Tuesday, November 20, 2018

long overdue dressage lessons

As has been the case since I started taking lessons with dressage trainer C back in early 2015, every single lesson recap must apparently begin with expressing sadness that "it's been too long!" And then recount exactly how long it has been. This post will be no exception haha. Ahem.

So yea. It's been a while. For how much trainer C revolutionized my riding, I somehow am terrible about making time to ride with her. Last lesson was way back in May. No real excuse for the long dry spell either.

I mean, ok, I have excuses --- moving house this summer was a major kick in the financial teeth and required serious adjustments in my budget. When push came to shove, I guess I wanted to spend my limited dollars on events. Considering Charlie continued to progress on the flat despite not having purposeful dressage lessons, it seemed like an ok, if not ideal, sacrifice.

But I do love these lessons. And this farm. And the ring. And the footing. Basically all of it. And so, apparently, does Charlie.

finally back to this gorgeous nearby farm for our..... twice (??) annual pilgrimage?? 
Since moving to his current boarding barn last summer, we haven't done much solo traveling. There's never much of a need - there's almost always someone at our farm who wants in on whatever fun activity we're doing. So there's only ever just the occasional quick solo trip here and there, with the big exception of the hauls to and from New Bolton for Charlie's surgery. Which.... were not happy trips for Charlie, let me tell you.

So somehow I've developed a little bit of a complex, worrying about Charlie coping with being all by his sad lonesome self in the trailer! Poor long suffering soul!!! I shouldn't worry tho. Lol. He's fine. Totally 100% fine. Just like he always is.

Which, let's be real, that's always a very welcome and reassuring reminder!

charlie thinks the views are fine and whatnot, but would much rather focus on the hay plz!
So anyway we packed on over to TM for our first dressage lesson in absolute ages, and it was a good one. I got trainer C up to speed with what Charlie's been doing since May (#slaying), and told her what I told you guys last week: That Charlie seems ready to tackle first level.

And?? After putting us through our paces and through the components from 1-1, she agreed! Much excitement haha.

So. Details. My overall impression from this ride is that we didn't necessarily touch on anything new for me or Charlie. We covered all the ground I work on by myself (with the exception of counter canter - we saved that for another day since Charlie was too tired, poor pone pone).

By and large, trainer C didn't have any major corrections or changes to what we were doing, but instead was able to help with refinements and reaffirm that we're on the right track.

this counts as a riding shot, right?!
First up: my position. This is the most at-risk aspect of my riding when going so long without lessons. Like, I can make changes based on videos from shows (look no further than the difference in rein length from Jenny Camp to our final event of the season!). But.... it's not the same. And bad habits are HARD to correct once committed to muscle memory.

Particularly, trainer C noted that I consistently collapse my torso to the inside. It's something I know about, and try to fix when I notice it.... but having someone prodding me helps immensely. Overall, I need more symmetry and evenness on both sides of the horse. From my legs through my seat and hips up to my shoulders and down my arms as well.

And yes, trainer C wants my reins shorter too haha. Always. Charlie is extremely light in the bridle right now, and while it isn't exactly C's style, she's ok with it. But esp in a show setting, she says that my too-long reins and too-far-back hands can create the appearance of no connection. So she wants me carrying my hands more forward, maintaining a forward feeling in them, even if the weight in the reins doesn't change.

love his fuzzy ears and fluffy mane tho <3
Moving on to the horse, let's start with her thoughts on the trot. Generally speaking, trainer C wants us more forward in trot. Which echoes much of what I've heard from judges this year. It also echoes how we got Charlie started: forward forward forward, and everything else later.

It's a strategy that has worked well for Charlie, but in recent months I've kinda gone a little bit in the opposite direction with more of the Dan approach: slow slow slower, very round, very balanced. Developing the strength in this slower pushing tempo so that you can then carry the balance more forward. And, ya know, that approach has worked extremely well for Charlie too.

