Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Charlie's 1st Novice: Show Jumping

Continuing with the theme of it being brutally hot out, basically every choice I made about our stadium round had more to do with horse/rider heat mgmt than anything else.

I had left Charlie hangin out with fellow big bay Birdie on Rachael's trailer while we all hit the courses to watch Brita's jumping rounds. Which were, again, can't stress this enough, incredible. I'm just so freakin proud of her and what she's been able to do with Bella.

looking ready as we'll ever be for show jumping. pc Austen Gage
Like, for those of you who have been around for a while, you might remember how wonderfully Brita's last lease horse Wick blossomed with her in the irons. It was crushing and demoralizing when she lost the lease on him, and she had to make a lot of hard choices about how to move forward with riding and eventing amid the fallout.

Then new lease horse Bella entered the picture - a small, young, sensitive and opinionated spitfire mare who couldn't possibly be any more different from Wick's classy, easy going, war horse OTTB nature.

they've got such a great rhythm on course! via GIPHY

And like, self doubt is real, ya know? I think any rider can relate to the feeling of wondering whether we just "got lucky" with any past successes, and worrying that maybe we wouldn't actually be able to reproduce them again under different circumstances.

But Brita is nothing if not a hard worker. She's brave and bold, and shows up to work every day ready to do what needs done. The amount of care and thoughtfulness she's poured into literally every aspect of Bella's life - from their never ending searches for the perfect bits, to optimizing Bella's supplements and nutrition, to building the trust necessary for Bella to develop into one of the best jumping horses on the farm.... It's just been incredible to watch. And so so so inspiring.

making this giant log into water (shared with M) look easy. hint: it ain't easy! via GIPHY

So even despite the blazing heat (true story - I actually carried an umbrella to protect me from the sun ahead of my 1pm ride times....) it meant the world for me to dart around the xc course catching snippets of Brita's T course. So so so worth it!

These past few months of riding alongside Brita as she's been preparing for T have had another unexpected benefit: It's made my own N move up look extremely doable in comparison. It helps that I've ridden at this level in the past too. And that Charlie's so casual about height.

as i got positioned here for video, i watched a rider slam into the trakehner and fall into the ditch, where she landed immediately crying out for help. it was scary and a stark reminder that.... these jumps take respect. luckily that rider was ok enough to climb out of the ditch and get into a gator for additional care. but it's safe to say my heart was in my throat as brita galloped down to it! they were fine tho <3 via GIPHY

Mostly tho, seeing a peer handily navigate a level that had always looked so daunting to me was reassuring. I knew Charlie and I would be fine for our rides.

And spoiler: we totally were.

warming up with rachael and birdie was nice! pc Austen Gage
So after Brita's rides (wherein we made a team effort to get Bella's tack pulled so she could be hosed and scraped immediately - she was very very very hot), Rachael and I got our horses pulled off the trailer and began preparing for our rides.

warm up oxer before heading down to the ring. pc Austen Gage
Heat management was going to be a big part of this. The horses got sponged and scraped right away, then Austen helped me out by holding Charlie under the shade of some trees to dry off while I got my stuff ready to tack up.

charlie knew what was up immediately! i like it! pc Austen Gage
Then we made a pit stop at one of the multiple hoses available onsite (thanks Loch Moy!) after I mounted to spray Charlie and Birdie down again.

some deeper distances but he was clever and clean after my mistake at jump 2. pc Austen Gage
Then off to warm up! The steward said she was taking riders as they were ready, so I wasted no time in getting down to business. With the heat I was basically 100% of the mindset that the quicker we could get through things, the better.

knowing we had to get out of this line in 5 helped me get charlie pushed up. pc GRC
So I immediately jogged Charlie a lap in each direction on a floppy rein, cantered half a lap, then trotted him at the cross rail. Cantered around to one vertical, changed directions and cantered the other larger (I suspect above N height) vertical. Charlie knocked that one pretty hard - which would usually be my preferred feeling for him to have going into the ring. But it seemed prudent to take a pass over the warm up oxer first. So we did that, then trotted over to the steward who ushered us down to the ring.

