Friday, February 24, 2017

takin' for granite

Spring is officially coming, the days are getting longer, and we've been extremely lucky with excellent ground conditions.

throwback to last fall when the days were getting shorter.
Which, naturally, means that I'm taking every single chance I can to get Charlie outdoors for our rides, even during the week now.

indoor at Charlie's home barn ST
We've gotten out to the outdoor ring at Charlie's home barn ST a couple times over the last two months or so, but with no regularity.

outdoor at Charlie's home barn ST
The footing is actually pretty fibrous and needed a little TLC before it got better again. And the whole giant ring is cleared of jumps, making it just look big and open.

trails at OF
Which, maybe I took it a bit for granted that "It's our home arena and Charlie's been out there plenty and we go everywhere and ride in all the different rings and why would Charlie care?"

warm up field at OF
So our resulting kinda crappy ride at the beginning of this week honestly took me by surprise. Charlie was more gate sour than he's been in a while and never really settled into the rhythm of a standard 'working ride' like I know he can.

OF's dressage court
It was frustrating. Especially bc I didn't see it coming.

indoor at dressage barn TM
In retrospect, tho, maybe I should have. Charlie's still just really green. He's not really 'confirmed' in any of his work yet. And the ride itself wouldn't have been 'bad' if I had approached it with a different attitude, and a different set of expectations.

OF outdoor jump arena
If I had thought "Ok, reintroduce the outdoor arena. Acknowledge that the barn itself is visibly right there, and that it's feeding time. And that Charlie has had a strong draw to the gate since Day 1. Plan ahead to help keep him focused on the task at hand."

indoor at Austen's barn
Instead I kinda just expected him to snap right to it, and then was suddenly caught off guard when that didn't happen and he wasn't convinced this whole 'work' thing was worth his time.

actually jumping in OF's outdoor jump ring!
Ultimately the ride worked out ok. And subsequent rides have gotten right back to normal out there.

But it was an interesting experience for me bc I found myself pretty unhappy with Monday's ride, yet the unhappiness was totally my own construction.  I could have rearranged my  thoughts and expectations going into the ride, had the same exact ride, and walked away feeling happy instead of frustrated.

cross country course at OF!
And it was maybe a useful wake up call for me as I start thinking about and planning potential competition outings. The reality is that I've taken Charlie to a LOT of different riding locations so far. Purposefully. And he's been really good!

trails at sweet air!
But I need to not take that for granted. I need to not forget that he IS being good about that. Even if it's just awareness that Charlie's surroundings still play a role in his behavior.

revisiting the dressage court at OF!
And, oddly enough, for Charlie - he actually seems to often go a little better off property vs at home.

I'm not sure whether that's a function of me riding differently off property (as in, riding in such a way that I recognize it could be harder and therefore offer more support?) or if Charlie simply has different associations with the grounds at home and feels more confident in trying to take the upper hand (as in, "Excuse me but my field is that way.").

indoor at OF - smallest indoor yet, and always with lots going on inside
Either way. I just gotta keep remembering: He's a green horse. Don't take anything for granted yet! Especially not environmental influences on a green horse!

Is your horse easily influenced by the world around him? Riding in different rings or in different groups of horses? Is he better with or without company?  Or does he know when it's feeding or turnout time and would really rather not work at that point? I'm curious to know how all the different horses react! Isabel could be foot perfect in basically any environment.... but then again at home she always had a stronger draw to the gate and barn too...

26 comments:

  1. You really have taken Charlie everywhere! It is so easy to fall into a rhythm with green horses especially when they have been being really good and forget that progress isn't linear.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ugh definitely not linear!!! they definitely know how to bring us back down to earth tho!

      Delete
  2. Gem is always worse at home than out and about and likewise is better the first time we go somewhere than when the place becomes old hat. Part of it is me being more alert and attentive to my riding, but a lot of it also has to do with her own expectations.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. it's always SO FUNNY to me (in a maybe not actually that funny kind of way...) when horses are like that. izzy was that way too - and in fact we spent YEARS not being able to ride around the field at izzy's barn even tho she could gallop and jump around like a pro in fields literally anywhere else. annoying haha

      Delete
  3. It's great how much exposure you are giving him!

    Kachina is generally better in strange places than she is at home. It's great for hauling to shows and clinics, but can be really frustrating sometimes in between. I'm not sure whether her tension at home is because of a bit of herd-boundness and wanting to get back to her friends, or if it's the arena itself (a pretty shadowy indoor that is usually empty of other horses but full of jumping cats)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. is it terrible that i'm somewhat reassured that this strange trend isn't limited to just my horses?