So I think I just need to be thoughtful in applying each approach. I like the "purposeful, slow" way of going bc that's part of what's made Charlie so much more rideable. He can be a very strong horse and sometimes hard to steer. But he *is* becoming capable of holding himself together even in that more forward pace. So I just need to go both ways, I think, but carefully so that I don't confuse Charlie or make him feel like the goal posts keep moving.

actual picture of charlie by the end of the lesson
Once in trot, we worked on leg yields, the 10m tear drop turns, and lengthenings. Trainer C is happy with how our leg yields are going. I just need to remember to be more even in my own position, and find those moments of straightness before and after the movement.

The 10m half circle tear drop turn thingys were actually better than expected. I practice them often (plus practice a metric fuck ton of square turns in general), but considering I usually ride in a 30m wide arena, I wasn't sure my turns were small enough. But they're actually pretty ok!

Turning left is easier than turning right, so I need to be extra prepared (ya know, by like, simple things like putting my left ass cheek in the saddle....#details). But it's nbd. Trainer C suggested making the turn a little bit more oval - like going a little further than 10m up the quarter line before finishing the turn back to X and then cutting back to the rail. This seemed to work well for Charlie and kinda broke the movement up into three distinct but smooth pieces.

Lengthenings were also better than expected! We hadn't practiced them since coming back into work, but Charlie remembers. We worked on these across the diagonals and down the long sides. Trainer C was cool with the little jolt-y steps that were almost breaks to canter bc Charlie is still figuring this out, but is definitely activating his "push" -- which is what we want.

She told me to just keep posting as clearly as possible with no discernible change in my rhythm, and to avoid telling him that push is wrong. She also wanted me to keep asking for more down the line. With Isabel, her lengthenings were so naturally just like, right there, that I would make the turn, half halt, cue for lengthening, and then just..... sit there and enjoy it haha. But with Charlie I'l need to be more proactive, continuing asking him to keep it up.

steaming in the heated wash stall!!
For the canter.... Well. Yea trainer C still LOVES Charlie's canter haha. He's such a good boy <3 But, ya know, she still also does *not* love how I sit it lol. Bc I still suck at sitting the canter. Still. Ugh. Blargh. WTF Emma.

I need to get my seat bones more down and under me, but not digging. And simultaneously a softer back and taller upper body. But ugh.... it's like I can do one of these things at a time, ya know? Like I can get the feeling in my seat, but then I'm slouching. Or I can be up and tall, but perching in my seat. I think a big part of the issue is that I hold everything in my back instead of my core. Like I'm somehow reversed lol. It's a tough thing to change....

In terms of work we did in canter, we did a few simple changes of lead through trot at X. These were fine - Charlie's been doing them since we started cantering. But I need to clean up the downwards. Especially right now when he's a little out of shape, we kinda "free fall" into them.

We also worked on lengthenings at canter. Which is not something I've actually practiced bc.... Honestly I haven't felt like we've needed it. Might sound weird but I kinda just figured the stride length would be there when we need it in the test (it's always right there when we jump!), and that it was more important to focus on the transition from lengthened to working by practicing moments of compression and collection.

Trainer C agreed with this approach, but wanted to practice anyway haha. So we worked on opening Charlie's stride down the long side. C wanted a slight feeling of shoulder fore in the lengthen. At first I struggled with this, not fully understanding and doing too much with my inside rein. She then said the feeling was about getting more "lift" in that inside shoulder, which helped me better understand and fix my positioning.

There was a clear difference in the feel of Charlie's alignment for the steps we got it, so that will be what I aim for when working on this at home.

"scuse me but can i just stay here forever tho???"
Charlie, for his part, was an absolute rockstar for everything. Extremely rideable, very much on the aids. Quickly reflecting each small adjustment I made. Like quick little bumps with the inside leg at canter (which reminded me of what Dan said about working more on leg yielding on a circle at canter) to help him pick himself more up - and he always responded.

He was very very tired by the end tho lol. Like I'm actually about 85% positive that trainer C thought we'd go through one last little work set before finishing.... But I called it for poor Charlie's sake haha. He's an extremely communicative and expressive horse - you never really need to guess how he feels. And at this moment, he was standing there with all four feet kinda parked under and head hanging lowwwww.

