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We Are Flying Solo

February 23, 2010

My Eyes Are Bigger Than My Stomach

The phrase is one my mother always said to me when I piled food on my plate in eager anticipation of satisfying my rumbling belly. Inevitably, what I thought I could easily eat turned out to be more than my body could actually accomodate! It appears to also be true for my eventing aspirations.

Saturday dawned sunny and warmed up to a balmy 58 degrees so three of us crazy gals met to do some XC schooling. It was Solo and I's first attempt at really schooling Novice. I thought, pshhh, no worries, this is going to be a piece of cake!

Damn eyes.

Some parts were easy. Solo hopped smoothly and obligingly up and down banks (I LOVE BANKS!), galloped through the water, and leaped neatly over logs.

Just a lil' warm up log.

Down we go, nice as you please.

No problem, mom!


A great one of Solo's pasture buddy, Jeff, coming up out of the water -- what a splash!

Solo, of course, has to make his own splash! Do not ask me what I am doing, as it is obviously my very best riding zombie impression.

We ran into a little (shocking!) trouble at the ditches. Solo generally takes his ditches in stride, albeit with a rather, uh, enthusiastic leaping style to make sure no hiding trolls can reach his precious little feet, like so:


The routine goes: uphill to little ditch, downhill to little ditch. Then uphill to bigger ditch, downhill to....OMG, SLAM ON THE HORSE BRAKES, THE TROLLS ARE LYING IN WAIT! For some reason, coming down to the bigger ditch, Solo would have no part of it. He would go until the last possible second. We tried everything known to man. He calmly said, No way, no how, woman. Eventually, I decided it was not a battle worth losing the day over. He quite happily jumped every other (even bigger!) ditch on the property. But downhill to THAT ditch, THAT day, nope, beyond the realm of horsey possiblity, so I accepted my lumps and we moved on. I was annoyed, but after that, he even jumped the mini trakhener (a hanging log over a ditch) in the woods, so...whaddya do?

At this point, I am feeling pretty damn good about things, seeing as we haven't even been on a XC course since our starter trials last November at BN. We decide to finish up taking a few of the bigger fly jumps (simple box or coop type jumps, alone, taken from a gallop). No biggie right?


THEY ARE ENORMOUS AND TERRIFYING. How can there be such a difference in 2"??? The two jumps my cohorts selected and swore to me were Novice jumps were simple, boxy things. But as I galloped towards them, they got bigger...and bigger...and bigger.  Then right at the takeoff spot, I quailed with a whimper.  And Solo said, well, shit, lady, I ain't doing it without you! and declined to jump.  For which I don't blame him one bit, it was my fault for trembling in my boots and wailing in terror!

I admitted to my mates that the failure was entirely on me and I was not too proud to beg for a lead from the brave Jeff, for whom ginormous jumps come so easily.  And in the end, surprise was the ticket and we prevailed!!!

Look, you can't even tell that I am peeing myself in fear!!

And so we end, with a pat on the neck for a job well done!

I realized, though, an important lesson. This leveling up business is no walk in the park. No easy-breezy faking my way through it anymore as we gallop along. These bigger XC obstacles are going to take me screwing up all my courage and riding them properly so poor Solo is not left hung out to dry. My confident swagger from the morning has been well and truly squelched and replaced with a much healthier respect for the task at hand!! And a burning desire for another schooling session before we hit competition. You better bet we're going to be looking up the mighty David O. in the next couple of weeks....

February 19, 2010

Best. Saddle Ad. Ever.

World's most uncomfortable saddle

Date: 2010-01-01, 11:41PM PST

Like a ghastly specter from your darkest nightmare, this saddle has returned from the grave seeking vengeance. Its previous master thought it had banished it to the blackness of the abyss for good, but nay, it was only for an epoch.


*Steel rails forged by LUCIFER himself

*Genuine Auroch hide seat provides maximum chafing

I am reaching the end of my strength, as the madness contained within this dark artifact threatens to consume me. I cannot merely throw this adamantine saddle on the rubbish heap, lest some unwary passerby become transfixed by its lightless glow. No, I must only give this to one with the courage to look into the bloodshot eyes of insanity, and the strength to master it. A wizard with the cunning to master this beast gains an ally of unspeakable power: the ultimate theft deterrent. At the moment the thief straddles your steed, his fate is sealed. Eager for revenge upon mortals, the saddle will visit his arse with blisters that rival the torment of fire and brimstone... a dire lesson he will not soon forget. This same fate will befall any unworthy mortal who in his arrogance, attempts to mount the saddle of doom. Are you worthy?

Location: Green Lake

it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests.

God, I love craigslist.

February 18, 2010

These Boots Ain't Made For Walking

But are they any good for riding?

Years of tromping around barns has put me through years of going through paddock boots. I am always on a search for a perfect pair that match affordability ($150 for paddock boots, puh-LEASE!) and durability. Because you are SO lucky, I will share my findings of this incredibly scientific (we will just ignore sample size issues, ahem) experiment.

