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We Are Flying Solo

September 4, 2015

Follow The Action: Five Points HT A/I/P XC Live!

If, you can't ride...get judgy?

That's right, I'm going to be taking names and, er, hopefully writing a lot of zeros!

BFF & I will be sporting TFS pride tomorrow (translation: I'm totally wearing my dorky awesome shirt), volunteering as jump judges at the Carolina Horse Park's pinnacle fall event.

Eventing Nation posted a great preview & you can find live scores at Event Entries.
Between duties, I'll be sure to add some trademark ridiculous commentary just for you on both our new Instagram feed & live on Twitter.

Since, I know your life cannot possibly be complete without my random brain drool, it's easy to access in the right sidebar or from the social icons at the very tippy top of any page on our site.

5...4...3...2...1...don't say I didn't warn you!

September 2, 2015

Obvious Riding, Obviously

A normal workday-& perfect metaphor for my life
It's been hard to write.  It's been hard to ride.  I'd guess all my fellow horse-bloggers understand the relationship between the two.

Added to the mayhem which is field season at work are repeated spins on the health care roulette wheel.  Only I can't seem to get the ball to land in a winning slot.  :/

We're still gathering data, but there is a glimpse of a silver lining, aka treatable things.  Which would be fantastic, as I'd love to, you know, get back to living my life?

Hence my offering of a consolation prize in the form of the ridiculously dorky photo feed now featured on our homepage.

There Was An Actual Dressage Thing, Though!

I have eked out some rides here & there.  Last weekend, Encore challenged my commitment to "I Will" during a brief dressage school.

As we began a few figures in the 20 x 40, my horse was tuning me out & going llama.  I got emotional:  I got frustrated.  Red flag that things were spiraling downhill.

Letting go:  possible!
But then I let go.

I paused to breathe & regroup my scattered bits of focus.  The trainer in my head firmly repeated, "Ride off your leg, let go of the death grip on your horse's face, BE PATIENT."

We rode centerline & diagonals & I focused on staying soft.  I focused on supporting with my seat & core.  And I waited.

Patience Is The Hardest Part

I just kept riding as correctly as possible & around the third or fourth repetition...I felt Encore start to trust.  He was trusting forward & trusting that I would not suffocate the energy flow with my hand.

As we turned across each successive diagonal, I felt his trot lift & push from behind.  And lo & behold, correct worked.

Maybe I should try that more often.
Never too much Grumpy Cat

August 9, 2015

We Jumped A Thing!

Seriously – a thing!!!  Ok, the word “jump” may be a tad strong:
If it looks like a jump & jumps like a jump...
But creativity is a Team Flying Solo credo, so two barrels my neighbour wasn’t using & old seine poles from work we’d replaced = all manner of jump-like constructs.

It simultaneously seems like years ago & last week that we were arcing around 3’3” courses under David O.’s sharp eyes, but yesterday…yesterday, a whoop of triumph escaped my fool’s grin as Encore neatly popped over a single crossrail that I’d optimistically call 2’6”.

Because it WAS a triumph!  Doubly so, because this post is a post!  I know many of you have been thinking, “Hey, didn’t there used to be, like, stories on this blog?
Yep.  I’m trying to figure out where they went, too.

Every Day For The Win!

From its birth, We Are Flying Solo has been about embracing & celebrating what defines horsemanship, no matter what the discipline/breed/age:  Baby Steps.  And they absolutely still count even if you are walking in impressions you’ve made before!

Best webcomic ever, by Natalie Dee
I’ve worked very hard to accomplish the proud label of “Slowest Rehab Ever,” between Encore’s healing stifles (yeah, pretty sure those were wayyyyy faster than me) & my own bewildered feeling of being shaken up inside a dark paper bag for the past year.  I was beginning to wonder if it was Over.

What?  I never claimed to have conquered Anxiety Girl, who gains astonishing power when combined with the habitual paranoia of horse ownership

Despite a rocky moment, where Encore refused the fence twice (90% rider mental hesitation & cursed spot of doubt), the third time was the charm (out, out damned spot! *literature nerd moment of awesome*).  And so were the two after that.

So when I dropped my stirrups & leaned down to wrap my arms around that generous horse’s neck, my murmur of, “Thank you, buddy!” consisted of everything in my heart.  Gifts so often arise as moments.  Moments shaped like hope.

July 31, 2015

The #1 Reason To Wear A Helmet That You Didn’t Think Of

Heck yeah, helmet went to Ecuador in my carry-on!
I'm going to let you in on a secret:  there is something worse than losing your health, or worse, your life, to a TBI, especially a preventable one.

Even more devastating is losing a person you love to a TBI.

It’s often left out of the equation because it falls into the category of "things that happen to other people," like malaria & plane crashes & armed robbery: awful, yet somewhat abstract.  Until we become one of those people.

How do I know?  Because I became one of those people.  My love, my future, my everything…vanished.

But this post isn’t about me or the story I still can’t write.  This post is about opportunity & hope for countless futures, countless moments that can continue to shine thanks to you.

Sexy 2010 Solo (Pics of You)
It’s A Holiday Sale-day!

August 1st, 2015 marks the 5th Riders4Helmets International Helmet Awareness Day.  It has grown & inspired remarkable progress, literally around the world; equine retailers & helmet manufacturers have joined the team to offer huge inventory sales. 
You can find the Master List here.

All of this makes an easy-to-use, well-designed, thoroughly-tested (raises hand) safety essential even more accessible no matter what your discipline or income bracket (waves again from the bottom of that barrel).