Homeboy was done lol. And that was totally cool. He had been so good, so so so good. Said yes to everything. Kept trying, kept pushing. Did not lose any quality of his work so that I hadn't even realized how tired he was until we took that break and he went into immediate pitiful "can we plz be done?!" mode lol. And so we were done.

mmmmmm heat lamps
Which meant Charlie got part 2 of the day: the spa treatment in the fancy schmancy heated wash stalls with - *gasp* - WARM water! And HEAT LAMPS!! I figured this was my last chance to give him a bath before he gets clipped without him actually wanting to murder me dead in the cold outdoor wash stall at our own barn so.... Yea. We capitalized haha. And damn but did he love every single second of it lol.

And apparently it was rejuvenating enough that he was happy to go galloping back out to his friends in the pasture when we got home. So..... maybe he wasn't so tired after all haha, considering he almost always just walks up the hill lol. Tricksy beast...

Anyway I know I always say this, but I really do love these lessons and hope to increase their frequency.... Even if it's just like, one a month. A girl can dream, right?

Monday, November 19, 2018

returning to form

Charlie wasn't really off of work for particularly long in the grand scheme of things, considering his base fitness and general level of schooling. All told, he was off for about 3 weeks and has returned to a regular schedule over the past week or so.

charlie demonstrating unparalleled form and exceptional technique haha
As far as I'm concerned tho, I never really want to miss an opportunity to reintroduce good basics and foundations to Charlie. Like, realistically, he's a pretty educated horse. He spent months and months learning how to make every. single. mistake. in the book when it comes to jumping, so that now he's more or less pretty easy.

remember when i used to sulk about how he'd stick out like a sore thumb amidst all the glossy plump well-upholstered hunters at our last place??? yea, me either
All the same tho, I like setting ourselves up for success. Bringing Charlie back using exercises he not only understands inside and out, but that are also explicitly designed to get his body moving correctly. Meanwhile, using those very same exercises to help me get my own sea legs back, without needing to worry too much about "finding a distance."

ooooooooh long line of one-strides with bonus bounce poles!
So when it finally seemed like maybe Charlie was ready to return to our normal weekly jumping lesson with Trainer P, I shot off a quick text to her that morning asking if we could do at least a little grid work haha.

charlie's an old pro at this game
Honestly I kinda love grids. And Charlie really seems to love them too. He understands them. They're a puzzle he knows how to crack. And there's nothing that Charlie likes better than being asked a question when he already knows the answer lol.

barrels to "help" with straightness
Plus the exercise itself is so beneficial. Especially at shorter distances (my favorite are the one strides), it's honestly pretty hard for the horse to mess up so badly that he can't more or less get through the exercise. In other words, when built up in a progressive manner the exercise can be very inviting - and minimally punishing to any sort of small mistakes.

treble of two strides, with fun new brick boxes
Meanwhile the grids just passively reinforce again and again that steady pace and tempo, and the carriage necessary to hold it. The jumps don't even have to be large to get the effect. Honestly I'm pretty sure ground poles or cavaletti work nearly as well, tho it's nice to have at least a little bit of height just to keep the horses from smashing everything to smithereens haha.

bounce panorama!! also with straightness rails at far right of pic
Realistically speaking, I won't even lie and be like "oh I don't care about jumping big" or whatever. Bc I do care. Charlie's the first horse I've ever ridden that makes the "big" (to us) jumps seem so accessible. It's so easy for him. He's fucking giant and bred for world class athleticism. And, ya know, it helps that he sure seems to enjoy it! And this feeling in him makes me hungry for more, eager to see how far we can go.

full schema of the exercises. ridden L to R to capitalize on narrow finishers for straightness
top = bounce line; middle = one stride line; bottom = two stride line
But ya know.... I'm still kinda occasionally an unreliable pilot lol. I get nervous and tighten up. I make mistakes and bad decisions. Get left behind. Pull when I should kick. Ya know. Adult amateur stuff. 

