Wednesday, August 25, 2021

more pics + a comparison

I got a few more pics from our CT at Thornridge Manor last weekend -- courtesy of Bethany P Photography -- and honestly am kinda in love with them. 

Obvi these are the absolute *most* cherry-picked of the whole bunch. Like... If you're going to spend nearly the cost of the entry on 2 photos, gotta pick the best, right? But they feel representative of how Charlie went in this test, for which he earned a 31.7% (would have been a 30.7% had I not gone off course...).

he's easy on the eyes <3
Since I got such a nice candid shot from last month's outing, this time I wanted two good action shots -- including one at canter. And for each, I chose the pic where Charlie showed the most lift through his shoulder and wither. 

"Lift" is not really something we got a lot of with this horse, let's be honest. Nor is there much in the way of "suspension" lol. The moments can be fleeting, few and far between. But, again as I wrote in the actual show recap, we managed to get the warm up just right so that Charlie was primed to perform his best in the test -- and these photos feel like a testament to that. 

Charlie was more forward, and therefore had an easier time propelling himself up and off the ground. 

i love his thick, wild mane and glossy coat
It's interesting to compare to older pictures too, like the below from Loch Moy in 2019. All things considered, Charlie and I are still at the same level of competition as we were then -- novice eventing  / first level dressage. But a lot has changed in how we go. 

Learning how to ride Charlie on the flat has been a constant evolution. Isabel was the first horse I ever actually seriously tried to get 'on the bit' -- and the primary focus with her always revolved around lengthening her neck and not curling. The switch from her to Charlie was..... enormous lol. Charlie's defining characteristic is his extreme physical length lol. 

So the difficulty with him has always been in getting him to sorta shorten his body from nose to tail -- to be less rangy, less strung out -- but without sacrificing stride length or shortening his top line. How to preserve a long topline on a horse whose body you want to shorten? 

flashback to april 2019, first show of the year at novice. we earned a 36.9% in this test
pc Austen Gage
I've written a lot already about how we 'kinda gave up' on dressage last winter, but the gist was that I basically stopped fussing with the bridle altogether -- opting instead to ride exclusively in our hackamore. And in the meantime, just focused on keeping the horse moving forward in a steady rhythm while working on my own position (har har). 

And while that approach didn't necessarily fix everything, it felt like an effective "reset" for us, and helped break a couple really bad habits:: like riding the horse too much front to back, too backward and behind the leg, in order to get him "round" (bunny ears intentional there).

It feels like we're both a little happier in the work -- not fighting as much or picking at the details. Which.... ya know.... is kinda the whole point. I want to walk away from our rides -- at shows, at home, anywhere -- with Charlie strutting like a champion rather than wilted and relieved it's over. 

Bc it's supposed to be fun, right? And, as far as I'm concerned, Charlie has all the pieces for first level to be well and truly FUN for us. Tho, lol, let's not talk about second level -- even just a brief scan over those tests convinced me that Charlie would 100% feel personally victimized by that level - so... thanks, but no thanks!

Obvi a couple photos cherry picked from a 4min test will never really tell the full story. But these photos above from last weekend feel validating that we're on the right track, in terms of my own personal objectives. 


  1. Those are absolutely gorgeous!

  2. Beautiful photos! I love your boots with that shirt! And Charlie is looking ever so handsome and strong.

  3. Those pictures definitely tell a story. He looks amazing and it's a testament to how you've worked with him. It's so easy to fuss with the mouth (*raises guilty hand*) when the answer is the hind end.

  4. You went from driving a sports car to a giant yacht (I know that feel lol). He looks really good, you have a lot of be proud of in your journey together as a team.

  5. You two are looking so fabulous! And I agree: it's supposed to be fun when you're done with a show at the end of the day. This seemed like such a great outing for you two :)

  6. He looks like a different horse compared to the older photo! His whole body looks stronger! I think hitting the reset button like you did is hugely helpful for horses (and our relationships with them). Nice work!

  7. He looks so happy in his work, and I love that open throatlatch!


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