Tuesday, August 13, 2019

jumper rounds at a dressage barn??

It's been a while since I've had a chance to get over to dressage trainer C's farm. Not for any real reason other than scheduling can be seriously tough sometimes, ya know? For instance, last year her farm started hosting a small series of combined tests. And I've been dying to go to one ever since!

the chariot awaits!!
But ya know. Life and stuff. So I missed all of them last year, and have already missed a few this year. BUT. Finally! This weekend it worked out. Actually, it was extra awesome bc a couple barn mates were going, as were other riding friends including some of my buds from Isabel's farm. It was gonna be a regular old reunion lol!

a charlie in his native habitat. also, heck ya for parking in shade!
This event is super SUPER inviting. Casual, low key, and inexpensive. It costs $65 for the full CT (dressage + show jump round). But you could also mix and match, $45 per dressage test and $20 per jump round. No limit to being able to do the same tests or jump levels repeatedly. Like I said -- very friendly.

every.single.jump is freakin adorable. the poles are all pvc tho which kinda sucks but oh well
And actually, I planned to skip the dressage entirely. At this particular point I don't need to spend $45 on a shitty dressage test when I can haul up to Hilltop for just $5 more, and get my ass handed to me for an hour LOL. Like... I already know we kinda suck. We'll deal with that later.

lots of camaraderie among competitors!
Honestly, at this particular point in my never ending journey to maybe at some point eventually if ever move up a level.... Honestly, I just need to break each phase down. Esp after falling in the show jumping at Full Moon, I wanted a couple smooth focused rounds with no other distractions.

No other warm ups to worry about. No juggling about "saving enough horse" from one phase to the next. Just one item on the to-do list: survive a 3'3 course in a competition(ish) setting.

behold, our seriousness
I signed up for two rounds: one at 3' and one at 3'3. Perfect, right? Charlie is perfectly comfortable at either height, but I can get a little excitable (and not in a good way) when the cups go up a hole.

Except, uh, small snag in the plan. Turns out the CT was running just like most other events in this area: Starting with the highest levels and dropping through the day. Which meant that my 3' time would be after my 3'3 round. So, uh, not exactly serving the "warm up" function I had imagined. Womp.

is this jump field not the absolute most delightful?
I fully admit to feeling seriously squeamish about this. But... Ya know. That's how it'll be at an event. That's how it was at Full Moon too. No warm up rounds at a lower height. Just get in there and lay down your at-height round. Plus, I expected the courses to be friendly and inviting.

just a little bit of terrain, with natural barriers
Obviously you never really know what you're going to get with a jumper course designed by dressage riders who may or may not plan on ever even jumping it haha. Especially when their primary competitors are mostly at the 2'6 and below levels....

But.... it turned out they did a seriously fabulous job. I was actually a little skeptical of one of the outside line distances -- for me it walked in EXACTLY 5.5 on the dot. Which, it's kinda hard to know what to plan for in that sorta situation. Tho trainer C pointed out to me that the line was going slightly uphill, making that distance appropriate.

guys my horse is a saint. also, we match the jump lol
And actually, after I kinda seriously buried Charlie at the in jump, forcing him to corkscrew over it, we ended up doing SEVEN in that line anyway so.... Ha, obviously it was fine.

I'm getting ahead of myself tho. Basically, everything looked really good and really inviting. There weren't even any in-and-outs on course. So I felt like this would be a really good way for us to just get a little more mileage in the show ring at this height.

when i talk about needing to work on our straightness in turns LOL.....
Warm up was a little challenging bc Charlie was ever so slightly LIT. Plus he was being extreeeeemely barn sour, something I hate. But ya know. My one job for the day was to execute. Ride my horse. Don't wait for a big mistake before I get serious. Establish connection, establish canter.

Ya know. All the good things we work on in our lessons, but that I sometimes will let slide when I'm nervous at a show. On this day, I wanted to do my friggin job in the saddle. Mistakes are ok, making the wrong choice is ok. I just wanted active not passive riding.

wheeeeee charlieeeee!!!
And so I actually spent more time warming up than I normally would at a show. Because again, we were just here for two courses. I wasn't gonna run out of horse, ya know? But I *did* want to take the edge off and really establish ourselves in a rhythm. I wanted to feel like we were improving as we warmed up, vs barely holding it together or even falling apart.

