SUBSCRIBE TODAY Smiley face  Get updates via email! 

We Are Flying Solo

April 30, 2011

Why Do We Keep Doing This?

Solo's had the week off while I have been dragging boats through the mud at work.  Even while being attacked by nettles and mosquitoes, I was coasting on a multi-day post-horse-trial high. 

I finally got back in the saddle in today's perfect sunshine and we took to the woods.  Between flushing turkeys and quiet rat snakes, under crying catbirds and bickering redtails, there was plenty of time to breathe and think.

Shouldn't you be annoyed, my brain queried?  You finished LAST, out-competing only those poor souls who had the shoddy luck to get eliminated.

Yeah, I told its annoying whine, but 2/3 of it was a GREAT ride.

I made mistakes.  Big mistakes.  I'm pretty sure anyone watching me thought, oh dear, that poor girl, who let her in?  So by all rights, I should be mad about it, right?

Here's the thing:  I'm still thrilled about it.  And THAT is the reason I love this sport, the reason all my friends are rolling their eyes because I sound like this:  "eventing horse horse eventing eventing eventer horse jump eventing eventing horse evented eventing."

It's because at the end of the day, it's not all about the ribbon.  Although note that I will still squeal like a little girl if I ever win a ribbon.

But what it's all about is my journey with my horse. 

It's all about how exciting that round, powerful jump felt underneath me on Sunday because that jump didn't exist two years ago.

It's all about the lessons in pace and balance I finally managed to digest and apply to my courses.

It's all about seeing myself finally starting to THINK while I am riding.

It's all about my pride watching my red horse grow and develop into an athlete.

It's all about the sheer joy of watching his ears search out and lock onto obstacles, showing me that he knows and loves his job.

That is why I'm not mad.  Because the only person I am competing with is myself.  The only test is whether we can go out there and put in a better performance than we did the time before, whether we can conquer harder tasks with a more developed skillset.

Because when we're out there on course and my center is balanced over Solo's and I can feel the energy from his hind legs finally pushing up into the bridle and I can fly on the arc of his bascule over a broad table, I know exactly what it's all about.   When I can feel that, it doesn't matter if I am first or 20th or 500th.

There, in that moment, there is no question why we do it.  There is only the doing and the fervent hope that we get the chance to do it again.

April 28, 2011

Long Dazed And Confused At Longleaf: Part III

After sleeping off Saturday's exhaustion, Sunday's task seemed so simple:  jump one little course and then go home.  Easy peasy, right?  Ha!

Back in my magistrate suit I went -- only, no, wait, blessed be all things, jackets were waived!! The heat and humidity climbed and as a result, I was given a reprieve from the silly outfit!

I walked the course early in the morning with C and EHF and watched some Training and Prelim rides. I had it down pat.

Only to discover as the Training divisions ended that the Novice course was completely different. Of course it was.

EHF and I dutifully walked the course again. Bobby Costello was out with that damn cute puppy, so we had to take a break for some petting as well. EHF was drawn in by the puppy eyes...

The time came. Warmup felt good. I concentrated hard on jumping Solo up into the bridle as per David's instructions. Keep the leg on, keep the hand soft, but stay connected to the horse...

We went into the arena and we rode all 8 jumps. It felt fantastic. I rode forward to each jump, kept Solo balanced and focused, and the distances just happened as we rolled along in rhythm. I only wobbled at the combination - Solo wasn't quite in front of my leg, I peeked a little at the first element, which the previous horse had refused, and we got a bit of a bumpy ride there, but it was all clean.

I was STOKED! THAT is how we are supposed to ride! I patted my boy and rode to the exit gate after 8 successful leaps. The ring steward stared at me and would not lower the string.

I glanced around worriedly. Was I supposed to do a trick to get out? Had I forgotten some secret ritual? Then I noticed the time clock.

It was still running.

"Hey, my time is still going!" I told the steward. "Yes, it is," she answered cryptically. I look around some more, standing by the gate in a confused stupor.

"Number 9! Number 9!" I hear some guy muttering from his golf cart.

Pssshhh, I thought, 9 isn't my number, why is that guy so weird??

Finally, I look behind me and damned if there isn't NINE JUMPS ON THE COURSE. "OMG, I am a moron," I groan, as I turn Solo and make a beeline for the last jump, which he clears neatly.

