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We Are Flying Solo

Showing posts with label cats. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cats. Show all posts

July 25, 2014

WTF: Cat Befriends Stegosaurus

Wordless Triassic Friday!  What did you think it stood for??!  *snicker*  I admit part of me just wants to see if I can get the most bizarre Google search terms of all time (Oh c’mon, like you didn’t know I have the amusement level of a 10-year-old).  Damn, this is supposed to be wordless.  Psh, not within my skill set.

Orange Cat Snooze
Orange Cat never minds older friends
I swear real posts are in the works.  I’ve just been a tad preoccupied since Encore’s left front foot got jealous of his right front foot.

Encore's Busted Feed
Self-resection (RF), meet bruise (LF) -- I so enjoying spending time with you both
Solo Face July 2014
SoloWhat’s a guy gotta do to get some attention around here?
MeDon’t. You. Dare.

April 7, 2014

Carolina International: Video Wrap-Up

I think you gonna need some horse for this one...
Yes, well, several weeks later -- as you all know too well, there is never a dull moment (or a spare one!) with horses.  Or my job in springtime!

However, I wanted to try to sum up several key aspects of the 2014 Carolina International CIC*** and HT that continue to stand out in my mind.  One unpleasant shift that I had feared when FEI decided that the CIC format should run dressage-SJ-XC was confirmed.  Since this schedule no longer requires the traditional Sunday morning horse inspection the day after cross country and the horses no longer have to be "saved" for show jumping, I worried that for some riders, one large incentive to pull up a tiring horse and stop if there was just a second of "NQR" was then removed and those competitors subject to such pressures, would instead keep running for the money since it was "just a few more jumps."

I was not wrong.  If you have never had the pleasure of running at the Carolina Horse Park, it is a HILLY course.  There are long gallops and the ground undulates around every turn.  At no level can you get away with "mostly almost fit."  In the past, I've witnessed more than a few Olympic-level pairs, both at CHP and Rolex, pull up mid-course after a single stop or even in the middle of a field when a horse looked fine to me.  But they felt something and chose to make The Horseman's Decision, putting the best interests of their partner first.

The cardiopulmonary system is a tissue too!
Granted, we've had a BITCH of a winter on the east coast, with very few escaping its wrath.  But if you are competing at the FEI 3* level, by that point, I feel you need to either get the fitness work done or else just wait.  It may be your job, but it's still a horse show and a risky one at that.  So it was with a sinking heart that during the 3*, several horses came through roaring for air, with exhaustion etched on their faces and in the twitch of every muscle...and not a one pulled up.  Don't mistake me, most were well-conditioned (some even a bit overly so!!), but that handful who were pushed home over "just a few more jumps" by riders who had the knowledge and experience to know better confirmed my suspicion that the temptation was too great, only adding to my long-held distaste for the FEI and its seeming disregard for serious and meaningful protection of the welfare of these horses who give us everything they have and then some.

Author's note:  This has nothing, zero, nada to do with the sad losses of Powderhound and Conair at The Fork last weekend, so any internet speculators, bugger off.  I "know" both Will Coleman and Andrew McConnon through one degree of separation and both of them are wonderful, thoughtful, caring, compassionate horsemen who would never for one second do anything to put their beloved partners at risk.  Both geldings were incredibly fit and talented and made their jobs look easy.  Tragedy  has no sense of timing, nor does it have the mercy to always occur in private.  TFS, as noted on FB, sends out a hug and condolences to both teams.

But on to a happier note...  Eventing Nation stated in their summary that Saturday was "all about Marilyn Little."  I couldn't disagree more.

Emily Beshear and a tidy Shame on the Moon
The weekend was all about a huge group of people who came together for the love of the sport and the horses that captivate us and created something special.  The Carolina Horse Park has a long and storied legacy in the Carolina sandhills and its "family" of supporters, competitors, volunteers, students, trainers, officials, neighbours, and veterans brought their hard work and their contributions to the table, ready to bring our beloved facility into the national spotlight.  I can't think of a greater measure of success than the fact that not only were there over 400 entries from T to 3*, but, at least from my folding chair, everyone from the winning FEI riders to nobody smurflet me was treated with respect, gratitude, and taken care of through attention to even the smallest detail.