Finally tho, it was time. And? Honestly? Our first round was pretty much fine. I was a little tentative and some of our distances weren't great. The feeling I'm looking for is a more forward canter, feeling like I can ride Charlie's hind legs up into the bridle. It's just a bit tricky when he already sorta feels like he's running, and there are a lot of tight turns.

he's a good boy <3
But I think I did a reasonably good job of keeping my leg on. So even tho we messed up a few distances, Charlie never got to a spot that he felt was completely unjumpable.

So I opted to just go immediately back in for my second round at 3'3 too, since it seemed silly to wait for the course reset for 3'. I really really wanted the second round to fix some of the mistakes I made in the first round. And, in some ways it did. Mostly tho, the two rounds were pretty much comparable in efforts.

these end jumps came up fast!
Our first outside line, for instance, was better the second time. The turns were still kinda tricky tho. Especially because Charlie's gate sourness was still extremely prevalent. Turning away from the gate was a bit of a challenge.

Charlie really delivered, tho. Almost all of his jumping efforts were very very good, even tho I didn't have him as straight as I should have, and even tho I still missed a few distances.

nbd tho, charlie was all aces
We had rails in both classes (more in the second than the first, womp), but again -- the rails were all PVC. Which means that not only do they fall more easily, but they don't really feel like anything to the horse, so the horse might become a little less careful as he goes.

And anyway, the day was never supposed to be about rails. Mostly I just wanted to execute without any major errors. Like refusing or falling off LOL. Annoyingly tho, one of our worst fences was the last fence of the second round (below, lol). But like, honestly? I'm ok with it.

well, ahem, we did have a few bloopers in each round obvi lol.... can you believe he still jumped this? good boy, chuck!
In some ways, I actually find it reassuring to make mistakes and have things still basically be ok. Obviously I'd rather not haha. But mistakes are inevitable, and I shouldn't let my fear of them prevent me from continuing to try. So overall it was a net positive, even with experiencing some of the mistakes in these rounds, yet walking away feeling like we more or less survived.


It was also really useful experience for me in terms of information gathering for other things. I love horse showing. I want to go to a horse show. But have been conflicted about what sort of choices to make regarding which divisions to enter.

you're my #1 for sure <3
We've been working really really hard lately. We've been challenging ourselves, and pushing our limits. There are people who I trust completely who think we're ready. But.... Emotionally, even just getting out there to do these simple jumper rounds was very consuming for me.

So.... At least for the immediate future, while I'm excited at the prospect of continuing to challenge ourselves in lessons and schoolings etc, I think we're also due for maybe an easier run. Something that isn't going to give me so much anxiety, or make me lose sleep at night.

happy to chill back at the trailer with a buddy!
We'll get to that later, tho. For now I'm just thrilled that Charlie continues to be a horse who wants to grow with me, ready to tackle each new adventure. Small local stuff like this is so great too, bc so many more of my friends were also able to come and ride. And since obviously the best part of any show is the tailgate afterward, the more the merrier, right?? Lol...

So. Part 1 of my epic weekend plans concluded in a pretty positive fashion. That wasn't all we signed up for tho -- next up is Part 2, another cross country lesson with Sally. This time, with a couple riders and horses far more experienced and advanced than me and Charlie. Would we be able to keep up?? Find out soon lol...





34 comments:

  1. Congrats on the two good rounds at 3’3”! I can’t even imagine that height. I’m sure you’ll move up when the time is right for you. I don’t think going out for easier rounds at an established level is a bad thing at all. Showing is supposed to be fun after all

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks! and you know, it's interesting, i was reading back through the archives about what it was like to move isabel up to 3' -- my first time ever doing that with a horse. it was hard, but it was also really really REALLY special, considering i'd never really believed i'd be able to do it.

      so now with charlie, i'm trying to remember to not focus too much on how we're messing up, or why we're not quite good enough yet, or whatever, and just sorta enjoy the feeling that, "omg we ARE actually doing this thing that i never expected in a million years that i'd be able to do! and it's pretty cool!!"

