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We Are Flying Solo

Showing posts with label work. Show all posts
Showing posts with label work. Show all posts

November 11, 2015

Catching Up: Like, RIDING HORSES!

It’s a tad squishy out, what with several inches of rain over the last 24 hours.  But the sun is warm & some of the grass is still green.  And my carefully guarded drainage sloughs & soils are hard at work already, drying it out for me & eight expensive hooves!

Storms make great sunsets though
There’s a lot to catch up on, both on these pages & in the saddle.  I commend the patience of anyone still clicking over to TFS.  One look at my annual post numbers over there in the right-hand archive tab reveals yawning gaps in our journey.

It’s not that there weren’t stories to tell.  More often a general overwhelm of the universe conspiring towards my demise combined with…well, who really wants to read, “I didn’t ride my horses because I’m sad & tired?

There are hints of change in the wind, though.  I’m not entirely sure of their direction yet, but I’m thinking that they’re the good kind.
 
To my shame, I have to admit that my riding muscles were actually sore after giving Encore a chance to stretch his legs on Sunday.  If that doesn’t tattle on me…  I was reminded, though, that vacations are always good for our partners.  They don’t forget what we’ve taught (good OR bad, heh) & more often than not, giving things a chance to settle in has brought us better results in the long run.

Encore: Please, admire at your leisure...
Encore Escapades

The Turf Beast has had quite a bit of down time, with intermittent bursts of exercise (let’s not go crazy & call it ‘work’), first to heal his X-Games injuries, then to wait for his rider to finish grubbing fish out of swamps through the fall (only THREE trips left this year, woohoo!).

While that naturally means we both get to rebuild muscle, all the buttons are still there, & once we start moving, it’s now only a few minutes before he is working over his back properly & staying elastic in the contact.

Um, super exciting progression from ‘llama/hackney cross impersonator locking the left side of his jaw’ that we started with.  It helps that I’m getting better at staying focused on how I WILL ride & remembering to notice that if my left shoulder starts aching, it’s probably because I’m hanging on to that rein like a climbing hold.

Psssh, with my eyes closed... By High Time Photos
 Because guess what:  your horse goes forward so much nicer when you aren’t blocking all of his energy with your iron grip.  You can have that earth-shattering tip at no cost!
 
Life on Solo terms: not the side of the fence I left him on
Solo Shenanigans

Solo’s been keeping my guilt active with his very special “I’m making a list of every time you don’t play with me” look.  He had his own vacation (or in Solo-terms, ‘horrific neglect,’ because somehow I have a horse who thinking eating grass & hanging out with his best horsey buddy is punishment), thanks to aforementioned ridiculous employer demands that I actually EARN my paycheck, as well as working out Weird Shoulder Thing.

While he is Member #3 of Muscle Rebuild Club, he assured me he was a solid, sexy, fancy stud both under saddle & on the longe last week (feel my awesome canter, mom, hey, let’s jump this log, did you see how awesome I was, yeah, check out this sexy canter, did I show you my badass canter?).

I couldn’t stop giggling (er, between panting) – I’d ask him to trot & he’d step up into his favourite canter instead, with that trademark spark in his eye & both ears cocked back at me to make sure I was paying attention.

Naturally, I’m rediscovering my ability to begin picking up (& searching for) pieces as soon as that nasty winter time change sets in.  But that’s ok; when it’s dark out, that's when you get to see the stars.
My Solo superstar

September 2, 2015

Obvious Riding, Obviously


A normal workday-& perfect metaphor for my life
It's been hard to write.  It's been hard to ride.  I'd guess all my fellow horse-bloggers understand the relationship between the two.

Added to the mayhem which is field season at work are repeated spins on the health care roulette wheel.  Only I can't seem to get the ball to land in a winning slot.  :/

We're still gathering data, but there is a glimpse of a silver lining, aka treatable things.  Which would be fantastic, as I'd love to, you know, get back to living my life?

Hence my offering of a consolation prize in the form of the ridiculously dorky photo feed now featured on our homepage.

There Was An Actual Dressage Thing, Though!

I have eked out some rides here & there.  Last weekend, Encore challenged my commitment to "I Will" during a brief dressage school.

As we began a few figures in the 20 x 40, my horse was tuning me out & going llama.  I got emotional:  I got frustrated.  Red flag that things were spiraling downhill.

Letting go:  possible!
But then I let go.

I paused to breathe & regroup my scattered bits of focus.  The trainer in my head firmly repeated, "Ride off your leg, let go of the death grip on your horse's face, BE PATIENT."

