Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Fall Fair Hill: Stadium

Thanks everyone for your kind words about our dressage yesterday! Sometimes I feel like I'm just gushing and gushing about this horse like an obsessed pre-teen over some boy band heart throb or something. Which like. Might be valid haha.

he's starting to look less lanky and more hunky these days, no?
photo courtesy of Megan Kiessling
But I do honestly take this sport and our training pretty seriously. We work hard at it. I invest so much into it - infinitely more than just time, money or energy. We're not perfect and that's 100% ok. But I do want to be the best we possibly can be. And it means a lot to me when the pieces start clicking together.

gosh i think he's just so cute tho
Which brings us to phase two of Fair Hill's September starter trials: Show jumping! This phase always inspired the most angst and trepidation when I was riding Isabel. Relatively easy and smooth stadium jumping rounds were not our forte.

getting a good shot over fence 1
photo courtesy of Megan Kiessling
It's funny bc I always swore Isabel was not a particularly complicated horse to jump. She just wanted a positive canter and steady, forward (but not flat!) pace. And a correct and quiet rider who could recite pi to the hundredth digit and solve for the mass of the Higgs Bosun. Nbd, right?

kinda awkward over 2, but no harm no foul
photo courtesy of Megan Kiessling
After bringing Charlie along from his most greenest of green introduction to jompies to where he is now - pretty damned confirmed at 2'6 - it occurs to me that, actually, Isabel was not an easy horse to jump. And compared to her, Charlie is downright point-n-shoot. I like it!!

this left bending line felt like old news to us after recent lessons!
photo courtesy of Megan Kiessling
Going into the jumping phases of this event, my mantra was: trust our training. Don't think too deeply about it. Don't get overly concerned. Trust the work and time we've put in, and trust that the horse is just gonna keep on jumping what I put in front of him the same as he always has.

tidy into the outside line
photo courtesy of Megan Kiessling
All the same, tho, I didn't quite like the stadium course upon first laying eyes on it. Two sets of bending lines, one that landed with a fairly severe roll back right hand turn past the warm up area to go up an outside line to another short approach for an oddly angled end jump. Plus that outside line walked in exactly 6.5 strides on the dot.

dis why we school the adds at home, kids!
photo courtesy of Megan Kiessling
I'd heard reports of issues with that #6 fence on the sharp angle after the outside line too - everything from lots of rails to spooky refusals. So the plan was to do a balanced 7 down the outside line that walked in 6.5 in order to ensure we landed well enough to prepare for the turn.

we see you, fence 6!
photo courtesy of Megan Kiessling
Per usual, I kept our warm up very brief. Fair Hill has about a mile of wooded path between stabling and the jump fields that's uphill for the whole second half. That's plenty sufficient for getting the blood pumping and muscles warmed and limbered, as far as I'm concerned.

uh, whoops.
photo courtesy of Megan Kiessling
So we were happy to stop and chat with some friends upon reaching the field before beginning to prepare for stadium. This was where Megan found us! Plus other friends who had already finished their rounds, and my parents, and actually the proprietor of the OTTB adoption agency where I got Charlie! She had come out to watch a few of her program's graduates strut their stuff at Fair Hill so I was excited for her to see Charlie go!

gosh but he was actually jumping pretty well!
photo courtesy of Megan Kiessling
After chatting for a few, we warmed up quickly with a little reminder that we still have our flat work in trot and canter, then a couple jump efforts. Trot the cross rail (x2 bc the first was a little silly lol); canter the vertical, canter the oxer. Easy Peasy. Then in for our round!

easy over the final fence. gooooood boy sir!
photo courtesy of Megan Kiessling
In the past at Fair Hill, Charlie has gotten a little agitated by the bigness of the field and had a strong draw toward warm up. With the way the course was designed I was marginally worried about that being a distraction from our ride. Luckily Charlie was alllll business once the bell rang.


