Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Jenny Camp 2017: XC

Ok so I went a little lighter than usual on photographs yesterday, recapping our dressage and stadium phases. Today will not be quite as light. Sorry but the compulsion to document literally everything is strong with me lol.

At least I've got a couple actual nice hq photos from a volunteer jump judge who also brought along her camera. Thanks Lydia Truitt - beautiful shots and I'm so grateful to have them! And hopefully you all will forgive my inclusion of grainy video stills along with the nicer pics haha.

and they're off!!
Anyway. Onto the course. For the first time since picking up eventing in late 2014, I actually stopped by the venue the night before to walk my course. Mostly bc it's so close by Charlie's barn (10min yas!) and other friends were going too.

I'm glad I did tho. The course did not at all meet my expectations, and I don't mean that in a good way. I was... taken by surprise by how large so many of the fences were. I expected a couple "big" ones, but was unprepared especially for the earliest portions of this course.

Luckily, by walking the night before, I was able to familiarize myself with my photos of each jump and reconcile my uneasy mind to the task ahead of us. Oh. It also gave me the impetus to load up on ranitidine. #breakfastofchampions

So by the time I walked my course a second time after dressage with Brita, I already had a fairly well established plan in my head for each jump. Yess.

intro had the option of jumping the bn house to the right too, but we stuck to trotting in over these rails
Jump 1 suited me perfectly - and was actually what I expected the vast majority of the fences to look like. Alas, my expectations were wrong save for this example lol. But that's ok. This was sufficient for me to at least start my course the way I had hoped: moseying out of the start box at an unhurried walk, then trotting on along to the jump and catching our canter on landing.

Mission accomplished - Charlie was right on board with this.

looks a lot like our last jump from loch moy last month. also, for whatever reason, BN's numbers were white on green at this event. Intro was white on blue.
You'll be able to tell in the helmet cam video, but this course was reeeeeally spread out - especially at the beginning. Ain't no other way to get 13 fences in 1,800m than to spread them out, so I guess it makes sense. But these earliest jumps really were quite far apart and invited the horse to hit the accelerator quickly.

My plan to was shoot for an easy breezy canter through the park - no rushing, no revving. So far so good, and Charlie more or less went along with my ideas up to fence two. He got nice and close to this fence, taking stock of it as he went. Perfect

this puppy was wiiiide. also the half-brush look is weird lol
Fence 3 was the first real fence to give me pause on this course. It's just.... Idk. Kinda a strange looking fence. Height wise it's a little anemic for BN (unless you jump the brush, which reached about 3'), but the width is absolutely there. Trainer P advised just going for the non-brush side, since horses would naturally be looking at that gap anyway.

My thoughts were that this fence would tell me what I needed to know about how Charlie would handle the rest of the course. If he backed off it like he had at some of the fences at Loch Moy, I felt it would be possible that we would struggle with the rest of the course. But if he kept coming to it? Well. We'd probably be fine.

Naturally, he kept coming. Jumped it great. Good Boy!

another option with bn. after fence 3, this choice felt obvious
Given fence 3, this option at 4 surprised me. In case it's not super obvious - BN (green number) must jump the house, but Intro (blue number) had the option of either. That left hand jump had a reasonably significant width to it... but still, compared to 3 it was nothing. The only way we were going near that fence was if 3 knocked any wind from our sails.

big-as-a-house horse jumping a house!
Tho naturally I had to remind myself of that as we cruised toward it. Little pep talks, ya know? Like, Emma. You know you need to jump that house. Just jump it. Charlie wants to jump the house. Doooo it. So we did.

Charlie was very honest to the house - and again got in nice and close to figure his own stride out, then jumped it great.

do y'all recognize that pheasant feeder? both of these jumps are from tranquility and i've jumped that feeder approximately 18 thousand times with izzy
It was right about this moment where it "clicked" for Charlie. He knew what we were doing. Felt like he basically understood. And like maybe he could do this whole jumping thing on his own haha. My own influence was.... minimal, to say the least.