We rode centerline & diagonals & I focused on staying soft.  I focused on supporting with my seat & core.  And I waited.

Patience Is The Hardest Part

I just kept riding as correctly as possible & around the third or fourth repetition...I felt Encore start to trust.  He was trusting forward & trusting that I would not suffocate the energy flow with my hand.

As we turned across each successive diagonal, I felt his trot lift & push from behind.  And lo & behold, correct worked.

Maybe I should try that more often.
Never too much Grumpy Cat

December 27, 2014

How To Put Some Solar Power In Your Fenceline (Without Taking On The Solar Charger Headache)

No, you may not steal my horse.  Solo is brilliant, but his charge is non-transferrable.

Why Did You Build It?

So they would come.  Duh.  And by "they," I mean photons.  Because photons are badass, right, my fellow physics nerd homies?

My lovely little Blackside Dace, c. 2003
I'm a conservation biologist by day, so my motivation for using truly alternative energy is fairly obvious.  My graduate research was in the hollers of SE KY, studying this fairytale rainbow of a fish, the federally threatened Blackside Dace.

This project put me face-to-face with mountaintop coal extraction, the horrors of valley fill (scary stuff, check out these photos), acid mine drainage, & the third-world poverty of communities left to rot once Big Coal mechanized everything.

After 10+ years in freshwater species conservation, I've also learned about the havoc wrought by hydropower dams via drowned ecosystems, natural communities decimated by unnatural flow patterns, & rivers run dry by upstream withdrawals.  Add in collapsed bat lungs & migratory birds who look like they've gone through a blender in the vicinity of wind farms and, well, it seems like you're damned if you do, damned if you don't.

I won't wander into the side topic of the many efforts to improve the latter few issues (nor my instense desire to hurl large rocks at "clean coal" billboards, *insert expletives here*).  Or the simple fact that there is no panacea.

Newly installed tape back in February 2014
I am also poor.  My farm on top of a Carolina hill has an abundance of sunshine & my Horseguard bipolar fence tape is amazing.  But it still needs electricity to convince Solo to stay on the desired side of the line.

Non-science geek translation:  I really wanted to use solar power because it's free (after setup) & is the only power generation source I'm aware of that, on my small scale, has no negative impacts (unless Iron Man is willing to share his arc reactor -- sorry, I can't even non-geek without geeking).  But all-in-one solar chargers with the durability & power to give the consistent charge you want over the years in varying weather are very, very expensive.

I'll save the technicalities to consider for another day, because the point (if I ever make it there) of this post is supposed to be "How To Make It So With Tools & Free Stuff & Hay String & Shit."

Well, it is a farm, we do have shit.

The previous set-up (& dumpster-diving validation!)
What You Need
  • One pre-existing battery-powered system:  mine = one Parmak Magnum 12 DC [battery]-powered fence charger connected to a heavy-duty deep cycle battery (hey, I still wasn't going to pay for power...).  
  • One quality solar panel & charge controller that is rated for more than 12V (see above reference to technicalities post) - guess what Awesome Mom got me for Xmas?!
  • Something to mount all this crap on, including a vertical or horizontal surface with good sun-exposure (preferably south-facing...unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere)
  • Best. BFF. Present. Ever.
  • TOOLZ!  If your charger is already in a good spot, just a drill & screwdriver to mount the panel (and that's only for eventual permament mounting, because they include options for temporary setup for indecisive people).  The panel kit I used even included screws & velcro.  Yes, velcro - they obviously get horse people.
  • Enough colour vision to distinguish red (positive) from black (negative) & enough literacy to match up the right wires with the little plus & minus signs.  Hee.  This is my third single panel installation; my first was at 22, so trust me, it's not rocket science!   
How To Do It
(My Way, Which Naturally Has Extra Steps; Easy Life Would Be Boring, Right?  RIGHT??)

A:  Know your sun/shadow patterns throughout the day.  Badass photons are powerless in shadow.

B:  Realize your current perfect battery/charger location & precision-engineered setup are conveniently close to...90% shadows after the morning.  And no way am I taking on mounting that panel 12' in the air on top of the run-in.
Dammit.
C:  Resign yourself to moving the charger to the opposite side of the run-in, within easy reach of 99% sunlight all day & a perfect mounting location on the back of the feed shed.  Of course.  You must only move...nearly everything you store there.

