SUBSCRIBE TODAY Smiley face  Get updates via email! 

We Are Flying Solo

Showing posts with label show. Show all posts
Showing posts with label show. Show all posts

May 6, 2016

Dressage, Delights, & Drop Fences, Oh My: The 3-Day Photo-ganza!

Sally relaxes to review XC courses
But first, a giant THANKS to the over 400 folks who tuned into to the colourful & educational (a true 2-in-1 package!) dressage commentary from eventing royalty, Sally O'Connor, during all three (Training, Novice, & Beginner Novice) 3DE division tests today!!!  I know it was a treat for me to be able to watch from the stabling office while I attempted tests of how many tabs one can add to a spreadsheet before it collapses.  :D

And no worries if you missed it or are itching to see Sally's review of your ride.  Just like the Judge-A-Test Demo on Thursday, a recorded version will be posted as soon as it's processed.  And the channel will keep rolling tomorrow as our first T3DE horse steps out on Phase A at 9:00 AM EST.  You can also find a link straight from USEA (THANKS!!!!) along with the latest press here.

You've no doubt noticed my attempts at keeping up in our Instagram widget at the top of the homepage, but phenomenal helper, Erica, has been keeping our live Twitter coverage rolling.  Follow the action here. 

You can always hit the left sidebar HOTC logo anytime to access our list of awesome sponsors, event schedule, hotc3day social media channels, article links, live scores & much much more!

That's about all the words left in me at this point, as I'll be stuffing my pockets with radios early tomorrow morning, resuming my annual post as Radio Control for Phases A, B, & C for Endurance Day.  Phase D (the cross-country jumping course itself) will remain in the expert hands of JJ Johnson, Radio Goddess (you can find all our staff, clinician, & official bios in the program here).

So....hey look, shiny pictures!!  (Much more to come, including "I get to meet Nicole, aka Eventing at Midnight, who's joined us as a volunteer/prize helper from VA this weekend!!" & life is revived after I got my Becky Holder hug, snif...)

Prizes:  Beka of The Owls Approve strikes gold again, making mroe perfect bracelets!

Kim & Accolade offer a Training leg yield for clinician critique

Judges Wayne Quarles (headset) & Peter Gray talk through Kim's test with tips for watching riders

I walked the T3DE course with head clinician, Carol Kozlowski (blue, right), while CD Tremaine Cooper, started the N3DE group (white polo, left)

New carvings from chainsaw artist & epic person, Randy Boni, decorate the T log into the Riding Warehouse water complex, ready for action!
Sponsor coordinator represents, thanks to Julie @ RW for the hat & Beka's darling charms for my boys from 2015, all with our fantastic cover shot by Brant Gamma Photography
Priceless prizes:  signed books filled with timeless horsemanship wisdom from God Jim Wofford...

...Doug Payne's brilliantly organized Repair Manual...

...and Sally herself donated a note, charming beyond measure!
Dressage bridles, valued at $250, from our announcer, Charles Pinnell, who also represents Schneider's Saddlery

February 27, 2016

A Singularly Solo (S)Celebration

Can it really have been 10 years??  As I broke Solo's favourite candy canes into his 20th birthday breakfast last Sunday, I couldn't quite believe in a DECADE.

A DECADE - that's encompassed what feels like several lifetimes.  Maybe that's why I fantasize about naps, ha.  While our official 10-year anniversary isn't until Memorial Day weekend, I can't help but feel like we've checked a major milestone.
Beginnings: our trot in Aug 2006
LITERALLY our first jump together (& awesome critique here)
2009: My 30th, his 13th
I don't know Solo's actual birthday.  All I had was the Coggins in the envelope with the bill of sale, taken in January of 2006, describing a 9-yr-old gelding.

When I met him that May, he was advertised as 10, so I decided to give him my own birthday, sitting neatly in the middle & a date I might even remember.
June '07: Ian Stark shows me what my horse can really do!
Given the electric phenomenon of our initial encounter, I suppose I should have known that unimaginable adventures lay ahead of us.  But, well, I was an exuberant 27...and they were unimaginable!
May '07: 1st show (I still thought we were hunters, LOL)
Solo may have been the first horse who was ever my own, but I have had the privilege (some more pleasant than others...) of working with countless others, as far back as my memory can reach.
June '07: That Stark guy suggests he might have some jump (my eyes are closed in terror)
Yet, he remains astonishingly unique, truly his own sphere of being, capable of becoming what BFF once accurately described as "a force of nature," ALWAYS on his own terms.
Solo discovers his calling when Ian takes us XC that summer
But his kindness & fiercely loyal generosity have more than once moved me beyond words.
June '08: Our first XC at BN Foxtrack, making it up as we go
The greatest gift of my life, that chestnut face is also the sole remaining bridge to the person I was & the person I loved before the loss whose story is still trapped inside.
Fall '10:  We've found our stride...literally. Photo purchased from Brant Gamma.

