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We Are Flying Solo

October 24, 2011

The Most Fun You Can Have On A Horse

It's the first time they experience cross country, the way their whole body comes alive with excitement when they realize that, hey, my job is FUN!  It's impossible to hide my ridiculous grin when I feel that joie de vivre pulsating beneath me and the exuberant leaps over tiny logs hardly worth a step.  A horse's first eventing experience is indeed an exercise in uninhibited glee.  But I will let the pictures tell the best stories -- thanks to lifeshighway and our friend, Cindy, who both manned media recording devices to capture the Encore debut.

Someone thought my hairnet wearing skills were hilarious awesome.

The unicorn is all ready for dressage.


I can't say I was overly thrilled with some of the judge's comments -- I get a little irritated when they write "could be rounder" on an Intro test.  The point of the Intro tests as marked on the score sheets and judging guidelines is a horse who moves forward into a steady contact with a clear rhythm.  If they know how to go round, then they should be at a higher level! 

Nonetheless, I was THRILLED with my boy.

For the photographer's caps of us, you can click here.  If that site gets you lost, we actually have pictures under #62 and #63 (62 was a friend of ours who scratched the day before, perhaps the photographer got confused?)

Now I'm jumping poneh.

Tying your own pinney:  always an exercise in contortion.

The blue stripey jump
Stadium jumping was quite the adventure for baby Encore!  He was so busy staring at the XC horses during our warmup that it took a few tries to get over the oxer, but eventually he managed to pay attention.  The course was VERY bright and colourful (you can see the jumps as expertly demonstrated by Solo here).  As Encore trotted into the ring, he was game to try but I'm not sure he'd really figured out what he was supposed to do yet!  Having never jumped a course before, I just wanted him to take his time and let the course educate him.  The second jump on course, though, was the one with the crazy blue striped sail standards (at right, with Solo at Novice) and here Encore picked up a baby stop, running out to the left.  I don't think he'd really focused on the task at hand, so I turned him back around to the right and represented.  He jumped it very willingly and then I felt him click and go Ohhhh, I get it now!  It's ON!  And the rest of the course.....went off without a hitch!  Giant daffodil standards, pink, orange, black and white spots, even a skinny on top of a mound -- no problem.  He had it all worked out.

Which left us....the start box.  That crazy Thoroughbred walked in, sighed, cocked a foot, and stood licking his lips as my favourite starter counted us down.  At which point I promptly forgot to turn my helmet cam on.  Devastated sobs.  But for most of the course, I looked like this (sorry for the blur.  And what happened to my breastcollar?):

And Encore looked like this:

My goal was to have him finish happily, but not run around like a crazy horse.  As Allie Conrad told me, with great wisdom:  A quiet mind is a trainable mind.  So we attempted to trot each jump (ok, there were a couple deliciously uphill canters) and upon landing, we would return to trot and sometimes even walk.

A few extra great candid shots of Cindy and her Percheron/Friesian Diesel (aka Big D) who also competed Sunday and landed a freaking SWEET 37!  We were so proud of these two, they have worked so hard and D is not an easy horse.  But he has a good heart, a fun jump, and a really great canter and they deserve all the success in the world!

Big D can turn on the charm.
I'm not sure if this is a smile or a grimace.  Oh wait, it's before dressage.  Definitely a grimace, then.
Not everyone can rock my awesome coaching boots like this.  Don't be jealous.
Big D and Mini D!  This pony was adorable.

Don't let the body fool you, this guy can JUMP.
Don't look so excited about the sandbox...
Remember to breathe....

See, mom, I can dressage....
This is what makes it all worthwhile....
 I couldn't be more thrilled with our day and I couldn't be happier with Encore's performance.  He came through those finish flags high on life (possibly egged on by me yelling GOOD BABY for the entire course, which reportedly could be heard back at the start box...ummmm....) and I gave him a giant hug.  I can't wait to see what happens next...


  1. Wow that is great! Go Encore! Future event pony :)

  2. What a top day. Well done Encore!

  3. I can't wait! Looks like sooo much fun!

  4. PICTUREZ!! He looks awesome already!

  5. What a fantastic outing! Congrads to you both!!!

  6. I love it when you can hear people loudly praising their horse after each jump! It just makes you appreciate that they went over it that much more. :)

  7. Very Cool!!

    (and I agree about judges who write "could be rounder" on an intro test.)

    So excited for you!

  8. Woohoo, what a good boy Encore!

  9. How awesome! There is one picture of Encore and he has such a look in his eye. I can almost hear him saying, "OK! Let's do this." What a great horse!

  10. First events are the best and you both rocked it! Yay!!!!!!!!!1

  11. Heart of gold he has! Lucky girl! So happy for both of you.

  12. Um...Waredaca in a few years. I just know it!!! He is such a nice young man! I agree with Albigears, I want to hear the rider praise and talk to the horse out on course, the relationship just shines through in those moments. You guys looked awesome, and, um...I. want. Big D!!

  13. Oh, you eventers and your hatred of dressage! ;)

    Just remember, it serves a very, very good purpose.

  14. Thank you all!!!

    Sonya -- go do it, it rocks!

    ariesianna -- that is exactly his attitude, it's great!

    Alana, Diesel is a really fun horse, he is a blast to jump, Cindy doesn't know how lucky she is, make sure and tell her!

    YE -- I don't hate dressage really, I grew up in it and very much enjoy teaching it to my horses and reaping the benefits. But DANG, I sure wish it wasn't in events, I hate doing it at shows, LOL, just let us gallop and jump for our scores!!

  15. I sure can see that big grin of yours on X-Country! :-) I'm glad you guys both had so much fun. Obviously picking one for his mind was a Really. Good. Idea. because personally, I'd be a bit nervous on a recently-retired OTTB on a cross-country course... but Encore seems to be so willing and calm that you were just fine. Very impressive!

  16. Listening To Whoa is definitely high on my priority list when I get on a horse, RW!