  • Want a fresh new look?  The options have become almost limitless. Customize, airbrush, & bedazzle to your heart’s content!  Sport an understated accent piping for the hunter ring or don Western leather to match your trail saddle.
  • Go straight from schooling to show ring on a budget.  Gone are the days of the white mushroom (although I flew one all the way to Australia & back for noggin protection during residence Down Under)!  All your favourite brands have lighter, cooler, more diverse redesigns – in technicolor!  I tried out Troxel’s new Intrepid last year & I can’t believe how comfortable it is…for less than $60!!
  • Never owned a helmet?  It’s not like insurance: yesterday’s actions don’t matter & no one holds a grudge.  Your local store reps will be thrilled to help you find the style & fit you love; if you don’t have one nearby, I’ve spoken with dozen of friendly voices from online retailers like Dover & SmartPak.  Many will allow you to order multiples & return at no charge, as they should, since YOU are priceless.
It’s My Personal Choice & I Just Don’t Want To

Ah, the final bastion of hold-outs.  Which I refer back to the beginning of this missive.  For your “choice” is not truly yours alone.  Do you have a significant other?  A best friend?  A parent?  A sibling?  Offspring?  Take a moment & consider the responsibility inherent in any caring relationship.

Particularly if you yourself are a parent – even aside the obvious, that EVERYONE should wear a helmet -- children are dependents.  Where will yours be if your horse simply stumbles at the wrong moment & like far too many I’ve known even locally, you suffer a catastrophic open skull fracture?

Yes, that’s a dire image, but it’s a very real one.  Horses bring a myriad of risks & we can’t negate them all, but this is, pardon the cliche, a no-brainer.

Don’t let yourself be caught in the complacency trap of “I don’t gallop over giant logs or anything,” either.

Treasured always
  • Ask my wonderful dressage trainer, experienced at PSG, who’s had surgical repairs to shattered ankles TWICE…while walking trained horses on flat trails.  
  • Ask my neighbour, whose leg just spent 8 weeks in a cast with pins…after his trail horse slipped walking down a hill.  
  • Ask me, who landed on my head two years ago…because Encore, STANDING STILL, suddenly felt like something stung him in a meadow.
Geez.  Trail riding is dangerous.  0.o

The Point Is…

Even if you don't want to do it for you, do it for the sake of those who love you.  For them, for me, the greatest gift you can give is sticking around.

July 24, 2015

Halt That Headshaking!

Nature no touchy!
Summer brings not just sweat, but the War of the Flies (sorry, William Golding).

You're attempting to make centerline approximate an actual line or ramble scenic trails or enjoy a sunset handgraze...only the tormented buzzing & biting around your horse's eyes & ears has you worried he might sprain his neck during the incessant attempts to shake the beasts off.

Bid Those Flies - And Sweat - Goodbye

It felt like my lucky day when our friends at sent us their -

1.  Extended nose flymask (UV protection for your pale-nosed friends!
2.  Fringed mesh fly veil

Fine, I'll nom-model  (1)
I hatez dinner pauses  (2)
What Makes Them Different?

You know those days when it's so hot & sticky that the mere thought of anything touching you makes you shudder in aversion?  Well, the horses agree.  And fly spray can only do so much (particularly in places where you can actually hear the deer flies snicker every time you squeeze the spray-bottle trigger).

So I really REALLY liked that both of these combined a physical barrier with fabrics which maximized airflow.  A horse's ears appear to be a very small body part, but, being thin-skinned & packed with blood vessels (i.e. gnat nirvana), those twin radar dishes play a huge role in heat exchange, just like your head & feet.

The mask was made of a quality-feeling structured screening, much like the SuperMasks I use to screen eyes in the trailer.  However, where I almost never use the latter in turnout as the heaviness of both the mesh & fleece seem to layer grit & sweat on Solo's face, the unique combination of the technical wicking material & much narrower jaw cut of the Horze mask means he's more comfortable.

What, Does He Nicker Twice For Yes?

Not quite, although I did learn this winter that he has an "I want my blanket" nicker, LOL.  But he freezes & sticks his head out when I approach with it now (Solo must have tasty eyeball juice, the flies seem to prefer it to Encore's?) & when removed at night, there's only a small patch of sweat on his crown.

Yes, he also is a member of the Pig Sweat club.

The veil struck a similar nice balance.  The retro-hippie-rasta vibe was just a bonus!

I use old-school browband veils while riding Solo every summer (alas, Encore gets mad at his own bangs touching him & violently shook OFF a cotton bonnet, although I may have to try this once...), but his ears are unprotected unless I add a conventional fly bonnet.  Bonnet fabric usually ends up soaked in sweat & the tight-fitting ears mean the deer & horse-flies bite through them anyway.

Adding the loose mesh to a veil was a novel idea.  Airspace between ears & mesh creates a little wider "DMZ" protection from bites.  The super-light mesh kept things cool, although I wouldn't try to add it to a turnout halter, I'd be worried it would tear off during vigorous tree scratching.

And we still had the strings functioning as the perfect forelock (vital for Solo The Follicularly Challenged), constantly moving to deter landings while not obstructing vision or trapping heat.  And um, hi, $7 is the kind of budget-friendly I'M talking about, thank you!

Who's got bangs now, dudez??
Be Prepared To Trim Or Size Down

Both items have a bit of an odd measurement.  Lengthwise, they were fine for Solo & would be spot-on for Encore (both are a normal 'horse' size, but Solo is short from ear to mouth; if I had money to burn, I'd buy cob cheekpieces for his bridles).  But the jowl straps were ENORMOUS.

They may be purposefully designed that way, it's simple enough to trim off the velcro ends.  There is certainly plenty if you do happen to have a horse with the cheeks of a Shire!

Or, if you are a just-in-case person, you can invent velcro patterns like I did:

You can check them out along with Horze's other Fly Weapons here.  Thanks once more to the great folks at for diversifying our arsenal!!