Monday, August 21, 2017

the jolly green giant goes xc schooling!

You all might live to regret the day you told me you were cool with all these intensely photo-spammy posts haha. Because I'm a dyed in the wool media junkie, and have absolute mountains from this weekend's lesson.

clever pone is best pone <3
I've been itching to go xc schooling for.... well, a couple months now. Various plans have been abandoned for various reasons (mostly weather related) and it was starting to feel a little dire, what with our entries already sent in for September's events.

but first we trot
We got yet another torrential downpour this past Friday night too, which threatened to upend our plans yet again (the farm typically prefers no schooling 24 hours after heavy rain) but somehow the rain was so intense that it all flash-flooded away without soaking into the ground too deeply. Bizarre but I'll take it!

i kinda love charlie's skeptical expression here
We started in the arena tho anyway for what would prove to be a bit of a marathon lesson, essentially two back to back lessons. I honestly probably could have lived without the arena jumping part tho.

wheeeeeeee and we jomp now!
Charlie and I were a bit out of sync. Maybe both a bit rusty considering all our mutual time off lately. As I already wrote, Charlie's a good boy and doesn't really regress in the truest sense of the word with time off.

enthusiasm, we gots it
also note: charlie's alushield-covered chest. he apparently got mauled by grass sharks, poor baby
But his training as yet is still very rough around the edges. He lacks refinement. Which... well, naturally - he's only had amateur me doing all of his training lol.

a little more united out of the one stride
It means tho that we can get a little coarse without consistent schooling. That he can be a little slower to react to aids, and I end up resorting to just plain pulling instead of using my full body and core strength to influence Charlie's balance and speed.

looking downright pleasant
So the jumping was honestly a little rough, with Charlie feeling very long and flat instead of up in front of my leg and into the bridle. This presents in constantly getting distances that just aren't quite right - a little long (or uh, very long) here, a little tight there.

yup, that'll do
But it's cool tho. The jumps stayed mostly small and Charlie still felt mostly game. So we kinda just warmed up over a few random singles, a one stride grid, and a bending line, then put a course together.


Nothing really ground breaking there. It wasn't our best jumping but I'm also kinda cool with that being the representation of what a "bad day" looks like for us right now. It could always be worse!

lots of pictures of pets today
After that, the whole group moved out to the cross country fields to start warming up over some logs. If you recall, Charlie's only really had two formal cross country lessons. We've gone out with friends before but not really jumped anything. And we got out at the end of a lesson a month or two ago and just jumped a couple things.

camera light settings went rogue. i kinda dig it tho!
Mostly tho, Charlie's gotten the lion's share of his experience via actual competitions. Specifically six horse trials, each with 10-15 jumps in the xc phase ranging from 18" to BN height.

wheeeee go tail power!
This has worked out reasonably well even if it's not ideal. Charlie's got a pretty clear sense of what this cross country thing is all about. He's seen a wide variety of fence styles across different types of terrain. And he has yet to see something that bugs him out!

trit trot, jiggity jog!
But the downside to only getting experience through competitions vs schooling is that we haven't really had a lot of time to work out any kinks. Everything has been very much about "getting it done" instead of.... ya know. Training and practicing.

technically a novice fence bc of the watery ground line. charlie calls a log a log tho
So this ride was great bc we got to get started right away on BN stuff, which Charlie seemed to appreciate and enjoy. And then also right away get to work on the holy trinity of cross country: ditches, banks and water.

what level do we event? genius level. obvi. 
Every time I hack Charlie out across these fields (or any xc field), I've made it a point to go up or down any tiny baby banks. Or go over the faux ditch (the most open ditch Charlie had previously seen was still this very inviting baby version at Tranquility). And obvi mosey through the water (usually going for a trot and canter through too, just because).

remember back when charlie had a meltdown about dropping into water? me neither ;)
But we logged some very important "firsts" this weekend:

1) Charlie trotted down a bank for the first time, and into water to boot. Good boy! That's not on the video but a couple variations of him walking down the bank are included and he looks pretty freakin cool about it all.

