Monday, January 27, 2020

blue ribbon rounds @ Oldfields

This past weekend Charlie and I went on a little adventure to Oldfields for a low key schooling show. It was billed as a "blue ribbon rounds" style of jumper class, which essentially means that every clear round earns a blue.

Courses would be simple (read: minimal combinations) and inviting, and you could do as many rounds as you wanted for $15 a pop.

charlie stood like this, frozen solid and completely motionless, for roughly 5 minutes. i basically had no choice but to start snapping pictures haha
Considering the mucky mess of outdoor winter footing we have available at home, I welcomed the prospect of nice dry and spacious indoor! Plus it seemed like a great opportunity to get more "formal" mileage over bigger heights.

Like, sure, the course didn't really reflect what we'd see at a proper event (recognized or otherwise) - there weren't any in-and-outs or anything, and basically no fill. And most of the fences were closer to 3' than 3'3. But.... ya know.... For me, personally, one of the hardest parts of moving up is actually doing it. Signing up. Stepping into the ring when the pressure is "on."

looks like just the ticket -- sign us up!! also, yes, i'm still cramming poor brontosaurus charlie into a size small cooler handed down from izzy haha...
So really, any chance I can get to at least work through that mental part of the process is helpful, right? Like, this show mimicked that feeling very nicely, while the course still felt very much within our wheelhouse.

I haven't written much about my weekly jump lessons lately mostly bc there's no media lol. Lame excuse, I know, but them's the breaks. But we *have* been lessoning!! Weekly privates with our barn's resident upper level event rider K, who drills into the nittiest grittiest technical details of our ride in a way I haven't regularly had since the Dan Days. And I am loving it.

yep ok you caught me. i was 100% playing charlie's personal paparazzi for the day LOL. but c'mon, is he not the cutest??
And so another bonus to this particular show day was that K would be there coaching. So not only would I be able to see how well I'm retaining our lessons in a show atmosphere (about 85% according to K, haha), but she would also be able to see what changes and what stays the same with Charlie off property.

We all already know he's the best boy, but he is a slightly different horse at home vs away. Just like most horses, right?

we showed up at the end of the day, with most of the biggest trailers already gone by then.
So ya know. Lots of logical reasonable rational arguments for why this day could be a good experience for us. There's more to it than that, tho. Something simpler: I just love horse shows. I love attending shows, volunteering at them, and riding in them as a competitor.

I read Aimee's post last week about the decline of horse shows and... Idk, I had a hard time relating. Maybe I didn't read it closely enough or missed the point, but there was very little in that discussion that touched on what makes horse showing special to me.

But of course - that's the amazing thing about horses and horse sports, right? There are literally infinite ways to enjoy horses, to fit them into our lives in a rewarding and fulfilling way. So so so many "right" ways to live a horsey lifestyle, and honestly very few wrong ways.

jump 1!! heading directly into the crowd haha
For instance, I have friends who only ever come out on the weekends (and only in good weather) for jaunts through the woods with their horses, and friends who ride every day no matter what. I know riders who avoid arenas, and riders who never stray beyond four walls. Riders who live to compete, and others who only want to enjoy the ride.

Some riders rarely go faster than a walk or lazy trot, let alone jump. And others are legit speed demons. Different riders gravitate toward the journey with a green horse, or toward the education that only a schoolmaster can offer. Some ride out the rough patches, and some hand the reins to a professional for that precision touch.

At different points in my riding life I've been all the above. Plus naturally there are countless "types" of horses to suit all these different riders. Some horses at my farm will pass their entire lives without ever leaving the property. And some travel every weekend and winter.

jump 2 - maryland oxer. i was pleased that we nailed this one, since it was one of the warm up fences too and i would have been annoyed to have had practice over it but then blow it in our round haha. ooh but you'll have to watch the video to see me actually get jumped the fuck out of the tack on the back side LOL
And it's all good, right? And just because a rider fits into one category right now doesn't mean things might not be different later. Things change - jobs, family, resources, health, etc - in ways that impact what role horses can play in our lives.

I know personally my riding habit, goals, and needs have evolved dramatically over the years. A lot of different horses have meant a lot of different things to me. But the one constant has been that I love them and am happiest when horses are a part of my daily life.

It can be really challenging, tho, when we put something we love under the microscope. Under the intense pressure and scrutiny that comes with sport and competition. I've already written a little bit about struggling under that pressure this past summer, and beginning to question why or whether I should even be doing this.

At the end of the day, tho, after all that introspection and self evaluation, I determined that, YES. I do want to do this.

jump 3 was the only other warm up fence allowed. we knocked it a bunch in warm up but charlie was aces during our round!!
And ya know. It really is that simple.

Being perfectly honest, too, most burnout cases I've seen in my horsey circles were related to some sort of misalignment with what a rider really wants to be doing, and/or misalignment with a horse. Riding is hard enough as it is, but will 100% be an unbearable grind if you don't enjoy the day-to-day aspects - be they repetitive schooling rides or long barn commutes - required for whatever goals you set for yourself.

I'm very lucky to be right now at a point in my life where I have the flexibility in time and resources to pursue my goals with Charlie. And, obviously it should go without saying that I'm extremely lucky to have Charlie at all.

