Wednesday, December 6, 2017

keeping the peace

It was super refreshing and reassuring to finally play with Charlie over jumps again. As you might imagine, I had all sorts of worries that maybe he forgot how, or I forgot. And that we'd have to start all over again. Or, worse, that he wouldn't be sound.

happy ponies on a foggy balmy weekend morning in their giant pasture
Luckily on all fronts, those worries seem totally unfounded. The horse was happy to jump again. And while we kept the ride conservative, it gave me every sense that we'd be skipping back along to picking up where we left off last September. Phew!

perhaps you noticed from those jumping pictures that charlie was wearing new boots - these pretty Kentucky Solimbra D30 cross country boots that i picked up for my birthday. these boots come as one-size-fits-all. 
The way my own sense of confidence and ability operates, it's really important that I keep some semblance of routine in order to stay (relatively) sharp. So all these disruptions in my riding habit - like taking months off for my horse to have surgery, blargh, or his kick before that, or the abscess before that - always freak me out a little bit that I'll somehow lose whatever ground I had managed to gain in the previous months.

i saw them on a number of pro's horses while jump judging at loch moy way back in october and was drawn to the slightly unconventional look, and obvi the fact that they're brown lol
Not sure if that's rational or not, or a totally normal response. Who knows. Only time will tell if we can settle right back into the same groove from last summer. Which, if you'll remember, Charlie was seriously beginning to jump like a seasoned professional. And while I was already growing skeptical that we would actually reach my goal of Novice by November, we still felt sosoclose.

the front boots are significantly shorter than the hinds, but go on quite easily and have some serious reinforcement overtop the D30 shock absorbing putty. also disregard charlie's slightly askew stance, he's got one toe off the mat - i swear his feet aren't that asymmetrical lol!
So now that we've dipped our toes into the waters of flying-at-rapid-speeds-over-small-fences, and it turned out pretty alright, I feel more relaxed again. It's easier for me to trust the gradual return to work. Trust that the horse is what I know him to be, and that I'm still the same rider I know I can be.

the canvas type exterior is unusual compared to current boot trends, tho the boot interior looks a little more standard with a breathable, perforated lining (shoulda taken a pic, sorry!).
Naturally I've still got all sorts of fun ideas and plans that we hope to squeeze while we can. Including repeating a couple of Charlie's earliest outings from last fall and winter -- except this time with a horse and rider more prepared to actually do stuff during said outings lol.

i haven't tested them through water yet - but they already passed one big test: no rubbing or turning! bingo!
But I'm also not really feeling any sort of rush or pressure to make those things happen. Now that Charlie can jump again it's easier to keep enough variety in his regular workload such that we can keep schooling the important stuff without him begging too pitifully for a merciful end lol.

another nice weekend, another nice hack out
But even so, he's still kinda an emotionally sensitive horse and prone to sourness. So even tho a bright sunny pleasant Sunday afternoon could theoretically be the perfect day for taking advantage of the full dressage court (as opposed to the dimly lit 30m center with dark corners).... Even tho that's mighty tempting, hacking out with barn mates was still the obvious choice.

It was great too bc Charlie and Punky are field mates and lesson mates - so they know each other pretty well and seem to get along. Both seemed quite happy with the other's company, even as Charlie can be a little annoying about personal space on the trail. He seems to see every trail mate as a potential lead pony from the track, and wants to be right up along side them lol.

different lesson mate showed me around some different trails. not that you'd notice with the current fall leaf-covered conditions lol
Plus we covered some new ground, always a bonus. It all basically looks the same these days, but I'm slowly slowly putting together a mental map of the wooded property around our farm. And there are, of course, plenty more opportunities to keep getting out there to really commit those trails to memory lol.

In the meantime tho, we are still left with dark evenings confining us to the lit areas. Both outdoor rings (jump and dressage) have dim lights, and the small indoor is the best lit. The dressage ring is ok enough for our purposes, tho for some reason Charlie's gate sour issues are amplified in the dark. We've been dealing with that a lot lately. It's not so bad in the indoor, but the indoor is smaller and can be more crowded so.... ya know.... trade off.

we found a fountain tho!
So far this week, the horse has been impressing me tho. Relatively speaking. We have some rough starts, including any time we restart after a break. But then it's like a flip switches and he just gets right on along with it.

And while I've been focused more on forward and straightness instead of roundness, all that work we did in the early phases of rehab does seem to be paying off, and Charlie is kinda more naturally putting himself in a nice shape and carriage once we actually wade our way through all those tar pits.

and a soybean field lol
Transition work seems to be the key to unlocking his forward. I can't be too fussy with them tho - not too picky on what they look like. Just trot to walk, one step walk, then right back to trot again. Usually doing transitions in the same places, taking advantage of Charlie's anticipation so he figures out the game more quickly. Everything is easier when Charlie knows exactly what I want. Anyway I can make it more clear to him, more obvious, will help.

then it's back to dark night time riding. in the rain too bc i'm dumb and didn't think about needing to dry him off after.... but also didn't feel like pulling out my ladder to grab my full size cooler from storage lol.... 
He even graduated to doing more canter transitions and changes of bend - and esp those where he needs to load that right hind leg more. Typically that's when the sass monster comes out bc he doesn't want to use that leg. But... ya know. Repetition has helped.

