from your front door, perplexed as to how to get to it & still arrive at work without looking like you LITERALLY just stepped out of the shower -- a really smelly shower with no towel.  I promise, the first summer is the worst, but that is why I am here for you, and why you obviously make smart choices by reading this ridiculous awesome blog.  We can all learn by experience, but you aren't required to.

ALL YOUR PROBLEMS, SOLVED

Humans:

(1)  Take your time:  there is a reason we do everything slowly, including speech.  Moving quickly = more sweat.  Sitting in the shade drinking iced tea beer = less sweat.

(2)  Read this postCotton is NOT your friend.  Ever.  Unless you enjoy slowly suffocating in a blanket of your own perspiration.  Stalk those amazing technical fabric running shirts (bite me, equine brands who want me to pay $50 for a t-shirt, er, bless your hearts, I’m a “normal” person, not made of disposable cash), you can find them on sale at a myriad of sporting goods/outdoor retailers for $12 or less.

(3)  Read this post.  Oh, CoolMedics, bless your heart (practice this phrase, it allows you to say anything without actually insulting someone).  Evaporative cooling is indeed a sound scientific principle – WHEN EVAPORATION ACTUALLY OCCURS.  5000% humidity, not so much.  Thick layer of soggy textiles = misery.

(4)  I wear a handkerchief under my helmet.  (1) Stops profuse sweat from running into my eyes when riding (it burns us, precioussss!) and (2) when I pull off my helmet, I immediately put my head under the hose and soak hair & fabric.  I’m aliiiive!

FivePointsHT_1561 (Medium)
Jacket-free in the arena at Five Points HT
(5)  Speaking of helmet, you better still be wearing it!!  >:(  It also keeps the ticks/spiders/branches/bird poo out of your hair, as well as said sweaty, nasty hair out of your face.  Same goes for the XC vest.  At a certain point, it’s just bloody hot no matter what.  Never compromise your safety.

(6)  Speaking of attire, seriously, skip the butler jacket unless absolutely required.  I dehydrate FAST because I sweat a lot.  Even in my awesome wicky outfit, if I don’t follow my strict hydration rules & keep eating protein, I will throw up/pass out/prefer to die.  All of our competitions at CHP will waive jackets as soon as it gets steamy out.  In addition, at ANY USEA event where all three phases occur in one day, you NEVER have to wear a jacket.  A technical, tidy polo or show shirt of your choice is fine (it doesn’t even have to be white, *gasp*).  Read the rules 

If you stubbornly refuse to part from your black coat and come down centerline red-faced & drenched in sweat and then fall off after your test due to heat exhaustion, you do not look “respectful,” you just look (well, floppy & damp) not-very-smart and I dislike having to worry about the safety of fellow competitors (yes, I’m that person).

(7)  Never forget your SUNSCREEN SUNSCREEN SUNSCREEN SUNSCREEN.  And a wide-brimmed hat with a mesh top is a wonderful thing in the sun when you are not mounted.

(8)  Permanently attach a water bottle to your body or the nearest fence post/jump standard/truck hood.  When I am doing field work & riding in the evenings, I can drink 3 L of water in one day & never have to pee.  It all comes out my pores (yes, I sweat like a pig, I don’t glow, I’m not a “lady”).  If you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.  I don’t even buy bottles smaller than 1 L – I keep about six in my refrigerator and refill & rotate (REUSE YOUR BOTTLES!).  I will also never again live without an icemaker in the freezer. 

(9)  Elaboration on hydration:  I have made a rule that when traveling to a competition or lesson, I must drink 1 L of water on the way there.  NO EMPTY BOTTLE, NO EXIT TRUCK.  It’s hard, but trust me, it makes a huuuuge difference.  The next bottle is half Gatorade (G2, less sugar), half water.  Tip from an ex-semi-pro mountain bike racer and over-educated gym rat (ha, not me):  Sports drinks by themselves are too concentrated for your body to absorb unless you are performing at like a super-marathoner level.  Or riding David O’s circles of death.  Your metabolism changes modes depending on activity level and if you don’t cut it with water, you’ll just pee it right out.

(10)  Once you go outside, stay out there.  I find it much harder to go in and out of air conditioning, having to re-adjust every time.  I put on my super-wicking outfit, grab my armful of fluids, and I don’t come back in until I am done.  Naturally, frequent drink breaks in the run-in are highly encouraged!

