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We Are Flying Solo

April 26, 2010

It's Official!

I got this little treasure in the mail today!  I unashamedly confess to a SQUEE! of delight when I opened the envelope.  Solo is now recorded in the annals of forever and ever as a real, honest-to-god, card-carrying, log-jumping, event horse!

PS  To the two other people who have registered horses by the name "Solaris," well, I don't know you but I will confidently assure you that mine is the bestest one ever, so you should probably go ahead and just change your horses' names now so they do not develop a complex about being unable to live up to His Shininess.  Not that I am, ahem, biased or anything.  Nope, not even a teensy bit.  Really.

April 25, 2010

I Heart Technology

Now that we are at Novice, I wanted to start bringing a little extra care & management to my horse's legs after jumping, as those extra 3" translated into a lot more work for Solo's body, especially post-XC what with the addition of these drops & banks & such.

I pondered ice boots--too annoying what with having to have ice on hand & inability to provide even pressure to the legs--and then poultices--just too messy--and then just cold spongeing--too short term to have much effect--and was left without a solution I liked. I wanted something easy to pack, easy to use by myself, easy to maintain, & I didn't want to pay $1,000,000.00 for it.

I decided to try ColdFlex, which I picked up from SmartPak (I love you SmaaaartPak, oh yes I doooo...oh wait, I digress...). I gave it a go after our XC run at Longleaf last Saturday. In short, I FREAKING LOVE THESE THINGS! Best. Invention. Ever.  You can see Solo sporting them in high style there on the left.

Basically, it's a polo wrap that feels like it's made of silicone.  It has gelled water imbedded in it.  All you do is wrap it around your body part of choice.  I could only talk myself into buying two to start out, so after much anguished deliberation, I decided to wrap front legs as they take the brunt of jumping impacts. 

Once you wrap, you put a turn of vetwrap around the loose end -- the gel wrap sticks to itself sort of, but it's not very secure, the vetwrap holds it better (You can't see the vetwrap in the pic on the right, but it's at the top.  It's just the exact same shade of blue as the gel wrap.  Of course.).  Then sponge some water over the wrap & stand back.  Evaporation magic begins.

The directions say you can leave them on for as long as eight hours as long as you reapply water roughly every two hours. I left them on for about 45 minutes to an hour -- you cannot cover them up, as that would block the evaporative cooling & I did not want him to wear them on the trailer & tear them up. They appear to be about as durable to impact as jello.

I sponged them once after about 20 minutes just because I am paranoid like that. I rolled them back up and repackaged them (key fact: you can NEVER let them dry out, EVER EVER), they come in these handy plastic tubs for storing.

And those tendons were cold & tight & beautiful!! No mess, no ice, no hoses, no goop! Even compression & efficient cooling all in one with practically zero effort.  I think mum was a little perplexed as to why I was whooping around excited, but it was so EASY!

According to the manufacturer you can reuse them about 25 times before they are worn out & need to be replaced. I feel like I got my money's worth out of one time, so if I can use them for 25 more horse trials, I am totally beyond satisfied! Once again, chemistry improves life & technology rocks my world!

Two hooves up from Solo!!

April 24, 2010

My New Hero

Unless you live under a rock, you may be aware that Rolex is going on this weekend.  The biggest, baddest, awesomest 3 Day Event in the US, four stars of challenge for the world's best horses and riders.

One of the big letdowns of watching these top-level events for me, though, has always been that not a single one of those riders, who strap on multiple layers of safety equipment to run cross country, don a simple helmet for the dressage ring. Until now.

Allison Springer, you are my new hero.

Pictured here in a beautiful Josh Walker photo from USEA, she rode down centerline on her stunning horse, Arthur, and scored a 43.7, putting her solidly in second place, behind only Britain's William Fox-Pitt. All in a classy velvet helmet with her tails. Which, by the way, hunters have been doing forever.

So, riders, no more excuses that your score will suffer because the "judge will think my horse is spooky" or "everyone will laugh at me." It's not high school (ok, there is a lot of drama and gossip, but still), be an adult, have the guts to buck ridiculous convention that makes no sense. Allison had the cojones to walk the walk and you know what -- internet message boards everywhere are singing her praises, fans are sending her support both emotional and financial, all because she was the only one in the crowd brave enough to be the role model these riders are supposed to be.

