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We Are Flying Solo

December 30, 2013

Isn't Time Off Supposed To Let You Rest And Catch Up?

Citation: ranked #3 after only Man O'War and Secretariat
I must be mistaken...

So I'll post my 300th mea culpa.  But I will share with you my ongoing project which fascinates me!

I mentioned that Pinterest had caught my addiction, er, eye despite my best efforts.  I had never really had any desire to look at scrapbooks or teenagers' bulletin boards, but with some digging, I did find more to it.  Poking led to clicking, clicking led to more clicking and I began to put together a visual collection of Encore's family tree, among a few other fun boards.  And it's amazing!

Discovering new parts to old stories and new stories of new horses is like finding a key to one of the most amazing treasure chests of all time.  My childhood was filled with re-readings of my favourite stories such as "Man o' War" and "Black Gold" (who I never knew was infertile) and "Old Bones: the story of Exterminator."  My shelves were lined with Stablemate models of Swaps and Native Dancer (and many more!).  Now I feel like I am touching each one as I lay my hand on Encore's neck.

I never knew they were related!  Count Fleet, 1943 Triple Crown winner -- and Mr P's great grandsire!
The one and only...
The Thoroughbred heritage and legacy truly is magical.  Part of me wonders why Encore was gelded; while he wasn't a stakes winner, he does have excellent conformation and he carries such a diverse mixture of old and legendary, European and American, famous and quirky lines.  Maybe he was just an asshole, hahaha, but more likely, and correctly so, few of the lines are rare and while he is special to me, his is not truly spectacular, as a good stallion such as AP Indy or or Secretariat or Buckpasser should be.

I continue to dig deeper and find more information about each horse and uncover the stories of the less famous, but still incredibly influential names.  I itch to organize it better!  Where is that catchup time again???

December 24, 2013

Behind The Scenes With The Scribe

Honestly, I am soooo not a holiday person, so I will let the pros take care of that, as far as seasonal posts.  But I have been storing a little gift for you, regardless!

Tools of the trade
You all know that I am a huge demander advocate of volunteering (DO IT! PS, it doesn't have to be a weekend, call your organizer today!), not only would our sport be impossible without it, but it's fun even for non-riders and incredibly educational at so many levels.  Kudos to Seema over at The Florida Chronicles for starting this thread recently on COTH about everyone's volunteering plans for the year -- a great idea and call to action, as well as a fun way to network!!

I've chronicled my efforts to support the long format 3DE's at Waredaca and Southern Eighths with everything I have; not only do I believe in the format as the eventing I grew up with, I also watch, every year, as it works its magic, teaching horses and riders things they didn't even know they didn't know.

At the 2013 Waredaca T/N3DE, I had 4,327 jobs (LOL, this is what happens when you become part of core staff - and if you even whisper that you might not make it, you must live in fear of a posse hunting you down in the night) over the weekend, but on dressage day, my main assignment this year was score running.  It was nice to change up, as the past couple of years I have stewarded the warm up ring, which I enjoy, but variety is the spice of life!

First rule of volunteering:  expect the unexpected!  Due to a mis-communication and my getting peoples' names confused (which is about as difficult for me as inhaling), one of the dressage judges was missing a scribe after lunch.  I don't get to scribe all that often, but I love it and have shared it before (well, the learning part, it balances out the OMG, USE FEWER WORDS BEFORE I HAVE AN ANXIETY ATTACK FOR FEAR OF MISSING SOMETHING part).  And no problem, we had another awesome person who could run scores until another scribe was found.

Settling into the passenger seat (hey, it's freaking windy in that arena and Waredaca has it's own special weather system of wet/cold/hang on to loose papers), I was doubly excited because the judge was someone I knew when he was often a TD at our competitions and now holds his FEI card.  So I already knew he had a very experienced eye both as an official and trainer.

He didn't let me down.

