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We Are Flying Solo

Showing posts with label quotes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label quotes. Show all posts

April 24, 2016

We're Still Here, Still Crazy

My intentions to update you remain overwhelmed by assignments, but I couldn't leave a gaping hole for guesses, so I shall at least attempt The Bullet Approach:

  • To each person who has shared & those who continue to share support, kindness, laughter, & even just saying hi – THANK YOU, YOU ARE AWESOME. 
  • I apologize for any impressions that I may be sitting in a hole of self-pity, (ok, I'm human, I totally own that there was some egregious despair) however life stepped in & ripped the cover off the hole in short order. 
    • Field research season opened for roaring business at work, leaving little time for whimpering. 
    • See splashy horse (unless on a mobile)
    • It's also nearly the first weekend in May, which means – click the countdown to Heart of the Carolinas 3DE in the left sidebar to visit event central...GO LOOK AT ALL THE PRETTY THINGS, THEY TAKE A LONG TIME TO MAKE! ;P  There's more on the way, thanks to great sponsors & my fantastic Sponsorship Assistant:  Erica, you rock
  • Encore & I are picking away at this whole rehab thing.   I'm not sure where we are right now, but today was sunny, 70F, with a light breeze, & we walked through a green forest of birdsong: vireos, warblers, wrens, thrashers, gnatcatchers, woodpeckers, even the wild turkeys.

    Each note landed gently on my heart, seeming to say that the Moment is here, the Moment is now, & this Moment has much good.  That is a melody I embrace.  There has been more than enough darkness, today I unquestioningly cherish the sun.
  • Back on a lighter note: HOTC 2016!  There will be some seriously amazing new elements this year.  You will still be able to follow the live media feeds on Twits & InstaThingies (you know you have it in your diary: “Be entertained by eventer79's ridiculous sleep-deprived commentary.”) & I'll share more very soon. 
    • Hints: listen in when Sally O'Connor joins us – yes, THAT Sally – and meet both new & familiar equine crafts(wo)men. 
    • On top of the Mother's Day craft contest (eventers + beer + glitter markers = no-lose possibility), annual Southern Eighths KY Derby party, the return of our flying volunteer veterans, & did I mention a collection of mind-blowing prizes??? 
  • Solo sends his shiniest magic to all of you, although he is still working on transferring an unfathomable amount of dull winter fur into every single one of my pores.  Note to self: do not open mouth while brushing horse on windy spring days.  Or eyes. 
So for now -

When your eyes are tired 
the world is tired also... 
The dark will be your home tonight. 

The night will give you a horizon 
further than you can see. 

Iris woke up today!
You must learn one thing. The world was made to be free in... 

Sometimes it takes darkness & the sweet 
confinement of your aloneness 
to learn 

anything or anyone 
that does not bring you alive 

is too small for you.

 -excerpt from Sweet Darkness, poem by David Whyte, thanks for the discovery to Calm Things

February 7, 2016

Allow Your Horse To Believe In You

The concept of "belief" can at first sound nebulous, but in our riding, it directly translates to the essentials of trust and confidence.  In ourselves, in our partners, and theirs in us.

I've been picking away at a captivating book -- that speaks my language:  "The Natural Rider:  A Right-Brain Approach To Riding," by dressage and biomechanics author, Mary Wanless.  There is a long list of insights to discuss already & I'm only halfway through!

But one that continues to jump (pun not intended!) out at me speaks to both the foundation & the everyday process of training & schooling.  This is what we must carry with us in order to succeed in defying gravity in all its forms:

Yes, Solo once had a (exceedingly strong-willed) mane!  There are many layers of warm fuzzies in this blast from the past...June 2007, our clinic with Ian Stark (collected reports here) which took us to a brave new world. 

February 2, 2016

Of Tales And Trails

Do you think our stories break when we do?  Or do they just get so tangled up that we can't find a view of the road?

I'm still struggling to figure it out - or at least looking for some high ground that might offer a bit of perspective.  Who knew the search would be measured in years??  But the tangle, the fog, whatever it is that swallowed the map is the same thing that has dragged at my efforts to write to you.

This blog is a journey, just as much as the tales it chronicles.  I guess it shouldn't be shocking that a journey involving horses has sinkholes, detours, & inexplicable roadblocks!  Nonetheless, I apologize for my stutters, fits, & gaps of silence (although more than one person that knows me might say that last is a blessing, ha).

I'm working hard on the search for impulsion, though.  Half-steps are hard for horses & people (dressage joke FTW)!  I do feel like there's been some improvement in muscling!

Encore approves
Stepping Out

Encore & I did get to indulge in some desperately-needed trail therapy on Sunday.  Sun & warmth & wait, was that a bud on that tree?

Riding has been a wee bit challenging for everyone this winter, so our rehab pretty much matches my posting attempts:  sporadically possible, with moderate chance of fail.  But there be muscles on the horse too!