gosh i think he's the cutest tho! pc Austen Gage
The warm up was fine enough for a horse like Charlie who knows his job and is pretty reliable. But the focus on being quick about the warm up vs being very effective meant that I didn't really spend any time trying to put the horse together and get him very connected in the bridle.

a little tight out of the bending line but nbd. pc Austen Gage
Which meant that we kinda met the first few fences on a little bit of a half stride - clobbering jump 2 after a totally whiffed lead change (lol whoops). The line from jumps 3-4 went a little better bc I knew it had to be 5 strides and actually pushed the horse up to it. Again we found somewhat deep distances to the bending line, but it was nbd.

made easy work of the outside line in 6. pc GRC
The next outside line rode pretty well for us in an easy 6, and then Charlie cruised right on around to finish through the 2 stride in and out like the easiest thing in the world. Then poof! we were done!!

felt great going into the in and out. pc Austen Gage
It wasn't our prettiest round to date, tho at least it was relatively smooth. The height was a non factor, Charlie felt comfortable and like he knew what he was doing. And it honestly just felt like if I had worked a little harder as a rider - spent more time putting him together and getting him connected, the jumps would have been better.

what can i say but that the horse loves grids?? pc Austen Gage
Like, missing that lead change between 1 and 2.... Even as I tried for the flying change I *knew* that we should be doing a simple change instead. But.... whatevskis, right? The only thing in my head was "Onward!" and so onward we went, even tho it cost us a rail.

esp bc grids help him carry his own balance. pc Austen Gage
It was an avoidable error that cost us in the final placings, but also one I'd probably make again under similar circumstances lol. #noregrets! And at least Charlie learned something from it haha, considering he nailed his autochange coming out of the next line lol...

anybody remember the first ever pic i have of him in this stance?? #memories. pc Austen Gage
So we left the arena and stuck around to watch Rachael and Birdie come right after us in their own clean and clear round before Austen took advantage of another onsite hose to spray down both horses again before heading out to cross country warm up. That was much appreciated by the ponies whose initial confusion about being hosed while under saddle was quickly replaced by relief lol.

so proud that this horse can basically just go on and do the thing even when i'm not 100% there <3 pc GRC
Seriously tho - Austen was a life saving groom (thank you!!) in that respect and I felt much better about heading out to an almost all-uphill course knowing that Charlie would hopefully be a little more comfortable for the hosing.


And hint: he was totally fine and felt phenomenal through the course. Details tomorrow!!

31 comments:

  1. Having my own spitfire mar I can appreciate the work that Brita put in to making that look effortless. Congratulations!
    Charlie looks great too. Too bad about the rail but you guys looked smooth.

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    1. Thank you - smooth was definitely the objective on a day like this haha. And yea I can see a lot of similarities between Carmen and Bella - they’re not the same horse but they may need similar approaches from the rider. It’s a lot of work but is paying off big time for Brita!

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  2. Brita and Bella are my heroes. I'd have had my heart in my throat, too, watching their approach to that jump after a rider fall! Eeeek.

    Look at Charlie FLY! He looks so happy and confident out there. Well done, both of you.

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    1. I’m so proud of them it’s ridiculous. Like I get ready eyed just thinking about it. Plus obvi it’s great to have them around for that added punch of inspiration!! And thanks too - I’m so happy with Chuck <3

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  3. Novice ain't no thang for Sir Charles!! And yeah... Brita and Bella are freakin' BADASS!!!

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    1. Definitely ain’t no thang !! He still doesn’t really understand the whole game yet but felt a lot more keyed in to each moment this go round. Go figure the giant ass horse wanted something at least above his knees to jump!!

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  4. Y'all were badass bitches last weekend! Super happy for all of you! And very happy to help keep riders and horses cool and comfortable! ❤️

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    1. Thanks girl - we are all extremely appreciative!! So great having you and Lyra around on show day!!!!

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  5. Brita makes it look effortless out there which is hard to do. What a great partnership she has built!