We all have heard the 10,001 urban myths, rumours, theories, stoutly professed convictions, and rant about the wholly subjective nature of dressage judging, "good" judges, "bad" judges, how to improve scores, what is most important...need I go on?

Now that I have had the opportunitiy to help run these events and spend time conversing with some of the top event judges in our region (and country), as well as those moving through the program, I have realized how massive the committment of time, money, energy, more money, and education it takes to earn that title.  And yep, there are bad ones out there, but most are working very hard to make split second decisions about a pair in motion according to a long list of standards.

Due to this experience and my own extremely nerdy extensive study of, well, things that have the word "horse" in them, I know when I'm sitting next to a good one.  And I know when I'm sitting next to a great one.  And while there is not a lot of time to watch the horses, once you know the test, even with the occasional peek, you start to see a pattern; in other words, there are certain words and phrases that you wish you had a rubber stamp for.

Those, my friends, with a painfully long buildup, are my gift to you, as you putter about in the winter looking for bits and pieces of projects which undoubtedly includes "how to hate the dressage ring less."  You will probably read them and think, "well, duh!" but I honestly wrote each of these many times, all or in part, on almost every test. 

From an excellent, correct dressage judge to you:  The Most Frequent Ways To Screw Up Or Improve Your Dressage Tests -

  • GET THE DAMN POLL UP.  Do we have your attention?  LOL.  But seriously, it doesn't matter how arch-y your horse's neck is or how well you've mastered that fake frame without a true connection to his hind end or how much you paid for that fancy trot -- the judge knows the difference.  The poll still needs to be the highest point, with a fluid, steady connection through the horse's topline to his hind legs.
  • On that vein, make sure you keep pushing your horse forward so his poll STAYS up in the corners and turns.
  • Transitions are important:  the most important qualities are balance and forwardness, even in downward transitions.
  • Keep your forward in every. single. step.  This is critical in movements like the stretchy circle or the free walk; just teaching your horse to shove his nose to his ankles when you drop the rein is not good enough.  He must march forward with his nose poking out (Encore gets dinged on this one, he loves to admire his own ankles).
  • Be straight.  Yeah, yeah, but how much do you REALLY hold yourself and your horse to a higher bar?  Don't let the haunches fall in at the canter, don't lose the shoulder in a leg yield or a bend, really ride his whole body.  
  • On extended gaits, you should definitely go for the gold at trot and canter, but know your partner:  a conservative, but balanced and correct lengthening will score better than a quick and unbalanced attempt that breaks to canter.  Also be very critical in the quality of your lengthenings.  Start small at home, but start CORRECTLY.  Your rhythm should not change, but then stride should increase in both length and lift of the horse's body.
  • Common tattletale signs of lost connection that you will be penalized for:  (a) head nodding, indicating the horse is leaning on the inside leg or rein, (b) hanging on the inside rein, losing the outside shoulder, my personal favourite, and (c) the horse tripping behind due to lack of impulsion.
  • Common myths that really need to go away:  (a) it's not a nazi camp, if a ring panel blows down or a dog runs into the ring or whatever, and your horse spooks, a good judge will not penalize you and (b) they REALLY DON'T NOTICE OR GIVE A CRAP about your hair or your horsie's hair as long as they can see the crestline of the neck and things are clean.  Really.

December 18, 2013

Oh Yeah, By The Way, I Did Remember To Turn On The Helmet Cam...

...on the only course I didn't finish, heh.  But I did capture Encore's awesome leaps over 1-4 & his first coffin at 5 (and they named it the "Sunken Road," ahahaha!).  Bonus:  if you crank your speakers up, you get to hear "I always forget my camera has a microphone" dorkiness!  Hey, Bill is my favourite starter of all time & sent Solo & I out of the box throughout our career, I get excited.

December 16, 2013

TFS Is Getting All Social And Crap

If you haven't noticed my shameless (ok, there's a little shame, but whatever) caving to the interwebz, TFS has been exploring different types of social media.  Results have varied.

