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We Are Flying Solo

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!


  1. Wow, you guys look awesome, I love the pictures! Don't worry, I've actually done that before too. So embarrassing, but at least you had an awesome ride, minus the pilot error :)

  2. Making mistakes will only make you better! ONe time I DOUBLE E myself for crossing the finish line twice while still doing my course. Silly humans, You'll rock it next time!And at least you jump really well!

  3. oh and I ABSOLUTELY loved the lady taping for you! Her "good boys" and "get up theres". Love it.

  4. Hey DFL is better than the Big FE! You guys do look great! So did the gal behind the camera that was so loving cheering you on think that was the end too?

  5. Hahaha, yes, that was our dear EHF -- she did a GREAT job crewing for Solo and I this weekend and videoing for us!! We were ever so grateful for her support!!

    And yes, we all thought the course only had 8 jumps, oops!

  6. Hey mistakes suck, but sounds like you had an awesome go! Congrats.

  7. OK, definitely a bit of a blonde moment there; but YES, it's certinly better to have an air-headed little mistake than have a knock-down or refusal. I'm sure next event you'll make damn sure you know the course by heart!

  8. Yes, we avoided the big E! And yep, Frizz, I'll be DAMN sure I know my courses next month!!!

  9. Ah yes, a mistake you only make once. Now just make sure you don't jump the whole course backwards.... Not that I would have any idea about that!

  10. ROFL, molly, I have jumped single jumps backwards at schooling shows before. Upon being informed of my goofy move, I was like, ohhh, that's why that line seemed so crazy hard! D'oh!