Monday, January 30, 2017

jumping bean

Happy Monday, everyone! And fair warning: this is a very photo heavy post haha. Not too many words tho. Just lots and LOTS of pictures video stills from this past weekend's jumping lesson at OF, since Brita made it her mission to document literally every effort. Thanks girl!!!!

target acquired!
I continue to just be so proud of this big guy. He's really figuring out this whole jumping thing! And it's really been pretty easy to mostly just sit back and be passenger while Charlie makes his moves.

so many pets for good ponies!
He never really speeds up, never gets wild. Doesn't run at the fences. I mostly just kinda have to steer him (and occasionally remind him that forward is nonnegotiable when I put my leg on), and he handles the rest.

not earth-shatteringly fancy, but very workmanlike. i'll take it! 
And I'm working hard to stick to my guns and be disciplined about the "one aid, one answer" thing. When I put my leg on, Charlie is expected to go. He's figuring that out too!

<3 his canter tho
We actually warmed up quite nicely - I called Charlie's bluff when he wanted to balk and resist, and.... well, he just got on with life and did the thing. Good boy!

wheeeee!!!
Funny enough, tho, in this ride he kinda experimented with when he would sneak in those balky moments. He did it a couple times on our way to the first fence (ugh annoying), but would go ahead and canter off after the fence when I asked.

knee action??
It feels oddly reassuring to see him try this behavior in slightly different scenarios. He's figuring out where it *isn't* allowed, and is testing other options. Which further suggests the behavior really does stem from him plain old testing me, rather than from some actual physical impediment.

this is still a work in progress haha
We already mostly knew that, but it's always reassuring to get more confirmation! And since I've been more resolute in tackling the behavior head on, it's been easy to get over it fairly quickly. Vigilance is the name of that game. And consistency!

<3 <3 <3 his canter!!! and lookie - he's got both leads lol
Trainer P also had us change up how we approached the jump exercise too. She set up a couple random low fences and had me essentially weaving in and out and all around, catching jumps every which way, here and there and basically at random.

he's not pulling me out of the saddle as much these days... still happens tho lol, at least now with less face-planting!
And she didn't want me taking forever to get from one fence to another - keep turning quickly and changing directions and whatnot, keep Charlie guessing. Keep him focused on where we are going and what we're doing, rather than on being snotty about me asking him to go.

figuring out that fancy footwork!!!! i was super proud of him through this little exercise - he nailed it!!
That approach was super effective too in shifting the conversation. Charlie got completely immersed in the jumping, and we were able to, for the first time ever, really start to see glimpses of what he'll be like on a jump course. We had a couple nice moments of finding a really lovely rhythm, and even carried it forward to canter a couple fences too!

so gung ho lol
Mostly we trotted all the fences tho - just bc that's still easier for Charlie. Lots of cantering in between tho! And I was really pleased with him - he seemed to have a much better sense of where his feet were for this ride. Very few clobbered or demolished fences - and those that did come down were mostly just honest mistakes.

he's basically just cantering very largely over these fences
He just felt really game! We did this whole approach twice - meaning two separate instances where we were set free into the arena to go and jump at will! Tho the second time, trainer P set up more fences for us so we had a few more options.

oooh but there's a little tidier!
This was useful for both horse and rider, I think. My inclination would have been to call it a day after his first successful romp about, since he had been so good. Then, as we waited for it to be our turn again, I could feel that cold and uncomfortable welling of nervousness rising in me.

oooh and even more!! we'll clean up those knees yet!
I mean, there absolutely nothing scary about jumping Charlie. And the jumps were all very very small. But the nerves are there anyway. It's just been so long since I've jumped regularly, and the last two times I jumped 3'+ I fell off badly ugh.... So I guess it's just natural that these feelings would return.

It was good tho bc the feeling disappears immediately as soon as we get going. Charlie is just a BLAST to bop around on, and he's also still just pretty damn easy at this point.

....eventually lol. charlie, you get an E for effort buddy 
Having to go back for another round after a long-ish break was good for Charlie too. He definitely grew tired by the end, but kept going and didn't quit. I'm often really guilty of being a little too easy on my horses, never really pushing them past a certain point. Maybe I'm afraid of rocking the boat, idk.

But the reality is, horses have to learn that they gotta keep going even when they're tired. And the only way for them to figure that out is.... to do it haha. Charlie was great about it tho, and we were able to end on a really solid note.


Ahh just so much fun. Despite my slightly-chicken-shit nature, I really love jumping! And it's so fun to feel like we're getting there. Charlie was the best he's ever been about his footwork in this ride, and really seemed to understand what the game was all about.

such a good boy
It's still pretty rough around the edges, but who cares. We've got time lol. That holds for me too haha - it's pretty apparent in my form and whatnot that.... maybe I haven't been jumping regularly for a while. It's cool tho. The better I can be about my own position and balance, the better Charlie will be too. So we'll just keep chippin away at it.

And in the meantime I'm gonna watch that video on repeat and bask in the glory of my giant ottb starting to get a clue about what his feet are actually doing at any given moment lol. Surely I can't be the only one out here who gets ridiculously proud of my horse's relatively minor accomplishments, right?? haha...

54 comments:

  1. He is so cute! I'm glad things are going well.

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  2. So lovely to see the progress you two are making.

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    1. Thanks - he is certainly trying!!

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  3. He looks so good!! I'm with you on the not pushing the horse enough thing. I had a person tell me year sago that I only ask Gem to work 1 hour a few times a week. She gets the other 23 to herself. Its not that much!