Solo Yadkin 08 edit
2008!  Solo had a mane...in the upper Yadkin River.
Horses:

(1)  The hottest hours of our days are from 2-5 pm, NOT noon-1 pm (we like to be different).  I try to ride after 6 pm whenever I can.  That said, you DO need to spend some time riding in the heat to heat-condition your horse.  His metabolism can adjust, but to do so, he needs to do some work in the mugginess.  But I’m wayyy past the age where I feel driven to make myself miserable just because…why?  I’m not competing at any level at the moment, my TB does not need to work every. single. day. to stay strong and fit.
 
(2)  I hose my horse before AND after I ride.  There’s nothing wrong with tacking up a wet horse, he’s going to be sweaty soon anyway.  It is CRITICAL while hosing to constantly scrape water off.  Water is a thermal insulator & you can bake your horse in an aquatic oven if you just cover him with water & let it sit there.  The heat is then trapped in his body, which can cause metabolic distress in a big fat hurry.  As you scrape, you will notice the water you are scraping off gets hot almost instantly.  Keep hosing and scraping until that water is cool, especially big muscle groups, like his haunches and neck, and large blood vessels between his hind legs and on his chest.  You can hold running cold water on his jugular vein from his throat to his chest for a few minutes for systemic cooling.

(3)  Fans for everyone.  Small, medium, large, big-ass, plug-in, battery, solar, who cares.  We have physical battles over the space in front of/under the fan.  When in doubt, BUY MOAR FANS!



(4)  Not all shade is your friend.  I prefer open-sided (or 1-2 shade walls) shelters on top of a hill for the horses (breeze, if there is one).  Don’t let the woods lure you in; angry hordes of swarming, maddening vampires await (some call them deer flies).

Lawn Mowers June 14
I didn't want to mow, so I delegated...
(5)  Fly sheets are great…until it’s 102.  The fly boots stay on, but masks and sheets come off over about 85-90.  It’s just. too. hot.  Unless you jump in the pond.  ;P

(6)   Equine electrolytes, but not for the reason you think.  Just like humans, most of the time, the equine metabolism will just pee out the salts in any electrolyte you give him, whether it be paste, or loose salt, or licky blocks.  The important thing is, it makes him thirsty.  For heavy work such as competition, or long trail rides, I’ll give 1/2 a tube before the ride and 1/2 a tube after to encourage drinking drinking drinking.  The boys have access to their favourite pink salt at all times.  Lots of sweat is good – as you probably know, if you don’t see sweat, call a vet (it’s a poem!).

(7)  Horse not drinking as much as you’d like?  Make his water trough more fun – dump in ice, throw in some apples or carrots.  Moisture-rich snacks are welcome, like watermelon, cool beet pulp or alfalfa slurry, or freezer pops (hey, Pete likes them, except for peach).  And keep it clean:  watch for algae build-up, food dribblers, unwelcome addition of poo (horse, bird, fish) or corpses (beetles, mice, raccoons…hey, it can happen).  If he’s in a stall, multiple buckets are always a good idea.

Now I need to go eat an ice-cream sandwich before I drag some pastures while profusely worshipping the tractor’s sunshadeLet me know how you beat the heat and still have pony fun!
Bonus if you know the movie

17 TFS Tips For Thriving In Southern Summer

eventer79  |  at   Wednesday, June 11, 2014

B and Solo Trail Ride Dec 2013 crop
This past December...
Ah, Carolina summer, you have returned.  I noticed your chortling embrace when I took two steps out the back door and then needed to change my shirt because all of my sweat came out at once.

OH, BUT IT'S BEAUTIFUL IN MAINE TODAY! 

I can hear the gloating from you Yankees (hee), but I can take it:  I'll be enjoying my t-shirt XC school in February while your tears freeze onto your snow shovel.  I did my time.

For my compatriots who spent their younger years chipping vehicles out of solid ice blocks & kicking giant ice cubes in the shape of five-gallon buckets & dragging full muck buckets in sleds across snow...and bolted when they got the chance, I wanted to share our tips for living and working (oh yes, I sweat & carry heavy things all day long and then come home and -- sweat & carry heavy things; it is possible that I am stupid.  Oh wait, I own a horse; scratch that: definitely stupid) in our "included free with purchase!" sweat box.