I'm An Official Twit
I'm not a particularly avid fan of Twitter, but I do have an account, primarily because I was reading tweets from The Shatner for a while (don't judge, he is hilarious!), so it is linked to my Google account & primarily operates in an automated fashion.  I suck at thinking of short, pithy comments & kind of still don't understand the point....  But it WILL tell you when something really important happens, like new posts!

Ummm, yeah, this  may have been me...
Pinterest:  Internet Heroin

I feel significantly less shame about my recent peek into Pinterest.  I honestly did not understand what or why or how the heck it even worked.  Or why anyone with any semblance of organizational desire & limited time would even try to mire through the seemingly infinite scrolls of image tiles.  But it found one of my critical weaknesses:  visual addiction

Why do you prey on my soft spots, interwebz?  But I will step up & own it & you can find buttons to all of our ridiculous self-marketing of dorkiness and equine obsession accounts right up top.  Our Facebook and Youtube links are still there, as well as G+ since apparently Google adds that by default in some delusion that more than 12 people use it.  Plus you can now subscribe to our feed by email & shun the weird world of RSS!

What, did you not want my random blog to be part of every aspect of your life?  Travesty!

December 14, 2013

This Is How We Roll: Turnout Blankets, Part Deux (Or Trois? Quatre?)

In case you need someone to state the obvious, it's winter.  Cold, wet, dark winter.  Unless you live in Florida.  Or the US SW.  Or the southern hemisphere.  Or...well, I don't care, it's winter here!

This leads to cold, wet ponies and our need to muddle through the excessive array of horse clothes and, with little empirical data, figure out if there is any reason we actually need to spend $400 on a freaking sheet of nylon that will be rubbed into a pile of horseshit, urine, and wet clay.

I've talked about turnouts a time or two in the past:  (1) The original November 2011 review of the Weatherbeeta Landa midweight turnout, the Rider's International rain sheet, and the beautiful ears-to-tail midweight rug from  (2)  My stupid self-jinx wherein one month later Solo destroys his own blanket after 5 years of faithful service.  (3)  The April 2013 review of SmartPak's 10-year Ballistic Nylon sheet, wherein they actually do honour that guarantee! 

Lessons learned:  A 600D turnout is just fine if your horse is (a) by himself, (b) top dog, or (c) in a generally placid group that don't bite each other and don't seek out pointy things.

Also, if you DO need to fix some things, I just handsew the tears, then seal with this waterproof seam glue and, if needed or in too much of a hurry to sew, slap on a Stormshield patch.  Yes, they work!  Thank you, SSTack!

So what's on the runway this winter?  Well, things are a little simpler now that the boys are separated, thanks to Solo's decision to use Encore as his personal chew toy and getting a little bit carried away (I can't tighten a girth over raw, chewed-up skin, that's just not very nice).

Rainsheets:  Encore is shedding the wet in his second SmartPak "indestructible" sheet.  Sooo, they are not quite indestructible, and this one has a very small hole now, but the important part is that they ARE pretty tough and, even more important, SmartPak DOES back up their product.

Not Solo.  His is purple.  With green trim.  Oh yeah.
Solo is still wearing his McAlister 600D sheet.  They both had these at the beginning of last winter, I believe I got them on sale at Horseloverz, but Solo, naturally, ate Encore's.  His own is still 95% intact; the only flaw is that his big QH chest combined with cheap metal on the chest clips equaled the top clip separating from its base on the upper chest strap.  I just flipped it around so the clip goes through both the metal loop and the hole in the chest strap.  It works the same, and all the rest of the hardware is fine, so I reckon it's doing well and it still keeps the wind off and he is dry.  Not sure that brand even exists anymore, looks like Horze has moved into that price point.  

Insulated blankets:  In the aftermath of Solo's nylon-ivorous (?) rampage, I found a couple of 1200D Centaur blankets on steep sale and decided to try a new brand.  Given their low price, I've been pleasantly surprised!!