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    1. Ha Janet Foy said it best: they can be your little lamb all day long, but for that one hour they must be your little love slave ;)

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  4. wow great time was had by all :) He looks great and so do you. THOSE legs he has i am amazed he doesnt fall down. ha ha ha he (I am used to short squat legs (Both me and my horse) I would have been tempted to call him daddy long legs :) He will so figure it out though and what fun and what a great guy! Loved this post! :) Some very nice photos thanks for sharing!!

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    1. Ha I actually knew a horse named daddy long legs and don't necessarily want to be reminded of him lol. But yea- Charlie seriously has some legs on him haha. He's definitely figuring them out tho, slowly but surely!!!

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  5. You guys look great! He is really figuring it out and looks so happy to go Do The Thing! :D

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    1. he was super happy to do the thing!!! (after we chatted about it a little bit lol)

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  6. Awww what a rock star! I love how chill he looks -- he seems to trust you and try very hard! And you look so happy!

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    1. thanks - he's super chill. basically always haha. sometimes *too* chill lol!

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  7. Chuckles is the best! I'm also totally stealing the random exercise. What a good way to teach them it's my job to get you to the fence but it's yours to get us over it.

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    1. randomly wandering around over fences definitely helped keep him focused and thinking rather than getting distracted or existential about "what really IS the purpose of canter tho?" lol

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    2. Bwahahaha does Charlie have a philosophical bent then? Love it!

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    3. he i mean, maybe!! lol he sometimes very clearly seems to think, "Ahem excuse me but we have already done this canter thing. i have already flung myself over that there fence. now why on earth are we doing this again?! to what end, madam??"

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  8. What a difference! He's really figuring it out and looks adorable doing it too <3

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    1. it really did feel like a huge difference! i'm thinking it may also be due in part to him continuing to feel better and better in his body

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  9. Good boy, look at dem knees! You both look so happy too (:

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    1. ha he can have cute knees when he feels like it! tho that goes away as he gets more bored and unimpressed lol...

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  10. I watched this video and it was awesome!

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  11. Good boy Charlie! Looks like you're both having a good time :)

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    1. we're trying hard to show him how fun it can be!

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  12. He reminds me of Simon a little bit, which is to say that he's probably going to be the best horse ever.

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    1. ooooh i'd be thrilled if he turned out like Simon!!

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  13. Good job, Charlie!! I am jealous of your big, calm OTTB. :P

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    1. big and calm is exactly the way i like 'em!!

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  14. What a gem :) I love awkward baby jump photos...your baby is highly coordinated and competent looking compared to my pony!

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    1. haha the 'coordination' thing is very much a work in progress... he's figuring it out tho!

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  15. Hey this is definitely a win in my book as well. You guys are coming along great and I love when they start to figure it out for themselves

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    1. thanks! and definitely agreed that it's super exciting to see the pieces click for him!

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  16. I love him! His canter looks like it is very fun to ride :-)

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    1. oh man his canter is straight up dreamy!!! (when he's not being a snot about the depart lol...)

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  17. What a good Chuckles! And good riding on your part! It's hard not to micromanage and let them just figure things out, but you seem to be doing a great job with him. :)

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    1. ha omg this is my favorite thing about charlie.... all those things that we'd normally think of as being solved by "better riding"?? yea the opposite is kinda true for him. the less i do, the better. i basically just sit on him lol. it ain't bad!

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  18. Such a good boy!!! That was definitely his best lesson yet! Those knees!!

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    1. thanks!!!! such a blast getting to ride with you guys again too!!!! :D

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  19. Good for him for being so grown up and good for you for continuing when you get a little nervous! You guys look so great!

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    1. ha thanks - the nerves are nothing new for me (see blog title lol) so we just keep on chuggin. maybe one day they'll go away for good!!

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  20. I got excited there seeing the big jump lol. You look great. Lovely hunter canter!

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    1. ha i was kinda thinking the same thing - the h/j farm where charlie lives hosts a number of schooling hunter shows, i think he'll play around in them a little bit!

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  21. My favorite part is def how happy you look!! There's nothing better than being proud of accomplishments-even the "little" ones. So excited to follow along as he gets his fancy on.

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    1. thanks! i am excited at the prospect of his 'fancy' too haha - and agreed about celebrating all the accomplishments, great and small :D

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  22. Oh we all celebrate the minor victories! He looks super cute and I also understand the nerves even over small stuff. All we can do is keep on going at it.

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    1. haha yea.... i basically always have some degree of nervousness. it's annoying. for now, it just shows up in between turns - once we actually get going, everything is peachy!!

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  23. I love how free his shoulder is getting in that trot still! We find that tends to be one of the toughest things after the leave the track. Charlie is such a good boy -- I love all your rewards for him!

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    1. Yea his shoulders are definitely the biggest work in progress. And being more flexible in his back. He really is figuring it out tho!!

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  24. I am super proud of the smallest achievements because it means we are effectively communicating.

    I have such a tough time with one cue, one answer. I'm not great about getting my mount to respond on the first try unless they are already committed or anticipating me. My last lesson was a wake up call for me and my lesson horse. Haha.

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    1. Actually the "one aid one answer" thing isn't about getting the answer on the first try, it's about being consistent with our aids when asking for things, and only rewarding when the correct response is given. It's about being very clear and disciplined with how we communicate with the horse, rather than being serious about leg aids sometimes but not other times. It's from a Janet Foy clinic recap that I linked to in the "sympathy for the devil" post and I reread it often! If you're interested you should check it out

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