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We Are Flying Solo

Showing posts with label USEA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label USEA. Show all posts

May 3, 2015

Don't Expect Sentences In Satuday's So8ths 3DE Update Of Blogger-Exploding Epicness

Moar prize oogling!  Thanks, of course, to all these people & more:

Mary Ellen at Logorific did a fantastic job on the long banners!!

A better picture of Beka's surprise that made me sniffle:

It's been my nametag decoration...
Meghann went overboard & sent beautiful certificates & a sample for display:

The lovely banners will frame tonight's Derby party & dinner display in the little indoor out back:

And the reason I do it, the reason you all need to do it...

N3DE XC: Jodie Stowell & Island Fever lock on to the stone wall

If Becky's picked her #1... (N3DE rider Alcy Christie & Abraxis in the Phase C Assist box)

N3DE:  Sabine Desper & Adamek pause for their super crew!

Solo's Minon Erica looks like she got the temp check job in the 10-minute box! (who else stands at the horse's butt?)

Amanda Miller-Atkins & Barley clear N3DE gorgeous XC Fence 1

N3DE Julia Burke jogs Davignio for the Ground Jury before proceeding to Phase D:  XC!

N3DE Ann Bower & Prosecco (also "Best Turned Out" for their division jogs!) clear the XC Frame because this.  Donkey Hode (who won Best Conditioned over all divisions!), currently in 2nd place in the N3DE explains it all, walking back to the barn with an equine smile.
Because it's just zen, man...

April 22, 2015

Does Your Horse Trial Have Flying Volunteers?

Yeah, I didn't think so!
Click to read the full story
That's right, paratroopers.  The US Army's Golden Knights skydiving team, no less -- at Southern Eighths next weekend!  I told you there is nothing like Heart of the Carolinas 3DE & HT!

Even wore his helmet; pic thx to
Thank you in advance to the team & to the All Veteran Group, whom they jump for (check out the photos!), for not just making an incredible entrance but volunteering as jump judges on endurance day!  I can't end any of these sentences without an exclamation point!

Anyone who spends any time in eventing knows not a single one of our competitions could happen without an insane amount of planning & uncountable volunteers.  I believe this now negates all excuses for not volunteering at least one day a year!!  ;)

Huge thanks as well to all of the sponsors who have chipped in (and ok, I can't resist, check out a particularly epically dorky awesome media partner),  large and small; we couldn't do it without you!  The event's official sponsor page is here, but I'd like to put in print our gratitude to:

National Classic Series & Prize Sponsors:

Heart of the Carolinas Sponsors (you might recognize some names!):

...and more to come!

September 2, 2014

A Hitchiker's Guide To Our New Website

Hated the book, but I was 13...
Being one of those people who takes longer than I will ever admit to mentally digest information, a thought just occurred to me:

Here I have thrown an entire new interface at you and, while I'm sure you have lots of things nothing better to do with your time than play with the shiny new TFS site, perhaps it would be helpful if I handed out instructions!

As I mentioned before the transition, our new site is responsive (FINALLY!).  You can geek out on the link as to what that means in detail (believe me, the template came that way, I am a "trial-and-lots-of-errors-and-googling" programmer, using the word "programmer" extremely loosely), but the part that matters is that for you touchscreen/mobile device peoples, you now get a streamlined, mobile version of the site that matches the web version!

What On Earth Did You Do?

Don't hyperventilate yet, the standards are still standard - the trademark banner of Solo's galloping butt will always bring you home (oh, the levels of symbolism...) and our social media buttons, through which you can suffer through enjoy even more of my random brain drool, have just hopped up to the top of the page.  All photos can still be clicked to embiggen!

Streamlined Sidebars

You can toggle the right sidebar display -- I love tabz!!
All our trusty sidebar widgets are intact, just rearranged.  You'll find our calendar for easy stalking on the left & the blogroll (in need of updating!) just below it as you scroll down.

On the right side, just beneath the search tool (for all your "did she write about that?" inquiries), the handy little tab box allows you to toggle between the most popular posts of the last 30 days, our category labels for easy post sorting, & the (restored to proper useful form) archive calendar.  Scrolling down will take you to our familiar blog community links & the profiles of my orange beasts have just shifted to the footer.


Here, the title is linked to my review, photo to product site
The Photo Slider:
Don't have a seizure.  If you hover your mouse over the slideshow, it will pause.  You can use either the circles at the base of the slider or the arrows on each side to navigate through at your own speed.  Each photo & title is a clickable link as well!

