Monday, May 10, 2021

planny plan plans

Y'all already know I'm big into making plans. And planning about the plans I plan on planning. You know how it goes. 

With horses, as with so many other aspects in life, it feels easy to get caught up in doing things a certain "way" and progressing according to a prescribed calendar, defined by seasons and levels etc etc.
guys we are having the NICEST spring right now
I'm starting to figure out tho.... that... Well, planning -- especially when it relates to progressing and growing skillsets -- only really works when you actually know what to expect. Does that make sense? 

oooh and i spy with my little eye -- horses out in a new grass field!!
I've been super lucky to get a few different horses going at 2'6. And now Charlie's the second horse I've brought up to 3'. He's also the first horse I've gotten to be reasonably consistent at 3'3. But... Idk, even tho we've jumped that height for years -- including competitive experience -- I still don't feel confirmed at it. Mostly bc our margin of error at that height is much narrower than I like. 

so happy he's finally on grass -- kinda not loving how angular he is rn... 
And that narrow margin of error is basically what creates this feeling of "not always knowing what to expect." Which is a primary contributor to my various anxieties lol. Last year tho I really tried to just trust the process, trust the horse, and stubbornly hang on to the 'plan' even in the face of all the fuckery 2020 could throw. 

lots of strollin, peepin on the wildlife
And... It really just didn't work out. And I really let that get to me. Really let it affect my enjoyment of this crazy horsey lifestyle. I felt disappointed, or like I'd failed some important test. Rather than, ya know, just acknowledging that, actually, riding is hard. And moving up is harder. 

oh hai bambi!!
So we regrouped. I got back into my former lesson program, and as winter eased into spring, I tried to take a fresh look at what I really need right now from my horse habit. I still want to move up, and jump bigger fences. And I honestly believe Charlie would like that too.... But - first, and most importantly - I need to repair the confidence I broke last year. 

and of course, where there be deer, there be deer ticks too... and, by extension, tick jars gross lol
And need to get back to showing bc it's fun and we like it. Bc dear lord, there is literally no other reason to do it haha. For me, I think that means sticking with heights and levels etc where we feel super comfortable. Which, in Charlie land, is the ~2'9 - 3' sweet spot -- aka, Novice. 

this one apparently tried latching on in a few places in chuck's armpit. dusted the girth with Coat Defense just in case it wanted to rub. was fine tho!
So my plan going into spring time was to basically go out and do ALL the things -- but at N, no worrying about T -- so that I could remember how to not freak out or buckle under pressure etc. And, lol, therefore the very first thing I did this season was get to that Loch Moy cross derby and.... freak out and buckle under the pressure. Whoops?

pics from a schooling session with friends a couple weeks ago
Sooooo ya know, haha, that was kinda a wake up call. And since then I've been more assertive about doing what I need to do to feel ok: more regular lessons, jumping more often, keeping both myself and more horse fitter and more sharp. 

was dry hard ground on a day charlie got his toes did
Charlie absolutely benefits from staying more fit -- but it's still a tricky balance between making sure we get in all the activity without pounding on his feet when the ground is bad. Luckily tho it's been a pretty ok spring so far in terms of rainfall, and I've been able to adapt my plans and schedules to take advantage of softer ground when it's available. 

ended up not being a great ride... which was why i was nervous about the CT
Bc damn... Charlie just does not love hard ground. As evidenced by the sorta crappy solo jump school we had on his freshly trimmed feet a couple weeks ago (source of these pictures). But then we got a little bit of rain right before the CT, and you all saw what an absolute superstar Charlie was on that day. Feeling him click into gear like that is just... wow, so refreshing haha. 

but obvi charlie was a star at the CT -- and, at this week's lesson too
And he was basically exactly the same for our lesson this week. It was an epically long lesson bc we were delayed by a violent but short-lived hail storm. And then it just took forever bc there were riders at different levels doing different heights so everything was constantly getting reset. 

only had helmet cam from this week's lesson tho so... thus the older pics haha
But actually it felt like perfect practice for the next couple outings on our docket: local fun h/j shows where we'll certainly be hanging out and waiting around forever in between turns. And I was super proud of Charlie, too -- he stayed sharp and committed to the task the whole time. 

