Tuesday, January 24, 2017

alone in the mist

After three weeks since our last jump lesson, it was definitely time to make it back to OF for another go. Everything kinda seemed like it would go a little sideways tho. It has just been SO WET here, that Charlie had grown a little foot sore earlier in the week. Or maybe he just whacked himself on something. Idk. He's kinda a delicate flower like that.

do 'charlie at the trailer' pics ever get old? bc sometimes that's all i get from a ride lol
So I revisited my religious keratex treatments that had fallen a bit by the wayside lately, and made some thrush buster treatments happen too. Just in case, ya know? Charles got a day off riding, with just a little ground work the evening prior. And then, not really knowing how Charlie would be feeling, I loaded him up to hit the road for our lesson.

FINALLY got around to replacing the gullet plate in the bates. had bought the narrower plates ages ago but only just made the switch. so far trainer P and i are pleased with the change.
I figured the worst case scenario would be that if Charlie still felt sore, we would just bop around while everyone else rode. Or maybe wander around the grounds. Even tho I'm obviously trying to accomplish some degree of progress towards our goals of being a competition pair.... it still seems beneficial to just go through the motions sometimes too.

Meaning - even if we didn't do anything serious in the lesson, Charlie would still gain from the exposure and experience. Small steps and such.

looking back at the trailer from the lesson shed. this spot is central hive of activity at OF and is typically crawling with ponies and people. charlie's always staring at it while tied at the trailer across the field. so finally he got to actually go and explore the area for himself!
That plan got a little blown up when trainer P announced that everyone else had canceled, so it was just me. To which, naturally, I blurted out "But my horse is probably lame!!" haha.... sigh. We decided to head up anyway just to see how he was. Nbd one way or another.

And honestly, given that I don't board where my trainers are, lessons are my only chance to check in with them about all things Charlie - updating on everything under the sun that's going on with him. His diet, his turnout, his shoes. Trends under saddle, little odds and ends here and there. Just the small stuff that typically comes up among friends and advisers in passing, but that I have to save up for lengthier recountings when I finally get to see my trainers.

Trainer P is just so fantastic for long, thoughtful and wide-ranging discussions on horse care. She has seen it all, done all kinds of things with all kinds of horses. From Shetland racing ponies to timber horses. She always has ideas, useful anecdotes and helpful hints for helping horses thrive - while also staying realistic about what it means to be a horse with a job.

the weather was weird, yo. and did i mention it's been wet? charlie hardly noticed tho, i guess hacking out in rainy and muddy conditions has helped make him indifferent to nastier conditions
And actually, we got so carried away with just talking and talking that by the time she had me pick Charlie up in the walk and start being more purposeful with contact and his stride and activity and whatnot before we picked up the trot, I had completely forgotten that he might be lame lol.

So we were just trotting around, doing lesson things, when P asked how he felt. I had to laugh a little bit that I had already forgotten, but I guess that was a good sign. Charlie felt fine. Felt ready to go! And so we lessoned for real. Yay!

brave pony cared not a whit that he was hacking solo to and from the arena, where he was also alone
Mostly we just worked on connection at the trot. Wherein I didn't spend too much time worrying about the fact that Charlie is basically always falling left, no matter what. That damn shoulder. It's like a one-ton weight pulling Charlie down down down to earth haha.

But anyway we kinda just ignored that. Focused on riding the horse evenly from both hind legs into both reins. Encouraging that inside hind to come up and under, and maintaining some activity with the inside rein, while my inside leg pushed him into the outside rein.

the longer hairs on his face were coated with mist and the tiniest water droplets after we finished. ethereal!
Just basic stuff, obvi. But trainer P's instruction just felt really effective (privates with her are a nice change of pace! since we warm ourselves up in group lessons). She identified that we've officially achieved 'forward' -- and maybe taken it too far where now I'm running him a bit off his feet. So gotta balance him with my body, and keep him busy. Put a little more pressure on him, don't let myself get static and stagnant. Keep talking. Keep his attention.

But also be quicker to soften and follow when he gives. That was actually the coolest part of the lesson. And it's maybe been something lacking in my riding lately. That feeling of "pushing the contact forward." It's obviously not news to me or anyone else reading, probably. But I guess after feeling like Charlie was pulling me down out of the saddle for so long, I sorta developed an "end" to where my contact could go. Remembering to follow really helped!

this maybe my new favorite picture format. 'charles through the trailer doors' lol
We sought to address the canter through jumping. Letting it kinda develop as we went, since it continues to be a bit of a sticking point. And just worked on trotting into little 18' one stride grids. Again and again. Trying to encourage Charlie to land cantering.