Obviously not Solo. Duh. But that plaid!
Solo has the mid-weight; nice nylon lining, evenly-distributed insulation, totally waterproof and breathable, nice, durable leg strap snaps.  The only thing missing is chest snaps, but it does have velcro and buckling straps won't kill me, I don't have to blanket 10 horses.  Naturally, in a sale, you don't really get to pick colours, so he rocks the blue and brown plaid (at least it's nicer in person).

Since Encore has been in work, usually has a higher clip, and burns calories when he blinks, he got the heavy-weight, high neck version.  I like it just as much as Solo's.  The only colour option was black (you get even fewer choices at 81"), so he looks a bit ninja, but he really seems grateful when I put it on and it has helped a lot in my constant efforts to hold his weight.  The high neck even gives His Wussiness an extra draft collar.

Encore's high neck version.  On not-Encore.
Both the Centaurs have a nice, weighty, well-made feel for them, neither have rubbed, shifted, broken, or torn and they've kept my boys protected on these 25 degree, breezy nights this week.  They don't get too sweaty if the sun comes out during the day (I can't always be there to pull blankets), so I don't have to worry about gross overheating thanks to good breathability.

I did pick up one extra in case Encore's Centaur didn't make it, as Solo did manage to rip it once before they were separated; during one of SmartPak's clearance events (I always blanket shop in June/July).  I got one of their super nice insulated blankets for something ridiculous like $60, but I'm saving it for backup, so it's nice and clean in storage.  I also still have his older (multi-repaired, but still functional) EquestrianClearance mega-warm blankie just in case too.  Hey, spares are important!

Fingers crossed, but so far, things are looking warm and uneventful in the horse clothes category this winter!

December 10, 2013


I miss my boys.  They haven't gone anywhere.  But between work and selling and building and maintaining and trying to be everything else, I've been elsewhere. 

The dark, the cold, the rain, they've gotten to me more than usual this year, thanks to the extra stress.  I end each workday utterly exhausted and when I can get to the farm, usually the most I can muster is hoof picking, blanket switching, and some treats.

I miss the quiet brush of bristles on hair, as a soft muzzle turns and gently touches my hip to say, "I'm here."

I miss the settling sound as I place the saddle on a blanketed back.

I miss the unmistakable jingle of girth buckles and the blunt meeting of teeth and bit.

I miss swinging my leg into place and knowing I am home, on a strong red horse who doesn't care what we do as long as it's something.

I miss the way working with the horse allows me to be focused, calm, and conscious of every part of my body in a way that escapes me everywhere else.

I miss structuring an exercise or a ride to guide the horse towards the correct answer and those first steps when he finds it.  Then connecting those steps to build a path towards a goal.

I miss that swinging walk on a loose rein when we can both just be.  Where I listen to the four-beat rhythm that matches my heart and we breathe in the evening together.

I am aching to return to that place and its melody of familiar notes.  In two weeks, the solstice will mark the beginning of the end of short, dark days and offer the first hints of brighter days ahead.  And none too soon, because by the end of January, I have usually run out of patience for endless grey and am more than willing to trade my soul for a leaf bud.

But that's not the most important part.  No, it's hoofbeats and the creak of leather and even the frosty cloud of air puffed from cold nostrils that I'd trade for now.  If I can just peek under the right rock, one of them, I'm sure, is hiding that train ticket back to where I belong...     

December 9, 2013

I Promise It Will Be Over Soon!

Ok, so bringing TFS into something close to 2014 has been a teeensy bit more involved than I thought. Something akin to a first grader deciding to read Dostoyevsky. It made RSS look like "See Spot Run." *insert crossed eyes here*

Feel like this?
Truly, my deepest apologies for any confusion, broken things, and craziness you may have witnessed. For the unintentional beta-testers, I hope you will forgive a rainy weekend's nibble that turned into a choking incident.

If not, errrr, nothing to see, move along...