I could still steer tho. Which was really all Charlie needed - he just wanted me to tell him where to go, especially if I told him to take the high option, as we did again here.

not sure isabel ever quite cleared it like charlie did this time tho. dear god, horse. haha
Charlie kinda launched at this fence - we were getting a bit strung out and I wasn't thrilled with my lack of brakes.... but at the same time, I'm finally starting to figure out how to stay enough down in my legs such that I don't get totally tossed around in the saddle when he lands.

And it's obviously near impossible to tell from the photo, but when he gets long to the fence like that I can basically just slip my reins out and let him go. He's just so freakin honest. I can't bring myself to lean at the jumps when he goes like this (baggage, yo, I gots it), but at least I'm getting a much better feel for how he goes when he goes like this.

faux ditch - it's just a frame of poles surrounding mulch, no dug out section at all.
The reality, tho, is that he should not go like that haha. Every flyer like that is an indication of our poor quality canter. Actually I recently audited another David O'Conor clinic and took massive amounts of notes bc even tho it was legitimately identical lecture and exercises to last year, I heard it all with fresh ears now that Charlie's in my life. More to come on that soon!

charlie dutifully picked his clod hoppers up, but otherwise ignored it. pc Lydia Truitt
Anyway tho, I just kinda worked with what I had on this course. Including piloting him up to the faux ditch, which he skipped over nbd.

another house! this time not an option, but like. knowing this was on course, why would you take any of the smaller options earlier?
Then off to the next fence - the first actual fence that was not an option with BN. Which like, again. If you know that this cabin is assigned to your course and you must jump it, why would anyone futz with the smaller option fences earlier on course? Idk. The design here was confusing to me.

charlie obvi nailed it. pc Lydia Truitt - jump judge and volunteer photographer extraordinaire!
It didn't matter for our purposes tho. Charlie wasn't about to be slowed down by no house haha! His canter was continuing to get a little more and more strung out with each jump, but this one went more or less ok.

this was the only option that honestly gave me pause. but. emma. high options. dooo eeet. 
This next jump tho proved to me why I really need to work harder on our flat work. Charlie got long and flat and low to this jump too - another option - and actually knocked the fence a little bit too. Nothing terrible, and he didn't land particularly badly. But that long flat jump is reeeeeally not the right answer on cross country. Like, ever.

It's cool tho. In a way, I'm happy with myself for learning to get a little comfortable with Charlie's way of going right now. And hopefully I'll be able to use that new-found comfort to fully address correcting the canter instead of being flustered by nerves or whatever.

charlie likes dem high options haha. but.... it'd maybe be a little nicer if he was more interested in rider feedback or influence. just sayin! pc Lydia Truitt
Anyway, after the triple bar, we finally made the turn back for home. And Charlie DEFINITELY thought this meant making the turn around the backstretch for the finish line. Nine months post-track and homeboy still has it lol.

easy jump, but the approach here promised a challenge: short right hand turn going downhill
We had a tricksy downhill right turn to this hay bale jump that I expected to be way more challenging than it was. I had actually anticipated needing to come back to trot for this particular jump.

#nailedit! pc Lydia Truitt
Ultimately tho the jump rode fine. But in a way, I'm glad that I took it so seriously bc it made me actually sit the horse back a little bit instead of letting him continue to drag me to fences.

this might have been spooky two months ago. now? relegated to speed bump status
He still landed quite strong from it tho, and I actually had to kinda stand up in my stirrups and really give a big strong pull to sit him up a little bit before our next (and second) intro-only jump. I expected this jump to ride either spooky (if the course had not been going well) or to ride like a way-too-small speed bump for the locomotive known as Charlie Murray.

not even gonna apologize for my monkey-on-his-back rider status lol
Hint: the second case proved more true, lol. I shouldn't fuss to much tho, honestly the horse was doing a really nice job of finding his fences. I could really feel him thinking and setting himself up on approach to each and every fence. 