Charlie cruised around basically foot perfect actually - finding our first jump nicely, reaching the second a little stilted but absolutely nailing the left bending turn to an oxer, complete with auto-change. This makes sense since it was basically an easier version of the line we had just practiced last week in a lesson lol.

Managed the tough roll back turn toward warm up without issue. Cruised up to the outside line in a conservative enough canter to make the add for seven a cake walk (again, something we have practiced a lot in more challenging distances while schooling).

He did end up tapping that #6 fence out of the cups with a hind leg anyway tho, which was unfortunate. But I don't think he made a mistake at the fence - honestly I think he was just tired and a little lazy. He actually tapped quite a few fences throughout the course but only the one fell.

Oh well, nbd, just keep on going through that bending line then a long swooping roll back to the final fence, then finished!

all the treats for sir after that round!
photo courtesy of Megan Kiessling
Like I said, the horse just makes it feel so easy sometimes. For instance, this round had the same hallmarks and mistakes I often had with Isabel: Charlie was a little bit behind my leg, and maybe a touch flat. Plus I felt a little loose in the tack and often behind the movement.

Some of the jumps felt a little sluggish almost - like Charlie didn't flow as well and easily over the jumps as he normally does. So everything felt like it was just that little bit more extra effort for an already tired horse.

so handsome tho <3
photo courtesy of Megan Kiessling
And yet the round itself looks pretty darn reasonable! Plenty to be happy about with it! Lots as always to address - most of all with my own riding habits. But I was quite happy with it as a representation of Charlie's jump training. It wasn't our best, but it was representative.

The rail was a disappointment because I knew it would knock us down from 2nd place after dressage. But I was also pretty zen. I mean, we knew that fence was causing problems so I made a plan that seemed likeliest to set Charlie up for success. And we executed the plan well (the plan being: get the add stride down the outside to ensure time for a balanced turn to the bogie fence). It just didn't work out. C'est la vie.

So going into cross country I had basically no pressure, but also a horse that was tired and maybe a little behind my leg. Details on that tomorrow!

35 comments:

  1. If Charlie is point and shoot it's because you trained him to be that. Well done! I love all the photos.

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    1. thanks - megan got some great shots! and yea i'm seriously workin hard to make charlie as easy as possible to ride lol, bc esp as the courses get more challenging i'm gonna make more and more mistakes, so i'll need him to be able to pick up my slack lol. also tho, that's the great thing about (most) thoroughbreds - they've got the forward thing figured out so you kinda just need to aim them in the right direction and they go!! haha

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  2. so glad you blog so i can see this stuff since i was like ten miles away down in dressage at the time of this :) HA! he looks great ANd it sounds like 6 was an issue for not just you and Brita etc! A LOT of people had issues with rails there. So just keep on trucking Charlie Plus that is a lot of leg (his) to get over each fence. I love how he is looking. He is going to rock next year. Can't wait to 'ride' along with you!! Congrats!!

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    1. ha yea, poor brita.... that really sucked for her! but i don't mind the rail for us. it happens. i was mostly just pleased that it wasn't the result of like, an overt mistake or anything like that. he didn't biff it. jumped it just fine. and for that, i'm grateful! definitely looking forward to more future outings with y'all too!!

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  3. Charlie has come such a long way from not knowing he even had legs to jump with! His training is really showing through.

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    1. omg it's almost like an alternate universe going back to look at those early videos of him trying to jump haha. i love how quickly he's figured it out tho! he's been so easy to train bc once he learns a thing it stays learned - i like it!

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  4. It always feels worse than it looks- awesome job! I'm so happy for you guys!

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    1. ha that's how it always was with isabel lol. the opposite is actually true for charlie. it'll feel like a million bucks then i look at the video and am like, "hrm we kinda look a mess!" but that's green horses, right? lol....

