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We Are Flying Solo

Showing posts with label Waredaca. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Waredaca. Show all posts

October 22, 2014

Nutrition Reboot, Pt. III: A Much Updated Refueling Of The Tanks

dr julie n tex
The flying Tex!
Before I continue with our reboot, I must give a shout out to my beloved Waredaca 3DE (it's so cool, even Colleen Rutledge can't resist competing, even though she's already a clinician - thanks for the support, Colleen!)!  Today is opening day AND I AM NOT THERE.  *insert very sad & upset eventer79*  

In summary, despite my attempts to prove to my doctor that horsewomen are, in fact, superhuman, he cruelly (ok, he is actually amazing, but still) prohibited my plan to roll to Maryland at 0630 this morning & work four excruciatingly long days of awesome.  Sadly, my body does not seem to time its failures well & I’ll just say it’s been a long year.  My begging cry of “IT’S ONE OF MY 3DE’S, THEY ARE NOT OPTIONAL!” did not sway him.  

There may be a silver lining, though:  it is always a special year when one of our core Team Waredaca 3DE Staff gets to ride.  This year, it’s our vet box champion, Dr. Julie’s, turn!!  She & her boy, Texas Riddle (Tex), have been on fire this year, so I am fairly certain that since I will miss it, they will definitely score not only that coveted completion ribbon, but piles of prize swag!  May ALL the 2014 riders have a safe & exhilarating journey this week; Solo & I are galloping with you in our hearts.

Carrying on, we are all now experts on equine metabolism, right?  Accordingly, I have updated this part of the series quite a bit!  

We also know that the horse must be fit if he is going to do his job well.  We know that he needs fat & glycogen stores in place in order to power his muscles.  He then will need carbohydrates & fats in his diet in order to restock his larders after a workout.

Running on vapours...
So should we stuff him full of fat & sugar the night before a competition so he will have fuel busting out his ears?  Only if you want him to die of colic & laminitis at the same time.

But I Carb-Load Before My Ultra-Marathons!

Equine digestive systems cannot handle "loading" of substances the way a human system would.  Studies have demonstrated that it takes 24-48 hours for a horse to completely refill his glycogen tanks, so it's best to offer him a meal 60-90 minutes after he's tapped them.  Then, if he has really drained the well, a second meal can be offered about three hours later.

What To Look For In Your Rocket Fuel

My base feed (Triple Crown Complete) is a fixed-formula textured grain with 12% fat and 12% protein.  I have heard stated many times that, for the performance horse, you want to maximize the protein content of his diet.  However, this is another instance where understanding the unique functions of equine physiology will help you build a better plan.  Unlike the human body, your horse’s body cannot store protein & very little can be converted to energy.  Instead, protein is catabolized (broken down) into amino acids, which are then used to build new proteins, such as muscle fibre.  If protein levels exceed what the body can immediately process, it will be converted to urea, increasing urine output & simultaneously increasing rate of dehydration.  So while it is an important component of nutrition, for the your horse, it is far less useful as an energy source than fat.

Love The Fat

Fat supplies 2.5 times more energy pound for pound than starches.  How much needed on a daily basis will depend on your horse.  Given that I am not blessed with easy keepers, I top dress feed during work with Legends Omega Plus, an extruded flaxseed pellet with 25% fat.  That is a recent switch for us; I used their rice bran pellets (18% fat) for quite some time due to reduced cost, but a recent price change made it more practical to bump up to the higher fat content & I’m finding I can also use less with the same result.

Bonus tidbit:  if you supplement a horse's diet with fat, he uses less energy for heat production in his body.  He then has more energy available to do other stuff with.  Like a lot more.  Like up to 60% more. 

Ok, don't love it THAT much
All Things In Moderation

Before you go on a lard spree, though -- if the fat content of the diet gets too high, you can actually inhibit the storage of muscle glycogen (that's that thing we really need for anaerobic activities like galloping & jumping, remember?).  Just like everything else involving a horse, as soon as you find something good, you find several ways for him to damage or kill himself with it.   