WHAT HAVE I DONE?  HELP ME!!!

If you (and/or your horse) are new to this dance with 100% saturated air that does not produce rain, you are probably staring with dismay at your car, a mere 100 feet away from your front door, perplexed as to how to get to it & still arrive at work without looking like you LITERALLY just stepped out of the shower -- a really smelly shower with no towel.  I promise, the first summer is the worst, but that is why I am here for you, and why you obviously make smart choices by reading this ridiculous awesome blog.  We can all learn by experience, but you aren't required to.

ALL YOUR PROBLEMS, SOLVED

Humans:

(1)  Take your time:  there is a reason we do everything slowly, including speech.  Moving quickly = more sweat.  Sitting in the shade drinking iced tea beer = less sweat.

(2)  Read this postCotton is NOT your friend.  Ever.  Unless you enjoy slowly suffocating in a blanket of your own perspiration.  Stalk those amazing technical fabric running shirts (bite me, equine brands who want me to pay $50 for a t-shirt, er, bless your hearts, I’m a “normal” person, not made of disposable cash), you can find them on sale at a myriad of sporting goods/outdoor retailers for $12 or less.

(3)  Read this post.  Oh, CoolMedics, bless your heart (practice this phrase, it allows you to say anything without actually insulting someone).  Evaporative cooling is indeed a sound scientific principle – WHEN EVAPORATION ACTUALLY OCCURS.  5000% humidity, not so much.  Thick layer of soggy textiles = misery.

(4)  I wear a handkerchief under my helmet.  (1) Stops profuse sweat from running into my eyes when riding (it burns us, precioussss!) and (2) when I pull off my helmet, I immediately put my head under the hose and soak hair & fabric.  I’m aliiiive!

FivePointsHT_1561 (Medium)
Jacket-free in the arena at Five Points HT
(5)  Speaking of helmet, you better still be wearing it!!  >:(  It also keeps the ticks/spiders/branches/bird poo out of your hair, as well as said sweaty, nasty hair out of your face.  Same goes for the XC vest.  At a certain point, it’s just bloody hot no matter what.  Never compromise your safety.

(6)  Speaking of attire, seriously, skip the butler jacket unless absolutely required.  I dehydrate FAST because I sweat a lot.  Even in my awesome wicky outfit, if I don’t follow my strict hydration rules & keep eating protein, I will throw up/pass out/prefer to die.  All of our competitions at CHP will waive jackets as soon as it gets steamy out.  In addition, at ANY USEA event where all three phases occur in one day, you NEVER have to wear a jacket.  A technical, tidy polo or show shirt of your choice is fine (it doesn’t even have to be white, *gasp*).  Read the rules 

If you stubbornly refuse to part from your black coat and come down centerline red-faced & drenched in sweat and then fall off after your test due to heat exhaustion, you do not look “respectful,” you just look (well, floppy & damp) not-very-smart and I dislike having to worry about the safety of fellow competitors (yes, I’m that person).

(7)  Never forget your SUNSCREEN SUNSCREEN SUNSCREEN SUNSCREEN.  And a wide-brimmed hat with a mesh top is a wonderful thing in the sun when you are not mounted.

(8)  Permanently attach a water bottle to your body or the nearest fence post/jump standard/truck hood.  When I am doing field work & riding in the evenings, I can drink 3 L of water in one day & never have to pee.  It all comes out my pores (yes, I sweat like a pig, I don’t glow, I’m not a “lady”).  If you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.  I don’t even buy bottles smaller than 1 L – I keep about six in my refrigerator and refill & rotate (REUSE YOUR BOTTLES!).  I will also never again live without an icemaker in the freezer. 

(9)  Elaboration on hydration:  I have made a rule that when traveling to a competition or lesson, I must drink 1 L of water on the way there.  NO EMPTY BOTTLE, NO EXIT TRUCK.  It’s hard, but trust me, it makes a huuuuge difference.  The next bottle is half Gatorade (G2, less sugar), half water.  Tip from an ex-semi-pro mountain bike racer and over-educated gym rat (ha, not me):  Sports drinks by themselves are too concentrated for your body to absorb unless you are performing at like a super-marathoner level.  Or riding David O’s circles of death.  Your metabolism changes modes depending on activity level and if you don’t cut it with water, you’ll just pee it right out.

