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We Are Flying Solo

Showing posts with label studs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label studs. Show all posts

December 20, 2014

Our Blogger Secret Santa Revealed: Thank You!!!

Random wrench was the closest metal object, I had to demo!
A thousand gratitudes to Molly, McKenna, & Phoenix at One Bud Wiser (yeah for OTTB buddies!) for the perfect gift of a magnetic wrist wrap.  Even in a pretty box!  I can't help but wonder if it will stop me from losing my marbles...

Hey, A Girl Can Dream

Even if it can't achieve that magical feat, I'm sure I'm not the only person who manages to drop the screw/bolt/nail/wire/snap/anything-opposable-thumbs-can-grasp. Every. Single. Time. 

In the grass. 

When the fallen object is inevitably dark-coloured. 

Not that it would help if it were glitter silver; with a contact Rx of -8 & astigmatism (I know, it's a wonder I can find the horses), once my useless hands have released any object, all projects must come to an astonishingly long halt while I pick through ground layers I never even knew existed.

Like my man-hands (psh, like I'd work on a Honda)?

I can't even imagine the sweet luxury of life with no bolts clamped in my teeth, no studs tracked like gold bullion, & the end of strings of profanity I only hope my dear neighbours can't hear, as the 357th screw bounces off the end of the impact driver. 

Now I just have to figure out what to do with all that free time.  Oh, I know, maybe I can FINISH AN ACTUAL FARM PROJECT.  Or, I don't know, something really crazy, like RIDE MY HORSES.  How's that for going out on a limb??!  I think I used to do that...

Kudos To Awesome Organizer & Participants!

Thank you again, Molly, & thank you to Tracy at Fly On Over for putting it all together!  I know I had lots of fun wrapping up some goodies...  Only horse people really know the strange & wonderful gifts horse people get excited about.


October 7, 2012

The Horseman's Decision

Dr. Bob warned me on Tuesday that Encore would be sore for a while following a rather large chiropractic adjustment and recommended that I keep him on bute for the rest of the week.  I asked if he would be ok to do the horse trial and he didn't say no.  But I saw a look that I knew and I wondered.  Looking back, I think he made a gamble and because he knows me, hoped it would work.

I schooled Encore lightly on Thursday, some walk/trot lateral and stretching work and a few crossrails.  He felt great.

We trailered to the Horse Park on Friday and settled in for the night.  I wanted to hack him that evening, but ran out of time and daylight and we had to settle for a walk.
Carolina dawn.
 The Moment of Weakness

Dressage warmup was ugly.  Encore was unfocused.  I regretted not making the time to at least longe him the day before.  He had no bend, ignored my leg except to leap forward from every application.  He was stiff, cranky, and anticipatory.  40 minutes of work brought some improvement and I thought we might squeak through.

We didn't.  He turned like a motorcycle, ignored every aide, had no bend in either direction, stiffened and braced whether I was soft or not, and generally brought me near to tears by the end.  Which is almost impossible.  I made a promise on this blog that I would be open about the whole process, that I would not create some kind of false Facebook life where only the good is shared.  So yes, there is a video.  A sad, sad video.  Erm, at least I am getting better at sitting up straight?  And yes, yes he is violently allergic to the rail and wanders drunkenly down the long side like a lost cow. 

I slumped in despair when we left the arena.  Arriving back at our stall, where we were next door to our friend Sue and her magical, wonderful homebred, Rocky The Amazing Horse, I finally said it out loud:  "This just makes me want to give up.  I want to pack up my trailer right now and go home."

The Rally

I didn't.  I took a deep, shaky breath and took a long look at my horse.  I gave him a snack and a drink and thought hard.  He is a worker bee, he does not generally just behave like an asshole because he can.  Gearing up for stadium jumping (it was a one day HT), I decided to feel every step and carefully evaluate what was going on beneath me.

He jumped five or six warmup fences well, moving up when I asked and mostly maintaining a rhythm.  But he leaned hard on the left rein and his left lead canter was a bit flat.  We started our course and after jump 1 when he hit the ground running, the pieces began to form a clearer picture.