It’s just not as much fun when you are kicking your horse's guts out just to stumble through the finish flags & slide off while he gasps in exhaustion.  It's not very satisfying to try to pilot him around a challenging stadium course when he's got no gas in the tank & you wonder if the next set of jump poles might end up in your face.  Hopefully, you are now armed with some new information to consider in the context of your own management program.  If you can prepare your horse’s body to maximize the use of your fuel, then you'll have plenty left for that victory gallop at the end of the day. 

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.

October 25, 2013

Waredaca On!

My spot for the day -- sun!  At Waredaca!!  Shock!!
Endurance day:  check!  Even though it was cool outside, I hope a lot of riders learned more about getting your horse physically fit.  I saw a lot of heavier-type horses and by the end of phase D, several were definitely DONE.  Remember folks, get OUT, do your road work and if you have a heavier WB or draft type horse -- THIS IS NOT JUST A HORSE TRIAL.  This, the long format, is true eventing and there is a reason, as much as I love my Solo, that TB's excel at this sport.  Aerobic fitness and endurance are critical, as is making sure your horse's legs and body have been exposed to all types of conditions and footings so you can literally be ready for anything!

A day in the finish timer's office
I also saw some truly LOVELY horses still raring to go when they crossed the finish flags, including a darling pony of Chincoteague ancestry and more than a few bright-eyed racehorses.  No rider injuries in either level, although we did pull 3 horses due to injury/veterinary issues, had one minor rider fall on steeplechase, and three Technical Eliminations. 

I've got to coordinate Stadium Jumping tomorrow, but most of the legwork got done this afternoon and we were able to organize most of our massive prize pile.  Now we've just got to get those riders through the ingate on time, out the other side safely, and decked out with loot so I can begin the long drive home.

It will be a close rumble for that blue neck ribbon tomorrow at both levels, but there are lots of great prizes all the way to 10th place!  Everything from gift cards to saddle pads to free electrolytes, ulcer products, ThinLine stirrup pads, and more.  Everyone gets my most coveted item (as long as they finish with a number score):  the 3DE completion ribbon.  We also have plenty of special awards, including Best Conditioned, Best Dressed for Jog, Highest Placing Adult Amateur, gorgeous engraved silver plates from MidAtlantic Horse Rescue for the highest place TB, and awesome tri-colour ribbons and duffel bags for each division's TIP winner (highest place OTTB).


Hey, there's a 71 year old lady with an adorable mini Solo, so I've still got time....

October 31, 2012

A Gear In The Complex Machine, Pt. II

The anticipation was palpable as dawn crept over Waredaca's rolling course.  A light mist and a breeze made it perfect galloping weather.  All our organizing was done the night before so we only had to man our stations (with the barrrrely enough volunteers who showed up) with scoresheets and timers and pens and cameras and radios and drinks and to stalk each rider through their phases.


I took up my traditional role as the finish timer of Phase D.  I love seeing the big grins as each partnership gallop through the finish flags, having finished the greatest accomplishment in our sport:  endurance day of a true long format event.

Tools of the trade.
Bonus:  the borrowed vehicle I sat in had heated seats.  At least, it did until the battery died.

It also came with a friend.  3 minutes can be long...
From my vantage point, I could watch riders trot off on Phase A (warmup), finish Phase C (cooldown), enter and work the 10-minute box, and then, of course, the last two jumps of the cross country course.  It was up to me to hit the red button, recording everyone's timing fate on the Seiko ribbon and reporting it to Brian.  50 times.  At (mostly) 3 minute intervals. 

It went something like this (warning, terrible cell phone video resolution):

The latter was one of my favourite horses, Mr. President. a big drafty paint cross who was actually a lovely mover and jumper and had the sweetest face; I wanted to pick him up and put him in my (very large) pocket and take him home.

But it wasn't all the same thing.  Some had more trouble than others with the concept of flags (apologies again for poor video but the conversation is worth it)...

By afternoon, it was done.  I believe one horse withdrew in the vet box and the only fall was an unfortunate soul whose mount tripped and fell on his knees starting Phase A.  Trotting.  Fortunately, you don't get eliminated for that.

