Wednesday, March 10, 2021

feedback loops

Things have warmed and dried up in the past week, creating pretty pleasant conditions --- esp combined with the lengthening days. Our barn remains closed from 4:30-5:30pm for Covid safety but with sunset at 6pm+ that still gives us time to actually log semi-daylight weeknight rides!

trail rides at sunset!
In the past week, that has included an evening trail ride with barn mates, a (possibly ill-advised) jump school under the lights in anticipation of the derby, and our normal flat rides in the lighted dressage court. Plus our standard weekend jump lesson with trainer P. 

cuties at the round bale
My hope for the evening jump school was to get into the outdoor for the first time in about a month in hopes that Charlie would feel a little more forward with more space. I figured if that ride was productive enough, maybe I'd skip the weekend lesson. 

So we got up there as quickly as possible and threw up some fairly conservative jumps --- tho included one short one-stride gymnastic. 

the most pixelated pic ever, but i'll take what i can get! this bright white box was basically the only safe jump by the end
I call that ride "potentially ill-advised" bc.... Well, lol, we plain old ran out of light. And the in-and-out I'd set was in the darkest corner of the ring with dark brown standards and poles. 

I tried to jump Charlie through it once and, while we didn't exactly die, it was a very unconvincing effort. Likely bc... Charlie probably couldn't fucking see the jump, whoops. 

you know me, tho, always happy to milk every medium for all it's worth!
So after that, we stuck to the white jumps closest to the lights and did a few more reps with a good feeling before calling it a night. The above was our final effort. Notably: Charlie jumps this just fine. Without a care in the world. Zero effort, and probably zero care, too. Which.... Is nice. But.... isn't exactly peak potential, ya know what I mean? 

And I PROMISE I was kinda kicking along the whole ride. We didn't really miss to anything (other than the invisible jump, whoops) but it honestly felt a bit like Charlie was phoning it in. 

charlie's #sadmarediaries ears were a theme in this ride
So.... I felt like we should probably do our Saturday lesson too -- and focus a little harder on getting the horse in front of my leg. Tho, sadly, I forgot my spurs at home, ugh. I've been riding in country boots all winter -- which the spurs don't fit over. So I guess I'm just out of the habit for remembering all the normal gadgets. Anyway, spurs would have been useful.

every now and then we a got an interested ear tho!
Bc Charlie was suuuuuulkyyyyy ugh. He never full-on refused to move, never threw down about anything. But.... He was also kinda floating jusssst above The Line on what sort of response is acceptable when I ask him to go forward. 

Well. Ok, let's be real. That's not actually true. Every time I put my leg on, Charlie hollowed out, dropped the bit and pinned his ears. You can clearly tell in the video any moment where I'm putting my leg on.

esp to this standalone oxer with a long straight approach. shockingly, homeboy nailed this every time
Plus he was being extra fussy with the bridle. I opted to school in our elevator bit, as we've done for all our jump lessons this winter. None of the adjustments on it were changed or anything, but.... Idk, he felt super reactive to it. 

sweet charlie <3
Trainer P took a look inside to check that nothing was pinched or raw looking (negative), and opted to undo the curb strap from one side of the bit and loop it through the noseband so that it was effectively neutral without needing to be completely removed. This seemed to help... but, eh, idk, Charlie was kinda just out of sorts.  

getting untacked in the doorway bc somebody (not naming any names here) will 1,000% pee in the aisle post-ride if he's left in the crossties for literally anything longer than 30seconds
The exercises were suuuuuper simple -- warming up over a couple singles, working down a 60' line (in which my moody bronto needed to be kicked up to get the five....), a simple 18' grid, and a long straight approach to a standalone oxer. 

Our biggest issues were just getting started. Like, the stop-and-go of schooling makes basically every jump "Jump 1." When meanwhile, once Charlie gets going he clicks more into gear so that by the time we get to jumps 4 or 5, he's moving much more forward. But jump 1 was always sticky.

We also kinda got bogged down in the turns too ---- especially what felt like a fairly short sharp turn to the grid. Charlie was uncharacteristically grumpy about that grid too. Normally he seems to love those types of exercises but... Idk. 

random screenshot from the video of my tack locker's current conditions. yes that is FOUR bridles for my one single horse....
On one hand I don't love that sulky sucked back feeling from Charlie since it reminds me so much of that awful catastrophe of a run we had at Plantation a couple years ago (when we got high-centered on the most innocuous coop ever bc Charlie just would.not.go.). 

Realistically, tho, there's some low hanging fruit we can harvest before fully flipping out about any training issues. Chief among them: getting Charlie up to date on his annual maintenance. 

and a Mikey cat just because <3
So Charlie will get a visit from his favorite vet to check in on his overall health and wellness, and will probably get a little extra special TLC for his hocks. Then maybe another visit with his favorite acupuncturist? Idk, we'll see haha. 

Charlie's such a sensitive soul haha, I'm hoping all he needs is a little tune up. Feels like the right time of year to check off all these boxes anyway, tbh. Somehow we ended up on a Fall maintenance schedule, which always felt suboptimal. So this year we just kinda opted to push through the winter and see if it worked. 

I think it did work, more or less, but it's probably definitely time now. Fingers crossed it'll do the trick. Anybody else looking for a little medicinal / chemical / therapeutic assistance to help shake the rust off? 


  1. Cosmo just got some joint juice 2 weeks ago and he feels G O O D. Hopefully that will help Charlie rekindle his fire, too :0)

    1. Oooh super glad to hear that Mo is feeling so good with his TLC!! Definitely hopeful Charlie will feel the same. Tho now I feel like a jackass bc the weather during his three day stint on stall rest is GORGEOUS, go figure and now he’s stuck inside ugh lol

  2. Fingers crossed he just needs maintenance to get him feeling like his best self!

    1. i'm feeling hopeful haha, we'll see tho i guess!

  3. I used some chemical maintenance for Gwyn and it revealed we needed a liiiiitle bit more chemical maintenance. But at least now I know for the following years to keep her comfortable and lubricated.

    1. i'm all about that better living through chemistry! here's hoping your approach pays dividends for Gwyn too!

  4. Call it Spring Maintenance, lol.
    Hope Charlie is feeling more agreeable soon!


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