Tuesday, February 7, 2017

ball so hard university

Can we talk for a moment about that ridiculous feeling when you ask your trainer to grab the measuring stick to confirm that, Yes Indeed, the 17hh horse has conquered 2'!! lolol.....

Ahhh foolish pride. It's one hell of a drug!!

who cares that the jump barely reaches his knees. we celebrate all milestones, large and small, here at 'fraidy cat eventing!!!
In all seriousness tho, It feels so good to be back in weekly lessons at OF. And Charlie's certainly benefiting from the routine! We've been very lucky with the weather around here lately (as in, trees are budding and spring flowers are blooming... in the first week of February.... crazy) so even with the occasional night below freezing, the outdoor arena at OF has stayed rideable.

plus they laid down new footing on the path up to the ring! no more mud!!
The routine is doing me good too bc it's helping me be better about my expectations for Charlie. That whole thing about staying disciplined and continuing to ask him for more and better. It's not enough any more to just shuffle around at trot while we wait our turn to jump. And I must not let myself be satisfied with 'quiet and easy going' bc I think Charlie would resist being asked for more. No sense waiting to have that conversation if that's the case anyway, right?

i make charlie watch the other horses go so that maybe he'll learn a thing or two from them haha
Charlie's been doing better about the whole 'resisting being driven forward' thing, mostly bc I'm forcing myself to be as consistent as possible. When my leg goes on, he either spurts forward (and gets rewarded) or I ask again stronger. By being really purposeful here, we're getting to that crossroads of resistance sooner in the ride - with Charlie testing whether or not I'm really serious.

casual about the blue panels
On one hand, it's annoying that he keeps testing me on this, and that the behavior continues to crop up throughout a ride. I don't think I'm deluding myself that it's getting better, tho. Yes, he puts his head way up in the air and does his "dinosaur stuck in tar pit" impression more often, and sooner, in our rides lately. But it no longer feels like we're crashing into a solid wall of resistance that I can't break through.

so much fun to canter around!!! even if my suggestions re: lead often go unheeded
And, in fact, he's not even breaking stride any more, really (compared to earlier days when we would sometimes grind all the way down to a halt and get completely stuck). We're managing to work through the stickiness a little faster. Plus it's like a switch flips once he decides to go - everything is suddenly simple smooth sailing and we just cruise around like nbd.

charlie's patented 'dinosaur stuck in tar pit' impression. i won't be sad when we're past this!!
This gives me hope that these little conversations about "Yes I Mean It" will eventually recede into the past.... fingers crossed haha! And in the meantime I just keep reminding Charlie that the beatings will continue until morale improves lol. (kidding! sorta!) 

go baby, GO!!
Once Charlie gets going tho, ahhhh he is just SO FUN. And it really truly feels like he knows where his legs are now. I think all the trail riding has really helped in that department. His body awareness is just light years ahead of where we started!

wheeeee!!!
We started with the same approach as last week - just kinda trotting and cantering around, catching little jumps here and there, while everyone else warmed up over bigger stuff. Charlie definitely remembered the game and jumped well!!

"big jumps" require a very serious effort haha (and an apparently surprised rider!)
Mostly tho, after that, we stuck to working over a simple outside line again and again. First figuring out the striding (a balanced 5, Emma) and then bumping the jumps up a hole!! Charlie was super gung ho too - often breaking into canter three strides before the first fence and marching right on down the line.

Eventually I'd prefer that he trots all the way to the base... but so far he has shown zero inclination to race at the fences, and my guess is that he's actually working on his own eye since he figured out the early canter strides pretty well. So. Ya know. I'm cool with it haha!

figuring it out, slowly but surely!!
Maybe the coolest feeling, tho, was in recognizing that Charlie's become so consistent now that the next big step is actually shifting focus back to me as a rider. What are my hands doing? How is my balance? Am I staying out of his way? Are my legs slipping? Am I guiding him straight down our track or allowing him to drift?

Obviously there's always room for rider improvement (especially a rider like yours truly, who hasn't jumped regularly since.... gosh, July? August? And not on my own horse since June...), but often with such a green horse we end up focusing entirely on them and whatever they're doing, and just sorta riding in a defensive or very neutral position.