(10)  Once you go outside, stay out there.  I find it much harder to go in and out of air conditioning, having to re-adjust every time.  I put on my super-wicking outfit, grab my armful of fluids, and I don’t come back in until I am done.  Naturally, frequent drink breaks in the run-in are highly encouraged!

Solo Yadkin 08 edit
2008!  Solo had a mane...in the upper Yadkin River.
Horses:

(1)  The hottest hours of our days are from 2-5 pm, NOT noon-1 pm (we like to be different).  I try to ride after 6 pm whenever I can.  That said, you DO need to spend some time riding in the heat to heat-condition your horse.  His metabolism can adjust, but to do so, he needs to do some work in the mugginess.  But I’m wayyy past the age where I feel driven to make myself miserable just because…why?  I’m not competing at any level at the moment, my TB does not need to work every. single. day. to stay strong and fit.
 
(2)  I hose my horse before AND after I ride.  There’s nothing wrong with tacking up a wet horse, he’s going to be sweaty soon anyway.  It is CRITICAL while hosing to constantly scrape water off.  Water is a thermal insulator & you can bake your horse in an aquatic oven if you just cover him with water & let it sit there.  The heat is then trapped in his body, which can cause metabolic distress in a big fat hurry.  As you scrape, you will notice the water you are scraping off gets hot almost instantly.  Keep hosing and scraping until that water is cool, especially big muscle groups, like his haunches and neck, and large blood vessels between his hind legs and on his chest.  You can hold running cold water on his jugular vein from his throat to his chest for a few minutes for systemic cooling.

(3)  Fans for everyone.  Small, medium, large, big-ass, plug-in, battery, solar, who cares.  We have physical battles over the space in front of/under the fan.  When in doubt, BUY MOAR FANS!



(4)  Not all shade is your friend.  I prefer open-sided (or 1-2 shade walls) shelters on top of a hill for the horses (breeze, if there is one).  Don’t let the woods lure you in; angry hordes of swarming, maddening vampires await (some call them deer flies).

Lawn Mowers June 14
I didn't want to mow, so I delegated...
(5)  Fly sheets are great…until it’s 102.  The fly boots stay on, but masks and sheets come off over about 85-90.  It’s just. too. hot.  Unless you jump in the pond.  ;P

(6)   Equine electrolytes, but not for the reason you think.  Just like humans, most of the time, the equine metabolism will just pee out the salts in any electrolyte you give him, whether it be paste, or loose salt, or licky blocks.  The important thing is, it makes him thirsty.  For heavy work such as competition, or long trail rides, I’ll give 1/2 a tube before the ride and 1/2 a tube after to encourage drinking drinking drinking.  The boys have access to their favourite pink salt at all times.  Lots of sweat is good – as you probably know, if you don’t see sweat, call a vet (it’s a poem!).

(7)  Horse not drinking as much as you’d like?  Make his water trough more fun – dump in ice, throw in some apples or carrots.  Moisture-rich snacks are welcome, like watermelon, cool beet pulp or alfalfa slurry, or freezer pops (hey, Pete likes them, except for peach).  And keep it clean:  watch for algae build-up, food dribblers, unwelcome addition of poo (horse, bird, fish) or corpses (beetles, mice, raccoons…hey, it can happen).  If he’s in a stall, multiple buckets are always a good idea.

Now I need to go eat an ice-cream sandwich before I drag some pastures while profusely worshipping the tractor’s sunshadeLet me know how you beat the heat and still have pony fun!
Bonus if you know the movie

June 9, 2014

Especially when he does landscaping, too!  It's Mr. Shiny's favourite part of summer.



Apologies for crappy cell phone vid, interesting things always happen when you don't have the real camera nearby!

I Love My Hippopotamus

eventer79  |  at   Monday, June 09, 2014

Especially when he does landscaping, too!  It's Mr. Shiny's favourite part of summer.



Apologies for crappy cell phone vid, interesting things always happen when you don't have the real camera nearby!

June 6, 2014

VA HT May 2011 088 (Medium)
Quiet Moments
I apologize for the rather scattered nature of my last post, but hopefully you were sufficiently distracted by pictures of pus and PONY!