We've combined hill-walking, W/T transitions with roundness, some collected walk with lots of topline stretching, & occasional bursts of weather-permitted trot sessions.  While we're hardly ring-ready, Encore's been pushing evenly behind (one of my big indicators) & happily loped over some 18" obstacles.

Getting back in the woods was a wonderful treat - many thanks to lovely neighbour Vanessa for  pony daycare, as poor Solo can't keep up with giant TB strides for two hours anymore.

And my gratitude to you for all the forms of support & patience, no matter how small:  they always means so very much!

Deep breath then, & we shall attempt another step.

I'll never tire of my sky!
I have heard that voice many a time when asleep
and, what is strange, I understood more or less
an order or an appeal in an unearthly tongue:

day draws near
another one
do what you can. 

-Czeslaw Milosz

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, .

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

February 23, 2013

Balancing The Classical With The Practical

Such are the words from Camp David.

Encore and I were able to sneak in two excellent lessons before the snowstorm hit, although I did most of my jumping with snowflakes in my eyes, gah!  Friday evening, we allowed David to torture us in Death Circles on the flat, and Saturday, we attempted to brush the rust off my jumping skills.  Rebuilding of my left leg is DEFINITELY not complete, ugh.

Two things emerged as themes, though, as we worked through unlocking all the parts of Encore and reminding my battered body that it is NOT supposed to be on my horse's neck (who knew?).

(1) It was with great enthusiasm that David pronounced Encore worlds sounder than he was last year.  This news was received with equal enthusiasm, as the amount of money, energy, and time we have spent with Dr. Bob and his crew is not small.  Every bit is worth it though when I ride his left lead and he feel like one horse instead of two ends of a horse suit loosely tied in the middle, doing their own thing.  While I expressed that I wasn't sure if this was a compliment, David assured me that there is a difference between unsound and lame -- lame is limping, unsound is just...not right in the body.  I certainly can't disagree that between his back and his injury in 2012, Encore needed "rightening."

Last year:  a better haircut and less fat, but greener
(2) Traditional wisdom and training dictates that we ride our horse forward forward FORWARD into a steady, receiving contact and simply (simply....HAHAHAHAHHAHAHA) wait for him to offer the roundness we seek as he becomes supple through lateral exercises and transitions.  However, almost immediately on Friday, David had me slow my horse down and work his neck and poll in flexions and bending while moving off the inside leg.  My favourite instruction was, "Flex his poll to the outside while keeping his neck bent to the inside and his body bent around your inside leg."  Ooga booga, is that even possible and how the heck does one do that?  Apparently I did something correct by thinking about it, because he said, "GOOD!"

Our goal was to get him super round, even if he got slightly behind the vertical in front, and then let him carry the bit forwards and down.  When we did, I IMMEDIATELY felt his whole topline unlock and become soft and delicious.

This left me confused, though; this would seem to contradict the FORWARD and waiting thing.  One of the greatest things about David is that you can talk to him, so I asked him about this on Saturday.  His explanation:

Training is not black and white, it is all shades of grey (oh, goody, just like life).  With this horse, because he has a tendency to go tight in his topline and he stays locked in his poll and jaw, he has overdeveloped the muscle at his poll.  This in turn makes it even harder.  Were we to just run him along off his feet, he would spend most of the time working incorrectly.  We have to unlock these spots and supple him first and then ride him forward over his back.   

This makes sense to me.  In January and early February, I had been riding him simply forward in lateral work.  While we could eventually achieve some softening, there was a lot of back and forth, fighting, and a lot of time spent impersonating tense llamas.  Every step doing that is definitely not producing good results.

Using David's process, the difference was dramatic (although much harder work, so I guess it must be right).  It also meant I had a softer horse the second I got on Saturday morning, which caught me by surprise.  He continued to emphasize riding what was underneath me in the moment and keeping the focus there, creating the feel, instead of wasting time hoping for a horse that may or may not appear in the future.  This is why I keep stalking David around the region -- his tailored approach to the horse in front of him brings out the best in my partners, the way a generic program never would.  Drawing lines in the sand never gets us anywhere but frustrated when it comes to training horses. 

August 18, 2012

Make Your Horse Kinetic

Encore had an excellent lesson with our beloved David O. this morning and I am busy downloading and uploading and sideloading our videos!  Thank you to the most awesome Sue for not only organizing the lesson series, but letting Encore and I come up and have a mini-vacation at her beautiful farm.  We hit the galloping lanes on Friday to take the edge off, explored the XC fields, and then got to leap (sometimes more enthusiastically then others) over her lovely show jumps.

I can't wait any longer, though, to post a remarkable summary of horse training that David gave during one of Sue's lessons (the woman has THREE horses going right now, I have to nap just thinking about it).  Meditate upon it and make it your zen:

Forward is not fast.
Forward is creating the energy.
Collection is harnessing the energy.
Extension is releasing the energy.