Thursday, July 23, 2020

rain dance

2020 is a year that just continues to amaze (or astound, bewilder... choose your own verb lol).

January was approximately 8.5 years ago at this point, April dragged interminably for a full 294 days straight, and even tho July 1 was only just yesterday, it'll undoubtedly already be mid August by tomorrow.

riding the edges of the cornfields bc it's the only soft ground to be had
And so it goes.

But... If there's one thing you can always rely on during Maryland summers, it's the heat.

was grateful to just be volunteering at this dressage show rather than riding. doesn't this pic just LOOK hot??
In a typical year, it's a truth universally acknowledged that the native Baltimoron [sic] can expect the hottest weekend of July by checking the Artscape dates. Which, had this been a typical year, Artscape would have been last weekend.

set charlie up with the double fans!! ....for which i was immediately reprimanded by mgmt, womp
Which was, indeed, a hot weekend. And dry --- oh it's been oh so so so dry.

Two years ago we had the wettest year on recent record, with shows cancelling left and right bc of the water-logged ground. Last year tho was exactly the opposite. Equally distant from "average" on the spectrum, just bone dry from June all the way through September.

probably commiserating with each other about the heat + flies
I'd gotten into the habit so far this year of saying that 'at least we're not as dry as last year!' But.... Honestly I don't know if that's true any more.

i took this picture solely for the turtle factor. you're welcome
At least this year tho, I've got some new learnings about how Charlie did while training hard on all that hard ground last year. Hint: not particularly well.

Obviously Charlie is and always has been a superstar. He loves to gallop and jump and pack my ass around while he's at it. But... The cumulative effects of constant training on hard ground eventually led to him being slightly less able to pick up my slack.

cornfields ftw tho, for real
But 2020 is a whole new ball game. The horse feels amazing. He came out of quarantine feeling refreshed and healthy in his body. And we've been able to get in some seriously awesome rides before the ground got quite so bad. Including obviously our epic hunter pace (where the ground was perfection) and the recent CT too.

basic exercise of pole -- low wide swedish oxer -- pole (hard to see but there is a ground pole on the other side!)
If I learned one thing from all this.... It's that Charlie maybe doesn't need a ton of practice to stay more or less right where I left him. Like, let's be real, *I* probably need practice haha... but.... eh. A healthy happy Charlie is easier to ride so that's what I'll prioritize.

canter poles. doesn't the ground just look so hard too?
And anyway, it seems like ground pole exercises are just as useful for keeping Chuck's body moving in the right "jumping" sort of way, and helping him keep his eye sharp.

About once a week I try to set up the same basic three exercises: long line of trot poles, long line of canter poles, and the pole-oxer-pole grid from Doug Payne. Ideally these three exercises are placed such that it's reasonably easy to cycle through from one to the next again and again off both directions.

and trot poles amid the dust
My sorta long-term goal is to make this a weekly 'barn night' kinda thing, where other riders will want to meet up to work on the same stuff. So far tho I usually have at least one or two other riders with me to set it up -- kinda helping to make it worth the effort haha.

Esp since... ya know, with the heat and dry ground, each individual horse is only cycling through everything a couple times. It's def fun for a group, tho, esp riders of mixed levels.

obsessing over the forecast... tuesday was ALL LIES, but yesterday was legit
Even that has seemed like too much tho this week, bleh. Maybe made worse bc the forecast keeps jerking us around with the promise of thunderstorms coming off the mountains further west.

But... Idk what it is about the farm's particular geographic location or whatever, but these friggin storms keep straight up either missing us entirely, or evaporating just before they arrive.

from tuesday. clouds parted ways around the farm like the red friggin sea
Probably some sort of effect from the proximity to the Chesapeake? I don't really know how it all works haha, other than: Charlie's farm is somehow uniquely positioned such that areas north, south, east and west will ALL get rain while the farm itself stays bone dry.

WTF ugh....

wednesday. when the group texts are lit bc everyone is comparing pics of the imminent storm clouds lol
We got lucky yesterday tho when a larger storm rolled through, and left a period of steady rain in its wake. Which like.... Wow, you don't realize how parched you've been until you're standing out in the middle of a rain shower grinning like a giddy idiot lol....

Hopefully this should be enough to soften the arena footing for a proper jump lesson tomorrow.... Lol, cross your fingers for me!

yassssss rain!!! please also be raining at the farm too!!!
I'd love to get out for some fun xc schooling in the near future too, but alas our home course is closed in advance of the annual recognized horse trial. So ya know.... We'll see what happens.

Could be fun to go up to Windurra again or something, maybe. Honestly tho, at this point I'll let the weather and Charlie call the shots, rather than try to force my own agenda on things LOL.

enjoy virtual Mikey nose rubs for making it this far in a post about the weather <3
For years, my approach to riding in extreme conditions has been: If I'd show in it, I'll practice in it too. Meaning, if it isn't bad enough to scratch a paid entry, then I better be prepared to ride.

