Thursday, March 23, 2017

busy work for idle hands

Idle hands, but certainly not an idle mind. My mind is full right now of all things Loch Moy this weekend. FULL. I'm excited, guys.

task 1: inventory all the navy things!!
What can I say, but that I love horse shows? The 2015 competition season marked the first time in my life that I had the means, ability, and wherewithal to compete to my heart's content - and Isabel was right there in lockstep beside me, rising to every occasion and eating it up like candy.

It might sound sappy or weirdly nostalgic, but we accomplished more than I could have ever dreamed that year. And the way the year ended, and then our inability to return to the same level.... well. Ya know, I'm still sad about that.

task 2: continue shoving all of the food into that damn skinny ottb
All's well that ends well, tho. I'm not necessarily an "everything happens for a reason" kinda gal, but I can be a little existential in moving on with life. A little. lol....

So now there's Charlie. And it turns out I really kinda like this horse. He's a good boy, ya know?

task 3: admit that big fat fluffy dutch braids are probably not gonna happen despite my best intentions, so something's gotta be done about that mane
And I'm really hoping he'll be the horse to get me back to doing all the things a la 2015. Maybe, if we're lucky, he'll like the sport well enough to eventually cart my sorry ass back up to novice. But that's getting a little ahead of the game. That's all for the future.

task 4: do a shitty job pulling said mane, take even shittier pictures of the job, and then kinda panic bc why da fuq does his neck look EVEN SKINNIER post-pull?? #doinitwrong. repeat task 2 ad infinitum.
For now, I'm plenty nervous enough to do the little 18"/2' stadium round (no cross country for us this go-round, gotta at least pretend to school first!). And for now, I'm putting zero pressure on our performance. This weekend we're adopting the endurance motto of "To Complete is To Win."

task 5: nothing soothes the restless mind like persnickety arts and crafts projects, right? also, yes, that's a hot glue gun. #sewingisforsuckers #butonlybcikilledmysewingmachineoops
This is obviously aided by the fact that since we're only doing the combined test (just stadium + dressage), we're kinda automatically out of the ribbons anyway (unless there's enough CT entries.... but that's besides the point). So even if I let my competitive edge get the best of me... there isn't actually anything to compete against.

task 6: embrace the fancy garb to compensate for decidedly not-fancy horse. yasss this'll do!
Except for my goals. Which are, as always, quite simple: Have fun and try our best. Ideally we'll finish with a number and not a letter, but I'm honestly not even committed to that as a goal. Bc for now, I'd rather sacrifice some penalties for something like a circle in stadium if it means Charlie gets a cleaner approach to the jumps.

Really the most important thing is that we can have riding experiences (in the warm up and show rings) that allow Charlie to feel like he did the thing and was a good boy. And that allow for me to build confidence and keep my little dream alive.

task 7: keep my inner mental crazy kitties herded and well contained plz
We'll see what happens. If it goes well you can guarantee that we'll be cracking a celebratory beer or two! And... if it turns into more of a learning experience, well... then maybe we'll have a few extra beers on top haha. With an attitude like that, ya can't lose, right?!? (maybe don't answer that!)

Do you have favorite ways of psyching yourself up for shows? Does it depend on whether you've been competing often or are returning after a long break? Or are riding a seasoned veteran vs rookie green bean? Or maybe you hate horse shows completely and the idea of a competition gives you the heebie jeebies? 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

future elegant horse?

Ok. So. Dressage. We've actually been doing a lot of it lately! Which is a good thing bc.... Well. Let's be real. I didn't buy Charlie for his 10+ gaits. Homeboy is.... not a fancy mover. Or. At least. Not yet.

only half fancy bc we had to ditch the hind boots bc of rubs. le sigh.
Jump trainer P from OF commented upon first meeting him that Charlie has the build and expression to make for a very "elegant" picture when he's more trained up.

And.... I've been clinging to that shred of hope ever since lol - through every near-face plant, and every downward transition replete with forging, and every cancerous circle where my opinions re: control of the shoulders are wildly disregarded.

the walk ain't bad tho!
Basically, Charlie has a solid walk and canter. Arguably more important, as those gaits are less easily influenced and developed than, say, the trot. Charlie's trot is.... not exactly shitty, but certainly trending in that direction.