Email Subscription:
  • For those of you who don't use an RSS reader to curate your blog collection or who just don't feel like clicking all the time, there is now an easy email subscription box in our header.  All you have to do is enter your address & click subscribe.  New posts, in a clean, easy-to-read format, will hang out in your inbox until you hit delete feel like reading them. 
  • I hate spam as much as you do & all of the subscriptions are protected in my secure account, so I promise I will never send you FREE LIFE INSURANCE QUOTES TODAY!  Never.  
  • What you WILL get though (eventually, stupid job), is free bonus content that I am busy compiling, including tip sheets, useful facts, and other fun & useful goodies (sorry, I cannot put chocolate in your inbox).
It was an interesting morning...
Twit Feed:
Despite my ambivalence/hate relationship with Twitter, it is the only way I can share quick tidbits to our Facebook page without being in front of a PC.  I bitterly swallowed my pride (it wasn't too bad, I haven't much left), so you will find a live Twitter feed box in the right sidebar.  It also allows you to follow or tell me I'm an idiot throw a Twit at me with one click (no new windows!).

New Menus With New Options

Some you will recognize, including links to our core team members, sundry horsey items for sale, Solo's story, Encore's arrival, & "In Memorial" of furry friends who said goodbye.  My product reviews are intact, but are now categorized for even easier retrieval.
All your shopping tips, pre-sorted

The two new dropdowns:
  • "Education," which includes a list of great OTTB resources, as well as links to my past post collection on topics like equine nutrition & the heart of eventing, the long format.  Keep an eye out for additions and fine-tuning on this one!
Lots of fun things & more to come
 I hope you will enjoy the new goodies & things will run a little more smoothly!  I'm always picking at things -- a blog seems to be like a farm:  never truly finished.  Please do let me know if you encounter any issues, so I can google the answer repair them right away!

You're welcome (or I'm sorry, depending on what happens...).
-- Not A Web Designer But I Play One On The Internet

March 21, 2014

Notes From The Madhouse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunset over our creek pasture

February 8, 2014

Help Us Win A Horse Trial Entry With One Click!

By the way: VOLUNTEER!
It's that simple!

I hadn't much hope for competing this year; I've sunk every breath and penny into getting the farm ready for the boys and there's nothing left unless Carolina Horse Park starts accepting hay string as currency.  But then...

As some are aware, this year, CHP's traditional spring upper level HT, Southern Pines II, will become an FEI event, the Carolina International CIC***.  Fingers crossed, this will be great for our beloved park, bringing in all kinds of great resources.  Hugh Lochore has come up from Chattahoochee Hills and is working with our  wonderful Marc Donovan to create amazing new courses.  I hope they don't mind me posting their fantastic new logo -- I'm spreading the word!

Solo always made sure Solo looked good!
And there is a contest.  Not only a contest, but a contest using a skill our friends know I EXCEL at:  making ridiculous faces while riding!  And the entry to one of my favourite horse trials, a chance for Encore and I to have a run after all, which any of you who have read here for any time know how much that means to me.  You can imagine my squeal of surprise and delight when we made the finals (of course, Solo is so sexy, he deserves it; dang, he looks good, I am GETTING that Solo back).

So take a minute, lend us your click and I will thank you a million times!!  You can find the Finalists album on Carolina International's Facebook pageAll you need to do is "like" the picture of Solo and I, we are currently photo #12, with Solo looking sexy and me looking, well, ridiculous.  This is our entry photo for those who may not recognize Mr. Shiny on sight. 

Note:  if you voted for us prior to Friday at 7 pm, they reset the votes, so please vote again!

January 27, 2014

2013 Adult Rider Of The Year?!

Yes, somehow, somewhere, my circle of awesome fellow USEA Area II Adult Riders have named dorky little me as the 2013 recipient of our Adult Rider of the Year award!

As is obvious to anyone who knows me, this is not an award for riding in lots of events, LOL.  I can't remember the last time I got to sit ON one of my horses...

It is generally a surprise award, given out at our annual ARII AR (har har!) meeting.  These meetings include forums, great educational talks and of course, an awards luncheon (poor girl usually sits in the hall and eats a sandwich because the lunch is very expensive).  I wasn't able to make it up this year, as it is usually in northern VA and I'm not flush with diesel money right now, so our group coordinator called me in advance to inform me of the award and ask for a few pictures. 