punky demonstrates the bounces
And it's no secret that our 'margin of error' gets smaller and smaller as the jumps go up. For instance, Isabel could bail me out of all sorts of silly mistakes pretty easily through 2'6. But once the jumps got to 3', my mistakes really really interfered with her ability to get shit done. And so the same mistake at these two different heights could yield very very different results.

charlie thinks he deserves a bite of carrot. hint: he totally did and totally got one <3
Charlie so far has proved to have a bit of a larger buffer zone. Thank god for the greenest packer that there ever was haha. But the limit *is* there - it definitely exists. I *can* ride this horse to a refusal at 3' in the arena. And as everyone remembers from Plantation, he's not above quitting on cross country either.

just sorta cantering bigly down the line haha
So I view grid work and gymnastics as being somewhat akin to an "investment." It helps us get in sync, get in the zone, get that right feel for what needs to happen. It sharpens Charlie's eye and mine, and gets both of us moving together without overthinking it.

he loves barrels
And naturally I can always rely on Trainer P to take my request for "at least a little bit" of grid work and go whole hog with it. This lesson was a grid-palooza. And it was perfect.

lah di dah, just canterin' along!
Charlie only kinda futzed the bounces his first time down, and then maybe again toward the end when he was getting tired. And our first trip down the treble of 2 strides was a little tight. Plus I had to stay engaged and focused on our straightness. Other than that, tho? The lines practically rode themselves. Charlie ate them up like candy.

impatient for his friends to hurry up and walk back to the barn!
He got the hang of it all immediately, and seemed genuinely pleased with himself for being so clever. THAT is the feeling I want in this horse when we're jumping!

So here's hoping that this feeling translates directly to our course work next time haha. And that we'll both be feeling ready and equal to the challenge when the jumps eventually go back up again.

Do you also have a tried 'n true exercise that you always like to return to after some time off? Something that works really well for your horse to 're-calibrate the parameters,' so to speak? Or are you still working on figuring that out for your horse?

Friday, November 16, 2018

The Good, The Bad & The Funny: 2018 on Video

Happy Friday, everyone!! It's gratitude season around here, and not only because of the rapidly approaching Thanksgiving Holiday!

But also because now is the time of year where it just feels right to look back and reflect on what's come to pass these last few months.

grateful for this amazing horse <3
I am grateful for so much. So so so much. Both in my horsey life as it's reflected here on ye olde blog, but also in life in general. This year in particular saw a few things come to pass that... ya know, are kinda a big deal for me.

Personally I'm not a big believer in the idea that everything happens for a reason... But things sure do have a way of happening. And like it or not, we all have to find a way to keep moving forward. This year, for me, was a year of forward momentum.

My plan is to pull together at least some variation of a recap summary of all the highs (and lows) in an upcoming post or series of posts before the year closes. Hopefully haha, bc let's be real -- those posts can be a real bear to write!! They're often worth it tho. Personally, I love reading them on other blogs, and love reliving my own too.

epic compilation video here!!! play with sound ON!!

For now, tho, I'm starting with my 5th 4th annual Compilation video haha. In years past, I separated the highlights from the blooper reels. This year, tho, the highs and lows were so intrinsically intertwined that it felt impossible for one to stand alone without the other.

So I changed up my formatting a little bit: combining everything together and segmenting by themes instead of adhering to a strict chronological order. First up, obviously, being the most immediate (gas-powered) comic relief haha, then recounting the best and the worst by phase.

And for shits and giggles, since it's a Friday anyway, here are the compilation videos from years past too. I love these videos so so so much. And it's so important for me to look back and remember what felt like a solid WIN back in 2014, for instance. The bloopers tho... ahaha, obvi they never get old either ;)


2017 bloopers

2017 highlights


2015 bloopers

2015 highlights


2014 bloopers

2014 highlights

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

is Charlie a First Level horse?

My history and relationship with dressage is.... maybe a bit complicated. Tho probably not especially uncommon.