That's not to say that he didn't make mistakes or whatever bc he totally did (you can tell in the video lol), but he was very actively participating in the ride and I appreciated that. Even if it was a touch wild around the edges, he honestly gave me a pretty solid, honest feeling about each and every jump. It felt safe.

water basin! filled undoubtedly with horse-eating snakes!
The issue at the water was really probably my fault. There are a number of ways that I could have ridden it differently that would have not resulted in a 20 even with him having the same reaction.

I brought him up to the backside of the pool first (after wrestling him down to walk, a feat unto itself lol) and got him in to get his feet wet before heading toward the flags. He was spooky and unsettled tho, and I should have taken more time in the water.

top: charlie definitely sees snakes
bottom: "ok, probably no snakes here." (not the splashes haha)
Then when I went around to the flagged side, he immediately ran sideways. And then backwards. Le sigh. I knew I was getting at least one, possibly two, penalties. That's fine tho - bc Charlie certainly did not know. The flags were set such that you could skirt around the water on dry ground while still making it through, so I guided him through that way just to at least avoid further penalties before finally easing him back into the water and moving on.

Perhaps I should have taken him through that "cheat" route of dry ground right off the bat, and then schooled the water with no pressure about penalties. But that's ok. Bc again, from the horse's perspective, the outcomes are the same anyway. He simply does not know what 20pts means, and I'm ok with that.

isabel absolutely dominated this bank each and every time she met it. i had high expectations for charlie to do the same.
Anyway once he was calmly in the water, we carried on with the course - picking up a purposeful trot ("eeeeeasy, charlie!") to the up bank.

and charlie did not disappoint
Good boy took his time getting there, and took a little leg too, but in such a way that felt quite nice. Popped right on up and cantered on along to the final fence on course. Tho naturally he had to add in once lovely stumble through his lead change, bc you just can't be a Charlie and not have at least one stumble per phase haha.

closing the course with a little bench! the 10th of our 13 efforts either shared with bn or with a bn option for intro.
Last fence was an intimidating-to-me bench shared with BN that had a stupid line through uneven ground and around large trees. But I also knew that if Charlie made it to this point on course, the bench wouldn't faze him in the slightest. Spoiler: it totally didn't haha.

Charlie got right on up to a nice cozy spot (good boy!) and popped over. And even came back down to walk pretty easily so I could love on him and hop off and watch him basically pass the fuck out before I could even get his saddle off. 

God I just freakin love this horse. I know we have so much to work on. I know that there are problems with how this course went, and that Charlie's training is nowhere near confirmed or complete or whatever yet. And that I have a lot to fix in my own ride.

But damn, rides like this just go so far in melting away so much of the anxiety and worry that has been weighing me down since last year. Bc guys. We're really doing it. He's really ready, and really fine. And really actually a LOT of fun, omg, to ride.

And most importantly? It is so goddamn easy to just believe in this horse. It's a good feeling, and one I'm savoring for all it's worth. So. Ya know. Thanks for reading along and putting up with my gushing ramblings and grainy video stills lol.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Jenny Camp 2017: Dressage & Stadium

I really hope you guys aren't worn out and tired of all the show recaps lately. It's been a busy spring in Charlieland, I totally get that. And it's not even quite over yet - there's still one more run at Loch Moy before we close out the month of May.

BUT. This show, to me, felt like an important milestone. Jenny Camp had been slated on my idealistic events calendar as Charlie's "move up event" since my earliest ruminations on the horse's debut event season.

A: Enter Fabulous
And maybe you're tired of me finding endless variations of announcing "Charlie's first {whatever}!!!" But I'm gonna go ahead and put Jenny Camp onto a little pedestal of its own anyway, by calling it Charlie's first "full" run through all three phases.

