SUBSCRIBE TODAY Smiley face  Get updates via email! 

We Are Flying Solo

September 30, 2013

Back In The...Show Ring!

Fitness, thbpitness.  Eh, I think it's naptime anyway.
It was really sort of a ridiculous decision.

Encore came sound last Friday, bruises healed and body restored, a little over a week before the CT we completed yesterday.  In some form of horse-show-withdrawal frenzy, I scribbled his name onto entry forms and shoved them through the mail slot without much consideration of details.

Just little things, like, oh, test preparation (we haven't taken a dressage lesson since the beginning of July), or the fact that Encore hadn't seen coloured jump poles in three months, or the teeny issue that his rider was just as winded and out of shape as he was.

Lucky for us, his TB magic meant that with a concerted effort to ride/long line/hot walk him every day until the show, he regained more than adequate condition to perform two phases on a lovely fall day.  His rider had a generous crew who kept a bottle of gatorade and a granola bar close at hand so there were no dramatic fainting episodes and only a little gasping for breath.

Suzpension iz hard.
Leading up to the competition, Sunday-Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday-Friday-Saturday became long line-dressage-jump-hot walker-long line-dressage-hack.  I was baffled to discover that Thursday and Friday's trot/canter transitions had become flying bucks akin to a Lippizaner's greatest triumph.  Until it occurred to me that after what amounted to six weeks off for foot healing, Junior Pony was probably a bit sore after being thrown back into schooling every day.  They weren't long or particularly demanding sessions, but certainly awoke slumbering muscles in his hiney!  Hence Friday and Saturday's liberal application of Sore No More and a slow walking hack through woods and fields on Saturday to stretch and relax mind and body.  Hey, it worked.  Sorry, dressage judge, no entertainment for you!

Tip:  Sore No More contains witch hazel (which you can also buy on its own by the jug at the drug store).  Wait until the horse's body cools down completely and then begin rubbing it into the muscles.  Any areas where there are knots, tension, or heat will cause the liquid to foam up a little as you gently rub it in, indicating a sore spot.  You can then massage that spot some more or identify stretches or alternative techniques to relax and rest those a
Enter Working Cute.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little stunned that this all paid off.  We've not exactly had a run of amazing luck over the past two years and I'd just spent way more time and money getting my horse sound once again than I would have liked.  BUT IT WORKED.

In warmup, I focused on riding correctly and accurately and made sure to leave enough time before my test to do a little trot work next to the actual show arena so he could relax there (I've always rushed that part too  much in the past).  While he did sometimes get looky and tight in his neck and jaw in the arena, especially his corners, he was pretty obedient, there was NO acrobatic bucking, and that entering centerline felt really damn good (and nailed us an 8!!!!).  All of the judge's comments were spot on and helpful, encouraging us to work on creating more jump and straightness in the canter (oh lady, if only you knew how awesome it was that we HAVE a sound canter on both leads), and better bend where it is called for (definitely agreed!).

But he is finding that suspension!!!
He earned himself a SECOND 8 on his first medium walk and 7's on both impulsion and submission (o.m.g. we finally have some submission) in his collective marks.  I could not be prouder and I admit to squeaking with startled glee when the leaderboard whispered that Encore had nailed a 34.8.  With only one week of schooling, my earnest kiddo was only one point away from Solo's best score of all time.

Sure, I be dressage poneh, whatevs.
We've got the step, just need the jump!

We then had somewhere around 2.5 minutes to change tack and be ready to jump.  I confess, I wasn't thrilled about the horses not getting much of a break between the two, but it did mean that your jumping warmup merely required hopping over something a few times to get them thinking forward and over and you were good to go.  And that he was -- as soon as we entered the competition ring, a firecracker lit up underneath me.  Encore hadn't tackled a course in three months either and he fairly vibrated with excitement.  The whistle blew and we were off.

I sendz telepathik Cuna-thankz youz!
The detail-oriented among you might notice something different in our jumping outfit.  In a gesture of amazing generosity, the wonderful SprinklerBandit we all know and love from her adventures with the mighty Cuna and the new protege, Courage, sent us an incredible gift while she was sorting out her tack collection.  I found it on my porch after work last week, definitely one of the best ways to end my day in recent memory!

So in honour of the badass-ness of the Cuna/SB mastery of mad skillz, Encore very proudly wore (and I had long coveted) the gorgeous chocolate and powder blue Five Star Tack breastplate (which is just as exquisite in real life as I imagined) originally sported by Cuna during his reign of glory.  Encore must have absorbed some magic from the Cuna-dust in the elastic because we put in the first double-clear stadium round I can remember in a long time.  He was bold, he was rock-steady, and he galloped through the finish flags begging for more.  Oh, and his mom tried really hard to ride properly and WAIT for him.  It helps, really.

Thank you, Aimee and Cuna, we will strive to live up its legacy!!!

2'11"??  Heck, I'll take 3'11", mom, bring it!!!

The elegant beadwork of his Topline Leather browband just sets off that classy TB profile!
We went home a tired bunch, but oh-so-pleasantly-surprised with our fluttering white reward. My spirits are buoyed indeed for next week's cross country lesson with David and then...HORSE TRIAL.

Good pony.  Cute pony.  Honest pony.  At the moment, sound pony!  Who could ask for more?

September 24, 2013

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: One Farm

That's right, the ink is on the dotted line.  The closing is closed, the authorization is authorized.  Flying Solo Farm is owned by me, with deep gratitude for the help from the mom.  Well, really by the bank, but they let me put my name on it.


