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We Are Flying Solo

March 31, 2011

What I Wish I Was Doing Today

Was that really only two weeks ago? Hard to believe on this drizzly, grey day.

What I am ACTUALLY doing today -

It's just not the same.

March 29, 2011

I'll Take A Day That's Halfway Good

The rumbly truck is home!  With a new tie rod end and freshly packed wheel bearings, it is ready to resume Solo-hauling duty with renewed vigor.

I'll take that!

Solo is done with his Panacur PowerPac and we both say "Hurrah!" to no more smelly, gooey, white slime.

I'll take that!

In the bright afternoon sun, we had a pretty decent dressage school. Solo is getting a more powerful push back into his transitions into trot. I once again used the transitions within the trot I tried a few days ago to prep for canter, and it worked again! Softer, rounder canter transitions that resulted in a slow, strong, rhythmic stride.

I'll take that!

Ok, so I have to shove an icepack down my pants every few hours to try to bring down the inflammation in my SI joint that is torturing me these days. But even that's not all bad -- with the help of chiro and PT, we are FINALLY narrowing in on the problems and making some headway. PT taped up the right side of my back and leg down to my knee yesterday with the magic of kinesiotape and it's working and hell,

I'll even take that!

March 28, 2011

Why I Keep Forking Out $130 Every Year

I ditched AAA the first time my old rig got stranded roadside.

How To Lose Business 101

I had a blown radiator & AAA was quite happy to tow away the truck...leaving the trailer & Solo behind in the dark on a bitter November night in Greensboro.  Obviously, they had no concept of what was important to me.  They could have set that POS truck on fire for all I cared, as what mattered to me was standing in the trailer behind it.  I hung up the phone in fury & tore up my membership card.

We Have A Winner!

Then I found US Rider, a roadside assistance plan designed for traveling horse owners.  This morning is a clear demonstration of why I love them.

Call #1 (8:20 am): They answer the phone:  "US Rider, are you and your horses safe?"

"Yes, ma'am." I love that these are the first words every time I call.  I then explain that I need a wrecker for my truck, which was sitting at the end of my driveway in the pellets.   Yeah.

The rep took my member number, pulled up my address & asked where I wanted it towed.   I didn't even have to give her the business address, as soon as I said the name of the shop, she had it at her fingertips.   She promised to call me back in five minutes with wrecker information.

Call #2 (8:30 am): Rep informs me that tow truck should be there in 30-45 minutes.  No worries by me, I am at home.  She will call back later to check on progress.

Call #3 (9:40 am): An hour has passed.  Rep:  "Has the wrecker has arrived?"  Me:  "Nope."  Rep:  "Oh no!  I'll go check on it."

Call #4 (9:50 am):  Rep:  "The wrecker will arrive in ten minutes," and she will check on me then.

Call #5 (10:10 am):  Me:  "It's here!!" and we loaded up my truck & headed to the shop.

Boiling It Down

That's FIVE PHONE CALLS, making sure I was safe & informed over the course of two hours.   Eat that, AAA.  The wreckers are contractors, so timing is beyond US Rider's control, but they made sure I was taken care of as soon as possible.  Had I needed a vet or a spot for a horse to sleep or an alternate truck/trailer, they would have provided it.  That is why I don't mind writing the check, because when I need it, that kind of service is priceless.


March 27, 2011

Momma Ain't Happy

Why? Oh, because the universe is unkind! Like I don't already have enough to juggle. 

This is why -->

What the hell is that?  That, my dear friends, in the right forelimb of my beloved pony hauler.  And it has suffered a fracture.

On the way home from work on Friday, it all of a sudden had an epileptic seizure and tried to buck me off.  Long story short, I was down the street about 0.2 miles from the house so I just limped it home slowly and friend and I had a look at it this afternoon.  After cranking the steering wheel around and hearing a loud POP, this is what we found.

In case you are still staring at the picture in puzzlement, trying to figure out what is so wrong -- see the bit on the left side that looks like a black toilet plunger?  That bit is supposed to be attached to the end of the horizontal rod across the middle of the picture.  Not be separated from said rod by a two inch gap.

This is a rather consequential bit as this rod is what connects your steering wheel to your front tire.  Yeah, so you can turn and stuff.  When it's not connected, you get the sorry sight I was faced with this afternoon, which is your truck sitting there with its front tires pointed in opposite directions, like some poor crosseyed kid.   And you definitely do not want to drive it in this condition -- at best, you end up with a bent axle, at worst, your wheel gets ripped off your vehicle.

What most likely happened is that as I turned onto my street, the connector on the tie rod cracked, resulting in the violent "death wobble" (oh yes, that's a real term, google it) I felt.  As we cranked the steering to its maximum extent this afternoon, it snapped completely off.

On the plus side, it's a pretty easy fix and it's under warranty. The truck is ten years old, so it's a normal wear and tear type of thing. This, of course, does not stop me from staring at it mournfully where it sits in front of my house, waiting for Monday morning and a wrecker to arrive.

Moral of the story: if you are driving along and all of a sudden it feels like a wheel fell off, don't keep driving. Even if the wheels are still attached for the moment, A WHEEL MAY BE ABOUT TO BE TORN OFF, so don't push it.

March 24, 2011

Guess What I Found?

A beautiful canter transition.

It was hiding. I found it tucked neatly in an active, collected sitting trot.

This is how I coaxed it out:

Solo was warmed up with figure eights and serpentines, then a few leg yields and shoulder in combined with walk/trot transitions. My insistence was that he do the transitions correctly: no gripping the bit, no flipping the nose in the air, just staying soft in the bridle and lifting the back.

Then we began some transitions within the trot; something resembling a working trot (he doesn't have full impulsion back yet) down the long side, then sit and half halt into a collected sitting trot on the short side. Again, the emphasis was on smooth, correct transitions, maintaining a steady contact and keeping the back up.

I really zeroed in on the quality of the collected trot; it's easy to drag them back to a shuffling jog that is easy to sit, but that is not a real gait. The collected trot should have the same rhythm as the working posting trot, but with shorter steps. The forward energy should get translated into up-and-down energy. Which basically means you need to keep a pulsing active leg, pushing the energy up into the bridle and into your core, which is engaged and lifting the horse's back up like a suction cup. Because, as P has reminded us often, the quality of this trot will dictate the quality of your canter strike-off, every time.

I felt and heard Solo's feet keeping their rhythm as we came around the short side and I could feel his back rounded beneath my seat. My contact was steady and even without him just hanging on my shoulders. So I sat up, thought "lift the shoulders into the gait," and shifted my lower leg back with a kiss.

And Solo stepped up into the most lovely canter transition I have ever sat upon. I could FEEL his back and shoulders lift as his outside hind stepped under him for the strike-off. I immediately hollered, "GOOD BOY, WELL DONE, GOOD MAN!!!" (my barn buddies never get any peace and quiet when I'm in the arena) It was totally awesome.

Of course, I wanted to do it again, but as Solo's muscles and mine got tired, we didn't get quite the same elegance, but we got close a few times. But it showed me a good way to prime Solo's body and balance by suppling him then using the transitions within the trot to shift his weight to his hindquarters and keep his hind legs active.

So we're going to be repeating this exercise a few times. David has encouraged me to do lots of trot/canter transitions, using the transition as a gymnastic to strengthen Solo. He says even if the transition isn't perfect, the strengthening aspect still works so they can improve over time.

So give it a go and tell me if it works for you!