As a woman who hates change, it probably seems (is) insane that I jumped into it at all. I'm still not crazy about the whole thing, and there are still pieces to find, delete, tweak...once I can poke around in the alphabet soup of template code and even find which bits go together. Let's just say that "revert changes" is an excellent button.

But along with the unveiling of the new logo, all of Blogger's changes (they did it first!) and my trial-and-error revamping and embiggening of our feed and social integration (hey, it doesn't mean I have to do the latter in real life), I learned that there have been a lot of changes to blog and search world since 2008, which is when our last template code was written. So off I merrily went, messed everything up, and now am finally getting close to returning things to a semblance of working order.

The claim is that the new code-set is more widely compatible, as is the new feed, enabling even email subscriptions, more browser support, and, say, a search box that actually WORKS with Blogger's new format.

So, hopefully, I won't have to say it again, but please alert me to any issues you may have with the main tabs or article displays. Stupid floaty label boxes and things in weird places...I'm still working on it. Here's to leaping in to ideas merely half-developed...

December 6, 2013

Want The Most Amazing T-Shirt Of All Time?

Well then, as always, my dear friends, I am here for you.

But like everything here at TFS, we can never do it alone.

This project probably started several years ago, floating around in my very strange head associated with good intentions, but it never bumped into the two necessary reagents to complete its synthesis (wow, bad organic chemistry flashback):  time and motivation.

I wandered deeper into the magical forests of Bloggerland and met new people with new ideas and as our ideas began to co-mingle, opportunity came knocking.

Is your heart pounding in your chest with suspense?  Have you caught your breath waiting for the curtain to open?  (If not, well, you need to go look up some LOLcats or something, you are taking life far too seriously.)

Without further ado, then, I bring you....

Yeah.  If you steal it, I find you in your sleep.  Just sayin'.
Yes, it IS an Official Logo, designed cooperatively with the most amazing, patient, creative, thoughtful, and professional Kate at  You may know her better from her musings on her adorable mare and her gorgeous, hand-painted saddle pads featured on The Adventures of Lucy blog (yes, apparently she does sculpture as well, there appears to be no end to her talent).

Now I fully admit to being an OCD art snob, and as previously mentioned, I had a very definite vision.  This is most likely the definition of the designer's worst nightmare.   I had watched Kate's artwork for a while and there was an undercurrent of true talent that caught my eye (if you have not checked out her sketchbook, GO THERE).  I saw a distinct identity, but I also saw the ability to explore different media and stylistic modes and do it well, which is rare, so I decided to entrust her with my brainchild (probably much to her later chagrin). 

It gets better.  Since I was recently contacted by Beck Jordan from Allied Shirts (a sister brand to Build-A-Sign, who printed my license plate and bumper stickers, and Printcopia, who...well, now's their chance!) with an offer to print a shirt with the graphics of my choice for online review.  So, with a frantic email to Kate (who had already been working with me on the logo) after finding out I had eight days to pull together my dilly-dally-ing and order, we channeled our collective energies and out came this!

Ummm, yeah, in my own totally valid humble opinion, it turned out amazing.  Allied had offered us a shirt from their basic line, which is printed on Gildan shirts (there are endless options, including Hanes Beefy-T's and girly little things by American Apparel).  To be honest, I expected one of those super-thin, square, shapeless things you get from cheap printing companies, you know the ones I mean! 

Supposed to be one-sided; they let me add a back tribute for Kate!
I did not realize I knew the brand until I got the shirt and saw the tag -- we have used the same brand for our field t-shirts for the state agency I work for.  Well, I can tell you, I have hiked, snorkeled (which includes dragging myself across rocks and sand on the river bottom), sweated, and rolled in those shirts; they can take some abuse.  I usually end up (a) getting outboard grease all over it, (b) staining it a remarkable shade of blotchy brown from ground in mud and rock slime, or (c) sweating in it so much it assumes its own form (hey, NC summers are even hot underwater), all well before the shirt has any structural failures!  Ours are usually grey with a black logo, but they don't fade or shrink when washed either.  Point:  this ain't a wussy shirt.    

