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We Are Flying Solo

Showing posts with label goals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label goals. Show all posts

February 16, 2016

You Can Win The Triple Crown Of Eventing – At Beginner Novice


http://www.so8ths.com/rider-info/

Or Novice.  Or Training.  Or even Prelim.


This is not a joke.   This is a real broadcast from the “Awesome Eventing Opportunity” system.

You may have read a few posts here about a certain long format 3-day-event that comes around on the first weekend in May.  That’s right, Heart of the Carolinas (HOTC) 3DE at the spectacular Southern Eights Farm, just across our southern border in Chesterfield, SC.

Follow HOTC's New Media Channels!
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2015 BN3DE Prizes
A spring sister event to the Waredaca 3DE that first inspired my (as-yet-thwarted, sigh) singular T3DE completion goal, HOTC brings it all to the table: a destination facility, a championship-level cross country course, phenomenal clinicians, incredible sponsors (no, Sponsorship Coordinator is not biased at all, hee)…I have so much to share, but that’s another post.

I can’t resist some tempting breadcrumbs, though: how about Sally O’Connor, Carol Kozlowski, special editions from Jim Wofford, Doug Payne…but I digress.

Yeah, Get To That “Triple Crown” Part

While there is a great KY Derby party, that’s not the one I’m talking about.   Last year, some inspired heads came together & created the Carolina Eventing Challenge (CEC).  And HOTC is the final leg of this series.  Are you ready??
Equine opinion may vary (2015 HOTC Jog)
CEC Levels - Beginner Novice, Novice, Training, & Preliminary (as noted)

To win, horse & rider team must complete a minimum of TWO of these
  1. Southern Pines HT (Carolina Horse Park; hurry, entries close 23 Feb!) 
  2. Longleaf Pine HT (Carolina Horse Park; always my favourite HT
  3. HOTC 3DE (Southern Eighths Farm; includes CEC description) 
One must be HOTC and only the 3DE divisions count towards the CEC mega-prize (to be announced).  The one exception is Prelim, as we do not have a Prelim XC course at HOTC, the Prelim CT, which incorporates some Derby fences, will be included in the Challenge.  Lowest scores win.

That’s right, you don’t have to be Pippa Funnell to win an epic eventing series!

2015 TIP Delights
More Than One Way To Play

Not ready (or still working on that quarter jar *raises hand*) for the 3DE yet?  Come on down for our parallel HT divisions, including a new Intro course & the just-created BN-Assisted division.   Bonus:  your OTTB can win cash prizes from the Jockey Club's TB Incentive Program in the HT as well!

Evil goal-thwarting horse (*raises other hand*)?  Um, our volunteer swag is kind of awesome & you can attend all the clinics/coursewalks/lectures for free!

You can find details in the USEA Omnibus listing here.  We already have some amazing prizes for the 3DE (all three long format divisions receive prizes through 8th place); you can check out our ever-growing list of sponsors on the event website.

Can’t make it, but want to be a part of the action?  Fence sponsorships are inexpensive & open to anyone: the LOWER (League of Weenie Event Riders, I love it!) group has supported a XC fence, Riding Warehouse is sponsoring the water complex with more fab prizes…it would be great to have a Horse Bloggers fence, if someone wants to help organize it!!   Leave a comment note or click the email icon up top to give me a shout.

For more information, including TFS posts, EN articles, program links, & more, I maintain a clearinghouse page here, which is also linked in the slider at the bottom of our homepage.

Come fly the Carolina skies! (2014 BN3DE Haffie Whinney The Pooh, I'm not making that up)

October 13, 2015

Ever Tried To Catch A Greased Weasel?

Because that's pretty much what it's like trying to pin down sentences in my brain anymore.  Little buggers are elusive...

I know my last post was not entirely upbeat.

But a life is always far more complicated to actually DO than it may appear.


It could appear that my life is its own paradise. And there are many good things:
  • The farm is beautiful in every kind of light.
  • Fall field work, aside from the 4-hour drive to get to the watershed, is usually a lovely change from the heat-stroke ridden July trips.
  • Two chestnut faces greet me twice a day, each voice unique.
But memories can be haunting.


But I’m doing my best to break everything into 5-minute increments.  My brain can just about DO 5 minutes.  And then I can check something, however small, off the list.


