Thursday, May 4, 2017

immediate future

I decided to switch to eventing in the spring of 2014, with the goal of being ready for a horse trial by fall. After leasing Izzy for about 2 years by that point, it was time to get us into a program. So we got a truck and trailer and the rest is history (dutifully recorded here on ye olde blog).

more throwback pics of isabel today - except these are from our earliest events together. the above is from our first!!!
We made it to that first horse trial in September, and actually fit in a second HT in October before packing it in for the season. Then the entire winter stretched ahead of us to build on what we learned in those first two events, and we came out swinging the next spring - with one quick run at intro before moving up to BN.

That timeline worked really well for me and Isabel - we had basically a full year of introductions to the sport to settle in and educate ourselves before the competitions began in earnest.

Things are.... obviously a bit different with Charlie haha. Not least because he was only started as a riding horse seven and a half months ago. But I'm banking heavily on the hope that I've retained most of what Isabel and I learned through our ~2 years eventing.

second ever ht, and first ever up bank haha - jenny camp 2014
So at least one of us maybe kinda has a clue lol.

Because we've admittedly got a fairly aggressive schedule this month. I mean, obviously it's horses. Things can change with no warning. The idea of a "plan" is sometimes tragically laughable. But yet we plan. We can't help ourselves, right?

And Charlie's immediate plan for May, as it were, is a bit intense. At least on paper.

back at jenny camp in the spring of 2015, with izzy and her cousin!!
This weekend we are slated for Fair Hill's starter trial with a gaggle of friends. As I've already written, Charlie and I are doing the 18" bc Fair Hill's 2'3 Intro is freakin fantastic in that it is decidedly "baby" beginner novice - same questions just smaller fences. But I'm not convinced Charlie's ready for a ditch / bank / water on course yet, tho my trainer P respectfully disagrees.

I'm expecting the 18" courses to be a nice opportunity for Charlie to "go through the motions" of an event at a level that's super easy for him. And, let's be real, it's also an opportunity for me to practice sitting back and letting the horse do his thang haha. At least they offer an "open" elementary division that uses a BN dressage test, for those of us who want microscopic jumps but still want to canter in the test.

Next on the docket is MCTA's Jenny Camp, an annual tradition and one of only two unrecognized events held by our local eventing association. This is my fourth year entering this HT, and I've got a fairly spotty, storied history with it haha. But it's super close to home. So. Ya know. We gotta go, right?

first bn at loch moy, 2015
The lowest division offered is 2'3, and it'll for sure be a real course (relatively speaking) - likely including a faux ditch, banks, and water. Jenny Camp has been penciled in all along as Charlie's "move up" event, tho he actually got there a little early with last month's Loch Moy run.

Finally, rounding out the month of May is the third and final of Loch Moy's spring starter series. We're mostly aiming for this event bc dammit we love Loch Moy.

The story is that each successive event in the series gets progressively harder so that the 3rd is the biggest and beefiest. This sometimes means that they run the 2'3 course out alongside the BN track instead of sequestered off into its own tiny loop like last time. If that's the case, it should build nicely on the previous week's experience at Jenny Camp.

second bn at waredaca
At least, that's kinda the vision for now. The scaffolding of a plan, if you will. Entries are mailed in for each of these three events, and I'm relatively confident that Charlie presently has (or is very close to having) the skills and education needed to successfully navigate each event. Tho I'm also relying on the idea that the experience from one will add value to how we approach the next.

Mostly what I'm looking for out of this month is a somewhat cumulative effect - a snowball effect. I want each experience to build on the one before it. For Charlie to accomplish each phase of each event in manner that reflects his increasing education. I want him to understand.

Bc honestly three events in one month this early in a horse's training could easily slide in the other direction too. It could easily begin to feel rushed and frantic. Which is like, exactly the opposite of what I want lol.

4th bn, 1st fair hill. also first event in the pouring rain
But Charlie is a thinking, learning horse and it's up to me to help him learn the *right* things. If I can keep each step feeling purposeful and productive, we should hopefully be good. Or who knows, maybe Charlie will thrive in all the repetition of back to back events. Maybe he'll be a veritable pro at intro level eventing by May 31?

We can only hope haha! I mean, experience is experience right? And I'm fond of saying that the only miles a green horse gets are the miles we put on him. So. Here we go.

and, of course, charlie's first three-phase <3 loch moy 2017
How have you approached introducing a green horse to a new sport? Are you one of those who believes that a green horse could benefit from getting out and about every week? Or do you prefer spreading big events out a bit more? Do you differentiate by type of event? Ie, outings for a clinic or lesson or competition might all be considered different intensities? Or does it depend on the horse? Maybe some horses need more or less?