We were just standing by the gate pondering the best approach to the last jump. I swear. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

So we have 347 time faults or so and apparently if you stop and stand there for a while in the middle of your course, you get 4 jumping faults, but I'm still laughing. And the judges are laughing, as I am sure are many of the spectators. Well, at least I can entertain a crowd!  Sadly, this is not captured on video because EHF thought we were done too!!!

In the end, we finished DFL, but I feel good about it. I feel like this was the most educational and most useful of all our horse trial experiences. Despite my pilot errors, my riding was the best and most relaxed it has ever been in competition. Solo's jump rounds were both round and powerful and miles ahead of where we were a year ago.

Bring it, Virginia!

For more action shots, check out the always-beautiful work of Brant Gamma -- she captured some great stills of Solo and although I hardly need more pictures of my horse jumping things, I am sorely tempted by a few of these. Brant and her team always produce gorgeous images; they are not the cheapest but I do my best to support them because they do an exquisite job!

April 27, 2011

Long Daze At Longleaf: Part II

EHF poses with our first XC jump
And then it was me & Solo. Two hearts pounding along with the gallop. Two sets of eyes hunting for the next jump. A hot wind in my ears mixed with the rush of air from Solo's nostrils. The universe ceased to exist except for me & my horse & a galloping track.

I had a plan. I wanted to try to stay close to pace instead of simply letting Solo gallop at HIS pace, which always brings me to the finish line a full minute early.  I knew we had five open gallopy jumps to warm up over until we got to an extremely tough bending line at 6 (feeder)-7 (wide ditch)-8 (rolltop) that I think could more accurately be described as a bent, stretched out coffin (photos below).

Then the rest of the course was simple fly jumps, banks, & ponds that we had all jumped before.  The point of this entire competition was to prepare us for Virginia & our big move-up.  The score didn't matter; what mattered was that Solo & I emerged with a clear idea of what we needed to work on as well as a sense of confidence & preparedness to tackle what was to come.

Jump 6 -- Feeder

Jump 7 -- Ditch; child hazard removed before jumping

Jump 8 -- Rolltop directly following ditch

We ran smoothly together, Solo eagerly seeking out each jump. He took a huge launch at 3, a tall brush fence at the bottom of the hill. It felt like flying. It WAS flying. We clocked along the front field and crossed the steeplechase track to the infield, where our metaphorical -- and soon to be less so -- coffin awaited us. It started well.

I sat down and put my leg and eye on that ditch. Solo cleared it with a teensy bit of room to spare...

If you walk right in front of a camera, yes, I WILL post your saggy britches online.

I was so excited -- we were rocking and the lurking ditch was vanquished!! Yeeeha...shit.

Someone celebrated their ditch victory a little bit too early.  And forgot to RIDE the third jump.  Son of a #@#$@%!!!  And the helmet cam tells no lies -- when I felt Solo waver on our crooked and disorganized approach following the enormous ditch leap, I apparently stared at the jump.  A big Solo no-no.  NEVER STARE AT THE BASE OF YOUR JUMP.  To Solo, that means "it is obviously deadly, do not go here.

We were fine on re-present, but you can't take back those 20 penalties.   This would bump us from the middle of the pack where we were tied for 13th out of about 24 or so, down to 16th.

Important lesson: never celebrate before you cross the finish line and never NEVER lose your focus on course. 

But it was a lesson I was glad to have -- as my courses get bigger and more technical, it's a critical and well-timed reminder that I need to be a thinking rider 100% of the time.  Combinations, related lines, and curves are soon to be a very real part of our competitions and this really drilled home what it will take to come home clean and safe at the next level.

I know you already scrolled through this whole post looking for the helmet cam video, so here it is.  BUT, I'm not thrilled with this one.  Somehow the lens has ended up so you have to tilt your head to the left while watching.  Must fix before next use.  It's a learning curve.  I hate it when things don't cooperate according to the perfect little plan in my head.  Like my entire life.    

Pace goal:  achieved.  I was only about 10 seconds off the optimum time.  Learning goal:  TOTALLY achieved.  Strengths & weaknesses clearly pointed out.  Now it was time to tuck Solo in again & start thinking about the coloured poles that Sunday would bring...

I am now going to sleep off a long field day which included three hours of more winching of boats & trucks in the slickest mud I have ever met on the steepest, most rutted hill I think we have yet managed to find.  After you unwind 40 meters of steel cable for the 4th or 5th time, you're kind of over it.  The next person I meet who says government workers don't do anything is going to get punched in the face.