PROBLEM

I have been thinking a lot about this blog lately (among other things, my brain is a hamster on drugs, remember).  Because there is a conundrum.  Longtime readers know that my writing (ok, world) centers around Solo and his big little brother, eventing, horsemanship, and associated topics.  As our Facebook page notes, it focuses on “being an adult amateur, putting your horse first, and fighting for your goals in a sport that has no mercy for the unprepared or faint of heart (or wallet).”  Aside from an occasional note about the unique challenges (and sometimes awesomeness) of my real job, my personal life is, well, personal.  For myself, the latter is neither relevant nor appropriate content re: my mission statement.

That being said, those of you who have been wonderful supporters along the way also know that my policy is 100% open honesty (pretty sure that’s redundant but my level of give-a-shit is low right now).  Result: conundrum.

SOLUTION?

But I think I have made a decision (reference said hamsters above while laughing about lack of decisiveness in statement of decision).  Although TFS (Team Flying Solo) is an entity I often reference, as is (now) FSF (Flying Solo Farm), the title of this blog remains “We Are Flying Solo:  The Journey Of A Horse And His Girl.”  Just like Solo’s name, there are many layers there, but our story IS about the journey.  And no journey (except maybe a really boring one) is complete or worthwhile without highs AND lows.

Notre_Dame_Academy
Go Pandas! They get to wear polos now?!
If perchance anyone who went to high school with me reads this post, they will giggle at the title along with me.  But it is also A Thing.  I had the same, phenomenal, AP English teacher both my sophomore & senior year of high school.  Mrs. Bricking was the kind of teacher who challenges you to constantly raise the bar, with the motive of opening the minds and eyes of 15-18 year-olds, who are sure they know everything, to a broader view of the world, and the powerful themes and tools that great literature provides.

Spiderman Fail
I totally just used Spiderman; but he fits
Which brings me to the title:  it was there I learned about this nearly ubiquitous tool of story-telling.  The “Tragic Hero” is the main character, usually the protagonist (read:  good guy/woman/thing), and we love her (gender pronoun chosen for simplicity).  She is rife with good qualities, but she always has a “Tragic Flaw,” an Achilles heel, which is required, otherwise you wouldn’t have a story!  It may be an unrequited love, a physical weakness, a negative personality trait, what have you.  As a result, she travels the worn path of the “Tragic Journey.”  Its outcome is uncertain, but there will always be a build-up, a “Tragic Fall” (yeah, everything is Tragic, LOL, goes back to the Greek Tragedies of Sophocles and his peers) to the nadir, the lowest point of the journey.  The Hero(ine) must then struggle to rise from this nadir in order to triumph (or not) in the end.  Think about your favourite movie or book plots – see it?

THAT’S NICE, BUT WHAT, SO YOU’RE A HEROINE NOW?

Hardly.  But that is how I arrived at my conclusion that there is a story that I have not yet written down which needs to be told, because it most certainly is not only a part, but both initiates and shapes OUR entire journey.  A few of you know the details, but I experienced my own nadir in a trauma like no other several years ago (not horse-related) and it continues to haunt my steps.  No doubt you have noticed a change in the blog and I can tell you that it is not, in large part, due to the purchase and move to the farm.  Rather, the reverse is the case, where Flying Solo Farm was born of the Tragic Fall in an attempt to salvage what pieces of the future remained.

Uwharrie Ride 3_10 004 resize
BFF & the amazing Texas Pete at Uwharrie NF
IT ALWAYS TAKES A TEAM

So I hope that you can be patient with me as the epileptic hamster tries to find his way back to the wheel in the dark.  Blindfolded.  On three legs.  I do count myself very lucky in having BFF and Erica, who have been unbelievably awesome help, along with THREE incredible neighbours, the wonderful network of Area II Adult Riders and the eventing community.  They’ve got my six and I am also thankful every day to my mother, who helped make it possible for me to have the most wonderful scenery ever, including my two orange buddies, in which to negotiate the maze and find my way back to this woman.

