Thursday, April 27, 2017

perfect practice makes .... ?

Phew we've had some pretty massive posts lately, eh? Recapping Charlie's three phase debut obviously meant a lot to me - but we can't dwell forever. And with a horse as green as this guy, he's changing so quickly that my updates on his training progress are sometimes outdated before I can even get them up lol.

ENGAGE: JUMPIES MODE
Still tho, I promise to stay a little lighter on the words today bc.... sheesh, sometimes we just need pictures. Anyway. You may have noticed from all those myriad Loch Moy photos that it was basically a GORGEOUS day out. The weather was perfect - mid 60s with clear blue skies and a strong sun.

dark and blurry, but one of the nicest moments of trot yet caught on video. it's actually just a moment of trot during an extended simple change of lead, but idk. i like it. visible right around the 1min mark of the below video.
That..... that had not been the forecast AT ALL. All last week we had lots of steady, soaking, drizzling rain and it was expected to carry through Sunday and into this week. Which.... it totally has. With one exception.

Saturday (the source of these pictures and video) was wet wet wet. And Monday was wet wet wet. But Sunday? Show Day? Perfection. Idk how we got so lucky. But I'm grateful!

i always have a soft spot for this jump since it was charlie's first real oxer anyway
So Saturday afternoon, we dutifully hauled over to OF in the rain for our weekly jump lesson with trainer P. It was kinda funny too bc Charlie's home barn was having an h/j show and a bunch of kids were really struggling in their rides.

such a good boy
One sweet kiddo told me about how her pony had 9 refusals. I asked her when was the last time she practiced jumping her pony in the rain, and she replied "never."

So. Ya know. That's kinda the story, right? Jumping in the rain is different. The footing is different. Maybe the horse is distracted or carrying their head differently to avoid water drops in their ears. Idk. It's just different. Much like a very windy day can be different.

wheeeee jumping!
As tempting as it is to pack it in on those days, sometimes it feels worth it to suck it up and ride anyway. My thoughts being: if I would show in it, I better school in it too. And since Brita and I fully expected to be competing in cold, rainy 50* weather the following day, Saturday felt like as good a time as any to get in that practice. Luckily tho, the footing at OF holds up to basically every element except actual hard freezes.

just breezin my race horse, nbd
As far as jump lessons go, it was fairly standard aside from the rain. We warmed up quickly and economically bc of the weather, and immediately started jumping around, all the horses going all the places all the time haha.

i love his face so much. i'm never gonna let it go!
(also i challenge you to find this moment in the video to see if or how differently you would ride it)
I wanted so badly to just focus on raising my hands, bending my elbows, shortening my reins, with my hands pushed farther forward up Charlie's neck... And just focus on letting go a little more. But trainer P actually took me to task when Charlie started running at the fences a bit, running past his distances in the process.

too casual lol (note the kicked ground line)
(and hint, the previous pic is related to this one)
She admonished me for not carrying my flat work into the jumping which .... like .... gosh I feel like I've paid for that lesson before haha. Oops.

As Charlie became stronger and more anticipatory, it finally occurred to me why I disliked the feeling so much: He loses all ability to be soft or bend (limited tho that ability may be anyway). So in between jumping I often brought him back to trot on a circle as if we were back just working on the flat.

hard to tell who likes jumping the left side more, him or me....
I'm not sure he loved that haha, but it made a difference. And is maybe why when I trotted him during a simple change of lead in our course, he actually produced what felt like quite a nice trot (relatively speaking) rather than immediately anticipating the step back into canter.

i think he's havin fun tho!
Anyway the course work itself felt really really good. Felt WAY better than it looks in the video, but I've resigned myself to that fact for now. We might kinda just look like.... idk, whatever we look like. But the feel of this course was maybe the most schooled Charlie's felt yet over fences.

figuring it out, one jump at a time
He waited. He balanced. He also moved up to fences (even tho I'm still not consistently going with him haha). But mostly, the thing he needs to learn most is not to stretch out to the gap, rather he needs to learn to compress his stride. Bc let's be real - especially at starter trials, the courses will not be set for a stride like Charlie's.


It ain't perfect, but it felt like the best jumping we've done to date. Small steps y'all haha. And I feel a little better about my own riding in this video (flawed tho it ever will be) than I did about, say, any of the xc schooling videos haha.

Gotta just keep reminding myself that, even tho technically Charlie started 'jump lessons' in November, he didn't truly get the hang of it until the end of January (video here for comparison). And he's been developing and changing and evolving ever since. So it's maybe reasonable that I'm kinda playing catch-up a little with him. And that's ok. We'll figure it out.

<3 him
I know a lot of you out there - especially other bloggers, but really everyone - can often have mixed feelings about sharing pictures or video of your rides. Especially bc we're often our own worst critics - our perceived shortcomings stand out to us in glaring, neon flashing signs. And naturally, most of us are amateurs anyway. We don't ride like pros bc.... well, we aren't.

