Friday, June 16, 2017

the lines that blur

In case you haven't been following along super closely - I've kinda been following a somewhat non-linear path with Charlie's introduction to competitive eventing. Maybe this is pretty normal, but for whatever reason it's kinda felt a little unusual. Idk, maybe it's not that uncommon tho?

Anyway, the gist is that - at least for the levels we're working on (ie: the lowest of the low) - I'm not holding hard and fast to any 'current competition level' for Charlie. We've been way more flexible about the whole "moving up" thing than seems to be the norm.

more pictures of isabel bc i wanna
Charlie's first competitive jumping experience (a 2-phase CT at Loch Moy) was done at the 18"-2' level. Then he did his first 3-phase HT at 2'3 at Loch Moy. Then back to 18" for his next HT at Fair Hill, then 2'3-2'7 at Jenny Camp, and 2'3 again at Loch Moy.

The variation in our record so far has very little to do with the "jump height" and everything to do with the individual venues and my experiences with them. Especially having to do with cross country at each venue.

novice ditch combo
And so I've kinda been planning all along to continue blurring the lines between levels as we see fit. Focusing less on "height" or "level" and more on what each venue has to offer (from my own experience) and how that relates to Charlie's current level of experience and schooling.

Naturally this thought process was recently somewhat challenged by the dressage judge who seemed to think that Charlie shouldn't even be jumping at all yet.... Uh... Sorry, not sorry?

benches, yo!
Lol... I mean. Yea. I believe in dressage in jumping. In fact, I've written about it extensively. Not even gonna bother linking to specific posts bc.... it's legitimately too frequently a theme in my writing to even try. But I also don't need to link to the individual posts that have demonstrated how much Charlie has learned about his own body and balance and way of carrying himself just by learning to jump. So. Ya know. It's a two-way street.

Anyway tho, back to the point. We are blurring some lines here at 'Fraidy Cat Eventing!

Charlie had a busy May for horse trials but has since had a couple weeks off to focus on steady, consistent schooling. We're about to gear back up for a brief "mid summer" season tho, coming soon. We have an upcoming MCTA event at Tranquility, then we'll return to Fair Hill in July.

jumpies in the woods!
You might remember that some of the jumps on xc at Jenny Camp looked pretty familiar. The vast majority of them were from either OF or Tranquility. Many, actually, from the BN Tranquility course. And Charlie jumped 'em all no problem.

Therefore, I went ahead and entered us for BN at that event. It's a familiar venue, with familiar jumps. Usually the water isn't on course (it's a bit small to handle a high volume of riders in one day), and the ditches and banks tend to be a non-issue as well. Plus, at last year's MCTA event at Tranquility, most of the jumps were flagged as high-low options for all levels anyway. So we'll see. It should be a good opportunity for Charlie.

she was a pretty great event mare
A couple weeks later tho, we'll be back to 2'3 Intro for Fair Hill. We did the 18" Elem last time at Fair Hill bc their Intro course is maybe the biggest baddest best Intro course in the area. It's got all the same stuff you're gonna see at BN (jumps set at related distances to ditch, bank AND water) - just more forgiving distances and smaller fences.

Charlie wasn't quite ready for all that last time, tho, and I think some of that might still challenge him today too. So I'm happy to stay at a height that keeps us feeling positive and moving forward even if he's seeing 'questions' that he's less sure about.

I expect both of these courses to be challenging in some regards, but also REALLY fun. At least, that's my hope haha!

charlie's ready to pick up that slack tho! we got this :D

For my purposes, I'm not worried about whether we fit solidly within the parameters of any one division or another. It doesn't much signify right now. Once fall season rolls around and the MDHT Fall starter series opens up, I'll want Charlie to be closer to confirmed for BN - since those 600m xc courses really are too short for Charlie. But there's time to sort that out.

For now, I'm just thinking about the next couple weeks. Pushing Charlie up a little bit in height for one event. But then dialing him back down in height - while adding complexity in ditches/banks/water at the next event. It's always a balancing act, right?

33 comments:

  1. Your reasoning makes sense to me!

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    1. Thanks! I'm certainly trying to find a path that makes sense in my head. Hopefully it plays out similarly irl!

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  2. My grey mare in my profile pic dumped me more times in the dressage warm up than she ever did in the jumping warm up. I'm sure many a dressage judge thought we I was nuts for jumping but she was much more focused there and eventually the dressage caught up.

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    1. Ooh boy, yea each horse certainly has its own way!

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  3. I think at the lower levels it is completely about the type of jump and the question being asked then about a specific height so the fact that you're jumping between the levels doesn't seem so odd.

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    1. Yea definitely. Esp bc it's mostly single jumps, and even the stuff you *can* see on BN isn't consistently applied across all venues.

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  4. I think that you are making super smart choices and know you and your horse very, very well. At this stage no need to test height and questions together. I think it's a brilliant plan :) I can think of some I've seen that would have done well to follow a similar plan rather than moving up or riding a certain level because they should or can.

