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We Are Flying Solo

Showing posts with label logo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label logo. Show all posts

March 26, 2014

Carolina International: Ups And Downs And Ups

Preface:  Frizz totally called me a name-dropper (shudder, my nightmare, I swear upon the FSM this is never my intention!), so I wanted to post my clarification (don't worry, most people find my babbling unclear) from the comments about the previous post (with new, added babbling, naturally!).

BFF, Erica, ACME, Jen-S...and some dork
What I do want to share is that there are so unbelievably many wonderful people in eventing world and by volunteering, you get to spend time with them and learn from them (dressage judges, course designers, technical delegates, ground jury members, organizers, secretaries). My effort is to raise awareness that even us smurfies DO matter and ARE appreciated to these people, and to encourage others to step in and discover that it's not just "working" but an unparalleled learning opportunity.  Eventing is so much more than horses and riders -- as I told BFF, I started participating because of XC (duh).  But I stayed for the people.

The photo above is at the XC fence that was sponsored by the eventing forum over on COTH.  This effort was coordinated by the amazing ACME, who I FINALLY got to meet after several years of just missing each other (she lives a mile from the Horse Park; yes, we all collectively kind of hate her, only you can't really because she's so cool).  Check out the great article COTH was nice enough to put together!  Moving along.  Pat the Volunteer Coordinator Queen gave us a great fence complex and the perfect schedule (THANK YOU!).  Since we only judged the 2* and 3*, we had a chance to explore a bit and then settle in during the morning's 1* runs.  When it was time for the blue jumps (3*), just after lunch, the roller coaster of cheering and worrying began.    

You can see the path of hoofprints hugging the curve
BFF was assigned to fence 17 and thanks to the announcer, we learned that a Muckle Brush is a Scottish term for a "large hedge."  Funny, I would have translated it as "terrifying gap in brush barely wide enough for my horse with a huge, face-eating tree in the way."  But that's just me.  Here, it's viewed from your approach line: up a small rise and then it drops slightly on landing as well.  With the added fun of the large 2* bounce immediately next door, part of the ABC combo we judged later, so I'd say that Mr. Designer was going for an accuracy question here.

Erica and I manned the complex at 18AB.  Meh, what's two skinny jumps? you ask.  Well, as your horse's front feet touch the ground behind 17, you have approximately one stride to make an impossibly-short-looking rollback and take three to four strides to the brushed corner at A.  Although, if you are Caroline Martin, you will use some kind of elfin magic to line up all three jumps at the perfect angle so there is not even a hint of TURN TURN TURN NOW!!!

I'll be honest, I expected carnage and nervously parked my chair next to BFF, as close as I could get to the face of 17 without putting myself in the "trample zone" if a horse ran out.  I have mad first aid skillz due to years of work training, but I'd rather not ever deploy them.  From there, I was also next to 18A and the FEI TD requested Erica directly opposite me between the complex elements so we could have a clear view of both flags.

Just maybe, I hoped, this will be one of those jumps with zero room for steering error that everyone will just ride excruciatingly carefully so I don't have to scrape anyone's eyeballs off of pine bark, as can happen, ahem, BFF

Up:  I was right.  With the exception of one rider burying her horse at the base (he saved it for her anyway), it rode like clockwork all day and rather unbelievably, we didn't have a single runout all day through the whole complex.

Mensa & Michael just three strides before 17
Down:  As Michael Pollard came through with Mensa, I was so excited to see this incredible horse in the flesh.  After sailing effortlessly over 17, they both made the turn was then I watched a display of great heart.  Mensa failed to read the jump at 18 quickly enough, but had such momentum, he had a split-second of indecision at the base of 18A.  Instead of spinning into a wicked runout or just saying no, this little bay gave an incredible effort to do his job for Michael.

However, by then, his chest was too close to the upper log and instead of successfully jumping, he caught his left foreleg on the flag and his chest slid through the brush (the essential element that gave the fence the forgiveness that no doubt prevented a far worse outcome) sideways, dragging his hind end with it.  Unable to stop the force of half a horse's worth of muscle and trajectory behind him, Mensa landed with his shoulder on half of Michael (Do. Not. Like. Rider-Smooshing at my jump!).  Somewhat miraculously, I was barely to the fence as both popped to their feet, Mensa to gallop back to the horses gathered at the vet box behind us, and poor Michael to stagger out of the line of fire, despite my desperate attempt to convince him to catch his breath for a minute.

Michael & Halimey rock the 2* 16AB, looking for C
Up:  Medical was, somehow!, already there and gathered up a rather grass-stained Pollard for in-barn inspection.  Mensa was quickly snagged by a groom and both appeared to have escaped injury.  Which made it that much greater when, shortly thereafter, Mango (Ballingowan Pizzaz) and Michael hopped effortlessly through the same line and kicked its ass for 3rd place, followed by placing 2nd in the 2* with Halimey AND the Open Intermediate with Kyra.  And if you didn't already love Pollard Eventing enough, Michael was the first to hit the dance floor that evening at the competitor's party with his toddler daughter and her flashy-light sneakers.  Awesomesauce.

