Last week, I flew to Cincinnati to buy this behemoth known as a “toterhome” — it’s a big, big truck with living quarters attached to the cab, plus a bed in the back long enough to attach a gooseneck trailer. Her name is “Helga.”
Toterhomes are mostly used by people who race cars, but I’ve seen a few at most horse trials too. Basically, I’ll use this to haul Martha Deeds’ big four-horse trailer when we’re competing in horse trials far from home, as well as for our month-plus trip to Aiken, South Carolina. (In Aiken, I’ll live in it.) It’ll give us more living space and more amenities than Mart’s trailer alone, including a kitchen and bathroom. Also, Paul and I will be able to go on treks with it, with or without the horses. I’m even using it for this weekend’s clinic with Eric Horgan, as the horses and I will be staying at Mart’s.
It’s quite something to drive, but I managed over 1200 miles in a day and half for the trek home — including through some city streets and gnarly construction.
Now I just need to buy myself an “I love fossil fuels” t-shirt!
Here’s the video from my helmet cam of Lila’s cross-country round at the Greenwood Farm Horse Trial in Texas. (That was last Sunday.) In sum, Lila jumped wonderfully boldly from a gallop for so much of the course — until disaster struck! — and then we recovered to complete the course nicely.
Here’s the video, but you might want to read the description below it for context before watching.
The bold jumping that Lila gave me throughout this course is exactly what I’ve been struggling to get from her for some months. Her hock injections, plus some changes in how I rode her, made a huge difference.
In particular, I was so proud of her (and me!) for how we jumped the trakehner. Trakehners are logs set over ditches, and this was a max height log (2’11″) over a deep ditch. Lila isn’t great with ditches, and I’ve always been freaked out just by the thought of these fences. We’ve not ever schooled over them, although we jumped a log with a half-ditch under it in the horse trial at Santa Fe. (We didn’t do that very well, however.)
Over this trakehner — which you’ll see right after the white fence — I cantered her into it with plenty of gusto and determination, and I kept my eyes above the horizon. She jumped it without the slightest hesitation, and you can hear just how pleased I was by that.
Not too long after that, we had our minor disaster at the log fence headed into a gully. I was quite tired heading up the hill into the pasture. (My stirrups were a hole shorter than they’d ever been, which was good, but extra-tiring.) So I didn’t sit her down in the way that I should have in the few strides before the fence, and I probably didn’t give her any leg. I was just a passenger, and that’s never good.
So as you can see on the video, she stopped suddenly in the stride before the fence, and I was thrown forward, hard. I ended up in front of the saddle, arms wrapped around her neck, with my face looking close-up at her ears. I really really didn’t want to fall off, so I shimmied backwards when she raised her head and neck. That took just a second or two.
As soon as I sat up — still in front of the saddle — Lila decided that she’d had enough. She began cantering back up the hill, and I started getting pretty scared as she went faster and faster. I realized that I could have a pretty bad fall unless I stopped her pronto, so I put on whatever brakes I could, stopped her with some difficulty, and then wiggled myself back into the saddle. You can hear the panic in my voice during that segment. Yes, that is funny! Laugh away!
Then we jumped the fence properly, and we finished the course just fine. (Well, the ditch to the brush was a bit rough, but we got through it.) The only casualty was my glasses, which I never did find.
Despite that bit of craziness, I’m soooo proud of Lila for jumping so well. Obviously, I need to work on my balance and endurance in my cross-country two-point, and that will get done in the next few months. (It’s already underway!)
We ended up in last place, but that’s fine. Lila showed me a whole new level of potential on this very difficult course — the most difficult novice course we’ve ever done — and that pleases me greatly.
Here’s some video from late July — when Martha Deeds, Jill Garzarelli, and I schooled cross-country at the Colorado Horse Park. This was Lila’s first time over training-level fences. We had a few refusals (e.g. at the corner), but she was really great overall. Who would have predicted that my lazy, opinionated, on-the-forehand draft-cross would be such a capable eventer?!? She’s my girl!
I like this:
About 10 years ago, I sat down with Phillip Dutton and asked him what I could do to be more competitive. The first thing he told me was to “never underestimate how long it took me to get mentally strong enough to be this good.” He didn’t say I needed better horses, more lessons or more money. None of those things hurt, but they will not take the place of mental strength. I think other sports focus more on this than eventing, but we need to realize how integral it is to our success.