April 26, 2011

Long Days At Longleaf: Part I

After spending all of today winching trucks up muddy hills at work and then pulling into a hotel standing in the midst of last week's North Carolina tornado carnage, my brain is not quite functional.  My apologies.

I feel confident saying that this weekend was the most educational horse trial I have ever competed in. I feel equally confident saying that I hope to god no one was watching.

After a rainy Friday spent packing and buzzing around picking up last minute items, I loaded up one Solo and one Eminently Helpful Friend (EHF) who, in some enormous lapse in judgement, had agreed to come and crew for us. We managed to pull in to the Carolina Horse Park right at 8:00 pm with just enough light to bed Solo down and drag our tired selves to bed.

I leaped out of bed with a smile when the alarm went off at 4:30 am on Saturday morning, unable to wait one more second for dressage in the sandbox. No, you're right, I cursed and groaned and stumbled blindly about in the dark. I can't believe I do this for 'fun.' I believe EHF contemplated multiple ways to off me and take the truck keys. But we managed to get Solo his breakfast so that I could prep for my horrendous 7:42 dressage ride time.  Because who doesn't look awesome dressed like an 18th century English magistrate?

Because we'd had some struggles with dressage saddle fit this week, I elected to ride in my close contact saddle for all three phases. But I knew Solo's problem went deeper as soon as we got to the foggy mudhole which was the warmup. His jaw was so locked that I couldn't convince him to bend to the left. He felt even underneath me and moved forward well enough, all that was left to do was do the best we could. *sigh* I think I would pass out from shock if we ever got to do a dressage test at a horse trial where Solo and I were relaxed and at our best at the same time. But because one of my promises to this blog is honesty, I'm posting the test anyway.

The judge was far kinder than me and gave us a 37 and called Solo a "neat horse." I actually did NOT ride with my body in death clench while holding my breath for three full minutes, so that's an improvement. But Solo did not go well. I was frustrated for both of us because he is capable of truly lovely movement and I want people to really see him shine. But it was over and done with, so at least we could move on to the fun parts.

Stabling next to us were two Area II Adult Rider friends; R, with his lovely Prelim horse, and C, with her charming Training gelding.  And C always travels with my best event buddy, Russell the Russell, the only terrier I have ever actually loved.  He is so....un-terriery, I want to squeeze him until he pops in a ball of white fur!  It is always nice to be able to share dressage commiseration.  Although both C and R had quite nice tests so I suspect they were just being accomodating...  *suspicious glance*

Besides having heaps of great Adult Riders, Area II is a place where, if you forget to set the parking brake on your truck, you will probably run over a USET-type rider. Over the course of Saturday morning, C introduced me to both Holly Hudspeth and Bobby Costello. Hopefully I managed to keep some semblance of a normal look on my face when conversing with either. I was particularly impressed with Bobby -- he was open, friendly, hilarious, and ever-present through the entire event with cheerfulness oozing out of him, even when he was helping check folks like bleary-eyed me in when we appeared for dressage warmup at oh-dark-thirty Saturday morning.  Oh, and he has the cutest puppy OF ALL TIME.  USEF clearly missed out by passing him over for an eventing team coach, but I have to say, I'm a little bit selfishly glad that we get to keep him.

But then it was afternoon and it was time to gear up for our cross country round. I'd dutifully walked my course and set my watch and visualized my run and charged the helmet cam. Solo was booted and taped and bounced out of the stall -- I swear he knows what the cross country boots feel like! 

We sent EHF off with camera in hand and made our way down the long trail to the warm up, where, after Solo got over being a barn sour Shetland, we set our sights on the startbox.  Our very favourite starter was hard at work keeping everyone on schedule while making sure we all started our courses with a smile.

And it was time. As I pushed record on the helmet cam, little did I know what was in store over the next five and a half minutes. All I heard were my nine favourite words:

5...4...3...2..1...Have a great ride!!

April 21, 2011


The O is for Owner. In case you wondered.

Lesson: do not fire off an angry email to your saddle fitter because you are exhausted and frustrated and you had a bad day. They are not actually your best friend so they won't get that you are just tired and frustrated. They may get quite offended and take it personally. Oops. My bad.