He got the idea after the out jump, even finding both leads himself - good boy!! But we were not super duper successful in getting a canter stride in between the two jumps of the grids. His last time through he kiiiiiiinda got it. Like, definitely pretty close. So we called it good, lots of praise and what not for being the most cleverest of all ottbs.
 
such weird weather tho. like. it's january, what gives?
All in all, I was very pleased with how his flat work felt - especially after we started trotting the poles and fences, Charlie really felt the most connected over his back that he ever has. I mean. Obvi still work to be done there - but he just felt super steady and consistent. The jumping will come eventually haha (I hope!).

I was also pleased with his nonchalance at the sloppy wet footing. Tho, truth be told, I've been riding at OF for a couple years now and that outdoor arena is my favorite arena of all time. The footing is just simple sand, but it holds up unbelievably well in all weather. So long as it's not frozen, it's basically rideable. And Charlie seemed to agree - he was very happy to be outside!

It may have been nothing groundbreaking as far as lessons go, but it doesn't have to be at this point, at least not for me. We may not end up ready for a CT this spring, let alone a full three phase.... but that's ok too. I'm pretty satisfied with the pace of our progress and am enjoying our rides. Just needs more lessons!!!

Who knows tho. Maybe spring fever will kick in early with all this mild weather and I'll suddenly find myself impatient to get out and do more advanced stuff haha. We'll see, I guess! Do you find yourself influenced by the weather in that sense? Like it's easy to be laid back and relaxed in the winter, but once spring comes you want to be doing all the things?

38 comments:

  1. "Do you find yourself influenced by the weather in that sense? Like it's easy to be laid back and relaxed in the winter, but once spring comes you want to be doing all the things?" Yes. Exactly this.

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  2. Flip it 6 months and yes! Summer makes me melt and June through August are just lazy days spent bathing the mare and hanging out on the shadiest trails I can find at a walk. The winter typically makes me want to get out there and start working hard. Except this year. This year I don't seem to want to do much of anything.

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    1. oh interesting! the short days really kill me in winter. it's like, once it's dark and cold out all my motivation is zapped away haha

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  3. I'm hoping spring brings me a big dose of motivation, cause right now it's lacking!

    I love the Charlie through the trailer door pics 😀

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    1. ha awesome, there's always more to come of those! and agreed on hoping that spring brings a whole new perspective!

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  4. You can never have too many Charlie at the trailer pics, he's so handsome!

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    1. thanks haha - sometimes i tell him that's all he is, but hopefully he'll prove me wrong there ;)

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  5. I get enthused when the time change magically makes daylight after work! 7 weeks to go, not that I'm counting. Many projects for the spring that I'm trying to get organized. Project kid resumes when the time changes. Project horse Zipper needs to be under saddle for me to ride along with Project Kid. Da Bird to the 30 miler (It snowed/rained/sleeted last night, so conditioning ride was postponed. Am hoping tonight is better.) in April. Rest of my xc stuff needs to be done (2 small jumps to build, one big jump to design/build, about a third of the track to clear out, and, yes, The Water Complex, which is fancy talk for "which_chick wants to try to get the bucket loader stuck in the old washed-out pond") because we're trying to Have A Thing at my baby pretend xc course. (A low-key friends-n-their-kids thing. Not an actual thing.) So many things coming along...

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    1. yea i'm seriously excited for the time change too. and super exciting about your Thing at the new complex!! the low key stuff with friends is arguably more fun and exciting sometimes than the big stuff, imho

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  6. Connected and balanced sounds wonderful and I'm so glad he wasn't lame. I love your outdoor arena too - it looks so peaceful

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    1. i'm so glad he wasn't lame too lol. it's so funny, i think charlie doesn't like the footing where he lives, bc when we go to other farms like the above, or like our dressage trainer's farm, he always feels 100x better... go figure.

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  7. Ya know, sometimes these lessons are some of the best! Just quiet, correct work making little steps towards improvement. Simply having someone to keep you on the right track is so valuable! And yes - I am majorly affected by the weather! Lack of sunlight, especially really hits me hard and I get very depressed and lose all motivation, while at the same time getting crazy cabin fever. COME ON, SPRING!!

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    1. yea having someone there really helps in keeping me honest. bc we all know i'll kinda bop around and settle for mediocre. or i'll still be focused on the directions from last week's ride when maybe the horse is ready for the next step and i just don't recognize it myself. eyes on the ground are always helpful there!

