It's been almost a full year. And it's hard to really explain what that means for me. But suffice it to say.... it's meaningful.
Running this elementary cross country course, small and inviting as it is, on a horse I restarted myself over the past 7 months... Well. From a big picture perspective, it feels like coming full circle. The cycle continues, the process has begun anew. And Charlie shows every indication of being everything I could have hoped for in a new standard bearer.
|this picture: one year in the making|
|start box with jump 1 right there|
This ended up being the absolute right decision too, bc all the chaos of the stadium warm up had migrated to the xc warm up - all those juniors with their screeching coaches and darting ponies.... Meaning the xc course itself was a ghost town, totally empty except for the photographer, jump judges, and steward.
The steward told me to begin at will, so we basically just walked up the hill, through the start gate, picked up a trot, and thus begun Charlie's first xc course!
|yup that's a log!|
|go charlie go!|
|dis charlie's surprised face|
|not very different from the first|
|dis emma's happy face|
|log roll!! isabel has jumped the BN and N versions of this jump|
|originally a vertical picture, but cropped to conform to my "style guide" for photos haha.... kinda ridiculous but it is what it is. so enjoy this close up of charlie's face and knees, and me trying like hell to slip my reins|
|garden gate! i've also jumped the BN and N of this too... as is the case with almost everything on course, actually...|
It was looky. And I expected Charlie to look. Which he totally did - breaking down to trot on approach. Mostly actually it felt like he wanted to slow down and better look at it and understand it. Bc it never felt like he wasn't going to jump. And he jumped it just fine.
As it was, he opted to come back down to trot for this little jump too. Jumped it fine tho!
|roll top / feeder type thing was surprisingly beefy!|
|stick horse - too cute!|
|coop! we jumped that little one on the right during our first ever loch moy adventure|
|cutest. brush fence. evar.|
Charlie didn't care tho - he had clearly decided this cross country thing was easy and cantered right on up to the base to pop over. Good boy!
|log + sugar loaf mountain!!|
|dis my new event horse. i think i'll keep him|
And just like that - our first baby cross country run is in the books! I REALLY liked the progression of this course too - which is pretty apparent in the video. Charlie started off a little unsure, a little uncertain. But his hesitation made him slow down, look more closely, think a little more deeply - yet he never once felt like he wasn't going. It just felt so honest.
Considering the latest trend in our jump lessons has been for him to speed up toward the fence, running past his distance in the process, it felt really reassuring that his default mode when uncertain was to slow down and think.
Of course I also don't think it'll take him very long to decide this is all easy and boring too haha. But that's fine - that's the whole reason we're running the 18" at Fair Hill next month instead of the 2'3. Obviously the height is no issue for the horse (just don't ask the rider lol), but the big guy still just plain old needs schooling. Needs mileage.
|so proud of himself at the trailer lol|
We've got a LOT of work ahead - continuing to develop and refine our flat work, and translating that flat work into better jumping. I've also got quite a bit to fix in my ride, and in adjusting myself to Charlie's way of going. I want to be able to do this great big plain-with-a-good-brain horse justice in all three phases, and eventually be able to show off to the judges exactly why I think he's so special.
In time tho - it's all ahead of us! And in the meantime we're just gonna keep chippin away at it the only way I know how :)