After much contemplative review, this event was all about the fallen rider, who in each case was swooped up and whose horse was cared for nearly as soon as they met the ground.  It was about that person we don't know who crossed the finish line hollering with glee and hugging her horse because they completed their first FEI event and that other one who got eliminated but slipped her horse a treat anyway and thanked him for his efforts.  It was about illustrating that a cross country course can be big and challenging and shake up placings down to the last rider on course, yet still allow a mistake without lethal punishment.  It was about creating an environment embracing all of the reasons that make eventing great, where an adult amateur can ask questions, observe, converse, and learn from some of the best minds and skillsets we have, from riders to judges to builders to grooms.  It was about sitting in a tent with the legends of our sport, whose shining partners' hoofbeats pounded by a ten-year-old me next to a galloping lane at the Kentucky Horse Park, and realizing that those reasons and that passion is still there, no matter how bumpy the road may be.

CIC*** 17-18AB:  Sharon White and Raffery's Rules present a masterclass on How It's Done:

Buck Davidson and Ballynoecastle RM find the line he wanted after going through earlier with The Apprentice, firmly entrenching he and Reggie in 2nd place:

CIC** 16ABC:  Becky Holder and Frodo of the Shire pop-pop-pop through on their way to 7th place:

This, my friends, is why I drive hours and give up days of my time to volunteer.  And why I staunchly encourage you to jump in there and discover all that is offerred.  It doesn't matter if it's a Gold Cup qualifier or a local schooling show (I did that two days ago, a Walking Horse show at our old boarding facility, no less!), I guarantee that if you keep your eyes and ears open, you will accumulate valuable tidbits to take home and apply to your own riding and training, even if it's "OMG, never do THAT."  Where else do you get to sit next to a top dressage judge and ask what he is looking for at the free walk, or listen to the course designer describe how he uses the terrain to ask different questions at the same type of jump, or watch how the choices of riders from new to veteran affect how their horses' balance and jump right in front of you?

So -- where are you parking your chair next?

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!

June 20, 2011

Not Exactly Horse Related

He limped up to my front porch as I arrived home a few hot Carolina evenings ago.  He had two puncture wounds on either side of his spine from which blood oozed and a big patch of hair had been ripped out.  His entire head was covered in scabbed over wounds and a sizeable piece of one ear was missing.  He looked like he hadn't seen a meal in weeks as he flopped onto the concrete.

Oh crap, I thought. I don't want another cat.

They find me, you see. Cats in need, I mean. It's like some kind of scent trail that leads to my exact location. And I am REALLY tired of cleaning up other people's messes.

Last fall, it was the black and white kitten that someone had literally thrown out of their car window at our office gate. We are the only building on a dead-end interstate service road next to a reservoir and the gate apparently says, "Hey scumbags, please dump your unwanted felines here." His claws and pads lost in asphalt burns, this cuddly young thing had hobbled up to our parking area and was hiding inside a truck engine. He was asleep in my lap in five minutes.

He eventually went to live a pampered life with my technician's mother. Then there was the trio of friendly orange kittens (also pitched by our gate) that I took to my vet's rescue clinic. The same clinic kindly accepted the darling calico I found in a tree outside Pizza Hut (we called her Pepperoni). Another black and white snuggler, dirty and wormy and maybe five weeks old, leaped on my hands from a bush when I stopped to move a box turtle out of the road; he now lives with a co-worker. I am still convinced that one left the turtle out as bait for a soft-hearted sucker like me.

So by the time this torn-up orange tomcat presented himself at my door, yeah, I was sick of having to do the responsible thing because someone else couldn't be bothered.  My bank account certainly had no wiggle room!

I thought (hoped) he might run off and save me the trouble. He looked up at me and started to purr.


"Ok, mister," I told him with a sigh. "I can't very well leave you here in 95 degree heat with deep, bleeding punctures and a busted up leg. Here's the deal: if you let me pick you up and take you inside, I will try to help you."

Please run away, please run away, I thought. I have no money and two cats of my own already that I have to protect from god-knows-what diseases you have.

He hung limp in my arms as I scooped him up and unlocked the door. He was a big cat, twice the size of mine, but he weighed next to nothing. As I cautiously opened the door, he caught sight of my cats and I braced myself for the inevitable filleting of my arms which I knew was about to occur.

Nothing. He just hung there and sighed a little.

I put him in my guest bathroom with some water, kibble, and litter. I know he must be starved and dehydrated. He half-heartedly lapped a few sips of water and then climbed into the bathtub and, in two minutes, fell asleep in front of me.