    Charlie looks relaxed happy and forward to the jumps. He sure has figured this game out!

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    1. Thanks I really couldn’t be happier with how Charlie just rolled on thru this stadium. Like yea I personally could have been better but I’m not too worried about that lol. And yea Brita has worked so freakin hard on her partnership with Bella and it makes me so happy to see them doing so well!!

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  6. Charlie makes the jumps look so tiny! Great job to Brita on a successful T move up as well!

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    1. omggggggg i know, right???? like, yea most of them are closer to 2'9 than 2'11, and the spreads were anemic in my humble opinion.... but they're still true N fences and charlie makes them look like BN at best!! i'd say it's the curse of a giant horse, except... .uh.... they look just as small from the saddle and ride even smaller so, yea. not gonna complain!! lol

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  7. Congrats to both of you! Looking wonderful. I can't believe how much Charlie has matured in the last year!

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    1. thanks! it's pretty wild how quickly he has gotten the hang of things! definitely one of the advantages to a great big giant OTTB who already has one successful career under his belt lol!

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  8. Whatevskis!! lol, I love it. Congrats for surviving the heat and doing great regardless! Om of all the g's: Bella's knees <3

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    1. lol thanks!!! like part of me wishes i had ridden better but honestly i'm pretty freakin satisfied with how it went lol! and isn't Bella something else??? what a mare!

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  9. omg charles!!! he looks great!! and he tries so hard <3

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    1. he's seriously such a good boy! like, as soon as we stepped into the stadium ring, he broke immediately up to trot. like, ideally i would prefer for him to wait for me, but at the same time it felt exactly like he was saying "OOOH i know what we do here!!" - not blasting off, not jigging, not running away or whatever. just like, "ok let's go do this!" which like, cool buddy, let's!

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  10. Look at Charlie gooooo!!!! So glad you had such a good ride! So happy for you two. And Bella is such an awesome mare! It's been great to follow along with Brita through you. Super congrats to all of you! (Rachael included lol)

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    1. thanks!! it was definitely buckets of fun (and sweat lol) for everyone involved!!! so excited to get the whole team out there again!

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  11. yay to Brita and Rachael both on their outstanding rides. And it sure does look like it was hot. Good thing photographer/groom extraordinaire was there to help (LOL Austen)! And Charlie looks great. Ugh i get fuzzy just thinking about jumping in that heat. LOL

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    1. ha thank you! and yes it's always so so so wonderful to have austen on hand - she's extremely helpful!! hopefully next time won't be quite so warm tho!

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  12. The part I love most about this is that you (I mean you-you, not you-and-Charlie-you) are absolutely ATTACKING those fences. He's in front of your leg, your body is up, and you are in GO MODE. There's no indecisiveness or hesitation here, just confidence, focus, and the knowledge that you're gonna git-er-done and it's gonna be awesome. EEEEE I LOVE THIS SO MUCH!!! <3 <3 <3

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    1. thanks! honestly it felt really good, even with the little mistakes. we've been schooling much higher at home and the horse just feels like a million bucks. it's so easy to believe in him, and easy to just keep riding him to the fences even when things aren't 100% perfect. he's just such a good boy <3

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  13. Lovely photos! You and Charlie seriously look SO good together-those smiles and happy ears make me oh so glad :)

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    1. aw thanks <3 it feels like a real partnership and i love every second of it!

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  14. Wow Brita and Bella look amazing out on course! And so do you and Charlie. You guys have sure done the hard yards, well done. So happy for you

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    1. thank you!! i was so so so happy for brita and bella, and rachael and birdie (even tho i don't have as many pictures!). such a great day when everyone has fun and does well!!

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  15. Way to go Emma and Charlie!! That was a super solid round, even with the small errors. Way to beat the heat and ride so well! Congrats!!!

    <3 Kelly @ HunkyHano

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    1. thanks!! the horse just feels like he understands and knows what's up these days - definitely makes it easier when i'm kinda making mistakes!

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  16. What an awesome round! Height is def not Charlie's problem, hah -- he makes it look easy!

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