After I was done being shocked and honoured (ok, maybe I'm still not done), my brain was tired and it went, "OOOO, PLAY WITH HORSIE PICTURES!"  So, since I need to make sure everyone knows how dorky I am, I made a little collage and included the fabulous logo made for us by Kate over at Polar Square Designs

Hey, I'm even wearing my ARII AR shirt!
What I didn't know was that our coordinator was going to read my rambling thank you email OUT LOUD at the luncheon.  Where the keynote presenters were Evention's Dom and Jimmie Schramm (that's why I wanted to go to the meeting so I could meet those talented horse consumption impressionsits!!).  Dang, I should have included a really ridiculous face picture!

But, again, thank you so much, I really do enjoy every chance I get to participate!  And don't forget to read the wonderful story of our Horse of the Year, Santos, an exemplary horse of soul and generosity.


January 23, 2012

We Won Stuff!

As my sidebar declares, I am very proud to be a member of the USEA Area II Adult Rider Program.  You should go and join yours today -- not only do you stay abreast of clinics, horses for sale in the "network," and reports of the most recent horse trials, you meet wonderful, generous, knowledgeable people who are just as crazy about this sport as you are!  I can tell you without a doubt, Solo and I would not have had some of the opportunities we did without the support and generosity of this group.

This past Saturday was our Area II Annual Meeting in Virginia.  Sadly, there was no room in my budget to go and I was sorry to miss it, because I drove up with a neighbour last year and learned a great deal.  Also at the meeting is our Annual Awards Luncheon, although I have not been to that because it is also out of my budget range.  BUT, the point is, our Adult Riders group gives out a host of awards every year that are not based on racking up competitive points, but instead on contributions to the group and to the sport.  Started by eventer Yvonne Lucas of Red Moon Farm and honouring our smurf heritage inspired by Captain Mark Phillips distaste for the adult amateur rider, which we adopted with great pride, these awards single out eventers with heart!

Now I never win anything.  I am not that person.  I'm a very good clapper though.  So just imagine my surprise when one of my fellow Adult Riders informed me....

I had won the Indian Smurf award, for "great personal strength against adversity, showing toughness, heart, and perseverance!"  I admit, I remain slightly bemused that I won the award for bad things happening to you, it truly could be no other way!

But that was not enough excitement, because I was also named...

Area II Adult Rider Member of the Year!

I am floored, stunned, honoured, and frankly terrified that I have so much to live up to!

I don't feel like these awards are really for me though.  Because I would be nothing and nowhere without Solo, who, even as we crashed to the bottom of the heap, believed in me and never stopped greeting me at the door with that look that forever connects us.  The word "partner" cannot even encompass what he has been to me and cannot describe the strength of spirit and forgiveness and patience he continues to offer me.

And my world would be darker indeed without the bright hope that Encore brought into my life.  We are certainly a work in progress, but if he will just bear with me, I think we can have a lot of fun together.

So it is really the horses.  It is always the horses.  The reason for trying, the air to keep breathing, the passion to tackle the next course.

To Solo & Encore & to all our partners who do more for us than we can say, as well as to my fellow Adult Riders who nominated and supported me...

Thank you.

January 23, 2011

Hamsters On Drugs

This is how my brain operates: (1) Imagine a hamster's feet while he is running on a wheel. (2) Put that hamster on speed. (3) Now put him in a hurricane.  And the hamster may at any time leap completely off that wheel and shoot into a different one that you didn't even know was there.

That's the general idea. Fast and crazed and completely unpredictable. 

There's a lot going on. I spoke with Dr. Bob as I mentioned in my previous post. Ok, by "spoke," I may mean "I called and blabbered my general freaked-out state in some nutty horse-woman fashion, convinced that I had ruined my horse forever." He says I am a crazy person (well, I don't see how that is relevant!). But he feels that Solo's stiffness is rather due to the prolonged and bitter cold and the frozen ground (Mr. Shiny does enjoy airs above the ground in his pasture on a regular basis), not any changes in management. However, since he is the lovely Dr. Bob, he had already faxed in a new Adequan Rx for us and hoped that I was right anyway and after a few shots, I'd have my horse back. Otherwise, I just have to wait for it to get warmer and hopefully, the stiffness will subside. It better, because wouldn't you know I just planned out our spring season...

