But PICTURES!!!!! SQUEEEEE!!!
|all my gratitude goes to Liz, who captured this shot of pure, unadulterated 12yo girlhood joy after we finished stadium|
|<3 this horse. also the homemade stock tie held it's own!!|
(except I'm honestly quite ashamed of how thin he is and wish I could run up to anybody who noticed and grab them by the shoulders, saying "I Promise We're Working On It!"... but oh well. it is what it is for now.)
|yup. dis how we trot. i'm cool with it.|
Charlie had been fine getting off the trailer (tho I hand walked a couple laps anyway). Fine to tie and tack up. Fine to mount up over by the office. And fine to navigate the bustling path between the two giant arenas filled with five dressage courts and seas of horses. So naturally he was also fine in the warm up ring traffic. Good boy.
|not bothered at all by traffic in warm up|
So we walked and walked. Then eventually trotted. Then transitions between walk and trot. Then canter, then trot, then canter. Then walk. Then halt. Then trot. Then halt. Etc etc etc. You know the deal. And the horse was fine. So fine that I volunteered to go early. We were ready.
|dis how we trot inside the ring too. points for consistency?|
|he's got the 'stretch' part of the freewalk down pat. now to add swing and overstep.|
And therefore our movements were all scored 6s and 7s, except for the aces up our sleeve: the centerline turns and halts we had just practiced with trainer C last week. The first got an 8 and the second got a 9. Yassssss. Thank you C!!
|pictured: riding the snot out of that centerline turn on a giant horse who struggles turning right. |
boom. fucking NINE.
|"very straight, lovely halt"|
It's happening tho. I was actually thrilled with this test bc while he doesn't give to the bit, he was neither leaning heavily or fully braced against my hand (relatively speaking). He had a consistent softness to the bit that may be an intermediary step between the 'lean against' and the 'give to.'
video here, complete with notated movements, scores and comments
We left the arena feeling like I couldn't possibly have asked for any better of Charlie at this point in his training. He just... ya know.... did the thing. Even nitpicking my own riding, I can identify some weak spots but generally feel like I also did the thing, did what I set out to do.
Oh. And Charlie scored an 8 on his gaits. An EIGHT. Considering he's a fairly high-mileage horse who had varying degrees of lamenesses in various legs when I bought him, that feels GOOD.
The test put us in 3rd after dressage with a score of 34.4%, just 2 percentage points and change between us and first place. I didn't see the score until after jumping but was just thrilled. While it means Charlie lost his "undefeated" status (lol) - it's still our best yet score for this test, which we've now ridden five times.
|warming up on uneven ground as if he hadn't struggled with going down hills just three months ago|
Anyway tho, no rest for the weary. We had an hour and a half before stadium that went by in a flash - then it was off to warm up over fences! The warm up area for intro & elem (which have their own jump and xc courses separate from the rest of the divisions so that they can run simultaneously) was actually located in a roped off area of the xc course instead of in a ring.
|careful pony left me in the dust in warm up. i can live with it!|
|"look ma, i can canter on a hillside!!" - best pony ever|
|aaaand a little more unity between horse and rider haha, but still givin that jump plenty of space!|
|tidy tidy! all i gotta do is basically hang on and stay with him lol|
|jump 1 and it is ON|
also that's only one of three massive trailer parking areas. twas a big show!
|the quintessential Loch Moy picture, with Sugarloaf Mountain and a writhing sea of dressage riders as a backdrop|
|we match the jump!|
|basically just an exaggerated canter stride over the maryland jump|
|"lemme at it!!" - gung ho pony!|
|"wheeeeeee!! turning right is hard but who cares!!!!" - every ottb ever lol|
|#soproud through the finish flags|
also you can tell the right turn was hard bc this might be the first picture since before breaking my leg where i'm actually sitting more left than right... crazy
Watching the video was actually a little bit of a disappointment bc it doesn't look as good as it felt.... But they're all <2' fences, with a 17h awkward greenbean bombing around like a boss without even having to try. And a rider who is basically just clinging on, trying to keep the horse pointed in more or less the right direction. It's obviously not gonna look like the grand prix haha.
I still love it tho! Especially compared to Charlie's earliest jumping efforts, it's clear how far he's come in his footwork, awareness, form, and general understanding of what this whole 'jumping' game is all about. And I think he likes it!!!!
|have i mentioned lately that i <3 this horse?|
|brita & bella absolutely dominated the jumping phases too, and damn liz can take a nice picture!|
|pictured: the visual representation of why we event. brita's and bella's expressions say it all|
|also pictured: someone whose inner 12yo has been let loose to play ponies with basically the best behemoth ever|
Charlie is officially assuming the mantle of being my new eventing partner! Now to actually get him properly introduced to cross country :D