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We Are Flying Solo

April 24, 2016

We're Still Here, Still Crazy

My intentions to update you remain overwhelmed by assignments, but I couldn't leave a gaping hole for guesses, so I shall at least attempt The Bullet Approach:

  • To each person who has shared & those who continue to share support, kindness, laughter, & even just saying hi – THANK YOU, YOU ARE AWESOME. 
  • I apologize for any impressions that I may be sitting in a hole of self-pity, (ok, I'm human, I totally own that there was some egregious despair) however life stepped in & ripped the cover off the hole in short order. 
    • Field research season opened for roaring business at work, leaving little time for whimpering. 
    • See splashy horse (unless on a mobile)
    • It's also nearly the first weekend in May, which means – click the countdown to Heart of the Carolinas 3DE in the left sidebar to visit event central...GO LOOK AT ALL THE PRETTY THINGS, THEY TAKE A LONG TIME TO MAKE! ;P  There's more on the way, thanks to great sponsors & my fantastic Sponsorship Assistant:  Erica, you rock
  • Encore & I are picking away at this whole rehab thing.   I'm not sure where we are right now, but today was sunny, 70F, with a light breeze, & we walked through a green forest of birdsong: vireos, warblers, wrens, thrashers, gnatcatchers, woodpeckers, even the wild turkeys.

    Each note landed gently on my heart, seeming to say that the Moment is here, the Moment is now, & this Moment has much good.  That is a melody I embrace.  There has been more than enough darkness, today I unquestioningly cherish the sun.
  • Back on a lighter note: HOTC 2016!  There will be some seriously amazing new elements this year.  You will still be able to follow the live media feeds on Twits & InstaThingies (you know you have it in your diary: “Be entertained by eventer79's ridiculous sleep-deprived commentary.”) & I'll share more very soon. 
    • Hints: listen in when Sally O'Connor joins us – yes, THAT Sally – and meet both new & familiar equine crafts(wo)men. 
    • On top of the Mother's Day craft contest (eventers + beer + glitter markers = no-lose possibility), annual Southern Eighths KY Derby party, the return of our flying volunteer veterans, & did I mention a collection of mind-blowing prizes??? 
  • Solo sends his shiniest magic to all of you, although he is still working on transferring an unfathomable amount of dull winter fur into every single one of my pores.  Note to self: do not open mouth while brushing horse on windy spring days.  Or eyes. 
So for now -

When your eyes are tired 
the world is tired also... 
The dark will be your home tonight. 

The night will give you a horizon 
further than you can see. 

Iris woke up today!
You must learn one thing. The world was made to be free in... 

Sometimes it takes darkness & the sweet 
confinement of your aloneness 
to learn 

anything or anyone 
that does not bring you alive 

is too small for you.

 -excerpt from Sweet Darkness, poem by David Whyte, thanks for the discovery to Calm Things

April 3, 2016

Remember To Not Forget To Not Ride

I watched my horse's eye soften as I worked my hands over Encore's neck, back, & hindquarters, seeking out knots & tension to ease away.  Each time my thumbs dug into a hard burl of muscle, Encore's lower lip quivered & his head dropped lower...and lower...and lower.  He licked his lips & sighed in thanks.

As our horses keep us running in circles (some of them voluntary...), the line between remembering & forgetting & which side we're on (is it the one we're supposed to be on??) can get blurry.  Going through our bodywork ritual, I'm reminded once more of the importance of being NEXT to your horse.

If it sounds familiar, it's because I've combined & updated several (very!) old posts with added comments here to knock the dust off these critical routines.  These tiny tasks, many that take only seconds, are what collectively add up to a well-managed horse.  This is what makes a horse(wo)man, not just a rider.

Take The Time

Take the time to palpate your horse's large muscle groups before & after a ride to look for tender spots. look in his eyes:  are they bright, alert, free of cloudy areas or spots? run your hands down each leg so you know if that knot is new or old. lay a palm on each hoof as you pick them to check the temperature & wiggle each shoe to check for tightness when you lift his feet. really notice the colour, shape & texture of his frog & sole so you know if they change. run your fingers up the back of his pasterns to check for fungus like scratches. take him out on a hack to condition him on hills & uneven ground at the walk & trot. Don't get trapped in the sandbox. watch him walk away from you as you turn him back out to watch for any stiffness or unevenness. give him a day or two off for a grooming spa or some quiet handgrazing so his body & mind can rest each week.  Let him just be a horse. glance into his feed bucket -- is he cleaning it up? watch him eat. Is he chewing easily & evenly or does he just mash it & let it fall out of his mouth? inspect his manure & watch him pee. Is everything normally coloured?  Is the flow & consistency of all his waste the same every day?

Fight the urge to rush, get to know your horse's body & habits so that when something does change (oh yes, we know it will), you will be the first to know.  Early detection is key to maximizing his chances at recovery, comfort & longevity.  Tendon, muscle, & joint also each need time to rest & recover from micro-injury & stress that comes with work (or equine existence :/).  It is our responsibility to respect that need & to ensure that we are not asking our horses to work in pain or discomfort.   

Encore & I finished with some carrot stretches to each side -- I make him stretch his nose at least to his flank (no cheating & moving his feet!) in each direction.  Upon recheck, his back muscles are softer, his withers are less sore & the knots along his haunches are smaller.

It's a continuous process, but one I must not to forget in the bustle of every day.  Happier body = happier horse.  Happier horse = happier me.  It's that simple.

I eternally love Grumpy Cat...