Down:  Becky Holder and Teddy (Can't Fire Me) looked fantastic and jumped around clean, but Teddy's opinion that show jumping poles are completely unimpressive meant that two pulled rails the day before kept them out of the top ten.

Nobie & Busta visit Stonehenge in the 1*
Up:  Becky Holder and Teddy (Can't Fire Me) looked fantastic and jumped around clean!!  She also placed 7th in the 2* with a double clear course aboard Frodo of the Shire.  And I got to talk briefly with Nobie Cannon, one of her students who got to be amused by my silent Becky Stalking last spring (doubtlessly why she remembered me, LOL), before she and a seriously grown up Bust A Groove tore out of the start box and jumped a clear round.  A more sincere and generous group of women is hard to come by.

Down:  I was also rooting for Nobie's compatriot Sarah Beth Anton and Blitz Volo (also in 1*).  Sadly, she got dumped in the water, as did Leslie Law on the fantastically named Fernhill Whatever, against whom Encore and I competed in his brief lower level years.  Happily though, all parties were unharmed aside from the discomfort of wet panties.

Wundermaske is WunderWOW with Sharon White
Up:  I got to laugh hysterically when the announcer noted that Nobie had left her saddle in the vet box.  Sorry, Nobie, I laugh lovingly -- I would TOTALLY walk off, oblivious that I was missing a huge and obvious piece of my tack, so you are not alone.  I also got an wonderful and unexpected surprise in the appearance of Pat (a different one, ha), one of my favourite co-workers from Waredaca 3DE and owner of the gorgeous A Bit Better Farm just down the road from Waredaca in MD, whose daughter, Kelley Williams, a lovely and gracious pro rider, I FINALLY got to meet after years of stories, as well as another unexpected dear friend and her family who live in SoPines, as her husband is often event farrier (this time with his brother) at CHP (if you see him at future events, always tell Adrian thank you, he is excellent, one of the nicest people ever, and so kind to the horses).

Down:  Since I couldn't stay for Sunday, I missed seeing both friends and horses who participated in the Horse Trials.  Damn you, life responsibilities.

Up:  I did get to see Grace Fulton, whom, along with her dad, Steve, and her sister, Savannah, I've cheered for repeatedly at the Waredaca T3DE, as she completed this weekend's 1* aboard Sharon White's Wild Orange.  This horse is a stunning mover in the dressage arena and Gracie is a beautiful rider.  I feel a bit like I've watched, at least in part, the girls grow up!

Colleen Rutledge & Shiraz have room to spare
Down:  When Buck Davidson came through on his last 3* ride of the day, Petit Flower, I could see as soon as he landed after 17, he was riding tired.  They didn't quiiiiiiite make the turn and the mare attempted the jump, but hit the left corner and slid off, taking the flag down with her.  I lost sight of both and was sure Buck had fallen off in the flailing, but they reappeared in proper vertical order.  A then-limber (get well soon!) and very dapper Boyd Martin, who was walking several students around, sprang in and replaced the flag (hey, that's on him, a jump judge should never step in, barring a safety hazard, until the jump is cleared) as Buck and Flower made a tight circle.

Up:  The pair cleared the jump and finished the course with only a small scrape to the horse from the log encounter and Buck nabbed an impressive 2nd place with his equally impressive veteran partner, Reggie (Ballynoecastle RM).

TFS + COTH.  Yeah, I did, dorkiness has no shame.
Down:  This picture-perfect, sunny day at 74 degrees and a light breeze, strewn with amazing equine athletes at all levels, did not last forever.  And Jimmy Wofford went home immediately after the evening pep talk, so I did NOT get to fangirl his signature into my book.  And somehow, I was under the impression that team members were going to speak at the dinner, dangit, how did I get that wrong?  Nonetheless, a massive thanks is due to Karen Stives, who used to live in SoPines and who was a title sponsor of this event, an incredibly generous act (among many!).

Up:  I got to spend this picture-perfect, sunny day at 74 degrees and a light breeze, strewn with amazing equine athletes at all levels, with two great friends.  It was a MUCH-needed therapy indeed and a very special day in my stress-packed life.  Despite times when I feared my head might explode from sensory over-stimulation of exciting things in all directions, I am so glad I signed up and got to be a tiny part of this event on its birthday, which was wildly successful.  No matter how late we get home, there is no way to put a price on that.
The pros at work

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.


December 6, 2013

Want The Most Amazing T-Shirt Of All Time?