He ran at the jumps and about halfway through, started pulling rails behind.  There were only 9 fences so it ended quickly and as we walked out, the answer was clear:  his left hip was still sore, despite the bute and he needed more time.  Apparently a few jumps was ok.  15 was too many.

The Big Decision 

We began our walk over to XC, my first thought being, "Well, we might as well finish."  Then I paused.  Why?  There was nothing to gain -- the course was EXACTLY the same as the once we jumped at 5 Points, there were no new challenges.  I hadn't checked our dressage score, but I've gotten fairly accurate in my assessments and it certainly was not competitive and we'd just pulled at least 3 rails.  I knew my horse was sore and there was nothing to be gained by running him up and down hills for 4 minutes, knowing he would jump flat, chip in, and generally try his best while being physically compromised.  That would just be stupid.

So I walked over to the steward (who was very kind and sympathetic, thank you), calmly informed her we were withdrawing because my horse was sore, and returned the barn to pack up.

The legendary CHP steeplechase infield would not see this Thoroughbred's hoofprints today.
Disheartening?  Absolutely.  A hard choice?  Not really, because I strive to always put my horse first.  Frustrating?  Well, considering my day would have been better spent drinking and setting $300 on fire, yes, I'd say so.  Six hours of driving and we had neither learned nor developed a thing.

The Aftermath

I knew someday it was a choice I would have to make -- looking out for my horse in the long term vs. the short term gratification of completing an event.  It was a choice I will never forgive myself for not making for Solo and it cost us both a great deal.  It was the indisputably right choice to make for Encore yesterday.  I was also encouraged that people in stabling near us that I didn't even know expressed their support and good wishes for our choice and our future when we made it back.

I don't think there is any real damage done; I will talk to Dr. Bob on Monday and assess.  The only real stressor is that we have four weeks and I'm already $400 in to the VA Horse Trials in November.  A part of me wants to just give up, scratch, move the surgery up and be done with it.  This fall season was supposed to be fun, the last good thing I had to look forward to for a long time.  Since 5 Points, it has not been fun.

Because I think it all traces back to that point (ha, see what I did there):  Encore was going very well and had an excellent dressage test.  But he had two big slips on XC on the hard ground and even then, I felt something that I couldn't identify and he jumped poorly on Sunday.  Now I am just upset with myself for not figuring out the problem sooner -- a tweaked up back that just needed a reset and some time, which I attempted to do too close to a competition because I was too slow.

But I am stubborn.  Perhaps stupidly so.  But I'm not giving up just yet; I never thought for a second any of this would be easy.

As of this past Wednesday, he is tapped for studs and wore them on Saturday, so we shall have no more slipping.  Hopefully, all he needs is a bit more time for his hip to settle and rest and he will be back to good.  Did you hear that, big, young, thing?  Get good, I need you!

Oh, we'll be back.  The dream will not die that easily.

May 14, 2011

Post Game

We have officially completed our first outing at Training Level!  It was our favourite local venue, who hosted a schooling show with a Combined Training option (dressage and stadium only).


(1) WE WON FIRST PLACE. In our division which consisted ROFL. I let the organizer keep the ribbon for later use.

(2) We scored our lowest score on a single dressage movement ever! Yes, that is a big "3" for the right lead canter depart. Or as Solo translated it, the leaping, twisting buck that led to cross canter that led to running trot which finally culminated in a right lead. I figured I better just sit there until he sorted his shit out. The rest of our canter work was equally craptastic. Apparently accidentally feeding Solo two breakfasts was not the best idea.

(3) Solo DEFINITELY knows he is an event horse. After dressage, we met with our saddle fitter to work on dressage saddle. Solo kept gazing wistfully at the cross country field and finally blew a big bucking tantrum during my trial ride because I ALREADY DID DRESSAGE, IT'S TIME FOR JUMPING, DAMMIT. Amazing how he suddenly became totally calm once I started putting the jumping boots on...