Ten years down the line, it's hard to tell what I'll be doing with horses. But for right now, I've got a clear sense of what I want, and the right horse to do it. And horse showing plays a big role in that dream, for a couple reasons.

this fence showed up twice on course and was one of only a few set to a full 3'3 height. the rest were 3'
There's so much more to horse showing than just the outcome, or the minutes in the ring or out on course. It's the feeling of butterflies when you mark a date on the calendar or send in an entry. The days, weeks or months of careful practice leading up to the event.

The night before, packing and preparing. The morning of - actually driving in to the venue. Nothing feels like that moment when you turn into the driveway at the show.

But then there's the blur of last minute dressing and tacking before you're finally ONthen warming up, until all at once --- it's time. The big crescendo: Actually doing the thing - riding your test or pattern, jumping the course. Executing the plan. And, with any luck, completing it.

Each of these moments inspires an almost visceral reaction in me. A strange mix of nervous excitement that ultimately gives way to (hopefully) a happy wash of endorphins when it's all over.


Our round at Oldfields this weekend was not perfect. I'm still not riding forward enough in the show ring (tho we're getting better in lessons!). And even tho we've been practicing short turns to a big oxers constantly in lessons, I still kinda biffed that same style turn to jump 5. Honestly I'm lucky Charlie jumped it haha!

And ya know, there are countless other little odds and ends I see in the video that need fixing.

There are things I'm proud of too, tho: For the most part, I was thinking and choosing and riding with purpose the whole time, even if I didn't always choose perfectly. The two jumps we were allowed to do in warm up (green crooked vertical and red oxer) went very smoothly on course. Our overall canter has improved, even tho I shut it down too much at times. And my hand position and activity are better.

Plus, the jumps themselves were no big deal. The bending line to the big upright 3'3 vertical rode in a tight 6 for Charlie, but even tho he got close to it he still jumped it pretty easily. And I almost ran him into a friggin standard at a 3' oxer but he handled that with aplomb too. Gooood boy!

every clear round wins a blue!! heck yes, satin ho 4 lyfe!! 
Perhaps the most important part of it all tho was the feeling I had afterward. I felt good. My horse was so good, and felt really confident and capable. And so did I.

The course maybe wasn't even as hard as some stuff we do in lessons, but the feeling walking away was different. Like we passed a small but important test haha. So so so so so many riders suffer from some degree of imposter syndrome, and I'm no exception. But rides like this help give me that extra little boost in confidence that when the time does eventually come for the "real deal," we'll be ready.

he might not be little, be he sure is sporty as hell!
But also. Ya know. It's just plain fun to get out and do fun things with my amazing and sweet pony. My inner 12yo is pretty sure that this is the life. Moving up or winning or prize money be damned.

This fun happy fulfilled feeling is its own reward to me and I can't think of literally anything else I'd rather be doing with my time or resources. But if ever a time comes when I feel differently? Well.... then I just won't do it haha. It really is that simple.


34 comments:

  1. Kinda reminds me of the jumper shows at the Pony Club field by me. Super low key, but good practice going out and jumping someone else's course while other people watch. So awesome K was able to be there, too. 85% retained is pretty damn good to me! Lol!

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    1. yep -- it's exactly the same type of event as those PC rounds at your barn. suuuuper inviting and just a nice way to get that experience. only real difference was that the time windows for jump heights were more regimented, and everyone for each height group warmed up at the same time inside the arena itself (bc #winter) which made for a slightly frenzied scene haha... but yea. just good practice!

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  2. thanks for sharing the video - charlie is such a good, honest boy!

    also let me know when you start a go fund me for a charlie sized cooler :P I wish I had an extra one from Indy to send you...

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    1. lolz charlie already has so many clothes, it's unreal. and he's such a big horse, the sheer volume of material it takes to keep his ass covered (literally) is intense. so.... he's got all the good stuff (like his back on track) in proper size. but for this fleece cooler, eh.... we only really use it when it's likely that he'll be wet (saturday was rainy) and this size is good 'nuff. or something LOL

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  3. Sounds like a fun event to get out and test some lesson knowledge. Great that Coach K was able to be there too. I did have a chuckle at Charlie's butt hanging out in that last picture. I'm in a similar boat with Fred - most of his clothes fit, but a couple that haven't been replaced yet have more "airflow" at the back! LOL

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    1. definitely always fun to get out and do the fun things!!! :D

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  4. Sounds like a pretty great day to me! I'm with you entirely. There's just something about the show ring that kinds of addictive, but in a good way. I'm SUPER angsty about my first show with Eros (which I haven't even scheduled or committed to in anyway) but I also can't wait for all of those feelings.
    You and Charlie have been working super hard, and it's definitely paying off! Glad you got out there and had fun!

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    1. oh man, so many feelings. alllll the feelings haha. that crazy complicated tangle of gut wrenching feelings. definitely kinda addictive haha. i'll be so excited to follow along when it's finally Eros' turn!!! and thank you, i'm so proud of my big goofy horse, he really has turned into such a star!!