Well then, as always, my dear friends, I am here for you.

But like everything here at TFS, we can never do it alone.

This project probably started several years ago, floating around in my very strange head associated with good intentions, but it never bumped into the two necessary reagents to complete its synthesis (wow, bad organic chemistry flashback):  time and motivation.

I wandered deeper into the magical forests of Bloggerland and met new people with new ideas and as our ideas began to co-mingle, opportunity came knocking.

Is your heart pounding in your chest with suspense?  Have you caught your breath waiting for the curtain to open?  (If not, well, you need to go look up some LOLcats or something, you are taking life far too seriously.)

Without further ado, then, I bring you....

Yeah.  If you steal it, I find you in your sleep.  Just sayin'.
Yes, it IS an Official Logo, designed cooperatively with the most amazing, patient, creative, thoughtful, and professional Kate at  You may know her better from her musings on her adorable mare and her gorgeous, hand-painted saddle pads featured on The Adventures of Lucy blog (yes, apparently she does sculpture as well, there appears to be no end to her talent).

Now I fully admit to being an OCD art snob, and as previously mentioned, I had a very definite vision.  This is most likely the definition of the designer's worst nightmare.   I had watched Kate's artwork for a while and there was an undercurrent of true talent that caught my eye (if you have not checked out her sketchbook, GO THERE).  I saw a distinct identity, but I also saw the ability to explore different media and stylistic modes and do it well, which is rare, so I decided to entrust her with my brainchild (probably much to her later chagrin). 

It gets better.  Since I was recently contacted by Beck Jordan from Allied Shirts (a sister brand to Build-A-Sign, who printed my license plate and bumper stickers, and Printcopia, who...well, now's their chance!) with an offer to print a shirt with the graphics of my choice for online review.  So, with a frantic email to Kate (who had already been working with me on the logo) after finding out I had eight days to pull together my dilly-dally-ing and order, we channeled our collective energies and out came this!

Ummm, yeah, in my own totally valid humble opinion, it turned out amazing.  Allied had offered us a shirt from their basic line, which is printed on Gildan shirts (there are endless options, including Hanes Beefy-T's and girly little things by American Apparel).  To be honest, I expected one of those super-thin, square, shapeless things you get from cheap printing companies, you know the ones I mean! 

Supposed to be one-sided; they let me add a back tribute for Kate!
I did not realize I knew the brand until I got the shirt and saw the tag -- we have used the same brand for our field t-shirts for the state agency I work for.  Well, I can tell you, I have hiked, snorkeled (which includes dragging myself across rocks and sand on the river bottom), sweated, and rolled in those shirts; they can take some abuse.  I usually end up (a) getting outboard grease all over it, (b) staining it a remarkable shade of blotchy brown from ground in mud and rock slime, or (c) sweating in it so much it assumes its own form (hey, NC summers are even hot underwater), all well before the shirt has any structural failures!  Ours are usually grey with a black logo, but they don't fade or shrink when washed either.  Point:  this ain't a wussy shirt.    

An even awesomer surprise (and I mean this in a nice way, you never know what you are going to get online) was the quality of the printing.  The colours were perfect and saturated and the Solo-orange even has a tiny bit of a metallic bronze or something to it, really making it pop.  I don't even want to wear it because I don't want it to get dirty...

As of today, I have not had a chance to wash it.  I did try it on, I had ordered a small since the sizes were listed as "unisex," which us ladies know usually means "square man-sized" and I have plenty of experience with that due to work uniform orders!  It fit perfectly. 

So while I can't tell you yet how it will fare with use, I can tell you -- that plate and sticker mentioned above? -- one is on the front of my truck, the other on the back of my trailer.  They sit outside all year around and travel to multiple states.  I wash the truck maybe 4-5 times per year (not counting rain) and the trailer...never.  Both, I just observed last week, are pretty much perfect after two years of neglectWe won't discuss the bumper it's mounted under...  The black graphics on the plate have faded just a little, but in Carolina UV/heat, I'm not sure that's avoidable!  My hope is that this printing will live up to that precedent! 

Yes, yes, I will be riding around with my horse's name plastered on everything I own.  Your point?

I have to give HUGE props to Kate for putting up with my 10 million tweaks, my nit-picky questions, and my completely unpredictable schedule followed by 'OMG WE HAVE EIGHT DAYS, GO!'  She made it happen, even when we had file-type conflicts and, errr, operator error.

And THANK YOU to Allied Shirts, for doing such a great job printing our design (fast, it was in my hands in days) and letting me say thanks to a designer who went wayyyy above and beyond!  Go try it out for yourself!  I am now pondering going forward with a related project which would create goodies for you, lucky readers... 

Most of all, thank you Kate, for capturing and bringing to life my vision of a unique way to honour my very special buddy and also, to represent our future adventures at...