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    1. Thanks girl ;) and yea I'm all about finding the right balance that makes me personally feel really good. Bc the idea of doing something "just bc we probably could" doesn't really inspire the kind of confidence that I prefer to have. Like. Could Charlie be jumping 3' right now? Yea I mean he would probably just lope it like he does everything else. But.... Is that what I want him to be doing? Probably not yet. Homeboy needs a little technique first!

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  5. That comment from the judge slips right in my thoughts of posting today 'Trolls'. Don't take this the wrong way but for your big Charlie those jumps are speed humps.... It is not like your jumping a two year old... But this is the horse world and full of people who think they know best for all. Smile, nod, thank for opinion, spin to walk away .... Then reem them in your head haha

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    1. Lol as you can see we are definitely not particularly hung up on the judge telling me not to move the horse up (in fairness tho the judge did not know what level I competed him at and asked if he was at novice.... So that judge was perhaps operating on a slew of assumptions not reflecting reality)

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  6. Your reasoning sounds solid. It helps that you have so much knowledge of the venues and what the courses typically are like. You are making smart choices to give Charlie good experiences and that is what matters the most.

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    1. Yea knowing the venues REALLY helps. Like. Majorly. It takes out so much of the guess work. I mean, they can still surprise me haha (like how Jenny camp surprised me this year) but mostly it's way easier to know what to expect

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  7. I don't event, so I hadn't really thought anything of you bouncing "between levels" so to speak, but reading through your reasoning seems super logical to me. Basing your decisions on the complexity/height of the cross country courses seems like the way to go -- you know Charlie can handle the basic dressage (although sometimes that bending thing is hard ;) haha), and clearly the height of the stadium fences doesn't faze him. So adjusting your level to the cross country you feel like he's ready for without overfacing him sounds like the ideal balance.

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    1. Lol oddly enough it's actually kinda stadium that I'm most worried about at any given moment. Old hold over demons from Isabel maybe. And the fact that Charlie is like... The least impressed by them. Vs cross country where he takes the jumps a little more seriously and is therefore a little more rideable. We will see tho. Like you say. It's all a balance!

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  8. if we had to wait till we got decent bends and scores in dressage i would NEVER EVER EVER get to jump :) LOL....

    Sounds like a plan stan! (Best of luck in your upcoming BN debut :)

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    1. Thanks and ain't that the truth! I was SO SPOILED with Izzy bc she was always schooling a higher level of dressage than we competed at for eventing, so those tests were so boring to her lol. But Charlie is ... Still a work in progress lol

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  9. Smart! It is great you put time and effort into considering the venue, your horse, and everything else. Looking forward to the event report!

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    1. Thanks! I think I'm making up for lost time in the planning / over analyzing department haha. Now that we *can* show again it's all I wanna think about. But yea. Hopefully the plan works!

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  10. It is so awesome that your area has all these different locations to attend!

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    1. We are definitely spoiled here, that's for sure. And actually there are quite a few local venues and events that we have missed bc of scheduling or whatever too - like we don't even get to all the fun cool options. This area is great for sure!

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  11. It is so cool that you have all these options to choose from and are able to be this flexible with getting him experience. :-) Charles is a lucky guy.

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    1. There really are so many great options around us - we are lucky! And mostly I'm just so happy to be out and about doing it all again that I hardly care what we do so long as it feels good !

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  12. Yeah I think I'd be "sorry, not sorry"-ing the judge as well. I think by jumping, you're doing that "cross training" that's helping him to learn, just as you said. It's not just drilldressagedrilldressagedrilldressage. I think Charlie would explode if you did that LOL. But I agree with you on the different levels. Blurring lines maybe, but lots of progress for you two :)

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    1. Yea I mean if I wanted to just do dressage I would still be leasing Isabel, right? But I'm a rider who wants to jump. So I bought a horse that jumps. And.... We jump. Lol. So far so good!

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  13. Once a dressage judge actually pulled me aside after my test and questioned me on whether the lesson horse I was riding was safe to jump. Ummm yes, he was 100x safer in the jumping phases then he ever was in dressage. Your move up move down move up plan makes complete sense to me, good luck and have fun!

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    1. Yikes haha, can't say I've ever had a judge ask me that!! The reality tho is that for low level eventing, it's the same level dressage anyway. It's all training level dressage until you get to USEA Training Test B anyway, where glimmers of first start to show. So like, to decide between intro or BN or N bc of dressage is.... Well. Missing the forest for the trees lol. And in fact Charlie's dressage is not at all any part of the consideration for the plan outlined above (and the entries were mailed in well before last weekends schooling show anyway)

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  14. I think you're doing it right! Woot woot, good job!

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  15. I love how you're introducing him to the whole eventing thing! I wish there were more courses here with a range of jump heights...either we are solid at 2'7ish for the entire course or we jump 15 2'3" logs lol - there's no in between!

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  16. I had a trainer tell me something similar once, I was kinda like... I really don't see a problem with trotting over little jumps at the same time I'm teaching my super calm and sane horse how to steer and everything else.

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  17. It actually reminds me of something someone said about the Dressage training scale and how you might work on certain elements that are higher up when a horse isn't necessarily "at that level" kinda like using half steps early on in a horse's training.

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