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We Are Flying Solo

January 11, 2014

Farm + Paint = Estate!

L. Williams (so you know who to blame) requested some more samples of my exquisite Paint artistry (I can't really blame them, I mean, you saw it...), so in an attempt to distract myself from having a panic attack about falling trees during a current fast-moving stormfront, I have focused all my creative energies to create for you these masterpieces.   The shoddy Photoshop work is just a bonus.

You're welcome.  As always, you may click to embiggen.

Here you can see a nice little redbud tree on the west side of the house & carefully planned native plant-scaping.  They did finish the stucco on the foundation finally, although I'm still waiting for my dang shutters so I just drew some in, hee.  No large trees allowed near the house since the truck-crusher of Summer 2013 (thankfully not personal truck, omg)!

The boys are unseasonably shiny this year, aren't they?  And Solo is so majykal that green grass grows wherever he steps.  Naturally.  The "Carolina horse shelter" (the horses live in a carport already, it's very common here; this baby is engineered and certfied for 130 mph winds) is completed as of yesterday!

Now all I need are two 10' gates.  And a 6 x 6.  And four 4 x 4's.  And a water trough.  And eyebolts for cross-ties.  And time to backfill & finish the fence.  But hey, I'm watching the ditches for loot!

The Master Plan.  Call it a 5-year plan.  Or maybe a 20-year plan.  But it is my vision for the future!  Of course I colour-coded it!

As of now, the house, shed, & hay shelter are essentially done (ok, so I need electricity.  And shutters.  And an inspection.  Details.) & the north & south sides of the main pasture (the top one is only for riding until I can find some free t-posts to finish the back fenceline) have their strip of tape up.  The lower pasture is also ready to use, although only when I am living there, as I can't afford to put a strip of tape in front of that wire yet; Solo & wire have a bad history.

Taaaape.  Loving the Horseguard, although I have not fully tensioned it yet.
Yes, my fence will be bipolar -- eesh, not my favourite product name, but it's still great stuff!  That way, I do not have to ground my charger unless I want to activate the wire.  You try driving a 10-foot rod in the Carolina piedmont.  Not till the neighbour's hydraulic post driver comes home!  My dressage arena is all ready:  all six little white plastic cones just need to move to their spots in the grass.

What do you mean I have to go to work?  I have plenty of work right here!

January 9, 2014

Creeping Solo Farm Might Be More Accurate, But There Is Progress...

As any of you out there who have built a farm know, it is so much more than just building.  Even when you have the land, you've barely begun.  At the beginning of this project, I knew that, but at the same time, I didn't KNOW.  No matter how good your builder or contractor is, no matter how long you spent getting zoning permits, building permits, septic permits, well permits, no matter how many maps and diagrams and spreadsheets you put together, you still have to BE THERE.  This tends to clash with my boss' idea that I should be THERE.

Seriously, they were going to throw all this away!!! o.o
It would be wonderful to have a handy extra free person to handle things while I am catching up on work (mail order bride?) but even then, it takes my eyes to identify spots in need of repair (construction is messy!) or an incorrect installation or get the massive amount of very valuable lumber out the dumpster (hey, I paid for it, I'll dive for it!).  It takes me to personally stake out and line level exactly where I want the run-in to be and to catch any attempts to put things where they are NOT supposed to be.

All of this is enough to exhaust anyone, but add on top selling my current home, trying to occasionally make sure my horses are still alive, arguing with my stupid health insurance company (don't even ask), and oh yeah, my truck did a weird thing the other day, misfiring on a couple cylinders.  Perfect timing.  Although it's behaving for now and better continue to do so.

In short, a person had better be ready to pour their heart, soul, stubbornness, and hope in on top of every other resource you have.  I committed to building the farm after a massive personal loss, which stole a future in a way I didn't even know was possible.  So as crazy and risky and stressful and difficult as it is, this farm is my leap of faith in an attempt to build a new future.  All of the greatest things and experiences in my life that I treasure most have come with great risk and many moments of doubt.  But I don't regret a single one.

I may land in a worn out heap on the other side of the abyss, but here I am mid-jump anyway, with blind trust that there IS an other side. 
You can click pics to embiggen.
Front porch in progress:  Step 1

Front porch:  Step 2, although there's a bit of a safety issue.

Front porch:  Accomplished!!!  Now bring the rest of my shutters!
It's all ready for power...
And dinner parties...

And beer on the porch!
You can just see the next-door trainer's barns, looking over my riding field.
Hey, it is awesome.  And it gets installed Friday.  Don't envy my grafix skillz.
And the best part...ONE of the views out of the master bedroom.
I can't believe I almost forgot this last picture...thanks to an awesome Xmas gift, the welcome mat is ready to welcome.

January 7, 2014

When Bloggers Collide

It appears there were multiple horse-y blogger holiday road trips from Texas to North Carolina (um, because this is where it's at, hello!) at the end of the 2013 and one of them resulted in a close encounter!