"Earthbound" is one word for it. "Heavy on the forehand" is an understatement. And, in fact, for a horse whose withers are objectively higher than his croup, he can have an extremely downhill way of going. #racehorseproblems

all of today's pictures are screen shots from a tripod video - meaning the video had no zoom or focus and we only briefly flitted in and out of frame at random. so... all the pics are super blurry and i had a really hard time isolating actual nice moments bc the videos were all like 8min long... kinda sorry, honestly. but i have so few pictures of our flatwork that i'm going to take 'em where i can get 'em! the above is chosen bc... well. that's about as "light" on the forehand as charlie gets right now.
So all my lessons with dressage trainer C are focused on making him more rideable off his hind end, and helping him build more strength to carry his balance more horizontally. Tactic #1 in this regard has been to ride that damn horse more forward. Get him moving quicker off my legs, quicker off the ground. Get that hind end more active.

Just... everything quicker and more active.

pretty good shot of charlie working on getting more forward, while the hind legs are decidedly slow
Trainer C wants me to be thinking about asking for more inside bend with my inside leg - pushing him out into the outside rein. Turn and push him out (much like trainer P's "Bend & Send"). Even on the short end of the arena, turn a little early and push him out.

Always be displacing his barrel a little to the outside - to encourage increased activity with his inside hind and try to get him a little quicker off the ground. Charlie is too slow on the ground, especially with his hind end, which is constantly playing catch-up to his front half.

trainer C specifically does not want me letting his head go any lower or farther out - he's maybe learning to use his longitudinal balance a bit like a teeter-totter. gotta get that hind end stepping under consistently before we worry about what his head is doing
And for me, I need to really get better about "kick then be done." Being quicker with my own aids (leg, rein, everything) then take them off. Be quickquickquick with the leg to send him on, and then be done, letting him quietly fade before quickquickquick, spurt forward again.

Every time I turn (building in half circles and frequent changes of direction across the diagonals), think about 'hitting the gas pedal' - turning him and pushing the gas. Really the whole warm up should be focused on getting the horse to be a little quicker. Getting him to respond. Doesn't matter what kind of response, just need something.

pictured: why i needed longer reins
We practiced getting a couple of these 'spurts' or 'surges' forward in a row - looking for the horse to promptly shoot forward when I ask (vs being lowkey disdainful of my constant nagging) - and then changed direction as a reward.

so annoyed that the hind boots rubbed bc flashy white hind boots would definitely help mask the fact that his hind end is so dramatically playing catch up lol
In the same vein, we practiced walk to trot transitions, where as soon as Charlie gave a forward trot, he could walk again. And I was to keep the contact in walk and keep him on the aids, then trot again. And as soon as he was 'forward' and prompt off the aids, walk again. Often after the first or second go, Charlie was shooting off immediately into his forward trot, and we could very quickly ask for walk again.

These upward transitions are the important practice for Charlie. Whereas the downwards are important practice for me. Trainer C wants me to post in a steady rhythm through the downward transition, using inside thigh to outside rein without fixing or locking anything for Charlie to lean against. Post slower and slower until he walks so that he doesn't lock up his hind end, or splat down into the floor. And it doesn't matter if it takes us 10 laps to do so.

dis our right lead canter transition. SASS!!
but. BUT! it's prompt and basically reliable. as are both leads lately!
This is the same tactic more or less that we use to work on compressing the trot, something I've tried to be a little more serious about since our last dressage show. Just keep thinking 'thigh to outside rein' and asking him to waitwaitwait in the trot (without locking against him) and when he's almost walking, trot forward again.

Go figure, this is all getting easier the more we practice.

<3 his canter even if i couldn't get a good picture
The canter has continued to improve too. We reliably have departs on both leads, tho the right depart is a little sassy right now. Doesn't matter tho. Trainer C wanted me to be careful not to get busy or "lift" Charlie into the canter. Mostly tho she's pretty happy with how he's going.

In our most recent lesson, we actually added in shallow counter canter loops, which Charlie was totally foot perfect for. That surprised C haha... but I chalk it up to Charlie's skillz at dodging lesson kiddos in a crowded indoor lol.

the trot after a canter is usually better. not always - esp not if we just get flat and race-y, but usually.
All of the above directives were put into play in practicing a little bit of test work too: center line turns and halts. For a while now I've been trying to corral Charlie's wayward shoulders by 'catching' or blocking with my outside rein... but it turns out pushing him out with my inside leg when it feels like his shoulders are falling out has actually been more effective.

Probably bc the falling shoulder is actually a symptom of a disengaged hind end, and bending him around my inside leg increases engagement, which then brings his shoulders back into line? Maybe? Idk, whatever the case, our center line turns greatly improved. Phew! And obviously all the practice on transitions into and out of and within trot made for better halts at X.