Through all my years of riding, I could *recognize* the most superficial, obvious attributes of the riding style ("round, on the bit"), but actually *achieving* those results always felt like an enigma to me. Mysterious and inaccessible. So very, very very different from how I could ride.

maybe he could be a good dressage horse after all??
It wasn't until I decided to event with Isabel that we began to tackle this head-on. Initially I had exactly zero concept of how naturally gifted and talented Isabel was for the dressage... But eventually with the right coaching we grew to be a pretty good team, imho.

Isabel thus taught me a fairly deep appreciation for dressage. By the end of our time together, we were pretty solid at all things first level (and riding the eventing level equivalents of first level at shows), and schooling most of second level.

And to be perfectly honest, if I didn't have a deeply rooted desire to jump, I would have shifted our focus purely to dressage and kept at it with Isabel.

collage of the best moments from charlie's earliest efforts in the dressage court
As it is, tho, things change and now my landscape looks entirely different. Now I have a Charlie haha. And he is no Isabel in the dressage ring. He's built like a brontosaurus with lumbering labored gaits to match lol.

But he's a good boy. And while his gaits aren't flashy, they are correct(ish). His walk and canter in particular are very strong - arguably fundamentally better than Isabel's, tho she was maybe freer in her movement.

tho of course, here at 'Fraidy Cat Eventing we celebrate those.... other moments too haha
Charlie's capacity for handling pressure is.... well, not even close to Isabel's -- she was extremely special in that regard. But he's learning. I tend to view a horse's capacity for pressure as analogous to a muscle strength. With care, practice, and thoughtful repetition, it can be built and developed. And so Charlie has learned to accept more and more pressure.

Over the course of this past year, I've become really comfortable and confident in Charlie's progress as a solidly Training Level dressage horse. But if you recall, one of my goals was to be schooling all of First by the end of the year. Which.... Each time I checked in with the goals, I felt a little queasy about that. It felt very far away.

showing off how far he's come to wrapping up the 2017 season 
That is.... until I actually went back and revisited those tests haha. Upon reading through 1-1 again, it occurred to me that.... maybe Charlie is closer than I thought.

This might sound stupid, but that was kinda a revolutionary thought for me haha. Somehow, without realizing it, all my previous feelings about the mysterious inaccessibility of dressage had started creeping back into my mind and clouding my judgement as I restarted this very green OTTB.

and kicking off the 2018 season in.... some sort of frozen style lol
Going back to revisit Charlie's progress through this refreshed perspective, what I see more than anything else this past year is how far Charlie has come in his longitudinal balance. That is, his balance from nose to tail, his ability to shift more and more weight to his hindquarters.

Which, incidentally, the purpose of First Level specifically says that one of the distinguishing factors between First and Training is the horse's development of more thrust to achieve improved balance and throughness.

This proficiency is demonstrated in the tests through smaller circles (10m at trot and 15m at canter), the ability to lengthen stride in trot and canter, and the balance and suppleness necessary for leg yields and counter canter loops.

elegant charlie <3
Turns out.... Charlie routinely schools all of those things. Actually, almost every ride. So when I reread those tests.... it was kinda almost like a sack of bricks fell on my head lol. Like, "OMG wait, maybe we actually could do this!" Which sounds silly writing it out like that, but there ya have it.

Obviously tho, there's a big difference in schooling individual movements vs putting them all together, one on top of the other, in a test pattern. In my schooling rides, I generally don't ride a movement without feeling like we're prepared for it. Like if I want to leg yield down the quarter line, but we lose balance in the turn? We just circle out, fix our balance, and try again. Nbd.

by mid summer he really seems to have things figured out
So while we have experience with all of these pieces, I don't actually have a concept yet of how they'd all come together for us in a test environment. Tho since figuring out we're closer to being ready for this level than I previously thought, I've started at least stringing a few movements together in practice. Testing the waters, so to speak.