Let me explain: Charlie rode the Beginner Novice Test A for dressage, a full w-t-c test that we will likely be riding for some time to come. He jumped a full stadium course at 2'3 - the full height at which we ought to be competing at present (rather than anything lower). And the real pièce de résistance, cross country, was a full 1,800m track of appropriately sized jumps with all three xc hallmarks (ditch / bank / water) in what honestly amounted to a watered down BN track.

hey look, it's a trot!
And he did it all like a horse who more or less understands his job. It was all more or less pretty easy for him, actually. Obviously that's not to say that we're competitive haha, bc we're definitely not - we finished in last place with a mediocre dressage test and penalties in both jumping phases. But I'm honestly pretty cool with it.

wow, it's a canter too!
Dressage has been a bit tough for us lately. Charlie had a big breakthrough about contact in the week before Fair Hill, was schooling well, then had a baller dressage lesson. But the last week before Jenny Camp showed a bit of a regression, on top of a horse who is maybe understandably a bit body sore from working in a new way.

It's frustrating, but again - I'm ok with it. I knew basically what I was gonna have going into show day and focused on just riding that horse. Our test lacked any of the glimmers and beginnings of give or softness or suppleness that we saw at Fair Hill, and our circles are still too small and misshapen (gah, Emma, c'mon!). But all the transitions happened more or less correctly and in the right places. Small victories, y'all.

I unfortunately misplaced my test so couldn't add the scores and comments to the video - but this test won me my "straight 6's across the board" Bingo! square haha. Every single movement, including the collectives, was either a 6 or 6.5. Comments and feedback were right in line with what we're already working on. So. Ya know. Just gotta keep working.

matching expressions ftw
Our final score of 37.6% was nearly ten points improved from Fair Hill, but the real story is that this tied for 10th of 13, whereas Fair Hill was 6th of 9. In other words, we were still the same distance from last place, but in a more crowded division. So... yea it's really not about the "number" in these events. For me, it's more important to see how we do relative to the pack.

And for right now, we're showing our greenness in the dressage ring in a big way. It's cool tho - Isabel taught me a pretty deep appreciation for dressage (even the low level 'boring' stuff) and Charlie's had enough good moments of finding a 'nice' feel that I think we'll eventually get him to a better place. It might just... take a while lol.

off to a smashing start (puns lol)
 As far as he knows tho, he's the undefeated champion of the world Intro level dressage horse. And I sure as hell ain't gonna try to tell him differently! He thinks he's doing a mighty fine job (just ask him!) and I like that he's quickly figuring out the rhythms of a typical event: arrive at the venue, tack up, warm up, ride the test, then chill at the trailer. Charlie's got that down pat.

And then? When we go to put the tack back on? He knows that means JUMP TIME too :D

we like the left side, ok?
Fortunately he's still a pretty darn quiet guy, even as he figures all this stuff out. Bc the warm up for stadium turned into a zoo basically the moment we arrived. Riders from both the senior and junior splits were warming up simultaneously, and as much as I love seeing kiddos and their ponies out having a blast... some of them just aren't great at steering, ya know? lol...

Charlie didn't care tho. We found ways to keep mostly to ourselves on the flat - then kept the jump warm up super simple: trot the X, trot the vertical. Canter the vertical, canter the oxer. Use both leads as appropriate. Then be done. Good 'nuff.

wish my head wasn't cut off, but i'm still pleased with the fact that i'm carrying my hands more forward
I already mentioned my distaste for this particular stadium course, but here's a little more detail: It was fairly narrow, on a small and decidedly not flat section of ground, with almost every single jump coming up quickly. No related distances - but all bending lines and roll backs. Plus the ground fell away into the corners, making getting too deep into the corners somewhat inadvisable.

The first three were on an S-bend downhill, then a roll back uphill to 4 before another S-bend downhill from 5-6-7-8, then finishing up with the only "long run" back uphill to 9.

