SUBSCRIBE TODAY Smiley face  Get updates via email! 

We Are Flying Solo

September 13, 2012

You Buy, You Break

I could smell it already -- the clean air in a silent forest at the top of the mountain, a living quiet broken only by the sound of hooves on pine needles and limestone.  So when I went up to the farm last night, I thought I'd just do some light dressage schooling with Encore, focusing on suppling his muscles in balance, because he had a weekend of serious mountain climbing ahead.

That would have been way too easy.

It was a beautiful evening, too, and I almost quivered with anticipation of the soft, zen vibe of sitting on my horse in the setting sun.  Then I pulled off his fly sheet.

Raging across the middle of his back was a huge scrape, swollen and hot and sore to the touch.  You may have heard my bubble popping as I remembered why you have to always live in the moment with horses.

He hadn't broken the skin, just torn off all the hair and it looked much like I feel when I whack my hip on the corner of a dresser and say many bad words.  So I rubbing in some SoreNoMore and covered it back up.

It was a perfect opportunity to snag a bareback ride on Mr. Shiny instead, so I pulled him out, much to his glee as he has been doing his eye-begging once again, pleading me to fuss with him.  I started brushing him down and curried some mud off his hind fetlock -- to discover a full-thickness filet cut upwards through his ankle.  I could lift up the flap of skin and see pink tissue inside.

Of course.  My theory that the more horses you have, the more injured horses you have, stands intact.

Solo did not have any heat, swelling, or any signs of a problem around the cut, so I crammed a bunch of purple goo in there while he yawned.

Tonight, Encore's back looked and felt significantly better, so I hope that we will still be able to enjoy our mountain weekend.  It's not just about relaxing, it's something I have been trying to do all summer, because Encore lives in Flat Land and the mountain work could well be a make-or-break for his fall season, as he still needs a boost in hind end strength.  Our BFF riding partners have finally had an opportunity to get away and it is valuable in so many way. 

But somehow, and I don't even see how this is possible, I yet again end up at the last minute wondering, "Will he be better?  Do the pros outweigh the cons?  How does this fit into the big picture?"

Over it....

September 11, 2012

Horse Trials = Ridiculously Expensive Lessons In Horsemanship

Edited to add:  there appear to be some photo sizing issues in Firefox.  When viewed in IE or Chrome, they appear normal to me.  All photos have been uploaded at the smaller size, I don't know what's up with that.  Sorry, working on it.  Oh, Firefox, you disappoint me so, I have loved you long time... If you click on the pictures, you can see them at normal human size (as opposed to ginormous).

And nothing makes you feel like your HT experience was complete like sitting on the curb at AutoZone on your way home, waiting for a clerk to come bring you a new truck battery (my back was not in the mood to be lifting batteries).  Ends up, he took too long, so I stole his tools and did it myself.

It started well though and I'm going to try to keep the story short and instead, crash your browser with media.  Because I'm nice like that.  All photos by High Time Photography, thank you!

Dressage:  Wow, I had a heck of a horse.  For the first time EVER, Encore was completely rideable in the ring.  He was (mostly) soft, he did not anticipate and only had a few tense moments.  He canter was sheer loveliness to sit on.  The judge nailed him hard on almost every movement because he is still a bit counterbent quite often.  I have ridden under her before and knew she was tough, she never liked Solo's work much either.  But as I said before, she doesn't know his journey and she doesn't know what he was like even a week ago, or last Wednesday, when I spent a marathon NO MORE ANTICIPATORY BULLSHIT session that about killed my knee but apparently worked! So me = completely stoked with his test.





Where are my cute points?

Cross Country:  Here, he started to feel the hurt.  Because HE WOULD NOT DRINK ALL DAY.  It was hot and humid and the little bugger would just not slurp any water.  He galloped his heart out and went double clear, but he was getting tired.  The footing was also hard and slick (never experienced that at CHP, would never have dreamed of needing studs there for Novice!) and he lost his hind feet out from under him a couple times, so he jumped around just feeling a bit greener than he is.  Oh, and the last jump on course?  His nemesis which he defeated this past spring.  Ha!  I cooled him off and we went "home" to our wonderful friend's farm where I hoped he would tank up overnight.










HELMET CAM I REMEMBERED TO TURN ON!  It was supposed to upload to YouTube too.  Crappy software fail.  I'm not thrilled with this one and I'm not sure why it appears we are riding in an earthquake while being pounded by hail, but perhaps you should take some Dramamine first...

I am making this a link for now, because the sizing all wrong and this whole post seems to have imploded blogger. So, CLICK HERE FOR HELMET CAM VID!