D:  Move the charger in just a few "simple steps:"

The new wall
(1) Install new custom Equi-Flooring material & rustic pre-assembled decorative Pallet Wall base unit .  For security, make sure your base unit is secured by AT LEAST four pieces of hay string.  This way, it will never, ever fall.  *snork*

(2)  Get creative!  That scrap of treated plywood Encore knocked down in an itching fit?  Provides perfect weather protection screwed on to the inside of the Pallet Wall.  In addition, you now have your surface ready to re-mount the charger, along with any additional parts.

It's aweeeesomeeee...
(3) Carry your specialized Battery Support System to its new location & you're set!

(4)  If you want to go wild, you can pull nails (& make sure you don't lose them thanks to your awesome new magnetic wrist wrap thingy) from some spare lumber & connect the Pallet Wall to, say, another solid object in case of hay string failure (even though we know this never happens).


Photon-ready, Captain! Yeah, there's a couple wires...
E:  Now that your original system is restored to "action-ready," stick (literally, I told you there was sticky velcro!) the solar charge controller & battery condition monitor in your desired arrangement.  Make sure the controller wires are within reach of your battery & the controller itself is within reach of the recommended wiring range for your solar panel (in this instance, 5 feet).

Controller (left) & monitor (below controller)
F:  Install your solar panel:  either in a temporary setup configuration if offered or mounted in its permanent location.  Remember that panels are designed for weather exposure, but NOT to be trod upon by humans or horses.  It's still glass!

G:  Wire the panel to the controller; this is as simple as connecting the positive & negative leads to the labelled holes.  Make sure the panel is covered at this time & NOT PRODUCING POWER WHILE YOU ARE FIDDLING WITH THE WIRING!  Safety is important, as is protecting your battery & charger.  (ok, I don't have a photo of this yet)

H:  Step back & dramatically spread your dust & sweat-smattered arms so you can loudly pronounce "TA-DAAAA!" to your horses, who couldn't care less.  But your fencing is now power-independent!!

Remind Me Of The Advantages Of Doing This?

The critical element, the controller, will prevent your panel from overcharging or draining your battery.  The condition monitor will let you test your battery whenever you like (for example, when you want to show your friends how you single-handedly harnessed badass photons to run your fence & keep your battery charged for free...just an example...).

No sun?  No problem:  my battery will run my charger on its own for over 30 days.  

That system will also keep your battery in better condition for a longer life, so you get to spend your valuable time & money -- playing with your horses, as you should be!!  

To be continued, so you shall be fully educated whether you like it or not, BWAHAHAHHAHA...

November 16, 2014

All Farm Residents Are Actually Still Alive

We all gotta nom, man...
Well, unless you count a few deer, but they fed coyote puppies.  Even if you don’t like coyotes, if you don’t think puppies are adorable, you obviously have no soul.

But to the larger point, I’m sure there are thousands five of you (ok, four if you don’t count my mother) who have been scratching their heads because dry winter air makes your scalp itchy wondering “where did eventer79 go?”  I’m still here.  Mostly.

There is a robust collection of half-finished post drafts & more thoughts & intentions that I can shake a stick it.  Problem is, I’m too tired to pick up the stick.  Will you settle for an acorn cap?

So What's The Deal, Slacker?

I would put a very narrow confidence interval (fellow geeks, you’re welcome) around my certainty that many of you have found yourselves in times where the demands of life greatly exceed the ridiculously small number of hours astronomers give us each day (it’s easier to be annoyed at humans than an enormous star which will eventually massacre us all-seriously, click this, it's one of the awesomest infographics ever!).  Not to mention your own finite capacity to meet said demands with energy, planning, and production of deliverables.

One target: the Everglades Pygmy Sunfish
My Real Life Job is an extremely complex one, full of research plans, coordination between uncountable layers of government, non-profit, & private sectors who are not so good at that whole communication thing, reports, 60-hour weeks chasing 40-mm rare fish in swampy ditches (yeah, everyone thinks it’s all fun & games, I dare you to come out with us!) that require a four-hour commute, prioritizing which of a state’s natural resources are more important than others because we have neither bottomless coffers nor more than six staff members…holy crap, I’m getting tired just writing that…and I didn’t even get to the daily “putting out inbox fires” part…OMG, that's the longest sentence ever...

And they all have little red flags...
So Drink A Beer On The Farm, Right?

Obviously, there is plenty to keep a person busy & in normal circumstances, those magical 0.3 miles of farm driveway form a bridge to an oasis of recovery.  From the outside, it can certainly look that simple.  However, as most of us learn after a modicum of time in Adult World (aaaand here come the porn hits, thank you, Google), there is nothing the universe loves more than conspiring to see how many boulders, made of types of rock you didn’t even know existed, it can stack on your head before you sink.
 