Spring '10: The joy of flight. By Pics of You.
Many of you know I'm a painfully practical biologist, not prone to anthropomorphize.

However, I also know that "different" is not the same as "lesser;" I have seen animals defy our limitations too many times.

And Solo's ability to look into my core, to lend me his strength, his joie de vivre, to become so intently still when things fall apart & promise me, on a level of communication I can't explain, that he will wait with me & it will be ok...that horse continues to save my life.

It's a worn-out cliché, but a truth nonetheless.

May '07: Our first blues
So, my notoriously shiny, larger-than-life, impossibly endearing, hopelessly optimistic, greatest partner, everything I have & am is yours.

You taught me that trust opens up the sky for soaring, that being patient & fair is often more important than being right.
Apr '10: Owning Novice Longleaf HT. Photo by Pics of You.
You never let your body get in the way of your enormous heart, you gave...simply because I asked.  Even when you shouldn't have.
SJ at 2010 Longleaf HT: Poetic partnership.  By Pics of You.
Oct '10: Steeplechase w Becky Holder
We're both older, each with some busted-up cartilage, joints that predict the weather, & a longing to burst out of that start box together once more.

I can at least give you wide pastures & good friends, for which I'm so grateful.
May '11: Training Level sexy
And we can pause together in the loblolly's shade, watch the heron stalk unwary fish, & relive a thousand memories in every touch.  And if we're lucky, share many more new ones.

From a 2010 indulgence of my inner 12-yr-old, an illustration

Song by Templeton Thompson, a very talented & kind singer/songwriter/horsewoman I had the pleasure of meeting at an Equine Affaire in Raleigh.

September 19, 2015

Five Points Of Fantastic

Because adorable. From Reddit
Better late than never?  But after our own exciting jumping achievement this morning (sometimes small, uneventful jumps are a really big deal!), I can finally get around to posting -

My Five Favourite Points Of Five Points HT (say it five times faster)

Because there really was a lot of fabulous outside of the unfortunate.  In no particular order, as awesomeness levels are equivalent:

  1. Watching the best at their best.  The demonstration of adjustability & incredible skill to package your horse beneath you without losing that critical forward impulsion & power, well, it was not only stunning, but consistent.
    • Subtle yet huge:  we all get our wrists slapped, no matter the discipline, for riding backwards.  I was thrilled to see lines & horses moving FORWARD FORWARD FORWARD, even as shapes & strides changed.
    Dan: "Meh." From
  2. Kim Severson.  O.M.G.  I want to ride like that.  A young me knew I was watching something special every time she & Dan (legend Winsome Andante, above) thundered by us to win Rolex THREE times (in between Olympic medals, ha), but add 15 years of educating my eye...
    • Every time she came through, it was like watching the flow of silk.  At a whole new pinnacle of her game, Kim's quiet body would offer just a breath of a suggestion through a soft shift of one hand.  I had goosebumps watching a near-telepathic invitation to the horse that connected delicacy to power, as if saying, "Lovely creature, the next jump is just there, well done." 
  3. Being part of the community.  Every time I volunteer, in any capacity, there's always this unique feeling, the knowledge that you are helping to create something bigger than yourself.  And it's a community of sharing, teaching, helping, learning...yes, you can start singing "kummm-by-yaaaa" now, ha!
  4. Seeing old friends, making new ones.  So many wonderful connections built up over the years & events are often the only chance I get to enjoy them in person!  And I don't think I've ever walked away without meeting a new one.  And hopefully not weirding them out too much in the process, heh.  Whether it's been a month or a year, the smiles, support, & stories never seem to wane.  
      • It's just a bonus to get to share the experience with BFF, who has a fabulous eye & eats up the epicness as fast as I do!
      I feel like I recognize that...
    1. Inspiration to work on my own horse.  We all get stuck.  Spending a day watching 150 mini-lessons 15' in front of me sends me home with a flurry of tips & ideas I can't wait to try.  It seems to remind my subconscious that, oh yeah, we used to do this fantastic thing, how about we get back to that??
    What about you?  Have you had the privilege to get free riding lessons from 10 pros at once volunteer recently?  What was your favourite??