He was so exhausted, he spent the next two days hardly budging from the tub except for the occasional snack and drink. When I came in, he limped over and leaned against me to be petted, his rumbling purr vibrating his whiskers. He was filthy and left brown pawprints all over the tub but I couldn't hold it against him as I raged against the human species who left him to this fate.

He looked like a dog had picked him up and shaken him and it was obvious he had been fighting for his life. He had a mess of worms and nasty ears. But his eyes were clear and he wanted nothing more than to crawl into my lap.

After a day at the vet getting neutered and shot and cleaned and tested, it was clear kitty had magical powers: he could rack up amazing bills without moving a muscle.  When they informed me that he was free of heartworms/feline leukemia/FIV, I was shocked that he'd managed to stay clean.

He's been in my house for two weeks now. Completely submissive, when one of my cats whacked him on the nose, he flopped over on his side and stared at her, simply waiting to be accepted. Last night, he crawled across the bed and laid down at my side. He pressed his back into my ribcage and stretched out, nestling his head into the space between my shoulder and neck. His purrs came faster than he could breathe and I wondered at his ability to love and trust the same animal that dumped him, as he had obviously been a housecat before.

No, this has nothing to do with Solo and little to do with horses, but this cat's story compelled me to share it. So many animals have an amazing capacity to forgive, to give us second and third and fourth chances that we clearly don't deserve. They heal and move on seemingly without a backward thought.

Some stories have a happy ending. This particular orange cat is completely available (you know you want him!) but if no one takes him, he is safe with me. Many more stories don't end so well. The thoughtlessness of the masses is quite content to leave animals of all sorts to the four winds of the fates, no matter how they suffer. After all, who cares what happens, it doesn't affect us, right? I guess not, if you have no soul or compassion at all.

So take a minute, give your lucky animals a hug. And I hope you can find it in you to take your time and money, however scarce or invisible, and offer a bit of help to all those critters out there who need it so badly. Even if it's just clicking our friends at The Animal Rescue Site, the animals need us to step up. Volunteer at your local dog/cat/horse rescue, donate money (even $5 helps), donate stuff you don't use anymore, etc. Because if we don't help them, no one else will.

May 4, 2009

A Week Of Mourning

In a horrific and unexpected moment, I lost a dear friend and family member last week and was just unable to bend my will to writing for you.

I want to take a moment (well, frankly, because it's my blog and because I can) and tell you about a very special guy who touched my life so deeply.

He was a dirty little 5-month-old kitten with a respiratory infection when I first saw him at the Bay Area SPCA outside of Houston, TX in 2002. He'd been in that cage for two months after his previous owner dumped him. Then he reached his little paws through his cage bars and stole my heart right. That night, he crawled under the sheets in my bed and curled up next to my chest and did the same thing every night for the next seven years. His name was Nemo -- short for Geronimo, NOT the little orange fish, thankyouverymuch.

He waited behind the door every day for me to come home from work. His greatest pleasure was curling up in my lap and dozing. Each night, he nuzzled up next to my pillow and sang me to sleep with a robust purring motor. And I can't finish this post without tears because I wasn't ready to let him go.

I'll never know for certain what happened. He had a heart murmur from about one year of age on, so I believe he suffered from cardiomyopathy. The best I can tell is that his heart threw a blood clot that burst in his brain. All I can be glad for is that it was over very, very quickly. He is buried beneath the birdfeeder he loved to watch and I just planted a group of caladium bulbs over his head. I miss him terribly every day and always will; I have never known a cat quite like him, I swear he was part dog. He came when you called, fetched toys, and loved pretty much everyone.

In his honor, I decided the best thing that I could do was to help another cat, thereby giving it a happy home AND opening up a space at a good rescue for another cat, a 2-for-1 deal! I had not intended to act on this for a while, but last week, in a somewhat creepy twist of fate, a little 2 year old female who is the SPITTING image of Nemo introduced herself to me. She is so like him that I don't know whether to laugh or cry (I confess to the latter when she too, burrowed under my sheets last night). I'll never get my best boy back, but I am trying to do right by his memory and help other cats who are as needy as he once was.

Please take a second and go donate your "click" here: The Animal Rescue Site. I have blogged about them before here and hope that you can give the purple button a hit to help shelter animals everywhere. Do it for Nemo, a heart so full of love that it wore itself out. Be kind to a kitty today, it takes so little to make their lives better.