Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Jenny Camp 2017: Dressage & Stadium

I really hope you guys aren't worn out and tired of all the show recaps lately. It's been a busy spring in Charlieland, I totally get that. And it's not even quite over yet - there's still one more run at Loch Moy before we close out the month of May.

BUT. This show, to me, felt like an important milestone. Jenny Camp had been slated on my idealistic events calendar as Charlie's "move up event" since my earliest ruminations on the horse's debut event season.

A: Enter Fabulous
And maybe you're tired of me finding endless variations of announcing "Charlie's first {whatever}!!!" But I'm gonna go ahead and put Jenny Camp onto a little pedestal of its own anyway, by calling it Charlie's first "full" run through all three phases.

Let me explain: Charlie rode the Beginner Novice Test A for dressage, a full w-t-c test that we will likely be riding for some time to come. He jumped a full stadium course at 2'3 - the full height at which we ought to be competing at present (rather than anything lower). And the real pièce de résistance, cross country, was a full 1,800m track of appropriately sized jumps with all three xc hallmarks (ditch / bank / water) in what honestly amounted to a watered down BN track.

hey look, it's a trot!
And he did it all like a horse who more or less understands his job. It was all more or less pretty easy for him, actually. Obviously that's not to say that we're competitive haha, bc we're definitely not - we finished in last place with a mediocre dressage test and penalties in both jumping phases. But I'm honestly pretty cool with it.

wow, it's a canter too!
Dressage has been a bit tough for us lately. Charlie had a big breakthrough about contact in the week before Fair Hill, was schooling well, then had a baller dressage lesson. But the last week before Jenny Camp showed a bit of a regression, on top of a horse who is maybe understandably a bit body sore from working in a new way.

It's frustrating, but again - I'm ok with it. I knew basically what I was gonna have going into show day and focused on just riding that horse. Our test lacked any of the glimmers and beginnings of give or softness or suppleness that we saw at Fair Hill, and our circles are still too small and misshapen (gah, Emma, c'mon!). But all the transitions happened more or less correctly and in the right places. Small victories, y'all.


I unfortunately misplaced my test so couldn't add the scores and comments to the video - but this test won me my "straight 6's across the board" Bingo! square haha. Every single movement, including the collectives, was either a 6 or 6.5. Comments and feedback were right in line with what we're already working on. So. Ya know. Just gotta keep working.

matching expressions ftw
Our final score of 37.6% was nearly ten points improved from Fair Hill, but the real story is that this tied for 10th of 13, whereas Fair Hill was 6th of 9. In other words, we were still the same distance from last place, but in a more crowded division. So... yea it's really not about the "number" in these events. For me, it's more important to see how we do relative to the pack.

And for right now, we're showing our greenness in the dressage ring in a big way. It's cool tho - Isabel taught me a pretty deep appreciation for dressage (even the low level 'boring' stuff) and Charlie's had enough good moments of finding a 'nice' feel that I think we'll eventually get him to a better place. It might just... take a while lol.

off to a smashing start (puns lol)
 As far as he knows tho, he's the undefeated champion of the world Intro level dressage horse. And I sure as hell ain't gonna try to tell him differently! He thinks he's doing a mighty fine job (just ask him!) and I like that he's quickly figuring out the rhythms of a typical event: arrive at the venue, tack up, warm up, ride the test, then chill at the trailer. Charlie's got that down pat.

And then? When we go to put the tack back on? He knows that means JUMP TIME too :D

we like the left side, ok?
Fortunately he's still a pretty darn quiet guy, even as he figures all this stuff out. Bc the warm up for stadium turned into a zoo basically the moment we arrived. Riders from both the senior and junior splits were warming up simultaneously, and as much as I love seeing kiddos and their ponies out having a blast... some of them just aren't great at steering, ya know? lol...

Charlie didn't care tho. We found ways to keep mostly to ourselves on the flat - then kept the jump warm up super simple: trot the X, trot the vertical. Canter the vertical, canter the oxer. Use both leads as appropriate. Then be done. Good 'nuff.

wish my head wasn't cut off, but i'm still pleased with the fact that i'm carrying my hands more forward
I already mentioned my distaste for this particular stadium course, but here's a little more detail: It was fairly narrow, on a small and decidedly not flat section of ground, with almost every single jump coming up quickly. No related distances - but all bending lines and roll backs. Plus the ground fell away into the corners, making getting too deep into the corners somewhat inadvisable.

