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We Are Flying Solo

April 9, 2011

Aaaand The Winners Are....

...people who will be announced later!  I know, I'm cruel.  But Solo and I are off this morning for a much-needed adventure with lifeshighway and Pete, wandering about in the woods pretending we know exactly where we are.

However, later today, I promise, I will present Solo with the Bucket O' Possibilities and the excitement will happen!!

Stay tuned...

April 7, 2011


A visitor outside my office window
Azaleas are in full bloom under the bright wings of swallowtail butterflies.  Trees are pushing out eager spring leaves.  Everything smells warm and good.

I put Solo through a brief jump school last night; my own body timing was just off at our lesson on Saturday, so I wanted to revisit the issue and thankfully this time saw better results. Solo was jumping well too. Once I remembered to keep my leg on, he bounced through a four jump gymnastic in a smooth, strong rhythm. All that dressage muscle building has really made a difference, no longer is he hurling himself over the jumps in a rush.

Our conditioning sets are improving too. Wofford says we should be cantering three four-minute sets to be fit for Training Level (which we aim to hit in May). On the 24th of March, we started with

Two five minute trot sets (two minute walk intervals between)

Two three minute canter sets (two minute walk intervals).

Last Friday, April 1st, our second conditioning day (thanks to lifeshighway generously stepping in and riding Solo for me), we had

Three five minute trot sets (two minute walk intervals)

Two four minute canter sets (two minute walk intervals).

And Solo didn't really get tired until the end of the last canter set. Which gives me great reason for rejoicing. I am confident we can add on one more four minute canter before mid-May. He always moves up a level of conditioining after a horse trial as well, which happens in...TWO WEEKS!

Most importantly, though, there are only two days left in our win-the-awesomest-bumper-sticker-ever competition, so make sure you don't miss your chance to own a piece of Sweet Solo Swag. Get your entry in before 10 AM on Saturday!

April 4, 2011

You Know You Want One -- Enter Now

Oh yes, it's here:  your opportunity to win a Team Flying Solo bumper sticker that you have been lusting after for oh-so-long.  I know, you just flop yourself down on the couch in a pout every day, thinking My life will NOT be complete until I have a TFS bumper sticker!  I am here to make sure that your existence and dreams are fulfilled.

To win, all you have to do is submit a ten-page, fully-illustrated essay to...whoa, stop typing, I'm just kidding!

To win and live a truly whole existence, all you REALLY have to do is leave a comment on this post! I am giving away three bumper stickers in this round, so you have three chances to win. Everyone's name will be put in a bucket full of beet pulp and Solo will carefully draw three lucky winners.  The contest closes this Saturday, April 9th.

If you do not wish to be identified with the dorkiness greatness of Solo and I, then I would warn you NOT to leave a comment on this post, else you may end up with a really dorky cool sticker that will tell everyone what a nerd awesome person you are.

April 2, 2011

Blown Away

Ok, I might have been a big meanie and lied to you yesterday. But I can't resist a good prank. Life is too short to take things seriously all the time. Or very often. Or ever.

This afternoon sees us just back from a jumping lesson.  In the 30 mph wind. David had us do a new exercise during our warm up death circles -- THAT WAS NOT A CIRCLE. I almost fell off Solo in shock. To supple and engage the hind leg at the trot, he simply had us leg yield away from the long side for half of its length and then leg yield back to the track before the corner. The catch is to not let that shoulder bulge in either direction. And get it done before running out of long side!

Then we picked up the canter. *sigh* Back on the circle. But David introduced some new finesse here too. To really get Solo round over his back, he had me open my inside rein to flex his neck, push him into the bend with inside leg. Then, when Solo softened and gave, to straighten him with the outside rein while riding him forward into it with both legs. It created, quite simply, a VERY awesome feeling canter and put him right THERE on my outside rein in a whole new way. My brain: OMG, THAT'S what that feels like! Solo's back was so rounded up beneath me, I felt like I was sitting on the side of an apple or something.

There were a lot of subtleties to this and a lot of feel involved. You have to keep your contact steady in both reins. The horse must keep tracking forward from behind at all times. Solo resisted and fought it with every evasion he had because it's HARD. He went sideways one way, he went sideways the other way, then he threw his head in the air, then he gaped his mouth open. Nooooooooooooo......was all he had to say about it. So you have to ride through each resistance, keeping your cues steady and consistent and then softening when he finally gives in and goes round. It is very hard work and, again, ALL about timing and feel. I can't even put into words the dozens of little nuances and adjustments I had to make. Correcting the shoulder, correcting the poll, correcting the neck, correcting the haunches. BUT, when Solo did finally soften and come round underneath me, it was an amazing feel to have him both light in my hand AND up and powerful and muscly underneath me.

Oh yeah, the jumping was ok too.

April 1, 2011

We're Going To Rolex!

I'm tired of putzing around at the lower levels, it's just...old.  I got to thinking and late last night, I made a phone call.  I wasn't sure it was possible but with a few maneuverings and a special dispensation form....Solo and I will be competing at Rolex this year!

I know it's hard to believe, but you know, it's about time they recognized the shiny awesomeness that is being wasted on smurf levels. I'm a bit worried about whether I will be able to learn how to do quartermarks for the jogs by then, but I'm going to go ahead and move up to stable with Boyd Martin until the end of April, so I'm sure he can teach me.

I'm so excited about this opportunity and invite all of you to come out and take pictures of us diving into the Head of the Lake! Ever since I was a little girl, I've watched horses dive into that iconic pool. I never dreamed that that would one day be me!