Monday, February 27, 2017

into the tempest

We've been getting some downright gorgeous spring weather lately. In February. Crazy. I'm certainly not complaining, even if it makes me a little nervous about what might be in store for us come summer....

so much green in this picture!
Naturally tho, the forecast for Saturday afternoon was fairly apocalyptic in terms of spring thunderstorms. Scheduled to coincide perfectly with our weekly jump lesson at OF. Curses! We're eventers tho and we don't melt in the rain. Supposedly haha. Plus OF has an indoor so if worse came to worst we'd just pack it inside for the lesson, right?

rather tame rain drops
Tho of course when it first started drizzling, Brita and I headed right on into the indoor... and were promptly labeled 'wimps' and teased into getting our butts outside by trainer P lol. Gotta love it! The weather cleared for the most part tho, we got pretty lucky.

Things didn't truly get ugly riiiiiiiight up until we were finished and hustling back to the barn anyway (at which point it got so ugly that both Brita and I were executing emergency dismounts from our still-jogging horses so we could get inside post haste....)

the storm made for some pretty rainbows tho!
Anyway tho, we had kind of hemmed and hawed about whether to go to the lesson. I had been especially concerned with hauling the trailer across the highway in potentially violent weather. But I am SO GLAD we carried on anyway. Not only did we get a full ride outside, but it was easily Charlie's BEST jump lesson yet!

i'm quite happy with this picture!
I mean, sure, I say that basically every week. And it's honest to god true just about every week too bc we're at that point in Charlie's education where it can really only get better from here haha. It's a low bar, sure, but Charlie's been clearing it with gusto lately!

the impending storm of doom made for very interesting light
I'm crediting the free jumping with Charlie's major improvements lately too. He's got a better sense now about 'Why should I bother picking my feet up anyway?' Funny how face planting can help drive that point home lol....

so fierce tho haha
Anyway we rode through a series of trainer P's tried and true exercises. Starting with catching single jumps from the outside line on a figure eight, then putting the whole line together. Cross rails first, then oxers. Everything in a nice easy five (measured at 60').

go Charlie GO!!
Trainer P again reminded me that if I'm going to canter him into fences, I should establish his canter earlier on than the last few strides. Mostly tho we kinda just cruised around and I let Charlie pick his pace.

#nailedit
And in the meantime I'm trying to make a more concerted effort to get my god forsaken hands forward and following. Definitely still a work in progress haha, but there were a couple jumps in this lesson where I felt like I was finally 'going with' the horse a bit better.

dark and raining and locked on to the grid anyway
Tho that proved a little trickier through the other two exercises: two different long and low grids. Charlie hasn't seen many grids yet and he can be wiggly and weird about striding so.... ya know... I got a little busier trying to micromanage haha. Oh well.

tho admittedly the rain wasn't his favorite haha... sorry buddy! but ya gotta learn sometime bc if i would show in it i better practice in it too!
The grids were great tho. The first was a two stride to a two stride (30'-30') and Charlie somewhat hilariously actually got kinda mad his first time through when he fumbled the striding. We never quite nailed that one tho, as trainer P adjusted it to Brita and Bella's height and moved us over to another grid, a one stride - two stride - one stride (18'-30'-18') that we got to try out a few times.

we mean business through the grid!!! 
And this was AWESOME. Our first few tries were a little awkward bc Charlie was kinda just figuring it out (he hasn't really done grids with me yet), and also bc we started with cross rails when the distances were measured for oxers.

so many pets for a good boy
Trainer P set up the oxers tho and we made it through one last time pretty much nailing the striding. Yay!!!! I was pretty pleased with the effort bc it really felt like the horse understood and trusted himself to push forward to make the striding work. And I actually mostly stayed with him, especially on our last time through.

2min video here - complete with thunder, lightning and rain....