My neck is tired.

I don’t put this forth as a whine-fest, though, I have a pretty narrow selection of cheeses I actually like.  Actually, the same goes for wine, but I did taste this amazing Japanese plum wine at a work conference this week…

FOCUS, WOMAN!

TL;DR:  eventer79 is simply exhausted, over-stressed, overwhelmed (NOT AT ALL contributed to by her complete lack of an over-commitment problem).  When your therapy is getting on your horse, but it takes everything in you to just hand food to said horse, matters get complicated.  We’re working on that.

For now, we try to hold on to small moments.  As years go by, you learn how truly precious, finite, & fragile these are.

Red Horses:  Ok

Aside from a minor balancing act to work out involving forever wussy front feet, Solo is bright & healthy & thanks to Minion Erica’s generosity & horsemanship, once again has the hocks of a 10-year-old.  Encore is healing from a small tear in his left gluteus muscle (only my dear Encore could sprain his ass…), which will take several months, but Dr. Bob says just keep him in half-work-intensity & he is improving.  I did tell David O. that I’m fairly certain this horse carefully plans so he is 100% fit & sound…when it’s cold & dark.

Scenery:  Freezing But Scenic

So I will leave you with this, a gift from the most beautiful fall I’ve seen since I moved to NC in 2005.  Who needs New England when my yard looks like this?

shadowfx01's Fall 2014 Slideshow album on Photobucket

Hug your horses, stay safe during fall hunting seasons, & to my fellow horsey blog friends, I’m still reading & following your wonderful journeys; please don’t take offense at my radio silence.  An erratic flight is still technically not a crash, don’t call NTSB yet!

August 14, 2014

Life Smacks You In The Face. Horses Reduce The Swelling Afterwards.


If pain must come, may it come quickly. Because I have a life to live, and I need to live it in the best way possible.  - Paulo Coelho, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

give up catThis week has been a rare treat at the real job (and by “treat”, I mean, a quite unexpected awfulness I didn’t see coming).  Every office has its crappy days, but it’s a special occasion when it stands out among a decade.  (I love my job, I love my job, I love my job, I…)

Betrayal, rage, pain, all the fun parts!  I am quite careful & quite diligent at drawing a firm line between my professional life & my personal one, but this monstrosity shoved right through that wall at exactly the wrong time, which naturally just multiplies the offense.  Something tells me I wouldn’t be off base in guessing you’ve been there…

Chocolate helps, but one “normal” person can really only have one expensive hobby at a time.  Which boils down to why we all have chosen to torture surround ourselves with large, suicidal, frustrating, money-burning, unpredictable, mesmerizing, magical, & altogether wonderful horses at every opportunity.  In fact, I find myself wondering if I can substantially increase my tax write-offs by adding “equine-assisted therapy” as a line item.

One of my resident greys
Requirement:  Resident Therapists

The smallest things can save you a drive to the loony bin.  That husky nicker alongside a face that says to you, “Hooray!  You are the bestest sight & I’ve been waiting all day just for you!”


Stomp-whisk-nom slows your breathing in time with horses deterring flies while relishing supper.

Watching the crystalline well-water fill the trough as a hidden broad-winged hawk scolds an uninvited guest somewhere in the oak trees, I can finally feel everything else fade away.  As the grey tree frogs launch their daily chorus, all that's left behind is a very welcome relief.

Could Actual Riding Actually Occur??

Oddly, almost surreally, it is a breathtakingly gorgeous evening:  August in North Carolina has a long tradition of sweating through four shirts a day, as well as fascinating discoveries, such as the fact that you CAN actually sweat underwater.  I guess the memo has gotten lost because my pastures are exploding with green & the air is…pleasant??!

The best part?  Solo digs eagerly in to his favourite spots in the top pasture, which has been resting for a couple weeks.  I carefully pick through Encore’s feet with Durasole, ichthammol, and ThrushBuster, only to find his LF closing up & his RF comfy, and FOUR SHOES ON FOUR FEET (*cough* we may or may not have seen our farrier twice in five days last week *cough*).

bareback solo
Don't be jealous!
How can I help but smile as I buckle the nylon girth of our fabulously stylish bareback pad (bony chick + TB withers = I am not ashamed of my eBay memory foam!!)?  Encore seems to agree: every bridling usually includes a patient pause while I wait for him to unclamp his silly teeth.  Today, though, I lifted the bit to an already-open mouth.  I guess we both got bored!