I've mostly just stayed sitting chilly for everything, bc Charlie wasn't really actually jumping in our earliest lessons anyway. Plus there was a high likelihood that he might eat shit and face plant on landing haha so.... leaning forward was a BAD idea!

But I think we're officially to the point now where I need to pay more attention to my own self and be a little more responsible as a rider. Obvi tho, that doesn't mean that I should start micromanaging his every move (plz no, Emma!) - he's figuring it out well enough on his own haha.

gotta love the longer and longer days too!
In time, tho. It's kinda weird to be excited by the prospect of working on my own weaknesses again. But ya know, it's been a while haha. There was a brief period in my riding life where I just felt so strong in my position and balance. It sure would be nice to get back there!!

We're gettin there, tho. One jump at a time. And I'm ridiculously pleased that the big guy has started the "move up" from elementary to intro haha. Surely I'm not the only one who gets excited by even the smallest (literally lol) signs of progress???

44 comments:

  1. "dinosaur stuck in tar pit" Hahahaa, I love this description! He's looking great and I can really see an improvement :) Love following your journey with him !

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    1. ha thanks! he's getting better every week!!

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  2. Progress is progress no matter how "small"!! I really admire our slow and easy way of going with him. So many people rush it and while you may not be going around at the height you want, I am convinced it will pay dividends in the long run for you two.

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    1. honestly i really dont' care how high we're jumping - i just love being back on a track again, working on getting incrementally better. the pace of our progress is not at all my priority - just that we are MAKING progress. so far so good!! :D

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  3. Next up for Charlie Murray: ROLEX!! He looks like he has SUCH a better grasp on where to put his feet, the big dude is looking great! And Brita's commentary/cheering totally made the video complete. Everyone should watch that with the sound on!

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    1. ha thanks - i'm gonna tell her you said that ;) and yea charlie really feels like he's figuring the footwork thing out. it's definitely reassuring - it's been a long time actually since i felt like 'omg we're gonna fall down and die!' while riding haha

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  4. The tar pit imagery is killing me. Whoot whoot for having the forward discussions earlier on and getting them out of the way then doing work! Slow and steady 😀

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    1. ha it really is a fitting descriptor tho!! plus it's more fun to think about him that way than a few other less adorable alternatives haha.

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  5. I'm so very jealous of you ability to ride outside.

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    1. it's pretty crazy how mild this winter has been, that's for sure. all of the trees are well into budding, and i'm filled with this weird sense of dread that we're still gonna get hit with some whopper of a winter storm or cold snap, then all the buds and plants are gonna be spoiled for the year.... (sliiiightly melodramatic haha but it is what it is)

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  6. I just love how you are bringing him along, and for the most part(dinosaur moments aside), he looks just so sweet and happy to try his little heart out for you!

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    1. ha thanks - the dinosaur moments are definitely weird little anomalies that i'm hopeful will disappear entirely (eventually). really tho, he's just been so wonderful and easy to work with!

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  7. what an exciting post and wow he really is figuring it out! so excited to see how he comes along! YAY You and Charlie! :) (PS yes this weather has been amazing BUT BUT BUT for some reason WORK is hindering my ability to actually RIDE ARGHH) I have a dressage lesson tomorrow and actually TOOK off work just to make sure I could get it to it! Supposed to be warm too! YAY...:) it is the little things! Anyway congrats on Charlie's light bulb moments coming closer and closer together!

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    1. it's gonna be 70 today, which is.... crazy talk haha. lame about the work keeping you out of the saddle tho - i don't blame you one bit for taking PTO just to get out and about! have a great lesson!

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  8. I'm excited about the progress and fences! Our footing (such as it is) is still mud so no fences yet except at lesson on kindly packer Nani. But, lots of road work outings for da Bird, so that's good. Also, Project Horse Zipper had his first solo driveway ride yesterday in which he was a complete trooper and did all his beginner-horse-skills. (Walk on, turn left, turn right, halt, back up, stand still, one-rein-stop to left, one-rein to right.) Okay, it was five minutes, but he still did a great job. Good boy, Zipper! I can't wait for spring!