On the other side of a long night, I have decided I will not put Solo up for auction on eBay as things are probably all my fault anyway, in some way shape or form. We can only work with what we have. Today is "nice hack in the woods" day and tomorrow he gets to just have a bath and chill out in his pre-competition day off. Hopefully, he won't hold a grudge.

I have just dropped my entry for for the Virginia Horse Trials in the mailbox -- for Training Level. No takey-backeys now. Next month we'll have to take a deep breath and go for the big game.

We've also got our ride times for Longleaf Pines this weekend. I must have pissed off the organizer.

Dressage: Saturday at 7:42 am. Owwwwww. 
Cross Country: Saturday at 1:44 pm. Hmmm, maybe enough time for a nap.
Stadium: Sunday afternoon in reverse order of placing.

You will be able to watch and groan/cheer here with live scoring.

April 20, 2011


Not familiar with that acronym? Well, it is what I own: a Stupid F*cking Horse.

Just in case you thought life with Solo was all sunshine and rainbows, I am here to reassure you that that is certainly NOT the case.

Sunday, we had a brilliant cross country school. We did our first ever true sunken road: a 3' log in, two strides, drop off bank, two strides, up bank, two strides, jump log out. We also schooled our first prelim-type of water question which ended with an up bank out of the water and one stride to a big log. Solo didn't get it at first: what the why is this log so close to the edge and what am I supposed to do about it? But we worked it out and he got it.

A decent dressage school last night, although Mr. Fussy Pants was in fine form. He did give me some really lovely uphill, slow, cadenced canter work that made me giggle with happiness.

Then tonight. SFH. My goal was to do a single run-through of our test for Saturday, which is Novice Test B (I HATE Test B). Instead, I got SFH hanging on the left rein, fighting me at every bend, chomping at the bit, cocking his head, and generally being a fury-inducing beast.

It wasn't pretty.

Some of it may well be due to what appears to be a continuous change in saddle fit (let me fully express my saddle fit rage sometime), but really, it is NOT dramatic enough to merit all out rebellion.

SFH is lucky that I am at least courteous enough to release my fury in a series of exclamations that would make children's ears melt off, but I do not, say, beat my horse. I try to keep my aids steady even though I am not speaking very nicely at all.

Oh well, he doesn't speak English.

I am sure he will redeem himself at some point, but for now, I will pout.

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...

April 15, 2011

Thank You

I wanted to express my deepest gratitude for each of your comments and emails regarding Smokey.  The thoughtfulness and compassion that I have observed has taken me quite by surprise and my appreciation is immeasurable.

Smokey was a very special girl who touched an uncountable number of lives with her always-dry nose. It tore me in two to drive home from the farm with an empty truck, leaving her behind, which she always hated the most. But I see her everywhere I go and feel her huge presence in everything I do. All I can do is hope that she is enjoying her rest in the shade overlooking the spring grass and a serenade of chorus frogs.

As for Solo, he is relishing newly sprouting Bermuda grass during a few days off following his hock injections. We'll hack out on Saturday if the storms hold off and then it's down to Southern Pines for a big cross country school with David on Sunday.

April 11, 2011

On Saying Goodbye

The hardest part about enriching our lives with animals lies in the fact that they have shorter lifespans then we do.  Perhaps it is because they love so fiercely and live so openly -- a brighter fire burns more fuel.  The end result is that they break off a little piece of our heart when they go.

I am writing this today because I won't be able to do it on Wednesday.  When Dr. Bob comes and lays Smokey to rest for me.  The kindest dog I ever met deserves a tribute after sixteen and a half years of unabated love and companionship.

So this is for you, big girl, because your brown eyes will always be with me.

You have been the longest relationship of my life. When I first met you, I was a gangly sixteen. You were a timid, nondescript pound puppy who became fast friends with our bold Eskimo-cross, Sasha. You two were inseparable, so naturally, you joined her as my 4-H training project.  A little bit Shepherd, a little bit Collie, and very quickly, a big piece of my heart.

Remember when we used to get to obedience class at the county fairgrounds early and we would lie in the summer grass next to the lake? I would show you the most interesting clouds and you'd keep an eye out for squirrels.

Remember when we would visit the creek by the house and you loved it so much, you would take a galloping leap off the bank so you could relish the cool splash of the belly flop?