Well, my knee surgeon told me in 2012 I'm not allowed to run.  But I have a match in my hand (which means I’m probably burning my fingers, heh), though it flickers.  And I'm walking as fast as I can.

And damn it, I'm going to at least see what the walls of the tunnel are made out of.  And then my horses & I are going to gallop out into blazing sunlight.

At which point we’ll probably trip & throw a shoe, but hey, someone’s got to provide comic relief!

August 9, 2015

We Jumped A Thing!

Seriously – a thing!!!  Ok, the word “jump” may be a tad strong:
If it looks like a jump & jumps like a jump...
But creativity is a Team Flying Solo credo, so two barrels my neighbour wasn’t using & old seine poles from work we’d replaced = all manner of jump-like constructs.

It simultaneously seems like years ago & last week that we were arcing around 3’3” courses under David O.’s sharp eyes, but yesterday…yesterday, a whoop of triumph escaped my fool’s grin as Encore neatly popped over a single crossrail that I’d optimistically call 2’6”.

Because it WAS a triumph!  Doubly so, because this post is a post!  I know many of you have been thinking, “Hey, didn’t there used to be, like, stories on this blog?
 
Yep.  I’m trying to figure out where they went, too.

Every Day For The Win!

From its birth, We Are Flying Solo has been about embracing & celebrating what defines horsemanship, no matter what the discipline/breed/age:  Baby Steps.  And they absolutely still count even if you are walking in impressions you’ve made before!

Best webcomic ever, by Natalie Dee
I’ve worked very hard to accomplish the proud label of “Slowest Rehab Ever,” between Encore’s healing stifles (yeah, pretty sure those were wayyyyy faster than me) & my own bewildered feeling of being shaken up inside a dark paper bag for the past year.  I was beginning to wonder if it was Over.

What?  I never claimed to have conquered Anxiety Girl, who gains astonishing power when combined with the habitual paranoia of horse ownership

Despite a rocky moment, where Encore refused the fence twice (90% rider mental hesitation & cursed spot of doubt), the third time was the charm (out, out damned spot! *literature nerd moment of awesome*).  And so were the two after that.

So when I dropped my stirrups & leaned down to wrap my arms around that generous horse’s neck, my murmur of, “Thank you, buddy!” consisted of everything in my heart.  Gifts so often arise as moments.  Moments shaped like hope.

July 21, 2015

How Not To Get Hot


Famous last words:  “I was going to wait & ride at 8:00 pm since it’s 907% humidity, but heck with it, it’s already 6:30 pm, that’s close enough!

Nausea, dizziness, stomach cramping, fatigue, shortness of breath, & nausea are all signs of…what was that, kids?  Dumbassery?  Well, yes.  That actually might be a better answer than my old friend, heat perishing (it sounds better than the completely non-dramatic label ‘exhaustion’).

I did ride, though!  It just took me three times longer to hose Encore between gasping on the floor in front of the fan, sipping water, & thinking, “Don’t throw up, don’t throw up, don’t throw up…”

Wow.  That Sounds, Um, Fun?  What The Why?

You’d think I’d be immune to working in the stickiest of the Carolina versions of air.  I mean, at least I was on a horse while the sun set instead of on the bow of an aluminum electrofishing boat wearing black rubber gloves at mid-day!

Alas, just as we must condition our horses to work in heat every year, we must prepare our own physiology for the demands of melting from the inside out.

Yes, totally what I look like sweating
Pre-Ride Tips For You
(aka all the things I didn’t do last night, but learned from a very smart pro athlete)

