Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Thornridge CT - Half 'n Half Edition

We're getting to the pointy end of Thornridge's annual Combined Test series, with just one more event left to go next month. Charlie and I have actually made it to all of them so far this year, except one that got rained out, and I've honestly loved it. 

These are kinda the perfect events for us right now, and the monthly cadence is useful for keeping us more or less 'in shape' during our current lesson limbo situation. 

collecting my precious on what proved to be a humid fall morning
Tho... Lol... Lesson limbo is not ideal, and I definitely feel like Charlie's and my technique over fences has suffered from lack of routine practice. At least the week before this CT, we buckled down and actually set up a little grid exercise to prepare. 

After reading about Kat doing a similar exercise with her TB Yoshi, I decided to set up a grid of extra large X-rails (think poles set to the top of the standards, tho the center of the X was obvi still pretty low). Originally I planned to do a line of 4 X's, but bleh moving standards sucks, so I just did 2 X's instead haha, set 18' apart for a short one-stride #lazy

Barn Mgr Mikey, signing off on our plans!
I figured this would be a useful exercise to help Charlie tighten up his form, while also being relatively easy to do without progression or a ground crew. There were also a couple other nice jumps set up in the ring -- including a two stride line to narrow oxer. So all in all, a nice set of options for our prep ride. 

And Charlie was super! He got to the line of X's and jumped the shit out of them haha, what a good boy. I really hoped that might be enough to maybe help us jump cleaner at the CT. 
in case anybody forgot how damn lovely this indoor is (used for warm up)
And obvi I was hoping our recent foray into first level dressage might help that plain 2018 Novice test (omg thoughts on the 2022 version coming soon tho omg) ride more smoothly. 

Which -- it did! It was the same judge from our June dressage show, so I was determined to show her that we can go a bit more forward in our paces. 

32.6% to beat our average -- and win the dressage! 
Charlie and I were the first in the ring after what was an economical but pleasant warm up, and overall the test went relatively smoothly. Tho, interestingly, I didn't really feel great about it. Kinda felt like I had a harder time sticking to my "new position" and that we reverted a bit. Honestly figured it'd be a last place score. 

For once, tho, we were rewarded for our steadiness and consistency (even if it was kinda 'consistently above the bit'), compared to the other two horses in our class. They were very nice horses, but maybe greener and a bit more inconstant in their carriage. Way to go, Charlie! 

ethereal misty mugginess
After that, it was an hour wait until our jump time. We'd arrived early enough to walk the course before dressage (my preference with such a short break), so we could relax and take it easy, getting the studs in and any other tack modifications completed at a calm pace. 

lots of horses find the hanging ferns and lettered panel (other side) to be spooky. not charlie, tho, he casually knocked this one with a hind
Even tho temps were cooler than they have been, the humidity was still enough to make me wanna keep warm up to a minimum. So we got down to jump about 15min ahead of go-time, and set about trotting and cantering around. 

guys we cantered on BOTH our leads this time!! in generally the correct directions!
Charlie was SUPER for the warm up. All the jumps arrived evenly in stride, nothing particularly tight or gappy. I even decided to angle one of the warm up jumps off our left lead, since there was a turn on course that I definitely didn't like, and was considering creative alternatives haha. And Charlie nailed that angle too, good boy. 

It actually..... Made me feel not great, LOL. Like I almost wanted him to clobber something... Our first two CTs of the year, we had rails in warm up then jumped a clean round. Then the last CT, perfect warm up, but 2 rails on course. So... I was superstitious. 

charlie was super through this gently uphill 4-stride combo -- look at those knees omg!!
But ya know. When it's go time, it's go time. So off we went to do the round after a perfect warm up. And naturally took the very first fence down with a hind. And this is a nice example (esp bc it's so clear in the video) of our technique being a little imperfect.

I could see that it'd be a little long, and am proud of myself for reacting and riding forward to what turned out to be quite a nice distance. But, even so, my position was a bit 'noisy' and probably contributed to Charlie tapping it out of the cups. 

proof: cantering the other direction on the correct lead lol, he even did his auto change for me!
No big deal, tho. These are PVC rails. Give 'em a mean look and they fall. Charlie 100% knows they're PVC too. Like, he's a good boy and he has a conscience and doesn't really wanna knock them down. But... He's also just a casual laid back horse. So... Eh, we get rails. 

Anyway tho, honestly he felt really good and moved around the course quite nicely despite it being a tad slippery. We adjusted for a close spot at Jump 2 going downhill, then Charlie aced moving up to a proper four strides through the combination from Jumps 3 to 4. I expected him to kinda run off with me here, but actually he was wonderful in the turn around to the pink -- heck yes for all that dressage practice paying off!

i did not like the turn from this pink to the outside blue line AT ALL, but charlie made it look easy
And he did a great job in the kinda not-a-great-turn from the pink to the blue outside bending line. The blue line walked in a direct five or bending six. In retrospect, knowing we'd have another tight turn immediately to an end jump (the orange uprights alllll the way in the back of the above pic), we probably should have done the add stride. 

But ya know... I've been trying so hard to ride more forward, that when the 5 was right there for us, I went for it. And it was great! But then we got to the orange hella awkward and Charlie saved my ass by simply leaving earth when earth needed leaving lol. I legit almost ate it, plus obvi we took that rail... Whoops... Charlie's a saint, tho lol! 

From there (referencing again the above pic), we looped right around to the green jump away, then kept tracking right and finished over the purple coming toward the camera. Charlie was perfectly pleasant to both those jumps, and voila! Round complete. 

eventually we'll get both the dressage AND the jumping on the same day, hopefully
Tbh I was disappointed. It's frustrating to make same mistakes, and I was disappointed at having two rails again. Esp that second rail, bc it was such a heinous jump (compared to the first where we had a good feeling at the jump despite the rail). 

I felt better after watching the video, tho (maybe bc the ugliest jump was farthest from the camera LOL). Like, yea it's not super polished. But it's actually fine. Maybe even better than fine, since frustration from not capitalizing on a winning dressage score is an entirely different perspective than being too crippled by anxiety to even try. Ahem. 

So. Overall, I'm gonna call the weekend a win haha -- time well spent with friends and horses. And with one more CT left in the series, maybe - jusssst maybe - we can put all the pieces together by then! 


  1. I would call that a win! PVC rails are so twitchy, one schooling show series uses them, and like you said I swear the horses know.

    1. dude for real.... annoyingly, the other two horses in my division were a lot more green (and probably younger) so they actually found the colorful highly decorated jumps pretty spooky and gave them a lot of room.... thus jumping cleanly womp haha. meanwhile good ol' chuckles just kinda harrumphed right on around lol

  2. Eh, we all make mistakes here and there, that's just part of it. Sounds overall like a really great day! Charlie was ridable and relaxed for both dressage and the jumping. Even if you had a couple rails, the rest of it went great. And like you said, the first rail barely counts since it actually rode nicely.

    1. definitely... like, the first rail i do believe is a solveable mistake (i think it's an issue with my own technique), but getting a good ride and feeling at the jump is good enough for now!

  3. Definitely a win. Congrats on winning dressage and putting in such a consistent test.

  4. I have done the same thing! Too bad there aren’t ribbons after dressage and then after jumping, too! Charlie is such a cool guy 😄

  5. Winner in my book! Congratulations on improving your way of going in front of that judge. I think sometimes judges really do want to see us improve (If they remember us) and will reward us if they can. I know from a philosophical stand point that's where I'd be as a judge. Bummer about the two rails, Ramone was very much the same way, mucking one out in warm up meant a more careful horse where it counted


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