Monday, February 5, 2018

fabulous february

Lesson mate Brita was bound and determined this weekend that we'd get to ride outside for our weekly jump lesson with trainer P. I was... honestly pretty resigned to the reality that the ground would be frozen and we'd be stuck inside yet again. Happily, I was proven wrong!

this horse is just my favorite <3
And the horses were definitely SO HAPPY to be in the big outdoor! Charlie continued his trend of being very respectful of the curb rein, and very rideable and adjustable (at least, relatively speaking lol), so I was able to reward him with little "victory gallops" down the long side of the arena after each of our jump turns.

the lighting and shadows from this ride were strongly reminiscent of one of my all time favorite lessons ever, almost exactly two years ago
Mostly tho, it was a very straight forward set of exercises. There were five of us in the group, and while basically all of us have been able to stay in some semblance of regular work over the winter.... It's still been a bit hit or miss.

With fluctuating temperatures and lots of time spent indoors, and the horses not moving around much in turnout bc of frozen ground.... It all basically amounted to a lesson for letting the horses have a little fun and ease back into it, without anything super challenging or sticky.

makes for a lot of dark pictures, but i don't care. charlie felt like a million bucks
Which I was fine with. We kept our warm up focused on all things "loose" and "supple" and "soft" since I hadn't gotten to ride as much this past week as I would have liked. Charlie felt fine tho.

so we put the jumps up a little bit
And he continued to feel fine as we started in on jumping - first doing a little figure 8 over each individual jump from the outside line, then putting it together for the whole line in either a going 4 for trotting in or an easy 4 for cantering in (it measured around 59' I think).

i think charlie likes 'em a lil bigger! 
Charlie was just spot on. I swear, all our grid work lately has made it so freakin easy for him to find his jumps out of stride. Like, he's always had a pretty good eye (can't say the same for his rider tho lol...) but it's just.... He's really figuring it out.

So when trainer P popped the jumps up to around 3'+ for Brita and Bella, then asked if anyone else wanted a shot.... I surprised myself by raising my hand haha. Tho we did drop it a little bit to around 2'9. Not that Charlie can't do 3', we just haven't quite gotten there yet. In time, in time.

oh also, slightly unrelated: Teresa S wrote "a curvy girl's guide to breeches" a little while back and had lots of good things to say about the Romfh Champions. it all sounded good enough that i went ahead and ordered a pair myself. first impressions? i really like them! great recommendation, T!
I was happy enough as it is to see a little more height. And to see Charlie totally nonchalant about the whole thing. He either didn't notice, or didn't care. Probably both. I cared a little bit and got a little excited and rushed down the line, but it didn't matter. We just came back around to repeat it a few times to smooth it out.

and ok, i know we said we'd chill on grids for a little while.... but trainer P loves her one strides. charlie honestly seems to like them too - i think it was the bounces last week that deflated him a little bit
Then, turns out, trainer P set up yet another grid haha. So much for my promise to Charlie to lay off the grids for a while. Tho, in fairness, trainers P and K have pretty different styles when it comes to grid construction.

Trainer K incorporates a lot of different elements in hers, like bounce poles and risers and V poles etc. Definitely good exercises, but bounces just aren't very forgiving when the horse makes a mistake. Trainer P uses almost exclusively one stride distances, usually mostly oxers, set at a compressed distance. Charlie has a LOT more practice with this style and seems to enjoy the one stride grids more.

he was esp happy bc we bumped the height a little bit with these too
Actually, if anything, it almost felt like he was out for redemption when I aimed him at the grid. Like he knew our last practice wasn't really as good as it could have been, and wanted to prove that he had figured it out. For instance, he kept bouncing the trot pole at the beginning of the grid (you can totally see it in the video and it's adorable).

clever pony <3
Then just cruised right on through the whole thing as it was built up from just a single one stride to four jumps in a row.  Set at one-to-one-to-two. The two was a little tight for us - well, actually it was all a little tight distance-wise - but Charlie didn't mind.

this particular jump was riiiiiight around 2'10ish. easy peasy, good boy.
We repeated a few times to try and get all the pieces working together smoothly: helping Charlie stay sharp and keen off the ground by remembering to sit up and lift my hands between jumps; and meanwhile trying to stop our slight left hand drift lol.

this one was either the same size or perhaps a smidge taller. feels great.
Honestly tho? Mostly we pretty much just cruised. These exercises are familiar enough to Charlie that he's got a good sense for figuring it out. Enough so that I was really happy we could bump them up a bit for the first time really since Charlie came back from surgery, and it was nbd.


I talked a little bit with trainer P about my goals for kicking off the season and first half of the year, and how I see things unfolding. She seemed pretty on board with my ideas, which is always nice. And perhaps if this weather ever lightens up we can start digging in on refining our ride if I want to be realistic about moving up.

the big guy feels like he's hitting his stride!
All in time tho. It's all ahead of us. It's still just early February, after all. Charlie just feels like he's in a really good place right now. Not only did he fully bounce back from surgery, but he's actually arguably feeling better now than he ever has before. Better than ever.

It certainly won't always be like this, but I'm enjoying it for now! And enjoying the side effect of a good feeling horse: that *I'm* feeling good too, and feeling way more comfortable riding this horse on an open, forward canter. And I legit cannot wait to test that feeling out on some real cross country! We'll settle for mini pretend victory gallops around the arena for now, tho ;)

25 comments:

  1. Daaaanng y'all! You're looking AMAZING. I think he likes them bigger, too. =)

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    1. Yea he definitely does! And he's so fun to ride when he's having fun lol

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  2. How awesome! He looks so good!! I love those first rides outside the confines of tiny indoors.

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    1. me too - esp bc the horse is all tuned up to tight turns and steering in small spaces, but then can finally open back up again outside!

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  3. oh that looks like so much fun!

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    1. now if only the season would just stay nice so we can keep going back outside!!

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  5. He looks fantastic!! It didn't take him long to figure out this whole jumping thing, did it? What a difference from when you first got him! I love the picture that has the caption "clever pony" you both look happy and focused!

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    1. lol i actually just went back and rewatched a bunch of our earliest jumping videos haha. he was SO AWKWARD getting started, and i really had a hard time imagining him being like.... a REAL jumping horse. and now it's like a switch has flipped!

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  6. He and you look GREAT! I love seeing sun too :) So cool. What a great lesson!! YAY!

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    1. if only all day every day could be super fun jump lessons haha ;)

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  7. I am jealous of your jump lesson! Our footing in the frozen north isn't nearly ready for this kind of stuff.

    I need to find an indoor so I can do more gymnastics, lol.

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    1. the indoor has definitely been our saving grace this season. for as much as i complain about how small it is, we'd be in a very different place without the ability to in regular work!

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  8. Wow you guys look fantastic! Yay for more height, and for getting to ride outside!

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    1. it's always such a rush to be able to ride outside again, esp since we've only really been able to jump outdoors a handful of times since charlie's surgery!

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  9. You two look so fantastic! That's so exciting you were able to raise the height! Charlie treating that pole like a bounce is definitely ADORABLE. He's really understanding utilizing his body and you two are such a good team. I wish there was more video!

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    1. thanks - he's so goofy when he tries to figure this stuff out lol. hopefully we'll have more video too soon!

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  10. His canter is getting so much better!!! And look at that height?! So awesome.

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