  • Drink a bottle of water beforehand.  
    • Even before you fetch Dobbin from the pasture or, if trailering, before you exit the truck on arrival.  I sweat a LOT.  Like, a greased pig in a sauna on the surface of the sun a lot.  All my water bottles are 1 L (~32 oz.) or larger.  After I made this a hard rule, it was literally night & day after XC – I could breathe!
  • Dress smart.  
    • Light, wicking materials are your very best friend & I’ll happily share my secrets for budget-friendly options from sports bras to shirts & breeches.  If I see a cotton shirt in July, I’ll run screaming.  And I don’t run (technically am not allowed to run, at least I got something good out of that mess).
  • Fuel your muscles.  
    • You’re saddled up & hydrated, but just before you get on, snarf a small protein bar or one of those electrolyte yogurt pack thingies that sort of tastes like you’re swallowing a salty booger (yeah, you’re running to buy those now, aren’t you?).  I choke down the latter & then chase it with 8-12 oz. of water as I’m readying my bridle. 
  • If possible, take swigs during walk breaks.  
  • Closer to reality...
    • Obviously, not an option at a gallop, although wouldn’t it be nice if jump judges could toss you a sip every 1/3 of the course, like bikers & runners do???  I could go for misting jumps, too.  That water jump’s really too shallow to stay cool; even if you can’t resist the swim, well, then it’s your last jump anyway, oops. 
  • On sports drinks:  never drink them straight (I mean, undiluted, I mean...you know what I mean, LOL).  
    • You’ll note that so far, I’ve only mentioned water alone.  Human metabolism flips a switch when exertion begins.  Before the switch, you can’t process any of the electrolytes anyway, you’ll just have more expensive pee, & even lighter versions, such as G2, have too much sugar (not knocking sugar, it’s one of my diet staples), which will just give you a quicker burnout.  After you start working, though, a bottle cut in half with water knocks the concentration down to a useful level & staves off fatigue. 
I don’t love the flavour, but after I felt the dramatic relief, I found one I could live with.  I just stock up when they are on sale at 10 for $10 at the grocery store!

Or that...
In case you forget, I find bribing a friend or sympathetic-looking passers-by to walk your horse as you drag off as many layers as possible while collapsing prone in the nearest patch of shade, trying to bring your pulse rate back below 100, to be a perfectly acceptable backup strategy.

How About That Ride?

Overwhelming desire to retch aside, Encore felt pretty decent.  It’s been a rough while for me, health & energy-wise, so he has been carefully managed using the “Slowest Rehab Ever” approach since he sprained his stifles during his X-Games.  In other words, I’ve been able to do about one short ride a week.  :/

In the spirit of keeping a positive context, though, I can’t afford to travel anyways & I’m a firm believer that 15 minutes of quality work with hills, energy, & correct transitions, is better than 45-60 minutes of mediocre riding when I tire or we both get cranky & sloppy.

We’d be much further along if, you know, someone else paid the mortgage so I could focus on the planned, excruciatingly consistent daily work that blistering would have required.  Or even just the lower-key muscle-building without the chemical intervention.  Oh yeah, & my own body would return to its super-human state circa 2010 or so.

Pls shade.
But I’m mostly ok with where we are for now.  Encore started out with a strong, balanced trot & was able to maintain his shape much more easily through turns & slopes.  I’ve continued to practice my YES I CAN goal & am getting ever closer to unlocking that stubborn left arm.

Encore tired quickly, so our canter work was quite lean-y as he got sore behind.  But that didn’t worry me too much, given noted humidity levels (I actually hosed him before riding as both horses were caked in dirty sweat, even standing in the shady run-in all day) paired with to-date infrequent rides.

Now What?

I’m currently taking some extended leave from work over the next two weeks.  I suppose the best category is “recovery leave,” so I can hopefully step off the vicious cycle of utter exhaustion combined with high stress before it eats up any more of me.  More realistically, I need a sabbatical, but PhD (Practicality Has Disappeared, hee) was not the route for me!!
 
I can has back?
Just being able to move at my own speed for a little is an enormous relief already, so I’m glad I was finally able to beat my guilt into submission & commit to doing it:  I’ve given plenty of sweat & blood for that time & the last break I can remember that actually involved rest was in 2010.  Both orange boys are actually ready to work at present (which I just jinxed, sigh), maybe we can get our routine back.

Speaking of practice, fill me in!  You shared your CAN DO goals, how did you do?

Even if you didn’t catch that post on the first round, I’d love to hear about a detail you’ve been working on!  Leave a comment, better yet, tell us how you’ve practiced; I’m always excited to see everyone’s ideas & have a chance to try new approaches!! 

July 15, 2015

Craving Progress In Your Riding & Training?

Think about it like your horse does.

We (myself included) spend far too much time stuck on what went wrong yesterday or last week or at the last jump.  Rather, we need to join our equine partner in Now. 

Because that forever-sought Moment is dynamic, floating right next to us.  All we have to do is leave the baggage at the gate & open ourselves to being Present, to believing in Possible, .