As has really only focusing on the transition. Once he picks up the left lead, I praise excessively and bring him back to trot about 5 strides later. So he's learned to trust that I'm not gonna ride that leg down into the ground - I just need him to try, a little bit. So he tries. And hopefully all will continue to be better and better. Theoretically lol.

But. Ya know. For now, I'm just really relieved to know that.... yea things ARE getting better and we ARE getting back to normal. Everything else will fall into place in time.

35 comments:

  1. Such a wonderful and positive update! It's awesome to hear he's doing so well and you're both getting back into your groove.

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  2. i really really like those boots - let me know how they do in water!

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    1. will do! my trainer was immediately intrigued by them when i showed up to the lesson haha - had to take one off and fully investigate. they're different but i think i like them!

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  3. It's hard to start back up after time off and kinda have to relive the "old stuff" you have gone through before, but it sounds like Charlie retained a lot of his previous schooling and training. Slowly but surely things will be back to normal!! So exciting!

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    1. yup exactly. and ultimately our approach to training has been to show charlie how to learn, how to understand the process, vs teaching him individual "tricks." so theoretically once he really knows how to learn and be trained, anything is possible. theoretically lol

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  4. I know that "how much did we lose" game a little too well! Sounds like you guys are gonna be back where you were in no time though!

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    1. ugh yea it's nobody's favorite game, that's for sure! only way through is one step at a time tho!

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  5. Sounds like all good stuff! Glad to see you two back in action (jompies hooray)

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    1. feels good ;) now we just have to put it all together into something consistent. maybe. lol

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  6. I'm soooo glad to see you two in action again! It's been a long recovery period. But you guys looked so good jumping the other day, and I know things will fall into place :D

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    1. thanks i'm finally starting to believe it could actually be true!

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  7. Glad you’re back in action!

    I had a few friends with the KY boots but they didn’t fit properly or protect the right areas so both ended up returning them. Bummer bc the brown is pretty. Annie over reaches so bad I am always paranoid she’s going to grab basically her entire front so I always try to go for longer/talker boots on her. Glad they aren’t irritating Mr sensitive though!

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    1. yea the one-size-fits-all thing definitely complicates fit options, and the height differential between front and back is kinda odd. luckily these boots cover all the important spots for chuckles -- he's definitely *not* at risk for over reaching to the backs of his knees LOL

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  8. Slow sucks for rehab. But it sounds like you guys are making your way back into a habit. Just keep with that positive attitude and you will make it!

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    1. thankfully there's very little doubt of that!

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  9. Isn't it amazing how well they retain things, considering how STUPID horses are in so many other regards? LOL

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    1. lol well in fairness, charlie absolutely 100% legitimately forgot how to fucking TROT the first time we were allowed to do so in rehab. so.... ya know.... let's not give him too much credit here!

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  10. Brown boots! Whoa they are large in back. Lol. Looking nice on the Charles, though! Now you both have brown boots. So stylish. ;)

    Love your approach to the tough canter lead. I need a little angel on my shoulder slapping me in the face when I put on too much pressure in such moments.

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    1. ugh it's so tough to pick those moments, tho. with charlie, i'm finding it useful to break things into pieces. before we can work on the canter, we have to achieve canter. which means a transition. and it's usually the first transition that's the hardest (tho if i do too many in a row he will also rebel). so i find that i might spend a little bit in trot with the occasional transition that gets praised simply for existing before returning to trot. then once the transition is a little more tuned up, we can actually focus more on the canter itself. theoretically tho haha. every day can be a little different!

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  11. I'm envious of your beautiful giant pastures and hacking..we really don't have anything like that here.

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    1. we're certainly very lucky! not every farm around here has the same sort of pastures (many have large fields but these are definitely bigger than most) - but this is a very very old property that hasn't been chopped up or developed or anything. thus the access to the small woods too. it's not very close to home for me but so far feels worth it!

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  12. I think you are so wise to not drill. A sour brain is counter productive.

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    1. it's a tricky balance with charlie bc he does really really well with repetition - but only to a point. then he resents being asked the same questions again and again.

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  13. Rehab always takes longer than I want it to.

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  14. Glad everything is moving along nicely

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  15. Hooray! You guys will be back in no time!

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  16. So relieved right along with you that he is returning to work happy and sound!

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    1. yea seriously! still working on that "happy" part but i feel optimistic!

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  17. I'm jealous of your outdoor lit arenas. But then remembered we don't have them because snow. So we all cram into the indoor arena. And I feel your pain..

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    1. ugh yea. the snow and frozen ground isn't quite as persistent here as it is where you are, but it's still a major issue. so for that reason i'm grateful for the indoor! i just wish it was bigger than 20x40m lol...

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  18. Yay for progress! I always find coming back from a break to be hard too. I'm glad you're not letting it bring you down. Must be really awesome having so many trail to hack around on, I'm super jealous! Also love those new boots, they looks really comfy and protective.

    <3 Kelly @ HunkyHano

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