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  5. He looks great! This horse has made so much progress; he really looks like a trained jumping horse these days and I LOVE IT!! :D

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    1. thanks girl! i'm so pleased with him - he definitely *feels* like a trained jumping horse now too, esp at this level. it's amazing how different it feels on him vs like, say, isabel (with whom it took me a loonnnnnng time to get comfortable at 2'6)

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  6. It's funny how a new partnership gives us some perspective on an old one. I never realized how difficult my tough ones were until I sat on something simpler.

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  7. Bummer about the rail - but you guys are looking so polished and confident here! I love the "trust the training" mentality.

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    1. thanks! that little mantra actually works really well for me when it comes to staying calm and collecting in preparing! except i think i went too far in the opposite direction and ended up riding slightly *too* passively, esp out on xc. it's always a balance!

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  8. You should hush over Charlie like he is the heart throb boy band!!!! He is a heart throb and you have done such a great job with him :) He looks fabulous and I thought your jumping round looked great! Definitely looked like you belonged in that division so go team Charlie and Emma!!!

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    1. haha he kinda is a bit like a boy-bander, isn't he?? <3 lol.. thanks tho - he's definitely taking to this sport better than i could have hoped for!

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  9. He definitely gets more hunky with every picture you post. I love how steady and quiet he looks in the video. You guys are a great team! Can't wait to see how cross-country goes!

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    1. gosh i love me a hunky chunky ottb lol! and yea he's SUUUUUPER steady and quiet, i adore it! cross country coming up tomorrow!

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  10. That lead change tho!!

    He's such a steady eddie!

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    1. omg i feel so so so spoiled by his auto change. i've legit NEVER gotten to consistently ride a horse with auto changes. for whatever reasons, my top show horses and project horses in college just didn't have 'em, and while isabel had changes she only volunteered them somewhat infrequently. charlie's a pro at them tho!!

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    2. yep he just does them! it's great haha

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    3. it is also so neat to see how he's taken to this whole jumping thing. from where he started? you can't even recognize him!

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  11. He's really looking great! So accomplished and settled! It was an unfortunate rail but just like you said: you set it up and it just didn't work and that happens. It's horses lol. But he really looked fantastic, and compared to your lessons, I think Charlie may have been a bit lazy because it was too easy for him! lol Still, congrats!

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    1. ha yea he definitely felt like it was easy for him lol! the laziness was also in part bc the big guy was just plain tired. we really need to work on fitness!!

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  12. I'm loving how happy you are with him! B is very much like Izzy, and while I love her, I feel your pain with the tricky to get it just right jumping thing. So cool that your Charlie is easier, and nicely done on helping him and giving him the confidence to be that!

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    1. ugh yea i often hear similarities in how you describe B to my experiences with isabel. on the flat it can be so awesome to have such an easily influenced horse, but over fences.... a simpler equation can be nice sometimes! thankfully charlie seems to be the living embodiment of "simple" lol

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  13. He's like a totally different horse from 6 months ago! I've always heard that with the right horse the big jumps seem "easy". Sounds like Charlie will be one of those horses for you and that makes me very happy!

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    1. omg yea the same size jumps feel *totally different* between him and isabel lol and i have no hesitation in pointing charlie at something a smidge taller every now and then (see tomorrow for an example) whereas with isabel every single inch felt like it mattered lol. some of that is plain old bc charlie is so much taller.... but i think it's also a lot bc he's just so easy too. i like it!

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    1. and for that i'm grateful! call me crazy but i've always wanted an easy horse haha!

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  15. Nothing wrong with gushing! I feel like that's all a I have been doing too lol Good job on your round!

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    1. thanks! in some ways actually Indy and Charlie might be in kinda similar places right now. we *know* they can do the thing, that they're gonna be good horses -- now it's just a matter of going out there and making it happen! it's an exciting feeling!

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  16. I love the person who BOLTS through the arena while you're still riding to go get that rail. That was a really lovely, steady round. I would love to have that ride too!

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