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  8. I find that if the weather is horrible and stopping me from riding, then I am miserable and want to be doing all of it, and then when it is nice I am suddenly just fine putting things off. Go figure. I'm so glad Charlie was sound and you got a lesson all to yourself! In that "Charlie through the trailer doors" pic, that tree above his head looks like gazelle antlers. :)

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    1. haha that's funny - tho i guess i can totally understand it. i'm such a creature of habit and routine that if i can be out and doing a thing regularly, i'm gonna keep going out and doing the thing. but if the weather is holding me back, than i'm just gonna keep feeling held back.

      also tho - LOL at the 'gazelle antlers' - i totally didn't notice that but now i'm gonna have to work a little harder to line my pics up for optimum optical illusions lol

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  9. Even though I am actually able to ride this winter vs doing damage control to my horse's sanity... I still can't wait to get her out of the indoor arena and back out into the world. Jumps look much more properly sized when they are outside, not inside.

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    1. yea i mean, these indoors are so awesome and i'm so grateful to have one. this is my first winter in YEARS that we've been able to easily stay in regular work throughout. two winters ago i was hauling poor isabel out 3x a week just to keep her ridden, and that was really just too much. still tho, like you say. nothing compares to outdoor riding!

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  10. I get more motivated as the days start getting longer. Although that motivation drops rapidly when the weather goes to hot as balls

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    1. haha very true. even just looking at the calendar year ahead, july always feels like a very natural month off - the break between early and late season. bc fuck that heat lol

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  11. It sounds like just the ride you needed.

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    1. eh i mean most rides kinda feels like that, esp when the horse is sound lol

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  12. Good job Charlie! And as far as weather goes, I am usually super laid back through December, but then I'm bored by January, so my "I want to do all the things" phase starts a bit too early to actually be able to do anything.

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    1. ugh yea that makes perfect sense to me. the last couple years we definitely got a little too ambitious with scheduling and entries relative to where our fitness and schooling (and ability to actually rely on the weather) really were...

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  13. He is too cute!!!!

    How do you like the Keratex??? I have like 5 bottles laying around and know I should get religious about doing Twister but life and baby and mud.....

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    1. ya know, i think the keratex is good stuff. bc i'll use it religiously for like a week or two, then kinda just taper off bc 'eh, horse seems fine' - and horse IS fine for a while... and then gets hoof sore again and i start up with the keratex again and suddenly horse is fine again.

      long story short, i think it works. and works quickly enough such that right around the time that we're totally sick of scraping off every last bit of dirt from their hooves, then standing around waiting for them to dry... right around that point, the keratex has done what i want it to do. i just need to be better about staying on top of the occasional applications after doing a week of daily treatments, i think

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  14. Sounds like a great lesson! Keep up that attitude and work at the pace that works best for you both. You will get where you want to before you know it.

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  15. Its hard to find motivation when its super cold or gross out. I struggle with mid winter-often because a) its cold b)Id rather be skiing on the weekends c) I've given M time off and hes full force sassy pants starting him back. For Frankie my sole motivation for riding him when its not ideal is the thought of having to get on a 4yo who's had multiple days off :)

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    1. ugh yea when it's super cold out, i struggle with motivation too. it's hard to justify making it happen in 20* temps when nothing is changing for the foreseeable future! tho, of course, that issue of having to deal with the friskies once back under saddle is a real one lol. luckily charlie is basically the same no matter how much time he's had off, or how little turnout he's gotten!

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  16. I am being COMPLETELY affected by the weather right now. Our indoor is total slop because when the rain comes in sideways there's nothing short of four full walls (and we only have three) that will stop it. So... slop it is. Add in that Murray's saddles don't fit and the fitter recommended a bit of a muscle break will help with development and lunging both on the flat and over poles will be fine, and I find myself lunging far more than riding lately. I'm not amazingly stoked about it, but it is what it is. Come Spring I'm sure I'll kick myself for not getting both of us fitter and doing more riding, but considering that I won't show until the last week of April at the very earliest, I'm sure it will be just fine.

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    1. i hear ya man. tho honestly, if there had to be a time of year for a little break in the action for whatever various reasons, this is probably it. hopefully you can get all those pieces sorted and the saddle fitted and whatnot such that everything is feeling refreshed and energized for spring time!

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  17. Good boy, Charlie! I definitely let wet weather or super super hot weather derail me; all I want to do is go hacking or trail riding instead of another day in the small indoor arena!

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  18. Charlie is super cute! I love that saddle pad.

    The awful winter weather has definitely been making me lose motivation too.

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  19. i'll be there for so much footage this saturday!!! Media central!!

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  20. Congrats on achieving forward! It's still alluding me :P Also - What kind of girth do you have?

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  21. Sounds like a really good lesson actually! I love those kinds of simple and not new stuff but you actually get it and feel the difference lessons, they are my favourite type of lesson. Charlie is SO cute, I love him <3

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  22. What a great lesson! Also, Charlie is adorable.

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