Tuesday, July 25, 2017

hell or high water

The heat wave has continued, bleh, and this past weekend was particularly hot. Like, really nasty. But surprisingly we actually had a pretty big group for our weekly jump lesson at OF. Definitely not something to be missed, apparently!

uncharacteristically, i forgot my half pad when packing the trailer, so opted to use this Success Equestrian pad with built in extra cushioning
Charlie has been working really well and really hard for the last couple of weeks - really figuring some stuff out about his new life. So I was eager to see where he'd be for this lesson.

i love the look but unfortunately it still needs a half pad, sits too far down on him
Verdict? He was pretty good, but not great - but did have some stuff to teach me about what he needs for warm up and riding consistency. Meaning, I had kept our warm up very short and sweet due to the heat, but then ended up needing to continue schooling our flat work a little bit in between jump turns bc he wasn't really where I wanted him to be.

trotting like a whole new horse on his way to his first liverpool 
He was STRONG for this lesson. Having moments of softness and give on the flat (like I said, he's really figuring it out), but also moments of basically blowing right through me. Then it started drizzling and the wetness + his sweat slick neck meant I had a lot of trouble hanging on to my reins. Not a great feeling on a strong horse haha!

game faces engaged!
The lines were all measured at not really great distances for us too - everything seemed to be set at fairly open distances, at 4 and 5 strides. Ideally I'd love to work on schooling the add stride, but that's pretty tough to do with lots of long straight approaches and 4 stride lines.

visually interesting "skinny" jump - note the single very high cross rail?
We tried tho. Managed to figure out how to get the add for 6 down the outside line that only involved my life flashing before my eyes once when Charlie almost got to the add but decided to go long after all. But like, LONG. As in, rider basically sitting on the horse's ass, slipping reins all the way to the buckle as the notoriously careless horse stretches out to superman over an oxer.

Luckily, Charlie seemed to agree that this style of jumping wasn't actually super fun and went for the add down that line after that lol.

he has such a great tail <3
The rest of the lines tho.... not so much. Particularly the two diagonal lines - you can see in the video that I'm finally starting to be able to form and influence his canter in the spaces between jumps. Charlie's developing a half halt (finally!), aided in no small part by me finally learning to sit down more haha.

just in case you thought i only ever got left behind over fences, here's a shot of me jumping ahead too lol
But it still takes too long to make it happen, and we don't land in the same canter we jump from. Which you can totally tell in the related distances. We get the in jump ok on a canter that almost looks like it could compress to the add stride - but then we land a little messy and the horse stretches out down the line to do the step, which ends up a little long bc of how we jumped in.

i think he likes the jumps up a little bit!
Eventually, obviously a horse this size can't and shouldn't necessarily always be doing the add stride - he's got a really lovely comfortable ground covering stride and doesn't need to be packaged down into nothing. But for right now, his tendency is to get strong and a little excited and rushy about the jumps - while kinda blowing through me as he goes.

i was quite pleased with how we reached some of the jumps
And as in all things with horse training, we spend the most time focusing on the things that are most challenging to the horse. This horse struggles in compressing his body and stride, in holding himself up while pushing from behind. So.... that's basically what we work on.

wheeee but not all of them lol
It's getting better all the time tho. Like, even tho Charlie was kinda strong in this lesson and kinda wanting to run through the bridle, there was still a LOT to be happy about. He made a lot of good choices, had a lot of really nice jumps, and felt pretty rideable through the ends of the arena (as opposed to careening off like a rocket ship).

jumping cute with a little extra gusto lol
Plus he was unfazed by the height of any of the jumps (some of which were about 2'9) or styles of jump - including his first liverpool, and a funny end jump with a barrel and a large cross rail coming across half of it to make it a skinny.

turbo tail!!
He was basically game to tackle anything, and I mostly felt pretty darn good about our communication and being 'in sync' with him (even tho I ended up ditching the gloves bc they seemed to be making things MORE slippery vs less).

this could have been such a much nicer photo if my leg was better behaved. sigh. 
All the same tho - I'm planning on adding a curb chain to the bit. That doesn't seem to be something commonly seen with this style elevator bit (tho apparently curb straps are less uncommon?) but it's been something I've been thinking about for a while. I actually bought a chain a while back but hadn't gotten around to adding it, esp after a couple jump rides of being pretty soft and consistent.

fun game: try to count the # of times charlie gets a little long to the fence then has to add in a little extra "gas power" to make it over lol. toot toot!