Remember when you and Sasha would pick some poor, unsuspecting squirrel and stalk and tag-team him each time he dared come to the ground? You two even scored a squirrel tail one time...

Remember when we would go hiking around the lake and you would catch a glimpse of a deer through the woods? You would bound into the air like your legs were on springs, Collie-flop ears all a-perk and nose working overtime with enthusiasm.

Remember when we would sled in the fresh snow behind the house and you would dash alongside our saucers, nipping at snowsuit legs and always trying to figure out where snowballs went when they hit the ground?

Remember your nemesis, the box turtle? How did he just become a seamless rock? How dare he disappear like that? You were determined to bark him out.

Remember later, when you came to join me in graduate school.  Sasha had died and you were lost in deep mourning without her.  I was 24 and you staunchly guarded my apartment against all comers, friend or foe. You rode in the creaky old elevator of the biology building, keeping a suspicious eye on the numbers, so you could visit me at work and find a new lease on life. Oh yeah, and those squirrels...

Remember long swims in Carolina lakes alongside the canoe? It always seemed to make your shoulder arthritis vanish and I saw the puppy again when you came leaping out of the water.

Remember cold nights, curled up on the couch? Your fur always kept my feet warm and your thick ruff made a welcome pillow for hugs and tears alike.

You were always there for me, always in the doorway. Always with a watchful eye on me and an ear cocked in my direction. Complete devotion, loyalty, and gentleness. You knew how to work a campfire, extracting maximum bellyrubs from all parties. You were an excellent boater, camper, hiker, traveler, and friend.

I have been proud to know you and proud to love you and you have never let me down. I can only hope that I can take the gifts and lessons of love you have given me and pass them on to others in need.

Your heart is still strong, despite your tired body. No doubt it always will be. You are free to go. You don't have to search me out anymore. You don't have to protect me anymore. You can just lie the shade of the farm trees and rest for as long as you want in the grass that you love to roll in.

But I will miss you always.

April 9, 2011

Time To Be Jealous Of The Contest Winners

That's right, the results are in from our bumper sticker drawing!

Each commenter's name was carefully cut out and placed in the official Bucket O' Possibilities. I explained the rules to Solo (no peeking and no swallowing!) and then lifeshighway presented him with the Bucket.

Solo took on his official duties with great focus and commitment.  Lifeshighway also made sure to close her eyes so as not to unfairly influence the outcome.

After I finished fishing slips of paper out of a mouthful of horse slobber, we discovered our winners!

Congratulations to Braffie of The Embarcadero, molly, and sumaclab!  Apparently Braffie had the tastiest one, sorry about the spit soaking...

Should you wish to claim your sticker, you need to email me at the address on the right so I know where to send it.  As a winner, I fully expect you to supply me with a picture of the sticker stuck to something cool (foreheads and horse butts count)!

Should you decide there just isn't room in your life for a sticker this fabulous, please contact me and let me know and I can save it for a later contest or do a redraw.

Thank you so much to all of you who participated; I am, in all honesty, shocked and delighted that you entered and that you share a part of your day with Solo and me. Solo implored me to let him choose more, as he shamelessly loves all of his internet friends.

Up next...I'll give you a hint: (1) helmet cam + (2) today's trail of choice.

Aaaand The Winners Are....

...people who will be announced later!  I know, I'm cruel.  But Solo and I are off this morning for a much-needed adventure with lifeshighway and Pete, wandering about in the woods pretending we know exactly where we are.

However, later today, I promise, I will present Solo with the Bucket O' Possibilities and the excitement will happen!!

Stay tuned...

April 7, 2011


A visitor outside my office window
Azaleas are in full bloom under the bright wings of swallowtail butterflies.  Trees are pushing out eager spring leaves.  Everything smells warm and good.

I put Solo through a brief jump school last night; my own body timing was just off at our lesson on Saturday, so I wanted to revisit the issue and thankfully this time saw better results. Solo was jumping well too. Once I remembered to keep my leg on, he bounced through a four jump gymnastic in a smooth, strong rhythm. All that dressage muscle building has really made a difference, no longer is he hurling himself over the jumps in a rush.

Our conditioning sets are improving too. Wofford says we should be cantering three four-minute sets to be fit for Training Level (which we aim to hit in May). On the 24th of March, we started with

Two five minute trot sets (two minute walk intervals between)

Two three minute canter sets (two minute walk intervals).