On Saturday, I also attended the USEA Area II Annual Meeting in Leesburg, VA. A whole day of sitting around just talking about horses and eventing -- what could be better than that (aside from actually riding said horses)? It was a great time with some really well-done presentations (and OMG, Eventing Nation actually reported on something I went to!!). We have a new Adult Rider chairperson and she has loads of fantastic ideas. A local physical therapist talked to us about human biomechanics in relation to riding and how we should shape our fitness accordingly (this one had a lot of surprises). John DeSilva of Ecogold gave a hilarious and informative presentation on their boots and saddle pads. He just made me want to buy his stuff because he was awesome! A geneticist/breeder also talked about equine conformation on a skeletal level and had quite a few fascinating illustrations. It was well worth the drive north (and freezing my ass off up there)!

Today, BO and I took our boys out XC schooling. It was her young TB's first time out, so Solo was needed for "lead" duty. Solo was still stiff so we didn't do as much as I would have liked, but we did tackle a few of the big things out there and, though he wavered a bit, I kept my leg on, DIDN'T CHICKEN OUT, and we had ZERO refusals, which is a big BIG step up for us in the "Quest To Jump Big Scary Jumps." You might remember this giant (2010 photo below) from last year. Last February, it took me three tries and some serious gulping to get over it. Today, I sat down, wrapped my legs around that horse, and we leaped it (not pretty, but hey, it was clean) in one go.


January 2, 2011

They Deserve A Round Of Applause

This year, our Area II (DE, MD, NC, NJ, PA, VA) Adult Rider coordinator came up with the idea of contacting eventing instructors and asking if they would give a 10% discount to Adult Rider members. The sad part: mine doesn't. The really great part: many of them said yes.

I want to say thank you to these people for their support. It is hard to squeeze the money for lessons out of one's budget. It means a lot to us when you cut us a break and help us out. So thank you, thank you, thank you for this gesture and for all of you out there contemplating lessons, if one of these folks is in your area, give them a call! You, of course, need to be a paid Adult Rider member ($20, I think) and have your membership number to qualify for a special rate.

The winners (I have added locations where I could):

Allison Springer (VA)
Jane Sleeper (PA)
Bobby Costello (NC)
Mark Weissbecker (NC)
Carol Kozlowski
Mogie Bearden-Muller (MD)
Christopher Hitchcock (VA)
Molly Bull (VA)
Courtney Cooper (PA)
Phyllis Dawson (VA)
Doug Payne (NJ/SC)
Holly Payne (NJ/SC)
Sally Cousins (PA/SC)
Gretchen Butts (MD)
Stephen Bradley (VA)
Yvonne Lucas (VA)
Jan Byyny (VA/SC)
Lynn Symansky (VA)

Dude, I should move to Virginia, sheesh. There are probably others on that list who winter in Aiken (SC) but you can inquire if you contact. Pretty much all of them have contact information available on a quick google search.

December 28, 2010

Headless Horsemen (And Horses)

I certainly hope this is not a harbinger of our coming season.  My sticker appears not to have survived the salt slush grind that was West Virginia mountain interstates yesterday.  Good thing USEA sees fit to send you a new one every year.

I hope Santa (or the Flying Spaghetti Monster or whoever) has graced you all with holiday pony hugs and treats.  I want to offer a congratulations to Allison who is the new owner of a dressage saddle!  Once worn by the legendary Solo, it is sure to bring greatness to any pair of equine shoulders beneath it.

If no one brought you a saddle for Christmas, our BO still has her two jumping saddles available.  I am sure she is open to offers as well, as the ponies always need hay!

Solo and I are plopping around in what's left of the snow, meeting some new neighbours, and scheming of a spring season (ok, maybe that last one is just me).  The days are getting longer (wahhooooo!) and with any luck, evil white precipitation will go back up north where it belongs!

December 7, 2010

Words To Live Up To

Today I sat down and read Kevin Baumgardner's last letter as sitting president of USEA.  His term ends on December 11th and Brian Sabo will take his place.  Normally, I don't spend too much time worrying about what the heads of our sport ramble about, but I was curious, as I have previously been impressed with Baumgardner's eloquence and thoughtfulness (and I give him kudos for his strong support of the long format events).  He wanted to share his thoughts on what he'd seen and where he felt the sport of eventing stood today.  And did he ever.

I wasn't sure whether to nod my head in agreement or cry at the passion bubbling out of it.  So I did both.  Then, I copied the link so I could share it with you, those of you who haven't already seen my link on Facebook.  Go.  Read.  Absorb.