it's the house we painted!
2) We tackled some combinations and I did not pull the horse down into a nothing canter and add a zillion strides. Ahem. In fact, we were usually a little too gung ho, often leaving strides out. Ah well, game horse is game!

we match the jomps haha
3) Charlie met his first true open ditch!!! Actually, ditches!! And made exactly zero fuss about them. He actually overtook the horse who was supposed to be giving him a lead to the first ditch lol. We did the BN and N ditches, neither of which are particularly intense or terrifying or whatever. But both are quite legitimate questions and Charlie had the answer.

was supposed to be a four lol
4) We even did some N stuff!! Not much at all, and what we did do was either only N bc of the technicality or location of the terrain (see: that tiny log out of water) or was legit N sized but not maxed out and with a quite inviting profile (see: the roll top below).

we've previously jumped the N version of this fence. charlie says it's too sma
But all in all, it was a very good day for knocking some dust off and puffing up our combined confidence again. I gotta be totally honest: the first time I took Charlie xc schooling for real, I had to chug a couple adult beverages before hand and was very very very nervous.

there we go, that's more charlie sized!
But after our jam packed spring season competing? I have a TON of confidence in this horse on cross country now. Charlie is a good boy. He feels safe, reliable, and honest. Green, sure, but.... somehow also kinda a packer.

"i'm flying jack!"
I still have some work to do, however, as evidenced by my very defensive position. Just as with our stadium course, our canter wasn't always quite right and we got long to many of the fences. And I just simply can't bring myself to lean at the fences when that happens.

open N ditch? ain't no thang
Maybe bc Charlie has a history of tripping up front? Or being a little careless? Or because I fell off approximately 8 thousand horses last summer? Who knows. At least I'm figuring out how to slip my reins more and more even when I stay in the back seat.

this also was supposed to be a four. whoops!
But also like, lol, Charlie does not appear to be in the least bit slowed down by my position haha. What a star <3


So ya know. As always there's more work to do. Forever and ever. And I'm very hopeful that we'll get another opportunity (or two) to school before Fair Hill in early September. In fact, my friends and I might be planning something very fun, and very colorful lol.

gosh i <3 him
But for now I'm really pretty satisfied with the big horse. He's going well. He's become fairly reliable and predictable. Seems to understand and enjoy the game. And is happy to carry me forward to the fences.

I've had a lot of fun on Fair Hill's BN course in the past (fun fact: it was my first time there that finally convinced me to buy a helmet camera) and I think it'll be a really great challenge for Charlie at this point in his training. We'll see, there's still some time left!

Is anyone else starting to get excited about the fall season? Gearing up and preparing for fun stuff to come?

50 comments:

  1. I swear, the rain has been relentless! Glad you finally got to school :)

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    1. yea for real. in a way i can't complain too much bc it seems like the ground can take all the rain we've gotten and still some more... but yea. it's kinda obnoxious when it interferes with our plans!

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  2. I love how positive you both are about this stuff. You guys look so good together and things are coming along.

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    1. thanks! we've still got a lot of missing pieces but i feel really good about where we are in the 'partnership' aspect!

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  3. Whee! So glad you got to get out and school!! You both look like you're having a ton of fun!

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    1. it was definitely time to school haha - so i'm super relieved it happened! and yea, it was definitely super fun. way more than the stadium phases lol

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  4. Fun!!!! Glad you finally got out there and the weather held for you. It has been an odd summer weather wise everywhere.

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    1. definitely odd. we went through some really intense heat for a while that seems to have abated (it's only high 80s and low 90s now) but the humidity is still very much with us - along with fairly regular thunderstorms. c'est la vie, i guess.

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  5. man that looks really fun - love him leaving some out. he never looks like hes booking it hes just like oh darn there goes a stride. woops.

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    1. lol truer words have never been spoken. it always just looks like a canter in the park until you put it in relation to actual known and measured reference points lol.

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  6. yay cc schooling! Great job all! Charlie is amazing!! And so are you. Love all the media! YAY.

    Hey are you doing BN at FH in Sept???

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    1. yup we sure are!! are you gonna be there??

