Wednesday, May 27, 2020

first jumps back

Missing our traditional Memorial Day Weekend event at Loch Moy definitely felt a little weird this year. Since starting to event in the Fall of 2014 I've only missed that event once, in 2016 after Isabel and I stopped competing.

But ya know. That's basically how it goes these days haha. And while I'm absolutely ecstatic to be back working with my favorite big bay, I'm honestly in no real rush to get back to where we were before this whole global pandemic changed everything.

post-quarantine #dadbod2020
Realistically, it's getting to be the time of year when Charlie starts having hoof issues with increasingly hard ground anyway. So I guess we'll just play it by ear for a little bit while I keep an eye on his hooves. More on that probably in another post lol.

obvi had to text this photo to elephant's person, who had JUST turned him out after grooming him forever. omg you pig!
So in the meantime.... We've just been slowly getting back into a routine. My barn has increased visit blocks to 2hrs. Each week we make a request for days and times, and I've been allotted 5 visits per week so far.

The schedule is far from perfect -- it's challenging to always have such a rigid time frame. Plus the combination of days on and off aren't exactly what I'd naturally do if left to my own devices. But.... also... ya know.... It doesn't really matter haha. It's been fine. I hope it doesn't stay like this forever, but I can deal with it.

just hackin along forever and ever with my horse and his epic mane
2 hours is plenty of time to get in a nice long hack, while still having time to enjoy a grooming routine, and not have to rush to get everything put back afterward. So that's what we've been doing haha -- lots and lots and LOTS of hacking.

Plus some wandering around the farm -- walking up and down all the driveways, checking in on the new baby shetland, visiting all the various arenas and fields and lanes. Trying to remind Charlie that this whole farm is actually his HOME and he should probably stop being such a spooky sonuvabitch haha.

got to ride with charlie's best friend iggy!!
We've done one or two quick basic dressage schools, and a couple trots through the woods. But honestly, nothing very serious. Charlie's feeling really really good, tho, so finally it was time to maybe try a few jumps again too!!

Lately it's been a golden age for pro riders producing really valuable riding content on youtube and other platforms. Doug Payne has always had really fun videos and his latest with 5yo stallion Quiberon was particularly inspiring for me in thinking about how to start Charlie jumping again.

doug payne & quiberon

In particular, it really struck me how efficiently he conducted the warm up. Get a nice good walk, then a nice good trot. Maybe a little bit of lengthening and shortening, some little lateral stuff. Good canter transition, a little counter canter. Change directions, rinse repeat. Then boom, 5 minutes later and they're done.

Then a little break, then some basic jumping. Starting with a really basic little gymnastic exercise, then just some quick coursework with at-height fences and a couple different style fences and combinations. Make it good, then be done. Boom, like another 5 minutes, and voila, the ride is over haha.

aw happy ponies <3
I feel like as an adult amateur rider, I often get sucked into trying to do "everything" in a single ride. A complete flat school, some cardio work, plus schooling the fences. Partly bc.... ya know, having a full time job means I don't have the luxury of being able to do multiple rides in a day. And also... I obvi don't have working students to put conditioning rides on my horse LOL.

Still tho.... The efficiency, quickness, and focus on correctness -- get it right and get it done -- from that video really stood out to me, and I therefore planned Charlie's first jump school to sorta mimic that approach.

joe desantis with martin douzant's frame gandolf

I also liked this recent video from Martin Douzant's channel too. He doesn't do any voiceover explanation or analysis of what's going on, but you can hear him coaching his working student in the background. In particular, he kept reminding the rider to wait, and let the horse's neck be long to the fence.

I'm not sure that exact instruction is necessarily the best for Charlie.... but I did notice that every time Martin said to let the neck be long, it looked like a place where I'd probably normally be wanting to take a pull haha. So.... I just tried to keep those words going through my head while going through our jumping exercise.

perfect set of jumps to get started again!!
We also got really really lucky with what was already set up in the jump ring. Presumably this was set up from someone else's first lesson back haha, bc it really was the perfect combination of elements to just get back into things.

All the jumps were fairly low -- BN and N, I'd guess (tho obvi it's pretty hard to guesstimate height from Charlie's back). There were two plain verticals that could be jumped either direction, an oxer up one long side, and a fantastic little grid down the center line -- complete with placing poles!

AND! Not included in the diagram / picture above, there were also two ground poles set on a short end at an easy 5 stride distance. Perfect for practicing the 4-5-6-7 exercise, altho for this ride Charlie and I just did the 5 off both leads.

who doesn't love a good ol' grid, amirite??
And guys, omg Charlie was SO GOOD. We did our 5 minute warm up a la the Doug Payne video, and homeboy felt great. I probably wasn't really as "correct" as Doug demands in his video.... But eh. It was good enough haha.