It is not enough to turn in a technically flawless performance.  Our sport is about joy.  Joy in the partnership between horse and rider.  Joy in the freedom of riding across country.  Joy in the simplest sense of celebrating each day. 

THAT is why I get on my horse and THAT is why I love this sport so deeply. Thank you, Kevin, for putting it into words so well.

December 1, 2010

Discover Eventing

First off, I must say THANK YOU!!!!! to everyone who voted for us in the Life's Highway Fantasy Yard Art contest -- WE WON! Which means not only does Solo owe you dressage karma, I also owe you fantastic photos of Solo leaping flamingo shaped obstacles. Ahhh, the possibilities.

I also wanted to share with you a fantastic resource USEA has made available in the form of Have you ever wondered just what the heck is three-day eventing? Needed a checklist for braiding or a first aid kit? Curious about what to expect at your first event? Well, it's all there and more in a well-organized introduction to the sport and all its rules and terms. I highly encourage giving it a good browse, especially if you are new to the sport or just curious about how it all works.  If there are any questions you can't get answered there, feel free to shoot them this way and I'll be glad to make up carefully research an answer for you!

November 15, 2010


They say that saying something out loud makes it real.  Well then, let me make real the overarching goal that has been driving me to bring Solo along and making the fire in my belly.

It started a year ago when I drove north to volunteer at Waredaca's Training 3 Day Event (T3DE) in Maryland. The 3DE series is one that is steadily growing with support of USEA. These are full, long-format, "classic" events, the way Rolex used to be before FEI and the Olympic committee had their way with the sport.

This means you not only do your three phases, but cross country day is a TRUE endurance day, starting with Phase A, Roads and Tracks, Phase B, Steeplechase, Phase C, Roads and Tracks II, and Phase D, Cross Country.

I spent my Waredaca weekend running scores, setting up arenas, running the start box on Phase D, and keeping the jog up running smoothly. The cross country course blew my mind, it was so amazing and the grins I saw at the end of endurance day were unmatched at any I have been to.

I was also watching and learning and participating in all the educational stuff that was offered for competitors and volunteers alike. As I drove home that Sunday evening, one thought burned in my mind:

I WANT TO DO THIS. This, this one incredible event, this will be MY Rolex, MY endgame, and my goal for Solo.

So here we are a year later. Solo has made fantastic strides this year, progressing far more than I could have imagined. After our jumping lesson on Saturday, I was talking with a friend and suddenly, it dawned on me:

"I think I have a Training Level horse," I murmured. "Excuse me, I have to go throw up."

The problem with T3DE though, is that you can't just sign up; you have to qualify. This sport has no mercy for poor people like me. If the soundness gods smile upon us, we somehow scrape funding together, and I stay on my horse, my goal is to qualify for Waredaca in 2012. Solo will be 16 and I don't want to push my luck any farther than that.

So, to qualify, here is what we have to complete in the next two years:

Four recognized Training Level events (we take donations of any type, thank you!), with "Nationally Qualifying Rides:"  
  • Dressage score under 50
  • NO jumping penalties on cross country (yes, this means no run outs, no refusals, no falling off)
  • 12 or less stadium penalties (4 rails, no refusals).
What could possibly go wrong???

June 5, 2010


It looks like the ATC's won't be held at Waredaca at the end of the summer after all.  The facility has conflicting scheduling.  Dammit, don't the organizers know that they are supposed to stick to what I have planned my year around??  (Just kidding, Gretchen, you are awesome -- but I still think you should kick the kids out and have a horse trial instead!)

The ATC's (Adult Team Challenge -- there's an east coast one and a west coast one) will now be opened up for bid to other locations.  Which may or may not be within reasonable shipping distance for me.  Which means I probably need to plan for a different recognized trial for the fall.  But it won't be the destination event that our ATC's are.  Waaahhh!  I'm going to go pout for a while.  Then I'm sure I'll get over it.  Eventually.

April 26, 2010

It's Official!

I got this little treasure in the mail today!  I unashamedly confess to a SQUEE! of delight when I opened the envelope.  Solo is now recorded in the annals of forever and ever as a real, honest-to-god, card-carrying, log-jumping, event horse!

PS  To the two other people who have registered horses by the name "Solaris," well, I don't know you but I will confidently assure you that mine is the bestest one ever, so you should probably go ahead and just change your horses' names now so they do not develop a complex about being unable to live up to His Shininess.  Not that I am, ahem, biased or anything.  Nope, not even a teensy bit.  Really.