SUBSCRIBE TODAY Smiley face  Get updates via email! 

We Are Flying Solo

December 11, 2009

Frosty The Horse(Wo)Man

DEAR GOD, IT'S COLDER THAN A POLAR BEAR FART! Ok, yes, the zoologist in me realizes that even from a polar bear, the fart would, in fact, still be warm, but you get the idea.

For some insane reason, North Carolina has turned into some sort of arctic hell and it is hovering around 35 degrees today, although there is a cold bite to the wind far below that. Yes, yes, I can hear your Yankee-winter-snob comments already, but look -- 35 is COLD here and it will be 22 tonight and that's cold, I don't care who you are. I moved here because I didn't WANT winter!

Solo is snug as a bug in his blanket (see look at right, he blends in with his pasture!), although he and the other horses turn their collective noses up at the lovely shelters provided for them, preferring to sprawl in equine abandon in the half-frozen mud puddles. We hurl them hay to help them stay warm and I am, as ever, very glad that he gets to stay out and keep those joints moving in this ever-changing weather. Tomorrow, we are off with our riding buddy, lifeshighway, for a wonderful riding trip about an hour and a half south to gallop and jump with glee across a few thousand acres of pine savanna preserved just for equestrian pursuits, the prospect of which leaves me twitching with happy anticipation. I will be wearing approximately 16 layers of clothing, 15 of which I will probably want to rip off after the first minute of trotting.

Stay warm, fellow horse lovers, and don't forget to kiss a warm furry nose tonight, it helps to keep the winter doldrums away.

December 7, 2009

Tarp Of Doom, I DEFY Thee!

I hate winter. It's always dark. And cold. And the footing usually sucks in some way or another. And it's dark and cold. Did I mention I hate the cold? And dark?

It's been raining like crazy here too -- we WERE in a drought, but no longer. Mud abounds and both Solo and I are about to pull out what's left of our hair if we are stuck in the arena working on dressage for one more MINUTE. Although I am undyingly grateful for BO's rainproof, stormproof, iceproof footing and her OCD which causes her to drag it nearly every day.

So when the sun came out on Sunday and the ground showed a modicum of respectability in a few well-drained areas, I told Solo we were going to jump-school, DAMMIT! I set up the video camera in hopes of some useful footage, although it turns out, with the camera just sitting on its tripod, alone and sad without anyone to push the zoom button, it's hard to get good footage of jumping. I did manage to catch a few snapshots from the video, which though grainy, were useful to me in seeing how we are coming along.

In good news, Solo was ON FIRE. He very clearly informed me that being stuck in the dressage arena all week sucks donkey balls and that JUMPING IS FUN FUN FUN! Everytime I asked him to canter, he'd flip himself all over the place with energy just shooting out of him. I couldn't help but laugh -- like the good boy he is, it was just a couple of strides, and I stayed soft and let him have it and then he came right back to focus on the fences. And as you can see at left, WE HAVE CONQUERED THE INFAMOUS BLUE TARP OF DOOM. I have been putting that damned tarp on everything I can think of. Under jumps, over jumps, beside jumps, over Solo's head. So help me god, that horse will now jump a blue tarp without hesitation or complaint!

I am also happy to report that thus far, stepping up our jump schooling in preparation for Novice events has been successful. I have been focusing hard on keeping my "landing gear" beneath me (thank you, P, you are a godsend!) and Solo has been developing a nice rhythm, staying with my leg and jumping around each jump with a lovely scope. I put a tape on all the jumps before I rode out and they ranged in size from 2'7" at the little green and yellow in the background to about 3'2" or so at the blue barrel Swedish oxer and I am happy to report that nary a one resulted in any problems. We even made a little fakey ditch with a shiny black tarp between two rails on the ground and Solo quite obligingly leaped it with gusto.

It's amazing what a difference it makes when things start to click. A few months ago, I looked at 2'9" jumps clearly thinking, OMG, you must be KIDDING me, who do I look like, Rodrigo Pessoa(ette?) Yesterday, I looked at a 3' jump and thought, Gee, that looks like a nice, doable challenge!