Plus, of course, anything published on the internet is subject to judgement or even ridicule, despite how kind and supportive our own little equestrian blogging community may be (which, btw, I'm always eternally grateful for!).

All the same tho, I personally find a LOT of value in posting honest and representative photos of my riding. Like, sure, most of the pictures are cherry picked from videos. And I don't post the worst of them haha. But taking the good with the bad helps me better understand where I currently am in my training, and where I need to focus. It's a slow process too, so having pictures over time really helps me.

Do you feel similarly about sharing pictures of your riding? Maybe you curate your published pictures a little more carefully? Or do you avoid it altogether? Are you your own worst critic, or are you basically like Popeye, "I am what I am"??

38 comments:

  1. Looking good! While I am mostly a fair weather rider when I have zero deadlines or goals, I also agree that you need to prepare for whatever weather you may encounter when competing. Around here nobody rides unless it is perfect out. Windy? Nope. Raining? Nope. Cold? Wait another day. It's a little frustrating.

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    1. Lol agreed - it kinda amazes me what conditions will drive the lessons inside at Charlie's barn. Like, it's spring. We have been cooped up in the indoor all winter long. Are you really taking your lesson inside bc it's a cool 50* or bc it's slightly windy? I can't tell you how many times I've had the giant outdoor all to myself bc lessons went in. Lol

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  2. I try to be honest and post the good and the bad, but riding pics/videos have been very few and far between lately.

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    1. Yea that's the struggle right? I try to capitalize on pictures when I can bc sometimes that's a challenge

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  3. I didn't get a chance to comment on your recaps but I loved them! I love the foundation you are building with Charlie - both on his education and your relationship with him. :)

    And I hate seeing pics of myself riding although it's so helpful. I had such a hard time picking photos for the post you did on me that I think I lost sleep over it. I accept I am what I am and that I'm trying my darndest to get better but that doesn't mean I have to love the ugly moments in between! :P

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    1. Lol yea I feel you. And I definitely agree. There are a LOT of pictures on this blog that I can barely stand looking at lol. And maybe there isn't as value in studying them as I think, maybe it's actually an exercise in masochism or humility?? Lol idk. Or maybe I figure if I post al the ugly ones it gives me a free pass to go a little nuts over the good ones???

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    2. There's never an excuse needed to go nuts over the good ones :) That's an ammy given right! LOL

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    3. hahahah yasss i can get behind that!

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  4. He's changed so much! I also school in all elements (wind/sun/rain) because the weather does not always cooperate with horse shows and I have to know what to expect in those conditions. I have yet to take Penn out in a steady downpour... but we'll get to it.

    I find video so much more helpful than pictures, especially now that I compete in straight dressage only- everything is subjective and a picture doesn't tell what the whole moment was like.

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    1. definitely agreed on the video v pictures. it's a little easier to tell a revised story with pictures... but sometimes the lie in a bad way too. like that pic above of me grabbing his face - in the video you almost don't notice it, or if you do notice it, it still makes sense given that particular exercise.

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  5. I was nodding along when you said that Charlie being a little un-bendable made him uncomfortable to ride over fences - that locked, helpless feeling of being unable to influence the shape of the horse's body is kind of unnerving!! Dino does the same thing to me sometimes, though more in just crookedness and not being connected back to front. If I lose the power from the hind end at all, suddenly I can't see a distance and everything goes to hell in a handbasket! I also agree that it's important to school in the same conditions you'd show in, and though I've been called "crazy" for riding in the weather that I do (cold, wind, rain, you name it) I also have quite a fit little old pony who can go to work no matter what the conditions!

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    1. yea for real, Dino is like the epitome of "can work under any conditions" - and i definitely strive for that in my own horses too. isabel used to be so squicky about mud but after a couple seasons of schooling in all weather (literally lol) she got over it real good

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  6. Riding in the rain, ehh...sometimes I will lead my horse from the trailer into the indoor in the rain, does that count? ;)

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    1. haha yea i mean, definitely ;) and there's no judgement in that - plenty of ppl scratch shows for bad weather too. so like, if you would scratch the show bc of the weather, then there's no need to practice in anyway, right?

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  7. Charlie has such a cute expression when he jumps!

    I actually have very few photos of myself riding. I have been curating carefully which photos of my baby horse that I post, though. Mostly because **someone** has spent the last eight months in what I lovingly refer to as Franken-draft-baby mode: looking like he was put together from spare parts by a committee that's forgotten to feed him. (He gets plenty of groceries, and we've made serious efforts to fatten him up. Every time the ribs go away, he grows two inches and they come back. ARGH.)

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    1. ugh yea i know that feeling too. while i've posted a number of unflattering pictures of charlie during his let down, i've also skipped quite a few too. bc there is ALWAYS going to be that comment about ULCERS or whatever, always gonna be someone going into all these recommendations about what you should be doing to care for your horse even if they don't actually know anything about your current care program lol. ohhh internet....