Including being quite comfortable marching down all the lines on the proper striding. Normally trainer P sets the lines a little short in lessons, but for whatever reason everything in this lesson was at 12' -- two 60' diagonals, a 48' outside and a 24' in and out. 

We added down the diagonals during warm up, but Charlie nailed it when we put the whole course together at the end (video above).

was a splattery sorta day, but in a good way
It was kinda basic as far as lessons go, and might actually be the last lesson with trainer P for a while just due to scheduling issues the next couple weeks. Obviously that's not ideal -- but is just another reason to focus on riding at heights where I feel comfortable and am less likely to panic when we don't get all the prep I'd typically prefer. 

honestly kinda loving the cooler spring weather with plenty of rain
Honestly, tho, I'm kinda excited by the prospect of some schooling h/j shows. Show jumping has consistently been one of Charlie's strongest phases as an event horse but.... lol, it sure as shit ain't mine. Give me a big solid 3'3 house and we're all good. An airy oxer with literally the exact same dimensions?! Gulp... lol. 

spring IS ending tho, so ya know. time to ship out all the blankets for cleaning (a very important process overseen by our very important barn manager, obvi haha)
Charlie generally doesn't share my concerns tho, and these last few jumping rounds -- in the lesson video above, and his round at Thornridge last week -- have been super reassuring. He's a good horse, he can do the thing, and maybe getting in a few extra trips at h/j shows will be just the ticket for easing my mind. Maybe? lol...

It's felt like a slow start to the year for us but... Maybe that'll prove to be a good thing? We'll see, I guess! 


  1. Honestly, I’ve given up on plans. Like, this year I was all ‘I think I can makes plans’ and then people were stupid with COVID and the brakes are on. So I’m a little bitter right now. I’ll get over it. I have no idea if we’re ready for 2nd level or not. And our spring is being shitty- crappy weather on the weekends and nice during the week. *throws hands in air*

    But you guys look good. And I’m excited to hear about some hunter shows.

    1. ugh i'm sorry to hear it's been such a frustrating go lately :( the bitterness is definitely understandable at this point tho -- like, c'mon. people. we KNOW what to do by now, so... just, ya know, do it? anyway tho hopefully things get better in your area asap!

  2. I'm having anxiety about trying to make plans! Lol! But I like your approach a lot and I'm trying to do the same. Just jump what feels comfortable until it's boring. Then we'll jump a little bigger.
    Glad Charlie is feeling great this spring! I'm always so surprised when my eventer friends feel anxious about stadium. I'm totally the opposite. The thought of jumping a house makes me think I'll need a change of pants, but a big airy oxer? I'm here for that. (Well... maybe not big.)

    1. yea i mean, realistically, my plan is basically to do what feels doable so long as it also seems like fun haha. i'm hoping it's a virtually fool-proof plan LOL.

      i think the thing i worry most about in stadium is... it's not as intuitive to the horses. like, you don't have to explain a solid xc fence to a horse. they understand that they either have to get over it, or make alternative plans LOL. meanwhile, in stadium, i often feel a little too influential for our own good haha...

  3. All we can be is flexible, which is hard, since our brains want to not be flexible. I think you have some really sound plans and as always I'm here for your journey with Charles in Charge!

  4. I like these plans! Can't wait to read more about them. I think sticking at a height where you are super comfortable to get your mojo back is a great idea, you're still gonna have a blast!

  5. I feel you so hard on the hard ground, princess toes problem. That was a big problem for us at our last barn. It also influences which shows we can or can't do, because the footing at our local show circuit in the "little" ring is just god awful. So it means staying at home until he can handle the bigger ring/classes. It's such a hard problem to work through!

    1. I feel you both on that too!! Back when I was jumping a thoroughbred, Magic just couldn't take the tiniest bit of hard ground either. Comes with the territory of flat feet, I guess.


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