    September 6, 2015

    The Day After: Shock & Awe

    Making Advanced 17A look easy
    Saturday was packed full of things both wonderful &, er, somewhat less so.

    Warning: many words follow, take your pee break now!! 

    *Photos can be clicked to embiggen. No, I have not mastered the 'selfie' & don't know why I appear compelled to hold phone 20' in the air*

    Definitely not boring, a beautiful day for Preliminary/Intermediate/Advanced Cross-Country at Five Points Horse Trials, but I would've been ok with "slightly less eventful."  (pun not intended)

    I'm going to bet that quite a few folks would agree on the latter!

    TD Bobby Stevenson briefs us
    Volunteering is ALWAYS educational.  I encourage everyone to never miss an opportunity to watch, listen & learn from a unique type of immersion you won't find anywhere else!  When 150 riders attempt to answer the same jumping question(s) right in front of you, it's an invaluable way to see what works & what doesn't.

    Although we always hope the "doesn't work" part is a simple run-out or refusal.

    What Happened?!

    Horses insist on being horses though, & no matter where, how well-prepared, well-designed, or even what discipline, for lack of a more concise summation, "shit happens."

    If you were following online through our feed or Event Entries great scoring service, you already know that BFF & I had a busy morning jump judging at I fences 17 & 18A/B, a challenging accuracy & planning question on the Intermediate course: 

    I intend a follow-up post including the many fantastic rides we saw & a breakdown of our fences for each level.  So I'm not going to delve into much detail here, but I want to share some of the parts that unfailingly remind me why I love eventing:  the people.

    Gratitude Due

    They need this shirt!!
    THANK YOU - to the medical team.  Nothing personal, but I generally dislike meeting you, especially so many of you, because that means gravity was not very nice to someone.

    However, (& I'm still sleuthing out the department to name) all of you were calmly expedient, compassionate, on your A-game, & took over rider care like a well-oiled machine.  I know first-hand that when you're the person on the ground, hearing kindness & confidence from your caregivers means everything.

    JJ, why do I always look rabid?
    THANK YOU - JJ, I can't say it enough.  I know some of you out there have been lucky enough to work with radio control queen, JJ Johnson, as well, so you can corroborate that there is NO ONE you'd rather have on the headset when there may be 4-5 horses on course at 2-minute start intervals.

    (Dutton, give me time to write down the previous rider's number before attempting to lap them!  Kidding - but whatever is in that man's cereal, I obviously need some!)

    JJ is not only on the ball as Incident Commander, but she is a true master cat herder.  From sitting next to her, learning that side of the mike while working Endurance Day control at So8ths 3DE, I can promise you that it is no easy task keeping track of horses, questions, & runners over a network of volunteers ranging from veteran to "wait, so the horse has to go BETWEEN the flags?"

    With 3-5 channels in front of her, JJ still keeps everyone safe, connects officials to volunteers to EMTs to scorers, every time.  And she can even do it with a smile.  Amazing isn't a big enough word.

    Miriam hooks us up!
    THANK YOU - to Miriam, wonderful volunteer coordinator.  That's one of, if not THE hardest jobs of all.  This was the first time I've met her, but positive energy, lots of helpful information beforehand, & plenty of delicious lunches & snacks (frozen chocolate bars, omg, I think I love you!!) -- it's what keeps that priceless commodity, our volunteer corps, coming back!

    THANK YOU - of course, to all my fellow volunteers!!  It may not feel very glamourous to handle traffic crossings or write down rows of zeros (but we do love zeros) all day, but not a single event would exist without you.

    CD Marc Donovan: "Don't wrinkle the shirt!"
    It's cliche but true!  You don't even have to be a horse person, you don't have to have any experience.  If you can read & write & push buttons & have polite human interactions, you're 100% qualified.  And did I mention my chicken salad was amazing, THANK YOU, whoever was lunch lady!!

    THANK YOU - to our favourite course builder (we can't help it, he's hilarious AND mad talented), Tyson Rementer, and his crew, always on hand for spares & repairs.

    I'm convinced that Tyson shares the ability to teleport with Boyd Martin, who I swear materialized out of thin air when our first rider fell (Seriously, it's uncanny how many times Boyd is present when things diverge from the plan!  But THANK YOU, too, for never hesistating to jump in & help!).

