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We Are Flying Solo

January 27, 2014

2013 Adult Rider Of The Year?!

Yes, somehow, somewhere, my circle of awesome fellow USEA Area II Adult Riders have named dorky little me as the 2013 recipient of our Adult Rider of the Year award!

As is obvious to anyone who knows me, this is not an award for riding in lots of events, LOL.  I can't remember the last time I got to sit ON one of my horses...

It is generally a surprise award, given out at our annual ARII AR (har har!) meeting.  These meetings include forums, great educational talks and of course, an awards luncheon (poor girl usually sits in the hall and eats a sandwich because the lunch is very expensive).  I wasn't able to make it up this year, as it is usually in northern VA and I'm not flush with diesel money right now, so our group coordinator called me in advance to inform me of the award and ask for a few pictures. 

After I was done being shocked and honoured (ok, maybe I'm still not done), my brain was tired and it went, "OOOO, PLAY WITH HORSIE PICTURES!"  So, since I need to make sure everyone knows how dorky I am, I made a little collage and included the fabulous logo made for us by Kate over at Polar Square Designs

Hey, I'm even wearing my ARII AR shirt!
What I didn't know was that our coordinator was going to read my rambling thank you email OUT LOUD at the luncheon.  Where the keynote presenters were Evention's Dom and Jimmie Schramm (that's why I wanted to go to the meeting so I could meet those talented horse consumption impressionsits!!).  Dang, I should have included a really ridiculous face picture!

But, again, thank you so much, I really do enjoy every chance I get to participate!  And don't forget to read the wonderful story of our Horse of the Year, Santos, an exemplary horse of soul and generosity.


January 24, 2014

Speaking Of Survival

Because we all need a giggle.  Well, and it's true.

January 23, 2014

On Love, Loss, Survival, And Sharing

No such thing as too much Cuna-love
I'm tired.  And I get all weird and philosophical when I am tired.  So consider yourself warned. 

This time of year, it would take about three or four of me to do my job, so at some point, my brain switches off for a while and wanders off on its own.  My heart has been with Aimee as she grieves for her premature goodbye to the amazing Cuna-fish.  I know we are all grieving with her.  I have also been glad that she found Courage (and kept his prescient name); from the first time she emailed me his picture, I knew he would be his own kind of special.

It was magical watching the two of them somewhat reluctantly discover each other and then, as they cautiously began to lean on each other, take off on a fantastic trajectory.  I know I said it many times to Aimee, but it always made me giggle, because she had found her Solo, that red horse with an enormous heart and an opinion to match who changed my life forever too.

But physics and life demand that for every meteoric rise, every explosion of love, there must also be a fall back to earth.  Joy by definition cannot exist without its polar opposite, sorrow.  Sometimes we all wonder if having and adoring these incredible partners is equivalent to signing a contract for heartbreak.  I certainly did on that fateful day in 2011 when I realized Solo's journey to our 3DE was over.  

I suppose in a way it is a non-negotiable bargain, but at the same time, your heart cannot be broken by something unless you love it so much that it is a part of you.  Almost three years ago (which is hard to believe), I had to say the same goodbye to my beloved Smokey-dog.  She was not in constant pain, but I knew that her old body was worn out and it was only a matter of time before she injured herself, so I made the decision to spare her that frustration and loss of dignity.  Dr. Bob, well-known to Solo and Encore, helped me let her go; even though he assured me that I was giving her a great blessing and that she led a wonderful life, it didn't make it any easier.

We both climbed Table Rock when she was 15!
It still brings a lump to my throat, thinking of that day, of driving home alone with breathless sobs because all I could think was how  much she hated being left behind.  For months afterwards, I would catch myself listening for the jingle of her collar or I would almost see a glimpse of her around the hallway corner before I remembered she was gone.

But she visited me in dreams; she was warm and happy and I got to hug her in a furry silence filled with love and peace.  And the gifts and lessons and memories she gave me during her life are still carried in my heart every day. 

Thinking of losing Solo terrifies me, although I know that it is inevitable since the damn creatures won't agree to outlive us, selfish beasts that they are.  At the same time, the idea of never having met him just makes me feel...empty.  Imagining the last 7 years of my life without all of the places and adventures we shared, even the arguments, compromises, and the disappointments (ok, maybe we could have skipped a FEW of those) along the way -- how much poorer a life that would have been.  The doors that he opened, the confidence he gave me, the lessons he taught:  Solo didn't just make me a better rider, he made me a better person.

I will always miss them both.
Some of you know that my life mantra is "Nothing lasts forever."  And it has gotten me through many seemingly impossible times.  I unexpectedly lost the person who made Solo a part of my life, but I am still here. 

It applies to good things too, as even the most perfect of moments, loves, and partners are only ours for a while.  Nonetheless, I have learned to hold each of them as a treasure, no matter how fleeting, and I would not voluntarily give up any one of them to spare myself the grief.  Because that doesn't last forever either. 

So I try to collect that love and then pass it forward, because in a funny, completely unscientific way, sharing love does not reduce it, but rather multiplies it.

I will let one of my favourite poets sum up my own rambling attempts:

I would like to believe that when I die that I have given myself away like a tree that sows seeds every spring and never counts the loss, because it is not loss, it is adding to future life.  It is the tree's way of being.  Strongly rooted perhaps, but spilling out its treasure on the wind.     -May Sarton

January 16, 2014

So, There's Water Polo, How About Water Eventing?

I should probably just keep a snorkel in my truck at this point.  Even the reservoirs can't hold any more and soil that "never gets muddy" is oh so muddy.  My neighbour tells me he has never seen it this saturated, so at least now I know what to plan for.  He may be regretting selling me his high spots now...

A few of you have noticed, but out of random curiosity, I have placed a poll for you in the sidebar directly above the social media buttons.  Tell me how you get your "fresh reading material" updates and how you follow along with your favourite bloggers!

Since no story ever gets to just wrap up smoothly, despite the fact that they've started power line work and I should have electricity in two weeks (yay!), complications abound.  An insulation subcontractor who for some bizarre reason uses a single-axle dump truck (suspected to be made of lead) with a tarp over it instead of a box truck, wandered up my (completely soaked) farm driveway with half the truck off the edge, resulting a lovely mud slop.  Duly added to list for builder of "things contractors messed up" -- it is a short list, and I think an unavoidable one, but no less annoying for all of that.

The lump mid-cannon on the outside front
With perfectly synchronized timing as my financial assets hit rock bottom until my old house sells (soooo....close....), my truck decides that it might like a couple of new injectors or a driver module.  While it occasionally misfires on a couple of cylinders, I hope against hope it's a $10 wiring harness instead (yeah right), but as long as it is sporadic, after consultation with diesel mechanic, it's fine to keep driving.  It still runs so I waved goodbye and pleaded with My Precious to just be patient, as mom doesn't have $900 to feed you right now.

Feeling left out of the fun, Encore popped a lateral splint, which I discovered on Sunday.  Probably being silly in the pasture.  On the plus side, it's cold, hard, not painful and he shows no lameness while walking and uh, leaping on a packed dirt road.  I consult with Dr. Bob and monitor closely, pleading some more that it's just one of those cosmetic ones.  Just don't start limping!  At least we won't be doing much in the next couple weeks (of mud).

The reason all this is so well-timed is that the state gives this lovely little holiday gift to its employees.  We normally are paid on the last working day of the month.  However, in December, the paycheck comes in two weeks early, before the Xmas holidays.  Which means you get six whole weeks to freak out relax and practice your planning skills until January's check appears.  Two more weeks, two more weeks...


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!