We haven't bothered actually running through our test ahead of next week's show bc... well. Idk, I feel like we're better served by letting trainer C mold and sculpt us in real time, and all this focus on Charlie's rideability and hind end engagement will play a role in making for a stronger test on show day anyway.

both saddles appear to be fitting better with the re-configured half pad shims. and i may be deluding myself, but his topline in the dip behind his shoulders is looking less pinched lately too.
Really tho, the biggest takeaways for Charlie's dressage training right now are to focus on all things 'activity behind.'

Especially bc the horse has learned how to use his longitudinal balance a bit like a teeter totter against me haha. So I need to be careful not to let him get his poll too low, or his neck too far away from me. A too-low head just means that he's pulling his weight off the hind end - instead I should be thinking about keeping him at least horizontal, and riding the hind legs more 'under' him.

The horse isn't pulling me out of the saddle even close to how he used to... but we're definitely still very much working on that inclination. Progress is happening, tho, slowly. And I'm still clinging to my dreams of a "Future Elegant Horse" haha....

Monday, March 20, 2017

one week of winter

Remember when I said last week that at least we didn't have any of that nasty white stuff on the ground? Even tho it had suddenly gotten quite frigid here?

white stuff PLUS ice ice everywhere
Obvi I spoke a little too soon, alas. Bc we got ourselves a nice little storm here last week... Another lovely ice storm, this time masquerading as snow. Really tho, it was just ice. So much ice. Ugh.

snow ponies!
Honestly tho it worked out ok, timing wise. Charlie worked hard and well last week (between the jumping lesson with no media, and a dressage lesson with LOTS of media that I still haven't written about yet... sorry!), so a little downtime wasn't gonna be the end of the world.

"mm hay. no care 'bout no snow bc hay." - charlie
Plus I had some work commitments (DC and NYC) that I would have probably felt less fantastic about had the weather been actually pleasant. Really my only regret is not managing to coordinate a massage for Charlie during the downtime. Except, well... it was kinda nasty enough out that probably the massage therapist had her hands full with her own farm's work anyway.

"maybe i should wear 3 layers more often so i don't look so skinny all the time !!
So mostly Charlie's just been chillin for the past week. Had Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off. A light work out on Thursday focused mostly on moving the horse around (walking for 20+ minutes) with some purposeful trot and canter mixed in for good measure. Horse was very good.

trekking across the "icy tundra"
Then Saturday we missed our OF lesson bc of my own obligations and the nasty ground conditions, so we had a solid school in the indoor at home then a pleasant hack around the snowy grounds. At least by this point, daytime temperatures were starting to boomerang back up to more Spring-appropriate levels and the snow began melting pretty quickly!

brave into the puddles!
Sunday we got back on the "training for real" bus in a big way with another dressage lesson (twice in two weeks - a new record!) so I'll really have to get around to writing about both those rides asap haha. And this week I'm hoping to be more consistent and thoughtful about each of our rides.

Because...

the extra long / shaggy mane is to keep him extra warm. obvi.
We're officially in the count-down phase to Charlie's "eventing" debut! Sure, we're just doing the CT instead of the full event (and therefore may only be riding HC). And sure - the current weather forecast might make the name "puddle jumpers" a bit more literal than anybody intended (or wanted).

But in my mind, this is "it." It's the real deal - our first real event. And I'm pretty freakin excitednervous haha. Will Charlie be cool with side-by-side dressage courts? Or horses running xc in the distance? Will the PA system bother him? Will he be cool with actually navigating a full jump course for the first time ever? (unless we somehow manage to practice this week lol).

Who knows! But I'm looking forward to finding out! Happy Monday, y'all - hope you had a good weekend with better weather than we did!

Friday, March 17, 2017

#allwinners

So I just want to say a great big giant THANK YOU!!!! To everyone who participated in the 2017 EVENTING BINGO! Door Prize Contest.

I'm absolutely blown away by the creativity, hilarity, and heaping doses of straight up #failsauce that you all were able to imagine in your stories. Seriously. Reading along has been better than I could have believed!!

RIBBONS FOR EVERYONE!!!!!
seriously tho, stand by for your individual (digital) ribbons, y'all, bc they are coming!!
And of course - as such, I'm pleased to announce the winner of the $25 Riding Warehouse Gift Certificate. Except, well, I went ahead and decided to draw 2 winners bc this has seriously been so awesome.

Congratulations to: Michele J & Cathryn!!!