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    1. everything not paved or covered in footing here is mud too, for sure. it's been wet! and yay Zipper haha - a solid good five minutes is totally worth it imo ;)

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  9. Wow he is really starting to look like a grown up! While your day-to-day may be small progress, take a look at where he came from. You guys are doing fantastic. Congrats!

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    1. ha oh trust me, the difference in how he feels under saddle now compared to two months ago is just massive! things that felt impossible earlier on suddenly don't seem like such a big deal now - like that dinky 2' fence, or like cantering sharp turns. kinda wild lol

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  10. Great progress! Soon the "do you really want to me go forward" testing will just be every few rides and then you can start the "yes go forward, but also compress a bit and work hard, and YES still go forward" ;-) You got this Emma!

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    1. thanks! that's what i'm hoping! when he's engaged in going, we're really able to start working on refining the details a little bit, which is exciting. like, at least the 'not going' thing isn't actually constant, it's almost exclusively relegated to moments in time

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  11. the photo captions made me LOL

    thats great you're getting to the point where you feel like you can focus on yourself again. plus the better you ride, the better he'll go. just by proxy.

    hes so cute.

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    1. ha seriously. that's actually been super apparent with charlie from day one - in a way that surprises me for such a green horse. he is noticeably better when i can get myself correct. it'll be exciting to see how it goes!!

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  12. I wish I'd had more "yes I mean it" conversations early on with Murray. Yves warned me about it in April of this year, and I'm seeing the problem really rear its ugly head right now.

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    1. ehhh it's such a tricky balance. we are where we are right now with charlie partly bc i wanted to make him feel like it's ok to make mistakes, that it's ok for him to be wrong or 'bad' bc the world isn't going to end. that was a big part of our initial trust-building. so now that he doesn't think he's going to actually get beat to shit for making a mistake, he's testing the boundaries of what's now acceptable. it's basically just like a swinging pendulum haha and i always feel like i am a little behind and playing catch up.... but we just deal with it i guess

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  13. Yay Charlie! And Emma! I'm glad that you are getting back into your all the lessons routine (and enjoying it).

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    1. it's such a relief to me to settle back into this normal routine!

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  14. I'm glad you are able to get into a routine, routines are awesome.

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    1. agreed 100% - i'm definitely a creature of habit!

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  15. I've been riding defensively over jumps for oh... forever now it feels like? My trainer threw me on another horse just so I could tell what "normal" was like again and so I could work on only myself and it was a big confidence booster. We're trying to balance it with craziness and sanity but it's horses so you know you're going to get more craziness regardless of how hard you try

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    1. ha basically! i spent all summer long riding different horses, from 'normal' schoolies, to extremely well trained masters, to green beans. and somehow so many of my own riding weaknesses still persist lol

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  16. So much progress. You guys are the cutest pair :)

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    1. aw thanks! he's making it pretty easy so far!

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  17. I feel like the small victories are the most fun with greenies! And you can really start to see his jumping shape at this height! What a cutie!

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    1. definitely agreed re: small victories! and yea i'm excited to see him become more consistent in his physical efforts over the fences, and so far i like what i see!

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  18. yay!!!! i love everything about this! you guys rocked this lesson!!!

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    1. thanks!!!! you and Bella were awesome too!

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  19. You guys are looking so great! I love how quickly the green beans make progress. And I think every accomplishment is well worth celebrating!

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    1. thanks - i love how quickly they make progress too. i mean, the nuanced, subtle and incremental progressions of the more schooled horse are fun too, but it's way easier to tell the difference between "wow he almost just fell on his face!" to "wow he actually jumped the thing!" lol

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  20. I love his great big rolling canter! It looks like such a blast to ride!

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    1. ohhhh man his canter is simply to die for. seriously i just love it!! just wish he wasn't so stingy about stepping up into it!! once he's cantering tho it's just smooooooooth sailing!

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  21. Looks fun and yay for progress! Miss your trailer pics lol

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    1. ha there are plenty more where those came from - i basically always have loads (and loads) of trailer pics.... but generally prefer to use action shots instead whenever possible! have no fear tho, there will be more ;)

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  22. I can definitely relate and look forward to getting into a routine and seeing the slow and steady progress. :)

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