Realistically, tho, I'm pretty relaxed when it comes to the idea of "moving up." Obviously dressage is different from jumping --- there's substantially less inherent risk in the attitude of, "What the hell, let's give it a shot!" Even so, tho, I tend to be the biggest factor in holding myself back. Impostor syndrome is REAL, y'all.

And certainly there will always be people who believe you shouldn't move up a level until you're consistently scoring 7s across the board at your current level. Or that you should be so confirmed to the new level that even on your worst day, you can get through a test. But eh, I don't really subscribe to those opinions.

closing out the season with an accurate, obedient and competitive test
As far as I can tell, esp after a year spent volunteering and observing riders at all eventing and dressage levels, the biggest difference in riders at higher levels is that.... well, they're out there doing it. Mistakes still happen. Things can always fall apart or be messy when horses are involved. In any particular class at any given level, there are always stronger and weaker entries.

But there's something very real to be said for the riders who take the plunge and go for it. So I'm putting it out there now: I've come to the conclusion that Charlie is ready to try on a First Level test for size. And am hopeful we'll get some opportunities this winter to hit up some schooling shows. Ya know. To see what happens haha.

always more to work on. always. but feels like the next step is within reach!
Have you ever had similar "epiphanies" about your horse's training? Like waking up one morning to realize that, suddenly your green bean isn't so green anymore? Or that something that used to be a huge challenge now comes easily?

Likewise, do you feel similarly about moving up a level? Are you more likely to just kinda go for it, or more likely to be more reserved to really ensure that you're 110% ready before entering at A? Does it depend on the situation? Or the horse?

Sunday, November 11, 2018

flashback to an old favorite

For no particular reason, here's a flashback to a favorite video of Isabel.

It's not a video of impressive accomplishments. No no, the jumps are small and we're riding inside the tiny dusty indoor in the depths of winter/spring.

pretty mare bc pretty
Honestly it's hard to tell why I like this video so much haha. Except that it's such a clear example of what kind of mare Isabel is. Esp when I get lost mid-exercise.

I love watching Isabel's face as I bring her to a halt and hash it out with my trainer. Then, as if it were nothing, she just picks up her canter and proceeds like a rockstar. Like if it weren't for my erroneous piloting skills she'd just be winning literally everything haha.

Charlie will be like that one day -- tho admittedly he'll never be as nimble and cat-like as that fancy schmancy pocket rocket arab mare!

Do you ever have favorite moments that? Maybe not the earth shattering major accomplishments or whatever, maybe instead they are the small inconsequential moments in between.... but they say so much more about the partnership or the horse?

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Charlie's dad bod 2.0

Charlie ended up getting almost another week of rest since our glorious trail ride. If you recall: a couple weeks ago he appeared to have aggravated an old splint injury from last spring.

Per Charlie's natural gift for excellent timing, it happened to be on a day we were supposed to do a much-anticipated clinic with local BNR Stephen Bradley. Famous for, among other things, being the last US rider to win the title at Burghley.

somewhere buried inside my fluffy stout OTTB is a chiseled jumping machine haha
But no. We were instead sidelined with another big fat leg, evoking haunting memories from last fall when Charlie was on a similar trajectory of progressively worse aggravations to a previously-healed splint. Eventually culminating in the bone abscessing and requiring surgical removal.

for now, tho, we fluffy! and dressed up for the long dark walk up the drive to the arena
There is literally no reason, according to anyone who matters, to believe we should have a similar outcome this time around.

I even wasted hundreds and hundreds (and hundreds) of dollars on a full set of rads and an MRI just to confirm this. Just to be told what I already knew: wrap and bute and get the swelling out, plus some SMZs, then back to normal.

current state: dusty
I gave Charlie a little extra time off tho, just to be sure. Then opted to bring him back extremely slowly: mostly walking walking walking. But the day after his third ride back (that glorious trail ride I wrote about last week), the leg looked a little big to me again.