#winning
Michele's story pulled double duty as her contest entry AND her introduction to the equestrian blogging community, since she FINALLY pulled the trigger on starting her own blog. You can follow along with her and the adorable Remus at Fat Buckskin in a Little Suit (and yes there are in fact pictures to back up that blog title haha!).

Our other winner, Cathryn, from Two and a Half Horses (nee That Red Mare), is probably already pretty well known to most of you. If you missed her story tho, I highly recommend you go check it out. Two words: Spud. Eventing. With some killer photoshop mixed in for good measure.

overcoming #eventingbingo obstacles??
Anyway, Michele - keep an eye out in your inbox for the gift cert. And Cathryn - shoot me an email at fraidycat.eventing at gmail!

For the rest of you - all 31 of you crazy creative story tellers - I'm not quite done with you yet. Stay tuned over the next few days bc I'm going to be pulling together all your stories into organized collections to be posted here and on the 2017 Eventing Bingo page for posterity and enjoyment by all.

and a little bit of fail too. all the ingredients for the greatest stories!!
Oh. And there will be (digital) ribbons. I haven't 100% decided on the hows and the whats for that... But I'm determined. So. Stay tuned!!

Seriously - thanks again everyone for playing along! If you haven't already, scroll through the comments of the Eventing Bingo page for a sampling of some of the amazingness that has gone down in the past few days.

And for the rest of you - feel free to grab the eventing bingo cards from that page too and play along as the season unfolds, checking off appropriate boxes as you go. Bc I definitely want to know if you catch a winner in real life too!! I for one will be keeping the blog up to date on my own cards' progress through the season!

Happy Friday, y'all!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Double Whammy: Guest Post EBx2

Hi Guys!  I am Emma’s riding buddy, Brita.  I used to ride a very calm horse Wick, and now I ride a spirited horse Bella.  Went from boy to girl and chestnut to grey.  Big changes our way but we are up for the challenge and especially a friendly game of bingo!  I am only good at a couple things and unfortunately, for you, bingo is one of them.  ;)

before the season
Well! The dream has come true! The Bingo Victory is ours!  The top board, second line took it away.  Now, if you are someone with bad eyes, like myself, I am happy to read to you what happened to bring us to the greatest win of all time.

after the season
They are:
- Trotted the biggest xc fence on course
- Spooked at the jump judge
- Passed another horse on xc
- Got an 8 on a movement
- Your horse was “THAT” horse in warm up

We’ll start with trotting the biggest fence.  We are actually trotting experts at this point.  Bella loves to overwhelm herself with the idea of jumping a fence.  So our trainer has us trot most fences.  Fortunately, for this particular fence Bella decided to stress herself out and we had to circle and then trot the fence.  When in doubt more leg right?  Or sometimes I just call it a serious leg hug.  All the leg hugs…all the time.  So it was our first table and we trotted right over it.  Good pony!

  
On to the next!  Spooked at the jump judge.  Honestly, I thought the lovely woman wearing the straw hat in the stand was going to eat us as well.  The audacity of her to allow her pet alligator and shark to sit with her for OUR course was rude, but we made it through the course and exercised our lovely sidepass with flared nostrils all while snorting.

"WTF IS THAT" - Bella
We passed another horse on xc.  Whats the big deal?  Bella was flying and well, honestly, I wasn’t going to stop her because I wanted a celebratory drink as well.

Cocktail Bella: apple slices and carrots in water with rocks
Beverage Brita: A cold cheap beer

the little lady can run!
We got an 8! And actual 8!  I teach Pre K kids all day long on how to make a circle and they look at me like it’s one of the hardest things they will even have to do.  Secretly I want to tell them that “yes, circles suck…they’re the worst”.  Shits crazy when you need to turn out there in the chains.  Anyway we got our 8 on one circle, one time, on one test.  Drop mic.

"Circles are our friend" - Bella
"No. They're not." - Brita
Saving the best for last. We were THAT horse.  Bella loves to show her athleticism….whatever you want to call it….athleticism, spirit, drive, skill, personality, heart, all of the above words.  It’s there.  I decided I was able to cross this one off when I had one rider ask me: “Please don’t take this the wrong way but…is it safe to ride her?” And another one said “You might want to send up a prayer before you start your course.”  Both concerns taken into account but ya just gotta take the bull by the horns in this case.  We lived and it was mainly enjoyable.

why be a horse when you can be a deer??
Hope everyone has an awesome season! I look forward to hearing about everyone and their amazing horses!!!

-Brita & Bella


-----------------------------------

Not to be outdone, Rachael is also here to tell her tale of Eventing Bingo Woe with Birdie!