March 26, 2015

Put More "Can" In Your Can-ter

The Power Of Positive

Something continues popping up its little head, quietly, back in mind cobwebs where useful things like to hide.  It just makes eye contact & then returns to its burrow, but each time, it reminds me how much I continue to evolve in the psychology of my riding & training.  And how far I have to go.

And stay off my lawn!
Growing up, I was always SO irritated by all those people who chanted "Think Positive!" & "Say It Like This!"  I thought, yeah right, life's not that simple, don't you think we'd LIKE to?  Your cheerfulness is annoying the crap out of me.  Go.  Away.

Now, I can't say that I still don't want to throttle That Person, because life ISN'T that simple, but I started applying an adapted version of this type of psychology to my riding (if you have the patience & psychiatric fortitude -- hey, don't look at me) & it was a game-changer.

In online seminars, articles, lessons, similar themes kept surfacing & finally, I began to string together these points of mental contact into a little Brain Sub-Toolbox (it's blue, naturally).  I can't decide if it holds just one big tool, a psychological Sawz-all, or if it's more like my box of a zillion drill bits -- all similar, but specialized per application.  But let’s rummage, shall we?

If you'd just listen to me, mom...
Make Your Thoughts & Plans Affirmative


Rumour has it that the brain doesn't recognize the word "don't," so when you say, "Don't hang on the left rein, you dolt," it hears, "Hang onto that rein for all you’re worth, baby."  I'm not sure if I buy the phrasing, but in this case, the means justify the ends:  tell yourself what you ARE going to do, instead of what you AREN'T going to do.

FTW example:  Enter sandbox with following internal monologue:  let's trot forward, make eye contact with the judge, smile like we know we're damn good.  My eyes & shoulders will lead my horse straight as an arrow down centerline & then I will use my leg to feed his forward energy through the bend of the corner.

A bit less of this, perhaps?
Fail example:  Enter Torture Rectangle mentally haranguing self:  don't let his haunches drift, get your head down, dammit!  Don't forget to prepare for the turn, don't get stiff, don't hold your breath, don't let him spook at the judge.  I’d hazard a guess that I’m not alone in my expertise in this approach…

If you keep working FTW, then you've succeeded in avoiding one of our worst habits:

I practice all the time!
Defensive Driving 

Stirring up all the negatives in my brain means that is what my subconscious is focused on as well, which leads to the oft-repeated discovery that clamping down on your horse like a straitjacket does not produce a relaxed, balanced dressage test.  After much practice with this charming technique, I have finally recognized it for what it is: riding for contingencies that have not happened yet.  Which means they are imaginary.

I have plenty of other issues with imaginary things, I could stand to dump one…

Supposedly this helps.  I wouldn't know.
We know well that our horses tend to live up to what the rider's body tells them to expect (note that I said BODY, not INTENTIONS).  If we are going to create self-fulfilling prophecies, why not make them good ones instead?

Because if I keep my brain positively distracted by waving good things in front of it, it (sometimes) remembers to tell my body to do the right things & pay attention to the horse I have underneath me NOW.  This keeps me focused on his energy & attentive to my riding, like a little mini-trainer is standing in my cerebral cortex.  (Hey, explanation for the voices:  BAM!)

Maybe just more of these...
Break It Down, Make It Useable

This goes far beyond just the dressage arena or show day itself; as I wrote about at the beginning of...uh, last year, I want to continue to step up & dial in my riding, sporadic though it may be.
  • That means having a plan for schooling rides…and a backup plan if it's not our day.
  • That means keeping my cool if the horse is frustrated & GETTING OFF if we both get frustrated.
  • That means envisioning each step of each ride as if it were perfect, including the feel of the contact, the rhythm, my posture, weight, balance.
  • That means also being ok when it's NOT perfect, recognizing the effort, letting the negative slip away & resetting the mental plan back to how the next great step will feel.
  • That means after dismounting, I mull over what went RIGHT & what that felt like in my back, in my arms, in my horse.  Each time, this reinforces my muscle memory & increases my ability to replicate that for a few more steps next time.  
You know, no big deal, just a few little mental exercises.  I’ve already TOTALLY mastered them.  *end sarcasm font*  But when I can do it, it WORKS.