After that, it's a like snowball rolling downhill, already having gathered so much momentum,  your exhausted brain just rolls along with it.  Scoresheets were all turned over the the head scorer, we all ran away and passed out after a final review of which prizes go where, and the sun had set on a fantastic day.

Saturday was almost anticlimactic after the thrill of completing the day before.  After the morning jog up,  I worked as pole steward when tired or looky horses didn't quite get all four feet over and as holder of all prizes for distribution.  The three divisions (2 Training, 1 Novice) jumped around, collected their loot, and we bolted for home.

I'll keep going back.  Maybe next year I will be on a horse.  More likely, I'll be defying death by golf cart again.  A behind the scenes video would be fascinating -- you truly would not believe the flurry and hard work and acts of generousity beyond the call of duty that are constantly occuring behind that usually smooth face of each event.

Even greater though, is the knowledge and experience I gain with each trip.  Not only do I meet new judges, officials, clincians, product reps, and adult riders, but I learn tidbits from the seemingly bottomless well of how to successfully complete a long format event.  Things you never get from a clinic or a lesson.  When I finally DO make it to competitor status, I will be the one sitting there feeling (relatively) confident about exactly what is going to happen every day, as well as how to be not only successful but EFFICIENT with my competition plan.  Because I've seen what worked and I've seen what didn't and I've seen the difference between how you ride and manage a true 3-day horse and how you ride a regular horse trial horse.

And all I remember thinking, the whole time this year, was, Encore could totally own this...

October 29, 2012

A Gear In The Complex Machine, Pt. I

Before I start, to all my friends, human and equine, north of me, please stay safe and wear a lifejacket!  I know those areas are not as accustomed to our tropical visitors as we are down here, so just buy an extra case of beer and keep your blankets handy.

Seriously, sun!!  At Waredaca!!  In October!!!
I've been gone the last four days (Wed-Sat, I know, I heard you sobbing) doing my annual volunteer stint at the Waredaca Training 3-Day Event (now including the Novice 3-Day!), which is run by my beloved Area II Adult Riders (see sidebar) group with the help of Gretchen Butts, the owner of Waredaca who donates the use of her amazing facility (omg, the XC footing...) to use for the event.  As longtime readers know, this event has been my riding goal ever since I first set foot on the showgrounds in 2009.  And hell or high water (both of which you might actually be in right now?), I WILL ride that course.  I tried to make it happen last year.  We all know how that ended.  But not this year.

I am always a strong proponent of volunteering for our sport.  I firmly believe EVERY SINGLE MEMBER from me to Boyd Martin should be required to spend 8 hours volunteering each year if they want to compete at a recognized event.  Doing ANYTHING.  Because there is a lot more to running a horse trial than judging cross country jumps.  Every time you are out there competing, we are running around like mad behind the scenes, most of us completely unpaid, there for the love of the sport, without which, you couldn't feel the rush of that course.  We make it happen for you - pass it on. 

Psh, a few judges, a TD, and some jump judges, what more could it take, you think?

Task Priori:  Keep Russell the russell warm!
I arrived around lunchtime on Wednesday; the first soundness jog-up was scheduled for late afternoon.  OMG, THE SUN WAS SHINING (This never happens; the T3D is usually held in 30 mph wind with a cold rain, during which I wear all the clothes in my suitcase at one time)!  I held on for dear life as the golf cart launched into warp drive to collect order of go sheets, distribute them to Gary from GRC, our dedicated photographer, Brian O'Connor (yeah, that one), smart-ass the entertaining announcer, TD, ground jury, and myself (jog steward) and one fellow yearly volunteer who also doubles as the stabling manager (MASSIVE job who is in charge of everything including safety checks, shavings, payments, posting announcements, answering 1,000 questions, and keeping the snack bowl stocked).  We also hold a briefing for riders, led by Stephen Bradley of how to organize your time and pace on endurance day (roads and tracks, steeplechase, cross country).  The riders stare back like spotlit kittens on a highway.

Post-jog, there is dinner to prepare for, dressage tests to be organized on clipboards with 27 pens apiece for judges and scribes, more orders of go for the warmup steward and all the rest (that printer's already smoking in protest),  The arena is set up, and everyone is already in pre-freak-out mode about endurance day (Friday).