The first three were on an S-bend downhill, then a roll back uphill to 4 before another S-bend downhill from 5-6-7-8, then finishing up with the only "long run" back uphill to 9.

Given that Charlie can be quite strong on the landing side of fences, I expected this course to be a REAL challenge for us. At least the hardest turns (IMO) were to the left, Charlie's easier direction.

big horse over tiny fences!!!
Honestly tho? Despite my worry, the big guy came out and surprised me. He was half asleep at fence one and clobbered it good (lol) - then remembered to pick his legs up over the rest of the course. Ambled along, never got strong, came back when I asked, found most of his jumps pretty much fine.

I didn't really bother much with leads bc there was such little space and I didn't want to disturb his rhythm, but he either held the counter canter or made a full change himself when needed. Fine by me!

what can i say but that he's a good boy??
It wasn't necessarily "pretty," but actually it felt more or less "easy." The horse just jumped the jumps. I like it!


In some ways, this might have actually felt like our "easiest" stadium course to date at an event. Maybe the trickier ground worked in my favor? Whatever the case, I was quite pleased with him. The rail was silly and careless, but also totally forgivable at this point IMO. It's actually maybe a bit of a miracle that we hadn't yet had any rails in previous outings, honestly.

So. Two phases down in a competition where each phase was testing Charlie to the fullest measure of his current level of training. And next up? His biggest baddest xc course yet.

47 comments:

  1. 62.7 is not a bad dressage score (not here anyway) for a dressage show. I love how he's using his hind leg in that trot. He's really stepping under. And look at his muscling.

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    1. Thanks he is really filling out!! I'm pleased with that score too tho it is quite generous and likely would not hold up under scrutiny lol

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  2. Shawan Downs is such a nice place, I'm really surprised they never put a "real" dressage and jumping ring in somewhere. Of course I don't think there's a truly flat spot on the entire property.

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    1. Man I just love it there too! My understanding (which could be wrong) is that the property owner is pretty protective of the grounds so that might explain why they never built arenas. In the four years I've gone to Jenny camp, dressage has been in two different locations and stadium has been in four lol. They apparently chose this year's location by looking for ground that was the least torn up from the recent recognized event. Which I get.... But it still felt like an odd choice of ground lol.

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  3. You guys look like you are improving each outing and are having fun. Two big things.

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    1. Definitely - we are having a blast!!

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  4. NAILED IT!! I just love seeing this partnership improve and grow every time out! I'll never get tired of the announcement of all Charlie's 'firsts' - they are so exciting!

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    1. aw thanks girl - i'm pretty excited by it all too :)

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  5. You weren't kidding about that stadium video being "super quick"! Haha (in terms of time, not speed obvs). Charlie looks like a happy camper out there doing something he enjoys. So glad you had another solid experience for him!!

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    1. ha thanks - and yea that stadium course ran way faster than they expected, i think - to the point that the xc start box area got really jammed up and behind with too many ppl coming over from stadium before the xc course (which ran suuuuuper long) could take another rider.

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  6. Super woohoo for Charlie and you! I love hearing about Charlie's "first," he's such a cool dude. And SJ looked totally weird, you weren't exaggerating at all. But you guys nailed it.

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    1. yea it was definitely weird. like, the layout of the course itself (as in, the orientation of the jumps relative to each other) was more or less ok, tho it was all in VERY close proximity to each other. but add in the terrain and... just weird. very weird. charlie did it tho, good boy!

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  7. you need more colors in your xc outfit.

    but in all seriousness, so proud and the most fun about babies is all the "babys first sneeze!!!" getting documented. be proud of all of them, because they're all difficult milestones that you worked your ass off for.

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    1. thanks :D i'm stupidly proud of this big guy. we've been working hard, and will have to keep on working hard for a long time, i think. but he just keeps getting better and better <3

      and as for colors - lol, maybe you're right but idk. i kinda like the muted neutrals-n-navy look haha

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  8. I don't think I will ever get tired of hearing about Charlie rockin' through milestone after milestone. Paper aside, it sounds like a very positive, exciting show!

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    1. definitely very positive, thanks!

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  9. Haha I live vicariously through your updates. Also full marks on outfit.

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    1. lol thanks - i may or may not have spent the last year reliving my past successful outings by rereading all my old posts with isabel... just hoping that charlie would be interested in following a similar path. and now that he is, it makes me so happy!

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  10. I love how your pride in Charlie shines brighter and brighter with all of his successes <3 He's such a good freaking horse. I'm so happy he ended up with you and a job he really seems to enjoy.