Gallop (or walk, or just hug) on and don’t worry:  my ridiculous dorkiness and penchant for crazy adventures which never go according to plan remains intact, so you need not cry yourself to sleep that your life shall be unfulfilled without the TFS posts (haha).  Writing is wonderfully cathartic and I hope to continue to share posts with you and of course am reading all of yours!  And I am still determined as ever to get my amazing Encore ( daily thanks too, CANTER MA!) to a T3DE, it’s just going to take a little longer than planned (oh wait, it was a horse plan, that’s a given).

Evening therapy sessions by the pond
One very tired Eventer79 --

Out.

The Journey Of The Tragic Hero

eventer79  |  at   Friday, June 06, 2014

VA HT May 2011 088 (Medium)
Quiet Moments
I apologize for the rather scattered nature of my last post, but hopefully you were sufficiently distracted by pictures of pus and PONY!

PROBLEM

I have been thinking a lot about this blog lately (among other things, my brain is a hamster on drugs, remember).  Because there is a conundrum.  Longtime readers know that my writing (ok, world) centers around Solo and his big little brother, eventing, horsemanship, and associated topics.  As our Facebook page notes, it focuses on “being an adult amateur, putting your horse first, and fighting for your goals in a sport that has no mercy for the unprepared or faint of heart (or wallet).”  Aside from an occasional note about the unique challenges (and sometimes awesomeness) of my real job, my personal life is, well, personal.  For myself, the latter is neither relevant nor appropriate content re: my mission statement.

That being said, those of you who have been wonderful supporters along the way also know that my policy is 100% open honesty (pretty sure that’s redundant but my level of give-a-shit is low right now).  Result: conundrum.

SOLUTION?

But I think I have made a decision (reference said hamsters above while laughing about lack of decisiveness in statement of decision).  Although TFS (Team Flying Solo) is an entity I often reference, as is (now) FSF (Flying Solo Farm), the title of this blog remains “We Are Flying Solo:  The Journey Of A Horse And His Girl.”  Just like Solo’s name, there are many layers there, but our story IS about the journey.  And no journey (except maybe a really boring one) is complete or worthwhile without highs AND lows.

Notre_Dame_Academy
Go Pandas! They get to wear polos now?!
If perchance anyone who went to high school with me reads this post, they will giggle at the title along with me.  But it is also A Thing.  I had the same, phenomenal, AP English teacher both my sophomore & senior year of high school.  Mrs. Bricking was the kind of teacher who challenges you to constantly raise the bar, with the motive of opening the minds and eyes of 15-18 year-olds, who are sure they know everything, to a broader view of the world, and the powerful themes and tools that great literature provides.

Spiderman Fail
I totally just used Spiderman; but he fits
Which brings me to the title:  it was there I learned about this nearly ubiquitous tool of story-telling.  The “Tragic Hero” is the main character, usually the protagonist (read:  good guy/woman/thing), and we love her (gender pronoun chosen for simplicity).  She is rife with good qualities, but she always has a “Tragic Flaw,” an Achilles heel, which is required, otherwise you wouldn’t have a story!  It may be an unrequited love, a physical weakness, a negative personality trait, what have you.  As a result, she travels the worn path of the “Tragic Journey.”  Its outcome is uncertain, but there will always be a build-up, a “Tragic Fall” (yeah, everything is Tragic, LOL, goes back to the Greek Tragedies of Sophocles and his peers) to the nadir, the lowest point of the journey.  The Hero(ine) must then struggle to rise from this nadir in order to triumph (or not) in the end.  Think about your favourite movie or book plots – see it?

THAT’S NICE, BUT WHAT, SO YOU’RE A HEROINE NOW?

Hardly.  But that is how I arrived at my conclusion that there is a story that I have not yet written down which needs to be told, because it most certainly is not only a part, but both initiates and shapes OUR entire journey.  A few of you know the details, but I experienced my own nadir in a trauma like no other several years ago (not horse-related) and it continues to haunt my steps.  No doubt you have noticed a change in the blog and I can tell you that it is not, in large part, due to the purchase and move to the farm.  Rather, the reverse is the case, where Flying Solo Farm was born of the Tragic Fall in an attempt to salvage what pieces of the future remained.