Given that Charlie can be quite strong on the landing side of fences, I expected this course to be a REAL challenge for us. At least the hardest turns (IMO) were to the left, Charlie's easier direction.

big horse over tiny fences!!!
Honestly tho? Despite my worry, the big guy came out and surprised me. He was half asleep at fence one and clobbered it good (lol) - then remembered to pick his legs up over the rest of the course. Ambled along, never got strong, came back when I asked, found most of his jumps pretty much fine.

I didn't really bother much with leads bc there was such little space and I didn't want to disturb his rhythm, but he either held the counter canter or made a full change himself when needed. Fine by me!

what can i say but that he's a good boy??
It wasn't necessarily "pretty," but actually it felt more or less "easy." The horse just jumped the jumps. I like it!

In some ways, this might have actually felt like our "easiest" stadium course to date at an event. Maybe the trickier ground worked in my favor? Whatever the case, I was quite pleased with him. The rail was silly and careless, but also totally forgivable at this point IMO. It's actually maybe a bit of a miracle that we hadn't yet had any rails in previous outings, honestly.

So. Two phases down in a competition where each phase was testing Charlie to the fullest measure of his current level of training. And next up? His biggest baddest xc course yet.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Jenny Camp 2017: Last place never felt so good

Happy Monday Everyone! I gotta be the first to admit: today is 100% a day for playing hooky. Sorry not sorry. Hopefully if all goes to plan it'll be another good horsey day with more to write about later, but for now let's talk about the weekend.

It was another long weekend here at 'Fraidy Cat Eventing - with a Saturday jump lesson at OF with trainer P that ended up being a private (yay!) that lasted about ~2 hours (omg so good tho). Then obvi Sunday was show day at MCTA's Jenny Camp!!

yay team! also brita joined the colorful jacket club too. it's a fun club :D (the club also uses bridle tag numbers bc coats like these can't be covered up by pinnies!)
If I'm being 100% honest here, I was apprehensive at best about this show. Like, I was excited about it. And objectively speaking, I knew it would be a fun day - bc how can you not have fun with good horses and good friends at an awesome venue (complete with tailgating, obvi)??

But I wasn't super optimistic about our riding. Charlie has been.... very green this past week. Just kinda in general, ya know? Plus he's also been a bit sore, as I already mentioned his message therapist uncovering some concerns in his poll and elsewhere.

So I didn't necessarily expect the best from our rides. But that's fine - he just needs mileage anyway, ya know? Tho then I walked the jump courses Saturday before the show and felt.... even more apprehensive about the jumping.

covering. ground.
Stadium was roped off in a tear-drop shaped section of fairly tumultuous terrain - complete with lots of down hill jumping and tight turns. And naturally the narrowest section of the arena was on the downhill side.

Then there was cross country. This course was unlike either of the two Intros I've ridden at Jenny Camp in the past. It was.... Bigger: Ten of my 13 jumping efforts were either shared with BN or were flagged such that the BN fence was an option for Intro. And Longer: 1,800m.

At least, tho, the ditch bank and water were exactly as I had hoped they would be: perfect for Charlie's current level of schooling. (Tho, naturally as might be expected with a green horse, we still had some issues here).

happy group at the end of a long day
All told, tho, once it came time to ride - it honestly worked out pretty darn ok.

Our dressage went about as I expected - garnering a score ten points lower than last time, but actually less competitive relative to the rest of our division (funny how that works haha). Stadium was surprisingly better than expected - still had a rail tho.

And cross country was.... rip roaring lol. You're gonna need a seat belt for that helmet cam footage haha. And we did all the high options!

Charlie was just so so good. So honest. Not very educated, while simultaneously not particularly sensitive to rider influence lol.... But good. We picked up a 20 at the water but I'm honestly pretty cool with it. Charlie doesn't exactly know what penalty points are at this point, but he did eventually figure out the right answer. Good 'nuff for now.