The 10-minute box:  the last thing between you and XC
Thursday, as the frightened kittens riders perform their tests in the sandbox, I am once again clinging to a golf cart that is surely performing outside of its design specifications as we bounce off clumps of dirt on the side of a hill.  Have all the flags been staked for roads and tracks?  Where is the steeplechase practice jump?  Will the steeplechase be the same for Novice and Training (nah, they hedge-trimmed inbetween)?  Has someone fixed that decoration that blew over?  How are we going to stretch the 10 extra Friday volunteers (for shame, peeps, for shame) over 47 positions?  Is the 10-minute box roped off?  Can someone put out the finish flags for phase C?  Where is the start box for D?  Who will be control for cross country and will they be on the same radio channel as roads and tracks?  Has anyone seen the TD?  Have we picked rider reps yet?  Don't tell them how much paperwork it involves.  No one has STILL fixed the blowover?  Thank cod vet school minions are showing up to help in the 10-minute box!  Will we ever convince the kittens that the end of B and the start of C are the same location?  By the way, did anyone ever mark that?   

You get the idea.

I managed to steal about 30 minutes to watch Tremaine Cooper (FEI course builder and excellent teacher) and Stephen Bradley coach some of the riders through steeplechase practice after their dressage tests.  Two words:  FAST and FUN.  Just let go, ride the gallop, and it becomes a beautiful thing.

Want it done right?  Hire OCD girl.
Then I spent about 1.5 hours putting together all the clipboards for endurance day judges, talking through the system with the volunteer coordinator, labeling, re-labeling, stacking, mapping, and hoping people would actually show up.   After that, it was helping Michele, our magical, incredible prize coordinator, organize prize buckets and loot from a variety of donors and sponsors.

Then it was more dinner, including more attempts by our dedicated volunteer vet, Dr. Julie, and Max Corcoran (do I even need to explain who she is?) to teach riders how to untangle the pile of 4 phases of string and make it into a smooth line of endurance day awesomeness:  A - B - C - 10 min box - D - vet check - done.

Led by a cold beer and a warm bed, I was passed out by 9:30 pm.  And there were still two days to make happen, two days to give 50 lucky people the (safe!) ride of their lives around a championship level course.  Easy....

To be continued...      

October 27, 2011

T Is For Training

3D is for Awesome.  Together, they make Waredaca T3D, the phenomenal long-format event run by our very own Area II Adult Rider program, which I had the distinct pleasure of volunteering at most of last week.  Exhausting, yes, but exhilarating and educational.  I first experienced this event in 2009 and had made it my goal to achieve with Solo.  We didn't make it, but the quest taught us a great deal about ourselves and I went back to work the event this year with a new perspective.

It did not disappoint.

The terrible shack I had to stay in, also known as my friend, Beth's beautiful house -- the picture doesn't show the delicious hot tub in the back...
Waredaca is in the heart of Maryland horse country, NW of Washington, DC.
A groomed area awaits the first competitor.
Wednesday was the first jog-up and I stewarded each horse to the indoor arena gate in the windy drizzle.  It rains at least one day every year at the T3D, just like Rolex!  The point of the T3D is not just to complete a long-format event, although that would be more than adequate motivation to come!  It is also built as an educational experience, with lectures, clinicians, vets, and farriers on hand to offer assistance, coaching, and years of wisdom to nervous riders.  Dinner that night included a talk from the event vet, the ever-helpful, ever-cheerful Dr. Julie, on what to expect in the ten-minute box between Phases C and D on Friday and a raffle.  I would like to note that I LOVE THE T3D RAFFLES.  Simply because it is the only place ever that I actually win stuff and I am now the proud owner of 5 free bags of feed and an awesome Cosequin bucket.

Thursday, I was in charge of the dressage warm-up ring and bit check before riders entered the ring at A.  You can see the little "C" I marked next to each rider after I felt up their horse.  Horse's mouth.  Ha.  No edges, no rollers allowed.  But I had no rule-breakers and I sent each one up to the ring with a smile and a "good luck!"