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    2. yes i entered intro again. LOL and got a stall for Remus so the track kids don't blow his tiny mind again :) I didnt realize you were going BN :) Very cool....

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    3. great - glad to hear you'll be there! i think allison will be there too, as well as some other friends, so we're planning on hangin out all day (brita is going novice i think!!!!!!) so i'm looking forward to seeing you and remus! i'm hoping charlie will be happy to face some bigger jumps, or at least maybe a little less gallopy lol!

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    4. since i got a stall i am planning on coming early and dumping his ass in there, so i will bet there to see ALL:) I hope Alli comes too! And YAY Brita. How exciting!

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    5. great, it should be a good day!

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  7. Yay Charlie! You guys are going to have a great fall season!! And BTW, you won the saddle pad giveaway! I sent you an email to get your mailing address. Congrats! :-)

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    1. omg yay!!!! thanks!!! reply email is sent!

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  8. I love it, you guys are looking so good! And he's such a cool dude. I love seeing stuff like this.

    I'm doing my own gearing up for fall, eeeeee!

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    1. thanks!! and yay fall - it's usually my favorite time of year!!! :D

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  9. I love him and I want to steal him and throw him in the hunter ring, haha. He's a versatile guy!

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    1. ha versatile for sure! he's not particularly handy (yet, i'm still hopeful lol) but perhaps he'd be a fun ride in a derby?? definitely something to think about for the future!

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  10. It's amazing how fast you can work through the brain problems from last summer with a guy like Sir Charles. :-) So thrilled for you!

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    1. thanks! it's actually pretty amazing - those brain problems are still very much there. charlie continues to have a tendency toward getting upset and defensive when he's confused or doesn't understand. in fact he just had his worst meltdown in recent memory when i tried to close a gate while mounted and he just did.not.understand what i needed him to do for maneuvering around the gate.

      luckily he remains a good boy and is quick to recover - the work we've done in building trust has helped. but that's still going to be his typical response if he's confused. meaning i need to be really diligent in continuing to show him how to get the answers right as we introduce new and more complicated questions.

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  11. What a good guy! I love how game he is even when he maybe isn't sure.

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    1. omg me too - and it's funny bc he's game in a way totally different from isabel haha, but it turns out to be just as fun!

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  12. I'm so happy you were able to get out and school!

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  13. Even with the long spots, you guys look great! I'll just be here in NC living vicariously through you- it seems like every HT I want to go to, Husband will be out of town for :(

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    1. ugh that's so frustrating! a couple friends have had similar scheduling conflicts, bleh.

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  14. Awesome! You guys look GREAT! He looks so positive ❤ and you do too! And YAY for media! Seriously I love all the pics. Pics are the best 😂

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    1. pics really are the best haha - i'm not sure i could ever get tired of them!

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  15. So happy for you guys and I seriously enjoy all the media! So lucky that you're able to get all these photos :)

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    1. lol thanks! they're each and every last one of them video stills - much easier to get my favorite moments that way, and easier for the person holding the phone too!

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  16. Awesome media! Your partnership with Charlie makes me so happy :)

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    1. aw thanks ;) makes me happy too!

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  17. Having recently been bringing along my own green OTTB I am seriously super impressed with how far you guys have come. Especially doing the XC thing, every XC jump automatically looks 3x as big to me!

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    1. ha thanks! i have the advantage of having already started a horse over xc style fences before, and it took a LOT longer the first time! luckily charlie has so far taken everything super easily!

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  18. You two together just gives me all the feels. :) Love how confident he is looking.

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    1. thanks :D i'm thrilled with how good he feels, esp that it's a contagious feeling and helps me feel good too! still rough around the edges, but we'll figure it out!

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  19. Yay water! He looks like he's sort of actually enjoying that now!

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  20. Gung Ho is right!! Man, you are guys are really rocking together. Always inspiring!

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  21. So fun! He looks like a different horse! I love fall, and maybe, I have signed up for two events with Macy!

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  22. It looks like Charlie loves his job!

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  23. :D I love that he is just game for every kind of jump!

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  24. Awesome job! You two look great. We have the champs coming up so pumped that!

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