Yes, you read that right:  bareback pad.  You know, since he’s a “crazy” OTTB and all, after five weeks off, things get very dramatic when I hop on from the trailer fender and we…walk around for a while.  :D 

Getting The Kinks Out

The ride itself was nothing fancy; I mostly just used the terrain for walk work.  Both his front feet still have a week or two of growing to do before I am ready to put them back in full service.

So we wandered around the farm & I even had the gall (says my horse) to pick up the contact & school some lateral work, combined with stretching over his topline (I know, animal cruelty at its worst).  Encore grudgingly accepted once I explained it was simple physical therapy to soften all those tight muscles which have been standing around compensating for sore feets.  I did manage to restrain my “I told you so" once his back stretched, lifted & began to swing as he unlocked his hind legs & loosened into the bridle.
    
Horses Hanging Out 001 (Small) Savouring The Now

Every evening, my pond turns into molten gold when the fading light hits just the right angle.  Flycatchers & a common yellowthroat warbled across the pastures, a perfect counterpoint to the steady four-beat swoosh of hooves through tall grass.

After being grounded for more days than I can count, feeling my horse’s strong confidence beneath me, knowing we both relished the jailbreak, being in each moment & letting it all soak in – well, I don’t need to explain to you how precious those times are!

After I shut the gate, releasing Encore to enjoy fresh grass with his little big brother, I lingered there, watching my happy horses just doing what they do.  Something in that fills you up, as if you were the trough you just tended.  Even if there was old water in it already, you shove the hose to the bottom and the fresh, clean flow revitalizes the supply & pushes the stale, cloudy water out.  You are restored, at least in part, and for today, that is enough
Rock

May 1, 2014

I Never Really Wanted A Farm

Delima & I survey Snowy River country in Victoria, Australia

Whaaa...?!?

I have spent the majority of my life in and around all manner of farms, from California to Arizona to Kentucky to Australia to Wisconsin to Ecuador (ahhh, I need to finish that series!) to the Southeast, from the dirt lot behind a house to managing a neighbour's private barn to closing sliding doors that cost more than my truck.  My manure fork dug out pee spots in old clay-based stalls in the '90s and I stacked frozen water buckets in the heated viewing room during turnout and I dragged full muck buckets in a sled over 8" of snow and ice to the pile...uphill. 

Sure, I could strip a stall and return it to pristine condition in less than 15 minutes and I learned how to leave a hose so it always drained itself and I found out where you should NEVER put your gate/trough/shelter/riding area/feed and I even learned how to manage your chores so you had plenty of ride time.  But I also learned that being responsible for the maintenance of your horses' living quarters was more hard work than even some of the most experienced boarders could imagine.

Invasive flathead catfish, bad!!  They be eatin' our natives!

Board It Is!

We all know that the perfect boarding facility is as tangible (and accessible to us mere mortals) as the Jabberwocky; if you don't own it, compromises are required, but with research and experience you can generally find something that's a good fit for you and your partner(s).  In fact, SprinklerBandit recently did an excellent job discussing "How to be a Happy Boarder"!

If you've read this blog for a while, you know that I work full time and then some as a freshwater wildlife biologist, which means I travel weekly from April to November, my schedule changes every hour during field season based on weather, I'm a crabby cat lady who guards her personal space like a troll (hee), and oh yeah, I work for the state.  When you combine incredibly poor career choices ('follow your dreams', they said, haha, ok, I'm partly kidding, I couldn't do anything else, it's my passion) that produce tiny paychecks for long work-weeks with the amazing insane financial priorities of a horse owner, well, it's easy to see why farm ownership was never on my "want" list.

It All Falls Apart

 But three years ago, everything changed.  2011 began a rather spectacular series of "events," a word which doesn't even approach adequacy, that culminated in my own personal nadir (thank you, Mrs. Bricking - my equally terrifying & incredible high school English teacher for two years - I never thought I'd get to use that one in conversation) when my entire future disappeared in a single sentence in early November of 2012.  That's another story for another day.

Skipping a few details, the spring of 2013 found me blundering about the metaphorical woods for a new path forward.  Or any direction really, as long as it was away from the bottom of the hole.  Enter (after exhaustive mathematical exercises) a fateful ride on a mule (the kind with wheels) at the height of a beautiful Carolina spring and the rest is in the record books.

I write Twits...the apocalypse must be nigh!