So, Allison (not that she will read this, but...), you go, girl. Thank you for being the kind of strong, smart woman we need more of, not only in this sport, but in the world, who will not be the sheep and who steps out in the right direction, even if it's not what the popular kids are doing.

You freaking rock.

April 22, 2010

It's About Time The Freaking Pictures Arrived!

Cause I know that's what you're thinking, right?  Without further ado...  Pics by mum unless otherwise noted.


 Hooked up and ready to go.

Dressage warmup.

Stride one out of the start box and he's raring to go!

Clearing the log stack at jump #1.  Pic by Pics of You.       Stretching out for the gallop.  Pic by Pics of You.
Soaring over the big table (jump #4) in style.  Pic by Pics of You.

 Jump #7, a rolltop coming out of a sunken road.

 Evidence that we did, in fact, jump that trakhener (jump #8) that I've spent all winter thinking about.  

 Coming out of the two stride combo (jump #10) with flying colours!  Pic by Pics of You.

Making our way 'round stadium.  We got in a little deep on the red one and his hind foot caught the top rail there.  Left by Pics of You, right by mum.

All ridiculous faces courtesy of yours truly.  During dressage, it is me gritting my teeth.  On XC, it is me yelling "GOOD BOY!"  In stadium, it's me staring at the jump trying not to stare at the jump.

April 19, 2010

Sometimes Finishing Is Winning

Sorry, SillyPony, we did not perform show jumping with such brilliant finesse that the judge decided that all the other riders sucked and gave us a giant blue ribbon.   

I also have to say: THANK YOU, MUM, FOR BEING A GREAT CREW! She brought us water, snapped pictures and carried bell boots around for us this weekend and the company and assistance were invaluable. It is SO MUCH WORK doing an HT by yourself, just having an extra pair of hands is truly priceless!

Saturday night, still rolling from our XC high, we packed up and chugged up the road to A's house, a friend of a friend who graciously offered Solo a stall for the night. But not JUST a stall. A beautiful abode in a picturesque barn over which the house was built. The back of the stall opened directly into a private pasture all for Solo.

Funny story: I poured Solo his grain and as he began to munch, I worked on tying the back door of the stall open so he could choose to go in or out at his whim. As soon as I had it wedged open, Solo turns his head and looks and immediately stops eating and walks out the door. He stops, surveys his pasture, turns and looks over his shoulder at the door, then looks at pasture again, then turns around and marches back through the door. He then looks back at the door again and snorts as if to say, Now that is freakin' SWEET!!! All three of us watching died laughing.

Sunday morning dawned a gorgeous 70 degrees and Solo walked boldly out of his stall moving great. His back muscle was still tight, but it had lost its angry heat, so it got its morning massage and we loaded up to go.

The stadium course rode really well, despite what I thought were two terrifying bending lines. They turned out to flow quite smoothly and we even conquered the tough oxer-two-stride-vertical combination at the end. Tired Solo toes caught one rail on a skinny vertical we weren't quite forward enough to and thus ended up too deep at, but that's ok.

All in all, for a horse with a pulled muscle, I'd say my big red boy did pretty damn well and he jumped beautifully for me. He just couldn't carry himself for the dressage arena, but whaddya do? We finished in 18th place out of 30 horses, which gives me great hope for when Mr. Shiny Pants is back to 100%.  I consider our first recognized horse trial a success!

And I also want to send a shout out to the Carolina Horse Park and their new lower level course designer, Jeff Kibbie. He did a FANTASTIC job putting together a XC course that was not maxed out (thank you!!!!) at every jump, flowed perfectly, presented a variety of jump types and questions in a way that the horse could think about and tackle each with confidence. I don't who did the stadium course, but they also did an excellent job.

I'm going to make a separate post for photos because I confess that there may have been some photogasmic purchasing activity, plus mum's great shots.  So here is a teaser, shot by Pics Of You, of Solo looking classy coming out of the second bending line in stadium jumping.  Again with that stupid stock tie...