Wednesday, October 10, 2018

now boarding the struggle bus

I gotta say, if it weren't for Sunday's awesome hunter trials where we did the pairs and team classes, I might have walked away from this weekend feeling.... not great about things.

but first: we trot
For some reason, Charlie and I have been a little out of sync in our jumping lately. Luckily not so much the solid cross country stuff - that all seems fine. Just the arena work.

charlie isn't anybody's idea of a naturally talented dressage horse, but his trot is still light years ahead of where we started
The likeliest culprit is, obviously, yours truly. We've been working so hard on our dressage lately, but that's a sword that cuts both ways when I'm the one in the irons. The more I insist on being influential on the flat, the more naturally the horse becomes influenced by me over fences too. Right? Like isn't that the whole point of training?

i've always been a sucker for his canter, personally
But... The issue here is that I'm not always the most reliable pilot over fences. So it's not necessarily the greatest thing in the world to cultivate a feeling of reliance in the horse. Honestly, I'd much prefer the horse to be a bit of a packer. Which.... Let's be real, Charlie totally is.

ha. haha. but you knew the fails had to come sometime, right? look how mad he is at me lol....
And idk, I think my attitude going into this ride was not quite what it needed to be, too. I was thinking about keeping things low key, relaxed, laid back. Not really pushing for anything, just getting a couple easy reps over some fences ahead of the next day's fun outing.

even Riley dog is trying to figure out wtf is going on here lol
This attitude was further evidenced by deciding to ride Charlie in his hackamore, which I've noted on many occasions is not great for any sort of serious flat work. And so my warm up was as expected, quite low key. In my mind, this was on purpose and totally fine.

"ooh. fascinating." - charlie, probably
Realistically, tho, it was *not* actually fine haha. Like, at some point I'll learn that consistency really is key for horses. That I can't just act like contact and rhythm and balance and impulsion matter in 4 schooling rides out of 5, but that 5th schooling session becomes a gimme. Horses just don't think that deeply about it, they don't just flip on and off like that. Charlie will perform his best with clear consistent expectations.

this is what a 1,400lb behemoth looks like flinging himself over a 3' oxer with nothing but the grace of sweet baby jesus to help him out
So we warmed up like total space cadets, literally dragging our toes all across the arena stirring up lazy clouds of dust. Then when we started jumping, suddenly trainer P is taking me to task for letting Charlie get strung out, letting him kinda launch lurch over the fences instead of asking him to step up and push off from behind. She wanted to see me get him more balanced and moving to the base of the jump before rocking back to take off.

we never quite ironed out all the kinks, but it got better-ish. i can live with better-ish.
That's all well and fine and whatnot, but realistically with a horse like Charlie (and a rider like me, let's be real), you can't just manufacture that balance out of nowhere. Like.... Getting that feeling is basically the entire point of the warm up in the first place, right? So instead I ended up just kinda shutting Charlie's pace down and letting him get behind my leg. It *looked* like the compressed collected add stride, at least over the small warm up fences, right?

pictured: not dying over the out jump
But then the jumps suddenly went up 4 holes all at once and.... yea haha I got totally caught out with the backwards pace lacking impulsion. Whoops....

also not dying jumping into the treble
Poor Charlie. I think this ride was the first real time he's had an actual refusal in the arena. But... Well, you'll see it in the video. While a jumpable spot was right there if I had ridden him forward to it, I just.... didn't. And instead we got to a spot from which he legit could not jump. Ugh.

he's a saint guys. 1,000%.
As is my way, I sometimes need to get slapped upside the head to remember to do my job. And after that, Charlie and I mostly got back on the same page. Riding forward to the fences, plz Emma! Luckily this horse is incredibly generous and kept doing his best to jump the jumps!

phew, and made it out alive too!
The course itself isn't my favorite either. For some godforsaken reason it's still set up from the horse trial a week ago -- a course that didn't exactly do us any favors then either. Tho the triple was pretty fun I guess, at least after I stopped burying Charlie in it haha.... sigh.

yet another video example of "not our best"

In all seriousness tho, it really wasn't the worst lesson in the world. It bugs me to no end when I make stupid mistakes and Charlie pays the price. But... That's what it means to be an amateur rider sometimes. All I can do is just keep trying to be better, keep working. Which I'm doing.

yes sir. all of the pets. 
And until I somehow manage to get my shit back together again over the colorful sticks, I'm hereby deeming this "Horse Appreciation Month" lol.... Thanks Charlie for all that you do! Maybe we'll just stick to hunter trials and paper chases from here on out lol!!

26 comments:

  1. Charlie looks so pissed in the pic :) I’m used to seeing happy ears Charlie not pissed off mare Charlie LOL!!!

    I think you guys are doing awesome. I pee myself over 18” fences so watching you go over those jumps is inspiring.

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    1. Lol yea he can take his job very very seriously sometimes and doesn’t appreciate it when I mess him up!! He’s still a good boy tho ;)

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  2. Ick, we all have those rides some times! i hate making stupid mistakes too but at least you know what you can do better next time which is always a good thing. and Charlie is a good boy too.