Uwharrie Ride 3_10 004 resize
BFF & the amazing Texas Pete at Uwharrie NF
IT ALWAYS TAKES A TEAM

So I hope that you can be patient with me as the epileptic hamster tries to find his way back to the wheel in the dark.  Blindfolded.  On three legs.  I do count myself very lucky in having BFF and Erica, who have been unbelievably awesome help, along with THREE incredible neighbours, the wonderful network of Area II Adult Riders and the eventing community.  They’ve got my six and I am also thankful every day to my mother, who helped make it possible for me to have the most wonderful scenery ever, including my two orange buddies, in which to negotiate the maze and find my way back to this woman.

Gallop (or walk, or just hug) on and don’t worry:  my ridiculous dorkiness and penchant for crazy adventures which never go according to plan remains intact, so you need not cry yourself to sleep that your life shall be unfulfilled without the TFS posts (haha).  Writing is wonderfully cathartic and I hope to continue to share posts with you and of course am reading all of yours!  And I am still determined as ever to get my amazing Encore ( daily thanks too, CANTER MA!) to a T3DE, it’s just going to take a little longer than planned (oh wait, it was a horse plan, that’s a given).

Evening therapy sessions by the pond
One very tired Eventer79 --

Out.

June 4, 2014

Encore Wound
Lovely
Apparently.  Since on Sunday afternoon, I was presented with the delight you see pictured.

While I spent THREE HOURS clipping and probing and tweezer-ing and hosing and de-ticking (at least he’s patient), I told him next time he had an itch, he could just politely point it out so I could take care of it instead of over-dramatically experimenting with self-gutting on his own.  He already looks like burn victim, having used every reachable surface to scratch half the skin off his face.  He’s that little kid that you have duct-tape oven mitts when they get chicken pox so they won’t claw their skin off.  Only I don’t have enough oven mitts for every post.  And tree.  And rock.  And his entire body.

Ah well, I hadn’t used the emergency vet number in a while.  It was just hot enough and swollen enough and oozy enough that I wanted to make sure I had covered all my bases before someone came to check it out Monday and give him a (naturally, expensive) steroid shot.

Here I would like to pause and note the already employed strategery.  This adorable, wonderful, maddening horse is wearing fly boots, fly sheet when it’s not too hot, fly mask, eats garlic, gets fly spray, is treated with a tick drench, and is groomed often.  I will also note that Solo, aka I Used To Be A Giant, Accident-Prone Parasite Magnet…is fine.

He got his shot and I got permission to spend even more imaginary money on things that aren’t even fun, like antihistamines for the season.  He likely got a bit itchy from tick bites, started scratching on the TREE WITH THE FATTEST POISON IVY VINES and then the oils worked their way into broken skin and it all became a systemic cycle of itchiness.  I moved him out of pasture with said trees but then jinxed myself by observing on Saturday that he was healing nicely.

*pause for multiple eyerolls*

3'7 0 01 23-30
Remember this horse (2012) casually loping 3'7" in the chute?
On the plus side, he had the good grace to at least injure himself in a “no tack goes here” spot (I had noticed the scabs and thought movement from a ride might work out the fluid of the swelling; it did, but by the time I got the saddle off, it blew back up and on closer examination, the depth of drama was revealed).  Time is hard to come by at the moment, but I was determined to carve out 20 minutes, climb on and at least remind Encore what standards look like.
 
That ride…was our first proper jump school in – I’d actually have to look in my own archives it’s been so long – at least seven months.  We hacked next door to Trainer Neighbour’s Jump Field, adjusted a few rails, and assured Encore he would not die alone while OTHER HORSES DID INTERESTING THINGS RIGHT OVER THERE!

After perhaps two or three dressage schools over the last two months and a couple good trail rides with hill work:  The Pro still has it!  I channeled my inner David O. voice, focusing on being patient, consistent, and soft in my hand while not forgetting I have legs (what, I STILL have to think about them?) to keep his butt engaged and his poll up.  When Encore got antsy, I heard Becky in my head repeating, “Don’t torture him, give him something to do with that energy!”

C'mon, let me take you for a ride! (High Time Photography)
Reward:  Encore didn’t touch a rail, and our final jump was a 3’4” vertical from a solid rhythm where I stayed soft, kept my shoulders up over the apex, kept my butt off his back coming down, and we cantered away forward, but relaxed.  That arc where we both get it all right at the same time – I have a vague memory of that feeling.  Definitely time to get off now and don’t screw it up!  

