Wednesday, January 2, 2019

"carry a bigger stride," they said

"It'll be fun," they said.

"You need to ride your horse more forward."

"Get the canter where you feel like, 'this is good,' then add moar."

the winter light makes for dark pictures, but i kinda love them anyway <3
Ha. Guys. Charlie has never been happier to hear directions like that. Ya don't need to ask him twice!!

starting off so innocently through the one stride grid
Our last jump lesson of 2018 was a good one. Fairly simplistic, honestly. Jumps weren't very big, nothing was very technical. But it was good. We hadn't really jumped since the Phillip Dutton Clinic, but Charlie came out ready to go anyway.

fun cross jump exercise! low height but high versatility!
If anything, I had to kick him forward a bit in our warm up. As I've previously written, most of our rides lately have revolved more around myself and my position and my delivery of the aids, rather than focusing on getting the maximum quality from Charlie every step.

That's all well and fine, and he hasn't necessarily back slid bc of that. But.... it did mean I needed to be a little extra convincing when he felt kinda blah about the heavy wet footing.

a little ambitious at the barrels lol
The jump warm up was quiet too - mostly just popping over a couple small fences, integrating some interesting bending lines to and from the unique cross jump exercises trainer P had set up. The cross jump consists of four individual jumps set up in a "+" shape, with the middle juncture supported by a box.

Each individual arm can be jumped, and you can also go across the center. We kept it pretty low bc it can be a lot to look at visually for a horse. It jumps very easily, tho, and Charlie was all over it instantly haha.

charlie had this jump figured out pretty quickly
Charlie basically rode through everything a bit like a school pony. Like he'd read the course map ahead of time. Just cantered on down, got all his strides, didn't look at anything, and was nicely steerable. If anything, it kinda felt like... maybe not really a challenging enough school for him.

dat's a gung ho TB face!
Once we put it all together into course form tho, Charlie really woke up. Clicked into gear haha. Was READY.

This is the aspect of Charlie that made me a little hesitant to go whole hog on the big takeaway from the PD clinic: carrying a bigger stride. In that lesson we were in heavy rain and a small ring doing a lot of turning exercises. It's good for me to know that in situations like that, I'll need to not let Charlie's stride shrink.

As a general rule, tho, practicing a longer stride also isn't really something we'll need to do very often. Bc, uh, it's right there. Always. Ready. To. Go.

jussssst barely squeezed that 4th stride in to the natural oxer!
Which Charlie demonstrated for us with a refreshing zeal as he whizzed around the turns, down the bending lines, galloping headlong for anything roughly resembling a jumpable obstacle haha.

to quote trainer P: "he's looking a little keen!"
It was useful too bc once everything was put together, almost all the turns were going Left, our weaker turning direction.

Tho you can see Charlie figured that out quickly in the video: while after our first line we had to do a simple change of lead for our left turn, after that he was full automatic haha.

haha yup. the quintessential TB: point 'n shoot
Trainer P had put some of the jumps up a little bit for our last course (except the cross jump), all right around N-ish height. Possibly still a little too small tho lol. Bc Charlie was attacking them.

trying to steer is surprisingly difficult when everything looks jumpable to your horse, no matter how bizarre the angle
Which is nice, right? Like, it's kinda a good feeling to see how easily he can skip over that barrel jump from a long distance. And while it's questionable whether I had enough control through some of the bending lines (like the above haha), I gotta admit it feels pretty great to have Charlie pulling to the fences, using his own engine.

whew, we made it to the right one tho!
He's a bit like an avalanche tho - just gets bigger and more powerful the longer he goes. The first bending line we were a little long, the next line we were a little snug, and the final line we left one out haha. Whoops....

i thought we jumped into this 3 stride line quite nicely
It's tricky for me as a rider to get the right feel for his canter tho, bc even when he's on a 14'+ stride it just feels so good. Like I thought we had settled really nicely for the last line of the course, and he jumped it quite well.

charlie, however, had other ideas
But one of my biggest difficulties with Charlie is that he doesn't always land in the same canter he jumps from, and he landed from that oxer and basically lunged at the cross jump haha.

charlie: "HOLD MY BEER I GOT THIS! "
emma: "...uh... no scope, no hope??"
And yea I definitely totally almost ate it.

Like, it's a funny jump. A lot of the horses gave it somewhat extreme efforts. Mostly bc they would wiggle and add on approach, and then pop over awkwardly at the last minute. Charlie tho? Yea. No fucks given. He got there in two enormous strides and was basically like, "Yup I gots this!"

so..... we tried that again lol, after a mini bolt around the ring...
Obviously we repeated that effort after I managed to get back in the tack and regroup Charlie, who was galloping around like a mad man haha. We jumped it again a little more quietly, held for the 3 (Charlie's grunts crack me up haha, it's legit harder for him to compress than to lengthen, obvi), and finished on that.

atta boy, chuck! you don't need to be quite so ambitious big man, i promise!
So kinda a silly ride at parts haha. But useful, I think. We hit all the points from the PD Clinic (carrying a bigger stride, maintaining that stride length while turning left in particular) and Charlie demonstrated that any weaknesses with those issues stem more from consistency in our schooling than they do from Charlie himself. Bc he's perfectly capable of going forward, thankyouverymuch lol.

It was an important reminder for me too tho, esp about the whole "not throwing the baby out with the bath water" based on feedback from a single clinic. PD was able to evaluate us on what he saw from that day, and provide feedback specifically related to that.

The takeaways are good, and I'm going to be thinking them over for a while, but they definitely do not mean we need to adopt them 100% at the expense of what we already know about Charlie outside of that singular clinic experience.

gosh i love him tho <3
Yes if I want to do Training at some point in the future (and I do), we'll have to be able to carry that bigger stride with perhaps a little more control and precision than we demonstrated in this particular lesson haha.

BUT -- Charlie already has all the pieces in there, and the work we've done in getting him to compress and collect is critical to continuing to build the strength and rideability he needs to be successful. So we'll keep going as we've been. And damn it's fun tho!


  1. you guys are looking amazing. And I am totally jealous that you can still be riding outside.

    1. thanks! aside from all the rain it's been super mild out so far this year - this time last year we were already cooped up in the indoor! i'm definitely grateful for it haha

  2. He just loffs those jompies tho lolol He was certainly keen! I'm sure tho you'd take that over sucking back! On more than one occasion Charlie just yelled HOLD MY BEER!!! haha! You two look great - a wonderful lesson to end 2018!

    1. haha thanks - he really does seem to love it, and is so FUN to ride when he's having fun too lol. i mean, sure, there's plenty to polish up, but that's just another part of the fun, right?

  3. He sure looks like he is having fun out there

  4. That's a super interesting exercise, glad you guys are having fun!

    1. You should try it - it’s super versatile and actually doesn’t take up a ton of space, plus is great for showing horses something visibly “impressive” that’s actually easy for them to conquer ;)

  5. Ah yeah Charles was definitely in CHARRRGGEEE haha

  6. Bigger stride, BIGGER JOMPIES!

    1. ha i think that's what he would like!!! ;)

  7. It's pretty amazing how quickly he has conquered jumping! Also, the bigger stride used to feel so uncomfortable to me on Georgie! Hopefully I'll be more confident on June!

    1. i'm sure it will - she's got such a nice canter!!! that's kinda the thing with charlie, that bigger stride is actually a little *too* comfortable haha


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