42 comments:

  1. Charlie is used​ to traveling every weekend for lessons, so for him, showing several weekends in a month probably won't be *that* different.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yea that's basically been my thoughts as well - and it's one of the big reasons why i try to make shipping out feel so routine and "normal" for us

      Delete
  2. I LOVE your approach. Knowing from experience with Q and endurance, the more time and miles and exposure I gave her, the better she got. If I lived more local to opportunities to get Griffin out and about, I'd do the same (budget withstanding). Off-property lessons, schooling, and shows as much as possible build a really good horse (at least in my limited experience with Q). I hope once we move up to Canaan that I'll be lessoning with Griffin 2x a month about an hour away. The travel there alone will help us in all future endeavors.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh man, that's been so true for me too, that even just getting that travel experience and exposure adds so much value to the horse's perspective and education. even just simple outings like trail rides! my fingers are crossed that so much of that becomes easier and more within your grasp once you get the horses moved!!

      Delete
  3. holy cow can you get in my brain for a bit and get me this organized? Thanks very much :) great plan and that is very cool. I cant wait to hear/see all about it!! (YAY I get to meet Charlie Sunday that might be my most exciting thing going on :) Great plans. I need to sit down and plan too. But ehhh...not a great dressage lesson last nite made me glad i DID not sign up for FH (But i still have Blue Goose to get thru before I can go spectate and meet CHARLIE) :) YAY....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha my best defense mechanism against stress and anxiety is to plan everything out and try to visualize exactly how things might unfold. things don't always go to plan (do they ever?) but the exercise alone helps me out :) looking forward to seeing you on sunday!

      Delete
  4. Sounds like you have a great plan for you and Charlie for May. I have never brought along a green horse, but I would approach it similarly, I'm sure. I know that approached for me as a nervous rider that hadn't shown in years. The more I got out, the more comfortable I became. Sounds like you know what you guys are capable of - those miles will add up quickly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yea definitely agreed about the benefits for the nervous rider too - if i can make a thing feel routine, mundane, every-day normal, suddenly it loses power to make me nervous or tense. so that's definitely a big objective at this point in our training too!

      Delete
  5. Awesome plan! It's the kind of plan I would come up with, lol! But no wonder I won't see you this weekend, you're off doing your own thing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Keep us posted! And maybe Austen and I can meet up with you Saturday after everyone is done showing for the day...? (my non-horsey husband will be along with us, poor guy lol)

      Delete
    2. yea i'm so bummed not to see you guys this weekend! saturday evening could actually possibly work for a brief "hello" - we're actually not showing until sunday but i'm planning to head to some big races out in VA with friends on saturday and may be able to swing by on my way home?

      Delete
  6. Good luck with all the shows! Having not dipped my toes in this arena yet, I have no opinion. In endurance with Gem, the less was always the better. She does way better with time to stew it all over and tends to come out stronger with more time off than over training/over conditioning. In our current situation, she is doing really well with time off to think about what we went over and tends to come out even stronger after a break. Only time will tell how showing adds into that equation and every horse is so different in what they can tolerate/handle and what they need.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yea i can see how that approach would work for Gem, especially as in endurance, each event is often working a horse to their fullest, maximum level of conditioning and fitness. for these events, a day of dressage-stadium-xc at intro level is so easily within charlie's physical abilities that i don't much need to worry about the burden on his body. rather, it's the emotional and mental development that's key here. it's about showing him "this is your job. it's not a big deal, not a reason for any fuss. and there's a pattern and rhythm to it that you can easily learn with repetition"

      Delete
    2. Came back to add: I think with eventing the biggest difference for us as a pair is that we can work more often but on such different things: dressage one day and jumping another that it keeps it always fresh and interesting for her. Whereas with conditioning for endurance, Gem would get bored with trotting down the trail mile after mile by ourselves.

      Delete
    3. oh absolutely - that's one of my favorite things about eventing is that you can have a training schedule such that you never do the same thing two days in a row - but are all the time adding to the horse's education, training, and fitness. it's a real perk!

