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We Are Flying Solo

May 14, 2016

Moments Make Memories

I have a confession to make, while I'm sorting through piles of Southern Eighths stories & photos.  I public.

Before you get too weirded out, I'm fairly certain no one noticed.  But it was still quite strange for me, not out of any habitual conscious "feels-suppression" efforts, it's just not something that usually occurs.
Erica arranged epic prize table of TIP, Riding Warehorse, Horseware, Fleeceworks, Cowboy Magic, & many more great sponsors!!

We'd just reached the last fence on the Heart of the Carolinas' Training 3DE division's coursewalk last Friday, led by wonderful friend & lead clinician (& incoming USEA President!), Carol Kozlowski.

Carol demonstrates choosing lines for maximum avoidance of wet pants

As I listened to her insights (well done to Course Designer, Tremaine Cooper, & Builders, Tyson Rementer & Rob Mobley!), adding & adjusting to my own mental "if I rode this" plan, out of nowhere, my vision blurred with welling tears.  Fading to the back of the group to sniffle incognito, I asked myself what the why??

T3DE Kathy Parker & OTTB Peace Dancer take off after XC #1

My heart quietly answered:  I want to ride this amazing course so bad it hurts.  And I have a partner who could've done it.

2015 3DE TIP winners Lisa Borgia & Laurelin soar in the HT

I could have gotten lost in that moment.  But another part of me knew that letting the weekend be a memory of sadness would be an even bigger loss.  It was up to me to choose.  I'm so glad that I took a deep breath, re-focused my eyes, & looked for better moments.

Sally O'Connor (R) explains Roads & Tracks plans to riders with Carol's supervision ;)

Because I found some.  And I re-learned an increasingly important lesson:

The best kind of moments appear readily given opportunity, but it remains up to us to identify them. Our eyes are accustomed to recording images by collecting reflected light.  It requires an additional step, a filter adjustment of sorts, for us to capture these fleeting gifts.

Tori Nuckols, fab daughter of Gammon, our gallant Volunteer Coordinator, did her homework & won Best Conditioned Horse, flying the Special Edition Horseware cooler...that graced some Rolex rumps!
They are illuminated instead from within, the shine of which is often overlooked or lost, out of focus in periphery.  It is when we can widen our field of view beyond the self, while having the patience to be fully present in each heartbeat of Now, that we begin to truly see.

A few of my found gifts -
  • Seeing one of our BN3DE riders, Sandra McDonald, choose her horse TWICE (withdrawing in the 10-minute box just before the start of her XC course as her horse's temp wasn't dropping quickly enough, then after beginning SJ with permission, retiring after one jump because her mare was still tired) without hesitation, then lose her breath in shock as we awarded her with our Sportsmanship Award (my personal favourite prize, another Horseware cooler along with embroidered Riding Warehouse pad & Dover goodies!) for excellence in horsemanship 
Yes, myself & Erica totally fan-girl'ed Sally (I think she's saying 'Help, crazy Americans!' with her eyes...)
  • High-fiving Sally O'Connor & giggling at her gleeful grin upon the announcement of Michael Jung's Rolex Grand Slam win on Sunday (2nd rider ever...I got to watch Pippa win a leg of hers in KY 13 yrs ago!)

  • Watching Dana Cooke charge out of the XC startbox Saturday on a massive, full-throttle bay appropriately named Stormtrooper.  My jaw dropped at her unflinching courage & skill without a second's hesitation aboard that leaping machine, since the last time I saw her, I was helping EMT's bundle her up after a painful crash at Intermediate just last fall.  Later on Saturday, she followed on her Prelim CT ride, the gorgeous FE Mississippi, who you saw in the water on our InstaFeedThing!  My kudos & joy for such a wonderful recovery!!!   
Only slightly blurry Dana & Stormtrooper, 1 jump from a clear round in Stadium Jumping
  • Bumping into Becky Holder in the show office, where she not only remembered my nobody self (although Solo did hurl me through the air quite impressively for her), but gave me the kindest empathy hug & said she was so sorry to hear about Encore.  I nearly choked, as she has far more important things to think about than my crazy life attempts!  So much grace & compassion in a simple gesture -- this is why she is my heroine in so many things!
That's just a sample, but I think our incredible flying volunteers from the All Veteran Paratrooper Team captured this spirit & the "heart" of the 3DE itself in their 2016 highlight video (see our Wonderwoman photographer, Brant Gamma herself, at 1:29!!  Good sniffles!):

May 6, 2016

Dressage, Delights, & Drop Fences, Oh My: The 3-Day Photo-ganza!