We were tied for 10th after dressage and the penalties from stadium and xc dropped us back to 13th. But you're not gonna hear a word of complaint from me. As far as I'm concerned, and as far as Charlie knows, we won. You WILL, however, see a ton of photos and videos lol.


Anyway. More to come later, as always. For now, I hope everyone else had a great weekend too!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

this definitely won't end badly

Haha. Hahahaha. HAHAHA. Ahem. *coughs*

one step at a time
Charlie's a tall horse, right? And I'm not the most flexible person in the world. I have one of those two-step plastic mounting blocks that lives in the truck and was always perfectly sufficient for Isabel. But.... it's admittedly a little, ahem, short for Charlie.

It hasn't really been a major issue yet - all of our lesson barns have mounting blocks. That time we went trail riding at Sweet Air, I was able to use a park bench. Many show venues have blocks too.

But - not all. Fair Hill didn't, and Jenny Camp won't. Former barnmate Rachael has a big old 3-step block that we used at Fair Hill (very convenient as we were parked next to each other anyway) but I prefer to have my own alternative handy for times when I'm alone.

the view from above. those cats definitely aren't plotting, right?
So I've been looking for step ladders. Something that didn't break the bank, doesn't take up a ton of space, and won't kill me to lift in and out of my truck bed.

Enter: eBay, the internet market place definitely not known for shady sellers. This particular step ladder was in fact advertised as "likely to make a very nice plant stand!" But the seller called it 'sturdy' and, in answer to a question I asked, claimed that it could take the weight of a 200lb adult standing on it.

the rustic barnwood look is trendy, right? right?!? oh god i'm gonna die....
Obviously we can believe everything we read on the internet, so I bought it. The price was right and shipping was fast 'n free.

And now it's here. And... Well. Let's just say some of my friends have some reservations about it. I'm stubbornly carrying forward with the plan tho.

But I'm curious: What do you think of this mounting block, would you use it?

Friday, May 19, 2017

jumpin' shark

Happy Friday everyone! I dunno about you, but it feels like we're getting to that time of year where things really start heating up - metaphorically speaking, but also kinda literally too haha.

except when it's raining blargh
Charlie has been keeping "busy" - but it honestly hasn't been quite the right schedule for him for about 3-4 weeks now. For little reasons. A puffy fat leg here. A thrown shoe there. Or maybe the horse is fine, but my work has me away, lately to DC and Chicago. Ya know. Just stuff.

finally actually got relegated to the indoor at OF tho
We're trying to make our rides count tho, and the horse is working well. I think he would do better with a more frequent riding schedule with mostly less intense rides, vs fewer but longer rides. But it is what it is for now.

fun course diagram! effective for practicing tight turns (ridden in a 20x40m arena haha)
Our jump lesson at OF last week was one of those rides following a couple unplanned days off for puffy legs (Charlie is King of the Dings, lemme tell ya). But he actually came out and warmed up quite nicely - despite being stuck in OF's tiny indoor with other horses.

photos from yet another jump lesson, this one two weeks ago
He jumped around well too - just simple single verticals with lots of roll backs, and then a tricksier turn up the centerline to a hog's back oxer. Half the jumps were PVC and Charlie was a little careless with them. But.... the other half were wooden 4x4s so.... that got his attention lol.

so so much to work on..... but i <3 him all the same
It was maybe useful jumping him in the indoor actually bc the closeness of the walls and the tightness of the turns helped with keeping the horse rocked back, so I felt like I could let go more.