Probably tho, next time I'm going to spend a little more time tuning up the steering in particular during warm up. Esp turning into those ground poles set at 5 strides, my outside aids in the turn were a little weak and we bulged in both directions. I also wanted to curl my leg a bit and chase the 5, rather than just sit tall and quiet and soft and let it happen.

these guys both seemed pretty proud after strutting their stuff for a short little ride
For the jumping, I started immediately into a canter (rather than trotting anything to warm up),
and did a little right lead loop starting with the yellow caution panel in the above pic (going away from camera), turning right around to jump that purple/green vertical coming toward the camera.

Charlie was ALL SYSTEMS GO, MA'AM haha. And!! I was actually kinda proud of myself for remembering to be soft with my hands and actually being able to see the long spot instead of stuffing in a chip (tho I did get a little left behind at the first fences haha).

We repeated the exercise on the left lead -- this time starting with purple/green going away from the camera, then looping all the way around to the dark brown oxer on the outside line. Boom boom, Charlie was perfect.

So then finally nothing left to do but the grid -- which I cantered into off of each lead. Probbbbbbably that first placing pole was spaced for trotting in, not cantering in haha. Whoops... Charlie made it work tho, and was excellent both trips down the grid. Didn't touch a thing and jumped very well.

Yesss <3

then got to go strut our stuff on a cool down hack too!
And then. Ya know. Boom, we were done haha. Like 15min into the ride. Nice, quick, to the point. Charlie answered all the questions, jumped all the fences, did walk-canter transitions on both leads. Was basically a balanced trained schooled horse haha, and didn't miss a single distance or knock any rails. What more could I ask?

Esp for a horse like Charlie who can get a little sullen and sour, this quick efficient approach seems useful for building back up again. Esp considering I'm a little concerned about his feet (again, more on that later), it seems better than jumping a million things again and again haha.

i <3 this goofy horse tho
We finished things off with a little hack out some of the lanes with my riding buddy, and then were done in basically record time. Obviously a very different day from the horse show we'd normally do this long holiday weekend haha, but overall given the state of the world right now, it was a very good day.

I'm looking forward to doing more fun little jump schools sorta like this, and will hopefully have a first lesson back in the not-so-distant future.

In the meantime, tho, let me know if you've seen any other great videos on grids or good gymnastic exercises or jump school ideas etc haha. I'm really interested in hearing how everyone else is dealing with getting back into a regular riding routine and improving condition again -- for horse AND rider haha!



23 comments:

  1. Charlie looks so shiny! Your groom obviously did a good job :)

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    1. she really did <3 he's so soft and silky and spoiled absolutely rotten :D

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  2. What a good reminder about doing shorter sessions to get things focused and correct and then simply moving on to the next item or ending if all tasks have been achieved. Sounds like a great way to get Charles back into fitness without hammering those tootsies too much! Tho I really hope you're able to skirt by this year without too many issues from hard ground - ugh!

    I was so good about short, focused sessions when I was bringing Grif up from a youngster, but they definitely waned more as he got older. Silly human. Fortunately for Grif, I've actually begun doing shorter schooling sessions (starting on the lunge!) with him over jumps lately. Last night's session was a whopping 16 minutes followed by 24 minutes of enjoying fresh front yard grass. #winforGrif lol

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    1. yea i'm such a huge fan of short sessions.... tho i've been warned before about (and have paid the price for ignoring) the importance of high impact work too, so it's all always a balance. for right now, tho, for where we are and the current state of hooves, this feels right. i guess we'll just take things one day at a time.

      and that's exciting about getting Grif going again!! 16min of work followed by 24min of rest sounds prettttttty good to me haha

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  3. That exercise looks like a lot of fun! I bet the both of you were super ecstatic about getting back to jumping! I can definitely see the good in having long rides (because sometimes that's just how it goes and sometimes the horse needs it) but most times I've seen more improvement in short, focused sessions. What a great reminder his video was! I really liked it. I'll have to subscribe to more of these riders, too. I didn't know most of them had pages and it'd be great to see their videos!

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    1. There are so many great channels out there. Most of the pro riders aren’t like.... vloggers trying to grow an audience online or whatever. But many do post footage from their rides and some (esp Doug and any of the folks who do the young event horse futurity stuff like maya black and Dan Clasing and others, since the futurity requires they document the process) also provide analysis and explanation of their rides which can be really insightful

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  4. So important to remember - sometimes drilling something down or making sure we hit that "45 minute ride" isn't actually as pressing as we make it seem to be.