We'll try it now, tho, I think. If it ends up being too much or sitting funny or messing with the action of the bit, I'll try a plain leather strap (instead of a chain). But somehow I think it'll be just right.

He's a big strong horse who loves to run and seems kinda excited about this whole jumping thing. I'm getting better about staying with him and softening when called for - but it's also hard to be soft and giving in my arms and hands when I don't trust the brakes. Ideally I'd like to be able to get in there with my half halt, then give back and soften - rather than constantly feeling like I need to take a hold.

yay team!!
We'll see tho. In the meantime, Charlie's just been pretty exciting. I love the feeling of a horse starting to 'get' it - starting to feel schooled. It's addicting haha, and every time I get even the briefest moment of that feeling from Charlie, it just makes me hungrier for more.

unimpressed charlie is unimpressed
And in an effort to continue helping him develop, I'll be making some fairly significant changes next week in our standard day to day life. Like anything else, this means some sacrifices and trade offs - but I'm optimistic that it'll be a really good decision for the horse. Fingers crossed!

40 comments:

  1. He is looking so fancy! And squee changes... I am psyched for you.

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    1. Thanks he's starting to feel so fancy too!! (Relatively lol but anything is fancier than what we started with haha)

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    2. ooh changes (David Bowie in my head now great) LOL...i can't wait to read all about it. Looks like a great jump lesson even with the bobbles. He really is getting it. I am jealous of you having a big group to ride with like that. I am always on my own or with one other person. I think you learn so much even watching others go!! Very Cool...and it looked very sweaty, hot and gross (HA) Poor Charlie deserved that fan yep!

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    3. Thanks I love group lessons too, definitely a lot of value there. Private lessons are nice sometimes too but I really like being able to watch. Also yea it was hot this weekend - luckily it actually drizzled for our whole lesson (you can see the rain in the video and some of the pictures) so that cut the humidity pretty well. Still sweaty tho!

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  2. I looked a that first photo and damn! he's looking so good. I enjoyed the video- it's clear how you two are always wanting to work together. I can see that he really trusts you.

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    1. Thanks, he's doing really well and definitely wants to be a good boy (even if I'm trying to get him to do things differently than he would like to do then lol). Slowly but surely!

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  3. Charlie is look really good! I hope the changes all turn out for the best. Since I ride at annoying times (like the butt crack of dawn or racing the sun as it sets) I always ride alone. I'd love a group lesson some day t get to watch and learn from the others in the group.

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    1. there is a LOT to be said for riding in a group - whether through a formal lesson structure or even just casually with friends. especially for jumping lessons, in my experience (dressage tends to be specific enough to the individual horse/rider pair that private lessons have worked well for me there tho). i learn so much from watching others go - esp with horses that might have different problems or tendencies than i might otherwise know much about. plus obviously it's nice to get some time to breathe and rest between courses while everyone takes their turns haha. if you ever have the opportunity to try out a group lesson i'd strongly encourage it!

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    2. The xc outing that is tentatively planned for this week is going to be a group outing and I don't know if I am more excited for the xc or the group!

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    3. Oooh yea xc is definitely best done as a group too - nothing helps inspire bravery like watching everyone else make it look good! I hope you have a blast!

