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We Are Flying Solo

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.


  1. That helmet cam was awesome! Thanks for taking us along for the ride.

  2. I have been looking for this post all And you and Solo did not disappoint. Watching the video was awesome! Lessons learned and ready to move forward. Great job!!

  3. Those are some impressive jumps. Love the helmet cam.

  4. Live it. Learn it. :-)
    You guys were kickin' ass out there; too bad for the little momentary blip, but hey the other 98% was awesome!!

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  6. ahhh! Thanks for the ride, that was so totally fun! Love those red pricked ears :)

  7. Very cool! I love the cam and now I want one for myself!

  8. LOVE the helmet cam! Having never ridden xcountry it was awesome to have a front row seat. . .it gave me goosebumps. Thanks!

  9. Bah! love his little pricked ears. Thanks for posting. Watching your ride was WAY better than starting work a whole 6 minutes earlier ;)

    congrats on a productive outing!!

  10. Other than the one blip, that was a really awesome ride! It just seemed like Solo wasn't quite locked on that fence before he got to it. Oh well, lesson learned - it was a good experience, as you say!

  11. Woo Hoo! Love the helmet cam :) Congrats on a great ride!

  12. Gingham, I do my best to help people avoid work!

    I am finally back in my own home after three hotel days out doing field work. Yay!! Till next week...

    Stadium shall be forthcoming when I pull it together!

  13. As someone who doesnt do xcountry, doesnt jump, heck I dont even ride english, I ALWAYS look forward to your helmet cam posts. I love being able to live vicariously (?) through your videos.
    Thank you for sharing, and from my unexperienced view, you guys are great!