An even awesomer surprise (and I mean this in a nice way, you never know what you are going to get online) was the quality of the printing.  The colours were perfect and saturated and the Solo-orange even has a tiny bit of a metallic bronze or something to it, really making it pop.  I don't even want to wear it because I don't want it to get dirty...

As of today, I have not had a chance to wash it.  I did try it on, I had ordered a small since the sizes were listed as "unisex," which us ladies know usually means "square man-sized" and I have plenty of experience with that due to work uniform orders!  It fit perfectly. 

So while I can't tell you yet how it will fare with use, I can tell you -- that plate and sticker mentioned above? -- one is on the front of my truck, the other on the back of my trailer.  They sit outside all year around and travel to multiple states.  I wash the truck maybe 4-5 times per year (not counting rain) and the trailer...never.  Both, I just observed last week, are pretty much perfect after two years of neglectWe won't discuss the bumper it's mounted under...  The black graphics on the plate have faded just a little, but in Carolina UV/heat, I'm not sure that's avoidable!  My hope is that this printing will live up to that precedent! 

Yes, yes, I will be riding around with my horse's name plastered on everything I own.  Your point?

I have to give HUGE props to Kate for putting up with my 10 million tweaks, my nit-picky questions, and my completely unpredictable schedule followed by 'OMG WE HAVE EIGHT DAYS, GO!'  She made it happen, even when we had file-type conflicts and, errr, operator error.

And THANK YOU to Allied Shirts, for doing such a great job printing our design (fast, it was in my hands in days) and letting me say thanks to a designer who went wayyyy above and beyond!  Go try it out for yourself!  I am now pondering going forward with a related project which would create goodies for you, lucky readers... 

Most of all, thank you Kate, for capturing and bringing to life my vision of a unique way to honour my very special buddy and also, to represent our future adventures at...

December 3, 2013

That Other Horse Trial That We Mostly Did

You may flog me.  It was almost a month ago!  But hey, on the plus side, perhaps I can actually tell the story concisely now (AHAHHAHAHA!).  I sort of vaguely remember what it feels like to ride my horse...

Huge thanks to Cabin Branch Tack Shop for sponsoring!
If you missed it, Encore & I did our last event of the season in early November at the Carolina Horse Park.  Their Cabin Branch Event Series of schooling events has really taken off & I extend a huge thanks to the organizers & course designers, Marc Donovan and Andrea St. Hilaire-Glenn.

Oh yeah, & I moved Encore up to Training level there.

*insert pause for giddiness*

But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

I did have the same problem I had at FenRidge in October:  our jumping time was 40 minutes after our dressage time.  Sigh.  Serious pitfall of one-day event.  But I resolved to just be as efficient as I could & this time, I was not going to short-change my horse's warmup no matter what.  I certainly couldn't have pulled it all off without the help of once-again awesome crew!

Thank cod I was able drive down the afternoon before to walk the XC course, since I was riding my dressage test at 8:30 in the morning.  I walked it twice before it got dark, decided it looked fun, with great questions, & just right for Encore.  Thank you, Andrea!!!

After a night with good friends & as much sleep time as could be managed, we made our way back to the Park & got ready for dressage.  Warmup was uneventful but not spectacular.  I'd use the same words to describe our test.  Encore got tense at entry & I tried to ride it out but he never let the tension go; his trot work was choppy & tight, but he did give me some canter that I quite liked!  Baby steps.  So our 39 was very fair.

From there it was pretty much a mad dash to change outfits & get back to SJ warmup ASAP.  I was extremely glad I decided to put his studs in before dressage.  It was a bit nervewracking hoping Encore wouldn't step on himself, even though they were only my small road studs, but he was nice enough to keep his feet away from each other & it was a lifesaver.