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    2. Yup! And it gets even more fun when there has been past Barn Drama that means that it's always possible that any horrible picture will be taken out of context and used to insist that someone else is a villain and horse abuser.

      By fun, I mean... yeah, not at all. Ugh. The internet can be so stupid.

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    3. ugh yea barn drama is the worst :(

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  8. When you don't have an indoor and your horse needs to be worked consistently, you get comfortable with rain and high winds. After doing a Hunter Pace in a torrential downpour though (and placing first), I feel like I have nothing to prove hahaha. You guys look great and B and I have to take the same approach. While people are yelling "Kick! Push him on!" I literally just break him down and say "No... You're going to be straight and think about this." Sure it's fun to go balls to the wall around a jump course but it only takes a second for them to back out. The approach is key! And if people judge your progress... they need to find a new hobby. Pictures can be taken out of context and you're not ever going to be perfect ♡ That's why we take lessons haha.

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    1. lol it's the internet, there will always be ppl judging. that's like, a guarantee. but yea, agreed that taking time to actually allow the horse to understand what he's about with the jumping. charlie's kinda on the other side of that right now tho, at least in our lessons at OF - he's pretty sure he's got it all figured out and that it's way too easy. it's fine tho, i don't mind!

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  9. Unfortunately, I don't have a photog that grabs pictures of my rides so I'm unable to do that comparison. But I hear that refrain over and over again - ride the flat, don't ride the jump. It's so true, if I focus on the flatwork, the jumping is so much easier

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    1. lol yea i don't exactly have a photog either - just friends for whom i spend equal amounts of time recording their rides. quid pro quo, if you will. tho i've also been known to set my phone up on jump standards and arena walls as well bc i learn so much from the videos, it's worth it to me to do what i can to collect footage

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  10. I post everything. And I frequently get comments about "oh I would never post that picture," but that's what my life is. The good and the bad. Just posting the best wouldn't be accurate and, given Nilla, I wouldn't have much to share.

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    1. haha omg, yes that's too true - if i only posted the "best" i wouldn't have much to share either!! it's not everyone's cup of tea but it works for me! for the record tho i LOVE all your pics of Nilla!!

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  11. Ha! I flip and flop between share! and Ughhhh do I even ride brah?

    BTW love the filmer cheering you on.

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    1. ha that's brita - she's the best cheerleader ever ;)

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  12. I love your breeches!! And he looks like he's coming along great!

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    1. thanks! those are actually the merlot pipers. i honestly don't love that color bc it kinda clashes with a lot of stuff, but they're fun!

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  13. Carmen freaks out in the rain and I haven't really ridden her much in it- but have done groundwork. I loved your video- I can see how steady and rhythmical you have become. I enjoyed watching your video very much.

    I think we put a lot of pressure on us and think that we should have done it sooner/quicker etc. I am on year two with Carmen and going to be showing Training level. so no judgement from me.

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    1. thanks! i agree, most of us put way too much pressure on ourselves. it doesn't help and in fact it can rob us of some of the enjoyment and pleasure of the process. we're trying to just take each day as it comes. and mostly it's working out - the horse is honestly doing super well!

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  14. Finally got a chance to catch up with the first big outing posts- you guys are seriously rocking it, slow and steady is always the surefire road to fast and awesome later (:

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  15. Yeah... I definitely only post photos I think I look good in...which sometimes results in lots of rides with zero usable photos.

    You look great though! Charlie is coming along so beautifully, you're doing so great with him!

    I do feel inspired to actually ride in the rain. I've been too fussy about only riding when the weather is perfect.

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  16. I'm a big Charlie fan! You guys are making such awesome progress. How fun. And YES I totally curate my riding photos and/or videos. I am extremely self-critical and I'm sure the majority of fellow equestrians in the blogosphere are kind, but I still feel too embarrassed to show the majority of my pics. Different subject--I'm asking this out of ignorance. . . how do you know that wet arena is okay for riding/jumping? Does it have to do with the actual footing? I'm curious because here in CA if our arena were that wet it would be closed off and locked. I wonder if your horses are more used to wet footing just because of where you live. I'm not trying to be critical, just super curious. Maybe we're too afraid of a little water out West?

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  17. You guys look GREAT! Like seriously, SUCH a difference! And yeah, some days I hate posting media of myself. I am so much skinnier and a better rider in my head, lol... But I do think it's helpful and agree that people are typically incredibly kind. We're amateurs. We shouldnt be perfect, right?

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  18. Circles are definitely the green horses friend

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  19. Riding someone else's horse makes me think more carefully about photos. But when it is my own horse I'm not afraid of showing where we are truly at. And if I'm lessoning and my trainer is taking pictures she will only send me the good ones

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  20. Currently I only post pictures of my riding that my trainers take and send to me, which means not many because they also like to cherry pick to make sure all their students look good BUT I would really like to post more honest photos of what I look like and I plan to do so when I get Aria back (assuming I have some way to film/photograph myself).

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