I wear paddock boots constantly for just walking around the farm and riding, which sometimes entails 4 hour trail rides, and usually includes 4-5 rides in the arena per week, so I use them hard. I put them on when I leave the house and they stay on. So I might be tromping through mud and poo, ice, rain, or heat. And I don't sit down and polish them every day. Survival of the fittest around me. And in case you don't notice a trend, I hate tying lace ups...

FAIL or WIN? I'll go from cheapest (yay!) to priciest (boo!) --

Gatsby: elastic-side paddock boots ($25) from Horseloverz -- those things are great! They are still fully intact, no cracking, comfortable. The only thing that happened was the lining tore, but I just threw a pair of drugstore insoles in and they work great. Wore them for about a year and a half. I still keep them in the back of my truck as spares. WIN!

Saxon: the Equileather zip paddock boots ($40). Got them last summer. Within two months, they blew out at the ball of the foot and then completely separated from the soles on both shoes. They were comfy and great to ride in but only last maybe 4 months total! FAIL!

Dublin: zip fronts ($~74). Using these now. Been wearing for about 8 months or so now. It's been a hard winter on boots with all the mud. But they were REALLY comfortable from the minute I put them on and the sole definitely had more support than the cheaper two -- not that I care about that, but I did notice a difference. They are wearing well so far, but I can see some weakening stitching around the ball of one foot, keeping an eye on that. I'd like them to at least last a year... I also just picked up a pair of elastic sided ones on sale for $40, but keeping them new in the closet till these die. JURY STILL OUT (but if that stitching blows, I'm giving the zip ups a FAIL).

Mountain Horse: Ice Rider lace ups (~$80). Just got them for this winter. Definitely worth it -- they are super warm. I've only worn them maybe 10 times so far, but seem sturdily made. Take some breaking in -- they hurt my heels pretty bad the first 4 or 5 times, but then were fine after that. JURY STILL OUT. (but it looks promising)

Ariat: lace ups (free cause they were given to me, retail between $150-200). Narrow foot and uncomfortable, always chewed up my heel (these were older style). Leather across toe cracked wide open where it flexed. Always leaked and generally fell apart. Hated them. FAIL! (But I do like Ariat clothes)

Blundstone: elastic side 500 series (bought in Australia for about US$45, but in US retail around ~$150). Tough to break in, but once I did, SUPER comfortable. I bought two pairs at once. First pair I wore for maybe three years, they were awesome, soles finally wore through. Second pair had the soles dry rot off within a few months. :-( I don't know why the difference. They are sitting in my closet still waiting for a repair if it's possible. One FAIL, one WIN!

February 17, 2010

The First Step Of A Fabulous Adventure

Not exactly Solo related (although I wish I could take him), but it's horse related so I'm posting it because I am TOTALLY FREAKING EXCITED!  I just sent in my deposit for the following trip this fall:

A hacienda to hacienda ride through the high country of Ecuador.  Galloping through the high volcanic peaks & valleys of the Andes & experiencing the unique culture of the Cordillera for seven glorious days.

This shall be me!!

My mother & I will be undertaking this adventure together (and yes, those who know me, I have already sent her links on where to purchase her helmet, LOL) in grand style.  Ok, maybe I will be undertaking it in my usual dorky style, but still....

T - ....uhhh, however many days are between here & September 4th!!!!!

February 16, 2010

Some Things Work, Some Things Don't

For some reason, the subtitle of the blog is not showing up correctly in IE but works fine in Firefox. Blog template settings are correct, it just goes black on a whim when you view it in IE. Grrrrrrr.....any IT gurus want to offer hints? Make it work!!!

But on to things that work!

It has been 15 days since the hock injections. I have not seen a huge difference in our dressage work. There seems to be a little more evenness in the bridle and the left lead canter (our yucky one) is more balanced though. Much as I would have loved for there to have been magic, all Solo's muscle memory has to be retrained now -- a process neither fun nor magical, sigh. This will take time and patience...

BUT, Sunday was a sunny, clear day and I decided to try our first post-injection jump school. I set everything up from about 2'11" to 3'3" and warmed up.

Oh. My. God.

Suddenly, my horse can approach a jump in a slow, balanced rhythm, come right up to the base and curl up and around the jump with ease. He can land in a rhythm (unless his silly rider loses body control and falls on his neck) and sit back immediately for the next jump.

Suddenly, 3'3" is not a huge effort with hooves barely scraping over the top rail, but rather a simple spring from a nice bouncy canter.

Suddenly, my horse who used to throw himself on the forehand in front of the jump and hurl himself over, then land in a heap and scramble on the other side has been replaced by Gem Twist.

Ok, I might be exaggerating a tiny bit on that last part, but really, it was totally awesome. Solo sprang through our gymnastic line of Xrail/bounce/vertical/one stride/vertical/one stride/vertical with nary a hesitation about rocking back on those hocks. And I wanted to jump all day long, it was just so much fun to feel the comfort and ease beneath me.

So today, yes, I am THRILLED with the results and can't wait to see how things develop. Our lovely chiro is out on Thursday to make sure everything is lined up and ready to go for competition season.

Suddenly, I am feeling a wee bit excited about this competition season...