It's just so fun. Charlie has been so great to work with, and especially since we've resolved some of his dinosaur-stuck-in-tar-pit tendencies these lessons have been pretty smooth sailing. I need to keep working on staying with the horse and pushing my hands forward (especially when I don't see a spot, just let the horse figure that out Emma! pulling helps nothing!), and keep allowing the horse to do his thing unimpeded.

Getting a bit left behind on this horse is admittedly safer than getting ahead of him, just bc he still trips a fair amount... But a stronger rider position will only help the situation.

"Scuse me but this isn't my stall!!" - soaking wet Charlie squatting in a borrowed stall and halter to wait out the storm haha
It's reassuring too to see his work ethic improve as he begins to understand the rhythm and ways of these lessons. Starting back up after waiting for our turn no longer poses an issue, but he still hasn't shown an inclination to get strong or rush at the fences. So far it's stayed a nice happy medium. I like it!

"this isn't the mash i ordered either. service here sucks!"
And of course, seeing him actually jump around little jumps like a reasonable horse is a huge relief. I wasn't exactly looking for an upper level prospect when I went shopping, and in fact I knew exactly zip zero about Charlie's jumping ability when I bought him. So... it was a bit of a gamble haha. Obviously most horses can get around 3' and Charlie has the advantage of size... But still. It's nice to see that he doesn't actually totally suck at the sport lol!

it's a bucket of fun in the chuckles mobile!
Anyway. Enough gushing. It was a good lesson. Brita also killed it with Bella, and while former barn mate R hadn't brought her mare out of weather concerns (but still came along to hang out and take video, thanks girl!), she reported having a solid ride earlier in the day too.

We're definitely getting really excited about the season ahead! And obvi had to christen the new trailer by hangin around in it for a post-lesson beer while chatting about all things ponies and the events to come. Bc yea. We basically all want to do all the things this year! And ain't no thunderstorms slowing us down haha!!

47 comments:

  1. Every lesson he's better- how wonderful is that?

    Funny story- years ago I was having a lesson outdoors (there was no indoor) on Irish and we're just getting into the good stuff when the instructor said 'so we'll call that a short lesson'
    I came to a halt and looked at her, confused 'why?'
    "because it's raining'. I hadn't even noticed! I then said 'oh we're all right' and went back to work. It didn't even occur to me that she might not be! Anyway she finished the lesson and it was great.

    Training in the rain is a great idea because it might rain on show day. Irish was not always the best 'show horse' but he dealt with rain no problem!

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    1. it's definitely wonderful haha. i want to feel like we are the absolute champions of 18" lol. so far so good!

      also agreed 100% on training in the rain. any show will call it a day if there's lightning out but i've absolutely competed a number of times in rain (or other nasty conditions like extreme wind) and been grateful that we had also practiced in those conditions too!

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  2. That storm was wicked! And the ring at OF isn't exactly close to the barn. Eck! Glad you had an awesome lesson, though. Charlie is making great progress :)

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    1. uh yea the ride back was slightly harrowing bc we had stayed in the ring as long as we possibly could to get in those last trips (Charlie's killer last trip down the grid, and Bella's last exercise too)... we ended up actually jogging the horses most of the way back to the barn and even then were shouting at the ppl ahead of us on feet to "OPEN THE DOORS WE ARE RUNNING IN!!" as we emergency dismounted haha.... ahhh yea kinda nasty out!

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  3. He looks like he's starting to get it! Much more coordination with those long legs.

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    1. definitely! the difference in feel is pretty incredible actually

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  4. I love the lighting on these photos! Stormy weather does that... Charlie also looks amazing btw ;-) (sorry photography geek had to comment on the lighting)

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    1. the lighting was wild - i kinda wish we had more pictures of the sky bc it turned this bizarre ominous green lol

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    2. ha yup, cell phones were buzzing with warnings of impending doom....

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  5. wow that sky in a few of those photos. Glad Charlie just keeps on improving :) it was some gnarly weather for sure!!

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    1. ha yea the weather got nasty fast. it was totally worth it tho!