      Delete
  4. Charmer does not really have a gate sour thing (thank goodness!) while at home or the barn. He also does not generally seem to have a different way of going whether he is at home or away. If he is going to be naughty, he will do it at home or away, but if he is giong to be fabulous, he will also do that regardless of where he is at. However, he is usually significantly better if he is riding in an arena either by himself or with only one other horse that he knows. Lots of commotion and action tend to make him think he needs to race. He also has a tendency to always be better when cameras are out. It sounds like a joke, but he is such a poser that he can't help but try to look extra fabulous if he hears the camera

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ha my last horse isabel was that way about the show ring. no matter how disastrous our warm up, or how shitty i was riding, she would always pump up the wattage in front of the judges or the audience. princess liked to show off!!

      Delete
  5. I'm sorry but I love hearing that horses can be worse at home then off-property. It gives me hope.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ha, right??? i think it varies from horse to horse, but with charlie and isabel - their first few times off property it was like they suddenly realized that they *didn't* know what was up and that maybe they should try listening a little more closely to what i was saying. funny how that works!

      Delete
  6. I don't know who is worse away from home, me or Murray. When it comes to cross country or jumping we seem to do fine, but I have yet to put him together for a decent flat or dressage ride away from home without some kind of antics.

    I think a big part of my problem is this overwhelming feeling of "ignore the bad behavior and just get on to the things we need to do", which results in Murray being slightly bad, getting away with it, and then feeling like he can repeat that in the future. But I don't want to have a big ugly fight about going forward or standing like a reasonable horsebeast in public (and sometimes when I do I get accused of abusing my horse!). So I'm kinda stuck in this vicious cycle of stupidity.

    Which really means that I should be making like you and taking advantage of as many opportunities as I can to get out and go places, expect good behavior no matter what, enforce that expectation, and lather, rinse, and repeat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. for real tho i totally fall into the trap of 'not asking for much' off property. look at all my OF jump lesson recaps and see how often i write about 'not wanting to push it' - both with charlie AND isabel. it's a real thing ugh.

      so yea. my answer is to A) go out and do all the things. B) do said things in front of friends or trainers who are gonna poke and prod me to keep asking for more and raise my expectations. and C) try to be better in my own behavior about asking for more. bc really if i think we're gonna have a big ugly fight about something... .probably that big ugly fight is *gonna* happen and i may just be making it worse by delaying. ugh. long story short tho, i know that feel.

      Delete
  7. Bridget is a loner at heart and better on her own. At dinner time tho, all bets are off :) We were discussing at the barn last night how it is easier sometimes to ride other people's horses since you tend to just take what you see on the day and work with it. The expectations and emotions are mostly saved for our own horses, and that's where things can sometimes get really difficult :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I embarrassed myself by saying to my friend that Apollo would be a nightmare on our trail adventure last summer (because I had never taken him anywhere and he's super hot at home). And he was a saint. Same with the little show I took him too. It's good to prepared though (and have your "naught horse thinking cap on"). These things only get easier with more practice and it sounds like Charlie is already doing pretty great! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ha ya gotta love when they are better than we expect!! and actually, i work pretty hard to *not* think about it as a 'naughty horse' thing - rather i just try to meet the horse where he is and give him the benefit of the doubt. usually that mind frame helps me stay way more patient and relaxed

      Delete
  9. Emi is definitely influenced by all of the above.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yea i mean.... i think they all are, to a certain degree. just gotta work with it i guess!

      Delete
  10. I expect my horses to be able to be ridden anyway, in all conditions, & it's taking me many years to figure out how best to do it (#ammielife) but they're all pretty good. I can even ride Lou away from her buddies now! It's incredible & incredibly useful.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I expect my horses to be able to be ridden anyway, in all conditions, & it's taking me many years to figure out how best to do it (#ammielife) but they're all pretty good. I can even ride Lou away from her buddies now! It's incredible & incredibly useful.

    ReplyDelete
  12. totally know where you are coming from. I rode yesterday at the home place in the really nice ring (been hauling away most times). it was hot as balls, remus has a thick coat i figured it would be a quick hack. He was a looney toon. He actually almost unseated me at one point (where i said a quick prayer to the gods of commerce (the900facebookpony LOL) that i bought that sticky sticky dressage saddle from her :) Cause i didnt move! BUT JEEZ. even hot as heck he was snorty and spooky. The good news was he rode really well bad news was i almost fell off ;) but anyway he is going on 14! so you just never know and i do think expectations are everything. And Charlie is doing wonderful! :) I think you did great and I love following you on all your rides :) PS at least Charlie didnt scream back and forth to the horse in the field. LOL (rolling eyes)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Yup, it must be a thing. My horse is always a spaz at home and more settled/willing to listen to me when I trailer out somewhere.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Austen has a kick a$$ indoor!Charlie looks so cute. I'm glad you're having fun with him.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I get the same way - setting myself for a specific kind of ride and then being disappointed if it didn't go exactly that way. I try to go in with low expectations and small goals and remembering to be flexible. Easier said than done, of course

    ReplyDelete