The ever-super Sue's perspective:

Stadium:  Sunday woke us up with cool, beautiful air that smelled the way a fall horse trial should.  After jump-starting the rig, sigh, Encore and I went back to the horse park and I expected a clean jump round.  Expected.  When we got to warmup, I found out that my horse had not taken full advantage of his pasture and trough Saturday night and felt a bit tired.  I warmed him up and he was jumping clean, so I let him hang out till it was time to go.  My plan was just to gallop him down the side of the arena to the start flags and just keep my leg on to keep him moving over the fences.

CHP had other plans.  They had apparently had a group meeting and voted to use all their shallowest jump cups.  The hollow "thunk" of rails in sand had been a common sound all day.  So while Encore jumped double clear with the first 2/3 of his body, his tired back toes tapped a rail.  Or five.  I couldn't be upset with him, really, and I have a call in to David to see if he will help me analyze if there is anything we could have done differently.  But Encore never gave up and never hesitated, so his heart was there.  Naturally, once he walked back to the trailer, he drank two buckets of water.  *eyeroll*

But he looked pretty...


It looked bigger, mom!


A little focus fail, but he looked too cute to pass it up.

The round:

In the end, I wouldn't have changed a thing and I already have a solution for the water issue -- I think the water in my container was just stale and I did not think like a horse and fill his bucket from the park hose until Sunday.  Sigh.  Nonetheless, I am very happy with his performance and overjoyed with his dressage transformation (I hope it sticks) and very much look forward to our next competition, a schooling trial on the 22nd.

This weekend though, we will hit the mountains, build some butt muscles, drink some beer, and be judged by no one but a few arrogant grey squirrels.  Who says Thoroughbreds can't do it all?

September 9, 2012

A Sneak Peak At A Horse Trial High

Thank you to all of you who sent good juju our way this weekend!!

First off, CONGRATULATIONS to our friend Sue (owner of beautiful farm where we meet David in VA) and her mare, Grace, who finished 3rd in Grace's first Prelim!!!!!  AHHHH!

If you checked the live scores, you might have thought disaster occurred, as our number was, ummmm, not exactly spectacular.  Or even average.  Good thing I am not one of those nutty competitive people or I would have quit several years ago.

But you know what?  It was a fantastic weekend for TFS.  One of the reasons I love eventing is that the judging is relatively objective, but that also means that the judges only see a snapshot of you and your score does not reflect where you are or how far you've come in your journey with your partner.  That is why I ride for me, to find holes in my training, to improve upon my last attempt and of course, to RIDE THE XC COURSE, DUH, WHY DO YOU THINK WE PUT UP WITH ALL THIS OTHER CRAP??!  Ahem.

Why was it so great?  Well, full story with pictures and video (yes, I remembered to actually TURN ON the helmet cam) are on the way after much uploading, but I'll give you a hint:

I got to ride this horse (photos by High Time Photography) --

September 7, 2012

How To Stalk Us, I Mean, Check On Us

It's late, bridles are sort of clean, pads are sort of washed (hey, I've been busy), the trailer is sort of mostly packed, the horse is DEFINITELY clean.  The truck still needs diesel and my bag is half empty, but, well, I guess it'll do.

What you really want:

Unicorn Ride Times:    Dressage -- 12:52 pm               XC -- 4:00 pm (sheesh)

Stadium for Novice is supposed to occur sometime around lunchtime on Sunday.

LIVE SCORING!  Click it.  Unless I screwed up.  Then don't look.

Want to stalk someone else?  RIDE TIMES!

Deep breath -- the fall season officially begins and Away Again is ready to take it away.  Again.  You know?  You know.  I know.

September 6, 2012

Red Alert: An Opportunity For You!

For those of you who are not Facebook subscribers to TFS (for shame!), I wanted to let you east coasters know that September 15th, you can come and have a lesson with our amazing David O., jumping coach extraordinaire.  He will be in southern VA at the most beautiful farm owned by a friend.  You too, can be epic in the arena!

Please contact me if you are interested!  I cannot make it up this time and the owner needs spots filled!

You can do a stadium, XC, or dressage lesson and David is phenomenal at them all, focused on bringing out the best in your horse, which he magically succeeds at any time.  He also (besides being wonderfully patient with my dorkiness and very kind) teaches to your level, no matter what that is -- a Prelim horse went before me, I rode Novice, and a young horse who had only ever jumped a couple tiny x-rails went after me.  There is never any judging or denigration, only encouragement and improvement under his awesome eye.

Again, for details, contact me through email link on the sidebar -- you won't regret it, if you can make it!!