Tuesday, February 5, 2019

collecting those clumsy clodhoppers

I bet you woke up this morning thinking, "Hm ya know I'd really love to see approximately 8,000 variations of Charlie trotting today!" Lucky for you, that's exactly what I got!

candid shots are my favorite <3
A warm front moved in over the weekend, but after so many days of temperatures solidly below freezing, the indoor footing was apparently still frozen by Saturday morning. So Trainer P decided all her lessons would do cavaletti work instead of jumps. Fine by me!

follow the leader on a serpentine!
Obvi I always like jumping. And these days almost all of my jumping is done in lessons anyway. So part of me was kinda sad to not get our weekly fix. But nbd, pole work is so so valuable. And maybe I'll be able to schedule a makeup lesson anyway, we'll see.

more follow the leader! charlie had to be the caboose bc sometimes charlie #smashies lol
The exercise consisted of ground poles set all the way up center line. Some of them where sat atop other poles that acted sorta like train tracks, raising the poles up for more height. This had the secondary advantage of giving us options across the center line in addition to going up the center line.

d'aww, charlie do da trot!
We started out with the horses all kinda in a line, catching the cross poles (sets of two) on sweeping loops and serpentines. Trainer P wanted us all going in a line, saying that the horses would kinda naturally all settle into the same rhythm.

four off the floor!!!
Tho we put the short little pony who really had to keep motoring in the lead, and made Charlie be the caboose. Bc... uh. Well. Charlie isn't exactly known for being the most careful horse in the world haha. And considering his high likelihood for smashing everything to bits, it made sense to not make anyone have to follow us lol.

side benefit: practicing those center line turns!
I think the poles were all set right around 4' apart. Kinda a tough situation to have to set poles for both the pony AND Charlie, but it worked out. The pony had to really focus on a big strong forward trot, and Charlie had to work on his little compressed (but active!) collected trot.

both directions bc #symmetry, yo
I wrote a little while ago that this is now something that officially Charlie can *do.* We've been working on it for a while, but I can finally say that Charlie can be adjustable within his trot, and now has roughly three distinct gears.

complete with plenty of canine supervision
The difficulty comes in keeping his hind end pushing forward, getting him to really lift and come over his back. Rather than, ya know, just kinda slowing down to a sputtering shuffling jog.

more center line practice!
So the poles were really really useful for helping him understand where he had to be. The poles especially tested his balance too. It's one thing to hold it together for 3 or 4 poles, and another to stay steady for a distance twice as long.

ha he's such an eager beaver
While obviously we clobbered all the poles a few times (in the video lol), I was pleased that we never had a real serious "oh shit!" moment haha, even when all the poles eventually ended up raised on lifts.

werk werk werk werk werk that booty!
Also gratifying was that Charlie just... kept on chuggin. We did a LOT of repetitions and spent a LOT of time on this exercise. Thus, ya know, all the pictures haha. And it's tiring - this is hard gymnastic weight lifting type work for the horses, right?

really figuring it out by the end, using his whole body!
But even when he started to get a little tired and sweaty, he kept trying harder and harder, kept trying to get it right. I LOVE that he's turning into such a trier!

sproing!!
It's useful for me to see the footage too, all captured by Sarah's friend S who is new in town and needed a pony fix. True story: she actually hopped on Charlie to start getting him warmed up for the lesson, and he was such a good boy for her! He's definitely a nice big dose of horsey medicine for anyone who needs it lol <3

he's such a good egg tho
I'm especially grateful bc I really don't get a lot of video of our flat work. It's one thing when we're all taking turns jumping to find somebody willing to grab video, but flat work is so much harder. Everyone's always just kinda off doing their thing. So usually the only dressage video clips I get are from shows.

i love his little tail swooshes 
Which is still useful, right? But I feel like I learn so much from the videos, both in picking myself apart (omfg Emma shorten your mother fucking reins for the love of all things holy....) but also in understanding where Charlie is in his training. Getting a stronger visual to connect to the feelings I have in the saddle.

(recommended with sound haha)

And? Honestly?? I'm really happy with where Charlie is right now. I know I'm biased, but he just seems so much more supple and elastic (all relative terms here, guys) compared to where we started. He's developing such a nice way of carrying himself, and actually getting hints of what seems like a very pleasant cadence.

Tho yea, I mean, we still do an awful lot of shuffling and kick up a fair amount of dust. But you know what I mean haha. It's also useful to pick out some issues that still need more work: like Charlie bracing over his top line (particularly right in front of his wither at the base of his neck), and me riding with too-long reins and a collapsing torso.

"oh man, i'm kinda tired now!"
It's all good stuff tho. All going in the right direction. And it's reassuring that what I'm feeling isn't actually all that different from what it looks like from the ground.

There's likely to be more cavaletti in our near future too, with plans for an upcoming clinic (eeeee! yay!!), but hopefully we'll be able to fit in some jompies in the meantime too ;)

36 comments:

  1. That exercise is really cool. Enough nuances to keep the horses engaged in the activity while not being so physically strenuous to require a lot of breaks so you can really work through it. Your trainer has the best exercises.

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    1. She really does lol. Something like this is great to do with a trainer too or at least a ground person since Charlie kept kicking all the poles around lol....