Like, REALLY close!
With a little coordination, I had the distinct pleasure of finally getting to meet jenj from Wyvern Oaks and her husband, Sean (dude, they joust AND event, I mean, c'mon).  If you follow Jen's blog, you know 2013 was a true F-you from the universe year for them and she and I have chatted often through gmail about the heartbreak and poverty of horses.  But we also have shared the magic and the irreplaceable joy they bring with them. 

If you have not seen her new and adorable-to-an-illegal-level partner, Paddington the Haffie, you need to go check out his blond charmingness now (he's kinda hard to miss)!!!  Oh, and her husband was nice too.  (*wink* TFS loved you, Sean!!!)  And they are movie commericial stars now!

Sean photographs Jen photographing Encore mugging the carrot lady.
Awesome Jen, the most bestest Solo, and the most dorkiest me (I love my llama hat, I found it in Ecuador!  Solo not-so-covertly checks to see where that 5-lb bag of carrots went.

Speaking of getting together with other bloggers and sharing laughs (hey, it's better than crying), I discovered several changed and new networks for horse bloggers that you may have noticed in my sidebar (that I'm still working on, arg!).  There is still the great Haynet, but there is a new group just starting on Google+ (I know, BUT interwebz rumours are that FB is on its way out for businesses/marketing and G+ is gaining ground) -- join Horse Blogger's Network and help make it awesome!

Many of you probably already know the Horsebloggers group, which I THOUGHT I was a part of.  However, it appears they have updated their site and I found I was no longer on the list, horrors!  So head over and check, you may need to re-add your blog to the directory.

Happy blogging and here's to sound horses and a COMPLETELY UNEVENTFUL (hear that, universe???!!) 2014!

January 4, 2014

A Little Video Of Solo And I Playing Bareback In The Winter

I didn't feel like getting the tack out so, I just looped the lead rope around and hopped on.  Sorry, I was so excited about the new indoor I finally completed at the new farm, I forgot my helmet!


In all seriousness, though, Satchmo is and always will be an amazing horse and his partnership with Isabell has that rare quality which surpasses talent and skill and training and resides in the realm of heart and magic.  Enjoy.

January 2, 2014

Are You Riding Your Horse Or Just Reacting To Him?

Well, everyone has ambitious lists for 2014 and lovely summaries of the past year & I have enjoyed reading each one (although I am going to admit that The Owls Approve is my favourite, pure awesome) -- I hope that horses stay sound & safe & riders get to achieve even more than they thought!


I'm not one for goal lists, which is not to say that I am goal-less, but perhaps since my brain has never acquiesced to operating in a linear fashion, it doesn't understand partaking in that process.  My heart still burns for the T3DE jog strip & a little part of me was hoping I could qualify Encore for Southern Eighths in May, but I know that is both fiscally impossible & an unfair level of sudden pressure for my horse.  I know, as part of the event staff, we want people to ENTER ENTER ENTER, & every inch of me wants to fill out that form, but I can't do it alone, I need my partner to be ready too!

There are no guarantees that we will even be able to compete at all this year, as all of my money has fallen into a sinkhole named Flying Solo Farm.  Any of you who have hung around here long enough know that I do not event for the competition, but it IS the only way you get to run a correctly designed, marked, & wonderful cross country course.  Why do you think we put up with all the other craziness, duh?!!

Appalachian mountain high.
I'll Take My Favourite Rides

I hope that we can make it out a little, as I'd like Encore to get some more formal Training Level experience, but honestly, I take just as much delight (well, more, due to lowered stress level!) & education from getting out to lessons & the trail fitness adventures of BFF & I.  Schooling, miles of trots & canters through the woods, fine-tuning skills, those are all things I will be able to do, & for FREE since I can ride out the back gate (all that searching pays off!).

The Big Goal

There is one thing that I want to drill into my body & mind (what's left of it) this year, however.  It may seem small, but the past years of watching & listening oh so carefully have shown me that it defines the effective, thinking rider:

I want to become significantly more aware & more consistent of riding the HORSE & riding the gait/movement/line I want & not riding the horse's behaviour.

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...
I've improved over time, but I still fall into that trap we all know when your horse spooks or resists or has a 'moment' & you react.  You might kick him or yell at him or smack him with the whip. 

When instead, an effective rider just. keeps. riding.  She does not change her request, her position, or her goal.  She informed the horse, "We are going to trot a 20 metre circle, connected, & forward, & in the shape of an actual circle."  And that's it, she RIDES the circle.

The horse may throw his head or wiggle or be excited or get distracted or do all those things that horses do, but he will come back to find the same set of aids creating the same space & energy for him to move in. 

THAT is what I want to achieve for Encore more often.  It is a big little thing because it is a huge mental challenge to remain that patient & focused & non-reactive (even when I'm not on the horse).

It's even harder when it's 98 degrees & 4500% humidity.

So I suppose that is my goal for 2014:  to ride my horse(s), as simple (and as difficult) as that.