Requisite annoyingly positive graphic!
What’s Your CAN?

Here’s where I open it up to you:  pick a positive for the next few weeks of your own riding.  Leave it in a comment here & let that be your goal (remember, they all move in baby steps, occasionally even forwards!).  If you have your own blog, I’ll even issue a friendly challenge to share it there in the spirit of mental commitment.  Then we’ll check back a bit later & see what happened!

Bonus:  you get to call me out on mine!  Although a certain genius horse has sprained his stifles while inventing pasture games in mud (a post for later *headdesk*), at least the therapy involves riding.  In doing so, I WILL ride from my leg & core while my arms remain evenly soft on the contact.

If it makes you feel better, it was excruciatingly difficult to write that without any negative clauses!

March 7, 2015

When 'Failure' Isn't Failure

Brilliantly perfect!
Before I sate your curiosity about the title, I have to comment on my Problem With Posting.  It's easy to see the trend when you look at our archive tab over there on the right. 

But the root lies deep within my weird special brain:  I have lots of draft posts, but I can't bring myself to hit that "Publish" button until they are Good Enough.  The problem arises from the fact that I set my own bar a wee bit high (sadly, not the good kind of high, heh).  So getting to Good Enough for a single post is hours of work & research.

It's even on the shirt...
Just Post It.  It's Just A Blog!

I should & it is.  But those of you who have been insanely following our story over time have most likely read my "mission statement" (yes, I'm doing some experiments building an "About Us" page, you can find it by clicking our logo in the left sidebar as well)  While useful & valuable as a record of our adventures, this blog began & remains a labour of love not just about me, but for YOU.  There's a reason for the word "team" in that logo... 

The undercurrent I strive for & the reason I share our stories is this:  there are many of us out there, the Adult Amateur, working full-time & then some, juggling busy lives & sunset tables to squeeze in every minute we can with our giant, baffling, wonderful, suicidal, maddening equine partners & friends.  And I want you to know that you are not alone in the ups AND the downs.

The blessing is being part of this great community; the curse is my own fixation on providing content of value that doesn't make your brain bleed when you try to follow the rambling (yeah, there's a lot of editing...).

It sucks...
Back To That Title, If You Don't Mind?

I shamelessly confess I am reposting this from a conversation with a younger friend, who is struggling, as many of us have & continue to do, with that tug-of-war between our longing to spent every waking moment with/on/near horses & the rude fact that we have to pay bills, mortgages, & other irritating obligations. 

More than a few get caught straddling the fence of "I want to make horses my life, but I don't want to live in a dumpster & I need health insurance."  Pile on that most difficult period of life my friend is in, the early-to-mid 20's angst, when you feel like you should know what you are doing & where you are...  Good times.

BFF & Pete the WonderHorse:  The Bests
Why Can't I Just Make My Dreams Come True?

I'm lucky to have an amazing BFF, we've had many conversations about this, as we share lives of unending crises. We agreed that my generation was just pounded with what was really a terrible message in disguise: "Follow your dreams, you can have anything you want if you just want it bad enough, and you will be happy."

Not to say we shouldn't dream nor should we stop trying to achieve what is important & gives meaning to us.  But the message was delivered almost as an order & left many people feeling like they had failed if they weren't among the lucky whose desire crossed paths with opportunity & means.

Which couldn't be farther from the truth.  The truth is that as we get older, really, that just means more time has passed in which things happen to us. Some are beautiful. Some are shattering. Many fall somewhere in between. There's a lot we can't control or ever anticipate.

Patience & Practice...Are Hard But Necessary

One of my life mantras is "nothing lasts forever." NOTHING. Nothing in the universe. Things can suck for a REALLY long time, but everything comes to an end. Great things come to end too, which is why it is so important to try & remember to relish those moments.

Just like eventing, it's a journey. Or a book. There are many chapters. But there is no Table of Contents (dammit). Or index or map. Which is probably a good thing, because I'm not sure any person's brain could even face the enormity of it.

Perhaps it's better summed by saying that there is a balance. Constantly-shifting perhaps, but we just have to feel it out. And we get better with practice. And experience. Even experience we don't particularly want.