I kept it short & sweet in the jumping warmup as fitness was my main concern.  He really hadn't been back in work after his feet healed for much more than a month, so I was on high alert for signs of muscle fatigue.  Not that you could tell when he turned into a jump-seeking missile after entering the ring.  His own feet couldn't even keep up.

We did make that crazy time though & only demolished the first one...because I stared at the stupid jump.  Will I never learn?  It was a tight, extremely roll-back-y course that caught us both a bit off guard & Encore has not mastered that technique yet. 

That day I learned I have the most honest, try-ing-est, generous horse ever.  Even though we lost most of our impulsion in the turns & approached some jumps with me squeezing like mad & Encore at nearly a jog, he never ONCE tried to runout, refuse, & he tucked his hoofies up over each one with intense care.  By the second half of the course, he had it figured out!

I was very proud & let him take a long, slow walk to catch his breath before XC.  You can see the pro photos here, thanks to High Time Photography.

After jumping a single wide bench in warmup there, we headed out to the start box in the middle of the steeplechase track.  Encore already had his game face on & practically dragged me to the starter.  The course had a bit of everything & a LOT of terrain, so I was very interested to see what kind of ride I would get.  At the same time, I was prepared to walk off if anything felt off.

I'm very sad the photographers did not capture any of the first four jumps.  They were all single fly jumps, including a table whose width the horse did not see until they were very close & a tall bench, which I personally hate.  Aside from a very small dip, they were all on a pretty level stretch.

I can jump whatevs, mom, no worries
Fly is exactly what Encore did.  He jumped each one perfectly out of stride, rocking himself back before the jump & clearing it like child's play.  It felt amazing.

Then we went downhill to approach the little coffin at 5, which you can see in the photos.  From the elephant at the end of my reins, I gathered that his butt muscles were beginning to tire.  I did an interesting tree-maze-dance to bring him back to a trot & rebalance before turning to the first coffin element.

He peeked, but with encouragement, he jumped through & then we picked our way down the steep hill to the GINORMOUSLY MASSIVE trakehener at 6.  I don't generally have a problem riding them & have never had an issue in competition.  At a schooling, sometimes I forget I'm supposed to use my legs, but on course, I'm generally good.  This thing was big, though.  BIG.

I  kept my eye up, applied all my aids, but Encore skidded to stop.  It didn't feel like a scared stop though, & he's jumped large ones before, it felt like an "wow, that is a really big effort & I'm not sure I've got that much in the tank" stop.  My red flag waved, but I decided to let him have one more try.  We gave it a big, positive ride, but he stopped exactly the same way.

I raised The Hand & walked off.  I was 100% certain he could do the rest of the jumps on the course without a problem; he had already shown me he had the heart & scope & we had previously practiced all the questions & then some.

But it was long & it was hilly & my game, VERY professional worker-bee of a horse told me loud & clear that his muscles were not up to it.  I may have been able to stuff him over the trakehener & continue, but to what end?  I really did not want to meet the EMT's that day, nor did I want to scare or possibly injure my horse.  They don't call me Safety Nazi for nothing.

Big picture:  I thought it was a great place to end his year.  We weren't able to meet the conditioning demands in the time we had, but that is easy to fix & a good winter project.  The skills are there, now we just finesse.  If I ever have any money to compete again!

So we'll spend our cold months in the woods, trotting up & down hills & enjoying the trails, after both our bodies & brains get a good break.  I don't know if we'll get to run any horse trials next year or not, but I still get to spend the winter with my TRAINING horse & that is, as longtime readers know, a pretty big damn deal.

December 2, 2013

What Do I Do With That Orange Rainbow (RSS) Thingy? Tech Time-Out

RSS feeds:  many of you may have heard of them, some not, but they have become a huge part of following blogs, podcasts, and other chronologically (sporadically, in my sad case) updated online media.  Now I've made that first link to the Wikipedia definition page, which is a good overview, but also in places, an eye-crosser.  So I shall, in true self fashion, elaborate excessively.