      Delete
  7. What an exciting month for you and Charlie! I am thinking he will eat up all the exposure and ask for more, considering his learning style so far. Have fun and best of luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks! that's exactly my hope! i kinda half expect to continue having to play catch up to him lol.... but it'll also be fine if he needs to take the opportunity to have a little "wtf why exactly are we doing this again?" moment too lol

      Delete
  8. Yay! I'd have the same kind of schedule if there were more schooling shows around here, the more exposure, the better for the greenies.

    Ahhh I hope I get to come see you guys show on Memorial Day!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. eeeeeeee i hope so too!! we'll be pretty darn close to DC, relatively speaking! and it would be great to see you :D

      Delete
  9. Sometimes I think horses just need to get out and go do -- at least, that's the approach I'm taking with Miles this year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yea i definitely agree. and like... let's be real - the reason i have a horse is bc i personally also enjoy getting out and doing all the things, so like, this is it buddy. this is your job. this is why i have you. let's get out and have some fun!

      Delete
  10. Yep, the more the better. I love having super busy months like that. I started getting P off the farm regularly about 6 months post-track to accompany people to shows, on trail rides, etc. By the time I started showing him, about 8 months post-track, he was an old pro. I like that you're building upon each previous outing, I think Charlie will do just fine! P.S. Also agree that C is definitely ready for water/ditch/bank :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yea charlie's pretty experienced at the travel thing - he's been on the road with me for about five months. he's still gotta learn the ways of the shows tho. one step at a time! and yea he's done ditches banks and water in schoolings, tho it's easier to say he's ready for it in competition when you're not the one who has to ride it lol ;P

      Delete
  11. What a great plan for the month! I'm so excited to watch as you guys figure it all out!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Sounds like lovely scaffolding and I know that you've got contingency on contingency built it. Your guys' partnership is pretty damn exciting. With Ramone his first year we did 2 schooling shows - 1 a couple months after I bought him and the second 2 months after that. In between we schooled off property at someone else's farm. It was good experience and more then anything an ability to take his temperature and decide what to school in between and all winter long.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks! and yea i like that metaphor of "temperature" taking. maybe that's a good way to describe charlie's first dressage show in november vs his second one this spring. he was definitely a very different horse at both outings! we'll see how the rest of the spring unfolds!

      Delete
  13. Brantley and I are on the same track for sure. We had our first HT and went Elementary which was the BN test, 2' stadium, and little logs for XC (obviously every place is different). We live on experience because sure he could jump 2'3 or 2'6 at home and hurl himself down the familiar drop off the arena... but why rush it off property. The worst part is... we're both very green to the sport which definitely has it's pros and cons. I mean technically I've only been jumping since I decided to let him hop over a 2' pile of logs... from a stand still... in my barrel saddle. Learning together right?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yea that's a lot like when i started with isabel. both of us had to learn the whole sport of eventing, tho i had been jumping for around 10 years already at that point (having competed in the hunters through college). it's a bit easier with charlie bc i've got a pretty clear sense of where we need to be and how we need to get there for these earliest outings

      Delete
  14. My trainer and I talked about making certain venues Eli's homes away from home. The more mileage, the better for young/inexperienced horses at an appropriate level. What your plans are with Charlie make total sense to me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i LOVE the "home away from home" analogy and feel that way about OF -- for both izzy and charlie. it's wonderful to have a venue that you can go to where the horse will instantly recognize it and feel familiar and at east while there. it makes traveling as a whole so much less stressful bc the horse is accustomed to it being safe and nbd and familiar

      Delete
  15. I think that you guys are ready to tackle this! I can't wait to read about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks i'm hopeful! i feel pretty good about this weekend and am already formulating some special plans for it. there's a bit more work to be done before the end of the month tho but hopefully we'll be able to check off all the appropriate boxes!

      Delete
  16. Whew, I got tired just reading it. I can't wait to hear about it and I'm sure there will be a lot of really good lessons learned

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ha yea admittedly i'm already a little exhausted by some of it too lol. esp this fair hill trip, bc my friends are in such disparate divisions we'll be there ALL. DAY. oh well. c'est la vie! tail gating is half the fun anyway!

      Delete
  17. I'm super jealous of how many options you have. I have like 1 option per month for eventing. 3 events in one month might even be too much for me though. Have fun!

    ReplyDelete
  18. So jealous of your options. charlie is going to be a pro in no time. Last year worked wonders on Annie's confidence on course. The more she saw the better she was. Excited to read about all of the adventures.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Excited to follo the process. Kind of similar ideas to what I have planned with Merlot

    ReplyDelete