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  5. Very nice Emma! Beautiful, solid round! Nicely done 👍

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    1. thank you!!! this horse makes it so easy sometimes <3

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  6. What a great day! Fun with your pony jumping some new jumps! You're right, your round wasn't perfect, but it was still a great round. You supported him to each fence and he took it from there = teamwork! He's clearly having fun, and obviously, you are too! :)

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    1. ha thanks <3 yea he had fun. the warm up scene was a little too frenetic for him i think, but he was great for our round when he was the only horse in the ring. and thank the lort we don't have to worry about style points in eventing lol -- clear is clear sometimes!!

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  7. 85% retained in a show atmosphere is serious goals lol!

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    1. omg for real tho. honestly i think the biggest win is my hand position. maybe one day i'll be able to pair that with riding forward too. maybe. one day. lol...

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  8. What a great experience. I love this idea! And that venue is beautiful

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    1. omg isn't it so pretty there???? it's this tiny little all girls private school campus tucked into the maryland wilderness lol

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  9. I love this.
    Just getting out there and doing the thing with your best pony makes for the best day ever <3

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    1. yessssss!! everyone's idea of what's the most fun might be a little bit different, but that's ok too, right??

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  10. My inner 12yo agrees with you! Being able to have horses in our lives in any form is so great but sometimes it's easy to lose sight of that in the noise (as you mentioned). The schooling rounds sounds a lot like the No Show we have (Except gosh I wish we got ribbons lol seriously any color!), I hope that as the riding community becomes more cognizant of the expense as a whole and the lose of opportunities for most new venues and modes for continued learning open up like the blue ribbon rounds you did and the no-shows we have down in SoCal.

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    1. this show was definitely a lot like the No Show you described. we are actually super lucky in this area to have tons and tons of options for stuff like this. basically from every point on the spectrum from "suuuuuper low key" (like this show and the one i did over the summer at thornridge) to something more formal but still schooling, to the recognized or A-rated stuff.

      i wish the recognized and A-Rated stuff was cheaper, and hope to be involved in my local organizations to better understand why the costs are what they are... but also. i know that i am capable of prioritizing and budgeting for the things that matter most to me. there is a balancing point in there somewhere!

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  11. Charlie is such a stunner. He's like, "Oh, hai mom. I know I'm awesome. Did you get this side? What about this one? Majestic like this? Or like this?"

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    1. omgosh he's so vain LOL!! and also sorta rude about it lol, it was everything i could do to stop him from shoving his nose into literally everybody's pockets so that they could also pet and admire him.... honestly probably should have had the rope halter on him haha. next time ;)

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  12. What a good boy Charlie! And poor guy being stuffed into such a tiny cooler. LOL! But this sounds like a great experience for both of you!

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  13. You two look so great out there!

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  14. I missed the point of that post as well. Winning a ribbon isn’t the end all be all. If it is your thing, then ok...figure out a way to make that work for you be that more solo rides, more lessons, the right horse etc...I’ve found in my life that those who really really want something make it happen regardless of the work week or the weather or or or... When I wanted to do the 100 nothing stood in my way. I rode in the cold and the rain and the heat. I did endless boring hill sets in the evening when I had no time to make it to the trail. I sacrificed family time. Now a days it’s different. I love what I’m doing but I have other things in my life I love more: namely my little man. So riding fits in when I can and I’m more of a fair weather rider these days.

    Anyway. That got rambly.

    Great job going out and getting the mileage and looking good doing it.

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    1. yea i mean, realistically, my view point as an amateur is that my life DOES NOT rely on placings or winning or prize money or whatever. like, isn't that the specific distinction between being an ammy and a pro??

      your points about the 100 are so spot on, tho. before blogging, endurance was like this amazing unimaginable incomprehensible undertaking to me. 100 miles in one day? WHAT?? and yet, folks like you make it happen every year. simply through sheer determination, consistency, and grit. ah-mazing haha. reading endurance posts like yours sorta was a major part of how i re-understood what it meant to be serious about horse sports.

      and then --- it means exactly the same to see how regular every day horse lovers can shuffle priorities to meet their every day needs. bc ya know. stuff changes over time. it's up to us to figure out how horses can fit our needs.

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  15. I think Charlie is the bomb, and so are you for getting out there. It doesn't have to be perfect, but you guys looked great and got it done. There were no scary moments and you both did an excellent job!

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    1. thank you!!! definitely no scary moments, and actually a lot of moments to make me feel confident that we can handle some jank shit with reasonably aplomb!! gotta love that haha

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  16. I think sometimes getting out there, and getting it done, is the hardest step of all. So, kudos to you for doing that, and doing it well!! Yay for you and Charlie. Looks like you two are doing great!!

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    1. thanks!! agreed that just getting out there can be so hard. just... hard haha. i try to do it often to mitigate the anxiety that comes with it. but... sometimes ya just gotta rip the bandaid off!

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  17. Agreed about that post you mentioned. I don't get the point of being so judge-y, either towards other people's equine experiences, or even worse - your own.

    "happy wash of endorphins" FOR THE WIN!

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    1. happy washes of endorphins for EVERYONE!!

      and less judgement for all too, while we're at it ;)

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