In Solo-world, at least, things are looking up! (and over!)

December 5, 2009


Finally! Got a picture last night of Solo being a big fat ham in our new bridle! Can I tell you how hard it is to work the camera with one hand while waving a carrot with the other hand while making sure Solo doesn't actually come GET the carrot and leave me with a giant picture of his nose?

It's hard.

I still have to surgically remove the flash loop and add some oil, but other than that, we are good to go! Anyone interested in an eBay bridle that looks like it came from a garage sale? But hey, it's black and it holds the bit in the horse's mouth!

That's right, you know you love me.

December 4, 2009

Bits And Rigs

My expectations seemed completely realistic...
Turns out the KK Ultra is not the uber-magical-fairy-miracle bit the dressage queens of the world would have you believe.

 It apparently does NOT impart instant dressage prowess upon your horsie.  In fact, it is quite possible your horsie may distinctly dislike it, lock his jaw, & pointedly refuse to acknowledge your half halts.

I'll just let you guess which one was us.

Happily, it's a borrowed bit.  So I removed it from bridle & returned to our Happy Mouth boucher last night & now, both of us are happy once more.   But I had to at least try the KK, given its legend, you know, curiosity & all that.

I also wanted to share our "new to us" rig that I realized I skipped over the story, given that it is a relatively recent acquisition.  Rig saga here.  Well, I still have the same trailer, obviously & I LOVE THAT TRAILER.

My Precious with...Other Precious?  Of course I have a blue trailer!
I loved the Tahoe too, but it soon made apparent to me that for regular hauling, a 1/2 ton just can't cut the mustard.   It could pull, & did it well.  Those old Chevy 5.7L engines were definitely made for power.  The problem is the smaller 1/2 ton transmissions are just not really up to the task & between that & the suspension & the brakes on the windy sides of mountains, it growlingly informed me that if I kept it up, I would be purchasing replacement trannies.  And radiators.  And liability policies.  0.0

Why didn't I think of that???!!
So, I decided that it was no longer worth putting $$$ on a vehicle that was only worth about $2000 on a good day, as I'd run it up to 170,000 miles, the A/C was out of freon, & you couldn't move the driver's seat (luckily my freaky long legs paid of for once).  I put on my savviest face & after much research & consulting & then more research (which I won't go into here for the sake of concise-ness, but I am happy to explain if you so desire), I sauntered into my local Ford dealer.

As luck would have it, they happened to have a trade-in that was EXACTLY what I wanted, in beautiful condition.  So I gave the faithful Tahoe a goodbye pat & rumbled home in my new love, a 2001 7.3L Super Duty turbo diesel F250.  And you will have to pry my cold, dead hands off to take it away from me.  It's good to be back in diesel-land (my first car was a 1985 3/4-ton 6.0L diesel GMC Suburban)!

December 2, 2009

Rain, Rain Go Away

Not a good week so far.

Hand clawed up by flailing cat. Toe broken by leaping sofa (f@$%ing unruly furniture!). Winter riding earmuffs MIA on a cold cold night.


Toe does not affect riding. And motivates extra care to avoid being stepped on as pain would no doubt be redoubled.

Dressage schooling last night was ok. Quality of canter definitely improving. Still not much bendiness in that gait, but must focus on good, not always on bad. Must focus on good... Trot work was nice for the most part, with some good transition work. We are prepping for a combined training on Sunday. We did enter at Beginner Novice, I didn't feel QUITE ready to compete around a 2'11" stadium course as this is at a very fancy farm and I have a feeling they might set their jumps on the big side of 2'11".


It is raining AGAIN. I swear to god if I have to walk through mud one more time, I am going to just start jumping around and screaming incoherently. Just wait. It will happen. 8500 lbs of F250 are slowly sinking into my driveway at the house, despite my frenzied kicking of gravel beneath the tires.

Saturday night temps forecasted to be a whopping 25 degrees. So when we load up the trailers Sunday morning, not only will it be morning (a portion of evil all its own) but it will be colder than a polar bear's tail.

And my toe still hurts.