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    1. lol right? like at first riding is hard so we work hard and try to get better and slowly things DO get better, and then subconsciously we grow complacent and maybe a little lax and then things start slowly getting .... not so better and then suddenly riding is hard again. and the cycle repeats and repeats!

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  3. Oh I SO feel this. Every time we jump, which is admittedly not often, my trainer is like "just because we're jumping doesn't mean he still doesn't need a good warmup just like you'd do for a Dressage ride!" and then sometimes we're not allowed to jump if we don't ever "get there" in the warmup. Poor horses for putting up with us!

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    1. ugh yea. i mean, the warm up matters, right? like it's one thing when we're heading out for a fun relaxing gallop across the country side over solid obstacles -- charlie doesn't need me to tell him that a solid log is ... solid haha. he can figure that out for himself! but these sticks that fall down? yea he knows that too, so apparently it just takes a little more work to encourage better efforts.... le sigh

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  4. Its hard to remember all the things all the time!

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    1. omg all of the things, so many things!!

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  5. Oh man, I feel this so much. Being 100% present and asking for 100% from myself and my horse, every ride, is REALLY REALLY HARD for me. And if I'm not, T is like "oh i can take a trot step into the w/c tx" or "i don't really have to halt square" and then it just sort of devolves from there. And my next ride is spent fixing it and I feel bad for getting after him because of my lack of accountability. Riding is hard, yo.

    Also being judged by your horse for your riding is kinda hilarious. T does it all the time and I swear his ears tell my trainer, "DID YOU SEE her lean forward??? DID YOU??? OMG i CANNOT WORK under these conditions!" Charlie's face in some of those pics is hilarious. What a good boy, even with all his opinions !

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    1. omg charlie judges the CRAP out of me haha! like it didn't used to be like this when he didn't really know what we were doing or why.... but now he's totally like, "Uh, yea emma you done fucked that up!" haha.....

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  6. I chuckled at 'nothing but the grace of sweet baby jesus' line. :)You will get this.

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    1. lol he's kinda a sleeper, ya know? like kinda lazy, a little bit of a lug.... but there's some SERIOUS latent athleticism in there when he needs it!!! haha...

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  7. Hey, things sometimes don't line up perfect - but you have got to be so proud of how good your big guy is doing! He's being so smart and careful. PLUS you made him that way. Major pats on back.

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    1. oh totally - don't get me wrong, i'm super proud of the big guy! bad rides are just kinda part of the process for sure.... tho that doesn't really make it any more fun to experience them (or write about them haha), but it is what it is

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  8. I've been there, haha. "I wanna do the fun stuff but can I just like... sit here and be kinda committed to riding but not totally?" You guys look great tho!!

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    1. ha it's always such a shock to be reminded that.... oh yea, i *can't* actually just sit here and pose. whoops!!

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  9. They put up with so much from us ammys right? Scarlet gives me that annoyed wtf are you doing over fences sometimes. It sucks and I feel so guilty for it. All we can do is improve each time we aim at a fence.

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    1. yup, basically! tho i think the horses will be able to suffer through it reasonably well enough - they've got a pretty good gig, after all!

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  10. Yup yup. We've all been there! I'm glad you are resisting the urge to be too terribly hard on yourself. I totally did NOT see a distance the other day and instead jumped up Rio's neck and almost fell off again. Being an Ammy is ROUGH ok?!? Way to pull it together and finish strong!!

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    1. ha ammies unite, right?? that's just the way it goes sometimes i guess!

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  11. I hear ya, I get so mad at myself for mistakes, I made a really dumb one the other day and I was so incensed with myself over it until I remembered to just A) own up to my mistake B) do better next time. THe mistake already happened and is now past.

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    1. yup i'm with ya there! that's also a huge reason why it was so nice to get right back out the next day to go to that hunter pace and have a blast. charlie clearly wasn't holding a grudge!

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  12. You are doing fantastic and I firmly believe actually riding to a jump is simply bullshit. lol, jk. Anyways, your ride through the triple second time was so good. This reminds me maybe I will stay max 2'9" for life.

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    1. ha agreed completely that the "riding" part is totally overrated. like, can't we just canter the horse and jump the fences?!? sigh.... tho also i totally don't believe your "max 2'9 4 lyfe" schtick haha. Shiraz is so keen, once she gets going i think they're all gonna start looking teeny tiny!

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  13. I think you're being too hard on yourself. Sometimes seeing a distance and doing something about seeing an off distance can be REALLY hard. Especially in a short amount of time. I still struggle with it. Stadium is my bug a boo too, so I feel your pain.

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    1. thanks - yea, tbh i'm really not too too hard on myself. it's just useful to write it all out like this sometimes. like, it's just the same lesson over and over again: an off distance isn't as big of a deal if you have a good canter. charlie wouldn't have had a refusal at that oxer if we had a better canter. but sometimes i.... just forget, i guess haha

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