Mission:  Reboot

The most surprising part?  Once we settled in, I have loved every. single. moment.  Always skeptical of those goofy "backyard horse ladies" on COTH and the dubious claims that they would never board again, I've had to eat all my doubts now that I stand in their shoes muck boots.  I have less time to write rambling masterful blog posts, so those who follow us on Facebook and, to my everlasting shame, Twitter, have noticed that I am beginning to rely on their forced brevity and immediacy for updates (those who don't, you are clicking "follow" or our sidebar buttons now, right???).  And I am so grateful that I am an uncompromising planner and I held out, because I would NOT want to try to do this on a property I did not lay out for maximum efficiency.  That's another story too!

I still have a long way to go, both in terms of healing and of the "30-year farm plan," and I don't think I can afford diesel until 2019, but it's all a little easier when I dissolve into giggles watching the horses gallop for the sheer joy of it in their own game of "Let's Pretend We're Terrified Of The Mower So We Can Squeal And Run."  Note:  don't forget to glance in front of your mower periodically to see if you are about to drive into a ditch.  Just sayin'...




July 28, 2012

Can I Make The Impossible Possible?

This is how it goes:

Monday I am getting ready for field work, fixing the stuff broken in last week's field work, or driving to field work.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I am usually DOING field work on travel status, which means I am in a hotel somewhere in the economic wasteland (but gorgeous rivers) that is the coastal plain of our state.

Friday, I'm fixing the stuff we broke this week and planning and coordinating staff for the next week.

Saturday, I am exhausted and it is 102 degrees, but I stuff myself into the truck and drive north to ride Encore.  Since he hasn't been ridden in a week, I have to somehow wear him out before I can do anything focused (I have discovered the round pen is very helpful because he HAS to balance or he will fall). 

Sunday, he is much more rideable but I am tired of sweating, even though the temperature has dropped to a balmy 99.  Nevertheless, I truck up and try to do something worthwhile.

I ache to ride Solo too, but what little time I have must be devoted to the youngster.

Because we WILL have a fall season, SO HELP ME COD, because my knee surgery (thank YOU, VA Horse Trials 2011) is scheduled for November 16th (just after the Adult Team Challenge in VA, how fitting) and after that I will not be able to walk until mid-January and it will be 8 months to full recovery if I don't explode first.

Encore needs a schedule (which I can't give him) and I need to build his hind end, especially his left hind, which is still a bit weaker and tight from his pre-injection body habits.  We've made some progress; our dressage lesson today "showed a nice Second Level trot" and because the arena had not been mowed, Mr. Finicky Legs passaged over the 10 inch tall weeds while I laughed at him.  I guess that's one way to get hock action...

Blogging:  EPIC FAIL.  Unless you want to hear about all the fish I can't find because they have somehow vanished.  Who would have thought that the rivers had changed since the last records of the species 50 years ago?  Oh wait...

On the plus side, in November I will have time to write the series I have been saving in my head that I think you will enjoy.  Since I will not be able to do anything else.  Although I have already decided that sitting on a lazy, retired horse is a non-weight bearing activity....


July 7, 2012

On Again, Off Again

Summers are frustrating for me.  It's field season at work, which means I am doing this...



...while losing my body weight in sweat every day.  It is fun and I love the wildlife, but trust me, it's not as easy as it looks!  It also means I have no consistent schedule.  I am often on travel status as my territory covers 1/3 of the state.  Horse training and article writing does not seem to be a priority of my agency for some reason.

So I am left to piecemeal it as best I can.  I make plans and change them and then change those.  Sometimes I have to wait until the heat breaks or until it's raining so field work is canceled or we have meetings so I get to stay home.

Yeah, your clinic scheduled on a Wednesday?  Please stop complaining that it won't fill, we can't all be kept women...

However, since I spend many MANY hours behind the wheel of the work truck, I contemplate.  What do I want from Encore's round pen work?  With Solo, I needed to earn his trust, so my approach was to calm him and reassure him as much as possible.  But with Encore, I think I want to leave a little raw edge.  He is appropriately obedient, but has a little fire, a little pushback, and I don't think I want to take that away.  I WANT a little badass-ery in my eventer and to know that he is self-confident enough to attack new challenges and move boldly forward even if I falter.  Solo became bold and confident because I showed him he could be, but Encore already has his own core to build on. 

This is my working theory.  In the meantime, what riding time we get is spent on building his hind end and back on trails and in transitions in hopes that our fall season will see everything bumped up a notch!