Who could ask for more?
There Is Respite

At the moment, I'm a human wasteland, exhausted, with 400 impossible work deadlines that go all the way up to Congress. But for 40 minutes Wednesday evening, a pomegranate sunset escorted Solo & I around the farm bareback & he lifted his back into a soft trot up the neighbour's long drive.

In Thursday's ice rain, it was hard to believe I was wearing a t-shirt & jeans, but for those 40 minutes, it was me & my best buddy, with him saving me yet again, & I couldn't suppress my laugh when he pulled at the bridle for more.

Not exactly proportional, but...balance. Ish.

November 12, 2014

The Sage Speaks: Better Yourself, Better Your Horse

If ever someone encapsulated the goal & spirit of not only this blog, but my own strong convictions in regards to building equine partnerships through thoughful training...well, the legendary Ray Hunt (I know, big surprise) has done it.

Your food for many levels of thought, from the master himself --

Solo owns Longleaf Pines HT, 2010; Photo by Pics of You

September 19, 2014

REAL Real People With Real Lives...And Real Riding*

Adjust the focus
We are flooded daily with stories of 20-year-olds winning Grands Prix, of young professionals adding to their eventing records every weekend, of the lucky demographic of adult amateurs in weekly or daily training programs, spending weeks at a time at clinics & competitions.

All of these people that I've met work very hard in the process.  But for the multitudes of us who have not stumbled upon the luck & opportunity to devote that kind of time to our passion, it can be easy to get discouraged.

Don't be.  The trees are merely blocking your overlook of the forest.

Still amazing with a gorgeous partner!
My Neighbour, The Legend

I am going to cheat & share the message I sent to Susan Mcsherry-Jones (no relation, LOL), an old friend & the subject of this gorgeous article (my fingers are tired...).  When I met her, she worked full time at a marketing firm & needed a hand keeping up with her small personal barn.  Not long after, she decided to start her own company & it appears to have blossomed!   I am thrilled that we have been able to reconnect (I guess Facebook isn't ALL ridiculous).

But Susan is a full-time business owner, full-time mom (omg, I can't believe the baby I looked after is 17!!), & a self-made woman who has faced & overcome the challenges we are all familiar with...and continues to every day.  Even more, she is hope for each of us who might feel that even our modest goals are too much to expect.  Never forget that your journey is YOURS; the course may be unpredictable, but no less valid than any other just because it doesn't involve gold medals.



I Command Thee To Watch And...Just...Wow

Maybe I'm biased, but this is possibly the most beautifully shot & edited interview I've ever seen & now I am in tears.   I am SO proud of Susan, who hired me to help her with her farm when I was in high school & home from college, almost 20 yrs ago.

I remember when that indoor was just a fantasy, when one day it became flags in the grass & the first time she had furniture in that little (but always gorgeous) office, as she showed me the layout that would allow her to watch her daughter, my then-babysitting charge, Jacquelyn, while she schooled her dressage horses.


Thank You

Susan, you look amazing & even though I remember your stress then, I always admired you & I knew you would be wildly successful.  Thank you for being one of the strong women who were role models in my life, & for all that you so generously shared with me, that scruffy, horseless girl desperate to be near hooves any way she could.

Even dragging a sled full of manure uphill over ice out the back of the barn was well worth the rich return you gave, whose names were Nick, Flame, Weanie, & Finaud.  You made your farm feel a little like my home, too; I guess that's why those familiar fields put a lump in my throat.  It really doesn't seem all that long ago when I rushed to the best part of my day, my time with your beautiful boys.

This is the view I remember...
I hope I can pass it on even half as well as you did.  Courage is a difficult & exhausting thing; congratulations on your determination & well-deserved harvest of seeds well-sown, as well as the wisdom to sit back & relish those precious moments when you're finally THERE.

*sorry I couldn't think of a genius title, so I just used the same word 27 times, go with it...

June 6, 2014

The Journey Of The Tragic Hero

VA HT May 2011 088 (Medium)
Quiet Moments
I apologize for the rather scattered nature of my last post, but hopefully you were sufficiently distracted by pictures of pus and PONY!

PROBLEM

I have been thinking a lot about this blog lately (among other things, my brain is a hamster on drugs, remember).  Because there is a conundrum.  Longtime readers know that my writing (ok, world) centers around Solo and his big little brother, eventing, horsemanship, and associated topics. 