Personally, I feel like I’m gaining experience in all the varieties of mistakes that I can make every time I compete. I figure that so long as I’m making new mistakes, all is well. Also, once I start competing Phantom, I’m going to have to make a whole new slew of mistakes, just because she’s so different from Lila.
So when I get impatient with myself, as I often do, I need to remind myself, “never underestimate how long it took me to get experienced enough to be this good.”
Tomorrow morning, I’ll head to Santa Fe for a weekend competition on my horse Lila. We won’t return until Sunday evening. As a result, I won’t broadcast any live radio shows this week… and I won’t do much more blogging for the rest of the week.
However, that doesn’t mean that I’ll leave you high and dry! I’ll post a brand-new podcast on Sunday. It’ll be the lecture entitled “Moral Conflicts and the Virtue of Justice” that I gave at ATLOSCon in 2012.
Here’s the abstract:
As we live our lives, some people will harm us by their moral wrongs and honest errors, and we may commit such wrongs and errors ourselves. Objective moral judgment is an essential part of the rational response to such events. Yet circumstances often call for more than judgment: sometimes, forgiveness and redemption come into play. In this lecture given to ATLOSCon in 2012, I explored the nature, function, and limits of forgiveness and redemption in relation to the virtue of justice. Then we applied that understanding to common examples of wrongs and errors.
So be sure to be on the lookout for that… and have a fabulous rest of the week!
Paul and I are on vacation, and yesterday, we hiked six miles along “Cucumber Stream” near Breckenridge. At the mid-point of our hike, I waded into said stream in my Vibrams to cool off my feet. The stream was not merely cool, but OMFG COLD!! After just a few seconds, my feet got “brain freeze.” (Really, the feeling was just the same, only in my feet.)
Here are some choice pictures that Paul Hsieh took as I walked back through the water to the blessed shores of dry land.
I swear that I was not hamming it up for the camera. That water was was insanely cold.
Phantom arrived this evening! She’s here, and she’s mine, mine, mine!!!
I’d gotten everything ready in advance, so when she got off the trailer, I just took her up to the barn, walked her around the area, and then let her loose. She trotted and cantered a bit — not due to any great anxiety or excitement, but just to stretch her legs after two long days in the trailer coming from Atlanta. After a bit, she got in a good roll and then settled down to eat hay.
For now, Phantom is staying in the dry lot which surrounds the barn. Lila is in the neighboring ring, so they’ve said hello a few times. (Elsie departed to a new home yesterday evening, so Lila has been lonely for the past 24 hours!) Tomorrow, I’ll turn Lila and Phantom out to pasture together. (Right now, that pasture is occupied by the lovely quarter horse mare of the guy who trailered Phantom out to Colorado. He’s spending the night in his live-in trailer before heading out tomorrow.)
I’m just amazed by how smoothly everything has gone with this purchase of Phantom. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that it was meant to be!
Last weekend, Paul and I headed to Atlanta for ATLOSCon, a weekend-plus conference produced by the Atlanta Objectivist Society. We couldn’t attend the whole conference due to conflicts in our schedule, but we greatly enjoyed ourselves nonetheless. So if you’re interested in Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism and you’d like to meet a slew of interesting, benevolent, and happy people, set aside Memorial Day of 2015 to attend! The conference just gets better every year, and new faces are very welcome.
Two days before heading to Atlanta, Martha Deeds suggested that I look at horses to buy there, as the pickings are very slim for thoroughbreds in Colorado. My reaction: “Uh uh uh…. OKAY!” I drove out to Conyers with Arthur Zey on Sunday evening to check out a just-off-track thoroughbred mare, and I liked her so much that I bought her!
She’s very forward, she’s built uphill, and she’s powered from behind. All of that is critical, but I fell in love with her big floating gaits and unflappable attitude, which you can see in this video:
I rode her too, of course — walk, trot, and canter. I even jumped her over a little crossrail a few times. She’s very, very green (i.e. inexperienced, untrained), but she’s also calm, sensible, and willing.
She only raced nine times. Apparently, she never took to it. Her race name is Phantom Opera. I don’t want keep that, although I like “Phantom.” I think I might compete her as “Phantom Luck,” but I’ll call her Phantom or Fanny (Phanny?) at home. Oh, and here’s her pedigree.
She’ll be mine — ALL MINE — when she arrives from Atlanta in just a few days! We’ll have lots and lots to learn together. Since she’s so recently off-track, I’ll be training her slow and easy for the next few months. (She needs to gain about 100 pounds too.) Meanwhile, I’ll continue to train and compete Lila, who will soon have a new friend!