Last Friday, April 1st, our second conditioning day (thanks to lifeshighway generously stepping in and riding Solo for me), we had

Three five minute trot sets (two minute walk intervals)

Two four minute canter sets (two minute walk intervals).

And Solo didn't really get tired until the end of the last canter set. Which gives me great reason for rejoicing. I am confident we can add on one more four minute canter before mid-May. He always moves up a level of conditioining after a horse trial as well, which happens in...TWO WEEKS!

Most importantly, though, there are only two days left in our win-the-awesomest-bumper-sticker-ever competition, so make sure you don't miss your chance to own a piece of Sweet Solo Swag. Get your entry in before 10 AM on Saturday!

April 4, 2011

You Know You Want One -- Enter Now

Oh yes, it's here:  your opportunity to win a Team Flying Solo bumper sticker that you have been lusting after for oh-so-long.  I know, you just flop yourself down on the couch in a pout every day, thinking My life will NOT be complete until I have a TFS bumper sticker!  I am here to make sure that your existence and dreams are fulfilled.

To win, all you have to do is submit a ten-page, fully-illustrated essay to...whoa, stop typing, I'm just kidding!

To win and live a truly whole existence, all you REALLY have to do is leave a comment on this post! I am giving away three bumper stickers in this round, so you have three chances to win. Everyone's name will be put in a bucket full of beet pulp and Solo will carefully draw three lucky winners.  The contest closes this Saturday, April 9th.

If you do not wish to be identified with the dorkiness greatness of Solo and I, then I would warn you NOT to leave a comment on this post, else you may end up with a really dorky cool sticker that will tell everyone what a nerd awesome person you are.

April 2, 2011

Blown Away

Ok, I might have been a big meanie and lied to you yesterday. But I can't resist a good prank. Life is too short to take things seriously all the time. Or very often. Or ever.

This afternoon sees us just back from a jumping lesson.  In the 30 mph wind. David had us do a new exercise during our warm up death circles -- THAT WAS NOT A CIRCLE. I almost fell off Solo in shock. To supple and engage the hind leg at the trot, he simply had us leg yield away from the long side for half of its length and then leg yield back to the track before the corner. The catch is to not let that shoulder bulge in either direction. And get it done before running out of long side!

Then we picked up the canter. *sigh* Back on the circle. But David introduced some new finesse here too. To really get Solo round over his back, he had me open my inside rein to flex his neck, push him into the bend with inside leg. Then, when Solo softened and gave, to straighten him with the outside rein while riding him forward into it with both legs. It created, quite simply, a VERY awesome feeling canter and put him right THERE on my outside rein in a whole new way. My brain: OMG, THAT'S what that feels like! Solo's back was so rounded up beneath me, I felt like I was sitting on the side of an apple or something.

There were a lot of subtleties to this and a lot of feel involved. You have to keep your contact steady in both reins. The horse must keep tracking forward from behind at all times. Solo resisted and fought it with every evasion he had because it's HARD. He went sideways one way, he went sideways the other way, then he threw his head in the air, then he gaped his mouth open. Nooooooooooooo......was all he had to say about it. So you have to ride through each resistance, keeping your cues steady and consistent and then softening when he finally gives in and goes round. It is very hard work and, again, ALL about timing and feel. I can't even put into words the dozens of little nuances and adjustments I had to make. Correcting the shoulder, correcting the poll, correcting the neck, correcting the haunches. BUT, when Solo did finally soften and come round underneath me, it was an amazing feel to have him both light in my hand AND up and powerful and muscly underneath me.

Oh yeah, the jumping was ok too.

April 1, 2011

We're Going To Rolex!

I'm tired of putzing around at the lower levels, it's just...old.  I got to thinking and late last night, I made a phone call.  I wasn't sure it was possible but with a few maneuverings and a special dispensation form....Solo and I will be competing at Rolex this year!

I know it's hard to believe, but you know, it's about time they recognized the shiny awesomeness that is being wasted on smurf levels. I'm a bit worried about whether I will be able to learn how to do quartermarks for the jogs by then, but I'm going to go ahead and move up to stable with Boyd Martin until the end of April, so I'm sure he can teach me.

I'm so excited about this opportunity and invite all of you to come out and take pictures of us diving into the Head of the Lake! Ever since I was a little girl, I've watched horses dive into that iconic pool. I never dreamed that that would one day be me!