(4) 3'3" stadium jumping is not a problem for Solo. He only pulls rails when his pilot forgets to properly ride the jump. 4 penalty points for me.

(5) I need to do two dressage tests at horse trials. While our test had moments of ok-ness (hey, we figured out how to make centerline "relatively straight"), our dressage saddle trial ride AFTER the test was simply awesome, complete with fantastic trot extensions and transitions. Sigh. To do #457: add mini-test to warmup routine.

Overall, I think the CT served its purpose well, pointing out the spots I need to ride better. Solo jumped really well again, which I am beyond thrilled about. I even used the studs since the ground was wet and I know that venue has slippery clay hiding beneath. Lesson: road studs are NOT enough for lots of grass and clay.

Tomorrow: clean things AGAIN. Plan. Maybe write stuff on the calendar and erase it and write different stuff. Fantasize winning blue ribbon in VA and then laugh at hubris. Fantasize completing VA with a qualifying score for Training 3-Day and pat self for realistic goal. Find someone to talk to other than weird self.

May 8, 2011

The Studs Are Here!

Sadly, no, not that kind.

Friday was a busy day. Solo and I met with P to review the Training Level dressage test we'll be doing in Virginia. It started ugly, with Solo insisting on being a redhead, throwing himself around and whining in protest. I stopped, took a deep breath, replaced the rage with zen and we started over.

The test is far more complex than we've done before -- which turned out to be a good thing! Figures and transitions fire in rapid succession, which means Solo never had time to get all stiff and brace-y, which means all of a sudden, I had a supple horse on my hands!

In bigger news, though, Friday was Stud Hole Installation Day. And I don't mean a pit filled with cabana boys. Although that would have been exciting too.

Having never seen the process of drilling and tapping shoes, I of course had to whip out the camera to capture Stud Master Johnathan (aka Hoof Shaper Extraordinaire and Fixer Of All Solo Foot Problems) as he single-handedly wrestled uncooperative steel shoes into submission. It looked strikingly similar to convincing Solo to do dressage.

First you drill the holes.
Then you use the tap to cut threads in the steel.
Solo supervises.
Then you install the shoe while the dogs mug you for hoof bits.

This process was HARD work. I suspect that Johnathan may have chased me off with the hoof nippers if I had asked him to do all four feet. Luckily for his shoulders, I did not want to stud the front shoes -- I do not want to slow down Solo's front feet while galloping and jumping as that would seem to court disaster for over-reaches and blown out tendons.

The end result: four nice neat holes, shown here with plugs intact.  And of course, four lovely reshod feet, which is a typical result when Johnathan applies his awesomeness to the Shiny Red Beast.

Yesterday, I screwed in four road studs for our jump school just to see how everything worked. Lesson: screwing in studs is a meticulous process that takes a long time. Will not be doing that unless I have to!

I am now off to read even more about studs while hoping that I don't manage to make any giant mistakes and hurt my horse. No pressure or anything.

April 16, 2011

Tranformation To Real Event Horse: 95% Complete

Protective body armour for rider: Check

Air-cooled, carbon-fiber-lined tendon protection for horse: Check

Colour-coordinated cross country outfits: Check

Helmet cam: Check

Ability to leap ditches in a single bound: Check

USEA member cards for horse AND rider: Check

Two trainer, two saddles, two bridles, two girths, two shirts, two...: Check

And now...

Why yes, now that you ask, that IS a perfectly organized stud kit.  In a blue box.  With blue duct tape for holding boot straps in place.  And a blue hoofpick.

Solo gets drilled and tapped behind on his next visit from Johnathan the Wonder Farrier in early May. I have decided to make the commitment since I already know that VA in May can equal wet grass on very hilly terrain. With the added challenge of the move-up to Training Level, I want Solo to have as many tools as I can give him. I'm not drilling the front shoes; I do not want to do anything that slows down his front feet even a tiny bit while jumping or galloping. The last thing we need is a blown tendon or cut up pastern.

I have a lot to learn about studs but I've been reading till my eyes cross. But I'll save that for another post...