Sally relaxes to review XC courses
But first, a giant THANKS to the over 400 folks who tuned into to the colourful & educational (a true 2-in-1 package!) dressage commentary from eventing royalty, Sally O'Connor, during all three (Training, Novice, & Beginner Novice) 3DE division tests today!!!  I know it was a treat for me to be able to watch from the stabling office while I attempted tests of how many tabs one can add to a spreadsheet before it collapses.  :D

And no worries if you missed it or are itching to see Sally's review of your ride.  Just like the Judge-A-Test Demo on Thursday, a recorded version will be posted as soon as it's processed.  And the channel will keep rolling tomorrow as our first T3DE horse steps out on Phase A at 9:00 AM EST.  You can also find a link straight from USEA (THANKS!!!!) along with the latest press here.

You've no doubt noticed my attempts at keeping up in our Instagram widget at the top of the homepage, but phenomenal helper, Erica, has been keeping our live Twitter coverage rolling.  Follow the action here. 

You can always hit the left sidebar HOTC logo anytime to access our list of awesome sponsors, event schedule, hotc3day social media channels, article links, live scores & much much more!

That's about all the words left in me at this point, as I'll be stuffing my pockets with radios early tomorrow morning, resuming my annual post as Radio Control for Phases A, B, & C for Endurance Day.  Phase D (the cross-country jumping course itself) will remain in the expert hands of JJ Johnson, Radio Goddess (you can find all our staff, clinician, & official bios in the program here).

So....hey look, shiny pictures!!  (Much more to come, including "I get to meet Nicole, aka Eventing at Midnight, who's joined us as a volunteer/prize helper from VA this weekend!!" & life is revived after I got my Becky Holder hug, snif...)

Prizes:  Beka of The Owls Approve strikes gold again, making mroe perfect bracelets!

Kim & Accolade offer a Training leg yield for clinician critique

Judges Wayne Quarles (headset) & Peter Gray talk through Kim's test with tips for watching riders

I walked the T3DE course with head clinician, Carol Kozlowski (blue, right), while CD Tremaine Cooper, started the N3DE group (white polo, left)

New carvings from chainsaw artist & epic person, Randy Boni, decorate the T log into the Riding Warehouse water complex, ready for action!
Sponsor coordinator represents, thanks to Julie @ RW for the hat & Beka's darling charms for my boys from 2015, all with our fantastic cover shot by Brant Gamma Photography
Priceless prizes:  signed books filled with timeless horsemanship wisdom from God Jim Wofford...

...Doug Payne's brilliantly organized Repair Manual...

...and Sally herself donated a note, charming beyond measure!
Dressage bridles, valued at $250, from our announcer, Charles Pinnell, who also represents Schneider's Saddlery

May 5, 2016

How About Free Dressage Lessons From Sally O'Connor?

She won our T3DE in 2015, too!
*see below for update*

We can do that!

Starting in just a few minutes, our first live commentary stream goes up with a ride from Dr. Kim Keaton & her Intermediare stallion, Accolade.  Our judges & clinicians will have tips on how to get the best from your horse and your test.

Afternoon update:

Sally will be joining us tomorrow, but the recording of the excellent commentary and Q&A session with dressage judges/Ground Jury, Wayne Quarles & Peter Gray is ready for watching at your leisure.

Bonus:  Wayne led the writing of the current tests & had excellent observation from a perspective entirely new to me (with my dressage test writing experience