    I walk our Advanced line in possibly the most boring video ever:

    I know I'm hyperfocused both when I ride & judge XC, but as I hit the ground next to the rider to keep her still & talking (screaming's ok too, you can't scream without breathing, just stay with me & scream in a manner that lets me know you're not going to pass out, that's better for both of us) until Medical arrived, all of a sudden, a very familiar Aussie voice chimed in right next to my ear:  "Just be still, they'll be here right away, you'll be okay."

    Speak of the devil: Boyd & Welcome Shadow own it
    As I help EMT's figure out how to get her on the board without aggravating a hellaciously painful hip too much, there's Tyson too -- I'm telling you:  teleportation superpowers.

    There are, of course, MANY more, but I won't wear out your scroll button.

    And How Are Our Riders?

    Of the three falls at our I fence (A & P were nicely uneventful), Tiffini at 18B popped up quickly & her horse galloped back to stabling in fine form, so both appeared luckily none the worse for wear.
    Happy photos: Doug Payne & Vandiver (5th, A) land with eyes on target
    The other two did have the painful misfortune of their horse landing all or partly on top of them, but neither horse rotated & both horses hopped up sound & alert.  Both have my heartfelt empathy for also having the nasty luck of landing on their hips, which frankly, hurts beyond the ability of the best cursing.

    And I'm so sorry I had to make you lay on what hurt you most until Medical arrived, I was hurting right along with you, but no spinal injuries on my watch if I can help it!
    Photos AND horses need compression; Doug gets it done!
    As I shared in a brief update for Eventing Nation, just because all of us as fellow riders worry for our brothers & sisters, both Dana & Sara were talking to me & the EMTs & the lovely foam in their vests & helmets did its job perfectly.

    They left in excellent hands to get the good drugs & a thorough check alongside some hopefully peripheral repairs.  Hopefully both, along with Will Faudree, who suffered a solid whack at the fence after ours, will be on the mend quickly!!
    And Vandiver jumps out of the Advanced line, textbook
    And because I've been there, especially to Sara, who began asking me for details in the ambulance:  adrenaline makes us blank out for a reason.  To this day, I cannot remember what happened between the saddle & the ground on my Very Bad Day with Solo.  There's an email link at the top right of my page, don't hesitate to use it if you have questions after you're feeling better!

    Bests to everyone today, have a great ride, & do your best to keep the steel side down!
    Seriously, both these coolers were in the volunteer tent, we all should have chosen from the bottom one!

    September 4, 2015

    Follow The Action: Five Points HT A/I/P XC Live!

    If, you can't ride...get judgy?

    That's right, I'm going to be taking names and, er, hopefully writing a lot of zeros!

    BFF & I will be sporting TFS pride tomorrow (translation: I'm totally wearing my dorky awesome shirt), volunteering as jump judges at the Carolina Horse Park's pinnacle fall event.

    Eventing Nation posted a great preview & you can find live scores at Event Entries.
    Between duties, I'll be sure to add some trademark ridiculous commentary just for you on both our new Instagram feed & live on Twitter.

    Since, I know your life cannot possibly be complete without my random brain drool, it's easy to access in the right sidebar or from the social icons at the very tippy top of any page on our site.

    5...4...3...2...1...don't say I didn't warn you!

    May 17, 2015

    Winners Don't Always Carry Ribbons

    Partner love from Dr. Kim Keeton
    Our sport is, above all, about partnership & horsemanship.  Winning comes in many forms & it’s not always about a number.  Every time I work an event, I see the people who display the best of those values, who achieve the quietest form of greatness.

    And they are not always the ones holding a ribbon on Day 3.

    Greatness I saw included young T3DE rider Laura Duhamel, who walked into the secretary's office at the end of endurance day & withdrew.  Although she & Fate's Patriot had only a single refusal on XC, she felt her horse just wasn't quite right & chose to take him home, putting her partner first so they could try again another day.

    Lost with a map like this? Surely not!
    Or Rebecca Barber, another Training 3DE entry. She found herself halfway through phase D…lost & desperately circling for the next jump.  Just as she reached her maximum time on course, she decided to retire.  All of our hearts fell with her as she walked back to stabling.

    But after hanging up her bridle, she stayed to help others with a big smile for the remainder of the competition. It earned her the award that is my favorite to give: the Sportsmanship Award.