Like, realistically it was just a bit stocked up. Not even necessarily noticeable to anyone less crazy than me. The horse is stalled overnight through the winter and had only been turned out for about an hour when I went to get him. So it's not unreasonable that Charlie's relatively high-mileage legs might be a little filled. Except it was only that one leg.

look at that big ol' belly tho! 
Which like, ugh. Whatever. I just left him out in the field and went home. After, ya know, calling the vet to be like "OMG IT'S BIG AGAIN THO!!!!!" ... "Well, ok, just a little big." ... "But it shouldn't be big at all, wahh!!" and having her basically say to call back if it was still big the next day.

Bc. Yea. Big legs happen in the world of Charlie horses. Sure enough, the next night the leg was as cold and tight as it ever gets. But all the same, I opted to give him more time off. Just to be sure. I guess. Who knows.

i esp appreciate how much fuller he's gotten through his hind end. he'll always be an angular bronto with a peaked back, but at least we don't have any actual bones jutting out anymore!
Anyway, tho, the silver lining is that Charlie stayed entirely sound this whole time. Actually, idk if that's a "silver lining" or "infuriating detail" when I'm sitting around not riding my favorite horse. But whatever. In the grand scheme, it's a good thing.

And so finally, after what was effectively a few weeks off, I'm getting Charlie going again. Honestly the time off has been good for him, I think. It was the plan all along to give him a couple weeks off this fall anyway, I had just hoped to squeeze in that clinic and one last horse trial first. Oh well, nbd.

speaking of fluffy tho
Now that the clocks have changed we're limited to the rings on weeknights. Luckily the outdoor rings are lighted, even tho the lights esp in the dressage ring are kinda crappy.... More often than not, tho, that's where I end up. And that's where I ended up for Charlies "first ride back 2.0" haha.

And he.... wow he actually felt pretttttty incredible. Like, big-giant-powerful-OTTB-fresh-off-a-few-weeks-rest incredible. Sure, our steering was faulty, our downward transitions could best be described as "free falls," and my repeated requests for a slower pace were politely (but resolutely) declined.....

yea 100% obsessed with this little fella
But damn. Charlie felt good. Really loose and soft through his entire topline from poll to tail. Really pushing with each step, big and round and uphill. Honestly he just felt like a LOT of horse. But in the best way possible. It's.... wow, a really addictive feeling haha.

I hadn't cantered the horse at all since his big leg, but have opted to do so these first few rides. Mostly just to see. I want to know if riding him is going to produce another big leg. Bc, ya know, that's kinda an important question to answer when you're trying to train a horse for sport haha.

fall sunsets, soon to be winter. but not yet!
Luckily, tho, so far so good. Charlie's leg has remained cold and tight. And he just feels like a million dollars under saddle.

Obviously my intent is still to take it easy. Going into the off season, really my main focus is working on the basics, working on his own physical strength and well being.

And as such, I'm pretty cool with the fact that he's become a little.... stout lately haha. He's just a rolly polly little ball of putty lol, and I've got the whole fall and winter to reshape him into his next level of badassery. Hopefully with all four legs still firmly attached and healthy!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

this looks 'shopped

I can tell from some of the pixels and from seeing quite a few 'shops in my time!

Tho admittedly it would be pretty cool if Joe Flacco rode my horse haha. To Glory!!! Or something!!

Or if there were some sort of device to alleviate Charlie's tendency to injure his forelimbs haha. Why not just get rid of 'em entirely?!

Of course, Charlie isn't my only subject -- who remembers rocket powered Isabel?!? Complete with tied-on unicorn horn??

So much personality in such a little package, it was fun to try and capture that in pixels lol.

Paper cutouts are another favorite of mine. You're already all familiar with the handsome blue thoroughbred who graces my banner, but does anyone recognize that sporty little maroon pony??

And speaking of elegant and refined thoroughbreds, how about this dapper fellow?

Tho perhaps many of you are more familiar with the fire breathing varietals haha. Spicy mares are spicy!

I'm personally biased toward my own beloved brontosaurus tho.

Esp when he's responsible and conducts his civic duty with pride!!

What about you - ever been inspired to, ahem, embellish or otherwise illustrate your horse's distinguishing characteristics?! What would your horse look like??