TL;DR version:  RSS for Dummies

That is a great, simple article that I wish I had found a long time ago!!  But I wanted to include a couple of details so that you will be able to fulfill your extreme desire to successfully use the TFS feed.  Heh.  Small bonus:  it will now show my blog title normally and take away the annoying code and/or right justification when it shows up on other pages, like your blogroll, if you redo the subscription.

This is what you will see in the upper right.
Having even more cruelly linked my Blogger account to Feedburner (nope, don't really understand that either), I know (because it has happened to me many, many times) that you will click the RSS button, it will take you to the feed page, and some of you will go, WTF do I do now?  Being intelligent horse people, you will probably figure it out the same way I did -- click things and see what happens.  Not to take away from your exploration, but if you'd like, I can spare you the trouble!  Note:  if you are already subscribed, you have to do... nothing, because you are already awesome.  Unless the title formatting, as mentioned above, annoys you and you want to fix it.

When you click the rainbow, you have three simple choices.

(1)  If you use one of the feed readers shown in the icons or the dropdown menu, select, click, you should be set.

(2)  If you use a reader NOT shown (as I do), click the "View Feed XML."  On the next page, at the top,  you will see yet another dropdown list, which will allow you to select or navigate to your reader.  Select the one you like, decide if you want it to be your default reader for subscriptions, then just "Subscribe Now!"

(3)  If you are a lazy person like me and don't like to click and puzzle through 20 things, most mainstream readers have an option in their settings menu to add a simple "Subscribe" button to your browser bar, so you just click it while you are reading the blog, it automatically finds the page's feed, and adds it to your subscription list.  Like so in the reader I use:

I use the top "Bookmarklet."  You literally just drag it to your bookmark bar.  That is all.
I consider myself at an intermediate level of capability when it comes to using the interwebz to do what I want.  Basic HTML coding and reading (even rudimentary tables), multimedia types, uses, and storage, linking and organizing data, using FTP, all of these are fine.  Need a simple blog header that doesn't take up 2 screens?  I got ya covered.

Do the thingz I want, stupid internetz!!
However, I haven't the first clue how to use CSS, I am not a webmaster, I can't do servers. 

But back to RSS feeds:  I basically understand what they are, but the terminology and specifics still confuse the living crap out of me.  Totally.  Which probably makes you ask, then why the heck did you just add an RSS button to your blog (that's what the orange rainbow is), dork?

Because, even without really knowing it, almost everyone who reads online uses these feeds now.  Google Reader, RIP, was an excellent and very popular example of an RSS reader, which is any piece of software which gathers all the feeds you subscribe to and remembers and organizes them for your convenient reading, bookmarking, deriding, what have you.  I have found a new one I am very happy with, although it is sometimes a bit slow to load, called InoReader.  What I like is that it looks and works very similarly to Google Reader.  I hate change, harumph.

There are hundreds of other readers out there to fit all different types of devices, systems, and user preferences, so these days, it's pretty easy to search and find the one that's right for you.

Good luck, happy reading, and again, please feel free to email or comment with any issues or questions!  Unless you are trying to use it on an iPhone.  Then, bless your heart, don't bother, I don't do Apple.

Technology Fiddling: Warning

In an attempt to be a little more design-relevant (and ok yes, because I am a giant geek and love playing with geek things in an attempt to be as cool as BFF), you may notice small changes around the blog.

Content and feeds will remain (hopefully) unaffected, search though I may for a widget that gives me more time to write.

Really, I'm just apologizing in advance if you try to do something and it doesn't work.  Although I do try and be thorough.

Please do let me know, though, in an email or comment if you are having an issue with any teknology-interwebz-related stuffs!!  I work almost exclusively in Firefox, so I may not realize if there is a cross-platform or just an "I tried something out of my league" mistake.

Thanks!  As a consolation that you hopefully won't need, cute horse picture!  Ok, it's from 2010, but Solo never stops being adorable.  Although that blanket did get eaten by an equine pirahna a couple years ago, sigh.

Iz spring yet?