As our Facebook page notes, it focuses on “being an adult amateur, putting your horse first, and fighting for your goals in a sport that has no mercy for the unprepared or faint of heart (or wallet).”  Aside from an occasional note about the unique challenges (and sometimes awesomeness) of my real job, my personal life is, well, personal.  For myself, the latter is neither relevant nor appropriate content re: my mission statement.

That being said, those of you who have been wonderful supporters along the way also know that my policy is 100% open honesty (pretty sure that’s redundant but my level of give-a-shit is low right now).  Result: conundrum.

SOLUTION?

But I think I have made a decision (reference said hamsters above while laughing about lack of decisiveness in statement of decision).  Although TFS (Team Flying Solo) is an entity I often reference, as is (now) FSF (Flying Solo Farm), the title of this blog remains “We Are Flying Solo:  The Journey Of A Horse & His Girl.”  Just like Solo’s name, there are many layers there, but our story IS about the journey.  And no journey (except maybe a really boring one) is complete or worthwhile without highs AND lows.

Notre_Dame_Academy
Go Pandas! They get to wear polos now?!
If perchance anyone who went to high school with me reads this post, they will giggle at the title along with me.  But it is also A Thing.  I had the same, phenomenal, AP English teacher both my sophomore & senior year of high school.

Mrs. Bricking was the kind of teacher who challenges you to constantly raise the bar, with the motive of opening the minds and eyes of 15-18 year-olds, who are sure they know everything, to a broader view of the world, and the powerful themes and tools that great literature provides.

Spiderman Fail
I totally just used Spiderman; but he fits
Which brings me to the title:  it was there I learned about this nearly ubiquitous tool of story-telling.  The “Tragic Hero” is the main character, usually the protagonist (read:  good guy/woman/thing), and we love her (gender pronoun chosen for simplicity).

She is rife with good qualities, but she always has a “Tragic Flaw,” an Achilles heel, which is required, otherwise you wouldn’t have a story!  It may be an unrequited love, a physical weakness, a negative personality trait, what have you.

As a result, she travels the worn path of the “Tragic Journey.”  Its outcome is uncertain, but there will always be a build-up, a “Tragic Fall” (yeah, everything is Tragic, LOL, goes back to the Greek Tragedies of Sophocles and his peers) to the nadir, the lowest point of the journey.  The Hero(ine) must then struggle to rise from this nadir in order to triumph (or not) in the end.  Think about your favourite movie or book plots – see it?

THAT’S NICE, BUT WHAT, SO YOU’RE A HEROINE NOW?

Hardly.  But that is how I arrived at my conclusion that there is a story that I have not yet written down which needs to be told, because it most certainly is not only a part, but both initiates and shapes OUR entire journey.

A few of you know the details, but I experienced my own nadir in a trauma like no other several years ago (not horse-related) and it continues to haunt my steps.  No doubt you have noticed a change in the blog and I can tell you that it is not, in large part, due to the purchase and move to the farm.  Rather, the reverse is the case, where Flying Solo Farm was born of the Tragic Fall in an attempt to salvage what pieces of the future remained.

Uwharrie Ride 3_10 004 resize
BFF & the amazing Texas Pete at Uwharrie NF
IT ALWAYS TAKES A TEAM

So I hope that you can be patient with me as the epileptic hamster tries to find his way back to the wheel in the dark.  Blindfolded.  On three legs.

I do count myself very lucky in having BFF and Erica, who have been unbelievably awesome help, along with THREE incredible neighbours, the wonderful network of Area II Adult Riders and the eventing community. 

They’ve got my six and I am also thankful every day to my mother, who helped make it possible for me to have the most wonderful scenery ever, including my two orange buddies, in which to negotiate the maze and find my way back to this woman.

Gallop (or walk, or just hug) on and don’t worry:  my ridiculous dorkiness and penchant for crazy adventures which never go according to plan remains intact, so you need not cry yourself to sleep that your life shall be unfulfilled without the TFS posts (haha).  Writing is wonderfully cathartic and I hope to continue to share posts with you and of course am reading all of yours!  

And I am still determined as ever to get my amazing Encore (daily thanks too, CANTER MA!) to a T3DE, it’s just going to take a little longer than planned (oh wait, it was a horse plan, that’s a given).

Evening therapy sessions by the pond
One very tired Eventer79 --

Out.