      Delete
  2. you guys look pretty comfortable at that height. it's nice to see him going around pretty easily after FMF - neither of you look worse for wear confidence wise!! Those jumps are sooooo pretty

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yea, such a relief that full moon really didn't bug him. we've had quite a few lessons since then, and i've been able to post a few videos too, and charlie's been exactly his same casual happy self. so yea, full moon definitely felt like a fluke. that's horses!!

      Delete
  3. I can't believe that you would think that dressage riders would want anything to be less than perfect! LOL.
    I think you guys look really good (despite the rail). You guys are very smooth and it's clear you are a team.

    I too am working on not being passive but more active with Carmen (for different reasons). I love the horse standards, they are so pretty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hahaha it's not that i thought the dressage riders would make mistakes -- rather, i worried they'd set it TOO perfect. as in, everything on exactly a 12' stride, and natch these dressage riders would think nothing of tight hairpin turns etc. whereas, when i think of rideability through a jumper course, i imagine a bit more variability in stride length to make things easier / harder depending on fence height, style and placement etc. of course, my worries were totally unfounded, they created a superbly rideable (tho tricky enough!) course ;)

      and thanks, i was super happy with charlie's performance. he wasn't always 100% focused (distracted a bit by the gate lol) but was very very good. being pilot v passenger definitely helps tho!! :D

      Delete
  4. Sounds like a great day - friends, a cute course and low pressure competitively. It's good to mix in those types of days with the higher stakes ones. I think I'd be a jumper if I ever crossed over into H/J land! XC scares the beejeesus out of me, but starting with oh, 12" cross rails might work! lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. dude, jumper courses are definitely really cool and really fun! i'm slightly addicted to xc too, but would love to do more straight jumper stuff. only difference is.... in actual h/j land there are no ride times!! whereas since this was a ct, we still got pretty firm assigned times.

      also.... if there weren't some qualifications i wanted to earn, i'd probably do small local unrecognized stuff #4lyfe haha

      Delete
  5. Exciting! And what a great redemption from Full Moon! You guys look great, and those silly rails will not be an issue once you've got wood options!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yea the rails weren't really the point of the day at all, and probably won't really be a priority for a long time. right now what i really want is a consistently good feeling over the fences!

      Delete
  6. I relate very hard to this part: "Emotionally, even just getting out there to do these simple jumper rounds was very consuming for me."
    I'm super angsty right now about getting back out there. Or even just jumping in general. I know I just have to keep doing the thing and it will get easier. But it was kind of nice to read that I'm not alone in that.
    You two look great out there! Charlie really has a great attitude, he just wants to help you do whatever it is you want to do on a given day. What a great guy he is!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. the angst is SO REAL tho, and you are definitely not alone. literally every single one of my friends on this day was dealing with it to a certain degree (some cases more extreme than others). bc damn, it's just plain old hard sometimes and definitely doesn't get easier with age haha. but i do the same thing as you - i just try to keep doing it, keep practicing and facing down my demons. and it *is* getting easier... but damn slowly haha....

      also. yes. charlie is the BEST BOY and i am forever grateful for his attitude haha <3

      Delete
  7. I think you guys looked good! To me, it does look like your really hard work is paying off, even if you were a little squeamish at the height. I remember one of my first reining shows, and no joke had to chug a beer beforehand because I was shaking with nerves, so I totally get needing to catch up emotionally. This shit's hard haha! I think you guys are honestly looking really good, and I can't wait to read about your XC adventure! (Spoiler alert: I think you guys totally were able to keep up!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. omg haha, i actually had a cooler full of cold ones that i was offering freely to anybody who needed them. bc sometimes... that's exactly what the doctor ordered LOL! generally i prefer to keep my reaction time sharp when i'm jumping, tho i fully admit to chugging a beverage before the first time i ever took charlie xc schooling haha...

      also, fyi the video from the xc school may or may not already be up on youtube for those impatient ;)

      Delete
    2. Hahaha! Oh yeah, I totally get that for jumping. Probably wouldn't drink either - especially at 3'3" lol. Reining is just a lot of circles, although now I'm glad I didn't drink more because I would've been so nauseous from all those spins and circles LOL Oh yes I will go check that out!