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    1. Yea I mean. I think the key for me is to not try to do everything at the same time. 45min matters in a conditioning ride but maybe not in a jump school, ya know? It’s hard too bc I also have to balance the needs of my own education and rider fitness. Like if I have three horses that need to be jumped in a day maybe it’s easy to be efficient with all of them. But as a one horse adult ammy I’m only ever just jumping whatever my horse jumps. So sometimes Charlie ends up jumping more than HE needs bc it’s what *I* need. But ya know. We work with what we got right? And this Doug example was really helpful !!

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  5. I definitely think the warmup only needs to be as long as whatever you require of the horse in the ride - and with more schooled/older horses it can be so simple as testing out the buttons. It reminded me of the time I cliniced with Rob Gage (it was a great clinic even if it turned out he wasn't a great person) and Carlos was about 12ish maybe 13 and I got him tuned up for the clinic in what felt like so little time but I was insecure (still am) and kept pressing buttons on my horse until Rob told me the horse was more than good to go.

    You and Charles have really gelled your partnership so I can imagine the shorter routine mixed in with all your other work will find a harmonious balance!

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    1. Yea totally agreed. And actually before covid I was trying to work on the same concept except for our dressage warm up. How to get all the buttons pressed and the horse sharp without using him up necessarily before a test?

      When I first started blogging I kinda thought of the warm up as this standardized method that could be applied to any horse for any purpose but actually it’s pretty cool figuring out how and why the warm up should actually evolve over time.

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  6. What a great day! I'm jonesing for some jumpies, for several reasons I haven't jumped since early Feb and it's starting to show. For now, I will live vicariously through your jumping, and what fun jumpies it was!

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    1. Aw man that’s so hard :( this was actually a good winter of jumping for us, plus I got to ride that little white Twister pony during quarantine so I shouldn’t complain. It’s hard tho - I hope you get to jomp soon!!!!

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  7. My rides are pretty all short and sweet since I have to try and fit all the horses into a small time frame. It's not the best for fitness I guess... But the horses seem happy with it!
    Sounds like you and Charlie are pretty much picking up where you left off.

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    1. yea... the whole fitness thing right now tho haha, it's like i can't even really muster the motivation for all that anyway lol. like i have some barn friends who are spending the barn visits doing trot sets and whatnot but like.... for what?? right now it feels like enough to just have a little fun and keep the ponies happy <3

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  8. Yes, less is oftentimes more (realizing that more and more with Tesla :)

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    1. Also he looks GREAT! and what's the lady equivalent of Dad Bod, cause Tesla (and Porsche) have buttcheeks that touch O_o LOL.

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    2. Lolol all I can think of is “mom jeans” but there’s surely gotta be something better.... haha

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  9. Sounds like the perfect session! I agree, short and sweet can be just as productive, if not more productive than a longer ride. I like to keep things quick and easy jumping, do it right and done!

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    1. Yea I think esp for show jump lessons and sessions that’s really where it’s at for charlie right now. Esp a ride like the above - he’s not really “learning” anything new in the ride, just knocking odd the rust and cracking his back. So the quickie session was perfect!

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  10. I'm glad you have more time now at the barn. Charlie is looking amazing this spring. I always forget how tall he is until you post a pic with another horse and he is towering over them. He truly is a brontosaurus.

    I'm all for short and focused rides, but I tend to get too short and focused sometimes. Or maybe I don't set high enough goals so that I reach my goal in 10 minutes and then stop. Not very good for fitness. Its awesome that you have so many trails and fields to hack out on after the ride to still get fitness work in.

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    1. Lol yea he really is massive haha. Riding these other horses like Freebee and Red who would normally be considered tall during quarantine really reminded me that.... yea. Charlie is unusually large LOL

      And I feel ya on sometimes getting 10min into a ride and feeling like “hm well we did what I wanted to do, cool!” I actually try to start (and sometimes end) each ride with a little hack out some pasture lines, usually about 15-20min. This acts as our warm up so that we can get right down to business in the ring for our schooling, also helps with making sure we get our conditioning in, and helps sorta break the ride up into segments so that we both get the saddle time we need, while not feeling super monotonous or like drilling.

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  11. So fun! I love the exercise that was set up! So many things to help in so many ways! YES! Changing shit up is important. I always try to remember that with June. I tend to get stuck in "school this forever" land sometimes...

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    1. oh man, yea i feel ya. like, there's a time and a place to work on some specific things (esp when those specific things are the fundamental building blocks LOL), and i've learned again and again and AGAIN with charlie that if i neglect the work... i'll pay for it down the road. but, variety is nice too haha. idk. riding is hard. but fun lol

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