Considering the last lesson we had before that (source of these pictures) was kinda a shit show with a too-strong horse followed by an overly busy and micromanaging rider. Any practice I can get with letting go can only help!

so..... have i mentioned he's kinda goofy? one of these days i'm gonna have to make a compilation of all the videos of him just doing..... goofy shit haha. for instance, he had a real moment with this mounting block. lol
Mostly tho, aside from lessons we've kinda just been hangin out at home. On the days when Charlie is deemed unrideable from either fat legs or lost shoes or whatever, I've tried to do some ground work instead. Just to do something, ya know?

finally discovered his candy licky thing. and.... ATE it.
Plus we've sorta been neglecting the ground work now that the horse is more reliable under saddle. But I'm not sure that's actually right. Charlie can be both a little bit of a bully about personal space (wide load!) and can also get a little dull and tuned out. So idk. Maybe we need more practice.

double buckets bc otherwise that hoof goes INTO the bucket and flings food everywhere. also, virtual cookies if you noticed that particular hoof happens to be missing a shoe... blargh
I've also been trying to get us out of the arena a bit too. Especially on days when it feels like we need to get saddle time when we can, but maybe it shouldn't be a very intense day either (like the day after Fair Hill, or last Monday after two back to back lesson days).

sitting on charlie while next to a car is kinda surreal. this is a big horse guys haha
Our trails at Charlie's barn really aren't particularly satisfying.... But there's one easy flat out-n-back path (mostly asphalt, blech) that works well enough to move the horse around for ~15 minutes. It's all gradual incline on the way home too. So maybe it's nice, useful, low impact work for the horse while still at least getting a little mental refreshment?

winning at selfies, amiright? also i sent that far right one to my aunt. she asked if "they were real" lol
Tho I finally got out into the woods with another rider too, and discovered a better loop than what I took last time. If you remember, last time we encountered pretty extreme up- and down-hill sections, plus scarily narrow ledges of trail. There's apparently a milder loop going around the hill side but that stays more on top of the hill, inside that other loop, so it doesn't get quite as intense. It's shorter but much closer to the type of mental break I'd like Charlie to get via trail riding.

i don't have a pic of charlie getting his massage, so enjoy this shot of his massage therapist running barrels on her own charlie. she's kinda a badass (and yess that's pink hair)
And speaking of giving the horse breaks - I'm also trying to stay on top of managing his physical condition and well-being. He's had his favorite equine massage therapist come out a few times over the past month or two for treatments. I haven't been able to be there every time, but she always gives pretty thorough reports.

left side - january 2017. right side - may 2017. slightly different angle but maybe interesting? those shoulders are just so so so uneven. but maybe the muscling has changed a little bit?
This latest time she was a little worried about his general soreness levels - esp through his poll. Poor guy. He's been working really well lately and discovering all these new and unfamiliar ways of carrying himself and flexing his body. That's undoubtedly going to create soreness in the muscles... Just gotta help manage it! Might be time for more chiro tho too.

bird!! this heron likes to stalk the gold fish that get stocked in this campus pond lol
He's also been a little sensitive to the grass lately, I think too. We've had a TON of rain in the past month and the grass has just gotten so so so lush. A couple times Charlie has looked like he might have a little bit of a tummy ache. Ah grass. Such a double edged sword - it's helping to fill in his ribs, but the radical change of so much fresh new growth is a bit of a shock for princess's system!

So it's kinda like we're in this strange place of having lots of little stuff going on, but also maybe not quite striking the right balance. I'm starting to believe that this just tends to be how spring goes around here tho.

Especially given that our season this year started WAY earlier relative to past years. And we knew going into May that it was going to be a bit more jam-packed than normal. So it makes sense that we might still be figuring out the right mechanics of piecing together shows and lessons and purposeful schooling with... ya know... trail rides and quieter days. And accommodating for lost shoes and fat legs, ahem.

It's cool tho. I'm excited to have a good ol' time with all my riding buddies at Jenny Camp this weekend, and am hopeful that I've got Charlie reasonably well-prepared. And next week we'll be back at Loch Moy to run the same track he did last month. Should be good - I just gotta keep working on finding the right balance for the days in between!

Do you ever feel like it takes you a little while to adjust your routine to changes in the season? Do you have a normal 'work plan' for a typical riding week or month? Does it vary throughout the year or depend on whether you're competing or not?