Monday, February 28, 2022

slightly bigger sticks -- slightly

Is it just me, or does it feel like suddenly we're doing a lot of jumping again lately?? I know it partly just feels that way bc I've been lucky to snag recent media... and we all know that pictures are the engine that drives blogging, amirite? Lol...

rollin back on my giant bronto
But also.... Damn, it does feel like we've been ratcheting it back up again. And I like it! Weather has been mild, horses have been hale, and calendars are sparking back to life. Including lesson schedules with new trainer-on-trial, KGK! 

remember back in the day when izzy and i had all those problems with lattice fences?
For those not keeping track at home, this is our third lesson with a new trainer who is not originally from around here but has an impressive resume in upper level eventing and grand prix show jumping. I learned about her program after seeing a lesson package offered in a recent silent auction, and while I didn't win the bidding, a quick cursory creep around the google made me think she could be a good fit. 

On one hand.... It's not ideal to ship out for regular jumping lessons again. I know I shouldn't complain bc I'm lucky to even have a trailer, let alone so many close-to-home venue options. But it takes a toll, ya know? Shipping out generally means a minimum of 3 extra hours devoted to the lesson; plus obviously fuel and wear+tear on my towing rig; and, possibly most important -- the impact on my horse. 

dialing it in
So I'm trying to temper my excitement about impending spring by striving to strike a balance for Charlie. Luckily, ensuring he always has company on the trailer is working out so far too, as Megan and Royal joined us again for this lesson -- and had a really great time! So I'm hopeful we'll be able to more or less keep that rolling.

riding with a lot more leg than we've been doing lately
And guys -- it was a good lesson! KGK had us riding with a different group this time -- including someone else I've known for a while who is extremely active and well respected within the community. Obvi I'll ultimately make my own choices about training relationships, but it was kinda this cool feeling seeing that friend pull in for the lesson like, oh if SHE is riding with this coach, this coach is probably the real deal!

love the light filtering through his tail <3
I also suspect KGK figured the new grouping might be a better fit in terms of experience and goals. Not that there was anything wrong with the ladies we rode with last time, but their horses were just in different places. So for this group, while the warm up fences were still pretty tiny, we actually got to bump up in height fairly quickly and finished over some fences that felt properly "large" to me lol.

fire breathing silhouette <3
The courses were pretty fun too -- lots of twisty turns and sneaky bends. So far, we've mostly done just single fences, and the occasional outside line. But actually, that outside line is in the exact same place it was last time we were here --- so I'm starting to suspect jump placement and configuration might not really be up to KGK, since we're essentially all just renting the ring out for these lessons.

oooooh it's slightly bigger this time yay!
She also kinda made it sound like maybe she doesn't make many assumptions about "low level" horses doing combinations, either. Tho of course, y'all already know our horses that have been raised up in Trainer P's program are basically grid savants, so we love combinations. Hopefully some of those will appear in courses eventually. 

and i'm still drifting left lol, obvi
Last little course observation -- she doesn't utilize many oxers. Maybe to ensure as many options for bi-directional fences as possible....? And maybe again bc they aren't her courses. I tend to like oxers for Charlie, but these jumps do have a lot of solid fill which at least helps inspire better form even for verticals. 

omg are we actually jumping 3' in a lesson again?? omg!
For Charlie, I kinda started experimenting with how much leg I kept on around the course. Our early warm up round over the 2' jumps was... inconsistent -- little long here, little short there. Partly bc it's hard to see a distance to a tiny jump with this horse, and partly bc I try to keep him more packaged up on the add stride when they're low --- but then we kinda end up crawling over some, or leaping over others.

honestly probably don't deserve this horse
After goosing him pretty good to a long spot over the low course, I decided to try to keep more leg on, more consistently, the whole way around. I'm not entirely sure Charlie loved it -- possibly bc he felt a little hassled by it. But.... It also made a really big difference in getting a good shot into the jumps. 

and another silhouette bc you're not the boss of me
The landings tho... Lol, well. Yea I goosed him a couple times so we had some fairly strong landings lol. It was an interesting feeling, tho, esp given all the work I've done in lessons with Molly about taking my leg off. There's definitely got to be a balance where my leg can be ON for jumping, but in a supportive way that gets us to the jumps without harassing the horse. 

low plank + high(ish) bar ain't nbd for charlie!
The horse might just have also been feeling generally vaguely harassed anyway tho, tbh. Idk if he's just feeling the physical effects of ramping back up again. Or from finally being able to get back out into the xc fields for hill work again (omg so fun!). Or ya know, maybe it's just time for his annual hock maintenance. Probably that last bit, lol, so we'll get that scheduled in the next 2-6 weeks probably.

finished over a little trick fence -- just a piece of fill, but narrow with no standards whee!!
He was a very good horse and was jumping in great form. But.... Just wasn't very keen on his flying changes. Obvi I suck at changes, so I rely pretty heavily on Charles to whip out his auto changes. And usually when he's feeling gung ho and strong -- like he was in this ride -- the auto changes are right there. 

But.... They just weren't quite where I expected them to be, probably bc he was just a little too far out behind to make it happen. Thus my hypothesis that he's ready for a little juice. We'll see what the vet says tho!

Mostly tho it just felt so so SO GOOD to get back into the groove. These were definitely some of the biggest jumps we've seen in a lesson in.... Ages. And some of them were definitely a little bigger than Charlie and I have seen in any of our little schooling shows this past year. 

But they felt good. Easy, even tho obvi we made plenty of mistakes. And suddenly, once the jumps were up -- Charlie was right there ready to do the horse stride down the lines that we added in last time

So idk. I feel good. I'm excited for where we are right now. Excited to ease into a new season with fresh eyes and a different perspective from last year, where we still felt weighed down after the shit-show that was 2020. It's early days still tho, lol, so we'll see what happens haha.


  1. You guys look great!!! Charlie's face in the first corner where you did the simple change cracked me up though - "MOM we don't TROT during courses!!"

    1. lol he was so funny -- he has so many opinions now on the way things ought to be as we go around, and doesn't always appreciate when i try to add to the conversation!

  2. Yay, love seeing you guys over bigger stuff!

  3. Look at you go! Some of those jumps are huge!!

    1. i thought i would be more nervous, but i guess i've been bitching about it long enough that it was like, "yes, finally!" lol.....

  4. Charlie is jumping GREAT! Glad to hear things are going well for the most part. I agree about the shipping to lessons, and I don't think I'd be any good at it. So props to you for putting in that time and commitment.
    Eros also will start missing his changes when it's time for hocks, so hopefully that issue will go away for you once you do the maintenance.

    1. that's good to hear about Eros -- i'm always just trying to put puzzle pieces together about what charlie needs and when, ya know? anyway, omg i was honestly pretty surprised how good chuck looked over the jumps <3 it makes all that shipping out effort worth it haha, at least for now!

  5. I totally agree- sometimes it's so hard to find a distance to a small jump! Glad you are feeling like you are on a roll.

  6. Good boy Charlie! He looks very happy and very focused

  7. ooo skinnies with no standards are harrrdddd! Good job Emma and Charles! I'm excited where this new trainer will help you go and the things you'll achieve in your partnership this year!


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