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We Are Flying Solo

October 22, 2011

When Do I Get To Sleep Again?

Exhausted.  Training 3-Day at Waredaca was awesome yet again.  Many tales to be told.  All competitors made it around safely save one, who had the misfortune to fall and break her arm, but she is young and will heal with time, thank goodness.

Upon arriving home from the sprint from Maryland, I (a) thanked the heavens for sunny warmth, (b) slept for an hour, (c) ran to the barn to ride Encore, (d) leaped off to let farrier replace his pulled shoe, then (e).....zzzzzzzzz...what?  eh?  oh....uh, yeah.

Tomorrow!  Encore makes his horse trial debut at FenRidge Farm!  His dressage test is at 12:06, we trot into stadium at 1:54, then we wiggle around XC at 2:08. 

My hope is to let Encore have a fun, safe horse trial run, get the feel for how the day goes and just experience his first miles on jump courses.  I don't care if the score is 100 as long as he tries and has a positive go.  Our cross country will not be timed so we can take it easy and look at one question at a time.  With any luck, it will be a completely uneventful day! 

October 17, 2011

I Feel Pretty

At least that's what Encore sings.  He finished our FIRST solo (not to be confused with Solo) trail ride together and he did a great job.  He got a bit anxious and quick in the second half, but he still listened.  After a post-ride snack and a shower:

Check out that trademark Flying Solo shine!
I am pulling my hair out trying to find time to get ready for the big trip up to Waredaca's Training 3-Day this week.  I absolutely love volunteering at this event, it has taught me an incredible amount of information to add to my "competing an eventer" knowledge files.  Both Stephen Bradley and Tremaine Cooper will be working closely with competitors and volunteers this year and I especially look forward to Tremaine's insights on the course, since he designs courses himself.  And of course, Brian O'Connor's entertainment is not to be missed.  Then's Encore's first Horse Trial!!!

October 15, 2011


This forest has been cut over multiple times.  In the clearing where Solo and I stopped, I could see tertiary growth, immature pine trees at close ranks, the usual suspects in recolonizing slashed hardwood stands.  Except for one:  a solitary oak, half dead limbs, half tiny leaves, hanging on at the top of the hill, gnarled boles refusing to give up the last gasp.  It has survived at least two clearcuts, the only thing standing as far as I can see that is more than ten years old.  Perhaps it knew the original denizens of this ridge and I wonder how it got lucky and weathered the storms and the saws and the years.

An autumn wind rushes through the tree tops; its sound is the soft roar of surf on sand.  I close my eyes, blocking one sense to open the others.  Solo shifts his weight beneath me, grazing on his favourite weed and the leather of the saddle creaks.  There's a soft jingle from his bit, the grind of his teeth and a muffled stomp as he discourages a torpid, late-season fly.  A few fall grasshoppers chirrup in the trees and I can hear the footsteps of a young buck who passed by moments ago as he moves among the already-fallen leaves.  All else is beautiful silence. 

And the air.  Cool, but sun-warmed when it hits your skin, it smells of Forest, it smells of Life, of the clean, sweet breath of the woods that is Home.  You can almost hear a patient sentience in that air, of the intricate and vitally alive, yet so incredibly quiet many-geared mechanism that is that ecosystem.  To participate in that and to breathe in that sense of being is a gift that grows no less cherished with numerous givings.

Turning for home, Solo swings readily onto the trail and part of the spell is broken as I must open my eyes and duck the spiderwebs that are too high for his bright ears to break.  But it's still a treasure, shared with a best friend, the memory of which will tide us over until the next visit. 

October 14, 2011

It's Hard Work Being This Cool

Decked out and patched together in a mayhem of, let's call it "repurposing," with a touch of shabby chic.

Rockin' Solo's old sneaks for happy hoofies.

Why yes, that is a stirrup leather tied together with hay string to make a bombin' neck strap!

The black tape gives you ninja powers.  My sports medicine guy likes experiments...

October 13, 2011

X Is For Xray, eXpensive, and eXplode

The first is what Encore got, the second is what the credit card got, and the third is what my head did.

Hold on, back up....what?

Oh yes, my theory holds.  And by that I mean my theory is that if you have one horse, you will just have a lame horse and no spare; if you have two horses, you will just have two lame horses and no spare; three horses, yep, three lame horses and no get the picture.

I've been noticing that Encore has a bit of a bobble on his left front at the trot.  Not always, but I can see it and I can feel it, especially on the longe.  Well, he's an underweight, undermuscled, crooked ex-racehorse with bare feet in recovery who flexed clean so it was hard to say it was a true lameness.  But last night, it was a definite, though slight limp (insert head explosion here) and I decided to take him to visit Dr. Bob (or rather Dr. Brian, the sidekick of the very busy Dr. Bob when you call last minute) this morning.

Of course, by the time I parked my truck in my driveway yesterday evening, I was already sure that he had ringbone and would either (a) never jump again or (b) snap off his leg and die. Cue Anxiety Girl.

We flexed again and we shot a couple radiographs and then we tucked Anxiety Girl back into her bed:

(1) Despite my diligent, yet sporadic application of Durasole, the sole on his left front was soft enough that you could see it flex beneath the pressure of Dr. Brian's fingers. Owie, so not comfortable. You're getting front shoes, my boy!

(2) I wanted a lateral view of each front ankle and foot anyway -- the rads are such a powerful tool for understanding what exactly you are dealing with mechanically. Both fronts were remarkably clean. There are a couple of osselets on the right front that are old and set and a small P1 bone spur on the left, also old and set, no problem. Otherwise, P1/P2/P3/navicular bone have clean joint spaces and nice edges, yay!

(3) I would never guess it from looking at his feet from the outside, but Encore has a TON of toe which needs to be lopped off. Said lopping will hopefully go along way towards correcting...

(4) P1/P2/P3 should line up on a nice straight axis. They don't -- each has its own angle in there (can we say cattywompus?!). The rear end of his coffin bone sits too high and things are jammed up. By slowly changing the hoof angle, we can realign this whole support structure to avoid problems in the future (cattywompus = bad).

All in all -- fixable. No ringbone, no legs snapping off. We will put our lovely farrier to work and hopefully go on about our business. And may farriers who don't pay attention to bone angles find their underpants invaded by fire ants -- no one likes to fix your messes!