After dressage, riders switched off their tack and went off to meet Stephen Bradley and Tremaine Cooper for steeplechase practice.  I ate lunch and lounged in the stables to regain my strength for Friday!

"What happens Friday," you ask?

Only the pure awesomeness of endurance day of a true 3-day event.  Explanation here.

Thursday afternoon, I'd also participated in a coursewalk with Tremaine Cooper, who just so happens to build a lot of courses, including the Prelim and higher courses at our very own Carolina Horse Park.  I learned how to better read terrain on a course and to really think about how it will affect your horse's gallop.  He stressed multiple times, don't be yanking on your horse two strides out from the jump; do your balancing 10 strides out, then soften and go forward to your jumping effort.

It's hard to take a picture while trying to look like you are not taking a picture.
"Your horsey needs to go over, like this..."
Michele, my hard-working co-volunteer, works it for the camera.
But it was Friday now, which meant time to get geared up and send some horses out of the start box!  Michele and I were the starters and finish timers for Phase D, the cross country course and Beth kept communications going.  By the time horses and riders got to us, they had already done Phases A (Roads and Tracks I, aka lots of trotting),  B (steeplechase!), and C (Roads and Tracks II, aka more trotting).

It takes a lot of gear to run the start box.  We have to have sychronized timers and backup timers for both the start and finish line.  Then we need a radio to talk to Jim, aka Master Of The Timers, and to Brian O'Connor, announcer and XC control.  Add to that scoresheets, pencils, chairs and...

A LOT OF CLOTHES.  Hey, that wind was cold.

The view I long to have.

5..4..3..2..1...Steve Fulton and Ticket To Ride get the countdown from Michele.
Barbara Bloom and Fabulous Fiction are on course!
We were rejoicing as the morning rolled smoothly along.  Most horses went clear with only one or two runouts and the cool weather meant everyone passed the vet box with flying colours.  I think we jinxed it.  Right at the end of the day, the second to last rider, Steve's charming daughter, Savannah, on the flying chestnut, FMF Royal Guest, took a nose dive into one of the water jumps.  We held our collective breaths and bent straining ears to the radios -- icy water, a cold wind, and a hard fall are not a good combination.  Everyone breathed a sigh of relief when she was loaded safely into the ambulance and her mare walked back to the stable.  Although Savannah ended her day in surgery for her broken arm, we were all glad it was not a broken neck or a head injury for this gutsy young rider.  The last rider, after a long hold, was eliminated shortly thereafter for a missing a jump, but she got to complete the course and at only 13 years old, riding a horse trained by Phillip Dutton, I'm sure she'll be back to try again soon! 

After all of that, Saturday was almost uneventful.  I had walked the course the evening before with Stephen Bradley and was interested to see how it rode.  After the Saturday morning jog, I was again warmup steward and gate master of the stadium ring and was thrilled to see all the remaining riders successfully complete the event with just a few rails here and there.  Mountains of prizes were handed out, including Best Conditioned, Oldest Horse, Oldest Rider (I mean, "Rider Farthest From Junior Status" as Brian so tactfully put it), Best Groom, Good Sportsmanship, Most Cross Country Enthusiasm, and Best Turned Out.

I cannot stress enough the value of getting out and volunteering at events like these.  Not only do you get to benefit from lectures, course walks, etc, but you get to meet members of your area, check out courses, watch warm up rides (these can be very enlightening), listen to trainers, see what types of riding strategies work or don't work....the list of benefits is nearly endless.  And this doesn't even include the fact that eventing NEEDS you.  When you compete, crowds of people are there working, for free, so you can ride.  Turn the tables and give back because events can't happen without the labour of love that is volunteering.

When I pulled into my driveway Saturday evening, I was exhausted (although I still had to go ride Encore and pack for our horse trial) but excited.  With a little education and mileage, I could already envision Encore rocking that it too early to send in my entry??

October 21, 2009

The Road Show

I am off to Waredaca Training 3-Day Event (link on our calendar at right) to volunteer and hopefully learn a thing or two. Hopefully, someday I will be driving up there with Solo in the trailer to compete (after money falls from the sky, Solo magically learns to stay on the bit, & I figure out how to ride properly)...