The show day began like any other, with a painfully early morning wake up call. I rolled my top half out of bed, feeling for the soft gel of my silicone breeches somewhere in the dark abyss below my bed.  I instantly felt the sharp pang of regret when the blood rushed to my head and pounded at my ears, I knew I had made a series of bad decisions the night before that had led me into hangover hell.  I pulled myself together, thankful that in my drunken state I had decided it would take me an extra thirty minutes to get ready. I made my way out the door and safely to the McDonald’s drive through. The normalcy of the morning show routine did not give any indication of the disastrous day to follow. 

that might look like a blanket. don't be fooled. it's SOLID MUD
I made my way to the farm, five miles below the speed limit and just as slowly nibbling on my bacon, egg, and cheese bagel, thankful in the moment that I had a bay horse with no white.  I arrived at the barn, safe, sound, and upright. I gratefully breathed in the cold air as I made my way to the dark silhouette of my mare in the field.  As I closed in on the dark figure the smell of wet mud filled my nostrils. NO NO NO NO NO!! NOT ON SHOW DAY, NO! But YES, mud EVERYWHERE. Mud in her mane, mud up her legs, in her tail, and on all the sensitive areas I knew she would strike out at me for touching. Instantly my body succumbed to my hangover, painting the ground with the many colors and toppings of last night’s pizza and the realization that I had spent my extra thirty minutes in the wrong way.

After a hard-won battle I managed to grind the mud deep enough into my mare’s coat so that it was no longer visible. With a bit of a struggle I packed up and headed out.

presentable! or, so i thought....
The day started taking a turn for the better, as the morning light set in I was quite pleased with the camouflage my mare’s coat offered the mud, and started tacking for dressage. We made our way to warm up, feeling a little bit brighter. After taking a lap around the warm up ring, I looked down and that’s when I saw it, a glistening patch of mud right between her ears. I was so blinded by the horror of what I had seen that I momentarily forgot to steer, and careened right into another horse. Shaken, I quite literally fell off of my high horse and into a huge puddle of mud. For the second time that morning, there was mud, everywhere.

these breeches were as white as the saddle pad this morning :(
Determined not to cry, and not to relive the sensation of being the last bowling pin swinging from side to side before the strike, I bit my lower lip and headed into dressage. Our test went better than the morning’s events might have predicted, and while feeling the lightness of relief I made my way to the office to see if the scores had been posted.  And then I saw it. Our scores, six after six after six. The innocent curl of the lower half of the number seemed to form a pattern of beautiful swirls down the marks section of the paper.  I tried hard not to lose my composure after seeing the 666, the mother-fucking sign of the beast, plain as day on my dressage test.

run away!!!!!!!
Trying to move on from the disappointment of the morning, I came to terms with the fact that I had already paid my entry fee and I could focus for the rest of the day on gaining much needed experience.  I changed out of my quite literally soiled clothing and into my jumping gear, actually feeling optimistic the day could only get better. 

pictured: engage survival mode!
Stadium became a survival round of sorts. I was repeatedly hurled out of the tack, focusing instead on quite literally trying not to hurl. We managed despite a quite entertaining jump round to leave all of the poles up, so naturally it made sense to finish the damn thing… right? Well…

clearing it with room to spare!!
Out of the gate things were actually going pretty well, we cleared the pheasant feeder and a sizeable coop then settled into a nice rhythm. I was determined to redeem myself.  That is, until I saw the size of the ditch ahead.  This was the mother of all ditches, the ditch the beast himself surly would use as a portal to drag me down to him after flashing me his sign in my dressage scores. 

I shut my eyes, shed a tear, and wrapped my legs around my mare as if I was clinging to life itself. And just like that, we were over it! The wonderful feeling of relief! I showed that ditch who was boss, and I spun around in the saddle to tell it as much with the gift of my middle finger. Alas, I spun too far, flinging myself off of my high horse once more.


There I was, as I had begun, with a throbbing head and soil blanketing me to match my horse. I pulled myself to my feet, and started making my way back to the trailers. Just as I righted myself the horse behind us on course went thundering by, spraying me with mud., EVERYWHERE. It was time to call it a day and drink a beer.

- Rachael & Birdie

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

six months of Charlie

This week marks six months since Charlie officially became mine. Six months since I've unapologetically let loose my inner 12yo, whose dreams have finally come true lol.

and officially 7 months since charlie retired from racing. portrait by Alyssa Kelley
My horse shopping criteria was fairly broad - I looked predominantly at OTTBs who had been or were in the process of being restarted. Charlie was actually an outlier in that regard - he was just 4wks off the track and had arrived to the adoption facility a few days before I took the below photo. So they hadn't begun any work with him yet.