      Delete
  8. Those jumps are seriously pretty. Too bad they're pvc... Good for getting out there again! We need to plan a trail ride again. Now if only we could find a horse for S to borrow...

    ReplyDelete
  9. You guys look great! Baby jumps for big Charlie, no problem! A couple things you said rang really true to me:
    1. Don't wait for a big mistake before I get serious. - YES, me too! It takes Cosmo refusing a jump for me to buckle down and get it done. I should be getting it done on my own, before I get mad about it.
    2. But mistakes are inevitable, and I shouldn't let my fear of them prevent me from continuing to try. - My trainer said this exact thing to me my last lesson. Make mistakes. That's how you learn. Don't be afraid of getting it wrong, or making the wrong decision as long as you support it. And then you'll know next time what to do when you repeat the mistake or are able to avoid it.
    What a great local show to work through whatever it is you want to work through, and with the prettiest jumps!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you!!! and yea, the point #2 is such a big one. i remember david oconnor talking at length about that at the clinics he teaches. his whole point is that it's ok to not always be right -- but you must always be making a choice, acting, doing *something*. that way, even if it doesn't work, you can understand why and make a change next time. bc his whole thing was that we should seek to create "reproducible" rides

      in action, obviously it's harder than it sounds haha... but ain't that always the way with horses????

      Delete
  10. Y'all have some serious WINGS. Well done.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks!!! all credit to charlie, he makes me feel so brave <3

      Delete
  11. Sounds like great practice, and I love that grass field! (It's not that common around here) Do you mind sharing what type of warm up you do when he's more up?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. we are so lucky to have grass on grass on grass in maryland haha - to the point where we actually get pretty picky about quality of the terrain. this particular field was very lovely tho! a bit on the small side, with the woods serving as natural walls, but plenty big enough for tons of course options.

      and in terms of warm up, at a normal three phase event, i would have done a dressage test about 1-1.5hrs earlier, when i would have ridden for 15-25min in a fairly standard wtc manner, then obvi the test. so when i come in for my show jump warm up, it's usually more of a quickie. just testing obedience and connection in wtc, a couple lead changes, and a couple fences, then off for our round.

      on this day, since i didn't have that first dressage ride, i approached the show jumping warm up more like i'd do for a lesson. not just lengthier flat work, but also more warm up fences -- like in our lessons when we go through a couple single fences and individual components before putting the whole course together. when charlie is running a little hotter, it's important for me to remember to keep my leg ON, and be consistent in asking for things like connection and straightness. he can be forward, but he can't bulge or pull. does that make sense?

      Delete
  12. You guys look like that height is well within your wheelhouse, even if you do have a little mistake here or there, it looks totally easy and within both of your ability to fix the situation and move right on. =-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you!! charlie is definitely super comfortable with this height, and he's so uncomplicated and brave, he makes me feel so confident in him!

      Delete
  13. FWIW I think you guys look amazing and I am SO insanely jealous of how far you've come (since I have been following anyway).

    Moving up is just as much a mental game as a physical one, so if you don't feel ready then just cruise. Nothing wrong with that :)

    ALSO - relate so hard on the "we know we kinda suck, will deal with it later" comment hahahahah

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha for real tho, like part of me regretted just a little bit not doing the dressage test just for the experience but.... eh, i really don't need another test sheet covered in 5s and 6s right now LOL!

      Delete
  14. You got out there and did the things- and looked great!! Awesome job!

    ReplyDelete
  15. You guys look great. it is always hard moving up a level not matter what that level is. Good on you for giving it a go, when things come together you will be awesome!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. moving up is definitely hard. and, honestly i've come to learn that it really isn't a linear or binary thing. it's not a switch that flips, but just sorta a long muddled process. which, yep, that's totally fine!!

      Delete
  16. Having consecutive rounds to go in and school the mistakes is so important in the growth process (currently going through this myself with one young sir) so even thought inevitably things always crop up it's all good experience!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for leaving a comment! If you have trouble with this form, please email: fraidycat.eventing at gmail.