And ya know. Honestly I still believe that's a pretty good philosophy for most conditions. Like rain, for instance, or wind. Or most hot or cold days.

But perhaps that attitude needs to be modified to appreciate the cumulative effects of sustained extreme conditions. For Charlie, the cumulative effects of hard work on hard ground just don't seem worth it, so I'm trying to be a little more selective.

Tho.... life sure would be a lot easier if we could just get a couple good days of rain around these parts LOL.... Anyone else have to make riding choices based on weather or ground conditions? Or maybe you have better footing options that stay consistent no matter what?


  1. Glad you saw some rain. We boarded at a barn when we first moved here that was just like that. It would rain everywhere but on that one spot. When we went farm shopping we paid attention to those areas and tried to avoid them.

    This weather has been killing me since I returned to work. I was doing so good with Eeyore's rehab when I was home and could ride at 9 am. Now it is getting hotter, drier and riding at 6 pm is a chore. We are getting it in though but man it sucks to be dripping sweat just from tacking up.

    1. ugh yea.... it's definitely hard to get motivated when it's like this.... at least with rehab, it never hurts to go slower than necessary. my friend has been rehabbing a soft tissue injury in her mare for months at this point, but she sorta just figured that eh, 2020 was kinda a wash anyway so might as well go slow....

  2. This weather has been awful. I pretty much gave up after last Thursday and gave Nay Nay another vacation after his tendon thing. It's just too hot. The horses are hot outside, they're hot inside. And I decided I just didn't want to ride. So, I haven't. I'm hoping I can ride tomorrow and Saturday before the next heat wave starts back up Sunday. And then I can appreciate being back in the mid/upper 80s again.

    As for the ground, it's interesting. As dry as it is and as hard as the ground is, everything still looks green around here? I haven't seen the deadening of grass yet nor has my husband found that he can get away with not mowing. So, everything is still growing despite the lack of rain? Who knows...

    At least Charlie is doing well!

    1. i'm definitely super happy that charlie is doing well... tho obvi that never stops me from worrying LOL! and yea the grass around baltimore is starting to burn out, and the pastures at our farm are also not quite so lush anymore.... but i guess we've gotten jusssst enough rain to keep things from going totally brown?? idk either haha...

  3. I've noticed the rain seems to bypass our house a lot. It'll rain all around us, but only threaten here. In fact, last Saturday it threatened for HOURS, rained for maybe 5 minutes here, but at the barn (which is 9.2 miles from me, and less as the crow flies), they had torrential rains, trees down, etc.

    1. ughhhhhh this friggin weather, that's so frustrating haha. actually the other day when the clouds split around the farm (from the gif above) i actually drove home right between the two cloud groups and was just like, whyyyyyyy haha

  4. South Florida is still a nightmare right now with the weather. It's become a little more tame at the barn; same situation where storms tend to just pass by for the most part, but we get a nice breeze. Miami though? Psshshhh. I've woken up the past week to lashing rain and thunderstorms followed by heat from the actual savanna.

    1. dude, no. haha.... just.... no. i can't imagine living anywhere hotter than maryland. like, this is plennnnty hot, omg, florida just sounds brutal

  5. We are having almost the same weather here. We've finally had a bit of rain the past week or so, but it was all dead grass and hard surfaces for most of June and July. When 5am is the only time I can handle being outside, I know it is time to back off on working the

    1. ugh for real. dude that's the thing that kills me about the rain we do get -- since the ground is so hard, these crazy storms just flash flood right across the surface without actually soaking in.... and yea i'm normally getting to the barn after work around 6pm and practically feel bad for the horse.... sigh

  6. Ugh I hate droughts more than anything (and here if there is no rain you are in a drought since we don't get snow). It's always good to consider what conditions one would or wouldn't show under and since Charlie is older and has seen a lot more action via racing than most horses it's good to contemplate and I know you'll make the best decision for your guy.

    Glad you guys got some rain and hopefully there is more on the horizon that doesn't evaporate.

    1. for real tho, that's maybe the biggest benefit of having a schooled horse at this point. in the past i always felt like i had to keep him going and working and practicing so that he knew and understood his job... but, he's pretty much got it at this point lol. definitely nice to know he can sit back and relax and still basically get us around when it counts!

  7. Most of the storms have passed by me too, but fortunately we got a little rain the other night. Which, perfect timing right? Watered the ring for me, but didn't interfere with actually riding! It's been so humid here though, the bugs are a real problem. Yesterday I thought Pammon was going to lay down while I was trying to ride him. The flies were latching on and wouldn't let go!

    1. omg the bugs.... ours have started going after people too, not just the horses. and charlie is so friggin dramatic and sad when he gets bitten...

  8. Our ground is hard too for the same reason. It’s raining here today and I’m so grateful.

    1. fingers crossed the rain really soaks in, and that more comes in the forecast!!

  9. Lol amaze is definitely not the word I had in mind to describe this shitshow of a year =)


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