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    1. thanks - he really is so freaking good. so good. it's crazy. i don't know how i got so lucky with him, and can only hope that he keeps loving the job and getting better and better!

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  11. Great job, very successful both Stadium and Dressage. Shoot I have a 14 year old gelding who isnt as willing as Charlie is in Dressage :) So happy he keeps improving. YES more color for CC thanks :) I want to be able to pick you out!!

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    1. ha you mean the giant lumbering thundering TB isn't enough of a stand out?!? ;P

      thanks tho - i'm really pleased that he keeps on improving too!

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    2. Earth to Emma, there are a lot of giant lubmering thundering TBs out there. If you ride a short, squat Buckskin QH then you stand out :)

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    3. lol fair enough, it's true i suppose that isabel was easier to pick out of a crowd than charlie too

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  12. Congratulations! I have a mare who is just a little further along in her training, so I totally get the "first time" milestones. What might seem small to someone else is huge for the greenie! I will also say you are super lucky to have so much media, as I usually show alone! (And weird question, why is it called Jenny Camp? Is there a camp component? Makes me want to go to summer horse camp LOL!)

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    1. i'm so lucky and grateful for all the media - truly and honestly! i have a lot of friends who are really generous in literally running across the fields to snag video, and i try to do the same for them in return. plus we are often lucky enough to have young riders hanging out who are always happy to help with the horses and absorb as much as possible. tho before this year i often showed alone too, and am pretty familiar with the sad circumstances of no pictures :( which.... is why i bought a helmet cam haha. stay tuned bc that video will be tomorrow!

      and re: Jenny Camp, she was actually a famous horse in the 20s and 30s who rose to olympic glory despite her small size and unlikely build. you can read a fun article about her here (http://www.chronofhorse.com/article/legendary-horses-jenny-camp), and a representative blurb is copied below:

      "Jenny Camp retired from competition after the 1936 Games and lived out the remainder of her life as a broodmare. However, her legacy lived on in the 1960s, when the introductory division at horse trials was named the Jenny Camp division. Today, the Jenny Camp Horse Trials, hosted by the Maryland Combined Training Association, is held every September."

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    2. I always wondered this too, and never asked. What a cool story :)

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    3. ha it's a cool story, right? i actually didn't know any of the details but went ahead and did some quick cursory searches to answer clover ledge's question, and now i'm glad i did!

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    4. Thank you for sharing that! What a cool story and cool horse! Though I still want to go to overnight horse camp now, but I will settle for learning something new! :-) Hahaha!

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  13. Show recaps are my favorite! Go to more shows!

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  14. It's all about those brains, right? Sounds like Charlie is an old soul.

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    1. omg this horse was born an old man, i swear haha

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  15. When you put in the work on a green bean, you get to celebrate each and every "first" you want!! You are both looking so much more together and confident!

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    1. thanks! it honestly feels like in the last two or so weeks that i've been able to turn some corners emotionally with how i ride and experience this horse. it's a good thing!

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  16. I love hearing about all of Charlie's "firsts"! You gotta document the super green parts because they change so so fast! And it's awesome that Charlie just keeps changing for the better and seems to really like this whole jumping stuff!

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    1. oh man it's insane how much he's changed even from january. insane!

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  17. I love everything about this. Go team!

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  18. Small victories! Although admittedly I think that test is difficult because the 20 meter circle is in the middle of the ring and really requires you to ride every step. I do like that Charlie was trying to stretch during the free walk. :)

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    1. yea 20m circles are shockingly difficult for us right now bc the horse is falling in (unless he's falling out. ya know). we don't have true inside bend and he falls away from my outside aids instead of really filling them up. this is a standard feature of literally every single test we've ridden so far and i'm starting to lose a little patience with myself for not making meaningful progress on addressing it yet lol.

      re: the free walk, i was happy with it too! trainer C identified it as something that needed fixing from our Fair Hill test when she watched the video during my last dressage lesson. her answer was to not let the reins out quite so far so that he couldn't just start rooting. it worked out pretty ok for us this time!

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  19. Love this so much!!

    He is such a wonderful, mellow fellow!

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    1. thanks - he's been so great for me to work with!

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  20. Aaaah he looks like he is really getting it! Listening, looking for the next fence, but not being a dick about it. I LOVE him!

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  21. Still so much progress and it's so cool how chill he is about everything. I really really like that (what a good brain you have Charlie)

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