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  6. He looks so much better! Defintely sees the point to "why I need to lift up my feet".

    Side note, I too am worried about what will happen this summer heat-wise. Lovely warm February? Uhhh what's going to happen in July?

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    1. he definitely totally gets it now. i love watching him tuck up his hind feet all careful and such (even if that last little push off the ground often leaves me behind in the dust lol)

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  7. He is looking really good. Your brave to ride through that. I'll ride when it is extremely hot and bitterly cold, but unless I have to I avoid downpours.

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    1. my rule of thumb is: if i wouldn't scratch my entry on show day bc of the weather (be it rain, temperature, or wind) then i better not skip out on practicing in it too. luckily in this case we missed the worst of the downpour anyway, just got thoroughly soaked in the rain!

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  8. I just love your lesson recaps!! Charlie looks like he is just getting so much more confident with this whole jumping thing, and you have a mega-watt smile in every photo! LOVE IT! :D

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    1. he feels SO confident! the pictures really never do him justice at this point bc they can't capture just how different it feels to jump him now. he feels great!

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  9. Way to go sticking it out through the crappy weather. And those jump photos of Chuckles -- adorable! You guys are making such nice steady progress!

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    1. thanks! "steady" is one of my favorite words!

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  10. He really does keep getting better and better! So happy for you :)

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    1. thanks! i'm super excited - but also super relieved, if we're being honest. it's always such a gamble with these horses whether they'll take to the work or not. so far so good tho!

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  11. He's doing so well! Great work with him. I'm glad the gamble is paying off!
    Some of those photos look super dark and ominous...lol

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    1. so dark and ominous lol -- we definitely pushed it a little by the end... but it was so worth it. charlie's last trip down the grid made my day!

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  12. Charlie's looking like he's finally figured out where all those legs go over the jumps!!

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    1. definitely! like we can actually have 'misses' now instead of 'crashes' lol....

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  13. I love the feeling of constant progress. Charlie is looking so good!

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    1. i <3 progress too! doesn't have to be fast, doesn't have to be whiz bang flash... just steady consistent one-step-at-a-time work!

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  14. Way to brave the storms- you guys look great!

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    1. thanks! i'm really glad we pushed forward with the lesson after all - and even more glad that we finished up before the worst of it hit! lol

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  15. Love the rainy pictures! He looks like he's getting into such a steady rhythm

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    1. his canter rhythm is to die for, i just love it! hopefully i don't screw it up with micromanaging lol

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  16. He's looking SO GOOD! And so happy with his job!

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    1. yas that's exactly what it feels like! like we still sometimes struggle to turn right (esp away from the gate) -- but now when he realizes we're turning *toward* a jump it's suddenly getting easier bc he's like, "OOOOH yea i like this jump jump game!"

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  17. Yessss Chuckles is giving me the grins! You guys are looking so great. Your lower leg is looking hella strong, too. :)

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    1. ha thanks - i'm working my ass off to try and be a stronger jump rider again and not get left behind or tossed around all the damn time.... it's getting easier now tho that charlie is more consistent in his jump!

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  18. So happy for you. And, as always, envious of the beautiful area you live in!

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    1. we feel super lucky right now with all the pleasant weather - everything is already budding and in some cases even blooming! it's crazy to me that we really only had very brief periods this year where we were relegated to the indoor for any reason beyond running out of daylight.

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  19. By george he's definitely getting it

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  20. He looks so good!! Love that first jump shot and having all the happy feels for you.

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    1. thanks! i love seeing him exert a little more effort... while simultaneously also making it look a little more effortless in the process lol

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  21. I love that he's staying at a happy medium pace to the jumps - that's HUGE. Good job to you both!

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    1. oh man, i agree. it's SO NICE to feel like i can just let him find his own rhythm. that was always such a struggle with my last mare...

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  22. Oh my gosh I love the chuckles mobile

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  23. So happy for you that Charlie is steadily improving his jumping skills. So awesome.

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