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  2. Aw, what a good boy! Looking so good.

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  3. What a good boy he is! I love trot poles like that...keeps the horse and rider's minds busy. My old coach used to call those lessons "pick up sticks" and it was a challenge to see whether it was me wrecking everything, or her moving stuff around to keep making it more difficult. lol Also a good idea/exercise for me as a nervous rider in an indoor - I can focus on the patterns/poles and not worry about everything else.

    Fun fact: western trail horses have jog poles set at 3ft!

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    1. Omgosh so I guess I can strike western trail horse off the list of jobs for Charlie to try if this whole eventing thing doesn’t work lol - I think he would lay down and die if I tried to make him do a 3’ distance down those lines lol! Maybe one day haha.

      And yea agreed completely on exercises like these being so great for just focusing on the pattern and not worrying about the rest

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  4. I had a real chuckle at charles having to be the caboose bc he goes smashie.

    Pole work is so great, I bet he was reaaaal tired the next day.

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    1. omg haha, he has NO RESPECT for these poles! esp after he learned that the poles raised on top of others slid more easily....

      and actually, he really wasn't as tired as i expected the next day! like, definitely felt like his muscles weren't very fresh, but honestly better than i would have guessed. gotta love those TBs retaining fitness and muscle :D

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  5. Pole work is HARD. Charlie looks very tired in the last picture. lol. You can hear how crunchy the indoor is in the video.

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    1. ha, so hard tho!! he was a good boy tho and i think felt like he understood the exercise by the end. actually the footing was totally thawed by the time our lesson started, it would have been fine to jump (temps started rising dramatically saturday morning) but the poles were already set up so we just rolled with it!

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  6. Remus would have to go behind too as he is too king of crashing :) Charlie is really looking good though he has some good trots going on!

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    1. ha and now i have this mental image of charlie and Remus trying to outdo each other in who can crash through the poles louder faster and with the most enthusiasm haha.....

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  7. This is a great exercise! It's a bummer to miss jumping, but there's always so much to learn.

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    1. agreed completely. there's so many benefits to this type of work. people love saying how dressage improves jumping, but i've found that jumping and pole work actually really has helped charlie understand dressage. bc it changes the subject from me picking on him, to him understanding that he physically has to adjust his body in a certain way to accomplish the obstacles. he retains those lessons so well, too!

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  8. Love this! Trot poles are hard for me because P gets frustrated if he hits them and has (more than once) just jumped them so I tend to ride defensively through them. Seeing the pony go and then C was hilarious but he really made it work!

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    1. ha yea, charlie's a big fan of literally skipping over the poles or trantering his way through.... practice practice practice tho, i guess. and yea poor pony had to work his butt off!! for the last few runs when all the poles were put on risers, the pony waited to the end so trainer P could shorten the distances a little for him lol

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  9. That's awesome you were able to get so much media of your flat ride! I love groundpole/cavalletti days for this exact reason, it helps them learn regulation without kicking or pulling and about paying attention to where their feet go! Which can be historically hard for big dinosaur horses!

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    1. lol yea historically these types of exercises haven't exactly been kind to charlie lol.... but yea agreed completely on the value of letting the poles do the talking instead of me trying to pick on the horse. definitely helps him understand better!

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  10. I wanted those 9000 trot photos of Charlie so thank you! :D Who wouldn't want 9000 Chuckles photos?!

    This is going to sound kind of stupid but I've never seen cavaletti set up like that! It has always been the traditional X-raised poles vs stuffing a pole underneath. GENIUS tho. I'll have to tuck that tidbit away

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    1. ha agreed completely re: the pictures ;) and yea using poles as risers worked really well! esp if you have standard 12' poles, that can make it a lot easier to make sure you're spacing your poles correctly (if you do a 4' distance, than that's three cavaletti spread across a single 12' pole).

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  11. What a great exercise! Charlie is really getting a nice swinging trot.

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    1. thanks!! i was honestly kinda surprised (in a good way!) when i saw the video! homeboy is growing up ;)

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  12. Again, your trainer with the awesome exercises! This one looks right up my alley- it would be so good for June. Georgie would have clobbered all the poles. Mare just doesn't care. lol

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    1. ha yea, charlie agrees that the poles aren't very impressive!! it's fun tho - you should definitely do it with June!! i bet she'd look so freakin fancy :D

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  13. Never gets tired of Charlie pictures <3

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  14. That sounds like the perfect winter activity!

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    1. It was! It’s the kinda thing that is easy to skip bc it’s a pain to set up and not as sexy as jumping anyway, but it’s so valuable !

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  15. Your trainer has so many great exercises! Charlie looks fab

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    1. Ha I’m stuck to this trainer like glue ;)

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  16. Good boy Charlie!

    I think he looks wonderful and you are doing a marvelous job of bringing him along

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    1. Aw thank you! He’s made my job pretty easy fortunately!

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  17. I love all the trotting pictures. There is something so satisfying about a good trot, especially as you watch your horse improve!

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    1. Seriously! I don’t get to see many trot videos of him so it’s still kind stunning to me to see how far he has come...

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  18. On a totally unrelated note, that red hair is gorgeous. Is that what she looks like IRL?

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