    Which included an autographed copy of Training of the Three-day Event Horse and Rider, with a handwritten note from author God Jim Wofford himself, a prize I’d guess many of us would cage fight for (or you can buy new on Amazon...for $500?!!).  Not to mention the rest of the loot in her packed bag.

    It’s Never Just A Dressage Show

    Just getting there is an accomplishment on its own.  Completion of a long format event is yet another.  So each & every entry gets my resounding applause.

    BN3DE Bonnie Coulter's grin says it all when she & 21-yr-old QH Otto Be Lucky finish Phase D (& place 5th!); thanks, Erica, for the WIN selfie!
    Winning one of our special awards takes yet another level of heart & dedication, so a HUGE TFS shout-out to:

    Donkey gets Becky's happy face!
    Best Conditioned Horse, primary sponsor So8ths Farm:
    Donkey Hote (I get to say his name again, yessss!), owned & ridden by Sue Goepfert; they were also a close 2nd both in the N3DE division & for the N3DE TIP award by a mere 2.9 points.

    Lowest Scoring Adult Amateur, sponsored by BlackWatch Stables (must be a member of your Area Adult Rider program): Dr. Kim Keeton & Evita-Veron, T3DE division winners.

    Effenzauber effen-gallops!
    Best Turned Out in Jog-Ups, sponsored by Higher Standards Leather Care, Cowboy Magic, Brant Gamma Photos, Dover Saddlery, & Grand Meadows:
    • Training – Louisa Flaig & Effenzauber
    • Novice – Ann Bower & Prosecco
    • Beginner Novice – Patricia Thompson & The Dark Knight
    Red Fury even pauses winningly
    Highest Scoring TB, sponsored by The Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Incentive Program (TIP; some divisions did not have any riders who gave me numbers, hence the gaps):
    • Novice 3DE – Paychecker, with Minge Wiseman, who also won the N3DE division on their stunning 28.1 dressage score.
    • Beginner Novice 3DE – Red Fury, with our friend Nobie Cannon; they were 2nd in their division as well,  behind winner Emma Boswell & Sprite by only 0.3 points!!
    • Training HT – Laurelin, with Lisa Borgia, who also won the Open Training HT.
    • Novice HT – Action Jackson, with Erin Kimmer, 4th in Open Novice on a lovely 27.3.
    And of course, CONGRATULATIONS to Kim, Minge, & Emma for winning the T/N/BN 3DE division, respectively!!!  In all three, the top three were separated by less than a single stadium rail (well, Novice had a whopping 5.2 pt spread, close enough), so well done under intense pressure.

    Brad's mule is easy to spot
    Moar Thank You

    From the first day I met him, during a long format clinic with Becky Holder, where I tortured took Solo, farm owner Brad Turley has been beyond generous & supportive of both the long format & the adult amateur.  You can read his message in the gorgeous (not that I’m biased...) event program (apologies to those who got hard copies, subjected to printer error, but the linked .pdf has correct format).    

    Thank you to Horse Junkies United, The Cheraw Chronicle, & Leslie Threlkeld with Eventing Nation for your articles (including a new one just yesterday), social media sharing, & Leslie's onsite help not only with media, but as Assistant Organizer!

    BN3DE Don Warren & Sunny One adorably on their way to 6th
    Thank you to the ever-wonderful Becky Holder for bringing her students down the road to participate; your support & presence throughout the event helps show our sport how much it matters!

    Sorry, you just got photobombed by a Holder AND a TARDIS portajohn
    To Dr. Debbie Williamson, owner of Williamson Equine Veterinary Associates, & Dr. Marsha Severt, of Brown Creek Equine Hospital (along with asst. Stephanie Graham, as Dr. Skip, Marsha’s husband & co-owner of their practice, couldn’t make it this year), who take time away from their own practices to help keep the horses safe & healthy.  To JJ Johnson, Radio Control Queen from here to Rolex & beyond, for enabling vital communication & sharing her vast experience with me!

    JJ makes XC run smooth as silk; N3DE Heather King & CF Baltic Royal Tee
    I Swear, This Post Has An End

    If this were the Oscars, the band would have begun playing long ago; there are just too many thank you’s to clinicians, farm staff, volunteers, builders, riders & more, but hey, I did write a program for that…

    It takes more than a village, really, it takes something akin to a metropolis, but the result…even I don’t have enough words to encompass it.  And while I can’t give away any secrets, 2016 is going to be even bigger, with even more features!

    Have you started your trot sets yet?

    N3DE Samantha Messamer & Finn McCool contemplate next year's plan