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  4. Emma he is doing so good!! He is really taking on a new shape. No wonder you are addicted :)

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    1. thanks - he's just so much fun :D

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  5. oh my god i'm so impressed... those are NOT SMALL anymore and hes not falling all over his face... he's getting a nice balanced canter... SLDKJSLK IM SO EXCITED FOR YOU

    its happeningggg

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    1. it isss happpennningggg omggggggg!!! i'm so freakin excited about this horse too - thanks girl! he's really truly doing the thing and he's actually pretty good, and SUPER fun at it!

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  6. He is just fantastic and gets better and better all the time! So excited for you with this horse! :D

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    1. thank you - i'm so impressed by this horse and am seriously enjoying the process of bringing him along. he makes it feel so easy sometimes!

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  7. Gah, that cliffhanger though :(

    I just luff him!

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  8. He looks like such a grown up jumping horse.

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    1. he feels super grown up too - 8 is a good age!

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  9. Oddly enough I find that the days where we have some interesting bobbles are also absolutely some of my favorite days. Because even though there are bobbles, when they get it, they really get it that day. I've always felt that those days the horse was fighting themselves, knowing what the rider wanted but only able to produce it every now and then. And because of that fight and desire to do it for the rider, I feel those days are the ones that really start the change and progress. Charlie is really looking so fantastic. You can tell all the muscle he's beginning to develop and that even through his excitement he's trying for you :). Such a good boy! He's maturing so nicely <3

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    1. Ha yea with green horses you kinda have to be able to enjoy the bobbles along with everything else bc it's rarely totally smooth sailing! All the same tho I'm quite pleased with him

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  10. Yay! He looks GREAT and has grown up so much! So excited for you!

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    1. Thanks - he's definitely figuring it out. Such a professional lately!

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  11. What a lovely hunter he would make *gives eyebrows*. You guys look great! I cannot believe how far he has come... wow.

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    1. When he's got a little more consistency to his pace I'll definitely be taking him in to play with the hunters ;)

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  12. Wow, he looks super-great in all of these pictures. Kinda love that trotting one. :)

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    1. Thanks! that trotting one makes me pretty happy - I have pics of him holding a similar frame but they're all while he's going over ground poles. This one is just allll his own self propelled lift. I like it!

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  13. He's a cute little jumper! I was expecting a speedier guy based on your writing, but he looks like he has a really nice pace!

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    1. thanks! he's not *fast* in the strictest sense of that word - rather he's very strong and covers ground pretty rapidly, something that makes sense for his size but that can also get him into trouble sometimes bc he's not really strong enough to hold himself up and rather tries to get very strung out instead. but like, the difference between his 'strung out' and his 'normal' right now is.... very slight lol. whereas actually in the video, that's basically the very best canter he has to offer right now - particularly down the first outside line where he was able to quite nicely execute the add stride. that's a very new skill for him and one i'm eager to continue working on!

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  14. Ugh I just posted and I'm not sure my comment went through- sorry if this is a double comment!

    Wow! There are so really incredible moments in that video. I can really see that he is starting to "get" it. With a but more time and training he is going to be a fantastic horse! Just lovely! :) -Kelly@ Hunky Hanoverian

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    1. thanks - sometimes i start wondering whether i'm looking so hard for signs of his increasing training that i make stuff up lol, but it really does feel like things are happening and he's getting it! all in good time!

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  15. It is so fun to look back to see where your guys' jumping journey started and to see you guys now!! You guys are soaring :)

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    1. Ha OMG it's crazy to look at his jump videos even from january and February. He's a whole new horse!!!! I'll have to do a progression post soon lol

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  16. Fun! It's so much just figuring stuff out, isn't it? Trying different things and changing as he changes.

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  17. I learn so much from your blog, lol . . . Like SO much. Just keep 'em coming!

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  18. Look at those jumps getting bigger! Y'all are doing so great, even with that crushing heat

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  19. You guys are looking so so good!

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  20. I ride Hero in a three ring elevator and we use a leather curb strap. It was hard to find one actually!

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