#alwaysbemajestic
But as a 2009 model with a distinctly quiet and laid back temperament, it felt like a relatively safe bet despite his extreme greenness. And so our little journey began!

his first bath at the adoption facility. look at that sweet face tho!
Obviously if you've been following along you've already got a pretty clear sense of where the horse is in his training. The gist? He's basically right around where you might expect a horse to be after 6 months of under saddle work with an amateur rider. Or, at least, he's more or less followed the trajectory I had hoped for (barring any major impediments or interruptions).

"pretty sure i might be certifiable, but i'm going for it!" - euphoric emma, about to bring the big guy home
Buying a horse in early fall was actually really great timing: We had all fall and winter to get to know each other with the goal of having a fairly established foundation come spring time. My absolute "shoot for the stars" goal was to be ready for a full three-phase event by spring. And honestly? We're pretty darn close (tho I'm now shooting for a two-phase debut instead).

Since the first six months to a year with an OTTB tend to be the most transformative, I thought today's post could take a broad inventory of where Charlie is in his education today and how I see each of these areas continuing to develop.

Things Charlie can do:

General Citizenship and Well-being:
Stands tied / cross tied quietly
Bathes / clips / vacuums no problem

first ride post-track!
Stands well for the farrier and vet
Gets along with other horses in turnout
Appears to have graduated from a 4wk shoeing cycle!!
Has grown more and more sound over time

first steel shoes. happy to say his foot has changed dramatically since this picture
Next steps:
Continue refining diet to meet nutritional needs and build weight
Stay on top of hoof care


Ground work:
Has learned some basics re: yielding specific quarters to pressure
Can sorta lunge, more or less


Is the best at carrot stretches
Reliably trailers individually or with another horse, and basically self loads


Travels well and can go to work in new and unfamiliar settings

graduated out of the stud chain within about a week or so of coming home #safetyfirst
Next steps:
More. Always more.
Attend bomb proofing and/or trail/obstacle challenge type clinics??

first ground work session
Flat work:
Can w-t-c with steady rhythm on a 20m circle in both directions
Learning the basics of contact and connection

almost looking like he fits in at the dressage barn!
Has simple changes of lead through trot
Undefeated International Champion Of The World at USDF Intro B

#winning!
Next steps:
Keep on keepin' on
Transitions within trot: compress + ride forward, rinse + repeat forever
Continue working on control of shoulders (esp for steering and straightness)

i can't take credit for teaching him to pose tho. #bornthatway 
"Cross Country":
Can w-t-c through open fields on uneven terrain


Has been introduced to small banks and water elements
Jumped xc-style fences in an arena


Can navigate natural trail obstacles (logs and such)
Is generally an all-round trail riding dream boat
Can lead or follow other horses, and can leave group and return without drama


tho sometimes perhaps he wishes he could leave *this* horse behind haha
Next steps:
Actually school xc
Introduce ditches
MOAR TRAIL RIDING!!!! :D
....Eventually gallop. Eventually. *gulp*

all trail riding, all the time plz
General Jumping:
Is basically the best at clobbering and stumbling through all the ground poles

not the first, but a very early cross rail effort
Hasn't been particularly impressed by anything yet
Reliably jumps stadium fences of all styles up to ~2'3 from trot or canter

first jump lesson + first oxer!
Reasonably proficient at lines of jumps and small grids
Can jump from and land on both canter leads, and can change leads over a fence


Next steps:
Work on straightness (line of travel is sacred!)
Build towards coursework (increase focus on rebalancing before corners)

same oxer as before, just three months later
So. Long photo-heavy story later, six months into this journey and the horse feels like he's coming along pretty well for my purposes.

Some things are going a little slower than they could, or than they would with a different rider. But that's cool bc let's be real: I'm trying to keep up and get my own sea legs back in this process too. And as Tracy reminded me a while back: Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. I'll take it!

And for my purposes, it feels like the relevant landmarks and milestones are cropping up about how I expected (while acknowledging my own limited experience haha). I can't wait to see what the next six months bring!!

Do you have any sort of 'milestones' that you use to gauge your horse's training level? Or like... prerequisites or skill proficiencies that you look for to ensure your horse is on track? If you've worked on restarting horses before, do you keep a general order or agenda for how you introduce new things, or do you kinda wing it based on how the horse responds?