Just trying it on for size...

The gravel guy's number is on my phone so he can put down a base on the driveway.  Then, when the building permit is printed, all the trucks can begin rumbling back there:  well driller, backhoe for septic tank, crane for house situating.  Me for spying and obsessing and stalking. 

Oh yeah, and I had to learn to drive one of these (thanks for the lesson, Brian!), because my little riding mower ain't gonna cut it:

Ah found mah bukket!!

September 18, 2013

Rested, Restored, And Ready To Run?

Yes please.
Dr. Bob knows how hard I work for my horses.  He knows the hours I spend toiling, studying, watching, searching, and fine-tuning every aspect of their existence to give them the best I can.  So it made me feel a little less paranoid when, as he stepped out of his truck Tuesday morning, he said, "I'm hoping I can give you some good news for a change today so you can finally catch a break!"

You and me both, buddy, you and me both.  At least it wasn't just me who felt like the dice kept rolling against us just enough to keep us from, you know, actually doing anything.  I could only keep chanting my life mantra:  nothing lasts forever, nothing lasts forever...

Stuff blew out everywhere.
I had spent the last six weeks dutifully feeding bute, painting on Durasole (thanks for the reminder of its much-loved magic, Yvonne!) and strapping and re-strapping fly boots (thanks, Allie!) and examining every surface and crevice on Encore's four bruised-up feet for any signs of emerging abscess or other "nasties" (hey, that's the term my vet uses, so it's real now!).

As directed, I'd kept him in very light work on grass; even though we knew his hips were out of whack and he was sore, he still needed to do some gentle walking and trotting to keep the blood pumping in his feet, speeding healing and exorcising all evils.  He was all kinds of cattywompus, but after three to four weeks, I felt the footiness subside until all that remained was his out-of-whack hind end and poll.

Check out where that back meridian on top goes!
The latter two were a result of his compensation for his foot soreness.  Interestingly, because of the way the muscles and nerves work, many times a hind end lameness can manifest through a jammed or resistant feeling in the horse's poll on the opposite side.  Even the ancient rules of acupuncture acknowledge this connection, which is pretty remarkable if you consider acupuncture itself dates back to the Stone Age and the use of metal needles dates to at least 113 BC!!

I told Dr. Bob that I believed that he had finally worked out that last significant bruise in his left front foot and, miracle of miracles, had not developed abscesses in any of them.  At times, I am hesitant to make any assertions, as it can be difficult to detect small things in all the colours and dirt layers of a hoof.  But the hoof testers backed me up and I had to let out a giggle of excitement.

Next we had Encore's long-awaited chiropractic adjustment to put all that cattywompus back where it belonged.  Dr. Bob had informed me that yes, he could have adjusted him two weeks ago when we were at the clinic, but it would all get thrown right back out again since Encore was still compensating a bit, so instead of wasting time and money, it was better to hold tight until his feet felt good (this is a vet you keep!).

Not Encore, but that is his favourite stretch!
My big brown beast leaned into the stretches with relish, licking his lips as joints popped and settled from his poll to his tailbone.  Happily, his mid-back was solid so his spring vertebral injections were still doing their trick and his withers and hips quickly fell into line.  I was glad we had decided to inject his hocks six weeks ago; even though they do not have arthritic changes, they were sore from compensatory motion and were now swinging freely and their range of motion was as good or better than ever!  It was with great satisfaction that I watched him trot off across the pasture already looking pretty darn normal again.

Dr. Bob went merrily along his way (significantly more financially merry) after a hearty congratulations and Encore was free to rest and meander around his pasture.  The latter will get today off in case of any soreness from the adjustments and then, I will swing a leg back over to....dare I hope?...bring him back into work.

Don't leave us behind, fall season, we're trying to catch up!!

September 17, 2013

Contest Winners For The Win!!

I plead guilty; this particular eventer has been buried in busy, putting out fire after proverbial fire.  I barely dare to hope it, but we do finally have some positive news:  Dr. Bob inspected and adjusted Encore this morning and pronounced his feet no longer sore, the bruises healed, and his body on the upswing at last!!!  I'd tell you about the show I want to enter but I know what that would cause!

First, however, I owe you entertaining contest winners who will each receive Absorbine goodies, as announced at the end of July.  We had some valiant pieces of gear, still working hard despite taking an awesome beating!  So without further ado, I give you the winners of our 2013 Absorbine TryPak "My Crap Is Redneckier Than Your Crap" contest!!  If you are a winner and you want your swag, drop me an email with your name and shipping address and stuff will be drop-shipped from Absorbine.

East Bound shares her paddock boots (and badass lime green socks) complete with holes, broken zippers, broken snaps, and the tried and true attachment method of "eh, the spurs will keep them from falling off."

Jana shares my dedication to a good pair of gloves.  Who needs ten fingers anyway?

Andrea built a chambon out of....I don't even know how many random parts!  Win for ingenuity!

Stephanie is determined to just keep patching her blankets!  Why get new ones when these are good and broken in?

 Rebekah combined bedraggled half chaps with hay-string cobbled boots for a stylish schooling look!

And our friend, CalmForwardStraight, personlizes her arena drag.

Congratulations and thanks to everyone who sent in a picture!!  If you could please send me your shipping information by the end of this week, as I've kept Absorbine waiting long enough!  Keep on styling and you will always be a Rider With Character!