Maybe we should all spend a little less time beating ourselves up for not riding “enough” (who defines that anyway??) and lower the pressure by just enjoying time on the back of a horse.  Letting ourselves be pleasantly surprised when picking just a detail or two for focus results in an improved bigger picture.  It doesn’t have to be a jump.  It can be a transition into a trot, three steps closer to that horse-eating tree stump, a more responsive halt, a more accurate turn, or even an anxiety-free hack in the woods.

That's a challenge for all of us -- let me know how it worked out for you!

My Horse Has Itchy Intestines

eventer79  |  at   Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Encore Wound
Lovely
Apparently.  Since on Sunday afternoon, I was presented with the delight you see pictured.

While I spent THREE HOURS clipping and probing and tweezer-ing and hosing and de-ticking (at least he’s patient), I told him next time he had an itch, he could just politely point it out so I could take care of it instead of over-dramatically experimenting with self-gutting on his own.  He already looks like burn victim, having used every reachable surface to scratch half the skin off his face.  He’s that little kid that you have duct-tape oven mitts when they get chicken pox so they won’t claw their skin off.  Only I don’t have enough oven mitts for every post.  And tree.  And rock.  And his entire body.

Ah well, I hadn’t used the emergency vet number in a while.  It was just hot enough and swollen enough and oozy enough that I wanted to make sure I had covered all my bases before someone came to check it out Monday and give him a (naturally, expensive) steroid shot.

Here I would like to pause and note the already employed strategery.  This adorable, wonderful, maddening horse is wearing fly boots, fly sheet when it’s not too hot, fly mask, eats garlic, gets fly spray, is treated with a tick drench, and is groomed often.  I will also note that Solo, aka I Used To Be A Giant, Accident-Prone Parasite Magnet…is fine.

He got his shot and I got permission to spend even more imaginary money on things that aren’t even fun, like antihistamines for the season.  He likely got a bit itchy from tick bites, started scratching on the TREE WITH THE FATTEST POISON IVY VINES and then the oils worked their way into broken skin and it all became a systemic cycle of itchiness.  I moved him out of pasture with said trees but then jinxed myself by observing on Saturday that he was healing nicely.

*pause for multiple eyerolls*

3'7 0 01 23-30
Remember this horse (2012) casually loping 3'7" in the chute?
On the plus side, he had the good grace to at least injure himself in a “no tack goes here” spot (I had noticed the scabs and thought movement from a ride might work out the fluid of the swelling; it did, but by the time I got the saddle off, it blew back up and on closer examination, the depth of drama was revealed).  Time is hard to come by at the moment, but I was determined to carve out 20 minutes, climb on and at least remind Encore what standards look like.
 
That ride…was our first proper jump school in – I’d actually have to look in my own archives it’s been so long – at least seven months.  We hacked next door to Trainer Neighbour’s Jump Field, adjusted a few rails, and assured Encore he would not die alone while OTHER HORSES DID INTERESTING THINGS RIGHT OVER THERE!

After perhaps two or three dressage schools over the last two months and a couple good trail rides with hill work:  The Pro still has it!  I channeled my inner David O. voice, focusing on being patient, consistent, and soft in my hand while not forgetting I have legs (what, I STILL have to think about them?) to keep his butt engaged and his poll up.  When Encore got antsy, I heard Becky in my head repeating, “Don’t torture him, give him something to do with that energy!”

C'mon, let me take you for a ride! (High Time Photography)
Reward:  Encore didn’t touch a rail, and our final jump was a 3’4” vertical from a solid rhythm where I stayed soft, kept my shoulders up over the apex, kept my butt off his back coming down, and we cantered away forward, but relaxed.  That arc where we both get it all right at the same time – I have a vague memory of that feeling.  Definitely time to get off now and don’t screw it up!  

Maybe we should all spend a little less time beating ourselves up for not riding “enough” (who defines that anyway??) and lower the pressure by just enjoying time on the back of a horse.  Letting ourselves be pleasantly surprised when picking just a detail or two for focus results in an improved bigger picture.  It doesn’t have to be a jump.  It can be a transition into a trot, three steps closer to that horse-eating tree stump, a more responsive halt, a more accurate turn, or even an anxiety-free hack in the woods.

That's a challenge for all of us -- let me know how it worked out for you!

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